Archive for the ‘Farm Life’ Category

Preserving the Harvest – Canning!

So I wanted a garden this spring.  Not just a few plants out behind the house, but a real garden with beds and significant plantings of vegetables and fruits.  And though it’s no acre garden, it’s pretty big for a first year gardener.  I have enjoyed planting the seeds, watching them grow, keeping them watered, and now we enjoy the harvest.

However, though I may have slightly underestimated the time input needed to get the garden going this spring, I really didn’t know how much time it would take to preserve the food this summer.  I’ve been canning about once a week this month.  Canning is one of those things that by the directions seems like it should only take about 2 hours.  Usually it takes me the better part of an evening, maybe the late afternoon as well.  So far I have a good batch of carrots, a batch of sweet pickles, and a batch of dill pickles.  If I could can cantaloupe, I’d have a ton of that.  Is there ANY way to preserve cantaloupe?  It’s all ripening at once! I’m about ready to do a batch of tomatoes, but really need to see a bunch of them ripen at one time

Sweet Pickles

to get many jars of them, they cook down so much.  I also blanched and froze 10 heads of broccoli, shredded and froze 6 zucchini, and made another 6 into 3 loaves of zucchini bread.  Also, we are grinding our own grain this month with the addition of a grain grinder attachment for the Kitchenaid.  The flour and the bread it makes are amazing!  My zucchini bread was made with organic freshly ground locally sourced white winter wheat, home grown organic zucchini, home grown free range chicken eggs, and locally sourced honey.  It is gooood stuff, and good for you!

So, it’s a bit of a time commitment to preserve the harvest this summer, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.  In fact I have 25 lbs of peaches coming next week from the Oklahoma Food Coop, as well as bushels of pears about to ripen on my sister’s 3 huge pear trees.  Should be a delicious fall and winter we have after all this laying by!

Enjoy the fresh fruit and vegetables of summer, and take a few Saturdays to preserve some of it for the fall.  You’ll be glad you did!













150 lbs of chicken feed this evening, one scoop at a time…


This past winter during cotton harvest I wrote a poem called The Farmer and The Farmer’s Wife.  I will share it below, and then share my reason for sharing it.  It seems today that perhaps it needs to be updated just a bit.

The hazy crescent moon heralds the harvest of fall crops and a familiar rhythm of life apart and yet together. 

The farmer labors in his fields, building the family’s way, walking the steps of his father, looking to the sky with thanks, and fullness of heart and weariness.

The farmer’s wife labors at her kitchen sink, building the family’s way, walking in the steps of her mother, looking to the sky with thanks and fullness of heart and weariness. 

They steal a warm hug every morning and send with each other words of strength.

He smiles when he sees her nearing the field with warm food, made just to his liking. 

She smiles when he opens the lid and heartily enjoys the work of her hands. 

He walks back to his machine proud of his work and holds his chest just a bit higher with his wife’s gaze upon him, her wave and smile are strength for the evening. 

When the work is done and the ground lays bare waiting and resting from its great toil, the farmer and the farmer’s wife sit outside and rest together, looking to the sky with thanks and fullness of heart and hope for the spring to come

when dirt shall be turned and seeds shall be spread across this great land and they shall smile together again

and share a plate together again in the fields with thanks and fullness of heart,

with her admiring his great labor and him finding strength in her smile and her gaze

and in the One who makes the soil and the seed and the water, somehow transforming them into food and cloth,

the family’s way, and a depth of meaning in life that far exceeds a simple square of seeds and the sweat on his brow and the food and cloth they make.

The haze of the crescent moon and the fog on the morning crops somehow transforms the seeds and the soil

and the farmer and the farmer’s wife

all together.                                                           ~Lacy Haugan, harvest 2011


So that was my poetic outpouring one full of heart harvest eve.  It’s true, there are many days and evenings like the ones described in this poem.  But this poem was written during the winter, when so far on our farm, all other things have come to a close.  No garden.  No broilers.  No brooder full of baby chicks.  Just cotton, quietly sitting in the field, waiting patiently to be gathered in the harvest.  For the farmer’s wife, the rest of life seems to slow down as the weather cools.  Children come indoors, yards take care of themselves, gardens sleep, and the farmer’s wife enjoys baking corn bread and a pot full of hot beef stew to take to the farmer.

