Monday, September 23, 2013

Simply Back Yard Chickens!

Back Yard Chickens :

Growing up I had pet chickens as a kid, they were a lot of fun to watch and we enjoyed the fresh eggs. Back yard chickens have recently taken off in popularity. Recently Darrick and I decided to get some chickens for the fresh eggs. Chicken breeds are plentiful so you can spend a lot of time doing research to find the right one for you. The main choices are between Meat, Eggs, Appearance and Personality.

Care : Providing a home for two chickens does not require a lot of space we have a 5x3x3 foot cage with a  nice size enclosure for them to nest and get out of the weather. Chicken Tractors are another great home for them, they have wheels and are mobile so you can move the coop freely around your yard letting them eat bugs and naturally fertilize your lawn. Make sure they get fresh water and food daily. The food most often used is either a scratch or layer, layer is to provide hens with all the nutrients she needs to lay eggs and scratch is used to help grow and put on weight, another great food source is fruit and vegetable scraps from your kitchen, Your chickens can been seen of a natural way to compost!

We choose frizzle chickens, for their personality and the eggs, these are medium egg layers with a very calm nature, they love being handled and petted. They are also very cool looking with feathers that curl outward. Our chickens are only 6 months old so the hen is not laying reliably right now, it will take a few more months. Fresh eggs are so much better than the ones you get in a store, they even look different, ours have a more richer orange yolk.

Please share your back yard chicken stories with us today! or if you have any questions let us know.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Simply Herb Water

Refreshing Herb Water

If you are like me plain water can be rather boring, what better way to cool off in the summer with herb water. This is very simple to make just take a few sprigs of your favorite herbs and place them in the bottom of a pitcher add ice and top off with water.

My favorite recipe

Lemon Verbena
Purple Basil

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Simply Beekeeping - Checking the hive and bearding

Checking the Hive and Bearding :

Checking the Hive -We have had the bees for a few months now, and it is very important to check the hive every week to two weeks to make sure the  hive is healthy. What you are looking for to determine if your bees are happy are frames filled with capped brood, larvae, eggs, honey and pollen. You will also want to check and see if you can find the queen, she is fast so if you don't see her every time don't worry, you can look for her next time. If you see the eggs you know she is in there. Healthy larvae will be a nice white color if you see them yellowed it could be the sign of foul brood. The capped brood are bees that are ready to immerge and be part of the hive. When a bee comes out of it's cell, its first job is to clean the cell and preparing it for the queen to lay a new egg and for the process to start over again.

Bearding - When we first saw this outside of our hive, we thought the bees were swarming. Here in Tennessee, we are already having temperatures in the 90's and in order for the hive to keep a constant temperature, the bees will leave the hive and gather around the entrance leaving just the nurse bees to care for the larvae, a few bees to cool the hive and care for the queen. There are a few options you can do to help your bees stay cool in the hot weather, one is to make sure they have a good water source. Bees will use water on the comb and fan it with their wings as a form of cooling. Another option is to use ventilation. You can buy ventilated super frames or do what we did, which is to put a small piece of wood between the outer cover and the inner cover, don't make to large of an opening so small animals don't get in.

I hope you enjoy our posts and feel free to share your beekeeping stories with us!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Simply Peach Tree Care

