Search This Blog

Friday, December 30, 2011

Fantastic Pumpkin Bread

1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin (I use homegrown pumpkin or cushaw)
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts optional
1/2 cup raisins optional

(Note:  If using store bought pumpkin add 1/2 cup water)

In a large small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda cinnamon, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and cloves. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, pumpkin, oil, and water. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in walnuts and raisins if desired.

Pour into a greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pan. (I grease with coconut oil) Bake at 350° for 65-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Yield: 1 loaf (16 slices).

This bread is moist and delicious and just gets better with age!  It also freezes well. 

Pie Crust made from Leaf Lard

Single Crust

1 1/4 cups flour (Do not use self-rising!)

1/4 tsp. salt

1/3 cup leaf lard

4-5 Tablespoons cold water (you may have to use more than this)

Double Crust

2 1/4 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup leaf lard

8-10 Tablespoons cold water (you may have to use more than this)

Sift together flour and salt. "Cut"  in room temperature lard until pieces are pea size. Make a hole in the center of flour mixture and add a small amount of very cold water (1 TBS at a time) Mixing flour mixture into the water until the mixter is damp enough to stick together but not wet.  (You may have to use more than the recommended amount but you don't want your mixture too become too wet or sticky.) Form dough into a ball.   Do not knead and do not over handle. 

On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to flatten dough. Roll dough from center to edges into a circle about 12 inches in diameter.

Fold crust in half and place in center of pie plate. Unfold. Trim edges and crimp or press down with a fork along edges of pie crust.

For pre-baked shell: prick bottom and sides of pastry with a fork. Cover with foil and bake for eight minutes. Remove foil and bake for five more minutes (or until golden) at 450 degrees.

Note: I am not an expert at making pie crusts, but it has been my experience from knowledge passed down to me from my grandmother that the less the crust is handled, the more light and flakey it will be. The goal is to roll the dough out once. Using lard instead of shortening also makes a flakier pie crust.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Winner of the AMJA Registered Bull Raffle

Photo Courtesy of Career Attraction

It's Christmas Eve and that means it's time to announce the winner of the raffle for Jim Dandy, an American Miniature Jersey Association registered, nine month old bull calf!

Thank you to everyone who contributed towards the raffle!  So many people contributed asking to not even be entered in the drawing.  Donations were given in amounts of $50 -$400 dollars and a total of $1200 was raised to help Rosie in Guatemala with her cleft palate surgeries.  We are currently only $800 shy of having the total amount needed for all of Rosie's surgeries and I just want to thank each one who has contributed from the bottom of my heart.  Rosie has already had her first surgery and is doing well. 

I wrote the names of each entry on paper of equal size and folded the paper into fourths and dropped the names in a bowl.  I then asked my husband who is not familiar with the contestants to reach in and pull a name out for me.  The name drawn as the winner for the bull is


Congratulations, Melissa!  I have never met Melissa but do know that her family operates a small farm in Red House, West Virginia.  You can view her facebook page here

In the event that Melissa has changed her mind about wanting the bull calf or is unable to follow through with the terms posted for accepting him, I did pick a second name from the bowl to be our runner up.  If for any reason Melissa is not able to take the calf or meet the terms associated with the drawing, the runner up will be given the opportunity to get him.  The second name drawn from the bowl was Tonya Harmon.  Tonya also has a facebook page at this link

Merry Christmas Everyone and thank you so much for your donations!

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Picture courtesy of Rankopedia

I posted a few weeks back that I was offering an AMJA registered bull calf to the winner of our drawing in exchange for $50 donations to World Help for Rosie's surgeries.  You can read more about the bull calf and the raffle at this link

The drawing will be on Christmas Eve and the cut off for accepting money towards the drawing is midnight December 23rd.  (We will continue to accept donations towards the Rosie Project until all of the needs are met.  We currently need $1200 more to have the total $6500 needed for her surgeries.  And the good news is she has already received her first surgery!)

Included in the drawing were a few "free tickets" that were donated by individuals who did not want to be considered for the drawing themselves.  To date, I have only had one individual write to me to be considered for the free tickets.  (I have four available.)

I wanted to share with you all the essay that was contributed for the free ticket and a chance at winning Jim Dandy:

If you would consider us for one of the “unwanted” raffle tickets I would greatly appreciate it.

