From Stay-at-Home Mom to Hobby Farmer
If you asked me 20 years ago, when I was in college, what I would be doing 20 years in the future, farming was the last thing I would have said. About that time I met my husband, and he lived on the edge of a pick-your-own farm in New York’s Hudson Valley. We had the run of the place and took walks there all the time. When we got married, we bought his family home and lived there for a couple of years until we longed for property of our own. So we looked all around New York and found an old dairy farm in Central New York. It had the big house we wanted for our growing family. It also had rubble left from a burned-down dairy barn, a useless silo and lots of junk. Oh my, the junk! Seven years later this little hobby farm is a work in progress raising three boys, lots of chickens, ducks, turkeys, goats and more animals to come. I hope to share my adventures and stories of my crazy farm life and hope others can learn from my mistakes.
Our chicken coop when it was first built in 2011.
I never really pictured myself as a stay-at-home mom, but I settled into this life of cooking, cleaning, running the kids to sports and play dates, so why not add some animals to the mix. It was easy to start with chickens. Our local handyman, AKA my dad, built our chicken coop. Free-range chickens were so fun with little kids. My oldest, Sean, we called the chicken whisperer. He could and still can go up to any of the chickens and pick them right up. I have to chase them around to catch one. The bad part about letting the chickens run free is that they like to dust bath in my flower bed, they poop everywhere, eat my flowers, get into the garden, and go in the road. We lost several chickens to cars driving too fast down our country road. They would come running every time the door opened and we yelled, “Here chickie chickie.” They knew a treat was coming. Chickens are little garbage disposals. They love all kinds of leftovers and kitchen scraps.
Our rooster, Rooster Cogburn
Our first rooster was pretty to look at and got lots of attention especially from my oldest son. It happened that it wasn’t always good attention. He liked to yell and see if the rooster would chase him, big fun. Well, Rooster Cogburn, as he was named, turned a little mean. Our yard was under control of the rooster. Every time I would go outside I would have to see where he was, and we all got used to carrying sticks, brooms, rakes, whatever it took to keep ourselves safe from the mean old rooster. If you have never dealt with a mean rooster, they like to jump at you with their feet. I have a nice scar on my leg to prove it.
I was a mother defending her young. Rooster Cogburn decided he was going to jump on my little one who was only about 2 at the time. Well, I hauled off and kicked this rooster, or so I tried. I would kick and he would jump, I kept missing him over and over. I was getting so mad and then he got me. My husband loved that rooster but it was time to take back our yard. He took care of the situation when the kids were not around. It had to be done. We have a beautiful picture of the rooster hanging in the dining room to remind us of our time together.
So many stories, so little time. I can’t wait to share more of my adventures with the Capper’s Farmer readers. Since living in the country, I have learned a lot about cooking, baking and canning. I have stories about the first time we butchered chickens, raising our first turkeys and ducks and the many adventures of goats.
Our animals on Conley Farm
The Trick to Peeling Fresh Hard Boiled Eggs
If you have chickens or buy fresh eggs from your local farmer, you know how tricky it can be to peel hard boiled eggs that are fresh. I learned a trick that works every time just in time for Easter.
Orange Cranberry Zucchini Chocolate Chip Bread
This delicious bread is a variation on a basic zucchini bread recipe.
Butchering Homegrown Chickens
Our family takes a weekend to butcher our grassfed chickens and put food into our freezer.