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We’re Not Just Kidding Around

This is the week we are preparing for kidding/lambing. Each year we excitedly anticipate this season. Each evening we lead all of our expectant mommas to their stalls to spend the night inside just in case they go into labor. Sometimes it is a seamless stroll to the barn and other times if can look like a goat and sheep rodeo. Regardless, it is always fun and having my daughter Katie help me each night is a great blessing,

Having everyone inside at night helps me to make sure I can keep an eye on anything that may go wrong. It gives the ladies a quiet space all their own. About six weeks prior to kidding/lambing time I start an herbal regimen for each one. I call them pregnancy herbs, but Erin calls them ‘more stuff to carry each morning.’ Even though it takes more time and dedication, the results are amazing. We have some of the healthiest kids and lambs around. Our mommas almost always throw twins if not triplets and they do so with ease.  By three weeks out we increase several vitamins and minerals. This ensures they have everything they need during the bleak cold and wet months of winter.

Katadhin Lambs (5 min old)

This year moving the girls to the barn in the evenings was perfect timing. We have had a cold snap, yes even in GA we have cold snaps. I definitely don’t want them to kid/lamb in the field on a night where temperatures are below freezing.

So now it’s all about the waiting! Even though I am impatient for the babies, I find this time of year a great lesson in God’s timing.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells us that everything has it’s time. And even though we often think we know better and strive constantly to take control over all things, it is in fact God who ordains all things. This makes me praise Him all the more, since if left to me all would be a train wreck. He knows what is best for us and cares deeply for each of us as our Good Shepherd. I rest in that truth and look forward to this exciting and busy time with contentment.

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Duck or Chicken, Which Egg is Best?

Have you ever considered the differences between duck and chicken eggs? I had never really imagined that there was a difference. They are both birds, eat similar diets, but there is a lot more to eggs than I realized.

According to a Healthline.com article, written by Cecilia Snyder, MS, RD on December 1, 2020,* the following chart of nutritional information shows a big differences:

Duck EggsChicken Eggs
Calories223149
Protein12 grams10 grams
Fat18.5 grams11 grams
Carbs1.4 grams1.6 grams
Fiber0 grams0 grams
Cholesterol276% of the Daily Value (DV)92% of the DV
Choline36% of the DV40% of the DV
Copper6% of the DV7% of the DV
Folate14% of the DV9% of the DV
Iron20% of the DV7% of the DV
Pantothenic acid24% of the DV
Phosphorus16% of the DV13% of the DV
Riboflavin28% of the DV29% of the DV
Selenium62% of the DV43% of the DV
Thiamine10% of the DV3% of the DV
Vitamin A23% of the DV18% of the DV
Vitamin B615% of the DV8% of the DV
Vitamin B12168% of the DV32% of the DV
Vitamin D8% of the DV9% of the DV
Vitamin E13% of the DV8% of the DV
Zinc12% of the DV9% of the DV

I have come to understand that there are also big differences in raising these two types of birds. Our ducks have been less susceptible to weather changes, have more sustainable laying habits, and statistically they live longer than chickens. They are much easier to keep inside their fence and they nest on the floor of their house which allows us to maximize space by keep our rabbits above them. They seem to be good roommates. 😊

The duck downfall is water. They love water, but are extremely messy with it. Our chickens daintily drink from their waterers, while the ducks attack their pond with a vengeance, and it becomes stinky and dirty very fast.

We filmed this one morning. these ladies LOVE to get out for their morning swim!

So, I haven’t decided which birds I prefer. For now, we will continue to keep both and really enjoy both types of eggs in different recipes. All the while knowing that whichever eggs we use, they are full of great nutrients, and harvested in an ethical way.

Check out this recipe for Shakshuka

*Duck Eggs vs. Chicken Eggs: Nutrition, Benefits, and More (healthline.com)


 

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Rabbit: Rediscover A Grass Fed Meat

Why meat rabbits? Yes rabbits are cute and cuddly, but they are tasty and nutritious as well. At our farm we use rabbit in place of chicken. For centuries domesticated rabbits were raised as an important food source. Here are several reasons why we love rabbit!

  1. When comparing the two meats we can see (according to https://foodstruct.com/food/rabbit-meat) that rabbit meat is higher in protein and most minerals than chicken.
  2. We just love the fact that we know where our meat comes from and what they are eating. Our rabbits are raised on grass from about 4-6 weeks of age. We built them a lovely rabbit tractor and move them three to four times per day.
  3. Processing rabbits is much easier than processing meat chickens. Both jobs have their ugly side, but rabbits are far less work.
  4. Rabbit pelts can be an extra product that can bring revenue for the farm.

