Sweet Tea & Busy Bees Collage

Sweet Tea & Busy Bees Collage

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Baby fever: They all want chicks!

Some people say that women get baby fever when their friends are having babies, which I think is true in a lot of cases. This same rule is true for my chickens! Since Gandalf The White decided to go broody and sit on her eggs, 3 other chickens have jumped on the band wagon and want to hatch chicks. Not only do they all want to sit on eggs, 3 of them want to sit on the same nest.

The girls sharing a nest

Somehow they seem to be working it out. They are all sitting on a few eggs and co-existing in the same nest space. Maybe they decided they want their chicks to be best friends.

Goldie decided she wants the box for herself. She is VERY protective of her eggs.
Miss Goldie sitting on her eggs. She hasn't left the box in 3 days

 I decided I needed to see what was going on under those chickens so I candled the eggs. Candling the eggs is holding a light up to the egg to see if there is a developing chick inside.

Candling an egg

The dark part of the egg is the developing chick and the lighter part is the space left in the egg. I was so excited to see that the chicks are growing! Hopefully in a few days we will have some new guys and gals to add to the flock.

Check back in a few days to see if our little chicks hatch.

From the farm kitchen: Apple chips

I love apple chips. I could eat bags of these things. I was so happy to find out how easy they are to make at home. You can eat them totally guilt free and it's also a great snack for the kids!

Apple Chips

* Apples
* Cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
2. Slice apples into thin slices. I used a mandolin which created uniform slices but slicing thinly with a knife would work well too. 
3. Place the apple slices on a parchment lined paper and sprinkle with cinnamon.Use as much or as little cinnamon as you like.

4. Bake the apple slices for 1.5 hours and then turn the slices over.
5. Bake for an additional 2.5-3 hours.
6. Enjoy your chips! 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

There's a hen in my sink!

Goldie in her chicken spa bath

Most of the time things on our little farm are peaceful and in order, but sometimes not so much. Sometimes animals get sick. Last night I had a hen in the sink. Most people have chicken in their kitchen on their dinner tables. I have a squawking, flapping wet chicken in my sink. I suspected that this little girl, Goldie, was egg  bound, which means she had an egg stuck. A warm soak can help remedy the situation and ease the egg out. So I brought her inside and created a little chicken spa day. We still haven't seen an egg but she seems to be doing much better.

Meanwhile.... I also have a chick in the dining room in our makeshift chicken hospital. On a nightly chicken check I picked up one of my girls to give her a snuggle and noticed she had a beak injury. The top half of her beak was missing!

"Beaky" the night we discovered her injury

We have been nursing this little girl back to health for a few days now and she is doing 110% better! She has learned to eat despite her missing beak. I am sure she will be happy to return to her friends soon.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

'Twas The Night Before Alpacas

‘Twas the night before alpacas and all ‘round the farm preparations have been made so there would be no alarm.

The fence has been pulled across the posts with care
In hopes that alpacas soon will be there.

The chickens and ducks were snug in their sheds awaiting their new snugly furry friends.

With the hubby worn out from building the barn
We both settled down until we would hear the alarm

When deep in our dreams worries arose
we both woke up thinking do we need to run back to Lowes!?

Away to the barn we flew like a flash
to double check our work and pick up the trash

When what to our wondering eyes should appear but a perfectly set up barn complete with alpaca chandelier.

So... we await the arrival of our alpacas in the morning. Stay tuned as we start our great alpaca adventure!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Agents: Earth Day activities

Earth Agents!

When I was little I was sure I would single highhandedly save the earth. My neighbor/best friend and I even started The Save The Earth Club. It was official. We has sashes and patches. So naturally every year we celebrate Earth Day in a big way. This year the kids were Earth Agents, like secret agents learning about the planet.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle:

Recycled earth crayons:

Broken blue and green cryaons
mini cupcake wrappers
Mini cupcake tin

1. Place the mini cupcake wrappers into the tin.
2. Fill each wrapper with broken pieces of blue and green crayons.
3. Bake crayons in a 200 degree oven for 25 minutes.
4. Let crayons completely cool before removing them from their wrappers.     

We learned about recycling by making recycled earth crayons. We used the globe to see how the earth is made of water and land. 
Batman getting ready to make recycled crayons 

"Strawberry shortcake" coloring with her recycled earth crayon

Nature Scavenger hunt:

I also took my little secret agents on a nature scavenger hunt. They looked for different colored flowers, animals, insects etc. "Batman" used his kid digital camera to take pictures of all the things he found on our hunt.
"Batman" found some white flowers

"Batman" chose his favorite tree to do a bark rubbing

We finished the day off with an earth fruit pizza. It was Delish!

What did you do for Earth Day? Leave a comment, we would love to hear how your family celebrates.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Farm Life: Boots Required

We did not plan on having a farm, in fact I am one of the most non-farm people you might meet...well ya know, until recently. Now that we have our animals and are adding to our little farm bit by bit, I wouldn't have it any other way. Almost everyday someone asks me; why? Simplicity, that's why. No cell phone is going to feed my chickens, and there is no app to hose down the alpacas when they get hot. You actually have to go outside and spend time with the animals.

