Thursday, March 19, 2015

Getting ready....

So excited about my new soap labels!
My labels have desperately needed making over for a while .... as does our website!

so much has changed on our farm since we started... goals have changed, we've gotten side tracked here and there, alot of things haven't worked out like the pretty homestead books and glossy magazines said they would , 
but some things worked so well its now a focus instead of a side project....
understanding who we are as farmers, what we can accomplish with our natural resources on our land and what we can realisticly get done in a days time has majorly influenced what our farm is now becoming...and life is so much sweeter for it! Low input livestock saved my farm dream of raising our own meats...

so much of my 'master plan' for my ideal farm was just not doable or realistic if I wanted to actually enjoy life while providing our own foods.... 
silly me for having a ' master plan'lol!

anyways... my new labels! 
I seriously considered not doing soaps animals lotions anymore... but now, with fresh milk from trusted neighbors that are willing to barter their milk for my eggs, and help producing the products from my son's girlfriend (who happens to have a great nose for scents!) I may be able to keep the farm business going despite my all the work producing our own meats, herbs and veggies!
I hope so,,, I've put alot into developing good natural products...and I have so many ideas for more.


Finally my seasonal ducks are kicking into to egg laying.... the one major con to the muscovy, they are fiercely seasonal layers... luckily khaki cambells, runners, pekins and cayuga are not!
I am adding more khaki cambells this year.... as well as some special chicken breeds!

 I'm all for seasonal eating ,,,, there's something wonderful about it to me! That's why I work so hard to do a 4 season garden...especially since so many veggies don't store well or preserve their tastiness..
but eggs... I like to have eggs all the time! Everyday...   

Garlic,,, snow and sugar peas,,, radishes,,,,cabbage.... just a very few things I've planted so far... yesterday l planted a forest garden bed of ramps,,, which was very exciting to me! Our hillside forest garden is all cleared out now and looks so big! Dreaming of mushrooms, ramps, medicinal forest herbs..the top part was lined with some elderberry trees... the top mid section needs to be heavy sheet mulched for at least a year before it's used,,, but the mid and bottom section we will start developing this year..
I planted some rhubarb in my perinneal comfrey bed... I've planted rhubarb before but didn't give it the attention it needed to survive here in the south.. hopefully this year will be better!
day before that we planted many new fruit and nut trees... raspberries!
I have hundreds of seedlings started in my greenhouse..... piles of beautiful compost ready... even some mineral rich creek bottom dirt dug out for a new small duck pond waiting to be brought up to more new raised beds!

I'm am as excited about the farm this year as I was the first year we got the place...
Its a great feeling... truly a blessing!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Reclaim!

So this looks like a hot mess... the first year we moved here I used this as a corn field and the yield was great,,,, but now the trees are up to high and only the very center gets full sun... plus erosion is a problem if it's to be turned every year for row crops... then we tried keeping goats here in rotation but it's not real good for them either since there's no browse.
So this is a huge project for me this year....a pretty much useless piece of fenced land... the beginning of a forest hillside garden that will be used as part of my poultry rotation once established . Gooseberries,elderberries and currents... perinneal vegetables , shade loving herbs .... it's not a quick project but one I can't wait to start planting!
first step is to cover it with clover seeds and make some kind of water shed swell or other barrier .. I'm going to use piles of pines that fell during the ice storm as a base for that... and look, one huge bunch broke off to help me get started! Ha!

I have some AGH piglets in the area for the time being... I know alot of people say they use pigs to 'plow' for them... I've never had good luck with the 'permaculture theory'
For the most part pigs root in one place to often for it to be truly good for the land... they also poop in an area , not all over so fertilizer gets scattered...
I help them along by baiting them in places they haven't rooted... but my husband is still going to have to hit it with the tractor before my first phase of planting.

Another area used for nothing... this hill that falls off the back of yet another raised bed polyculture space we are developing.. this is perfect for things like ramps, mushrooms and shade loving herbs and fruits since it varies from part shade to full... so many different things can grow here that can't grow in a regular sunny garden... since there are established trees in this area it's not considered a forest garden but more farming the woods.
Now.... I need the weather to cooperate! 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Waiting for spring...

This has really been quite the winter! I can't ever remember being that frozen for soo long! For days everything was frozen!
first came the crazy ice storm that knocked out power for almost everyone and crushed my new greenhouse with a broken pine....
then we had a majorly annoying snow storm of around 5 to 8 inches....
a little break... then rain,,, and more rain...now they are called for more ice and snow... not cool!
What is cool is the adorable baby vulture I have... just kidding ! This is a baby squab!
I'm thrilled that he survived the negative temperatures! Good parents .,,,
Also on the bright side.... I still have greens under my low tunnels! Low tunnels are a must!



And through all the ice and snow and crazy low temperatures .... my ducks started kicking out the eggs! Fresh eggs and greens from the low tunnels... Added a few sun dried tomatoes from last year's garden...for a slight taste of summer...

Spring please hurry! 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cushaw 5th and final meal!

Well! Better late than never! I meant to post the final cushaw meal last Saturday! 
But weather, power outage and poultry management in the cold weather kinda got in the way... such is farm life.

For my 5th and final meal of the week, made using that one huge cushaw squash I made a recipe I've actually made before... winter squash and caramelized onion pizza.
not and traditional pizza by any means! But delicious and very healthy by all means.
I made a simple sour dough rosemary crust... Caramelized the onions , added a pound of squash,, spread over the crust, topped with red wine braised goat tenders (my favorite pizza topping ever!)
goat cheese and goat havarti. .. fresh garlic chives!

another great savory cushaw based meal!
5 wildly different meals and a dessert from one squash ! And honestly I could have halfed the amount I used on the pizza and made my awesome winter squash brownies (note taken for next time)

this was such a fun challenge for me! I developed even more great recipes using this wonderful vegetable !
really added a fun factor to my week of being snowed in!

