Be true to who you are…..

And the family name you bear……

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The Most Important Winter Prep

You don't have to know me very long before you realize that winter and I are not the best of friends.  I am solar-powered and grey, nasty days with no green in sight just about put me under.  But as they say, necessity is the mother of invention and so here is Shell's winter survival tip #387...

This time of year all the stores are teeming with Spring flowering bulbs.  My favorite is the Hyacinth but you can choose from any of them.  I am so excited because this year I found coral hyacinths at amazon!   queue the music and be still my heart.  *big beautiful sigh*

I love hyacinths because they smell amazing and are stubby enough that they don't tip your pots over with their height, I try to plant enough for each room in the house.  Especially bedrooms.

After you have your bulbs it's an easy process. Get yourself a bucket of compost and a few used pots and stick those critters in.

 as you can see I am breaking a sweat over this...

and once you have them planted just bury them in a flower bed or corner of your garden that will not be tilled.... this step is probably the most important step of the whole process.  Because if you have menfolk and a tiller hitched to your tractor these lil ones are in grave danger... it's like they can smell them and once in that tractor seat they head directly for the spot you sunk the pots and they just start tilling uncontrollably... The same thing happens in cornfields around here.  The first summer Andrew had a job he tilled the cornfield one night and the next morning I went out and planted the entire thing while he was at work and then I had to go work in a different spot on the farm.  I get back to see Drew out in the same dang field... tilling!  Little corn bodies were flying everywhere. 

I said (okay, it was closer to a yell)  "What you doin'??" 

he says "The dirt still looked compacted so I was tilling it again."

I say "Well, yeah, it looks compacted I just drove over it five hundred times while PLANTING IT!"

and the dude says "oh..."

People, corn will not come up after being tilled twelve inches under.. no matter how long you stand in that field and beg it to... So I ordered more seed and we had to start over.... and then miracle of miracles when we tilled for the second planting some of the first planting made it up but not in the rows, they came in all zig zaggy like a crazy person had tossed their bodies all over the place... on acounta he messed with my OCD all summer... Just do yourself a favor... once you've planted unhitch the tiller. 

At any rate, here are my kids tucked safely where there is no tiller.  I am blessed to live in Missouri and in about two weeks Miss Missouri is going to dump about three feet of leaves on these little guys but if you live where leaves don't threaten to drown you every Autumn it would be best to plant them slightly deeper or cover them with a little woodchip mulch.

Then write yourself a note on your December or January calendar.  Mine reads "go get 'em"   Bring them in and in a few weeks, you will have enough Spring in your house to carry you through to better days. 

In the Spring you can plant the bulbs in your yard or plant the whole pots again for the next year. However,  if you leave them in pots be sure to divide them every few years so that you don't crowd your bulbs.

And that's it, Ladies, adding beauty to our homes by looking toward the future.  Wishing you a blessed Autumn! <3

Friday, January 25, 2019

Animals in Heaven..

The debate over animals and heaven is a minor issue.  Meaning if someone believes that animals are or are not in heaven it will have no bearing on that persons salvation.  I am a firm believer that we should never major on the minors.  However, to make sure that my children know where their mother stands I am writing this post, to clear some water that has been muddied over the past few years...

I believe animals go to heaven.  To be honest that belief had never been questioned until we moved to Missouri.  We believed it, our church believed it and the culture around us believed animals went to heaven.  But they don't call this place the show me state for nothing... it's a debate.

and that debate always seems to run around ..souls.. The bible does not say that God breathed into the nostrils of creatures "the breath of life" so therefore animals cannot have souls and cannot go to heaven.  I beg to differ.  First off I don't know if they do or do not have souls... I don't care.  I do know the bible clearly states there are animals in heaven.  I know that their Creator is clearly concerned about their welfare and care. He spends a great deal of time instructing us on our conduct towards them.  But that's not all that will be in heaven... I'll go even one step further and say there are trees or at least one tree that lived on earth and is now in heaven and I'm pretty sure it wasn't contingent on a soul either.  Now before you join my critics in accusing me of being from a mystic creation worshipping cult... stick with me.

I'm going to start by saying that God deals with all of His creation differently.  We have no right to try to fit Him into our simple, finite minds.  

