The final week of deer season ended yesterday and our freezers are full. This year no trophies were taken because we felt we needed to thin the herds (5) due to the small does and too many of them. We talked about this during the summer and decided the bucks were too small and does were very small and believe this is due to inbreeding. They’ve had plenty to eat from the grasses and gardens in the summer and the nut crops in the fall. Only the family participated in the hunts because most of the hunters were looking to kill trophies which there were very few so they hunted elsewhere. My new crockpot and Instant pot have been keeping our bellies full!
Today was a cooking day and I made two cocoanut creme pies and a 14 inch pizza for dinner. The pies were made this morning and I just had a slice and have to watch myself or I’ll eat the WHOLE thing!! I love cocoanut everything!!! To make the pies I had to ready-made pie crusts in the fridge, used a Rawleigh pie filling and some eggs and milk. I love these pie fillings because the filling turns out so thick and creamy and the only place I’ve been able to find them is at The Cheese Store. These are country type stores usually run by Amish or Mennonite families and when I go to their stores I am in heaven but spend so much more money than I planned. The pie fillings will make nine 9″ pies and use two eggs and a three cups of milk for each pie. I also bought some meringue powder there and it makes beautiful tall meringues!
For dinner I made a basic pizza using the pizza crust mix that I bought at the same store, one bag will make two crusts and all you add is water. I made my crust, covered it with my homemade pizza sauce which I’m almost out of, and then used what I had in the fridge for toppings. That consisted of thinly sliced onions, green pepper, pepperoni, smoked sausage, and mozzarella cheese. It was divine, even if I did make it myself.
Yesterday I tried a new experiment with my Air Fryer and a small bear roast. First, I always boil my roast for about thirty minutes in plain water to roll out any excess fat on the roast. The fat is what can ruin a bear roast!! I drained the roast with was only about one pound, rubbed it with two new seasonings that I found at The Cheese Store, and placed it in the Air Fryer following the instructions for a large beef steak but cut the time in half. It was to die for!!! Not kidding!!! When I took it out I sliced the roast into quarter inch slices that will fit perfectly on a biscuit and we had it for lunch yesterday and then for dinner I poured a brown gravy over it and served with mashed potatoes, green beans and macaroni salad! Did I say I’m trying to lose weight???
It has been a quiet day at the farm with lots of fog, very little rain (thank goodness) and enough clouds to make it look like late afternoon, early evening. Except for letting my hens and ducks out this morning and bringing enough wood to fill up the wood rack, I’ve spent the entire day inside writing letters. I hope this is not a lost art because I love writing and receiving letters from friends and family that aren’t living close by. This will be a short post today but I’m sticking to the challenge/resolution to fill my blog with things from the farm daily! Have a blessed evening and we’ll catch up tomorrow.
During most of the summer of 2018 (when I wasn’t blogging much) I was working hard to make a rose garden in one corner of our front yard that gets sun most of the day. It was hard work and a challenge to position all of them into one corner.
There are over twenty different types and colors of roses in the bed and it looks a little different from the picture above because all of the non-roses were also dug up and moved to different areas of the yard inside and out. Several of them survived the winter of 2017-18 due to the ice and creatures called wild rabbits! They chewed the bark off of every rose in the yard!!
I meant to put up a barrier fence in the new rose bed during our first frost but never seemed to get around to it. My procrastination proved to be maddening, the rabbits got to them before I did. Immediately Eddie and I started putting up the barrier fence around the rose garden.
We have chain-linked fence around the yard so we only had to stake the fence around the roses from the inside of the yard. I’m glad we found the damage before it was to far gone to save the roses. We will be having Brunswick Stew if I catch the creatures getting through this!
I think these are worth saving!!!
Really??? Two days into the year and my one and only resolution is down the drain! Why? I can’t blog if the internet connection is non-existent. I kept going to my computer yesterday to post a note but my computer kept saying “no internet connection”. Oh well, today is another day and I’ll remedy the situation with two posts and hope you can stand two in one day! 🙂
I had a note from a cousin New Year’s Day wanting my Crockpot Apple Butter recipe and I sent it to her. I’ll share it with you as well and if you have any questions just comment at the bottom of the post. I’ve wanted for the last several years to make a copper kettle full of apple butter but we’ve not had enough apples to fill the kettle. I have had enough apples of different varieties to freeze lots of applesauce which we love but it’s been building up. Our smallest freezer is half-full of containers of applesauce and I thought maybe if I use up about half of it Mother Nature may give us a good crop of apples in the coming fall.
