Consider how the wildflowers grow....Luke 12:27 NIV
Living small in our 880 square foot cottage and micro farming on approximately an acre of land.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Little Egg Miracle

Everyone I know in the area who has chickens have been reporting that their hens have stopped or greatly reduced their laying for the winter.  This is fairly common as the birds use so much energy to stay warm and don't have the grasses and bugs summer provides.  Most farmers try to remedy this by adding a light bulb or heat lamp to their chicken coop.  Even so, those that do are still reporting great reductions in egg production.

I have 6 laying hens.  Since they only had a dog-house modified summer coop, we put them in the goat barn for the winter.  They have 4 nesting boxes and an old dresser turned sideways for a shelter.  I've littered the floor with layers of wood chips for the deep bedding method of keeping them warm.  The barn is windowless and has no lighting or heating.  In the morning, we open the doors to the barn and at night we shut it.  In foul weather they simply stay in the barn with the doors open, scratching, nesting, and burrowing into the deep bedding if it gets really cold or damp.  We've had it get in the single digits for a stretch of time and the chickens fared well.  So well, in fact that they are still giving us FULL EGG PRODUCTION!

That means, our birds are laying 4-6 eggs a day!  In one 24-36 hour stretch, we got 10 eggs!  And that was after a 3 day snow storm!

Every day I think, "this is it.  They must be done by now," and yet there's eggs sitting there waiting for us.  I am so grateful and I certainly can't figure out how those around me with more chickens and more ideal cooping situations are getting so few eggs, if any, while I am getting summer production in the winter.

I'm not bragging by any stretch.  It's a miracle in my book.  A promise from God to provide.  I still fully expect them to cease such production.  After all, that's what chickens do in winter around here.  But, every day there are eggs, and so many of them, I am thankful.  As we say in our church, all glory to God!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A New Resolve

Yesterday, I brought home the non-smoked round of meats from the butcher from our pig.  As I filled the freezer, my heart leaped for joy and my eyes filled with tears.  Beautiful, delicious, nutritious security that I raised!  I knew this pig.  I knew what he ate, I knew how he lived.  I was involved in his life every step of the way except birth and weaning.  And he provided for us.  It there even a word for it?  Complete is the closest I think I can get.

Hand in hand with God and the land, we raised our food.  All that work, all that new and unfamiliar work for me mattered.  It makes sense.  It has reason and purpose.

Why have we as a people gotten so far from that lifestyle?  We must have felt the wealthy had it better than us and we pursued wealth and convenience.  To what end?  Frozen pizza, and ramen noodles?  Leisure apparently is worth more than fruitful husbandry?  I think so at times, as evident in my recent posts.  Who doesn't like to put their feet up and have luxuries?

But, now I have a new resolve.  My heart swells in anticipation for next year.  I did so much this year.  I stretched myself farther than I ever thought I could.  Imagine how much more I can stretch myself next year!  My children are older, too, and eager to help.  My husband is on board after our successful run.  We can really make Scott Family Micro Farm Work!

Who's to say God won't bless us with a real working farm?  Perhaps He will.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Penny Saved # 4: Using Every Bit of Oven Heat

In my continuing quest to conserve not only pennies, but environmental resources, I became obsessed with using every bit of my oven heat.  I think I finally have it down pat.

I have an apartment sized electric range.  It came with the house.  I realized earlier in the fall that we have a lot of single-use appliances.  We have a furnace that heats water with oil and electricity.  We have an oven that runs on electricity for cooking.  And I'm running both at the same time!  That just eats up money and resources.

So, now, when I turn the oven on to cook (which is nearly every day since I do just about all my cooking from scratch), I add firebricks and a pan of water during preheat.  The bricks warm for residual heat in my cold kitchen (whoever built this house build the cabinets against the outside wall, so no insulation on the west wall), and the water I use for dishes.  I'll add another pan of water during cool down, too.

Now, I'm even more determined to get a Vermont Bun Baker.  Then, I could more effectively cook, heat, and warm water rather than over using all these single use appliances in my house that run on costly electric and/or oil.

Monday, December 8, 2014

T'is A Hard Thing

This past weekend we started wrapping up the meat-raising portion of our micro farm.  Slaughtering time.

T'is a hard thing.

For thousands of years man has been raising and slaughtering his own animals.  You'd think it would come rather simply and naturally with all that history behind it.  It isn't so matter-of-fact.  And it certainly isn't heartless and cold blooded.

Humble gratitude is how I described it on my facebook post.

My husband was a champion both in humane effectiveness and in vulnerable humbleness.  We did our pig and culled a rabbit that had contracted pneumonia.

It wasn't our first animal harvest.  We raised meat ducks a few years ago.  But, this was more poignant.  This was the first from our serious micro farming endeavors.  This was our first large livestock and our first babies born and raised for such a purpose.

I prepared myself for the harvest, finding that balance that every thoughtful farmer and hunter has to.  And as the deed was done, and some criticism from those around us fell upon our ears, I understood deeply that no one has any right to call a thoughtful farmer heartless, cruel, or inhumane.

In our forgetful and convenient modern world there is a place in between survival of the fittest and pet spas.  You can lovingly and carefully raise an animal, slaughter it, and eat it without a hint of heartlessness.  It is called animal husbandry, stewardship.

