Saturday, December 26, 2015
There is not enough chocolate OR pie, in this house, to wash away today. *sigh* First of all, I was up at 4 am with our little Muncher. He is not doing well. He had several seizures last night and a few today. I am thinking Monday I will have to take him for his " last ride" It breaks my heart. He is 14 years old...and has been a great little dog....I will not let him suffer. :(
Friday, December 18, 2015
Yes, Christmas is coming....ready or not...we can't stop time. For the most part, we are right on track. I have purchased all of the gifts for the grand babies....the Christmas cards are sent...decorations and lights are up and now I need to settle in for a full day of wrapping gifts. Every year we try to change up the decorations in the front yard. This year, I personally think they turned out great! Even this little guy was getting " into" the spirit of decorating. This last week I have been working crazy hours so the inside of our home has been neglected a bit. Now that I have some time off...It is time for me to get busy tidying up a bit. " The goose is getting fat" and sassy! We have 3 geese here on the homestead. Mostly I like having them because they alert me of anything new going on outside. Of the 3, we have one Chinese goose. He is grand! He is also "full of himself" Every day, while I am outside, when I walk past them, he will come up behind me head down, wings spread out...acting as if he is going to nip at me. I spin around to face him and he changes his mind....He stands tall and walks away bellowing out what I think is "goose profanity" He is getting pretty fat and "juicy" looking, and I have told him on more than one occasion..... " If you ever make contact with me... We will have a Christmas goose for dinner." Thankfully this hasn't happened yet. I really do love to watch their antics. There is just a week before Christmas day is here...and I am hoping to finish the house cleaning so I can sit back and enjoy sitting by the wood stove, sipping my coffee, staring at the Christmas tree and relaxing.
Monday, December 14, 2015
So, we can't deny it....this weather is seriously out of whack! I mean, it is the middle of December, in Indiana....and the highs are in the mid to upper 60's. The other day I did chores in shorts and a T shirt! I was standing outside....looking at the Christmas lights...and I heard it..." It started in low, then it started to grow" ( yeah I know, I borrowed that from How The Grinch Stole Christmas) But it DID! First it was one little peep...then another joined in....and before I knew it there were several little frogs peeping out at the pond. I almost couldn't believe my ears. But, then again...as I looked around, I noticed there were little buds on several of the plants and trees here on the homestead. *sigh* I hope it gets cold soon, before the fruit trees decide to start blooming. Then, as if to confuse my weary brain even more...on December 9th, our sow gave birth to 4 little ones. Sadly, only 2 made it because I wasn't prepared for her. 2 weeks ago I had someone come out and looked at her and agreed with me that she did NOT look pregnant. So, the boar was still in with her and there was no deep clean bedding in the hut. She gave birth early in the morning, in the cold, wet mud. By the time I went out to do morning chores....she was finished giving birth....they were so cold that even the 2 live ones were stiffening up. I quickly scooped them up and brought them inside to warm them up. I ran them under super warm water and rubbed them vigorously. Then I made a small "tent" with a towel and ran the blow dryer on them. I set up the heating pad in the bath tub, with towels over it and laid the babies in the towels. A dear friend of mine had called and knew I had my hands full...so she drove down from Indianapolis, an hour and a half drive one way, to help me get things in order for the new momma. Her and I worked in the hog pen for 4 hours....moving the boar to the other pen, laying in wooden planks in the thick mud so we and the pig could get up out of the mud. We also put a new wood floor in the hut to keep the babies up off of the cold mud. I went to the barn and brought over 3 bales of hay since I didn't have straw, to fill the hog hut to keep them warm. After we were sure the babies would be safe and warm, I brought them back out to momma. She and they were happy to be reunited. I don't think I could have done all that we did, without the help of my dear friend. I will never be able to thank her enough. I took these pictures of them...they are now 5 days old and doing great! Day one....just a few hours old. This is them at 4 days old.... They will have a few more days to get stronger, before the weather starts getting colder. Momma is a great pig. She made a deep nest in the back of the hut for her and them then pushed the bedding up high in the door way to stop the winds from getting in. I think they have a great chance of survival as long as the temps don't plummet too soon. So...with the chirping frogs....flies buzzing inside and outside...buds on the trees and bushes, and baby pigs....I have to keep reminding myself....it is almost Christmas...Winter is just beginning.
