Goats, rabbits, chickens (pages)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How-To-Tuesday

Really, it'sTuesday already? The farm gobbles up my week!
Today I'm sharing something from my husband. I like cooking; he LOVES cooking. And, as some of you know, he's excellent at it. One of the great mysteries of the kitchen is PIE CRUST. I've seen Chef Gary make this countless times; it NEVER fails. NEVER. And, it's so easy, honest.

Into the ol' food processor put:
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt (sea, of course) a little less for a sweet pie (dessert); a little more for a savory pie (quiche, pot)
5 Tablespoons butter
5 Tablespoons cold water

Pulse it until a dough ball forms and waalaa: piecrust. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface and you are on your way to the perfect pie.
Use the extra dough to make slices of "crust" sprinkled with cinnamon and honey/sugar and bake 10-12 minutes..the kids love this part. It's a litte extra treat for helping you in the kitchen!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

HOW-TO-TUESDAY - Calcium



It's that time again....

You can probably see a pattern to my posts lately: chickens and eggs. Maybe it's spring, maybe it's the farm speaking to me, maybe it's all my new chicks arriving, maybe it's because I adore Mable (my 12 laying hens) or maybe I just like eggs. Today's HOW-TO is about calcium and how to actually get it inside so your body can use it. So many of the calcium supplements cannot be utilized, broken-down or put to good use inside you. As an herbalist, I have a couple, three actually, good ways to get calcium. Good usable calcium. Calcium that will actually affect your bones by making them stronger and yes, even help to relieve that old-fashioned aching in your bones.

Chances are you have been throwing yours in the trash or grinding it down the garbage disposal, or, if you are really "green", you are tossing your calcium on the compost pile. What the heck am I talking about?

E G G S H E L L S

This first tip is so stinkin' easy your first thought will be that it can't possibly work. Well, it does! When making your next recipe that calls for eggs (please use local farm-pasture-raised eggs!) just follow these simple rules:
1) Save your eggshells.
2) Wash your eggshells.
3) Pour boiling water over your eggshells.
4) Let them cool.
5) Add some lemon. (1/2 tsp per 6 shells)
6) Strain.
7 Use or freeze. Ice trays work wonderfully.

How easy was that? A "dose" is about 1/4 cup of eggshell water. You can just drink it, add it your favorite juice or fruit smoothy. (I have great recipes for smoothies on my website)

Second tip: Instead of water, cover the eggshells with apple cider vinegar DO NOT USE WHITE VINEGAR or I'll have to come out there and get cha! (that's "farm" for get you), organic is BEST. Let it sit at least 2 weeks, 6 weeks is better. Dose is 1 tsp per day.

Third tip: Calcium Tea. If you want to make it yourself the directions are on my website HERE in the Library section under Calcium Tea (Also called Calcium Tisane-I'll explain THAT another day!. It has delightful herbs that are chock full of a lot of minerals, not just calcium. Or, if you want it "ready-made" I also have it for sale in my on-line store HERE

Just in case those "HERE" links don't work (I did just learn how to do it) here's my website: http://www.rockycreekvalley.com

Monday, March 21, 2011

National Poultry Day

How appropo! National Poultry Day is this week and I am surrounded with new chicks. My New Hampshire Reds (red chickens/med. brown eggs) and the Cochins (some buff, some black) are six days old and nestled in their cardboard coop inside the Herb Cottage where they will stay for a couple of weeks. My other new chicks are coming Wednesday. Ameracanas (white chickens/med-small Easter eggs!) and Giant Jerseys (black chickens/LARGE brown eggs). Their peep-peep-peeps are just adorable. I love the shape of their little bodies. I have two heat lamps on them and keep a thermometer on the floor so I always know the temp. It should stay between 95 and 105. When they are big enough I will move them to the brooder house, then to the BIG chicken coop which we are in the process of remodeling.

I drew a chart that shows when they will begin laying, how long they will lay and how many eggs I should get. I combined it with my Mables' chart so I hope I can tell how many dozen will be available to sell at Farmer's Markets each week this summer. Mables are Red Sex Link chickens, also called Red Star (red chickens/ med brown eggs). They get their name from being able to tell their sex when they are hatched. Jumpin' Jack Flash, my rooster, is a Cochin Banty. He loves his Mables and takes such good care of them. This morning he started crowing just before dawn...I love to listen to him. He is so enthusiastic and ready for his day. Life is Good.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

35 Days and Counting...

Our last frost date--according to the powers that be--is May 1. That may or may not hold true but I have to start someplace! Although some things are going in the ground now like peas, onions some salad greens, most of the herbs and veggies won't go under 'till frost is over. In order to have a graphic representation on my not-so-patient waiting period I put this "counter" on the blogpage. I'm all giddy about planting...it's been a long cold winter.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dream

A friend of mine sent me this video and it spoke to me with a powerful simple message. There have been many things in my life that I've wanted to do, places I wanted to go. Some of them have been accomplished, some have not. But, all of my life there was one overriding thing, one desire that stayed with me through all my addresses, all my jobs, all my life choices. I always dreamed of having a farm. Always. Then when the opportunity came, despite health and age, despite nay-sayers, despite my own misgivings, I acquired my farm. I have never been healthier. I have never been happier. I am living my dream with a husband who shares it. Life is good.

