Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Homemade Turkey Bone Broth

If you are fortunate enough to have access to a farmer who raises pastured turkeys (organic pastured, even better) then you certainly don't want to waste even a little of it.  We're always learning how to stay healthy while still stretching our food budget.  This is one of the best ways right here!

It's worth the extra cost to get a poultry raised on pasture and the cost isn't all that much more when you consider how many meals you can get from just the one turkey.

After cooking a turkey after Thanksgiving or Christmas, you can get continued goodness from the turkey carcass by making this turkey bone broth (or soup broth as I call it.)

Turkey Bone Broth

  • One turkey carcass (majority of the meat removed)
  • A large soup pot
  • Enough water to cover at least most of the bones
  • Salt
  • 1 T of Apple Cider Vinegar (with the 'Mother') (Why ACV?  Because this helps draw out the minerals from the bones, which makes a very healing, nutritious broth!)

  1. Place the turkey carcass in the soup pot. Cover it as much as possible with water. I use water from our well, but if you are in the city, consider using filtered water.
  2.  If the carcass is too big, you can try and break it up to make it fit. If you don’t have a pot big enough, buy one. You won’t regret it.
  3. Place the pot on the stovetop and turn the heat on high. Bring to a boil. Once it boils, skim the weird stuff off the top and turn the heat down.  Add 1 T of the Apple Cider Vinegar.
  4. Let it cook. For many hours.  I usually set mine up to cook after the holiday meal is over and I'm cleaning up.  I then let it cook on simmer overnight.
  5. If you aren't cooking overnight, you will likely find that about three hours is usually enough. What you want to wait for is that moment when everything just collapses and the broth is golden and fragrant and has a nice glow to it.
  6. Add salt to taste. You will need a lot. More than you think. (If you are used to those store-bought brands of soups and broths, you will feel you need a whole lot of salt.  Our family is used to about 4 teaspoons or so.)
  7. Turn off the heat and let the soup sit until cool enough to strain. But in the meantime, enjoy eating as much as you can.
Straining Bone Broth:

For the clearest broth, you will want to strain the liquid from the bones. I use a stainless steel fine mesh strainer that looks like a cone. Put it over another big pot, and pour the whole mixture in so the strainer still holds the bones and all that is in the other pot is a clear broth. Feel free to pick over the carcass and save the meat for use in other ways (all pets will stare adoringly at you while you complete this process).

You now have “bone broth,” or basic soup stock.

If you’ve done all this correctly, you will have far more broth than you can eat in one meal. So you’ll want to freeze the extra for those times when you just need some broth. It freezes super well. (I prefer to can it and put it in the basement, however, there isn't always time for this!)

Freezing Bone Broth:

Ladle the broth into a wide-mouth glass jar (I use a funnel to reduce spillage). Make sure to leave an inch or two at the top of the jar because the broth will expand when it freezes.

Put a label on it. Wait till it cools (store it in the fridge overnight if you must) and then put it in the freezer.

This broth can then be used for soups, stews, chicken pot pie, or the base for just about any sauce.  I even sneak it into my enchilada sauce as a base, in order to get the kids to eat more of this healthy broth.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Start of A Storefront

Never a dull moment on the farm.

Our shell of a future storefront arrived yesterday and after about an hour of maneuvering, it is leveled and seated in its new home near the front of our property.

This will be our hopeful new storefront where customers can stop by to get seasonal produce, canned goods, personal care products, eggs and eventually meat as well.

It is only a "shell" currently so the work is only beginning.  An additional window must be put in, electricity must be run, walls must be insulated and finished, lighting and many other details must be done this winter.

Here are some photos of the efforts taken to get it into position and level.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord..."
- Col 3:23

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

An Ounce of Prevention...

Livestock producers have been breeding for better cattle, sheep, hogs, and poultry for decades, yet the concept of raising an improved dairy goat eludes a lot of people. (Including us!)  We are at the beginning of our big learning curve.

Goats are fairly hardy animals but they are susceptible to several serious life-threatening health problems.
Stomach worms, pneumonia, overeating disease, and coccidiosis are the most commonly seen diseases. Others include but are not limited to tetanus, listeriosis, polioencephalomacia, meningeal deerworm, caseous lymphadenitis, caprine arthritic encephalitis, Johnes disease, multiple pregnancy-related diseases, and several nutritionally-related illnesses and deficiencies.

We are grateful to those much more experienced than us (with amazing results shown over 30+ years) for providing us a good start to our learning.

A goat can look just a little “sick” or “down” one day, and the next day be gone.  That is a heart-wrenching (and expensive) thought.  Goats can go downhill so quickly that a “wait and see” approach is never a good idea.  One thing we have learned is that the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” rings very true with goats. 

So this post will focus on the “prevention” of illness or injury.  Of course there are times when even when the best practices are followed, a goat owner may still have to deal with an illness.  We’ll save that information for another post.  This post is all about prevention.

