October 31, 2016


Some poor Ameraucana had to be in some serious pain after laying this humongous egg the other day.  It was even bigger than a duck egg. That one won't be fitting in an egg carton!

I cracked it open the next morning to see what was inside. 

What a filling breakfast.  I scrambled it and topped it with homemade roasted tomato salsa and some diced avocado.  Nothing like a farm fresh breakfast!

October 29, 2016

"How to Make Kombucha at Home"

Read my latest article on Countryside Network which gives a basic overview of how to make kombucha at home.  If you've ever bought kombucha from the store at $3-$5/bottle, you know that this is a product worth learning to make for yourself! 

October 28, 2016


Not only do we have the pumpkins we grew but we also got bunches of small pumpkins from our lovely neighbors Frank & Rita Heikenfeld.  One day I came home to a wheelbarrow load of pumpkins and gourds outside the side door!  I used them to make a festive display on the dining room table, which lasted for a couple of weeks.  As the squash have begun to soften, we have been tossing them out to the girls.  What fun watching them pick at the pumpkins until they seem to disappear!  And it's neat to see their eggs over the next few days will have even richer orange yolks.  If you buy our eggs in the next week or so check it out!

October 26, 2016

Halloween fun

We grew our own little pumpkin patch this year out by the mailbox. 

I needed to find a spot outside of my garden where the pumpkin plants would have enough space to spread out but also outside the path of our free ranging chickens so they wouldn't get pecked to pieces before we could harvest them.  I got the idea one day as I was leaving to plant them by our mailbox, at the end of the long driveway.  The chickens rarely make it out that far.  Anyway, it was the perfect spot.  The plants thrived and we ended up with lots of medium-sized pumpkins and a couple big ones.

One evening recently, the boys and I decided to do some carving.  Each chose a pumpkin and brought it out to the back porch.  I cut open the tops so they could pull out the guts.  We saved some of the seeds for planting next year and the rest of the seeds and stringy insides we out as a nice treat for the hens. 

Each boy got a couple carving tools to work with.   

Oliver carved with deep focus, trying to make vampire teeth.

McGregor had to work one-handed due to the broken arm but I held his pumpkin still while he carved with his good arm.

Baxter was "super duper excited" that he was big enough to carve his own pumpkin this year.

He even carved a "B" into his pumpkin so everyone would know it was his.

McGregor made his pumpkin look like it was vomiting seeds and guts.

We lit the pumpkins with real candles and decided they are much better than those fake electric lights.  The pumpkins look awesome outside our side door, welcoming visitors to the Farm.

October 25, 2016

A peaceful weeked away

I had Friday off work so I decided to leave Thursday after work and drive up by myself for a weekend at our lakehouse in northern Michigan.  I wanted a quiet weekend away from work, chores, responsibilities... life...

It turned out to be an astonishingly beautiful time to be at Lake Manistee.  The leaves were in full Fall glory.  This was the view as I drove up the road to the house.

I went for walks each day through the woods around the lake.  The maple trees had the brightest shades of yellow and red.

Here's the view out our back door, across the canal and out to the lake.

One day on my walk, I found an old apple tree in front of an abandoned house.  I sat under the tree and ate a few apples - crisp and cool and tart and juicy. 

I decided to go home and get a basket so I could collect more apples to take home.  The only large basket I could find was a picnic basket, but it did the trick.  I came back to the house with pounds of apples to bring back with me to Ohio.

The lake was rough with the strong wind blowing the cool air around.  Our boat is dry docked for the winter so I had to enjoy the water from the edge.  One afternoon I sat on the long dock down at the local park.

All along the water's edge, you can find this wild mint growing rampant.  It smells like chocolate mint - one of my personal favorites.  I picked some and brought it back to freshen up the kitchen.

The leaves filled the water off our little dock, like mother nature was making a colorful collage. 

Some time away from the day-to-day is good for the soul.  I appreciated a few days to rest, but it is also good to be home.  My dogs were sooooo excited to see me return.  There was some major "butt dancing" going on when I pulled in the driveway.  This is the term I've coined especially for my little miniature Schnauzer because, since she doesn't have much of a tail, when she "wags her tail" her whole back end flies back and forth.  It's good to be loved.

October 24, 2016

Our eggs are now non-GMO!

Exciting announcement: Our eggs are now non-GMO!

As of this week, our chickens  and ducks are eating locally milled non-GMO feed from Bagdad Roller Mills in Bagdad, KY.  I made the drive down to Kentucky and came home with the Prius riding low.  In the trunk I managed to fit 900 pounds of feed! 

We are constantly seeking ways to make our chickens and eggs healthier and also to support local business when possible so we were excited to find this locally-owned small business making their own feed.  Another Batavia local told us about Bagdad; he had been using their feed for years. 

We will also be fermenting the feed for added probiotics - good for the chickens and for we who consume their eggs!  You can read more on the benefits of fermented feed on Countryside Network. 

Check out our eggs at Jungle Jim's in Eastgate or contact me directly. 

