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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Punk Rock Chicks

Brook found out about our chicken photo contest a little too late, but still wanted to share her adorable picture with us. Thanks for sending it!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Garnish your landscape

By Jennifer

 Lavender stems launch a passing grasshopper. Lavender, like many herbs, is not very susceptible to pests.
Anyone who has ever ventured into the art of cooking knows the power of herbs to improve the flavor and visual design of a dish. Long before they are harvested, however, herbs can serve these very same purposes in the garden. 

We generally group herbs into two categories, those used for medicinal purposes, and those like basil, parsley, sage, etc. that can be used in cooking. My focus today is on the latter.

Like most people, I suspect, I started growing my first herbs with the end result in mind: I wanted to eat them. Specifically, I wanted enough basil to make pesto. So, I bought a little basil seedling and tended it in a pot on my apartment patio. I'd always thought basil's glossy leaves were attractive, but I was charmed to learn the plant also produced little white flowers. I'd never known that before. (Technically, pinching off those flowers is necessary to encourage strong, bushy leaf growth. Since the flowers are edible, they make great garnishes.)

Another year, when I'd acquired more garden space, I tried my hand at growing dill. I envisioned making pickles and a yummy bread recipe with the wispy leaves. A bonus was the canopy of tiny connected yellow flowers that burst open at the top, prompting my son to excitedly call dill "the firecracker plant." A spice jar couldn't provide the same memories.

Who knew recipe ingredients could be so beautiful? Yes, grow herbs for eventual use in the kitchen, but first use them to design an attractive garden. Herbs flavor the landscape with scent, texture, color, shape. They can be tall focal points or ground cover, flower bearers or foliage kings.
 Lavender, in the bottom right corner, fits into a flower bed on a rock-lined slope in my front yard.

Given lots of sun, most herbs aren't fussy when it comes to water and soil needs. They can be equally at home on a slope or on a level plane. Many, like sage, oregano, rosemary and chives, are perennials. 

Sage's purple flowers are among the first blooms in my garden each spring. 

About four years I bought a sage seedling for 19 cents at the nursery. Even with periodically cutting back the woody parts, this plant is now a three-foot wide bush that rewards me with beautiful purple flowers in the spring. Its pungent green leaves become more silver by autumn's end. My mother likes harvesting long sage branches to make into wreaths. Early last spring I transplanted volunteer seedlings underneath this one plant to other parts in my yard, and they flourished. All for 19 cents.

Herbs also provide protection to other plants, as principles of companion planting demonstrate. Click here for a look. 

This year, when planning your vegetable garden and flower beds, think "outside the jar" and grow herbs for beauty's sake, as well as to eat.

 Chives' delicate purple flowers offer the same mild onion flavor as the tubular green stems we normally eat.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Easter Ideas

Easter is sneaking up on me, and I'm fed up, like most of you, how we get lost in the commercialism of our holidays. This year, I vow not to give into peer pressure or to worry about what other kids in the neighborhood are getting or doing. We are going to do something different....but what??? I need help, I need your ideas. How do you make Easter a special day without a ton of candy?

I am going to dye eggs because that is something that we enjoy doing as a family. This year we will NOT be buying a $1 dye kit from Walmart, we will be using natural ingredients to dye our eggs. Click here for instructions on that.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

And the winner is......

Chloe, #10

Congrats! Make sure you email me your address so I can send you your prize!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Raw Milk Taste Test

Michael and I ventured and bought our first gallon of raw milk. Even after reading The Raw Milk Revolution, I was still a little nervous about it. First off, here in Utah you have to sign a waiver stating you understand all the things that could possibly go wrong if you drink it, including death. That is a little terrifying! Okay, not a little terrifying, really terrifying. After reading the facts about raw milk, I realized that it isn't any more dangerous than eating a lot of the other foods we are consuming, namely lunch meat.

