Up With the Chickens

Raising children and chickens on a little buffalo farm

Sexing…not nearly as fun as it sounds…

A few weeks ago I posted about making baby rabbits. I said I’d post photos of our newest litter as soon as they got cute enough to be photo-worthy. Now they are ridiculously adorable. In fact they have been adorably hopping around the hutch for a couple of weeks. They are actually ready to leave the nest, so we are in the process of finding them new homes. Some friends of ours have asked for two. Before they choose which two they want, we have to know which ones are boys and which are girls – lest of our friends take two and end up with ten.

The process of determining the sex of a rabbit is called (simply enough) sexing. To do this, you just turn the little fellas (or gals) over and look. Sounds easy enough, but little rabbit parts can be…well, really little.

With our first couple of litters we took them to a rabbit breeder to have them sexed. But now, The Littles and I are trying to do it ourselves. After all, how can we call ourselves real farmers if we farm out something as simple as determining the gender of our own livestock.  I haven’t been farming long, but that seems like a pretty basic skill. So, we are going to give it a shot.  If we are wrong… well, let’s just hope our friends are forgiving.

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Summer is Saved!….Introducing the Low Cal Margarita!

Have I mentioned  that I love Margaritas? Cause I do. I love margaritas. My mother loves margaritas. My grandmother before her loved margaritas. To me they are all that is fabulous about summer. Margaritas are cool, delicious, fun, and the perfect refreshment on a hot day by the pool or on the river. Margaritas are the perfect compliment to almost any summer food. They are great at a cook out, with chips and salsa, with chocolate chip cookies (perhaps a tradition unique to our family), or with more margaritas…

Unfortunately, there is one summer essential that does not go well with the margarita – the swim suit. Like so many of my favorite things, margaritas are loaded with calories. Perhaps that is God’s way of keeping us from having too many. In any case, due to the 10 or so stress pounds (okay ice-cream pounds) I’ve put on since last summer, I have been desperate to find a lower calorie alternative to my favorite summer beverage.  

Ta da!… I believe I’ve found it!

I haven’t experimented with making these frozen or in a punch quantity, but I will definitely be giving it a try. In the meantime, for single serving, follow these directions – well, more like suggestions.

In a martini shaker  or glass mix
1 shot of  good tequilla
a splash of orange juice
Diet 7Up
The juice from 1/2 a lime

Mix well and pour over ice. Enjoy with your favorite summer activity – unless it involves operating heavy machinery.

Saint Arnold of Metz, patron saint of brewers said, “From man’s sweat and God’s love, beer came into the world.” I think the same can be said for margaritas.  They are one of life’s little gifts and pleasures. Now I hope I can enjoy them along with one of life’s other great pleasures – not being too fat to wear my swimsuit.  Cheers!

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Souped Up Recipe…



I know it’s obnoxious and a bit pretentious, but every time I share a recipe that is not totally from scratch, I feel I have to preface it by saying something like, “I don’t usually use canned soup, but…”

I don’t know why I do this. Well, yes I do. Pride. I take inordinate pride in not using canned soups or box mixes. But I do use them. Not often – but sometimes. And when I do, I try to hide it. Or I apologize for it . Or I make an excuse for it. Or I offer too much explanation as to why I broke down and used the canned stuff just this once. Well, this time will be no exception. Here’s what happened:

We joined a CSA this summer. Perhaps you remember CSAs from my earlier post ten-baby-steps-to-natural-living . Anyway, one of our selections this week was kale. Hmmmm? What to do with kale? I tried kale chips a few months ago – back when they were all the rage. Blech! Contrary to numerous Facebooks posts, kale chips are NOT the new Pringle.   Anyway, I googled kale recipes, but  I didn’t have the right ingredients for any of the recipes I found, so in the end, I did what I often do – I made up my own.

My own kale soup recipe relies on a Campbell’s 100% natural, no MSG, no preservatives, two servings of vegetables in every can, tomato soup. (See how I did that – I can’t just say “canned soup” I have to clarify that I at least use healthy, 100% natural canned soup).  I happened to have this canned soup on hand, because I recently discovered The Littles like tomato soup.  Since I’ve never made tomato soup, I bought the canned stuff to tide them over until I learned to make it from scratch (eventually someday). I also keep emergency chicken noodle soup on hand even though I do make a really delicious chicken noodle soup.  This is in case I get sick and need chicken noodle soup but I’m too sick to make it.  Anyway, that’s beside the point, but I’m just pointing out that there is some justification for having canned soup in one’s pantry.  Anyway….

