Warm Weather Brings More Chores

The warm weather brings on a different sort of work on the farm . . . fixing fence.  And it is evident as every day we find cows wandering through the yard or pigs further in the pasture than they should be.  Yep, it is a neverending chore.  Just this morning, while Brian was milking, I had to run out in the yard in my robe and have a talk with Ebony, one of our black Angus heifers.  I was thinking I won as she turned around and walked back to her friends, but not half hour later, her and her calf Onyx were again wandering.  Sometimes I think they just like to be mischievous and are just laughing at us humans (well me in my robe anyway).  

We have pulled the mobile chicken tractor up to the barn and plan to get the laying hens out on pasture this week.  This is my favorite time of year as they get out of the barn . . . and out of my flower beds.  They really enjoy roaming and they reward us with eggs that have a nice orange/deep yellow.

Pastured egg facts from Mother Earth News

The results are coming in from MOTHER EARTH NEWS' latest round of pastured egg nutrient tests. Once again, pastured egg producers are kicking the commercial industry’s butt — yippee, go free range eggs! Our previous tests found that eggs from hens raised on pasture — as compared to the official USDA data for factory-farm eggs — contain:


  • 1/3 less cholesterol
  • 1/4 less saturated fat
  • 2/3 more vitamin A
  • Two times more omega-3 fatty acids
  • Three times more vitamin E
  • Seven times more beta carotene

Now we’re looking at vitamin D, of which many people don’t get enough. New research is showing that this common vitamin deficiency may be related to much more than just weak bones — from diabetes and cancer to heart disease and multiple sclerosis. 

Our bodies can get vitamin D in two ways: when sunlight strikes our skin, or from our diet. Eggs are one of a small list of foods that are naturally rich in vitamin D. The USDA says supermarket eggs contain an average of 34 International Units per 100 grams. Our tests of eggs from four pastured farms in Texas, Kansas, Kentucky and Pennsylvania found that their eggs contained three to six times as much vitamin D as typical supermarket eggs. This means two scrambled eggs from pastured hens may give you 63 to 126 percent of the recommended daily intake of 200 IU of vitamin D.

It is also time to start our seeds.  We are a few weeks late but should still be OK.  We have many variety of seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Company and start by meticulously planting each seed.  The trays sit on shelves by windows that face south.  Hopefully we will soon start to see sprouts breaking ground.  The philosophy at Baker Creek is to educate everyone about a better, safer food supply and to work against gene-altered food.  We appreciate the care they take and we want the best food possible in our own diet so that means we can share our bounty with you as well.  Remember, know your farmer, know your food.

The Sap is Running

Last week we said we were hoping to be boiling sap this week and we were right. The temperatures have been just right and the sap is filling up the bags to the brim. Always amazes me that you can take something that looks like water and turn it into golden sweetness. The first batch we did of course was reason to celebrate and we treated ourselves to homemade waffles, homemade butter, and of course homemade syrup. Sooo delicious and love when we can make an entire meal out of something we all had a part in making.

MAPLE FACTS – wismaple.org

Pure maple syrup is only made on a commercial scale in North America – nowhere else in world.

Maple syrup is generally produced in the states and provinces that surround the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River to the Atlantic Ocean.

Maple sap is collected in the early spring, when temperatures get below freezing at night and above freezing during the day.

It takes approximately 40 gallons of maple sap from the trees to make one gallon of pure maple syrup.

Nothing is added to the sap, only water is evaporated away, to make pure maple syrup.

Once concentrated to the correct density, pure maple syrup is filtered and “hot pack”- bottled.

A tree large enough to tap can be re-tapped year after year, although a new tap hole must be drilled each season.

Each tap can yield up to 10+ gallons of sap per season on a gravity system, resulting in approximately one quart of finished syrup.

Pure maple syrup is a great natural food. It contains no preservatives, colorings or other additives.

A gallon of maple syrup weighs 11 pounds compared to 8 pounds for a gallon of water.


While it does feel like Spring with the mud and brown grass, I would like to see more sun. Regardless, the chickens are enjoying getting out of their winter home and grazing the day away out in the yard . . . and my flower beds. It will be a lot to clean up once warmer weather returns, but I can’t complain too much because it is nice to see them out and about again. I always enjoy watching the chickens as they are quite humorous and fascinating.


2 eggs

2 cups All Purpose Flour

1 ¾ cup milk

½ cup vegetable oil

1 T white sugar

4 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp vanilla

Preheat waffle iron. Beat eggs in large bowl with hand beater until fluffy. Beat in flour, milk, vegetable oil, sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla, just until smooth.

