Why So Silent? Zoom Zoom Zoom! (Spring/Summer Garden Report)

Boy Howdy, it’s been a bountifully blessed year here on the farm.  In only a few days, it will be a year exactly since we arrived, but I was actually speaking about our awesome spring and summer garden.  I’ve been so busy processing our bounty that I haven’t had the ample time to really share my continually growing experience with you.

Since my last post, I’ve processed so many veggies so many ways, that I’m at a panting crawl.  Well, that and the heat…Gardening in August in Texas is a cruel existence, lemme tell ya!  But with our tomatoes, okra, melons and peppers still poppin’, we do what we have to do…well, sometimes.  Thankfully, we have pigs to help when we can’t drag ourselves outside, or process veggies in time.  You really have a 1-2 day window to properly process most veggies.  And while it’s best to clean and process immediately after picking, early in the morning, with one to two hands working, sometimes, it’s just not possible.

We began by pickling cucumbers…dill, kosher, spicy, sweet, relish…you name it, we did it!  Then the squash and zucchinis began coming in, and we canned, froze or pickled them through out the season.  We canned whole tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, condensed tomato soup, pasta sauce, stewed tomatoes, “rotel” style tomatoes, pickled cherry tomatoes (not perfected, they bust), salsa, tomato juice cocktail and tomato soup base, and we froze roasted tomatoes with our onions and garlic.  We canned and also froze packs of our purple hulls which also had some creamed peas and blackeyed peas mixed in because the co-op purple hull peas were um…more like a mix!  But hey, we have PLENTY of each type of seed, and we will sort them out so that we have rows of each type to can individually next time.

We made spiced peaches and peach salsa.  We canned a few pints of figs.  We pickled, candied, and/or dried our massive variety of peppers.  Are you ready?  Here I go:  Gypsy, Red Bell, Yellow Bell, Green Bell, Big Bertha Bell, Cayenne, Habanero, Jalapeno, Hatch, Cherry, I have a feeling I’m missing one.  Oh and okra, pickled or cut and breaded/frozen for frying.

What we don’t eat, we process and either store or give to our extended family.  This year, underground water lines made all the difference.   And this fall, we will see what life is like under the high tunnel.  Oh goodness, I forgot our canned corn, and frozen cobs.  The rain was awesome this year, and we had many pollinators buzzing around doing their work all day, every day.  We’ve even begun processing our butternut squash!  We are awaiting our melons and cantaloupe while we prep the ground for our fall/winter garden.  We’re a little late getting a few things in the ground…my hamster wheel is malfunctioning!

The sawdust bedding really made the no-splash effect nice, so that cleaning veggies was a breeze.  Our melons and cantelopes are steadily growing on the arbor, and our chicken coop is just growing into a mega-chicken complex.  If they had stuck to the original plans, it would’ve been done, but it keeps growing and growing and growing and….well, you get the picture.

Speaking of pictures, I thought I’d share a couple of my favorite pictures of my canning adventures with you.  So sit back, scroll down, and enjoy. 

Shiny happy Yum-Yum

Shiny happy Yum-Yum

dill-pickled cherry tomatoes...not a hit.  But pretty!

dill-pickled cherry tomatoes…not a hit. But pretty!

A coveted jar of FIGS!  Mmmmmm!  My life-long favorite.

A coveted jar of FIGS! Mmmmmm! My life-long favorite.

can sexy apply to peppers?

can sexy apply to peppers?

Tangy Italian Tomato Salad

Tangy Italian Tomato Salad

Dill relish in the making

Dill relish in the making

My version of ratatouille

My version of ratatouille, before being baked.

more of our peppers...aha!  Banana peppers, I knew I was missing something!

more of our peppers…aha! Banana peppers, I knew I was missing something!

Bisquick Zucchini Bread, um...yum!

Bisquick Zucchini Bread, um…yum!

Stuffed Zucchini...you can stuff those puppies with all kinds of goodies!!

Stuffed Zucchini…you can stuff those puppies with all kinds of goodies!!

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We Thank God for This Good Season!  And I thank you for stopping by!

