Tag Archives: wine



Manure the pasture in early spring in the dark of the moon, when the west wind begins to blow. When you close your pastures (to the stock) clean them and root out all the weeds.

(this is what i’m doing with my total grazing scheme – it is very much easier to snip out those little tree sprouts once the grass around them is fully grazed down. Treat the stump with a bit of Tordon RTU and slowly one can regain clean and productive grass pastures.)

Feeding Livestock:

  1. as long as available, feed green leaves of elm, poplar, oak, and fig to cattle and sheep
  2. Store leaves (before withered) to feed sheep (maybe ensilage?)
  3. Store up dry fodder for winter
  4. Build feed racks in such manner to avoid wastage
  5. Feed a measure of soaked grains or grape husks (preserved in jars) each night along with 25 lbs of hay. Offer higher quality and quantity to those steers which are being prepared to work fields.
  6. Nothing is more profitable than to take good care of your cattle.
  7. Keep flocks and herds well supplied with litter to keep their feet clean. Watch for scab which comes from hunger and exposure to rain.
  8. Anoint oxen feed with liquid pepper before driving them on high road
  9. Health stock depend on sweet and fresh water in the summer
  10. Prevent scab in sheep with an equal measure of well strained amurca (dregs of olive oil), water steeped in lupine, and lees (leftover yeast) of good wine. After shearing, anoint the flock with the mixture and allow them to sweat profusely 2-3 days, then dip them in the sea (or a mixture of salt water). Doing this they will suffer no scab. (this amurca, lupine water, and wine was also recommended as a moth proofing, relish for cattle, fertilizer, and for use as weevil kill on the threshing floor)
  11. Ox being sick – give him 1 raw egg and make him swallow. Next day make him drink from a wooden bowl a measure of wine in which has been scraped the head of an onion. Bothe ox and his attendant should do these things fasting and standing upright.
  12. There are additional crazy cures for dislocated bones, serpent bites, and such that i’ll just skip.

The END!

Check out the little book and a myriad of other Forgotten Books.

Cato – Duties of the Hands

Customary Allowances for food

For the hands, four pecks of meal for winter, four and one-half pecks for summer

For the overseer, housekeeper, wagoner, shepherd – three pecks each

For the slaves, four pounds of bread for winter, but when vine cultivating begins, increase to five pounds until figs are ripe, the return to four pounds.

Wine allowances:

Each hand receives a yearly supply of eight quadrantals (or Amphora), but add in the proportion of work they do. Ten quadrantals is not too much

Olives and salt allowances:

Save the wind fall olives as much as possible for relishes for the hands. When olives are all eaten, give them fish pickles and vinegar. One peck of salt per year is enough for each hand.

Clothing allowances:

Allow each hand a smock and a cloak every other year. As often as you give out a smock or cloak to any one take up the old one, so that caps can be made out of it. A pair of heavy wooden shoes should be allowed every other year.

As per Cato’s Farm Management book published by Forgotten Books.

Cato on “Laying Out and Stocking the Farm”

The continuing saga of Cato’s Farm Management book published by Forgotten Books.

Cato suggested the following ‘disposition’ of your estate. First assuming a spread of 100 jugera (about 66 acres).

  1. a vineyard
  2. irrigated garden
  3. an osier bed (a bed of willow trees)
  4. an olive yard
  5. a meadow
  6. a corn field
  7. a wood lot
  8. a cultivated orchard
  9. a mast grove ( grove of nut/acorn producing trees)

“In his youth, the farmer ought, diligently to plant his land, but he should ponder before he builds. Planting does not require reflection, but demands action. It is time enough to build when you have reached your thirty-sixth year, if you have farmed your land well meanwhile. When you do build, let your buildings be proportioned to your estate, and your estate to your buildings. It is fitting that the farm buildings should be well constructed, that you should have ample oil cellars and wine vats, and a good supply of casks, so that you can wait for high prices, something which will redound to your honour, your profit and your self-respect.”

