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New Chicks On the Farm

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

Unusual Bird

 

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

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

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

They are huge yet elegant birds with extremely long legs.

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

 

Lost After 47 Years

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

I received it on February 4, 1972.

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

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

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

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

The hands show the age now, used and worn.

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

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

April Blooms All Over The Farm

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

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

Easter lilies

More Easter lilies

Forsythia in mid-bloom.

Pear trees blooming.

Peaches next to the house.

Second green gage and full of bloom

Cherries in the mountain hayfield.

Cherries in the end of the other mountain hay field.

Hours Later, All Gone

We went to bed with 39 degrees and woke up to frost.  In just a few short hours its ruined!

Pear trees blooming.

Peaches next to the house.

Peaches at the end of the garden.

Green gages at the other end of the garden.

Second green gage and full of bloom

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!!!

Cherries in the mountain hayfield.

Cherries in the end of the other mountain hayfield. 

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.

Heifer Calving Issues

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.

This is Trouble. Biggest bull calf ever raised on the farm. He was born to a black angus heifer which means it was her first ever calf. We don’t like for our heifers to have large calves but apparently she was fed well which helped him grow. The sire was a two-year old Angus with small head and shoulders. Can’t imagine what he will look like fully grown or his son!!

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.

First time heifers are always a challenge but this has been quite worrisome

VERY GRAPHIC::

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!!

View From the Front Porch

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!!

Sadie sits peacefully with me as we had our breakfast.

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!!!

TROUBLE

This is Trouble. Biggest bull calf ever raised on the farm. He was born to a black Angus heifer which means it was her first ever calf. We don’t like for our heifers to have large calves but apparently she was fed well which helped him grow. The sire was a two-year old Angus with small head and shoulders. Can’t imagine what he will look like fully grown or his son!!

His mom was in labor for five hours and I was alone on the farm with her. I tried several times to get close to her to help by pulling the calf but she would have nothing to do with it. Finally when Eddie got home from a doctor’s appointment she was tired enough to lay still and he pulled the calf. Immediately she got up and walked away having nothing to do with the pain she had been in.

Of course, he was also born on a very cold and wet day and was covered with mud. The other heifer mothers came to the rescue and cleaned him up while Eddie got a bottle of milk to warm his insides.

His mother finally came back to him the next morning but would never let him nurse. She was and is protective of him but would not let him eat. Trouble is now a bottle baby and doing really well.

He was born on March 4th and instead of one month old he looks like a three-month old spring calf. Unlike most bottle fed babies he is not pot-gutted, he’s very strong and doesn’t play with the other calves though they try really hard to get him in on the racing they do each day!!

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!

 

Sadie

She’s growing like a weed, smart as a whip, and so very, very affectionate.

Sadie turned five months old this month and it’s hard to believe we’ve had her for a little over a month!  She has turned into quite a guard dog by barking when someone comes in, if she sees someone walking along the road, if the bulls move from one side of the bull lot to the other, and especially if the newborn calves are running and playing.

Last night we had a stray dog come to visit and the hair was standing all along the top of her back, from head to tail.  She was going to eat it alive!  We don’t know who it belongs to but it soon left.  It was solid black with a blue rhinestone collar that lit up when our spotlight hit it.  Sadie yipped  and growled until we went to bed.

She’s just as beautiful as she was when we got her and we’re just as in love with her now as we were a month ago.  Her favorite toy our is our coonhound Mischief and they will play all day.  She has learned that it’s not polite to run the chickens and ducks and now we’re concentrating on NOT chasing cars from our house or anywhere for that matter.  She’s a bit intimidated by the tractors and she still does not like riding in the vehicles or the gator but we’re still working on that.  Sadie loves walking in the woods and when there’s no wind we go on family walks with her.  Eddie hoping we’ll eventually run across some squirrels during our walks.  She has already treed one below Mischiefs doghouse but didn’t stay with it very long since she couldn’t find it once it went up the tree.