And it is teaching me to be more thoughtful, more heartfelt, more careful, more environmentally concerned, less wasteful, and yes, even less of a meat-eater.  When your meat comes to you that slowly, over months of care, you learn to ration it more appropriately than just grabbing chicken nuggets out of the grocer's freezer and gobbling up as much as you want.

It is a hard thing, but it is a good thing.

UPDATE:  My pig dressed out at 250 lbs!  Not bad for the runt of the litter!

One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.  The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.  Romans 14:2-3

Friday, December 5, 2014

Vintage Charming Glarming

Among the farm girl pinups I looked for to use in my last post, I found this gem!  The Farmer's Wife magazine!

This is great!

It joins my two worlds.

Maybe Glarming is possible, even if just in little treasured snippets.

Like last year when my husband admired that moment when I was wearing my vintage yellow sun dress, strappy white sandals, had my hair retro-coiffed, and wearing red lipstick in preparation for a vintage flea market excursion while hanging out in the pig pen with our newest shoat.

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Is there a such thing as glarming?  Glamour farming?  There's Glamping, so why not glarming?  Maybe because when you get down to brass tacks, farming isn't glamorous at all.  Open toed high heeled strappy sandals with white socks?  Girl, you ain't been in the pig pen, have you?

Growing up, I had girlhood dreams of classic Hollywood quality of that well-dressed and quaint housewife, tidy, airy, beautifully decorated farmhouse, abundant flower garden, neat vegetable garden, and a red and white farm beyond.  I dreamed of woodstoves, and mending, and the scent of rose or lavender or lilac.  I dreamed of preparing homemade meals for strapping boys and sweat-smiling husband coming in with the faint waft of hay behind them.

Then, I started micro farming.

I don't get to wear pretty dresses and hang out in the tidy farmhouse making meals and smelling of roses.

I wear torn, stained jeans, work outside, my cottage gets messy and tracked up, and I smell of pig poop and goat.

I don't have time or money for a decent flower garden.

I pass up the vintage dress at the flea market because I have to buy animal feed.

We can't earn sole income on a micro farm, so my husband doesn't get to wander in from the fields like a romance novel cowboy.  And even if he did, he wouldn't smell of hay.  He'd smell of pig poop, diesel fuel, and body odor.

Woodstoves are great and I do want one, but they are messy and make everything smell of woodsmoke or bacon, not roses.

And thus my cottage would get messier and I hate messy clutter, especially in such a small space.

The American Dream gets lost in the translation to reality.  And I wonder how much of this desire is based on true farming passion and how much is based on that little girl's fantasy world.

Can I have both?  Can I Glarm?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Considering Goat Dairying Full Time

Back in early November, the goats were returned to their owner to be bred.  I enjoyed having the goats, and I am enjoying not having the goats.  I am very grateful for the experience and the goat's milk, but I am wondering if full time goat dairying is really for me.

You see, I'm enjoying sleeping in on weekends.  I like having time in the mornings to exercise, read, shower, dress, and work online before the kiddos wake up.  I like getting homeschool started on time.  It's nice that I can keep up on the household chores.  There are days I don't even have to go outside because my oldest son is willing to care for the remaining animals.  I relish time for my hobbies.  Do I really want to give all that up again?  I don't really mind for a season, but for a good portion of the year?

While I cared for the goats, I wondered how I'd do this if I fell ill.  I occasionally get vertigo that either leaves me bedridden or bathroom-bound.  And it can be serious enough that I absolutely cannot muscle up and do basic chores.  What if that happens?

Plus, I was just babysitting the goats.  I didn't have responsibility for their medical care, hoof trimming, etc.  I just fed them, cleaned their barn, and milked them.  So, it was actually a savings for us to have them.  If I actually OWN goats, would it end up costing us?

But, oh, that milk!  The self-sufficiency.  The quiet, rhythmic times of milking.

The good news is, circumstances may dictate my answer, anyway.  We moved the chickens to the goat barn and they've pretty much taken up permanent residence.  So, unless we can afford a goat barn in the spring, no goats at all.  IF we get a goat barn, then I still have the option of goat-sitting rather than owning.

Perhaps the answer is not now.  As my children grow older and less dependent on me and more able to contribute to the running of the farm and household, perhaps goat dairying will be more lucrative.  It would be nice to have two available milkers.

I suppose we'll just see where life takes us in 2015.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Apple Juice Used Three Times

My children had apple juice as part of their lunch.  I gave them each a generous cup-full in hopes of using up the last of it in the jug.  I filled their cups with a bit to spare in the bottom of the jug...

You know that bit.  Not enough for a full cup.

And then I left the jug on the counter.

And when I cleaned the living room (they were picnicking), I found unfinished apple juice in the bottoms of cups.

All together, I had a generous cup of probably no longer safe to drink apple juice on my hand and a great pitying not to dump it down the drain.

So, I poured it into my tea pot along with a cinnamon stick and a few cloves.

It's been simmering nicely for a while now, ever so slowly reducing and filling the kitchen with a potpourri scent!

I found a second use for the apple juice.  Potpourri!

But, that's not all it's good for.  Once it reduces to 1/2 a cup of concentrated spiced goodness, it became a confection, apple cider donuts!

