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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Time keeps marching on.......

And it seems the older we get the faster it marches. This spring and summer zipped by in the blink of an eye and here it is the end of October already. Geez, but life is good.

In spring we started with the most beautiful garden we have had in many years. Rodger worked hard to keep it plowed and the weeds chopped out. Gosh we had nice healthy plants, weed free, nice color and all was great, till the rain started. Then it was all down hill from there. We probably had 150 tomato plants and didn't harvest a 2 gallon bucket full total. Jason had planted some orange "dads sunset" tomatoes at his house to save the seeds, 6 plants total and we harvested nearly 2 bushels off just those plants. Too much rain got disease started in the garden and blight got the whole thing. I only canned about 4 cannings of green beans, dug about 4 bushels of Yukon gold potatoes, and barely 1 1/2 bushels of sweet potatoes. Carrots were nothing to write home about, peppers were sure not much. But I reckon we will still eat regular. Thank God we canned and froze lots last year and should be OK till the next season produces. Then we start all over again with high hopes.

In June Jason and I went to Arizona to see Rob, Amoy and the babies. As usual we drove. Sure enjoyed spending time with them. Nothing like those grand babies. and gosh are they ever growing.

That little Zachary is 10 months old and trying to start to walk now.  Liam loved his uncle Jason. Jason sure enjoyed spending time with those babies too. Almost as much as I did. We had a good trip and made it home and hit the ground running to get caught up with all the outdoor summer stuff here on the farm.

Rodger and I drove to Arizona again in early October to see the kids and to get away for a break. We also had a good trip. Of course Rodger got to enjoy the grand babies too. He had not seen Zach since he was 4 days old. We had a family outing to the zoo while we were there. Liam sure enjoyed it and all the animals and birds. Actually that was my first ever trip to a zoo. It was a nice day to go, not too hot. Its always better to see those things with little ones as you can see things thru their eyes and see them experience sights they will remember for a long time.  (I would post pictures but I think they are all still on my phone) Dang I am slacking.
We did get to help Rob and Amoy with some home improvement projects too while we visited. Rodger and Rob got a garden bed built so they can raise a few veggies and some herbs to have fresh stuff from their own garden. I helped Amoy make a padded head board for their master bedroom. It turned out really nice. We left to head home and planned to drive around 10 to 12 hours a day, no more than that. Long days sitting in the car is sure hard on the old body. We got to do some sight seeing and shopped a bit on the way home. At least we didn't get stranded in an ice storm like we did coming home in January. I never want to do another one of those events. Too old to sleep in the car on the road side.

We had to dig sweet potatoes the day after we got home from our trip cause they had forecast frost. They would have been no good at all if they had gotten frosted on. Just this past week I finally did get those canned. I didn't think they would have stored well as much rain as we had. So to preserve them I opted to just can all of em. Worked my azz off. It takes a long time to scrub and cut nearly 2 bushels of sweet potatoes and get them into jars. Then process for 95 minutes in the pressure canner. I did 3 cannings, total 42 quarts. Talk about a long day. Then spent the next day while it was raining inside the house, cleaning windows, and shampooed carpet. What the hell was I thinking? Too much for me in 2 days. So then had to take a couple days off to recover. Now I hope to get the ceiling painted in the living room this weekend. And the walls, if my body holds up that long. Then crash for a couple more days. It is supposed to be a bit cold this weekend with rain. Good days to just stay inside.

I am gonna make a diligent effort to keep posting here and not let many months slip by again. But I guess that is part of blogging, it comes in spurts. Or maybe I procrastinate too much. Naw, not me.

So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, April 6, 2015

Spring and gardening season again

I think we have finally arrived at spring and left winter behind. We have had our fair share of rain along with the warmer temps too. Last week Rodger did manage to get the garden worked up and sowed our carrots, beets and some parsnips. The parsnips are new for us this year. I thought we might like a little change from carrots in soups and stews. Not to mention the parsnips are suppose to keep better than carrots. He planted the beets and parsnips in the same row so the beets can mark the row for the parsnips. They do take a good bit longer to sprout and grow. I think it is also possible to leave them in the ground till after frost to make them sweeter. I guess we shall see as we learn about this old fashioned staple.

We went to a nursery a couple weeks ago and got 6 more apple trees and planted them. The deer had killed several of my young trees. It really makes me mad that with all the trees and woods around the deer go to the middle of the field and scrape on the young trees. Once the bark is damaged it will kill the tree. So now we do have some bigger ones planted now. Also got the muscadine grape vine and mulberry tree planted that my friend Deb got for me. I had kept them in the cellar since we got them home in January so as to not kill the roots on them. They are getting leaves now and look promising.

The green house is up and going well. So far my seedlings are doing good. So now we just baby those till time to transplant to the garden when they are big enough. I have got the herb bed cleaned out and more mulch put down. It is ready for some new plants when they are big enough as well. I still need to work on the fence enclosure around the herb bed. It don't have to be super tough, just a barrier to keep the chickens and cat out. I put up a temporary fence several years ago and it is still there. The stakes need replaced with something a lil more sturdy. Its lil jobs that take the most time when all added together.

