Monday, July 20, 2020

And More Maters!

 This morning I unloaded the dehydrator and loaded it once more with roma tomatoes. I bagged the ones that dried overnight.


Then I started to work on the other pile of Better Boy tomatoes to can. I peeled and chopped for 2 hours. 

At the end of my canning session 6 quarts and 2 pints were added to the pantry! There are still a lot of tomatoes to work up so it looks like tomorrow will be salsa. 

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Dehydrating Romas

Hubby and I worked in the garden this morning tidying up, weeding and picking what was ready. I took the day off from canning since I have been hard at it all week. Tomorrow is another day! I did come in and load the dehydrator with Roma tomatoes. I got 5 trays in before the multitudes arrived for Sunday supper.
Tonight's supper was a glorious meal from the farm's bounty. Smoked sirloin tip roast from our cow butchered, fried squash, green beans, stuffed peppers and fresh homemade bread. We are once again blessed here on the homestead.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Hoop Coop # 2

Done and done. Well almost. We are planning to have a tarp made to fit them exactly for a neater appearance.


Once that was done I was off to the house to can the salsa I prepped last night. 11 pints canned before afternoon chores. I also finally got the herbs that had been hanging out in the dehydrator put in jars.

Tomorrow it will be loaded with Roma tomatoes.


Friday, July 17, 2020

Wow!

Today's harvest. All I can say is wow! Blessings abound on the homestead.
The next few days will be plenty busy preserving the harvest. Of course and tomato sandwiches are definitely on the menu. 
This evening I went ahead and prepped a double batch of salsa to can tomorrow at some point. Tomorrow morning we will be finishing the second hoop coop for the Speckled Sussex chickens. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Canning Cube Steak

A little canning experiment today. I canned cube steak from the freezer. Our freezers are full and I am trying to make some room. I am also trying to add some shelf stable quick meals to the pantry shelves. I seared the steak on each side and put on keep warm in the oven. Then I tossed onions and mushrooms in the pan and softened those a bit. I heated up some beef broth and then was ready to pack my jars. Most jars got 3 pieces of steak, a couple got four. I then packed the onions and mushrooms around it and topped off with beef broth. I de-bubbled well and popped the lids on and into the canner it went.
My hope is that when I open a jar I can dredge the meat in flour, give it another sear for a bit of crispness and thicken the broth and veggies for a quick gravy. A side of mashed potatoes and a salad will make a rib sticking winter meal. Finger's crossed. I will update as soon as I open a jar.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Pickled Peppers and Blueberry Syrup

I am really thankful I got the garden picked down yesterday because it has stormed off and on all day today. By the end of the day we had gotten right at 3 inches of rain. That was ok because I had plenty to do in the kitchen!
First I sliced up all the jalapenos I picked yesterday and got them pickled.
Then onto making blueberry syrup. I cooked the berries down and drained them for a couple of hours. Then I added sugar and let simmer for a while. At the end a splash of vanilla. Yum.
 I really would have liked it thicker but I was getting tired and still had evening chores to do and it was going to be a sloppy mess for sure. However, at the end of the day 12 jars of peppers and 8 jars of syrup ready to be put away for the winter.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Chicken packaging day! After morning chores I gathered all my bags and my vacuum sealer and got busy putting the chickens in the freezer. Several hours later close to 90 lbs were all bagged up and ready to go. After I got the kitchen all cleaned up and sanitized it was time for afternoon chores and checking the garden. I picked lots of jalapenos and more blueberries along with a fair amount of tomatoes. They are going to be in peak production by next week. I also picked the first of the blackberries.
On tomorrow's list... pickling jalapenos and blueberry syrup!

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Poultry and Pickles

We were up before daylight this morning to butcher chickens. We had 26 this round. My youngest son was able to help this time and it was a true blessing. I did the killing and plucking, he did the the middle step which is cleaning up the feathers the plucker missed and the first rinsing. He then handed them off to hubby to gut and cut. We got all of the birds done in 1 hour and 50 minutes. I think that's a record! Of course there is clean up afterwards but being that I have the dirty job I am relieved of that and get to go take a shower. ;-)
Once cleaned up I wandered back to the garden. I picked more tomatoes and blackberries. It is looking a little sad. We need rain desperately. We have had no measurable amount in almost 2 weeks and with the temperatures in the 90's it has gotten really dry.
We let the guineas out of their hoop coop today but they were a bit shy and didn't venture far. I finished morning chores and after a bite of lunch I started on pickles. I got 10 pints of Kosher dills canned, a combination of chips and spears. I had hoped to get to the jalapenos but that will have to be another day because it was time for afternoon chores!

Friday, July 10, 2020

Garden and Guests

Out to the garden early this morning. I had a couple of people coming out for a farm visit today. One this morning the others later this afternoon.
Today's harvest was more green beans, lots of blackberries, cucumbers and tomatoes. Oh and peppers. LOTS of peppers. My first visitor is a sweet friend who said she just needed a farm fix. We wandered through the garden and visited with all the animals. I sent her home with eggs and potatoes.
After she left I made a quick trip to the feed store. I needed to get home and do some mowing to help hubby out. He was coming in early to set up for our second butchering day in the morning. I got almost all of it done and the blackberries cooked down for juice before second visitors arrived.
They are the cutest family with 3 young boys just starting their homesteading adventures. This was their second visit. I sent them home with peppers!
After they left I unloaded feed and got all the critters tended.
We had a late supper of veggies from the garden and grilled deer tenderloin the boys had harvested in the fall. A long day. A good day. Life is good on the homestead.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Ducklings!

I set some duck eggs under a broody hen a few weeks ago and they are hatching! 3 so far with another that should be out tomorrow. Bless her heart. I feel really guilty taking them from her but they don't speak the same language and for their safety they have been moved to the tack room in the barn.
I have several broody hens under which I have set a good many eggs. Most are due to hatch around the 18th. If she continues to stay on her nest a couple more days I think I'll share some eggs in reward for all her hard work.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Canning Continues

For the last two days I have been hanging out with my stove canning away. I have used up almost all of the worst potatoes we sorted out on Monday. Yesterday another double batch of vegetable soup was finished  That makes 21 quarts so far. I think with the few we had left from last year that will get us through the winter, since I have several other varieties on my list to can.
Today I canned beef stew. 7 quarts are now residing on the pantry shelves. I will do at least one more round, possibly two since we were down to 2 jars. It is so yummy when I add a handful of peas and thicken the broth with a little butter and flour. Served with some homemade bread... yes definitely 2 more batches.
The kitchen is smelling quite divine these days!

Monday, July 6, 2020

Sorting Taters

With lots of help from family today we got the potatoes sorted. We went through every potato inspecting for any blemishes or cuts that would cause them to rot. The ones that had cuts went into a use now pile. Those that were not totally perfect went into use first baskets and the perfect ones will be saved for last.
Sis took home 2 bushels and mom took about 1/2 bushel. I kept 1 bushel in my working pantry and the rest were put in storage in an unfinished area outside our basement where it stays cool and dry.  We are feeling very blessed this day!

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Hoop Coop Complete

Our new Sunday ritual is working in the garden after breakfast. We weed, cultivate and harvest whatever is ready. After that was done, we finished the hoop coop started yesterday.
Most of it was done with repurposed materials found here on the homestead. We covered it with a temporary tarp since we plan to attach a second one facing the opposite direction on the back of this one for our small flock of Speckled Sussex chickens.
We had about 6 total hours in this one. Since we were basically winging it as we went, hopefully the next one will take a little less time.
The Guineas think it is quite nice.

Our plan is to keep the birds in here for about a week and then allow them to free range with the hopes of them returning to the coop each evening for their safety.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Happy 4th of July!

Up and at it early this morning. The kids have decided since the pool is finally clean and ready for swimming we should have a cookout. I guess they think it's a holiday! ;-)
But chores first! Today we started constructing a hoop coop for the guinea fowl.
Then, since we apparently were having a party this evening we needed to pressure wash the pool decking. It was truly nasty. It had not been done in years. I did some weeding in the flower beds and planted some pots for color while the boys did most of the washing. Mission accomplished!

