Foraging: Hunting Morels

It could just be me, but I feel like hunting morels use to be this little secret that wasn’t really broadcasted. The locals knew what time to look and would slip into the woods unseen and come back with golden treasure to fry up in a few days for a scrumptious dinner or in Jeremy’s grandma Juanita’s case: Breakfast. Now it’s… Trending. For me, I grew up with it. We always looked to April and May with anticipation and hope of detectable fried goodness. To be honest though, the best part is the thrill of the hunt.

I actually am haunted during morel mushroom season, I dream about them that I’m finding a big patch and it’s crazy how many there are… Then I wake up 😉

But it seems now that mushrooms are in and trending. I’ve seen several blogs post about how to find them, wild foraging, wild crafting, etc. I’ve heard people actually follow morels up the states. They start in the warmer ones and work their way up until they are gone for that year. Missouri’s season is usually mid April to mid May but this year’s season as far as my location… Wasn’t so great. We had two batches we fried up and that was it.

Soaking in salt water

When you do go out to hunt, be careful of snakes! One of my last trips, I ran into this guy and yes, he’s poisonous.

Pygmy rattler

In my experience, growing up I always found morels below my mom’s property under sycamore trees… Which send odd to me now because I never find them there anymore. Most of the time I find them at the base of oak trees.  What you want is warmer temperatures during the night and warm days as well as rainy days. They need moisture and warmth.

I’ve never really thought about it, but I had someone say they looked like brains as a description to someone new hunting them but I guess they kinda do.

If you haven’t ever gone… GO. It’s really fun going especially with friends. Anyone have any good mushroom hunting stories to share in the comments???

 

New way for wood cutting

Have you ever thought about how many times throughout the process of cutting wood that you touch it? Let’s just play out a quick scenario: you go locate your logs, chainsaw cut, load into truck, split wood, and stack wood… Or locate, cut, split, load in truck, drive back home, unload into wood shed. Even after all that, you still need to take it in your house every other day during the wood burning season.
It’s definitely a lot of hard work but what if you could cut out a couple of steps?

Jeremy and I came across an opportunity that did just that. I’m sure you’ve seen your local excavating companies cutting a path through an area. Jeremy has to go out and survey that for them and noticed a lot of trees bring cut out so he asked what they did with it. They actually pay someone to come in and haul it out! So he offered to come and get it for free and they agreed! 

We don’t have to load it, they use an excavator (which I wish we had for the homestead!) and we leave our truck and trailer, when it’s ready to go they call. We pick it up after work and take it home and unload with a tractor. Less back breaking work is awesome! Plus!  We’ve already got our winter’s worth of wood and then some 🙂

We positioned it close to our yard so when we do cut and split it, we are going to put on trailer and back up to wood shed and pile it in. I dont think I’ve ever been this excited about wood season before lol It’s going to be a piece of cake! I hope anyway.
How does your wood cutting season usually go?

Bringing the cows in for the last time

Today I left early from work and rushed home to saddle up my horse to bring the cows in. At the survey office we have a big 3500 acre job that has a time frame so Jeremy was needed more there than me so I volunteered do have the cows ready by the time the stock trailer came to pick them up.

I wasn’t going to be alone, Jane (aka Superwoman) was going with me along her her husband Nick. When I got home, I called the horses– they ignored me and proceeded to run out of reach so I went to BabyDoll (my horse whose the sweet one) and pet her and they all stopped and gave in.

I caught Jane’s horse Lady and my horse (when I need him to be) RedMan. I took them in the barn and started saddling up and I heard a rusty gate swing open letting me know Jane had arrived. She saddled Lady and we rode down in the field together down to the south end where the cows were lounging in the shade bunched up together.

The plan (Jane’s) was to try and just grab the ones that werent ours so we didn’t have to cut them out but I thought that was a horrible plan… Who doesn’t want to cut out cows? That’s the best part! That didn’t work because they all wanted to go so we let them instead of wearing out our horses 😉

They all knew the way to go so they started meandering towards the direction of the barn. They didn’t know that would be their last time there. They had been on this Homestead since September of last year, the plan was to let them calve and do calf shares but with all the flooding lately, it did some damage to our bottom land where the creek runs through and took out a considerable amount of fence.

