Jars are ordered and now it's time to start another batch of infused cooking oils. Rosemary is by far my favorite flavor as it can be used in so many dishes. I basically use it anytime I need oil for cooking. My cooking oils are made with an extra virgin cold press Mediterranean olive oil which I infuse with different herbs and combinations of herbs. If you watch your nutrition and try to eat healthy foods, you already know about the many benefits of using olive oil and that it is a major component of the Mediterranean diet. The Mayo Clinic even promotes using olive oil as it contains monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and can protect against heart disease and other serious conditions. Whenever possible I raise my own herbs for infusion. That way I know what's NOT on the herbs as far as pesticides and other contaminants.
So what can you cook with rosemary oil? The possibilities are endless! Below are some of my favorites to get you started.
Eggs - scrambled, fried or omelets
Roasted meats - beef, lamb, pork, poultry and fish
Kebabs - meat and vegetable
Salads - pasta, pea, mint, avocado and the list goes on
Bread - brush on or mix in bread, rolls, biscuits and pizza crusts
Potatoes - brush on to roasted or mix in mashed potatoes
Vegetables - grilled or roasted eggplant, squash, zucchini, corn and tomatoes
What is it about weathered wood boards, young tender plants and an old galvanized pail that creates feelings of nostalgia within us? Is it the simplicity of the past? A longing for those good old days? Yet, our elders say we haven't a clue as to what "the good old days" were like. Then we think of our kids and how they may view the good old days in their adulthood.
Maybe the sight of these things which have weathered the storms and the peace of the past bring back memories of the places and ones we love. For some it will be memories of a grandparent or favorite aunt's house. Maybe working with a parent to plant a garden or new flowers in the window box. The feel and the smell of the rich soft earth filling your hands and nostrils as you gently scoop it around the young plants and pat it down. Some of us will remember the feel of sand, decomposing leaves and tiny stems in the soil while mixing it with a little water to make mud pies and other dining delicacies. Remember the awesome pastry decorations nature provided with the yellow dandelion and purple clover blooms?
Spring blooms and seedlings create excitement as we transition from the gloom and cold of winter to sunshine, fields of color and warmth! It's like having a fresh start. A fresh start can be liberating and full of hope. There's just something about digging in the dirt to plant a garden or flower. It's the anticipation of delicious food and beauty in our future. The joy of once again aiding in the growth and development of a young life. We do all in our power to provide water, nutrients and protection as they grow stronger and mature. Have you ever noticed you can water the garden daily to maintain just the right moisture level and the plants will grow, but when nature sends just a little rain the growth is much faster than when we provide the water? That’s a lot like when we try to be in control of our own destiny and fix our own problems. We are able to grow and survive. But do we truly thrive and reach the ultimate potential as we would if we could trust and rely on God instead of ourselves to handle things? There are many times when we get overwhelmed or have decisions to make. Our thoughts and lives become filled with questions, stress and chaos as we try to find answers and solutions. We always think, “I’ve got this”, until the droughts without the nourishing waters needed for growth come along, or the destruction of unexpected flood waters suck all the life out. Both extremes cause the withering of beauty and the collapse of structure. Our direction could be full of peace and clarity if only we could rely on God for guidance and answers. Will these answers be immediate, what we want or expect? No, not always. But we will have peace as we wait, search and take a different path than we may have intended. Just as plants hang on until the land is once again nourished with needed rain, or flood waters are dried by the sun, so we can hang on to our loving God for strength during our times of drought or flood. There is peace when we rely on the power of God to see us through the storms of life which we have no control over. To me, that's part of the beauty radiating from both the old memories and the new spring growth. I know God was there in the past and he is here today as well as tomorrow! Every spring is the promise of a new beginning, a fresh start. A reminder God will forgive us and nourish new growth in us. All we need to do is toss our confessions on the compost pile and let God turn them into a rich fertile soil for us to plant our lives in. A soil rich in nutrients needed for strong solid growth and beautiful blooms!
