Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Post Holiday Chill Down

The day after Memorial Day is usually a day of rest around here. We do, after all, tend to escort the summer in with lots of activities.

This year we stayed home and grilled lots of food and swam in the pool until it started to get dark.

Then we warmed the movie projector up and watched an outdoor movie. Although I had neglected to get the movie popcorn popper out, I tried to redeem myself by frying some home made funnel cakes.
It was pleasing to us all and I was almost sick from eating too many. I love a good funnel cake!

Now we are preparing for another outdoor movie night this weekend. I would say the summer has started out with a bang and will most likely not slow down any time soon.

Today we had to recuperate from the sun and fun from yesterday. I am sipping hot tea and prepping the kids for an early bedtime.
We do have more summer tomorrow for our enjoyment.

I will be back in a few days, after I get some rest! Here are more pictures from the horsing around of yesterday!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Catch Up

Is it the number of kids here who keep me so busy or is it the farming? Either way, I have been occupied wrapping up the school year, ordering books for summer and fall, and everything else that happens when you have a large family and some farm animals too.

Lucy, the family cow, is officially on a milking break as we are drying her up. She is due to calve August 1st and although a 60 day rest would have been sufficient, I opted to go with a 70 day rest. She's just a tad bit on the thin side plus she's an older cow. I decided that a longer break was warranted, and although her udders look gigantic she seems to be feeling okay.
This, of course, means I get a 70 day break and that I will be buying store milk again soon. (sigh) Can't have it all I guess. :-)

We bought supplies to put up a horse fence for Jonesy so that we can move him from the milking paddock this summer. We are waiting for the pasture hay to be cut and then post holes can be dug. I am sure he is ready to move to a private paddock too because the chickens and goats gather all around when he is fed, pecking and licking at every grain he drops from his mouth. He's a messy eater.

The other new project happening is that our meat chicks arrived. Never in a million years would I have ever thought I would raise birds for the freezer but I have decided that commercial chicken is no longer acceptable. Some one has to raise and process poultry locally so it might as well be us! It will be another adventure to follow, right?
We purchased Cornish Roasters, not the huge Cornish Crosses that grow extra large, although these roasters should get quite big. There are Red Rangers out there that forage better but they do not have as much white meat and well....that's my favorite part of chicken. We are also using the Joel Salatin model of pasture raised poultry. If you are local you can buy directly from the farm here, just drop me a line. Right now the chicks are in a brooder box with a heat lamp. When I get them moved outside I will  update with details on how we are housing them, etc. In the meantime I spend as little time as possible with them so that I can keep that distance. I don't want to make them pets.

Gotta love the South too for it's early spring! My garden has all sorts of things blooming and I spied a tomato and zuchinni already! Perhaps it would be wise to clean the pantry tomorrow and get my canning items organized!

This weekend is the official kick off of summer around here and we will celebrate with lots of family and food and perhaps even a movie outside. We bought new speakers and want to try them out!

Monday promises to be full of pictures because my IT techs will be home to help me figure out why I can't get them downloaded. Translation: Journee and Quinn will be home to help me because I am not computer savvy.
Until then, I leave a "Hey girl, Ryan Gosling" photo for all of you fabric freaks (like me) to enjoy!

What plans have you made for the weekend?

Friday, May 11, 2012

You Butter Believe It!

Hello my friends!
It seems the last post on my Freak Show stirred up a little talk.
That's a GREAT thing! Kudos to all of the Freaks out there....keep it up!

Butter is what I want to discuss now. I made 10 pounds of butter a week or so ago but it had a smell to it. Not a bad smell, just a different smell.
Well, turns out that I was making "ripe" butter, as some call it. Some also call it European butter.
It happens when you sit the cream out on the counter for 12 hours to warm up to room temperature and it then also cultures a bit. Interesting.
I am using that butter for baking. I can't seem to adjust to the scent because I am used to sweet cream butter.
Well, sweet cream butter is when you whip the cool cream past the whipped stage and into butter.
It's. Very. Good.
This week I made 6 pounds of it and we will use it for lathering toast, etc.
I want to share that if you are making butter (isn't everyone?) I found this little flat butter spatula excellent for getting all of the water from the butter. I found it at Lehman's.
I love that catalog. Is it just me or do ya'll love combing through the pages and finding a ton of goodies you need  want?

I also packed this table butter into one cup containers so they would shape up round, since my butter dish is round. I wish i could claim that brilliant idea, but I got the idea from a friend.
After the butter freezes a bit I wrap them again so they are extra protected because butter can pick up any odor from the freezer......not that mine EVER needs a cleaning, mind you.

I never realized until I got a family cow how flavorless dairy products are in the store. Especially since we moved Lucy onto some fresh, lush grass with clover. Her milk smells "grassy" now.

Everything tastes wonderful, it's just when it comes from the store, it really has no taste at all. We whipped some cream a couple of days ago and I thought we would all founder from scarfing it down.....yummy!!


We have a couple of hens who have made nests and are sitting on them. Two days ago a hen came out from the woods with her brood of 15 babies!!!!! They were so very sweet following mama hen around. She's good to keep them within the wood line, well protected.

