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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Raw Milk War

I work in the financial industry for a living and one of the things that we always watch for is for magazines and newspapers to put Stock market information on their covers. This is a sign that there is irrational exuberance in the markets, and we are probably going to go down soon.

Time Magazine recently had an article about raw milk and I wonder what it means for raw milk consumers. Does it indicate that raw milk is now too popular and the government is going to crack down even more? Who knows. While I don't expect that most of us can learn anything from Time Magazine, it is still an interesting read if you are passionate about your right to drink raw milk, or if you are passionate that we need the FDA to limit raw milk consumption to protect us. Here are two quotes from the article.

"Raw milk is an inherently dangerous product, and it really should not be consumed by anyone at any time for any reason," a representative from the FDA tells TIME.

"People should have the option to consume milk the way they want," says Gumpert. Whether it's good for them or not.

Which side of the fence do you sit on. Should we be able to drink raw milk, or is it good that the FDA is there to watch over and protect us?


Sunday, November 28, 2010

We have a cow in our backyard

I'm not sure where she came from, but maybe the owners will let us put a fence around her and keep her, you think?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Be Grateful

At dinner Michael and I were discussing our Home Warranty which was supposed to cover the full cost of pumping the septic tank, but now they are saying they can only cover about 1/6 of the cost. I admit that I was complaining, when Reece (10 yo) started lecturing me that I need to be grateful that we were going to get "something" and it is better than "nothing." It sounded a lot like some similar lectures I had given him.

It made me think about how I expect my kids to be grateful for everything THEY have, because they are pretty darn lucky! But, what about myself? Do I really hold myself to the same standard? I'm pretty darn lucky too! When the kids complain that they only get a little bit of ice cream and I lecture them on being grateful they get "something" instead of "nothing", isn't it very similar to the complaint that I had with the Home Warranty?

I know that I definitely take for granted most everything that I have been blessed with. We live in a free country, we have a home, food, clothing, a vehicle, good health, all of which I take for granted on a daily basis. I have a Father in Heaven who loves me and has blessed me with talents (you do too!) I am indeed grateful for a wonderful family and great friends.

Today as I was working on the house, I was thinking about when we lived in the apartment. Michael and I would lay in bed and think about our future homestead. At the time, it seemed like if we could only get a bigger house on an acre, our lives would be perfect and we would finally find perfect peace and happiness. Don't get me wrong, I really love it here,  I love my new house, and I am extremely grateful to have it. But, it hasn't changed me or how happy I am. It is a house. It is a thing. Things don't bring happiness. Things bring comfort, amusement, or fun, but they don't bring true happiness or joy. That joy comes from serving others, it comes from living a good honest life, being grateful for what you have, from making goals and working towards them, true joy comes from within.

This Thanksgiving holiday, be grateful for the "somethings" that you do have, whatever they may be.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wild Rice Soup Recipe

Claudia over at Get well. Live well. Be well sent us this wild rice soup recipe. Not only does it look and sound delicious, it is really good for you! I can't wait to try it. 

Minnesota Creamy Wild Rice Soup

1/4 cup sprouted wheat flour
1/2 chopped onion
1/2 cup raw or organic butter
3 (+) cups water with 1 tsp salt
(or use 3 cups chicken broth)
1 cup wild rice, cooked
1 cup brown rice, cooked
1 cup diced ham
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)
2 cups raw milk
salt to taste
pepper to taste
snipped parsley (optional)

Saute onion and butter until onions become tender. Whisk in flour. Continue whisking as it simmers for a few minutes. Add water (or broth) and 1 tsp salt. Allow to cook until it simmers - it will thicken as you stir it. Add ham, rice, carrots, almonds, extra salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Lastly, add milk and parsley and heat to serving temperature.

What a wonderful creamy soup!

Send your favorite soup recipe to backyardfarmingblog@gmail.com

Monday, November 22, 2010

Stove Top Sweet Potatoes

If you are like us at thanksgiving, your oven is the most popular appliance in your kitchen and it is like the popular girl at a dance. Everyone wants a dance with her but there might be too many suitors and too little time for everyone to get there dance in. That is why I came up with the following sweet potato recipe that can be cooked in a skillet or a frying pan on your stove top. Before giving you this simple recipe let me tell you some Thanksgiving rules that I hold to be self evident. You may or may not agree with me.

1. It is good to eat healthy and fresh but during Thanksgiving, health and freshness take a back seat to convenience and a little indulgence.
2. Turkey is the low man on the totem pole for thanksgiving foods. The most important Thanksgiving foods are in the following order; sweet potatoes/yams, stuffing, gravy, pies, potatoes, drinks, salads, veggies, casseroles, turkey.
3. The people you celebrate thanksgiving with are even more important than the food.
4. If you aren't watching the Lions lose a football game, it's not Thanksgiving.
5. Companies (other than retailers) that make people work on the Friday after thanksgiving need to be boycotted.

