Conservatory Winter 2015

We may have had record cold temperatures last night, but in the Meduseld Conservatory it is still paradise.  I thought our readers might like a break from the bitter cold and monochromatic landscape, and see the lush greens of the growing season.  So, if you feel like sunning like this Green Anole lizard, follow me on this pictorial tour :)

Green Anole Lizard is a resident of our conservatory

Green Anole Lizard is a resident of our conservatory

 

Meyers Lemon Tree Blossom

Meyers Lemon Tree Blossom

 

Navel Orange blossoms

Navel Orange blossoms

 

Jabuticaba Berries and Blossom

Jabuticaba Berries and Blossom

 

Thomasii Banana

Thomasii Banana

 

Italian Flat Leaf Parsley

Italian Flat Leaf Parsley

 

Herb Bed

Herb Bed

When it is too cold to work outside, working in the conservatory is perfect.  Our latest project has been adding a 700 gallon Koi pond, complete with our “Bridge Over the River Koi.” (You’ll have to be older to understand that one :) )

 

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Here, Sloan is working on the waterfall fountain.

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Please remember there are only 8 days left for Free Shipping on any order from Meduseld’s store.  Please purchase some yarn to help offset Buttercup’s c-section.  The code is Buttercup.  Here is a link to our store!  Meduseld Store

Lambs 2015

We have had some more lambs the last few days.  Here is an angelic darling born this morning.  Her mother is a Jacob-Shetland cross named Elsa, and her sire is Samson, a very friendly Romney.

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Here is another photo of Aslan, who was born a month ago.  He has already grown a good deal and is looking very fit.

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We have been liming the pastures and will be over-seeding them with mixed pasture grasses and legumes.  The legumes fix nitrogen in the soil and provide more diverse grazing for the sheep.  February and March are good months for doing this since with the thawing ground the animals can “hoof it in.”  In other words, the sheep’s hooves press the seeds into the ground and save us from having to till the seeds into the earth.

The groundhog saw his shadow last week, but I don’t believe him.  The birds are making spring calls outside already, and the geese have been mating on the pond.  Hoping for an early Spring :)

 

 

Buttercup Yarn Sale – Free Shipping Code

The last 36 hours have been tumultuous at Meduseld Farm.  Beatrice’s little darling sheep, Buttercup, went into pregnancy toxemia and her calcium levels bottomed out.  We took her for an emergency visit to the veterinarians at Mountainview Veterinarians in Keyser.  We brought her home late Wednesday evening, only to have her go into labor yesterday morning.  For all the little darling’s efforts, she could not force the baby out, even with the help of the veterinarians who came to our farm.  Back to the animal hospital last night for a c-section.  It was no wonder that she could not have the baby naturally – it weighed nearly fifteen pounds!  Unfortunately, the baby did not survive the ordeal, but Buttercup is better and on the mend, with a large 13 inch long incision on her side.

Emergency c-sections are not cheap!  We have decided to have a sale for Buttercups medical expenses.  Any purchase of yarns or other textiles like blankets, handmade shawls, etc from Meduseld’s store will enjoy FREE SHIPPING!  Please use the code:  Buttercup

Here is a link to the store!  MEDUSELD STORE

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As an additional bonus, each purchase will enter your name into a drawing on February 28, 2015 for a free bottle of maple syrup!

Coupon code is good until February 28, 2015.  Thanks in advance for helping us with sweet Buttercup!

 

 

Eating Local and David Austin Roses

Pigs are an exception, since they can be a very dangerous animal to have around children.  We raised two pasture pigs several years ago.  We made a butcher appointment for them on the same day we found they had killed one of the newborn lambs.

Turning to the grocery stores for pork is not an option.  Eating meat from a CAFO (confined animal feeding operation) is not what we consider good nutrition.  Fortunately, there is a local farm that raises wonderful pastured pigs called Watermark Farm.  We picked our pig up this weekend from Gores Butcher and are delighted.  Last night we enjoyed this delightful pork loin cooked in mustard and Esther’s potatoes coated with butter and dill.  Beside being a wonderful meal it gave us satisfaction that we supported local families.  Additionally it reminded us how much we benefit from their hard labor.  We are grateful!

Watermark Farm Pork with Mustard Sauce

Watermark Farm Pork with Mustard Sauce

Dr. Mercola reported in his article today that the world’s top-soil will be depleted in 60 years at the rate that commercial agriculture is using it.  Please!  Support local farms that raise food sustainably!

January is the time when our mailbox fills with gardening catalogs, and it gives me such a surge of hope for Spring.  I am not a winter child and view snow and cold suspiciously.  Having lived in Brazil, I don’t see much need for the stuff.  One of the most inspiring catalogs was from David Austin Roses.  We have shown pictures of some of these stunning beauties in our garden.  This year, I am going to turn the front fenced yard into another herb garden and intersperse additional roses in these beds.  Now for the really good news!  They have a generous 25% off coupon code if you order by February 27!  It’s:

UFS

That’s it.  I don’t get a kickback or any revenue, but I do think they have lovely roses.  Go to their website for gorgeous pictures that are so heavenly you can almost smell them.  Their website is www.davidaustinroses.com

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Winter Photos

We had some wonderful guests this weekend.  They took some lovely pictures that we’d like to share with you.

photo credit:  Lee Avrashov

photo credit: Lee Avrashov

 

photo credit:  Lee Avrashov

photo credit: Lee Avrashov

 

photo credit:  Lee Avrashov

photo credit: Lee Avrashov

Smoked Salmon and Charcuterie

We often have company, and naturally you want to put out your finest food for guests.  Going to the grocery store lately, though, has been depressing with the costs of foods escalating rapidly, and package sizes shrinking.  (By the way, the Commerce Department removed the cost of food from the cost of living index.)  When I calculate the cost per pound for favorites such as smoked salmon and proscuitto, or even more dificult to find German Lachs Schinken, they range around $25.00 a pound and up.  Not an option on this household budget!