Michael and I first did our own taste test and I definately could tell a difference. The pasteurized milk had a chemically (is that a word?) aftertaste. The raw milk had a nice smooth almost grassy taste to it, probably because the cows are grass fed. We waited a day to make sure we didn't get sick, then gave it to the kids. Michael and I were just as nervous to eat our very first egg produced by the chickens. It is laughable that we were so scared to eat our free range chicken eggs. Now we are egg snobs and hate it when the girls aren't producing enough and we have to buy store bought eggs.

The kids were sure that they would hate the raw milk. Disregard the fact that my kids don't know how to close their stinking eyes!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chicken Photo Contest

I have had so much fun with this contest! I love all the entries, thank you for submitting your chicken pictures.

Each person was allowed to submit 3 pictures, I have listed the name of the contestant along with their photos, each one is numbered with an entry number. If you would like to place a vote, make a comment, and in the body of the comment, put the entry number you are voting for. Please one vote per person, and voting ends Friday. Don't forget to send your friends over to vote for you!

And the contestants are.....drum roll please......

Entry #1
submitted by Becky
This is a picture I took last weekend of my mom's 13 week old rooster. He's a mixed breed and has a fluffy Santa beard. Entry #2
Submitted by Amy
What's for dinner?

Entry #3
Submitted by Amy
I'll show you who's boss!

Entry #4
Submitted by Amy
Nice to meet you!

Entry #5

Submitted by Katie
5 week old broiler
Entry #6
Submitted by Katie

Entry #7
Submitted by Katie
Fluffy Buns

Entry #8
Submitted by Scott and Deanna

Entry # 9
Submitted by Michelle
(I'm keeping these as a series, because they are just so cute all together)

Our Little Man feel in love with 2008's last hen. "Henny" as he named her. He would cart her all over our farm. Whether by wagon, tricycle, or garden cart, she went where he went. Hope you enjoy.
Entry #10

age: 8
she took this with a phone from the side of the road.

Entry #11
Submitted by Dale
6 year old Dale (a contributor of BYF)

Entry #12
Submitted by Dale
Oh! Crap!

Entry #13
Submitted by Dale
Entry #14
Submitted by Katie
The chicks.
Entry #15
Submitted by Katie
Buff Orpington's cute face
Entry #16
Submitted by Katie
Wind blown skirt...sexy!Entry #17
Submitted by Amy
So sweet!

Entry #18
Submitted by AmyEntry #19
Submitted by Amy

Entry #20
Submitted by Heather

Her girls first encounter with snow, some were more adventurous.

Entry #21
Submitted by Heather
While others weren't to happy about it.
Bertha's sit in.
Entry #22
Submitted by Heather
I'm not even going to look at you!Entry #23
Submitted by Kaitlyn
12 years old
She’s the one who does the daily care of our small band of 13 chickens. She loved these two roosters!

Entry #24
Submitted by Kaitlyn
12 years old
Entry #25
Submitted by Chantel
Day old chick we raised from one of our own eggs.

Entry #26
Submitted by Chantel

Entry #27
Submitted by Chantel

This last one demonstrates that even a “cool” 15-year-old boy falls in love with a newborn chick! Of course, it doesn’t help much when it’s time to clean the coop!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Edible Flowers: Pansy

By Mike Johnson

I think that Pansies are one of the prettier flowers that you can put in your garden. Not only are they pretty but they are also tasty. I like that quality in my Flowers.

Pansies were originally created in the early 1800’s by crossing varieties of violas. I attribute the popularity to the pansy to a few reasons. First, I would expect there popularity is based on their delicate beauty. Second, a lot of the demand for Pansies is due to there hardiness and ease of growing. They do well in cool weather and you can find them growing in the winter in the South or Southwest and they grow well spring to fall in the north of the United States. Thirdly, I think they appeal to us on a subconscious level because they have 5 petals and 5 is a Fibonacci number. I won’t bore you with a lesson on Fibonacci numbers in nature, just trust me, we are attracted to Fibonacci numbers.

