Sometimes I get a craving for a burger, sometimes that craving comes first thing in the morning. When you’re when your’e feeling hungry for some meaty, bacony, breakfast goodness– cereal just won’t do. I was feeling that the other day! I wanted a burger, not…
How’s everyone’s Quarantine 2020 going? Around here life is still puttering right along. Although we have been largely unaffected by the shut down and coronavirus, things are still a little different for us too. All of a sudden we have become the most famous people…
It is hard to find motivation to get out with the animals in the winter. On warm days there is so much to catch up on. When it is windy and cold, nothing more than what is necessary seems to get done.
I am very happy for electricity this time of year. Having heated water bowls and bottles along with a trough heater is a game changer. It greatly simplifies feeding and care during the winter.
On the warm days we have found ourselves catching up on long overdue chores. Last weekend I could be found in the pasture most of the day. It was finally warm enough that the ground had thawed out enough to muck out the goat shelter, clean up all of the rabbit poop, and clean out the chicken coop. When these chores are done on a more regular basis it doesn’t encompass your whole weekend.
We had some warm afternoons last week, and 15 rabbits in need of processing. It’s so much easier to do the butchering outside, and leave the mess out there, so I snatched up those warm afternoons for that project. The freezer is now full and the rabbit feed bill has drastically decreased!
The warm weather was needed to turn over the compost pile as well. I needed to bury the waste from processing the rabbits in the bottom of the compost so warm weather was a must.
Some days I feel like I am definitely a fair weather farmer. The past two days have been so windy and cold that my animals have seen very little of me. They have been fed and watered, but no one has had any love or treats except the dog. It was -2 degrees yesterday morning! Not my cup of tea!
Warmer weather is on the horizon and I am chomping at the bit! Maybe I need to come up with more indoor hobbies to help keep me happy and occupied during the really cold days!
Prepare yourself for some harsh news… Rabbit is DELICIOUS! There I said it. I know they are cute and cuddly and oh so soft… but also…. oh so delicious!
We raise rabbits for meat. They are an easy to care for inexpensive meat source that reproduces very quickly. We started out with rabbits somewhat by surprise. You can find that story in my post entitled “A Gift from the Farm.”
On our little farm we have a couple of rules about keeping animals:
They cannot be mean! If they are mean in any way, they are not permitted to stay.
They need to serve a purpose.
Lets focus on that second rule right now. We ended up with rabbits due to feral rabbits in the neighborhood. We caught them to keep them from eating all of our crops that year. They destroyed the spring garden and I was not going to sacrifice the plot of land that I had tilled up and fertilized by choosing a new spot on our 1 acre to plant a garden.
So now we had 6 rabbits. We either needed to get rid of them or make them serve a purpose. At first they were just fun and the kids loved climbing in the cage with them to play, but to us it didn’t make good sense to have the cost of feeding 6 bunnies if we were getting no return from our investment. So we gave the rabbits a purpose. They are breeding stock for a meat source.
Rabbits begin breeding by 6 months, are pregnant for approximately 30 days, and grow to a good butcher weight at around 4 months. Its not a bad turn around time.
We started with our 6 rabbits. We have recently inherited a few more, and currently have 4 breeding does and 2 bucks. With rabbits, unless you are worried about keeping pure bloodlines. it is fine to line breed. We have been breeding the buck from our first litter to his litter mates for a year now with no problems. Some say you will end up with stupid rabbits, but if they are a food source they don’t have too have superb intelligence.
We have two other young does that we are keeping for their beautiful colors because we also sell a few as pets every so often. By selling a rabbit here and there it offsets the cost of their feed and lowers the cost of their meat for us.
So how do you use rabbit meat? I am still very new to rabbit. I had never eaten one until I butchered our extra buck last February. I use it like chicken. So far, the easiest way I have found to cook it is whole, in the crock pot. I put it on low for about 8 hours until the meat begins to fall off the bones and is easy to shred.
Once it has reached the shredding stage, I take it out of the crock pot and just shred the whole thing to use in various recipes that usually call for chicken. This week we had green chili chicken (rabbit) enchiladas and Chicken (rabbit) and dumplings. When its used in recipes like this its very hard to tell the difference between the two meats.
Roasted rabbit is good too. Much like a large tinfoil dinner for the whole family. And I am still finding new ways to use it.
