Farm Fresh Fridays- Bounty within the Homestead

farm fresh friday

The other day I was walking around outside at my Moms house. The boys were playing, My sister was there with her girls and I couldn’t help but take pictures and soak in the beauty of the day. I’m drawn to food, it’s who I am. Looking at the photos as I uploaded them, I couldn’t help but notice this huge bounty that could be had right at my Moms house.

Garlic grown in the garden. Mom was taking off excess paper to put it in the turkey brine. My Stepdad raised turkeys this year for the second time. We were blessed with a close to 35 pound turkey for Thanksgiving dinner!

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I take it for granted that herbs grow outside year round, but it’s another blessing to have fresh rosemary available for my roast potatoes!

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Molly and I were learning about growing calendula, as we enjoy using it in salves. How silly of us that it was actually growing right under our noses at my Moms house! Must pick and dry that to infuse in olive oil!

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I have sentimental attachment to these flowers…they were planted for my wedding! I wanted Dahlias EVERYWHERE. Then it was a cold spring and they didn’t grow in time. Instead, when they come up every year we have a laugh about us trying to grow flowers for my wedding.

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My Mom saved her own pepper seeds last year and grew them from seeds! (Tomatoes too!) So fun to see the full circle that way.

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Ahhh…yes….GMO free eggs. I feel like a rogue egg eater having these in my possesion. I feel wealthy with a dozen of these.

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More of the lovely wedding Dinner Plate Dahlias.

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Here is an example of Curse becomes blessing. Triplets were born to a sheep this spring and Mom left them all on. Well, one just became a stunted runt, so we cooked it over a fire for a fun evening of fellowship with friends and family. We’ve since discussed taking off a triplet should it happen next year and raising it on cows milk since we have abundance of that!

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Apples! Waiting for sauce! I don’t know what I’d do if I had to buy applesauce…just doesn’t compare.

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This whole farming thing…we may never be rich…we may not sleep in due to cows…but we sure eat like Kings!

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Writing a post like this is therapeutic. How can I not look back on these photos, and feel uplifted?

What blessings do you see within your home or homestead?

Render your own Lard

Lard feels like one of those scary things. Every aspect of it really. We’re told it’s horrible for us, it comes in shelf stable packages in the baking aisle and it’s just plain weird.

Allow me to change your mind! We love us some lard up in here. Our favourite uses for it are, but not limited to;

Cooking the best eggs or hashbrowns, making soap, pie or tarts, empanadas, seasoning cast iron and this afternoon I’m making old fashioned donuts and frying them in lard. I’m so excited it’s not even funny.

Lets start with sourcing. The shelf stable package in the baking aisle? Step away. Thats not lard. Thats margarine in disguise. I can’t get organic pastured pork fat, but I can get it from not quite pastured but not penned up tight antibiotic free pigs. Which is better than nothing and I work with what I have! I get it through the butcher counter in our grocery store. It’s super frugal at $14 for 10 pounds of back fat. I can pay $18 for kidney fat/leaf lard but I don’t find a big enough difference to pony up the extra few bucks. Leaf lard is supposed to have a cleaner taste, but is it wrong if I don’t mind a bit of a piggy taste in my pie crust? If it’s wrong, I don’t want to be right. Anyways, I have to order it by Monday and it comes on Wednesday. Also try farmers, farmers markets or health food stores. Don’t be afraid to ask about how the pig was raised! I can get fat for free from the butcher, but it’s just from feedlot pigs and I don’t want that. I feel like $14 is so reasonable it’s not even funny. I sure think things aren’t even funny today.

I find the crockpot the most hands off way to make it. It’s not the fastest, but it’s the laziest. I choose the latter. My 5 qt crock fits 5 pounds of chopped up fat. I have my Moms old crock as well so I can use a whole 10 pound bag at once. This will yield you 8 pounds of lard! (Don’t hold me to it as all lard is cleaned up differently)

IMG_5082I start the crock off on high for half an hour or so until some of it is melted, then turn onto low. My crockpot runs hot, so after a few hours, I turn it onto the keep warm setting. This takes close to all day. You really only need to stir once mid day, but I can’t keep my paws off and therefore it takes me hours longer as I always take the lid off and stir. I can’t help it’s like a nervous tick or something…

My Mom did Tallow (from the milk cow we butchered) all day on low once and I just went up to her place at lunch to stir it and it was done when she got home from work.

