Friday, January 18, 2013

AND it starts

The first flakes fall! More like slush at this point. We have had four days of rain, there is mud everywhere, it's messy and it's ugly. 

It never ceases to amaze me how easily nature transforms this place. It will all melt away today but for now it's pristine, on top anyway.
I didn't realize until I was editing the pics that the hummingbird feeder was still up?!

Wherever you are, I hope you are dry, warm, and comfortable..

Saturday, January 12, 2013


We are having balmy weather!
I'm thinking with the warm winters we have had the last two year I should prolly invest in some citrus trees?!
Only kidding on that (for now anyway). We are supposed to be 71 degrees today! Very unsettling..

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Bone Broth

Bone Broth

At one point in my life I use to get my broth in cans from the store. That seems like a life time ago.
Now I save all the bones, deer, beef, turkey, and chicken in a bag in the freezer until I have enough to make a batch of bone broth. It's an easy way of adding lots of nutrition to soups or stews, anything you would use broth in. 
I roast my bones in the oven for about an hour at 350 degrees. Put bones in a large pot, I use my crock pot or a big cast iron, cover with water (I use filtered water), add a bit of vinegar. I also add bits and pieces of any veggies I might have. I put several carrots, parsley, and onions in the pot. Let the bones sit for about an hour before turning on the heat. Simmer the brew until the bones become soft, I usually go for three days. You don't want the temp to go above a simmer, I've let mine boil before and the broth comes out with a burned taste.

Bones draining in a colander  
At the end of three days take out the bones and bits and let it drain into a bowl.

Strained broth
Strain the broth through cheesecloth into mason jars. Let cool in the fridge. Remove the fat from the top of the broth. If the broth is too weak I pour it into a large pan and boil it down.

Turkey Pot Pie
I ended up with three quart jars of broth (after reducing) . I used three and a half cups to make the pot pie. The rest went into the freezer. If I am doing deer bones I get a quarts and quarts of broth. In that case I will make all the broth and pressure can it.
Also, a cup of broth on a cold day makes a quick and healthy lunch.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Odds & Ends

I think things are going to dry out around here for the next few days. There is much that I need to do outside and I'd rather not do it knee deep in mud.
First on my list is to get caught up on the wash. I really need to get an inside clothes line put up. I don't have a dryer and we have had so much rain (not a complaint) these last weeks that it has been impossible to get clothes dry on the line outside.
I need to get another rabbit cage built which means laying yards of wire out on the ground. Having only built one, it takes me some time. I'd rather not do it in the rain and mud.
I have two 8x8 coops to get straightened up, new straw put down and fresh stuff in the nest boxes. 
The rabbit cages need cleaning and so do two smallish stalls in the little barn.
I have two roosters that need to be butchered as well as the last turkey. I'd like to, at least, get the roosters done today.
I sometimes think I'm the only one that has to play catch-up do to weather. My Grandmothers favorite saying "Make hay while the sun shines" rings in my head these days.

Monday, December 31, 2012


Winter Pond

Winter is dark, long, ugly, and depressing. 
That was my old way of viewing winter, it was almost more than I could take when we moved here seven years ago. I had no experience with the natural rhythm of nature. I did not understand the need of seasons. I've learned winter is a time of renewal and rest, not just for me, but for the land as well.
It's a time when things slow down, focus changes. A time for catching up on reading, time to sit and plan for summer gardens, summer projects, seed orders..
For the first time this year I caught myself saying "I'll be glad when winter comes".
Winter has it's own beauty. We don't get much snow here, but nature has a way of decorating without that. I love being able to see deep into the woods after the leaves have fallen. A cardinal, going mostly unnoticed in the summer, becomes a thing of real beauty sitting on leafless branch.
I tend to think of October as being the end of the year. I believe that most farmers, homesteaders, "back to the landers", what ever name makes you happy, feel the same about October. On the calender today is the last day of the old year and tomorrow the first day of the New Year. For me today is not about parties, going out on the town, wearing funny hats and blowing funny whistles (not there is a thing wrong with that). It's about quiet contemplation, counting my blessings and being able to see the last year in hind-sight. Seeing that most of the problems of last year were really blessings in disguise...
Whatever your idea of celebrating New Years, I hope you take a moment to reflect and be grateful.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Lemon Cuckoo Orpington

Lemon Cuckoo Orpington Chicks
 These are going to be beautiful chickens! 
As they get older they will get a bit darker and the cuckoo pattern will be a lot more pronounced. I have three hens and a rooster, I paid 10.00 per chick from a local breeder. It's the first time I've paid more than 3.00 for a chick, ever. I saw the parents, they are big and beautiful, the breeder told me he paid $300.00 for the pair.
I'm looking for a "good" dual purpose bird. Normally I would not consider Orpingtons for this purpose. I've had them in the past and although they were good egg layers I didn't consider them to be big enough for a table bird. I'm hoping these will fit the bill, time will tell.
If you're raising table birds I'd love to know what breed and why you like them.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Rabbit Time


As we all know good, clean, healthy, sustainable food is hard to come by these days. Raising as much of my own food as I can is a priority in my life. As a matter of fact dealing with food, the cleaning of coops and cages, feeding, watering, reading about and the cooking of food is pretty much where my time goes each day. I like knowing what my food was fed, that it had a good life, and how it was killed.
It's important!

After spending the summer getting my laying flock together the next logical step seemed to be rabbits. As with chickens they are a sustainable source of compost for the garden. I say compost but really I've been taking the hay and straw mixed with rabbit poo and putting it on the beds as a winter mulch. My grandmother kept meat rabbits, used the poo on her garden, her tomatoes were out of the world!

The little ones in the pic are about 6 weeks old. Two females and a male. I have an older female, she just turned 6 mo. old. Just as soon as the young buck gets old enough I will breed them. I got wire to make cages, instructions abound on line. The wire is not cheap by any means but cheaper than buying cages, and it's not at all difficult to do. I've made one, have wire for another, and need wire for two more. 

I've turned what use to be my studio into a barn. I can heat that in the winter so breeding year round should not be a problem. My husband built a frame out of 2x4 for the cages to sit on. It only takes a few minutes a day to take care of them. Before winter hit us I was putting the older one outside in a make-shift enclosure each day. The trouble with that, of course, was keeping an eye on her to make sure she didn't escape. I will have to figure out how to make that work for all of them this spring as I hate for them to be cooped up all the time.

They are fed pellet food free-choice, regular hay and right not alfalfa hay. They also get dandelions, parsley, carrot tops, pear and apple wood to keep their teeth in shape. I will add to the greens they get this spring, right now there is snow on the ground and green is not a plentiful color.

I like the fact that rabbits can be scaled up or down according to your needs. I also like the sustainability of them, I'll never have to buy another one. Push come to shove, as with chickens, they could be raised on natural food alone, although you would not get quick growth. The meat has great flavor and is very versatile. Easy to kill, skin and clean, I don't know this from personal experience but both my husband and son are hunters and have shot and processed a number of rabbits.
All in all I'm happy to add rabbits to my food supply. If you raise rabbits or are even thinking of it I'd love to hear from ya!