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?