Things We've Learned.

On this page we will share an eclectic mix of hint's tips, recipes, things not to do, and brief stories of things we have done, and learned, here at the farm.


Perfect Boiled Eggs

Get perfect boiled eggs every time!

Start with room temperature eggs, (if you have farm fresh, unwashed eggs they don't need to be refrigerated at all!) and a large pot with just enough cold water to cover the eggs. Add eggs to the cold water, turn on the heat and bring to a boil...immediately turn off the heat, cover the eggs and let sit for 12 minutes. For a softer egg, reduce time to 8 to 10 minutes. Perfect boiled eggs!

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Making natural, household cleaners

This is an easy, natural all purpose cleaner!
Just fill a mason jar with apple cider vinegar, then throw in some citrus peels (oranges, lemons, limes, clementines etc...)

Put the lid on and let it sit for a about a week, then add some of the liquid to a spray bottle! It's that easy...AND you can just keep adding a bit to it here and there...when you use an orange, tear up the peel and throw it in, add a little more apple cider vinegar, and you will always have this great natural cleaner handy!


How to make Grandmother Bread

This is a heritage recipe, tested by time and the hands of mothers and grandmothers for over a hundred years. This secret family recipe is different from many standard white bread recipes in that it contains no milk, egg, or oil, and its very simplicity produces a bread of light but sturdy texture that yields loaves for perfectly sliced sandwich bread (the best sandwich bread you’ll ever taste! also makes excellent french toast!), plus the same dough can be used to create dinner rolls, cinnamon-swirl loaves, sweet rolls, crispies, and apple-strudel ladder loaf.

Two-loaf standard recipe 

3 cups warm water
1 tablespoon yeast (1 packet)
1 teaspoon sal t
1/4 cup sugar
7 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, sugar, and salt. Let sit five minutes. Stir in first three cups of flour with a heavy spoon. Add the next cup of flour a little at a time as needed, stirring until dough becomes too stiff to continue stirring easily. Add a little more flour and begin kneading. The amount of flour is approximate–your mileage may vary! Continue adding flour and kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic. Let dough rise in a greased, covered bowl until doubled. (Usually, about an hour.) Uncover bowl; sprinkle in a little more flour and knead again before dividing in half. With floured hands, shape dough into loaves and place in two greased loaf pans. Tear off two pieces of waxed paper and grease with oil spray (to prevent it from sticking to the loaves as they rise) and cover loaf pans. Let rise till loaves are tall and beautiful! (About an hour, depending on the temperature in your kitchen.)

Bake for 25 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven. Makes two loaves.       (

{Dueling vinegar pies}

One weekend, my mom, step-dad, and sister went to the livestock auction with me. On the way home, we stopped at a little restaurant in Martinsburg, where we lived when I was in 1st/2nd grade. This place has the type of food you would find at a dairy stop, but it's more home cooked fare. My mom was reading the daily pie selection on the chalkboard. "Oh, you have vinegar pie!". They have what???? That sounds disgusting. My granny used to fix it for my mom when she was a kid. They only had one slice left (you mean people actually ate it?), so my mom bought it for my sister and me to split.

We finished our meal and it was time for dessert. We also had a piece of hickory nut pie. I tried that one first. It was good. It was almost indistinguishable from pecan pie. Now, it was time to try the vinegar pie. It looked like the filling was kind of custard-like and the top looked like a sugary, crunchy layer. I'm not afraid of trying new things, in fact, I rather enjoy it. I'm glad I wasn't afraid to try it. It was delicious! It's not quite as smooth as a custard, but similar. It has an almost citrus taste, and the crunchy layer on top was a nice contrast to the filling.

I did a little research on-line about vinegar pie. I read that the early settlers would make it after their store of canned fruits had run out over the winter. There are more recipes than you can imagine. I decided to make one. I've always been a Pillsbury pie crust guy, but I figured it was time to make them from scratch. I read a few recipes and settled on this one. I really want to try one with lard. David at Spring Hill Farm is going to let me know when they have some in stock. On a side note, I'm on the list for a couple feeder pigs once he has some ready. Ohiofarmgirl has done too much raving about them. I just had to try them.

I decided to start with this recipe for the vinegar pie. The one that I had tasted didn't have any of these spices in it, but this one sounded good. You cook the filling in a double-boiler until it's thick and then pour it in a pie shell and bake. It came out very dark, since it has cloves, cinnamon, and allspice in it. It reminded me of a really good homemade apple butter like my grandparents and great-aunts used to make. It was very different from the pie I had tried, but still good.


