Saturday, December 26, 2015

Pigs.....rain...mud...and one very sick little dog.

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. :(
Then.....when I went out to do my morning chores, I heard the pigs squabbling...loudly. I made my way over there to find the 2 boys had gotten in with the young gilt. They were both trying to breed her.... ( her daddy and her brother ) She was screaming so loud, trying to get away from them, then I noticed she was limping. Dang. It is SO muddy in there from all of the rain. I grabbed some field corn, turned off the electric fence and went in. I was able to get them back in their own pens and secured the perimeter between them with 2 ft high wood fence panels. These panels are about 8 ft long, and weigh between 150 and 200 pounds. It took almost all I had to drag them a few hundred feet to the hog pen, get them lifted over the outside fence, and drag them through the deep mud to get them set into place. Once I finished getting the 2 panels in place, I realized there was about a 6 ft area that the panels didn't reach. So, I put 3 lines of electric fence in there. It was cold and raining and I just wanted to get out of the mud and inside to a warm finished it was 3:30. Evening chores are done at 4:30. I had an hour to rest. I didn't get back out until 5 pm and when I did I was greeted with screams from the gilt, again. Those 2 boars went through the electric fence! UGH!! So I had to go get the last panel and drag it into position....then get the boys out of her area. Well, after about an hour of chasing them around the mud, I was finally able to get them separated, unfortunately not into the pens I wanted them in. This is going to have to work until I can get some help. I got the panel secured, ran electric along the top and climbed out of the mud. The little gilt was resting in the hut....muddy, cold and exhausted. Tomorrow morning I will stuff her hut with fresh straw. HOPEFULLY the boys will stay put! Came in, got my shower, a hot cup of coffee and grabbed my new color books and pencils. Ahhhh. just what I needed! It is now almost 10:30 pm and I am worn out! Only slept about 3 or 4 hours last night, and that was in 30 to 45 minute stretches. I think I will head to bed here after I finish my coffee, and pray when I wake that the fences held tight. Tomorrow I want to lay on the couch with my little Muncher, cuddle with him all day....most likely his last day here at home. I am Thankful that he wasn't bad like this on Christmas day. He was able to open his gifts...and play with them. THAT is the memory I want to keep with me.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas is coming.....and the goose is getting fat!

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 Cedar tree was planted by our son and grandson about 5 years ago. It was less than a foot tall with hardly any root when they plopped it into the ground. It now stands over 20 feet tall! About 3 years ago I put Christmas lights on the tree, then never took them down. The tree has grown, the lights are now inside the tree. It is so pretty, hard to catch in a picture. I really dread if the lights ever burn out.
This big old moose has sat in our yard every Christmas for many years now. His head used to sway side to side, however over the years he got...tired. LOL Thats ok, He sure is grand...and I love seeing him stand guard beneath the cedar tree. 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

The frogs are singing Christmas Carols?

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 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 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 is almost Christmas...Winter is just beginning.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Frosty mornings on the Homestead.

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 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.
First stop will be the barn...several of the kitties meet me half way and escort me to the barn. You know, in case I forget the way.
I reach for the gate and cringe a little remembering that I had left my gloves on the table.
I make my way inside to the "swarm" of cats winding around my ankles, crying or complaining that I am taking too long filling their bowls. The smells in the barn make me smile. I can feel the warmth from the animals...listening to them waking up as well...calling to me, everyone wanting to be first to be fed.
The cats are fed, now on to the others....our resident old grouchy, but beautiful pot belly pig, Tulip. She peeks from under her nest of bedding...sniffing the air looking for her breakfast.
Once I finish there, it is time to feed the rest of the residents here. Chickens, geese, and pigs, all waiting on their breakfast and wanting to be let out to get their busy day started. I have to admit, I was in no hurry getting to the other side of the homestead. I walk slowly, taking in the beautiful scene of how everything is covered in frost. 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

Thanksgiving Eve, eve.....It's a thing.

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 "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" 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 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 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

A wild week....NOT to be repeated...I hope.

