Ducks love spinach. Or rather, I should say ‘Ducks love pretty much anything green, especially if you float it in a tub of water!’ But truthfully ducks do love spinach, as do chickens. I have been somewhat hesitant to give them too much because spinach frequently appears on the list of foods to avoid. However, spinach is high in calcium and other nutrients (along with collards, kale, chards and Brussels sprouts), so I really wanted to find out if spinach could be a healthy part of my ducks’ diet.
This week we combated the southern heat and humidity with plenty of cold water, shade and frozen treats for our animals - and delicious homemade ice cream and thirst-quenching beverages for us. It's summer in Virginia... you would think after more than a decade here we would be used to it! Enjoy a peek at our week on the farm.
Last month, I was invited to attend the Garden2Blog event held each spring at the home of P. Allen Smith in Little Rock, Arkansas with a handful of other prestigious garden bloggers. G2B14 was comprised of two days of workshops and other events at Moss Mountain Farm to promote new gardening techniques and products, as well as provide a wonderful networking platform for like-minded garden bloggers, sponsors and other industry leaders.
What made the trip all the more exciting was that I was asked to arrive early to record a segment for P. Allen Smith's radio show and also do some taping for his television series! The four days I spent in Arkansas were a whirlwind of activity and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
Dust baths are a chicken's way of keeping clean. The fine sand or dirt in their bathing area keeps their feathers in pristine condition and helps them stay free of mites, lice and other parasites. Your chickens will enjoy bathing and sunning themselves - and often bathe in groups. It seems dust bathing is a communal activity! Here are a few tips to building a BETTER dust bath area for your flock.
What better use for your fresh eggs this summer than in homemade ice cream? I love this recipe because it not only uses eggs, but also fresh mint leaves - and we have an abundance of both this time of year. When I saw the recipe in this months's A Taste of Summer publication, I knew I had to try it.
This week heralded the beginning of summer, and here in Virginia the heat and humidity blew in with a vengeance, reminding us Yankees once again why we belong back in New England! I scrambled to harvest some veggies and herbs before the sun baked everything towards the end of the week and we feasted on fresh garlic, peas, carrots, beets and spinach, plus the first of our blackberries and homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream.
We hatched two brand new chicks, but sadly a third didn't make it after struggling for several days. She had endured a long, arduous hatch and just couldn't recover. We had named her Clover, so I buried her in a patch of pink clover under our willow tree. Such is life on a farm: The highest of highs and the lowest of lows. But through it all, we are reminded on a daily basis why we live out in the country. Enjoy a peek at our week.
Let me preface this post by saying as a general rule, we don't wash our eggs until just before using them. I have found that by keeping the nesting boxes clean and collecting the eggs often, our eggs are pretty clean when they arrive in the kitchen. By not wetting the eggshells, we rely on the natural 'bloom' that covers each eggshell to keep the egg fresh and prevent air and bacteria from entering through the pores in the shell.
However, there is that random dirty egg from time to time, and I know some of you do wash your eggs right after you collect them ... so I have developed an all natural antibacterial egg rinse to wash any eggs caked with mud or manure, followed by a natural preservative that can be safely applied to replace the 'bloom' that has been washed off.
This week brought hot humid days, with thunderstorms sprinkled here and there most afternoons. Wonderful weather to help our gardens grow. We harvested our first garlic of the season and our first blackberries ever. We now have three sets of chicks, since we celebrated the arrival of three more hatched here on our farm this week. Universally, spring is the season of birth and growth - and nowhere more so than on a farm. Enjoy this peek at our week!
As many of you know, I recently completed my course of study at The Herbal Academy of New England. An online course patterned to allow students to progress at their own pace in their herbal studies, their Intermediate Herbal Course fit in perfectly with my lifestyle and I completed it in about seven months, fitting in my learning as I had time.
I really enjoyed the experience and shared few of the concoctions I prepared in conjunction with my studies over the last few months HERE on the blog. Now, I'm excited to announce that we are giving one of you the opportunity to win an enrollment in the Online Introductory Herbal Course!
Two of my favorite breakfast foods are eggs and avocados. Both are super nutritious and dense, and fill me up for the busy day ahead, so when I started seeing the cute egg avocado boats all over Pinterest I knew I wanted to give them a try. The only problem was, I wasn't excited about heating the oven up just to make my breakfast, especially in the heat of the summer. So I played around a bit and came up with an easy stove top version - no oven required.
What a week! We got our 300,000th 'Like' on Facebook, which is a huge milestone! It just cements my belief that there are a whole lot of people out there who not only want to raise chickens naturally but have fun doing it! So a huge thank you to everyone who follows Fresh Eggs Daily and has told their friends (or even that random guy in the chicken aisle at Tractor Supply) to come check us out!
Our friends at Duluth Trading Co. have been generous over the years. I love my Armachillo plaid shirt they sent me to 'review' last spring. It has become my go-to outfit for working around the farm paired with jeans or shorts. It's comfy and great for layering over a tee on cooler days or wearing by itself in the summer.
Okay, I realize that technically the Garden2Blog event thrown by P. Allen Smith at Moss Mountain Farm each spring focuses on gardening not food, but c'mon, as a foodie, I would be remiss were I not to share some of the wonderful meals we ate while we were there learning about innovative new garden products and meeting some of the most talented gardener bloggers on earth. And besides, food comes from gardens, right?