Blog

Chickens, Farming, Greenhouse, Maple Syrup, Meat Animals, Meningioma Tumor/Healing, Rhubarb

More Changes at the Farm

I’m telling you, this has been some crazy kind of year for the Lee’s!

Recently our septic system failed, so a new summer project came up as well as changes for the farm. We only have an acre of land and apparently our old septic system was severely undersized for the number of bedrooms we have. This means that we can’t just dig up the old system and put down new pipes and fill etc. We have to actually move the entire septic system to a new location on the property. The only space that is available is the one at the bottom of our hill, which is where the laying hens were and the gardens. This means that we have to cut down several trees in the area and we got rid of the chickens. We were planning to have these chickens until fall then put them in the freezer and build a new coop before we got any more chickens, however, we had to get rid of the chickens before we could get a septic design so, the chickens are in the freezer a little sooner then anticipated.

We were planning to have meat birds again this year. We changed our mind and decided not to do them as we have this big project on our hands now. Our friends at Mahalo Farm right down the road will have two pigs for us and that is the extent of our animals at the moment. They would also be happy to sell pork to you in the fall.

I am only planting in our greenhouse and at our away field (about a half mile down the road). Our away field will be squashes and pumpkins in the entire field. We grew potatoes there last year, and squash is pretty low maintenance, once it gets large enough.

In the greenhouse we will have, tomatoes, peppers, basil, green beans and possibly some lettuce, but I might put the lettuce in pots on the porch instead, we will see how that pans out.

Overall it is a big change for the farm. This is both a relief and sad for us. We were trying to simplify after my surgery and this is a forced simplification.

We are still planning to ramp up our syrup production in the spring of 2020.

Meningioma update: I had my first follow up MRI and it looked great, the doctor had no concerns and this will be my new baseline MRI. Hopefully there won’t be any growth detected ever or at least for many, many years. This is wonderful news and we are very grateful!

One thing that came about since my surgery is that one of my knees really started hurting. I had fallen down the stairs while holding #3 when he was just a couple weeks old (about 4 years ago) and twisted my knee. This seemed to have repaired itself and had not caused me pain for sometime, until one of my children rammed into me a couple of years ago and my leg twisted again. I had some pain and a constant uncomfortableness, but it was not unbearable nor did it impede my motion or walking etc. About a month after my surgery, when I was done with any drugs and not taking even advil daily and began moving around more, my knee became so painful I couldn’t walk for a few days and had trouble sleeping. Apparently my head had been hurting so badly that I didn’t realize that my knee was badly injured. I had torn some cartilage and meniscus in my knee. Hoping to avoid another surgery, I am now doing physical therapy to strengthen the surrounding muscles and it is working very nicely.

Since my surgery I have come to find out that I was really, really lucky not to have any life altering problems after my surgery. I still have trouble when there is a lot of overwhelming noise and commotion sometimes and I have trouble remembering words on occasion (ok, sometimes several times a day if I am tired – but that could just be because I am getting older right???), but this is so minor compared to other complications. It could have been so much worse. River knows of someone who was diagnosed after me and had surgery and it is like she had a stroke since her surgery, she has a droop to one side of her face and has trouble with one side of her body working sometimes. I feel that we were remarkably lucky that I did not have any complications with the surgery and recovery. Amazing.

I will be selling seedlings at the bottom of the driveway beginning next Saturday. I will have, tomatoes, pepper seedlings as well as rhubarb plants that need to be divided so if you need any rhubarb plants for your yard come on over! We also have maple syrup still available.

Enjoy the week, hopefully it will warm up soon!

Maple Syrup, Recipes

No Bake Cookies Made With Maple Syrup

As a general rule, we use maple syrup as a sweetener for almost all our baking needs, in fact I don’t even have sugar in the house most of the year and if I really need sugar for something I can make maple sugar. I hadn’t made No Bake Cookies for a long time, but the other night our oldest son (who is now 13 and eats enough for two grown men) said he wished there was something sweet he could make that he didn’t have to bake.

