I still can’t believe she’s gone and still get weepy when I think of her. Our Cocker Spaniel, Sassy, died a year ago today and we’re so sad. Eddie bought her for me as a puppy in 2004 and she has been our baby ever since.
It’s that time of year again and flu season has hit my area hard. Everyone you talk to is getting a cold, sinus issues or the flu, even pneumonia.
I’ve heard it said in the past that if we could get a really cold winter it would kill a lot of the germs in the air. I think this is an old wives tale. This winter for us has been the coldest I’ve recorded since 2014 and yet so many people, young and old, have or had the flu. My sister-in-law was quarantined to her apartment at the retirement home where she lives for two weeks and their meals were brought in by nurses. The first week she had a cold and the next week everyone in the facility was quarantined due to the flu and pneumonia. She is well now but anxious to get out of her apartment.
Last year I started using a cleaner in my house on all the doors, windows, the kitchen and bath that I think has helped us from getting anything along with the fact that we haven’t gone out in public much. My cleaner is a version of Clorox Cleanup. Here is what you will need:
1/2 cup of bleach
2 1/2 cups of water
Industrial strength spray bottle
Mix together in the spray bottle and use a clean cloth to wipe all the germs away.
NOTE: You must have an industrial spray bottle because the bleach will deteriorate the pump sprayer in just a few uses. I bought three of the bottles because I also use them for other homemade cleaners I use on a daily basis. Here’s the link to the ones I purchased:
I hope everyone stays healthy and warm. We’re having another cold snap with frigid air and only an inch of snow but by the weekend we’re told it’ll be in the 50* range again.
I don’t like being unprepared for much of anything but the last two weeks or so of frigid air gave me a real kick in the pants! We have been used to teens and single digit weather but not with 20 – 45 mile an hour winds. We were able to keep the house good and warm but had to keep heaters in the cellar and laundry room around in the clock. We didn’t have any frozen water pipes or lose any of the valuable canned goods.
We did however have to keep chopping holes in the streams that water our cattle. We had to move two herds due to the mountain springs freezing solid and the feed we gave them was increased by an extra roll of hay each day, giving the two larger herds three round bales and the heifers two. The heifers and bulls were given corn gluten every other day.
January 3rd we went to Rural King to pick up salt and feed for the chickens and he bought me a new insulated barn coat and insulated bib coveralls!!! Along with the Extreme socks Heather bought me for Christmas, the flannel lined jeans Shawn got me and these from Eddie the winter weather coming would not be taking hold of me!!!!
I know how the Pillsbury Dough Boy feels now, waddling around!!!!
January 5th was the worst day and the pickup wouldn’t start, the big tractor fuel was frozen and wouldn’t start, and we used the small Kubota until the hydraulics froze up. At this point the cattle were fed the old fashioned way by using 15 square bales of hay loaded onto the old Dodge pickup for the larger herds and 10 square bales to the heifers. We keep bales of hay in the loft of the bull barn for the bulls and they were fed hay and grain. I had filled up the firewood on the porch and in the house and was constantly chucking it into the woodstoves. I made a huge pot of soup on the stove and our bodies stayed warm and full on the inside!!! The chickens and rabbits were checked hourly along with Mischief, our coon hound and all were given fresh warm water. Mischief stayed wadded up in her house with enormous batts of hay! We had been feeding her extra food to keep some fat on for just this kind of weather. We take good care of all of our animals. The temperature that day finally reached 12* but the wind was raging and expecting to last through noon Saturday. With the wind chill the last few days our temps were ranging from -12* to 0*. Mr. Caldwell was working on thawing the tractor all day in the frigid cold and wind!
Finally on Monday we were able to get out and do some extra winterizing to prepare for the next onset which might be within the next week!
So with the rabbits taken care of before the next batch of frigid weather, I went straight to the hen house. Extra bedding was put in their nests to help keep the eggs from freezing. There’s not much I can do with their water freezing except take them warm water more often. Hopefully in the spring the electricity will be added to their house but this new house is much warmer and cleaner than the old one.
I use a metal pan for their water so that when it freezes I can take it outside, pour a little hot water over the bottom and the ice pops right out. I do carry a jug of hot water with me when I go check the water for the rabbits, chickens and the dog. They love that warm water to warm their insides! I’m keeping the rabbits and the chickens feed bowls full. If they have plenty to eat their fat stores will help to keep them warm.
Now that the animals are better prepped for the frigid air to return it was time to fill up the porch with two types of firewood.
We have two piles of wood outside and one is seasoned, split and covered. The other is dried but not fully seasoned and not split. We have plenty more in the woods ready to take down and bring in to the house.
