Friday, April 30, 2010

Beet Kvass

Over at Evelyn Fields place she made Beet Kvass.  Apparently I missed this step completely  :(  She did a great post on it and I would encourage everyone to go look at it.

Beet kvass is what I do when I need a detox at the cellular level.  Personally, I add some cayenne pepper to mine (my sister hates that) and drink it by the glass.  I do not recommend this - it is just what I do when I have to do major detox, especially when we choose relationship over healthy habits.  Sometimes those two things conflict and we almost always opt for relationship..... this puts the brakes on legalism.  But a good detox helps :)

Go take a look and enjoy!  The day is gorgeous and I am headed out to weed eat a bunch more grass for the pigs (they are loving it) and for the chickens (ditto).

Our egg production is up, our feed bill is down, our hens are happy, our meat birds are growing.  The day is promising  :)


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

 Longing for Spring
Christian Christoph Sturm (1740-1786)
(set to music by Mozart)

Come, dear May and turn the trees to verdant green
  and make the little violets blossom by the brook!
How gladly I would see a violet one again, dear May
  how I would like once more to take a walk!
But most of all I feel for Charlotte in her grief;
  the poor girl just sits there and longs for blossom time.
In vain I fetch some toys to help her pass the time
  she sits upon her stool just like a broody hen...
If only it got warmer and the grass began to grow!
Do come, dear May, we children do beg you earnestly!
Do come and, above all, bring lots of violets
  and also nightingales and pretty cuckoo birds!

the violets we planted a couple of months ago....
(Mama Hen has 20 chicks under and about 10 from the last batch she brooded hanging out with her - what a Mama!)
...and it seems as if winter is giving it's last gasp.  
A little snow to say goodbye.  
Tomorrow, Spring will probably win.  
I love the seasons.

Sally Fallon Morell in the UK

Sally Fallon is speaking at an event in the UK.  The Blog "Harke is Online" appears to have posted two complete events that she spoke at.  The first appears to be 77 minutes long and the second 52 minutes long.

I don't have time today to listen to all of this, but I know it will be good.  I will probably break it down into segments and watch all of it over the next several days.

I'm putting in a link so all of you can hear it from Mrs. Morell herself.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A little more on the chickens and the farm

Today brought 2 pigs to our little ranch.  Something new to learn about :)  They have some organic pig food, grass clippings and a pile of oak leaves and acorns.
We have been reading a great book on Open-Air Chicken coops.  Here is a link that has portions of the book that you can read on line:  Fresh Air Poultry House

Turning our enclosed chicken coop into an open air coop seems to be a successful experiment.  Two days ago we had 22 hens and one rooster in a large coop with a covered run.  They free range in the afternoon.  We have consistently been getting 8 eggs from that coop.  The other coop which is open air has 8 hens and one rooster and about a million little chicks.  We have been getting 6 eggs from it every day.

Yesterday the guys cut some holes in the walls and doors and put chicken wire in.   Five of the hens went to my sister's house.  Today we got 9 eggs from 17 hens - a little more than 50%.  It was quite rainy today, so hopefully that will increase.  Six hens from the first batch we incubated will join these hens in the big coop soon.  They should start laying about August.

They ran the weedeater in the rain today and raked the grass and weeds for several hours.  We put huge bunches of fresh clover, grass, vetch and weeds in for the hens and chicks.  All loved it.  The kids and I dug a LOT of worms and tossed them in.

The sunset was gorgeous, but my camera does not do it justice.  

Gold in the Grass

Here is one of Arleen's favorite sites:  Chicken Feed

I like this one on worms:  Worms for feed
....and this one:  Journey to Forever 

The Ideal Chicken for the Consumer and for the Producer (in a nutshell :)

There are many things that a commercial chicken or egg producer can do to increase the health value of the product. While the "Organic" label is a start in the right direction, it by no means assures us that that chicken is the very most healthful bird on the market.

Though not all of these items can be accomplished by the average chicken producer, in my estimation, the supremely most healthful chicken, for meat as well as for eggs, would consume the following feedstuffs in these ways:

1. Ample grass and living plants, along with insect life and subterranean flora and fauna that is found in the grasslands. It would be truly free range, or perhaps a better term needs to be sought. "Grass-ranged" is one option. Whichever term is used, it should be a legally-certified term so that the public will know that this chicken was ranging on ample living grassland that includes wild insect life and a variety of plants, and that this chicken was on this range for a large proportion of its feeding hours immediately prior to consumption by consumer.

2. Wild ocean seafood added to the diet daily, in enough quantity to raise the omega-3 content of the chicken and eggs to nearly equal with the omega-6 content.

3. Extra protein supplementation from a variety of sources such as 100% grass-fed milk and meat products, insects, worms, nuts.