Spray preheated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Pour mix onto hot waffle iron. Cook until golden brown. Serve hot. Courtesy of AllRecipes.com

Is Spring Finally Here?

We were getting anxious and anticipated the weather to be more cooperative, so we started to tap trees for maple syrup. We sold out completely of syrup shortly after the holidays so we are in desperation for that sweet goodness. Well the weatherman was a little off and the sap did not run but today is looking up. Brian looked out at our maple tree right by our house window and saw a few sap icicles hanging from the tree. A very good sign so hopefully the cooker will be boiling soon. Make sure to stop by and check out the process if you wish.

Also, this week, Sugar had a spa day. Doesn’t every good farm, sheep herding, frisbee catching, customer greeter, all-around loveable dog deserve a day of pampering? She does need to look good for all the visitors that come just to see her. She got a good bath, haircut, and pedicure. Upon shedding her winter coat, we actually found white fur again. She is looking refreshed and ready for the next mud puddle she runs through to catch a stick or frisbee tossed her way.

Lastly, we attended the annual Spring Farm, Home, Garden, and Sport Show in Ladysmith. Wow, did we have fun! It is always a joy to talk with people, share what we are doing, and to reconnect with our loyal customers. Makes us truly realize our blessings and yes, each one of you are counted in those blessings.

This week’s recipe is going to highlight maple syrup since it will shortly be restocked in the store. Did you know that true maple syrup contains calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus sodium, potassium, and zinc. Vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and B6 are also found in maple syrup. WOW! That is a lot of goodness all from boiling the water content out of maple sap.

Iced-Maple Espresso Shake 

3 ice cubes

¾ cup cold, brewed espressor or other strong coffee

½ cup milk

¼ cup maple syrup

½ pint good quality vanilla ice cream (a good sheep milk ice cream would be wonderful)

Put the ice cubes inside a folded towel and crush them. Combine crushed ice, espresso, milk, maple syrup, and ice cream in a blender. Process until slushy. ENJOY!

Courtesy of Storey Publishing Maple Syrup Cookbook


And the Name is....

Over the past week, we had another ewe lamb which brought us up to 71 and another calf born which makes 4 for 2017. This calf was born to Blackie who has been our original cow that started with us quite a few years ago. She had a little heifer calf that we named Belle. Blackie is a wonderful mother and quite frankly, she is the one who lets us know when we need to come check on things. She let’s out these deep bellers to let us know if a calf (anyone’s calf) is on the wrong side of the fence, if they are out of water, or if they just need some attention. She is quite the character. We get attached to all the animals as they all have different personalities that are fun to watch. 

But you didn’t come to this week’s blog just to read about Blackie and her new calf Belle. You are here because we challenged everyone to come up with a name for Ebony’s little bull calf. Well you came out in full force. The post was viewed 3168 times and we had over 100 suggestions. The one name that kept coming back into the game was the name Onyx so we decided that was the one to pick. Now, how do we decide on who won the gift certificate when so many of you chose it? We picked the winner to be the one who first submitted it at 7:25 a.m. on the day of the challenge. So Kris Vieceli, you have won a $20 gift certificate to the Maple Hill Farm Store. Congratulations and thank you to everyone who played and made it fun. It was the talk of the family for the entire week tryiing to decide on all the great suggestions.

This week’s recipe is for Bayfield Apple Oatmeal Cookies:

1 cup organic sugar

½ cup butter

1 - 1 lb package Starlit Kitchen Bayfied Apple Oatmeal (can be found at Maple Hill Farm store)

2 cups organic all purpose wheat flour

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp xanthan powder

¼ tsp sea salt

1 cup maple syrup

¼ cup apple sauce

½ tsp vanilla


Cream sugar and butter. Combine dry ingredients and whisk to distribute evenly. Add dry to creamed mixture and mix until just combined. Combine wet ingredients completely and add to the rest. Mix until just combined. Scoop walnut-sized balls of mix onto parchment covered cookie sheet and flatten lightly. Bake at 325 for 7 minutes, turn and bake for 4 more minutes. Makes about 30 cookies.

Recipe courtesy of Starlit Kitchen – “Always vegan, as organic and local as can be . . . “


Where does the week go? Here we are writing another week’s blog and I have to think what all happened on the farm because it went so fast. We have reached 70 lambs and they sure are happy with all the visitors and attention they have received over the past few weeks.

This week, we had another little calf born so that makes three in the past month. We have now have Thistle whose mother is Daisy, Truffle whose mother is Oreo, and our little unnamed bull calf whose mother is Ebony. So we are going to offer out the challenge once again to name this little guy. Watch Facebook for the details. Always fun to see the names that people come up with.