Having the opportunity for a bull like Jim Dandy would make huge difference in our little farm. I’ve always wanted to jump into jerseys head first but due to financial constraints can never afford to buy our dream. We’re well prepared to care for our herd, just the initial investment makes it just out of reach for us. We are trying our best to create a down to earth environment to raise children and educate others. I get so much satisfaction out of seeing my friends’ children interact with our farm animals. We’ve decided that we’re just about ready for kids, I’m just trying to get the farm in line. I want to be able to raise my children to know the meaning and value of every animal-whether they are to be eaten or to provide products for consumption. We are steadily improving our farm. In 2011, we’ve turned a great deal of junk into working equipment. We’re now raising all of our own hay on my great grandparents’ home place and bringing it home to our little farm. We have big plans to add pigs next year if everything falls into place. Things are coming together-it is hard to believe at this point, but it is finally happening. Just this week we found my great grandparents old Surge vacuum pump and are starting to restore it. Life is coming together on a shoestring budget. The value of living local is taking hold. To be able to have our own bull would be a dream come true. When I first saw your photos of Dave I was in love. The thought of having a bull like him was unimaginable, I never realized that an opportunity might really exist. I’ve tried to locate a bull to lease for breeding my girls with no luck. Jim Dandy would alleviate all of my worries about getting my girls settled, and help shape our calves to be the size a jersey is supposed to be!

My farm is also my haven from a very stressful career. Some days just coming home to the routine of the farm is good medicine. As an animal control officer I spend each day dealing with peoples lack of respect and care for animals. I’ve tried to use my animals to educate as many people as possible. My horses have been used in training for other animal control officers. I hope to be able to do the same with my cows (and eventually pigs). Lack of experience is the main obstacle that animal control officers overcome. Most want to help, but have no prior experience with livestock. The more complete my farm becomes, the more it benefits local officers and therefore local animals. Several officers have expressed interest in coming down for some hands on experience and I look forward to having them! Even if they only take home one small piece of information it will be a better chance for them to make a difference. I’ve also made arrangements with some of my college professors to have field trips out to the farm. One of my cows has a field trip of her own coming up-she is going to a local school for show and tell for history class!

I wish we were in a position to be able to make a financial contribution to the Rosie fund. What you’ve done for her is amazing and I love to follow your posts about her.

Thanks for taking the time to consider us!

We have received $800 to date on the bull raffle to be contributed to the fund for Rosie. (This has already been sent in to World Help.)  The following is a list of individuals that have entered into the drawing:







I am expecting a few more donations in the mail and those names will be included in this list and in the raffle.  If you do not see your name on this list and you have mailed me a check, please let me know.  I can include your name and contingent upon receiving your check that has been postmarked before the date of the drawing, we can go ahead and add your name to the hat!

Good luck to everyone!

*One minor correction on the information about Jim Dandy:  I went off my memory and did not look at his registration when I posted.  Upon reviewing his registration information, he is actually nine months old.  He is going to make someone a great bull!  *

Friday, December 9, 2011

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls


2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1-1/2 cups warm water (110° to 115°)

1-1/4 cups canned pumpkin

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons salt

2-1/2 cups whole wheat flour

4-1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour


In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the pumpkin, butter, sugar, eggs, salt and whole wheat flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough all-purpose flour to make a soft dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into three portions. Roll each portion into a 12-in. circle; cut each circle into 12 wedges. Roll up wedges from the wide end and place pointed side down 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Curve ends to form crescents.

Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes. Remove to wire racks. Yield: 3 dozen.

Recipe Courtesy of Taste of Home.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Meet Abraham

Photo courtesy of Awee Farm

Abraham is our new, Miniature Nubian buck.  He is a flashy boy and seems to have a great disposition.  I have seen his offspring and they are gorgeous.  And yes, he does throw spots!  Looking forward to kids in May!

