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Sweet Summer Farm

Our Wild and Crazy Indian Runner Ducks

Sweet Summer FarmWe wanted to do an update on our Indian Runner ducks. Well, about all we can say is "bless their hearts." We just feel so sorry for them. They are absolutely terrified of everything.

We purchased them to forage for bugs on the farm. We were hoping they would help keep the slugs and the Japanese beetles under control, but so far they are yet to leave their pen. When they see that we have left the door open, they run away from the door loudly quacking bloody murder. They run as far away from the opened door as possible. Making a small, tight, duck wad, they step all over each other, each trying to get closer and closer to the center of the cluster of seven ducks. If we circle around them and try to herd them out the open door, the poor things run from us and toward the open door. Then in an instant, they all at the same time seem to realize, "OMG the door is open!!! The horror of it!!! RUN AWAY, RUN AWAY!!!" The ducks' nervous breakdown is now complete. The poor things make a mad dash to the door of their duck room in the barn, where they remain until they think all danger has passed. Just hiding out in the dark until that evil door is once again closed and latched.

Once we decided to catch the ducks and place them out in the orchard, right next to their pen. BAD idea. The poor little soul we caught first ran into the duck pen from the outside over and over trying to get INTO the pen. His misery was so sad. We don't know what we have done to mess up these poor little ducks so badly. It really is a shame; we so wish they could enjoy free-ranging on the farm. But right now we are just hoping for some duck eggs.

If you have Indian Runner ducks and have any ideas that might help, please let us know.

indian runner ducks 
Run away!

indian runner ducks 
Don't open it!

indian runner ducks 
Hurry! Let's hide in here.

indian runner ducks 
Thank goodness, the evil door is latched.

Grands' Greatest Sausage and Cheese Biscuits Recipe

Sausage and Cheese Biscuits on a Plate

Hints from Grand:

You can make "Drop Biscuits" by dropping heaping tablespoons of dough onto a greased cookie sheet if you don't want to roll them out.

You can also make the biscuits in a muffin tin by scooping up a 1/4 cup of dough and dropping it into a greased muffin tin.

Grands' Greatest Sausage and Cheese Biscuits Recipe

INGREDIENTS

4 cups of self-rising flour
1/2 stick of butter
2 cups of grated cheese
1 pound of sausage
2 cups of buttermilk

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Place sausage in a frying pan with about half a cup of water. Mash sausage with a fork as it cooks because you want to have crumbled sausage. Cook until well done, and set aside.

3. Measure your flour into a large bowl, Mix in butter. You can use a pastry blender or, Grand's trick, you can grate the butter into the flour

4. Stir in the cheese then stir in the buttermilk. Start with the first cup of buttermilk and then add milk until the mixture becomes a soft dough. You may not need the whole second cup

5. Stir in the sausage.

6. Roll out the dough and cut with a biscuit cutter. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown

Biscuits in a pan 

Sausage and Cheese Buiscuits

Our Harvest Has Started

Sweet Summer FarmHere is an update on what is going on at Sweet Summer Farm. We are really enjoying our first spring harvest. We just planted a few rows of potatoes to see how they would do in the hard soil. We didn't buy any potatoes, we just planted some leftover potatoes we got from the farmers market. We are excited to have harvested over 50lbs of potatoes. We've also started harvesting a few onions and that's good because we use lots of onions. Grand puts them in almost everything she cooks. We have also harvested our garlic and came home with a "table full" as you can see from the pictures below.

The tomatoes are doing very well and we hope to get a large harvest. There are many little tomatoes, so we are very hopeful. We are looking forward to some great tomato sandwiches. But it is going to be hard not to pick them green and fry up some green tomatoes. Wouldn't they be good with some homemade pimento cheese? Just thinking about it makes my mouth water!!! Guess we will have to wait and see which one wins out in the end. The truth is I am sure there will be plenty of both. Hopefully, lots of canned tomatoes to enjoy this winter, maybe some homemade ketchup.

The cabbage, however, isn't doing very well. It has some worms and isn't looking very good. Still, we think we will have a few small heads to cook up with the potatoes. We hope to harvest it very soon. Our peaches are also getting bigger and are looking good. Well, they looked a lot better before the deer came by, but we are thinking we might get a peach or two. It would be nice to at least get a bite of fresh peach. Well, if the deer don't mind! The peas are growing fast, plus we have more of them to plant. The peppers look great and lots of baby peppers are enjoying the hot weather here. We have some squash seedlings we will be planting this week, as well as some okra and butter beans.

