Tea Time Talker...
Hey there everyone! Happy start of the weekend :) I'm not sure if you saw this picture on my Instagram or Facebook, but we are so delighted to see blooms on our plum tree we planted last year. I chose a fruit tree for our front yard (to replace the three trees that died) because of the early spring blooms and knew come about this time of the year, I'll be needing something pretty to look at! And finally, blue skies...
Today I am happy and excited to write my first Feature Interview. What is a Feature Interview you may ask? Well, it's just what it sounds like. I decided a little over a month ago that after questions from friends and family about certain passions I have that I would like to interview people I have gotten to know or want to get to know about what they do that interests me. I also thought, INTERVIEW is such a formal word and there are no formalities in my lifestyle so I prefer to call this Tea Time Talker ☺️. It's like having a friend over for tea or coffee or wine or....(use your imagination here) and just shooting' the breeze. One of my favorite phrases one may catch me saying is, "I love STORIES and everyone has a story to tell." I will say though that I may be the only one drinking tea. The "Tea Time Talker" may, like this first one, be completely conducted via email. This allows the 'Talker' to have some time to think about their answers, possibly look into some answers, and more importantly, answer everything at their convenience. We all know that life today is busy and as much as we'd all like to meet up with a friend here and there for lunch or tea or even dinner, not everyone's schedule can afford it. One of the qualities I love about my friends is that we ALL completely understand each others' lifestyles and schedules and make no judgements. It is what it is and when we are able to get together for lunch or even a late night text that has us giggling in bed waking up a very sleepy spouse because it sounds like I'm having an asthma attack from holding my breath trying not to laugh out loud... well, you get the picture...and that's why my interviews get done the way they do.
So, to start us off, our first ever Tea Time Talker is with my friend Mary 😁 Mary's farm, Lazy Acres (love it!), is where I get my eggs! Now before I go any further, I have to make a statement. I was not brought up in the country. I don't even recall ever visiting a farm growing up until I was in my teens and my aunt kept horses at a farm where I would go to ride them. And, anyone who knows me knows of my asthma and allergies to some animals. Regardless, I have a fascination with farms both animal and crop. I love driving by on the highway and seeing the different farms, and as I've gotten older, I VALUE farmers more than I ever thought possible. What a lifestyle, all of which can be defined by one word...unpredictable. Just like life itself. Although I may not have been raised in the country I have learned several things in my life path. I know fresh is best. Growing something yourself gives you pride. And sharing, whether it be food, thoughts, skills, etc. makes for better mankind.
I met my friend Mary probably 10 years ago. We actually met at the physical therapist office while both our sons were doing physical therapy. I knew her son and later her daughter from the middle school I used to work at. We'd see each other at high school baseball games as well. And of course, Facebook has allowed us to stay connected. I remember seeing her post on Facebook some time ago to her friends and family about having eggs available for anyone wanting to try them. I'm going to be honest here again, if it wasn't for Little House on the Prairie, I wouldn't have known about double yolks and farm fresh eggs! A friend of my husband had also been selling us some eggs as well, but I was curious to try others especially local. Plus, Mary isn't too far and I find myself stuffing my face with some hard boiled eggs as of late! I don't know if you've ever had fresh eggs, but YUM is all I can say. And the colors!!! I literally, and this is no lie, take pictures EVERY TIME I buy farm eggs! I love them and it almost pains me to crack them sometimes 😂 FYI I don't get that way with store bought eggs 😂 Look at these eggs! The speckles, the pastels, cream colors 😌 and the larger ones in the carton are duck eggs! Oh my yummy!
So here we go!! Grab yourself a favorite beverage and enjoy ☺️
1) How long have you had Lazy Acres? We have lived here for 16 years, we actually purchased the farm from my husband's grandparents who built it back in 1972.
2) How did Lazy Acres get its name? The name was already started by my husband's grandparents Bob and Willa (aka Pappy and Granny). The farm was much bigger back then. There was a time that Pappy wanted to give back to his kids and gave them a plot of land to build their own homes and raise their families. Most have sold and moved on except for my in-laws, which I am very fortunate to have so close to us. As for the name, from what I gather, that is what they called it thinking they would live out their golden, or LAZY years here. We were fortunate enough to buy the farm from them and we registered it with the State of Ky Agricultural Department and officially in 2017 our farm was granted the name Lazy Acres.
