Monday, February 15, 2016

Trapped. Like a Rat.

Another weekend has come and gone and the excitement that you've rightfully come to expect here at Mudpuddle continues.

Our typical weekends begin with a trip to the farm on Friday evening, but because I had a work commitment on Saturday morning, we didn't make the farm trip until Saturday afternoon.

Aggieland Saturday, an annual event, allows prospective students and their families to visit the A&M campus. The university offers all manner of tours and events, demonstrations and activities, and the Corps is the backbone of the entire campus-wide program each year.

Representing Academics, I had the chance to meet lots of prospective students and their families. Most of the visiting students are current seniors or juniors in HS, and it was fun finding out from some of them that they had received their official acceptance to A&M via email just that very morning!

Whoop and Gig-em!

After Aggieland Saturday, JT and I headed to the farm.

We arrived to find everything looking pretty normal except for the fact that we didn't spot Donkey hanging out with the cows. 

Then we saw this:

Yes. Donkey had somehow pulled off a tricky self-capture and deftly caught himself in the hog trap.


Other than a pretty worn trail around the inside of the pen where he had obviously been pacing, and a very large quantity of well, "evidence" on the ground, we have no idea how long he had been in there.

We never actually set the trap unless we are there, and when we're not, we securely wire the door of the trap open to avoid just such a non-hog capture (typically it would be some of the small calves tempted by their insatiable curiosity).

But somehow Donkey managed to get in the pen (doing the forward limbo evidently) and then amazingly close the hinged saloon-type doors behind him. The odd thing is they were wired open with a length of twisted baling wire.

Wire that takes a human (JT in this case) about a minute or so to untwist.

Donkey is smart. But not that smart.

Clearly he had help.

An accomplice if you will.

There are so many possibilities.

Have a great Monday everyone!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Meet All The Players

Happy Friday Everyone!

Almost every Friday means a trip to the farm for us, and I thought I'd introduce you (some of you for the second time) to a few of the characters that are always eagerly awaiting our arrival.

And food.

First up: Jarvis. The Big Daddy of the farm. The Main Man. 
Jarvis thinks he's the ultimate Ladies Man and that's fine because what Jarvis doesn't realize is that he's really just big and not too smart. And slow.
The important thing is that Jarvis takes his job seriously. Very Seriously y'all. And he seems to be excellent at it. And that's pretty much all I'm gonna say about that.

Ah, Mean Cow. I'm pretty sure she thinks she's JT's lap dog. She LOVES him. Just can't get enough of him and those feed sacks. She's also Mean which is a problem.

As a result of her mottled coloring (and perhaps as a manifestation of her temper) Mean Cow has a history of producing some of the funkiest looking calves around. The latest one is no exception. We're thinking of calling it Detritus.

Why do Mean Cow's horns look so weird you ask? Well, Mean Cow's daddy was a (now departed) longhorn bull and something went wacky genetically because she got the super long horns but the problem was they grew down instead of up and out. They actually begin to grow into the sides of her face. I know. Ouch. To remedy this, my brother-in-law, JT, and a couple of other cowboys went to the trouble of cutting them off. Let's just say she wasn't too fond of the whole process and practically killed herself along with most of the men involved. So no one was too terribly concerned that her horns turned out unfashionably lopsided. 
I think it fits her.

One of two sister White Cows on the farm, this is the lady in charge. She and her sister pretty much determine how things go down around here. She's smart, quick and sure of herself.
Do not get between her horns and and a bale of hay.

Cripple(d) cow is a dear. She's a HUGE girl and I suppose all that bulk has finally worn out her joints. At certain times of the year she has a lot of trouble with her front legs and becomes really slow. 
She produces absolutely beautiful and sturdy calves.

Oh Poor Cow! You're my favorite! 

Poor Cow is getting up in years. 

His favorite, my Daddy gave her the name because every winter she got very poor and skinny. He would often pen her up in a field by herself and hand feed her cubes almost everyday. She became smitten with attention and quite honestly, spoiled. 

Poor Cow is by far the smartest, most intuitive, and most tuned-in cow on the place. I think of my Daddy every time I see her and when we finally lose her I'll be heartbroken.

Also quite old, the Red Sister Cow's sister died just a few months ago. So sad. We probably need to give her a new name, but I'm afraid she may not be around much longer and I'm trying not to get too attached.

