Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Homestead Tips on Tuesday: Tick facts and tips

Recently the oldest country kid went to visit his grandparents for a few days..... and guess what he brought home with him? A tick. I know, most of you just got the heebie-jeebies, but breath, be brave, we got through it and so can you!

First, let's learn a little bit about ticks...... Ticks are scientifically classified as Arachnida, which means they are related to spiders. No wonder they give people the creeps! A tick's life cycle includes eggs, larvae, nymphs, and adult. The larvae, nymphs, and adults all need blood meals to survive. Although ticks will die if they don't feed, many species can live up to a year or more without a meal. Usually the female adult is the one causing the most bites, as males usually die after mating.

Ticks do not jump or fly, they simply reach out with their legs and grab or crawl onto a host (aka you or an animal.) Folks who walk through grassy and wooded areas are at higher risk for tick bites. Guess what? The oldest country kid had been playing in the woods. Ticks are most active from April through September, but I was hoping with the extremely hard winter we had this year their numbers would be down.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Easter Bunny Tail Dinner Rolls

Easter is a time of year, that regardless of religious preference, it seems everyone always sits down to a nice family meal. We usually have ham and fixings along with a loaf of my homemade bread. But this year I wanted to spice it up a bit. Oh sure, everyone loves my bread, but it is the same thing at every big family meal. So this year I am whipping up dinner rolls! Now I could just shape them into ball form, but then where is the fun in that!?!?! It's dough, I can make it look anyway I want...... So I went with the rear view of a bunny!!

1/2 Cup warm water
1/2 Cup warm milk
1 egg 
1/3 Cup softened butter
1/3 Cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 3/4-4 Cups of flour
1 package of dry yeast ( 2 1/4 teaspoons)

I started by dissolving my yeast in the water and sugar. I let it set for a few minutes to get going before adding in the rest of the ingredients. I used freshly milled wheat flour in my rolls, but you can use store bought flour. Once it was combined (not too sticky) I turned it out on the counter and kneaded it a little. I then divided the dough into equal balls. I could have stopped here and just baked them up, but come on, I have kids and creativity!

The oldest country kid has baked with me for some time, but this was the littlest country kids first time helping. My oldest easily formed the bunny rolls. You take a small pinch of dough to form the tail. Next you roll out some dough like a snake (just like playing with Play-doh.) Wrap the snake around the tail, give it a twist, bend the tips for ears and you have the rear view of a bunny!! Now the littlest country kid (just turned two) was not as capable in the kitchen. He tried with all his heart to roll a snake but his pressure control needs a little more development.

Once you have formed all your bunnies, it is time to place them on a greased cookie sheet and let them rise for an hour. Once they have doubled in size it is time to bake them at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

This is a great kitchen project for young bakers. You can use it to teach them about yeast, how to measure, and as an art project. Shhh, just don't tell them they are leaning! These adorable dinner rolls will add the perfect touch of whimsy to you Easter dinner. And imagine the pride your children will have when everyone learns they helped make them!!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Perfect Baked Tators and toppings

This is both sad and slightly embarrassing..... I did not bake a potato till I was 40. No seriously, I just never did. I asked people how and always got "just pop it in the oven till it is done." Ummm gee can you be any less specific!?!?

So I took it upon myself to figure it out because, well, I wanted to have a baked potato bar night on the menu rotation. So after much reading, deep consideration and a few trials, I am proud to say, I know how to make the perfect baked potato for my toppings! And it does take a little more then "just pop it in the oven." Not much more mind you, but there are a few trick and tips to it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring Fling Giveaway: King Arthur Flour

If you have been reading my blog or following my Facebook page for any length of time, you will know, I love to bake.... a lot!! That is why I am delighted that today's Spring Fling Giveaway spotlight is on King Arthur Flour!

America’s oldest flour company, King Arthur Flour, was founded in Boston in 1790.  What started as a company providing high quality flour, has grown into an employee owned national baking resource. Today, King Arthur Flour not only provides bakers with quality products, but they provide support, classes and answers to all your baking questions. You can use their online resources, catch one of their traveling baking demos or (my dream trip someday) visit their Baking Education Center in Norwich, Vermont!

King Arthur Flour is also committed to communities and future bakers with their Learn Bake Share Program. This wonderful program goes into schools, teach children how to make bread and helps them share it with their community. I think it is wonderful that they are so committed to not only keeping the tradition of making bread alive, but that they encourage these young bakers to full fill a need in their community.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Spring Fling Giveaway: Lally Broch Farm

During your journey through life, sometimes you get the chance to cross paths with truly amazing people. For me, one of those people is Sonja from Lally Broch Farm. She is a kind hearted soul who is on a mission to provide sustainable food and handmade products for her family and yours.

