Saturday, October 3, 2015

Chicky Baby

We've got over 300 new broiler chicks now out on pasture. It's our last batch of the season. Come on over to our virtual front porch and sit a spell! I'm learning  a lesson from our chickens...over 500 of them here on the farm. I'd like to share it with you!

Greetings from the farm!

Today we finished up the summer CSA season here at Colvin Family Farm. The last
Sweet white turnips, eggplant, summer
squash, greens, tomatoes, cucumbers,
winter squash, cilantro, and MORE were
in this week's shares!
deliveries were made today to Farmer's Markets and homes in middle and east Tenessee. It's amazing how the summer seemed to fly by! But the red and yellow leaves beginning to appear on the trees here on the mountain depict the ending of another growing season.

The fields still hold an abundance of fall crops, so the farmers are advertising a FALL CSA to begin NEXT WEEKEND. For more information,  hit this link to our website. Vegetables only get sweeter with a kiss of frost, so give it a try! We need you to partner with us till the very end.

The guys are busy in the field pulling tomato stakes, tilling under spent summer crops, transplanting the last of the late fall crops, pulling plastic and even dreaming of next year! We farmers are always a season or two ahead in our minds!

On the home farm the hogs are growing fat in the
woods, and the last batch of broilers are ready to be put out on pasture. The egg layers are taking a needed breather, so our egg production is down to less than half of our spring high numbers. Everyone seems to be slowing down.

Our broiler chickens spend the first few weeks of
their short lives in our brooder. Then they are moved to the movable pens that are pulled daily up and down the field near the house. They get fresh water and feed daily that is augmented by bugs, grass, and worms. These last 300 birds have never met their "moms"...

But I remember when we let our heritage breeds of
chickens hatch their eggs...our whole pen of chickens thought they were Mommas too! EVERYONE stopped laying, and EVERYONE mothered the new chicks. It was really interesting to watch. One hen could swell up and shelter a dozen chicks under her wings! 

During one of my devotional times this week I read Psalm 57:1. "Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be over past" 

My mind went back to those fun days of watching the hens mother the chicks as they scratched here and
there about the farmyard. Many times we couldn't see the "danger" the chicks sensed as they dashed for the nearest fluffy breast of a hen. But that didn't matter...the fact that the security was there mattered. Many times in my life, others don't sense the urgency of a situation as I do. Like one of those chicks learning about life in the farmyard, I seek shelter in the presence of God. All that matters is that I know where my security is! He is MY GOD...He has offered me the protection of His presence, and I often find shelter there. 

It wasn't always like this for me. God ALWAYS has loved me and offered His protection, but I have had to learn to trust. God has never failed to protect...I have failed to trust. Time and again He's been there, and I praise Him for it!

Often I would pray that God would remove the "chicken hawk" from my life. (Figuratively speaking) But instead He wanted me to learn to live victoriously in the midst of the learn to run to Him for safety. He wanted me to learn to cry out to Him, "Make me like You in the midst of my problems!" I can only do this knowing I am safely sheltered by God.  If God doesn't "shoot down" the "chicken hawk", I should feel perfectly safe and secure under my Saviour's wings even while the enemy is hovering over me. That's the kind of trust God wants me to learn!

Daniel, an Old Testament example, lived confidently in the very presence of the enemy in captivity. He spent a long and perhaps dreary night in the lion's den. When he emerged "no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God". Daniel 6:1-24 Oh, that this may be said of us! May God help us to seek His presence that we can rest safely in perfect confidence under the shelter of His wings! 

There may be a voice whispering in your mind right now (I've heard it myself before!) ...If you only knew what I was facing...this trial never seems to end!...I DO know some of what your are facing, for the Word says trials, temptations, hardships, and heartaches are "common to man". We are born into it. And there are times when God in His all-knowing providence knows it's not best for us to be removed from it. He wants to teach us to live victoriously in the midst of the heartache. He knows that great eternal benefits are being accomplished by our being kept in the midst of the calamities...kept in them, as well as from them. We can bring more honor to Him than should He remove all trials and pitfalls from our path.

