Monday, February 27, 2012

Time to place your order

Saturday I finished getting our 2012 order form put together. I was hoping to get done sooner, but there are many things that compete for my attention around here.

Part of the delay has been a technological one. You've probably heard the story about the plumber whose own pipes leak, or the handyman whose own car is broken down. It's kind of that way with me. I am an computer guy who never gets to do his own programming. So this year I broke the mold and have put together an online ordering website. It's not fancy, but I hope it makes ordering easy for you. If you prefer though, you can can still download a PDF form to print and send in.

This year we are planning to raise four batches of broilers (300 per batch). We will be offering Friday or Saturday pickup options for the first three batches. Since our market will be going from June through September this year, the October pickup dates are both Saturdays. We hope those of you that can come on a Friday will schedule your pickups for Friday and enjoy our market as well.

Turkeys are also moving to a Saturday pickup. They will be processed the 2nd and 3rd Saturdays in November. Those that get their Thanksgiving turkey on the second Saturday won't even have to freeze it!

The price for chicken and turkey this year will be $3.05 per pound. I called my feed supplier before finalizing this year's prices, and he expects another price increase of 10 to 15%. As usual, a down payment of $2.00 per chicken and $10.00 per turkey are required to reserve your order.

Poultry pickup will be between 2pm and 4pm on the processing days. You can order on as many different days as you would like. When you arrive your birds will be chilling in a cooling tank. We will bag them and weigh them when you get here. Please be sure to bring coolers and ice to keep the birds cold until you get home.

We also will have "locker" lambs available. Whole lambs are $4.25/lb hanging weight, plus processing (usually $50). Our lambs will be arriving in early May, so we are looking at December or January before they will be ready to go. The down payment for a lamb is $50.

Please order as soon as you can. We have to order our chicks about twelve weeks BEFORE the date you pick them up on. We only have capacity for 300 per batch so we will quickly run into limits of time and space if everybody waits to order their chickens until July. :) Thanks for understanding.

So remember you can order online, download our form, or just give us a call at 320-275-0121 if you have questions. Want to learn more about our chickens and turkeys? Check out our FAQ.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Health Journal - Direct Access Labs

There are many hospitals and clinics that offer Direct Access testing.  A physician's order is not require and the results come directly to you.  No insurance claims are submitted.  You just show up, request a test, and write a check - it's that easy!

The lab will have a list of the test available to you.  Our lab at the Meeker Memorial Hospital in Litchfield offers tests like: blood type, cholesterol, hemoglobin, liver profile, pregnancy tests, thyroid, prostate screening, and many others.  There are even website that will tell you how to read the tests.

When children go through growth spurts, their iron requirements are huge.  I used our local lab to test my children's hemoglobin, so that I can know if they have any needs in this area.  These labs are another tool to help us manage our own health and keep health care costs down.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ready for the run!

With the crazy weather this year we are not entirely sure when the sap will start running for making syrup, but we are ready!  For the last month or so I've been taking time here and there to tinker on our sugar shack, evaporator, and other related equipment

Yesterday I fired up the evaporator for the first time in our new building.  No sap to boil, just some vinegar and water.  This helps to cook loose some of the calcium deposits from last year, but it also allowed me to make sure that everything was properly installed and the necessary heat shielding was in place so that we don't burn the building down. :)

Now we just need to wash the buckets and barrels, which we won't do until it is time to put the taps in the trees.  (There's no place to put 200 buckets where they stay perfectly clean for 2 or 3 weeks)

Cement Board and Tin shielding around chimney

Boiling water and vinegar
Vapor billowing out the cupola

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Starting Seeds

It's that time of year again, time to plant the garden!  Well, not quite, we are starting seeds indoors to be transplanted out later.  Yesterday I started 48 pots of onions.  These are 4"x4" pots in which I plant 30+ seeds.  Most of those germinate and then we just pull them apart and transplant the individuals plants into the garden in May (weather permitting).  The earlier (within reason) I can get the onions going in the spring the better, as the size of the top growth ultimately determines the size of the bulb.

I started some Rosemary (herb plant) for Mindy yesterday too.  These take almost a month just to germinate, so they need to get started really early.

