Thursday, April 26

*mail call

This morning started as most of my weekday mornings start, I was awakened by the tone that was belting out from my phone. I had in mind that after I was finished feeding all the farm animals that I would lay back down since I haven't rested well the last few nights. That plan was shortly shot down when I received a phone call from the post office informing me that our turkey poults had arrived.

You see, we ordered turkeys that would be delivered the first week of May, but the hatchery called me a few days ago asking if we were ready for the little critters. I told her only if she could add in a crested polish (since I honestly do not think Spaz is going to :( recover.) She said she would try to get one in the package and that is all I heard from her. So this morning when my phone rang and it displayed ---- Post Office, I knew that my plans were not going to hold. No I did not get to lay back down, but instead I was off getting baby turkeys. After arriving back home I had to set up their brooder... tis the life I live. And how very blessed I am to live it!

I fear to tell you the number of "birds" (turkeys and chickens) we have here on our farm now, lest you might pass out! OK, so brace yourself: 57 in all. We just invested in 15 poults in order that we might raise them to healthy, lean, meat options for those in our community who are interested. We have 3 committed to customers already and are looking for a few more who would like a range free, hormone free, antibiotic free turkey for their Thanksgiving or Christmas table or for just daily eating needs.  We will soon cull our chicken flock as well in order to get some chickens in the freezer.  We will be increasing our egg customers in the summer once our younger chicks reach maturity, currently we sell  4 dozen a week at $4 per dozen, hopefully adding at least 3 more customers. 

The turkeys we chose are the heritage breeds and it is our desire to keep a pair in order that we will be able to continue to hatch out our own turkeys in the future.  May your day be full of peeps, cause mine sure is! Peeep, peeep, pep!

Tuesday, April 24

*those who rest under a quilt...

Enveloping one in love in the quilt kind of way, that is what I get to do to children I will likely never meet or spend time with. A dear friend of mine and her husband have been called of God to increase the number of children in their family by way of adoption.  They are in the process of adoption number 3, bringing home a their third Chinese treasure.

I had the privilege of making quilts for her other Chinese treasures as well. When she wrote me a short while ago to see if I was up for creating a special quilt for their daughter who will be coming home to her forever family soon, I accepted!  While I don't have as much time to give to a timed project right now, I did agree to appliqueing on an already finished quilt.

A month or so ago, I received the finished quilt that "H" found in a department store along with the drawings of the little panda and little girl from her other little girls quilt. I wanted to match the size for this quilt as well  and since I no longer have the patterns, I asked "H" to trace and send them along.

I was able to get myself to the sewing room and able to put my focused energy on this special project and  I am pleased with the finished product. Thanks "H" for letting me "sew" into your little one's lives!

You can see the other two quilts by visiting HERE.

Friday, April 20

*long, hard, busy, rewarding days

This week, no this month, has been super busy. It is a good busy.  From the time the sunrises until the time it sets, my days are brimming over with things that need to be done.   This is the way Zeke wants all of his days to begin and end.  Zeke is one of our Russian Blue barn cats who also doubles as a Russian Blue garden cat. 

*random photo's from my phone

 Interesting plunger handle that we saw at a recent doctor's office visit while using the restroom.

 Oh, my babies. Athena's third litter, she birthed 9 and is raising 9 - successful litter!

 Many "nucs" at our local Bee Master's shop.   This is the day I picked up our 4th hive.

 The big girls love to peck at the sunflower leaves each evening when we bring them snacks from the garden.

 Lucy insist on laying her egg in the barn, in odd places every day... so we let  her (lol).

 Its  me! It is the rare occasion that I like photo's of myself.

 The hedge around our pool area is in full bloom and to me, smells heavenly!

Lunch with my dear husband, the company and food were both excellent! Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 13

*spaz and wry neck

Our sweet little polish chick is doing about the same. Wry neck is a condition that I do not wish any chicken to have to go through. One day out of no where it comes upon them and literally turns their world upside down. It is very frustrating and confusing to the little chick. It is almost as if her neck went limp like a cooked noodle.

There is hope. Many chickens whose owners recognize this contortion as a chicken sickness can treat their little chicks with baby vitamins (poly-vi-sol) in liquid form. Spaz gets vitamins three times a day right now. She/he is eating and drinking nicely which will help her/him maintain strength. Hopefully wry neck will soon be something of the past!

Sunday, April 8

*growing like weeds

The gardens had their soil turned weeks ago and the areas that weren't immediately worked soon were full of lush green weeds. With each passing week it became thicker, fuller and filled with weeds that grew like crazy. Speaking of growing like weeds, the chicks that were born in January have changed so much over the past few weeks. Even the little turkeys are growing by leaps and bounds!

This post is all about Queen, who we have since named Spaz. My dh decided to give this adorable chick a name that would work for a hen or a rooster. We are still not sure what the sex of this one will be. One thing we do know is, she has captured our hearts!

