Growing/Butchering/Processing YOUR OWN Chickens

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 ūüôā

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

Homemade Creamer

jar-of-cream

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!

meandcalves

Here’s a pic of when they were little ūüôā

maisyncalf

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

Make Your Own: Homemade Wine

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I’m really not an avid wine drinker but I’d like to be. I’m convinced I just haven’t found one that I like. I’ve been to a few wine tastings. Here in Missouri there are surprisingly a lot of vineyards the most famous probably being St. James Winery which is the first place I did a wine tasting and decided that I’m probably a sweet wine kinda girl. When it comes to the drys I like cooking with it more than drinking it. Like I said previously, not an avid wine drinker but making your own… I could definitely become one! You get to kind of develop your own “taste.”

Making wine can be pretty cheap if you wild craft your berries or grow your own fruits. I haven’t made a strawberry wine yet but this year I plan too since my mother in law (aka Superwoman) usually has extra and last year I planted a strawberry bed so maybe I should have my own. I’m pretty excited since they are local to my climate here in the Ozarks. I purchased them from Simmons Plant Farm out of Arkansas. They ship them when it’s time to plant. The prices are great and everything I ordered and planted grew awesome, even asparagus which is hard to grow in my opinion. If I buy from a place like Lowes, the plants never seem to do good at all. Although this year, I’m planting my comfrey beside them in hopes that my fruit trees that I did buy from Lowes will perk up.

Back to story, I never wanted to really make wine or have an interest until I was watching The Legend of Mick Dodge and on an episode he goes throughout the forest to collect a gallons worth of wild berries to make “Forest Wine.” Which he collects then mashes the berries together, adds water and heats and adds yeast as well. He just puts into 1 wine bottle. I thought, if it’s really that simple I’ll do it.

In the town of Ozark, we have a place called Home Brewery¬†where they have anything and everything you would need to make wine, beer, mead, cheese, yogurt…. The list goes on. They sell EVERYTHING you need to become a home brewer. I highly recommend stopping by if you’re local to Ozark, MO or close by and even if you’re not you can order online. They are super helpful and no matter how many questions you ask…(I always ask A LOT!) They are a laid back bunch that want to help you as much as possible. They also give you a recipe to make a basic fruit wine. I haven’t moved past basic yet since I’ve only made 5 batches (Mulberry, Blackberry, Plum, Blackberry-Raspberry, Pear Apple) The best tasting was my last which I cracked open last night… WOW! Soooooo goood, which was the Blackberry-Raspberry.

When I went in trying to explain that I just wanted simplicity like Mick Dodge the guy tried to explain that yes, theoretically, it would be wine. If you watch the video, there doesn’t seem to be any sugar added and the guy (I think Todd from Ozark Brewery) said that for a good fermentation you need sugar (Without the addition of sugar… You might not havegreat alcohol contents, it would be classified as wine but only certain grapes, some pears, and cider apples to well without the addition of sugar) and after it is wine I can only imagine the amount of sediment it would have in the bottom and actually it would probably be half full with it. After it’s all said and done and Mick Dodge has “wine” it probably wouldn’t taste that great.

It’s actually easier to just be sure you did everything right and there’s no contaminants or wild yeasts going all crazy in your wine. If you watch the episode that I linked above, you’ll see the wine is a gooey mess. They explained if you want something clear that looks like wine, you’ll need to clarify it. You need to think about sanitation as well. I thought it would be expensive and it can be if you do the kits or whatever or buy juice but if you harvest your own fruits–that’s pretty inexpensive. So the only things you need are equipment and things like sugar, water, fruit/juice, pectin enzyme, yeast nutrient, acid blend, campden tablets, potassium sorbate, and your wine yeast. I definitely assumed that would be expensive but each one of those things is $2 each and the wine yeast is cheaper than that.

Brief Summary on what those things do:

Pectin Enzyme: Breaks down the cell walls, fiber or pulp of fruits to facilitate juicing and extraction of color and flavors.  Also helps prevent pectin haze.

Yeast Nutrient: Yeast Nutrient is a combination of DAP (diammonium phosphate) and food grade urea.  These provide yeast the vitamins and nutrients they need to thrive and encourages faster and more complete fermentation.

Acid Blend: Bumps the acidity up more for suitable wine making conditions

Campden Tablets: A convenient way to sterilize your must and accurately sulfite your homemade wine. (Kills wild yeasts)  Contains Potassium Metabisulfite, which acts as a sterilant and antioxidant when dissolved.

