Monthly Archives: October 2014

Farmgirl {One Word, Many Definitions}

What is the definition of Farmgirl to you?

Ever since becoming the Ranch Farmgirl for MaryJanesFarm, I’ve had that question going through my mind.


Is it eagerly awaiting the arrival of your first calf of the season – and then not being able to keep your eyes off of it once it’s born? Continue reading

A Different Kind O’ Four-Leaf Clover

There’s a wonderful resource that sometimes goes untapped. Here’s a hint…it started nationally, has gone international, and is over one-hundred years old! It’s an original “social network”…where kids ages 7 to 19 can have fun, learn new skills, feel like they “belong”, and adults can volunteer. Have you guessed? I’m talking about 4-H! Generations of families have participated in 4-H clubs, a positive source still relative to today’s world. It’s had an impact on my “young farmgirl” daughter and friends!


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Fall Feathering


Dear sisters,

Where did October go? It seems like we just turned the page on September and here we are in FULL fall feathering mode! What does that mean for the Beach Farmgirl exactly? In this case, it means cleaning the chicken coop! This is one of my FAVORITE farmgirl chores! It makes me feel good inside to know my girls will be safe and warm should the weather take a sudden turn for the worst. It is hurricane season in New England, after all. Come on in and visit with the girls and I while we clean and cluck through our fall feathering chores.


Here they are coming up to say hello and see if I brought any kitchen scraps with me. Our flock has shrunk to only 6. We’ve lost a couple or our sweet girls this year. One of our senior citizen hens died of old age and another was frightened out of the chicken run by a coyote that was rushing fence in the wee hours of the morning. We heard some unusually loud clucking noises and by the time we were out of bed and dressed to go downstairs all we could see were Liza Jane’s feathers scattered all over the back lawn. Our run is over 8 feet tall and was only partially covered on one end at the time. We’ve since remedied that! Losing one of our special girls was a hard price to pay for not finishing that chore when we started it.

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Our coop has one entry door located on the inside of the run. The bottom of our coop is covered in vinyl flooring that has been stapled to the plywood floor. All I need is a rake to pull out the pine shavings. Then I sweep out the floor and get the cobwebs out of all the nooks and crannies with a broom. I have to shoo the girls out of the coop before I can rake out the shavings which always ruffles their feathers a bit. I get it! I don’t like being shooed either! You can tell by the looks of the litter in the photo above that it’s time. It’s wasted down to a couple of inches and loaded with feathers. I change it out every three months rain, shine, or snow! We have a large run so I just rake the old shavings right out onto the ground, away from the coop entry and move it to a far corner where the girls can scratch in it and it will compost further. Then, come springtime I go in with a shovel fill my wheelbarrow with fresh compost ready to be mixed in to soil for my container gardening, raised beds or spread atop my established perennial gardens.


I like to use a full bale of pine shavings each time I replace the bedding. It gives the girls a nice deep bed to take their dust baths in on wet or snowy days and it soaks up the droppings in the rear of the coop under the roosts. Plus, it insulates the floor keeping them nice and warm during the colder months.




During the hottest days of summer I open the door do the coop and let it air out all day until the girls put themselves to bed at dusk.


I get a kick out of how cautious they are about going back inside the coop after it’s all clean! They stretch their necks to they can see inside then turn their heads from side to side before jumping back in. So cute!


The nesting boxes hang off the back of the coop with a flip-top roof that makes collecting eggs easy!

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Here’s Lacy Lou ” nesting ” on a clutch of eggs destined for a yummy quiche or baking.

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Once I have the inside of the coop cleaned and replenished with fresh shavings I like to add something festive to decorate the front of the coop. It’s the least I can do for the girls after all those delicious eggs they provide for our family! I do something a little different each year. I’ve used silk flowers in the past because they add a nice pop of lasting color on the window but this year I decided to go native and create a fresh seasonal arrangement from my garden. I cut some branches from my oak leaf hydrangea, a bridal white hydrangea blossom with the first blush of faded purple on the tips of the petals, some autumn sedum joy that is already a beautiful deep purple color and a few feathery ornamental grass plums. I tucked all of the cuttings into a mason jar filled with water and then put the jar inside the container.


