Friday, July 22, 2016

Hot and humid is making me lazy....

Whew! It has been so hot...and humid here lately. This weather makes me want to stay indoors. Of course...I can't so I just take it slow, and a little at a time. Yesterday after my first shift at work, I came home and changed into my work clothes. I headed out to make sure all of the animals were fed and had plenty of fresh cool water for the morning. The temps with humidity make for dangerous health warnings from the news. As I was finishing up in the barn, I grabbed an armload of hay for Daisy and Laura and proceeded to head outside with it Daisy was being a little pushy and blocking my way to the door. I nudged her to get her to move which didn't set well with her I guess. She dropped her head and pushed into my thigh. I have not had her horns removed yet and they are about an inch long. She shoved one into my thigh sending pain down my leg. I put down the hay and grabbed my "MOOve stick" ( it is a 1 x 4 I use to intimidate her..and teach her boundaries). With a good slap on her rump, she high tailed it out of the barn. After I set out her hay, I stopped to check my leg. Oh boy...she got me pretty good. I MUST get those horns taken care of...ASAP!
Once I finished with everyone at the barn, I looked out to find Daisy...she wasn't at the hay feeder like I expected. I looked around to see her at one of the water troughs, standing with her front feet IN the trough, with her head down, pouting. ( oh jeesh! ) I walked over and rubbed her neck, and explained to her about personal space and that she needs to be careful when she is demanding attention. I left the pasture, we were on " good terms" again. Once I got to the front porch, I removed my shoes, grabbed my bucket and headed to the Blackberry patch. Tuesday hubby picked just over a gallon from them but it was Thursday and they needed picked again. As I walked across the grass, it was relaxing feeling the cool damp grass on my feet. It has been a while since I have had the time to walk barefoot in the grass so I was really enjoying it. Since the Blackberry bushes are thorn less, I can pick from there in bare feet and short sleeves. As I picked, I snacked on those sweet large berries. I made sure that more of what I picked went in the basket and not my tummy. I was able to pick another full gallon. I am freezing them so that once this heat wave breaks I can start making jellies and jams. I will also be starting a few batches of wine soon. I have 8 gallon bags of strawberries in the freezer that I plan to use 3 for jam and one for wine. The other 4 I will save to use later for cobbler and muffins over the winter time. Another favorite of mine are Elderberries. They are starting to ripen as well. I filled a 3 gallon bucket the other day.
Now comes the task of de-stemming them. That takes a bit of time, but it is worth it. I will use these for wine as well. Of course I will save a bit of the berries in the freezer to make a tincture for cold and flu season. Here is how I make tastes great...and works wonders! Gather your supplies.... Elderberries (make sure the area you pick from has not been sprayed with pesticides.) Fresh Ginger, grated: 1 Tablespoon per cup of berries (or 1 teaspoon if you are using dried ginger) Ground Cinnamon: 1 teaspoon per cup of berries Ground Cloves: 1/4 teaspoon per cup of berries Raw Honey, preferably local: 1/2 cup per cup of berries What to Do: 1. Gather the elderberries, or order dried organic elderberries online and skip to the 3rd step. Look for clusters of black berries on red stems to ensure that they are fully ripe. 2. Use a fork to pull the berries from their stems, collecting them in a pot. Pull out as many small bits of stem as you can, but don’t get obsessive about it. Give them a little rinse. 3. Add water— 1:1 cups water-to berry ratio for fresh, and 2:1 for dried. 4. Add ginger, ground cinnamon and cloves. 5. Bring to a boil on the stove, then reduce heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes, then allow to cool. 6. Strain the liquid from the berries using a sieve, pressing on with a wooden spoon to get all of the juice out. 7. Add raw honey– local, if possible for the best health benefits– to the elderberry liquid. Stir until well mixed, and decant into jars or bottles. Store in the refrigerator. Take a teaspoonful daily during cold and flu season. Make up some for your family...

Sunday, July 10, 2016

How does your garden grow?

Here it is....the 10th of July, and the gardens here are thriving. Well....most of the gardens are thriving. We have had a few issues with the beets and carrots. The first planting didn't yield much other than weeds. We went out to pull weeds and decided there were way more weeds than veggies, so hubby tilled it all under and we started over. Hoping we will get some beets and carrots this year. Yesterday I worked in the barn most of the day...pitched out the old bedding...laid lime..then put in new bedding. The weather was beautiful for working outside...temps in the low 80's with low humidity and a wonderful breeze. This morning it is 65 degrees...just beautiful. They are saying a high of 85 today and tomorrow as well. YAY! I did a quick walk through the garden yesterday to check on things...the green beans should start producing any time now, the tomato's are full of small green tomato's, the onions are about the size of large eggs and the potato's are finished blooming...starting to die back already. I just might get a second planting of potato's this year. That would be nice! As I was looking at the potato's and onions, I noticed that our blackberries were finally starting to ripen.
There were only a few..but wow are they big and sweet! I can't wait until I can get enough to make some jelly. I am hoping they ripen quickly since I am off of work until the 16th. Not sure they will be done in the next week tho. After I finished the barn yesterday..and finished putting up all of the animal feed, I went to work building a small scratching post/ tower for the 2 kittens. Now, I have never claimed to be an architect but they seem to like it. It ended up being a bit heavy really, so I wrapped 2 bricks in burlap and sat them at the base. This will work for now, until they get bigger. Then I will either work on a better one or just go buy one for them.
Yes, I know it leans a bit...but they don't seem to mind. Oh, I also had bought a box of commercial grade black lawn trash bags yesterday. I had read about making haylage in small batches for winter feeding. Since we only have a handful of goats, one growing cow, one ewe, and pigs ( for now) and chickens and rabbits...we don't need tons of haylage. Since we have several bales of hay left from last year, I am going to use that mixed with fresh grass/weed clippings and a few handfuls of corn. Layering and packing that into large heavy grade black trash bags, removing as much as the air as possible, then tieing it up for winter feed. I am hoping that by the end of summer I will have about 30 bags or so. This is a first for me, so I will report later in the year how this works out. Well, the sun is coming up...I better get this day started.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th everyone.

