Planning and Preparation

tombstoneJanuary is usually the month when not much happens on the farm so we use this time for planning and preparation.

Some of the things we do include:
Looking back at the previous year and seeing what did not get finished on our To-Do list.
Making a new To-Do list and posting it on our kitchen cabinet.
Preparing for our visit to our accountant.
Taking a freezer/canned good inventory and determining what we need to plant this year.
Mapping our gardens and checking our seed inventory.
Catching up with friends that we never get to see during planting/harvesting season.
Teaching- this is our primary time for teaching cheese making classes.

This year our January project includes finishing a wall in our storage room. We have talked about doing this for years but this year it got bumped to top priority when we realized that “somewhere” under the shelves and totes, there was a dead mouse.
After moving EVERYTHING to find said mouse, hubby decided that he might as well undertake the long needed project. We are under a time constraint this year as we have company coming the beginning of February…maybe a bit of pressure is a good thing.

Until next time, Paula


So Much For New Year’s Resolutions…

2014babynew yearI determined as the New Year rolled around to be more diligent about blogging. I was really hoping to give more insight in this crazy locavore lifestyle and just allow you to see how we live life on a day to day basis. As my kids would say, “How’s that working out for you?”
On Day 13 of the New Year, I cleaned out the fridge. A couple of bowls of leftover bean dip from our New Year’s party, a chunk of Velveeta (yikes) and a bowl of Cool Whip with something growing in it-where did that come from? I noticed that over the holidays, things tend to creep into our cupboards that do not live there the rest of the year-a can of (GASP) Crisco? It was for making frosting for gingerbread houses, I swear!! A bag of white sugar-ditto. Some random boxes of crackers and bags of chips. A locavorian nightmare!! Time to purge the kitchen and get back to real life.
Hubby and I have discussed that we are going to have to rethink how we do holidays and how to make new traditions in keeping with our principles, but something happens when the grandkids ask, “Are we making gingerbread houses AGAIN this year?”
We did manage to make it through Christmas without the traditional water-pumped store bought turkey. We roasted a couple of free range farm fresh chickens and a big chunk of venison. Our own mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and green beans rounded out the menu. I let our non-locavore kids supply out-of-season salad and store bought bread.
Today I found a partial bag of “trail mix”…what a joke! Five or six almonds, two cashews and a TON of baking chips? Baking chips in trail mix??? Good grief! It really was pretty awful. But I also have a really hard time throwing out food, so I made oatmeal cookies and used the trail mix for interest. Hubby pronounced them delicious.
SO…on day 13, the decorations are all down and the house restored to mostly normal, the fridge is cleaned and I baked some oatmeal bread. Time to get started on a New Year of local eating.
Until next time, Paula

Who would you rather have on your team?

FOfFbookcover“We live in a culture where too many valuable, crucial, life skills have been lost to most people. If the country collapsed, who would you rather have on your team? An agriculture professor or someone who knew how to milk a cow, make cheese, and deliver baby calves? ”

– Joel Salatin, Fields of Farmers


Oh Come Let Us Adore Him

Actors dressed as Joseph and the Three Wise Men, part of a live-human nativity scene, stroll past the U.S. Capitol Building after demonstrating outside the nearby Supreme Court in Washington

Be Anxious for Nothing…

beanxiousfor nothingYour vocabulary lesson for this Holiday season: Anxious vs. Eager. Only two more sleeps until Christmas and many are thinking they will have to sacrifice sleep just to get everything done on time and make Christmas “perfect.” I hear people say, “I’m anxious for my kids to come home.” or “I’m anxious to see if the kids like their gifts.” or are you “anxious” to try out that new recipe you found on-line? Let me remind you today that Philippians 4:6 says that we are to be anxious… for nothing. Let me suggest that you are “eager” (happily excited and expectant) for this wonderful time of the year. Make a conscious effort to replace the word anxious with the word eager this season and all though the year. If you are feeling anxiety, Philippians also gives instruction on relieving the tension and refocusing on what’s really important.
Merry Christmas!!

It won’t be long now…

Last week was pretty hectic on the Ridge. We were given over 20 quarters of venison to process. In two days time I cut and canned over 40 jars of meat plus ground about 35 pounds of burger and bagged several large roasts and a few steaks. I can now say with certainty that I am DONE canning for the 2013 season.

Lest you think I am now breathing a sign of relief, think again. Christmas is upon us with all of the joys of the season: cookie baking, shopping, wrapping, card sending and attending various Christmas parties, dinners and concerts.

