Thursday, December 1, 2016

Homemade Butter

At first Mookie did not seem to be giving much milk, I was barely getting two cups a day. After adding some loose minerals, some dairy ration to her normal hay ration she is providing about a quart give or take twice a day. We wasted no time in separating the cream from the milk and made fresh butter. The jar method was fun for the children but a butter churn would make easier work for sore arms, shake shake shake!

Back in action!

Well what can I say, it has been sometime since I blogged! Things have moved on here quite a bit since my last post. It is now December 1st, I cannot quite believe it.
Back in July we purchased a Dexter cow and calf called Mookie. The plan was to start milking Mookie as soon as I had built a suitable calf pen and milking area in the barn. Unfortunately it was mid November before I realized that her calf now 5 months old was way to big for the calf pen. The calf being a beef cross was no good for future milking so she was sold two weeks ago to a good home.
Since then I have milked Mookie twice a day and we are enjoying fresh milk, cream nd butter. I plan to make cheese when I get some supplies.

Enjoying the hay

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Beautiful bounty of bees

I am in awe of how beautifully adundant the wildlife is here. There is so much to see and take in, from little to large. It is one healthy and thriving ecosystem right in our own backyard!
Recently I went to see how my newly planted bushes were getting on and noticed the volume not only in bodies of bees but the volume of the loud buzzing they made whilst visiting the bush at the front of our house.
It makes me super excited about the prospect of our own bee's next Spring!

Nature is so beautiful :) We should cherish every moment.

Tightening the purse strings

Since our move we have come to realize just how much we benefited from growing our own garden and raising our own meat. I cannot fathom how one free range chicken can cost $25. Prices like this have shocked us, it has meant that our purse strings and budget have been working hard! Luckily, I am no stranger in feeding my family healthy and economically.
This was our latest meal, two days worth of leftovers which included a bit of pork chop, some homemade macaroni cheese with beans and roasted vegetables. I added some additional mushrooms, onion and garlic to the dish. Then, some mild curry paste and a couple of tablespoons of yogurt were added. Served on a nice thick piece of homemade brown bread.

Filling and Frugal

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Apples, apples and apples

Hear on the farm we are having a run on fallen apples. Most unfortunately have been eaten by ants, apple worms or wasps and not fit for use. These I am sure will appeal to the local bunch of apple eating deer. They are not fussy about what their apples look or taste like.
With somewhere around eight or nine apple trees around we are collecting the best of the best to make appley delights.
Today, we made these simple, rustic and beautiful apple pies. The two smaller pies were made by the two youngest children, one of which wanted a handful of wild picked blueberries in there too!

The apples were cut into chunks and the larger pie was sprinkled with dark sugar before baking, yummy :)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The latest feathery additions

Our poultry numbers are on the increase with the addition of 20 meat chicks and 10 guinea fowl keets. A couple of meat chick hens will no doubt be added to out heritage layer flock for future production but the rest, well, lets say they will have a happy life for a short while.
The guinea fowl will willingly gobble up the ticks, pesky mosquitoes and anything else that crosses their path. They bring much joy to our new homestead :)

Peeking Guinea!

Beautiful Goldenrod

Since our move here to Nova Scotia we have been amazed at the abundance and variety of wild flowers around, not only on our property but all over. We were used to seeing pesky weeds and crop sprayers that killed most wild flowers, shame.
These beautiful flowers are a huge food source for bees, wasps and butterflies. The Goldenrod is not only a wild food for the local insect population but also a wonderful food for us and boasts many medicinal properties. It is thriving on our property among a Smorgasbord of other amazing wild food sources. I intend to check out the edible parts in the next few days.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Cherry Trees

Despite our drought and limited planting we did have three cherry tress that needed to be put in the ground. It has been very hot and humid and not kind planting weather for human or plant kind.
Today we finally mustered up the courage, and heavily laden with drinks we planted the cherry tree's. One Bing Cherry, one Stella Cherry and one Montmorency Cherry.

Start of the Orchard

Hopefully, in a couple of years time if they survive they will start to produce some wonderfully tasting cherries. I cannot wait!

