The day after our mower quit, the hayman returned with his big tractor and 10′ mowing deck and made short work of the rest of the big south hay field. The spring bales are still there, but he said his young helpers were going to come pick them up and cut up the downed tree and the dead standing tree, leaving us with part of it for our winter warmth and enjoyment. His return allows us to delay the purchase of a new mower deck until spring, the old one to be sold off as parts and scrap. There is probably a farmer out there with the equipment and skills to weld on some plates on the deck, rebuild the trailing wheel support, and put on a new blade.
Our county is noted for it’s rocks. The joke around here is that the county’s main crop is rocks. You can mow an area one year without an issue and the next year hit a rock where the soil settled or the frost pushed the rock up just enough to clip the blade. It is hard on the blades and the play in the blade then hitting the deck housing is hard on the housing. Brush hogs are workhorses, they take a beating keeping the Autumn Olive and blackberries from the edges of the fields and mowing tall weedy hay. They aren’t neat finish mowers used on golf courses and large lawns. Our mower is more than a decade old now and wasn’t a heavy duty one in the first place as our tractor is only 28 hp.
The farm looks so neat right after the haying or fall mowing. One benefit of our smaller tractor and smaller deck is that we can get much closer to the rock piles scattered throughout the farm, keeping the brambles from escaping out into the fields. Since our deck is no wider that the tractor’s rear tires, if they clear without hitting rocks then the mower deck clears also.
In the couple of days since I was mowing, the woods turned autumn colors, almost overnight.
The top picture was two days ago, the lower one a zoomed one of the same area.
Two maples, one wild, one planted. The wild one in back is huge and turns a beautiful shade of golden orange, the planted one a vivid yellow gold. As you see, both have lost about half of their leaves already as have most of the other trees in the area. The wind storms of the past few weeks have stripped many leaves before they turned colors. Soon the woods will be bare and we can voyeuristically peek at the wildlife in the edges of the woods as they seek nourishment from the evergreen scrub, acorns and other wild nuts that have fallen.
The fields were done just in time for several cooler, rainy days. We have yet to build a fire this year, but maybe we will this weekend. Maybe the sack of frozen tomatoes will get cooked down into sauce and canned or frozen as sauce. Maybe a good book, some knitting or spinning, and for sure, lessons for a new spinner.
It has been a while since an Olio was posted, actually been a while since much of anything has been posted.
Spinzilla, the TNNA (The National Needle Arts Assoc.) team spinning competition ended Sunday night. Our team had 25 spinners from across the US, sponsored by The Knotty Ladies and Strauch Fiber Equipment Company. Most of our team has reported their yardage with a photo, it was due to our team leader yesterday, but mine was turned in before the official end of the competition by about 3 hours. I was worn out, beat up, and generally over it by then and had finished plying a bobbin full of wool, so I quit. During the course of the competition as my spinning wheel only has 4 bobbins and 1 of them has some pre Spinzilla alpaca on it that didn’t get finished prior to the start time, I plyed off every bobbin or two bobbins together, wound them off the plying bobbin, measured the yardage, and banded them with fiber, yardage, and weight and put the info in a spreadsheet to make the total tally easier to do. In the end, spinning every spare minute I could on my wheel and everywhere we went on one of my drop spindles, I spun 5000.57 yards of wool, 2.84 miles in 7 days.
Though we have often had our first frost by now, we are still experiencing daytime tempertures as high as 90, but the light drought we have been experiencing has finally broken and we have had some rain in the past week, greening up the browned grasses. The trees are turning orange, red, and gold, some having already shed their leaves.
The pullets seem to all be laying now, often getting up to 13 eggs from the 16 on a good day. Only one of the old girls is still laying, though the molt seems to be winding down, it no longer looks like a chicken exploded in their coop and run.
Normally in the autumn, we spend about 23 hours taking turns mowing our 30 acres with a 5 foot brush hog and our little tractor, but this year, we turned the task over to our retired postman and his helper and let them mow and bale the 3 big fields. That leaves only from the house to the road to mow and that often gets done monthly anyway. That was a big relief to not have to face that many hours on the tractor.
He got 20 large round bales, not too bad for a second cutting of hay after weeks of really dry weather. His cattle will appreciate it this winter if we get any bad weather.