Registered with the Miniature Dairy Goat Association
Sire's Sire:  Springs Run Taliesin
Sire:  Awee Farm Topaz
Sire's Dam:  Awee Farm Precious Jewel

Dam's Sire:  Tiny Blessings King Barnabus
Dam:  The Awee Farm Rachael
Dam's Dam:  Merrythought Farm Laura

Tri colored, brown with black and white spots, white ears, crown, muzzle.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chance to win a Six Month Old AMJA Mini Jersey Bull

T. Cupp Miniature's Jim Dandy is six months old and registered with the American Miniature Jersey Association as Foundation Pure.  His dam is registered at 40 inches and his sire is under 42 inches.  The following is a photo of his sire, Cape Fear Dave.

 The following is a photo of his dam, Tanglewood Mayfield

The dam is a cow that exemplifies true longevity in a dairy cow.  She is 13 years old and still has a very nice udder and continues to exhibit great overall condition even after many years of producing calves and milk.  These are the types of genetics one wants to propogate within their herd. 

I am going to sell raffle tickets for $50 each for a chance to win this awesome bull calf and all the proceeds will go to World Help for the Rosie Project. Rosie is a baby I met while I was in Guatemala who is in need of a series of cleft palate/cleft lip surgeries. The cost of these surgeries is $6500 and we currently have raised around $3600. If you would like for your name to be entered into the drawing for Jim Dandy, please send a $50 payment to me. You can make out checks to World Help and your gift will be tax deductible but donations must be mailed directly to me so that I can put your name in the drawing. (I will then forward the money on to World Help.)

My address is as follows:

Tammy Renee' Cupp
1103 Quick's Mill Rd.
Staunton, VA 24401

Winner of the calf must make arrangements to pick up the calf or have the calf shipped at their own expense. Any vet fees and paperwork necessary to get the calf ready to ship over state lines is also the responsibility of the winner. In the event the first name drawn declines, we will draw again. Calf must be picked up/shipped no later than January 15th, 2012.

We will accept donations for a chance to win Jim Dandy up until December 23rd, 2011. Our drawing and the winner of the calf will be announced on December 24th, 2011.

There is one more twist to this raffle. Several folks are buying tickets who have generously given up their chance of winning in order that someone else might have a chance at owning Jim Dandy. If you are unable to contribute to the raffle but would still like a chance at winning the calf, you may send me an message telling me what owning this calf would mean to you and why you would appreciate the opportunity to be included in this raffle. I will choose up to four names to be included in the drawing from these short essays.


In the event the winner of the calf fails to pick him up by the designated date, another name will be drawn. 

Please share with your friends and family and let's raise as much money as we can for Rosie!  My desire is to have the total amount for her surgeries by the end December 31st!

Miniature Jersey Bull For Sale

I have owned Cape Fear Dave since he was three months old.  He is a Native Pure American Miniature Jersey Association registered bull.  He is under 42 inches in height and has an excellent disposition.  He was dam raised and has a healthy respect for humans while being easy to manage.  Davie will be three years old in March and eligible for his permanent registration.  I am asking $2000 for Davie.  This price includes his AMJA registration and his health certificate to be transported across state lines.    The following photos are examples of the calves that Davie has sired:

Isaiah (owned by IdleBrink Farms)

Photo Courtesy of Marion Kanour


Jim Dandy:

Prince Charming



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Eating Real Food, Living a Healthy Lifestyle & Maintaining a Healthy Weight ~Guest Post

I am so pleased to be able to share the following guest post with you all from Joelle.  Joelle is a personal friend of mine who is living a healthy active life and eating real food.  Let Joelle tell you in her own words about her "food journey":

If you were to ask me to describe the largest part of my adult life in one word, that word would be: FOOD. Sweet or spicy, hot or cold, salty or savory, as long as it was tasty and dripping with calories, I was a happy camper. I loved to cook it, eat it, feed it to other people. I was a full-out food addict.

That wasn't the case as a kid. I can recall at least once getting spanked for not finishing the food on my plate. I picked at my meals, only eating the bits I liked, and stayed at the dinner table long past everyone else trying to gulp down enough cold undesirables to be excused. I ate the meat out of my sandwiches, ate peanut butter or cream cheese off a spoon instead of on bread, and drank as much milk as I could, sometimes making an entire meal out of the glorious white liquid. I was skinny enough those years to make my German grandmother shake her head and pass me more goulasch; at that great age where you're all elbows and knees, and I loved nothing more than to spend hours outdoors running and playing with my sister.

