Friday, November 2, 2007

when sister Laurie says Amen
we won't hear anything
that ten-car train will take that word
that fledgling bird

and the fallen house across the way
it'll keep everything
the baby's breath
our bravery wasted
and our shame

Thursday, November 1, 2007

big news

Emily, the 7-month old black Japanese silkie bantam I raised from a chick is now all grown up. Her and Mac, the high combed silkie rooster are going to be parents. Yesterday I couldn't find emily anywhere, she usually is out in the yard with everyone else but only Mac was scratching around near her coop. I looked inside and there was a quiet pile of feathers. Being a pesimist when it comes to livestock, i assumed she died in the night. But when I went to touch her she snapped at me. I lifted her up and found a HUGE pile of bantam eggs under her, a toasty 90 degrees in the Idaho fall. We're going to be parents!

Mac and Em are the only two bantams left on the farm (the others went to other homes, and we suffered one casualty, a passion crime by Mac himself I suspect). And they have their own ramshackle coop that apparently is quite the loveshack. Emily is sitting on a clutch of 17 eggs!! Now, chances are ¾ of those can’t hatch and the ¼ left that might doesn’t have much of a shot if they do. She’s a new mom and probably isn’t doing things like she should, but if any of them do manage I’ll be scooping the mother, father and her brood and moving them into the garage for winter childbearing. So that’s the big news, possibility of little black chicks on the farm in the next few weeks!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Hallows

Happy Halloween everyone! After last night's jam I came home all worked up and musical so I recorded that sordid banjo tune I was talking about as a little audio treat. It was made up here at the farm while I watched the ravens glide and hop around the back hayfields. I'm new to the banjo so there's mistakes in there, but it's just for kicks so enjoy.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Jackapple cake

I’ve been baking my father’s apple cake recipe and adding my own little experiments with it. I think this one takes the prize, try it this weekend, you won’t regret it.

Jackapple cake

3 large farm eggs
2 ¾ cup flour
3 large apples (go with braeburn or gala, if you get fuji use 4)
No red delicious apples, bake like garbage
¼ cup fresh press cider
2 cups sugar
¼ cup honey, heated
1 stick butter (half melted)
1 ¾ cup vegetable oil
Tablespoon vanilla extract
Tablespoon baking powder

Peel and dice apples and place in a large bowl with 1 ½ cups sugar (set aside other half cup for topping), sprinkle over them a light coating of cinnamon, and mix into a cobbler, then dribble warm honey over and mix that in as well. Set in fridge for 2 hours to let cure. Do not skip this step. When apples are cured, add all wet ingredients (half melted stick off butter, eggs, oil, extract) and mix with large wooden spoon. Add in tablespoon baking powder. Add flour half a cup at a time and stir in batter more than you think you need too. Batter will seem wet and yellow. Good. Pour into greased cake pan. Now melt other half stick of butter, add to it the sugar and some cinnamon and mix them into a wet paste. Use a pastery brush to lather it over the batter, making a sugar crust to bake into the cake. Bake at 350 degrees 30-40 minutes. Check after 27, when knife comes out clean it’s done. Serve warm with stove-top cider.

raven music

Things are cold on the farm. The grass is all white tipped and the chicken’s water fonts are frozen in the morning. When I take the dogs out at dawn, William the rooster crows and his breathe rises like a little puff of smoke. His girls are laying again. The light in the coop did the trick. Now they have 12 hours of simulated daylight and I’m getting about 2 eggs a day from the production reds (Mary Todd and Mindy). Compared to July’s 20 eggs a week it’s not much at all, but enough to keep me in baking and breakfasts, so I really can’t complain. I’ll be insulating their coop this weekend and getting a fireproof heat bulb to keep the coop a toasty 55 degrees all winter long. I think the silkies will be moving into the garage in a cage, they can stretch their legs in the kitchen like the rabbits do. I can’t keep them out in -10 degree weather without some sort of apparatus like the big girls have, and I’m not about to build them their own contraption so inside it is.

The banjo and I are now consistent acquaintances, but not yet friends. I have three songs down and memorized and am getting better at the clawhammer strumming, but it’s not second nature like the fiddle is. Plucking is more work for me than bowing, but it sounds so nice and even Annie doesn’t complain about it. She’ll curl up right at my feet on the couch when I play. I’m writing a song now that’s perfect for Halloween in double C tuning. It’s working title is “black footed raven” because the music sounds how the ravens look when they hop in the hayfields behind the house.