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!