Not bad for some humble, old, abandoned apple juice.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Considering Butter

While grocery shopping yesterday, I encountered sticker shock when conventional butter was $3.99 a pound. For a family who can go through 1 1/2 lbs of butter a week, that's a huge chuck of our limited grocery budget.

Of course, being Nourishing Traditions-esque health-minded, margarine is an absolute no-no.  Crisco, vegetable oil, canola oil, corn oil - no no no no no!  But, if I can find ways to stretch our butter, I'm going to.  Here are some ideas:

1. Save the bacon grease from the nitrate-free bacon.  I rarely buy bacon because the nitrate-free is so pricey, but by saving the grease for frying eggs and potatoes, stretches both the bacon and the butter.

2. I look forward to lard.  Our pig will provide plenty of lard for biscuits and pie crusts, which I usually use butter for.

3. Cut back the butter portion just a little.  Yeah, I'm known to drop a full tablespoon of butter onto my oatmeal in the morning.  I can get by with a little less.

4. Coconut oil for pancakes and waffles.  (Hmmmm....maybe I should compare prices, though I tend to buy my coconut oil with free amazon gift cards and not grocery $$).

5. Applesauce for quick breads.  This is a great way to use up the bits and bowls of half-eaten applesauce my kids leave behind.

6. Speaking of quick breads, quick breads and muffins often take less butter than cookies (and less sugar).

7. I also save the butter wrappers.  There's often scrapings of butter left on the wrappers.  I fold the wrappers in half and stick them in the fridge to use when I need to grease a dish.

8.  A pound of local cream is often cheaper than a pound of butter.  I could make my own butter if it came down to it.

9. We have looked into a cream separator for goat's milk.

Do you have any butter-saving ideas?

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Friday, September 26, 2014

A Penny Saved #3: Heating Water

This is so minor, but that's what saving a penny is all about; teeny tiny little things that eventually do add up.

I was making scones for breakfast the other day and wanted tea, so I considered stove top or microwave to heat my water.  Being more of a traditionalist, I poured water into my little kettle and set it on the stove.  Then it dawned on me.  Why turn on the stove when the over is already on and still empty as I worked the scone dough?  I grabbed one of my little enamel pots, put the tea water in it and placed it in the oven.  By the time the scones were ready to bake, the water ready for tea!  One less burner on, one more penny saved!

This is where I really wish I had a Vermont Bun Baker.  One stove, one source of energy consumption would heat the house and cook and bake and heat water!  Some day, perhaps.  Some day.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Wuss About the Cold

The crisp, Autumn air came early this year.  Many fires around the area have already been lit.  The smell of woodsmoke, like incense, wafts through the air.  We're relying on sunlight through west facing windows and an electric fireplace to keep us warm in the mornings and evenings.

As I venture out every morning to tend to the animals I remember something about myself.  I am a wuss about the cold.  I could tolerate the cold somewhat before, but since I got pregnant with my 3rd child, I have been hopelessly intolerant of the cold.  It is painful and all-consuming to me.  If my bones get cold, only a long hot shower and bundling up tight helps.  I have times where every inch of me is shivering under covers, with a hat on in bed.

But, my animals need my care and I hope that I can acclimate my body as I go outside every day to tend to them.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Considering Solar Lights

The back corner of my local Target store had a box of two solar lights for a drastic clearance price.  I bought the box and it sat in my kitchen for two months.  I finally installed one near the pig and goat pens and one on the chicken hut.  And I love them!  They don't last terribly long into the night, but are perfect when we're still doing chores past sunset.

Those little lights got me thinking about how I could harness the sun's energy for my little house.  There are a lot of solar energy incentives these days, but Mr. Scott isn't fully convinced at totally converting our house to solar.  But that doesn't mean I can't do something on a smaller scale indoors.

I came across THIS article for a bit of inspiration.

Also, we have a garage/driveway light that burned out years ago and we never replaced it because it cost a lot to run it.  But I found THIS solar light and I'm seriously considering it.

In addition to those ideas, I'm wondering if I could rig up a solar light for inside the barn.  Right now, I just use a flashlight for evening milkings.

What other ways can we harness the sun's energy on a micro scale?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Another Freebie: Magnetic Paper Towel Holder

While I use a lot of cloth products in the home, sometimes paper towels come in handy, anyway.  Since we moved into this little cottage 9 years ago, the paper towels either were shoved into a drawer in the kitchen, or got tossed about the counter top, always in the way, falling over, and so on.  I tried eliminating having paper towels at all and I was moderately successful at it for a while.  But, paper towels are back in my life and back on my counter top.

With space limited in my small kitchen, I wanted something I could mount under my cabinet.  Unfortunately, finding cabinet mounted pt holders is hard enough.  Add in the complication that my cabinets are 1950's enameled metal, and I need something magnetized...even harder to find!

I held off for all these years and finally had enough this week.  I'm on an organization spree and I wanted that pt holder!  I found what I was looking for online, but I had the choice between $20 plus shipping and get it sooner, or $5.00 and free shipping and not getting it until next month.  Neither seemed reasonable to me.  So, in my quest to get what I want NOW and not pay a dime for it, I scoured the shed, garage, basement and junk drawer and found everything I needed right here to make my own magnetic pt holder:  scrap wood, dowel, finishing nails, semi gloss white spray paint.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Considering Beans and Ration/Depression Cookbooks

Times of lean and times of plenty occur throughout life as well as times of examining the health and well being of one's family.

