Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tis the season ... For EGGS!

We are rolling now! The girls are really working! I sold half my flock and I still have so many eggs!
it's a blessing,, we love eggs!
but it is a challenge coming up with new recipes ... now we are always up for deviled eggs... scrambled eggs and greens....a good quiche or savory egg pie , though I hate making crust (time consuming on these busy spring days)
 I like to get creative with eggs and our other farm ingredients  ... 
Here is our dinner Monday night... deviled duck eggs with fresh garden herbs,
crust less spring greens quiche... and crust less winter squash cheese cake....
I made all these dishes in 2 hours including cooking time ... which also fed us for lunch the next day... it would have actually fed us for dinner to ,, but my son came over!

As the gardens start producing more fresh veggies I get to be more creative with my bounty of eggs.

Homesteading is such a balancing act..
And you can grow all your own food (we do not 'need' the grocery store anymore)
But you have to sometimes decide what's most important to you for food and as always, what grows best for the natural resources you have and your climate. 

Enjoy spring!!! Hot summer is coming!!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The case for silkies on a working homestead

Now I know what you're thinking.... silkies on a working farm, ha!
I've heard the negatives about silkies too for a working farm or homestead... poor layers... bad foragers...
not enough meat to eat on them....delicate , not hardy ....not a chicken for a practical minded subsistence farm such as myself!
basically they are thought of as a novelty good for nothing but pet or show chicken....
My darlings,,,, how wrong i was.... and how wrong you are.....

The silkie chicken is the easiest chicken I've ever raised!
They have been such a joy to have for so many reasons....
They have not been delicate... they live in my barn with muscovy case you didn't know ducks are messy! As you can see below it has not a reflected badly on the health or beauty of my silkies....
they have been very low input and easy to raise! Even when our temperatures got down to 0 this winter,,, they were fine.
extremely economical to feed! Try the least expensive I've ever raised chickens!
As far as them being poor meat producers.....they are delicious.... honestly, this was the most delicious chicken I've ever ate in my life! Yes the skin is black...and yes it was good too! That one little roo fed me and my husband to our fill for dinner,
 then made a wonderful rich bone broth the next day.
the smaller size made processing a breeze, super easy to pluck. The meat to bone ratio was very good.
best part... well, next to the fact it was the best chicken i ever ate...
this meat cost me pennies... they eat so little. 
The hardest thing was the slaughter because they are such nice birds,,, but the roos weren't being nice to each other and someone was going to end up dead.
so it had to be done... and it was a blessing the meat was so amazing!

some say it is healthier than regular chicken... check out this link...
So what about being a bad forager... they forage plenty... all day,,, they just can't forage destructivly and scratch everything up! So they are perfect for areas you may prefer not end up being bare ground!
They don't wander far away, are easily contained away can't fly over my fences! 
Which means they are safer because they have to stay with my flock guardians.... and means I don't have to chase them down and clip their wings!
this saves me so much time.... an animal that is hard to manage can suck the day away from a busy farmer that has had her fair share of dealing with high input and hard to manage livestock,
I truly appreciate how easy these guys are to deal with... they are so calm...

as for eggs... 
my hens lay on sprouted grains and pasture, needing no fancy layer they are not heavy layers,
yes the egg is small... but it's cost me pennies to feed them. So I will take it!

they are supposed to be excellent mothers... I've not had a broody girl yet so I can't comment on that.
But I sure do look forward to the day they do!
I will be expanding my little flock ... they fit in here... 
Cause me no drama... take little of my money or time. Wonderful low input chicken... I didn't think there was such a thing ;-)
I tried them on a whim,, so glad I did! They have been a joy and and blessing

Friday, April 17, 2015

More new products ! And more new poultry!

Another spring rainy week!
Got lots of work done though !!
My husband and son put in many new raised garden beds, I mulched my new areas in the 'garden complex' got squash and some beans planted! 
All my green house seedlings are looking great!
And got some products ready to list in the farm store ...

I am especially in love with the whipped lip butter!!!
I have never used a better product on my lips! Should be in the store next week for sale.

