Thursday, December 26, 2013

What a year!

It is hard to believe that this year is almost over. Wow! One more for the books. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. Ours was nice and sad. We have 3 living children, and only one of them lives close enough to come home for Christmas. He came with his family...our wonderful daughter in-law and their 3 children. It was a great day. Every so often, little Kaylen ( she is 4 ) would come up to me and so sweetly say.. " Grandma, I love you" then give me a BIG hug. I love all of my grandchildren....but she knows just how to melt my butter. :) When the time came for evening chores, the oldest grandchild, Skylar, he is 13...went with me to get the chores done. He is such a great helper. He volunteered to break the ice in the water troughs and rain barrels and haul water to the critters. Even tho he is only 13, he towers over me. Of course I am only 5 foot MOST people tower over me. I believe he is standing at about 5 foot 6 or 7 now. Such a great kid. We had a wonderful day but it would have been perfect if the other 2 children could have been home. I will not dwell on that tho, I am thankful they are healthy, and have jobs that kept them from coming. So many are without jobs right now. So now that the "hustle and bustle is over...... I have thought about the new goals for next year already. I don't make resolutions...however this year I resolution is to walk away from negativity...and try to spread happiness and be more helpful to every who needs it. I also have goals..for the farm. I am hoping to get the new pigs into the woods. This will not be a small undertaking, however, it will be good for them and me. They will have more room to roam and eat more naturally...and will have the coolness of the woods. I plan to keep the pen they are in now, connected to the wooded pen so I can move them up for winter. This will keep them in a smaller area, closer to the house and make it easier on me during the colder months. Well, that is the plan anyways. Another goal is to get the small pond fenced in, and build a hut for the ducks. Not sure this goal will be reached, but, I am throwing it out there. I also want to build my Medicine Wheel. Don't know what a medicine wheel is? Well....let me tell you...In Native American spirituality, the Medicine Wheel represents harmony and connections and is considered a major symbol of peaceful interaction among all living beings on Earth. I am planning MY medicine wheel to be planted with Herbs and a few flowers...with my totem in the center. This is something I have been planning for a few years....collecting just the right materials , rocks and such. This is something I "need" for MY spirituality. Each one is very personal to whomever builds and maintains it. It will be a place for me to go and cleanse my mind and reconnect with Mother Earth. This next year, I would also like to plant more flowers. There has always been so much work on the farm I have not been able to enjoy flowers. It is time... I need it...the farm needs it. We also need to add a few more apple trees and maybe a few peach trees. Oh boy, the list is growing! Winter months give us all time to sit and think and plan for the new growing season. It won't be long before we are getting in the gardens, feeling the dirt under our fingernails smelling that sweet scent of fresh turned soil. But, for now, I am enjoying the little bit of down time...sitting by the wood stove with my blanket and my seed catalogue's and dreaming.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cats....hogs...and Electric fencing. Oh my!!

Oh boy....we were scheduled for 3 Thanksgiving dinners. As I sat here contemplating each and every bite, I worried of how hard I would have to work to get those pounds off. You know...we have to keep our "girlish figure" Hahaha. we were set for 3. First, in KY at my baby sisters house. That was a Saturday before Thanksgiving. Then on "the day" was ours with our children and their families....then the third in Ohio, with my husbands siblings and father.Well, fate decided for me, that 2 was enough. While at me sisters, I caught some sort of virus/bug. Oh, I wasn't the only one who got nephew got it as well. It was one of those sicknesses where quietly you pray for death just for a bit of relief. The fever grabbed a hold of my brain as the aches wreaked havoc on my poor old body. Fever ran between 100 and 103.7 It was a doozy! Of course, having a farm, you still have animals to take care, twice a day, I would bundle up, put on my "big girl panties" and head out to do chores. By Thursday I was feeling well enough to put together a big Thanksgiving social...then drop back into bed once everyone left. Fever raged once again. Friday, I thought death was coming for me, so I went to urgent care. That Dr had no clue...ears, sinus, throat, lungs...all clear. It was just a fever and aches...and Ohhhh, sooo tired. She wrote a script for the ZPac and sent me home. By Monday, I was still I called my family Dr, told them my symptoms...and they got me right in, but asked me to wear a mask. He checked the same ears,nose,throat, lungs....still clear...urine he ordered a full blood panel. ( Still waiting on those results) By Tuesday I was feeling better...the fever broke...chores were a LOT easier. Knowing to not over do it...I just did what needed to be done...water the barn animals...clean one small coop...feed and water...then back to bed. Today, Wednesday...I am up and...well..I am up. As I head out to do chores...let the ducks out, feed and water chickens...I head to the hog pen. One of the cats, Ringo...loves to follow me while I work. Now, USUALLY he steers clear of the hog pen...not this morning. For some reason, he decided he wanted to follow me in..well, he didn't know about the electric fence. He hit that fence, flew up into the air and INTO the pen...where he panicked..running to the fence line trying to get out and each time running into the electric fence...that old cat hit the electric fence at least 10 times before running into the chain link fence so hard, he got his face wedged into it. Luckily the hogs were busy eating....and he was under the electric fence enough where I could reach him safely. I grabbed the scruff of his neck...and pulled him free, holding tight because I just knew he would freak out once loose...and I didn't want to get shredded by those claws. I headed to the corner to toss him over, when he grabbed the tree and shot straight up!! *sigh* now I have a cat 15 feet in the tree, stunned, hurt, and scared. I went about the chores..letting him rest for a bit...then came back to him. I had to get him from the tree. If he came down on the wrong side of the fence, we would have been in for round two. So I had to wait it case I needed to unplug the fence. I couldn't leave it unplugged because of the hogs. So, I sat, and waited....and waited...about 30 minutes before he finally found the courage to get down. He is fine...just a little frazzled. Then off to the barn to finish out there...throwing hay, laying bedding...getting everyone ready for this winter storm coming in Friday and Saturday. Yes, I said "winter storm" Its all the the temps are supposed to reach almost 70 degrees....and by Friday..highs in the 20' storm, then snow on Saturday. Crazy weather for sure. I am so glad I am over this...whatever it was I had..I am still sore, and tired..but the fever is gone. I am going to head into town and pick up rabbit food...then come home and finish laundry. A good reason to stay inside. Take it easy, and plan for the Christmas parties that are coming up. *sigh* I still have to finish decorating! Running out of time...I need 2 more of me. :)

Friday, November 15, 2013

I like what I Like.

