Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Marshmallow vs. marsh mallow

I know you have all been wondering about why marshmallows (pronounced marshmellows by everyone I know) happen to be called marshmallows, the same name as a lovely weed. This came up as a discussion in work when someone brought in a jar of an artisanal marshmallow fluff.

(No, that’s not the artisanal one in the pic, that is the fluff I remember as a kid. Who even knew you could buy it in a 5-lb pot?)

I thought for sure, if this other one was so special and artisanal that it would have some form of mallow in it, but that was not the case. So I did a little research for you, knowing that you would want me to.

Word Origin and History for marshmallow
Old English mersc mealwe “kind of mallow plant (Althea officinalis) which grows near salt marshes;” from marsh + mallow. The confection (so called from 1877) originally was made from paste from the roots of this plant.The Greek word for the plant, althaea, is from althein “to heal.”
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

A Noble History
Yes, the marshmallow has roots in ancient Egypt, dating back to about 2000 BC, when the sap from the root of the marsh mallow plant [althaea officinalis] was mixed with honey to create a special confection available only to the Pharaohs and assorted Gods who needed dessert.

If you weren’t a Pharaoh, you had to wait until the mid-19th century, when French candy makers combined the sap with egg whites and sugar, whipping all by hand into a tasty treat.

So the word comes from the mallow plant roots having been used in the “confection” back in 2,000 BC (if you believe Mitch) but it seems that everyone has forgotten about that, even the fancy schmancy artisanal marshmallow makers. (Mitch didn’t forget, but I don’t think he uses any mallow roots either.)

And then I found that the pretty mallow flowers that grow all around our property are a common mallow, not even the true marsh mallow. (see the Wikipedia definition in the post below this one).

And I thought I was being so smart because I knew what a marsh mallow was...I was just so wrong!

Even so, here are 3 mallows from my backyard garden. The stripy one at the top is actually “Zebrina”, a version of hollyhock. The white and pink ones are everywhere in our weedy yard, but I like them enough to let them come up in my garden.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Wikipedia's marsh mallow

Althaea officinalis
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Althaea officinalis
Althaea officinalis - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-008.jpg
Scientific classification
Species:A. officinalis
Binomial name
Althaea officinalis
Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)
Althaea officinalis (marsh-mallow,[1] marsh mallow, or common marshmallow) is a perennial species indigenous to EuropeWestern Asia, and North Africa, which is used as a medicinal plant and ornamental plant. A confection made from the root since ancient Egyptian time evolved into today's marshmallow treat.[2]
The common mallow is frequently called "marsh mallow" by country people, but the true marsh mallow is distinguished from all the other mallows growing in Great Britain by the numerous divisions of the outer calyx (six to nine cleft), by the hoary down which thickly clothes the stems and foliage, and by the numerous panicles of blush-coloured flowers, paler than the common mallow. The roots are perennial, thick, long and tapering, very tough and pliant, whitish yellow outside, white and fibrous within.
The entire plant, particularly the root, abounds with a mild mucilage, which is emollient to a much greater degree than the common mallow.[citation needed] The generic name, Althaea, is derived from the Greek "ἄλθειν" (to cure), from its healing properties. The name of the family, Malvaceae, is derived from the Latin malva, a generic name for the mallows and the source of the English common name "mallow".
Most of the mallows have been used as food, and are mentioned by early classic writers with this connection. Mallow was an edible vegetable among the Romans; a dish of marsh mallow was one of their delicacies.Prosper Alpinus stated in 1592 that a plant of the mallow kind was eaten by the Egyptians. Many of the poorer inhabitants of Syria subsisted for weeks on herbs, of which marsh mallow is one of the most common. When boiled first and fried with onions and butter, the roots are said to form a palatable dish [[4]] , and in times of scarcity consequent upon the failure of the crops, this plant, which grows there in great abundance, is collected heavily as a foodstuff.

Monday, August 22, 2016

New red ladies join the flock

14 of the older ones coming for food, including Big Roo near the front, and Little Roo to the right of the maple tree
Our new total is 23 chickens, but that may not last long since one of the 6 new red ones refuses to be closed up at night. We just picked them up Saturday afternoon—6 new "red sex link" hens already laying eggs. The difficulty with buying adult chickens though, is that they don't know where they live.
2 of the new red girls

The plan was to close them up in the fenced area outside the coop for the first 2 nights. They were in there for maybe an hour and 2 of them escaped. When I went back to investigate and try to reunite them with their sisters, there was only 1 left in the fence. I could see them flying/jumping over and running off.

Big Roo and a friend
We managed to close up 5 out of 6 the first 2 nights. Because I can't tell them apart, I am not even sure it was the same one who spent the night outside up in a tree. One found a home in the goat shed on top of the hay bales, and a second one decided that her real home was in the coop and spent both nights on top of the crate in there with both roosters to protect her. She must be the smart one, or the pretty one going after the boys...or both.

We are hoping they resolve their coming-home issues soon. Tomorrow is a late night for me at work and I won't be able to help The Husband with chicken wrangling. At least the lone straggler seems to understand how to stay safe out there in the cold, cruel world full of critters who would love a nice chicken dinner, like Cyrus for instance.