Sunday, December 6, 2015
I woke up this morning, I can feel the chill in the air because the wood stove had burned down. I stretched, still under the covers, not wanting to come out of my warm place...knowing it will only get colder in this house the longer I lay here. So, I get up and start getting the wood stove going again. It isn't long until there is a crackling fire, I can feel the warmth...it soothes my old bones. After my morning "rituals" of letting the dogs out, starting coffee, washing my face and dressing warm for the day, I finally settle in by the fire with my coffee to wake up. The Christmas tree lights twinkle, the warm coffee tickles my nose I smile to myself knowing that in a few weeks family will all be here celebrating the holiday sharing good food laughing, singing and dancing..making memories that will last a lifetime. I hear the roosters waking up their hens, and I snap out of the little walk down memory lane...time to get this day started, my empty coffee cup is a reminder too. We had weather warnings of " Frozen fog" If you have never experienced this type of weather, it can make everything it touches so beautiful. The moisture from the fog settles on branches and fence lines, electric wires and every blade of grass and weed. I bundle up and head out to do the morning chores. Once I finish..I stop and look around...and smile. Yes, homesteading is a wonderful life. Oh, there are days when I ask myself why do I work so hard? Is this how I want to finish out my life? And I always answer with yes....this is the perfect place for me. No matter which road I take.... the road leading home is beautiful, because I am coming home.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
So, yes...Thanksgiving Eve, eve.....Tuesday. I was sitting here thinking... a few years ago, I had this grandiose idea that by now our Thanksgiving would be something right out of Little House books. You know..... "Pa goes out and kills the turkey and prepares it while I put together a meal with the food I had labored over the summer months to grow and preserve." Aaaaand, exit stage left. Later today I will take the big turkey from the freezer, and set it in water to start thawing....while I get the ingredients from the pantry and cupboard, some from jars that I had canned....some from cans that I had purchased where I bought the turkey. The pumpkin pie will be made from canned pumpkin....NOT from a real pumpkin that I had grown, baked, and mashed myself. Why? Well partly because this past summer was a terrible year for the garden....we didn't get one pumpkin. There are several things in the pantry that I bought.....that had been canned in factories. 10 years ago, when we bought this homestead, I had a goal....a plan. We would work hard...to "step back in time" We would turn this small piece of land into a homestead. Now, maybe your idea and mine may differ. According to "Wikipedia..... Modern homesteaders often use renewable energy options including solar electricity and wind power and some even invent DIY cars. Many also choose to plant and grow heirloom vegetables and to raise heritage livestock. Homesteading is not defined by where someone lives, such as the city or the country, but by the lifestyle choices they make." So there ya have it....that is what society think's when they hear the word "homestead" Now....as for me...Homesteading is a little different. We don't use "renewable energy" Not because we don't want to but because it is so expensive! I do put out 2 different gardens, and grow most of what we need...green beans, Lima beans, tomato's, beets, onions, carrots, potato's, and a few herbs. We have planted several different fruits and berries as well. Apples, peaches, grapes and strawberries. Some are producing well...enough for not only us but enough to share, others (the peaches) are just getting their start and will be several years until they are producing well. When we bought this little piece of land there was no hint that there had ever been farm animals or food grown here...we have worked hard to build up fences and housing and worked the land to produce....well.....produce. We don't have the big fancy farm tools that some homesteaders have. The work we have done here, we have done by hand....with hand tools. Oh, we have a rototiller....and chainsaws...and....well...that's about it for "modern tools" OK, so now I am rambling....back to the main subject, Thanksgiving. Times have changed. The kids are grown, they have families of their own. A few of them still come home for Thanksgiving which makes that day one of my favorite days. Kids, grand kids, laughter and memories. Remembering the "old days" and making new memories with grand babies. I don't bake like I used too when the kids were still home. We had a six ft folding table that I would set up a few days before Thanksgiving and fill with goodies. Chocolate chip,iced butter cookies ( the kids and I would make an evening of decorating them) , and peanut butter cookies, little Russian Tea Cakes... brownies, Peanut brittle, buckeyes, Banana bread, pumpkin bread, and pies....Pumpkin, apple and chocolate creme. Now, we are all older. The kids are grown and have kids of their own. We no longer have that six foot table. The desserts are now down to chocolate chip cookies and a pumpkin pie....some years I still make the pumpkin bread and buckeyes but the kids and grand kids don't stay long enough to eat them and we don't "need" them. So I will make the chocolate chip cookies and the pumpkin pie today. And just maybe...if there is time, I will make Banana bread. It's funny...and sad...how time changes our lives. Oh, it's not a bad thing. Looking around, our kids have grown up and started families....and they are making their own traditions. Now is the time in my husbands and mine lives to sit back...and watch the show. To watch the kids create their own family traditions that they will hand down to their kids. I know the day will come when the big dinner will not be made here. Hubby and I will pack up and go to one of the kids homes....and share their Thanksgiving traditions. Such is the way of life. But for now, we are still having Thanksgiving here....on our Homestead....and I have SO MUCH to do! Cleaning, baking, and getting the living room ready for the Christmas tree, another great holiday...that is changing as years go by.