The flavor of your pansies depends on growing conditions and the type of pansy you grow. The whole flower can be eaten and it might taste grassy, tangy, or it might have a wintergreen flavor as well. Regardless of the flavor it is usually very mild. It can be added to salads as a garnish. My kids love it when we add petals in lemonade or even popsicles. Another fun way to use it is to freeze it in ice cubes.

Always exercise caution when eating flowers. See my previous article about Honeysuckle plants for some of the dangers that you want to be aware of.

Here is a recipe for Pansy Lemonade that you can also freeze and make into popsicles. This will make a very strong lemonade. I like it strong but if it is too much for you, dilute it with water to taste.

Pansy Lemonade

6 cups water

2 Cups Lemon Juice

Zest of one lemon

1 1/3 Cup Sugar

Stir and add pansy as a garnish
If you are making popsicles, add pansies to container, pour in juice, freeze with a stick, feed to children, or yourself!



Sunday, March 21, 2010

Be Prepared

Boy Scouts of America (BSA) celebrated it's 100th birthday last month, their motto is "Be Prepared". In honor of the BSA and their birthday, I'm doing a post on Being Prepared. I am a firm believer in being prepared. There are lots of ways to prepare, preparing my house for the winter, preparing my garden for the spring, preparing the diaper bag for an outing, preparing a menu before we go to the grocery store, etc. I want to talk about being prepared for disasters. I started thinking about how many natural disasters there have been just in 2010, so I did a search on natural disasters, the list is at the bottom of the post.

It makes it hard to sit back in my little house and pretend that nothing bad could ever happen to my neck of the woods. I pray and hope that my family and I never experience something tragic, but if we do, I want to be prepared!

Hometown Seeds sent me this package of Survival Seeds. I desperately want to open this triple layered mylar bag, because I secretly have a love affair with seeds. I love to hold the seed packages, read the description, and look at the seeds. But, this package of seeds is going straight to the freezer which will keep them good for up to 10 years! This will come in handy not only if there is a natural disaster making it difficult to get seeds, but also in the case of a more personal disaster, such as my husband getting laid off or financial struggle. If we were having financial problems, what better way to save money than to grow your own food? This way, we will be ready with all the seeds we need to grow a great garden.

This package comes with enough seeds to plant 3/4 an acre, and an instructional booklet. They are non-hybrid seeds as well, which is the only way to garden...in my opinion.

For more tips on how to get prepared, visit Homestead Revival, she has some other great ideas!

Natural Disasters 2010

Solomon Islands: Cyclone Ului - Mar 2010
East Africa: Floods - Mar 2010
Fiji: Cyclone Tomas - Mar 2010
Kazakhstan: Floods - Mar 2010
Madagascar: Cyclone Hubert - Mar 2010
Angola: Floods - Mar 2010
Mozambique: Floods - Mar 2010
Serbia: Floods - Mar 2010
Zimbabwe: Floods - Mar 2010
Zambia: Floods - Feb 2010
Haiti: Floods and Mudslides - Mar 2010
Chile: Earthquake - Feb 2010
Madeira: Floods and Mudslides - Feb 2010
Caribbean: Drought - Feb 2010
Pakistan: Avalanche - Feb 2010
Cook Islands: Tropical Cyclone Pat - Feb 2010
Afghanistan: Floods and Avalanches - Feb 2010
Mexico: Floods and Landslides - Feb 2010
French Polynesia: Cyclone Oli - Feb 2010
Solomon Islands: Floods - Jan 2010
Egypt: Floods - Jan 2010
occupied Palestinian territory: Floods - Jan 2010
Haiti: Earthquakes - Jan 2010
Mongolia: Dzud - Jan 2010
Montenegro: Floods - Jan 2010
Bolivia: Floods - Jan 2010
India/Nepal/Bangladesh: Cold Wave - Jan 2010
Pakistan: Landslides and Floods - Jan 2010
Solomon Islands: Earthquake - Jan 2010
Tajikistan: Earthquake - Jan 2010
Following information was found here.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Don't Forget to Send Us Your Chicken Pictures!

