The family on Cedar Lane Farm

The family on Cedar Lane Farm
These are the people I love! That's my sweet mama in the middle. I wonder what she's thinking.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Am I a Homesteader? I sure hope I am!

Millions of Americans have joined the band wagon in getting back to the land, growing their own food, (or at least knowing where it came from) exercising, and just "doing the right thing".  I am no exception, except the exercising.  For the last five years, or so, John and I have made strides in creating and building our homestead here in Central Missouri.  In the past, we've had sheep and goats.  We have moved on from those two species due to them not being a good fit for us.  Now we have beef and dairy cows.  We also have chickens for meat and eggs. 

In addition to our livestock, we have been working on building an orchard.  So far, our orchard sports a peach tree, two apple, one pear, two cherry and three plum.  The late frost got all of my apple tree blooms, so it was bare.  My peach tree found the same fate.  Our cherry tree gave us a handful of fruit,  and our pear tree will give us about 10 pears.  But that's ok!  Our orchard is only about 3 years young.  We also planted four blueberry bushes last fall, and they don't seem to be growing at all.  This fall, I will heavily mulch them with seasoned manure and a layer of mowed leaves. 

The garden gave us corn, green beans, okra, cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, jalapeno peppers.  We canned that bounty.  Hopefully, next year will be bigger and better.  But, I'm satisfied and thankful for what we did get.   I also processed two bushels of peaches from the local farmers market. 

The milk cow gives us more than we ever imagined.  Fresh milk, heavy cream.  With that, we make our own butter, cheese, whey.....and I can my excess milk.  That canned milk can be used for gravy, pancakes, and other recipes calling for milk...even pumpkin pie!

Fall is coming soon.  We will soon be working on the wood pile.  We bought our hay for the winter and have it under cover.  We might even put a few of the older hens in the freezer.   I feel good.  We feel good.  I'm thankful. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

New to the family......

Meet Bambi!  Bambi is a 13 month old jersey heifer and she will be joining our farm on Tuesday.  I am very excited to have found this gem.  While in Houston MO, at my daughter's high school softball tournament, I called the number on the ad.  The advertisement was enticing...."13 month old.....gorgeous....ready to on is extraordinary..."  And, being that close to the owner, I had to go look.  Boy, am I glad I did.  Bambi is a fantastic-looking heifer.  See for yourself.....


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Homemade "Rotel" tomatoes

During the cold winter months, we eat a lot of hearty meals such as chili with cornbread and taco soup.  It just sticks to your ribs and makes you feel all happy inside.  Last summer, a friend of mine shared with me her recipe for homemade "rotel" tomatoes.  You can buy Rotel tomatoes in your grocery store.  That is the brand name.  They're very good, but they're not homemade.  And, when I can make something myself, I try to do so.

Today, my countertops were covered (and I mean covered) with jalapeno peppers and tomatoes from my garden.  Since I ran out of rotels last year, I decided to make another large batch.  Here's how I do it.

1 gallon tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 green bell peppers, chopped
7 to 10 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped (7 for medium or 10 for hot)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 Tbl canning salt

How 'bout a few pictures?

Chop all of your peppers and onions in small pieces.

I like to peel my tomatoes by scalding them in boiling water til the skins begin to crack.  Then, the skins peel off easily!

 Put all ingredients into large pot and bring to a boil.   Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

Look at all of those delicious colors!

After 30 minutes, everything just comes together.
 Put rotel mixture into prepared jars.  I use the 8 oz jelly jars, as it is the same size as the store-bought cans which are used in my recipes.  Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  This recipe will fill  approximately 12 of the small 8 oz jars.  Sometimes more, sometimes less.    I guess it depends on how juicy your tomatoes are? 

Look at that!
Now, all of those tomato peels can either be dehydrated and ground into a powder for use in stews and soups, be fed to the chickens, or put on the compost pile.  See, no waste!  Now, if you're like me, you didn't read the entire recipe before you began.  If that's the case, your fingers will be burning about now because you didn't wear gloves when you chopped the jalapenos. 

Enjoy, my friends......


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Another lesson learned, the hard way

My sweet Cinnamon ( my Jersey milk cown) is sick.  She hasn't been feeling well for two days now.  Yesterday morning when we went out to milk, she had no milk.  The calf (June) was spry and happy.  We figured June drank it all and was letting us know it by her antics in the field.  Cinnamon wouldn't come in to the barn.  We thought it odd, but figured we'd just chalk it up to the calf needing more. 

We took a trip yesterday afternoon to the local feed store to stock up on her dairy feed, and for the second time this week, they were out.  Once again, they sent us home with a beef cattle mix.........ok then.

Yesterday afternoon, Cinnamon was looking like she wasn't feeling well.  She wouldn't eat, the water trough wasn't missing any water, and she hung her head a bit.  We all have days when we don't feel well, right?  I felt her ears, no fever.  She seemed as if she had worked all day and just wanted to be left alone for a good long nap.  Well, for John, that's ok.....for a dairy cow, it's not.  It's a sign of illness.

Upon checking in with her again last night, we knew something was not right, and decided to call the vet first thing this morning if she wasn't better.  So, after a long and sleepless night for me, this morning she was worse.  It took me a long time to get her up.  After an hour of prodding, and waiting for the fog to lift (I thought I'd just throw that fog comment in), she finally got up around 7:00 am.  She wouldn't eat or drink.  She had no milk.  I called the vet. 

