Sunday, August 5, 2012

Farwell Girls

Farewell my lovely laying hens. I am so sorry that we were not here to protect you from that pack of dogs.

On Thursday we were away from home and got a call from my Dad that a pack of very aggressive dogs had torn through the fencing on my chicken yard and killed 3 of my hens and maimed the other 2 to the point that they had to be put down. I was heart broken, the girls had gotten to the point that they would come when I whistled and 3 of them would eat from my hand.

Fortunately the dogs had not gotten into the 16 week olds coop so BW came home and re-enforced that pen. On Friday the dogs came back and were thinking about getting into the babies coop. Fortunately we were home at the time and they ran away. If we had a touch more time we would have eliminated the problem as harsh as that might sound. When they came back they were very aggressive to BW who is not a small guy.

We are working on a new coop and pen as we speak with a tougher wire that hopefully nothing can get through. this is getting old. Just since May I have lost 8 layers due to a brown bear attack and dog attacks.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Egg Hunting or the down side of Free Range Hens

Most people only get to have an egg hunting once a year at Easter. Not me, I get to have one every day now that the girls are out and about all day. They seem to think that since they are out they don't need to lay their eggs in the coop anymore. Lets go looking for eggs.
Nope, not in there. That would have been to easy.
Come back later mom!!!
Nope not there
Hah, found one!
Jackpot, three more not I am only missing one. Where could it be? Maybe to early in the day?

Found it Mom!!!
Really, right in the middle of the yard!!!!
No one is fessing up to be the one that just lays anywhere. They swear they are all GOOD girls and go off to lay in private.

Oh, Well I am 5 for 5. It is a good day.

Homestead Barn Hop #70

Quinoa Swish Chard Skillet Recipe

I went out to my garden box yesterday and realized that my swish thought it was going to bolt. I cut of each of the stalks real low. Hopefully they will grow back. Then I was left with what to do with the chard. It was not enough to actually both with blanching and putting up so I set to thinking up a recipe that was good and skiffbaby would eat.

I headed for the pantry, I knew there was Quinoa in there and that sounded good also.

I made the Quinoa according to the directions except I increased the amount x2. So instead of using a half cup of uncooked quinoa I used a full cup and 2 cups water.

While that was cooking, I put the cut up chard in a smaller skillet with a touch of olive oil, about a 1/2 cup of white wine, 1 Tbs of sesame oil, 3 Tbs of Bragg's liquid amino's, and 1 Tbs of chicken bouillon.

Then I covered the smaller skillet and let that wilt. Once it was done I I moved the quinoa out of the large skillet and added about 1 Tbs of butter,  1 Tbs of olive oils, 3 more Tbs of chicken bouillon and a 1/2 cup milk to the pan. Then I moved the chard mixture into skillet with all its cooking juices and added the quinoa back in. I cooked these together just long enough to the milk to cook into the quinoa and not have any standing in the pan.

The final picture does not really look that great but I promise you it is SO good.

NOTE: All of these measurements are approximate. I am really bad about measuring things when I cook so feel free to adjust to what you think is needed.
BW says I cook by feel and there are no hard and fast rules. It drives him crazy when I am trying to tell him how to duplicate a recipe.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Drying Rhubarb

I am on a drying kick so after last weeks post on Drying Kale I decided to try drying rhubarb. I have read in different places that it should rehydrate fine and we can use it to make pies or sauces.

This was taken after I had harvested my rhubarb for drying. I was going to try to take a picture before hand but it ended up being an emergency harvest because my CHICKENS were eating the leaves down to NOTHING. Sorry I was very annoyed. Anyway I went ahead and harvested it then rigged a temporary cover for some of seine web and a couple spruce poles. I am sure when BW gets home he will laugh at it but it was what I had on hand. Then I cleaned each stalk and cut into pieces.

Then I laid the pieces out on my Excalibur dehydrator racks
Then I turn the dehydrator on to 135 degrees or the fruits and leathers setting and let is start drying.
It is a REALLY long time. It took 2 days to get it nice and dry. Granted the weather here unlike much of the rest of the US has been very wet and cold. but when it came out it looked great.
I will do a post on when I actually end up making with this.
So what is your favorite rhubarb recipe?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Salad Anyone?

I wish there was some way of preserving the goodness of salad. I always end of with way to much for just me to eat because I plant thinking the BW will be here to help me eat it then he is always gone working. Skiffbaby is still a little young to be able to eat salad. Not enough teeth yet
So what do you do when you have an over abundance of salad greens that you can't preserve?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Drying Kale

I love the nutritional benefits of kale the the actual act of eating it for me leaves a little something to be desired. I blanched and froze a bunch of it last year and while we did eat it this winter I always wrinkled my nose a little when we would have it. I am not sure if it was to mature but it is always way to fibrous for me to truly enjoy. This year I thought, "there has to be a better way!"

I got to talking to one of the farmers at our farmers market and she said to try drying it and putting it is soups and stews. Ok, here goes nothing.

First I harvested the larger outer leaves of the kale, saving the smaller inner leaves for a later harvest.
Then I brought them in and rinsed them (ok, actually I didn't rinse them but YOU should. We had just had a good rain and they were clean anyway)

Then I started to de-rib them and put the leafy part in my steamer. You need to blanch them before you dry them the same as you would if you were going to freeze them.

