Tag Archives: Homesteading

From Peepers to Laying Hens – Right On Track

When we got our new chicks this past April I estimated it would be some time in August that they would start laying eggs. My estimate was based on our previous experience with Buff Orpingtons; they have pretty consistently started laying eggs at around 18 weeks of age.

Yesterday when my husband gave me the eggs he had collected I was thrilled to discover that the young ones (or at least one of them) had began laying.

If you are not familiar with raising chickens, you may be wondering how I concluded that the young ones were laying by just seeing the eggs. Nope – hens do not sign their eggs or even leave a trade mark. Without monitoring the nest boxes all day long we have no way of knowing who lays what eggs. (We don’t watch the nest boxes all day.)

But…

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when a hen first starts laying she lays mini-eggs, eggs that are much smaller than normal. In the photo above the smallest egg is from one peepers turned laying hen.

I suspect that it is one of our Buff Orpingtons who gave us this egg, because it is much like the mini eggs we have gotten from Buffs in the past, but the truth is we have never raised Austrolorps before so I am uncertain how soon to expect them to start laying or what their eggs will look like. Some of the other breeds we have raised have produced mini eggs that are much smaller than this one and when opened they only have a small dot of yolk while the rest is egg white. When opened this egg contained both yolk and white that were proportionate to a regular egg.

Today my husband brought home a second mini egg which makes me wonder if a second hen started laying or the same hen gave us small eggs two days in a row. I expect over the next few weeks we will have several mini eggs as all of the girls become regular with their laying.

It’s exciting that our “peepers” are growing up as we are counting on them to keep us in fresh eggs through the winter. 🙂

Thanks for reading. Until next time – be well.

A Recipe To Remember

I made a dish very similar to this last year, or perhaps it was even two years ago, when we had an abundance of banana peppers. I remember that we really enjoyed it, I just didn’t remember the exact recipe because I did not write it down. Last week when our neighbors sent over a bunch of banana peppers from their garden I decided to try it again. This time I am writing it down and sharing it with you as well.

I wasn’t sure what to call this and my first thought was stuffed banana peppers. That name reminded me too much of stuffed bell peppers but this really has no similarity. It is much closer to the jalapeno poppers that I love, so I decided to call it banana pepper poppers. Besides that is just fun to say. 🙂

* It is really not necessary to have the exact amount of any ingredient listed – a little more of this or a little less of that will not make a great difference. Feel free to add the word “about” in front of the amount of each ingredient.

Banana Pepper Poppers

8 Fresh Banana Peppers

4 oz. cream cheese softened

1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

2 or 3 jalapeno peppers

3 slices of bacon cooked crispy

bread crumbs

Slice the banana peppers in half long ways a remove seeds. Remove core and seeds from jalapeno peppers and chop them into small pieces. Chop bacon into small (bacon bit like) pieces. Mix cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, bacon bits and jalapeno peppers. Place banana pepper halves on baking sheet and fill each one with cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top of each pepper. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to thirty minutes.

ENJOY! 🙂

Farm Happinings

Just a quick post with some of the photos I have taken at the farm in the past week.

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This year we planted patches of sunflowers in various areas around the farm. Some of the patches were garden plots that we would not be using this year, others were spots that we normally mow but decided to let them grow up in sunflowers this year. We bought oil sunflower seed that is normally sold as bird seed and hand sowed them. While we don’t intend to harvest the sunflowers they will serve several purposes: they are available for bees and other pollinators to collect pollen and nectar, the birds will feed on the seeds, and they are simply beautiful to look at. I am not sure it is possible to look at a field of sunflowers and not smile. 🙂

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We have also planted many areas with buckwheat. We use buckwheat as a cover crop to suppress weed growth and condition the soil. It is also a favorite food of honey bees. Since buckwheat is a fast growing crop we have stagger planted it so that when some of it is done blossoming some is just beginning to blossom.

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This is a photo of our main garden area. To the left beyond the sunflowers are two rows of strawberries that were planted this spring. There is another patch of sunflowers beyond that. The row of trees in the grassy strip are apple trees. The next area, to the right, is where we have our vegetable garden with tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, beets, Swiss chard, lettuce, green beans, cucumbers, melons, squash, pumpkins, egg plant, peppers, cabbage, parsley, basil, and dill. Beyond that is the blueberry patch. The white patch to the far right is blossoming buckwheat. This large (main garden) area is completely fenced to keep deer out.

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Some of the apple trees are loaded with apples this year. The branches are so heavy that my husband made support posts to prop up the branches. We expect to have a nice apple harvest this year as long as we can keep the crows away.

