Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Power Cooking a Whole Chicken=3 Family Meals

I first learned the phrase "power cooking" a couple months ago from Tara Vanden Branden when I hosted a Pampered Chef party. We power cooked with 3# of our ground beef, but I have come up with my own version Riemer Family Farm Chicken style.

Our meat chickens averaged about 6# this year, so we can get some really hardy meals out of just one chicken. Some are so large that they do not fit in the slow cooker unless completely thawed and then smushed.

So here it goes 3 simple meals: 1 large chicken

Meal 1: Chicken and Vegietables

Throw the whole chicken in a slow cooker and set on low for 6-8 hours. I like to add roasting veggies with a couple hours left. You can use what you have on hand, last time I used: carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, onion, leeks and garlic. I add as many veggies as I can possibly fit. When everything is cooked I take out half the veggies and the chicken drippings and then actually get a 4th meal from veggie/chicken soup.

Cut the chicken (reserving at least 1 breast) serve the veggies and enjoy!

Meal 2: Chicken and grape salad

1..5-2lb chicken breast
1 C Celery, finely chopped
1 small onion minced
1 C seedless grapes sliced
1T Dijon mustard
dash of salt
1 t ground mustard
1/2 t black pepper
1 1/2 C Mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Salt and pepper the cooked chicken and make sure it is cool. Roughly chop chicken and place in a large bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix. Enjoy on tomato slices, bread, or a bed or greens. This recipe was taken from "Paleo Comfort Foods" by Julie & Charles Mayfield.

Meal 3: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Kalena (my child that will not eat half the time) said "Mom will you make this every day!" last time I made this soup.
I used the recipe from one of my favorite blogs "The Pioneer Woman". Click here for the recipe It calls for chicken breast, but you can shred any of the chicken meat for this soup. I also skipped the cornmeal and it was just fine. Serve with your favorite corn bread!

I hope your family enjoys these recipe's as much as mine did!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Party Over?

I thought of the old saying "Party till the cow's come home" as I watched the cows meander through my front yard and garden, up the lane and into their paddock by the barns. I have no idea where this saying came from or why the party needs to end in early December, but I rather like having the cows in my back yard again.

They spend early spring through late fall down in the pasture grazing freely and then post-harvest have access to the crop fields to forage anything left behind after harvest. When the weather starts to turn nasty they come home. Bryce and his Dad round them up with tractor and Mule (Kawasaki's version that is) and direct them back up to the shelter of the barns.

It's amazing to me that the cows who have done this before have an intuition about where to go and how to get there. They have the same intuition when it is time to go back down to pasture in the spring. It's the calves and young cows that sometimes end up in the next county. Thankfully though cows are heard animals and if most of them go in one direction the others will follow (most of the time).

So...welcome home cows let's party and Merry Christmas.

Friday, October 28, 2011

My Little Photographers

Elli and Kalena have decided that they want to make a scrapbook of all our farm animals. They have taken control of my camera and my 5 year old takes better pictures than I do! Here is a bit of their photography work.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Quick easy and satisfying beef sirloin dish

Beef & Noodle Toss: From April 2011 issue of Better Homes and Gardens

8 oz Lasagna noodles
12 oz sirloin steak cut into bite-size pieces
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 pint grape tomatoes
8 oz crimini or button mushrooms
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 14-oz. can of beef broth (home-made is best)

1. Break noodles in half; cook according to package directions. Drain (do not rinse).
2. Season beef with salt and pepper. Toss with flour. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add meat, any remaining flour and the tomatoes to skillet. Cook 3-4 minutes or until beef is well browned, stirring often. Add mushrooms and garlic. Cook 5 minutes more. Add broth; cook 3-4 minutes more or until beef is done and liquid is slightly thickened.
3. Add cooked noodles to skillet; stir gently to coat. Heat through. Spoon into pasta bowls to serve.

This is good with steamed green beans, Brussels sprouts, or broccoli.

My family loves it! Enjoy.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Farming with kids

The girls love to help around the farm. Elli truly likes to do chores and see things get done! Kalena really likes playing with paint brush's and hoses :)
Painting the garage. The chicken coop is in the background. We have been doing a lot of painting this fall!

The girls with their "cat hotel". This is really the nesting box for the hens (who by the way have yet to lay an egg...grrrr).

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Renovated Chicken Coop

By request here are some pictures of the before, during and after of the chicken coop painting. We did the work this past September.

This was taken after the carpenters did their work. Bryce is shooting any cat with water that seems to threaten the young chickens. It turns out the cats were not a threat at all. They just like to see the hens flap and squawk.



