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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Narrowing Down a Name for Jane Doe

Seriously, that was so hard to choose, I just had to pick 5 names instead of 3. You guys all had such great names for Jane Doe, but with much debate we were able to narrow it down to these 5 names:

Ruby Mae
Flip Flop
Pinky Gladous Gutsman

Now, go vote for your favorite in the sidebar on the right! 

If your name is chosen, you will be the winner of this super fun apron!
The apron is donated by traditionallyunique
Go check out the rest of her stuff, it is super cute too.
Look....napkins to match the apron. So fun!
 Have you voted yet?
I know, it is hard to choose a favorite. 
Voting will end Thursday. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Chicken Tushies

This video may make you vomit a little in your mouth. If you have a weak disposition toward seeing naked chicken tushies, please do not watch!

We only had to check their bums for the first week.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chick Set Up

This is our chick set up, it isn't the only way or even the best way to do it, but it is how we do it.

 Don't judge. We still don't have our baseboards put back on and yes, those are Christmas wreaths on the windows! In my own defense they are outside, I will need a ladder to remove them,  and there is a huge pile of snow under the windows.

We have the girls in the school room up on a bench to make it easier to get into them, but they would do just fine on the ground as well.

 Things you will need:
  • Something to keep them contained. We use a rabbit hutch, but a cardboard box with wood shavings in the bottom will work just fine. Don't invest in something elaborate, they will soon outgrow this.
  • Heat. Chicks need to be kept quite warm, a heat lamp is a great option, we have a 250 watt bulb.  If they are too cold, they will huddle together right under the lamp, you will know you need to add more heat.  If they are too warm they will get as far away from the lamp as possible, which means it is time to raise the lamp up. If they are just right, they will scamper all over the area happily.
  • Fresh food. We are currently just using a plastic bowl.  You will need to purchase chick starter. Note: most chick starters have antibiotics in the feed, so if you do not want antibiotics, make sure you check the packaging.
  • Fresh water: I really like the plastic waterer we have (in the right hand corner of the cage) it was just a few dollars and gives them a good supply of water.
  • Love: of course! I like to have my girls well socialized and comfortable being handled. We get the girls out as often as we can. 
  • Roost (optional): Just for fun, we like to see the girls practicing on their roost. We just use a wooden dowel through the bars of the cage.
  • Entertainment: Also optional. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Jane Doe Needs a Name

It's time to play NAME THAT CHICK. 
Baby Madelyn is unable to name her baby chick (since she doesn't talk) and we want your help! 

Everyone is invited to play and submit as many names as you would like.  Just leave a comment with the names you feel best personifies this little cutie. 

She will look something like this full grown. 
We will choose our 3 favorite names, from there we will have a vote.  If your name is chosen you will receive a fantastic prize...well, I can't promise it will be fantastic because I haven't come up with a prize yet. But, there will be a prize, and it is just fun to play.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Meet the New Girls

Last Friday we got the new girls, and they are just so cute. In the past we have waited until April or May to get baby chicks, but then we don't end up getting eggs until August (because it takes about 4 months for them to mature enough and start laying). We decided to get a head start this year. 
The Araucanas
(from left to right)
Augness, Ben Ten, and Percy Jackson
will lay green or blue eggs

The Black Sexlinks
Mrs. Featherbottom-red beak
Jane Doe-black beak
will lay brown eggs, chosen because they are exceptional egg layers

The Barred Rock
Basil- she is my chicken, she is so petite and cute with a little patch of white on top of her head
She will lay brown eggs and I chose her because I love the look of them when they are full grown. 

Do you have chickens, are you going to get chickens this year, still debating, or is it out of the question?


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Winter morning rituals on a backyard farm

By Uncle Dale

At 6:00 a.m. the alarm rings. I am a morning person so I don’t feel the anguish that night owls understandably feel. Nevertheless, our wood heated house is chilly and it takes a moment to summon the courage to pull off the covers. I roll out of bed, pray, dress, and start to do the chores. I stir the bright orange coals in the wood stove and stoke it with logs for the day’s heat. They burst into flames. I set the air intake and damper. 

Dixie, our “Antietam Glen Frisbee Retriever”, anxiously meets me at the door with the Frisbee in her mouth. But she will have to wait until after I feed the animals. I throw on my tattered, muddied and bloodied LL Bean field coat, Muck boots, and work gloves. Outside it is dark. The frigid air stings my face but it’s invigorating. The horses snort and stomp when they hear me coming. As I walk down to the barn, the waning gibbous moon shining on the snow lights my path so I put my flashlight in my pocket. In the feed room, I put two scoops of pellets and a scoop of hay cubes in bucket for Peaches, our old Hackney pony. Rebel, our Appaloosa, is an easy keeper so he just gets a bale of hay. I fill the barn cat’s dish full of food. The watering trough is still ½ full so I head for the chicken coop. Our new flock of layers seem perturbed when I interrupt their roosting but they take interest when I empty a bucket of table scraps and top off their feed and water. They are not laying eggs yet. We are in one of those rare intervals when we are eating store bought eggs. 

