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Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Hen that Touched Our Lives

 
 
 
You have to understand that I am not particularly fond of chickens.  Oh, I like them well enough to own about 60 hens but if they didn't provide delicious, free range eggs for us, I would not own them.  I do not enjoy raising meat birds and I do not make pets out of them.  However, the spirit housed beneath the feathers of the bird pictured in this photo changed all of that for me. 

We didn't make her a pet.  She just "was" a pet.  We never named her and there was really nothing to distinguish her from the other 50 Speckled Sussex hens running around the farm other than the fact that she singled us out and chose to love us. 

I received this little hen as part of a group of mixed breed birds that a friend of mine started and then sold when they were several months old.  Every morning and evening as I milked and worked on the chores, she would follow me around and talk to me in a special voice.  I will never, ever forget the sound of her calling to me.  It was soft and conversational. 

It didn't take us long to realize that she enjoyed being held.  We would pick her up and stroke her feathers, talking to her and enjoying her company.  She and Spencer, the Corgi, also had a special relationship.  Spencer watched out for her and if he thought she needed to be somewhere else, he would very gently "herd" her.  He didn't run at her and spook her but would gently lay his mouth on her tail and turn her, not nipping and barking like he usually does. 

I loved this little hen's tempermant so much that I bought all Speckled Sussex last year for our laying hens.  While they all have a quiet disposition, none of them became pets like this little hen. 

We would sometimes talk about how much it would hurt to lose the little hen when it came her time to go but we never really wanted to think about it too much. 

Then one day a couple of weeks ago,, I saw the body of a hen lying under the roost.  Normally, I will remove a dead bird but I walked away.  I didn't want to look any further.  Later, I told Mike and he went to remove the bird confirming that he thought it was our little friend.

There was no way for us to really know because she looked like all the other Speckled Sussex in the barn yard.  But, I knew if she was alive she would greet me at chore time. 

The days have come and gone and I have waited for her.  Sometimes another hen will come close to the door of the milking parlor and peer in and I watch to see if maybe it is our little friend.  But, she has not returned.  Sometimes I hear a hen speaking in conversational tone and for a moment, I think it might be her until I realize that it's not her sweet voice calling me. 

She was five years old and I like to think that she went to sleep on the roost and died in her sleep peacefully. 

Goodbye little hen.  You are missed and will always hold a special place in our hearts. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Kids Meet the Children!

What a fun day it was at T. Cupp Miniatures!  Some of our share members were able to bring their children to the farm to meet Buttons and Bows, our Mini Nubian goat kids!  The children were so careful with the goat babies and things went very well!  Beautiful children and beautiful kids!  It doesn't get any better than that!  We had six children in attendance.  Thank you to the parents who took time out of their busy lives to share this experience with their children.  I believe it is so important for children to learn where their food orginates as well as to plant in them the desire to seek out humanely raised animal products. 

We had a snack of Chevre and Feta as well as the opporunity to drink goat's milk.  Each child went home with a bar of goat's milk soap. 















Note:  Permission was received from the parents to post photos of the children and anyone who did not grant permission, their child's photo was not included. I was unable to get photos of everyone as it was difficult to monitor activities and photograph at the same time. In the future, we need a designated photographer for such events

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Babies, Babies, Babies!!!!!

For those who may not know, Mike and I (the farmers) are welcoming three (human) grandbabies into our lives in the very near future!  Our daughter Kristin and her husband, Nate, are expecting twins in May!  Then, our other daughter, Alissa and her boyfriend, Gab, are expecting a baby in August!  Lots of joy in our home at this time as we anticipate the arrival of these little blessings!  Grandma T Cupp is very happy to have been chosen as babysitter for all three little blessings and that means that T Cupp Miniatures MUST downsize before that time!  (The Cupp Family Farm portion of our joint farming venture as a husband and wife team WILL NOT BE DOWNSIZING because SOMEONE has to make some money around here so we can buy things for the grandbabies!) 

With that said, please take a look at our "Animals for Sale" page (here) and see if we have anything there that might interest you!

And to brighten your day, here are a few of my favorite photos of the animal babies that were born on our farm last week.  We had a total of two goat kids and four calves born in a week's time.




Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Making Hand Pies

Hand Pies



I shared this photo on my Facebook Page and had several folks request the recipe.  Problem is, like with many things, I don't really have a recipe.  I should have taken photos while I was preparing the hand pies, but I didn't.  So, I will try to explain how I made them and hope that those wanting to replicate can make sense of it!

First of all, I used my recipe for pie crust made with leaf lard.  The leaf lard is seriously the secret ingredient that makes the crust so delicious and these little pies so scrumptious!  We raise our own hogs, fatten them up on Jersey milk and render our own lard. 

After making and rolling out the pie crust, I used a large cookie cutter to make the hearts and an extra large drinking glass to cut out the round pies. 

I had some cherry pie filling that I had made from cherries Mike picked several years ago and I used that to make my hand pies.  Basically, the way I make my fruit pie filling is to cook the fruit with sugar until it is soft and then add a bit of cornstarch mixed with water to thicken it up.  (You can also use flour and water to thicken it up if you are opposed to using cornstarch.  The cornstarch is less likely than flour  to leave lumps in the filling, in my opinion.)  Another good choice would be this apple pie filling that I have canned or make a peach version of the hand pie! 

In the center of the bottom crust of each little pie, put a small amount of your pie filling.  Then, cover the pie with the top crust.  Take a fork dipped in flour (and continue to dip it in flour as you go) to crimp the edges of your hand pies.  Then, place your little pies on a clear, glass, ungreased, Pyrex dish.  (I used a 9 x 13.)  Place your pies in the oven that has been preheated to 350 - 375 degrees and let them cook. 

Watch them carefully as you don't want them to burn and it doesn't take long to cook the little pies.  (I estimate maybe 10 minutes?) 

Remove them from the oven and you can then brush them with butter while they are hot (if you wish) and sprinkle with granulated sugar.  Or, you can let them cool and then sprinkle with powdered sugar.  You can also make a powdered sugar glaze by making a paste from powdered sugar mixed with a small bit of milk.  Or, you can just leave them plain, as they are really good without any additional sweeteners!

Allow the pies to cool on a wire rack is best, but you can improvise by allowing them to cool on a paper towel or kitchen cloth.  You just don't want them to sweat on the bottom when they are cooling. 

My intention was to freeze some of these little pies for snacks later but it doesn't look like I am going to have any left to freeze! 

Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions!

~ T Cupp