But like all good things, childhood ended and so did my thin-as-a-rail figure. I'm not exactly sure WHY I started eating the way I did, but somewhere in my early teens I began to eat anything and everything I could get my hands on, as much as I could eat; and so began my slow but steady rise to chubbyhood. I'm sure puberty had something to do with it all, and for about a decade that youthful metabolism allowed for such extravagance. But illness, stress of the adult working world, and just plain aging began to take their toll. Clothes that I loved to wear began to collect dust in the closet, and newer versions, ever larger, took their place. Denial is a powerful force, but eventually it began to sink in: I was getting fat. Not just chubby or full-figured, but 30 pounds overweight and gaining steadily.

This was a problem. Not even counting the self-esteem issues that grew along with my waistline, there were health issues to consider: weight-related diabetes and heart disease run in my family. I am a registered nurse and am deeply aware of the ravages of diabetes; I work with dialysis patients who have lost their kidney function entirely, mostly due to the long-term effects of diabetes. I did NOT want to go that route. I know all the statistics about obesity and heart disease - heck, I'd taught them to thousands of patients over the years, while treating those very problems Yet I found myself returning to the fridge time and again, munching, snacking, driven by a constant need and desire to feed. Dieting efforts were brief and depressing; each time I failed, I recalled memories of my own mother counting calories, drinking diet soda for decades, endlessly trying to lose and never ever succeeding. I was going to end up right in that same rut; to be honest, actually, I was already there.

I want to clarify that I did not eat badly by most standards. Several years ago I decided to ditch city life and dragged a couple of friends along on this crazy adventure in which we purchased a small hobby farm and learned to raise our own food. I baked my own bread, made my own spaghetti sauce, and rarely ate take-out. Sure, I had a sweet tooth, but I also ate lots of potatoes and home-raised meat, though vegetables were not my favorite and usually consisted of corn or green beans. I try to avoid processed food as much as possible; slow changes, but they add up over time. Yet still, at this point in my life I was sick and getting fat. Food was my life, it was the first thing on my mind and I thought about it all day. I cooked and I ate; everything else was incidental.

I had finally given up on the idea of ever fitting into my favorite clothes again, resigned to quietly fattening for the rest of my life, when an article in a magazine caught my notice. I read a lot - city girls don't last long on a farm without a LOT of researching! - and the boast that eggs and bacon can make you not only healthier but skinnier too was an offer too good to refuse. As I read about the idea of low-carb diets, things began to click in my head. Despite the fact that the information went completely counter to modern nutritional wisdom, here was a diet that made sense to me: not a fad of torture and deprivation, but the idea of deeply and richly feeding your body's nutritional needs with dense, tasty, satisfying foods so that your system doesn't constantly drive you to eat eat eat.

No only that, I was attracted to the emphasis on eating Real Food: eating local, seasonal food raised as naturally as possible. Returning to the old food wisdom of cooking with butter and eating your meat, of believing that good food could be tasty too; not pumped full of chemicals and stripped of all natural fats and flavors like much of today's "healthy" offerings. Looking at the end result of fifty years of current nutritional guidelines - heart disease claiming ever greater numbers of us, diabetes and obesity a raging epidemic that's beginning to encroach into the lives of even our children - really makes one start to wonder if we got it wrong somewhere; or at least that you can't be risking much to try something different, even something as different as practically reversing all "rules" of healthy eating.

So I tried it. Out went the sodas, bread, pasta, even my beloved - homegrown! - potatoes. In came the bacon, eggs, sausage, steaks, pork, chicken, tuna and cheese. It took a few days for my carb-driven system to get over the lack-of-sugar shock, and another few weeks before it no longer felt weird to not have all my usual starchy side dishes with meals. But as I stuck to the diet, a funny thing started to happen; my taste changed. Vegetables, long disdained in my household, gained new respect. I began to cherish every bite of those nutritional gems; broccoli dipped in garlic butter became a quick favorite and great alternative to garlic bread. When I did occasionally reach for the carbs, I found a bite or two was enough to make me put it back; it was either too sweet or just not as tasty as I remembered. The real food - vegetables grown in my own garden, milk from my own cows, fruits grown locally and meats raised on grass - took on a totally different level of awesome. The subtleties of real nourishment quickly relegated the fleeting pleasures of instant-gratification carbs and processed foods to the bottom of my food ladder. Sure I still enjoy junk food once in a while; but as a treat, not a staple.

