German Style Pork Hocks

When I think pork hock, or any knuckle/bone cut for that matter, I think soup. Last weekend Mike suggested pork hock for supper but not in soup. Apparently the German restaurant south of town makes them in a fashion other than soup. So I did a little searching. Everything I found was pretty basic, nothing too exciting. So as usual I decided to do my own thing.

I kept it basic as the other recipes I found did. I also added sauerkraut,  and an apple for a bit of slight sweetness to counter to kraut just a little.

Pork Hock http://wildlfowerfarm.org

I know it’s not the most beautiful picture you’ve seen, but it’s a pork hock in sauerkraut. What did you expect? I can assure you it tastes really good despite my photography.

I served this with mashed potatoes, pork gravy and corn. Of course, we all dished our plates in the typical “mashed potato meal” way… mashed potatoes, topped with corn, then kraut, followed by meat, then gravy and before it was even tasted, add some salt and pepper. I used to be very particular about my food touching, I don’t know what has happened over the years but I now load my potatoes just like the rest of the family. (and I’m eating sauerkraut, something must have broke…)

German Pork Hock
1-2 ea.   Pork Hock
2 ea.   Celery Stick
Carrots, same amount as celery
1 ea.    Yellow Onion
1 ea.    Apple, peeled and cored
2 ea.    Garlic Cloves
1 ea.    Bay Leaf
Salt and Pepper

Roughly chop everything except the bay leaf and pork. Place all the ingredients, including pork and leaf in a cast iron stock pot. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer for 2-3 hours.

Drain the cooking liquid and reserve it.

Add:
1 qt.    Sauerkraut

Place the pot in the oven and bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Basting as needed with the reserved liquid.

Use the remaining liquid to make a gravy if desired.

Serve over mashed potatoes.

 

The Chicken Coop Smells Like Mustard

It’s been a week now after putting in a scratch block, hanging a scratch brick when the block was about gone, everyday outside time and blocking off the laying box that had the most broken eggs, the girls are still pecking and eating eggs. Averaging six a day. We had caught Wilma in the act and hoped it was just her, as the majority of broken eggs were in her box. I put her in her own pen for a day and there was no change, so she rejoined the flock late in the afternoon the same day.

I also gave them a separate dish of oyster shells, just in case. I know dietary changes won’t fix a possible deficiency over night. I am impatient. I was hoping that after a week there would be some noticeable change. The last two days egg production has been unusually down. I will take some responsibility for that, messing with their routine and everything is bound to throw them off some. The egg eating has not slowed down at all and is continued in every box as well.

It was time for “Operation Mustard Egg”.

From what I understand chickens do not like mustard, which it too bad because it’s pretty good with eggs, and for how many they eat they might as well. But they don’t and I planned to use this against them. I took 6 eggs that had been pecked but not yet eaten and removed the insides. Like a Ukrainian egg but not nearly as perfect or pretty. I then filled each egg with yellow mustard.

The chicken light turns on at 6:30 am. I finished my cow chores shortly there after and headed to the coop. I placed one mustard bomb in each box. The hole facing back so they wouldn’t notice. I finished the chicken chores as usual and went back to the house. A few hours later, I went back to the coop to collect the eggs so far, which was comparatively dismal to days prior. The first thing I noticed when I opened the door was the place smelled like mustard. I knew at least one had fallen for the bait.

Mustard Bomb Eggs http://wildflowerfarm.org

In fact a few must have gotten it because each mustard egg was pecked, smashed and uneaten. The other eggs that had been laid so far that morning had some mustard on them but were not pecked. I removed the eggs and place a golf ball in each box. They can they peck the golf ball to their little hearts content until they figure out that what is in the boxes are no longer edible.

At the end of the day there were no eggs pecked, aside from the mustard ones and production was back up to the normal two dozen. Now to see what today brings.

** Note** If you don’t use a pre-pecked egg, remove the “innards” as you would a Ukrainian egg, fill with mustard and seal the egg with a little paraffin wax. I didn’t wax mine because the beak holes were much too big.

The Chicken Brick

After the problems we’ve been having in the coop this winter, I’ve been working get them fixed so we don’t loose any birds and put a stop to the egg loss as well. I made some feed adjustments; more oyster shells and a few grits on the side. Earlier we purchased a scratch block that has helped the boredom too. Since then I have came up with this recipe for my own scratch block of sorts.

chicken brick

The latest batch I made in 10 inch round cake pans and put a hole in the mixture so I could hang it in the coop. Make the girls put a little more effort into it.