Until Next Time,
Vaya con Dios!

 

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Babes in Bluebonnets

Just a quick post to share a few shots I took today while playing with the bunnies and chicks. I hope they are a feast for your eyes.

Th-th-th-th-th-th-that’s all folks!

Savory Butternut Squash Casserole

Fun with Butternut Squash

Fun with Butternut Squash

 

I am constantly experimenting in the kitchen.  Moving to the farm only enhanced such experiments, and I want to share new recipes that I create here, with you all.  This summer, we baked, pureed, and froze a lot of butternut squash.  Aside from yummy spice cakes and other baked sweets, butternut squash is also a great accompaniment to savory dishes, from stir-fry to casserole.  Below is a casserole I created where butternut squash is the harmonious star of the dish.  It is delicious and quite easy to make.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 chub Jimmy Dean Sage Breakfast Sausage

2 roasted gypsy peppers, diced

3-4 cups butternut squash puree

6-8 slices of bakery-style jalapeño cheese bread

1/2 red onion, diced

Salt/pepper (about 1/2 Tbsp ea.)

1/4-1/2 c. savory bread crumbs

 

I started by cutting the bread slices into cubes and toasting them on low heat while browning a chub of Jimmy Dean’s sage sausage in a skillet on the stove. ( It’s my favorite breakfast pan sausage, so as time goes on and I share more of my recipes, you will note that I enjoy cooking with JD’s sage sausage.)  The bread serves as a binder in the dish, and adds a nice surprise burst of warm heat.

After the sausage is broken up pretty well and almost completely browned, I added the diced roasted gypsy peppers.  You could roast a red, yellow or orange bell pepper, if you cannot get your hands on a delicious gypsy pepper.

In a separate bowl, you can fold the toasted jalepeno croutons (what they have become, through toasting) into your butternut squash puree.  Add the diced red onions, salt and pepper and continue to fold until everything is evenly coated with the puree.  You can use a white or yellow onion, if you do not have red onions on hand, but I prefer the flavor of the red onion in dishes like this.  The red onion counterbalances the sweetness of the butternut squash, taming it into a nice savory bite.

After the sausage/gypsy pepper mix is thoroughly browned, drain any excess grease with a strainer, and then add the strained meat mix into the puree mix and stir until nice and mixed.  Pour mix into a greased rectangular casserole dish, cover evenly with thin layer of bread crumbs, spray with coconut oil spray (or olive oil spray), and bake at 375F for 45-55 minutes.

If you notice the top is browning too fast, place a sheet of foil over the dish to protect the top.

Let dish cool for 5-10 minutes, cut and serve.  Great with a side of purple hull peas.

I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy this delicious dish with the ones you love, very soon!

Until next time, this is the Crazy Chicken Lady, signing OFF!!

Vaya con dios

Progress is a Beautiful Thing

Pretty kohlrabi

Pretty kohlrabi

Another weekend is history and March is less than five days away! I never fail to question where the time went, but I can see through progress, that time is being spent well, here on the farm. We do piddle slower than some folk, not in too much of a hurry that we can’t enjoy a few minutes here and there just admiring the beauty that surrounds us. After all, it is well known that slow and steady wins the race, and though this human race is a long one, I’m sure the finish line will be sweet to happen upon one day.

Life is precious, in all it’s forms, and when it ends, suddenly, whether at the beginning of life or after much time on earth, there is reason to mourn. On the farm, we’ve experienced some failed incubating, and some peepers just weren’t strong enough to recover from the hard work of breaking free from their shell womb. We’ve lost a few heads of cabbage to a horrid pest that has to be uncovered, before the damage is realized. The same garden pest eliminated a few of our cauliflower heads as well. Alas, death is an avoidable part of life and serves it’s mysterious purposes as well.

Our 10 bunny rabbits are still hoppin’-happy. They are such a fabulous distraction from chores that I have accidentally added about 30 minutes to my daily rounds, just cuddling and giggling with the sweet babies. SuperMama is back in her own cage and getting geared up to be mated again. With Daphne and Ms. Bunny No-Name still expecting…note to self: It doesn’t do any good to mark the calendar if you’re going to mark it wrong!