There! Now it’s time to relax around the fire and have some hot cider!


My hubby got the wood ready for us, but it’s been raining for three days so we couldn’t light it. :( We’ll just have to pretend it’s lit and warming our tootsies while we drink our hot cider.

We love Trader Joe’s Mulling spices for making our hot spiced cider.


Here’s our family recipe!


1 quart apple cider ( not juice)
2 cups cranberry juice
1 navel orange ( or 2-3 clementines ) sliced
4 -5 heaping Tablespoons of  Trader Joe’s Mulling Spices
Small piece of cheese cloth
Wrap spices in cheese cloth and add it to your cider mix.
Once you’ve added all of the ingredients to your crock pot set it to the highest setting for the first few hours, then lower the temp and let it simmer for the rest of the day.*You can also substitute Cinnamon sticks for mulling spices in a pinch!
Start a batch in the crock pot ( or  large sauce pan ) early in the morning. By noon time you’ll have something to sip that’ll take the chill off your bones and warm you to your toes!
Until our next shoreline visit~ cluck… cluck…
Beach Blessings and much love,
Deb xo  # 1199

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…And Other Life Changers

Have you ever stopped after a seemingly simple moment and thought to yourself, “I think my life just changed”?  I had this feeling last week, and it was such a distinct feeling…I was immediately in awe of how my future could have been drastically (okay, I’m being a bit dramatic) different had this one second of life not happened.  I hope the following doesn’t come off as too creeeeeeepy…maybe Halloween has an influence on this post!

Mmmm, look at that fatty goodness!

Mmmm, look at that fatty goodness!

Several things occurred in building up to this moment.  First, Evan bought me a new chef’s knife.  He’s super into techie websites that find the best of everything without being painfully expensive.  So, he found this knife and got it for me because I’m always complaining about our dulling knives.  The first thing I cut with it was a big four pound rutabaga, and with the first effortless slice I let out an audible gasp.

You see, I have been envious of those with great knife skills for a long time.  It is so impressive to see expert chefs break down a duck or perfectly fillet a large salmon.  The knife appears to find the perfect spot to slice through.  When watching a good knife handler dice onions or even cut an apple, their skills are apparent…but I’ve discovered that a lot of this skill is in the knife!  Now that I have used a truly sharp, nice knife, I am not intimidated by whole chickens or thick skinned winter squash.  The beautiful halibut fillets I’ve butchered in the past will be no more.  Squished tomatoes will be but a memory.  I will no longer be intimidated by whole meats and other foods!

Thank you, amazing new life changing tool.

Thank you, amazing new life changing tool.

The height of this epiphany came last week when I decided to finally roast a pork belly I’ve had in the freezer for awhile.  It was from a pig that I helped raise a little bit–a nice fatty heritage breed.  I’ve been a lifetime fan of bacon, even going so far as to be one of those lame vegetarians who still eats bacon!  However, I’ve heard here and there that a well roasted pork belly is superior in many ways to the salty deliciousness that is cured bacon.

{Commence drooling}

{Commence drooling}

To prepare this pork, I had to score the fatty side of the belly.  It was AMAZING to do this with the new sharp knife.  The responsiveness of it was incredible, I could feel where the fat layer ended and the meat began, allowing me to score it deep enough but not too much.  Writing this out now makes is sound kind of silly or weird–but it really was one of the more illuminating moments in my life.  I think my culinary possibilities have multiplied many fold, and I was already pretty satisfied with how I handled myself in the kitchen.

Is it torturous to roast pork belly in the presence of my canine friends?

Is it torturous to roast pork belly in the presence of my canine friends?

So, I have this new knife…and other life changers.