** sure i’d like to paraphrase Cato’s words and writings, but he is very much succinct and to the point – quite certain i cannot improve. I will press his point above as to buildings be proportioned to your estate. Too many people today (and apparently in Cato’s day) overbuild! For example, a ranch does not need barns! Yet, most farms and ranches today are covered up with outbuilding and barns which only cost money in initial build, depreciation, and maintenance. The farmer who surrounds himself deliberately with stuff and work, has little regard for family time.

What about your dwelling house? Cato admonishes to “Build your dwelling house in accordance with your means. If you build well in a good situation and on a good property, and furnish the house suitably for country life, you will come there more often and more willingly. The farm will then be better, fewer mistakes will be made, and you will get larger crops. The face of the master is good for the land.

(as an interesting aside, Pliny quotes Cato as advising to buy what others have built rather than build oneself, and thus, as he says, enjoy the fruits of another’s folly. Cacoethes edificandi is a familiar disease among country gentlemen.)

My take on cacoethes edficandi is a given in human nature and if you have the opportunity to take advantage, go for it. However, a couple of drawbacks to that are 1) often the estate being sold is priced to include an overbuild, so it can’t be afforded anyway – a lot of ranch and farm land falls in that category now with only the very, very wealthy able to afford such properties which are impossible to run at a profit for cropping or livestock. 2) in our area, anyway, there are next to no nice homes, so building is a must to have something safe and worthwhile in which to live – yet the admonishing is twice listed here – a) build within your means, and b) avoid folly.

More layout tips:

Plant elm trees along the roads and fence rows, so that you may have the leaves to feed the sheep and cattle, and the timber will be available if you need it. If any where there are banks of streams or wet places, there plant reeds, and surround them with willows that the osiers may serve to tie the vines.

My commentary on the above is that we would never plant trees (and not elm – they are highly diseased in our area now) in a fence row – as the trees grow, they’ll knock over the fence, branches will fall out and smash the fence, and eventually grow around the barbed wire which will make the tree unsafe for use in a sawmill (wire in a log is a dangerous situation for the sawyer. Note Cato does not recommend trees along stream banks or wet places. Many people think trees stop erosion in these areas, but this is entirely untrue. Deep rooted reeds and grasses will hold the banks against fast moving water much better. Livestock can also ‘walk down’ any steep banks allowing these deep roots to take hold. Stream banks with wider more gentle slopes encourage water to slow down and not allow erosion. Trees simply fall over as water erodes the soil out from under them, then logs and branches become unusable and tend to clog up ditches allowing deep wallows and stagnant pools.

Cato goes on:

Set out the land nearest the house as an orchard, whence fire wood and faggots may be sold and the supply of the master obtained. In this enclosure should be planted everything fitting to the land and vines should be married to the trees.

Near the house lay out also a garden with garland flowers and vegetables of all kinds, set it about with myrtle hedges, both white and black, as well as Delphic and Cyprian laurel.


As an example, Cato sets forth an “olive farm of two hundred and forty jugera (160 acres) ought to be stocked as follows: an overseer, a house keeper, five laborers, three ox drivers, one swineherd, one ass driver, one shepherd; in all thirteen hands: three pair of oxen, three asses with pack saddles, to haul out the manure, one other ass, and one hundred sheep.”

Comments included are that as labor becomes more expensive, the slow, but steady oxen should be replaced with faster working, yet more costly, teams of horses. And in more modern times, we now use tractors which don’t even require drivers because labor cost is becoming more and more prohibitive.

Well, i hope you are enjoying the wisdom of Cato’s thoughts on farming, homesteading, ranching. Although he lived 2000 years ago, the concepts, precepts, and business acumen he shares is still spot on. I plan to share more of this clever book in upcoming blog entries. Check out the numerous classic reprints from Forgotten Books.


Tokaji Aszu

Daughter, Jessica, thoughtfully left me a New Year’s Eve gift since she wasn’t going to be home for it.  However, I have a cold and will wait until i feel better and so it can be shared with my dearest friend, Ivis.