What else is happening with Maple Hill Farm? Brian and I sat down one day and got out the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog and ordered our seeds to the upcoming gardening season. Boy, once they arrive, it is like Christmas to us. We will start planting right away when we get them so that by Memorial weekend, we can start transplanting outdoors. Aren’t you excited for summer . . . love going out to the garden and picking a tomato or cucumber that is still warm from the sun. Nothing better. Make sure to come look at our gardens this year. We offer a “you pick” experience so you get the freshest produce for your dinner.

My recipe this week utilizes peppermint essential oil:


• Dispense a few drops on a tissue and stick in air vents of car for alert driving. 

• Mix 3 drops peppermint with 1 teaspoon carrier oil for a cooling sports massage.

• Mix 1 tablespoon Epsom salt and 6 drops peppermint in a basin of warm water for a soothing foot soak. 

• Mix 2 drops peppermint in 1 teaspoon carrier oil and massage into temples. 

Courtesy of Aura Cacia


The week was spent getting ready for the Open House! The weather the weekend before was unseasonably warm for February so we knew we were in trouble. And we were right! The weather forecasters were predicting Snowpacalypse 2017. While our area did not get a terrible accumulation (about 5 inches), it still made us concerned. But everyone came out in full force to support us. We had 62 baby lambs ready for the papparazzi, had a campfire and smores, and a staged area for taking pictures. Everyone came out in full force and sounds like everyone had fun. The lambing season always makes us feel blessed!

After cleaning up from the Open House, it was time to work on our website and Etsy store with new designs and new photography. It has been awhile since we updated everything and need to keep everything fresh. Let us know your thoughts.

This week we are anxious to get back in the lab. What is on the creation list? Well, Forager’s Harvest is well known for their hickory nut oil that they press themselves. Melissa reached out to me to see if I would want to try making a soap with this great oil. Stay tuned – I think it is going to be a great collaboration!

Now what to have for this week’s recipe. Hmmm, all I can think of is BLT cause as I type this, I have bacon cooking for our supper which is yes, a BLT. I don’t think I need to type up the recipe. I will just tell you what makes it so wonderful is Maple Hill Farm nitrate free bacon from our pastured pigs. Give it a try!

Warm Weather- is it Spring?

The weather has been absolutely beautiful and we are counting our blessings that it has been a warm season for our lambing. Since last wee’s blog, we have more than doubled our lamb count. We are now at 57 lambs with 22 ewes being milked. And we had another calf born. So needless to say, we are extremely blessed and happy things are progressing along nicely. As I write this, people are just as excited to see the lambs as we are and tours have been plentiful. We love that we can give firsthand experience of farming life and as some learned, you may even get to see the birthing process in action.

We hope that next weekend, the weather will be as beautiful as this but anything above zero will be a heat wave compared to the last few years which were about -30 PLUS a wind chill. We were thankful to always still have a great turnout but a little warmer weather would be a nice change of pace. We are hoping to have a few fun activities along with visiting the baby lambs.

So now that lambing is well underway, we can’t let things settle down too much, can we? We are itching to get out in the woods and start tapping trees to make maple syrup but I think we will wait. Yes, that might be a mistake cause you never know when Mother Nature might just throw us a curveball and make this the only timeframe for sapping. As the week progresses, you never know. Brian might just start pulling out the buckets/bags and hoping for freezing nights and warm days.

Each week I include a recipe. Below is one from Allrecipe.com. I switched out the andouille sausage with Maple Hill Farm kielbasa and the boneless chicken breast with Maple Hill Farm chicken thighs. Turned out to be a keeper.


• 2 tablespoons peanut oil, divided 

• 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning 

• 10 ounces andouille sausage, sliced into rounds 

• 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces 

• 1 onion, diced 

• 1 small green bell pepper, diced 

• 2 stalks celery, diced 

• 3 cloves garlic, minced 

• 1 (16 ounce) can crushed Italian tomatoes 

• 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 

• 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 

• 1 teaspoon salt 

• 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce 

• 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 

• 1 1/4 cups uncooked white rice 

• 2 1/2 cups chicken broth 



1. Heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil in a large heavy Dutch oven over medium heat. Season the sausage and chicken pieces with Cajun seasoning. Saute sausage until browned. Remove with slotted spoon, and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil, and saute chicken pieces until lightly browned on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon, and set aside.

2. In the same pot, saute onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic until tender. Stir in crushed tomatoes, and season with red pepper, black pepper, salt, hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce. Stir in chicken and sausage. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in the rice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2017 Allrecipes.com

2017 is here!

