Hot Damn! I can!

Well the garden is in full swing! We are collecting the fruits of our labor! We have more stuff than we can eat! So, it is time to start canning it up!

I really feel like canning is a lost art and skill! I feel a little nervous every time I do it because I am hoping no one dies from eating this if I don’t follow the step exactly! I am about three years into this and everyone is still living so that is a good sign! This week I worked on canning peppers! My husband likes it hot! Hotter than hot actually.

Last years peppers:

Me: Bryon are they too hot?

Bryon: NO!

(( I look over and he is sweating with hiccups ))

Me: Bryon? Really?

Bryon: What? they aren’t too hot. I just need to remember to use less of them next time!

My son-in-law also likes it hot too! So, I made a batch for him as well! I also threw in some banana peppers for my oldest daughter.

My advice on canning……. 1. Do it! Its a great skill to have! The food taste great fresh and it is so beautiful going into the cans! 2.Research it, we don’t want people getting sick! 3. Be careful and don’t always trust those pinterest recipes for this type of stuff.

 

-Chas

Lettuce Begin…..

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”- Audrey Hepburn

Our garden at Farnash Creek Ranch (FCR) has started to produce and we have began harvesting several of our meals. We love this time of year when you can go out to the garden and pick your dinner. The spring garden is in full swing. We have a total of four garden patches this year so we can beef up our rotational gardening program. Garden #1 is planted in peas and beans primarily to replace the nitrogen depleted by last years crop. Garden #2 is coming along nicely but not producing, yet. Garden #3 is where the action is happening right now and the one I will highlight  today. Garden #4 is still in progress but I better hurry up and get my stuff in the ground because it is getting late.

First, I would like to give a little props to that fall spinach plant that produced for us all winter even through a few pretty good frosts. It was still growing when I was planting for the spring. For a new gardener wanting to try out a few plants – spinach is easy to grow and is very versatile. We eat it raw in salads and also cook it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It grows well in containers and keeps growing after it is picked. I would suggests when planting in pots to use good quality potting soil such as miracle grow potting mix. I bought the cheap stuff one year and it turned into rock soil in the pots. Secondly, speaking from experience, there is a big different between potting mix and garden mix but the bags look exactly the same. Make sure it is potting mix.

The spring garden has really took off well after much planning and cultivating. Garden #3 has lettuce, cabbage, kale, yellow squash, cucumbers, few interspersed onions, broccoli, and cauliflower. The garden is flagged by dill and marigolds in an attempt to ward off pests.  The first thing produced was a ton of lettuce. Literally, one ton! Ok, almost a ton. This year we really concentrated on companion planting and staggered planting to keep a steady harvest and minimize pests. The lettuce loves it. I have had zero damage (knock on wood) to my lettuce from pests. I planted marigolds at the ends of the rows which I think was very beneficial or maybe our pests haven’t found them yet. Shhhhhh……. We planted butter lettuce and romaine lettuce. The butter lettuce was from seeds started in the ground and it is loving our alkaline soil! I think it is the softest most palpable lettuce I have ever put in my mouth! The romaine lettuce I started in pots and it is growing but slowly- I think my pot selection may have been too small. Luckily, we will be eating butter lettuce until the cows come home. Well really longer than that since the cows are home actually. Note, if you have not invested in a salad spinner please do so. The little device allows me to keep lettuce up to 2 weeks.

lettuce

Lettuce move on to another lettuce like plant. The Kale! The Kale has been the beauty of the garden! It is so vibrant and colorful with burst of deep green and purples. We have a little Dinosaur Kale and a ton of Red Russian Kale. This plant is also very versatile, healthy and has multiple uses. We eat it raw or cooked. This week I experimented with Kale Chips! They were delicious. This is a good healthy snack for us late night snackers! Even my son liked them. Maybe he is turning over a new leaf (he he he) since he has a brand new baby boy. May I introduce, our newest grandbaby at FCR. Holden Harrison:

Holden

Now, back to Kale. This too is an easy plant for beginners. We planted in the ground this year from seeds and they have done really well. They grow fast and are low maintenance. I have also planted some in pots and they have done really well. Although, this year the plants in the ground seem to be doing better. I have had problems in the past with not having enough to last us throughout the season. However, this year I may have over planted. So, tell me if I can send you some Kale! Also, the salad spinner works well for this too or a lettuce keeper.

