Monday, October 21, 2019

This Week's Canning

Had to have my canning fix for the week! Today I canned boneless chicken breast. So easy to do. I cubed the chicken, raw packed into jars, added a smidge of salt and processed 75 minutes, Done!
Ready for the pantry and perfect for a casserole or quick chicken salad.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Pouring A Little Bit of Soap

I was recently asked to make some special order soaps. One of the stores that carries my soap has been mixing their own special essential oil blends. One is called Hippie Farmer and the other is called The Farmer's Wife. They both smell divine. While I was soaping I went ahead made a round of Russian Tea the always popular scent, especially around the holidays.

Sunday, October 13, 2019


We were wakened during the night by a very strange sound. RAIN! It was raining. A slow soaking rain. It rained most of the night. The fields looked settled, the world looks clean and happy. Blessings abound on the homestead! We should see some green in the fields very soon.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Ready for Rain

There is finally some rain in the forecast. It is the first really good chance we have had in a long time. The boys headed out at daylight to get the fields ready to be planted.They had picked up supplies yesterday. The trailers were loaded down with seed, fertilizer, lime and straw. I had strict instructions to head up to the field when I had finished morning chores. Chickens out, baby goats fed, cow milked, poop scooped and milked strained and in the fridge I took the new Gator and wandered up. My job was to follow around with materials and help fill the hopper on the tractors and pick up any rocks that turned up. We ran low on seed so I had to go back to the feed store for another 100 pounds. After all the fields were planted we had to blow straw on a sloped area so it would hopefully not wash too much. So my next job was to drive the truck while the boys loaded the blower and blew the straw and try not to toss them off the trailer. I done good! No injuries to report! It was dusk when we finished.

It had been discussed repeatedly on what to plant. Finally we decided to sow two fields in winter rye grass, the garden in rye grain and the new pasture in fescue. We are ready for rain.

Friday, October 11, 2019

More Cow Drama

A couple of days ago I noticed Violet had some swelling under her jaw. Her skin was loose and filled with some fluid. I would say it looked kind of like bottle jaw that I have seen in goats. I called my vet and told the office person all my details. That was at 3. She said she would have him call me back. I carried my phone around all day. I finally had to plug it up to charge but still stayed close. Finally at 8, I needed to feed one last dog. In the 2 minutes I was gone he called. He left me a message saying how he was sure the calf could not have bottle jaw. The office person got the whole story mixed up. Sigh. And of course, I couldn't call him back. Yesterday I called first thing and got to speak with him.  He proceeded to scare me half to death. Usually fluid under the jaw is associated with heart problems. If so, she was going to die. Or maybe she has swallowed a piece of metal and it was in her heart, if so, she was going to die. He did suggest I worm her which I did. I finally said can you just please come look at her!? He said it would be Friday. (today). He got here around lunch. By this time a lot of the swelling was gone. Now remember she was not supposed to be bred so I was not feeding her like I would a pregnant cow. I had remembered the day I brought her down to the barn she wore out the mineral lick and drank a ton of water. I asked him if possibly this was the cause. He took her temp and listened to her heart and all seemed to be normal. He said he had never seen it before but the fluid could have been from her overindulgence on the lick. Of course not. Only here on the homestead!
He then asked what I was going to do with the bull calf. I said I didn't know and had halfway thought about keeping him. I got a quick "Don't do that". I know Jersey bulls can be nasty I just didn't know how nasty. I've known my vet for almost 30 years. He was genuinely concerned for me and told a couple of awful stories of people he had known that were killed by a Jersey bull. Sooooo, Hank will be castrated in the near future and will be headed off to freezer camp down the road.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Barn Day and A HUGE Surprise!

Today was an absolutely beautiful Fall day. The first we have had. Our chore for the day was to clean the barn out and get things ready for winter. The hall was scraped out. stalls cleaned, fresh shavings put down and gates replaced.
About lunch time Hubby had walked to another shed to get some tools. I heard him yell for me to come quick that something was going on with Violet my other cow. I ran to her shed to find out she was in labor! We had no idea she was even bred. Today was almost exactly 9 months to the day we picked the cows up! She must have bred a day or two before that. She blessed us with a little girl. Wow. Just wow. I had gone from 2 cows to a full fledged dairy herd in 1 month! Her name?
Autumn. 💖💖

Friday, October 4, 2019

My Birthday Present!