3) How big is your farm? It is relatively small; we are right at 5 acres, though it feels much bigger because we have 15 vacant acres next to us and we butt up to a large cattle farm on the back side.
4) Is farming new to you? I grew up in the city (uh😲me, too!) so when I got married, my hubs brought me to the country. At first it was just our yearly garden. Our kids helped plant, pick and put away the fruits of our labor. I never wanted them to grow up thinking food came from the grocery store. I wanted them to be a part of the process the entire way. It wasn't until about 6 or 7 years ago that I got into the animal part of farming. It started out with chickens and have added on with many others since then. Being self-sustainable and not needing to rely on others to provide for us has been an invaluable lesson. Taking care of our family first and foremost with good quality food that they had a hand in raising speaks volumes.
5) What else do you love about the livestock? Well, that goes along with the question above, but also I just love farm life. There is something calming, as crazy as it seems, about the hard work and care you put in on a daily basis; the needs of the animals and in turn they give you back joy and love and some even bigger eggs!
6) So tell me what animals/livestock you have on your farm (and names, too, if you like!). We have 16 chickens and they all have names after famous Hollywood actresses like Lucy, May West, Doris Day, Phyllis Diller, and Betty White to name a few, three ducks who are Lilly, Daisy, and Big Poppy, one mini Rex rabbit we call Jelly Bean, two pygmy goats that go by Petunia and Clover, one horse-an American Saddlebred named Jack, four cats-three of which are outside-Baby Face, Tony, and Priscilla and one inside who is Loki, two dogs-a German Shepherd named Sergeant Major who is the head of security (and she's not lying folks-I swear he's going to come through the front window when I go over there!!😂), and the newest addition, an Australian Shepherd named Rosie. In April we will have our first delivery of honey bees though I don't think I can come up with 5,000 names so I just have to name the hive!
7) It's pretty obvious there are a lot of animals to take care of, who helps out on the farm? Mostly it is me and my daughter Jessica doing the daily care. I could not do it without her, but my husband Jeff (who is my financial partner in the venture☺️) and my son Jacob help with the big stuff like hay, fencing, trees, and those types of things. Together we are Lazy Acres, though there is nothing lazy about this life!
8) Are you looking to expand the size of your farm? We are at the good manageable size right now. I will add a few more chickens, but I am looking for something specific and that takes time to find.
9) Tell us about your chickens, for example type, what color eggs they lay, etc. I have a variety of chickens. I like the different looks of the feathers in the barn yard, but mostly I pick them based on the color eggs they lay (I love them colored eggs!!!). I like to see a variety of color in the egg carton. I have an Easter Egger and an Ameraucana that lay a light blue/green egg, several Wellsummers that lay dark brown eggs and some speckled; Wyandottes that lay pale brown or tan eggs, a Barred Rock, a Buff Orphinton, a couple of Rhode Island Reds that all lay a shade of light to medium brown, a Leghorn that lays white eggs and Australorp that is my best layer. If you are ever lucky enough to get one of her double yolks, which she does quite often, know that she worked long and hard to give you an extra gift. We have full hen house and NO BOYS ALLOWED!
10) Tell us about your ducks! I have 2 giant white Peking hens and 1 Ancona Drake. Lilly is my favorite, she is such a vocal bird, the same sound for every emotion, but in a variety of tones. She puts a smile on my face!
11) Are you looking to add any other animals? Honey bees is our newest adventure we are getting into. My husband's grandfather had bees so they aren't necessarily new to Lazy Acres, but new for us. I am very excited about this addition. I have truly learned a lot during our preparation and how important bees are to all of us. People don't realize that without bees, there is no us. So, hopefully this fall we will have a thriving hive and with any luck our first batch of honey. I am looking forward to it!!