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 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.
Today....the idea of Fall has resurfaced. It was a "blustery" day. Mostly cloudy all day. Even though the sun was able to peek through a few times..with the winds, it stayed fairly cool...almost cold! I didn't let it bother me because I was at work most of the day, cleaning the building we work out of.... "The American Embassy" At least that's what they call it. Haha. We call it...building 12. make my night even better...I sign on to Facebook, and was greeted by a dear friends blog post. This woman really can tell a story. She will keep you on the edge of your seat.. Today...she and another blogger put out a challenge.... thought I would give it a try....So I leave you this evening....with this.
You say Goose...I say HONK! You walk...I squawk You look away....I give chase. Head down, wings out...hissing. You turn to look at me.. I walk away.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Birthday and Lima Beans

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. 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.
The fruit trees are filling in and we patiently wait for them to give us sweet treats. Before you know it the "Dog days of summer" are upon us. We have been working hard planting and weeding the the barns and coops, opening windows and doors to capture any breeze we can. Life seems to slow down a bit because of the heat. The animals get lazy and slowly graze the shaded areas of their pastures. This time of year we all slow down a bit. The fast pace of Spring when we are trying to get gardens cleaned and planted, barns and coops cleaned from the harsh winter with the animals spending a lot of time indoors, yes...that means a whole lot of...well...poop! The spring cleaning of our homes as well. Washing curtains, carpets, windows and bedding. If you are blessed to have air conditioning, this is the time to close the windows and relish the cool air, while the heat of summer beats down outside. This is the time of year when my mother and grandmother would drag all of the mattresses and box springs and area rugs outside to air out. They would spray everything with Lysol and let the sun and breeze "freshen up" everything for a few days, then taking a broom or carpet wand, they would beat them all good, getting out the dust mites and...well, whatever else might have settled into the fibers over the winter, before bringing it all back inside. During these few days when they are outside is the time to paint and do all of the deep cleaning. That first night sleeping on the freshened mattresses and pillows, with linen that has been hung on the line to dry....pure bliss. It is a few days of hard work...but so worth it. As summer moves along we ready for canning season. Pulling the pressure caners out of storage, always inspect the seals to be sure that your canning will be safe. Mid to late summer we start canning. Fruits, vegetables, meats, soups, stock, jellies and jams start lining the shelves of the pantry.
Seeing this makes me smile. I know that our family will eat well for the coming year. I know the work that has gone into filling these shelves. However, the work doesn't stop there on the homestead. We primarily use wood to heat our home. Because we have a split level home it takes quite a bit. This year we are ready with 15 ricks of good seasoned wood. We have gathered the smaller branches, cut them and put them in large crates for kindling. this brings us to current time. Mid to late Autumn. A few days ago I went to the garden and pulled the last of the Lima beans. The frost had gotten them so I needed to get the beans off the plants and throw the plants in the compost. I ended up with about a half of a bushel of bean pods. Yesterday I spent a good part of the morning opening the pods and getting the beans out so they can air dry. As I sat there in the edge of the porch, the chickens mulled around my feet waiting for me to throw them the smaller beans or the ones with "bad spots". After I finished getting them from the pods, I spread them out on cardboard to let air dry.
These, with the pint and a half I have already dried, should be enough to make a few meals this winter. Yesterday was my Birthday, so I decided I was going to take it easy. ( I know, laughable isn't it?) While I picked through the beans, the kittens were running about chasing the leaves blowing across the yard. This is great practice for our "mighty hunters" They were running and pouncing on the leaves, then occasionally they would bring their "catch" up on the porch and chew on the stem, until another fast blowing leaf caught their eye and they would be off and running. I couldn't help but smile as I sat there enjoying my lazy morning. Today is Sunday, a day of rest. Well, mostly rest. I will do laundry since I didn't do it yesterday. I just pulled some mixed berry muffins fro the oven. They smell wonderful and will go great with my morning coffee. With the cool weather I am thinking I will do a bit more baking today. Banana bread sounds good. I am hoping to make enough to put in the freezer for later this coming winter. Whatever you do today, whether it be working around the home....relaxing....or organizing your home, Stop and look around...enjoy the day, and give thanks for all you have.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Our first hard freeze of the season..... 28 degrees this morning

