Computer Dying

Just want to let everyone know while I can that my computer is slowly dying. It’s very hard even now to complete a sentence much less a story. I hope to be back in the near future but one never knows! You can all reach me at my email address at ritabcaldwell@gmail.com and I’ll try to pick up your messages on my tablet but it also is very slow. Rural areas have a really hard time communicating when our internet connection is below a 2! Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to all of you!!!

Love Rita

I Think We’re Done

I can’t get a good photo of the entire cellar so this will do.
This is the inventory of the canning that we did this year.

It’s been a long time since we had a fruit crop of any kind but these beautiful pears topped the list.
We got four canners of venison so far from the two deer I’ve killed. The rest will go in the freezer.
Lots of yellow tomatoes but no juice this year.

Unless I find a great buy on sweet potatoes, I think we’re finished with the canning for 2021! My family should get fat from our produce!!

11 bushel of potatoes
Apples, peaches, pears, rhubarb, we had it all!
Had to brag a little on myself with this 8-pointer I got the first week of bow season!!

Birthday Girl

It’s so hard to believe she is three today. She’s turned into a gorgeous adult dog and quite a hunter.
She’s quite the chipmunk hunter but she only plays with them until they escape!
How could you not love that face!!
At four month’s of age she was just as adorable and our baby!
She always looks like she knows exactly what I’m saying to her!!

She loves to squirrel hunt and has become quite the coon hunter as well!! Happy birthday, Sadie!!

Digging Taters

All eight rows of potatoes have been dug and now in storage. We have 10 bushel for sale and the storage bin in the cellar is loaded!

Beautiful bakers and just right for the your hand too!

And now we deal with all the apples!!

We’ll be making cider in another month!! Fresh apple juice for breakfast and lunch!

!!Always room for a fresh apple pie and a applesauce cake

Goodreads Challenge

I met the 2021 Goodreads Challenge. I set a challenge for myself of 30 books read for the year and I met the challenge four months early!! I love to read!!

As busy as I might be I always find time for a good book and time to play. Goodreads is a great place to find good books and friends that enjoy reading as much as I do.

Southern as a Second Language (Dixie, #3)
This is what I started reading today and can’t wait to really get into it!!

Check out Goodreads and find a great book to read! You won’t be sorry!!

Peach Cobbler

I love cobbler’s of all kinds and whatever fruit is in season becomes a cobbler! We have a few yellow and some white peaches leftover and I decided last night after I went to bed that I would make a peach cobbler and maybe some peach ice cream this weekend.

Eddie and I picked these this morning and fought the bees the entire time. We were determined they weren’t going to get all that was left. The rain from Hurricane Ida really took them off the tree.
I peeled and sliced them and didn’t have to add any sugar to them. The white peaches are truly sweet and great for a cobbler.
Aren’t they pretty and I peeled enough to double the fruit in the cobbler recipe I make.

My cobbler recipe is so easy, 1 cup each of flour, sugar, and milk, one egg, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla and almond flavoring. Mix until completely lump free. While doing the mixing, I put a stick of butter in a large casserole dish and melt in over. When the butter is completely melted pour the batter in the middle of the casserole dish (it will spread out) and then dump two cups of your favorite fruit in the middle. DO NOT STIR!! Place in a preheated 350* oven and bake until golden brown, usually 45-60 minutes. The batter comes up over the fruit and the recipe can be doubled.

Batter is somewhat thin and the butter slides up the sides of the dish to keep from sticking.
See how the batter oozes up through the peaches! Stick it in the oven and wait! Soooo Good!
Hot out of the oven peach cobbler and all we need is some ice cream to drop on top!! YUM

Unwanted Visitors

It must be the year of the bees and I’m not talking honeybees!

This black hornet nest was built on the end of our satelite dish arm! I took four nights of heavy spraying to get rid of them.
This new nest was about 20 yards from the satellite bees in a maple tree and they are very strong. They are out of the path we use so we won’t bother them.

This angus heifer walks by them to get water but the cattle know its there and travel 10-20 feet away from the stinging bees.
About 15 feet out from and about seven feet higher in the tree this third hive and it is another black hornet nest!
It appears to be broken up or torn but the bees are adding to their nests and probably filling it with baby hornets.

