I just wanted to share a little sampling of what I have been up to the last month. I have had my hands in many various projects right now or what I tell our workers are “mis experimentos” (my experiments).
Our newest and biggest venture is raising up chickens not just for our family– but for the public. We are raising what the Panamanians call the “Blancos” or my neighbor calls “Granja”– or what is known to us in North America as the Cornish Cross.
So far we are off to a fantastic start in our new business! We appreciate the support of our friends, who care about where their food comes from, making healthier choices and for supporting their local farmer. Gracias, amigos!
The Cornish Cross chicks pictured at a week old. Hola!
I also am raising up some dual purpose chickens for eggs and meat– which are called the “Negras” (Blacks) and the “Rojos” (Reds). I am not quite sure what breeds they actually are, but I will pull out the chicken book after these guys are older and see if I can figure it out.
The colored chickens will be raised after the Korean Natural Farming model.
The chicks eat mainly rice (which I lightly “salt” with starter mash), cut up bamboo leaves after day 3 and smashed egg yolk for two weeks to simulate the “Mothers milk”. These chickens will grow to forage on pasture, as well as eat organic fruit and veggies from the farm, whey and a diet of no more than 30% grain as adults and hopefully less as we add more high protein greens to their diet over the next year.
My little Negra fluffballs asleep on the rice hull bedding
I absolutely adore my role of being “Mother Hen”.
The brooding boxes are currently outside one of our windows in the carport. I can hear their little peeps when I am in our room and I can easily go out and check on the little guys and gals. Our plan is to put the brooding area in the big chicken house one day, but I really do not like the thought of my baby chicks being so far!!!
I am feeling “empty nest syndrome” already!
Here is a snapshot of the new and improved 1,300 sq ft chicken house under construction
If you have not read about about our plans on how we will be raising our chickens and why– check out this page of our blog:
Making Homeade Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother
My Mom takes apple cider vinegar or ACV on a regular basis and I do on and off… Because unpasteurized apple cider vinegar with the “mother” is hard to find in Panama and I am adding it to my chickens water as a “natural mild antibiotic”, I decided to make some of my own.
My jars of apple cider vinegar in the cupboard fermenting
The apple cider is cloudy which is good-- the mother is there– a host of good bacteria and living nutrients!
For information about the many and varied health benefits of apple cider vinegar with the mother:
Kefir Goat Milk
I also am preparing kefir goat milk again. I was making kefir a year and a half ago, but I accidentally threw my grains down the sink, so needless to say we have been without for a long time.
However, I am really pleased with my kefir this go round. It has a very pleasant mild flavor. In fact two of my Russian customers gave my kefir rave reviews stating it was “excellent” and “sheer bliss”.
For those of you who do not know what kefir is– it is an ancient Russian drink– like a liquid yogurt, but with many more strains of good bacteria and beneficial yeasts. The probiotics in kefir can actually colonize your gut instead of just “passing” through like yogurt. Kefir is a rich source of many different vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids– as well as assisting in regulation of the immune system, prevention of gastrointestinal disease and aiding in bone health.
I have currently been trying out recipes to make a perfect yogurt, Greek style yogurt and a soft spreadable cheese. So far I have been very pleased with my results.
Making kefir yogurt– Letting the curds and whey separate naturally
Then you strain off the excess liquid and you are left with a healthy great tasting thick yogurt!
In the next couple of months, I will trying out some hard cheese recipes. I am very excited about this! Most of the rennets are made from GMO sources, but with kefir I will not need to use rennet. I am also dreaming about a dairy cow and making homemade kefir butter!
Greek style kefir yogurt with fruit, almonds and sprinkled with cinnamon– Delish!
Projects in the Greenhouse Area
My rose arbor at the entrance of the greenhouse area
My climbing rose that Steve bought me two years ago finally has a permanent home!
We also made six banana circles– interspersed with dwarf banana plants, lemon grass and sweet potatoes. I have placed cardboard in the center of the circles to prevent weed growth, until the sweet potato plants and compost can deter them. My workers cannot understand why I do not want to use chemicals to kill off the weeds. They think it is funny I am so adamant about it and they just laugh and laugh– like I have completely lost my mind. I tell them I have enough chemicals in my body from all the foods I have eaten that were not organic in my past and I do not need anymore in there. Maybe one day they will understand.
The bananas plants are just now starting to shoot up
Sweet Potato starts in the banana circle given to me by our friend Shirley of Volcan
The Bunny Cage almost complete… It is awaiting a bunny and I am awaiting fertilizer!
We are hoping to get the plastic on the greenhouse in the next week. We would have had it done, but we are still trying to figure out the best way to apply the plastic on the roof because none of the plastic is wide enough to go on in one piece.
Sigh. Big lesson learned.
However, we will get it on one way or the other. I just pray I will be planting my little stash of heirloom and non- GMO seeds within the month! I am dreaming of various colored salad greens and speckled lettuces and fresh little sweet tomatoes for my salad.
The Black Soldier Fly
I ordered a starter kit of black soldier fly eggs last month to try to raise up and get a good colony going in our area, so we could feed the larvae to the chickens. They are an excellent source of healthy and free protein for the chickens, as well as great composters for our garden. A win-win situation.
However, the box of black soldier fly eggs got shipped up to Pennsylvania from Florida, instead of heading straight over to Texas and we were not able to get the package in time before Steve returned home four weeks ago.
The box sat at my daughters house for a month, but when Steve checked the box last week, he found some larvae alive and well in the starter kit plastic bag, so he brought them home.
Here are the little white black soldier fly larvae in their new home– a little compost bin
I will keep you posted on this project.
And last but not least the puppies… I do not think I posted pictures of them here yet, but here is Bebe our rescued street dog from Volcan and Sam a little Cocker Spaniel pup I got as a present.
Well dear friends and family– there is so much more I have not shared that we are doing around the farm– I will try to get another post or two out in the next week. Suffice to say we have been very busy– but very happy in our adventures!
I pray you are each well, happy and blessed.
Thinking of you all– those near and far!
Yours always, Rose
P.S. Molly Rose– see I have been very busy and I have not shared all! I love you!