That's what this blog is about. Won't you join me on this adventure?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Weather To Clean

It's clean up time at the farm. Gary, Bob (the tractor) and the new/old farm wagon are picking up limbs, brush and nature's miscellaneous contributions to the general chaos of stuff clogging the fence rows. The 7 new gardens are plowed and tilled; Jack and Mable have been having a scratching good time in them. They are so happy, I'd call it the chicken version of Disney World. We are up to 7 eggs a day now--lovin' it. Tomorrow is a BIG day: 1st day of Spring (always a cause for cartwheels -yes, I can still do them) and some of my new chicks are coming. The New Hampshire Reds. I'm giddy with anticipation.

Hope you enjoyed yesterday's How To Tuesday....next week I'll show you two ways to actually get that needed calcium INTO your bones! Life Is Good.

Monday, March 14, 2011

HOW TO TUESDAY

It's my first How-To-Tuesday ...

How to find the proverbial "good egg". Run a good size bowl full of cold water. Add your egg (DON'T CRACK IT!). If the egg lays on the bottom, it's fresh. If the large end of the egg floats a little higher, it's 7 to 10 days old. If the egg stands straight with the large end up, it's at least a month old. If it floats, don't eat it!

Potato - PotAHto

Today is National Potato Chip Day. Now you may think that is NOT a dish for a farmgirl-herbalist. NAY. Not so fast. It is our neo-antifry culture that thinks of fried foods as a mud puddle...to be avoided at all costs. For most of us "Politically Correct Nutrition" has infiltrated our psyches to the point of excluding any possibility of an alternate view. Just this week a grocery store clerk looked at the shopping basket full of lard and coconut oil and with a horrified expression said, "What in the world are you going to do with this?
This post is not a treatise on good fat/bad fat but if you are willing to THINK about it beg, borrow or buy Nourishing Traditions. Beginning on page 4 Sally Fallon gives you all the info you would ever want complete with research. (You can buy this book by clicking on it in my Book widget in the sidebar.)
This year I am planting Superior potatoes--an early variety and Kennebec potatoes--a late variety and of course, sweet potatoes--which also make good fries and chips.

Back to potato chips. This is good just plain, but if you want to change it up a little just sprinkle on cayenne, BBQ seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder..well you get the idea. Let your potato muse run wild!

4 medium potatoes - thin slices are great, but if you don't have a food processor they're still good. Slice potatoes into a large bowl of cold water. Drain, rinse then refill bowl with more cold water and 3 tablespoons of SEA salt. Soak for at least 30 minutes, then drain. One more time rinse and drain. You could add vinegar at this stage if you want that tartness.
Heat oil(olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil) or lard (if you use Crisco, I will hunt you down and tweak your nose) to 365 and fry potatoes in small batches. Once they are golden, remove, drain and season.
Enjoy the Day of the Potato. Life is Good.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sharing

I found this wonderful idea on a friend's blog: How-To-Tuesday. At the risk of redundancy -- well, it's all about sharing ideas and other stuff! So, tune in Tuesday and learn to do something...I have no idea what yet. The originator of this sharing idea is here: http://www.stiesthoughts.blogspot.com/

Friday, March 11, 2011

Which Came First...

the chicken or the egg? In my case, the chicken. My Mables are doing quite well. They LOVE this nice weather and even when we have a "set back" as is often the case in Missouri, they are out there scratching and pecking to their hearts content. Jack is so cute to watch with "his ladies". He calls them over to inspect an interesting tidbit in the ground, warns them when the hawks fly over and worries if they all do not stay right with him. There are some independent Mables who like to wonder around on their own and ignore his callings. Mable eggs have gotten progressively better these past weeks and oh so yummy. I think of my chickens as free-range, but, as usual, the names farmers have used for generations have been high-jacked by the commercial "farms" and no longer mean anything. If the egg-carton in the store says free-range by law it means chickens are "given access" to the outdoors, it doesn't mean they actually go outside. Some industrial "farms" have one small chicken door per thousands of hens. The outdoor facility is almost always a fenced dirt yard void of anything green or living. The new marketing term for REAL free-range chickens is pasture-raised. I suppose it is just a matter of time before corporate "farms" call their crowded dirty dead dirt yards (as opposed to living organic soil) pastures. Then, once again, true farms will have to change their description of true free-range, pasture-raised chickens. Just to be safe, BUY FRESH. BUY LOCAL, and ask questions!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Garden Planning

