Where has the time went?

13-11-08snow

Fall leaves by the garden a few years ago.

It’s the last day of September.  How can tomorrow be October?  I love fall, it is my favorite season, but it seems summer slipped by somehow.

It is a bit odd not to be harvesting from the garden.  We didn’t purposely leave it fallow, we really did intend to put in a great garden this year.  It just got put off by so many other things.  In the end, leaving it fallow isn’t a bad thing for the garden, but I do miss the fun of reaping the harvest of what we planted.  Now it needs to be cleaned up and prepped so that we can be ready for spring.

But we do have eggs.  Our three hens Marigold, Lucy, and Izzy are laying some beautiful eggs and they are such fun to have around.  It is time to start buttoning down the coop and run for winter and start making plans for what we need to do.  Since this is our first winter with chickens it will be a lot of trial and error for us.  I’d love to hear some winter tips from experienced chicken owners.

13-08-08harvest

One of our past harvests.

We might not have a harvest from our garden, but now that it is cooler I will still be doing a bunch of canning, freezing and dehydrating.  We can get some produce here locally (golly the prices have gone way up since last year!!) and we’ll be getting meat as we find some good deals.  Apples are in season so I want to start off with that, and I’ll see what deals I can find locally.  I also want to try using the apple scraps to make apple cider vinegar.  We’ll see.

The end of summer has brought a real struggle with my health.   I’ve been having a real battle with my asthma and all the medication that goes along with that really scares me.  Fall is always harder for me anyway because there is a lot of leaf burning around here and the smoke seems to hang in the air.  I really want to find some good ways to help my asthma that would reduce the medication or maybe even eliminate the need for it.  I can hope.  I have tried a lot of stuff but have never really seen any benefits.  The biggest thing I know I need to do is get back to eating healthy and avoiding foods I know do not help…like dairy and sugar.

6thgrade

Throwback, first day of 6th grade.

Homeschooling is also in full swing.  Hard to believe it is the last year.  Also hard to believe that we homeschooled 12 years.  Wasn’t always easy, but I would do it all over again.  It is going to be weird hanging up this chapter of our life and not homeschooling next year.  I also can’t wait to see what God has in store for our son as he moves on to college.

That is it for now, off to do some chores around the house.  Until next time, I hope you have a wonderful and blessed day!  Grace and peace….

And Now The Eggs

EggsLucy, our White Leghorn started laying last week.  This week Issy, our Isa Brown started laying.  Marigold, our Buff Orpington hasn’t started laying yet.  We’ve had a total of eleven eggs so far.  Sooo “egg”cited.  Ha!  I like having brown eggs, but I much prefer a variety…and that is what we are getting.   Pretty, don’t ya think?  They are so small.  Every day they get a little bigger though.  We are working to finish the coop so they can finally have an official home instead of a makeshift pen.

We started off with what we thought would be six hens.  I knew going into this that sexing chicks isn’t 100% exact unless they are sex links.  But when you spend the extra money to buy six pullet chicks instead of straight run, you don’t expect half of them to be roosters.  We bought two Rhode Island Reds, two Buff Orpingtons, a White Leghorn and an Isa Brown.  Both
Rhode Island Reds turned out to be roosters and one of the Buff Orpingtons turned out to be a rooster.  Living in town we can’t have FreezerCampone rooster let alone three.  So we had the hard task of butchering chickens for the first time.  It wasn’t easy.

Hubby and son are working on the chicken coop.  Because we live in town we wanted something nice that the neighbors wouldn’t necessarily see as an eyesore (which is why it
is taking longer.)  Hopefully that will be done soon.  We don’t have a lot of the common predators that chicken owners deal with.  Ours are roaming cats and dogs.  So we thought it best to make a coop with a run, and then once in a while let them out to
roam the yard when we can keep an eye on them.  My BarnQuiltcontribution to the chicken coop is a barn quilt of a chicken.  I finished it yesterday.  We are going to make one in a different pattern for over our garage.