Today we celebrate our Independence. I was watching this sad...a guy on the streets of LA was asking people randomly If they knew what the celebration was all about. Now i know they only show what they want us to see....and I am hopeful that the statistics they showed were biased..but out of about 15 people they interviewed, only 2 or 3 knew what the 4th was all about. Most of them knew we were celebrating our Independence....but not from who. Sad really. A few of them even expressed that they didn't care to know. Just that they wanted to have a party and drink. Is this what our country is coming to?? These were all young 20 something people...that will one day be the ones that run our country. :( Hubby and I are not going out to watch fireworks...mainly because I don't believe there will be any because of the weather. It is rainy, hot, humid...and the fog is rolling in. I spent most of the day reading and snuggling with the between animal chores. Now the evening is here....animals are all secured for the night...and I am going to sit back and keep the TV turned up loud, so the dogs don't hear the neighbors fireworks. Next week we should be back to "normal" Hopefully everyone will be finished with all of the fireworks. Be safe....have fun...and Happy 4th.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Cooler temps....great for gardening.

So, today was absolutely beautiful weather. Upper 70's, a light breeze...ahhhh, just perfect. Hubby and I decided to get to the garden and " tame the weeds" Since it has been super hot and rainy, the weeds have tried to take over the beets and carrots. We started pulling....and pulling...then I realized that there were very few seedlings coming up. Way too much work pulling weeds for the very few seedlings. So, I decided we would be better off just tilling it all under, and starting over. And, that is exactly what we did. While hubby tilled the dirt, I got the lawn tractor and wagon and started loading up the compost from the barn. After he tilled it, I started laying cardboard and newspaper down for a weed barrier....then we topped it with the compost. We only finished about 1/3 of the area but I feel much better about how this will work. Tomorrow I will try to finish up the rest...then plant all new seed. The rest of the garden is doing just fine. Green beans are up to the third row of string....tomato's and peppers are full of blossoms...the onions are about the size of a large egg...and the potato's are just about finished blooming. It will feel good to start putting fresh food in the pantry again. I always get a little worried when the pantry starts getting low...won't be long...I will be able to stuff it again...I hope. So, with all of the barn cats having one time we had I believe 20+ kittens here. I was able to find several of them good homes...and unfortunately we lost a few to illnesses. One of the tiny ones had been pushed from the pile and was so very weak. I brought it inside to nurse it back to health. It had a scratch in it's left eye, and was winking constantly so I decided to name it Wee Willy Winkie. After about 2 weeks of nursing it back to health, I realized Willy was a girl. HA! Oh well..Willy it is.
This is her with her momma and a sibling. I was able to get momma to nurse her a bit. This picture was taken a few weeks ago. She is much bigger now..and a happy healthy, playful kitten.
. About a week or so ago, I was walking past the tall grass when I heard a faint "mew" I looked around, and another wee little kitten came crawling from the weeds. It was dirty and covered in blue bottle flies. I called the momma cats over and every one of the swatted at the kitten, and wanted nothing to do with it. So, I brought her inside as well, gave her a bath and filled her tummy. She and her sister are getting along so well. We named her Itty Bitty Kitty....aka, Little bit. Here they are eating together....
Little Bit likes to sleep in the most peculiar place...
So, now we need to make a date with the vet, get them wormed and checked over then when they are old enough...spayed. The "plan" is to find them homes...however, " even the best laid plans can fail " I see us having kitties in the house for a long time to come.

Friday, June 24, 2016

WOW is it H O T !