  • Sautee 2 cups kale and one chopped onion in bacon grease and/or olive oil.
  • Add about a cup of chick stock. Cook until the liquid in nearly gone.
  • Add 3 or so cloves of minced garlic
  • Puree this mixture with 2 cans Northern white beans (drained and rinsed)
  • Add the kale/bean mixture to four large cans of Campbell’s Select Harvest Tomato Basil Soup
  • Heat thoroughly
  • Enjoy with a gooey grilled cheese sandwich on crunchy bread!
Easy and Delicious and Very Healthy!  No apologies.

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Do you Pinterest?…

I’m sure you do. Who doesn’t? Like so many things on the Internet, Pinterest is a double-edged sword.  A blessing and a curse! It is, of course, an incredible time waster. I’ve spent way too much time pinning recipes that I haven’t yet tried – the key word, however, is “yet.”  My goal this summer is to try one or two new Pinterest recipes each week.  Another goal of mine is to get organized.  In order to kill two goals with one stone,  I am organizing my Pinterest recipes. Clever, no? Of course there is a nagging voice in the back of my mind telling me that there is a better use of my time than re-pinning recipes I’ve already pinned.  But I shut that voice up with a fabulous new cookie, casserole, or soup from one of my many boards.

So what I have done is create a new Pinterest board to keep track recipes I’ve made.  When I try a new recipe, I will pin it to this new board along with comments on how I liked it and what, if any, substitutions or additions I made to the original.  I know what you’re thinking.  “How clever!”  A way to make pinning even more productive. Yes, well, it was this or clean out the linen closet. If I’ve got to organize something, I’ll start with my pins. And it has been fun trying all these new recipes – some are definitely better than others.

Take a look at stuff-i-ve-pinned-and-actually-tried and check back weekly to see which recipes are worth trying yourself.  Happy Pinning!

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Eggs ala Easy….

I’m not a big fan of microwave cooking, but when I saw this recipe, I couldn’t resist trying it. I go for a walk every morning before the kids wakeup. Sometimes, my Little Blessings wake up and get hungry before I get back. Since The Bigs (well, Mary Michael anyway – Jack’s summer job has him out the door by 7:30) is inclined to sleep until 9:00 or 10:00, this leaves The Littles to fend for themselves. Now, I’m not above leaving a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter on the counter and letting them have at it. But since we are chicken farmers, and since we have an abundance of eggs, I also like to push eggs for breakfast (and lunch and dinner). This recipe allows The Littles to have hot, cheesy scrambled eggs for breakfast without turning on the stove – or bugging me.  It’s a win win!

In a coffee mug mix two eggs and two tablespoons of milk. Microwave on high for 45 seconds. Stir then cook for another 30-45 seconds until the eggs are set. Sprinkle with cheese, salt, and pepper. Enjoy!

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Mommy’s Favorite…

Every year on Mothers Day, my children are forced to battle it out for the title of  Mommy’s Favorite.  That might sound a little twisted, but it is actually really fun. Well, at least it’s fun for me, and it’s my day, so everyone has to do what I want.  Mommy Trivia!  In the spirit of this wonderful holiday dedicated to the appreciation of mothers, I will pit child against child in a test of their love for (or at least their knowledge of) me.  The older they get the more difficult it is to come up with questions, but there are still a lot of things my kiddos don’t know about me. Here are this years’s questions.

1.  What is Mommy’s current favorite song?

2.  If Mommy could only eat one dessert for the rest of her life what would it be?

3. What is my dream dog?

4.  What color were my bride’s maids dresses?

5. What was my major in college?

6. Name one place I worked in high school.

7. Name three of my high school best friends.

8.  What was the name of my college sorority?

9.  Where did Daddy and I go on our first date?

10. If I have another baby boy, what am I naming him?

Good luck to all participates.  May the best child win!