So...just a little back-round on our eating habits here. We have been married 33 years. The hubby was in the AF for the first 20 years. We raised 4 children during those years...and it was my job to make sure everyone was fed properly on a military pay scale...sometimes that was almost impossible. We lived on an Air Force base for many of those years, and were not allowed to have a garden. So, we mostly relied on what I could buy locally, or in the commissary. I admit, during those time I didn't focus on "good" food as much as I did on food they would all eat. I rarely cooked the foods that I liked, and grew up on, mainly because the hubby and I came from different back rounds...and our eating habits were not even CLOSE to the same. I was raised in the country...he was raised in the military. Yes, his father was a life long Air Force man as well. here we are....the kids are grown...the husband is adapting to my likes...sorta. There are some foods he will not even TRY. He is head strong like that. *shrugs* more for me, right? Over the last few months, I have decided....there is no reason I can not enjoy the foods I like, that I know he will not eat...if I make them for myself while he is at work. Brunch. I am talking about things like cooked cabbage...collard greens....spinach...pasta with tomato's. My case in's brunch.
Of course....most of my meals include...BACON! Glorious bacon, from the pigs I raised....on pasture. (grabs a napkin to wipe my drool) I started with bacon.....doesn't every meal start with bacon? If SHOULD! I started frying the bacon, and chopped up some onion....Bacon's mate. I set a pot of water to boil for my pasta. I know, pasta is not good for IS good! I LOVE PASTA! Then I set another small pot of water blanch my Collard greens. I wash and de-stem the collard greens,(grab s small bite of the bacon) then get them in the water to blanch, and remove it from the heat. Let those greens rest.( while you snack on another bite of bacon),remove the last of the bacon from the pan..and add the onion...just need to sweat them onions....don't over cook them. This only takes about ONE minute. Drain the greens, toss a little salt on them, and add them to the onions in the pan...and turn the heat off. let them saute just a few minutes. Drain the pasta...add the home canned tomato's and a few of the sauted onions..and plop this in your bowl..Oh, don't forget the pepper!! Now you have your collard greens with onion on your plate...add a few small pieces of bacon...toss it up good. Take the rest of the bacon, and make a sammich. No need to put anything on that sammich, other than bacon. And, there ya have it...Bacon sammich, Pasta with tomato's and onion, and collard greens with onion and bacon. Oh, the hubby wouldn't eat this...other than the least he likes bacon. If he didn't...well...I just don't know what I would do with him. I mean, seriously...who in their right mind wouldn't like bacon? I say, if someone doesn't like bacon....step away from that person...they are dangerous....something in their brain is just not right. So now I have a full tummy....I have the energy I need to get back outside and get busy here. The weatherman said a chance of severe storms on I need to make sure everything outside is strapped down and animals will stay dry. Never a dull moment on this farm....always something to you better start you day off....with BACON!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

First Snow....nice!

Ok, so...the truth be known...I LOVE winter. Well, most days of winter I love it. I don't love frozen water troughs...and the driving winds with low temperatures...but I LOVE snow. Last night we got our first snow. In my opinion, it was a "perfect" first snow. Just about an inch, just enough to make everything glisten and not make the early morning chores tough. It started last night....after midnight, so yes, I stayed up late to capture it. The winds were blowing pretty hard....
Caesar wasn't sure what was going on...he ran outside and barked at it! Silly dog...this is his first snow...
This morning it was so beautiful...just a little bit of a "dusting" really....
The first snow ALWAYS gets me in the "holiday mood" We really do go overboard a bit on the decorations, or at least thats what "some people" say...LOL I say, we have just enough, and there is always room for more. So in anticipation of yesterdays snow, I decided to start with the Holiday decorations....We put up 2 Christmas in the family room downstairs, and one in the living room. I couldn't help myself...I just HAD to get the one in the family room up...Yes, I am a big kid when it comes to the snow and holidays...
Now I have it started...and I am giddy with holiday spirit. Bring on the soups....stews...lights...and yes, the snow!!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Zero dark thirty.