I can handle the heat. You know, "regular" temps. NOT mid to upper 90's with humidity in the 70+. 20 minutes outside and I think I know what a lobster in a pot feels like. WOWSA! Lucky for me, I have been working the last few weeks so I have not spent too much time outside. UNlucky for me, I have been working the last few I have not been spending much time outside, in the garden..and the weeds LOVE this heat and humidity. *sigh* Yesterday was my first full day off but I just couldn't stay out there long. I tried to pull some weeds from around the beet seedlings....I got about 5 ft. I was totally soaked in no time. The flies love this heat and humidity as well. I have been trying to keep the barn as clean as possible, mucking out the wet and dirty areas every time I feed, however it has not been good enough. So, yesterday morning after feeding chores were finished, I mucked out a good size area then spread AG Lime and put fresh bedding on top. It seems to be helping some. Today I am going to try to finish up the side the cow is on...that is where the wet is the worst. I have also decided to start feeding Daisy outside. When she eats, she tends to spill/blow feed all over the ground under her feeder and the flies love this too. I am feeling pretty confident that a few days of hard work I will be able to get things under control again. Well, that is IF the rain stops...and the temps cool down just a little. For now...I will enjoy my coffee...and kitten cuddles until it is daylight.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

"Busier than a one armed paper hanger"

That was one of my grandpa's little sayings....this is how he described Spring on the farm. Oh boy...was he right. Spring started really wet...I thought we would never get the gardens planted however, between rains I was finally able to get them in. The potato's were planted along with the onions, and they are thriving. This picture was taken the end of May..
I am thrilled with their progress...hoping that under all of that dirt and mulch,many tiny little potatoes are growing.. This is the 3rd year for our thorn less Blackberries. It is the first time I have ever seen this many blossoms on them, and I am hoping we get enough to make jelly. I am very hopeful!
The Strawberry patch has proven to be very productive. Over the last few weeks, we have been picking between 12 and 18 quarts every other day. This makes me so happy...knowing I have a small plot that just might make is a few extra dollars and provide ourselves with enough strawberries for cobbler, jam, and fresh eating. We do love our Strawberries!
Around the 21st of May I was finally able to get the green beans planted. Only 2 rows, however they are about 30 ft long and should produce more than enough for us for the year. After only 10 days, they are already about 3 inches tall...and looking great! I also was able to get the tomato's and green peppers planted and mulched. I had laid down several layers of news paper before the mulch was added. This should help keep the weeds to a minimum. ( I hope )
Yesterday after work I came home and saw that hubby has worked the large raised bed. All of the weeds dug out, and tilled the ground. We had a few storms moving in, but I was able to get some of the beets and carrots planted. I was not able to get pics, but I am very pleased with how quickly the garden is coming together. While mowing a few days ago, hubby noticed that the Mulberries were beginning to ripen. Looks like I need to get started picking them too. I really hope I can get enough to make some jelly this year. The pantry is looking mighty slim this time of year. I can't wait to start filling it back up with my home canned fruits and vegetables. The list of jellies and jams should be this..... Strawberry jam, Mulberry jelly, Blackberry jelly, Elderberry jelly, and grape jelly. If the apple trees do well, I plan to add Apple jelly or Apple butter to that list. For now...I need to get this morning going...daylight will be breaking soon and I need to get the morning chores finished before I head out to work.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

So many new things.....

Today, I spent most of the day at work. Nothing really exciting there...just putting together 3 ring binders for the next few classes of students. After work I came home and changed into work clothes then headed back to MUTC to walk the woods in search of the ever elusive Morel Mushrooms. I was talking to one of the guards at the gate this morning and he told me of a spot he had been a few days ago and was able to find 30+. I have been out a few times this spring and have yet to find any. Once I get to the area I wanted to search, I changed into my boots, grabbed my walking stick and onion bags and headed out. Walking through the woods is a great way to unwind from the past few weeks of stress. It is so peaceful out there. The weather was great for a hike. Temps in the upper 60's and partly cloudy. I start walking just taking in the scenery. Soon I came across these two old trees. Their lifespan complete yet still useful for small animal homes.
After a few minutes, I headed out again, eyes to the ground....still searching for the ever elusive Morel's. It wasn't long before I realized I had walked into an old abandoned cemetery. There was a sign off to the side, warning that these grounds are protected. Most of the grave markers were just thin stoned, the engraving long gone. I was able to read a few names with dates.
It was sad to see that this place was so forgotten. There was a single wire " fence" around the area...marking what seemed to be the boundaries. Several large trees had fallen across the cemetery, undoubtedly across a few graves.
It is sad to think that the families of these people most likely have no idea that they are here. After carefully walking through I started out once again...still searching for Morels. Every once in a while I would look ahead and scan the area to decide which way to go. That is when I spotted this in the woods.
Because this area is a Military training center, I am sure this was strategically placed here with a purpose. It was a little spooky seeing this laying off on its side and with all of the damage. By the time I found this, I had been in the woods a few hours, so I decided it was time to head home, empty handed. Another hunt, ending with disappointment. Not even ONE Morel. After I got home, a dear friend contacted me to let me know she had picked up two little bucks. One for her and one for me. Our little Herd Sire is absolutely adorable. He is a registered Mini Nubian with ice blue eyes. The lady we got them from said that our little one could possibly throw "moon spots" That would be fantastic! He is just a baby right now...but so adorable. I would like you to meet Lazarus.
Those ears! I can't wait to get him home...and love on him. I am hoping to be able to find a registered Doe for him by Fall. So now that I was able to spend a few hours in the woods..and unwind..I feel I am ready for the new week ahead. We will be working I believe 21 days straight. This will be a long few weeks. Somehow I need to get the gardens finished prepped, and start planting. Before we know it we will be eating fresh from the garden again. This makes me smile.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Rain....rain...and well, rain.