My birthday was a couple of weeks ago. Hubby came home and said he had to order my gift. I really didn't think much of it until he pulled up yesterday with this! A brand new Gator. The one I have been using on the homestead is over 20 years old.
This morning I was loading up my milking supplies and hopped on my old one. Hubby held up his hands and asked why I wasn't on my new ride. I said all my stuff was in the old one. By the time I had finished straining my milk he had transferred everything over and had hidden the old one in his shop! Later today my daughter in law said she had jokingly told my son hubby would have to disconnect something on the old one so I would drive the new. Haha. She was pretty close! I am such a creature of habit. I still mow grass with my ford mower that's 27 years old even though we have a brand new zero turn. Yes. Old habits die hard for me!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Homemade Cheese and Pizza

The fridge is brimming with milk and today's chore was to do something with it. First I skimmed a couple of gallons and made some fresh butter. I'll use that later this week to make some cookies.
Then I made a quick cheater's mozzarella. It is too easy! I heat 1 quart of milk to 86* and add 1/4 cup of white vinegar.
It curdles right away.
I keep stirring until it forms a blob.
I then work it for a couple of minutes in the hot whey and presto.  It literally only takes about 5 minutes. I made 4 rounds.
I used that on our veggie pizzas tonight. Yum!

Friday, September 27, 2019

Moving Day For The Chickens

I have been keeping the baby chicks in wire cages in the barn during the day and putting them in the tack room at night for safety. They have outgrown the cages and today they got to move up to a bigger pen. I set up an old ex-pen near the barn and moved the brown egg layers in it. The were so happy! Running and flapping their wings made for quite the comedy show!
The bantams are still small and would squeeze out so they were separated into a couple of wire cages. They are just plain cute! Looks like a silkie and a black frizzle for sure. I need to find my catalog to see what else we have.
But only for the days can they stay out. At night they must go back in smaller cages so nothing has them for supper.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Adding To The Pantry

I have a serious addiction. If I go a week without canning something, I feel almost depressed! ;-) Yesterday I canned some more beef stew from some some grass fed beef I found marked way down at the store. It was a deal too good to pass up. Today I canned the rest rest plain in small jars to add to vegetable soup when we want to make it a bit more hardy. I was also running low on hot dog chili so I tossed 4 jars of that in the canner along with the beef.
I feel much better now!

Monday, September 23, 2019

It Ain't Fall Y'all

The calendar says it's the first day of Autumn. The weather says otherwise. Our average temperature should be 78*. We broke a record of 94 today. It looks like our area is on target to break the record of the most 90* days over the course of the summer set back in the 50's. The long range forecast is still showing no rain in sight for the next 10 days. Not one drop has fallen the month of September here on the homestead. Hubby and I cannot ever remember a summer so hot and dry!

If I sound a little whiny it's probably because I am. I need some cooler temperatures and a crisp Fall morning to add some pep to my step! I know this too shall pass. I'm waiting.

I found this picture of our driveway from a couple of years ago. A normal Fall.....Sigh.
I'll have to be content staring at it until Fall truly arrives.
Oh and a picture of a happy calf enjoying breakfast this morning, that always makes my day better ;-)

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Still Watering and Planting

Still no rain here on the homestead. The fields are dried to a crisp. Trees are dying. We are feeding copious amounts of hay. It has definitely been decided that all the pastures will be planted in fall forage for the animals. Most likely winter rye and clover.
Today we planted 3 more flats of greens, mostly collards. And moved the hoses every hour or so.

The plants that went in the ground a few weeks ago are settling in nicely.
 Our biggest battle now is pests eating the leaves. I will have to spray something soon or there will be no plants! And of course where there is water there are weeds. A small price to pay if we can get a fall garden going.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Milk and Cheese

After dumping milk for the last couple of weeks because of the meds she was given after delivery, we are finally able to start keeping Vinca's milk. We are calf sharing for now so I lock him up at night and milk her in the mornings. I get the front 2 quarters and he gets the back! I was really hoping for a bit more but I will be happy with 1 1/2 gallons for now.
Our one Nubian that I still milk in the afternoons is still giving 1/2 gallon a day which is plenty for cheese making. Today I finished draining the Chevre and have some Feta aging in the fridge. Some fresh for snacking on and a couple of bags tucked in the freezer for winter enjoyment. Next week after the Feta has finished aging I plan to marinate it in olive oil and herbs. Yum.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Cow Crisis