Rain Dance and Water Recycling

We are currently in a drought, we have seen little to no rain for some weeks and this is causing problems with our new planting scheme that has unfortunately slowed down due to lack of water to water the newly planted enough for their survival.
We are now in emergency water recycling mode to at least try to save the garden and our latest additions from a dry death.
We are saving the water from washing up, scooping it out of the sink and using that on the garden. We are putting the plug in when we shower and using the bath water after bathing. This is the only way that we can conserve the water supply in our well and water the thirsty plants outside. We use natural washing up liquid so we don't need to worry about poisoning anything either!
We hope that we do not need to resort to jigging a very loud rain dance in the backyard, not only would that send the local deer population running for cover but it may also upset the family feline apple cart.
Lets hope for rain soon!

 As you can see from the photographs are garden area is so dry, even deep into the ground.

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Few Fishy Tails!

We are very lucky to have a few lakes that are within a short drive of our home, one of which is is less than five minutes away. After much talking about it we finally got the canoe and double kayak out on the water. We have been fishing from the shore with mixed luck, some days we would catch one or two smallish fish and on some days non.
The lake is teeming with fish, this is both good and bad! The bad side is the fish in question happen to be Bass and they are not fussy about what they eat, including the poor native species of fish that were once plentiful. So it would not be wrong to say a problem fish.
On the good side they are quite easy to catch, their greedy nature helps with that! We simply trolled a rooster tail lure behind the kayak and the canoe and the eager fish did the rest.

Cleaned and ready to cook

The fish were cleaned and sliced to allow the lemony thyme garlic butter I made soak into the them.

BBQ Fish ready to eat

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Beautiful Bounty of Wild Blueberries

Recently we discovered that our acreage is home to quite a few wild blueberry bushes, quite a few is probably a bit of an understatement. These sweet and plentiful berries are a lovely addition to our self-sufficient lifestyle.

Wild and Free

After a recent hot and humid  pick I made a simple but satisfying pudding -

Blueberry Grunt -
4 cups of blueberries
1/4 cup of runny honey
1/2 cup of water
2 cups of flour
2 tbsp of butter
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 to 1/2 cups of milk

In a pan gently heat the blueberries, water and honey until there is lots of juice and the blueberries start to break down.
Pour into a large cooking dish
Mix the butter into the flour until it resembles course breadcrumbs, add sugar and baking powder and then enough milk to form a soft dropable dough (it will fall of a spoon!)
Drop spoonfuls of the dough onto the hot blueberry mix and bake for 15 minutes on 350 degrees.
Serve hot!

The fruits of our labour!

Pending New Arrivals

In a few weeks time we we be welcoming an 8 year old Dexter cow and her 6 week old heifer calf to our homestead. She will be our future source of delicious milk with which we will make an abundance of tasty goodies.
She is currently awaiting the romance of a Durham bull, so we can be assured cross fingers she will produce a good beef calf next Spring and we will have a good milk supply. We are all excited about the prospects of finally becoming free of purchasing dairy products from the store!
Watch this space for further updates!

Mookie and Summer

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Garlic Scape Pesto and Broccoli

Recently on my sister Facebook page (link on here) I penned a small article about bolted broccoli. Sadly bolted broccoli seems to end up on the compost heap or garbage, and fed to livestock which is fine but I prefer to use it in the kitchen. Folk seem to be afraid of those longer stems and yellow flowers but we are a hardy bunch and don't mind a bit of extra chew in our broccoli.
I made a delicious and simple pesto which was gently heated in a large frying pan, then the bolted broccoli was stir fried until just tender.

Pesto -
1 large handful of garlic scapes
1 small handful of nuts (I used cashews but walnuts work well too as do other nuts, experiment)
Extra virgin olive oil, enough to allow easy blending
A squeeze f fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

This pesto is also very good with crackers and cheese, especially for those raw garlic lovers!

Served here with turmeric roast potatoes and carrots

Friday, July 15, 2016

Fish Pie

We are overwhelmed here on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, our new province and new home by the variety and cheaper cost of the most freshest fish and seafood we have seen for a very long time. It is a fish and seafood lovers dream!
We enjoyed a fish pie for mealtime the other night, it was a frugal and inexpensive dish that lasted two meals.
The bottom of the pie was a simple white sauce made with softened onions, garlic, flour, butter and milk. I cooked a piece of cod, haddock and striped bass until just tender and flaked it into the white sauce. This fishy mixture was put into a square cooking dish and topped with a mashy mix of potato, swede and cauliflower. The swede and cauliflower was a little past its best but was good in the mash. The final touch before baking was a generous sprinkle of cheese and once cooked a scattering of fresh parsley.
A fresh, fishy and frugal meal in itself :)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Starting from scratch

It is hard to leave a garden that has sustained you and your family so well for many years to start over again with literally a blank canvas, in our case pasture. However, it is also a great and exiting challenge to start over in a new Province. Here in Nova Scotia we have a much friendlier climate and the opportunity to grow more delicate crops is there for us. We have big plans for our acreage, and with a small start already made progress will be steady.