4. Grain supplement only as necessary to sustain adequate growth and laying, based on a mixture of five or more whole, live, unmilled grains. All grains to be completely free-choiced for a period of time, then removed before nighfall. If corn is used, it must be cracked within no more than 24 hours of being consumed.

5. Legumes daily, to balance the protein, B vitamin, and other profiles of the grains. Legumes and grains naturally occur together in all wild pasturelands, and complement each other, probably in many ways that we do not yet know. To eat the one without the other is to invite disaster, imho.

6. Salt derived solely from dried kelp, free-choiced.

7. Calcium derived from oyster shell or grass-fed bone, free choiced.

8. Water free-flowing from living spring or stream, without chlorine or other such industrial toxins added.

And with these safety assurances:

9. Absolutely no addition of any kind of oils to the feeds, to prevent the misuse of trans-fats-laden and re-processed oils as a calorie booster or for any other reason.

10. Everything consumed by the chickens to be certified stringently 100% Organic, not certified by an organic-label certification scheme that allows 5% (or any other percent) of non-organic products to be added and still use the term "Organic."

11. The breed of chicken should not contain any "Cornish" or other unnaturally-fast-maturing variety. The chicken should mature in the normal amount of time, a little more than 5 months, not the abnormal, ceiling-less growth curve leading to harvest at two months as in the Cornish crosses.

So, I'll keep you posted on how it goes.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Chicken Coop Renovations

Our chicken ranch seems to be continuing on.  My sister found a great bunch of old books on raising chickens, feed and how to manage flocks - old school.  The books are from the 1920's and they are so good.

We continue to learn.  Right now in the "open air" coop there are 8 hens.... and we get about 6 eggs a day from them.  In the enclosed coop there are 22 hens.... and we get about 8 eggs a day.   Hmmmmmm, what is wrong with this picture?

After studying, reading and thinking, talking and pondering, the guys have cut out the door and some "windows" to make the enclosed coop "open air".  I'll let you know how it goes.  So far, the chickens seem to love it, but it is the first day.  The idea is to give them light, cross ventilation and one solid wall for a feeling of protection. 

I am going to do a separate post on my sister's thoughts on the whole chicken process.  We are both more convinced than ever that it is a good way to go.... raise them up as natural and healthy as possible by giving them what they need.  This gives us ample resource then for protein from the meat and eggs.

We are weedeating around the property, raking it and using it for feed and to build our compost (under the roost).  The long season of rains has given us plenty of opportunity for an abundance of weeds :)  and clover and vetch and other wonderful, edible herbs, seeds, grasses and legumes.

The tomato plants that I started from last year's heirloom seeds have done better than anyone could have reasonably expected.  I ended up with 672 healthy, beautiful tomato plants.  About 2/3 of them are "spoken for" and I will end up with about 125 for our garden.  It should be wonderful.  We are hauling them in and out of the house while the weather is unsettled, but after this next set of storms, they will be handed out and ours will head to the garden.  I can't wait for fresh salsa!  It will also be nice to have the dining room and kitchen counter back :)  I plan to start my cucumber seeds in peat pots this week (if I can just find a little time).

It is baseball season and our son-in-law found time to play a little ball with our youngest son out in the orchard.  What a great day!

Best of health to you

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Garden Goodness

Hello all.  I have missed visiting with you.  Every day goes by so quickly during this season.  The garden work continues.... even though we had an amazing snowstorm today.  Big, fat, fluffy flakes that came in a flurry and are almost gone by this evening.  Winter headed out with a sulk :)

Right now tomato and pepper plants are consuming my attention.  The counter has been cleared of most of the cultured stuff to make way for lots and lots of veggie starts.  We saved seeds last year for the first time, and the germination was a little sketchy.  I overplanted to compensate and have spent days thinning them down to a maximum of the 3 strongest plants per cube.  Yesterday and today I separated them into singles so they can get a lot bigger over the next few weeks.

I also separated out groups of different kinds of tomatoes to share with friends.  If I promised you some you might want to nudge me.   Because I didn't label these, it is random lot of tomatoes, but I kept them to one variety per container.  As I have been separating, I choose one from each container for each of my friends.  This way they end up with 20-30 heirloom tomatoes - all different kinds - don't know which is which :)  They are all good.

The tomato plants look much healthier than the pepper plants.  Maybe they were a little cold on the germination - but they are coming up well.  I might end up buying some starts of peppers.

Next up I will start cucumber and then last melon plants.  I will also direct sow cucumber.  The melons, though, I want to keep track of.  I ordered about 15 different types of heirloom melons - pink, yellow, orange, red (inside the watermelons) so these will be planted with a little more attention to which is which.  We have seed from last year and I purchased some new from Baker Creek Seeds.

Let me know how your garden is going.  It looks like here where we are there will be about 10 more days of storms.... then a couple of days to dry out.... then the garden will begin in earnest.