When there’s a will there’s a way as the saying goes, and usually when I am faced with “you can’t” I find a way to respond with “who says?”  This approach has led to finding affordable solutions as long as I’m willing to do the research and the work.

I am going to share with you how to make gorgeous, moist, smoked salmon and provide a little background on charcuterie in general.

Smoked Salmon done in Umai Bag

Smoked Salmon done in Umai Bag

Charcuterie is a method of curing meat to extend its shelf life.  This was extremely necessary during times without electricity and refridgerators.  The flavors and textures that develop make it worth making even with modern conveniences.  The salt used to preserve the meat dehydrates the cells of the proteins, changing its flavor and enhancing or concentrating it.  It changes the texture of the meat akin to cooking it.  Thanks to a recent invention by Umai Dry (you can purchase a kit with this link), you can replicate this process at home with your own fridge – no need for a temperature and humidity controlled room or appliance.

Originally charcutierie was a process thought limited to pork products, but all sorts of meats and fish can be preserved using these methods.  A favorite is salmon.

This recipe is inspired by one from Umai Dry’s website.

Cure Mixture – This recipe makes extra which you can store in a jar.

2 cups Kosher or sea salt

2 cups organic sugar

2 teaspons black pepper

2 teaspoons dill

2 teaspoons garlic

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 bay leaf

Combine mixture.  I save extra mixture in a quart canning jar.

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Buy an approximately 2 pound piece of salmon, wild caught is healthier, but use what is available that is very fresh.   Make sure you have its exact weight without wrapping/packaging materials.  Calculate half the weight, and weigh exactly that amount of cure mixture.

Leaving the skin on, rub the entire surface of the salmon flesh with a liberal amount of paprika.  Place the salmon in a durable plastic bag with a zip type closure, or you can do this in a flat glass dish with a good lid.  Pour the measured amount of cure mixture all over the salmon – both sides and rub it in gently.  Add a teaspoon of Liquid Smoke Seasoning.  Seal bag and place in fridge.

Each day, take bag and gently massage the salt cure around the salmon.  The salmon flesh should take on the extra red color from the paprika, and the salt cure will begin to extract fluid from the fish.  The salmon should be turned daily in this mix for seven days.  It will look like this.

Salmon in Salt Cure

Salmon in Salt Cure

On the seventh day, remove the salmon from the bag and rinse it in cold running water.  Pat it dry with paper towels.  Take an Umai Dry bag and wrinkle the top of it in order to help your vacuum sealer remove air.  Insert one of the Umai “mouses” (a white strip of plastic fabric) into the area where your vaccum will seal the bag.  Vacuum until the air has been removed and seal.  Move the bag slightly and seal a second time to insure a good seal.

Place your salmon filet on a cookie rack in your fridge.  Try to get several inches of air circulation under the cookie rack as well as above it.  I find that this rack from Wilton is ideal and does not take up much space in the fridge.

After 10-12 days in the fridge, take out of its Umai Dry bag, slice thin and enjoy!

I am presently experimenting with charcuterie methods for venison and various cuts of pork.  Stand by for progress on those cured meats!

 

 

Catching Up

Hard to believe it has been so long since my last post.  The fall has had an unprecendented amount of work, and things are just now slowing down enough that I can sit down and touch base with everyone.

Since the Shenandoah Fiber Festival we have been schooling, canning, handling our ongoing Appeal before the Commonwealth of Virginia, having to meet with local government people about bear-dog trespassing issues, tending the sheep, internet and computer problems, getting new construction under roof, and laundry, and more laundry :)  Just today, I have already: fixed breakfast, supervised childrens’ school work, walked the power line with JAFLO to let them know what trees we’d let them cut, updated company information with the State Corproation Commission, three loads of laundry, tried to fix my computer (system restore point missing), and had to restart my internet connection three times during the time I’ve worked on this article.  And it’s only 11:30.

On the positive side, we’ve also gone hunting, had visits from some wonderful friends and enjoyed our first snow-fall – at least the children did – I won’t go out in that stuff!  Chalk it up to my time in Brazil, but I am still suspicious of anything that cold!  We also have healthy, tasty food put aside in the cellar.  We even had strawberries in our garden until November 9!

Strawberry plants in October - Mara des Bois

Strawberry plants in November – Mara des Bois

Even when physically busy, my mind is always churning on what to do with fleeces.  What kinds of rovings and yarns to get from the mill – what sorts of products to focus on for next year.  And we have lambs and maple sysrup to look forward to early next year.  I look forward to updating the store with new products as they come in, and hopefully the New Year will bring many happy new products and developments.

We started decorating the house for the holidays, and will select our tree this weekend on the Feast of Saint Nicholas.  Wishing a blessed Advent to everyone!

 

We are off to Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival!

Goodness, gracious we have been busy, but we are finally packed and ready to drive to the Berryville Fairgrounds and set up our booth.  Looking forward to seeing everyone at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival this weekend in Berryville!

 

Here is the link with details and directions.  http://www.shenandoahvalleyfiberfestival.com/

 

Please make a point of coming by Meduseld’s booth to say hello!

 

Here is a teaser of some of the products we have this year :)

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