And my poultry explosion continues!!! 10 pekins, 30 chicks last week and this week I got in 6 new ducklings and 10 goslings!!!!!!
I love geese... I think they are beautiful , graceful animals.. I love to see them graze the pasture.. Swim on the pond and play.., but After the Toulouse evilness I didn't know if I would have them again but they are such an excellent subsistence, low input animal...with fairly high out put! Great meat! Wonderful cooking fat, goose livers(yum ) the soft down & feathers,,, and eggs if I don't want them to hatch anymore goslings.
They are not my smallest animal on the farm but they are one of the cheapest to feed for me since my husband has improved our pastures. 
And Since I've had good experiences with the pilgrim geese and have got a better way to set them up when they go broody I decided to jump right in and get 6 embeds to raise for our family meat (I may keep a pair if I can sex them properly) and 4 Chinese to raise as main area geese. I have a cute little shed im going to paint for them and they will have access to a different pond than the pilgrims. 
I'm already in love with this brown Chinese gander baby :-)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Creative works & gardens

Well after days of shoveling mulch and sawdust the rain drive me in one day last week and I took advantage of it!!!
So remaking jeans.. Adding patches to my favorite jean shirts before they fall apart!
I never buy 'new' clothes.. Thrift store clothing works just fine for me .. Jeans never ever get thrown out!
They start out being nice.. 'Going out jeans'... Eventually they will get stained or ripped so they be come farm jeans...
Then as they really start to fall apart I patch them up really cute , add embroidery .. Appliqu├ęs ... Hand crocheted bits of lace sometimes .. Making them going out jeans again :-)
Love this little embroidery design...

While the machine was working on that design I made a new necklace with guinea feathers!! I love the polka dotted feathers from those birds!
I have loads of feathers I've collected over the years... The d'uccle feather is another favorite . I plan to make more jewelry in the future .. Maybe on a future rainy day ... Love the way it turned now I'm motivated !
My favorite jean shorts...needed some more patches.. They were getting very thread bare! 
My greenhouse is rocking the seedlings!
It's so exciting to see a plant make it's first appearance ... Here's a herb peeking up called dragon balm .. A tea herb.
One of my strawberry beds! So many blooms.... 
Silkies... All grown up :-)

This coming week looks to be busy... 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Time flies....

Time really has flown since my last post!
we've turned it up here on the farm to get ready for all our spring planting, baby poultry orders and keeping products in our farm store.
and here's one of our latest soaps! I am super excited about it... it's a new herbal soap! Made with pure essiential oils of basil, litsea and sweet orange! Smells energizing!!!
most of my products I use fragrance or a blend of essiential and fragrance oils.. essiential oils are very strong and not used properly can cause problems.
After 4 years of soap & bath products, much research and experimenting I'm confidant enough to use them now.
Essential oils have many many benefits when used properly !! 
Did I mention baby poultry has started rolling in????
This is the first of many 'batches' of poultry in getting this spring !!! Little pekin ducks!
I couldn't be more excited to be able to expand my bird breeds! Different chicken breed to try this year.. Maybe I'll get one that works here (btw, the silkies I added back last fall are fitting in and doing great! So far) 
Adding a few more super laying khaki ducks ... Adding more geese! French guineas and even turkeys!!!!! Probably more silkies too!
I adore birds... And they are not stressful to me like goats and sheep were!!
They fit in better on our farm and with my busy homesteader/small business schedule. 
They are messy!!

First asparagus of the year!!!!! Or ever!
We tried 2 times before to establish an asparagus bed... It wasn't until last year did we have success in a raised bed that had grown beans two years before and plenty of compost added!
We ate some for the first time this week.. Wow! 
Thankful more are coming!

First broody girl of the year.. One if my very first Muscovy ducks... Little Blackie... She hatched 2 clutches last year as a first year layer.. I only gave her eight eggs for this hatch.. Candles them this week...all viable ! She's a great duck.

And after over a years wait we are getting our first shiitake mushrooms... They are good,,,
Just not as tasty as the wild oyster mushrooms we get from foraging our woods. I guess we are spoiled...
I did order some oyster mushroom spawn it hopes that they are better tasting for the log cultivation.
Along with cauliflower spawn .. Because cauliflower mushrooms grow on pine trees.. And we have a lot of pine trees down from last winters ice storm , so why not put then to good use right!
So that's a tiny bit of what's going on here!
Hope y'all are having a very blessed spring !!!