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


Family Currents: August Abundance

August has been lambing season! We had marked the week on the calendar as to when the two ewes were due, but the exact day would be a surprise. On the last evening of our trip to Washington DC, we got a little text from a friend who was coming to count the barnyard animals once a day. We were in the outdoor hotel pool, and everybody was out of the water so fast to see pictures of the new addition. By the next week, the second ewe had her lamb, and now one cannot tell the lambs apart. We were surprised at how fast they are and how soft they are. Pure white little beauties!

Our mature pig Holly is due to have her litter in early September! Did you know a female pig’s gestation is 3 months + 3 weeks + 3 days?


Nathan found a swarm of bees in the work shop this week and rehomed them into a hive box. We’ll give it a couple more days to call it a success! Hopefully they like their new home. Then we’ll move the box to join the other hive. This will make a third hive. All of the mid-summer honey has been bottled! Feel free to email us, contact us through this post, Facebook, or Instagram if you’d like to enjoy some raw, unfiltered honey.


We love to go blueberry picking! This U-pick farm has a high bush variety which makes it very easy to reach and fill your bucket without bending low to search for the little fruit. It was a later in August than peak season, so we were left with smaller berries and fewer clusters. We ate our fill while picking and still gathered 8 pounds of blueberries! We enjoyed them all weekend and froze 6 quart bags with the rest.


Samuel’s birthday was mid-August, and it was so much fun to celebrate this sweet baby boy! We cannot handle all his sillies! You can read about his special day here. Since chocolate is his favorite food in the entire world, Eva baked this delicious cake. He was so tickled to open presents with trains, tools, and tractors!


A couple of weeks ago, our family went on a road trip to Washington DC where we attended the Bible Family Conference, visited nearby Arlington Cemetery and Mount Vernon, and of course enjoyed the national monuments, the Smithsonian, and the Museum of the Bible. Wrote about all the trip adventures here. We can’t wait to go back and learn some more! It was a great place for families – and large families too : )


The first Saturday in August always gets marked on the calendar early in the year. Our family doesn’t want to miss the Highland Games! It is such a summer highlight for us! The St. Andrew’s Society of Detroit puts on a full day of Celtic dance competitions, scone and shortbread shops, kilts, swords and traditional jewelry booths, Border Collie dog races, Shetland Sheepdogs and long-haired cattle for petting, caber toss, tug-o’war, hammer throwing, and other traditional Scottish games. We came home with a dozen lavender-lemon shortbreads that were Mmmmmm.


Farm fresh produce are available every day at the farm stand. We pick heirloom tomatoes by the bushel. The dark purple eggplants, sweet corn, okra, bell peppers and jalapenos are glossy and gorgeous. The spaghetti, buttercup, and butternut squashes are perfect, huge, and at the stand. All restocked daily. We also have real maple syrup and raw, unfiltered honey for sale at the farm stand. Come stop by the farm!

with love. Damaris


Family Currents: What we've been up to

Happy August, dear friends! The sun is hot and the tall straight grasses have been cut down. Haying time came in July, and now the hay bales are stacked and stored in the big red barn.


We’re certainly enjoying going through the summer bucket list! We recently went to the Henry Ford Museum and to the lake. Packing a lunch and calling it an adventure day is by far our favorite summertime activity.


Isabel had a birthday in July. She’s now 8 years old, and she’s so happy about it! Isabel has always been the most easy-going, low-maintenance, even-keeled child. She only requested cupcakes, and we made these filled with vanilla pudding. Filled with jam or any pudding is always absolutely delicious.


The two younger ewes are a mixed breed and shed most of their winter coat, but not all of it. After some time of high temperature, we realized we’d need to shear them. Nathan bought a pair of shears online and had his first successful sheep shearing experience. One of these ewes follows him like a dog when he’s in the pasture. Really, all the sheep (even the ram) are gentle and skittish.

By the way, the two older ewes are due to lamb in just a couple of weeks, and I’m giddy with excitement!


We’ve been at the pool everyday (all morning) for swim lessons. I couldn’t get all the children to swim in the same timeslot, so we bring books, a basketball, snacks, and I plop myself by the poolside until lunchtime. A couple of times we’ve taken a walk though the neighborhood, but it’s easier to just play and read while we wait.