SuperMama's SuperStar

SuperMama’s SuperStar


LillyBelle and a sampling of our first blooms

LillyBelle and a sampling of our first blooms

We’re hoping for plenty of chicks and bunnies to sell at the local Farmer’s Market for Easter. If all of my equipment comes in, I will also be selling a very special product that my Mom and I have been working on and honing. I’m still keeping this a secret, until I test a few markets, but personally, I have never had better! Ooooh, the mystery!!

I mulched and watered our fruit trees and roses and all our greenhouse greenery, and anticipate pulling them all out very soon! We need room to start our tomatoes and peppers! Dad and the boys did more work in the garden, preparing the ground for corn and squash, tomatoes, melons and much more. Even though this weekend was best for weeding and pruning, they planted a long row of purple hull peas and I planted mesclun, spinach, and romaine lettuce. We weeded around the onions, and hilled around the cabbages. I still need to do more hilling of the broccoli and cauliflower. There is always more work to be done, but nothing is more rewarding than reaping the rewards of gardening.

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The past week was filled with dishes inspired by our garden and chickens. I made a divine butternut squash casserole, and will post the recipe very soon. Keep your eye out for it. We’ve enjoyed our broccoli and carrots and chickens in a delicious pasta bake, and salads, complete with boiled eggs and fresh lettuces, carrots, broccoli and radishes, also from our garden. And as usual, our chickens, rabbits, pigs, and ducks have reaped many healthy benefits from our greens and scraps, as well.

I see buds on the redbud trees and our flower gardens are beginning to burst with color, ah the signs of spring are always such a welcome sight. As I write, it is rather gray out, and it is definitely cooler than yesterday, where I noted many a drops of sweat falling from my brow, while weeding. The free birds are just singing non-stop, such joyful odes to the return of spring.

My Dad scored several free cedars for posts. These posts will flank the long chicken run. He has taught me that it doesn’t take much to cut costs. All you have to do is be observant and bold. Always be on the look-out for resources, and if they aren’t on the side of the road for trash, then just ask. The worst thing that can happen is that you’ll be told no. Our neighbor cut down many trees, clearing their land, and all Dad and the boys had to do was clean the cedars up and move the logs out.

He has a system going now that started soon after our arrival and my interest in working the garden with him. He has a carpenter that bags saw dust for him to pick up, he has tree trimmers dump mulch in our outer fields to season, and he then trades with the saw dust for other necessities…and/or extra chickens. This is the same man who bartered with the doctor who delivered me. The doctor was paid a nice smoker-grill for his services. That doesn’t happen anymore!

I realize not everyone is as skilled as my dad is in selling his perspective and goals, but I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with him and learning from him, as he pursues lofty dreams and visions of grandeur—farm style. If only everyone were on board, we might actually take flight sooner, rather than later. But there’s that pesky little element, called time, that has a way of changing and re-arranging things, so I’ll just go with the flow and learn what I can in the process.

Dad will pick up anything that he thinks he might one day utilize. I used to scoff at him, especially as a teen, when he’d make me wait in the truck while he jumped in the dumpster after a piece of lumber or scrap metal. But in getting the garden together, last fall, I began to see the method in his madness. He pulled out some rebar from one of his piles to use in mounting the low tunnels. I used to get in trouble for trouncing over the piles of those long metal rods, as a young child. He would warn me of snakes, and of the dangers of getting hurt or sick with tetanus, but mostly, he would get frustrated that I was going to somehow mess up his treasures. Fast forward 30 years, and he finally found the perfect use for a few of them.

He’s the tidiest of hoarders, and has running inventories, just as he had of his fittings and pipes during his plumbing days. I truly hope my boys learn all they can from him. He’s a big reason I moved my family to this farm. I knew he was just what the doctor ordered for my boys. It’s a messy world out there, and it is my hopes that my boys will be fully equipped to not only survive, but thrive, as grown men. So many skills are being lost in the wind. I want more for my boys than what a city could offer them. As a gal who started life in the country, I valued my upbringing, as it has served me well.

