How 25 fuzzy butts turned into 35…

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Just a few short weeks ago, we got our 25 new chickies in the mail….well it was supposed to be 25, but 27 fuzzy butts showed up. ūüôā ¬†Yay for extras!

Man, did we have issues getting chicks this year. ¬†First off, we’ve never ordered¬†this early. ¬†We started looking in February, after the Valentines day massacre (that’s what we’re calling it anyway) when we went to close the girls up for the night and found one of them pecked to death. ūüė¶ ¬†So sad, we had no idea what happened at first. ¬†We thought something had gotten into the coop, but there is just no way for that to happen so we deduced that it must have been one of the other hens that did it. ¬†That and she had blood all over her beak…that was the obvious clue. ūüėČ

So we decided that rather than chance another going rogue, we made an appointment to send them away to freezer camp. ¬†That left us chicken less…for the first time in 5 years!! ¬†It was odd not tending to them daily. ¬†Then the littles arrived and I was back on chicken mamma duty. ¬†I figured that we’d get them free ranging by 8 weeks or so, but I neglected to do the math. ¬†You see, the chickens as yummy, friendly and egg filled as they are here for tick control. ¬†They love to eat ticks! ¬†That is the whole reason that we have them. ¬†I am deathly afraid of ticks. ¬†They are creepy and carry disease. ¬†YUCK! ¬†We don’t want to use¬†chemicals on the lawn so that the kids don’t get Lyme disease, only to end up poisoning them, that seems like a bad plan. ¬†So enter the chickens. ¬†Although they free range year round, I like to get them out as soon as the snow starts receding so they can get a jump on the bugs. ¬†But, as I said earlier…my calendar and my math skills did not sync up this year so we had not birds to eat the bugs early on.

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About 3 weeks old

Anywho…Our first day outside this year and I see a tick crawling on the tiny blonde hairs leading to my baby’s angelic face. ¬†Cue the freak out!! ¬†AGGHHHHH!!!!

There is no way that I could wait the 4 weeks until the little ones could get out to eat the bugs so the search was on.  Within 2 days we had found 8 organic laying hens and within a week they were re-homed to our little farm and eating all of the bugs that their little hearts desired, as well as tearing up my flower beds.  A small price to pay for peace of mind.

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The “older”gals

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Meeting each other for the first time.

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First day in the sun!

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Escape¬†artists…they popped right¬†through the fence!

I love these birds.  They are funny little creatures to watch and interact with and just having them roaming around feels like home.

So…Welcome all 35 fuzzy gals! ¬†We’re glad to have you!

Spring is not here yet….

I’m not sure that I have EVER wanted spring more than I do this year.

I am not quite sure if it is because we just finished reading The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder or if I actually feel like this has been the longest winter EVER!

Long Winter

Either way I am desperately craving warmth and sunshine even though the low tonight is supposed to -9 degrees….I am trying to be positive as the over 4 feet of packed snow in the yard dwindles slowly. ¬†On the warmer days, every inch it melts is one inch closer to seeing grass. ¬†It usually seems to happen over night anyway.

One way to “feel” spring before it happens around here is to order our chicks and piggies for the year! ¬†We have done that already! 26 day old chicks will be here next week (some for meat and some to keep for eggs) and 3 piggies in a few short months!

The newest additions to the farm this year….. Drum-roll please….

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30,000 Honey Bees!

Yes…we (actually the hubs) is taking on the chore of bees…which is good because although I am not scared of bees and really appreciate all that they do for us, they creep me out…they are in the buggy category after all. ¬†I am getting better with that part of farming, although not fast enough in my opinion!

Next is a dairy cow…Oh, how I long for a dairy cow!!

Someday….*sigh*

Balance…

Balance… The dictionary defines it as “a state of equilibrium”

As one can plainly see, I have not quite struck the nail on the head with this balance thing for the past few months. ¬†This blog is very important to me as it is a written history of our journey, a journey that we begun just about the time that I started this blog. ¬†This blog is for me, it is for my family, it is our past, present and future. ¬†It’s purpose is to be our story. ¬†If along the way we help others along their journey with a quick tip, recipe or nudge to do something that they thought was impossible, or even a laugh…that’s great! Yay!

So…Back here I am. ¬†I seldom get quiet time with all of the happenings around here, but when I am blogging, people seem to leave me alone.

I’ll take it! ūüôā

My friends…this has been our busiest season yet for our businesses and being so, I got pulled away from much that I do. ¬†There was less time for homemade items and new recipes. ¬†Our Christmas was a little lighter on the homemade gifts this year, but fun none the less. ¬†My dreams of sitting near the fire reading (with all of the down time that winter should bring) hasn’t happened yet….but it is good to have a busy business! ¬†With the business, balance is harder to come by though…balance with the kids homeschooling, balance with our farm (thankfully only 15 chickens are hanging out with us this winter), balance in our family life and marriage, balance with the household, balance in general. ¬†I am beginning to find balance again…through routine and schedules. ¬†I am NOT a routine person…let me say that again. ¬†I am NOT a routine person. ¬†I much prefer to just do what comes, however with all that is coming at me lately, I’ve decided to try the routine route and see what come of it. ¬†Sticking to it will be the hard part…but I believe that it will make my life easier…at least I hope it will.

