Turkey Creek Lavender

Turkey Creek Lavender

Friday, July 22, 2011

Goat Farming with Eva

Today I'd like to introduce you to Eva and her goats. Eva works at the cattle ranch at the end of my road. She has various and assorted duties, but taking care of the calves just happens to be one of them. And to do that, she has to pass my place on her way to another pasture.

Eva and I met by chance one day. She was going by on her 4-wheeler on her way to check the calves, and I was hunkered down in the lavender field, perched on an overturned bucket, methodically cutting and banding bunches of lavender for the market. I heard her 4-wheeler go by, and I probably stuck up my hand in a half wave, as is customary when someone passes and we are outside. Most of the time I barely look up when someone passes, just wave and keep cutting. But I heard the 4-wheeler slow down, and Eva turned into the drive and cut the engine.

Naturally that got my attention. I was sweaty and unkempt from being out in the heat, and the dogs had left paw prints all over my shirt and shorts that morning. I think I had my hair stuffed under a baseball cap, too. Not exactly how I like to greet people. But I got up and walked toward her. She was asking if this was lavender with a distinct accent. Hmm, I thought, this is interesting. I confirmed that it was indeed lavender, and she was so enthralled. "I love lavender!" she exclaimed enthusiastically, bending to caress the stalks at her feet. I thought perhaps her accent was German, but I was wrong. Turns out Eva is from Czechoslovakia.

We stood out in the field carrying on a conversation about lavender and then I invited her into the soap trailer for a look around. As we looked at the soap selection I explained that I made all natural soap, and that I also made an all natural goats milk soap, but that my source for milk was drying up.

Her eyes got bright and she became excited as she talked about her goats, and how much milk they were producing. Naturally I got excited about finding this new source. I sent her on her way with a fresh lavender bundle and some products, and her assurance that she would be by with some milk for me the next day.

The rest, as they say, is history. This lovely young lady not only came by the next day, but every day after that for the next week with a gallon of milk a day. I was able to put countless pre-measured bags in the freezer for the goats milk soap.

As most of you know, I am somewhat enamoured of goats, so naturally I wanted to visit Eva's farm and see her lovely creatures, and she was only too happy to oblige. 

The buck in her herd is Chert, which, when translated, means Devil. He sort of had that devlish look about him. I felt like he was watching me the whole time I was there, kind of freaky like.

Seriously. I think he was staring me down. Are billy goats unpredictable? I don't know, and I don't want to find out. He is beautiful though, with his thick, glossy coat shining in the sun. I just sort of avoided staring at him directly. Just in case.

Here are some of the goats waiting patiently to be fed and milked. You can tell they know the routine. (See?! Chert is still staring at me!)

The little spotted one standing on a bench in the background was born this year. Eva said it is unusual to have spotted goats. Isn't she lovely, though?

She couldn't quite get her head in the feed trough so she just hopped right in to eat...

...while everyone else lined up to chow down.
Then the goats start lining up at the milking pen to wait their turn to be milked.

They are very patient. There is no jostling or pushing.

Eva has Boer, Nubian, Sanaan, and Lamancha goats. I'm not very good at identifying them so we'll have to ask her which is which.

This lovely doe is a Lamancha. See her ears? Lamancha's either have tiny ears, or are earless. She was so sweet and affectionate. She liked having her neck stroked, and she kept trying to nibble my camera strap. We bonded.

Eva hangs a bucket of feed on the wall and, while the doe is preoccupied, she gets to work milking. She likes to work in this small area to contain the goats and keep them calm.

The milk is then put into bottles to be used for the bottle-fed calves, but not before kitty gets a taste of the cream, which I shared with you in this post.

Some of the milk is saved for her family to drink. I have already made several batches of soap with her creamy, fat laden milk, and they are so deliciously smooth and luscious, with a fluffy, creamy lather.

I love hearing Eva's story. She came to the U.S. via California, then Colorado, then Oklahoma with her husband and daughter. She told me that when she was growing up in Czechoslovakia she always saw herself living on a farm, surrounded by her sweet goats. When she describes her homeland you can almost see it...rolling green pastures bordered by trees and hills. So lovely.

