FREE Mulch!!

Well, its that time of year again.  The leaves are falling and they are EVERYWHERE!  We didn’t Rake up Our leaves until We moved to Hidden Truth Farm.   We have come to realize the value of Our leaves as We need mulch on Our little farm.  Now We try to re-purpose most everything including Our leaves for mulch.  This is the best time of the year to maximize on covering Our plants, even those in the greenhouse.  They all need a little blanket of leaves as mulch to keep them warm & cozy.

Brian & I spent the weekend gathering Our leaves.  It was a bit of a challenge I’ll admit as We had to compete with the wind.  I think We picked the windiest weekend to collect leaves.   The job is done!  Now Our plants benefit from a blanket of fresh leaves to keep them nice & warm.   We also put plastic on the greenhouse to protect the plants from these cold cold nights.  During the day We are still having to use a fan to keep them cool since it is getting between 80 ~ 100 degrees inside the greenhouse during the day.  We don’t want to burn up Our next croft of goodies with the increased heat inside the greenhouse.

As you can see we had a lot of leaves on the property and honestly there were so many we couldn’t get them all up.  But we picked up enough to add quite a bit to Our compost for the garden which will be turned over in January.  This will give the bugs and whatever else wants to root around in the compost pile time to help reduce it all into a rich organic nutrient fertilizer for next years crop.

Fall is going to turn into winter before We know it.  Always trying to stay ahead of the seasons so We can have Our crops ready to roll out.  Every season allows for the opportunity to plant & store Your delicious return.  Winter crops are no exception!  If You love the dark leafy green veggies, winter is a great month to plant and harvest those delicious vegetables.   The soil needs to be ready as cold weather doesn’t allow for error.

Happy planting Everyone!

~ Angela


Benefits of Bone Broth

Bone broth is an easy way to help our bodies naturally. Adding bone broth to your daily routine will help heal the body from inside.

The benefits of adding bone broth  into your diet are:

  1. To promote Joint Health
  2. Aid in Better Digestion, helps Leaky Gut Syndrome
  3. Bone Broth is Rich in Minerals
  4. Improved Immune System
  5. Can also Protects against cold & flu

Bone broth isn’t just your regular stock made after a few hours of simmering a chicken carcass. For beef broth simmer 48 hours and chicken broth simmer 24 hours. This simmering causes the bones and ligaments to release healing compounds like collagen, proline, glycine and glutamine that have the power to transform your health from the inside. Bone broths contain minerals in forms that your body can easily absorb: calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, & sulphur.  Several studies have supported the benefits of bone broth in our diet.

Bone Broth

The bone broth recipe is thick & gelatinous, filled with minerals and healing properties that many cultures have believed in for thousands of years.

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs beef/chicken bones
  • 12 cups water
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 medium onion, roughly diced
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 t black peppercorns

Instructions

  • Place uncooked or cooked beef or chicken bones in a large crock pot and cover with water.  Add the vinegar , let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
  • Roughly chop the vegetables and add to the crock pot.
  • For beef bone broth, simmer for 48 hours, for chicken bone broth, simmer for 24 hours.
  • Allow to bone broth cool slightly & strain.  Pour broth into a sterile glass mason jar.  Refrigerate for 4-6 hours or overnight.  This will allow the fat to rise to the top and solidify.
  • Scrape the fat off the top with a spoon & discard.  This will leave you with a gelatinous bone broth when cold.
  • Store in a glass mason jar or freeze until ready to use.  When ready to use, slowly warm the broth over a low heat to bring it back to a liquid consistency.

Bone broth can be a part of your daily routine, drink 1 cup per day or by adding the bone broth while preparing your meals as if using beef/chicken stock.

~ Angela

 

It’s Wild Blackberry Pickin Time

Yum…It’s Blackberry Pickin’ Time!

Yup around here the blackberry bushes are loaded with wild blackberries right now.  This morning as I went for my morning walk I saw several blackberry bushes just waiting for someone to come along and pluck the ripe berries from their vines.  It’s a bit tricky though, most of the blackberry bushes are heavily guarded by these nasty thorn spiked weeds that stand tall & proud to guard those juicy berries.  I came up to the house grabbed my boots, Berry Picker Scoop &  Berry Basket and Colander , headed back down to the awaiting bushes.  All the while thinking about what I’m going to do with all those berries.  After about 30 minutes of picking I came back to the house rinsed my berries in the berry basket & colander,  let them dry a bit and placed the berries on a cookie sheet lined with my Silicone Baking Sheet Mat to allow them to flash freeze without sticking together. Once these babies are frozen they are much easier to use in my favorite recipes.  My daughter, Tatianna loves to bake I asked her to make some of her delicious blackberry lemon scones, recipe below.  I don’t know about your part of the country,  but here in North Carolina it’s super humid right now, while she bakes I decided to mix up a pitcher of Blackberry Mojitos that recipe follows as well.

