Monday, September 16, 2013

Homemade Granola with Flax Seed

I was playing around with granola recipes and found one that tastes pretty good. The boys like it as it is or on top of plain yogurt with maple syrup or honey. It is an easy snack to make and is a healthy grab and go option for the busier days.

Homemade Granola with Flax seed:
  • 1 cup Rice Crispies
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbs Flax Seed
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar
Mix everything in a  bowl being sure to coat all the pieces with the syrup and sugar, then place it on an aluminum foil lined cookie sheet and bake it in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, mix the granola and bake for another 20 minutes.

Let it cool and enjoy!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Updates from the Homestead

My husband and I get a lot of people who are interested in what's new on the farm, and what we have going on around here. Since most of the people the know are not farmers the life we live appears to be sort of exotic, and kind of intriguing. We just moved out to the country about a year and a half ago so for me at least it still is kind of exotic and certainly an adventure. We came this way to start a homestead for our family and begin living a more self sufficient and meaningful lifestyle. So far it has been a success...with many, many mistakes lessons learned... 

So this is what has been happening...

I finally have been able to grow sunflowers! I have tried a few times but nothing has ever come of them but I must have earned my green thumb because they have arrived and survived the chickens. I will definitely be growing more in future years I want enough to keep growing and some for bouquets. I also want to make a good batch of seeds eventually. 

Our pumpkins are also right on time too, and will be ready to be harvested soon! I was hoping to get at least 5 this year so I could carve a couple and try my first ever from scratch pumpkin pie, and as it is turning out I will have closer to 25 or 30! So that's awesome. Next year with my sun flowers I will try a few different strains of pumpkins along with some gourds. I want to devote a part of our land to autumn harvesting so maybe I will get some Indian corn in there too. I am a lover of the fall and autumn decorating so I could see this area getting out of hand.


Chris, aka my Hubby, is the idea guy when it comes to planning our livestock. Right now we have about 35, five week old chickens that we are raising for meat (this is where the name Crooked Coop Farm comes in), and they appear to be ready to move out of their brooder (starter) coop and back by our laying chickens for the last five weeks. The layers also have been keeping up with production and we have been getting about 10 -12 eggs a day. Chris has been doing a really good job when it comes to ordering our animals, we have more people that want them than we can keep up to already, plus plenty for ourselves! So props to the hubby!

We harvested our potatoes, and they were the best potatoes I have ever eaten! We still have some blue potatoes I am pretty excited about trying but those won't be ready for a bit yet. In the place of our red, and German butterball potatoes we planted some cold hardy crops so we have kale, radishes and spinach. It looks like the radishes have sprouted and the others should be following soon. I think we will be able to harvest the kale up until winter.

We still have a couple different cabbages, rutabagas, tomatoes, tomatillios and a variety of peppers that are doing good yet too. We are able to harvest something every day and have extras to give to other people.

This is one days worth of tomatoes so I will soon be spending my days sweating over our canner in no time. My goal is to get us through the year without having to buy canned tomato anything. I love grabbing home made sauces from a stockpile in our food storage area. It is a lot of work to grow, harvest and can your own food but it is so worth it to know where your food came from. It also saves a lot of money. With our new attempt at self sufficiency we are also trying to live a more frugal lifestyle. Which can be tricky for a family of four but we are making it work.

And the last update from Crooked Coop Farm is that I should be selling some of my wood signs and chicken feed bags turned totes at a few craft fairs this holiday season. I have a couple lined up and am working out the details. I will update when I know more details. This sign has been my top seller so far, and I have been getting a lot of good feedback from it in my Etsy shop so I am keeping positive about the upcoming shows. 

So far this this homestead idea has proven to be quite the journey, and one that I am anxious to continue. I really like blogging and sharing the adventure too! Although I did kind of space there in August while I was organizing our blogging plan, it helps me keep in touch what is really happening around here, and also documents the process so one day if this blog is till accessible I will be able to share a with memories with the kiddos. Alright then, so keep an eye on us and I would love to hear about your self reliant ideas and homesteading adventures too!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Creamy Late Summer Cucumber Salad

We had some extra cucumbers left over from my sister's garden and were looking for something to do with them before they turned bad. The cucumbers were already starting to go soft so a salad like this, that uses vinegar, would help preserve them for at least a week longer. Since the cucumbers are sliced thin the softness isn't an issue. The acidity of the vinegar together with the salt prevents bacteria growth similar to pickling and will keep your vegetables longer... plus it tastes super good.

