maple breakfast sausage, wild turkey sausage, duck egg

Maple Breakfast Sausage Recipe

Maple Breakfast Sausage – Honest Kitchen

Honest Kitchen: Honest, whole food cooked from scratch. Simple, delicious and sometimes from the wild side. Robin and Erin often prepare wild game, mushrooms, berries and other foods they harvest, grow or buy locally. Come cook with all of us. Copy this paragraph (please leave the links) into your blog and leave your link in comments each Wednesday so everyone can visit.

Maple breakfast sausage is my favorite sausage for meals that don’t need a “supper” sausage. I do love garlic, cheese, hot and Italian sausages, and most of the time one of them will be my all-time favorite, but maple sausage…oh the flavor! Maple syrup (you knew this was coming, didn’t you?), not pancake syrup, whether liquid or powdered, adds a flavor that can’t be beat.  maple breakfast sausage,  

Maple Breakfast Sausage Recipe
 
Prep time
Total time
 
You can use any meat you'd like. I used venison from my 2014 buck. It was equally as good, but different, when I made this with meat from our pigs.
Author:
Recipe type: Meat
Cuisine: Breakfast
Ingredients
  • 7 pounds venison, ground for sausage
  • 2 T Italian seasoning
  • 2 T Kosher salt
  • 2 T black pepper
  • 2 T garlic powder
  • 3 T sage
  • 3 T cardamom
  • 1 C maple syrup OR maple sugar to taste (I start with ¼ cup)
Instructions
  1. Cook a small sausage patty and taste. Add seasonings as needed. I let my sausage sit in the fridge overnight and try it again in the morning to be sure of the flavor. Better to have to add more seasoning later than overdo it in the beginning. You can add but you can take it back out. venison

 maple breakfast sausage,   maple breakfast sausage,   maple breakfast sausage,  

Writing Retreat – Pyramid Life Center

Writing Retreat – Pyramid Life Center

I spent last week at a writing retreat at Pyramid Life Center in Paradox, New York. The Adirondacks are the perfect place for me, an outdoors writer, to retreat, relax, unwind and write. Tammy and Lindsay went with me this year, and they made it more special.

It’s nice to spend real time with writers, especially when I see them only once a year. I attended a workshop on Revision with Lalita Noronha, and learned a lot. It was a workshop I planned to attend (didn’t know it would be offered) but it’s exactly what I needed. We’re offered two workshops each morning, but I chose only one so that I could concentrate on what I was doing. Some instructors allow drop-ins. If you want to drop in to see what’s happening, you’re welcome. Others prefer to stay with a core group because their workshops follow a set schedule in order to cover all of the information.

writing retreatI spent a lot of time on this porch. Pyramid Lake is about 200 feet from the cabin. Loons call, osprey and great blue herons spend time fishing, small birds move through the trees in search of insects, and friends spend time together. We shared the cabin with Cynthia and Diane, friends I met last year, and three women we met this year and hope to see again at the writing retreat next year.

What might you get out of a writing retreat?

  • Instruction in the form of workshops
  • Writing time
  • Down time
  • Face time with other writers
  • You might meet future beta readers
  • Feedback
  • Friends that will last a lifetime
  • Ideas
  • Encouragement
  • Honesty. If your writing needs work another writer who values quality will be honest with you.

I will always have Pyramid Life Center’s Women’s Writing Retreat on my calendar. It’s by far my favorite writing retreat.

I’m Home. And, you should subscribe to my newsletter.

I’m home. And, you should subscribe to my newsletter.

I’m home. And, you should subscribe to my newsletter. Really, you should. You can read last month’s newsletter to see what you’re in for. Here’s what you WON’T get in the newsletter this month:

  • A list of the blogs I wrote this month. Yes, I might link to one if it’s something I hope nobody missed.
  • An invoice. It’s free. There aren’t many things in life that give you more than you pay for so you’re already ahead.
  • Spam. I don’t share your email address with anyone. Ever.
advertising, partnership, unplugged, Robin Follette, subscribe to my newsletter

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The July newsletter will be out this week. I’ll tell you:

  • Where I went last week while I was unplugged, and why I’m excited now.
  • What happened when the dam in Grand Lake Stream was opened.
  • A sad story with an okay ending (as in ouch, but I’m okay with it now).
  • News about a local program this winter.
  • I did something cool with kids two weeks ago.
  • A shameless plea. SHAMELESS, I tell you. I’m not proud but I’m going to do it anyway.