Chicken Brick
6 ea.     Eggs (and shells)
2 c.       Crushed Egg Shell or Oyster Shells or Combination of
1 c.       Apple Sauce
2 tsp.    Cinnamon
1 c.       Molasses
3 c.       Old Fashioned Oats, uncooked
4 c.       Scratch Grain
5 c.       Feather Fixer Pellets
3 tbsp.  Diatomaceous Earth

Place the eggs and egg shells in a blender and process until the shells are well crushed. Place the egg/shell mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir everything until it is well combined. I use my hands for this, they work better than a spoon.

Using 2, 10inch cake pans or any pan of your choice, grease the pans and divide the mixture between the pans (I keep mine about 2 inches thick in any pan). If you wish to hang the “brick” poke a hole in it with your finger.

Bake the “bricks” at 325 degrees for 2 hours. Allow them to cool completely before removing them from the pans.

Place them in the coop and let the chickens enjoy!

 

Tales of the Pregnant Farmer – The Christmas Party Dilemma

I pretty much dread going out in public when I’m pregnant. I’m not one of those lovely, glowing pregnant mothers. Even with my best effort, I tend to look as if I just fell out the “rag bag”, looking like a “rag-a-muffin” as my mother would put it. There’s just nothing lovely about it. When I got the invitation to the company Christmas party I was planning to skip it. I showed the invite to my husband, to which he replied “I’ll have the prime rib.” I guess we will be going to the party.

I then go into a slight panic mode. I have been unbuttoning my pants to sit down since the county fair. There are no appropriate “dress clothes” (new button up shirts and jeans with the “bling”) in my closet that I could even fake fitting at this point. Yes, that is pretty much my whole wardrobe- button-up shirt, sweatshirt and jeans. It’s just easier. After some fretting I decided to fork over a few bucks and went to a new second hand store in town to find something to wear. (I’m not going to fit into this for too long and see no point in spending on something new for one event.)

I found a very nice and brand new, black and white dress. Perfect. Eight bucks and it was mine. I was calmed, I had found something to wear. About a week later I was thinking about the dress. It’s winter in northern Minnesota. It’s cold in the winter. I wear jeans year round. These knobby knees are white.

White, white, white.

Hmm.

Panic!

Ok, I used to be in roller derby and am not able to part with my gear or clothes yet. I had some tights and leggings in that stuff. As I’m rummaging through everything, hot pink tights, neon blue tights, yes and few wadded up black pieces.

Fishnets.

Great! There are few places fishnets are appropriate and a Christmas party for the local telephone company is not one of them. Also, these fit when I was in roller derby… long before the county fair. I’m pretty sure if I could get them on, my legs would look like ham.

ham - wildflowerfarm.orgYou know, ham.

“I was hungry until I got in the buffet line behind her. I think I’m good now though.”

Ok, I can find some cheap leggings.

Whew!

Shoes… Crap. I have brown work boots, brown and green work boots, hunting boots and brown wedding boots. Those match black. Ugh! Back to the dark depths of the closet.

Candy apple red high heals, even higher shiny black high heals and even taller black high heals.

Great! Just what every pregnant women wants to try to squeeze her “end of the day swollen feet” into; a pair of runway heals.

Snow boots it is!

Ok maybe not. I planned to attempt to stuff my swollen feet into the black high heals, with the addition of some leg warmers to cover the cankles.

Oh dear lord, I’m glad this only comes around once a year.

I got home from work the night of the party, did the barn chores and put on the nicest pair of almost too small jeans, the newest button up shirt that fit, my favorite string of peals and called it good.

Rag-a-muffin. (sigh) Maybe I will give the other “get up” a try for Christmas Eve mass… when I have all day to prepare.

 

The New Hay Feeder

Hay Feeder http://wildflowerfarm.org

The chickens are pretty well set for the winter, we have been working to get the heat to humidity ratio figured out for the coop, but otherwise the girls are doing well. Egg production has slowly been picking up. The cows on the other hand have still needed a little work. By most standards they are ready for winter, but of course I feel they need that extra little bit. This keeps my husband and dad busy, not that they don’t have plenty of their own stuff to work on.

