Category: Farming (Suburban)

Eucharisteo for the crows.

Today I am thankful for the crows.

Is anyone ever thankful for the crows? They are seen by so many as a menace, a disease, a disturbance.

I had let my little flock of four chickens outside a few weeks ago to free range in the backyard while I was working remotely from home. Two ISA Browns named Babs and Beatrice- and two Black Australops named Lexie & Nathalie. They were so happy to be out in the yard turning it up, dust bathing, foraging for food, and doing what chickens do.

  – and I hear this constant cawing. 

and I look out my window to see Nathalie under the covered porch in the back frozen. I open the door and expect her to run – but she doesn’t and I hear the constant non-stop cawing of the crows.

I look around the yard and do not see Babs or Beatrice, or little Lexie.

Coming around the corner I see the ISA Browns, and they are unusually frozen and pinned against the wall and Lexie is no where to be found.

I run to the coop amongst the cawing, and she  is not there. I look up in the tree and my heart sinks.

Among the crows is a huge bald eagle – perched low. Searching. Stalking. Hunting.

My heart sinks, and I realize now that sweet little Lexie – is possibly dead or harmed on the other side of the fence below the eagle.

I go to unlatch the gate to go to her, but just then the eagle takes flight , and the crows chase it out of the yard, out of the neighborhood and out of site. I go to run to the gate to see if Lexie is over there, and in a flash Lexie comes from where she was hiding and they all run to the safety of the coop.

Photo Cortosey of Ingrid Taylor
Photo Cortosey of Ingrid Taylor (click for source)

Today I am thankful for the crows. An unlikely hero and savior.

Are we so unlike the crows? Is there someone in your life that you’ve viewed as a crow? Someone you think is unworthy of your kindness- your love – your attention? Maybe its the person that cuts you off in traffic – the oddball at the concert, or maybe a family member? Have you been viewed as a crow? With great caution I ask – didn’t the Pharisees view  our Savior like the crow?

Today is Holy Thursday – – Maundry Thursday – –  Great Thursday. Jesus commands two things of us tonight.

Of course the most famous:
Jesus says to his disciples in Matthew 26:26-28
“During the meal, Jesus took and blessed the bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples: Take, eat.This is my body.Taking the cup and thanking God, he gave it to them: Drink this, all of you. This is my blood, God’s new covenant poured out for many people for the forgiveness of sins.

And secondly, which ties into my story – is the command that He gives us in John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. as I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Even the crows.

Even the crows?

So we find excuses. But THEY aren’t christians, THEY smoke, THEY drink, THEY sleep around, THEY spend too much money, THEY have a different orientation, THEY don’t keep house, THEY gamble, THEY swear, THEY are republican, THEY are democrats, THEY eat meat, THEY don’t…. THEY, THEY, THEY when we should be on our knees saying, ME ME ME. FORGIVE ME.

If I’m real honest this evening – I view far too many people as crows. Everyone, everywhere should be viewed as a valued person that God loves, and not labeled as THEY people – or crows. We are all on equal playing ground. As I saw so clearly. The crow is just like you and ME. Jesus LOVES the crows. The broken – real people that we are. May God put more crows in my path to love – and may I extend [more] love to the ones that are already there – because if I am bitter honest… I’m no better… I’m a crow too.

Jesus came for all of us crows on a rescue mission so that we could all enjoy eternal life – and love one another as He has loved us.

Linds

 

Winter Prep

Time to dig out the shovels and ice scrapers that have been safely hiding in garages since May. In just a mater of hours we went from autumn to full blown winter! Luckily though we had a few day warning though.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or in another country the greater part of the United States has been hit with a giant Polar Vortex of sorts sending most of the country into January like winter conditions! Icy cold temperatures, and FEET of snow (poor Buffalo NY). Last January I did a post titled, “So, you’re going to have a Polar Vortex?” Now luckily our temperatures are no where near what they were during the Polar Vortex of January 2014, but we did have to do a bit of winter prep.

1.) Food
On deer opener we were blessed that our good family friend and my husband both bagged deer. So between 70-80lbs of venison, our chickens butchered from this past summer and our eggs we probably won’t be going hungry all too soon.