We’ve made it through the first of the really cold winter weather but we’re ready for the worst to come in the next three months. Between now and then I’ll sit with my new seed catalogs and prepare for what we all hope to be an early spring!! When we expect high winds and possible power outages I keep plenty of buckets of water in the laundry room for flushing the toilets and several gallon jugs of water for cooking and hand-washing. We keep supplies of candles, oil lamps and matches on hand and small wood on the side porch for the wood cook stove. Four small tanks of propane are always full to heat the laundry room (holds our main source of water pipes) and the cellar.
Stay warm and don’t forget to prepare for the next winter hit of weather!
I am so blessed to have the husband that I’m wed to for 45, almost 46 years! He is always so attentive to my wants and needs even when it’s a pain in the derriere for him!!! He puts up with my love of animals and the work it takes to care for them. He puts up with my hunting needs, not paying attention to him when I’m reading or sewing and so many other things. He tries to see to my wishes for handmade, primitive decor. This is the reason for this post!! He claims to not be a carpenter but wait until you see what he has made for my country kitchen for my birthday and Christmas (both in December).
I have a passion for country decor and primitive country!! After he had the kitchen painted for me this summer I got a “wild hair” and decided to get rid of all of my plastic containers I use for food staple storage. I HATE plastic!!! I changed everything over to old blue 1/2 gallon mason jars with zinc lids. THEN I asked for a special place to put them. Here’s what I got:
THEN, he made me a small cabinet to go beside my stove for storing cookie sheets, loaf pans, and the pans I use on a daily basis. It also is made from chestnut lumber from the farm.
Winter time can get very dreary when looking out the windows. No beautiful color from the flowers anywhere to be seen. I’ll admit the snow is beautiful before the animals track through it or the vehicles drive through it but it’s not like looking at beautiful blooms in our yard.
I FOUND A REMEDY!!
Take a look at these beautiful glass flowers I created from old dishes!
Now get busy putting those old dishes to good use and think SPRING!!!
A “before and after” view of our mountain is such a huge change and it took several hours and days to complete. Our mountain view has disappeared over the last few years due to barberry, alm olive and other obnoxious shrubs. We contacted Aaron Calfee from Paint Bank to do the work for us. He has a bushhog that fits the front of a track loader (Bobcat, maybe). The shrubs had taken over a lot of really good pasture land for our cattle. It’s very steep and Eddie just would not get on the side of a mountain with any kind of equipment. It looks really great now and we’ll have to keep a watch on it in the spring and do some spraying to keep it knocked down and the cattle will eat a lot of the tender young sprouts. Here are some after photos that show how the mountain opened up.
Today and tomorrow I’ll be finishing up some posts of 2017, so bear with me.
It’s been such a busy year and I just don’t understand how it can be the end of December 2017.
On Christmas Eve morning I went to Covington to pick up my brother Dean and brought him to the farm to spend the day.
On Christmas day we drove to Roanoke to spend some time with hubby’s sister Dreama. She was full of family gossip and news and she seemed to like the gifts we took to her and we thoroughly loved the gifts she had for us.
We had a wonderful evening with the kids the day after Christmas.
Heather fixed a wonder dinner of baked ham, mashed potatoes, bacon wrapped asparagus, and so much more. We were all stuffed but still able to trod upstairs to open the gifts. Our children always gift us with wonderful things that we can use throughout the year and this year was no exception.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Happy New Year!
On October 27th I had a very special lunch date with a very special guy in my life and he’s not my husband!!! This lunch date was to celebrate his 5th birthday!
LOVE YOU, MICAH!!
I brought all of my flowering Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti in the first week of October and now my upstairs foyer is full of color! Everything outside has lost its beauty since the leaves are gone and we’ve had so many frosts and freezes! The beauty inside is grand!
Hubby and I have had more dates this year than we have had since we moved on this farm. I’m not sure why but don’t question it because I love every minute we’re together whether it’s here or away from the farm.
On September 26th we went to Cass, West Virginia, and took a rail ride that was awe-inspiring and I would recommend the trip to everyone. I’m going to leave you with a little snippet from their website and then a pictorial or our wonderful day trip.
Cass Scenic Railroad, an 11-mile (18 km) long heritage railroad that is owned by the West Virginia State Rail Authority and operated by the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad.
Founded in 1901 by the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company (now WestRock), Cass was built as a company town to serve the needs of the men who worked in the nearby mountains cutting spruce and hemlock for the West Virginia Spruce Lumber Company, a subsidiary of WVP&P. At one time, the sawmill at Cass was the largest double-band sawmill in the world. It processed an estimated 1.25 billion board feet (104,000,000 cu ft; 2,950,000 m3) of lumber during its lifetime.