Friday, November 6, 2015
This last week has been....Hmmmm...interesting. The emotional train has been on the fast track. It started with great weather, sunshine, warm...almost HOT. Mid 70's in November? *shakes head* I can't complain though....I was able to get quite a bit done. Then as the week went on...Things went south a little...or a lot. Thursday....I laid to rest one of my favorite barn cats. *Punkin* He was a 2 yr old, neutered orange tabby. He was big, and so full of love. Every day as I walked to the barn, he would meet me half way. We would stop there in the open field....greeting each other. We had a "thing" He would walk to me and "meow" I would stop and scratch his head. This always led to him rolling over and begging for tummy scratches. As I went in for the tummy tickles....he would grab my hand with all 4 paws and playfully bite my hand. Then he would jump up and we walked to the barn together. We had this routine for a long time now. Thursday morning...as I walked towards the barn...there was no Punkin. My heart raced. A lump filled my tummy. As I walked up to the barn, I see him, laying by the barn door. I can only surmise..he had been grazed by a car and he made it back to the pasture and laid down by the door. :( RIP my sweet Punkin. You will be missed.
Sunday, October 25, 2015
It is hard to believe that we are already into the end of October. Yikes! This month has flown by so fast it seems. It feels like yesterday we were sweltering in the summer heat, and now we have the need for light jackets during the day, and a fire in the wood stove at night. This.....is my favorite season. Well, I guess I love all of the change of seasons. First there is Spring, the world is waking up from a long winter rest. Spring means new life. The plants are waking up, their roots stretching into the dirt and above ground they stretch towards the sky. Spring is generally a time when new life is born on the homesteads and farms. I just adore watching baby chicks run around, learning about life from their mothers, hearing the peeps,quacks and Baaahs, and soon the little Moooo's. Yes, I am hoping this next year will be the year we finally bring miniature cattle to our homestead. Then as Spring melts into summer with the warmer days, flowers start blooming, berries start ripening, the gardens are planted and it is such a thrill to watch row after row of our favorite vegetables fill in the barren ground.
Saturday, October 17, 2015
They warned us...and this time they were right. The weather man said we would have a freeze last night...and we did. Brrrr. It was 28 degrees this morning when I got up. Everything was covered in white. I actually wore gloves while doing morning chores. All of the animals were a little slower getting up and outside....just as I was. I had a fire going in the wood stove and really was not looking forward to stepping out in the brisk..no, COLD air. It never really warmed up today either. I believe our high was in the mid to upper 50's. Once I got to working, and was out of the wind, I had to take my jacket off....but it didn't take long until I needed to put it back on, that wind was cold! We are supposed to get another hard freeze tonight. I wasn't ready....I still have things in the garden I wanted to bring in. The carrots are fine I am sure....I will pull them tomorrow. The Brussels Sprouts...well..I will see what sort of shape they are in tomorrow. While I was doing the morning chores, I got a call from a friend that lives just across the highway from us. We had talked about going in halves on a calf and raising it to butcher and he was headed to one of the "local" auction houses. He wanted me to ride along, but I had way too much to do, so I told him to pick one out, I trusted his judgement. Well.....he found one...I would like you to meet.... T - Bone.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
I DO love Fall. I am not a betting person, but if I were, I think it is safe to bet that most people love Autumn...Fall. I mean....what is there to NOT love about it? The days are cooler, no more sweltering temps at 8 am. The humidity is usually a lot lower....no more frizzy hair. Yes, one could actually let their hair hang down. The gardens are slowing down...and some things are finished for the season. We can take a collective sigh as we look into the pantry and see those beautiful jars of hard work...row after row of healthy food.