Potassium Sorbate: Stabilizer, used after fermentation but before bottling, that inhibits yeast reproduction.  Recommended to be used with Potassium Metabisulphite (Campden Tablets) to fully stabilize a wine before sweetening and bottling. Stabilizing prevents re-fermentation inside the bottled wine which can produce sparkling wine (at best) or worst case scenario Рpopped corks or exploding wine bottles.  Stabilizing is critical if you plan to sweeten your wine.

Wine Yeast: The role of yeast in wine making is the most important element that distinguishes wine from grape juice. In the absence of oxygen, yeast converts the sugars of wine grapes into alcohol and carbon dioxide through the process of fermentation. (The link above for wine yeast is the one they recommend for your basic fruit wines)

Equipment Needed

I will say: For equipment you do need to make a few investments but in the long run–it’s not that pricey. So a startup cost but you have a waiting period since things have to ferment. Buy what you need to start like your gallon jars with lid, air lock, stopper, and your straining bag if you do it that way and that’s it other than your ingredients.

Equipment wise I only do a gallon batch which is what this recipe is for. You’ll need:

2 gallon jars with lids: You need two because you’ll do a transfer after fermentation

Airlock: Down below is what an airlock looks like. (One kind anyway) Some people use balloons but the Home Brewery has these for… I think .95 cents but if you wanna go high dollar for $8 there’s a glass one

Drilled rubber stopper: for the airlock

fermentwine

This was using an old pickle jar that I cut a hole in for airlock but was unsure on if it was sealing properly so I added a little plastic around the top side

Wine bottles: You can buy these but I just ask people for their leftover bottles. People usually throw these away. Glass is reusable so I remove the stickers and sanitize before using.

Hydrometer: You can measure the alcohol content using these but I really don’t care too much about that. I do have one but hardly use it.

Rubber gloves: To get your sack of fruit out without contamination

Straining bag: To put your fruit in if you aren’t just using juice

AutoSiphon: You don’t necessarily need this but… When you are watching out for sanitation and using a tube to siphon yourself that might be of issue and these things are GREAT ($11)

Tubing: for the autosiphon which is cheap as well

Corks: I think you get around 30 for $5

Corker: Here’s a little video clip of me corking my Pear Apple Wine (Can run from $10-150, I just borrow from a friend I haven’t bought one yet)

You can get fancy and get labels but… I don’t. I usually just use a sharpie and write it on the bottle.

My Way

The easiest way that works for me… I pick my fruit and put it into a crock pot and let the juice work it’s way out of the fruit and then i strain and press with a sieve and get the most juice I can. The biggest thing about making wine is waiting. It feels great to know you made this. You took the time to pick the fruit/grow it and then you got the juice and you added everything together rather simply then waiting for the fermenting, then the clarifying and low and behold, it is wine. The sweetening is the best part. You get to taste and adjust… That’s the wonderful thing about making your own wine. I hope you experiment with this simple thing and reap the benefits. I love to do it. I like making it more than drinking it. Having¬†the satisfaction that I made it myself is exhilarating to me . I share it with friends and family… Anyway, let me know if you guys try it! Or have done it already!

FYI:

1 gallon batches make 5 bottles of wine. Most people that are really into wine making usually do a 5 gallon batch in one shot so if that interests you and you want to try to go cheap on that as well–go to a bakery (I go to Price Cutters) and ask if they have any white buckets, they are food grade. Most of the time they are frosting containers; the last 3 I got were. Point is, they are free and most likely are going in the trash anyway and they almost always have the lids with them. If they don’t have any (at least in my personal experience) they’ll hold some back for you and you can pick them up in a few days. So all you’ll need is to drill a hole in the top and add your stopper and airlock.

wine

Basic Wine Recipe

Basic wine recipe (NOTE: This recipe is for a ONE GALLON VOLUME OF WINE made from fruit OTHER THAN GRAPES. Fully ripe grapes do not need the addition of 2 lbs of sugar per gallon. Take a hydrometer reading to tell how much extra sugar you might require when making wine with grapes.)

Mix together these items:

2-4 lbs of fruit juice/concentrate/puree, or whatever source of fruit you are using. (If you are using pureed or chopped fresh fruit, place the fruit or puree into a straining bag, tie a knot in the bag, and drop it into the fermenter.)

2 lb of sugar

Pectic Enzyme per our label instructions

Yeast Nutrient per our label instructions

Acid Blend or Tartaric Acid (¬ľ teaspoon to start, as you can add more later)

Water in whatever amount to reach the appropriate volume for the batch size you are making Any other ingredients called for in your specific recipe

Stir well to dissolve.

Crack or crush one Campden Tablet and add to the above mixture. Attach the fermenter lid and airlock. 24 hours later, remove the fermenter lid and add the yeast. Reattach lid and airlock and allow the wine to ferment.