So, that is it for now.  I’m off to get some laundry done.  Hope you have a wonderful and blessed day!  Grace and peace….

 

A New Week

Glad this weekend is over.

Hubby and son are still working on the roof. During the tear off of the shingles Hubby determined that the last roof job wasn’t done right. After the tear off he saw the result…lots of rotted wood and rafters. That has meant lots of unexpected repair which also means lots of unexpected money. Also unexpected was the rain we got while they were working. Thankfully there were no leaks into the house, but we did have some in the garage and had part of the ceiling fall. After taking a week off of work to do this, hubby is only half done with roof repairs and is back to work this week. So the rest of the repairs will be done when he gets home from work. It is going to take him a while to finish, but it will get done.

I’ve been doing what I can to help outside, but my health gets in the way. So I have been trying my best to make sure they are fed well, hydrated well, and rested well. Yesterday while making breakfast we found that our refrigerator stopped working. Another unexpected expense. Well, we lived without a working stove for quite a while before we could afford a new one, we’ll live without a working fridge also until we can afford a new one. Thankfully the weather is getting colder and we have two deep freezers to keep us in ice.

I did clean and vacuum the fridge well, even cleaned under it to see if it would help. It did not. If we were more knowledgeable about fixing things like this we could probably figure it out and get it working again. Since we aren’t, we’ll just muddle through and do what we can.

I cleaned out the fridge and freezer and moved what I could to the deep freezers. I moved what needed to be cold up into the freezer area because it is smaller and will be easier to keep cold. We have jugs of frozen water in our deep freezers to take up space so they’ll run more efficiently, and we’ll rotate those into the fridge to keep things cold. It will be like a big cooler. Once the weather is colder, we’ll be able to use the garage to keep things cold as well.

And while cleaning the fridge, I pulled the chicken parts out that I had been saving in the freezer to make stock. I ended up canning eleven pints of chicken stock and three pints of chicken. I still have pork and beef bones to make stock from, but I’ll wait on that.

Step by step, right? We’ll get through this, it will just take time. God has been very good to us and even when things are hard He never lets us go through it alone. My faith is in Him and I trust Him to bring us through what ever comes our way…to His glory. His mercies are new every morning…

The Last Harvest

It’s kind of sad pulling the last of the vegetables out of the garden, pulling the plants out and getting the garden ready for winter. I do still have spinach, broccoli and one tomato plant, but everything else is done. The weather folks are calling for a hard frost this weekend, so it was time. The one tomato plant is in a hoop house up by the kitchen door so it should be fine. I normally use that for lettuces in the fall and spring but the tomato was a volunteer and took over. It makes hubby happy. 🙂

 

2015Oct15beansa

The last of the beans. Some seeds for our garden next year, some seeds to trade and give away.

 

2015Oct15peppers1a

The last of the bell pepper and sweet banana peppers.

 

2015Oct15Peppers2a

After getting chopped and ready to freeze, over 8 pounds of sweet peppers.

 

2015Oct15peppers3a

A whole basket of hot! Pablano peppers, hot banana peppers, and chili peppers.

 

2015Oct15spinacha

Our first harvest of fall spinach.

John 4:35-36 – Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.

Recipe: Pumpkin Bread

2014-10-08pumpkinsa

Baking local grown pumpkins to make puree.

I’m not a fan of pumpkin spiced everything.   I do, however, like homemade pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread. My Aunt who recently passed away mid September gave everyone pumpkin and banana breads every Christmas.  I looked forward to that every year.  Quite a few years ago when we were going through some hard times and money was tight, I took that idea and started baking Christmas gifts including pumpkin bread. I even shared my homemade honey wheat bread and Amish white bread with my Aunt at our family Christmas. But pumpkin bread is one of my favorites and is a favorite of several in our family. Here is the recipe I use.  It isn’t my Aunt’s recipe, never as good as hers because of all the love she put into it, but this is my favorite recipe to use and it makes delicious bread.  It makes three loaves and I think it tastes even better when you use fresh pumpkin puree.  It isn’t hard and you don’t have to use pie pumpkins.  You can use any good pumpkin.  Just cut it in half, clean out the pumpkin guts, and bake in a 350 F oven until tender.  A knife will go through it easily.  Scoop out the pumpkin, let it drain for a while in a cheese cloth lined colander, then freeze.  I freeze mine in 1 cup portions.  I’d love to hear what you think if you try this recipe, or if you make your own puree.