More updates to come on her growth and progress!  Enjoy your animals!

Preserving Season Has Begun Again

We love Creasy Green which others may call Field Cress or Dryland Cress.  We haven’t had any on this farm though we’ve tried several times.  We’ve concluded that the ground is too rich and creasy greens like poor ground.

These are the earliest of spring greens and they love the cooler weather. They’re not strong or bitter.

We have a market fairly close to home that brings in fresh produce weekly and we asked the owner of SuperValu on Rt. 460 if he could get some in and call us when they come in.  He called on Sunday afternoon and we went to pick them up.

The box they came in is about the size of banker’s box and held about 15 pounds of greens. The cost was $1.49 per pound or a whole box for $25.00 and we got the entire case.

Monday and Tuesday afternoon I washed them, washed them a second time (sand seems to hold fast to them) and then blanched them in a very large pot.

This is the largest stainless steel pot I own and I filled it to the top and put about an inch of water in the bottom of the pot.

I boiled it hard to blanch the greens and they cooked down to about a quarter of the bottom of the pot.  No salt or seasoning because I wanted to freeze them in quart bags.  I got six quarts out of the first cooking and four out of the second batch.  We had a large bowl of them for dinner last night and they were so good.

I can keep them in the freezer for about six months but they won’t last that long.  I froze just enough in each bag for a meal for the two of us.

We love them with pinto beans, fried potatoes, and cornbread!!  Great meal!

SUGAR TIME

Maple sugar time is upon us and because of the freaky weather we may not get to make any this year.  It’s either raining or icing our world and we’re sure the sap has come up but we’re expecting 20 degree weather over the weekend and next week.

This is a tree tapping we did last year.

Pints and quarts of heavenly fresh maple syrup in 2018

We’re still waiting on the heifers to drop their babes but have only had one of fourteen to calve so far.

The one little calf needs/wants a playmate so much.  Today he was running laps around his mom for fun!

Goodbye February!  We’re anticipating the March winds, have had enough showers so April can be semi-wet and bring in some of those beautiful May flowers!!!

What A Difference A Day Makes

Yesterday and Saturday the rains were pouring down and the fields were saturated and overflowing.

Today it’s almost back to normal.

Thursday morning the timber was frozen and the ground was covered with ice.

The next day it’s totally different!

We are having a whirlwind spring or end of winter and we don’t know from one day to the next what the temperature will be.  Last night we were experiencing 35-60 mile per hour wind gusts.  Thankfully there was no damage to anything that we have found.  We deal with this while waiting on baby calves to be born!!  Farming is a challenge, especially beginning this year.

This heifer delivered her new babe on one of the worst days of the rain and cold winds.

This little black-white faced bull is a survivor!!

Sadie Is Growing

On February 20th Sadie turned four months old and the things she has learned in the short time we’ve had her is amazing.  She goes to the door and looks back at us when she wants/needs to go out. The potty training is going amazingly!  She has figured out how to get out of the yard gate to go visit with Mischief, our coon hound.  When the ATV starts up she knows Dad is going to the woods or to feed the bulls.  She knows when I go to the kitchen it’s mealtime.  She’s learned the sounds of our vehicles and waits at the door for visitors barking her head off.  She has learned how to wake Mom up to go outside (barking by my bed) or when she thinks it’s time for everyone to get up. She has learned that “down” means to stay down and not jump up on us.  She has learned that there are moles in our front yard and she’s determined to get them for me no matter how many holes she has to dig.  Yard gardening is going to be a challenge this spring!!! 🙂

She is growing like a weed! When we got her on the 11th she weighed about 8 pounds and now she’s up to 10 pounds.

Because we’ve had so much rain and she loves being outside I have to put down heavy paper in the path she uses from the front door to through the kitchen.

The look we get when she wants out.

She does not like to ride in the vehicles.  We took a ride yesterday afternoon on our road to check out the flood damage and she got sick before we could get back home.  Poor thing was as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chair!!!

