A Visit to the Farmy (Long Post, Lots – o – Pictures)

When hubby and I first decided to switch direction and move to a more self-sufficient lifestyle in the country, I began searching for other like-minded folks. My search lead me to a blog, written by a woman who lives here in Central Illinois. Immediately, I knew I would enjoy following Cecilia’s blog posts over at The Kitchens Garden.  (If you’ve never visited The Kitchens Garden, I encourage you to hop over and follow along.)

I shared our desire to move to the country where we can raise our own food and Cecilia graciously invited us to take advantage of the space she has at her farmy, to begin raising some of our food.  The invitation was so very appreciated and the excitement of organic, humanely raised meat one day gracing our table was exciting.  We were being given the opportunity to experience just a small piece of the life we hope to one day live and we jumped at the opportunity.

After reading her blog for many, many months and then trading a few emails, we took a drive to meet Cecilia.

Having seen so many pictures of Cecilia’s home on The Kitchens Garden, I was sure I would recognize the house.  Then, as we turned off the main road, I saw it.  The farmy I had seen so many times in picture, was before my very eyes.  I spotted the Barn Across the Way and felt my excitement grow.

As we pulled onto the lane, I was again assured we were at the farmy.  Daisy, Queenie, the Bobbies and Marcel were grazing in the pasture.  Mama and her crew were enjoying a sunny graze further back in the pasture.  The Big Dog and Ton Ton greeted us as we pulled up in front of the house.  Boo was by the barn barking excitedly upon our arrival.

Cecilia came to the car to welcome us and she was just as I had expected and more.  A lovely woman who made us feel so very welcome at the farmy.

We were introduced to John, affectionately known as “Our John” on her blog and then we were off to meet our pig, Number Three.

DSC_0027

We were told that he’s growing fast and is certainly bigger than his pen companion.  He was more than happy to come see us and the girls were happy to give him some love and attention.  We had brought some food scraps from home for him.  It was just a little, but made me happy to know that we contributed just a little bit to his care.

 

DSC_0029

As I expected, Naomi asked what his name was and when she discovered he had no name she promptly called him Sasha.  Our attempts at teaching our girls to not name their food has been a complete failure.  One day Sasha will grace our dinner plates and my hope is that Naomi will be happy to know that she provided Sasha with some love and attention, which is certain to make the meal even more tasty 🙂

We then moved into the barn to see the Red Pig and just a few steps further were Sheila and Poppy.

Poppy very kindly gave me a muddy smile.

DSC_0010

And Sheila waited until we all moved outside before saying “cheese.”

DSC_0014

Lili loves animals and seems to have a way with them.  Boo absolutely enjoyed some Lili love.

DSC_0020

DSC_0018 DSC_0019

Later Ton Ton got lots of attention and exercise as the girls threw toys and sticks for him to fetch.

DSC_0038

Of course the girls fell head-over-hills for Tima.  Being such a cute and personable little pig, how could one not love Tima.

DSC_0036

We saw the baby chicks and ducks.

DSC_0050

And the girls were able to experience their first time holding a baby chick.

DSC_0046 DSC_0051

We had a delicious lunch of homemade pizza and later Lili and I were able to churn butter!

DSC_0042

I really can’t express how thrilled I was about churning butter and Lili, full of concentration, did the majority of the churning.

Cecilia was a wonderful teacher as she walked me thru the final steps.

DSC_0043 DSC_0044

As I listened and watched intently, I neglected to continue taking pictures of the process, but I’m sure I can remember to strain off the buttermilk (use for pancakes the next day), pour ice-cold water over the butter and using a wooden spatula, carefully push and separate the butter working the remaining buttermilk out of the butter.  Continue rinsing with ice-cold water until there is no more creamy white water left.  If desired, add a little Kosher salt, mold, wrap and refrigerate.

Now I want a dairy cow, a butter churn, and molds.