This year we are covered up with small and large bumblebees, sand hornets, black hornets and now the yellow jackets are showing up in full force. The sand hornets are trying to peel the bark off of my three year old lilac bush and I’m afraid they’re going to kill it. Along with the yellow jackets, the sand hornets are chasing our hummingbirds away from their feeders. We tried to pick a few peaches this morning and all the bees were after the fruit. Sand hornets will eat big holes in the fruit and the other bees takeover the rest of the ruined fruit!

We had 43* yesterday morning and 47* this morning and I sure hope the bees leave soon so we can work and enjoy these cool days that have barely made it to the mid 70’s.

I almost forgot these little beauties! Our hive died again this spring and in May a wild swarm came to live in the hive and over the hot weeks we had they more than tripled their numbers. This picture was taken in late afternoon when it was too hot to be in the hive and they laid out fanning each other and cooling off before going back into the have shortly after sunset. We got seven frames of honey from them and it’ll be wonderful to have our own honey for meals and homemade bread this winter.

Furry Friend in Backyard

Back in April, this little guy was sitting under the door to our woodhouse. It was a perfect spot to get away from Sadie or anything else for that matter.
It played in the yard for awhile and would run back to his safe haven.
They are fast and very alert to danger anywhere they are.
I’m sure he’s fully grown now and found a new place to live. I only got to see him a couple times that month.

Watching wildlife, even through my kitchen window, is precious time to me!

A Long Distance Visit

Back in the spring and while things were shutdown I promised my younger brother, Dean, if he got his Covid vaccines and things calmed down I would take him to visit our brother, Richard, in North Carolina. This was an issue because Dean is petrified of needles and under no circumstances will he let ANYONE get near him with a needle. He even has to have x-rays for his annual TB test. Lo and behold, he took the vaccine in April and had been asking me weekly when we were going on our vacation to North Carolina!!

We were planning to go in October, nearer to Richard’s birthday, but with Covid ramping up again we decided to go this month. On the 10th, I picked up Dean and we took a 4 hour trip to Mebane, NC. Dean was very excited and I was anxious to see Richard and his wife, Linda, as we had not for several years.

They have a beautiful home!
Their home is in a quiet neighborhood and we had a great time while there. Richard treated us to lunch at Cracker Barrel!
Richard, Dean and Linda in the background!
Linda, Richard and Dean
I’m glad we took the trip and we’ll have great memories to carry with us forever!

We stayed with them for a bit after lunch and then headed back to Virginia. We overnighted in Martinsville because Dean wanted to spend the night in a hotel (vacation means hotel to Dean) and we watched a movie before retiring and left for home at 7:00 the next morning.

When I make a promise, I keep it and this sister and brother team had a fun trip together before Covid locked us apart from visits again!!!

A Look At My Canning Season

I just came from the cellar and it’s unbelievable. The shelves are at full capacity on one wall. The other wall is reserved for empty jars and items we’ll can in the fall like juice and meat.

The picture doesn’t even show the pickles, jams and jellies but most of those are from the last two years.
This column is all types of beans and potatoes. I try to can any leftover potatoes from the prior year when we plant our new crop each year.
This column holds my cabbage, peaches, pumpkin (last year), sauces, kraut, and tomatoes.
Pickles, apple butter, maple syrup, jams and jellies from last year.
This is our potato bin which will hold over 12 bushel. This years crop will be the test of the strength and size of the bin because we have eleven rows to dig and store.
The opposite wall holds all of the empty canning jars and the middle shelf holds apple and grape juice, The bottom shelf will hold all of the venison I hope and plan to can.
Squash, canned and frozen
Beautiful carrots canned for soups and stews this winter. We didn’t raise the carrots, I caught five pound bags on sale and brought them home to can.
Cabbage for boiled and kraut.
Tomatoes for juice, sauces and whole for cooking.
Transparent applesauce and more to come in September and October.
Green beans, didn’t can too many because we had about 50 quarts leftover.
Fresh peaches were early and we have some late ones ripening now but they’re very small.

I could go on and on but the walk into the cellar to put my pizza sauce on the shelves just screamed “it’s time for another post.

Preparing For Winter

In six days it will be September 1st, where has the year gone?!?!? We prepare for winter all year practically by canning and freezing food, fattening the cattle, making hay and, of course, that critical harvesting firewood to stay warm.