 Spaz is a polish ornamental chicken, who are not normally known for their amiable personality but this little one runs up to the feet that enter the run and she waits to be picked up. I normally pick her up every time I walk through the area.  She likes to perch on your hand and then she settles in for a stay.  She also likes to sit on my shoulders balancing while I walk around.   I have her up under my wing protecting her, loving her and watching over her as much as I am able.  You see, this breed has several things going against them.  The polish ornamental have a top hat (feathers) which tend to hang over in their eyes which as you can imagine blocks their vision. Often they will be confused acting, they might get themselves into bad situations because they are not able to pay attention to overhead predators,  and because of their plight of feathers they may become the focus of bully chickens who will pick at their top hats.   She is my newest pet, who adopted me.  I was not really looking for a pet chicken, but I am thrilled nonetheless.

I wrote this post earlier this week and posted it for today's delivery.. since writing this post, my sweet little Spaz has developed "wry neck", it is a condition that Polish Chickens as well as Silkie's get due to a cranial injury or even lack of proper nutrition. I am so sad that she has this. One of the Silkie's in our group had it and was nursed back to health, now I am nursing her/him. Each morning she gets a little drop of Poly-visol vitamins and a Vit E gel capsule (broken open of course) and then again in the evening. She is living in a small basket inside the house for now.  She is pittiful. Her head is completely upside down, turned and twisted in a painful looking position.    If you pray for animals.. please pray for Spaz. 

Saturday, April 7

*crowns of asparagus

Asparagus is one of those veggies that we didn't eat a lot of while growing up in the South during my childhood years. I however, love asparagus and have always wanted to grow it in our garden. Last year while shopping at Lowes Garden Center I found some asparagus crowns sitting there waiting on me! The first year of having them in our garden we didn't harvest to many spears but after a year of wintering over, we have harvested tons!! I am over the top thrilled. I want to encourage you, if you have thought about growing asparagus... DO IT! They are really one of the easiest plants to care for and harvest. Every day I have to snap off some delicious asparagus stalks to add to a salad, or steam for a side dish with our dinner.

The asparagus plants will grow and produce for about 8 years and then you have to replant your asparagus bed. Such a great investment. I paid under $7 for 6 or 8 asparagus crowns last spring and they have already paid for themselves several times over. Just think of the investment return I still have to come over the next 5 to 7 years.

Friday, April 6

*one potato, two potato, three...

Gardening is many things to many people. Whether it is done as a hobby, a stress reducer or provision for your family, gardening has many merits. For me it serves as all of the above. Gardening is a joy that I learned to love at my mother and fathers sides. They were pretty traditional in their gardening each year and I had great opportunity to learn their tricks and tips along the way.

One of the potato patches are shown here in the photo, closest to the bottom part of the image.

This spring we have many beautiful lush green vegetable plants growing in our gardens. The weather has allowed for early planting and we did jump on that opportunity.  My dh and I purchased 50 pounds of seed potatoes in early March.  Today those potato plants are an admirable beauty - in our eyes!   Momma and I stopped in at the Farm Center last week to pick up some okra seeds and found that they still had potato seeds in the store.  I inquired as to the price and was told they were giving them away at this point. Um... did you say FREE? Oh yeh, I am all about that. I will take two bags please. (total of 50 more pounds)  Momma and I worked last week to get half of those planted and the other half will go in this weekend.

I plant our potatoes in 4 inch deep trenches which allows me to go back and add mulched hay or dirt as they mature.  This continues as they grow their foliage until I have the rich soil and mulch piled up around the base of each potato plant. We should be able to start harvest some of the delicious new potatoes from the first ones planted sometime in May.  Normally I will let each potato plant finish out with the foliage dieing out before we dig them.   If possible and the weather is permitting, meaning it is dry I will even leave the in the ground several weeks after the tops have completely died off.  We do not have a root cellar, so leaving them in the ground as long as I can prolongs their shelf life a bit more.

Thursday, April 5

*last litter for Athena until the fall

Last week our one year old New Zealand mix, Athena, kindled her last litter of the spring. Athena's maternal instincts are very good and she has taken good care of each litter she has given birth to. It seems her magic number is 9, she had 5 light colored babies and 4 dark ones. They grow so very fast, one day they are completely naked and a few days later they have fur coming in like crazy. If you have been reading my blog for a while you have caught on that we are all about providing good food sources for our family. Unfortunately over the years the food industry has gone wacko if you ask me. A lot of the food we buy from the grocer isn't really food at all but genetically engineered filler. If you haven't already watched Food Inc, I encourage you to do so. It will open your eyes to some interesting facts that you might otherwise know.

One of my friends asked me a while back if we were "preppers". It was the first time I had heard this term. I have learned quite a bit about "preppers" since and I would have to answer no, we are not preppers, but sustainers. We are looking for a sustainable food source and living conditions for our family. As others has said regarding the food industry that we currently have, it is not sustainable.

All of that to say this, rabbit meat is an excellent lean white meat for your dinner table. I know, I know you have heard this from me before, but lets go a bit further. You know that chicken that you bought from the grocer last week and are planning to make a tasty meal from.. it is chocked full of antibiotics, hormones, pesticides and herbicides, and on top of that they were grown as mass production in cramped conditions which stresses them out. What about that beef that came from the grocer which was grown on a feed lot? Don't get me wrong we do eat some beef and some other meats from the grocer. We just think that if we can provide more meat from the safety of our barn and property to our table we avoid the toxicity of what commerically produced meats now carry.

