Thursday, September 17, 2015

Come Follow Me, If You Will

I have mentioned before that I have had problems commenting on other blogs as well as with getting and responding to your comments.

I recently took advantage of a free upgrade to Windows 10 on my laptop.  Since then, I have been unable to upload photos to this blog.

That was the last straw.

I found another blog platform which, has a new web address.

If you'd like to follow along on our journey of renovating the ol' farmhouse, reclaiming the land, gardening and getting back to the basics then I invite you to check out the new blog.  Here's the web address...

Apparently, you will have to copy the web address and paste it into the search box of your web browser.

There are options in the column to the right where you can choose to sign up for email notifications, follow on WordPress or even a place where you can Like our farm page in Facebook.  Feel free to choose the one that best suits your needs.

Hope to see you over there!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Laboring on Labor Day After a Rough Week

Happy Labor Day folks!

I hope you are able to celebrate by doing something you enjoy doing.

Here on the farm?  Well, that's just it.

We live on a farm.

There is ALWAYS something to do on a farm.

Like picking another five gallon bucket of tomatoes...

Looks like I will be making and canning some tomato juice tomorrow.  Yummy!

And, there is always okra to pick...

We did not pick any okra (yet) today (and there are some that are perfect size for pickling) but I already have a metal pot full of okra waiting to be pickled.

Looks like that will be happening tomorrow as well.

For those of you following along on Facebook, you know that we have been trying to keep an eye on the okra and pick them when they are the perfect size to fit into a pint jar and then I pickle them.

Our freezer is full of corn, blackberries, black raspberries, purple hull peas, green beans and okra so that's why I've been pickling the okra.  That is, as long as we catch them at the right size.

Several of them do slip by us (sometimes I think there's some sort of steroids in the soil the way these things are growing, ha!) and those we usually bag up and take to church for anyone that likes to make and eat fried okra.

We won't be frying much okra which brings me back to last week.

For those of you who personally know us, you know that CountryBoy has had some health issues in the past concerning his heart.  I won't go into detail but, suffice it to say, that shortly after we were married I thought I was going to lose him.

Since then, we have been fairly good about keeping an eye on what he eats.  But... when those baby blues are staring at me I cave in.  And I let him eat the fried chicken and fried okra and I enjoy the smile on his face.  sigh.  What's a suckered wife to do?

Well, not anymore buddy!

This past week he was uncomfortable and having some chest pain. 

When it wouldn't go away we finally went to the ER where, after several tests and a heart cath, a stent was put in.

He is feeling MUCH better now and is following doctors orders for the next several days.

Part of the doctors orders is no lifting anything over ten pounds.

He is adhering to those orders thus the holes that have been in the pantry/laundry room floor for a week now have been temporarily covered with small sheets of scrap wood and not the heavy 3/4 inch plywood that we are putting down.  That's some HEAVY stuff!  But, after a week of not getting anything done on the pantry/laundry room he couldn't stand it anymore so he started the process of reclaiming some wood he salvaged (with permission) from the neighbors burn pile.

The wood came from an old fence that the neighbor tore down for somebody.  It was not pretty that's for sure.

From weathered, dirty and mossy...

to the chop saw and table saw...

look at those arms, swoon!  oops, sorry!

plus lots of sanding, to this...

Nice looking rustic wood for the pantry/laundry room walls.

And, the price was right.  Score!

Can you see the difference in the boards on the left versus the boards on the right?  I'm loving the way they are turning out!

Oh, and don't forget the ever-present girls who are always willing to help out no matter the job!

Also happening today was the typical, non-exciting housework and laundry done by yours truly.  Such thankless but necessary tasks.  Although I never mind doing laundry.  I can't wait until my laundry room is done.  Ah, the ideas I have for that small space!  They are simple ideas and nothing fancy but I think it will make a necessary (but enjoyable) task even more enjoyable for me.  Now to just figure out how to make housework more enjoyable, haha!

We are closing out this Labor Day with my own version of a Tropi-Chop meal I used to get at TropiGrill in Orlando.   Are any of those restaurants still around?  Anyhoo, it's a bowl of rice, layered with black beans, grilled chicken, chopped onions, chopped green olives and topped with the salsa I just canned.  I also put a homegrown watermelon in the fridge that we'll have for dessert.  YUM!

I hope y'all have had an enjoyable and safe Labor Day weekend.

Friday, August 28, 2015

All In A Days' Work

It's been another busy day here at the farm.

There always seems to be something going on in the farmhouse kitchen these days.