I store/freeze the applesauce in the large 48 oz. margarine containers or Cool Whip containers. They’re sturdy and very stackable in a chest freezer. After I cook up the apples, I always add sugar to the pot and stir well to make sure the sugar dissolves before I freeze it. When we need apples on the table (just about every day), all I have to do is thaw it.
Now for the recipe:
I have two six quart crockpots with two settings of low and high. One has a lid that can be vented and the other has securing handles but the lid had a pencil size hole in the top of the lid for venting. I fill the crockpot almost to the top of the pot with applesauce (fresh or frozen) and turn the heat setting to high and cover with the lid NOT vented. I want it to get hot and can tell when it’s hot enough because it will have little bubbles forming around the edge of the pot or may even bubble up.
A very important note to making apple butter in a copper kettle or a crockpot, you MUST stir it. In a copper kettle it has to be stirred constantly but in a crockpot you only have to stir at least every thirty minutes. Why? In the copper kettle over an open fire it will burn unless stirred constantly. Not so in a crockpot but it will get thick on top and form almost a crust of very thick sauce and you will have to stir harder and longer to get it to smooth out and incorporate into the rest of the sauce.
Once your applesauce has heated up to the point of bubbles add THREE cups of sugar and stir well. This is why you don’t fill it all the way to the top, you have to make room for the extra sugar. When you first add this the sauce will thin some. Remember, stir well every thirty minutes or so. DO Not put the lid on tight this time. The vapor of the water in the apples needs to get out and this helps the applesauce thicken. Also be careful of bubbling sauce popping out on your skin. Each time that you stir you will notice the sauce turning colors as you stir. Try to pull the bottom sauce to the top. I found out a couple years ago the blending and stirring is easier if you have a good whisk to work it.
At this point, continue to leave the lid cracked, stir every thirty minutes, and continue this step until the sauce gets thickened to your taste. I don’t like it real thick, it spreads better on buttered biscuits and toast if it’s a little thinner. Last step, this is where you flavor the sauce and it becomes applebutter.
This is the step that can make or ruin your apple butter. Some people only like cinnamon, we like cinnamon and cloves. My recipe is 4-6 drops of cinnamon and 3-5 drops of cloves. Be very careful when you add this to your batch and taste test after one or two drops of cinnamon. Once you have flavored with the cinnamon, then do the same process with the cloves. You can add more drops of each depending on your taste but taking baby steps in flavoring will make the process worthwhile. After you have the flavoring in cook the applebutter about 20-30 minutes longer stirring more frequently. You will notice the applebutter will be darker.
During the last minutes of processing, prepare your jars. I use regular mouth pint, half-pint and jelly jars for canning. The half-pints and jelly jars make great gifts but the gifter may come calling for more because it’s sooooooo good! I pour the hot applebutter into the jars, put on the lids really tight and set aside with a heavy towel over the top to retain the heat until the jars seal. You’re done!! Easy and so good!!
Wishing all a very happy, healthy and blessed 2019.
I closed 2018 with a busy and productive day and hope to do that with every day in 2019. I started the day by dropping off eggs to a customer and proceeded with cleaning up the kitchen when I got back, laundry done and put away, did some computer file clean up, completed two hours worth of ironing, filled up my new crock pot with applesauce to be turned into applebutter,
put four more rounds on a rug I’m making for the bathroom,
did stitching around two more blocks of my granddaughters Christmas quilt, cleaned up my closet and put together a large trash bag of clean clothes for the Thrift Store, and took care of my animals. It was a busy day but not a “wear me out” day! It was also 52* when we went to bed and 55* when we got up this morning. Crazy, considering in 2018 on this date it was 9*!
Today was spent preparing a grocery list after fixing a big breakfast. While I brought firewood in the house hubby fed the cattle and let the birds out of their houses. I have 38 chickens and three ducks, we get FOUR chicken eggs a day and one duck egg. I’m not upset about this because two weeks ago I wasn’t getting any eggs except from the ducks. My plan is to get more chicks and ducklings in the spring and maybe a turkey poult or two.
I really feel good about this post because I’m hoping to post one everyday or at least one a week for 2019 as my blog was sorely neglected in 2018. This is a start to my 2019 resolutions!! More to come, I promise!!
