The Power of Lard

pig fat

I’m a closet lard eater. I learned early on that it’s not wise to bring it up in conversation. I can defend the innocent monounsaturated vitamin D source as “just like olive oil but better.” Yet, this never goes over well and we descend into a whirlwind of saturated fat is bad m’kay. Pork fat is bad. But it isn’t. Lard is everything fake lard aspires to be (yeah I’m talkin’ to you, Crisco). It’s lovely stuff that makes very good things more good. If you happen to buy a pig from a farmer and help butcher it and pop it in your freezer, you end up with a lot of potential lard. I had rendered a batch here and there in the oven while simultaneously burning crackling. Yet, there’s still more fat to render. Today, I went whole hog and rendered the lot. I did a stovetop method with a splash of water. It took most of the day. I have a napping baby and plenty of work to do on the farm so a bubbling pot of pig fat adds to the thrill of it all.


white gold

Working with pig fat feels like soap. As I chopped it into cubes, I was accompanied by two loyal hounds and a crotchety old cat. Their roles as cat, dog and puppy abandoned as they united in their love of pork.

loyal hounds

Struck By Lightning

Lightning Strikes
We have these walkie-talkie dealios that Brent and I use to communicate with each other.  In France they call them “talkie-walkies,”  which is very French and oddly cool.  Brent had Kevin check the fence we were about to move the girls into.  There was a huge break the length of four or five posts.  We’ve seen this fence broken before from wild boar or deer, so no surprise there.  Brent went out to mend the hole (while Kevin was in digger zone).  He talkie-walked in, “I think the fence was struck by lightning.”  “I’ll show you,” he says.  I’ll show you?  I better get Zélie suited up for a pasture walk.  A minute later, Brent drives up and shows me some very black looking insulators.  Their original white outer had gone a sultry goth black.  “ah.  I see,”  says me.  Our electric fence had been struck by lightning which explains the large boomy explosion noise we heard just hours before.  Thankfully the zappy zip-zip charger was not zapping  or we would have lost that as well.

How Broody Got Her Groove Back

broody and kevin

This week on As The Peep Turns …

Broody, the youngest white Sussex, has completed what she set out to do. The chicks are old enough to fight for their very own right to party. She hung out with them to keep their spirits high, but she knew her job here was done. When the chickens were shut in two nights ago, it was us who felt surprised not to see her all snugged in with her brood. Inside, she was missing her one true love. Lucy had seen Broody hanging around Kevin that day.  Little miss Broody was strutting around all fancy getting Kevin’s attention WITHOUT her chicks!  And just like that, she was over chillin’ in CoopaCabana with Kevin and his bitches. Her little stepchicks can leave the nest now and see what life and grasshoppers have to offer.  Sadly, life offered death to two of them and one who is now named “Gimpy.”

a new beginning

broody 2

In other news, Broody Two has been quietly tucked away in one of the barns sitting on six eggs. After the twelve egg massacre that poor Broody had to endure, the chicks have not been counted before they hatch. This morning when Otto and I were tending to farm things, we heard a little “peep.” One little chick emerged from an egg. It turns out, our dear Kevin is more than just a pretty face.

peep peep

He’s Digging The Digger

the pelle
Kevin is working …. I mean visiting!  The kids are having a lot of fun showing Kevin the new stuff on the farm.  Kevin at last got to meet Kevin ( the cockerel ).  We’ll have to get a snap of them together I think.
minty dumps the dirt

Kevin emerged from a jet lagged fog and ran over to the pelle with Brent to get that baby going.  Today, he dug.  And dug.  And then fell asleep or as Minty put it “we played lego with Kevin and he slept!”  But he woke up and dug some more with the kids.  Kevin would do the diggy bits and then Otto or Minty would dump the dirt.  They thought that was pretty darn cool.  I can remember Greenlake playground having a digger toy in the sandpit.  I spent many minutes waiting in line so Otto could get a turn.  Why they installed just one digger in a giant sandpit, I’ll never know.  We have our own digger now and I think the fun is just beginning.  Let’s hope we don’t cut through any main water pipes or electricity.

kevin and the kids

What’s That Noise? Is Someone There?


I used to watch a lot of horror flicks as a teen. As you do. I’m not sure why they were appealing. No doubt peer pressure and group think were major contributors. Friday the 13th, Chucky, Freddie, Gourmet Zombie Chef From Hell. I tried to stick to the classics. But I haven’t thought about that time investment in many, many years. Though the laws of horror stick with you. When a girl goes walking by herself in the woods at night, she will be wearing barely anything, a twig will crack, an owl will hoot, a zombie will appear. If the moon is full, it will be a warewolf. We all know the drill. It’s all so contrived. Or is it?

I was trying to get to bed. Dogs were fed. Kittens were kicked out. Kids were put to bed. Other house shut down duties had been completed. Shower done. Teeth brushed. 11pm. Doh! Put away the leftovers. Down the stairs. Up the stairs. 11:30pm. UH! Minty needs attention. Tosca needs water. Down the stairs – up the stairs 12:15pm. Zélie begins to cry, but comforts herself back to sleep. Crap! Forgot to close the cellar, down the stairs – kick the kittens out again.  Up the stairs.  12:25. Check a little email. 12:50. At last. Bed. Shit! I forgot to shut the chickens in. Down the stairs and there I am. A girl, in a robe. The moon is full. There is a slight breeze. There’s no one around. A twig breaks as I walk towards the chicken coop with my dull flashlight. A duck quacks. Surely a zombie will appear imminently. Thankfully, the fuzzy zombie I felt tickling my ankle was only MilkShake. Our best mouser.