For the last few years we have started our seedlings in garden soil.  This way the plants have all the nutrients they need, and we don't need to try to fertilize them.  In the fall, before the ground freezes, we fill five gallon pails with dirt and lug them into the root cellar.  (Digging up frozen dirt in February would be mission impossible)
Bucket of Dirt
Ready to Plant

Onion Seeds
Finished Trays

When all the seeds were planted I watered them and then put them under the "grow lights".  This is an area in our garage where we have some fluorescent tubes mounted on the bottom of a shelf.  Then about 12 inches below that we have a second shelf for  putting the trays of pots on.  We use blocks to raise and lower the trays to keep them close to the lights so the plants don't get to tall prematurely.  We put clear plastic over the front and put a heater inside to create a mini-greenhouse.
Grow Lights
As soon as weather permits, we will move these outside to our patio door "hot house" where they can get real sun and eventually get hardened off for planting in the garden.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Farmwife's Journal - February 15th

This week the books I have been waiting for finally arrived!  I signed up for a correspondence course through the School of Natural Healing in Utah.  Mike and I have been considering my enrollment for over a year and decided now was the time.  I am extremely excited and a little nervous.  I hated school when I was a kid and wonder if having the pressure of studying will take away the joy that I now have for the subject.  I have three months to complete the course, which is the first of ten courses in their Master Herbalist program.  I have been studying now for six days and am loving every minute of it. :)  As you know, we have just a few things going on around here, so I am carefully and prayerfully managing my time.  I am determined that my family should not suffer the loss of me during my course study. :)

The other day, as I was aimlessly pulling the laundry out of the washer to throw it into the dryer, something fell on the floor at my feet.  Standing there in amazement, I exclaimed to myself, "What in the world?!"  My wash load contained table clothes, so I thought maybe it was some food, but it looked like flesh, bones, and blood.  I picked up the blob and carried it to Mike's office.  "Do you have any idea what this is?" I questioned.  While performing an autopsy, he announced, "It's a bunny carcass."  I stood there dumbfounded wondering how in the world this could have gotten into my washing machine...and with my table clothes.  It was time to question the kids. 

As I explained the situation, they all stood there wide-eyed and horrified, having no clue as to how the creature had arrived at such a state.  After much discussion and searching for clues, we concluded that it was... Ms. Emily, with the towel, in the laundry room! :)  Mystery solved! :) 

Last week, Emily had a baby bunny die.  When she found it, it was still alive, so she brought it into the house to warm it up, hoping it would make it.  It was placed in a towel, on the heating pad, in front of the fire place.  Sadly, it had been cold for too long and died.  Nobody remember who cleaned up the scene, but somehow the bunny and towel were thrown into the laundry bin. :(  I assure you, we are very clean and tidy around here, and it is not normal for us to leave dead animals around the house!  Unfortunately this carcass remained in my washer for two washes, before it fell on the floor at my feet (the towel was washed in the previous load).  And so ends another exciting day on the farm! :)  Days like these make city life appealing. :)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Farm Kitchen Menu - February 9th

This is my first "Farm Kitchen Menu" for our blog.  I thought it might be helpful for others to know how our family eats.  It may also help to dispel the myth that we are self-sufficient. :)  Unfortunately, as dreamy as that sounds, it is not as easy to attain as one might think.  The foods that we have grown or raised ourselves are marked with a "HF" for Housman Farms.
Omelets (cooked with lard)
HF eggs
HF goats milk
HF green peppers
HF onions
HF kale
HF garlic
shredded raw cheese

Sourdough Muffins (see recipe below)

Fresh squeezed (by Benjamin) Orange Juice

Breakfast was followed by a cup of Organic coffee, with raw honey and raw cream.  We were stuffed! :)

Sourdough Muffins
Night before combine:

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup of yogurt, kefir, or whey
2 cups raw milk (you could add water if you do not have raw milk)
Cover the bowl with a towel and leave it on the counter overnight.

Next morning add:

4 beaten eggs
1 cup of honey
1 T. Vanilla
1 cup of coconut oil or butter (melted)
Mix well, then add:

2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup of raisins
1/2 cup shredded coconut (optional)
Mix well
We put the batter into muffin cups and bake them at 375 for 25-30 minutes.  Makes 2 dozen.

mixed greens
HF chicken breast
HF pickled eggs
grated cheese

Homemade French dressing

Sliced apples
Kefir shake
HF kefir
frozen bananas
HF frozen strawberries

Sourdough muffins, again

ground venison with homemade taco seasoning
mixed greens
grated cheese
HF salsa
ww tortillas

No dessert :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Mysterious Package

This afternoon Jonny and I were working in the shop. We are building a vacuum pump... but I'll write about that another day. Mindy had just left with Emily to go for tea at Cricket Meadow in Litchfield. She called me a couple minutes later very concerned. They had picked up the mail on the way out the driveway and there was a package. Thinking it was the long awaited herb class materials, she ripped into the box. This became quite a puzzle for her, because there was nothing in it but some "padding". No contents, nothing, nada, zip, zilch! She pulled over and threw that package out of the vehicle, suspecting something awful, and called me from her cell phone. This of course interrupted my pet project, but I decided it was worth the drive a mile down the road to see what exactly was going on.

