Author Archives: countrygirllifeonthefarm

About countrygirllifeonthefarm

I am a wife, mother, and grandmother that lives on a farm in Craig County, Virginia and I am retired. I love to cook, read, quilt, craft, garden, hunt and take long walks in the woods. I have one gorgeous teen granddaughter, a wonderful little grandson and two beautiful and caring children, boy & girl. I've been married to my farmer husband for 46 years and he's the "love of my life"!! I love doing things the "old" way such as canning, making maple syrup & cider, handcrafts and baking. I've taught myself to crochet, embroider, and quilt with help from my paternal grandmother. I could read until the cows come home. We live off the products we raise and hunt for the most part. We run 75 head of cattle on our farm, 30 chickens, three rabbits and one dog. I help my husband with the cattle, feeding the livestock, hauling in firewood, fence repair, and general maintenance on the farm. I was a stay-at-home mom to my children and then went to work when they finished high school. I was a cook at a School for At-Risk Teens and part-time substitute teacher. Then I started work at our local Farm Bureau and stayed there for 17 years. I worked at Virginia Tech for almost five years and decided to take early retirement in July of 2015. NOW, I'm a full-time farmwife and loving every minute of it! I love to read fiction and the Bible. I'm currently hooked on quilting novels and Annie's Attic mysteries. I started this blog in 2011 and have met so many interesting bloggers and have kept up with my friends through my blog. I love to hunt with my bow and rifle and with a camera. We hunt to fill the freezer and cellar but would never kill anything for the fun of it. I have friends and family all over the United States. Some of my ancestry last names are Bradley, Dickson, Hylton, and Rose. I've lost both of my parents to brain cancer and miss them very much. I have one sister and four living brothers. I was raised in Paint Bank VA and moved to New Castle VA when I married. I went to school in Waiteville, WV, Gap Mills, WV and New Castle Va with a short semester of college at Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke VA.

The Woodhouse

Our woodhouse is a 24′ x 24′ and about 30 feet high. We fill it every spring when the weather cooperates with dead wood that we find on the farm. Most all of it is from dead oak, ash, walnut or locust trees and we try to keep it under roof so that we have no reason to have flu fires during the winter.

This is what we had left over from 2019 winter.

First thing in the spring we start checking fences for downed trees on them. Those trees are blocked up and then cut for firewood.

This is one such tree.

This summer and fall a very good friend of ours came and cut trees that had fallen onto the pasture. Most of it was still on a stump so it will dry through this fall and winter as we use up the drier wood.

This is the wood he brought in and helped Eddie split. It’s now sitting on a heavy tarp and covered with another one.

Our daughter and son-in-law also brought us a huge pile of slabs and it’s in the woodhouse ready to use.

The slabs don’t hold a fire overnight but they’re great for the middle of the day to keep the fires going.

The woodhouse is full and we have a good start on the supply for winter 2021.

I know we’ll be warm and cozy all winter!!

We Are Ready . . .

According to our local weatherman, our first snow of the season will roll in tonight with temps dropping to the 20’s, 40 mph wind gusts and snow starting as flurries. He even said we will see accumulations of 1″ to 4″ inches and possible as much as 8″ in the mountains, which is us!!!!

Photo by Adam Lukac on Pexels.com

I hope it doesn’t look like this but with the rest of our strange year, why not!!!!

Yesterday and this morning I’ve been making sure the chicken nests and their flooring have plenty of bedding. I’ve made sure they have lots of high protein food, clean water and this evening when I put them in for the night, I’ll close the east end window to keep cold air from their roosting poles.

That green grass will not be here much longer!

The dog houses are full of warm fluffy hay and they will get some warm water when they receive their evening meal.

The cattle have been given grain with their hay for two days and hubby will probably wait until the weather system rolls through tomorrow. If the hay is covered with snow they may have a hard time eating it and they don’t care for wet hay. The babes will find a mound when it’s rolled out and sleep on while mom eats her fill.

The wood has been stacked on the front porch and the wood rack by the stove is full. Extra kindling has brought in, five gallon buckets will with water and gallon jugs have been filled with water just in case the power goes out.

I’ve bought in extra canned goods and potatoes and plan to start a big pot of homemade vegie-venison stew to warm our bellies!!

