KW Homestead

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

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Happy Ducks Come Home

This video is a brief look at the beginning of our ducks’ nighttime routine here on the homestead. After we call “duck, duck, duck!” they come running back to their nighttime space to wait for their evening meal. We just added fresh bedding (consisting of leaves) before this video was filmed, and since ducks are hunters at heart, you can see them searching through the bedding in case any bugs are hiding.

Check out the video below!

 

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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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Beware the Label “Free Range”

Everyone knows that poultry labeled as free range is better than poultry that isn’t, right?

Sadly, you might have to think again!

According to the USDA website, which controls and manages food safety and food labeling, all that is required of producers who raise meat labeled as “free range” or “free roaming” is that they must “demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside.”

So what does this really mean? It means that producers can raise their birds with less than 1 square foot of space each, they can raise them on a concrete floor, under fluorescent lighting, living on layers of their own poop, as long as they have “access to the outside.” Access to the outside can mean a small door that leads to a parking lot, a fenced in concrete slab, or a lovely pasture. You can see the problem here…

Free range or organic doesn’t actually say anything about how humanely the birds are raised, or whether or not they actually ever go outside and enjoy the sunshine, grass, and bugs.

Industrial chicken porch

This is a “porch” in a commercial poultry operation that counts as “access to the outside.” Image from cornucopia.com.

Your best bet as a consumer is to buy locally, and get to know your farmer so you can really be sure of how your meat and eggs are raised!

So what does the life of a truly free range duck look like here at KW Homestead? Check out the video below to see how they live…

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Mama Pigs Love the Woods!

We recently posted about how amazingly well electric netting works for managing livestock and poultry. This video shows you how happy our mama pigs are as they explore their newest wooded area.

You can see that they are snacking away, completely uncaring about if our arrival is accompanied with food. They do a fantastic job of finding delicious treats and slowly clearing space in the forest floor. This gives us a chance to remove small trees and other growths to ensure a sunnier future for that stretch of woods.

Check out the video below, and enjoy the sweet, subtle sounds of being a pig.

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Electric Netting: Managing Animals the Easy Way!

We began our fencing journey solely with cattle panels and chicken wire, and eventually transitioned to electric fencing in places where it made the most sense. We started working with single strand electric, which never worked quite as well as we wanted (except for the cows!), and we decided to make the transition to electric netting for many of our pigs and all of our poultry. It’s the best decision we’ve EVER made here at KW Homestead!

There are so many benefits to working with electric netting… It’s easy to set up and take down, it contains even small piglets and birds, it’s durable and flexible, it never gets tangled (unlike single strand), and many more reasons!

Check out this video to see Jason explaining why electric netting is just the greatest!

 

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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?

turkeys

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).

turkeys

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.

turkey

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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