She looks big in these photos but she’s only about 20 inches long and almost 12 inches tall.  She’ll be full-grown before we know it.

We were supposed to keep our son’s black lab this weekend but I asked him to hold off a couple more months because Sadie is so little and Bucky is a full-grown pup that loves to wrestle and I’m afraid he may hurt it for now.  We’ll let them visit before too long though and she’ll have another playmate.

I’m praising her a lot but she still has an issue with my chickens and wants to chase anything that runs so we’ll be doing some heavy training in that regard.  Bucky likes to chase the chickens too and their togetherness might just get a little out of hand.  More updates on her growth and training to come.

 

Spring Flower Garden Planning

This photo was taken end of summer 2018 and I’m planning big changes in this area for 2019.

Image result for coneflower

Coneflower

I’ve been working on my gardening journal the last couple nights and have almost got a layout and what flowers will go where when spring arrives.  I’m planning on having Cleome (Spider Plant), Coneflower and Hollyhock in the back corner.  First I will dig up all of the sedum and daylilies and move them to new places in the yard or outside the yard fence.

Image result for hollyhock

Hollyhock

Cleome, Queen Mixed Colors, , large

Cleome

 

Poppy Flower

Poppies

Blue Columbine Songbird Bluebird, Aquilegia

Columbine

Image result for lupine

Lupine

I’ll plant 18 x 18 inch clusters of each of these three.  As I move to the front of the triangle I’ll plant 12-18 inch tall plants such as Columbine, Lupine and Poppies.

 

The columbine is already in the ground and one of my favorite perennials.  I also have primrose in the bed and they’re usually the first to bloom but the bloom doesn’t last too long so now I’m trying to find something to plant between each primrose plant to keep the garden blooming all year.

Can you tell I”m anxious for spring to get here and to dig in the dirt???

Things Are Slow At the Moment

We’re not especially covered up with farm work at the moment due to the very wet weather and cold winds.  As most farms are this time of year, we normally would be working on fences, cutting next years firewood, trimming damaged trees and pruning fruit trees.    All of that work is not being completed now because we can’t get anywhere on the farm for the mud.  It’s so easy to get hung up even feeding the cattle.  When I go to the henhouse in the afternoon I wear my knee top rubber boots and the mud is so slimy and thick that it tries to suck my boots off.  The ducks have issues getting to and from their water sources and the chickens stay close to the henhouse because their feet get caked with mud!  We’ve had record rainfall and this week is loaded with more rain, ice and snow.  We’re very anxious about this due to 14 heifers (cow that hasn’t had a calf) due to deliver beginning today. 

A NEW GIRL ON THE FARM

Farms always have a lot of varmints and I guess, towns do too but we seem to be overrun with them.  After Sassy died two years ago the varmints have become very brazen and are in the yard as much as out of it!  We’ve wanted another dog on the farm mainly to keep such critters at bay yet we wanted one we would train and not someone else’s with attributes that are not particularly farm and socially attractive!!  I’m not ready for another Sassy (cocker spaniel) yet.

Sassy at three months.

We’ve had several dogs and cats in our 47 years and have always been partial to Cockers and Norwegian Elkhounds which we have had at least five in those 47 years.  We’ve had different people checking in their areas for the Elkhounds and over the weekend we found our new girl!

This is our new girl on the farm, Sadie. She is a Norwegian Elkhound and fours months old next week.

She is so very smart and is learning a lot in the four days she has been with us.

