A little mid-winter surprise

Black lambEven the most well thought-out plans can have unexpected outcomes!  My flock consists of pure-bred Black Welsh Mountain sheep.  You can read more about these absolutely delightful sheep on theSheep and Wool tab on the Chengwatana Farm website.   Anyway, I last fall I was fortunate enough to be able to acquire ten ewes from a friend who had to reduce her flock, and I brought them safely home, after a long journey.  My plan was to give these and my other 6 mature ewes to my new Bluefaced Leicester ram, Dougal, on November 15th.  Everything went according to schedule, and I sat back and anticipated my new cross-bred (“mule”) sheep, which would form the basis of a new and separate flock to market as grass-fed lamb.  Imagine my surprise when on February 25th I spied a tiny black lamb out in the snow!  Totally unprepared was I.  As I hurriedly prepared my lambing jugs, heat lamps, bottles, and teats I wondered how this could be — and realized that the ”girls” must have been in the family way before Dougal was able to have his way with them.

I called my friend, whose response was “ugh”.  As nature is wont to do, she sidestepped all my neat plans and somehow a ram lamb   apparently managed to fertilize  a bunch of ewes while my friend’s back was turned.  After the initial shock, I could definitely see the humor in this.  I’m not so sure about Dougal.  At any rate, Dougal’s lambs will be coming at the appointed time in April, when the sun is shining and the grass is beginning to grow.  So, he may have the last Baa! after all.


Chicken Soup

SoupWhy is chicken soup known as a cure for so many ailments? It is because it has a natural ingredient that feeds, repairs, and calms the mucous lining in the small intestine.  This inner lining is an integral part of the nervous system.  It is harmed by many of the features of modern life — food additives, drugs, and parasites.  Chicken soup heals the nerves, improves digestion, reduces allergies, relaxes and gives strength. Hanna Kroeger, Ageless Remedies from Mother’s Kitchen.

Modern medicine has confirmed what folk medicine has handed down for centuries i.e., that meat broth helps prevent and mitigate infectious diseases.  In her book Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon says that, “properly prepared, meat stocks are extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is easy to assimilate.  Acidic wine or vinegar help to draw minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium, and potassium, into the broth. . . . Other ingredients that go into broth are the components of cartilage, which recently have been used with remarkable results in the treatment of cancer and bone disorders, and of collagen, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other ailments.”

Along with conferring many health benefits, rich stocks made from meat, bones, and vegetables add immensely to the flavor of food.  In addition to flavoring soups, rich home-made stocks make sauces both nutritious and delicious.  They add minerals and proteins that make other ingredients more nourishing.  Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions.

This chicken stock is made from whole roosters culled from our laying flock of Barred Rock chickens.  The whole bird is used, in addition to whole organic vegetables, sea salt, herbs, and nori (a sea vegetable).  I pressure can the stock during the winter, when the warmth and humidity is a welcome addition to the kitchen, and use it year ’round for soups, sauces, and gravies.  It’s a far cry from the chemical concoctions that pass for stock on the grocery shelf.