Greenhouse Update

What a challenging project my greenhouse became!!

We had to cover the greenhouse mid summer because the temperatures were registering well over 1008 and the vegetable plants were dying!!

I loved getting the greenhouse started, planting seeds, watching them sprout, growing and wilting!!  I got started in April but the weather was always too cold or too wet. We had to run propane heat lamps when the weather was freezing at night.  We didn’t get any of the garden started until early June.

Nearly all of my seeds germinated but when it started getting warm everything  either died or stopped growing.  I knew the heat was the problem but I had all four vent windows open and the entry door was open as well. I found out to late that I needed fans to circulate the hot air and give the plants some artificial wind.  I don’t have electricity in the greenhouse but will have in 2021.  We’re currently looking at solar power just for the greenhouse.  We plan to put a fan in the back upper window of the greenhouse to pull in air and one in the front upper window to exhaust the heat.  We decided to put a tarp over the top of the roof to reflect the heat and that helped some.  I decided to put my tomato and cabbage plants on the floor and under the potting tables and they started growing but not in time to make it to the garden.

I had 8 foot tables on each side wall and a stainless steel table on the back wall.  The stainless steel table will come out in 2021 because it reflected the heat and at times was hot enough to burn you.  It will be an outdoor transition table for 2021 with a vinyl cover on the surface so it doesn’t burn the plant roots.

These plants just wilted everyday and we finally went to our favorite greenhouse lady in town and got some Mr. Stripeys and some San Marazano’s and put them in the garden in mid-June.  They did well from being planted so late and August was full of canning all sorts of sauces and tomatoes.

In September I cleaned the greenhouse out except for some perennial flowers that were doing quite well and bloom in their second season and some apple trees I started from seed to plant as root stock in 2021.  I also cleaned out all of the pots, trays, etc. with white vinegar and they are resting until spring 2021.  

Now I anxiously await my seed catalogs to while away the winter browsing!!

Look of Fall

They had to be blown out twice a week and now they’re gone!!
We covered all of my perennial beds.
We filled all of the dog beds and I filled five of the largest leaf bags I could find. We’ll use them until they’re gone. They’re bedding in the chicken house and the duck house.
The fall color was lovely while it lasted.
But alas, they’re all gone now and we begin to fill the winter chill and hear the howling winds.

As usual I will use my summer photos and my seed catalogs to help me bear the winter!!

Peony

Deer Season Means Work

The first week of bow season found me bringing in a two year old doe. The second week of the season my bow broke beyond repair but she had been a good one. The third week hubby bought in a yearling buck and our son got a yearling buck. I thought I would share with you what we do to process the meat.

From the three deer we had about 24 pounds of ground meat and around 30 bags of cubed venison tenderloiin.

After Eddie skins and quarters the deer, he takes out the tenderloin and slices it into 1 inch pieces and then runs it through our cuber/tenderizer.  The next step depends on what I need in the freezer.  This year we are very low on burger so he carved all the meat off the bones and cut into large chunks.  Then he runs it through our grinder once but we’re not finished at this point.  We add 10 pounds of ground beef burger to the venison and I make sure it is all mix well and it’s run through the grinder one more time.  We add beef burger to the venison because it is a really dry meat without much marbling.  Without the marbling the meat will be dry and even touch as burger.

I did an inventory of what we have so far this morning and there’s 52 packs of burger patties, 56 of tenderloin and only 12 – 1 pound rolls of burger.  We’ll need at least three more deer to complete the pound packages.  I know this sounds like a lot for two people but the kids don’t have freezers and provide this meat for four households which includes son, daughter and granddaughter.  I can’t imagine what it would cost to buy all of this in our local grocery!!!

When I make the patties I place a sheet of wrap between each burger and then place them in Food Saver (I love this little machine) bags, vacuum pack and seal.  I date the bags and freeze and our meat so far has been as good in two years as it is fresh packaged. 

This little device makes perfect 1/4 pound patties every time!!
We have two sizes of these bags that we fill with burger, one holds a pound and a larger one holds a pound and half.
This machine tenderizes the tenderloin steaks. Hubby drops a chunk of meat in the top and catches it in the bottom and runs it again. YUMMY tender! We use it for turkey, venison, beef, any meat.
This machine is the grinder which has an attachment on the front (not shown) that does all the work!!