You should subscribe to my newsletter. I had to say that again in case you didn’t see it the first two times.

 

Common Yellow Throat

Common Yellow Throat

I’m still unplugged but I’ll be back tomorrow. This is a common yellow throat from 2012.

common yellow throat

This common yellow throat spends several hours in the early evening signing from a branch in our bonfire pile. We won’t be having a fire until I’m sure there isn’t a nest hiding away.

common yellow throat bird

common yellow throat, yellow throat

A common yellow throat with a meal in its beak.

Raking Blueberries

Raking Blueberries

We live in Washington county, Maine. This county provides 95% of the world’s supply of wild blueberries. They’re low bush, not the high bush stand-up-straight-and-pick kind of berries many people think of. Raking blueberries is hard work. This article was previously published but it’s worth a reprint while I’m unplugged. See you next week!

blueberry mechanical harvest, raking blueberries

The crop can be brought in even in the dark with mechanical harvesters. A lot has changed since I wrote this 10 years ago.

It’s blueberry season. Each year rakers come to the blueberry barrens in Washington county, Maine to bring in the year’s harvest. Washington county provides 95% of the world’s wild blueberries. They grow on low bushes. A rake looks like a rectangular box with long tines. You rake berries buy scooping the rake under the berries, tilting the rake back to keep from spilling its contents, and pulling up. Once you get the hang of it you can make a couple of swipes at an area and clean the bushes off quickly. raking blueberries

This morning my 12 year old daughter Taylor decided she wanted to try raking blueberries with her friends. You should be at the field when it opens at 6 a.m. to get started before the heat of the day. It was 6:45 a.m. when she asked to go. Ok. Not a problem. I’m flexible and could change my plans for early morning (which involved a walk through the garden when it was foggy and cool, drinking another cup of coffee) long enough to take her to the field and get her signed up. Or so I thought. I was going to leave T with her best friend’s dad so that I could come home to do chores and work in the garden. Best friend and her dad weren’t there. “No kids under 13 on the field without direct supervision.” Ok. Not a problem. I could put off my work, stay here and we’ll rake til noon. I took a look around. There were kids under 13 and not another parent in sight. I wanted to point that out but Taylor was interested in raking blueberries, not who knows who so you can drop your kid off and leave.

It took us an hour to rake one 10′ x 100′ row. The berries were good but the barren is in poor shape. It hasn’t been burned to kill back weeds in several years. We raked a lot of grass and weeds that had to be cleaned out of the rakes every three or four feet. Between us we made almost $3.50. We were paid .14¢ a pound for the berries. When we went to the weigh station the owner dumped our berries and told us we were good rakers with nice clean buckets. Buckets, by the way, are five gallon buckets. A good sized wild blueberry is the size of a pea. There are a lot of berries in that bucket. That was enough was enough for us. If we’re going to work that hard we’ll do it here on the farm by picking green beans for Senior FarmShare tomorrow. It pays a lot better!

I understand now why Kristin didn’t like raking blueberries. You work bent over at all times by taking a step, making a swipe with the rake, making another swipe, taking a step. Repeat. Clean out weeds, leaves and grass, dump berries into a five gallon bucket. Start again. Add in 90°-95° and 90% humidity and glaring sun to the work. This is not the job for me. I’m glad we’ve all tried it now. Raking blueberries is almost a rite of passage out here.

When we were leaving T’s friends asked why she was going so soon. She pointed to a five gallon bucket and said, “That’s worth almost $40 to me at farmers market. I’m not doing it for $3.00.” I’m sure the kids didn’t understand but T will explain it to them when she sees them Friday. raking blueberries

This is a lesson in the importance of buying locally from farmers. She’s heard me say it for years. Now she has first hand experience and understands. She raked blueberries for herself for 20 minutes Sunday afternoon. She brought them home, blew the leaves out of them with a small fan, and boxed them up in quarts. She had three quarts that she sold yesterday at farmers market for $4 each. She made $1.54 an hour today by raking for a grower who will turn around and sell them to a processing plant. She made $11.75 an hour after expenses (she used a rake we already had) by selling her berries to the end customer. When she raked for someone else it paid .14¢ a pound. When she raked for herself she made $1.96 a pound. In the end, the customer is getting the same product for the same price and it’s fresh, not frozen. This is something to keep in mind when you drive by a farmstand or farmers market. Farmers need your dollars far more than the grocery stores do. They work hard in the hot sun, or cold rain, and deserve a decent wage.

raking blueberries, raking blueberries

Hunting and New Readers

I’m unplugged this week. I’m taking a break from electronics to do some concentrated writing and a lot of relaxing. It’s not a vacation, I’m working, but I’m working in a different way. I’m grateful for the tremendous amount of new readers I have now. Thank you! And now, I have to fill you in on a part of me you might only vaguely know exists. There hasn’t been a need to talk about it a lot lately. Please, please stick with me long enough to read this to the end.

