Sunday, June 24, 2012


The hanging basket our wonderful neighbors brought over for my birthday.
Where to begin ... well it was a busy week ... I actually had to go into the office for two days and work this week (thank goodness my mom was on vacation this week to watch the little man). We also made the decision that I am going to work 2 days a week from now on in the office until we get someone trained to handle the front desk. Little man will be starting daycare (preschool) next week on those two days each week, which he will enjoy ... its just a lot of driving for us!

The items needed for homemade laundry soap.
Even being busy at work,  I was busy again in the kitchen.  I made four loaves of homemade white bread (2 on Tuesday and 2 on Saturday - we were out!), brownies, and homemade laundry soap (for the first time).  I choose to make a powdered laundry soap after reading a lot of pros and cons online about both.  My thought process was that it didn't take very long to make the powdered kind so that if I wasn't happy with the results at least I wasn't out a lot of my time.  We have done about a half dozen loads of laundry with it and it seems to be working pretty well.  I will try to keep you all posted on my thoughts about our laundry soap!

The rooster heading to a new home
We managed to get rid of our extra rooster this week also.  He will be going to a home (here in Gaston) where he will get to be over a flock of 10 to 12 ladies and have 4 acres to free-range on (sounds like a good life to me!)  As far as the rest of our flock goes ... not much else has changed, but I'm going to add some pictures that I've taken this week.  We are anxiously awaiting for August to arrive so that we start getting eggs from our little ladies.

A Cuckoo Marans hen
One of the Black Copper Marans Roosters that we are keeping ... now he needs a name.

Outside their coop ... using the day use only area.

This one is becoming one of my favorites
The "Easter Eggers" seem to like having their pictures taken more than the other birds ... or they are my favorite and that's why we end up with more pictures of them!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bartering and Canning

One of the Easter Eggers enjoying the fresh grass.
So this week I managed to barter some more mint (however, we are not sure if its peppermint or spearmint - so a little research is needed) and the only thing it cost me was to let our friend, Jen, take pictures of our chickens (I think I got the better end of that deal!)  You should check out Jen's blog over at  We also managed to trade one of our roosters for a flat of strawberries!  Can't beat that ... our neighbor (down the road) had extra strawberries and we definitely had an extra rooster.  A flat of strawberries is a lot when you already have jam and jelly canned ... but we managed to give 2 pints to the neighbors, used 5 pints to make strawberry lemonade concentrate, my hubby probably ate a pint or two, and I am freezing the rest to use later this month (I wasn't really ready for strawberries this week).  I know that we will have to make a shortcake (maybe next week) but with the warm weather this weekend I decided just to get the berries froze so they wouldn't go to waste.

It was a busy week in the kitchen. As far as baking went I made 2 loaves of Honey Oatmeal Bread (from scratch not with a bread machine) and Cupcakes. I also put Jen's mint down to make an extract and also started a cinnamon extract. Canning was also a project for the week, I put up apple-mint jelly (I'm pretty sure this was an epic fail ... Todd yelled at me to come help him catch the dog before she ate the chicken that was loose while I was in the process of boiling it.) and strawberry lemonade concentrate (was suppose to be just lemonade concentrate but with our flat of strawberries it changed).

Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate Canned
Cooking the Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate

My husband and I also watched the documentary "FRESH" ... it was an eye opening experience.  I am not naive, and I knew that production animals (cows, hogs, chickens) were not kept in very good conditions while they were being raised and were being fed horrible food ... however, after watching this I got a view on just how bad it is!  I don't want to give anyone reading this the wrong impression ... we are not "environmentalist", however, as a parent I think its important that I make good choices on what my child is consuming.  After watching this I feel that my husband is also more on board with buying local and knowing where (and what conditions) the food we are consuming is coming from.  I feel with my husband more on board it is going to also be easier to cut out (gradually) the processed foods that we are consuming.

"Day-Use Only" Area that we set up this week.
We also did some changes and added a "day-use only" area to our chicken coop ... it basically is a 3 foot fence that is movable so they get the free-range value, however, they won't be in my flowers or end up at our neighbors (they are pretty close even though we are in the country!).  They are pretty close to the house so hopefully any daytime predators will stay away ... once again country living.

The chickens getting to use their new area.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Whats Your Favorite Flavor?

This week has been full of experimentation, and I think it was positive!  I have decided to make my own homemade extracts.  I currently have vanilla, lemon, and mint extract in the aging process.  After doing some additional research I am excited to get some additional flavors going.  I am looking at trying to make the following extracts:  chocolate, coconut, orange, coffee, hazelnut, and cinnamon.  I also think that I have came up with some simple little labels for my bottles.

Homemade Extracts
Now on to the birds ... here is our latest pictures of our Black Copper Marans. In the first picture you can see the difference between the cockerel (right) and the pullet (left). In the second, one of our ladies taking a break.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Fun on the Farm

This week has been a rough one on the "farm".  We were away for the long weekend and came home to one of our cockerels having a major eye problem (yucky!) and very lethargic.  I think our bigger cockerels attacked him while we were gone.  So, after much observing and debating the decision was made to not let him suffer any longer.  So, this marks our first "loss" ... which made for a very sad little boy.

On a happier note, this week also brought a birthday (my son's 4th).  We had a wonderful tractor themed party here on the "farm" Saturday with lots of friends and family.

We also did some trading this week ... I managed to trade eggs for fresh apple-mint (It was great in hot apple cider and I plan on using the rest to make and can apple-mint jelly for use later this summer/fall) and fresh cilantro (we are making Lemon and Cilantro Shrimp for dinner tonight!)

Another change on the farm this week was that we posted two of our cockerels up for sale (I just don't need 4 of them here). Hopefully they will sell fast and we can use the extra money to buy more feed. Hope everyone had a great week ... this is our update from the farm!