Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Rollin' With an Apology

It only took a couple of hours after the flat tire post for Firestone to contact me regarding the lack of customer service at their Chattanooga location.
Honestly I was surprised, and in fact, the next day the manager at that store called me and apologized.
He said that he was embarrassed the ordeal took place and he wanted to mend it by putting some tires on my van.

Needless to say the customer service was fantastic this time, no doubt they wanted to be double sure I was treated well.
I could be cynical but I won't because they did make a genuine effort and I appreciated it very much.
I am going to assume they had a bad day last week and just didn't have their "thinking " caps on when I appeared in need of tire help.

So now I have Firestone tires on the mama van. They look nice and I expect that they will hold up well. I am the new Firestone tire tester:-)

                           ****Me and the manager, Andrew, discussing my new tires.****

If you are local and want to try out some Firestone tires, go ahead and try them. Let them know Ms. Martin from Barefoot Farm sent you and I bet you get great service. If you want, ask for Andrew.

Thank you Firestone and Andrew for the apology and the tires to make up for the mishap.


School starts up here in less than a week. Friday I might just discuss those sad days of sending little ones off to kindergarten.

In the meantime,

Have a great Wednesday!!!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Raw Milk Ice Cream: Jamocha Almond Fudge

A new recipe has started for my Raw Milk Ice Cream stash.

My good friend mentioned that she would do my laundry for a year (or something like that) if I would only whip up a batch of Jamocha Almond Fudge Ice Cream.

In the event that you have a sudden craving for some yummy ice cream that is not vanilla, here is the recipe!

Make my Coffee Ice Cream but at the end, just before it's all firm, add some chopped almonds and some chocolate fudge sauce.

It's pretty great and I am thinking my laundry load will be lighter this year:-)

Did you mention Kahlua? Yep, it's great in the coffee ice cream too. Add a tsp to the mixture and you will thank me later:-)


Tomorrow I will be at Firestone. Remember that incident?

I will be here Wednesday to fill ya'll in on what's going down. Until then....

What Ice Cream Flavor do you want?

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Flat Tire: An Ironic Tale

This week we processed chickens and had an on farm sale day. It was a great success but it was exhausting at the same time.

Yesterday we decided to have a little fun so I drove my three oldest to play volleyball with friends and then took the two younger girls to do some shopping. They have a friend with a birthday party coming up and we wanted to shop for a gift. Devin stayed home with the two little boys.

The two girls and I did some shopping and upon leaving Toy R Us we discovered that the front driver's side tire on my van was flat. Very flat. In fact it looked to be sitting on the rim.

I called Devin at home. He had no car seats for the boys so we discussed calling the insurance company. I figured it would take forever to get someone out to put on my spare (full size tire spare).

I glanced around me only to see this across the street!!!!

Holy smokes Batman!!! I was in luck! That place there would have strong men who know how to work with tires! In fact, even though I really love Michelin tires, I am soon going to need a new set of four and could probably be talked into a new set of Firestones because that is how happy I was to this place so close!

I drove very slowly to this Firestone and went in to explain my situation. I asked if someone could help me by putting on my spare and that I would pay a service charge. The guy told me they could but that they were busy and I would have to wait (he had a look on his face like "crap, more work". I told him that would be fine and would park in front and wait.

Well, after 30 minutes a guy started my way so I rolled the window down only to discover he was out retrieving the car next to mine. I asked him about my flat and he explained someone would help eventually.

Another 30 minutes goes by (an hour total!) so I finally call my insurance company. I realize that I should have done this to begin with but stick with me here.

My company tells me someone would be there in 30 minutes. Fortunately, I got a call after 15 minutes from a guy who is looking for my vehicle. I explained I was at the mall  parked at Firestone.

"Excuse me? " the guy asked

"Yes, I am at Firestone. I thought they would help me but they didn't." I explained.

"Ha-ha-ha-ha! Incredible!" the guy exclaimed. "Well, I will be there in just a minute."

To my rescue was none other than Rescue Ranger himslef.

He told me that he couldn't believe nobody would take ten minutes from their busy day to help me, a mom wearing a skirt with two little kids.

I agreed and thanked him for getting there so quickly.

He went straight to work, retrieving my full size spare and getting it on the van. My flat tire had a large screw, which isn't too surprising with all of the construction happening on my road at home.

Oh the irony! There is even a "Tire Sale Today" sign in the background of this well known tire company that is employed by several strapping men who were too busy to lend a hand. Here I was in the one place I assumed I could get help, but instead it took another company to save the day for me.

All of this to say that I was back on the road to pick my older three up from volleyball and head home for lunch.

Lessons learned:
1. Call the car insurance company first. They were quick to help and friendly.

2. Sorry Firestone, you could not convert me. I still prefer Michelin and that is what I will purchase this fall for my van.

