Menu for 5/3-5/9 and Farm Update(Sorry I never hit publish)

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Thank you to all our Front Line Workers!

Soup Sunday:  We had a very lazy day and I made a big pot of soup.  We had not electronics, other than church online and a book on tape while we played cards as a family.  A pot of soup seemed fitting.

Monday: Burgers.  The rest of the week it looks like we are going to have rain, so we had a fun night of burgers and fries.

Tuesday: Cinco De Mayo falls on Taco Tuesday!!!!  We will  be doing a taco feast!  Tons of extra veggies, like carrots and radishes, to add to the tacos just to take them to the next level. Homemade chips!!  It will be wonderful!  I can taste the lime and cilantro already!

Wednesday: This is suppose to be a cold day.  Turkey and gravy over rice with pan fried radishes and kale salad.  If you have never had pan fried radishes you have to try them.  Just a little butter melted in the pan. Half all your radishes or cut them up however you would like.  Top with pepper, garlic and onion powder.  Just let them cook in that heaven till they are soft and slightly brown.  It is really just heaven. One of my favorite things from the garden.

Thursday:  My daughters night to cook!  I think she is planing something with steak!  I told her to work in a ton of veggies.   If I had to guess, I would say she is going to do hobo packets on the grill with cabbage, potatoes and steak.

Friday: Breakfast for dinner.  Sausage, kale, onion and cheese quiche.  I make this recipe with kale or chard.  Goat cheese or cheddar.  This is such a flexible meal.  It takes the pieces that I have in the fridge and turns it into an amazing dinner.  I will probably make baked apples to go with this.  Just a simple farm dinner.

Saturday: Fried Chicken.  We save all the drum sticks when we butcher the chickens and we put them to the side.  We use them sparingly throughout the year to make them last.  Fried chicken is such a treat.  We only eat it every couple of months.  We savor every bite!  I am going to break tradition and make Brussels spouts instead of cabbage, might even make sweet potato fries.  I’m hungry!

Sunday:  Mother’s Day!  I am the Mother and my favorite food is pizza!  Or kale soup.. it will depend on the weather.

In the kitchen: Made Greek Yogurt, make cheese, churn butter, freeze butter milk and feed whey to pigs. Freeze kale for future soup.  Yogurt starter.  Kale chips.

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Garden:   In the garden we are harvesting kale and radishes.  Last week we planted potatoes.   We have planted the tomatoes and peppers outside under plastic.  The seeds we have sown so far in the ground outside are: beets, radishes, lettuce, carrots, peas, chard, kale, and onions. In the high tunnel we have started carrots, beets, radishes, peas, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and kohlrabi. Please feel free to jump in where we are!  Go out and plant the things we have planted outside!!!!   There is still frost to be careful of, know when the last frost is in your area and plan around that.  We are a zone 6.  We could still get frost for another 2 weeks.

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In the Barn:  We have 9 bottle baby goats.  They are all little cute jumping beans and keeping us very busy.  The vet visited today, took care of the goats and drew blood.  It was a routine visit.  We have 10 turkeys doing well in their new outside turkey yard and house.  We have 28 sustainable meat bird chicks in the brooding pen.  These are meat birds that will hopefully be able to provide our family with meat for a very long time into the future.  The chickens are not liking being locked out of the garden and they have stopped laying.  The ducks do not currently like the goat roommates.  We still do not have piglets but we keep hoping for a miracle.

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Menu Plan April 26-May 2, 2020

Today has been a crazy day.  I am thankful for the moment to sit at the computer and type out my menu plan for the week.   I also plan daily to-do lists, cleaning plans, (I follow FlyLady) and any farm projects.  I am a box checker, just in case you did not pick up on that yet.  Friday, I made a grand check list of everything I wanted to get done all day, went out to do farm chores and found a goat in labor, whole day took a different turn.  I like checking boxes better than “hello emergency!”  but farm life does not always work that way.

