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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What profit has man when he hangs out his clothes?

Wind + Sun = Dry Clothes
What profit has man from all the labor which he toils at under the sun? One generation passes and another comes, but the world forever stays. The sun rises and the sun goes down; then it presses on the place where it rises. Blowing, now towards the south, then towards the north, the wind turns again and again resuming its rounds. All rivers go to the sea, yet never does the sea become full. To the place where they go, the rivers keep on going. All speech is labored; there is nothing man can say. The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor is the ear filled with hearing. Ecclesiastes 1:3-8 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Home on the Free-range

Chilling out in the shade.

This post is about raising our own meat chickens. I tried to be very discrete with these pictures.  Do not worry there are no bloody pictures in this post. We care very much about healthy animals and food. But there are pictures of plucking. It is just part of the process. If you are a vegetarian I am not going to apologize. . .. you have the right to be vegetarian and we have the right to raise good quality meat.
Heritage Red Broilers looking for yummy bugs.
Our family has been raising chickens for eggs since 2008. Since we were trying to be self-sufficient we would keep those chickens just for eggs. Sometime we would butcher one for the table, if they had become injured, too old for laying or if they happened to be the unexpected rooster. 

Throughout history many households raised dual-purpose chicken with an occasional butchering for an event or Sunday dinner. This was how it was done in many households for many years.

It wasn't until 1923 when a women named Mrs. Wilmer Steele from Delaware raised a flock of 500 chicks for the purpose of meat. She was so successful in this business by 1926 she was raising 10,000 meat chickens. 

The idea of chicken actually being meat did not catch on fast because back then many people only considered beef meat. By the 1970's and 1980's the meat chicken industry sky-rocketed and is now the most common meat found on our tables. 

Many people wanting so much chicken at our tables sometimes comes with a price. I am not saying all large meat farms or plants are bad and I will not start preaching in this post. I am just asking you to do some of your own research and know the practices of the place you get your food. 
Whey being given to the meat chickens. 
So, last year we decided to try meat chickens. Dual purpose chickens even though we will eat them are tough and old. They are really only good for a soup. I did some research and decided upon 25 Cornish X. (I know there are debates about this . . . you can comment below if you like or you can wait for a different post.) We raised them for the said 6 weeks and processed them and into the freezer they went. They were great. Tender, juicy and free-ranged by us! But 25 was not enough for our family of 6 to get us through the year. 

They love whey. It gives them protein.

We decided to get 50 of the kind we knew we liked and tried the other kind as a type of homestead trial. Would the heritage broiler be better? And besides the Cornish only needed 6 - 8 weeks while the other types needed longer to grow. It would space out our processing sessions. 

Chickens awaiting their final destination.
It was so awesome when they first arrived. We had set up the brooder. And the cute little chicks running around were fun to watch. I was sure to order some pretty little egg-layers. "You can name those ones . . . Don't name any of these." I would over hear the kids saying to their friends "These are the egg-layers, those are meat ones. They are cute, but we're trying not to get attached."
Kolbe gently holding and
wrapping the chicken to be processed.

By week 4, I just plain starting hating all the meat chickens. Why? Because they are messy, always hungry and always thirsty. These crazy creatures consume more than 20 gallons of water a day and about 50 pounds of feed each week plus kitchen scrapes and other treats. Beside the fact that they have their own field, they sneak into the boy goats' field and steal goat food and water. They also somehow found there way to the back deck and roosted. Chickens on the back deck means chicken poop. Poop on deck = bad words from dear hubby. 
Hot water bath to loosen feathers.

But then comes that glorious and dreaded time for processing. We gather between 10-15 chickens the night before. They are easier to catch when they are sleeping and it keeps things out of their stomach so they are easier to process. 

Rob does the hard part . . . .

We use a hold technique. Other veteran homesteaders you may be thinking "why don't you just use a metal cone." We just think it keeps us a little more like a home and less like a factory. It is just what we do. 
 . . . . I do the easy part . . .

After the head is removed and the chicken bled out, it is dunked in 150 - 160 degree water. We do this so the feathers are easier to removed. It is plucked and then either gutted or cut into parts. It is washed, wrapped and then put into one of our freezers. By the time we finish this we are tired and worn-out. Some of you may be asking "Why not just buy it at the store?" And sometimes we ask ourselves that same question. 