If you have the fruit in a straining bag, after about ten days, sanitize rubber gloves or your hands and remove the bag of fruit pulp. Squeeze as much juice as you can from the bag, then top up the fermenter with water to the original volume (to account for the volume of fruit pulp you have just removed). If you have used fruit juice, you can bypass this step. Reattach the lid and airlock and allow the fermentation to complete.

Once the wine is finished fermenting, siphon it into a secondary container and allow it to clarify. When the wine is clarified, add 1 more Campden Tablet and Potassium Sorbate per our label instructions. Let the wine sit for a few days. You might need to use one of the chemical clarifiers to speed up the clarifying process, or the wine might clarify on its own. Every wine is different.

Sweetening finished wine (This step is totally optional, but the basic process is as follows): After the wine is clarified and stabilized, rack it into another carboy to get it off the sediment from the clarification and stabilization process. Thief out a 1 cup sample and add granulated sugar 1/8 teaspoon at a time, stirring to dissolve it, and taste until the desired level of sweetness is reached. Then multiply the amount of sugar used in the sample by the number of sample volumes in the total (there are 16 cups in 1 gallon, for example). Using the sugar amount arrived at by the multiplication, add ¬Ĺ teaspoon of acid blend (or tartaric acid, or whatever granular acid you are using) and bring this mixture to a boil in 1 to 2 cups of water. Cover it and allow it to cool. Pour it into the carboy with the wine, stirring gently. (If you have a really full carboy, you will want to siphon out a volume of wine equal to the volume of the sugar solution you are adding.) Let the wine sit for a few days to one week to make sure it does not restart fermentation after adding the sugar solution. If it is still clear and has not started re fermenting, it is ready to bottle.

NOTE: You can also adjust the acidity of the wine at the same time you adjust the sugar level. If the wine is sort of bland, that means it needs more acid. Add acid blend (or whatever acid you are using) 1/8 teaspoon at a time to the same sample you are adjusting for sugar level, and do the same multiplication up for the total volume that you use to adjust the sugar level.

Here’s the recipe from their website which is the exact same as the recipe you just read.

Dandelion: Not just a weed folks!

dandelion-1684456_1920

Most people see Dandelion flowers and completely lose it. It’s annoying and in their yard, EVERYTHING must be immaculate, no dandelions aloud!!! Uh… Obviously, this isn’t me and I’ve never been the “immaculate” yard keeper anyhow… I live on a farm/homestead. I do keep our actual yard and the adjoining yards that lead to the barn mowed down because if we don’t… Snakes show up. I can handle the black snakes, they have a purpose but not the ones of poisonous persuasion. There again, once black snakes start eating duck eggs or anything… They are on my list. Before Jeremy does that first cut though, I saw “WAIT!” I try and collect the dandelions for different odd and end things which I’ll post about some other time!

My experience with Dandelion in my life thus far is as a kid. Every kid and their brother/sister/cousin/etc picks a dandelion and blows the seeds across the yard. It’s like a right of passage into childhood. I’ve always had a curiosity about plants even as a teen before I even knew I was actually interested in this stuff. If it’s a weed, what was the point Jehovah?¬†(FYI: Jehovah is God’s personal name check out Psalm 83:18, look it up! Jw.org is a good resource!!)

I think most things have a purpose even if our society today doesn’t see much use in them, the example being dandelion for this post.

So earlier this November I was trying to get my ducks and chickens to do a little digging in my garden so I put out some feed. While doing this, I saw a huge dandelion plant. Looking around, there were actually quite a few; I already had the potato fork so I dug them up. They came out pretty easily because it had rained the day before so the soil was manageable.

I actually had hopes that I would have time to make Dandelion Coffee (So I’ll do a separate post sometime about that) but I never got the time so I looked up what else the roots were good for. Usually when I’m curious about a particular plant I go to The Herbal Resource.

Dandelion Tincture

  1. Wash your roots then chop up into smaller pieces
  2. Put dandelion root in a jar and cover with 100 vodka. Make sure you at least cover with an inch of vodka above the dandelion roots.
  3. Cover tightly and allow to steep for 6 weeks, shaking daily.
  4. Strain out the root using a cheesecloth and put in a dark amber dropper bottle (Or blue one) You can compost the strained roots
  5. For optimum health, take a few drops daily in juice or water.

