Who loves barbecue?

Who doesn’t want to spend time outside in the heat by the grill? Who doesn’t want to heat up your house by using the oven in July? Me…. that’s who?

Here’s one of our new favorite recipes for barbecue. It uses a beef roast and a slow cooker to make tender, shredded meat with that comforting flavor you love. Served on a bun as a sandwich or by itself, it’s an easy alternative to pork. It can also be put together in advance. If there’s any leftover it freezes well. We go traditional with baked beans, coleslaw and macaroni and cheese. How will you serve it?

Shredded Barbecue Beef
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
This recipe is easily halved for smaller roasts.

1 – 4 to 5lb boneless beef roast cut into 2 pieces (or 2 smaller roasts equaling approx 4-5lbs)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika – we use half smoked paprika and half regular paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup ketchup
1 and 1/4 cups coffee
1/4 cup dark brown sugar or molasses or sorghum
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon brown mustard
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon hot sauce (we use Louisiana)
½ teaspoon liquid smoke
1 onion, thinly sliced

In the bottom of a slow cooker stir together ketchup, coffee, brown sugar, mustard, cider vinegar, hot sauce and liquid smoke until well mixed.

Place onion slices in the bottom of the slow cooker.

In a small bowl mix together chili powder, paprika and salt. Dry meat with a paper towel and rub spice mixture over it.

Put meat on top of the onions in the bottom of your pot.

Cook on low 7-8 hours or on high 3-4 hours until meat shreds easily with a fork. Shred meat and stir it back into the sauce with the onions. May be served with toasted slider buns or split sandwich rolls.

*For better flavor put together recipe in your slow cooker and refrigerate the insert with your meat and sauce for several days before cooking.


Chili is one of our favorites winter dishes. Comforting and hot, it’s easy to put together for a meal now and to freeze for meals later. This recipe has been my go-to for years. I add cubed butternut squash to cook during the last hour and top it with avocado for additional nutrients. Of course, corn chips or tortilla chips for crunch are tasty too!

For those who already have a favorite chili recipe, scroll down for a chili seasoning packet and a simple formula for using it.

Easy, Yummy Chili

In a 6-quart slow cooker combine:
3 lbs ground beef, browned and drained if needed
3 cans of beans, kidney, pinto or black, drained and rinsed
4 cans of diced, no salt added tomatoes
1 tablespoon honey

Mix the following spices together in a bowl then stir into the beef mixture:
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons cumin
½ to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, less or more to taste
2 teaspoons salt, more or less to taste

Cook in the slow cooker on high 6 hours or on low 12 hours until the tomatoes and beef are similar in color and the ingredients combine to look like chili.

This makes very thick chili. We like to serve it with diced avocado. You can top it with corn chips, tortilla chips, crackers, grated cheese, sour cream, and/or pickled or fresh jalapeno slices for a make your own chili buffet. It also freezes well. Just use it in 3 months for the best taste.

Variation to add butternut squash:
Add 1 additional seasoning packet of spices to the pot at the beginning. Omit the honey. 1 hour before serving if cooking on high power (2 hours before it’s cooking on low power) add one butternut squash that has been peeled and cut into small cubes to the pot. Serve when the squash is fork tender.

For 1 chili seasoning packet (Adapted from the Make a Mix Cookbook)
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
½ to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, less or more to taste
¾ teapoons salt (we use no salt tomatoes so that we can control the amount and type of salt – you may need to add more or less to your taste)
1 teaspoon honey

Chili formula, from my friend, Ann Boyd
1 pound of ground beef, browned and drained (if needed)
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of beans, rinsed and drained
1 chili seasoning packet
If using more than 3lbs of meat, add an additional seasoning packet for the pot. You may also want to add an additional can of tomatoes for a slightly thinner consistency.

This formula can be used to make chili for a crowd. You may want to add additional diced tomatoes and additional seasoning packets to reach your desired consistency and spice level.