She was NOT potty trained but in four days has learned that all she has to do is going to the front door and whine to go out.  I’m doing a lot of “pooper scooping: in the yard at the moment because we don’t want her to be free to go just anywhere without us.  At six months we are hoping we’ll be able to leave the front yard gate open at night so she can ward off varmints or alert us that they are encroaching on her territory!!  Yesterday she met Arby and Samson, two of our huge black Angus bulls and she barked her little self crazy until they took a step near her and then she was between my feet. The bulls didn’t pay much attention to her.   Later in the morning while we were doing some fence repairs in the heifer lot she decided to let the heifers know that she was the new boss in town.  These heifers weigh around 750-850 pounds each and are due any day to have their first calves and they don’t like dogs!  Anyway, Sadie decided to walk out into the middle of the herd and give them the devil but not even five minutes later you would have thought the devil was on her heels.  She came screaming back toward us and ran into a woven wire fence which she could not get through and headed around the corner of the orchard fence and straight into our arms, peeing and pooping all the way.  She was literally petrified and we were laughing ourselves to death.  She did learn to stay away from those girls because today I took her for a walk with me to put mail out for the postman and instead of staying close to me as we walked the driveway along the heifer lot Sadie made a broad path about twenty feet on the opposite side of the driveway and growling all the way to the mailbox and back!!!

She is a beautiful dog and we hope to have many good years with her.

Our next learning lesson will be to not jump up on us or visitors and to teach her not to chase the chickens or ducks. I have lots of faith that she will learn quickly!!

We are also trying to get her used to riding in the farm trucks with us.  She is scared of riding and of vehicles.  The day we bought her home we had to put her in a dog crate on the back of the truck and I’m so glad we had it because she was very ill riding in the back of the truck.  We will start with short trips on the farm and on our road until she feels more comfortable.  Yesterday during our second trip riding out the 1/8 mile driveway she tried to jump out of my arms and out the truck window.  I also learned a very valuable lesson on this trip, leave the windows up until she is more comfortable riding in the truck!!!

So for now, I will be kept very busy during our very wet season, mopping the floors and keeping the yard as clean as I can.  We’re expecting the kids to come visit her for the first time this weekend.  I think she’ll love them as much as she loves us!!

Forty-seven Years and Counting

I just love my husband to death and he never fails to surprise me throughout the year with his hand-made gifts for me.  We celebrated our 47th wedding anniversary on Monday the 4th (1972) and have done a lot of reminiscing this entire week.  Forty-seven years is a long time but it just doesn’t seem like it’s been that long.  This year he surprised me with a handmade piece of furniture for my kitchen.

This is my new appliance/baking center in the kitchen.  

The top of the unit holds my most used small appliances.
The bottom shelf holds a couple more pieces, bread bowls, measuring cups, chopping equipment, blender and my new crock pot from my daughter.

I had an old dresser there and about a month ago I described to hubby my image of the perfect work station in front of that window.

I previously had my mixer, air fryer and food chopper on our kitchen wood stove. Moving those off the stove freed up a 28 x 40 inch area for preparing anything I want to cook.

The space enables me to put together on one surface and move straight to the appliance needed unless its baking in my range.

The work area on the stove holds my smaller measuring cups, cutting boards, etc. The warming ovens in the top of the stove keeps my spices, baking powders, etc. Spices need to be kept in a cool dark spot and this is perfect because I close the doors to those ovens when I’m not working there.

Thank you my love for all your ingenuity, patience and time in building me such a fine piece of furniture for our home.  I will use with love and thoughts of you forever!!

BEST FIREWOOD FOR A NIGHT LIKE TONIGHT

The temps are dropping fast this afternoon and the wind is gusting from 20 – 30 mph at the moment. Tonight is supposed to be much worse. We’ll have the stove cranked up and the teakettle full!

We keep a kettle on the stove to put some moisture in the house.

We’ll be burning some seasoned wild cherry

with some green oak and dried walnut before we go to bed.

Right before we head to bed Eddie will fill the stove with some truly dried locust. This is wood has been drying for years out in the fields as fencing.

The past few years we’ve been and will probably continue to in the coming years be replacing all of the fencing on the farm.  The wire has rotted and posted broke off at the top of the ground.  We saved all of the locust post just for nights like tonight when the temps will be below zero when the wind is factored in.  The locust burns hot but slow which makes it hold overnight (almost) and we don’t have to get up every two hours to load the stove when the fire has burnt down.

