Monday, September 26, 2011

Calves, bottles & food out of boxes

Last week was a busy one at Lowfields Farm. We had 14 births with 3 of the calves being in permanent bottle feeding.  That means about 12 bottles a day! When we aren't cleaning bottles, preparing bottles or feeding the calves, the Amigos are checking on the pregnant cows. They check twice during the day and once during the night, when the majority of births take place.   
We are all exhausted - last night I slept on a pile of clean laundry that I had thrown on the bed to fold but never got to it.  We have only eaten food out of boxes, not anything fun like our typical Saturday Night Suppers.   
Looking forward to a visit today from friends Kelli & Eliza - I hope they bring some real food.  It will be a much needed break! 
Lowfields Emma Woodhouse - one hour old!
*Notice all cows are named after characters in Jane Austen novels

The twins escaped from the barn and were waiting for me this morning! 
The cow kitchen in the Milking Parlour - where we spend most of our time! 

Bottles, Bottles, Bottles

The twins being fed 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Charles' Office

Since we have a lot more space with the changes made to Cold Comfort, we now have room for an office for Charles.   It's in the lower level of Cold Comfort Hall and it's a perfect space for him to take care of all the farm business as well as provide extra sleeping space for guests.  There is a grand office area, a full bathroom and 2 sleeping "cubbies" so it makes for quite a useful space!  
Main office area

Additional view of main office area

One of two sleeping "cubbies" for guests

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saturday Night Supper

After a week of hard work and lots of calves being born at Lowfields, I wanted to make something easy but delicious for our Saturday Night Supper.  I have seen chicken cooked this way before and have always wanted to try it.    Especially since we hadn't had proper suppers all week due to being so exhausted.   Don't be alarmed at the title of the recipe - it in no way includes frog legs!  

Frog Leg Chicken (named this way because if it was true frog legs, this is a typical way to cook them)
Take boneless skinless chicken thighs and dust with flour.  
In a cast iron skillet, melt butter and add floured chicken.  
Cook on both sides until cooked through and golden brown.    
Frog Leg Chicken in cast iron skillet
While you are cooking the chicken, roast one head of garlic in the oven.  Once done, mash the garlic out into some olive oil.  Add 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice and a bunch of fresh thyme.   

We had the chicken and sauce over pasta but it would also be delicious over rice or mashed potatoes! 

Our Saturday Night Supper was accompanied by one of our favorite salads - it may sound like a weird combo but it really is great!   All it includes are grapefruit sections, sliced avocado, lemon juice and a little pepper.  
Our Saturday Night Supper - a lovely way to end the week!  

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Special Project: Operation Trumeau Mirrors

I do love a special project.  As if there wasn't enough to do at the farm this past week with all the calves being born and having to bottle feed, etc.  I decided to make good use of some inside time on one of the afternoons when it was sweltering outside.    Let Operation Trumeau Mirror commence!  

I found some great old trumeau mirrors for the living room and they were so large that we had to take them apart in Raleigh to allow for safe transport to the farm.  Of course, nothing is easy, these mirrors weigh a TON so I had the help of my treasured Amigos for the installation.  I am replacing two smaller mirrors with these lovely ones next to the large clock face by the wood-burning stove.  
The Amigos helping assemble the mirrors after transport

Let the installation begin...
(notice one of the 2 old mirrors that I am replacing on the right)
I am quite pleased with the finished product.  They make the room look a lot bigger and give it a depth that the previous mirrors did not!  
Operation Trumeau Mirror Complete and looking lovely!

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Tale of Two (or Five) Pups

Since we were first married, we have always had dogs and from the start, mostly beagles and almost all rescues. All of them originally were named after characters in The Andy Griffith Show.
Aunt Bea, Thelma Lou, Opie & Andy go for a ride
The only beagle remaining from the original pack is Andy aka Ferret (named so because when we first got him as a rescue he was very long and thin).  Ferret has since proven to be insane and a runaway, we didn't and still don't know how long he will live given his propensity to just take off into the woods for days at a time.  Stay tuned in future posts for "The Adventures of Ferret". 
Andy aka Ferret
Then we inherited Floyd - a vegan Chihuahua-beagle mix who is a total weirdsmobile and does yoga.  One of his greatest skills is mushroom hunting in the forests of Lowfields. Even though his name is Floyd,  he requires that you address him as HIM FLOYD in a crazy high voice.  You never, and I repeat, never, look him in the eye when he is eating!  
Artsy Portrait of Floyd

Floyd loves himself a snuggly blanket
Clara Belle came along in the past couple years and was chosen as a playmate for Floyd -she weighs 9 pounds and is a crazy mix of little mean dogs.  We adore her and if she and Floyd are together they are called The Darling Buds of May.  She loves to catch a ride on the tail of one of the Reds.  
Formal Portait of Clara Belle

The Darling Buds of May sleep in on a Sunday morning
Since all of our dogs were on the smaller side, we wanted some bigger dogs for the farm. So we rescued 2 golden retrievers who were brothers.  We call them the Reds when together but they are Peanut & Percy individually. They are 6 yrs old and we have erased all presence of the good manners they arrived with when we first got them. 
The Reds


All of our dogs travel back and forth with us from Raleigh to the farm.. so as you can imagine, doing a pit stop on the way is a sight to see!  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Momma's Lunch Out

As I was going back up to the Hall, I noticed this tiny spec out in the field... 
I kept getting closer...
and closer...
until it finally became clear that it was a newborn that the mother had hidden so she could go eat lunch with her friends.  
The mother never showed up as I got closer, most older mothers would have come racing towards me, but this calf's first time mother was oblivious! 

