"Gypsy gold does not chink and glitter. It gleams in the sun and neighs in the dark."

~ Saying of the Gladdagh Gypsies of Galway

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

All By Myself

I have no new and utterly ridiculous stories that cannot even be made up to tell as of late, so I thought I would do a Flashback Story! Although it has nothing really to do with being a Novice on a Farm, this is a classic and it's better I log it now before I forget the whole thing....which is what I am SURE my husband wishes I would do ;)

It was summer of last year (2008) and Allen and I had only be living in our home a month if that. My family came over Saturday to go to the Lodi Sweet Corn Festival (another story in and of itself) On the way home, as we drove past the house of our Amish neighbors down the road, there were a few Amish men sitting outside around their barn and they waved to us as we passed. I don't quite remember whose idea it was, although I am sure it wasn't Allen's, but it was suggested we go over and talk/introduce ourselves to them. After much peer pressure, Allen reluctantly got into my brother-in-law Jay's truck, I handed them a 6-pack and off they went.

Meanwhile, my sisters, my parents & I did what any mature people would do and hid in my front bushes peering down the road to see what was going on! Then, one of my sisters pulled out her camera, zoomed in, and tried to snap some pics. I vaguely recall someone saying Jay had his shirt off...but I do not remember why that was!!

Eventually, I could not take it anymore so I hiked it down the road, by foot, to join them. Naturally, I was more curious about their barn and the horses in it more than anything....and again, a whole other story for another time ;)

Probably about a hour later, and after Allen & Jay were robbed of their 6-pack, we loaded into the truck and went back to my house.

***Enter next day, Sunday!******

Naturally, Allen was mad at me this day because I was gone the whole day at a fundraiser for the horse rescue. When I finally came home around 6pm, I had to get a whole ear full - ugh. Allen went to lay down in bed and watch tv and I got into the shower. After I finished, I threw on my glasses, a tank top and probably what was too short of shorts with my hair dripping wet....but who cares, I was in my OWN home and just got out of the shower. I then went into the kitchen to get something to drink, and the next thing I know, I hear a knock on the door. Who would be knocking on our door (we'd not even been living there a month) at 7pm on a Sunday night!?

One problem, I wasn't exactly dressed to answer the door and I couldn't go get Allen because I had to walk past the front door (which was wide open for anyone to see right in) to get him. CRAP! So I start doing the whisper yell for him and of course he's DEAF so he doesn't hear me. I finally muster up the courage to go to the door, in my straight-out-of-the-shower get up to see who it is. As I approach, I see an Amish couple and their kids in a wagon standing at the door so I step out onto the porch (mortified at this point as my tank top [mind you no bra on] and short shorts were way inappropriate!) and said 'Hello'!

They just stopped by to say hello and Eli wanted to introduce us to his wife and kids. I had to repeat one of the kids names a few times and I swear they said Cherry but somehow I doubted that was the real name. We made small talk for some time, which was obviously odd for me as I proceeded to ask them things like "What do you do with your cow? Do you like, milk it and then drink the milk!?" and their reply was "Yes!"....with a sarcastic DUH in their tone! Ugh, this wasn't going well.

I proceeded to call out for Allen numerous times and by this point, I was convinced that he was ignoring me because he saw through the window that Amish people were here. HOW RUDE since he invited himself to their place the night before to say hello! How wrong I was though, as the next thing I know, I hear, coming from our bedroom window, which was facing the front of the house where we were standing, a voice that sounded like nails on a chalkboard singing the words "All by MYSELF........ALL BY MYSELF" -- it was Allen's most embarrassing attempt at trying to prove a point that I'd left him all day to go to a fundraiser and now that I was home I was STILL not spending time with him! Oh wooo is him! Little did he know, I was visiting with our Amish neighbors who were, at this point, looking in the direction of the window with an odd expression on their face. I don't even remember what my response was after hearing that, but Eli made some kind of comment to the effect of "He must be having fun in there". UGH

So they eventually left and of course I could not WAIT to run into the house and tell Allen what an A$$ he had made of himself!!! And I am sure, to this day, when I tell this story, he still blushes....and I have yet to hear him try to serenade me again!