This afternoon I was outside with the boys washing my van when I heard the cheeping around the corner.

She was there in the front yard with her babies, scratching for bugs and grass to eat. It's such a beautiful scene, a mama bird with her babies. She sat on those eggs 3 weeks in the woods in all kinds of weather and now she teaches them how to forge and survive.

If you are lucky enough to witness this beautiful sight, then you are lucky indeed. It's nature in a perfect setting. I was so happy that my kids all get to experience it everyday!

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Blueberry Muffins, a New Horse, and Our Little Freak Show

Ah....the days have been crazy! Okay, so most days are a little crazy but this week it seemed like we had several burners going.
Tonight I can say that a few of those burners are now off and I hope tomorrow we are all back on schedule.

Last week I posted a Chocolate Breakfast Muffin that we enjoy. This time I am sharing my Blueberry Muffin Recipe.
Any large family knows that when the little ones start waking up, breakfast needs to start hitting the table! What to feed 7 kids? Honestly, there are many mornings that we have cold cereal. Cheerios.
It's really not a big deal to not get up and fix a HUGE and HOT breakfast. After all, my kids are home all day, remember? We can snack at 10 am while we do school:-)

There are other days when I do crave something hot that is NOT oatmeal, so muffins fit the bill. Here it is, but I double the recipe.
I also combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl the night before and set the eggs and butter out. When I wake up, I only need combine everything and pop them in the oven.

Blueberry Muffins

1 ¾ C flour
¾ tsp salt
1/3 C sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs beaten
¼ c melted butter
¾ C milk
1 C blueberries ( add after everything is mixed)

 Combine everything and scoop into muffin cups. Bake at 400. Makes 12.


Part of the reason the week was crazy is that we got a horse. Well, my oldest got a horse.

They look miserable together, right? 
We were actually a little worried about his transition out here, but so far it has been smooth.
He does feel a little defensive around the cow, but sweet Lucy is polite enough to ignore him.


I know that everyone lives their lives a little differently from one another. I have friends with all different life styles and I accept that not everyone does things like me.
So I was surprised when my husband told me about  a friend who views our life as a freak show
I guess since we have many kids and farm and home educate we are "different."
I also suppose since I have my niche of close friends who also have several kids and farm and home educate I see my life as "normal."

Devin, who is great at looking at the other side, tried to convince me that we are not the normal "Jones" type family and so we are different.
I accept that, but I am not sure I agree that we are a freak show. (sigh)

At the end of the day I don't really care. I accept my freak show. 

I feel sorry for those who do not get to experience the freak show for themselves because it's pretty damn awesome. It's a life that can't be fully explained, only experienced. It's appealing to many, but only the faithful and courageous are willing to step out and enjoy it's rich blessings. 
And if you are truly lucky, the freak show brings with it hot muffins and hot coffee with fresh, raw cream in the morning!

He that raises a large family does, indeed, while he lives to observe them, stands a broader mark for sorrow; but then he stands a broader mark for pleasure, too.

Benjamin Franklin
Happy Wednesday! Here are some freak show photos from the week so far!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Why, I Must Be Wonder Woman!

If you home school, have more than a few kids, sew clothes or quilts, or (as I have learned lately) have a family cow...then you must a wonder woman! Oh how that statement is so far from true!

Notice I have not been blogging this week because I am not wonder woman. I am a mom and wife with 7 kids, a growing farm, and too many projects going.

Life is good:-)

I decided this week that I would not spend hours in the kitchen making cheese, and instead opted to hang out on the pool deck to enjoy my kids swimming in the 80 degree heat.
It was a wise decision.
I chose to clabber several gallons of milk and use it to feed the chickens. They loved it and I loved doing nothing.

We also indulged in a new favorite muffin for breakfast this week. These are so perfect with a hot cup of coffee, especially with fresh milk in the coffee.

These are Chocolate Breakfast Muffins and the recipe is from the King Arthur Cookbook. I found the recipe HERE online for you all, but I did not use espresso powder or the pearl sugar on top. I am telling you to bake these because they are really, really good.

Finally, it has been a busy week with animals and boys, especially the youngest boy.

He has managed to find crayons and markers, despite my efforts to keep them put away, and has expressed himself through art all over the walls throughout the house.
He is also wanting to be outdoors all of the time. A few days ago he managed to dart out the back door and took a tumble down the hill, scraping his nose up a bit. (sigh) We have tried in earnest to get the kid outside more these last few days.
Yes, that is yummy raw milk dripping from his mouth. :-)

This weekend is packed full of "to do" lists that includes mulching the garden beds, staking tomato plants, inspecting bee hives, and cutting fabric for a quilt class. I can manage though.
I am super woman!

Hope you have a super weekend! Crossing my fingers for some rain!

Before I sign off, I wanted to share that I was discussing politics with Fletcher this afternoon. He was playing in the water hose and when he took a break I decided to discuss the "latest" with him.
He's a smart boy and really took time to consider and develop his thorough opinion of the political state here in our country.

I admit that I can't argue about this sentiment!!!!

Happy Friday Ya'll!!!!!!
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