In 1901 work started on the railroad, which climbs Back Allegheny Mountain. The railroad eventually reached a meadow area, now known as Whitaker Station, where a logging camp was established for the immigrants who were building the railroad. The railroad soon reached to the top of Gobblers Knob, and then to a location on top of the mountain known as ‘Spruce’. The railroad built a small town at this location, complete with a company store, houses, a hotel, and a doctor’s office. Work soon commenced on logging out the Red Spruce trees, which grew in the higher elevations.
Hope you enjoy the pictures as much as we enjoyed our day. It was our first ride on a train and I would go again in a heartbeat. For more information, here’s the link to their website, http://mountainrailwv.com/tour/cass-scenic-railroad-bald-knob-trip/ . They provided us a lunch and when we returned from the ride we took in the sites around the depot.
This summer our home has been a work in progress project for me. I’ve wanted my living room and kitchen painted for two or three years but haven’t had the courage to start the painting myself like I used to. I just didn’t have the energy! When hubby asked last December what I wanted for my birthday and Christmas I told him I wanted professionals to paint the living room for me. The darling man told me to find who I wanted to paint and to get a quote for doing our master bedroom ceiling (I painted the walls last year), living room and the kitchen! I was so excited so I called my favorite painter in the county in May and Eddie approved the quote he gave us!! Pallette Painting started the job on September 29th and finished the following weekend! It looked fabulous, clean and bright! It took another week to get everything put back together and I’m one happy camper!!! Here are before and after pictures:
Bare in mind that our wonderful home has been in the family for almost 200 years and we have lived in it since 2002 and I’ve only painted it once. I clean a lot but you can only do so much.
The living room is small but comfortable and has a wood stove in it for heating it and our bedroom. The kitchen is huge and has clapboard on one end of the room, wide wood boards on the other three walls with two different kinds of paneling halfway up the walls. I LOVE MY KITCHEN! It’s dark due to an enclosed side porch on the east side and a family room on the west side. I need and want lots of light!!! Here’s what I got:
I am a happy camper and love my old farmhouse very much!
I’m still playing “catch up” with my blogging so things may come into play a little out of sequence but I write them as I get to them.
I have a twice-monthly ritual in my life that takes me to Covington, Virginia, to visit my youngest brother. I go every other Sunday and we spend the day doing whatever he wants to do. It takes me an hour to get to him and then we usually spend about 4-5 hours together before I take him home to Merryfield.
We go riding on roads we haven’t been on, we visit cousins, we go shopping, but we always go out to lunch together. He loves going to Tractor Supply to look at the farm equipment and all of the “cowboy” clothing! Dean’s favorite food is hotdogs with mayonnaise only and a bacon cheeseburger!! Occasionally we have pizza or we try to find a restaurant that he hasn’t tried. Sometimes we head toward White Sulphur Springs WV or Fairlea, WV or we drive into Lexington or Roanoke. The day just depends on the mood he is in or how much time we have. He loves to shop and we try to find unusual shops to visit instead of Walmart every visit. Eddie and I picked him up a couple of weeks ago and took him with us to a family reunion and my brother, Junior, took him home after the reunion so we wouldn’t have to do so much traveling.
I enjoy our visits and sometimes we just stay at his place and do something in his room. He prefers going out though for that one-on-one visit and we talk about what he’s done since the last visit. When we go out he dresses up in a shirt and tie and always looks like he’s stepped out of a men’s fashion magazine but he likes dressing up. His health is much improved though his kidney function is only 40% but you never hear him complain and he’s put back on some weight! Merryfield keeps him busy going to movies, concerts, wrestling matches, shopping, and Lifeskills during the week. Lifeskills is a school for teaching day-to-day things that most of us take for granted but he enjoys the interaction with his house and schoolmates everyday.
The last two years we’ve had an abundance of cabbage which I have canned and frozen. We shared with our daughters and other family and some of our neighbors. I was starting to run short on sauerkraut so I contacted my neighbor, Linda Smith, about the moon signs to work the cabbage and we got to it.
We brought in four large heads (very large) and Eddie started cutting thin strips from the washed and drained heads. First he quarters the heads and then uses one of our LEM butcher knives to slice off thin strips into a large pan. I mention LEM knives because we think they’re awesome (http://www.lemproducts.com/category ) because they keep a sharp edge longer than most we have and they have all sizes you could possibly need.
Next we bring out my big crock and mallet that Eddie made for me years ago.