Many people have their own versions of a cucumber salad recipe, and this is the one my husband came up with, which is also a version of the one his grandmother used.

Creamy Late Summer Cucumber Salad:
  • 2 cucumbers thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion thinly sliced
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill (or fresh if you have it)
  • pinch or two of white pepper
  • pinch of garlic
Make  your dressing first by combining vinegar, sour cream, salt, sugar, dill and garlic being sure to taste it as you go and adjust the salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Then add your cucumbers and onions, stir well making sure everything is coated with your dressing, cover and chill in the refrigerator 12-24 hours before serving.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Painted Optimus Prime Night Stand

In yesterday's post I mentioned it was our oldest son's birthday and shared some homemade party decorations. Today's post is to share his birthday present, an old table turned into an imaginative night stand . This table was found at a rummage sale and originally was a pink color perfect for a  little girl's room but....I have boys. I wanted to turn this into something fun that was both useful and interactive. Like many 5 year old little boys out there he is in love with transformers especially Optimus Prime so what better way to take advantage of the tables boxy shape but turn it into a representation of the character himself. First I primed the table and blocked in the colors, then I went back and added the details using photos I found online as a reference. I then outlined it using sharpie paint markers and gave it a final coat of a clear satin finish to protect the paint. Our five year old loved the final results and now he has a new place to keep his treasures.

I love mural painting and decorating furniture most especially projects for children, and I think both are a fun way to heighten imaginations. Here are a couple more examples of  children's furniture pieces I have transformed from old  furniture found at thrift stores. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Easy Sew Rustic Party Bunting

Today is our oldest child's 5th birthday! When there is a birthday in the house I like to start the birthday boy's day by decorating so when they wake up the decorations are the first thing they see. I used to buy the streamers and other colorful hanging things to decorate for them, and the house would always look good, but I would have to buy them for every birthday every year. Wanting to look for a more economical approach to decorating decided to start making my own party bunting using scrap fabric I was given by my Grandmother and ribbon. It turns out the bunting is super easy to make and I really like the rustic homemade look they have when they are complete. 

To make them I took quilting scraps that have been cut to 5 x 5 inch squares put two squares together with the wrong sides facing in, and used a zigzag scissors to cut the pieces in triangle shapes. Since I pieced them together with the wrong sides in they can be hung up  in any direction and they ares still pretty to look at. Once they were cut I sewed them together with a straight stitch as they were without hemming them. Since they are not hemmed I think they are a bit more rustic looking...which I like. I will probably try to make more bunting with a hem to just to see how it goes. Once the triangle pieces were sewn together I sewed them to two pieces of ribbon of equal widths and lengths with a zigzag stitch. I sewed one piece to the front of the bunting and one piece to the back so when I hang them I can just tie them up. And that is it. The whole project took less than an hour.

For the sake of photography I used our chicken coop as a backdrop. I like it's weathered look and often use it to photograph my artwork....

like I did here with my Pallet Wood American Flag.

I like to piece the scraps together in a random pattern to give the bunting more of an eclectic look. I also use two different colored ribbon for the same reason.

The smaller bunting here was made the same way only using scraps from cutting the larger triangles I don't like to waste my art supplies so I always try to use each scrap. The smaller one is a bit more tedious but still took less than an hour to make.

Today I used the bunting to decorate for our son's big day but I think they work great for and party decorating inside or out. I imagine I will be making much more of these in the future for different occasions and you may eventually see them on our farm's Etsy shop.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Recycled Little Golden Books

I added more recycled Little Golden Books to Crooked Coop Farm's Etsy Shop today! I make these using Little Golden Books that I find when I am treasure hunting at thrift stores and antique shops. To make them I remove the gold binding with a paper cutter, then I add blank recycled paper in between the story and bind the book together again using a spiral binding. I use these at home as journals for my boys but I have had customers use them for themselves too. I also have had a customer use a "Mother Goose" recycled Journal as a a guestbook for a baby shower which I thought was a pretty cute idea. 

