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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reflections

Its New Years eve and a time of reflection. Looking back to see where I have been and looking forward to see where I want to be. Then planning the trip into next year. In our youth we have so many plans for our future and how things will be, then something happens and it all changes. In my youth I had planned on working about 20 years and retiring to the homestead and becoming as self sufficient as possible. I made 11 of those years and then got hurt at work. That sure changed the plan a good deal. Now the plans include enlisting more help to do the things that I had planned on doing myself. This new year I would like to expand my herb garden and knowledge of medicinal herbs for personal and family use. I would also like to get an orchard started for fruits to can and preserve and sell. Also would like to have fences built in order to have some livestock for meat and to sell. Not sure, maybe cows, hogs, sheep, or possibly goats. Would prefer a cow for milk and for meat. I have chickens and would like to be able to grow more feed for them instead of buying it. I really want to raise hogs to butcher for the freezer. Then my thoughts take me to a place to can and process all this stuff. I need my summer kitchen built, it will double as a green house in early spring, and butcher place when needed. I would like a gas range in there to use when the power goes off here. We are giving great thought to putting in a new heat system for the house. An outside wood fire furnace boiler unit that uses hot water to provide heat. And while we are at it maybe a geothermal cooling system. Gosh so many plans and dreams and so little money or energy. But all this is attainable with some hard work. But the first thing on the list of things to do is to get myself in better physical and mental shape. If I am to do any of this stuff I first have to concentrate on getting me healthier. Maybe the new year will motivate me to work on ME more.
So with all the reflections in my mind maybe its time to look at the seed catalogs and decide what to plant in the garden next year. We have a root cellar now so storage is not a problem for the canned stuff and root crops. I would like to grow more beans to dry. We use a good many dried beans in different things around here. Then there are flowers, I love em. I have perennial flower beds that are doing well. Although I do like the annuals for quick variety of color. More varieties maybe are in order. And I think I shall order more strawberry plants and make another bed for them. I have many plans, now if I only had a strong back to do it all. But if I were to make a new years resolution it would be to take care of me first and do the things I enjoy and not what everyone thinks I should do. I do hope your new year is filled with all the good things you need, and health to enjoy them. Till next time, many blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Its the simple things




I guess it is the simple things in life that I enjoy most. Yesterday was my birthday and I had decided to visit a friend of mine in central Kentucky. My friend Rosie had broken her ankle and had surgery the same day I had elbow surgery. She has recovered fine but her incision is not closing up. The docs have left a stitch in there that is irritating it. I just wanted to visit and encourage her a little bit and I always enjoy time spent with them on their little farm. Jason went with me and drove. We had a nice lunch with Rosie and her family and I got to look at some of her painting that she has done while sitting on the bed elevating her injured foot. Such a good artist. I was like a kid at Christmas time. She had knitted me a pair of sock. I love em! That is one of the things I never learned to do well. It is the little things like this that I treasure most in life. When I have warm toes I can think of my dear friend. In the meantime her hubby Sam was in the barn checking on the animals and spoiling them like he does. He came into the room with a little lamb in his arms that had been born in the night. They had 2 ewes and 3 new babies. I was born and raised on a farm and we didn't have sheep so that is my first time in life getting to hold a new lil lamb. They are so precious. Such trusting humble little creatures. I really wanted to put him in my pocket and bring him home. But we took him back to the barn to his momma. He followed his momma a while then the dogs for a bit. Gods little creatures can sure warm your heart, much the same as good friends do from near and far. So till next time, be warmed by those you love, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Monday, December 28, 2009