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All said and done…we had a wonderful Holiday albeit busy. ¬† Hope yours was wonderful too<3

Elderberry Syrup and Colds….

A few years ago, we were headed on a trip to North Carolina in the spring and our little one started with the sniffles.  I was pretty sure that nothing was going to stop me from visiting my sister, so off we went to Whole Foods to visit the vitamin guru there.  He suggested that we give our little guy elderberry pills often, until he was better.

So we did…and it worked!!

Ever since then, we’ve had a steady stock of elderberry ¬†lozenges/pills in the cupboard. ¬†Then I saw the syrup, easy to swallow and tastes great. ¬†Whenever we get colds, it’s a one-two punch of the elderberry pills and syrup. ¬†But, they syrup is expensive, it can be upward of $24 a bottle for organic! Yikes!!

We recently went to the Common Ground Fair here in Maine and bought a bottle of elderberry syrup from a local company. While it was great, it lasted us only a few days and had agave in it, which I am not a super fan of.

I thought, if they can make it, I can too!  So I started researching it and found organic elderberries online, ordered some, got busy and then put them aside.

My Mom recently got a bad cold and I thought, no better time than the present.

The benefits of elderberries, especially where colds are concerned are big!  They are a great source of vitamin C, are full of antioxidants, have anti-vial and anti-histamine properties.  Elderberries also reduces mucus and inflammation of the sinus and mucus membranes.  I also recently found out that it can help with your complexion and wrinkles!

 I AM IN!!

It is recommended that you take a daily amount of 1-2 teaspoons and 1-2 tablespoon every couple of hours when fighting a cold or flu.

Now, as I said, I made this in a hurry for my Mom, so the pictures aren’t great. ¬†Next time I will do a better job with the pictures and update them when I do.

So, here is the recipe:

1 1/2 cup dried Elderberries

7 cups water

2.5 teaspoons cinnamon

4.5 Tablespoons fresh ginger root or ginger powder

2 Teaspoons cloves

2 cups raw, local honey

(It is important to make sure that you allow your elderberry syrup to cool to below 90 degrees before adding honey in order to keep the integrity and healing powers of the honey.)

Place the elderberries, water, cinnamon, ginger and cloves into a pan.  Bring the mixture to a boil, cover and bring down to a simmer.  Continue cooking for about an hour and a half or until the mixture has reduced by half.

Strain out the berries. ¬†I couldn’t see throwing the berries away so I shared them with the pigs and chickens. ¬†They loved them, gobbled them right up!

Let the liquid cool to about room temp.  Add the honey and stir well.  Pour into bottles and refrigerate.  It will last several months in the refrigerator.

My kids LOVE the flavor of the syrup.  Sometime when I make iced tea, I throw a couple of handfuls of dried elderberries into the tea as it is steeping.  I strain the tea, add some, ice, juice and honey and YUM!

Do you use elderberries?

I have heard that you can make wine out of them as well! ¬†That would certainly make any cold more bearable. ūüėČ

The last of the warm summer days…

Every year about this time I look around and think, did I have my windows open enough this summer?

Did we get enough fresh, warm air?

Did we do all that we wanted to this summer?

The answers:

There is never enough open window time. ūüôā

The air is always fresh, though not always warm. ūüôā

No, the summer escaped us, but all of the major ideas were accomplished.

Our garden was not uber fruitful this year. ¬†We had a giant crop of cucumbers early on, before the beetles got them. ¬†The ¬†tomatoes did well before the hornworms got them. ¬†Zucchini also did well, before the beetles came…We just donated the garden to the pigs, they loved it and are still digging out there, for a few more weeks anyway.

The seasons seem to change so fast around here! ¬†One day it’s sweltering, the next the fire is roaring. ¬†I fear that I’ve hung my last load of laundry on the line until the spring. ¬†As much as I will miss all of the outside doings, I will have more time to take care of things inside now. ūüôā ¬†Bring on the baking, blogging, crafting and homeschooling!

I am ready. ¬†We have had a very busy summer and are ready for a little slowdown. ¬†We have some buttoning up of the farm around here, the chicken coop needs to be cleaned out and winterized, the pigs off to the butcher, summer gadgets put away for the winter and on and on….

Now that the warm weather is coming to an end, the grill will go away and so will one of our favorite meals. ¬†It’s quick, a great vessel for leftovers and tastes great…

Since this is a quick grilling pizza, your sauce and toppings must be warm when they are put onto the pizza.

