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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Can I hibernate now?

If only I could I surely would hibernate about now. I think winter may have started a little early this year. We had snow on November 1st. It didn't stick at our house but Jason said it covered the car tops out on the ridge. We are blessed to be down in a valley along the river and we get ugly stuff like that later than most every one else. This morning we had planned to get the Cornish cross chickens butchered off and when I got up we had had our first good frost of the season too. It was a tad nippy outside. Rodger already had the water kettle filled and a fire going when I went out with my cup of coffee. We did get the chickens butchered and I got the stock made. I thought I would just wait till tomorrow to can it up so as to hopefully not cause another arthritis flare up. I can hope, right? Most the the birds were so big it took 2 people to zip the bags closed on em. They will make a nice hearty roast chicken and then a wonderful kettle of soup or dumplings the next day. I de-boned the thighs to use in gumbo when I get time to make and can that. Gumbo is a long day process. Takes a good bit of time to brown all the ingredients and to make the roux. Then 90 minutes in the pressure canner. I will get it done soon.

Not long till modern gun hunting for deer around here. Today when we were butchering chickens out back we had 3 nice deer run up in the back yard. Luna barked at them and they took off. She don't chase them once they are out of the yard tho, which is good. She just does not like any kind of critter in the yard. This is her territory and she protects it.

I think all the garden spots have been put to bed for the season now. The trellises are taken down and stacked that we use for beans, the fence to trellis cukes is down and stashed away. The tillers are put away for the season. My herb bed looks like shit and will likely stay that way till spring. Goodness, fall slid past and winter is upon us and dang it, I was not done. It is true, time waits for no one. But we had a pretty good garden this year, got some stuff canned to help out, should have plenty of corn for cornmeal later and some for chicken feed as well. The chickens do like their corn when the temps drop. I will have a few more to butcher off about mid-December when they are big enough. The last hatch is still too small and it would be a waste of life to butcher them right now. And life goes on.....

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


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bad idea, bad idea.......

I learned too late it is a bad idea to buy 2 bushels of apples knowing how long it takes to work them up. Good grief, what was I thinking? obviously I wasn't.  I just wanted to put some apples up for pies and frying and such. I wanted to can pie filling so as to not fill the freezer full of apples. Well the apples I got SHOULD have been excellent for either of those things. But, nope they were not. Not sure if it was just a bad season where the apples were raised or what but they don't hold up to frying or cooking of any kind. Barely will stay intact just washing them. What to do, what to do. I peeled a bunch, chopped and froze them for caramel apple cake and fritters. And dried the rest. Now I have 3 gallon of dried apples. Damn it!!, I reckon I am gonna have to make fried pies. The apples will be fine but I much rather had them in jars than in the freezer. Any who... I found this recipe online a while back and recently saw it posted on facebook just a few days ago for "apple fritters". So if you are inclined this is an excellent  use for chopped fresh apples. These lil things are so dang good.

Apple Fritter Bites

1 1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teas baking powder
1 teas cinnamon
1/4 teas salt
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon butter melted
1/2 teas vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped apple (chopped pea size)

1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk

Stir together dry ingredients then add in wet ingredients except apple and  beat till almost smooth, don't over beat. Stir in apples gently.

Heat oil of choice for frying (I use coconut oil) to around 365 degrees. not smoking. I only use about a half to one inch of oil in skillet for this. Drop batter by teaspoons full in hot oil. After they bubble for a bit and brown on one side flip over and brown other side. You may have to adjust cooking time to size of spoon full of batter. Drain well on paper towels.
Mix powdered sugar and milk with just a few drops of vanilla and drizzle over fritter bites. Serve warm or they are just as yummy cold.
I usually don't flatten mine much, just enough to keep them from flipping back over once I turn them in the oil.

Last week before Rodger and Jason left on their weekend hunting trip I had Rodger pick all the peppers off for me before we get a surprise frost and ruin them. Another mistake. Oh my, how many dang peppers does one person need? A lot I reckon. He picked nearly a bushel of bell peppers and at least that many jalapenos. I did slice all the bells and freeze those for later use. Then I had to find another use for green jalapenos. I knew I was gonna make chipotle pepper with the red ones. I had read about and heard of Cowboy candy. So I gave it a try. Well I was not at all disappointed. That is some good stuff. A bit spicy, sweet, tangy with a lil heat. And pretty easy to make as well. I found the recipe online, actually found several and they are so near alike I think any will work. Now to let those age for a couple weeks and try them. If you think it is something you might want to make to use up jalapenos you might also look at the many many different ways  to use them. On burgers, spread over a wheel of Brie cheese and baked, with you lowly pinto beans like a relish, on hotdogs. Limited only by the imagination of the user I think.