Its cold, I dont want to be out there

It has been rather cold for the past several days around here. But it is winter time. The older I get the less I like cold weather. It just seems to make all my injuries hurt even more than usual. It is warm in the house, so that's where I stay if at all possible. I did go out today and let the chickens out to scratch a lil while. They didn't care much for the cold wind either. I think they were more interested in water than any thing else. It is hard this time of year to keep waterers thawed. I should have emptied my rain barrels to keep them from freezing but that never got done. So I have to break the ice in them daily to get water for the chickens.
Jason is going to be home for a few more days so we are going tomorrow to see some friends of mine in central Kentucky. We are taking my friend Rosie a dishwasher which I wish I could have gotten to her 2 months ago. She broke her foot about the same time I had elbow surgery and neither of us could travel. I think she will also appreciate a bushel of sweet potatoes and a feed bag full of turnips for her cellar. Her and the hubby are friends I met on a forum we both frequent online. And in talking to her online we found that her hubby grew up about 30 miles or so from me. It is a small world. They are such nice folks. They live the simple life very much like we do here. But they have Dexter cows and dang it I want one. I always enjoy visiting their place. And gosh, I wish I only knew half as much about herbal remedies as does she. She grows a lot of her own herbs and makes tinctures and such. She sent me some comfrey tincture for my elbow to encourage healing. The common name for comfrey is "knit bone". There have been sufficient studies done to merit its use in modern applications. I have used it daily for over a week now and my elbow is less painful and less pain makes me think it is healing better.
I also am posting a recipe at Amoy's request. That girl likes fruit and the fruit dip I have made in the past. So for Amoy and all my readers, here is my favorite fruit dip. This can also be used like a thick dressing on chopped mixed fruit as well.

Fruit Dip

!6 oz of cream cheese, softened
13 oz jar marshmallow creme
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat all smooth with mixer. Serve with fruit wedges or on top of chopped fruit. Enjoy!

Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A late white Christmas

We had our family Christmas this weekend so both the boys could be here. It has just been a lazy day grazing on leftovers and lots of naps. A friend had given us another deer last week. It got skinned out today and cut for the freezer. It had lots of nice roast and about 15 lb of deer burger. That should do for a while. Rob and Amoy were going to try to go home this afternoon but took a nap instead. After dark it started to snow again with a big dip in temps from earlier today. I guess I missed that part of the weather forecast. So they are going to stay the night and leave tomorrow and head back home.

I am ready to just stay in for a while and rest up or hibernate as some would call it. I am working on putting all my favorite recipes in a cook book on the computer so it can be transferred to disc at some point. I am going to include all my canning recipes and if I get real creative maybe some photos. Or not. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Family and good food

That's what the holidays are for us. We had our family Christmas dinner today when we all could be together. I had roast turkey breast and cornbread stuffing. A ham fixed in the crock pot with crushed pineapple, brown sugar and pepsi cooked on low all night. We also had corn from our garden, green beans, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, gravy and cranberry sauce. I had made some snack foods yesterday to keep everyone happy while they waited for dinner. We had peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, bourbon balls, cheese ball, fruit and fruit dip. Everyone ate their fill and then took a nap.
I cleaned up the kitchen a bit and went out to turn the chickens out for a bit and rake my mulch back into place that the chickens had scratched all over. We put a timer on the light in the chicken house to extend the amount of light the birds needed so they would continue laying through winter. It seems to have helped some. I life I have learned that most birds and animals have more of a survival instinct than do humans. The pullets will pick the corn out of the scratch feed when we give it to them. The corn is higher in starches and sugars that help the birds produce body heat and stay warm in cold weather. When I was growing up we always had chickens and dad would feed them nothing but corn all year long. They didn't eat much in summer but in winter they did and I never knew of one succumbing to the cold weather. And his hens always produced plenty of eggs all winter long. A well fed animal will survive the harshest of conditions where as a poorly fed one will succumb to the elements. I think that is the way God designed them. That's my take on it.
There are people in the kitchen again so it must be time for seconds or thirds. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

It Christmas time already, where did this year go? Today we are just relaxing here at home, Rob and Amoy of course have to work tonight so they cant be here till tomorrow when we have dinner. I think we are having some grilled salmon and wild rice for lunch and maybe soup for supper today. I have some baking to do as well if I can ever get motivated to move. This is a good time of year for me to reflect on the past year and count blessing that have come my way. And there are too many to count. We are blessed to have good health, good food, shelter and family. So much more fortunate than many today.
We are forecast to have some cold nasty weather this weekend and hopefully we are more prepared than we were last weekend. We bought a generator yesterday and have gas for it and kerosene for the kerosene heaters if we need them. We also have propane burners we can utilize for cooking if we lose power. Which I hope don't happen of course but it never hurts to be ready.
I am off to bake some cookies and get some things fixed for us to snack on. I made some bourbon balls yesterday from a recipe that my friend Connie shared with me and they were so dang good. I will share that with you here.