Small Scale

It is a huge job digging the pasture for a garden but we have made a start, we have planted an area of blueberries and honey berries too. 

Work to do! 

Just a small section of what we have to work with. With a lot of hard work we will transform this into a productive garden, orchard, herb and soft fruit paradise.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Not so rusty fishing rods!

During our eight years in Manitoba and to our disappointment our fishing rods saw little action and our fishing tackle box was rarely opened. We have been in our new Province of Nova Scotia for three weeks now and we are amazed how much fishing we have done. Both freshwater and saltwater fish have joined us for supper on regular occasions. Caught, cleaned and cooked within a short time of being caught. Fresh wonderful fish!

Twelve Mackerel ready to cook

Frying in a cast iron pan on a camping stove near the beach

There was nothing better than eating these wonderful fresh fish sitting with the smell of sea air in our nostrils. Absolutely delicious served with homemade buns!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Blogging Delay

Hey folks, I have not been blogging for a little while as things here have been hectic! I am unlikely to write much if at all over the next few weeks as we are on the move. But, I will get right back to it as soon as I have a moment and my head is not buried in boxes!

Monday, April 25, 2016

The warm and the wind!

It would appear that Spring has Sprung and Summer is just over the horizon here in Manitoba, all be it windy at the moment. I am busy busy busy with all sorts hobby farm hence my distinct lack of blogging! My first batch of eggs went into the incubator yesterday, a barnyard mix of heritage breeds that should produce some wonderfully varied dual purpose breeds. I now need to wait 10 days until I can candle the eggs in order to see what is good and what is not.
In about two weeks time I will start to collect more eggs for the second batch. Hopefully in that group there will be some duck and maybe turkey eggs! Watch this space.
My tomatoes and chili plants are growing in leaps and bounds, and over the next wee or so we will start to get the potatoes in the ground. All go, but we love it!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes and Chilies

The tomato and chili seeds I planted indoors a couple of weeks ago are growing well. There is a few weeks to go yet before I can plant my 52 tomato plants of different variety and 25 chili plants of different variety outside.
I have started two weekly waterings with an organic plant food and we have been crushing egg shells onto the soil in the greenhouse, tomatoes and chilies love calcium.

All of these plants are heritage varieties, they will have different size fruit, varying taste and color and will be used in all sorts of different ways. I cannot wait to try them all!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Homemade Macaroni Cheese

Here in Canada the amount of packet Macaroni Cheese that gets eaten is phenomenal, it is a huge mainstay for many families. It is unfortunately full of cancer causing colors and flavors that just do not need to be in something so simple an easy, a meal with very few ingredients. Here is my version of this classic tasty favorite.

1 packet of macaroni or elbow pasta (about 225g) We use organic pasta
2 oz of unsalted butter
 2 tbsp of white flour or cornstarch
4 cups of milk
1 1/2 cups of grated cheese

Fill a large pan bring some water to a boil and add the pasta, cook for about 10 to 15 minutes until just tender.
Whilst the pasta is cooking place the butter, flour or cornstarch and milk into a pan and cook on low until thickened, make sure you stir it or it will be lumpy. Once the mixture has started to thicken add the cheese and mix until well combined. Season with pepper and take off the heat.
Once the pasta is ready, drain well. Watery pasta will make the sauce to thin.
Add the cheese sauce to the pasta combining well. Put the macaroni cheese in a large baking dish and sprinkle with extra grated cheese and some Parmesan cheese (optional)
Grill until bubbly and serve
This will serve 6 and leave leftovers!

Simple and Satisfying

It takes very little time or effort to make this dish. It really is worth making. Enjoy proper Macaroni Cheese without hurting out health. It is good on the budget too!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Gravy Goes Wrong!

