Homestead Magic

Yesterday morning I woke up to heavy fog. As the sun rose, it tinted the fog with a sort of pastel pinkish-orange color. I went out to take a few photos and saw that raindrops had frozen on the bare branches of trees. It was gorgeous. I love fog. I think that it makes the world mysterious.

When I opened the curtains this morning, I was surprised to see a very snow-covered world. It, too, was very beautiful. Throughout the morning, I watched the snow fall from the trees, power lines, and fences in small avalanches.

With our mild winter and Spring approaching, I’ve been trying to remember to bring in the suet feeder every evening so the raccoons–and possibly bears–don’t get into it. Often I forgot. I forgot last night and about 10:30 pm EJ heard raccoons fighting over it. We chased the ‘coons away and I went out and retrieved the suet feeder.

Yesterday EJ and I made homemade butter for the first–but not last–time. EJ had done the research so he was the job boss, but I want to learn how to make it too so I watched him closely.

When I told my friend that we were going to make homemade butter, she said she imagined me on my front porch using an old-fashioned butter churn. It’s a quaint image, but these are modern times. All we had to do is pour a quart of heavy cream into a food processor and puree it for about 5 minutes. We watched in awe as the heavy cream thickened through various stages until it turned into butter! It was like alchemy. Like magic.

When the butter was finished, we poured out the buttermilk, which I later used to make homemade biscuits–with homemade butter on it. EJ took the butter out of the processor and used paddles to squeeze more buttermilk out of the butter. We actually don’t have real butter paddles so we used what we had: two holey spoons. Later he tried a small breadboard and a flat wooden spoon to see which worked better. After EJ squeezed all the liquid out that he could, he rinsed the butter in cold water until the water running out was not cloudy. Then he had to squeeze the butter again to remove excess water. Next, he put the butter into a butter mold. We don’t actually have any butter molds so we used very small loaf pans.

We are going to buy, make, or improvise better butter paddles and molds. We also want to find a local farm to buy the heavy cream from (as well as other dairy items) that doesn’t have a bunch of unpronounceable additives in it. Until then, we just bought heavy cream from the grocery store. We’d also like to buy meat from local farms as well as vegetables that we can’t grow ourselves. We’d like to get away from the grocery stores as much as possible, although realistically we also have to take price into consideration.

EJ also made homemade baloney yesterday. He started with ground top sirloin, added suet he had made a few months ago, and mixed in a few spices and quick cure. He is baking it now as I write this post.

Meanwhile, I baked egg shells, which can be broken up and given to chickens as a source of calcium. I divided up the egg shells and tried various methods to bake them: I put some in the oven on low heat, some in our little toaster oven, and some in the dehydrator. We don’t just use our dehydrator to dry herbs. We also thaw ground beef in it when we forget to take the meat out of the freezer, we raise bread dough in it with a bowl of water so the dough doesn’t dry out, and we use it as a bread box when it’s not otherwise in use. We often like to try different methods and products to learn which is the best. As a result of my test of eggshell drying methods, I decided to start eggshells in the dehydrator to dry the shells because otherwise they stick on surfaces. I then put them in the toaster oven to finish up. The stove oven would work well except it takes a long time and uses propane. We try to be frugal about our propane usage since it’s expensive and we have to have it delivered.

EJ and I really enjoy trying new things and working together in the kitchen.

On Friday I got an email about Chick Days from one of the local farm stores. Chick Days are when people can buy chicks through the farm stores. We plan to incubate our own eggs so we aren’t interested in Chick Days…but then I saw that the email said there are 190 different breeds of chickens. Seriously? Curious, I opened it to look through the list. Big mistake. I saw something called a Black Jersey Giant which is an intriguing name. I look it up on the Internet and ended up reading about huge chicken breeds. We have New Hampshire and Rhode Island Reds, but it would be so cool to get a few giant chickens like Black Jerseys. The minimum we could buy at this particular store is five. At other stores the minimum is 10. EJ and I keep telling ourselves how cool it would be…but then reminding ourselves that we already have good chickens, and plan to incubate more, and we really don’t need giants. We are a little tempted. We don’t need giant chickens.

Have you heard of chicken math? Chicken math is like 410. It’s when you plan to get a few chickens–say, four–but then end up buying 10, 20, 30, and sometimes even adding a few ducks, turkeys, guinea hens, etc. It’s extremely difficult to resist the temptation of adding more than you intended or planned. I should never have opened the email from the farm store.

At least we aren’t buying an elephant.

A few years ago, I kept kidding EJ that we needed to get a cow, or goat, or horse, or donkey, or sheep…After I listed each animal, he would say, “No! We don’t need it!” So then I said, “We need an elephant.” He surprised me when he exclaimed, “That would be so COOL!” So now sometimes we sometimes joke about how cool it would be to own an elephant. We aren’t serious. Where would we put it?

Giant chickens are smaller than elephants.

2 Comments on “Homestead Magic

  1. I have never heard of those giant chickens! They would be really cool to have! Fortunately for my husband, our garden is way too small for them. I love chickens……I’m sure I’d be tempted too!


    • I love chickens too. And there are so many interesting breeds. I’m really trying hard not to give in to temptation!

      Liked by 1 person

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