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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Short summer, early fall

I think our summer has been short, or did I just get busy and miss it? Or maybe a little of both. Even with a later than we liked start our garden did pretty well. As of now the only thing left in it is the sweet potatoes. They will be dug before the first frost. I did can a lot of green beans, the wonderful tasty Ky Wonder pole beans. We are now picking the dried ones to save for seed next season. Now God willing we will be able to always have pure seed to plant from year to year. Our tomatoes did marginally well. We did stake the largest portion of them BUT we didn't pull the suckers off thus the tomatoes were not large in size like they should be. Lesson learned for next year. Sweet corn did really well. I didn't get much of it as the damn crows wrecked havoc in there. We put deer netting over the top after it had tasseled and the crows flew under the net and ate the corn anyway. Evil things I tell ya. We had enough cukes to make enough pickles to last us. Okra went gang busters, got enough in the freezers to last any family for a few year. And I only use it in soup and gumbo. Although I did freeze some after I coated it with a cornmeal/flour, salt, pepper mixture for a quick snack to fry up. I am the only one that will eat it fried. I also froze some green tomato slices in the cornmeal mix as well. I did use a sharp knife to remove the thin green skin from the maters then rolled in the cornmeal mix, froze on cookie sheets then bagged them up for long term freezing. I love me some fried green maters when its cold as crap outside and snowy. Guess thas my hillbilly coming out.

Rodger dug a few sweet taters other evening to see how they were gonna do. Well, I think they did ok.

This bucket (5 gallon) was from about 4 plants. That is my foot and I wear a size 8. Thas a big dang tater. I truly hope there are not many that size to dig. Yeah of course they look cool, but you know how hard it would be to bake that thing and get it done or to peel it to make glazed sweet taters? There were several very large ones in what he dug but this one being the biggest. Impressive, huh? 

As it gets late in the year we always find ourselves in a time crunch to get all the things done and prepared for cold fall and winter weather. Rodger and Jason have been working their hinny off trying to get a new corn crib built before time to pick corn. We don't raise a lot of corn, just enough for cornmeal and to have enough to feed the laying flock thru the year. But it does no good to raise and pick it if the dang mice and squirrels are gonna get to it and eat more than us or the chickens get. So this new crib will be mouse and squirrel proof. Guaranteed. It is gonna be lined with rat wire so unless they have tin snips or a cutting torch, sorry about their luck. Get ya free meal else where.

I might get more work done if not for playing with Sasha. That lil girl is growing so fast. She is a big pup for just 5 months old. And she loves her family. Does NOT like strangers at all. My cousin and his wife came to visit for a bit on Monday and she was gonna go pet Sasha and I told her she could let her out of the kennel. Sasha would have no part of that. She was growling and showing her teeth. Needless to say they didn't open her kennel. Even tho I felt bad that they didn't get to pet her, they agreed that is what she should have done. A stock and guard dog should not take kindly to strangers. And sure seems she don't. If I had let her out and introduced them she would have been different I am sure. But her job is to look out for me and take care of the chickens. And she needs to do more growing before she gets to be responsible for the chickens. Just yesterday as I walked by our security camera monitor I saw a critter hop out of the woods into the driveway a lil bit from the house. Upon closer look it was a coyote. Within 75 ft of the house. In the middle of the day. I notice I have not seen as many rabbits as we usually see in the yard. Seems the coyotes may be a lil short on food and keep getting closer to the house looking for a meal. We keep Sasha in her kennel unless we can be outside or at least coming in and out all day. Don't like leaving her alone outside and her being young. It has really be tough cause I can not let my chickens run out at all. We are hoping to get a new chicken house built in a different location this fall so we can have a fenced in pen for the laying hens to be able to be outside and safe from stray dogs and coyotes. Just another chore to do before winter time gets here.