Monday, September 28, 2009

So Much For Mousing!

Hunt for the Great Pumpkin

This weekend was filled with busy-ness as usual! Friday night we were picking apples for Saturdays market and I prepared the jars I made of Apple Pie Filling and Canned Pears with their labels. I guess my labels we not good enough; we were lucky enough to have someone from the health department at the market Saturday who advised us on how we should be labeling the items!

Sunday was the annual Hunt for the Great Pumpkin! Things went smoothly....other than Allen closing the car window while my hand was sticking through to grab my camera!!

We had an order of 8 bushels picked up last night, 5 more this morning and another order of 8 we need to fill by Wednesday...not to metion I have yet to make my pear butter. So aside from all the things that need fixed....like our water situation, winter doors on the mini barn, their paddock fencning etc etc etc, it's looking like another busy week on the farm!

Hound Dog and his Pumpkins!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ahhh The Morning Sunrise

It is mornings like this one that remind me how lucky I am to live on a farm!

Of course there are some mornings when I envy those who can sleep in and rise with the sun....or later! But waking up before dawn, stepping outside and letting that brisk, fall air touch your face, and catching a whiff of fresh hay makes these early mornings all worth it!

If your me, that 'whiff' includes also the smell of horses! My favorite! A scent I would bottle if I could. [I think I've mentioned this before] I am greeted by the hungry, anxious nickers of my horses and the obnoxious call of our miniature mule! It puts a smile on my face.

As I walk through to throw everyone their morning flakes of hay, I then catch a whiff of the ripening apples in the orchard! Ahhhhhh

I have the barn cats following me, hastily awaiting their breakfast, as if the mouse that was laying at the back door wasn't filling enough for them! [I constantly remind them to clean up after themselves and their midnight delights!]

By now, the sun is begining to rise and it is absolutely beautiful! It looks like cotton candy in the sky! If I was talented enough to take photographs of the skyline, I would post a daily blog simply on the sunrises we see at the farm!

As I finish up morning feed, I feel so bleesed to have the opportunity of caring for these animals. {and if you know me, you know I am not really a 'religious' person!] For having them be part of our family. And for all the pears I will be baking into butter tonight!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Guess Again

I decided that I need to stay up late the next few nights if I want to have new products ready for Saturday's Farmer's Market - ugh - I loath staying up when all I want to do is crawl into bed!

I opted to take a stab at an apple bread recipe I have rather than try a second attempt at my canned apple pie filling, thinking it would take less time! Well, here I am, almost midnight and just completed something that I started at 7pm! I might as well have canned!! Not to mention the cost of half of those fancy, schmancy ingredients you need when making bread! I'd have to charge $20 a loaf to make a profit from it! No worries on the 4 hours slaved in the kitchen!!

In any event, I must say, it looks scrumptious! I'll find out tomorrow when my always honest taste-tester of a husband tries a slice!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Try Again

And so I have discovered, after my own speculation, that I did not use a correct ingredient in my canned Apple Pie Filling! I suck!

I had 'Sure-Jel' and the recipe called for 'ClearJel' -- same thing, right? Umm not so much :( As I have come to find, 'Sure-Jel' is a pectin (used in jams, jellies etc) and 'Clear Jel' is a form of starch used in canning...and is what I should have used!

I don't think it will affect the 7 quarts I made & slaved over, but now I know for next time and I will have to test one of the incorrect creations tonight in a pie ;)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Little bit of this, Little bit of that

This weekend was just like the rest - went by too fast and no time to relax ;)

Amid the hours of overtime I had to work, Allen & I made it to another Farmer's Market. This one was not as busy as the Wooster one we usually attend, but none the less, we didn't do too bad and made some good contacts.

