Oh snap…we made rabbit sausage!

We did it! We made sausage.  Sure, it was in October but hey, with four kids, two months to sit down and write up a blog is not bad, right?

During our last barter fair of the season, we were fortunate enough to barter some jam and super spicy peppers for two rabbits (freezer packed). Since these were not our rabbits and they were of unknown age, we decided to use them for sausage making.

We got a sausage making nozzle attachment for our Kitchen Aid mixer and a package of casing. We used pork fat from a pig we bought earlier that year. We were all set and super excited. The whole process was cool and a little bit gross (washing the casing, specifically). It took us about an hour to make the links and a few hours to smoke them.

Here is our recipe:

3.5lbs of rabbit meat, ground twice)

1.5lbs of pork fat (25%by weight)

2.4oz of salt

Pepper, garlic powder, paprika and dried basil were all added by a dash and a pinch.

We plan to make more sausages for Christmas, we will do a better job of measuring the ingredients.

Grind all the meat and fat twice ( it’s easier to grind up meat if it’s a little bit frozen) and mix with herbs and spices. Wash the casings according to the package directions (soak and rinse three times) thread the casing onto the nozzle attachment and start stuffing. It sounds a bit more easier than it was—and the process was incredible easy but using the nozzle attachment was a bit harder than we thought. Sausage got stuck and would not go down the grinder and the casings were not filling uniformly. After a little elbow grease, determination and practice, we got the hang of it! We made one large sausage and then twisted them into desired size links.

Both products were purchased on Amazon.
Paul had to de-bone the rabbits.
Second time grind.
One long sausage with loose casing for twisting.

We had a lot of fun learning a new skill! We will be making more rabbit sausages for Christmas.  I am excited and curios to see if having a younger rabbit (ours) will make the difference in the flavor.

Thanks for reading!  Come visit us on our Facebook page.

What An Eggcellent Thursday!!

During this time of the year, we usually have plethora of eggs! Paul rides his bike to work now days and it’s hard to make him a fresh breakfast every day–its difficult for him to transport.  So, I make a bunch of breakfast burritos and freeze them.

I blogged about this in the past so I won’t go into detail.

An abundance of eggs–breakfast burrito anyone?

This batch is just egg and cheese in a little bit of salsa. In the past I have used bacon and sausage for a meat component–a good way to use up left overs.  Since the kids have started eating bacon…there aren’t any left overs 🙁

Easy fun cost-effective and healthy!

Every time I use aluminum foil for Paul’s work meals, I like to leave him little love notes.  He takes such wonderful care of us well–I use it as an extra time to tell him I (and the kids) love him.

Thanks for reading!  Visit us on FB for daily updates.

Labor and Delivery on the Homestead

BABIES! There are babies everywhere!  June 13th was a good day to be born.  It was our son’s birthday, chicks hatched and baby bunnies were born.

Honey welcomed her liter of 6 beautiful kits (one all white, three black (just like papa) and 2 mixed white/black (like Honey).  Debbie or her sister (I am starting to doubt that this is Deb​​bie after all) hatched 4 babies (two black chicks with white spot and two orange Araucana looking chicks).   So lately, we feel as if we are in L&D taking care of newborns, doing round belly checks and making sure everyone is fed and happy.

Honey’s due date was June 13 (31 day gestation) and so was the broody hen’s (21 days)–the fist egg hatched on day 19, so maybe it was fertilized earlier–or it was a preemie?!  Either way, everyone is doing very well–growing, eating and pooping.
​​ 

Thanks for reading!  Follow us on Facebook for updates and exciting news!

‘Tis’ the season–food preservation season!!

It’s that time of the year again. Time to start jammin! Strawberries are in, raspberries and cherries are to follow. We are getting very excited about the next few months of productive labor to preserve food for the rest of the year.

Every year I think I have enough and every year, by March we tend to deplete our resources 🙂 so this year, we will up the canned spaghetti sauce and canned tomatoes, canned corn, canned and pickled green beans, pickles, veggie chow and dehydrate a boat load of fruit.  We are also going to freeze a lot more berries as the kids have discovered their true love for smoothies.

I am excited for the work to start! Gathering a few berries from the garden is so gratifying!  Watching the kids gobble up berries, asparagus, peas and kale from the garden is hands down the best feeling ever.   So much work has been put into the garden with hopes of providing as much of our own food as possible.

Last weekend, we went to U Pick strawberries at our CSA farm in Rochester.  We picked enough strawberries to enjoy fresh, freeze, make a fruit salad, jam and syrup.  This is the beginning of my most favorite part of the year.

Strawberries and sugar! All you need to make amazing jam and syrup.
Look at these beauties…fresh and organically grown!
Ready to go into the water bath
sterilizing the jars before pouring the jam
Our harvest is not very impressive…but he berries are the sweetest!

Thanks for reading!  We are on Facebook and have daily updates 😉 come on by and say Hi!

May showers bring June flowers??