Baby chicks must be monitored throughout the day. Not too cold, not too hot, adequate feed and water, all tucked in nice and cozy in the brooder.

But, during spring, oh during spring… how can I describe my first spring as a farmer’s wife who has a farmyard full of animals?

I don’t think that I have the inspiration tonight to bring that peaceful touch to it like I did for the harvest time poem.  Where as harvest rings more of waiting for the farmer to come home, the greatest extra chore being taking out the meal to the field, during spring planting time there is no waiting for the farmer to come home.  I’m too tired to wait.  I don’t know when he’s going to come home, and it doesn’t matter too much because I’m too tired to talk, and so is he.  When the farmer is gone during the spring, my day feels a lot less like buttery corn bread and hot beef stew, and a lot more like…

-driving the truck and trailer to the feed mill or farm store to pick up tons of feed and supplies routinely throughout the spring
-checking and filling empty animal water buckets up during the day
-moving chickens from brooder to field pens every week – the most exhausting job on the farm so far
-making dinner and taking it to the farmer in the field

My new ride quite a few times each week.

-putting the fussy youngest child to bed early after a long drive back from the field
-racing the sun to get the animals fed before dark
-groaning when I realize there is no more feed left in the bin
-driving down to the barn to lug 50 lb bags of feed into my minivan (I might or might not need a truck.  Inside I still want a prius.  🙂
-scooping out 150 lbs of feed one scoop at a time into 30 different feeders
-swatting the gnats, mosquitoes, and flies from my beaten up shins over and over, wishing I had taken the time to put jeans on
-looking to the sky and thanking God for the help of my 8 year old son, who is filling the 13+ water buckets one at a time
-rushing to duck tape the brooder tarp window flaps closed before the rain comes tonight
-checking each water bucket and feeder one last time before heading back inside, the sun has beaten us and it is already dark
-cleaning up dinner and kissing my son on the head as he reads before bed
-putting away the big batch of fresh bread loaves I made before dinner, some to the freezer
-changing out of my covered in dirt and grime clothes and into some clean comfies

Then I soak my aching muscles in some couch salve, and treat my mind to the art of reading and writing.  Today I wanted to plant zucchini plants and pumpkin plants, I wanted to water my garden and spend some time staking my tomatoes.  It was cool outside today, and the heat will be pressing down on us again in just a few days.  I never made it to the garden, but maybe I will tomorrow.  I have set out an easy meal to cut down on meal prep tomorrow.

I guess all of this to say that though I do at times during the day have somewhat of a semblance of normal, (thankfully the farmer is still doing morning chore time), the afternoons and evenings have taken on a form of their own with the farmer completely otherwise engaged (on the tractor planting).   My oldest child has risen to the occasion and for the most part is really helping me bare the burden of taking care of the home and farmyard on our own.  My youngest has her good moments, but on the whole does not much enjoy mommy being unavailable during the evening.  I am not sure yet how I am doing with it.  At moments I feel like my oldest, proud to have taken care of the farmyard on our own.  Other times I feel more like my youngest, irritated that I am committed to giving my evening hours to these animals when I have other needs that are waiting on me (my children, the kitchen, and simply my desire to slow down after dinner instead of rev up for chores).  I am sure that my thoughts and emotions here are simply part of the process of becoming not the farmer’s wife whojust takes dinner to the farmer, but instead, the farmer’s wife who takes on the chores of the farmer when he is away.  It’s a big job, and I don’t think I was quite ready for it.  But hey, the end of planting season is in sight, and I have almost made it through.  And then the end of chicken season will come into view and life will slow down for a while as we ease into fall.  Seasons are the fabric of life on the farm, and this season is SPRING.  No mistaking it.

