Canning Chicken – yes, chicken!

As many of you know, we produce chicken here at Liberty Hill Farm. This past season, we had quite the surplus, and we decided to try our luck at canning.

Freezer space is quite the commodity around here. Additionally, we never want to sell meat that is close to its shelf life. So we decided to can the surplus of chickens, as opposed to watching them become less-than-desirable in the freezer.

The first time is always a learning experience and we learned that canning chicken is easy-peasy!!

We used: whole chickens, quart jars, flats, rings, salt, water. (Some vinegar for the canning water)

1. We cut off the wings and legs and put them to the side. (We fried them for dinner, and invited over family!)

A bowl full of drumsticks!

2. Debone breasts and thighs into a large bowl.

Scott and Linda deboning

3. Throw the rest (backs, skin, etc.) into a large stock pot. I used the water bath canner. This is for the bone broth. Cover over with water. Throw in a splash of apple cider vinegar and generously salt the pot. Simmer on LOW. (We will come back to this later. )

The beginnings of some rich bone broth.

4 . Cut the deboned chicken into 1” chunks. Don’t measure. No stress. Just cut it into chunks. It really doesn’t matter, I just like them smaller if possible. Once cut, just put them in the jars. I used quart size. Fill to 1 inch from the top. Add 1 teaspoon of salt.

5. Wipe rims with white vinegar on a cloth and place lids and rings.

7. Place in pressure canner. We can fit 7 quart jars at a time in our canner. Put about 3 inches of water in the pot with a splash of Wilhite vinegar. Secure the lid. Steam will start coming out of the nipple – when it does, put the cap on it. Build pressure to 12 pounds. Maintain the 11 pounds for 90 minutes. (This actual picture is from the broth we canned the next day – but you get the picture…haha).

7 quarts in the canner!

8. Allow pressure to come down naturally, then remove jars! I let these sit on the counter for a day, then I removed the rings, and stored in the pantry!

9. I’ve used the canned chicken for quick and easy dinners like: chicken noodle soup, chicken chili (a crowd fave), and chicken and rice just to name a few. I’ve also given some jars to friends and family and they LOVE it.

We found that after we cut off the wings and legs, and deboned mostly just the breasts and thighs, we got about one chicken per quart jar. So when we do this project, we usually only have time on the weekend to do two canners per day – so 14 whole chickens will do 14 quart jars. BUT REMEMBER, that means we are EATING 28 wings and 28 drumsticks too!! (So better invite guests for dinner!)

IN ADDITION to that – we also had TWO water bath canners on the stove simmering with bone broth that we canned the next day. We were able to get 21 quarts of broth plus a little more that we froze in quart freezer bags. I’ll explain that process in another post.

Happy canning! Please let me know what you can!

3 Ways to Graze Longer and Use Less Hay

3 ways to graze pinterest

If humans had never touched the land, how would the cows behave?  They would stay in herds. Together, they would graze an area, and then move on to a new area.  They would not eat today in the place where they pooped yesterday. Birds would then come along and scratch through their manure, not only for their own sustenance, but also making that manure more readily available to nourish the soil.  This is the model that we follow at Liberty Hill Farm.

img_3212The cows are put in smaller paddocks. We are able to do this by utilizing temporary electric fence and pigtail posts. Each of the larger paddocks contain a waterer.  We use a wagon-wheel system to the waterer – so that we didn’t have to install any new watering systems. 

We’ve timed ourselves, and making a new fence generally takes us less than 10 minutes.  We then roll up the old, and the cows move without driving them. They are used to it, they know the drill. As a matter of fact, we can have our teenage daughter go out there and let them into the new paddock, and all runs smoothly. This is called management intensive grazing.  Because of this one change of practice, we are able to graze our cows on grass longer in the winter, and we can put them on grass sooner in the spring. This has allowed us to use drastically less hay in our west central Missouri winters.

img_3214 

Red Fox Winery: Urich, MO

Note: I am publishing this post-COVID.  We visited Red Fox pre-COVID, and that is when I wrote this.  (Just thought I would go ahead and publish.)

Wine-tasting at locally-owned Missouri wineries is one of my favorite things to do. As we traverse here and there across this great state, we love sampling the wines and food.

As a wine and food critic, I will admit that I am certainly an amateur. As an amateur, I have enjoyed wines and foods from all over the world!

Today, we had the opportunity to sample the wines at Red Fox Winery in Urich, Missouri. They do charge a fee to sample. Three for $3, six for $5, or nine for $8. We sampled nine wines today!

My wine palate is a bit all over the place. I tend to like dry wines over sweets, but some of my favorite wines ever are ports. I especially loved the tawny port I brought home from Spain.