Entries will be accepted until Monday night, and will be posted on Tuesday for judging. For pictures of the prize and a few of the stringent rules and regulations regarding this contest, click here.

For all other contest rules and regulations, read below. Please make sure you read all the rules carefully!

Okay, not really, I just googled contest rules and this came up, so I changed everything to say Backyard farming.

How to enter:

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. To enter mail us your chicken pictures. To be eligible, entries must be completed and received on or by the closing date of the draw. Incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries shall NOT become the property of Backyard Farming who is not responsible for lost, misdirected or delayed entries. Entries received by telephone, fax, courier or personal delivery will not be accepted.


  1. The contest is open to Backyard Farming readers of age. Identification must be produced on request. Employees Backyard Farming, its contest sponsor, advertising and promotional agencies and their respective affiliates and associates and such employees' immediate family members and persons with whom such employees are domiciled are excluded from this contest.

  2. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded.

  3. Decisions of the contest judges are final - no substitutions will be available.

  4. By claiming the prize, the winner authorizes the use, without additional compensation of his or her name and/or likeness and/or voice/photograph and municipality of residence for promotion and/or advertising purposes in any manner and in any medium (including without limitation, radio broadcasts, newspapers and other publications and in television or film releases, slides, videotape, distribution over the internet and picture data storage) which Shaw may deem appropriate.

  5. In accepting the prize, the winner, and any guest(s), acknowledges that Backyard Farming may not be held liable for any loss, damages or injury associated with accepting or using this prize(s).

  6. The person(s) who wins the specific prize will be required to answer a skill-testing question before the prize is awarded to them.

  7. Detailed contest rules applicable to this contest, including contest entry dates, how to enter, and prize value, number and any restrictions applicable to these prizes are available upon request from Backyard Farming

  8. Winners and any guests at the age of majority must sign a release form as prepared and accepted by Backyard Farming acknowledging their acceptance and understanding of the complete contest rules.

  9. Backyard Farming retains the rights, in its absolute and sole discretion, to make substitutions of equivalent kind or approximate value in the event of the unavailability of any prize or component of the prize for any reason whatsoever.

  10. This contest is subject to all federal, provincial and municipal laws.

  11. Backyard Farming reserves the right to withdraw or terminate this contest at any time without prior notice.

  12. Approximate value of prizes vary.

  13. Contest open to Backyard Farming Readers only.

  14. 3 entries per person, per contest.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Art of Soap Making

Well, it really isn't an art, is it? It is more of a science, but to me it feels like an art. My husband offered to take me out and do whatever I wanted to for my birthday. Do you know what I chose? I asked him to stay home with me and make soap. It is one of my favorite dates with him.

I will soon be posting videos on how to make soap, but for now, enjoy this great link that explains the process of making soap in terms of rabbits, wolves, dogs and sheep. Even if you don't want to know how soap making works, it is pretty entertaining!


Thursday, March 18, 2010


by Dale

My love of fowl extends beyond than animal kingdom for here I am in Turkey this week working with farmers. It is planting season and some Kurdish farmers show me their watermelon seeds from California.

A flock of sheep eagerly follow their shepherd out to spring grass. But instead of staff, he carries a cell phone. Notice the rocks in the background. These are the rockiest fields that I have ever seen.

They make good use of the rocks in fencing their backyards. Goats just love to climb these fences.

If you have followed my raw milk articles, then you know how crazy I am in this picture. I am about to enjoy a glass of liquid yogurt made from goats milk. I think the yogurt process neutralizes bad bacteria and propagates good bacteria but my stomach is growling. Thank heavens I brought Cipro with me.

As I finish this article, the haunting sound of call to prayer emanates from a nearby mosque to fill the city. I feel a little guilty to see the unused prayer rug on the nightstand next to my bed. Perhaps if we were all reminded to pray 5 times a day in the United States, we might be a little better for it.