Chronicles of the Long Shot Farm

Polymer Clay Doll Food

 

This year Jeff had the BRILLIANT idea of ordering polymer clay to occupy his many grandchildren (and daughters and wife as well).  Our goal was to create food for the 18in dolls that were the stars of Christmas.  Tina was inspired by someone who created a tiny deviled egg on Pinterest.  The clay arrived in many colors and with a variety of basic tools.  The experience ended up being fun for everyone.   The food was not too complicated because it was made with simple shapes and the scale is 1:3. We went through several pounds of clay and the dolls were thrilled.

Felicity could not believe her luck! At the Merriman General Store she found modern treats like Oreos, candy canes, and S’mores. Just in time for the holidays too! Possibly they were not sold out because other patrons, in 1774, did not know the true joy to be found in an Oreo.

Our Bitty baby is quite the entrepreneur.  She decided – at quite a young age – to open her own bakery, full of macaroons of every color, candies, white chocolate truffles, petit fours, and cupcakes.

Caroline enjoyed a hearty breakfast of monstrous bacon, a small egg, and an even smaller orange (kumquat?) before joining her father out on the skiff.  To think such unique proportions of food were to be found in 1812.

Tina made all the dresses in the above pictures as well, in case you were wondering!

Posted by Anja Weyant

2021 PA Farm Show Wine Results

This year the PA Farm Show had limited judging of events due to COVID-19, so we were happy to learn that the wine competition was still taking place. The biggest change to the competition this year was that wineries were only allowed to submit 5 wines.  This was not a problem for our small winery because we only have a few wines which meet the requirements.  To enter, wines must be made with 75% PA fruit and in a batch of at least 100 gallons.  You can see from the Winery deck that we grow most of our own fruit.  However, our vineyards are still young and as a result our batches of wine are not that large.

We are thrilled to announce that we have 3 medal winners this year: a red, a rosé, and a white.  Our 2019 Chambourcin received Silver and we won bronze medals for 2019 Summer Blend and 2019 Pink Quiver. It’s wonderful to see our hard work in the vineyards produce recognized PA wines.

Posted by Anja Weyant

 

 

Irrigating Traminettes

Last fall we had a well drilled near the Traminette patch. This area has been hit hard twice by drought: the first was the year they were first planted and the second time was this past summer. We should have had our first substantial harvest from these vines. Instead the drought stressed the plants and our Traminette harvest fell sadly short of expectations. So we decided it was high time to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Fortunately there is plenty of water underneath this area of the vineyard and drilling a well was straight forward. Now we are left with the task of getting the water from the well to each plant. We decided to suspend the irrigation line along the bottom wire of the trellis and put an emitter at each plant.  The emitter controls the flow of water at each vine. We suspended the line to prevent rodents from chewing through it and also to simplify servicing and trouble shooting the line.

Hanging the hose was a fun task, and all the Neill children were excited to participate. Lars and Duff held the roll of irrigation hose and Freyja and Leif took turns running down each row.

 

Then we slowly went down the row and attached the line to the wire with little curly-q’s.   The final task is to run a line from the well to the end of each Traminette row.  The line will need to be buried at places so the tractor can get through. But digging is not a winter job, so this is for our next visit.

Posted by Anja Weyant

Small Batch Wine Experiments

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been experimenting with some non-grape based wines.  We have always made wines from fruits other than grapes – actually that is how we got started.  Our first wines were blackberry, strawberry, cherry and peach.  But then we concentrated on learning to grow grapes and making grape wine.  We do blend our grape wines with fruit wines for certain blends, for example, our Bow and Arrow is a blend of Chambourcin and Blackberry wine, and our Summer Blend is a blend of Vidal Blanc and Apple wine.  But these current experimental batches are new to us.

Dandelion Wine:
During the first weeks of April, we picked the yellow petals off dandelions.  The recipes we found varied from 2 cups per gallon of water to 1 gallon of petals per gallon of water, and every ratio in between.  We opted for a 1:2 ration, so 8 cups of dandelion petals per gallon of water.  After about three weeks, we had picked  56 cups of petals – enough for a seven gallon trial batch!  We froze the petals right after picking, in small freezer bags marked with the number of cups.