Jessica packed this bottle all the way from her short visit to Budapest in early December to home in north Missouri!  This is a bottle of Sweet Quality Dessert Wine made from grapes infected with a fungus!  Weird.  Tokaji Aszú

Farming in the northeast area of Hungary near the Slovakia border.




Moussaka for Lunch

Today started out with me castrating about 25 ram lambs.  Thankfully, Dallas and Rick caught and held them for me – MUCH easier to have extra hands.  To castrate lambs, one catches them up and holds their hind legs up to their front legs thereby the testicles are easy to grab hold of.  The handler is holding the ram on his lap.  I assured Rick I’d never missed before.  I think i scared him a bit!   😉  (I did NOT use my teeth!)   We also dewormed all the lambs as well as the ewes.  That will help clean them up and get them gaining well before selling the lot on September 7 at Kirksville Livestock Auction at the special sheep sale that day.  After selling off 54 lambs, 80 ewes, and 2 mature rams on Monday, we counted out about 51 lambs and and 52 ewes to sell the 7th, then I’ll be out of the sheep business.

This afternoon, I’m doing the washing and will clean up and around the barns in preparation for semen checking the bulls tomorrow and hauling out to the cows.

Moussaka” is an Arabic word and a popular dish in many Middle Eastern countries, the immortal eggplant-and-lamb casserole is generally credited to the Greeks, who claim it as a national treasure.  This recipe provides 8-10 servings.

1 large eggplant (or about 2 lbs)

2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 to 2 lbs ground lamb

1 medium onion, chopped

1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce

3/4 cup red wine or beef broth

1 tablespoon snipped parsley

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmet

White Sauce (see recipe)

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2/3 cup dry bread crumbs

1 egg, beaten

Tomato Sauce (see recipe)

Cut unpared eggplant crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.  COok slices in small amount boiling, salted water (1/2 teaspoon salt to 1 cup water) until tender, 5 to 8 minutes.  Drain.  Heat butter in 12-inch deep skillet until melted.  Cook and stir lamb and onion until lamb is light brown: drain.  Stir in tomato sauce, wine, parsley, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Cook uncovered over medium heat until half the the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.  Prepare White Sauce.

Stir 2/3 cup of the cheese, 1/3 cup of the bread crumbs and the egg into meat mixture; remove from heat.  Sprinkle remaining bread crumbs evenly in greased oblong baking dish 13 1/2 x 9 x 2 inches.  Arrange half the eggplant slices in baking dish; cover with meat mixture.  Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the remaining cheese over meat mixture; top with remaining eggplant slices.  Pour White Sauce over mixture; sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Cook uncovered in 375ºF oven 45 minutes.  Prepare Tomato Sauce.  Let moussaka stand 20 minutes before serving.  Cut into squares; serve with Tomato Sauce.

White Sauce

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups milk

2 eggs, slightly beaten

Heat butter over low heat until melted.  Blend in flour, salt, and nutmeg.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and bubbly; remove from heat.  Stir in milk.  Heat to boiling, sitrring constantly.  Boil and stir 1 minute.  Gradually stir at least 1/4 of the hot mixture into eggs.  Blend into hot mixture in pan.

Tomato Sauce

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finly chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups chopped ripe tomatoes

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon dried basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 bay leaf, crushed

1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste

Cook and stir onion and garlic in oil in 3-quart saucepan over medium heat until onoion is tender.  Add remaining ingredients except tomato paste.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly; reduce heat.  Simmer uncovered until thickened, about 30 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste.  (Add 2 to 3 tablespoons water if necessary for desired consistency.


I use organic grassfed milk, eggs, and butter.  Freshly grated Parmesan cheese and locally and organically grown tomatoes for sauces.  You can buy organic tomatoes and paste in the stores.  Thankfully, between what we raise ourselves and what i can purchase, it is all local and/or organic.  Flavours are much better.