On occasion when I roast a chicken I place a lemon half in the cavity, and sometimes when I slow cooker a chicken I add a lemon half to the liquid. It adds a nice citrus zing to the finished gravy.
I found out that adding a lime half to the slow cooker liquid adds a nice zesty flavor to the chicken, however it gave the gravy an awful bitter taste that was quite gross.
But, not to waste I saved the bitter gravy and some pasta water and made a soup with it.

Making the Soup

The soup had a few leftover potatoes in and some stale bread to thicken it. Once cooked I added the scrap chicken meat and pureed the soup.

Not bitter at all

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Planting Done

After many weeks of waiting to get my tomato and chili seeds started indoors I finally got them done. There were eleven different varieties of heritage tomatoes and five varieties of chilies. Hopefully they will start to germinate over the next couple of weeks. Chili's always seem to be a bit finicky so any that do germinate need lots of care. I will write about chili care in a later blog when I have some to show.

Little and Large

Every so often upon collecting eggs we get a surprise. In this case it was a mini duck egg, I think it was one of my Khaki Campbell ducks who started laying this year. It takes a bird a little while sometimes to get into the right egg laying mode so mix ups and odd egg sizes can happen until the bird gets into a regular cycle.

Baby Egg

The larger egg is a normal size duck egg! The baby egg had a tiny little yolk but more white.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Little Green Heads

A few weeks ago I decided that our greenhouse may be warm enough to try a few little rows of seeds, spinach and lettuce. The rows were small as I did not want to waste seed, if they did not grow nothing would be lost and if they did we would enjoy a very early crop. To my surprise there was a few little green heads poking through on investigation yesterday! We still have some cold weather to get through so it will be interesting to see how they fair. I may plant a few extra rows and some radish seeds.

Little Lettuce

Small Spinach

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Goodness!

It would not be Easter without some scrumptious homemade Hot Cross Buns. I would usually make them with white flour but as we have run out I had to use wholemeal. I am sure they will taste fine, just a bit more texture.

Happy Easter

The cross was not as white as you would normally see, I use organic white sugar which does have a slightly different color when ground up.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Pizza Supper

I recently made a big pot of smoked ham and tomato soup, and although the soup lasted for quite a few meals I always try to squeeze a couple more. After whizzing the soup up I strain it and keep all the bits and bobs left to make something else. In this case it was pizza.
Once the pizza dough has risen, rolled and put on the pizza pans I use the soup leftovers as the sauce base.

Soup Leftover Base

 Spread the soup leftovers over the base

Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Mozza

Mozza and Chedder

Add the topping of choice and bake for 30 minutes or so until bubbly and browned. Yum Yum!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Pretty Eggs

We have quite a few varieties of chickens around and a couple of duck breeds, this mix of breeds makes for a pretty egg carton. I was going to add some further heritage breeds to our flock this year but with our possible relocation to another province I decided not to bother. We will just stick with the girls and boys we have now :)

Some of the hens eggs and their color variations

Egg type from the top working in a clockwise fashion -
White Leghorn cross Ameraucana
Ameraucana Cross
Muscovy Duck, at the bottom
White Leghorn
Golden Laced Wyandotte

Oh Snow!

Well it happened, and we knew it would. Yesterday, there was very little snow to be seen. This morning we were greeted with this.

The Drive

Garden Path

Far View

 Despite the snow fall we do expect it to thaw over the next few days as the temperatures get to about plus 4 with sun.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Very Early Planting

It is way too early to even consider planting anything outside yet but to my surprise whilst doing a greenhouse inspection I noticed how warm in there it was, in fact it was that warm I had to wear a short sleeve. This made me wonder if trying an early crop of spinach and lettuce was worth a go. So out came the seed box and I planted some small rows of spinach and some rows of lettuce. The only trouble is watering the seeds was a bit of a problem, our hosepipes are still totally frozen and the greenhouse is a trip across the yard, a bit far for carrying buckets of water.
We have a few pockets of deeper snow still left, so I covered the planted areas with. The heat in the greenhouse will melt the snow thus providing the water!
However, when all the snow has gone I will have to go back to the drawing board.
I may also see what else I could try to plant, maybe radish?

Friday, March 11, 2016

A Few Large Puddles

We are having a abnormal thaw here in Southern Manitoba at the moment, quite a fast thaw in fact. All the snow melt is creating a large amount of deep puddles which may be a slight nuisance to us but it is the best thing in the world for the ducks!