Monday, April 22, 2013

Backyard Chicken Coop

Lost Lake Farm has more than just a hand full of backyard chickens.  We gather eggs from the hens for our own farm table, as well as other family and friends. All of our chickens are one big happy barnyard family and good neighbors with the guineas and turkeys.  They roam during the day and share a coop at night built on the end of the barn. That being said, we have decided to hatch a few of the special breeds, like our Welsummers.
In order to do that we need to move the girls and this rooster into their own little place.  Recently we were blessed with a good amount of free pallets.  I really wanted to use them in order to build the 'coop' part of the chicken pen.  Pulling pallets apart to use the boards is time consuming.  Keep in mind it would be a quicker project to purchase the materials, but also much more expensive.
Without a pattern or directions, here is our almost completed Chicken Condo designed by the Farmer.
I love it! Not that I will have to live in it or anything. I think the pallets give the chicken coop a rustic country feel.
The boards are mixed and not even the same width which delivers just the right amount of character for my tastes.  I wish I had taken a better photo of the hen nesting box.  When it is complete I will snap one and post on our Facebook page.
Did you notice even the door is a pallet?
The Farmer was able to also recycle some door hinges found in the barn.
The frame of the pen is using newly purchased lumber.  Using the pallets really cut the cost of this baby!
We finished up the side this weekend and have placed the Welsummers in their new home.  Hopefully we will get their condo moved out in the calves pasture this week.  For now they seem to enjoy it!
Next up a coop for these little chicks.
Do you have backyard chickens?

Barn Hop

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

We named the Farm!

You could say we've been farming our whole lives.  Me and the Farmer both grew up in families that kept summer gardens and farm animals.  Although there were plenty of years that I didn't grow a thing except children in the 'city'!
Now that I am back to my roots and seeking a more simple life; farming, homesteading...whatever you would like to call it, is just what we are doing.
There has been tons of changes 'down on the farm' and we are learning something new each day.  Even as a country girl!
We have big dreams and have been working on a plan to move towards those dreams.  Obtaining livestock guardians and rabbits.
First things first - we wanted to name the farm.  After tossing names left and right, one finally stuck.
Lost Lake Farm
I have also set up a Facebook page full of farm photos.  If you would like to keep up with the day to day antics of farm critters, along with a few fun family farming photos and information on farming, homesteading...give us a holler over there!  Just click this link:  Lost Lake Farm on Facebook  and come enjoy some down home country fun.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Late Fall Garden

The calendar says it is still Fall, but this morning's temperature felt more like Mr. Winter is already here! 
For the first time, the Farmer decided to plant a late fall garden.  We had seeds for two types of greens (mustard and turnip) and set out small cabbage and broccoli plants.  It has really grown and we hope to harvest from our small patch.

I am not a turnip green eater.  My mom would cook them when I was growing up, but I just never developed a taste for them.  I do love steamed broccoli, along with steamed cabbage or cole slaw.

This spring we thought we would not have enough time to garden so we skipped planting one.  That won't happen next spring!   Usually we have a small plot of cantaloupe, tomatoes, green peppers, corn, peas and/or green beans, watermelon, squash, cucumbers and okra.  One year we even planted a few sweet potatoes.

Last year we had such a mild winter we were surprised to see our plowed under garden, reproducing with no help from us.  We ended up with a few cantaloupe and cucumbers.
The strangest thing were our 'wild' watermelons.  Every summer we enjoy watermelons pool side.  After our feast we typically spray off the concrete pool deck with a water hose, washing away any extra seeds and juice that fell from the table.  This past spring, just past the walkway from the back porch to the pool, grew our wild watermelons.
This is a bark covered flower bed where our butterfly bushes grow back each year.
On the other side of those huge butterfly bushes was our wild watermelon patch growing along the sidewalk and creeping everywhere.  We were able to pick and enjoy several melons this summer, right next to the pool.
Yummy!  I would love one of those right now.
How does your garden grow?
Do you plant a late fall garden?  If so, what do you plant?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Weekly Menu Planning

