Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Busy Day!

The six puppies that will go to their new homes this weekend were taken in for their vet checks this morning.  Here they are in the back of the car looking as cute as ever! :)



It was baking day for me. First I made sour dough bread.  It takes all day to rise, so you have to get started early.  Next I made five loaves of my whole wheat bread.  Here is a stack of sour dough tortillas that I made for lunch.  They are so simple to make, but it's not a quick job.  The dough is just three cups of starter, three cups of flour, and three teaspoons of salt.  That will make about 8 tortillas.  I just roll them out and cook them in my cast iron skillet until they are brown on both sides.  Normally I shy away from foods that are very time consuming to make, but these are so good - and I had a craving for one. :)
 
 





Todays lunch - chicken and veggies wrapped in a sour dough tortilla, blue corn chips, and lacto-fermented salsa.

 

Whole wheat bread - with one loaf missing!  "Mike...?" :)

This morning at 5am, while some were still in bed, Mike was out in the sugar shack firing up the evaporator. :)  The sap has been flowing good for the past few days.  Today the boys and I collected 96 gallons!  Mike is still boiling and will likely be at it until about 10pm.  A long day.  Not really!  He enjoys it, and we enjoy going out to visit with him.  We ate lunch and dinner out there today. :)

Here you can see that the vents above the evaporator are open to let the steam out.




This is the evaporator pan.  You can see the pipe where the sap flows in and the different compartments that the sap flows through.

Jonny is checking the sugar content.


Got to keep that fire burning!!!  The firebox gets filled every 15 minutes!




That is a HOT fire!  And a nice pile of coals!  Hot dogs anyone? :)



Dinner - lamb stew and garlic toast by a warm fire with the smell of  sweet syrup in the air.  Wish you were here! :)

  The finished product! :)

Well, time to go!  My sour dough bread is finally ready to go in the oven, and I'm itching to go hang out in the shack with my hubby! :) Night! :)



Friday, March 13, 2015

It's Tappin' Time!

Suddenly it's here - sugaring season!  One of the highlights of spring for me is hanging out in our warm, cozy sugar shack watching the fire burn under the boiler and hearing the hum of the sap cooking down into maple syrup.  I think it's a highlight for our whole family. ;)  We will find any reason we can to be out there - sometimes we even have meals out there. :)

Technically our sap is Boxelder sap.  The Boxelder tree is in the maple family, and the syrup tastes very similar to maple syrup.  The sugar content of Boxelder sap is not quite a high as maple, so it takes more sap to make a gallon of syrup.  We have about 140 taps out, and on a good day we will collect about 50 gallons of sap.  For us, that equals about a gallon of syrup.

We share sugaring season with a few other families.  They collect from their trees, bring the sap here, and then we cook it all down together.  Last year we had a great run!  For a time we had the evaporator going non-stop so that we could get all the sap cooked down quickly before it spoiled.  We had people doing shifts through the night!  It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. :)  And we ended the season with a root cellar stocked with many gallons of syrup.  Yes, we were spoiled this past winter.  We used our syrup liberally - in smoothies, yogurt, fudge, coffee and anything else we could think of. :)


Ben and Jonny tapping trees with Rosie and Miska
 

Ben drilling

Jonny putting the taps in


Miska.  Isn't she pretty?

Rosie.  She will be having puppies in about 2 months!
Ben and Miska.  They sure love each other! :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Heath Journal - Beating the Bug!

We know of some families that have been dealing with a nasty flu bug, so I thought it might be helpful to share with you my remedy for the flu. 

About three weeks ago Jonny told me he wasn't feeling well.  At our house, that means mom gets out her potions. :)  Charcoal is my #1 remedy for vomiting, diarrhea, food poisoning, or that general yucky feeling that goes with eating bad food.  Charcoal has never failed me.  The sooner you take it the better.  If it is taken at the first sign of sickness, you will often beat it all together, but if you wait, it will take a little longer. The most a child has vomited after receiving charcoal is three times, but they usually tell me that they don't feel well when they are ready to vomit. :/  The charcoal not only stops the vomiting, they also recover very quickly. 

So I gave Jonny a charcoal slurry - as we call them.  It's one heaping teaspoon of powdered charcoal in a small glass of water.  Stir it up and down the hatch!  It doesn't have a taste, but it is chalky, so some people do better drinking it from a straw.  Jonny vomited twice before midnight and once after midnight.  After each trip to the bathroom, another slurry was given.  After his third trip I reassured him, "Well, you should be feeling better soon!"  Sure enough!  He slept the rest of the night and woke up feeling much better.  He ate breakfast, lunch and dinner that next day! :)  In less than 24 hours he was feeling like himself again.  And nobody else got sick.  Over the years, we have seen charcoal work like this over and over again in our family and in other families that we have recommended it to.  It stops diarrhea in its tracks!  It draws out toxins and can even be used topically.  It is amazing stuff!