The most famous (and infamous) farm resident, Donkey is both a loner and a thinker. Donkey is always just on the fringe of the cattle herd, but I'm pretty sure he holds some kind of honorary mayoral position. Or at least he assumes he does. 

Donkey loves rolling in the dirt, biting the cow's heads, and sun. He hates cold, rainy weather and icicles on his ears.

One thing is for sure: Donkey needs a girlfriend.

Dumb Cow. 

How do I begin? I'm sorry if her name offends anyone, clearly it's on the verge of being politically incorrect. 
But honestly, we actually wonder if she has a brain. Bless her.

Dumb cow just kind of stands and stares. It's her default status. She's most often away from the herd, but if she's with them she's facing a different direction. If the entire herd is excited and moving toward a certain pasture in anticipation of feeding, Dumb Cow might be right in the thick of things at the beginning but by the time they reach the feeding area DC has made a wrong turn and fenced herself up in the pasture just to the north or south of the feed zone.

In testament though, to the fact that EVERYONE has a gift, Dumb Cow is by far the finest mother on the farm. I can't describe how carefully and tenderly she cares for her calves. And it doesn't go unnoticed! The other cows frequently leave their calves under DC's care for the day. I call it the kindergarten.

DC is my spirit animal.

Hope you've enjoyed meeting just a few of our favorites! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler

The King Cake is a traditional treat served throughout the Mardi Gras season. Although you'll find many versions, (depending upon geographic area) most are yeast type cakes braided and formed into a ring. They may or may not contain a filling of some sort, but almost all are topped with a sweet icing and decorated with colored sugar in the very traditional purple, green and gold colors of the season.

The gaudier the better.

The cake is named for the biblical Three Kings and commemorates the visit of the Magi to the Christ child. Many versions of the cake contain a small plastic Christ child figurine or other bauble (such as a dried bean) and the person who gets the piece containing it is either given a designation of "King" or "Queen" of the day or the obligation to provide the next King Cake.

It just stresses me to no end that someone might bite into the Christ child (spare me) , though, so I just stick with a bean.

I decided to explore making my own King Cake because, honestly, I've had some really bad ones over the years. Not any disappointing ones from true Acadian bakeries mind you, but many other bakeries, to meet demand, just kind of throw together something that, while certainly gaudy enough, is often tough, flat, and just plain old bland.

This one, mais cher, is anything but blah...

All of the ingredients are probably in your pantry and trust me,this cake is something you need in your life.

King Cake

4 ¾ c. flour (divided)
¼ c. sugar (plus additional for topping)
1 ½ tsp. salt
2 pkg. dry yeast
¾ c. milk
½ c. water
1 ½ sticks butter
2 eggs

Powdered sugar, milk and vanilla for glaze
Green, gold, and purple sanding sugars

1. In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 c. flour, 1/4 c. sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, and 2 packages yeast.
2. Heat 3/4 c. milk, 1/2 c. water and 1 1/2 sticks butter until very warm, about 120 to 130 degrees
3. Add to dry ingredients and beat for 2 minutes at medium speed with an electric mixer.
4. Add eggs and 1/2 c. flour. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Stir in remaining flour (2 3/4 c.) to make a stiff batter.
5. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. (Or if you forget about it, 4 hours like me...)

6. Remove dough from fridge and punch down.
7.  Move dough to a lightly floured surface and divide into 3 equal portions for one large King Cake, or into 6 portions for two smaller ones. Each small cake feeds about 10 -12!

8. Roll each portion out flat (if making one cake each portion will roll out to about 28x4 inches, and for two small cakes about 12x4).
Melt one stick of butter in microwave.

Have 1 cup sugar ready (and about 1 T. cinnamon). I decided not to use cinnamon this time...

9. Beginning at long end, roll each up tightly as for a jellyroll.
Brush each portion with melted butter, sprinkle evenly with sugar, and cinnamon (if you're using it)

10. Pinch the seams to form long ropes. 

Braid, then form into an oval (or circle) Pinch the ends together to seal. Place on a greased baking sheet.

I brushed on the remaining butter, sprinkled on the rest of the sugar, cover and let rise for another hour (it was closer to 2 because I forgot to preheat the oven until the last minute...)

Bake at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes until lightly golden. Let cool on wire racks and then glaze with 2 cups powdered sugar mixed with 2-3 T. milk, 1/8 tsp vanilla, and a pinch of salt...

Then sprinkle with purple, green and gold sanding sugars and make it as gaudy as possible!