2.) Chickens
We added a new level of required preparation this year! We had to ensure that our sweet chicks would be adequately warm! We covered the entire coop, and run in thick contractors plastic, and added in more straw. We moved their food out into the open a bit so they wouldn’t spill it gathering around for a meal, and hung some cabbage (that you can see on the ground). The other thing we did was added a heated dog bowl, which activates when the temperature drops below 40. It doesn’t make the water warm, but it does keep it from freezing which is about perfect.

Our girls seem to be doing okay (even though we have had lows all the way down in the single digits and sub zero windchill), I desperately want to add a heatlamp to the coop, or the run, but logic, books, and heaps of blogs tell me not to! They are a recipe for fires, and chickens produce quite a bit of heat regardless. My favorite chicken blogger has assured me in myriad posts that my girls will be just fine!

We are continuing to get about 2 eggs per day. Sometimes just one, and sometimes three. I’ve had to adjust how often I go out however. When it was “autumn” I went out after work, but I’ve grown to learn their laying patterns and they lay at nearly 7:30 a.m. every single morning. So if I don’t want frozen cracked eggs which are of no use to me, then I must go when the girls are laying! The other day I even caught the egg as it came out of one of the hens.

3.) Warmth

Praise the Lord above for warmth! We had no time to acclimate to the cooler temps by it gradually getting cooler, so we purchased a full cord of wood, and have been having fires nearly ever night since our first snow fall. Since the wood comes in long pieces – Jason has to chainsaw through, and I help haul and stack the wood. I stopped by Fleet Farm last Friday and bought these mint choppers! They kept my hands toasty warm, and are extremely protective against slivers, and are rugged enough to handle any MN winter chores!

Share below. What are you doing to prepare for the winter season?

Waiting for my eggs!

Since late April I’ve been waiting for eggs. I got an itch to raise my own chickens after my good friend Pam promised me how easy they were to raise. Research was poured into breeds of chickens for this harsh Minnesota climate and hours were spent on Pinterest finding the perfect chicken coop plan for my husband to build.

Last June I got my chicks and after a fateful attempt with round one after Sadie killed the first batch, I have been waiting patiently with batch number two since then. (Two red stars/Isa Browns and two Black Australops).

Like a human mother in her ninth month of pregnancy I wait and wait and wait. Any day now we could see eggs in their nesting boxes, so each morning like a kid on Christmas I run out to the chicken coop before work to see if my girls have given me any eggs.

So far they’ve been keeping their legs closed pretty tight, but are always happy to see me and are getting quite friendly with me even allowing me to pet them and pick them up. Each time I approach the Coop I hear a bak bak bak and I bak bak back.

They are incredibly easy to take care of and love being let out to nibble on all of the greenery my October yard has left to offer.

I have lost track of who’s name is who’s especially after we had to get rid of Henry who used to be Beatrice who then turned into Babs and is now Henry the rooster residing in elk River Minnesota… The problem with naming them is that you get attached, and before you know it they turn into roosters and you have to get rid of them! At least I can still visit Henry….But clearly I digress!

So now they’re just my girls… And I’m their shepherd waiting for them to lay eggs, or am I considered a farmer? These are the musings I contemplate laying in bed while trying to fall asleep.

Which I must do because I have nesting boxes to check in the morning!

IMG_0012-1.PNG

Canning

Oh, hello there!

I have been busy blogging over at, Where Feet May Fail after the sudden passing of my father, but did want to get back to you guys and the happenings of life in Minnesota.

Our daughter has gone back to school already and is in the 1st grade and loving it! Last year she was the last class in Minnesota of 1/2 day Kindergarteners, and now all schools must provide all day kindergarten to all of their students. The transition in to a full day of learning leaves our little one tired, but also excited for learning! We can’t wait to see how she grows this next year!

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 9.18.32 PM

I’ve been signing up for the “Pick of the Week” program at Minnesota Fresh Farm which has proved to be an invaluable find this summer! Each week I pick up $25-30 worth of produce for just $20. I have been getting fresh cucumbers (since mine went to crap), tomatoes (since mine went to crap), green beans, peas, corn, and more! We’ve gotten so many cucumbers I decided this weekend to make pickles! I’ve never made pickles before, but thought I’d give it ago. I had two different recipes making for two different kinds of pickles.

