Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Juju et. al.

Voodoo priestesses, farm queens, domestic pet haters. These girls (sans their squire) could teach classes on homeland security.

Chicken Soup for the Body & Soul

This is my favorite chicken soup recipe from the Old Farmer's Almanac. I make it anytime my family is under the weather, and it never fails to do the trick. It might not make you well, but it will make you feel better! I also make it just for the heck of it because it's sooooo yummy.

You can cheat and use canned chicken stock -- but it won't be the same. Yield: 8 to 10 servings

4 quarts cold water
1 4- to 5-pound chicken, quartered
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped (or diced, your preference)
4 to 5 stems parsley
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
a couple of handfuls of rice or egg noodles, optional (I like the egg noodles)

Measure water into a large soup pot and add all the ingredients. Slowly bring to a boil over medium heat, then immediately reduce the heat and simmer for 3 hours, using a spoon to frequently skim the soup as well as possible. Remove from heat and cool. Skim fat from the surface and strain the soup. Wash out the soup pot and return the strained stock to the pot.

Remove and discard bay leaf and parsley. Mash the carrots, celery, and garlic and stir them into the soup. Remove the skin and bones from the chicken, chop the meat and add to the soup. (If the chicken meat has completely fallen apart, that's ok, too; just use as is, with bones removed.) Heat and season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Cold Season Woes

Many people find themselves susceptible to wintertime woes such as colds, dry skin and hair, seasonal eczema, dandruff, and brittle nails. These problems may be caused by a Vitamin F deficiency. Vitamin F consists of linoleic and linolenic acids, two essential fatty acids.

Cold pressed vegetable oils, Evening Primrose seed oil, toasted pumpkin and whole seeds, whole grains, and whole nuts are all excellent sources of natural Vitamin F.

Also, Vitamin A is essential for healthy mucous membranes and protects against infections which are common during winter months when humidity is low and we are exposed to drying indoor heat. Vitamin A can be found in alfalfa, burdock, carrots, cayenne pepper, dandelion, endive, garlic, horseradish, kelp, lemongrass, parsley, raspberry, red clover, watercress and yellow dock.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Winter Wonderland Stew

I just found this recipe in an e-newsletter I received from the Polishing Stone magazine, and it sounds like an extremely hearty, healthy and yummy dish for a cold winter day. I'll be whipping this one up very soon.

Winter Wonderland Stew by SunnyApril & Birk Vail

1 large rutabaga
3 turnips
2 carrots
1 sweet potato
3 white potatoes
1-2 parsnips
1 medium onion
2-3 broccoli stems
1 celery stalk
1 zucchini
1 cup crimini mushrooms, quartered
1 16oz can whole peeled tomatoes, squished
1/2 cup barley
1/3 cup red lentils
2 bay leaves
5-8 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper
8 cups chicken stock and/or water
Optional meat options: Lamb, venison, or beef

To make:
Peel and cube rutabaga, turnips, sweet potato, potatoes, and parsnips. Peel and slice broccoli stems and zucchinis. Cut up rest of veggies and put all veggies in a large stock pot or Dutch oven, add tomatoes, bay leaves, garlic, salt, and add stock to cover. Let simmer for an hour or so, until veggies are almost tender. Add lentils. Simmer until lentils have fallen apart and thickened the stew. Add more stock if needed. Remove bay leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste.

If using a meat, sear in same pot before adding veggies and stock.

Serve with crusty rustic bread. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Minutes from the 4 o'clock officers meeting:

As follows:
Jan. 16, 2008, East Coop.
Present: Rosy, Daisy, Angus, Baby Kitty, Big Daddy. Absent: Mama Juju, Ceasar, #2 Guinea, Grand Master Peacock, goat representation.

Mama Juju is not present with the minutes from our last meeting. The officers vote unanimously to remove her from her post as secretary pending a search for residual voodoo paraphernalia in the side shed.

