Monday, July 25, 2011

Catching Up

Today was a day of catching up on things left undone. The animals were all doing well. We needed milk and it was one of the first days I felt well enough to save it. I also checked the garden. I had cucumbers as big as zucchini and zucchini as big as my bird dog! The tomatoes are really producing well and it is time to make marinara sauce and salsa. I picked a large basket of red and yellow bell peppers and the first of our patty pan squash. I am really surprised at how well things are doing considering the heat and lack of rain. There were a few casualties, a few potted plants and herbs did not make it while I was unable to water ;o( Ah well, the boys did a great job elsewhere and I am grateful for that!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sick Days

And so Tuesday I woke up feeling a bit odd. As the morning wore on I knew I was coming down with something. By late evening I had a fever of 103*. I haven't run a fever in 18 years! (really!) and so it really kicked my butt. For the next three days I felt like I was in a coma. The boys were able to do the feeding but I still had to drag myself to the barn to milk. Needless to say it all got dumped on the ground. Thankfully today I am back in the land of the living. Though not a hundred percent, certainly a hundred percent better! As I finally wandered outside, I had to laugh at this stick I found hanging on the chicken coop.

 It seems the tom turkey was giving someone a fit during feeding time. Haha!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Blueberries & Freezing Chickens

I met a friend early this morning to pick blueberries. It was a lovely morning and shortly we had our baskets overflowing with berries. I then headed home to milk the goats and freeze chickens. Freezing today was a bit of a challenge as my food saver was being a bit cantankerous. Finally I got the kinks worked out of it and with my mom's help we moved along. It still took until 4 though. Time to feed and back in to can the stock. Slowly the fridge is gaining some space and things don't fall on my toes when I open the door! There was no time to deal with the berries so I will work them up tomorrow.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Making Stock

Today I boiled the carcasses from yesterday. The two largest pots I own were filled to the top with onions, carrots, garlic, celery and salt and pepper and of course chickens. I set the pots to simmer all day. My kitchen was filled delicious smells. While the stock simmered I canned the tomatoes harvested yesterday. Once the stock was done I strained it and picked the bits of chicken from the bones to freeze for something down the road.. Two gallons! I let the stock cool and stuck it in the fridge. Tomorrow I will skim any fat and can it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Butchering Day

When I opened my eyes this morning I was already tired. Seems I spent the night picking blackberries! Geezz.
We had slight reprieve because it was raining. So I dozed an extra hour. It was time to get started. One could not have asked for a more perfect day. Overcast, cool and slightly misty, it was a true blessing.
During the night a couple of the white rocks had escaped. Oops, forgot they can fly. They were way out in the pasture so they will be dealt with on another day. Last week my husband hurt his back so we also opted to not butcher the white rock hens and so as I caught them I clipped wings and put them in with the laying hens.That still left 50 birds. We left 35 or so whole and the rest we cut up. Unlike in years past I decided to keep the carcasses to make stock. Waste not, want not. It took about four hours to butcher. After we were finished and the birds in coolers covered with ice, I headed to milk and the boys cleaned up. Today's milk went to the critters. Since I was not keeping the milk it was a good opportunity to trim hooves and give the girls a once over. Last on the list was to check the garden. Finally tomatoes (and lots of them!) with no wholes in them. Yeah!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Chicken Roundup

I baked a double round this morning (20 loaves) in order to get an extra early start tomorrow butchering chickens.The rest of the day I spent  pickling beets, the last from the spring crop. Another 16 pints put in the pantry.The few that are left in the ground will be eaten fresh and shared with family members.
When my husband got in from work, we headed down to round up the chickens. I have to say this was one of our more intelligent moves in recent history! I had only watered the chickens this morning so they were hungry. We backed the horse trailer up to the orchard and made a ramp with plywood. I sprinkled feed up the ramp and in the trailer. They marched up and in! Of course there were a few of the white rocks that I had to track down, but for the most part it was really easy. While I finished feeding,  Doug set up the plucker and scalding pans. We are set and ready to go at daylight!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Beets, Broth and MORE Pickles

The beets are ready to be pulled. I need room in my freezer. The huge bag of cucumbers I shoved in the fridge threaten to fall on my toes every time I open the door. Where to start.
I pulled several packs of beef bones from the freezer and put them in the oven to roast on low while I baked and milked this morning. All morning my kitchen smelled heavenly. After I strained the milk, I pulled the bones from the oven and tossed them into a large stockpot with celery, onions, garlic and salt & pepper. On the back burner, I let them simmer most of the day.
My husband called and said he would be in for lunch. This put a slight crimp in my plans because it would now be noonish before I finished chores and headed to the garden. Being that the heat index was going to be well over 100* I was not looking forward to being out at that time of day. However, it was not so bad. I have learned that you just move a little slower ;o)!
Chores done~ which in this heat, means making sure all water buckets stay full and clean, along with feeding took about an hour. I headed to the beet patch. I pulled 2 peck baskets full and made the decision that since these are not my favorite vegetable, that would be plenty when I added them to the ones already canned. The boys love them, and I love the boys. Most of the time.
Back in the house, I topped and washed the beets. It was now 1:45. The beets were shoved in the place where the cucumbers once lived and I commenced to making pickles. (Beets on Friday!) 10 jars today and a variety of shapes including "sandwich slices" and whole. Lastly, I strained the broth and canned it. I would have had 4 quarts but it was so incredibly delicious that I drank two large cupfuls before canning. The broth was so rich, dark and full of flavor. Definitely a lovely addition to the pantry. 


Monday, July 11, 2011

Getting Ready To Butcher

Butchering day for the chickens is set for Saturday. Being that we will be processing around 65-70 birds our plan is to catch them all Friday evening and put them in the horse trailer.The only problem with that is the horse trailer is already full of onions.Yes, our horse trailer is kinda like duct tape~ it has MANY uses. So out came the onions.We tied them  in bundles and hung over the rafters in the shed. Probably where they should have gone in the first place but there was that time thing..
I had to check the sheep again today and see how our parasite problem was doing. I was very pleased to see most were doing well. A few had to be dewormed but for the most part they were in good shape. I am hoping the kelp/DE mixture and the goat mineral mixed with sheep mineral is helping,
Last on the list was to weigh out potatoes for the CSA to pick up.
That done, I started supper. Eggplant dipped in egg, rolled in fresh breadcrumbs and lightly sauteed in olive oil served with a sauce made with homegrown beef, tomatoes, onions and peppers AND the creamy tomato soup. That won rave reviews.So incredibly delish and so simple. Enjoy!
                                Creamy Tomato Soup:
Process 2 cups of fresh or canned tomatoes with 2-3 cloves of garlic and a handful of fresh basil. Add 6 ozs. cream cheese and process until smooth. Transfer to sauce pan and add 1 cup or so of heavy cream. Heat through. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Preserving The Harvest

In the last few days we have received another 2 inches of rain. The cucumbers have run amuck and I have picked daily. Tomatoes are coming in as well. So today was a canning and dehydrating day. The first to be done were the tomatoes. I filled the dehydrator full and what was left I canned. These were mostly paste tomatoes, so I just peeled and canned them whole. Of course one jar didn't seal :o( and so tomorrow I am going to make a creamy tomato and basil soup. On to the cucumbers. Some  spears and some slices, for total of 9 pints. At the end of the day, satisfaction guaranteed!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Off Topic~ Listening To Your Body

Okay. For the last few weeks I haven't felt quite myself. Lower back pain, stomach pain. It could certainly be stress, but I just felt something was not right within. I made a Dr's appointment. It even sounded stupid to me as I explained my symptoms to him. How bad does it hurt, he wanted to know. Not enough to slow me down and certainly tolerable but something is strange. He knows me fairly well, I am not a complainer, I darken his door for physicals every year or so~ give or take a few months. Other than that I don't go. He prescribed a medicine for IBS and  told me I  MUST take it so we could eliminate some things. Not a medicine taker I wanted to balk. Food is my medicine. I feel most things can be healed that route. However, I did humor him and take it as prescibed. It did not work. I had a CT scan done and today I was informed that there is a tumor on one of my ovaries. Surgery will be scheduled in a couple of weeks. If I said I wasn't a bit scared I'd be lying. However, we move past that and life does keep going here on the homestead. I mean really, the goats still need to be milked and the critters fed and water. Good Heavens! I have 65 birds to butcher and pickles to can and tomatoes to can and, and, and.
This was my point. Your body tells you things. You must listen to it and honor it. The tumor is small, most likely benign but had I not gone and said something is not right..

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Saturday's Chores

On today's to do list was cheese making, dehydrating tomatoes and freezing plums.The boys had a day of mowing and yard work ahead of them. Bread delivered and milking done I heated milk for a pot of chevre, added the culture and set it aside for the day. Then I started slicing tomatoes for the dehydrator. I used a mandolin this time and it made it go much quicker than usual. It also made all the slices uniform which in turn made them all dry at the same time. I don't know why I didn't do it before!! Once those were in drying, it was on to the plums. I used a cherry pitter on the smallest ones and it worked pretty good. Three quarts were tucked in the freezer for making jam  this winter when more time is available. By the end of the day the tomatoes were dry and I two large quart bags full. Then it was time to drain the cheese. A good day's haul for sure!  

Friday, July 1, 2011

Garlic and Potatoes

My husband is home for a holiday weekend. Our first chore of the day was to sort the potatoes and top the garlic. Potatoes were done and put in the cool basement to store for the winter. On to the garlic. That finished, I headed to the barn to milk and he headed to the garden to till the rows where the potatoes had been and ready the ground for the crowder peas and late drying beans. I planted drying beans called Hutterite and Tiger's Eye. I also replanted the green beans that I thought had not germinated well, but think now that the chickens may have been enjoying sprouts instead. Finally the crowder peas went in and we got the corn weeded. The better part of the day was gone so we finished up with the evening chores and called it a day.