I believe in a well-balanced, omnivore diet based on what is available locally, what our ancestry tells us, and what is on sale.  *wink*

As we seek ways to burn smaller holes in our wallets and keep our health, I consider the humble bean.  I'm sure we could sustain ourselves quite nicely on a day or two a week of beans.  But, cooking them in delicious ways escapes me.

I seek answers to the bean question and other frugal meal solutions in old Depression Era cookbooks and World War 2 Ration cookbooks.

If you have a recipe or suggestion, please share in the comments.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Our First Egg!

We were surprised to check on the chickens midday and find a little white orb sitting next to their little summer coop.  I don't know which of my girls laid the egg, so I am keeping a close eye on them to see who nestles into that spot regularly.  They do have nesting boxes, but apparently, out of doors laying is preferable to this one.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Book Review: One Woman Farm by Jenna Woginrich

My eyes scanned the titles on the bindings of the books on the shelves in the gift store at Farmers' Museum in Cooperstown, NY.  They made a sudden stop at this one and I snatched it off the shelf like I was going to steal it.  A quick thumb-through and I knew I wanted to read this book.

Let's start with first impressions.  The title caught my eye immediately because between Mr. Scott's career and illnesses, I largely run the micro farm on my own.  The fact that a woman is running a farm entirely on her own (that she didn't grow up in) intrigued me and I hoped to glean inspiration and support from the pages.  If she could do it, maybe I could, too!

I loved the format of the book, too.  It is done in journal form, following days and seasons bit by bit.  This makes it an easy, quick read; two things I need with my busy life.  The illustrations are charming, too, making it a relaxing, content book to read.

Now, on to the content, itself.  Ms. Woginrich has been criticized for being too romantic and idealistic about her farm life in this book.  ( reviews)  I, personally, found it a pleasure to read.  I was under no impression that this was supposed to be a non-fiction account or how-to book.  I knew it was prose and enjoyed the metaphors, related to some of them, even.  The perspective she shared was quite relatable.

Farm life is real.  Farm life is dirty, hard work, painful, exhausting, worrisome, sad.  It is all that.  But it is, beautiful, fresh, new, rewarding, strengthening, hopeful, joyful, too.  Ms. Woginrich shares that wide-eyed side.  She chooses to see that and share that in her prose.  She is living her dream, so why not describe it in a dream-like way?

I also related to Ms. Woginrich's desire to have many irons in the fire.  So much has been lost over time and technology.  I understand her desire to get back to basics....things that were taught from birth and just naturally done in days gone by are now "hobbies" and "past-times," "irons in the fire" and "unnecessary in today's world."  But, to have that ability, to learn that new thing, to try, fail and try again is GOOD.  So, as a read about her new ventures in the book, I cheered her on and hoped for the best.  I, myself tackled a few new to me things this year and I wasn't sure I'd be successful.  The thought that I might fail was humbling, but, I accepted it, shared that reality, grit my teeth and did it anyway.  Reading Ms. Woginrich doing the same was a boon to me.

There were two specific moments in the book that really had me on my feet.  The first was when I discovered that she has a Vermont Bun Baker stove.  I. WANT. ONE!  Reading this bit early on the in the book literally had me scouring the internet for the author.  I found her on facebook, introduced myself and just had to tell her how excited I was to read that she has a VBB.  The second was when I realized she lives just two counties from me, in the same county one of my brothers lives in!  I hope some day we can shake hands.  I'd love to tour her farm, see her little house (another relatable fact), and admire her Vermont Bun Baker.

So, if you want a gentle read, a true story, a beautiful, charming place to escape to, and a bit of inspiration, I suggest you read One Woman Farm: My life shared with sheep, pigs, chickens, goats, and a fine fiddle by Jenna Woginrich.  You can also visit her blog HERE.

*I obtained permission from the author to do this review.  I am doing this review because I wanted to.  I am not receiving nor did I seek out compensation for doing this review.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Planning for Next Spring: Growing Animal Feed

I had a thought the other day as I was picking grasses and clover around my garden for the rabbits and goats to snack on.  My property used to be part of a farm field and thus our lawn is mostly rye, timothy and clover.  Plus, we don't use chemicals on it, so it's great stuff for our animals.  Why not grow some more of our own animal feed?

Ok, we don't have much land.  We have a yard, not a field.  Plus, I'm not so sure the neighbors or zoning board would look well up turning our entire property in a hay field.  But, what's not to say I can't do a little something.

The least I want to do is border my garden in clover (or goat lollipops, as I call them these days).  Heck, I'm part way there, as I have it growing wild in spots around the garden, anyway.

If Mr. Scott agrees, there's a space of lawn between the garden and the edge of our property that borders the farm field that I could till up and plant a little crop of hay in.  (Or just let it grow since it is pretty much hay grass anyway.)  It wouldn't get us much, but it would be something to supplement.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

No More Boiling Tomatoes!!

I've been canning for nearly 3 decades, now and for all that time, when it came to putting up tomatoes, I would set a pot of water to simmer on the stove, put the tomatoes in a few at a time, spoon them out to cool and then peel them.  Oh, the long, tedious task it is when you have a peck of tomatoes or more!

