Being raised on a farm

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I love this picture! It’s not often I take the time to reflect on the life we have chosen to give to our children.  Part of that is because I grew up in this lifestyle.

Being raised on a farm doesn’t come without its sacrifices for our kids.  Your parents can’t take “sick” days from taking care of the livestock.  During the spring months there is not much time for anything other than preparing the seedlings to start, getting the garden beds ready to plant, fertilizing the soil, repairing pasture fencing, and fixing/maintaining the farm equipment and animal housing.  In the summer there is no summer vacation as every day the animals need to be fed and barn chores need to be done.  The animals do not “sleep in” so that means neither do we.  Weeds are a weekly family project in the garden beds, the lawns need frequent cutting, the pastures need to be trimmed down to keep the weeds down. Fall is spent harvesting, preserving, freezing, and selling the extras of things we have grown.

But the sacrifices allow for life lessons preparing these kids for their futures.  They learn responsibility, compassion, empathy, determination and the circle of life very early on.

They learn to respect the earth and animals with a very deep connection.  These things provide them with the reward of food grown from a seed, fresh eggs daily and freedom to enjoy the simple things like riding a horse through the beautiful woods.

It also prepares them for their later teenage years.  Both of these kids have been driving and working farm tractors, 4 wheelers, snowmobiles and a golf cart since they were 3 years old.  They understand the power a machine has and the dangers involved with a careless decision.

They can prepare their own meals, make bread, can vegetables and fruits, and make pies.  In other words, they will be able to feed themselves for the rest of their lives without assistance if need be.

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All of this makes the vacations and trips they do get to enjoy even better.

And the time we spend on our boat, camping out in our cabin on the farm, enjoying family time around our nightly bonfires and making lasting memories is where I find my happiness.

And that sums up why I love the above image explaining why being raised a farm kid is the best gift ever!

 

 

Farmers Market Co-Op

Our Island started a Farmers Market Co-Op about 3 weeks ago.  They asked all of us who farm or homestead to be a part of it and sell some of our goods.  It’s on Mondays after work hours for 3 hours.

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We missed the first week but participated the second week by putting up a table and selling some of our homegrown vegetables, canned goods, baked goods, and the Teen Queen’s handmade clay jewelry, lipsticks and sugar body scrubs.  We had about 50 items and came home with 3.  I’d say it was a success!

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This week we have a few more harvested vegetables to add to the table as well as some of our home baked Breads, Peach Skin Jelly, Dilly Beans and more canned peaches!

A farmers market is such an awesome opportunity to support your local farmers and meet people who like to homestead.  I always give out our Facebook site and this page so anyone who wants recipes to try their hand at adding a little of the homestead life into their busy lives can try it.

I am asked over and over again how I fit all of this in with working, kids sports almost every night, barn chores, animal care, and still finding time for boating and spending family time visiting all of the summer happenings in our area.  My answer is always…you just make the time.  Whether it’s baking, canning, or making jewelry, providing anything for your family that is homemade is such a great feeling.

Here’s to hoping today’s market is a success like last week!!!

 

 

 

Harvesting

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Fresh lettuce daily

It’s a special time of year when you are finally “eating” what you’ve sown.  A few of our garden items have been producing very well in this wet summer we are having.  Here is a peek into some of our harvested meals.

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We are growing head lettuce, romaine lettuce, and purple leaf lettuce.  Every day it’s great to have a choice of which fresh lettuce you are going to eat.  We grow most of this to feed the rabbits, goats and chickens as well as ourselves.

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Kale chips

With our lettuce we have our kale planted.  We have 5 huge plants full of thick heavy leaves perfect for kale chips, soups, and kale salads (the teen’s favorite).  She uses just the kale with apple cider vinegar and some taco shredded cheese.

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The pea plants are producing in one spot only.  Some of them have become molded from the rain.  We have a second planting of 18 plants almost ready to go into the ground.  We are still getting about 7 pea pods from each plant but we need WAY more for my kids!

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These were the only strawberries we collected this year from our plants. We lost quite a few plants to rabbits/voles this spring.  They have been replaced but won’t produce until next year.

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Beans and basil are doing well.  This is a store bought tomato as ours are not ready yet but with fresh basil, this caprese salad was awesome!  The beans did not make it past washing them.  The kids ate them immediately.  Luckily I have a previous harvest already blanched and frozen!

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One of the last 3 jars of peaches left from last summers canning.  Still a sweet treat.

Looking forward to the many more items to come!

Farm Kids

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This picture really captures the essence of “farm kids” in my mind.  I love how they still at 13 and 10 appreciate their farm animals and remain the little “farm kids” we have raised them to be.

We built a larger run for the chickens tonight so they have more room to free range safely when we are not home.

You can see more cute chicken pictures on our Facebook page here:  Cute chickens

Garden update

Things are starting to produce in our little garden.  Now is the time for some tender loving care to keep these plants healthy and productive!

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Hopefully nothing happens while I am Toronto bound with the boy for a hockey tournament this weekend.

You can see more of our garden pictures on my Facebook page here:  Garden update

Making Maple Syrup

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We tapped 2 maple trees in our yard this year to collect sap.  This is a super fun project for the kids.  They get off the bus and run to the buckets to see what has dripped in during the day.  This Syrup is the best you will ever have!!

IMPORTANT NOTE:  keep in mind it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup.

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In 4 days we collected 6 gallons (after losing a gallon to a bucket falling off the tree because of the wind).

Today I decided to process what we have so we can prepare over the next few days to boil a few more gallons before the season is over.  The best time to collect the sap is when the days are sunny and above freezing temperatures yet the night is below freezing. The season may be short or long.  You will know it’s over when the sap stops dripping from your tree.

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We bring the sap in and pour it through a mesh strainer lined double with cheesecloth.  This filters out the impurities.

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You are left with clear pure sap.  The best way to store it is to keep it in cold temperatures until you are ready to boil it.  I store it in the refrigerator.

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When you have enough to boil, fill the pot and bring it to a rolling boil.  NOTE:  this throws off humidity and will fill the whole house.  I open a few windows and don’t mind the humidity as it feels tropical!

The sap will boil down and each time add more to fill the pot using all the sap you have collected.  I started with 3 gallons in our bucket and boiled 6 gallons over the course of 6 hours.  I also scoop out the foam every once in a while.

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The sap will begin to turn a light amber color.  When you get to this point it’s important to continue boiling until the syrup begins to foam.  That is when you know it’s ready.

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It’s a darker color and will thicken.

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Remove from the heat and strain again through the cheesecloth into your mason jar or container you are using to store it in.

You can cover it tightly after cool and store for up to 6 months in the refrigerator.  You can also can it (I personally have never done that but there are directions all over the internet).

Our 6 gallons yielded 1 pint of syrup but the tween queen had to have a separate container she could eat with a spoon before I could get it all in the jar for a picture!

INSTRUCTIONS:

Collect sap

Strain through cheesecloth and store in the refrigerator

TO MAKE SYRUP:

Fill a large pot with the sap and bring to a boil

When it boils down keep adding the rest of your sap until it’s all in the pot

Continue boiling stirring once in a while and removing the foam when needed

Test to see if it has turned a light amber color after it has boiled down the final time

Continue boiling until the sap is beginning to boil and foam, is darker in color and is slightly thicker

Remove from heat and strain through cheesecloth into the container you are storing it in

Let cool and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months