Friday, July 22, 2016

Hot and humid is making me lazy....

Whew! It has been so hot...and humid here lately. This weather makes me want to stay indoors. Of course...I can't so I just take it slow, and a little at a time. Yesterday after my first shift at work, I came home and changed into my work clothes. I headed out to make sure all of the animals were fed and had plenty of fresh cool water for the morning. The temps with humidity make for dangerous health warnings from the news. As I was finishing up in the barn, I grabbed an armload of hay for Daisy and Laura and proceeded to head outside with it Daisy was being a little pushy and blocking my way to the door. I nudged her to get her to move which didn't set well with her I guess. She dropped her head and pushed into my thigh. I have not had her horns removed yet and they are about an inch long. She shoved one into my thigh sending pain down my leg. I put down the hay and grabbed my "MOOve stick" ( it is a 1 x 4 I use to intimidate her..and teach her boundaries). With a good slap on her rump, she high tailed it out of the barn. After I set out her hay, I stopped to check my leg. Oh boy...she got me pretty good. I MUST get those horns taken care of...ASAP!
Once I finished with everyone at the barn, I looked out to find Daisy...she wasn't at the hay feeder like I expected. I looked around to see her at one of the water troughs, standing with her front feet IN the trough, with her head down, pouting. ( oh jeesh! ) I walked over and rubbed her neck, and explained to her about personal space and that she needs to be careful when she is demanding attention. I left the pasture, we were on " good terms" again. Once I got to the front porch, I removed my shoes, grabbed my bucket and headed to the Blackberry patch. Tuesday hubby picked just over a gallon from them but it was Thursday and they needed picked again. As I walked across the grass, it was relaxing feeling the cool damp grass on my feet. It has been a while since I have had the time to walk barefoot in the grass so I was really enjoying it. Since the Blackberry bushes are thorn less, I can pick from there in bare feet and short sleeves. As I picked, I snacked on those sweet large berries. I made sure that more of what I picked went in the basket and not my tummy. I was able to pick another full gallon. I am freezing them so that once this heat wave breaks I can start making jellies and jams. I will also be starting a few batches of wine soon. I have 8 gallon bags of strawberries in the freezer that I plan to use 3 for jam and one for wine. The other 4 I will save to use later for cobbler and muffins over the winter time. Another favorite of mine are Elderberries. They are starting to ripen as well. I filled a 3 gallon bucket the other day.
Now comes the task of de-stemming them. That takes a bit of time, but it is worth it. I will use these for wine as well. Of course I will save a bit of the berries in the freezer to make a tincture for cold and flu season. Here is how I make it...it tastes great...and works wonders! Gather your supplies.... Elderberries (make sure the area you pick from has not been sprayed with pesticides.) Fresh Ginger, grated: 1 Tablespoon per cup of berries (or 1 teaspoon if you are using dried ginger) Ground Cinnamon: 1 teaspoon per cup of berries Ground Cloves: 1/4 teaspoon per cup of berries Raw Honey, preferably local: 1/2 cup per cup of berries What to Do: 1. Gather the elderberries, or order dried organic elderberries online and skip to the 3rd step. Look for clusters of black berries on red stems to ensure that they are fully ripe. 2. Use a fork to pull the berries from their stems, collecting them in a pot. Pull out as many small bits of stem as you can, but don’t get obsessive about it. Give them a little rinse. 3. Add water— 1:1 cups water-to berry ratio for fresh, and 2:1 for dried. 4. Add ginger, ground cinnamon and cloves. 5. Bring to a boil on the stove, then reduce heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes, then allow to cool. 6. Strain the liquid from the berries using a sieve, pressing on with a wooden spoon to get all of the juice out. 7. Add raw honey– local, if possible for the best health benefits– to the elderberry liquid. Stir until well mixed, and decant into jars or bottles. Store in the refrigerator. Take a teaspoonful daily during cold and flu season. Make up some for your family...