They didn’t put up much of a fight going in. We shut the gates and I took after our cows. Most of them were bunched together at the corner  of the barn so I snuck around them quickly and cornered them toward the corral. Nick was at the gate in case we made the cows on the lease head out with ours.

We shuffled out four, one jersey milk cow, 2 steers, and a young Angus heifer. Some were outside the fence that didnt get the chance to come in because Jane closed the gate on em. I’d bring them to the lane and she would chase down it to Nick and back in the field. Before long they were all out. We did a final count and the stock trailer showed up. We chased them into the corral and backed the trailer up. We separated out 5 at a time and loaded until full and the hauler headed up the road to transfer into a semi trailer. 

They can be trouble but I know Jeremy enjoyed having them but hopefully we can build our herd a bit bigger now. I will miss my favorite cow who I called Sweet Face and Jeremy will miss “Snake Eyes.”

And as always, I was on horseback and busy so no pictures but there one of RedMan when I took the saddle off ready to be done and go eat some green grass.

Early night, he said

Jeremy does this thing… I think it’s called being hopeful or optimistic but it’s always the same thing he uses it on which is “Babe, let’s hurry up when we get home and do our chores and make it an early night.” Which means early dinner as well… Writing this article, I’m sure you know where this is going. Obviously, being hopeful means it probably doesn’t happen. I’m not saying having hope is bad, I’m a spiritual/religious girl and without hope that doesn’t leave you much when it comes to that. In this case though, early dinner in itself is hard for me.

I’m not against this idea, I’m just very self-aware 🙂 When you have a farm/homestead, things happen and most nights… they don’t end early. Our days go like this: We get up around 5 AM and get ready for work. Right now we are raising meat birds– so after I convince myself that it’s necessary to have a secular job, I get up and get ready/dressed then pack lunch for the day then before we are about to leave I have to go check on the birds and feed and water them. I have two sets of chicks currently which is the meat birds and then I’m raising laying hens as well so that I can breed my own.

We go through the normal of a workday, decide to eat out since we needed to get 2 horses ready to take to the horse sale the next day to make it a quick easy night. My chores consist of taking care of the chicks again, taking care of the laying hens, and feeding the cats & dogs. Jeremy gets on horseback and rides out to bring the cows in which at this point is 29? I think, not counting the Jerseys. If they are being good and just down in the bottom that doesn’t take too long. Then he feeds them and feeds our jerseys, horses, and some other cows that are separated out. Last night I needed to put pine shavings into my brooder shed and my regular chores. I noticed Jeremy had been gone for a bit and I didn’t see a cow in sight so I had my mud boots on, I decided to scout around to see if I could hear him on the hill side. With the recent rain, the water was RUSHING and it was raining as well. I could occasionally hear him but not enough, I decided to cross the creek on foot (bad idea) and went all the way down to the south end. I knew the cows and him had been that way but I wasn’t sure where he was. I knew he had to be on the bluff line but couldn’t hear a thing so I cross the creek again in a deeper spot and got soaked all the way up to my butt.  After that, I needed to go change and while I was in the house, he showed up, horse soaked in rain and sweat. He told me that he was going to call him mom and by then… I’m thinking it was almost 6 pm. So, I put on my cowgirl boots and my carhart coat and went to saddle Red Man.

When you’re working, you don’t really have time to take pictures but I wish I had because it was a cattle drive for sure. They were 2.5 miles away from the farm in someone else’s field full of lush green grass. We had to cross creeks and go through old abandoned roads to get there but we found them and they weren’t separated into 2 groups, they were all together, we did a count and the 3 of us drove them to the gate opening. Everything went pretty well except they kept trying to bush up a couple of times but with a little ingenuity, we turned them the right directions and headed for home. It was dark by the time we got back and the other horses were at the gate entry when we got there so they started scattering the cows so we had to split up and chase the horses off. We finally brought the cows in and put them to graze in the south hay field to stay until   fixing the fence gets finished this weekend.

After that, we had to go in the pitch black and bring the horses back in since we needed to take 2 to the sale barn the next day. By the time, it was all said and done, it was 8:48 PM when we got into the house. I wouldn’t call that an early night… But it was fun. I did try to shoot a picture with my phone and it flashed… Scared the horse, so I put it back in my pocket so my death wouldn’t be any more eminent than it had to be.

