The Bros decided to raise turkeys for the Thanksgiving season. They are outside making pipping noises and chirps as they wander around their pen eating grain and grass and insects. At night they go into the truck cap. As they get older they will want to roost. The Bros have built this handy hut that should let all 20+ of them roost safely.

The turkeys and their night time quarters are on the pasture in a large netting fence. The fence slows predators from getting in and the turkeys from getting out. We regularly move the fencing so that they get fresh pasture and they spread their droppings for us increasing the nitrogen in the pasture.

Spring Pigs – Fall Pork

In March four piggies joined our farm. They were born on another small farm, one that we have purchased piglets from before. Three of these are for our fall pork supply, and one will be a sow so that the Bros. can breed and raise their own piglets. Of course, at first as seen in this pic, they were more inside than out.

Now they live outdoors in this brushy area. They root and open the spaces up, especially when we throw corn down on the ground. Mostly though, we feed them lightly ground organic grains from Gianforte Farm in Cazenovia.

Here is the feeder we use, and yes, it is rachet-strapped to the fence and a t-post. Pigs are strong animals singly, and working as a team either intentionally or not, can move things in ways we don’t want them to. In this case, they would dump the feeder, and the feed would get wasted on the ground. So we secure the feeder to the fence to minimize the waste.

Here are two of the pigs, the ones that came to find me as I was taking pics. I love to see a tightly curled tail on any pig: to me that means a happy, healthy pig.

Only What We Produce – 1 week

Recently we had a week that we tried to eat only what we grew or raised or hunted ourselves. Protein-wise we would be fine – we have beef, chicken, pork, goat, venison, and eggs. Fruit wise we have pears. Apples and peaches might also be ready. And there was the wild plum tree, wild grapes, and maybe elderberries. Veggies were available – green beans, Swiss chard, red and sugar beets and beet greens, summer squash, zucchini, edemame, onions, garlic, carrots, grape and yellow pear tomatoes. We have oregano, sage, rosemary, and mint for flavoring. Honey and maple syrup would be the sweeteners. Black walnuts are somewhere. (We didn’t find them, so they weren’t used.) Starches and fats would be the weak link. We had a few potatoes; we did grow wheat this spring, so could grind that; we had beef tallow and could process pork lard. We had milk, but not enough to get cream for butter. Salt was allowed as needed/wanted.

Suppers/dinners were fine. At first they were more involved. As time went on, they became 1 pot stir fries. We like salads, so raw carrots and tomatoes were the munchies that served as a salad.

  • Monday – fried Zucchini planks, raw thinly sliced summer squash with sage and tallow, sauteed beens and herbs, seared and roasted London broil
  • Tuesday – baked zucchini, tomatoes, with milk and eggs over top
  • Wednesday – sauteed ground beef, green beans, summer squash, Swiss chard
  • Thursday – roasted chicken over sliced potatoes; cornmeal mush
  • Friday – chicken leftover veggie soup, made with chicken broth and cream and milk
  • Saturday – hamburger patties, with tomatoes as bun, veggies on the side
  • Sunday – seared and roasted chuck roast, sauteed veggies

At first I tried to saute things in lard like I would in olive oil – lots of lard. That was too much lard. So I would use lard to start the veggies and then I would add chicken broth to add moisture.

Breakfasts and lunches are make-it-yourself. However, we have lots of oats and bread and granola that can be part of the make-it-yourself and these were not available. We did have wheat that we ground into whole wheat flour. This was mixed with milk and eggs to make crepes, pancakes, flat bread (chapatis), or quick bread if you add fruits or meats and veggies. If you beat your eggs or your egg whites and then mix it with the rest of the batter, it will be more of a raised bread. We also had 1 batch of cornmeal mush.

Things we missed – oats, oatmeal, granola, dried fruit, olive oil, butter, lettuce.

All in all, it worked out well. After one week 5 of us stopped, but 3 continued for about another week. As I was no longer cooking just what we produced, this became make-it-yourself for all three meals. But they made it work! We will probably try this again and aim for 2 weeks next time.

Pasture Plants

We raise our cows on pasture. This time of year there are many plants in addition to the grasses.

Do you know the names of these pasture flowers or plants?