I’ve seen some progress in my sons’ growth and maturity, in the five months we’ve been here. A lot of resistance, but I think they’re wearing a little. It’s starting to sink in that the decision I made was made out of love and hope. One day, I believe that they will look back on this time in their life with nothing but gratitude. But until then…pray for us all! Ha!

And on that note, this is the Crazy Chicken Lady, signing OFF!

"You mess with me, you get the chicken!"

“You mess with me, you get the chicken!”

Vaya con Dios

Spring Prep: Warm Weather Welcome

What a difference a day can make! We started this week with dreary, gray chilliness, and are ending it, shining in the sun! You’ve gotta love Texas’ two-step path to Spring, cold-cold-hot, cold-cold-hot… But hey, who can complain? (Most Texans!!) At least we’ve got a nice swinging variety to keep us twirling into the shortest season on a Texan’s calendar.

Chaca, the wild hog, has been retired from her position as roto-tiller and is now relaxing in a shady spot, south of the garden plots. The rafters of the future chicken coup/well house combo went up today, and we planted a nice long row of potatoes as well as red/white/yellow onions, radishes and nasturtium. We will be steadily plotting and planting in the coming days, getting a nice start on our spring/summer garden. It was so lovely today that we uncovered the low tunnels and watered the winter garden for the first time this year.

Our winter garden is still yielding nicely. Tonight I incorporated some delicious kale into a rich potato soup that included beer, cream, broth, sage breakfast sausage and bacon, and herbs and spices because, well, WE LOVE FOOD! Last night it was a tasty spinach quiche, using our spinach and our farm fresh free-range eggs. I feel like Popeye! I have the strength of 10,000 men!!

Okay, I don’t, but I know that I am feeding my family the best of the best, and in that, I feel very blessed.

Our broccoli is on tomorrow’s menu, as are our carrots. Every other day, I feed all of our free-range and caged chickens and rabbits some of our garden greens, whether they be our various lettuces, or kale, turnip or mustard greens, as well as radish greens. Our radishes are massive, and still crisp and tasty. I was lucky enough to get a picture of our turnips before I misplaced my phone. I have become a greens maniac, and love making a big ol’ pot of greens…with a lot of bacon, of course.

Giant, delicious turnips

Giant, delicious turnips


Speaking of bacon, our hogs have been processed and are now in bits and pieces in the freezer, awaiting my culinary finesse. I am awaiting some invisible form of inspiration!

I know I’ll be grinding again soon. We have some sausage to make with the hog and venison. But other things take priority, and right now, we have a garden to plant and a coop and run to build, and well, other things will surely pop up to attempt or succeed in thwarting best made plans, as per usual. Murphy’s Law or something, isn’t it? I’m not sure, but it has been the way of the day for quite a while now. It seems to be the season I’m in.

God’s been working on my whole “control freak” persona. He’s steadily remodeling each of us, and in this case, I think He’s teaching me to “roll with it, baby”. Several things have popped up in the past six months, that in the past would’ve sent me into a foot-stomping, my-way-or-the-highway tizzy. I really am a girl who has always liked controlling my surroundings, and I never really so readily recognized the personality flaw until I faced getting to know and help the chickens!

Just saying “No” to things such as butchering venison and cleaning chicken poop/beheading chickens, seemed utterly non-sensical, if I were to become a true farm-person. Time to toughen up Nelly in a whole new way. And time to let go and go with the natural flow, instead of creating unneeded waves.

God seems to be using a friend of mine in this plan of His to elevate me to the next level of servitude and gratitude. Her visits alone bring about a form of forced domestication, of which does not come natural to me. But during this most recent visit, she began, what became a sudden increase in creatures on the farm.

You see, I’m not sure she even realized how crazy she was, until I reacted to the gift she brought to my youngest son. Recognizing my son’s love for animals, she saw no reason not to get him the perfect gift. I mean after all, he had captured an alligator turtle and kept it for a time as a pet for a time…and Pawpaw brought a wild hog to live on the farm. These people are running a happy little menagerie. They’ll barely even notice the addition and it will bring even more joy into their home.

