Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Poultry Flock Photos

This morning I took more pictures of our poultry.  Actually,  I never took photos of the turkeys or Dark Cornish, except for the mama hen and her new chicks.  So I guess I should say I took photos of what we call Barn #1, which is the laying flock and the ducks.  The turkeys and Dark Cornish chickens are in Barn #2.

Aren't those the cutest little fuzz balls you have seen?  If you could have heard the mama hen, she was just a clucking away calling them to the food.

Now they are getting the idea!  Standing right in the feeder.

Here we have some of the ducks before I let them out of the barn this morning.  The dark brown one with the white head and neck in the front is one of our males we have for breeding stock.  Then the small gray one right over his back is our newest male we are keeping.  And then the big white and black one with his head down to the right  of the chocolate males head is our third male.  He has black legs with yellow feet.  The girls have named him Yellow Socks.

The black duck with the tiny spot of white on his neck is a male that is for sale.  So is the white/black one next to him.  They are both males.  Then the two chocolate/white ducks in the left side of the photo are females that are for sale.  They were the latest hatchings of the year.  They will be breeding in the Spring. 

Our two males right next to each other in the left corner, plus our newest gray one in the center.  The two white ducks in the background are some of our breeding stock females.   Also the little one in the center.  Her name is Khaki, when she was younger she was almost a solid khaki color.  Now she is turning more gray on her tail and wings and her head has gotten more white.

The three brown/white hens in this photo are all for sale too.  Anybody want to buy some pretty Muscovy ducks for $15 each?

This is a picture taken of the layers waiting at their little chicken door to go outside.  The one Speckled Sussex hen was perched on the waterer and looking right at the camera. 

The rooster on the roost is one of our Speckled Sussex roosters.  He is really pretty.  He and I had a go around here awhile back.  He attacked me one day without any reason other than he thought he was the boss!  Well I took after him with the broom and chased him clear out in the field.   Then he thought he would come back for another try, I happened to be watering the cow at the time, so I put the hose on stream and gave him a few good squirts with the water hose!  We had a couple more "discussions" but he finally conceded that I am the BOSS of the barnyard!  Otherwise he would have ended up becoming what Sally and Audrey call "mean rooster stew!"  ; )

Everyone waiting in line to get outside.  Little did they know it is a terrible day out today.   Pouring rain and cold.  It is after 10 am and it is still only 43 degrees!

And here is a picture of our Araucana rooster.  He is so pretty in the sunshine!  You can see the nursery in this shot.  Inside the chicken wire are the ones I took pictures of yesterday.  They are several weeks old now.  We have them in their with their mama hen until they are big enough to go outside.  This way the other chickens get used to them and won't pick on them when they get let into the main flock.  Of course I noticed several of them  are roosters, so when they are grown they will go into the freezer.

And that is the last of the new photos for today!  Maybe tomorrow I will take photos of the turkeys and Dark Cornish in Barn #2.

Monday, October 26, 2009

New baby chicks!

Our Dark Cornish hen has hatched out three babies.  She has 4 more eggs, but they were put under her a couple days later, so we shall see if they hatch.  Anyway, these are our Dark Cornish/Sussex cross chickens we are going to be raising for meat.  The Dark Cornish hen has proven to be a good setter.  Now we will see how well she raises her chicks.

They are so cute aren't they?

I picked another wheelbarrow load of tomatoes from the garden yesterday.  The things I have left to do this season are:

Make ketchup and juice from this batch of tomatoes.  Make sauce and juice from my apples, make kraut, dry and grind my paprika peppers for paprika powder, can the rest of the peppers, make jams and jellies from my berries and fruit in the freezer.  Then I will be finished with the harvest.  It sure has stretched out for a long time this year it seems.  I am so thankful for the harvest.  God has blessed us again.

Here is our alien tomato!  Isn't that funny how it grew those two appendages?

Sally had to model the tomato too. And of course Audrey also pictured below.

Yesterday for fun the girls went out in the field where we have a huge maple tree on the outside of the fence.  They took the rakes and raked up leaves into a big pile and took turns hiding in it.  What fun to be a kid again huh?

This is a photo of the previous hatching.  This is the Blue Andalusians and the Rhode Island red/ Blue Andalusian cross.  They are growing so fast!

Their mama is the Buff Orpington.  She is a really good mama hen.

That is about all the news on the farm today.  Have a blessed week everyone!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Salsa Anyone?

We have been making salsa for days it seems.  What else do you do with a wheelbarrow load of peppers and tomatoes?  I think we ended up with 46 pounds of diced tomatoes, and about 30lbs. of peppers.  We have been canning and freezing salsa for what seems like forever!

I think we will have a good supply laid in for winter when we are finished. The above photo is a close up of the salsa in the pan.

