Archive for June, 2010

Milking A Cow

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

A “Moo”ving Experience

My internal alarm clanged inside my head and I jerked awake at 5:35 a.m., dog and husband still curled beside me, both snoring, and the sun not yet ready to clock in. I tried to remember why I wanted to be up so early. Realizing that I had a real alarm set, I reached over and shut it off so it wouldn’t awaken either dog or husband. I stumbled out of bed to brush my teeth and wash my face. “Oh yes. I remember now. I’m going to a friend’s to milk a cow.”

Most women my age are facing this time of life with the realization that there is so much out there to do and just too little time to do it. Some of my friends are going on cruises, others are taking road trips to Yellowstone or the Grand Tetons and still others are going back to school. Of course, the cool women are bungee jumping and sky diving. I wasn’t cool in high school and not only am I NOT cool now, but I’m downright cowardly. I can’t even go across the Royal Gorge bridge without getting on my hands and knees to crawl across, carefully avoiding any chance of peeking through the cracks between the bridge timbers to the tens of millions of feet below. Yes, it was me you might have heard screaming, “I have to get off of here!!!” at Six Flags Over Texas, while my 11 year old daughter tried to calm me – on the kiddie Ferris Wheel. Well, I know I heard about those hapless people stuck on the big wheel, just last week!!

Therefore, my adventures into the unknown involve less likelihood of flattened bodies, heights above that of a step stool, or jumping out of any mode of transportation unless the tires are on the asphalt and the vehicle is at a dead standstill. When a young friend kindly offered to let me share in a cool, breezy morning of communing with a cow, I jumped at the opportunity – figuratively speaking of course.

God gave me such a morning! What a gorgeous day. It was a bit humid, but the cool, Oklahoma wind made me take a deep breath, thrilled at being alive in God’s creation. I arrived at the farm home which is nestled among big oak trees, promptly at 6:18am, and met my two young instructors, Jillian and Josiah. I was ready to be taught.

The first thing I noticed was their Wellingtons. I glanced down at my white tennis shoes and wondered if perhaps I had been too optimistic in my ability to stay clean. As we headed to the barnyard, I realized I should have borrowed my husband’s pair of rubber boots, no matter how foolish I’d have looked. I have to add here that I am no stranger to the barnyard. I should have known better. In my past life, as stated in my previous post, sheep, horses, cows, hay and muck were an everyday part of my existence. I’ve slept since then. I do remember one time on our farm, when an affluent aunt and uncle on the former husband’s side, from Georgia, came to our beautiful 375 Tennessee acres to see what in the world we were doing. The aunt arrived in a dress and high heels and insisted on seeing the massive sheep barn. As we traipsed across the barnyard to the front of the barn, Auntie sniffed, wrinkled her nose, looked down at her shoes and said, “I don’t know how you do this. It’s so…………..dirty.” Yep. It is that!

So, I should have known better. But no crying over spilt milk –eh? Well, over white shoes with green cow manure decorating them. There was actually no spilt milk except for that which missed the bucket because I can’t aim very well. The two youngsters put me to shame but I was certainly thrilled that I could get a stream of the white stuff going strong and that I didn’t get stepped on or knocked over once. The cow was too busy munching her breakfast to care that some stranger was getting up close and personal with her. I did catch her looking at my white sneakers, however, and I swear she frowned at me with a “What were you thinking?” look.

Now, I have a two gallons of milk cooling down as I prepare to make another leap into the unknown in an attempt at making cheddar cheese. Yes, I realize that at 56 years of age, I live dangerously, but hey, you only live once!!

 photo PICT0007_zps479b0031.jpg

The udder is sprayed with disinfectant

 photo PICT0013_zps58e83cab.jpg

Josiah displays true skill! Look at those streams! It’s a team effort with Jillian on the other side.

 photo PICT0016_zpsc956072d.jpg

Yours Truly with the telltale gray hair makes an attempt

 photo PICT0015_zps96d9d760.jpg

Heh look!! There’s milk in that thar bovine.

 photo PICT0022_zps8a9c1e07.jpg

This calf thought my fingers tasted like a milk bottle.

 photo PICT0024_zps08f1323d.jpg

 photo PICT0027_zpsb55e242a.jpg

The milk is strained twice and put into a jug. And now it’s ready to go in the frig for ice cold milk and cream. See? You CAN teach an old dog new tricks!!

Please leave your comments at the link below! And join us for updates on Facebook by clicking on the icon.

Making Granola

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

Grain Ain’t Just For

Horses, You Know

 photo SCAN0002reducedDiamondNicky_zpse17e6213.jpg

My Gelding, Buzzard Bait (Real Name: Diamond Nicky)

In my former life, we raised horses. Quarter horses. And I loved them. Mucking out a stall was not so bad for me because it meant that riding came next. Rounding up our sheep on horseback was a daily joy. I can’t remember when I decided that horses were God’s greatest creatures ever given to man, but I know that I was really little. At 5 years old, I would feed grass to the two aging mares across the road from our house and dream of the day when I could have one all my own.

