Welcome to Legal Tender Farm

Welcome to Legal Tender Farm

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

No Gopher Trapping For Me!

Tom  has been laid up with a sciatic nerve problem and Jordan has been out of town, so there hasn't been any progress in the gopher eradication area this past week.  So, I decided to take it upon myself to set the traps.  I fiddled with them for a few minutes to figure out how to set the trapping mechanism and it's pretty scary being as how they could easily be tripped and smash the fingers that are holding them.

I set the three traps and put them in the gopher holes, then went back to check them in a few hours.  All of the holes had been repaired by the gophers without springing the traps.  So, I pulled them out, cleared the holes again and pushed the traps further down into the tunnel. 

I checked them again yesterday morning.  Again, the holes had been repaired without springing the traps...except for the last one.  It was sprung, so I pulled it out and was dismayed to see that the gopher was still very much alive.  The trap had snapped closed on it's NOSE.  I want to cry just thinking about it now.

It was struggling mightily and I hate to think about how long it might have been stuck in that trap...in pain.  I quickly released it and it immediately started to dig a hole, trying to get away.  So, what to do?  It doesn't make much sense to trap gophers and then let them go.  And I couldn't stand thinking of an injured gopher possibly living in pain or starving because it's mouth was broken.  So, I caught it in a McAlisters cup and took it up to the house to give to Harry, who killed it quickly.

Nope, no more gopher trapping for me.  I'm not cut out for it.  I feel sorry for even the most hideous and destructive creatures.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

From Chocolate Ganache Tart to Avocado Pie

Yep, you heard it...Avocado Pie.

I got this recipe from my cousin-in-law ( https://triathlonobsession.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/the-best-chocolate-pie/ ), who calls it "Chocolate Pie".  She got it from Gluten Free Gus's blog ( http://glutenfreegus.com/2012/12/28/387/ ), who calls it "Vegan Chocolate Tart".  Who got it from a British brother-in-law named Uncle Howard, who calls it "Chocolate Ganache Tart".  Uncle Howard apparently has some music on utube that I feel compelled to include so that he gets some credit for the recipe.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKO24MPVF7c

Texans, let's call it what it is...Avocado Pie.

It's quick and easy and I happen to usually keep all of the ingredients on hand, so it's a good dessert when you're in a pinch.  I guarantee that nobody will guess they're eating a pie full of avocado.  Don't get me wrong...I love avocados.  But, the thought of them mixed with chocolate...in a pie, kind of made my stomach do a flip.  Not in a good way.

Here's how you do it (check the blogs above for variations and tweaks).

Ingredients for crust.
8 oz. pecans, walnuts or almonds
6 oz. pitted dates
1/8 tsp. sea salt (more or less to taste)

  Whirl all ingredients in food processor until the consistency of rolled oats.  Press firmly into the prepared pan (I buttered mine).  Chill whilst preparing the filling.

Make the filling:
3 ripened avocados, peeled and cubed (should not be over ripe)
1/2 cup agave nectar
3 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
1 1/2 cup very good unsweetened cocoa powder - splurge on this.
(Hershey's isn't fancy, but it's what I had and I only used a cup because I just couldn't bring myself to use that much chocolate)

Puree all ingredients, except cocoa,  in a food processor or blender until creamy smooth.  Add a splash or two of water to help if the mixture is too thick to move.

Add cocoa powder and blend completely.

Spoon the filling into the crust and spread evenly.  Chill for two hours or overnight.  Serve with whipped cream and/or fresh fruit. 

Usually, I don't do fruit with chocolate...why ruin a good thing, ya know?  But I could tell that this chocolate needed to be cut with something and I didn't want to take the time to whip up some cream, so I put a few raspberries on mine.  They were a nice contrast with the very chocolate-iness.

Note:  In addition to cutting the amount of chocolate in the recipe down, I also added a little extra agave nectar during the blending because the filling was a little too bitter for my taste.

I think it turned out great and it is paleo approved by my resident paleo-eating son.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Quilt As Art

 This fabulous quilt was made for me, for my birthday this year, by my daughter.

 She'd been working on it for months and keeping it a secret.

 It is pieced on both sides.

 On the back...shades of white.

On the front, limey greens, blacks and whites, amazingly detailed.

Handmade bias tape binds the edges.
And an extra little detail around the back edges.

A beautiful heirloom that will warm generations of our family.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

It's Almost Gardening Time

 The neighbor that loaned us his gopher traps was kind enough to buy a trap kit for us.  Tom has been trapping the gophers all week.  Harry eats as many as he can.  Yuck.

Here's the website for the traps.  They really do work, but you have to be diligent about checking and resetting the traps.


After setting the traps for a few days, you tend to forget exactly where you set them and end up wasting time resetting a trap in the hole of a gopher that has already been trapped.  So, Tom borrowed this contraption for another neighbor to drag the fields with.  The idea is to knock down all the mounds so that it's easier to see where the gophers are currently active. 

Our fields look nice and smooth after Tom drug this thing on them, but we will soon see new gopher mounds popping up. 

On another note, the growing season is almost upon us.  A couple of asparagus have already popped up in the garden and it's time to start planning the garden.  Actually, it's past time to plan the garden and I should be getting some things in the ground, but I want to get the other half of it covered with feed sacks and mulch before I start planting.  I'm waiting on Tom to get more wood chipped.