The woodhouse is almost full from trees we harvested last winter and in the spring. We still have a huge pile left to split!
We’ve had a lot of dead trees from the ash trees! I’ve heard what’s doing it but for the life of me at the moment I can’t remember.
This stack was split in May and then hay season crept in.
Eddie uses the wood splitter that a friend, Bill Songer, put a larger motor and easier to start motor on for us. Last year Bill cut up and hauled in a few loads of firewood off the farm for us.
Eddie splits it and I stack it. We stacked this for the sun to season good and then cover when wet weather sits in. There’s plenty of room in the woodhouse for this but we’ll add locust and oak to finish the fill of that building.
When hay season came in we left the pile to do after the weather cools and the bees are gone.

Winter is upon us and 90* weather doesn’t much help the process so we continue to clean out the gardens, can and freeze all we can for us and the kids, and do minor repairs to the house and buildings as needed. Potatoes will be dug in the next week or so and then the apples will be harvested and stored. There’s more fencing to replace and of course, we can’t forget deer season is here in October and I have a new bow to use!!

Chicken of the Woods

This is Chicken of the Woods formally called Bracket Fungi.

This is a new treat we were introduced to this spring and I can honestly say I had my doubts that I would try it in my kitchen. Chicken of the woods is found on living and dead oaks. These mushrooms do not appear until well after the fungus has attacked the tree and it typically grows in large clusters in the summer and fall. It is considered an annual favorite by a lot of hunters in our area and they talk about how delicious it is and compare it to morels which we love. Most that eat it regularly compared it to “the best fried chicken they’ve ever eaten”.

My husband brought some home back in July and asked me to fix it for him after he had started cleaning it in my nice, clean kitchen sink!!!

It was full of dead bark/dust, bugs and creepy stuff!!!

I told him I would but first I needed to talk to the “expert” on Chicken of the Woods and find out HOW to prepare such a thing and here’s the recipe:

First clean several times rinsing well after each cleaning and then slice in thin pieces.

Sliced fairly thin (1/4″) and another cleaning before soaking in salt water.

Let sit in ice water for a couple hours and rinse again. Apparently there’s a film over the fungi that will numb and/or tingle your lips and mouth if not removed by soaking.

Next you flour the slices/pieces in seasoned flour and let sit in the flour so it will adhere to the pieces before frying in hot butter. Turn several times and let each piece cook at least 5-10 minutes on each side and golden brown. Serve with anything you would normally eat with fried chicken.

Hubby tried it first and to my surprise he said it was delicious and tasted exactly like fried chicken!! For this meal, I did try one small piece and it truly was very good!!! We have a new menu item for our meals! I fixed it a couple more times that month and it will be on our table again. More importantly, it’s another good reason to go walking in the woods!!

I want to thank our good buddy and outdoorsman, Vince Caldwell, for his help in recommending the dish and for talking me through the preparation of this really good dish!!

Just for background info this is the site I looked up before cooking and eating this fungi: https://www.ediblewildfood.com/chicken-of-the-woods.aspx The excerpt below is from that link.

Edibility
This mushroom is said to have a lemony, meaty taste. Some think it tastes like its chicken namesake; others describe the flavour as being more like crab or lobster-like. The margins of chicken of the woods is the desirable part to consume because the inner area tends to get a bit corky or in some cases woody and requires boiling in water for about an hour. Its look-a-like, Laetiporus cincinatus (pores are white and it grows from wood in the ground), is totally palatable. It’s important to note that this is one of those mushrooms that sometimes can cause gastric distress in certain people. If you want to avoid a possible stomach ache, only try a little bit your first time to see what it does to you. Be sure to cook before eating!

I like trying new foods and this was a really good meal!!! This is hubby being very diligent about the cleaning.

A Good Day To Blog

Actually every day is a good day to blog UNLESS you’re so busy with priority jobs such as canning, fencing, cooking, cleaning and all of the less fun things that MUST be done. I love to write but find less and less time to do it. It clears my mind and reminds me of what all has been keeping me occupied.

Yesterday the temps here at 4:00 in the afternoon hit 100* and I don’t think anyone should be out in that heat!! Today is supposed to be more of the same so I plan to freeze corn today INSIDE and post as many stories as I possibly can to try to catch up with myself!!

