This site is about my life as a farmgirl, wife, mother and grandmother. We have a beautiful 22 year old granddaughter and and the cutest 3 year old grandson. We own two farms in Craig County Virginia, leasing one and raising beef cattle on the other.
A very, very special friend of mine went to Ikenberry’s last week and ordered a box of these spring greens that we absolutely love!! She started cleaning them and decided to give me a call to see if I wanted some of them. I took off for a visit because we both stay home all the time and we needed a “friend break”. What a wonderful visit we had and I came home with almost a full box of those greens.
It took me four hours that evening to top the greens ( means removing the lower stem and keeping the green tops), give the greens several baths to get sand and dirt off of them and cooked them on the top of my stove in a large pot for three hours. The smell of cooking greens just says pinto beans, fried potatoes w/onions, cornbread and greens!!!
We haven’t eaten them yet but I froze four quart bags of them cooked which is four meals. I see this meal in our dinner this week and I can actually smell them just thinking about them. Best greens in the world.
When we were first married we had cornfields behind our house and we picked them every spring. We had to be careful and not mix them with another green that was similar but bitter and one would spoil a whole pot when cooked. We have trouble finding them now because everyone sprays their cornfields for weeds so creasy greens no more. I got two packs of seeds this spring and after the potatoes are harvested in one of the three gardens we plan to have this year, we will sow the greens in the fall and hopefully have our own field full of creasy greens in 2022!!
Betty, thank you so much for the greens! I know I’ll think of you with every bite I take!! See you soon!!!
I wrote in an earlier post about our new ducks and how much I’m enjoying their eggs. I now have a dozen of their eggs ( two each day) and plan to make some custard pies with them. I made a huge batch of french toast to share with our daughter last week and it sure didn’t last long.
But my post today is about visitors on the pond this morning. We have two adorable Bufflehead ducks and three Canadian geese.
According to my “Native American Wildlife” book these birds grow in length 12-16 inches. They’re small ducks with a white head patch and in flight there is bold pattern on the male and a white wing patch on the female. Their habitat is ponds, lakes, rivers and sheltered saltwater in winter.
In years past they’ve stayed around about a month and I’m hoping they stay around for awhile because I can watch them for hours. Our domestic ducks pay them no mind and vice versa.
The geese didn’t stay long with us this morning because Sadie runs them off when they start squawking. They are beautiful birds but they leave such a mess on the pond bank in spring and it’s not much fun dodging their droppings which are huge and lots of it. We let them swim and rest on the bank for awhile and then Sadie sends them on to a neighboring farm!!
I also want to remind you that you might want to get your hummingbird feeds out and sterilized for they will be returning to our farm around April 15th which is 18 days away!! The hummingbird mix is a ration of 1cup white sugar to 4 cups of sterilized water, no food color, please!!!
These were our visitors in 2017 and we had so many all summer.
This was our first really nice day to go riding in the backwoods. It’s about a two mile trail and for almost a year it had been completely blocked by downed pine trees and big timber. Hubby cleaned it out in about a week and then took me through to see what he had done! Sadie and I will be walking and riding the trail a lot before summer breaks.
On most windy days we can go back there and there’s no wind because of the location and the forest breaks the gusts. Sadie loves to go with us, she won’t ride but stays well out in front of us. She usually trees at least one squirrel and several young deer but won’t chase them. This is one of our getaways but not off the farm. We have several of these on the farm. How lucky can two people be?????
Hubby says it’s the biggest hutch he’s ever seen and thinks it’s a big family of them. This spring the kits will be sent out to make their own homes in another area but usually close to the parents.
We let them stay as long as they’re not flooding any of the pasture or routing the water that will harm neighboring property. They’re amazing construction creatures and fun to watch at work when they think no humans are close and watching.
The fourth shipment of seeds arrived and I’m still looking at some more that I would really like to try. I have inside and direct sow seeds now with over 75 different varieties. No I won’t plant every seed in every packet but I do have a plan and got my hands dirty a little yesterday afternoon.
Today my son is coming to the farm to help hubby set up a solar-powered thermostat controlled exhaust fan in the greenhouse. The temperatures inside the greenhouse are now ranging from 30* to 120* any given day. It can be 40’s at 8:00 a.m. and within an hour it’s over 80* and continues to raise with the open windows in the top.