So, come learn the lesson with me. Let us strive to be less impatient and less discouraged while we seek to be "kept" in whatever trials God may call upon us to live through daily. Let us cultivate, by the teaching of the Spirit, and the sure, unchangeable Word of God that determined trust which will enable us to say, "In the shadow of thy wings I will make my refuge until these calamities be overpast." 


Abundant Blessings As You Seek His Face,
The Farmer's Wife,
Val Colvin

Visit our website @

Saturday, September 12, 2015


The aroma in the farmhouse sure is SPICY! I've been drying all kinds of hot peppers...Habanero, Poblano, Chili, Jalapeno, and Anaheims. Come on into the farmhouse to see what I'm doing with them!

I can tell it's hot pepper (and itchy okra) season as the number of disposable gloves being used and left on my front porch (yes, we're still packing vegetables on our porch) is increasing. The boys are constantly asking me if I have a pair of gloves for them to use. I point to my box of size smalls under the sink and they try to SQUEEEEZE into them. It's funny to watch! I wonder where their size large box is?

Okay...these aren't hot peppers,
but are my favorite lunchbox peppers.
But really, I do love hot pepper season. I really enjoy how God puts color in our's like music for my eyes! The  oranges, and yellows harmonize with the reds, greens, making the racks in my oven come alive.

I've been drying tray after tray (commercial sized) of peppers to make our hot pepper seasoning that we sell during the fall and winter months. It adds LIFE to omlets, soups, Mexican dishes...just about anything!

You can do this too! Ideally you can use a food dehydrator, but if you don't have one here are a few of my "tricks".

Always use rubber/latex gloves when working
with ANY hot pepper. Never put your hand to your
face...did I say NEVER!? I mean never!
These Hobanero peppers are the hottest we grow.

1. Gather your tools: cutting board, sharp knife, colander, plate or tea towel, cake cooling racks, cookie pan, & RUBBER GLOVES.

2. Place your peppers into the colander and rinse them under running water. Shake the colander over the sink. Place the towel or plate under the colander and move to the cutting board.

3. Remove the stem end of the pepper by cutting right below the stem. Next, slice the pepper in half lengthwise.

4. If you want a mild seasoning, remove the seeds, and ribs from inside the pepper. If you'd like it medium, remove some of the seeds, but not overly careful to get them clean. For a hot mixture, just slice the tops of the peppers and dry them seeds and all.

5.  DRY:.

 In a CONVECTION OVEN, place sliced peppers on a cooling rack with a cookie tray placed under it. Place the tray in the oven and turn the controls to Convection ~ Warm (or slightly under 200 degrees). Prop the door to your oven open with a wooden spoon (or the equivilent). Turn on the exhaust fan so your family is not run out of the house!

In an ELECTRIC OVEN, do the same thing as described above, then turn the control to 150 degrees. Prop your door open again. Set a timer for 1 hour. Check the peppers to make sure the oven temperature is right. Your goal is to dry them as quick as possible, preserving the vitamins and minerals, but not too quickly to kill them either. Since there isn't a fan to circulate the air, it's important to turn your trays and stir your vegetables occasionally. Remove the peppers as they dry.

Chili Peppers

Most literature recommends parboiling vegetables before dehydrating. I do not do this. We haven't died yet...we eat a variety of dried vegetables in soups, stews and in spice mixes all winter.  I found it took much longer to prepare & dehydrate without noticeable benefits.

 I'm not against all the new safety steps the Universities recommend, but I learned to preserve food from the older mountain women who had been doing it long before the university stepped in to "educate" them. I used to watch them smile as they listened attentively, and then continue to can, freeze, and dry their food as they had for decades. I do make a few adaptions that have to be made for canning the new-fangled tomatoes with lower acid levels. But I haven't given way to the pressure canner yet. We raise and preserve our food with an eye on retaining as much of the vitamins and minerals while being as safe as possible.