Sunday, October 11, 2015
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Yep....that is how my day went. It started like any other day.....full of expectations of the many things I wanted to get finished. It ended, like many other days....with a sigh. First thing every day is opening coops...feeding and watering the critters...making sure everyone is healthy and happy for the day. The FIRST thing I needed to do was get the push mower and mow the small front yard, before I could put the decorations out. After mowing... I went to get the lawn tractor from the shop, to move the hay bales I needed for decorations. Both of the back tires on the lawn tractor were almost completely flat. So, I get the tire tool and unwind the hose and get the tires aired up. After I put the tools away, open the big doors on the shop, I back the tractor out and bring it around to where the wagon is waiting with 3 bales of hay in it. I went to hook up the wagon, only to find that hubby left the hitch ball on the tractor. So, I walk back to the shop to get a pipe wrench, to remove the ball. After I get that off, and put away, I hooked up the wagon and brought it over to the front yard, by the flag pole. That is where I set up the Halloween/fall decorations. Dropped off the 3 bales, then head back to the shop with the tractor and wagon. Now I need to get the pig water barrel out of their yard and get the nipples off of it. The old barrel has a crack in it..so I needed to rebuild a different one. The new one is a LOT bigger which means I will not have to worry with watering them but once a week or so. I drag the 2 barrels to the shop so I can drill the holes in the new one and get the nipples in it. Here is the old one ( the smaller one) and the new one, and of course...Penny Polkadot watching to make sure I do it right. :)
Saturday, October 3, 2015
This morning...it is cool outside. Temperatures in the low 40's. Last night it rained quite a bit...so the dampness makes it feel even cooler outside. All of the animals seem to be enjoying these temps....however they, like me, are in a wild flurry of busy, preparing for what comes next. W I N T E R We just had our last 5 ricks of firewood delivered...that makes 15 ricks. I am hoping this will be plenty to keep us all toasty warm this winter. I don't know about where you live, but for us here.... the Farmers Almanac is saying "stock up on wood!" Well, ok, not exactly those words...but just look!
Sunday, September 27, 2015
I mean.....what is there NOT to love....right? Temperatures in the low 80's to upper 70's.....lows in the 50's. Mornings are brisk enough to put on a jacket while doing the morning chores then by lunch time you are pealing off that jacket and again, by evening chores...grabbing that jacket again. A light morning rain leaves the air smelling of fall leaves...a smell that awakens childhood memories of playing in leaf piles...Halloween...and then, the coming of Christmas. Almost everyone I know.... loves Fall. Then...... reality hits...WHAM! WINTER IS COMING! A slight wave of panic washes over me for a brief moment. My "grown up " mind kicks in..... Do we have enough fire wood for winter? Is there enough Hay put up to keep every critter fed? How much straw will I need to keep everyone warm and dry? What do I need to do to the gardens to "put them to bed" for winter? So even though I truly enjoy Fall....Autumn...whatever you may call it..I am now in "preparing for winter mode" They Hay is stored...most of the firewood we will need is stacked...and I need to get a few extra hundred pounds of feed put up, in case we can't get out to get more. Some areas of the garden are done. Tomato's are finished, so I will get that area cleaned out and get the old bedding from the barn in there. As each area finishes up, I will try to get it all covered. Once the winter sets in, and lays a blanket of white on the garden, the bedding will then work it's "magic" to enrich the soil. So, get that work finished up before winter sets in...but don't forget to enjoy Fall...go for walks in the woods...or parks..take in the beauty of the colorful Autumn leaves. Slow down...watch the critters of the woods pack away their stores for winter. Enjoy this season...while it lasts.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
The last 8 days we have had temps in the 90's with high humidity and little to no breeze. To say the least, it has been miserable. Very little has been done outside....just the main essentials of feeding and watering...and watering....and watering. All of the animals have been hiding in the shaded spots...not really wanting to eat much. Even the chickens when I let them out in the morning...they will mull around for a bit, but then head straight to the thicket to take cover from the sun. Today however....we have a cold front moving in. Rain...beautiful...wonderful rain! I can almost hear the ground sigh. The high today is supposed to be 78 degrees. Yes, we are liking this weather. This morning after morning chores, I stopped at the garden to take a peek and see what was going on in there. The strawberry patch has completely been taken over with weeds. I decided to start in on pulling weeds and finding the strawberry plants. The humidity is so high out there that even moving slowly makes you break out in a sweat. I was able to get one row cleaned out pretty well. Once I get it all cleaned out....my plan is to lay down a layer of cardboard and top it with the stuff from the barn. Hopefully I will get this finished before winter sets in. I had to stop with the one row because my back was really hurting. I walked over to the green beans and saw that there was quite a few out there needing picked. I got to work picking them when suddenly I was gagging....weird...I didn't feel sick to my stomach...then I realized the odor. It sorta smelled like castor oil. STINK BUGS! They are really thriving this time of year...and because I was picking in the garden, I guess upsetting them, they were stinking up a storm! YUK! I hurried through the rows...picking as fast as I could. I was able to get about 3 quarts after cleaning and snapping them. This time of year I start putting the green beans in quart jars. I can about 60 pints for us, then the rest in quarts to have when company comes for dinner and to send over to our son's. Those grand babies LOVE grandma's green beans. The owner of the feed store in town, where I buy my animals feed, told me last week that his sweet corn should be ready in a few weeks. He plants about 3 acres of sweet corn. Once he gets what he needs for his family, he lets a select few people come pick what they want. He told me I would be allowed to come get corn in a few weeks. I will hopefully be able to put up at least 60 pints, and a few dozen in the freezer. Then I will put up a few quarts for our sons family too. Once winter sets in.. I will get busy canning the tomato's I have in the freezer.