Then, I read about roasting the tomatoes, instead.  Yeah, I've heard about this before, but for some reason it never stuck.  But, as I lay in bed one morning thinking about it, I realized I could do a LOT of tomatoes at once!  And I bet it changes the flavor a bit, too, to something delectable.

So, I tried it.  I was able to fill my largest roasting pan with tomatoes from my garden, popped it in the oven at 300 and let it roast away while I did some homeschooling with my children.  Soon, it smelled heavenly, and the tomato skins were soft and split and ready to come off once cooled.

So much easier and faster.

And the flavor did become more robust!

And I'm making sauce:

Roast tomatoes to loosen skins.
Remove skins.
Drain tomatoes in a sieve or colander.
Puree tomatoes in blender or food processor.
Run puree through a hand mill food processor.  This removes the seeds.
Place in a crockpot with your seasoning on high, uncovered until the sauce thickens to your desired consistency.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Day of Freebies

I had a shopping list of things that needed to be purchased for projects to be done around the micro farm.

Then I paid the mortgage bill and looked at our bank statement.

Let's just say thank God I got the grocery shopping done BEFORE paying the mortgage.

As crazy as it may sound to many people, I actually pray that God would give me the creativity to make do.  We would love to have a working farm someday, but we can't achieve that dream by blowing Mr. Scott's current paycheck on the micro farm we have.

So, here are today's freebies:

The biggest project was making a gate for the side of the barn that houses the breeding rabbits, feed and hay.  The goats, being very goaty, figured out how to bypass the accordion baby gate I had there.  I was going to build a gate out of wood, fencing, hinges and some sort of latch system, but the shopping list for it started adding up fast.  

So, I wandered our property brainstorming when I came across the headboard to the old crib.  I picked it up and thought, "I bet this is exactly the right width!"  And sure enough, it was!!  I cut off some of the leg so the goats wouldn't figure out how to sneak under.  Then I drilled holes in the left side to weave baling twine in for hinges.  I knotted the hinges to the inside of the gate so the goats couldn't chew on them.  Then, I hammered a fencing staple inside the door frame, added a spare latch to the chain I had on hand and voila!  A (hopefully) goat-proof gate for free!  I like that the crib slats are vertical, which keeps the goats from finding footholds.

The other goat project was recommended by their owner.  I needed to install a leash in the milking area to keep the nervous goat from bolting every milking.  Since she is in so much milk, it takes a while to milk her and she gets bored and just wants to leave long before she's milked out. And when she wants to leave, she doesn't care who's in the way.  Let's just say I have a bruise on my bicept from her running me over while milking her.

So, while this doesn't prevent her from dancing all over the place, shifting and trying to get away, she can't actually run down the corridor (which is too narrow for her to turn around in....she's a good sized goat, for goodness sake).

This lead was made from an unused plant hook I had in my bedroom ceiling.  I squeezed the hook part closed with pliers into an eyelet.  I used baling twine (love that stuff) looped through an extra leash latch I had on hand.  Another freebie!

Laundry is a never-ending task, of course, but I was running low on detergent and what I have on hand I discovered I am allergic to.  So, I poured some borax I had on hand, some baking soda, a scoop of an oxygen detergent I had on hand, grated half a bar of my homemade goat's milk soap, added water and some scented oils and made my own laundry detergent.  Freebie!

Lastly, I removed the air conditioners and put the storm windows back on.  That required needing window cleaner.  Well, my dear daughter asked to wash windows for me a week ago and ended up using almost all of what was left in the bottle of Method.  So, I grabbed the rubbing alcohol and vinegar, added some water and made my own window cleaner.  Freebie #4!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Chicken Coop Dilemma

You'll notice on the sidebar that we are asking for donations in exchange for ad space in order to help us fund raise for a larger, winter coop for our chickens.

We had the money all lined up for the winter coop.  The plans were made and the unforeseen and unfortunate happened.  Mr. Scott wound up ill and hospitalized.  4 ER visits, 1 night in ICU, 7 days in the hospital,  and 1 month out of work with no pay.  On top of that, we had unexpected and odd vehicle repairs.  Needless to say our chicken coop money was evaporated.  Winter is approaching early this year, it seems.  Our birds NEED a better home for the winter.  

So, we are reaching out for assistance, but not just hand outs.  In return, we offer you advertising not only here on this growing blog, but also on our facebook page and my (Kate's) personal facebook page.

We also humbly appreciate any donation amount.  

Thank you!

Considering Goat's Milk

This was morning milking from two Alpine goats!
I couldn't be more thrilled with all this goodness!

With so much milk, some is bound to not get used before it goes off.  And when it does go off, it makes the fluffiest, flakiest, tastiest baking powder biscuits ever!

I also had 2 gallons sitting in the fridge that I made into mozzarella cheese, a bowl full of ricotta cheese and enough whey for dinner and breakfast the next morning for the pig.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

Is It Too Much?

I'm going to be honest and candid today.

Because I think I ought to be on such a blog.

I'm not about portraying just the comfortable ideal.

I'd rather be real.

Quite often, I do wonder if all this is too much.  I enjoy the animals and the garden, I really do!  A friend watching me with the animals remarked later how she could see the joy I have tending them.  Fact is, I can do it.  I can handle it....them.  But couple that with everything else and I wonder if I am making myself stronger, or heading for burn out.