There was the time, in the fifth grade when I decided that I would have a horse all of my own. Of course, we lived in the city and though our yard was large, it wasn’t that large. However, I determined that I could make it work and so I began the tedious process of begging my parents to death. I cried. I begged. I searched the newspapers and came up with arguments “pro Ol’ Dobbins” that I was sure could not be dismissed. I thought that the labor-saving, non-machinery, grass-cutting qualities of the equine mammal had to be of some great benefit. I knew how to argue the environment early. Eventually, I decided that if I produced the money myself, there could be no argument. The result: A table at the street curb with broken toys, tiny multicolored ‘ratfinks’, and troll dolls with soft hair, all for sale and advertised by a large sign stating, “Help Kids Buy A Horse.” My sisters assisted in the hope of sharing in ownership. My eloquent pleading and early entrepreneurialship did little to impress my parents and I had to be satisfied with Marguerite Henry and Walter Farley books, along with a suitcase full of Breyer model horses with which to pretend.

 photo PICT0001_zpsaba53ead.jpg

It was marriage that brought me my first horse and a beautiful Tennessee farm. Kimmie was ½ Quarter Horse and ½ Thoroughbred so she was pretty tall – 16 hands – but she was gentle as a kitten and she was my pal . My one mare, eventually turned into over a half a dozen mares and geldings and one stud.

Feeding time was an experience of sounds and smells. Opening the trashcan of sweet feed drew my face down to drink in the aroma as fast as it attracted the flies. Oat grains slathered in molasses rattled into the measuring can and poured like tiny pebbles into the feed buckets with the most pleasant of “whooshing” sounds. As the grain was placed in each stall, muzzles pushing me away to bury deep into dinner, the steady, crunching of satisfied mouths made that feed sound like something I wanted to dig into as well! I must confess that I did so on many occasions – chewing on a little sweetened grain as I went about my work. I was eating granola before it was the world’s newest, healthy snack! Never mind that there were probably all kinds of horse vitamins in there. I never started counting with my foot and so I couldn’t have been too damaged. But as I said, that was in my other life.

So, as I make my granola these days, those sounds and smells come back as peaceful memories. Honey, instead of molasses, oats, nuts and fruits are all baked to a crunchy cereal that makes the same ‘whooshing’ sound as it is poured from its container. I wonder if some Swiss farmer just took some horse feed one day, mashed it and baked it and said, “Yah. Dis is goot! I tink I’ll call dis ‘granola’!” (translated from the Swedish)

I have to interject here that I have splurged and gone one step further in seeing what else I can add to my daily work routine. I purchased a Marga oat flaker and a bucket of oat groats from Debbie Barton at Sonrise Whole Grains, so that I can hover around the hot cereal isle in the grocery store and sidle up to strangers to whisper with authority, “I roll my own oats” and so that they can respond, “So what?” The flaker really is pretty cool to play with! It is neat to watch those tiny grains get mashed flat as you turn the handle to the rollers. It’s kind of mesmerizing. Oatmeal takes on a whole new flavor and consistency and this “I hate oatmeal” girl has turned into a “Let’s have oatmeal again for breakfast because I hear it lowers cholesterol” kind of addict. The hot oatmeal is nutty and chewy, not the usual bowl of gluey gruel fit for the movie “Oliver”. And so, fight as I might, I am being dragged into healthy eating through the seductive temptations of new kitchen gadgets. They’re so shiny and pretty!! Who can resist?

 photo PICT0436_zpsc4505779.jpg

 photo PICT0440_zpsc12a43d8.jpg

The oats comes in 45 lb buckets. Rolling is a cinch.

With that confession, I’ll end with a recipe for granola that my cousin contributed to our Then and Now Cookbook, a compilation of our family recipes (thanks Beth!). You can find the cookbook at the online store under the shop tab. I will put her recipe on one side and then on the other side, I’ll put what I have changed to suit my husband’s “I have a sweet tooth the size of a golf ball” taste buds. Either way, it is great and is what I use on the yogurt parfaits in the previous post. Enjoy the granola, and as you savor its crunch, you could retreat to the fantasy of youth and pretend that you are a horse masticating its sweet feed. However, be aware that it would mean you’re kind of weird!

Homemade Granola

Beth’s Recipe:

1 box of rolled oats (1 lb 2 oz)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins

My Changes and Additions
1 box rolled oats (1 lb 2oz)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cups honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup dried/sweetened cranberries

 photo PICT0443_zps6f096f6f.jpg

The recipe instructs to combine oats and nuts in a long, shallow baking dish, but I found that mixing it in a large bowl worked better for me. It is much easier to mix in the oil and honey.

 photo PICT0446_zps205ba510.jpg

Heat the oil and honey; then add cinnamon. Pour over oat and nut mixture. Mix well, so all oats are moistened.

 photo PICT0448_zps87e96e4a.jpg

Spread on a cookie sheet with a lip. Bake at 300º about 30 minutes.

 photo PICT0450_zpsd0ece77c.jpg

Immediately add the raisins or cranberries and store in a covered container in the frig.

 photo PICT0453_zps33223f2c.jpg

Happy Cooking!!

Please leave your comments at the link below! And join us for updates on Facebook by clicking on the icon.