Each day hubby and I try to get in a good brisk walk. Even with the rain we have managed most days. Between our house and Blacksburg, there is a large pond in the National Forest and it has a nice path around it. If we park in the upper parking lot, walk down to the pond and around it and then turn around and back track, we get about 2.3 miles. From the library in Blacksburg to the rec center in Christiansburg is an asphalt trail on an old rail grade, mostly through wooded areas, behind residential areas, and some open fields and it has several access points. There are two that we choose, from the library to Airport Road and back which is about the same 2.3 miles and from behind the hospital toward Christiansburg, a 2.5 section. Our 4th walk choice is to go to Radford when we are over in that direction and walk 2.7 miles of Bisset Park on an asphalt trail along the New River. As we are still seeing various specialists nearly weekly trying to determine what is going on with hubby, we have avoided steep climbs or walks that take us out of civilization where getting help if needed would be difficult. There is another trail along the New River that we want to check out, but it is one that will probably involve taking along a picnic and making a day trip of it as it is a bit of a drive.
My crafting since the end of Spinzilla has been minimal, but I did get my studio corner cleaned up and mostly organized and used some of my hand spun, hand dyed yarn to repair my favorite pair of jeans.
And I have read. The Orphan’s Tale is an excellent historical fiction set during WWII set in Germany and France and set around the circus. A really interesting read, highly recommended.
This has been a crafty week ending with a good session on the tractor to beat the too tall grass back to a reasonable length. The unused chicken run is going to require the weed wacker and this body is just not up to that this afternoon. Our house sits on a slope that has the main floor at ground level on the front and on the second level on the back. To mow with the tractor first requires that the gas powered lawn mower (not self propelled) be hauled out and a couple of swipes around the house along with a couple of areas that the tractor can’t reach, must be done. The typical mowing is 4 or 5 acres, around the orchard trees, the garden and chicken runs, and the front, back, and side yards. The area that is hayed and we usually brush hog in the fall is going to be hayed this fall, taking this task from me this year.
The crafting has involved designing two new patterns for fingerless mitts for the shop. The patterns have been shared with a few friends, I am hopeful that if they knit them, that they will alert me to any miscues that might surface. Also this week, 3 batches of Shea based cold process soap, and a couple dozen tins of salves and balms were made for the shop and the upcoming shows.
The lower ones are for me, though I will knit a pair or two for the Holiday Markets as well.
A few weeks ago, a friend asked if I could make a particular hat for her grand daughter who is turning 1 soon and has yet to grow hair. The project was quick and sent to the friend, who in turn sent it to her daughter. The photo credit is from her daughter, they were very pleased with the results.
And then today was Worldwide Spin in Public Day, and my new Spanish Peacock drop spindle accompanied me today as we went to our usual Saturday morning breakfast and Farmers’ Market trips.
A busy week. Tomorrow the garden and a batch of pickles will be the focus.
Today was the last full day of the Harley Davidson 5 State Rally in Roanoke and the third ride that Jim was the ride Captain. Grandson had his last day of school and I picked him up at 11 and we drove to the covered bridge in our community and sat for a few minutes until the 15 or so bikes rode by us on the way up to Mountain Lake Lodge to see the Dirty Dancing display, it was filmed there, and to have lunch. We hurried in to town, picked up granddaughter from Preschool and back up the mountain where we joined the big group on the porch for lunch. They were a really nice group of folks and the kids were well behaved and hungry.
Back home, my ride, the tractor was brought out and the yard mowed, showing the clear demarcation between the lawn and the hay.
It was such a nice afternoon that the new wheel and I adjourned to the front porch and a funky skein of yarn was plyed. Daughter named it “Seussical” as soon as she saw it. I am now spinning a yellow and orange skein that will be used with “Seussical” to make a hat and mitts for the Holiday Markets in the fall and winter.
While sitting there, the distinctive buzz of a hummingbird was heard and soon, the little emerald green hummer was feeding right in front of me. I have tried for years to get a photo of one and if I sat still and stopped spinning, it returned repeatedly to the feeder.
While I was prepping tacos for dinner, the haying team arrived and the area where the photo of the short grass and the tall hay along with most of the rest of the area in front of the house were mowed with a sickle bar to be raked and baled tomorrow or Sunday. The big 15′ mower will arrive tomorrow and take on the big fields that have fewer obstacles and longer straighter runs. The sickle bar will go around the rock piles and along the edges of the fields. Soon the farm will be neat and mowed. Farmer Jeff is right on schedule, he always gets to us in the second or third week of June. The grands will be glad to have more area to play once the hay is all in.
