Chickens Love Colorado Springs!

IMG_2069-300x225Welcome to Hungry Chicken Homestead! Six hungry chickens live here as well as some other animals, and people who know where the food is stored.

The chickens love Colorado Springs and want to tell you about local farms and small businesses right here in our community!  Chickens know a thing or two about the importance of a good flock and good things to eat.  Likewise, people benefit from knowing their neighbors and knowing where to get good food!

Look around!  You’ll find stories about Colorado businesses and farms, stories about the Homestead and even listings telling you where to buy food grown or produced right here in our neck of the woods.

Wondering what to do with all that local food you can buy?  We offer food preservation and cooking classes too!

We hope you’ll find a little inspiration for your own story too!

Colorado Springs Local Farm: Mountain Goat Lodge

It was bound to happen sooner or later.  The chickens heard they could get better care (which translates to “more snacks” in the chicken mind), so they tried to send me to a class.

I went willingly.  I love classes in pretty places.

I went willingly. I love classes in pretty places.

They sent me to the Mountain Goat Lodge, a B&B near Salida, CO that really does have classes about backyard chickens!  Have you been thinking about getting dwarf goats for your homestead?  The Lodge also offers goat care classes!

Goat Closeup!

Goat Closeup!

Owner Gina Marcell teaches the classes and she’s particularly well qualified to help people keep goats.  She ran a goat rescue before she ran an inn, a line of work she got into because she had been rescuing dogs.  As fate would have it, she found herself taking in three orphaned baby goats; Tony, Sylvio and Pauly.

“I just fell in love,” she said.  “I quit doing dog rescue and started doing goat rescue.”

About five years ago, she bought the B&B and moved from Washington with 12 goats, 25 chickens, three dogs and a cat.  With 20 years of customer service experience, it was a natural transition and Gina makes guests feel at home.

Everyone lives peacefully on the property now, along with some new residents.

Everyone lives peacefully on the property now, along with some new residents.

She also makes breakfast …

We started with homemade yogurt.

We started with homemade yogurt.

And then we ate huevos rancheros with eggs from her chickens.

And then we ate huevos rancheros with eggs from her chickens.

And then we ate homemade cinnamon rolls!

And then we ate homemade cinnamon rolls!

I was delighted to learn that Gina also has experience as a barista!  I drank perfect latte after perfect latte.

And then I had to go run around with the dog.  That was a lot of caffeine and food.

As you can see here, I was the only one who had too much caffeine.

As you can see here, I was the only one who had too much caffeine.

We spent a lot of time outside.

These little pullets were wandering around all over the place.  Sometimes they would walk with us and join the conversation.

These little pullets were wandering around all over the place. Sometimes they would walk with us and join the conversation.

I also got to answer a burning question of mine, with Gina’s help.  I had picked up ducks for the first time a few days prior to our visit and was surprised to learn that ducks are squishy!  Was this true for all ducks?

I wanted to know if this was always true.

I annoyed one of these fellows by picking him up as a test.

Turns out it is true.  Ducks have a lot of fat and, unlike chickens, feel like a loosely stuffed toy bird.

We got to pick up the baby goats too.  They are not squishy, but they are extremely cute.

We got to pick up the baby goats too. They are not squishy, but they are extremely cute.

Gina loves working with animals and showing guests around.

If you go in the right season, you may also get to eat produce out of the Mountain Goat Lodge greenhouse!

If you go in the right season, you may also get to eat produce out of the Mountain Goat Lodge greenhouse!

You can tell she enjoys running her own business too.  She has dozens of improvement projects going on and is always adding classes and services.

You can stay in the beautiful lodge.

You can stay in the beautiful lodge.  Each room has its own balcony!

If you have a larger party, you can rent one of four trailers on the property.  They each have space to sleep three, a bathroom and a small kitchen!  Soon, a two bedroom trailer from the 1950s will be available too.  The Lodge offers classes, tours, a campfire on Saturday nights and plenty of time with animals.

Will my chickens get more snacks in the future?  Well, I was too busy playing with the pullets, ducks and goats to have time for a class.

