Farm to Fork, Recipes, Uncategorized

Where You Can Buy Flour, Now!

Can’t find flour at the store?  I have found mills all over the US, open, accepting orders online, and shipping to customers!  They’re busy, but as of yesterday every store on the list I’m giving you has flour in stock!  Lots have amazing artisan varieties and whole grains as well as basic flours.  Some even have yeast!

Remember that “amber waves of grain” part about America??  Our nation is blanketed in fields of wheat.  Grocery stores may not have flour right now, but there is lots of it out there!  This is our chance to support farmers and local businesses directly, while getting the ingredients we need.
We shelter alone, but we stand together.  Stay farm-strong my friends. ❤️

Artisan Flour Mills
Uncategorized

Where to Find Local Flours!

Yesterday I explained a great trick I know of to make a little bit of store bought yeast last a loooooong way.  With just a teaspoon of the store-bought stuff, you can make your own almost foolproof starter, which you can use instead of yeast, for years to come!

But then, EVERYONE said there is no flour to be found in stores!!  Oh my gosh!!!  These are crazy times we’re living in.  I never dreamed we’d experience shortages like this.  Part of me is completely freaking out.  But these times are also presenting us with opportunities:  opportunities to spend more time with our family, to learn to do things again like baking bread, and to support small local businesses.

I was able to order flour from a local mill for a very reasonable price, and have it shipped to my home.  The flour is amazing!!!  It makes a crunchy, deep colored, crust; big open bubbles, and a rich, malty flavor.  With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of local mills across the United States which are selling flour.  Each of the sources I’ve listed are open for business now, have flour in stock, and are shipping, as of today.  Some of them even have yeast!

Our nation is blanketed in fields of wheat.  We just need to go back to the farmers and the mills to find it.  We can support farmers, small businesses, and get the staples we need, to make it through this.  Check out my list, to find a source near you.  We are alone, together.

Stay farm-strong my friends. ❤️

With love,
Katy

Artisan Flour Mills

 

 

Uncategorized

Running Out of Baking Yeast?

I hear that stores are selling out of yeast now! Apparently the whole country has started baking bread at home, which is actually kind of awesome!!  Did you know you don’t need store-bought yeast?? If you have just a little bit of store-bought yeast left, you can make your own homemade starter, really easily. You’ll never have to buy yeast again, or at least this will get you through until it’s available to buy again!  Sourdough starter is basically your own yeast, growing in flour and water. But starter can be tricky to get going. Or at least that’s what everyone says. I believed it! I spent months trying, and failing, last year. But I’m here to share a GENIUS, foolproof trick, for starting your own “levain”, or sourdough starter.

Once you get your starter, or “mother”, (I kinda love that!!😂), going, you don’t need store-bought yeast any more. Use half of your starter in your bread dough, feed the other half of your goo more flour and water, and it will be ready again in a few hours. You can use it and feed it every day, or store it in the fridge and feed it once every few days, (i.e. whenever you remember!)

So are you ready for the genius hack??? Here it is: Start your “mother” with a teaspoon of store yeast. You guys!!!! Seriously!!! It’s so genius!!! It’s foolproof!!!

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Mix your precious teaspoon of store-bought yeast with a bit of warm water, maybe even a little sugar if you want to supercharge it. When it starts to foam, mix it with a cup or two of flour and water, equal parts of both. Let your goo sit at room temperature for a day in a large jar – because it will bubble up and double in size.

The next day, use half of it in bread dough, and feed the other half another cup or two of equal flour and water. (Pro tip: water without chlorine works better. If you have chlorinated water, boiling for half an hour purges the chlorine). Keep using or removing half each day, and replacing with more flour and water. The commercial yeast will gradually be eaten and replaced by your local, organic yeast in the flour and air. After about a week it will have stabilized, and need less daily attention. After a couple weeks, your “mother” will have the exact same chemical content as if you had started it completely organically. But you don’t have to go through the phase of waiting for the organic yeast from the air and flour to beat out the other bacterias, worrying if it will succeed, watching it fall flat, or smell like nail polish remover. You get bubbly, yeast-full starter right from the get go. If your “mother” starts to seem flat, you can always feed it a pinch more store yeast to get it going again.

I hope this helps! It’s super simple, even though it took SO many words to explain. 😂 Let me know if you have any questions. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay farm strong.

Barn, Other Animals on the Farm

Peacocks on the Farm

img_6921Four semi-wild peacocks have been spending time on our little farm lately.  Peacocks aren’t indigenous here, but they have lived in the area for decades.  They probably started as somebody’s released pets, but they have thrived here.  They aren’t owned by anyone, but are used to people.  We live in a funny country/city area with old farms still tucked among the cityscape.  Chickens and peacocks roam the neighborhood.  It’s an area people come to, to turn loose animals they can’t keep.  Obviously that’s not responsible animal keeping, I’m not endorsing that!  So far we’ve adopted bunnies, kittens, and our Silkie rooster, all found here.  Sometimes I wish someone would release their nice Lippizan horse, or good tractor, in our area.  I would totally adopt those!