That being said here is my simple stove top recipe for sweet potatoes.


4-5 medium sweet potatoes/yams
1 15 oz can sliced apricots
1 cup brown sugar
olive oil
Candied Pecans

Add the can of apricots with juice to a small saucepan with 1 cup brown sugar. Stir until the brown sugar dissolves. Simmer on medium low heat. You will need to let it cook for a while as we want it to reduce and make a sticky glaze for the sweet potatoes. While the apricots are cooking cube the sweet potatoes. Heat skillet to medium high. Add a little olive oil to skillet. Add cubed sweet potatoes to pan and fry turning periodically. The potatoes should start to brown. Add Salt to potatoes. Once they are fork tender transfer them to a serving dish. Once the apricot has reduced to a syrup pour it on top of the sweet potatoes and stir. Add chopped candied pecans and stir them in.

I personally love any type of sweet potato including the mega desserty casseroles that have more sugar and marshmallows than sweet potatoes. I know that this recipe isn't the healthiest but it is a nice compromise between plain sweet potatoes and the marshmallow concoctions that make my eyes hurt because they are so sweet. My wife and kids rave about these every time we have them. The sweet, tangy apricot glaze really goes well with the smoky, salty sweet potatoes. I know this recipe sounds really basic but the flavors are really complex and the best thing is that you don't have to use the oven.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving


Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Johnson Tulip Festival

I LOVE tulips. Love them LOVE THEM.

I love that they come up in the early spring after a long colorless winter. When I see the tulips, it gets me excited for the months ahead I will be spending in the garden. 

I decided that I wasn't going to wait a year to plant my bulbs. I was determined to get them in this year. 

I have grand plans for my own Johnson tulip festival in my own yard. Maybe something like this:

Maybe this will help you visualize what I'm going for.
I'm not ready to tackle this entire area yet, so I decided to start a little smaller.
So I started with this flower bed:

From these pictures, it appears that Reece is the only one doing the work. I think he planned it that way and hopped into each picture with a tool. 

We pulled the weeds, turned the soil, then brought in some top soil and compost. 
Since I'm a little late in the game this year, all the bulbs were 75% off, SCORE!  I've bought bulbs this late in the year before because they were discounted and they came up just fine. 

It is always so hard to gauge how many bulbs you need. I thought 130 bulbs would be enough to fill this flower bed and have some left over for another area, but I was wrong. Luckily I spaced them all out on the ground (as shown) before I started planting.

Come to find out, bulbs don't grow well in this area. Are my hopes and dreams of eventually having the Johnson' Tulip Festival going to be crushed???

The soil is mostly clay and needs a lot of amending. Any suggestions and tips would be appreciated!


Friday, November 19, 2010

It never fails

It never fails! A sunset like this can lift my spirits when I start to get down because....
 most my walls either look like this or look like they have been puked on.
because the 640 sq. ft. of slate tile that was supposed to take 4 days, actually took 4 weeks, 1256 trips to Home Depot and 20 boxes of returned (broken) tiles.
 (We laid our last piece of tile...can I hear a hallelujah! Come on, don't be shy, let's hear it)
Maybe I get down because the sectional and ottoman set we ordered are actually different colors.
or because I have a week worth of painting to finish, but I'm finding it difficult to find the time.

This sunset never fails, it always has the ability to lift my spirits. I'm so grateful to have so much beauty in this world!
What is able to lift your spirits?


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Building a Cold Frame

This year we missed out on the summers growing season because we were in an apartment. We are going to build a cold frame in hopes of being able to grow through the rest of the fall and into the winter. Come spring, we will be able to use the cold frame to start seeds and harden off little seedlings.

A cold frame is kind of like a mini greenhouse. It is low to the ground with a wooden base and a glass top. It is used to protect plants from cold weather. The glass top allows heat to get into the structure and prevents it from escaping.

Isn't this one beautiful? Image from Sunset.com '    

Ours will look a little more like this

We checked the classifieds and found a used window for $35, it is about 2'x5'.
(it is covered in frost)

This is where we will clear out to place our cold frames. It is best if you place it close to an existing structure (for warmth) on the south side (for the best sunlight). 


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Our Homeschool Room...for now

Our homeschool room is FAR from being finished, but I am just so grateful to have a room dedicated to schooling the kids. In our last home, the school work was stored in the basement, and we did all the work on the top floor. We were constantly going up and down the stairs to get curriculum, and that gets old real quick. All work was done at the kitchen table, which worked well, but would get tricky if we were working on a project and it was time for lunch.  