The little Country Charm range is cooking, reducing, boiling, roasting and canning just about every other day.

Tomatoes and okra seem to be never-ending.

I've been pickling the okra.

Tomatoes can be found on the kitchen counter, kitchen window sill, in baskets on the kitchen counter... they're everywhere!

The previous batch of tomatoes were roasted with garlic, basil, salt and pepper then pureed in the food processor.  The farmhouse smelled SO good!  Today I strained it, reduced it a bit then canned it.

Today's batch were simply roasted with some salt and pepper and pureed.  I will can this batch another day.

Here's today's canning results...

 Seven pints of roasted tomato, garlic & basil sauce and nine pints of pickled okra.

While I was working in the kitchen CountryBoy gathered some hay from the lower pasture.

Ah, the ever present helpers!

Three truck loads later we have a stall full of hay.

Before gathering the hay he dug up some potatoes...

These are from just a small area that he dug up...

We have lots more to dig up.

Which, is one of the reasons for the hay.  We're going to use some of it to help store the taters over winter.

We are getting nine, sometimes ten eggs a day from the helpers, er girls, er chickens!

Eight of them were in the nest boxes in the coop today and the other two were in the wood shed where CountryBoy made a nest for them.  We're good with that!  Let's hope they keep laying in either of those spots.

This type of work is not your typical days' work for most people but, for us, it's becoming very typical.  And, we love it!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Nip In The Air

We are still in the month of August and yet there is a nip in the air!

Several days last week were very Fall like as far as the weather goes.

It was cool and breezy reminding us to hang in there; that slower times are ahead.

I found this leaf in the garden last week as well.  The promise of things to come.

This week the highs are to be in the high 70's and the lows in the 50's.

There's just something about the approach of Fall.

I can never put my finger on it but it's there.  Invigorating.  Inviting.

Before we know it, it will be everything PUMPKIN - yay!

I even found some Fall candy in the store that somehow ended up in the cart (wink).

And my very first quilt I ever made is conveniently draped on the back of the couch and has been put to use several times already over the past week.

I love these colors! 

What's your favorite season?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Crazy Good!

I have wanted to write a blog post for several weeks now but it's been crazy busy around here and I just haven't had the time.

I know, I know it's been quiiiite a while since my last post but as a new homesteader and farm girl I've been a tad caught up in the summer's harvest.

Our freezer is chock full of corn (both on the cob and off), purple hull peas (or cowpeas, if you will), whole okra, green beans, lima beans, sliced & battered squash (for frying), squash fritter mix, homemade chicken broth, blackberries and black raspberries. 

Our tomatoes took a while to ripen but once they started they kept on.  And are STILL keeping on!

We constantly have tomatoes sitting everywhere... in baskets, in bowls, on the kitchen window sill...

We've eaten lots of tomato sandwiches and toasted bread with tomatoes, basil & mozzarella...

We've made and canned spaghetti sauce, stewed tomatoes and tomato juice.

And, no sooner than the jars are out of the canner there are more tomatoes that need to be picked.

Same goes for the okra.

Since the freezer is full we are now watching and picking okra that is the perfect size for pickling.

With all the canning we've been doing we've been using an old cupboard we took out of the old kitchen and had put in the dining room as a temporary storage solution as our pantry.  We relocated it this morning on another wall in the dining room and the dining room, as a whole, looks so much better. 

Love seeing all the jars of home grown goodness!

We still have to dig up the potatoes.  We're working on some long-term storage solutions for the potatoes since we are looking at maybe 300 pounds worth of potatoes to store.  Yikes!

Crazy good!

The elderberries down by the creek also ripened so I made some elderberry syrup.  We will take some of this daily starting next month to build up our immune system for cold & flu season.

In between picking and putting up the harvest I managed to finish the guest room quilt top.  I've got the quilt sandwich made now I'm just deciding how I want to quilt it.  Queen size quilt sandwich with black cat named Precious!

I plan on hand quilting it block by block using a vintage pattern I found online.  We'll see how it goes (wink!).

During all the harvesting and canning the farm was full of flowers which attracted loads of butterflies.

Can you find them all in the above photo?

And the other night during the evening's harvest the night sky was quite dramatic behind the ol' farmhouse...

I now understand why homesteaders look forward to winter.  It's a time to slow down, rest and recoop from all the work during Spring and Summer.

Crazy good!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

First Eggs & Some Quilt Blocks

It was exciting day here at the farm!