I ALWAYS have charcoal on hand - reordering well before my container is empty!  If we travel, it is the first thing that goes in my first aid kit.  But before you rush out to get some, I should share a couple of things with you.  Charcoal is a VERY fine powder!  When you put a spoonful in a cup, you do it very carefully.  If you just dump it in, you will have the powder flying everywhere!  Hold your breath!  If you breath it in, you will have a nice coughing fit.  Always work slowly with it.  It also stains.  Do not get it on your clothing or anything else that you don't want to be black.  It can be removed from hands and dishes with a good amount of soap, but I prefer to use a paper cup and plastic spoon when mixing it up.  Then I can just throw them away.  Charcoal is not absorbed into the body.  It only travels through your digestive track, so you cannot overdose on it, but make sure you drink plenty of water after taking it so you do not get constipated.  Doctors used to use charcoal regularly, but now they can make more money selling pharmaceutical drugs so they don't use it as much.  But there are still some emergency rooms that use it for treating poisonings.  And speaking of drugs, be aware that any medications you are taking are considered toxins by your body, and they will be absorbed by the charcoal.   

Not all charcoal is created equal.  Charcoal tablets do not work.  You would have to consume a lot of them in order for them to be effective, and they also take too long to dissolve in the stomach.  Use the powder.  Invest in a book about charcoal.  It will be well worth the money.  One of my favorite books is Charcoal Remedies.com.  (Yes, that is the name of the book :)  They also have a website with the same title) Charcoal will not only help you beat the bug, but it also has uses with wounds, bites, stings, toxins, infections, and many other ailments.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Jonathan and General

Even though our dogs are in large pastures, they still get to go for a walk every day.  The walk gives us a chance to interact with them, love on them and at times do a little training.

Today when Jonny was out with General, I asked if he would pause for a photo shoot. :)  General is our largest dog, and he is beautiful!  He is our second-in-command guard dog, under Jackson. :)  One day, when Jackson retires, General will be trained in as the farm dog.




 











Monday, March 2, 2015

Veggies For Dogs

Every fall we stock our root cellar with organic produce from our farm.  While most of that food will be consumed by our family, our dogs (and the puppies we sell) get to enjoy the fruits of our labor too.  :)

If you have purchased a puppy from us, you know that we are big promoters of raw food.  We believe that our dogs (carnivores) will be healthiest if they eat what they were designed to eat - raw meat and bones.  But meat isn't all a carnivore will eat.  They get some grains, greens, and fruit in their diet when they eat their prey.  If a dog consumes a rabbit, it will eat the whole thing - even the contents of its stomach.  With that in mind, we feed our dogs some raw veggies, fruits and raw fermented foods.


Today it was time to grate fruits and vegetables for the dogs.  We do that about once a week.  After the apples, carrots and beets are collected from the root cellar, they are run through our food processor and grated into small pieces.  The raw fruit and vegetables are then sprinkled on our dogs food every day.  Since they are known for licking their bowls clean, I think it's safe to say they are enjoying their food. :)   It is a joy to know that they are getting what they need to have excellent health, and it's a joy to grow healthy pups for you. :)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Trusting


On the farm, we look forward to January and February.  They are what we call our "downtime" since there is not much to do as far as animal chores go.  I usually set aside projects for this special time of year, looking forward to all that I will get done.  Well, not this year...

One of my favorite saying about our farm life is, "There is never a dull moment!", because often, when you are raising animals, the unexpected happens. :/  So we had lambs sooner than expected, in weather that was colder than we would have liked.  How long have we been doing this?  Shouldn't we have this figured out by now? :)  Then we had a litter of puppies that we needed to bottle feed every three hours around the clock.  Whew!  It was an intense time, and we were all stretched in ways we didn't know we could stretch. :)

I grew up in the city.  The dream of having my own property, growing my own food, and raising animals gave me the idea that life could not be more perfect.  Really, what more could you ask for?  Sanity. :)  LOL 

I ran into an old friend the other day, and she said, "Oh, my daughter really wants to talk to you.  She and her husband would love to live life the way you guys do."  I had to laugh!  I said, "Tell her not to do it!" :)  (Most people like to post about how perfect their life is, well, I guess I'm too honest. :) )

No really, I would not trade my life for city life, but if you think farm life is the answer to all your problems, think again!  It is crazy busy at times!  And it is very hard work.  Some times your work pays off, other times you feel discouraged.  That's life!  Living on a farm doesn't change that. I am constantly reminding myself to be thankful - I have SO much to be thankful for!  And through it all we are learning and growing...I think. :)  Maybe growing more crazy. LOL!

So now, recovering, we spring into spring knowing that the Lord will give us the grace to change our downtime into crazy busy time, to adjust our plans, and to trust that He will directs our steps. :)


Saturday, January 31, 2015