Eggs in December

What a busy two weeks it’s been but great weeks.  We did our annual Christmas tree hunt and found what I think is an exceptional tree (although a little larger than we should have).  Hubby found this tree u-cut just after we moved here and we love going there every year.  We managed to make it to Hubby’s work party this year and I got to meet all the interesting characters I’d heard so much about the past few years.  That was a fun night and kiddies got to have a sleepover thanks to some wonderful friends or ours.  And I was able to get to our pot luck/gift exchange at my Woman’s Institute meeting.  Our gift excahnges are a little different in that we don’t keep the gifts that are exchanged but are donated to a charity.  This year gifts went to a local woman’s shelter. Unfortunately our Christmas prep also included a trip to the doctor to clear up a throat infection for Little Man.  He was a trooper and is taking his meds with no complaints at all.  Thankfully only a few days left of meds and the throat is clearing up nicely.

Our Christmas eve tradition started with going to mass and the children were able to participate in the Nativity pageant at our church.  Little Miss was an angel and Little Man was a shepherd.  Of course I’m biased and think they did the best jobs but all the children were wonderful and made the evening so enjoyable.  Once we got home munchkins got into new jammies, put out Santa cookies and milk, drank some hot chocolate from Nana’s special mugs, and we listened to my friend E read The Night Before Christams.  She decided to record herself reading Christmas stories and share them on Facebook during the month of December, which I think was an amazing gift.

Quite unlike me, I had everything done the night before and only had one thing to wrap on Christmas eve, so hubby and I had a relaxing evening on the sofa.  I should have gone to bed as soon as the munchkins did because they were up at 4 the next morning.  Oh my.  It’s a good thing they can open their stockings before we get up or we would have been out of bed then too.  That’s fine though.  I love to see how excited they are on Christmas morning to see that Santa has been there and left some surprises for them.

We asked Santa to be minimal at our house this year and that was a pretty easy task since the kiddies didn’t ask for very much at all.  The wish list was on the fridge for a while with only two things on it and I think things only got added because I kept asking if there was anything else they wanted.  There were no disappointments this year though.  A pocket knife or multitool were the request of Little Man and he was surprised with both.  Little Miss got a camera and has barely put it down since she opened it.  I think the whole house has been photographed or videoed in the past few days and any gift boxes are now reduced to slices and chunks of their former selves.  Little Man cracked me up when they were using the pocket knife and multitool and he looked at Little Miss and said “just pretend you’re butchering a deer.”  He’ll be out hunting with daddy before you know it. Some puzzles, clothes, fireworks, and odds and ends rounded out the gifts for the kids.

Hubby and I are very practical when it comes to gift giving for each other.  Since I couldn’t legally buy him the shotgun he wanted (no possession/acquisition license yet) I opted for getting his chainsaw fixed.  He has been talking about it for quite a while but just never bothered to bring it to the shop. He took advantage of a nice Boxing Day to go out and thin some trees on the property.  I also got him a small sharpening steep to keep in his hunting pack.   I was thoroughly surprised when a number of gifts were handed to me though.   First came new hats, then a canning cookbook, then my new hay fork.  I thought that was it until Hubby reminded me that there was something else in the barn for me.  It was a boot cleaner to beat all boot cleaners, lovingly made by Hubby himself.  Needless to say all of those things got used already except for the canning book, but that’s been read cover to cover a few times while trying to decide what to make first.

I did get one early Christmas gift that I forgot to mention.  I used the Christmas money from my parents to buy chickens.  When we found the Australorps I thought that would be the only breed of chicken we would have for a while.  Good meat and egg birds and supposedly good layers.  But you all know how I love online buy and sell sites and I found young Americauna chickens for an awesome price and couldn’t resist.  And do I want green colored eggs….YES!!!! Plus they came with a heated poultry waterer, half a bag of feed, a bag of scratch, and a bag of grit. We ended up with two Red Island Red/Barred Rock hens in the deal and I’m happy enough to eat their eggs but we will eventually rehome (or eat) them since my goal is to have pure breeds.  Right now we let them all mix it up and I’m hoping we will get some amazing egg colors.

Even though Santa has come and gone, I am still getting presents!  Eggs, eggs, and more eggs.  A few days ago Hubby closed up the bird house when all were in and settled and when he came back in pulled an egg out of his hoodie and said “look what I have…and look what else I have…and look what else I have…and look what else I have.”  Four eggs?  In December??? Yup,  and a green one to boot.   The Americauna breed can lay all shades of blue and green from just a hint of color to very vibrant.  And since some of our ducks have started laying again we get jumbo white eggs from them. small brown from the RIR/BR, small to medium brown from the Australorps, and medium green from the Americaunas.  I’ll have an amazing basket of multicolored eggs for Easter this year thanks to Mother Nature!  When we get our pigs I’ll be able to have our own green eggs and ham.

That’s it for an update today.   Our New Years Eve will be a fairly quiet night at home.  Kids want to try to stay up till midnight but we are going to do fireworks early just in case they don’t make it.  And as usual, there’s an open invitation to friends who want to pop over.

I hope you all had a great time with family and friends over the holidays, which ever holiday you celebrate.  Unless something interesting happens in the next week I probably won’t blog again until the kids are back in school and I’ve packed away our Christmas decorations.

Have a beautiful day and if you are heading out to celebrate the new year drink responsibly and DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!


I’m in love with food.

I just had to put it out there.  I am in mad insatiable love with food.  Where it comes from, who produced it, what I can make with it.  Everything about food is so interesting to me.  I find myself seeking out food blogs and food videos online.  I adore most cooking shows.  I have too many cook books and want more.  Fresh whole food markets are like wonderland to me and I could talk to the farmers and producers for ages.

