Monday, February 24, 2014

For The Birds


These past days and today have been delicious days. 


Picture Fiamma gave me to decorate my bedroom

While working outside with Fabian on the cheese cave I couldn't help but feeling fulfilled listening to the different birds'songs that surrounded us, despite of the noisy saw and nail gun, the cardinals, titmouses and goldfinches were singing spring and to reassure that great feeling spring peepers also sang from the neighbor's pond.
What intense three days! Make me forget that the forecast is calling for snow on Wednesday and colder days are ahead in the week.

The birds gave me enough inspiration to grab my materials and start doing the wreaths I  make to ease them the hunt for nesting materials. Last year I made one of those wreaths for the birds just for fun  until a friend liked it that much that I ended making a lot of them and selling them out last Spring.

This spring is slightly different but the same, my dear friends Olga and John from Stoney Mountain Farm are celebrating "Shearing Day" as she likes to say, it is the day their sheep loose their coats! 

Navajo Churro Sheep from Stoney Mountain Farm on 2013 Shearing Day, one with coat and one without it!
One of my materials for the wreaths is wool ( in my case from my Navajo Churro sheep some time ago I bought from Olga and John) so this year, she invited us to sell my wreaths at their farm event, how nice from them!
I love birds of any kind and you can see them in our house in form of pictures,
Small picture frame, once again, Fiamma bought for me at Gibsonville Antiques

 books,
Two exquisite books from Edith Holden written at the beginning of the 19th Century, filled with poems, notes and beautiful watercolors, treasures only found when you don't expect them... at an antique mall around the corner

nests, eggs I make with clay, feathers I find in the garden,

The nest is real, found it on the ground, blue jay feathers and the eggs I made with Fermin's clay he had for a project in 3rd grade.

 sometimes even around my china,


 little creatures around the house make it cozy and welcoming.



I made those candles for Christmas, can you see the snow falling!

Making the "For the Birds Wreaths" is a way to honor their presence in my life, a way to thank them when they entertain me while I watch outside on a snowy day how the feeders dance to the rhythm of their flights, when they wake me up in the morning at dawn announcing a beginning of a new day, even at twilight when their chirping is sweeter than earlier and all in a sudden is followed by silence, it is nest time...
Today I started making my first wreath in preparation for Shearing Day but this one is somehow special, as it is not only with nesting materials but it is a "Nest and Breakfast Wreath", it has wool, colorful fibers, twine, and also sunflower seeds for them to munch on.

Here there is a short but very detailed tutorial on how to make one if you like to honor your birds at your backyard.

The materials: a grapevine wreath ( you can buy it or if you have grapevines at home I'm sure you have already try your hand at making some for you!),


wool, fibers (like yarn, twine, raffia, etc.), with the twine I made the shape of a nest and glued it together and to the wreath, fill the nest with school glue and grab some sunflowers seeds that got stuck to the glue as soon as it dried.

***I tried first with foam balls to stick the seeds onto them but failed so I made nests with twine and filled them up with seeds***

Did you see, so easy to make, here it goes, the finished product!


This one I made it for a special person, whose support and company through all these years has made the path so easy to walk, Thank you my friend, this one is for one of YOU! Just make a comment at the end of the  page or in our facebook page, we will write down every name on every comment, and will make a drawing with all the names that participated,  the name we picked will be the receiver of this Nest and Breakfast Wreath for the Birds with a little extra wool in case you run out, it is so much fun later in the season when you open the birdhouses and see they are using the materials you hang for them! Comment and good luck!

Hugs and Love my friends,
from the bottom of our hearts






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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Happy Birthday to the love of my life!!!



Today is Fabian's Birthday, we have been celebrating birthdays together for 33 years now. Yes, we started dating when I was 15 and he was 17, we dated 8 years, got married and in March we will be celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary... Love, love, love...

But today is his Birthday  and I would love to celebrate it with some pics. I know this is a very personal note in The Farm Fairy blog but can't help than to share with all our friends out there!


Love his look when he looks at nowhere, I find him soooo attractive, years pass and still the same...




I love the farmer in him...



I love his intellectual gardener look...