Yes, that is the time here today....( actually 06:30) It is still black as ink out there. Temps are in the mid 30's so I dutifully put a fire in the wood stove. It is so peaceful here on the farm in the mornings....the animals are still sleeping, the fire crackling, and my cup of coffee, steaming and tickling my nose as I sip it. I love early mornings. I know a lot of people don't like getting up early...and say " I am not a morning person" However, I am. During the warmer days, I like to get up and take my coffee on the porch to watch this farm come to life. One by one I can hear the chickens start to stir in their coops...the Roosters singing loud and proud, waking everyone up. The ducks start to stir and make soft muffled to the distant...I hear a few grunts from the pigs...I don't think they are morning pigs. The barn kittens awake with more life in them than should be allowed. They scamper around...chasing whatever moves...a leaf..a piece of hay...momma's tail as she flickers it in distaste with their energy. Eventually the sheep start to the sun peeks higher from behind the trees...they stretch..and finally notice me on the porch...and call to me. Yes, mornings on the farm are wonderful....some mornings I just wish I could freeze time...and inhale every moment. Winter mornings are more hush...more muffled...seems every animal rises a bit slower...not wanting to leave their warm spots. I can't blame them...some mornings I grumble at my alarm...knowing that from under my warm blanket I will be met with a chill in the air...This only makes me move a bit more quickly to get coffee going and a fire crackling. Shortly I will be headed outside...getting MY day started. It is the weekend...after feeding and watering all of the animals...throwing a bit of hay...I need to clean under the rabbit hutches...and add more bedding. Then I will be off to the woods. Time to start gathering more wood for the long winter that is quickly advancing on us. I have a feeling we will be needing every scrap we can get this year. I sliced a few Persimmon seeds a couple weeks back. The " old farmers tale" is.....if you slice a persimmon seed, and see spoons, you will be shoveling a lot of snow. Guess what? ALL SPOONS. I don't know if I want to smile or not about that. I love snow..but as I am getting older I realize just how much longer it takes me to get these chores done in the deep snow. I will just have to prepare everyone as much as I can.Deep litter bedding...covered windows...heated water dishes and a good stash of feed for all. The fire wood is always a worry for me tho. My fear is running out. A few years back...we did...we were looking for scraps in the edge of the woods calling everyone we could, to see if we could get a load delivered. It was a cold winter, and no one had "extra" wood. I don't ever want to go through that, I "hoard" wood now...when I can. Oh, we have a propane furnace....but if the power goes out, that furnace is useless. Besides...propane is expensive, so we try not to let that come on...keeping it set at 65 degrees...most times it only kicks on during the wee hours of the mornings...and only until I can get a good fire going. What will you be doing to get prepared for winter?? It is knocking at our doors......It won't be long...until we will be waking up to this....

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Is Fall a busy time for you?

Fall can be a wonderful time. The end to a fast and furious summer of gardening, raising you farm animals and keeping them safe, fed, and happy, and readying the ones that are meant to butcher. I just love summer....spending time outside in the sun and fresh air. However, I have to say, Fall is my favorite time of year. Watching the earth ready itself for a long winter nap. Everything slows down a bit...the grass isn't growing so fast....the changing of colors in the trees and fields. I know a few people are saddened by the end of summer..saying things like " everything is dying back" or "It looks depressing not to see brightly colored flowers, and tall grasses swaying in the breeze" For me....I love it. This planet gives it's all for summer....feeding each and every animal and human throughout its warm summer days. She needs a time to rest as well. This is a time to finish up the last of the garden preps. Make sure to clean it out, and put down your mulch. Let winter snows and rains refresh your soils as the mulch breaks down. Don't forget to clean and sharpen your garden tools, they need to be put to "rest" for winter as well. After cleaning and sharpening mine, I like to put a light layer of grease on them to keep them from rusting. I have been busy here doing last minute repairs for winter. Getting the poultry settled in their winter homes...making sure they are warm and safe during these up coming cold and dark days. I still need to get out the poultry water heaters I made from cookie tins. These are great for keeping the waters from freezing, and making my job easier. I have been saving the clear plastic bags that the pine shavings came in, and I will be putting that around the windows to keep the cold winter nights out as well. Today as I came back from the barn....I walked by the garden ( that I have yet to clean out) and I spied a small bit of Broccoli left on the stalk. I quickly snapped it off. It isn't much but will make a great lunch.
I then finished gathering the last of the green bean seed pods. This years green beans did so well. I am excited to have the seeds from them for next year. Here they are drying in the house. I just string them with a needle and thread, and hang them in a place where they will get air, and be warm.
There is still so much that needs to be done before that first snow fall, but I am almost finished with all of the BIG jobs. Winter.....a time to rest our tired bones...use our brains for planning next years planting and dreams...spending time with loved one during the Holidays. Yes, winter is just around the corner...and I am sure you will read many times about how I "hate breaking ice in water troughs" or how " the snow makes it hard to get from one place to another" but know this...inside, I am loving winter...

Monday, September 30, 2013

Someone....stop me...

OK, So a few weeks ago I said " I am finished canning green beans" That was when I think I had 45 or so pints. I just picked green beans 3 days ago, and then again today....there are now 65 pints and 7 quarts ( in the canner now) for the pantry. SOMEONE STOP ME! I have left SEVERAL of the nicer looking beans go to seed...just looking at those long fat beans just starting to yellow on the vines...does my heart good. I am SURE there are enough seeds out there for at LEAST 2 years worth of, I feel I MUST pick what keeps growing. I think it is time to face a fact.... I am a food hoarder. OK, not a hoarder like...those people on that show, American Prepper. Nope, I don't have 10 years worth of food, and enough seed to completely supply gardens for half of America. However, I DO know what it is like to have REAL hunger pains...and know there is nothing in the home to you drink a lot of water. I know that pain, that fear...from my childhood. Hey, times were tough in the late 60's and 70's. My mother had 5 of us kids to feed, and mostly by herself. She did what she could...there were a LOT of meals of bean soup...or biscuits and gravy...but, there was food, maybe some times there was not a second helping...but here I am...alive....Thank you Mom! So, with that behind me....when I walk past my garden, and see those long green beans....waving at me....taunting me ...I MUST PICK THEM! And pick them I did. We might have to survive on pork from the 2 hogs we had butchered...and green beans...but we will survive the winter! Hey, there is ALWAYS the good old back up of bean soup or biscuits and gravy right? :)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Corn as high as an Elephants eye!