Our home has a formal living room and a formal dinning room. We chose to make the formal living room into the homeschool room. We were going to use the formal dinning room instead, but it is smaller, doesn't have much natural light, and the view of the street is blocked. Since a large portion of our day is spent in the school room, I thought it was only natural for us to use the better room. 

The formal dinning room will be used as the formal living room.

What do you love about your homeschool room or office?


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mother Of All First Aid Kits

For the ease and comfort of all the wonderful Backyard Farming readers out there, I put together a little
PDF  of The Mother of All First Aid Kits. That way you can print it off and take it to the grocery store with you, fun huh?

The link should work now!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Karina's Butternut Squash Soup

Karina sent us her version of Butternut Squash Soup. I can't wait to try it!

My butternut squash soup recipe in a crock pot is super easy and everyone loves it.

2 T. marg or butter
1 med. onion, chopped
1 butternut squash (2 lbs.)
2 cups water
1/2 t. dried marjoram leaves
1/4 t. pepper
1/8 t. cayenne
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 (8-oz) pkg. cream cheese (I use less)
1-lb bag of cooked, mixed broccoli/cauliflower or veggies of choice

Cook onion in butter until crisp-tender.

Peel the squash and chop it up. Mix everything in crock pot except cream cheese. Cook low heat 6 to 8hours until squash is tender.

Put mixture in food processor or blender until smooth. Return to crock pot, add cream cheese, and whisk the soup until smooth. Dump in the cooked veggies.

So easy! 

Send us your soup recipe and we will post it here on Backyard farming. 
Email it to backyardfarmingblog@gmail.com

Friday, November 12, 2010

New Layers!

There is not much in this world more exciting than a new flock of layers. The baby chicks are so cute.  The juveniles are a little ugly as feathers begin to appear, but as they completely feather out they transform into beautiful hens. In the past I have always raised Rhode Island crosses for their prolific egg production. But I am thrilled with the batch we got three weeks ago – 3 Araucanas, 3 Leghorns, 2 Buff Orpingtons, 2 Black Australorps, and 2 Delawares. There is a striking contrast between the breeds. It is a gorgeous flock.  By Easter they will be laying white, brown, and greenish-blue eggs.  If you don’t have layers, I encourage you to improve the quality of your life by getting some. Put a small hen house and run in your back yard.  Buy a few layer chicks. In a few short months you will be eating backyard farm fresh eggs. Feed your hens your table scraps and compost the litter into fertilizer for your garden. They are a great educational project for your children.



Thursday, November 11, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup Backyard Farming Style

I don't think I appreciated it as a child, when my Dad would make homemade chicken noodle soup, or my Grandma made her hamburger soup with shredded carrots. I always felt like soup was an adults way of tricking kids into eating stuff that we normally wouldn't eat. I would skip out on the soup and fill up on bread.

As I have grown up and my palate has grown more refined I have come to appreciate soups and stews. As the winter months approaches, I love adding root vegetables and squash to yummy broths. I love the earthy flavors they provide, and the fact that root vegetables and squash last through the winter if they are in a cool place, means their soups can warm us up throughout the cold months. Marisa loves butternut squash soup so I make it for her a couple of times a year. This recipe will give you a soup with a nice clean butternut taste.

Butternut Squash Soup

2 medium to large butternut squash
Olive Oil
4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 medium onions sliced
6 garlic cloves sliced
2 cups cream
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 Tablespoons Honey
Salt to Taste
Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400
Halve butternut squash and bake in a baking dish or on cookie sheet for 40 to 50 minutes until squash is fork tender.
Add olive oil to saucepan over medium heat
Add onion and garlic to saucepan and cook until onions begin to caramelize
Add Chicken Broth, Squash, nutmeg, honey, salt, pepper
Simmer for 15 minutes
Add Cream and then lend with an immersion blender or a food processor until completely smooth.

I like a little texture in my soup so I toast shelled pumpkin seeds in a frying pan and add them as a garnish. Shelled pumpkin seeds can be found in most Latin markets and are labeled as pepitas. If you can't find pepitas you can also add croutons.

This soup has a few variations that I like to play with. Marisa likes the soup when it is sweeter so I add a few tablespoons extra of honey for her. If you want the soup more savory, you can exclude the honey all together.

Another variation that I like is to replace the nutmeg with curry powder and the cream with coconut milk which gives it more of an Indian slant.

I have other soup recipes to share in the future but as we continually state at Backyard Farming, we like to learn from all of you.