Hope you have an amazing day and stay cool!!

A Busy Week

What a week and thank goodness it was a cool one up until today. The garden is drying up and I’ve been scrambling to save and can as much as possible!

Even in the heat, yellow squash keeps blooming and producing.

I’ve frozen some shredded for squash pie, cubed some for casseroles, and sliced some to saute with onions as a side dish. I’ve given away so many of them and they’re still coming even as dry as it is.

Beautiful carrots canned for soups and stews this winter.
Five heads of cabbage was shredded and in my 10 gallon crock fermenting for sauerkraut.
The green beans are gone but not before we got two garden baskets filled and thankfully someone needed them more than I did.

The dry season has not effected my yellow tomatoes or the plum tomatoes. I canned 16 pints of whole tomatoes and the plum tomatoes are being gathered and waiting to be processed into tomato sauce later this week.

Mr. Stripey tomatoes will sure taste good in all kinds of dishes this winter.

That sums up the gardening portion of the week and I’m so tired I honestly can’t remember what else we did but it had a lot to do with farming, cattle and family!! See you next time!!!

Wonderful Fruit Season

Mother Nature was very good to us this year on the farm. We had late frost but most of the fruit trees were in full bloom prior to the frost.

The apple orchard is full of so many different types. I’m really looking forward to the Wolf River and have already been busy with the Transparent for applesauce.
Transparent applesauce
I filled 13 Cool Whip bowls and put them in the freezer. I save all of my whipped topping bowls just for this.

We had sour cherries in abundance this spring as well and the Mr. got his favorite sour cherry pies.

Two cherry pies which turned out really well.

The red plum trees were loaded and I’ve also got lots of strawberries to snack on. If all goes well next spring I may have enough strawberries to make freezer jam.

A cereal bowl full at a time makes for great snacking!!
Red plums that were supposed to be green gages and these plums have a very unusual flavor. Sweet but with almost a banana flavor added.

And then the early peaches came in. They’re beautiful with a sweet rich taste but they’re not “cling free” so it took a bit of carving to get them off their seed. I canned 12 quarts and have white peaches that should be ripe in late August.

I love peach everything, peaches, peach ice cream, peach pies & cobblers, peach jam, peach tea, anything peach!!

The apples yet to be ready will help fill the cellar with apple juice, sliced apples for baking and for crisps and apple butter. Of course, my favorite Wolf River for pies and breakfast!!!

The blackberries are starting to turn and we got three gallon of black raspberries which went in the freezer. The grapevines are full and we haven’t had grapes for three years. The rhubarb was in abundance as well but I didn’t store any of it this year.

I love it when Mother Nature provides so much for us!! We still have a full summer yet to work and fill the pantries!

Declan Goes Fishing

Our grandson came for a visit back in May and we had such an awesome visit. His cousin, Victoria and friend, came for a visit as well and they all went fishing. Declan was more interested in all the lures that were being used. They had a blast!!!


Fishing with Brandi
Treasure box of lures
It’s really hard to make him understand what a hook is and how it might stick his finger.
Victoria loves to fish and we’re hoping Declan will also.
He really like the rubber worms and frogs.
That wiggling perch didn’t do a thing for him but he loved being there with the girls.
The gazebo swing is a favorite place for he and myself. He’s figuring out how to fix the old reel he found in the tackle box.
Positive time with each other at the pond!!!

Shingles and . . .

not the kind that goes on a roof!!!

Shingles rash on the upper right thigh.

I’ve been out of touch for several weeks with a pain that is so hard to describe and had my entire family scared to death. On June 12th, Eddie took me to the emergency room with severe pain in my lower back with I had four three days that was getting worse no matter what I tried to relieve it. It was constant and more on my right side but extended to both sides of my lower back and down my right leg to my knee. It continued as spasms and took my breath away.

