I have been feeling so scattered and pressured this beginning of the schoolyear that I have neglected to post since Labor Day Weekend. Not for want of trying, but nothing has come together! Every year I feel older when the start of the school year comes around and I find it more difficult to re-attune myself to this schedule. Another thing that kept me from even thinking about taking the time out to blog is that our older son, Sam, came up for a visit and stayed a whole week! It was a wonderful visit, I wish we lived closer to do that more often. While he was here we had the usual lobster extravaganza. I don’t remember eating much for dinner that night :*/
What we did another evening, however, was to put together a huge pan of eggplant parm. Sam loves to cook and it is always more fun to do something like that with some help. So John had an off -night and we are even, I guess! (I don’t eat lobster and he doesn’t eat eggplant parm).
So it has been quite a month. September has come and gone in a blink, and today is feeling like a real autumn day. I am looking forward to next weekend when our friend Bruce from NJ is coming up for a visit.
It’s just about time to say goodnight on the first day of the new year. We have had a very laid-back vacation this time around. We kept the holiday spending to a minimum this year and my favorite gifts were two: the gift of our son and our grandson being with us, as well as a visit from wonderful old friends from New York. It made for a crowded household: 5 adults, two teenagers, one baby and 6 dogs :*) It was a great visit. We always enjoy sharing our home and our little corner of Maine with good friends. And I don’t think that anyone minded the lobster dinner!
We have been scrimping on everything these days as, like everyone else, we are trying to make ends meet and make do with less. We try to think creatively, and recently we feel we really got onto something good! When we take our chickens to the butcher we need to put them into crates of some sort, and a friend of ours usually has one or two to lend us, but nothing that will really get us all the way there. Used chicken crates are hard to come by as no one seems willing to part with them! New, even in catalogs, they cost about $75 each. The way our birds grow, we can only fit 7 or 8 in one of those. So. Living on the coast of Maine, we have some supplies at hand that most folks wouldn’t ordinarily see in their neighborhoods: lobster traps! A neighbor of ours makes lobster traps for a living and we approached him about making some custom chicken-carriers. They are beauts! This is John standing behind two of them with the top open:
We didn’t break the bank, and the crates are nice and easy to handle as well as easy to get the birds into and out of. We love them! And the bonus is that they are roomier and can hold more chickens.
I have been running into a frustrating situation with my cheese-making as well. I have been using a lasagna pan, stainless steel cake rack and plastic cheese mats to drain the cheeses, first in the forms and then without the forms after salting, and it was cramped and small and not working really well. The salt was beginning to break down the finish on the cake rack as well (even though it’s stainless, I don’t think it’s solid stainless!). So our friend Pam (Hatchtown Farm) suggested that we get a piece of shrimp trap wire and use that (shrimp trap wire has smaller openings in the grid than the lobster trap wire). We kept mulling it over, and finally decided to go see our trap-making friend and find out if he could bend some wire so that it doesn’t just sit on top of our stainless container, but somehow fit into it or attach to it somehow. So he came up with another great product for Ruit Farm: the cheese drainer that slides onto our giant stainless chafer!
Chevre draining in forms (left) and salted chevre draining (below); you can see the black trapwire under the cheese mats
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!