Up With the Chickens

Raising children and chickens on a little buffalo farm

Move Over Elf on the Shelf. The Wise Men are in the House.

This article has been reblogged at my new blog, Charming Farming.  Scroll down to read the whole thing…

We don’t have an Elf on the Shelf, but I’ve read about them on the Internet, and I think I get the idea. Sometime in the weeks before Christmas, this little guy makes an appearance. His job is to keep an eye on the kiddos for Santa – to see who’s being naughty and who’s being nice. But at night, when everyone is sound asleep, the elf goes around causing mischief. The next morning delighted tots wake up and find Santa’s helper has been very busy. I’ve seen pictures of shelf elves drinking syrup from a straw, wallowing in a bag of powdered sugar, and playing Candy Land with Woody and Buzz. I’ve read blogs where parents offer elaborate suggestions for elf antics. One even suggested having the family’s elf sneak around at night swapping the clothes in all the closets. I can assure you, any elf of mine who tried that would himself relocated to the bottom of the Goodwill pile.

But as I’ve said, we don’t have an elf. Oh we love Santa. We write him letters, leave out cookies and milk, and even track his Christmas Eve journey on the NORAD website. At least we used to. This will be the first year that none of the kids even pretend to still believe. Ouch!

Anyway, it’s not that I’m anti-elf, but we do try to keep the spirit of advent during the weeks leading up to Christmas. It might come as a surprise to some people, but mad rushes to the mall, festive parties, and feisty trouble-making elves are not traditionally the way Christians have prepared to celebrate the birth of our Savior. Traditionally Advent has been a time of prayerful reflection as the Church prepares to meet her Lord, not only as a baby in a manger, but also as King of kings at the end of time.

That’s not to say our family doesn’t have fun Advent traditions. We just try to keep the focus on Christ. So instead of a scampish elf roaming about in search of trouble, we have wise kings roaming about in search of Baby Jesus. And instead of Mommy and Daddy having all the fun, everyone gets a wiseman to move/hide. Admittedly, the Magi aren’t as zany as the elves, but they can still turn up is some odd places. And anyone who comes across a wiseman is expected to say quick prayer, then set him back on his journey.

No, you won’t find these guys getting into the Christmas cookies, but they do wind up in some odd places.

I wonder if he’s looking for a gift of spices.


Maybe this is how he got so wise – reading.

20121127-215747.jpg. ”

I see animals, but I don’t think this is the manger.”



Just hanging with the guys.


Here Here for Beer Bread!


So, The Boy, our oldest son, Jack, will be leaving for college in approximately a year and a half.  I’m starting to panic.  Don’t get me wrong.  I want him to go.  I remember the words my mother said to me as my high school graduation was approaching, “I’m so sad you are leaving.  But I’d be sadder if you were staying.”  It was time.  She knew it.  And I knew it.  I feel the same way about The Boy.  I will miss him everyday, but I want him to go on and experience new things.  And of course I want him to move toward an independent, happy life.

Still, I find myself feeling a little desperate as the time grows shorter and shorter.  Have I taught enough lessons?  Have I said enough prayers?  Have I cooked enough meals to make him mildly homesick when he’s at college?  Just the other day, I assured him that I would visit him at school and bring some home-cooked meals.  His reply?  “I don’t get that many home-cooked meals now.”  WHAT? IS HE JOKING?  IS THIS SOME SORT OF TEEN REBELLION DESIGNED TO PUT DISTANCE BETWEEN US?  IS HE TRYING TO KILL ME?  I can assure you.  I cook – well and often.

The thing is we live in the South.  Here people associate home cookin’ with fried chicken, fried fish, fried okra, fried pies, fried potatoes…you get the idea. I do occasionally make a mean biscuits and gravy, another southern staple.  But I don’t do fried.  I love fried food, I just don’t tend to fix it – my mother was the same way.   Anyway, after The Boy’s cutting remark, I have turned up the heat, literally in my kitchen.  I’m still not frying much, but I am making a whole slew of other homemade goodies, cookies, pies, brownies.   Last week I made a pot of potato soup and a pot of chicken noodle soup.  And what goes better with homemade soup than homemade bread?  Luckily I remembered my Daddy’s recipe for beer bread.

I don’t know if this is one of those recipes that everyone knows, but it should be. It’s such a quick and easy way to have homemade bread any night of the week. It isn’t ideal for sandwiches, but it’s perfect as a side or with a bowl of soup!  And it only has three ingredients!

3 cups of all purpose flour

3 table spoons of sugar

1 beer (12 oz.)

Mix four and sugar together. Slowly mix in the beer.  Let stand for about ten minutes.  Bake a 350 for 50-60 minutes.  When you take it out of the oven you can run an stick of butter over the top for added yumminess.

I certainly hope The Boy sees the errors of his ways.  I do cook.  Homemade bread proves it.  And so will the extra pounds we will all gain in order for me to make my point!




I am a nut for all things pumpkin. A nut. So, of course, I’ve adapted my Luscious Powerhouse Smoothie recipe for the season. And remember, I’m a pinch and dash kind of a cook, so feel free to adjust these measurements (guestimates) to your taste.

One cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt (I use plain)

1/3- 2/3 Cup canned pumpkin

1-2 Tbs peanut butter

2 Tbs ground flax seed

2-4 Tbs honey, stevia, sugar, or other sweetener

1 Tbs coconut oil ( This is optional, but to me, yummy though they are, smoothies are primarily a vehicle for The Many Many Benefits of Coconut Oil)

A generous dash of cinnamon

A cup or so of almond or regular milk (I use almond.)

Add ice and puree!

Yummy!  Yummy!  Yummy!

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Meet Isidore IV…

We have a new addition to the farm. We think he’s beautiful! Apparently the dogs are smitten too.