Rodger and Jason made a trip out of town last weekend to get a load of mulch so I can mulch around the apple trees in the orchard. That should cut down on the risk of them getting damaged with a weed eater. That has happened before. That is how I lost one of my apricot trees after it was a couple years old. So now we have the wagon sitting with about 30 bags of mulch waiting till it is dry enough in the field so we don't get bogged down with the wagon. And it is supposed to rain all week, roughly a 60% chance of rain every day till next week. Hope we don't get as much as we had late last week. It rained so much so fast that the water was over the road in 3 different place on our lil road. No danger of houses or anything getting flooded but the river was very big and came up really quick. Typical spring tho.

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


Saturday, March 14, 2015

We made it thru....

thru the nasty weather of Ky winter. At least we hope that we are past really cold bad weather now. At least we are not covered over with over a foot of snow and below zero temps. Last few days, well most of the week, the weather has been warm-ish, around 50 degrees or so. Although it has rained more than we think we need. The river has been up now for the better part of 2 weeks. It will stop raining and dry some, the river level drops down, then rain again and back up it goes. But it will be spring in a few more days and maybe we can dry out some. several days last week I was able to at least open the doors and air out the house some. Geez, who knew fresh air could be so nice? I should have had my lil greenhouse up and some seeds started already but with the cold and rain that has not been at all possible. It is suppose to be nicer with no rain tomorrow so we might get that done. The early spring frogs have been calling for the past week or so now. Love to hear those in spring. It just reminds us warmer weather is around the corner. Lots of things planned for the spring and summer here too. We have fruit trees to plant. When we stopped in Mississippi in January to see our friends Deb and Danny, Deb had gotten me a mulberry tree and a muscadine grape vine. We will need to buy more apple trees to replace some we lost to deer in the orchard. I still need to move my raspberries and mulch the grape vines we have planted in the vineyard. This ole country gal cant wait to get her hands in the dirt. Got a few new things to try in the garden this year. We plan to plant parsnips this year and try celery again. I also ordered some new varieties of tomatoes to start. We are going to plant Marglobe this year for one of our red tomatoes. This is another old time variety that we use to raise here on the farm that did really well. Too bad I cant remember the name of the other new ones I ordered. I will be planting the blueberry tomatoes again this year in the herb bed for quick snaking out of hand. They do produce profusely for me. Then the usual sweet corn, white corn field beans, cukes, peppers of several colors, might even plant taters again. Ours sure did not do too well last year. But I do still have a few more quarts of them canned so it was not a total loss. It just gripes my azz to buy potatoes from the store. I know the store ones have been sprayed to hell and back and then you may cut one of em and it be black or worse on the inside.

We did get our cornmeal taken to the grist mill and ground today. I had not had a chance to put the corn in the freezer due to lack of freezer space to kill bug eggs in it, so I did put the ground cornmeal in the freezer at Jason's house to freeze for a couple weeks then will vacuum seal it for storage. It makes the bestest cornbread ever. I have tried to talk the fellow at the grist mill into getting a milk cow and selling fresh milk. He said he had thought about it. So I am crossing my fingers. Would so love to have homemade butter and milk. So much healthier for you than the so-called milk you get at the local grocer. Although we have found that some brands of store bought milk are labeled and certified to say they do not use hormones in their dairy practices. We buy the brands without hormones. I guess the lesser of two evils if you will.

After the loss of my sweet Luna last fall, we now have a problem with opossums and skunks here at the house. My whole yard front and back looks like a huge sponge with so many holes dug by skunks. I have had numerous opossums come on the back deck to steal cat food. We have managed to eradicate a couple of em, still we have at least 2 that still come around if we forget to bring the cats bowl in at night. I guess that is just one hazard of living so close to the woods in the country. I also heard a bunch of coyotes howling this evening somewhere close when I went out to close up the chickens for the night. Out here a good dog is almost a necessity to keep critters at bay.

Rob and Amoy are buying a house in Phoenix this summer. I am so happy for them. And Rodger said I am allowed to go help them move if they need me and watch the kids. Imagine that! Hard to believe Liam will be 2 next month and the day after he is 2 Zach will be 4 months old. They are both growing so fast. My beautiful lil boys. Love them to pieces.

Nothing like grand babies. You don't know love till you have grands.

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


Monday, January 12, 2015

Giving account for my self....

I bet you are thinking, "about dang time", right? Well I am alive and well. I think every day that I need to post an update on my blog and them get busy and say, oh I can do that tomorrow. Then I look and its been over 2 months since last post. Shame on me again.