Our meeting was so serendipitous. I am so glad she stopped on her 4-wheeler, and so glad to have Eva as a friend. I think it's important in this life to be open to everyone, and everything. You just don't know what treasures are waiting for you!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Turkey Creek Farm Peace, Love, and Harmony Granola!

This was me in April 1980.

My how time flies! And how trends change. Are you diggin' the Farah Fawcett flippy do here?

Will and I had just been married not quite a year. {Sigh}

I love how the new generation (and mind you I'm not that old!) has embraced chickens in their back yards, and baking their own artisan bread, and eating organically, and drinking goats milk, making their own cheese, growing vegies, shopping at the Farmer's Market, buying local, and embracing the handmade...it's all great. I mean really, really great! Granted, it's nothing new, but it's comendable considering there is so much at their fingertips provided by the Wal-Marts of the world.
Circa 1980 Valley, Nebraska. Nana visiting my rather sad little garden

Why it is so important, and why this type of lifestyle is of such value, is that it keeps the old ways alive, and shines a spotlight on how it should be: living naturally, by the seasons, off the land, by your own resources. I think they've even coined the phrase, "the new food movement!" Go figure. I think people are just craving simplicity in their life.

A book I have thoroughly enjoyed from front to back this summer is "Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression," by Mildred Armstrong Kalish. Get it on your Kindle. Now that is a book about what it means to depend on the land, to live by the seasons, to spend the majority of your days planning, planting, harvesting, preparing, and putting by. Despite the current economy, people, we have it good!

And here's my recipe. I eat granola just about every day in one variation or another. And this recipe is so versatile you can add, or take away, what you like or don't like. And change up the nuts and fruits. Sometimes I feel like a tropical dried fruit mix, and sometimes I like dried cherries, blueberries, and walnuts. It's kind of whatever you like.

And wouldn't lavender honey be wonderful!? If you don't have any, infuse your own! Directions here!

Turkey Creek Farm
Peace, Love, and Harmony Granola

Dry mix
3 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup chopped pecans or almonds (or pepitas, sunflower seeds, cashews, etc.)
1 tablespoon of flax seed
1 tablespoon of wheat germ
Wet mix
1/2 cup honey (lavender honey is especially good!)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dried culinary lavender buds (for peace, love, and harmony!)
1 cup of whatever dried fruit you like; raisins, chopped dates, dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, tropical mix, etc. (Today I had raisins, dates, and cranberries in the pantry)
1/2 cup coconut (I sometimes add this to the dry ingredients for a toasted coconut flavor)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Thoroughly mix wet ingredients in a seperate bowl.

Now combine the two. Just use your hands.

I use a cookie sheet with a lip and my silpat non-stick pad, but you can grease your cookie sheet, or spray with a non-stick spray. Spread your granola mix out.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. It can brown really fast so you want to keep an eye on it. This morning I went to turn off the sprinklers and it got a little more golden brown than I like!

But I ate it anyway!

And there you have it, Turkey Creek Farm House Granola for Peace, Love and Harmony!

Great on yogurt! Goes especially well with our Hippie Joy soap! Lavender, patchouli, hemp oil (and those are ground flax seed ya'll!)

Far out!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Yummy All Natural Flavored Water to Help You Beat the Heat!

With the temp hovering around 103 and the heat index at 113 we've been drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. In fact, I don't really want anything else to drink but water. However good it is for you, water...well...it can get rather boring.

Sometimes I make skinny lemon water by adding a squeezed lemon and a few teaspoons of splenda, ditto for limes. And naturally I drink alot of lavender water. But lately I've been making tons of naturally flavored water with whatever fruit or veg is in the refrigerator that seems appealing. It's all natural, it's colorful, it's healthy, and you can have a snack when you get to the bottom of the glass! Best of all, you can be inventive and kids find it fun to create their own concoctions.

Sometimes I make this up by the pitcher and leave it in the fridge. Today it was by the glassful.

I started the day with cucumber water. Very refreshing!

Then watermelon water...

...then cucumber, watermelon, lemon water...

...then cucumber and mint water...
...ending the day with the whole shebang...cucumber, watermelon, lemon, mint...
...verrry tasty! I have to cut my basil and rosemary tomorrow so I'm thinking that's how I'll start the day! It does keep water from getting so boring, doesn't it?

Hope you're staying cool!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dark Chocolate Mint Soap! Zero Calories and a Whole Lot of Yum!