Viola! No bake cookies!

I pulled out my recipe from my mom and and we put it together using maple syrup.

At first we didn’t let it boil long enough as it needs to boil slightly longer with the maple syrup then without because it is so much extra liquid, so after we had added the oatmeal, we brought it to a boil again. The cookies were delicious, but did not harden, even after a night in the fridge. I loved the chewiness of them though, I made some more and boiled them longer without the oatmeal and they still didn’t harden all the way, but the consistency was not as chewy. From now on when I make them, I am going to boil a little bit longer with the oats in them as I really like a chewy cookie!

No Bake Cookie Recipe:

Bring the following ingredients to a boil:

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup cocoa

1/4 cup butter

1 cup maple syrup

Boil for a couple of minutes, remove from heat and add:

1/2 cup peanut butter

3 cups oatmeal

Bring to a simmer and simmer for two to three minutes while stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and put by the spoonful onto exopat baking mats or wax paper.

Allow to cool, or begin eating them immediately (this is what happens at our house)!

Just think with Maple Syrup instead of sugar, these become a much healthier treat that could even be a breakfast cookie! The original recipe called for 2 cups of sugar, which is a lot and certainly makes them a treat, not breakfast!

As Laura Ingalls Wilder says in The Little House in the Big Woods: “They could eat all they wanted, for maple sugar never hurt anybody.”

We still have maple syrup for sale at the farm, but you do have to call as we don’t have it out in the store.

Enjoy!

We buy almost all our kitchen supplies at Now You’re Cooking! Our local cooking supply store located in Bath with amazing, friendly staff and beautiful cookware and accessories. If you don’t have a local cooking supply store, here is an exopat¬†mat from Amazon. We love exopat mats! We use them for cookies, granola and any other baking that we do, there are many exopat mat’s available under several different brand names and sizes, an example is below (I couldn’t find the ones we have) it helps with clean-up and keeps things from sticking to the pans.

Exopat Mat

Chickens, Farming, For Sale, Maple Syrup, Meat Animals

Changes

This has been a year changes for our family and it is only April 1st! We have decided that we need to change our focus on the farm.  Since I am still recovering from my surgery, I tire easily, we decided that we needed to shift our priorities to spend more time with our children right now and less time farming. We will still be growing meat for ourselves on the homestead, but we have decided not to grow meat to sell anymore.

Instead we are going to focus on growing our maple syrup production! This is a wonderful venture that we are undertaking with a lot of excitement and joy as it is our favorite part of the farm; from checking the sap lines and installing new ones in the forest, identifying animal prints in the snow, sitting in the sugar house while sap is boiling away, smelling the sweet steam, watching the water vapors rise to the cupola and drift out of the sugar house on rays of sunshine, seeing the beautiful colors of the maple syrup as it is bottled and cleaning up after each run, getting to taste the drips and the extra bits of each batch of syrup, to our big Maine Maple Sunday party! We just love this part of farming so focusing on this seems like the right direction for us to go.

We still have meat in the freezer from 2018 that we would love to have you put in your freezer instead of ours. We will have the freezer in the sugar house open for the rest of this week then we will be moving the meat to our freezer inside and it will only be available if you call ahead or stop by when we are home.

The seedlings are started for tomatoes and peppers and some flowers that A wanted to plant. Greens have been planted in the greenhouse (I found one tiny kale plant that had seeded itself, growing in the greenhouse when I was planting this years springs greens!). I may have tomato seedlings for sale in a couple months – I planted way too many tomatoes and peppers!

Spring is for new beginnings and we are beginning with a new plan for the future, we look forward to seeing you all soon!

For Sale, Maple Syrup

Wow! Thank you!

Maine Maple Sunday was amazing! We all had so much fun – as River said – “We get to throw one big party every year – let’s make it great!” The pulled pork was delicious, the maple goodies from Wildflours were sweet and tasty, the music from Matt Loosigian was fantastic and the weather was beautiful!

