Ah, spring — the most fickle season of the year. This is a time for tender shoots to sprout from the earth, and for migratory flocks to fill the air with their familiar songs once more. Continue reading →
As a vegetable farmer at Humble Hands Harvest, I get asked a lot what I do during the winter. I remember asking the same question of my farmer mentors before I got started on my own, and hearing them laugh: the job never lets up. It just changes over the seasons! Continue reading →
When everyone in your household is either at work or school all day, it can be daunting to think about getting a pet dog or cat, much less a flock of backyard chickens! But in reality, chickens are very easy to raise once you have your set-up and routine figured out.
Planning the best Thanksgiving turkey ever? Shelley, Lehman’s Merchandising Assistant, has been brining her family’s Thanksgiving bird for the past several years, and she shared her simple recipe with us. Brining the turkey for at least 12 hours before roasting makes it extra moist, and this recipe gives the meat a slightly sweet flavor (which Shelley says her brood loves). Try it this year – it’s quick, easy and it just may become part of your Turkey Day tradition.
In a large stockpot, combine all ingredients except turkey and ice. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve salt and sugar. Remove from heat and let stand 30 minutes. Chill. Place the turkey, brining liquid and ice in stockpot or lidded bucket and let stand up to 12 hours, refrigerated (overnight works well). Roast and feast!
Chickens, like most animals, do far better in the cold than the heat, but will appreciate and benefit from a bit of extra care when the frigid winter months arrive. Interestingly enough, heating your coop isn’t one of the things I recommend. Continue reading →
Pole barns or sheds are simple structures ideal for agricultural purposes, but can be useful on rural homesteads and even suburban lots. These simple structures are perfect for firewood storage, housing tools and machinery, or even shelter for livestock. One only needs basic skills, as well as lumber and some tools, to build one. Materials are inexpensive and can be adjusted to any size needed.
Editor’s Note: Hannah will be using Lehman’s products and blogging about them in the coming months. Who better to field test our gardening, farming and kitchen tools than an off-grid farmer? We look forward to this series, and we think you’ll benefit from Hannah’s knowledge, too! You can follow Hannah’s farming adventures on Facebook at Humble Hands Harvest.
Hi, I’m Hannah. I’m a young farmer who grew up in the city. That’s not an easy thing
to be these days, with land prices through the roof and not very many of my peers understanding what it means to live my life in response to and in collaboration with the earth.
As a college student about eight years ago, majoring in Mathematics, I gradually became aware of a disconnect between my academic life and the “real world,” where wars raged and injustice spread and living things rooted down. I briefly considered quitting college to work with a peacemaking group, but came to the conclusion that I could graduate and figure out something “real” to do after that. I found an internship on a farm in Texas focused on small-scale agriculture as applicable to the developing world, and jumped into managing a Community Supported Agriculture vegetable garden alongside a goat dairy. Continue reading →
Organic Gardener Karen Geiser enthralls a crowd at Lehman’s May Daze Celebration this past spring.
Organic gardener, author, blog contributor, and mother of five, Karen Geiser, is no stranger to country living. She shares her expert advice with customers just as if they have pulled up a chair on her front porch. . . and all the while shelling peas, pitting cherries, or churning butter (depending on what is in season on her farm).
We always enjoy hearing about fascinating customer connections that happen in our store. And Karen certainly has the pleasure of interacting with many visitors and hearing their stories!
Here are some recent tidbits she reports:
Last week I met folks from Colombia, Costa Rica and Brazil (Must have been Latin America day).
A fellow from Pennsylvania visits frequently and always tells me about his garlic (which he got from me) that has won several blue ribbons at the county
Karen Geiser demonstrates our Dazey Butter Churn, which she uses to make butter with cream from her family’s Jersey cow.
This week there were many good conversations over edible weeds – around the table were an herbalist from New Mexico and a family from West Virginia who really knew their plants.
An interesting couple from Virginia who has lived off grid for many years visited the store to finally buy the luxury of a gas refrigerator – mainly to have ice. It’s hard to believe they could live without a fridge for so long, and they described how they can their butter.