Benefits of Dandelion

Natural diuretic, lowers blood pressure, reduces blood sugar, stimulates the liver, rich in vitamins C, K, B2, A, Lowers bad cholesterol, kidney cleanse, fights anemia, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, mood enhancer

Nourishes liver against free radicals to counteract acetaminophen liver toxicity, mild appetite stimulant, destroys acid in blood, blood builder & purifier, detoxifies poison & toxic waste in body, stimulate bile production, helps with fluid retention, discourages growth of harmful bacteria, helps flush foreign particles from gallbladder

**Though I want to be helpful to you with information; do you own research so you always have a better idea about things as well!!

 

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information from Blue Missouri Skies Homestead is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease or be taken as medical advice.


Sources

http://deeprootsathome.com/homemade-dandelion-tincture/#comment-42969

http://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/dandelion-root.html

http://www.naturallivingideas.com/harvest-use-dandelion-roots/

Morning Rituals: Roast Your Own Coffee

 

 

 

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Imagine this: Your alarm clock is going off and you stumble around mid dream to the realization that that is in fact, your alarm going off. DANG IT! Then you hit the snooze! A few times… When you finally get yourself up, you’re groggy and need coffee immediately. UNLESS! You’re a morning person and if that’s the case then BUG OFF! ūüėČ

Yet we partake of the magic elixir known as coffee. I’ve swore I’m going to quit it over and over because I don’t like that it CONTROLS MY LIFE! and I do quit for a bout a month or more then I can’t take it anymore and I go right back to it. So to embrace my addiction hehe, I thought I’d talk a little about my history with coffee and tell you guys how to roast your own coffee beans.

My history with coffee

 

My first interaction with coffee was always being curious as a little girl wondering why my dad always ordered it at the Apple Tree (Which no longer exists in the little town on Sparta, it was replaced by a Chinese buffet). You know the little cups creamer comes in? Well, one time when my dad ordered coffee I expressed an interest and he made me a “mini” cup with the creamer cup and I tried it and liked it but that’s about as far as it went.

My next interaction was with my sister Tammy. I don’t support cigarette smoking whatsoever but I remember her saying, “If I have a cup of coffee and a cigarette in the morning, it’ll be a good day.” (She passed away in 2007, I sure do miss her!!) I never shared her love for coffee at that point but I was in my teens I didn’t need the extra energy. My love for coffee probably came from Jeremy (the hubs) because it was special to go in the morning to have coffee at Starbucks and chat.

In the process though… He created a monster. It started with a simple little vanilla latte, then to caramel fraps, then the specialty ones that are only seasonal (hate that btw!) My weakness was caramel brulee latte. LOVED IT but it was starting to get rather costly so as you know from a previous post, we invested in an espresso machine. Then, I would buy the starbucks syrup off of Ebay when it was out of “season.” Still expensive compared to making your own Syrups!

I go through phases. Sometimes I just want regular old coffee. Other times, I like my lattes. Still yet other times when I’m just in a hurry and don’t want to spend a lot of time, I like to brew an espresso shot by itself. Right now I’m kind of in the regular ole coffee stage but I’m getting to where I can’t stand Folgers anymore. Maybe it’s because since Jeremy’s coffee pot finally gave out he started using my percolator. The only way I used my percolator was the pot itself. I’d heat up water in my kettle and pour it over the grounds. I really liked it that way but now he has taken it over as his “Coffee Maker.” It reminds him of his grandma and grandpa because that’s how they always made their coffee but to me… It just taste burnt.

My newest coffee experience is that I have been ordering green coffee beans on Amazon and roasting them myself. I didn’t think it was that much of a difference but when I went to Starbucks the other day as a treat to myself–I got a White Mocha Latte–I was sorely disappointed! It tasted burnt, just over done. The latest coffee shop experience I had before that was at Dunkin Donuts. Then I tried Jeremy’s Folgers… Eck. Then I made my home roasted… DELICIOUS! Very mild. I LOVE IT!

So I guess I’ll tell you another way how I’ve ruined my life with coffee taking control yet again: roasting your own coffee beans.

Choose Your Poison

You need to find some green coffee beans. I just went to Amazon and looked around. The company I ended up using was Heirloom Coffee, LLC¬†The first type I got was Costa Rica Dota Estate (Nectar) here’s the product info,

“We seldom get ‚Äúnectar‚ÄĚ coffee in the USA because it is such a limited picking. What makes ‚Äúnectar‚ÄĚ coffee? It is the first picking of the harvest, right after the rainy season, with the highest sugar content (sap/nectar) in the bean before the dry season really sets in. Farmers often give this micro-harvest special treatment, as in this case when the producer adjusted the washing methods to minimal water, to preserve some of the pulp to enrich the beans during sun drying.

The extraordinary nature of this first harvest starts from an incredibly select picking of ripest beans only, through special drying processes, resulting in a coffee so superb it is almost in a different class from anything else produced in the region that season. Move over Geisha, Dota Estate Nectar Coffee is in town!

