Welcome to Legal Tender Farm

Welcome to Legal Tender Farm

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wood Burning Furnace

This is supposed to be our future heat source for the house.  It is a wood burning furnace that is made to be hooked up into the existing HVAC ducting of a home.

Our regular gas heater is inside the house in a closet that is right on the other side of the wall to the left of this furnace, which is sitting on the back porch.  The furnace has a chimney pipe that goes up through the ceiling of the porch and through the roof.  There are two pipes that come out the top that will be hooked up to the ducting that is above our current heater and there are two blowers attached to the back of the furnace that will force the air into the ducts and out the vents in the house.

The reviews that Tom read said they didn't need the blowers.  We'll try it with and without to see what works best.  This should end our dependence on propane heat and it's supposed to burn far less wood than our fireplace does, although I do like using our fireplace because it feels so cozy.

We're waiting on the AC guy to come hook it up.  Tom could do it himself, but our home insurance company insists on a professional install or they won't insure us.  It's a pain waiting on the AC guy because he's the same guy that did the barn apartment HVAC system and he is notorious for not showing up when he says he's going to.  We've already wasted weeks on him, not to mention having to run our heater.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Like Black Friday at Walmart

I sold some goats today, listing them on craigslist.com last night. 

I listed our four girls born this spring, 50 bucks each or 160 for all and within ten minutes some guy texted me (at midnight) that he wanted them.  After a string of texts, we agreed that he'd pick them up at 10:00 this morning.

Then, this morning I had e-mails and phone calls galore.  When I told the responders that the goats were supposed to be picked up at 10, they each made me promise that I'd call them if the buyer didn't show up.  One woman even got a bit miffed at me telling me that she emailed me last night and "didn't you get an email from Ruby?" like I purposely ignored her email so I could sell the goats to someone else. 

I guess I priced the goats too low.  Tom told me after the fact that female goats are going for 90+ at the sale barn.  Oh well, the guy, who was willing to drive an hour to pick them up, got a great deal and I probably made his day.  I didn't make a profit, but I just wanted to shrink the herd and not have to feed them all through the winter.  I really would like to have polled the responders to find out exactly why they were so anxious to buy my unregistered goats.  Was it the price?  Was it because they were Boer/Nubian crosses?  Did they want them for resale or for their own use?

We're down to two Boers, two Kikos, and two Nubians.  All are pregnant except for the Kikos because they're too young still.  And we just had the three boys butchered, so our freezer if full.  I definitely am going to have to start cooking more.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

At Long Last...Wedding Pics!

Been waiting to get my copy of the CD from the photographer.

All flowers by Meagan.  Her beautiful bouquet.

We put tea lights in mason jars and hung them from the rafters.

We made this flag bunting to section off this area of the chapel and we also strung it up in different areas.


...served in mason jars.

We froze berries in star-shaped ice cube trays for the drinks.

And this is what we did with that old farm sink that Tom made the stand for.  There were outhouses on the grounds, so we made the signs, "Ladies" and "Gents", made a skirt for the sink, provided soap and hand towels, and used a watering can for hand washing.

Meagan and I went to the flea market and found these vintage lapel pins.  We pinned them in a cluster for her hair ornament.

Meagan used huge round balloons as part of her decorations and to take photographs with.

Afterwards, the kids had fun playing with them and whoever could convince their parents to fit them in their cars could take them home.

Blue checkered tableclothes with burlap runners and loads of flowers in old crates, milk glass vases and mason jars adorned the food tables.

We had THE greatest band.  They played the processional, then all through the reception.

Part of the tables with burlap runners.


Goings Ons

I moved these mandevilla and bougainvillea into the greenhouse last week because there was supposed to be a freeze.  I was under the impression that a greenhouse would protect plants from freezes.  Apparently, that is not the case.  The plants are now completely dead.  Somewhere I read that I should put a barrel of water in the greenhouse.  Theoretically, the water would heat up during the day and then the heat would dissipate during the night and help, at least a little, to keep some warmth in the greenhouse.  Also, not true.  The water in the barrel remains cold at all times.

I wanted to grow some veggies in the greenhouse this winter...maybe some lettuce or tomatoes.  So, the question is, what is the trade off in cost?  Is it cheaper just to buy lettuce and tomatoes at the grocery store or to heat the greenhouse during the night with heat lamps or a space heater?