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Sharing My Dreams…

Yesterday Cat and I sat by the river tossing pebbles in the water and enjoying God’s creation.  The sun seemed to have healing properties – melting away all my stress and baking out all my impurities.  Clearly Cat sensed the magic of the moment. Eager to make the most of our time together and strengthen our mother/daughter bond, she turned to be with her enormous, questioning blue eyes and angelic face and asked, “Mommy, what would you do, if you knew you could not fail?”  My answer was honest and immediate, “Buy a lottery ticket.”

Perhaps this wasn’t my finest parenting moment.

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If I Were the Jealous Type….

I love my life.  What’s not to love?  I’ve got a great husband, four amazing children, a job I enjoy, and a beautiful farm.  Life is good.  And yet, now and then I look at the lives of other women, and I can’t help thinking, “Wow, she’s really got it good!” or “Why can’t I be more like her.”  It’s not that I’m jealous, of course.  But IF I were the jealous type, these are the women who would be at the top of my Green List – and by green I don’t mean environmentally friendly.  By green I mean jealous, which I repeat, I am not.  Let’s just say,  all of these women represent something I’d like to have or like to be.  Okay, that sounds like jealousy, but let’t call it inspiration.  Behold my Inspiring Women List:

1.  Ma Ingalls – The Littles and I have started reading the Little House books.  They are so delightful – funny, interesting, and engaging, but Ma is killing me.  Everything they have, she makes – with the help of Laura and Mary. And everything they make is lovely.  She never throws dinner together and serves it on paper plates.  She actually grates carrots and boils them to make yellow food coloring for her butter  – the butter she churned herself from the milk from her own cow – the cow she raised by hand.  You see what I mean?  She sews beautiful dresses for the girls, fashions hats from reeds, and keeps a simple, tidy, but inviting home. And they do it all Cheerfully, Quickly, and Completely – which is supposed to be my children’s chore mantra. Ma and her kids are seriously putting me and mine to shame… and inspiring me to be more resourceful, peaceful, and tidy.

2.  Michelle Duggar – Okay, I don’t necessarily want 19 kids, but I would have liked four or five more. I am serious.  I LOVE  babies.  In fact,  so far I’ve loved every age and phase my kids have been through.  And the thing is, I think Hal and I get better at parenting with each one. We’re wiser, more patient, and, dare I say it, more fun.  If I had just a few more children, they’d probably turn out to be saints – with a great sense of humor.

3.  The Pioneer Woman – Ugh!  I live in the middle of nowhere. I homeschooled my kids (for a while). I have a cute dog and a hot husband. And I’m pretty handy with a a spatula.  Where’s my Food Network show and book tour?  Again, not jealous just so, so flippin’ inspired.

4.  Hallie Lord  – This woman is responsible for a book entitled Style, Sex, and Substance. (Once again, I’m into all of these things, yet I have no book). The cool thing about Hallie and her book is that she collaborates and cyber socializes with all of these awesomely cool Catholic women and writers.  I do have great friends – Catholic and Protestant, but we barely find time grab an occasional lunch, let alone write a book together. I’ve only started following Hallie’s blog, www.bettybeguiles.com  but I can tell you it’s pretty nifty. (And I’m not just saying that in order to be entered in her Mother’s Day give away, which is another darling idea I wish I’d thought of).  Oh, and did I mention she’s also a personal shopper.  Really?  One can make a career of shopping – with other people’s money.  Man, that Hallie Lord is one clever girl!

5. My cousin, Dena – Anyone who can eat anything she wants and maintain an amazing figure is bound to be a source of jealousy.  Yes, I said the “J” word, but no amount of inspiration will give me Dena’s metabolism. So, yes, I am flat jealous, and I admit it!  It only galls me further to think that we are from the same gene pool!

6.  The woman from Proverbs 31 – Far be it from me to question the Lord, but did we really need nearly entire chapter in Proverbs detailing the attributes of a Superwife, Supermom, Supermerchant, Superwoman?   Actually, on my better days, I really do find this particular scripture passage inspiring.  She is who I aspire to be, right down to her good taste (…her clothing is of fine linen and purple) and her great attitude (Strength and dignity are her clothing and she laughs at the time to come..).  She is resourceful, hardworking, savvy, productive, and Godly.  Let that be me.  Amen.

Reposted at homestead-barn-hop-61.html