Thursday, July 21, 2011

Disappointed, Down But Not Out

The big fair sale was yesterday and all the livestock and hams were auctioned off, one by one. Before the sale each child lined up to have their picture taken with their show animal/ham. It was a day of preparation, mild chaos, and disappointment followed by confusion, anger, and one very sad little girl.

This was some one's idea of a practical joke. You see that ham with the Grand Champion ribbon on it, well, that is Kylee's ham. However, she didn't get Grand Champion...someone switched the ribbons.

We were congratulated by family, friends, and even our own club leader. I also spoke to the head of the livestock division from the Extension office about our winning the Grand Champion ribbon and no one said anything to us or Kylee until picture time--four days later.The sad part is that the head of the livestock division is also in charge of hams but apparently knows nothing about them. I asked simple questions like, "What paper work do we need to fill out to reserve the ham for state?" Her answer: "I don't know." Great leadership and organization.

The really sad part is that they knew about the ribbon switching and didn't fix it or tell us until we confronted them. Nice, right. Get a kid's hopes up, let them believe, then, rip it away. The fact that she didn't get Grand Champion isn't the real issue. Sure, we wanted to win it but she still has a blue ribbon ham and that is just fine by us. The real issue comes from the fact that they made my little girl cry and then had the "well, this stuff happens so just get over it" attitude toward her (one lady actually said that). It wasn't their fault, somehow it was our fault. Please explain that one to me. This is her first year in 4-H and her first time competing in anything--great first experience. Needless to say, my husband marched over to the Extension office and gave them a piece of his mind. They just argued with him. Go figure.

Oh, well. We know we don't have the clout, social status, or the elbow rubbing techniques to turn any heads and get a fair shake in 4-H but we still get the last laugh. No matter what the local yokels say we are still taking that ham to state and my baby still did a fantastic job on her very first country cured ham. We are also the only people taking a ham to state from Audrain county. Now that says something. I'm not sure what it says just yet but it says something.

State fair, here come the Windmann's and we are out for blood. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Garden Harvest

Gardening, like farming, is a family affair. We all get involved and enjoy every minute of it. We've been harvesting our treasures for weeks and it is time to share some of the bounty with you.

The radishes, though fully picked and no longer in the garden, came in droves and we nearly couldn't keep up with them.

Green is one of our families favorite colors. Not only is it the best color for a tractor but it is esthetically pleasing on food, as well.

This zucchini was a mammoth. It was as long as my forearm and hand and every bit as big around. We immediately breaded and fried it and it was d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s. We have another one every bit as big and it will get the same treatment. Fried zucchini is one of the best foods on earth. If you've never had it, you are missing out.

Green beans. Big, thick, beautiful, juicy, delicious green beans.

Miss Kylee helps in the garden and does a wonderful job picking the green beans. She has saved my back pain and discomfort many a times and I love her for it.

Mr Waylon helped me snap beans. We had great fun throwing the bean ends at Mina and watching them stick to her fur. She ate the ones that didn't stick. Mina loves green beans.

She also loves Waylon and gave him a kiss for all the yummy beans thrown her way.

Just think, this was only one patch of green beans. Good gravy, we're going to have a whole lot of beans.

The carrots are almost ready. A few more days and this little beauties brothers and sisters will double in size. Can't wait! Loves me some fresh garden carrots. Yum!
Finally, we have Kylee's pumpkins. This is one of many and she is looking forward to selling them once they are big, bright, and orange. Looking forward to it myself.

I love gardening. How about you?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

4-H Fair Results

And the winner is........................................................


Here it is, the Grand Champion ham. Ain't it a bute! I am so proud of my baby girl. Her first year of 4-H and she walks away Grand Champion. Look out Sedalia because the we are going to State.

This is the bookshelf Miss Kylee made for her woodworking project. She didn't make state but she did earn a blue ribbon. She did such a good job.

Poo-Boy got into the action, too. He won first place in the pedal tractor pull.

He gave it his all, pedaled his little heart out and pulled a whopping 35 feet.

He won a gold metal and he is still wearing it. He'll probably go to bed with that metal around his neck. Now that the kiddos have had a taste of victory they are hard core 4-H'ers. They can't wait until next year and neither can I.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dog Days of Summer

The dog days of summer. I never understood that phrase but what the heck, lets talk about Mina.