The girls collected eggs from the chickens, we met some newer farmy neighbors who stopped by and then met the Matriarch.

Four hours later we said our good-byes.  We left with fresh eggs, butter that we churned, new friendships, and wonderful memories.  A day that we very much-needed and I thank you Cecilia for your hospitality, the experiences, the wonderful food and the memories.  We look forward to our next visit, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.   And as Naomi said so eloquently, “Cecilia, your farm is amazing!!”

DSC_0024 DSC_0032 DSC_0025

DSC_0015 DSC_0021 DSC_0023

Dandelions, the Super Food

Dandelions!!!

It seems that many will do whatever it takes to rid their yard of those little yellow flowering weeds. For a matter-of-fact, we were once in that same camp. Then we moved over to the “I don’t care” camp and just mowed right over them when we cut the grass.  I have now moved into a new dandelion camp.

For years, I’ve heard of people making dandelion wine, but since I don’t drink wine,  I had no desire to give it a try. I had also heard of using dandelion greens in cooking, but again, I never had a desire to give them a try. Recently, I came across an article touting the benefits of dandelions and I was amazed!!!  This little weed that many try to kill has awesome health and healing benefits.  For example, it can prevent or cure liver diseases, such as hepatitis or jaundice. It will act as a tonic and gentle diuretic to purify blood, cleanse the system, dissolve kidney stones, and improve gastrointestinal health. Having trouble with your weight? Eat dandelions for weight reduction. Dandelions can also be used to cleanse your skin and eliminate acne. Constipation or diarrhea? Dandelions can help both problems by improving bowel function. This little yellow flowering weed can improve blood pressure, prevent or cure anemia and has the ability to lower your serum cholesterol by as much as half. Eat some dandelion to reduce acid indigestion and/or the buildup of gas. This super weed can even prevent or cure various forms of cancer, diabetes and has no negative side effects.

All these years I’ve tried to kill dandelions when in fact, I should have been protecting them, picking them, and feeding them to my family.

With my new-found knowledge, the girls and I headed outside to pick dandelions.  We picked only the flowers to make Dandelion Blossom Bread.

DSC_1623

 

2 c flour

2 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

1 c dandelion blossoms, all green sepals and leaves removed

1/4 c oil

4 T honey

1 egg

1 1/2 c milk

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl, including petals making sure to separate clumps of petals. In separate bowl mix together milk, honey, oil beaten egg. Add liquid to dry mix. Batter should be fairly wet and lumpy. Pour into buttered bread tin or muffin tin. Bake 400F. For muffins 20-25 min, bread for bread up to twice as long. Test for doneness

I did add a little glaze to the bread, for some added sweetness, but it really didn’t need the glaze.  The bread tastes of honey and my 4-yr-old loves it.  My 6-yr-old ate several bites, then decided she was done.  She isn’t a big fan of honey though and her little sister was more than happy to finish her piece 🙂  Hubby chose not to partake.  Next time I think I’ll cut back on the honey a bit, but overall, I thought it was a delightful bread.

DSC_1625

Without a doubt, I will be including dandelions as part of our diet.  With all the wonderful health benefits, how can I not.

Farm Fresh

Eggs that is.

A few weeks ago, during Lili’s horseback riding class, a woman who lives nearby, delivered some eggs to a couple of the trainers. I thought it was a one-time thing, but all week I thought about those eggs. Finally, I decided to ask and was I ever thrilled to discover that I too could have eggs delivered during Lili’s class each week. FARM FRESH eggs!!! Eggs from free range chickens!!! Eggs that weren’t several weeks old, but just laid that morning!!!!

Several months ago, I began buying free range eggs at the grocery store, but they certainly weren’t this fresh. And another bonus – I’m paying over a $1 less per dozen now!!!!  Freshness + savings =

Oh how I love my farm fresh eggs!!!!

 

DSC_0818

The only thing that would make them any better is if they came from my very own chickens!!!

Hopefully that will happen very soon!!