Will we do this again? Yes. They are cheaper, they are healthier, the short lives they had with us were at least happy. They were able to run, scratch around, eat many bugs and lay around in the tall grass. For them their life was good and we are happier because we know where our food came from. Besides all that  . . . . BBQ . . . need I say more?
Our fresh free range chicken on the BBQ. Yum.

Some sites about meat chicken history

All these photos belong to Sanctae Familiae Villa. Please do not steal them. If you feel you need to use them please just give us credit and post this blog where ever you used it. Thanks

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Un-molding and Cutting Soap on Tuesdays

Beautiful Honey Oat soap in a silicon loaf mold.
I have already removed the plastic wrap I had covering it.
 In an earlier post I showed you how soap is actually made. After the process and pouring into the molds you have to let it sit for at least 24 hours (sometimes longer due to humidity).

After the soap has set you must remove it from the mold and cut it into the bars we all know and love. The bars must then be set on shelves to cure for 4 - 6 weeks. Here are some pics of the process.
I love the silicon molds it makes it easier to remove.

I have to be very careful because I usually cut crooked.
I am saving up for a mitre.

Here I am unwrapping the Pringle can mold.
The calories were worth it . . . the soap is so pretty.
I just love how this looks. Don't you?
A crinkle cutter for some added texture.
It adds just the right touch to this soap.
Here I am putting them on a wire rack to cure. 
Here they stay for 1 week.
 I flip them each week and move
them down a row on my rack each week.
Remember they must cure for 4-6 weeks.

Let me know 
what you think.

Do you think soap making 
is something you might try?

These soaps have been curing for about 3 1/2 weeks.
They are almost ready for sale or use.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Brusha, brusha, brusha Making Homemade Toothpaste

I have been making our own toothpaste on our homestead since before we even lived here. Making your own toothpaste is one of the easiest, cheap and healthiest things you can do for yourself and family. 

I did a lot of research and many trial and error batches to find the best toothpaste recipe for our family. I wanted to add the right ingredients. Coconut oil and peppermint oil for antibacterial properties, bentonite clay and sea salt for adding calcium and minerals to our teeth. Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda for whitening. My family wanted just the right texture and flavor. Stevia, glycerin and castille soap gave the toothpaste the bubbles and sweetness they were used to in regular toothpaste. 

The 9 Ingredients for making
Sanctae Familiae Villa Toothpaste
I am still on the look out for the right tube to fill, it tends to clog regular size holes, but for now we use our little mason jars. Here is our recipe and the basic steps, but I encourage you to find your own ingredients and do your own trial and error batches to find what works best for you and your family.

Add all dry ingredients first.

Sanctae Familiae Villa Toothpaste

4 teaspoons calcium bentonite clay
4 Tablespoons Stevia powder
4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (mine is gray)
1 teaspoon liquid castille soap
2 teaspoons vegetable glycerin
2 teaspoons coconut oil (melted)
1 teaspoon hydrogen peroxide
22 drops of peppermint essential oil

Measure coconut oil and melt. If it is warm enough and the
coconut oil is already soft then just add it.
Then add all wet ingredients.
Stir with a spatula until smooth and scrape into jar. 
Looks great.
Now I just need to brush.
Showing off her pearly whites.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Meet Bilbo Part 2

Continuation from previous post Meet Bilbo Part 1.

Bilbo takes a minute for a hug and a pose.
I regained my composure and then realized my kids (human not goat) were just as bewildered as me.  We processed in like a mother duck with her ducklings and somehow managed to find some seats. They were amongst the rows of folding chairs toward the back of the auction. A man with a homemade, electronic, smoking pipe smiled. I smiled back trying not to stare at the strange contraption he held in his lips. Our seats beheld a wonderful view of the kid goats.

Just than a big man, with a loud voice began to yell. He sat up high, on a high desk, just like a judge. He made jokes, tossing items about while adding the occasional, mild cuss word. I thought he was crazy, I thought he was rude and hilarious. I liked him. He had a bunch of guys running items around to people as he shouted numbers and people raised their hands. Some how I ended up with items surrounding me; some tie raps, Little Debbie cakes, some nasty not real juice jugs, paint trays and rollers and some animal cages. Wait a minute, didn't I come here for a goat!?!

Baby Bilbo looking for some love.
"The animals come after intermission" the electronic, pipe-wielding gentlemen remarked to me. He must of sensed my anticipation. "You can go to their pen and have a closer look at them".  I walked over to the pen that had a small group of men around it. One old timer spoke to the goats "turn around little goats so we can see if your a buckling or a doe." As he said this I found myself too curious to wait. All of a sudden I found myself reaching behind the baby goat and up between it's legs, and then again on the second one. "Their both boys," I yelled with excitement. Proud of my farm like action I turned to see the small group of men. Some seemed shocked, others chuckled and others smitten. I must have one of these long-eared cuties. The goats not the men.

