Farm Fresh Eggs!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Normally, I like to stay up to date with what is going on in the world.  As a full-time librarian, it really is my job to know current events.  So how the price of eggs sky-rocketing got past me, I will never know.

How I did find out was during a conversation with a couple of scout parents during a camp-out.  It just so happens that we all own chickens and were talking about how our chickens were laying during the summer as well as who was brooding, etc.  One of them brought up the fact that they were so glad that they were getting eggs and not having to buy them at the store because of the cost.  Of course I had to ask about this, because honestly the last time I noticed the price of eggs, it was just under $2.00/dozen.  That is when I was told that the cost of eggs is now almost $5.00/dozen because of the Avian Flu.  


I was completely shocked!  It has been almost a year since we have bought eggs in the store.  So to be honest I really don't pay attention to egg prices.  But to not even read about this or hear this on the summer is just too busy I guess.

So with the news of soaring egg prices and then seeing those prices for myself, I knew that I needed to take even better care of "our girls."  Don't get me wrong, our chickens are well taken care of.  But with those kinds of prices, the eggs they are laying now are like golden eggs!  We currently have 5 hens and we get anywhere from 3-4 eggs a day.

Our Girls (as well as Mr. Rooster)
It is situations like these where I am so thankful that we are growing our sustainable farm.  To be honest, I don't know if we could really afford the $5.00/dozen eggs in the store.  We would just have to try and do without or make substitutions, especially in baking.

Even though having chickens is work, it is well worth it to be able to feed my family something that is a good source of protein.  Also I know where those eggs came from.  I know how the chickens are raised, and what they are fed.  I know how they are treated, and I know that they don't live in poop all day long. ;-) And in times like this I don't have to worry about the fluctuations of the store prices.  For those that can't have chickens either because they don't have room, or because of city ordinances, I would suggest checking out a local farm, or farmer's market.  Usually the prices are a LOT more stable than a regular grocery store.

So what are the egg prices in your neck of the woods? Let me know in the comments below.

Throw Back Thursday: Strawberry Pie

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Today's #TBT recipe is not actually an old family recipe.  I actually got this recipe from Pinterest, but did adapt it a little for our tastes and what I had on hand.  So are you wondering why I am not doing a throwback recipe?  Well, I thought I would switch things up a bit.  What is throwback is the act of making the pie.  In my family we would make a day of it and get together making pies to freeze.

When I was little, my grandmother and mom would always spend a day together during the summer making pies to put in the freezer for the winter.  It was usually during a time that we had fruit harvested from our trees.  At the time, between my parents and grandparents we had access to apple trees, peach trees, pear trees, and cherry trees. 

We would spend one day picking, another day preparing the fruit, and then the third would be pie making day.  The pears were the only fruit that we did not make pies out of.  We either ate those right off the tree, or they would be canned to enjoy "as the snow flies" like my grandma would always say. 

I loved these days and have great memories from them.  As soon as I was old enough, I would help them with the pies.  I loved to help roll out the dough and I loved to hear stories that they would tell about when my mom was a little girl.

My sister and I got together and made strawberry preserves one day and we had some strawberries left over.  So I thought it would be great to make a couple of pies.  Since this is a one crust pie, I made one recipe of my Mom's Blue Ribbon Pie Crust recipe, put it in the pie dishes and baked for about 10 minutes.

Then we added strawberries, and made the gelatin syrup to go over the strawberries.  After that, all you have to do is chill the pie, and then enjoy!

You can watch the YouTube video.

Or you can print out the adapted recipe HERE.  The original recipe can be found at With a Grateful Prayer and a Thankful Heart.

A Great Father's Day!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I hope that you all had a great father's day!  I know that we did.  I can't begin to tell you how lucky I am to have such a wonderful husband who is also an amazing dad.

I am also lucky to have such a great dad who was a positive influence on me during my childhood.

My dad circa 1960
Waking up on father's day, our son wanted nothing more than to cook breakfast for his dad.  So I let the kids take over the kitchen and thanks to what my son has learned in scouts, and my daughter has learned from helping me in the kitchen, they needed very little help from me when it came to the actual cooking.

Drew and Carly preparing to cook
 Of course I was there for moral support and to rescue them if they needed it, but I was pleasantly surprised that they had this handled!

Drew cooking scrambled eggs
Even though everything went well, my first thought was to say no.  I knew that they would make a mess, and I knew that I would probably have to help clean up.  Sometimes it is just easier to do things yourself.  But what kind of a lesson would I be teaching my children if I didn't let them try things, especially on their own?