Wishing everyone a very blessed Thanksgiving! Let your family and friends know how much you love and appreciate them!! Eat hardy!!
Please bear with me for a bit while I get my computer repaired after a lightning strike. The storm tore down trees, burnt up fence chargers, and scared the puddin’ out of me. We are fine and I will be back with catch up posts when the computer is repaired.
I’ve been out of touch for a bit (two weeks) due to a bronchial infection brought on by all the pollen in the air but I’m back up and running! Here’s a touch of things that have gone on while I was down.
On June 7th we finally got a break from the rain that saturated the ground. Eddie headed to a small meadow that is in front of our house.
He moved on to a field that we normally pasture but this spring the grass is waist-high to my tall farmer and he didn’t want the cattle moved on it to only eat the short under-growth and waste the chance for a few extra bales in the haylot. THEN EVERYTHING CAME TO A HALT!!
There are two rollers with heavy rubber that looks like big tire rubber under the outer frame of the haybine. One end of the bottom roller had some heavy damage and the hay started wadding up between and on the end of the roller causing bearings to burn up. No hay made for two weeks waiting for that roller replacement to come in and a half day to replace it on the machine. Eddie had the awesome help of our farming neighbor, Andy Hutton, to fix the haybine! The parts to repair cost almost $4000. No farming is NOT cheap. While waiting on the parts to come in, Eddie called other farm equipment dealers and talked to other farmers to find out what kind of an ordeal he was in for and no one had EVER heard of a roller wearing out!!
Anyway, the equipment is repaired and we’re ready to roll on the hayfields again but we have to wait for our next four days of rain to come in and move out!! Life goes on!!
We should have another bowl full by the weekend and then another patch on the farm should start ripening! I’m so excited that I have something to finally store for the winter of 2018.
Three years ago we had a bumper crop of blackberries all over the farm. I froze more berries that year and made more juice than we had ever had. We think what we didn’t pick, reseeded or the birds and raccoons ate them and reseeded everywhere they went.
Three years ago I bought some rhubarb tubers for my garden.
We had some extra old tractor tires that I decided to use for the rhubarb bed. I didn’t put them directly in the ground because we have such a problem with wire grass. Wire grass regenerates itself by spread roots underground and it’s really hard to get completely out of any garden bed and flower bed. I laid black cloth under the tire and then filled it with garden soil and manure from my chickens and rabbits and mixed it up really good.
I expected it to grow but not as much as it did. The tire bed is 12 inches deep and 44 inches around. Three years later the bed is too crowded and my rhubarb it way too thick. I dug out two of the four plants in the bed and and divided the tubers into six pieces each and started a new bed near our quince tree in the corner of the garden.
The tubers are 12 inches apart in up and down the bed and across the bed. I fenced it off to keep the chickens from digging it up since we haven’t fenced off the garden yet.
The tubers in the tire bed have twice the room to grow and now maybe they won’t bloom as quickly.
The rhubarb stalks were getting about 8 inches long and then blooming, not good!! I always pull off the blooms to send the energy to the stalks.
I froze a lot of rhubarb last year. My favorite recipe is to clean and cut the stalks into one inch cubes (about four cups) and pour just enough water over the cubes in a saucepan and slow cook until the rhubarb cooks up. I take it off the heat and add two cups of sugar and box of our favorite jello. We especially like strawberry or raspberry jello but I’ve also used cherry or blackberry, yum!! Let it cool completely in the pan and serve. This usually makes enough for four pints of fruited rhubarb and I pour it in plastic tubs and freeze three of them. It freezes well and it’s fantastic to eat like applesauce or on toast like jams/jellies. DELIGHTFUL!
The last three weeks have been warm and then cold, rain, ice, sleet, snow, we’ve had it all.
Our cherry trees were in full bloom and BAM and now they’re brown and all the blooms have fell off.
Our peach trees had started blooming and BAM, the blooms are falling off.
Heavy bloom on the plum trees looks now like they’ve been burnt.
The apple trees are budding and the quince tree is budding. The rhubarb leaves are curled up and the asparagus stems are mushy.
We’ve had a lot of very warm days and then the temps drop in the 20’s*. Mother Nature just isn’t being very nice in this spring of 2018.
The last two weeks have shown us a beauty of nature that we rarely see.
