Sunday, February 25, 2018

Canning Bone Broth

Today I canned the bone broth I started on Thursday. After it has simmered 36 hours I strained off all the fat. I poured the broth in hot sterilized jars and canned in the pressure canner for 25 minutes.
Wa-la! 5 quarts of stock to add to the pantry shelves and almost a quart in the fridge to drink on for the next few days.
I cleaned everything up and started another batch. I still have enough bones for one more batch and then I can started on the lamb bones!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Saturday Chores

It was a beautiful day here on the homestead. Though still too wet to do garden chores, there are plenty of critter things to be done.
Number one, was to go through my bee hives. Sadly I lost both over the winter. One hive was already weak and I feared it would not make it but the other one was very strong  so I was a bit surprised.
I am almost certain they froze. The strong hive had several full frames of honey. Just a huge dead cluster of bees. I felt like crying. The good news is that I have 2 nucs coming the first part of April so those bees will have a tremendous head start. All the frames are drawn out and honey to boot. I cleaned everything up and sealed the entrance. They are ready for the newcomers.
Next on the list was to help sis deworm the pigs. This is never an easy chore and today was no better. We worm orally and last time the wormer was placed in hollowed out apple quarters and the pigs just ate them. Well, not this time. Apparently they got savvy to the apple trick. We pondered what to do and decided to try some mandarin oranges and tomatoes. I headed back home to get some and check on a sheep that was acting strangely.
She was still hanging at the back of the field so I decided to put her in the barn for the night. She is a 10 year old ewe that was supposed to retire but I suspect she may be expecting. Obviously she didn't get the memo. The trek was relatively short but she was be obstinate and it to me 40 minutes. After she was settled with hay and water I grabbed oranges and tomatoes and went back to finish pigs. That was about as useless as the apples. The full dosage would not fit into either of the fruits. Ugh Ugh We split it between and an orange and a tomato. Today pigs do not like oranges. Only tomatoes. We gave up for the day.
I took a quick peek in the greenhouse to admire all the pretty plants and went home to start supper. Just another day on the homestead!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Babies Are Here.... Oh Boy!

Well they arrived this morning. A beautiful set of twins.
Both are boys. I hope this is not setting the bar for our season here. Last year we were very boy-ful. I still have 4 bucks from last year and 8 ram lambs! The bucks will go to the sale barn in March and lambs, well, if not sold for breeding stock will be going in the freezer.
Stinking cute tho!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Pork Bone Broth

I'm still working on making freezer space. On today's list was to start clearing out the two extremely large bags of pork bones from our last butchering of hogs. I filled my large stock pot a little over half full with frozen bones. To them I added carrots, celery, garlic, black pepper and 1/3 c apple cider vinegar. I covered the bones completely with water, brought them to a boil and then turned them to the lowest setting on my stove. I will let them cook for at least 24 hours.
The broth has been simmering about 6 hours now and is starting to smell delicious! It looks like I have enough bones for at least 2 more batches, if not 3. Once this is done I will skim the fat and can it. After I have sipped on a cup or two!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

I had errands to run this morning and didn't make an early barn check. This afternoon when doing chores I noticed Tana, my dairy goat that's due soon had bagged up considerably overnight. I think babies will be here sooner than later! I moved her to the barn where it is dry so she doesn't wander off and have them on the damp ground somewhere. She seems content and I will definitely be making some late night checks until the kids arrive.
I was excited to see the UPS guy drop a box at my gate. It was some dehydrated beans from Harmony House. We do keep large amounts of dried beans on hand but of course they take lots of water and hours to cook. Dehydrated beans have been cooked once and then dehydrated and only take 10-15 minutes to cook and much less water. These are going to be made into "meals in a jar" or mylar bags for a quick, easy meal or to take on trips to the mountain property. They will also be useful for emergencies like power outages. (more on those meals soon 😉)
I ordered a couple of other small items that I will need but plan to do most of my own in the upcoming months. I love to dehydrate and always do lots of tomatoes along with a few other veggies. I plan to amp up my dehydrating skills this year and try some new and different things.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Impatiently Waiting- Goats and Gardens!

The first of the dairy does is due in the next few days. I can hardly wait. Milk. Cheese. More cheese!
Our onions arrived today. The ground is sopping wet. I'll have to wait to get them in the ground. Sigh.
Spring fever has certainly hit hard here on the homestead as it has been a very long, cold winter. It's a beautiful day. The windows are wide open. This is just a tease I know. Winter will rear it's ugly head another time or two before it's all over.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Canning Zuppa Toscana Soup

The freezers are full of all kinds of sausage. In a month or so 4 more pigs will be going to the processor and I need to make some room. Last night's supper was Zuppa Toscana soup made with our hot Italian sausage. It was delicious served alongside a sandwich made with homemade bread.
I have had the itch to can for the last couple of weeks and after all was said and done and an enormous amount of soup stared back at me, well that is what I did.
Now, traditionally Zuppa is made with heavy cream. You can't can cream. So, I took out what we were eating for the night, added cream and put the rest in the fridge. I will can it like that and like last night when I open it add the cream. Simple enough!
Jars are ready to be wiped down and tucked in the pantry!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Khaki Campbell Ducks

Last Spring I ordered some Khaki Campbell ducklings. I got 6 hens and a drake. Later in the summer I bought another pair from a friend. So I now have 7 hens and 2 drakes. I waited impatiently for eggs. I am not sure when they started laying exactly because I had to keep the LGD in with them because of the severe fox problem we were having and bottom line he is an egg sucking thief. However, I decided it was a small price to pay for keeping my poultry alive. Occasionally I would beat him to an egg or two that I found laying on the ground.
One day they got smart and started laying in the hen house! Oh my goodness and lay they have. Even on the darkest, coldest days when no chicken would even consider laying, I would get at least 2 eggs a day. Most days it was 5 or so. Now all the ladies are laying and the eggs are piling up fast. 
Duck eggs are bigger than chicken eggs but taste the same as far as we can tell. I plan to hatch some this spring and add to the flock. I also plan to do a trail run allowing them in the garden and see how they do on bug control. (keep you posted on that one!)

Recently I read a book called Secret Livestock of Survival by Rick Austin. He prefers ducks to chickens and says the Khaki Campbell will lay around 320 eggs a year! I am very happy we decided to add them to the homestead.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Sourdough Saturday

Another dreary weekend on the homestead! This is the forth in a row. I debated on what to do inside today that would be constructive. Soap? Nah, wasn't feeling it. Though I do need to push that to the top of the list since I'm getting low.
My sourdough starter had been bubbling for a couple of days on the counter and was in need of feeding again which meant the bowl would be overflowing. It was going to be a bread baking day.
After feeding the sourdough and letting it get nice fresh bubbles, I tucked a jar in the fridge for the next go round. Then, I mixed up our sandwich bread. It's just a basic bread that I make with a heritage unbleached bread flour. Next I whipped up a batch of bagels. The dough for that had to rise for at least 4 hours. Lastly, I made a spinach, Parmesan and black pepper crusty bread to go with the soup we were going to have for supper. ( I'll post the recipe to my eating blog sometime next week!)
While waiting for everything to rise I slogged through the mud to feed critters and gather eggs. Unfortunately I left the door to the coop open so a naughty livestock guardian dog had helped himself to every egg in the house. Grr..

Once back inside I put some chicken on to boil. Chicken taco soup is on the menu for tonight. I'll get this recipe posted as well. It is divine! Made with homemade enchilada sauce. Yum-o!!
I was still waiting for the breads to finish rising and ran across a couple of heads of cabbage in the fridge that needed to be used. My original plan was to make kimchi but I didn't have all the seasonings to make it so I decided to make some sauerkraut. In short order I had a quart of kraut packed and ready to ferment. I see homegrown brats and kraut on the horizon!
At 5:30 I pulled the last pan of bagels out of the oven. My youngest son had wandered in and we all had a feeding fest on warm breads. A delicious day on the homestead!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Long Term Storage

Today I added more goods to our long term storage. I buy in bulk from a co-op and then repackage in smaller quantities. Some items are stored in 5 gallon buckets, like wheat and white flour. Most everything thing else is put into Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.

I purchased a 10 pound box of dehydrated refried black beans. What I will use in the near future was put into a 1/2 gallon mason jar and the rest were bagged up.
I like the bags with the zip top because once I open it I can still reseal it. A friend showed me a cool trick on sealing the bags with a flat iron. It is so much easier than using a regular iron! Still have 25 pounds of pintos to do!