Bourbon Balls

2 cups finely chopped pecans
1 cup bourbon

Pour bourbon over nuts and let stand an hour or so to absorb the liquid.

Combine 2 lb powdered sugar and 1/2 cup melted butter well. Mix in soaked pecans and stir to combine well. Chill well and prepare chocolate for dipping.

12oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 bar of paraffin

Melt over low heat. Roll pecan sugar mixture into balls about the size of grapes and dip in chocolate to coat. Place on paper lined cookie sheet and chill to harden chocolate.

Enjoy! But these are best made several days ahead of time if you can let them wait that long.

From my family to you and yours, Merry Christmas, stay safe and warm.

Stella

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Observations

It has been a rather do nothing day around here.But I did manage a trip to the grocery store to get a few things to keep the kids entertained when they are here for the holidays. As you know if you have grown kids all you need is plenty of food stuff and they are happy. But I was thinking while Jason and I were in the store, there just aren't that many people buying large carts full of groceries like I have seen at holidays past. It was almost as if most folks were shopping for the usual stuff, not items you normally see in your cart when you are making a big family meal. We only have one grocery store in our county and they had bunches of hams and turkeys left to chose from. I think this was not the norm. It really got me to thinking, do people not have the money to do big holiday meals or are they just not spending it. The jury is still out on that one. In talking to several people in the past few weeks, I have heard more people say their families are not doing the gift exchanges this year, it is more important to just be with family and friends and have a nice simple meal. For the most part this has always been our way of celebrating Christmas. Just my opinion, but I do think this year Christmas will be celebrated more in light of true meaning than the commercialized one for lots more people. But around this house, anytime I can spend time with my youngins is special. They grew up to be wonderful individuals if I do say so myself. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Monday, December 21, 2009

I got to brag a little bit





As a mother I have to brag a little bit here. From previous post you know our youngest son graduated college this past Saturday at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond. We missed the graduation ceremony due to the nasty weather we had here in the east. Although we did get to have dinner with Rob and his girlfriend Amoy,(adopted daughter lol), Jason and Matt, a friend of Robs. Amoy took some good photos for us to keep and I am sharing some of those in this post. Rob now has his Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health Science degree. He has spent the past 5 years at EKU going to school full time and working part-time at Eastern State Hospital. He graduated from Oneida Baptist Institute in Clay County prior to attending EKU. It seems like only yesterday that I put this cute lil blonde haired boy on the school bus to go off to kindergarten. Gosh how time flys. Hard to believe at time that our 2 boys have grown into fine young men that we are so proud of. OK I think I am done bragging now. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Not prepared for winter

After its too late we always decide we are not prepared for winter as we would like to be. On Friday night we started getting rain and snow, then it turned to all snow and ended with about 4 inches here at our place. The temperature was not too bad at about 35 or so. It was the wet heavy snow that takes down power lines and trees, which is exactly what happened. That stuff was treacherous to drive in as well. Our son Rob was graduating from college on Saturday morning and I suggested to hubby that we go stay in the town where he was graduating, but we didn't. On Friday night we lost power and got the predicted amount of snow. When state road crews are getting trucks off the road with chains on them its not a good idea to try to travel. So we missed Robs graduation ceremony. I so wanted to be there for him, he has worked hard for this day. They did take lots of pictures for us and Josh video taped it for us to have, and Jason called and put his cell phone on speaker so we could hear them call Robs name in real time. We really appreciate them all going to the trouble for us. But later in the day when the roads cleared a bit we did make it out to Lexington to have dinner with them. That was really nice and we had a good time. Got back home last evening and still didn't have power here. So we started a fire and kinda went to bed early. The power finally came back on about 8 this morning. I could survive without electric but dang it sure is nice to have. Now to decided what is for lunch...................
Maybe a stew would be nice with some cornbread. And at the request of one of my readers here is my recipe for cornbread made with homegrown cornmeal.

