You can find Grama Sue's Rainbow Eggs at:

The Hy Vee on Agency in Burlington, IA


Wednesday - Friday 9am to 1pm at the farm 1/2 mi east of the Nauvoo-Colusa Jr. High then 3/4 mile North on 1050.

Wednesday 3-7 pm at the Painted Corners on HWY 96 in Lomax, IL


7 - 11 am Keokuk Farmer's Market at the mall

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chicken Proof!

HA!!! We have some pretty ticked off chickens, but we are going to have peas! We really don't like clipping wings, so we have been trying to find ways to grow stuff in our raised beds without having them eat everything. We've had varying success, but haven't produced anywhere near as much in these gardens this year. We will be able to pull the netting off when we need to pick. 

Now to figure out something for the taller plants. We have tomatoes in the beds now, but we only get tomatoes from the blooms that come higher than the chickens can jump!

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bucket Chicken Nest Experiment

My bucket chicken nest experiment is a success!

Our old metal nests are rusting through. I've been brainstorming about cheap alternatives. I decided to see if our chickens would like laying in a bucket. I put some bricks around it to stabilize it and put some straw in it. The chickens love it!

We have a set of roll out nests. We hate them and so do our chickens. They might work in some big factory setting, but you can't use straw in them because it blocks the roll out portion. Even if you don't use straw, it is difficult to get your fingers around the eggs that are under the roll out tray. 

We only have a few chickens that will use them for laying, but they do like to roost on them! Mostly they just serve as a high flutent chicken out house.

I want to make some shelves to put buckets on with a board across the front to keep the straw from being kicked out quickly and to hold the handles up to serve as perches. They would be easier to clean and fairly cheap to set up. 

So all you local peeps, if you've got any extra 5 gallon buckets you'd be willing to part with, please give me a  call!

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Preserving Cherry Tomatoes

I've been dehydrating my excess cherry tomatoes. One of my favorite sites is Food in Jars. This post is about ways to preserve cherry tomatoes. I will have to try these! I have been dehydrating my little sweeties. I love dried tomatoes for snacking on. She suggests cutting them in half, which I haven't been doing. Will have to try that. Here's the link: http://www.foodinjars.com/2011/08/five-ways-to-preserve-small-tomatoes/

These are my cherry tomatoes. This variety is a "black" cherry. They tend to be a bit green on top, but they are delicious!

I cut them in half and put them on my dehydrator shelves.

Then if it is sunny outside, I set the dryer in the sun. If there isn't enough sun, I plug it in.

I'll put these in a jar for yummy snacking later!

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Friday, August 26, 2011


Warning: this is a rant!

Grampa Tom loves to listen to the news channels. Drives me nuts. Republicans, Democrats, it makes no difference, they are all focused on the wrong things. Jobs and credit availability are all they talk about. However, jobs and credit availability will not get us out of this mess.

#1. We have to GET OUT OF DEBT! Banks and insurance will not save us. They simply make what we work for more expensive.

#2. Our focus needs to be on self-employment, creating business and investment. The government cannot do this!

A while back, I watched a black and white movie called "The Devil and Daniel Webster" I was horrified at how Daniel Webster was characterized as a Christ-like figure, but what fascinated me was the attitude of the characters at the beginning of the movie. There was a character who tempted the others with debt and jobs. Those he tempted started out balking at his offers because accepting a job or a loan equaled slavery. This attitude is what made America the economic powerhouse that it was. Until we return to those values, the land we love will continue to decline.

Fortunately, there are many of us who are rebelling against this slavery and we will gain our freedom! I invite you to join us!

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Patty Pan Recipe

Saturday, Grampa Tom came home from the farmer's market in Keokuk raving about what Angelini's Pizza  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Angelinis-Pizza/104870421466?sk=wall  had done with our patty pan squash. He didn't get the recipe, but what he described sounded pretty doable. So I decided to try to come up with something similar.

I started with these ingredients: Chard, tomatoes, onions, garlic and a patty pan from my garden and some sausage from Duck's Foods in Nauvoo. I love Duck's meats. If I don't grow the meat myself, it probably comes from Duck's. 