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so you can see much, but a tree line and shadows of cows and some rain but it’s proof 🙂

 

Kombucha: The Elixir of Life

Kombucha seems to be trending… Which bugs me. I hate being involved in trends because I feel like it affects my individuality. Yet, I guess if it’s trending, maybe people will find this and read it and enjoy it. I will say this though, everyone seems to LOVE the taste. NOT SO MUCH here. My first experience with Kombucha tea was my mother in law (Superwoman) and my father in law toting it’s benefits and how they felt better when drinking it. You know, a lot of old timers swear by it though not Kom-buch-a… Kombuchie tea… Though not pronounced right, it’s still the same.

For me, I thought it tasted like pure vinegar! YIKES! Though I fully believe in benefits of raw apple cider vinegar, I don’t enjoy drinking it personally. I more or less treat it like a whiskey shot (Not a fan of whiskey either lol) and mix a little with lemon and honey and down the hatch! followed by orange juice to drown out my gag reflex 😉 BUT it definitely helps me when I have a cold or whatnot so I bear through it. Really isn’t a happy time to be a picky person in those moments. You should see the look on my face…

Back to Kombucha aka Kombuchie, I never latched on because it was so horrid when I tried it at the in laws place. I lost touch with it for a couple of years until further researching it and the many benefits it exudes. Just some of the things are that it enhances mental clarity, energy boost, aids in detox process, promotes longevity, maintain probiotic health, etc. The properties in this probiotic tea are the obvious: probiotics, malic acid, amino acids, oxalic acid, nucleic acid, acetic acid, enzymes, lactic acid, gluconic acid, analgesics, vitamins, and don’t forget caffeine from the tea itself.

What’s not to like right?? As for me and my household… We would say: The Taste.

But keep in mind, we are picky. So before I come up with some simple solution for this, let’s dive in to the HOW DO WE MAKE THIS LIFE CONDITIONING ELIXIR?? THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH!

What You’ll Need to Make Kombucha

  • 8 tea bags or 2 tbs of loose tea (black tea or green tea, unflavored–good chance of flavors killing the good SCOBY except I’ve heard Jasmine Green Tea seems to work but I haven’t tried it yet)
  • 1 gallon jar
  • SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria & Yeast) which is the brains of the outfit–you can get this from a friend or a health food store
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3.5 quarts of water
  • 1-2 cups of starter Kombucha which you can get from a friend or use store bought
  • Clean breathable fabric or coffee filter
  • rubberband
  • vinegar (I just used some Apple Cider Vinegar)

So relatively simple ingredients other than the acquiring of the SCOBY 

Before we move on to the ‘How to’ part of this, you need to make sure everything is sanitized and I don’t mean with bleach. What I did was clean all my utensils and containers then I rinsed with Apple Cider Vinegar even my hands as well. Otherwise there could be a chance it messes up your batch. I do know this from experience. When we first started milking our cows and trying to improve on the cream extraction– we bought one of those 3 gallon mason jar looking pitchers that have the spout at the bottom. We used it for quite a while and then changed our process so I stopped using it. I thought it would be perfect for Kombucha batches but after a few weeks, mold popped up on my SCOBY and I tried another batch and it happened again. The spout, no matter how much I tried to clean it was causing things to go wrong, they never fully would get sanitized. On my third try, in just a regular gallon jar, it went perfectly.

How to Make Kombucha

  1. Brew your 3.5 quarts of water with your 8 tea bags
  2. Add your sugar and let this cool, other wise it can kill your SCOBY, which is a living organism affected by temperatures
  3. Pour in the SCOBY after temperature has cooled and isn’t hot anymore
  4. Add in your 1-2 cups of starter Kombucha
  5. Cover with a paper towel, coffee filter, clean breathable fabric, whichever–and put rubberband in place to hold it there.
  6. Put it in a dark area with a temperature ranging from 68-75 degrees F for 7-12 days

The other Old SCOBY should have New one attached to it so your brew should be done. So here is where my solution to the sour vinegar taste can be altered and it’s just simple and most people know it, it’s just that I had no clue at the time. The easy solution to get the benefits of Kombucha tea is to flavor it. There are many different flavors your can come up with, the sky is the limit but I’ll let you know what I did.

First off, I really suggest in purchasing some swing top bottles. I avoided it until I absolutely needed to but ultimately they aren’t too expensive especially since they are reusable. I bought mine at The Home Brewery in Ozark, MO which I’ve previously mentioned in the Homemade Wine post. 

