Archive | October 2016

Surprise Pancakes


What to do with those bananas that get over ripened if you don’t enjoy the flavor of banana bread?  Why, make Surprise Pancakes, of course!  The surprise is these light, fluffy cakes are made with banana and the taste is almost imperceptible.

We love them hot, slathered with butter and drowned in the thick maple syrup we produce here at the farm.  I also enjoy the pancakes reheated in the microwave and stacked, with a liberal coating of homemade apricot jam between the layers.  Because the recipe effortlessly incorporates a good dose of dietary fiber, it feels like eating these pancakes is actually good for you!

If you have more ripe bananas on hand than you can manage, bananas freeze very well whole in their skins.  The skin will turn brown, but the fruit inside will stay as it was when fresh.  Defrost the banana until it is pliable before peeling.

Surprise Pancakes

1 large ripe banana mashed

1  1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

5 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups milk

2 eggs

1/3 cup oil

1 teaspoon vanilla


In a large mixing bowl mash the banana.  Sift in dry ingredients.  Make a large well in the middle of the dry ingredients and place the wet inside.  Whisk the wet ingredients until the eggs are beaten and combined, then continue whisking all together until the batter is smooth.  Any desired fruit may be folded into the recipe at this point, for instance 3/4 to 1 cup blueberries, chopped strawberries, crushed pineapple or diced apples.  Cook on medium high, 350F on an electric griddle, turning once to brown both sides.  Serve with butter, maple syrup, berry syrup, jam or preserves.  Makes 12 to 15 cakes.


Little Bunnies First Day Out


We’ve had some gorgeous, warm, sunny days lately and now that the little angora rabbits are a month old, a few days ago it was time for them to get to know the great outdoors.  The fawns and their mother came out to the large outside rabbit run.  The area is approximately 8 ft by 16 ft, plenty of space for little bunnies to race around.a4

The babies kicked up their heels, tasted fresh grass, clover, dandelion and plantain from the lawn and stretched out in the shade to enjoy the balmy air and gentle breeze.  Mama rabbit is very happy for the break from close quarters with her infants.  There are three fawns:  two female albinos and one male color point.  The color point can be told by the smudge of brown on his nose.  As he grows, his ears, feet and maybe even tail will turn a soft brown shade.  His coat will be cream and his eyes are blue.a3
He is an adorable baby and I plan to keep him. To enlarge my herd I also will keep one of his little sisters. My rabbit population dropped to just two before these were born. Rabbits do not live terribly long, seven years on average. I had several about the same age who passed away this last winter and spring. Now, thanks to rabbits doing what they do best, I have new members of the rabbitry to produce fiber.a5

After a good romp and feed, mom and babies settle down to doze away the warm afternoon.a6

Harvest at the Farm


The woods are glowing with the colors of autumn and harvest is in full swing at Phoenix Farm.  Even with two months of extreme drought in mid-summer, no rainfall at all, the plants have provided us with a bounty.  The apple and pear harvest began in August.  Bartlett pears are bountiful, juicy and delicious.  All our produce is organic so please overlook the less than perfect appearance of the fruit.  We do not apply any spray to the trees.  We get fruit naturally, the way it was intended.  h7
Our first heavy frost was two days ago. The afternoon before, I harvested all my red bell peppers. The plants did very well in the partial shade of the corn, providing me with some monster-sized vegetables. The total harvest included two more peppers, already enjoyed.h4h5

The pumpkin and squash harvest is almost complete.  Just a few gourds left to pick.  We got plenty of nice pumpkins for Halloween and acorn squash for winter keeping.h1

For the fisrt time in several years we had a grape harvest! Perhaps the dry weather encouraged the grapes. The three varieties we grow are represented, purple, red and white. Last evening I processed these grapes and got enough juice to make two recipes of grape jelly. Yum!h3
The indian corn is still ripening. A few ears were ready so I picked them before the birds could destroy my fall decorations. This year the birds are causing unusual damage to this crop. It may be the drought limited the availability of their normal wild seed food sources. Last week a flock of migrating grackles descended on the corn patch and I ran out arms flapping to scare them off.h2
The air is full of migrating flocks. Canada geese honk overhead, noisy grackles by the thousands pass through, gangs of robins alight on the lawns for a few minutes before rushing off south, and several flights of red-winged blackbirds stopped to rest at our pond this week.

The weather is still quite warm. To have so little frost this late in the season seems to be our new normal. I am hoping the warmth continues as it did last year right into December. The drought seriously hurt our hay harvest. We made only three-fourths of the bales needed to go through winter. If the horses can graze all November as they did last year, I won’t have to buy as much hay at the premium price resulting from drought scarcity.  I’m letting the beautiful leaves and warm, golden days distract me from the worries of hay shortage.h8

Baby Angora Rabbits 3 Weeks Old


The baby bunnies turned three weeks old today.  They are so very cute!  Two are albino, pure white with red eyes, and one is pearl, cream with brown tips on the nose, ears and blue eyes.  Such tiny bundles of fur, they fit in one hand.  Their fiber is growing quickly.  Soon they will not need to snuggle in the hair of mom’s nest for warmth.  Already they are hopping around the cage eating pellets and sharing whatever treats mom gets.bun2

In the photos the fawns are resting from a morning snack of fresh dandelion greens, grass and clover. They also nibble on apples and chew hay.  Plus they still nurse and will continue to do so until at least eight weeks of age when mom begins to wean them.

I have my eye on the pearl.  Such a gorgeous baby!  I believe it is a little boy.  At this age it is very hard to tell, but it sure looks like a boy to me.  Even if it’s a male, I plan to keep this one!  If one of the albinos is female, I may keep her as well.  My rabbitry was down to two bunnies before the birth of these little ones!  This year two adult rabbits died.  I would like to have at least four rabbits to get an adequate supply of fiber.

Horse Riding at Acadia National Park


This past weekend I was lucky enough to join a group led by my farrier to horseback ride the carriage roads at Acadia National Park.  Such a wonderful experience.  My twenty-seven-year-old Saddlebred horse Vista and I went out on four excursions over the long, three-day weekend.d1  The horses are kept at Wildwood Stables near Seal Harbor on Mt. Desert, right in the national park.  The stables also operate carriage rides with draft horses.  Above is the draft horse barn and pasture.  There are three large, comfortable barns for boarding riding horses, parking for long horse trailers and a small campground.  I shared my six-man tent with a friend.d3The carriage roads of Acadia are famous for their beauty, their extensive network, and the effort that was made to construct them.  These gravel roads run for miles through some of the finest scenery in the country.  Forest and mountain, lake, marsh, field and ocean all are accessed by roads limited to use by bikes, horses, hikers and carriages.  The stone bridges and tunnels are awe inspiring constructions.d4Because Acadia is a place dear to my heart, riding my horse in this park is the ultimate outdoor adventure for me.  Vista enjoyed the company of so many different horses.  She is a very social animal and could not stand to be left behind so we went on all the rides.  d2My bottom is still a bit sore from so much time in the saddle.  Normally I ride bareback.  When I’m enjoying the scenery of Acadia and friendship of like-minded horse people, bodily pain is easily ignored.  I look forward to another trip in a year or so with Maddie, my nine-year-old horse.  She will need some concentrated training to get ready for this ultimate trail ride.  We’ll start working on that in a few days, when my backside has recovered.d6