My chickens will just have to send me back.

Colorado Springs Local Farm Mountain Goat Lodge Arkansas River

***

©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2015

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Colorado Springs Local Business: Cacao Chemistry

If you were going to start a business, how would you do first?  The chickens and I started slowly.  I took a class, they wrote a business plan. I started a blog, they worked on their antics to give me writing material.  After a year or so, we decided to try selling something.

Evidently, not everyone does it in this slow, planned fashion.

Evidently, not everyone does it in this slow, planned fashion.

“On Thanksgiving weekend, we decided to start a chocolate business,” says Sam Lang of herself and her partner Travis Ashing.  They didn’t want to miss the rapidly approaching Christmas season, so they set the Opening Day of their business for December … at the Broadmoor Chocolate Festival!

“We filed the paperwork and I made 1200 truffles in two days,” she said, without looking excited or overwhelmed at all.

I was sitting on the edge of my seat.  “How did it go?”, I asked.

“It went well,” she said.  “We got invited to participate in the Indulgence Festival.”

Sam made 2000 samples for the Indulgence Festival and began running out after 90 minutes.

Sam made 2000 samples for the Indulgence Festival and began running out after 90 minutes.

The business, Cacao Chemistry, makes chocolates with a European profile.  “I’m a pastry chef who doesn’t like sugar, ” explains Sam.  “I like a balance of all the primary flavors.”

I didn't know chocolate held passports, but I do like it when I can taste the non-sweet flavors in chocolates.

I didn’t know chocolate had nationality, but I do like it when I can taste the non-sweet flavors in them.

I had a really good time at this interview.  Not only was it fun to hear Sam’s subtle jokes, but I had the unusual opportunity to taste chocolates in the presence of the chef.  Good chocolate is as much fun to talk about as it is to eat.  Here are bits of our conversation about a few different pieces.

Sparkling Strawberry:  This is a dark chocolate ganache with wine and strawberry jam.  I bit into it and could definitely taste the ganache and the strawberry.  And then I noticed a fizziness.

“Is that a sparkling wine?”, I said, surprised, delighted and mystified.

“It’s unflavored popping candy,” Sam explained.  It’s impossible to make the fizz in the wine stay in the ganache, but the candy on top makes you taste it!

The Sparkling Strawberry is in the center.

The Sparkling Strawberry is in the center, looking innocent.

White Buttered Coffee:  You can see this one at the bottom center of the picture below.  It has a creamy center with high butterfat butter.  Where does it get the coffee flavor?  From the bean on top!  Nothing tastes more like coffee than coffee.

Colorado Springs Local Business Cacao Chemistry Assortment 8Peppery Mint:  This one is never exactly the same twice because the spices behave differently each time, even if Sam puts in exactly the same amount.  That’s half the fun.  One time, I ate one with a strong peppery flavor and another time the mint dominated.

The mint is in the middle.

The mint is in the middle.

You can follow Cacao Chemistry on Facebook to see where they will be or visit their website to order.  They are also opening a store on 6455 Omaha Blvd. this year.

I’ll end this article with another quote from Sam.

“I think I was born to be an entrepreneur.  I really like that part of it.  I’m all about the growth and being something successful, no matter what it is.”

***

©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2015

Join Chickens on the Mailing List to learn about Colorado Springs locally-owned businesses, keep up with local homestead & garden events and read stories about the hilarious homestead chickens!

Colorado Springs Local Business: Mountain Pie CO

Did you see this booth at the Colorado Farm and Art Market (CFAM) last year?

Maybe not ... It tends to be obscured by people standing in front of it.

Maybe not … It tends to be obscured by people standing in front of it.

Closer up, it looks like this:

These pies were baked and then brought straight to the market before they could even cool off!

These pies were baked and then brought straight to the market before they could even cool off!

The Mountain Pie CO has been at the CFAM Ivywild Winter Markets too.  I’m there all day since I work for CFAM and I like to wait until I just can’t wait anymore and then I visit with co-owner Tara Campbell and buy a pie.  I find myself a quiet corner and carefully bite into it (since it’s still hot from the oven).  It’s about the most satisfying thing in the world at that moment; tender crust, lots of flavorful filling and a good balance of flavors.