It takes a family to raise a farm, including a mini farm. When livestock is involved, so is everyone in the house, even "Strawberry Shortcake." This forces us to come together as a family and spend quality time together.

"Strawberry Shortcake" helping with the eggs

Everyday we have to go out together and get the eggs from the ducks and chickens. It's time we have scheduled everyday to get outside and notice nature and notice each other. I have always had a love for the past. Maybe that explains why I have no smartphone, I need to disconnect. The farm is a way for the family to disconnect together.

Picking up the morning eggs

We are starting to become accustomed to our new farming lifestyle like it has been a part of us forever. I still need to remind friends when they come over that if they want to go into the barn, boots are required!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Resurrection Rolls: With an Easter Story

To continue learning about Easter I decided to try making Resurrection Rolls. These rolls are a fabulous Easter lesson and involves eating a delicious treat. The best part is when the kids bite into the roll and find that Jesus, the marshmallow, isn't there! This is our first time making these but I can't wait to make it a tradition!

We had some fun with this activity and incorporated some dramatic play. We labeled the oven as the tomb that we would put Jesus into.

"Batman" had a great time helping make each roll. I included the story that we talked about as we were making each roll at the bottom of this post.

Now things got really great. " Batman" was guarding the tomb while the rolls were cooking. He even tried to make me attempt to break into the tomb in which he promptly used his sword to avert me.

My little soldier guarding the tomb
We go big or go home around here. For Palm Sunday we were galloping down the hallway with palms shouting Hosanna! So a soldier at the tomb is totally normal, have fun with it!


* 1 can of crescent rolls
* One marshmallow for each roll
* 2 TBS melted butter
* 2 TBS sugar
* 1 tsp. cinnamon


1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Unroll your crescent rolls and lay each roll out on a cookie sheet.
3. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl, this will be used for dipping.
4. Roll the marshmallow in butter and then in the cinnamon, sugar mixture.
5. Place the coated marshmallow in the middle of the crescent roll and roll the marshmallow up in the crescent roll making sure to pinch any seams so the marshmallow doesn't leak out.
6. Roll the marshmallow wrapped in crescent in the cinnamon, sugar mixture to coat the outside of the roll and place on the cookie sheet.
7. Repeat for each crescent roll.
8. Bake for 13-15 minutes.
9. Bite into your roll and see that Jesus has risen!

Resurrection Roll story:
Resurrection Roll story explanation:

Easter gardens

Today in our resurrection eggs we opened the egg about Jesus praying in the garden. I decided that we should add an Easter garden to our regular garden to remind us about Easter all the time. The kids are always loving to dig in the dirt so they were into this idea. I have seen these garden ideas in church and online. I will share with you how we made ours. Adapt yours to fit your family!

Our Easter Garden


* Pot or container
* Cup or a smaller pot for the tomb
* A large rock to cover the tomb
* 2 sticks to make a cross
* Other small stones to create a path to the tomb


There are no specific order of steps for this project. Just let the kids get in there and start creating, with guidance of course.

First we searched for the perfect sticks for our cross.

Next "Batman" and " Strawberry Shortcake" filled the pot up with dirt and added our tomb.

"Batman" then placed the cross behind the tomb in the special spot that he picked out.
When we were finished, "Batman" thought we needed to add a Jesus. We searched for the perfect Jesus and settled on a Star Wars action figure.
Jesus in the tomb
To finish the garden off we put the rock over the tomb. I will move the rock Easter morning and we will talk about what happened to Jesus.
The stone has been rolled over the tomb!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rice Krispie bird's nests

With Easter only a few days away, spring in the air and our little mama chicken sitting on eggs, today we made rice krispie bird's nests! Everyone loves rice krispie treats and they are even better in the shape of a nest!

Rice Krispie Bird's Nests


1/4 cup butter

4 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

1 tsp. vanilla extract

5 cups Rice Krispie cereal

Cooking spray


1. Add the butter to a large pan and melt slowly.
2. Once the butter is melted, add the mini marshmallows and stir occasionally until all marshmallows are melted.
3. Add the vanilla extract and stir thoroughly into the marshmallow butter mixture.
4. Stir in the cereal and stir to combine.
5. Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray.
6. Press 1/4 cup of the Krispie mixture into each muffin and use a spoon to to put an indent into the top of each nest.

7. Add eggs or marshmallow peeps to finish off your nest.


Eggcellent day

Since we have been spending so much time checking on our little mama chicken sitting on her eggs, I decided we should do some activities today involving nests and eggs.

Building number sense with eggs:

" Batman" and I have been working on one to one correspondence with his counting as well as number recognition. I found some great bird's nests on clearance at AC Moore and picked them up because they were just too good to pass up! I set up the bird's nests with numbers next to each nest and a bowl of mini robin's eggs to sort. 

"Batman" counting out his eggs
After "Batman" did his counting in order, I switched all the numbers so he wasn't able to just count them off in order. We also practiced adding and taking away eggs and discussing the new number. He had a great time and of course it didn't hurt that I let him sneak a few eggs. I love this activity because it can be adapted for any age level. Little ones can practice their fine motor skills by simply putting the eggs in the nest and older kids can count by 2's, add, subtract, multiply, the possibilities are endless!