She was right by the way…but the adults’ collective initial reaction was enough to scare my friend away for good. She brought my son a rat. A cute little baby rat named Coconut, complete with a cage and food. She brought my son a R-O-D-E-N-T. All my life, I only saw rats as a nuisance and believed the only place they belonged was stuck in a trap. I have even poisoned a few.

Yes, I had a very poor reaction to my friend’s thoughtful, but insanely crazy gift idea! My Dad’s reaction was even-keel with my own. He even told her, in jest, (we hope-ha ha) that she wasn’t allowed back on his property again.

But I must say, Coconut is a source of enjoyment for the boys and he’s survived his first week on the farm, fat and happy.

Speaking of fat, my Dad, who is also pretty crazy, brought home a year-old pot-bellied pig named Patty. Obviously, this is not an edible, or in my personal opinion, a useful creature, and yet, it is here, I suppose for the same reason as Coconut—free(ish) entertainment.

Personally, I didn’t miss the pig squeals after Dad had to put his last pot-bellied bellower down, due to chronic pain from being crippled during a surgery. I must admit, these additions have me scratching my head, but I’m rolling with it. I’ve seen smiles produced due to both Coconut and Patty the Pig, and I’m all about happy family members. So let the smiles continue. I am not going to put my foot down…at least not for now.

On the feathered end of the farm, we’ve welcomed a Buff Orpington hen, a Black Orpington hen, and a supposed Cuckoo Maran hen. Her feet are orange and Cuckoo Maran’s feet are supposed to be black. She looks exactly like Old Mama, who is believed to be a Barred Plymouth Rock.

The original owners were duped and thusly attempted to unknowingly dupe my dad. We’re keeping them caged, separate from our other flocks for a bit, just to make sure they are healthy. There are a lot of chicken illnesses out there, and our birds are happy and healthy, so we’re gonna make sure we do all we can to keep them that way.

My crazy friend's sweet and brave daughter loving on our khaki quackies

My crazy friend’s sweet and brave daughter loving on our khaki quackies

The ducks finally have their quacks! Little changes like this are so easy to notice when you’re in a place teeming with life. From the bunnies and their ever-elongating ears to the bees buzzing around the broccoli blossoms, I love the ever-changing cycle of life and it’s just absolutely magnified here. Spring is definitely in the air, I can feel the power of new life whizzing in the breeze like electricity. This has been a long, cold winter, and this bear’s ready to get out of the cave to stay!!

Speaking of bears, my cubs are demanding my attention. They want to make chocolate-covered bananas. If anything is going to pry me away from writing, it’s chocolate. So until next time, this is the Crazy Chicken Lady, signing OFF!

Vaya con Dios!

PS Plant root crops when the moon is waning, or decreasing.

Our First Winter Garden

I thought I would give you all a break from my chicken talk, and focus for a moment, instead, on our bountiful winter garden.  Gardening can give one a really unique perspective on life.  The wins, the losses, the pruning of the vines.  You begin to understand some of God’s more questionable maneuvers or at least see them in a different light.

First off, I need to confess a few things.  No matter how much you wish for compliance, not all of your family members are going to be as excited or helpful as you are about this garden.  You may get lucky and have a few happy helpers, but you are going to get a lot of whining and moaning too, unless everyone involved is over 25!!  In my little utopian fantasy, I saw all 8 of us planting and picking, laughing and enjoying each other’s company and keeping pace.  This is why I hardly watch movies anymore. They set you up for failure!

Secondly, it is important to plant crops at the appropriate time for your area. This year, we planted the following: broccoli, garlic, onions, carrots, radishes, beets, turnips greens, mustard greens, kale, spinach, red leaf lettuce, baby butter heads, arugula, spicy Cali greens, cabbage, kohlrabi, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, Alaska and assorted peas and beans, sweet potatoes and purple, red and white potatoes.

In the beginning...

In the beginning…

Our pig rooted up the sweet potatoes right away, so that ended that quick! Our chickens will not let the majority of our broccoli rise above 2 inches. We only have about a quarter of the broccoli still thriving that we began with. And that is only because the chickens are full by the time they get to that point in the first row.