Sunday: Roasted Turkey, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese and beets.  Don’t judge me, we all have our thing, mine is turkey, mashed potatoes and mac and cheese.  They have to be made together.   It was fabulous.  I stuffed the bird with apples and onions.  It will be lunch meat for the next two weeks and I will get three more meals out of this bird this week.  I have no idea how big it was, maybe 15ish pounds.

Once I finish cleaning and picking the bird, I will put carrots, onions, celery, water and the bones into the crock pot. I cook this down for at least 24 hours, adding more water if needed.  I can or freeze the turkey stock when it is done, I get about 4 quarts.

Monday: Turkey sandwiches, chips or turkey on salad.  I cooked all day yesterday.  Today I am keeping it easy.

Tuesday:  Tacos.  When we make tacos we cook dry beans in the InstaPot.  Rice in the rice cooker, saute onion and hot peppers and cut up lettuce and tomatoes.  We also fry our own corn chips.  It makes the night extra special. This is also a night the kids cook and clean up.

Wednesday:  Pork Loin in the InstaPot, roasted acorn squash and Brussels sprouts. The pork loin is a complete cheat.  This I got on sale, it is not from our farm!  Gasp!  However, it is an easy night. The loin is fully seasoned and it goes in the InstaPot for 15 mins.  I cut up the acorn squash in slices and half the sprouts.  Roast 350 for about 10-15 mins. The squash depends on how thick I cut it. Easy prepare and easy clean up.

Thursday: Turkey enchiladas.  I take more of the leftover turkey from Sunday, cut it up really small and mix it diced onions, bean, shredded cheese and a little salsa.  Wrap in a gluten free wrap and lay the wraps into a baking dish.  Cover the wraps with a spicy white sauce and salsa.  Bake 350 for about 25-30 mins. Serve over rice or quinoa.

Friday:  My daughter is cooking, it is going to be a surprise she said.  Wants to make up a complete menu and present it to me tomorrow.  It will have beef on it, that is the only hint I was given.

Saturday:  Turkey drop biscuits soup with sweet potato gravy.  This is like chicken and dumplings or chicken pot pie but with whatever veggies I have around, and the left over pieces of turkey.  I will cook a sweet potato in the InstaPot to make a nice thick gravy that has that something special.

This week I will bake something with apples in it for breakfast or a treat after dinner.  I have a feeling the kids are just going to want the baked apples, like the filling of an apple pie with no crust.  It goes great on yogurt with almonds for breakfast!

 

 

 

Menu Plan April 19-25

Back to the menu planning!  Right now the whole world is cooking at home and working with what they have in the freezer or pantry.  The same thing happens on the farm, our freezer and pantry just look different.  We have a cold cellar in the basement.  This allows us to store all of our food from the garden for winter.  We also raise our meat and have 6 months to a year of meat in the freezer.  For our pantry items that we can not raise ourselves, we buy in bulk.   Sometimes buying in bulk means buying a month or two worth of a food at Aldi. There are some items where it is cheaper to buy the smaller packages at Aldi, than it is to buy at BJ’s or other bulk supplier.  I also shop at Aldi for our processed foods, I love chips. I am a salty food lover.  So we do have some processed foods in the house.  I would say we raise about 60-70% of what we eat.  I would love to see it higher, but I need a cheese curl every once and a while!  What can I say I’m human.  The kids also prefer store ketchup.

Something you can do for your family right now is to menu plan.  Keep it simple.  Below is our menu plan for the week.

Sunday:  Chili, cornbread and kale salad. It is still cold outside, so it is still “Soup Sunday”.  My husband will be making chili in the crock  pot.  We have whole frozen tomatoes in the freezer from last years garden, homemade tomato paste, chopped onions, frozen celery, and dried beans from the cellar.  He will also add ground beef. Corn bread goes great with chili and corn meal is a pantry staple for us.  He likes the Pioneer Woman’s corn bread recipe. It is low sugar.  Kale is fresh from the garden, so I will make a salad out of any veggies we have in the crisper.

