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.

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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.

 

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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.

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

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

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

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

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We saw the baby chicks and ducks.

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

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

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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.

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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!!”

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Zucchini for Breakfast

With all the shredded zucchini taking up space in my freezer, I decided it was time to find some new recipes and thanks to Pinterest, I discovered one that Naomi and I absolutely love.

Zucchini Bread Pancakes!!!!

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While Naomi and I really like them, hubby and Lili have chosen not to partake. I don’t understand that at all, but hope that one day they will give them a try.

It’s a great way of adding veggies to our day and I have found that the addition of the zucchini makes them more filling than regular pancakes.

If you are looking for another way to use the zucchini currently living in your freezer or fridge, give these pancakes a try.

Zucchini Bread Pancakes

2 large eggs
3 T olive oil
2 T brown sugar
1/4 cup + 2 T sour milk (I use vinegar to sour my milk)
1/2 t vanilla extract
2 heaping cups shredded zucchini
 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/4 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
 Oil for coating the skillet

In a large bowl, combine eggs, olive oil, sugar, sour milk and vanilla until smooth. Stir in zucchini.

In another bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir dry ingredients into wet, mixing until just combined.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Coat the pan lightly with butter or oil.  (Make sure your skillet isn’t too hot.  These take a little longer to cook than regular pancakes and will easily burn.  Yes, I know this from personal experience.)

Pour the batter into the pan and cook until bubbles appear on the surface.

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Flip pancakes and cook another minute or two, until golden brown. Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve with your favorite topping.

I especially enjoy these with fresh blueberry syrup.  Naomi likes them with maple syrup.

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Dehydrating on a Snowy Day

As I was turning off lights before heading to bed last night, I peeked outside only to discover that is was snowing once again. Already, the ground was covered in white and the wind was blowing so I knew the roads probably weren’t going to be in great shape this morning.

As I had predicted, all the schools in the area were closed. Not because of the snow, but because the 2-3″ of snow we got was now being tossed into big drifts from the strong winds. These same winds also brought along wind chill factors that were well below 0 and weather advisories warning every one of the cold temperatures and providing safety information on the importance of not staying outside for extended periods of time.

Hubby got up and began getting ready for work, but I convinced him to consider the fact that the roads might not be that safe.   He took my advice and worked from home instead.

Since we were avoiding any trips out into the cold, it seemed like a good time for a project.  So hubby took a mid-morning break and began peeling apples.  He then sliced them, soaked them, and had the girls put some cinnamon sugar on a few.

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Pay no attention to the partially painted wall. I was testing paint color by using up the excess paint from another room I had painted. I have decided I don’t like that color on that wall.

While they were working, they talked about how nice it will be to one day have apples from our own apple trees.  I concur!

He also peeled, sliced and soaked bananas, placed on the fruit on trays and placed the trays into the dehydrator.

For the rest of the morning into the afternoon, I listened to the hum of the dehydrator.

This was hubby’s first time dehydrating fruit and like most things, it’s a learning process.  But finally, the moment of truth . . . . the taste test.

Before dinner the bananas had all been eaten and I’m not sure how many of the apple slices, if any, are left from the girls after dinner snack.  Therefore, I would have to say it was a success and a nice way to spend a cold and snowy afternoon.