Then, I remind myself, it is the busiest time of year.  There's harvest, the animals, winter preparations, homeschooling, and our unique life situations such as illnesses and auto repairs.  I've had a lot thrust upon me that no one could have planned for or foreseen.  

So, part of the garden lays unharvested and I feel that guilty twinge of

Am I doing enough?

Could I work harder?


Am I failing at this?

Will I be able to sustain our micro farm (mostly single-handedly) and be able to care for my children, my husband.....myself?

They love the animals and help where they can.  It is a good learning experience.  They've been champions and hubby is impressed with me.

But, I honestly have prayed that if it is taking away from my family, I am willing to sell out and stop.  Regroup, refocus, maybe try again another time.

But, I don't have the answer.

What I do have are animals depending on me and a harvest wrapping up.
I have weak days.

I have strong days.

I have today.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Goats of a Different Color

Best picture I could get.  They wouldn't stand still!

The goat fairy godmother came and changed my non-milking and almost-dry Oberhasli goats into two milk-full Alpines!  I'm getting nearly a gallon a day out of these two.

I've really come to enjoy milking goats and actually find myself looking forward to it morning and evening.  Despite these two being a much more....energetic...than the Oberhasli, and not used to being milked freestall (they're trained for milk stands), and being so full of milk that my hands are getting quite the workout, I can't help but love milking them.  It is a quiet time of day and I am forced to be patient and gentle, yet firm and deliberate.  I can't stop and I can't give up.  I have to milk on.  I HAVE to do it.  No ifs ands or buts about it (although one of them did butt me this morning during milking).

I've only had them for two days and I look forward to them calming down and getting used to our routine.  No more stepped in pails, or jumping over me to get away, or breaking down the dividing fence in the barn to get to the hay on the other side.  (I reinforced it well this morning).

Maybe I am a goat-girl after all.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Late Nights, Early Mornings, Stinky House Harvest

I'm relishing (no pun intended) my times late into the night and in the wee hours of the morning pickling, canning, preserving, freezing and fermenting.  Any 2-4 hours I can grab to put up our harvest is taken opportunity of.  Those late nights and early mornings offer me surefire times where I can work in undisturbed quiet.

Our garden harvest isn't magnificent, like those in Amish novels, where canning is an August through October marathon and shelves bow under the weight of a thousand filled mason jars.  But, it is a welcomed abundance.  To feed our family through a winter, I would need a garden at the very least twice as large.  Regardless, every little bit is welcomed and produce donations from family and neighbor gardeners as well as inexpensive roadside purchases helps fills our shelves and gives us a taste of that sense of security and accomplishment our foreparents felt.

While I've frozen foods and water bath canned for decades now, pressure canning is a more recent feat, having started doing it only 5 or 6 years ago.  This year, though, my newest venture is fermenting.  The local produce stand cradled large, tight heads of beautiful green cabbages for a mere $2.00 each.  I grabbed a jolly one, brought it home, pulled out Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Reader's Digest Back to Basics, and sliced into that thick head.  After hours of sitting and pounding, I finally got enough juices out of that cabbage to weight it, cover it and set it on my dinging room hutch.  My kitchen gets too hot and cluttered to keep it still and safe.  As a result, the occasional waft of fermentation reaches our noses.  From a distance, it can be as stinky as a distant dirty diaper or rotting mouse carcass, but venture close to the bowl, place nose to towel and sniff and it is delicious sauerkraut, no doubt about it.  Here's hoping it stays that way and fermentation completes without spoilage.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

She Sews, Too!

We are attending a 1950's themed birthday party on Sunday.  I decided to make my daughter a My Little Pony Pinkie Pie cutie mark poodle skirt.

And I had so much fun making it, I'm offering made to order skirts HERE.

I also sell bars of small batch homemade soap from all natural ingredients (no cheap filler oils) for $3.50 a bar.

You can also acquire a jar of my homemade floral jelly (I have dandelion, clover and lilac available in 4oz jars) for a donation to our farm.*

This time of year limits my creativity to homeschooling projects and the harvest.  I look forward to wintertime when I can delve into soapmaking and sewing again.

*These are home-canned jellies from non-acidic products (lemon juice is added).  I carefully follow strict instructions on home canning and my family eats it year round, but you are responsible for realizing the risk of ingesting homemade products.*  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Doubled Flock

I woke up this morning to some of the thickest fog I've ever seen.  This is looking across the farm field next door.  You should be able to see red barns and tall towers over grain bins.  Instead, it is a wall of gray only 30 to 50 feet out.

But, that didn't stop this fellow from crowing at 5:30 this morning!
This is Humphrey Bogart, or Bogie for short.  He is our main man, taking care of his flock and letting us know it is time to get up.

But, we have another rooster!  Turns out our Lauren Bacall (the colorful one) is now Sir Lawrence Olivier!  He's not a very rooster-y rooster, though.  He crows, but it is awkward, like a teen boy's voice changing.  But, he's a sweetheart.  I can pick him up and hold him without a fuss and he's moderately protective of the girls without getting in Bogie's way.
Standing with Sir Lawrence is Myrna Loy (the demure brown/red hen) and Marilyn Monroe (the curvy white and black speckled an ermine coat).

This is Betty Grable.  She's the white one with the pale comb.  Bogie seems most interested in her right now and she's getting pretty good at playing cat and mouse with him.