This is our new propane tank.  Think it's big enough?  After we get it taken off of the trailer, Tom is going to hook it up to a generator so that if we lose power, the propane will run the generator, which will power the house. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Our Family Cheesecake

I started making this cheesecake at Thanksgiving many years ago when my siblings and I could still all get together for the holidays because our kids were young and didn't have their own lives.  It became a tradition for us that continues still.  This is the one that I made earlier this week and took to our partial family gathering in Oklahoma.

Here's the recipe.  It's somewhat labor intensive (in my opinion), but well worth it because it tastes wonderful.  The notes in my recipe book say it originated from Good Housekeeping and was called "Chocolate Zebra Cheesecake".  I've changed it somewhat to fit our gluten free needs and I call it:

Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups gluten free ginger snap cookie crumbs
(if you don't like ginger snaps, you can use any other cookie crumbs, Oreos are especially desireable)
3 Tbs. butter, melted
3/4 cup chocolate chips
4 8-oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 Tbs. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
5 large eggs
8 oz. sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
8 1-oz. squares semi-sweet baking chocolate

Early in the day or a day ahead, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9" x 3" springform pan.  In bowl, mix the cookie crumbs and melted butter; firmly press onto bottom of springform pan for crust.  Bake crust 12-15 minutes.  Remove crust from oven; sprinkle with chocolate chips.  Let stand several minutes until the chips soften, then spread evenly over crust.  (Note:  this does not work with old chocolate chips so make sure yours are fairly fresh...trust me on this)  Refrigerate.

With mixer at medium speed, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy.  In small bowl, mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt; gradually beat mixture into cream cheese until blended.  With mixer at low speed, gradually beat in eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and cream until blended and smooth.

Divide batter evenly into two containers with pouring spouts.  In small saucepan over low heat, melt the baking chocolate.  Stir chocolate into one of the bowls of batter.

To create the swirl design, pour half of the light batter into the springform pan.  Holding the dark batter about two feet above the pan pour about half of it directly into the center of the light batter.  Pouring from this height will cause batter in center of cake to be pushed toward edge of pan, forming a bull's eye design.  Repeat procedure three times, decreasing the amounts of batter each time and pouring from high above the pan only into the center.  Top of cake should look like a series of concentric circles.

Bake cake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then turn the oven control down to 225 and bake for one hour and 45 minutes or until center is set.  Turn oven off and let cake remain in the oven for one hour.  Remove cheesecake from oven; run a thin-bladed spatula or knife around the edge of cake to loosen from side of pan.  Cool cake in pan on wire rack.  Refrigerate cake at least six hours or until well chilled.


For extra decadence make this chocolate glaze/shell to coat cake with (I've done this a few times and it is very good, but extra rich).  In saucepan over medium heat, heat 1/2 cup of heavy cream until bubbles form around edge of pan.  Remove saucepan from heat.  Stir in four 1-oz. squares of semi-sweet baking chocolate until melted and smooth.  Cool glaze for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile carefully remove cake from pan to cake plate; with spatula, spread the glaze over the top and side.  Refrigerate 30-45 minutes until glaze is set.

To prevent your cheesecake from cracking, place a ramekin filled with water in the oven while baking the cake.

My light batter is extra yellow because I use free range organic eggs from our own chickens.  Expect your cake to be a lighter color if you are using store bought eggs.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Big Dig

Wow, it's been about a month since I've added to my blog.  All I can say is that we've been crazy busy.  The pond is finally finished and we're awaiting floods of rain to fill it up.  So far, we've gotten a few inches, but the pond really can't tell.

The front part is the the main part of the original pond with the water that made it through the summer.  The spot of water beyond that is water from an underground spring that started bubbling up while the digging was going on.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Second Cousins

All four second cousins made it to the wedding.  Four boys in 18 months makes four great grandsons for Mom.

What are the odds of getting them all together for a picture and all happy at the same time?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Naked Cake

The wedding was wonderful and fun.  I think it was everything that Meagan had hoped for and envisioned.  I didn't take any pictures and am waiting for ours from the professional photographer, Alisha Hurt, http://alishahurt.com/ .

In the meantime, friends have been posting their personal snapshots on facebook, so I copied this one for my own use.