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, 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.
By next year this time we should be dining on some yummy beef! But....He....Sure....Is.....Cute! I am going to make sure to NOT spend too much time with him....I just know I will get attached. I went over and helped get T-Bone settled in the barn. I just know he is over there bawling. Its sad when you think about it. He is all alone...for now. I have to admit...this is the first cow we have raised....I know it will be hard when the time comes to send him off....for all of us. But, for now...we will love on him a little...feed him well....and hope he puts on weight quickly.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fall......"flying spiders" and letting your inner Ninja come out.

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 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.
OK, so maybe my pantry is not as organized as I would like it to be, but I know we have been blessed to be able to put food by...for winter. Then, we have the beautiful trees...changing colors...everything goes from lush green to reds and and we walk around the homestead, the crunching of leaves under foot. The cool air...the smells of Autumn. So the other day, with most of my work caught up, I decided to just take a walk around the place, take in the beauty of fall. I put on a light jacket and with a smile on my face I start walking past the garden....letting my mind just wander. Then....... IT happened. My calm stroll turned into something out of a Ninja movie. I walked right into spider webs. I didn't see them...but there I was, covered in spider webs. My arms flailing...grasping at the air, trying to peel the webs from my head and face....jumping around from one foot to the other....spewing words that would most likely make a trucker blush. inner ninja came out. It was me against the "flying" spiders. OK, so I know spiders don't fly, per say....but this time of the year they will climb up onto something high, and spin those little webs, spitting them from their behinds and hoping to catch a breeze to take them off to a " better place" Some days here are almost terrifying as I look out and see all of those webs just floating in the breeze, knowing that each one has a little spider attached to it. Once I calmed down...I look around hoping that no one witnessed this little "dance". Oh, I am sure....somewhere up in the branches..there are 2 little spiders just laughing and laughing. I can imagine the conversation between those googly eyed, 8 legged little creeps. #1 says...." Did you see those moves? I give it an 8" Then #2 replies..."Yes, definitely an 8, you get 2 points for catching that one" Then #1 with it's squeaky little laugh says .. " I didn't know those big old clumsy humans could move like that" Then they both sit there and laugh....and laugh...and laugh. Well, let me tell you little creeps something.... WINTER IS COMING SOON.... The " White Death" will come...and you my little creepy friends...will be NO MORE! BWAHAHAHAHA!! So with my calm mood ripped from my mind...I make my way back to the front porch. I still love Fall...I won't let those little creeps take that away from me...but for now, I will enjoy it from the porch.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Cool mornings..... puts a spring in your step.

This morning, as I stepped outside...the coolness actually shocked me. 42 degrees! I could see my breath. Now, I understand that it is October...Fall is definitely in the air.... but my bed was so warm and cozy....I was not completely awake when I stepped outside....and BA
It isn't a lot, however, being so far from town, we don't usually get " Trick - or - treat" kids. I mostly do it because....well....I like it! So do you have your fall jobs done? Are you caught up or running around scatter brained trying to get it all done before winter? I am actually feeling pretty good about this far. Today I am going to try to just be outside and enjoy this beautiful Fall day.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Busy day....Halloween decorations, pig waters, and home made wine!