We used some leftover bacon from breakfast and garden goodies to make this one…

Pre-flip…

Post Flip.

Grilled Pizza!!

1 Dough ball

Leftovers from the fridge, garden etc…

Sauce

Cheese

¬†You can buy dough at the store or make your own. ¬†I always pick one up while shopping, it keeps great in the freezer and is so quick and useful. ¬†This dough was an organic sample given to us (perks of the “other” job)

Pre-heat grill to high, scrape your grill clean.  It often helps to take an old, clean towel drizzle  it with  olive oil and rub down the hot grill grates (quickly) using tongs to hold the towel.

Let dough sit out at room temp for about 20 minutes.  Rub a little olive oil on a sheet pan (leaving the corners dry).  Hand stretch the dough then place it on the tray.  Stretch the dough to the corners of the tray pressing the dough into the dry corners  (it helps the dough from shrinking back).

Meanwhile heat your sauce stove top.

Saut√©¬†all of your toppings. ¬†I often just do this in a pan on the grill, top down with the pan handle sticking out while it is heating up….why waste the heat. ūüėČ

Now….

Turn your grill to medium-high.  Slide your dough off the pan an onto the grill.  Close the grill and wait a few minutes.  Your dough will rise.  You are looking for nice grill marks on the underside and a nice crust.  Once that is formed, using a big spatula, place the spatula under the dough and begin to lift, quickly place your other hand to guide the top when flipping and continue the flip.

Now it’s time to top your pizza with the warm sauce, cheese and toppings. ¬†Close the cover and allow cheese to melt and bottom to get a nice crust. ¬†Once this is done, lift one side of your pizza, slide your original pan underneath and Voila! Dinner!

So Easy…you can omit the sauce and make it into a flatbread….

Pre-cook eggs, add salsa instead of sauce and you’ve got breakfast pizza…

Give it a try! ¬†It’s an easy way to keep the kitchen clean and cool. ūüėõ

If anyone out there has any organic remedies for squash beetles and hornworms, I’d love to know! ūüôā

Pigs, Pasture and Amazing Grace….

After a VERY busy few weeks, things around our little farm have calmed down a tad…well, enough for us to tackle a few of the things on the to do list. ¬†One of the big ones was to move the electric fence outside of the pig enclosure to move the Babes into fresh greens. Well, it was more like getting up the nerve to¬†move the electric fence outside of the pig enclosure to move the Babes into fresh greens.

It’s a pretty nerve-racking feat. ¬†You see, the hubs is not home for most of the waking hours and that leaves me to “chase” pigs, should the need arise. ¬†This is not something that I feel is in my repertoire of things that I am good at, but the pigs needed some fresh greens and this is the easiest way, so my fears remain on the back burner.

So, move them we did and what many have told us it is true, they say that pigs won’t cross the line where an electric fence was…that is unless there is pig feed on the other side! ¬†We opened the gate and they went right up to it, but not past it. ¬†We tried to coerce them, push them, chase them and nothing until I shook the feed bucket and they came a running, right past the gate into the field. ¬†Those Babes truly LOVE their organic pig feed!

Whenever they see me, they snort, grunt and occasionally bark and when I grab the feed bucket they start frothing at the mouth, literally.  NEVER, ever come between a pig and their feed, they go nuts trying to get to it!

( A happy pig, is a muddy pig. ūüôā )

Once they were through the gate, they started chowing away on the greens and digging up the dirt with their snouts looking for bugs and whatever else smells yummy at that moment. ūüôā

Once they were settled, the hubs and I grabbed a couple of chairs and just watched them do what they do while we sat in sun chatting about the future, our goals, and dreams for our bigger farm. ¬† The kids were actually playing and getting along, then we heard it…bagpipes! ¬†Seriously?!? ¬†Now, where we are situated, there aren’t a ton of people around us and hardly anyone is around on a late Sunday afternoon, but someone was playing the bagpipes.

¬†As magical as it seemed at the moment, I soon realized that it was coming from the church not too far away. ¬†There were no services at that time, just someone playing amazing grace on the bagpipes. ¬†There was no traffic and no noise, just peaceful amazing grace. ¬†Even after I realized that the sound wasn’t coming from the heavens (bummer), it was still magical. ¬†After all, it isn’t everyday the we are treated to a private concert of amazing grace while sitting in the sun, talking about what the future holds, watching our kids play peacefully and seeing our animals enjoy new pasture.

It was a magical, well needed afternoon.

Thank you Bagpiper, whoever you are ūüôā

Mud, Mud……

I wish I could sing that song “mud, mud, I like mud….I’m absolutely, positively wild about mud”…but alas, I cannot. ¬†ūüė¶

It is not in my DNA to like mud or even messes, which is a really funny thing considering our little farm here!