Once my steam baskets were full I steam blanched the kale for about 3-4 mins

I love my bamboo steamer, It works great for these types of things. Once the 3-4 mins was over I laid the steamed kale leaves on the trays of my dehydrator.

I have an Excalibur dehydrator so it really does not take long to dehydrating things. I only let it run for like 4-5 hours and it was dry as a bone.

There you have it, a "how to" on drying kale. I will do an update post when I actually make something with it.

So tell me, have you ever dried kale? Or what is your favorite kale recipe?

Home is where the heart is #1

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The way we are

People often ask us what prompted us to starting homesteading. Usually the first thing they say is "it is so much easier to just go to the store." Yes, it is easier but the cost is so much higher, and not just the monetary cost either.

My family came to Alaska in the 40's well before statehood. My Grandfather wore many hats but one was that of a bush pilot and hunting guide. My Grandmother held down the fort while he was away and raised 6 kids. They always had a big garden, chickens, and mostly canned what they needed for the winter. I was the second youngest of her grandchildren so she was older by the time I came along and no longer canned but she still had a big garden and greenhouse. I learned about gardening for her and heard many stories about "the way things were." They did for themselves for the most part because no one was going to do it for them.  My father instilled the same ideas in me while I was growing up. We had a garden and were commercial fishermen so we put away enough of the catch for our winter needs.

BW was raised in Oregon and Montana but they also had a garden and hunted. His Mom grew up on a farm with a lot of siblings so they also grew and hunted most of their food, canning it for the winters.

BW grew up with a love of hunting and fishing so when we got together we started hunting and fishing together. I had never really recreationaly fished so that was new for me as well as hunting. Even though my dad grew up hunting he never really hunted when I was a kid. When BW and I had Skiffbaby we decided that we wanted to her to grow up on as much good Homegrown, Home Canned, Home Produced food as we could get our hands on.

Also I started looking into what goes into our food about 7 years ago and it scared the beegeeberz out of me. It started with me buying organic milk, then organic produce and went on from there. In 2010 we got meat chickens then a small flock of layers and on from there.

For now we have had meat chickens, a laying flock of hens, a garden, we fish, and we will hunt this fall as we always do.

All in all we choose this lifestyle because we love it and believe it is the best way for our family to thrive.

Linked to

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Firewood and a Holz Hausen

Firewood is something with think of year round up this far north. Even in the summer it is in the back of our minds that it is much easier to get firewood now then in January when there is snow up to our waists or deeper. It is pretty satisfying to see a tree go from


To This

To This

BW is creating a Holz Hausen. It is a greman way of stacking firewood that is supposed to improve how it dries. This is what a finished Holz Hausen looks like

Obviously it is not going to be a traditional Holz Hausen because it is around a tree but it still looks super cool and considering it is in the front yard that is important.

These are a few pictures from year ago and this trip is the reason we do firewood in the summer now.

At least it was a rewarding trip

Saturday, June 30, 2012

More Chickens!!!

Meet the newest members of our little Homestead

That is Mr. Hurley in the front with Lady (the lavender) and DeeDee (the Blue) they are Orpington Chickens. I got them from some friends that are moving and can't take them with. I was hoping to get some chicks from them because the Orpington are supposed to be very cold hardy and friendly. I have to say though that I would not consider Mr. Hurley to be especially friendly. I have to lock him out of the coop to collect eggs as he wants to go after me. If he keeps up this behavior he will be invited to dinner.

So the chicken count is now up to 5 mature layers, 8 pullets (although i am almost sure on of those is actually a rooster) and one grumpy rooster.

Monday, June 25, 2012

They put the funny in the farm

I though now would be a good time to introduce the animals of our little homestead.

The Dogs
(pretty but not real bright)


(she was pissed it was raining)

The Cat

The seasoned Crew
(no we are not coming out, it is RAINING!!!)

The Greenhorns

Yes the newby's live in a dog kennel for now. They are still pretty little.

Well there you have it, that is the non human ocupants of our little homestead.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fresh Milk and Butter Making

We did it, we took the the plunge. We bought a share in a cow. What does that really mean you say? Well it means we own a little bit of a cow so that we can have fresh raw milk. We have been talking the idea around for sometime. Me longer than BW. BW has in the last year developed a disturbing intolerance to milk. Anything with much milk in it send him straight to the outhouse, and for someone who LOVES milk this is a very disheartening turn of events. I was listening to a podcast last fall about raw milk and one of the things they said was that a lot of people who have issues digesting milk have no problems with raw milk. Well when we were giving the opportunity to try this we jumped on it. Low and behold he has no problems digesting this stuff.

Now he is all excited about the possibilities. So last night he got to thinking... Can we make our own butter out of this. Well I said, give it a whirl. So he sucked the cream off the top of the jar with a turkey baster and put it in a smaller jar and shook it. And shook it, and shook it. After about 15 Min's we opened the jar and this is what there was

So we pulled the lump of butter out of the jar

And proceeded to make toast and have butter and toast at midnight because we couldn't wait to test it out. Now BW wants to know if we can get just cream also to start make our own butter all the time.