Contender #1


My pie crust recipe made two crusts, and well, this pie just didn't blow me away. I did another Google search for vinegar pie and saw a picture in the 'images' section that looked a lot like the pie I had first tried. I clicked on the picture and found this recipe. It's actually a page for gluten-free recipes. I used regular flower and a pie crust. This one came out looking just like the one I had tried. For the most part, it tasted nearly identical too. I think I may cut back on the sugar and vanilla next time I make it, but it was DELICIOUS.  I used some organic apple cider vinegar with 'the mother' in it. The mother of vinegar is a mixture of cellulose and acetic acid bacteria that gives vinegar some great properties. Do you know all the wonderful things that vinegar can do? If not, I suggest you do some reading. It really is amazing.


We have a winner!

You really should try this pie. Take a look at some old recipes. This pie is incredibly easy and inexpensive to make. My pie crusts turned out pretty well, but they're far from perfect. Any of you have any great tips for making homemade crusts? I'm betting the lard will really help.









Aromatherapy for pigs and Wile E. Coyote impersonations

When we experienced our first case of hoof rot in our goats. I did a little research and found that tea tree oil is a treatment for hoof rot (also for dandruff and I put it in my shampoo). I trimmed away as much of the dead material on the hoof and put a few drops of the oil on the affected area. It may have been my imagination, but Millicent seemed to be getting around a little better that afternoon. We're applying it twice a day.

That got me thinking. I have noticed some scaly skin on Nigel, our Old Spot/Large Black pig, in his ham region. I've been applying it twice a day for him as well. It's definitely improving. As an added benefit, the barn smells better too.

One of our Black Copper Marans(breed of chicken) pullets(young female) got out of the fence and decided to take up residence across the road in the neighbors' pine trees. When they're in the barn, they come running to me because I = feed. Since she has heard the call of the wild, I = The Warden. My first attempt was to rely on the Pavlovian conditioning I've imposed on her. To set the scene, I'm in my plaid, fuzzy robe wearing pajama pants and muck boots. I went to the barn and got some cracked corn in the scoop I always use for the chickens and my butterfly net (and you thought the scene couldn't get funnier). I go over to her new home (with the net behind my back). I shook the scoop and did my usual 'heeeere chick, chick, chick'. Here she comes! It works! I let her eat for a bit and ready the net. I wait for her to bend down and peck up a few more kernels. Swoosh goes the net. 'Bock, bock, bock', goes the pullet as she runs back to the pine trees. "Grrrrrrr" goes the farmer as he chases after the chicken, followed by lots of wheezing and coughing. I love getting reminded by a chicken that I'm not the spring chicken here...

Once I was able to keep enough oxygen to get the wheels turning again, I came up with an even more brilliant plan. Chickens are flock animals, right? Well, I figured she might come around one of her flockmates. And no, I wasn't going to end up with two chickens on the lam....really. I took a length of twine and tied it around the 'bait chicken's' leg. I took her over to the runaway chickens new abode. We sat there for a while with the bait chicken trying to untie her leg. Little Miss Runaway started heading our way! I wasn't going to try the net again. I was sitting on the ground by the bait chicken. This time I was going to go for the leg with my lightning reflexes. Yeah, see the last sentence of the previous paragraph. The chicken is still on the loose. I went out with a flashlight tonight to see if she was roosting, because they're easy to grab when it's dark. No such luck. Tomorrow, I'm trying some bird seed and an Acme anvil. Stay tuned.  Jeff


{Hatching turkey eggs}


Every Spring our turkey hens, start laying beautiful, speckled eggs, in a spot that we let them choose, usually some corner in the barn, and as turkeys are not really that patient with sitting on nests, we collect the eggs and incubate them, which takes about 28 days. We use an electric/heated uncubator, with an electric turner, which moves the eggs to different angles a few times per day, mimicking the actions of the mother. The humidity needs to be monitored (adding water to incubator as needed) and the temperature, which is usually kept right about 99 degrees. for the last several days the eggs go on lockdown, which means they are not disturbed, or turned at all, finally we start seeing pips, or little cracks in the shells, which means hatching has begun! After they hatch, they spend at least 24 hours in the incubator, getting used to using their legs, and drying off, they are then moved to a large plastic tub, with wood shavings, a heat lamp, and food and water. The turkey poults need to be shown where the food and water is at first, or they may not find it. We keep them in the tub (in the house) for about 2 weeks, then they are moved to a cage/kennel in the barn, so they start to get used to the sounds of the barn, this point they would start to get a bit adventurous in the house. They stay in the kennel in the barn (if it's cool outside we keep the heat lamp on them until they have feathers) until they are big enough to go out in the pasture with the others, but first their wings are trimmed (usually one side, just the long, flight's like a haircut for you and me, no pain involved) which puts them a bit off balance to discourage flying over the fence...but still lets them have the ability to fly up to a branch to roost, or avoid a predator. Chad