I was gone west to the hunting lodge for 2 weeks, had a good stay there and back home with lots to do and get caught up on. Then of all dang things my back and left hip we out. So I was in bed for nearly 4 days till I could walk. Still not doing the best, but ever so slowly getting better. Not sure what the problem is but hoping to find out results of my xrays tomorrow. But uncle had a pear tree that had lots of pears on them. I did pick some to bring home to can and make pear preserves. Oh my, the preserves are so very good. Beautiful amber color. I think the method I use to make mine is called "pear honey" and it tastes a lot like honey.

Yummy yummy, get in my tummy. So good with butter and a hot biscuit. There really is nothing like good home cooking. You cant get stuff this tasty in a store or restaurant. And I know what is in my home canned stuff.

Not much else happening here on the farm, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Fall is slowly sneaking up on us

Fall is actually sneaking up faster than I would like. But dang I guess it is past the middle of August already and not long till cooler nights and days. I guess I really didnt pay much attention to the calendar till I noticed the spent sweet corn stalks turning yellow last week. Geez, we just planted that stuff other day. At least it sure seems that way. The damn crows finally finished off the remainder of the sweet corn that was not even ready to harvest. Those things are the most aggressive feeders I think I have ever known. If you shoot to scare them off, in just a few minutes they are back in larger numbers. And it sure dont take long for them to destroy a patch of corn. Not to mention they have eat on some of the tomatoes, peppers and pecked at some of the unripe pumpkins. Mean lil devils they are.

Our peppers are in full productions right now, with lots that are getting red and ripe. We use a lot of bell peppers during the year in cooking. I only planted a few jalapenos this year as I am the only one that eats them and sure dont need that many taking up freezer space. My big freezer is mostly full now with the carrots, corn, okra, peppers among other things I cant think of right now. The tomatoes in the garden are starting to slack off producing now and some of the plants are spent. The Money Maker variety I planted have produced tons of small tomatoes that are mostly used for juice but are small enough to be a total pain in the arse to wash and get the seeds out of to juice. I take the seed pockets out to reduce the amount of water or clear liquid that comes to the top on the jars of juice. It actually makes better tasting thicker juice. Also when I peel tomatoes to make my salsa I peel and squeeze out the seed pockets and it makes the salsa nice and thick. Yummy!!

The mustard and turnips I sowed a couple weeks ago are up. Oh my, and did I forever get them thick enough on the ground. I didnt use the seeder I just sprinkled the seeds on by hand cause it was a small space. The poor little seeds just laid there on top of the soil for well over a week till we got some nice rain showers. And they ALL came up. So soon or later I will have enough mustard and turnip greens to can. And I do love a nice sweet raw turnip in late fall after they have grown in cooler fall weather.

Tomorrow will be a grape harvesting day here. About 90% of the grapes on each cluster are ripe so its time to cut them and make jelly, juice and wine. If allowed to all ripen they will start to fall off the vine. Then its on to the peaches. I have a few left that the crows didnt get after I put aluminum pans in the branches to keep them scared off. Lots to do here as fall fast approaches.

I got a comment and question from an older blog post on gumbo. The sweet reader ask if it was possible to half the recipe to can. I would think certainly you could half or double or what ever suits the needs of your family or canner size. If I make the mess to make a batch of gumbo I just go whole hog and make a lot. Takes no longer to clean up from a huge batch as it does a small one. Good luck and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Another day, a few more jars..........

It has been a busy day because for some reason I felt like I was behind canning. Our tomatoes are getting ripe but not a large amount at one time. So I make juice a few quarts at a time. I have a good amount of larger tomatoes that I am letting get a little riper to use for salsa. My Rob likes the homemade salsa so I guess I have to make some for him when I have extra tomatoes. The smaller tomatoes get turned into juice.