Spring green up is on!

After a long, cold winter the fields are greening up nicely. They are not quite ready for the cows to begin the grazing rotation because the grass still needs to grow but the color seems to change overnight. Fortunately, we have been able to purchase additional hay for them. They are tired of hay and let Jonathan know it when he checks on them each day, but they could damage the fields if turned in now.

Jonathan sowed fields 4 and 5 with clover, and it is beginning to sprout. The cover crop planted last fall in field 1 is also greening up nicely.

Some of the tree have buds on them. The buttercups are blooming. The honeybees are on the hunt for any available pollen. Theodora still enjoys some of her meals in the yard. It is still a bit chilly for reports to resume from the front porch, but spring is in the air!

Nuclear Hives

Well, they’re actually nucleus hives, or nucs for short; they’re not radioactive or anything.  These are small hives that we have been experimenting with this year.  They are housed in a hive that holds 5 frames, or half the number of frames of our regular hive body.  This means less space to heat and cool and defend.  We set these guys up and let them make their own queen and work on building their hive.  This gives us a kind of insurance policy.  So without a nuc, if we were to loose a queen in a large hive there would be three options to choose from:

1 Do nothing.  The hive would likely die and we would loose any honey/pollen/nectar that was stored due to robbing.

2 Order a queen.  She would take a few days to get here and take a couple of days to start laying, so for about $30 we would only have about 5-7 days of no production of new bees.

3 Let them make their own queen.  This takes some manipulation time on the beekeeper’s part, but is doable.  It takes a hive about 30 days from starting to raise a queen ’till she starts laying, then another 25 days or so until the eggs she laid start hatching.

With a nuc handy, as soon as I realize there’s no queen in a large hive, I can use the queen from the nuc and put her in the hive that’s missing one and get them right back on track.  While it may not seem like a huge difference in choices, if your honey flow is only 30 days long like it is some spring seasons, you can’t afford to miss any days of production or you could miss out on honey for the entire year!

This is how we use our nucs as another tool in our management practices.

Spring chickens are finished

We have completed our raising and harvest of our spring batch of chickens.  They averaged 5 lbs and we were very pleased with the way they turned out.  We used a new hatchery as well as a new pen design and thankfully it all worked out great!

If you’re interested in pasture raised, organically fed chickens, contact us and we’ll get you set up!

Open House and Farm

Dear Friends,

I learned recently from Southern Living that the word “porch” can also be used as a verb. Most of the pictures sent in the farm updates are views from our front porch. This Saturday, May 31st, from 6pm – 9pm we invite you to visit the farm to “porch” with us for our 2nd annual open farm/house.

You may want to bring your supper to have on the porch. We recommend the BBQ sandwich from Burnett’s, the Marathon gas station at Exit 31 (pickles on the sandwich with mild sauce on the side).

You may want to do chores with Jonathan around 7pm. You can help water and move chickens. You can meet the roosters, Rocky, Prince and Pierre, to decide which is the most handsome. You can gather eggs from the ladies. You can learn how to tell the difference between Spot and Speck and help move all the cows to new pasture. Or you can see the infrastructure that makes all of this easier.

You may want to do none of the above and simply rock the time away watching the world go by. Time melts away on the porch.

The real show begins around 8:30 when the lightening bugs begin to make their appearance. Because we do not use chemicals on our fields their numbers create a magical show difficult to describe.

We have a special on our grass fed/finished beef – buy 3 packages of ground beef or pre-made hamburger patties and get 1 free. Fresh eggs will also be available to purchase.

Rain or shine we will be here and hope to see you this Saturday!

Judith & Jonathan


There was a yellow-bellied slider (turtle) traveling from one pond to another sometime last year that I got some pictures of, but yesterday it was a different turtle traveling the same path. This time was an alligator snapping turtle. He was a pretty big one, the biggest I’ve ever been this close to. I dropped a quarter on his back and took some pictures, then after two attempts to get my quarter back I decided I liked all my appendages attached and let him keep the quarter.alligator snapping turtle

We Made The Paper!