Sunday, July 10, 2016

How does your garden grow?

Here it is....the 10th of July, and the gardens here are thriving. Well....most of the gardens are thriving. We have had a few issues with the beets and carrots. The first planting didn't yield much other than weeds. We went out to pull weeds and decided there were way more weeds than veggies, so hubby tilled it all under and we started over. Hoping we will get some beets and carrots this year. Yesterday I worked in the barn most of the day...pitched out the old bedding...laid lime..then put in new bedding. The weather was beautiful for working outside...temps in the low 80's with low humidity and a wonderful breeze. This morning it is 65 degrees...just beautiful. They are saying a high of 85 today and tomorrow as well. YAY! I did a quick walk through the garden yesterday to check on things...the green beans should start producing any time now, the tomato's are full of small green tomato's, the onions are about the size of large eggs and the potato's are finished blooming...starting to die back already. I just might get a second planting of potato's this year. That would be nice! As I was looking at the potato's and onions, I noticed that our blackberries were finally starting to ripen.
There were only a few..but wow are they big and sweet! I can't wait until I can get enough to make some jelly. I am hoping they ripen quickly since I am off of work until the 16th. Not sure they will be done in the next week tho. After I finished the barn yesterday..and finished putting up all of the animal feed, I went to work building a small scratching post/ tower for the 2 kittens. Now, I have never claimed to be an architect but they seem to like it. It ended up being a bit wobbly...top heavy really, so I wrapped 2 bricks in burlap and sat them at the base. This will work for now, until they get bigger. Then I will either work on a better one or just go buy one for them.
Yes, I know it leans a bit...but they don't seem to mind. Oh, I also had bought a box of commercial grade black lawn trash bags yesterday. I had read about making haylage in small batches for winter feeding. Since we only have a handful of goats, one growing cow, one ewe, and pigs ( for now) and chickens and rabbits...we don't need tons of haylage. Since we have several bales of hay left from last year, I am going to use that mixed with fresh grass/weed clippings and a few handfuls of corn. Layering and packing that into large heavy grade black trash bags, removing as much as the air as possible, then tieing it up for winter feed. I am hoping that by the end of summer I will have about 30 bags or so. This is a first for me, so I will report later in the year how this works out. Well, the sun is coming up...I better get this day started.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th everyone.

Today we celebrate our Independence. I was watching this video...so sad...a guy on the streets of LA was asking people randomly If they knew what the celebration was all about. Now i know they only show what they want us to see....and I am hopeful that the statistics they showed were biased..but out of about 15 people they interviewed, only 2 or 3 knew what the 4th was all about. Most of them knew we were celebrating our Independence....but not from who. Sad really. A few of them even expressed that they didn't care to know. Just that they wanted to have a party and drink. Is this what our country is coming to?? These were all young 20 something people...that will one day be the ones that run our country. :( Hubby and I are not going out to watch fireworks...mainly because I don't believe there will be any because of the weather. It is rainy, hot, humid...and the fog is rolling in. I spent most of the day reading and snuggling with the kittens....in between animal chores. Now the evening is here....animals are all secured for the night...and I am going to sit back and keep the TV turned up loud, so the dogs don't hear the neighbors fireworks. Next week we should be back to "normal" Hopefully everyone will be finished with all of the fireworks. Be safe....have fun...and Happy 4th.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Cooler temps....great for gardening.

