The Best Biscuits Ever

Sky High Biscuits

I love to make these biscuits! They are super easy and don’t need any rise time or kneading.
Start by mixing all your dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, I like to use a whisk or a large spoon to make sure its mixed will.

I like to cut the butter in at room temperature but I have completely melted it and poured it in, it works either way.
Add your milk and mix with a spoon as much as possible, you will have to get your hands in it to get it all together. It will seem really wet and that’s ok, I like to put oil on my hands to keep from getting the dough stuck to my hands.

I put a generous dusting of flour on the clean counter and dump my dough out.

Next roll it out to about 1/2” thick, be sure to flour your rolling pin or it will stick.

Use a glass or a biscuit cutter to cut all the perfect ones you can then combine and re-roll the scraps to use all the dough.

Place them on a baking sheet with a bit of space in between each one.

Homemade biscuits

Remove from the oven when they just start to brown. They rise really well and taste fantastic!

Sky High Biscuits

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Wise Traditions

 

This past week we traveled to Waco Texas and went to visit the Homestead Heritage Community on the advice of a friend. I was very impressed with the quality of everything they had for sale and their structures. Particularly their structures! We were in the cheese making shop when I finally asked where they got all the large hand hewn beams that were pegged together (no nails or screws). The lady in that shop said those particular beams came from Canada where they had taken down a barn and brought it here to reconstruct it, carefully numbering everything so they could reassemble it the way it was.
Some of their cheese is aged 7 years.

I spent some time in the blacksmith’s shop talking to the craftsman there. They made all the railing and hooks and hardware for nearly all the buildings on the site and their work was really impressive.

They call themselves “an agrarian- and craft-based intentional Christian community”. They are definitely craftsmen! From the working waterwheel grist mill to the weaving shop to the wood working shop and the basket making shop it was all very impressive.

We also had lunch at the cafe where most of what they serve they produce right there on their farm and it was delicious!

The cafe was a cedar log structure that was cut from local trees I’m guessing from the looks of them.

If you are ever down that way it’s well worth the drive to go and visit. If you live in that area and you like to make things with your hands they offer classes to teach you lost ways and traditions they have nearly been forgotten. Here is a link to their website.

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Pure and Natural Honey

 

We are very particular about what our honeybees feed on because it winds up in the honey. We live in an area where there is not any row crop farming so there really is no pesticide used in their feeding areas. Bees will travel a few miles to get pollen and nectar so we try to stay informed about what the neighbors are using.

The clarity of the honey as well as the flavor will vary greatly depending on what they were working on during the nectar flow. We are proactive with this and have a lot of blackberries and trees and garden plants around for them to work on. We don’t use any sprays on those plants so there is no chance of harming the bees or tainting the honey.
It’s an easy choice to loose a plant to squash bugs even though we know if we sprayed it we might save the plant, because we are keeping the honey pure for everyone who buys it.

Keeping the bees healthy and the honey pure is extremely important to us! We use no sprays or synthetic inputs of any kind ever because we want the best for our family and yours!

We would love to have you sign up to our mailing list and when we have honey or produce available we will let you know.

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The Best Help on the Farm

 


I have been moving cattle, strip grazing every day and in conversations it usually goes something like this; “isn’t that a lot of work” or maybe “man how do you get anything else done”?
Normally I move the temporary fence and the cattle move themselves. As they get used to this they will meet you at the fence just waiting for you to move it. This goes really well until you get a day like yesterday. About 25 head got out. These are calves and they were wild and free! I called and they didn’t come, so I went and found them and they took off like they were wild, tails up running nine-o. Nearly anytime I’m out on the farm I have the dog with me because she loves to go.

I got around them and got them turned and they headed in the right direction for a beat and then turned took off again. About the third time we did this the dog was ready for some action, she starts with a kind of whine and then goes up to a bark to move the calves before I actually let her work them.

I am not a dog trainer and this dog has had no training other than what she does by instinct and a few commands that I have taught her. She will occasionally be in the wrong spot or bust the group make matters worse but more often than not she knows where they are supposed to go and can’t wait to get at ‘em. These calves headed for some thick trees where I couldn’t go so I let the dog out to do her thing. About 30 seconds later she had them turned and back in the area where they were supposed to be. I’ll tell ya, watching a good dog or a horse or both work and be helpful and productive on the farm is really a joy for me!
I didn’t get any pics yesterday but here she is when she was a puppy helping me get a cow in that was not interested in being caught. The cow went to the pond so I couldn’t get to her.

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Nature at its Finest

 

Here is a short video of the calves a few days in to managed grazing on the sudangrass.

 

I think as we take a holistic look at how we do things on the farm we really can’t deny that cattle really enjoy grazing. These calves have had access to this patch for about 3 days and they are really doing well. They are picking up trace minerals from the soil through the plants they eat and really balancing their own ration. You can see toward the end of the video where they were the day before all grazed down and tromped into the ground. This creates a residue from the crop that shades the ground (which keeps it cooler), smothers weeds and stops the erosion from wind and rain. Another great benefit is all their manure deposits they leave behind is like money in the bank! This will break down and help build organic matter and decrease the need for commercial fertilizer. 

One benefit for the cattle is by moving them to fresh grass everyday they enjoy a clean environment, their parasites go down and there is less chance for sickness. The cattle love it!
Pastured to perfect.

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Winter for Your Garden

We got a freeze this week, a sure sign that fall is here. I had a few leftover tomatoes, okra, peppers, and pumpkins still growing but their demise was sure to come.