I learned so much from my mistakes last year and I’m absolutely sure that will continue this year. Yesterday I planted 8-10 broccoli, cabbage, and one new pepper with eight seeds of it. I also planted 10 Rose of Sharon and twelve Moonflower seeds and 8 Mr. Stripey tomatoes (craved these all winter).
Over the winter I made a binder of growing help and specific instructions for everything I want to grow this year. It’s a five inch binder and it’s FULL!! I have two charts with different data I’m going to collect over the gardening season so that I can keep up with what works, timing & planting, germination & planting and comments I don’t want to forget.
I have an old rose bush below the garage that I want to take slips from and try the propagation instructions for six different ways of keeping it going. It’s a beautiful red rose with blooms the size of a dime, heavenly scented, and an over abundance of blooms. I hope I can get at least one or two started to add to my rose garden.
The solar panel and fan have been installed and I’m checking hourly to see how it’s working. New post for that later, maybe tomorrow!!
It feels so grand to play in the dirt in a warm space!!!
The pandemic that we are witnessing is a very real reason to stay home. We stay home most all the time anyway so it hasn’t hindered our life much at all. You see, there is ALWAYS something to do on the farm that keeps us busy during the day and at night we’re usually too tired to much anyway!!
Wintertime keeps us busy with feeding and caring for the cattle and small animals on the farm. Everyday finds us hauling firewood out of the woodhouse into the house or to the front porch when there’s pending bad weather. It’s also a time for restocking the wood stores for the next winter and checking the fencing for downed trees that have broken the fences that keep the cattle where they belong.
This winter we are dealing with a lot of ice and over the last two months we’ve had a total of about 12 inches of snow. We’ve expected to lose power but only had one outage early that was fixed and back on within about five hours, we were asleep during most of that.
Our next big issue is calving time which begins again on March 18th through May. We’re hoping that the bad winds, ice, below freezing temps and snow are over for the most part then or we could end up with a couple orphans like these to take care of.
A few more work projects coming up are fruit tree pruning, making maple syrup and opening the greenhouse (unheated), building new fence and repairing old, restocking chicks, introducing more ducks and maybe turkeys to the farm, and fixing roads that have developed deep ruts and gulleys wherever the tractor tires dig in. This is all before we start the garden!!! There are no lazy days or boredom when you’re a farmer!!!
We added an additional tarp on top of this blue one back in November to protect my new hobby as much as possible from the wind and ice. We surrounded it with ropes and prayed!!
So far so good as of February 17, 2021 but there’s another storm headed our way tomorrow. This didn’t stop hubby and I from making some more plans for changes to the interior before April.
There will be new stair-step shelving on the two sides and we’ll bring the tables I used last year outside for “hardening off” before final planting in gardens and flower beds.
We’ve also looked at our early heating options which will be using propane tank top radiant heater with an addition of a indoor tarp to hold the heat closer to the plants instead of in the roof top. It’ll be a tarp that can be rolled up 8 ft. up on warm days and rolled back out before the weather cools in the evenings.
We’re going to use a AC converter to handle fan’s to push out the excess heat out the top of the east and west ends of the greenhouse. Last summer I lost so many plants due to not realizing how hot it gets in the greenhouse. I think the hottest day was 128* with the roof vents open.
I still got some gorgeous plants out just in time to produce and I learned some serious lessons on the work and expense of having a greenhouse. I’m looking forward to starting it up again and ordered most of the seeds and supplies I’ll need except for the potting soil which is next on my list!!
These two photos show the best I had when I really needed so much more in growth and germination.
Hopefully 2021 will be a better spring and gardening season!!
On February 4th Eddie and I celebrated our 49th wedding anniversary by staying on the farm and enjoying a peaceful day! On Febrary 4, 1972, we eloped to Sparta, North Carolina so we could spend the rest of our lives together.
I’m still very much in love with this man and very grateful he chose me as his wife and soulmate for life!!
It started around 11:00 pm on Saturday night and ended before noon on Sunday. We had off and on snow, sleet and rain throughout Sunday but without much accumulation. Our son-in-law, Joel, cleared the driveway with his four-wheeler and scraper blade while Eddie fed the cattle and we appreciated it so much. The snow blower finished the job with paths to all the small animals and around the yard. The wind is supposed to howl sometime this afternoon through the next couple days and that’s what we hate more than the snow.