Monday: Chinese Chicken, stir-fried cabbage and quinoa. The chicken is a mock recipe from PF Chang’s spicy chicken.  Start the quinoa in the pressure cooker, rice cooker or on stove top. Cut chicken breast or thigh off the bone, toss in corn starch, cook in a tbsp of oil or lard. When the chicken is cooked, add 1/4 onion.  Once chicken and onions are done add 1 cup chicken stock.  We use frozen chicken stock cubes. The sauce is 1 minced garlic clove, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp rice vinegar, 1 tbsp honey, dash red pepper flakes.  Add this to the pan and let thicken.  Add water if it is too thick.  In another pan cook 1/2 cabbage chopped with red onion, and carrots.  I add about 1 tbsp of soy sauce or aminos.  Cook till cabbage is al dente.

Tuesday: Tacos.  Every Tuesday is Taco Tuesday.  This is a day when one of the kids cook.  Then after dinner they fight of who has to do the dishes and who cooked most of the food. I go out and milk the goats!

Wednesday: Asparagus, in a butter garlic white sauce over pasta.  I just make the pasta al dente. Roast the Asparagus in the oven 350 for 10 mins or so with olive oil.  On the stove I melt a tablespoon of butter, minced garlic clove, table spoon of flour, a cup of milk and a cup or so of stock.  When the sauce thickens I add it to the pasta, slice the asparagus in bite size pieces and mix everything together.   Might serve a side salad if we have lettuce left after tacos.

Thursday: My daughter’s day to cook.  She has not decided on a menu yet, she likes to plan all week.  Right now she is thinking popcorn chicken bites with broccoli or green beans with baked potatoes.

Friday:  Hamburgers and sweet potato fries. I make gluten free hamburger buns, they are quick and taste great.  Bake sweet potatoes in the instapot, then fry in the fryer.  They are out of this world!

Satuday:  Calzones.  A simple no yeast pizza crust, add whatever left over meat from burgers, tacos onions, pepperoni, homemade sauce and homemade mozzarella.

Every week I try to bake a breakfast item. This week the item will have pumpkin in it.  I am thinking pumpkin oatmeal muffins.   I have not figured it out yet.  We freeze our extra pumpkin, ripe bananas, shredded carrots, shredded zucchini and berries. I use these to bake and it is cheaper than cereal.

Also we make a batch of goat’s milk yogurt for the week.  This is a great snack item or breakfast item.  There is a blog post on how to make yogurt https://shadesoflavender.wordpress.com/?s=yogurt

Let me know what your favorite go-to meals are!  Enjoy!

 

 

Farm Life

We are halfway through our kidding season! It has been an exhausting emotional rollercoaster.  We have had the joys of new life and the sadness of death. It is paralleling what is going on in the world right now.

We had a kid born this week with an intestinal defect. We did the best we could to save him but he passed in our arms. His twin brother was just not up to normal bouncy kid behavior so we took him to the vet. A low grade fever was easily treated and he is back to a normal hyper baby goat. The vet recommend pulling him off Mom, which as a dairy we normally do at about a week, so he is now an indoor bottle baby. Once the weather warms up he will go to goat daycare with one of our older does.

Sleeping baby goat! Nothing cuter.

Our family was very upset about the death of the kid, but life had to go on the other baby needed us. There are a lot of times in farming where you have to push your emotions aside and just keep going. The other animals on the farm need you and there is no time to sit around feeling sad.

This week we also received chicks for a new sustainable meat bird flock. We are going to start breeding and maintaining a meat bird flock so we don’t have to continue buying Cornish crosses. With the events happening in the world right now we are doing everything we can to be sustainable. That means we probably are going to add some sustainable turkeys as well. However, we are still researching the perfect breed.

Indoor chicken brooder.

Two of our does are due to deliver any day now. We know it will happen in God’s perfect time. Once kidding is over we can take a deep breath and transition into milking and bottling. It does not mean less work, just different. This time of year keeps us very busy!

I pray this post finds everyone healthy. Let me know how your seedlings are doing. They should still be inside and the cardboard outside on your garden plot creating perfect soil. Feel free to ask questions about this process in the comments below.