Look at the words imprinted in the crust and let me tell you why that is remarkable.

Look at the words imprinted in the crust and let me tell you why that is remarkable.

I’m afraid I must speak for a moment about public food enemy #1 of our era: gluten.  Have you ever made bread?  Gluten is the element that makes the dough springy.  You press your finger into well-kneaded dough and it bounces back.  Different types of flour have more or less gluten, but generally if you mix wheat flour with water and handle it a bit, you’ll get some springiness.

The pie in the picture above has words pressed into it.  That should be impossible, considering the springiness we just talked about, but there it is!  How do they do it?  Honestly, I’m not entirely sure, but Matt Campbell, the baker, told me it takes five days to make one of these pies and it involves something called a Scotch pie curing technique.

Whatever Matt’s secret technique is, it sure does make a tender crust!  Yum!

It's worth noting that the Mountain Pie COs pies do not contain lard, like many NZ pie recipes.  Matt uses butter and cultured sour cream for the fat.

It’s worth noting that the Mountain Pie COs pies do not contain lard, like many NZ pie recipes. Matt uses butter and cultured sour cream for the fat.

I asked Matt and Tara how they got into the Remarkably Tender Pie business and Matt told me  he is from New Zealand, where meat pies are available everywhere.  His mother is American and since he always wanted to see where she came from, he came to visit and stayed.

“I loved it!  Never had a desire to go back home … except to have  meat pie!”, he said.

He started making them and Tara tells how she thought they were all delicious … until he made the next improved batch.

From Matt’s perspective, “Our first batches were crude and heartbreaking.”

I asked how long it took to get them right and he said it’s taken a while.  They’re close now, but he keeps improving them.

I'm with Tara.  I think they are delicious right now.

I’m with Tara. I think they are delicious right now.

Mountain Pie CO officially became a business on April 19, 2014 and today Tara does the marketing while Matt does the baking.  He does A LOT of baking!  You can order these pies online, you can get them frozen at Ranch Foods Direct and you can get them at festivals and farmers markets, hot out of the oven!  You can even rent Matt, Tara and the pie warmer for private events.

“Unless you’ve had one of our meat pies, you can’t compare it to anything.  It’s the Rolls Royce of pot pies,” explains Matt.

I don’t need to compare it to anything, even fancy cars.  I’ll be too busy, curled up in a warm corner like a sleepy cat on a winter day, eating a pie.

(Note: All the pictures in this article came from the Mountain Pie CO Facebook page and link to their website.)

***

©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2015

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Colorado Springs Local Business: LN Signs

Will you indulge me a moment while I brag?

I got a sign for my truck!

I got a sign for my truck!

I believe that this may in fact be the BEST SIGN EVER!  Look at the size of that chicken!

Look at the size of the chicken logo!  (I take full responsibility for the water spots).

(I take full responsibility for the water spots).

This marvelous sign was designed and handmade by Ellen Cutting, owner of LN Signs.  (For the record, the original chicken & text was designed by my talented friend Lisa Pence, owner of Pence Design and the feather was added by local design firm, Helium.)

The chickens would not have permitted a logo that didn't look like them.

The chickens would not have permitted a logo that didn’t look like them.

I’ve wanted a car sign for a long time, but never set about getting one until Ellen contacted me about an article for this blog.  I met her at a local coffee shop for the interview.  When I meet business owners it’s a bit like a blind date and I have to figure out who I’m meeting when I arrive.  I found Ellen and we chatted for a moment, exchanging pleasantries and discussing whether she had any trouble finding the shop and then I said was going to get a cup of coffee.  Ellen pointed out a table where her husband, Geet, was sitting.

It was only when she came back to clarify something that I realized she is deaf!

Ellen communicates so well because she pays very close attention, a skill that serves her well when doing design work for clients.  She learned this in her youth, as a deaf child in a hearing school.  She never met another deaf person until she was in fourth grade when her parents enrolled her in a school for the deaf.  Her focus and intellectual abilities were so well developed at that point that once she learned sign language she finished K-12th grade in 2.5 years!

