Today’s Peaceful Heart FarmCast is about how we came to live the homestead life and how we decided to create a small artisan cheese business.
- What happened last year, where did I go?
- Peaceful Heart FarmCast
- Updates on the farm and creamery
- Preview of upcoming topics
- Homestead Recipe
What Happened Last Year, Where Did I Go?
First, I want to address what happened last year and where I am at the present time. I was podcasting regularly, twice a month. And even though the recorded podcasts were 45 minutes to an hour, it took more than an entire day to make that happen. Once spring came on in full force, I was overwhelmed with caring for animals and the garden.
There was no time left for anything that did not contribute to furthering of the farm enterprise. That included my podcast hobby. So, I just stopped it and took care of what was in front of me.
I’ve spent the winter catching up and getting better organized. So here I am, back at it again, this time with a better plan for using my hobby as part of the farm business plan. I’ll talk about the topics I plan to cover a little bit later. For my current subscribers, I hope you’ll decide to stay with me, but if not, I appreciate our time together and wish you the best. You have an open invitation to revisit and rejoin anytime.
Peaceful Heart FarmCast
Now I’m pleased to launch the Peaceful Heart FarmCast. I’m excited about what I have lined up for you guys. If you are a regular subscriber, you may have noticed that the intro with the purpose of the podcast has changed.
While I enjoyed talking about the crazy stuff that is going on in the world, it added little to my life goals on the farm. In fact, it is quite removed from my life on the farm. As I mentioned, publishing a podcast takes quite a lot of time and effort and I need to optimize my time. The farm pushes on and waits for no one. You better be ready. I’ll be sharing more stories about what that means as we go forward.
Perhaps you’ve thought of making the rural life happen for you and your family – or perhaps you’re thinking about a homestead in suburban America. I hope to help you with ideas and encouragement. It truly is a fabulous lifestyle, filled with ups and downs, but well worth it.
Or perhaps you don’t want to make that kind of commitment to gardens and animals yourself, but you want to partake of the benefits of what other land and animal caretakers produce. Perhaps you want to learn to cook from scratch or add variety to your current recipes using the great seasonal products you buy at your farmer’s market. That’s great too.
Much of what I will talk about can be done in even the smallest household, the smallest kitchen, no land and animals required. Just a desire to learn how to care for your family with your own two hands. Technology is great. I’m using it right now. But there is something deeply satisfying in creating safe and wholesome food for your family. There is an inner peace that comes from personally crafting the dishes with ingredients you can trust.
That’s why I’m focusing on tradition and traditional techniques that will enhance our lives and bring a deeper fulfillment to everyday life. The way that happens is creating and/or passing on a tradition. That entails knowing the words to convey to bring wisdom or having skill with a particular technique or method of creating an end product, and passing it on. But more importantly, it means knowing why we do it that way and passing that along as well. A tradition can turn into dogma without passing along the reason why it is done that way.
Why did the tradition start? Is it still relevant for you today? If so, we learn it, do it, and pass it on. That is how tradition is built. There is a reason that things were done a certain way. And if circumstances change that require altering a tradition, it is important that changes are thought about deeply and then incorporated as necessary. These are difficult questions. Just because new technology comes along doesn’t mean it will replace a tradition. These are individual choices that you will all make based on your own set of core values. I hope to provide thought provoking ideas to help you with making some of those decisions.
If you love trivia and history, this is going to be both educational and entertaining for you. If you are looking to live the homestead life or already are, I’ll be sharing my day-to-day learning experiences and ideas to help you with working through the long list of tasks, problems and solutions that you will encounter. At the end of each podcast I’ll give an overview and description of a recipe that may become part of your tradition. There will be corresponding download link to the recipe in the show notes.
Updates on the Farm and Creamery
Now I want to better introduce myself, my husband and a little bit about our history of how we came to be farm homesteaders after professional careers in medicine and information technology.
Let’s start with the present time. We have 62 acres in the Blue Ridge mountains. We are building a creamery to make artisan farmstead cheese. Our cheese is handmade using traditional methods. That requires cows. We also have sheep for meat, goats for fiber and donkeys for livestock protection.
We raise a traditional breed of cow. They are Normandes, bred and raised in the Normandy region of France. Normandes are a dual breed cow. That means they provide lots of milk but also make really, really good beef. I’m going to be talking much more about these cows as I talk about our cheese.
That’s our homestead in a nutshell. But how did we get here? Scott spent 20 years as a chiropractor before entering into the electronic medical records IT field. I was an IT professional for just about my entire career. So again, how did we get here?