Who walks around in the dark late at night wearing nothing carrying a flashlight? A lady who forgot to shut her chickens in.

A final ascent up the stairs and bed.


Another Year, Another Big Zucchini

a very big zucchini

I did my best to grow things this year.  Our biggest crop was little Zélie.  Beyond that, I stuck crap in the ground and walked away.  Next year, I hope to do a little better.  Thankfully, vegetables have a way of finding you.  The secret to a successful summer vegetable harvest is popping over for tea at your friend’s house.  They will have a garden.  They will have too many beans or too many zucchini and cucumbers that they insist you take some home with you.  So we managed to enjoy a few fresh summer vegetables thanks to friends and neighbors.

Of the things the kids and I planted, the only vegetable to survive drought and weed were the potatoes.  We have a surplus of delicious potatoes.  Two varieties.  I’ve collected a skirt full, but will need to go back down to the veggie patch with a shovel and sweat out some more.  July brought a lot of rain.  Now, the ground is very, very hard thanks to a dry August.


The other things that worked were the ‘erbs.  I’ve had months and months of fresh basil, thyme and rosemary.  The chives hung on for a long time until little teeny, tiny black bugs ate it one morning.  The cilantro was spectacular.  I was very excited to get my Mexican and Indian cooking going until the rain washed it away.  I did manage to squeak out a few curries and some taco meat.

Small tomato plants were given to me by a friend.  I was hoping to do tomatoes and was happy to have plants left in my care.  They did very, very well.  With the stellar basil and the surplus of tomatoes, I managed to crank out some great salads and tasty tomato sauces.  If only I could locate some buffalo …  There are still many more tomatoes to come.  The chickens seem to be eying the red jewels of taste.  But believe me, eternity in the company of Beelzebub and all his hellish instruments of death will be a picnic compared to five minutes with me and this broom.

other side of jennyfer
Brent went over to the neighbor’s house to work out hay bale scheduling and came home with a large bag of green beans.  It was when I processed them this morning for the freezer that I noticed the bag they came in.  We’ll DEFINITELY have to call him on it.  Judging by the surfboard, I’m thinking he will want the handy receptacle returned.


millions of
Fruit this year has been surprising. We have so many plums, we don’t know what to do. There are at least three varieties. We found a pear tree that produced gorgeous, big amazing tasting fruit. Our special teenager guest harvested the entire tree with one washing basket. We also found a crazy peach tree that is ready to be picked now … in August. It nestled up very close to one of the cow barns and a large pile of properly aged manure. Our theory is that long ago, somebody working on the farm tossed a peach pit out the back and a well nourished peach tree was born. The kids and I need to get out there and pick the lot before the hornets take hold of the sweet goodness.

wee! hay!!!

pear tree

Oh yes! And the zucchini! We were given a really large zucchini this year. Last year, Lucy dressed it up and prepared for Zélie’s arrival. This year, I think we’ll skip the formalities and pop that butty in the oven with stuffing.

pear harvest

A Lesson From Ms Teen UK

bacon butty

When life gives you bacon and white bread, make a Bacon Butty!

I had NEVER heard of such a creation.  I seem to remember Brent’s childish, cheeky smile when he spoke of a “chip butty.”  Of course the whole time I’m thinking he said “chip buddy.”  What’s all this about a butty? or a “sarnie?” Crazy ferners, why can’t they come with subtitles. The dish is simple.

Soft white bread



<insert buddy ingredient>

Ms Teen UK buttered her bread and carefully placed the bacon.  After that, she applied the ketchup.  Evidently it’s hugely delicious, as I had to ask her to slow down so I could grab a photo.  Now if you want to make a “chip butty,”  then replace the bacon with some “chips”  (okay that’s FRIES to you and me).
bacon butty innards
… also note the paint on her fingers.  This girl worked hard at the farm!

Just Smurfy


We have a slave … blah! I mean teenager visiting us. She’s been helping out tremendously. The kids think she’s pretty swell. Lucy has aged at least six years to keep up. Last night the kids kicked us out of the kitchen and made dinner. I sat sipping wine reading the Economist. Zélie set off for bed just in time for me to have a moment without any human or animal seeking my attention. Brent was supposed to relax as well.  He, however, was running around with the manic mechanic oiling, lubing whatever you do with tractors.  Seeing as France closes for August, if a mechanic shows up at your door, you really must drop everything and put him to work.  He did make it in time for dinner which was delicious.

she cooks too! (notice, still no dishwasher!)

Otto's tower

Otto made a large stack of bread for his contribution.

papa in the cold

I’ve been working on some new ice cream to help with our hot days. The violette ice cream is coming along nicely. A few tweaks and I may be on to something. Ms. Teen UK doesn’t like floral ice cream. Brent asked her to give me an ice cream flavor. Make it challenging. “Chocolate,” she says. After a little sass, she came up with Smurf ice cream. I’ve never heard of this stuff. After a few minutes on a savvy search engine, all signs point to Blue Moon ice cream. From what I can tell, you make vanilla ice cream, add blue and add some secret smurfy flavor (something in the fruit family). Then you top it with gummy smurfs or embed them just like Han Solo in carbonite. The result was smurfy blue surprise. Actually it came out more green than blue. And when you make ice cream you MUST make meringues. Smurf meringues! They go in the oven all blue and come out like sad little boogers, but taste just smurfy.

frozen smurfs