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!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Real Food

Homemade Mayonnaise
First time making homemade mayonnaise. I was surprised at how easy it was to do. It tastes nothing like "store bought" and it LOOKS nothing like store bought. Because I used my pastured eggs it came out very yellow, looking more like butter than the mayonnaise we are use to eating. Because I wanted this for turkey sandwiches I put a bit of dried thyme in.
Homemade mayonnaise this is the link where I got the instructions.
My son and I both like it, we're not mayonnaise junkies and this is very mild compared to the store bought stuff. My husband on the other hand, who is a big fan of store bought  is not fond of it. 
As far as I'm concerned it's earned a place in my fridge. I'll take real over fake processed every chance I get.
Of course, not being a commercially processed product filled with preservatives, it's not going to last a year in the fridge. I'm thinking about a week. How long it lasts is determined by how old the eggs are that you used to make it. My eggs were laid the same day. Having to make mayonnaise once a week is a small price to pay for being able to eat "Real Food".

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Rendering the Lard

Pig Fat

Do you render your own lard?

I recently found a local source for pastured pig fat. These people also sell grass fed beef, beef bones (for wonderful bone broth), also raw milk, butter, cheese, pastured pork and lots of other things. They have a drop off in town every Saturday which just happens to be the day we go to town. I'm thrilled to have finally found healthy food! I've been looking for grass fed meat and raw milk for a long time.  

Rendering your own lard is simple and healthy. I love it for baking, everything from brownies to wheat bread. All you do is chop the lard into small pieces, put it in a pot on simmer till the bits float. Strain out the bits, jar it up, and put it in the fridge.

Out of just a bit over 5 pounds of fat I got two quarts and almost a full pint. I pay $3.00 per pound of fat. It comes frozen and I keep it that way until I get ready to make the lard. It's a bit easier to chop if left a bit frozen. After chilling the lard will turn a beautiful cream color and become solid.


Now I know that there are a LOT of people who cringe at the thought of using lard for anything. I was the same way a few short years ago. I've done a lot of reading about real food and I would suggest you do the same. My favorite book on the subject is "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon. There is a wealth of good information in that book!

From Grass to Table

40 Pound Pastured Turkey

I said in an earlier post that I would not be raising any more turkey and listed the reason why. I've changed my mind!

This is Stomper, or was Stomper anyway. We killed him last Saturday so he could sit in the fridge for three days before going into the oven. I know it's hard to tell from the pic but your looking at 41 pounds of turkey! He was so big we had to buy a metal garbage can to scald him in before plucking. It took my husband, my son and myself to ready this bird for Christmas dinner. 

I didn't have a pan that came close to being big enough to cook this bird in (neither did any of our friends). My son came up with the idea of making our own pan from aluminum foil which we put on an oven rack. We poked holes in the foil so the juices could run into a pan on a lower rack. Then it occurred to me that this monster may not fit in the oven. On top of that I've never seen a 40 pound turkey much less cooked one. I decided the best way to cook it would be to put it in the oven on 250 degrees overnight. It took 14 hours! I turned off the oven and let it sit for another hour. 

Folks.. this was hands down the best turkey I've ever eaten! Wonderfully flavorful, tender and juicy beyond belief. The drippings were so rich they were almost black. We will get 11 meals from this bird! Soup, turkey pot pie, hot turkey an added bonus, I'll get about two gallons of rich bone broth as well.

The down side to all this is, I miss Stomper. He was a very vocal bird and more like a dog than a turkey. If I was outside Stomper was right with me, he liked to have his head patted, and was constantly under food. It was not easy to turn him into dinner, not for me, my husband or my son. In fact, he was supposed to be Thanksgiving Dinner, but none of us had the heart to end his life. The thing is he was raised to be food, not a pet. He had a good free-ranging life, and a humane death.

Why am I telling you all this.. maybe trying to work through the seasons and cycles of this way of life. Maybe to let those that don't yet know that this is not an easy way to live, but the most rewarding life there is. In this life you reap what you sew, I've always known this but nothing brings it home like trying to be responsible for your own food. If you don't plant it, you won't have it, if you don't preserve it, you won't have it, if you don't kill it, you won't have it, unless you buy it from someone else, I try to keep that to a minimum. 