Our garden is finished for the year. I did not even plant any turnips this fall. I do still have lots of work to do to get all the beds put to bed for the winter tho. Now that might take a while. My back is not cooperating with me very well right now. I think I injured it again a few weeks ago and it just is not getting better. Well it is kinda better but it wont let me do much till it starts giving me fits of pain and making my legs hurt really bad. I have been trying to give it a break and not over do things, not lift and that kind of thing but to no avail. Maybe soon I will be back up to speed.

The leaves have fallen enough now in front of the house and you can see the corn field from the front porch. So beautiful this time of year. The corn is brown and mature, just needs several heavy frost to drop all the moisture down so we can pick it.

You can see the corn beyond the trees in this photo. When I went out on the porch the chickens came running to see if I had a treat for them. I have far too many pretty birds. Trying to get some new pullets raised out of all these chicks that I hatched to save for layers. It does look promising too.

I got several young roosters that are destined for the freezer too. Maybe we can get those out of the feed bill this weekend.

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


Saturday, October 4, 2014

I found apples, finally

A friend and I were on the search for apples for freezing and canning for the past couple weeks. I knew there were several orchards within a couple hours of us here. I did a search online and got numbers, called em up. And got the socks shocked off me. Orchards are asking $40 a bushel for apples. Oh my, no way in hell I will pay that. They are cheaper in the store. Something is wrong with that picture. Needless to say we did not make the trek to the orchard. Not to mention one of the ones I called charged more if you pick them yourself. What the hell? So I happen to think of the road side stand here in our town and decided to check and see if they had apples. They did, Jonagolds, good for what I was needing, and $24 a bushel. Not cheap but I can handle that price. So I picked up 2 bushels, 1 for myself and one for my friend. Will likely go back next week and get another bushel or 2. I peeled and froze the first bushel today. Didn't count the bags but there are many many bags of apples in the freezer for frying. Next ones will for sure be turned into canned apple pie filling. I will be so glad when our trees are big enough to produce fruit so I wont need to get sticker shock every year and be able to have fruit for our own use.

Our weather has been just wonderful today. Not too hot, just cool enough to be perfect to work outside. After peeling all the apples and getting those put away I peeled and sliced about 20 lb of onions and put those in the freezer in gallon bags to use maybe next week to make gumbo to can. I just need to pick what will likely be the last of our bell peppers and get those sliced up to use in the gumbo too. They are predicting frost for us in our area tonight. Surely not!! The low is supposed to be around 35 with wind. What happened to fall? Better yet, where did summer go? I missed it I think. Seems like just other day we were planting gardens, now they are all done and mowed down. Only thing left is the peppers and a few beans we are waiting to dry for seed. I think Rodger has plans to do more mowing tomorrow provided its not too wet in the fields. The only big harvest left really is the corn and that will be a while yet. It needs several good heavy frost to knock the moisture out of it so it will store well. Then it will be time to shell and get cornmeal ground.

Last evening we were in the garden I dug up my tame thornless black berries that my friend Anna had sent me. We are probably gonna move some of the grapevines in the vineyard and plant a row of black berries and raspberries between the 2 rows of grapevines. I am not sure what I had planned to do with that many grapevines to begin with but they are there and growing well. Once they start producing I am sure I will start to hate grapes. Or start making lots of wine. We may have gotten ourselves in over our heads with all these fruit trees and berries. That is a lot of work to properly care for an orchard and vineyard. Not to mention tryin to keep it all mowed and pruned. But we gonna give it a try.

My Cornish chicks are growing great and healthy as can be. It still amazes me at how fast those lil things can grow. They will be ready for butcher in about another 4 weeks. They surely eat a lot of feed for such small creatures. But they are healthy and happy and nice and warm under their heat light. I am sure they will enjoy that tonight if it gets down to 35 degrees.