Daisy has been fired without warning from her regular evening milking sessions with The Humans, and thus the extra feed given during these sessions has also been eliminated. Rosy makes a motion to reinstate regularly scheduled, midnight "Lock Picking and Door Opening" classes as soon as the goats arrive. Motion is carried. Practice may resume immediately after hours on the chicken house.

Baby Kitty would like to request that disciplinary action be taken immediately against Mama Juju and her sisters for blatant treaty violations. The officers will vote on this after BK has given acceptable restitution to Big Daddy and his women for obvious, unnaproved stalking during the meeting.

Angus makes a motion for final destruction of the southeast fence and a fourth escape attempt. This motion is voted down again by Daisy.

With no other immediate business, everyone agrees to meet in the upper garden next month at an as yet unspecified time to avoid the Human with the camera. The meeting is officially closed with The Secret Stare.

I'm just a mudhole..

(sing it!) .. just a great big mudhole, but someday I'm gonna be a POND .. oh I hope and pray that I will, but today I am still, just a big mudhole.

Poor little pond. My father-in-law, who also happens to be my "within-spitting-distance" neighbor, is a seasoned farmer/comedian and has been working on building up this little pond for a while now. The "dike" or little island is for the geese, who feel that every square inch of this land is theirs to defend unto death. The drought last summer completely dried up the pond (which angered the lordly geese) so he was able to get his tractor down in there and do some major scraping.

Hopefully Mama Juju and her haughty friends will approve.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Mushy Stuff

My darling husband, who I lovingly refer to as Bird (the man is an insanely devoted duck hunter, blech) and who has been my best friend for 30 years now since our first meeting on a school bus, did something wonderful for me once.

We have a "special place" that holds many sweet memories for us, dating back to 1991 when were were still friends pretending not to be in love with each other. That place is Cades Cove, in the Great Smokey Mountains right next to Townsend, Tennessee, where they happen to have the best fudge on the planet (thank you Little River Village Fudge Kitchen & Sweet Shoppe), in case you're interested.

Anyway, without getting into the whole story, which I could never condense into a manageable size, Cades Cove has been a source of love, beauty, hope, and wonder for us since we first hiked it way back when. We love everything about the place, and I have always been especially enchanted by the plant life and rocks there during every season. I just can't adequately describe it in words; you need to see it for yourself, especially if you are interested in southern Appalachian history.

Our whole crazy history is very hard to put into a time frame, but we ended up marrying in 2000, and he was very late for our first date. I was worried sick.

He finally showed up at my door and handed me an oddly shaped (mini-Stonehenge-ish), beautiful, smooth rock and I immediately knew where it came from. Bird had driven six hours to bring me a rock from the Cove. The friend who rode with him thought he was nuts.

So. Every year we visit the Cove and we bring back an unusual rock for our collection. This year we'll add number sixteen!

Hi there.

Cove Rock Farm, which was the original name of this Blog, is a small, sustainable family operation on the northern brow of Sand Mountain in northeastern Alabama, overlooking the beautiful Tennessee River. Please feel free to keep tabs on our blog where we'll be recording our trials and triumphs to share with those of you who are interested in, desire, or simply like to gawk at the simple life.

I originally hoped to create a blog dedicated to herbs and natural health, because it's my passion/love/life and what I've studied for what seems like forever, but there's so much more to be learned from this farm life and I'm just gonna pile it all in and let you dig around for what interests you.

I'll be posting information on medicinal herbs and how to respect and use them wisely, plus my favorite recipes, and there's a lot of them. We're going to be growing a wide variety of seasonal, naturally grown culinary and medicinal herbs and I'll try to keep pictures of our progress posted.

We are currently modifying fences and building accommodations for a small herd of goats which we hope to introduce to our land this summer, 2008, so if you've got your eyes on being a professional goat herder some day, there's a good chance you'll find an opportunity to learn from our mistakes. There'll be lots of those pics, too.