Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Farm House Face Lift - A Month Spent With The Amish

Our old farm house just recently received a much needed face lift.  Larry and I purchased this house about 20 years ago and it's now time for some much needed work.  We replaced the roof when we moved in but it's now time to do it again.  Larry made contact with Chris Miller an Amish man who had replaced the roof on my sisters house and had him come and give us an estimate.  While Chris was here, Larry said give me an estimate on windows, and siding while your at it and so the month long renovation process began.
This was the ripping off of the roof but it also gives you a look at what the house looked like before renovation.
As the work began, at first I thought I should probably keep my distance from the Amish men, they probably think I'm a heathen woman not wearing a dress.  This was my own crazy thinking and didn't last long.  By the first couple of hours I had introduced myself and struck up some conversation.  My curiosity gets the best of me pretty easy.  By the second day, I said "Chris, I have a question for you."  He said, "let me guess, Amish Mafia?"  I said, "yes, is that stuff for real?"  Chris informed me that there is no way that is real.  He told me someone had showed him a clip of the TV show on a cell phone.  He said the people on the show are speaking PA Dutch but the things they are doing and saying, there is absolutely no way they are affiliated  with any Amish.  This broke the ice and opened the door for many more conversations about the Amish way of life.  I found it all very interesting!
I did ask for permission to take photos before I began.  Chris and the other guys said it is ok for me to take photos but they could not pose for a photo.  I also said I would be posting this on the internet, Chris also said that would be alright with him.  He carried a brief case with him each day and we would jokingly ask him if that was his Mafia brief case and did he have weapon in there.  He would just laugh at us.  
The day I took this photo, I walked up and said, "Chris, what modern convenience would you choose to have, if you could have it today?"  He thought for a minute and said," no one has ever asked me that before," Then he said, "I think it would be my tools."  He said that any power tools that he has in his possession he rents them, even the little trailer that his driver man pulls to all of his work sites for him, he has to rent it.  He said, "I wish I owned my own tools."   We talked at great length that day and as we talked, his 3 employees gathered around and joined in.  One thing that kind of made me sad, was that he really couldn't explain why he lived the way he did, or why they aren't allowed certain things that could make life a little easier.  
Come to find out, they are just as curious about us as we are about them.  They began asking questions as to what I did with all of these chickens and how it all worked.  Shortly after that conversation I went back in the house and I seen them all head for our barns, checking things out.   I asked them later if they found the $75 Jubilee, he said he didn't think so but I showed him later.  
They always kept a hat on their head, while working they wore a sock hat to keep warm. When work was over the straw hat went back on the head.
Each day their driver would drop them off for work and pick them up.  They took regular breaks during the day and that was when they would head off and take another farm tour.  As they worked, it was a joy to hear them outside laughing and visiting.  They never had a harsh word and there was much laughter.

These two young men are brothers.  As we talked and learned more about each other.  They informed me that all the wages they earn goes to their father up until they reach the age of 21 or they get married.  They didn't seem to mind that dad was getting all of their money, they informed me that girls can be trouble.  I said your exactly right. Larry teased these to young guys a lot. 

 The day that they ripped the windows out of the house was one of the coldest days of the year.  I told Chris, If you need anything I'll be in my bedroom, with the heat cranked, answering emails and watching TV.  I didn't hear anything out of them for most of the day, so I decided I better go check things out.  I found Chris with a broom and a feather duster when I walked in the dinning room.  I said what are you doing?  He said "Ms Angie I've made a terrible mess of your house putting this window in."  It was a funny site but I could tell he was stressed out over it.

I'm sure our mower tires don't have a chance this summer, we have so many nails everywhere.  I rolled a magnet around as much as I could.  Many of the nails are aluminum so the magnet wouldn't  pick them up.  
 One evening as they waited for their driver to pick them up Larry and I took the opportunity to visit with them for a bit.  That evening we talked about school and church.  The Amish children only go to school up to the eighth grade and only speak Pennsylvania Dutch during that time.
Church services are held in the homes of the Amish families that have enough room.  I asked how many people your house would need to hold, he said around 30 families.  I said, "that's a great reason to build a small house."  Not only do they have the church service in their home but they also feed them a meal.  He said it normally consists of the same food each week, chicken and noodles, potato salad, baked beans and pie. I said, I can't imagine the work that is involved in getting ready for that and they do it for two Sundays in a row.
I asked if he could explain rumspringa to me.  I've heard so many crazy things on TV shows, like Breaking Amish, it's hard to know what to believe and I can tell you it's false.  He described it as, when the kids reach the age of about 16 they are allowed to join the youth group at church, It's also a time of supervised courtship.  In the youth group the kids get together to sing and fellowship together.  I asked, so it's not a time when the kids choose if the want to remain in the Amish lifestyle? He said no, you can choose to leave at anytime you want.  What I had also read about shunning was also untrue.  It's amazing what you can find out if you'll just ask and not assume.