Peach Tree Care

This spring, we started our orchard with peach trees. One of the first things to think about when planting fruit trees is to choose the right one for your zone. If you are not sure, just talk to your local nursery for advice.  Make sure its a nursery and not a big box store, nothing against them but I tend to find you can get better advice from a mom and pop place. Local nurseries carry plants that do well in your area, and they will have the knowledge to make sure you plant them in the right location and give them the right amount of water and food.
Here in Middle Tennessee, we chose red haven peach tree's, these trees do well in zones 5-8, are self pollinating which is good if you only have enough room for one. These are also great for canning. The best time to plant your trees is in the spring, you can also plant trees in the fall but these trees tend to be the left over trees from the spring and the best ones have already been purchased. Do not plant in the summer as it will be very hard on the tree and you will have a greater chance of the tree dying.
The first year for your tree is very crucial to its success, you will need to water them more to make sure the roots can establish them selves and give them plenty of fertilizer to encourage growth. However, do not over water the trees.  If you notice the leaves turning yellow-orange and falling off without a pest/disease issue, then you may be watering them two much.  Typically, they need to be watered every two weeks if you are in a dry spell.
When preparing the planting site make sure you dig a hole three times larger than the container size, this is also the time to make sure you amend your soil with organic material such as manure or fertilizer. We have had very good success with Ferti-lome Fruit, Citrus and Pecan Tree Food, this is a 19-10-5 fertilizer. If fact we can not only tell how well its been for the tree but also for the grass as its turned a healthy green color and is doing better than the grass outside of the fertilizer zone. The area in which to place the fertilizer is the drip line, the drip line is the very edge of the tree where water would drip off during rain.
Fruit trees are a great addition to your property not only with they provider home grown food, but also be a food source for birds, beautiful flowers in the spring and provide many years of shade for you and your family.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Simply Deep Dish Pizza !

Chicken Pizza with a Rosemary and Garlic Crust

We love a great deep dish pizza, and wanted to come up with a great and easy way to do it at home, all you need is a good large cast iron pan.

Here is what you will need:


2 cups flour
1 packet of pizza yeast
1 1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup warm water
3 tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
1 tsp Finley chopped garlic


1 boneless chicken breast ( cooked soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and lemon pepper )
1/2 medium red onion chopped
3/4 Cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 Alfredo Sauce
1/2 - 1 can of drained diced tomatoes
Bacos - sprinkle on top
  • Combine all the crust ingredients and mix well, once mixed knead on a floured surface for 3-4 minutes.
  • Spread the dough along the bottom and sides of the pan. Add the toppings, then place cast iron pan on stove top (medium/high) for ten minutes before placing in a preheated 425 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Simply Aphid Control

Rose Bush Aphid Control

Its getting to be great weather in Tennessee and I am having to protect my rose bushes from aphids, this seems to be a bad year for them. If you notice the leaves on your rose bushes are looking withered and see little green insects moving around; you have aphids.

Here is What you will need :

1 cup vegetable
2 cups water
2 teaspoons bleach free dish soap

Add all ingredients to spray bottle and shake well before each use because the oil separates from the soap mixture once it sits for a bit. Make sure you spray both the top and bottoms of the leaves, also do not use on really hot and sunny days as it could burn the plants. Use the spray two days in a row, it works by suffocating the aphids with the vegetable oil.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Simply Potato Cakes

Potato Cakes

There is nothing more southern than potato cakes, here is our favorite and simple recipe that will be great for any meal, whether is breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Here is what you will need:

3 small potato's shredded (we leave the skins on flavor but you don't have too)
1/2 medium onion (chopped finely)
1 egg
1/3 cup shredded cheese (we like to use sharp cheddar)

  • after you shred the potatoes make sure you drain the extra water out, this helps to make them crispy
  • heat a cast iron pan on medium/ high heat with oil in it, use a good amount of oil as the cakes are thick
  • Combine all the ingredients and mix evenly, use a measuring cup to scoop the mixture and place into the pan, you want the cakes to be thick
  • Cook until golden brown on each side, remove when cooked completely and place on a plate with paper towels to remove excess grease
       Server with eggs and enjoy !

Monday, April 1, 2013

Simply Tamale Pie

Tamale Pie

While visiting our dear friends Kathy and Ed Hurt, they shared with us a wonderful and simple  recipe. We always have fun cooking and having conversation over dinner, I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did.