It rained is raining today.....and it is supposed to rain tomorrow.(Thursday) Friday looks OK but rain over the weekend, both days. I did get a chance to go mushroom hunting yesterday. I walked about 10 miles in 4 different wooded areas...for 3 hours. NOT ONE MUSHROOM! Frustrating!! Maybe after all of the rain...I will get another chance to go again. Work is going to be really busy over the next 3 weeks so I don't know if I will get a chance to go or not. I will be really sad if I don't get any Morels this year. My potato plants are just starting to peek through the mulch covering. YAY! It is such a good feeling to finally see something growing in one of the gardens. The strawberry plants are growing great, blooming like crazy! However, I have been battling a mole over by that garden. I WILL win this battle. Hopefully BEFORE it eats everything I plant. The cats seem to not be interested, or doing their job. So either I am over feeding them and they have become lazy....the rain is keeping them from hunting that area because it holds so much water..or this is one stealthy mole. I have never used Mole traps but this might just have to be the year I do. YUK! This morning I must head out to get the chores finished a bit early because I need to run in to work for a few hours. It is wet and foggy and quite cool out there, in the upper 50's. Time to get this " show on the road"

Monday, April 25, 2016

Whew! What a week....lets start THIS week off different!

Last Monday....was a " typical " start out. Hubby got up and went out with a do a few little side jobs....mainly just to get him out of the house. He has been laid off work since December 2015 and has been in a slump trying to find a job. At his age, that is no easy task..he is 56. So, after he left, I set out to work on the little gosling pen. I was out there a few hours when I get a call from our friend. Hubby had a massive heart attack, and they were at the hospital. Luckily they were only 2 blocks away when he had it. The Doctor said if he had been 30 seconds longer, that they would not have been able to bring him back. They had to shock him twice to get a normal rhythm. We almost lost him. He is doing a LOT today after I get the morning chores finished...make sure everyone outside has an ample supply of water, ( since it is going to be 85 degrees today) I am going to go take a LONG walk in the woods...and if I happen to find some Morels...well, that will make my day even BETTER! LOL Now, for the little Gosling pen. My big geese have a decent size yard so I decided to put the gosling pen in the goose yard. This way they can protect them from the " monsters" that want to eat them...and they can get to know each other as the littles grow. I had a volunteer come by and donate her time to help me with this. Peyton has helped me several times out here...she is a great young lady. I started with a small crate that I used to have call ducks in. This crate will need a bit more work, but it is sturdy enough for these babies.
Once my helper got here, we added rabbit fencing to the outside of the yard, covering the original "fence" and I had made the lid for the yard, covered with rabbit fence and added hinges. There is still some work to do to finish this little place...I want to add some metal roofing to the house, then paint the wood around the yard and the little house....I need to add rabbit fence to the little window and a latch to the window cover...and add large rocks around the outside perimeter. Once I am finished, it should be a fairly well protected place for the little goslings.
This morning after chores, I am going to load the lawn tractor up and take it to get work done. I hope this doesn't take too long. I really need to get this mower back soon! Once I get hubby back home and settled in...I am going to take some personal time and take a long walk in the woods....and hopefully find a few Morels. Or a LOT!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Finally Spring....Gardening...YES!

Today started with a trip to town. This trip to the feed mill was one of those you love once it is all put away...but dread putting it away. 15 ` 50 pound bags of feed...all put up before noon. I am so glad THAT is done. Now I wont have to worry about feed for at least a month....well, for the most part anyways. I might have to grab 6 or 8 more, for the pigs. From looking at the weather future cast...I think...dare I say it?? Spring is FINALLY here. Temperatures in the 70's and 80's for highs, and the lowest is tonight at 48 and after that, lows in the 50's. Yes, I think Spring has sprung! We worked outside most of the afternoon and was able to get quite a bit done today. I am hot, sweaty, sore, tired....and I am LOVING IT! This makes me happy.......
This little apple tree should produce quite well this year. It is going to be the best year yet with it....I hope. But, this next picture makes me even happier!
Do you see it!?? There is a honey bee getting itself some yummy apple pollen...and doing what bee's do for fruit trees. Last week I was able to get about 20 pounds of seed potato's the hubs and I moved 4 loads of mulchy type stuff, clean out from the barn over the winter, on the potato rows after I watered them.
This will help keep them moist, and keep the weeds down. I also planted the onions today.....3 dozen of "Kandy Sweet"
I planted these last year, and boy oh boy, they ARE sweet onions. We really enjoyed them. Hubby tried to till the area for the beets....still too wet. I think maybe by Monday it will be dry enough. I then concentrated on the strawberry patch. I have been saving the cardboard for a few months now so I took it out and laid it between the rows and up to the plants...then covered it with the same stuff from the barn. I only had enough energy to do about half of 2 rows. Tomorrow I will get busy early..and HOPE to get it finished. The strawberries are blooming like mad, so I need to finish this soon!
Oh, and this is on one of my Peach trees. I am not sure what it is but I am leaving it alone. I don't think it will harm the tree...just some critter cocoon...
So, tomorrow there will be more of moving barn mulch....and planting the rhubarb plant I bought. I am hoping in about 3 years, I will have some yummy rhubarb for baking with. So, what is your weather like? Are you able to get into the garden?