It can be a bit treacherous of course these bushes are strategically placed just out of reach.  Watch out for hidden dangers like over grown drainage ditches to creepy crawlers in the grass and weeds.  But once you come away with your bounty of blackberries the work is most certainly worth the adventure.

Blackberry Lemon Scones

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup butter, cut into pieces
grated zest of a lemon
1 large egg
3/4 cup milk, use more if needed
a big handful of blackberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 425F.  In a bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add the butter and blend it with a fork, whisk, pastry blender or your fingers (or do it all in the food processor, if you have one), leaving some lumps no bigger than a pea.

Crack the egg into a measuring cup and add milk to make it a cup.  Stir it together with a fork and add to the flour mixture; stir with a spatula until just barely combined.  Add the berries and stir a couple more times, then drop the sticky dough in large spoonfuls onto a silicone baking sheet mat.  Sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar, if you like.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or less if you made small scones, until golden.

Recipe courtesy of dinnerwithjulie

Blackberry Mojitos

Ingredients

Serves: 2 servings

2 tbsp fresh mint leaves
2 tbsp granulated sugar
4 oz rum
½ lime, quartered
2 tbsp fresh blackberry juice (I pressed the blackberries through a strainer to get the juice)
Club soda
2 mojito glasses or 2 tall glasses

Directions

Place 1 tbsp mint leaves into each mojito glass.  Pour 1 tbsp of the blackberry juice into each glass. Squeeze a little of 2 lime quarters into each glass.  Then drop the lime quarters into the glasses.
Pour 1 tbsp sugar into each glass.  Press with a muddler.  Add 2 oz of rum to each glass.  Add ice to each glass until it is ¾ full.  Top off with club soda, shake,  then add the mixture back to the glasses.

Recipe courtesy of thisgalcooks

~ Angela


 

Balancing Work and the Homestead

Grinding out the work week sitting in a cubical staring at a computer screen is something none of us enjoy.  Unfortunately the lottery folks have not called yet to tell us we can skip off into retirement, so from Monday thru Friday we deal with the rush hour traffic to and from the office all while our mind’s wander thinking about the homestead waiting for our return.  One fortunate thing for Angela and I, we do work in the same building, so we have the opportunity to carpool together, that is time we use to defuse from the day and plan our evening.  But for those who homestead like us, there is no such thing as a part time list of items to attend to when we arrive home.  From caring for the animals and garden to projects left unfinished from the weekend, we have to try and squeeze a day’s worth of work into a few hours of sunlight once we pull into the driveway.  It isn’t always easy, but we are such a great team, we always seem to make it work.

It has to be time to leave soon!

Homesteading is a lifestyle that does not fit everyone.  You must be dedicated to the responsibilities that come with the territory, even on those days you just don’t feel up to it.  You now have animals who depend on you, crops that need watered and cared for on a daily basis.  Soon we will begin planning for our fall and winter crops, which means getting the new greenhouses build, water collection system in place and tested, purchasing the seeds we will need to sustain us through the winter.  The days of coming home and dropping down on the couch staring blindly at the TV are thankfully over.  Honestly, we wouldn’t want it any other way!

Happy Squash is Good Squash!

Our goal is to one day be able to leave the rat race behind and focus completely on the homestead, but we knew from the beginning that would take some time.  There is still a lot for us to learn, even though I honestly believe the education never stops.  There are always going to be trial and error moments but we need those failures as much as the successes.  That’s what is going to take so our homestead will be as self-sufficient as possibly.    Being able focus on work and provide the support expected of our team can be a struggle sometimes.  I will catch myself visualizing the next project we have to do, or what we have to complete when we get home, but I will snap back into reality to focus on the job at hand, all the while counting down the minutes before we jump in the truck and head to our little piece of heaven.

My baby with two of our girls

We have a lot of awesome additions we will be adding to Hidden Truth Farms in the near future.  We are extremely excited to be able to share those with you as we get them completed.  This is without a doubt a completely different lifestyle than what we were living just a year ago.  Every night though while we are sitting on the back porch looking over what God has blessed us with, one of us will glance over with a look of contentment on our face and say to the other “Baby, I love our life!”  And that ladies and gentlemen makes it all worthwhile!