The old farm house looks great, they did a wonderful job and we had such a good time getting to know them while they worked here. Maybe we'll have them back for a barn raising someday.
Have A Great Day!

Friday, January 30, 2015

And The Lucky Winner Is....

Congratulations To....

Elizabeth Fanning
Your the winner of the framed print, created by Nicole McArthur.
Thank you to all who participated and thank you Nicole for the framed print, can't wait to see what you create next. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Framed Print Chicken In A Sweater - Free Giveaway

Free Giveaway 

We will be choosing a lucky winner on Friday to receive this very cute framed print of a Lavender Orpington is a pretty pink sweater.  This print is created by Nicole McArthur, she has some really neat items in her Etsy Shop that you need to check out.  
Follow the steps below to sign up for the drawing and check back with us on Friday to see if your the lucky winner.
Complete these steps to sign up for the giveaway:
1. You need to be a follower of the Chicken Scratch Poultry Blog.
2. Check out Nicole's Etsy shop ChickensinSweaters and put her in your Favorites, go ahead and like her Facebook page while your there.
3. Leave us a comment below telling us you would like to win the print.

A winner will be announced on January 30 here on the Blog, so don't forget to check back with us.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hey It's Time For A Free Giveaway!

It's Time For A Giveaway!

I received the neatest card in the mail over the holidays from one of my customers, Nicole McArthur and on the front of the card was the most beautiful Lavender Orgington in a pretty pink sweater. Nicole has started an Etsy shop, with some really cute stuff for chicken lovers.  I personally like the note cards and calendars.
Well today Nicole has very generously offered a framed print of her Chicken Scratch Poultry hen in a sweater, to give away as a free gift.  I think it looks great hanging on my barn wood entry way! The frame measures 12x10 inches, with a very pretty rustic look. 
Follow the directions below to get your name in the drawing.

Complete the steps to sign for the giveaway:
1. You need to be a follower of the Chicken Scratch Poultry Blog.
2. Check out Nicole's Etsy shop ChickensinSweaters and put her in your Favorites, go ahead and like her Facebook page while your there.
3. Leave us a comment below telling us you would like to win the print.

A winner will be announced on January 30 here on the Blog, so don't forget to check back with us.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Blue Berry Oatmeal Cake And Wonderful Memories

Last night we had our son and grand daughters out for dinner, their mama was having some ladies over and they needed a place to eat.  What better place to come than to grandma's house.  As I planned the meal I decided to make a dessert before they arrived.  As I thought about what to make I began to think back to our trip this past winter to Alaska and a cake my sister in law made while we were there.  It was a delicious Blue Berry Cake.  I know you all must have some blue berries stashed away in the freezer like I do.  As I began to mix up the cake it brought back such good memories of our visit with family and how much fun we had.  As I pulled out the pan that I wanted to bake the cake in I chose one that belonged to my great aunt Freda, it's an old metal Ovenex pan, made in the USA, you don't see that much anymore.  Baking in aunt Freda's old pan brought back more great memories.

This is a simple recipe and you will more than likely have everything in your house that you will need to make it.  You can serve this as a coffee cake or just as a dessert.  You can probably substitute the blueberries for black berry, raspberry, or cranberry and it would be just fine.

1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup oats
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil
1 cup blueberries

Mix ingredients together and pour into an 8x8 pan and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.  You can double recipe to fill a 9x13 pan and bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.

Glaze recipe
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 t. almond extract
3 t. milk
Mix together and pour over warm cake.  This is the most awesome glaze ever!  You might want to make a little extra and make it extra glazy, yum!

After I gave everyone a piece of cake last night and they began to eat, the conversation between my 3 year old grand daughter and her grandpa was like this.  Grandpa, want to play hide in sink after we are done eating, grandpa says, I don't think I'll fit in the sink, no grandpa you can hide under the table if you want too.  More wonderful memories made.  
Make some great memories tonight, I hope you have a blessed day!