Sometimes I am a little uneasy about cutting up a vintage book like it is something I "shouldn't be doing", but in my opinion what is the point of holding on to something just because it is old. By cutting them up and putting them back together again I am giving new life to the books and giving them a new purpose. Also, after I give them to my boys to color over and journal in they are much more valuable to me than they would be if they were on a shelf saved only because they are vintage. The boys like these over traditional blank journals too. My oldest has a recycled "My First Book About Planets" journal and he loves the extra story mixed in with his drawings, and it gives him extra avenues for his imagination. Since most of his drawings are hard to understand (he's only 4) I always make a note of what he tells me the drawing is of on the margin of the page. I think it is a fun way to record his ideas and create a keepsake out of the book.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Vintage School Desk Makeover

We found this old school desk at the town dump in the free pile. It looked sturdy enough, and I have been looking for a table or desk for my boys to use for reading and coloring in the living room so we took it home. With a little love I knew this desk would be a perfect fit. All that was needed was for it to be cleaned and painted. I took the desk apart and spray painted the pieces individually with blue, silver and ivory paint before screwing them back together.  It was a simple enough project and since the desk opens the boys now  have a place to keep their crayons and coloring books.

The desk is more of a jungle gym for our little one but soon enough he will sit still long enough to use it.  Our oldest is excited for his first year of school and this desk will also give him a good place for homework. Fingers crossed that he maintains this excitement through college :)

If you have any DIY makeover transformations of your own please leave a link with a comment and I will check it out!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Perfect Eggless Waffle Recipe

Although we raise chickens to lay delicious free range eggs for us our oldest has an egg (and peanut) allergy and has to miss out. Usually it is not a problem to avoid giving him anything with eggs until it comes to baking and breakfast. I like to make things from scratch and continually search for recipes that are free of eggs, and  sometimes they are great while other times not so much. It is hard to find recipes that taste good AND hold together. I have had many birthday cakes fall apart with eggless cake recipes. 

Here is a particularly good waffle recipe we tried over the weekend that I altered and wanted to share:

Perfect Eggless Waffles:

  • 2 cups flour
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tbs melted butter
  • 2 cups milk

First mix together all of the dry ingredients then add your milk and melted butter. Mix it all together keeping it slightly lumpy and pour it into your waffle iron. 

These waffles turned out great and the boys loved them so I will say it's a keeper! If you have any eggless recipes that your little ones love please share them I am always looking for more.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

DIY Reclaimed Pallet Wood Flag

My first attempt at patriotic pallet art

I have been meaning to make use out of an old pallet we had for quite a while now originally planning it to be a landscape piece, but with the 4th of July I guess my patriotism got the best of me and I decided to make an American flag instead and I LOVE it! This piece will be hanging in our home all year round. This was a fairy simple project the hardest part was removing the planks from the panels and getting the little one to nap so I had a chance to paint it :)

All I did was use a hammer to carefully pry the planks from the pallet. The pallet was pretty old so most of the nails pulled through which made things a bit easier. After I had the planks removed I lined them up and nailed two pieces of wood that were once a part of our old windows to the back to act as a brace.

I already liked the natural look of the piece after I nailed it together...I see many future pallet projects ahead...

I used a water based acrylic paint for the project and layered the paint on rather loosely. Since I knew it was going to be distressed anyway I wasn't too careful painting, and I wanted the rustic folk look.

To add my stars I simply cut a star shape out of card stock and sprayed through the stencil with a white flat spray paint. (I like Rust-Oleum for most of my projects) The real fun is distressing it that is when the piece always gains it's character. I used a file and sandpaper to give it the rustic finish.After a little elbow grease my piece was ready to hang. I added wire to the back securing it with screws and heavy duty frame hanger. My flag should be good to go for this 4th of July and many others.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

French Countryside Coq au vin

Previously we were the caretakers of two roosters here at Crooked Coop Farm, one pleasant rooster, and one mean, aggressive, and rather scary rooster. The later had to go. 

Our mean rooster named "Roosty" and then renamed by our oldest as "Big ol' fat Belly" was a Red Ranger from our first flock of chickens. He was scheduled to be butchered last year but we decided to keep him as a guard rooster for the rest of the flock. Unfortunately he wasn't just  guarding the birds  against predators he was protecting them from our family when we went back to the coop as well  creating a not so delightful situation. The older he became the more aggressive he became and once Big ol' Fat Belly began to be aggressive with our boys it was time for him to go. There are other options to take when one has an aggressive rooster but seeing that he was eye level with our youngest we thought the best option would be for him to get butchered. 

What do you do once the big rooster is gone?

My husband is a chef by trade so he likes to make the most out of any dining opportunity, and this means Roosty became coq au vin. Coq au vin is a traditional french countryside dish that translates to cockerel in red wine. It is a complicated recipe that calls for an old rooster (which gives it a better sauce). If you are up for the challenge of making this dish it is well worth it. 