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Through the Eyes of a Child

The girls had company today.  There have been other visitors to Hidden Truth Farms since we raised the flagpole in the front yard, but today was a special day.  An awesome couple from Chapel Hill contacted us through our Facebook page in search of farm fresh eggs.  One thing that is important to us when customers contact us for eggs, we like to invite them over to let them see the farm see where the chickens live & play.  This gives our new guest an opportunity to ask us any questions they may have regarding the chicks & their health.  Our goal is to raise healthy chicks with quality eggs.  Here is what made today’s quest different than any other visit, two 7 year olds!  When the family contacted us they asked if it would be possible for their daughter to see the chickens.  We told them we will do you one better, bring her over and I’ll let her help me with the daily chores.  To me, there is nothing better than getting kids involved.

I had just finished piddling around the greenhouse when they arrived.  I walked out to meet them in the driveway and to my surprise, not one but two young ladies jump out of the back seat.  As soon as they closed the door I could see how excited they were.  I introduced myself to Mom & Dad, turned to the girls and asked if they were ready to see the chickens. Both of them got a huge smile on their face and in stereo yelled “YES!”  I laughed and said good, but I’m going to put you to work.  Apparently this was not a problem for the two of them.  One thing you need to understand about our chickens is they are extremely friendly.  When we go out to collect eggs each day, we have to get them out of the coop or they will all try to love up on us, or maybe they are trying to eat us, it’s hard to tell.  I scooped out some scratch for them and we headed to the chicken run.  As we got to the door one of them stopped for a second and asked, “Are we going in there”?  It could have been that all 24 of our babies were in a full blown sprint heading towards us that made her a little apprehensive, I told her they are just excited because they know its snack time, which is our girls favorite time of the day.


If you’ve ever been around seven year olds, I mean seven year old girls, lots of energy to say the least.  It was delightful to see these two littles enjoying our girls as much as Angela and I do.  After a few minutes of playing “let’s catch a chicken”, I gave them the scoop of scratch and let them spread it around.  Now that we had them occupied, we moved to the coop.  I gave one of them the basket, because how can you have them visit and not let them collect their own eggs!  The smiles on their faces as they were going around picking them up was priceless.  Something to know about our babies, they like to play a game of “guess where I laid my eggs today”.  These two young ladies seemed like seasoned pro’s when it came to gathering them up.  They didn’t leave a piece of bedding unturned as they completed their hunt.  After spending a little time in the coop answering some of Mom and Dad’s questions, the girls asked if they could go back into the chicken run and see them again.  As the adults chatted, the girls were inspecting the run, paying close attention to the door leading out from the coop.  It is about 15” x 10” in size, so not a lot of room to work with.  As we were talking, we heard “I did it!”  We turned around and realized their daughter had managed to crawl through the chickens’ door back into the coop.  That, everyone is why we love to have visitors, you never know what you may see!

~ Brian

Why we are here!

A year ago, we never would have thought we would be homesteading.  We were living in the middle of suburbia, surrounded by cookie cutter homes, HOA covenants, a yard I could cut with a weed eater, and we were absolutely miserable!  One night, as we were immersed in a gladiator like game of Yahtzee, our conversation became filled with talk of open spaces, self sustaining, animals and the quietness of the country.  By the time Angela had put a wrap on another glorious dice beat down, we had decided it was time to pull up stakes, say goodbye to the neighbors and find ourselves again.  The road we traveled from then until now has been an awesome adventure to say the least.  We sold our home in one day, loaded everything we owned into a 10′ x 20′ storage unit, hooked the travel trailer to the Tundra and began our search for heaven!  After 4 months of bouncing back and forth between campgrounds, hours of clicking through every realtor website we could stumble upon, and a few moments of wondering if we made the right choice, on 19 Aug 2016, our prayers were answered, we had found our new homestead!  We agonized through the longest 45 days of our lives waiting for closing, making excuses just to drive out to look at it, when on 6 Oct 2016 the day finally came when we could pull in the driveway, unhook the travel trailer and walk through the front door of what had officially become Hidden Truth Farms.  Since then we have been hard at work to make our dreams a reality and it has been life changing in just this short amount of time, and we want to share it with you!  Come along with us as we transition from what many consider the mainstream type lifestyle to one of self-reliance, self-sustainment and most importantly, peace!