Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bring All of the Animals Into the House

I have a serious case of project ADD. I can't seem to concentrate and finish one single thing.

I have been wanting to clear the junk out of my house. All of the junk, the crap that does nothing but sit and sit for years, serving no purpose.

                                        ***Beautiful Arwen***

Early in January I was doing well too. I cleared out my clothes and organized my fabrics and I really thought I was full steam. Now I am distracted by my ever growing "to do" list.

Now, I don't want it to seem like the walls are falling here, but I seriously have got to get my bootie back in gear.
Yesterday we loaded Lucy up and took her to the farm of my A.I. tech. Her last A.I. did not take and we felt like she needed to be around other cows so the tech would know exactly when she was in standing heat. The weather was rainy and windy but Devin only had one day available to load and haul her.

                                  ***Headed to load Lucy onto trailer***

When we got there Lucy charged out of trailer to meet the other bovine ladies that had gathered around the trailer. Cows are such curious creatures. She seemed to enjoy the company. We will get her back in about a week.

SO, you would think with no milking chores we would be set, right? Pfft!

All of this brings me to my point.

Raising kids is busy. Managing a farm (no matter the size) is busy. Educating your children at home is busy.

There are and always will be days when nothing seems to get accomplished or finished.

There are and always will be days when the house feels small, cluttered and messy.

                                   ***Speaking of messy, Athena is a messy eater!***

When the kids were all much younger we had a little audio book from Chik Fil A, one of the kid meal gifts. It was a book on tape from the show Between the Lions. You remember that show? I loved it and so did the kids. Great show.

On this book was a story about a man who was discouraged because his house was so crowded and small and cluttered that he didn't even have room to "put on his pants."
He went to see the village wise woman and for a fee she told him the solution. She told him to bring all of his animals into the house.
Of course he did and after a few days he went back and complained that it was even more crowded, messy and cluttered.
For a fee the wise woman gave him the solution.
She told him to take all of the animals OUT of his house.
Of course his perspective had been changed and he was much happier with his surroundings.

                                  ****The calf is now 6 months old!****

When we feel cramped and discouraged here, we simply say "bring all of the animals into the house."

Change of perspective.

                                           ***Zelda kissing Journee***

Here's hoping you have a positive perspective.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Spring Workshops

We have three workshops lined up for this spring.
Although a newsletter went out last week, I wanted to give some details here for all of the local folks who might be interested.

First a Backyard Chicken Workshop.

This workshop will give you the knowledge and confidence to keep and raise a small flock of laying hens in your own backyard. The eggs provided by back yard hens are much more healthy than store eggs and a few hens are very simple to care for, plus they provide a great experience for children.

This workshop will be held March 16th from 10am until 2pm. The cost is $100 and includes a starter brood kit (box, light, water, feeder and food) for baby chicks PLUS 4 baby pullets (hens). You will leave the class with your own baby chicks and all the supplies to begin caring for them. *attendees are responsible for checking with the city ordinances for laws regarding back yard poultry.*The chicks will be a combination of Buff Orpington, Black Australop, and Easter Egger (blue egg layer).

A deposit of $50 is required by Feb 16th. Class size is limited.

Second, Basic Beekeeping Workshop

This our second year offering this workshop. Attendees will learn the basics about bee life cycle, keeping a hive, and the equipment needed. An observation hive will be set up so that the bees can be observed closely.

Date of workshop is April 13th from 10am-2pm with a rain out date of April 20th.

Cost is $50 and includes a copy of book Backyard Beekeeping.

Deposit of $25 is due March 13th. Class size is limited.

Third, Vermi Composting or Worm Farm Work Shop
This workshop is for those who always wanted a worm farm for kitchen compost.
Attendees will learn the basics of composting with worms and will go home with a complete worm farm ready to go (with 2000 red wigglers!). I do suggest keeping the farm in your home until the weather warms up.
Here is a picture of the farm:

This workshop will be May 18th from 10-2pm and the total cost is $85. A deposit of $40 is due April 13th.
This will be a fun workshop that I think kids will love too!

Pastured Chicken will be offered again this year. The chicks will arrive the first week of May and will be processed the end of June.