The milking station that I mentioned previously should be the simplest task and the last for the season.

Last a few Sunday’s ago, the project was building a hay feeder for in the barn. I found some plans here: http://uglydogsfarm.blogspot.com/2011/01/sheep-feeder-design.html and gave them to my husband. He’s so handy. He made a materials list and went to town. They made a couple adjustments to the plans height and some board spacing. It turned out really well.

In my own defense, I will say, I didn’t just hand him the plans and say “Get to work”, while I sat in the house and drank coffee. While they were busy building, I was busy in the barn. I cleaned out all the hay that the ladies had been using for bedding, which was more than I realized. I knew they were wasting hay, but my goodness. Ugh. I clean the barn every morning as it is, but this was a “Mom is coming to visit” kind of clean. I didn’t get water hauled before church, so I got that done as well. Then I was off to the chicken coop. That needed it’s weekly cleaning, remove the old shavings, put in the new, clean the laying boxes, clean the waterer really well, and so on.

Once the new feeder was in place and filled with that day’s hay, I put down fresh straw for bedding. It looked so nice! Two mornings later, I went out to do morning chores and the feeder was tipped over. Twice this happened. That lovely feeder is heavy to tip up and move back into place by yourself.

We figured out that the vertical boards are spaced just far enough apart to allow the cows to put their whole through. This would be fine, but it they get startled their horns keep them stuck in there. I assume this is what has tipped the feeder.

With a little adjusting of the boards, they are now able to eat without getting their horns caught and everyone is happy.  I also ratchet strapped it to the fence, just in case.

Tales of the Pregnant Farmer- Preface

Yes, pregnant. 31 weeks now. We never made a “real” announcement; if it happened to come up in conversation it was mentioned otherwise not. Not that we are not excited, but it’s another part of life and so it goes. For the most part I keep my complaining to myself. Really, who want to hear someone wine and complain for nine months about things that really can’t be fixed before then?

One Sunday (before Elvis was born) after church we were talking about how Lucy “gets after” Wheezy with her horns to get the first of that mornings hay or grain treat. My husband said “it must be the pregnancy hormones… I know how she (Wheezy) feels. I eat my meals upstairs.” (upstairs at our house is two bedrooms and a bathroom) This got a good laugh out of everyone.

I think he was kidding…

I know he was kidding. His story changes too, last time he said he ate in the basement (which is storage/root cellar/wood furnace). But I didn’t think I was “Lucy crabby”. Geez.

http://wildflowerfarm.org

Anyway just because I am pregnant doesn’t mean anything stops or slows down around here. The cows still need water and hay, as well as the dogs, cat and chickens. Well, not everyone eats hay but they all want to be fed and to get some attention. Oh yeah, there’s the little boy and my husband too. Some how everything gets done by the end of the day. As much as I’d like to just sit (or take a nap) there’s no time for such nonsense. It just takes me a little longer to get from here to there and at times, I’m sure it’s been quite a show along the way (like me carrying a calf across the summer pasture to the corral gate).

I will share a couple stories in the near future…

 

Little Boy Bars – A cross between Lara Bars and granola bars

I really like Lara Bars as well as granola bars so does the little boy. Rather than buying them I have started to make a version of them at home. They contain less sugar and I can add or subtract ingredients to get different flavors. Below is the basic recipe that I came up with. They were a hit with the little boy and much less expensive than the store bought ones.

Little Boy Bars - Wildflowerfarm.org

I have started to make a couple batches of these at a time and freeze them. That way I can just take out a couple at a time. He has been hooked on “cookies” lately and if I call these a cookie and keep them in the cookie jar, he doesn’t think twice that they aren’t a cookie per-say.

Little Boy Bars
2 ea.         Eggs
1/2 c.        Raisins
1/2 c.        Figs
1/2 tsp.     Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp.      Cinnamon
Pinch         Kosher Salt
1 tbsp.       Molasses
2 tbsp.       Honey
1/3 c.         Natural Peanut Butter
1 c.            Unsweetened Coconut
1/4 c.         Ground Flax Seed
1 c.            Old Fashioned Oats

In a food processor, blend the coconut, flax, and oats, just until they are evenly chopped. Set the oat mixture aside. Again in the food processor, place the remaining ingredients and blend until the raisins and figs are well-chopped. Combine the wet and dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper. Press the dough into the pan.
Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Allow the bars to cool before cutting.