That close attention to detail resulted in a design I loved on the first try.  The colors, words, fonts and contrasts were all exactly what I wanted!

That close attention to detail resulted in a design I loved on the first try. She made my logo work on my truck, colors and all!  She considered things I didn’t think of, like whether the colors would show up on the gray truck and what size the words should be to be visible to passersby.

Ellen first learned about design from her stepdad, Kip.  He was a sign painter and taught her about layout and color for signs & graphics.

I mentioned that this is a family story.  Here is Ellen's husband, Geet doing the installation.

I mentioned that this is a family story. Here is Ellen’s husband, Geet doing the installation.

Ellen and Geet met in 2002.  Geet was a friend of Ellen’s parents and, as it happens, even though he can hear he knew sign language!  They had a lot in common.  Geet was also a designer and ran a business that specialized in fleet graphics.  They traveled the country, working the car show circuit and eventually settled here in Colorado.

Today, the two work together.  It’s actually remarkable to watch them.  Ellen designs and makes digital graphics, cut vinyl and vehicle graphics.  Geet installs her work on vehicles and can also do lettering.  They work together on communication too.  When one of them doesn’t understand something, can’t remember or needs clarification, the other steps in.

It was  a pleasure to chat with Ellen while Geet installed the sign.  We talked about animals, about design work and about how pleased the chickens would be with their logo on the truck.

And they were pleased!  After all, who wouldn’t be happy with such a well communicated message and the best sign ever?

***

©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2015

Join Chickens on the Mailing List to learn about Colorado Springs locally-owned businesses, keep up with local homestead & garden events and read stories about the hilarious homestead chickens!

 

Colorado Springs Local Business: Azteca Gourmet Oaxacan Cuisine

“I just love to make tamales,” says Lorena Jakubczak, owner and tamale maker of Azteca Gourmet.

Actually, I already knew that.  I had the considerable pleasure of sampling Lorena’s strawberry-chocolate-chipotle tamale at a lunch a few years ago.  Anyone who tasted this innovative dessert could tell the owner was enjoying her craft.

Dessert tamales aren't totally unheard of, but I had never eaten one before.

Dessert tamales aren’t totally unheard of, but I had never eaten one before.

Azteca specializes in vegan and vegetarian tamales, both savory and for dessert.  You’ll find tamales with locally grown vegetables like chard & asparagus on the menu, as well as a variety of fruit and nut tamales.

Some are traditional style from Lorena's family and others are her innovations.

Some are traditional style from Lorena’s family and others are her innovations.

Lorena is a native of Oaxaca, Mexico and told a great story about how she came to the U.S.

“I came to visit a friend and met my husband!”

Nothing beats a love story that leads to a fabulous dinner & dessert, in my humble opinion anyway.

In Mexico, tamales are often made with leftovers.

In Mexico, tamales are often made with leftovers.

How did they go from ordinary married people to tamale innovators?  The couple were making traditional tamales for guests one day and remembered they had some leftover pumpkin pie filling from a recently made pie.  Would it be good in a tamale?  They tried it and it was a hit!

“That was our first American style tamale,” Lorena said.

American style tamales are an important part of Azteca’s line.  People tend to like the regional flavors wherever they live and Coloradans are no exception.

Knowing my attachment to desserts, Lorena gave me some to try, including a “pina colada” tamale with coconut and pineapple.  That was perfect for me!  It’s not particularly sweet and has just enough fruit and coconut that they balance.  The coconut bits were fun to chew… Ok, maybe I’m just gloating because I have teeth and the chickens don’t.  Nonetheless, coconut is very good in a tamale.

I also got to try a chard tamale, a squash tamale and an asparagus tamale.  Some had beans in them, giving them a little more heft.  My favorites are the ones with cheese.

Tamales look like little flat gifts when you take them out of the package.

Tamales look like little flat parcels when you take them out of the package.