At any rate, I was grateful to have raised this turkey and very grateful for the meals he will provide for my family. I don't see how I will ever eat another bland, flavorless, ill treated, antibiotic filled, disease ridden, toxic store bought turkey ever again. So if I want turkey for dinner I have no choice but to raise my own and take the good along with the bad.

I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas!

P. S 
As a side note, I checked the price on line for free-range turkey, our turkey would have cost us $280.00 (give or take).

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Turkey Days

Miss Turkey - Bourbon Red (Heritage Breed) 

I managed to get four turkey this year! Two Red Bourbon and two Standard Bronze. Both are heritage breads. The above pic is one of the Red Bourbons taking a dust bath in the bed I had just turned to plant fall kale. At one point I let them free-range, then someone told me that if a flock of wild turkey came along ours would join up with them. They now live in a big fenced run with lots of grass and bugs.
I won't be raising turkey like I had originally thought. I learned a few things that does not make it a wise choice for me!
One.. they are smart! Smarter than chickens.
Two.. they are personable, friendly and funny. Not at all like I thought they would be. They like being with people! That means it's going to be very hard for me to put them on the dinner table. Chickens are hard enough and they don't have near the personalities of turkey (in my opinion).
Three.. they eat a LOT and it takes them a long time to get to butcher weight. We like the way turkey tastes, but not enough to justify the extra expense above what it cost to raise a chicken. I know now why free-range, heritage birds go for 8.00 per pound!
In case your interested.. the standard bronze are bigger now than the Bourbon Red and they are two months younger. I can't believe the size difference in the breads.
On the garden front: I'm getting fall crops in, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, snow peas, carrots, kale, spinach and lettuce. I'm planting all the seed I have this year. The spring/summer garden was not at all what it has been in past years, the bugs came early and hit hard. The extreme heat and lack of rain in July didn't do anything to help. I shouldn't even mention lack of rain considering the horrible drought a lot of you are going through! Maybe fall will be kinder?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


What do you do with your leftover bread?

As I've said before, I don't buy store bought bread. Since I've got effort and time into my bread I hate to give it to the chickens. This is a picture of croutons I made this morning to go with the spring salad we will have with our venison strogonff for supper tonight.

A half a loaf of bread will net about half a mixing bowl of croutons. Simple to make and better than any you can buy at the store.
1/2 loaf of bread cubed
3Tbl of olive oil
3tbl of butter
1Tbl of garlic powder
1Tbl of green onion (dried)
1 tsp of garlic salt
1 Tbl of onion powder.
Mix all ingredients, pour over cubed bread and toss. Cook in 300-degree oven for 15 min. Stir and cook for another 15 min. or until golden brown. If you happen to have your own home-grown and ground spice so much the better.
These are delicious on salad!

I also make bread pudding and bread crumbs for stuffing. I have not tried drying them yet but am told they are very handy to have on the shelf.

I've got my pasta drying and will open a jar of venison I put up a few months ago. Dinner will be quick, easy, home grown, and good for you slow food. When I finish this post I'll be making Angle Food cake for desert. I've got such a glut of eggs right now and since it takes about 12 to make the cake it will reduce it some!

Hubby got 15-5 gal buckets of horse poo home Monday. I spent all of yesterday putting four buckets in the lower garden on one row and pulling weeds. A soft rain has been falling since last nite so it will be well watered in.

On a gardening note.. all the tomatoes and peppers I put in the garden froze! I half expected it but took the chance anyway. All I lost was a little time and a few cents worth of seeds. I have plenty of peppers left in cups and started more tomato seeds so I should be right on time!

Off to get that cake made. I hope you all are having a wonderful Wednesday!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ya Know How I know

It's Spring.. the inside is a mess.. the outside is a mess and I'm surrounded by things that needed to be done yesterday!!

