KW Homestead

Emma & Jason's pasture raised poultry, homesteading thoughts, and wild adventures.

Category: her thoughts (page 1 of 21)

Meet the Animals: Spotted Piglet & Her Siblings

This is another cute video featuring Half-Nose’s newest litter. How cute are they? Check out the spotted piglet… who we hope will be the next Farm to Your School visiting pig!

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Meet the Animals: Cutest Piglets Ever!

This past week, Half-Nose  delivered a litter of cute little babies (including a spotted babe). The day after, another pig delivered her first litter, but since it was her first time as a mom, she wasn’t up to the challenge. Luckily, Half-Nose happily adopted her babies and is nursing away! Great job, Half-Nose!

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Incubating Pekin Eggs

Last year we didn’t have great luck with our incubation… Our incubators malfunctioned in various ways and we were only able to hatch out a few babies. This year we’re hoping for a different result. We’ve calibrated the incubators to be sure that their temperature is reading true (this was our biggest issue), and the nicer incubator we have is now in a spot where the cords won’t get bumped or jostled (this was disconnected the incubator and totally ruining our hatch).

We segregated the adult Pekins from the rest of the layer flock, thus collecting only Pekin eggs… Which are usually a bit larger.

The ideal temperature for incubating ducks is 99.5 degrees F and the ideal relative humidity is 55%. Duck eggs incubate for 28 days, a whole week longer than chicken eggs. Amazing, right?! We are all set to place the eggs in the incubator in the next few days, and we’ve made sure to rotate the eggs every day so that the eggs don’t start to settle or stick to one side of the shell. Wish us luck this year!

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We have 2 of the Little Giant incubators with trays that slowly swivel and rotate the eggs over time.

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We have one incubator from Incubator Warehouse that worked wonders two years ago before it became electrically sensitive. The egg turner turns the eggs partially every 6 hours (or less or more if you change the settings).

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Farm Food Friday: Gluten, Flour, & Sugar Free Breakfast Pancakes

I usually skip the simpler carbohydrates if I can, like rice and flour, but that doesn’t make me any less hungry…

After some trial and error, Jason created a fantastic and simple pancake recipe, loaded with calories but low in sugar! What a great and filling breakfast! Plus, it’s fantastic with one of my very favorite foods: grass fed butter.

It’s so simple, you’ll be surprised! You can make these into classic pancakes, or you can take the easy route and bake the batter in the oven as a thicker cake. I enjoy the texture of the baked pancakes better.

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium/large sweet potatoes
  • 12 duck eggs (or chicken eggs, if you prefer)
  • 1 banana (a browner one is preferable)
  • Powdered ginger
  • Powdered cinnamon
  • Salt

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Materials:

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Potato masher
  • Whisk
  • Mixing spoon
  • 8×11″ oven pan

Directions:

  • Wash sweet potatoes
  • Bake whole sweet potatoes in the oven on 350 until soft
  • Once cool, peel sweet potatoes and place in the large mixing bowl
  • Peel banana and place with potatoes
  • Mash potatoes and banana until moderately smooth
  • Add 1/3 of eggs and mash/stir together until mixed evenly. Add second and third 1/3 of eggs when previous eggs are mixed in properly and do the same
  • Add a pinch of salt and ginger
  • Add a pinch (or more, if desired) of cinnamon
  • Mix thoroughly with whisk, spoon, and masher, attempting to make the mixture as smooth as possible.
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Grease 8×11″ pan and pour in mixture
  • Smooth the top of the mixture
  • Bake on 350 for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a knife can be removed cleanly from cake
  • Enjoy!

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Farm Food Friday: Pulled Chicken Tacos with Tomatillos and Cilantro

We are a pretty hungry family, and making food in bulk is a great idea for us. Usually every Saturday we cook 2 of our Red Ranger Chickens, and this week was no different. This time we decided to make pulled chicken for eating tacos with the large pile of ripe and yummy avocados that we always seem to have in the house these days!

Here’s the details… Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole Red Ranger chickens
  • 3 pints of pureed tomatillos
  • 1 or 2 bunches of cilantro (this depends on how much you love cilantro)
  • 2 onions
  • salt, pepper, & garlic
  • cayenne pepper, paprika, & oregano

Materials:

  • 1 large pot
  • 1 large bowl
  • knife for slicing onions and cilantro
  • stirring spoon
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This finished, pulled chicken was a version that we made with some pureed tomatoes added as well.