My sister and I continue to study the benefits of grass fed chickens.  It is fascinating and will need it's own post.  Right now I am feeding them an abundance of greens in the morning (clover, weeds from this area, several types of grasses and vetch) with some scratch thrown in.  The long, slow rains have kept everything green.  In the evening they get a little laying pellets.   We are moving them onto a scratch that combines oats, sunflower seeds and other organic grains.   We are trying to move away from corn and soy.  So far so good!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Working around the farm

It has been an unbelievable blessing the past few weeks to have the guys in and out as work has ground to a halt (because of the rain).   The Lord has blessed the work of their hands and so much has been accomplished.  Fences were mended by my son and son-in-law, the pig pen readied for a couple of pigs, a large pile of junk cleaned up and is now ready to become a work area, shelves were repaired, an upgrade to the water system by my hubby and numerous other chores that need tools, skill and strength that working guys have.

My amazing husband designed and built (with a lot of help  :) another chicken run.  We now have two complete chicken areas with their own runs, pens, coops and doors.  They also worked in some storage for our kayaks up on the top.  He is planning a third "open air" chicken area for the far end of our orchard.  The chickens just don't like to go very far from their coop.  We have a lot of nice grass down at the end that never gets eaten.

Our youngest son, nephew and grandson hunted for worms, dug, measured, drilled, hammered and generally had a wonderful time "helping"  the older guys.  They had a wonderful day.

The orchard that was tilled and planted a couple of weeks ago is coming up so nicely.  The newest book I am reading is called "Gold in the Grass" and we continue to try to figure out how to turn grass into high quality protein.  Our goal is to get almost completely away from laying pellets as we raise chickens for eggs and meat.  Worms, seeds and grasses are a big part of our plan.

The incubator that my sister bought and tends to is ready to turn out the second batch of chicks (meat birds).  We moved our mama hen up and plan to sneak the three that have hatched under tonight.  Every night she will get the rest that have hatched.  She managed the last 22 really well and they are integrated into one of the flocks.

The girls have been busy as well.  The seedlings are coming up quickly and will need to be transplanted soon.  They are making plans to manage a booth at our local Farmer's Market.  We are planting enough have an abundance.

The guys have to back to their regular work tomorrow.  I just wanted them to know how much I appreciate the time, skill and energy that it takes to turn a couple of funky acres  into a productive, healthy, thriving small farm.

Be blessed today

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April's Bread and suggestions

Our family moved into the full speed ahead garden/work/fencing/concrete mode over the past few weeks.  Additionally, our daughter and son in law moved back to help us with our farm and business.  These are some wonderful, exciting changes in our lives.  
Every year at this time, my hubby and I go through a lot of shifting gears as the weather warms up and the demands on our time grow exponentially.  Sorry I haven't been on visiting with all of you, my blog community, very much, but in the interim..... my friend April has been cooking up a storm.  She is a wonderful baker and cook and has been applying the principals of nutrient dense cooking to some of her favorite recipes.  What a joy it is to see so many families come up with their "own" recipe from the springboard of someone else's recipe! 

(here is a non-nutrient dense cake she did for their son's birthday.... it is way too cool to not share it with all of you :)
Thanks April for sharing these tips and ideas with us.  
Recipe for that awesome sourdough
(or.... April's sourdough recipe!)

1 cup sourdough starter
2 cups water
1 Tbsp. sea salt or kosher salt
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp raw honey
1 cup organic white flour
3 cups whole wheat flour

Mix all of the above on the lowest speed of your mixer for at least 6 minutes, to help develop the gluten. If you just bring them together quickly and leave it to rise, the dough has no elasticity. After mixing, place into your bowl, cover and let rise a minimum of 24 hours. Any less than that, and the yeast flavor takes over, and it doesn't taste like sourdough.

After the 24 hour rise, dissolve one teaspoon rapid rise yeast in about 2T water, and add a pinch of honey or sugar to the yeast. Pour this over the sponge, and work it in with a wooden spoon. Then work in one cup of whole wheat flour and turn the dough out onto the counter. Knead in another cup of WW flour. Place dough ball into a 5 quart cast iron dutch oven, and allow to rise for one hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut two slits in the top of the loaf, cover with the dutch oven lid, and bake at 400 for one hour. Remove lid, and bake an additional 10 minutes. Yum!

Meat Pies

Use some of the sourdough from the above recipe and roll it out.

Add taco meat and sour cream....

Fold over....

Seal it up all pretty!

Ready to go in 350 oven for about 30 minutes. One sourdough recipe and one pound of ground beef makes 12 meat pies!

Cinnamon Rolls
(hey... how come I didn't get one of these?)

Butter the pan generously. This is a 10x15 inch pan.

First, lots of cinnamon.

Then brown sugar and drizzle melted butter.

Roll it up!