Everyone stay warm tonight and don’t forget to bed all the farm animals down with extra food and hay to stay warm!!  Bring those pets indoors if you really love them!!

PRUNING SEASON

We only have about two 1/2 months left to prune all of the fruit trees and vines.  We’ve lost four of our heritage apples that have been on the farm for years due the wind and ice blasts.  We have a lot of broken limbs in the maple trees which may hinder the amount of sap we will be able to collect in February and March.  About a month ago we had a day that the wind had laid so I started chopping away at the front grape arbor.

In 2018 I covered the base of each vine with litter from the chickens and rabbits and I can’t begin to describe the growth they had but now I know they have superb root systems.

 

A tangled mess but their second season of growth.

 

There wasn’t a lot of fruit the second year but there were a few on each vine.  I’m hoping for a better, bigger crop in 2019.  We need to add more support to the arbor and have the posts ready to go in the ground and the braces to hold everything up.  We’re thinking about buying to cattle fence panels to go on top of the arbor before the leafing begins and I’ll watch them early to place and tie up the runners so they cover the entire top of the arbor.  This will make it easier to cover the fruit before the birds get the ripe fruit. Of course, the bluebird houses will have to be moved to new locations soon.

Last year the Purple Martens got the houses before the Bluebirds did.

I think they look a lot better now that they are pruned.

 

I see lots of grape juice and jellies in the future.

While pruning the grape vines I also decided to prune our new Green Gage Plum trees.  Our daughter bought these for me two years ago and they had a couple blooms in 2018 so I’m hoping there will be a lot in 2019 and that the frost doesn’t get them.  I’ll add a few more strawberries and blueberries this year and hopefully we’ll add some new apple grafts too when I get some root-stock in a good spot where the rabbits and deer can’t destroy them.

Can you tell I’m looking forward to spring??

HEATING OUR BATHROOM

We’ve been making some changes in the house, minor, but needed.  Our bathroom is a small room behind the kitchen and the only heat we had in there was from water running through the back of our cook stove and into a large tank in the bathroom.

This is an old picture but still looks the same now. The blue tank in the back corner is a water tank. The white tank is our electric water heater.

Eddie decided the chimney that runs between the bathroom and kitchen needs to be re-lined so until that is completed we needed another source of heat in the bathroom this winter due to the temperatures dropping into the teens and the windchill making it worse.  We have a guest room downstairs off the kitchen which had a small propane heater that was perfect for that bedroom and would be the perfect fit for the bathroom.  My handyman husband did the switch and now we step out of the shower to a nice warm area.

The heater fit perfectly under the window and in front of the shower.

This is the bracket that the heater attached to and it fits snuggly to the wall and doesn’t take up much space.

In the summer we’ll turn the propane off and for this winter we don’t worry about frozen water pipes.

 

Starting New from Old

Summer 2018 saw my front porch filled with flowers along with the yard and my favorite were the Angel Begonias.

Angel Wing Begonia

They have a beautiful, delicate pink cluster bloom.

I want to make sure I have more of these come spring so I’ve plucked stems from the plant which I’m storing upstairs in our guest room.

The leaves of this plant are shaped like angel wings and gives it the name of Angel-Winged Begonia.

I bring all of my house plants in the house in mid-September and take them back outdoors in early June.  To start the plants I pinch stems close to the center of the plant and any that are growing really fast and getting leggy.  I’ve done this to my Prayer Plant and Goosefoot Fern.

Pothos stems starting in the kitchen window.

Prayer Plant starts in the kitchen window.

 

I don’t add anything to the stems to get them to start and usually in 10-14 days new roots are showing at each notch of the stem.  In the spring I’ll plant all of the stems of each plant in large individual pots.  The pots will have a good quality potting soil and two tablespoons of epsom salt and they take off.  By August the Angel-winged begonia will be full of bloom if not before and the prayer plant will have delicate white blooms.  I love growing plants.

House plants in the guest room.

House plants and different cacti in the upstairs foyer.

