We are a christian homeschooling family of 4, living the farm life in north central Alabama. rWe are trying to live as simply and purposely as possible. Follow along as we pilgrim along this wonderful life!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Dreaming the days away....

Hello! Just a quick update on the going ons here on the farm.

It has been COLD. We do have a few warm days scattered about though. I feel badly for the animals outside that have to endure the cold breeze and temps. They are making it just fine and probably much better than I think because of those nice, thick, fur coats. We have 2 litters of older rabbit babies that are several weeks out from butcher and we have 2 pregnant (I think!) does that are due on the 26th of this month. This will be the second or third time I have bred them without any babies, so we will see. I am hoping for large litters, because they go through a 50 pound bag of food a week! With no greens to eat, they eat extra pellets and I detest pellets! There really is no telling what is in that stuff.

I have spring fever very bad!

I found the new Baker Creek Heirloom catalog at Sam's Club last week and I have been pouring myself over it! So many choices, so little time. :) I am going to try to start a lot of my own seeds this spring if I can find somewhere to put the trays. We haven't got the greenhouse up and going yet so finding a place for the trays with seedlings presents to be a problem every year. I usually get them started and they are growing and look beautiful, then I wake up one morning and every one of my seedlings are dead!
I NEED a greenhouse!

But for now, I am happy pouring over the seed catalogs and dreaming of sunny, happy days! :)


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Rainy morning

It rained last night and it felt and sounded wonderful.........

I slept soundly to the fall of it outside my french doors and I awakened this morning to a cool breeze and more and more leaves falling to the soppy~soaked ground.


It's a little slow going this morning, but after my coffee I shall pull myself together and get this day started!

I want to get to work in my new garden plot. I tried yesterday, but the wasp were too bad. They were flying around everywhere and I just decided to wait on the work. So TODAY, should be perfect!

Lots to do!~

I have some plans on gift giving that I will be sharing here soon. Herbal healing, recipes and other cozy, homey things for the homemaker.

Homemaking is such a JOY!

Let us always thank Our Father, up in Heaven, for the blessing of all days. In rain or shine, we should always thank Him for His loving kindness, grace and courage He blesses us with daily.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Gleanings from September and October~

Well, the season has officially changed along with the time, and I have yet to decide if I like it.

I usually love fall and the approaching chilly weather. This year though, I'm just not ready for it. I have already had a cold that lasted the whole 10 days, and wasn't so bad, but just annoying enough to keep me awake at night coughing and sniffling. I wasn't on top of the game with my herbs, and just trudged through it.

We finally started our school year and it is going well. I switched to Teaching Textbooks Math and I am soooooo glad I did! It is like a weight has been lifted off my back! Brody's loving it and I'm loving it because he's loving it and I. don't. have. to. teach. it! Which has allowed me to cater to some other subjects that we've been lacking in. :) History has become one of my favorite subjects now and I'm learning so much! I think I am filling in all those gaps from my own school lessons way back when. I think that's one of the best things about homeschooling is we get to learn right along beside our kids!

Hailey is spending her days crocheting a~ way! (and helping me of course)  I think she is most addicted and for that I'm pleased! She crocheted a DRESS and it is awesome! She finally got to wear it. She always has those sticks in her hands making up something! She is quite the rabbit keeper also and helps tremendously on the farm. I love having her home. I know it's not what the "world" would see as politically correct, but I really don't care. She is learning and thriving being home. She will one  day be a wife and mother, and I think she will excel, and in the mean time~~ she is gaining all kinds of skills they just don't teach out in the world these days.

Missy, our goat, was taken to our friends farm for breeding and should be having our first doeling on the farm in March! She is Nubian/Boer and the buck is Kiko/Boer. Should be an interesting match. We really need to get more does, but the budget just didn't allow us to grow the herd like I wanted this year. There is always next year and I can keep dreaming.....

Missy with her wonderful head gear on. Gotta love duct tape!