Baby Goat and Garden

This has been a busy week.  Spring is coming in with a long to-do list.  With the added stress and to-do of working from home, educating the kids and other COVID-19 stresses the farm is a source of stress relief.  We have been taking advantage of nice days and working inside early in the morning or when it is raining, in addition to having a modified “Spring Break”.  Many friends have asked, “what’s going on down on the farm?” I think this has just been a conversation starter to talk about anything other than the virus, but I promised to do a blog post with pictures of what we have been up to.

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I’ll start with the cutest thing first!  This is Captain Crunch, Crunchy for short. He is the baby boy born to Cherrio today!  He is super cute!  He arrived right on is due date.  My husband when back to check on Cherrio this afternoon and there he was, not a peep out of Mom.  The baby was all dried off and happy as could be.  Mom did a great job taking care of him.  We have about 9 more babies coming this week.  This is based off the ultrasounds at the end of January.  God willing, we will be posting a lot of baby goat pictures this week.  This also means there will be new babies for sale on our Sale page!

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In other goat news, we have a new milker on the stand.  We sold her kid so she is ready to join the milking ranks.  She did not think this was a good idea.  She does not want to be milked so she just sits down.  We have to train her with positive reinforcement that the stand and milking is a good thing.  It normally takes a week and lots of patience.   A stressful process for us all.

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Inside the high tunnel things are growing well.  We still have another week or so before harvest, but the kale and radishes will be right on time.  There is a hard frost warning for Friday night, so we will be waiting till Saturday to transplant tomatoes and peppers.  The average daytime temp in the high tunnel without the sides open is about 120 degrees.  With the sides up it drops down into the 80’s.  At night the low is about 40’s.  That is a huge temperature swing, we are looking forward to some warmer nights soon.

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Outside, we are shaping garden beds, mulching isles and laying down row covers when they are needed.  The garlic bed is at the bottom of the picture, all the logs and wood around it is holding down the wire we have to use to keep the chickens out.  Chickens are a huge frustration when we start moving dirt around in the garden, they are overly helpful.  We spent a whole day this week, re-fencing the chicken yard with 6 foot chain link.  This is in hopes to keep them out of the garden while we prep the beds and plant the crops. We are keeping our fingers crossed.  Until we know for sure we can keep them in, I will keep my garlic covered!

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When I am not working on the farm, cooking, teaching my kids, teaching for school or cleaning the house, I am making masks.  The Governor issued an order that everyone must wear a cloth mask when they go out in public.  This is like a step above “cover your cough”.  Other teachers at school have helped me gather supplies and now it is time to cut and sew.  I’m happy to be able to contribute to my community and help maybe slow down this virus.  The link to the pattern I am using is below.

https://tianascloset.com/index.php/2020/02/06/face-mask-against-the-coronavirus-epidemic/

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Lastly, I will leave you with this strange photo.  Can you figure out what we were doing in the kitchen this week?  We roasted the peanuts from last years garden.  I know we should have done it a long time ago, I normally roast them before Christmas, but I just never got the chance.  They still turned out great!  Growing peanuts is one of our favorite things.  There is nothing like the taste of a home grown peanut.  We all look forward to the day we can grow enough to make peanut butter.  Until then, we eat them plain, on yogurt, and in ice cream.  We roasted these in honor of all the baseball games we are missing.  It seems weird to be working on the garden without the soundtrack of baseball in the background.

So many things right now seem different.  We are trying to cherish the blessings, like the time together and online concerts.  We are praying for hospital employees and the sick.  Life is uncertain and seems like it is out of control, but we will hold tight to the truth that God is in Control.  We pray God’s will be done in our lives and that he guides us to be His hands and feet.  I hope you all have a great week.  Thank you for catching up with us.

Seed Starting

I hope that everyone has had a chance to order some seeds, grab some at a local store or save some from the food in the fridge.

I have been doing all of the above.  We placed an order for seeds last week from Southern Seed Savers Exchange and the seeds came this week.  Orders are still going out and they appreciate your business and patience.