For those of you who are local to me. This happened at Hamilton Place mall in Chattanooga. This Firestone is located on Gunbarrel Blvd. just in front the mall.

Rescue Rangers is located in Ringgold, GA and the service was excellent!

Here's hoping for a relaxing weekend of quilting and hanging out with kids at HOME! :-)

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Perfect Granola Bar

With school starting back soon I like to get everything organized and simplified.
Snacks are no different.

A friend gave me this fabulous recipe for a granola bar that turned out to be a favorite snack for the entire family.
This recipe is versatile, food storage friendly, and can be changed to suit your tastes and cravings. I think you will make a batch of these and, like me, decide this is the perfect granola bar.

 Perfect Granola Bars

4 C rolled oats
2 C crispie rice cereal
1/2 C honey
2/3 C brown sugar
1/2 C peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 C choclate chips

Spray a 9x13 baking pan with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl combine the oats and cereal. Set aside.

In a medium sauce pan heat the honey and brown sugar over medium heat. Allow to boil 1 minute while stirring constantly.

Add the peanut butter and bring back to boil. Remove from heat  and stir in vanilla.

Pour mixture over oats and cereal. Mix well and then add chocolate chips and mix everything well.

Pour granola mixture into prepared 9x13 pan.Place a piece of clear wrap on top of the mixture and press it flat. remove the clear wrap and allow bars to cool completely.

Turn pan upside down so that the bars come out as one piece. Cut into squares.

**** You can add anything you want to this such as coconut, marshmallows, etc. I think my next batch I will replace the peanut butter with regular butter and use white chips and dried cherries.

What combinations will you choose?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Oh my goodness I am whooped this evening! I am "gotta have a Mike's lemonade" kind of whooped.

It's no surprise either, school is going to start in a few weeks. School starting soon is me going on a freaking mad , crazy cleaning and de-cluttering spree. In fact I took out the leaf blower and blew all of the dust and hay from the garage so that I would have a clean space to start piling up all of the stuff we are getting rid of.

I can't focus on school when the house is a wreck, and quite frankly I look forward to a clutter free space. Well, clutter free with seven kids and all of their treasures:-)

The ricotta cheese recipe seems to be a hit and I wanted to share another recipe I made this week usuing our ricotta cheese. These are Ricotta Cheese and Blueberry Muffins. 

Yes, they are really, really good. In fact I made another batch of ricotta just so we can have these muffins Friday morning:-)

My oldest child has spent the last few weeks in Arizona learning how to brand from some cowboy cousins of mine. I sure miss her, but I am sure she will come home ready to take over the care of our calf. Here she is being all cow girl.

I can't wait to get all of the stories...I am sure she will have lots to tell.

Next week we will process all of the meat chickens and have a day for all of the buyers to pick them up. I also have some honey to sell that day.
We just extracted a second harvest of honey and it has a very nutty flavor to it. I have never tasted anything like it's good, but nutty. I have looked and researched and cannot figure out what nectar source will make honey nutty. Do any of you bee keepers out there know?

Here's to a day full of busy organizing and cleaning tomorrow! Maybe I will go to the store for more lemonade first:-)

Have  a great week!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Whole Milk Ricotta: The Recipes

When you have a high producing family cow you quickly learn how to make cheeses. Hard cheeses can be time consuming but soft cheeses are a breeze.
One of our favorites is whole milk ricotta cheese and I want to share with you an easy way to make it and use it as well.

Let me suggest that when you buy butter muslin or fine cheesecloth for cheese making, buy the nice stuff online from a cheese making company. It will be machine washable and reusable.
You can use raw milk or store bought milk for this recipe.

Whole Milk Ricotta (makes 1 1/2 - 2 lbs)

1 gallon whole milk
1 tsp citric acid dissolved in 1/4 C cool water (this will be with the canning supplies at the store)
1 tsp salt (optional)

In large pot combine milk, citric acid solution and salt and mix well.
Heat milk to 185 degrees but do not boil. Stir often to prevent scorching.
The curds and whey will separate and when they do turn off the heat. Allow pot to set, undisturbed for about 10 minutes. It's perfectly normal to start reciting "Little Miss Muffet" at this point.

                                                 ***Curds and whey start to separate***

Line a colander with butter muslin (very fine cheesecloth) and ladle curds into the colander.
Tie the corners of the cloth and hang the bag over a bowl to drain for about 30 minutes.

                                              ***Ladle the curds into the colander***
                          ***Hang the bag to drain. I use my kitchen cabinet knobs.***

After it has drained, you can eat it right away or store it in the refrigerator and use within 1-2 weeks.

                          ***I store my ricotta cheese in a glass bowl with a lid in the refrigerator***

Now the only thing you have to decide is what to make with ricotta cheese?

Here are two of our favorite dinners using ricotta cheese!

