eggs, eggs, everywhere

I LOVE eggs! My favorite breakfast, of all time, is Eggs Benedict but I will eat them any way I can get them. When I was pregnant with PJ my major craving in the second trimester was scrambled eggs. At first they were the only thing I could keep down as I emerged from the awful period that was the first trimester of my first pregnancy. I ate them every day, sometimes for both breakfast and lunch, until other foods began to sound appetizing again.

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When we first came here the thing I looked forward to the most was getting our laying hens. Being able to walk outside and collect all the eggs we could eat, for only a fraction of the store bought price, was quite exciting. Not to mention, our eggs would be healthier and more nutritious than eggs sourced from conventional or even large organic conglomerate (and supposedly pastured) farms. The day we got our first egg (a brown one) I was excited. The day we got our first Americauna egg, well then, then I was ecstatic. Not only are they tasty and good for us but they are cheery to look at. I will never tire of all the different sizes, shapes, hues and speckles or the unexpected excitement of perusing the nest boxes, gently nudging the lazier hens out of the way, to find what they have to offer us both morning and night.

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Unfortunately, we are having a similar problem to the Great Tomato Influx of 2012…instead this time we are drowning in eggs. Yes, I see a recurring theme of me, getting overly excited about each new venture, dreaming a smidgen too big, over extending us in the process and then having more of a yield then we can reasonably use. Humph! Thanks for passing that characteristic down to me Dad. Originally we had intended to sell eggs but have had a hard time finding a large enough outlet to sell all that the girls can lay, minus what we can use ourselves. Even though we have shut off the lights in the coop, and spring has most definitely not arrived around these parts, we still have dozens of eggs leftover and the girls continue to lay about a dozen every three days, even without their extended daylight conditions. So I have searched the internet for every egg using recipe I can find. We eat egg salad often. Inhale deviled eggs 2 dozen at a time. I make all forms of custard desserts on a fairly regular basis. I’ve become a pusher of scrambled eggs, eggs over easy and poached eggs for breakfast and try to throw in a Quiche or Strata for dinner at least once a week. I am not “egged out” yet (probably never will be) but the rest of the crew seems to be over them. If all else fails, and we don’t get to them before they start to turn, they are destined for the pigs’ slop bucket. Seems like a waste of good eggs to me!

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I need inspiration. I need recipes. I need someone to buy all of these darn eggs!

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What recipes can you share that would use a boatload of eggs? Because a boatload is most certainly what I’ve got.

baby, it’s too cold outside

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We have had quite the cold snap around here as of late. A week with temperatures feeling like they are below zero, or colder. Hence, we have only done the absolutely necessary outside (breaking water in the few unheated waters, delivering daily meals and collecting eggs), you would too if, while milking your cow, the milk was freezing to the side of the pail almost instantaneously! Instead we have been attending to indoor chores (ugh, I’m getting tired of looking at tax paperwork) and doing our best to entertain ourselves while being cooped up for what looks to be a relatively short period of time. I have never been so happy to see a HIGH of 20 in the forecast.

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The sunrise is beautiful but I would rather be curled up inside, in front of the fire, with a hot cup of coffee.

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That 6 degrees on there, it actually felt like -15.

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They have spent a lot of time staring out the windows, wondering why we won’t let them go out to play in the snow.

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When we do venture out we are constantly looking for a quick escape from the frigid temperatures, this day we linger a little longer than usual in the barn wishing that sunlight streaming in actually felt warm.

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Through it all the ladies have kept up their laying and we have been fighting to keep the coop feeling warm for them. We do come out to a few frozen and, consequently, cracked eggs everyday though.

With every challenge there comes opportunity (that’s been my daily mantra as of late after all) and with our extra time inside we have been…

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Making future plans.

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Grabbing a nap when we can.

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Taking time to play games, Trivial Pursuit for the adults, Crazy 8s or Go Fish for the younger set and Scrabble for the bunch of us.

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Cuddling up in front of here whenever possible.

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Taking the time to sit and create when the urge strikes us.

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Being warmed by the sweetness that the kids show us. PJ brought this back to me after a trip out with Nonni. I think he learned that from his daddy. I’m glad he’s been paying attention.

