Country Living at It's Best

We just finished watching the south neighbor's farm for them while they went to Alaska on a spur of the moment Anniverary trip for two weeks.  Not too bad - just feeding/watering cats twice a day, feeding the horse once a day, collecting the mail, watering flowers and picking the garden produce as it ripened.  I guess their son was keeping an eye on the cow herd - I wouldn't have had a clue what to do, although I am always up to learning something new! :)

We got 2 days off of extra chores and then our north neighbors were heading out for the holiday weekend.  We got pig duty!  The girls love going to see the pig, although he is getting bigger and smellier all the time. 

Here is a shot of the 'soon to be bacon' pig.

The other night after coming back from feeding the pig his dinner, it was such a beautiful moonrise over the backyard.  The pictures don't do it justice - oh, for a real camera!

moonrise over the sunflower house

the family at dusk

they had just polished off a can of mandarin oranges

The other day I was making an omelette and I used the last 3 eggs from our chickens and 3 from the store.  Can you tell which three are the farm eggs vs. storebought?  Our eggs were the same size as the store (large) or a little smaller.  But the farm eggs are the 3 larger, orangier (is that a word?!) yolks at the top half of the mixing bowl.

They were the last eggs because I processed all the chickens on Sunday afternoon.  The chickens were much easier to dispatch than the rooster.  Angelina was napping but Trinity came out and found me ready to catch the first of the chickens.  I wasn't sure how she would handle it b/c when I had mentioned I was going to kill the chickens the next day and she was very upset.  But she handled it like a champ.  She wanted to pet each one before I killed it and said a prayer over them, thanking God for the eggs and meat.  I was glad for her thoughtfulness because I did find it more difficult to dispatch the sweet chickens than the mean ol' rooster.  But by the third one, I had the routine down and it went quickly and easily enough for the rest of them.

We actually got a good laugh with these birds.  I have heard stories of chickens getting their heads cut off and running around the yard.  These didn't exactly "run," but they did amazing acrobatic, headless feats that had both Trinity and I laughing.  Then it was the long process of heating up my large pans of water, dunking, and defeathering.  I knew I was planning on carving them up removing all the skin, so the defeathering process didn't have to be so meticulous...thankfully!

Since none of these were especially large birds and are just for stew meat, I just saved the breast and the leg/thigh piece.  The wings, back, neck, and organs (and feet and heads) I kept for dog food.  So the dog gets more of the chicken than we do! lol...but good raw chicken meat and bones is so good for her, and she LOVES it.

When I processed the chickens with the neighbors, they weren't of laying age yet since they had been raised for meat.  So I had a surprise waiting for me inside a couple of the chickens...eggs in process.  It was quite fascinating and the girls thought they were really cool.  I only took out a few of the larger ones.

From largest to smallest

You know, the girls are fascinated by the internal workings of the chicken.  I got to explain how all the different parts function. (what I knew, but that was enough to satisfy their curiosity)  It made me think about the fact that I never saw the internal workings of a recently deceased creature until I was in seventh or eighth grade science class.  That was when we dissected a frog.  The girls are waaaaay ahead on that learning experience!  Another class taken at Unschool U. :)

After finishing with the chickens, I got to work on apples.  One of David's customers sent him home with 3 large bags of apples.  Now that we have a freezer, I decided to make a big batch of applesauce and freeze it.  I found a great blog from another homeschooling mom with an easy recipe.  It was as easy to make as promised and delicious.  We ended up with 6 quarts - 5 for the new freezer and 1 in the fridge.  Trinity ate almost the whole quart by herself the next day!  That night I was on craigslist and found a posting for free apples.  I got the address and Monday we headed out to Grimes for apple picking.  Now I have 3 baskets full of apples to make pies, juice, and more applesauce.  I may even freeze some in slices with a little lemon juice just for eating.

one of three baskets of apples

I was just reading an add on craigslist for organic apples.  They were selling them for $20/bushel.  Wow - what a deal for us to have all these for free!!!  Once again, God has proven himself to be Jehovah-jireh!

After getting home from apple picking yesterday, I blanched and froze 3 bags of squash and 2 bags of zucchini.  Then I made a double batch of salsa which filled two 16 oz. jars.  Yeah!  Not only was it absolutely delicious (made with our own tomatoes, peppers, and red onions from our garden and a hot pepper given to David from a customer)  but awesome to find such an easy way to replenish salsa since David is a big salsa eater.  I will definitely be making more and freezing with the rest of our tomatoes.  Tomato sauce is cheap to buy - salsa is not!

homemade salsa (what's left after taco dinner last night!)

Today I have made up my first batch of 5 minute bread.  I had read about this in Mother Earth News but had been intimidated by what had seemed to be intensive instructions. 

Here is my bowl of dough after rising and being in the fridge for awhile.

my loaf of bread

This part is going to be trial and error for me.  The recipe doesn't give instructions for using a baking pan, which is what I am going to use.  So I am letting it rest for 40 minutes, and then plop it in my baking pan.  Maybe I should have just put it in there to start with - I don't know.  I will try that next time I bake.  But it did only take 5 minutes to pull out the dough and get it ready for the oven.  Here's hoping it tastes as great as it is easy!

Grace and peace be with you!