So let’s talk about Red Fox. The property is especially beautiful. The grounds are well-kept and the buildings are well maintained with an eye for detail. The bistro building is clean and decorated tavern-style. There were two other couples tasting wines while we were. 

The wines were good. My husband, who has a sweeter palate than me especially enjoyed the blackberry and blueberry wines. On the sweet end, my favorite was the cranberry. My favorite semi-dry was the Traminette. It was floral and smooth. I’m usually a red girl, so this white was awesome to be called a fave. I also enjoyed their chambourcin, but the spicy oaky notes would suit me more in the winter months I think.

As we moved down the list to the dry wines, their 3 Oaks was definitely the crown jewel of all the wines. Aged in Oak barrels, this red has a nice color and finishes so smooth. Loved it.

We also tried their spinach and artichoke appetizer – so much more that our expectations!

I was expecting chips and dip, but what I got were these delightful stuffed puff pastry packets garnished with olives and feta. Nice! Overall, I recommend a visit to Red Fox. It’s always nice to relax while tasting wines at a beautiful Missouri farm.

A dog named Zoe.

Back in September of 2015, my husband convinced me that it would be a good idea to drive three hours south, to Hartville, MO to get a catahoula pup for our son David. I knew nothing about the breed so before I acquiesced, I did a bit of research. The pup was the most beautiful dog I think I’ve ever seen. White, with caramel brown patches, a light brown nose, and the lightest blue eyes I’d ever seen. She was stunningly beautiful.

Fun fact, we were watching the show, “Hart of Dixie” at the time, and since the dog was from Hartville, David thought it fitting to name the pup Zoe. We brought Zoe home and all of us were very taken with her.

That August, I had not returned to school to teach, but instead was trying my hand at home on the farm. I was renovating a building to create an on-farm retail store, I was feeding chickens and pigs, and milking a very cantankerous cow. Every morning, I’d load the kids and Zoe up in the truck, take them to school, then Zoe and I would set to work. She went with me everywhere. She tried to herd the pigs away from me when I fed. She was on my heels all over the farm. In a time where my school teacher self was going a bit crazy without human interaction, I had Zoe.

Then November. We were packing up vehicles to head south for Thanksgiving weekend and My precious Zoe was hit by a car in our driveway. I cried all the way to Branson. I was devastated. I was devastated about being devastated. Why was I so upset over a silly dog? A dog we only had a couple of months?! I decided I never wanted a dog again.

Yeah right. About a year and a half later I did some more research on the breed. I found out that catahoulas attach themselves to a person and are fiercely protective of that person. Because of the time we spent together, I was Zoe’s person. I started to search for another one. Catahoulas are a bit rare in mid-Missouri. So I searched for months. One evening, I was on a site, ranch world ads, and I found one close! I called the owner and planned to meet her the next day. Which was the day I came home with Mara.

Mara has been everything I’ve ever wanted in a dog. She stays with me everywhere I go!

So we had to get a male. Because maybe other people around here would like to have a dog like this. So now there’s Milo.

On Friday, Mara and Milo became parents of 9 of the most beautiful puppies ever.

Nine catahoula puppies! I hope that the new owners of these catahoula pups love them as much as I do.

New to the catahoula breed? Google it! That’s what I did. You’ll find a wealth of info. A catahoula is not right for everyone! But the dog is a great fit for me and my family.

If you’re interested in one of Mara’s pups, email me at lisa@libertyhill.farm.

I. Love. Spring.

I hate to admit this, but I think spring is my favorite time of year. I’ve always been a summer junkie. I seriously LOVE summer. I am cooler-natured than most, so heat doesn’t bother me much. I love blue skies and soaking up vitamin D beside absolutely ANY body of water. The ocean, TableRock Lake, our little pond, or even the creek that skirts around our property. Summer with my toes in the water, the sun warming my bones and a book in my hand is pretty hard to beat! Plus, I’m a teacher. So there’s that. 😉

But spring, you turn my chin and awaken me. I think I’m most excited about being outside in the spring. Every day I step outside there is another surprise waiting! Yesterday I worked in the high tunnel. We had more growth in there in the last week than we’ve had in the last two months! I drove to town and found a few trees budding out. We have baby calves y’all. This is cuteness overload! Just don’t get too close-because mamas are fierce! Every bit of green that pops out here and there makes me feel content and happy.

So maybe spring is making me excited because I’m trying to say goodbye to Missouri winter? Whatever it is, spring makes me happy. Here’s to spring on the farm!

Missouri Ice!

Yet another day of no school for us – and I just got notification that we will not have school tomorrow either.  Currently, all surfaces outside are ice-covered and glistening.  The pictures are from a fellow farmer who ventured out to capture the beauty.  Thank you to Papa Shrubs Arboreal Nursery, Orchard and Vineyard for the gorgeous photos!

