black australorp hen in snow

The Truth About Chickens Wearing Sweaters

During our first winter with chickens, I regularly took readings outside on the coldest days. One morning it was -27° F! Concerned for our hens, I trotted through the icy air to their unheated, uninsulated coop and took a reading inside. -20° F!  I was scared for our hens’ safety.

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smuttynose robust porter for coq au vin made with beer

An Old Hen Braised in Dark Beer: Cooking Coq au Vin, but with beer and a laying chicken [Recipe]

Coq au vin is traditionally an old rooster cooked for many hours in wine. We don’t have any old roosters in the freezer, but we do have a few old hens. That could work. But you know, it would really be a wasted opportunity to only modify one component of the classic coq au vin recipe. Continue reading “An Old Hen Braised in Dark Beer: Cooking Coq au Vin, but with beer and a laying chicken [Recipe]”

And so in went the garlic!

I have been thinking about planting garlic since we were eating scapes from the farmer’s market in May!  So I was pretty excited to have some really nice big garlic from a few different farms to try to grow in my own garden. Can you believe that last year at this time we had SNOW?  Me either.  Autumn has been nice to us this year as far as temperatures, harvest yields, and being able to go pick apples in November!  Last year, I hadn’t listened to the farmer’s adages about a month before the frost, nor did I heed their warnings at the final outdoor farmer’s markets when they probed and pushed, “did ya get your garlic yet?” Well this year I had a little help from some friends and I’m hoping for garlic in the spring! Continue reading “And so in went the garlic!”

Would a Vampire Be a Good Farmer? The D.R.A.C.U.L.A. Criteria

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. About Dracula. And about farming. Normal thoughts we all have, surely. And this morning my thinking merged and I was struck by a question: would a focused, non-emotional vampire like Dracula have traits that translate well to farming? In a world where vampires need vegetables instead of blood, could someone like ol’ Dracs raise a nice carrot patch? Continue reading “Would a Vampire Be a Good Farmer? The D.R.A.C.U.L.A. Criteria”

how to build a Holzhaufen or holz hausen circular wood pile

Why you should stack firewood in a holzhaufen, the circular wood pile [infographic]

Having a well built stack of firewood is crucial for those of us who get through the deep freeze of winter using woodstoves and fireplaces.  You need a strong pile located in a convenient spot that will not succumb to rot by getting too wet.  Most people opt to stack rectangular piles that require careful attention to ensure they are sturdy.  They look boring and cannot be stacked too high.  And good luck stacking on a slope!  This year we opted to try a new (to us) style of stacking: the holzhaufen, a circular pile that resembles a house.  And we made an infographic so you can stack one too!  Continue reading “Why you should stack firewood in a holzhaufen, the circular wood pile [infographic]”

Differences Between Raising Heritage Chickens and Cornish Cross for Meat (Part 2 – Processing)

I don’t usually spend much time sharing the experience of processing chickens because usually people don’t think they want to hear it. But in the interest of sharing our observations, here goes!  This post will not contain any photos of actual processing.   Continue reading “Differences Between Raising Heritage Chickens and Cornish Cross for Meat (Part 2 – Processing)”

Fresh organic carrot

Fresh Carrots: It’s a Lifestyle

Some time ago I developed a snack habit of eating an apple after lunch every day. But lately the availability of local apples that have been keeping cool in storage has dwindled and my snack routine was in trouble. I am in staunch opposition to eating apples from other parts of the country, let alone other parts of the world, so I didn’t really have a choice. I had to give up apples until autumn. Enter the carrot. [cue joyous song about carrots sung in unison by 1000 bearded men] Continue reading “Fresh Carrots: It’s a Lifestyle”

Heritage breed cockerel chickens for meat

Differences between raising heritage chickens and cornish cross for meat (part 1)

Today we harvested our five biggest heritage cockerels and it was an eye-opening experience. We didn’t kill them because of the 4 am crowing, or the fact that one of them bit our daughter, or because we are in dire need of adding more chicken to our freezer.  We did it because this is why they are here, why we are raising them.  We are exploring the sustainability of heritage breeds, as well as taking note of our experience raising different breeds.  They are here to feed us, and we thank them for their role.  We took the opportunity to compare to a batch of cornish cross chickens we also raised for meat, and in this post I’ll go over some of the key differences in the actual raising of the birds. Continue reading “Differences between raising heritage chickens and cornish cross for meat (part 1)”

Potatoes, Corn, and Tomatoes

Dear August,

I love you. Your hot sweltering days make everything come to birth with rapid full force.  The nights are short and swimming in humidity.   Your days are long and packed with lake hopping, people laughing and catching up, and so much delicious food. Bring on more heat, bright summer days, and all the celebrations of summer. Love, Amy

PS Thanks for the potatoes, the corn, and the tomatoes!

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