OK, so I goofed....I THOUGHT I planted sweet it grew.....and grew....and grew...I realized I had grabbed the wrong bag of seed. I had planted White Sure Crop. Well, not ALL is lost...although it is not enough to get all of the animals through will help. Today I set out to get the corn brought in. Making bundles of the hang in the barn so I can feed the sheep and goats off of it through winter. Here it is after I got it all pulled...into a pile.
Wrapped into sections...
Of course I had to give some to the sheep and goats...they were watching me gather it, and waiting patiently at the fence...
They sure were happy that I gave them some...fresh! I also saved a bit for the deco for Fall.
I have gourds and other deco I will add later... I'm telling ya...THAT is some TALL corn!!
And a bit strange..... From a patch of garden....maybe 20 x 20....I ended up with about 2 bushels of feed corn.
And enough for them to snack on for a few months.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Cowboy Candy anyone!?

OK, so this year has been a great year for peppers of all kinds. Jalapeno's , Banana peppers... we had more than we really could ever use. The hubby had taken at least 10 pounds of mixed peppers to work and passed them out. A friend of mine posted a recipe for "Cowboy Candy" or.. Candied peppers. Personally...I do not like anything super hot, that will make me sweat when eating it, or make my mouth go numb. Hubby on the other hand, " The hotter the better!" So when I saw her recipe for Cowboy Candy, I decided....why not? So here is what I did..... The recipe..... ( Yield - 9 half pints) PLEASE WEAR GLOVES!!! 3 pounds Jalapeno peppers. ( I mixed Jalapeno's, Banana peppers, and those super hot Habenero's) 2 C. Cider vinegar 6 C. Sugar 1/2 tsp. Turmeric 1/2 tsp. celery seed 3 tsp. granulated garlic 1 tsp. cayenne pepper Clean and slice your peppers....toss the tops, keep the seeds in them.
In a large pot combine the vinegar, sugar, Turmeric, celery seed, garlic and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add peppers and simmer for EXACTLY 4 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, scoop the peppers out and into your clean, sterile jars. ( use a funnel to keep the rims clean)
Turn the heat back up under the pot, bring to a hard boil, and boil for 6 minutes. Ladle the syrup into the jars. Wipe rims, add your lids and rings,( that have been sitting in HOT water for at least 15 minutes) Do NOT throw out the extra syrup. Put it into jars as well, and process with the peppers.
This can be used for many things like brushing on meats for the grill...add a little to your chili for that little sweet/spicy flavor..or whatever you want to add a sweet spicy kick too. Process in a hot water bath..1/2 pints for 10 minutes and pints for 15 minutes. The recipes calls for the jars to sit in the pantry for a few weeks, hmmm, not sure my hubby will let that happen! So...I had a few hand full's of green beans I planned to put in a pot for supper. There was a bit more than we needed for ONE I put some in a few half pints, and put the syrup over them and processed with the peppers. Not sure how they will turn out..but I think hubby will like them.
So, thats what I have been up to today...well, other than cleaning the family room..and regular farm chores.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Greedy or good?

OK, lets get a little serious here....just for a minute. I was trying to fit the "last" 6 pints of green beans into the pantry. I had to move this, re-organize that, to make them fit. So, I had declared " I am finished with green beans" I have to say, we HAVE been blessed with a fairly good harvest this year. So, this morning I headed out to get the last of the tomato's, at least, I am pretty sure it will be the last. As I walked by those green beans...I noticed there were so many left! Still blooming! Then I hear this little voice in my head..."Even tho you have enough to get yourself through winter, pick them, process them, you will need them" I have already let several of them go to I picked...and picked. I am not sure if this is my greedy voice in me saying, "don't let them go to waste" or some how God speaking to me saying " There will be others you will need to feed" Either way...I picked them and will can them this afternoon. I picked about a half bushel of tomato's and maybe 3 quarts of Jalapeno peppers. As soon as I find my gloves, I will slice and can those peppers for later use. It was a bit chilly this morning, mid 40's. Brrr. Too early for this weather. It was pretty cool in the house, my Macaw, Nikki was sitting in the corner of her cage, flipping her wing.....letting me know she was cold. So, I did it...I started a fire in the wood stove. Just enough to take the chill off the air. I moved Nikki closer to the wood stove. It wasn't long before she was talking up a storm. Going through her entire vocabulary. She has quite a large vocab. too! She really cracks me up sometimes. A few nights ago, she was sitting in her house, ( she doesn't like it to be called a cage) and she asked me...Cracker? I said...No, Nikki, no cracker for you. She looked straight at me and very loudly said HU!???? I cracked up...then she laughed...then I laughed harder. She is a smart bird...If she see's me getting my shoes on, she will say...Bye-bye. When she is lonely, she say's "Come here baby" Yep, we love our Nikki. Time to get these tomato's cooked down and canned. Before we know it...those white flakes will be in the air. *sigh*

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Green Beans and Bumble Bee's...OH MY!!!!