56734
Photo Credit: Blueberry Beeton

We had over 350 people join us yesterday – it was more people then we had been expecting and we were thrilled to have you all join us. We even ran out of spoons and had to have a friend make an emergency trip to the store for us (thank you Blueberry for coming through in a hurry!) Our neighbors helped us out serving pork and selling syrup and goodies and cleaning up after the party. Thank you to Matt, Eli, Jess and Erik for your amazing help – we would not have had the same success at this event if it wasn’t for your help!

56739
Photo Credit: Blueberry Beeton

Our friend Tim helped out all weekend – he was in charge of smoking the pig on Saturday and helping River in the sugar house on Sunday – he is always around to help when we need him – such a blessing – thank you Tim!

56737
Photo Credit: Blueberry Beeton

We had a few younger helpers this year too – Thank you to Trace and his buddy Rainier for serving up the ice cream with maple syrup and to Lily, Olive and Lilly for helping people sign in so we would know about how many people came so we can plan for next year. Such a great help to have these young people around that are responsible enough to help out in a big way – thank you all!

We are also grateful for all of you – those of you that were able to come and enjoy the day with us and those of you that support us from afar, family and friends – thank you so much!

We hope to see you all again next year!

I was exhausted by the end of the day and I had a sunburn on my face! Since I have been inside so much since my surgery, my face was very pale, not anymore, now I am not quite as red as a cooked lobster, but close – oops – note for next year – wear sunscreen!

 

Check out Matt’s music and find out where he will be playing next on his web site:

Earth Jams

Our ice cream was from Roundtop Ice Cream, we love to support other local businesses:

Round Top Ice Cream

Our maple goodies were from Wildflours Gluten Free Bakery, you can purchase your own gluten free goodies from them in Brunswick, I highly recommend the savory rolls:

Wildflours

For Sale, Maple Syrup

Maine Maple Sunday, March 24th

Hello everyone, it has been a while, we have been busy with life, sap and birthdays!

We will be open on Sunday, March 24th for Maine Maple Sunday. We had initially planned to be open Saturday and Sunday this year, but the sap runs have been disappointing so far. Last year at this time we had made 3/4 of our syrup for the year. This year we have only made about a third of last years total and that is with doubling our taps. We doubled our taps this year so we had hopes for an amazing season with twice as much syrup for this weekend. Sadly that is not to be, but the sap has been running fast and furious this week and we will have about 20 gallons to sell on Sunday. River has been boiling, finishing, bottling, and keeping busy with other maple related projects this week in preparation for the big event.

River collected about 385 gallons of sap last night and he will be collecting more on Saturday morning since it is supposed to be pouring rain all day today and into the evening. He will boil all day tomorrow while our friend Tim smokes the pig for Sunday’s sandwiches – so yummy!

On Sunday we will have complimentary maple bbq pulled pork sandwiches and round top ice cream with maple syrup as well as some Wildflours goodies made with our maple syrup and maple sugar candy for sale. Because of low syrup production we did not make maple nuts or maple cream this year. Hopefully next year we will have an amazing syrup year and be able to offer these tasty treats as well!

To celebrate the sap finally running I made stacked waffles for breakfast. If you have ever read Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, you know that Almanzo’s favorite breakfast is stacked pancakes. His mother would make pancakes, put them on the plate keeping warm on the back of the stove, slather them with fresh butter and maple sugar which would melt together into the pancake for a bite of yummy deliciousness then stack another pancake on top and submit that pancake to the same delicious treatment. I used scraps from making maple candy all ground up as the sugar. Making maple sugar is not difficult and I have made it before, but we haven’t had enough maple syrup to make it this year so candy scraps it was! I prefer to make waffles as a matter of time (our waffle maker makes four square waffles at once), so we had stacked waffles for breakfast. Thank you Laura Ingalls Wilder for your inspiration. If you read Farmer Boy you will be amazed at the food Almanzo’s mother made, my mouth waters just thinking about it!

We look forward to seeing those of you that are close enough to attend, you can see our schedule on our facebook event page.

