Is there any week update that isn’t a hodge podge of information?
Trying to get hens to go broody, to celebrating the colorful egg basket we are getting, to making strides on our sheep and drowning in maple syrup and cream cheese.
This is one of those weeks you sit down and look at your life surrounding you and just smile.
I feel like I have found my calling – I have found a way to enjoy nature without feeling forced. I have found a way to eat healthy without feeling like I am missing out. Bonding with my children in doing all of these things.
My doings are not much different week to week, but this week I am feeling grateful. Grateful for opportunities I am presented and grateful for being able to create a life I love, and love to share.
Thank you, Lord!
Trying to Create a Broody Hen.
This is the only year I have had a rooster in spring – three of my roosters are from last spring’s ‘litter’. I have been looking forward to this spring for baby chicks!
We have tried hatching chicks in an incubator when the incubator faulted out and none of our eggs hatched. Womp womp.
Every spring we purchase a few chicks from our local feed store, or even local farmers… but it just is not the same. Especially when every spring at least ONE hen goes broody, except THIS spring. Boooo.
My #1 broody hen – Big Red. She has gone broody multiple times a year since I got her. I have been trying to make her (or any hen) go broody by placing all of our eggs in one nesting box. She has been showing broody signs, but I wonder if she hasn’t collected quite enough eggs. She has sat on the eggs for the majority of the day, but isn’t full-blown broody yet. After tomorrow, she should have enough eggs to send her to full-broody mode.
I don’t need anymore chickens, but I meeeeean, can you ever have ENOUGH chickens? 🙂
Speaking of broody hens, can we talk about eggs?!
Black Betty was supposed to produce dark brown eggs – she is a Black Marans. I got her home and once she settled into the flock and began laying for me, she produced an average colored brown egg. They were VERY frequent and large, so I didn’t complain.
I was disappointed though. Black Betty’s eggs were not quite different from my other hens. So I purchased two Marans chicks (Batman and Copper) from the feed store this winter. Tick-tock to this spring and my Black Betty laid her first egg – that beauty is pretty dark. NOT as dark as SOME Marans, but satisfyingly dark. Oops, I guess I will have two more dark egg layers. *Shrug*
I do, believe, that one of my chicks is a rooster though. Time will tell. This has got to be the first time I suspected a rooster and didn’t set in a panic that would last months.
This Easter we will probably design our colorful farm eggs instead of coloring white eggs from the store. I have always wanted to do that.
So *THIS* is Maple Flow.
This week was like the Niagara Falls of sap flow. Seriously.
This is my first year tapping Maple Trees and I was getting 1/2 – 1 gallon of sap a day. Since the beginning of the week we have gotten 5-10 gallons of sap a day! Holy cannoli! For our trees, 5 gallons of sap produces 24oz of syrup.
The trees are about to bud, so this will be extremely short-lived, but I am definitely reaping the benefits!
My husband and I decided that our small operation of boiling indoors was no longer efficient, the amount of propane used to evaporate the sap was quite expensive. Luckily my husband is an engineer of sorts and began his career in welding – he manufactured a hot box of sorts, pictured above.
It is more mobile than a cinder block set-up, and takes up less room for our small batches. The first prototype we had a small failure, which we will fix by cutting some holes in the top of the box. This will allow more direct heat to hit the pan making it boil hot enough to produce syrup.
We will continue to use and perfect our set-up through Birch season – just around the corner!
You mean cream cheese is THIS easy to make?!
One of my guilty pleasures is cream cheese.
I could eat ALL of the cream cheese.
On English Muffins, on pretzel chips, on rice cakes, with peanut butter, with everything bagel seasoning. Just give me all of the cream cheese.
This is like my post earlier this week about granola bars – when the family consumes any obnoxious amount of food that is not made by me I begin to stress out. I searched ways to make cream cheese and by golly it is easy as pie! Some milk, some buttermilk, some cream and some rennet. Voila, cream cheese!
My first batch of cream cheese was EXTREMELY delicious, but I thought it was too creamy and let it drain a few hours longer than what was on the recipe. This made the cream cheese slightly more sour than it was in the earlier hours. It is definitely not bad, just not as ‘cream cheesy’ as it was prior. This is why I always taste my recipes as I make them – to see where the sweet spot is – in the event that I miss it, like this time.
I will perfect this recipe to my liking, and share it. I won’t share a recipe that is not going to make you go into the corner and wolf the whole batch down to yourself. 🙂 Not that I would ever do that….
Making Strides on Breaking the Ewes.
Seeing as Minnesota has been blessing us with warm weather, our family has been spending copious amounts of time outside. When we have time to be outside, I love sitting with the sheep. This is how I ‘broke’ our male sheep in last fall.
Sheep are such funny animals.
They seem to be so friendly and cuddly and trusting. I have read many places that they are the dumbest farm animals that exist. Dumber than the stones on the ground.
When we decided to include sheep on our farm, I was very curious as to how these creatures exactly operate.
They are skiddish. Not just regular skiddish, they have ZERO trust in humans.
It wasn’t just the farm we got them from either. We got our lambs from two separate farms and they are all scared of being pet.
I broke our whether (castrated ram) and our ram last fall. Our ewes were brought to our farm right before snowfall, so I hadn’t had the chance to sit with them as long as I had the boys.
The 4-year-old is a whole 6 mos older than he was when we got the sheep, and he has that much more experience having sheep. He is much more interested in getting them to enjoy his company than he was in the beginning. We worked together to get the sheep used to our company, and eventually even accepting scratches.
It may sound little, but this took a few hours. We were both proud of how we had gained the trust of the ewes. They are not broken to my liking yet, but we made a GIANT stride this week.
This summer our sheep should be begging for human attention. I cannot wait to give them all the pets.
Breaking sheep is the a great lesson in patience.
If you ever have any questions, or ideas for future blogs, comment below or shoot me an email!
From the farm,