~the farmer’s wife


An Ugly Day in the Garden

Tomorrow is 9 weeks that we have lived in our new home here at the Haugan rancho.  And today I have reached my limit on clutter.  CLUTTER!!!  Piles here, piles there, piles everywhere.  Okay, not everywhere – but I am really ready for some order around here.  So, I wrote out a list, room by room, of the things I’d like to finish or reorganize.  There are about 30 things to do on the list, some of them small and some of them large.  I bet most of the small ones get done first.  But even if they do, if I do just one thing per day I will be much more settled in here just a month from now.  Knowing myself better than that, I bet it won’t take quite that long.  But seeing it on the page makes it feel much more doable if I just pace myself, one thing at a time.  Tonight I unpacked the children’s medicine into a bin and organized it, and gave it a new home in a cabinet.  I also threw out a few unneeded or old items.  That’s the beauty of organizing – in the process you also simplify.  Less is more.

In other news, the wheat crop in the field around us is gorgeous this year.  It is tall and strong and waves like the ocean when the wind blows.  We are just weeks away from harvesting it and I think I will miss the pretty green wheat.  For a while it will be yellow stubble, and then the 20 acres around us will be put into grass for pasture, and the rest of the field will be sesame!  A brand new crop for us this year, we’re trying a few fields of sesame.  I’ve never seen a sesame, so I am looking forward to watching it grow.

It was bound to happen – I do live in a field.  You guessed it, I found a snake.  Not the farmer, but I found it.  I was happily shoveling away in my wood chips pile, mulching my newly planted strawberries.  And without warning, there the ugly black thing was in the pile.  Of course, I ran and screamed for the farmer.  Luckily, he was home.  He came out and dug through the pile until he found it and did what had to be done with any such enemy.  Luckily I was out of town for a few days after that.  It sort of gave me time to air out after such an incident in my garden.  With that ugly incident, bug trouble in the garden, and the new elephant mosquitoes that are attacking me in the cool of the evening, I am about to lose my desire to be in the garden.  A sad sad thing.  So tonight I got back on the proverbial horse and dug my shovel into the wood chips again, hoed some weeds from the raspberry plants, and mulched away.  No ugly sightings this time, though I did finally go inside after the mosquitoes got larger than quarters.  Not sure I will have the brevity to mulch when the farmer isn’t home anytime soon.  I used up my small pile tonight and will have to have a new pile dumped over by my garden.  It will be a few feet deep at least.  Eeeekkkk…..  The farmer really loves mulching, I’m just sure he’s been wishing I’d let him help me with that. 

I haven’t posted many pictures of my garden, and the truth is that I am such a novice at this that I probably won’t unless I have some great successes.  In early spring the seedlings sprouting and growing are always exciting and such a miracle to enjoy.  But then the hard work of fighting off a sky full of hungry bugs begins, and I, unwilling to use chemicals, feel so helpless.  I’m going to try Neem, maybe order some lacewings or ladybugs – but I don’t feel to hopeful.  It seems no matter how exciting reading gardening books is in March, horticulture is a science that will take much perseverance to learn.

Here’s to the death of every offending bug and snake in the surrounding 20 mile area. 


Raising Chickens

I desire to raise more of my family’s food.  Much more of it.  In fact, I would like to raise almost all of it if ever I could.  I would LOVE to have a larder packed full of row after row of home-grown, home-preserved, organic and super-healthy sustenance.  We have expanded our garden quite a bit this year, though it is still a far cry from producing a year’s worth of vegetables and fruit for a family.  We’ll get there, step by step.

Day Old Chicks in the Brooder.  We keep the tops of the feeders open the first day or two because amazingly they are small enough to get stuck in there.  ;)

Day Old Chicks in the Brooder. We keep the tops of the feeders open the first day or two because amazingly they are small enough to get stuck in there. 😉

One of the main ways we are growing our own food right now is by raising chickens.  Every day the little ones go out to gather the eggs… like fresh manna every morning at our house.  I don’t think the wonder of those eggs appearing out there every morning will ever wear off.  We love our laying hens, and we love their eggs.  We also raised our first batch of meat chickens last fall.  It went fairly well for a first run and has been good eats for us all through the winter and spring.  We are expanding our chicken farm this year to provide free-range chicken and eggs not only for our family but for many families.  We will be selling both chicken and eggs in a few months, and right now we are in the thick of chick season.

