Saturday, February 27, 2016

Then There Were 6 (Farm loss)

A good friend of mine always reminds me, "If you have livestock you will also have dead-stock".
This is a fact in raising farm animals.

We lost a calf yesterday.
A female.
One I intended to keep around and grow the herd.
One who I invested much time and money in.
One I planned on having my children help me milk.

I think sometimes I shouldn't care so much. We raise animals to eat. We essentially raise them to die. Why do I care so much if there are casualties along the way? I can write it off as a loss.

But still this morning I wake up and I go to the window to count the cows. My morning ritual. Before I drink my coffee or do anything else I count. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.....7..... No. There are only 6 now. I failed her somehow. My mind races.

But I know. I care because it is my job. I raise these animals for a reason.

Grass N Grace Farm was founded on the principles of raising and loving and caring for livestock in a way that they have the absolute best life. They can be exactly as they were designed to be.

Cows can roam the fields and aren't forced to eat certain things so they grow fast or produce the most. They are loved on by our family like giant goofy dogs with slimy tongues. Pigs get to root and play in our shaded woods. The boys make them mud puddles and they get all our food scrapes. They run to the fence in anticipation when they see the boys and are calm and happy. Our egg laying chickens roam the property and the meat chickens who are more vulnerable get moved everyday to fresh pasture in their pens. They have freedom to express themselves as Joel Salatin says.

So when an animal doesn't get to live the fullness of their expected time on our farm I feel like I've failed them. The loss never gets easier for me. I still morn for them, and I have come to terms with it. If my heart gets hardened then I have lost our original purpose of starting our farm.

"Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened."

-Anatole France

Monday, February 22, 2016

Things Parents Say (Farm Edition)

So I've seen these great posts floating around Facebook land.

We all have.
And we all relate, don't we?

I do........kind of.

Well if you didn't know I have 4 boys and a farm, which really changes stuff up every once in a while.


For instance instead of me saying "Please don't shove your brother",

I say: "Please don't try to purposely shove your brother into the pig fence so he gets shocked".

Ha ha, funny right? *sarcasm inserted*
So here is my list of                      Things Farm Parents Say
1. No. Stop. That chicken does not want to go down the slide.
          (Trust me. They really don't) 
2. Please don't eat the snow by the chicken coop.
3. Stop riding the pig.
(Max seriously loves the chickens)
4. Please don't put the calf bottle in your mouth! Are you a cow?!

(Don't I have the cutest farm hands?)
 5. Please stop playing tag on the excavator. It is not a jungle gym!
6. Please empty your pockets. I will not be making scrambled eggs in the washer again.
(This also applies to husbands. Eggs in pockets are a serious common occurrence here.)
7. Do not put your food scraps in the garbage! You know better than that! There are hungry animals outside! Throw them out the front door.
8. You can go as far as that last hay bale and no farther! I have to be able to see you!
9. You can only swim in the cow waterer when supervised.
10. Who stepped in cow poop?
11. Who left the door open? There are chickens in the mudroom!
12. Please get that chicken out of the van.
13. Who's turn is it to make a mud puddle for the pigs?
14. Your pig is not a pillow. Ok. Maybe he is.
14. Wait? You didn't bring any shoes?! (This happens far more often than I care to admit)
15. I don't care what you wear to go do chores but you have to have on boots! 
16. Don't pee on the electric fence. (Classic but very true)
17. Please put clothes on. Someone is coming down the driveway.
18.  Fence posts are not swords!
19. Its chore time!!
20. Do you know how lucky you are to be a farm kid?
What are some of the crazies things you have said to your kids?
Hope you enjoyed a glimpse into my life.




Sunday, March 10, 2013

Crock pot Chicken and Dumplings

I love my crock pot. A lot. It is a wonderful thing.
With that being said, let me show you how I make chicken and dumplings in the crock pot

Here is the link where I got the idea, however I tweaked it a bit.

Remember that chicken we cooked the other day?

Chop it up and put it in the crock pot.

Add some of that stock you made too (enough to cover the chicken)

Next we are going to make our own cream of chicken soup

You will need: 1 cup chicken stock, 1 cup milk, 1/4 cup flour, and 1/4 cup butter

Melt the butter and whisk in flour.

Add stock and milk. Stir on medium heat for about 3 minutes. If it doesn't thicken up enough add some more flour. 

Add your homemade cream of chicken soup to your crock pot of chicken and broth.

Stir, cover, and let cook on high for few hours (or low for the day)

About 1.5 hours before dinner we need to add the dumpling dough

 Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in shortening. Stir in milk.

Take bite size bits of dough and drop them into the crock pot

Once all the dough is in stir, cover, and cook on high for an hour
(you can also add whatever seasonings you like here)

After an hour it is dinner time!

 I hope you try this recipe and let me know what you think! It is a favorite here.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Whole Chickens for Beginners!

A lot of people are asking:

How do I cook a whole chicken?!

With our prepackaged, plastic wrapped, grocery store chicken breast, or precooked ready to eat rotisserie chicken, buying straight from the farm can be intimidating!

Have no fear! I have rounded up some recipes, tips, and ideas to help you venture into the wonderful world of whole chickens and the endless possibilities they have!

Not all of us have been shown how to cook whole chickens. The days of standing in the kitchen with Grandma and Mom having recipes passed down are long gone for most of us.

Easiest way to cook a whole chicken: The Crock-pot

I wake up in the morning and start the coffee pot (this is important!). Then I grab my crock-pot and put about 3-4 inches of water in the bottom, take the chicken out of the freezer and plop it in. Set the crock-pot on low and stick the lid on. Grab my cup of coffee and start the day.

When dinner time is looming close I take the chicken out and set it in a big bowl to cool off. Once I can handle it without scalding my fingers I get another bowl out and separate all the meat from the skin and bones. Don't throw out the scraps!! Use them to make a delicious bone broth!

My lazy broth involves throwing all the chicken bones and skin back in the crock-pot and filling it with enough water to cover everything by an inch or so. Sometimes i throw veggie scraps in. Sometimes I don't. Leave the crock-pot on low overnight and whenever you get around to it the next day strain the scraps from the liquid and you have your own healthy homemade broth!

Wellness Mama has a great blog about all the benefits of bone broth here:

Well I am short on time today, stay tuned and I will be posting some of our tried and true chicken recipes!

Please comment and let me know what you want to know! What are your questions?