Like i previously mentioned, the sky is the limit but let’s go VERY easy with this. What I used is frozen fruit but you can use fruits, juices, honey, herbs, spices.

Flavoring Kombucha along with the Fizz Bonus

  1. Sanitize your bottles and add in your brewed kombucha
  2. Add fruits and if using the bottles then you’ll definitely need to chop up to fit in and easy to strain. Also, fruit tends to sink to the bottom so you might not have to strain. The mixed berry version I did was that way (I did read one article on pureeing fruit and putting in the bottom and pouring in the kombucha and personally I didn’t like this. One, the texture if you drank it straight is… bleh. The mix floated to the top so you had to drink it through that. Makes me cringe just thinking about it. Two, it’s hard to strain if you don’t like said texture)
  3. If you want a fizzy kombucha like soda then you’ll need to go through a second ferment so the bottles need to be latched in place and put in the same area you fermented before but this time it will only be 3-5 days. 
  4. Put in the fridge to stop fermentation process. When you open these, they will flavored, slightly sweet, and surprisingly bubbly 🙂



Mixed Berry (no fizz)

    New Batches

    After the bottling process, you’re left with the Old and New SCOBY so you’ll divide them by pulling apart from each other and you can make 2 new batches or just one more batch and give the other to a friend in need of the addiction that is Kombucha hehe

    I hope this was helpful and that you can start making your own batches and get those health benefits it doles out. I’m pretty new to this so if I left anything out, please let me know! What are your experiences with Kombucha???

    I don’t know if most of you will appreciate this but I feel like it’s an article/how-to that is necessary for a sustainable farm. There are some things I refuse to do, others I refused to do and was told it was an essential part of surviving on the farm (Yes, from the husband). In this world/society, I know we have food available right out of the grocery store but there’s something about knowing where your food comes from and how better to know exactly what process it went through and how unlikely it is that you’ll get e coli poisoning, and whatever other crazy germs seem to being presenting themselves on our chicken these days. (If you want to know more, I suggest watching Food Inc it will definitely open your eyes) Most of it is being shipped to China and is constantly being refused because there are metal pieces in it! Eck. Eek. Yuck. YIKES.

    So, this is me warning you ahead of time: VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED. I don’t want you opening up this post to see blood and guts and not be warned. Though it will take a little bit of reading so you have time to change your mind.

    Like most things I post on this blog, I didn’t have any idea what I got myself into/married into ;). As a matter of fact, if you asked me 7 years ago if I would be processing my own chickens, I would have laughed in your face. My first time… I almost couldn’t do it, I most DEFINITELY was not a country girl. The only thing I could handle doing was to rinse the birds off after being processed but the next time I felt okay doing a small amount more and next I did even more until my friend Shay and I would race to see who could process a bird the fastest… I would say that’s growth and acceptance in one 🙂

    So is it a step you want to take?

    It’s for sure something to think about. In the end it’s pretty similar to a smart chicken being bought out of the store but is cheaper money wise but hard work and less germ yuckiness. The best way that I know is to talk to your friends. The more birds you get, the less they will cost and if you have people interested then most likely they will pay for you to take care of theirs if you have the room and they don’t. Also, that’s extra help which means, assembly line! Which means getting done faster and running like a finely honed engine. If every “station” has a hand on deck then the whole process moves along fairly quickly.

    The Hard Part

    You start with the above picture of little chicks. Yes, chicks are adorable but you need to establish the difference between meat birds and laying hens. Personally, when I raise laying hens, I talk to them like people and enjoy the whole process from start to finish; it is an enjoyable experience and there’s a connection there that you get to keep each day when you go out to your “girls” to collect eggs. (On a side note, that’s what Jehovah God commissioned us to do in the very beginning: watch over the animals, be fruitful, and multiply. That would have been our jobs, live in a paradise and take care of the animals and the land but Adam rebelled so we inherited sin and death instead)
    Meat birds… They really aren’t as sweet. At first, it’s not too bad but towards the end, they just want food and they can get kind of mean. By that, I mean when I went to feed them one afternoon in flip flops, they bit me! I don’t mean a little peck like most chickens, I mean bit me! So one, I learned to wear boots from that point on and I wasn’t completely against butchering to tell you the truth.