The outside.. I've got 11 tomato plants in the ground and two zucchini so far. I've got more tomatoes but not sure how many? I've got peppers that are not quite ready to go out in the big world. I was going to mow the weeds but found the mower out of gas! I really, really need to mow at least around the beds and trailer cuz the ticks are ALIVE and well! I hate ticks! They creep me out! Throughout the winter I lay all my cardboard in between the beds. Everything cardboard, cracker boxes, cat food boxes, cardboard packing boxes.. in the spring I cover it all with grass clippings and you never know the cardboard is there. Until I do that it looks like a dump. I don't really care but it really bothers my husband! It serves to keep the weeds down though. Various 5-gallon buckets sitting around some with horse poo some that use to hold horse poo. I did empty the water out of the empties and turned them up side down so the misquotes could not use them as nurseries.

Meanwhile inside.. I've decided to start a quilt for my brother as a Christmas gift. I've got lots of totes filled with cotton fat quarters sitting every where. I've pulled the kitchen table into the living room and it holds my iron, my sewing machine, a cutting mat, and cutter, various rulers and marking tools, more fat quarters and two buckets filled with seeds that will be planted next week. The kitchen is clean but only because I have a load of chopped onion in the dehydrator. Wash needs to be done, carpets need to be vacuumed and we won't even talk about dusting. I did put all the books I had piled on the end table next to my bed away .. no time for reading now.. It's Spring!!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fun.. Fun.. Fun

Nesco Dehydrator

Five med/large grated dehydrated potatoes with green onions on a 12" dinner plate

Chives about half done in the dehydrator
I had intended to can most of the garden this year. My goal is not using the freezer for preserving our food. After playin with the dehydrator yesterday and today I think I will be drying a lot of things. From what I have read there is more nutrition in the dried food as opposed to canning.

I re-rehydrated some of the potatoes for last nites dinner and honestly I could not tell the difference in taste compared to fresh. I see this as a way of making more fast "slow" food. Also as a way of saving space which I have very little of.

I've heard you can dehydrate meat, eggs and even milk but I have a lot of research to do before I try that! Also properly dried and stored dehydrated food lasts a long time, serval people said 30 years, I take that with a grain of salt? I still have a lot to learn but this really looks promising and I'm excited about another way of storing our food.

If any of you have tips I would love to hear them!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Meat & Bread

I canned up the rest of the venison I had in the freezer yesterday. This is the second time I’ve canned meat and it was a LOT less stressful than the first! I reviewed Jackie Clay’s instruction (Jackie Clay) and got all my stuff set out and ready (I failed to do that the first time so there was some scrambling). It went very smooth and quick. I did have a jar break which made a big mess and I’m not quite sure why that happened but I’m not stressing about it. I ended up with 9 pints of meat. One of the jars did not seal so I made BBQ out of it for dinner and it was wonderful. So I got to add 8 jars of meat to my little pantry.

While I was waiting for the pressure canner to do it’s thing (75minutes) I made a loaf of bread, actually two loaves but one was devoured for BBQ sandwiches.

Today I will be going through my tomato and pepper seeds to see which will get a place in the garden. It’s time to get them started! The broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and leeks did fairly well in the compost but I think I will add a bit of perlite to it for the pepper and tomato seeds.

I’m curious what kind of bug year it will be. I don’t think the lack of winter is going to be a good thing! I’ve already got cabbage worms munching out on my Russian Kale that grew all winter. I think I’m going to do a fall crop of cabbage, kale, broccoli and cauliflower. I think a latter planting under row covers (which I’ve never used) is the only way I’m going to get any yield!

Wishing everyone a fruitful day!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

More Books

Added two new books to my book list. 

The Holistic Orchard and Mycelium Running. I've read the first chapter of each and both are very interesting!

I have two peach trees, two pear trees and one apple. I also have two pecan trees, which are too young to produce. All of the fruit trees have bad problems. The peach produce really well, loads of peaches but chock full of worms! Yuck! The pear produce very small fruit and not many of them. The apple has never given us a single fruit. My husband's boss keeps telling me if I want fruit I have to spray. I finally told him if that were my only option I'd just chop them down. The thing is he doesn’t get much fruit from his apple even with his spraying. So.. I'm putting all reading aside and concentrating on the Holistic Orchard. I imagine it's much too late to get any fruit this year but maybe next?