In the meantime, I had Jordan and Tom make this for me.

When we moved out here, there was this huge, obsolete satellite dish on a pole in the back yard.  A couple of years ago, Tom took it off of the pole and it's been laying out back ever since.  I had this idea to turn it into a gazebo for the garden area.  Jordan went and got and prepared the poles for me and he and Tom set it up.  The idea is for it to provide some shade for me while I'm out in the garden cleaning the newly picked veggies before bringing them into the house.

We set up the old farm sink under the gazebo and next to the water faucet.  I set up that old cattle panel on the edge of it and will use it as a bean trellis, which should help with the shade and also make the beans easier to pick.  It's not much to look at, but hopefully having the vines growing on it will make it more attractive.  I also planted a trumpet vine by one of the poles, but it's just a little twig at the moment.  I know Jordan wanted to paint this before it got set up, but Tom and I rushed it.

Since I try something new in the garden every year, this year I'm not making mounded rows like I've done previously.  Everything is just flat.  I'm planning to section it off differently, too, but haven't come up with a definite plan, yet.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Budding Baker?

Paden wanted to do something special, involving chocolate, for his Valentine last week.  Since this torte recipe is the most chocolate recipe that I have...basically, chocolate and eggs...he decided to try his hand at baking it.  I must say that he did an excellent job on a recipe that is not really for beginners.  I stayed nearby for guidance, but he did it all by himself.

Gluten Free Chocolate Torte

unsweetened cocoa
16 oz. semisweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup butter
5 large eggs, separated
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
confectioner's sugar
Raspberries for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  

Grease a 9 x 2 1/2 springform pan; dust with cocoa.  Line pan bottom with kitchen parchment or waxed paper (I didn't have any, so he cut a piece from a brown paper bag, which is what I learned from my mother).  Paden wanted a heart shaped torte, so he bought the pan and gave it a try.  We found out that a springform pan was not really necessary.

In 2 quart saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate with butter.  In large bowl, with wire whisk or fork, beat egg yolks with vanilla.  Slowly beat warm chocolate mixture into yolk mixture until blended.

In small bowl, with mixer at high speed, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. 

He learned what soft peaks and stiff peaks meant as he gradually beat in 1/4 cup confectioners sugar until sugar dissolves and whites stand in stiff peaks. 
Pretty good, huh?

Fold beaten whites into chocolate mixture, one-third at a time.  "Folding" is tricky even for a seasoned baker since you have to get the egg whites mixed in well enough without flattening them.  I made this once without getting the whites mixed in good for fear of ruining them and the result was unpleasant stringy bits of whites in the finished torte.

Spoon batter into pan, spreading evenly.  Bake torte one hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean.  Cool torte in pan.

When torte is cool, remove the side of pan, then remove torte from pan bottom; discard parchment.

Cut torte into 12 wedges.  Sprinkle with confectioners sugar and/or cocoa.  Garnish with raspberries.

It turned out really great, came out of the pan easily, and tasted terrific.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Gopher Eradication

I think we finally have been presented with a system that actually works to get rid of the pocket gophers and moles!  If you'll remember back in April of 2010, I wrote about buying the "Crittergitter", which was supposed to blast exhaust fumes into the tunnels and, theoretically, suffocate the moles and/or gophers (we always call them moles, but most of what we have are actually called pocket gophers).  There were a few  problems with the Crittergitter.  First of all, it was not very convenient to use.  We had to hook up the long hose to the truck exhaust pipe and have the truck idling for hours, moving the truck and the hose around to various gopher holes.  After all that effort, we never had any proof that any gophers were killed.

 Since the drought in 2011, the gopher population has exploded and we had just about given up all hope of getting rid of them.

There are gopher mounds as far as the eye can see in nearly everyone's fields.

Then our neighbor came to us with these traps, claiming he is winning the gopher war on his property, having trapped over 400 since November.  He loaned us some of his traps and showed Tom how to set them and here's how it works.  

First, find a gopher mound, which is obviously no problem.

 The pasture denizens were very curious about this procedure.  Even the horses across the road were curiously watching.

Then scrape away the mound until you find the gopher's tunnel.  You can see the beginnings of it right there in the middle of the picture.

Clear the tunnel opening.

For whatever reason, the gopher doesn't like his tunnel to be exposed, so it will soon come to repair the hole that has been cleared.

This is the trap.

 I watched Tom set it by pinching it open and flipping the wires around somehow.

Slide the trap into the tunnel.

Push it in good and adjust the pin so that it is "hair triggerish".

Our neighbor showed Tom how to set the traps for the first time two days ago and there are now three fewer gophers digging up our hay field.  As much as I don't want the gophers messing up our property, it still was hard for me to see them in the trap and I couldn't post the gruesome picture I took.  Ew.  I just hope it was a quick death.

We probably won't have to buy dog food for a while.  Harry gladly disposes of the gophers for us.

So, if we (by "we", I mean "Tom") set several traps a day, it should just take about a half an hour a day to empty and reset them, which is way better than hours of truck idling and hose dragging.  

Looks like this is going to be part of Tom's daily routine for the coming months.