Charlotte giving lovin' to baby Bilbo.
The electronic pipe guy then followed me back to my seats. He than proceeded to give me advice on the best way to win my little goat prize. My excitement grew as the time got closer. Chickens and small animals got tossed about and sold. The occasional rake and hoe. Finally, the goats, "going once, going twice sold to the young lady in the bandana". "You want both?" "No thanks, just one . . ." I yelled.  . . . the tan and white one". A runner came up took my money and plunked a little baby goat into my arms. "It's okay, little buddy your coming home with us now."

The man with the electronic pipe was excited for me. He told me how he had lots of goats he won at different auctions. "Okay, I gotta go, thanks for all the advice." I spoke and walked quickly to the Suburban, praying he wouldn't follow us. "Do we have all our stuff? I asked the children "Do we have room for the goat?" "He will sit with us" squealed my daughters.

Gigi laughs as baby Bilbo does a little pose for the camera.
We began to drive home. "What should we name him?" "Bilbo of course" my kids replied in unison. "Just like the Hobbit".  It was just then that I realized I wasn't prepared for a baby goat. Didn't he need a bottle and goat formula. Where was I going to get bottles and goat milk at 9:30p.m.? Walmart was open, but Tractor Supply closed at 8:00pm. Oh, Mickie, like usual, you have gotten yourself into a pickle.

Good thing, God has blessed me with great friends that are just as crazy as me. I dialed.

"Hello, sorry I'm calling so late, do you happen to have some formula or milk from your goats?" "You see I have this baby goat I just picked up at an auction." "Thanks your the best!" (and they are). We went to their house and got some frozen goat milk. "This should be good for tonight until you get to Tractor Supply in the morning."  I then proceeded to Walmart for some baby bottles.

It was late and surely I could not put this baby goat in the barn with the other goats. Who knew how the other goats would react to him. Besides he needed a bottle and he might need me in during the night. We set up a cage with hay in the kitchen.   It was just for the night. He slurped his bottle down and was just getting settled when Rob called from California. "Yeah, he's cute, he's great, he's a Nubian" I said excitedly. "Wait, Rob interjected, isn't a Nubian a standard size goat? I thought you wanted to a goat for mating?" "I did, but he was cute, and I always wanted a Nubian, remember I always wanted a Nubian." I replied. "Yeah, yeah I remember . . .So now what?" Rob asked. "I guess we will just have to get a standard sized baby doe".!!!!!!!

Bilbo gives me a kiss! 
And so that is how Bilbo came to be here on Sanctae Familiae Villa. He now is a year and a half old and spends his days munching on grass and brush. He loves sunbathing and head-butting his barn-mate Butch. When I yell his name he yells back MAAAAA just like that little kid in the pen. Even though he is now the proud Daddy to some of his own kids, he'll always be my little buckling.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Season's first yield

The earth has yielded its harvest; God, our God blesses us. Psalm 67:7 

Tomatoes are starting to be harvested. Here is our first one this season.

Photo by Kolbe.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Art of Making Kale Chips with Gigi

Kale in the garden getting ready to be picked

Kale chips just from the oven.
Kale is said to be one of the world's healthiest foods. It is high in vitamins K, A and C, and that is just to name a few. It is said to have over 45 different kinds of flavonoids. It is probably better to steam kale but kale chips are our homestead's best option. I mean come on, kids love chips and moms love kids and husbands eating greens. Its a win/win situation.

Besides kale being so nutritious it is very easy to grow from seed. All that being said kale is the best. Gigi in pictures will show you how to turn this green goodness into a healthy yummy snack.
Picking kale from our garden.

Giving the kale leaves cool wash
to remove any dirt or bugs.
The drained kale is being prepared.

Gigi rips the leaves off of the stem.
The stems will not get crispy before the
leaves will burn so it is better to remove them.

Add olive oil or canola oil lightly over the top. 
Put in oven.

Remove when crispy.
Cook time varies, it is best to keep checking on your chips.
Remove from hot cookie sheet. Salt as desired. 

Kale chips . . . .yummy.
Gigi loves them!

So do I!
The results were delicious . . . .Great job Gigi!

Note: All the photos on this and other posts have been taken by my son Kolbe and they belong to him.