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From the Beginning

June 25th, 2013

When we got our Muscovy ducklings last fall, we knew they’d eventually become food for our table. Some people have a hard time understanding how we can possibly slaughter an animal that we raised, particularly when they’re so cute as babies.
ducklings 3
Being meat eaters, we want to make sure that the meat we’re eating was raised with respect. Nowadays, it’s not difficult to find local farmers that raise their animals in the best conditions possible. Even with that, we’d rather do it ourselves if we can. By taking part in each step of the process I know exactly how that animal was treated and what it was fed.
When you first see sweet little ducklings, it can be hard to imagine that they’ll ever grace your table. But, as with most animals, the males start to grow up and nature takes over. They become aggressive towards each other and often towards you. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought to cull our male ducks, they were beating up on each other and occasionally trying to attack us.
ducks 2
We kept one gray male and the one remaining female (two of our females were lost to fox predation). The lady duck is currently sitting on a nest of eggs, we’re hoping she’ll hatch out a nice clutch of ducklings in early July.
ducks in kiddie pool
For the same reason I like to grow my own vegetables, I am raising my own meat. There’s just something about being involved from the beginning with what appears on your plate. When these ducks were small they were fed potatoes grown in my garden with greens harvested from the lawn. They lived happy lives splashing in a kiddie pool outside my kitchen window.   When the time came, they were slaughtered right here on the premises, no stressful travel to a processing facility. We wanted to take part in every part of the process to ensure it was done in a respectful way.
braised duck
duck breast prosciutto
After slaughter, they were seared, braised and salted & cured. I must say, they were delicious.  It’s certainly easier to let someone else handle the raising and slaughter of your animals, but I’m not one to go for ease and convenience.
ducks 3
Another reason to raise your own animals is because there are other benefits.  These ducks mowed the lawn and controlled insects while they were foraging. They also produced quality fertilizer for my garden in the process.   I also like knowing that 100% of the animal was used, their feathers were added to the compost pile, their bones were made into a nourishing stock for us and then converted to bone char to improve the soil in our garden.  Raising my own animals allows me to tighten the circle of my garden and it allows me to be 100% certain that everything that goes into my food was produced in the best way possible.
With lady duck sitting on a nest of eggs, the process will hopefully start all over again soon. We’re definitely looking forward to braised duck this coming winter! Even though raising animals from the beginning is more work than picking them up at the grocery store or the farmers market, they truly are a blessing to have around. These duckies provided us with lots of laughs along the way. I’m certainly glad we decided to keep ducks and there will always be a place for a small flock in the gardens of Chiot’s Run!

Have you ever raised an animal that ended up on your table?

Cultivate Simple 35: Cast Iron Cooking

June 24th, 2013

Today on Cultivate Simple we’re talking about all things cast iron.
bread in cast iron cocotte
cast iron
cleaning cast iron
pie in cast iron

Brands to Buy:
Staub enameled cast iron, I especially like Staub Round Cast Iron Cocotte
Lodge Cast Iron

What I use to clean my cast iron:

I use Coconut Oil from Tropical Traditions, see my post about it.

Books of the Week:

MOFGA newspaper

Resting Up

June 23rd, 2013

Traveling can be tiring! We’re one week into our two and a half week trip to Ohio and we’ve been busy. On Friday we spent the entire day babysitting our nieces and nephew along with a few of their friends. Yesterday we put in a LONG day of work and now we’re TIRED! I wouldn’t leave you without a post when I’m taking a day off, it always means there will be a photo of some cute furry animal that lives the high life at Chiot’s Run. These are our two indoor cats, Samson & Soafie, enjoying an afternoon nap in the living room.
Cats sleeping 1
Hopefully you can take some time to rest up this weekend!

Hot Vegetable Season

June 22nd, 2013

It’s that time of year for Northern gardener to transition to their warm season vegetables.  Before we left for Ohio, I pulled out the cool weather crops that bolted in our heat wave and planted peppers and tucked tiny lettuce plants in their shade. It won’t be long until I’m harvesting handfuls of peppers from the garden!
harvesting peppers
It certainly is great to these classic summer garden plants start to take center stage.  I almost can’t wait to eat the first ‘Kind of the North’ and ‘Lipstick’ pepper or the first ripe tomato.
tiny tomato
I do have one tiny green tomato in the garden, it’s not from a plant I started.  When I went to the Fedco tree sale in April, I picked up a ‘Siberan’ tomato plant.  It’s certainly living up to it’s name. I haven’t brought it inside at all and we’ve had many night down into the 30’s.  It’s flourishing away, blooming and setting tiny little fruit.  You can be I’ll be saving seeds from this lovely little plant, I think it might become a staple in my garden!

What warm weather vegetable is your favorite? 

Friday Favorite: Labeled Plants

June 21st, 2013

One of the things I really enjoy about visiting botanical gardens is that many of the plants have labels.  I find myself taking photos of plants and their labels in order to hopefully add a few of my favorite varieties to my own garden someday.  Here are a few that caught my eye this past Tuesday when we visited Kingwood Center.
broad leaf sedge 1
broad leaf sedge 2
hosta tokudama
leatherleaf sedge
shrub rose charlotte 1
shrub rose charlotte 2
Bears Breech plant 2
Bears Breech plant 1
Even though I always do this with hopes of adding a few of these plants to my garden, it never really seems to materialize. At least I know which plants are in my photos, which comes in handy sometimes for plant identification and for selling photos.

Have you ever spotted any must have plants while visiting a botanical garden?

Seeds and Sundries
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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.