The cake went together with absolutely no problems, despite the fact that my heart was pounding and my hands were shaking as I very carefully transported them to the site and stacked the tiers.  Our wedding day coordinator artfully arranged the berries at the last minute so they wouldn't get soggy and Meagan made the silhouette cake topper.

The cake is sitting on a framed mirror that I had found at an antique shop a couple of weeks ago.  It was the perfect size and perfect style.  It will be hanging in our barn apartment soon.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Do I Have Time for This?

Why yes, yes I do.

We had everything that could be set up done by around noon.  With great friends and family to help, I turned the reins over to the wedding coordinator, Alicia, and she's doing a great job.  We're all very relaxed.  The weather is beautiful, but the wind is blowing harder than necessary. 

This is the sky that we woke up to this morning.  It looks like we live at the base of a snow covered mountain, but we don't.  That is a bank of clouds or fog, I don't know which, but it was very disorienting to see that out there this morning.

This is from a little bit of a different angle.  It was a far as the eye could see.

It looks like we're TPing the pavillion, but we really aren't.  We're battling the wind trying to get the drapes hung.  Of course, Harry had to come down to the chapel to see what's going on.  The guys really did a great job getting them hung according to our specifications.  Patient guys.

It's time to deliver the cake.

Wish me luck.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tomorrow Is THE Day

OK, tomorrow is the day that we've been working towards for two months now.  Wow, it went fast.

My biggest anxiety has been the cake.

It is frosted and safely stowed away in the refrigerator.  Everything turned out straight and I managed to put them together without breaking any layers.  Whew!  Big and scary.  I didn't go grocery shopping or feed Tom all week because I knew I had to make room for this behemoth. 

Tomorrow I'll take them to the site and put them together.

Everything else is ready and waiting to be set up.

Rehearsal dinner tonight at our favorite restaurant...Indian food.  Yay!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Hardscape Done

We've finished the hardscape in our front yard landscaping project and it's ready for planting.

Here's one side of the walkway viewed from the front door.  I used the rest of that old saltillo tile that we took out of the house to line the top of the retaining wall so that nothing would grow in there, but I ran out.  Will have to figure out how to get some more or get some other kind of tile.  I already found some on craigslist, but haven't heard back from the seller yet.

The view walking up to the front door.  I planted a low growing Lime Thyme in that flagstone patio area.  Theoretically, the thyme will spread to all the cracks between the stones and will be nicely aromatic when walked on.  It's also supposed to be evergreen and hold up well to foot traffic, not that we walk around in that area much.

This is the other side viewed from the front door.  I already planted two white plumbagos and some lavender trailing lantana about halfway down to the corner of the house.  The lantana in the back yard is growing fantastically, so hopefully these will, too.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Wedding Sneak Peak

Tom has been working on building a stand for the old farm sink that I bought at the flea market last year.  There was no small disagreement as to how it should be built.  I gave up and left him to it and this is what he came up with.  I think he did a fantastic job.  It's intended purpose is for cleaning veggies out by the garden, but before that, we've found a use for it at the wedding.

And here are a few of the decorative items that will be used.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Wedding Nightmare Number Two

I know that listening to someone else's dream can be a bore, but I've had two nightmares about the upcoming wedding that I thought were somewhat remarkable because of the way that my mind resolved them in the end to make everything allright.

My first dream was a couple of weeks ago. In it we had gone all the way through the wedding and reception when I realized that I had forgotten something major. I don't remember now what it was, but I was aghast, "I forgot the (whatever)! Oh no, what a disaster!". Then I realized, "oh, this was just a trial run, so it's ok."

Second dream was a couple of nights ago. We were all dressed, Meagan in her wedding dress, me in a dress that was like a tube top that I couldn't pull down long enough to cover my hiney no matter how hard I tried, heading out the door on our way to the chapel. I suddenly gasped, "I forgot to bake the wedding cake! Oh no, what are we going to do!?". Then I remembered, "oh yeah, this is just a trial run, so it's ok."

What's with all the trial run weddings?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tonka Trucks...Supersized

Tom:  "Charles is going to teach  me how to drive his dump truck.  He'll fill it up, then I'll go dump it."

Me (with renting or leasing in mind):  "It sure would be nice to have two dump trucks so that while you're taking one to be emptied, Charles can be filling the other one up.  That way, he wouldn't be having to just sit around and wait for you to come back."

