Courtesy Stephanie Staton
Crafting and cooking in the cooler months has been a tradition in our family for as long as I can remember. We gather at my aunt’s house to create unique ornaments and delicious candies that will be gifted to each of my mother’s brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews, and of course, we reserve some for ourselves—they’re far too good to pass up! Each year has been a learning experience—from painting miniature birdhouses to pulling cream candy. The techniques and tips that have served my mother and aunt so well, such as cooling the marble slab prior to pouring the hot mixture that will be worked into the cream candy, are filed away in my memory for future reference—information I hope to use and pass down, as they have, to future generations.
Much like those evenings spent crafting and candy-making, I’ve gleaned invaluable information from this issue of Hobby Farm Home and experienced many firsts: I made doughnuts (from scratch, no less); learned how to butcher and break down a chicken; discovered a technique for wrapping gifts with useful items, such as towels; and found this year’s gifts for several of my friends. (If you guys and gals are reading this, sorry to spoil the surprise, but I can’t pass up the opportunity to make and share these delicious cordials!)
As I mentioned above, my knowledge of the butchering process for chickens grew exponentially with this issue. If you’d like to learn how to prep your birds for the table, check out our two-part video, then read Rhoda Peacher’s step-by-step instructions on deboning, cutting and skinning a chicken in this issue. And, if you’re fond of chickens but haven’t made the leap to keeping your own birds, check out our new column, The Nest Box. Whether you’re raising a couple of ladies to debug the garden or 30 to gather eggs for market, this column will give you the basics for getting started with chickens in your backyard, barnyard or garden, as well as profile a fine-feathered breed that’s suited to the hobby-farming way of life. Columnist Sharon Biggs Waller shares her experience and knowledge on this “addictive” poultry species.
Each day I spend working on this magazine, I’m exposed to new skills and ideas that not only make my life more fulfilling but that also grant me the opportunity to make a positive impact on those around me. As the holiday season prepares its assault on our senses and pocketbooks, it is this experience that I cling to and hope to impart to those I love. Whether you’re looking to save a little cash, tread a bit more lightly on the Earth or just provide a unique experience for those you love, the information in these pages can jumpstart your endeavors this season and year-round.