All posts by Patti

Daily Breads for Homestead Eating

I decided when I ran out of store bought bread last month that I was going to get in the habit of making bread products for every day consumption.

Artisan bread lasts me about a week. It’s chewy but flavorful. Trail biscuits aka baking powder biscuits are OK but they’re rather heavy for my taste but I do like how they taste hot and smothered in butter. I think they won’t be as heavy if I practice more and perfect my skills.

Saltines made at home make the store bought kind seem bland and stale. I made oyster crackers and different flavors of snack cracker. The cheese cracker being my favorite.

I want to be in the habit of being able to bake any of my daily bread products by memory every single day or at least doing two or three different but similar bread, crackers for instance in a day to put in jars and have the rest of the week.

It seems to me that is a forgotten skill because we buy all of our bread products at grocery stores. Even the dinner rolls I like. My Mother and Grandmother could throw bread together without a second thought.

I’ll start a recipe page where the Featured Farm page is currently.

Clear Off the Greenhouse

I try not to put the buildings under any undue snow stress by regular clearing of the snow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I scoop the lower one third of the roof and then shove the snow back. This is only the first real accumulation and I don’t want to start  a giant snow mound so I shovel the lower 1/3rd and fill in the gaps between the wall and the snow.

 

That piece of plastic I put over the greenhouse every fall helps with snow removal.

Sprouts

I like to give the chickens a lot of different foods during the winter to keep them healthy and to keep them warm.

I make a forage of oat and barley.

I have an aluminum roasting pan that I poked holes in and I keep it in the bathroom

I think living food has more nutrients and it certainly keeps my birds healthy.

I add a half scoop of oats and a half scoop barley. Water well in the sink for several days until you can see the root mat starting to form.

The super light green stalks appear and  you can give it a daily soaking and put it near the windows after it drains well.

The sprouts form a thick mat and you can cut it into chunks and shred it apart when you feed

 

 

 

 

 

Just More Snow

Beautiful light powdery snow.  Everything all perfect and quiet.

I took some of the straw I had composting in the greenhouse and used it inside the outside part of the chicken coop to try and coax them birds outside.

 

We got a few inches of snow the last couple of days.

I age the   straw so it’s powdery but not moldy.

It doesn’t take a whole lot I filled the muck tub but only used about half of it.  I started at the chicken door and worked toward the feeder.

I set up the back door yard to maximize my work area.

Winter is a good time to see your progress  I like being able to get to everything every day in the snow.

I still have to set up  the summer kitchen gardens again but I had so much other things to do I decided to have a fallow year to feed and replenish the spring gardens and re-plan the greenhouse.

 

 

Chickens Gotta Eat

20161209_091208As well as getting their daily scratch, corns, sprouts, oat and wheat groats a week they like two warm meals, one in the morning and one an hour or two before the bed down, warm bucket of water right outside the door to drink all day before I take it inside on the last trip outside.

Being full makes them gain weight and store fat instead of laying eggs.

The fat they gain now is the eggs they lay in spring. I am going to figure out a way to incubate the eggs. They go into brooding seasons on their own time schedule. The old hens are more broody than the young or middle aged ones.

20161129_092117The size difference between Elvis the rooster, age 6, seen here in the back on the top right and the 6 month old cockerel with the tall tail feathers to the left by the hub cap feeder. The yellow hens are 2 year old hens, the darker reds are 5 and 6 years. Still lay pretty good reliably because all but the oldest ones have ever been fed layer mash. And all my egg bound hen illness or deaths quit.

I only harvest young cockerels for meat so I get hens that lay pretty regularly, more than enough eggs for my needs. And the hens get to live out their natural lives until they die of old age.

When I have a specific meal for a mature hen, I always take the healthiest of the hens who make it to middle aged. And the older they are the more delicious, if chewy they are. Best soup in the world. I also like to render the yellow fat and make schmaltz. You can make delicious duck fat as well.