The nice weather returned today. The expected 73ºf clear day ended up an 87ºf clear day. After the preschool pickup run and a stop at Lowe’s to pick up 2 large pots and 3 sacks of organic composted soil, the brush hog was reattached to the tractor. That isn’t a tough job if the tractor and brush hog are on level surface, if you can guide the tractor backward to align the 3 point attachment and PTO. It was removed in the lower bay of the barn which is not level, so reattaching it was a job. If you are strong, you can shift the back of the brush hog to do realignment. I am not strong and I am a 69 year old woman, so it is all that I can do to jiggle the hog into position. It took over an hour of sweat, a few unkind words, some tractor shifting but it is on the tractor. The area around the house was mowed, the orchard was mowed, the septic field was mowed, and mostly around the tiny trees and the larger pines and firs through which they were interspersed, but the tractor needs fuel, so that task ended for today.
Once done with that, the two huge pots were placed, filled with good soil and the hops and some summer bulbs were planted in them. This is an attempt to clean up around the deck and beautify it for spring and summer meals.
After dinner prep and clean up, the three half barrels were planted with the potatoes that finally arrived during the heavy rain.
The chicklets aren’t so small anymore. They are escape artists, but they are large enough to not be getting through the fence holes, so I’m not sure how they are escaping.
The 4 Welsummer chicks are turning into beautiful young pullets.
We have a couple more good days and over the past two days, a good supply of cardboard has been obtained, so hopefully the areas of the garden that need to be smothered can be covered and the remaining aisles also. The three sisters bed needs to be worked. Normally we don’t put tomatoes and peppers in the ground until Mother’s Day, but the extended forecast shows warm days and mild nights, so they might also get planted along with the kale starts that were purchased at the Farmers’ Market on Saturday.
The dogwood blossoms in the hedgerows and along the edges of the fields are spectacular this year. My evening walk along the path that I mowed today was lined with the beautiful white blooms. The walk is a huge squared off figure 8 around the two fields in the header between where the photo was taken and the house in the center. It always amazes me when I get back there to realize how large those two fields are.
The past few days have been busy. Granddaughter started back to preschool, the dogs have had check ups and shots, we have been busy around the farm.
Between us, most of the fields have been mowed for fall. I haven’t harvested the pears or apples yet, as I have been trying to catch up on tomatoes and peaches. One day, I canned 30 pints of tomatoes and pasta sauce. Of that, only a few didn’t seal, so we had a big spaghetti dinner last night and the leftover sauce was put in wide mouth jars and frozen. We will use it first before we start opening the sealed jars.
Each Tuesday, daughter and son-in-law pick up a one person food share of meat and one of fruit as a test to see if it is worth their money. A lot of the fruit has been peaches, though the late frost killed off almost all of the peaches around here, so they must be bringing them from south of us. Jim and I are the only ones in the house that will eat a fresh peach. The first batch was made into peach/mango chutney, a very authentic tasting chutney. The second batch were peeled, sliced, and frozen. The third batch went to the spinning retreat with me and were enjoyed by the group. The fourth batch was sitting there about to attract fruit flies, so I made 9 half pints of sweet chili sauce today. I tasted a bit of it and it is sweet and spicy with hot chili sauce added. It should make a great chicken or pork basting sauce or topping. I think it would be good over cream cheese with crackers. It is cooling on the counter and will be added to the increasing jars of goodies on the shelves.
Tonight late, our eldest son and eldest grandson will arrive for the weekend. I have a dry rub pork shoulder that I will cook in the crockpot tomorrow and I think one of the jars of sweet chili sauce, a jar of the apple/pear chutney from last year, the last jar of Pear Ginger Conserve will all be put out to eat with the pulled pork and slaw with a batch of roasted veggies for out dinner.
Tomorrow, we will get to return to the Farmers’ Market for the first time in a month. We will precede that with breakfast out, and I will turn in my applications for the two winter Holiday Markets.
I am loving being able to return to a routine and see things getting done.