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Oh for crying out loud!

I wish there was a "magical" switch someone could flip on so Spring would just warm up already! We have had a few nice days....warm enough that the garlic is starting to come up...the strawberries are blooming...the peach trees and apple trees are blooming...and now..UGH! The weatherman said we will have several days coming up that we will wake up in the mid to upper 20's. I had to cover the little peach trees the other day....I was lucky that the winds were not too strong. I was worried that they might break branches with the weight of the sheets. Whew! So, now that they are in full bloom...looks like we are going to get a few more days of hard freeze. Where is that switch?? I NEED to get planting in the garden. I say " need" because I NEED fresh greens and such. Oh, I could go buy veggies at the grocer....however with all of the recent recalls I fear the "fresh" veggie isle. But I crave fresh greens. COME ON SUMMER!!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Shearing a trip....and a super windy day!

Shearing sheep is one of my LEAST favorite tasks here at Heavens Door Acres. Luckily, I only have one Ewe to shear every spring. Her name is Laura. She is the last Shetland Sheep we will ever own. Not because I don't like them. On the contrary. I just LOVE the Shetland breed. They are small, easy to manage and have wonderful personalities. However, I am just getting to old to be shearing sheep. I don't have electric shears, nor do I have electric out at the barn....yet, so I have to shear her by hand. April 1st, was shearing day. One of my neighbors volunteered to help so I took her up on it. I am sure she will never offer again, after the long day we had on the cold floor of the barn, for 4 hours! *sigh* The scissors I had were not the it took way too long. Poor Laura suffered through, she behaved so well. Because it was taking so long, we didn't get to trim her up and make her look "good" so she is looking pretty rough for now. I will have to give her a week, then get her down and finish the trimming. Here are the before and after pictures. Don't laugh...Here she is in all her glory....
And poor Laura after we "finished" shearing....
My poor Laura...but at least she feels better. Today I had to take my big boy, Caesar, to the vet to be weighed so I could get his flea pills. He is a big boy... 74 pounds....and very protective. He has a mean bark that makes some peoples blood run cold. However....he is terrified of riding in my truck..this is how he rode to the vet and home... big farm dog rode all scrunched up in the floor board of my S-10. I tried to get him to ride in the seat next to me, he would not come out of the floor board. I stopped on the way home to get him a hamburger as a treat for being so good at the vet. He was so scared he would NOT eat his hamburger in the truck. Only after we got home, and he got out of the truck, did he want his treat. *sigh* Today the winds were crazy!! There was a constant wind of 20 - 30 mph with gusts of up to 60 mph! There are several reports of power outages and downed trees. We have a lot of branches down...and my poor old barn really took a beating. Looks like I will have to call the insurance company tomorrow.
With the one piece missing, the hay inside is exposed. Luckily I had a large cardboard box and was able to get the hay covered. It didn't cover all 70 bales....but at least that corner is mostly covered. I am hoping I can get it fixed before we get too much more rain. Now the weather man is saying we are supposed to get a few nights of FREEZING temps. I really am ready for this cold weather to be gone, ready to get in the garden and to have fresh vegetables!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sending off March....with a BANG.

Today....30 March 2016...The weather is supposed to be BEAUTIFUL. 74 degrees however, the storms are coming. Yes...Tomorrow evening there are threats of severe weather. Today however will be a great day to get out there and get a few more things done...things that will make my daily chores a bit more simple. For one...the small chicken coop. There are 4 separate "coops" in one building. This helps keep the breeds separate as well as all of the "extra roosters" As it is right now, each "coop" has a typical swing out door to their yards. These little doors are about 2 1/2 ft tall...and NOT very easy to open in the winter when there is snow on the ground. In the evening when I go in to close them all up, it never fails that a rooster or 2 will run outside....forcing me to clamber my way through that tiny door to chase them back inside. I am getting to the point where this is almost impossible for me to do. My plan is to remove all of the doors and make them "lift style" doors that I can control from the inside with a rope. I will then have to go in the coop area to latch it closed. This will make closing the coop much easier...and it will be safer for the Bantam chickens. Yes, I believe I will work on this today. The sooner the better. I also need to build a grow out pen that I can put the Bantam momma's with their little hatch-lings, until I am confident that the wee ones will be safe around the others. It will be a pen within the pen, with a yard within the yard. This needs to be finished soon since I already have a mother hen with 6 wee ones, ready to be moved from the raised brooder, soon! Daisy is growing with leaps and bounds. Her personality is that of a ornery preteen. Every few days, I will put her lead on and walk her around the pasture. Just a few laps to teach her to lead, and behave on the lead. She is really coming along with this. Her little stubborn stops, where she puts the brakes on and refuses to move, are becoming fewer and fewer. However, now when I am ready to turn her out we stop and I give her extra scratches and praise before I unhook her lead. Once I unhook her, I have to be careful to get out of her way quickly. She will take off running, kicking up her heals, tail up in the air. Her obvious joy in being turned out could end with me on the ground, wincing in pain. I am pretty sure she will outgrow this....I just hope it is soon.
I am also hoping to get the potato's in the ground today. I only have about 20 pounds of seed potato's, but if I plant them properly and keep up with the weeding and adding soil....we should get quite a few to at least get us through most of this next winter. Every growing season I try to add something "new to us" in the gardens. This year I would LOVE to plant a raised bed of Asparagus. Since my husband is not a fan of Asparagus, I will not need to plant a large area. First I will need to build the raised bed. I've only a few more days off from work so I need to get busy, making sure to utilize every bit of good weather I can. As I sit here this morning, with my cup of coffee, waiting on the sun to come up, I plot out my day. Springtime is a very busy time on the homestead. Planting, clearing, and repairs from the long winter. I have to remember to stop...and take in the beauty of Spring. Oh, and I was just reminded of another of my favorite things about Spring....Morel Mushroom season. Yep, It is just about time to go on a little "treasure" hunt. I am excited!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