She is a mother from Maine who uses what she has from her farm to make wonderful things like soaps and jewelry. Yes, I said jewelry, from a farm! Lally Broch Farm is home to some very special hens. You see those hens lay eggs, which Sonja turns into works of art, eggshell art. Their saying is "Happy Hens Make Lovely Jewelry." And it is true! Her pieces are treasured by the folks who own them. How do I know? I own a piece!!! 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring Fling Giveaway: Bainbridge Farm Goods

What started as a colorful way to spruce up their own property, quickly caught the eyes of others and Bainbridge Farm Goods was born! We are so excited to have them as today's Spring Fling Giveaway spotlight! Their beautiful collection of signs has something for backyard farmer, dog lover, horse enthusiast, bee keeper and more

Bainbridge Farm Goods signs are built for fun and built to last! Their signs are waterproof, UV resistant and mounted on heavy duty aluminum -think street sign durability! All of their products are all proudly made in the USA on Bainbridge Island, Washington. And they are made with American made materials!

I love their signs and was so excited when they agreed to join the Spring Fling Giveaway. But then it got even better..... because they said the winner could pick ANY sign they wanted!!! Talk about generous! I don't know about you, but they have so many wonderful signs, I don't know which one I would pick. Seriously the choices.... well go look at their signs! I know for me, it would be so very hard to pick just one! So if anyone is looking to buy me a gift, hint, hint, you can't go wrong with Bainbridge Farm Goods!!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spring Fling Giveaway: Etched Expressions

Today's Spring Fling Giveaway spotlight shines close to home with Etched Expressions. Why does it shine close to home? Because the artist behind these hand crafted etched items is a cousin of mine! A busy mom of three littles and a college student, she works from home to design and create etched items and custom orders.

After peddling her wears at local events, she has finally joined the world of social media with her newly created Facebook page.  She has also set up an Esty shop so folks near and far can purchase her etched creations. She has generously offered to giveaway this cute 11" by 14" "Welcome to our farm" mirror to one of you lucky folks!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Spring Fling Giveaway: Timber Creak Farm

Today's Spring Fling Giveaway spotlight is another wonderful woman I have had the pleasure of meeting through blogging, Janet from Timber Creek Farms. Her blog is all about small scale farming, homestead living, whole foods, gardening, sustainable living, livestock, chickens, raising fiber producing animals, photography, and much more. Let me tell you, she is a busy woman!!!

And her Facebook page for Timber Creek Farms is a delight to follow. I love all the amazing photos she shares of her critters. And yes, yes I do have cow envy! And her pigs are just too stinking cute!! Janet is such a warm hearted and giving person. And she wanted to give all of you the chance to win one of her favorite books, "Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less)" and two adorable ducky statues. When I asked Janet why this book she said:

Friday, April 4, 2014

Spring Fling Giveaway: Louise's Country Closet

Often mistaken for a large company, Mandy and her mom, Brenda, are the heart and soul of Louise's Country Closet, today's Spring Fling Giveaway spotlight. They started their business out of a need.... for chicken saddles. If you have hens, you know how rough a rooster can be on them during mating. But what started as a saddle company has grow beyond their wildest dreams!

When they are not taking care of orders (which is most of the day and night) they are busy coming up with new ideas for products. Their goal is to "Provide quality products without breaking the bank." I have been a customer of theirs and I can say without a doubt, they mean it! They have even gone above and beyond when I approached them about making a rabbit diaper for our Flemish Giant. No bunny butt that big had been ordered before! But without batting an eye, they took her measurements and sent a perfect pair of bunny britches!!!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spring Fling Giveaway: Green Circle Grove

Today's Spring Fling Giveaway spotlight is on Green Circle Grove. One of my favorite things about blogging this past year has been the amazing folks I have had the pleasure to "meet." One of these lovely women is Meredith, from Green Circle Grove. When she is not writing on her blog, or visiting with followers on Facebook, she is sewing (among other things. Many, many other things. She is a busy lady!)

She and a friend, Kristen, are wonderful artists. They work out of their homes and attend local craft fairs and festivals. And lucky for those of us who don't live in Upstate New York, they have an Etsy shop with all their lovely wears!