Most of the work came even before the before picture! We had to empty it of 80 years of farm junk, then had the help of two carpenters to make it "safe and usable" and now finally a nice paint job and a door with a fiberglass window that will not shatter into a million pieces again! :) Let's just say I looked a bit silly this fall vacuuming the grass.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Goats...because they are cheaper than a pony!

We have two very adorable additions to the farm named Misty-Anna and Princess! These 5 month old Nubian Dwarf/Oberhasli goats which were given to us by a friend of a friend. She had more goats than she could care for over the winter. We needed them both as weed-eaters and companion animals. Since we lost our old pony Poncho in March the acre pasture behind the hog barn has become a bit out of control. The goats co-exist in a pen in the barn and the pasture with 3 calves.

The girls have fallen in love with these two. They are quite friendly as their previous owners had pre-teen girls that made them as tame as a well loved puppy. We underestimated their athletic skills and intelligence. After a couple quick escapes we reinforced all the week spots in the fencing and pen wall. After the girls told me "the goats can fly!" I knew I was in for a good story. Apparently Princess (the goat with the little white crown) took a running leap off the plank you see in the picture and jumped over the 3 foot wall onto the hay bales on the other side. I guess she needed a snack.

That night they proceded to knock the empty 20 gallon plastic tub off the plank and somehow with all of their 16 pounds of strength they managed to move it right up to the pen wall and voila hay snack. Thankfully they are so tame and friendly they were not hard to catch. They really were not trying to escape and head for the hills, just looking for a midnight snack I guess.

They now have their very own hay bale set on end to jump on, sleep on and snack on. I think they are finally satisfied!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Yummy Beef Stew Recipes

It's been too long since I've blogged and WAY too long since I have posted recipes. Here are a couple beef stew favorites. Stew meat can be very versatile and very tender when cooked slowly. I love to make huge batches of stew and have plenty to freeze and eat as leftovers. Less cooking for mom means more time with family or more time to farm:)

What can I say on a rainy cool August day I was inspired to write about beef stew. As a matter of fact I have the first recipe simmering right now!

Beef Stew and Veggies on the Stove Top (2 hrs 20 min)
  • 2 pounds cubed beef stew meat
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 cubes beef bouillon, crumbled
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 stalks celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons cold water


  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, cook beef in oil over medium heat until brown. Dissolve bouillon in water and pour into pot. Stir in rosemary, parsley and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 hour.
  2. Stir potatoes, carrots, celery, and onion into the pot. Dissolve cornstarch in 2 teaspoons cold water and stir into stew. Cover and simmer 1 hour more.
This recipe is from follow is link.

Garlic Beef Stew with Acorn Squash in the Slow Cooker (6-8 hrs)
  • 2# stew meat
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 10-12 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 T ground marjoram
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 C chicken broth (homemade is always best)
  • 1 acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
  1. In a slow cooker, top the stew meat with all ingredients except for the acorn squash and mix well.
  2. Cut the acorn squash in half, scoop out the seeds and place directly on top of stew meat. Cover and cook for 6-8 hours on low.
  3. Scoop out the acorn squash from it's skin and serve in a bowl with stew on top of the squash!
This recipe is taken from "Everyday Paleo" by Sarah Fragoso. It's a yummy fall favorite!!! Make a double batch!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sweet little fluffy chicks...Round 2

After "harvesting" our first batch of 30 meat chickens we decided it was not so bad and so here we are doing it again! This time we have 50 birds...well make that 53. The hatchery throws in the bird equivalent to a bakers dozen because one can expect a certain casualty rate. Although out of our first bunch of 31 we only lost a single bird. I'm hoping to finish with 53 this time, but maybe I'm being unrealistically optimistic!

These sweet little chicks will spend the first 3-4 weeks in our new improved brooder. We have an eight foot diameter metal cow tank with two foot high sides. The floor is covered in several inches of wood shavings and they have three water troughs and three food troughs. These little guys have a ton of space. They only require 1/2" of space, but are happier the more room they have to roam. They start getting quite large even at 3-4 weeks when they move out to the chicken tractor (see previous blog post about that).

Taking care of the chicks is one of the many home school projects that the girls get to take part in on the farm. Elli has become the primary farmer for bottle feeding the one calf on milk replacer and both girls have taken on the job of making sure the cats have water.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Riemer Family Farm in the News

The Brodhead Free Press ran a really nice article on us and our farm in the paper today! We are thankful to them for getting our name out to more readers. July is Beef month and they wanted to highlight a local farm raising beef on a small sustainable farm. If you are in the Brodhead area pick up a copy.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Chicken Tractor!

