Who we are

Who are we? What do we do around here? We are just a bunch of animal loving country folk. We have chickens, goats, ducks, dogs, cats, and lots of squirrels and rabbits running around. We plan to expand and add bees and dairy goats. Running a family farm is a lot of work but so rewarding. We just thought we’d share a little of us with you! We hope you enjoy this little clip. If you want to come see us send us a message. ūüėä

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Dogs, Chickens, Goats and more

First let me say please forgive my absence from the blogging world. I just haven’t felt it lately and I will tell you why. In my last post I told you all how we were a year mourning our precious Sara Lee. We finally decided it was time to get a pup because Hemi was so lonely. We ended up rescuing two of them. They are adorable German Shepherd and black lab mix.

 

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Phoenix and Onyx napping while we plant potatoes!
Phoenix and Onyx napping while we plant potatoes!

 

Sweet pups
Sweet pups

 

 

 

 

Hemi learned to love them and they were getting along so well and then the unthinkable happened. We got a call…Hemi had been hit by a car. A year and a couple of weeks after Sara Lee. Oh how our hearts hurt. I know you must be wondering so I’ll go ahead and say it..We live at least a 1/4 mile off the road. Hemi did not go to the road. She had no reason to with all the fun here. Last year we determined that she and Sara Lee ran across the road chasing deer.  This time no deer, no reason to be there. Trees around us were cut and it is more noisy out here. We are hearing cars and seeing neighbors lights that we’ve never heard and seen before. Our best guess is that she heard something she thought needed investigating. The person who hit her was kind and apologetic and that helps but our son is still aching for his sweet Hemi.

We got our goats finally late January. They are boers and we are totally in love with them. Buddy, Daisy and Butter Cup bring us a lot of joy. Hemi had been totally fascinated with them. I imagined that she was thinking “What kind of dog is this? She stayed beside them for weeks.

 

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Peek-a-boo

Since Hemi’s passing we are focusing on each other, the pups, the goats and chickens, ducks, and the garden. There is always so much work to be done. Life is still good out here on the farm despite the losses we have faced. I know all of you understand. Sometime life is just tough. However, we are taking things one day at a time and counting our blessings and not our sorrows.

Can I drive this thing?
Can I drive this thing?

The old days- I want them back

Every fall when we go to the mountains I am reminded of how simple life used to be and how complex we have made things now. As we hiked the old wagon trails¬†I¬†can’t help but wonder how it must have felt to get up with the sun and work and hunt the land for provisions. And of course after a long hard day off to bed at dark.

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No television, computers, cell phones, etc. for mindless distractions just family spending time working together, cooking together, and chilling around the fireplace in the evenings.

Sure the modern advances in medicine are a plus. It is heartbreaking to visit the old cemeteries and see rocks and pieces of slate with names of babies and young children carved in them that died of diseases we can heal so simply now.

The modern farming equipment is so very helpful too. And of course without technology I wouldn’t be writing this nor would you be reading it. ¬†Somewhere along the way though we lost sight of¬†the fact that working is beneficial for our mind, bodies, and soul. And that families cant help but¬†grow closer when they work together for their very survival.

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How did we come to rely so heavily on something and someone to do everything for us? I can remember just a few years ago when I was a child (ok maybe more than a few) at my grandmothers picking peas and other vegetables and watching all the women canning and freezing them. It was just what they did.

I also remember a time when everyone seemed to stop all that because the grocery stores made it all so convenient. Convenience took the place of healthy, homemade, gathering in the gardens and in the kitchens. And right about this time more and more women went to work outside the home. There is not a lot of time for home and family and a full-time job.   It became hard to make ends meet without a two income family.

Now we as a society have begun to realize that we are killing ourselves with our unhealthy habits. People are beginning to garden again even if it’s in pots on the porch. Young people are learning about home canning. Restaurants, even fast food chains, are beginning to offer healthier choices. It is all a step in the right direction. We as a country still have so far to go. I long for a¬†day when more¬†people¬†can step out their¬†doors and have all the food they¬†need right there. And those who can’t grow their own will realize how important it is to buy fresh from those who do. In two years I will be able to retire from the worldly rat race. I¬†hope¬†I can bring back some more old ways into our lives.