Well, he just left.  He gave her a calcium drench.  A calcium drench is basically shoving a tube down a cow's throat and pumping in gallons and gallons of a white chalky substance that looks like milk of magnesia.  Two grown men vs a 1000 pound sick cow.   Get the picture?  Mr. vet says that Cinnamon should be feeling much better by tonight. 

Changing her feed, to a second-rate feed to tide her over until her good stuff came in, proved to be the reason for her calcium deficiency problem.  Dairy cows with a calcium deficiency will show signs of joint pain (which she had), milk production decrease (which she had), along with the not eating/drinking/feeling well.........

The vet also "pumped her full of antibiotics" due to the raging pasture pneumonia in our area....just as a precaution.  So, we were told to "dump the milk for 3 days."  I can do that.  What I will NOT do is feed her anything but the best grain, ever again.  We have always given her the best grain, the best alfalfa hay, and the cleanest water.  To have the healthy, happy cows...we must do this.   If the feed store runs out again, down the road I will go.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Another year goes by

Yesterday, I celebrated my birthday, as well as my 27th wedding anniversary.  Yes, I got married on my birthday!  My husband and I had dinner last night together, just the two of us, and we really enjoyed it.  I love being with him.  We never hesitated for anything to say.  Yes, we talked about the kids.  Yes, we talked about the cow, the chickens (and what's eating them), and our day at work.  It was nice.  We laughed a little and really enjoyed each other's company. 

I often think about the numerous dinners we had with all three kids.  Those were the days!  Crying, fighting, puking and just being noisy.....  Now, as we get older, and the kids are growing up and moving away, it's different.  Different in a good way.  It's our time.  I'm looking forward to 27 more wonderful years with him. 


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Back to Skool

School starts here next week.  We live in a pretty poor county here in Missouri, and a lot of our families depend on assistance.  Traditionally, our county has held a "back to school fair" of sorts, whereby children of low income families can get free school supplies.  Well, this year with budget cuts, the "fair" was part of the cuts that the county had to make.

So, I challenged my church family to purchase $20  in school supplies.  I emailed everyone that I could think of, attached the school supply list which was on the school website and made the challenge. I promised that I would deliver the supplies to the school a couple of days prior to school starting.  Within minutes, I started receiving email replies.  "I accept your challenge!" or "Count me in!"  and even "I am mailing you my check, you do my shopping!".  I couldn't believe the results! 

This week, my Sunday School classroom (which is where I asked them to deliver their supplies) was filling up with bags and bags of pencils, glue, paper, rulers, backpacks........ 

I'm not telling you this to "toot my own horn".  I'm telling you this in hopes that you will do something for someone in need.  The need is great.  As Christians, we should not just talk the talk, but rather walk the walk.  If you are able, give.  Inspire others to give.  Most of the time, people are looking for a way to give.  But, they don't know what to do.  By only asking, my church family has really come through.  I will be so proud to make that delivery to the school! 

Other things you can do; Take dinner to an elderly couple who might be struggling with their health.  Go visit someone who is lonely.  Mail a letter to an inmate, be an encourager. 


Friday, August 5, 2011

Paying attention

I'm a few years away from the half-century mark, so naturally I'm beginning to pay close attention to my health.  For the last five years or so, my husband of 26 years and I have been nurturing the long process of building our homestead.  Our idea of this is mostly producing our own food (as much as humanly possible), because I want to know where our food comes from.  In this process, we garden, can the harvest, raise our own grass-fed beef.  We have a Jersey cow, so naturally we have our own fresh milk, butter and cheese.  Our chickens give us fresh eggs.  And, if you read my last post, we are trying to raise our own chicken for the freezer, but the coons just wiped our  hopes for this year. 
Farm fresh, free-range, delicious eggs!

Lately, my blogging friends have been giving me some really good information as to healthy food choices, and how we can use our raw milk (and the by-products) to enhance our goals.  I find "The Healthy Home Economist" quite interesting.   A couple of days ago, she said to use the leftover whey, in pancakes!  Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought to save this cloudy, watered-down liquid.  But, now that I know what is in it, I'm in!  Check her website out!

This is me with two beautiful Peruvian women from Huancayo.
Last Summer, I traveled to Peru with four other women from my church.  Our mission was to learn about the Peruvian struggles and be advocates for them back here in the states.  One of their struggles was Monsanto  and their genetically modified seeds.  Surprise, surprise.  (can you feel the sarcasm?)  Peru doesn't want them either!  Since returning, I've been diligent in choosing foods that are Monsanto-free!  That means buying heirloom seeds, saving them, reading labels and educating myself as to what the labels mean.  It also means NOT buying certain things, right?

Hopefully, I am making a difference in my life and the lives of my family, by growing, tending, preparing and consuming healthy farm-fresh goodness....the way God intended. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

The circle of life?

We have been letting our 6 week old chicks out a little every day to get used to free-ranging.  They've been doing really well!  They all stayed together, all 15 of them.  The adult hens were even beginning to accept them into the herd.

Saturday evening, John and I attended a surprise party for a couple to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.  We were about an hour after dark when we got home.  We headed straight out to the coop to lock up all of our birds and were met with a sad situation.  Something, probably a coon, killed all of our chicks except two of them.  One of our adult hens was also injured.  I was devastated!  All of these beautiful, sweet birds were just bit in the head and left on the ground.  Thirteen birds....gone.....just like that.

After a few choice words, John was digging out the lucky predator met his maker this morning.  Hopefully, another one tomorrow.   It's a lot of work to hatch your own birds and care for them until the time to turn them "out".  To lose them like this is sickening. 

Ok, I've vented....I guess it's just the circle of life, eh?