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The Marans are an old heritage breed.  They were developed in the marshy areas of France. They are a dual purpose bird - my roosters dress out at an averaged 4 to 6 lbs. They are prized for their dark chocolate brown eggs, laying about 275 - 300 eggs per year.  The brown color in Marans' eggs is the result of a layer of pigment deposited over a finished egg as it passes through the oviduct.  You can even scrub the dark coating off the eggs whereas with other eggs the tan pigment is built in to the shell calcium.  The egg color is graded on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the darkest.  The minimum acceptable color for a Marans egg is a 4#.  A pullet might lay a amazing 7# to 9# because of being delayed in the oviduct and as a result being spray-painted extra long.  Our hens have been proven to be able to lay #4 eggs or darker.  Our line comes direct from Bev Davis - the originator of the Wheaten strain.

The French version is feather legged; the English is clean legged.

There are 9 recognized colors in the French Standard: Cuckoo, Golden Cuckoo, Black, Birchen, Black Copper, Wheaten, Black-tailed Buff, White and Columbian.

The Blue Wheaten variety is not yet recognized in the Standard.  We are working on genetics with the breed - as there is a problem producing Blue Wheaten roosters.  We have two Blue Wheaten boys at the moment:)
Here is one of my Blue Wheaten roosters and some Wheaten hens:
Here is a Splash hen:
The Wheaten line carries feathered shanks and amber eyes.  They are a strikingly beautiful bird.
 
 
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We made country fried steak tonight!  It is certainly one of my favorite dishes!  So, I thought I'd share it.  This is so delicious and also easy to make!  It is said to have originated in Texas.

Here's what you'll need:
  • 4-8 cube steaks (if you can’t find cube steak, just have your butcher run a few round steaks through the cube machine or take them home and pound them with a meat mallet on both sides)
  • 1 cup (or more) Lard, coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper or freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • dash of nutmeg or cayenne pepper
  • 3-4 cups milk - preferrably real milk:)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
Whisk eggs in mixing bowl and set aside.  Sift flour, garlic salt and pepper on a plate.
Then dredge the steaks in flour (really thoroughly), dunk them in the beaten eggs and coat them in flour again.  Be sure you can't see any meat showing.
Get out your skillet and put the oil in. Heat oil to 360 degrees Fahrenheit.  The temp. might seem silly but you want a crispy outer crust on the steaks not a oily soggy one.

Fry the steaks until honey-golden on each side.
Set steaks aside on a paper-lined plate.  And now about the gravy.  Now you have lard and crunchy bits in the pan.  Turn pan heat to medium or medium-low.  Scrap the flour mixture leftovers into the pan (there should be about 3 tablespoons).  Use a whisk or a fork to incorporate the flour into the oil.  Keep this whisking while you add the milk in a little at a time.  It should be thick enough to coat the edges of your pan and whisk.  If it’s too thick, just add some more milk and stir.  Feel free to add some extra salt and pepper.
Now serve up the steaks with gravy on top!  Enjoy!

Yummo!
 
 
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We just made a batch of lard - the worlds most delicious and nutritious fat!  For anyone still in doubt about the fat / cholesterol scam - some recommended reading:
Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig
Eat Your Cholesterol: How to Live Off the Fat of the Land & Feel Great
by William Campbell Douglass II
Folks back in the day - ate lard every day - lived longer, healthier lives, worked harder and lived better.  But enough about that - on with the fun!


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You will want to get your hands on some pasture raised / naturally raised pork fat.  Find a local farmer - make sure they are not using antibiotics, medications or the like.  Take about 10 lbs. of pork fat (preferably leaf lard).  I haven't had luck doing bigger quantities than that because it seems like it can't render as well with too much mass, and the cracklin's won't crisp up.  See below - if you miss the last stage you are missing the best part - cracklin's!!

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Chop the fat into small squares, the smaller the better.  The more surface area you have the quicker the rendering is and the higher the yield.  Even if you have a big pot.  If you feel so inclined you can even grind the fat.  But you want no bigger than 1"x1" chunks.  This particular batch I cut to about 1/2" to 1/4" thick.

Add a little water - about half the volume of the fat - and bring to an uncovered slow boil over low heat, stirring frequently. The water helps the fat not burn or stick to the bottom.  Eventually, the water will evaporate, and the golden liquid left is the melted fat.  You will know when this happen because the bubbles will look different. 

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Keep cooking until solid fat has melted.  Your house will have a wonderful warm meaty aroma.  Stir frequently to mash up the fat bits, and prevent burning. 

The solid fat will get crispier and crispier as you can see below.  Start ladling the liquid fat out and pour through a cheesecloth lined container.  The key is to take out the lard in batches, the first batches being the lightest and best lard.
PictureSee the difference in the color of the liquid?
Make sure you leave liquid in the bottom with the solid fat in the pot.  When you can't ladle any more because the the liquid fat is too low then you want to stop and let the solid fat crisp up (make sure you don't tip the pot to get more, the solid fat needs a certain amount of liquid fat to crisp properly).  Once most of the solid fat is crisp you want to dump the whole thing (Solid and liquid fat) through the cheesecloth then once the liquid has drained through, dump the crispy solid fat that is in your cheesecloth, back into the pot.  You will want to have dumped the first liquid that you drained off into jars, you don't want to mix them, because the first jars will be pure white and the later ones will be darker.  You'll want to use the lighter for pie crust or bakery items but the darker lard you will want to use for fried chicken, pork steak, etc.  If you did have some meat bits in there, don't throw it out.  It's been cooked in this delicious fat for hours.  Eat it!