We are now down to 4 chickens! YES, I said 4. We had narrowed the bunch down to 10 with the help of the hawks and coyotes. It's a sad thing indeed. My favorite chicken, Mabel, was one of the 6 massacred. And yes, it was a massacre. We went on vacation and we come home to a yard full of dead chickens and feathers and my Mabel was one of the casualties. She was given to me by one of my very dear friends, Sally, and was a very special chicken. I did keep some of her feathers for a special keepsake along with Roscos, who was killed while eating merrily under the mulberry tree by a coyote. I was really wishing I had put up the deer camera while we were gone, but I have learned my lesson. You know, I don't think it matters how old you become, those lessons are going to keep coming at you!
My sweet Mable.

The cows are doing well, and I am hoping for spring babies this year! I hope Bucky Burger did his job and we will have precious baby calves playing in the pasture and of course rich, creamy spring milk! This spring is going to be such a busy, glorious time. Who doesn't love spring babies?

We have butchered our first batch of rabbits. I know this can be a touchy subject for some people and I certainly don't want to scare anyone off. If this is a sensitive subject for you, I would like to share how I dealt with this task.
                        When we started raising them, I had the "cute, bunny syndrome." I was worried about the time to come, when we had to do THE. DEED. How? How on earth can we take this little bunnies life? They are cute, soft, adorable, funny and have sweet personalities to boot! It was hard! We are not raising these rabbits as PETS. They are raised for FOOD and you just have to keep that in mind.

~I ~ had to keep that in mind.

 When you WORK everyday taking care of them, day in and day out, you come to appreciate what they are for and for us, that is food on the table. AND, very good food at that. We were very happy with the results and the taste was delicious! Rabbits are very great to have on the homestead, easy and fun to take care of, and are a wonderful source of low-fat, high protein meat. I would encourage everyone to try to raise these sweet creatures!

Well, the woods are turning in for the winter, leaves are falling in the autumn breeze and all signs of summer are now almost gone. I sure do miss her. I didn't go enjoy it nearly as much as I would have liked! I do have a stack of firewood started that I hope to enjoy soon with a nice cup of hot tea.

Holidays are almost upon us and we will be busily crafting~creating~cooking up a storm!


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Canning Sauerkraut

I've been spending a lot of time canning and putting by things for winter use. One of the things I try to make sure we have on hand is sauerkraut. I've been doing it this way for about 2 years now and have only had one jar go bad.

This is raw, yet it will keep for a year or even longer if you store it properly.

First, round up your supplies and get to cutting!

 You will need cabbage, sea salt or pickling salt, a sharp knife or food processor, cutting board and a large bowl.
Remove outer leaves and wash cabbage.
I usually cut my cabbage into small strips by hand because I like the finished product better this way. You can do it however you would like. It is easier in the processor, but I have a smaller mess when I do it by hand~~~ go figure!
You need a good estimate of how much your cabbage weighs. I usually weigh it in the store then, after I remove the core, I take a little off the weight. I need a kitchen scale badly! I have a tough time weighing out lye for soap too! I do small batches at a time usually. For 5 pounds of cabbage, I will add 3 Tablespoons of sea salt.
When you get your cabbage cut up in your large bowl, you sprinkle over your salt.
I mix the salt in good, then let it sit for about 10 minutes. The cabbage will start releasing its juices. After that, mix the cabbage really well with your hands by squeezing it and working it. It will release more juice and reduce down to about 1/2 the size when you started. At this point, it is ready for the jars!
Reduced down
 Pack tightly in jars, but not too tight. It's not rocket science, but I have added too less before and too much at times. I got these just right!
Fill each jar, leaving about 1/2 inch headspace.
 After you finish filling your jars, put on a lid and ringer. You can use used lids for this and it works just fine. I save a lot of my lids just for making sauerkraut.