The farmer has spent the last month rebuilding a planter and a disk, as planting season will be upon us in a matter of days now.  He drug that disk through the fields yesterday evening and all day today, and crashed into bed this evening – 14 hours bumping through the field can really take its toll.  He has worked very hard this month, and I am really proud of him.  I’m not sure how he knows how to rebuild a planter or a disk, or set up the guidance system and 2 other computers that go in the tractor, but I am really thankful that he does.  But back to my original thought path – we are up to our necks in chickens around here!

Right now we have 160 almost 2 month old pullets out there, who will begin laying 50-60 dozen eggs a week in a few months.  We have 250 broilers (meat birds) who just got moved out of the brooder, about 2 1/2 weeks old.  We have another 225 3-day-old chicks in the brooder, cute as can be.  We have 3 more batches just like that coming in the next 3 weeks.  At the height of chick season in about 3 weeks we will have 1150 broilers and 160 pullets, as well as the miscellaneous rabbits, roosters, turkeys, and our own family laying flock.  By that time, I am hoping that the farmer will have his crops planted…or at least be getting close.

My Feed Run Today

Simultaneously starting two businesses at once is a big job for any couple.  There is much to be done.  I am so glad that my body has held up physically, as I am not the strongest of stock.  I have picked up chickens from the post office, gotten them settled into their brooder, restocked the brooder with wood chips, restocked food and water daily, washed out waterers, and yesterday moved 250 broilers out to a chicken tractor in a scorching spring heat wave (with the help of my son).  Today I got to pick up 2 tons of chicken feed at the coop, cruise through KFC on my way back with some lunch, and catch escaped chickens from their pen.  I have worked the ground by hand and planted my garden almost entirely myself.  And I say this because I am so thankful for the strength and stamina to work, with my body and my hands, with God’s creation outside my doorstep each day.  What a privilege, what a joy.

And tomorrow I get to wake up and do it all over again… 🙂  Wohoo!




The new boots…

I know all of you have been sitting on the edges of your seats waiting to see what boots I would find since I posted a while back that my tennis shoes aren’t cutting it.  Well, I found them when I wasn’t looking.  Isn’t that how it always happens?  I did look a few times before.  I tried on some awesome looking cowgirl boots that were way too fancy to get dirty.  I may still come back to those, but they didn’t really seem to fit my purpose – which is doing chores, working in the garden, feeding the animals, and just general romping through the pasture with the family (a favorite pass time when it’s warm).  🙂

We were on vacation last week and decided to go to a huge crafts fair for the morning.  We did, and I didn’t buy anything crafty.  My only purchase?  BOOTS!  Check out these AMERICAN MADE, MICROFIBER LINED (no sweat), WATER AND MUD PROOF, EXTRA SUPPORTIVE INSOLE, GOOD LOOKIN’ BOOTS!

~Sloggers~ That's right, I'm gonna be sloggin through the mud in these babies.

If you have GOT to have a pair of these, check craft fairs, or the Slogger Store online.  They were only $40!  Much cheaper than a cowgirl boot.  Besides that, I’m not a cowgirl, I’m a homesteader.

Tis the season for planting seeds indoors!  Wohoo!  The time has come to get my hands in the dirt, even just a little!  I am all set and ready to fill my seedling pots with luscious black soil, and happily bury one tiny miracle capsule into each pot.  That’s what seeds are to me – tiny miracle capsules… out of something the size of one tiny morsel comes armloads of life-giving food.  It’s a miracle.  And a beautiful expression of God’s faithfulness and graciousness to us.  And I can’t wait to watch them grow!  I think I’ll do two sessions later today: one planting with the kids, and one alone so I can fully enjoy the task.  Perfect.

If you haven’t seen the Back to Eden movie about gardening and you have even the slightest inkling of a desire to garden, you should watch it.  This should change the way we garden, increase our ability to “find time” to do it, and help those of us who want to raise a bigger garden and handle the work load.  It’s beautiful to see someone so clearly understand the connection between God and agricultural work, and his system is amazing.  Love it.