When it’s all melted and there is ‘cracklins’ floating in the top, strain it through fine cheese cloth or a dish towel you don’t care too much about. It will be yellow-ish at this point. Pour it into canning jars for easiest storage, or whatever you want to freeze it in if you’re not going to use it up within 3 months. This will be about 4-5 quart jars worth. Are you excited yet?!

lardDon’t worry! I won’t leave you hangin’! I’ll be posting up some recipes on how you’ll use it in the mean time. Now go forth and source your pork fat!

 

 

The (un)fair state of my bathroom.

I hate dirty bathrooms. They sceeve me out. (How the heck is that word spelt?) My bathroom is clean, but very very messy right now.

 

Because we have chickens growing in there!

We bought an incubator a few weeks ago and shortly afterwards a broody hen at my Mom’s couldn’t decide whether to stay on her eggs or not, so we took them out from under her and put them in the incubator. I told myself that if ONE chick hatched and survived I would be excited! After 8 days in the incubator we candled the eggs.

 

This is the box we used to candle the eggs. The egg sits on the hole lengthwise and we put Cowboy’s big powerful work flashlight in the bottom. This is done at night in a dark room.

From what we saw, we figured the chicks were 12 days along, and that they would hatch the following Wednesday, meaning we would raise the humidity (helps the chicks break out) on Sunday/Monday. Well, Sunday morning I was going to the washroom and I heard “peep Peep PEEP”. If it weren’t for the fact I was already peeing, I may have peed myself with excitement! I ran and told Cowboy, who said they started last night.

 

“WHAT?! YOU DIDN’T WAKE ME UP!?”

“No”, he said “Then you would have been up all night for nothing.”.

 

Right. That’s why he’s the logical one here. We had two hatch that night, but we lost one. Tuesday night two more hatched and survived. Friday morning two hatched and one died. Saturday morning (Today!) this baby hatched.

(Ignore the dirt under my nails? Thankyaverymuch) This has been a higelty pigelty hatch. They should all hatch within a couple days of each other, but instead it’s been days apart. There is still 6 more eggs to go! Our relief milkers took the first three chicks, and they’ll take these two as well. The black one at the top hatched yesterday morning. Considering the wierd start to this incubation, I’m very glad with how it’s turned out.

 

My bathroom though?

Incubator…box for chicks that won’t stop bugging other chicks…netti pot!

Candling box…cute clip…Rockin’ Green…Chick food….basket of toiletries

 

Wait wait back up there…

Yes you, the cute gold leather clip I got at Twang and Pearl. I love how you look in my hair.

 

 

On a very bright note, along with the egg below, there is still 6 eggs to see what happens!

I’ll keep you updated!!

 

p.s. Gingersnap is going to be very jealous. And maybe if we ask really nicely, she’ll do a guest post on her Whisky Onion Mushroom hotdog/hamburger topping. She made it for the wedding and everyone had it on top of local pork sausages in fresh baked from our local bakery buns. Ah’mazin’.

Teach ’em young

My Poppa (Maternal Grandfather) has short term memory loss. He’s always in pain. Doesn’t remember a new person. Doesn’t remember to put on clean clothes. (But my Dad says he never did before anyways!)

But…he is the only one who can tell my three sisters and I apart on the phone, first try

When Cowboy and I told him and my Grandma I was pregnant,(and 16) he got up right away, gave me a big hug, and said, “Well you know we’ll be behind you 100% of the way”.

Isn’t that crazy how a man who has forgotten the social courtesy of only taking one scoop at a potluck,

Can know exactly what to tell his 16-and-pregnant granddaughter?