Happy egg counting!

Monday, April 14, 2014

We're expecting... chicks!

We are about to hatch our first chicks here at Yankee Belle Farm. Up until this point I have gotten our chicks from local feed stores and hatcheries. I had planned on incubating some eggs this spring but when my little silkie started sitting on her eggs I decided that I would let the chicks hatch the natural way. Gandalf The White is already such a good little mama. She sits on her eggs diligently only getting up to eat and drink. Stay tuned for the details on this first hatch.

Bruschetta Quiche

With a surplus of eggs I am always looking for new recipes with eggs at the center. I found this incredible recipe at a great blog called Tilly's Nest. I have never actually made a quiche before and this one was so simple and flavorful. My little chef even had a great time helping make this. Pair it with a side salad and you have a fantastic meal!

For the original recipe, go to http://www.tillysnest.com/2014/03/bruschetta-quiche.html.

Bruschetta Quiche from Tilly's Nest


6 Eggs
3/4 cup of milk
1 cup feta cheese with herbs
2 tablespoons of brown mustard
1 cup cherry tomatoes-quartered
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 pie crust
Salt and Pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread out the pie crust in the baking dish. Now spread the mustard (secret ingredient) on top of the pie crust.

In a small bowl, mix together the quartered cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a bit of salt and pepper. Stir well and set it aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Next add the feta cheese and whisk that together. Pour the egg mixture into the dish with the pie crust.

Evenly add the tomato and basil bruschetta to the top of the egg mixture.

Bake in the oven for approximately 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Resurrection Eggs

Easter is just around the corner and we LOVE holidays around here. As much as I love egg dying, bunny crafting and eating lots of marshmallow peeps, I wanted to think of something to do with the kids to keep Jesus at the center of our Easter celebration. After some thinking, talking and internet investigation I found resurrection eggs. I hadn't heard of these before even though I now know they have been around a long time. There are lots of versions out there including ones you can buy. I will share with you our version and how we explore the eggs.


* 1 Egg cartion
* 12 plastic eggs
* Print out from church house clipart: http://www.churchhouseclipart.com/resources/Resurrection%20Eggs%20Colored%20Page.jpg
* Small palm branch
* Small piece of bread
* Silver coin
* Small piece of rope
* Feather
* Thorns
* Purple cloth
* Small cross
* Goldfish
* Cotton ball

I started by numbering my eggs 1-12. I used a great print out I found at Church House Clipart to guide what I was going to put in each egg. I cut out each little picture and put a corresponding item in each of the 12 eggs. There is also a verse that goes with each picture.

The first 6 eggs open with their tangible items

I thought it would be fun to have the kids hunt for these each morning when they get up, one per day until Easter. They hunt around until they each find their special egg for the day. We spend time talking about what is in the egg and reading a bible story from their children's bible. It is a really great way to start the day and a great way to get kids talking and thinking about Jesus at Easter.

"Batman" was pretty proud of himself when he found his first Resurrection Egg!

"Strawberry Shortcake" grabbed her egg and ran!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

For the shear fun of it

We are about to add alpacas to our mini farm and I am so ecstatic I could burst. We have been busy getting things ready around here like building a barn, putting up the fence and gathering the necessary supplies. One of the last preparations that needed to be done before our babies come to live with us was shearing. Ross and I had the privilege to go to Black Tulip Farm Alpacas to help and learn on shearing day. Let me tell you alpaca shearing is an experience and it was a great one! For starters the alpacas start out looking like fuzzy little teddy bears and come out looking so small and dainty.

Alpacas, some have already experienced shearing and some have not.

One of our little guys getting his spring hair cut.

Alpacas have to be shorn yearly in order to keep them cool. Their fiber keeps them extremely warm which becomes problematic when is gets hot outside. Once their fiber is removed it can be made into so many wonderful things! I can't wait to get the fiber from our alpacas spun into yarn. Joe and Austin, who were doing the shearing, were so incredibly gifted in what they were doing. They had shearing down to an exact science. We were so impressed with how in tune they were with the animals and how understanding they were with us, the beginners. We have gone through our first shearing season and we are super excited for our newly shorn alpacas to come live with us!

Fiber from our boys just waiting to be spun into yarn

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Mini-Farm is Born

Let me start this post by saying that my little farm I have created is in by no means a working farm. I have great respect for the farmers that work so the rest of us can eat every day. That being said I thought it only appropriate to name our little piece of land. I guess I should back up and tell you how my family and I got to naming our house.

 It all started with ticks, yes ticks. We got a couple chickens to eat the ticks and it all took off from there. I fell in love with my chickens. They were supposed to live in the yard and eat the ticks end of story. We now have 22 chickens, 4 guineas, 4 ducks and soon to be 3 alpacas. Obviously this was not the end of the story. So that brings me to the farm name. I decided with all of this going on we needed a name for our little mini farm. I introduce to you Yankee Belle Farm. I will keep you updated about all of our farming adventures, and now I feel like we are official because of our awesome sign.