 We are getting several cucumbers now and make pickles every other evening. The okra has just went wild. I am freezing about a gallon of sliced okra every other evening as well. I use a lot of okra when I make and can gumbo and it never fails if I use store bought okra no matter the brand it always has a lot of tough fibrous pieces in it. That makes for a nasty texture when you take a big bite. Yuck, so I know if I grow it and cut it and freeze it that it wont be tough. Problem solved. Just another one of those things you can always do better yourself than depend on the store for.
After getting all the carrots pulled out of our small bed in the back yard Rodger got it all tilled up this evening and I got my mustard and turnip seeds sown. I am hoping I can get a good amount of greens to can this year. My canned greens are getting pretty low. I am the only one here that eats them but dang it when I want em, I want em. And that is another thing I dont like to buy. The store bought ones are usually chopped and have a lot of large stems chopped up in the mix and I take the stems mostly out of mine when  I can them. And I only rough chop or tear into bite size pieces not really fine.

We got our sweet corn taken care of a week or so ago and damn, the crows for sure got more than we did. I had a second planting that would have been ready probably by the end of this week. As my luck would have it, the crows feel too threatened but nothing stops the damn squirrels. They have pretty well obliterated the patch before it was even in the blister stage. So next project is the cut down the stalks and plant cover crop on the ground. That will likely be purple hull peas. I might even get some peas off the plants before frost. They will be inside the fence so the deer and turkeys cant get at them. Heaven help a turkey if it gets in the fence and cant get out. It for sure has been a battle of the wills to save things from the critters this year. We are plotting now how to deter them next year and just our luck it will be a different pest next season. I already know I am planting less cabbage and when they are planted they will be covered completely with some kind of cheese cloth material to keep the worms off. Damn those things destroyed all my cabbage this year. No kraut for me. Always something new to keep a gardener on their toes I guess. But am thankful we are able to restock our cellar this season so really should not complain at all.

I was in the summer kitchen today which is near the hen house and heard the hens raising a fuss cackling. I went out to see what was their issue. And lo and behold I got my first eggs, all 2 of em, from my 4 month old Buff Orphington pullets today. I was very pleased. So they should be laying full swing in another couple weeks or so. Needless to say this chicken momma is a happy camper.

I guess maybe these hens will at least earn their feed. Unlike the last ones I had that were really a dead expense.

I did a practice run last week on something I had wondered about for a while. I like fried green tomatoes but really dont care for the texture of them canned then fried. So I had a few that were green with just a blush of starting to turn color. I brought them in, and with a sharp knife peeled the skin off and dredged them while they were still damp in a mix of corn meal with about half the amount of flour added, a good dash of salt and pepper. Rolled the tomatoes in that mixture and put them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and froze them.  I think I left them in the freezer for a couple days. I took em out and fried them up. Oh my, they were perfect. Just the same as if done straight from the garden. So now I gots to get me busy or in my spare time (hahaha) slice more and coat them and get them frozen. Then I can bag em up to enjoy when the snow flys this winter and I can only dream of a fresh fried green mater. So if you like fried green tomatoes this method works like a charm. When I coated them in the corn meal mixture I did press it on each slice really well so they had a good coat on the outside before freezing. I guess we can say this ole gal learned a new trick.

Every year I try to grow something I have never tried before. This year I was blessed to get some plum granny seeds from Rita, a friend I went to school with. They are loaded with lil plum grannies. I picked 3 ripe ones this afternoon and brought them in the house. You can smell them all over in here. They are an interesting "thing" to learn about. They are also called pocket melons. In victorian times when a bath was a real luxury ladies would carry the pocket melons in their reticule (purse) or in their pocket to mask body odor. I have also heard or read that if they are cut and let around inside the house they will deter spiders and other unwelcome flying annoyances. The jury is still out on that one here. But in all fairness I did just bring them in this afternoon so maybe we give em time.

Certainly pretty to look at, but to my knowledge most people dont eat them. They are more for fragrance and looks and if you choose, to cover body odor. But in my humble opinion soap and water is a much better alternative. As for the insect repelling properties, I will let ya know.

