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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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!
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.
The wind blew all day but I was never uncomfortable and we did this for about five hours taking short breaks every so often.
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!!
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.
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.
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.
The Green Valley Book Fair is a discount book outlet store featuring over 500,000 new books at incredible bargain prices.
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. 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!!
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’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.
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.
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.
Soon after her visit our son came to visit and brought me some roses to replace in my rose garden that the rabbits killed.
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!!!
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.
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!!
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.
Eddie replaced it for me for Mother’s Day and my hand feels back to normal!
I sure hope this one lasts as long as the old one!!!
Their beautiful bloom and the velvety leaves are the two reasons that I continue to try to grow them. My Aunt Kathleen had such a green thumb when it came to growing these beauties. She had so many of them in every color under the sun! Last fall I got some leaves from a friend and tried once again to get them to grow. I got really frustrated and took these steps.
I know this works because I finally got six plants started and more seem to be coming on. Proceed!
It took about two months before I really started seeing results. Truthfully, I didn’t figure it would work so I took several cuttings and put them in a tin foil pan that I filled with the Miracle Gro just as directed above. I had about 10 – 15 cuttings in that 10″ by 12″ tin foil casserole pan that I bought at the grocery store.
In March those plants took off and I had a pan full of 5″- 7″ plants and little ones coming up under the big ones.
It was time to come out of the foil pan and go into individual pots. Sunday afternoon I went to work separating (gently) from the pan and re-potting in nice little pots I got at Dollar Tree for $1 each.
Now, I wait and see how they all do and when I have pots full of bloom, I’ll show them off in another post.
I love house plants and while I’m waiting to get in the garden I thought I would share with you some of my favorite house plants. I love plants and grow them inside and out without a lot of difficulty. The only plants I have trouble growing are aloe, violets and beautiful orchids.
One of my favorite house plants is the prayer plant which is native to Brazil. I’ve grown them for years and their easy to grow, keep alive and propagate.
During the winter months I keep it upstairs in front of a west-facing window. It’s watered every 7-10 days. In the spring and late fall it gets a tablespoon of Epsom Salt. It never stops growing and when it overflows the pot I pinch off good stems and start them in a glass of water over my kitchen sink in the window. This plant gets its name from the petals folding up like hands in prayer at dusk.
I take this plant outside every spring after any danger of frost is gone as I do most of my house plants and they live under our maple tree on this table all summer. They seem to dry out faster outside in the summer so I water at least once a week.
My next favorite house plant is the pothos, which is really hard to kill and the one I have is over twenty years old. Several of my friends have starts from it.
This plant takes less care than the Prayer Plant BUT while pothos plants are an easy to care for houseplant, you do need to be aware that they are poisonous. Though rarely fatal, the plant can cause irritation and vomiting if ingested due to the fact that it contains calcium oxalates. Even the sap from the plant may cause highly sensitive people to break out in a rash. It is considered toxic to cats, dogs and children, but as mentioned, it normally will make them very sick but will not kill them. I personally have not had any problems with it but I do not keep it where children can get to it or my pets. It’s a beautiful shade of green and if you forget to water it you may see a leaf turn yellow. Pull off the leaf and dispose of and water the plant. It gets the exact same care that my Prayer plant gets.
Saturday was a baking day. I made bread and a pound cake for friends that help us out all the time. So Sunday afternoon, I decided to make us one of our favorite pound cakes.
Five beautiful duck eggs and three cups of sugar later it went in the oven. It was a damp day and I knew I would have to watch carefully that it got done on the inside without getting too dry. Forty-five minutes later it was almost done so I set the timer for another five minutes. Thirty minutes later I didn’t hear the timer and was involved in something else and I ended up with this:
It doesn’t look that bad in this picture but it’s black down in the pan and so dry that I’m not sure the chickens will eat it. What am I thinking, those chickens will eat anything that doesn’t eat them first!!!
I guess that’s what I get for trying to do too many things at one time!!! I’ll start over today as soon as my butter is at room temperature.
We went to bed with 39 degrees and woke up to frost. In just a few short hours its ruined!
The apple trees are not blooming yet and one of my pear trees are just at the bud stage. Three years in a row we’ve lost fruit to frost. We have cherry trees high on the mountain and in our back orchard that may not have been hurt but this is April and frost is a normal spring thing!!!