LET’S GET TURNIP! These turnip greens are out of control and I love it! I have thinned them twice and was able to have a huge harvest just from thinning. The leaves were young and tender which tasted amazing. The turnips were small and I haven’t decided yet if I will roast them separately (found a delicious recipe on pinterest) or add them in with the greens. I froze the turnip part for now until I can decide. Just a side note, the turnip leaves or greens will have prickly points on the leaves so I don’t eat them raw but once they are cooked they go away and you never even knew they were there. I could eat greens at every meal. My only problems is that you can’t eat greens without cornbread and I probably shouldn’t have so much cornbread in my life. One pan won’t hurt, right?

 

We also enjoyed a great cream of broccoli & cauliflower soup & modified shepherds pie from the garden harvest! Finally, I will close with this wonderful cocktail made with fresh mint from the garden. I call it a “Barbara Bush” in honor of the recent passing of FLOTUS # 41.

Barbara Bush

It is muddled lemon juice and mint with one part Blanton’s Bourbon and one part gingerale. I know I shouldn’t mix that Bourbon with anything but i was living on the edge!

-Chas

Did you cite that recipe?

Do you cite recipes in MLA or APA? I mean it is part science and part art? Really? citing recipes? C’mon isn’t that the reason we write down recipes is to share them?

I have so many recipes that I would love to share. However, honestly I only have like three things that I make from memory or my own creation. This include chicken & dumplings, tomato gravy & biscuit, and Thanksgiving dressing.  I am sure there are other things I make from memory but part of the fun of cooking for me is making something new every time. I rarely make the same dish twice. Therefore, sharing a recipe would mean plagiarizing someones else ‘s recipe. I want to give credit where credit is due. If you crafted an Italian Manicotti from your memory or own creation that is impressive and I think you need a big WOW!

Plagiarizing recipes is a big issue these days with social media and the internet. Please see the article in Plagiarism Today (https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2015/03/24/recipes-copyright-and-plagiarism/) where they discuss Anne Thorton loosing her cooking show contract because of accusations of Recipe Plagiarism. This is really scary, as Mrs. Thorton says, because there are only so many ways to make a certain dish. According to the United States copyright guidelines (https://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl122.html) you can list the ingredients without a problem but the issue comes with the execution. The problem is there are only so many ways to prepare a dish. For example, if you have a recipe for any type of baked chicken, typically you will bake it at about 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes depending on oven, thickness of chicken, and how juicy you like it. If you bake the chicken for less time or less temperature, it will be underdone and not fit. So, the fundamentals of most recipes will be the same. Which means plagiarizing a recipe is very easy and you can do it without even knowing.

For me, I get the majority of my recipes from Pinterest. I like using Pinterest for recipes because I can just search the ingredients I already have in the cupboard. I think it helps to have a basic working knowledge of cooking and the chemistry of ingredients to know what substitutions you can successfully use. However, we are in the information age and you can google anything. I like to make recipes that I have never made and ones where I can use stuff from my garden. It makes me feel all authentic and shit ( I mean stuff) ! I feel like I am feeding my family with love when I make something grown from my own hands and really it just tastes so much freaking better.

This week we had several tasty things! I am having nuts for dinner and this post is making me hungry but here it goes!

First, I made Baby Seydi some Granny Grub! This is a semi-original recipe. My grandmother would make this for me. Things just taste better when your grandma makes them. It is basically a fried egg (over-medium) over some cheese grits with crumbled bacon or sausage! If you are lucky enough to eat it outside that is the best way! Baby Seydi loved it!

breakfast

Next, I had a lot of spinach that needed to be cooked and I had a hankerin’ for chicken so I found this delicious recipe on Pinterest called (wait it does have an official name- I will name it) Chicken Yo Self Spinach. It’s actually a chicken, spinach, sun dried tomato and bacon dish. I had to modify this dish because I burnt the bacon – BAD! Timers are for babies or people without burnt bacon! I also used freshly shredded monterey cheese with jalepenos instead of sliced. My mother-in-law, Pat, always told me to use freshly shredded cheese because it was better and she was right! It was delicious! Here is the best picture I could get. We also had a side of parmesan zucchini! Which was scrumptious even though I shredded a little skin off my thumb into the parmesan (Just a little extra protein- right?) Just kidding!