So now its the end of a long day and appears tomorrow wont be any shorter. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Wasted effort sometimes

You work your azz off and them its all for nothing. Dang it all. I started out with a beautiful row of cabbage and this evening I took another good look at them. Well I guess if I intend to make kraut I will need to find someone else who has cabbage and buy a few. The cabbage worms have literally ate all of em up. And I had sprayed them several times. Next year, I swear I am only planting like 20 cabbage plants at most and cover them with sheer curtains or cheesecloth to keep the damn moths from laying their eggs on the plants.

We initially went to the garden to put some netting material over the top of the sweet corn to keep the crows off it. We had several large lengths of deer netting and just tossed that up over the tops of the corn. We have had to do this in the past to keep them at bay. Crows can destroy a field of corn in one day. Its a constant battle around here.

You can see the shimmer of the netting on top of the corn stalks. Dang the crap ya gotta do to save ya food supply. I know they will raise hell in the field corn as we dont have enough netting to cover it to protect the ears. I guess I could just sit on the front porch with the rifle and keep the devils scared off. Once the corn is past the soft stage and gets hard they dont mess with it.

We drove thru the orchard just looking at the trees. Our almond trees are sagging they have so many nuts on them. Yes, we can grow almonds in Ky. All be it rare they produce due to the fact it takes very little spring warming to trigger them to bloom and most times they get froze or frosted on. But we were blessed this year.

So many nuts such small tree. This tree is about 5 years old and this is the first crop of nuts we have been blessed with. Just hope they do well and the worms dont invade them. I have got to do some research and get a spray program for us and our little orchard. One of the peach trees had lots of worm damage in the fruit. Dont want a repeat of that next year. I guess the next challenge will be getting these nuts harvested before the squirrels figure out what they are. Dont know if Ky squirrels know what almonds are, but if they do, we are sunk.

In the garden the beans have filled in the trellis' nicely. And they are starting to bloom a little bit. We have harvested some okra pods already and getting enough tomatoes to eat with meals. And a few cukes as well. Not long till we will be able to make pickles. Sadly we did not get our trellis put up for the cukes and they are running on the ground and growing into the sweet potato vines. Gonna make picking them kinda challenging at best.

Yes that is a pile of manure covered over outside the fence waiting to be put on the garden when the corn is done in a couple weeks. Where the corn is growing is where it needs some extra organic matter. Not to mention there will be more manure later. I am really glad Rodger got to weed eat around the fence before I took these photos. It is a full time task to keep all the mowing done here. You really cant do much as far as physical work after about 10 am here. Our temps today hit 97 with about 60% humidity. You really need gills to be outside much at mid-day.

Sunflowers are such happy flowers. Seem to always be smiling. We planted a bunch this year. About a half acre total. They are the black seed sunflower. Our plan is to harvest and use them for chicken feed. In the mean time they are just so pretty to look at.

I think it is so neat the way sunflowers turn their head also. They face the sunrise each day. Much like we should do. By the way, do ya reckon there is an easier way to harvest sunflower heads other than a blade to lop off the heads and toss em in a bag? I think Rodger and Jason have decided to try using our corn picker to see if it will snap the heads off without losing all the seeds. I guess we wait and see. I am sure it will be an interesting process.

We did get our carrots dug and taken care of this week also. And man were they big uns. I think I have found a new best place to raise my carrots every year. From now on they will be out back in the bed here in the back yard. It also grew nice beets this year. And the leeks are not doing too shabby either. How ya like these things?

A little over a half bushel from a small bed. Not a bad harvest. I cut most of them in chunks and vacuum sealed them for the freezer. That should last us for a year at least. About the only thing I use carrots for is pot roast or stew and that is with deer meat. I did shred and freeze some to use in stir fry and chicken noodle soup. It certainly takes a while to scrub and chunk up that many carrots. I am very glad Rodger came out to help cut them up while I did the scrubbing. I guess that is why my hands were swollen, stiff and very sore this morning.

