Tilly's Tiny Family Farm
August 27, 2014 Meat Chickens

To start off the day, after running errands and taking kids to appointments, hubbie and I rearranged the fencing for the chicken coop. We like to move it around every week or so as the grass gets mowed down by chickens. It started raining more often so the spot we moved them to has recovered somewhat. Next year we plan on fencing most of the back yard so they will have ample room to forage and yet be safe from the highway.

Once the coop fencing was secure and we let the chickens loose upon the poor unsuspecting grass, we had to plan out our next task. Butchering the chickens in the movable tractor. Now there were only 5 chickens in the one we had plans for, but alas 2 chickens have repeatedly gotten loose somehow and head straight for my tomatoes... so they got added to the list even though they are a little smaller than I'd like. Me being raised in town and my husband being raised on a farm, he is obviously more experienced with the whole butchering thing. I've read book upon book upon book about chickens. Only 1 of those books told me how to actually butcher one.

(Warning for those who are squeamish...I go into a little more detail than some might like) My hubbie beheaded them as humanely and quickly as possible. I now understand the term "like a chicken with its head cut off" and am very surprised it wasn't worse than I had imagined. I am also surprised at myself for not being more squeamish and emotional. These birds were part of a flock that I have called my babies quite frequently. I guess having them raid what few tomatoes I have this year has taken that emotional guilt away in a major way. You don't mess with momma's tomatoes! er... yeah.

We figured since the kids were so young that it would be better to have them play on the swing set and in the sandbox away from the tiny massacre going on in our back yard. But low and behold... they all wandered over.....while some of the chickens were still....moving. We look at each other and think oh now....they are now going to be mortified for life and never eat another chicken again. My little girl started scrunching up her face as she does when shes about to cry...for the record the kids are 7, 5, and almost 4.

We think there is going to be a full out melt down.

"Mom! Daddy cut the chicken's face off!"

I proceed to explain where chicken noodle soup comes from (her favorite right now) and how the chicken being killed means we can have barbeque chicken and all kinds of goodies. The scrunching of the face stops. She stands in front of the large coop and holds out her hands widely.

"Is daddy going to cut all the chickenses faces off mom!?" she says almost excited.

Hubbie and I look at each other and we tell her no, not all of them since we will be getting eggs and more baby chickens from most of the leftover ones. She just nods as we notice our youngest grabbing a big stick. He goes over to the dead chickens and walks right up to the one currently....moving. He roars at it like a dinosaur and then whacks it (he doesn't hit too hard). It stops. One other one moves a bit more and roars at that one... then whacks it with the stick. At this point we're wondering if we should wrangle him back to the swing set or laugh. It doesn't feel right to laugh because it is a poor dead creature that we plan on adding to the freezer, but somehow that feeling is there.

We set up our outside station with hose and pots and "garbage" bucket. He skins them, which removes the feathers neatly and doesn't require any boiling and plucking. One of the chickens still had its "voice box" working so when you moved it a certain way it cackled a little bit as air went through it. My youngest appears fast as lightening next to dad and roars at it. He then proceeds to whack the chicken. He nods his head as if he has done dad this great favor and walks on his merry way back to the sandbox.

I get the job of gutting them out. I have never done this before so the hubbie shows me how to get the first one mostly done. I have to keep asking how to do certain parts until I have the routine down. After the sought after parts are rinsed and cleaned they are packaged up, marked, and frozen. Except the 3 we roasted tonight for supper. I think slow roasting it a bit longer would tenderize the meat a little more, but I have to say it is the best chicken I have ever had.... and not just because it was eating my tomatoes.

For obvious reasons I did not take any photos to post, but it was an interesting experience. I can officially say that everything, except the butter, was grown on our tiny farm. It is a step in the right direction towards being mostly self sustainable food wise.

Now that I have scarred some of you for life or made you laugh if you found my youngest amusing, its off to bed for me as soon as the chicken stock has cooled so I can freeze it. So enjoy your night and toodles my lovelies!

August 23, 2014 Canning and Coops

Had a busy week canning. Peach Pie Filling, Tomato Sauce, and Turnips.
Turnips were my first pressure canner recipe. I googled a recipe that has turnips and pickling salt. Seemed to work out just great. Once I figure out what flavor of turnips I like best, I'll have to make my own recipe.

We also got the nest boxes in the coop. My hubbie surprised me with the project, he had it almost done before I found him working on it. Hes such a sweetheart. Here is the handiwork, the roosts in the way are removable for when it comes egg collecting time. So, back to canning, toodles!

August 17, 2014 New Addiction

Ok, I have been avoiding pinterest like the plague. Not because I don't like it, but I knew that once I had created an account and dived into its crafty wonders.... I would spend way too much time there. Well.... I needed inspiration to set up my kids' school area since school starts on the 25th. We do online public school, which is almost like home schooling until 6th grade. This year I have 2 children "attending". One starts 2nd and the other Kindergarten. Both are excited and wanted to dive into lessons as soon their books arrived in the mail.

So back to the whole pinterest thing. I received an email from said school with helpful links for different ways to start the school year off right. One included examples of the child's space set up with various designs and small shelves and such. But alas, it connects to pinterest. What am I to do?

So I signed up....like I've been avoiding.... and I started pinning all kinds of school related stuff. I got their area all set up and pretty. Then I thought hmm..... wonder if there are any fun crafts or gluten free recipes.... Yeah.

I spent a whole day making pins of stuff I'd like to try. I achieved nothing that day except getting their school area set up... I guess I have a new addiction. Will....have... to ...pace... myself. (admit it, you thought that in Captain Kirk's voice, if not... you are now)

On another note, we've started canning for the season. Working on homemade tomato sauce at the moment and have plans for peach pie filling since we got them on sale. Also need to pull up all our ripe turnips and get those canned. It will be my first time using a pressure canner. Thankfully I have hubbie supervision. He has more experience in this than me. Wish me luck... or pray.... whichever tickles your fancy. Toodles peeps!

August 9, 2014 Bales

Got our "new" sickle mower and picked up a square baler and hay rake from someone getting out of the baling business earlier this year. Managed to knock down enough for 33 1/2 bales. Now that we have tested the machinery and we know it is working flawlessly at the moment, we just need to wait for more dry weather. We hope this adventure into baling will expand our new farm outlook and hopefully, eventually, we'll both be able to work from home on the tiny farm.
Sorry for the huge file pics... my photo editor crashed on me earlier.

I have a family reunion to go to today. So for any of those that will be there.... here is a glimpse of the homemade fudgy goodness! Toodles peeps!

August 1, 2014 Weeee!

I have my first baby watermelon!!! I stuck a quarter next to it to show size. It's a Sugar Baby so it doesn't get too big anyhow, but I have never had a watermelon actually growing in my garden! So I am just a liiiiittle excited.... ok maybe a lot.

In other news, Nevis Farmer's Market tomorrow along with Nevis Customer Appreciation Days which also includes the town wide garage sale. So hopefully a busy weekend. Toodles peeps!

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