12)Most of us have heard about hormones, antibiotics, free range or pasture fed...what do you feed your animals? They all get grain of some sort. Nothing special, but a good quality feed. They all get lots of fresh fruit and veggies; they are spoiled! The funniest thing is to watch the chickens eat left over spaghetti. 😂 I do not use antibiotics and we do natural worming with herbs like oregano and veggies like pumpkins on our chickens and ducks. You can't really call my chickens free range because they are in a pen, between hawks and coyotes I wouldn't have any birds left if they did free range. However their pen is very large and fenced all around for their safety. We rotate areas in the pen so they always have fresh grass. I am hoping to add on to their foraging space in the future.
13) So, do you have a favorite animal of all the animals? I honestly love them all for different reasons. There is truly a pecking order in the hen house and watching it pay out you get to see the personalities of each of them. But if I had to pick one I would say my goat Clover is my favorite. I got her and Petunia at the age of 8 weeks. They were so little but they were hand raised and she is just the sweetest most loving animal. She truly wants to show you love and affection. She has a very tender, sweet personality.💕
14) Not being from the country (like good ole me!) how did you learn about farming animals? Using others that have been in the business as knowledge is a wonderful resource. YouTube and the internet are also great resources that you can research different aspects about- what you are experiencing or need help with, and reading books and good old trial and error. Others are truly willing to help; we want each other to be successful in our adventures whether just hobby farming or full scale farming for a living.
15) What has having livestock taught you? Animals are good at pretending like everything is okay. You don't know that an animal is sick until it is really sick and in some cases we have lost an animal. Treating them with kindness and respect goes a long way to build trust especially when they are feeling vulnerable. I suppose it is that way with people as well, but the animals don't judge me if I feed them in my pj's and flip flops and haven't brushed my hair or my teeth for that matter!
16) Being a consumer and wishing I could farm, can you tell everyone like myself what you feel is important for people to know when buying from a local farmer. First off you KNOW where you are getting your product from. A lot of people don't know that when you buy eggs at the store the 'sell by date' is 45 days (6 weeks) from when they were packaged. Here is hoping they were packaged the day they were laid. When you buy farm fresh it is just that fresh! You get a richer tasting egg that has more nutrients as a result of the freshness. Whey you buy farm fresh you are getting product that is a day or two old, not weeks. I know how my animals are cared for, what they eat and what their health is. You don't know that with the grocery store eggs. If I have a sick chicken I don't keep her eggs. I want the best for my family and yours. Most farmers have the same philosophy; if we wouldn't feed it to our family, we wouldn't sell it to you.
17) Finally, to close this absolutely fun and inspiring 'interview', do you have any tips or tricks we may find interesting when choosing eggs? I remember how you said that duck eggs make a real moist cake! I could give you a tip a week on this one. It is very true about the duck eggs; they will take your pastries to the next level. *Hard boiling fresh eggs and getting the shells off can be challenging. Remember, the eggs at the store are old and that inner membrane is old as well which makes for easier peeling, so I steam mine instead of boiling them. I have had more success with getting the shells off cleanly. *Eggs should be stored with the small end down. Why, you ask...There is an air pocket on the large end of the egg. As the egg loses moisture, that air pocket enlarges. So keeping the air at the top will keep the yolk centered and fresher longer. *The darker the yolk the better the forager the hen is. *And my last trick would be the fresh egg test. Fill a bowl with cold water. If the egg sinks to the bottom and lays flat on its side, it is very fresh. If it stands on one end at the bottom, it is a few weeks old, but still okay to eat. If it floats to the top, don't eat it!!
I can't thank Mary enough for being my first ever Tea Time Talker and for sharing her STORY and all the advice. I am lucky to live in an area where there's a mixture of rural and suburbia. We have an incredible Farmers Market and local farmers that sell fresh eggs and I hope this has inspired a majority of you to look up a local farmer and taste the outstanding difference of fresh eggs! Just so you know, I couldn't bring myself to ask Mary which came first, the chicken or the egg...😂 I didn't want to be THAT friend😂😂
This is Mary with Ginger Rogers ☺️
Hope everyone enjoyed. Please pass this around, share the post, and make sure to subscribe to the blog posts if you haven't already. The sign up box is on the Home page. Also, if you would like to see me do another Tea Time Talker with a particular "passion" of mine that I've mentioned in past blog posts, just let me know!
*All farm pictures are courtesy and ©2018 Mary and Lazy Acres Farm All Rights Reserved