Monday, November 13, 2017

Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe -- Cider and Orange Turkey Brine [Recipe]

9:44 PM
It's close to Thanksgiving,  which means you're probably thinking about cooking your turkey.  If you raise your own turkey, hunted and gotten a wild turkey, or have ordered an organic or fresh turkey, this brine is for you.  It'll probably work with conventional turkeys which are brined at the factory, but may make your turkey salty. For the best taste, have a turkey which is fresh or not been brined.

Anyway, here is the recipe.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Homestead Corner: Filling the Freezer

2:40 AM
It's hunting season which is a prime time for us to fill the freezer for our year's supply of meat.  My husband and I have become fairly proficient in hunting deer, but until recently, we hadn't quite scienced out my shooting.  Most of it had to do with not being able to put my cheek against the stock and see in the scope (fixed), a really bad case of buck fever (somewhat fixed), and a clean bore when I shot it (I need to have a dirty barrel on my rifle).  So, this year, we filled our deer tags within the first two weeks.

Two Bucks in a Row

What's weird is that we had two bucks appear in almost the same place in two consecutive days.  My husband got a whitetail spiker (yearling buck with straight horns) the first day.  The second day, I found a mule deer that was barely a fork (splits into two points at the end).  So, not only did we have venison, but we had two deer we had to dress, quarter, and butcher.  So, I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning cutting up and packaging the meat for this year.  Three deer last about 6 months for two people if we don't eat venison every day.  We do have a goat wether that needs to go into the freezer, but that may be an early 2018 project, if we don't find elk or try for deer in other game units.


There's not much to forage right now with snow on the ground.  I'm hoping to convince my husband to go back to the rosehip bushes after general season ends and see if I can gather some more.

Goats, Chickens, and Turkeys

Right now, we've gone from warm to cold temperatures. We've had snow and rain, making the pens an unholy mess.  The critters are feeling stressed.  Not sure, but our llama may be having a relapse of Epi -- a very dangerous blood-borne parasite. I've started her on treatments for it.  I have one goat with mastitis -- an infection of the milk bag.  I've been trying to get Today or even Tomorrow -- a well-known mastitis treatment for cows.  There is none to be had in the entire town; everyone has sold out.  So, I have some mastitis treatment on order and need to treat her. 

Chickens seem to be okay.  I discovered the oldest turkey hen I have is blind in one eye, possibly due to a fight.  My blue slate hen and bourbon jake turkeys are doing great right now. Since I have a tom turkey in the freezer from last year, the other turkeys are safe for Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Saturday, November 4, 2017

First Day of Whitetail Deer Season

8:44 PM
The first day of rifle season for deer and elk is always fraught with worry.  This year, we knew I'd have to harvest my deer first because I had drawn an antlerless whitetail tag and my husband didn't.  We went to a place we've been successful in the past.  So, we decided to try out the new blind and hopefully get our first deer for the season harvested.

Deer Blinds Are Not All Sunshine and Roses

We've hunted from one farmer's blind during game damage season last year, so we figured we understood the principles.  We did, but only marginally.  We set up our mobile blind in the spot that afforded us the best view of the areas where we knew the deer would come out.  On the plus side, it kept us out of the wind. On the negative side, you have severe blind spots because if you had all the windows open on the blind, it would be no better than standing in the middle of the field and waving your arms.  We thought the deer would just ignore the blind.  Wrong.  The deer, despite being habituated to human stuff being left in the area all the time, were very suspicious and preferred to keep a fence line between the blind and themselves.  Add to this the uncomfortable sitting position that you must stay in for hours.  It's less than optimal.

Ambush Hunting Versus Pack Hunting

There are two types of hunting in my book: like a wolf pack or like a cat.  Both are effective, but my husband and I prefer the wolf pack version for various reasons.  With the wolf pack method, you do what a wolf does.  You cover a lot of territory where the animals are.  When you use the cat-like ambush, you go where you believe the animals will come along and just wait.  Both are very effective ways to hunt, as any wolf or mountain lion would attest to, if they could.  So, what we were out of our element.  We had to sit and let our prey come to us.