And as far as weight loss went, at first it wasn't anything dramatic: I only lost about 7lbs the first 2 weeks. Then I lost 2lbs the next week. And the next week. And the next week. And EVERY week, like clockwork. For the first time in my life, the scale was consistently moving DOWN; and I was eating amazing food, rich with fat and nutrients, I was feeling more energy and well-being than I had in years. My appetite dropped; it didn't take 3 helpings of everything to fill me up any more. In fact, sometimes I missed entire meals simply because I forgot about them. The weight was falling off of me as if by magic, without even resorting to rigorous exercise.

It wasn't magic of course; it was simply getting my body to do what it was designed to do. By drastically reducing my highly processed carb intake and returning to a more natural diet high in healthy fats and proteins, I basically rebooted my metabolism to do what it should: break down fat as well as build it. The magic was simply in the awesome design of our bodies, and the miracle of giving it the right tools to do what it already knew how to do.

Now I'm not a trained nutritionist, nor am I a doctor. I would never recommend a single diet approach for everyone; everyone is unique and different people have different needs. Additionally, I would never claim that a simple change in diet can solve all health problems; bodies do sometimes just plain break, and need medical intervention to return to health. I've been on that side of health care, and I have nothing but respect for what modern science can do.

But I can tell you this: sometimes what we "know" to be true is just plain not correct. Maybe it's misinformation or misinterpretation of the information, but science doesn't always get it right. Sometimes old wisdom is worth a second glance; sometimes they knew more back then than we know right now. I can tell you that changing my diet - getting away from modern food and dietary wisdom and returning to old-timey ways - changed my life and health for the better. I am fitting into clothes I thought would never again see the light of day. I have lost 28 pounds and 4 dress sizes. I am more active, more energetic, and more respectful than ever at the simple but profound process of nourishing oneself; a process we Americans tend to view as a right rather than a privilege. And the funny thing is, I'm back where I started: picking the meat out of sandwiches, eating (homemade) peanut butter off of spoons and making a glass of milk a meal more often than not. Guess I was smarter about my eating habits back then than I thought I was!

I know most people can't - or won't! - move to the country and start milking cows. Most people will never learn to slaughter their own chickens or can gallons of spaghetti sauce made from scratch. And that's OK! If all of us became farmers society would miss out on some great stuff. But I think the simple life deserves a respectful second chance. Already our society is realizing that produce bought from local Farmer's Markets are often of better quality than the grocery stores can offer, People are staring to take notice. I for one cannot emphasize enough that changing my approach to food has changed my life for the better in so many ways. I'm glad I didn't stick to modern wisdom; I'd be on the fast-track to diabetes and heart disease, ready to take my place amongst the pill-poppers of our society.

No thanks; I'll take my garlic-butter broccoli instead, thank you very much, with a side of bacon.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Dominique Chickens

We welcomed ten new Dominique hens into our flock this week.  These young pullets have just started laying and hopefully will give us some eggs throughout the winter months. 

Dominiques are also known as Dominickers or Pilgrim Fowl.  The latter is a historical reference to the breed that originated in America with the Pilgrims.  It is believed that the birds descended from chickens brought to America by the Pilgrims.  The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy gives the following information on their origin and history:

The Dominique chicken is recognized as America’s first chicken breed. The exact origin of the breed is unknown, although their initial creation may have involved European chicken breeds and later in its refinement, some Asian varieties. The name of “Dominique” may have come from birds that were imported from the French colony of Saint-Domingue (today known as Haiti) and which are thought to have been used as part of the development of the Dominique breed.
Barred chickens with both rose combs and single combs were somewhat common in the eastern United States as early as 1750. As interest in poultry breeding increased, attention was given to develop uniformity in chicken breeds. Early names of these fowl include Blue Spotted Hen, Old Grey Hen, Dominico, Dominic, and Dominicker. The breed was widely known on the eastern coast of the U.S. as the Dominique.