2017 is here and how did we spend it?  As we always do, we watched a few shows and were snoring in our chairs by . . . 10 p.m.  But up again around 5 a.m. to a beautiful New Years Day, which also happens to be my birthday.  Yes, I was that tax deduction that my parents had to wait a full year to realize :).  But the day awaits for a bonanza of candle making and sheep milk lotion making.  A day in the lab is a day where I am happiest.  The store has settled down from the holiday rush, the ewes are growing plump with lambs, the piglets and sows are settled into a routine of wandering wherever there is a fence not strong enough to contain them, the chickens don't venture too far from the barn, and the cows continue to let us know every few days that their hay is better on the other side of the fence.  So while it is our "down" time of year, we still continue to keep ourselves busy.

So what exactly happened on the farm this week:

Brian gave a tour to a group of foreign exchange students attending North Cedar Academy.  For a lot of these kids, these were the first farm animals they have seen so there were lots of good questions and excitement along with a little trepidation.  We are always thankful to educate and let people experience the farm.

The most recent grouping of pigs were castrated.  This is all done very quickly and done before momma even knows they were gone.

The fencing needed to be repaired for the cows because as we stated earlier, they thought the grass was greener on the other side (even though it is just snow on the other side).  The fencing for the pigs needed to be repaired as they wanted to visit the ewes and mingle.  As we progress through the year, you will find that fixing fence is probably a weekly occurrence.


Before we close the blog for this week, we need to reflect on 2016.  What did we all do at Maple Hill Farm in 2016?  Well, let's see . . . We introduced a few new products to the Maple Hill Farm product line, added bees for pollination, added more gardens and a small greenhouse, introduced 3 new sows to the farm, continued to revamp the ewe fencing, continued to hold classes on the farm with naturopath Gigi Stafne and forager Samuel Thayer, introduced our products to a few new stores throughout the U.S.  It has been a busy, but very fulfilling 2016.


So what do we have on the agenda for 2017?  Adding a small commercial kitchen, finalizing our audit and paperwork with AWA (Animal Welfare Association) to be certified, hopefully getting some honey from our hive this year, always working to develop new, natural products, and now adding a weekly blog so you can join us on our journey.



Let me leave you this week with a few recipes that are very useful this time of year.  


Time to make the Fire Cider!


1/2 cup fresh grated organic ginger root 

1/2 cup fresh grated organic horseradish root 

1 medium organic onion, chopped 

10 cloves of organic garlic, crushed or chopped 

2 organic jalapeno peppers, chopped 

Zest and juice from 1 organic lemon 

Several sprigs of fresh organic rosemary or 2 tbsp of dried rosemary leaves 

1 tbsp organic turmeric powder 

1/4 tsp organic cayenne powder 

organic apple cider vinegar 

local honey to taste 


Prepare all of your roots, fruits, and herbs and place them in a quart-sized jar. If you've never grated fresh horseradish, be prepared for a powerful sinus opening experience! Use a piece of natural parchment paper under the lid to keep the vinegar from touching the metal, or a plastic lid if you have one. Shake well. Store in a dark, cool place for a month and remember to shake daily. 

After one month, use cheesecloth to strain out the pulp, pouring the vinegar into a clean jar. Be sure to squeeze as much of the liquidy goodness as you can from the pulp while straining. Next…comes the honey. Add 1/4 cup of honey and stir until incorporated. Taste your cider and add another 1/4 cup until you reach the desired sweetness.  

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. 



How to Make Elderberry Syrup for Flu Prevention


A simple elderberry syrup recipe made with dried elderberries, honey and herbs for an immune boosting and delicious syrup. Can be used medicinally or on homemade pancakes or waffles.

Author: Wellness Mama

Serves: 1 quart


• ⅔ cup dried black elderberries (about 3 ounces)

• 3½ cups of water

• 2 Tablespoons fresh or dried ginger root

• 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

• ½ teaspoon cloves or clove powder

• 1 cup raw honey 


1. Pour water into medium saucepan and add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves (do not add honey!)

2. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half. At that point, remove from heat and let cool enough to be handled. Mash the berries carefully using a spoon or other flat utensil. Pour through a strainer into a glass jar or bowl.

3. Discard the elderberries (or compost them!) and let the liquid cool to lukewarm. When it is no longer hot, add 1 cup of honey and stir well.

4. When honey is well mixed into the elderberry mixture, pour the syrup into a pint sized mason jar or 16 ounce glass bottle of some kind.

5. Ta Da! You just made homemade elderberry syrup! Store in the fridge and take daily for its immune boosting properties. Some sources recommend taking only during the week and not on the weekends to boost immunity.

6. Standard dose is ½ tsp to 1 tsp for kids and ½ Tbsp to 1 Tbsp for adults. If the flu does strike, take the normal dose every 2-3 hours instead of once a day until symptoms disappear.