 

 

 

Another Bitter Day

There is enough snow to make the chickens content to sit around and roost and sleep away the day. They keep in close contact with each other and the hen house, roosting on the outdoor perches catching afternoon sunshine. They do go out on short forays but with daytime high temperature of 7 degrees the third real cold night expected to continue.   20161208_100644

If you have healthy birds that have a place to be dry and out of the weather, I like to use at least a foot of straw on the floor and in the nest boxes. I don’t feed layer mash at all so their bodies are not taxed by laying eggs because they are dormant so they are able to deal with cold temperatures easily.

 

The rooster Elvis is also happy to snooze and eat and snooze again during the short day. He’s a big bodied mature rooster.  

 

The young birds, this years hatchling yeild is 3 hens and a cockerel who I will harvest around Christmas. I wish I knew how to make a capon out of him and keep him until he is more full sized and bigger bodied.

I know it used to be more common in the past do that kind of stuff at home, I have seen some instruction videos but, I don’t know if I could do it without having some first hand knowledge first.

But it would give you a much bigger heritage bird specifically for eating. The deal with that is the expense of feeding a soft fat bird who temperamentally is docile and more hen like in nature. Eliminates fighting and injuries with breeding rooster.

A capon by definition is “a castrated domestic cock fattened for eating”. That’s what makes heritage birds make more sense. Don’t get me wrong, I love fresh fried young rooster but imagine a fresh tender heritage chicken that is twice the size and twice as tender. So instead of 6 months to harvest heritage breed vs the capon harvest at 12 months, even 18 months.. (store bought chickens 6 weeks old)  20161208_100951

Because as delicious as I find fresh young homegrown chickens that are seasonal Heritage Chicken breeds they can be pretty tough. There’s ways to slow down and stop that rigidity when you process the birds. I’ll cover that as it happens. But free range chickens get daily exercise so their legs can be pretty chewy. The flavor will make store bought birds not worth buying and keeping meat as the luxury meal it is.

I have been teaching myself daily forms of daily bread projects. I’m learning a lot and it’s awesome. The chickens love eating all the inedible failures and leftovers.

 

Winter Feed Mix

20161204_091845I have both wet grain, dry grain mix, forage Foods. I make them a nice warm cooked grain dish for very cold mornings. I have to rinse the grains I soak almost to the point of rooting.

After germination when the nutritional load is optimal. The seed is no longer dormant but a living seed. I rinse the grains every day to keep fresh. It’s easier to make up two and three day supplies every couple days.

It helps to keep them from fermenting, which is OK
because the chickens love that too. 20161206_092321

I keep a staple of dry scratch feed available too. I fortify it with hard red wheat and cracked corn.

It is not a lot of work for just a family flock. I try and supplement with pumpkins and oat and barley spouts which I will cover later.

20161206_092440                                                             I use these old hub caps as wet feeders. I drain the majority of the water before I pour the feed into the feeder so any left over liquid will quickly drain and doesn’t get frozen. Fresh and clean food is imperative to healthy birds.

I had too much trouble with egg bound hens when I fed layer mash and I highly recommend not using it if you keep your chickens as a stable flock. I find older hens roost and raise the babies for months longer. Giving them value to the flock after they slow down or quit laying completely.

 

My chickens do not like walking in snow.                                       20161206_092502
Eventually they do come out but on super cold days they like to stay inside and eat from they dry food, only coming out under their little awning and get a drink of water.

Which of course I carry in at night to keep it from freezing solid.

 

20161206_092721                                                      Once they get walking around on the snow, it melts off and they have roosts to perch on and stuff to do. The first couple days of winter weather for my birds is a slow start. I try to find things for them to do but the rest from laying eggs during the cold months and feeding foods that let them store body fat pays off in eggs in the spring.

It’s also important for the mental well being of the birds to be able to rest and sleep on a natural, seasonal cyclical rhythm.