Traditional Easy Refrigerator Pickles.

IMG_2656 My co-worker Breanne who blogs over at Borealis ~ Northern Life passed down her grandmothers recipe to me! I felt like I had won the lottery because aren’t grandmothers recipes the best, and always completely delicious!

It called for:
7 c. very thinly sliced cucumbers (into very thin coins) – Approximately 4-5 cucumbers.
1 c. sliced onion (I rough chopped mine since my husband hates onions, but doesn’t mind the flavor)
1/2 c. green pepper/cut lengthwise
2 T. Salt
1 T. Celery seed

Mix all together and place in 1 quart canning jars.

In a small saucepan heat until boiling together:
2 C. Sugar
1 C. White Vinegar

Pour sugar/vinegar mixture over the cucumbers in the canning jars to the top and refrigerate.

I have no idea how long they take to “cure” – so I need to find that out. They are so pretty however right?

Fresh Pickles
I found this baby on my favorite website – Pinterest! Of course it is complements of the blog Red Star Lone Star.
IMG_2655
2lbs small cucumbers ( I used regular size and just cut in half and then cut into quarters spears or more)
1 bunch fresh dill
Several cloves peeled and thinly sliced
4 cups (1 liter) unflavored club soda/carbonated water
3 tablespoons salt

Trim the ends off cucumbers. Layer cucumbers, dill and garlic in a glass container. Dissolve salt in water, pour over the cucumbers to cover them completely. Cover and brine in refrigerator at least 24 hours.

Apparently the carbonated water is supposed to make the pickles extra crunchy! I’m actually not a big fan of pickles… but my husband loves them, so I thought why not try something new. Plus homesteading is so much fun!

JAM packed Saturday!

Miss K was supposed to have a soccer tournament today, but with most of the fields still saturated the tourney was called off. So we decided to head up to Minnesota Fresh Farm, and handpick strawberries. Neither me or my daughter had ever picked berries before today, and it was on my goals to continue to fill up her memory bucket! After we take home our haul and make jam we’re headed out to the Minnesota Zoo with Jason’s brother Jeremiah and his girlfriend Amillie for a fun filled family day!

(Scroll down for all the pic’s)

20140621-105410-39250008.jpg
Woke up early and headed to the farm up the road! We’re going to make homemade jam today before we head out to the zoo!
20140621-105410-39250603.jpg
Me and my girl being strawberry pickers! We were the first ones to pick this year! (They don’t open for appointments until tomorrow, but they let us sneak in! ~ Thank You!)
20140621-105412-39252243.jpg
Working on getting lots of berries for homemade freezer jam!
20140621-105413-39253939.jpg
Look at that load! We have lots for jam and plenty to spare for a chicken strawberry salad tomorrow on Arugula and Kale!
20140621-105415-39255459.jpg
Destemed, slicked and now time to mash mash mash!
20140621-105417-39257102.jpg
Starting to look like jelly, or the beginning of strawberry wine!
20140621-105418-39258476.jpg
Time to stir in the sugar and pectin!
20140621-105419-39259770.jpg
And finally scoop all of that into jars. Let sit for 30 minutes, and then pop them into the freezer! Easy as… JAM!

Minnesota – Week 24

Welcome to the start of summer! You’d hardly even know that it was summer instead of late September by the wet and rainy weather we’ve been having, but I can’t complain too much, we’ve hardly had to turn on our wall unit air-conditioner, so its all relative I suppose. Today was actually very hot and muggy though. Here’s what’s new with us!

Chicks

The chicks have finally gone to roost in their new home, and it couldn’t have come a moment sooner. They now have many of their real feathers and have lost a lot of their down. They are approximately three weeks now and are on a grower ration of food. (Not medicated)  Today one even flew the coop when I was changing their water in the brooder, so it was definitely time to move to their new digs. They now have a lot of space to roam around in, and I think my husband can’t be happier that the project is done and now he can actually enjoy his evenings. I love him so much for it. The chicks are very happy too!

20140617-214107-78067500.jpg
We have our eye on you Sadie!
20140617-214103-78063456.jpg
Enjoying their new home and french window.
20140617-214109-78069098.jpg
Checking outside! They really love it outside.
20140617-214106-78066646.jpg
Staredown between Sadie & Naomi
20140617-214104-78064963.jpg
Looking to get snuggly for the night.