Hunting and New Readers

Dear New Readers,

I am a huntress. I hunt to put food on our table. I’m not new at hunting but I am new at being a successful hunter. I write openly and honestly about what I do and why I hunt. I choose to not support the way animals are treated on factory farms. This is a decision I make only for myself. Steve makes his own decisions and he does eat more store bought meat than I do. If I’m invited into someone’s home for a meal I graciously and gratefully eat what is served and offer a sincere thank you.

Tips for cooking bear meat.

When juice appears, turn the chop again.

The work of bear hunting season starts about a week after I come back online. I will be writing about it. I do hope you’ll stick with me through those posts, learn from my words, and ask questions when you have them. I am sincerely happy to answer your questions. I love good conversation. I’m not out to change your mind, only to share information.

In 2013 and 2014 I shot a wild turkey. I harvested my first black bear and a whitetail deer in 2014 Everything I hunt is used to feed my family and friends. I don’t believe in waste. I don’t “trophy hunt,” though I have no problem at all with trophy hunting as long as the animal is used and nothing is wasted. If you put two deer side by side, equal in body size, but give one spikes and the other big antlers, I’m taking the big antlers and they’ll be mounted as 3D art, a reminder of what I’ve accomplished.

Here’s my black bear story. It’s one heck of a story. And my eight point whitetail deer, another great story though it won’t have you on the edge of your seat like the bear will.

See you when I plug in next week!

Scythe Supply

Scythe Supply

A reprint from 2007. Yes, this blog is that old. This is another article worth repeating while I’m off grid.

I’m deleting a lot from the beginning. A lot of what I used to write about doesn’t apply to what I do now. Back then I had no idea SEO existed. It did exist back then, didn’t it? I really don’t know. It’s time to order a new ditch blade from Scythe Supply. I’ve about ruined the original blade by hitting rocks and not doing a great job sharpening. Scythe Supply

I met Carol Bryan a few years ago when we were vendors at the same farmers market. Carol grows a variety of vegetables at her home on Shore Road Farm in Perry, Maine. She also owns Scythe Supply. When she brought a scythe to market one day I had a lot of questions. “Isn’t that hard to use? Doesn’t it make your back ache? What does this part do?” I was a little disappointed to see the person who bought the scythe arrive to pick it up. I was intrigued.

I’m not much of a technology fan. I still use a big desk calendar to write down my appointments. I don’t own a laptop or PDA. The calculator that does so much it should be able to launch missiles baffles me because I don’t want to be bothered to learn how to use it. I don’t need it. I’d rather work out a math problem on paper. It’s reasonably honest to say using paper and pencil ensures the calculator doesn’t get tossed out the window in a fit of frustration. Very few people have my cell phone number because I don’t like phones much. It’s not that they’re difficult, they’re just not my thing. I like simple, old-fashioned things. I don’t like engine-powered weed whackers. Mine is noisy and produces a lot of fumes. The old one started easily but the new one required brute strength so I had to ask Steve to start it for me. That meant weed whacking at 6 a.m. before he left for work or at the end of the day when he got home. By the time he got home the last thing I wanted to do was run a noisy, smelly weed whacker. I needed a scythe. Carol and I chatted about my needs at market the following week. We set up a time later in the week for me to visit her at Shore Road Farm, which is where Scythe Supply is located. Scythe Supply

The first thing we did when I arrived was mow some of the lawn. I’m sure this is the first time I’ve shown up some where to buy something and mowed the lawn! It was necessary though, and surprisingly fun. Carol taught me how to hold the scythe properly, how to swing and more. She had me use both a straight and bent snath and a couple of different blades. I tried some of them several times before deciding on a straight snath (which is standard) with a Gardener’s blade. We weren’t done yet. Carol needed to measure me so that Richard could make a snath that fits me. I shop off the racks so having something custom made for me was kind of fun. Carol measured my height, the distance between my hip joint and the ground, and my elbow to the tip of my middle finger. While Richard made my snath Carol and I walked through her garden then went to the office to get the rest of my supplies.

