Sunday, October 23, 2011

Farmwife's Journal - October 23nd

Yesterday (Saturday) we butchered the rest of the chickens.  These will go in our freezer. ;)  Several families came over to butcher their birds and join in the fun! :)  By about 1pm all the butchering was done, and everyone took their harvest home to store for the winter. :)  After we had bagged up our chickens and tucked them into the freezer, we headed out to the ridge to clear brush and prepare for deer season.  Because of all the standing water we had this summer, we had not groomed our trails at all this year.  There was a lot of branches to pick up and tall grass to mow down. 

While I was out there, I took the opportunity to pick burdock leaves, another thing I like to do in the fall.  Spring would be better time to pick them, but I usually can't get to my burdock, due to water, until the slough dries up in the fall.  I pick the leaves from the first year plants (ones without the burrs).  Burdock can be eaten like salad, but we don't eat it.  We have plenty of greens still growing in the garden.  I stock burdock in case I will need it for wounds.  It makes a great band aid! :)  The nutrients in the leaves (which are more abundant in the spring) help to feed the wound, and the best part is that the leaves do not stick to the wound.  If a person has a really large wound, it can be hard to cover with band aids or even gauze.  Then when is comes time to change the bandage, it can get really painful because everything is stuck to the wound.  That's when the leaves become a real blessing!

I hang the leaves in my garden shed from a clothes line and let them dry. When/if I need them, I just put them in hot water to soften them up and then they are ready to use.

Last fall Jonny sanded off part of his finger.  It was a really bad wound.  We used the burdock leaves on it and they worked great!  He had very little pain, a sign of a wound that is bandaged well. 

On the farm, you always have to be prepared for injuries! :(  Just this weekend, Mike pierced (almost through!)his pinky finger with the edge of a cattle panel.  I am not totally sure how it happened, but he and a friend were transporting the panels and one slid into Mike's hand.  The point of the panel went right through the finger nail.  He has a nice hole!  I told him he should start a new fashion...finger nail piercing! :)  One of the panels also poked through a finger on is other hand.  At first, I thought I would need my burdock leaves, but we have just used band aids for this wound.  Needless to say, I always need to be prepared! :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Farmwife's Journal - October 18th

Yesterday afternoon I was able to spend some time in my herb garden.  There were still a few herbs that I had wanted to get harvested before winter sets in.  I cut more parsley to keep in the refrigerator, for us and the animals.  Parsley is good in anything and super good for you!  My thyme was looking beautiful, so I cut some of that too.  I just put it in bowls (3 large ones) and let it air dry like that.  Then I'll crush it and bag it up to use over the winter.  Collecting mullein leaves is something I do every fall.  Mullein is great for any lung ailments.  I like to have it on hand, just in case.  I put those leaves and some comfrey leaves on screens in my garden shed to dry.  Comfrey is a wonderful skin herb.  Last year I used a ton of it when Jonny got his finger caught in the belt sander.  There was one other herb I harvested yesterday and that was sage.  It's the second time this year I have harvested a large quantity of  it.  I already have a bunch of it hanging in my kitchen.  When I make soup, I just clip a few leaves and crush them into my soup.  But this time I was harvesting it for the goats.  They love sage!  We are also getting ready to breed them and sage (along with raspberry leaf) will help the moms have healthy babies and easy deliveries.  Sage also increases their milk supply.
Other than picking more parsley (it will still be there even with snow on the ground), I probably won't do much more with my herb garden this year.  Not that there isn't more I could do, but I've had my fill for this year. :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Farmwife's Journal - October 16th

Last Thursday was spent preparing for our Friday farmer's market (in the afternoon) and butchering 100 chickens (in the morning). Everything HAD to be done by Thursday evening because butchering was starting at 6:30am!

I got up at 5am on Friday morning. Wanting everyone to have a hearty breakfast in their bellies before we started butchering, I ground some flour and made homemade waffles for everyone. Then I made a big pot of Italian Vegetable soup, knowing I would not have any time in my day to make lunch. Thankfully I had a loaf of herb bread in the freezer. This meal would serve as lunch and dinner.

Under lights, we started butchering on time. It was about 45 degrees. Gutting is not so bad on cold days because the chickens are warm and they keep your hands warm. Inspecting, the job Em and I do, was not super pleasant. :) The well water was cold, but the air was even colder. When our fingers were too numb to pull out pin feathers, we would stand over the wood stove in the market building and thawed them out. I kept thinking about a CD we had listened to earlier in the week called The Endurance. It's the story of Shackleton and his men getting stranded in the Antarctic. The trials they went through were unimaginable, and they made my apparent sufferings seem so foolish. Trying to keep my perspective, I was determined not to utter a complaint, but still a few managed to sneak out. :(

I try (and fail regularly) to be an example to my kids in this area, especially my boys. The last thing I want to do is raise wimpy boys! Thankfully my husband is a great example to them!  It is pathetic to see a grown man who doesn't like to work and who won't just suck it up and do whatever needs to get done!   When my children say, "I don't feel like doing such and such." I always say, "It's good to do things you don't feel like doing!" It makes us disciplined and helps us to grow in character. So obviously, I am still growing in this area! :)

We were done with the butchering by 10am. Then we hustled to clean up our mess and clean up ourselves. At noon we opened up the market and the day was a whirlwind. :) We were blessed with lots of customers! The day was filled with conversations with friends who we get to see weekly and those who drive out once or twice a year to pick up poultry. Visiting with friends it the best part of the day! :)

When I got up Saturday morning my whole body ached (see I am still complaining!). :) You would think that I would be used to busy Fridays by now, but not so! Friday morning was so cold and Saturday morning was even colder. Today we had another 124 chickens to butcher. Customers came from 2-4pm to pick up their birds. Once the market was over and everything cleaned up, we showered, ate, and crashed! :)

Honestly, there are some times when we wonder why in the world we are doing this! It's a lot of work! But then when we get letters or emails like the one below, we are encouraged.