The rabbits now have multiple purposes. They are a source of fun and amusement for my children, a great source of fertilizer since their manure is an excellent source of nitrogen, and lastly a low cost source of meat that can be very prolific and delicious!
Cherry season is upon us! And guys! We got our first crop of cherries off of the little sapling we planted this year. Yup! We got… drum roll please….. 4 cherries!
But all joking aside, it is cherry season so it’s time for my all-time favorite desert, cheesecake with cherry topping. So I love cherry pie too, but let’s face it I eat it for the filling not the pie. On cheesecake is the way to go.
My sister bought a home that has a huge old cherry tree on the property. This year we have seen a huge amount of moisture here in Southern Utah and so the fruit yields are high (so far). Well, we picked cherries from 11 til 5 pm and when you look at the tree it doesn’t look like we made a dent.
I came home with 5 buckets worth and nearly 100 lbs of cherries! Let the work begin! After washing and pitting tons of cherries, this is the longest part of the process, I was able to make some of this delicious pie filling and now I can share the recipe with you!
Ingredients: Makes 4-5 quarts
Approx. 10 lbs of washed and pitted cherries
2 cups of granulated sugar
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup water
As I go along pitting cherries I pile them into a large stock pot, when the pot is close to 3/4 full or approximately 10 lbs, I put in onto the stove and turn the heat to medium high. Add the sugar and lemon juice and cook, stirring frequently until the cherries begin to get soft and release some of their juice.
At this point, I mix the corn starch into the cold water and then pour it into the cherries to give it a thickening agent.
As the cherry mixture cooks down and becomes more like cherry soup, I turn the heat down to medium low and continue to let it bubble on the stove stirring every few minutes to keep it from scorching.
Something to note when cooking fruit and sugar, it can scorch quite quickly and easily so stirring is key. Also, using a pot that is nonstick will help with the scorching issue as well.
After about half an hour at medium low, when the concoction has reached a desired consistency, ladle it out into hot washed mason jars and fill until a half inch head space is left.
Process in a water bath canner for 30 minutes. Allow the jars to cool completely before storing.
And that’s it! Now you have delicious cherry pie filling or topping for cheesecake, ice cream or whatever else you can dream up! So go make a cheesecake…. do it now!
If your kids are like my kids, they can run through a quart of applesauce in nothing flat. I know applesauce is cheap, and although it won’t break your budget, but home bottled applesauce is where its at! Bottling anything can be time consuming. And…
I have a deep love for Zucchini! And although I can kill cilantro faster than I can plant it, I can grow a boatload of zucchini without hardly trying! I don’t grow tons of zucchini plants but the few that I grow produce enough to keep my little family well fed.
Have you ever grown zucchini? It is amazing the amount of food one zucchini plant can produce. Growing up I lived in a small town. The only time people felt the need to lock their car doors was during the summer. If you didn’t it often would result in finding bags of zucchini in your car after church. You can only give so much away to the neighbors!
We eat tons of zucchini during the summer months and share it with our friends and neighbors, but we also save a generous amount to enjoy the rest of the year. We shred and freeze it in quart bags so that its easy to thaw and use in recipes such as this one.
This recipe makes two loafs. Only making one is a waste of time for me. If I only make only one or two my kids gobble them up and I might not even get any. (Thanks monkeys!)
Applesauce Zucchini Bread
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1 beaten egg
- 3/4 cup honey
- 2 cups shredded zucchini
- 1/2 cup home bottled applesauce
I like to take my loaf pans and wipe them down with shortening. I used to spray them with spray oil but the bread always got stuck, so now a thin coating of shortening does the trick. I just put a dollop of shortening on a paper towel and wipe all around the inside of the loaf pan and make sure to get the corners coated well.
Next I use my Bosch electric mixer to mix together the egg, zucchini, applesauce and honey. I mix it on high for about 1 minute to get the honey well distributed. Then in a separate bowl I mix together all of the remaining ingredients
Mix the dry and wet ingredients together until combined and then pour into the two greased loaf pans. Using a silicone spatula I scrape out the remaining batter from the mixing bowl. Then pop them in the oven on the middle rack and bake at 375 for 55- 60 minutes. You can use the toothpick test to tell when they are done.
Let them cool and when ready slice, butter and enjoy!
My husband is one good cook! Here is a post he wrote up of a recipe he likes to make that utilizes the potatoes that we grow here on the farm! So here in Dave’s words…..