Many folks don't always understand why we are doing what we are doing and may think us strange. This is a little peek into our minds. Sustainability is what it is about for us. We do our best to educate and share the enthusiasm with as many that are interested who are in our sphere of influence. What we do here on a small scale is what the meat industry is doing to provide you with meat. Except our meat is clean, antibiotic free, hormone free and kindly raised. No different end result, meat.

Wednesday, April 4

*meet Rudy, our sire

We have been searching for a Nubian buck for a few months now. Unfortunately the lady we bought our doe's from did not stand good on her offer to us for a buck, so we started our search for a good match for our girls and look what we found in Alabama...

Rudy is only 5 months old and although he is sexually mature, he is not tall enough for mating just yet. We had hoped to have at least one of them bred by now, but we are trusting God's timing, not our desires. When we arrived to pick Rudy up, (Rudy is the name he was given by his previous owners) he was in a grazing yard with two other Nubians. One of them his brother, and the other a doe. All of them were very friendly, following us up and down the fence line and allowing us to pet them with no end. However, when we started to leave with Rudy, his brother bleating for him so that I almost started to cry. Seriously. Since bringing him into his new home here, he has been loud as well. I know he misses his familiar surroundings terribly. Wouldn't you?

He and Boudica are now living together in a stall together, as she will be our first doe to kid. They are both very vociferous goats and have wore themselves out. Bodie is bleating for her two girl friends, Neffie and Cleo who are in the stall next to her while Rudy is bleating for his familiar surroundings in Alabama. I am sure time will heal their hurts and help them turn towards each other. Soon enough they will be in love and will provide our family with milk for which we will make cheese, sour cream, and butter.

We are unsure of Rudy's fate at this point. Initially we had thought we would buy a buck, have him mate with one of our does then butcher him for a source of meat for our family. But now we are giving strong consideration to keeping him at a remote location on our property so we do not have to buy a buck every time we are ready to mate our does. He is a beautiful buck, his markings are really quite nice and since we have the land, we will likely have him become part of our great big family here.

Nubian goats are an excellent dairy goat because their milk is high in butterfat content which gives it a most delicious taste. Because of their build, they are also considered a dual purpose goat which puts them in the category of meat goat as well. Our Nubians are part of our homesteading endeavors and although they have not really produced anything for us yet, other than nanny berries, we get so much enjoyment from them.  I am looking forward to the days of milking and learning how to make cheeses of all sorts! (remind me later that I said that!)

Tuesday, April 3

*time with momma

We have been quite busy with the beautiful spring days ushering in sunshine, warmer temps and a breeze on most days. We have found ourselves with a long list of ongoing task here at Erilyn. There is never a shortage of things that need to be done, which I think, keep one young vibrant and healthy. It sort of reminds me of what my dear mother said while she was here during this past stay of hers, she said she hardly sits because the act of getting up itself can sometimes be a chore.

While momma was here we worked many hours in the gardens, and she more so in the yards as well. We have many large old oaks on our property that are simply gorgeous, but you know what that means - leaves come and go with the changing of seasons. I am not sure if my mother loves to rake or if she hates leaves.. still trying to figure that one out. Anyway, she spent a number of hours raking while she was here as well and she left the yards looking tidy. She and I also got all of the seeds but a few in the ground while she was here. Just before she left the corn had starting popping through the rich soil!

We did find some time for baking as well as candy making. My mother makes some of the best peanut brittle you will ever taste. So good in fact, that I told my husband to take the rest of the container to work with him and eat it there. I had no self control when it comes to her peanut brittle. She did leave me with a recipe, but like most amazing cooks, she herself didn't measure everything but cooked by her eye.

Here is momma's recipe:
Mary's Famous Peanut Brittle
1 pint of raw peanuts
1 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup Karo Syrup
1 tsp baking soda
1 square inch of paraffin wax shaved
1 oiled (spray or butter) 9 X 13 pan

In a heavy sauce pan mix peanuts, sugar, Karo syrup into pot, and stir.  As the mixture starts to warm up you will add the shaved or chipped wax. Continue to stir. You will stir the mixture until it starts to bubble. Once it starts to bubble, stir some more. It is important to watch the color of the candy at this point, you want it to come to a slight caramel color, stir more repeatedly.  The peanuts will start to parch as well, so you may hear some cracking or light popping. Once the candy starts to turn a caramel color take it immediately off the burner, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda and stir about 5 turns.  Now you are ready to pour into the well greased or buttered pan.  Leave on counter until cool, then turn it over and pop the candy out. If it cools all the way, it will be very brittle (hence the name) and you will just have to break it apart. If you would like to cut uniform pieces, let it cool slightly and then carefully turn it onto a cutting board and you can cut through the candy to make uniform blocks of the candy. Enjoy!

I am sure the candy needs to reach a certain temperature, but momma never uses a candy thermometer so I can't help you there! This recipe is very quick and really quite simple. She made two batches in no time at all! In order to save myself, I had to put one of the batches in the mail to a dear friend of mine.