Nathan and the boys did a mid-summer honey harvest this past week. We have about 7-8 gallons of raw, unfiltered honey. Couldn’t be more fresh! It tastes so different than the late summer/early fall honey! The color is very golden and the flavor is light and mild. Our honey bees can be spotted at anytime of the day feasting in the herb garden (hyssop, thyme, oregano flowers), the white clover in the pasture, and the vining plants in the garden (cucumber and squash flowers).


We opened the farm stand again this year! Farm fresh produce are available everyday. Eggplants, cabbages, red cabbage, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers, and jalapenos are looking good! The tomatoes are not quite there yet. We also have real maple syrup and raw, unfiltered honey. Come stop by the farm!

with love. Damaris


Family Currents: The Birds and The Bees

A couple of weeks ago, the kids and I went to the orchestra. We have been attending this program for children for years, and it never disappoints! The performance is splendid and the auditorium exquisite. The program welcomes all school groups. While we were there, Samuel hung out at Nathan’s office and pretended shy while everyone hoped for some cuteness.

We are so excited to introduce the new addition to our farm! Harry the ram is a calm male that is wooing our four ewes. Larry the llama doesn’t mind him hanging around, and they’ve welcomed him to the pasture better than we had expected. We hope to grow the flock with some lambs coming late summer!

Alexander and Nathan’s Dad attended an all-day beekeeping class last week and had fun learning some crazy facts. They came back excited to start another season of honey bees.

And that’s a wrap for syrup! Nathan and the boys boiled gallons and gallons of the last sap collected all weekend. We are so very grateful for their labor! This time, the boys got to roast marshmallows, and the girls were oh-so-jealous. We have been enjoying selling this precious amber sweetness. If you would like some 2018 local maple syrup, please contact us by replying to this post or email (under the category contact), Facebook, or Instagram. The supply is limited : )

with love. Damaris


Honey-Apple Dutch Baby Pancake

We have a healthy relationship with honey in our household. It seems each time Nathan is working in the hives, the kids love to eat the raw honeycomb right off his tools. While this is their favorite way to indulge in our honey, perhaps a close second is this Honey-Apple Dutch Baby Pancake.

The cast-iron skillet heating in the kitchen, butter sizzling as it melts, and an eggy batter being whisked can only mean a sweet homemade Dutch Baby Pancake is about to please. Its flavors are pure and simple. This recipe is made with a very simple batter poured over honeyed apples. Baked in a very hot oven until puffed up and golden, it serves up like a giant popover with a honey-butter glaze. A light sprinkling of cardamom adds warmth and an undeniable woody aroma. Since this Dutch Baby Pancake can be made in just a matter of minutes and bakes up quickly, you’ll enjoy more time to savor the silky bites and take your time at the table.

We have used seasonal fruits like peaches or pears with delightful renditions of this delicate Dutch Baby Pancake. When it’s done baking, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see the honey-glazed apple slices arranged like an upside-down cake. A sifting of powdered sugar adds just the touch of sophistication.

Honey-Apple Dutch Baby Pancake*

  • 4 tablespoons of butter

  • 1 or 2 apples, cored and sliced into thin wedges

  • 1/3 cup honey

  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 cup milk (any kind will do)

  • 1 cup flour (used whole wheat with delicious results)

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • powdered sugar for dusting over the top

Heat the oven to 400F. Melt the butter in a 10 or 12 inch oven-safe skillet. When melted, add the apple slices and cook until soft and golden. Turn off the heat and stir in the cardamom and the honey. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, flour and salt. Pour over the hot cooked apples. Bake until puffed up and deep golden about 20 minutes. Slide the pancake onto a large plate or serve it up rustic -we do :). Dusting it with powdered sugar makes it extra special.

*This recipe was inspired by an old Martha Stewart cookbook I found 10 years ago at a garage sale : )

with love. Damaris


Family Currents: New + New + New + New = : )

Breaking into the new honey harvest!

We have bucket-fulls of raw honey from our hives. Nathan, his dad, William, and Alexander spun it out of the honey frames and screened out the wax. It’s so fun to see the difference in the honey the bees produce from year to year – this year’s bee sweetness is more gold than amber, and the raw texture is beautiful! Nathan bottles it fresh for each customer, so contact us through this post, facebook, instagram, or email. You’ll want to get a taste of this year’s honey harvest.