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The males tried very hard to impress our chickens, but the girls weren’t quite sure what to make of their handsome visitors. I think our poor Silkie rooster, who enjoys being the center of attention, felt a bit upstaged!

I’m tempted to put out some feed to try to encourage them to stick around.  I don’t want to leave feed out – I fight rodents tooth and nail already!  And I do worry about bio-security.  We have to be so careful about spreading infections between flocks, it stands to reason that these wild birds could be carriers of harmful diseases to the chickens.  So, of course, there is reason to be careful.

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This one is a young male.  His tail feathers are just growing in, but his coloring is all male.

 

 

 

 

Some people object to peacock screams.  I’ve even heard them likened to the scream of a woman being murdered!  But somehow, I don’t mind it that much.  When I was in college, I lived in the Berkeley hills near a research colony of African hyenas.  The hyenas calls were so human – blood curdling, haunting, and terrifying.  Maybe that’s why the peacocks don’t sound so bad to me.  I actually kind of like the sound.  The kids say it sounds like the peacocks are practicing karate.

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A few years ago, one peahen spent about a year with us.  She would come into our garage when it was cold.  She liked to perch in a tree and watch us through the kitchen window.  She even tried to jump in the minivan when the hatch was open.  We named her Petunia.

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The peacocks are so majestic, and I love having them here.  I hope they’ll stick around!

Uncategorized

Be In the Picture

When I asked for chicken selfies, a sweet reader replied that she is always the one taking the pictures, so didn’t have one of herself.

Dear sister, you must be a mama! Of humans, or other animals, or both! We mamas always put everyone else in front of the camera first, don’t we?

I spent at least a dozen years taking all the pictures, and never being in them. I didn’t love the way I looked. I was tired, either pregnant or nursing, with bags under my eyes, spots on my face, and usually wearing something wrinkled or stained. I focused on making sure the babies were beautifully dressed, not me.

Here’s the thing: over time, I’ve learned that, as moms, we really do need to take care of, and value, ourselves. I’d always heard this. But lately I’ve been trying it out more, in little ways. I started taking time to work out a couple years ago. (Ironically, the fact that it was selfish, made exercise feel more like a luxury, which made me actually enjoy working out, maybe for the first time ever!) I also started giving myself permission to have interests other than the kids. I started writing again. I got chickens. I started this page. Guess what?? It worked. I am happier, and healthier, and probably more interesting, (as long as you like chickens. 😂) I believe we are better mothers, and people, when we take care of, and value, ourselves.

In an unexpected result of my selfish changes, the kids started exercising more too. The whole family became healthier than they were a couple years ago. Plus, the older kids started working out WITH me, which has been a great bonding experience for us. For the younger kids, taking care of the animals, and learning about agriculture, has been such a happy activity, and again, something we have done together.

(But please know that taking care of yourself does not have to only equal exercise! I’m using that as an example, but it can be whatever makes you happy and fulfills you – fixing old cars, raising goats, or studying French cooking! I hated people who told me to work out more – that is not what I am telling you, unless you want to.)

As our kids get older, I hope our daughters will have learned to value themselves, and our sons will grow up to honor the women in their lives, by the example we moms have lived.

But also, we deserve to take care of ourselves, to feel pretty, to feel fulfilled. We deserve to be, and need to be, in the pictures.

I’m in my forties now, I have a few more smile lines than I used to. My hair is usually a mess. Most of the time I can’t be bothered with makeup. This blogging thing has been a huge adjustment for a mom who is used to focusing on everyone else. But I am finding a voice, which I love. And I am trying to force myself to get in the picture, at least sometimes. I want my daughters to grow up believing they should be in the picture too. And I want all the other chicken mamas to know that they are beautiful, and deserve to be in the picture!

Men, go tell your wife, or girlfriend, or daughter, or mother, that she is beautiful, and take her picture! Chicken mamas, take that selfie! Trust me, ten years from now you’ll look at it, and wonder why you didn’t appreciate how great you looked!

Chickens, Farm to Fork, Keeping Chickens

A Completely Understandable Reason Not to Tame Your Chickens

I’ve talked about the reasons it’s a good idea to have tame chickens in your backyard flock. But, like most things in life, it’s not perfectly black and white.

I don’t raise meat chickens. I’m sort of interested in it, and I admire those if you who do. The amazing heritage breed chicken meat I get from Kristy, of Chowdown Farm, at the farmer’s market, is the most delicious I have ever tasted. (She even brought whole, dark-skinned, young roosters to my house, and taught me how to butcher them, for a coq au vin I was making a few years ago!) I can imagine that if you are raising meat chickens, you might prefer not to get to know them quite so well.