When we talk about ‚Äúsugar‚ÄĚ in coffee, it is not to say that the coffee tastes like it has been sweetened, but rather that the character of the coffee is so smooth and free of bitterness due to the ‚Äúnectar’ present in the bean during processing that the coffee is perfect for drinking black if desired. In Costa Rica, the tradition is to serve coffee with warm milk and sugar, but in the case of the nectar coffee, it is often consumed without any added sugar, because the brew already has a strong honey taste and tone to it. The amount of ‚Äúhoney‚ÄĚ in the taste is adjusted by the roast level. You will enjoy trying this coffee at dark and medium roasts to compare the difference, it is amazing how different the profiles are.

We have a limited supply of rare nectar coffee, and when it is gone it will be unavailable until next season.

As with the main harvest, this coffee is safe & sustainably grown with virtually zero environmental impact, at altitude of 2000 m (~6000 feet), in Dota canton, Tarrazu.” [1]

My second pick was Nicaragua Matagalpa Catimor Arabica which I like even more. You can look up the info by clicking the link.

Choose Your Roasting Method

There are a couple of options. Depends what you have available to you and if you willing to purchase something to work for you. Originally I wanted to use a heat gun because I knew there was one abandoned on the homestead but it was broken– as I soon found out– so I ended up buying a popcorn air popper. (By the way, you’ll need to get one that blows hot air in from the sides and not upwards–not that I know that from experience or anything…)

  • Stove top/frying pan method
  • Oven roasting method
  • Heat air gun method
  • popcorn air popper method
  • air roaster

There are you options but I’m only covering one and not too in depth. If you want more in depth, I learned from Sweet Marias. They go in depth and tell you different ways to roast your beans.

How to Roast Coffee Beans

It’s actually fairly simple and doesn’t need too much explanation but here you go anyway:

  1. Make sure there aren’t any rocks or debris in with you coffee beans. Depending on where you got them from… My place comes straight from the farm so sort it like you would regular beans.
  2. Add coffee beans to your air popper (I use a nostalgia, I got it from Bed Bath and Beyond for around $20) and don’t over do it. When you turn the machine on, they should spin. If they aren’t, you over filled it. Best way to know, measure your amount once you get it right the first time and just remember that’s what fits into your machine. (I should also tell you, you need to have a container to catch the chaff that’s going to shed off the beans)
  3. What you’re looking for as far as the roasting goes is “cracking” noises but since the popper is loud, you’ll have to pay attention. For me, most of the time I let it run a bit and just turn off to check the color but be careful because it will burn if you let them sit for too long. When I notice it is starting to brown I turn it off and listen for the crack. First crack (Blonde roast aka light roast) will be light sounds whereas Second Crack (medium roast) is a bit more volatile. You can go past that which leads to the darker roasts. If you go past that… I wouldn’t it. It will end up like the first batch I did…. Charcoal roast ūüėČ
  4. Once you reach your roast preference, pour beans into colander or something similar to cool them. They them cool 4-8 hours.
  5. Grind up and enjoy!

Video of my air popper

Extra Info

As far as knowing your roasts and first and second crack here’s how to know from Sweet Marias:

“- Yellowing: For the first few minutes the bean remains greenish, then turn lighter yellowish and emit a grassy smell.

– Steam: The beans start to steam as their internal water content dissipates.

– First Crack: The steam becomes fragrant. Soon you will hear the first crack, an audible cracking sound as the real roasting starts to occur: sugars begin to caramelize, bound-up water escapes, the structure of the bean breaks down and oils migrate from their little pockets outward.

– First Roasted Stage: After the first crack, the roast can be considered complete any time according to your taste. The cracking is an audible cue, and, along with sight and smell, tells you what stage the roast is at. This is what is called a City roast.

– Caramelization: Caramelization continues, oils migrate, and the bean expands in size as the roast becomes dark. As the roast progresses, this is a City + roast. Most of our roast recommendations stop at this point. When you are on the verge of second crack, that is a Full City roast.

– Second Crack: At this point a second crack can be heard, often more volatile than the first. The roast character starts to eclipse the origin character of the beans at this point and is also known as a Vienna roast. A few pops into second crack is a Full City + roast. Roasting all the way through second crack may result in small pieces of bean being blown away like shrapnel!

– Darkening Roast: As the roast becomes very dark, the smoke is more pungent as sugars burn completely, and the bean structure breaks down more and more. As the end of second crack approaches you will achieve a French roast.