We had one incident where the kittens escaped while the dogs were loose and Edward got pounced on by Mossy. My heart stopped and I thought poor Edward was a gonner ;/ -- I started calling for Allen to come help and by the time he grab the dogs and I got the kittens to safety and was composing myself on one side of the door, I hear Allen yell from the other side "I have an idea, why don't we get ANOTHER litter of kittens - What a GREAT idea". Okay, Okay, I see his point...our plates are beyond full and this was the gravy on the potato's ;)

The rest of the weekend was consumed by canning and apples and apple deliveries :) I figured we have more apples than we'll be able to sell so what else could I do with them to make a profit? This weekend I canned almost what is left of our ripening pears and also attempted to can 'Apple Pie Filling' and 'Cinnamon Apple Sundae Topping' - it is a start so let's see how well they go over.

It makes me wonder, what kind of apple related product would you be inclined to purchase from a Farmer's Market? Apple Pie? Apple Bread? Apple Crisp? Let me know.....

Friday, September 18, 2009

Never a dull moment

Last night Allen & I attempted our second batch of caramel covered McIntosh's for tomorrows Farmer's Market in Nova. These, I am happy to say, turned out much nicer then our first go!

Last night also included the usual barn chores, a grooming for the little ones and a pre-cooked dinner from the grocery store - AMEN!

Esme is now separated from her kittens so they can be weaned. They don't seem to mind much, but all Esme does is cry ALLLLL DAYYYY and ALLLL NIGHT long :/ *sigh* It is sad and a tad annoying at the same time! It makes it difficult to sleep at night when you have a meowing in your ear...non-stop!

This morning was beautiful as the sun came up over the fog-covered orchard. I stood at the kitchen sink sipping my coffee, enjoying the view - then glanced a little more forward in front of me to see Savannah tossing around her fresh breakfast kill like a hot potato! What can I say, at least she is doing her job!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Keeping Sanity

Last night I posted a blurb on my Facebook page that read something to the effect of...

'Apples falling from the sky, crazy dogs, kittens on meds and angels for horses...where do I get my sanity!?'

I've been thinking a lot about that today! It certainly is our busiest time of the year with the apple harvest... on top of all our other on-going projects. It was also yesterday that I noticed Apollo's mane was resembling dreadlocks :/ I SWEAR I just cowboy majic'ed and show sheened it! But none the less, I am sure the horses have no arguments on me keeping to my minimum with them these last few weeks - allowing them to be out all day until dusk - muching on grass then coming in to munch on hay and not too much aggravation from me!

Last night, in the crisp fall weather, I caught a scent of horses in the pasture! Mmmmm, my favorite smell. It reminds me of when I was a little kid and I'd pick up this scent from the horse farm across the road from our housing developement. Sweet Heaven! I wish I could bottle it up!

So as I brought the horses in last night, I took an extra few minutes to bury my face in each of their manes, TTouch their backs and enjoy the scent of horses on a crisp fall night....in my own backyard! That is how I manage my sanity!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Another night bites the dust

So last night we ventured out with our 5 bushels of apples, that all but baked outside all day while we were at work, to deliver them to the Amish couple.

Why were they outside you ask? Because it is cooler at night outside now than it is in our basement AND the large walk-in cooler we have in the second garage is not yet up and running! In any event, I could not find the actual directions I took from this Amish couple on where to find their house :-0 I wouldn't dare divulge that info to Allen so I committed to memory what I thought they told me Saturday and off we went.

Boy did I get lucky. They were the house with the big red barn in back - well NEWS FLASH, all Amish are the house with the big red barn in back! And the cider mill next door was not marked so I didn't have that on my side either. We drove all the way down the road with not a clue as to which house. Since they don't give actual addresses, Allen thought we we're just stumped because I said "they told me house with big red barn" ;) So we decided to turn around and stop at one of them and ask if they knew of who we were looking for. What Allen also didn't know is that I didn't even have a name for them! HA

We opted to pull in...almost....to one house, until we noticed they had apples trees in their yard. So we did the obvious, just pulled into the next Amish house we passed that didn't have apple trees in the yard!