RHUBARB SEASON IN THREE MONTHS

I’m thinking ahead to spring when it gets so frigid that you want to bring the cows in!!  One of the first crops we see here in mid to late May is rhubarb.  A lot of folks don’t like rhubarb because its so tart but I have a remedy for that.  Before I give you that little tidbit let me tell you what I did last summer before the first leaves of rhubarb showed itself.

For two years I had not cut as much rhubarb as I thought there should have been.  I used a huge tractor tire for the rhubarb bed because moles kept eating the tubers when I planted them directly in the ground.  I placed the tire on the edge of the garden where it would get lots of son and on top of some heavy black garden fabric that I folded to fit several times to keep the moles out.  It worked!

The tire was filled with good soil and chicken litter and four rhubarb tubers.  The tubers produced but the stems were thin and spindly.  In the spring of 2018 I decided to thin the tubers and see if that helped and I was also concerned that maybe I had amended the soil with too much litter.  I cleaned up two more areas on both sides of the tire of weeds and only amended that soil with some rabbit litter but not much!

This area was filled with two tubers of rhubarb taken from the first tire.

This area was filled with tubers from some old plants from our Ruble farm and some from the mansion garden.

 

Neither of these areas produced anything but I kept them moist and sprinkled with epsom salt in hopes of new rhubarb patches in spring 2019.

The original tire went crazy!!  I took off three batches of rhubarb and we have plenty in the freezer for the coming year and the year after that.

Early batches of the thinned patch proved to be the best move I could have made!

Three fresh baskets of rhubarb and homemade rhubarb freezer jam!!

Now for my recipe for the freezer rhubarb jam:

5-6 c. of fresh rhubarb, cut in 1″ cubes

Water, just enough to keep the rhubarb from sticking in sauce pan

2 c. sugar

1  3 oz. pkg. of strawberry jello, cherry, raspberry, or even blackberry

Cook the rhubarb in the water until soft.  Add sugar and take off the stove; stir to combine and sugar is completely melted.  Add the jello, stir and cool completely.  I then pour into small containers and freeze.  It’s wonderful on biscuits, bagels, toast and fresh sliced bread.

Somedays You Bake. . .

. . .and some days you don’t.  Yesterday was a bummer baking day!!  I started with what I thought was my Mom’s Bread Pudding,  NOT!  The recipe will be deleted from the Recipe page.  It didn’t seem right when I was putting it together but it’s been about three years since I last made it.  I greased the casserole dish, followed the recipe, put it in the oven and in 25 minutes the kitchen was full of smoke.  The pudding was raising but so was the butter in the dish that was running over along with some of the batter, what a mess!!!

Mama’s bread pudding looked like this but what I baked definitely looks very different!!  The chickens will love it!

While the bread pudding was baking I started my loaf bread which I make just about every week.  Never fails!!  NOT!!!!  We think because we opened up windows in the kitchen and living room to let the smoke clear out must have killed the yeast.  It never rose in the big bowl.  I took it out of the bowl last night, made it into loaves thinking if I was real lucky it would raise during the night,  NOT!  I put it in the oven this morning to let it bake along with the morning breakfast biscuits and it never rose during the night or in the oven!  😦

Four loaves of bread that the chickens will enjoy for a week. I’ll put out one load a day for them. The frigid weather we’re having will make the chickens eat anything in sight to keep warm.

So this morning I started over and got a beautiful bowl full of raised dough and now have four loaves of white bread raising beside the wood stove!  While that was raising I made a beautiful pineapple-lemon pound cake and the house smells heavenly!!

Four loaves of bread to last the week and one loaf to go each of the kids.

My favorite pound cake with lemon and pineapple flavoring. This won’t last long either.

My Copy Editor

My very special friend that lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland is also my copy editor for the blog and she very graciously reminded me that I had not added my bread pudding recipe to my recipe page.  How dare I!!!  Well, its on there now and hope you all will try the recipe and let me know how you liked it.

Thank you Margaret!!

Margaret, excellent copy editor!!