It’s not been too long ago that I was working everyday and traveling 45 minutes to and from work in any weather.
This was in 2010 and I drove from Blacksburg VA to the farm in the middle of it and was careful. The cold wind was blowing and I don’t remember it being bone chilling at all. But these days with a couple inches of snow I just freeze all the way to the bone!! I don’t know what getting older has to do with that because I have plenty of meat on these bones!!
The only good thing I see in this weather is it will make for a great maple sugar event and possible good for the ground if it can melt through.
We’ve had three or four snowfalls so far this winter but never more than 2-3 inches have fallen. Saturday thru Monday of this weekend, our weather forecasters are calling for a very different weather scene of as much as 10 inches or more in the mountains. We’re ready for it but not looking forward to it. It’s supposed to be a heavy wet and crusty snow which could cause trees down and power outages. I’m not worried about myself so much but Eddie will be feeding the cattle in it and today I’ll put down more straw for the chickens and fill the dog beds in the barn. Of course, the porch will be filled to the top with firewood to keep our stove going and we’ll be toasty in the house with a big pot of meat and veggie stew on the stove. If the power goes we’ll be cuddled up reading until dark and hit the hay early!
Our son and grandson & his Mom, and our granddaughter will be elated because they love the snow! I see sleigh rides, snowmen built and snowball fights in their future.
I hope everyone is home, safe and warm like we will be during this weather event.
I am so grateful for the knowledge that my husband and I have that was acquired from our parents, grandparents, and family that knew and taught us so much about how to live on the farm and provide for our family. The knowledge is so far-reaching in so many aspects of life. The knowledge of respecting and the regard for others and our land always uppermost in our minds.
The knowledge of caring for and feeding our family. The knowledge of sharing our life and way of life so that when we are gone they can if they so desire to use and share it with their family and friends.
Gardening, managing the orchards, grafting trees, fishing, hunting, logging and cutting firewood, preserving food, caring for livestock, raising your own livestock, feeding all the animals on the farm, operating farm machinery and so much more is knowledge we have tried to pass on to our children and grandchildren.
There’s a front rolling in here this morning around 10:00 or 11:00 so the cattle are being fed before the farmer is. He wanted to feed the cattle their hay and grain before it’s covered with rain and probably ice because it’s 32*.
While hubby is taking care of the stock I prepared breakfast.
My French toast recipe is six eggs, 1/2 cup of milk, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, all beaten together until frothy. While I’m beating this up, I’m also melting a half stick of butter in my electric skillet. I dip slices of bread into the egg mixture and lay them out in the melted butter, growing each side. This makes a dozen slices of toast and when they’re done I fry the bacon in the same skillet. Everything is done and setting on the table when hubby walks in the house.
Normally we would use our own maple syrup but Mother Nature hasn’t been kind for two years, so we use Mrs. Butterworth’s until we can harvest our own. If all goes well we’ll be tapping trees and making syrup in the sugar house in late February or March.
At the end of the meal when I’m cleaning up the kitchen I also clean up those used egg shells. Once they’re washed out, I put them in a pan on my dryer to dry thoroughly. The next day I drop them in a clean bag, crush the shells into small pieces and store them until garden time. We drop the shells around our plants in the each row of the garden to get rid of any unwanted creatures eating the plants and to add calcium to the plants. Last spring our garden was “almost” bug free!!
Hubby is getting pretty good trapping with snares and this second male coyote was caught Tuesday morning in the field with the cattle. Since catching the other one last week we had been hearing another in the same area. Sadie barks all night when they’re around and howling and her hair stands on end when she hears them. The pack is dwindling but no females yet even though we know they’re around. Now that bear chase season is over, Mr. will be setting more snares, he doesn’t like catching hunters dogs in these traps and we alert our neighbors that traps are set so we don’t catch their dogs.
Well the aggravating coyotes are terrorizing our livestock again.
Please don’t give us grief for killing the beast. When we’re trying so hard to make a living these day with our cattle, we do everything possible to save the calves born and then stolen away by these vicious animals.
Our area is full of them and they keep our dogs upset night and day but we don’t dare let them out to protect because a pack or even a large male coyote would tear our dogs to bits.
We had a professional hunter come in to hunt them but with no luck! These animals are so alert to the sounds the callers make and won’t come near them, so he was not successful in seeing or hearing them. This is why we and neighboring farms set snares for them.
