She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. Proverbs 31

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More Chickens!

I had the pleasure of having my friend, Cathy and her boys, visit our home last week. It was a lovely autumn day and while the older boys cared for the younger ones, Cathy and I had time to just sit and share. We homeschooling moms call it a "teacher's conference". Cathy is passionate about frugal living and it was nice to glean from her knowledge of farm and family.

Cathy & me ~ Do you see that enamelware bowl & lid? Cathy brought cookies in her thrift store find bowl ... and I just happened to have my thrift store find matching lid. They needed to be together so they went to live with Cathy. I kept the cookies!

Cathy has a small farm with a wide assortment of animals ~ 8 goats, 2 sheep, 2 pigs, 9 dogs, a gazoodle chickens and 39 cats ... no that wasn't a typo! LOL And she shared with me 3 lovely white leghorn laying hens that we now refer to lovingly as the Dixie Chicks. Thanks so much, Cathy! I am so excited. We are now getting 3-6 eggs a day. Perfect for our family.

Cathy, a Dixie chick and Dalton

The other chickens still haven't quite accepted these new girls into their society, but I am hoping before long I'll see them all clucking around the yard in harmony.

Our two black hens (Cora & Juri) are so darling. One morning, I found Juri swinging on the front porch swing. Really, she was! Just as if she had always enjoyed a good morning swing. Then she walked over to one of fruit crates and laid her egg right at the front door. Now both black hens lay their eggs at the front door each morning. In fact, they wait in line to use the box. It is a real hoot to watch them ~ Better than the old fashioned milk men of the olden days.

Cora laying her egg on the front porch

We still have not prepared a proper hen house. Most of our free time is being spent chopping wood for winter. And we sure have needed it these past few days ~ it as only 25 degrees last night.

Photo of Brandy's hen house

But I am glad I was delayed because I discovered a lovely journal and adore the little hen house that they have created. It is both simple and so very practical. Brandy at In The Service of The King posted new photos of her finished coop and has shared "in progress" photos in previous posts. It is a perfect design that I think I am going to give a try.

Blessings & joy,

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Homemade Chicken & Rice Soup
... and some Giveaways!

There is nothing like hot soup and home baked bread when the days get chilly. I enjoy them all ~ creamy split pea, potato soup and chicken soup with rice! Since I cooked up a pot of soup today, I thought I'd share the recipe with you.

Chicken Soup with Rice

1 3 lb. broiler-fryer chicken (discard giblets)
6 1/2 cups of water
1 medium onion, cut into large pieces
2 ribs celery, cut into pieces
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 rib celery, sliced into pieces
2/3 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper

Chopped green onions to garnish

Traditional stove top method for chicken & stock:
Place your chicken, water, large onion pieces, celery, garlic, and bay leaf in a stockpot over high heat; bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 1 hour or until chicken is tender.

Remove chicken from stock. Strain chicken stock and chill; discard vegetables. Skin and bone chicken. Pull meat into bite-size pieces; chill.

Crock pot method:
Place same ingredients as above into your crock pot. Cook for 6 hours on high or until chicken is really tender. And then follow the remainder of above instructions. I prefer to use my crock pot since I put the chicken on in the morning before school. By the time Jeffrey comes home, it is ready to be made into a fresh soup.

Now skim any fat from the chicken stock. Combine stock, carrots, celery, rice, chopped onion, bouillon (if desired), salt and pepper in a large soup pot on the stove over medium-high heat; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 30 minutes, adding chicken pieces during last 10 minutes.

Frugal tip: I only add about 1/2 the chicken back into the soup. I save the other 1/2 for making chicken tacos the next day for lunch.

If you wish, garnish with green onions and serve warm with fresh bread & butter. Of course, always get creative and use what you have. I always add lots & lots of carrots if I have them available. Sometimes I don't use buillon at all. Sometimes I don't even add the chicken ... I just save it for another meal and use lots of carrots & celery. It is delicious that way too!

This recipes makes about 9 cups of soup. Hope you enjoy it!

Now for some fun giveaways!

Dalyn at Muckbooks N Aprons is hosting a giveaway for one of her homemade goat milk soaps and a lotion bar. She is also beginning her journey with raw foods which I find fascinating. Can't wait to read more.

Another giveaway is going on at Living Off The Grid. Ang is giving away a delightful farm basket of homemade goodies. She has just moved to a 40 acre farm and has gone completely off grid. That has always been a dream of mine and I look so forward to reading about her adventures.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Joys of Autumn

What a glorious month we've enjoyed here in West Tennessee! I do believe that I might enjoy autumn year round. Here are some of the fall pleasures I've been enjoying these past weeks:

Gathering muscadines ... using whatever means necessary to pick those juicy grapes. (Don't you love the hair? Remember I spent hours in the bucket of a dozer being lifted none-to-gently into the trees!)

Making homemade carmel apples covered in nuts and sprinkles.

Autumn decorating with natures gifts. Black was the perfect prim choice for painting these two old brass candle holders that I got from the local Goodwill store. What a find for 99 cents each!

Time to get stitching. I just finished these two little church-going chickens for mom. She and I are each making matching redwork Bible quilts. We're going to stitch 42 blocks representing Biblical truths. I just got my supplies today and can hardly wait to begin.

Fall festivals ~ This weekend we attended The Ames Plantation Heritage Festival. It was marvelous with all sorts of living history and demonstrations. Now I want to join a quilting bee, spin wool, bee keep and stencil every wall in my home!

Campfires at home ~ warm evenings of making memories with the family.

Take time to enjoy the simple things in life!

Wishing you joy,