Fresh and green makes the kitchen feel new!

My little potted rosemary is surviving the winter in our kitchen. It’s perched on the window sill, and I water it everyday. Rosemary is my favorite herb in cooking and baking, but I’ve been hesitant to cut sprigs in case it saddens. It’s alive greenness makes me happy.

Fresh textiles bring a new mood!

Two warm days in a row and I already changed up the pillows in my bedroom – hah! Something so simple made the room reflect the sunshine and brightened up the room. It’s amazing how quickly our mood perks up with the sun warmth and glow through the windows. Now I’m off to pick up some Trader Joe’s eucalyptus and spruce up the bathrooms.

Bring on a new year!

This good-lookin’ lad had a birthday this week! He’s the firstborn, and we all enjoyed the excuse to love on him. Last year, his sisters practiced a little dance to perform in celebration of his special day, but this year,I dropped the ball. Nathan ordered a cookie dough ice cream cake for him, which was really fun. Not only did the cake make birthday dinner preparations much simpler, but it was a huge hit. First time, but may not be the last : )

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


Peach Jam

Hello, early autumn morning!

Leaves are changing colors, chipmunks and raccoons are making cozy nests and dens. Butterflies are taking off to warmer places, and we’re all leaning into the sun, enjoying the last juicy peach harvest. I decided on writing this post because making jam can be the most intimidating, all-consuming job, but it doesn’t have to be!

This no-cook, freezer jam is delicious! The peaches were easy to peel and mash. You should know that just as we were about to fill our jars, a little spice was in the air! We added a dash of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg – just because it’s fall.

Pomona’s Universal Pectin has been my favorite go-to for making this quick and easy jam. It has no preservatives or sweeteners, and it thickens with natural pectin (derived from citric fruits). I can find it year-around at Whole Foods, and it’s also available directly through their website. Each box makes 2-4 batches, but we always double or triple and use the whole box. It provides everything you need (including the easy to follow instructions) except for your favorite fruit, a bit of lemon juice, and the sweetener of your choice (agave, stevia, sugar). You’ll also need a little boiling water for the recipe. We’ve enjoyed using honey from our bees, and the honey flavor does come through the jam. We like 4 cups of fruit to 1 1/2 cups sweetener. It’s really delicious, and we enjoy the fresh taste and color of freezer jam!

There is no need to prepare jars for canning with freezer (no-cook) jam, which simplifies the process. Any container to fill with jam will do, but allow 1/2 inch at the top of the jar for expansion when frozen. We found that it’ll stay fresh in the fridge for a couple of weeks, or freeze it to preserve longer. We have used raspberries and strawberries in the past with great success. Remember that the jam will continue to thicken in the fridge. Pears, apples, and raspberries are in season, and this pear-vanilla jam is our next preserving adventure!

Very soon, the wind will get breezy and chill, and we’ll hear thunder’s low rumble from far away. And when the clouds loom over our quiet meadow, we’ll sink into the warmth of dinner rolls spread with sweet, spiced peach jam.

with love. Damaris


Family Currents

Making jam when summer fruit is at its peak is fun and oh-so-delicious! While the boys have been busy working in the barn, the girls and I have made several batches of strawberry freezer jam and plan to make blueberry jam too. With freezer jam, there is no huge pot of boiling water, no precise timing, no sterilizing, and no extra heat in the house! Really, there is no mess. We’ve used honey and also Sucanat as the sweetener, and this pectin works well with both. I always pick it up at Whole Foods, but other health food stores should carry it too.


We thought we were ripe for a farm update! We’ve been eating early girls and grape tomatoes and sharing with our neighbor. We’ve also been enjoying the sweet green peppers and banana peppers. Six cauliflower heads are clean and ready to roast for dinner tonight, and the cabbages look enormous! Kale just keeps coming so we haven’t bought lettuce or spinach all summer. On a sad note, a raccoon feasted on the corn and knocked a few stalks down. Booooo.


Nathan and the boys just put some more hive boxes together, and Nathan placed them on the hives. The kids know that if they give him a hand, they’ll usually get to sample some honey off of his hive tool! We brought in a bowl of some comb and honey which he scraped out of the frames – it’s the best! It seems to be different every time we harvest, this time, so flowery. Mid-summer honey is a pale amber and the comb is delicious to chew on!

with love, Damaris