I look up at the house and see lights click on as LeAnn and the boys are getting up. The sky starts to lighten a bit so now it is time for Dixie. She is rewarded one piece of dog biscuit from my pocket after each Frisbee retrieval. But more often than not she gets two pieces for a catch in mid-air.  After ten minutes and two dozen throws, she tires and I head for the house and a cup of hot chocolate.
I open the door and the heat from the wood stove is a welcome relief. The aroma of bacon and eggs, complements of LeAnn, fires up my metabolism.  Mark, our highschooler, and Nathan, our middleschooler, smell breakfast and clomp down the stairs from their bedrooms.  The front door bursts open as six other rambunctious highschoolers arrive for breakfast and early morning seminary. We all chat through breakfast and then head down to the basement family room for religious studies that LeAnn and I facilitate each weekday morning. 

I love this morning crescendo of rituals. 

Why am I not a good father and teach Mark and Nathan the discipline to do the morning chores? I enjoy the chores too much to give up. But I am not worried. My four older children rarely did early morning chores (that’s not what they remember) and all turned out motivated and ambitious.
What enjoyment do you get from your winter morning rituals?

~Uncle Dale

Friday, January 21, 2011


If you have read our blog for a while, you know that we are big fans of composting as it reduces waste, and gives added benefits to our gardens. The Mother Nature Network has an article that talks about the things you should never compost. Check out the article. I don't know that I agree with everything on the list but it's good to get someone else's view on what we shouldn't compost. Here is their list.
Bread products: This includes cakes, pasta and most baked goods. Put any of these items in your compost pile, and you've rolled out the welcome mat for unwanted pests.
Cooking oil: Smells like food to animal and insect visitors. It can also upset the compost's moisture balance.
Diseased plants: Trash them, instead. You don't want to transfer fungal or bacterial problems to whatever ends up growing in your finished compost.
Heavily coated or printed paper: This is a long list, including magazines, catalogs, printed cards and most printed or metallic wrapping paper. Foils don't break down, and you don't need a bunch of exotic printing chemicals in your compost.
Human or animal feces: Too much of a health risk. This includes kitty litter. Waste and bedding from non-carnivorous pets should be fine.
Meat products: This includes bones, blood, fish and animal fats. Another pest magnet.
Milk products: Refrain from composting milk, cheese, yogurt and cream. While they'll certainly degrade, they are attractive to pests.
Rice: Cooked rice is unusually fertile breeding ground for the kinds of bacteria that you don't want in your pile. Raw rice attracts varmints.
Sawdust: So tempting. But unless you know the wood it came from was untreated, stay away.
Stubborn garden plants: Dandelions, ivy and kudzu are examples of plants or weeds which will probably regard your compost heap as a great place to grow, rather than decompose.
Used personal products: Tampons, diapers and items soiled in human blood or fluids are a health risk.
Walnuts: These contain juglone, a natural aromatic compound toxic to some plants.

Some of these items make sense. I wasn't aware of the dangers of Walnuts for other plants. I don't agree with the philosophy of of making a broad statement that we should not compost bread just because it might attract pests. It might be more acceptable to use bread if your compost pile is away from the home like ours is.

If you do compost, what do you think of these no no's. If you don't compost, start looking in to whether or not it is feasible for you.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Moment in our Day

Occasionally I remember to stop and look at my life around me. I tend to get so caught up in this or that, that I forget to enjoy the sweet little moments as they happen. Here is just a single moment in my day yesterday. 

Madelyn quietly coloring

Mason playing a numbers game

Maya reading

Reece playing a math game to reinforce his lesson on integers
Everyone was peaceful and happy all at the same moment. In the life of a homeschool mother of young children, it doesn't seem like that happens very often. 

Take a look around you right now, what beauty can you see?


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Asian Salad

Marisa and I attended the Utah County Beekeepers association potluck earlier this month. We thought it would be good to rub shoulders with other beekeepers as we are preparing for our first beehive. I was a little nervous to go to a potluck with beekeepers.

