Apple Butter Anyone?

I’ve been cleaning out and reorganizing our three freezers.  We have an over abundance of applesauce in pint containers even though we didn’t have many apples to harvest in 2019.  We are getting low on apple butter so I remedied the situation!  Two batches cleared out 20 pints of applesauce from the smallest freezer and now we have over 30 pints of applesauce in the cellar.  I made these two batches with cinnamon and cloves.  Good stuff!

I used my crockpot to make it in and here’s how I did it.

I thawed the applesauce and filled the crockpot as full as I could get it.  I added two cups of sugar and turned the crockpot to high and let it cook all day.  Stirring the pot is essential because it will get thick on the bottom of the crock.  I also kept the lid on the crockpot during the cooking.  The applesauce will start turning brown about half way through the cooking.  About one hour before you think it’s thick enough to suit you, remove the lid, stir thoroughly and drop your flavoring oils.  I have a very small eyedropper  I use that’s about two inches long and I filled it up with oil of cinnamon and about half full of the oil of cloves.  Squeeze the dropper of the oil on the top of the applesauce and then stir throughly again and let cook at least one half hour longer without the lid on.  Done!  Pour it into the clean jars and seal while the applebutter is hot.  The jars will seal from the boiling fruit!! 

Recipe Updates

I’ve added several salad dishes to my blogs cooking page if you’re interested.  They’re scattered throughout the page and hope you find something you might like.  For me, cooking is literally food for the soul!!  Check it out  –  https://countrygirllifeonthefarm.com/recipes-from-my-house-to-yours/

Fresh Bread

Birds of a Feather

This lovely bird visited the farm during the night and think he may have flew into a wire. He was sitting on the bull lot fence and sat perfectly still for me to get photos. An hour later he was gone!!

He was big and kept clicking his beak together at Sadie!!  Love to hear them hooting at night and late afternoon!

2019 Comes To a End

Merry, Merry Christmas from the Caldwell Family

There are not enough stars in the sky for all the wishes we send to you and your families during this special season of the year.  We wish you good health and happiness!  We also wish you much many, many more blessings!!

Here’s a little update for you of what the farm and family have been up to in 2019:

Work continues on Heather & Joel’s new home here on the farm and if all goes well they should be officially moved in spring of 2020.  They’re very excited as are we. 

Heather opened her new business HCJ  Tax and Accounting and has an office in Salem and in her home.

Heathers new business

Joel is working himself to death with his masonry business. 

Victoria finished her first semester in Radford University and is working as a Behavior Specialist at New River Valley Community Services.  She just recently received her letter of appointment into the Education Program at Radford. She also made the Dean’s List the past two semesters.

Victoria and new pup, Butch

Grandparents day was heavenly

Shawn is working hard as a Project Engineer at Gay & Neel Engineering in Christiansburg and has been traveling a lot to New Jersey to see his son, Declan.  He also just completed and passed the Engineers designation which I can’t remember but what it’s called but very proud of him.

Shawn and Declan

Declan turned three this summer and he came to the farm to visit with his Mom and Grandmother twice this summer.  He’s such a beautiful little boy.  Eddie and I are so fortunate that our two kids live close by!!

Grandparents day/Eddie, Heather Declan, Victoria, Shawn and me.

The doctors have given me a couple scares this year with first a breast biopsy for a calcification cluster which turned out benign and then during my annual exam they found an irregular heart beat but all is well with that .

Eddie is well but for a bad thumb which he jammed to the knuckle and after seven weeks he has lost the nail but it has given him a fit and prevented him from doing work on the farm that he hoped to complete.  All in good time is my motto for the year!!

We celebrated our 47th wedding anniversary on February 4th with a road trip in the mountains AND he found us a new elkhound pup named Sadie.  She’s beautiful and all puppy though she turned a year old in October.  Eddie also got him a new hunting pup, Butch, to trail along with his older hound and train him the right way!!  He just turned five months.  WARNING:  Puppies are not good for flower gardens!!! L

Sadie at four months

Butch is a Walker coonhound

These two wrestled in my hostas until there was nothing left!! Butch was small enough to hide in them from Sadie.