 And how he connects with the soil...




I love the baker in him...




And his love and patience when he makes cheeses



I love the way he loves us







And most of all I love him!


Happy Birthday Fabi! How awesome is to walk our lives holding our hands!


Oh, Yes, we have so much fun together!

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Cheese Cave Tale


The Cave

Going back in time, more exactly to summer, waves of new beginnings were making bubbles and tickles in our hearts. Cheese was a word we mentioned by chance but took a another whole meaning.
When we talk food we get passionate and always end up knees deep into the project so...

We started our quest for local raw milk...


and we grab the tools...


And we made cheese!!!!... And more than one kind!!!

Burlington Blue

Old Glencoe

Don Agustin

All that tickle at the beach jumping on the waves translated a month later in several test for recipes, certifications, licenses and three months later in our first batch of cheeses out at the farmers market with customers lined to buy them! Sounds crazy and exciting!
But what can a cheesemaker do without a cheese cave? 
Not much, to solve the problem of the cheese cave the fastest and simplest way is to transform with some sort of device (Fabian's know better) the refrigerator into a cheese cave mimicking the humidity and temperatures of a real one, so cheeses can age in there to get to the point where they are at their peak of complexity and flavors.
Converting two refrigerators (one commercial one and a household one) and one chest freezer we were able to finish 6 wheels of Don Agustin (Manchego Style), 5 wheels of Burlington Blue (Gorgonzola Style), 4 wheels of Old Glencoe ( American homestead) and 10 wheels of Don Gabino (Italian style). Not more room for cheeses to age,  we needed a bigger cave!
So with the help of Slow Money NC (a local organization which invest in farm and food businesses that serve their community) we got small loan at a very reasonable interest rate and could buy the materials to start building the cave...I have to admit some of the pics are very blurry but for us still are worth to show.  Fabian,  Fiamma , her boyfriend Cody and Fermin  are our construction team. They are always there when needed, we always can count on them! And they sure enjoy lots of cheese!

Wall rising
                

Up, up, up!!!
                            

Getting shape into real walls
                           

The front of the cave



Our faithful team, I am so proud of you!!!



Now ...we are talking...

Half way there...

So here is so far the tale of the cave, after all this construction work Fabian got sick and couldn't work on it for three weeks in a row. I was happy to see him yesterday afternoon climbing the ladder to lay the boards to start the roof. We are at a slower pace now but sure will get there and can't wait to have the shelves lined up with rows and rows of wheels, full with cheese fragrance to the roof, converting that delicious precious liquid into delicious precious artisan cheeses.

Hugs and Love my friends
from the bottom of our hearts...



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Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Year at the Homestead

Hello Friends!

Believe it or not we are at the end of this exciting year at our Homestead, we moved here to our place in Old Glencoe Rd in January, on Martin Luther King Day to be more precise.


 It was a long day of moving. The crew was: our family of four plus Cody, our daughter's boyfriend and Macarena, a young lady, daughter of a dear friend from Argentina, who happened to be visiting for 3 months. So for her, to be moving not only a house but animals as well, a chicken coop, gardening tools and plants of all kind, it was certainly and adventure.
So here we are now, what 2013 brought us in our new place?
*Changes in life which shows growth happened, our kids Fiamma and Fermin at school and working, both of them.
*Our family is growing as well!
Our two dear cats disappeared shortly after we moved and we adopted a lonely cat and a dog Fiamma chased running down the road. This is how Alaska, the cat and Molly the dog have called our new place home and they are family for us now.
*We decided also to produce our own meat, so as we have no room for pigs or cattle here, only one acre, we decided to go for chickens and rabbits.


Here is Fabian building the rabbit hutch for 3 rabbits, two does and one buck. Sadly we have to say we lost one doe (she escaped and we couldn't find her) and the buck (we found it dead in its place). So, so far our intentions of being self-sufficient about meat has not been met. We still haven't got the chance to raise some chickens yet. We do have our hens for eggs as always.

Our Cochin hen with her three babies

Did we say cheese in our plans?