It looks like the next two weeks are going to keep us busy which isn’t a big problem since we’re staying close to home anyway!  We’ve done this most all of our married life and now it’s so routine we don’t even have to think about!!

A Season of Change

The green is turning gold and brown, the wild grass seeds are a very few and the wind has a bite to it. My body is not ready for winter chill and blast of wind but I fear it is upon us!

This morning while fixing breakfast I looked out the kitchen window and saw a beautiful sight.

The backyard, where usually a hammock is swinging in the breeze, the ground was covered with little birds of all makes and sizes!! This is my winter bird feeding station and from the looks of it I really need to add more feeders.   I filled and hung the feeders last week and have seen titmouse, sparrows, yellow finches, red headed wrens, cardinals, Carolina finches and so many more breeds of small birds.  There’s also doves, bluejays, red-headed woodpeckers, Downy woodpeckers and more.  BUT, this morning the ground was ever so active with small birds.  I love them!

I love watching the birds and they will make my winter just a bit easier to contend with!

Training A Tree

We have two peach trees that came up on their own about four years ago and last year had delicious peaches on them.  One was a yellow freestone and the other a white freestone.  The trees due to location and the wind always seem to lean more each year toward the east and we were afraid they were going to be blown over.  Hubby to the rescue, again!!!

Peach tree upright

My husband saves EVERYTHING!  To fix the tree we waited until the ground was very wet (May and June gave us 8 inches of rain each) and I got on the lower side of the tree and started pushing it upright.  Hubby wrapped a piece of tire inner tube into a 8-10 inch length and folded it in half lengthwise around the lower half of the tree.  He then wrapped a heavy chain around the inner tube, attached a come-along to the chain which had been attached to a stake in the ground about six feet away and pulled the tree to a straight and steady position.  The attachment was left as it was for over a month and the ground had dried completely.  He then placed some permanent stakes to the tree to keep it growing straight and removed the straightening contraption  It looks great and the tree next to it is going through the same procedure.

Harvest Time???

Just a hint of what we harvested in August 2020

August was a month full of canning considering the garden we had this year considering the weather and late planting. Today I’m finishing the canning with tomato sauce seasoned with onions, garlic and green peppers. I have seven pints in the canner right now and then I’m done with the tomato canning for the year. We still have our potatoes to dig and should get a couple meals of corn on the cob. There’s no fruit at all, not even berries this year but I have enough in storage to make do.

 I absolutely need to get some lids and rings before another year. There is a major shortage of them in this pandemic world.  I have enough to can some venison and maybe some sausage using wide mouth jars .  

I’ve frozen lots of broccoli, sweet potatoes and a few whole green peppers stuffing.  No fruit of any kind and way to expensive to buy.

The broccoli was amazing this year and the sweet potatoes were bought from a local farm stand.

The coons just finished off the grape crop before they were really ready to pick and there’s a fox eating my chickens too. Eddie is stationed in the hen house as I write this trying to get the varmint before he gets anymore. I’m down to 10 young pullets and 10 older hens. I guess the wildlife is starving!!

The cellar is full from this year’s canning and last years.  Here’s a few of the beautiful jars of food for the coming year:

Spaghetti sauce made using my San Marazano tomatoes.
Whole tomatoes

The tomato sauce just finished it’s time and we canned three canners of green beans.  It’s been a busy month but things look good for winter storage of food.  This week will be another week of rainy weather then we hope it will dry enough to get the potatoes out of the ground before they rot.  They’re really looking nice!

Let me know if you would like to know the processes I use when canning and/or freezing our produce.  Stay safe!!

In the Mist of Crisis and Turmoil

. . . there is beauty and peace on the farm!

Poppy
Clematis
Fushcia
Iris
More iris
Allium
Columbine
Hens & chicks
Blue iris
Yellow iris
Peach iris
Old fashioned rose
Yellow iris
Peony
Siberian Iris
Peony
White rose
Zinnia
Pink rose
Peach rose
Tiger lily
Bellflower
Begonia
Hollyhock
More roses
And more roses. LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL IF YOU TAKE THE TIME TO OPEN YOUR EYES AND BE QUIET!!!