Here’s the story from the Ashland City Times!

Field Day Picture From Times

Pictured are (from left) Phil Dawson, vice chairman; Janice Weiss, district secretary/technician; Edwin Hogan, member; Darwin Newton, member; David Shores, chairman; Wynne Luter, NRCS; Chase Coakley, NRCS; and Jonathan and Judith Smith. / Submitted photo


The Cheatham County Soil Conservation District hosted a pasture walk and awards day on May 3 at Happily Ever After Farm on Old Clarksville Pike in Joelton (owners Jonathan and Judith Smith).

About 65 landowners were welcomed by district chairman David Shores.

During the pasture walk, attendees were given information on a number of topics by special guests.

Following the pasture walk, the district supervisor’s grilled grass fed beef burgers that came from the Smith’s farm.

After lunch the district announced its “2012 Conservation Farmer of the Year” award winner — Jonathan D. Smith.

About six years ago divine circumstances led to the purchase of his existing farm, which under former ownership the property was used for horse pasture and livestock had unlimited access to the pond and creek, and pastures were overgrazed and compacted.

Smith attended Master Beef Producer classes and became a Master Beef Producer. In 2010, Smith began participating with the Cheatham County SCD and Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Since then they have partnered to produce a Forest Management Plan, which developed management strategies to meet his conservation and economic forest goals.

The district has worked extensively together in the development of infrastructure needed to facilitate a prescribed grazing system.

Practices have included permanent and temporary cross fencing, livestock water well and a solar powered pumping plant, livestock pipeline and watering facilities.

Smith has balanced his livestock stocking rate and rotates his cattle on a one to three day basis so to maximize forage growth. He has taken it upon himself to exclude his livestock from natural surface water sources. His pastures have been inter-seeded with legumes and pollination has been improved by keeping two hives of bees on the property.

A group of layer hens and multiple crops of broiler chickens are rotated behind cattle; a great method for cycling nutrients and producing some healthy chickens.

The culmination of the Smith’s efforts has allowed them to now offer grass-finished USDA certified beef, pastured poultry and free range organic eggs. None of the animals are given antibiotics or hormones. Farm management practices follow organic guidelines.

The Smiths believe firmly in the principle of growing healthy natural foods. Smith has recently applied for the USDA-NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program in an effort to further improve his farm.

The Cheatham County SCD also announces the election of Darwin Newton of Pleasant View to the district board.

Newton has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and biology and a master’s degree in plant physiology. He is currently employed by Western Kentucky University, working with the university and USDA Agriculture Research Service in animal waste management research and is the president and CEO of Soil Search of Tennessee Inc. (Enviromental Consulting Company).

The following sponsors made this day a great success: Cheatham County Farm Bureau, H & R Agri-Power, Reeves Septic Tank Service, King Automotive, Tennessee Ag Enhancement, Natural Resource Conservation Service, UT & TSU Cheatham County Extension and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

There is a new page coming!

I’ve fielded questions from several folks lately about some specifics of the equipment that we use here at the farm.  I’m working on constructing a new page that will list in all the painful detail all the equipment that I can think of and where we purchase(d) it.  It’s a rainy day today and I’m worn out after all the prep for the NRCS field day that we hosted yesterday, so playing on the computer seems to be in order.  I’ll see what I can get done today, but it should be pretty complete by the end of the week of May 5.  Here’s the link to the page: http://www.happilyeverafterfarm.com/equipment-we-use/

Bear with us…

Please bear with us as we re-work our website!  We were recently hacked and did not have a complete backup of the website.  All of the content is still here, but the visuals are not quite what they used to be and Jonathan is working through getting it back to where it’s easy to navigate and pretty.  We’ll be back up and normal in no time!!