So...he bought one.  The next time I have some sort of time saving tips that might involve big machines.  I will keep my mouth shut.  Anyone who farms knows that big equipment breaks down.  A lot.  Yes, this truck has already had its moments.  But, overall, the men who have come to check it out have assured Tom that this is a most excellent dump truck and will accomplish all manner of wondrous feats.

"Oooh and aaah!"

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Recipe for Happiness

I heard a song on the radio the other day and the lyrics went like this:

Blow up your TV
Throw out your papers
Move to the country
Build a home
Plan a party
Eat a lot of peaches
Find Jesus
On your own.

Spanish Pipedream by the Avett Brothers

We Don't Homestead for Monetary Gain

I was at the feed store the other day choosing some garden plants from their rack outside.  When I walked in, there was a discussion about the red BMW in the parking lot.

Woman:  "Look at that Beemer!"

Man:  "Where?"

Woman:  "Parked outside.  That red one.  Ahhh, I'd love to have that."

Sighs of approval all around.

Man:  "Wonder who it belongs to?"

Woman:  "I don't know."

Man:  "Probably some insurance man."  Said with a slight sneer.

Me (because I couldn't let everyone think that only insurance men drive little red sports cars):  "No, that's my car and I'm not in insurance."

Woman:  **gasp** "What do you do?"

Me:  "Well, I farm now."

Woman:  "Ah, are you new?"

Me (hoping for a useful tidbit):  "Yes.  And I don't know anything.  I need lots of help and advice." 

Woman:  "Just do it until the money is all gone."

Me:  "Thanks"

That car was bought back in 2006, long before we took on farming.  It's not the most practical car for this lifestyle, but...it's paid for and I like driving it.  We have trucks and Tom's diesel VW wagon for the heavy work.  So, I haven't yet figured out how anyone makes a living on a farm.  So far, all we've done is spend money.  We don't have to buy eggs anymore and I sell just enough to pay for the little bit of chicken scratch that we use, so eggs are free.  For periods of time during the year, we don't have to buy milk or veggies and I can see us getting to the point where we can stop buying them almost altogether - when I can store up enough milk to last through the winter and when I figure out the veggie preserving processes.

Just a Couple of Pictures

Birds over the water.

Charles, the digger (also the one who helped Tom build the apartment), and Reid, our teenage laborer, taking a YooHoo break.  I used to like YooHoo, but now all I can think of is that it must taste like chocolate water, which sounds really awful.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Trivia for the Prepared

A 2.3 oz. deoderant stick, when used once a day, will last for seven months.

A large tube of toothpaste, when used an average of three times a day, will last for three months.

Goats and Goatweed

When pastures are left empty around here, the goatweed takes over.  If you're smart, you will not plow a field and then leave it empty.  We've seen some people do it and in just a few months, they have a beautifully cultivated stand of goatweed that looks like it was meant to be there. 

Unfortunately, we haven't been able to find out what goatweed is good for or why it is called goatweed.

Goats don't eat it.  These are our does amid the goatweed that has sprung up along the barren side of the dam.  They are eating everything BUT goatweed.

We're told that quail love it.  That must be true because quail and dove season just started and there has been lots of shooting around here in the fields where the hay and grass has died off and the goatweed has taken over.

Pansy thinks she owns the place.  It took me and Tom both quite a while to get her out of the golf cart.

Disappearing Pond

Because of the drought, many ponds in the area are drying up.  Ours is not gone yet, but it is very low.

It's a little round watering hole now.

In a normal rainfall year, this tree sits right at the water's edge and it's branches dip over nearly into the water.

All of this used to be covered by water.  Since the pond is so low, we decided to take this opportunity to have it cleaned out and dug it deeper.  I've noticed that a lot of people around us are doing the same thing.

The locals call this "sugar sand".  It's very fine and white and most of our property is covered with it.  Our neighbor, who originally dug the pond, told us that when he dug the pond, he dug down to clay and none of this sand was in it.  Over the years, all of this sand has washed down into the pond from the neighboring fields.  I'm a little bummed that they are digging it out because it was nice to have a sandy beach around the pond.  When it's a clay bottom it gets slimy and slippery and if you step in it, your feet can slide right out from under you before you know it.

Within the first couple of days, they dug out over 200 tons.  The dirt guy expects to dig for about a month.