Yes my kitchen was a mess, and yes I did have to help with the clean-up.  But what my children gain was a sense of accomplishment and a bit of self-esteem as they told grandparents and aunts and uncles that they were able to fix breakfast by themselves.

It was worth every bit of that mess to see how happy it made them.  And it was nice to see how impressed my husband was with the special breakfast that he got from his kids.  So go ahead and let your children help.  Take the time to make a little mess, and encourage them.  After all it is the only way they will learn.

Happy Father's Day!

Throw Back Thursday: Raisin Pie

Thursday, June 18, 2015
My dad's 80th birthday was not that long ago.  Instead of a cake, he requested that I make him a raisin pie.  He grew up with his mom making these quite a bit.  In fact I remember when I was little she would always make them whenever we got together for a big family gathering.  And let me tell you our family gatherings were big!  My dad had 10 brothers and 1 sister.

I used my grandmother's raisin pie recipe to make this, but I did use my mom's blue ribbon pie crust recipe for the crust.  So this post is just about the filling.  To me it is so good and not too sweet.  And of course it brings back great memories of my grandmother.

To start out you will need to boil the raisins in some water to plump them up.  Here I  have combined the water and the raisins and will bring them to a boil, then turn down the burner and let them simmer for about 25 minutes.

Getting ready to boil
While you are waiting on them to cook, you can go ahead and roll out the pie dough.  After that mix together the sugar, corn starch, and pinch of salt in a separate bowl to add to the raisins later.

After the raisins have simmered, add in the lemon juice, and the butter and stir.  Then add in the corn starch, sugar, and salt mixture to the raisins and mix well.

Pour it into an unbaked pie shell and top it with a top crust and bake it in a preheated 375°F oven for about 45 minutes.  Be sure and check after about 20 minutes to make sure that the edges of the crust aren't burning.  If they are, cover just the edges with foil and continue baking.

Fresh baked pie!
 Once done, take out of oven and let cool.  I made this one day ahead of time.  I normally like warm pie, but in this case I needed that extra day to have plenty of time to make the pie.

Sliced pie
And here is the pie at my dad's birthday party.  I had just sliced it and was getting ready to give him the first piece.

My dad taking the first bite.  Baby Jasper wants a bite, Papa!

Dad gave me the thumbs up on the pie.  So glad that he liked it and that I could make it for him for such a momentous birthday!

Check out my YouTube video of making this raisin pie HERE.

And to print a copy of the raisin pie filling recipe, click HERE.

I hope you all enjoyed this recipe.  Let me know...have you ever had raisin pie?

Our Garden is Finally Planted!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Our garden is finally planted...and growing!  I really didn't think that it was going to happen.  I can't tell you how worried I was.

We are always late with planting.  It seems like there is one thing or another that keeps us from getting our garden in on time.  Usually it is the weather.  This year there were other things as well that kept us from planting. One was that our tiller wasn't working.  But thanks to my handy husband, he got it going and got the garden tilled.

A lovely tilled garden

 Because I wasn't completely healed from my surgery, we did have a little help from my sweet mother-in-law.  She was more than willing to come over and help with the planting.  In fact her and my husband did the majority of the work.

I had lots of help

 What I was especially excited about this year was that I was able to plant some shelly bean seed that had been saved from plants that my grandparents had.  These seeds have been passed down from a couple of generations.  There was not much left and I was really nervous about planting them in case nothing came up.  But the thought of planting those beans was exciting at the same time. 

Shelly beans handed down from my grandparents.
In case you are wondering, shelly beans are similar to pinto or brown beans.  We cook them up in our family just like brown beans.  And they taste wonderful with a slice of cornbread.  Yum!

We also had help from the infamous Sox.  You remember the one that loved to get into my tomato seedlings?

Sox (in a box). :-)

And of course, there is only one way to plant a garden...

Bare feet

So tell me...

How does your garden grow?

My #TBT Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe - Update

Friday, June 12, 2015

I am so excited that one of my follower's has not only tried my #TBT Peanut Butter Cookie recipe, but she made a video about it!  I love it when people enjoy my recipes!  Please check out her video below, and check out her YouTube channel as well!  Thanks Kristin!

Throw-Back-Thursday Recipe: Mom's Blue Ribbon Pie Crust

Thursday, June 11, 2015
Welcome to #TBT recipe day!  I love these posts and I am happy that I can share them with you.  What is special about today's post is that I actually have a video for you.  This is the beginning of my video segment on my grandmother's raisin pie.  