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


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

An early fall

I am convinced we are having an early fall. Or at least seems earlier than usual. Or maybe its just me that has missed summer. I have seen a few trees changing into their beautiful fall colors and some leaves falling too. The garden is done with exception of bell and jalapeno peppers. The field corn is brown but still a ways away from time to pick it. Time to get busy planting fall plants. We plan to get a few grapevines transplanted this weekend as well as get the raspberries and thornless black berries moved to their permanent locations. I have more young roosters that need to be butchered off and out of the feed bucket. I can tell you that 33 chickens of varied sizes can eat a lot of feed. Need to get that chore done before it gets too cool. Our weather is supposed to be high in the 60's this weekend. Perfect weather to work outside. Now if it don't rain maybe we can get that butchering done. My little Cornish chicks are growing like bad weeds. They don't get butchered till late October tho. But they sure are growing fast. I am just glad it is not terribly hot for them. I can keep them warm, its just hard to keep them cool.

This past week I have been making chipotle peppers. It really don't take long to smoke/dry ripe jalapenos. Maybe 4 hours. The biggest thing for me is to remember to keep adding wood chips to the smoker. I do tend to get distracted and forget. After they are dried they are brittle and I run them in the food processor to make chipotle powder. It has a nice smokey pepper smell so the taste will for sure be incredible. Maybe I can get in the garden and pick some more of the ripe peppers tomorrow to smoke. I think I have enough green ones in the freezer for poppers now. Probably far more than I will use as I am the only one who will eat them. Unless Rob is home and he and Amoy will eat jalapenos.

I am hoping tomorrow I can get up with my friend Marcia and see if she wants to go get apples at the you-pick orchard about an hour from us. I am totally out of apples in the freezer and only have about 2 jars of homemade apple pie filling canned right now. I need to check on my big pear tree and see if the pears are ready to pick also. I may can some of those as well. I like to mix canned pears and peaches for a snack or even a late breakfast when I get up late.

I did finally get a start on weeding my herb bed, again. That seems to be a never ending process. It could be done on a weekly basis if I had that much energy to expend. Still in the harvesting mode tho. Have lots more to get cut and dried. Then the whole thing can be mowed down. I have far too many types of mint that is about to take over in there. And I knew better than planting it there. What the hell!! But it serves the bees well when it is in bloom in summer tho. So its not a total loss. I really want to dig some horseradish roots too. I love the flavor of that stuff. And boy will it clean out your sinuses when you cut it up. Still got more grape juice to make into jelly too. Probably should have already had that done but I have been taking a break this week. My poor body needs it. If anyone has Fibro they can relate to the fact your body does not handle stress well at all. And the past month and a half have been very stressful with losing my mom, one of my favorite uncles and this past week and long time family friend past on. But I will survive even tho this fibro flare will set a new normal for me, again. Each time you have a flare up you never fully recover to being as good as you were before the flare so it sets a "new normal" for you. A fibro sufferer has to do their best to not let themselves get sent into a major flare up. But it does happen. But tomorrow will be better.

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


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Back in the saddle again

I am finally home and back at it again. I did get a few days to rest after being away for a couple weeks. Then it was back to the homestead stuff. We had planned to get our older laying flock butchered off over the labor day weekend. Of course it rained and put an end to any thoughts of that. So this morning Rodger got the water kettle fired up and heated the scalding water and we did the deed. Butchered 13 of my older laying hens off. I did the usual of making stock with the bony pieces and canned the legs, thighs and breast halves. I got 19 quarts of canned chicken and 9 quarts of stock canned. That should last us a while for soup, stews, casseroles and of course chicken and dumplings.  I have 2 young pullets and the rooster left. The pullets are laying now so we can have at least 2 eggs per day to maybe hold us over till the younger ones come into production. I actually have 2 younger bunches of chickens and intend to keep the pullets out of both bunches. I should end up with about a dozen laying hens. Which means I will have about 20 standard breed roosters to butcher later as well. I did get my order of Cornish cross babies on Thursday as well. They are all doing great. I moved the rooster and his 2 girls in with the flock of younger birds and gave the Cornish the big chicken house so they will have lots of room to grow.  And grow they do. They will be ready to butcher about October 25th. At the young tasty age of 6 weeks.