The price is the same as last year $15, and a deposit of $5 is required per chicken.
If you are interested in ordering any pastured raised chickens, I suggest you do so soon! I have a limited number available.
If there is enough interest I will run a second batch in September and have them ready the first week of October.

Thank you for being part of our lives and our farm. If you are interested in any of our workshops, please send an email to

Friday, January 18, 2013

Baking Sour Dough Bread

Just joining? You can catch up:
Sour Dough Starter Day 1
Sour Dough Starter Day 2
Sour Dough Starter Day 3,4,5,6
Sour Dough Starter Day 7
Maintaining Sour Dough Starter

Now that your starter is ready it is time to actually bake a loaf of bread.
There are two things I must emphasize before we get started.

1) Sour dough bread takes a bit of time. Do not bake on a day when you are out running errands. Plan  baking on a day when you are home. There are a few rise times involved so baking this bread is great for days when I am home cleaning or doing laundry.

2) This is an artisan bread. If you want to bake a plain loaf then you can certainly bake this like you would any other dough, but it truly is best when you bake it artisan style. For this you will need a hearth-like oven. You can accomplish this by baking on a stone if possible and adding steam. Placing an empty cast iron skillet on the very bottom rack of your oven will work. You will add some water to that skillet just as you start baking the bread and the steam will create an authentic artisan loaf.

Let's get started!

Sour Dough Bread or Pain au Levain

5 C all purpose flour
3/4 C whole wheat flour
1 3/4 C water
2 1/2 C starter
2 1/2 tsp salt

Combine the flours in a bowl. The whole wheat flour gives the starter a little extra nutrition!
In another bowl combine the starter and the water. Add the flours and mix until combined but not smooth.
Cover with plastic wrap loosely and let rest 20 minutes.

Add salt to the dough and knead until it's smooth. Try not to add flour, you want the dough to be slightly sticky. Adding too much flour will ruin the texture of your bread.
Cover loosely with plastic and let rest 1 hour.

Gently turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.

Gently flatten the ball of dough out with your fingers. Be gentle so that you do not push all of the air pockets from the dough.

Now that you have a flatter piece of dough, you want to fold it up. Fold one side over, then the opposite side. Repeat with other two sides until you have folded your dough. Be gentle:-)

Your dough should look something like this. Now return it to the bowl, keeping the seam side down. Allow to rest and rise  for an hour. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Now it's time to take the dough and form a ball. Gently turn the dough out and fold the sides under until it's a ball shape. Be gentle and do not stress too much about the shape:-)

Now the dough needs a final rise. You can allow it to rise on a lightly floured surface or you can place it in a bowl to rise. The advantage to a bowl is that it will keep a more rounded shape. I use a brotform bowl, which is a bowl  made up of bamboo. Before I had the brotform I would line a bowl or basket with a floured tea towel.

Which ever method you use, you will need to flour the surface. Now the dough will rest for 2 hours. It's time also to prep your oven . Place a cast iron skillet on the bottom rack so that you can place water in it later. Preheat oven to 450.

Turn your dough out onto a piece of parchment paper. You will need to place two slits across the top of the dough. Be quick and decisive and try not to smoosh the dough. These slits will allow the dough to rise and expand while baking.

Place the dough in the oven. Pour about 1 cup or so of water into your skillet or whatever pan you have on your bottom rack. Close the oven door! Steam will be released immediately and this will give your bread a nice, hard artisan crust.
Allow bread to bake about 50 minutes. This is a large loaf and will turn a nice rich color when finished.

Allow bread to cool on a rack. Pat yourself on the back for baking a wonderful loaf of bread from scratch!!!!

Time for an egg in a blanket! Don't forget to feed the little bit of starter you had left! Give it 1 C of warm water and 1 C flour! It will be ready tomorrow for another loaf if you are ready.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Maintaining Sour Dough Starter

Your sour dough starter is now active and has bubbles throughout. Right? Good.

We will be baking a loaf of bread but first I want to cover  how you can maintain your starter.


When you maintain it daily, you will have to feed the starter each day.
You will discard all but 1/2 C of the starter and then add:

1 C warm water
1 C flour

Mix well, cover loosely and all to set at 70-80 degrees temp.