If you have a favorite soup recipe that you would like to send us with an article or pictures we will post it them on our website. Send them in. I am excited to try some of your recipes as well.

Email your soup recipes to backyardfarmingblog@gmail.com



We want to thank all who have served and all who are currently serving in the military!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Great Outdoors-Turning Princesses Into Tomboys

My daughter Maya (7 years old) is was a girly girl.  She can spend a half hour in the mirror doing her hair, she loves dressing up, putting on make-up, and all other girlish activities.

Since we have moved here, I have seen a whole other side of Maya I haven't really seen before.

The other day Mason (5 years old) came running in the house smiling from ear to ear exclaiming that he had "peed on a tree". I followed up with, "Good job! Just make sure that you don't do that in the front yard, and be sure nobody else is around."

Maya came slowly waddling in the house just after with the bottom of her pants completely wet. After inquiring about what had happened, she explained that she didn't bend over far enough. I had to explain that I understand it isn't fair that boys get to pee outside, but she isn't allowed to!

***The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. It reminds me of 4 hours I spent in Saturday detention in the 8th grade, for doing something very similar, only I did it on school grounds.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Mother of All First Aid Kits - week 8 (final week)

It's over people! If you have been diligently working towards building your very own Mother of All First Aid Kits....this is your very last thing to buy! Well, maybe. There are a few things that I am going to add to mine, that may not apply to everyone (children/baby Tylenol). Doesn't if feel great to be prepared?

If you have made one, you know how easy it can be, so go ahead and make one for each car and one for the house. What the heck, make one for your RV and your boat too. I will make one for my imaginary boat/RV.

If you missed out and want to make your very own Mother of All First Aid Kits, I will make it easy on you and give you those links: week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4, week 5, week 6, week 7.

Scissors- $6.88 (found in the makeup section)
1 yard white fabric - $1.97 (fabric section)
The fabric could be used to make a sling or to be cut into strips to wrap a large bleeding wound.

Total - $8.85

Friday, November 5, 2010

How to Make Herbal Tinctures

If you don't know what a tincture is, don't be ashamed. I just learned last year. But, now that I do know, I am taking advantage of that knowledge and using in our home.

In my own words, a tincture is an alcohol or glycerin based concoction that has been infused with all the goodness from an herb.

Why would you use a tincture?
  • Like my definition says, it has all the essence (goodness) of the herb
  • They are more powerful and last longer than dried herbs
  • You get to control the quality of what is being made
  • It is inexpensive (if you make your own)
  • It is difficult to overdose on herbs
  • With herbs you don't get the same type of side effects you get with medication
  • It is a quick easy way to get the healing power of plants
How to make a tincture

You will need:
1 cup distilled water
1 cup glycerin
1/2 cup cut herb of your choice (you can even mix herbs to make your own blend)
1 mason jar with lid and ring
Hydrogen Peroxide in a spray bottle
Stainless steal strainer
Stainless steal bowl
2 weeks worth of patience

To start, you will want to make sure everything is clean, I wash all my materials, then I spray everything down with 3% hydrogen peroxide (the same stuff you should have in your Mother of All First Aid Kits)

To mix the tincture you will use 1 cup glycerin, 1 cup distilled water, and 1/2 cup herb. I like this amount because it fits nicely into a mason jar and it is an easy amount to work with. As long as you use the same proportions you could make gallons at a time if you would like. 

Mix your ingredients in your mason jar, put the lid on and give it a good shake. Easy, huh? Give it a good shake each day for 2 weeks.  

Why distilled water? Well, it has NOTHING else in it, so it is a hungry water, anxious to soak up all that goodness from the herb.

Why glycerin instead of alcohol? My children are going to be using these as well, and glycerin has a milder/sweeter taste, giving them more appeal than alcohol. I purchased my glycerin here.

After 2 weeks
Look at the difference in color from when it was first mixed and 2 weeks later.

We are ready to strain. Spray your bowl and strainer with hydrogen peroxide. 
I like to wipe up the extra with a paper towel.

Put the strainer over the bowl and cover the strainer with cheesecloth, let is sit and drain for a bit.

With clean hands squeeze out the rest.

You should be left with something that looks kind of like this.

You could store your tincture in the mason jar, but amber jars are going to be the best.
Make sure you label the tincture and include the date it was made.

I take about 1 ml, 20 drops, or about 1/2 tsp 3 times per day under my tongue. There have been times where I have craved more of a particular tincture, every time I crave it, I increase my dosage or the frequency for a couple days. I know that it is my body's way of telling me it needs the nutrients from that herb. 

If you have a child that doesn't like the taste of it, you could try adding it to water or juice.