I woke quite early again today and having convinced myself that the pullet and hen loss was from raccoons going after the birds that wouldn’t coop up at night, and given that most of today was going to be spent in close proximity to the coops, I let the chickens out, removed their food and water from their coops to the outside, and added new straw to give them clean bedding.
Grandson was awakened, fed, and transported to the bus, granddaughter was awakened, fed, and transported to her preschool Open House to reunite with some friends and make some new ones. Once home, the tractor was driven out and the mowing commenced. I tackled the thick tall grass that we consider our lawn and even with the tractor and brush hog, it was a challenge in some places. I will have to go back over it in a couple of days to hopefully break up and disperse the clumps that formed. Once I finished with that part, Jim took the tractor to the far hay field and began down there. I had left him only about a quarter tank of diesel and told him, I was going to get some fuel and something to prepare for dinner. Granddaughter and I got back up the mountain with just a few minutes before the afternoon school bus was due, so we waited. Jim called to tell me he had run out of fuel before I got there and when he got back to the house on foot, he heard a ruckus in the chicken pen. I was wrong about my predator. It was a large hawk and it had my last pullet that I had put in the hen coop. That means that I have lost all of my replacement hens and two older hens this summer. I cooped them and the culls back up and I have to do something to prevent the opportunistic hawk from feeding in my chicken runs. We live in the midst of 30 acres of woods and hay fields ripe with rabbits, squirrels, small birds, snakes, mice, voles, etc. but the hawk has found a food source that doesn’t require hunting and has a convenient large nut tree nearby to escape to.
Between us, we got about a quarter of the grass and fields mowed today with nice days due the rest of the week, so maybe we will get it finished. Neighbors are mowing and some are second cut haying now also.
I didn’t get any harvest done today, nor did I figure out how I am going to protect the remaining chickens. My run fences are 4 feet tall. If I cover them, I can’t get in to change water, open the pop door, or close them up at night without duck walking under a 4 foot high net. To raise the fence height to 6 feet tall, even if I cut the run size in half, will require taking down existing fencing, pulling up T posts, and starting over with 7 foot posts, new fence wire and then netting or tarping the top. That would require another major investment in funds on top of the purchased coop, existing fencing, and labor building the two reclaimed coops, all for a handful of laying hens and a few meat chickens. So far, I have no sound ideas on how to create a tunnel fastened to the existing posts that would raise the cover without starting over. Perhaps the existing T posts can support cattle panels bent to an arch then draped with netting, but still an expense.
It is too hot to keep the laying coop closed up all day for days on end. I will lose them to illness or heat if I have to do that.
Tomorrow, there is no preschool, so maybe I can get some garden work done while Jim finishes the far field. And maybe after sleeping on it, I will come up with at least a temporary inexpensive solution to protecting my laying hens and meat culls. Life and death on a farm is expected, but I am getting very frustrated with my inability to keep my chickens safe.
Yesterday was our eldest son’s birthday. It seems like yesterday that I was standing in our new kitchen (we had just bought a house and moved in only two weeks before) shelling fresh peas that we had bought that morning at the Farmers’ Market in Virginia Beach. We had also taken a walk up Mt. Trashmore, a city park build on the old landfill, with hopes that it would stimulate labor. It did, sort of. At any rate, the peas did not get eaten that night, a stay in the labor unit at the hospital instead and his addition to our family the next day. He is a delightful, intelligent, grown man now, 36 years young with his own wife and our eldest grandson.
The week has been a mixture of rain and sun with only a little gardening done. Our neighbor has an overgrown Bearded Iris bed with three colors of Iris in it and he has known for years that I wanted a bit of each to go with my Grape Iris and Dutch Iris that were already in my gardens. I had permission to come get some, but always waited until they had finished blooming until I thought about heading up to get some and didn’t want to dig without knowing which clusters to dig from in order to get a bit of each color. He called one night this week and told me to come up with a shovel and bucket and I came home with some of each color. They were planted in a flower garden that I had begun early spring above the vegetable garden. Next year they will have multiplied and I will have more beautiful color.
Yesterday, I also stopped and got flowers for the wooden wheelbarrow that my Dad made for me about a dozen years ago. As the weather began turning to spring this year, I brought it in to the garage and refurbished it, putting a new axle, handle and leg supports on it. It also was screwed instead of nailed together in my efforts.