– Ack!! Too Late!: Eventually, the sugars burn completely, and the roast will only result in a thin-bodied cup of “charcoal water.” [2]

Ending Thoughts

My experience with roasting your own is that coffee is no longer bitter and you want regular creamer, not the flavored kind. You want to taste the coffee and it’s unique undertones. It’s completely different and a real treat. The cool thing is, you get to try different kinds. I especially like the place I order from because they seem to-most of the time-focus on small farmers and to help them gain business. It’s pretty neat to be a part of and to try new things is always nice as well. Hopefully this will cause that little curious part of you to leap out and make you want to try this! ENJOY!


Cited Sources

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Costa-Estate-Unroasted-Coffee-Nectar/dp/B00KTLLC8E/ref=sr_1_5_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1484241382&sr=8-5&keywords=heirloom%2Bcoffee%2Bllc&th=1

[2] https://www.sweetmarias.com/instructions

Elderberry Tincture

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Soon to be Elderberry Tincture!

I figure it’s time for this blog to have some home remedies on it and it’s definitely the season to be using Elderberry Tinctures and syrups.

Recently, I had to resign from a job. For one, it was a part time job (I liked that part because I could still get my butter making done and soaps and whatever else the homestead required) and didn’t amount to a lot of hours whatsoever but I enjoyed the freedom and since I was a Cater Assistant, I got to bake which I really liked. Then they cut catering and got rid of the Caterer as well which REALLY cut my hours since there was really no need for me except to serve a business group (BNI) three times a week. Getting to the point, I recently turned in my resignation since I wasn’t getting enough hours.

Now I’m at a new job and with the weather getting colder, we had some snow fall the day before… It’s bringing in the colds in full force. I will say my husband and I are doing pretty good with our immune boosting supplements. We take them every day (most of the time) and we haven’t got sick even though all the employees here have gotten sick. My daily routine (When I actually stick with it!) is oregano oil, apple cider vinegar, raw honey, and Echinacea tincture (Not every day unless I feel like I’m getting sick). Now that my Elderberry Tincture is done, I might throw that in as well since I’m really not a fan of the Elderberry syrup as much. (Too sweet)

I actually made up echinacea tincture for one guy and was bringing him the Elderberry when there was another guy sick!! Yikes! So I just gave it to him instead. Hopefully he uses it and it helps. So I figured I’d tell you how to make your own. It’s a very simple process and not hard to whatsoever. Elderberry has quite the benefits!

Ingredients

  • Fresh or dried elderberries
  • Vodka

How to Make Elderberry Tincture

  1. I think most people might use a one pint mason jar but at the time I didn’t really have that many elderberries so I used a half pint jar, fill it up a fourth with dried elderberries (or 1/2 full with fresh)
  2. Cover with vodka, fill jar to within 1 inch of top
  3. Put lid on tightly (You’ll be shaking daily so you don’t want it to slosh out)
  4. Put in cool dark place and shake daily or at least every other day for 4-6 weeks
  5. Strain berries and put into dark amber bottles (or the blue ones) with the dropper lids

To Use

If you are currently sick or feel it coming on, use 3-4 drops under your tongue (sublingual) 3x a day. Just for daily maintenance use a drop a day. Under the tongue is a small amount that tends to work faster.

If it bothers you to do it under the tongue, just add 1/2 a dropperful to a dropperful in orange juice or whatever you prefer.

Hopefully you can make your own and keep your immunity up!!

 

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information from Blue Missouri Skies Homestead is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease or be taken as medical advice.

Sore Throat Remedy

As you probably know, I’m not really a fan of doctors. As much a possible, I try and do what I can for myself with herbal remedies or whatever and save the doctor as a last resort. They serve their purpose for some things but a cold or sore throat… I feel like I have a handle on that. So, I’m just going to put a little bit of information on each ingredient so you’ll know how they are all helpful.

There are several different versions of this but I think the biggest thing is cayenne and apple cider vinegar. I use ACV for many remedies, it can be a problem solver and is very good for you. Here is the¬†link¬†to what I’m going to go over.

  • Apple cider vinegar balances the pH levels of your throat‚Äôs tissues, making them more alkaline or more acidic according to your body‚Äôs needs. It also kills the bacteria that cause sore throats.
  • It is also a natural expectorant, which means it loosens and thins the phlegm in your throat, making it easier to breath and swallow.
  • It‚Äôs bacterial properties enable it to fight the infection that causes sore throats.
  • It contains prebiotic inulin, which supports your immune system and boosts white blood cell and T-cell counts.

Cayenne¬†contains a powerful ingredient called capsaicin. This compound is an effective anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent. When you take cayenne to treat your sore throat, you’ll experience relief as far as reduced swelling but also healing as it eliminates infection.

