An Ode to Spring

Things at The Little Blue House are warming up as the days grow longer and spring settles in. We have been busy revamping our garden, starting vegetable seeds, tending our to our horse pasture, and brooding our set of spring chicks!

Momma is inspecting one of the new raised beds
Tomato seedlings!
Daddy and Daughter fixing up the harrow.
3 Black Australorp and 3 Rhode Istand Red pullets will be ready to lay by this fall!

To top off our spring excitement, our second baby will be making his debut at any moment! This busy time of year is about to get a whole lot more hectic. I will also be trying my hand at cloth diapering this baby in an attempt at becoming more self sufficient. With all those dirty diapers about to be made and my toddler beginning her potty training journey, I see a bunch of laundry in the near future!

Tell me about your springtime projects!

An Ode to Spring

Things at The Little Blue House are warming up as the days grow longer and spring settles in. We have been busy revamping our garden, starting vegetable seeds, tending our to our horse pasture, and brooding our set of spring chicks!

Momma is inspecting one of the new raised beds
Tomato seedlings!
Daddy and Daughter fixing up the harrow.
3 Black Australorp and 3 Rhode Istand Red pullets will be ready to lay by this fall!

To top off our spring excitement, our second baby will be making his debut at any moment! This busy time of year is about to get a whole lot more hectic. I will also be trying my hand at cloth diapering this baby in an attempt at becoming more self sufficient. With all those dirty diapers about to be made and my toddler beginning her potty training journey, I see a bunch of laundry in the near future!

Tell me about your springtime projects!

An Ode to Spring

Things at The Little Blue House are warming up as the days grow longer and spring settles in. We have been busy revamping our garden, starting vegetable seeds, tending our to our horse pasture, and brooding our set of spring chicks!

Momma is inspecting one of the new raised beds
Tomato seedlings!
Daddy and Daughter fixing up the harrow.
3 Black Australorp and 3 Rhode Istand Red pullets will be ready to lay by this fall!

To top off our spring excitement, our second baby will be making his debut at any moment! This busy time of year is about to get a whole lot more hectic. I will also be trying my hand at cloth diapering this baby in an attempt at becoming more self sufficient. With all those dirty diapers about to be made and my toddler beginning her potty training journey, I see a bunch of laundry in the near future!

Tell me about your springtime projects!

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bites

A fun snack to make with the kids!

Tools:

  • Large bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Large mixing spoon

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup milled flax seed
  • 1/2 bag no sugar added chocolate chips
  • ~1/2 cup no sugar added peanut butter
  • Honey to taste

Instructions:

  • Combine first four ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
  • Sweeten to taste with honey.
  • Work into dough and form into bite sized balls.
  • You may add more oats or peanut butter to achieve a moldable consistency.
  • Store in a container in the refrigerator.
Enjoy! 
The Ag Wife

Old Fashioned Chicken and Dumplings

This is a fun recipe to get the kids involved in! My daughter loves helping me with the dough!

Tools:

  • Rolling pin
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Large stew pot
  • Wooden spoon for stirring
  • A sharp knife for cutting dough
  • A mesh strainer

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken (or equivalent weight in your favorite cut. I like thighs)
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pepper to taste
  • 32oz box chicken broth
  • 2-3 chicken bouillon cubes
  • Water

Instructions:

  • Place chicken in stew pot and fill with tap water until the chicken is covered.
  • Boil chicken until cooked through.
  • Remove chicken and place to the side to cool
  • Strain your broth with a mesh strainer and return it back to the pot.
  • Bring broth to a soft boil
  • Add 32 oz. box broth, bouillon cubes, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • While the chicken is cooling and the broth begins to boil you may start on your dumpling dough.
  • Add 4 cups flour, 2 teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and a couple dashes of pepper to a mixing bowl.
  • Add tap water a little at a time until it creates a semi-sticky but rollable dough. It is best to mix and feel for the proper texture with your hands.
  • On a floured rolling surface with a floured rolling pin, roll the dough until it is about 1/8” thick. You may refer to my picture for a visual.
  • Flour a sharp knife and cut the dough into ~3/4” vertical strips. Then cut strips horizontally in half one time.
  • Pick strips up, tear them by hand into bite size dumplings and gradually add them to boiling broth.
  • Stir broth often as you add dough to prevent sticking.
  • While your dumplings are boiling, remove skin and bone from your chicken and shred into bite sized pieces.
  • Once dumplings are cooked to tender, add your shredded chicken back to the pot and heat mixture through.
  • At this point make sure to taste your stew. You may add salt and pepper to taste as well and more water if you want a “soupier” consistency.
  • This recipe makes plenty for a family of four with leftovers and is freezer friendly.
  • Serve with a dash of hot sauce and fresh cornbread.
Enjoy!
The Ag Wife

Orange Pecans

Tools

  • Wax paper
  • Large pot
  • Wooden spoon for mixing

Ingredients

  • 4-5 cups pecans, halved
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest from 1 orange

Instructions

  • Lay a large area of wax paper out on your counter.
  • Cook sugar, orange juice, and orange zest in a large pot over medium heat until sugar is fully dissolved.
  • Fill a glass with cold water and drop a small amount of the mixture into the glass. It will clump together and readily form a ball in your fingers. This is how you tell if it is the correct temperature. If it does not clump, cook a little longer.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add pecans to mixture and gently mix and fold until the the mixture cools and the pecans start looking cloudy. This could take up to ten minutes.
  • Pour and separate pecans onto the wax paper on your counter.
  • Wait until they are dry before placing into a container for storage. This will only take about ten more minutes.
Enjoy!

The Ag Wife
My great grandmother’s original recipe.

The Farm at the Little Blue House

Before I start, I’d like to apologize to my readers for being absent for so long. In the summer I contracted COVID 19, and soon after recovering found out I was pregnant with baby number two! It was a very difficult first trimester with severe nausea and food aversions. Juggling my symptoms along with raising a toddler and running our backyard farm made little time for me to sit down and concentrate on my blog! Now that I am firmly in the second trimester with our baby boy, and the craziness that is summer and fall is over on our little farm, I have finally been given a minute to catch up!

First, let’s talk about our wonderful flock of chickens! We bought chickens this past spring and now have a laying flock of 16 hens and 1 rooster. We lost one bird out of the original 18 to what I assume was some sort of predator, because one day she was just gone! However, the rest of the flock has blossomed. I get between 12 and 16 eggs per day. I often let them run during the day and have a few girls that get in the habit of laying outside somewhere instead of in their nesting boxes. We get some egg loss due to that. When I start noticing a significant difference I keep them in their enclosure for a few days to remind them where their nests are, and it seems to do the trick. I have had a fair amount of success by setting a sign in front of our house to sell the eggs we don’t eat. I’ve been making enough profit to pay for their feed from selling eggs for $3/dozen or $5/2 dozen. We also have had enough leftover to gift to our friends, family, and neighbors!

All of our hens lay brown eggs. We have 1 Black Australorp, 5 Plymouth White Rocks, and 10 Rhode Island Reds.

In October, the old run collapsed. This made it so we had to spend the next couple months with our flock out full time during the day until my husband had time to build a new one. It was well worth the wait. The new run is now built to stand for a long time! Along with rebuilding our run, we have prepped the inside of the coop for winter. We’ve dropped a heater in the water bucket and added heat lamps to roosting areas for night that are below freezing. I kept one heat lamp red because the birds prefer the dimmer light to sleep by at night. But the other heat lamp is the classic yellow light. Having this light on at night will trick our birds to lay through the the short days of the winter months.

Our new and improved chicken run!

During the summer months, we had a decent yield from our garden of berries, lettuce, broccoli, peaches, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, sweet corn, and basil. The vegetables we grew were able to sustain us for the summer with enough to share with our family. Our peach yield was so good I was able to can a batch of peach jam! It turned out delicious. I also started several okra plants from seeds. However, I failed in hardening them properly. As soon as they were exposed to the weather they shriveled and died. Getting COVID and soon there after getting pregnant, made late summer and fall harvest in the garden near impossible. So by the end of the season, my wonderful garden fell by the wayside. Hopefully we will have better luck next season!