As you mash the cabbage, liquid will start oozing out of the cabbage and this will make the brine needed to sour the cabbage. You WILL NOT add any water to this mixture, only cabbage and table salt. You MUST salt each layer as you go through the process.
My first peek at the concoction is about 5-7 days from the covering. We check to make sure it’s bubbling/fermenting and we do our first taste test. The cabbage will taste slightly salty and may be just a bit tart. If we get that taste we know everything is good but if we don’t we may be in trouble! We check again in two days, sour is good, smelly is bad!!!! If it’s bad, we throw it out to the chickens. If it’s sour, we’re whistling Dixie!! Don’t be surprised if you get a little darkened leaves on top or even a brown bubbling “stuff”, it’s part of the fermentation. We let it ferment, checking daily now and when it get’s to the sour point of making your face crinkle you’re ready to stop the process and pack it in jars. I used to use quart jars but the last three years we’ve used pints. Finish it off by packing the kraut in the jars, cleans off the tops of the jars, put on new lids and rings and pressure can the jars for 15 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure, remove from the canner and wait for the jars to seal. Man, I can taste that kraut & smoked sausage, pinto beans, fried potatoes and cornbread now!!!
The chickens needed a new home due to the age of their existing house! It leaked like a sieve. Critters were getting in no matter what we did and killed eleven of my new chicks that were under two months of age. The hill I walked to get to it was becoming a hazard for me in the winter months. We moved the chickens (they were not happy at first) into a cinder block building which has electricity and water and a separate room for their feed.
Now the chickens use the remaining area as a dusting bath! Next spring I’ll spread it out a bit and start a new area for gardening.
In our house dating was almost a thing of the past until this summer. Eddie and I have had several off the farm dates and hope to have more. We are both race fans and attend Shelor Motor Mile Speedway to watch our favorite racer, Michael Looney. If you haven’t been to a race before this is where you should start!
The races start in early summer and end in September. Mike Looney was one of my Cub Scouts a few years ago and I thoroughly enjoy watching his success behind the wheel in the Late Model Stock Car heats. Michael placed 2nd in points at the end of the 2017 season.
Eddie and I only found time to go to two races at Motor Mile Speedway this past summer but enjoyed every minute and we followed Michael on to Martinsville in September 23rd to watch him compete against about 80 other competitors.
Then on October 29th we went back to Martinsville to the NASCAR race!! We had a great time and we owe this trip to some very good friends of our that won the tickets but don’t like racing!! Thank you Jo and Rusty!!! We spent the night at The Dutch Inn where we stayed on our first honeymoon back 45 years ago!!! It was a fabulous date!
Back in September I posted about all of the wonderful vegetables and fruit that we now have stored for winter. It’s hunting season and all of that wonderful meat our hunters will bring in will stay fresh for a long time if you use the equipment I use!
Today I wanted to show and tell you about the best piece of equipment we’ve ever purchased and used to preserve our food.
We have had three of these in the past 7-10 years and they range in cost from about $50 to $130. We have had the more expensive ones but they didn’t do the job or last as long as the cheaper one. We have meat and vegies in the freezer that range from one month old to four years old and every package we open is as fresh as they day we vacuumed, sealed and placed in the freezer. Before we started using this sealer my vegies and fruits came out of the freezer mushy and old tasting but now it’s like eating fresh from the garden and vines!!
You can get the rolls of Food Saver bags from Walmart for $13.98 (two roll box) or you can get the bulk rolls from Cabelas for $29.99.
You can’t go wrong with this food preservation system! It’s quick and easy to use!
For the last four or five years I have enjoyed making personal calendars for my family and it’s a gift that they can enjoy all year-long. I’ve started calendars for this year but they are a work in progress.
I have an old computer program that I got years ago called “Greeting Card Factory” and I use it to format my calendars and I also use it when I want to make “special greeting cards. It’s awesome and I’m not sure there is a newer version on the market or not.
Once I get the main format set up I can add photos, special dates, different fonts, and the list goes on and on.
Calendars are great stocking stuffers and as I said previously they’re a gift your family and friends can enjoy all year round!! Adding family birth dates and anniversaries is a great addition and make the calendar date blocks a little large makes for a day planner, too!!
A cluttered mess is what my laundry room has been for way too long! In June I took the bull by the horns and completed a redo in about three days. Some history of the laundry room includes the fact that it was used as a milk room back when we were children. It includes a cement trough that was used to hold spring house water to keep milk cold until the dairy truck arrived to pick up the milk. It houses a hand dug well at the end of the trough that is about 12 feet deep and covered with a concrete top. When we moved into the house this well was still used but we had a new well dug shortly after moving in. The room has had nothing done to it until I retired two (almost three) years ago!!