Cut in slices about 1 1/2 inches wide.

After a 45 minute rise.

Bake at about 30 minutes in a 350 oven.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Healing Long Term Disease

The Weston A. Price Foundation Facebook Page posted a wonderful guest article today.  Kathryne Pirtle is a musician who struggled with multiple disease issues for many years on a "healthy" diet.  Her story is not only inspiring, but she covers the principals of nutrient dense eating in great detail.

I would encourage everyone to take a couple of minutes and read her story and how she brought herself to a place of abundant health using a nutrient dense diet.

Be healthy and well today

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Shifting Gears

The last few weeks have been a little intense.  We have had visitors, shifting weather, Easter activities, baby chicks and an abundance of garden time.  It has been a wonderful time of food, fun, laughter, discussion, thought and applying our food principals to almost all of the meals we shared.  It is always fun to see a person who habitually eats a lot of over-processed or industrialized food taste the intense flavors of real food.  We got to see that a lot.

Yesterday I waded back into the office - I am still staring at the  pile of mail that is threatening to avalanche.  School, office, laundry and putting everything away has been the necessity of the day.

Some of the successes of this past few weeks - the lettuce in the coldframe is wonderful - the baby chicks successfully went from incubator to brooding box to a free range pen without incident (well, one MIGHT have been stepped on), the orchard was seeded, the spring garden is growing beautifully, our amended water system was successfully set up by my sweet hubby and son, and we managed to have a really healthy, nutrient dense, organic Easter meal with a lot of family members participating.

Yesterday and today bring us to the place of trying to reimplement our normal routines.  Holidays, visitors and family are so much fun, but the day to day routine keeps us healthy and sane.  We are almost there :)

Be healthy and well today.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Sourdough Pasta

Every Monday, I am gently reminded by Kim to make a menu and check for ingredients.  Every week I am determined!  So far, haven't gotten there.  So.... over the Easter holiday, we have relatives visiting.  This is not a surprise and I planned to have pasta today.  Our oldest son is playing Judas in a play.  We are going to the play - pasta seemed like a great idea.  There has been a big pot of pasta sauce simmering in the crock pot all day. 
  • Grass Fed Hamburger - lightly sauteed
  • Organic Pasta Sauce in a glass Jar
  • Cultured tomato paste from last summer
  • Sauted onions, spices, sesame seeds and vegetables

When I went to the cupboard to get the pasta, I suddenly remembered I had taken every bit of pasta I had to a church pot luck and apparently neglected to replace it.  We live 30 minutes from town. I have a big bunch of sourdough sponge bubbling by the fire.....   hmmmm
Although I have never in my life made pasta - or even contemplated it before about a month ago, this then seemed like a good time to give it a whirl.  If it is terrible, we can just put the pasta sauce over some sourdough bread, add a bit of Parmesan cheese and ta-da - Sloppy Joes!

I have been unable to find a sourdough pasta recipe, but took a recipe from my cousin and adapted it.  So, what is in the sponge that sat out overnight?
  • 3 cups each whole wheat and barley flour
  • 1/2 cup flax meal
  • 1 cup starter
  • 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1-1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp cultured sesame seeds (I keep them in a jar in the fridge w/kefir in the jar)
  • 2 Tbsp Palm Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp organic cocoa powder (thanks Evelyn Fields for the idea)
  •  I think the blog on adding cocoa powder didn't ever get from point a to point b.  It does not taste like chocolate - it just gives the bread a rich taste and improves the texture.  It has been going into my sponge for about 10 days now and it is good.  It is totally an option... but it is good.
    This sponge became the base for the pasta recipe.  I made the dough up in the morning and left it by the warm stove until this afternoon, then began working with it.  Here is the recipe... although I doubled this:
  • 2 cups sponge
  • 2 cups flour (I used organic white for the gluten)
  • 2 Tbsp gluten
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I left this out since it was already in the sponge)
  • 2 eggs - beaten
  • 1 Tsp olive oil (again, I left this out since it was in the sponge)
  • 1/3 cup water
Using the Kitchenaid with the dough hook attachment, this all was combined into a very stiff dough.  The dough went into my bread rising bowl with a wet towel over it for several hours to continue culturing.  The dough is really beautiful and easy to work with.

Using a big wooden cutting board that my hubby unearthed from the shop after my purge of all plastic cutting boards   made the job go quickly and easily.  The dough was separated into baseball sized portions, rolled out with a rolling pin, cut up with a pizza roller, then laid out on the table to dry.

I cheated a little and snitched about 5 pieces of the first batch to boil up and try before it was served to everybody.  It surprised me how much the strips puffed up.  It took about 18 minutes and the results.... I am NEVER going back to that bland, tasteless pasta from the store again.  This was EASY!

Another processed food that can move off the shopping list.... this summer when the tomatoes come in the pasta sauce is moving off too!