Back to the Egg Eater…

There have been a lot of talk about the cows lately and now the chickens are taking the spotlight.

Chicken http://wildflowerfarm.org

We have a chicken eating the eggs in the nesting boxes. To the point that I am having to make several trips to the coop in the morning to collect eggs and even then, we loose a handful because they have been so damaged. My disturbing them more often can cause problems too. Mike caught Wilma doing it once and then a caught two others pecking. This tells me that it’s not just one broody bird. There is something more going on and I shouldn’t sharpen the ax just yet.

A few of the most common reasons chickens will peck and eat eggs are:
- Lacking something in their diet, commonly calcium, protein or vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency can also cause the birds to loose their feathers and poor feather regrowth as well as cannibalism.
-Lacking Clean Water can cause birds to peck open eggs to rehydrate.
Winter boredom in the north can be a big problem as well. The birds were used to roaming around outside, pecking the ground, eating fresh greens and bugs. Winter came over night this year and did not give the girls any time to adjust to the cold or indoor living.

Just by looking at a couple common reasons, I have a starting point. I know they have clean water. I am out there every morning and my husband checks on them at night. We both make sure the water stays clean and full. It did freeze in the tray one night. From then on we have a light bulb in the cinder block the waterer sits on. This has prevented and further freezing.

The feed they are getting is a high quality layer feed that is made to order at the local feed store in town. It’s “real” feed, meaning I can see the chopped up grains that it is comprised of and it has oyster shells mixed in. However, I do find a lot of it wasted on the floor since the girls have been stuck inside.  Also ever since Lucifer removed everyone’s tail feathers, most of them have grown back but there are a few birds that can’t seem to fill in their rear. The rooster included; poor guy still only has one mangy looking tail feather.

That being said, they may need some extra vitamin D, that, I can put in their feed by means of Cod Liver Oil. Mike had been eyeing the scratch blocks at the farm and feed store for a while. He was pretty excited to pick one of those up. That will serve more than one purpose too. The block has extra protein for the birds and provides some entertainment.  I have been working on making something of the sort in which I have added crushed eggs shells for added calcium. That project will be shared later. They have also been given a separate container for oyster shells. This way they can get what they need without it settling in the feed or falling to the floor uneaten.

Then the winter boredom I’m sure is a factor as well. We have a very bold and rowdy bunch of birds; more so than any bunch I’ve ever had. The Wyandotte’s especially do not like to spend nearly this much time inside.  I don’t have time to go  out and play chicken Bingo everyday so for now the scratch block will do. It’s always got a crowd around it. I have also seen people have hung a head of lettuce for the birds to peck at and play tether ball with. I might hang a head of cabbage when the block quiets down.

That’s where we are starting. After a week or so I will reevaluate and go from there.

A Quick Barn Update

I have spent the last week and a half trying to paint the kitchen, going from a sea-foam green and wall paper to a warm, buttery yellow. The can said “Paint and Primer in One”.

Perfect! Only two coats. I could have the whole thing done in two days…

Seven coats later, it’s finally done. That being said, there has been nothing note worthy going on in the house, cooking, laundry and painting. It looks like a disaster at the moment.

The barn is still where most of the action is and even then it’s gotten quiet with the cold weather and arrival of Elvis.

I have yet to figure out who the Egg Eating Clucker is. I’ve been making a few extra trips to the coop to see. This has also spurred me into coming up with some sort of scratch grain pecking block that will include some extra calcium and such. If it turns out and works maybe that will cure the problem so I don’t have to remove the bird.

http://wildflowerfarm.org

Elvis is doing really well. Feeding well and seems like a happy little guy. He always comes over and rubs his head on my leg, looking for some scratching and attention. It’s cute for now… in about 500 lbs. it might not be.

http://wildflowerfarm.org

Lucy looks so skinny now. She’s healthy just not pregnant. She was a little cow before and now she looks really small!

Louise (Wheezy) is still a jumpy little thing. She has more spunk than most cows I’ve seen.

I also figured out why I have been having such a hard time keeping my straw bales nice and neat. Someone has been eating them through the fence!

Wheezy - http://wildflowerfarm.org

“Wasn’t me…” -Wheezy

wheezy- http://wildflowerfarm.org

“Ok, so maybe it was…”- Wheezy