Take for example ~Angels.  We know that angels can sin, choose wrong and fall from grace.  If they couldn't we would not have Lucifer and his crew.  Yet, salvation is not offered to a fallen angel like it is a fallen human. Angels are either in God's kingdom or on their way to hell. God does not deal with His creation the same.  

Look at Elijah and Enoch... they both had physical bodies that they were not required to leave behind on this earth.  And yet year after year, decade after decade, century after century so many people are forced to leave their bodies here to become dust... God does not deal with His creation the same.

Saying that God did not breathe into their nostrils the breath of life is not justification enough to say animals cannot go to heaven any more than you are justified in saying Elijah better get his body back down here cuz, God, that's just not fair.  Again... God does not deal with His creation the same.

And that is His right.

Let's look at Romans 8 and we will start in verse 14

"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:"

here, we are being told that born again Christians are adopted into the family of God.. we become the sons of God

let's continue...

"And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." 

again. we are called the sons of God and we are waiting for our glory to be revealed... now pay attention.

"For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God."

There are two subjects in the above passage... the sons of God who we have established from the previous verses is us and ... the creature and the creature is doing what? waiting...for what?...our manifestation.... why would the creature care about our manifestation? Good question, read on. 

"For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,"

They were put under the same bondage as us.. not willingly or because they had done anything wrong but because of us.  They fight death, cold, heat, hunger, birth, separation by lack of communication.. they are subjected to the consequences of Adam's sin.  read on because here it is...

"Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God."

Oh my, the creature gets to do what? be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God ( where will you find glorious liberty? Heaven, correct? and the creature itself also shall be delivered. correct?) 

"For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now."

"And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."

And there we are ~ all of creation travailing in pain and groaning together waiting for the redemption of our bodies.  

Now let me tell you something one last time.  God does not deal with his creation the same...I don't believe animals are to be worshipped. 

Animals and insects since the flood have been food.   In my freezer, there is a beef who when he walked this earth was tagged number "11".  When I get to heaven and run into 11 I want to run up and scratch that soft spot right behind his ears just like before.  

I will look him in the eye and rub my forehead against his (that's the best way to hug a cow) 

and, to be honest, since there will no longer be a language barrier from the fall, I will probably rib him a little asking why he turned into a carnivore and bit Grace while she was stealing his cud trying to save our milk cows life... 

there will be no sorrow or guilt from me being the cause of his death.  While 11 was here on our farm he was treated with kindness and love.  He was put to death as humanely as I could provide and he feeds my family... His Creator, my Creator established this order, neither he nor I will question it. People eat meat. Animals die.  The only responsibility we have is how they are treated when they are alive on this earth.  The rest of that responsibility is Gods and He's big enough to bear it.  Animals were only given a short time on this earth and while our flesh often grieves over this knowledge..... I know in my heart they got the better end of the deal.

well, there you have it.  no mystics.  no creation worship.  Just God said: 

"Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God."

and I believe Him.

Oh, and trees?  Well, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth... And God planted a garden eastward in Eden..... in that garden God planted trees that had names like peach, walnut, redbud, knowledge of good and evil, life, etc....  Then Adam sins and is kicked from the garden, as man walks away from the garden he turns to look over his shoulder one last time. He sees God placing armed angels around the tree called life to gaurd it because God doesn't want man to reach forth his hand and eat from it.... it was physically on earth. touchable there.. but travel through time to Revelation 22  where we find the tree of life, now in heaven beside the river.  God does not feel the need to explain to us the when, how or why and guess what?  He doesn't have to.   Does that mean all trees go to heaven?  Prolly not but who am I to answer that?  Personally, I don't think grasshoppers, Japanese beetles or coyotes should be in heaven they cause me way too much stress but that choice is not mine to make.  

My ways are not your ways saith the Lord, and that fact right there is something worth praising Him for... 

Jeremiah 32:27

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Jewelweed Salve

Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, chiggers, ticks, oak mites, and mosquitos... Missouri provides them all and then some. With a farming family, we can't avoid the outside and that also means we can't avoid the irritants either.   Fortunately, Miss Missouri provides something else as well.... jewelweed.