So, today was absolutely beautiful weather. Upper 70's, a light breeze...ahhhh, just perfect. Hubby and I decided to get to the garden and " tame the weeds" Since it has been super hot and rainy, the weeds have tried to take over the beets and carrots. We started pulling....and pulling...then I realized that there were very few seedlings coming up. Way too much work pulling weeds for the very few seedlings. So, I decided we would be better off just tilling it all under, and starting over. And, that is exactly what we did. While hubby tilled the dirt, I got the lawn tractor and wagon and started loading up the compost from the barn. After he tilled it, I started laying cardboard and newspaper down for a weed barrier....then we topped it with the compost. We only finished about 1/3 of the area but I feel much better about how this will work. Tomorrow I will try to finish up the rest...then plant all new seed. The rest of the garden is doing just fine. Green beans are up to the third row of string....tomato's and peppers are full of blossoms...the onions are about the size of a large egg...and the potato's are just about finished blooming. It will feel good to start putting fresh food in the pantry again. I always get a little worried when the pantry starts getting low...won't be long...I will be able to stuff it again...I hope. So, with all of the barn cats having kittens...at one time we had I believe 20+ kittens here. I was able to find several of them good homes...and unfortunately we lost a few to illnesses. One of the tiny ones had been pushed from the pile and was so very weak. I brought it inside to nurse it back to health. It had a scratch in it's left eye, and was winking constantly so I decided to name it Wee Willy Winkie. After about 2 weeks of nursing it back to health, I realized Willy was a girl. HA! Oh well..Willy it is.
This is her with her momma and a sibling. I was able to get momma to nurse her a bit. This picture was taken a few weeks ago. She is much bigger now..and a happy healthy, playful kitten.
. About a week or so ago, I was walking past the tall grass when I heard a faint "mew" I looked around, and another wee little kitten came crawling from the weeds. It was dirty and covered in blue bottle flies. I called the momma cats over and every one of the swatted at the kitten, and wanted nothing to do with it. So, I brought her inside as well, gave her a bath and filled her tummy. She and her sister are getting along so well. We named her Itty Bitty Kitty....aka, Little bit. Here they are eating together....
Little Bit likes to sleep in the most peculiar place...
So, now we need to make a date with the vet, get them wormed and checked over then when they are old enough...spayed. The "plan" is to find them homes...however, " even the best laid plans can fail " I see us having kitties in the house for a long time to come.

Friday, June 24, 2016

WOW is it H O T !

I can handle the heat. You know, "regular" temps. NOT mid to upper 90's with humidity in the 70+. 20 minutes outside and I think I know what a lobster in a pot feels like. WOWSA! Lucky for me, I have been working the last few weeks so I have not spent too much time outside. UNlucky for me, I have been working the last few weeks....so I have not been spending much time outside, in the garden..and the weeds LOVE this heat and humidity. *sigh* Yesterday was my first full day off but I just couldn't stay out there long. I tried to pull some weeds from around the beet seedlings....I got about 5 ft. I was totally soaked in no time. The flies love this heat and humidity as well. I have been trying to keep the barn as clean as possible, mucking out the wet and dirty areas every time I feed, however it has not been good enough. So, yesterday morning after feeding chores were finished, I mucked out a good size area then spread AG Lime and put fresh bedding on top. It seems to be helping some. Today I am going to try to finish up the side the cow is on...that is where the wet is the worst. I have also decided to start feeding Daisy outside. When she eats, she tends to spill/blow feed all over the ground under her feeder and the flies love this too. I am feeling pretty confident that a few days of hard work I will be able to get things under control again. Well, that is IF the rain stops...and the temps cool down just a little. For now...I will enjoy my coffee...and kitten cuddles until it is daylight.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

"Busier than a one armed paper hanger"