After all the rain last week, we finally had a chance to get out in the apiary to check out the hives and do some work. All the hives at the farm are thriving and busy. We then headed down the road to visit the offsite hives we started and relocated last weekend. The sole purpose of this weekend's visit was to visually determine if there were signs of life in the two new hives. Our visit revealed success. At least for now. One of the two nucs we started is from a hive that was thriving last fall, but had weakened over winter to the point where there were only a few frames of bees. We were able to locate the queen so we determined the best chance this hive had for survival was to add a few frames of bees and brood from another strong hive. It did appear the queen had started laying, but not a strong brood pattern. Not wanting to disturb them this weekend, we will take a look inside the hive next weekend to see how things going and to determine if the queen is laying a and better pattern. The other nuc we relocated is also another experiment for us as third year beekeepers. For that nuc we removed a few strong frames full of bees, eggs, larva, and pupa. We did not add a queen. Hives without a queen will raise a new queen from one of the eggs in the hive. It will be interesting to see how this turns out as well. Stay tune for more details to follow soon!
Got all geared up and headed out to the barn for feeding time last night... rubber boots for wading through the flood waters, light jacket, headlamp, and of course, the bucket of feed. Was enjoying the walk in the rain-free weather when I looked up to see a cottontail rabbit hopping around the floodwaters along the dry rises in the yard. What a beautiful sight! Oh man, left the cell phone camera in the house as I usually do on wet days to avoid dropping it in a puddle. Walked on towards the barn, enjoying the moment. As I was approaching the horse stall, I heard a strange sound. Was my feral cat friend back in the barn? I turned to look. No cat. Then I hear it again. Looking around I spot the source.... It's an opossum climbing in one of the old abandoned rabbit cages stacked in the corner. What excitement! I haven's seen an opossum in years. Quick, the camera. Oh man, that's right, it's in the house! I head quickly back to the house, grab my cell phone and professional camera. Returned just as quickly to the barn. Yes! He's still in the cage. Snapped a few good shots and headed back to the house. Wondering, as I exit the barn wading through the high waters, just how many animals have passed through the barn never seen. Over the years, in addition to the anticipated residents, there have been other opossums, unwanted rat snakes, rats, birds and the recent feral cat. Possibly the skunk residing in the barnyard passed through the barn. Yes, I presume so. But what else? Bobcats that have been spotted on my property? There was the morning I scared a couple of coyotes out of the barnyard that were standing just outside the barn door hunting for fresh chicken. I wonder? What other types of critters? How many? How often? Questions that can never be answered. Oh, the stories those barn walls could tell! Back at the house now, I open the door, slide the boots off and go on with my evening. The barn, too, will go on with its evening routine of sheltering all the unseen visitors as they pass through.
Peering out the windows while working inside today. Spring rains have once again nourished the dry parched soil on the farm. Yes, that is a blessing as the newly planted fruit trees and daffodils needed a refreshing drink. The plants in the garden have perked up and are standing proud. This little bird seems to be enjoying the crisp clean air as it pecks at a crumb. It's difficult to stay indoors this time of year as spring is beginning to call and there is so much work to be done here on the farm. One has to stop and ponder the thought, "Is this God's way of saying it's time to take a break while I do my part." Goodness knows there is beauty among the raindrops and water puddles!
What a beautiful weekend on the farm! Temperatures in the 70's, dry and sunny. Doesn't get much better than that. Was able to get a lot done outside. Completed the tilling of the garden, vegetables planted, arch garden tilled and planted with gourds. Spring is definitely in the air, and so is the pollen. That means the bees are extremely happy buzzing about in the blooming trees and flowers. We were also able to do some spring preparations in the bee yard with the hives.
A Mattingly - Owner and operator of Our Little Barnyard. Can't believe it's been over twenty years since I started living the farm dream! What an amazing and challenging journey it has been!
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