New Chicks Growing

Unbelievable how fast these little birds grow!

I haven’t released them from their birthing box yet, waiting on the latest cold front to push through. She’s a good mama but I know she will dragging them through the cold, wet grass. Just a little chill will kill them regardless of all that mama does, so for now they’re safe in the little coop.

Until they can get on the ground I’m feeding them tender grasses with roots attached, starter/grower, old-fashioned oats from the kitchen, small worms I find around their coop, fresh water and a chunk of cantaloupe from the table (they gobble it up quick).

Up front with mama is Nora on the left and Marigold on the right. Elle is standing in the little feed pan behind them.

Once they’re out of the coop I’ll be able to get better pictures of the little ones!

Elle and Nora are always first to come when mama chatters “Soups On”

On another note, the other two hens did not hatch at all. Probably in the next couple weeks I’ll have to go pick out some bitties at the farm store to raise on my own but MUST wait for the weather to calm down.

Pullets Doing Their Job

We bought these in May of last year and they really grew out pretty.
Last years pullets have grown up and started laying for me in February.
This is a few of the new and the old. I’m getting between 18 and 24 eggs a day now. I’m somewhat disappointed in the Speckled Sussex because they’re laying small eggs about the size of a bantam but the Buff Orpington and Columbian Wyandotte lay large brown and pink eggs.
This is a one day haul for today. Different sizes and different colors and all delicious!
Small, medium and large. Notice the small on the right? It’s what the Speckled Sussex is laying for me. I keep hoping that as they get older the eggs will grow!!
These are my one egg a day duck eggs.
Size comparison is quite obvious but shows why I love those duck eggs for baking! Some may say there’s a difference in the taste but the only difference we see is the abundance of egg! 🙂

I have the one hen from last year that just hatched out the three babies and I won’t get any eggs from her for at least three months and I have a Buff Orpington that should hatch any day.

Farming is fun and educational!! Coronavirus doesn’t slow things down on this farm and I love being home everyday!

Elkhound Pup No More

Sadie stands watch over the farm day and night!

Sadie is full grown now and we love her to death! She’s become quite the huntress and catches squirrels, possums and coons along with all the mini creatures you find on the farm. She’s protective of the chickens and ducks though she still likes to run through the flock at times just to get their attention!

Yes, she’s a porch dog but she has saved one of my setting hens from a coon very recently.
She has a very shrill howl when the coyotes are around and calling in their pack.
She keeps watch over all projects on the farm and is currently watching Eddie bush hog the apple orchard.

She’s my baby and loves everyone she meets!

Donald and Daisy

Daisy and Donald are the only ducks on the farm at the moment.

Daisy has been laying one large egg for me since the spring of 2019. He took one 20 day break during the month of January 2020 and has been going strong ever since.

Her eggs are beautiful and twice the size of a large chicken egg.

A bowl full of duck eggs going into a pound cake. I just have to wait for one more to have the five I need for the moistest pound cake you ever put in your mouth!

Donald is becoming a little aggressive with the adult people on the floor by trying to lead the way when you’re trying to walk somewhere. He seems to hate shoes and pecks any near him. We thought he was being aggressive with Sadie but we now know they are quite chummy! He will come up to her face and lay his head against Sadie’s neck! They chase each other in and out of the pond and if Sadie is laying out in the sun napping Donald climbs up on her back, then the chase is on.

Sadie is tolerant of him I think because she has no one else to chase and play with it.

I’m in the process of looking for a couple more female ducks for him. I think Daisy wants to set but Donald keeps breaking up her nests.

So, the word is out, Rita is looking for three or four Daisy’s to add to the farm.

Donald is all puffed up trying to show everyone he is the master of his domain!
Resting by the pond

New Bulls on the Farm

Hutton Bull
Second Hutton Bull

Our breeding bulls purchased in 2014 have outgrown their herds. Their size was a problem and one was throwing a lot of twins and the other was missing opportunities!

One of our neighbors, Andy Hutton, had some beautiful young bulls ready to put with our breeding stock and he gave us a great deal on two and hauled them to the farm which was about distance of 3-5 miles away.