Miss Bobby  learned to can
okra in the farmhouse kitchen
this week. From the look on her
face I think she loved it!

Life gets "spicy" at times too doesn't it? It's not just the fiery temperatures at times this summer that have made my life "spicy"...circumstances beyond my control...relationships that heat up...time pressures that put us in crunch mode...and other people's expectations of me and my family have made my life "spicy". 

A "spicy" life isn't necessarily a bad thing. It means that I'm being stretched to do what God is directing me to deal with. The Holy Spirit has helped me to face things I'd rather avoid lately...maybe that's why He lovingly turns up the heat a bit. 

Is your life "spicy" at times? Sometimes the "heat" seems almost overpowering? Decide to look at the circumstances as Christ does...a chance to grow closer to trust His provision of safety and see life through another's eyes and feel their learn to run to the safety of His presence. I said "decide" because we naturally may begin to grumble and feel sorry for ourselves if we don't. 

"When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame be kindled upon thee." Isaiah 43:2

Scenes From the Farm This Week
Freshly made bread ready for the Crossville
 Sustainable Farmer's Market.

French Baguettes baking in the oven.

Freshly baked and at market within 2 hours!

Allison & Faith Anne made blueberry
muffins for the hungry work crew
Friday evening.

The Farmer's Wife watering the broilers.

The broilers were taken to be
processed this week.
That means there will be
plenty of chicken at the markets
this week!
We raise our broiler chickens in moveable
pens. They get fresh grass and non-soy,
non-GMO feed daily. 

Farmer Steve cleaning crates. God helped
wash them as showers set in. 

Faith Anne, Levi, and Charity in the background
all cooked together several times this week.

Love is still in the air around
the farm. Isaac and Destany
have set their wedding date.
February 13, 2016

Each Wednesday morning we are open
for on-farm sales. Come on out and
visit on the front porch from 10:30 till noon.

What's for breakfast? Breakfast Burritos were served
one morning. I simply added taco spices to our home
canned pinto beans mixed with breakfast sausage. I also
scrambled a dozen eggs to add to the burrito.
I then chopped up seasonal vegetables such as tomatoes,
sweet & hot peppers, onions, along with our salsa, shredded cheese
and yogurt.

Warm flour tortillas. Lay a small line of seasoned
beans with a small strip of scrambled eggs on top.

We passed the vegetables around the table and let
everyone create their own breakfast burrito. 

My glutton free "burrito"
was made in a hollow tomato.
Since pepper season is in full swing,
my next one will be made in a red or yellow
sweet pepper! 

Abundant Blessings,
The Farmer & The Farmer's Wife
   Steve                    Val

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Lovin' It!

My Momma used to say we looked, "a bit green around the gills" when we had an upset stomach. I'm probably looking, "a bit red around the gills" lately, but really it's all the tomatoes I've been eating! :) We eat tomatoes for breakfast, lunch, supper, and snacks too! This is the year of the tomato! I'm lovin' it.

We eat tomatoes raw, stuffed, grilled, baked, and now I'm drying them for the winter. The sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil I see for sale have inspired me! I dry ours in my Excalibur dehydrator until leathery, then package them in extra virgin olive oil. Sometimes I put a dried basil sprig or dried garlic in with the oil. This allows me to use the oil for seasoning after the tomatoes are gone. Since the tomatoes are high in acid, and there isn't water in the herbs, this mixture can be stored at room temperature.

What's the best way to eat tomatoes? My favorite

way is to snack on the yellow cherries (Sun Gold)or perhaps my all-time favorite Julianne grape tomatoes, just like candy out of the cup they are sold in. I put the "cup" on the table and each time I pass by I take one as I'm cleaning the porch, which is still our packing shed. I'm lovin' them this season. 