They were full of play back in July but now they’re almost full grown!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We just finished calving season for 2019, my duck is laying beautiful eggs for my baking and we had one bull calf we has to bottle feed last spring and summer.  He just went to market and out-weighed all the calf herd!!  I raised 18 new chicks for replacement stock & they included Speckled Sussex, Buff Orpingtons and Columbian Wyandottes.  They’ve just started laying eggs for us.

Donald and Daisy is first on right

This is Trouble. Biggest bull calf ever raised on the farm. 

 

 

 

 

 

We had visitors most of the summer and so enjoyed all of them and hope for the same in 2020.   

Dean is doing well and turned 60 in March and Dreama turned 70 this month.  Both are happy as clams!!

Our honeybees died out last year but we had wild swarms come to the hives late in 2018 and spring 2019.  All are alive and well and they produced over 130 pounds of honey for us and it sold as fast as we could get it off the frames.  Shawn and Victoria are taking up the same hobby and hope their hives will do as well for them in 2020.

Honey for 2019, 130 pounds and it’s all gone except for what we use ourselves.

Eddie had excellent luck fishing during the summer and we have a freezer full of catfish, striper and muskie.  (Best eating you ever had, Red Lobster ain’t got nothing on us!!:) 

He’s in the process of buying a “new used” farm truck because our old Chevy S-10 just about tripped over 200,000 miles and isn’t sounding very good.  The newer one is the same color and make but only has 103000 miles so he thinks it will make it through at least another 10 years like the old one.

Striper

Muskie

I cut off my seven year old ponytail in August and it feels so weird I think I have a wig on most of the time!

Me and Declan just a swingin’!

I finished Victoria’s 2018 Christmas quilt in October and now trying to finish a Redwork quilt I started five years ago.  I’ve decided it’s time to complete all these unfinished works of “art” before I start anymore.

Victoria holding her quilt.

Just a hint of a block for the redwork quilt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been very negligent with my blog this year but still keep it going with occasional posts so watch for it at www.countrygirllifeonthefarm.com when you get a chance.  I’ve also still got my cleaning business going but not taking on any new clients.  I love the ones I have and they’re so special to me. 

Now, I’m dreaming about my gardening projects for spring. Eddie is gifting me a greenhouse for Christmas!  I’m so excited and because my granddaughter has also become quite the gardener this year, I’m hoping we spend a lot of time together in it.  I’m also looking forward to getting some of our fruit tree and grapevines pruned.  The pruning we did last year on our Wolf River apple tree proved to be very productive.

These apples were so big I could hardly hold them in my hand to peel them. They were also the only fruit we were able to harvest due to the weather.

First fruit of 2019 from our Wolf River apple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m so hoping you will all come visit our country home in the mountains of Craig County!!

Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New  Year to all!!  Love ya!!    Come see us when you can!!   

 

 

 

Granddaughter’s Quilt Progress

IT’S DONE!!!  My grandaughter, Victoria, asked me last year to make her a quilt for Christmas.

Our 21 year old granddaughter!

I finished the quilt today!!  I’ll get it to her sometime this week.  It usually doesn’t take me a year to do a quilt because I have a friend that quilts and binds it after I do the piecing.  My friend isn’t doing it anymore so I completed it all by hand.  Thank the good Lord it was a simple quilt.  The following is a place in time for my quilting adventure with my granddaughter:

Victoria was so excited that it was completed that she stopped by and had supper with us so she could take it home.  It thrills my heart that she wanted something that her grandmother made with her own hands just for her!!! 

Maybe now I’ll complete the other two quilts I started a couple years ago!!  Stranger things have happened!!  🙂

Kielbasa Cabbage Dish

Kielbasa & Cabbage, food for the soul!