Working with jewelweed is easy.  It can be as simple as grabbing a handful of flowers and stems, chewing them up and slapping it on the problem skin.... yeah, I know.  Nobody wants to walk around with mom spit and weeds slapped on their skin and besides jewelweed isn't always around.  So here is how we make it a little more civilized and portable.

Jewelweeds benefits are found in a sticky sap in its stems, flowers, and leaves. Drying this herb is not an option because you'll dry the sap.  For long-term storage, it is best to extract it into an oil.  I use olive oil because that is what I have kicking around in my soap supplies. Use your favorite liquid carrier oil.

Jewelweed it is easiest to find when it is blooming. Check along creeks and roadsides. It likes water.  Blooms are either orange or yellow. I think the orange is more potent but I will take whatever I find. Pick a little bit of everything, flowers, stems, and leaves.  Jewelweed is an annual so it is important that you do not harvest the entire plant. Leave plenty to bloom and go to seed for next year.

Pick over your harvest looking for bugs and weeds... anything that you don't want in your salve.

Once you are home cram it into a mason jar and cover with your carrier oil. ( I add one or two plantain plants in the mix.  It is not necessary but plantain has added benefits for the salve.)  Make sure the lid is on tight.  Place a small dishtowel in the bottom of your crockpot and add about two inches of water. Lay your bottle on its side and put your lid on. Turn crockpot on warm.  Let it go until the next morning or afternoon... sometime the next day.  If you don't have a crockpot or want to speed things up you can stand your jar in a pan of water on the stove for four hours.  It's just important that you don't let it boil because boiling breaks down the oil and the beneficial sap.  I don't have time to babysit it so I use the crockpot.

When your oil is done place a strainer over another bowl and lay cheesecloth in the strainer.  Slowly pour out your oil  (It will now be a beautiful shade of orangeish green) and the foliage will now looks like the contents of a cow's rumen... if you've never had to dig through the contents of a  cow's rumen then you'll just have to raise your hands to heaven and thank Jesus and then you'll have to take my word for it you, lucky dog, you.

Wrap your cheesecloth up tight and squeeze out every last drop of that wonderful extract.

It can be stored in the fridge (make sure you label it so someone doesn't mistake it for elderberry and chug it on down. This will make a sick person cranky.. learn from the experiences of others, my friend.)

Or you can just make it into a salve right away and be prepared for whatever life tosses at you.

The salve requires  1/4 c of beeswax for every cup of oil you use. and essential oils are optional.

Beeswax is never an exact science.  We use wax from our girls, if you purchase wax it comes in a multitude of styles from pellets to bricks so when I say 1/4 cup...  it's not bible.  don't pack it in your measuring cup tight, if you've got a brick of it grate it first. It's always a good idea to try a small batch to see how the salve feels when it is done before using up your entire supply in a bulk batch. If however, it comes out wrong just remelt it and add either more oil or more wax to get the desired consistency

place a pan on your stove and add water, place a heat proof bowl in the water and to that add your wax and oil. Gently melt them together.

Once the wax is melted remove from pan and pour into containers of your choice.  I really like these little tins found here but this time my budget sent me to the dollar store and that works too.

Once your salve has started to cool you can add essential oils of your choice.  Some of my favorites are lavender, Tea treeRosemary or Peppermint for their soothing and healing properties. A few drops per container is fine.

Let your jewelweed salve sit uncovered for 24 hours then put the lids on.  I make it all up at once and store in the freezer leaving one jar out in the fridge.  I'll warn you even with essential oils it doesn't smell the best but it isn't a spa lotion it is medicine.  Medicine that works. Simply apply it to irritated areas when needed.

Jewelweed salve is an item that our farm sells in limited amounts.  It is $6 for a 2 oz tub... highway robbery I know, but I'd rather be slathering it on my kids than selling it. And honestly, you don't need me to make it for you.

Or I found it on Amazon here and at the time of posting they are offering a $2 off coupon.  Just check and see if they have preservatives in it first.. our skin is the largest organ in our bodies and we should really be careful what we put on it.