The little carved bear on the edge of the porch was a craft show purchase many years ago. It is chain saw carved and holds a solar light that comes on at dusk, not providing much light, but a guide to where the edge of the front porch is located on a dark night.
Some preparation of products for my shop were done with all three salves made and a couple of scents of lotion bars formulated. While doing them, I prepared a written lesson in salve preparation and making and lotion bar recipe and instruction for a class I will be teaching in the fall at a retreat.
I got brave this week too and finally tackled dyeing a skein of yarn for my shop. My first attempt was not my hand spun, but a 150 yard skein of Suri Alpaca. For my first attempt, I used the kettle dyed method and Greener Shades dye. I tried dyeing half for 20 minutes longer than the other half, hoping for a two toned monochromatic skein.
I don’t think I achieved what I was hoping for, but I am fairly pleased with the result. I have several skeins of undyed natural white yarns in the shop and I will be dyeing several of them in the next few days experimenting with adding more color.
Two days of this week were spent in preparation and recovery from one of the dreaded diagnostics that senior citizens are encouraged to endure. At least I don’t have to go through it again for another decade.
Today began with a solo run to the Farmers’ Market for salad, broccoli, a cucumber already, herbs, bread, and flowers. Jim had breakfast with me in town and then took off on the BBH to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway and grab a hot dog in Roanoke.
After my early return, my day has been spent mostly outdoors, weeding and cleaning up the shrub bed along the front of the house. It needs new mulch, but I didn’t want to drive back into town. Pushing the mower up and down the hill by the driveway to clear around the shrubs growing there, the meat chickens pen which was up to my waist with grass and lambs quarters, the area in front of the Huck’s coop so that a containment pen could be made for the anticipated chicks. We are on chick watch. The next couple of days should produce our first batch of chicks for the season. Their coop and pen await.
A plastic chicken wire pen attached to step in poles awaits them. The electric fence will be restrung this evening after I re-hydrate and it cools off some.
The other layers (who have contributed to the eggs being sat) and the proud Papa continue to harass the two gals sitting. One hen insists on laying her egg in the nest of the first broody each day. I marked the original 10 under her and then quit as I didn’t want to disturb her so much. Whatever doesn’t hatch in the next couple of days will be discarded. The same will be true mid June when the second hatch is due. I need to block off the nesting box for the first hatch before they coop up tonight. I don’t want a newly hatched chick to be pecked or accidentally fall out the pop door as her nest is right at that door. One of the girls has taken to pecking the egg of one of the Americaunas each day if I don’t collect them as soon as I realize they are in a nest. They aren’t totally breaking the shell, nor eating the egg, just slightly fracturing the shell. I hate having to discard an egg most days.
We are expecting rain for the next two days. I may take advantage of the wet soil to continue the weeding of the garden. I still don’t have the popcorn and pumpkins planted. I did re-weed the blueberries today and there will be a small harvest of them. One of the aisles between beds was weeded and covered with spoiled hay today as well. I have concluded that from now on, I will just buy my turnips at the Farmers’ Market. I harvested the first few that I planted and they are all full of the little white worm that torments me each time I plant them. I have used wood ash in their planting row and around on top with limited success in the past, but it didn’t work this year. I guess the chickens will enjoy them.
Our neighbor that hays our fields came over to look at my brush hog today. He is going to take it home and refurbish it for me. Rough ground and rocks are hard on them and the design of the stablizer wheel on the back of the one we own is poor, causing the shaft that holds it to stretch out and has made the wheel unstable. One of the bolts that prevents wobble is bent too and he is either going to cut it off and replace it or just weld those two pieces together to prevent the wobble. It has gotten so that it gouges the ground when I mow.
Each day is partly a sunny day and partly a cloudy day, even afternoon thunderstorms with torrential rain at times.
Today I debated whether to try to get the yard that was knee deep mowed or the peppers and tomatoes planted in the garden. I decided that the mowing was more critical as tomorrow there is a much higher chance of rain and I could plant between rain storms, but couldn’t mow the grass as tall as it was if wet. I started off this morning, trying to get around the house with the gas powered lawn mower, getting where I can’t go with the tractor. Good idea, but I only did about a third of it and ran out of gasoline. I intended to go get some after lunch, but the clouds were building, so I just got as close to the house as I could on the tractor and mowed a lawn around the house in the encroaching hay field. We are still about 6 weeks from haying here and it is getting seriously tall. The grands need a place to play, I need to be able to get to the chicken pens and I don’t like the orchard to get too tall as the trees are too close to the chicken pen fence for the sickle bar hay cutter and too close to each other for the big haycutter. I did beat a terrific thunderstorm by only minutes.