The Three Amigos

A fully functioning farm like Lowfields can not just run on it's own.   Not sure what would we do without our great workers who always go above and beyond. We could not have this place without their hard work and dedication! I call our three farm workers the "amigos".  

Not only are the amigos super smart but also very nice to be around. They come from a very tight knit family in the mountains of Mexico and are definitely missed when they go back home to visit!  

And although we call them the amigos, we actually consider them family.

The Three Amigos - Grady, Rolando & Filiberto

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Nursery

Just like a hospital, we have a nursery at Lowfields.  We have 3 calves that currently reside here - the twins and a 2-day old, all being bottle fed by myself and our farm workers around the clock.  It makes for a busy day!  

The Nursery

Enjoying a milky drink

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Saturday Night Supper

Charles came home with a beautiful roaster chicken from Whole Foods so I took this as a hint that he wanted it for our Saturday Night Supper!    A lot of people are scared to roast a whole chicken but over the years, I have honed my skills to do it in a simple, easy and delicious way!  I typically use my Le Crueset dutch oven pot as it's easiest to clean up and you can throw everything in there and you're done. 

Here is my recipe for Easy Roast Chicken...  enjoy!  

Roaster Chicken
1/2 Stick Butter - cubed
Button Mushrooms (or any of your liking) - chopped
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup good drinking sherry

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Wash & dry your chicken thoroughly.  Put cubed butter and mushrooms in bottom of pan.  Place chicken directly on top of butter & mushrooms.  Pour orange juice and sherry over chicken.  It is also mandatory to enjoy a glass of sherry while preparing - it makes the chicken taste better! 
Chicken - before! 
Cover & roast for 2 hours.  Add some chicken broth if pan is looking dry. Increase oven temp to 350 degrees, remove lid and continue to cook until done.    Drain off any oil from bottom of pan but don't remove the good bits.  Thicken with 2 tablespoons of tomato paste for your gravy.  
Chicken - After! 
I then mixed cooked Basmati rice with the mushroom gravy and we had some lovely peas to accompany our meal!  
Our Saturday Night Supper

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What Happens in the Barn... Stays in the Barn

When we first arrived at Lowfields, there were no animals except for a stray emu who was eating everything in the orchard.  Several years later, we noticed a crazy wild-looking gray cat (she is now known as 'Fraidy Cat) wandering around the barn.
'Fraidy Cat
Little did we know that she at the time was pregnant!  We ended up with kittens galore and had what we call the "great round-up"... it took 8 adults to gather the 8 kittens and 'Fraidy to take them to get spayed and neutered and all their shots - I think they knew what was in store for them!  

In the end, we still have 5 of the them and 'Fraidy who inhabit our barn.  We call them the Confederates... the night they drove ol' dixie down!
 Confederates at mealtime

Lovin' on each other in the garden

A little sun snooze

At home in the barn

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


As mentioned, we had a ton of apples from our orchard ready for picking and eating!  I froze a lot for the holidays but also decided to make my own applesauce.  This was a test recipe that I tried at home in Raleigh before I go to the farm this week and really make use of all the delicious apples!

We like to add this to cake batter for a really moist & rich cake and we also serve it with pork and potato cakes.    I am thinking I will freeze some for a treat for Cutty when he comes at Christmas!  

The secret is the sweetness of the apples - do not use tart ones!

Here is the recipe: 
Peel & cut apples
Simmer with only a tiny bit of water until soft 
Add one teaspoon of cinnamon
Stir and then mash with a potato masher
Allow to cool then freeze!  

Homemade Applesauce - YUM!  

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Cold Comfort Hall

When we built Cold Comfort Cottage in 2000, we just needed a little place that was not too hard to mange for our dogs and ourselves. The farm was to be a getaway and a rest from work and on our time off, we just wanted a small place where we could relax!  Well, as you have heard me say before in this blog - WHAT WERE WE THINKING?

We realized quite quickly that we were going to need a bigger house as we were having many guests and guest dogs and the cottage only had a table for two.

Because of our configuration up on the bluff, I knew we would have to add on from the front of the house vs. the back as most people do.  Looking through many architectural books of our area in VA, I finally came across a great house. It was designed by Thomas Jefferson and located not far from our farm. It was one of the few clapboard houses he designed; it is privately owned and its name is Edgemount.  We are also down the road from Jefferson’s Monticello and next door to another Jefferson jewel, Bremo, our wonderful neighbors.
The inspiration - Edgemount
The existing dimensions and elevation fit our site perfectly so we have proceeded over the last 2 years to create our own Edgemount at Lowfields - minus the dome!
Cold Comfort Hall
Front Porch at Cold Comfort Hall

Cold Comfort Hall through the Gate House on a misty morning

Inside the Hall

Here's a peak inside of Cold Comfort Hall...  With the addition of space, we now have a new master bedroom, a bigger kitchen and a dining room that can seat up to 10 people.  There is also an office for Charlie downstairs with two addition sleeping quarters (stay tuned for post for that!).
Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom w/ Guest Dog
Dining Room - with entries into kitchen and living room

Dining Room

Kitchen - view from Dining Room


Kitchen - breakfast table

Living Room

Living Room
We turned the previous kitchen at the Cottage into a huge mud room which helps with the all the comings and goings of the dogs.
Mud room