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's "Be Mean to Your Kid" Week

Well, not really, but from what I have observed, apparently some parents think so. A few nights ago, Tom and I went out to eat with some friends. A young woman came in with two children and sat in the booth behind us. She put the baby in a high chair and her other child, approximately five years old, sat across from her and was misbehaving. She proceeded to hiss loudly at him about how awful he was and, through gritted teeth, hatefully proclaimed how terribly he was acting. i can't imagine why, but he wanted to sit by her and she rudely told him she didn't want him to because he crowded her, blah, blah, blah. It really was pitiful to witness. Oh, how that woman will pay for her hatefulness.

Then, overheard in Walgreens tonight:

 Little girl, about eight years old, wearing flip flops, following her dad to the back of the store, "slap, slap, slap" went her shoes.

Father, glancing back and with a hateful tone of voice, "Stop walking like that with those shoes, that slapping is driving me crazy!"

Little girl quietly adjusts her walking so that there is no slapping sound, "squeak, squeak, squeak" went her shoes.

Father, again with a hateful voice, "now I hear that awful squeaking!"

Hello, what should your little girl do, crawl through the store so she doesn't annoy you with any footsteps?

Landscaping Update

This is the progress made as of Saturday.

Back when I did the flagstone patio in the back yard, I told myself that I absolutely was never going to do anything like that again...too much crawling around on my knees and heavy lifting.  Well, never say never.  To build this wall, the first layer of bricks had to be level all the way across.  Tom helped get the first bricks at the walkway level, then I did the rest.  Each spot has to be either dug out or built up with sand, which requires placing the brick to check to see if it's high or low, removing the brick, adding or subtracting dirt, putting the brick back on, checking the level, removing the brick and adjusting the dirt, etc.  Sometimes four or five times are required. 

I suppose that professionals level out the whole area first so they don't have to do it that way, but this is the only way I know how.

After the first row is done, the rest is a piece of cake.  I had Tom and Reid (the teenager that we hire to help us sometimes) fill the brick holes with sand, then we stacked the second row and filled those with sand.  Tom wants to stop with two rows.  I think it needs three. 

Tom has to do some more grading of the soil so that the water flows down to the brick, then we'll put the river rock along the edge of the brick so that it will (hopefully) be like a dry creek and when it rains, the water will flow away from the foundation, into the creek, and out to the side yard.

When the grading is done to Tom's satisfaction, I'll be able to put some plants in along the foundation.  But, guess what I want to do now?  Well, actually it's been in my head all along, but I didn't want to admit it.  I want to extend that skinny front porch (on the right edge of the above picture) out to the retaining wall with flagstone.  Somebody stop me.  Quick.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

New Landscaping Project

The soil along the front of our house has always been too high up on the foundation and we've been concerned about rain water (if it ever rains again) flooding into the house like it did in the living room the year we moved in.  We asked our neighbor to dig it out and regrade it for us with his Bobcat, which he has done.

Since we have it all dug up, we (well, really *I*) decided that now is the time to do the landscaping that I've been wanting to do in the front yard.  Who wants a big ugly trench in their front yard?  So, while Meagan and I were shopping for wedding stuff in Dallas, Tom went through and pulled out a truckload of grass and old tree roots and smoothed out the whole area.

Then I laid out the line for the short retaining wall that we're going to build.  The ground slopes very slightly away from the house and away from the front walkway so that the water will drain away from the house and down the driveway.  I had envisioned a sharper slope, but that was not to be.

This is the other side of the walkway.  The water should drain out to the side yard and around back.

Next step is to level the ground where the bricks are so that we will have a nice level wall.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

New Vacuum Cleaner

Remember back in August of 2009 when I said, "Don't buy a Hoover Windtunnel vacuum cleaner...it's the worst thing ever."?  Well, I've been hating on that Hoover ever since and finally got rid of it.  I gave it to the future son-in-law so he can hate on it for a while.  And Tom bought me a new vacuum.  Yay!

Riccar...the only vacuum cleaner still made in America!

I decided on a cannister since all of my floors are wood and I only have area rugs scattered about.

Retractable cord.

Onboard attachments and full bag indicator.

The brush has its own place right on the height adjustable handle.

The big attachment does hard floors and carpet, but these extra hard floor attachments come with it, too.

I love it... as much as anyone can love a non-central vacuum system.