Remember that cute little childhood song....I'm bringing home a baby bumblebee?? you read these next few line....think of that little song....... I'm in the garden picking my green beans Oh how these will be yummy in my tummy, I'm in the garden picking my green beans..OUCH something BIT ME! I'm running from the angry bumble bee why is he so angry with me? I'm running from the angry bumblebee, hurry, its catching me! I'm spilling all of my green beans here and there all on the ground behind me, I'm spilling all of my green beans darn, there's so many!! I'm dabbing on the mud from the bee sting ouch I say as on and on I'm dabbing I'm dabbing on the mud from the bee sting Ahhhh, that helps me. OK, so seriously....You have to give respect to the little black and yellow bumblebee. I mean, seriously, think about it....I am at least 1000 times BIGGER than it is...yet it goes after it's foe...without fear. And I RUN!! If only I spoke bee...or it understood English. I could have explained to that little black and yellow insect from hell that I was NOT after the blossoms in the bean patch. I only wanted the beans... *sigh* I was able to go back out later and collect my prize...without the bee seeing me. Oh, I looked around...I quickly scooped up my little green gems and back to the house. I picked about 6 or 7 pints. I needed to get the tomato's, but I fear that by now he has called for backup...and they are waiting out there in the garden, hiding under the leaves, waiting to ambush me. So I decided I would grab the weed eater and head to the goats pen. Since my girls are So spoiled....they feel eating weeds are below I must mow the weeds down. *sigh* I have not used the weed eater is as long as I am tall...and I am 5 ft is heavy...loud, and vibrates like crazy!! But, I sucked it up and got out there and took care of that I can barely feel my hands. I was soaked in sweat...literally. It looked like I had jumped in the pond. Wearily I took the weed eater back to the shop and hung it in it's spot....let it rest...It deserves a good rest after what I just put it through. I came inside...changed into dry clothes, after rinsing in the shower quickly...grabbed my water and I am resting, sipping water. Oh, and I am eating my brunch...a big hunk of chocolate cake with chocolate fudge icing! Oh how I love being a grown up! After my hands quit shaking....I will head up to the kitchen and can the apple butter I cooked down all night. Then I will finish up with the green beans. Two loads of laundry on the line..I will try to get one more out there. It is almost noon...and I am already worn out, sore, and have battle scars! What a day already. I think since today's weather is going to be miserable, mid to upper 90's with matching humidity..and the "real feel" in triple digits, I will work inside today. Maybe work on making newspaper fire logs. Yeah, that is a good plan, sitting down, in the AC yet being productive!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Filling the pantry, a little at a time.

So last Monday, a friend called me and asked if I "needed" some corn. Well, yeah, don't we ALL "need " corn!?? She and her husband had gone to a fruit and vegetable auction and bought a LOT of corn. I am not sure how much, but she had 20 DOZEN she " could let go"I being a good friend, relieved her of 10 dozen. Well....the last few days slipped away from me, so today I HAD to get to that corn! Whoa boy, that is a lot of corn! After morning chores, feeding, watering, throwing hay...I decided to drag water hoses out to clean and fill the 5 duck pools and the pigs pool and trough. Then I had to get really busy. Off to the garden...I picked green beans. There wasn't too many, I ended up with 6 pints. Not too bad. Then my neighbor came over, and she and I shucked the first bag of corn. 5 dozen! I ended up with 16 pints and 7 bags of corn on the cob. Whew! Busy in the kitchen all day! Yesterday I canned up 8 pints of carrots. They sure will be good this winter, and they look great in the pantry. Filling it a few jars at a time.
Tomorrow I plan to finish the last 5 dozen ears of corn, and hope to get the tomato's worked up into sauce. Then I have a few potato's to get canned....only about 30 pounds. But, a few more jars in the pantry! We have been blessed with a good harvest this year...a lot of work, but worth it to know we have food to get us through the winter.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day!? I think NOT !

So, today is Labor Day. The last big hoorah of the summer. No big plans here, but definitely NOT going to "labor" After morning chores I came in and made breakfast. Sausage patties from our pig. Oh my!! They were so good!
This is one of the things I LOVE about home grown pork. There is hardly any grease in the pan and the recipe our butcher uses is wonderful! With a full tummy, I retreated to the family room to relax a bit. One of our son's came over and brought the 3 grand kids. I just LOVE spending time with them. I have to say, I have the CUTEST grand kids on the planet! We went outside for a bit and went to the garden. The oldest one, our grand son is almost 13, ( WOW!) He helped me pull a few weeds in the garden. Not really trying to be productive, just looking for tomato's in the weeds. This is the small garden, with volunteer tomato plants. We filled a small basket with delicious tomato's. The 3 yr old grand daughter was having so much fun picking tomato's. I sent her home with one for each hand. Not sure they will make it home...the last time I sent her home with an egg, for helping me collect them. That egg didn't have a chance...neither did the carpet in their car. Ooops! After they left to go home, the hubby hopped on the riding mower...I came back relax. Yep...that is what I have planned for the entire day....relaxing....Well..I still have the morning and evening chores...and I weeded the big garden this morning...and some of the small garden with the grand kids....cleaned the kitchen and I am planning to make thick ham steaks on the grill. But that is not really "working" Maybe I will head over to the pond, and drown a few worms, see if the fish are biting.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

What are YOU doing for Labor Day weekend!?

Yesterday was a very BUSY day here at Heavens Door Acres. Morning chores...feeding, watering, throwing hay...making sure everyone was as comfortable as possible with the heat and humidity that threatened! WOW has it been HOT! After morning chores I went to the garden and picked green beans. Yes, I pick green beans every other day. Since there are only 2 rows about 30 feet long, I can get away with every other day. They are really coming on strong right now...about 7 pints every other day. Won't be long until that part of the pantry is full! YAY! So yesterday was picking and canning day. I had a pot of tomato's I had peeled and prepped for spaghetti I put them on the stove to cook down all day. Oh, and speaking of tomato's....I read about some people that save the skins, dehydrate them, then blend them into a powder to use for flavoring stews and soups. So, this was another project I started. Save the skins....
Spread them out on your dehydrator trays....
I let mine dry over night. I wanted to make sure they were completely dry.
After I blended them down, I put this into my coffee bean blender, to make a finer powder. And there you have it. A great tomato powder, to flavor you soups and stews!
I can't wait to try it. Super easy, just a little time consuming. NOTHING went to waste! While making supper, I got the call that our pork was ready to pick up. YAY! What a great feeling to fill the freezer with our own home grown pork. In just about 10 day's, our bacon and hams will be ready....I can't wait to have fresh bacon again!!
All of the fussing over the summer ... hauling water to them pigs, cutting and hauling arm loads of weeds for them to munch on...was totally worth it! Today we will be spending time with family with our last of the summer cook out. I am looking forward to this! I was up late last night finishing cleaning the kitchen, canning the tomato sauce...and made a fresh home made apple pie for my father in law. Sugar he is diabetic. We are getting a few thunderstorms today, I don't expect anything major, but I will head out in a few minutes to make sure all of the animals will be prepared for the day. Another HOT one on the books! However, with these storms, will bring relief! Looking forward to temps in the low 80's again. So, what are YOU doing for Labor day!? Have fun...make memories..and enjoy at least ONE day off..well, not completely off...with a homestead!