As of last post I had some roosters that needed to be butchered off, well they are still alive and doing well. I did not get time to take care of them when we had some half way nice days in late fall. I still am feeding them and guess now I will have to wait till we get a weekend of well above freezing weather to do the deed. They are going to be stock and canned chicken so it wont matter much, just more meat the bigger the bird. Although I did have to separate them into another building alone so they didn't hassle the young hens to death. They don't fight among themselves and get lots of food and drink so its all good. My young layers are laying well now. I get more than enough eggs to keep us in supply and a few to sell. Actually have a few dozen in the fridge as we speak.
I left in early November to go to west Ky to work at the hunting lodge again this year. Dang, talk about hard on the body. Sure made the ole arthritis flare up pretty bad. But it was fun to get to work and visit with Karly and Glenna out there. I really enjoy that time of year. I came home as soon as the season was over. I got home the Monday before Thanksgiving late in the evening.  I came home with lots to do and a short time to get it done. I had a doc appointment each day for the next 2 days to get ready to leave again. I ended up having a sinus infection and bronchitis. Not a good combination if you plan to fly anywhere. I got meds and a couple shots and was a tad bit better by time I had to leave for Arizona on Thanksgiving day. Yep I am off and gone again. We were expecting our second lil grandson in mid December. He was due the 19th. But if like his big brother Liam he made an early appearance someone needed to take care of Liam while momma and daddy had lil Zach. So I was more than happy to do that as any grandmother can imagine. I arrived in Phoenix the afternoon on Thanksgiving day. We waited and waited for Zach and waited some more. The plan was for Rodger to drive out as soon as Zach was born so he was constantly waiting for the phone call. The long and short is Amoy was induced on December 28th after going 8 days over her due date and lil Zachary Donovan was born that evening. Such a precious lil fellow. Hes just a lil fellow but his big brother was scared to death of him at first. He is starting to like him now so I hear. We think he is perfect just like Liam.

Nothing in this world compares to the love for grand babies. I am so thankful I lived long enough to learn this fact.
As the story goes Rodger left our house on Christmas day to drive to Arizona to see this lil boy and bring me home. He arrived late Friday night because we knew Zach would be coming on Sunday. At this point I had been away and not seen Rodger for a month. We got to enjoy Liam and cuddle Zach for a few days and then it was time for us to head for home. The weather went to crap as we planned to leave. We left on New Years day headed east. We knew of the freezing rain that was forecast ahead of us but was guessing it would be gone as well ahead of us. Not the case. We spent a few hours sleeping in a rest area in Texas because we were not able to find a hotel room. Then decided to just drive on after a rest. It was late night and we hit more rain and snow and ice on I-20 thru Texas. So Rodger decided we would pull into an abandoned weigh station and just sleep till daylight. So nice gas was cheap and we could leave the heat running in the car as it was about 25 degrees. We woke up about 6 am with the car covered in ice and the whole parking lot full of semis. Well we may as well move on and see how the roads were as some of the big trucks were pulling out. They were still ice covered and slick. SO many big trucks wiped out and 4 by 4 vehicles wiped out along the interstate. So at the next exit which was Sweetwater we decided it might be a good idea to stop and get some hot food and see if we could find a hotel there and try to just sleep and hope it melted. As we were blessed we did find a room and got a hot meal and slept most of the day and all that night. We left Sweetwater early Saturday morning and headed on east. Our plans were to go see our friends Deb and Danny in Mississippi on the way home. We made it to their house about 9 or so on Saturday night. As is custom of a good southern lady Deb had a hot supper waiting for us. Oh my, my very first crawfish stew and it was so very good. I even froze a bag and brought some home for my supper the next night. Jason is a picky eater and he loved it too. Maybe Deb will share her recipe with us and I will post it for ya here. We stayed up late visiting and then started out the next day on for home. We made it here late on Sunday night January 4th. So yep, that is what I been up to for the past 2 months. I loved every minute with my lil grandsons, I did get to spoil Liam longer as I waited for Zach and enjoyed getting to see our friends in MS but by golly there is not place like home. Since we got here the farthest I have been from the house is out back to take care of my chickens. No plans for going much farther any time soon either. We have had rain all day today and then tonight they are forecasting freezing rain after midnight. So that in itself will keep me on the farm. Not that I mind at all.

So back on the farm. All is well here with one exception. While I was gone in November to west Ky Rodger called to tell me that my Luna was gone. We had her 6 or 7 years and for some reason she made a bad decision crossing the railroad and got hit and killed. Needless to say it broke my heart. I miss my big girl so much. When I go out to feed I am totally on my own to make sure some critter is not out there to get the chickens or worse, me. She was for sure my security here. Not sure I will ever find another girl as sweet and loyal as she was. Hard as it is I do plan to get another Great Pyrenees in the spring. Am thinking this time maybe get 2 girls and have them fixed. I personally think females are just better guard dogs and protectors. We do have a problem here with people dropping off unwanted dogs that can be a problem with the chickens and there is no Luna here to protect them. But life goes on with that sad note.

While I was away my freezers got filled with deer meat. That was a nice thing to come home too.With one small problem, all the chicken is in the meat freezer under about 3oo lbs of deer meat. So if we want chicken I have to do some serious digging in the freezer and that is no fun at all in freezing weather. But it is doable. We are so blessed that the freezers are full and cellar is well stocked. But once in a while we like to get a box of ice cream and really cant do that right now for there is no room in the freezers. It is a good problem to have tho.

Not much else happening here on the farm. So till next time (not as long, I hope), blessings from the McGuire homestead.


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.