I ran across this video of money-saving tips a week or two ago, and I thought it was worth sharing here. I especially like the one regarding eggs, since there is such a reduction in egg production in the winter.
Posted by Steve On March 13, 2015
Posted by Steve On March 12, 2015
I am a bit weird – no one has to tell me that. I get the biggest smile out of these prank videos with professional drivers though. I could watch the one with Jeff Gordon in it over and over. There is a new-to-me one out there though, which has a lady and a man who have met as a blind date, and she ends up taking the man for a ride in her car. Oh my! This is just too funny! Enjoy speed dating …
Posted by Steve On March 10, 2015
As I wrote yesterday, this has been a hard week. The weather has been far less than desirable, which has meant that our chicken coop has had the tarp over it all week long. That usually takes a toll on the Easter Eggers, but they actually had a pretty good egg laying week. The totals ended up being 20 for the Rhode Island Reds and 20 for the Easter Eggers, but that is not the big news for the week. The toughest part of the week may not have been the weather, it may have been the day a hen had to lay this egg!
Look at the size of that thing compared to the others! It is monstrous! In fact, it was nearly 3 times as large as a typical egg. If you are like me, you want to know what is inside of that thing though. Well, you get to find out. I videoed the cracking of the egg, revealing something you may not be expecting. Check it out!
Candidly, I hope that is the last monstrous egg I see, but if nothing else, it made for an interesting video. 🙂
Posted by Steve On March 9, 2015
Okay, I am officially sick of winter. 😀 This is the time of year I am beginning to prepare my garden, but as of now there is nothing but snow on the ground. Thankfully it is starting to melt. About every decade or so, we get substantial snow in our area, and the trend obviously continued this year. It wasn’t one storm this year either, it was two back to back storms with just enough time between them for the snow to melt off for a day or so. The second one packed a greater punch than the first, dumping over a foot of snow at my house. Did I already say I was sick of winter?
The biggest upcoming challenge is going to be the soggy ground, which is going to be very hard on farmers and gardeners in the area. Hopefully it will dry out before it is time for folks to till their garden. I’ll tell you this – there couldn’t have been a better year for me to start my Back to Eden garden!
It has been a very quiet week at the homestead due to the weather, though I do have a very interesting post tomorrow about the chickens. You aren’t going to want to miss it!
Posted by Steve On March 5, 2015
Have you ever seen the photography projects that capture people who look the same, but are unrelated? I find this stuff totally fascinating! The most recent one I have seen is one of the best, and is being tagged as human templates. Enjoy!
Posted by Steve On March 3, 2015
This has been another week that the chickens have wished would end. The ladies are so tired of this bitter cold weather, and they have learned that they don’t like snow, not even a little bit. We have however, been able to lift up the tarp some and give them some light, which has helped a little with the egg production.
I can’t remember if I have shared this before, but we have one, Cinderella, who is a guard of the eggs. If we check the nesting boxes after they have gone into the coop to roost, she will rush over there and peck at our hands as we are checking for eggs. This makes it exciting, let me tell you. 🙂 Hearing her run over to the boxes reminds me of the velociraptors in the kitchen in Jurrasic Park.
The egg production, as I said, was up a little this week. Not much though. Here are the numbers:
- Total eggs: 32
- Rhode Island Red: 20
- Easter Egger: 12
Not too bad.
This week we are planning on getting two more hens: Welsummers. You know what a Welsummer Rooster looks like, and you may not even know it. Cornelious, the Kellog’s Corn Flake rooster, is a Welsummer rooster. Anyhow, they are supposed to be excellent, friendly birds that are intelligent and great foragers. Most of all, they lay a very dark brown egg. I can’t wait!
Posted by Steve On March 2, 2015
Will this winter ever end‽ The bitter cold temperatures have continued this week, though they have been sandwiched between some warmer days. That means we have had some rain, some melting, some freezing, some snow – sheesh. While some of the country is used to many days of snow-covered ground, we aren’t here in western Kentucky. What makes this worse is that it seems we are going to have a wet few weeks now, which will make the ground an absolute mess. Candidly, this makes me thankful I have went with the Back to Eden Garden type this year. Those wood chips are going to be a lot easier to work with than mud, that is for sure.
