fall farm update

New Coop

Nathan and Alexander built a chicken coop with downloaded free online plans. This “chick-shaw” can house 30 chickens, never needs cleaning, and is mobile. The boys move it around every few days so that the manure gets spread out throughout the pasture. William lets the chickens out at sunrise and closes them up after dusk, but, really, they return to the coop when the sun goes down on their own. They free range all over the pasture during the day, and a couple of them like to lay their eggs in the sheep’s hay feeder. I don’t think sheep like eggs, we just have to remember to go get them. We currently have 20 hens and 1 rooster. He’s the nicest rooster ever.


Raspberries

We never thought, but raspberries our more prolific in the fall than even the summer harvest. Our variety produces in June and again in September, but this year, we still have some frozen under the snow.


Pigs

Nibbles turned a year old, and we (along with a few customers) are grateful for full freezers. The children are looking forward to bacon and eggs, and mom has meals planned though the winter. We have a fourth pig still growing which will be a year old in the spring.


Pumpkins

We had a very low harvest for all of our garden vegetables this year except for pie pumpkins. They were lustrous and abundant. It’s so delightful to use them around the house until we’re ready for baking them.


Bees

In the fall, Nathan and William add a reducer to the hive entrance. This prevents other insects like wasps from getting in and stealing the honey. We’re still enjoying raw, unfiltered honey, and we have it for sale too! We see a few bees still visit the few wildflowers that are most cold-resistant.


Sheep

We had three lambs born this fall. A singleton and a set of twins. One of the twins had a hard time within the first 48 hours, so we brought her in the house and bottle fed her. Really, force-fed her. She didn’t want to eat for 2 weeks. This is when Nathan noticed that her knee joint was swollen. He did some research and found that lambs that are rejected by their moms are especially susceptible to an infection. Alexander gave her a shot of penicillin for 10 days, and although she’s quite small, she is back in the pasture with the flock and just started eating sweet supplemental grain this week.


Llama

Larry has been the best shepherd for our sheep! We have never had any incident with losing even a lamb to predators. Each time there’s someone going on a walk with their dog or a neighbor riding a horse down our road, he races to the fence and watches. Larry lives with the sheep in the pasture and is always with them.

Fall is quieter than summer. We’re happy to have enough hay till the spring and all the animals buttoned up for the cold weather.

Until next time!

Β with love, Damaris


November Homebody

November air is chilled with the breath of coming winter. We have been waking up to a frost-covered meadow, and it’s magical to see it glisten in the morning’s first light. Everyday, the children look closely at the frost hoping it’s snow, but soon enough, my loves, soon enough. Crowded days of school go swiftly by, and our moments are full. November has also brought evenings of cozy reading aloud while drinking spiced tea. Does this time of the year turn you into a homebody too?

A good day is a slow one at home with a little nesting and a little baking. Time to read and time to make is what has been filling our November so far. The children helped put this list together of our favorite activities:

  1. Collecting leaves and pressing them

  2. Enjoying a bonfire for roasting marshmallows

  3. Taking a leisurely drive to see the colorful trees

  4. Making caramel brulee lattes: 1/4 cup strong coffee, 1 hot (steamed) milk, 2 tablespoons vanilla syrup, 2 tablespoons caramel ice cream topping.

  5. Making a pumpkin pie

  6. Harvesting our autumn garden: butternut and buttercup squash, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and kale – always more kale.

  7. Adding Thanksgiving books to the fall book basket. You can read about our favorite Thanksgiving books here.

  8. Making applesauce and serving it hot

  9. Making the best apple cake with the apples we preserved

  10. Making lots of homemade hot chocolate

  11. Looking forward to spending time with cousins for the holidays and dreaming up a delicious menu

  12. Taking turns adorning the Thankful Tree (full blog post coming tomorrow!)

    As November’s autumnal splendor swiftly fades into all shades of pale, let’s reserve a slow day at home and savor the small slices of life that make us smile.

    with love. Damaris


    Family Currents: Everyone Cleans Up For Fall + A New Recipe!

    It’s late in the season to be harvesting honey, but Nathan was happy for a sunny day to finally get to it. He and William pulled the frames from the hives this weekend, and now it’s in a couple tubs in the garage. They will spin the frames to extract the honey soon, and that will be our 2017 honey harvest! Sometime soon, we’ll write a full post on our adventures in beekeeping.


    I’ve been making beef stew on the stove top since we first got married. And…it was time to try something new! I found this recipe several years ago, and it’s the only stew we all love – LOVE. Beef and Stout Stew is wonderfully wholesome and very hearty nestled in buttery mashed potatoes. This flavorful, full-bodied stew is the most warming addition to your next week’s menu. When you open the lid, you’ll have everyone running to the table! Please tell me you’ll try it!


    We all knew he’d look older when we did it, but Samuel had been needing a haircut for quite awhile. Eva provided him with Daddy’s watch, cellphone, pager, ID badge, and finally a sucker to help get the job done. His strawberry blonde hair is gone!

    with love, Damaris


    Family Currents: Harvest Time!

    Nathan and the boys have been digging up potatoes on and off for the last couple of weeks. Unearthing these gems is one of the greatest rewards of everyone’s summer labor. This year we planted red potatoes and Yukons. There’s tremendous expectation on digging day – much like digging for gold! The potato plant will grow and flower and die back completely before we dig for the tubers. By leaving the potatoes in the ground weeks after the potato plants have died helps to thicken the tubers’ skin which aids in longer shelf life. After they are harvested, we gently brush excess dirt with our hands, and we let them rest in the basement in a single-layer on newspaper for at least a handful of days. This curing process prepares the potatoes for winter storage. Now they are in the basement (needs to be a cool and dark spot) in a cardboard box. If you’ve never tasted homegrown potatoes, you’re missing out on a flavorful, buttery and smooth spud!


    Since fresh oversized summer salads don’t appeal to me lately, I tried to make a simple,”fallish” use of the rest of the veggies. Peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes are still coming in from the garden. A couple of the kids have been helping to chop them up, and then we cooked them in the crock pot all night on high. The next day, we strain them to get rid of the peels and seeds. I filled the pot with what looks like thick juice and added olive oil, garlic salt, and a bay leaf. Cooked it on the stove top until reduced by about half, and voila`! We enjoyed it on pizza last week and on chicken parmesan this week! As you can see, it’s a super versatile veggie compote.


    We recently bought these bowls from Ikea, and we couldn’t be happier that we did. They’re the perfect size and weight for the kids. We use them for oatmeal in the morning, with yogurt at lunch, and fill them with beef stew at dinner. They are a soft white and simply classic. They also have a reduced price on them now too!

    with love, Damaris