Be honest, what do you think of when you think of beekeepers? A few words that come to my mind are (and I know I am stereotyping) holistic, healthy, vegetarian, natural, earth conscious. So I had to figure out something to take to the potluck that I thought beekeepers would approve of. I found a nice healthy recipe and added honey (since I figured beekeepers don't eat anything without honey.)

I found this recipe for Asian Salad on Food Network. I tweaked it some to fit what we had at home, and came up with this version of it. It was really tasty and Marisa loved it. She has made me make it twice since. Here is my version. I doubled this recipe to get a salad bowl full but if you are feeding 4 or 5 people I don't think you need to double it.


1/2 Cucumber cut into matchsticks
1 14 oz bag Broccoli Slaw ( or 10 oz Broccoli stems cut into matchsticks and 4 oz carrots cut into matchsticks)
1 14 oz can baby corn

3 Tbs Rice Vinegar
1/4 Cup Chopped Cilantro
2 Tbs Soy Sauce
1 Tbs Honey
1 Tbs Sesame Seeds
1 Tbs Grated Ginger
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon grated garlic
1/2 tsp Sriracha Hot sauce

Add Cut baby corn into fourths lengthwise.
Add Corn and veggies to bowl.
In separate bowl mix remaining ingredients.
Pour dressing over veggies immediately prior to serving

I think any crunchy veggie would be good in this salad. One ingredient that I would not omit is the sesame oil. It adds a nice nutty flavor that I don't think you can substitute for. Make sure you don't add the dressing too far ahead of serving as it will soften the vegetables up a little bit and they won't be as crunchy. I am telling you, this is a yummy easy recipe that will go into your long term recipe book. I am excited to have another recipe to use when we have more veggies coming from the garden.


We are all winners

Which is another way of saying...none of us are.

But Mike is the winner of our great $60 CSN gift card giveaway! Here is what he said:

Congratulations. I just found your blog yesterday and am follower #522. With the information I've read so far, I don't know why this isn't 1000 already.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Computer Desk Makeover

I love thrift stores L-O-V-E them. Okay, maybe I don't love them that much, but I really do like them and here is why:
1. I'm frugal.
2. It is good for the environment to reuse instead of buying new.
3. I love the challenge of restoring the beauty in someone's cast off.
4. It is like a treasure hunt.
5. I don't have to dress up to go shopping at the thrift store.

My most recent thrift store makeover came from my need for a computer desk in our family room.  A small desk with some drawers for storage would do the trick and I found this one for $20: 
It's nothing to write home (or blog) about, but I liked the simple design of it and it is sturdy. 

I found a paint color named "basil" and i just had to use it, I'm a sucker for that name. One of my chicks that I get this spring will be named Basil. I also think it would be a really cute baby name, just throwing it out there. I'm getting a little distracted, back on track...here is the finished product.

Now I just need to find a really great dramatic piece for the wall space above. Any suggestions? Oh, and I really need to put the outlet cover back on. Maybe I will head to the thrift store to see if I can find something spectacular.


Saturday, January 15, 2011


We just placed an order for bees, this will be our first year. I'm getting excited, but a little nervous as well. 

Images like this terrify me.

And this last one is just wrong on so many levels! Is he naked under there?!?!?

Are you going to join along side our bee keeping adventure? Do you already have bees? Or maybe you are going to wait and see how it pans out for us. Leave a comment and let us know! 


Thursday, January 13, 2011

It's Time to Order Seeds

If you live in warmer climates, you probably should have your seeds already.  If you are in cooler climates, now is the time to start ordering your seeds. I have two favorite online sites I order my heirloom seeds from, Seed Savers Exchange and Baker Creek, both have tons of great seeds and tons of information. I love to get their catalogs to mark up the pages, circle possible seeds, and browse through it with the kids.  Click on the links to order your catalog!

Leave a comment about where you like to buy your seeds!

Want to know a little bit more about why we like heirloom seeds? Click on this link for Heirlooms 101.

Readers Suggested Seed Companies:
David DOES NOT suggest Walmart
Katie ordered her potatoes from Maine Potato Lady


Monday, January 10, 2011


I can't believe it!

We made it to 500 followers! It sounds so cheesy, but I really mean it when I say that I am so grateful for each of you. You keep us going, give us hope that we are doing something worthwhile, and that maybe just maybe we are helping someone get started with their own backyard farm. 
CSN is helping us celebrate by giving away a $60 gift card to any one of their 200+ online stores!

If I won, I would get a laptop messenger bag.
And because they are so cute, I may not even put a laptop in it, I may carry it around like a purse. Look at me already pretending like I  have one. I forgot, this is a giveaway for our lovely followers/readers, not for me. 