In the barn, things are snug and warm with the new door and the battens finally finished. A couple of the girls are bagging up which means we’ll soon have babies. Canning season may be over, but kidding season is just starting. Maybe we’ll have Christmas babies!!

Happy Thanksgiving!


How To Apply For A Passport

Today we had a frustrating encounter…we applied for passports. Grandbaby #11 is due in the spring so we’ll be headed to Japan for a visit. We learned a few things along the way and to save someone the aggravation that we experienced, I thought I’d share how to obtain a passport in simple terms.

nogovsymbol1. Skip the government website.

In an attempt to be prepared, I went to the government website. I have noticed that government websites are notorious for inaccurate information and prices (think Obamacare.)


topsecret2. Gather your official documents.

You will need to take along photo ID – a driver’s license works well. Photocopy both sides and take the original. Take your birth certificate, the REAL one from the department of vital statistics. Make sure you know where you were born, your parent’s full names, the date and place of their birth and your mother’s maiden name. If you have ever had a passport before, even if it is expired, you will need that too. Unless it is “lost” – in which case you will need to (you guessed it) fill out another form.

(By the way, they KEEP your birth certificate… they said it will be returned, separately from the passport.)

aaa3. Pay for a photo.

Even though the website says you can take your own photo, you can’t…so save yourself the frustration and pay to have one taken. AAA charges $8.49 for members. Rite Aid and CVS will also take them and often have on-line coupons.

postoffice4. Head to the post office…BEFORE 3 pm!!

You can get an application at your local post office or the courthouse. But going to the post office doesn’t require removing your belt, jewelry and emptying your pockets. The post office has applications and they also sell money orders, which you will need to the tune of $110. Make sure you arrive early in the day because the post office does not process applications after 3 pm. Don’t forget your black ink pen and an additional $25 for the processing fee.


5. Breath a sigh of relief and hope it arrives in time for your trip.

There is a place that asks your destination and date of travel. A helpful lady at the courthouse told us to fill out this section even if we didn’t yet know a date. She picked a date 6-7 weeks in the future, telling us that applications with dates get processed faster.

That’s about it… hopefully, we’ll get a passport in 4-6 weeks AND get our birth certificates back!


eggsinbasketRecently our Red Star pullets began to lay eggs. Within weeks, each hen was producing a nice brown egg each day and we found ourselves swimming in eggs.
I put the word out that our hens were laying and we had eggs for sale. I even contacted a near-by restaurant that advertises that they use local foods. I was a bit shocked to realize that many folks, including the restaurant owner, want fresh, brown, cage-free eggs without hormones or antibiotics for less than the price that “factory” eggs are selling for in our area. Apparently they assume that since my hens are free range, I don’t have to feed them and my eggs are free.


flyingdollarbillsStarting a flock of laying hens is not for the faint of heart. The initial investment of a coop, feeders, waterers and fencing can run into the thousands of dollars. And trust me, you DO need a fence…because free-range chickens WILL tear up your garden if they are not confined and raccoons and foxes WILL raid your hen house if it’s not secure.


chickineggThen comes the investment in chicks. Gone are the days of the 99 cent chick.  Day-old peeps now range from $2.50-5.00 a piece depending on the breed.
Prior to your purchase, the coop must be prepared for four to six weeks of incubation during which time the temperature must be precisely maintained until your charges are fully feathered.



chickensfeedsackFor the next 20 to 24 weeks,longer for heavier and heritage breeds, you will be dumping bag after bag of feed into hungry mouths with no return. If you purchase your flock in the spring, by late fall, you will begin to see some eggs…HOWEVER, the hen is designed by God to lay when the light is brightest and the days are longest…SO…this means you will need a light and a timer if you want your girls to lay consistently all winter.




farmerinsnowAnd speaking of winter, you will have to feed and care for your flock 365 days of the year.
In the hot months, you’ll have to guard against heat stroke and insure that water stays cool and fresh. You’ll need to gather eggs frequently so that they don’t spoil.
In the winter you’ll have head to the coop several times a day to make sure the water and eggs are not freezing.




washingeggsOnce the eggs finally reach the house, you will have to check  for cracks and wash them if necessary. Most small flock owners use “recycled” egg cartons but this is another expense if you’re just getting started. Marketing, Sales and Public Relations are all vital skills that a small farmer has to master. There is no middle man on a homestead. From beginning to end you are: contractor, veterinarian, day laborer and vendor.



eggssunnysideupSounds pretty daunting doesn’t it? But nothing compares to the taste and quality of a farm fresh egg. Knowing how this hen was raised and how she was cared for and fed are priceless to me. I will always have chickens  for myself. If some people think the cost of my eggs is too high, I will let them get their eggs from a factory.