We are excited to bring fresh rabbit meat to our customers at this year’s Cartersville Farmers Market. We are hoping that the nutritional value and the sustainability of this grass fed animal will be beneficial for our farm and the health of our customers.

Here is a delicious recipe we use often

Ginger Curry Rabbit with Lentils and Leeks

Prep:  25 mins

Cook:  55 mins to 1 hr

Servings:  4

Ingredients

  • Whole rabbit cut-up
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt or salt
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 large leeks, halved lengthwise, rinsed, and sliced
  • 1 small orange, cut in wedges
  • 1 cup French lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14 ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth 
  • 1 cup dry white wine (optional)
  • 1 – 2 heads baby bok choy, separated into individual leaves

Directions

Sprinkle rabbit with 1 tablespoon curry powder and salt. Brown rabbit pieces in 4-quart Dutch oven in hot oil over medium-high heat. Remove from pan. Add ginger, leeks, orange wedges, and remaining curry powder. Cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until leeks are tender.

Stir in lentils, broth, and wine. Return rabbit pieces to pan. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cook, covered, for 55 to 60 minutes or until rabbit is tender and no longer pink (170 degrees F).

Remove rabbit; stir bok choy into lentil mixture. Use slotted spoon to serve. Makes 4 servings.

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Smoked Leg of Lamb with Tomato Fig Chutney

One of our favorite ways to cook lamb is on the smoker. The low temperature melts that lovely fat and creates a moist and tender meat. The smokiness enhances the natural flavor of the meat and the result is delicious anytime of the year.

This past week we used a mustard marinade on our leg. Then we pan seared some Brussels sprouts, smothered them with a mint feta sauce and added oven roasted potatoes. We topped our lamb with a bit of our Tomato Fig Chutney and had a most delectable Lord’s Day meal.

Mustard Marinated – Cuban Smoked Lamb

  • One 3-6 lb Lamb leg or shoulder (from Footehills Farmhouse)
  • Yellow mustard
  • Oregano
  • Footehills Farmhouse Garlic Salt
  • Dry curry spice
  • Dry Thyme
  • Dried chili peppers (if you like heat)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • Footehills Farmhouse Tomato Fig Chutney

Coat your lamb with a generous amount (all over) of yellow mustard. Make a spice rub out of all dry ingredients listed and coat the mustard with the dry rub, it helps to pat it into the mustard. Place the lamb in the refrigerator overnight. Smoke the meat, fat side up, at 225-250 degrees for six hours. I like to use pecan or apple wood for my smoke. After roughly six hours remove the lamb from the smoker and place it on tinfoil, cut the butter into chunks and place them all over the top part of the lamb. Coat with a bit more yellow mustard and wrap the lamb tight in foil. Place the lamb back on the smoker for one to two more hours. Remove the lamb and let the meat stand for 25 minutes. Serve the lamb sliced with a dollop of Tomato Chutney, Cuban rice and beans, and green veggies topped with garlic aioli.   

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Keep dreamin’

My mind often wanders back to a time when the romantic thoughts of running a small sustainable farm, and a focus on feeding people were an invasive desire.

Circa 1995, Louanna and I were traveling through the winding mountain roads outside of Sparta, NC looking at property. We grew up in Upstate New York working farms and picking vegetables in our family gardens, but life had led us away from the country to the coast of North Carolina. We longed to return to our roots but had no money.

As we rounded a corner we came upon a small white house surrounded by gardens, beehives, and animals. Off in the distance sat many small shed style guesthouses. I forget the name of the farm but a sign said come work for your meal.

It was my first experience with agro-tourism, a term that wasn’t used a whole lot in the mid-1990s. I was sold! Little did I know from that point, I would spend sixteen years living in subdivisions. The dream was still alive but very dim.

Good things come to those who wait. So they say. Finally, with the help of our family, we now proudly own and operate Footehills Farm. We’re just under twenty acres of rolling hills in NW Georgia.

Farm life is busy, but we have a great time growing vegetables, hunting game, delivering fainting goat kids, butchering hogs and serving our customers some of the freshest meat and produce available in our neck of the woods. Not to mention homemade soap production is always in full swing.

I have learned enough to know that it is not easy to be a farmer and hopefully I can share some ups and downs through this blog that will help you on your journey to the farm, on the farm, in your backyard or even at the store or farmers market. I intend to post tutorials of success and warnings of failures. Until then, keep your hands dirty!