    It’s honestly like raising milk cows which become part of the family versus feeder steers. Feeder steers.  You just don’t get close to feeder steers, those are the rules. They aren’t pets, their food. Milk cows are pets, put your affection to them, not your steers.

    Maisy, my milk cow–feeder steer in background away from everyone

    What You’ll Need

    • Brooder box
    • Heat lamps/lights
    • Meat bird feed 22% protein is good
    • The chicks of course (we used cackle hatchery this year)
    • Waterers
    • Pin
    • Shelter
    • Apple Cider Vinegar, optional
    • Colloidal Silver, optional
    • Oregano oil, optional
    • Food container

    I should also mention I refuse to medicate my birds. What’s the point in all this if you aren’t going antibiotic free? Anytime I raise chicks meat or laying, I use natural remedies to avoid antibiotics. One of the biggest reasons that people started using medicated feed for chicks was because in the big industrialized chicken farms there were so many that you wouldn’t be able to tell which ones were sick (and coccidiosis was the big issue and spreads to other chickens through feces) so it can get out of hand pretty quickly. Instead of trying to keep track it was better for them to medicate as a safety precaution. All chickens have Coccidian protozoa present in their intestines. The problem is an overgrowth of the protozoa that leads to them getting sick.

    As far as a small farm, it doesn’t seem necessary to me. Especially since Apple Cider Vinegar is around; add about 1 TBS to your gallon waterer and you’re all set. Here’s a link to basic use of ACV and here’s one that’s helpful on this particular subject. The last one is a great article that was very helpful in proving what I already knew to be true.

    Feeding

    Feeding an animal doesn’t seem that complicated but with meat birds you need to pay closer attention. My in laws have been doing this for over 30 years and learned some lessons the hard way, by doing it of course. They have lost a lot of chickens in the past and have perfected it to where they hardly lose any at all now. So, just needs more effort on your part.

    1. Using a preferably 22% protein feed, for 1 week only give them as much as they want, fill in morning and when you are home in the evening
    2. The second week, feed them 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour at night. (The reason you have to take it away is obesity. These birds will eat and eat and eat until they are literally so heavy their legs can’t support them. You have to limit them because you don’t want them to just lay around, they do need to be a bit active and if they can’t walk they can’t make it to water and feed)
    3. Week 3, put food out 24/7. When they start getting bigger you will have to put more food out and they will really start going through it the last two weeks, they are bottomless pits. (Growth time is usually 6-8 weeks)
    4. You’ll need to pick a nice sized bird and weigh, when you reach 7-8 lbs that’s what you’re looking for. That size usually dresses out to 5lbs which you can probably get 2 meals out of depending on your family size. It’s just Jeremy and me here on the homestead so it’s 2 meals

    Chicken Massacre Spring 2017  

    You’ll need quite a bit of stuff initially but once you have this it can be a once or twice a year thing and can be stored together for later use. I feel like I should also say, you can spend extra money and buy specialty stuff like stainless still but to me, bleaching everything before you start… Seems to do the trick and I’ve never been sick from one of our birds. But this is your choice and I’m mentioning this now because maybe the pics won’t look “professional” but this is what WE do. It’s your call on what YOU do.

    FYI

    Just something helpful we have learned is to pick your butchering times in spring and the fall so you miss the flies and the heat.

    Supplies needed:

    • Two big pots, the size used for frying turkeys
    • Nails
    • Wood stump
    • Baling twine
    • Hooks
    • Feed sacks (plastic ones work best)
    • Orange road cones
    • Outside sinks
    • Running water source
    • Really sharp knives (the best I’ve found is RADA pearing knives you can get one for $5 on Amazon if I remember correctly but you’ll also need a good sharp serrated knife as well and a chef’s knife is always great too)
    • Bleach
    • Dawn dish soap
    • Timer
    • Two thermometers
    • Frozen water bottles
    • Tubs with lids
    • Galvanized steel container
    • Bags
    • Metal ties
    • Pliers
    • Absorbent sheets, optional
    • Cutting boards or what we use which is recycled microwave plates
    • Paper towels
    • Gloves
    • Buckets
    • Plucker (you can rent one or build one)

    The process

    The night before you need to take the food away from the birds. You don’t want to process a bird and have it full of… Processed and unprocessed food, its gross and smells awful.

    The next day, it begins…

    First, set up your work area. Each task is a station.