Yesterday Vinca looked like this.
I had to leave early this morning to run some errands. I got a call from my daughter-in-law saying she and granddaughter were admiring a beautiful new calf. I couldn't wait to get home and see what we had. When I did get there around 10:30 I knew we had a problem. Vinca did not want to get up and looked like a skeleton. I immediately went in and tried to get her up. I finally coerced her to move a bit and drink a little water. Then I called the vet. He arrived about an hour later. We managed to get her back up and tied off to a tree. He ran a tube to her stomach with a funnel on the end and with the help of sis we literally dumped 20-30 gallons of water in her. Once we got her somewhat hydrated he finished checking her out. He was very concerned her stomach was trying to turn and if that happened it would be emergency surgery or we would loose her. He gave her some a couple of shots and wanted to get her in the barn just in case of surgery and also wanted to see if she would eat. By this time Mom had arrived and volunteered to go pick up some alfalfa hay and feed. Another friend happened to stop by and with her help, my daughter-in-law and myself we got her herded to the barn. Vinca drank some more water and munched on some hay. Later she ate some feed. I was still worried sick by she was at least headed in the right direction and not looking any worse. I checked her every 30 minutes or so until late night.
We think she had a really hard delivery as the calf, a bull, was huge. It was a really hot day and the water tubs were on the other side of the pasture and she just didn't bother to go get a drink.
Sending out many thanks to all that helped and made sure she was ok. Sometimes it takes a village!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Fall Planting

With no end in sight of this heat wave we decided to go ahead and get the fall plants in the ground. Our biggest fear is that it's just going to turn off cold and the plants won't have time to get established. After running to Lowe's and getting a soaker hose I swung by Sis's greenhouse and picked up several flats of plants. The collards aren't quite ready so today I planted cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi along with beet and kale seeds. The soil is like powder. We haven't has rain in weeks. Looks like dragging hoses will be added to the daily chores for a while!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Unhappy Sheep

The sheep are NOT happy! (Note several butt shots!) We limed the fields today and they have to be off them until we get some rain. Unfortunately the storm we thought would wash it in has passed us once again and now there is no rain in sight. The dry weather is making life on the homestead very hard these days. We have torn up fields getting ready for Fall planting hoping to establish new pastures for rotational grazing and more hay in the Spring. This past month has brought no rain and high temps. We keep waiting for a window to get something in the ground but so far it has been pointless. We are beginning to think that planting Fall and Winter forage may be the route we have to take since we are fast burning through hay storage and odds are not good for another cutting. This will be the first year since we have been doing our hay we have not had at least 2 cuttings. Come on Mother Nature! We could use a little help here on the homestead.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Blackberry Bargian

I love the "death" section at Lowe's. You know that back corner where they move poor plants to die. 

Today's good find were blackberry bushes marked down to $5. I bought 3 more to add to the 5 already planted by the fence line. Our blackberries the last couple of years have done extremely well. With 3 more plants we should have plenty to preserve in the way of jams, jellies and pie filling. Thank you Lowe's for adding to our edible landscaping. Our new bushes just needed a little kindness and some water!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019


A few weeks ago I was taking care of our chickens and realized I only had a few younger hens. The rest are aging out. I guess I lost my mind for a bit and ordered 25 brown egg layers and 15 bantam chicks. At the time this seemed like a really good idea!
My plan for the bantams is to use them for live little brooding machines. They are such good mamas and if I let one or two go broody each Spring I should not have to buy anymore chicks. Chalk one up for being more self sufficient if that plan actually works out.
I lost a couple the first day but they actually shipped 19 bantams so it all evened out. Hopefully I will end up with more banty hens than roosters! Everyone is settled in and doing well. Who can resist cute baby chicks? Not me. Yep this was a really good idea!

Monday, August 19, 2019

Mushroom Mix-up

Another mushroom bargain this week! I bought several packs of button mushrooms that were reduced and picked up what I thought were shiitakes to dehydrate. Opps. They were sliced portobellos. Not to worry. I canned up the buttons and supper tonight was a most delish soup made with some of the mushroom stock I canned a while back and a loaf of homemade crusty bread. This will be added to my list of keeper recipes.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Still Too Hot!

The Fall seedlings are begging to be set out. However, the intense heat and lack of rain are putting us way behind.With daily temperatures in the 90's and the heat index over 100 most days we will have to wait a while longer. Sigh. It truly has been a long hot summer!

Monday, August 5, 2019

A Gift Of Tomatoes

A sweet friend asked if I would like a bushel of tomatoes. Absolutely! I spent the day processing most of them into salsa and dehydrating some Romas that were in the mix.
At the end of the day 28 pints of salsa and 2 quarts of dehydrated tomatoes were added to the pantry. This was a huge blessing since the drought has almost completely wiped ours out. We are still looking for some much needed rain so we can start getting the fall garden in.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Fall Seedlings

Sis has been really busy in the greenhouse getting our fall plants started. Today we transplanted all of the seeds she started a few weeks ago. She started several kinds of broccoli and cabbage. We transplanted all of those pretty plants in single cell packs to be planted outside in a few short weeks. Hard to believe it is that time already!
Sis, mom and I worked for quite some time and in the end we had 8 1/2 flats - that is 306 plants!
Hopefully Mother Nature will bless us with some cooler temperatures and much needed rain by the time these are ready to go in the ground. We have had only about 1/2 inch in the last 7 weeks. The storms seem to split and go north and south by just a few miles of us. It has been very discouraging and has pretty much fried the last of the summer gardens. So we shall look forward to Fall!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Corn - Done & Frozen!