We had summer in May and June has been on the chilly side a few times and cool weather brings out the country cooking in me!  I had a head of cabbage in the fridge that needed to be used so I pulled out my wok and set to work.

I bought two packages of polska kielbasa and sliced it in large chunks.

Then I sliced up the cabbage along with a sweet onion.

I dropped the sausage in my heated wok over medium heat and with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and cooked it through. I took the sausage out after it was fully cooked and heated through.

I stirred the cabbage and onions into the leftover drippings of the sausage, sprinkle with some salt and pepper and cooked until translucent, stirring with a wooden spoon until done to suit me.

Kielbasa & Cabbage, food for the soul!  I baked some cornbread and we had a meal for two nights!!!  Great meal to take the chill out of your bones!

Berry Season

We don’t have any purchased berry plants on the farm but are overrun with blackberries.  We have a few black raspberries which are my favorite.  All of these have been planted by the birds once again just like our asparagus patches around the garden.  The black raspberry patch that is doing so well this year is on the back side of our big garage and are protected by the wind and harsh winter because they right along side the east wall.  Eddie and I both have been picking a few everyday.

We have to pick them when they’re not fully ripe or the birds will eat them before we can.

We’ve been picking this quart container full about every two days.  It’s a peanut container! Perfect size for holding and not losing any of the berries UNLESS Sadie is around!! She sets and begs for the sweet goodness of the berries too!

I bring them in and sort out any leaf or stem debris and quickly spread them on my baking sheets making sure they’re not stacked on top of each other.

After cleaning I pop them in the freezer and when frozen I transfer them to gallon size Ziploc freezer bags and pop them back into the freezer until I have enough to make jams and jelly.  

I now have two gallon bags full and have about ten bags from last year.  Raspberry jam is very easy to make and no pectin is required because they have their own natural pectin.  I’ll work in the morning and come home to make as much jam as I can!  Hay season will start again on Tuesday if the weathermen know what they’re talking about and everyone will be busy on the farm!!

Update to Old Flowerbed

I diligently starting working on my yard flowerbed in May starting with my rose garden which has been weeded, fertilized and prepared for new rose bushes to take place of so many that I lost during the winter either to the cold or the wild rabbits.

Rose Garden- rabbit proof fence around the inside of the yard and this fall I will do the same thing to the outer perimeter. It has a chain link fence but the rabbits have found places to get under it. I’ll bury chicken wire about three inches down and at least two feet high to keep them out.

I’ve worked on the front bed facing the house and to the right of the front gate but waiting on blooms for the later summer bloom. I have a few coneflower preparing to bloom with big buds next to the rose garden..  The lilac didn’t bloom this year and I’ve researched what I need to do before another year.  This was it’s first spring since it was planted late summer in 2018.   The hollyhock is blooming and the hibiscus will be later.  I have one shasta daisy that was transplanted and I’m still hopeful it will bloom once the weather stays warm.  I tried a butterfly bush beside the front gate but it did not survive, which I half expected since it was one of boxed bushes you find real cheap in most stores.  A new well-established one is on my list for spring 2020.

We patiently wait for bloom!

The bell garden was my next cleanup but a summer cold/allergies/sinus problems slammed me into bed a few days and after 10 days I think I’m near the end of the mess.  I sat in the sun in this garden on Tuesday and got a few things done.

Bell Garden-weeded but still needs some work. First I need to kill the grass at the front of the garden because it’s hiding the shorter plants in the garden.

The first row holds Primrose which I divided Tuesday. It also has a few snapdragons for some bloom in the summer months.  Primrose are one of my first bloomers usually in April.

The second section is half full of columbine and I’ve seeded for next spring to have the entire row full of all colors. Columbine likes the shade and the cooler weather.

The section in front of the dinnerbell is lupine, bleeding heart, tall phlox, bleeding heart and more lupine in that order. Not much this year but you have to start somewhere.

Behind the bell is an area that I’m hoping will have pink and purple Cleome to accentuate the entire area with tall, delicate blooms. Most all of the plants in this bed are perennials or re-seeders.