The above picture is of some of the jars after being canned.  Looks more like Picante sauce than sala to me, but it will be good no matter what you call it.

I have a batch of lacto fermented salsa in the fridge.  It is a gallon sized jar full.  Then we have 8 qt zipper baggies of it in the freezer.  I have 13 pints canned and probably 25 more pints to can.  I don't know how much we have eaten fresh the past few days on top of the canning and freezing!  We are surely getting our vitamin C with all those peppers and tomatoes.

More news from the farm would be we bought a second freezer.  We bought it from an ad on Craig's list.  Come to find out it came from some old friends of Ed's.  Small world!

We had to get the second freezer to accommodate our meat supply.  Sadly I said goodbye to my sweet old cow Bessy.  She never was going to give us milk, so we called the butcher.   That was a week ago.  I couldn't write about it until now, as I was too heartbroken to think about it.  I never knew I was so attached to that cow.  She was more like a pet dog to me, than a cow.  We will be buying a new milk cow that is actually milking in the spring.

Here are the girls giving Bessy some apple treats and brushing her before the butcher truck came.  It was a sad morning for sure.  They got over it rather quickly.  It was I who cried for two days!  But of course she was my cow, so I had been so close to her.  Bless her little cow heart!
So with several hundred pounds of beef being processed and in another couple of weeks having the pigs butchered, we really needed that second freezer.  We will have lots of meat from the two pigs and the cow.  Plus my freezer already has chicken in it and the produce from the garden and orchard.

The pantry shelves are looking really good.  For the first time since Ed built the pantry shelves for me, I will have completely filled the home canned shelves.

Harvest season is winding down at last.  I have more tomatoes in the garden and my herbs to freeze and dry.  I also have some apples to juice, make into sauce and just can some for pies.  Then there are the berries and some of the other fruits I froze for making jams and jellies.

Kraut to make too.  Then it will be sewing season!  I can hardly wait! 

How quickly this year is passing.  We have only two months left of this year.  Christmas will be here before we know it.

Here is Audrey showing off her pumpkin that we grew in the garden.  How do you like the hat?  It is a big cabbage leaf held on with her headband.

And here is Sally with her pumpkin and her cabbage leaf hat!  The things these girls do to entertain themselves on the farm huh?

Most of the cabbage are hanging upside down in the basement.  We pulled them up by their roots and trimmed the excess outer leaves, then hung them from the rafters in the basement with baling twine.  They should hold up quite well for some time for fresh eating.  The rest of them will be made into kraut.

That is about all the news here at Bountiful Acres Homestead.  Hope you enjoyed your visit!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A day on the farm

Today was an easy day on the farm.  I did my normal barn chores, cooked breakfast for Ed and saw him off to work.  Then I cooked breakfast again for the girls when they got up.  I straightened up the house a bit.  Then I made more laundry soap.  Fixed some lunch, put the eggs in the cartons, wondered around looking at the garden, taking note of what needs picked and processed next......can we say tomatoes????  : )  Then I took some pictures of the greenhouse being built.  Picked some raspberries, yes, we have raspberries in October!  Took a handful of them to Mom and picked one of the last roses to put in a vase for her too.

Yeah, I was very lazy today!  I took some photos of the day to share with you all.

Laundry Soap recipe

2 cups Washing Soda
2 cups Borax
1 bar Fels-Naptha soap
1 bar scented soap

Here is what you need to make some laundry soap.  In addition to water, a bucket and something to grate your soap with.  I cheated and used the food processor.  You can grate it on a cheese grater by hand and that works fine too.

I use the extra bar of soap for a thicker product and it smells nice too.  First you grate your bars of soap.  Add 2.5 qts. (12 cups) water to a pan.  Then add the grated soap and heat and stir until the soap is melted.

This is what it looks like when you first add the soap to the water.
This is what it looks like when the soap has all melted and dissolved into the water.  Turn the heat off.

Then add the Borax and Washing Soda and mix until dissolved.

Next, add 8 cups of hot water to your empty clean bucket.  (I use a 5 gallon one I bought at the hardware store just for making soap in.)  You can see I used my coffee maker to heat the water.  Make sure don't use the measurements on the coffee carafe as those "cups" are 6oz. ones.  I measured the 8 cups of water into the coffee maker with a regular measuring cup.

Next add the soap, Borax, Washing soda mixture from the pot into the bucket with the hot water.  Give it a good stir.

Then  add 2 gallons, plus 3 qts. of tap water to the mixture.  Stir thoroughly again.  This is where I add some essential oils for scent.  I usually use a lavender  or citrus oil of some sort.  Stir again.  Then you let this sit overnight.  It will gel up nicely.  I then pour it into my gallon jugs that I made labels for.  Use a half cup or up to one cup per load, depending on size, and the level of soil on the clothes.

