Wednesday, May 30, 2012

tough love

It's a big planting week here, folks! How did the end of May come so quickly? We're building beds, hardening off flats of seedlings (which need to get accustomed to our strong westerly winds), and making the big shift outdoors - everybody's going out within the week, whether of the vegetable or meaty chick variety. It's a bit of tough love.  

This is the kind of work that comes in fits and spurts, of which we are right smack in the middle of. Be back later this week with lots to share!

Monday, May 28, 2012

chickies day out

The little meat chickens are growing strong, and will be 3 weeks old already in just a couple of days! We're working on transitioning them from the brooder out into the "real world," where they can enjoy the grass and sunshine. Today was so beautiful and mild (and the chicks so ready to spread their wings a bit more), that we took them out for a little exploring.

I loaded them up in a dog crate and brought them to the outdoor run attached to the chicken barn. They were cautious at first, but as soon as a few brave souls ventured out, the rest followed with a little coaxing.

Their downy fluff is turning into beautiful feathers, and they are indeed becoming meaty.

Unfortunately, they are not getting any uglier.

They are cute as ever, in fact.

And rambunctious.

As they scratched the ground, nibbled the grass, jumped at flying bugs, and pounced on each other.

Ever-watchful, Tiny eyed them suspiciously.

And when we brought them back inside, they were thoroughly tired, snuggling up all together for an afternoon nap. Sweet little chickies.

Friday, May 25, 2012

a knitted birthday crown

I have a sweet niece celebrating her 5th birthday. Anyone turning five certainly needs a birthday crown, don't you think? This little girl loves all things dress-up and princess-y and pink, so I'm hoping this little gift suits her just fine.

I used this pattern (also seen here).

I decided to embellish the crown a bit with some felt cut out in the initial of her first name. Some glitter paint dotted on the letter mimics tiny diamonds.

And although I have absolutely no sewing ability, I just couldn't resist making a little veil for the back, too! I used part of an old sheer curtain, gathered it, and sewed it on by hand as best I could. No doubt a close-up will offend anyone with sewing knowledge, but I think it looks pretty snazzy from afar.

Here you can see my unwilling model, with a stick for a wand, and who prefers not to have anything sit upon her head. Clearly, she doesn't feel the need for a crown - her kingdom recognizes her without it ;)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

from the garden & in my kitchen

:: Gorgeous ruby red rhubarb, some of which I plan on freezing for later use, and much of which I plan on turning into this pie. 

:: This ranch dressing simply made with sour cream, homemade mayo, garlic, salt, parsley, and worcestershire sauce. To go with our first harvest of (oh so flavorful and tender) Rocky Top lettuce.

:: Ridiculous amounts of eggs, which are slowly being made into equally ridiculous amounts of quiche.

:: Banana maple syrup muffins, using my blueberry muffin recipe with half white flour, half wheat flour, substituting half the sugar for maple syrup, and substituting 3/4 of the milk with mashed bananas. 

:: A quick, easy, and really tasty white bread! (Thank you, Rachel, for the link).

:: Bunches and bunches of green onions making their way into everything, which kind of makes up for the puny spinach harvest (not a good year for spinach so far).

What's coming from your garden and kitchen these days?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

sloppy joes (or jaime's)

This is one of those meals that I feel like I've been making forever - or at least as long as I've been cooking. And being that as it may, the variations on this classic are pretty much endless. It's a great way to have something satisfying to eat even when the refrigerator is looking really empty; As in, the only "vegetables" available are black olives and pickled banana peppers. And, well...ketchup, which any child will tell you is indeed a vegetable. I'll give you my original recipe, though, and leave any modifications to your good judgement and the particulars of your own refrigerator contents. 

~serves 4

1 pound ground beef
1 small to medium sized onion of any variety, diced
1 bell pepper, green or otherwise, diced
2-3 stalks celery, finely diced (include the leafy tops if you have them)
1 handful mushrooms, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 Cup ketchup
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
3 teaspoons brown sugar
worcestershire sauce to taste (I use at least 3 good shakes)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Brown the ground beef in a pan (don't drain the fat)
2. Add onion, peppers, celery, mushrooms, and garlic. Stir and cook until vegetables are tender.
3. Add ketchup, mustard, sugar, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Cook just until everything is well-combined.
4. Serve heaped on rolls, and have your napkin ready! 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

3 things I'm loving right now

 :: Calendula salve for hands hard at work in the soil and baby knees busy with the work of crawling.

:: This lonesome duck who is often found lounging about in our pond, napping on the shore, or fraternizing a bit with the chickens. This duck who isn't afraid of me! I have officially declared him our wild domestic duck. 

:: Our Shepherd mutts, who have learned quickly how to help us swiftly round up the goats into their barn at night for safekeeping. They are a poor man's sheepdogs, but very good ones at that.

Do you have a few favorite things right now, too?

Monday, May 14, 2012

on eating meat (and being a mother hen)

I swear these chickies have already grown so much! At just 5 days old, they're sporting beautiful wing feathers and individual personalities. They are (all 26 of them!) doing wonderfully well so far. I'm quite enjoying being their foster mama hen, making sure they are warm enough, have fresh food and water always, and cleaning a couple little pasty bums now and then.

Many people have expressed reservations and concerns about raising their own animals for food, especially citing the fear of becoming too attached; Most especially where children are concerned. I have to admit having these same fears, even at this early stage. Yet, for me personally, I see my choices as either only eating meat I know for a fact was humanely and respectfully raised, or not eating meat at all. So, choosing to eat meat therefore means it must be as local as possible, so I can see and be satisfied for myself that the animals are treated properly. This might be a case of my inner control freak coming out, and although that tendency can oftentimes be a burden, I see it as an asset in this case! Aside from beef, sourcing local meat that meets my standards has proven difficult. And so here we are raising our own birds for food.

And also, here I am, working on fully embracing this process - surrendering myself to the emotions, learning, and self-reflection that is inevitable when one chooses to deal so directly with life and death. And the heaviness of losing an animal as compared to choosing to take an animal's life is something I'm certainly still parsing for myself.

For this moment, though, I'm going to let myself be a mother hen. To let go of trying so hard not to get attached. For I know in two months time I will be letting go again, even more so. Why should I hold back nourishing the lives that will soon provide my family with so much nourishment? Instead, I will chose the path where I need be most brave, yet most vulnerable. Time will tell if that's the wise choice.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

meaty chicks

Oh boy. Well, we took the plunge, and here they are. Our very first animals that will be raised for meat. These are little chickie Freedom Rangers. Which will grow up, and which we will eat, although that seems hard to believe right now. For right now, they are adorable little fluffy balls of energy, charming us with their antics and soothing us with the sweet sound of their cheep-cheeps.   

Welcome home, little chicks. We promise to raise you up right.
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