Quick and Easy Tortilla Pizza

This recipe is exactly what is says quick and easy!

This is a fun meal that the kids can easily help make or can make on their own when they are able to bake.  Since I can spaghetti sauce from our tomatoes I always have sauce available and flour tortillas are considered a staple around our house.

On each flour tortilla we spread about 2 tablespoons of sauce,

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Then we bake at 375* until the cheese is melted.

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TaaDaa, lunch is served! Quick, easy and delicious!

Hopefully your family will enjoy these as much as we do!

Blessings,

Jennifer

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Treating A Calf With Foot Rot

One of our young Hereford calves began limping this week.  As is often the case when a calf or cow is limping, the calf has foot rot.  It’s not the best picture but hopefully you can see the swelling and the line of infection between her toes.

foot rot close up

Foot rot is brought on by a bacterial infection.  The bacteria will enter through a wound caused by trauma or by the skin becoming soft and thin between the toes (this usually happens when it is hot and humid.)  If cattle are loafing in a location that becomes saturated by urine and feces foot rot incidences will rise.

The treatment for foot rot is to administer antibiotics, so last night Scott roped the calf and gave her a shot of antibiotics.

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foot rot 1

It’s as if she turned to say “thank you.”

I sure hope she heals quickly!  I always hate it when one of the livestock are sick or injured.  Have you had cattle that have had foot rot before?

Have a blessed day!

Jennifer

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Late Season Frost and Sweet Potatoes

Last week we experienced two mornings of frost which is very unusual for this time of year in our part of the country.  The average frost free date for our area is April 15.

We had already planted our sweet potatoes so in an effort to save them from the frost I mulched them heavily with straw the evening before the predicted frost. (Sweet potatoes are very susceptible to cold weather.)

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This isn’t a very good picture but I took this late the evening before the frost as I finished up mulching.

Then each of the two mornings I sprayed much of the garden off  water from the garden hose.  A couple days later I pulled back the straw to see if it had worked.  In spite of these precautions some of the sweet potatoes still died,

 

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but some of them survived. Hooray!

 

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The sweet potatoes that survived the frost were the ones that I had mulched the most with the straw.  For future reference I now know to make sure that each plant is covered by at least 6 inches of straw.

I am hopeful that despite the frost we will still have a nice crop of sweet potatoes, but only time will tell.

Were you effected by the late frosts? What precautions do you take to protect tender plants from frost?

Have a blessed day!

Jennifer

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A Pasture Full of Sheep

As I mentioned in my last post, we have been reinvesting money that we received from selling the cows that did not get bred for spring calving but that are now bred for fall calving.  One of the things we have done is purchase sixty head of ewes and their lambs.

Sheep grazing

I am so excited to have sheep again! We had sheep in the early years of marriage however we sold them when we moved to Kansas the first time in 2007.

Our previous flock of sheep was raised sustainably on grass in a Management Intensive Grazing (MiG) system.  This is also how we will raise our ewes and lambs this time. We will retain those ewe lambs who do well on grass so that as we build our flock we are emphasizing sheep that will thrive in a sustainable, grass based system.

Did I mention that I am excited to have sheep again?! I really am!  We should be able to greatly improve our pastures with the addition of sheep as they are willing to eat move weeds and forbs than cattle are.  We will be grazing the ewes with cattle in an effort to better utilize the forage that we have available.

The other day when I was out with the sheep it was sprinkling just a little and this is the view I had.  I love the way God paints beautiful pictures!

Thanks for stopping by!

Have a blessed day!

Jennifer

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When Life Hands you… Open Cows

When we pregnancy checked our cows the day after Christmas we did not get good news.  Nearly 90% of our cows were called open.  UGH!!  This was a huge blow to us.  This meant that the calf crop we had counted on being born in May and June was simply not going to happen.

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We then had to decide what our next course of action was; were we going to sell them as open cows, put them in a feedlot and feed them out or try to breed them again.  We decided to get a different bull and try to breed the cows in hopes that the bull was the problem.

We turned a bull in with the cows for 60 days and then played the waiting game.  Thankfully we didn’t have to wait too terribly long as we decided to use Genex Blood Pregnancy Test to determine which cows were bred. Getting the results so quickly enabled us to go ahead and sell the cows that were now bred (90% of those that had previously been open) but had moved from calving in May/June to calving in late fall.

Selling those short bred cows gave us the opportunity to reinvest that money into a few other enterprises. In future posts, I look forward to telling you how we turned those “lemons into lemonade” or in this case open cows into ewes, cows and a hoop house.

At one time or another we will all be handed a bad situation, it is our attitude that determines how we will handle this.  Are we willing to turn lemons into lemonade?

Have a blessed day!

Jennifer

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American Rabbits: Black, Blue and White Too

Over the course of a couple of months, we have been adding American Rabbits to our homestead.  The addition of the rabbits started when Eli and Rebekah asked to show rabbits at our county fair.  Although they are Clover Kids in 4-H and aren’t able to show in the actual rabbit show, they can take their rabbits in to the exhibition night and show them to the judges.  The kids have enjoyed the rabbits so much we have added more rabbits.  We now have four does (2 blue, 1 black and 1 white) and two bucks (1 blue and 1 white.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe chose American rabbits for a few different reasons.  When I was researching rabbit breeds this is what I read about Americans from the Breeders of American Rabbits website:

Not just a historical curiosity, the American is a good meat, fur and show rabbit. With some breeding care, the American can be a large and hardy animal, with large litters and fast weight gain potential. A good American is large and hard to ignore on the show table.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe American Rabbits are listed as threatened on the American Breeds Conservancy which made them even more appealing to me.  I like the idea of helping to maintain a heritage breed.  They are also a very docile rabbit which is very important to me since the kids are the main caretakers.

