Friday, September 8, 2017

Autumn is knocking at the door.

Yes, another Autumn is knocking at the door. Like many others, we are scrambling to finish projects before old man winter settles in. The pantry is almost full.....there are a few more things I would like to stick in know...for the " just in case" or the unexpected guests. Now that the temperatures are cooling down, I can start my wine making up again. This will free up freezer space for me to fill back up with a few fat hens. As I sit here with the news on...I am listening how our world is being beaten by one disaster after another. Wild fires, Hurricanes, Earthquakes, and civil unrest. One could easily throw their hands up in the air and say..." I give up, it is too much for me to handle, there is nothing I can do about it all" However..there is ALWAYS something each and every one of us can do. Financially....give what you can to help the people devastated by these tragedies. If you can't donate money..maybe you can go and help with the clean up. Still can't get away from your daily duties? Donate items in need. You can go to a local to you, Dollar General or Dollar Tree, pick up a few items and find a drop off location near you. Many churches or TV stations are setting up drop off sights. Still thinking you can't do any of these suggestions? Get on social media and look for stories of people that are picking up the pieces.( there are so many) Give them words of encouragement. Sometimes that means so much to a person who is down and out. Give them a " virtual hug" or offer them a prayer. Nothing is too small, and even just a few minutes of your time encouraging them, just MIGHT be the right words or time they needed to keep them going. Spread kindness, hope and encouragement. You just might save a life of someone who was thinking they had nothing to lose, and might have thought of ending their own life. Remember the words from a song released in 1965 by Jackie Deshannon.....What the world needs now is love sweet love, Its the only thing that there's just to little of, What the world needs now is love sweet love, No, not just for some but for everyone,… Now more than ever I believe, these words ring true. Lets all do our part and make this old world feel the love.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Well hello again.

I can't believe it has been a year since I last posted. So much has happened...Daisy( our cow) is now almost 2 years old and will be able to breed this fall....soon! I am excited knowing that by next fall we should have a calf on the ground. Hoping it is a little boy so we can put him in the freezer. If she has a little female...we will try to sell her. Oh! And this coming weekend we will be welcoming 2 new little guys to the homestead. We will be taking in 2 male Alpacas. They will add to the wool production. I am excited to get them here and settled in. So the wine making has gone well.
This is the Blushing Apple in progress. So far I have made Concord grape wine....blushing apple wine and strawberry wine. Everyone who has sampled it have given great reviews. The one review that I have gotten with every batch is.." If you distilled this it would be brandy" I guess the alcohol content is a bit higher than " normal" wine. I have a freezer full of berries now, waiting for cooler weather to start a few more batches. This time it will be Elderberry and maybe blackberry. So...that's about it for here....been working and taking care of the homestead...filling the pantry with home canned goods...preparing for winter.

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 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 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 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 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 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 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.