Poppa’s Dad taught him many things. One, was that a job worth doing, was a job worth doing right the first time. Another, is to teach children how to do things young. Poppa’s Dad may have stretched that a bit, seeing as he was milking a few cows before breakfast on his way to kindergarden, but I think there is something to be said for how much we coddle our children.

Because we have a hobby farm, we are always encouraging families to bring their children to come try their hand at milking, collecting eggs, riding the horse (When we had one).

Mac has been collecting eggs since he could hold an object in his hand. Just ask him “Want to go to Minnies and collect eggs?” He lights up and smiles nodding his head.

Mac has been in the garden since he was days old. From being in the sling helping Daddy pick veggies for a snack, to helping me plant when he could barely crawl. He’s a mean weeder. Emphasis on the mean. (He doesn’t know the difference between plant and weed!) I know this year at 1 1/2, he’ll be starting to get the hand of things. My Grandma said that her oldest daughter was really good at plucking off the tulip heads. Sure she stopped her, but only from picking the heads off, never from being in the garden. That daughter to this day, has a love for gardening. All her daughters do! (5!)

Today I grabbed my 9 month old niece when we were at my Moms house. Cowboy was heading to milk while Mac and I were going to collect eggs. Amy came along because being exposed to these things young is fantastic. And, homegirls always up for a cuddle with her Auntie!

She watched eagerly as I collected eggs out of the nesting boxes and Mac ran around checking the feed and water and chickens. Then, we went up to where Cowboy was milking and I set them both to sit down on a sapling that’s tied between two trees holding up the milking stansion. (Where the cows head goes through when milking, not that our cow ever does, but she’s so patient!). Mac LOVES to watch Daddy milk, and Amy stared the whole time, not fussing once, just amazed at what he’s doing.

(Look at her determination!)

THESE are the things I want to expose my children to. Not violent TV, not junk food, not families never spending time together. I want them to see where there food comes from, to know how to get it from the dirt or animal to their plate. To have a connection to what they’re eating and appreciate God’s blessing of abundance in every meal we have.

You say Why take extra time doing chores or making dinner, when you could do it faster on your own?

You say Why should you take the time to call up a local farmer to see if your children can check out their animals?

You say Why bother growing one pot of tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers or lettuce on your teensy patio-porch-deck?

I say Why Not include your children in real, hands on education that goes back farther than any school district or one room school house.

This is their homegrown education.

This stuff goes back to the farmyard baby. To the homestead with a log house.

That’s where all the fun happens anyways.

Happy Valentines Day!

While trying to find a picture that someone represented Valentines day, or Love, all I found was pictures of teeny  fish we never actually ate,

Four great-grand children laying together

 

A cute little Squirrel

 

My Stepdad and I milking, with Poppa holding the kicker rope. We don’t usually have a kicker rope, but she had a sore udder and thought it was a fantastic idea to kick the bucket on a regular basis. The kicker rope gets pulled tight around their abdomen, in front of the udder, right tight in the hip socket. For some reason, this helps. If I were a 200lb 6′ 2″ man (Cowboy anyone?) I could milk with my shoulder in the same place, or put a fist there, and it would do the same. But alas, I am nowhere near that. And my Stepdad couldn’t fathom the coordination to milk and do that. (See how wide her back legs are? That is a fantastic stance for milking, because it allows access to the back teat which is the smallest and hardest to milk. Hello hand cramps!)

 

This ca-yute picture of Mac!

 

 

And Mac, driving the tractor. (Don’t worry, Grandpa is tucked down in there out of sight)

 

 

Happy Valentines Day,

 

Don’t think of it as a day to buy candies and spend money on gifts or cards. Bake some cookies to decorate, make a homemade card! Much more heartfelt and easier on the wallet. I treasure every homemade card I’ve ever been given.

 

 

Cow tongue delight!

It could be said that some not so average activities happen in our house. I know there is many others who do these, we have friends who do these very activities, but for most, they are foreign!