Maybe it’s my subconscious telling me that it’s time to change my dirt free ways, maybe, just maybe. Although I am learning to be ok with messes and muck, I don’t think I’ll ever like it. ¬†This past week my muck-less ways were really tested as it rained and rained and rained followed by 2 days of REALLY heavy rain. ¬†All was fine and dandy until Sunday when the hubs went to feed the piggies and they were all but floating in their pen. ¬†Their house and bedding were under water and their entire pen had about 4 inches in most places with deeper spots all over (those of which I found myself, lucky me!).

Out we went to move the pig house, once we did that we just watched the water flow right under the gate of the pen and just pooled¬†wherever it wanted to. ¬†Thankfully we had an extra set of hands! ¬†My Hubs brother-in-law was here and he had the brain power to just watch the water and let it-lead us on the route out of the pen…so trench one was built and ran directly through the pen to empty it. ¬†Then the real work began, the boys dug a huge trench to move the water away from and around the pen. ¬†Thank goodness for quick thinking!

Everything is wet, but drying, thankfully.  As for the chickens,  this batch is not afraid of the rain and was fully embracing it for its worm producing qualities, taking a break on the porch every once in a while.

Getting out of the rain….

Our standard footwear these days…

What’s left of ¬†the mud bath at the Piggie Pen spa….

They didn’t mind half as much as we did!

Oh…the treasures they are finding in the mud!

Trench one finally dried…

Trench 2 still running with rain water…

More water!

And there you have it…mud, mud and more mud.

¬†Not a dream situation at all, but hey…it’s all part of living on our little farm.

Life is getting back to normal as the sun decides to share itself with us, things dry and we are all still a bit soggy, but a bit wiser for it. ūüôā

This Moment…

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo -no words – capturing a special moment. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

*Idea courtesy of Soulemama ‚̧


Around the Farm…

I’m not exactly sure what qualifies one as a farm, but to me, it is a big white house and an even bigger red barn. But seeing as we aren’t quite there yet…I suppose 15 chickens and 4 pigs puts us in that category even without the barn. ūüôā

Well..It’s been a while since my last update and since late April through May for us has 7 close family birthdays, a special memorial weekend for my Dad a wedding and much, much more…I’m trying to squish everything into a few posts.

So…here goes…

Just one of the spring tulips…

~Two of the ladies doing what they do…

~Feisty the pig…

~More of natures beauty…

~Red checking out the camera…

~Blue digging up the dirt…

~One of the tulips that made it past the chickens…

~Pinky taking a break…

~Wanting to eat the camera…

~Typical shoe wear ’round these parts…

~Getting a little drink…

The piggies are growing faster than I could have imagined and love to eat everything from twigs and bugs to scrambled eggs! ¬†They love to scamper around and frolic when sprayed with cool water on a hot day. ¬†We gave them some beach balls to play with and they love them! ¬† They are tilling the soil for us faster than we could have imagined as well and we are discovering just how rocky that area is. ¬†Looks like there is some major compost and soil that’s going to be needed to make that area into our giant garden for next year as we had planned.

Our chickens are happy and eating all of the bugs in the yard and the occasional flower or two. ¬†I now know why farms don’t have typically have manicured flower beds. ¬†Fresh mulch makes for great dust baths and they seem to enjoy themselves so much.

Oh well. ūüôā

We are moving right along into spring and I am feeling a bit behind as we should have started our seedlings long ago. ūüė¶ ¬†Perhaps it will just be easier to buy the seedlings this year and direct sow the rest. ¬†*sigh* ¬†Maybe next year. ¬†This year is flying by so quickly.

Off to feed the piggies again….

They’re here!!!

We have planned, read, built and waited, and now they are here!

Our little piggies!!

We started with ¬†a plan of one, but who wants a lonely depressed pig, so we opted for 2. ¬†Well if we’re going to have 2, why not 3? ¬†What’s one more mouth?? ¬†So 3 it was. ¬†We ordered them in the fall from a local farmer. ¬†As we got closer we wanted one more,¬†why not?

 So phone call after phone call, we finally found another little to join our brood only a short hour and a half away.

There was a little squealing from the new boarders at the pig farmers and the kids found some new friends who homeschool too!

All in all a great day!  Everyone is getting along well.  The pigs could care less about the chickens and the chickens are like  bunch of old gossipy ladies, squawking around trying to figure these new things out.  They do like new pig food though. Bonus!

So, without further ado….

Checking out the new digs!

Rooting around already.

The ladies checking out their newest farm mates.

Making a place to nap.

Fresh fruit and vegetable scraps.

Rooting in the dirt AND eating…pig heaven!

Tired from all the activity.

Checking out the camera.

The happy 4!  Can you guess which one was the late addition?!?

So, there they are! ¬†The newest additions to our growing family and we couldn’t be happier. ūüôā