A beautiful evening spent with family. Thanking God for all of our blessings today. I hope you day was as wonderful.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

A busy few days in the kitchen. More green beans were canned along with blackberry jelly. This year the blackberries and blueberries have overlapped in their harvest times.
20 quarts of green beans so far, along with 6 jars of jelly.
I also canned vegetable soup this week. A double batch made with some roma tomatoes that were in the freezer, green beans and potatoes from the garden with a few store bought items. Running 2 canners at a time, 11 quarts added to the pantry stash.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Potato Harvest

With the help of family we harvested potatoes today. It was a bumper crop. I feel so blessed! Close to 14 bushels were picked up. We panted 4 varieties.
For now they will be parked under the shed, covered by a tarp until we can go through each and every one picking the best for storage. The rest will be used a soon as possible so as not to loose any if possible.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Canning Begins!

The canner has been brought up from the basement. First round was green beans.
After those were done it was on to the blueberries. I'm picking close to 1/2 gallon a day. We have been enjoying them fresh. Of course cobblers have been on the menu. Family and friends have been gifted with some as well. Before the harvest ends I hope to have syrup made as well as a few bags in the freezer. Today was jam. Several jars ready for the pantry shelves.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

A Quick Soaping & First Harvest

I have people begging for soap which is a good thing. Life on the homestead has been a bit hectic so I have been a little behind. Today I poured 6 blocks. This particular one smells heavenly. It is an orange chamomile.
Our garden Is just starting to come in. This was today's harvest.
Canning season is on the horizon.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Garden #3 IN (Mostly)

Afternoon storms are headed this way. Hubby and I were frantically trying to get this garden in before it got too wet (again!) At one end we planted heirloom pie pumpkins, watermelon and cantaloupe. I planted all the odds and ends green bean seeds I have accumulated over the years, that took up 2 rows. Another row of October beans went in. We started planting 30 late tomatoes. About halfway through the Heavens opened up. We finished and both looked like we had taken showers. Sigh. It will be several more days before the rest can go in. That's ok though. Every little bit we get done is one more step to a full pantry this Winter.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Asparagus Update

We finally got some gravel to go over the pipe and got the second layer of soil over it. One more layer to go and the bed should be ground level. I do believe this is going to work!
Hubby has continued to till garden #3 and the soil is working up well. Hopefully the rains will hold off and we can get everything in the ground on Monday.


Friday, June 5, 2020

Harvesting Herbs

The herbs got a much needed haircut today. After rinsing I will put them in the dehydrator. Today's harvest was oregano, peppermint, lemon balm and lemon verbena.
The last two make a most refreshing iced tea when mixed with hibiscus flowers! I have ordered some and will share the recipe when they arrive!

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Starting Garden #3

We are working on getting garden #3 ready to plant. Last Fall we over seeded with rye to add some much needed nutrients to the soil. The first thing we had to do was bush hog it down. We let it lay for a day and then started the tilling process. It will take several passes to get the ground good and workable. Hopefully by the weekend it will be ready to plant.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

A Little Garden Tour

Finally a few days without rain and we were able to get some much needed tilling done in the garden. Sunday we tied the tomatoes up again and did a lot of hand work. We try and keep a border tilled around the edge to discourage the weeds from creeping in and that was accomplished today. It was also dry enough at the end of the strawberry row to work the ground. This is going to be a temporary culinary/ medicinal herb bed until we find a suitable place out of reach of the evil crab grass. Sis has started me several plants in the greenhouse that NEED to go in. Echinacea, valerian, borage and mullein to name a few. And yes we have mullein growing wild but no matter how many pink flags I put out that say DON'T MOW they still meet a mowing death. ;-(
For something a little different we built a hoop frame out of old cattle panels. Along each side I planted pole beans and under it some radishes and arugula.
Things are really starting to produce on the homestead. We should start harvesting some goodies in the next couple of weeks.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Yet Another Re-Do!

The rain has been quite brutal the last few weeks. On one day 3 inches fell fast and hard and it filled the newly constructed asparagus bed to the top.
What a disaster! Hubby cut a drain trench at the end of the bed and it drained off rather quickly. We hoped that would solve the problem, but no. Another storm blew through and this time it had about 3 inches of standing water. Now we have put a drain pipe in the bed. We cut out a ditch, removed the muddy stone and laid the pipe on top. As soon as we get more stone over top of the pipe it will be time to add another 3 inches of soil around the plants.
As I was pushing to last wheelbarrow of stone off to dump I asked hubby if he thought we might ever do a project just one time. He just shook his head. 
On the bright side apparently asparagus are tough plants! I fully expected them to rot but almost everyone has come up.