    An off-with-their-heads-area-the stump with two nails and axe. You put the chicken through the cone and put its head between nails and pull slightly, aim tour axe and use enough force otherwise… You have to do it twice like Bethany did and it’s not as clean and… Just not great. (There’s another method which involves just hanging bird upside down and cutting jugular but it just wasn’t for us) After this step have the bucket close and transfer to it. Square part of cone holds it in place.

    You then need to be able to hang birds to drain, we use Jane’s clothes line post.

    Once the bird is completely drained of blood it needs to be dunked in water.

    Boiling area-has to be at temperature and you soak holding feet to make sure legs stay under water and after about 45 seconds check to see if feathers pull out really easy.

    From the boiling area it goes to the plucker, from the plucker it goes to get the neck and legs removed, then to the processing area, it goes to the check and rinse station.

    From the check and rinse it will go into water to soak 2 and 3 at a time and then goes into a big galvanized pot in ice cold water where it will stay until you put about 20 birds in then it goes into tubs with lids and a frozen ice water bottle is put inside the chicken so it freezes as much as possible from the inside. They wait there until it is time for bagging.
    With bagging, we form an assembly line at a longer table and one person holds the bag, another tucks the legs and puts the bird in the bag, another twists the bag, one clips the bag, one pokes holes in the bag (so when it shrinks the air gets out that way), one takes and dips 3 at a time in boiling water and the kids that are there are usually the runners. They take them to the freezer.

    Put into the cone so it wont bruise and then you transfer to the bucket so it drains and stops jerking after head is removed

     

    Draining

    Boiling to loosen the feathers

    Plucker

    About to get legs and neck removed

    Processing a bird

    Getting rid of the legs and neck and the first soak

    After the soak process, into goes into this one for a colder soak

    Our sink setup, two sinks are for processing two for check and rinse

    Boiling station

    Birds stored in tubs with frozen bottles inside

    Bagging birds

    Adding the clip

    Bagged, ready to be dunked

    Put in the pot for the dunking to shrink plastic bag to the chicken

    Being dunked

    Finished product

    Growing/Butchering/Processing YOUR OWN Chickens

    Back in the Old Days: Lard

    DSC_0018

    A little over a century ago; everyone used lard (Okay maybe not the Jewish communities). It was a homestead staple. I’ve even read books based in the late 1890s where they always had a barrel of lard on hand to store their meats/sausages (The Little Britches Series which I highly recommend). How could it go from being a staple to being frowned on? Read on my friends 🙂

    When it costed less for industrialized companies to make vegetable based oils and shortenings… That’s when Lard developed a “bad rep.”Kind of like butter as well but that’s another story. Also, there was a fictional book about people being killed in vats of lard. Totally fictional but it put a bad taste in people’s mouths on lard. Even though these were natural products fresh off the farm… There was money in lard making because it was a byproduct for the pork industry, just extra moo-lah and need I say NATURAL once more?

    Also, if you were unaware you body does require fats to survive. But with going diet trends of the past and even now people think, “You eat fat, you get fat.” Which can be true but it’s not like you’re picking up a stick of butter and eating it like a candy bar! This little idea pushed us into the “low fat” era. Think about this though, if you take the fat out and it still tastes good… Where you do you think that comes from? SUGAR. Then when people figured that out came “low fat and low sugar.” Surprise… Now it has aspartame in it and let’s not even broach that in this article. I’ll go on a rant. We’ll cover that some other post. For profits and not a care for people’s health big industrialized companies come up with this junk. Most people trust that if can buy it at the store, it’s safe for your health.

    **Don’t forget to start looking into this for yourselves, you’ll be surprised at what you learn. Some companies are trustworthy, they seem to care about health but it seems far and few between so do you own digging to be aware and figure out what is good and what is bad.

    Back to Lard

    To understand all of this let’s go back to before the civil war– It all started with Crisco. I could cover how that came about by who, what, when, where but I feel like that’s covered. I’ll try to do a little summary for you and if you want to know more I’ll attach the links (Rise and Fall of Crisco and Ever Wonder Who Killed Lard and there’s always Wikipedia)

    The basic is this: Two brothers (Proctor & Gamble) one a candle maker, the other a soap maker and they decided to tag team together. Lard and tallow controlled the prices set for candles/soap making. So they bought all the cottonseed mills because they had a German chemist who developed hydrogenation. The cottonseed oil became a solid liquid resembling lard. Being as society was leaning towards using electricity having candles wasn’t that necessary anymore so they thought they could market it as a food product. There’s quite a bit more but I’m going to leave it simple.

