Sunday, July 29, 2012

Today's Take - 7/29/12

It was weirdly hot today. In spite of our better intentions to bushwhack the Alder saplings and blackberry bushes in the chicken yard into submission, we mostly ended up vegging out.

We did manage to bring in the following, though, in spite of our lazy -

*Goat Milk, 1/2 gallon
*Eggs - 7
*Lavender flowers (about 1/4 of what is ripe for the taking)

I'm going to hang these flowers upside down to dry, later, I'll cut some more to try extracting a little essential oil from with the steam juicer. Both the flowers and the oil will eventually find their way into our homemade soaps. :)

Today's Take - 7/28/12

I know it's been like, forever, since I've posted a "Today's Take", but I'm finally getting up and around enough again to finally go outside and actually see what there is for the taking.

Not a ton today, but Summer is late in coming this year, and we never got our garden up and running, so the pickins are slim yet. The next few weeks should pick up a lot, between the Himalayan (wild) blackberries finally ripening, the u-pick blueberry farm opening for the season, and the garden-sitting that Bill and I are doing for our friend, Lisa. Happy Chelle. :)

*Goat Milk - 1/2 gallon
*Eggs - 7
*Marion berries - 4 ounces

Look how big these puppies are! :)

In the next day or two, we'll also be harvesting some rose petals and lavender flowers to throw in the dehydrator and/or steam juicer for adding to our homemade soap, someday. ;)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Weird Bugs!

Scarlet and her buddy, Sanne, found this pair of beetles with a recently deceased shrew in our bottomland today.

A little googling and picking the brain of my entomologist friend, Glenn, tells me that these are carrion beetles, but exactly what sort, we're not quite sure.

Regardless, the way that carrion beetles work is pretty fascinating, if you have the stomach for that sort of thing.

A male scopes out a "good" corpse, then sets about advertising the fact via pheromones. Eventually, if he's lucky, a lady beetle is thus wooed, and together they work to move and bury the carrion, preventing this tempting treat from being stolen by another carrion fan.

The new couple either bury the body where they find it, or transport it a short distance away (usually about a meter) by crawling under the carrion, flipping themselves upside down and "walking" the corpse (picture a bucket brigade handing buckets of water on down the line) forward a smidge, then either passing the load on to their partner, or repeating the whole exhausting process themselves. From what I've read, these beetles can lift something like 200 times their own body weight! This shrew must have been easy-peasy for them.

After burying their find, the female lays eggs in a chamber just above the burial site. The eggs hatch into larvae, which are then fed the carrion by their parents, via regurgitation, until they are able to go and dine on their own. Some bug sites suggest that the number of eggs laid by the female is proportionate to the size of their "meal".

I find their whole life cycle nasty, yet fascinating. The most unique characteristic though, is the fact that a mated pair stays together to prepare for and raise the young. That's pretty uncommon in most wild animals, and, I'm told, is extremely uncommon in insects of any kind.

So there you go - gross yet informative Boggy Hollow factoid of the day.

Carrion, my wayward bug! ;)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cheese n' Stuff

Miss Sidney has been keeping us in the milk, big time lately. That, and life is getting closer and closer to normal with each passing week, post car accident, which means that it's time to find my groove again.

I busted out my handy-dandy copy of Home Cheesemaking by Ricki Carroll, and found a few recipes that I'm keen to try.

Always at the top of our list is feta. I'm a huge Mediterranean food nut, which means that we go through epic amounts of feta. I also want to try some paneer or queso blanco, the non-melty variety of cheese that texturally works a lot like tofu. I'd like to try it in a stir fry or maybe in an egg roll. And then, the hands-down most popular incarnation of my goat milk - cajeta. I'll be interested to try a batch with Sid's milk, as it seems to have a higher butterfat content than Chardonnay & Fritzen's did, and according to a few folks who have tried it, tastes more "grassy". I'm not sure how that'll translate to caramel, but I volunteer as test subject! ;)

Livy & I are also studying up on making goats milk soap. We are trying to find our necessary supplies on the cheap at thrift stores and whatnot, and will be cutting and drying some lavender and rose petals soon that will eventually end up in our soaps. With raw milk, it's use it or lose it, hence the grand plans.

Boy it feels good to be getting back to "normal"! ;)