Filling :

1lb cooked hamburger
1/2 lb cooked sausage
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 c. canned diced tomato's
1 small can of enchilada sauce
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbsp chili powder
1 clove of minced garlic
1/2 tbsp basil
1 green pepper chopped
1 red pepper chopped
1 cup spinach

Topping :

3 c milk
1 c cornmeal
4 tbsp butter
2 tsp salt
4 eggs lightly beaten
2 c shredded cheese

Combine all the filling ingredients in a pan and cook for 20 minutes, pour into a buttered 8x12 pan or casserole dish, For the topping combine the milk, cornmeal, butter and salt, and cook until it has a thick consistency, then add in the eggs and cheese, mix well and pour over the top of the filling. place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to cook.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Simply Apple Bunt Cake

Apple  Bunt Cake :

This is Darrick's favorite cake, and his family recipe. This cake is very easy to make and everyone will enjoy it.

Here is what you will need :


2 cups sugar
3 cups self rising flour
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
3 eggs (beaten)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups diced apples
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts


1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp corn syrup
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp butter

To make the cake

Sift, sugar, flour, nutmeg, together in a bowl. Add eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla; mix well. Add in apples, nuts and raisins. Pour into a greased bunt cake pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and prepare the glaze.

To make the Glaze

Mix ingredients in saucepan and boil over low heat; cook 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly. poke holes in the cake and pour the glaze over the hot cake.

Let the cake cool for a few minutes and remove from pan, then sprinkle with powder sugar

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Simply Laundry Detergent

Home Made Laundry Detergent

Here is a great home made laundry detergent recipe, this is an all in one detergent that will clean stains, and remove the toughest dirt. This costs around 20$ to make about 2 gallons of detergent and you only need 1-2 tbsp per load, this even works great in high efficiency washing machines.

 Here is what you will need:

55oz washing soda
4lbs baking soda
76oz borax
4 bars of fels naphta (grated)
2-3lbs of oxi clean
28ox purex crystals

  • Shred the bars of fels naphta and then combine all the ingredients, you may want to do this outside as it can the smell can get rather strong. make sure you mix evenly. use 1-2tbsp per load.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Simply Meatloaf


Meatloaf is a staple food in any household, and its a great comfort food. Here is the Simply TN version we served ours with cornbread and loaded mashed potato's, and I hope it reminds you of your mother or grandmother's recipe.

Hear is what you will need :

2lbs ground beef
1 cup chopped mixed vegetables (we used green and red peppers)
1 smalled chopped onion
3 cloves of minced garlic
2 eggs
4 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 package of crackers

1/3 cup Ketchup
1/2 TB Chili powder

  • For the meatloaf combine all the ingredients in the meatloaf, make sure all of the ingredients are well mixed. Then place in a pan.
  • For the topping combined the ketchup and chili powder, and top the meatloaf.
  • place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Simply Beekeeping - Feeding

Feeding the Bees

Update on the bees, we are really excited to see the bees taking to the sugar water. To feed the bees, you mix a 50/50 sugar water solution and but 1/16 inch holes in the lid of a jar, you do not want to make the holes to small or too large as it could either be too difficult for the bees to get the sugar water or flood the hive.

Follow us as we work towards strengthening out hive so that we can split it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Simply Beekeeping

The life of the Bee Part 1

Its getting warmer here in Tennessee, and on nice sunny days I am seeing activity around my hive. The main thing I am noticing is many dead bees outside the entrance of the hive. To some this may seem very alarming but its actually just part of the hive and the life cycle of the bee. During the winter cold months when bees cannot leave the hive some of the bees die and are left in the bottom of the hive, on warm days fellow bees carry out their dead sisters and also go for a cleansing run.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Simply Beekeeping

Darrick and I have recently decided to become beekeepers. A friend of ours is getting out of the hobby and has offered to teach us and get us started. With all my flowers and gardens, I figured it would be great to have these wonderful little creatures on my property. Not only will my plants benefit, but I will get honey from them too. Follow us and our beekeeping adventure as we learn about bees and there fascinating world.

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