We have two herds that will come into their breeding heats in June. These guys will be put with our four year old herd along with two of our more mature bulls, Mick and Arby. Each herd will have a young bull and a mature bull. In about 10 – 11 months we’ll see what kind of calves are on the field with their maams!

Spring herd that Mick and one of the younger bulls will sire.

Seed Catalogs

I spent a lot of my down time during the winter months browsing seed catalogs. Hubby bought me a greenhouse for Christmas and my mouth was watering going through every catalog that came in.

Jung Seeds & Plants was the first to arrive!
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange was next!
Gurneys is one of my favorites along with SeedsNSuch.
R H Shumway is another that I received.

These are only the top ones that I perused every night while watching TV. I was so anxious to pop the first seed in the ground.

The weather put a big delay on putting up the greenhouse and then the Covid-19 delayed orders. You would think this would have delayed the garden but I know that nothing is put in the garden around here until late May and early June. Hubby and the kids got the greenhouse erected but rain, ice, and cold winds prevented much from growing because the greenhouse is not heated, nor does it have electricity. BUT it has been so much fun digging in the dirt and planting cold weather seeds.

The seed catalogs are still coming in and I’ve found more to send for. This will give me many months of pleasure planning and saving for next year. I started a diary that I keep records of everything that has to do with the greenhouse.

The wind tore off one of the window vents a week after we got it set up. It’s been fixed and all of the four vents are now chained down on the inside. The walls have been caulked on the outside at the top and bottom and we plan to double the panel clips to hold it all together through next winter’s storms.
Small but built for our garden. It’s full of vegetable and flowers just for us.
We are using our maple sap tank for hauling the water I will use throughout the summer.
I’m using 55 gallon drums for the watering inside and for heating up during the day and holding heat for the cold nights. I’ll probably paint them black when the growing season is over to draw more heat.

More pictures and posts on the greenhouse, flowerbeds and garden after the weather turns sunny!!

Think About It!

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Long term power outage, I know I’ve posted about the things that we do to prepare for such a thing during storms,summer and winter.  I got to thinking about this in regards to our current situation with the coronavirus.  Of course the power grid can’t get the virus but those brave men and women that work for the power companies can get it!  Our local power company, Craig Botetourt Electric Cooperative, is awesome!  There is rarely a time when the power at the farm is off more than 30 minutes unless there’s a storm that has taken down poles, transformers and lines.  Our guys are constantly working to make sure we have power!!  This family appreciates everything they do!

BUT, what if something unforeseen happened and we were without power for hours, days, even weeks???  It happens in other areas of the United States all the time.  There’s always a “what if” situation and please don’t be naive enough to think it will never happen.

Miss Positive Britches here isn’t trying to be negative, I’m trying to be prepared for the “what if’s”!  Here’s a list of a few things that I think we ALL need to have on hand in the event of a “normal” off grid situation:

Flashlights w/matching batteries (update those ever so often), candles, oil lamps with lamp oil and wicks, radio or jam box with batteries (update those ever so often), stickup emergency lights, camp lantern and stoves with fuel, heavy duty garbage bags, duct tape, generator & gas (small ones aren’t that expensive and worth the cost if you have freezers), at least two heavy duty extension cords to use with the generator, filled propane tanks or charcoal for the grills (you will still have to fix food), full & complete first aid kits, cash on hand that’s only used for emergencies (doesn’t have to be much), emergency stash of socks and underwear, kitchen matches, lighters, hand sanitizer, canned goods, water (buckets of, bottled or your owned canned water).  This is just a short list and there’s so much more you can think of if you’ll take the time and ponder on it!

I know the last time that part of our county that’s not on Craig Botetourt was out for a couple days.  Panic and unkind words were the norm!  Power companies don’t just shut down to aggravate you, it’s an EMERGENCY.  They work as hard and fast as they can.  