If you came over from my blog, Design to Shine, you know how I love my weekly menu planning.  With a milk cow on the farm, I am finding menu planning a necessity.  Because Rosie has to be milked both in the morning and evening, it has taken us a bit to adjust to the new routine.  Both the Farmer and I work full time jobs, plus we have a 5 year old boy.  Usually, I pick up the little cowboy after work and that puts me at home about 5:45pm.  Milking is done between 6 - 6:30pm, morning and evening.  If I hang out in the barn to play with AnnaBelle, supper is around 7:30pm.  Not a good time to begin cooking when bedtime for the youngen is 8:30pm.  I am trying to have meals that can carry over for a night, are easy or using my crock pot 'chef' that cooks my meals while I am working at the U.
Here is this week's supper plan with links to recipes:
Monday - Leftover Potato Soup  with grill cheese sandwiches  (soup made on Sunday)
Tuesday - Meatballs with white gravy over creamed potatoes, green beans
Wednesday - Broccoli Alfredo Pasta  (this recipe calls for chicken, which I omit sometimes) with fresh yeast rolls
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday -  Clean out the frig or Pizza
Saturday - French Toast and fresh bacon (purchased from a local butcher shop)
Sunday - My Easy Chicken Pot Pie
For more ideas check out Organized Junkie for 100's of meal plans.
What are you having for supper this week? I love reading everyone's menus!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday Farm Scenes

Beautiful day on the farm.  
Rosie grazing on the green pasture.
Turkeys and chickens out in the barn yard.
Guineas and a turkey hen also barn yard bug hunting.
 Two-face, the barn kitty.
AnnaBelle wants out to play.

Hope you are enjoying a beautiful Sunday.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Cows and Raw Milk

This morning while most people are out shopping and trying to get that deal, I will be milking our cow.

The Farmer grew up with a family milk cow.  For months now we have thought about and discussed purchasing our own jersey cow.  A milk cow changes your life!  There is no 'waiting' to milk.  It's once in the morning and once in the evening.  Best if twelve hours apart.  No days off.  It isn't for everyone.  The Farmer knew this, I hadn't lived the experience.

We researched and decided IF we obtained a milk cow, we wanted a mini jersey.  Why a mini?  First reason is less feed.  A cow eats between 2 and 4% of their body weight.  Smaller cow, smaller pasture needed.  Less hay required.  The other main reason for a mini is milk production.  A full size Jersey cow usually produces between 4-6 gallons of milk per DAY.  A mini usually gives about half of that per day. Seriously a family of four can't really drink two gallons of milk a day! Can they?  

Well two weeks ago the Farmer saw an ad for a jersey and her calf.  After phone calls and a road trip, we became owners of Rose Bud, aka Rosie, and her heifer calf pictured above.  My daughter named the calf, AnnaBelle.   Rosie is a registered mid-mini jersey and is 6 years old.  Little 'Belle' is her third calf.  The lady we purchased them from stated that Belle was two weeks old at the time.  We feel she might have been a little bit over that.
Jersey cows are known to be a tad temperamental.  So after the almost two hour road trip and new surroundings, we milked Rosie for the first time by hand.  Now the Farmer has done this.  It was my very first time.  Although, I'm quite proud to say, I caught on real quick!   When cows are nervous or not really settled, this will cause the amount of milk produced to decrease.  Not to mention when the humans are a bit nervous!   All went well and we've got milk.
Most milk cows prefer one side to milk from, lucky for us, Rosie doesn't care which side or both at the same time.  The first few days we hand milked.  Which is an adventure for this "city" girl.  Then the Farmer surprised me with a new farm 'toy' (which is what I call all the equipment around here).  A milker.
We are currently milking 3 teats and leaving one for the calf.  Easier than bottle feeding the calf for us.  The milker doesn't really cut down on the time because you have to clean all the equipment after each use.  But it sure saves hands and old knees!  
Little Belle wasn't handled much prior to her arrival on the Farm.  However, she is becoming friendlier every day and growing like a weed.  Rosie seems to have settled in to her new home, enjoying the pasture during the day.  She is producing an average of one gallon per milking.  Two gallons a day!  We are enjoying fresh milk and I want to try my hand at making butter.   Yes, we are drinking 'raw milk', straight from the cow to the frig.  If you would like to know more about the benefits of raw milk, here is a website with tons of information: Raw Milk Truth.

I can honestly say it makes the richest best Chocolate milk I have ever tasted!  Yum Yum GOOD.
Have you ever tried raw milk or would you?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Family Tradition, Chicken-n-Dressing

Why would Chicken-n-Dressing be a family tradition?  Not because it is always served at our Thanksgiving.  It is because we have a special night set aside as a family one or two nights before to make the dressing.
We have homemade biscuits for supper (because we are already making them to include in the dressing) and everyone has a 'job'.  I usually de-bone the 'big fat hen'.
Although the night of 'making the Thanksgiving Chicken-n-Dressing' is a tradition, some things have changed over the years.  We found the easiest way to cook our hen is in the crockpot.
We make a huge batch.  Really really big.
The mixing bowl is huge...20 quarts.
There is laughter, story telling and taste testing for the perfect mix of flavors.  Finally we end up with very large pan of chicken and dressing mix.
Usually we make two batches.  One for our family and one to share with others.

Do you have a traditional dish that has become a family tradition?