First I emptied all I could move myself out of the room. Then I swept down the ceiling, wall, sink and floor. Next I bought two gallons of paint, one with primer and one was semi-gloss white. I wanted everything to be brighter and cleaner!
One more item off the retirement bucket list!!!
I honestly can believe the last time I posted was in September but I promise to get caught up if not by the end of today but definitely by tomorrow! Over the next two days you’ll receive several emails of my/our hectic life which has been full of hard work, fun, a few trips, more work and preparing for the winter that is sneaking up on us quickly.
For several years now I’ve been making my own cleaning supplies. I do this because over half of my grocery bill is expensive cleaning supplies and I only buy groceries maybe once a month!! I even make my own body wash and I do love it. I want first to let everyone know that I’m not the creator of all of these recipes, I follow some very frugal ladies and gents that share their wisdom with the world. Some recipes have been tweaked to meet my own needs. Tip Junkie is my favorite at the moment but I get ideas from HGTV, Real Simple, and a lot more. All you have to do is “google it”!!! My favorite make-your-own blogger is https://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/homemade-body-wash.html
Today’s recipe is for body wash and I love the commercial Dove Bodywash. I have very dry skin as I’ve grown older and my OB/GYN told me years ago that Dove was the mildest soap you can buy over the counter.
To make a gallon of bodywash you will need nine bars of Dove soap (other soaps tend to vary) and 18 cups of boiling water. I like to make a gallon at a time so I don’t run out as quickly!! All you do is get an old vegetable grater and grate the bars of soap into a pan. I tried to use a food processor and burnt it up, don’t do this!!!
When you get down to the last bar of soap to grate, put your pan of water on the stove to boil. The harder boil and hotter the water the quicker the process of melting the soap takes.
This bodywash makes my skin feel silky but not sticky or greasy and it lasts a lot longer than the commercial packaging!! Smells so feminine!
I’ll post more homemade products I personally use in future posts including my favorite window cleaner, furniture polish and floor cleaner. Let me know if you try the recipes and if you like them!
Cooler weather is good and upon us and we’ve actually had a fire in the woodstove several nights to take out the chill and dampness. Fall has crept in on us with the trees changing color and the shadows falling on the ground remind me of Halloween. Pumpkins everywhere we go and bales of straw. Scarecrows sitting in every nook and cranny!
With fall come the acts of nature that we overlook until you almost walk into it! By this I mean, bee nests and I walked right under this one several times before actually seeing it!
Can you see anything hanging from the tree? My first encounter was in July and I walked through that path about six times one looking for little chicks in distress because they couldn’t find their mom. I never saw a thing while walking but that afternoon I was in the laundry room folding clothes and looked out the window and there hung a hornet’s nest the size of a volleyball!
We didn’t want to destroy them because as long as you leave them alone hornets are good! They catch thousands of houseflies!! That’s the GOOD!
The BAD is if I had walked into their nest and made them mad!! I would have been stung several times before realizing what was happening! The UGLY is those insects are black, big and build onto that nest all summer. It’s huge now!
Along with the hornets we’re seeing lots of bumblebee’s which have a nest in the ground in my rose garden. The rose garden is a mess now because I can’t get in it to weed. The yellow jackets and sand hornets are all over the apples in the orchards but we haven’t found their nests yet. All of the bees make great pollinators but they do have an ugly and mean side!!!
Fern Michael’s is at the top of my reading list at the moment and I have listened to several of her audiobooks in the last few months when traveling to see my brother and going to my cleaning jobs. She makes me laugh, keeps me enthralled with every word and spins quite wonderful tales of a “sisterhood of women” executing justice for those taken advantage of. The following are only three that I recommend and think any woman will enjoy! For more of her books that I have read and rated check out my GoodReads site at
Future updates to come! Read a book and take yourself to a good place!
The latest dirt from the Schell Urban Homestead
Backyard homesteading with chickens, ducks, rabbits, and gardening
Reflections of a running, writing, inquiring retiree ...
The farmchicks of Polyface write out!
Excerpts from a day in the life of Howling Duck Ranch.com weblog
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, llamas, 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 and the things I love to do. I've been married to the same man that I love for 40+ years. We have two beautiful adult children and one granddaughter. We pretty much live off of our farm by raising our food or hunting for it. My blog is a day to day walk-through of our life.
Adventures in Homesteading
Julie's garden ramblings ...
PIONEER LIVING THE NEW WORLD WAY
The blog and musings of a farm raised daughter in Northwestern Oregon
For seasons of life, the changing seasons, and the seasoning we all love to cook with.