Check out these cute bags: 

There are so many other cute ones too, oh and cool masculine ones for the guys too.
This giveaway is limited to U.S. and Canadian readers only. Giveaway closes Sunday January 16th at midnight Mountain Time.

To enter, just leave a comment, easy shmeasy!

Oh, and if you aren't a follower, don't hesitate to become one! 


1 spot left!

I have one spot left in the photography workshop I teach. It is this Saturday, so if you want to learn how to use your digital SLR, and come hang out with me here at the backyard farm, sign up! It is only $200 and completely worth it! For more information, click here

Jamie's before/after:
(workshop does not make your kids cry)


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Farm House Dining

Apartment Therapy just did a post on Farm House dining, I  drooled all over the keyboard. I love everything about this picture.

 Then I remembered that I have been promising people left and right for the last couple months that I would post updated pictures of my house. I have been putting it off because it isn't "finished". Then when I thought about it, I realized that one's house is never perfectly finished and exactly how they want it. Maybe some of you have that, but I know I never will. There is always something to be changed or something you are waiting to swap out. So without further adieu here is our farmhouse dining, or our interpretation of it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

What’s for dinner?

Here at backyard farming, we take on all kinds of food issues. Organic food is a staple of our discussions. We jumped right into the raw milk debate. We have parleyed vegetarianism and industrial agriculture. Here is another topic which will fire up opinions – horse meat; it’s what’s for dinner. See “Making a Meal of Mustang

My first exposure to horse meat was a little unnerving. I went to a meat market in Almaty, Kazakhstan. There, hanging next to the beef, sheep, and goat carcasses were carcasses that I had not seen before. The color was deeper red, almost purplish, with yellow fat. It took me few seconds to realize they were horse carcasses. It was confirmed as I looked on a table to see skinned heads of the various species, including horses. That was almost shocking. The heads of animals are used for various dishes.

Horse meat is a bit of a luxury in Kazakhstan. The feed conversion is less efficient for horses than other species, consequently it is more expensive. Wealthy people eat younger horses raised for meat purposes. But most people eat less expensive old horses that are harvested. To Kazakhs, it seems a waste to have horses die without utilizing them. After all, they are just livestock. I ate horse meat and drank mare’s milk. I didn’t care for either. Some might dismiss Kazakhstan as an underdeveloped food culture. Well that cannot be said for Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and other European countries where horse meat is common, most notably the king of cuisine – France.
So what is the problem with horse meat in the United States? Below is a picture of my daughter, Kristie, jumping her horse Diamond, the best horse we have had on our farm. We loved him and I was sorry when she sold him to another rider to pay for college. I can’t imagine slaughtering him for meat.

“That’s the poetry! Agnes. That’s poetry!”  

Mr. Pollard to Mrs. Pollard as they watch their son canter a horse in the movie “Seabiscuit”.
We have a very old pony named Peaches that needs to be put down soon but I would never consider eating her. Yet we have a huge problem of maintaining old horses in the United States. They are basically worthless but expensive to board and feed. Very few opponents to horse slaughter are willing to bear the burden of their upkeep. They brush off the problem by arguing that people who use and enjoy younger horses should be willing to keep them in their old age. That’s what we are doing at Antietam Glen because they are our pets. But I can’t argue that to other horsemen, particularly those who view horses as livestock and not pets. I will even admit that we have had a few horses pass through our farm that I would not be opposed to harvesting. 

Some horses are slaughtered in the U.S. Some of the meat goes for animal feed such as for zoos. Most of the meat is exported to Europe since it is illegal for human consumption in some states and frowned on in all. Some U.S. horses are sold and transported to other countries for slaughter.  Laws on horse slaughter vary by state. Federal bills on the issue have been introduced but not passed.
I would ask our readers to thoughtfully consider all sides of the issue before drawing your conclusions, particularly if you do not have extensive experience with horses. The issues are never as clear as we would like them to be.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Intersted in Bees?

If you are interested in getting started with bees, you may want to look into joining a Bee Keepers Association. The Utah County Association is only $12 per household per year.  We will be joining the association (you don't have to be a Utah County resident to join), and will be attending the pot luck dinner tomorrow night. Will we see any of you there?
The Utah County Bee Keepers Association has all sorts of great FREE information on beekeeping, click here to check it out.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas Haul Part IV- Indoor Garden Box

This indoor garden box was a gift to ourselves. Due to circumstances out of our control with our house (the poo tank being located under our sidewalk), we had to put our dreams of building a cold storage on the back burner for a while.  I'm not one to give up on my dreams of home grown food during the winter, I was able to find this solution. Luckily they were willing to trade photography work in exchange for this grow box, otherwise I wouldn't have one.