Finally, Deer!

As usual, when you're waiting for deer, they just materialize out of nowhere, as though Scotty beamed them in.  This time it was a small herd: a doe and her two yearling does.  We waited for them to cross the barbed wire fence that separated the field we sat in from the back forty, but they were having none of it.  Eventually, we decided I should just shoot whichever deer provided the best target.  This time, I did everything right.  I had a firm cheek weld to my rifle, thanks to my husband's modifications to the stock.  I held steady.  I pressed the shot.  The gun went boom.  And...



Hunting Goes Surreal...

"Miss."  My husband whispered, adding to my profound disbelief.

The deer just stood there.  I reloaded.  Same drill.  I held steady.  I pressed the shot.


I said a few choice words under my breath, and I started shaking. The deer I was shooting at moved to a less than optimal presentation, so I reset my aim on her sister who presented a good broadside target.  My husband whispered to shoot again.  Now, I had absolutely no faith in what I was doing.  I shot.  This time, a definite hit and she fell where she stood.

I was still shaking when we got out of the blind.  The other deer hadn't moved much since their relative went down, but on seeing us, they barked and ran off.  I went to the doe and saw that my shaking had moved the rifle to her neck, rather than the shoulder I had aimed at, and had dropped her with a spine shot.  It was a quick death, even if it wasn't quite where I had intended.

Thanking Your Prey

I thanked her for giving herself to me and apologized for taking her so young, but I had to eat.  We field dressed her after I tagged her, and brought her home.  I feel it is important to thank the animals that we hunt.  This is an animal that gave its life so that we could eat.

It made for a successful, if strange hunt.  My husband was quick to point out that the stainless barrel was clean when I shot it.  Every time I've been shooting successfully, it has been dirty, which may suggest that this rifle prefers having a dirty barrel over a clean one.   Mass-produced stainless barrels can have burs and other imperfections which affect accuracy.  A few rounds through them smooths those imperfections over with a copper coating from the bullet jackets, and the gun groups tighter.  I'm pretty sure that I did everything right on the first two shots, so I'll accept that suggestion for the time being.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Do You Know the Difference Between Organic and Non-GMO?

1:10 AM
It may seem like an unusual question to ask anyone who reads this Ezine, but do you know the difference between the words "organic" and "non-GMO?"  Apparently that's what the advertisers are counting on, because recent studies suggest that consumers don't distinguish between the two.

What the Study Was All About

The study, conducted by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, was aimed at labeling non-GMO foods and the best way to convey the product to consumers. The study surveyed 1132 consumers over the terms "Non-GMO Project Verified"and "USDA Organic." Respondents were asked questions about granola bars and apples labeled either non-GMO or Organic.  The results proved interesting.

The Difference Between Non-GMO and Organic

There are obvious differences when it comes to non-GMO versus Organic foods.  Those foods labeled as USDA Organic cannot have any GMOs in them and must be grown according to strict organic practices.  Those labeled as Non-GMO may have up to 0.9 percent GMO within the product.  Granted, that is less than 1 percent, but it is a difference.  Also just because a product is non-GMO, it doesn't mean it was grown without pesticides and other chemicals. So, one should never mistake "Non-GMO Project Verified" for "USDA Organic."

Study Results

The study results showed that consumers were willing to spend up to 35 cents more on granola bars that were labeled non-GMO versus those labeled GMO. However, consumers were only willing to spend 9 cents more on those labeled organic versus those labeled GMO. When it came to apples, respondents were willing to pay 35 cents more for non-GMO and 40 cents more for organic.  This suggests an overall confusion when it comes to organic versus non-GMO foods.

Does Organic Matter?

