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Farm Life » 2015 » September

The Critters at Ford’s Farm in the Woods


Posted by Janet Ford | Posted in Farm Animals | Posted on 18-09-2015

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new zealand rabbits

Our 4 yr old granddaughter with one of our rabbits

I’m not sure who owns who on this farm but the fact remains we have a grand variety of creatures, great and small, who reside here. I’d like to give a quick run-down of introduction for all of them here. I’m sure I’ll be blogging about them all in the future in various ways from their silly antics, caring for them and, yes, when some are invited to attend freezer camp. This is a farm, after all. Our goal here on our little wooded homestead is to be as self sufficient as possible and we are, in no way, vegetarians. That doesn’t mean we don’t love all of the creatures in our care. So, without further ado, the current tally of farm animals and pets we share our life with include:

  • 5 House Dogs. Having five house dogs may seem like a lot but considering I used to raise/train and show dogs (cavaliers and coonhounds), it’s really very few now and two are elderly that we’ve had since tiny pups. – Susie, the 13 year old cavalier king Charles spaniel. – Lucy, the 7 year old border collie. – Tootsie, the 13 year old terrier mix. – Kaizen, the 2 year old GSD mix (we believe mixed with beauceron). – Sadie, the 2 year old GSD
  • Unknown barn cats. One friendly, the rest feral. We have a problem with people dropping cats off out here.
  • Plymouth Barred Rock Chickens. 3 hens and a rooster. Now also blessed with a clutch of 5 chicks.
  • 5 Horses – my other blog is dedicated to the horses and horse training – Colt, 20 yr old QH gelding – Willy, 20 yr old gelding, unknown breed(s) – Zip, 4 yr old Arab/Appaloosa, likely with some QH in there as well – Catori, 3 yr old BLM Mustang
  • BLM Burro Jenny, Zen. Approximately 7 yrs old. Wild caught as an adult.
  • 2 Julliana x Mini Potbelly piglets; Charlotte and Cutie Pie
  • 5 Dairy Goats; 2 does, 2 wethers and 1 buck
  • New Zealand Rabbits. How many varies. Expect lots of writings focused on my rabbits.

Other than those for companionship, some of these animals are for meat, eggs, milk, protection, land management and sales. All of those things will be covered within the blogs posts here in addition to our gardening, activities such as cutting firewood, hunting and fishing as it pertains to our little homesteading farm in the woods.

I’m excited for the opportunity to share these adventures with you.

Freezing Cabbage – Both a How-To and an Experiment


Posted by Janet Ford | Posted in cabbage, Food Preservation, Garden | Posted on 17-09-2015

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how to freeze cabbage

Large flathead cabbage.

Today I decided to freeze some of our cabbage from our garden. We simply grew too much for us to eat fresh and I personally don’t care for sauerkraut. My husband does so perhaps I’ll make a jar or two for him with the few left in the garden.

For now, I have been told how I can freeze cabbage successfully, which is supposed to last up to two years so I’m going to give it a whirl. I’ll include photos in this instructional recipe. Later on, I’ll check on my frozen bounty and report on how well the cabbage preserves in the freezer and if anything is different when I cook with it. I’m told you wouldn’t want to use it for straight-up boiled cabbage side dish but I enjoy making homemade soups and casseroles so it should suit my purpose fine.

  1. After removing the dirty, damaged and loose leaves from around the fresh cabbage, cut your cabbage in quarters (or more for very large heads). Be sure to leave the core as intact as possible as it will hold the leaves together so you don’t have a bunch of loose leaves. The intent is to freeze it in these chunk sized pieces.
  2. Soak cabbage chunks in cold water, salted if you like. Allow to soak for 1-2 hours. This causes any potential cabbage worms to evacuate themselves. Do not over soak! Cabbage will quickly get to feeling mushy on the cut edges otherwise.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to boil. I use my water bath canner.
  4. Add salt if you like (I do). Plunge cabbage chunks into the boiling water. I only do as many as will fit/float on top and don’t stack them so you can retrieve them from the cooking process quickly and not cool your cooling water too quickly.

    how to freeze cabbage

    Blanching cabbage to prepare for freezer.

  5. Blanch the cabbage chunks for 3 minutes. No longer!
  6. Remove cabbage with a large slotted spoon if you have one. Quickly allowing some of the boiling water to escape from between the leaves.
  7. Plunge into a large vat of ice water. I just used my sink. In a few moments, when cool enough to handle, flip it over and lift up to allow the hot water to drain from it some more and plunge back in to the ice water.

    how to freeze cabbage

    Cabbage gets an ice water bath

  8. Remove from ice water and place on towel to drain a bit. Water causes freezer burn so allowing it to drain is important. Don’t dawdle too long in this process, though. Cabbage is very sensitive to water and will wilt and rot away in record time.
  9. Place cabbage in either freezer bags or vacuum seal them if you have a vacuum sealer. (I’m jealous if you do!)

All those floating pieces of cabbage, if any, can be plopped into a bowl. Add butter, salt and pepper to taste and enjoy your reward for a job well done.