Preventative Care Starts With....

Sufficient Land: 

·        Goats need to be able to roam with good forage/browse for them to eat.  We currently have 5 pastures (adding two additional soon) on which to rotate our goats.  During wormy season, we can rotate the goats more often to keep the bugs guessing and the population of parasites low.

·         We also rotate our goats with our chickens.  Some vets have told us that coccidia parasites can transfer between goats and birds, but this is simply not true.  Each parasite is species-specific!  This is what we see in nature: birds always follow the herbivores around as they roam, and act as a bug-eating clean-up crew.  They do not transfer parasites, they actually confuse them because a goat parasite cannot survive on a chicken and a chicken parasite cannot survive on a goat. 

Proper Fencing

·         Goat fencing must be in good repair with openings that aren’t large enough to get their horns hooked.  We use horse fencing for this purpose.

Controlled Water Supply

·         Clean water!  Control where the goats are getting their water.  No drinking from puddles or ponds.  We clean out water buckets daily and keep them up off the ground as well.


·         Goats are browsers and really do not need, nor is it very good for them, to have grains.  However, some grain mixes can assist with ensuring the goats get proper nutrition, vitamins and minerals.  We give a small amount of only organic goat ration to our goats daily.

     Minerals available at all times, free choice.  We use a goat mineral that is prepared specifically for goats, giving them the copper that is required along with the other critical minerals goats need. 
  •     Hay is available free choice at all times.  Hay is kept dry and free of mold.

  •       We also give them kelp for a natural added mineral boost.  We use a kelp meal grown in cold water and dried geothermally, It can be found here: http://thorvin.com/products/livestock/

·         Baking soda available at all times.  If an upset stomach occurs, a goat knows just what to do.  To make that extra acid in the stomachs calm down, they eat baking soda as needed.  This is usually enough to keep the PH in the rumen at the right level.

Protection from Predators… and Rain!

·         We are unable to have a guardian dog so we move our goats into the barn every night for sleeping. 

·         Keep them dry!  This is important.  Goat’s hate being wet and there is a reason for that.  A dry goat is less likely to develop illness and parasites. 

o   This is another reason we always have the barn stalls ready.  In the case of heavy rain or muddy pastures, they have a dry place to be. 

o   Parasites love wet, warm pastures, so when it rains we rotate the goats more often before the parasite load has a chance to build to a dangerous level.

o   In addition, the dry resting places (in our case, barn stalls) keep their hooves from developing rot from too much wetness.

o   We provide a wooden stand that the goats can get up on if they want to get off a pasture covered with dew.  That table gives them a dry place to stand or rest.  Plus, goats just generally like to climb on things!

Hoof Care:

·         Properly trimming hooves regularly will help with preventing both foot rot and potential lameness from overgrown hooves.


  • The ability and willingness to check on goats on a daily basis.  Yes daily!
    • Checking for hydration, checking their poo and their general look for any sign of illness.
    • Watching for diarrhea (also called ‘scours’ in goats) is important because it many times can indicate an underlying illness.  Taking their temperature and watching for changes is critical if scours are present.
    •  Checking the inside of a goats eyelids tells us about their health as well.  They should have a very pink/red lid.  Goats can go into dehydration quickly when they have scours, which can quickly lead to too much acid in the stomach.
    • Once a goat is lying down, tail down, ears down, and/or not eating… it’s many times too late.  Attentiveness can save a goat. 
    •  It sometimes means dropping everything else we have going on that day to administer proper next steps.  But an ounce of prevention is well worth it!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

You Can Use Those Green Tomatoes!

One of the character qualities we try to teach our children is “Thriftiness”  vs. “extravagance.  Our working definition of thriftiness is “Not letting myself or others spend that which is not necessary.”
And so as we learn this, we try to look for new ways to be thrifty.

We learned a new way to be thrifty just recently from an elderly woman we met who was raised on a farm near the end of the depression.

She told us that we could be using all our green tomatoes for things other than relish or fried green tomatoes.  We were so happy to hear this!

This year, when the cold nights started, we knew we would not be getting many (or possibly any) red tomatoes.  Yet, we had SO many green tomatoes on the vine.  So we picked around 100 lbs of these green tomatoes and sorted them and used this woman’s idea – and so far it is working!

Simply take the green tomatoes that look well-formed and without any bugs or cracks in them, and wrap them in paper (newspaper works fine, but we used packing paper.)  Place them in the basement storage and then weekly, assign someone to go down and turn them, and check them, seeing if any are ripe.

Sure enough, we have found several that have ripened just perfectly in just a week.  Those that aren’t ripe are re-wrapped and put back into the basement storage.

Once we have enough that are ripe, or too many that are ripe for us to eat, we can blanch them and can them for the winter stews and sauces.


