Tuesday, July 29, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Milk Cow Kitchen by MaryJane Butters

It's no secret that I want a cow. Not only do I think cows are absolutely adorable, but I want access to fresh milk (it's illegal here in good ole' Virginia to buy or sell raw milk) so I can make all kinds of homemade butter, cheeses and ice cream. So when Brian Ogle (son of Mary Jane Butters of Mary Jane's Farm fame) asked if I would be interested in reviewing a copy of his mother's new book Milk Cow Kitchens: Cowgirl Romance, Backyard Cow Keeping, Farmstyle Meals and Cheese Recipes, he didn't have to ask twice!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Classic Crème Brulee

One of the many wonderful benefits of fresh eggs is that they elevate any recipe from merely delicious to truly divine. That holds true especially with this classic Créme Brûleé recipe. Using only four ingredients, this is my go-to dessert for special occasions. Easy to make, it lets the freshness and taste of your fresh eggs shine. The combination of the sweet brittle sugar coating atop a silky smooth custard underneath is irresistible. Since today is Natural Créme Brûleé  Day, I thought it appropriate to share my recipe.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Week in Farm Photos July 20th - 26th

This week was all about harvesting our first cucumbers and squash from the garden, collecting lots of chickens and duck eggs, and anxiously awaiting the first eggs from the Bonbons and Littles (20 and 14 weeks, respectively). We've enjoyed a wonderful summer so far here in Virginia; cool-ish temperatures and lots of rain has resulted in the best gardening season in the 13 years we've been here. To top it off, the week ended with a phone call from my publisher and some really exciting news I will share with you all early next week .... so be sure and stay tuned for that! In the meantime, enjoy some of our bounty!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Tips to Help Your Ducks Stay Cool This Summer

In addition to being extremely cold-hardy, ducks are also fairly heat-tolerant. Of course in the summer, as always, it's important to provide them with clean, cool water to drink and plenty of shade. Give them a kiddie pool to splash around in, and they'll likely be just fine no matter how high the mercury rises, but here are a few more tips to help your ducks beat the heat.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Our New Melon Garden - Stage One: Tilling and Planting

I've been growing a few select vegetables in my herb garden for years now - things like peas, tomatoes, hot peppers and eggplant - sort of tucked into a corner of the garden as an afterthought, but never really had a separate garden dedicated to the 'roving' veggies, i.e. melons, cucumbers and squash. They take up so much room that I didn't dare plant them in my herb garden. I tried growing some in our compost pile, but it doesn't get much sun and the deer or rabbits ate all the blossoms, so that was a bust.

But when my husband got a new tractor this spring with both a rototiller and front bucket loader attachment, I made him promise that the first job we would tackle with it would be rototilling a corner of our horse pasture so I could plant some squash and melons. He agreed and I couldn't be happier with our new garden! Come take a look!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Week in Farm Photos July 13th - 19th

Whether you live on a 1/4 acre or 100 acres, whether you raise a whole barnyard of animals or just a small backyard flock, whether your 'garden' is a 6-acre field or a single pot on your kitchen windowsill, you should feel a sense of pride in everything you grow, and raise or nurture.  I love putting together this post each Saturday evening, because collecting photos all week to share makes me stop and appreciate my surroundings and the beauty that is everywhere ... if you just take the time to look.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fizzy Orange Vanilla Bath Bombs

After a long day in the garden or working around the farm, a hot bath is often in order. These homemade, all natural fizzy bath bombs are sure to help your aches and cares float away as you inhale the intoxicating scent of sweet orange and vanilla. And best of all - they're chemical-free and super easy to make!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Got Flies? I Don't Anymore Thanks to Spalding Labs Fly Predators

When Spalding Labs contacted me several weeks ago and asked me to try out their Fly Predator product, I have to admit I was intrigued. I had heard of Fly Predators, but never really done much research into them, instead battling the flies using lots of homemade soda bottle fly traps, herbal fly sprays and repellents including herbal wreaths and mason jars filled with mint and vanilla with varying degrees of success, but since each summer we battle flies in our horse stalls, duck house and around the chicken feed, I eagerly agreed to try the Fly Predators out.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fresh Brewed Herbal Sun Tea

Staying hydrated is so important in the summer, especially if you spend lots of time outdoors sweating, but plain water gets boring and store bought soft drinks and other beverages are full of sugar and other unhealthy ingredients and can be expensive.  Why not brew your own tea this summer using herbs and edible flowers? It couldn't be easier!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Week in Farm Photos July 6th - 12th

Photo: I like pretty things.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Charles Dickens sure hit the proverbial nail on the head with those famous lines. This week brought some wonderfully good news to us here on the farm (details soon, I promise!), our gardens are producing some beautiful tomatoes and basil ... and then our week culminated in some major damage from a storm that seemed to appear out of nowhere late Friday.  We spent the last two days cleaning up tree debris from high winds, hail and driving rain. But all of our animals, house, coop and barn are just fine...and Mother Nature rewarded us with a beautiful post-storm sunset...was she perhaps saying she was sorry?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Herbs for Hens™: Bee Balm

The latest video in my brand new series Herbs for Hensfocuses on the edible flower Bee Balm. I grow and use bee balm, also called monarda or bergamot, in my natural chicken keeping. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

GIVEAWAY: Urban Coop Company Round-Top Chicken Coop

Several weeks ago I was contacted by the Urban Coop Company and asked if I would like to 'test drive' their Round-Top Chicken Coop. Truthfully, I had been eyeing their adorable coops for awhile and was thrilled to say yes!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fly Repelling Fresh Herb Wreath for your Chicken Coop

Flies are such a nuisance, not to mention the carriers of germs and diseases. But on a farm, you often can't (or won't) use chemical fly sprays around your animals. Fortunately, there are a whole host of herbs that help to repel flies naturally. Make this easy herbal wreath to hang in your coop, horse stall or even on the back door of your house to keep flies away this summer. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Week in Farm Photos June 29th - July 5th


Happy Fourth of July everyone!  Hope you all have a safe and happy holiday. We are enjoying cool, clear weather this weekend after a bit of a hot spell and just enjoying a quiet weekend at home. Our chicks are growing, the little ones will be laying eggs soon, and we're expecting ducklings in a week or so. Enjoy this peek at our week.