I always love when you pull up and one of two things happen.
a.) a hoard a children rush to the window and peer out at you...I feel like I am in a scene from a Children of the Corn movie.
b.) you stand there feeling like an idiot for what seems like a lifetime before someone finally makes a presence to acknowledge you are in their driveway.

So as I stood there, experiencing option 'b', a plump lady with a bonnet finally jumped around the corner of the house and said "HEY!" - WHAT LUCK, it was the couple we were trying to find in the first place ;) Dang, I am good!

So they tried to hassle with us on a price we already set - nothing new - then we went home to a butt load of chores and a few trees to pick, then before I knew it, the time was 9:30-ish, I was eating Ramen and getting ready for bed.

And another night bites the dust.......

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Peddlers are off again!

Last night Allen and I picked 5 bushels of seconds to take to sale today to an Amish couple we met. They are interested in purchasing seconds from us for cider and we offered to deliver to them. [My horse Apollo likes to instigate the Amish horses as they 'drive by' on their buggies so I figured I'd spare the poor horse the aggravation ;) ]

It only took about 45 minutes to fill 5 seconds bushels so we're guessing that isn't too bad. This Amish couple tells us they live down the road from a cider mill so we may investigate that as well while we are out. After all, how cool would it be to see "Fresh Cider from Apolloson Acres"!

The rest of this week is a busy one as I'll be making caramel apples for Nova's Farmers Market Saturday and we'll also be picking more crop for sale. More McIntosh and Cortland apples.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Vacation Requires Vacation

Last week was a whirlwind of a week for us. We had Monday off due to the Labor Day Holiday and I honestly cannot remember what we did, but I would venture to say it's a safe bet that we did work around the farm.

Tuesday & Wednesday were "real job" work days. I should define "real job" - this is not the job(s) we LOVE doing, it is just the job(s) we HAVE to do, in order to do what we love to do! In layman's terms, the job that cuts the paychecks ;)

We both took off Thursday & Friday to try and tackle some things that need done like fencing in a pasture for the mini's and rebuilding their winter barn doors. Well, in true fashion for the way things go for us - that all went untouched. Are you surprised?!

Wednesday night we found ourselves in the ER. No worries, we're fine. Long story short, we sat there for 4 hours with no resolution other than I felt fine by the time I was seen by a doctor! 3:30am and I was finally able to get back into my own bed...only to be woken up a couple hours later by hungry horses - ugh - need. sleep.! Anyways, the reason I even tell this, is because I think it is 'hilarious' to note that as I am doubled over in pain and finally was able to get myself dressed, I come into the kitchen to tell my husband I am ready to go... and I smell coffee. I look at the coffee pot and see some has just been freshly brewed. ???

Me: You made Coffee?
Allen: It's gonna be a long night......
Me: We are NEVER having children - I'd be giving birth on the kitchen floor while you fix yourself coffee....get. in. the. car!

So as I was saying - we didn't accomplish half of what we planned to on our days off. Thursday was off to the dentist, then home to pick apples and pears for a farmers market we attended that evening. Friday was a whole lot more picking apples and running apple related errands for Saturday mornings farmer's market. Allen wanted to be there EARLY Saturday so we had no issue getting in our space - with the truck - and being set up and ready to go by 8am. To him, this meant that he needed to get out of bed at 4:30am - whatever! Not me! Even the dogs thought he was nuts and usually they are pulling the covers off us to get out of bed. When I did get up and stumble out to hay the horses, they all looked at me with squinted & annoyed eyes for turning on the lights before the sun broke!I did feel their pain ;)

Yesterday was supposed to be a day of relaxing, but of course, we ended up having more issues with the water pump! What's new! Tonight we'll be packing orders of Apple Seconds for a few Amish customers! The time has arrived - Harvest Time - and we'll be non-stop busy for the next month and a half picking and selling....and trying to determine which varieties of apples we have!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Canning, Cleaning and Cooking....oh my!

Three day weekends, to me, are all about anxiety! It gives me extra time in my normally "unnormal" routine, which in turn makes me anxious about getting done all the things I have put on the back burner...which are, in no particular order: canning, cleaning & cooking! [Oh my!]