Honey

  • Honey acts as a anti-inflammatory agent and reduces swelling and inflammation.
  • It soothes irritated skin, glands, and mucus membranes inside the throat.
  • It contains an enzyme called glucoseoxidase, which fights bacteria and kills infections.
  • Honey has natural anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties that kill those bacteria and gives complete relief from sore throat.
  • Honey acts as a hypertonic osmotic, helping to draw excess fluid out of inflamed tissues and relieve pain.

Lemon Juice

  • Lemon contains (citrus acid) which helps to break up the mucus that causes sore throat and also helps to soothe your throat from the pain and inflammation.
  • Lemon is rich in vitamin C and anti-oxidants which helps to boost your immune system.
  • Lemon is a natural antiseptic which helps to kill the bacteria or viruses in the throat.
  • Lemons are rich in several essential vitamins and nutrients.
  • Lemon juice increases salivation and helps to moisten or lubricate an irritated throat.

Turmeric

Turmeric is an anti-biotic. It kills the bacteria or virus which causes sore throat

I think that pretty much covers the information side. Here is the recipe:

Sore Throat Remedy

  • 2 tbs raw honey
  • 3 tbs apple cider vinegar (Braggs is the best in my opinion)
  • 1 fresh lemon squeezed for juice
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 turmeric powder

Instructions:

Mix everything together and gargle a little for about 30 seconds then spit out. The cayenne will burn at first but you can get past it, it is way better than the alternative. Do this every couple hours and usually by the end of the day or the next day, the sore throat is gone. I’ve also seen other blogs for this kind of recipe that they claim kills strep throat but I can’t be sure because I haven’t had it and used this remedy.

Hope this works for you, it worked for me but know this– I’m not a doctor– know your limits. If you need to go to the doctor just go!

Butter Makin’

 

I think I need to explain myself a little bit. Back in 2010 I met my husband-to-be, briefly, and didn’t have a second thought. He wasn’t my type and I remembered him from school but we are 6 years apart so I didn’t remember much. Long story short, we became friends on Facebook and one day I was shamelessly bragging about my guitar skills while singing Free Fallin’ and all that and then some. Jeremy called me out on it to prove it and my egotistical self couldn’t say no so we had dinner and I played some music and we were really good friends for a bit then it moved to we were a couple. He lived on a big farm and was taking care of it for his family and after I moved in, we got married (Yes, I know we did things a little backwards but we’re all good now).

My point is, I thought I was country. I lived in the country most of my life but I definitely didn’t live country. Especially when Jeremy needed help with using a tractor to lift or move something while he guided on the ground, I had to work the hydraulics… I always fought change so afterward I took off and said, “I don’t want to be a country girl anymore.” I know, childish but change freaked me out. Now I’m more seasoned and I look for opportunities to try new things so I’ve made a lot of progress but I do remember a time before when I was new to all of this. Which brings me to making butter.

You don’t know what you’re missing if you haven’t had farm fresh butter. Jeremy’s aunt Sandy had a milk cow. She was only a Dexter which means she wasn’t really bred for milking but she was a dual purpose breed. So I went over to her house to learn how to make mozzarella cheese and she mentioned making butter so I asked if we could do that also and she said yes. I will say, we cheat. We don’t get a churn out and start pumping away, she pulled out her blender and put the fresh cream in and just turned it on. It took a while like say… 10 to 15 minutes but in my experience some creams are different. Millie’s (the Dexter cow) cream is pretty thin. It needs to be ice cold. My Jersey cows (Daisy and Maisy) are a whole different story. Their cream is thick as heck and does better at room temperature. Back to Sandy, after it was done I tried some and… IT WAS AMAZING!!! She let me take it home and it didn’t last 3 days. ¬†Either way, I’ll tell you how the process works and what you’ll need. After you make your own, you’ll feel really accomplished and fulfilled because you made a house staple on your own. (At least that’s how I felt!)

What You’ll Need:

  • Blender or Food processor
  • strainer/colander with bowl
  • Bowl with icy water
  • Salt
  • Fresh¬†Cream (or heavy whipping cream from the store)

What You’ve Gotta Do:

  1. Put cream into food processor to the fill line and turn on. It will take a few minutes unless it’s not very thick cream then it will take a bit longer. You’ll notice a difference in sound because it will thicken up into whipped cream and then right past that stage is butter. Let it go long enough that it’s a bright yellow.
  2. Colander needs to be over a bowl, strain butter. The milk left over is “Buttermilk” but unless you leave it on the counter for 12 hours, it doesn’t have a culture in it so it won’t have a buttermilk taste.
  3. Depending on your situation or what works best you need to clean your butter of milk so it won’t sour. The easiest way for me is to turn the cold water on in the sink and push my thumbs into the butter to squeeze out the milk and “Clean” it. Another way is get a bowl with cold water and knead the butter. You’ll have to change the water several times. When it’s milky, change it. When it stops getting milky then it’s clean.
  4. I usually do a 1-2 gallons of a cream at a time but after step 3 i put the ball of butter in cold water to sit while I do the rest. (I do have an actual Gem Dandy butter churn but I figure most people don’t so food processor it is)
  5. Once you’ve got the cream made into butter, I usually take and squeeze out the water if there is any from it either with my hands or a spoon. Then add your salt. I prefer Pink Himalayan Sea Salt just add a little and taste to see if that’s what you like. Since I have a lot usually I weigh it out into 1/4 lbs. which is a stick sized amount and freeze it for later use.

Food processor churning the cream

 

Starting to thicken

 

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This is the separation and color you are looking for

 

Strain it

 

This is the¬†butter balls in water. They’ve already been cleaned under running water under facet while kneading the milk until clean.

 

 

The finished product! Now add your salt and stir it in then put into containers. Keep in fridge for week or so OR freeze them for a later time (I freeze them, they keep VERY well)

 

DIY Coffee Syrups

 

Okay, time for confessions here; and how many times have you scrolled through blogs where they’ve talked about loving Starbucks coffee but the price was starting to add up? I haven’t wrote about it until now but, when I worked the 40 hour work week (which I left for a part time job and the homestead) I wanted one everyday but only succumbed to one every Friday as a treat but that starts to add up.

Doing the math, let’s say you get 1 Starbucks Grande which runs $5. There are 52 weeks in a year so… that’s $260… That’s a lot of money for coffee. Not to mention I had to really cram my morning to actually get to the place and not be late for work. Also, there was no guarantee that I wouldn’t be late for work since there’s no telling how many people you’ll be waiting in line behind. I loved my Starbucks and it was hard to give it up but when Jeremy mentioned that maybe an investment would be better, that’s when my mind always clicks different. If we make an investment on something, it’s going to last longer and do more good.

So I started researching espresso makers, which is the best, customer reviews–the whole nine yards. Now the best is expensive so I had to meet in the middle. Not the 30-40 dollar ones because I had those and they didn’t do very well. Obviously not the ones similar to Starbucks…. WAY EXPENSIVE!! (Wish I had one though) The best option for me was a Cuisinart that ran around $150. Also though, you need a grinder as well. I had a little $15 one but I was starting to use that for spices so we got a grinder as well on our trip to Bed, Bath, and Beyond (which I LOVE by the way, always just fun to go and stock up on a few things, haha i said few). The coffee grinder was also a Cuisinart (automatic burr mill) and ran us $50.¬†

That totals us up to $200. That’s less than what a year’s worth of coffee was. I’m not totaling in the coffee prices of course but… I think you’re better off making your own and the smell of espresso in your house is just a bonus!

 

 
Picture

 
For a year or so I would go on ebay and buy expired Creme Brulee Starbucks syrup but even though it’s expired it’s PRICEY! Now that I work part time, I don’t feel like I should spend that kind of money. So I glanced through a few websites that made their own coffee syrups and it’s not expensive at all and also, you just use basic pantry staples. Sugar, water, and vanilla. For the most part I didn’t really follow much of a recipe, I just winged it. All I needed to know was the ingredients. I did two different ones: caramel and vanilla bean. My favorite is the vanilla bean. So here’s how I did it:

Vanilla Bean Coffee Syrup

ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 vanilla beans

instructions:

  1. Put sugar and water in sauce pan over medium heat
  2. Slice the vanilla beans in half and throw in as well
  3. Bring to a boil and let that go for 3-5 minutes until it thickens slightly
  4. Turn off burner and add vanilla extract
  5. Let cool and add to your container. If it’s a mason jar which is designed for heat you can go ahead and put it in the jar. That’s it!!

Picture

 
 

 
Caramel Coffee Syrup

ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water, separated
  • 1 TBS Salt, optional

instructions:

  1. Put sugar and 1 cup water in sauce pan and set heat to medium
  2. Stir to help sugar dissolve until it starts to boil then don’t stir anymore
  3. Let reduce down until it turns an amber color (This takes around 10 minutes), take away from heat
  4. Take the other cup of water and add to it (but be careful because the steam rising from this can burn you, I learned the hard way) it will clump up like candy so put back over heat and stir. At this point you can add salt to make it salted caramel if you so desire. Stir until completely dissolved. YOUR DONE! Put into heat safe container or wait for it to cool down.