Right now, the broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts are dormant. But we expect to have a great March-April harvest! The onions and garlic will be ready to pick about that time as well.

My dad tested the soil and added nitrogen and other nutrients to boost the soil content for the seeds to sprout. Through out the season, mulch, saw dust and a little miracle grow was added to encourage the best results. The first crop to produce a harvest was the radishes. We know now to stagger planting radishes, so they are not all ready at the same time.

Our harvest of radishes produced several big mamma-jammas

Our harvest of radishes produced several big mamma-jammas

Everything was coming up roses! Our hearts (dad’s and mine, mostly) danced in delight as all the leafy greens sparkled in the sunlight. We began to enjoy baby greens as well. I had never eaten greens before, after being forced to eat them as a child (do y’all remember canned Popeye’s Spinach?! Blech!). But as with so many other culinary delights, my taste buds have matured and I gave greens another try. I’ve grown to like them too, especially when I use the recipe my sister gave me.

One day, I might be kind enough to share my winter garden recipes with you, as through experimenting, I have really pleased our palates this fall/winter.

in full bloom

in full bloom

Things changed after the freeze snaps began. Within the first or second snap, we lost our entire summer garden. This was to be expected on one hand, but on another, the tomatoes had really started making a comeback. Boy, was that a heartbreaking day. Dad and I silently folded the clothes we had covered the tomatoes, butternut squash, eggplants, and a plethora of peppers with as we silently mourned our summer friends.

After the third freeze, all but the Alaska peas survived (like duh, haha!) in our bean and pea field, so we set the boys to move the loops to the winter garden. In the winter garden, the spinach was not fairing well. Even with the covering we provided that delicate crop, the spinach just couldn’t handle the unseasonably frigid Texas temps.

They are still hanging in there, but the leaves are all spotted brown with what I believe to be freeze-burn.

The kale are a different story. They just seem to get more lush and beautiful as the snaps come. They are native to Siberia, so that also makes sense! We recently enjoyed kale and beet chips, but I usually put kale in soups, and quiches. Not too much either, because it is a strong flavor not all enjoy. I especially like it in a sausage potato soup. But that’s just me!

Frosty, Happy-Happy-Happy Kale

Frosty, Happy-Happy-Happy Kale

As for beets, we planted them for Mama. The chips were bearable, but I’m not a beet fan and never will be. Now if we are talking beet dye…that’s a whole other ball game!!

By this time, we were enjoying our lettuces, as well as turnips, which can be used like a water chestnut in stir fries, and is a MARVELOUSLY surprising filler in meatloaf!! Try it, I dare ya! I think turnips are so pretty. We are growing the purple-top variety and it looks like a shiny baseball, only half purple and half white. I love baseball! But that’s not really relevant here.

I don't use this word often...but is this some sexy lettuce or what?!!!

I don’t use this word often…but is this some sexy lettuce or what?!!!

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Our rabbits LOVE Rocket Arugula

Our rabbits LOVE Rocket Arugula

Next were the kohlrabi and carrots. I use kohlrabi like broccoli, which it is very similar to, in taste and texture. I learned to treat it like a potato, peeling the skin off before cooking it. It’s great in stews, stirfries, blanched…like I said, think broccoli. At first our carrots were not that sweet, but as they’ve grown and as the cold days have lingered, they are getting better and better!

The night before the “polar vortex” touched Texas, the boys covered the hoops over the winter veggies. Up until this point, aside from the spinach, we had not covered the winter garden. It was a pure pleasure to see our veggies thrive in such cold conditions, but after having a cabbage head turn to mush due to a surprise freeze, dad was done taking chances!

We did not eat our cabbage for New Year's Day, but they will be ready to enjoy in the near future

We did not eat our cabbage for New Year’s Day, but they will be ready to enjoy in the near future

Did I mention our potatoes? Dad dug most of them up after the second or third freeze. The ones that were not affected were delicious, but immature…winter really isn’t the time for peas, beans, nor potatoes.