This week a lady said she was there from Robinson, IL because she heard me speak at the Master Gardener conference over a year ago. She had no idea she would run into me, and we had a good laugh together as she told me about the things she grew because I recommended them (like mouse melons). I helped her figure out other places to hit for her first adventure in Amish country. She said some of her girlfriends have visited Lehman’s after the conference, too.
Stop by Lehman’s on Thursdays, from April through early November to visit Karen and learn from her wealth of hands-on knowledge.
When folks hear I work from my home and I’m a homesteader, they make some pretty lofty assumptions when it comes to my dinner table. It is true that I am lucky and blessed
The Double Dutch Oven gives you two great cast iron pans in one! It’s a five-quart dutch oven with extra deep lid which can be used as a skillet. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron.
to have good food, good animals, and good people all around me and that makes for some amazing homegrown fare. However, as a single woman running a farm by herself, time isn’t always available to make sure everything is basted, brined, and tables are set with cloth napkins. In truth, some days are so long and exhausting on the farm that the last thing I want to do is cook. And that is why I am grateful for the amazing Dutch Oven.
The design has not changed in centuries, and why should it? A cast-iron dutch oven is all you need to create one-pot meals like chicken and biscuits or savory stews. During our harsh upstate winters, and even now in springtime, Cold Antler Farm depends on its dutch ovens more than ever. They are the original crock pot, the ideal slow cooker, and easy to care for while lasting forever. When people new to farm cooking ask me what they should get, I tell them before they even order a stove they should get a cast-iron skillet and dutch oven, because that is the original homesteader’s grill and oven.
The most basic chicken dinner this farm does happens in a cast-iron dutch oven. All that is needed is a defrosted whole chicken (small enough to fit inside the oven), some olive oil, chicken rub, and root vegetables of your choice. Around here everyone grows potatoes, parsnips, carrots and rutabagas: all make fine bottom veggies for your meal! I strongly encourage you to chop fresh kale as well, as there is no better way to enjoy kale than oiled under a chicken! I promise!
I roughly chop the carrots, taters, and other vegetables and place them in a pile, half filling the cast-iron container. (If you don’t have a dutch oven, you can do the same with a deep skillet.). All vegetables get a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of chicken-rub herbs and with my two clean hands I make sure all get a good coating of oil and herb. Once that is done, the bird is set on top. The root vegetables act as a natural lift for the chicken, letting the hot air circulate all around the bird and the juices and fats to drip onto the vegetables below, which is exactly what you want!
I preheat my oven to 425 and let the bird get a flash roast to brown the skin. This only
We love the combo cooker because it gives you two cast iron pans in one! Now with deeper 3-qt skillet/Dutch oven (3″ deep). Shallow skillet serves as lid or griddle.
lasts about fifteen minutes and then the temperature is lowered to 350. I let the bird sit in that oven while I do chores, go hunting in the back field, take the horse out for some training or a cart ride. That oven does all the work for you. In about two hours a fat chicken is falling off the bone and you know it is done when you can grab a back drumstick and it falls right off into your hands, separating from the rest of the roasted bird easily. Another test is to make sure that when you pierce the breast the juices that flow out are clear and not red or bloody at all. These are the ways homesteaders checked their birds before every kitchen had thermometers and cooking shows selling the latest electronic gadgets. They are good tips to know!
This all may sound involved and complicated, but it isn’t. Try it a few weekends and before you know it, it’ll take you less than five minutes to chop your vegetables, oil them, and place a bird on top. Then the oven does all the work for you! Easy.
So get some cast iron, get a fat farm chicken, and dice up those potatoes, folks, because after you start roasting birds in cast iron at home you’ll never go back to any other way. And the best part? Once the meal is done and everyone has had a good helping of meat and vegetables you can add a few cups of chicken stock and some salt and butter and set it on the stovetop to heat up into a fine stew. Meals need to stretch around here as long as a rooster’s tail feather. And to have a tool you can roast in, then set the same meal on the stovetop and make a hearty stew in is a farmer’s blessing.
Happy Spring to you all, and may it be filled with many fine meals!