Tuesday, December 28, 2010

so excited!

You know the best, very best part of having miniature Herefords, is the babies.

I did have all my animals pregnancy checked this past summer and fall, and apparently all 4 are "safe with calf". I have to say, also, that my vet is very good at approximating how long they have been pregnant! One cow he checked; said approximately 70 days pregnant....dont you know he was right almost to the day I saw her frolicking with the bull?! (actually, I was away on vacation...my dear husband sent me a grainy picture of the two of them together off his iPhone!)

Anyway I was doing some calender checking, due dates etc. and looking at how big Miss Piggy was looking....come to realize I have 2 cows due in early March!! Thats just 2 months away give or take!! Wow!!

That should be interesting, as March around here is usually mud season with a mix of rain, snow, wind and cold. But I know these guys are tough creatures, and you can bet they will be getting extra TLC and straw when the time comes for the little ones to be born.

Makes it all worth while :)

*Picture of Miss Piggy a week before she calved with Darby, summer 2010*

Monday, December 27, 2010

Apple Crisp Recipe

Ok, so its the dead of winter, not much new in the barnyard....(you know, bundle up, trudge out, feed hay, look at cows, check water, feed more hay, look at cows some more, climb over 2 gates multiple times to clean out barn and bed barn with straw, look at cows again, pet cows, push hay to cows, check light cord so cows don't pull lamp down into barn (no, not a heat lamp....!), look at cows again once more, clean up barn floor chaff, cover hay with tarp, park wheelbarrow (barrel?) on top, look at cows one more time...hey, gotta make getting all bundled up worth it...), go inside...) so I thought I would share some of my all time long time favorite EASY recipes (gosh its nice to be on break!) that my family loves!!

***Now these are easy recipes, not fussy (which I think makes them so good) and most are taken from my mothers old (1950's) Betty Crocker Cookbook (the one thats held together with duck tape and some of the pages are no longer in numeric order......). I cant remember her actually giving it to me when I left home at 21, but it did, and I will not part with it....it has the BEST SIMPLE recipes....I'm sorry, I don't have time to shop for strange funky use-one-time ingredients.... you all know; so many ingredients, one loses focus just reading the recipe (especially those of use with late-in-life ADHD ...!!) (Gee, isnt that what we used to call multi-tasking? Lol!)

**** Ok, here it is....this is the most requested dessert in my house, and what everyone (here) wants for Thanksgiving dessert. Pair it with vanilla ice cream warm from the oven...

**Any multi use or cooking apple will work, any size pan, I make mine in a rectangular Pyrex dish, great for those slightly beat up or dented apples rolling around in the bottom of the crisper drawer that are fine but nobody wants to eat (since they will be peeled and sliced anyway...)

**Make the topping, don't have to be super exact with the ingredients (the beauty of this recipe....)
AND make an extra batch for a baggie/freezer for another time....

**Place in greased pan approx. (Pyrex dish, pie pan, metal square pan, whatever you may have) 4-6 or more, peeled cored apples (about 1/2 the pan depth more or less)

(remember, were baking here, not designing rockets....!)


2/3 to 3/4 packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/3 cup soft butter (yes, use the real stuff!!!!)

**cut the butter through the topping ingredients until combined but not pulverized....leave crumbly chunks...I use a pastry cutter but a fork and knife, whatever, will work to cut and combine.

Feel free to add raisins, cranberries, some nuts, etc into combined topping if you want (although my family loves it just plain...)

**put topping on top of sliced apples in pan

**place in oven (GREAT when your cooking dinner in the oven at the same time)
cook till apples are tender (test with fork should be soft but not applesauce!)

**Recipe says 375 degree oven for approx. 30-35 minutes until apples tender and top golden brown.

I just throw it in the oven alone or with dinner and take out when done....keep your family away from it long enough for it to cool a bit before serving ..... ice cream is the bomb!!!!(fabulous)

This tastes great cold as well (although I doubt it will be around long enough.....) and is fabulous for breakfast as well....(hey.....)

