There’s new recipes on my cooking page for you to try. Let me know what you think!
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 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!!
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/
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!!
We had summer in May and June has been on the chilly side a few times and cool weather brings out the country cooking in me! I had a head of cabbage in the fridge that needed to be used so I pulled out my wok and set to work.
We don’t have any purchased berry plants on the farm but are overrun with blackberries. We have a few black raspberries which are my favorite. All of these have been planted by the birds once again just like our asparagus patches around the garden. The black raspberry patch that is doing so well this year is on the back side of our big garage and are protected by the wind and harsh winter because they right along side the east wall. Eddie and I both have been picking a few everyday.
I now have two gallon bags full and have about ten bags from last year. Raspberry jam is very easy to make and no pectin is required because they have their own natural pectin. I’ll work in the morning and come home to make as much jam as I can! Hay season will start again on Tuesday if the weathermen know what they’re talking about and everyone will be busy on the farm!!
I diligently starting working on my yard flowerbed in May starting with my rose garden which has been weeded, fertilized and prepared for new rose bushes to take place of so many that I lost during the winter either to the cold or the wild rabbits.
I’ve worked on the front bed facing the house and to the right of the front gate but waiting on blooms for the later summer bloom. I have a few coneflower preparing to bloom with big buds next to the rose garden.. The lilac didn’t bloom this year and I’ve researched what I need to do before another year. This was it’s first spring since it was planted late summer in 2018. The hollyhock is blooming and the hibiscus will be later. I have one shasta daisy that was transplanted and I’m still hopeful it will bloom once the weather stays warm. I tried a butterfly bush beside the front gate but it did not survive, which I half expected since it was one of boxed bushes you find real cheap in most stores. A new well-established one is on my list for spring 2020.
The bell garden was my next cleanup but a summer cold/allergies/sinus problems slammed me into bed a few days and after 10 days I think I’m near the end of the mess. I sat in the sun in this garden on Tuesday and got a few things done.
I can’t wait to feel well enough to get back in my gardens but Mother Nature needs to slow down the winds and rain just for a few days! We also have about 65 acres of hay left to roll for our first cutting this year.
Here are three of my favorite tips around the home:
If your brown sugar hardens up or get big hard lumps in it before you can use it up, stick a single slice of bread in the container and close it up. In 12 -24 hours your brown sugar will be fresh as if you just bought it.
I bake a lot of homemade cookies and at times I can’t put my hands on a truly airtight container to store them in so I treat those cookies just like my brown sugar. Stick a fresh slice of bread in the cookie tin on top of the cookies for a few hours and those cookies will be as fresh as they were when you first baked them.
Like I’ve said before I love to bake and one of my favorite baked goods is a lemon meringue pie. My oven is not exactly right and there are times that the outer edge of my pie crusts gets over done. To remedy this I keep a long piece of foil by my baking tins. I tear it off the roll about 30-36″ long, fold it in half until I have a long strip about 3 inches wide and I wrap it around the pie crust when the crust is golden so it won’t burn. Make sense?? The next time I make pies I’ll take a photo of the results. This strip of foil can be used over and over again.
More of my tips to come!
Where is summer??? I’m cold!!! Last week I only worked one day and on Thursday I came down with a killer head cold and a lot of congestion. On Wednesday last week hubby and I spent most of the day wearing extra shirts and got a big chunk of our winter wood split and stacked for the winter.
The wind blew all day but I was never uncomfortable and we did this for about five hours taking short breaks every so often.
We were tired but very proud of the big job we got started. I fixed supper that evening after we finished our regular chores, took a hot shower and went to bed. I woke up the next morning barely able to move and a head full of the awfulest mess you could ever have. I started taking meds for it and slept off and on for forty eight hours. I missed this entire week of work and am recuperating but still not able to be out amongst folks. Eddie worked more on the wood pile today but I have been in the house trying to feel better. My inhalers and Muscinex are helping but everyone is telling me it’s going to take time to get completely over it. I truly hope that summer comes to visit next week because this crazy weather is NOT my friend!!
This has got to be one of the most loving pups we have ever had in our home. She came to us with some bad habits but in three months they’ve all been corrected or being worked on. Sadie will be eight months old next week and she has stopped chasing the chickens, she’s learning not to jump up on everyone that comes to the farm, she’s treeing squirrels and she not afraid of Donald our drake anymore. She has learned to stay away from the cattle and she alerts us to new guests that arrive. She does get overly-excited when anyone comes to visit especially our kids and granddaughter.
I’m sure this will change once she becomes more aware of the wild animals that are lurking about at night and the not so wild ones! In the meantime, she’s our baby and some hunting/training will begin more strictly once hay season is finished and Eddie has more time to train her to a lead and get her out in the woods on a more frequent basis. Until then I will keep up the simple training in the yard and on a daily basis.
Our farm is constantly growing something whether it be crops for the cattle, the garden, the herd or the flock. Each spring I try to add new chicks to the flock so that in the winter months I can still have eggs while the older chickens can take a break. Most chickens start laying at six months of age. I recently added eighteen bitties to the farm.There are six Buff Orpingtons, six Speckled Susses and six Columbian Wyandottes.
We had a visitor on the farm not too many weeks ago and at first glance we did not realize it was a crane that had come in during the night with the fog. We see them all the night but had never seen one preening itself on our boat house.
He looked so very short sitting up there and I was convinced it had to be something different until. . . .