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Squash

Homesteading state of mind

Here in the South we have an expression “the north 40” meaning we have a lot of land and we’ve got to go way over yonder to plant, water, feed, or fix something! I’m sure everyone dreams of a homestead like that, me included. But is it necessary to garden, home some animals, and ¬†live like a homesteader? Absolutely not. Homesteading is about becoming more self-sufficient, making wiser choices. It’s about eating healthier food that we grow ourselves and that our animals provide for us. It’s about making things simpler. Are we completely there? I wish. We still have a long way to go, but as long as we are moving forward toward self-sufficiency then I feel good about our progress. We do have some acreage around us. We also have a lot of planted pines so we use every space available. We use planter boxes for herbs and pots for cherry tomatoes. Planting my pot tomatoes is on my list of things to do very soon! We have actually had our best success with them on the deck in pots. ¬†Each spring we do plant a pretty large garden area with potatoes, green beans, peas, peppers, okra, tomatoes, and some other foods we enjoy. But I also know of people who grow the same in their square foot gardens!

We live in the country so our chickens roam around wherever they please.  That would be difficult on an urban homestead but animals are possible. Just make sure you check all your local ordinances first!

Got a porch or deck? A yard or a window sill? Get a pot and some soil and plant something. Then enjoy the fruits of your harvest because you have taken steps toward becoming a homesteader.

Middles enjoying their cool treat
Middles enjoying a cool treat
Herbs
Herbs
Kale
Kale

It’s a New Year: Meet Farmer and Mrs. Cheese!

Few days oldWhen Farmer Cheese and I started raising chickens 3 years ago this March, I don’t think either of us envisioned nearly 70 of them! The funny thing is we are adding more. We can’t keep up with the demand for eggs¬†and we are so infatuated with our little feathered friends. Since our humble beginnings we have learned a lot. We have suffered losses, watched new life hatch and can truly say this is what we really want to do¬†now. In addition to the chickens we garden to fill our freezer with fresh veggies. You will also find me in the kitchen canning and making jams and jellies in the spring and summer time. Earlier in December and¬†last week we processed a deer for the freezer so we should have plenty of meat through the upcoming year. We made sausage, steaks, roasts, and ground some for hamburger. We feel an accomplishment at having done this ourselves. We are not nearly as self-sufficient as we’d like but we are working on it. Each day that we can spend less time and money in the grocery store is a step in the right direction.¬†¬†We would like to have milk goats and honey bees in the future. We are working as hard as we can¬†to prepare a¬†homesteading life to enjoy when we retire. Hopefully in a few more years we can both quit “working” and spend our time here on the farm.

Drying and storing herbs at home

I have just finished storing my first dried herbs from my garden. What an accomplishment! I wasn’t sure how much to dry so I cut what I thought was a lot. There are some herbs I may do more of next time. But I think I have plenty to last until the outdoor growing season gets here. I used the leftovers and the scraps from all the mess I made to make nesting box herbs for the hens. No waste here. Since this was my first experience with this I used the advice of Mother Earth News. Here’s the link to the site I used.
http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/drying-herbs-zm0z13fmzmat.aspx

Naturally I had to add my own touches. I cut my herbs and hung them upside down using a clothes hanger, clothes pins and a rubber band to secure to bundles.
When they were completely brittle I took them down and began the storing process. I used my small wood block and wooden spoon to help crush the leaves since I didn’t have a mortar and pestle. It worked fine, but I will be ordering one for next time.
(Amazon has several choices)

Fresh herbs ready to dry
Fresh herbs ready to dry
Crushing herbs to store
Crushing herbs to store
Finished products!
Finished products!

Dried Okra

We had a great harvest of okra this year. We’ve given some away, grilled some, fried some, oven roasted some, even pickled some. I hate to admit it we have also thrown some away that ruined. ūüė™ Finally it dawned on me. Use that dehydrator you have and dry some!

I washed my okra and then cut the ends off. I then sliced the okra in half. Once I had a nice bowl full I sprayed it with coconut oil and then added a variety of seasonings ; sea salt, pepper, and a garlic blend.

I placed the okra on the trays of the dehydrator seed side down. When all the trays were full I set it to high. After about 12 hours my okra was delicious and crispy! I think next time I may leave it whole because I did lose a lot of seeds. I will let you know how it goes when I try it again.

Okra seeds down on the  rack
Okra, seeds down on the rack

After about 12 hours the okra was nice and crispy and delicious. It had a great seasoned taste and makes a wonderful chip substitute. I bagged some up in my food saver for later and put the rest in a container for now. I have a feeling it won’t last long.

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I am looking forward to my next batch already!

*Just a few helpful hints: I use a Nessco Gardenmaster dehydrator and a Food Saver vacu√ľm sealer system. I love them both.