It’s pretty – from a distance. I mean it’s pretty as long as I’m inside in my fluffy socks and sweater, holding a steaming cup of coffee and looking out my window from my warm house.  It’s that kind of pretty. I am a pretty tough ole gal. I am a veteran, served with both the Navy and the Marines. I am a city girl who married a farmer and I don’t think twice about jumping in and catching chickens, or moving cattle. I’ve given a baby pig CPR when I rescued it from drowning in a bucket of milk – that I had milked from our cantankerous cow.  I have crawled through crap, I have birthed three children. I am a high school teacher. (These are my examples of how I’m tough.) BUT, I am a total wuss when it comes to cold. Yes, I grew up in Missouri! But I spent 4 years in Hawaii, and I think it thinned my blood or something. I absolutely cannot stand the cold! I really would love to get outside right now and take phenomenal ice pictures with my Canon, but I just will not.  Arctic air on my face makes every joint in my body scream, and I’ll just pass on it thank you very much.

So thank you.  Thank you to every single person, including my hubs who goes outside and makes sure that the cows are fed and have water.  Road crews: you have my sincerest gratitude. From this tough ole gal, I thank you! Linemen – props to you! Yes, I noticed that my electricity went out in the three o’clock hour this morning, and that it came back on in the six o’clock hour.  I cannot send you enough love. To all of you who have to get out in this bitter cold and ice, and work for the rest of us, a sincere thank you.

I’m not going anywhere; I’m going to sip my hot coffee and peruse seed catalogs while dreaming of daffodils. Peace and blessings from icy west-central Missouri!

The Butcher Box.

What is a butcher box from Liberty Hill Farm and how does it work?

steak meat raw herbs
Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

First of all, before I tell you HOW it works, I need to tell you WHAT it is!  My husband and I own and operate his family farm in west central Missouri. About 5 years ago, we began to transition to more sustainable, and healthier farming practices.  (That process is a whole blog post in and of itself…) With that change, we no longer feed our cows grain. They eat grass, and sometimes hay. As I write this on the 25th of January, our cows are back on grass as of YESTERDAY!  (That’s a whole other blog post too…) But I digress. We also added chickens and pigs in the pastures. They forage and we supplement their diet with non-gmo feed. The cows are the only animals that we have here on the farm 12 months out of the year.  The chickens and pigs are more seasonal for us. The meat that we produce is a result of educated stewardship, and a deep care for creating a healthy product while healing and sustaining the land.

We do not butcher on site; we leave that up to the experts!  That said, our butcher never

broccoli chicken close up cooking
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

uses nitrites/nitrates in the processing of our animals.  We take our beef and pork to Powell Meats in Clinton, Missouri, and we take our chickens to Anco Poultry Processing in Garnett, Kansas.  Both processors are USDA inspected. Our packages are vacuum sealed in clear freezer bags and stamped for resale. We sell our meats in our small on-farm retail store, and also to local retail grocers and Cafe Blackadder in Warrensburg.  

But what is the butcher box??  It is a variety box of beef, pork, and/or chicken that you pick up at our farm store on the first Saturday of each month.  There are two options available: $50 or $100.

Ok, so how many pounds of meat do I get?  We can’t figure it that way because each cut has a different value per pound!  We sell meats at anywhere between $3.29 per pound all the way to $22.50 per pound (that’s filet mignon.)  We don’t put filets in the butcher box, but most everything else. We like to choose what goes in the box, because as a small farmer, it is necessary for us to be able to manage our inventory.  That said, there are quite a few months in the year that we allow our customers to choose what goes in for that month. The RETAIL VALUE of a butcher box is always at LEAST 10% higher than what you pay! We love our butcher box customers and we extend that 10% discount to all meats in the store – so if you ever want to purchase more to add to your box, you will always receive 10% off.

close up cuisine delicious dish
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

How does it work then?  How do I sign up? We use Paypal subscription service for this. Customers only click on the Sign up button to be directed to Paypal. On the day that you do this, Paypal will deduct the money from your account and deposit into ours – that’s how we know we have a new customer!  We will then set aside your box, and you will pick it up between 9am and noon on the first Saturday of the following month. That’s it! It’s super simple! Paypal will then continue to deduct the subscription price from your account on your sign-up date monthly thereafter until you cancel.  You may cancel at ANY time. There is no set duration. Many of our customers like to sign up close to the end of the month – the least amount of time between your payment and the pick up date.

Are you ready to subscribe?  Click here and follow instructions!

Feel free to leave any questions in the comments below!  You can also check out our website at www.libertyhill.farm.

 

Snow Day!