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Been waking up to this in the slow cooker for breakfast, hoping it will help us to warm up on these very cold mornings. Overnight Oatmeal: Steel Cut oats cooked in milk and water, your choice of fruit (in this case Ida Red apples) cinnamon and maple syrup. Yum!

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And when nothing else was able to warm us up we indulged in a glass of this (Rhubarb Tea is on the agenda for spring.) It’s delicious and if you haven’t tried it yet you should grab a bottle, your sweetie and cuddle up under a blanket, preferably by a roaring fire.

Here’s to staying warm. Cheers!

December 18th

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Our Ameraucanas finally started laying in the last few days.

I’m inordinately excited about this newest farm event. After all they are just eggs, and we have been drowning in eggs for a while now. But these eggs, these eggs are green and hopefully, as more of these lovely ladies start laying, there will also be blue and pink ones, in many shades, joining them. I believe that this is my Solstice gift from the farm crew, and the universe.

I couldn’t be happier!

Yes, the one on the right is twice the size it should be, probably a double yoker, which seems to happen when they first start laying and are still working out the kinks. 

Where we’re at

“The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.”  -Laura Ingalls Wilder

The past few weeks have been a blur and the next few promise to be more of the same. It’s a busy time here on the farm, especially since it’s our first Autumn. No big posts are on the horizon but I like checking in and keeping everyone updated, so here is what we have been doing…

>Celebrating not one, not two but three birthdays. PJ, my mama and Kevin are all another year…wiser!

>Preparing for two new arrivals. It is very exciting and extremely nerve-racking, all at the same time.

>Anxiously awaiting the arrival of our first little calf, trying to soak up all the information and knowledge that we can about birthing and milking. All the while, knowing that we won’t truly “know” anything until we are in the thick of it.

>Picking, reorganizing and constantly shifting sheep breeding groups, on paper, in the hopes of getting spring lambs with the characteristics we are looking for.

>Desperately trying to get the girls back to laying after a sudden cold snap that made them stop, overnight!

>Trying to come to terms with the fact that we now have not one but two roosters in residents. Which is quite funny considering we paid extra for sexed chicks. (As long as they continue to behave and be respectful they can stay. If that changes they will quickly become dinner!)

>Working on getting Mum and Poppy to eat out of our hands and to let us give them a good pat or scratch.

>Thinking that the time spent last week carefully monitoring the weather for frost advisories was a complete waste of time. We were trying to strike that balance of soaking up more time to ripen the produce without losing it.

>Feeling fooled when we awoke to a frost, considering the weatherman said it wasn’t supposed to drop below 40 degrees overnight. Our best guess is the windstorm that unexpectedly blew through brought with it a windchill that dropped temperatures below freezing.

>Feeling sad that I lost all of the remaining basil to said frost.

>Feeling irritated that a good amount of squash got compromised by the frost and now, rather than tucking it away to use later in winter, I need to process it immediately.

>Prepping for next year’s sweet potato plot and how we are going to fight what ever it was (rodent?) that gnawed on     almost half of our crop, which rendered that half inedible for those of us of the human persuasion.

>Patting ourselves on the back for buying the pigs because they, my friends, ate all of those previously nibbled sweet potatoes after a careful trimming by us. In the end, we will eat that produce one way or another!

>Processing bushel after bushel of apples from our local apple orchard. Juice, applesauce and apple butter, oh my!

>Watching Kevin’s first go at hard apple cider bubble away upon the kitchen counter…teasing us!

>Searching for a local provider of organically grown pears and striking out.

>Desperate for those pears because I whipped up a delicious dessert this week and I need to tweak it so I can share it here.

>Finding others around us who are striving to live the way we are and feeling comfort in the fact that there are kindred spirits “nearby”.

>Considering adding a breeding flock of heritage breed turkeys to our motley mix of livestock.

>Contemplating other heating sources to use in the house, in order to alleviate our dependence on oil. I personally wish for a woodstove to sit beside and knit (or just create in general) at.

>Composting, plowing up and preparing to plant next springs garlic plot.

>Using the last of the previous years venison just as opening day of bow season arrived.