We're so looking forward to the next couple of months at the farm. We will keep you posted on how everything is going. See pictures of our harvest down below.Love Digging Potatoes

Love digging potatoes

A

A "table full" of garlic

Love that Garlic!

Love that garlic!

Potatoes & Onions

Potatoes and onions

Baby Tomatoes

Baby tomatoes

Green Peppers

Green peppers

Blueberries

Blueberries

Our Biggest Crop, Japanese Beetles

Our biggest crop, Japanese beetles!

Raspberries

Raspberries

The Old Corn Crib

Sweet Summer FarmOn our farm is what we've been told is an old corn crib. It's leaning badly and some of the wood has decayed. It has two lean-tos and a small room in the middle with a door. There is no floor. There are lots of old scrap wood, tools, and some old wooden boxes filled with nails in the building. We even found an old ax head. We don't know when this building was built or if it is original to the farm, we don't believe that it is. We don't know what it was used for in the past, but we had thought about making it a turkey house. This building is very close to our driveway, so we thought we could turn it into a farm stand. There is an odd box nailed to the outer wall that is about six inches deep, eighteen to two feet wide and about six feet off the ground. We have no idea what this is. Grand thinks it could have been a nest box for Guineas. But then we were thinking don't guineas nest on the ground? The building is leaning so severely we think a strong breeze might blow it over. One man that we talked to about repairing it thinks we should use a tractor to pull the building up straight and then put in new supports. Other people think it could be jacked up with house jacks. We have asked quite a few of people how we should fix it and many of them just shrug their shoulders and say tear it down. We hate to just tear it down, once it is gone it is gone forever. We hate to see so many old farm building being lost, there are so many just in our neck of the woods that are falling apart. We go back and fore about what to do with this building it is not going to be an easy fix, many of the supports have rotted away There is no telling what it will cost to repair. We do feel that it adds some charm to the farm, mostly because we love these old buildings. A number of people have stopped by the farm to tell us that they would love to buy the old wood if we tear it down. One day on our way to the farmers market we saw some old barn boards for sale. We would hate for this to happen to this old building. Please if you have ever repaired a building like this let us know. Does anyone else think it is worth saving? Or has its time come and we should tear it down and make way for new and better things at Sweet Summer Farm. If you know any way we could save the corn crib comment below with your suggestions.

Side of the Corn Crib

Corn Crib

Inside of Corn Crib

Chicken and Dumpling Casserole

Sweet Summer FarmWe have enjoyed this recipe for a number of years and it came from a good friend of Grands', Mrs. Betty Hutchinson. Miss Betty is a wonderful cook and has shared many of her recipes with us and we enjoy them all. This is a delicious recipe for a main dish and we like it served with broccoli or English peas.

Ingredients

Pie
1 cooked and deboned chicken
6 eggs boiled and chopped
3 cups of chicken broth
2 tablespoons of corn starch
salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

Crust
1-1/2 cups of self rising flour
1-1/2 cups of buttermilk
1 stick of melted butter

Directions

1. Cover chicken with water and simmer chicken for several hours with salt, pepper, and seasonings of your choice. This step could be done in a Crock-Pot and the chicken will be done in time for supper. Make sure to cover chicken with enough water so you have 3 cups of chicken broth when you get done.

2. In a saucepan combine 1 cup of chicken broth, corn starch, salt, pepper, and the garlic powder and cook to make a thickened broth and set aside.

3. Make crust by combining the self-rising flour and the buttermilk and slowly whisk in the melted butter. Don't panic, this crust is thin so that you can pour it.

4. De-bone chicken and put meat in a 9 by 13 pan and top with boiled eggs. Then cover the boiled eggs and chicken with your thickened broth.

5. Pour crust over chicken, eggs, and thickened broth. Spread until crust covers the top. Now, I know this sounds strange but, you're going to pour 2 cups of chicken broth over the entire top of the casserole. Yes, on top of the crust that you smoothed nicely over the top you are now going to pour 2 cups of chicken broth. Just pour back and forth, over the entire pan. I know, I know it sounds strange and looks even stranger. You'll probably think "I've ruined this" but you haven't.

6. Put it in the oven at 350 F for 1 hour till bubbly and golden brown on top.

The broth that you put on at the end will sink through the crust and make a delicious sauce over the chicken and eggs and the crust will rise to the top and become golden brown. It's just magic! We hope you enjoy it, please let us know.