I have a confession. I looove chocolate and mint. Together. Candy, cookies, desserts and yes, finally, soap! I know you're thinking back to the Chocolate Covered Orange Soap, which was so wonderfully popular. Well, here's a new one for you chocolate devotees! I combined the yumminess of dark chocolate with the minty freshness of peppermint essential oil and it's oh so good! Like an Andes Mint, or a chocolate creme de menthe, or a Girl Scout Thin Mint. Just chocolate and minty freshness!

And now I get to go eat the props! See you tomorrow!

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Trip to the Lake and Blackened Walleye for Dinner

As you know, we're in the middle of a heat wave here in Oklahoma. I've lost track of how many over 100 degree days we've had in a row. Too many! I have to get up and out by sunrise to beat the heat just to cut a little lavender and take care of the chores around the little farm.

Well, yesterday the guys wanted to go fishing, and since the only place you can stay cool during the day is in, or on, the water I decided to tag along, drive the boat, and take the pictures.

We headed out to Lake Waurika at 4:30 a.m. It wasn't exactly cool out, but it wasn't blue blazes hot either. We arrived at the boat dock right before dawn. 

We were already out on the water and fishing when the sun came up. It was a strangely hazy sunrise, kind of hard to capture on camera, with a nice, cooling breeze coming off the water.

Nathan caught the first fish...white bass and sand bass. He fished two rods, one in each hand. I asked him if that was to improve his odds but he just grinned. 

Then Will caught a hybrid and a nice walleye, the perfect size for eating. Since I didn't have anything planned for dinner, we kept the walleye.

About 9:30 it was already starting to get hot, and the wind was picking up, so we trolled back to the dock and headed home.  

My idea for dinner was blackened walleye. I've made blackened fish before, but for some reason it never occurred to me to do it with walleye. Probably because it is such a mild flavored fish and we like it pan seared, or baked, or grilled.  I can tell you it was restaurant worthy when prepared this way, so if you're fortunate to catch a walleye you have to try it.

There's no recipe to blackened fish. Just high heat and cajun seasoning. (I buy the cajun seasoning at Sam's in the large container.) I use a cast iron skillet and heat it over high heat about 8-10 minutes until it's good and smokin' hot. Then I melt a stick of butter and dip a piece of fileted fish in the butter and sprinkle generously on both sides with cajun seasoning. Then I lay that puppy in the skillet and let one side blacken 2-3 minutes, turn and repeat on the other side. (It will smoke up the kitchen so be prepared with the exhaust fan,open a window, or do it outside!)

Red beans and rice, and some sliced fresh, summer tomatoes on the side...

...wonderful end to a wonderful summer day!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Life Lessons

If you don't want to hear my horrible clicking video, turn your volume down and just watch. However, you will miss the buzzing bees!

People ask me quite often why I do what I do. Why do you grow lavender? Why do you make soap? And I suppose the simplest answer is because I love what I do. Lavender is my gentle obsession. Always has been. I love everything about it. Everything. So why not do something I love? Soap making allows me a creative outlet I would not otherwise have. I'm not an artist, in the conventional sense of the word. I don't draw or paint very well. I can't sing, or play an instrument. I'm passable at sewing. But I can combine scents and colors, and the magic of alchemy, and create something beautiful and useful. My own form of self-expression that intertwines the things I love to do the most.

One of my favorite essays is by Ralph Waldo Emerson on Self Reliance. So many lessons to be learned by that one essay. So many.

"A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within..."

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."

"The need to create, be creative, is natural. Self expression is part of each of us and we have to quit resisting the natural impulse to express ourselves."

"Nothing can bring you peace but yourself."

And my favorite, "Dismiss the standards of society and follow ones heart. We only have ourselves to answer to in the end."

I feel like this poem by Mary Oliver speaks to my heart, and expresses so much of where I am in life right now. When you get to mid-life, and by mid-life I mean half of a hundred (assuming you will live to a hundred!) certain things become clear. So, when I had to put on my big girl panties and step out into the world of small business and (horror of horrors!) expose myself, I knew that a) I had nothing to lose by trying and everything to gain, b) If I didn't do it soon, I probably was not going to, c) If I failed I still had time to try again.

