Family Time

One of my favorite things to do here is spend time outside as a family. The beautiful summer days and cool summer evenings we’ve had recently are perfect for casual family time.

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Toby has a real talent for picking up chickens. He kneels down gently next to them and gives them a hug while they are on the ground, then picks them up like this:

 

 

 

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Today we had a lovely little boy over and Toby got a chicken to try and show him they were nice animals:

 

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He wasn’t convinced. 24 chickens can be overwhelming the first time you meet them! (Especially when you are only a couple feet tall.)

Stuart loved having another little brother for the afternoon. He has such a nurturing spirit.

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Our spring chicks are really growing into themselves now. I think they are so beautiful!

 

 

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A few have even started laying. I had forgotten how cute the little tiny eggs are when they first start. (Shown here with a regular egg for comparison.) The boys love finding these tiny treasures in the hen house.

 

 

 

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Bringing Forth Good Fruit (and Vegetables)

After a couple of cool and rainy days Stuart and I ventured into the garden to see if the weeds or the plants were winning. We had some serious setbacks this month with the garden, after a raid by a flock of bluejays, and then a family of turkeys. Thankfully they broke most of the plants off at the top rather than the bottom (except for several cabbages which they dug up completely), so things looked ok. 

I can’t believe I’m still enjoying delicious, sweet and tender lettuce from the garden. If anything it’s doing better than it was 6 weeks ago: we have beautiful full heads now to gather easily for a salad:

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I asked Stuart to weed some of the garden beds and told him what plants not to pull up. He stopped about 10 minutes in and said “Mum, I think these are onions aren’t they? So I should keep them.” I had totally forgotten I had planted onions there and they are still relatively small so look like grass if you aren’t paying attention. I was thrilled: all the hours we’ve spent in the garden, with me sometimes nagging him to work, have paid off. He is beginning to be proactive and really care about contributing to our family in this way. 

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Stuart and I have been experimenting with our cheesemaking skills too. We want to make sure we have a way to store cheese or cheesemaking supplies long term. So this week we tried making cheese from 10 year old powdered milk that had been in food storage. It worked wonderfully!

We followed the recipe from cheesemaking.com (this site is one of my favorites):

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Because of the foam on top of the powdered milk it curdled a bit differently:

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But the final curds separated just fine:

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I was really impressed with the yield. All of this (just short of 2 pounds) from 2 gallons reconstituted, which was just a few scoops of the powder. It barely put a dent in our 40 pound bag of the stuff:

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After heating and kneading, we got some great cheese. Stuart did the string cheeses himself:

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All packed up and ready to go into the fridge. This was mozzarella:

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The chickens absolutely LOVED the whey:

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Even our poor ridiculous looking molting ones:

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We also experimented with making homemade ‘boxed’ mac and cheese. I don’t like all the additives in the regular stuff, and the organic stuff is really pricey and nothing special. We tried making our own from a whey powder and Parmesan. It worked great, and with some annatto it even looked like the orange stuff!

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With the heat back, the chickens have resumed their sunbathing positions:

 

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But in the cool evenings the boys enjoy putting the animals ‘to bed’ and saying goodnight. Slowly but surely the lessons we are trying to teach these boys – hard work, stewardship, strengthening your family, and appreciation for the beauty and blessings around you – are paying off.

 

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