What a blessing this new idea was for us.  We hope you can try it as well!

“So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?”   - Luke 16:11

Sunday, October 23, 2016


This was a long awaited event... Dylan started raising bees with his dad about 3 years ago.  He invested his own money in some of the hives and equipment.  And the first two years had many ups and downs.  Even the most seasoned bee keepers have hives that die, or swarm and are lost.  It's an expensive business to be in, and the bees don't always cooperate.

But we are glad that he was so diligent and did not get overly discouraged - even when he lost one of his best queens earlier this year (despite great efforts of capturing them and re-homing them.  See that story here.)

So today, the boys went out and took two frames from each of the remaining hives and extracted their first batch of honey!

It was a crowd gathering event because we've waited so long to have our own honey, and because we've never done this before so there is always an interesting learning curve.

First, getting the new equipment unpacked and learning proper use of it:

Finally, it's all set up and ready to go!

They pulled just two frames from each hive so they could be sure to leave enough honey for the bees to overwinter.  It's a fine art as I understand it - you must leave enough honey for the bees to overwinter, but NOT too much because with too much honey they will not get rid of any bees over the winter and end up so crowded that you'll get half the hive leaving in a swarm the following spring.  Leaving you to wait for a new queen to be raised up.

First a hot knife is used to get the "caps" off of the honey.  The goal is to take off the caps but leave the honey comb in place so the bees can reuse it.

 Then the frames are put into the honey extractor and the handle on top is used to gently spin them around, releasing the honey to fall to the bottom.

And finally, honey came pouring out.  I was amazed that they had over a gallon of honey from just 4 frames!  And so thrilled for Dylan who has put so much time and money into this.  He will now get to sell his first batch of honey.  And we all get to enjoy our own honey this winter!


Endurance (vs. Giving-Up) - The inward strength to withstand stress to accomplish God's best.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. - Galatians 6:9

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Homesteading Field Trip Day

Home. Farm. Beauty. Peace. Work. Country. Family. Church. Friends. Animals. Guests. Gardens. Canning. Cooking. Hosting. Summer. Hot. MISSOURI.
That sums up our summer here on the farm.
So what a wonderful way to celebrate Fall, but to have a homesteading/farm field trip at our house!
When we moved into this house that God brought us, the first thing we did was dedicate it and all the property on it, to the Lord.  We purpose to share what we have and what we have learned with others whenever possible.
This is our first event and we had such a good time!
We invited homeschooling families from the city to come to a homesteading day at our farm, where they would learn about sustainable, pasture-based farming, about animals and soil.  We also gave the hands-on experience with canning tomatoes and provided a soap-making demonstration. 
The response was so great that we had a waiting list of families wanting to attend, so we will definitely have to plan another event like this.
Old friends were reacquainted and new friends were made.  And we were SO blessed to have local friends give up their Friday in order to work on our farm and help us serve all these visiting families.  They made it all amazing.
Even better was that we shared a little slice of our testimony and how God brought us to this farm, and had a chance to encourage families to trust in the Lord through what He has done in our lives.
Here are some photos of the day!
We have perfect weather!  A little cool at first, but the tomato canning and fire pit made the cool weather a joy.
Friends setting up our farm-y casual lunch tables on the deck.

A tour of the farm - learning about the greenhouses and the rotation of animals from summer to winter.
Of course the baby chicks inside the greenhouse were very popular!

Out on the pasture with the 1-3 year old chickens and learning about how the egg-mobiles work...

 Probably the kids favorite was visiting the goats - in particular our new arrival, a 8 week old doe we named "Sochi".  She sure got a lot of attention this day, and she loved it.  She cried and cried when everyone left!
Even the littlest of hands got to give Sochi some loving...

Setting up for tomato canning lesson and hands-on experience. 

Everyone got to help with something.  The little kids were busy shaking jars of cream to make butter for our lunches. I wish I had gotten a picture of those little balls of butter, but they were eaten up on the homemade bread we had from a local Mennonite family.  YUM!

Snack time for the littles while tomato canning was going on...

Campfires always area  draw for the boys.  They were drawn like magnets to the fire pit.  :-)

Lunch on the deck, served up by our grandmothers and family friends who came to help.  What a huge blessing they all were.  We couldn't have pulled this off without them.
Nearly all the food was prepared from things we grew on our farm, or neighboring farms, right down to the grass-fed beef in the stew and chili.
Wish I had a photo of all the food, but it was gone so quickly!

After lunch, my (Sheri's) mom gave a soap-making demonstration and everyone was able to take home a couple of bars of homemade soap.  We are so glad she is willing to share her skills with all of us.

One of the finished soap products... oatmeal lavender.
What a fun day we had working and playing together.
"Use hospitality one to another.... "
1 Pet 4:9
We are as blessed as those who came!