In other farm life... despite freezing temperatures and record lows , my low tunnels are still producing beautiful fresh greens!


And though we and most of our poultry do not care for the snow... the pigs are not phased and our poultry guardians are acting like it's a trip to an amusement park! 
I've never seen this girl behave like a puppy! 
Lol! Annabelle is our lead lgd,,, a very serious territorial guard! So funny to see her so playful!

I'm glad someone enjoys this!

More soon...Til next time... I'm praying for spring and pouring over garden, fruit and herb planting catalogs...

Friday, February 20, 2015

Cushaw Heirloom Squash , 4 of 5!!



The winter weather we've been hit with is really wearing me out!

Thank goodness for more comfort foods ... 
this may possibly be the best winter squash soup I've ever made! For the most part I find winter squash soups suitable as a side dish or a appetizer , and sometimes kinda boring,,,,certainly not as a main dish.. so when I decided to make a cushaw soup I really wanted it to be that smooth texture everyone loves with a winter squash soup but with a richer flavor and more filling!

Yeah,,, I've made many winter squash soups... with many different components. ..but
Herbed Cushaw Soap! this soup, made with homemade duck broth... the savory cushaw, home canned tomatoes and some flavorful herbs really takes the winner spot!
topped with a little blue cheese and fresh chives... warming, hearty  & perfect for and cold day...

Well, I'm keeping this short and sweet! Last cushaw meal posted soon!

Keep warm out there!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cushaw , 3 of 5, plus a dessert!

Another wow meal from a healthy cushaw centered recipe!

these really really won my husband over! I mean he liked the last two alot!... but he took a lot bite of this and said , home run, baby! Lol!

So my Cushaw Tacos... winner , winner! 

I made a herbed and spiced filling of the cushaw squash and caramelized onions...
and a spicy bean topping ...toasted some corn tortillas on a cast iron skillet .. throw on a little goat cheese... and then a couple spoons full of my mother's home canned corn relish,,, wow,wow,wow!
Once again, the non sweet, but great texture and savory flavor was the perfect base for the tacos,, 

Another thing, my husband typically does not rave about dinners without meat... that also tells me how much he liked it!

And a dessert! Despite making 3 big meals featuring this squash I still have a lot of that huge 10 pounder!
so I'm feeling pretty confident I'll have enough to make the next 2 meals....so

Cushaw & peaches with a sweet cornbread topping!

I'm a huge fan of cobblers , but I try to limit my use of grains. Using cornmeal as a part of the topping cuts back on the grain i have to use, its delicious, adds a nice texture and I think my home grown dent corn is way healthy .
 Cobblers make great use of my canned fruits! Using a cushaw as part of the fruit adds lots of extra vitamins to a dessert,, now a sweet squash could be used for this recipe,, but a small sweet squash couldn't have been a part of all these meals AND a dessert! A small amount of honey or sorghum can make this as sweet as you want.... as I've said before... in cooking, it's easier to add , than to take away!
this was a perfect comfort food dessert!
With the peaches I canned in their juice being so sweet very little additional sweetener was needed.

Well,,, I'm over half way there! 3 meals featuring the huge and awesome heirloom cushaw, plus a dessert and I have 2 meals to go!

This has really been fun for me! I love cooking and finding new ways to use vegetables I love! And are easy to grow here !

Looking forward to the next 2 meals!

But, As much as I love cooking .... when this is over it needs to be my husband's turn in the kitchen a few days ...well , he does cook breakfast every morning! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Cushaw 2 out of 5

Cushaw meal number two! A winner!

now I'm sure you've seen noodle less lasagne and thought ..yuk! This is not yuk! The thin sliced , non sweet cushaw is a perfect in place of noodles,, which would make this meal sort of paleo,  I think, definitely a gluten free dish here!  
All I know is this Cushaw & Guinea Hog Pork Lasagne i come up with is awesome!

I used ground guinea hog pork, seasoned up with my favorite sausage spices and herbs,,, home canned tomatoes,,,
as you can see in the pic I've made long slices of about 1/4 of an inch thick and started layering it with the meat mixture ,,, it took just over 2 lbs of squash for this recipe (yesterday's recipe took 2 cups)


For the rest of the filling I layered sautéed mustard greens and mushrooms,, with 1 kind of goat cheese,,,
then topped with another kind of goat cheese... bake...

Perfection.. oh my goodness! I did not even miss the noodles at all and I think this is my new favorite lasagne recipe!
You can see all the yummy layers here,,, what a healthy homemade lasagne !

This squash is so big! I think I can squeeze a dessert out if it too!
the other wonderful thing about cushaw..if your not growing them. Many times after Halloween you can buy real big ones for 4 dollars...
that's about the same price as a little 3 lb acorn or butternut squash,,, talk about economical ! 
I sure can't get 2 huge meals out of one if those little things... let alone 5 ,, and a dessert!

I also have to say, that while the cushaw makes the perfect healthy noodle substitute and I used more of it here that the other ingredients , the guinea hog pork impacted the flavor and put this dish over the top,,, I'm not sure pork that didn't come from a heritage lard hog would make as good of a dish... but guinea hog and other true lard hogs do have that effect! It would still be good... just not as good! Be good to yourself,, find some true lard hog pork! Life changing!! 

Its still horribly wintery here! Ice and snow... he's a pic of our guinea hog sows,,, not happy about it either!

But we are warm and blessed with an abundance of homegrown foods to eat!
So for all my whining about the cold... it's not that bad.
God is very good!