It is this time of year that summer is starting to wind down and so we have an abundance of vegetables from our garden. They either a.) go to waste or b.) get pawned off on friends & family. It is inevitable that in mid-winter, I will think 'Geee, sure would have been nice if I'd canned some of those tomato's'. The other problem with canning is that I am such a freak about being worried I won't do it down to the exact science I have been taught and read, and then we might contract botulism and die :0

It is also with the winding down of summer that the house is desperately in need of it's spring cleaning ;) We are both outdoor people, and when the weather is nice, it's really hard to keep myself inside to do something as boring as cleaning. So, it is this time of year when the white trim in my house starts to look gray and the dust bunnies on the wood floors start to crawl towards to middle of the room....and the dust collecting on tables and entertainments stands start to resemble something stored in grandmas attic!

And of course, three day weekends also make me feel like I have to take some extra time to whip of something more creative than ramen. Don't get me wrong, again, Allen and I both love to cook, but it seems to be something we both enjoy spending more time doing when the doors won't open because there is 6 ft of snow on the patio. Oh wait, when that happens, we'd rather be outside on the 4wheeler and watching the horses run through snow drifts ;)

So, as the last day of this 3-day, Labor Day weekend, is upon the horizon, I have to wonder why in gods name we both decided to take off this Thursday & Friday of work too! Am I TRYING to drive myself crazy!?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Fruit Peddlers!

Our Farmers Market Stand

Mom & "the perfect Apple!"

Today we had a very successful market day...and of course, a tad unusual!

Last night my mom and sister came over to help me with my grand idea of doing up some caramel apples to take to the market. While it wasn't a total wash, it wasn't as I had pictured either. We sold 3 so we still have some practicing to do ;)

We got up at 5:30am this morning, and of course, it is like the horses have ESP and know when I step one foot out of bed...they all start whinnying like they never ate before, even when it is earlier than usual for breakfast!

We loaded up 2 bushels of apples & 3 bushels of pears and headed to the market. There was a good crowd and we all but sold out of the pears and our basket of Cortland apples went like hotcakes! We received lots of compliments on our logo and one vendor noticed it on our shirts from seeing our listing the other day on localharvest.org!

We still had a few more picked bushels of apples and pears at home that were ripening at rapid speed and needed sold asap before they went to waste. Figuring we had nothing to loose, we stopped by a little old Amish lady's stand on the way home and I asked her if she was interested. She was not, but took our card and said her brother may be.

We decided to go home, load up with the rest of the full bushels, and then go with the goods in hand, to another local 'amish hang-out'! They thought the produce looked great but had no use for it either; in the mean time, we got stopped by 2 other people visiting the amish ladies booth, wanting to purchase some of the pears and apples we had in the truck! Sounds good to me :)

One of the amish ladies gave us the name of her sister, whom she thought would be interested in them. When she told me her sisters name, all I heard was hfjadhgfivagfnaeiulfhiew - 'uh, could you spell that please'! And she gave me a street name and roundabout idea of where on that road we could find her sister! So off we were again.

We stopped at one amish house along the road selling produce - wrong house, "they live across the street" they tell us! So we go across the street and pull up to about 6 kids running around and an amish lady in the middle of canning pears. Sure enough, she wanted all the apples and half of the pears. She then told us the next road over has a lot of amish people and to stop and see if any of them are interested in the rest. So off we went again, door to door, like girl scouts at cookie time, peddling our fruit!

None of the amish on this second road were nearly half as friendly as who we came to know as 'Mo'! At this point, we were both spent and had impatient animals awaiting us at home. As a last resort, we decided "Ah, what the heck" and stopped at Eli's, our amish neighbor 2 doors down. Sure enough, Eli wanted our pears even though they already had ordered and purchased a shipment from Michigan for their canning needs this year. He was sure to tell us he'd place his order with us next year!

Unfortunately, I cannot find a market for us to attend tomorrow, so we may just set up at the end of my mom's driveway! We have a few days off this coming week from work so we may also be setting up at some weeknight markets too.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Barn Kitties Update

Nothing new & chaotic on the home front today so I thought I would share a picture of 2 of the kitties Allen had found in our barn a few months back.