A good question to ask is does organic matter to the consumer? It may, but there may just be confusion what USDA Organic means. It may mean that seeing something labeled as Non-GMO conveys an idea that consumers recognize and prefer.  It may mean that those who produce our foods may have to add a non-GMO label after the USDA Organic label.  Or, it may mean that companies will drop their organic designation in favor of a less costly non-GMO certification.

Something to think about.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Foraging for Early Fall Edibles [Video]

1:35 PM
If you're like me, you're curious as to what kind of foods would be readily available in the fall.  This video shows some very interesting edibles that are in Maine and probably along the East Coast.  As usual, always be 100 percent sure of what you're gathering.  When in doubt, consult someone who knows.

5 Chicken Breeds You May Not Have Heard of

1:00 PM
It's chick season again, and you're maybe looking at getting some Rhode Island Reds or maybe a Buff Orpington or two, but rare and unusual breeds abound in the chicken world, including many that haven't yet made the American Poultry Association's breed list. Many you won't find in a poultry catalog. Check out some of the rarest and most interesting birds...


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Making Ginger Tea [Recipe]

1:21 AM

I discovered a very tasty tea that is simple to make and oh so delicious, you'll just have to try it.  It's ginger tea with brown sugar.  Ah ha!  Got you there with the brown sugar part, didn't I?  Anyway it's so simple that you can make it anytime you need something without caffeine.  As a bonus, ginger helps with an upset stomach and acid reflux, so I'm thinking in the evening it is going to be my go-to beverage.

The photo above is ginger tea without brown sugar.  The brown sugar adds not only a wonderful sweetness reminicent of gingerbread (how can you go wrong with this?) but it also give it a lovely caramel color that mimics black tea.  I don't know about you, but I am put off by tisanes that look watery, which ginger tea unfortunately does.

Where I Got the Recipe

I stumbled upon the recipe on Hubpages after my rosehips tea got bumped up to their professional sites.  The writer mentioned that this is a popular Asian drink, so I filed it in the back of my head to try making some sometime.  Then, the other night the book I was reading mentioned ginger tea again.  I knew I had to try it.

Now, the writer on Hubpages uses a lot more water and a lot less sugar. My thoughts are you can vary it according to taste.  You can even add other things, like cinnamon or lemon, but I'm thinking that this tea is excellent by itself.

You'll need fresh ginger root for this.  You can find fresh ginger root in the grocery story in the produce section.  You won't need a lot for tea -- maybe a root section about the size of your palm will give you enough ginger for several cups. 

Ginger Tea with Brown Sugar Recipe

What You'll Need:

1/8 cup of ginger root sliced into sections.  Remove skin, if desired.
24 ounces of water, plus extra if some boils off.
1 to 3 tsps of brown sugar per serving (to taste).


Lemon slices
Cinnamon sticks


  1. Boil water on stove and add ginger root.  
  2. Add cinnamon stick (optional).
  3. Continue to boil for about 3 to 5 minutes until the water has turned yellow.
  4. Pour ginger tea into 12 ounce mugs.
  5. Add brown sugar and stir.  
  6. Add lemon slices, (optional), if desired.  Makes two 12 ounce servings.
That's it!  I'm enjoying a cup while I type this.   Let me know if you've had ginger tea before.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

How to Gather Rosehips and Make Them into Tea

1:00 PM
I wrote a piece for Hubpages about rosehips.  Check it out.  I also included a new Cinnamon Rosehip Tea Recipe!
If you drink a lot of herbal tea or tisanes, you've probably heard of rosehips. But did you know that you can make rosehip tea absolutely free? Rosehips are a very nutritious berry that is high in Vitamin C and has other vitamins such as A and E. What's more, it is caffeine free, which makes it an awesome addition to anyone's tea cabinet. ...READ MORE

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Gathering Rosehips and Making Tea [Recipe]

1:25 AM

Did you know you may have a tasty tea that is free for the taking and incredibly nutritious?  Back when I lived in Colorado, it wasn't uncommon to drink herbal teas because we had Celestial Seasons up in Boulder.  Little did I know that I'd be sort of following in their footsteps when I got to Montana and started foraging berries.  One exceptional berry that should be on everyone's list (whether they live in Montana or not) is the rosehip. Rosehips are high in Vitamin C and contain Vitamin A and Vitamin E.