Friday, August 30, 2013

I've got it I??

So, Today as I was in the garden picking green beans....a small kitten playing at my feet, jumping in the bushel basket, trying to get a free ride....I remembered a day that was similar to this, a few years ago. Lets go back to that day, for a minute. It was a warm morning, and I was trying to pick the green beans while battling sweat bees, bumble bees, and stink bugs...still trying to get over the loss of our oldest son to a tragic drowning accident just 3 months earlier...when a van drove by my homestead, and a man leans out the window and said...." Girl, You got it made" This took me by surprise. I stopped, standing there wondering...DO I?? So this morning, this memory flooded me as I was there in the garden. I could clearly hear that mans voice..." Girl, you got it made" So I thought about it....IF I "have it made" It is because " I MADE IT!" We raised 4 children while my husband was in the military...gone almost as much , if not more, than he was home. I essentially was a " single parent" Or at least I felt that way a lot of the time. While he was off in other countries, standing for our freedom, I was on the home front, trying my best to make ends meet. Keeping our 3 teen age boys out of trouble, and our daughter as level headed as possible, without their dad's influence. Yeah, I "had it made" Hmmmm. I get up before the sun, and get ready to start my or cold, sick or not..on every holiday.The animals do not have holidays...they need fed and watered, and cared for no matter what day it is, no matter how we feel. We live in a small town, where everyone pretty much knows one another. A big part of which are farmers. This particular person, that thinks I have it one of the many in our town who chose a very different way in life. He lives in free housing..wakes from his drunken stupor about the time I am finally getting a bite to eat around noon. He works only when his money is running low, and needs his "fix" whether it is drugs or alcohol. I want so badly to ask him...Do you have the same feeling as you swipe your government given food stamp card, to get your groceries as I do when I go to my pantry and pick out a jar of food?? Food that I have labored over..grown and canned.?? Have you ever stood there with a dead baby chick, crying over it? Or fell to your knees in defeat, asking God "WHY?" when you have worked so hard to till, plant, and weed a garden that you are depending on to feed your family through winter..only to have a hail storm come and take away all of your hard work? Then standing tall, and being determined to NOT let it get the best of you, you start over and replant everything, praying you have enough time for it to produce what you will need. Have you stood in a hot kitchen, so tired you "cat nap" while standing there, waiting for that pressure to release from the canner so you can pull out the jars, and put in yet another batch? Well, I have. I also have cried happy tears at the sight of a new born lamb, or a baby goat, struggling to get to their feet for the first time. And I have sighed with relief when I see those beautiful babies finally find momma's teet for the first time. I have felt a small bit of guilt, as I send those pigs to slaughter....the same pigs I have fed, watered, and cared for for the last 5 or 6 months of their lives....then thank them as I know they give their life to save mine. I have felt pride when I smell that loaf of bread fresh from the oven, and know it will nourish us because I CAN make it. 8 years ago, when we began this journey I would never have believed that we would " have it made" But as I look around...I see we DO have it made...because WE MADE IT with our own hands...with sweat, blood and tears. Tears of sorrow and joy. So the next time I am out there, grumbling about the heat, or the cold...cussing the chain saw because it will not start...rubbing my aching back from a long day of hard work...I will remind myself.......WE MADE IT. So yes...I guess .. WE GOT IT MADE. And with that said....I need to go hang out a load of wash...then check the canner to see if it is finished releasing pressure, and stir the tomato's that I have cooking down to make spaghetti sauce...and only when these tasks are finished, will I take my break and get a bite to eat....then get back outside and do whatever it takes to MAKE IT. I am a mother, wife, christian, and farmer...I am proud of what we have because I know it was not given to us..we worked hard to get here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Summer is reminding is still here.

Yes, it is still summer, you can tell by the sweltering temps! Another day in the 90's. I try to get the morning chores done, and at least ONE big job finished before 11 am. Today was no different. After morning chores I grabbed my handy dandy little hand swing blade and headed to the hills. Well, the hills of dirt in the front yard. The weeds there are easily 8 ft tall...and being wasted just sitting there. So, I decided it was time to start taking them down, for the pigs and goats. After about 2 hours of swinging, stacking and sweating...I was able to get ONE row of it taken down.
I took my blade sharpener out with me to keep a good edge on it...sure made it a lot easier.
Then I got my pitch fork, and loaded it into the bed of my truck....this made it easy taking it to the animals...all at once.
I gave most of it to the Guinea Hogs. They were so excited!
I then took the last of it to the goats. yum yum! But, it was so hot today....I had to keep taking the water hose out there to keep it moist for them..Wilbur laid down in the cool wet weeds. That is one happy pig!
I was able to get one load of green beans canned today too. Then stopped everything to make supper. Just something quick, Spaghetti. After my dinner settles, I will head back out to do the evening chores....Then a much needed cool shower! It looks like it is threatening a little rain...I hope it does! We sure could use it. But, until we do get some relief, I will continue dragging out the water hoses...all 300 ft of them...keeping the animals as cool as possible in this heat. The weather man said we will have 90 degree temps for at LEAST another 8 days. Whew! Yep, summer is going to go out with a bang, for sure!