That was one of my grandpa's little sayings....this is how he described Spring on the farm. Oh boy...was he right. Spring started really wet...I thought we would never get the gardens planted however, between rains I was finally able to get them in. The potato's were planted along with the onions, and they are thriving. This picture was taken the end of May..
I am thrilled with their progress...hoping that under all of that dirt and mulch,many tiny little potatoes are growing.. This is the 3rd year for our thorn less Blackberries. It is the first time I have ever seen this many blossoms on them, and I am hoping we get enough to make jelly. I am very hopeful!
The Strawberry patch has proven to be very productive. Over the last few weeks, we have been picking between 12 and 18 quarts every other day. This makes me so happy...knowing I have a small plot that just might make is a few extra dollars and provide ourselves with enough strawberries for cobbler, jam, and fresh eating. We do love our Strawberries!
Around the 21st of May I was finally able to get the green beans planted. Only 2 rows, however they are about 30 ft long and should produce more than enough for us for the year. After only 10 days, they are already about 3 inches tall...and looking great! I also was able to get the tomato's and green peppers planted and mulched. I had laid down several layers of news paper before the mulch was added. This should help keep the weeds to a minimum. ( I hope )
Yesterday after work I came home and saw that hubby has worked the large raised bed. All of the weeds dug out, and tilled the ground. We had a few storms moving in, but I was able to get some of the beets and carrots planted. I was not able to get pics, but I am very pleased with how quickly the garden is coming together. While mowing a few days ago, hubby noticed that the Mulberries were beginning to ripen. Looks like I need to get started picking them too. I really hope I can get enough to make some jelly this year. The pantry is looking mighty slim this time of year. I can't wait to start filling it back up with my home canned fruits and vegetables. The list of jellies and jams should be this..... Strawberry jam, Mulberry jelly, Blackberry jelly, Elderberry jelly, and grape jelly. If the apple trees do well, I plan to add Apple jelly or Apple butter to that list. For now...I need to get this morning going...daylight will be breaking soon and I need to get the morning chores finished before I head out to work.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

So many new things.....

Today, I spent most of the day at work. Nothing really exciting there...just putting together 3 ring binders for the next few classes of students. After work I came home and changed into work clothes then headed back to MUTC to walk the woods in search of the ever elusive Morel Mushrooms. I was talking to one of the guards at the gate this morning and he told me of a spot he had been a few days ago and was able to find 30+. I have been out a few times this spring and have yet to find any. Once I get to the area I wanted to search, I changed into my boots, grabbed my walking stick and onion bags and headed out. Walking through the woods is a great way to unwind from the past few weeks of stress. It is so peaceful out there. The weather was great for a hike. Temps in the upper 60's and partly cloudy. I start walking just taking in the scenery. Soon I came across these two old trees. Their lifespan complete yet still useful for small animal homes.
After a few minutes, I headed out again, eyes to the ground....still searching for the ever elusive Morel's. It wasn't long before I realized I had walked into an old abandoned cemetery. There was a sign off to the side, warning that these grounds are protected. Most of the grave markers were just thin stoned, the engraving long gone. I was able to read a few names with dates.
It was sad to see that this place was so forgotten. There was a single wire " fence" around the area...marking what seemed to be the boundaries. Several large trees had fallen across the cemetery, undoubtedly across a few graves.
It is sad to think that the families of these people most likely have no idea that they are here. After carefully walking through I started out once again...still searching for Morels. Every once in a while I would look ahead and scan the area to decide which way to go. That is when I spotted this in the woods.
Because this area is a Military training center, I am sure this was strategically placed here with a purpose. It was a little spooky seeing this laying off on its side and with all of the damage. By the time I found this, I had been in the woods a few hours, so I decided it was time to head home, empty handed. Another hunt, ending with disappointment. Not even ONE Morel. After I got home, a dear friend contacted me to let me know she had picked up two little bucks. One for her and one for me. Our little Herd Sire is absolutely adorable. He is a registered Mini Nubian with ice blue eyes. The lady we got them from said that our little one could possibly throw "moon spots" That would be fantastic! He is just a baby right now...but so adorable. I would like you to meet Lazarus.
Those ears! I can't wait to get him home...and love on him. I am hoping to be able to find a registered Doe for him by Fall. So now that I was able to spend a few hours in the woods..and unwind..I feel I am ready for the new week ahead. We will be working I believe 21 days straight. This will be a long few weeks. Somehow I need to get the gardens finished prepped, and start planting. Before we know it we will be eating fresh from the garden again. This makes me smile.