If you plan to use the starter the next day, feed it twice with at least 6 hours between feedings.

I admit that daily feedings for a long period of time can become a chore, but I do suggest that you keep it daily until you have baked a few loaves of bread and become familiar with your starter.


Weekly feedings can be great for a busier schedule. You will discard all but 1/2 C starter and add:

1 C warm water
1 C flour

Mix well and allow to sit on counter for 2 hours. After this 2 hours place the starter in your fridge for a week.
After a week, remove starter and feed again in same manner.
When you want to bake bread you must start a couple of days  early by removing starter, feed it and allow it to set out for 24 hours. The next day feed it twice and keep it out on counter. The NEXT day you will feed it and after 6 hours it will be ready for use.
All of the work those 3 days increased the activity of your starter.


Now, we will bake a loaf of bread Saturday. Let's keep the starter on daily feedings and it will be ready to go then!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sour Dough Starter Day 7

You can catch up with:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3, 4, 5, 6

Day 7!!!  It will not be long now and you will be baking a loaf of sourdough bread!

Today, you need to stir your starter and discard all but 1/2 C of the starter.

You will need to transfer your starter to a larger container that is about 2-4 qt and either glass or plastic. I use a plastic ice cream bucket.

To your starter add:

1 C warm water
2 C all purpose flour

Mix well and until the lumps are all gone.  Your starter should now be active with bubbles. For another day or two we will keep the starter on a daily feeding schedule.
Keep the starter in its warm spot. Tomorrow we will feed it again, only a different amount.
After a coupe of days we will bake some bread!
After we bake bread we can place the starter in the fridge for weekly feedings if that suits your schedule better.

I will be back tomorrow!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sour Dough Starter Days 3,4,5,6

You can catch up by visiting

Sour Dough Starter Day 1

Sour Dough Starter Day 2

Today when you look at your starter you will likely see some small bubbles. Don't fret if you don't, but give the starter a stir and see if some bubbles are not present.

For the next 4 days we are going to simply feed the starter, only we need to feed it regular flour and twice a day!

Days 3,4,5,6

Discard half of the starter.
Add :
1/2 C warm water
1 C all-purpose flour or bread flour.
Mix well and place in warm spot for 8 hours.
Repeat in 8 hours.

 At this point you are feeding the starter twice a day. Now if you forget a feeding, do not worry much. just pick back up and feed it.

                *****Starter after being fed bread flour and water. It's ready for warm spot for 8 hrs****

By day 7 you should start noticing a sour smell, if you haven't already. I will be back with instructions at that time because we will need to increase amount of starter and transfer it to a larger container. I will use a plastic ice cream bucket.

Congratulations!!!! You will be baking bread next week!


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sour Dough Starter Day 2

 If you are just joining, you can catch up !**** Sour Dough Starter Day 1****

Today is the second day of making a our dough starter.
I know that you can go online and buy a ready to go starter but sometimes it's more fun to make it yourself and it's always good learning  new skill.

Your starter might look like this:

So now you need to take your starter and stir it a bit. you might notice a sour smell already.
DISCARD half of the mixture and add:

1/2 C warm water
3/4 C rye flour

Combine and place in your warm spot for another 24 hours.

                              ******Starter is ready for another 24 hours of warmth******

Tomorrow the routine changes a little and we will switch to all purpose or bread flour. Make sure you have some ready!!

In about 5 days we will start baking!!!!

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sour Dough Starter Day 1

So I was craving sour dough bread and decided to post how I make my starter. It's really simple if you can be patient. It can take a week or more for your starter to be ready for use.
If you bake quite often and use yeast then your starter with ripen quickly as the starter will pick up the micro flora that is roaming in your kitchen air. If you are a novice it might take a little longer.

Day 1

You need to use a non-reactive bowl. I use a glass storage bowl to start and will later move my starter to a plastic ice cream bucket. You need a lid but you will not be tightly sealing the lid.
The molasses is a starter food source for the starter. Yes, you need rye flour. Don't fret if you end up with extra rye flour, in the event you had to buy a 5 lb bag of the stuff. I will show you a yummy and easy way to make deli style rye bread soon.