CORNBREAD

2 1/2 cups corn meal(preferably home ground)
1 1/2 cups self rising flour
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda (only if you use real buttermilk)
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups water + 2 tablespoons buttermilk powder
OR
2 cups whole milk or buttermilk
2 whole eggs
1- 10 inch cast iron skillet
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In cast iron skillet put about 4 tablespoons butter and about 6 tablespoons olive oil, or you are best to use about 1/2 inch of bacon grease in skillet or any combination of the above to equal 1/2inch. Heat skillet in oven till hot.
Mix bread ingredients well, it should be the consistency of cake batter. You can adjust the milk to the right consistency. Pour batter into hot skillet, the melted grease should come up over the sides and and run into the top of the batter. This makes the crust crispy. If ya want a more tender less crispy cornbread use less grease or oil in skillet. Bake about 30 to 40 minutes till nice an brown and the top springs back when pressed. Cut in wedges or squares to serve, with more butter.
*I like the crisp outer edges of the cornbread and everyone else like the tender middle part, so we have the best of both worlds here. Also, even tho I add sugar to my cornbread, it is not sweet. The tiny bit of sugar just adds something extra to the taste as salt does any other dish.

Enjoy! Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Friday, December 18, 2009

The holidays are closer

With the Christmas Holiday getting closer I thought I would post a recipe for fudge that a friend shared with me. I am not skilled in making fudge but this recipe is kinda forgiving. This is for a friend who was looking for a good recipe for fudge.

Peanut Butter Fudge

4 cups granulated sugar
2 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons butter
dash of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup peanut butter


Combine the sugar and milk in a heavy kettle and bring to a boil and cook 10 minutes. Then add the butter. Cook to soft ball stage. ( she cooked hers till it would hold shape in cold water and you could take the lil ball out and roll it in your fingers like well chewed gum). When it reaches this point remove from the heat and add the vanilla and peanut butter with a dash of salt. Stir quickly and stir well. Pour into a buttered pan to cool. Cut and serve. This stuff is so good.

Enjoy! Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Getting ready for the holidays

Its about time to get ready for the holidays and start some baking or something. I think the kids might be disappointed if there were no desserts on the holiday table. I was thinking about that as I was cleaning house today. I did manage to give the master bedroom a good cleaning that it has lacked since before I got hurt 2 years ago. So it was time to move furniture and dust and vacuum all the carpet. And the empty gun storage cases under the bed were raising families. There were all sizes. I have also cleaned out closets to make room to store my moms stuff while she is in the nursing home for therapy. But such is life.

I had a brain cell mis-fire today when I sold all my eggs that I had in the refrigerator. I decided to make oatmeal soup for my supper and had to go to the chicken house and get 1 egg. That's all they had done when I went out there. The young pullets are laying really well in this cold weather. But then again it hasn't been that extremely cold here yet. A distant neighbor and family friend came by and got the eggs and I sent her home with 2 big grocery bags of turnips. I had given her some a week or so ago and she was telling me how much she enjoyed them. They are very sweet due to being grown in cool weather. Jason pulled them when he was home before the field got plowed up and put them in feed bags and set them in the root cellar. They are keeping beautifully.

A friend gave us another deer that we will be processing for the freezer and for jerky next week. It never hurts to have plenty of meat in the freezer. Also the week of Christmas we are getting our cornmeal ground. Here at our house cornbread is kinda a staple. I still don't have my hominy made yet. Been kinda busy with other things and the holidays coming up. Just not enough hours in the day. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fix one thing..........

Just when you think you have things all fixed and are heading in the right direction, life throws you a curve ball. I had a doctors appointment today with family doc to get my meds refilled before the holidays. And as you well know when you go in they check your blood pressure, oxygen level and heart rate. Well my blood pressure was too high. The doc didn't look at the chart an notice it but I am aware it is high so now I will need to monitor it and watch what I eat. I do think it is directly related to my pain level more than diet. But I don't need this right now. Prolly a lot of it stress related too.
I stopped by a fresh fruit and vegetable stand today while I was out and got some fresh fruit. Was kinda shocked that apples were only $10 a bushel, which is cheap for this area. I got some tangerines, grapes, naners, tomatoes and apples. I stopped by the nursing home to see mom and took some of the fresh fruit to her. She seems to be doing OK at this point.
It has been cold today, so after all my errands I came home and made a pot of chili for dinner. It was nice and spicy, really warms ya up. Time to do the cleanup now. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Monday, December 14, 2009