We searched long and hard for a perfect "chicken tractor" design and in the end did what everyone else we could find on the internet did...used what they had and made it work as a shelter for their meat chickens.

There is no single way to build a portable bottomless chicken shelter. We raised our first 30 Cornish-Cross chickens in it, and will be raising our next batch soon. I must say the meat is very good! We pulled the shelter to the next fresh plot of pasture once, or twice a day depending on their size (you would be amazed at the poo a large chicken can produce)!

This is chicken tractor version 1.1. It never made it into circulation. Farming is a lot of trial and error sometimes.

This is the tractor we used. I must say Bryce was pretty brilliant with this one! It was made out of the abundance of scrap wood we have around the farm and 1/2" hardware netting. We secured the netting to the frame and installed a simple latch to remove the plywood door on one end. We drilled a hook for the water and secured a heavy duty tarp over about 2/3 of the shelter to protect from sun and weather.

Bryce also installed metal fence posts into the 4 corners and strung electric wire all the way around about 8" above the ground. We then connected the electric wire to the steer pen wire and had a heck of a shock for any raccoon that might come after a chicken dinner! We surprisingly did not see any evidence of predators coming near the chicken tractor.

We hope to use this shelter for many rounds of birds and continue to improve on our design in the future to raise even more chickens for our customers.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Summer Fun - Pictures

I just wanted to share a few pictures of the fun we are having outside these days!

The girls would swim and do the sprinkler all day if I let them!

Here are the girls feeding "Brownie" our orphaned calf. She is really sweet and pretty much thinks we are her parents and the girls her siblings.

Two generation of farmer working on building a "chicken tractor". This will be the portable cage we keep our meat chickens in so that they can eat grass & bugs and enjoy the great outdoors for their short time on this earth. Notice the third generation happily watching from the swingset.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chicken Day!

Today was the day we have been waiting for! CHICKEN DAY! I got a call from the post lady in the picture at 6:30 am. She said we could pick them up and ring the side door if we were before 8:30. Yes, they really do just come in the mail. We ordered them through a reputable hatchery in Ohio. Before picking them up we went out and filled the food trays and water dish's and were off to town with banana's in hand. Kalena was still in her jammy top.

When we got the chicks home we gently lifted them one at a time and dipped their beaks in the water so that they would know where to drink. Our friend told us to do this, not sure if it's an old farm wives tale or not, but it seemed logical. They immediately started running around and checking out their brooder. They jumped into their food and ate their litter. I gave them a hydrating gel that was supposed to rehydrate the tired little day old travelers.

In all we have 57 chicks: 31 meat birds and 26 hens. The hens are three different breeds: Golden Buff, Plymouth Barred Rock, and Rhode Island Reds. These are all known for their large brown eggs and are excellent layers. We look forward to getting eggs from them in September. Now we need to get to work getting the chicken coop cleaned up.

After they graduate from the brooder they will range around the farmstead by day and hang out in the coop where it's safe from rotten raccoons by night. Say tuned for more adventures in chicken land!

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Cows life

So far this Spring we have had 9 calves.

You may be wondering what a Cows life is like on our farm. If not I'm going to briefly fill you in anyway. The cows "come home" in late fall in order to take shelter in the barns and eat fresh hay. They then calve in the spring once the grass starts to turn green. We typically start calving around tax day. When the calves are two or three days old and we are confident that they are healthy we send the cow with her calf down to the pasture where they stay until late fall. Out on the pasture the cows and calves have as much grass as they can eat.

Here are a couple pictures of our little Herefords heading down to pasture last spring. I have yet to get some good shots this spring. Mainly because it's always raining!

We should have about 30 kittens here in the next month. Let me know if you know anyone that wants to give a sweet barn cat a home!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Grilling Season Is Here!

We grilled out for the first time last night! Yeah! We moved an old concrete slab and pieced together some huge old foundation stones to create grilling central right outside our back door. I still need to fill in between the stones with some limestone findings. We are finally getting our yard in order a bit and look a little less like the Beverly Hillbillies, although, we still have a ways to go:) I simply made Riemer Beef burgers and veggies (potatoes, sweet potatoes and onions). Quick tip for burgers: add one egg/lb of beef so that the burger stays together nicely on the grill. This makes them easier to shape and flip and does not alter the taste as far as I can tell.

Sisters...awwww. I guess my girls are not the only sisters that like to cuddle. These lovely ladies (the yellow one might actually be a fuzzy to really figure it out) like to hang out on the porch and watch life go by. Dorthy Ann in the middle is the favorite but they are all very sweet. They did not seem as excited about the yummy grilling smells as I was though!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Corned Beef Brisket in the Pressure Cooker!