Check below to see how you did!

Some of these we are glad to see – trefoil, chicory, amaranth. Others, like burdock or ragweed, we prefer not to see! Want to know more about goldenrod and ragweed? Tap here!

Ragweed OR Goldenrod

The ragweed allergy season is upon us! One way to reduce the allergies is to reduce the allergen. This plant in the middle is ragweed. (Pink flowers are knapweed.)

Here is a good look at the leaves with small flower buds on top.

This is a look at other flowers of a plant.

And here is the whole plant by the roadside with pink flower (knapweed) and blue flower (chicory) in the background.

Here is a stand of goldenrod starting to flower. You can see hints of yellow on the top of the green.

Goldenrod leaves are more pointed as seen in this pic.

And the flowers start out more yellow.

As these plants mature and the flowers flesh out more, we will add pics, at least of the goldenrod. The ragweed probably will be cut as we have several that are allergic to it in our home.

Zucchini Pizzas

This is a recipe in progress. You use large zucchinis cut into circles and lightly cooked; next top with sauce, cheese and other toppings; then bake until soft and cheese is melted; finally eat and enjoy!

Ever wonder what to do with those large zucchinis? We recently turned them into mini-pizzas. Here is how we did it:

We cut the zucchini into rounds (a large zucchini gave us about 20 slices) and drizzled them with olive oil, placing them on an oiled sheet. We cooked these at 400F for 9 minutes. Probably they should have been cooked longer, so that they could soften. OR they could have been steamed for 4-8 minutes to also soften them. They will cook more in the next step, but before adding toppings they need to be no longer raw.

Then we flipped them over, covered with a tomato sauce (whatever you use for pizza sauce), and put thinly sliced mozzarella and cheddar cheese on top. (Shredded cheese or other pizza topping would work as well.) We cooked this until the cheese melted and the zucchini was soft.

And that was dinner!

Wild Plum Tree

While looking through the brush where the goats are clearing we found this tree. It has some wild grapes on it. Looking closer we saw that it was some sort of fruit tree. Inside the fruit we found plum pits. So we have a wild plum tree!

Fruit Tree Quiz

Do you know your fruit trees or bushes by their shape and look? Let’s see!

What did you come up with? Below is a pic of the fruit with its name.

Most of these are not ripe yet. And as we only have a tree or two of each, they will just be used by the family.

Animal Power to our Benefit – Goats

We have some brushy areas that we would like to reclaim. Goats are perfect for helping us in this venture. Goats like to eat grass and hay. They especially enjoy supplementing it with browse – leaves, twigs, other plant matter. So we have moved the goats and their houses into this brushy section.

The goats live in this overgrown area nibbling here and there over several weeks. In time we hope the area will get eaten down making it easier for us to get a brush hog in and finish the process of reclaiming this area.

Yellow Flower – Be Careful with this One!

This time of year we have a lot of this yellow flower. It is wild parsnip. In the ground is a root that we could harvest in the fall and eat. It might be smaller than domesticated parsnip, but it is still parsnip. And the yellow flower is pretty, sort of resembling a white Queen Anne’s lace.

The part to be careful of is the sap. When the square stem is broken, it lets out a sap that will burn or blister the skin when exposed to sunlight. The skin gets clear fluid blisters that are itchy. The fluid from the blisters doesn’t spread the blisters. And repeat exposure year after year doesn’t increase the blistering, like it does with poison ivy. To treat the blisters, we find it best to avoid itching them and to dry them with witch hazel.

We commonly get the blisters on our feet and ankles. Why? Well, we are mostly always in our bare feet. After wild parsnip patches are mowed or weed wacked, the sap is still wet. When we walk through these areas, we get the blisters on our feet. It takes a while for the blisters to heal. After the skin is healed there is still a discoloration left behind that takes several months to go away. If we were to break and weed these with our bare hands, then we would have the blisters on our hands. That would be really painful!

Several years ago I was talking to a native friend who remembered harvesting these in her teen years with her aunt. When they harvested them, one of the instructions was to be careful of the stems and the sap from the stems. My friend didn’t remember any other explanation – Just be careful!

Wild parsnip patch in the middle of the pic along the fence row