    I personally never thought I would be using lard. Actually, I was raised on the Best Choice version of Crisco. That’s all my mom used. She didn’t know any different that it was full of trans fats and even if she did, I doubt she would have really cared. There’s a point when you meet people that know the difference and you wonder and have curiosity about the things they were taught (Yes, I’m referring to the husband) so you start listening and learning and researching… Then a few years pass-what do ya know you start a blog haha-But seriously, I also came into a family that had their own pork processed at the local butcher and then you acquire lard that needs to be rendered which leads me to the reason I decided to write this article…

    For a couple of years, I’ve had the lard left over from the pig in my freezer and never did anything until I needed to clean the freezer out for more room and decided to just jump in. It’s actually fairly simple really.

    You might be wondering what to use lard for… Baked goods, soap making, the best fried chicken you’ve ever had… The list is endless.

    How to Render Lard (in a crock pot)

    1. Cut lard into pieces and cut any meat from it (In my case, the place I had it butchered cut into pieces for me which made things A LOT! easier)
    2. Put into crock pot with a little water (about 1/4 cup) to the bottom so it doesn’t burn lard before it becomes a liquid
    3. Let it cook until it’s liquid (Make sure it’s clear, if it’s not, it isn’t fully done)
    4. Strain lard, the leftover pieces are called cracklins which are similar to pork rinds but 10x better! (In my opinion)
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    This is how they cut and bagged it for me

    So this next image I’m adding has a picture of a jar that I’m filling for of the liquid but… It isn’t quite clear enough and when my husband saw it he said it needs to be more clear to keep well and when it solidified… It wasn’t pure white and that’s what you’re really looking for. So here’s a don’t do what I did image for reference. Just let it cook longer.

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    Needs to be clear NOT that color

    And the extra bonus 🙂

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    Cracklins

    Well… I hope this was hopeful. I might edit this article in the future about fats being good for us and what not. Maybe even stuff about hydrogenation. Let me know what you guys think!

    So It’s Been A Bit…

    Life has thrown quite a few obstacles our way in the past 5 months. I’ll try to sum it up simply by saying Jeremy’s job last November was on the outs. Someone new tried to take over so for a few months it was a tight squeeze money wise but we did okay and made due. Then in January, the new owner let us know he wouldn’t be able to sustain two offices so he would only be running his side of it and we were out. After that we ended up merging with another company and we’ve been there for 1 month and I will tell you, this blog has suffered. I’ve been super busy and not had ANY time to devote to it yet it seems I’m getting a few followers here and there and I thank you guys! Getting traffic is a big part of this, I just need to do my side and get a few posts going weekly if possible but it’s going to be hard time wise.

    I just hope that I can maintain everything. The job is a necessary part of life and I just need to figure out how to balance it all. Hate to say it but it will get a little harder because as we near warmer weather, that means planting time. I’ve already started my tomatoes and peppers though my peppers are fighting me but the tomatoes have popped up 2 inches! Just bear with me through this! I’ll get the hang of it, promise.

    So what’s new in your lives?? With us, the new jobs and we actually are working in the same office which is different but in the end, nice. Sometimes we get on each other’s nerves but not too bad. Concerning the farm, we are looking into solar power which would be great and eventually if that works… Off grid, yay! That’s seems far away but very cool. Our Jerseys are due this month so hopefully we’ll have some new babies and I HOPE HOPE HOPE that they have heifers!

    Back to gardening life, I plan on ordering more asparagus crowns, more strawberry plants, and maybe some blueberries, blackberries, grapes, and yellow raspberries. My go to place is Simmons Plant Farm. They are relatively local (Arkansas) to our climate here in Missouri. I’ve also found some wild raspberry plants here in our woods so I pulled them up and transplanted them in my yard. We’ll see how they do. I made some blackberry/raspberry wine that was divine so I’m hoping to recreate it with local raspberries from my farm now. 