While in the emergency room everyone kept asking me what kind of pain it was and how severe while I sat on the bed with tears and gasping with every spasm. At that time, I only had a dime size place on the outside of the right thigh and didn’t bother to tell the doctor or nurse. Why? Because that week I had been thoroughly cleaning out all of my flower beds (can’t tell it now), washing the floor, wall and ceiling of my front porch, hauling plant trays in and out of the greenhouse to acclimate to the sun & wind before planting, and all of my normal household chores. I thought I had a pinched nerve in my back. I could not sleep or eat it was so painful and I lost 10 pounds during the episode (good thing but never like that again)! The emergency nurse started me on two painkillers and a pain patch, with no relief they gave me two more painkillers and this started the nausea. Try to imagine throwing up with back spasms! Still no relief and was sent to technician for a CT scan to rule out kidney stone, appendix issue and something else I can’t remember and everything was clear in the CT scan. I got back to my room where Eddie was as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs!! I got morphine in my intravenous port and then the vomiting started and no one could figure out why (duh!!). I had to tell them the drugs were making the nausea worse! The doctor finally came in to witness what was happening and diagnosed me with a herniated disc and go home and use ice packs for fifteen minutes every hour and gave me oxycodone and muscle relaxers. He told me to see my PCP as soon as I could get an appointment, told him I already had that appointment on Monday. I came home and went straight to bed with Eddie making sure I had a bucket, blankets (I was freezing to death), ice packs but no meds for two days because I was throwing up so much!!!

My daughter took me to the PCP appointment on Monday and she told my nurse practitioner about everything that had happened up to that point and showed her my rash which had grown to quarter size and screaming red and more rash was coming all over the thigh. I was then diagnosed with shingles but she also wanted me to see an orthopedic doctor (this was another fiasco that made me feel like a leper) and get the results of the CT scan from the ER. She got me turned around and five weeks later I’m almost 100% and no pain for two weeks. The rash is almost gone during the worst part of the ailment I could not stand for anything to touch my upper leg. The leg still has tingling and strange numbness which I may have for some time.

In March of 2020 I was planning to get the shingles vaccine but postponed due to the scare of Covid-19. Believe me, as soon as the doctor says it’s okay, this old girl is getting that shingles vaccine. PLEASE if you’ve had chickenpox, make an appointment NOW to get the shingles vaccine!!! I had always heard shingles was very painful but never dreamed I would have such misery! Childbirth was a breeze compared to this virus!!

My Spring Flowers

Our spring began with these adorable flowers, crocus!

Our spring began with these adorable beauties and then the blossoms came from everywhere.

Hubby bought me this heavenly hydrangea for Mother’s Day.

Fushcia was an additional joy from him on Mother’s Day. My kids brought me ferns and fresh cut tulips.

Now the porch is full of flowers and so is the yard with perennials blooming everywhere.

The flowers are gorgeous this year! We have three gardens one of which is full of potatoes. The second is full of baby corn (Chires), five different squash, cantaloupes, and sunflowers. The main garden has tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, green beans, corn, romaine, peppers, potatoes (3 rows), onions, cabbage and broccoli. All of this kept me busy while my computer was awaiting repairs.

Time to get back to work!!! It’s raining again!

World of Technology

It’s hard to believe that a little black box called modem can stop communication in this world but it did in my world. I’m back though and hope to entertain and possibly educate about how we live on the farm.

The modem went bad and apparently it happens everyday and all it took was one visit from our wonderful TDS employee to get me back to posting. For over two months I would be in the middle of a post and like magic it would all disappear. It was most aggravating but I promise I did not rant, rave or cry! I did not throw the machine out the windows (too expensive to replace). I called the kids!! My son was afraid my computer might be dying or the modem might be bad. My daughter bought over her modem and we tried that and like magic it worked BUT it had quit working at her house. She took the cord from my modem and her black box and went back to her house to experiment. My modem was dead and her cord was dead.

I reported what was happening to our local phone service (TDS) and they made a service appointment for the next day. My daughter did the same thing but I think she had a really bad experience with her service rep and . . . . Well let’s just say it wasn’t pretty and she got a service appointment for that afternoon. We are both back online!!!

Thank you to my technician, thank you to my kids for trying to help this old brain and her electronics and thank you to my blogging friends for waiting for me to return!!

Here’s a rose for your day from my garden:

Internet

I’ve been having internet issues for some time now and it’s getting worse! Heads up, my internet service is probably going to be out for awhile, maybe hours, maybe days! Have a great day, great week, and how ever long it takes to come back to me!! You have my number if you need me!!! Love to all!!! Looks go gardening!!!