My grandparents raised a few cattle for beef, on their gold country ranch, when I was growing up. My grandfather’s barbecue skills were legendary. He sometimes jokingly named a cow “Steak”, and another “Hamburger”. And I will admit to having a few qualms as we ate dinner on the patio overlooking the cows grazing on the rolling golden hills.

But gosh those garlicky, red wine-marinated, steaks, with homemade pesto fettuccine, green beans from the garden, and wild blackberry pie for desert, were among the favorite meals of my life. And I think it would have been a little harder to enjoy the steaks if the cows had been named “Bessie”, and “Clarabelle”, and had come running when I called them!

Home, Things I Like

Chicken Art

Look at this awesome barn art I got from local artist and fellow chicken keeper, Chris Temple. I love it!!!

Here’s a link in case you’d like something like it too: https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/293146914540231

Chickens, Keeping Chickens

Pink Eggs

I know I’ve talked a lot about blue egg layers, but we want ALL the colors in our egg basket, so let’s talk about pink eggs now! Do I have pink layers? Sort of 😊. In this picture of today’s eggs, you can see that some of the are pinkISH. It turns out that pink eggs are more difficult to achieve than blue ones. They are usually, technically, a cream egg, or the result of a whitish bloom over a brown egg. But they can certainly look pink in comparison to the other eggs in your basket!

If you are looking to add a pink layer to your flock, your best bet may be a cream egg layer, which often looks pink next to the brown and white eggs. Some Easter Eggers also lay pinkish eggs. The problem is that if you are scooping up chicks at the feed store from the bin of Easter Eggers, there’s no guarantee you’ll get a pink layer, as EE’s also lay blue and green eggs (not all from one chicken!!) Some people say you can predict egg color an EE will lay by the leg color – it’s worth a try!

I’m pretty sure my pinkish eggs come from my Speckled Sussex, and my Silver Laced Wyandotte. My Black Australorp also sometimes lays a pinkish egg. I’ve heard that Salmon Favorelles lay pinkish eggs, and they are such pretty birds. I’ve got my eye out for one,… and a Seabright because they are so pretty,… and a Deathlayer… and a Black Copper Marans……. except that I’ve already got a dozen chicks in my living room! 😂

Chickens, Getting Started with Chicks

Children and Chickens

Animals of all kinds tend to bring out the best in children. When I was a horseback riding instructor in college, I loved that the most surly, uncontrollable, teenaged boys would come up to the barn, and invariably become sensitive and careful with the horses. Chickens and children are a wonderful, happy, combination. But there are a few precautions to take, especially with young chicks.

Of course, chicks are tiny and fragile, so, especially with young children, it’s important to teach them to be gentle. Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years:

1.) Make sure that chicks’ wings are close against their body when being held, so that the wings don’t get twisted or injured.

2.) I keep a stack of old hand towels next to the chick brooder. When someone wants to hold a chick, they use it as a little play-mat for the chicken, so as not to spread chicken germs in the house. The hand cloth is also a cozy place for the chick to snuggle up and stay warm and protected. And the hand towel also saves the holder from getting pooped on.

3.) If you have very young children, put a couple chicks inside a shallow storage crate on the floor, like a playpen, for the children to watch, rather than holding them.

4.) When children are playing with chickens, pay attention to make sure that the chicks don’t get too cold.

5.) Give the chicks time to eat, drink, and warm up, before being held again.

6.) You’ll get favorites, but it’s good idea to rotate holding all the chicks. This way you won’t overtire any one chick, and they’ll all get socialized.

7.) ALWAYS make sure that anyone who was around the chicks washes their hands with soap afterwards. If children are very young, I usually put on a fresh change of clothes – just to be safe.

A sleepy chick, cuddled against your chest, is incredibly sweet. Take lots of pictures. They’ll grow out of the fluff in just a couple days. Like all our babies, they’re only little for such a short time, and it goes too fast. Enjoy your little chicks!

Keeping Chickens

Taming Roosters

Do you have an aggressive rooster?
Believe it or not, this little fluffball rules the roost in our coop. He’s not exactly intimidating. But even he can get a little “roosterish” from time to time.
As soon as steps out of line with me or the kids, I scoop him up and carry around with me while I do my barn chores. I actually think he likes to be carried. He gets very relaxed, (plus it’s as close to flying, or being tall, as this little Silkie will ever get! 😂)
More importantly, it reminds him who’s the boss here. You’ve gotta maintain your position at the top of the pecking order. After a little quality one-on-one time, he goes back to being a perfect gentleman around humans. This is even more effective if you carry your rooster belly side up. (Although I’m actually just trimming his toe feathers in this photo. 😊) To really modify his behavior, you may need to hold your roo for a few days in a row, to start, and once a week after that.

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Some roosters will always be aggressive. But carrying your rooster is an easy “domination” method. If you have an ornery rooster, it’s worth a try before banishment!