Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Welcome to November

Monday morning we headed over to our fellow farming friends' place to help wrangle calves. They needed some manpower to get the critters separated and loaded and we needed to buy a couple of calves. Yesterday evening I felt some sore muscles and wondered what in the world I had done to get them. The girls reminded me that day before we used those muscles to get calves away from mamas and to shove those calves onto a trailer. It was a beautiful day, sunny and brisk, and the hard teamwork felt great. I know it may sound weird, but I really love doing that kind of work. The real bonus was the lunch our friend served, roast beef sandwiches on rye, cheese, her homegrown tomatoes, and some of the most amazing homemade jalapeno apricot jam I have ever tasted. I ate some of it spread on jack cheese, some of it on her homemade pumpkin bread with cream cheese, some of it straight off the spoon. Wow. I am quite thankful for this friends' apricot tree, jalapenos and her amazing talent to put them together.

After another cup of coffee, more bread and cheese, we loaded up a very handsome bull calf for me and another even more adorable bull calf for Maggie. I named my fellow Ribeye, for obvious reasons. Maggie's calf is named Panda, because his little black and white Hereford and Dexter cross face looks just like a panda.

As we headed home the girls noticed that the autumn olives looked ripe. We drive past a big stand of them on the way home. I hesitated. The last thing on my agenda that day was picking autumn olives. But I stopped anyway, we grabbed bags and boxes, whatever we had stashed in the Suburban, parked in the shade and went to pick.

Autumn olives are a large shrub or smallish tree otherwise known as Eleagnus Umbellata. The leaves are silvery and shaped like olive leaves. The berry is red, dusted with silver speckles. They are tart, tart, tart until just ripe, then the flavor is a bit more sweet. The tree is native to Asia. Apparently it was introduced to the US in thee 1800s, used to prevent soil erosion alongside roads. Well, like many plants transplanted back in those days, it is very invasive. I can't recommend anyone buying and planting this tree, but just like wineberries, another Asian import, I highly recommend wild foraging!

Studies have found that the autumn olive berry has 17 times more lycopene than the average raw tomato! The juice is a powerful antioxident, full of vitamins A, C, E, fatty acids and flavenoids. Cool.

The kids just think the sweet-tart fruit is fun to pop in their mouth, and anything picked by our hands, in the wild, on a bright sunny fall day just has to be good for us! We picked and picked, around a gallon and a half or two gallons of the fruit. I have rinsed them and guess I will make jam or fruit leather. Am thinking that the flavor would make an amazing sauce for venison or pork roast. Hmmm. Maybe I should boil down the juice, add some juniper berries, rosemary and black pepper to make a reduction for the venison tenderloin I hope someone hunts for us.

So we got home with calves and berries, unloaded them both, along with the amazing veggie gifts from our farmer friend. Maggie and I cleaned the barn and visited with the new fellas. They miss their mamas. But not so much that they didn't immediately get down to the serious business of munching on hay.

Later I fried up round steak, Nora mixed up cornbread, we made sweet potato oven fries, and we sauteed the swiss chard gift with lard and cracklins. Philip and Thomas moved the four little piggies into a new section of garden. Patrick moved the turkeys onto fresh grass. We enjoyed a family supper together and didn't feel a bit sore. Until yesterday.

Welcome to your new home, Ribeye and Panda. We hope you quickly bond to the herd and enjoy your life, munching on good hay and grass, wandering through nice fields. We sure are thankful to have been able to get you from a nice farm instead of a factory operation. You will have a very good life.


Redhen said...

Well, I'm so glad I checked in on your blog to see that baby Panda is doing all right.

Dinky was MAD, MAD, MAD! She fumed and roared and called all night long. Since she watched us load him into the trailer,so she knew what we were doing. said...

Panda did cry for a couple of days, but seems to be much better. The two of the guys are still hanging out in Coco's stall, munching hay and looking around, hoping against all odds that mommas will show up and take them home.

Poor Dinky.

Thanks for the little and not so little fellas. See ya on Sunday!

CountryDew said...

Now I have never heard of an autumn olive. I thought the only thing ripe like that around this time was a persimmon. Is that something different? said...

Autumn olives are not persimmons. They are about the size of a cranberry, but not as dark red. You can google a picture of them, and if you have any brushy tree line, you probably have some on your property. I have memories of Oklahoma and persimmons and the feel of your teeth when you get one not quite ripe! Blech. Autumn olives are also bitter sour when they are not ripe.

Jeff said...

Jalapeno - apricot jam! Now, that is a combination that I've never thought of before. I wonder if autumn olive trees are in Floyd County? They must be ..... said...

Jeff, I think autumn olive trees are everywhere. Most of the berries are gone now, probably eaten by birds, deer and bear.

Hope you have a good trip to Floyd! Must be coming up soon. Will you have the nice warm weather or a cold blast of winter?