I used a pressure canner for the first time last week–major life changer!  I love having home made broth, and I usually just freeze it.  I also keep all of my vegetable trimmings in freezer bags.  By the end of the farming season, my freezer is usually overflowing with onion tops, beet peels, carrot tips and all sorts of various veggie parts. We don’t have a large chest freezer or anything, so it was taking up precious freezer space.  So, I borrowed a friends pressure canner and now I have many pints of vegetable, chicken, duck and beef stock.  YUM.  I plan on expanding my pressure canning repertoire in the future but thought I’d start this year with broths and stocks.

Hi Ava! Sing it!

Hi Ava! Sing it!

Another life changer: Ava’s mobility!  She is now able to get to where she wants to be in a relatively fast manner.  She didn’t crawl for a very long time–instead she scooted backwards or did this silly sit, lean forward, move one leg forward, sit, lean forward, move one leg forward kind of thing that took forever to get anywhere.  Now she’s a crawling and cruising machine!  She’s even standing unassisted for about twenty seconds at a time. Her new favorite activity is splashing all of the dog water everywhere and getting soaking wet.  She is no longer a little baby (sigh…) and is well on her way to being a toddler.  Time goes so quickly.

Not dog water...but other spilled water.  So fun.

Not dog water…but other spilled water. So fun.

Before I know it, she will be using a truly sharp knife for the first time…and other life changers.

Have any relatively “normal” things happened to you lately that have changed your life for the better?  I think every Farmgirl has or should have a truly sharp, responsive chef’s knife and access to a pressure canner (as for a newly toddling toddler…probably not a necessity!).  What tools of the trade do you think belong in every Farmgirl’s repertoire?

I hope Halloween next week is fun for all and that you have a sharp knife to expertly carve those Jack and Jill-o-lanterns!

Until next time,

Sending Peace and Love from Alaska,

Alex, the Rural Farmgirl Continue reading

Shall We Molt?

I have never witnessed anything like it before.

The molting of my chickens.

But now that I’ve seen it, I think we should all molt. What a wonderful thing a yearly MOLT is. Drop our “old” ideas, prejudices, hurt feelings, grudges, chips on our shoulders, negative emotions. Molting is a painful, stressful process, sure. And yes, we must take extra special care of ourselves during it. But when we come out on the other side? Woo! Growth. Freshness. Power. Newness.

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It’s Apple Pie Season!

It’s apple picking season and all I’ve been able to think of lately is home made Apple Pie!


I just happen to love making pies and I think possibly Apple Pie is my favorite to make.

So this week when I grabbed my pyrex bowl and my ingredients, I grabbed my camera too so that I could share my recipe with all you other Farmgirls.

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Autumn Transition

Everyone should be so blessed that they experience four distinct seasons at least once in their lifetime. Having grown up in a climate where shorts are worn year ‘round, in New England, I never tire of watching the transformation from season to season. We’ve been blessed this year with a perfect fall…sunny and relatively warm, perfect for late harvesting before the garden’s put to bed for a winter’s nap. While things aren’t as lush and green as summer, there’s still so much beauty, and still so much to do!

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VIP Vintage ” COWGIRL” Fashion Show

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Dear Sisters,

Welcome to Part 2 of ” our ” Fall Junkin’ Junket! When we parted ways last time we’d made our way through most of the fabulous booths at The Vintage Bazaar in Salisbury, MA. and The VIP Vintage Fashion Show was about to start! If you missed Part 1, Click here to catch up! Come on! Let’s go! Continue reading

A Nice Hot Shower

Vegetable farming in Alaska is fast and furious.  From the cold, possibly snowy days of spring to the nearly 24 hour sunshine of the summer solstice to the cold, possibly snowy days of early fall, farmers are going, going, going. The face of a burnt out farmer is a familiar one around here come the end of September.


Cold, cold sun
I recently realized that the vegetable farming season is structured much like a good Shakespearean drama Continue reading

Something About Those Floors

I’ve had so many questions about our New Old Wormy Chestnut Floors. So here goes!

By the way. NO, our kitchen is NOT finished. Didn’t we begin the process like a million years ago?! Here’s a photo that pretty much sums it up….

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