That's it, Ladies, we've turned weeds into treasures without even breaking a sweat.  Now, let's go cut some firewood.  Critters step aside.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Tree Fodder

This is a U.S. drought map for July and do you see that big brown burned up blob right in the middle... yeah, that's us...And, honey, it didn't get any better in August.  You see, the Lord chose to grow our faith this summer instead of our pastures and if you could zoom in you'd see our family giving a sigh of surrender and then rolling up our sleeves and making hay while the sun shines. Not grass hay though... no, the grass is all burned up so we are making tree hay.  Tree/Weed fodder to be exact.

Tree Fodder has been around forever.

I haven't.

no matter what my children tell you.

But finding someone to teach you to make tree fodder is hard.  So jumping in with both feet and learning as you go is the best way... perhaps the only way.

The most important part of making tree fodder is to know your trees/weeds... not all are safe to eat. If in doubt google search it before adding it to your fodder pile.

What we use:

small amounts of walnut
redbud ~ pea pods attached add extra value. High protein.
grape vines
raspberry/blackberry cane
ragweed... all kinds of ragweed
sericea lespedeza - grows in the ditches
small amounts of sassafrass - avoid if your cows are lactating.
garden waste green bean plants, cowpea, sweet potato vine, pumpkin leaves
small amounts of redroot before it seeds... don't bring that mess to your pasture if avoidable.

I really think hedge apples, roses and locust would be good too if you could dry them without turning their thorns into piercing daggers in the cow's mouth... I'm still working through this one...

What we DON'T use:

these build up prussic acid when wilting.. it is assumed that once it passes the wilt stage and is fully dry it will be safe again... I'm not putting effort into trees that I may or may not be able to feed but those are decisions that we need to make for ourselves.


you want a chainsaw, a good pair of nippers or even a sawsall to cut the branches.  I love nippers because it stops me from cutting too old of wood on any tree.  The fresher the growth the more nutrition in it.  If you have stumps that are constantly sending up suckers... you, my friend, have hit the jackpot.  The new growth of suckers are tender and fresh and the perfect size for drying. Waterspouts from your apple trees are ideal here too.

Collecting tree fodder isn't the same as raking leaves.. when a leaf falls to the ground during Autumn, it fell because the tree pulled back the sap and all the vitamins and nutrients with it thus killing the leaf.  In making fodder we clip the branch and dry the leaves with all the nutrients intact.  They will feel like soft leather and still be quite green or tones of green when dry.

we cleared trees in this pasture with a chainsaw last winter and then seeded it with grass.. as you can see the new grass is struggling to gain a foothold from lack of water while all of the stumps sent up suckers, the girls are nipping the suckers and loading them.

The key is variety.   Clipping from many different trees adding to the pile and mixing it all up.  One important tip would be to lay them all facing the same way.  It makes it easier for drying and handling.

I know there are some who would think that harvesting branches this time of year will do damage to the tree and I suppose it does leave it exposed to bugs on the cuts. If you feel it's necessary you can cover the cuts with wax but honestly, the lower the water table gets the more the tree struggles and trimming branches relieves some of the burden and allows trees to live that might have otherwise died.

don't forget to grab your weeds.

lespedeza is at its peak at 8-12 inches but if yours is taller, even if it's blooming still pick it because some nutrition is better than none.  High protein.

Ragweed is the poor man's alfalfa... if you don't believe me send one in for an analysis. you'll stop spraying, at least in the field, I promise.  It is best to let it grow as big as you can get it without it blooming. I, however, am also a beekeeper so I don't have that luxury.  The same drought that is starving my cattle is starving my bees so I let mine bloom and when the girls have had their fill of pollen then I pull it.  The ragweed in the picture is giant ragweed and it will hold it's own when dried.  If you get a bunch with the feathery type leaves tuck them into the tree fodder before drying.  It dries up quite small and the tree leaves will hold it in shape whereas otherwise it may just powder up and be too small to be of use.  High protein.

sunchokes and sunflower leaves can be pulled from their stems doing this allows for regrowth if possible.  high protein.

I guess I don't have a picture of comfrey..but just cut the leaves and lay them in your bundles.  comfrey is high in protein.

here's another handy tip.. having a cute helper sure makes the work go easier.  Only don't give him nippers... he is only two after all.  A pair of pliers look just like nippers though and he'll stay busy bringing you back the cutest little bundles of nutritious weeds for his cows that you've ever seen.  Man, that dude melts my heart.


can be done multiple ways... it obviously isn't raining or you wouldn't be this desperate so pile them in airy piles in your driveway.. or barn, garage, living room floor..... you know your limits.

Our barn was empty so that is where we started. We cut for an hour every morning.  then stack the dry and lay out the fresh.  with no humidity, it dries completely in 2-3 days don't pack it tight until then because you don't want it to mold.  If it rains or gets a heavy fog a willow will plump back up so you want them cut.dried and stored away on a dry day or you will spend your life bouncing back and forth....fortunately willow is the only one that gives me fits like that.

later when we finally scrounged up a few bales of hay I had to dry them tighter.

notice the variety in this bundle and the plastic underneath.. sometimes oak and hickory will shuck their leaves while drying.  especially if you bounce them around too much when checking moisture. It doesn't happen very often but trust me, no one wants to work like this to have their leaves sitting in the dirt.  a piece of plastic is just extra insurance and you can dump the loose ones in a gunny sack.

As they dry you can compact them into a tight corner and that leaves room for more.  Here are dried bundles in a feed bunk waiting for winter. See how green they are even though totally dry.

also, notice the stinking Japanese beetle chew marks... lack of water didn't slow them a bit.

and then, notice the psycho photo bomber... it's okay, her antics make the work a little lighter. and now I have this picture preserved right here for me to show her man someday... appreciate it, sis!

and then there is my last tip of the night... don't cut your fodder in the same pasture as your cows... they will make you feel so guilty that they end up with half your fodder fresh and you know come January you are going to regret it.


when feeding be prepared for twigs to be left behind, this isn't a perfect system.  The best way to feed is to think about the way you eat. When you fill your plate you take a little bit of everything, veggies, carbs, meat and so forth and that's how you stay healthy.  Now you are filling a plate for your cows and you need to mix the high protein foods with the fibers.  I find it is easier to mix the bundles fresh and let them dry together.  Cows are not overly fond of ragweed (kinda like I'm not overly fond of kale but it is good for me) so having it dried into the bundle helps it all stick together and it gets munched down before the cows realize it was in there... I raised six kids... I know how this works.  Stack a variety of foods together and then lay them flat or hang them and you will be surprised how they shrink up into a nice tight bundle that is easy to handle and feed. When dealing with the weeds that I have listed above please remember that they are very high in protein and you do not need to use very much of them per bundle.. an example of mine would be

3 oak branches
3 Hickory branches
a full ragweed shoved in the middle or 3-5 leaves from a sunchoke
a piece of grape vine or raspberry
maybe an apple branch or mulberry
3 willow branches- willow branches hold together really well so I would use on bottom and top. like a sandwich.

 You will find that some things are just not ready for harvest all at the same time and you'll have to mix them as you feed.  Most of the garden waste is that way.

That's really all there is to it, except I left out the part about the sweat and the whining but you will figure that out all on your own.  The first year I made tree fodder was the drought of 12... I had five cows and a dozen goats, it was easy.  Since that time we have sold the goats and the Lord has blessed our cattle herd.... there are quite a few more mouths to feed.  It feels a little overwhelming, kind of like trying to store water in my pocket.... which is ironic because if I had any water, my pocket is not where I would be putting it. Yet, every bundle is one more day that one more cow stays on our place and the Lord promises to work all things for our good so I'm going to hold Him to it.

Proverbs 31:21

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Sumac Summer...

Well, it almost wasn't a Sumac summer this year... like every other sentence that has come out of my mouth.... it is just too dry.  Our Sumac flowers never opened.  Just dried up and turned to powder on the stem. Poor bees....poor us.....  BUT while we were out checking bees in an off farm yard....Preston, his momma and I found some.

If you have never tried Sumac berries you are in for a treat! I guess I should say if you like all things lemon... lemon heads, lemon aide, za'atar.... then you are in for a treat.

Pick the whole cluster, they are best when they look like they have been rolled in sugar but even if they don't just pick them.

 Now you are faced with two choices..1) pop them in your mouth immediately and enjoy the refreshing taste of summer or 2) carry them home to be dried.

Preston chose to eat his immediately, he has done this before, my friend, and knows what it's all about.

be like Preston.
you can thank us later.

I will add a disclaimer here, about feeding sumac to littles... last year he was barely over a year old when I gave him a cluster like that. He and I wallerd in the wonderful flavor and got it all over us.. we were sour and sticky and..... and then... he rubbed his eyes... and it burned.  I'm not sure who was crying harder by the time we made it back to the house to wash it off  ~ Memaw or the dude but it was not a pretty sight.  have a washrag ready.

P.S.Yes, his hair is wet.  We got caught in one of the two rainstorms that we have had this summer and it was so gloriously beautiful we kept right on working in it.

back to sumac...

If your sumac made it home it now has lots of wonderful uses

You can make Sumac-aide.  just inspect those clusters for critters and plop it in a glass of ice cold water for a bit.

the stem is kind of piney tasting so if you don't want that use a fork and scrape the berries off.


you can share them with your little brother...

and be rewarded with big smiles and sour shudders

Or you can dry them...

If this is your first time with Sumac you can get away with tossing them on a cookie sheet and letting them sit on the counter until the next morning... If not and your family knows what's up then just head straight for the dehydrator because if you leave them sitting on the counter they will eat them all.... the voice of experience here, ladies.

once they are good and dry you will  use a fork to rake them off the stems and toss them into the blender

It's not really the entire berry that you will use for cooking but the outer shell. the blender will bust them apart and inside your blender, you will have red powder and seeds... lots and lots of seeds.

Dump that into a flour sifter or on top of a fine screen and shake it around until the red powder is on a plate below and the seeds are dry on the screen.  Chickens love the seeds or you can plant them to grow more bushes.

This powder can now be used to season your food.  I like to mix it with smartweed and make a wild version of lemon pepper chicken or rabbit.  It can also be used in Za'atar.  Za'atar can be used to season any kind of meat and eggs. I sprinkle it in soups and on popcorn.

2 Tbs dried thyme or oregano (or one of each)
2 Tbs ground cumin
2 Tbs ground coriander
2 Tbs sumac powder
2Tbs ground sesame seeds

*just a quick tip. herbs and spices are best stored whole and then ground in a coffee grinder when ready to use.

mix it together and store in an airtight container. The sumac powder is the dark red at the top... I somehow didn't get a picture of it alone. I know... you're surprised.

I got to eat this for lunch just because I needed a blog picture.... I need to blog more often.

Just not today, I gotta run and put up more tree hay, this drought has me scrounging like a beggar trying to keep my cows.  I will, however, be posting about tree hay here in a few days so make sure you stop back by if you have livestock.. or even if you don't because I miss ya when you're gone.

Have a great day!

Monday, June 25, 2018


Spring is a time of abundance, it is also time to make your plans for providing during the dearth of Winter.  Today we are talking eggs.

When you live with Grace eggs are supplied in abundance but it does not happen without planning.  Such as, early in the year (Jan/Feb), much to her joy, we add six to twelve pullets to our flock.  These birds will begin to lay in late summer and will skip the winter molt and lay right through providing us with fresh eggs for eating.  Now don't let that number fool you the girl will hatch out a million more throughout the summer but they will not begin laying until the following Spring and they provide the backdrop for the rest of this post.

The older birds will take a break and their laying will be spotty from the end of November until the end of January and the younger hens will not lay until the following Spring.  If 6 -12 eggs provides breakfast, what can we use for baking?  Well, we put up the Spring abundance of eggs.  After the family and the Hogs are fed we freeze the rest.  If you don't have chickens your abundance will be Easter, watch the sales adds and grab as many as you can afford.

You need to gather a few ice cube trays and your eggs.  The first time you do this you will need to determine how many ice cubes equal one egg... I find that in most trays it takes two cubes per egg and those that are not exact are close enough that it doesn't make a difference but check so you don't have a disaster.

Break your eggs into a large bowl or picture.

lightly whisk them and add either a sprinkle of sugar or salt... you do not have to add the sprinkle but it helps to hold down the frothing.  I usually just give a shake or two from my salt shaker and call it good.