It flew off and set atop a broken down locust tree in the bull lot next to the boat house. These birds are huge, endangered and eat lots of fish from our pond and we think are probably the cause of the demise of our frog population too!!
They are huge yet elegant birds with extremely long legs.
He sat in the top of that tree for most of the morning and I don’t think we’ve seen it since that morning.
Not too long after we got Sadie, our Norwegian Elkhound puppy, we decided we should take her for walks around the farm to get used to everything. One afternoon we walked down what we call “Barker Hollow” (our neighbors, George and Betsy live down that way) with our pup and started walking back toward home and I realized it was gone!! The diamond my husband got me when we got married had come out of the setting after 47 years. I WAS DEVASTATED!!
We knew there wasn’t much since in looking for it because it could have fell out of the setting anywhere down through the dirt road we had walked. When we got home I took off the engagement ring and the wrap that he bought for me a couple years back and was determined to replace it as soon as I could.
Eddie replaced it for me for Mother’s Day and my hand feels back to normal!
I sure hope this one lasts as long as the old one!!!
We went to bed with 39 degrees and woke up to frost. In just a few short hours its ruined!
The apple trees are not blooming yet and one of my pear trees are just at the bud stage. Three years in a row we’ve lost fruit to frost. We have cherry trees high on the mountain and in our back orchard that may not have been hurt but this is April and frost is a normal spring thing!!!
With this bloom gone we just have to pray that there will be enough other bloom not damaged and the honeybees will have enough to live on until we have more bloom.
March plagued us with unusual calving events but not due to weather events. First and previously posted was the “trouble” issue from a first time mother and a calf to large to deliver normally. Eddie assisted in that delivery which produced the largest calf we have ever delivered and to date the largest calf this year.
Our second abnormal delivery was an older cow in our spring herd and she had never had any issues in the past. This time she delivered a normal to small bull calf that was dead. Shortly after this delivery she had another small dead bull calf and then all of her insides came out. I’m not talking about prolapse, this was all of her female organs and intestines. Eddie put her down quickly after to prevent ANY suffering.
Then about 10 days later another heifer delivered a huge bull calf that Eddie and I both helped deliver in our holding. This calf lived but mother and calf were weak for about two weeks but the calf is growing.
The last one born was also a five-hour labor ordeal with a heifer and we had an issue after the deliver that Eddie assisted. About an hour or so after the delivery the calf was never able to get up to nurse. We have found in the past that if the new babe and mom are left alone things usually go as expected. We watched this calf and mother from our front porch and Eddie decided to take the heifers some grain to keep them away from the new mother and babe. After pouring the grain he went to investigate the situation and found all of the calf’s intestine had come out of its belly button/naval. NEVER had we seen or heard of this! We called a neighbor and they had never dealt with it but had heard of it and was willing to come assist. In the meantime, I googled it and how to fix without a vet’s assistance (the cost of the vet and having to take to a hospital would far out weigh what we could get out of the calf IF it survived). We got a clean tarp and put it in the bucket of the tractor and Eddie and I lifted him into the tractor bucket without issue. We then hauled him to the garage where our neighbor found us to work on the calf. First we sterilized all the equipment with 100% alcohol and then poured it all over the intestines and tried to get as much dirt and debris from the navel and the intestine without bursting them. This took lots of time and Andy was so meticulous about cleaning everything. Inch by inch he started pushing the intestines back into the body cavity and at one point he had to make the navel opening a bit larger and after about an hour he was ready to close up the opening. During this entire process Eddie was holding the back feet & legs and I was holding the front legs and feet, the calf did not move even being on it’s back during the entire time. Andy cleaned the incision several times more and then closed it all with vet staples. He gave the calf a large dose of antibiotics and covered the wound with more alcohol. We took the calf back to his mother and she started cleaning him all over again. You have to remember that his calf had never been able to get up to nurse. We tried to give him colostrum to no avail and in the next three days he got up three times that we saw but we NEVER saw him nurse even with mom’s encouragement. On the fourth day he died and as an afterthought we think we should have used a system that you put a hose down their throat into their stomach for nourishment or may should have put it down immediately but we always try to save them after the mother has gone through nine months of keeping them alive.
I want to thank our wonderful neighbor, Andy Hutton, for all he did that day and help he has given us in the past. He hauls our cattle, helps us find good buyers for our stock, helping in repair our equipment and there for us to answer our questions. Though we’ve been farming for 40+ years it’s always good to get first and second opinions. Andy is our “go-to-farmer”!!!
We only have two more heifers to calve and about 9-10 older cows in our spring herd to deliver. Wish us luck!!
What a glorious morning with all of the green grass around the farm! We had a horrific thunder and lightning storm around midnight that lasted 35 minutes. It was so bad that I brought Sadie and she slept peacefully by our bed all night. I would love for you to be sitting on my front porch and see the glory of God that I can see!!
For some reason my camera is showing yesterday’s date but believe they’re two entirely different days!! Yesterday was gloomy and wet most of the day! As soon as the cake comes out of the oven and I get the bread made I’m going to be outside enjoying the splendor!!!
We’ve not decided if he will possibly become a sire on the farm but he definitely looks and acts like a full-grown young bull!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
We love them with pinto beans, fried potatoes, and cornbread!! Great meal!
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.
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!!!
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.
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!!! 🙂
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.
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!!!
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.