Sunshine on the Homestead

Our temps started out real cold this week, down to -25 and windy. Brrr. But lately we’ve been having much more moderate temps, sunshine and we’re maybe going to hit above 35 today. A nice break in the weather. Translated, that means we’re getting more done around here because we can stand to work outside.

Keep you eye on he sky USE

Clover says keep your eyes on the sky!

This morning was devoted to doing a load of laundry, washing the last two picture windows of our Ranch home that were missed in the last round of window washing as well as washing the light fixtures over the kitchen bar area (they get so dusty and greasy from cooking). We will then have a planning session in the chicken run to work out the details for a covered run project.

Clover where did those worms come from

Where did those worms come from?

After the great chicken escape last week I’m reluctant to let the chickens out for a true free range without some kind of protection or supervision. I’m hoping we can come up with a suitable plan. Gene wants to do a “temporary” cover and I figure if we are spending the time, energy and money make it permanent. I’ll keep you posted as to who will win this decision!!

Clover funnyone baby on knee USE

Hey I’m the top chicken here, move over girl!

Gene is waxing my Subaru in a friend’s heated barn this afternoon while I am cooking up squash and sweet potatoes. We prefer to wax our vehicles spring and fall but this year that chore just plain got away from us. We are now playing catch-up.

Clover eyeing me baby on knee

For meal worms, my favorite treat, I’ll put up with that strange women and her knees.

We have a special yoga event this Friday and we are both very excited about it. We will have one teacher teaching a short breathing meditation, a second teacher giving us a crystal singing bowls event and our regular teacher will teach us an hour of restorative yoga. This will be followed by a group holiday potluck. much to Gene’s excitement.

So today I am making one of our favorite soups; sweet potato, kale and sausage soup for the potluck. This just might be my husband’s favorite soup of all.

The original recipe came from a favorite book, This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader, Joan Dye Gussow. Of course, I adapted her recipe and made it my own. This was a transformative book for me because this was the first time I read about “eating local” and that it was a privilege not a sacrifice. In fact, it was this book that helped to lead me to our homestead today.

I grow most of the ingredients like tomatoes, beans and kale from our garden but I left the recipe to include anything pre-package in case you do not.

Sweet Potato, Sausage and Kale Soup

(Adapted originally from This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader, Joan Dye Gussow

This soup was originally a Portuguese tradition and I add some of my favorite ingredients that I have adapted over the years.


2 tablespoons olive oil

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4 cups chopped onion (about 2 large)

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1 teaspoon sea salt (I use just a small pinch)

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1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

½ teaspoon fennel seeds

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/teaspoon nutmeg

6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Rosemary to taste (try ½ to 1 Tablespoon to start)

1 pound sweet turkey Italian sausage (or whatever sausage you like)

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8 cups coarsely chopped peeled sweet potato (about 2 1/4 pounds or 6 large potatoes)

2 cups of cabbage

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5 cups water

4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

I also add 5 or 6 chicken bouillon cubes

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1 (16-ounce) package pre-washed torn kale

Parsley to taste (I used about two heaping tablespoons)

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1 (16-ounce) can cannelloni beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained

1 (16 oz. canned tomato) or homegrown/frozen

(I also like to add chunks of cooked/boiled Butternut squash to my soup. (It’s filled with fiber and I love it in my soups.)

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  1. Boil sweet potatoes and drain.
  2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  3. Add onion; sauté 10-15 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, pepper, rosemary and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Remove casings from sausage; add sausage to pan. Cook 5 minutes or until sausage is lightly browned, stirring to crumble.
  4. Add potatoes, 5 cups water, and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes. Gradually add kale; cook 10 minutes or until tender.
  5. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and beans (squash and any other ingredients above)
  6. Transfer to a crock pot and finish cooking and blending all flavors

This afternoon I sat in the chicken run and played with the babies. I put meal worms on my legs and they jumped up to eat them. I took as many pictures as I could get. Clover won the award for the funniest hen today. Such inquisitive and humorous looks on her face!

Adventures in chicken keeping is the best way to spend an afternoon.

Small house Homestead Chicken Keeper, Donna


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