As with any of the blossom wines, you basically make a strong “tea”, to extract the flavors and aromas of the flowers. So we used our large pressure canners to bring about 8 gallons of water to a full boil.  We did not have a large enough container to make this”tea” in, so we used two fermentation buckets from our home-winemaking days.  We did this initial step in our kitchen, not the winery, since we needed a stove.   Each bucket had a finely woven fermentation bag with the 28 cups of pedals, which we covered with 3.5 gallons of boiling water.  We then added the required amount of sugar – which brought the total volume up another half gallon –  and let the mixture steep.  We did measure  Brix, pH and TA and made some slight adjustments.

It smelled very pleasant, a bit like honey – but unlike anything we had ever smelled before.  Once the temperature cooled down to lukewarm, we added chopped yellow raisins, tartaric acid, some grape tannin, yeast nutrient etc. to the fermentation bag with the petals,  and left this sit for a day, before pitching yeast. We had a hard time getting the fermentation started, and it took three tries of different yeast strains, but it finally started a pretty rigorous fermentation.  We are waiting for it to complete, before straining the wine into carboys, and then start the racking regiment.  Seven gallons is not very much wine, considering that one gallon roughly fills 5 standard bottles – or ten 350 ml bottles.

 

Pumpkin Wine:
Last fall, we bought a lot of neck pumpkins, from which we removed the rind, seeds and all stringy matter.  We cut the pumpkin “meat” into cubes and froze them.  Earlier this month, we thawed them out and weighed them – we had 121 lbs.  We added the required amount of water, sugar, acid, tannin etc – as well as a small spice bag.  There were no precise recipes that we could find, so we made our own best guess.  We used two whole nutmegs and 14 allspice berries, which we put in a ziploc bag and smashed slightly with a hammer into course chunks.  We poured this into the spice bag and added 14 smallish cinnamon sticks, as well as chopped raisins.  Then we pitched the yeast, and the fermentation started on schedule.  This batch is fermenting in the winery, which is still rather cool,  so the fermentation is not too violent, but rather progressing at a nice pace.  We hope to rack this off on Memorial Day weekend – likely into 15 gallon demi-johns.  This should make about 35 gallons.

 

Elderberry Wine:
We just bottled 20 gallons of Elderberry wine in small, 350 ml bottles.  It took us two growing seasons to pick enough elderberries from our bushes, which we froze in gallon bags.  Last August, we thawed them out and mixed them with water, sugar and acid to get the correct balance for adding yeast and making wine.  As far as an experiment goes, this one has taken the longest so far!  The wine fermented without any issues, and we followed the same process as we do for all our wines, in regards to testing, racking and aging.  This prurplish red fruit wine has a very unique taste – and we look forward to sharing it.  The bottles still need to rest a bit and they need to be labeled.

We also have several bags of frozen elderberry blossoms that we picked last year, and we hope to get a lot more this year.  Elderberry blossoms make a beautiful white wine – we can’t wait to try it!

Leek Casserole with Rice

Here is one of my favorite leek recipes. Typically, you can find nice leeks in the spring at the local grocery store.

Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 4 thick leeks  (basically one per person.  If you use thin leeks, then you may want to use 8)
  • 8 slices of Muenster cheese, or another cheese that melts easily
  • 8 slices of ham, the kind that you would use on a sandwich (on the thin side)
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 and 1/3 cup of sour cream
  • 1 cup of milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the rice:

  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup of rice per person
  • 2 cups of chicken broth (or 2 and 2/3 cup if using more rice)
  • 2-4 tablespoons of butter
  • one small onion, finely chopped
  • salt to taste

Wash leeks, cut off the bottom hard root end, and cut off where the white stalk changes to green leaves. Check and make sure that there is no dirt on the top end where the leaves start.  Add leeks to a pot of boiling, salted water and boil for about ten minutes.  Remove from water and let drain and cool slightly.

If the leeks were thick, cut them in half. Wrap each piece in a slice of ham, then in a slice of cheese and place in a greased casserole dish.

Beat the eggs thoroughly with a hand mixer or a stand mixer.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Beat in the sour cream and milk until the mixture is smooth and pour over the rolled leeks in the casserole dish. The egg mixture should cover the leeks.  (you can make more, with the same proportions, and add it).

Bake at 400 degree F, approximately 35-40 minutes.  The egg mixture should be firm and golden brown on top.

While the casserole is baking, prepare the rice.  Heat butter in a medium sized pot until hot, then add the chopped onion and heat until glassy looking. Add the rice and stir into the hot mixture until the rice is coated with the butter.  Add the chicken broth and salt if desired.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a slight simmer, cover pot and let the rice cook until all liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.