It seems like this spring has been exceptionally wet!  The last few days have been nice and sunny. Perhaps too hot for humans and rabbits but the tomatoes and the rest of the  garden is enjoying the heat.  We took a gamble and put our starts into the ground about three weeks too early this year.  The hope is with all this sun, they will finally start to grow.  The cool thing about our tomatoes this year, even though they are super pathetic looking, they are not as spindly as usual.  Hopefully what they lack in height they make up in girth 🙂

We are already on the second seeding of radishes, lettuces and spinach.  Boy does the salad taste better when it is straight from the garden!! My mouth waters simply from typing these words…

Here are some pics to summarize our last month here on the homestead!  Lots happening.  Bunnies are growing, chickens are broody, garden is fresh and green!

Baby bunnies are five weeks old as of yesterday and will be ready to re-home in a few weeks–they are super cute!  Let us know if you are interested in a cute bunny!  We can provide the whole set up–local peeps only!

Honey (meat bunny) is bred and if all goes well–she should kindle on the 14th of June!

Debbie our ever broody hen is sitting on eggs…so far 4 chicken and 3 quail eggs.  We will be getting her a few more eggs to sit on today.  We don’t know if the eggs are fertile so we hope that we can hatch at least a few.  As for quail–we are experimenting.  Chicks should hatch on between June 2nd and 4th.

The plants in the green house are looking WAY better than outside!

Our eggplants NEVER looked this good in 7 years we have been trying to grow them.
Big bush thing is strawberry spinach–its absolutely delicious. We enjoy it in salad and smoothies. The plant next to it is a ground cherry, it has flowers…hopefully we will try the fruit this year.
Second planting of radishes. It took them 3 days to germinate vs. a week in March–yay for heat!
Cucumbers are finally growing!

The perennial garden looks great!

Maximizing space, plating garlic and onions with strawberries

Beans! and some potted stuff
Our two sister garden…corn and squash and the ugly unwanted relatives…weeds!! The plan is to pull as many weeds as we can and cover with woodchips

Our Hoppy News!

 

We got babies–9 bunny babies! Just like our human babies, bunny babies were a surprise. Just like our babies we have no clue what we are doing. This is often the theme of our life, blessings and surprises. We must be an awesome team because we can tackle anything together. We have a strong and knowledgeable support system of family and friends that help and guide us through our journeys.  Huge–no, enormous thank you to Edelweiss Ranch and Rabbitry’s Gryph!!!  She has been my bunny doula and my book of knowledge.  I know she wakes up with the sun and goes down late. Such is the life of a farmer, one that I covet.  Though extremely busy, she answered my questions very quickly at any time of day–thank you!!

Back to the bunnies! We have four adult rabbits: Buster and Honey (New Zealand and Rex mixes) and Oreo and Fluttershy (Mini Lops).

Honey and Buster are meat rabbits and we got them from a barter site from a gal who had to travel a lot to help her elderly parents. They have bread once before and had a successful litter.  They are around 2 years old. We thought that Honey was expecting a month ago as she started to build a very intricate nest. She and Buster boy usually run around the yard together and although we did not see it, we thought he finally caught up with her. We isolated her in our maternity ward. Bunnies have a 31 day gestation. Nest building can start anywhere from two weeks before kindling to day of.   Honey had what is known as pseudo-pregnancy.  Apparently, this is common if the doe and buck reside close to each other.  Honey wants to breed and we will let her soon.  She is not getting any younger and that biological clock is ticking for her.

Back to babies, I promise!  About a month ago, my sister and I were enjoying tea and chatting away, kids were playing and Paul was in the back yard, cleaning the bunny cages.  Buster and Honey were out and about.  Oreo and Fluttershy were out in their little play-yard (this is a typical set up for us). I glanced over and saw that Oreo was out of the play-yard and Buster, taking an opportunity to “meet” her.  The encounter was very brief and we did not think much of it.

About two weeks ago, on Sunday, while Oreo was running around the yard, we noticed she was gathering straw, tearing fur and running back and forth in a corner. Upon investigation, we found she had dug a burrow and was building a nest.  The bells went out in my mind and I was reminded of her interaction with Buster.   Paul and I decided to separate her from Fluttershy.  Paul was hesitant at first, thinking it was another false pregnancy (thinking of Honey). Boy am I glad that I insisted!

On Tuesday, I was making my rounds, tired after a full day of childcare. I peeked into Oreo’s cage and saw the fur move–I was pretty convinced that my mind has been officially lost.  I looked at Oreo and saw that her feet were a bit bloody–I then asked Paul if he was seeing what I was seeing!  Sure enough, my eyes and mind did not fail me, there were indeed babies!  Babies!!! Paul moved Oreo into her maternity suite and we made her a “make-do oh crap, we have babies nesting box” out of a deep baking dish.  It was already midnight and we were pooped!

Morning feeding and check went well, everyone was still moving, warm and super cute with round bellies. Mom did a good job.  Later that day, I found a kit all alone and very cold to the touch, not breathing.  The nest box was flipped over and the rest of the babies were under it.  The lonely baby was lifeless but still very soft (no rigor has set) I am not sure why, but I put him on my chest, rubbed on him and tried to warm him up.  At some point, while still very cold, I saw his mouth open.  I figured it was a muscle spasm, but also got a glimmer of hope.  The bunny started to breath and move and in about a half an hour, I placed him back into the nest with his brothers and sisters and a rock so no tipping over happened again.