PictureThe cracklins!
And now for the best part.....the cracklins.  Fry the remaining solid fat like you would bacon, until its all crispy.  But you have to watch it close because it could burn easily. When they are nice and crispy dump them out on a plate and salt them.  And there, you have your cracklins!  Try not to eat them all now, save some to add to scrambled eggs or bake them in biscuits.  My absolute favorite way of eating them is in cracklin' biscuits and homemade sausage gravy!

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You'll want to let the jars sit out and cool to room temperature, then you can put them in the freezer.  They will keep for a long time in the refrigerator and even longer in the freezer.  Notice the first photo above - the jar at the far left (front) is slightly darker than the rest - this is the lard rendered while the cracklin's were crisping up.

You can make the flakiest, yummiest pie crust in the world with lard!

Enjoy!

 
 
We had to take the cattle through four fields and into a trailer to then take them to their winter pasture.  Nothing beats galloping at full speed along side a herd of cows - the horse's mane and tail flying, the wind rushing past you, at a full gallop horse and rider become one!
What a blessing to be able to participate in moving these animals! 
 
 
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It is canning time!  We are canning lots of different kinds of pickles, relishes and peaches!  It feels so good to look at the shelf of canned goods after all that hard work!  Homemade - homegrown - lots of food saved for winter - what a blessing! 

Peaches

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 Blanched Peaches.

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Sliced and ready to can!

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All done!

Garlic Dill Pickles

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 Lots of garlic - lots of jalapeno!

Bread and Butter Zucchini Pickles

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 Recipe courtesy of my dear friend!

My Great-Grandma's Sweet Pickles

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Perma-Guard dogs and cats pest Insecticide
Perma-Guard Garden
Perma-Guard grain and seed storage Insecticide
Perma-Guard Household Insecticide
Perma-Guard Use Guidelines
   
    "Diatomaceous Earth Fossil shell flour.  Through the history of man's existence, uses have been found for diatomaceous earth, and today there are 1500 ways for man to benefit from this material.  The diatomaceous earth used in our Perma-Guard product comes from fresh water deposits, and the purity is exceptional.  In fact, it is so pure, that the Food and Drug Administration has given it a FOOD GRADE designation (source - Perma-Guard, Inc). 
     "Farmers have had a great success in using the diatomaceous earth as a natural wormer for their livestock.  It can be fed at 2% of the total ration.
    "As a grain protectant, diatomaceous earth will also help the feed/grain flow easier.
    "Although it kills slowly, diatomaceous earth is highly effective in repelling incoming insects as long as it is on the surface.  The uses range from in and around the home (ticks, fleas and lice) to a large number of field and orchard insects."
    - Fertrell Newsletter - "Notes & Quotes"

Call now to order your Diatomaceous Earth today!
 
 
We photographed the progress of this Bantam - day 4, 10, 14 and 18 then photos of the hatch.  You can see the progress as time goes on - so amazing to watch!  We chose a bantam because they are the lightest color eggs we are currently hatching, and therefore the easiest to see into with a candler.

Day 4:


Day 10:


Day 14:



Day 18:



Day 20 and 21:
 
 
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Photo of a 4 day old bantam egg in incubation - stay tuned to see how this bantam develops - we will be photographing its progress.

1.      For people that sell eggs for consumption. It is important that the quality and impression is maintained as professional. If someone finds “something” in a farm raised egg they are often times physiologically traumatized at the horror of what they might find next time – due to this physiological bias  they are reluctant to purchase farm eggs again. It also allows the farmer to very clearly see any cracks in the eggs helping to produce a safe and satisfactory product for the customer.

2.      For people that sell eggs for hatching – clearly distinguishes cracked eggs, frozen eggs, and other damage, it is even possible to gauge the age of the egg based on the air cell size for those that free range their birds and discover a nest.  

3.      For small homesteads to mitigate losses of naturally incubated poultry. A natural nest can be evaluated for fertility, ceased development, bacterial infections and other previously stated issues. The possibilities are endless here, two or three nests can be consolidated into one, then the hens “de-broodied” and reset, this can often times gain weeks or months of progress. Entire nests may have to be destroyed because of a new hen that did not get the incubation schedule right, again saving tremendous time. Rotten eggs may be avoided, saving the others etc.

4.      Fertility evaluation. Fertility can be evaluated as soon as possible saving vital time during the breeding season.

5.      Hatcheries, breeders and hobbyists

6.      Increased operator confidence, this gives people ‘control’ -  it allows them to feel as though they are the ones managing their breeding practices and progressing. This allows them to make crucial changes in a timely and informed manner  when otherwise they would be at the mercy of the slow processes of nature i.e. a nest that doesn’t hatch after a month.

The eggs ray increases homestead and hatchery productivity, maintains professionalism of egg producers, improves bio-security of natural nests and incubators, and gives the operator greater control of their business.

Call to order your Fleischmann Eggs-Ray today!

 
 
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Our Buckeye hen finally has her little chicks - after 21 long days of constant motherly care over her eggs!  She is so patient with them.  When it gets cold she clucks to them and gently shoves them under her with her beak.  The chicks are learning to take dust-baths, look for bugs, eat, drink and all the other things they need to learn.  I think it is so amazing how God's creation works - how a little puddle of goo can turn into a live chick!  And how a mamma hen knows how to sit on the eggs for the right amount of time - she knows if an egg is bad and she'll push it out of her nest - then she knows how to care for the chicks when they come out of their eggs - how to teach them to do all they need to know.  With their tiny little brain, yet they are perfectly equipped to do all they should.

 
 
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Our Khaki Campbell ducklings, Silkies and Old English Game bantams go out to pasture in their Chicken Tractor - enjoying the sun, eating grass, scratching, pecking - they love it!

Khaki Campbell ducks are amazingly cute and busy - constantly on the move - so full of personality.  I love it when they turn one eye up toward you to see you better!