With this bloom gone we just have to pray that there will be enough other bloom not damaged and the honeybees will have enough to live on until we have more bloom.
March plagued us with unusual calving events but not due to weather events. First and previously posted was the “trouble” issue from a first time mother and a calf to large to deliver normally. Eddie assisted in that delivery which produced the largest calf we have ever delivered and to date the largest calf this year.
Our second abnormal delivery was an older cow in our spring herd and she had never had any issues in the past. This time she delivered a normal to small bull calf that was dead. Shortly after this delivery she had another small dead bull calf and then all of her insides came out. I’m not talking about prolapse, this was all of her female organs and intestines. Eddie put her down quickly after to prevent ANY suffering.
Then about 10 days later another heifer delivered a huge bull calf that Eddie and I both helped deliver in our holding. This calf lived but mother and calf were weak for about two weeks but the calf is growing.
The last one born was also a five-hour labor ordeal with a heifer and we had an issue after the deliver that Eddie assisted. About an hour or so after the delivery the calf was never able to get up to nurse. We have found in the past that if the new babe and mom are left alone things usually go as expected. We watched this calf and mother from our front porch and Eddie decided to take the heifers some grain to keep them away from the new mother and babe. After pouring the grain he went to investigate the situation and found all of the calf’s intestine had come out of its belly button/naval. NEVER had we seen or heard of this! We called a neighbor and they had never dealt with it but had heard of it and was willing to come assist. In the meantime, I googled it and how to fix without a vet’s assistance (the cost of the vet and having to take to a hospital would far out weigh what we could get out of the calf IF it survived). We got a clean tarp and put it in the bucket of the tractor and Eddie and I lifted him into the tractor bucket without issue. We then hauled him to the garage where our neighbor found us to work on the calf. First we sterilized all the equipment with 100% alcohol and then poured it all over the intestines and tried to get as much dirt and debris from the navel and the intestine without bursting them. This took lots of time and Andy was so meticulous about cleaning everything. Inch by inch he started pushing the intestines back into the body cavity and at one point he had to make the navel opening a bit larger and after about an hour he was ready to close up the opening. During this entire process Eddie was holding the back feet & legs and I was holding the front legs and feet, the calf did not move even being on it’s back during the entire time. Andy cleaned the incision several times more and then closed it all with vet staples. He gave the calf a large dose of antibiotics and covered the wound with more alcohol. We took the calf back to his mother and she started cleaning him all over again. You have to remember that his calf had never been able to get up to nurse. We tried to give him colostrum to no avail and in the next three days he got up three times that we saw but we NEVER saw him nurse even with mom’s encouragement. On the fourth day he died and as an afterthought we think we should have used a system that you put a hose down their throat into their stomach for nourishment or may should have put it down immediately but we always try to save them after the mother has gone through nine months of keeping them alive.
I want to thank our wonderful neighbor, Andy Hutton, for all he did that day and help he has given us in the past. He hauls our cattle, helps us find good buyers for our stock, helping in repair our equipment and there for us to answer our questions. Though we’ve been farming for 40+ years it’s always good to get first and second opinions. Andy is our “go-to-farmer”!!!
We only have two more heifers to calve and about 9-10 older cows in our spring herd to deliver. Wish us luck!!
What a glorious morning with all of the green grass around the farm! We had a horrific thunder and lightning storm around midnight that lasted 35 minutes. It was so bad that I brought Sadie and she slept peacefully by our bed all night. I would love for you to be sitting on my front porch and see the glory of God that I can see!!
For some reason my camera is showing yesterday’s date but believe they’re two entirely different days!! Yesterday was gloomy and wet most of the day! As soon as the cake comes out of the oven and I get the bread made I’m going to be outside enjoying the splendor!!!
We’ve not decided if he will possibly become a sire on the farm but he definitely looks and acts like a full-grown young bull!
When Mother Nature allows I get out and play in the yard. Last week I spent three days and completely cleared the debris and now I’m ready to rearrange my flower beds and fix it up!
The flower beds are ready for some new growth and I’ve started flower seeds for the “dinner bell” flower garden and I’ve expanded my rose bed. I’ll be replacing six roses, last falls cleanup left me with the area in front and behind the yard fence and I’ll be working on a new project between the front yard and the gazebo by the pond. More on that to come soon.