I've been scribbling and scratching on paper for months plotting my garden plots; in fact I started it LAST summer. I have notes about what grows good where and sidebars about what I liked and didn't like about certain tomato species and what the black swallowtail caterpillar-cum-butterfly ate for lunch. But, this year I'm adding something new to my lay outs: a computer garden plan module. Wow, never thought I'd be saying that. Remember, I'm an organic person in the sense that I prefer paper to plastic, pens to keyboards, walking to wheels. I do not have nor do I want enough left-brain synapses to plan my garden with a right click in an autoCad type program. I did miserably poor on the high-school what's-your-best-vocation tests where we added missing parts to three dimensional objects. I already knew I didn't want to be an engineer. However, this garden program has the three criteria I most require: A) easy B) easy C) easy. And, it looks so stinkin' cute on the screen. There are several garden planners out there offered by different magazine/seed companies. Through a little sleuthing I discovered they are exactly the same program so I chose to subscribe through one of my favorite magazines: Herb Companion. Last night I had a little glitch (which is not unusual for me when it comes to anything electronic or mechanical) and I emailed the support center. We all know how disappointing "support" centers can be, but this morning bright and early I had a response waiting for me. Not only did my new BFF "Jeremy" answer my questions, he went the second mile and tweaked the program to accommodate my operational issues. Ahhh, customer service may be wounded, but it's alive. Now, I am even more delighted with my new "program" and am laying out new gardens at a pace that rivals Henry Ford's assembly line.

Yesterday afternoon Gary and I, Cassie, our trusty farmer-dog, April, the queen-of-everything cat, Chance, the neighbors dog and at least three Mables, the laying hens, all trooped out into the field to finish marking off the rest of our nine garden plots. After measuring, remeasuring and measuring again just for good measure (my husband got the engineer gene) to be sure they were square, plum, accurate to the nth degree, aligned with the north star and could easily be entered into the surveyors hall of fame if there is such a thing, we pronounced it not only finished but perfect. Perfect in spite of the fact we couldn't locate the compass prior to beginning. Now all I have to do is transfer my plants from the paper to the dirt and I'm off and running. Life is Good.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Best Thing About Waking Up...

There's just something exhilarating about wild life. This morning I tromped up the hill, my thoughts far away from Rocky Creek, my blood not yet pulsing to the new day, Cassie running ahead with dog-like abandon. When I reached the top I glanced up and there stood seven deer looking back at me. Cassie postured back and forth, not barking, just woofing, the deer looking on in wonderment. They stayed several minutes, ran over the ridge then came back for one more peek at us before darting off to the forest. I walked on up to the 930--the highest point of our farm--and saw the little red fox that forages here now and then. I've seen her/him several times and today she was on the hunt for mice. Cassie has been, too, so I was familiar with the stalk, stalk, jump high, pounce, repeat process. The fox did this predator dance just like Cassie does and it was so much fun to watch. As I reached the point of not being able to see up on the ridge, I looked back. Foxy was eating; apparently she caught breakfast. Now, my blood was coursing, I was smiling and I was ready for my own breakfast. This is one of the reasons I love my farm. Life is Good.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Button Box

One day you're sitting snug in the house with snow and sleet flying past the window dreaming/slash/planning gardens and new chicken facilities and the next day warm breezes bring good weather and green shooting up through last years dead foliage. It's like Mother Nature is saying "GO!!"

One of the best ways she says go is with CHICK DAYS. OMGSH, I love chick days. We ordered some New Hampshire Reds (brown eggs), Armericanas (Easter eggs!), and Jersey Giants (LARGE brown eggs). They will arrive 3/17th thru 3/23rd and round out our flock of Mables. So, we are busy getting the chicken houses moved, cleaned and repaired. Stay tuned for chicken happenings! And, Mable has given us enough eggs to sell, so stop by and treat yourself to free-range eggs...there's nothing quite like them. (See 2/15 blog for nutrition)

Have also started cleaning up the yard and gardens...tulips are peeking out just to make sure it's warm enough. The wind helps keep the muddy-mucky-mess in the barnyard at bay but I still find myself walking with big convict boots caked with mud.

The burn on my finger from the melting plastic is healing nicely. It is about 1/8th inch deep and still painful to the touch. I'm still putting lavender essential oil on it and also applying my Herbal Aid Salve and keeping it band-aided during the day.

Be sure to check out our recipe of the month on our website: www.RCVfarm.com
Chef Gary hasn't quite decided which one he's going to post, but if it's as good as last month's asparagus, it will taste great.

I am making cup cakes for my grandsons birthday today...now if I can figure out how to get some herbs in them....hmmm

If you are wondering (or even if you've totally forgotten the title of today's blog) how Button Box applies to anything I've said so far: My grandma's button box was extraordinary. At least to an eight year old. It held so much more than buttons: lace snippets, grandpa's overall snaps, a horseshoe nail, a Texas sea shell. Then, my mom's box was somewhat different representing her hoarding proclivities: fish hooks, newspaper clippings, jewelry. Of course, I carry on this informal tradition with my own button box, except mine has grown to several boxes! And, since I write, I apply everything to writing. So, THIS button box is a compendium of farm miscellanea. Love it. Life Is Good.
PS Chef Gary just decided: Grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. Don't let the benign name fool you; this recipe is KICKIN'! It should be on-line by noon.
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