The tamales are frozen when you get them and you prepare them by steaming them in the banana leaf wrapper.  Don’t eat the banana leaf.  It won’t hurt you, but it doesn’t add anything to the experience either.

The apple pie tamale has cooked apple filling and raw apples for texture.

The apple pie tamale has cooked apple filling and raw apples for texture.

You can find Azteca Gourmet at the Colorado Farm and Art Market and at vegetarian specialty markets.  Or go straight to the website to order online.

Note:  Lorena graciously gave me permission to use the pictures on her website for this article.  It’s harder to get a good picture of a tamale than you’d think!

***

©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2015

Join Chickens on the Mailing List to learn about Colorado Springs locally-owned businesses, keep up with local homestead & garden events and read stories about the hilarious homestead chickens!

Colorado Springs Local Farm: Daily Harvest Aquaponics

“Water is the new gold.”

That’s what Gavin and Marshea Vitt told me when I visited their warehouse…

Wait!  Stop, you say.  Warehouse?  I thought you said this was a farm!

It is a farm.

It is a farm.

Daily Harvest Aquaponics is a rare bird.  It’s an aquaponic farm inside of a warehouse.

Tilapia will tell you all about it.

Tilapia will tell you all about it.

An aquaponic system circulates water from fish to plants and back again.  The fish make the water nutritious for the plants and the plants make the water clean for the fish.  And it uses 10% of the water needed for land farming!

Like this!

Like this!  (The green things at the bottom aren’t cucumbers.  They’re bacteria added to change the nitrites to nitrates.)

I was struck by how clean this system is.  The Daily Harvest system filters out all the fish poop before sending the water to the plants.

Special tanks clean it up.

This is a lot cleaner than my chicken coop to compost system.

“So how did you find yourself in the world of aquaponic farming?”, I asked them.

“My first exposure to aquaponics was in an in-flight magazine on an airplane about two years ago,” responded Gavin.

That’s not the answer I expected!  Both Gavin’s and Marshea’s families have their roots in agriculture, but I guess in these high-tech days new ideas come from places our ancestors never even knew would exist!

For example, none of our great-grandmothers would recognize these high-tech, full-spectrum grow lights.

For example, none of our great-grandmothers would recognize these high-tech, full-spectrum color grow lights.

Gavin remembered the aquaponics article when his parents were trying to sell a warehouse during the real estate downturn.  It was a perfect fit!  Most aquaponics systems are set up in greenhouses, but he knew it could work in a warehouse.  They took classes, hired consultants who knew how to set up a successful warehouse system and ordered equipment!

It was a lot of equipment and, like all business investments, something of an act of faith in its potential for success.

It was a lot of equipment and, like all business investments, something of an act of faith in its potential for success.  “We believe in this and we’re committed,” says Gavin.

“The system was delivered on April Fools Day of 2014,” Marshea quipped.  She quit her corporate job to work on it with Gavin and his parents.

“It’s very, very different and it’s enabled me to do some things I really wanted to do,” she said of being part of the family business.  “I’ve been able to balance work and life much more easily.  Not to mention, our kids eat so well!”

They harvest vegetables every day.

They harvest vegetables every day.

The whole system is pretty fascinating.  It’s not certified organic, but the fish keep these farmers on a careful, bio-secure path.  The fish are adamant that they not add anything to the system that kills fish.  That means using natural pest control, like introducing ladybugs to control aphids.

The plant room has a system too.  Each plant starts in the plant nursery.

The plant room has a system too. Each plant starts in the plant nursery.

I tried to take a picture of the fish nursery, but the fish were too small.

I did get pictures of the friendly tilapia.  They swim up to the window to visit when they see people.

I did get pictures of the friendly tilapia. Unlike the standoffish striped bass, tilapia swim up to the window to visit when they see people.

You can sign up for a tour (and more thorough explanation of how the system works) on Daily Harvest’s website.  Don’t just stop by, though.  These farmers work just as hard as land farmers and can’t be available spontaneously.

Want to help Gavin, Marshea and the friendly fish be successful?  Ask your favorite restaurants where they are getting their greens and if it’s not a local source, suggest they give Daily Harvest Aquaponics a call!

