Pleasant Valley Farm

  (Tionesta, Pennsylvania)
Real Family Farming in Tionesta, PA
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Thankful Time

I had a wonderful post typed out on the ALBC conference, but the computer ate most of it.  So, more on that next week...

 It's Thanksgiving week!  For most of us, it means food and family, and if we're lucky, some time off.  For me this year, it's craziness, though!  After the conference I attended in North Carolina, I took some much needed time away from the farm to hang out with three of my siblings (I'm the oldest of 6!).  I had a great time visiting and catching up with sibs, spouses and their kids and returned home last Thursday to all the post-vacation stuff...laundry, catching up on email, and juggling orders from customers looking to stock up on our meats before the end of the season.

 This week is our final week of the farm stand season, and we'll be processing the last of the chickens tonight and the last pig Friday.  It's the time where I start thinking about how our farm year went and all I have to be thankful for, but instead of musing that online today, the plan is scrubbing and baking.  

This year, for the first time, I'm hosting family Thanksgiving.  I've cooked holiday meals for Dan and I in the past, and had Matt over, too, but this year will be the first time I've cooked for my Mom and siblings.  Honestly, I'm a little nervous about it, which is a bit on the crazy side.  I cook from scratch pretty much nightly, and far more so than most folks, so a whole turkey is no big deal, and I'm already pretty skilled at making sure everything comes out at the same time.   Nothing that I'm cooking is difficult to me or something new, but I guess there is that little voice in the back of my head that worries that this will be the year Emily ruined Thanksgiving by (insert disaster here...no mashed potatoes, burned stuffing, whatever).  So today I'm continuing to scrub the farmhouse so it's fit for company and baking.  Since baking is my least-perfected skill, I thought it would be good to do it ahead so that I have a chance to adjust if things go wrong.  However, I'm feeling pretty good, as I'm making a pumpkin cheesecake recipe I've tried before, and it came out awesome the first time.  The other dessert is a Shea family tradition, but also pretty foolproof, and the last thing you'd expect to be served at an organic farm feast.  But the Candy Bar Pie, made with chocolate pudding, graham cracker crust, cream cheese, Cool Whip and Snickers bars requires no baking and just needs to be part of our celebration.  

For the big day, I'm going classic (in my opinion, now is NOT the time to try new recipes!)...roasted turkey and homemade gravy, Mom's famous stuffing recipe, mashed potatoes, my home-canned cranberry sauce, green salad, and a winter squash side.  Maybe some sweet corn, too.  When I talked to my mom on Sunday, she asked what she could bring, so I put her on beverage duty.  I'm excited to have my family sit around the table together, give thanks, and dig in. 

Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday week filled with family time and great food!  Happy Thanksgiving to all! 

 
 

My New Family

I have been most blessed to be welcomed, with open arms, into a new family of sorts lately. I shared the story of my pony, Sara, and how much she meant to me, but one blog entry couldn't possibly cover our whole story. Her story actually had a horrible beginning...she was one of over 30 Morgans who were rescued from starvation and death by a wonderful organization called the Equine Rescue League in Leesburg, Virginia. After I adopted Sara, I sent pictures back to show how well she was doing, and got a reply of thanks, and that it might help her son find a forever home too. Although I occasionally received a newsletter from them, and had contacted them a few times in the 20 years Sara and I were together (just to say she was doing well), I never really made personal connections, nor knew anything about what happened to the rest of the herd, including what became of her baby. When Sara passed, I let the ERL know, and gave them the link to the tribute I had posted here. It was forwarded to the ERL's Facebook, and Amanda, who manages that page, had actually adopted two of the Stafford County Morgans, as the group was known. One had passed, but the other is alive and well. Her friend Tara has three as well, and she kindly offered to let me meet the group, as the herd was related many times over, she called them Sara's “cousins”. I asked if anyone knew anything about Sara's son- what happened, if he was still alive, if he had had a good life. I told her if it was possible that I would love to see a picture. Upon further communication, Tara's three horses turned out to be Sara's full brother, her niece, and in an amazing twist of fate, her son Gus. He gives lessons to young girls at her horse sanctuary and looks so much like his mom it brought tears to my eyes. They also pieced together the fact my Sara had not one, but two colts before she came to me. A picture of the younger one, Sammy, has been found, although it seems where he went is at present time unknown. I guess Sara wanted me to find her family, and it's been amazing the way these women have reached out and embraced me despite the fact we've never even spoken on the phone to each other. Our bond is having our lives graced by a very special group of horses. My personal Facebook page is blowing up with pictures of these special Morgans. Amazingly, they are not all that far from Tom & Betty, so I look forward to the day I can visit in person and meet these special horses and humans. I know Sara will always live on in my heart, and I can't wait to share more of her story with them, and hear the stories of Gus, Mia, Justin, Flower, Disco, and all the other Morgans who are my special girl's relatives.
 
 
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