The past few days we've heard one of the chickens, aka 'the girls', make the egg laying squawk (which is quite different than their normal squawking and 'talking'.  It's more like an announcement that she's getting ready to lay an egg).  I would check the nest boxes but never found any eggs.  I also thought they were still a bit too young to start laying so I didn't think much about it.

This morning one of the girls was making the egg laying squawk again.  Again, I thought they were too young and just practicing.

Meanwhile, I was getting ready to hang the laundry on the line and walked over to where we keep the firewood and the riding mower to get my clothespins off the drying rack that was leaning against the shed and, lo and behold, there were two eggs laying on the ground in a makeshift nest.  Wait, what?  I couldn't believe it!

So, when she started squawking again I decided to put her in the nest box in hopes that she would relate the feeling of needing to lay an egg with getting in the nest box rather than laying them outside.

She wanted no part of it.  Although, she did check it out and hunker down for a bit but then she wanted out.  I let her go but then she started the egg laying squawk again and was meandering around the yard.

So, I put her in the nest box again and closed the coop door.  She jumped down and wanted out of the coop.  I left her in there for a few minutes but let her back out when she did not get back in the nest box.  I didn't want her feeling imprisoned just because she needed to lay an egg.

She immediately went over to the makeshift nest and hunkered down.

A few minutes later she left her nest leaving me a delicious egg!

How exciting!

And I just bought eggs while we were in town yesterday, haha!  Oh well, I will boil those up and save these for breakfast.

We are going to try and leave them in the chicken run for a few days in hopes that they will get the gist of laying their eggs in the nest boxes.  Then we will let them back out to free range again.

This is our first experience with being able to let the chickens free range and we were wondering where they would end up laying their eggs.  Now we know (wink!). 

As many of you on Facebook know, I've been working on my sewing room.  It's a work in progress but, at least I'm able to sew in there in the meantime.

Here's what I've been working on...

This is one block for the guest room quilt.

Here are a few more blocks laid out on our bed in no particular order.  I did alternate the light and dark blocks in all rows except the top row so you can get an idea of how it will look in the end. 

I have four more dark blocks to make then it will be time to decide what to do with the border.  I'm not sure I want to do the border in the pattern.  I think it might be too busy and am leaning towards a simpler, more neutral border so as not to compete with the blocks.  I'll lay out some test strips then decide.

It's been fun being able to sew again after five months of working hard on the house and farm and having a cute room to do it in (wink!).


Monday, July 20, 2015

Garden Update and Driveway Washout

We have had quite a bit of rain these last months which has been awesome for the gardens. In fact, they are flourishing!

The cowpeas are turning dark...

The corn cobs are growing...

We've got squash coming out the wazoo (wink)...

The cantaloupes are getting bigger...

The watermelons are starting to peek through all the vines...

And the tomatoes are getting bigger and bigger...

Not shown are tiny cucumbers about an inch long, tiny lima beans forming in their pods, and green beans and okra ready for the picking. 

We've canned squash; readied and frozen squash slices for frying; and will be making squash relish as soon as I get a couple of ingredients for it.

We've also harvested potatoes, green beans, some onions and garlic, and okra.

Tonight we will go out to the garden, harvest what is ready and make dinner with whatever we find.  Should be fun!  And, yummy!

We've also made jelly.  The last batch was a Sour Cherry Wildflower Jelly made with leftover sour cherry juice from our cherries and fresh-picked wildflowers from the field.

We had some for breakfast this morning on homemade biscuits.  Mmmmm!

While the rains have nourished the gardens a terrible storm the other night destroyed our driveway from the bridge up to the house.

We need to have a drain pipe put in that goes in front of the barn and runs from one ditch to another to deter water from running down the driveway...

Debris washed up and over the bridge...

The runoff washed all the rocks from the drive around the barn down to here and off into the grass...

All the brush in the peninsula is laying flat including our black raspberry bushes.  There was also a pile of wood from the old bridge that is completely gone now...

What a mess...

A fellow came by this morning to help us come up with a solution for the drainage problem.  We decided a pond at the foot of the hill by the barn with a drain pipe running from the pond (for overflow during a storm) under the drive and into a ditch that goes to the creek would probably solve the problem.  And, he would build up our driveway with a crown in the center so any excess water could run off the sides of the road rather than straight down it washing away the rocks and gravel.  The problem with the solution is the cost of having all that done.  I guess that will be on the back burner for now.

It's always something here on the farm (wink!).

So, enough about our drainage issues and the ugly side of the farm.  ugh.

Here is this mornings' view of the barn and mountains...

Early morning on the farm - so pretty!