Adult males in spring and early summer are bright yellow with black forehead, black wings with white markings, and white patches both above and beneath the tail. Adult females are duller yellow beneath. We normally don’t have them at our feeders or in the fields until late spring, early summer so this is a real treat.
Since they’ve arrived so early I’m hoping with all my heart that spring is truly just around the corner.
Crazy isn’t it?? We’ve just about finished a heating season and now we start preparing for another one! It’s not a vicious circle, it’s life on the farm!
We covered it up so it would continue to dry. The wood house was about half full and we didn’t want to add any to it because a lot of it had been seasoned for 2-3 years and needed to be used. So we emptied out the woodshed and didn’t have to cut any firewood all winter. We used about half of the stack in the photo above and I just recently stacked the remainder to start our fuel for next winter. We NEVER burn unseasoned firewood! Flue fires are not on our list of fun!
Hubby has already cut down four huge dead oak and wild cherry trees to complete the harvest and we have two truck loads of already cut up but needs to be split. We use locust, ash,and maple for firewood, as well.We’ll try to get this done in the next month so it won’t interfere with hay season and it won’t be full of bees and snakes.
Just a little more work on the farm!
Today a job that should have been done a month ago was completed. Weather changes and the fact that Eddie and I have been sick for a week prevented us from pulling a bull from our fall calving herd.
Buckshot has been with this herd since November 30th, 2017 and we normally only leave the bulls with our herds about three months. Moving a bull away from a herd is not always easy but today it was a piece of cake!! A bucket of feed, a cattle prod and competition down the lane will work every time. He stood at the gate with 46 cows and calves and all the master had to do was walk him to the front of the line and when he herd his brother bulls down the lane he came through the gate pretty as you please!! He is now in the bull lot with the other two bulls showing them whose boss or so he thinks!!
Now, our mountain long field is opened up and full of the Fall calving herd and hopefully all of them mother’s have been bred. There’s 23 cows and 23 calves grazing our part of Little Mountain today and it will be wonderful sitting on the front porch watching them graze but not today!
I’m back in the house out of the wind nursing my sinuses and trying to get well!! We’ve been sick since last Tuesday and a week is too long to not be out on the farm or at least on the front porch! I’m so tired of being cooped up when the sun is shining. The wind is still blowing so I mustn’t take chances of being out too long.
You would think that I have enough to do on the farm but alas NO!! I have a friend that had a big flock of ducks and she had been giving me her duck eggs because they don’t eat them. They butchered most of their flock and asked me if I wanted the what was left over.
I got two drakes and five hens and what a beautiful addition to our farm animals. It only took one day for them to get use to their new owners and home. They’re very easy to tend to, all I do is put out feed which is usually whole corn and maybe some leftover biscuits crumbled up for them. They get water from the pond and in the winter I will keep a trough of warm water out for them to drink. They don’t like being cooped up, so they’re free to range the farm as they wish!
I’m very lucky to have them because I love to bake with duck eggs and they are awesome when making French toast, cakes and pies.
This morning we woke to snow on top of last weeks snow but we had a beautiful blue sky. Last week we got about 10 inches of snow and the most we’ve had all winter. Over half had melted and this morning we woke to five more inches on top of the leftovers. It was 25* when we woke this morning and now its 38* now. The best part – we didn’t lose any calves this time. Here’s a touch of our beauty in western Virginia and Craig County on the mountain:
It’s melting now and by mid-week we’ll be in the 60’s and rain. It will be a sloppy mess but needed for our crops and gardens. We haven’t had snow like this for a couple of years and we all knew it was time. I’m not saying the spring snows are over but sure hope they are.
We have six more cows to calve from our spring herd and these mom’s and their little ones could sure use a break.
My chickens don’t like the snow either and a few got trapped under the grainery last night and refused to walk through the snow to their warm house but it looks like they all survived and are ready to see some green grass and mud!
Everyone be safe and spring is here even though it doesn’t look like it!!!
We got another batch of wintry mix last night that started as rain.
Hubby has gone out to feed the cattle and check for new babies. Thank goodness those expectant mothers held out for at least another day.
It’s still snowing but supposed to end sometime this afternoon but not looking much like it right now. Everyone stay warm and enjoy the bright whiteness while you can. As farmers we don’t mind this very much because we know our fields, pastures and garden will grow abundantly in the coming months!
Have a great second day of spring!!
March 17, 2018 and we have a huge thunder and lightning show around 8:30 last night. We were sitting in the living room watching TV and I saw the flash and heard the boom immediately and it just about rolled us out of our recliners!!! I jumped up fast and ran to the computer to unplug everything, hoping it wasn’t too late. In the past I’ve had three computers, phones and phone jacks burnt up by lighting rolling through our phone lines.
It’s so hard to believe how green everything is. We expecting more winter weather on Wednesday and hoping all of those spring calves come before or after this weather gets here. Hubby is out feeding now and checking the fences to make sure the lightning did not hit the fence chargers. It does that a lot around here when we have these storms. When we know the storms are close and coming our way we unplug the chargers.
But for this Sunday we will enjoy and feel blessed to have such a glorious day! Yes, there’s lots of mud but we will take the rain soaking up our fields, pastures and garden for now.
I think I’ll cook up some fresh trout, pinto beans and fried potatoes for our dinner tonight which will top of the spring day!
Our first calf was born on March 4th and since then we’ve had six more, two this morning. I didn’t get to see any of them until Sunday and those four were quite lively. They’ve all been smaller than usual and one of the two born this morning in low 20 degree temps and high winds is not doing well. Eddie says it’s very weak but is getting up, when it’s up his mom is laying down. He took me to see the spring her and their new babes on Sunday afternoon.
After feeding the grain and we were leaving the field I got this closeup and he was looking for mama and bawling. She went running!!
The little ones born this morning are doing better than we expected but we’ll keep a close eye on them and in the meantime, we have another mama trying to deliver while I’m posting this little ditty!!
Hubby and I had a quick window of time to collect our sap this year and it turned out perfect! We decided to make the syrup by ourselves this year because of the unpredictable spring weather. We also decided that about half a batch would suffice so we only filled the sap tank with 135 gallons of clear maple sap!
Our morning ritual around here in the winter season begins shortly after breakfast and I always fix us a good breakfast to start the day.
Hubby heads out to feed the three small herds of cattle. Each herd is a little different but the two biggest herds (25-30 cows) get two 4×5 round bales of hay every day. One of these herds also has 24 calves with them which are 2-3 months of age. They mimic mom and eat some of the hay too but mainly depend on her milk until they’re about 5-6 months old. The third herd consists of 14 heifers that will be bred in June. They are fed one 4×5 round bale each day along with a five-gallon bucket of corn gluten/whole corn mixture every other day. Then we have our herd of bulls which is only three but those guys can eat and get two square bales of hay each day and corn gluten once a week. Everyone is fat and sassy!
My feeding schedule consists of three rabbits that we use for breeding stock. They are part Lop but the perfect size for meat rabbits. Each morning and afternoon they are given fresh water, a cup of rabbit pellets, a carrot and half of a sweet apple. They love apples and I treat them in the winter time because there is no fresh grass to feed them. I keep a bat of hay in their hutches for eating but I also keep hay covering the wire floor of the hutch to keep the frigid wind off of them. They have a nesting box in the hutch in the winter time to get out of the wind. Their hutches are cleaned weekly regardless of the weather.
Then I head out to the chicken house with a gallon of hot water, an egg basket and any scraps from the table. I have 33 chickens, one of which is a rooster. I have five young hens that tend to roost in the egg nest every night after I shut them in the building. Each morning those nest have to be cleaned out so the eggs aren’t nasty because chickens just don’t care what they lay those eggs on. The chickens have a large tub outside of the building for water during the day and a large pan inside that doesn’t freeze often but when it’s in the 20’s it has to be refilled four or five times a day and the eggs are gathered more often too. They have a feed trough that is four feet long, six inches wide and about four inches deep. I fill it every day with scratch grain, black-oil sunflower seeds and during the winter laying crumbles. In the summer they forage the entire farm but there’s not much to be found in the wintertime. A few times a month they get a treat of dried mealworms which they love. Currently with all those chickens I’m only getting about a dozen eggs a day but they’re wonderful eggs that are large, brown, pink, green, blue and a couple white ones. Egg production will pickup in the spring!
Once the feeding is done and the eggs are gathered, I’m off to the wood shed to bring in enough to fill of the stove for the night and if it’s calling for rain or snow, I fill up one end of the porch. The bird feeders are then filled and then it’s time to come in and make preparations for dinner!!