Then pour the whisked eggs into your ice cube trays. As you can see I was very scientific in choosing my ice cube trays... they all match and give me precise measurements.... sorry for the sarcasm I just want to point out that we try to make life much too complicated by making it "right" when close enough really works and is less stress.

And then slide them in the freezer.  The next morning pop them out and put them in a storage container.  If they are sticking in the tray run the back side under hot water for a short second.

For use just pull the desired amount out and defrost in the fridge.. or on the counter if you're like me and usually remember an hour before you need them. 

That's it, Ladies, don't forget to save all those wonderful shells for your garden and Happy Baking.
Now, get back to your family. <3

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Rendering Lard

Well, it's happened.... Spring!  I knew I would be in trouble when it hit because there is so much to do that there is no time to write.  We had a couple of rainy days so I was able to get our lard put up and I actually remembered to take pictures.

Throughout my married life, those in the "know" have proven one thing to me and that is ~ they don't know. 

"fats are good for you"

"fats are bad for you"

"Olive oil is good, vegetable oil is bad"

"Coconut oil is good, olive oil is bad"

"Wheat is good"

"wheat is bad"

"eggs are good"

"eggs are bad"

"butter is good for you, margarine is bad"

"margarine is good for you and butter is bad"

It's exhausting.  exhausting.  How about running our families according to the bible?  How about all things in moderation?

That being said.  what of these "all things" can I produce on my own?

For my family, it is butter and lard.  Both of these I have complete control over and to me that makes them as healthy as a fat can get.

The only fat I purchase is coconut oil.  I can get it from Country Life Natural Foods in 50 lb buckets and it stores well.  But the majority of our fat comes straight from our land.

I wanted to post about butter right after the yogurt but it just hasn't worked out well for me... My blog tends to be about real life and real life just isn't perfect.... like I forget to take pictures all. the. time.
Soo.. you get lard today but! keep this little butter churn on your radar and for less than $40 you have a way to make butter and we will get back to it, I promise.

I am blessed in that we breed pigs so I can control my fat source from conception.  It hasn't always been that way and even if you do not have a way to raise your own pigs, you can visit a custom butcher and ask him to save you the fat from healthy farm raised pigs.  Most people don't keep their lard and often he will just give it to you for free or for pennies.

The only tools you need for rendering lard are a ladle, a slotted spoon, a crock pot, and a sharp knife.

A quick tip, Walmart puts crockpots on their black Friday ad every year for around $10 without fail. You don't even have to fight the crowds to get it. and it shows up at your door two days later. I own three because when I do things I tend to do them in mass quantities.  It's an illness, really.

Your fat will come in long strips.  Just chunk it up with a sharp knife.

and toss it in your crockpot.  a word of warning... lard does not smell like frying bacon.  If you can put the crockpot outside on a nice day or in your garage great, if not ... oh, well... just ignore the comments from the rest of the family.  turn your crockpot on low if you don't have time to babysit it and high if you will be around all day.

The fat will start to melt and the impurities will sink to the bottom.  You can begin skimming any time you wish.  After skimming you can add more fat to the pot if you have it and allow it to heat back up.  I ladle mine off into cake pans but you may have canning jars or something else you wish to use.

The lard is hot and not something you want little children around.  Lard is shelf stable and how you chose to store it is completely up to you.  I cool mine in the pans and then cut it into three cup sections and store in my freezer because I can't spare canning jars or shelf space.  If there are any impurities left in your lard it will sink to the bottom and can be cut off before freezing, if it's in a jar the last little bit in the jar will be gritty. still good for frying with but not so much for making cookies.

The lard turns pure white when set.

And finally, the cracklins.  It is the leftover meat and stuff from rendering.  You can salt them and they taste like pork rinds, only, the texture is all wrong and we don't much care for them... They can also be fed back to your pigs (oh! the horror, Shelly!) chickens or dogs.  At the very least toss them in your compost, don't waste it.

And that is it, ladies.  For a few hours of work, you can have your fat supply for a year with minimal outsourcing and cost.  Plus, we are making soap here shortly and lard soap is one of the recipes I will be sharing.

Now, to get back outside it's almost time to plant the pumpkin field.... and pumpkins are excellent pig food for next years lard.