Ingredients

3 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 cups white sugar
6 eggs
4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour three 9″ x 5″ loaf pans.

In a large bowl mix together the pumpkin, oil, sugar, and eggs. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves then stir into the pumpkin mixture until well blended.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes to one hour. The top of the loaf should spring back when lightly pressed.

Canning Corn Using A Drill

wpid-20150823_212640.jpgQuite honestly, I felt it was easier to just buy frozen corn than spending all that time cutting corn off the cob to can it.  After buying some corn that we planned on canning, hubby wanted to try using the drill to cut the kernels off.  He got the idea from a friend who had shared a video she did when she used her drill to do 400 ears of corn.  She bought the special made bit she used, but hubby was sure he could make one.  Most of what we found only included sales information on a drill bit and not DIY information.  After watching a few videos and doing some searching on the internet, hubby figured we would need a 4-inch lag bolt and a big washer.  So off to the hardware store he and our son went.  He came back with a 4-inch stainless steel lag bolt and a fender wpid-20150823_212544.jpgwasher.  Our son cut the head off the bolt with a hack saw, then used the grinder wheel to take off the sharp edges.  That chucked right into hubby’s drill.   He slipped the fender washer on and was ready to go.  He drilled into the end of the corn, spun it through the corn cutter…and just like that it was done.  It took longer for us shuck the corn than for hubby to cut the corn off.  How cool is that??  Now you may decide you want to weld the washer to the bolt, but that is up to you.  Hubby says he isn’t going to bother.

wpid-20150824_112733.jpgIn a short amount of time, we went through 104 ears of corn and got it ready to can.  Which I’m in the process of doing.  I have 20 pints in the canner right now, and 18 waiting to go in.  I’m using the instructions in the Ball Blue Book for raw pack.

Hope you find this helpful.  Here is a short video, “highly professional” video we did showing hubby cutting the corn off the cob with the drill:

Harvesting and Canning

2015Aug13RelishI am elbow deep in harvesting and preserving.  Doesn’t leave a lot of time for blogging.  Beans are almost finished, cucumbers are at their peak, and tomatoes are just starting.  Busy, busy busy.  I have carrots and green beans canned, and some in the freezer, I have four pounds of onions chopped and frozen…with much more to go.  Today I canned sweet pickle relish.  Tomorrow I’ll be doing pickled beets.  I also have a pork loin that needs to get canned.  But that is in the freezer right now and can wait until the harvest slows a bit.  Lettuce has bolted and I pulled most of it out.  I left a couple to go to seed.  I really should have done some staggered planting so we could always have a harvest of lettuce.  Now that the onions are almost done I’m planning to fill that area with a fall planting of spinach.

It is also homeschool planning season.  I need to decide what we are going to use this year, get it ordered and get the year planned out.  Eleventh grade…I can hardly believe that we are nearing the end.

And lastly, this is my birthday and our wedding anniversary season.  So we want to try and plan something big this year, maybe a short trip somewhere for our anniversary.  Usually for my birthday we go to the local art fair, but it didn’t work out this year.  There are a couple other art fairs coming up that we can check out, so all is not lost there.  But quite honestly, right now everything “fun” just seems like work and I really just want to go somewhere to do nothing and relax.  Maybe just sleep.  I just don’t have the energy for much more.

How are things where you are?  Are you doing any harvesting or preserving?  If you have a garden, do you do any fall planting?  Are you children back to school, or will they be going back to school soon?

I’m off to get some dishes done and get the chicken cut up for dinner.  Hubby is grilling it tonight, and fresh corn and fresh green beans to go along with it.  Yum!  Grace and peace!