Here is my husband's recipe:

You will need:
  • 1 Big Ol' Fat Belly cut into eighths (ours weighed 6 lbs. 10 oz dressed)
  • 1.5 L Pinot Noir
  • 1 lb mushrooms halved
  • approximately 15 shallots peeled and quartered (preferably you would want to have pearl onions rather than shallots but our store was out so he substituted)
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled and flattened
  • 1/2 pound bacon diced
  • 1 Bouquet Garni (two bay leaved, a few sprigs of parsley and a few sprigs of thyme)
  • a few sprigs of savory
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 1/2 T sugar
  • flour
  • 4 T butter

  • Marinade Roosty in Pinot Noir overnight. 
  • In a large dutch oven (he used cast iron) render bacon until crisp
  • Remove bacon and set aside
  • Take rooster pieces out of marinade, pat dry then brown off in pot
  • once all pieces are browned set aside
  • add mushrooms and cook until browned
  • add butter if necessary and when browned set mushrooms aside
  • add shallots and cook until browned
  • return bacon, mushrooms, rooster to the pot
  • add your bouquet garni and savory
  • add salt and paper to taste
  • add your sugar
  • add wine marinade to the pot and bring to a boil
  • once boiling reduce heat and cover for about 3 hours or until tender
  • Remove rooster mushrooms and shallots from pot and keep warm
  • skim away any fat from top of broth
  • make a roux in a separate pan and add a little to the pot at a time
  • then cook until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes)
  • return mushrooms, shallots and rooster once again to pot and cook until hot.

Serve one piece over mashed potatoes with sauce from your pot. 

Enjoy! If you have any experience with this dish or others that call for a rooster please share them with us!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer Pizza Dinner

From our backyard to our plate:
Summer Pizza Dinner

I don't think I am the only mom around who has a hard time getting her little ones to eat their veggies. I try to make exciting menus for the kids and sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't and when I find a good one I like to share it. Here is a pizza dinner that partially came from our garden that the kiddos loved. 

I had some Italian bread left from a previous dinner that I sliced thin and topped with a homemade pizza sauce. Since we began canning I always make my own sauce it doesn't take long and it always tastes great. 

To make it I:
  • take a small can of tomato paste and mix it with a can of water over medium heat.
  • add a tablespoon or two of sugar to lighten the acidity.
  • let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • to season I use fresh basil and oregano from the garden a pinch or two of salt and a few shakes of granulated garlic. I like a lot of basil so I am usually heavy with it but make it to your taste not mine.

My pizza is them topped with
  • my sauce
  • mozzarella
  • fresh tomato preferably from the garden
  • spinach again from the garden if available
  • and a dash more mozzarella
I bake it at 400 for 12-15 min on a slightly greased pizza pan, and I garnished it with asparagus from the asparagus patch in back that has been sauteed in butter with a pinch of salt and pepper.The pizza was easier to get them to eat than the asparagus but I thought it tasted great.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Welcome to Crooked Coop Farm!

Welcome to the blog of Crooked Coop Farm! The photo to the left is our Crooked Coop the home to our own family of egg laying chickens and the occasional nosey sheep. The coop itself is crooked giving us our name "Crooked Coop Farm". 

My husband Chris and I (Anna) moved to a rural area of Southeastern Wisconsin in 2012 with dreams of a self reliant lifestyle. Since our move we have learned how to raise and butcher our own animals, grow organic vegetables and can our harvest. We have many more plans in our future and would like to share our adventure with you.

We also are on the hunt for knowledge and encourage our readers to leave comments and links sharing their stories as well. One of the greatest parts of living in the age of technology is sharing information and building  a community around the entire world. As you learn about our homestead please inform us of yours as well.

Today our farm consists of 3 sheep, 1 lamb,  37 young chicks, and 27 egg laying hens. We also have a certified organic garden soon to be full of spinach, lettuces, beans, potatoes, pumpkins, tomatoes, herbs and  root vegetables among others. Also we are tending to an asparagus patch, established rhubarb, mulberry trees as well as wild raspberries and concord grape vines. All of this may sound like a lot of work, and it is, but the work is rewarding and because of it we can feed our family, friends and the community.

So my husband and I encourage you to follow our blog and share your storied in an effort to build a community of gardeners, farmers, homesteaders, families, artists and anybody else who is interested in living a natural self reliant lifestyle. We will continue to try to provide exciting how to projects, recipes and bits of our life with you while we raise our animals and 3 kids in a homesteading environment. 



P.S. Don't forget to like us share us and find us on Facebook and we will do the same for you!


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