SmotheredChicken (2)chickenmeal (2)

Over the weekend I also made a couple of Korean and Thai dishes that were not only mouth watering but healthy. The mandoline is also a very dangerous tool – use the guard! One of the dishes was a cabbage / beef stir fry. It was made with grass fed beef from the ranch! It was a steer we named “Rug” because we knew we wanted to keep his hide! I also had to modify this recipe because I ran out of Soy Sauce so I used Teriyaki sauce! I also used some fresh ginger I grew last year. Ginger is easy to grow and harvest just be patient ( I tried to throw it out like 47 times but my husband kept making me wait). I have several roots I froze last year and don’t foresee running out any time in the next couple of years! It freezes well! We had a side of Thai cucumber salad with this dish. It made for a light fresh meal for a warm spring afternoon!

cabbagestirfry and cucumbers

I tried to give credit where credit was due! The best part of cooking is watching the people you love enjoy it!

Love the Soil You’re In

In life, people and plants often get transplanted. It can be an opportunity for them to flourish to grow and to be even more magnificent. There will always be some obstacles to overcome. One of those is the soil in which we put down our roots and our little seedlings.

I grew up in deep East Texas and still have a family home there. I now spend most of my time in the Northern Hill Country. The soil types and experiences are polar opposite. They each afford different opportunities and barriers to growing.

The eastern part of Texas is known as the East Texas Timberlands, according to the Texas Almanac, with soil that is acidic deep sandy loams with scattered clay pockets. It is easy to grow there and make deep roots but the hidden clay pockets can make it hard for you to navigate times. It is often not what it seems. You start digging with your shovel and it seems easy to remove the dirt, but then you hit a hard red clay loam that is harder than a rock. You dig and you dig but it will not budge. If you put your plant there the heavy clay will suffocate the root and it will die. Navigating the clay in life is the hardest part; none the less, it is absolutely possible. So many wonderful things near and dear to my heart have grown from Eastern Texas soil. I specifically love and miss my all grown and tall pine trees.

Sometimes, I just have to peak through the Pine Curtain to see how things are growing along or withering away. So, I am grateful to still be able to split my time between East Texas and the Northern Hill County.

Most of my time now (67% to be exact) is spent at Farnash Creek Ranch in the Northern Hill Country of Texas. We are in a soil type call the Grand Prairies according the the Texas Almanac. We are just south of the Western Cross Timbers and just north of Edwards Plateau. The soil is alkaline with shallow dark-gray clumpy loams over rocky limestone which means it is difficult to cultivate. Growing has been much more difficult to get started. It is hard to penetrate and we often have to get inventive with growing strategies. A mere shovel will not do the trick for our seedlings.

shovel

We have to do much more preparation for the soil. But we are learning when we prepare and work our soil for the roots we want to plant, they will flourish. We remove the rocks or obstacles for growing and the soil becomes a soft fluffy bed of growing gold. The rains will come again and attempt to harden our ground but we will keep working it back to downy again and again. Nevertheless, I have no doubt once people get their roots to take hold they are there to stay. For me, this is unlike the Piney Woods where over time heavy downpours, cutting down or logging, and the compacted slippery clay minds cause things to wash away. And honestly, sometimes things need to wash away from our gardens- it is Mother Nature’s way of keeping balance.

I’m learning to love my Grand Prairie’s soil and grow in it each day! I am finding gratitude in all things these days because life is too short and precious to waste time complaining over bad dirt! Dirt let life’s ups and downs soil your whole garden!

– C

Gettin’ ReFarnash’d

britt and luke.jpg

Last week we had some visitors on the Ranch. My sister and her family came out to get ReFarnash’d! The Ranch is a great place for everyone to get rejuvenated and back to nature. Our family has had a particularly hard 2017 and we all needed to get renewed!

2017 was a season of sorrow and loss for us but we try to remember it is just a season of life that will pass. Our hearts will always be heavy for the losses we all share but we are grateful to still have each other.

My sister and our #4 daughter (Abby) share a birthday on March 13th which is usually spring break for us here in Texas. We have been so lucky to share those birthdays in such wonderful places such Ben and Jerry’s in San Francisco! But, this year we spent it on the ranch. We needed some ranch R&R or ReFarnashing! We started the day with breakfast in bed at the Frankston home before heading out to the Ranch! Lyla (my niece) and I decided she needed a big breakfast since it was such a BIG birthday!

breakfast

Then, we headed out to the Ranch. My sister and her husband did some detouring but Lyla and I headed straight for the antique stores (my choice not hers)! We had to make a few stops to get ready for the birthday celebrations. Once we arrived on the ranch we had a quick little candle blowing for the birthday girls……

abby bday.JPG

before we headed out on the new “little red wagon”!