Recipe:

  1. First part up your chickens, but leave the skin on, folks! So many of the great nutrients are in the skin, and you can always shred the skin into small pieces that will be undetectable once you start eating your tacos.
  2. Place all the parts in your large pot with a little bit of water. We use a large cast iron pot and place the whole thing in the oven on 400, but you could always use your pot on the stove top and simmer the meat until it’s cooked and ready to fall off the bone.
  3. Let your meat cool and then shred it off of the bone (into the large bowl), making sure to remove any cartilage if you don’t want that kind of thing in your tacos!
  4. Add the shredded chicken back to your pot. If there’s a small amount of broth in the bottom of your pot from cooking the chicken, feel free to leave it in there to mix in with the shredded chicken. If there’s a lot of broth, remove some first (but save it and drink it… Yum!).
  5. Slice the onions and cilantro.
  6. Add the onions, cilantro, and tomatillos to the chicken.
  7. Add a small amount of salt, garlic, pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, and oregano, to taste. Keep in mind that the cilantro and tomatillos really carry the dish, and so the spices are just for a little bit of added flavor… You don’t need to get heavy-handed with the spice. Mix everything together well with your spoon!
  8. Place this back in the oven or on the stove top, checking periodically until the onions are soft. Then it’s ready!

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Hand-Painted Bone, Feather, and Shell Puzzle

bone shell feather puzzle for sale

I have always been a lover of bones. So much so, that I ended up studying archaeology (specifically zooarchaeology) for a time, which eventually led me to Jason. So I would say that bones have served me very well!

When my “niece” became a big sister,  I made her a painted puzzle which included bones from various animals, feathers, and shells. I was tempted to keep it for myself. I love the feel of bones, the smell of bones, but most of all, the symbology of bones.

Our bones are with us our whole lives, they make us human, make us whole. They are also on earth longer than we are (in most cases), and I believe they hold something of us when we go. I feel the same about animal bones. That is why I adorn my house and often my body with them. I believe that they reconnect me with the world that we often forget and to our primal, animal selves.

As I grow a little human inside me now, this baby already has their bones. These bones with make them strong, but also because some are still unformed, they will allow this baby to pass out of me into the world we know… Into a world where this baby and I can one day work on a bone puzzle just like this one:

bone puzzle

If you’re interested in a bone, feather, and/or shell puzzle for a loved one in your life, you can email us at ourochreway@gmail.com for more information about ordering your very own puzzle!

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Meet the Animals: Introducing Half-Nose the Pig

This video introduces you to one of our all-time favorite homestead animals!

Half-Nose the Pig (yes, it’s a super-weird name) is now a sow, which means that she’s given birth. Her first litter was born last year and she had 4 babies. She may be pregnant (like me!) again, but we won’t be able to tell for a while since she’s already our fattest pig!

This video explains the origin of her name and why she is the fattest and biggest of our pigs. Check it out and let us know what you think about our lovely Half-Nose!

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Chatting with Ducks

It’s the middle of winter here, and even though it’s not very cold right now, we’re still dreaming of spring!

This video is a brief look at the enthusiasm our free range & pasture raised ducks show when they think it’s dinner time. When Jason says “duck, duck, duck,” they know good things are coming their way!

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Why Every Day is Turkey Day!

For most folks, Thanksgiving is a fantastic family holiday, a long relaxing weekend, and the beginning of the holiday shopping season. For us, it’s the grand, climactic finale to a year-long quest to make your Thanksgiving a great one.

We spend the entire year thinking about turkeys. No, really, we do. Our year begins and ends with Thanksgiving, so it’s actually our New Year. Let’s just call it the Turkey New Year, why don’t we?

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Happy turkeys!

In the beginning of our Turkey New Year, we spend the first few days celebrating (and eating delicious turkey and duck) and after that we sit down and ask ourselves a few New Year’s resolution questions. Things like:

  • What went well this year with raising our turkeys?
  • What do we wish we had done differently?
  • How many turkeys do we want to raise next year?
  • When do we plan to start incubating and hatching eggs next year?

Once we’ve figured out what we hope for next year, we whip out the calendars and get everything lined up. You’d be surprised at how much scheduling managing a farm requires.

We spend the winter months brainstorming new infrastructure ideas and implementing some of these. Spring always kicks us in the pants and as the poults hatch and arrive we care for them amidst dealing with new chicks, ducklings, and piglets, not to mention caring for the regular crowd of parent turkeys, cows, pigs, layer ducks, and geese that we already have hanging around. Luckily bird babies are always much easier to deal with when they’re little and they eat less (read: cost less $) and spend their time closer to home base (read: safe).

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Where are the turkeys? Standing by me, of course!

When the poults leave the brooder the real (and not so cute) work begins… Moving their pasture space, erecting moveable shelters, feeding them and then feeding them some more, keeping our ears open for predators, clipping wings, and on many, many occasions herding around a crowd of escaped turkeys who (if last year is any indication) might just decide to cross the street in a big, slow mass and go visit the neighbors (read: get back here you #%*&$@!!!!).

This is always the time of year, around September and October, when we wonder if they’ll ever be big enough for Thanksgiving since every time we see them they’re jogging about at full speed for no good reason! And yet, they grow and grow, gathering pasture-raised nutrients and healthy greenery along the way.

