Author: Denise Riggs

Our Second Year with Bees!

Our Second Year with Bees!

Three weeks ago I opened my bee hive for the first time this season. I had seen activity in the hive and knew that they were at least alive, but I didn’t know the condition of the hive. I don’t have the best track record 

The Breakfast Burger

The Breakfast Burger

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 

The Breakfast Skillet

The Breakfast Skillet

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

Homesteading During Quarantine

Homesteading During Quarantine

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 

Farming in Winter

Farming in Winter

Farming in winter is tough! Some days it seems like it’s just not worth it. Can the animals just find their own food so I don’t have to brave the cold today?

Merry Christmas from the Farm

Merry Christmas from the Farm

Today we woke up to a white Christmas. It was beautiful. It was exactly what our oldest son had been hoping for, our animals? Not so much.

We had a great morning watching the magic of Christmas unfold for our 3 crazy monkeys (our children), but then had to brave the cold and the snow to go out and take care of the morning animal chores. One thing about this lifestyle is you don’t get a day off just because it’s a holiday. In fact the holidays often add extra responsibilities if you are also taking care of others’ homesteads while they are away for the holidays. Right now our 7 year old is being tasked with caring for our neighbors’ animals in trade for his piano lessons he takes from her.

Chores aside, there are some special things on Christmas that come from this lifestyle. Here are a few we enjoyed this year.

Home made gifts! The favorite gift found under the tree this morning for each of our children was a hand crafted treasure box Dave and I made for each of them in the wood shop.

We have also been enjoying our early Christmas present! We got a new arrival last week with the birth of our first calf. Our Dexter cow, Sequoia gave birth to a beautiful bull. Since he is red the boys have taken to calling him “Mario.”

Lastly we have been enjoying a favorite Christmas treat, Reindeer Jerky! And now we share the recipe with you!

To begin take a nice roast of whatever meat you prefer. This year I used a few elk roasts from last year’s harvest and defrosted them.

Cut the meat into strips approximately a quarter inch thick. Using a mixing bowl or baking pan layer the strips of meat and coat well with salt, pepper and any other seasoning you choose. For us this year we used Lawry’s Season All salt.

When covering each layer with salt it is best to use non iodized salt and shake enough on the meat that you can just begin to see the salt. It is important to get enough salt in the brine to cure the meat, but at the same time don’t add so much that it becomes too salty!

When your layering is complete, cover the container with plastic wrap and allow it to cure in the fridge for 4 or 5 days.

At this point you have two options for drying. You can string up the jerky to air dry for a week or so, or use a dehydrator and leave it to dry for approximately 18 hours.

Growing up we used to string the meat on bailing wire and hang it in the basement. Last year I received a Presto dehydrator for Christmas and we enjoy using it to have jerky without the wait time.

The kids love the “reindeer” jerky! It also makes for a great gag gift for white elephant parties and a great gift for someone who already has everything!

Merry Christmas from the Riggs and all the animals on the farm!

Meal Planning: Making Life a Little Simpler

Meal Planning: Making Life a Little Simpler

You do it every day, but yet the question still remains… What do I make for dinner? This is often the scene at my house: it is 4:30 (or 5:00, possibly even 6:00 some days) and I am asking myself the same question I have 

Being My Goat’s Midwife

Being My Goat’s Midwife

We knew baby goats were on the way but we didn’t know how fast they would come! What a wild ride! Over the weekend we more than doubled our herd from 4 to 10 goats! These babies are so sweet!

A Foul Faceoff-Chickens or Ducks? Which is better on a small homestead?

A Foul Faceoff-Chickens or Ducks? Which is better on a small homestead?

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.

Duck, chicken and bantam chicken eggs

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.

Raising chickens in the chicken tractor until they were old enough to integrate into the rest of the flock.

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!

Raising Baby Ducks

Raising Baby Ducks

Raising baby ducks is not for the faint of heart, or gag reflex! Unless it is summer time and you can keep those cute fluffy quackers outside from day one, don’t try to brood ducks. We had inherited 6 ducks when we moved out to