The Dominique was plentifully bred on American farms as early as the 1820’s, where these birds were a popular dual-purpose fowl. In 1871 the New York Poultry Society decided that only the rose combed Dominique would become the standard for the breed and the single combed Dominiques were relegated to and folded into the Plymouth Rock breed – popular in New England, created by crossing large, single comb Dominiques with Java chickens. Dominiques were never used commercially, and the breed was eventually eclipsed on the farm by the gradual shift to the larger “Plymouth Rocks.” In 1874 the Dominique breed was officially admitted to the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection.

The Dominique enjoyed popularity until the 1920’s at which time interest in the breed waned due to the passing of aged, long-time Dominique enthusiasts and breeders. The breed managed to survive during the Great Depression of the 1930’s due to its hardiness and ease of up-keep. By the end of World War II as industrial poultry operations began to take a foothold in the U.S., the Dominique once again experienced decline. By 1970 only 4 known flocks remained, held by: Henry Miller, Edward Uber, Robert Henderson, and Carl Gallaher. Through the effort of dedicated individuals the remaining owners were contacted and convinced to participate in a breed rescue. From 1983, following published reports on the breed by ALBC, until 2006, Dominiques steadily rose in numbers. As of 2007, it has been observed by the breed’s enthusiasts that numbers are once again beginning to decline, as old time breeders of Dominique age and are no longer involved with keeping and promoting the breed.

The Dominique is a medium-sized black and white barred (otherwise known as “cuckoo” patterned) bird. The barred plumage coloration is also referred to as hawk-colored and serves the Dominique in making the bird less conspicuous to predators. The Dominique sports a rose comb with a short upward curving spike that is characteristic to this breed. The males average seven pounds and the females five pounds. The Dominique’s tightly arranged plumage, combined with the low profile of the rose comb, make this breed more resistant to frostbite than many other breeds of fowl. Dominiques are also known to adapt well to hot and humid climates. Historically the close feathering of this breed not only protected the birds in cold weather, but provided ample material for the pillows and featherbeds of their owners.

 They are considered a dual purpose bird, raised for both their meat and the eggs that they lay. (The birds weigh approximately 6-8 pounds when mature and lay between 230-275 eggs a year)  In recent decades as the Cornish and Cornish X birds have set a new standard for meat birds and birds such as the Leghorn and Sex Link chickens have set a standard for egg producing birds, the Dominiques have been rejected.  At one time, they almost became extinct, but thanks to recent interest in heritage birds, they have made a come back and are no longer on the critically endangered list but are now listed on the "watch" list with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. 

Often confused with Barred Rocks, Dominiques are in fact different. The Dominique has a rose comb and the Barred Rocks have a single comb.

Rose Comb

Single Comb

(Illustrations courtesy of University of Illinois Extension)

Dominique photo courtesy of Harvest of History

Barred Rock photo courtesy of Wikipedia
The Barred Rock has a more distinctive barred pattern in their plummage than the Dominiques.
Dominique hens are an easy going bird, good foragers, and tend to be good mothers.  They are  a welcome addition to our flock!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Turkey Talk

The subject of my blog post today will be turkeys.  While I admit it would be better suited to save a turkey post until the month of November, I am just a little bit excited and couldn't wait!

I have been trying to include a new species to the farm each year.  (Last year it was the hogs.)  This year I just about let time slip completely away from me before I added the new farm members. 

I have been wanting to raise turkeys for some time but have been intimidated because I have heard they are hard to start.  I was able to find two juvenile turkeys and brought them home being told they were Royal Palms.  It didn't take me long to realize that they didn't look exactly like Royal Palms.  While their conformation said they were Royal Palm, their coloration spoke differently. 

A friend saw a photo of the turkeys today and asked me if they were "Calico".  I had never heard of a Calico Turkey before and began to do some research which led to some very interesting information.  Upon seeing photos of other Calico Turkeys (also known as Sweetgrass Turkeys or Ronquière if the turkey is known to be of more ancient heritage),  I am pretty sure the two I have are Calico Turkeys. 

I took the following information from Porter's Rare Heritage Turkeys:

In 1996 a few tricolored birds appeared out of a Heritage Bronze flock in Big Timber, MT, at Sweetgrass Farms. These birds had a heavily marked royal palm pattern with chestnut red. The name Sweetgrass was put on this strain of tricolors.

The Sweetgrass genotype is (b1b1cgcg) Black winged bronze based with Oregon Gray (aka Palm genes) They breed 100% true to color/pattern.