Fresh cabbage

Bowl of cabbage with butter, salt and pepper. YUM!

Let me know how this works for you or if you’ve already tried your hand at freezing cabbage. Preserving our garden harvest is an important task. If this experiment in freezing cabbage doesn’t work, I’ll be planting less next year. I still have a few more giant heads to pick. With those, I plan to make some homemade soups and other cabbage based dishes and freeze as ready-to-go meals. That will be a first for me as well.

What is your favorite cabbage recipe?

Freezing Corn From the Garden


Posted by Janet Ford | Posted in Corn, Food Preservation, Garden | Posted on 16-09-2015

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We grow a lot of corn even though we are empty nesters now. Corn is just plain fun to grow and super easy to preserve by either canning or freezing. This year, I was short on canning jars so I decided to freeze it all.

Properly prepared and frozen corn fresh from your garden has a freezer life of about a year so you should calculate how much corn you will be using until the garden is ready to harvest again next year. Or you could do like I do and just do more than you need. We enjoy sharing our bounty.

To give you an idea, our first round of freezing corn consisted of 48 ears of corn. Out of this, I was able to put up 14 quart bags of whole corn and 4 quart sized Ziploc bags of cream corn. I portioned these into amounts enough for 3-4 people or two people who may want extra helpings. For us, this equated to about 2.5 cups of whole corn per bag.  Later, I also froze some whole corn in larger amounts for making dishes such as shepherd’s pie.

The process is as easy as it gets for food preservation!

  1. Bring large pot of water to boil (I use my water bath canner pot).
  2. Add salt to the water.
  3. Shuck corn and remove whatever silks you can.  Others will either float up in the water during blanching or become easily removed when you cut from the cob.
  4. Place corn cobs in the boiling water and blanch for 4 minutes.
  5. Remove corn cobs from water, move to a large empty pot or bowl and carry to table or counter of choice and scatter about on dish towels to drain. Cooling in this way may not be as quick as plunging in ice water but it prevents the corn from being too watery when you process it.
  6. When cool enough to handle, get a corn cob and set it upright onto the middle part of a angel food cake pan. The cob does not have to go inside the hole. The middle section is merely a place to have it stand. I even move it to the side a tad so I don’t miss any kernels at the bottom.
  7. With a sharp knife, cut down the cob, top to bottom. Get fairly close to the cob but don’t be too picky. What’s left on the cob will become your cream corn later. Besides, you don’t want hard bits of cob with your future dinner.
  8. The corn will drop handily into the angle food cake pan for easy scooping out later. You can either move it directly from the pan to your freezer bags or take it a step further and move to a large bowl and mix in some melted butter (use real butter, please!). Not a whole lot. Just enough to softly coat the kernels. This will protect it from freezer burn and also add more flavor. No need to add more butter when cooking later.
  9. Once you’ve went through all your cobs, start over again. This time with the mostly empty cobs. Using a spoon (thinner the metal on the scoop of the spoon, the better), scrape the cobs clean of the remnants of the corn on the cob onto a plate this time, not the angel food cake pan. I use a paper plate so I can bend it right into the Ziploc bag to transfer easily. A large spoon will also work, however.
  10. Fold the bags for the cream corn and freeze them this way. This helps keep it all in one area and not be so thin and fragile in your freezer. Thaws nicer, too.

I hope you found this blog entry helpful. I look forward to sharing more tips and adventures from life on our small hobby farm with you. Don’t be a stranger!

Corn Has Been Put Up for the Year


Posted by Janet Ford | Posted in Corn, Garden, Pigs | Posted on 16-09-2015

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It’s a bittersweet time of year when the garden is winding down. You are both tired of processing your harvest and sad to see the plants withering away knowing soon you won’t have a reason to check on them and pick your bounty. Of course, it also means the weeding chores are coming to a close!

The horses and goats particularly love the end of days for our corn stalks.

Corn is one of our major garden crops. I processed all of our corn to freezer bags. I froze just under 30 quart bags of whole corn and around 10 bags of creamed corn. I’ll put up easy directions for doing both in another blog post.

I tried freezing some of our corn whole, on the cob. Sadly, unbeknownst to us, that particular stand up freezer was cleaned and plugged in just to have room for this project (and some near future meat processing). It was working. Inserted 45 ears of wonderful, fresh corn on the cob and a few token bottles of water just to make the freezer run more efficiently (empty air space isn’t a good thing for energy usage in a freezer). I checked on it a couple days later and found, to my great horror … MOLDING CORN husks!

The only ones happy that day were our two piglets, Charlotte and Cutie Pie!

miniature potbelly piglets

Julliane x Mini Potbelly Piglets


Now we are in the market for another freezer, preferably a stand up freezer but chest freezer would work, too. Just harder to organize and see what’s inside those contraptions.  Not sure how larger farms do it. As it is, we have a chest freezer, a stand up freezer and our house freezer. May our second stand up freezer rest in peace. *sigh*

Only being two of us, I still believe our corn bounty we still have will get us through until next years corn harvest.

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