WARNING : Fall is coming...

Yep, it's true. Before we know it Autumn will be upon us...the wonderful scents of fall. The changing leaves...the garden giving its last of the harvest...pumpkins...and the trees putting on their colorful coats. Yes, Fall is near. I was walking from the barn the other day, when I came across this little jewel already!
This I took as my first "warning" that time is slipping away fast. It sure is pretty I just had to get a picture of it. Then, today as I was going into town, I noticed a few more bigger trees are starting to change already. Noooooooooo, I am NOT ready! We haven't even started getting the firewood yet. Oh, boy...I can tell we are going to be doing a mad dash at the last minute. They said on the news this evening, I believe there are 23 days until Fall. 23 days!!! That's just over 3 weeks!! Then the talk went to "winter predictions" Oh boy, I sure hope they are wrong. Seems we might be in for a heavy snow this winter. *sigh* I mean, I LOVE is so pretty...the land is hushed after a good snow...and everything is clean and fresh...and frozen! Like water troughs....and chicken waterers...which reminds me, I need to get my water bowl heaters out and make sure they are all working properly. I also need to get a load of straw brought when the time comes...I can get fresh deep bedding for everyone. With the coming of fall....brings us to our Farm Festival. Every year, in October, we have a festival out here at the farm. A cookout .. crafts for the kids.. ( this year I think we will make roses from leaves.)
My grandson spent the weekend out here a few weeks ago, and showed these to me on you tube. He wanted my help making some for him mom. They turned out pretty good, and are EASY to make. They have that "fall scent" to them...and are just beautiful. I make wooden pumpkins on sticks and "plant" them in a pumpkin patch for the kids to pick and paint...there is a hay ride...a bouncy house...and finished with smores around the bon fire. So much planning...I need to get busy with that too! So, are you in a panic yet!? Fall is coming!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Monsters in the garden!!!!!

Good Sunday morning to you all. The morning weather is beautiful here. Sunny, 80 degrees, low humidity and a light breeze. After my morning chores..I decided it was time to start moving fence panels. Yesterday we took the 2 pigs off to "freezer camp" Yep, in 2 weeks we will be "swimming in pork" Eating "high on the hog" One of them weighed about 340, the other 250. Hams...bacon....chops...sausage...pork shoulder roast..Ohhhh, Drool!! So....moving fence panels.My plan is to clean up the area where the pigs were, and plant winter wheat in there. But, I needed to move the fence first! The one I really needed to move FIRST, was along the fence line between our little pygmy buck and the doe's. Oh, don't EVER let size fool ya!! Our little Fred can pack a wallup! I had to secure him to a fence post so I could get in there and get my work done. He was NOT happy! Took me about an hour to get the fence panel moved, and secured.Oh, Fred was in the shade, right next to his water trough, so he was not suffering....just upset that he could not get to me! Whew! Only 3 more to go. I decided to move on to something a little "easier" So I headed off to the garden. It is so peaceful in the garden...I was picking green beans...pulling weeds..listening to the bee's hum along flying from flower to flower...and listening to the gentle breeze..whisper through the corn, and the cicada's singing their warning that fall is coming soon, from the trees near by. Yes, I was loving life...the green beans are coming in great right now, and I am feeling blessed. I picked them 2 days ago, and got these today!
Thomas, my big orange tom cat was laying lazily in the rows, watching me and purring. ( lazy cat. He could have helped pull weeds! ) So I am moving right along...dropping hand fulls of beans in my basket...when I reached down to grab some weeds....WHAM!!! I screamed like a little girl that just saw a snake! It was "beloved" cat...grabbed my hand in a playful claws...just scared the beejesus out of me. Then he rolled over onto his back, and purred. I took this as a hint to stop, and take a break. So, I sat down there in between the beans sitting on my right side...Thomas on my left...purring contently as I scratched his head and neck. He really is a great cat's go. He sleeps in the chicken coop every night, protecting my hens from those terrible mice! Here is the mighty hunter.....
As I was picking the beans, I noticed there were gourds on the volunteer plants at the edge of the garden. They are just ornamental gourds, but they will be great when it is time to decorate for our Fall Festival.
Then I moved on to the last of the potato's. I had this small basket that I planted just a few plants in. They were not the main potato's, just 3 little extra's I had, and wanted to see how they would grow in a basket. Unfortunately for them, and me, I was not very attentive to them...I only mulched them twice, and rarely watered them, however, when I pulled up the basket, I was pleasantly surprised at the yield.
You can see the small basket in the picture. It is about 18 inches across...and like I said, I was not very attentive to them. So...I am not too displeased. There are enough for me to can about 3 or 4 pints. They will be great this winter in stew! So now I am inside, taking a bit of a break, drinking my water...getting ready to head to the kitchen and start canning beans and potato's. I hope you all are having a blessed day...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Catching up...a little at a time.

Since I worked the last 2 weeks, 12 hour shifts, things around here were sorta let go. All I had the time and energy to do was the bare minimum, to keep everyone alive and sorta happy. Today was another catch up day. Ran water hoses to the Guinea Hogs, filled their pool....then ran water to the barn and filled all the troughs out there. Then I got on the lawn tractor and spent the better part of the rest of the day, mowing. I still have about 2 more days worth of mowing to do...and potato's to dig....then green beans to pick and get canned. busy busy....summer is trying to slip away from me..and I am not ready!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Time flies....when your having fun...are we having fun yet!?

