Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Field Trips Day 1

Today was a great day!

It started out with heavy winds, rain, and a radar full of yellow and red storms.  Right as the first group was on the way.  I checked the forecast and it was supposed to be violently stormy all after some quick calls to postpone to Friday....

The first two families were already on the way...I told them to come on ahead and we might have to make it an abbreviated trip and only in the barn.  Ended up that it turned out alright and wasn't too terribly stormy.

What wonderful families!  The kids were delighted with the bunnies (as we were delighted with the kids!)  They all sat so nicely loving on the bunnies.  And they sat for much, much longer than I thought they would.  There were great questions and the parents were able to have some conversation since the kiddos were occupied with the baby bunnies.  Here are some of the pictures that Man took of the trip.

Our hen that was "helping" with the Talk

As I get more pictures that the families took, I will upload those as well!

Towards the end of the trip, we had two more families drop in so our total for the day was 17 visitors.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Farm Spiffy-ing up for the Upcoming Field Trips

About a month ago, I was asked if a group could come out for a field trip to the farm. After some serious prayer, I said yes. I set the day for about 4 weeks away. It seemed like tons of time. Umm...right?!?

With all the rain, the barn was a big muddy mess and it needed to dry out. Little did we know it was going to rain for another two weeks. So in the meantime, between raindrops, we have been spiffying up the place. So much did get accomplished in the last three weeks. The falling down grain barn was semi cleaned out. The run through cleaned out. Under the lean to cleaned out. The scrap metal guy came and took a truckload of stuff to be recycled. Dad came out and installed a switch for my milking machine and a light in the cow stall. At the same time, Mom was busy straightening and organizing the utility room of the barn. I set up my "junk" garden. (The rusty pieces of the original well pump for the property that were likely hooked up to a windmill have been sitting in a heap--now artistically arranged in a little garden with mulch.)
View of the barns

The one wall that is completely painted

The almost empty falling down lean-to

Rabbit Run in Barn

Straightened Feed / Equipment Room

Cleaned Utility Room (Thanks Mom!)

Milking "Stall" with cabinet

My handy-dandy new plug and switch for my milker-Thanks Dad!!

Another good friend came over and volunteered her and her 6 kids' time to help out. So one wall of the chicken coop (and 1/2 of another) got painted before we ran out of paint. Plus the big boys dug and moved lots of heavy stuff!! 

Lots of stuff! I also "freecycled" a big rabbit hutch that hasn't been used in over a year and cleared up some space and blessed someone else. 

So tomorrow the trips will start, ready or not. There are still tons to do and I had hoped to come up with handouts to send home...but I'm out if time. We will have 3 groups a day for two days. Each time slot has about 10-15 people (both big and little). We're doing two different themes. Barnyards & Bunnies and Seeds to Harvest. The bunny trip will be nice to get the baby lops used to being handled. By the weekend they will get weaned and can start going to new loving homes. 

I'll let you know how it went later this week!!  Pray for us!

Sunday, May 18, 2014


To continue onward with the "City Mouse"'s Canning Adventure, we then made Dandelion Jelly.  Honestly I thought I would absolutely adore the violet jelly and wondered about the results of the dandelion...I LOVED THE DANDELION more than the Violet!!!

Dandelion Jelly

1 quart tightly packed ripe yellow Dandelion flowers

6 cups water

6 cups sugar

2 Tbsp of Lemon Juice (or the juice of one lemon)

1 package Pectin

First, make sure your flowers have not been sprayed, pick and wash. remove the ends, and as much green as possible.

Place petals, water and lemon juice large heavy bottom pot, bring to a boil, then transfer to a bowl. Place a piece of waxed paper over top and refrigerate until morning.

Strain through a sieve, discarding petals

Return to pot, and sugar and bring to a hard boil. Stirring occasionally. Boil for 10 minutes.

Add pectin to the liquid and return to a boil for 5-10 minutes, until it begins to set.

Pour into hot sterile jars, and process in a hot water bath for 5 minutes.

It tastes a bit like honey

To keep the foam down, add 1/2 tablespoon of butter when you add pectin. It could take up to 2 weeks for jelly to set properly. If it doesn't set, makes a great syrup

Pictures courtesy of "City Mouse" (Except the picture OF City Mouse, and the very first flower picture, and petals)  To follow her adventures visit :

Friday, May 16, 2014

Making Violet Jelly!

So my cousin/BFF, otherwise known as "City Mouse" came to visit earlier this week.  She has never canned before (and is all up for new experiences!)  I had already picked and made both violet and dandelion infusions as I've actually had these recipes waiting in the "drafts" of my blog for some time (Apparently, I wrote down the instructions for this one in 2010)  So without further delay.....

Recipe for Violet Jelly

 Yield: About 2 pints 
Once you've picked enough violet flowers, making this jelly could not be simpler. I got four 1/2 pint jars which I canned (plus a little extra that went straight into the refrigerator) out of this recipe.


*2 cups fresh violet flower petals (no stems)- make sure you gather them from an area which has not been sprayed with chemicals (and where your dogs don't do their business)
*2 cups water
*1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
*one (1.75 oz) package pectin
*2 cups sugar


1. Rinse and drain flower petals, and place in heat-proof glass bowl. Bring water to a boil and pour over petals. Cover and allow to steep overnight, or for up to 24 hours.
2. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve: use a wooden spoon to press all the liquid from the plant material (compost or discard the flowers when you're through).  If not using it right away, you can refrigerate it for up to 24 hours.  The "flower tea" is a gorgeous purple, but wait...

3. Combine strained liquid with lemon juice in the saucepan (notice how it turns pink!!)

 Then whisk in the pectin and the sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil, whisking to ensure the sugar and pectin dissolve thoroughly, then turn heat to medium high and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes (or until the jelly has reduced a bit and thickened).

4. Skim off any foam and then ladle into your clean, hot and sterile jars, leaving 1/8″ head space. Wipe lids and screw on the the rings, then process in a hot-water bath for 10 minutes.
5. Remove jars and allow to cool for 24 hours on the counter.

And there in the back is another batch waiting to be done!