Emily jumped out of the vehicle as I approached and said, "Dad, mom thinks you should call 911. It is from someplace called Funny Farm!". So I walked over picked up the box... sure enough, the address was "547 Fun E Farm Way". When I saw the contents though, I became quite disgusted but nonetheless amused. It was a chunk of "ceramic blanket" that I ordered earlier this week! (Ceramic blanket is a high temperature insulation that looks much like fiberglass insulation). For some of us, it looks like padding. :)

Needless to say Jonny and I had a good laugh all the way home.

Health Journal - Saturated Fats

We have reduced the fat in our diets, yet heart disease continues to plague our nation.  We are doing something wrong!  Please consider the following information; your health could depend on it.

After you have read that, consider what Coconut Oil can do for Alzheimer's disease.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Health Journal - Sunshine!

If you are one of those people who struggles with reoccurring or chronic illness, you really need to consider your Vitamin D intake.  Our overall health is greatly effected by Vitamin D, and many illnesses are now being link to its deficiency in the body.

Be sure to consider the source when taking this supplement.  Vitamin D2 is a synthetic form (used for food fortification), which I would not take.  Vitamin D3, which is consider the natural form, is found in foods such as egg yolks and liver and products like Cod Liver oil.  This is also the form that is produced in the body as a result of sun exposure.

Unfortunately if you live above the 37th latitude, you will not be able to get enough sunlight during the winter months (November - March).  In this case, you may want to consider supplementation.  Honestly, I hate taking supplements!  I would much rather get what I need from good food!  Yet, I realize that is necessary sometimes.  For my family, I will supplement with Vitamin D if I see a need for it (i.e. ongoing illness).  Fortunately we are rarely sick.

The very VERY best thing you can do for your health (and Vitamin D levels) is make going outside a habit!  It is such a simple way to improve your health, yet so many people overlook it!  We have developed a cultural trend of living, working, and even playing indoors.  This has contributed to a society that is very Vitamin D deficient!  It is estimated that 85% of the American public are deficient!  If you can expose yourself to the sun at least 3 times per week for 15 minutes, you can supply your body with an adequate amount of Vitamin D.  By being outside in the winter months, you will be getting fresh air and most likely exercise, two more contributors to good health.

Another factor contributing to deficiencies is fear.  Doctors have convinced people that they should be afraid of the sun.  Therefore we either don't go outside or worse, we cover ourselves in sunscreen.  Please do not put sunscreen on your children!  Be a responsible parent and make sure your children do not burn, but let them get sun exposure.  Just as we have a spiritual need for the Son, our bodies were also created with a physical need for the sun.  Our family spends time outside almost every day of the year.  In the spring, summer, and fall we spent LOTS of time outdoors, and it is rare for us to get sunburned.  In the beginning of the summer, if a child looks a little pink, I make them wear a wide brimmed hat and have them avoid tank tops.  Gradually we build up a tan, and then we are set for the rest of the summer.  Our family never uses commercial sunscreen!  A natural option for sunscreen is coconut oil, which we have used on occasion.  The point is, you do not have to be afraid of the sun!  You need it, so go outside and enjoy it! :)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Farmwife's Journal - February 6th

Kiow (the goat buck) has now gone back to his own farm, and we are looking forward to kidding in April.  It is nice not having a smelly buck around anymore. :)

It looks like our ice skating season may be over.  In past years, the season usually ends abruptly, so we are used to that.  Nevertheless, we are really missing our hockey games!

A hockey game with friends

Last week we had a new member join the farm! :)  The chrysalis, that had been hanging in a jar in our school room since last fall, finally went through complete metamorphosis! :)  We have named this beautiful Swallowtail butterfly Valerie.  We have one more chrysalis in the jar.   Hopefully that butterfly will emerge too. :)

Two years ago we had a butterfly hatch around the same time.  We named her Valentine.  She lived for a month, sipping oranges and fluttering around the bay window. When she died, we flattened her body and put her in a frame.  Jonny keeps her displayed on his shelf in his room. :)

The day after Valerie hatched, I was sitting at the kitchen table talking with a friend and suddenly her eyes got big and she stopped talking.  I wondered what was wrong.  Then she exclaimed, "Is there a butterfly in your house?"  :) 

This week we will get the pork we ordered from some friends.  The butcher shop was so backed up, we couldn't get our pig in until now.  Anyway, we are looking forward to bacon and breakfast sausage again!  Once I get the lard, I will render it and use it for frying...just like grandma did! :)  Contrary to popular belief, saturated fats from good sources ARE good for you!  But that is a subject for a Health Journal post! :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Here are some pictures Emily took of Captain.  Isn't he gorgeous?  He is 5 months old and 75 pounds of pure love! :) 

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