Good Snow Day

It’s days like this it’s nice to have food set by. The chickens are content to eat and sleep inside their hen house during the snowy day  Inside I made myself a pair of fur leggings to help keep my lower legs warm. I walk out to feed and water the chickens several times a day. So once they get cold they tend to stay cold, for weeks at a time. It gets cold up here in the rocky mountain winter.

Today when I woke up there was a pretty good bit of snow. but there was only the  lone hen footprints in the snow all morning. They were quite content when I put the grain in the feeder indoors and gave them the kitchen scraps. The sun was out a little while ago so they may be out to eat some scratch or peck pumpkin halves.

I have been trying to make more bread products so that I don’t have to buy any. It’s working out pretty well. I bake crackers and biscuits for day to day eating. I have been making cheese crackers about 4 or 5 times a week because they are just so good. I want to get the basic survival skills set as a daily habit so that when I get more remote, I will already have that skill set perfected.

I discovered hard tack and how important a food source that was in the olden days that we don’t make use of today. It’s filling, it will last forever if you keep it dry. I have made many variations including with crushed dehydrated meat. The dog loves them too as you can imagine. I really like all the bread products so far, except maybe the trail biscuits.

I am going to try Artisan bread in both the round ball and the loaf pans and experiment with different recipes until I find the recipe I like best for making sandwiches. I have learned how to make lunchmeat and cheeses at home and will cover that soon.

You can be ready for a homesteading lifestyle wherever you live by learning the basic cooking skills and incorporating them into your daily life..

 

How Does Your Garden Grow

My tomatoes are doing pretty well this year. 2015 tomato 1I’ve been eating the Sungold tomatoes daily (my favorites).

These green pear shaped tomato I’m really not sure what to do with. All these tomatoes were given to me by a friend and I lost the names of the varieties somehow.

I am going to pick this tomato and see if it is ripe and if it is not, I’ll fry it.

There are a lot of them to experiment with, so I can try and figure out if it is supposed to stay green.

 

2015 tomato 2These are Indigo Rose Tomatoes. I love the color. I thought it was ripe and ate one and wow was it unripe. It was awful. They turn so dark purple that they look black and I thought that meant it was ripe. Wrong!

It was super green inside even though the skin was deep purple. Now I am waiting to see if the bottoms of the tomatoes to turn color too. The bottoms of the tomatoes are still green.

The deer have been munching the tops off the tomatoes and ate all the greens off the beets.

 

2015 tomato 3This is one of the Sungold tomatoes. It is very productive and has bright orange fruit. Every morning I go outside and eat the ripe ones. They are so good they never make it into the house.

That’s OK though because I think eating live food is best for you. Plus they’re just really delicious that fresh.

After the deer munched the tops off the plants the tomatoes really took off so I guess that was a good thing after all.

 

 

2015 amaranthThis year I also tried Golden Amaranth grain. It is almost 5ft tall and has large flowers that will (hopefully) turn into giant seed heads. They’re really pretty too. The deer also like them.

I think it’s pretty successful so far. Here the plant is in full flower. We have not had any rain this season. It’s been very hot and very dry.

I try to water at least once a day but my energy levels are still very low. I am starting to feel better but it is still very slow going.

 

2015 corn patchMy corn is not doing well. The zucchini and squash are not producing either. I got exactly one small zucchini and that was all. Usually you see bunches of flowers and suddenly almost overnight, you have a lot of zucchini growing.

I don’t know if it is the extreme heat or the drought conditions, I water them at the same time as the rest of the vegetables but they’re just not growing.

It was so warm this year I thought the corn would do better. Even the beans that are growing up the corn stalks are not producing. They flowered and did not produce beans.

2015 sweet ptatoesNow these sweet potatoes seem to be doing vey well. I have never grown them before and I didn’t think it was possible for them to grow at all in the northern part of Montana, but, here they are. I don’t know if they are producing roots yet, but they are sure growing.

Some of the vines are over 4ft tall. I don’t know if I am supposed to, but I lay them on the ground and cover them with compost.

Don’t be afraid to try new things. You never know until you try and it could work out great. You just never know until you try.