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Even though we have had some periods of rain the US drought monitor map reports that our area is abnormally dry. We really don’t need that map to know that as our gardens tell us all we need to know.  Last night while my husband and I were sitting on the beach and feeding the fish an unexpected rain shower popped up. Since we were sitting under a beach umbrella we continued to sit on the beach and offered prayers of thanks for the rain. As the rain grew harder we retreated to the porch of the barn to stay dry as the glorious rain watered the earth. This shower didn’t bring anywhere near the amount of rain we really need but we are thankful for every drop that fell.

Thanks for visiting the farm today. Until next time be well my friends. 🙂

 

The Garlic Is Harvested

The garlic harvest is complete and our new barn is serving it’s purpose.

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This photo is the loft area full of Chesnok Red garlic. Each bundle has 25 garlic bulbs. The other two varieties are hanging in the downstairs area. The garlic will hang for about three weeks before we begin clipping and cleaning it to prepare it for market.

Having the barn proved to be such a blessing. We were able to pace ourselves with the harvest. My husband primarily did the digging. He would dig one or two rows a day and move it into the barn. I mostly did the bundling. He pounded the nails into the rafters and hung the garlic and I tied the garlic nooses. Just kidding they weren’t really a noose, but I pre-tied loops in each end of the strings and the string was wrapped around a bunch of garlic then one loop was pulled through the other loop and the string would tighten around the garlic. The loop on the long end was used to hang the garlic from the nail.

At times, especially in the extreme heat, the work was grueling, but the process went pretty smoothly. We make a good team. 🙂

Besides harvesting all that garlic over the past two weeks we have spent time picking both blueberries and currants. Both have produced great crops this year. This has been our largest blueberry crop so far (we have picked over 3 US dry gallons) and I have put most of them in the freezer to be used throughout the year in pancakes and banana bread, but as a special treat I decided to make a blueberry pie.

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When I was making this pie I realized that this was the first time I have ever made a blueberry pie. I will confess that I used a premade, store bought, crust but the pie was delicious and it didn’t last long.

The other thing that we’ve spent a lot of time doing over the last two weeks is watering the gardens. Rain has been very scarce here this summer. The first three weeks of June were completely dry, then on June 24/25 when the rains finally came. Over those two days we probably had three or more inches of rain. While it made up for some of the deficit, all that rain at one time damaged some of our plants, specifically cabbages. We then went into a hot dry spell and our next rain fall did not come until July 16. That day our rainfall was probably less than an inch. We had a little bit more today and the forecast is for more tomorrow. Feel free to say a prayer that the forecast is correct. We are.

 

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Since the garlic was harvested and there was rain in the forecast my husband spent the day yesterday preparing the garlic field for next years crop. The garlic field has been tilled and seeded with rye grass as a cover crop.

Even though the garlic harvest is done I don’t expect our pace to slow down as there are so many things that need to be done. If we do get a good rainfall we can the spend more time weeding (always easier after the rain). The grass needs to be cut and my husband will be checking the bees and hopefully harvesting honey soon. The list is way longer than that and probably longer than I realize, but I’m sure you will read about some of it as time goes on.

I also hope to get back to posting more often and some of the posts I have planned include a second post about things we are harvesting (if you missed the first one you can find it here), a post about honey, and as I mentioned in a previous post I will be sharing my thoughts about natural skin care.

Thanks for reading and until next time – Be Well.

 

Currants – Worth Their Weight In Gold

I briefly mentioned currants in my recent post Pickin’ and Preserving and wanted to share my thoughts about this wonderful fruit. The following paragraphs were taken from a post I wrote last summer.

IMG_4282“You are a better person than I am,” my husband said to me as I was picking currants. “These berries are worth their weight in gold,” I told him. It has only been in the last year that I have come to really appreciate the value of currants. They are indeed a super food. http://www.madaboutberries.com/health-benefits/health-benefits-of-blackcurrants-and-redcurrants.html In the past I have made currants into jelly and wine. Last summer I began making juice from them and found this to be like an energy drink. In order to preserve the vitamin C I make raw juice. I simply wash the berries then blend them, stems and all, with some water in my nutri bullet blender. I then pour the blend into a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds.  My husband likes the juice with nothing added, but I like to sweeten mine with a little bit of our raw honey. We have been drinking the juice regularly, but I have also been able to put some in the freezer.

Picking currants can be a long and monotonous chore, but currants are not something that I can just pick up at the grocery store, and if I was able to find them at a farmers market I’m sure they would be priced beyond my budget (have you checked the price of gold lately?).  Fortunately currants will stay ripe on the bush for quite a while so I can pick a quart or two a day and go back for more a day or two later. We also grow 4 different varieties which ripen at different rates, so while I am about finished picking two varieties, one variety is coming into it’s prime and the last one is just beginning to ripen.

I have had a couple of readers mention that they love currants and now I am curious. Have you ever had currants? Where do you get them? How to you eat/preserve them? I would love to hear from you.