I am hoping that this new year brings new attitudes around the farm concerning farm work. I realize I drug my children and husband onto this farm with high hopes and great expectations, but I also know nothing is impossible with God! I feel like these experiences can only enhance and enrich their lives as well as nutritionally providing the best for them.

I’ll admit, it’s kind of ridiculous of me to have expected a smooth transition, but it’s slowly getting better. Everyone is slowly getting with the program, each in their own ways and own fields.

I want to thank you for stopping by my blog today. I hope you leave with new knowledge and with a smile…and I hope ya come back now, ya hear?!!

Until then, Vaya con Dios!

This is the Crazy Chicken Lady signing OUT!!

New Year, New Blog…Welcome Readers

There are times in life that take you by surprise, and I’m in one of those stages.  I have worn many hats in this life: daughter, sister, wife, mother, singer, songwriter, painter, chef, preschool teacher, etc., but no one could’ve convinced me that chicken farmer was in my life’s blueprint.  That being said, I have gladly accepted the challenges and rewards of my newest “hat”.

In this blog, I plan on sharing my on-going experiences with chicken raising and gardening, and anything else I learn along the way.  For instance, I recently butchered a couple deer my son brought in.  Later, I further broke down the venison in our meat grinder, added pork and pork fat and then, my Dad and I pressed the mixed meat and seasoning into casings for sausage, with an old school grape press.

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Made in America

Made in America

My dad then smoked the sausage links three ways, with hickory, pecan, and mesquite.  After that, we vacuum-packed them and gave them out as Christmas gifts.  We have received rave reviews, with the most repeated compliment being, “BEST SAUSAGE EVER”.  That made us happy, because all in all, there was about 70 combined hours of labor that went into the 42 lbs. of pork-venison smoked sausage.

We have a beautiful array of chicken types, from marans, legbars, and ameraucanas, to sikies, d’uccles, d’anvers and quail.  We also have a fabulous organic winter garden full of nutritious and delicious root veggies and greens.  There is much work involved on the farm and I look forward to sharing my experiences, lessons, and yes, even trials on this blog.

our garden

For instance, on December 23rd, my husband and I were faced with having to “take care” of a rooster that was on the losing end of a fight.  After my husband beheaded Lucky (or Not-so-Lucky, as it turned out), I assisted in skinning the skinny guy.  My knife hit the leg bone and jumped right into my leg.  ICK!!!  Chicken germs are not to be toyed with.  This anti-modern-med chicky had to go to the ER for a tetanus shot, 3 staples (SO UNCOOL!!), and antibiotics, to ward off any infection.  I was livid!  AND I missed out on going to see my 2 living grandparents due to the fact that I couldn’t bend my leg for 3 days without excruciating pain.

Lucky...before his luck ran out.

Lucky…before his luck ran out.

I cried and cried at the thought of having to put Lucky out of his misery, but it was the humane thing to do, as the Dominiques who resided next door to him pecked him up pretty bad.  Other dramatic moments on the farm have to do with my sweet dog Skaar taking the blame for the mass murders that occurred all too often from November through early December.  While I cannot believe my awesome boy could do such a thing, I am in the minority with my consistent arguments in Skaar’s favor.  I truly believe it to be a combination of hawks, possums, and the bob cat that lives across the creek on our land.  However, Dad’s game camera caught Skaar as recently as Christmas, giving the hens and cocks chase.

When we lost my most beloved rooster, Chief, pictured below, the gig was up.  Skaar can only be outside when the chickens are in their coop, or he has to be chained up.  I hate that!  But Skaar happens to love it in our home, so I can’t complain too much.  I look forward to the day when the men around here finish the new coop and chicken run so Skaar can be free to roam the land again.

RIP, Handsome Chief

RIP, Handsome Chief

Well, that is about as good an introduction as you are gonna get from me today.  My youngest son turns 11 tomorrow and will be showing eggs and chicken pairs at the local Poultry Show, so I will be sure to have pictures and a report following his first big event!

Until then, live out loud and love every moment!

nothing sweeter than a mother's love

nothing sweeter than a mother’s love