Last year we had purchased a small grape starting kit at a trade show – it contained paper tubes, filled with dry starter soil and a crate covered with plastic. We had never done this before, but we did take late cuttings off some concord grapes, and out of the 75 plants we started, about 50 were alive and well by the fall. (Not so sure if they will make it through this rough winter – we’ll have to see). This was not such a difficult task, so our plan is to try the grape propagation on a larger scale. There is a lot of detailed information available on the internet, here is one of the useful sites.
Fiona turned three years old this week, and she had one of her birthday parties at the farm – on Valentines Day! We were all very excited – well, the ladies and princesses at least were excited – to plan a “tea party”, complete with fancy clothes, lots of necklaces and hats that we decorated during the party. We are all hoping that this is the first of many little girl’s birthday “tea parties”.
We used some of Tina’s demitasse collection for our teacups along with the small bread plates from one of the china sets. Jigglers were served in fancy containers, fruit was arranged on skewers, pretty cookies were served on platters and we had baked an assortment of tiny cupcakes which were decorated with colorful icing.
The room was decorated with streamers and balloons and Samantha turned one of the high chairs into a birthday throne with the help of a lot of satiny fabric and tulle – in shades of pink with a bit of a zebra print accent!
It was such a blast – we all played dress-up, old and young alike – and it was hard to tell who enjoyed it most:
|Toben and Omi|
|Rachel enjoys her tea|
|Tina and Opa|
|Gracie and Toben|
|Adelaide models one of
the decorated hats
|Fiona admires one of her
presents: a tiny purse
One of our goals for this year is getting a real driveway to access the barn. Turns out that this is not as easy of a process as we initially thought. Since we are located on a state road, PennDOT has to approve the access and verify sufficient sight distances in both directions. The first step was to get an engineering firm to help draft plans to submit to PennDOT, and also contracting with an excavating company to clear out trees and tree stumps to gain access. Last month both of those projects got started- and ever since then, it has been snowing, so progress has stalled for now.
Here is another favorite recipe – for a dense, slightly sweet, wonderful breakfast bread. I mix my dough in a bread machine, but always use the “dough” setting, and then form the loaf, let is rise again, and bake in a conventional oven.
- 1 cup mashed sweet potato (about one medium sized yam or sweet potato, peel, cut into cubes and boil in water until soft, then mash with a fork and let it cool down a bit)
- 1/2 cup of lukewarm water
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- 1/3 cup of (real!) maple syrup
- 4 and 1/4 cup of bread flour
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 and 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
Place ingredient in order given into bread machine, use dough cycle. When finished, remove the dough, knead to get air bubbles out, and place in a greased bread pan. Let rise for 45 min to an hour. Then bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes (or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped) Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes on a wire rack, then remove from pan and let the bread cool completely. I usually brush the hot loaf with butter to make a softer crust.