Of course, cheesemaking was totally out of the picture, but a time to relax at the beach with our family got us tangle in dreams for the future and moving to the rhythm of the waves cheese came to our minds.


Piedmonte Cheese By The Farm Fairy -
Old Glencoe Homestead Cheese

So after that day at the beach, the adventure of cheesemaking started with trials of different recipes, and the patience to wait until the cheeses were ready and see how they tasted.
Something we knew for sure was that we wanted them made the very old fashioned way, reviving old lost ancient skills, cow's milk cheese, made with raw milk and aged in a cave, at least for 60 days. Sounded a delicious adventure, a dream coming true... So one day in October our first batch of aged cheese came to life, and we have the OK from our friends and the people who have been supporting The Farm Fairy for many years, thank you friends, nothing would have been possible without your support!
Our cheeses during 2013?
Don Gabino -an aged Italian -, Don Agustin-an aged Manchego style made with cow's milk-, Burlington Blue - a Gorgonzola Style cheese and Old Glencoe - a homestead all American farm cheese.
Jersey and Holstein cows from Gerringer dairy where we buy our milk
and in Calico's Creamery is where we make our cheeses
What's in store for 2014?
Number one priority: the cheese cave, we sold out all our cheeses, we didn't have large quantities, only what our modest cheese caves (three converted fridges) could afford, so Fabian and the kids are working hard on it but still there is a lot to do, no worries I will have an special post dedicated to the cheese cave soon.

                                                                   

Pending projects from 2013:

*Chickens for meat

*Rabbits for meat

*A garden devoted to provide food for the family, for sale and a Garden of Giving or garden pantry to donate to our neighbors in need.

*My farm stand, right by the road at Old Glencoe Rd, my biggest dream, to be able to help our neighbors have access to nutrient rich, fresh, healthy produce.

*And of course...More cheeses!
So my friends at this time of the year, we never find enough words to say how thankful we are to have you in our lives!

 We wish you Happy New Year!


                                  

From the heart of our home, from our family to yours!

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Monday, December 16, 2013

It's beginning to look like Christmas

Today, as every Monday, is a day when I sit at the computer and work from my dinning table.


There are not many birds in the feeder but those cardinals in my cabinet make my day!

Looking through the window I can see the bird feeder, not many birds working on it. I am waiting patiently for the cardinals to show up this year. I don't know if they are the same year after year, I wish I knew more about backyard birds as I love them and I am curious about them.
While planning my next steps in my garden for the season, my mind travels at light speed around the garden. How do I wish my garden to look like? Something like Monticello in Virginia or Tasha's Tudor Garden up North, very pretentious, I know, maybe I just go with the one that will make a nice pleasant garden to work in and most important a garden I can keep up with the weeds and insects.

I would love to have a bird and butterfly sanctuary and for sure I plan to grow a giving garden, a garden that gives, beauty for the eyes, food for those who need it the most and a place to start a simple conversation with whoever shows up to visit.
So many things in mind for this little piece of land. I plan to move the rabbit house and to cover about 1300 sq. feet in the beginning for food to feed my family, friends and neighbors in need.
In my Christmas list, as always, books, but also, seeds, a pair of good garden gloves, I would love a greenhouse but I also know how costly they are.


The windows in our house always take me to other worlds where I can dream of gardens, flowers and fairies!
I plan on the first days of 2014 start my winter garden.
I know, my friends, winter gardens are not to be started in winter, we prepare in fall and tend it during winter but my body and soul are now asking for action and I will start as soon as I can.
I also plan to start a Facebook page called Chasing Winter where I will record all my experiences on gardening in winter in NC, Eliot Coleman does his winter gardening in Maine so here, how we dare not to do it! Eliot Coleman's book have been great inspiration to start this garden and now that we are changing our diet as much as we can to eat from our backyard and from our local farms, we need to have those greens in winter to delight us at our dinner tables.

Now at home I have my Christmas tree up, the house all decorated and I only need a bit of snow so I can snuggle in the couch an sip some hot cocoa or hot coffee.



I will honor Christmas in my heart, 
and try to keep it all the year
             
                                    Charles Dickens



Take Joy in the Season!

The Farm Fairy Family