Mar 25, 2012

"Down for the Count"
(the final episode of taking out the calves - Summer 2011)

Anthony and Gustav opening the gate of the training pen
for the next two calves to be brought out and down to the field
...the calm before the storm!

It turned out that the first two calves were in fact
 the ONLY two
 of the entire bunch that went into the field
 in a somewhat straightforward manner.

All the rest gave the boys a run for their money, up and down and all around in a chase 
that would have made any rodeo manager proud.  

I got there just a few seconds too late to get a picture of this rascal dragging Gustav and Elder Monson down on their knees through the wet and muddy ditch trying to hang on.  Look at the hindquarters of the calf and the pants of the coveralls on the boys...

 When Gustav finally got it out of the mud he tried to coax it along but it was a fight all the way.  

And THIS ornery beast slipped out of it's lead with one jerk of the head and ran into the neighbor's field with Gustav and Elder Lopp in hot pursuit until they finally caught it.

It took them nearly forty five minutes to run it down and get the lead rope back on, and even then.... 
at this moment it looked like Gustav was pleading to Heaven to "PLEEEEEASE" send down a little divine intervention
so they could get it to it's final destination.

In the end, our two good-natured missionaries sat down
on the steps of the playhouse and baby sat to protect our investment,
(a calf in the hand is worth two in the field),
 while the others worked on bringing in the stragglers.
It had been quite an afternoon and we had some hungry men to feed!
    The main meal of the  day on the farm happens around 3:00-3:30 P.M. Knowing it would be a challenging day, I  had mixed up the filling and cooked and mashed  the potatoes in advance for individual shepherd's pies that could be left to bake in the oven.
It is one of our favorite things to make a hearty and delicious meal and to sit down to it knowing that every single thing in it came from our own labors on the farm...
The beef is from our own cows and so is the broth to make the gravy, rendered from the bounty of bones each year at slaughter time in early Winter.  Carrots and peas and onions go into the filling, all grown in our  kitchen garden, then dug and stored in the root cellar (carrots), picked, shelled, blanched, packaged and preserved in the freezers (peas),  or braided and hung  in a cool, dry place to winter over (onions).  The potatoes are planted each Spring in a large field of their own, carefully tended, weeded, then harvested and bagged in the Autumn to be stored in the root cellar until the new crop comes the next Autumn.  It is an amazing feeling to be sitting down to a meal produced from your own animals and land, from your own efforts and labor and with everything natural.

 Here are the casseroles loaded up, waiting for the fluffy topper....

and "Oven Ready"!

(this is the part where I love myself for doing it all ahead of time...)

Everyone came in, washed up and tidied themselves and we sat down to eat. 
With homemade sourdough bread,  our own cheese, a salad from the very first lettuce that had come up early in the garden, and berry saft (fruit drink from our beries) or water,
 we felt revived again and after a little break to sit and chat at the table,
 we headed out.

Anthony finished up the plowing in Bo and Ebba's big field,

then brought in the cows for the afternoon milking.
Look closely at Anthony's hands in this picture...he did something that was so unique and we were so fascinated by it....
whenever he brought in or took out the cows, if they were stubborn, or wouldn't come along as he wanted, he would raise his hands up and
"thip" his fingers,
  making a clicking noise.
He never said a word, he never prodded them on the back end,
 he just "thipped", 
and it worked every time.
The cows would prick up their ears and follow him instantly.
(Yes, the rest of us all tried to do it too,
 and the cows just looked at us like we were nuts).
While Pappa and I cleaned up in the kitchen and helped in the barn,
 Gustav and the missionaries continued on with the moving of the calves,
 and by later in the evening this was the scene in the front field
 by the water cup.
Over by the feeder was another group and farther over in the soft grass
 a few more. 
 The exodus from training pen to summer field of all seventeen calves
 was complete.
 They were all there in the field where they should be and they were all
lying down.
(playing innocent after their naughtiness...)
Last of all, after a work-filled day on the farm, is the evening tradition of kräm.
And again,
 it is always the same.
The recipe is so simple to remember:
1 liter of water (vatten)
2 liters of fruit (this is strawberry/rhubarb, (jordgubbe/rabarber) - l liter of each, but you can use whatever fruits you like - we also love bluebery/raspberry (blåbar/hallon or "drottning")
3 dl of sugar
4 tablespoons (matsked in Swedish) of potato flour (potatismjöl)
Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a large pot, add the fruits and stir to mix, cook for a few minutes to soften the fruit if necessary and bring up the temperature, mix the potato flour with a little cold water so it is liquid, and stir it into the hot fruit mixture.  Return to the boil and it thickens up.  Take it off the heat and pour it into a crock and set it in the fridge to cool completely.
It is always served chilled and ladled into bowls with milk poured over it, and here it is always eaten with a cheese sandwich,
(open faced if you are in Sweden), 
and it is delicious.
We had a lot of jokes about that day. 
 It was one of frustration and accomplishment. 
 It was one of working together and getting it done.
It was one of counting on our friends and having them come through
with flying colors when we needed them.
  One of our daughters called from the States that night and asked:
"What's goin' down?"
 And the answer was:

Mar 23, 2012

"Round Two"

The summer breakfast table on the farm. 
Ten days later we woke to a bright and beautiful  summer morning, 
the perfect time for moving the calves to the field in front of the storstuga. 
They had done so well in the training pen that they were ready
 for the big field  where they would spend the summer and fall seasons. 
 The missionaries, Elder Lopp and Elder Monson,  were on their way to give us another service day and would arrive in good time for the
 typical summer breakfast on the farm. 

It's always the same....

Homemade soft breads, crisp knäcke and tunnbröd (crisp and thin breads), sliced cold meat (in this case it was our homemade corned beef), fresh vegetables,  saft (fruit drink made from our berries last Fall and preserved in the root cellar), fizzie water with lemon and lime slices, ranch and thousand island dressings for the sandwiches, cheeses from our dairy,

and the mainstay of it all....  långfil.

Långfil is a cultured milk product that is something like stringy, thick yogurt until you hit it with the big whisk...then it turns into a liquid  that is SO velvety and SO satisfying that even after you are full,
you still kind of want to eat...

 another bowl of långfil!

Smothered with cornflakes or muesli
 and topped with sliced strawberries from our garden,
 it can "only be good".  
 There is something so very basic about it that it is universally appealing. 
We make it in 30 liter batches, stored  in large stainless steel canisters in the dairy cooler,  refilling a 5 liter stainless steel hod as needed  
 in the inside fridge.

It is truly wonderful.

With that substantial breakfast under our belt we were ready for the day. 

It seemed at first it would be pretty easy. 
 Anthony brought out a calf and it was trotting along just fine down the driveway towards the field.

 For a moment it started to run the other way,

   but soon enough he had it headed toward the path and safely into the field,

where Gustav was waiting with his furry friend.
Good job...going smoothly...everyone looks happy, right?

(Stay tuned for the next installment!)