Category Archives: Farming

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.

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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

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!!   

 

 

 

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.

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!