Thursday, December 8, 2016

Our New Little Milker.


Introducing the newest addition to our homestead! Our New milk cow, Abigail, is a small jersey. She is still young( even though she has had one calf), and we are in the process of really getting her gentled down and trained to come in when she is called for milking. Dustin built her a milking stantion under the side shed on our old barn and she also has a nice, roomy stall to call her own :-) .






View from above.


Milking away. A nice, stainless steel bucket is a must. You can use plastic, but it is much harder to keep really clean, and aluminum and other metals can actually give the milk a bad taste. www.lehmans.com Is one place that carries them (Search "stainless steel milk pail").


Here is Abigail's bell. She wears it when she is out to pasture. It is really handy because she is not fully trained to come when she's called yet, and if she is up in the woods, it's nice to be able to hear her when you go to find her.
 And, anyway, if you own a cow, and you own a cowbell, who could resist?


It feels so good to have loft full to the rafters with hay from our own land. Bring on the cold weather - there's plenty for the stock to eat!



So, one of the benefits of having our own cow has been making our own butter. Butter, especially organic or natural options, is so expensive these days. And with the studies that have been done now show how bad margarine is for you, it's been nice to have a steady supply from an animal who's food source we know.



The girls have gotten a kick out of helping shake cream!



Daddy shows her how.


Ember, you little ham!


You can tell the butter has nearly "come" from the way the cream looks sort of clumpy on the sides of the jar. Once it looks like this it just needs another minute or so before it's butter.

Oh, now, here's the butter! Look at that big lump floating in the buttermilk. Sometimes it is yellow like from the store, and sometimes its very pale like the batch above. The color doesn't affect the flavor. And speaking of flavor, it has been amazing! I have eaten homemade butter that had a strong flavor, but I think that must be from something with a strong flavor that the cow is finding to forage on. Anyway, this has been really tasty.


The butter needs all the buttermilk rinsed out. This seems easiest if you stick the whole jar in the fridge for a little while and let the butter harden a bit. Then when you rinse its not so easy to loose some of the soft butter down the sink.





Last, you salt the butter to taste. A little goes a long way!
*The wooden spatula is one that Dustin carved. Go to http://homemadehomeshoppe.etsy.com to see our current selection of  hand carved kitchen utensils.


Well, that's it for this post, but we look forward to making cheese as well ! - HMH.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

New Items on Our Etsy Shop!


Let me introduce you to Bee Wise reusable food wraps, the newest items on our Etsy shop( click here to view). These have been so popular at our local Farmer's market over the summer and fall that we have been unable to keep enough to list online until now.


So... here is how they work: 100% cotton saturated with pure bee's wax softens as it warms from your hands. It becomes pliable and is easily wrapped around leftovers, sandwiches, and etc. 



Once wrapped the wax hardens again and clings very securely! Plus, who wouldn't want to look at these fun and pretty patterns instead of boring ( not to mention wasteful) plastic wrap or foil?


Here is a cool little fact: Bee's wax is naturally antibacterial! And here's another: with proper care these wraps will literally last for over a hundred uses. 



These would make wonderful little stocking stuffers for just about anyone on your list this Christmas. Even the kids will love seeing the fun colors in packed lunches.

Watch for more eco-friendly items coming to our shop very soon! Also we are working on getting some beautiful ironwork jewelry and some new woodwork up on the site in time for the holidays- so check with us often, you don't want to miss something good!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Legend of the Great Sweet Potatoes ( and other fall harvest).




We plowed a new garden spot this spring. Sometimes a new garden is a bit of an "iffy" proposition. The soil is often in need of amending with organic matter and the plot will usually do better after a few years of faithful fertilizing. Well, this plot did OK with most of what we planted. We got some pretty nice tomatoes, some indifferent pumpkins and an alright Mellon crop; but the sweet potatoes! They blew us away! These things broke all the rules and got ginormous! :-) 


We sent one of the sweet potatoes home with a neighbor. She weighed it out of curiosity and it was over six pounds! It wasn't the the biggest of the bunch, either.




 Here we are shaking the dirt of the bunches as we dig them up. As you can see we really got some interesting shapes as well as the huge size.




Sweet potato pie, sweet potato wedges with butter and salt, mashed, diced, it's all good! " Yummy-yum!"


Take a look at the clusters of roots!


Our big helpers. Brother missed out as he was taking a nap. Too bad, he relishes playing in the dirt.


Here we are with some more of the harvest. We had a lot of fun with the heirloom pumpkin and gourds. Esther is holding her pet bantam rooster, Jack. He is the friendliest chicken ever and loves being carried around!



Check out Janet's "little pumpkin"! New baby Morgan is due to arrive in February!


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Making Hay- The Old Fashioned Way.



Well, well, well...
We still exist and we are still homesteading! The past year has been so busy that I have totally neglected this space. I'm sure our poor blog is feeling lonely! We are coming back into cyberspace with a long anticipated blog on putting up hay with horses. We have made hay twice this summer. The first time Dustin did it completely old school and cut it with a scythe, then piled it by hand before we gathered it on to the hay wagon. These first photos are from that time.

P. S. I sewed the dress Ember is wearing. I was so happy with how it turned out!



Getting the horses harnessed.





Just as a side comment, How cute is this Flag art that Dustin created for the barn? Look closely, its the bare springs from an old mattress!







Cutey!







Horse-ing around with Lincoln. Pun completely intended. :-) 




Baby-wearing sure is handy on a working farm. Sometimes we need all hands on deck even if the littles don't oblige by taking a nice, long nap! Conagher sure  enjoyed hanging with mama!




 Forking it up on the wagon.




The haystack must be Spread and stomped down on the wagon bed as you go. This "ties it together" and keeps it from slipping off.






Higher...



...and higher!




The second time we made hay this year, we were putting up much more. So some of our neighbors kindly came over and cut it with their mowing machine. They also let us borrow their old fashioned hay rake ( we had one of these in TN but were not able to bring it with us when we moved). There are some pictures below of the rake in action. Another one of our neighbors came and helped us load the hay before an on coming shower! Here's a big thank you Jimmy! We could never have done it so fast without you!










Hey there, big boys!




Here is a shot of the field with the mounds of hay (mostly) raked up. Next blog, I want to tell you about our Etsy shop! Yes, you can now buy those pretty things like you see on our pinterest with the click of your mouse or the tap of a finger! Exciting stuff! Until next time!