And then the grand finale comes… The turkey harvest. By this time all of our turkeys have been spoken for and we know what size and how may birds each customer prefers. This one or two day, epic affair is akin to the intense lead up to High Point’s Furniture Market. A lot of sleepless nights, a lot of making sure everything is “just right,” and a whole lot of adrenaline carries us through.

Then we finally get to breathe, meet with our customers, wish them a Happy Thanksgiving, and send warm thoughts their way. After each customer has their turkey we can excitedly get on with our own Thanksgiving feast. We make our Thanksgiving (Turkey New Year) feast with wild abandon, cooking entirely too much and making the most decadent and creative dishes imaginable. One year we consumed heritage turkey, duck, a venison roast, and a squirrel pot pie as our main protein dishes, and that doesn’t even include the 15+ other sides we cooked. It’s the ultimate feeling of celebration, relaxation, and starting fresh.

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A delicious, roasted turkey!

After the holiday we get emails and pictures from some customers showing us their turkey, or testimonials about how yummy it was. This is the greatest feeling! And then we start all over again… Brainstorming and planning for next year. So if you ever wonder why we seem like busy lunatics in October and November, and like calm and relaxed folks in December, now you know. Every day is Turkey Day!

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A First & Future Generation Farm (2FGF): Happy 2nd Anniversary

With our 2 year wedding anniversary coming up tomorrow, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a homesteader, to raise a family, and to believe that our land carries spiritual and cross-generational significance.

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Our wedding day, on our land. Photo by Jenny Tenney Photography.

Plenty of young farmers our age (30 & 26… Oh yeah, I married a young one!) inherited their land from their parents or even grandparents, on down the line. We did not. We both grew up in cities, with varied experiences of what land, nature, and farming meant. My parents raised chickens and the best veggies you could ever hope to find, as we went hunting, swimming, and camping on land we owned beginning when I was 12 or so. My father grew up a country boy and taught us how to kill and gut our first chicken (how long ago that seems now). Jason’s family has two folds: a maternal side that hails from the tropical beauty and abundance of Puerto Rico, where fruits and other crops grow in backyards and chicken go wherever they please, and a paternal grandfather who always hoped to be a farmer but whose allergies assaulted him every time he tromped through the bushes.

This is our lineage.

I used to feel a bit sad when I read about other farms being Fifth Generation, or any other awesome, unbroken number of generations. I would think about the legacy that, despite the reality of precarious land inheritance, these families continue and carry with them everyday. Both the maternal and paternal sides of my family have memory of family land that for some sad reason or another was lost to the family history, either through development, the Depression, or family disputes. I wager that you have a similar history in the living memory of your family. Just ask your oldest uncle and see.

But although this family land was loved and lost and is now just a memory, it doesn’t detract any value from the land we love and live on now. Jason and I are building a legacy, however long or short-lived it may be, one that we hope our children will love as much as we do. We believe that this legacy will stand the test of time because we are tied to the land, but more importantly, because of what the land means to us.

Our land means life. It means meat and vegetables raised in the healthiest possible way. It means medicine. It means joy watching the leaves change and the pigs farrow and the cows calve. It means memory. Yes, already there is memory here. The trees speak of it and earth remembers. The patch of ground where we said our vows and committed our lives to each other remembers and reminds us. Sacred ground where animals have bled, we have also bled. We use the earth but it also uses us. It takes over our old things, and conquers even the toughest changes we make. And we speak back to it, and ask to use this space for a while, to carve out a place for our children, and our children’s children, and beyond. This land will always be here, until the end of the earth. It will change and morph and gather new history once we are gone, but it will still remember.

Our land is our life. We work on it, live on it, love on it, and one day we plan to die on it. It is the full circle that after two years we have already come to see as what unifies us in all things.

And so even though we start fresh in this land, as First Generation farmers, we are also so much more. We are Future Generation Farmers. We create now what we hope will support and care for our grandchildren, and theirs.  We give as much life as we can in all that we do. It’s a fair trade, because we certainly take as well.

It our most sincere hope that this land will hold a place in the genetic memory of our babies. Science recognizes that the unique microbes existing in certain locations colonize and proliferate inside the bodies and digestive tracts of animals living there (contributing to immunity). So our children (and ourselves) will have a very real biological connection to this place, to these humble and bountiful 16 acres. To me this is epic. An epic connection to an epic place, called home.

Two years ago when I said my vows to Jason, I promised many things. He spoke to me of the memories we’ve already made on this land, and what we’ve lost and what we’ve gained. I said these words then, and I will say them again and forever mean them:

“I will always love you. Until I do not live. Until our children are all that is left of us, I will love you.”

And when the time comes that our children are all that is left of us, this land will live on, through them. This land, and the two farmers who lived their lives on it, will carry on.

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