Jen Pietsch
Orcas Island, WA

I love spending time outdoors, gardening, running and raising my fleeced friends!
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Monday, March 22, 2010

postheadericon Lamb Jam!

My girlfriend Maria and her family have a wonderful farm, Warm Valley Orchard. Right now they are smack in the middle of lambing.

Warm Valley Orchard is located just past the ferry landing. Anyone coming to the island passes it on the way to town. This time of year Maria and her family call Lamb-Jam season. Cars pull off the road just to see the newest members of her flock and cause quite the back up. I love alpaca cria but think the cutest newborn animal must be a lamb.

Still drying off, just born

Triplets! with their tired mom.

Snuggling with Mom

The waiting is the hardest part

Sunday, March 14, 2010

postheadericon Bread Baking with Third Graders

Every Friday I spend part of the afternoon in my son Luke's classroom usually working on helping the children with developing methods of conflict resolution and the like.

This past Friday we really cut loose and baked bread instead. To honor Saint Patrick's day we made traditional Irish brown bread and Irish soda bread.

These are both super easy and delicious recipes. Don't be tempted to leave out the caraway seeds in the soda bread they are what make it yummy!

Irish Soda Bread
makes 1 loaf

4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
2 cups golden or dark raisins
1 1/2 scant cups buttermilk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and caraway seeds until well combined.

2. Using a pastry cutter or two knives in scissor fashion, cut in butter until the mixture feels like coarse meal. Stir in raisins until evenly distributed.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg, and baking soda until well combined. Pour buttermilk mixture into the flour-and-butter mixture all at once, and stir with a fork until all the liquid is absorbed and the mixture begins to hold together. It should resemble a rough biscuit dough. Using your hands, press the dough into a round, dome-shaped loaf about 8 inches in diameter. Lift the loaf from the bowl, and transfer it to the prepared baking sheet.
In a small bowl, mix the egg yolk and cream together. With a pastry brush, brush the egg wash over the loaf. With a sharp knife or razor, incise a cross, about 1/2 inch deep, into the top of the loaf. Transfer to the oven. Bake, rotating halfway through, until it is deep golden brown and a wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center, about 70 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer bread from the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool.

Tasty but not as Tasty as the soda bread but probably a whole lot better for you.

Irish Brown Bread
makes 1 loaf

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cold butter
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup regular or quick-cooking rolled oats
1 1/2 cups plain nonfat yogurt


1. In a bowl, mix all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until mixture forms fine crumbs. Stir in whole-wheat flour and oats.

2. Add yogurt; stir gently. If mixture is too dry to hold together, stir in milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, just until dough holds together; it should not be sticky.

3. Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and knead gently 5 times to make a ball. Set on a lightly greased baking sheet. Pat into a 7-inch circle. With a floured knife, cut a large X on top of loaf.

4. Bake in a 375° oven until well browned, about 40 minutes. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or cool.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

postheadericon Please Fence Me In

If you recall from an earlier post I received fencing for my is still not up all the way. Fencing, as Jeff and I learned is a big project. We are getting good at it though and as an added bonus we are still married. (just kidding)

First we had to measure and decide how much space we could dedicate to the new pasture, the shape and proximity to the existing run in. Our property is on a slope, one side of it is wet from late November until April. This is of course the side we chose.

Here are a few pictures that we took along the way.

Garett, myself and one of my favorite tools...the Brush Hog post hole digger. Garett and I butted heads a couple of times...ouch.

Even with the post hole digger sometimes the darn thing didn't want to drill.

Monday, March 8, 2010

postheadericon I am a Walking Yes Siree!!!

Well good news on the training front, all of the newbies are now walking on the lead. They aren't all pretty walkers...yet.

A special note to Pendragon's owner: Penny is now also halter trained and will be ready for you to walk him on your next visit.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

postheadericon Show Time...Again?

Didn't it just seem like I was training for the last show season? Well here it is again!

You can find us at the following shows:

Alpaca Western Extravaganza- Vancouver, Washington

Northwest Alpaca Showcase, Pasco, Washington

Check the dates I would love to meet you in person and have you meet the animals. It is an adventure!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

postheadericon Three Generations

Grandma Trina- She pretty much rules the herd.

Carmen- a beauty in her own right- always hungry and not shy about letting you know!

Autumn Diva- a.k.a. Munchkin Martian- she is ready for a great show season!

Monday, March 1, 2010

postheadericon Back and Better Than Ever

Okay so stop with the nagging emails I am back on the blogging wagon. I am back. To give you more background on my life. I also have a great half time teaching job aon another island even smaller than Orcas. It has been a busy couple of months there so I have been not keeping up with you. Your loss because it has been just crazy interesting and fun here. I have so much to share about the farm. You should see how the babies have grown.

All of the alpaca on our farm have registered names and then we also usually create their farm name. You know, what we call them because of their true personalities and idiosyncratic behaviors. The babies are showing their true colors and earning their farm names.

Orcas Moon’s Summer Thyme: Ahhh Summer. She has been dubbed Angelina Ballerina. As I mentioned I teach-prekindergarten. Angelina is a character from a book that we often read. Summer is a dainty little ballerina.


Orcas Moon’s Sage Prince: Oh Please! Way too much name for him. We call this guy Buddy. He is an all around nice guy, my eight year olds favorite, and HUGE! Interestingly enough he is proving to be the slowest learner. He is a ‘dropper’ I ask him to walk and he drops to the ground like he is headed for shots. Which don't even hurt that much. I know this because last time I was giving shots I missed and hit my thigh. I sleep better at night knowing that I am vaccinated against clostridium perfringens type C, D, and C tetani.


Orcas Moon’s Sargent Pepper- a.k.a. The Red Devil- If there is trouble in the cria field I know who is at the root of it. Itsy bitsy Red Devil. We have had a little trouble getting the Devil to walk on the lead. Luke was head butted by the Devil. Both looked stunned when they got up. Now he is getting the picture- he doesn’t go exactly where I want him to but we WILL get there.


Orcas Moon’s Rocky Cilantro- This is the only animal that I picked the name for. He is a Rocky. Although we do often call him Tinker’s boy and dreamer. Rocky is a character. Hay is his thing. He doesn’t eat grain…at all (except once when my mother was here just to prove me wrong in front of an audience). His training is going better…not good but he has stopped leaping up in the air and throwing himself on the ground and acting dead. This was kinda scary the first few times but once Kahana and I realized that he wasn’t injured or dead it was funny.

That is the brief update. More tomorrow…yes tomorrow…I promise. It might only be a picture or something but something will get up here.