Our St. Patrick's day dinner is Corned Beef and Cabbage. I make it the quick way though in the pressure cooker. If you don't have time to slow cook, or if you want to make use of one of the handiest items in the kitchen use the pressure cooker!

So throw your corned beef brisket in the pressure cooker and enjoy some March Madness this St. Patrick's day! Brisket is the cut corned beef is made from. It is from the chest and upper front legs of the beef which can be quite tough, so it needs to either be cooked slowly or cooked in a pressure cooker to make it tender.

1. Place a 3-4lb brisket in the pressure cooker. Our processor preseasons the corned beef. If it is not seasoned it should have a spice packet included. Put enough water in the pressure cookers pot to just cover the beef and bring to a boil.

2. Place the lid with the rocker on the cooker and set so that there is a slow steady rocking motion on the rocker for 1 hour. Watch it for a while to make sure it does not blow out steam...these new pressure cookers can be testy! I wish I still had grandmas old style one (ugh...I sound old).

3. Take off of heat and let stand 5 minutes in order to release pressure. Cut and eat.

4. I roast potatoes, cabbage and carrots separately so they are all done at the same time. Grab a Guinness and a slice of Irish Soda Bread and you are good to go!

"The first corned beef was packed in salt, and sometimes spices, in order to cure it. It got its name from the corn kernel-sized grains of salt it was packed in."

Today, corned beef is usually made by soaking a brisket roast in a brine of water, salt, and spices. While it's not traditional in Ireland, corned beef is what most Americans prepare for St. Patrick's Day." taken from

Note: This is a post taken from last March, but I thought it was worthy of reposting.

Monday, March 14, 2011

DIY Lifestyle

I (Jen) have always been the type to like to do things on my own before asking for help. My mother likes to remind me of my favorite phrase as a toddler "I do it mine own self!" This attitude persists in me now as well, which is why I feel well suited for the homesteading life. Sure I have been making my own bread (sorry no link, I use a recipe from "the bakers dozen cookbook", granola bars and using a french press coffee maker for years, but moving to the farm has opened up all new DIY opportunities. We even take part in DIY schooling now!

Living in the suburbs really is more "convenient" than living 8 miles from the closest grocery store (and that is really by no means a one stop shop). Living in the country forces you to get creative! Even when we do get to town for groceries and errands the selection of natural and organic products is very limited and very expensive. This has motivated me to explore things like making my own yogurt. It's actually quite easy! The step by step does not give you step one: getting over the fact that you are actively cultivating live bacteria for the expressed purpose of feeding it to your children. Sounds scary, yes, but that's what yogurt is! My kids love it and I can make organic yogurt in any flavor I want for 1/2 the price of Stonyfield yogurt (which is fantastic). I keep it warm in the huge slow cooker that Bryce got for Christmas. It keeps the yogurt at exactly 100 degrees on the warm setting. If you give it a try I would love to know how it works out for you!

We are also currently attempting to grow sprouts in our windowsill and catch flies that are literally coming out of the woodwork via home made methods. Next on the agenda build bat houses (to naturally control mosquitoes) and movable chicken tractors to grass feed the chickens we have yet to purchase. I'll keep you updated on how that goes!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dude...Where's my Turkey?

"Bryce, could you stop by our favorite chicken farm and pick up a few chickens and maybe turkey?" asked Jen. "Sure, no problem" answered Bryce.

hours later…

Jen asks, "Where is the turkey? I thought you said you got a turkey." "What do you mean?" answers Bryce. "How did you misplace a 17lb. heritage breed (read-not cheap) frozen turkey?" replied Jen. "Do you remember if you put it in the car?" Bryce replies “ummm...I don't know. I might have left it at the farm, or maybe it's in the car. Too bad the car is in town at the shop". "Well," answered Jen "it's unusually warm for February, but I guess it takes turkeys a really long time to thaw, right? I'll email the farmer and see if you left the turkey there."

The next day, Cindi confirmed that the turkey was left on the counter of their farm store. At least there is not a thawing, raw turkey in the back of my car!

Later that day Bryce returned to the chicken farm to pick up the forgotten turkey from the farmer’s spouse who had no idea what Bryce was talking about. Fortunately, he took his word for it and handed over the turkey. With Tom the turkey securely fastened, he made his way back to the homestead only to find raccoons engaging in some sort of Olympic events on the roof of our house. There is always something to keep life interesting here in the country.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Easly Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Veggies

At the Riemer home we love a nice roast in the slow cooker on these COLD days. Yesterday morning I had to go out and run the corn silo so that we could feed our corn burning pellet stove. And yes it was cold, -15 degrees to be exact. I actually thought it was a malfunctioning thermometer, but after checking multiple sources realized that it really was that cold. The whole time I was outside thinking..."yes I do love my pellet stove and oh the roast will taste good tonight!"