In your bowl combine the following:

1/2 C warm water
1/8 tsp molasses
3/4 C rye flour

Stir these things up and place lid on bowl but make sure it is loose. Place your starter in a warm area to start working for 24 hours.
This can be difficult in the winter. I usually use an electric heat pad with a kitchen towel wrapped around it and place my bowl on top. This year, however, my heat pad is in the garage under old towels for the cats to sleep on and stay warm. I actually went to shop for a new heat pad but the new ones have automatic 2 hour shut off. Bummer.

What I have decided to do, and is working great, is I place the bowl in my oven on the top rack and turn the oven light on. This light keeps the temperature about perfect for the starter, 70-80 degrees.

So this is all you do for the first day. I will be back tomorrow to tell you what to do for Day 2.

*****The mixture is ready to be placed in warm area for 24 hours*****

               ***********Your oven light is a warm source for your starter************

See you tomorrow!!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Chicken Noodle Soup

Okay, I have spent the past few days getting things ready here to start back this week. I have school books and materials organized in decent order and I have about 3 "to do" lists going.
Additionally, I have my calendar planned out (as well as can be) to include ship dates for chickens and process dates, as well as last frost dates for garden planting. We also have planned some workshops this year: Backyard Chicken Workshop and Basic Bee Keeping Workshop. If all goes well I plan to add a Worm Farm Workshop.

I have also been knitting my first sweater. It's been fun and relaxing, although I wish it were moving along more quickly. I am taking a class through Craftsy. I am knitting the Top Down Icelandic Sweater and I admit that I was surprised at how wonderful the class has been. The instructor is fabulous too. The class is on discount now so if you are at all interested in learning something new, check out Craftsy. They have other classes too...not just knitting.

Chicken Noodle Soup is a yummy treat that everyone loves. I make my own broth with chicken backs from our pasture chicken. You can use store broth though.

Everyone has their own version of this comfort soup, but I'm going to give you mine. I like to make this especially when the kids are getting the sniffles. Please excuse the poor picture quality. My camera is not focusing well and I have no clue where to take it and have it serviced...with out shipping it off for a hefty price. Any suggestions in that area are most appreciated. I have a Canon Rebel.

Chicken Noodle Soup

1 Onion Chopped
5-7 Celery stalks, sliced
4-5 carrots chopped
3-5 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
2 boxes chicken broth (I use 1 gallon home made broth)
1 package dry egg noodles (home made would be great but I have yet to make them)
1-2 chicken breasts frozen or 1-2 C cooked, shredded chicken

 In a large stock pot saute the onion, celery, carrots and garlic in about 2 TB olive oil until veggies are a little sweaty and onion slightly transparent.
Add Chicken broth and bring to a boil.
If you are using frozen breasts, add them and let them cook in boiling broth until done. Remove and shred with two forks.
Add egg noodles and shredded chicken. Boil until noodles are al dente.
Season with 1tsp salt and lots of pepper. (I use 2 tsps. or more sometimes)

Serve with crackers. We also like this soup with sliced Colby Jack cheese.


A few days ago we had eggs in a blanket and I was wishing I had some good sour dough bread for my egg. When my blog was at a different address, I made a sour dough starter and posted all of the steps. I think I am going to do that again.
This week I will start my series on making sourdough bread using a home made starter. If you are interested in following along( I promise you can do it!!!!) you will needs these items:

1 1/2 C rye flour
1/8 tsp molasses
non-reactive bowl with loose lid. I use a cool whip container or plastic ice cream bucket.

This will get you going for a couple days. After that you will need some all purpose flour or bread flour.

Hope you have a fabulous day!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year! *Video link fixed!*

I cannot believe another year has gone. I have spent the last few days trying to rest and relax.

Today I am planning and gearing up for the remainder of our school year and all of the activities that go along with spring. I have a pile of seed catalogs to comb through too as I plan the garden.
It's pretty cold out here now but I know spring weather is just around the corner. I love Georgia:-)

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas and New Year.

I will be back Friday but I want to leave with my annual year in review through pictures!

Have a great week!

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