Puttering thru winter

Sometimes I think I am just puttering thru the winter trying to make it till spring. Kinda looking forward to gardening time again. Although we haven't had any really bad weather it has been cold, at least to me. We finally got the fence put back up around the onion bed today so we can let the chickens out in the afternoons. They do enjoy being out and they just lay better eggs when they are allowed to roam a bit. And this gives Luna something to do keeping an eye on the chickens. She does keep things a lot more secure around here. She lets us know when something or someone is around.

I went out again today to moms apartment to continue the process of cleaning up and packing her stuff for storage. Not really a lot of stuff to pack, I can only do a limited amount each day. The earlier part of the day was spent taking care of things around my house and getting laundry done here. I had thought that when winter got here I would have some free time to cook and bake and do some reading. I would like to start crocheting again, it has been a long time since I did that. But there are still more important things to do before I have that free time.

Our youngest son, Rob graduates from college this weekend. I am so happy for him to have that behind him and to be able to get on with his life. We are quite proud of him and wish him great success. God bless ya Rob. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Life goes on

Life goes on in spite of us sometimes. I have stayed busy all week trying to get my moms apartment packed up and ready to move. Most of her stuff will be moved into my house and some odd things will be put in storage if she ever has a need for them later.I did manage to get my carpet shampooer to the apartment and cleaned the recliner that she wants to use at the nursing home, so thas one thing out of the way. Maybe by weeks end I will have the other stuff in boxes and ready to move the week of Christmas. This kind of work takes its tole on me physically. Does get kind a hard to keep up with 2 households. But I think I will survive.
The weather today was nice but cold. Or at least to me 35 is cold. Maybe I have become a wimp in my time. But hopefully it made for good deer hunting for the guys and gals that are out this season. Haven't heard from my bunch yet so I really don't know if we have more deer for the freezer or not. I may have to can some of the venison if we have more deer as I am out of freezer space and really don't want to buy another one right now. But I do have space in the cellar for jars of canned goodies. I will need freezer space for cornmeal when we get our corn ground into meal the week of Christmas. This has been a long season for me. Seems as tho I can never get all the things done that need to be so I can settle in for winter. But my dad always said the older you get the more there is to do it seems.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Winter has arrived

Winter has finally arrived for sure in these parts. We have had snow this week and rain galore. I don't like cold weather so I try to have an excuse to stay in most days. I got out this morning to feed the cats and dog and was pleasantly surprised at the temps. It was a good 60 degrees with a good bit of wind, almost spring like. The wind got much stronger as the day progressed. There were several trees down all over the county and some took out power lines. In our little hollow we got wind but no damage. Unless ya count the stuff that got blown about that probably should have been tied down anyway. I had a large piece of rubber roofing folded laying on the picnic table out back that was blown off and hit the temporary fence around the onion bed and broke one of the post off. So I didn't let the pullets out to forage cause we all know that is where they would go first. I also had to put the rubber roofing back over the compost and manure we had layered in front of the cellar, it was scattered about.
I went into the cellar to check the temperature and found it to be nice and cool and dry. We have many bushels of sweet potatoes stored in there and lots of jars of canned stuff. I think we are all set for winter around here.
Earlier this morning I decided to go to moms apartment and start trying to get her stuff packed and ready to move to storage while she is in the nursing home. I think she will be there for a good long while. She says she is feeling OK, but she does seem a little confused some days. I think I finally have all her laundry done and ready to pack up. Now I am working on the kitchen stuff. Will probably spend this weekend trying to get most of that done while hubby is out of town deer hunting. Hopefully he can get a couple more deer to make jerky and stew meat from. But I really shouldn't plan things as something will surely happen to make them change. Thas the story of my life. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Not much happening