 I place the jars in a plastic wash pan and sit out of the way. Or you could place on a towel on a surface that can't be damaged by liquids. They will leak out for about 3 days. They are fermenting! You will see bubbling in the jar, and that is a good indicator that it is doing it's job! After 3 days, the bubbling will lessen, but it may continue to leak some. At that point, I rinse each jar very carefully under water to get most of the juice out from under the lids, which keep it from opening good when you go to use a jar. Do not take off the lid because it is sealed! You will have to refrigerate if you remove the ringer.
After 3 days, they are ready to eat or use in your favorite recipe! It does taste better when it sits longer to me though. This is by far the easiest way to put by sauerkraut. It is in it's raw state, which means it has all those probiotics and enzymes that are great for you and your digestion. If I cook this in a dish, for instance kraut and sausage, I add the kraut at the very end and heat minimally.
I have only had one jar go bad and like with any home canned product, you need to check each jar well before using. Look to make sure you don't see any mold or discoloration. This will usually happen at the top of the jar. After opening, how does it smell?  Honestly, this sauerkraut has an odd smell. Different from store bought kraut. After refrigerating, it smells much better.
Well, this is it! The easiest sauerkraut on the planet and the most nutritious!
Happy canning,


Monday, August 5, 2013

August beginnings

Can you believe August is here already? This has been one odd summer for us here in the south. We've had some hot days and the humidity seems to be lower than usual for this time of year. It's not unusual to go outside and break out into a sweat just by breathing. It's been almost pleasant much of the time, but I have been inside more than usual.

I have been canning a lot! Tomatoes, relishes, jams....... the yummy list just seems to go on and on, and I'm not done yet! Green Beans should be coming in this week so I will work on finishing up the three boxes of tomatoes I have yet to finish! And I need to finish up the apples too!

We've had 2 litters of rabbits born so far this summer. I can't believe I haven't posted about them yet! It's been a great experience so far. I do believe rabbits is one of the easiest animals to add to your homestead and to take care of. They are really cute too. I try not to notice the "cuteness" since it will make it harder to do the butchering that will inevitably take place in just a few short weeks. I haven't tasted rabbit since I was very young, so I will be posting on the rabbit tasting and some recipes I have tagged to try.

We also got our very first milk cow! She is Jersey/Guernsey mix and has the trademark "heart" on her forehead. She is beautiful! She is a little on the "wild" side and we have been taming her up some, but it's going to take more work. She will definitely need to be in a head catch to milk her, but hopefully after some time and building up of trust, we won't have a need for that. I believe she will be calving around the first of April, but we will see. What a wonderful time of the year to have a new calf!

Missy, our doe, sure is getting big! We are hoping she is pregnant. It will have to happen in the next 4-6 weeks though if she is. It only takes 5 months for a goat to have her baby, and since we got her at the end of April, this seems like the logical time frame for her to give birth. Mr. Darcy, our buck is getting big. He is so cute. He is the friendliest goat I believe I have ever had! Missy can be quite standoffish, but he is all out, all the time!

Well, I wanted to post all these cute pictures I've been snapping up, but I'm having some technical difficulties, so I will save for later!

God bless you in your life adventures!


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Butchering Chickens

This year we raised a meat breed chicken for the first time. We have had chickens for years, but only egg layers. We have butchered a few here and there, but this time we had several to do at one time.

We don't have any fancy equipment or stainless steel tables as you will see from our pictures. Unless you are doing this all the time, I don't see why you would need an elaborate set up. Of course this needs to be an outside job. It did get messy. This is what we did.

We wanted our finished chicken to have the skin left on, so to remove all those feathers and to make plucking it easier, you have to dip it in water heated to make the feathers break loose.

We used our outdoor marshmallow roasting fire pit to heat our water. I don't have a turkey fryer so I had to come up with something to suit our needs. I stacked rocks up, then used our gas grill grate to sit my pan on. It worked really well. The pan I used is a large water bath canner I rarely use. After this, I probably won't use it again inside. The fire charred it pretty good, so I will set it aside to only use for this purpose later.

We set up in our yard, at the edge of the woods. I used old saw horses and put a board on them for a make shift table. You can see the killing cone hanging on the tree in the back of the picture. It's a little too big for the chickens we were butchering this day, but it worked.
We started the actual kill when the water reached the correct temperature of around 150 degrees. We researched that the temp should be between 130 and 180. Actually 130 is not hot enough, as we found out. The feathers didn't come out well. 150 seemed to work perfectly though.