My grandmother, or Granny as we called her, was born in 1901.  She experienced WWI as a new bride getting married in 1918 and made it through the depression years with several children.  She also experienced WWII having at least three of her sons serve during that time, but all came home safe.  With my grandfather they raised 11 boys and 1 girl.  They knew hard times and good times.  They had their struggles, but they always survived.  The raisin pie recipe is hers, but we will get to that next week. ;-)

For this week's recipe, I wanted to share my mom's blue ribbon pie crust recipe.  This is the go to crust recipe that my family uses for all our pies.  It is light and flaky, and just down right good!  It is also very easy to make.  

So sit back, sip a tall glass of sweet tea (it is summer after all), and enjoy my mom's recipe!

So let me know in the comments, do you make your own pie crust or buy it?

UPDATE: Get the printable version of the recipe here.

Throw-Back-Thursday Recipe: Roast Beef Sandwich Spread

Thursday, June 4, 2015
I can't tell you how excited I am about this recipe post!  And the best part is that I had a very special helper.  My mom!  This recipe goes way back in my family on my mom's side and it is one of those where there is no recipe written down.  It has just been passed down from one generation to the next.  Honestly it is so simple that you really don't need a recipe.  Plus, you can change it up how you want.

Yummy Roast Beef Sandwich Spread

I should mention that this post is going to be photo heavy, but I just couldn't help myself.  Now for the recipe.  I have mentioned before that my grandparents had a dairy farm while I was growing up.  I loved visiting them on their farm and I have some great memories.  One of my most favorite memories is when we had to go and help my grandpa haul hay in the summer.  It was during this time that I learned how to drive a truck, as well as learned about the importance of storing hay so that the cows had something to eat during the winter.  But most importantly I learned how to drive a truck!

It was during hay season that my grandma, Nan, would fix the most delicious sandwich spreads for our lunches.  The men needed something quick and easy to grab so that they could go back to their work, or even eat while working.  All of the sandwich spreads were homemade.  Nan would make these using a meat grinder, and there were usually a couple of different kinds to choose from.  Ham was my favorite, and my mom always like the pork roast one.  I guarantee you cannot buy anything that tastes like this in the store!

The other night I decided to fix a beef roast for my family.  I put it in the crock pot and let it cook all day.  I did marinate it with some italian seasoning and a jar of peperoncinis.  That is one of our favorite ways to fix it. However, after cooking it all day, the meat was so tough, I thought I was going to have to throw it out.  That is when I thought of Nan's homemade sandwich spread.  I knew it couldn't hurt to try it.  The meat wasn't edible as is, so I had my mom come over the next day to help me out.

My beautiful Mama!
Here are the ingredients that we used to make the spread.  I have my roast beef, an onion, a pint jar of homemade bread and butter pickles, and sandwich spread.  You could also add in some carrots, or celery if you like.  Whatever tickles your fancy!  You can also see that I am NOT using a meat grinder.  What I love about this recipe is that I can use my food processor and chop everything up and then throw it all together.  Easy peasy!

Our ingredients, the beef is in the bowl (in case you were wondering)

The first thing we did was chop up the beef.  My mom helped by cutting the beef into smaller pieces before we actually put it into the food processor.  I think this helped and in the end there weren't any big pieces left in the processor.

I love cooking with my mama!

We also chopped the beef in batches.  I really didn't want to overwork my food processor and again, I wanted to make sure that it all chopped up the same size and that there were no big pieces.

I love my food processor!  The beef is all chopped

After the beef was done, then I threw a quartered onion  into the food processor and chopped that the same size as the beef.

Notice I didn't have to wash the processor bowl between ingredients, I love that!

Here you can see that they are the same size after I added the onion to the beef.

Chopped onions

Next comes the pickles.  I did this the same way.  I put the whole jar (minus some of the juice) into the food processor and then added that to the beef and onion mixture.

Chopped pickles added to beef and onion

After that you can add celery or carrots.  I chose not too.  I was happy with just that.  I did add some salt and pepper.  Now you just need to add the sandwich spread, or mayonnaise, whatever you prefer. And add as much as you prefer.  I didn't get a picture of that.  My mom was just too efficient and had it done before I knew it!  What I can tell you is that for our amount  she put in two big serving spoons, stirred it and then added two more.  Again it is all in what you prefer!

One thing to remember is that it is important to add the sandwich spread last.  There will be juice from the onion and pickles, and if you add the sandwich spread first, it might end up being too soupy.

And that's it folks!  The hubs loves it!  And so do the kids.  It is great on bread or crackers.  I have really been enjoying it and the taste of it brings back so many great memories!