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 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. :)
I have a metal ring for the top and I plan to add screening over it to keep the leaves and bigger bugs out. After getting it set in the place I need it, I drag the hoses over, then go back to the house and turn the water on. The pigs were so thirsty. Poor babies. I filled a few water bowls for them to drink while I filled the barrel. #fatandhappypigs. Drag the hoses back to the house, stopping at the garden to water the beets along the way then get the hose wrapped back up. *sigh* After finishing with the pigs, I turn my interest to the decorations. In the garage I had 2 boxes of Halloween decorations. Some of these are home made, our daughter and I made the Head stones about 10 years ago. Once Halloween is over....I can pull down the ghosts and witches, add a few pumpkins and gourds, and be ready for Thanksgiving! I think it turned out pretty good...what do YOU think?
I also have a light on the flag...this stays on all night.
I forgot to get pics of the front porch...there are ghosts hanging between the posts. While I was finishing up...I looked up to see the UPS guy backing down the driveway. Hmmm, I wonder what is coming in today? I am expecting 3 packages. I was so excited to see that it was my new wine bottles, corks, and corker. WHOOT! It was so hard to finish up the decorations, I wanted to go rack my wine! I stayed true..and finished up..then rush inside with my bounty. After sterilizing everything...I bottle the wine and get the corks set in. This is my first tie making wine...and there were no instructions on exactly how to get the corks in the bottles. The first few I struggled with...then I remembered a video I watched the other day....I didn't soak the corks. Well, the wine was already being siphoned into the bottles so I didn't have time to let them soak too long. After wetting the corks, they went in MUCH easier. Here are my first 6 bottles of home made wine.
I guess I could have strained it a few more make it a bit more "sparkling" But after letting a friend taste test it...she said...."This is your first time making wine? You did GREAT"
After cleaning the kitchen up...I put the wine in the basement where it is cool and dark. Next week I will start designing the labels. That will be fun. I want to try to design something with Heavens Door Acres on it. After cleaning up..time for a break. Hubby came in from work and we went to dinner. Today we celebrated our anniversary. 35 years. When hubby and I were young, we met at Frisch's Big Boy restaurant in Hamilton Ohio. This is where we go every year for our anniversary dinner. Not the same one, in Ohio, but one closer to us. We enjoy the food....and the memories. Now I am sitting here with my coffee...contemplating what I need to do tomorrow. Pick Brussels Sprouts, pull and pickle the beets, pull and can the carrots....I wonder what I will actually get done tomorrow. For is time for bed.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

A crispness in the air....Fall is here.

This is cool outside. Temperatures in the low 40's. Last night it rained quite a 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!
This is what they had to say.... "According to the Farmers’ Almanac, the winter of 2015–2016 is looking like a repeat of last winter, at least in terms of temperatures with unseasonably cold conditions over the Atlantic Seaboard, eastern portions of the Great Lakes, and the lower peninsula of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, most of the Tennessee and Mississippi Valley, as well as much of the Gulf Coast. Read more at" Check it out here... So with this in mind...I have made a few changes in the "winter quarters" for the critters. Mainly the poultry. I have moved them into the smaller coop...and I am working on the fenced in yard areas....this should help keep them warmer this winter. At least I am hoping! The smaller coop has lower ceilings so this should help. For the pigs, I am looking for something to make a flap for the front of their huts. Something rugged..and "pig proof" Is there such a product out there? I was thinking if I could find some old stall mats....maybe nail them up and cut them into wide strips. This should help keep the winds out...and the heat in. The trees are starting to show their fall colors...this makes me happy. I really DO love winter.....just not the work it takes to keep all of the animals warm and watered. I just love snow...and baking...and a warm fire. There are still a few things that need "tweaked" before the snow starts flying...However, I am feeling pretty good about where I stand. Firewood stacked in? CHECK Pantry full ? CHECK Hay stacked for winter? CHECK Animal housing winterized? Almost...still need to put the plastic over the windows and get the water trough heaters out and ready. Like I said....just a few more things to finish up....and then I will be able to get into " winter mode" Keeping the wood stove going....baking all of those goodies I have so wanted all summer long, but didn't bake because of the heat...and preparing for the Holiday get together's with friends and family, and catching up on some reading. I miss reading...summer time there is no time to sit idle and read. Are your "winter preps" almost finished? What do YOU do to prepare?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Everyone loves Fall....right?

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 the critters of the woods pack away their stores for winter. Enjoy this season...while it lasts.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Finally some relief from the heat!