October 13, 2016

Fermenting Chicken Feed

The newest trend in the chicken world these days is fermenting feed.  There have been lots of articles lately on the site that I write for called Countryside Network, about the benefits of fermenting feed.  Fermenting makes the nutrients in the feed more easily digestible for the birds so they get more nutritional value from less feed and fermentation also adds probiotics, which in turn make for healthier eggs.  We wanted to try it!

The basic idea is that you cover the feed with water and let it sit three days.  Sounds so simple, right?

Well, we have been through three different set-ups to make this work.  First we tried what we saw online.  You take a set of two five-gallon buckets.  One you drill holes in to make it like a strainer; then you put the second bucket underneath to catch the water.  Fill the bucket about a third full then add water to cover.  We found that with this set-up we kept leaking water on the floor as the food doubled in size.  So we added a large container underneath to catch the extra water.  

Next we thought, what if we just fill the large container and set the "strainer" buckets into the water all together.  Josh even made a chain that hung down from the ceiling so the buckets could drain when they were done.  This didn't work because the buckets tipped and made the large container water disgusting fast.   

Both of these systems were also difficult because they were removed from our water source so we had to haul water inside to fill the buckets.

Finally, I thought - what if we ferment right inside the coop?  I went back to the double bucket system but added a lid on top to keep the birds out.  I drilled holes in the lids so the ferment could breathe.  This solves the problem of being near a water source.  It also helps with the the excess water drainage because since it is on the ground, any water that overflows just seeps down into the ground.  So far it's working.  I don't know what we will do when it gets too cold for the ferment to happen outside.  Then I guess we are back to the drawing board.  

The birds seem to enjoy the food.  I dump it out on a large tray and it's gone by the end of the day.  

This process definitely takes more effort than our dry food system which we only had to fill about twice each week.  So we will have to see over time if it seems worth the effort to get the added health benefits of fermented feed.

Are you fermenting your chicken feed?  Tell me about how you do it!

October 11, 2016

An Afternoon with Bailey

This weekend my husband was out of town and I took advantage of a quieter evening to steal some one-on-one time with my little niece Bailey.  She just turned two and I adore her.  

I went to pick her up, and she had just awoken from her nap.  Sleep still in her eyes, she saw me and asked, "Go see chickens?"  I handed her shoes to put on and said, "Yes, let's go!"  She did a little dance and got her shoes on.  Her mom arrived as we were leaving and Bailey said, "Hi momma, go see chickens!"

When we got to the house, I got Bailey a basket.  She was out the door and running back to the coop.  I held her up so she could see into the nesting boxes for the eggs.  She put some in her basket and I put some in mine.  I showed her how to put them in gently so they wouldn't break.  It took her like two minutes to put in each egg because she was so dramatically careful.  Cracked me up but I loved it.  After we got all the eggs, she stood next to the run and talked to the birds inside for a minute.  

She heard the ducks quacking down by the pond, behind her, and she was off in that direction.  Here you can see her waving and yelling, "hello duckies!"

Then she stood, awe-struck, watching the birds move around her.

We sat down in the grass by the pond to watch the ducks swim.  Bailey began to take a closer look at the eggs she had collected.  She took them out one by one and looked them over.  

"ooh, look, a pretty blue one!"

"Dirt.  Yuck.  Clean."  

I suggested she try to wipe it on the grass, which she tried over and over again but it didn't work.  Each time she would say, "not work!"

"Bumpy egg."  

This one she kept rubbing her fingers over.  She was intrigued by the little bumps on the shell.  

That's one of the things I love about our eggs - they offer such variety of color, shape, texture and size.  

Despite her best efforts, Bailey did crack an egg or two.  She wanted to push her finger through the crack and kept saying, "See inside?"  So I decided we would have eggs for dinner!

We brought our baskets inside and I showed her how to crack one then gave her one to try.  She knocked it on the bowl and made a teensy crack, which she looked at for several minutes.

Then she tried to push her finger into the crack.

Finally she got it open and into the bowl.

We cooked and ate our eggs.  This little one ate two whole eggs plus a little waffle, and after dinner and some playtime we went out to put the birds to bed.  She helped me close the door and said, "Night night chickens!"  Then it was time to go home.  

I love spending time with Bailey because she is so excited about everything you show her.  It forces you to be in the moment and to see the world around you with joy and excitement.  What a gift this little person is to me.

“We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole. In my children's memories, the adventures we've had together in nature will always exist.” 
― Richard LouvLast Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

October 7, 2016


Sometimes I like to wait to wash some of the eggs. I gather them up in a little bowl and set them on the counter where they will catch my eye as I walk through the kitchen. Mother Nature gives us such beauty. It fills me with gratitude for this home we have and the life we are creating for our family here at the farm. 

October 1, 2016

Fall wildness

Every fall, it surprises me how many wildflowers and plants seem to come into their prime as the temperatures cool.  I expect flowers in spring and summer but am in joyful awe of them come autumn.  Here are some colors and textures from my walk a few evenings ago...


bouncing bet (I think?)

poke berries forming

and poke berries fully ripe

grass gone to seed

honeysuckle berries


spotted knapweed

these morning glories come up every year as volunteers and take over my fence