***

©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2015

Join Chickens on the Mailing List to learn about Colorado Springs locally-owned businesses, keep up with local homestead & garden events and read stories about the hilarious homestead chickens!

Colorado Springs Local Business: The Sound Shop

My late husband once filmed two of our cats wrestling.  In those days, you had to hook up the camera to a television to see the recording and he had done this with a ten inch television on the floor.  One of the cats sat down in front of it and watched intently.  He even jumped at a surprising moment in the action.

“So that’s why they never watch TV,” my husband mused.  “It’s not that they can’t see it.  It’s that there was never anything good on until now.”

I can only imagine what Spot the Cat would have though of seeing himself on one of today's televisions.

I can only imagine what Spot the Cat would have thought of seeing himself on one of today’s televisions.

I sent the last of the old televisions off to the recycler about two years ago.  I just watch the chickens whenever I need entertainment.

As entertainment equipment goes, this is more my style.

As entertainment equipment goes, this is more my style.

With all that in mind, you can imagine my bewilderment when I walked into The Sound Shop on Cimarron St. for the first time.  Action and sound surrounded me from every angle!

I didn't even try pushing the buttons to see and hear the displays.

I didn’t even try pushing the buttons to see and hear the displays.

I asked owner Patty Jakos how she came to be the the owner of this very exciting place.

“I worked here part time when my kids were growing up,” she explained.  “When the previous owner retired, I bought it.  I didn’t want to work for anyone else.”

It’s quite a transition to go from employee to owner, but she likes it.  “The nice thing about this job is everything we do is entertainment,” she said.  “It’s all fun stuff.  It’s meant to make your life more enjoyable.”

“Kind of like chickens,” I thought to myself.

The Sound Shop sells all kinds of stuff, from home theater systems to simple speakers.

The Sound Shop sells all kinds of stuff, from home theater systems to simple speakers.

We talked a long time about the things you can buy from this locally owned shop.  They have equipment all along the cost spectrum.  They have televisions and sound systems and the equipment you need to network it all together.

They even have some used equipment on hand.

They even have some used equipment on hand.

Now you might wonder why you should go there instead of just ordering off the Internet.  I could tell you how The Sound Shop saves you from a lot of time spent doing research and from making mistakes because they already have the expertise to build what you want.  I could tell you how they know how to work within your budget.  Or I could tell you this story…

My house has speakers in the ceiling.  I know where they connect, but I have never seen this particular type of connector in my life.  Several people have attempted to figure out how I could make those speakers useful, but they still languish, unused and mysterious.

I told Patty about this and she told me about a service they offer.  A technician from the shop comes out to your house, looks at whatever you want to do and makes recommendations.  They do this for free.

I made an appointment and Scott the Technician came out.  He showed up on time, looked at the connectors and then explained exactly what I would need.  When he got back to the shop he sent me a quote for the equipment, which they would come out and install.  In one fell swoop, he solved the mystery!

You can stop in at The Sound Shop to have your own mysteries resolved.  It makes sense.  Why spend a lot of time researching and buying from someone far away when you can get what you want a lot faster and with less risk by buying local?

***

©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2015

Join Chickens on the Mailing List to learn about Colorado Springs locally-owned businesses, keep up with local homestead & garden events and read stories about the hilarious homestead chickens!

Colorado Springs Local Farm: Hi Plains Dairy

I like taking pictures of goats and cows.  Something like this often happens.

Close

Close

Closer

Closer

Way too close!

Way too close!

As you can see, they are curious animals.

I recently got to visit with a whole lot of goats and cows at the Hi Plains Dairy.  Hi Plains Dairy is located in Calhan, CO and run by Jim and Angela Smith.  They offer goat milk, cows milk and yogurt.  You can buy the yogurt in select stores, but you have to be a shareholder to get the milk.  Why?  Because it’s raw!

They have a big, professional bulk tank for your milk.  This milk in bags was going home with one of the owners.

They have a big, professional bulk tank for your milk. This milk in bags was going home with Dustin.  It was the only time I actually saw any milk because most milk goes right from the milking machine into the tank.