A basket full of food.
Garden yields from July.
Peach Jam!

As summer ended and the fall grasses began to sprout, our little pony Clarabelle took it upon herself to gorge as much new grass as she could. This of course caused her to get rather full around the barrel and eventually leaded up to her contracting laminitis. This is a disease where the tissues called laminae in a horses hoof begin to degrade. It causes separation of the hoof wall and rotation of the coffin bone in the hoof. It is very painful and if not caught in time, deadly. She can now no longer be on full grass. This event forced us to build a separate dry lot and to renovate the water and electric in the horse barn for Clarabelle. To say that she is not pleased with the new diet plan is an understatement.

Clarabelle’s new digs

As an eventful summer and fall come to an end, we as a family are looking forward slowing down and spending time together this holiday season. And I look forward to having more time for sharing our experiences with you all.

Until next time…

The Ag Wife

Egg Muffins

This recipe yields approximately 12 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped ham
  • 2 dozen cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Fresh chives chopped, about half a .5 oz package
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Divide ham, tomatoes, chives, and feta evenly into a greased muffin tin.
  • Combine eggs, milk, black pepper, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, and basil into a spouted bowl and whisk.
  • Pour egg mixture over the ingredients in your muffin tin. Fill to about 1/4 inch from the top of each tin.
  • Bake muffins for 20 minutes or until egg is cooked through.

Freezing Instructions:

  • After the muffins are cooked, loosen each one from their tins with a butter knife.
  • Let muffins cool completely.
  • Wrap each muffins in cling wrap and place into a container or gallon ziploc and freeze!
I make this in a double batch and freeze them for quick breakfasts in the morning!
Enjoy!

The Ag Wife

Future Farmers

The future of food security belongs to our children. Many of which believe their food comes pre-washed and packaged from the grocery store. It is important now more than ever, to educate both children and adults about where their food comes from. Agricultural education is a key factor in providing future generations with quality and sustainable food sources.

As we begin to remove ourselves further away from our roots, ignorance is beginning to negatively effect today’s farming community. Bills are passed by officials that have inadequate knowledge of the intricacies of farming and of our environment. Marketing knowledge and regulation is so sporadic that consumers have no clue what they are purchasing to nourish their families. Lack of education and transparency by our schools, government, and agricultural companies have people grasping to ideals about food that they don’t fully understand.

The wide world of agriculture was an obscure part of my life growing up as well. When we moved to a small farming community and I started high school, I discovered a little club that some of my readers may know about. This group, along with it’s accompanying classes changed my future as well as cultivated my interests in agriculture.

The Future Farmers of America or The FFA, provides endless outlets for students to inquire and pursue interests in all fields of agriculture. It also gives young adults the chance to lead, speak, and volunteer in local communities. Though agriculture programs are not offered in every school, I believe it should be part of all school curriculum. In the interim, there are other outlets to gain knowledge about food and where it comes from. Many communities that don’t have an FFA program offer out of school 4H programs, community gardens, and cooking programs. So if you or someone you know might be interested in learning more, ask your school or city council about programs that involve our youth in learning where their food comes from!

The future is in farming!

Until next time…

The Ag Wife

Summer

As we turn the corner into the summer season, we are beginning to see yields on our little farm. The chickens are days away from laying, and our garden is producing delicious fruits and vegetables. Here are a few photo updates of how the summer is panning out this year!

Our rooster loves to show off his beautiful red comb and wattle
Our daughter tending the plants
Yummy sweet strawberries
Yellow pear tomatoes
Picked early to fry up in some bacon grease!
Grandma Williams with a head of broccoli. We ate the bloom and fried the greens
We planted our basil in a cattle feed tub to ensure proper soil quality and reduce the possibility of pests getting to it.
Washed lettuce and basil ready for salad

How is your summer going so far? Let me know in the comments!