Our award winning, best tasting Sun Gold
Tomatoes...Snack food approved!

In my opinion, fresh is best! Fast food in our house is
 simply cutting up fresh vegetables and serving them on a pretty platter. Last week we enjoyed and easy make ahead tomato "salad". While cleaning up from breakfast I cut up 2 large tomatoes, 1 cucumber, and 1 small onion. I combined all the vegetables and sprinkled them with salt and pepper. I put the mixture into the frig to cool while we went on with our day. By supper time there was a delightful "dressing" made by the salted tomatoes! This simple side dish made a crisp and colorful addition to our meal of grilled chicken without a lot of fuss!

Simplicity in serving vegetables
is my motto. 

Picking these tiny taste temptations
are a labor of love! Thanks Adam , and the other

A couple of weeks have past...

I'm finishing up this post while up in Massachusetts cleaning out my childhood home after the death of my father. I'm staying with longtime friends, and it's like staying with a special sister and brother. 

My roots...Kingston, Massachusetts...the bay..
flounder fishing...lobster pots...feeling the salty
spray on your face...

Rosanna made this special salad for me the other night, and I had it for breakfast the next morning it was so good! The recipe originally came from the Boston Globe newspaper, and had a title a mile long. I've renamed it in honor of my sister in Christ Rosanna.

Sister's Salad

For the marinade/dressing:

2 T. Balsamic Vinegar
2 T. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 T. Dijon Mustard
2 t. chopped fresh Thyme
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/3 C. Olive Oil
Salt and freshly ground Pepper to taste
4 Large Portobello Mushrooms
about 6 ounces each or some Colvin Family Farm mushrooms (the larger the better)

Whisk the first 5 ingredients together, gently adding the olive oil to the mixture. Pour 1/4 C. of the marinade into a small bowl and set aside. 

It's time to ready your mushrooms for the grill. For Portobello mushrooms, wash and remove the stems. Cut into 1/2" strips and toss with the remaining 1/2 C. of marinade for 30 minutes. With the gas flame on medium, grill the mushrooms 5 minutes per side, or until a knife inserts easily. Let cool slightly, and cut into 1/3" strips. (Time it so the salad is ready for the mushrooms as they will "melt" the cheese.)

For the salad:

1/2 pound a soft green lettuce such as Red Butterhead or Summer Crisp, torn
3 ripe medium tomatoes, chopped
Salt and freshly ground Pepper to taste
4 ounces Goat Cheese, crumbled

Tear and toss the salad greens, and toss with the tomatoes and 2 T. of the reserved marinade. Season with salt and pepper. 

Divide the salad among four plates. Distribute the mushrooms among the plates, and sprinkle with goat cheese. Drizzle with the 2 remaining tablespoons of marinade on the salads, and serve.

Note: Rosanna doubles the marinade and makes it available at the meal. Then she has it on hand in the frig for this recipe or uses it for salad dressing. Yummm!

Since Basil has been so prolific for us on the farm this                                          season I'm
including another of Rosanna's favorite tomato recipes...maybe I'll get to try it this week before I head back to the mountains of east Tennessee!

I did get to taste this yummy dish! I know you'll like it. I now need to give it Tennessee roots!

Fresh Tomato Pasta

4 large Tomatoes, diced
4 oz. Goat cheese, sliced thinly
1 Cup Fresh Basil leaves, chopped or in strips
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1-2  tsp. Balsmic Vinegar
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1.5 lbs. Spaghetti

Combine everything but the goat cheese and spaghetti in a large bowl and keep at room temperature at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours. Cook pasta, spoon room temperature sauce over it, and sprinkle with goat cheese.

Rosanna's Notes:
Alternative IF the whole dish will be eaten in one sitting (like at our house!)...

Replace goat cheese with 1 lb. fresh mozzarella (diced). Combine mozzarella with the tomato sauce. 