>Sending the hunters out with high hopes, feeling like it is still too early to expect any venison to be coming back in with them.

>Remembering that we have to stop at the local sugar house (who also happens to be a neighbor) to stock up on maple syrup since we’re almost out.

>Walking around our little bit of woods thinking that we should mark our own sugar maples and try our hand at tapping them this winter, just for fun.

>Savoring the last warm weather days that are sprinkled throughout fall, while also looking forward to the coming winters activities.

>Working hard at re-instituting a family rhythm that allows us to feel connected and grounded during these busy days we are now living.

>Feeling the pull of our quiet, winter routine and looking forward to attending to indoor activities that desperately need to be done. As well as, giving time to each of our individual creative outlets that we have missed so much during this busy summer and fall.

What is new and exciting in your neck of the woods?

The weekend

This weekend was a good one! We worked in the garden, tended the animals, went to our local arts festival, and spent time with, much missed, family. We put a dent in the list but, as usual, there is just more to be added. Ah, the life of wanna-be-farmers. Here are  some extra beautiful moments, from the past few days, that I wanted to share with you.

Kevin spotted them and I snapped the picture, just before they flew away.

The large egg in the front is our first full-sized egg from our girls.

…and when I broke it open for breakfast, out popped two yolks!

“Wow, when will I be that tall?”

Who knew it was this pretty close up?

This girl loves all of her animals.

Marigolds, a gift from our neighbor, whose daughter planted the original seeds when she was 3. She’s in her 30’s now!

In the garden at dusk. Great way to end a great weekend!

I’m working out a tomato recipe to share with you on Wednesday, so stop back and check it out. Hope everyone had a beautiful and relaxing weekend!

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.  

Catching up

I had been tossing around the idea of starting this blog for awhile, as a way to chronicle all the goings on around here. I kept coming up with reasons to put it off, “I can’t come up with a good name, I don’t have extra time to sit down and write” and many other excuse that are too numerous to count. Thanks to constant bugging prodding from Kevin and gentle nudges from other friends and family, here it is. So, I needed to find a good way to catch everyone up on what has happened here on the farm since last November and this picture post is what I came up with. My hope is to be able to focus, in more detail, on the individual aspects of our homesteading life in the coming weeks. You know, in the spare moments between preschooler requests, toddler needs, animal chores, garden weeding and harvesting, food preserving, meal making and all the other “to-dos” that come with this simple life.

I’m also slowly working on the look of the blog and have been constantly tweaking it, so, if it seems to change every time you stop back you’ll know why.

Okay, here you go, the quick version of the past 9 months here on the farm. The amount of time it will take you to look through the photos is about how fast it felt while we were actually living it. Time flies and all that, ya know?

A little bit of our little prairie, covered in a morning frost.

Not long after moving in we discovered that there were gorgeous sunsets almost every night.

The first animals to arrive at the farm were the guinea fowl (above) and 10 Cayuga ducks. (Below)

During the heat wave, in March, we were able to get a head start on tilling up the garden and Dad’s hops yard, with help from our neighbor down the street.

The veggie garden, which we calculate to be about 2/3 of an acre, plowed, tilled and ready to be planted.

Planting peas, the first seeds to go in the garden of our new homestead.

The next arrival on the farm was Lilac, our someday dairy cow. We bought her from an organic dairy farmer, her farm happens to be right around the corner from us.

Next to arrive were the heritage breed piglets who will be pasture raised to market weight and then put in the freezer. Any extra meat, exceeding what we can eat in a year, will be sold.

Here are the first three, of our now 18, Shetland sheep. From Left to right, Hershey, Dessie and Hope. They are here not only to eat grass, giving Kevin and Dad a break from constantly mowing, but to also provided me with fiber to process and spin into yarn. Hopefully, this will make feeding my knitting habit much less expensive.

The growing garden in May.

Some of our laying hens outside the mobile coop that Kevin built for them. One hen has started to lay tiny brown eggs.

Free ranging on pasture will make for tasty and healthy eggs.

The first pullet egg next to Henrietta’s pale blue egg. Henrietta is the Americauna hen we inherited from the previous owner.

Some goodies, picked from the garden just a few days ago.

What’s new in your neck of the woods?