I see you...

Mina likes the corn...Between you and me, I like the corn, too.

This is Mr. Frog. He is not a dog.

But he got to know my other pups. 
I mean my children. They built him a habitat.

And found him a friend.

Back to Mina...

She got a new toy. A nice chewy, nearly indestructible rope.

And she like to beat herself with it.

I don't understand her need for violence but she is part of this family so she needs to have a little crazy in her to fit in.

But even the rope isn't enough to amuse her for long.

"But Mommmmm, I'm bored..."

"Hmmm, what can I find to do over here?"

Enter Cat, luckily she does not have Kitten with her. Yes, I named our feline friends Cat and Kitten because I am an original kind of person.

"I'm not touching you..."

"I'm not touching you..."

Cat and Mina get along almost as well as Kylee and Waylon. The only difference is that Mina likes to carry Cat around by her neck and mess up her hair with doggy slobber, which Cat really hates. Kylee can't quite get her mouth around Waylon's neck but Waylon has messed up Kylee's hair with icky boy slobber....Gross!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

4-H Fair Time **The Ham**

The county 4-H fair is just around the corner and I can't wait! You see, this is our first fair and our first is a really nice ham. We are hoping to place well, maybe even go to state but lets not get ahead of ourselves. 

Out of the bin the handsome ham emerges...

Kylee watches with anticipation

Down, down, down the handsome ham (and my handsome husband) makes its way closer to the waiting child  

Yeah, time to open the's just like Christmas. Not really, we don't give our children ham for Christmas but if you are looking for a nice holiday present for my husband a ham is a great idea. Just a thought....Oh, never mind...

Scrub, scrub, scrub the ham scrub the ham all clean...merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily life is but a dream...

If you have never made a country cured ham then you may be wondering why the ham needs a scrubbing. Well, I'll tell's mold. Not a lot of mold so don't freak out and it doesn't effect the meat at all. But it has been dangling in a grain bin since February. Please, let me explain...

In order to make a country cured ham you need to first procure a nice USDA inspected, skin on country ham. You'll want to do this in January, February at the latest. Then, you trim the ham down to "doll" it up and make it perdy. After you've made it all perdy, you then rub it down and stuff the hock with a salt cure which is a mixture of salt, sugar, red pepper, black pepper, and any seasoning you might like. There are several different recipes but I like to keep it simple. Now, here is the fun part, you wrap the ham and all it's salty goodness in a brown paper feed sack and let it hang in a barn or a bin for a couple months. Yes, I said months. Take it down, wash it, re-cure it, re-wrap it, re-hang it...for another couple of months. Again, yes, I said months. Finally, in July you pull it down, wash it up, and prepare it for the fair. We smoked our ham. In fact, it is smoking right now. I told it about the hazards of such a nasty habit but it won't listen...that was a joke, son...I say, I say a joke...(name that character)

And there you have it! One country cured ham ready for show and sale. I have it on good authority that Miss Kylee has one of the best looking hams of the year. Wish us luck, I hope we take Grand Champion but either way we enjoyed curing the ham and plan on repeating the process next year.

Friday, July 8, 2011

More on Gardening

All right, so this has been one weird summer. First it's cool, then it's hot, then it's stormy, then hot, then wet, cool, hot, stormy, really hot, cool, wet, scorching hot, tornadic, sunny here, sunny there, rainy here, rainy there, well, you get the idea. I mention this because we were worried about the garden. Since the weather has been unpredictable and wet...very wet...we weren't sure how our first garden was going to turn out.

Well, here's how it looks thus far:

Lush and Green...

Thick, bushy carrots...We may have gotten carried away when planting and I don't have the heart to thin them. I tried and I cried. They are all so can I choose?

Mmm...corn...sweet, sweet corn

My Zinnias are coming right along.

So  pretty...

And we can't over look the mammoth cucumbers.

Tomato!!! I can't wait.

Love me some peppy peppers.

Look! My pumpkin had a baby...

Greeny Beanies...almost

The broccoli looks a little shabby...or is that cauliflower? first marigold bloom.

Well, how is your garden going?