Ricotta Cheese Pancakes

2C all purpose flour
1 Tb sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, separated
2 C milk
1/2 C ricotta cheese

Sift the first 5 ingredients together. In medium bowl beat egg white until foamy. In a larger bowl beat the egg yolks, milk, ricotta cheese together until smooth. Add flour mixture and combine with spoon. Add egg whites and mix with a spoon.
Make pancakes and serve with your favorite maple syrup!

Cheese Stuffed Shells (this freezes well)

12 oz jumbo shells, cooked according to package directions
2 eggs
30 oz or 2 lbs ricotta cheese
2 C mozzarella cheese, grated
1 1/2 C grated parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 C chopped fresh parsley or 2 Tb dried parsley
1 Tb dried basil
1 tsp salt
3 C spaghetti sauce

 In medium bowl mix together eggs, ricotta, mozzarella, 3/4 C parmesan, and spices.
Spoon about 1 Tb of mixture into each shell and arrange shells in 9x13 baking dish.
Spread sauce on shells and sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until bubbly and heated through.

What are your favorite uses for ricotta cheese?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Overwhelmed and Overjoyed

I knew this calf and the cow and the chickens and the bees and the house full of children would keep me busy. Yes I did.
This week has been extra busy with the new calf and cow chores especially.
I also have several quilt and crochet and sewing projects that stare at me throughout the day. It's a reminiscent feeling of when I had three little ones running around the house and my days were consumed with diapers, naps, play dates, and meals.
The projects can wait because there will be a week down the road when I have a few less chores to accomplish.

Feeding the calf has been a great experience for the young girls, and it helps me out tremendously.  We fill his bottle up right after the milking is finished so that it is still warm.

It tends to be a very slobbery event and we are usually covered in milk and calf saliva by the time the bottle is empty.

Lucy has again proven herself to not only be an expert at hiding in the trees and brush, but also to be a champion milking cow. She's back to a twice a day milking routine that goes smoothly and yields a total of 6 gallons of milk a day.
She has the classic dairy cow temperament of being easy going, friendly and curious. She has adjusted very well to our family.

We have more honey to extract! It's not much but I think it will be enough to sell at the local Farmers Market here. I plan to utilize a booth to not only sell honey but to round up some folks for a mailing list for pasture chickens next year. It will be a day of marketing.
This weekend we plan to process our chickens, but some have not grown as well as others. I blame the extremely high temperatures. We will likely process only half and let the others grow a couple more weeks.

This year of raising pastured poultry has been very helpful by showing me how much food they consume. It will allow me to estimate and plan better and even buy the feed in bulk next year for a discount.


My second oldest daughter, Quinn, is using her art skills to try and win a contest. There is an organization here locally that provides food, shelter, clothing, education, etc to people in need. This organization was donated a large van so that they can transport people who have no transportation of their own. Here's where the contest starts. They asked local artists to come up with a design that will be painted on the van and Quinn is currently in second place!
If you feel inclined, will you please hop over there and give her a vote? You can only vote one time and voting ends in a couple of days. 
I really like the theme of her design which is titled "City of Families." Her van is blue with a rainbow.

Thank you. It's a great organization and I love to see that they invited young, local artists to participate.


It's another hot, muggy day in Georgia and I feel sorry for those kids who are starting school. It's still summer, folks.
We start after Labor Day, so I still have a few weeks to get ready. Yes, I have lots to prepare but for now we are still enjoying summer.

When do you start school?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Adventures with Lucy the Family Cow: A Calf

In order to avoid organizing and cleaning my house today, I decided to throw on my swimsuit, clean chicken coops and swim to cool off.

Lucy had other plans.

I noticed from afar that she was raising her tail and then sitting down. This is what was happening. Not a sight I am used to seeing.

Ten minutes later it was like this.

Then a few short minutes later we had this! A calf.
I congratulated myself for a job well done even though all I did was snap pictures on my fancy phone and post them on FB. How did cows birth calves before smart phones and social media?

Then Lucy immediately stood up and went into licking machine mode. She licked, licked, and licked that calf clean and dry.

The calf tried to stand up within 30 minutes, but Lucy would lick him and knock him down. He finally did get his feet under him. Did I say him? HIM?
Yep, it's a bull calf. It's the year of the bulls. I should have known because Lucy had very neat and tidy forelocks. They say if the forelock is neat it will be a bull, crazy hair will bring a heifer.
I even tried messing her hair up a few times but it always went back to looking straight and tidy.

Of course this is the day when my oldest is out west playing cow girl and Devin is working. I thought I could move the calf and Lucy to a more secure paddock for the night, but alas Lucy would not leave her calf. I attempted to pick him up but the baby is very, very heavy.

Thankfully I have friends with strong husbands and one willing to drive over and carry the calf into the next paddock. Lucy followed. :-)

So milking starts back tomorrow morning and hopefully I will find another excuse to avoid organizing and cleaning the house.
Here's to a very healthy calf and a mamma cow who licks like a champion!

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