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These are onions, celery, romaine and ice burg lettuce bottoms.   All of them will regrow.  Eventually, you can plant them or you can just continue to harvest them from your kitchen window. In this picture below, you can see the celery we have transplanted from the bottom of celery that we bought at the store. We also planted lettuce in this glass aquarium for the winter.  It stays warm, we can harvest when we need it and it reminds me of warmer weather.

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Okay now, back to starting seeds.  March and April is the time to start tomatoes, herbs, peppers, cabbage, lettuce, kale, etc.  All of these seeds need to be started inside.  We use our master bathroom.  It gets great sun all day, it is warm and we do not forget to water them.  When we put the seedlings in the basement I always forgot to water them.  In the bathroom they are a part of my everyday life.

You can start your seeds in seed starting mix or you can start them in just dirt from outside.  We have done both.  The seed starting mix is better, we use something called Jiffy Plugs.  However, in a time when we are all asked to stay home, just use the dirt from your yard. Bring it in and allow it to warm up before planting for better germination. Empty yogurt cups, and old egg cartons make great containers to start seeds in. You will want to poke a hole in the bottom of the yogurt cup before putting dirt in it so the extra water can drain out.   Place your dirt filled yogurt cups or egg cartons on an old cookie sheet with a little bit of a side to help you control the dirt and the water.  Place a couple seeds in each cup, find a sunny window, water well and you are off to the races.

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The most important thing with all of this is to try!  I always remind people the first year we planted a garden we had nothing that we planted grow.  God was generous and some of the seeds from our compost grew, but none of the seeds I planted grew. There is no time like the present to take control of some of your food supply.  Look at what is happening in the world today, things will get worse before they get better. Now is the time to learn!

 

Grow Your Own Food

During World War I and World War II families in the United States planted Victory Gardens to help lessen the food shortage as a result of the war.  Over the years from 1942 to 1944 during World War II, Victory Gardens grew 8 million tons of food for American Families.  As I watched grocery store shelves empty this week, I could not help but think about those Victory Gardens.  What if instead of hoarding TP Americans planted gardens?  As the effects of this virus spread across the nation, food shortage is going to become a problem. According to Modern Farmer, the average age for the American Farmer is 58.  The age group that is being affected the most is 50 and older.  Take a moment to let that sink in.  If the population that is growing our food, is the population that is becoming sick, what is going to happen to our food?

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I don’t know the answer to that question, however, I can tell you I am not going to stand around and wait to find out.   We all need to take some accountability for our families food supply.  So how do we do that?  First of all, the next time you go to Walmart for your 100th pack of TP grab some vegetable seed packets and seed starting soil mix.  All of the Walmarts have them out right now  in the garden sections. Most grocery stores have them available as well, along with Dollar Tree and Dollar General.  If you are staying home and not going out at all, I recommend online suppliers like Burpee Seeds, Seed Savers Exchange, Annies, Johnny Select Seeds and Southern Seed Savers.

Okay, so you decided maybe you would take a try at this farming thing, what do you do first?  The good thing is that it is not too late.  Spend one of the days you are home watching your backyard.  Where do you get the most sun?  Think about trees that will cast a shadow in a month when they are full.  Ideally, you would like 7 solid hours of sunlight in one spot.

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Now that you know where you are going to plant your garden all you need is a box.  Lay the cardboard out on the grass as big as you would like your garden to be.  Put bricks, dirt, rocks anything on it to hold it down.  Let it sit there.  The cardboard over the next couple of months will kill the grass, warm up the soil and bring any earthworms to the surface to start aerating the soil.

In my next post, I will talk about starting those seeds you are going to work on getting your hands on.  If you can not find seeds, start now saving the ones you have in your house.  Do you have that last lonely tomato in the bottom of the fridge?  Cucumber?  Dried beans?  Organic potatoes? Butternut?   Think about what you have around the house now that has seeds in it.  You might be able to us those, make sure the seeds have never been cooked. Raw vegetables only.

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This slice of tomatoes has seeds in it that will grow more tomatoes

Also, to plant a “seed” for future thought.  Most Tractor Supply stores have baby chicks right now, you could control your own egg supply too!  More about that and starting seeds in my next post.