I’d like to encourage you to take a minute to step out into nature and really drink in its beauty, to purposefully set aside some time to just bask for a bit.  It’s like water to the soul.  Everything that He has made is so good, so beautiful and perfect.  This winter the ducks and geese have been absolutely breathtaking.  I find myself rolling down the window and pulling over to the side of the road to watch them fly by and hear them squawk.  There are literally thousands of them here this winter, and they love to rest in the fields next to our house.  🙂  Yay.  The sunsets have been equally as enthralling, a year-round joy I will never tire of.  I also don’t think I will ever loose my love for the fresh eggs that my children bring into me daily from the hens.  It’s like a gift every morning, a bountiful provision from the Creator.  So break away from your usual indoors winter routine, and find a place to sit outside, or even in your car outside if its really cold, and just reflect on the beauty of nature.

Next time I post, perhaps I will have beautiful little seed sprouts to share!


Our first home grown eggs!

This week we discovered that 5 hens that we bought from a friend who moved have begun laying eggs!  They had laid before they were moved here, and must have just been settling in for a few weeks in their new home.  We were so surprised to find the eggs!  So now we add gathering and cleaning eggs to our current chore list.  🙂  And we add breakfast casserole to the dinner menu.  If you happen to be local and would like to buy some eggs, let me know.  $3/dozen

Our first home-grown gathered eggs!

Keith and I spent the weekend at a conference about sustainable agriculture; its called SSAWG or Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group.  We spent 12 hours round trip driving, talking, and planning our upcoming year, and 2 days attending workshops by the names of “Increasing the Success of Young Farmers”, “Systems of Success With Poultry, Eggs, and Livestock”, and many others.  We met other farmers from Oklahoma who are farming organic or all natural, and we met people who had many resources to offer us in our journey.

This workshop was on creating healthy pastures without chemicals. Great stuff!

There was really a great mix of people there – the young Prius-driving vegetarians who are innovating new venues in the good food movement, sitting side by side with the suspender-wearing, southern-drawl talking old time farmers who are pairing their lifetime of knowledge with a new market and new opportunities.  If I had to guess which one had the majority, I might guess the younger crowd… but I may be wrong.  I was really impressed with how many of the older generation were there, learning the new ways, pioneering in their area as men and women with the authority that comes only with age.

We met some very inspiring people who are really leading the way in sustainable farming in the south.  We met a family who raises organic tilapia, pastured poultry, and 8 acres (!!!) of vegetables on their Louisiana farm.  Check them out at  We met a young couple with a baby, who are raising 9,000 chickens each year, as well as lots of grass-fed cattle and pigs.  We hope to visit their operation over at Falling Sky Farm in Arkansas later this year.  We met with the organic certification specialist for Oklahoma and learned he lives quite near by and will be a great resource for us should we decide to pursue certification down the road.  There were many other great connections and resources we learned about, and we have a box full of materials to follow up on in the months after the conference.  I would say we certainly got our money’s worth out of the conference, but more than that, it was a great use of our time (we learned tons!), a real boost for the wind in our sails, and a great time to dream and plan our future farm.  I definitely hope we can go again next year and maybe take a few people along with us.  We might have to drive separately though.  It’s rare to get 12 hours of uninterrupted talking time to dream and plan together. 😉

Enjoying the conference and taking a snapshot break!

Getting a new business off the ground is no easy task.  There is a huge learning curve for every aspect.  There’s so much to learn about production of poultry, eggs, and other animals.  There are many enterprises to consider when planning a small farm, and each must be evaluated as to whether or not it is a good fit for you and your farm.   Then there are the issues of being cost efficient in your production, ensuring good business practices and financial practices in your business, as well as marketing and selling your products.  So though we must consider all of these things in building a good plan for our farm, we also are taking one baby step at a time… this week, build a turkey shelter to be moved to our new location, locate cheap billboard tarps to be used on new chicken shelters, get into an egg routine and figure out what we are going to do with 14 dozen eggs a week when all these girls start gettin’ their groove on, and compile resources from the conference into a manageable pile for future use.  And oh yeah, get our mobile home moved from Texas to the new homestead site, complete about a hundred tasks that go along with moving, teach Mrs. Haugan’s class of one, write up and implement a set of family ways to help guide our children, research and compare doctor’s fees in the area for optomatrists and family doctors… a few of these tasks may have to be carried over into next week.  😉  Maybe.  … breath deep…baby steps…