When I went out to let the flock out for the day, I found this . . .
Broody Mama giving me the evil eye for trying to move her two days ago. She is sitting firmly on yesterday’s 6 eggs. I will try to slip 4 more under her tonight from today’s lay. If all goes according to schedule, we will have chicks in about 3 weeks. She chose the box nearest the pop door, not the best one to raise a family in when there are 5 others that are safer, but it is where she is.
With the ground so wet and haying season upon us soon, the burn pile finally got lit off. The Christmas tree made a good starter fuel and most of the pile is now gone. In a day or two, I will move the debris to an area we don’t mow after sorting through for nails and screws. One day, there will be a permanent place and an incinerator in which to burn before the piles get too large.
One of my commitments to my shop is to make a more environmentally friendly soap, removing palm oil from all of my soap recipes. There are only going to be 4 soaps in the store, Goat milk with honey, Lavender Goat milk, Citrus Shea, and Cedar/Rosemary/Thyme. All of them are going to be made with Organic Shea Butter, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Castor Oil, and extra virgin olive oil (organic when available). The liquid will be either coconut milk or goat milk and if scented, with pure essential oils. Yesterday, I made two batches of the Lavender Goat milk soap with Shea butter and Organic Moroccan Red Clay for sensitive skin types. It was the most beautiful dark caramel color when hot and today when I unmolded it to cut and cure, it looks like fudge. It is such a pretty soap.
There are 18 bars of it curing for the next 4 weeks before it can go in the shop. That makes two of the 4 soaps Palm oil free so far. I will be making another batch of the Cedarwood and the Goat milk Honey soap in the next day or so, both also Palm Oil free. The Shea butter makes such a nice rich soap and it is not responsible for rain forest deforestation.
With the coming of warmer weather, short sleeves, and air conditioning, today I added 3 mini shawls to the shop to throw over shoulders instead of a jacket or sweater when in the office or dining out. They range in price from only $15 to $25 and fiber from Seasilk to Wool with Mohair.
Tomorrow, after taking N to preschool, I hope to get in a walk with a friend and then finally get back to the garden. I still need to get gasoline and mow outside the garden and around the chicken coops. That may have to be done with the gas trimmer as it has gotten so long and thick. Maybe I can get son-in-law to do it this weekend.
The weather has been beautiful. Mid 50’s at night, great sleeping weather with a window open, 70 for the day’s high. Occasional clouds, some of them quite lovely.
Last night it was so beautiful outside that after I finished staining the garage doors with Mountaingdad and then finished the half wall on the garage that Son #1 didn’t have time to finish, we grilled out and ate on the back deck. I was tired and sore and needed some zen time, so I spend about an hour near sundown mowing in one of the back fields. It really is quite zen to ride the tractor and watch the goings on around you on the farm.
Today being a copy of yesterday, I began earlier to get the front and back walls of the breezeway stained. This critter with her brood of babies on her back watched from the stone wall nearby for quite a time.
While I was doing the breezeway, our handyman neighbor was staining the ceiling of the front porch and we worked together to get the front porch posts to use up the remaining stain mix that was made today. Once the additives are mixed in, it must be used within 6 hours. As we were working on that, I spotted another spider’s work.
It is spun to the contour of the A frame bird house. This is the best I could do to get a photo.
The only parts of the house left for me to stain are the front log wall, seen in the background of the photo above and the 8 windows that are in the areas that I have or will stain.
About 38 years ago, I separated my left shoulder on the second day of skiing with my hubby. We weren’t married then, though he says that my skiing for several more days after that injury helped him decide that I was the woman he had been looking for. I am a southpaw, so I work that shoulder and arm a lot and when I do, whether gardening or staining like I am doing now, that old injury makes my shoulder quite sore. I may need a day or two break before I tackle that front wall. It will take me several hours to complete. For now, I’m going to get cleaned up and go socialize with my friends at knit night. As a bonus, I have 4 dozen eggs to sell to them.
Farm life, knitting and spinning, cooking and family