I did not get any pictures of the actual killing of the chicken. (sorry..... I know you were wanting to see that!) You simply place the chicken in the cone upside down, cut on each side of the neck and let it bleed out. After it was thoroughly bled out, I went ahead and cut the head off. I collected the blood in a bucket under the cone to be used for my apple trees. In this picture is the "dipping" of the chicken. We just hold by the legs and dip and swirl it around in the water. After about 30 seconds to one minute, the feathers will start coming out easy, then you know it's ready for plucking.

We worked fast, starting with the tail feathers then the wings. Those are the toughest feathers and we wanted to make sure we got those done first, before the bird cooled off. We did this part over newspaper so it will be easy clean up. We used new paper with each one.

After all those feathers were disposed of, we got out the cutting board and started the evisceration. Here Hailey is cutting off the oil gland. That goes first, because you don't want that to contaminate your meat.
Next is the crop. These birds didn't get there morning feed, but did free range, so there wasn't much in there.

Then we cut a small slice in the skin at the bottom, then tore the skin apart. At this point, we reached inside with our hand and grabbed the, uh, all that stuff and put it in the evisceration bucket. We made sure we got everything out, especially the lungs. They can be hard to get out sometimes. It really wasn't messy or bloody at all.
The last thing is the feet. We just cut those off at the joint. With a sharp knife, you can slice right through.

The finished bird! I can't tell you how much it weighed because I don't have any scales, but I assume it weighs 2 1/2 -3 pounds. Somewhat small, but big enough. I cooked this bird that night. We had plenty with 2 pieces left over and it was very good! It wasn't a large bird with grotesque breasts and pumped full of steroids. This bird got to be a chicken. It free- ranged everyday, ate grass and was happy!
We kept the liver, heart and neck to be added to wonderful, homemade chicken stock. I also kept the feet because they make a wonderful broth also. I will detail that out in a different post.
We put 10 birds in the freezer for our future use with still more to butcher out. It makes me feel good  that we raised these chickens up from day old chicks, kept them healthy and happy, and was able to do it all ourselves.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Blueberry jam

One of the easiest things to preserve in the summer is fruit.  All you really need is your fruit of choice and sugar. I never put pectin in my jam to make it thicker. I really feel it is a waste of money for jam. We like a runny jam, very spreadable, that's good on biscuits, pancakes or just about anything!
First, take your berries and wash them well. After a good rinse, place the berries in a large pot. You want to make sure your pot is large because you will be boiling the mixture and you don't want it to splatter out on you or your stove.

Pour all the berries in the pot, place over high heat and start the cooking process.  At the same time, I get the water bath canner going. You want the water really hot in the canner. Place it on high heat and put the lid on. Hopefully, it will get to boiling about the same time you will place your jars in it.

You can add a little water to the berries, to keep them from sticking if needed.  As soon as they start getting soupy, I start adding sugar. I add 2 cups to start.

Then, I start tasting. I keep adding sugar, one cup at a time, until it is as sweet as I like. With this batch, I added about 5 cups of sugar. I used about one gallon of berries. 
Your mixture should be boiling and you should be stirring. :)
You will start noticing foam forming along the top. Try to skim most of that off. A ladle works well for this. I don't worry too much if I don't get every bit off.
Let it cook until it starts getting thicker. This may take anywhere from 15 minutes to 30 minutes. Just remember that the finished product will be thicker, so you will have to judge for yourselves when it looks good to you.
When it finally gets exactly like you want it, it's time to fill the jars!
Fill each jar, leaving about 1 inch headspace.
Make sure you wipe the top of each jar with a clean, damp cloth. If you don't, it could prevent the lid from sealing.
Place a hot lid on top and secure with band. I keep my lids hot in a small pan of water on the back of the stove. If you haven't got a lid grabber like the one shown, GET YOU ONE! SOON! No more burning fingers. :) I do believe it is one of the most greatest of inventions.
Using your jar grabber, place in your canner very carefully. In the picture you may notice a towel. I placed it on the bottom to keep my jars from sitting right on the bottom. It works great. I do have an insert, but I thought I might have more jars than what would fit in it.
After all the jars are in the canner, bring back to boiling and boil 10 minutes. Use your jar grabber to remove the jars after the required time. They are hot so don't burn yourself. Place on a towel out of the way so they won't be disturbed for 24 hours.