I love this because it is simple, easy and absolutely what an apple crisp should be and nothing else. You can mix varieties of apples too! And kids can make the topping (WARNING: topping may be too delicious for young children to actually make and not eat....proper adult supervision may be needed if "crisp" is to make it to "apple"!)

And sometimes simple is "simply the best"!


Time to go out to the barn* and.....
*see above....

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to all...

We at Middleground Farm would like to wish all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and healthy New Year!

We would like to take this time to say how truly blessed we feel being able to care for our family and home and little herd of cattle; we also would like to remind folks that it is our duty to look after those who may not be as fortunate as ourselves, and help them out any way that we can...

We know that when our "barns are full", we need to give to those who are in need...

"Honor the Lord from your wealth
And from the first of all your produce;
So your barns will be filled with plenty,
And your vats will overflow with new wine." Prov. 3: 9-10

May you find peace, happiness and prosperity this Christmas season and in the coming new year!

The Alu family
Diane, Tony, Alyssa and Jolene

Monday, December 20, 2010

....Launched Apparently

Well, to continue the last post, looks as tho Sprite was "helped" over the fence to the other side, probably while eating next to the fence, didnt see someone coming who thought she needed to be "relocated" and then.....that woven wire fence was not the tightest, having taken the full brunt of the barn roof when it sheered off the barn and sailed through the air during a freak winter storm....
Anyway, being the laid back creatures that they are, it was a matter of a handful of hay, an open gate, and life was back to normal that day.. . A cattle panel made the repair for now, but oh how I need to re-do that barnyard fence!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Well now.....

I guess little Sprite was not too happy about the barnyard setup now that Darby had left; this morning I went out to feed the animals, and looked to see little Sprite on the other side of the barnyard, standing next to her momma. (they had been seperated by a fence / cattle panel, etc). Just as if to say, "this works better for me, thanks!" Now it was dark out still, and from what I could see from the single light in the barn, everything appeared to be normal; no busted fences, pushed in panels or popped open gates.
I took a quick look around the other side of the barnyard, and all looked normal there as well.
So the mystery continues: how did she, exactly, end up on the other side of the barnyard?
I will have to look into things a bit when I get home this afternoon. Perhaps she jumped over the woven wire, or was "launched" by Miss Emerald? I have no idea, but she sure looked pretty smug about things when I saw her.....
Unfortunately, she had just been weaned not a month yet, and I am sure momma would have no problem taking back baby, so, she may be getting a return trip back today!
For now, though, I hope she enjoys her stay!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Last One Gone and Winter Sets In

Ah, the onset of real winter.

We haven't had snow to speak of until last night, really, which for is here in central New York state is a bit unusual...(we are out of reach from Buffalo's well known "lake effect" blizzards that can dump several feet of snow in one evening!). But winter blew in yesterday, just a few hours after our last animal left the farm for the year.

I have to admit, I kinda hated to see him go! Darby was a sweet gentle natured and so handsome a young bull, I definitely would have kept him myself if not for the fact that most of my females are related (closely). That and the fact that little Sprite and him paired up pretty much all the time, being the closest in age...
He went to his new home in eastern New York state, and I know he will have a very good life with his new owners as they start their own herd of registered miniature Herefords; I have to say they are off to a good start and cannot wait to see some of Darby's offspring in the coming years.

Its always nice, too, to see folks come to the farm with a nice clean safe trailer, obviously having the animals best interests in mind as far as safety and comfort is concerned...it was a cold day, and I was relieved to know he would be making his 6 hour journey in a rubber matted straw bedded closed trailer with hay and treats to munch on the way. I always get a bit nervous when it gets this late in the year....loading and trailering an animal to a new home is stressful enough, adding freezing temperatures doesn't help matters. But he arrived safe and sound, and I was relieved to hear he had settled in just fine after he arrived at his new home.

His momma Miss Piggy and Sprite both seemed a little lost the rest of the day, and the barnyard a bit emptier, but that is what we breed our animals for, to raise, to keep, or to sell.
Come spring there will be new babies cavorting through the pastures again, but Darby I will say, was one of my most favorite calves born here yet!

Pictured: Miss Piggy (with Cowbird on her face) and Darby as young calf; Darby's first winter.