    Since we’ve acquired more Muscovy ducks from our neighbor, they have NO BOUNDARIES! so I need to re-fence the garden so they’ll stay out. I don’t want to clip their wings since they seem to LOVE flying and that’s their only defense mechanism with wildlife around here so hopefully they stay out once the fence is up. I’ve been meaning to fence the garden for a while now. Every year, Dandy (our golden retriever/great Pyrenees) gets into it just as you planted everything and digs and rolls around so this ought to put a stop to him as well. Another nice thing is when the garden is done for the season, I can put my hens in there to have what’s left over and to dig and scratch around.

    Speaking of chickens and gardens, one of things I want to do this year is to make a little run about half a row size (our rows are 75 ft) and put a few chickens in the run and let them scratch out the weeds and what not. I always have a hard time weeding or at least, sticking with it so this might be a great solution. If anyone has tried this, let me know how it went!

    By the way, if anyone wants me to post about a particular thing I’d be glad to do it– like plant profiles or uses, farm life stuff, etc. Worst thing I can say is no… But I doubt I would unless I had completely no idea about the subject matter and even then, I’d probably research a learn 🙂

    Well, that’s my update for now. I’ll try and get some good articles out for you guys soon!

    Meet the Gang: Luna

     

    Luna is one of our inside cats. The other is Lennon which we recently realized is a girl and not a boy… We are idiots. To be fair though, at the time we had four kittens that were abandoned by the mother who never came back to the farm so I’m assuming a coyote disposed of her. The kitten Jeremy was going to keep who was a boy died and so Lennon was the replacement and we just assumed he was a boy.

    Back to Luna, she isn’t sweet like Lennon. She has attitude and she flaunts it and loves to play and fight and climb things as high as possible. You are there strictly to let her sit on you lap only… No touching is preferred. She is a complete brat! But they are amusing together and are buddies even though they are complete opposites. So that’s Luna, our black smoke pixie bobcat.

    Homemade Creamer

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    Fresh cream from our jersey cows Daisy & Maisy


    If there was something I could change about myself, it would be that I didn’t need creamer for my coffee! SO MANY CALORIES! GAH! Yet, I do like creamer in my coffee and I really prefer to avoid soy if possible and almost all coffee creamers seemed to be soy based.

    You can buy half n half or just heavy cream but a product that Jeremy and I really liked was the Dunkin Donuts Extra Extra coffee creamer. It actually is made with cream unlike International Delight or Coffee Mate. I do like those but… soy. I know they have the Natural Bliss stuff that seems a bit better but I have Jersey cows, surely I could figure out how to make cream.

    In my mind, it seemed only logical that it would be half milk/half cream (half n half) but definitely wasn’t. Something that isn’t on my side through all of this is that I can’t homogenize my milk and cream. Homogenization is when the fat droplets in milk are emulsified and the cream does not separate. So it is uniform and not separate. In my case, either you have milk or cream and that’s your only option.

    I tried different amounts, sugar syrup mixed in, flavors, etc. I just got frustrated and we kept buying the Dunkin Donuts kind. I even went on Pinterest to find a “natural” creamer and even tried a few that involved using sweetened condensed milk and didn’t really like them. I use to go to a dear ladies house every Friday to write letters. Her name was Carol and she was always in high spirits to have me and several other girls over every Friday no matter her health (which was pretty bad) she passed away last year. I sure do miss her. She would always have coffee ready for us and all she had for cream was heavy cream. It got me to thinking, I can just use the cream and add sugar and cook it over a stove top until the sugar dissolves. It was so simple and it was exactly like the Dunkin Donuts Extra Extra. The only thing I’ve changed about it is I’ve cut the sugar in half. It starts to add up.

    Oh yeah, and if you have the cream from cows… It’s so much cheaper to make your own creamer rather than buying it from the store so that’s always a plus.

    Farm Fresh Creamer

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 gallon of fresh cream or heavy whipping cream from the store
    • 1 1/2 cups of sugar (or an alternative but I haven’t really tried anything else other than my homemade coffee syrups)

    **If you don’t like it too sweet, you can always decrease the amount of sugar

    You’ll need a medium size sauce pan

    Instructions:

    1. Take cream and sugar and put into sauce pan over low to medium heat (I put on 4 setting on my stove top)
    2. Stir every once in a while so that it doesn’t stick
    3. Cook 5 min or more until dissolved
    4. Let cool and put into old creamer container
    5. Shake before use

    Hope you like it! We do!

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    Here’s a pic of when they were little 🙂

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    Yes, I know our barn needs work! Here is my cow Maisy following after Jeremy leading her with her own calf