The mozzarella works well for a nice chewy pasta but if not eat right away, it forms mats of cheese and pasta; especially if you try to reheat it.

In our large family there is ALWAYS an opportunity to show lovin' to someone. Believe it or not we are not always easy to show love to. Some chore gets left undone, and someone needs to jump in and do it on top of their own numerable responsibilities. Someone leaves the kitchen untidy after making a late night
snack (more like a meal!) when they come in from a late work day or market, and we need to wake up to the aftermath...or someone decides they've done enough, but the work day is far from over. There are packed trucks that need unpacked, eggs that need to be gathered and washed when someone drops the ball... there are soooo many ways we are in need of lovin'! We're a regular family just like yours, only multiplied! 
Adam & Allison Colvin


Caleb & Shelby Colvin

Luke & Levi

Faith Anne & Charity Rose

(Oh...I give up trying to find pictures of everyone! Here's the easiest way with only two children missing.)

Starting at the right: Matthew, Hope, Adam, Caleb, Isaac, Titus, Noah
Faith Anne, Luke, Levi, & Charity Rose. Missing: Melissa & Hannah Grace, two new daughters-in-love Allison & Shelby Colvin

It's at times like this Farmer Steve and I are learning to love like Jesus. Whenever we see God's love in the Bible is not an
 emotion, but an ACTION!  This thought has driven me to look at ways that I can show true love in a world that has perverted it's real meaning.

In Scripture I've found many examples of this lesson Jesus is patiently teaching me. Jesus was a tireless giver...He gave attention to the needy Samaritan woman at the well. He gave healing to the dying ten lepers. He gave food to the hungry multitudes. He gave peace to the frightened disciples in the ship in the midst of the storm that raged. He gave sustenance and teaching to the crowds that daily followed him. And finally, "For God so loved the world that he GAVE his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth on him might have eternal life." John 3:16. This verse so graphically shows He gave eternal life to all when He chose to give up His desires and give His life for us if we simply believe on Him and turn from our sin!  And finally He gave direction to the crowds as he ascend up into heaven. He was always giving...He was always lovin' someone.

As a family farm we're in transition this season. Our son Caleb has chosen to leave the family farm and work for another farm in the valley. The heavy workload needs to be done by fewer hands and without the Farmer's Wife's help, as I'm away for an extended period of time. 

For every family there are days that are easier to
love than others. For us other than Sunday, there is only one weekday in which a truck doesn't need to be packed with fresh day that the porch looks somewhat like a day to have a normal evening day to get the repairs done with everyone involved. On the other days we are learning to deliberately show lovin' in action...jumping in and packing a market when you are busy canning or sewing...seeing a need in the field because someone else stopped short of finishing...calling home to encourage someone...or volunteering to take a market because someone is dog tired. Christ has called us to love.."in word and IN DEED". 
I've asked the Lord to open my eyes to ways I can
show love like action.

 Before I left for Massachusetts I couldn't quite get
this blog to "feel right" it wasn't posted. God had a plan. He wanted me to see this truth in action so I could fully learn this lesson by someone else ministering to me. Richard and Rosanna Buhl have enfolded me into their home life for almost 3 weeks. They seem to actively look for ways to meet my needs and care for me. Since I'm usually in that role, it was a process for me to allow someone else to do this for me. But in doing so I've felt the love of Christ ministering to my every need, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I thank God for them, and teaching me a vital lesson in lovin' like Christ deliberate action.

Is there someone in your life that needs a bit of lovin'? What is something you can take time to do for them today? 

Abundant Blessing,

The Farmer's Wife,

My big brother Ric showed me lovin'
by taking me out on the bay for a ride!

There were many people God used in my life during the past 3 weeks to teach me this lesson. God enabled me to clean out my parents home with the GENEROUS help of my home church family. A big thanks to my loved ones at Mayflower Congregational Church in Kingston, Massachusetts.
If you live on the South Shore and need a good church, visit this site for details about their ministry.