Adventures in farming in Central Texas.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ways to follow the new blog

Howdy folks, I finally figured out how to add the Google Follow function to the new Sand Holler blog.  If you would like to continue reading about the farm adventures, updated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, go to our new website and look on the right column for 'Sign In' with the Google logo.

Gasp.  I've also created a Facebook page if you would rather receive updates that way.  I swore I would never do it, but it's happened!  Just search for us there, "like" the farm and get blog posts pushed to your news feed!  (I think...I'm new to the whole thing!)

Thanks for reading folks.  I miss your comments - come on over to the new blog!

Monday, May 16, 2011

New website and blog home!

We've completely redesigned the website and updated all the content.  A lot has changed on the farm since first making the site a few years ago.  We are pretty happy with the way things look over there!

Also, the blog is now premanently relocated to the regular Sand Holler website.  This will be the last post over here at blogger.  But keep reading about our adventures on the new blog!

New Sand Holler Blog!

I haven't quite yet been satisfied with any "feeds" or "follows" for the new site but do stay tuned as I hope to be adding that feature there soon!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

More and more babies!

More babies are coming along every day now!  Shellie was the first with the triplets and now we have six more.  We still have one goat past her due date so any day now.  Things have been crazy (like every spring...), so I don't have too many pictures downloaded yet to show off.

But speaking of showing off, I thought I would at least post a picture of the proud Papa of about half the goatlings this year.  The last two years, we've bred to Valentino but finally decided we needed some new blood in the works, so along came Cinnamon!  He was a bit of a beast and spent much of his time on the roof of the barn!

And speaking of being a beast...Willa spent much of the weekend pestering the new garden guineas.  She loved to make them squawk and send up their alarm call! 

In other news...ok, you're going to think we are crazy.  Here goes.  We had a "sighting" at the farm.  It might as well have been an alien spaceship for all the incredulity.  A large, 100 poundish, spotted cat jumped out of the creek bed and walked slowly across the road to the neighbor's property.  Yeah....we are talking jaguar or leopard.  My brother, who saw it, is leaning towards jaguar.  He is probably the only person I would believe who came to me with reports of a jaguar wandering around the farm.  Apparently it was well fed, so we are assuming escaped pet or zoo critter.  We even have a zoo 10 miles away but they claim to have never had a spotted cat in their collection (establishing deniability for liability reasons!?  :P).  So....could this have been on the farm?!?!?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Just "Kidding" Around

The first of this spring’s kids finally arrived last week! Shelli gave birth to triplets – Beatrice, Baxter, and Bartholomew…can you tell that we have a “B” theme this year? Despite the first kid coming out in the wrong position, the birth went well and the kids are growing like weeds. Unlike some other baby animals (I'm thinking puppies), goat kids are incredibly cute the instant they are born. They were all wagging their tails and investigating their surroundings in a matter of minutes. Here are some photos!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Shearing Day

Tuesday was shearing day for the sheep at Sand Holler. This was my first experience with sheep shearing and I was surprised to learn how difficult it can be to find an experienced shearer. The shearer that we found doesn’t live in Texas, but travels through a few times a year going from farm to farm. I also learned that the quality of the fleece you get depends, in part, on the skills of the shearer. A good shearer doesn’t make “second cuts” – that is, they clip the whole length of the fiber off in one go and don’t have to clip the same spot twice. When the fiber is processed, the shorter pieces are often discarded because they are not suitable for spinning. Now that we have all this nice fiber the question is…what’s next? With any luck, we’ll be able to post a photo of a Sand Holler wool rug before the next shearing. Marissa - Do you still have that drop spindle?

Linden was ready for his haircut! Being a sheep in central Texas gets hot.

Two minutes later..."Whoa, what happened?!"

Who knew Morus looked like a Dalmation under all that fleece?

Desi, our ram, doesn't look nearly as intimidating without his wooly coat.

Bags of fleece ready for processing!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Greens and goat cheese ravioli

This week we ventured yet again to the delightful neighborhood cheese shop in Hyde Park - Antonelli's.  It was mainly to get their wonderful parmesan but we can't really get away from trying a few cheeses anytime you pop in.  Their latest newsletter had informed me of two new arrivals that I wanted to try - Ewephoria (a sheep milk cheese of course!) and a Wensleydale.  The Ewephoria is a gouda-style cheese from Holland...and it is delicious.  Still nutty like many sheep cheeses, this one has more sweetness and less of the typical untamed gaminess of other sheep cheeses I've tried.  So of course, that came home with us too!  The Wensleydale wasn't too Chad's liking - I think mostly because we tried it after the Ewephoria.  But before we can sneak out of the shop with just one extra thing than we had intended, John pulled out a flavored soft cheese that wowed us both.  Now, everyone in the shop knows Chad doesn't like goat cheese - and that's preciously why John didn't tell us what it was before we tried it.  It's the first batch of Pure Luck Dairy 'June's Gold'.  A simple chevre mixed with honey, thyme, and cracked pepper.  Marvelous!  So I convinced him to give it a go at home and make something with it.  This is what we ended up with:

Greens and Goat Cheese Ravioli serves 4


14 ounces greens - spinach or chard for a mild taste, we added in about 1/3 broccoli leaves (can use kale too!)

1 egg
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup grated parmesan
3/4 cup goat cheese
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp cracked pepper
drizzle of honey


You can use any recipe you like - I've been working with this one lately:  "Homemades"

You can make the filling while letting the pasta rest.

1.  Rinse greens and cook over medium heat with just the water clinging to the leaves.  For spinach cook for about 5 minutes, for other thicker greens, cook for 10 minutes.  You want them well done.  Let the greens cool and squeeze out any excess water.  Chop finely.

2.  In a bowl, mix the greens with the rest of the filling ingredients.

3.  Fill the ravioli (for instance, using this technique) and spread on a floured surface for 30 minutes, turning over once or twice to let them dry.

4.  Boil salted water and cook for 5 minutes.

5.  Dot with butter and chopped sage.  YUM!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

GMO Alfalfa

Genetically Engineered Alfalfa On the Way

Our goats eat a lot of alfalfa - it's what makes their milk so sweet.  We have yet to find a source of local/organic/sustainable alfalfa (it isn't grown in this part of the country commercially).  We just buy what's at the feedstore and don't know much about its origin.  And now we have something else to worry's a message from Scott:

Ever heard of Percy Schmeiser?

Some of Monsanto's GMO canola seeds blew onto his family farm in Canada and sprouted.  When Monsanto found out about it, they sued him for patent infringement, even though he was completely innocent.  The case went all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court and cost Schmeiser his life savings.  The final decision was a draw.  Schmeiser didn't have to pay Monsanto but they retained their patent…and thus the ability to treat the next guy exactly the same way.

The new GMO alfalfa approval seems like a horrible magnification of exactly the same problem.  Apparently alfafa pollen is carried by bees and other insects over a distance of several miles.  This means every alfalfa field will be contaminated with the stuff before long and Monsanto….bless their black little corporate heart….will be able to sue hundreds of folks for patent infringement.   It would easily drive an honest hard-working farmer out of business.

Since Secretary Vilsack has already given the approval for GMO alfalfa, it seems like the only recourse is to appeal to the President.  I have already written him

and encourage yall to do the same.