Happy Mother’s Day-Tribute to My Mom

My mother before she married my Dad.

I want to send out my warmest wishes to all the mother’s out there including my Mom in heaven and my beautiful daughter who thankfully lives next door. More about my daughter and son at a later time. This will be a photo journey with my Mom.

Dad and Mom in my early teens.
She loved her grandbabies!
This is Dad and Mom with our children as teenagers.
She hated having her photo taken and someone was ALWAYS sneaking up on her with a camera!
This makes me think she’s still with us!!
This grandbaby was probably/may be our daughter, Heather.
My mother-in-law, Mildred and my mom at our 30th wedding anniversary party.
Mom with children on her 75th birthday.
Mom with a few of her grandchildren on her 75th birthday.
Her siblings were with her on the 75th birthday!
Mom with her family that attended her 75th birthday! She’s on the front row sitting with her only living uncle at the time. It was the happiest day for all of us as a family and cousins came from several states to be with her!

Happy Mother’s Day mom in heaven!!

Winter Birds

Though winter is “almost” gone I’ve been blessed with two pair of beautiful cardinals all winter. I’m seeing them less now but they still come to the feeding stations on cold, wet, windy days.

There’s an old saying around here that says when you see a cardinal a angel is watching over you. I’ve been very blessed
I love that brilliant red of the male cardinal.
The females are beautiful in a different way!
You can’t miss that beautiful red bird against the snow.
We had more birds at the feeding stations this year than I can ever remember.
This fellow was with us all winter too and wearing a beautiful red hat!
I”m sure I’ll continue to see them throughout the spring but it sure made winter a little more cheerful watching all of them from my kitchen window!!

They’re Here

I put my hummingbird feeders out every year on April 15th and I’m so excited because my first little feathered friend showed up at the feeder about 30 minutes ago. My daughter thinks I need to crochet him a jacket so he doesn’t freeze tonight!! NOT!! Feathers work better!! 🙂

The formula for the syrup is four parts water to one part sugar! NO DYES!! They’ll love you for it during this migration and when those little feathered friends come to stay for summer I’ll have lots of red, pink and orange blossoms for them!! They also love my moonflowers and blue balloon flowers.

Here’s a few of photos of past hummingbird visits:

Starting A New Apple Orchard

Old orchard on the farm back in 2017. Duratio of 2012 just about took out the entire orchard.

As I’ve told you in the past the orchards we have on the farm are old and not huge and we lose a couple of these old treasures every year due to wind or other weather events.

Last year we decided to start a small apple orchard in new ground and these will be dwarf trees.  The root stock is in the ground and we made sure the best that we could that they make it through the  winter and spring before we graft our favorite apples to the stock.  We’re hoping to graft some Wolf River which is a large apple and we’ll have to watch the fruit for getting too large for the dwarf root stock.  Transparents is also a great fruit for applesauce and we use a lot of that.

The other fruit trees that we’ve started in the past two years as young trees are doing well.  They include red plum, peaches, cherries, pears and some apple trees hubby grafted two years ago.  If Mother Nature will ever cooperate and our climate settles down we’ll have more fruit than we can put up.  We add two more peach trees to the stock but planted them in the top end of the old orchard hoping the frost won’t be as prevalent up there.  We planted two cherries in that same location last year and they have done well, leaving us with lots of bloom at the moment. Temps are suppose to be low this weekend and so many trees are full of bloom.

Mother Nature please be kind!!

 

 

Maple Syrup Time Has Passed But. . .

A few jars of syrup were canned this spring.

With yet another weird spring we managed to collect about 80 gallons of sugar maple sap in 2021. It was cold and blustery but hubby tapped those trees anyway and cooked off the syrup on our propane turkey fryer in the garage. A small tank of gas boiled down about 10 gallon of sap in about 5-6 hours which gives us about a quart of maple syrup in each run. The syrup was cooked down in the garage, moved to my kitchen to strain three times and cook down to desired thickness. We thought it was probably the thickest we’ve ever made. Trying to farm and cook off syrup at the same time became a little harried at times and two pots became scorched near the end and had to be thrown out!! But in all it was a quick process and we processed 15 pints and half pints this year. The end product was worth it and those plates of French toast were delicious.

French toast from homemade bread, duck eggs and homemade maple sugar sure are yummy!!