If you had leftover veggies growing in your garden that were killed by the frost, or died of natural causes, be sure you get them out. Leaving dead plants in your garden over winter can actually harbor insects and cause diseases. I know you weeded and watered and harvested and spent a lot of time out there this summer and you thought you were finished but don’t skip that last step of cleaning everything up. Set yourself up for a successful season next year by spending a few minutes getting your plots clean. Go do it right now!

The other thing I like to do is plant a cover crop that will stay green all winter and turn it under next spring for the green manure benefits. I planted Austrian winter peas this year which will put down nitrogen as the grow too. My bee yard is close so when the peas bloom the bees will enjoy them as well.

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How to Make a Great Steak

Everyone wants to eat a great tasting steak, but where does the flavor come from? Once you select your cut you can marinate it, if you type that in on Google you’ll get a jillion recipes, or you can have it cut to a certain thickness, or aged a certain way.

You can slow cook it with low heat, fast cook it with high heat, eat it rare or well done. You could boil it, fry it, sear it, broil it, or grill it and the list goes on and on.

However I think the recipe for a great steak starts long before you select your cut of meat. It starts with the animal! Really a lot of things about the animal come into play but today we are just going to consider a couple.

I think one of the single most influences on your steak is what the animal had to eat both while it was in the growing phase and the finishing or fattening phase. I have to admit the first grass finished beef I raised was not very tasty. When I looked into it a little bit I figured out why right quick, this calf had a diet of only one kind of plant all through his finishing stage. Can you image eating the same exact meal day in and day out every day for 14 to 16 months? Yuck!

So when you add variety like multiple species of grass and legumes and other forage you actually are creating a flavorful steak. If you add to that nutrient rich plants, thick and green and lush with no chemicals on them, that adds to the flavor of the meat as well.

If you think about it, a calf was not created to have a grain based diet anyway. They will adapt and learn to eat it and do well on it but they were created to eat grass.

The other thing that influences flavor and tenderness is the way the live calf was handled. If he was spooked very easily and always panicked or shied quickly away from things then no matter what you feed him him he is likely to be average tasting at best. I’ve found that when I have a young calf that is a bit shy of people or equipment if I will spend some time on several occasions walking thru the herd and not really trying to do anything with them but just getting the accustomed to being moved and handled they settle right down. Some calves this may only take a couple trips and others maybe several, but then when you need to handle them or move their pasture they are much easier and safer to be around.

So the secret recipe for a great steak starts with knowing your farmer/rancher and how the calf was raised and what it was fed and how it was handled.

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Healing the Land

I have been trying my hand at multi species cover crops for regenerating the land and providing extended grazing into the fall for for our livestock.

I cleared out this small lot of overgrown weeds and cedar trees about 1 month ago. I broadcast Sudan, Austrian winter peas, forage radishes and ryegrass.

This is what it looks like today!
It has been a great fall with mild temperatures and plenty of moisture but I am really impressed with the growth here! This will actually be for the pigs and chickens because its too small of area for the cows.

This is some Sudan that regrew after I baled it this summer and I went in and planted peas and radishes for the cattle. The idea is to allow the cows on a small amount of the forage at a time with a temporary fence. I am using about 1 acre for 65 head of yearling calves. They will graze everything down and redeposit the nutrients back on the land which will lower the need for commercial synthetic inputs like fertilizer. I have been moving them daily to keep plenty of forage in front of them but it should cut down on hay and grain that we normally supplement with.

You can see where they have been on the right and where I just let them in on the left. The white posts you see are the temporary fence. They love it and seem to be doing really well on it. This actually mimics how the buffalo roamed in the wild years ago. Predators kept them bunched up and they moved all at once in large herds to new grass and ate everything there before they moved on.

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The Best Part of the Chicken

 

Want to know the best part of a chicken is? We raised and processed 20 broilers this year and we went ahead and froze 10 of them whole and cut up all the rest. Out of the ones we cut up we put all the bones and extra skin that we weren’t going to keep in a stockpot and made broth. All that I added was water and carrots and celery and boiled it for about 3 hours. Man you talk about tasty! Compared to store bought broth or those magic cubes, this stuff is great.

Want to make some really good queso dip? Add some broth.
How about frijole beans, add some broth.
Soups need it for sure!
Want to make your brown rice taste awesome? Yep, sub about 1/2 the liquid with broth.
I don’t really even like chicken all that well but this stuff is really good.

Out of those 10 birds we wound up with a little over 20 pints of broth. From what I’ve been reading the nutrients from the bones and the skin and small pieces of meat that you make the broth from is really good for you as well.

Another benefit of raising our own chickens is that we were able to move them to fresh grass and let them eat and we know exactly what they have been fed and how they were handled. By moving them to fresh grass they are getting all the things they need in their diet and this produces nutrient rich and tasty chicken and broth.

I think I’ll go make some soup now!

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Is the Food We Eat Good for Us?

 

I’ve been looking into and learning about regenerating the soil, mainly farm ground, on our farms. What I am finding out is that most of what is considered “modern farming practices” is really bad for our soil health.

When I eat fresh vegetables from my own garden they do taste good, but the same produce grown in soil that has high organic matter, high carbon and high levels of micronutrients actually tastes a lot better. Those nutrients will then be in your body to bring health and healing to you as well. Our ancestors had some really wise traditions that we should consider getting back to.

Same thing with the cattle grazing, if they are eating plants that are grown in healthy soil not only are the cows more healthy but they produce more nutrient rich meat and milk. This is a picture of some full size cows that I turned out on a fresh meadow in late September.

This management style is going to be different for me and require me to get off the tractor more and look closely at the soil to see whats happening. Seems like I am starting to question everything to find out exactly why we do it that way.
Should make for an interesting year!

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