Here is how it looks when all mixed up.

You can see I have almost a full bucket of laundry soap now.  This will last me several months.  It costs only pennies on the dollar.

If you want to read my original post about making laundry soap you can read it here.

Then it was time to fix some lunch for my family.  We have lots of fresh veggies to eat from the garden,  so that is always good place to start.  Earlier this morning I had washed and bagged up my spinach, crookneck squash, onions, broccoli and cauliflower.  So I grabbed those out of the fridge.  Chopped them up and put them in a pan with some olive oil.  Looked like this.

It looks pretty good, but I think it needs something to jazz it up a bit.   So out to the garden I go.

Oh yes, lets pick some flat leaf parsley and some curly leaf parsley, that is always so good!

Oh yeah, how about a couple of tomatoes for color and zing?  Now we are cooking!

Now that looks much better.  To this I added about 3 cups of cooked rice.  It was a scrumptious lunch if I do say so myself!

The next chore of the day was to put eggs in the cartons.  I had two baskets full.  This is several days worth.  How many dozen eggs do you think are in these two baskets?  Go ahead and take a guess!

Okay, I will tell you the answer.  It was 9 dozen with one egg extra!  Aren't those such pretty eggs?  We sell what we don't use for our family.  The price for a dozen eggs is $3.  So when we sell this many eggs, that will buy two bags of feed.  We try and sell enough eggs to pay for the chicken feed, and the feed for the ducks and turkeys.  That way we break even.  One day it would be nice to sell enough to actually make some money on them.  But for now this is good.

We buy 150 blank egg cartons at a time from a place online, then I write our name and phone number on each one.  They are not too expensive.  Sometimes folks bring their cartons back so we can reuse them.  The only trouble is, most people have a habit of cracking open those eggs, dropping them in the pan, then setting the empty eggshell back in the carton.  Which in turn soils the carton with raw egg dribbles.  Or they leave the carton next to the stove and spatter that bacon grease over it.  Sound like your house?  Mine too, until I started selling eggs.  : )  Now I am a fanatic about keeping my egg cartons super clean!  We can't really reuse a carton that is not in pristine condition.  But I do have another use for them.  They are great filled with soil and used to start your seeds in.  Just set them in something that is waterproof so you don't soak what ever it is you have it sitting on when you water.

Here is a photo of my greenhouse being built.  My dad (on the left) and Ed are almost finished with one half the floor.  The girls of course were right there being supervisors to the project.

The greenhouse will stretch another 16 feet towards the gazebo when it is finished.  The dimensions will be 12' wide by 32' long!  That just might be big enough to grow a few plants!  Plus the citrus orchard will live there during the winters.  You can see the stack of windows behind Audrey's head in the picture.  That will be the main part of the walls.  I am so excited to be getting a greenhouse again!

Psst.........want to hear something funny? Guess what the girls were doing out there?  Clipping their finger and toenails!  I thought that was pretty funny!  Beats having them clip them on the carpet in the house right?  : )

And that my friends is how my lazy day went on the farm today.  Tomorrow will be back to the canning.  Oh, and  doing some laundry now that I have soap again! 

May the Lord bless you where you live.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Beans, beets and birthday party!

Saturday was Sally's 7th birthday.  Our youngest is now seven years old.  Time sure flies!  We had her a party at the local pizza parlor.  She had a blast, got lots of gifts and at the end of the day told us "This was the best birthday I ever had!" 
The birthday girl having her pizza.

Sally and her friend Naomi.

On Sunday we canned our small harvest of shell beans.  I got 9 pints of them.  I was happy with them as it was my first year to grow them.  I didn't know they were pole beans, so they never had anything to grow on.  Next year I will be prepared and they will do much better.
We did 27 quarts of pickled beets on Sunday.  Then yesterday we did 71 quarts of plain canned beets!  We are stocked up on beets in the pantry.  Here is a photo of some of them cooling after coming from the canner.

I am giving that new stove a workout with my canners this year!

It has proven to be a good purchase.  It is wonderful for canning.  I love how the grates are across the complete top.  Make it easier to set the canners evenly.  Plus I use my power burner for the bigger canner that takes longer to get up to pressure because of its size.  The big canner holds 14 qts jars and the small one holds 7 qts.  So I can do 21 qts at a  time.  Sure makes it go so much faster!

What is next on our list of things to can?  Probably pears, apples and more tomatoes, salsa, peppers, and if I am feeling energetic enough, more pickled beets.  Yes, I have another row of them in the garden waiting on me to do something.  Maybe the pigs would rather have them?  We shall see.