The end product. Something wonderful made with a little time and effort! Canning and preserving is hard work, but is one of the most satisfying things a wife can do for her family. Especially when winter is upon us. There's nothing quite like opening a jar of "summer" in the freezing cold!
Happy canning!

Catching up

I can't believe my last post was in February! I seriously need to do some catching up!

Well, lots have been going on. We purchased our first dairy goats in April! We bought a Nubian/Boar mix doe, a Nubian buckling and 2 LaMancha bucklings. Yes, I know we don't need all these bucklings. I had in mind to later sell the LaManchas, but unfortunately we have lost them both to a predator.
After 2 weeks, I started letting the goats have grazing time on the pasture. Each afternoon, I would put them back in the farmyard. Things were going well until the first goat got gone, along with several chickens. We searched for hours looking for that goat. We never found a trace of him. I was upset to say the least.....

We lost the other LaMancha, but we did find part of his body. At that point we knew we where looking at a coyote, wild dog or a cat of some sort. Brad staked out in the woods for a couple hours, but It never came back because I guess it was too full on goat and chicken!
That same day, I walked to the Mulberry tree to try to get the last remaining berries and I saw fresh chicken feathers! I knew it was the feathers of my very favorite roo Roscoe. He was a Coronation Sussex given to me by a dear friend. Roscoe would follow me around a lot hoping I would toss him a bug or kitchen scraps. I really miss him and now wish I had been more aggressive on breeding him to my best hen. :(

We were given 2 female rabbits by some friends of ours. We have been wanting to start raising rabbits as another meat source. Several weeks ago, while we were at the covered bridge having our weekly get together with friends, Hailey caught a rabbit! It ended up being very tame and was obviously somebodys "Easter" bunny. Who ever owned it probably got tired of it and let it go. Well, that rabbit ended up being a boy! Now we are in business!
We bred one of our females to him and just this Monday she had her first litter of 6! They are not kidding when they say 31 days is all it takes! She seems to be a great first time mother and hasn't eaten a single one of her babies which we've read they are prone to do if they don't have enough protein in their diet. We are very happy raising rabbits because of the easy car of them. More on this later because we are learning a lot!

Well, I just wanted to drop in and say hello and to let you know we are still here. Just very busy. We are now in the middle of summer and everything is growing fast and having babies. Yesterday, our duck hatched out her first duckling! Cute!

Today, I am "putting by" blueberry jam, blueberry syrup, pickle relish and tomatoes. Busy, busy, busy.......


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Odds N Ends.....

It's been a little while so I thought I would drop in.

Right now I am sick in bed with a terrible cold. Brad came home with it Thursday night and was sick over the weekend, and now I have it in full swing. I don't like being sick at all!

We have been caring for a calf that had gotten down at my father in laws farm. We brought it here and it was getting better, but now it seems we have done all we can for it. I just don't think it's going to make it, poor thing. Last week, I called the vet and he fixed up several syringes of meds to give it. He told me that if it didn't get better after this, there probably won't be anything left to do for it. I guess he was right. Brad and I went out this morning to get her up and she just doesn't have any more strength to stand anymore. I pulled muscles in both arms heaving her up, and I just can't do it anymore. We have had to pull her up everyday for a week. I was hoping she would pull through and make a nice addition to the farm.

Hailey has a new blog called Handmade by Hailey Bug. She has a couple of orders so far. She loves to crochet and does very good work. She decided to start this business after deciding not to attend college. She is a stay-at-home daughter and is still learning the art of being a Godly housewife. She is going to make someone special a very good wife and helpmeet one day. I will probably write more on this beautiful alternative to college in a later post!

Brody is .....well, Brody! I am pretty sure all he has on his mind is dirt bikes and it's all Brad's fault! :)
Some days, I can't believe we get anything done with all his plans and daydreams. He is very good at riding his dirt bike and doing jumps, tricks and wheelies. He is all boy, full steam ahead, every day the moment he wakes up, and has been that way since birth!
Last week, he told me he wanted to be a veternarian. I thought that was brilliant until I asked him to go help me with the cow. He does not like to be around sick animals. I asked him how he was going to be a vet, when he didn't want to help me EVER with the animals! He said that he was going to hire it done, and let them do all the work and he would over-see. Kids, they just don't understand.......