We have heard in recent nights, three – four different packs in our area. There is no bounty and the wildlife officers are too busy with hunting violations to give any assistance so we do what we can on our own.
I’ve had these two ducks for almost three years and Daisy has given me beautiful eggs almost the entire time. She currently is in winter hiatus, I believe. I’ve been looking for more Pekin ducks for over a year with no luck.
If I don’t find 3-5 more by spring I will raise some and hopefully the majority of them will be ducks and not drakes.
So spring will find me bringing new ducks, chickens and turkeys to the farm. With all this poultry and the greenhouse, I should be a busy but very happy farm girl!!
This is an unusual Christmas post, but then again this is Christmas in a year like no other. This season is a time that’s meant to bring joy, and this year we have to be especially creative in finding ways to do so while keeping everyone safe. I wish everyone a happy holiday; this COVID world is at least offering us the time to look for joy in the small things, if we only choose to take it. Let’s take advantage of that.
I think this blog post from fellow blogger Kavitha at Sunshiny SA Site is important to reblog in its entirety. It is a strong reminder of why the restrictions in place in so many of our regions are there for a reason. The story it shares has been replicated far too many times: in Canada, South Africa, the United States, the UK, EU countries, and everywhere around…
From 50+ hens to 18 in one summer/fall season is not a good thing on the farm.
Each spring I add days old chicks to the farm livestock. This year we added five each of ISA browns, Rhode Island reds, black Australorps and Americaunas. They grew out beautiful and very healthy. My spring chicks grow out in five to six months and start laying when my older hens get the time off for molting and recharging.
After the brooder box they’re moved to the Little Red Barn where they can interact with the older chickens for a few weeks and then they’re moved into the big house.
This summer after all of the ladies and rooster were together and free ranging the farm an unwelcome beast invaded the territory. He seemed to come on rainy overcast days when we weren’t somewhere out of doors and his first visit took out nine hens in one day. Our dogs tend to stay in their houses when it rains and they were not aware of what was going on. I found the dead hens laying in several places from the barnyard to the cemetery on the hill. The next day he got four more and so on and so on. We caught him out on several occasions but only got some shots off and no kills. We’re convinced that she was probably feeding her young and that’s why she got so many at one time. The following photo I pulled from the internet will give you an idea of the family she must feed . . .
BUT not my hens!!!!
We’ve not had a visit from her lately but my hens (only 18 remain, nine old and nine pullets) have learned to stay near cover that she can’t get into.
My young girls have started laying, two per day so far, and I only had to buy eggs from the local grocer three times. Store bought eggs are definitely different from my free range eggs.
Spring 2021 will be filled with around 25-30 young chicks, five Pekin ducks and 3-5 turkeys. I bake so much and love those duck eggs to make my bread, cakes, pies and cookies. My egg customers are begging for eggs and I hope to fill those orders by January 2021, when all nine of the young hens will be rolling out those perfect eggs.
Our woodhouse is a 24′ x 24′ and about 30 feet high. We fill it every spring when the weather cooperates with dead wood that we find on the farm. Most all of it is from dead oak, ash, walnut or locust trees and we try to keep it under roof so that we have no reason to have flu fires during the winter.
This is what we had left over from 2019 winter.
First thing in the spring we start checking fences for downed trees on them. Those trees are blocked up and then cut for firewood.
This summer and fall a very good friend of ours came and cut trees that had fallen onto the pasture. Most of it was still on a stump so it will dry through this fall and winter as we use up the drier wood.
Our daughter and son-in-law also brought us a huge pile of slabs and it’s in the woodhouse ready to use.
The woodhouse is full and we have a good start on the supply for winter 2021.
According to our local weatherman, our first snow of the season will roll in tonight with temps dropping to the 20’s, 40 mph wind gusts and snow starting as flurries. He even said we will see accumulations of 1″ to 4″ inches and possible as much as 8″ in the mountains, which is us!!!!
I hope it doesn’t look like this but with the rest of our strange year, why not!!!!
Yesterday and this morning I’ve been making sure the chicken nests and their flooring have plenty of bedding. I’ve made sure they have lots of high protein food, clean water and this evening when I put them in for the night, I’ll close the east end window to keep cold air from their roosting poles.