wagon.jpg

Just kidding….. the battery was dead. So, we all headed out on the old “green mule”! Loaded with our usual Ranch Ramblers and the company of each others laughter! The next day we enjoyed a day at the Farmer’s Market picking up plants. We all spent the afternoon working in the garden getting ready for spring.

britt and chas.jpg

Lyla especially loved planting! More than anyone expected!

lyles in garden.jpg

That sounds like a fairy tale doesn’t it? We all know families are not fairy tales but they are what we make them. We all have a story but we can all choose happiness and love! We can blend families and try to help each other mend old wounds. It will take time, patience and understanding! It will take looking inside yourself and seeing things from others point of view. Nearly every visit there is a misunderstanding but on EVERY visit we are extremely grateful for the love of family and a feeling of belonging. I am so thankful to have such a beautiful and temperamental family! I guess I am the only one to blame! I would not have it any other way! Re-Farnash’d for 2018!

-C

It Takes a Village

You can’t always do everything yourself. It’s taken me a awhile to figure this out (mainly because I don’t listen.) Being out here on the Ranch has really opened my eyes to see that it really does take a Village to raise a family. Raising children, building fences, growing gardens, working cattle, and mucking horse stalls has honestly made me think about life in general, and how I want my daughter to be raised. We aren’t all perfect, but we are all perfect in our own way and when we come together to show our children how to be successful people, we become better ourselves.


I can’t teach my daughter everything, but I am blessed to be able to provide her with such a great support system that can teach her what I can’t. Luckily, Poppi can teach her to rope and Gramita(Leelee) can teach her to BE roped!

Sometimes you need your Gramita teaching you to ride…

And other days, you need your Poppi holding your saddle so you don’t fall!

It takes a village to build a fence in 20° weather with an 18 month old.

My point is, if you’ve got a village, keep them, and if you don’t, find one! Even if they’re a little off the beaten path, it’ll be okay! As long as the love is there you’ll have a child raised happy, smart, and LOVED!

I’ll be doing a monthly update from now on! Thanks for reading! **Sorry about the video, but if they’re gonna flaunting it, I’m gonna show it!!**

Transgender calves….??? 

This week at Farnash Creek Ranch we noticed one of our male calves sucking on a heifer’s titty. We DO NOT allow breastfeeding in public so we  immediately figured that he was sucking that titty because he really wanted to be a female calf instead of a male. We grabbed our gloves and equipment as fast as we could and threw him/her into the chute! Popi grabbed the scalpel, I grabbed the leg, and Gramita held the tail.  Popi then cut off his/her’s testicles! It seemed painless for him/her! We could see the happiness in this calves eyes, because finally he was a she! 

We have decided that at Farnash Creek Ranch our cows will tell us what gender they are and we will respect that 100% and do our best to accommodate our cattle! This coming up week we are doing at least 5 more ‘gender reassignment’ male to female! (Would be 6, but but one calve licked a ball and we guessed that meant that he wanted to keep his!)

It’s a hard life for cattle these days, but we feel that our herd will be happier picking there own genders! 

For everyone that is still reading: We did our 1st castration this week! Hopefully everyone got that I was joking throughout this post! We named him Cookie!

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Sunrise on the Ranch

It’s been a long week on the ranch. Popi has been recovering well, but we can’t keep him in the bed. We find him in the barn piddelin’ or looking for stray metal in the yard. It’s a full-time job looking after him, but we are grateful that he is doing better! 


Gramita has been taking control of the ranch this week. She rearranges the barn constantly, wakes up at 5am daily to feed and grain the horses, and started making cherry jam. She mows daily and we count the cows and calves every evening. 

Seydi has been very sassy this week, but she loves helping us water the dogs and horses (as long as she gets to play in the water!) she can’t wait until Popi gets to feeling better so they can play together! She doesn’t like seeing him in pain! 

We are waiting for the apartment in the barn to be ready. It was suppose to be finished last week, but they are a little behind. It will be finished soon, then we can start working on bigger projects. We have our rainwater collection system set up and are only waiting on the tank now. Next we will build a greenhouse and bigger chicken coop! Our project list goes on and on, but if you stick around I’ll update everyone on our newest projects and ideas.  

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Roundin’ up the Herd 

We started this week by rounding up some of our calves and tagging them! Gramita was looking like a professional this week! (Her books and YouTube videos are paying off!) Guess I can’t call her a weekend rancher anymore! We had to step up our game this week. Popi has been out sick! (That’s why I’m posting late.) He is doing great now though and will be back to hisself soon! Until then it’s just Gramita and I running the ranch! Here are some pics from this week!

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