Redeeming the Dirt – “Lifestyle Entreprenuership”

What a joy it was to see the temperatures rise above 60F today!  Though it was very muddy, we just pulled on our boots and enjoyed being outdoors today for the first time in weeks.  Praise God.  It really was enjoyable.  We saw hundreds of ducks flying south for the winter pass over our heads, we watched our chickens and turkeys being chickenish and turkeyish, the kids danced and ran free, we looked over our land to survey it for the upcoming chicken season, we marked out our new garden plot and finally, Keith rototilled our new garden plot!  Woohoo!!! It was a blast!  We are going to plant it with some wheat as a cover crop over the winter for two purposes:  one, to choke out the weeds with the crop, and two, when we turn it under in the spring it will provide “green manure” or extra nutrients and fertility to the soil.  It will be fun to watch the wheat grow up in the back yard.  😉

She was enjoying being outside, for sure!




We are so looking forward to the coming year.  So many things we’ve been working towards this year we will finally get to do with out own two hands next year.  And it’s only a few months away… woohooo!!!  (We actually say that a lot around here).


Country livin' fun!








~Turkeys being turkeys~







I read a blog today and liked it so much I am going to post it in it’s entirety.  Anyone interested in the country life, farming, or even hobby farming will enjoy and appreciate this blog.  This guy’s got some good perspective.

Farming is considered a business today, like any other occupation. And it is. However, several years ago, when my father was encouraging me in entrepreneurship he pointed out that there are two types of entrepreneurship: money-making entrepreneurship and lifestyle entrepreneurship.

Money-making entrepreneurship is what most people think of when they think of entrepreneurship. Basically you come up with a business idea based on whether you think it will be successful at making money, and you start it. Hopefully you will be right and after the business has grown to a certain point you will be able to hire others to run it, or sell it. Then you will be able to afford to live the lifestyle that you want. Basically, the best money-making business is one that provides the most amount of money with the least amount of effort.

Lifestyle entrepreneurship differs from money-making entrepreneurship not necessarily in its goal, but in its means of achieving that goal. Ultimately, the goal of both is the ability to be able to have the type of lifestyle you desire. And whereas money-making entrepreneurship seeks to find a business doing something that you don’t necessarily like in order to be able to afford to do what you like, lifestyle entrepreneurship seeks to find a way to merely make a living doing what you want in the first place.

Because of the time, devotion, care, and work that it takes to farm it doesn’t qualify very well for a money-making business. Too much work for the pay if you would rather be doing something else. However, because of the beautiful work setting, the opportunity to work with your hands, the ability to spend time with family, and the satisfaction you get from growing things, farming makes a great lifestyle that can provide for your needs and the needs of others.

The trouble is that most people today don’t value an agrarian lifestyle. Most Christians don’t value an agrarian lifestyle. So most people wouldn’t farm for the lifestyle, and the only other option would be to farm for the money you need to live another lifestyle. And, again, there are easier ways to make money than farming.

The following, widespread story of the businessman and the fisherman illustrates the principle of agri-lifestyle vs. agri-business.

The Businessman and the Fisherman

The businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The businessman complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied only a little while.

The businessman then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The businessman then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time? The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos; I have a full and busy life, señor.”

The businessman scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and I could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats; eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the processor and eventually open your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City where you would run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But señor, how long will this all take?” To which the businessman replied, “15-20 years.” “But what then, señor?” The businessman laughed and said, “That’s the best part! When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.” “Millions, señor? Then what?” The businessman said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

The fisherman, still smiling, looked up and said, “Isn’t that what I’m doing right now?”

-Author Unknown