The blade would eventually need to be sharpened so I had Carol show me the whetstone and peening jig I’d need. I got a book on scythes at the same time. We talked about our gardens and family and other farmers until Richard was finished. I thought I was done but Richard had other plans. It was time to sharpen my blade. I know very little about this so I paid close attention. Richard is a patient teacher who doesn’t mind explaining something twice when necessary. And then I tried out my new scythe. Perfect! It does take practice. I found muscles in my ribs I’d forgotten about. Following through on a swing gives you a good workout. This is the perfect answer to my weed whacking dilemma. I can keep the grass around the edge of the garden under control on days that it’s too wet to be in the garden. My scythe works best when the grass is damp and doesn’t fall over easily. I can hear the birds, there are no fumes, and it’s relaxing. It’s just my style. I’ve added a ditch blade to keep the saplings from moving into the pasture, to clear out raspberry canes, and do some of the heavier work. Scythe Supply

If you need a scythe the place to go is Scythe Supply. Carol will take good care of you.

Have you ever…

Have you ever…

Another reprint from an ag publication but worthy of reprinting while I’m unplugged. No cell phone, laptop or other electronics.  Originally published in February, 2006.

My phone rang late Sunday afternoon. It was my friend and neighbor, Jan. “Have you ever had to pull a kid? The feet are out but we can’t find the head.” Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at this, I have. We raised dairy goats until a couple of years ago. I hung up the phone, took off my rings, and headed up the road to Mustard Seed Farm.

Jan raises Boer goats. The doe had one kid on the ground. Annabella was cleaned up, dried off and cute as can be. Jan held the doe while I took a look at the situation. The kid’s feet were out and they were very cold. The kid was dead. That lessened the urgency a little. We just had to figure out how to get it out. The best way to find out what’s going on in there is to reach in and feel around. I could follow both legs to the shoulders but couldn’t find the head. I could touch the tip of an ear. I couldn’t reach any further. I did all I could then called my vets. “In a perfect world, this would work, but…” I pushed legs back in, rearranged the kid and tried pulling again. In the end, Paul (Jan’s husband) pulled the kid, a perfect doe. Her head was bent over backward with her nose pointing to her tail. Doe and surviving doeling are doing just fine. I stopped in Monday to see them and got my kid cuddle fix. I miss having kids bouncing around the farm each spring. It’s nice knowing that I can stop in to visit Jan and her herd.

And then late Thursday afternoon my phone rang again. “Hey! Ever do a c-section on a goat?” I haven’t, but I’ve helped my vets do them on ewes (female sheep). “Good,” she said, “it’s a sheep!” My friend Sarah was calling. She lives on Black Bridge Farm in Kentucky. I live in Maine. This time I wasn’t going to go up the road to help out. We’d do this over the phone. There are twists to this story. Sarah was not at home on the farm. Her 17 year old son, Christopher, came home from school to find the ewe on her back. She’d died. We were already dealing with an unhappy ending. It was too late for the ewe but could he get the lamb out fast enough to save it? I didn’t think so, but we thought they should try. I’m not a vet, but I’ve done this, and at that point we couldn’t hurt the ewe. There was nothing to lose and there were lessons they could learn.

Sarah hung up and Christopher called immediately. We spoke quickly while I explained the procedure to him, then he handed the phone to 16 year old Elizabeth. Christopher and Elizabeth are amazing young people. He followed my directions perfectly. Elizabeth was our go-between. She had me on one phone in one hand and Sarah on another phone in her other hand. Christopher commented that it was hard to cut into the ewe but he kept going. Elizabeth thought it was a little gross but she stayed right there to help. They never complained.

In spite of their hard work and determination, the lamb was dead. Even when you know before you start that it’s likely too late, it’s still disappointing. Christopher swung it to clear its lungs, just in case. It wasn’t wasted effort. If they had to do it again they could. In a perfect world….the ewe would be alive, the vet would be nearby and there would be twin ewes with a healthy mom this morning. This is the real world. Kids like Elizabeth and Christopher are incredible. I’m proud of them. They did an awesome job. The next time I hear someone say, “kids these days,” I’m going to tell this story. And I’ll agree with them. Kids these days are pretty darned amazing.