Sunday, September 30, 2012

VOGMASK Filtering Face Mask Review

Help us welcome our newest sponsor VOGMASK !

Homemade Citrus Curd (Lime, Lemon, Orange or Grapefruit)

I am always on the look out for easy, delicious recipes using our fresh eggs.  I love lemon curd and recently found a recipe for lime curd. It sounded interesting and limes were on sale, so I decided to give it a try.  I had never tried making curd before, but was surprised that the technique is very similar to making Hollandaise sauce, but with more of the juice and sugar.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Week in Farm Photos - Sept 23rd -29th

The ten best photos from the previous week around our farm. Enjoy!

I would like to know which one is your favorite!

And please JOIN US ON FACEBOOK so you don't miss ANY of our photos that we post all week long !

These photos are shared here:  Your Sunday Best

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Nest Eggs

As the days grow shorter and the chill of autumn is in the air, the nesting instinct grows stronger. Nesting. It literally means creating a safe and comfy place for those you love. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Make your own Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar

Did you know that you can make your own apple cider vinegar pretty easily and very inexpensively,with just some apple peels and cores and water...and a bit of patience? I didn't know either until I started doing a bit of research.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Week in Farm Photos - Sept 16th - 22nd

Shhh.....listen to this week's photos, I hope each one 'speaks' to you!

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This photo collection is shared at A Rural Journal and Blog Paws Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop

Friday, September 21, 2012

We know it's fall by looking at the calendar, but here in southeastern Virginia it can go either way temperature-wise. Sometimes the heat of summer continues well into October, while other years it's like Mother Nature flipped a switch and we are dragging out our heavy sweaters and turning on the heat just after Labor Day.

But regardless of the temperatures, here are some sure signs that it's fall on our farm that never waver year to year.

1. Reduced Egg Laying by the Older Hens/First Eggs from the Pullets. As the days grow shorter, our laying hens slow down their laying considerably. A hen needs approximately 14-16 hours of daylight for the ovaries to be stimulated to release an egg. It takes a lot longer to accumulate that much daylight during the fall and winter months, so we collect fewer eggs each day. On the flip side, the pullets that hatched the prior spring are now starting to lay, so they take up some of the slack. By winter, egg laying will all but stop though, so this time of year I start freezing some of our extra eggs to use through the winter.

2. Time to Plant the Cold Crop Garden. Our tomatoes, squash and cucumbers are long gone. Fall is the time to plant cold crops for the chickens to munch on. We often don't get a hard frost until January, so there's plenty of time for kale, Swiss Chard, peas, beets, carrots and all kinds of lettuce to mature and be harvested. It's also time to start harvesting our pumpkins. Pumpkin seeds are thought to help combat intestinal worms in chickens, so they are a big part of our hens' fall diet.  [read more about that here]

3. Molting. Fall brings on a molt, triggered by the shorter days. That means we have a scraggly group of hens for a few weeks, as they lose their old feathers and new ones grow in. The run looks like there's been a pillow fight. Additional protein is helpful to them at this time of they year, so I bake them Molt Meatloaf, which has become a flock favorite.

4. County Fairs. One of the highlights of the fall is the Isle of Wight County Fair that we attend each year. This year, the Grand Champion of the entire fair was a beautiful white Cochin rooster. Seeing him was worth the price of admission! He really was gorgeous.

5. Time to Dry Herbs. I plant a large herb garden each spring. Not only do I cook with herbs, but I use them in our nesting boxes and coop for their fragrance as well as natural pest repellent properties and other health benefits to setting and laying hens. I brew herbal tea for the chickens year round and make Mint Ice Pops for them in the summer. It's wonderful using fresh herbs all summer, but before it gets too cold, I harvest the remaining herbs and dry them to use through the winter.

Of course the leaves start to turn colors and fall to the ground, and the chickens love rummaging through them looking for bugs.

We don't quite get the beautiful foliage that the New England states get, but some years we do ourselves proud here in the South!

Fall is my favorite time of year. Summers here in Virginia can be brutal, both on us and our animals, and we all breathe a sigh of relief as the mercury as well as the humidity drops and nights become cool and crisp, while days are cooler as well. Soon enough it will be cold and damp and we'll be dealing with ice, freezing rain and sleet, so we enjoy fall for as long as it lasts.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Canning 101: Easy Raspberry Jam my First Foray into Preserves

Learning how to can and make preserves had been on my to-do list for ages. I finally worked up the nerve this past month to gave it a whirl. Much to my surprise, it's a lot easier than I thought and SO satisfying to see the finished product and hear the jar tops pop.  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Meet Me at the Fair - The Isle of Wight County Fair

~we are lucky to live only ten minutes from the fairgrounds~

This past weekend was the annual Isle of Wight County Fair.  We always love to go and walk around the fairgrounds, eat fair food, look at the baked goods and crafts and watch the animal judging.    It was a gorgeous sunny fall day on Saturday, so we decided to pay a visit to the fairgrounds.

~New Holland blue tractors are my favorites~

Saturday, September 15, 2012