I know you’re asking because you might want to get here someday as well. And why did we make that decision? I mean, isn’t having a successful career the be-all, end-all of life? Nope. It’s not. Or at least not for us. Our life experiences led us to a desire to get in touch with the land directly. It wasn’t enough to look at the mountains from afar. We needed to connect to the roots of our spirit. We wanted to go outside at night and gaze in awe at the Milky Way.
After years of dreaming, planning, and saving we are here. We watch the birth of animals and are continually amazed at creation. Sure, there is loss and sadness when an animal dies. It happens often in nature, but there is also life and joy.
We began our dream back in 1999 in Western North Carolina. That’s 20 years ago as of this publication. We met, became friends, and started talking about our dream life. We spent hours reading and talking and pouring over articles and books by Joel Salatin. I think he is the gateway for a lot of people. We began to dream our dream out loud with each other and with our friends and family.
But like for most of you, I’m sure, life happens. It was a great dream, but we had to make money to live, right? It takes a lot to make a small farm profitable enough to support a family. So, the dreams were sidelined for a little while – but not forgotten. We kept talking about it. And we kept dreaming about it. We kept planning what we would do. And in 2003 we bought our first piece of land. In 2005 we married and moved onto that land. At this recording, that first purchase was 15 and a half years ago.
During 13 of those years we continued to work for others. We were making really good money. We were determined to make the journey debt-free. We persevered in pretty radical circumstances. Perhaps I’ll talk about that at some point also.
Buying additional land in 2008 set us back in our timeline to be full time homestead farmers, but in January 2016 we made our last payment on the land and in December 2016, we left working for someone else in the rearview mirrors.
We Made It
From 2003 to 2016 is 13 years. I know a lot of you plan to just sell the house in the city and move to the country and make a living off the land. And maybe you will. Maybe you’re one of those that risks it all and just dives in. You’ve got that entrepreneurial spirit strong and you go for it. Not for us. We took the longer road.
Our priority was to be able to enjoy the life. We wanted to live without the threat of adverse weather or disease derailing our business plan. When the loan comes due, the bank wants its money. We didn’t want that hanging over our head every, lurking in the back of our minds every day.
The delay provided us the opportunity to learn how to become farmers and homesteaders as well as to develop the entrepreneurial spirit. Did you know that could be learned? Well, we are still learning. It doesn’t come naturally. But if you have the dream and you want to make it work, you need to learn how to make money on your homestead. It’s the slow, sure path for us. I want to give a shout out to Tim Young at Small Farm Nation. He is offering his vast experience in marketing as well as the needed technological tools to help you build a profitable farm. Link in the show notes.
Deciding to build the creamery also set us back in our time line goal to stop working for others. It is a great way to make the homestead profitable, but requires tremendous infrastructure and that means a lot of monetary investment. But like any dream you are committed to, you keep at it until it becomes your reality. All in all, as I mentioned, it was 13 years from first purchase to homestead living. And 17 years from conception of the idea. But we are here now. The last 2 years have been all that we imagined and more.
I can’t convey in words how peaceful and contented we are now that we are fulltime homesteading. It’s a lot of work, no doubt. And it is worth every drop of sweat, every sore muscle, every exhausted night of sleep. There are a lot of those days. And there are a lot of other days filled with awe and wonder at, not just looking at nature from afar or from your house on the side of the mountain, but days filled with awe and wonder at being IN that life.
That’s all I’m going to say about that for right now. Let me know if you have questions about how you might make that journey and what your plans are. I talked about our path but yours will be different. It’s unique for everyone.
Preview of Upcoming Topics
I’ll provide you with more information about our specific journey and the current homestead enterprises we manage in future podcasts. Updates on the status of the creamery will be front and center.
There will be lots of information on cheese – and specifically the history and tradition around this artisan craft. I’ll also include other historical traditions related to living the homestead life.
Some upcoming topics are:
- how did cheese get started in the first place?
- how a lot of the different cheeses were developed and where.
- What were the life conditions present that led to the development of that particular cheese in that area?
Other topics I’ll touch on are:
- How was food cooked and preserved in the past?
- Today’s modern preservation – Food preservation is important.
- How women cooked at the founding of our country. Let’s talk about hearth cooking.
- Cooking with cheese on a wood stove. We have a wood stove that even has an oven.
These things bring appreciation for what we have today, do they not?
With each episode I’ll offer a new recipe. Either making cheese, cooking with cheese, or making some other homestead recipe from scratch. The link for the recipe is in the show notes.
The recipe for today’s podcast is: how to make bone broth. We really need this winter to keep us warm.