Casserole

Growing, Changing and Learning

Sweet Summer FarmOn the farm, we have four vegetable beds that have been planted. We have some purple, some yellow, and some white potatoes. In the same bed as the potatoes, there is Swiss chard and many different types of tomatoes. In another bed, we have garlic and broccoli. The garlic is doing very well. The broccoli is growing but we are afraid that it is too hot for it. It is April and it is already 80 degrees F in the afternoon. We are also trying out some peanuts to see if we can grow them in the north Georgia mountains. They are doing fair. We aren't counting on peanut butter sandwiches just yet. In the last bed, we have bell peppers, luffa gourds, snow peas, and cabbages. The luffa gourds and snow peas are on arbors. The arbors are built out of livestock panels. There is also a square of bell peppers and two rows of cabbages.

We also have lots of plants that are on our seed rack waiting to be planted. In the vegetable department, we have Mortgage Lifter tomatoes, Henderson's Pink Ponderosa tomatoes, Brandywine tomatoes, Better Boy tomatoes, Corno Di Rosso peppers, a lot of other peppers, and sweet Annie (herb). More about sweet Annie later. In the flower department, we have Mammoth sunflowers, Echinacea coneflowers, Thumbelina mix zinnias, and Cut and Come Again mix zinnias.

In the berry and fig department, we have 6 blueberries, 6 raspberries, 50 strawberries,and 3 Brown Turkey figs that are in the ground and coming along nicely. We have 3 Niagara grapes, 3 Catawba grapes, and 20 small blueberry plants from a local blueberry farmer that need planting. Still more holes to dig.

Also, we have started an orchard, where we planted our orchard there used to be an old shed. We tore down the shed because it was right up against the road and made it hard to get to the barn. Therefore, we call it Old Shed Orchard. In total, we have 14 trees in our orchard. We have 3 Belle of Georgia semi-dwarf peach trees, a Secal pear tree, a Bartlett pear tree, and a Keifer pear tree. I know that the poor Kiefer pear is happy to be in the ground. We bought the tree for another farm we were going to buy, but when we didn't close on the other farm, the kefir pear was set in the driveway. We even brought it in the house to protect it from a late frost. Now it has reached its permanent home in the Old Shed Orchard. We also have a whole heap of apple trees. We have a Fuji, a Honeycrisp, a Baldwin, a Sheepsnose, a Ben-Davis, and a horse apple. On the other side of the house, we have three Elliott pecan trees because Grand really misses having pecan trees.

Before (When we bought the farm)

Before (when we bought the farm)

After (about six months later)

After (about six months later)

How to Raise Chicks

Sweet Summer FarmMy little brother Matie has always wanted bantam chicks. Now that we have a farm we have gotten him five bantam chicks. We purchased assorted bantams from a local feed store. so we have not sure what we have. It has been really fun trying to figure out what type of chicks we have. We have found out we have a Polish and a Frizzle. We have raised Orpington and Wyandotte chicks in the past and have had lots of success and really enjoyed it. So we already had our "chick set-up". If you want to raise chicks, here are the supplies you need.

Heat Lamp: You need a heat lamp and a red colored bulb. We prefer the clamping heat lamp because you can take it on and off the tub.
Thermometer: You must have a thermometer to make sure the chicks are the right temperature. Chicks start out at 95 to 100 degrees F. Then, lower their temp 5 degrees every week

Bantam chicks in the galvanized tub
Galvanized Tub: Make sure your galvanized tub is big enough for your chicks. They grow very fast, and might outgrow a small tub in a few weeks. Our tub is 35 gallons. Some people use plastic tubs, but if you use a heat lamp be careful, the heat will melt the plastic. We wish we had bought an oval tub instead of a circular one. You could put the lamp on one side and the chicks could move in and out of the heat easier than in a circular one.
Wood Shavings: Chicks need some type of bedding. We use a bag of wood shavings, just a small layer at the bottom, for our chicks. Then, when they need to be cleaned, the wood shavings are easy to clean. Wood shavings are also easily compostable and good for the garden.
Food and Water Dispenser: One of the most important things is their food and water. Make sure they have lots of it, and that it's clean. Chicks will scratch wood chips into their food and water dispensers, so check them often and empty and refill their food and water when necessary.
Chick Food: You need a special chick food for the chicks. We prefer organic feed.
Chick Grit: Chicks also need special chick grit. Normal chicken grit is too big for chicks.

And that is what you will need to raise chicks. We hope you have fun starting your flock.

Puff the polish chick

Blair the Frizzle chick