Sunday, January 17, 2016

Life on The Farmstead

Did I mention I got more chickens?

Their names are "Chicken", "Chick", "Girly", "Ol' Gal", "Back it up, Jack", "Don't peck me, butthead", etc.
LOL, I still suck at naming animals. Besides, I can't tell most of them apart.

From two, to eighteen.

I started with the first two - to see if I could even keep chickens alive, lol - then Cousin Joe gave me six pullets, young chickens not yet laying.
He said they wouldn't start laying until next Spring, but some of them did start laying before time change, or whenever the days started getting a lot shorter.

When the days started getting a lot shorter, Cousin Joe's chickens quit laying, and he decided to scale down his chicken crop (but he won't kill and eat them, so he was just going to give them away), anyhoo, I ended up with ten more.

A lady in one of the Chicken Care groups I'm in posted about how she added a string of Christmas lights in her coop, on a timer set so they come on a few hours before sunrise, and this extends the chicken's "day"light hours so they keep laying through the Winter.

So off to Walmart I went and got a couple strings of mini-lights and a timer, and brought it home and fixed it all up, and it worked.
I get anywhere from 6 to 9 eggs a day, and on some occasions 10, 11, and one day they gave me a full dozen.

Not to shabby for some being young, and it being Winter. Can't complain!

Mom bought too many taters for Christmas cooking, so I brought the extra home and cut them up into fries and froze them.

I had been going to dehydrate them, but I panicked.
If you don't blanch potatoes enough, they turn black in the dehydrator.

I thought mine were blanched enough, but what if they weren't? Wouldn't know until it was too late.
They say the black doesn't taste bad, but I prefer to not eat black colored potatoes.

I mentioned in my last post that Dad sent my home with another load of apples.

Most were Grannie Smith's, which I dehydrated.

There were also some Arkansas Black's, which are a sweet and tart apple, really good eating apple. I had been going to dehydrate them also, but for some reason I can't remember now, I decided to make apple sauce out those.

I peeled and cut out the core/seeds for this apple sauce so it would look prettier than the apple sauce I squeeze through my Foley Mill.
I boiled the apples down in a little water, then tasted it to see how much sugar it might need, and to my surprise, it didn't need any.  It was delicious just like it was.

While I had been looking on the internet for apple recipes, I came across an interesting looking idea of adding Red Hots cinnamon candy to applesauce.

I had done that with some jelly I made earlier, and it turned out good, so I decided to give it a go, and tossed a couple handfuls of Red Hots into the pot.

The crazy thing is, it smells like Red Hots cinnamon candies, but still tastes like apple sauce.
Sweet, and no burn whatsoever.

As I've been canning new stuff this Season, I see I still have old stock left, especially a good bit of jams and jellies - and I have several gallons of apple scraps in the freezer still waiting to made into more jelly.

As load after load of apples dried in the dehydrator, I wondered, can you dehydrate jelly? Would that turn into fruit leather like regular fruit?

First I read no, the sugar in it would crystalize, but then I read where some had mixed jams/jellies with apple sauce and dried it and it came out great.

As it happened, I had a few jars of older stock apple sauce on the shelves, too. 
The discoloration is caused by normal oxidation and (supposedly) doesn't affect the taste...but to finicky eaters minds', it's no good, so I figured it would be good to use in this experiment.
(I did taste it to make sure it wasn't nasty or rancid tasting, and sure enough, it tastes like plain ol' apple sauce.)

I think I mixed a pint of apple sauce with a half pint of jelly, but I'd have to re-check to be sure.

Mixed it up good.

This was plum jelly mixed with apple sauce, spread on Parchment paper,

Blackberry jelly mixed with apple sauce,
Ryan didn't love the texture with the seeds still in it, but this one turned out to be my Aunt's and John's favorite. They are already gone now. 

And I had some older stock Apple Butter I decided to go ahead and dehydrate, too, since they ate up my last batch already. This was some my Mom had made. She apparently uses a lot more spices in hers than I do in mine.

Apple-Plum Fruit Leather,

Rolled and cut into roll-ups,

When my work was done (it still isn't done) I ended up with several gallons of dried Grannie Smith apples, 5 pints Cinnamon candy apple sauce, and bags and bags of fruit-leather-roll-ups.

I almost forgot!
The last batch of apples I peeled/cored, I decided I had enough apple scraps for jelly-making in the freezer, so I'd do another batch of Cider Vinegar.

It's brewing under my dining room table.

I likely won't be sharing my dried apples out very much, but I've got a ton of apple scraps in the freezer to make into jellies and apple sauce/butter/leather,

Plus, we're not real big apple sauce eaters.
I read you can use apple sauce in place of eggs or oil in baking, but I haven't tried that out yet.
Besides, I added cinnamon candies to it so I'm not sure if that would affect the taste of cake or something.

And speaking of eggs, those are piling up around here, too.
Not that I'm complaining, but,
I just thought between the extra eggs, and home made jellies and fruit leather, I could try selling the extra and re-coup a little of the money it costs raising chickens and the sugar and Sure-Jell for jelly-making.

I joked one time, calling us "Frawg farm", which I really didn't like that much.
So I thought and thought and thought and thought and thought and....finally I settled on "Bizzy Bee Farmstead" or farmlet.

My first name, Melissa, relates to the Honey Bee in Greek Mythology, so I thought that was suitable and kindly catchy.

I have a Facebook page here: .

Not much there yet, but I'm working on getting some more added.
Got to take pictures. You know, good pictures.
You probably also know, I suck at taking pictures.
 I don't know why I can't take better pictures. It's not fair. I do try, despite how it looks.
Ah well.

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