I can’t wait to feel well enough to get back in my gardens but Mother Nature needs to slow down the winds and rain just for a few days!  We also have about 65 acres of hay left to roll for our first cutting this year.

New Flowerbed

This is my newest flowerbed. It’s located between the house and the gazebo. I took with Eddie’s help all of the large chimney rock that bordered my beds in the house yard and placed them in a large rectangle in the middle of the big yard. It’s a work in progress.

The bed at the moment only has one plant in it and that’s a clematis that wasn’t getting enough sun around my porch. I placed a growing arbor in the middle for it to grow on. We stretched chicken wire around it to keep the free range chickens out of it.

I plan to add more growing medium in it before major planting next spring. I need to find some more chimney rock to build it up a bit and it’ll need about 12 large bags of MiracleGro potting mix added to it.

It’s rather dwarfed looking now but once its full of sun loving perennials it’ll be a show place, I hope! I think I want to go up one more layer of stone before adding to it. I’ll work on a plan for the plants this winter when updating my gardening journal.

The gazebo is another garden I’m working on.

I cleaned out all the stone and dug out all of the trumpet vine. This vine was too overwhelming and was growing out the roof.

After removing all the stone I cleaned up the weeds and have planted moonflowers all around it. They slowly taking root and hopefully the end of July I”ll have huge white moonflowers all around it. It’s such a peaceful spot to just sit in the late afternoon and listen to the quiet.

These were the moonflowers last summer. Can you imagine them all around the gazebo!!

Up close view of the bloom that blooms all summer.

Handmade Gifts

I love handmade!   Over the last few years I’ve asked my husband to make me gifts rather than buy them.  He hates to shop and lately I’m the same way.  Handmade means someone took the time to think about the person they’re gifting and come up with something that they think is perfect for the giftee.  Here’s a few of the things my wonderful man has made for me over the years.

This is my favorite photo of the Eddie and I. He took two old single-trees, cleaned them up and put them together to frame our photo.

 

Three spice racks made from oak, cedar and pine and now full and hanging in my country kitchen! Most of my most used spices in one spot and easy to pick out what I want.

 

Shelving runs lengthwise in my 30 ft kitchen on both sides. 

He made these in two different years to hold all of my old kitchen decor. 

I hate using plastic storage containers now. I had a large stockpile of 1/2 gallon canning jars so I moved all of my dry goods into the jars. Eddie made me this unique cabinet to go over my pie safe and that holds a lot of our food.

Staples are in airtight containers and easy to put my hands on. No more smelly plastic containers.

Eddie made me a baking tin cabinet from some wormy chestnut boards from the farm.

My round baking tins and loaf pans go in the top shelp. The baking sheets and bread pans go on the bottom shelf.

It fits perfectly beside my range and the spice shelves are directly above it.

This is my newest piece of handmade gifts from my husband! appliance/baking center in the kitchen.

I’m the luckiest girl alive to have such a loving and creative man to live with.  He doesn’t understand why I like the old, primitive look because he likes the more modern look.  I keep telling him I’m just a country girl at heart!!

Country folks!!

Three Tips

Here are three of my favorite tips around the home:

If your brown sugar hardens up or get big hard lumps in it before you can use it up, stick a single slice of bread in the container and close it up.  In 12 -24 hours your brown sugar will be fresh as if you just bought it.

 

I bake a lot of homemade cookies and at times I can’t put my hands on a truly airtight container to store them in so I treat those cookies just like my brown sugar.  Stick a fresh slice of bread in the cookie tin on top of the cookies for a few hours and those cookies will be as fresh as they were when you first baked them.

 

Like I’ve said before I love to bake and one of my favorite baked goods is a lemon meringue pie.  My oven is not exactly right and there are times that the outer edge of my pie crusts gets over done.  To remedy this I keep a long piece of foil by my baking tins.  I tear it off the roll about 30-36″ long, fold it in half until I have a long strip about 3 inches wide and I wrap it around the pie crust when the crust is golden so it won’t burn.  Make sense??  The next time I make pies I’ll take a photo of the results.  This strip of foil can be used over and over again.