The two things I have worked on this week is finalizing what seeds and plants I need for the spring and making homemade yogurt for the first time. I’ll spend much of this post on the latter of the two. The seed ordering had to be done though – we are nearing time to start planting peas and other spring crops, yet with the snow on the ground it isn’t happening just yet. Perhaps this week I can get some seeds out. I could probably wait up to two weeks and still be okay, but it is time.
Now, on to yogurt making!
This is something I have wanted to try for a while, but I have just been a little intimidated by doing something new like this. However, I am eating clean again, which for me is very low carbohydrate. This means I am avoiding anything low fat, and most storebought yogurt is just that – low fat. So, I decided to make some of my own. Basically, the recipe that I used is as follows:
While some would say it is not required, it is advised that all utinsils you are using to make yogurt be boiled beforehand and allowed to air (or oven) dry. This is to reduce the chance that other bacteria will get into your yogurt mix, thereby ruining it.
- 1 quart of milk (or substitute – see below)
- 1/4 cup of a plain commercial yogurt that contains live cultures (I used Dannon)
Heat the 1 quart of milk to 185° F, constantly stirring. Once it reaches 185° F, remove it from the heat. Some folks say you can speed cool this by placing a container with the heated milk in cool water, but others say to let it cool on its own. Once it reaches 100° F, you can add the yogurt. I recommend two things though. Wait until it cools to room temperature. This leaves no room for error. If your milk it too hot, it kills the live cultures in the yogurt. Second, I mixed the yogurt in with some of the milk, 1/2 cup, before mixing it into all of it. It seems to help it mix better.
Once you have mixed the yogurt with a small amount of the room temperature milk you just heated, then mix it in with the rest of the pan. Stir well. Now, pour the mix into a container (I used 1 quart canning jars), cover the jars (I used plastic wrap and a rubber band to hold it on), and place them in a place to allow the cultures to grow. This could be in an oven with just the oven light on, or you could use a yogurt maker. I chose to put them in our Excalibur Dehydrator on 100° F. The key is keeping it between 95° F and 110° F. Outside of that range it may not work.
The yogurt is technically done after 8 hours, but you can let it continue to ferment for up to 24 hours. Going longer than 24 hours is playing with fire though, as the bacteria will run out of food (sugar) soon after that and begin to die. Why would you choose a shorter or a longer time? The longer it ferments, the more tart and thick it will be. It also will have less sugar left, as the bacteria continue to eat the sugar until it is all gone, at which time the bacteria die. Ideally, I am trying to achieve just this: as little sugar as possible. As such, I let mine cook for 24 hours.
Once you remove the yogurt, place it in the refrigerator to cool and thicken. It may or may not be as thick as what you get in the grocery store, as most of the grocery store yogurts have thickening agents added. You can do this too with pectin or another thickener. I chose to not do this.
Now, let’s share some pics and I will share what I did different than noted above.
First off, I made three batches. Now one thing to realize is that you can make yogurt with many things, it doesn’t have to be just milk. As long as it contains sugar, the bacteria will grow. The three mixes I chose are as follows:
- three cups of coconut milk and one cup of heavy cream
- two cups of coconut milk and two cups of heavy cream
- one cup of heavy cream and three cups of 2% milk
Technically, if you just use heavy cream, you will end up with sour cream, but I wanted some of the thickening that the heavy cream would provide.
So, I started with these two ingredients for the first two batches:
Once mixed together, this stuff looked pretty nasty. 😀
While cooking, I used a candy thermometer along with constant stirring to be sure it didn’t stick and that the temperature stayed correct:
Once it was done, I place the jars into the dehydrator to ferment:
The milk and heavy cream ended up being the most thick – check this out!
That is not a table behind the yogurt – it is a door! That is being held sideways! It smelled somewhat of cream cheese.
The other two looked good too, though the one made with the most coconut milk is the most thin, and it could not be held sideways at all.
Candidly, it was milkshake thick. Here is the one with half coconut milk and half heavy cream:
Finally, here is a jar held normally:
Okay, I am sure you are all interested in how it tastes. I decided to do a taste testing video for you. Here goes: