Aglianico Harvest 2012

Aglianico is an Italian red variety which is one of the later grapes to ripen. In fact, except for one other grape grower here on the High Plains of West Texas, we are the last to harvest. Roussanne and Montepulciano were harvested several weeks ago and we have prayed and eagerly waited to get the Aglianico out of the field!

With 7.4 acres of Aglianico and expecting about 70 tons, we harvested two reefers (refrigerated 18 wheelers) Monday night and another two on Tuesday night.

On Monday night we began Aglianico harvest around 10:00pm. By the time harvest was completed, the harvester washed and showers taken, it was 6:00am! Showers are very important during harvest – you can not imagine how sticky a person can become with all that grape juice! Not to mislead anyone, I went to bed around 4:30am – still a long night   ;)

When the first reefer arrived Monday night, it was loaded with 60 bins provided by the winery to fill with Aglianico grapes. These were unloaded, each trailers filled with 8 bins and the remainder set to the side for later use.

Unlike the Montepulciano harvest when we used two trailers to haul the bins, with such heavy tonnage of Algianico, we had three trailers each holding 8 bins going to and from the vineyard.

Once the Pellenc 4560 grape harvester unloaded its onboard bins filling the winery bins with Aglianico, the trailers were brought from the vineyard and the bins loaded into the reefer. The process was continued until all bins were filled and both trucks loaded.

Since we were getting more leaves than desired in the bins, as you can see in the above picture, Tuesday, before harvest, the Pellenc was tweaked to pick much cleaner fruit. That night, we began harvesting at 9:00pm and it seemed that everything went much faster – we were finished the actual harvest by 3:00am. I stayed awake for the whole thing!

I can not express my joy at having all the Aglianico grapes off the vines and at the winery! The Aglianico is all contracted with Duchman Family Winery and is in the very capable hands of their winemaker, Dave Reily.

Butternut Squash – Roasting

If it is one thing that our garden produces in abundance, it is butternut squash. It is a good thing we all like it! Not only is it one of the vegetables encouraged in the GAPS introduction diet, it is just plain good.

Butternut squash is a winter squash like pumpkin. Growing on a vine, it has a sweet and nutty flavor with yellow skin and orange pulp. When ripe, the butternutsquash skin turns golden and the pulp becomes a richer orange color, getting sweeter as it ripens.

Butternut squash is so versatile – roast, bake, boil or puree it. You can use it in casseroles, muffins, breads and soups. It is a great source of vitamins A, C and E, magnesium and potassium. If you have not tried this vegetable, I hope I have convinced you to give it a try!

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Homemade Jello

Being on the GAPS diet I especially like the texture and taste of this homemade jello version, as well as, knowing that it is good for me!

I don’t know about you, but for me, Jello is a comfort food.

Jello was what my mother fixed when I was recovering from a stomach bug.

Jello just tastes good.

Remember the commercial, “watch it wiggle, see it jiggle”?

What child doesn’t like Jello?

The only problem is the sugar and unnecessary ingredients in the popular boxed dessert. Not only is homemade jello easy to make, it is also economical and much more healthy! The secret was finding from my affiliate partner, unflavored gelatin from pastured animals!

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Cholesterol – The Unsung Antioxidant

With so much controversy surrounding cholesterol, it is easy to assume that cholesterol is bad for you. In reality, cholesterol is a hero – the unsung antioxidant. Cholesterol serves an important role in the health of our body. Not only do we consume cholesterol but, our body produces it! That’s right – cholesterol is produced by most human cells and the liver. The body actually produces about three times as much cholesterol as we take in through diet!

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Brie is Born!

Sunday is the day for our cows to calve! If you remember, Buttercup had LBC on Sunday while we were at church. Yesterday, after returning home from church, Emme, who was due last week, was standing and acting differently.

Normally, if she even thinks we are going to give her a treat, she comes bounding like a 700lb puppy! It can be quite scary when she is running straight at you – you wonder if she will put the brakes on in time! But, not yesterday. She was hiding well away from the house behind brush in the pasture.