Does this have rotten written all over it? This lil girl is growing like a bad weed. She is old enough now that I can let her be out of her pen while we are here. She likes to hide under the back deck when it gets hot out because it is always cool under there. It was one of Luna's favorite places to stay cool too. I hope Sasha is as good a girl as Luna was.

Not much else happening here on the homestead. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, July 18, 2016

If you plant, they will come

Bugs that is. They will come in droves to eat what ever you plant for you to eat. This week this fact is especially true of Japanese beetles. Oh my, they are having a field day eating my thornless blackberries and grape vines. So I had to get out the heavy artillery last evening and give them the old one, two punch. I sprayed with Liquid Sevin pesticide. I dont relish the idea of spraying anything but dang, we gotta eat too. I do always spray late evenings when bees are not active. So I solved the problem of Japanese beetles, hopefully for the remainder of the season.

I made myself a list of small task that I needed to get done yesterday and did manage to accomplish all of them. Amazing!! eh? But geez, little task can take all day when you let so many build up before you tackle one of em. I had lavendar that I had started from seed that needed to be put in the ground in the herb bed to live permanently. Got that done. Got the dill cut and in the freezer so it keeps fresh to make dill pickles later when the cukes come on. I have a shrub near the front porch sidewalk that was covering half the steps and sidewalk. Got it pruned back so you can walk by without getting your legs wet when it rains or in the early morning dew is hanging on.  I want to plant some fall cabbage also and finally got the soil in the peat pots and seeds in so now its cross my fingers and hope they come up and grow fast. Its hard to find fall cabbage and broccoli plants in our area. Most people just plant a garden in spring and once its gone they are done. I just happen to know the sweetest cabbage is grown in the cooler fall weather. After having Sasha to the vet for a minor skin infection she had to have a bath in medicated shampoo, so I got that done last evening as well. Jason had just mowed the yard and you know how fresh cut grass can cling and stain anything it comes in contact with. Well I didnt dry Sasha and just bathed her, rubbed her down and let her got. She too off running and would hit her belly and slide thru the grass clippings. Oh did she look awful when I put her back in her pen right before dark. Just glad she looks better today after she got dry and the loose grass fell off her coat.

Rodger got the field mowed yesterday around the garden and in the orchard, around the corn, pea and sunflower field. It looks so much better. Good thing the mowing got finished yesterday cause we got a pretty good little rain this afternoon. It didnt rain long but got things nice and wet. IF I can get my butt in gear in the morning and get the mulch put around the lavendar plants before the ground dries it will do them a lot of good. They do like water.

I didnt have too big a day planned today. Just catching up laundry, house cleaning, general every day stuff. Cook, clean, do laundry, dry, fold, repeat. Seems I have to drag out the vacuum every day now to clean up bird seed hulls out of the floor. I got 2 lil parakeets. My friend Jackie that I have known for many years has breeding pairs and had raised a few. I have had a few parakeets in my life so I do enjoy them. Jackie gave me a young one that she hatched (well her female bird hatched it) and another female that the others were being mean to. They hull their seeds out when they eat them and they when they flap their wings inside the cage all the hulls fly out in the floor. (self cleaning birds) So clean em up, repeat later in the day. But they are relaxing to watch. Me and my various birds.

A friend ask me the other day if I had any new pictures of the grandbabies. Well of course I do. So here you go Sissy. Enjoy the babies. Sissy dont get on facebook so she dont get to see the pics Amoy or Rob post of the kids. And yes I am a very proud grammy.

Love these 2 lil boys so very much. And their parents. Cant wait to see them this fall and steal hugs and kisses.

Not much else happening here on the homestead. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Some days just dont happen

Seems I have a lot of those days that I get nothing done. Not sure what I did to my back, again, but walking is a major problem right now. I didnt rest well last night, just could not get comfortable for my lower back and left hip and leg hurting so bad. I guess I have made the sciatic nerve mad at me again. It is really pissed this time too. Ugh!! And I got a list as long as your arm of things I need to get done in the next couple days.

