Home & Garden

Laying hens out on the grain field.

Laying hens out on the grain field.

We just moved our laying hens out into the grain field!  This means that we can let them out of their coop since the grain field is fenced.  This is their first taste of freedom ever!  It's such a pleasure to see them scratching, digging and flapping.  They will be working hard until the snow flies cleaning up after the grain harvest.  They will find almost every last scrap of grain that may have fallen in the harvesting process.  They will also eat weed seeds before they get a chance to work into the soil.  Part of their foraging process is scratching.  They take a step forward and scratch once with each foot.  Then they back up one step and bend down for a look!  Sometimes they find seed and sometimes they find a bug!  Of course during all this they are also dropping nitrogen rich manure onto the earth.  I've read that this technique, which is normally done with hogs, is called "hogging down" the land.  I think we sh

Harvesting barley with a scythe!

Harvesting barley with a scythe!

We just harvested all of our barley.  I'm finding it VERY hard to grow barley and wheat organically.  It just gets overtaken by weeds no matter what I do.  Plus this year hurricane Irene really damaged a lot of the crop.  Next year I may try to use a mulching tecnique whereby you shred leaves and scatter them all over the field just after the barley shoots emerge.  This is supposed to help keep weeds down.  The chickens are enjoying the barley as I write this so I can't complain too much I guess!

A Newly Crowned Chef

A Newly Crowned Chef

Cooking as a business is brand new to me. I am risking a lot by throwing that out there but it's true.

Over two years ago I was grooming myself for a life in the medical field. I was convinced that there was something truly brilliant out there for me and that I was going to be someone very important. Then I met my husband: got married, had a baby, moved to Maine and forgot about all that crazy stuff. What I found here was enough to distract me from everything I once thought important. Beautiful scenery, a slower pace and more importantly, a greater connection to the food I eat. I started, much like a mad woman, trying all recipes out in the kitchen. I held huge dinner parties, an annual harvest party, I planted a garden, I bought some chickens and now, I am selling my food to all of you.

In this economy am I worried? Sure I am. You bet. But something really wonderful happened this past weekend and a little tiny light bulb went off.

Our first chicken dinner from the land!

Our first chicken dinner from the land!

It was an historic meal for us this weekend!  We had our first chicken dinner with a meat bird that we raised on our land!  For me this was the culmination of a LOT of research and work.  We decided to start small and slaughter a few birds on Saturday.  Of course I will spare you the gory details.  It's not fun to kill anything really but it is a necessary part of eating and I was prepared to do it before I ever got started with this idea.  So the processing of the birds went well and we are glad we started with just a few since we learned a LOT and now feel confident about the larger slaughter that's coming.  I roasted the bird and it was DELICIOUS!  We all enjoyed it!  It's is also a satisfying feeling to be able to provide for my family in such a direct and tangible way. 

I couldn't resist sharing how I cooked the bird so here is my own recipe.

NATE'S ROASTED CHICKEN WITH GRAVY!

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Preserving Beans and Beets!

It's time to start preserving the harvest on our little farm!  The other night my wife and I started the long process of preserving some of the food we've been growing.  Karen cleaned and froze green beans and I canned some beets.  I used a pressure canner which is always a bit nerve wracking but it worked flawlessly!  Enjoy the video!

Filling a meat bird feeder with a tube/chute!

The meat birds are growing fast and I wanted to share my method for adding feed to their feeder.  I made two feeders from a 4 foot section of PVC pipe split lengthwise.  Each half is then suspended from a single rope that goes through two pulleys.  This allows the feeders to remain inside the chicken tractor at all times which is helpful when moving the tractor.  The feed is then poured into each feeder through a long tube that starts at 1 1/2 inches at one end and steps up to three inch PVC pipe at the other end.  This allows me to fill each feeder from the outside of the coop which means I don't have to go INSIDE.  Believe me that's a plus!  The pulleys allow me to adjust the height of the feeders as the chics grow.  The pulleys also allow the feeders to self level.   Overall the system works pretty well and was fairly low cost to make.  Enjoy the video!