Friday, December 19, 2014

Homemade Bulk Pancake Mix - Guest blogger Andrea McEwen

Hello again, from North Pole, AK, where we are having a relatively warm and easy winter. We haven’t even seen -20 yet!  We only have about a foot of snow so far, and the northern lights have been very active this winter.  God is good all the time, even when it is -50, but it sure is easier to milk goats and keep chickens happy at these balmy temperatures!
The last time I posted, I shared my recipe for instant oatmeal.  Sticking with the breakfast theme, I am going to share my pancake recipe today.  I’ll give you a small recipe that you can try out, and then at the end I will give you my bulk equivalent recipe if you decide, like me, that this needs to be a regular staple in your kitchen!  Here is what you will need:

1 C flour
1 T baking powder
½ t salt
1 egg
1 C milk
3 T oil
*If you add another egg and a little oil, this works for waffles also.

Place your milk, egg, and oil in a mixing bowl and whisk together lightly.  Add the flour in 1 cup at a time, whisking slightly between cups.  

Then add the baking powder and salt and mix well.  Let the batter sit for 5-10 minutes, it will get bubbly and rise slightly.  If your batter seems a little thick, add a little milk.  I like mine thinner, but some people like theirs thick to soak up the syrup! 

 Heat your griddle to 350* or your skillet on your stovetop.  I like to butter my griddle before beginning for buttery pancakes, but it isn’t necessary.  Pour your batter onto the griddle in small circles, 3-4” diameter.   

When they start to bubble on top or dry around the edges, flip them over carefully.  When the middle seems like it should be done, put those ones on a plate and do it again!  Homemade pancakes are delicious, and really simple to make!  For my family of 5, a 2 cup batch will mix up enough pancakes if I am serving some eggs or meat with them.  If it is strictly pancakes, then I make a 3 cup batch.  Serve them with butter and maple syrup, and I guarantee they will lick their plates when you aren’t looking!

By the way, I love to use fresh ground soft white wheat flour in my recipe, but any flour will do.  However, fresh ground flour loses nutrition quickly, so when I make up large batches of this mix I stick it in my freezer (also known as the great outdoors this time of year!)  I also use fresh goat’s milk and eggs from my Chicken Scratch Poultry layers.

All right, I also promised you a bulk recipe, so here it is:
24 C flour
1 ½ C baking powder
4 T salt

Mix it up thoroughly, and put it in an airtight container for future enjoyment.  For every cup of mix, add in 1 C milk, 1 egg, and 3 T oil.  Sometimes, if I am taking this mix camping or fishing, I will add in some powdered milk to make it even easier.  I would add about 3 C of milk powder to the full batch, then all you need is water and eggs for your pancakes!
Well, I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as mine does!  I would love to hear from you when you try it out!   - Andrea

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Homemade Ricotta Goat Cheese

I shared with you last week about how I learned to milk a goat while visiting our family in North Pole Alaska.  It was such a neat experience, goats are such sweet animals and from what I could tell just by being with them a few days, goats seem to be fairly easy to care for and don't require a large amount of room to keep them.  That being said I don't have goats myself, so I could be totally wrong. One thing I do know is that if you plan on getting goats for milking, this is not a job you can take a break from, you milk twice a day on a goats schedule not your own schedule.
After we had milked the goats I was interested in tasting the milk for the first time and Andrea, my sister in law also suggested we make a quick and easy Ricotta cheese.  Larry and I poured a small glass and swirled and sniffed it as if we were wine tasting and then took our first sips of goat milk.  It was surprisingly very good.  Larry and I had both been disappointed in the past at tasting goat cheese for the first time, so we were at bit gun shy at tasting the milk.

Ricotta Cheese
This recipe can be halved or doubled and can also be made using whole cows milk form the store if you don't have a goat.

Heat 1 gallon milk to 206 degrees

Add 1/4 cup white vinegar, stir in 1 Tablespoon at a time until the whey is a clear green.

Stirring gently, the curds will begin to form.

Notice how the whey has turned a light green.  This process only takes a few minuets.

Gently ladle the curds into a cheesecloth lined colander and drain for 1 minute.

Place the curds in a bowl and mix in 3 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.  Refrigerate and enjoy.  I must say it was delicious! 
Now your ready to make a delicious lasagna or baked spaghetti.
Leave us a comment, we would love to hear of your experience with goats, let us know if you find them easy to work with and care for.  Do you find them useful?  How many products can you produce with a goat?  Come on goat lovers share with us.
     Have a Blessed day!