More of my tips to come!

A Little Under The Weather

Where is summer???  I’m cold!!!  Last week I only worked one day and on Thursday I came down with a killer head cold and a lot of congestion.  On Wednesday last week hubby and I spent most of the day wearing extra shirts and got a big chunk of our winter wood split and stacked for the winter.

Eddie split and I stacked.

He had already stacked two ranks when I joined him.

The wind blew all day but I was never uncomfortable and we did this for about five hours taking short breaks every so often.

At the end of the five hours we only had this stack of sawed wood to split.

We had this stack of wood that didn’t need split to stack.

And these logs to saw up, split and stack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were tired but very proud of the big job we got started.  I fixed supper that evening after we finished our regular chores, took a hot shower and went to bed.  I woke up the next morning barely able to move and a head full of the awfulest mess you could ever have.  I started taking meds for it and slept off and on for forty eight hours.  I missed this entire week of work and am recuperating but still not able to be out amongst folks.  Eddie worked more on the wood pile today but I have been in the house trying to feel better.  My inhalers and Muscinex are helping but everyone is telling me it’s going to take time to get completely over it.  I truly hope that summer comes to visit next week because this crazy weather is NOT my friend!!

Road Trip With Carol

One Friday in the middle of May and very dear friend and I took a one day road trip all by ourselves and had a ball during the entire trip.

My very, very special friend, Carol Trutt

We had been planning for it a few months and when the day finally came it started with fierce thunderstorms and rain.  I don’t like to drive in the rain especially to areas I’m not familiar with and I was the designated driver on this trip.  When Carol got to my house it was a little later than we had planned and with the storms I thought maybe we would just head to Roanoke and spend the day looking in some of my favorite shops.  She was disappointed but understood why I didn’t want to drive further.  When we got to Salem we had breakfast at Denny’s and by the time we came out from breakfast the skies had cleared and we decided to head on to Staunton.Staunton, Virginia

The main reason we wanted to go here is because several times a year there is a wonderful book fair and we are both avid readers and I had been here twice with my daughter   Carol had never been and boy was she in for a special treat!  We were headed to the Green Valley Book Fair.Green Valley BookFair

The Green Valley Book Fair is a discount book outlet store featuring over 500,000 new books at incredible bargain prices.  Image may contain: outdoor

We spent about two hours there and both came out loaded with books, audio-books and more.

My daughter, the traveler, had prepared us a itinerary for the day and so our next stop was The Cheese Shop in Stuart’s Draft.  “Sugars & Spices and Much More at GREAT Prices!”By the time we came out of here it was 3:30 p.m. and we had a two hour drive back home.  Loaded up with all kinds of baking goods, snacks, cheese and the famous cake donuts we headed home.  We had not eaten breakfast and we dug into the dozen donuts I picked up before we left the store.  Stuffed and loaded with sugar we got back home safely after a wonderful day of catching up and decided we would take the trip again later in the summer so we could hit some more of the shops we missed on this trip!

Carol, I love you, and thank you for making it such a special day for me since I don’t leave the farm very often!!

Sadie is Growing Up

Sadie at 3 1/2 months

This has got to be one of the most loving pups we have ever had in our home.  She came to us with some bad habits but in three months they’ve all been corrected or being worked on.  Sadie will be eight months old next week and she has stopped chasing the chickens,  she’s learning not to jump up on everyone that comes to the farm, she’s treeing squirrels and she not afraid of Donald our drake anymore.  She has learned to stay away from the cattle and she alerts us to new guests that arrive.  She does get overly-excited when anyone comes to visit especially our kids and granddaughter.

I still bring her in the house at night or we would get no sleep. She barks at everything that moves!!!