March' ing on...

OK, so maybe that title was a bad way to say.... " March is passing quickly" It is hard to believe it is already the 23rd of the month! Today was a beautiful day, weather wise. Most of the mud has had a chance to dry up...or, firm up at least, since we have had a few super windy days. This morning after I finished the animal chores I dove right in on getting a few things crossed off of the list. I cleaned up one of the paddocks that I opened up for Daisy, Laura and Sissy. The grass in there is thick and getting pretty tall. There was a few pieces of roof metal laying by the fence, I moved it so they don't cut a leg or something on it. Then I came over to the house area..cleaned out the small flower bed by the bird house and planted my Moon vine seeds. I am hoping I didn't jump the gun on the seeds, but last year I was so late getting them in the ground that by the time they set flower buds and were just about ready to open up, we got a hard freeze. I didn't get to smell one flower from them. This year..I hope I do. After planting them...I grabbed the 3 little Grape Hyacinth that I bought the other day at Wal Mart for $1.00 each and got them planted under the Cedar tree by the front steps. They will get plenty sun there, and be safe from the mower and weed eater. ;) I then moved to the big garden area. One of the smaller raised beds that held carrots last year needed cleaned out. So I pulled weeds and turned the soil...then planted my garlic in there. That didn't take too long so decided to clean up the area that held the tomato's and Brussels sprouts last year. I was able to get about half of that finished before my back said.... " ENOUGH " I was finished outside for the day. Tomorrow we are supposed to get more rain..thunderstorms. If I can beat the rain, I want to plant the 3 pots of Mums from last year, over by the goose house. I hope they didn't get froze out through the winter. I believe they will really brighten up that area. IF I can't beat the rain, well, I guess I will work inside tomorrow. There is PLENTY that I need to get caught up on in here since working so much I have been just doing what was necessary to make it day to day. "Spring cleaning" needs to be done...I might just start with washing all of the curtains. This year, Spring cleaning means throwing out the old, unused "stuff" Hauling it to St. Vincent DePauls. I should be able to fill my little truck at least 3 times by the time I am finished. I am looking forward to opening the windows and letting in the fresh air.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Almost Spring.....Jeepers Peepers!

We are days away from spring....and the tree frogs are letting us know. They are singing in spring, loud and clear. For a tiny little creature, they sure have a large voice. I LOVE hearing them calling out their mating song...the sound of spring. This morning as I walked out back with the dogs...I heard the first deep croak of a bull frog. Now there is a sound I could listen to all day. The mornings are still a bit cool...temps in the high 30's and low 40''s so I get a bit of a fire going in the wood stove before I head off to work. Hubby is thankful for that because when he gets up it is toasty warm. The frogs are telling me, Get yourself ready....get plenty of rest....gardening time is near! This year I am planning a raised bed for Asparagus. I want it off to it can grow well...since it takes a few years to get a good bed established. I also would like to put in another bed, just for garlic. However, since I have been working so much, we will have to see how those plans work out. This weekend I am hoping to get my seed trays started...I am running a bit late, but I think there is still time. Tomato's, peppers, cucumbers,Brussels Sprouts and hopefully pumpkins will be sprouting up soon. I have been keeping an eye on the little fruit trees and yesterday I saw the first little buds. I hope they all do well this year, fresh peaches, apples, and grapes. Our little Daisy Mae is doing just grand. The first few weeks here, she would cry every time she saw me come out of the front door. She would call if she heard me talking to the cats, or if I was chasing the geese back on the North side of the driveway. She cried so much, she lost her voice. It was pitiful hearing her try to Moo...ending with a whisper. She is doing much better now tho, she is getting used to her barn mate, Laura. I have been trying to work with her on halter training, so far so good. Every once in a while she will stop and just look at me as if to say, " I am finished" This is when I encourage her for just a few more laps....then I turn her out. Once I unleash her, she will take off running, kicking up her heals..This makes me smile. The geese are finally starting to lay. Well, I should say..the goose. Turns out we have only one little female, and 2 males. I have started collecting the eggs so I can put them in the incubator and hatch them out inside. They are loving all of the rain we have been getting. We have been flooded for a few days now and the geese are exploring areas of the farm they have never been...and places I don't necessarily want them, like the strawberry patch. I don't want them to think this is a place for them to start feeding on my strawberries! Ohhhh, strawberries....I am excited to be able to have fresh strawberries again.....soon! Happy Spring everyone....are yu getting ready for garden time?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

March 1st...." In like a Lion...."