Where the Wild Roses Grow

The rosehip is the seed pod of the species rose or wild rose.  It is oval or round in shape with a red or orange case and an interior that has some fruit pulp and seeds. Species roses grow everywhere, but there are subspecies of roses throughout the United States and Canada. Like the domestic rose, they have thorns and bright flowers (usually pink).  Species roses usually have five petals.

Wild roses grow near water sources, but I've also seen them in fields.  The fruit tastes anywhere from bland to very sweet, fruity with a hint of flowers.  But the floral taste isn't overpowering.  It's a popular food for bears and birds, so when you're picking, be sure to have someone watching out while you pick because you might run into a bear who might not want you gathering his berries.

How to Recognize Rosehips

Rosehips are easy to recognize because of their color and shape. They have wispy "hairs" at the bottom where the flower dried up.  You'll find them on rose bushes, which have thorns.  Domesticated roses have rosehips, but never use those that have been sprayed with pesticides and other toxic chemicals.  If you aren't sure if you found a rosehip or a rose bush, have someone who knows what rosehips look like help you identify them.  Don't take chances, but rosehips are one of the few fruits that are very obvious.

Berry Picker
When you gather your rosehips, wear heavy gloves.  Even if you use a berry picker like I do, you'll want to wear gloves or get your hands and wrists scraped up by the thorns.

Making Tea

Once you have your rosehips, you can dehydrate them for later use. Whether you have fresh or dried, you can make rosehip tea or tisane. ("Tisane" is the term for herbal teas.) Rosehip tea is easy to make. I always drink from a mug, so my recipes are for 12 ounces or more for tea.  Of course, if you use a normal 8-ounce cup, you'll have a stronger tea if you use the same amount of rosehips, but because rosehips have no caffeine, you're more likely to just get a strong fruity flavor without bitterness.

The tea gurus claim that herbal teas or tisanes need a much lower temperature than black or green tea.  This is because you'll "cook" the herbs instead of brewing them.  So the temperature you should brew at is somewhere around 180 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit.  You can use an electric water kettle like the one I have and adjust the temperature perfectly.

Rosehip Tea Recipe

1 TBSP fresh rosehips mashed or 1 1/2 tsp dried rosehips crumbled, or about 10 whole rosehips before crumbling or mashing

1 1/2 cups water (12 ounces)

1 tsp sugar (optional)

Heat water to 190 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place rosehips in the tea infuser in your teapot.  Add water.  Steep 3 to 5 minutes. Strain into your mug and add sugar, if desired.

Please Note: There are links within this article that are affiliate links and links to an article of mine on Hubpages.  I would encourage you to read the Hubpage article as I do make some money from views.  I recommend the products from the affilate links even though I may make a small amount of money from them. If you choose to purchase from Amazon, please use my links as it will help support this site.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Friday, October 6, 2017

Build a Chicken Coop in 6 Easy Steps -- Funny [Video]

9:00 AM
Someday I'm going to build a chicken coop.  I really am.  But for now, the chickens have the run of the barn which makes finding eggs...uh...interesting.  So, when I saw the video on how to build a chicken coop in 6 easy steps, I was inspired.  You'll get inspired too with this hilarious video.  Of course, I have some recommendations for buying coops, after you watch this.

(Disclosure: Affiliate links.  Please consider purchasing to support this site)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Problems with Selling Farm Fresh Eggs -- Funny [Video]

9:00 AM
We've all been there.  You have a flock of chickens and figure you'll make money selling your farm fresh eggs.  Only the public may not be ready for farm fresh eggs and where they actually come from.  So, unless you live in an agricultural area (in which case, most people have chickens), you may have a tough time explaining why your eggs are brown or green, or what that odd white stuff is in the egg...

Monday, October 2, 2017