I’m sure this will change once she becomes more aware of the wild animals that are lurking about at night and the not so wild ones!  In the meantime, she’s our baby and some hunting/training will begin more strictly once hay season is finished and Eddie has more time to train her to a lead and get her out in the woods on a more frequent basis. Until then I will keep up the simple training in the yard and on a daily basis.

Sadie sits peacefully with me as we had our breakfast.

She is not full grown yet and has so much energy.  Norwegian Elkhounds are wonderful dogs and very protective of their owners.

New Chicks On the Farm

Our farm is constantly growing something whether it be crops for the cattle, the garden, the herd or the flock.  Each spring I try to add new chicks to the flock so that in the winter months I can still have eggs while the older chickens can take a break.  Most chickens start laying at six months of age.  I recently added eighteen bitties to the farm.There are six Buff Orpingtons, six Speckled Susses and six Columbian Wyandottes.

Mother’s Day 2019

Nothing special was planned this year for Mother’s Day mainly because of the weather but my beautiful children were with me for short visits throughout the day.  My day started with a big breakfast (which we have every day that I don’t work) and then Eddie presented me with my new engagement ring which was actually my old ring with a new stone and the band rebuilt and cleaned and my wrap cleaned and so sparkly!!!

Later in the morning my gorgeous daughter came to visit and she got me new cushions for the front porch furniture and a Bleeding Heart plant for my bell garden.

Red cushions for two of my porch chairs.

Two striped cushions for the other two chairs.

This flower garden is called the Bell Garden because all of the plants are surrounding an old dinner bell.

I needed one more Bleeding Heart in my bell garden and Heather got it before I could even shop for them.

Soon after her visit our son came to visit and brought me some roses to replace in my rose garden that the rabbits killed.

This one is a Sunsprite Yellow Floribunda.

This is a white Pascali

The third rose is a peach/pink/yellow Peace rose.

We had a wonderful visit with both of my babies that I would give my life for in a minute.  I well up with tears when I think about how blessed I am to have my wonderful children and the father that gave them to me!!!

Unusual Bird

 

We had a visitor on the farm not too many weeks ago and at first glance we did not realize it was a crane that had come in during the night with the fog.  We see them all the night but had never seen one preening itself on our boat house.

He looked so very short sitting up there and I was convinced it had to be something different until. . . .

It flew off and set atop a broken down locust tree in the bull lot next to the boat house.  These birds are huge, endangered and eat lots of fish from our pond and we think are probably the cause of the demise of our frog population too!!

They are huge yet elegant birds with extremely long legs.

He sat in the top of that tree for most of the morning and I don’t think we’ve seen it since that morning.

 

Lost After 47 Years

Not too long after we got Sadie, our Norwegian Elkhound puppy, we decided we should take her for walks around the farm to get used to everything.  One afternoon we walked down what we call “Barker Hollow” (our neighbors, George and Betsy live down that way) with our pup and started walking back toward home and I realized it was gone!!  The diamond my husband got me when we got married had come out of the setting after 47 years.  I WAS DEVASTATED!!

I received it on February 4, 1972.

We knew there wasn’t much since in looking for it because it could have fell out of the setting anywhere  down through the dirt road we had walked.  When we got home I took off the engagement ring and the wrap that he bought for me a couple years back and was determined to replace it as soon as I could.

My hand looked rather naked without the whole set bu t the band meant as much to me as the entire set!! 47 years is a long time!!

Eddie replaced it for me for Mother’s Day and my hand feels back to normal!

I don’t wear much jewelry but these pieces mean a lot!!

The hands show the age now, used and worn.

The sparkle of the rings take away from the wrinkles!!

I sure hope this one lasts as long as the old one!!!

April Blooms All Over The Farm

Peonies are up and growing fast. Not blooming but going to be awesome when they do.

Iris and Allium are making a show. We are about three weeks behind everyone in town, 10 miles away.

Easter lilies

More Easter lilies

Forsythia in mid-bloom.

Pear trees blooming.

Peaches next to the house.

Second green gage and full of bloom

Cherries in the mountain hayfield.

Cherries in the end of the other mountain hay field.