Thursday, September 3, 2015
Jeesh. Last month, August, we had temps in the 70's and 80's.....maybe a few days in the 90's. Strange for August. Now we are in September...and we are having a full week in the 90's. But we know, soon, we will have our fall like temps...and I for one can't wait. The gardens are finishing up....but still giving enough to keep me a little busy. Now, those pigs.....jeesh. Everyone tells me just how smart pigs are....well...I beg to differ. Remember I made a waterer for them? Well, they still have not learned how to drink from the nipples. So, with the temps in the 90's today....my plan is to make sure the barrel is full today with cold water....then take peanut butter and smear it on the nipples. THAT should work.....right? I mean, they should go biting on the nipples trying to eat the peanut butter...and realize water is coming out. I plan to wait until later this afternoon, when they should be good and thirsty. Hope this works....because I have no idea what else to try. Wish me luck! I have been off of work for 2 weeks....and trying to get things ready for fall. Of course that can't last forever....back to work soon. Then I will be pulling double duty again. I better go eat my cheerios'
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
So yesterday....I built an "automatic" hog water. I took a 40 gallon barrel and added hog water nipples. I split the hog yard more even, added a big cinder block to set it on and started filling it. OF COURSE this barrel has a crack in it about half way up. For now, that is OK....because I am not sure these darned pigs are smart enough to even know what this is for. They watched me install it....they were even throwing a hissy fit as I filled it....wanting water. I tried calling them over and flipping the nipple so they would know that is where the water is but those stubborn pigs all ran back to their now empty water bowls and pitched a fit. I eventually gave in and filled the water bowls. *sigh* Did I do all that work for nothing? Will they ever "get it"?
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
This really has been a very trying year as far as the weather goes. Extremely wet and HOT for July and now for August the temps are only in the 70's and 80's. Gardening this year has been a real challenge. Our beets haven't had a chance....Tomato's are growing so slow, they are rotting while still green and the green beans are trying to give up already even tho I have only picked about 6 PINTS. I really am scared to dig up the potato's...hoping they did better than everything else...not holding out much hope. Yesterday I was able to clear an area in the big garden and get it mostly ready to replant. Yes, it is late however, I am thinking just maybe the beets will be able to grow enough that I will have some for the pantry. Today I will do my best to get them planted....wish me luck.
Monday, August 3, 2015
What a great weekend. We had company for the weekend. Our youngest son, his son, and 2 of our son's friends came in from Oklahoma. This is the son that is always on the move, always doing "something" and wearing me down. Haha. They pulled in the drive around noon, and by 1 pm, we were butchering 5 roosters. This was a first time experience for our son Jason, and grandson Iziah. I wasn't sure how Iziah was going to handle it and at first I thought he was going to have a melt down, and we would have to have grandpa take him and keep him busy. Iziah is 8 years old, and all boy, but the first time can be a bit hard, for anyone. As we gathered the first 2 roosters up, he had a few tears...I asked him why he was upset and he replied...I don't want them to die. I pulled him aside,and explained why we process the extra roosters,how I do it humanely and that they don't suffer and how they will feed us, and we will be thankful. By the time I dispatched them, he was getting excited to get busy with plucking. He did great.