How does that old saying go? March , In like a Lion, Out like a Lamb. Ok, so that means that if the beginning of March's weather is loud and "roars" then the end of the month will be nice and calm?? I have sheep.....well, we have one Ewe now, but I can tell you first hand..Sheep are not really calm and peaceful. They are generally weary, timid, and fearful. With that in our weatherman says we will have some "fantastic storms" Really? "Fantastic"? They are calling for high winds, Lightening and thunder, driving rain, and possible tornado's. That is " fantastic"?? Do the weather people and I have a different meaning of the word " fantastic"? We must, because the prediction for today's weather does NOT sound like something I am looking forward too. Guess I will just have to make sure all of these critters are dry and cozy for the day...and I will stick inside with my lap blanket and my book.....wait....THAT IS pretty fantastic. Ha, NOW I think I understand why the weatherman is calling these storms fantastic! It really is an Individual perspective. Out little Daisy Mae is really coming along. She is becoming more and more comfortable with her surroundings every day. Yesterday when I went to feed....she came running to the gate to meet me, kicking up her heals and bouncing around. She really is a happy little calf. I stood safely on the outside of the gate until she settled down a bit. Now that March is here and the weather is warming up...I am getting a touch of Spring Fever. I have received a few seed catalogs in the mail already...It is getting to be that time....time to drag out the seed planting materials...go through my "stash" of seeds...and get a few things started. It will be gardening season before we know it, and I am just itching to get out there and feel the sun on my back. So the plan for today...staying indoors because of the storms...going through my seeds and picking out what I need to get started....then cozying up with my book. What are your plans this fine day?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Just a little Mooo

So, yesterday we added a new member to our homestead. Her name is Daisy Mae. She is a newly weaned bottle calf, and I am smitten with her. Here she is, in all her glory.....
Her "position" here at Heavens Door Acres will be to provide us with milk, and babies.( and fertilizer ) As for now, the plan is to breed her once she is older. If she has a little boy calf...he will be kept to go into the freezer. Any females will be sold, once weaned. This will add a little bit more work for me here, but she is so sweet, and worth it. Because she was a bottle calf, she loves to be around humans. She begs for chin scratches and back scratches. I will work on teaching her to lead she learns respect. This will help if a vet is ever needed to come out, or when the grand kids want to be around her. Today the weather is calling for several inches of rain, something we just do NOT need. The weather people are warning us against flash flooding...I am pretty sure our home will be surrounded by a " temporary moat" Once the sun sets, this rain is supposed to turn into snow however I don't think it will stick, or even if it does, it won't last long. Spring is creeping in....and I am happy!
This is the results of the far. Luckily after just a day or two after the rain stops, this will all be gone. While it is here, the geese will be happy to play in it. And now, for some sad news..... over the time frame of 2 weeks, we laid to rest 2 of our little fur babies. 2 Pomeranian's , brother and sister. They were 15 years old and we knew their time was near. It still hurts seeing the empty spots on the dog bed...where they used to lay. little princess...
Muncher....the "class clown" of the family. Rest in Peace my little are missed daily.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Yes, I know, winter officially just started a few weeks ago....but I am already craving Spring. Every day I walk past my garden....sometimes pausing to just look at the " mess" I have in there. Last summer ended quickly, fall crept up and slapped me in the head and said.. " your gardening days are over for the year" We didn't have a fantastic garden year....and actually we barely had a garden at all. The summer was a lot cooler and wetter than "normal" My poor tomato plants struggled all year to put fruit on...and then to ripen. No, we didn't have a great year. I was able to squeeze out enough to get us through the winter...and early spring. Heck, I might even have enough to get us through a good part of this upcoming summer on some things. Tomato products are one of the things I had to buy from the grocer. Luckily, I was able to! Every year I tell myself... " THIS year I am going to be a bit more vigilant with the garden" And of course, by late summer...I realize I am falling behind, then make a mad dash to get caught up. But..... THIS YEAR....I will be more vigilant! HAHA! The last few days I have been craving strawberries. ANYTHING I walk through the grocery store...I am drawn to strawberry "flavored" foods. Breakfast to me. My mind drifts off to the strawberry patch outside my window....the plants laying dormant under the snow....just waiting to wake up and start growing, blooming, and putting on big, red, juicy STRAWBERRIES! Then I cringe with the thoughts of the work I have to do out there before that will be possible. Towards the end of the season last year, like many of us, the weeds took hold and took over. *sigh* Oh, but I have grand plans for that strawberry patch this year. I have a HUGH pile of composting material from the barn...sitting out there cooking away...ready to put in the rows and around the plants after I lay down a good layer of cardboard. Then a bit of panic sets in as I remember that the mobile vegetable stand I planned to build last year...didn't get built. I MUST get that finished this year since I am pretty sure we will be over run with strawberries this year. We started out with a tiny patch about 4 ft x 4 ft....and it was producing between 4 to 6 quarts a day. Now we have 5 rows about 30 ft the 4 x 4 area. Yes, I plan to have enough to barter or sell. The big difference this year is I have a job now...and time will be precious. I need to get busy building that mobile vegetable stand before my time is consumed by working in the gardens. It will not be a large stand....I am thinking something about 4 x 6 or maybe 4 x 8. I have a small metal frame garden cart that has been sitting in the weeds for the last couple of years. I will build the stand over this cart so I can pull it with the lawn tractor to the front of the property and be able to move it for mowing and to be able to " put it away" for winter. Wish me luck! I have already been " plotting " out the garden layout. Dreaming of the warm sun...the smell of fresh turned dirt...then I am jolted from that daydream by the crackling of the wood stove, I sigh and go put another log on the fire. For now I will continue to plan...dream...because before I know it, it will be planting time and I will be rushing around trying to get things done. It happens every year...and ever year I tell myself... " NOT this time, I will be ready"! HA! How about you? Does your spring go as planned or are you caught in a mad dash to get things planted like me?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