3 new girls in the fenced area with the old dog house
Monday night update: At about 6:30 pm, I saw 3 red girls back here by the house. Two were in the apple tree, 1 on the hood of the CRV. The Husband escorted the one on the car back to the coop, but didn't lock her up. When I went to close up the coop around 8 pm, only the one pretty girl was up on the crate with the boys and the other cool girls. I am pretty sure she wasn't the one from the car. 2 were in the dog house, meaning they were where we trained them to go. I had to come back and pick the 2 out of the apple tree, for a total of 5 locked up for the night. Magically, Hub went out later and found the car girl back on the car hood, so for the first time, all 6 are safe in the coop.

Of course this could all fall apart tomorrow night when I work late... or it might just all come together, right now...

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Power fail

We had some bad weather on Saturday—the usual wind and rain of a summer storm—but there were a few minutes of strong wind and teeming rain that were just enough to knock out power all over the county. The power went out about 6 pm on Saturday and didn't come back until 10 pm on Sunday. We have Otsego Electric Co-op, but NYSEG people were out as well.

Our water comes from a well, so that means no water either. No power to run the pump. Still debating whether we should cave and buy that generator we were supposed to put in when we built the house. Money was short so that didn't happen.

Lucky me was home alone with all the critters. The Husband was visiting family in Salamanca, NY. (Happy 94th Birthday, Uncle Bud!) I had a rough time entertaining myself, even during the day when it was light enough. A nice vacation from all of the normal chores perhaps—washing dishes, vacuuming, doing laundry—but not being able to wash my hands after feeding pigs and chickens, not taking a shower, that part was not so much fun.

My biggest concern was for the food in the 2 refrigerators and especially all of the pork in the big freezer. I was able to use some frozen bags of whey to keep the fridge food cold, and not opening the big chest freezer was good enough to keep everything frozen for the 28 hours we were out. I'll have to remember that for next time. I am sure there will be a next time, although this is the first bad outage in 6 years, 11 if you count our time in the trailer.

So no pics from the blackout, but instead a nice portrait of the WoodMan doing his favorite thing—sitting in the backyard sunning himself. To me it looks like he's looking for all of his friends to show up. Always my handsome poser.

Those pots on the table are cilantro and basil, the big one on the chair is rosemary, and the one you can't see behind the table is thyme. They didn't mind the storm at all, but my little baby redbud tree inside the fence did lose a few branches...

Saturday, August 6, 2016

New kids in town

Joseph's Saanen girls, not named yet

The stud man, David Bowie
John and Mary loving the mud on a hot day

Mary being silly

Our Greek friend Joseph decided that he wanted 2 young female goats to hook up with the master stud, David Bowie. Not exactly sure how long they are going to stay, and the others are not quite their best friends yet, but they are fitting in just fine. They came (by way of someone else) from the same woman who sold us our first goats, the Saanens Lucille, Jack and Helen.

He bought them and will pay us for keeping them. He is a bit difficult to understand—I thought we were getting 2 males that he wanted for meat—but I think he is paying us in hay and whatever else we want in cash. Since he does not live here year-round, I am not sure what happens in the spring when they have kids. Are we still keeping them?

Either way, the goat herd just keeps expanding.

We don't have that problem with pigs. They stay with us just long enough.

Right now they are still in the adorable stage—the stage where we could take pictures every day and each one would be more adorable than the next. Now that the visiting photographer is gone, Tim has taken up the job. He took all of these photos.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Bowie and Rosie are the stars of this show

Sarah the photographer is back in NJ, but I must share the rest of her photos from Lester's Flat. David Bowie is prominently featured in all 3, with Miss Rosie taking the spotlight in the first one.

Thank you Sarah for your view of our world.

Sarah and the other girls were weekend visitors, but B&E are here all week. We took them to the Otsego County Fair today. We started with a not-so-healthy lunch (sausage, chicken spiedies, french fries, a slushie and ice cream). We heard a few not-too-musical karaoke singers (one of them was actually very good) and we had a great time looking at all the farm animals and tractors and such...

Evie got a great photo of a sleeping kangaroo. I know, not your typical farm animal...neither was the camel, the yak, the emus, the lemurs.

Where do they all go when the fair is over?

Several of the farm animals go to the butcher (sorry, not making that up) and the others go home with their owners, but where do the camels and the yak sleep at night? Next week, when the fair is over, where is the sleeping kangaroo?

I will have to send my favorite reporter from the Freeman's Journal out to follow up on that one. I'll get back to you.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Visiting photographer at the Flat

John, up close and personal

Lucille, Jack, Rico and Rosie in the front, kids in back
Unfortunate crappy weather for the 2 days that Sarah, her friend Casey, her daughter Claire and friend Brooke were here at Lester's Flat for a visit. Sarah still managed to take some great photos of our pigs and goats, brave Casey drinking the milk after milking Lucille, and the 2 young ladies at the Fly Creek Cider Mill (Claire's favorite place up here).

The Husband and I have many fond memories of Claire and Ella (her younger sister) coming up to visit, and even staying with us for a week or so in their younger days. Older and wiser for sure, but Claire at least is still recognizable as one of those silly children. I hope that she approves of this photo that I took of the 2 of them back in 2011. She was not especially fond of the videos I showed her from way back then.
Sarah's friend Casey wanted to milk the goats
AND drink the milk

Brooke and Claire at the Cider Mill

Ella and Claire at Lester's Flat