The bulk tank is an important part of milk production for a facility that has 25 cows and 130 goats.  Milk tastes a lot better if it’s cooled very quickly and the tank gets it from animal body temperature to 45º in 40 minutes!

Co-owner Dustin Davis took us on a tour.  We went through one door and were greeted by lots of goats.

Dustin Davis took us on a tour. We went through one door and were greeted by lots of goats.

Goats.

Goats.

Goats.

Goats.

And more goats!

And more goats!

As you can imagine, there are lots of shenanigans going on in such a place.

Like this!

Like this!

Dustin warned us about one shenanigan.  It’s a good idea to refrain from petting the adorable baby calves’ heads.  Why?  It’s because they like it, not just as calves, but when they grow up too!

"Be careful!", he yelled out when this cow tried to get my friend to pet her.

“Be careful!”, he yelled out when this cow tried to get my friend to pet her.

As you can imagine, when a full grown cow rubs her head on you, you’d better brace yourself or you’ll get pushed over!

This goat would like to tell you why she wants you to get your milk from a local ranch.

This goat promises not to push you over if you listen while she tells you why she wants you to get your milk from a local ranch.

Even if you’re pretty satisfied with your grocery store milk, the goat above and I hope you’ll consider getting a share from Hi Plains Dairy or any of our local dairies.  They’ve got 25 cows and 130 goats who all look beautiful, sleek and well cared for.  Can you say that about the animals producing the grocery store milk?  I don’t know.  You don’t know.  None of us have ever seen them!

You can visit this dairy and you can visit the other ranches around town and see for yourself how well the animals are treated.  You can visit and pet and maybe even be pushed into the mud by an enthusiastic cow who lives in a safe environment where she lives as a cow should live.

Dustin, a former U.S. Marine who now serves his country by providing food said to me, “I love my animals.”

If we, the consumers, demand locally produced, organic milk from well-treated animals then we’ll get it.  Here’s your chance!  Contact the dairy at 719 499-7273 or email them at hiplainsdairy@elpasotel.net to set up your share.

And if you visit, be prepared for nose prints on your camera.

***

©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2015

Join Chickens on the Mailing List to learn about Colorado Springs locally-owned businesses, keep up with local homestead & garden events and read stories about the hilarious homestead chickens!

Colorado Springs Local Business: In Joy

I had yet another embarrassing conversation recently.  I was having coffee with Jillian Dwyer, co-owner and baker of In Joy Baking at the newly opened Red Dog Coffee in Manitou Springs.  Red Dog is owned by the Thomason family and David Thomason was in the shop at the time.  Well, I did what I do best and introduced them, hoping they might discover their mutual interest in good food and locally owned businesses.  So what did I say to David?

“I’d like to introduce you to Jillian Dwyer, maker of best truffle ever!”

I stopped, but it was too late.  The words were already out.  How could I forget that the Thomasons also own the Pikes Peak Chocolate and Ice Cream shop, which may in fact sell an amazing truffle?  (I don’t know if they have truffles or not, but their chocolate turtles are delicious!)  I tried to get out of it by pointing out that Jillian’s truffles are gluten free, but most truffles are gluten free and all I could do was cover the awkwardness by turning around and ordering a latte.

These truffles are what caused all the trouble.

These truffles are what caused all the trouble.

Jillian makes a lot of things and she makes them well, but when I have one of these truffles I hide somewhere so that I can give it all of my attention.  The chocolates in the picture are espresso almond truffles.  The center is a dark chocolate, almond infused sphere of perfection.  It’s not especially sweet, which tells you it’s not trying to hide anything.  Sweetness covers up the other flavors and it would be a terrible crime to hide the essence of these nuanced, delicate chocolates.

Here is the inside of this marvelous, dairy-free confection.

Here is the inside of this marvelous, dairy-free confection.

(After I wrote that, I stared, unseeing, at the computer screen for several minutes, daydreaming about truffles the way a child daydreams about recess).