My alarm enemy....

So after a few weeks off of is back to getting up at 04:30, waking to the alarm clock. YUK! It will take me a few days of getting used to waking up to it....and with this cold snap of single digits and negative wind chills....that makes it even harder to want to get out from under the covers. Since we heat with our wood stove entirely...the house is cool in the mornings when I wake up. This morning it was 63 degrees when I got up. Luckily there were plenty of hot coals in the stove, so it didn't take long to get a blazing fire going. Sitting here with the fire crackling....feeling the warmth...the glow of my laptop and a hot mug of fresh is hard to get motivated to go get my truck started so it is warm when I get ready to leave. Then my mind wanders to my animals...thinking how cold they must be out there. I feel so bad for them, but I know they have plenty warm bedding...and they are most likely warm enough...but I can't help feel so bad for all of them. I will get home from my morning shift around 8 am. Once I am home I will change into my barn clothes...and start hauling warm water out to them. The pigs, sheep and goats will all get a little molasses and Karo in their morning drink. This will help warm them and bring up their energy levels since I am sure they will use a lot of energy shivering. The birds will all get their scratch grains with plenty cracked corn. The corn is a harder grain so as it sits in their crops, it is a bit harder to digest. As the crop works to digest it, this warms up the birds. The rabbits will all get a large amount of hay with their pellets and Timothy....and I will cut a large hand full of Honeysuckle for them. Honeysuckle is the only thing growing here that still has a bit of green leaves on it...and the rabbits LOVE it! By the time I finish....I will have to come inside, get cleaned up and head back to work for the lunch shift. I might have enough time to sit by the fire with a cup of coffee for about 30 minutes. After the lunch shift, I will get home about 1:15 or so, I will need to get on my barn clothes and haul more warm water to the a "welfare check" and then I will have time to get a few things done the sweeper, wash a small load of dishes...maybe do a load of laundry, then head out and feed the critters and get them locked up for the night before heading back to work for the dinner shift. Since I don't get home until after dark, I like to have them all secured in their shelters, fed, fat and happy before I leave. This way, when I do get home, I can come inside, get my shower and snuggle down in my warm pajamas....and relax. It seems like a busy day, and I guess it is, but I love this little homestead life. It keeps me busy...keeps me motivated...and our " advanced years " I feel it is better to keep going. A few days ago I was starting to feel a bit under the weather, so I knew it was time to get my Elderberry Syrup made. Elderberries are wonderful little berries...they are full of vitamins and anti-viral properties. Now, I am not going to get into all of the scientific stuff but I can tell you they help boost your immunity. If you feel the "need to know" you can go here.. Now, if you look for recipes on how to make Elderberry Syrup, there are many out there, and everyone has their own idea on what you need to " add" to it. for me....I keep it simple. No need to add too many ingredients to " make it flavorful" After is a "medicine" ( or preventative ) and besides....Elderberries really DO taste pretty darned good once you add a bit of a sweetener. Here is what I do. 3 cups of clean, ripe, Elderberries ( Ours grow here on the homestead, and are organic ) 1 cup local raw honey (I purchase from a local beek ) 2 cups water ( I use water from our reverse osmosis faucet to have pure water, free from metals and chemicals) Place the berries and water in a medium sauce pot over a medium high heat. Keep them stirred well and once they start to boil mach them up good with a potato masher. Cook them for about 30 minutes, stirring often. After 30 minutes, strain the berries through cheese cloth into a glass bowl. Let this cool down to room temperature then add 1 cup of honey. Mix it well and put into sterilized pint jars. Wipe the rims well and add your cap and ring. I label mine with "instructions" Take 2 teaspoons, 4 times a day as a preventative and 1 Tablespoon 6 times a day if a cold or flu has struck. Keep refrigerated. This batch should last you through the winter. Toss after 6 months.
You can use half this amount for children, but DO NOT give to kids under two years of age because of the honey. Now...I am not a licensed doctor or anything like, use this with caution. Be smart....take a few doses and make sure your body can handle it. ( this is my disclaimer, you know...just in case) ;) Well, I have babbled long enough..I need to go start my truck and get myself together and head out the door.