Where has this summer gone!? It really seems like just last week we were putting in the garden. It has been slow growing...however it is FINALLY coming in. Actually I am glad it took it's time....I have been so busy working out at MUTC again. Roll playing as a displaced citizen....after a nuclear explosion. It is a lot of fun for the most part....but it was hot..and we walked a LOT this year. Up at 04:30..out to the barn by 5 am...feeding, watering, opening doors, then in the house by 05:30 and on the road by 06:00. Work until 7 pm, home by 7:30 most days...chores at 8 pm, and not getting to bed until 12 or 1 am...after chores, shower, dinner, packing my bag for the next day...whew! The company we worked for supplied us with snacks, mid morning and late afternoon. Apples, Bananas, and peaches. Well....the last day we were told to take what we want. SWEeeeeeeet! I walked away with about 100 pounds of Green Granny Smith Apples.
The bag on top I made 8 pints of apple sauce and 8 - 1/2 pints of apple butter. That used about 20 pounds. I still have about 80 pounds yet to do something with. Apple juice, cider, jelly, PIE!! I also got about 40 pounds of mostly rotten banana's. I was able to put a few bunches in the freezer for banana bread later...and dried 5 trays of chips. The rest went to the pigs...and they were in HOG HEAVEN!
Now that I am finished working out there, for a while..I am trying to catch up on the farm chores that were let go. I was able to dig one row of potato's so far. Not the best yield, but I am happy with it. From a 15 ft row, I yielded about 25 pounds. One more row to go, maybe tomorrow. Our Concord grapes began to ripen fast! I picked one tray on day about 5 gallons. This gave me 7 quarts of juice.
A week later I picked the rest, only about 3 gallons this time and got 5 quarts and a pint of juice today. I always leave some on the vines for the birds. Keeps them happy, and out of my tomato's! I also made up a small batch of tomato paste and started another crock pot of apple butter. I also had time to put up 11 pints of bread and butter pickles today. Whew! Busy in the kitchen all day today. I need to get as much done as I can, another job coming up soon...Whew!

Friday, July 19, 2013

OK, I want answeres...I wanna know...who.....

Opened the gates of HELL!?? WOW Has it been hot!! Temps in the upper 90s, humidity almost matching...real feel in the triple digits! This weather has been a nightmare on the animals. I have been working almost non stop trying to keep them alive in this heat...constant every time I walk out to do a welfare check, praying I don't find one of our critters up the ghost. So far we have lost 3 of our meaties. GRRRRRRR THIS upsets me because I have put time and effort into raising meat for our freezer, only to lose it to the heat. On the plus side...the Guinea hogs like chicken. So, not a total waste...but I am not raising these chickens to feed the hogs! It is TOO HOT to even TRY to butcher chickens. Whew! Today we are supposed to get a few showers....and I believe I heard the weatherman say...temps n the 80's! Woohoo, I think I love our weatherman. So, last week..we had a kitten that had been injured...and she needed to be taken to the vet to have her little leg amputated. I named this little barn kitten... Little Foot.
She really is a sweet little sad for her. However, she didn't let it get her down. Too bad we as humans can't be more like the animals. The day of her surgery..she was still purring..hobbling up to me and cuddling...and when I picked her up she had the same upbeat attitude. What a sweetie! I was able to find her a great home after surgery....where she will be an inside spoiled baby girl. I am so happy for her. She deserves the best! The day I went to pick her up....I was gone most of the day. The vet we use is just over an hour away. Once I returned I pulled in the drive, I noticed a little black "something" in the pasture with our 2 dairy goats. Now, I know they are NOT I brought the kitten inside to get her settled...and on the doorstep is a note...
Oh boy! I ran out to the barn...and yep, they did!! SOMEONE left this little guy in the pasture. LUCKY for me...they can't tell a Billy from a whether...and they were wrong. He is a whether! least I didn't have to worry about "that"
I was concerned however, that he might be ill...or have worms...and could make my dairy girls sick. I had to wait until the hubby got home to get him in the barn, and corner him....I needed to do a good check over. We only chased him around the little goat cabin about 10 times before we FINALLY got him to run into the barn...GOTCHA CORNERED! HAHA! I was finally able to get my hands on him, and throw a collar on him. He looks good! Eyes are clear...gums, clear...good weight....just needs his little feet trimmed. So I am thinking now...I have to put up another small "paddock" for "drop offs" to ensure diseases are not spread. *sigh* Better safe than sorry tho.....right? So we have named this little guy...Moomoo. Once the weather breaks I will tackle the job of trimming his hooves...and finding him a forever home. I am thankful they didn't toss him in with my billy goat, Fred. I know Fred would have put a hurt on him. Speaking of "hurt" This heat is taking a toll on the animals. One of our blue butt pigs went down. She would not eat...just laid around and looked miserable. I was certain she was a gonner. I tried to get her to eat a hot dog bun with jelly...nope..she looked away. Now I KNOW she was sick. I offered her fresh warm goats milk...nope. :( All I could do was keep water on her..and hope for the best.Getting her medicated was a chore...I had to put the meds in a syringe and force it in her mouth. After about 3 days...she was up and looking for food! YAY! Yesterday when I went out, she greeted me with a "bark" and she ran up to the fence to greet me. Whew! That was close. Farm life can be so challenging some days. Today I will replant green beans..the first crop I planted is struggling to put out beans. :( Hoping now that the weather is cooling down a bit I can at least get some new beans started and will have a good crop. So, another day on the is HOT HOT HOT...I am headed out to run water hoses again...all day.