Family

We are all doing great. Little miss is nearly done with school, and I can hardly believe she will be done with kindergarten! Where did the time go? I’m learning as I get older and as my child gets older the time just FLIES. She is now reading level 2 and 3 books, can count to 100 and can add and subtract. She of course learned many other things throughout the year but these were the highlights. Now we get six weeks off until 1st grade! I will post more after her last day.

Soccer

This summer we (little Miss) is playing soccer, and its been going fairly well. She is still very distracted, but what can you expect from a six year old that has never played before? K is more interested in making friends on the field on both teams than kicking the ball, but at least she is having fun. The coach has only scheduled one practice so far, and its quite evident that the other teams have scheduled more practices. The team we played today had a Nazi coach that yelled the entire game. not in a mean way, but very “Dance Moms(esque)”. Click on the link… I’m not even kidding that’s how the other team’s coach yelled the entire game! It was kind of wild. I doubt she was “on crack” though…

That’s all for this week. I hope everyone is having an awesome week!

Minnesota Week 23 – Lessons from the “farm”

Up here in “Not Quite Hinterland” Minnesota we’ve been taking some lessons from “The Farm”.
Clarification – NO… in case you’re wondering I did not move to a farm, although I think that would be totally rad, and some of my co-workers might argue that I DON’T live on a farm….! The neighbors behind me do “farm hay” and drive a tractor, but no the extent of my farming is my new and improved vegetable garden, and my chicken coop!

This past week we both celebrated life, and death.

As you know (by my late post) we got chicks on Thursday night, and on Sunday… they were all dead… Our four day old pullets were attacked by our Jack Russell Terrier when she was able to get into the garage and get into the brooder. She killed all of them. Like a good mom I wanted to pull the old “gold fish” trick on my kid… you know the one where before your child even knows that the gold fish has died you’ve already gone and bought another one… I headed up to Runnings which is just like Fleet Farm only more “country” if you can imagine that… and got five new chicks. Afterall my husband had already started on the coop and was more than half way done! As they saying goes, “Have coop – will chicken”. I actually made that up, but why are you even surprised? We got three ISA Brown/Gold Stars, and two Black Australorp’s.

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 7.51.21 PM
From left to right Nathalie (black), Ruth, Lexie (black), Naomi and Hope.

 

Once I got home my daughter ran into the garage and promptly announced, “Mom, they’ve already turned black!”…. I couldn’t hold the truth from her any longer and we had a discussion about the circle of life, and how Jack Russell Terriers are very naughty and are never to be trusted! We have our eye on you Sadie!

It took me several days to name the new chicks, but I think we’re set. The two Black Australorp’s are: Nathalie (K loves the name) and Lexie… and our ISA Brown’s are: Ruth, Naomi and Hope. Now yes of course I could have just “reused” the names, but it felt so wrong since already in four days I had become so attached to them. I know… and I kill chickens in August for meat, but this is sooo very different! Besides the broilers are never ever “cute”.

Here’s our Coop

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 7.50.53 PM

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 8.05.32 PM
Roosting bar and french windows for natural light
Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 8.05.12 PM
Nesting Boxes
Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 8.05.22 PM
Roosting branches made of real branches
Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 8.05.00 PM
Coop and Run. They will be able to wander the backyard however when we’re home.

Summer:
Our daughter K is having a lot of fun so far this summer. Most of her friends are all done with school now, so its so hard to tell little miss that bedtime is still a priority! Two more weeks and she is DONE!

So far her and her group of friends from the neighborhood, and there are about 5-6 of them in total are total buddies, and have a little gang when they’re all hanging out which is rather cute. Just the other day I told little miss she could run out but she said, “ma… I don’t have shoes” and I said, “Girl… you just go barefoot! Its summer!” She was so excited that she got to run around the neighborhood and outside barefoot! Just watch… this weekend I’m even going to let her drink from the hose!

Really though… I want her to have a totally carefree summer. Free from rules and regulations and overly busy schedules! We are going to be total hipsters and fly by the seat of our pants. Its a lesson from the “farm”… take life how it is, because life is too short!