The Ronquière is obviously an ancient breed of turkey and quite interesting (although the American counterpart is not so ancient).  I found information on this breed from the Association for Promotion of Belgian Poultry Breeds
Origin : The Ronquières is a very ancient native turkey breed of which the first evidence goes back to the sixteenth century, only a few decades after the discovery of the turkey in America by the Spaniards. This breed owns its name to the village of Ronquières nearby Brussels where this turkey was bred on a large scale since the eighteenth century. However at that time this breed was already kept in every part of Belgium. The two World Wars almost eradicated this turkey. Only the ermine variety knew to survive in Germany by the name ‘Cröllwitzer’. It was only at the beginning of the nineties that by coincidence an authentical very small breeding stock of other Ronquières varieties was recovered in the Campine region of Belgium. Meanwhile all the original varieties of the breed have been bred back from this breeding stock without any crossings with other breeds.

Characteristics : The Ronquières is not a heavy turkey and doesn’t produce a large quantity of meat but its meat is of very high quality. The Ronquières exceeds every other turkey breed by its vitality and its fertility. The hatching results are remarkably high compared to other breeds. The hens lay very good a brood easily. They are very good sitters and excellent mothers. The poults grow up without any problems.

Appearance : The Ronquières is a primitive light turkey of which the toms weigh 9 to 10 kilos and the hens 4 to 5 kilos. The head is remarkably bluish and has only few carunculs. The beak is bone-white with a bluish base. The shanks and toes are always white. The plumage always shows a number of breed-specific characteristics that are present in every variety (except the white). The primaries are always darker than the secondaries and show a typical ‘stippling’. The quills are always pale in color. All the other feathers tend to show ‘penciled’ markings (like the dark Brahma) and a very fine white edging follows the black edging of each feather.

Varieties : The Ronquières is the only turkey breed with more varieties, no less than five. Besides the self-white, there is the ermine which shows a fine black edging on each feather, and the yellow-shoulder which is identical to the ermine except for the brownish yellow path on the shoulders and the saddle region. The fawn has a yellow-fawn groundcolor with a very fine almost invisible black edging and the partridge has a grayish brown groundcolor with a heavily contrasting penciling. The toms of this variety are much darker than the hens. Very remarkable is that the poults of all these varieties hatch with near white down.

Several of these ancient varieties are known under another name in different countries. In Germany they have the Cröllwitzer (ermine) and Krefelder (partridge), in France the Tricoloré du Colorado (yellow-shoulder) and in the U.S the Royal Palm (ermine) and Sweetgrass (yellow-shoulder). All these varieties are quit recent and none of them already over 100 years old. All the Ronquières varieties are much older and were pictured in very old photographs and paintings. The oldest painting with a Ronquières turkey goes back to Antwerp in 1566 !

‘The Four Elements: Fire.
A Kitchen Scene with Christ in the House of Martha and Mary in the Background’
Joachim Beuckelaer
(active 1560 to 1574)

Photo courtesy of Period Food Link.

Do we have the Calico breed of Turkey?  I will let you be the judge.

Regardless of what we have, we are enjoying Tom and Henny very much and plan to allow them to breed and hopefully hatch out some of their eggs in the spring. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Two Weeks Until Bidding is Closed on Vida!!!!

Photo of Vida with new mixed breed calf.

We are down to the final two weeks of bidding.  Bidding will be closed at Midnight on October 16th.  All proceeds from the sale of Vida will go to help pay for cleft palate surgeries for Rosie, a baby I met while in Guatemala.  We can arrange that payment be made directly to World Help which means not only will you get the calf, but your donation will be tax deductible.    See original post for up to date information on bids

Friday, September 30, 2011

Local Ingredients and Fabulous Friday Night Pizza

I was very fortunate to be able to buy some locally grown wheat from some friends of ours, Brian and Coleen.  (Coleen's blog is Polar Ridge Farm and located at this link.  Check it out as I know you will really enjoy it!) 

Tonight I used the wheat to make homemade pizza and boy was it delicious!  I also used honey that some friends picked up for me in Nelson County and raw Jersey milk and butter to make the crust.  The crust was very filling without being "heavy" and had a wonderful flavor.  I only ate two pieces but I am stuffed!  You can find my recipe for the crust on a previous blog post by clicking on this link

The pizza was topped with sausage from our very own hogs and onions from our garden as well as fresh Mozzarella cheese made from milk from our Jersey cows.