After Rodger, Jason, Tasha (our friends daughter) and I finished with the chicken butchering Jason and Tasha went to move a lawn mower to her house and back to Jason's house to mow and weed eat his yard. Rodger went to the garden and dug our taters. Oh my, what a pitiful crop. For all the weeding and work it sure was not worth the effort. So what few we do have I will likely can those. I just hope to hell our sweet potatoes do better. I guess all things considered it was not bad. We had ate from the row of taters for a good while and we only planted 1 row in the garden. Not really many plants to begin with but dang I wanted more than a couple bushel of taters. We certainly hope to have several bushels of sweet taters tho. IF the deer will stop eating the vines off them. I think they have pretty much decimated the purple hull peas and now have a taste for sweet potato plants. But those will be dug soon as well. Rodger also brought a 5 gallon bucket of red bell peppers in for me to freeze as well. We use a lot of sweet bell peppers during the year. And my goodness, are those things expensive to buy in the store. I guess if I had to buy em, we just be doing without em. Next on the garden list is to get the jalapeno peppers picked and frozen. I think I will attempt to make smoked jalapeno peppers. Smoked ripe red jalapenos are called chipotle peppers. A rather easy process as I have read. A matter of picking the ripe red jalapenos, washing them well, They can be split in half if you rather not have the intense heat of the seeds. Then put in the smoker with some good wood chips such as hickory or any desired fruit wood and smoked till dry. My intention is to smoke for several hours then finish off in the dehydrator so they are completely dry. Then they can be stored for later use. Thas my plan thus far. Will post more on how they turn out, or not. Seems to me they should dry well in the smoker as they are thin walled peppers to begin with. We shall see.

I think tomorrow might be a jelly making day here. While I was out of town Rodger had picked and froze a good bit of hog plums for jelly. So maybe I can make the juice and jelly tomorrow. Those are one of those things its either feast or famine, some years you have none and you are best served to make a good supply of jelly in the years when the plums are plentiful. I am also gonna try to find the time to get to the garden again and pick the last of the tomatoes, ripe or green. I do want some green ones in the freezer for fried green tomatoes. Those sure can pick up your spirits in the middle of winter when you have fried green tomatoes and think of summer and the garden fresh tomatoes. I still have lots of herbs to dry also and most of a 50 lb bag of onions that need dehydrated. Lots of things to do to keep me busy till the snow flys I think.

As of right now, not much else happening on the farm. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Canning marathon

It has been a busy past few weeks here on the homestead. With the lose of my mom, then 11 days later my uncle passed away unexpectedly. The garden has really done well this year. Although with all the chaos we did lose a good bit of our sweet corn. When dealing with a lose its really hard to pick and put up garden stuff too. I think we probably lost about 1/3 total as it got too hard before we could get to it. The green beans also went a little too long. Lots of them as of last picking had turned yellow, ripe and had to be shelled out to can with the rest. This tells the plant "mission accomplished" as in it has produced seed and is done living so they stop flowering and start to turn yellow and lose leaves. End of the bean patch for the most part. Same thing is happening with our tomatoes. Not being able to pick them as they ripen creates big loses with them rotting on the vine. But not much can be done about all that. Am very thankful for what we do have and have canned. We are still picking tomatoes but its sad to see all those rotted ones in the patch. Last week we canned 21 quarts of green beans, 22 quarts of bean soup, and 21 quarts of veggie soup with venison in it. So we make progress. Rodger and I went to the garden last evening and picked tomatoes and bell peppers. I am guessing about a bushel of tomatoes and close to that many big bell peppers. All still need to be worked up. Not sure what the hell I did to my back but when I rolled, and I do mean "rolled" out of bed this morning I could not stand up straight. Bending over is just out of the question. I went out to let the chickens out for the day and did as Rodger told me and took my cell phone with me. All was good till on the way back in the house I dropped the phone in the grass. Not able to bend over to pick it up, I had to kick it over near the out building so I could have something to hold onto and bend down and pick up my phone. So back in the house I took muscle relaxers, Advil and anti-inflammatory meds and went back to my bed. I was a tad bit better this afternoon when I got up but a totally wasted unproductive day in my book. So I still have tomatoes, bell peppers and hog plums to get taken care of tomorrow. They cant wait any longer. Of course Rodger will be here to help tomorrow so I think we can get it done.

It is time to get my order in for Cornish cross chickens so we have some meat in the freezer to last till the spring batch. But before I have a place to put them I will need to get my older laying hens in the jars. We plan to butcher at least 12 of them this weekend while the men folk are off work for the Labor day weekend. And labor we will. I still have 31 young birds to get raised up and butchered off as well. Something tells me I will be in the winter butchering chickens, again.