The dog houses are full of warm fluffy hay and they will get some warm water when they receive their evening meal.
The cattle have been given grain with their hay for two days and hubby will probably wait until the weather system rolls through tomorrow. If the hay is covered with snow they may have a hard time eating it and they don’t care for wet hay. The babes will find a mound when it’s rolled out and sleep on while mom eats her fill.
The wood has been stacked on the front porch and the wood rack by the stove is full. Extra kindling has brought in, five gallon buckets will with water and gallon jugs have been filled with water just in case the power goes out.
I’ve bought in extra canned goods and potatoes and plan to start a big pot of homemade vegie-venison stew to warm our bellies!!
I loved getting the greenhouse started, planting seeds, watching them sprout, growing and wilting!! I got started in April but the weather was always too cold or too wet. We had to run propane heat lamps when the weather was freezing at night. We didn’t get any of the garden started until early June.
Nearly all of my seeds germinated but when it started getting warm everything either died or stopped growing. I knew the heat was the problem but I had all four vent windows open and the entry door was open as well. I found out to late that I needed fans to circulate the hot air and give the plants some artificial wind. I don’t have electricity in the greenhouse but will have in 2021. We’re currently looking at solar power just for the greenhouse. We plan to put a fan in the back upper window of the greenhouse to pull in air and one in the front upper window to exhaust the heat. We decided to put a tarp over the top of the roof to reflect the heat and that helped some. I decided to put my tomato and cabbage plants on the floor and under the potting tables and they started growing but not in time to make it to the garden.
I had 8 foot tables on each side wall and a stainless steel table on the back wall. The stainless steel table will come out in 2021 because it reflected the heat and at times was hot enough to burn you. It will be an outdoor transition table for 2021 with a vinyl cover on the surface so it doesn’t burn the plant roots.
These plants just wilted everyday and we finally went to our favorite greenhouse lady in town and got some Mr. Stripeys and some San Marazano’s and put them in the garden in mid-June. They did well from being planted so late and August was full of canning all sorts of sauces and tomatoes.
In September I cleaned the greenhouse out except for some perennial flowers that were doing quite well and bloom in their second season and some apple trees I started from seed to plant as root stock in 2021. I also cleaned out all of the pots, trays, etc. with white vinegar and they are resting until spring 2021.
Now I anxiously await my seed catalogs to while away the winter browsing!!
The first week of bow season found me bringing in a two year old doe. The second week of the season my bow broke beyond repair but she had been a good one. The third week hubby bought in a yearling buck and our son got a yearling buck. I thought I would share with you what we do to process the meat.
After Eddie skins and quarters the deer, he takes out the tenderloin and slices it into 1 inch pieces and then runs it through our cuber/tenderizer. The next step depends on what I need in the freezer. This year we are very low on burger so he carved all the meat off the bones and cut into large chunks. Then he runs it through our grinder once but we’re not finished at this point. We add 10 pounds of ground beef burger to the venison and I make sure it is all mix well and it’s run through the grinder one more time. We add beef burger to the venison because it is a really dry meat without much marbling. Without the marbling the meat will be dry and even touch as burger.
I did an inventory of what we have so far this morning and there’s 52 packs of burger patties, 56 of tenderloin and only 12 – 1 pound rolls of burger. We’ll need at least three more deer to complete the pound packages. I know this sounds like a lot for two people but the kids don’t have freezers and provide this meat for four households which includes son, daughter and granddaughter. I can’t imagine what it would cost to buy all of this in our local grocery!!!
When I make the patties I place a sheet of wrap between each burger and then place them in Food Saver (I love this little machine) bags, vacuum pack and seal. I date the bags and freeze and our meat so far has been as good in two years as it is fresh packaged.
It looks like the next two weeks are going to keep us busy which isn’t a big problem since we’re staying close to home anyway! We’ve done this most all of our married life and now it’s so routine we don’t even have to think about!!
This is the blog for our little farm in Skagit county. Here we have Shetland sheep and Nigerian Dwarf goats. In addition we have donkeys, cattle, pigs, chickens, geese, and peafowl. The blog describes the weekly activities here.
This site is about my life as a farmgirl, wife, mother and grandmother. We have a beautiful 22 year old granddaughter and and the cutest 3 year old grandson. We own two farms in Craig County Virginia, leasing one and raising beef cattle on the other.