We "captured", and I say the word captured because it was a chaotic hunt for Allen to try and catch all 5 kittens, and brought them into our home so we could socialize them and find them good homes. One didn't make it :( But 4 found good homes and below is a pic of 2 brothers that still get to see each other on occasion!

Bradley & Simon....now called Edgar & Milo :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

All before 7am....

And we welcomed another hectic morning full of chaos today at Apolloson Acres!

Allen had no lunch or lunch money and no clean work shirts - ohh well!

So as I began the morning barn chores, I had to throw more hay to the horses since my husband takes a flake as just that - A FLAKE! I always tell him, 'give them more if it is a small flake', but alas, he still hasn't grasped that concept.

As I went to open a new hay bale, which was baled with wire instead of twine, I rang in the morning with a fresh slice across the palm of my hand from the baling wire. This could be the deal breaker in me purchasing hay from the new hay man....he bales with wire. *sigh* It is all the little things you would think you wouldn't even have to consider ;)

Next I ran around the yard like a mad person looking for the grain bowls.....I swear little gypsy fairies [no relation to 'Queen Gypsy'] come out at night to pick them up and move them around so I have to search for them in the morning!

You would think turning out the horses before I leave for work would create less work in the morning, but somehow, I am not convinced. It seems to always leave me MORE pressed for time! So while Apollo & Gypsy were scarfing down their grain, I ran to the pasture with their hay to spread around... and then ran back up to the water pump to get water for the pasture trough. And yes, all the while I was in my pj's still - why not be comfy, right!?

Next it was lathering up the muzzles with sunblock which Apollo hates with a passion. As I was headed back to the barn to get Gypsy, I saw Allen already had her and was bringing her back. I yelled to him "Did you sunblock her nose?" His response "NO, she won't let me", however, thankfully, he brought the sunblock with him so I could lather her up real quick. I'll give him a brownie point for that one!

And then I realized it was past 7am and I still had to get inside, get myself ready and check on Mama Esme and her litter of 6 kitties before taking the dogs out one last time and getting myself on the road! Allen was beyond late and had to leave.

So it was brought to my attention last night, by my husband, that every animal we have, I brought home! Well, with the exception of Daisy. He takes credit for her *sigh as I roll my eyes!* Including the foster kitties, barn cats that have 'disappeared' and the litter of barn kittens we found new homes for, he tallied 21 animals! Mind you we currently have/see /feed 15 on a regular basis. And yet, he still pleads his case to have chickens! HA!

And so another morning bites the dust, probably literally, at Apolloson Acres!

Here's some recent Pictures from around the farm...


Savannah Barn Cat --just joined us this past weekend

Mossy rounding up a fresh harvest!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

No Wonder They Don't Listen!

It should come as no surprise that our animals are confused and/or do not pay us any attention. Last night, Allen and I discussed all the different names we have for each of our four legged family members!

Here is the "off the top of my head" list of secondary names for each of them! [which the pronunciation in brackets!]

Apollo - Pollo, Polloson, Apolloson, Bub, Bub-be, King Tut, Attitude (with a Capital "A"!)

Gypsy - Gyps [jips] , Gyps-Gyps [jips-jips], Nip Nip (I guess 'cause it rhymes!?), Queen, Queen Gypsy

Wednesday - Whinny, Whin, Whin-Whin, Midge, Midge-let, Midgey, Pitt, Fiona, FiFi...and Allen could continue on with this list with even MORE ridiculous names ;)

Mossy - Moss, Moss-dog, MossyMo, Hound, HoundDog, Hound-doogee [do-gee], HoundBurgluar (!), Mossberg, Oak Tree, Stinky, Smelly Kid

Daisy - Dais, Donkey, DonkaDonk, Hinny

Romeo - Rome, Roamers, Buck, Buckey

And of course, even Lucky the barn cat.....Luck, Luck-Luck, Meow-Meow