I must say thank you to all my kind sweet readers who sent prayers and their condolence on moms passing. So nice to know that total strangers, or friends I have not met in person is a better term are so thoughtful. From all of us here, A heart felt thank you.

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


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Garden in full production, Moms passing

Our garden is in full production right now. Although I did lose the last of my sweet corn. It was just not important last week. We had other sad things to endure. My mom passed away suddenly August 8th. She had been doing really well after her stroke in April and up till about 2 hours before she passed. I find comfort in the fact that she did not suffer at all. My suspicion is she had another stroke or threw a clot. We buried her beside daddy on Tuesday. The week prior we were planning on Amoy and Liam visiting for a week and were scheduled to pick them up on Saturday at the airport. Rob was not gonna be able to come home with them due to trying to save his vacation time for when our lil Zachary gets here. But as it happened mom passed on Friday night and when we let them know Rob got a flight out of Phoenix for Sunday morning an got home Sunday evening. I was sure happy to get to spend some time with the kids and especially that sweet lil Liam. He just melts our heart.

He just had a hard time getting thru the flowers to get to his momma. He would eventually make a good lil country boy. There is truly nothing greater than grand kids. He did get to walk barefoot in the grass, step in his share of chicken poop, play in a creek, and pick and eat maters right off the vine.

Liam and daddy picking and eating Blueberry tomatoes that I planted in the herb bed. My good friend Deb sent me the seed for the tomatoes. That is the odd thing I grew this year. They are blue to purple in color and get red if they are in the sun. Liam liked em.  Love that precious lil boy. And his momma and daddy too of course.

Our tomatoes in the garden have done great this year. Rob and Rodger picked about 2 1/2 bushels on Sunday and I finally got them worked up on Tuesday. It will be hot for several days then rain for several days and this is hell on tomatoes. It will make them split and crack. Then they rot before they get totally ripe. But we are still having a lot  I made about 15 pints of salsa, and about 8 quarts of mater juice. When I wash and prep the tomatoes to run thru the Squeezo strainer to make juice I squeeze the seed pockets out of them. When they are run thru the strainer the juice comes out almost as thick as tomato sauce. Next project is to make spaghetti sauce to can. Probably this weekend. We had planned on picking green beans and tomatoes this evening but it poured rain till nearly dark. So maybe Rodger can do that tomorrow evening for me. Jason should be able to help him.

 I have to be out of town for visitation Thursday evening and the funeral on Friday for my Uncle Charlie. He was mom's sister Carla(deceased) widower. He had surgery on Monday to remove a tumor in his lung and passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday morning. My cousins are just devastated as to be expected. Two of those cousins were here last week as pall bearers for my mom's funeral. Love them dearly and loved uncle Charlie to pieces. It has sure been a rough couple weeks here on the homestead. Life can change in the blink of an eye. So tell your loved ones you love them today, tomorrow may never come.

In the past month since my last post, I did manage to get all my carrots processed. Some sliced and frozen, chunked and frozen, others shredded and dried. So they are all done. Now if it will just stop raining long enough to get the potatoes dug before they start to sprout with all this rain. I will most likely can most of them this year. We can keep them in the cellar but they do tend to sprout and thus ya lose a lot to sprouting. So if they are in a jar they are good till you decide to use them. So far I have only had time to make one canning of veggie soup and can it. Need to do lots more. Its also time to get the venison we have left out of the freezer and used up before the hunting season starting in October. We don't have much left but its still good and will use it in veggie soup and chili. What ever roast are left I will just can for barbecue or venison and gravy. Nothing goes to waste around here. When I took Rob, Amoy and Liam to the airport Monday I made a run to Sam's club and picked up another 50 lbs of onions to dry and use in soup as I can it. I got more pinto beans too for canning bean soup. We eat lots of soups in winter especially. Just glad Josh was in town that day to go with me to Sam's and help load the car. He is such a good friend to Jason and all of us. It was nice to get to spend some time with him even though it was during moms funeral. Dana and Dalton were taking care of his parents while he was here with us. Just wonderful folks, all of them, that we love like family.

I had planned several weeks ago to get my herbs cut and dried and still don't have it done. They have grown like crazy with all the rain. Maybe next week. God willing it will happen. If not, oh well. We will make do with what we have on hand. We have been more than blessed with our garden this year so I wont complain.

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