One of the beauties of cooking in a cast Iron pan is just how versatile they are. You can fry in them, cook eggs, bacon, steak, potatoes, veggies, the list goes on and on. You can cook stove top, fireside, even in the oven. They are super versatile and with proper care they get better with age.
This recipe is one I’ve cooked several times for our family and changed it up a little each time. You start off bringing your cast iron fry pan to a medium temperature on the stove top. You can chop up your bacon and veggies beforehand so everything is prepped and ready. Hint: if you wait until your pan is hot to start chopping, something is bound to get burnt.
Okay, after the pan is hot, you put in your bacon, chopped up small. I just take the whole package and start cutting off the end in half inch increments until I’ve got enough. I used roughly half a pack.
Fry it up until done. I wanted my bacon almost crispy. Pull it out and set it aside. Then take the potatoes and onions, if so desired, and fry them in the bacon grease. I season with McCormick All purpose Seasoning Himalayan Pink Salt with Black Pepper and Garlic blend.
Once the potatoes are soft and starting to brown, I turn the oven to 300-350 degrees. (You can preheat sooner if you choose.) Turn off the stove top. Sprinkle the bacon on top of the potatoes, then cover it all with cheese!
Next take the whole pan and put it in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese is melted. If you like your cheese just starting to brown, you can put it under the broiler instead, but only briefly.
Pull out once the cheese is how you like it and let cool for about 5 minutes. so the cheese finishes melting and cooking. Serve with eggs, steak, toast or whatever other breakfast foods you enjoy with potatoes. This dish is good enough it can be a meal all on its own!
Guest post by Dave Riggs
Our whole farming enterprise all began with bringing home 8 chicks. Chickens that is. We brooded them in the garage and built them a coop and kept 6 hens on our 1/8 of an acre. A small flock was perfect for what we had back then.
A few years later, we moved out onto our current property (1 acre) and in doing so inherited 6 more chickens and 6 ducks. Since then we have maintained between 4 and 8 ducks and our chicken flock has surged to over 50 hens.
But which one is better. By the looks of things you could assume that we are pro chicken. And although we are pro-chicken, we are not anti -duck.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the pros and cons of keeping each.
Everyone is comfortable eating chicken eggs. We let our kids sell the extra eggs to family, friends and around the neighborhood. We have only found one customer who is interested in duck eggs, because he grew up eating them.
Which one lays more eggs per year? Well that’s debatable. Different breeds of chickens lay different numbers of eggs per year. Brown Sexlink are known to lay up around 320 eggs per year, and our most prevelent layers have been the white leghorn. They give about 310 large white eggs per year.
What do you feed them? We let our poultry forage in the pastures, but come winter there is little to forage. And with so many birds on little acreage, the foraging is only a part of their diet. We feed a mix of scratch grains, black oil sunflower seed, and a layer ration. We feed the chickens and ducks all together and they all eat the same food. But boy can ducks be glutenous! The ducks eat so much food! Definitely more than the chickens!
Housing… For our chickens we have a well ventilated coop with multiple roosts, nesting boxes and fresh pine shaving bedding that needs to be changed every few weeks to keep it fresh and clean in the coop. This also helps keep the chickens from having respiratory problems. As for the ducks… well they sleep in the chicken run that the coop opens into, but only to keep them safe from other critters at night. Even on the coldest of nights our ducks have not required any housing.
Chickens can be very destructive with all of their scratching. Ducks however are incredibly messy! Brooding ducks was an experience for sure! I don’t know how 4 ducklings can go through more food and make 10 times the mess and stick that 25 baby chickens can. As they grow up they continue to be messy. Any wet spot in the yard becomes a muddy hole with ducks. Their poop is messier and bigger than chicken poop too!
But ducks are so cute! They waddle, they quack, and they can be very friendly too. Ducks are definitely smarter than chickens. When putting all the birds to bed, the duck are easily herded into the coop. Chickens not so much.
So which is the superior poultry? Honestly, I can’t pick a winner. Ducks have my heart, but chickens are more practical on our small acreage. We keep the few ducks that we have, but the chickens give us eggs that easily sell, don’t make such messes, and are more cost effective to feed. If there was more room for them to forage on our small farm, maybe ducks would be a better fit. But for now its chickens.
What do you prefer? Quacks or Clucks? We love to hear from our readers! Leave a comment and let us know!