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 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

So, NOW summer wants to show up?

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 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

Can you teach pigs.....or will they just get it?

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"?
The weather was so nice yesterday, I was able to get a few other little jobs taken care of as well. A few weeks ago I replanted a couple of rows of beets. This summer has been hard on the garden and especially beets. I have yet to can one jar of beets. Yesterday as I was watering the seedlings, I realized I may not get to can ANY beets this year. They just are not thriving. We really like pickled beets so this makes me sad. Oh, I could just go buy some and put them in the pantry, but I really do not like mass processed vegetables. We still have 5 pints from last summer, looks like this winter we will just have to consider the beets as a "special treat" unless these little seedlings take off...and soon! I took the lawn tractor over to the sheep paddock and mowed down the taller grasses that had become tough. The sheep will not eat those and I don't want to walk through it and come across a sneaky snake. looks better now. The last "big project" I worked on was the goat yard. There is this weed....I found out is called "Himalayan Balsam" I call it..." That darned weed" It grows fast, and will quickly take over an area.
The goats will only nibble on it, the sheep as well...but neither will eat it exclusively. The goats yard was covered in this...and it grows about 3 ft tall! So, I grabbed the weed eater and headed out to destroy least for now. I am sure in a week or so, it will be back with a vengeance. That pretty much consumed the better part of my day. This morning I woke to temps in the LOW 50's. It is beautiful, but chilly out there. Today I will work the garden over a bit, gather green beans and Lima Beans. I need to start thinking ahead...winter is just around the corner and will be here before we know it. I am trying to make sure every animal is ready for the cold harsh winter that the Farmers Almanac is saying we will have. Condense pens...start picking up, washing and storing the many feed and water dishes that are not in use....and trying to get feed stocked in to last at least a few months. I had hay delivered a few weeks ago... 100 bales. That should get us through winter. Next will be a load of straw...and pine shavings. So much to little time...busy busy!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

August temps are like September...Hmmmm, Im NOT complaining...

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

Making memories....teaching lessons...

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.
It didn't take us too long and we were cleaning up with 5 roosters in the cooler. I was so glad to have the help and we now have 7 meals in the freezer. Once the temps cool down, I will pull the backs out of the freezer and can them and make chicken broth. After standing bent over that table for a few hours, I was spent. I wanted to sit down and just enjoy the short time we had with them here, however, Jason was NOT ready to sit. *sigh* We took Iziah over to the small pond where Jason saw that the pond weeds were thick and we couldn't see the fish. He decided that needed to come out. He grabbed the leaf rake and went in. Iziah and I got the lawn tractor and wagon.
As Jason raked it out to the edge, Iziah would pick through it removing any life he found....crawdads, small perch, tadpoles, frogs, much fun for a boy!
Even Jason's friend got in on the "fun" looking for critters.
The guys took the pond weeds over to the geese, chickens and pigs. They said the pigs were the happiest upon getting their treat. I retreated to the house to get cleaned up and get dinner started. I made Izsiah's favorite dinner. Fried chicken, mashed "taters" green beans and gravy. As we all gathered around the table, pausing to give thanks, I couldn't help but smile as I watched these 4 men and young man....dive in with gusto. Passing dishes, making comments like "that smells great" and "you better get what you want now because once I get it there won't be any left" We all laughed and enjoyed a great meal. Iziah was eating, and already asking what was for breakfast. He knew grandma was going to make a big breakfast for him. Bacon, eggs, biscuits and gravy. He talked about breakfast all night. The men all retired around a bon fire. I, after getting a shower, retired to my chair. One worn out grandma! LOL After breakfast, they gathered all of their things up and hit the road, back to Oklahoma. Life keeps us all so busy, visits are short and only a few times a year, so we treasure every minute we get with them. Today, we are back to the regular chores, work, and later I will do some canning. Tomato's and green beans will go in the pantry. Our harvest is meek, but we are thankful for any that we get to help keep us fed through the winter.