Now some of the reasoning behind this list would be if that power goes out early in the evening you will need the flashlights and candles to find your emergency supplies.  If it happens before dinner is prepared or in the middle of that preparation, you’ll need another source of heating that food and that’s when the camp stoves, grills, etc. come into play.  The buckets of water are a necessity at my house for flushing the camode (no power, no way the pump can pump the water to flush).  Oil lamps and candles aren’t a necessity but a comfort if you want to do something like read or write letters, play board games, just look at whoever is with you and you can see who you are talking to!  REMEMBER, television isn’t the end all of our life!  I have friends that don’t even watch TV! Duct tape and garbage bags are a necessity WITHOUT an emergency, don’t you think?  That generator can be used to keep your refrigerated appliances from spoiling, it can run that water pump when you run out of water for cooking, drinking and bathrooms.  Radios and jam boxes are for entertaining but more importantly for keeping in touch with the outside world and the reasons for the emergency situations.

There are a few other items you may want to consider investing in for such emergencies and they are solar battery chargers (for cell phones, tablets) or a crank flashlight, radio and phone charger, butane stoves with extra tanks, a Mr. Heater with extra tanks. I hate to mention guns in this article but it really wouldn’t hurt to have some protection on hand for those bad guys that like to take advantage of situations like these.  Here’s a couple links to some of these items:  https://www.amazon.com/Emergency-Flashlight-Survival-Magnesium-Compass/dp/B01MU55O1B    https://www.amazon.com/Solar-Power-Charger-Flashlight-Splashproof/dp/B07FDXDB3W/ref=sr_1_4?  https://www.amazon.com/Coleman-Portable-Butane-Stove-Carrying/dp/B00FGPXVSM/ref=sr_1_1?crid=21UAMG6WQS6W2&dchild=1&keywords=butane+stove&qid=1588699342&s=electronics&sprefix=butane+sto%2Celectronics%2C224&sr=1-1                                https://www.amazon.com/Mr-Heater-Corporation-MH18B-Portable/dp/B07Q82MG8S/ref=sr_1_2?crid=15EEPAJYIGC40&dchild=1&keywords=mr+heater&qid=1588699405&sprefix=mr+heater%2Celectronics%2C317&sr=8-2

There’s an article in a magazine called Acreage Life, February issue 2020, pages 17-19 that is really worth your time to read and be prepared.  We really enjoy this magazine and have learned a lot from the subscription.

Think about it, be prepared, make the most of every situation.  God is watching over all of us but we need to learn to take care of ourselves too.  A POSITIVE attitude goes a long way and makes bad situations a little bit more bearable!!

WORDPRESS ISSUES

If you’re received my posts lately and things look weird or spelling issues are everywhere, forgive me. My WordPress Dashboard where I write these posts has gone quirky on me and I have sent out a help request and waiting on a response.

The screen looks like it minimized within itself and I don’t know what I did or how to fix it. This issue is why I haven’t posted much since the first of the year.

Image result for crazy image

Yeah, a little crazier than usual!!

Image result for crazy image

New Greenhouse

HUBBY GOT ME A GREENHOUSE FOR CHRISTMAS!!!

We have just in the last three weeks been able to get out and start putting it together. Eddie had to dig out a 12 x 16 foot area to place it in. My son-in-law poured the footers to mount it on.

We’re placing the greenhouse where the tractor is sitting in this photo because it’s at the end of the garden and not shaded by any trees. Eddie is digging out the area with his new Kioti tractor.

This is the footer my son-in-law framed, poured cement and filled with crusher run. Thank you, Joel and Eddie!!

It took a month for us to be able to even begin the building of the greenhouse due to the frigid winds and cold rains. Three weeks ago my son, Shawn and daughter, Heather came up on a beautiful Sunday and helped us start the constructions. You have never in your life seen so many parts and pieces in one box !!

This is just the top part of the contraption!!!
The beginning and 6.5 hours later.

Friday was beautiful and Eddie and I decided we should have a run at it and we got the pitched roof frame on.

The next steps were going to take help from our engineering expert, Shawn.

The kids came to the farm around 11:00 and we proceeded with adding the four vent windows in the top and the two sliding doors on the front.

I cannot put into words how excited I am about completing the next step and it’ll be done and ready for me to grow and grow and grow all of those beautiful plants, food and flowers.

The last step is putting all the panels in and Eddie and I can do that on our own. He wants to do some reinforcing inside and out due to the winds we have here on the farm. There will be four 4×4 posts attached to the interior corners in the floor and the corner framing. He also wants to add some support on the walls inside and out for more sturdy support.