I just wanted to thank you again for your hard work and care in providing us organic produce and free range chickens. Thank you feels so inadequate for the hours of love and labor you put in for all of us to benefit from. Yes, I know we pay you, but still I wanted you to know how appreciative we are of your sacrifices. Please share this with your children. I praised God with Emily for the business you had today! May it help supply for your needs. I pray after a very hard day emotionally and physically that you feel blessed and encouraged in doing good for God’s children!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

THE CHASE - by emily

It was just an ordinary afternoon on the farm.  Mom, Ben, Jonny, and I (Emily) were all in the garden digging, washing, and crating up carrots to store away for the winter.  I was standing by the sink as mom was washing some carrots and she thought she saw a ladybug on my neck (eeeeek!) and told me to look the other way.  I turned my head, and to my unsuspecting surprise found myself looking straight at a great big grayish/brown rabbit!  He was hopping along the fence, looking for a way to get out.  I started hollering to my accomplices, "EVERYONE!  QUICK!  A RABBIT!  I'M NOOOOOT KIDDING!  RUUUUUUUUUUN!!!!!!!"  I excitedly raced to the end of a row, grabbed up some wooden stakes used for marking rows, and raced towards Peter Rabbit, the boys on my heels.  Peter then realized his most dangerous situation and began frantically attempting to go through the fence.  It didn't work.  The screaming, wooden-stake armed ruffians were dangerously close to him.  We chased him up and down the fence.  At times I was only about a foot away from him but never had time to strike...
finally we got him cornered, and Ben, who was the closest, gathered up all of his almost-12-year-old might and swung with a tremendous whack, hitting squarely on the ground next to the so-far-fortunate Peter.  Oooops!  Realizing the gravity of the situation all the more as the stick whacked beside him, the bunny dogged through us all and raced towards poor unsuspecting mom, who was watching discreetly from a distance, while cheering us on.  It really looked like he was trying to attack her as she jumped back, screaming. He then decided to try out his luck in the asparagus patch and raced into the thick plants.  We were surrounding the patch when I looked and saw he had already gone through it and was bounding across the garden in great leaps.  "RUNNN!  HE'S GOING TOWARDS THE PLAYHOUSE!"  We raced furiously after him.  But before we caught up with the garden robber, he had dodged UNDER the PLAYHOUSE!  By this time, Dad had come hurrying up with a gun, wondering why we were all screaming bloody murder.  He commented later, "I thought it was something at least more dangerous than a rabbit!"  So... back to the action... my bright homeschooled mind immediately came up with a solution.  The boys guarded our prisoner while I raced up to the house, grabbed Lady & Charlie, our trusty cats, by the scruff of the neck, and with one in each hand, raced back to the scene of action.  I set them down by the playhouse, hoping they would catch on.  Charlie, not understanding what this mad ruckus was all about, raced away like he was being chased by a bunch of country ruffians.  Lady, however, was the smarter (or maybe hungrier?) of the pair.  Her tail was switching back and forth and her ears were pricked up as she peered under the playhouse.  Then, she wiggled under and all was silent.  We waited, the air tense.  Then suddenly "SQUEEEAK!"  Then a little later there was some scratching, and again all was quiet. 
It was probably a good 20 minutes before my wonderful cat, Lady, crawled out from under the playhouse.  How did we know she really caught the rabbit?  Well, being the wonderfully smart detective that I am, I picked her up and looked at her paws.  Uh hu.  Yup, just as I thought.  Although I'm sure she washed her hands well after her meal, there was still some fresh blood in between the pads of her paws, and .... some very incriminating evidence... grayish/brown bunny fur!  Yeah!  Good job Lady!  I immediately took that fur and put it in an envelope and wrote the story and date on the envelope.  The reason for that?  Next time one of my unnamed male relatives accuses lady of being a good for nothing, lazy cat, I have my evidence to prove otherwise!  :)  
So in conclusion, it was a wonderful day!  I just LOOOVE living on a farm in the country!  I love the unexpected, exciting, crazy fun things that happen that put a twist into a "boring" (not that digging carrots is really that boring... it's just not  overly exciting) day!  Like bunnies showing up in the garden!  It was definitely a wonderful end to an otherwise ordinary day. 



Oh... and I might want to mention... some of the Great Huntress Lady's kittens will be for sale in about a week!  $20.00 a piece and worth every cent!  =]  Will be great hunters,just like their mother!  Not to mention they are absolutely adorable and the sweetest things ever!!!  :)