I hear a sandwich calling my name...

I hope that you enjoy this recipe.  And let me know, if you have ever made your own sandwich spread.

Sometimes I Wonder If It's Worth It

Tuesday, June 2, 2015
While I didn't grow up on a farm, I spent many days in my childhood at my grandparent's dairy farm.  I have always wanted to have my own farm and raise my children with that kind of life, and in the process teach them some valuable and great life lessons. I know that farm life is hard. There are many set-backs and it is far from being a glamorous job, or one that you can get rich at.  Carrying hay to cows as you sink down in knee deep snow, having to carry buckets of water for the animals because the pipes froze, and having your crops eaten by deer, racoons or your own dog are just to name a few.  But with what has happened the past several days, I have begun to wonder if it really is worth it. 

We currently have 7 chickens,  4 ducks,  and one guinea.  We originally had 4 guineas but 3 of them were killed. Knowing that they like to be in groups we put the lone survivor in with our chickens.  It seemed to work but there are days where they just don't get along. In fact they are just  like children. Best friends one day, enemies the next. There is definitely a group dynamic being played out daily in our chicken coop.  Throw in 4 ducks to the mix and there are times where you have bedlam.

They seem calm now...

My story starts with last Thursday.  This was the day where we had one of our roosters (we have 2), and our guinea to get out of the chicken run.  And where did they end up?  My freshly planted garden!  Of course trying to chase them out just ran them further through the garden and all I could think about was that my garden was ruined!  To add to that, as Carly and I were trying desperately to get them back, the 4 ducks escaped and you guessed it!  They too went right to my garden!  It must have been a site to see, me chasing the rooster and guinea, Carly going after the ducks.  She had just got the ducks put up, and was back helping me when the ducks got out again.  I was ready to cry.  It was time to leave for Carly's tumbling class and we were both muddy and out of sorts.  Luckily with the help of my husband who had just gotten home from work, we were able to get everyone back in.

As if that wasn't enough drama, the very next day after my husband came home from work, he asked if I had seen our calves lately.  Come to think of it, I didn't believe that I had seen them in a couple of days!  So he started looking for them.  And they were no where to be found on our land.  That week we had experienced some bad storms, high winds and lots of rain.  Steve had found several places where the fence was down.  He called our neighbor and asked if he could look on their land, and thank goodness the calves were there and alright!  People may not realize it, but cattle thieves still exist and of course that is what I was thinking.  

Trouble makers!

So while the calves got home safe and sound, that meant that there was a lot of fence that needed to be mended.  A. Lot. Steve spent three days working on all the fence that goes around our entire property and fixing all the spots where the calves could get out.  And while he loves doing that kind of work, it was exhausting, hard work.  

One (out of many) of our new fence posts. Nice work honey!

Which brings us to last night.  Steve had just finished putting in the last  fence post and stretching the wire.  He came into the house and asked if our dog Abby had gotten into the pen with the ducks.  My heart froze in fear.  I asked if the ducks were alright and he said no.  Then I asked if they were dead and he said no.  I told him that Abby had not gotten into the pen with them.  Then he said that two of the ducks had their feathers torn off their backs.  

He brought the ducks in and thanks to a friend of mine that also has ducks, I knew that I needed to put some triple antibiotic ointment on their skin to help heal and protect.  One duck was worse than the other, and I was just sick to think about the trauma they went through.  We think that one of the roosters got to them and was trying to breed them.  So instead of a shower and resting, Steve had to reinforce the chicken and duck pens to make sure that they couldn't get to each other. And I had to reassure the kids that the ducks would recover.  In fact this morning, the ducks are doing much better.  Their little backs look horrible, but they are eating, drinking, and hanging with their buddies.  

The two in the middle were the ones with feathers gone.  Poor babies!

So with all this happening within less than a week's time, I have begun to wonder, is it really worth it?  It is so much work.  Like I said earlier, I knew it was going to be hard work, but it is harder than I ever thought it would be.  It has lots of heartache with it too.  But there are also the good times.  Like the first time we got eggs.  The produce that we got from our garden last year and everything we canned for the winter.  The freezer full of beef to help feed our family and cut down on grocery bills. The kids learning to bottle feed calves.  And more importantly the life lessons that my kids are being taught.  They see the good with the bad.  They are learning that in life, not everyone wins, and not everyone gets a medal.  They are learning that hard work is the key to success, and that being rich does not mean having a bank full of money.  

So in the end I guess maybe it is all worth it.  At least it is giving us adventures that we can have, share, and remember.  

What about you?  What are some of the struggles you have had?
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