The next day, despite being ill, I sent Paul to get a metal bunny nesting box to eliminate any worry for the safety of the kits.  We checked on them every two hours  for the first two days. Now we routinely do a morning and evening belly evaluations–checking for roundness.  As long as their bellies are big and round, we know they are being fed.  Today, the kits are one week old.  They have grown quite a bit and already have fur.

1day old
5 days old (less pink, getting hair)
2 day old runt of the litter-he maybe small, but his belly is always full and he is growing, he must be eating!

Oreo has been a great mama so far. We are excited to see the babies grow and learn how to hop.  Follow our daily bunny updates on our Facebook page: Homestead in the Suburbs 

Thanks for reading!!

 

 

My attempt at a Kulich–Happy Easter Everyone!

Happy Easter 2017!!

I am officially over my fear of baking with yeast, so I thought that this year, it would be good to try baking the traditional Kulich, Russian Easter bread.  I was hoping to use my mom’s recipe (her mom’s and grandma’s recipes, so very special to my heart).  I would love to learn the recipe and pass it on to my children, keeping this tradition alive for at least one more generation).

Of course, nothing went as I planned.  My challenges all began, when  I fell asleep with  the kids (four kids is no joke, I am tired)  and did not get the yeast starter going overnight.

Upon waking up, I realized that I did not complete this simple task. I briefly panicked and then  did what anyone would have done–googled a recipe for Kulich.  I found one that seemed easy enough and it was from a Ukrainian blogger (yay for authenticity).  Here is the recipe:  http://natashaskitchen.com/2013/03/23/paska-easter-bread-recipe-kulich/

It was an all day process but I was prepared for that.  The outcome was not as I hoped.  My kuliches did not come out of the molds well and the taste was good but not as good as my mamas–but I could be biased.

I had a lot of dough (I should have halved the recipe) so I made cinnamon rolls and craisin rolls as well.  Those looked pretty good.

I was able to salvage some of the kulich by cutting the bottoms off–I guess live and learn and then do what your mama tells you!!

We also dyed some eggs, chicken and quail. This craft, I feel very proficient in, the torch was passed on to me, at 16.

We did the traditional Russian onion peel eggs and the food coloring kind.

I have blogged about the process of dyeing eggs in a previous post, check out it out, super easy and very pretty.  Here is a link: Happy Easter 

The girls and I had a blast, the boys were spreading cow manure on the garden beds.

Thanks for reading and Happy Easter!!

 

Drum Roll Please!!

It’s done! It’s done!! Our greenhouse is up and semi-functional!! It is not perfect, but it was within our reach and we will customize it to make it fit our needs.  We are so proud of ourselves!!!  It took us longer than we hoped but we did it!!!

Now we put in some shelving and make some beds and the full production is on!!

My handsome hubby working hard
Almost there
In use.
Still some work to be done…but we are getting there

Next on the to do list: rain barrel and aquaponic tub set up–stay tuned!!

Thanks for reading–visit our Facebook page for updates 🙂

Picture this…

Some random pictures of our first week of spring–thanks for visiting!

Getting ready for our 2nd annual open house and plant sale
Our first year growing edible crocus’. They sure are pretty
Comfry, the magic plant…bunnies love it and so do chickens! It’s an excellent mulch and weed deterent
Camas, another edible bulb new to our zone one garden https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camassia
Bleeding heart, I find these so pretty
Chickens are laying to their fullest and the quail just began
Starts! There is lots of new plant life on the homestead and some already have been planted outside (kale, spinach, lettuce and chard)
We took down a bunch of trees in our back yard and decided to move the green house. We are in the final stretch–super hopeful to have it complete in a the next two weeks. We work as much as we can when the kids nap.
First little radish…the peas are out as well!
My new homestead foot attire–trying not to let this slow me down
Kids getting some quality time with their favorite chicken–Chicoleta




Spring is in the air

Spring is here–wait, it snowed earlier this week but I am pretty sure it’s on its way, around the corner!  Feeling very blessed!!

The perennial garden is coming back to life!

FullSizeRender IMG_0178 IMG_0179 IMG_0180 IMG_0181 IMG_0182 IMG_0183  IMG_0185

Fluttershy and Oreo enjoying their time roaming the backyard

IMG_0347

IMG_0344

IMG_0357

IMG_0356

Potatoes are going in! Emphasizing container gardening this season!

IMG_0191  IMG_0193

The girls are in the full swing of things with egg production 🙂

IMG_0218

Making starts using our soil blockers

IMG_0311 IMG_0310 IMG_0312 IMG_0313

Peas and radishes went into ground last Saturday!

If these aren’t blessings, I don’t know what is!!

Thanks for reading!!

Visit our FB page for daily updates of our journey to be self sustainable on our almost a farm!!