It’s a snow day!  I am a teacher and I LOVE snow days!  It’s like a bonus day. It’s time for me, with my kids.  It’s getting something checked off my never ending To-Do list that I sure hadn’t planned to get done.  It’s playing a loud game of Clue with my kids, or just watching a couple of episodes of Friends on Netflix.  Some people seem to want to squash my enthusiasm for snow days by saying, “You won’t be this happy in May, when we have to make up the day.”  But, I DON’T CARE! I plan to work most all the days in May anyway! Who gets a day in the middle of the week to sleep in, wear pj’s until noon, and do WHATEVER??  Teachers. Teachers do. And I, for one, will never complain about making up a day when it is such a gift to me.

But I seriously digress.  Because of this awesome gift of time, I was able to spend a little time out in my high tunnel!  For the first time, we are growing overwinter veggies in our “newish” high tunnel. We put up the tunnel in June of 2017, didn’t plant a seed until March of 2018.  Last summer we had a huge crop of tomatoes, and the other stuff was more of a learning experience. LOL. But in December, we cleaned up, pulled old tomato plants, made a couple of very large compost piles inside the tunnel and planted seeds. This has been a bit of a harsh winter for us here in mid-Missouri. We had lots of snow in November, and quite a snow in early January that left almost a foot of snow on the ground. And ice, today we have ice. But not inside the tunnel. In there, it seems at least 20 degrees warmer than it is outside, and my babies: spinach, kale, radishes, and bibb lettuce are growing quite nicely!  It smells so earthy in there. I swear it’s a natural endorphin kick just walking in the door.

img_2878
Bibb lettuce in the tunnel on 1/23/19

I’m such a newbie at this!  I have noticed that the radishes are taking much longer to grow to harvest size.  Everything, really is slower to grow than in the spring. I was hoping to have some by now, but they are still pretty small.  I’m going to chalk that up to very little actual sunlight days, as most days in December and January are cloud-covered and gray.  But they are still growing, and not a bit of intolerance to the intense cold we’ve had here these past weeks. I’m calling that a WIN.  

I hope to harvest in the next couple of weeks.  The spinach will probably be first. If you want to be contacted when we are ready to start selling, just shoot me an email, or text, or whatever, and I’ll add you to my list.  Happy snow day, y’all!

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk

This blog post was originally published in April of 2016 on our farm website.  But it’s a good story, and since I’ve just started blogging for realsies, I thought I’d add it here as well.  We no longer milk here on the farm!

Tuesday.  I was rushing, I’ll admit.

Ok, when am I not rushing?  Anyway, I had milked the cow, and was heading out the door to church board meeting.  I had a gallon and a half of quart jars in a cardboard box in my hands, a bag slung over my shoulder, and an apple in my mouth.  I was heading out the door to take the milk to the store and get to my meeting.

It was warm on Tuesday.  So warm, in fact, that I was wearing flip flops for the first time this year.

And as I was walking through my living room the horrible happened.  The bottom of the box gave way and all 6 jars of milk crashed at, on, around my feet.  There were several things that occurred simultaneously – I was in mid-stride, so when my foot came down, yes a large chunk of glass entered my instep.  Flip flops. Glass shards peppered my capri’d calves, and small streams of blood poured down – while a gallon and a half of fresh, raw milk soaked into my living room carpet.

Not wanting to take another step, I sank down on the sofa to survey the damage.  Plunked large chunk out of my foot.  Brushed off calves.  Glass shards and jar lids.  And wet carpet.

I pulled out my phone, called mom-in-law.  I will not make it to board meeting.  Check.  Pulled out a feed sack and filled it with as much glass as I could.  Check.  Found the spot bot and cheap cheap carpet shampooer and began sucking milk.  No way did I pull out a gallon.

Called hubs.  The way I see it, we have three options.  1.  Pull out the carpet and get new.  2. Mad dash to WMart to rent the RugDr.  3. Mad dash to home store to purchase new shampooer – mine was NOT doing the trick.  He advised me to check pricing for options 2 & 3.  He did not like option 1.  (??)

As I was calling around checking pricing, mom-in-law called back – “Have you checked carpet cleaners?  I think there’s a coupon in this week’s paper.”  I love this woman.

Thinking there was no way they would answer at 7pm, I rang and they answered!  Told them my story – but was looking for something fast.  He asked if 9:30 tomorrow was soon enough.  ?!!  YES!  I paid a little more than renting a rug doctor, and less than buying my own machine.

It is now Saturday evening.  Carpet cleaners came Wednesday.  They were running a three-room special, so as I sit in my office, the carpets here are spotless and beautiful, as well as my daughter’s bedroom.  There is no sign of the carnage in the living room either.  Blessings abound.  If there is a moral to this story it is this: There are always more options than you think.