I have three more books that will be here tomorrow and that will be the end of book buying until I get caught up. That will prolly happen next winter!

It's Coming

Spring will be here soon!

The first daffodils are blooming...

The layer of ice on the pond is finally gone..

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Seeds and Soap

Only about half of the seeds I started last month came up, or so I thought. When I watered them this morning I found a slug munching out!! It must have been in the compost I used. So I got him out and re-planted some of the seeds that I thought did not come up. My son told me to sterilize my compost but I didn’t want to take a chance on killing my good organisms. Such is life..

I will be starting more seeds today, mostly medicinal herbs. I have been studying herbs for healing on and off for about 20 years now. I think it’s time I quit reading and started doing. I know there are a lot of reputable people selling dried herbs but I prefer to grow my own. As with veggies and meat and eggs, if you grow your own you know what you’re getting.

I placed another seed order. I have 164 different packs of seeds. That sounds like an awful lot but.. some are cover crops, some medicinal herbs, quite a few veggies and then there is seed I will be planting for the chickens and rabbits. So not really a lot of seeds.

I’m getting ready to make my own soap again. It’s been a few years since I’ve made any. Not fancy molded soaps, not melt and pour, not funky colored soap, just good bars of soap made with my infused herb oils. Honest and earthy slabs of soap that are actually good for your skin. I first have to find my folder, which contains my recipes and notes.

While I’m waiting for it to warm up a bit outside I’m going to get the first thing on my to do list started..bread.

Friday, January 27, 2012


I just added two new books to my list. The Self-Sufficient Life by John Seymour and Harvey Ussery's Small-Scale Poultry Flock. They were on sale and I've wanted them for a while so I got them yesterday.
I don't think I've read as much in my whole life as I have in the last four years (and I like to read)!

I like books but since I got my first computer hooked to the net I've found most of the information I need on there. This last year or two I've gone back to buying books as there may come a time that I will not be able to access on-line information. So I think it wise to have the valuable information in hand.

I am also reading "Folks This Aint Normal" by Joel Salatin but I've got that on the computer, a kindle app from Amazon lets you down load some books to your puter as if it were a Kindle. This is cheaper and there is no shipping. I do this if I'm not going to use the book for reference. Don't get me wrong, this is a great book, very entertaining, full of facts and references which I write down in my note book but I would not call it a reference book.

I normally get a lot of reading done during the winter months. That has not happened this year. Spring is here (almost!), I've got seeds in compost, I've got to get my grow light set up, finish planning the garden and I'm spring cleaning now cuz in another month I won't have time for it. Normally I don't say where did this winter go?? Where did summer go, what happened to spring and wasn't it a short fall, but never do I say such things about winter.

Today it's cold, rainy and the wind is blowing. I'm not cleaning today. I'm going to make a cup of tea, finish the garden plan and read..

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Starting Seeds

Started seeds today!

Celery (which I have never grown), cabbage, leek, cauliflower, and broccoli. I've never had much luck getting the broccoli and cauliflower to grow for me. I always get them in too late. I'm starting them under lights this year but I think they should have been started the beginning of the month. I'm just starting a few of each as an experiment. Don't want to waste precious bed space if they don't produce before it gets too hot for them. I've never started seeds indoors under lights before so I'm curious how this will all work.

I didn't have any seed starting medium so I am using pure compost (the other part of the experiment). I've read on some of the garden forums that compost works great. On the other hand I've read that it didn't do so good. We will see!

Saturday, January 21, 2012


With or without a recipe, most of what I cook comes out well. Can’t say that about these calzone though!!


Preparedness seems to be on a lot of peoples minds.

I’m sitting here on January 21and it is raining like crazy. It’s not the rain that makes me think but the thunder and lightening. In almost six-years of living here we have not had thunder this time of year. To say that the weather is screwy is an understatement!