Needless to say, every 30 minutes or so, someone went to check for a calf. Finally, on one look-see, I saw two little hooves coming out! Of course, everyone was called for the joyful event. Once everyone was quietly watching, everything stopped!

Putting myself in Emme’s hooves, I probably would have been too nervous to deliver with fourteen people watching – no matter how quiet they were!

Our concern was that this being her first calf, and she, being the petite little thing that she is – at least beside Buttercup who is 3/4 Jersey and 1/4 Holstein – would not be able to deliver. So, I called the vet who advised palpating to make sure the head was between the showing hooves. If the head was between the hooves, the calf could then be “pulled” during a contraction to help it’s entrance into the world. I am sorry to say, with all the excitement, I had no time to take pictures.

But, here are some pictures right after birth. As you can see, Brie is solid black with a spot of white on her head. Emme being a natural mother, began licking and cleaning Brie immediately.

Since mommy and baby were doing fine, we left them alone until milking time which is 6pm. When we returned, it was obvious that Brie had learned quickly how to nurse.

After milking Buttercup, it was Emme’s turn. Still out in the pasture with Brie, she had to be coaxed to the milking parlor. Brie was carried ahead of her and she willingly followed – just like on “All Creatures Great and Small”!

Buttercup, who by the way seems a bit jealous and pouty, was not going to be left out and brings up the rear of the parade.

Emme was a trooper. Despite having a very swollen bag, she never kicked! This may not seem like a big deal, but if you have ever milked a cow, you know how close you must get to those deadly back hooves! Despite any discomfort, I think she rather enjoyed the attention – soft talking, brushing, petting and grain!

While Emme was being milked, Brie stayed by her head and the barrel which holds the grain for the cow being milked. She was just content to be by mommy!

 What an exciting day! I just love having calves – well not me personally, but our cows having calves!

Butter – Make Your Own!


butter and bread

Have you ever tasted real butter? I mean real, FRESH butter?

There is nothing like the taste and feel of it on your tongue as it coats your mouth. Once you taste it, with all its creaminess, you have a greater appreciation for the expression, “buttery soft”.

Well, not only does real butter taste good, but it is also good for you! I know, you are thinking about all the fat in real butter that we should be avoiding. While this may be a “politically correct” view, the fact is, animal fats are good for you. Not only do they provide energy but they also act as carriers for the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.

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Hobby Winemakers

After last week’s Montepulciano harvest, we gleaned the vines and have ended up with enough grapes to make 80-90 gallons of wine! Lest you worry that we have a problem, we will use much of it as gifts and this is still well below the legal limits. Someday, we would like to begin a winery adjacent to the vineyard, so this is good practice for the really big batches to come!  [Continue Reading]

Go Grain Free – Get Health!


In the following, I have linked to products from my affiliate partners that I personally use and recommend.

You may get the impression that I think GAPS is the miracle, cure-all for everyone. And, you would be right – almost! I have had such dramatic results and such a complete turn-around in my health, that it must be for everyone – right? After all, we all think that what we are doing must be the right thing or we would not be doing it!   ;)   [Continue Reading]

Montepulciano Grape Harvest 2012

Amazingly, it is the middle of September and we are almost finished with harvest – both the Roussane and Montepulciano grapes are finished! Our second oldest son was married in El Paso on Saturday, so after a joyous weekend, we returned to prepare for the harvest of 5 acres of Montepulciano. We were very thankful to have out of state guests who had come for the wedding – including 2 of John’s brothers, a sister and a sister-in-law. Expecting about 40 tons and ending up with 47 tons of Montepulciano, their help was invaluable![Continue Reading]

Garlicky Green Beans

In the following, I have linked to products from my affiliate partners that I personally use and recommend.

I love green beans fresh from the garden. In fact, I like to eat them raw, right after picking and so do my children! Small, tender and crunchy is the way we like them. Besides, there is just a sense of satisfaction gained from growing your own food. You know the soil and what was put into it as fertilizer. You know if the garden has been sprayed with pesticides or bugs just squished – not my favorite job but for squash bugs it is the way to go! You know if herbicides were sprayed or the weeds hoed.   ;)[Continue Reading]