Let me first address some of the health benefits of bone broth. There are a lot of technical words out there like glycosaminoglycans, glucosamine and hyaluronic acid. What I want to talk about is the bottom line without big words. Bottom line, it’s highly nutritious. Bone broth soup is rich in nutrients. One word I will throw in here is collagen. It’s the basic building block of connective tissue. Bone broth is a source of collagen building gelatin. Think joint health.
- may protect the joints.
- may help fight osteoarthritis.
- may help reduce inflammation and heal the gut.
- may aid sleep.
- may support weight loss.
It has a whole lot of benefits. Additionally, it’s really tasty and is easy to make.
How Much Do I Drink?
How much should you drink in a day. You might drink 8 ounces a day. But some people drink much more – 16 to 32 ounces daily. Usually that is for a short period of time, perhaps to halt the progression of inflammation. Typically, 8 to 12 ounces is a maintenance kind of program that you might try first. Or you may drink it only occasionally and use it mostly in soups and stews.
Where Does One Get Bones and What Kind?
Where can you find the bone ingredients? Your local farmers markets are the best resource assuming there are meat producers selling at your market. If you don’t see it on their price boards, ask. They will have them.
What kind of bones should you use? I’ll be talking about lamb today, but any meat bones will do to make the recipe I am sharing today. Beef, chicken, lamb, and goat are examples. Go with whatever you like and what is available at the market.
Now on to the recipe. This particular recipe has herbs added to it which is a little bit different than some other recipes I have used. I’m going to give you the instructions on how to make the broth, but some of the ingredients are not required. You can experiment with those. You can even leave them all out.
You may drink it daily or only occasionally. You may use it in soups and stews. If you are drinking it heated right out of a jar or freezer container, you may want all the spices. I use mine a lot in soups and stews. Consequently, I season my stew rather than seasoning the broth.
What You Need
Let’s look at the ingredients in this recipe. A pound of bones of your choice, a tablespoon of olive oil, a large chopped onion, three medium carrots cut into chunks, and three sticks of celery roughly chopped. Three cloves of minced garlic, 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, and five sprigs of fresh thyme. You could use dried as well. In that case, I’d go with ½ tsp of the rosemary and a tsp of thyme. You’ll also need water. Approximately 1 to 3 gallons. The amount will vary depending on the bones you use and the time you simmer the broth. Salt to taste is an optional ingredient.
Onion, garlic, carrots, and celery are a typical base for flavoring any soup or stew. Keep that in mind if you are just learning how to cook. There is so much about cooking that is not really complicated and is used over and over in various recipes.
There are two ways that you can prepare the bones. 1. Thaw them out and throw them into the pot or 2. you can roast them in the oven prior to putting them in the water. I’ll give those instructions and feel free to leave off that second step as needed.
What To Do
Place the bones in a roasting pan and bake them for 30 to 40 minutes until they are browned.
With either method, in a large stock pot add the oil and heat on medium. Next add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and rosemary and sauté them for about five minutes. Add the bones and scrape any fat and juices from the roasting pan (if you did the roasting method) and put that into the pot. Add a gallon of water or enough to cover the bones. Allow it to come to boil before reducing the heat to low. Simmer anywhere from 8 to 24 hours uncovered. The longer you simmer, the more nutrients are extracted from the bones. Add more water as the water level drops. The amount of water you use will depend on how long you choose to cook it and how many bones you have in the pot.
After the broth is cooked for your desired length of time, strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer. You can use a tea towel or an old T-shirt. You are looking for that clear liquid that can be enjoyed hot or cold.
Likely you will have more than you can use right away. It’s easy to freeze it. Or, if you’re skilled with pressure canning, that’s an excellent method of keeping a larger amount on hand.
So, there you have it. That’s the basics of making a very healthy bone broth. I hope you’ll give that a try. Again, the recipe link is in the show notes. You can print it right from my website.
I hope I’ve simplified it for you. Not only is it easy to make, but there’s a lot of variety and personal creativity you can incorporate as you gain confidence. Perhaps you will make a family tradition around bone broth. The entire family sitting around the fire in the living room on a cold winter evening, sharing what brought you peace on that day is a fine vision.
That’s it for this podcast. It really is all about the journey, the dream. Dream the dream. Talk the dream. Take baby steps everyday toward the dream. Our baby steps, over 15 years, brought us to where we are today. And don’t be afraid to try a new recipe or a new cooking method.
Next week I’m going to talk about how the fermented food called cheese came about.
If you’ve got a specific topic you’d like me to cover, please post on our Facebook page, @peacefulheartfarm.
As always, I’m here to help you “taste the traditional touch.”
Thank you so much for listening and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.
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