The boys love to have me read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, you can buy the entire set or just Farmer Boy, which by far has the best food in it!

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=firehousef0bd-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=0064400034&asins=0064400034&linkId=4e60f02addc8ea7172d81855ff64174e&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066C0&bg_color=FFFFFF

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=firehousef0bd-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=0064400409&asins=0064400409&linkId=6d72150b851f9ef8964b292100ba36a4&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff

I have had a Black & Decker waffle maker for 10 to 12 years now and it is still going strong and we make waffles at least once a week, sometimes more! When I was looking for a waffle maker I wanted one that made regular waffles, but four at a time like my Grandmother had and I found this one, I was so pleased!

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=firehousef0bd-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B000063XH7&asins=B000063XH7&linkId=8a9e40aea50878a3cba65dc96f54c910&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff

 

Meningioma Tumor/Healing

Meningioma: One Month Post Op

It has been a month since I had my brain tumor removed. I feel better, my head is still squishy from fluid and my stitches are starting to disintegrate and the glue is coming off my hair, which I am pleased about as my head is starting to smooth out a little bit.

I still find it easy to overdue. I only just started driving three days ago.

Wednesday I had a meeting in town in the morning and a phone meeting in the afternoon, then a basketball game in the evening. It was too much even though my grandmother was here all day to help with the little people. There were two games, the boys and the girls, they were for the Southern Division of the Division our eldest played in this year. Both games were stressful because they were very close (the lead kept changing by a basket one way or the other) and I think the excitement got to me (Both our teams won). I was fine yesterday, but I was so tired by this morning, that I slept all morning on the couch while being pounced on by a small child until he snuggled in and fell asleep. Ugg, so exhausted this morning!

I have to be more careful in the future not to overbook myself!

We have had a meal train since we got home and it has been fabulous and such a blessing, we really appreciate the help and generosity of our community in our time of rest and recovery!

Thank you everyone!

 

Meningioma Tumor/Healing

Meningioma: 17 Days Post Op

Overall I am feeling really good! I am getting some energy back and sleeping better at night which makes me feel better during the day.

I had my post op with Doctor Florman, my surgeon today. He was a little concerned that there is still fluid on top of my skull as this poses a greater risk of infection. As he described the surgery: they removed the tumor which was attached to part of my brain membrane. The membrane keeps the fluid inside the skull. They covered the hole in the membrane, but it is impossible to sew up all the tiny leaks, so it may always leak a little. If the fluid builds up too much it could be uncomfortable and need to be drained which they can do but they don’t like to do this as the hole from the needle can be a port for infection. I have been told to stay upright as much as possible and maybe even sleep on an incline again to prevent the fluid from building up. I don’t really want to sleep on an incline as I don’t sleep well that way so I will try to stay vertical during the day as much as possible.

He also said it is very likely the tumor will grow back because it is impossible to know if every single cell was removed, and it probably wasn’t, during surgery. I will be getting MRI’s at regular intervals, more frequently at first, then if there is minimal to no growth less frequently. My first one will be in two months.

He said I really shouldn’t be getting sweaty or lifting or bending over still because of the fluid build up, so I am still on “light duty”.

My mother left today to head back to Virginia. I don’t know what we would have done without her. She took the boys out every afternoon so I could have some quiet rest time. I think this time really aided in my recovery.

I am thrilled to report that I haven’t had a headache since the surgery. My eyes are improved a little, but they have regressed from the amazingness that was my eyesight right after surgery. I don’t know if that is because of the fluid build up or my eyes just going back to normal. I am still wearing my glasses which is a little disappointing.

I will leave you with the following quote:

“When you arise in the morning,

think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive –

to breath, to think, to enjoy, to love.”

Marcus Aurelius

 

I am certainly grateful to be alive, to watch my children grow and laugh, to hug my family and my friends a little tighter, to eat wonderful food prepared with love by friends and family, to feel the sun on my face and the crispness of the winter air – to breath, to think, to enjoy, to love…