I’m not the type of person to worry about what has yet to happen. Like most people I’ve heard what may or may not happen this coming winter solstice, I’ve heard about what bad shape the power gird is in, the volcanoes that may irrupt and take us all out, the list of "might happen" could fill a book. I don’t pay much attention to this stuff, I’m not scared, worried, or depressed about it. What would be the point in that? Fear, worry and depression keep you trapped and immobilize, keep you from doing what needs doing.

I’ve got plans for this garden season. I want to raise fryers (I only have layers now), turkey, and rabbits and increase my garden space. I plan on getting a hand powered grain mill and a pour through water purifier. I’m going to build an earth oven and bake sourdough bread. I’m going back to making my own soaps and laundry detergents. From the outside looking in you might think I’m preparing for something big. You would be right, I am. I’m buying the tools and learning the things that will make me more self-reliant and enable me to live the life I want to live. Will this make me more prepared in a bad situation? Of course, not only will I be able to help myself but also my family, my neighbors and people I do not yet know

A great blog on being prepared "The Just In Case Book Blog". Kathy Harrison is full of information and ideas.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Spinach past drying on a repurposed antique clothes drying rack.

I’ve been making homemade pasta the last few months in an effort to cut down on what I have to buy from the grocery store. My family loves it but I could never find a way to dry it enough to be able to store it out of the freezer (I have a small freezer). (I have no idea why this is bold but I can't fix it so it stands??)

I love antiques, especially wood. Some years ago my mother bought for me an antique clothes-drying rack. It sat around for years as it’s much too old and fragile to actually use for it’s intended purpose. BUT it makes a great drying rack for pasta!
Pasta doesn’t take long to make (once you get the hang of it), I use my kitchen aid for the dough and I have a hand-cranked pasta roller and cutter. It’s much better than store bought. For one thing I don’t have to remember to buy it! It’s fresh and the possibilities are endless. You can put any spices you like in the dough, add spinach, carrot, or even dried tomatoes and you get to choose how thick you want it.

The Italian Dish has a quick video and complete instructions if you’ve never done it before.

Try it! You will love it!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I finally gave in and ordered a dehydrator. I can’t wait to get it even if all I can do is look at it till this summer. Actually I may try doing venison jerky, maybe not too.

I’ve been told that drying food retains more of the nutrients than canning and I’m all for that. Also it has a much longer shelf life and takes up much less storage space than freezing or canning.

We have a lot of wild raspberries and blackberries plus the strawberries I cultivate. Curious how that will work out. Thinking maybe fruit leathers but will have to do more research into that.

Also think it will be great for drying herbs, medicinal as well as culinary.

Would love to hear from those of you drying your own food.

Monday, January 16, 2012


In case you don’t know Etsy is an on-line place to sell handmade items. I make lampwork beads and sell them in my store there. It’s fairly easy to set up your own store and there is quite a bit of traffic on this site.

I know there are a lot of people who make wonderful items and thought I would introduce Etsy to those who do not know about it.

This is a sample of what I make.

So check it out. It’s a great place to buy as well as sell. I would love to know what you all craft to make a few extra bucks and if you sell it on line.

As always, thanks for visiting!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Slow Food Becomes Fast Food

I’m ashamed to admit this but one of the hardest things about moving here was the lack of "fast food". No Macdonalds, Dairy Queen, Arbys, Burger King! In town they have these places but really, an hour round trip and a wait in line hardly qualifies as "fast food" to me.

So, I finally found a way to make slow food into fast food. I learned to can venison stew meat and broth. Last nite I made a 30-minute venison stew with kale, carrots, and frozen green beans from my garden. Onion and potatoes from the store as mine did not do too well this year. I opened a jar of stew meat and a quart jar of broth, put it all together, added bread I made the day before and had dinner. I can tell you it was the best stew I’ve ever eaten, better than anything you could get "out" and for pennies a serving. Not to mention it was actually good for us!

Yeah, canning the meat takes some time (not that much if you divide the time by the number of jars you can fit into your pressure canner) but there is something very satisfying about having good safe food on the shelf that can become a fast nutritious meal.

This is a link to the article by Jackie Clay on canning meat -

In case you’re wondering it’s been a long time, around 5 years, since I’ve eaten any fast food!