I’m not only delighted by Jillian’s truffles, but also by Jillian herself.  She told me about the name of her business while we sipped coffee at Red Dog.  She says it’s not just the food itself that should bring us joy, but the spirit with which we eat.  She points out that in our day to day lives we get caught up in our endless to do lists and forget to focus on joy.

Jillian helps us focus on that joy by making foods that are, as she says, "meant to be eaten with friends". Here is her Unleavened Seed Bread, which you can buy as a mix.

Jillian helps us focus on that joy by making foods that are, as she says, “meant to be eaten with friends”. Here is her Unleavened Seed Bread, which you can buy as a mix.

The truffles and the bread mixes are available through In Joy’s online store or in Hunt or Gather’s store or Buying Club.

 You can also get this gluten free Farmhouse bread in a mix. It tastes just like regular bread!

You can also get this gluten free Farmhouse bread in a mix. It tastes just like regular bread!

I got to eat that Farmhouse bread with friends once when our gracious hostess baked one and served it hot, with butter.  We devoured it!

The word “gracious” brings us back to my story about David and the truffles.  He didn’t say a word about my gaffe, but engaged Jillian and her husband Chris in conversation.

That’s why I love our community-minded local businesses!  They don’t get stuck on social errors.  They’d rather focus on joy.

***

©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2015

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Colorado Springs Local Business: Romick Studios … Candy!

Call me crazy, but I figure a post about a candy business probably doesn’t need a lot of text. A picture is worth a thousand words, as they say.

For example, here is an articulate picture of chocolate covered rice crispie treats.

For example, here is an articulate picture of chocolate covered rice crispy treats.

I met with Kate and Josiah Gillette, a local couple who are living an interesting life.  Kate makes the candy and Josiah markets it.

“Why do you call your business Romick Studios?”, I asked.  It’s kind of an odd name for a candy shop.

“Well,” explained Josiah, “We do a lot of different things.”

It’s true!  They’ve both worked with the Renaissance Fair, in candy shops, selling roses and at other glamorous types of jobs.  These days, Kate works as a veterinary technician, a heroic occupation in the opinion of all the members of this Homestead.

Being a veterinary tech can be stressful and Kate says she started making candy as a way to relax.  It works!  I felt very relaxed eating one of these chocolate covered pretzels.

Being a veterinary tech can be stressful and Kate says she started making candy as a way to relax. It works! I felt very relaxed eating one of these chocolate covered pretzels.

I learned about their business when they applied to sell it at the Colorado Farm and Art Market.  The Market is selective about what is allowed to be sold and a jury has to taste all the food to make sure it’s up to Market standards.

It just so happened that in the month of January I was the sole member of the food jury.

That means that I have personally tasted every variety of Kate's candy you can buy at the Farm and Art Market.  I should come down from the sugar high any minute.

That means that I have personally tasted every variety of Kate’s candy you can buy at the Farm and Art Market.  I did this all in one sitting and then was up half the night running around.

Do I have a favorite?  Why yes, yes I do.

In my opinion, you can't get a better candy than one with dark chocolate and nuts, like this pecan truffle.

In my opinion, you can’t get a better candy than one with dark chocolate and nuts, like this pecan truffle.

But my favorite doesn’t have to be your favorite.

You'll have plenty of varieties to choose from.

You’ll have plenty of varieties to choose from.

As luck would have it, I didn’t have to eat all this candy myself.  We met at the Wild Goose Meeting House and co-owner Russ Ware happened to be in the shop.  I did what I do best and introduced him to Josiah and Kate.  Naturally, they left samples for him too.

I liked the peanut butter cups a lot too.

Hopefully, that means you’ll find their candy at the Wild Goose in the future.

You can find Romick Studios at the Colorado Farm and Art Market one Saturday a month (January 31, February 21, March 28 and April 25).  They may be at the summer markets as well and before long you’ll probably find their candy in stores and restaurants too!

It tastes as good as it looks, but take my advice … pace yourselves.

***

©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2015

Join Chickens on the Mailing List to learn about Colorado Springs locally-owned businesses, keep up with local homestead & garden events and read stories about the hilarious homestead chickens.