Here is the recipe:

1 3-4# Chuck Roast
seasoning (you can use salt & pepper, season salt, or more exciting flavors if you prefer)
1 onion
2-3 cloves garlic
6 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
6 medium potatoes, scrubbed, quartered and halved.
You can improvise and use whatever veggies you have on hand. I will often throw in winter squash.

1. Brown roast in cooking pot on top of the range over med heat. Season as desired. Transfer cooking pot to heating base.

2. Place vegetables around the roast. I cut slits in the roast and insert halved garlic cloves into the roast. Add 1/2 cup water. Add additional herbs to vegetables if desired. I used chives and parsley on this roast. Cover and slow cook at medium/low setting for 6-8 hours or medium setting for 5 hours. Juices that collect may be thickened for gravy if desired.

note: I always use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of all meats before eating. Beef should always be at least 145 degrees, but for a roast I like them at 160-170 degrees.

I like to serve up this roast with some crusty bread or sweet corn bread and a green salad.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Tail of Two Old Dogs

This is a story about two very different dogs. One started at a rural animal shelter and then to our farm. The other at a city shelter in Iowa, to an apartment in Wisconsin, to the sub-burbs of Illinois and finally to our farm in Wisconsin.

Misty, whom I refer to as "the super farm dog" has been grandpa's faithful farming companion for over 10 years now. She is a Border Collie mutt and loves nothing more than working! She is in her golden years now and has very few teeth, but that does not stop her from following every pass of the tractor or attacking every dirty rotten raccoon that comes lurching out from under the corn auger. Actually, the cause of her toothlessness is countless bouts with the aforementioned horrible little bandits. She's not much of a lover, but if a cow gets out her tail goes to wagging at the idea of getting to herd her. Misty is so geared to protect the farm that even on the most bitterly cold night she will not go into the garage to sleep. She must have a fear of missing some nigh time intruder from her front porch vantage. It's even hard to get a photograph of her because she must think us frivolous, up to something or maybe she just does not like that kind of attention.

Above are recent photo's of each dog doing what they do best.

Oliver on the other hand is really a pretty terrible farm dog. There's just no other way to put it. He somehow manages to scare the cows out of their pasture and causes steers to break fences just trying to get away from him. He tries to bark our kittens to death...those furry little monsters. He uses the same kitten tactic on raccoons. He must believe that the louder and longer he barks the "intruder" will somehow be deterred. Misty just stares at Oliver and we imagine her thinking something like..."what a stupid city dog." We thought Oliver would learn the ways of the farm dog once we moved, but he still has the idea that large trucks are to be chased and that tractors are the enemy. We have finally come to the conclusion that Oliver is a better indoor companion, footrest, friend for the girls to dress up than a farm dog...we'll leave that to Misty.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Winter Chores

Daily activities on the farm look very different depending on the season. During the winter, chores are done as quickly as possible and major outdoor projects are put on the "things to do in the spring" list.

On a daily basis, the cattle, pony, dogs and cats are fed. In the winter, when the cows are not out on pasture they stay around the barns. We have three small pastures of about 3 acres each, with access to water in the barns. The cattle are divided into three groups, and each group of cattle has access to fresh water, shelter, and fresh hay that is grown on our farm.

Group #1 consists of about 34 pregnant cows. These cows need a lot of hay to keep their energy up to stay warm and gestate.
Group #2 is made up of the 32 newly-weened calves. These calves are half grown now and have plenty of space to eat their hay and wander around. They sleep in barns on beds of corn-fodder (stalks and leaves).
Group #3 is the group of 16 steers and heifers that is being finished for harvesting. These range in size from the animals ready to go any day, to the ones that will not be harvested until May. These animals enjoy free access to hay, and a limited access to corn grown on our farm.

Twice a week, all the animals get fresh fodder bails in the barns for bedding to keep them dry and warm. Bryce's dad keeps track of the day to day chores for the cattle (while Bryce finish's his last year of commuting to Illinois to work as a Guidance Counselor), and on weekends we tackle the bigger jobs like fixing fence, barns and sending Bryce up the silo to adjust the corn auger. There are always a thousand things to be done on the weekends and we are so thankful for Bryce's mom and dad for their farming expertise and willingness to help!

The girls also have daily chores, feeding the more domesticated animals...cats & dogs. They are also in charge of making sure the bird feeders are kept full and bringing the mail in each day.

When everything is complete, you would find us warming up in front of our corn-burning stove.