I browned the sausage.

I sliced and added onions.

Then I added finely chopped garlic. I've had a couple of different garlic presses, but I wasn't impressed with how they work. If you have one that works well, please let me know where you bought it!

I chopped and added several chard leaves.

Then I quartered the patty pan.

I removed the seeds although I don't know if that was necessary.

and then cut it into cubes.

Then I put it into my dutch oven. I should have started out with it, but when you are spacially challenged (and yes I made up that word) you just have to  make adjustments and clean a few more pans.

Then I covered and cooked it on a low heat while stirring frequently until the patty pan squash was tender.

Then I seasoned it with salt and pepper. The salt shaker is from a health food store in  my parent's hometown Borrego Springs, CA, but I've been refilling it with Real Salt that I buy at the Hy Vee stores in Quincy, IL.I also used about 2 cups of grated cheddar cheese.  I folded about half of it into the mixture and then sprinkled the rest of it on top.

I put the cover back on to melt the cheese.

And served it up with some fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. Grampa Tom loved it! So will you!

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunflower Faith

This little patch of sunflowers is so interesting. It looks like I planted each one a few days apart, but I think it's really just the amount of sunshine each is getting. They are perfectly lined up showing the development of a sunflower almost like a time lapse photo.

I took some pictures of each one so you could see how big they are against my hand. God often speaks through nature. These beautiful flowers that follow the sun (Son) remind me of how faith develops, either for a specific promise or just over the life of a believer.

Faith is born beautifully packaged, but hidden in the heart.

The promise is revealed, but it has lots of growing to do.

At full bloom, it's beauty reaches for the sky!

As it matures, the external beauty fades, but new hope is forming as it bows it's head before the creator.

Who looks and declares, "Harvest time has come!" The seeds that have been created will feed the hope of others, multiplying hope and life all over again!

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Digging Chickens!

This chicken may look dead, but it is very much alive! Recently, a visitor asked why my chickens dig in the dirt like that. They are taking "dust" baths. This helps to dry up moisture in the feathers that would interfere with their ability to insulate the chicken from both heat and cold. They often dig a hole in loose dirt and sit in it like they would in a nest, but they are just trying to keep cool!

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Friday, August 19, 2011


My granddaughter in England was wanting to see her cow today. Here she is! Kaylee is getting big and fat! She's resting in the shade with our other calf. She is the darker one in the front. Can you see her Olivia?

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


This is Molly. Molly is a 9 year old Great Pyrenees and she's such a sweetie! 9 years old is ancient for a Great Pyrenees. She will often lay around for hours in the same spot not moving a muscle and we'll think, "Oh surely she's gone." Then she will shake her head and get up like she's in great pain, limping around the yard. But come night time when the coyotes start howling, she's off like a flash!

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Spirit of Adoption

The Spirit of Adoption is alive and well at our house. This little grey kitten is very obviously not the offspring of this momma cat. The father is a dark tabby and momma has not a speck of grey in her, but we do have a beautiful long haired grey female that this kitten strongly resembles. For some reason though, this little one has been nursing from this black and white beauty since not long after it was born.

We've always had a lot of this type of thing going on. We even had a dog that would steal baby piglets so that she would have something to nurse! 

It makes sense that our animals would do this. We have quite the family tradition of "adopting" people ourselves. Both of us grew up in families that took in foster children and we've always "adopted" our kids friends, kids that I babysat or homeschooled, kids at church and of course all these kids babies as they've grown older. And you know what? We get that from our Father God who by the Spirit of Adoption has brought us into His family and calls us His own :) Romans 8:15 He takes in everyone who comes to Him. If you've never come to Him, He's waiting!

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Penthouse Nest

Some of our chickens are very high class. They have built themselves a penthouse nest on top of the straw bales.

They don't need an elevator. They just fly from one level to another till they reach this cozy spot. But we sure could use one!

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Friday, August 12, 2011

Squash Identification Please!

Help! What is this? Grampa Tom planted 2 rows of pie pumpkins and this is what is growing. Needless to say, Grampa Tom is not a happy camper.