A very long day in the kitchen. Usually I have the help of family and we share (I'll still share) but today it was just me. I shucked and cut and cut and shucked until all of the corn was off the cob and in freezer bags. Whew! Our main crop this year was a non-GMO silver queen. It did exceptionally well and is super sweet.
Since it is not GMO corn, we are planning to leave most of the second ears for seed and see how they come back next year. Since silver queen is a hybrid, it may be a total flop. We won't know unless we give it a try. Some of my research suggests that it could work if the most vigorous plants are saved for seed over the next few years. Never hurts to try! That is if the critters don't eat it all before it dries!.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Time For Corn!

The corn is ready. There looks to be quite a large amount even with the lack of rain. This morning I headed up and started picking. 25 dozen ears later I was still not finished! I shucked enough to do a small trial run of canning it instead of freezing it.
Though the process was much easier and way less messy, the flavor was not good. It tasted way overcooked. So tomorrow I will begin the messy task of freezing the rest. 

Friday, July 26, 2019

Freeze Dried Food

We have been storing freeze dried food for some time for long term storage. The company I purchase from for the most part has a 25 (or longer) year shelf life. The other day I was making soup and realized I was out of carrots. I opened a can that had been hanging out on the shelf for quite a while. They were  perfect. I vacuumed sealed the rest and they can sit there another 10 years if needed. This prompted me to try a few more things... chicken salad and beef stew were just a couple. Now, that being said, would I want to live on freeze dried? No. However, I will definitely be adding more to our stores as it was good, quick and absolutely no waste. I plan to have a "freeze dried" meal a couple of times a month. When I do I'll share my recipes!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Getting Creative With Cantaloupe

So far this week we have picked a dozen or so cantaloupe. I don't care for it and hubby is eating as fast as he can. I have given some away but we are still left with many. I decided to see if there were more options than just eating it. Well, my friends there are tons of ways! The most intriguing way was making bread with it. Hmmm..
It was absolutely divine! The topping was a praline type in this recipe. I thought it was a little heavy for it. The next time I think I'll drizzle with my butter rum sauce. Oh goodness let me head back to the kitchen!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Today's Canning

Today's canning projects. More vegetable soup, pickles and a spicy putanesca sauce. It is super yummy. We had the leftovers tonight on pasta.

 I have to say is was a bit of trouble but I think I'll have to make one more batch!

Friday, July 19, 2019

Is She? Or Isn't she?

Miss Vinca is supposed to be due in September. I keep watching her hoping that is true. She has been on really good pasture so we hope she's not just fat! I so miss my cow milk since drying up Violet. The goat milk if fine but cow's milk makes to best clabber cheese...

Thursday, July 18, 2019

July So Far

And here we are in July! Wow time does not slow....
Hubby took the better part of the fourth week off. We worked like possessed homesteaders trying to catch up chores and projects. There is the never ending job of mowing. Even when we tag team it, it takes close to 3 hours. We spent the better part of one day cutting trees off fences and repairing them. Another day was spent taking down a four foot fence and erecting a 6 foot one at the end of our drive. One of our Malinois had decided since my son and daughter in law are back and living next door she should be the new welcoming party. Every day. The final straw was when she ventured to close to the road and was spotted by my parents. Of course this snowballed into a landscaping project .....  that tree is ugly, we should cut it down. Some grasses would look pretty planted here. Yeah and so it went.
We had a large harvest of veggies that week. We dug the first round of potatoes. Since it rained right after planting and many had rotted in the ground, we only got about 3 bushels. The late potatoes are looking much better.
We planted late squash, green beans, October beans and corn. Hubby wanted to try out his new 2 row corn planter. Boys and their toys. ;-))
Lots of basil was harvested. Many containers of pesto were made and put in the freezer for a burst of summertime in winter recipes.
And that is some of the happenings going on the homestead so far this month!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Month Of June

The month of June was busy too! The garden really started producing. We picked lots of green beans, cucumbers, blackberries, blueberries and squash. My daughter in law made homemade baby food to stash in the freezer for new granddaughter.
I canned green beans, pickles and vegetable soup. Blackberry jelly was made and blueberries frozen. Close to 50 jars of home canned goodies have been tucked in the pantry so far.
Our other Suffolk ewe lambed. This time with a ewe lamb. We now have a small breeding flock of meat sheep. Four sheep for the price of two! What a blessing.