We had to take Sasha back to the vet today to get her 3month booster shots and rabies vaccine. She is growing like a bad weed. She weighs 20 lb 2  ozs now, gained another 7 lbs since 3 weeks ago. And the vet said she has not hit her growth spurt yet. Oh my, she is gonna weigh more than me by time she is a year old at this rate. She is being treated also now for a minor skin infection, he said it was not mange, which is what I thought it might be. So we have to give her a bath in medicated shampoo and she has to take meds for a week and he said this should fix her right up. He also told us this is pretty normal for puppies her age. So as long as she is not miserable I will be a happy camper. She is a hyper little thing now too. It is getting harder to trick her into going in her pen for the evening. I wont let her run out yet but that is for her safety.

We went to the garden last evening to pick a few tomatoes, squash and so I could tie up the blackberry plants, again. My thornless blackberries are growing like crazy and putting up new shoots like nobodies business. I am trying really hard to keep them upright and trained to climb on the garden fence so they dont fall over and get whacked off by the weed eater. From all indication I should have an abundance of blackberries next season.

The garden is looking nice and we are starting to get a few things from it now. We have had enough tomatoes to eat with meals, I got several yellow squash and plan is to roast those tomorrow with some bell peppers and onions from the garden.

We drove thru the vineyard and seems to still be plenty of grapes on the vines. As of yet nothing is eating them. Crossing my fingers that they stay there long enough to ripen so we can make juice and wine. We drove thru the orchard just looking at the fruit trees and to see if just by some small chance some peaches might be right. And the peaches were ripe on one of the trees. It is not hard to tell I still left too many peaches on the tree when I fruit pruned them earlier this summer. They taste great but are not the largest things in the world. This is what happens when you go to the garden without taking a bucket.

 You end up with your shirt tail full of some kind of fruit or produce. But I will stretch a work shirt out of shape to enjoy a fresh off the tree peach. Tomorrow will get those peeled and frozen for later. Not really enough to worry about canning them. Think these might be nice in some homemade ice cream.

This is the first season we have actually had dill ready to use before the cukes are ready. So I need to cut and freeze the dill so we will have it available when we get started making dill pickles in a few weeks. Its all these lil jobs that can wear you out in short order around here.

So its off to bed with me and hope I can walk some tomorrow and get a few things knocked off my to-do list. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, July 4, 2016

Rain makes corn, Corn makes whiskey...........

Well you know the song. Or not. We did get a nice rain here today. A much needed rain at that. Our garden was getting a little on the dry side. But it was still growing and looking good. Sweet corn is starting to tassel. I have lots of little green tomatoes. Potatoes we planted just a week or so ago are coming up. Hoping for a late crop to store in the cellar this fall. They should make taters before we get frost. I have lots of little green peppers on my bell pepper plants. Yep that makes me a happy camper.

We seemed to have some issues getting seeds to come up this year. That explains the missing spots in the rows. In the transplanted plants we have some missing due to deer getting them before we got the fence put up. They cant get it now. These photos were taken right after Rodger finished tilling Friday evening. Now with the nice rain we had today I can imagine it has all grown several inches. Or at least it seems too with every plowing and little shower of rain.

I went to the orchard while we were at the garden to see if the light spraying got rid of the Japanese beetles that were eating on the trees. It did kill them. AND we were checking the Hazelnut bushes and found these on them. They have a few nuts on them this year. I dont know squat about these bushes or their habits but sure didnt see them bloom like any other normal tree. But was excited to see a few nuts.
Today has been one lazy day around here. I think to the point where Rodger was getting really bored. I suggested several things for him to do while it rained but he declined all of my ideas. Ya know, clean out closets, sort socks and toss ones with holes. None of that sounded fun to him. So it didnt get done. No matter, I didnt do anything either.

So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.