Despite the huge learning curve of navigating the ins and outs of small business, I knew I didn't want to work for anyone else. I wanted to work for myself. (Fortunately my husband has a job.) More importantly, I knew I wanted to live the last half of my life with purpose, and significance, and no regrets. 

The Journey

       by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Peace, dear friends. C

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day! Split Second Cookie Recipe! Fast and Easy!

"Oh beautiful for spacious skies,
for amber waves of grain.
for purple mountains majesty,
above the fruited plain.
America, America, God shed his Grace on thee,
and crowned thy good with brotherhood
from sea to shining sea."

This morning I had a visit from some lovely friends who came to see what is left of the blooming lavender. And they brought me a jar of delicious Strawberry Lavender Jam. Well, after scarfing some down with toast, (after they left, of course!) I remembered this recipe from Christmas. So easy and quick when time is at a premium. Or when it's so hot you just want to run from the kitchen!

I believe I originally got the recipe from Taste of Home, always a good source for yummy goodies. The original recipe called for raspberry jam, but I always use just what I have in the cupboard. Thought I had blueberry or blackberry for the blue, but, oh well. Guess we'll just have lavender strawberry and apricot today.

They have a Thumbprint Cookie kind of texture. I have rolled them in chopped pecans first, then filled. And sometimes I drizzle on a little powdered sugar glaze. They're so...What's my fave word? Versatile! Plus, I never follow a recipe exactly. That's the beautiful thing about baking and cooking...be creative folks!
A big thank-you to Sharri for the jam!

Split Second Cookies

3/4 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup jam, you choose the variety

1.In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.

2.Divide dough into four equal portions; shape each into a 12-in. x 3/4-inch log. Place 4 inches apart on two greased baking sheets. Make a 1/2-inch depression down center of logs; fill with jam.

3.Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes. Cut diagonally into 3/4-inch slices. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Hopefully you're not in the kitchen today and are out enjoying yourself. Wishing you a happy 4th of July! Celebrate that independent spirit!


P.S. You might also want to check last year's post on the S'More's Bar! Also a great way to stay out of the kitchen!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Cooking With Lavender: Lavender Salt, Incredible on Farm Fresh Cantaloupe

I thought I'd hop right on today's post and thank everyone for coming out to the Lawton Farmer's Market this morning. We wouldn't be there if it wasn't for the continued support of the Lawton community. We keep adding new vendors, which means we'll continue to grow. And that is a good thing. So, on behalf of all the vendors, Thank You!

Cedar Hill Quail Farm was there with their delicious quail eggs and today they had cute little 2 week old babies that were pre-purchased and awaiting pickup.

Always fascinating for young and old alike. 

This is Gary Grose of Tipton Valley Honey. He was sporting the most patriotic outfit of the day.

Boyd Isom is always ready with a little tip of the hat...

...and a ready smile. Boyd brings his free range eggs to the market along with assorted vegies from his garden.
One of our new vendors, Acadian Family Farm, had piles of fresh basil among their lovely produce. If you want to preserve a little summer for those cold winter months you can make fresh basil pesto and freeze it in ice cube trays, then bag it for a quick addition to winter soups and stews. 

Also new today, the Sappington's brought yummy varieties of fudge and canned goods. My particular fave? The Spicy Cajun Olives. Great tip from Mr. Sappington...after you eat the olives, pour the sauce over cream cheese and have on crackers as an appetizer or snack. 

From the Daniel's Farm south of Lawton, a big variety of produce plus these wonderful canteloupe.

Here's how you make a wonderful lavender salt to sprinkle on cantaloupe, corn on the cob, watermelon...you get the idea. I's so easy to make and adds such a wonderful flavor.

Lavender Salt
1 teaspoon culinary lavender
1/4 cup sea salt or kosher salt or table salt, basically your salt of choice
Finely grind the culinary lavender. Add to the salt, stir. Keep in a tightly sealed jar. Can be used immediately.

If I want it all to be finely ground I just put the salt in the grinder with the lavender.

That's it. You can also double the recipe, triple it, even quadruple it. It really gives plain old salt a kick and is incredibly delicious on cantaloupe.

You can visit the member pages at the Lawton Farmer's Market site and see their farms and gardens. Isn't it nice to know where your food comes from? Straight from the farm to table! 


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