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Thursday, August 11, 2011


The heat threw our chickens into a molt. When under a lot of stress a chicken will shed a lot of it's feathers and slow way down on egg production. So, if you can't find our eggs in the store, it's because we ran out! They are starting to recover. Before the heat, we were getting around 230-250 eggs a day. Last week we were down to 150 a day. This week we are back up in the 175-200 range. 

Because of molts, the big boys stock pile their eggs. An egg will last up to 6 months in "A" quality condition if properly refrigerated. The sell by date you see on the package isn't 30 days from the day the egg was laid. It is 30 days since the egg was candled (checked for freshness) and packaged. As long as the egg is still in "A" quality condition, it can be packaged and sold in the store no matter how old it is. So, with most companies, the eggs you see on the store shelf can be anywhere from 1 day to 6 months old before they hit the shelves. 

We don't have the space to stock pile, and we really aren't interested in doing that. One of the draws to our eggs is that they are actually fresh eggs. When we take them to the markets or to the stores, they are rarely over a week old, and often we are reaching under the hens that day to fill an order. The longest we've ever had an egg on the property is 3 weeks, and that was when we were first starting. We don't have room for more than  2 weeks of production right now. If we get to many, the local food pantries and soup kitchens usually wind up with the extras.

Please be patient and keep looking for our eggs on the store shelves! It will be worth the wait!

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


No more carrying water from inside the house to my parched garden at my farmer's house! Hallelujah!

Now what am I going to do for a work out?

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

They Are Going to Live!

Getting lots of new green leaves growing on the apple trees! I'm so happy. I wasn't sure they would live!

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Winter Tomatoes and Cucumbers

I'm so excited! I don't miss the moldy basement, the crumbling plaster or the impossibility of heating or cooling the old monstrosity of a farm house that was the family home, but there are a lot of things I do miss. The big south window is one of those things. When the kids were growing up, I used to plant tomatoes and cucumbers in five gallon buckets in August and bring them in just before the first frost. From there on, the kids and I played "bee" with q-tips to pollinate the flowers and we would have tomatoes and cucumbers all winter long. If you've been reading this blog for very long, you know that my farmer has a big south window. Today I made myself a trash can planter that I can move inside this winter. Here's the pictures:

A few years back, a fellow farmer's market vendor had some trash cans that she wanted to sell for $1 each. Not being able to resist such a bargain, I brought them home. Grampa Tom said "WHAT are you going to do with those?" He has no imagination! They hold trash, and flour and all sorts of stuff you don't want mice in! And now this one is becoming a window level planter for the winter. It has wheels so it will be fairly easy to get it into the house come winter.

I didn't want to spend big time bucks for enough potting soil to fill it so I took some ideas from straw bale gardening, ( http://www.no-dig-vegetablegarden.com/straw-bale-gardening.html ) my mailman's method of creating compost, and my own experience to create a growing medium that I think will work. (I cook like that too. Grampa Tom complains that you never know what I'll come up with!) 



manure from our pile.

some old plastic potato sacks.

and enough rocks, bricks and broken pottery to cover the bottom of the trash can.

First I created a place for water to drain to by covering the rocks and broken pottery with the old potato sacks. This will help keep the dirt from filling in the cracks between the material in my drainage area.

Then I layered it with manure

and straw

and manure

and straw

and manure

more straw

Then just for good measure, I topped it with a thick layer of Miracle Grow potting soil.

Then I filled my 2 gallon watering can

and poured it in the trash can.

I put the top on the trash can so nature can do it's magic. I hope it is done composting in the next month to 6 weeks.

Really should have prepared my planter at least a month ago, but since I just now got all this figured out, I decided to plant my seed in some growing pots for right now. I really should find some sort of tomato plant that is bred for container gardening, but I really like those Cherokee Purple tomatoes so I'm going for it. I did have some bush cucumbers. I planted these outside this summer and they do have a bit of a vine on them, but it ought to work.  I plan to put a tomato plant on one side and a cucumber plant on the other side. I will have to figure out some sort of trellising system., but I've got a while before I have to worry about that.

Will keep you posted as things develop!

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue