Category Archives: Harvest

Hay Season 2017 has. . .

officially begun!  Two small meadows were mowed yesterday along with a corner of one of the large fields.  Today and tomorrow will be a mad rush to get all of it baled into 4 x 5 bales before another good chance of showers rolls in.

The grass had finished blooming and dropping seed.

It was so cool watching the tall grasses wave in the wind but not so cool to watch the clouds of pollen fill the air like a heavy fog over the fields.

This field and part of the big field started yesterday were cut today.

Hubby just started raking the first field he mowed yesterday. Our daughter, Heather, turned it over this morning to help it dry faster in the blazing sun.

First round of raking is half way completed.

The wind rows look four feet tall from where I sit on the porch taking pictures.

The baler is greased and ready to roll it up!

Did I Say Canning Season Was Over. . . NOT!

Nope, canning season is not over and believe it or not I’m glad. I’ve been canning half-gallons of apple juice all morning!

Twenty half-gallons of fresh apple juice canned and sealed.

Twenty half-gallons of fresh apple juice canned and sealed.  There’s only 15 jars showing here because the last batch is just about ready to come off the stove.

Our orchards did not bare much for us this year due to the frigid spring and heavy frost when the trees were budding and flowering. I love a glass of juice when I first get up in the mornings and apple juice is one of my favorites right up there with grape juice.  We decided we would have to purchase some apples to make me some juice.

Eddie and I ventured over to Botetourt County last week and picked up six 70-lb. sacks of their cider apples.  The day we arrived to pick them up they were sorting Red Delicious and they were beautiful  Out of 420 pounds of apples we may have found a dozen with rotten spots.

Six bags of red delicious apples

Six bags of red delicious apples

Beautiful Red Delicous apples for eating, juicing, cooking and baking.

Beautiful Red Delicious apples for eating, juicing, cooking and baking.

On Tuesday, our daughter was off from work and came up to press apples with us.  We cleaned up the cider press, washed the apples, and started pressing all of the wonderful juice out of the apples.

Cider press is cleaned and ready to make some juice.

Cider press is cleaned and ready to make some juice.

Pouring in the first bucket full

Pouring in the first bucket full

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Cider Mill

American Cider Mill

Sassy watches close by and freezing since she got a haircut and cold air gets in her old bones pretty quick but she won't miss a family outing.

Sassy watches close by and freezing since she got a haircut and cold air gets in her old bones pretty quick but she won’t miss a family outing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We finished the seventy pounds with two 12 gallon milk cans full of juice and a bowl full of apples left over to eat and make some apple bars.

We use all of our milkcans here on the farm for cider in the fall, watering our plants as we put them in the garden and for maple syrup in the spring

We use all of our milkcans here on the farm for cider in the fall, watering our plants as we put them in the garden and for maple syrup in the spring.

Heather presses.

Heather presses.

Mom presses.

Mom presses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family fun

Family fun

We stored the cans in our garage until this morning so it would stay ice-cold and so the settlements squished into the juice would settle to the bottom of the can.

I washed up all of the half gallons jars and sterilized them for the juice.  Eddie went to the garage and  poured the juice gently into large stainless steel pots and brought them to the kitchen.  I heated the juice just to boiling and poured it into the hot jars. placed the lids on and tighten them for canning.  The jars were too tall to fit any of my canners so we used our turkey cooker for the job and it held five half-gallon jars.

Turkey deep fryer hasn't been used a lot but it sure came in handy for this job. I rarely use half-gallon jars for any canning.

Turkey deep fryer hasn’t been used a lot but it sure came in handy for this job. I rarely use half-gallon jars for any canning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After placing the filled jars in the “canner”, I filled it with hot water almost covering the jars, turned the heat up to high and waited for it to start boiling.  Once the boiling started, I timed the process for 25 minutes and when completed I turned off the stove and let the boiling stop.  I then picked up the jars and placed them on a heavy towel on my kitchen table (away from drafts) so they could seal. We have twenty half-gallons which should last through most of the winter.

The difference in the quart and half-gallon jar is shown here.

Half-gallon jar compared to a quart jar.

Half-gallon jar compared to a quart jar.

 

I love these tongs because they're so strong and easy to handle when removing full, hot jars.

I love these tongs because they’re so strong and easy to handle when removing full, hot jars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We saved the sacks the apples were in to use next year when picking our own apples if Mother Nature cooperates, bagging onions, drying walnuts or anything else we may need them for.

These green mesh sacks held 65 - 70 pounds of apples and we save them for other uses. Recycle is a big word at our place!

These green mesh sacks held 65 – 70 pounds of apples and we save them for other uses. Recycle is a big word at our place!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The apple peelings filled up one big galvanized bath tub and four five gallon buckets.  We feed them to each of the three herds of cattle and our bulls.  The extra milkcan of juice will harden to cider which we also love.  If there’s any that gets too hard, I’ll let it turn to vinegar and store it in jugs in the cellar.

Leftovers after the juice is pressed out. They're unbelievably dry at this point. I'm sure the squirrels will be raiding the barn until it's all gone. I'll also put some out for the wild rabbits that hang around the house.

Leftovers after the juice is pressed out. They’re unbelievably dry at this point. I’m sure the squirrels will be raiding the barn until it’s all gone. I’ll also put some out for the wild rabbits that hang around the house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just put some apple bars in the oven and I’ll share the recipe if it turns out well since it’s a new one for me!

There’s rarely anything that goes to waste on our farm.  This does NOT end the canning season either!!!!  I killed a really nice 7-point buck yesterday and the hams will be cubed and canned early in the next week.

Our chestnut season is over though and we sold 35+ pounds of those this week and saved about 10 pounds for ourselves to snack on.

The chestnuts were few this year but the ones we picked up were huge and so sweet.

The chestnuts were few this year but the ones we picked up were huge and so sweet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time. . . .

Hay Season 2016 . . .

It has officially began on Caldwell Farms. I’m going to miss seeing those waves of grain in the field while sitting on the front porch every evening.

The orchard grass is over the backs of the whitetail deer.

The orchard grass is over the backs of the whitetail deer.

The first field cut, raked and baled this year is out behind the barn that's closest to the house.

The first field cut, raked and baled this year is out behind the barn that’s closest to the house.

This fields total yield last year was 191 and we're anxious to see how it does this year.

This fields total yield last year was 191 and we’re anxious to see how it does this year.

Kubota tractor and rake have completed their work in this field for today.

Kubota tractor and rake have completed their work in this field for today.

The spring rains brought us a heavy crop of orchard grass.

The spring rains brought us a heavy crop of orchard grass.

The 4x5 baler is hard at work as is the driver of the tractor that's pulling that baler.

The 4×5 baler is hard at work as is the driver of the tractor that’s pulling that baler.

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The previous pictures are of the first field which was completed on Friday and Mr. Caldwell has moved on to three smaller meadows today.  He probably won’t put anymore hay down until the weekend because it’s calling for heavy rain on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  The grass is so heavy that it has to have at least two drying days before it can be baled.  Wet grass means moldy hay which means sick cows that eat it and bad milk for the calves that nurse their mothers.

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Meadow beside the mansion is small but produces big.

Meadow beside the mansion is small but produces big.

Meadow at the stable is the smallest and worst of the hay.  We've already decided it's needs a load of chicken litter.  The litter has already proven itself on the other hayfields and pasture.

Meadow at the stable is the smallest and worst of the hay. We’ve already decided it’s needs a load of chicken litter. The litter has already proven itself on the other hayfields and pasture.

The only issue had this season is the poor quality sisal baler twine.

The only issue had this season is the poor quality sisal baling twine.

He's making quick work of this field.

He’s making quick work of this field.


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These ladies will be fed in the coming winter!

 

Country Girl Produce

This country girls is so busy it’s not funny and should explain why I haven’t posted this week.

We have about six bushel of potatoes left over in the cellar and  we want to sale five of them.

Potatoes perfect for peeling for fried potatoes, potatoe soup, mashed potatoes, potato salad, and perfect for canning.

Potatoes perfect for peeling for fried potatoes, potato soup, mashed potatoes, potato salad, and perfect for canning.

Baking potatoes as big as the palm of my hand and solid.

Baking potatoes as big as the palm of my hand and solid.

Potatoes for growing, canning, eating, we have it all.

Potatoes for growing, canning, eating, we have it all.

Our bin is still half full and they've kept so well.

Our bin is still half full and they’ve kept so well.

Kennebec potatoes  that will be sprouted before sold.

Kennebec potatoes that will be sprouted before sold.

We also have lots of fresh asparagus for sale.  I’ve washed it, kept it chilled and it’s gallon Ziploc bags with a pound in each bag.

Asparagus bundle by the pound for $2.50

Asparagus bundle by the pound for $2.50

The asparagus is so sweet this year.

The asparagus is so sweet this year.

Would anyone like to buy some fresh eggs for $2.00 per dozen?

Fresh free-range chicken eggs for $2.00 a dozen

Fresh free-range chicken eggs for $2.00 a dozen

You just can’t beat fresh produce straight from the store and I’m thinking about selling fresh loaves of bread too.

Not the best photo but a two pound loaf of homemade bread and made using our own honey.  It's divine!!

Not the best photo but a two-pound loaf of homemade bread and made using our own honey. It’s divine!!

Hay Season 2015

It will take me weeks to catch up on all of my blog posts that I want to complete from the summer and this fall.  Thought I would start with the wonderful hay season we had this summer.  I don’t help much with the hay production but I do make sure there’s plenty of refreshment for my two hard workers, my hubby, Eddie and our daughter, Heather.

Eddie decides what fields are cut down first and does the cutting with the haybine and the baling with a round baler.  Sometimes, we do square bales but later in the summer as a second cutting of the crop.  Our hayfields have orchard grass, red clover and timothy.  This summer we had bumper crops and more hay was baled than ever before due to the wonderful spring and summer rains.

Heavy crops

Heavy crops

Beautiful orchard grass and clover

Beautiful orchard grass and clover

Haybine hard at work.

Haybine hard at work.

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We have a large Massey Ferguson tractor and by looking at the back wheels you can tell how high the grass was.

We have a large Massey Ferguson tractor and by looking at the back wheels you can tell how high the grass was.

One of the last fields harvested.

One of the last fields harvested.

The season left us with over 800 bales this year.  I just hope we won't need to use it all because that will mean a "winter monster"!

The season left us with over 800 bales this year. I just hope we won’t need to use it all because that will mean a “winter monster”!

Moving hay from Snead line 07192015 (1)

Moving hay from Snead line 07192015 (3)

Moving haybales 5th day 2015 (4)

Moving haybales 5th day 2015 (5)

Moving haybales 5th day 2015 (9)

Moving haybales 5th day 2015 (15)

Moving haybales 5th day 2015 (18)

View from the truck while moving haybales 2015 (8)

Moving haybales 5th day 2015 (16)

I did get to drive the big truck when it was time to move it all off the fields and that took quite a few trips in several days.

Moving hay with a 1970 truck.

Moving hay with a 1970 truck.

Moving hay from Snead line 07192015 (5)

 

Half full

Half full

I ove this old girl.

I love this old girl.

Eddie stacks six bales on the truck and carried two on the tractor each trip to the haylot.

Eddie stacks six bales on the truck and carried two on the tractor each trip to the haylot.

Eddie would have moved all of it by himself if I had not been retired and home to help!  I’m starting to feel useful again on the farm.

Canning day again!

Eddie and I spent an hour in the apple orchard yesterday after lunch picking apples from one tree.  They’re huge, sweet/tart, white fruit and beautiful.

We don't know what kind it is but they have a wonderful taste that is not too sweet but not too tart and they're crisp. Hey're bigger than my hand this year and we picked about two bushel.

We don’t know what kind it is but they have a wonderful taste that is not too sweet but not too tart and they’re crisp. They’re  bigger than my hand this year and we picked about two bushel.

Apple picking 09162015 (4)

The tree is fairly young and still loaded with apples. Unfortunately one main branch broke off due to the weight.

The tree is fairly young and still loaded with apples. Unfortunately one main branch broke off due to the weight.

Apple picking 09162015 (6)

We picked apples and chestnuts yesterday and the deer are really coming after the chestnuts.

We picked apples and chestnuts yesterday and the deer are really coming after the chestnuts.

Eddie and I peeled two buckets full this morning and I got 28 quarts of apples canned today.

One sack full and two five gallon buckets full.

One sack full and two five gallon buckets full.

Canning apples (1)

Peeled, washed and ready to pack in the jars.

Peeled, washed and ready to pack in the jars.

We'll bake them, use them for fried pies, make apple pies, and eat them straight out of the jar.

We’ll bake them, use them for fried pies, make apple pies, and eat them straight out of the jar.

I peel the apples and slice them. Then I wash them in ice water twice, pack in jars and them pour a light sugar water syrup up to the neck of the jar. I process them in a hot water bath for 20 minutes.

I peel the apples and slice them. Then I wash them in ice water twice, pack in jars and them pour a light sugar water syrup up to the neck of the jar. I process them in a hot water bath for 20 minutes.

All 28 quarts sealed. When they cool overnight, I'll take them to the cellar in the morning. Now I just have to figure out what to do with the rest of the bushel I have left.

All 28 quarts sealed. When they cool overnight, I’ll take them to the cellar in the morning. Now I just have to figure out what to do with the rest of the bushel I have left.

Aren't the chestnuts beautiful too!

Aren’t the chestnuts beautiful too!

Raspberry season

First fruit of the year for us this year is raspberries and Eddie and I are picking about a pint of wild raspberries every other day. He picks them for me because I love them fresh, in preserves/jams, berry pies and in muffins. He just likes the fresh off the vine but can’t eat too many of them since his gall bladder was removed about five years ago.

Fresh raspberries

Fresh raspberries

A cup here and a cup there!

A cup here and a cup there!

Todays cup will add a total of two gallon to the freezer.

First gallon

First gallon

As soon as we pick them I they get washed, dried, and spread on a cookie sheet and I put them in the freezer.  The next day I shake them loose and put them in a gallon freezer bag.  When I freeze them loose like this, I don’t have to thaw the entire bag when I want to make muffins or pancakes,  I pour out what I need and zip the bag  and put them back in the freezer.  If I want to make a batch of jam or a cobbler, I can use the whole bag or  whatever my recipe calls for.

A layer of fresh berries on a cookie sheet and pop in the freezer overnight.

A layer of fresh berries on a cookie sheet and pop in the freezer overnight.

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The season is just about over and the birds are eating them faster than we can pick them but what we have will not go to waste.

Wednesday short

First honey of the season

First honey of the season

Jars full of sweet decadence!!

Jars full of sweet decadence!!

Taken from hive on Sunday, in the jars on Tuesday and 16 quarts gone on Wednesday!!

Taken from hive on Sunday, in the jars on Tuesday and 16 quarts gone on Wednesday!!

Now we wait for the sourwood honey!

Now we wait for the sourwood honey!

Left over strained for my hot biscuits.

Left over strained for my hot biscuits.

Mother Nature delays

Storms and scattered showers in early summer are a farmers heartbreak!

Clouds forming again!

Clouds forming again!

Storm coming down the valley.

Storm coming down the valley.

It’s now the end of June and we’ve only got two small fields of hay down and rolled.

On Father’s Day Eddie put down the first two small meadows of hay and stopped for fear of impending storms again in two days.  On Monday he flipped it and let it dry, Heather raked it and Eddie got it rolled.

First round to go down in 2015 on Father's Day!

First round to go down in 2015 on Father’s Day!

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It took about an hour and you could tell from the tractor tires that the ground was wet.  It would take a strong sun and some wind to get it dry.

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Last round in field one.

IMG_0008Mother Nature was kind with only a light shower during the night, hot sun and windy on Monday.  After lunch the two rushed to make hay and officially start the summer work.

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They rolled up 27 bales on this small space that usually produces twenty 4×5 bales.  Wednesday the other meadow went up and now it’s all baled, off the field and stacked tightly end to end along the driveway fence.  It’s a start but we’ve got a long way to go and looks like tomorrow and Monday of this coming will be the only chance they’ll get another area down and rolled.

Mother Nature hopefully will be kind!

2013 Hay season has begun

It’s official-the first hay is down and rolled.  It’s so pretty and the bales are so perfect.  First he cut and baled some pasture that had some beautiful grass on it and even though it got wet , it dried really good and he got 27 rolls off one small area you’ll see here:

First 27 hay rolls for June 2013.  Baled and stored in the house orchard.

First 27 hay rolls for June 2013. Baled and stored in the house orchard.

This was completed week before last and now look  how pretty and green the pasture is where it was mowed.  You can see how tall the grass was along the edges of the pasture.

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Thursday another part of the same pasture was mowed and Friday & Saturday hubby and Heather tetted, raked and rolled it.  Today hubby hauled it off the pasture and I hitched and unhitched the wagon on the pasture and at the haylot.  He’s trying to get it moved and stacked before the rain rolls in and so he can move the big herd of cattle to this pasture.  There’s a back field connected to this pasture that we can’t get the equipment in this year because of downed trees in the roadway through the woods.  The cattle will definitely be fat and sassy when they get in it for about a week.  We’ve got three months to get the calves fat for fall sales.  I’ve included a up close picture of the grass to make my point.DSCN3999

Pasture grass taller and thicker than whats in the hayfields.

Pasture grass taller and thicker than whats in the hayfields.

Rolled and ready to haul to the haylot.

Rolled and ready to haul to the haylot.

Frost and the fruit & nut crop

Apple blossoms

Apple blossoms

Apple bloom full

Apple bloom full

Bluberries bushes

Bluberries bushes

Blueberry bloom

Blueberry bloom

Grapevines blooming

Grapevines blooming

Pawpaw bloom

Pawpaw bloom

Pawpaw trees blooming

Pawpaw trees blooming

Leaves coming out on the pecan trees

Leaves coming out on the pecan trees

 

Everything was either coming out with bloom or full of bloom and we had two nights of frost around the 15th of May.  The English walnut and pecan were burnt bad.  Some of the apples, peach, cherries and pears were blooming really full and got the frost but we may still have a little fruit.  Last night we had frost but not heavy and it didn’t hurt the tomatoes but hubby expects it again tonight.

More trees

We’ve been so busy the last few weeks and it seems like months since I last blogged and I’m trying to make up for lost time tonight.  Bear with me and I promise you’ll understand before this weekend is over.

We have three apple orchards on our farm and all used to be full of old timey apples.  Time, neglect and the weather have really been hard on the trees.  Each fall we try to have a Sunday Cider Fest and decided if we didn’t do something about replenishing the trees that have died or been uprooted by the wind that we would have to start buying apples to continue the tradition.

We’ve replaced about 10 trees in the last two years and I’ve been trying my hand at grafting with not much success.  I think the problem was trying to graft to trees that were not in the ground and established.  Two years ago I started taking classes offered by the county extension office to learn how to graft.  At each class I’ve obtained 10-15 apple root stocks for semi-dwarf trees.

DSCN0655Since I haven’t had much luck with the grafting, Hubby and I decided I need to make sure the root stock was going to live.  When I got the root stock it was bare root and it was too much stress on the grafts competing with the trees trying to get established.  We put all of the stock in large pots with fertilized soil and made sure they got plenty of water throughout the summer.  We did this for two summers and during the winter took the trees (30 trees) into the mansion basement to keep the winter wind from beating them out of the pots.

Potted apple root stock in the sun but the board fence protected them from the summer winds.

Potted apple root stock in the sun but the board fence protected them from the summer winds.

Last month we started bringing them out for some daily sun and acclimating them to the cooler weather.  Last weekend we planted the first 15 in the orchard at the west barn.

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Hubby used the post hole digger on the tractor to drill the holes and then we had some heavy rains which was great for getting the water to settle the holes and get the water down where the roots would need them.

We set out thirteen more yesterday afternoon and now we wait.  Our biggest challenge will be the deer!!  The trees that we set out last weekend have already felt the damage of  deer.  Each one of the trees lower limbs had been eaten off.  To keep them from completing the damage we will have to make woven wire cages to go about two feet around and out from each tree.  We tried the plastic pipe around them last year and the mice did the damage then.  Apparently they thought the pipe was a good place to set up housekeeping and chewed the bark off at the base of the tree and killed them.    So MICE and DEER are on my hit list at the moment!!

 

Youth hunting day & success for my granddaughter

 

On the 29th of September, Virginia had it annual Youth Hunting Day for deer.  This was my granddaughters second year, I think, participating and she went with her grandfather to her mother’s deer stand.  She likes hunting in the afternoon like her Nana and this year she waited about two hours before the opportunity showed itself.  Two bucks came out of the woods into the clearing in front of her stand.  One was very small and the other looked like a monster to her.  She put up her gun and whispered to Papa that she could here her heart beating.  She  sighted in and click . . .  the gun didn’t fire.  Apparently when they got to the stand, Papa loaded the gun but did it gently and quietly so as not to scare anything off  or alert the game to their location.  The gun apparently didn’t load completely and therefore would not go off.  He quickly took it from her and reloaded, the deer looked in their direction but didn’t run because they were well hidden.  Victoria took the gun, sighted in again and shot.  The big  buck fell immediately and the smaller ran off, safe for another day.   She and Papa sat quietly for about five minutes, put the gun on safety and exited the stand.  They started walking up the hill toward the direction the deer fell.

I was watching the entire scene from our front porch and about 500 – 600 yards away with the field glasses. When the deer fell it went in a small dip in the landscape and while they were walking up the hill they could not see it and Victoria was getting nervous.  She thought the deer had got up and ran off which would mean tracking.  Once they got within 10 feet of the kill location they could see the horns sticking up and everyone was very happy.  Papa went to get the truck while she guarded her trophy and calmed down.   When he got back to the kill sight, Victoria got up in the truck to hoist the head and horns while Papa lifted the main weight of the deer.  Papa says Victoria needs to work on her upper body and arm strength because she almost came out of the truck but they finally got it loaded and headed for the house.

I met them at the truck and here are some photos we took once they got it home:

 

Very excited young lady!!

Very excited young lady!!

She was very anxious to get to church the next day to show the pictures to her pastor and all of her male friends that hunt.  She was a little put out when they shunned her and didn’t want to talk about how their hunts went.    We told her not to worry about them and to be very thankful that she was able to help fill the freezer.  I’ve also attached some photos that her Mom and I took the next day in the bright sunshine with her proud Papa.

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Nine-point success story - Grandpa and Victoria

Nine-point success story – Grandpa and Victoria

Youth day perfect shot 2012

youth day 2012

Victorias 9 pointer

Victoria Youth Day 9 pointer 2012

Cant wait to show it off 2012

2012 winner for Victoria

 

There is some funny parts I can’t leave out of this post.  When I was taking pictures of her at the truck when they first bought the deer in Victoria realized that what she and Papa thought was an 8-pointer turned out to be a nine-pointer which made her unbelievably happy.  The other funny part is, Mom has banned her from her stand and told her if she can do that well she can hunt on another acre of the farm.  Now in order to be able to live with this 14 year old, going on 15, we all must hunt harder and better!!  Victoria is a very competitive hunter as you may have read in some of my spring posts when she was turkey hunting with Papa.

She can bearly hold him up 04142012

Happy Hunter 04142012

 

Two good hits!

Two good hits!

 

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Shes a true hunter 04142012

 

The year is almost three quarters gone and what did I do?

                                                                                                                                                                    January -Ice and snow

February-Making maple syrup

January-February – grafting fruit trees

February – March – Seedlings started

March – Baby calves arrive

March-April – Spring turkey hunting for two of my favorite people.

April – fire wood for winter 2012

April – New equipment for working the cattle

April – More new fencing

May – Gardening begins

May – Honeybees cleaning house and we prepare for fresh honey

May – Bee swarming begins

May – Fruit trees bloom and we worry about late frosts.

June 2012 – 1st ever “duratio” in our neck of the woods. Lots of cleanup and keeping hubby busy!

June – Duratio takes down lots of our fruit and nut crop and wreaks havoc on our fencing.

June – Hay time

June – Hay lot is full!

July – Spring cleaning almost done!

July – Harvesting & canning for winter in full swing!

July – A little crafting along the way makes life fun!

July – First barn quilt in Craig County on the barn!! More fun!

August-September – Mammoth pumpkin from the garden. He almost didn’t fit the wheel barrow!

July – August – Fresh vegies from the garden.

September – Potatoes harvested and in the cellar.

September – Plowing to sow the winter crops (turnips & parsnips).

September – Spaghetti sauce and barbecue sauce from the last of the tomatoes.

And, here it is the end of September.  Deer season and turkey season is soon to be here.  Baby calves are coming and yearlings are headed to the market.  Two nights of cold temps and frost in the mornings means firing up the wood stoves.  The cycle starts again.

Potatoes

Well, it truly is the end of summer!  How do I know?  Hubby dug the potatoes this morning.  All we have left are a few tomatoes still ripening and one pepper plant hanging on.  Our potato crop wasn’t near as productive as last years 14 bushel as we only got about 7-8 bushel this year.  It should still be plenty to get through the winter and we have 24 quarts that we canned from last years crop (hate to see anything go to waste).  Sassy helped as usual but she was also trying to catch the little rodents that have been eating the tomatoes and beans and had started on the potatoes.  She is some kind of dog!!  Hubby dug the potatoes alone while was cooking down tomatoes and preparing to can some barbecue sauce which I’ll post later.  For now here’s a few picks of the morning work.

Digging potatoes September 15 2012

Plow used to dig the potatoes

Eddie plowing potatoes, Sassy plowing for varmints

7-8 bushel 09/15/2012

Potatoes are out of the ground before the rain moves in!

They’re safely tucked away in the cellar to provide us some nourishing food for the winter!  The cellar shelves are full and one of the freezers is full.  Now we wait for deer season and fill up the other freezer.  We are so blessed!

What to do with all those tomatoes

Plum tomatoes

We seem to have an abundance of plum tomatoes this year and I’m trying to find new canning/freezing recipes for them.  On Friday I picked about 20# of the little critters and cleaned them up.

I pulled out an old recipe I had used when the kids were little and made 10 pints of spaghetti sauce.  The recipe ingredients were tomatoes (of course) which had been cooked and run through a sieve.  When I cooked them I didn’t use any extra water because I wanted the tomato juice and pulp only.  To the pulp I added sugar, salt, oregano, basil, garlic, onions, green peppers, and red wine vinegar.  I can’t tell you the exact amounts because I played with the ingredients until hubby liked the taste and consistency.  I started with 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup salt, oregano, and basil (remember this is 20 pounds of tomatoes).

Cooking it down!

I used four medium onions, four green peppers, four cloves of garlic (minced) and 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar.  This smelled heavenly while cooking down but the taste was a little sour and bland so I added more of the first four ingredients until we thought it was perfect.  I cooked it down some more until it was pourable but a thicker consistency than tomato juice.  I poured it in the jars, put the lids on to seal and processed them in my pressure canner for twenty minutes.  They’re beautiful, don’t you think!!

Spaghetti sauce

10 pints of beautiful spaghetti sauce

Next batch will be canned as barbecue sauce.

1st Apples of the season

Fall is definitely here.  We have picked our first apples of the season and not because they were necessarily ready but because the sand hornets (huge ugly yellow bee) had started eating them.  We don’t have a lot of apples this year and may not even have enough to do our annual cider press but there were about 30 good apples left on the tree so we decided to get them.

Huge apples in August

We peeled and sliced them pretty quickly and they’re a very dry apple which I thought would make good apple pies and fried pies.

Peeling the apples

Sliced apples

I cooked them up and they’re beautiful.  I didn’t have to press them through a sieve.  I put them in airtight freezer containers and froze them for winter goodies.  I kept out three cups for breakfast and my applesauce cake which I plan to make now.    I’ll share the recipe soon!

Fall is here whether we are ready or not!!

We’ve been talking  a lot , hubby and me, about the signs of a early winter.  I remember as a child hearing my parents and grandparents talking about the signs of a early or bad winter.  One such saying was “If the bees build their nest high in the trees we would have a lot of snow in the coming winter.  The bees are bad at the farm right now and they’ve built nest everywhere.  Some high in the maple trees, some in the buildings, and some in my flower beds.

I posted earlier in the week that the leaves are changing here and the hummingbirds are slowly leaving.  We had around 30 in July and this morning there were only seven at the feeder when I left for work.  This morning there are only three left.  Should we be worried since they usually don’t leave until mid to late September?

We have the woodshed full and the last hay is baled and in the barn.  The equipment has been looked over and put away.  We need to get the calves to market but holding off because “pinkeye” has touched about 10 head and we want them well before they’re shipped out.

The chicken molt is coming to a close and the katydids are screaming every night.  They’re usually not this loud until it about to frost.  The praying mantis are all over the flowers  and in the gardens.    We heard coyotes night before last and from the sound of it they had caught something for supper.  Now we worry about the fall calves that will start coming in mid-September.  The whitetail deer have started losing their velvet and I thought this also happened in late September.

I’ve been watching for the ring around the moon that predicts snow but haven’t seen it “yet”!   Some other weather sayings I heard growing up are if yellow jackets are building their nests above ground, then it will be a wet winter.   If the woolly worm has a lot of wool, it will be a bad winter.  If the squirrels and birds are feeding in the winter, expect a bad snow storm.  For every foggy morning in August, it will snow that many days that following winter.  It has been foggy about 20 days this August and that doesn’t bode well for us.  I’m glad the wood house is full and I’d better get that kindling gathered soon.

Wood house 1/2 full

Have you heard these?

Go by the persimmon seed for the weather of each year, Let the seed ripen then open the seed with a pair of pliers, Inside the seed will be a spoon, and it tells you that there will be a plenty of snow to shovel for the first of the winter.

When wind comes from the east,  It’s not fit for man nor beast.

When squirrels lay in a big store of nuts, look for a hard winter.

Ice in November to bury a duck, the rest of the winter is slush and muck.

Ring around the sun, time for fun. Ring around the moon, storm coming soon.

For every fog in august, you get a snow; the heavier the fog, the more snow you get.

Oh well, I guess time will tell but the way this year has flown by, I predict that winter is “soon” up us!!  Get your chores done and get your winter reading prepared 🙂

Seasonal recipes – Pumpkin

 I love to cook and wanted to share a couple fall recipes we like.  Hope you enjoy as much as we do.

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

 Bars

4 eggs

1 2/3 cups sugar

1 cup canola oil

1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

Frosting

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 baking dish.

Mix the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin with a mixer until light and fluffy.

Pour flour, powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda into another bowl and mix.

Pour flour mixture into pumpkin mixture and mix until incorporated and smooth.

Pour the batter into the baking dish and level out the batter.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing from the dish or frosting.

Frost the bars when they have cooled — To make the frosting: Combine cream cheese and butter in a bowl and mix until smooth. Add the sugar slowly until you reach the desired consistency. Stir in the vanilla.

Summer Squash Casserole

2 lbs. (about 6 C.) yellow squash or zucchini

1 C. chopped onion

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 C. sour cream

½ C. butter or margarine

1 package herb seasoned stuffing (or 4 C. dry stuffing)

In a saucepan cook sliced squash and onions in boiling salted water for 4-5 minutes. Drain. Combine soup and sour cream. Stir in carrots. Fold in drained squash and onions. Combine stuffing mix and butter or margarine. Spread half of this mixture in a 12 x 7 ½ x 2 baking dish. Layer with vegetable mixture and top with remaining stuffing mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until well heated.

More to come.  Enjoy!

Deer and bow season

The cellar shelves are full, it’s almost time to dig the potatoes and fill the potato bin and the freezers have been organized to determine how much venison and turkey we will need for the winter months.  This all leads up to the hunting season in our area.  We, my husband, myself, daughter, and granddaughter are all avid hunters.  My son and son-in-law love the meat from our hunts but don’t like the hunt itself.  By the end of November, the freezers will be full of all cuts of venison and turkey.  We will have cubed steak, burger, chunks, tenderloin, roasts, and hams and all so healthy for us.

Back to the hunt!  We each have our favorite hunting spots on the farm and hubby is our counselor, tracker and processor!  We’ve spotted so many large bucks on the farm already and the turkeys are showing up sporadically.  I won’t have much vacation this year to hunt but Saturdays are always open and I’ll have a late bow season during our Christmas break.

Our daughter and granddaughter are evening hunters and working half days are ideal for her hunting quests and our granddaughter gets home from school between 3:30 and 4:00 which gives her time to get to her stand as well.

We normally have a few friends join us during the hunting season but have decided this year to keep it strictly family hunting.  We have some new neighbors and not knowing their where-a-bouts tends to make us a little skiddish and for safety purposes and liability.  Our county is 60%+ National Forest and we think other hunters would be better in those woods than ours.  In the past we have told all non-family hunters where to go and asked them to stay in their area to prevent any hunting accidents.  These instructions aren’t always followed and that makes us liable for their safety when they move into an area that we may not know is safe from trespassers or others that aren’t staying where they need to be.  Hunting safety is a VERY BIG issue with us!

Don’t get me wrong, we love the sport but we also like to eat and venison is a healthy choice not only for our diet but our pocketbooks.  We want everyone on the farm to be safe and come in with a good hunting harvest and do it safely!!

Happy hunting everyone!!

Small buck in the orchard 2011

Turkeys on the farm fall 2010

End of Summer clues

You know that summer is coming to an end when the kids start back to school but the real clues are when the garden is being cleaned off for the fall crops, the woodshed is full and the cellar shelves are stocked. I was riding home yesterday and saw a hint of gold and orange in the tops of maple trees on our road. Last night we saw a herd of deer near the house and three of the larger bucks had lost the velvet from their horns. The apples are starting to drop and the wildlife is scarfing it up almost before it hits the ground. The hummingbird population has dropped from 30 to 10 or 12. The chickens molt has come to an end and the new feathers are shining. The cats and dogs on the farm have almost quit shedding. The katydids are screaming way before dark and the evening porch sitting is so much cooler. Best of all, the screech owls are calling!! Fall is near!!

Fall Color

I’m so looking forward to fall and the beautiful colors that come with it.  To make my wait a little less painful I thought I would share these photos of past autumns at the farm.  ENJOY God’s beautiful artwork with me!

Fall means cider time and Sassy is guarding the apples!

HONEYBEE Wonders

What with the weather the fruit crops won’t be much this year and hubby is so afraid the garden is going to be a flop because now that everything is ready to harvest the rain won’t quit in our neck of the woods.  BUT, the honeybees have been on a roll this spring and summer and we are reaping grand rewards.  Hubby has pulled off 50+ pounds of honey so far and has another 25 – 30 pounds yet to take from the hives.    We pack quart and pint jars with the honey and add lids.  Some of the honey is strained and some is with comb.  The quart jars with comb are the most popular with our customers and the pint jars of strained go quickly too.  We sell the quart with comb for $8.00 and the quart strained for $12.00.  The pints with comb are $6.00 and the pint strained is $8.50.  If you would like to buy some just contact us via this blog or email at ritabcaldwell@gmail.com .  Here’s some pics of our product.

Cutting the honey from the frames

Quart jars of delicious Virginia honey

My favorite beekeeper!!

Busy weekend!

I don’t waste any time on my weekends off and this past weekend was no exception. The garden is very bountiful and I snapped a five gallon bucket and half of another on Saturday afternoon. We canned 21 quarts of beans from that batch, froze 13 packs of yellow squash and froze six packs of shredded zucchini. I made a loaf of zucchini bread on Saturday and hubby loves it. We’ve only got about two slices left so I’ll make some more this week. I’ll probably bake 6 – 8 more loaves and put them in the freezer for the winter.

Zucchini and zucchini bread fresh from the oven

Fresh vegies ready to store

We froze five packs of freezer slaw last night and we’re going to open a pack on Saturday and see how it is. If we like it we’re going to make more. The head of cabbage he got out of the garden yesterday weighed 15 lbs and 2 ozs.

He dug a few potatoes last Thursday and they’re really nice and he pulled the onions to dry. We had such beauties this year but the rains we’ve been getting are causing them to rot which is why we’ve pulled them so early. We probably were able to salvage about a bushel.

Onions drying for winter storage

Hubby is picking more beans this morning and we’ll snap them this evening after supper while sitting on the front porch listening to the quiet and watching for the wildlife.

Green beans from the garden