Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Heather Smith Thomas — Notes from Sky Range Ranch: A Special Cow Named Buffalo Girl

A long-ago orphaned cow becomes a babysitter and friend.

Heather’s granddaughter Emily with her special cow, Buffalo Girl
For many years, my husband and I made sure our cows calved in January. This way, we could be sure that the cows would be bred again by the time they went to summer range in April, and bred to our own bulls, avoiding any inbreeding that might occur out on the range. January calving wasn’t ideal, and when the weather was really cold, we made sure our cows delivered their babies in the shelter of our barn. There, we could monitor the birth, helping if necessary, and dry newborn calves when the temperature fell below zero.

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Jell-O Summer Party Treat for Your Flock

Kids and chickens can agree on this: Jell-O’s fun to eat.

Photo © Keller + Keller Photography, excerpted from A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens. All rights reserved.
Kids love Jell-O, and it turns out, chickens feel the same way. This wiggly gelatin treat is not only a great boredom buster for chickens, but a fun way to get kids involved in caring for your family’s flock. Let them load it up with all the goodies your backyard birds love and see how your chickens respond. There’s entertainment for everyone!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

An Omelet Recipe for Kid Chefs

Let kids rule the kitchen on Father’s Day morning.

Photo © Julie Bidwell, excerpted from Cooking Class
Got kids who love to cook? Treat Dad to breakfast! Budding chefs will love making this simple omelet recipe from Cooking Class and personalizing it to suit Dad’s tastes. Choose his favorite cheese, or swap chives for other fresh herbs like parsley, basil, or dill. Who knows: your young foodies may develop their own signature methods for achieving omelet perfection.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Adam Danforth: Eat Less Meat

Take it from a butcher: less meat on your plate is better for everyone. 

© Keller + Keller Photography, excerpted from Butchering Poultry, Rabbit, Lamb, Goat, and Pork
On many plates on many tables in America, meat is the largest element in a meal, a central protein surrounded by vegetables as supporting players. This is true even as Americans throw away close to 50 percent of the food that’s produced and as drought becomes a daily reality in many parts of the country. As a butcher and teacher of on-farm slaughtering workshops, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about meat. I’ve considered the fact that meat is the most expensive ingredient I eat and that it demands the most resources from a food system whose resources are already stretched. I’ve contemplated everything from portion size to nutrients, and I’ve come to the realization that there’s something I can do to help solve our growing food crisis: eat less meat.

Craig LeHoullier: Start a Seedling Swap

Want to feed your local food system? Pass on the passion for growing food.

Photo © Stephen L. Garrett, excerpted from Epic Tomatoes
For gardeners who have truly been “bitten” by the bug, gardening is more than cultivating plants from seed. Gardeners hope to grow people who are passionate about growing food. To me, there are two ways to “grow gardeners.” Sharing histories and pictures of plant varieties can be utterly captivating. It changes a garden from a patch of green to a living museum — a place to bring friends, tell stories, and find peace and enjoyment. Making seeds and plants available through seed libraries and plant donations also affords opportunities to those otherwise fascinated but perhaps economically strapped. If you are lucky enough to be able to combine the two — sharing both stories and plants — that is true gardening gold.

Kirsten K. Shockey: Teach Kids to Cook

Give kids the skills they need to make healthy choices about food.

Students in Sitka, Alaska, learn a lesson in chemistry by making sauerkraut. Photo courtesy of Chris Bryner.
Last fall Christopher and I were on tour with our book Fermented Vegetables when we received an e-mail from Chris Bryner in Sitka, Alaska. Chris is a fourth grade teacher who uses cooking in the classroom regularly (high fives to that). His students were about to embark on a fermentation unit, and he was hoping to use Fermented Vegetables as a text for the class. His request was simple: would we be up for a brief conversation to help him plan?

Bloom Day — June 2015

Storey staffers share their June blooms. 

I don’t know how things are growing where you live, but at my mostly-wooded home in the hills of the Pioneer Valley, my plants are on a weird schedule. Things that don’t normally flower until summer are almost through their blooming cycle while strawberries are just now starting to ripen enough for picking. It’s wonky, but it’s also added a lovely element of surprise to stepping out into the garden. This month, poppies are opening alongside peonies and irises abound. What’s blooming where you are? – Emily Spiegelman, Digital Features Editor

Carolyn Eckert, Florence, Massachusetts


Friday, June 12, 2015

A Mixed Six for Father’s Day from Beer for All Seasons

Still looking for that perfect Father’s Day gift? Randy Mosher picks his top beer selections for a custom six-pack.

Dads come in all sizes, shapes, and tastes. This list suits a father who is curious about the passion for beer that’s taking over his son’s or daughter’s life and wants a little taste.
Photo by Mars Vilaubi

Monday, June 1, 2015

Make a Harvesting Tote from The Backyard Homestead Book of Building Projects

An easy-to-build carryall every busy gardener will love!

Project photo © Tom Thulen. All rights reserved.

You can use this multipurpose tote for ferrying tools into the garden or woods and for carrying berries, vegetables, and mushrooms back out. It’s lightweight and easy to sling over one shoulder so that both hands are free for carrying or picking. And it’s large enough to hold a wide array of hand tools, kneeling pads, gloves, and foods you’ve plucked along the way.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Heather Smith Thomas — Notes from Sky Range Ranch: The Cows We Kept as Pets

Through many years of raising cattle, a few special characters stand out.

Rudolph started life in Andrea’s old crib
We’ve had many cows over the years, and even when we were calving 180 cows each spring, we named every new arrival. A few of those calves became special to us, and some of the cows we raised became family pets.