Let me make it not so foreign.

*Disclaimer: We are not professionals at this and are sharing for the fun of it*

Now, here’s that cow tongue!

This is it almost done cooking, but we have a few steps before getting to that point!

We killed a cow the day before and didn’t want to waste any parts. I had never eaten tongue, but my brother-in-law assured me that “If you boil it a long time and then fry it, it will be delicious!” (He still hasn’t convinced my sister, to eat it yet)

You start by taking the raw tongue and cutting off any stringy, fatty or grisely bits. It takes a bit of time unless you’re super handy with a knife like Cowboy and can show me up in 10 seconds flat! Put it in a pot and cover it with water. Bring this to a boil, then a simmer and do so for a few minutes. Oh about 120 will be good. After 2 hours, your tongue is going to look something like this.

For a cow, this is a small tongue, but it was a smaller cow. Leave the tongue to cool until you can readily handle it. At this point you skin the white layer off. There is some technique to this we haven’t figured out yet, because it was a heck of a time.

Slice the skinned tongue into 1/4 inch pieces, then in half to make them a few inches long. and set aside. This method of cooking can be used with cutlets of pork, chicken, venison, elk, moose, whatever you fancy! I did this with tongue and my sister used the same recipe to do moose steaks.

We’re going to make four bowls of ingredients now!

bowl #1-Milk, 1/2 c may be good, or you may need more, depending on how much you need.

bowl #2- 1/2 c flour, 1 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tsp salt and pepper to taste. (Onion powder here would add to it!)

bowl #3- Egg, scrambled. If you have lots of tongue, use two.

bowl #4- 1/2 c bread crumbs, and 2 tbsp mixture of dried herbs. I like thyme and parsley, dill would be good. Whats your family’s favourite? Use those! Optional, but delicious is 1/4 finely chopped nuts. This adds such a great flavour and texture to a breading.

Now we’re ready to get down and dirty!

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat then add 2 tbsp oil.

Dip a piece of tongue in milk, then flour, then egg, then bread mixture. Easy as bowl 1, 2, 3, 4! Then put in the frying pan. Continue until you have a full frying pan. Depending on how fast you are, the tongue may need to be flipped before then. We want the breading to be a good golden brown, the meat is already well cooked, it’s just about the breading. Once browned on both sides put aside (a pan in a warm over works) and go through the bowl 1,2,3,4, fry pan, until all the tongue is done. Serve up time! We ate with rice and roasted vegetables.

The verdict? I loved the flavour, but the texture of tongue I just can’t do!

Coming up? A delicious canning recipe that can only be made at this time of year. Better get your jars ready!

8 Random Photos of the Past

A picture says 1,000 words, so let me give you 8,000 words! There is no chronological order to these, by the way.

1) When Mac was 8 days old, he was asked to be in a professional photo shoot for a friends company. Of course we said yes, and we packed up diaper bags, blankets and baby to head out. While we have many many cute photos from that day, this is the one where he had his first blow out diaper and the blanket he’s on, thus it became ours!

2) Here is the first time Mac was in a cloth diaper! He was 4 days old and I thought he looked adorable. We usually put covers on, but this picture is just the dipe.

3) Here are the cupcakes my sister and cousin made for my baby shower!

4) This is Elton Mac

5) Mac’s first time going to church at 4 days old!

6) My first mule deer. It blows any deer Cowboy has EVER gotten out of the water. Hah.

7) This is an ultrasound of my now 8 month old niece, when she was maybe 10 weeks along!

8 ) I’m mean aren’t I, to show you this photo? I got a call one day from Cowboy.

Cowboy: “Sooo…I just got out of the hospital…”

Me: “WHAT?!”

C: “I cut my hand at work and I needed stitches”

Me: “WHY DIDN’T YOU CALL ME WHEN IT HAPPENED!!”

C: “Because you would have freaked out like you are now and driven to the hospital and had to wait here with Mac for hours with me”

Me: “Oh”

C: “See you at the end of the day”

Me: “Love you too”