 I don't bake a lot in the summer because I don't want to heat up the house, but there was a chill in the air tonight and it felt good to be in the kitchen!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Photos of Rosie and I

Next to Princess, Rosie is the most loving calf I have had born here.  She is just naturally friendly and affectionate.  She is more like a puppy dog than a calf.  My daughter was around this afternoon and I told her to grab the camera and take some photos of Rosie and I together.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Captions Anyone?

Here are a few fun photos.  I am sure you all can come up with some fun captions.  Feel free to leave comments in the comments section!

Photo # 1 ~   Princess

Photo #2 ~ Apple


Photo # 3 ~ S'Mores
Photo #4 ~:  Tori and Emmy

Photo #5 ~ Emmy

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Ebb and Flow of Milk Production

We are not a commercial dairy.  We do not have a scientifically proven feeding program that assures we get maximum production from our cows.  Frankly, we don't want it that way.  We prefer that our animals graze, and although we do supplement with a small amount of  grain to help them maintain body condition, we do not push them for production.  What this means as far as the quantity of milk is concerned, is that in the spring when the grass is lush, green and plentiful, is when cows produce the most milk.  In the fall, when the grass begins to die back, the production begins to fall.  Of course, we then switch over to hay, but the cows simply do better grazing on green grass. 

Other factors contribute to the milk production as well.  One such factor is the stage of lactation for a particular cow.  As a cow gets further and further into their lactation, their milk production will drop.  Currently, my cows are basically split into two groups:  spring calvers and fall calvers.  I do have a few stragglers that calved in summer.  (And I won't have any calves born October - January.) 

Another factor in the amount of milk we have is share milking.  I am very adamant about letting the calves be dam raised.  I believe this is how nature intended for things to be, and unlike many dairies (commercial, organic, micro, raw dairies and many family cow owners alike), I leave my calves with their dams for at least three months.  This greatly affects the amount of milk that I am able to gather for human consumption.  If I have a higher producing cow, then I may be able to get a gallon or two per milking over and above what the calf is taking.  However, most of my cows are bred to be low producers and by the time the calf is several weeks old, they are taking all of the milk.  When the calf is about two months old, I begin separating them from  their dams during the day, milking the the cow in the evening, then putting the cow and calf back together for the night.  This means the calf has approximately 12 hours to nurse and can continue to grow into a healthy, young bovine on their momma's milk. 

The biggest factor of all to the decrease in available milk is, of course, the fact that the cows are "dried off" two months ahead of calving to give their bodies a break and allow them to prepare for the new baby. 

This "ebb and flow" of milk production can lead to some stressful moments when I either have too much milk or not enough, but all in all it works out and I am able to hold to my ideals and principles.  So many times, I take for granted that folks just understand why things are the way they are, until I stop to think about the fact that most people would not have any reason to know.  Hopefully, this post will be educational for those who did not have a reason to know before.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Random Photos

Rosie is almost eight months old now.  She is spoiled rotten. 
Vida loves the camera.

Tom the Turkey

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Angel Food Cake

I made another round of Pumpkin (Cushaw) Custard today and had the egg whites left over from the other day when I made the recipe as well as from today.  So, I decided to make an Angel Food cake.  As far as I can remember, this is the first time I have ever made an Angel Food cake.  I like to keep the recipes that I use here on my blog because I use this rather than using a cook book!  When my internet goes out, I am lost!  I have to dig out my old cook books and follow along the old fashioned way! 

Original Recipe Yield 1 - 10 inch cake


1 1/4 cups cake flour

1 3/4 cups white sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups egg whites

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract


1.Beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks, and then add cream of tartar, vanilla extract, and almond extract.

2.Sift together flour, sugar, and salt. Repeat five times.

3.Gently combine the egg whites with the dry ingredients, and then pour into an ungreased 10 inch tube pan.

4.Place cake pan in a cold oven. Turn the oven on; set it to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Cook for about one hour, or until cake is golden brown.

5.Invert cake, and allow it to cool in the pan. When thoroughly cooled, remove from pan.

Angel Food Cake recipe taken from