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Although we have all three colors, only the blue and white are recognized colors for showing.  However, since Rebekah really wanted a black rabbit we have a black rabbit.  We are looking forward to having a few litters later this year.  It will be fun to see what colors we have.

Do you have rabbits? If so what is your favorite breed and why?

Blessings,

Jennifer

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Raising a Dairy Bottle Calf

The kids and I decided that they would raise some Holstein calves. So in February, we got three bull calves ranging in age from 3 days to 2 weeks.  We picked up the calves during a bitterly cold stretch.  Within a few days, all three had a round of scours due to the weather and moving stress.

Each of the calves refused to take the bottle at some point while they were scouring. (Scours is diarrhea in calves and is an indication of an infection.  Like any diarrhea, dehydration is a concern if it is not corrected.)  When they refused to take the milk, I mixed up a bottle of electrolytes according to this recipe.  They willingly  took the electrolytes. We also gave them each a shot of an antibiotic to help them as well. The next feeding I reintroduced milk and they went back to taking it.

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Calf with scours

Since then the calves have been doing great!  We continued feeding them bottles twice a day for 8 weeks and then switched to bottle feeding them once per day.  We continued bottle feeding for two more weeks before we weaned them.  When we weaned them they were eating grain and hay very well.

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The calves now have access to grass and free choice hay in addition to being fed grain.

Feeding bottle calves is a lot of work but it is a great project for the kids.  Most of them enjoy the calves, in fact, we plan to get more calves for them to raise in the future.

If you are going to get any bottle calves it is very important that they receive colostrum during the first hours of life.  Colostrum is the mother’s first milk which is loaded with antibodies to help ensure the health of the calf.  If you buy calves, make sure that the breeders give ample colostrum to the calf before selling it.  Also, make sure that you have a high quality milk replacer to feed the calves.

 

Blessings,

Jennifer

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I Have Lard; Now What?

Now that I have rendered lard what am I going to do with it?  Well I’m glad you asked!

Here are a few of the ways that I have used lard:

  • in any recipe that calls for shortening.  It makes pastries and pies exceptionally flaky and delicious.
  • to deep fry in.
  • to make homemade soap.
  • and to season cast iron cookware

Here are some other uses for lard that I intend to experiement with:

  • making homemade candles with it.
  • making healing balms and salves for dry, cracked hands and feet.
  • and to mix it with beeswax to use on wood and leather as a preservative.

This blog post has some more uses for lard.

I also learned something new, lard from our outdoor pigs is also high in vitamin D.  Now that’s good news.  (Of course, it would stand to reason since raising them outside is healthier for the pigs, that their by-products would then be healthier for us.)

Do you use lard? Do you remember your parents or grandparents using lard?

My grandma has told me that when she was younger her family would butcher pigs and use basically everything except the squeal.  It is fun listening to how they processed the pigs to feed their family.  It is also interesting to note that this same family that ate lard, bacon etc lived to be an average age of 88.  Not too bad if you ask me.

 

 

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Lard Rendering For A Beginner

Saturday for the first time, I rendered lard. When we had our pig butchered, I had the butcherer save the fat trimmings for me. (This particular butcher no longer renders lard as they have little demand for it.)

Here’s how I did it:

The butcherer ground the lard for me which makes it melt quicker. If your fat trimmings aren’t ground, then cutting them in small pieces is is a good idea. I placed the lard in my electric roaster and set it on 250* F.

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I spread the lard out so that it would melt more evenly.

Periodically I would lift the lid and stir it as it melted, because my roaster gets hotter near the edges than it does on the bottom.

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You can see that as it melted the lard became transparent and the cracklings began to appear.  Once it had all melted, I used a slotted spoon to remove the cracklings.  After the cracklings were removed, I turned off the roast and let the lard begin to cool.  This took several hours, much longer than the melting took.  I ladled it into an ice cream bucket, when the lard had cooled to just above room temperature.

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I stilll have more lard to render but I am no longer intimidated about this job.  I kept putting off trying it because I was sure I would burn it or otherwise ruin it. I am so glad that I finally tried to render lard.

What task have you been putting off because you wonder if it will be too difficult?

This year I hope to become proficient on some new tasks that “I have always wanted to do.”  Won’t you join me?

Jennifer

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Where In The World Are We?

Life continues to fly by whether we want it to or not. During the past five months, blogging has taken a backseat to so many other projects. I will try to catch you up to speed on some of these projects.

We have continued to work on our house; but unfortunately we are currently at a standstill until the weather cooperates so we can pour the concrete for the basement walls and floor. Then hopefully it will go quickly as we have the drywall up waiting to be taped and mudded. The other big project will be building the two bathrooms but these also have to wait on the concrete. Our family is really looking forward to the completion of this project as we thought we would already be done.

We have expanded our herd of Berkshire and Chester White pigs. We should have our first litter of Berkshire pigs in mid January. Followed by two litters of Chester Whites in March.
We will have eleven more gilts to pig later in the spring.

I have two top bar hives that seemed to be well stocked and ready the winter. I hope that time will prove this to be the case!

We moved our cattle back yesterday to have them closer to home with the impending winter weather. We have some winter stockpile for them to graze on; however not as much as in non drought years. We do have hay we can feed as well so we should be set.

The kids and I have been enjoying school and homeschool coop classes. In coop, they have taken various classes such as geology, sewing, art, mouse trap cars and inventions just to name a few.

I was able to do even more canning than I have done in years past. It’s such a great blessing to have so many full jars! Of course, I am already thinking about warmer weather and gardening. :)

I truly hope that you are enjoying this Christmas season and that you are able to keep your focus on Christ.

May God richly bless you!
Jennifer

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