I listed off some of the things I wanted to make after we slaughter our pigs next year and I was nearly drooling on the keyboard.  Napkin please!  We don’t even have a pig pen let alone the pigs and I already have plans for that amazing meat.  At least with the ducks and chickens I’m already half way to having turducken next year for Christmas.  Or maybe it will be turduckenison.  Hubby and the kids are in love with the venison we have in the freezer this year so that might be incorporated in there as well.

Thank God I have three other foodies in my house.  How boring would life be if I had no one to share amazing food with every day?!

And speaking of those other foodies, I’m off to school to pick up the munchkins and then it’s off to the store to get some baking ingredients.  I think tonight (after we pick up more new chickens) will be baking night and prep for our open house on Sunday.

Have a beautiful day everyone, and eat something amazing.  Life is too short for bad food.

Hi, my name is Andrea and I’m addicted to canning.

I was out shopping with the hubby a while ago and came across a canning set for half price.  Oh that little pink sticker caught my eye and dragged me in.  There it was in all it’s discounted glory; black enameled pot, rack, funnel, lid lifter, spacer, fancy Mason jars, and a DVD.  That’s it.  I was hooked.  Put that baby in the cart and lets see what else I can get on sale.  Yeah, I’m also addicted to discounts but that’s a story for another time.

Preserving wasn’t ever something I gave much thought to.  Of course growing up my mom made her own pickles and jams.  She bottled ptarmigan and caribou that my dad hunted.  So canning wasn’t something I was a stranger to, I just didn’t really think about doing it for myself…until now.  Now I’d can anything.  I do find it funny that it’s called “canning” but you use  bottles.  Oh well.  I still love it.

The first thing I did this season was plum jam.  We got amazing plums from our local farmers market and of course I bought too much so before they could go bad Little Miss helped cut them up and I made a nice little batch of jam and into the new pot they went.  I was so excited when I took them out and heard that lovely POP of the lids.  SUCCESS.  I let them cool overnight and put them in the pantry the next day with a smile but my high was already wearing off.  What else could I do?!

Beets happened to go on sale right around the same time so I asked “the Google machine” about pickling beets.  Man I love pickled beets and Momma happened to give me several cases of pint jars so I figured I better start using them (for more than storing dry goods in the pantry).  A few hours later I had a bunch of jars of beets sitting on the kitchen island.  It’s funny how happy that little POP makes me. And it makes me even happier to sit down to dinner with a jar of my own pickles on the table along with our own chicken for the family to eat.

I was so proud doing it all by myself too.  I’m no stranger to the kitchen, but aside from watching my mom spend hours canning stuff when I was a kid, this was a totally new thing for me to do.  Along with pride I was somewhat surprised at how easy it actually was.  Sure it’s time consuming but super easy.

That brings me back to the farmers market and the amazing produce.  This time it was cranberries.  Two huge bags and I had no plan!  I know what to do when God gives me lemons…but cranberries…I guess I make cranberry sauce and I had two awesome helpers for that.  Little Miss had a friend over for the day and they both love being in the kitchen.  Out came the measuring cups, bowls, spoons, and a ton of cranberries.  Before we knew it there was a huge pot of cranberry sauce ready for the jars and by the time Miss C was ready to go home there was a jar with her name on it ready to take home.   that only took care of 1/4 of the cranberries we had so I found a jelly recipe to use up another 1/4 and to see which we liked more.  Again, it was super easy and now we’ve got enough cranberry sauce/jelly for the year.  Well, maybe not an entire year.  I seem to be putting it on everything.  I feel like the lady in the Franks Red Hot commercial. ” I put that *#$& on everything.”  I even notice the kids eating it and liking it a whole lot more than store bought cranberry sauce.

Pressure canning is  my next conquest.  I have an electric pressure cooker and there were instructions for pressure canning, but the first time I tried it I didn’t have much success.  I’ll have to revisit that soon.  Maybe if we get any more deer I’ll try canning it.  Caribou is good so I figure deer will be too.  And who knows, maybe I’ll invest in a proper pressure canner one of these days.

I’m just happy there are lots of resources out there for canning and preserving.  Since we started raising our own animals I find myself wanting more ways to store meat than just putting it in the freezer.  If our power is gone for more than a few days it’s all gone and all of our hard work with it.  I’ve been able to download several books from Mason and Ball and there are tons of Facebook pages and web sites dedicated to canning.  One of these days I’ll put together all of my favorite food sites in a post.

Have a beautiful day everyone and if you get the chance, try canning for yourself.

All I want for Christmas is…a pocket knife?

My little man asked for a pocket knife for Christmas!  I shouldn’t be surprised.  He’s a country kid.  Daddy has one.  And he’s a 6 year old boy.  What 6 year old boy living on a farm doesn’t want a pocket knife?  The overprotective mom in me says “NO WAY” but the practical cool mom says “sure, lets teach him how to use it properly and responsibly” and those two moms are fighting it out inside my head.

Hubby is all for it and, truth be told, would probably be happy enough to get matching ‘Rambo’ knives, sharpened to a razors edge that they could strap to their hips and then head out into the woods to do things that men do in the woods with big sharp knives.  They would come home with an assortment of pointy sticks and be so proud of their “arrows” that they whittled with their jumbo knives while sitting on a fallen tree covered in moss and tell me all about the near misses with the new knife and how daddy showed him the right way to cut stuff.

But there’s no hunting knife coming in this house for my little man just yet.  Momma isn’t ready for that!  I think I can handle a little Swiss Army knife at this point in his life, afterall, if this is how we’ve been spending our Sunday afternoons a knife won’t be so bad….will it?

Archers Ready
Archers Ready

Have a great day everyone and don’t forget to do something nice for a stranger.