I’m going to have so much fun this summer!!!

Crockpot Applebutter

We love applebutter but the family doesn’t love it enough to make a BIG batch in a copper kettle in the fall when we have apples.  I make applesauce anytime there is new fruit ready to pick.  During the summer it’s all frozen and then in the winter I make applebutter in my crockpot.

It’s quick and easy and tastes soooo good!!

I have a large crockpot that holds around eight pints of thawed applesauce. I dump it in, set the crockpot on low and let it cook all day or all night, depending on when I get around to starting it. Once I close the lid on the crockpot I don’t take it off but a couple times during the eight hours just to give it a quick stir. It will turn dark as more of the liquid cooks out and it will thicken. At this point I add my sugar which is usually two cups but taste is the best recommendation. Stir well making sure there is no big lump in the applesauce and put your lid back on and continue cooking at least two more hours. During the last thirty minutes you can add spices if you desire. Hubby likes it without spices and I like it with cinnamon or cinnamon & cloves. I use the oil of cinnamon and the oil of cloves but it only takes a couple DROPS. You can overdue and ruin the entire batch. Taste to your liking is a good judge! Once its finished and still very hot, pour into pint or half-pint jars and add your lids and rings. I cover the jars with a towel to keep away from drafts. You should hear the jars seal as they cool. If you have a jar that doesn’t seal, stick it in the fridge and use first. I’ve never had any spoil and family & friends really enjoy the treat!

Applesauce ready to cook down
After 8 hours, almost done!
Spices—yum, yum!
Bring on the hot biscuits!!!

Preparing for New Babes On the Farm

Little Red Chick House

In about two – three weeks I need to have this little charmer cleaned out, sterilized and a couple small modifications made to house the spring chicks that I get every spring. Usually in April or May I go to our local chick stores and pick up 15 – 20 little chicks. They are raised to pick up the slack when my older hens take a break next winter from laying. It normally takes 6-8 months for the chicks to mature enough to start laying those beautiful fresh eggs. If you have ever eaten a store bought egg and compared to a fresh right off the farm egg you’ll understand why my egg customers check in and buy eggs year round.

These white hens are a few of my 2019 chicks. They lay large beautiful brown eggs.
I bought six each of Speckled Sussex, Columbian Wyandotte and Buff Orpingtons.

I start them out in a large tote that is cleaned daily. Their water and food containers are filled twice a day because they eat constantly. I house this tote on our enclosed back porch and they’re kept warm by an overhead heat lamp. They remain in the tote until they double their size and then they’re moved to the little Red Chicken Barn that has been heated a couple days prior to their arrival.

This is cleaned daily as well and their feed and water containers are sterilized daily. Can you see the difference in their size?

This is their small surroundings for at least another month and warm weather arrives. At this point I open the upper area door and allow them to explore the lower level of their domain.

Quite a change in their size in six weeks! The bottom section of the chick barn is on dirt and green grass and weeds are eaten pretty quickly.

About 3-4 weeks later I let them out of the barn to browse and chat with the older chickens. By late June, early July, depending on their size, I will introduce them to the main chicken house and living large with the old girls!! 🙂

They have plenty of farmland to graze with all the other animals.

Sadie’s Outdoor Home

 Our Sadie has really grown and I had forgotten how smart these dogs really are.    She’ll be two in October and she’s fully grown but not as big as I expected her to get.  Since we didn’t get her as a new puppy we’re assuming that she was a runt which in our case that’s wonderful.  Our runts have turned out to be the best of the breed! 

She has become quite the guard dog and alerts us when someone comes on the farm, except for our kids and granddaughter.

She has also started hunting all on her own. This month alone she has treed several fox squirrels and a coon. To our dismay several weeks back she found her first skunk and could not understand why she wasn’t allowed in the house. Daily there is chase after the ever present chipmunks, aka, ground squirrels. She never catches them but she hasn’t quit trying.

There’s a chipmunk under that propane tank but I can’t reach it!!

She rarely wants to sleep in the house anymore and I think it’s because she’ll miss something. Her crate is just outside the front door and it’s full of fresh hay and some of her toys.

Sadie’s bed just out the front door. I’m sure during the summer months it will be moved off the porch to the shade of a big maple!!

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