I have a Kombucha scoby growing that I am excited about! It should be ready in about 1-2 more weeks. I grew it myself from a bottle of kombucha from EarthFare. It had a tiny scoby in it.  After a little research on "growing your own kombucha scoby", I got it going and it is growing!! I will have a full post on this later. If you don't know what kombucha is, do a little investigating. It is fermented tea that is very good for you! I used to drink it a long time ago. I brewed again in 2010, and got sick. I still don't know if it was a virus, or the tea, but I was in PAIN! Every bone in my body hurt, from what I believe might have been lactic acid build up. I have drank several bottles of it lately from EarthFare with no ill effects. In fact, my body is wanting more. I am craving it, which leads me to believe I really need it right now. Our bodies sure have a way of letting us know when we need things, doesn't it?  I am looking forward to enjoying a cup of my tea soon!

I started a few seeds this morning before I got confined to the bed! Yesterday afternoon, I sterilized soil so I could bring it inside without all the nasty things growing and killing my seedlings.
YES, I know you can go pick up a bag of soil in the stores for a couple of bucks.
I asked Brad to pick me up a bag of organic potting soil and he came back without one saying,"all that's in it is dirt and manure and we have plenty of that stuff."
Why yes we do!
He just didn't realize that the stuff in the stores are sterilized. You can't just get dirt from outside and bring it INSIDE and it work out. You could have all kinds of creepy things growing in no time at all!
So, I spent the afternoon outside building me a fire and cooking dirt and you know what?
I kinda enjoyed it.
It wasn't so bad. This is some of the best dirt around after years and years of leaves rotting on it and now it's even better after being "cooked"!

Saturday, I put 41 chicken eggs in the incubator. I can't wait to see what hatches out. I put one of Mabels eggs in there, but I'm not sure its fertile. Mabel is a Top Hat Polish. She is my favorite out of the bunch. Very curious, happy and comical. She keeps us laughing! I put several of my eggs from my bunch and several from a farmer I get free-range eggs from. I always get a few Dominiques out of his and I would love to add some to my flock.

I am looking forward to Spring! Lovely, beautiful, birds-a-singing SPRING!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day!

I hope your day is filled with lots of love!



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

rising smoke

I woke up early this morning like usual...

I smelled smoke, but not "fire" smoke. I knew what it was. Damp, greenish wood does not burn well in any circumstance. The last time I loaded the heater last night, I used a BIG piece of "questionable" wood. It was damp and I thought the fire was hot enough to finish burning it up, but no. So, a greenish, damp piece of wood that didn't get hot enough to burn all the way, sit by through the night quietly smoldering. That's when it faintly "leaks" out of the heater all night, and we awaken EARLY to this smell that smells like a forest fire that's been doused with water.

 Not pleasant, not pleasant at all.

But, the heater doesn't come first upon rising. Coffee comes first! I can't function well without my first cup. Hailey got woke up too by the smell at the same time I did, and later told me she was debating about getting up to check on it, (bless her heart), but heard me get up and knew I would. She said she heard me get the coffee pot ready first and was surprised because that "smoke" in the house was a little alarming!

I did raise a window on the way to the COFFEE pot.......

All is well now on the homefront.

Looking forward to the rain stopping for a little while. Although it's been great for my garden, it isn't so good for firewood.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Being Sick and Getting Well

I have been sick with a stomach bug this weekend. I haven't had a stomach virus in a long time. It is a mild one~~"Thank You Lord"!
 I hate those kind that are gut-wrenching. You probably know the kind I'm talking about. The ones where you have to camp out in the bathroom for two days. We have had those kind and probably will have again, but this one is quite tame.
When I get sick, which isn't a lot, I begin to feel like I'm not doing enough to keep myself well. Then I start a "mini-resolution" goal of some sort. I start telling myself  I will start taking my herbs like I should. I will get more exercise. I will eat better. I will, I will, I will......... But, this time I think I need to be serious about it.
I'm actually going through a case of dis-ease. I have lots of female problems that I didn't know existed until I went for my checkup. I also went to an herbalist and had an iridology reading. It was almost creepy~ in a good way~ because he was right on with most, if not all, of my aliments.
So, this is what I want need to do.

Start an exercise program.
I am looking into the T-Tapp program. I have heard lots of good reviews on this.
Take my herbs regularly.
I will take them even if I feel like I can't stuff another capsule down my throat! I will drink that terrible tasting stuff because I know it is good for me and I need it!
Cut down out sugar.
This is going to be hard........ I have nothing else to say to this. I know I will not suceed, but I will try!
Pray and read my Bible more.
It goes without saying.... we NEED Him MORE. He does a wonderful job of "cleaning" us up on the inside doesn't he?

This is what I will start with. I don't think it sounds too hard. The exercise might even be fun. I will get Hailey to do it with me. It will be yet another fun thing to do together!


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Early Garden

Yesterday, Hailey and I started to work in the garden. It was like a spring day with temps in the 60's and sunny! I don't have spring fever yet, but I knew we had to start on it.

Fresh tilled ground!

I tilled the entire garden spot up. Hailey said it looked like it was bigger than usual, which it was. I really have 2 gardens separated by a 4 ft walk-through, but I decided to plow it up and make one big area. The new area has what I think is Bermuda grass, and it is bad! I will have trouble keeping it weeded, but hopefully will control it. That grass wants to take over and has a massive root system! I don't use weed killer at all on my property. I think I will try a strong salt water as a natural weed killer this year. I will have to research that.....

We planted sugar snap peas, turnip greens and collard greens. I will have to stake the peas, but that can be done later after they come up. I love to eat snap peas raw. They are very sweet and crunchy. Even the kids like them raw, but won't eat the cooked peas. I am the only one who likes green peas so I don't plant a lot. I will freeze a couple of bags to have on hand for chicken pot pie or other casseroles that call for a little.

We also planted a long row of turnip greens and collard greens. I like to just throw the seeds thickly on the ground and I usually don't even cover them up. We are getting rain today so they should fall on into the dirt nicely with the rain. I planted collard greens last year for the first time. A friend gave me established plants and they did well. We only got to have them for supper one time because it got too hot on them and the bugs started eating on them as well. Which reminds me..... I left those collard greens in the garden all summer. Everyone that saw them said I should pull those up. They indeed looked pitiful but, those ugly, eaten on things were a natural bug repellent! I didn't have near the problem of bugs on my other plants because they were feasting on those! It was a great discovery so keep that in mind while planning your garden. Give those bugs something to eat on and they will leave your other stuff alone.

Last, but probably the most important, is the green manure crop. On the remaining tilled ground we planted Red Clover! I am excited about this because I will actually get to harvest quite a bit of this wonderful herb before I plow it under. It is pricey to buy it online. Red clover is rich in nutrients and minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium. It is used as a blood purifier and overall tonic herb. It also is used for cancer. It has a beautiful red flower head that makes it even more appealing!

I will also be planting some different varieties of lettuce and potatoes soon. I canned potatoes for the first time last year and they have been wonderful to have on hand this winter! I never thought to can them until I read online that it was a great way to preserve them and it is! How very easy it is to open up a jar and heat it up. From there you can make potato salad, mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes....well, you know what I mean! :)

a view of the pasture

What do you have planned for your early garden? I would love to hear from you!

Happy early gardening to you!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Homemade Potpourri

In the winter time, I like to dry all kinds of things for my own homemade potpourri. I use the rinds of oranges, corncobs and many things outside that can be brought in, dried and added. I use dried herbs, flower heads, cloves and pinecones to name a few. You can use just about anything and the more natural it is, the better.

 After we eat corn on the cob, I take each piece and wash it good, then place under my wood stove for drying. I think it's a perfectly good use for something that would otherwise get thrown out.

When you gather everything you would like to add to your potpourri, the next step is drying. I use our wood heater. It doesn't take long at all to dry most things this way. Sometimes just a day. You can also use a paper bag. I dry lots of herbs in the summer time this way. Just place your goodies in the bag without overcrowding, fold down the top, secure with a clip or clothespin and place in a sunny window. It takes several days to a few weeks this way, but it does work. You want whatever you use to be dried to keep it looking good and also for bacteria. If it's not dry, you may have mold growing on your orange rind before long.

Once you have everything dried, it's time to add the most special part. The scent! During winter, I like to use cinnamon or clove, or both! In summer, I like a flowery scent like jasmine or lavender. I use pure essential oils for my scents. In my "slightly advanced age", I have become very sensitive to perfumes and synthetic fragrances. Essential oils are natural and usually will not leave me with a pounding headache like that other stuff does. It's not hard to find EO's. Natural health stores carry a wide range of different scents and of course stores online will have any scent you may want. They can be a little expensive, but will last a very long time because a little goes a LONG way!

Take all your potpourri and add to a plastic ziplock bag. Add your drops of scents, seal the bag and shake well. Add several drops of EO.  Leave for a few days. This will dry further and seal in your scent. Now add to your potpourri jar and finish with a pretty bow or raffia. Ta da! You have your very own special potpourri

Very "country" potpourri!

I placed mine in my bathroom. It smells like cinnnamon and cloves and is lovely.

Have fun making your own potpourri!


Ps. I promise to add pics soon. I am having technical issues..... :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Back-drafting and Little Bit

Hello all! I didn't want January to get away without a post. It has been busy~busy here and about and time is flying by always!
Christmas was good this year. We slowed down just a little, but not enough for me. We'll keep working on it though :) It was great to see old friends and family during the holidays! Lots of get-togethers and the FOOD was terrific as always.

A few days ago, we got SNOW! Lots and lots in just a few hours. I think we got about 2-3 inches here at our house. BUT..... I didn't get to enjoy much of it while it was here because our wood stove started back-drafting like crazy! I was distraught over it for a little while. OK~~~ ALL DAY. I love our wood stove. I DEPEND on that wood stove to keep us all cozy and warm. We do have other heating, but it is not the same. This kind of heat feels like you have a nice, cozy blanket around you. It is a pure heat. Yes, it's messy and sometimes it smells like a barbeque pit when we burn hickory, but I love it and I plan to burn wood as long as I have it to burn!

I took a good bit of the flue apart, checking for a clog and there was not one. But, it did need a good cleaning, so I cleaned it, hoping for the best. I put everything back together and started another fire. It started to act up again so out went the fire. :(  And another good airing out of the house for the 50th time that day. Now remember~ It is SNOWING this whole time. The kids are outside having a ball and I'm having a melt-down because my favorite winter "toy" is not working! I decide to take a break and go put out hay for the cows and that's when the real fun began.

I bundle up, go get the hay and start calling the cows up. I see everyone except the little bull calf we call Little Bit. We bought him at the sale back in October and I raised him on the bottle. He'd been weaned and was thriving on grass and hay and a little grain every once in a while. We finally spotted him laying in the snow. He was near being in a complete coma, but was still chewing his cud, bless his heart.

I had taken pictures of him and the other cows just a few hours before. They watched Hailey for the longest time build a snowman. He was perfectly fine then and now he was dying. Brad and I snatched him up and took him to the warmest spot I could think of..... my living room.

 Yes! The living room. It's cement anyway. No harm to the floor. I just rolled my big rug up and we started bundling Little Bit up with old blankets. We put down plastic and paper to keep things cleaner. We tended to the little thing and did everything we could to help him. He just couldn't shake it and finally gave it up.

When you have animals you will lose some. I think it gets easier to deal with over time. I probably couldn't have handled this when I was younger, I had such a emotional tug with animals. Now, years have passed and many animals we have lost to death and it does get easier to deal with.

Needless to say, our first big snow day of the year was an eventful day. We were quite exhausted when it was all over with and fell into bed late that night already asleep I think!

I'm looking forward to the next snow! My heater is now fixed and I've got wood stacked up and ready to go! I'll be keeping an extra eye on the cows and hopefully catch it the next time one gets sick.

Blessings to you all,