We also have Maureen O'Hara, the other reddish/brown hen with a bit of an Irish temper.
Jayne Mansfield, the white hen with dark red comb and total escape artist and rebel.
Ginger Rogers, the ginger hen with white striped collar and white tail.

We hope to get two more hens, but we need to build a bigger coop.

No eggs, yet, but hopefully in September they will start laying.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Not a Hipster: Carhartts and Flannel

August has been more like September this year.  With that coolness and beautiful, misty mornings, my thoughts turn to caring for the micro farm as the crispness of fall turns into the arctic temperatures of winter.  

Usually, this time of year I dream of jewel colored dresses and thick, opaque tights with vintagey oxfords.  This year, I find myself staring at flannels and pondering Carhartts and absolutely dreaming of cozy wool socks.  (Wish I knew how to knit socks!)  Instead of buying new oxfords or Mary Janes in a cheeky 1930's turns modern look, I'm wondering if my muck boots need replacing.  

I haven't thrown aside my feminine side and fun outfits in the least.  But, there are other priorities now.  And those flannel lined mom jeans at Tractor Supply are starting to look good....well, maybe not THAT good.

I still dream of looking like this in Autumn:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

My Hands

Being so shy growing up, drawing a lot, sewing a lot and now milking a goat have all been opportunities to notice my hands.  For years now I've noticed how aged they are looking, moreso than my 33 years.  Other friends my age, even older, still have taut, smooth skin, thin veins and manicures.  My skin is loosening, my knuckles look like they don't fit my fingers and my veins are large and in charge.  My nails are strong and long, but rarely manicured.  It just doesn't last.

For a little while it bothered me.  But it doesn't anymore.  I do a LOT with my hands.  I feel a lot.  I experience a lot.  I knit, I sew, I write, I hug, massage, milk, knead, hands are a garden spade, a temperature gauge, a source of comfort.  They've been burnt while cooking fancy meals over open fires.  They're reached for by tiny hands.  They've built things I never thought I could build.  They've hand stitched reproduction 18th century garments used by living historians and on display in museums.  They've been bruised by fencing (swords), scratched and bitten by animals.  They helped extract a deer fetus from the unfortunate mother deer who ran in front of my car.  They've stung from the caustic lye of soapmaking.

How can I not like my hands?!  Even if they do look 50 instead of 33.  They've seen a lot of life and I plan on them seeing more!

*It is ironic that farm life (even my little one, such as it is) ages someone as well as keeps them surprisingly young.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Free Animal Feed

One thing I admit I wasn't prepared for in our homesteading endeavor is the cost of feeding these creatures!  Especially this guy, napping in the shade:

I assumed he'd happily chow down on kitchen and garden waste, but he's as picky as a toddler!  And a hungry pig is a trouble-making pig! He does eat some homemade slop and will pick through some weeds, greens and hay, but for the most part, he's hopelessly addicted to pig feed and carbs.  I'm thinking it is because we got him late in the year, rather than freshly weaned, so he got used to conventional feed before he came to us.  Still, he gets a fairly decent variety of diet, but I'd be so happy if he'd eat more of the free stuff.  In the fall, we'll pick up hickory nuts from the two trees in the hedgerow to give him.  When the garden is done for the year, we may fence it in and let the pig muck about in it to fatten up some more.

The goats are on loan.  They do not belong to us, so they are fed according to the owner's preferences.  No biggie, there.  We get milk out of the deal!

The rabbits and chickens have bins of pellets (from the grain mill next door), but we are surrounded by free food for them.  The rabbits love the lettuce and kale from my garden and the rye grass, dandelion leaves, clover and plantain from the yard.  It just takes a little extra time out of my day to pick through the yard and feed them fresh greens.  The chickens, I learned, will peck through kitchen waste and garden weeds quite happily.  Plus, there are bugs EVERYWHERE. I had quite the handful of grass that had gone to seed and dried that I gave them this morning to peck through.  

We get bales of hay as part of payment for work on a local farm and we can glean from the field next door after they're done mowing and baling.  So all that helps.  I probably only have about a month and a half of free food left.  Frost will hit and plants will stop growing.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Blessings Keep Rolling In!!

This is certainly the busiest time of year and it got busier!

Craigslist can be pretty awesome.  I picked up two of these hutches for $30!  They were in a little bit rough shape, but I cleaned them up, repaired them, and painted them just in time for our rabbit babies to be sexed and separated.  We have 5 girls and 4 boys.

Then, our new to us barn arrived!  Our church gave us their old shed and even paid for delivery!  Completely FREE!  Praise God!  So, my oldest and I got to work and built this:

For these:

And then I had to learn how to milk the one with the blue collar!  I'd never milked anything before in my life and I've never been shown how, but we figured it out pretty quickly.  I'm considering taking on another milker, but I'm not quite sure, yet.

Last, but not least, we have chickens.  From left to right in this picture, we have Lauren (Bacall), Bogie (the rooster), and Marilyn (the white hen).  Hiding is Myrna (Loy).  I'm hoping to get a light brown/tan/cream/blond hen and name her Betty (Grable).  All in all, we want 8 laying hens and we will build a larger coop.

I really feel like I have finally found my niche.  I hope I have.  Maybe it's just the honeymoon period in the fine weather of summer, but I'm loving the sights, sounds and even the smells of having the animals around.  I am so busy, especially with harvest rolling in and homeschooling having started.  I've dealt with escapees and much poop.  I have more laundry to do, but I feel so happy, like it all fits together and just works.  I hope I can expand on this and while I am so overwhelmingly happy with what we have right now, I hope that someday soon we can expand.  I would be in seventh heaven if we could actually have a profitable, working farm.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Please Help a Farmer In Need

Dear Readers,

I ask that you take a moment to consider donating to this family farm.  Even if it is just $1.00, $5.00, something, anything, it'll help them greatly.  I grew up just 1/2 a mile from this beautiful farm and went to school with their family.  We all know the farmer in general and farms are under threat, under appreciated and under tremendous financial pressure to just keep going.  Even with insurance, this is a terrible loss and set back.

Our community is banding together to see to it that they rebuild, and as part of the community, I am reaching out to you to please donate.

A fund is set up at:

You can pay by credit or debit card and you can donate anonymously, too either in name, amount or both.

Thank you!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Chicken Coop for the Soul

It started with a dog house and a wooden crate.  I was determined to turn them into a chicken coop and in 4 hours, I did just that.

And it cost me nothing.  I used materials we already had on hand.

My oldest was my right hand man on the job.  Here we are at the beginning of the project.

Here's the finished product!  (I may paint it since we don't have the chickens, yet.)  The kiddos were inside the pen pretending to be chickens.  The coop is just large enough to accommodate 4 hens.

The project started off well.  I was surprised at how well it was coming together.  Mounting the crate to the side of the dog house properly really intimidated me.  I hit a major snag when the one side of the crate proved too rotten to hold screws.  As I tried to shore it up, the whole back, top and side fell to pieces.  It turned into a blessing in disguise because after rebuilding the rotted out pieces, I was able to make the top of the box removable for easy egg collecting.  The crate made two perfectly sized nesting boxes.  The next intimidating thing was making the door.  Thankfully, it came together so well, so quickly, I was surprised.  

This is likely going to be a temporary coop.  We're still hoping for a barn down back which will house the rabbits, chickens, pig and feed (and two goats we may have on loan until breeding time).  I still hope for a goat barn and dairy at the top of our property near where we have electricity.  That way I can have lights for milking and a have a fridge and/or freezer in the dairy.  

Step by step we are getting there.  Building this coop all by myself (hubby was working) really helps me feel better about my own abilities to work hard and get things done agriculturally.  It's so nice to look out the window and be able to say, "I did that!"  

Now, to just get 4 happy, laying hens in there!  

Friday, July 18, 2014

Busy Playing Catch Up

For several years, Mr. Scott was away from home most of the time due to a career change he made that required traveling.  When he made the change, we were convinced he wouldn't travel much because there was so much work locally.  Unfortunately, the organization kept sending him away from home.  During this time, I was pregnant twice.  (Yes, he did come home some of the time...LOL!)  The pregnancies were difficult and we were all in survivor mode.  Because of this, the house and property pretty much got neglected.  Now that hubby's switched back to his old career (in order to be home with us...that is so important to all of us) and we decided to (pretty much have no choice but to) stick it out here for a while longer, we're putting house and property back in order.

The days have been too gorgeous to ignore, so I've been going out and tackling some things.  I scraped and painted the garage doors and trim.  I repaired and painted the patio railing.  I scraped and painted the front door.  And I weeded out our heavily overgrown back patio (and am envisioning a nicer plan for that area in the future).

Sorry, no pictures.  Flickr isn't cooperating today.

We still have many MANY more projects to do, but it is so nice seeing things come together.  Slowly, but surely.

Oh, and I satiated my feelings of coulda done better with the garden and bought more plants, though I'd better go water them.  I found them shriveled up earlier today!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Content With What We Have

I've been struggling with being content with what we have.  Our garden is doing well and harvest is coming in.

Our pig is a joy to keep and getting bigger by the day.

But, as I gather and care, I get this feeling that I could have done more.  I should have done more.  I get upset that those seeds never germinated, or the wild birds got into that patch, or we don't have chickens or goats, yet and we can't afford a barn yet.  

I actually start thinking, "if this were the old days, we'd starve!"  

Well, thank God it's not the old days and I can run to the grocery store!

And thank God for what we have accomplished just this year alone!  Rabbits, a pig, two raised beds, new bushes, plants, an excellent compost heap and a garden that is thriving.  

I need to remember this and times like these:

Helping mommy shell peas.

He calls crook neck yellow squash, "ducks!"

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Recipe Wednesday #9: Salmon Loaf/Patties

I cleaned out the shed this past weekend and I pulled out a Griswold cast iron griddle!  It fits perfectly on my stovetop, so the other day I used it to make salmon patties.  It's a simple, inexpensive recipe for a fish dish.

2 cans salmon, drained, bones removed (I buy my cans of salmon at Aldi)
2 or 3 day old biscuits grated or crumbled
2 eggs, beaten
salt, pepper, seasoning to taste (I tend to use garlic and onion powders, paprika and sometimes parsley)

Blend all ingredients together well in a bowl.  Form into patties and fry on medium heat.  Or press mixture into a greased loaf pan and bake, covered at 350 F for 20 minutes or until set and lightly browned.

The best thing is ALL my kiddos love the loaf and the patties, even my pickiest one.