Not much happening here on the farm this time of year. It was rather cold this morning. Think the low last night was about 22 or so. I really don't take the cold like I did when I was 20 for some reason. They tell me age plays a big part in that fact. But none the less even in winter there are minor things that need to be done here. We finally got some firewood hauled and put on the front porch in case the power goes off. Or even if it don't we still use the fireplace to help cut down on the power bill. A nice fire in a fireplace kinda reminds me of my youth when I was growing up in the old farm house we heated with wood and coal. The coal was mostly used when the weather got bitterly cold as it produces more heat than wood. The smell of coal smoke takes me back a few years. Strange how smells can do that to your mind. I remember when I was very young, in summer time the railroad company would come through replacing cross ties in the tracks and dad would always talk to some of the men working and tell them they could leave some of the pieces along side the tracks on the farm. Then he would put an old chain on his chain saw and cut them up then split them to use to heat water at hog killing time. I can still remember the smell of the creosote as it burned to heat the water. When dad farmed with mules, the mules knew that smell all too well and it meant they would be dragging a dead hog to the scalding platform soon and they would get jittery. Then the smell in the spring when dad would smoke the country hams with hickory. Ah such a good life that was.
My task for the day was to get moms laundry done up and taken to the nursing home for her. That was a bigger job than I had anticipated. I ended up doing 8 loads of laundry, all of which had to be taken to her and some of it taken back to her apartment till she needs it. The next several days will consist of cleaning and straightening the apartment and packing some of moms stuff for storage. Sadly she wont be able to live there anymore with her health declining. So I have my work cut out for me I guess. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I am still alive



I just thought I would let ya know that I am still alive and kicking. Just not real high these days. But really I am doing OK. As long as air goes in and out, and blood goes around and around.
This has been a rather stressful week for me regarding my mother. She had a bad fall in her apartment and broke her right hip. And as most people know that can be very critical to an older person. The fall happened on Sunday night and she had surgery to repair the hip on Tuesday. On Friday she was transferred to the local nursing home for re-hab and will be there indefinitely. She was very confused for a few days but tonight she seemed to be doing better. This is especially hard with me being the only child. I spent the day today getting her apartment cleaned and trying to get ready to move her stuff out an into storage somewhere. It was rather emotional for me but I managed. My body is paying the price in pain as I write this post. Just need to take care of me for a bit now.

On a lighter note, we got our first snow fall of the season last night. Maybe got an inch or so total. It was pretty but dang was it cold. The neat thing was there was no snow on our little road, just on the ground everywhere else. Luna had already had a good time in the snow when I got out to see her this morning. The cats were not real sure what all the white stuff was about but they knew it was cold on their feet. They would jump from one clear spot to another to stay out of it. They were cute to watch. Later today they only had mud to play in because all the snow melted. There was ice on our back deck when I came in earlier this evening. I guess that is to be expected when the temperature is 24 degrees. I think a nice warm fire in the fireplace might be in order. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

One of those days

Did you ever have one of those days when you just wish you had not gotten out of bed in the morning? Dang, seems I have a lot of those lately. But I did get up and maybe got a few things in order. First off had to deal with nurses at a hospital that do not care what happens to patients when they leave their care. They have no consideration for the patient or family. My mother is in just such a facility after a fall and broken hip. She will require placement in a nursing home for an extended period of time, probably indefinitely. Sad part is if she had been able or so inclined to humor the staff into thinking that she could provide care for herself she would have been sent back to her apartment, no questions ask. And even with me, her only child telling them differently. But God must have intervened on my behalf and she told them she would go to the local nursing home at free will. That was somewhat of a relief. So she may get to come to the nursing home on Friday for re-hab and a long stay. One day at a time.

The weather was really warm here today, not that I was able to be out much. Then late this evening we started getting some rain. Forecast is for colder temps for the next several days. Maybe good soup weather is ahead.

On a lighter note, well kinda, when I went out to give Luna her meds today she had a "thing" on her nose. And with a little closer look, it was a tick of all things. I would have thought ticks should have been froze out in our area by now. But sure enough it was a tick that had got a good belly full of Luna's blood. We did manage to get it off with a little effort. She was a happy camper after the wrestling match. She is doing much better with her leg, not limping much at all. So I think the meds worked and she can skate by this time without surgery.

I had planned on making hominy this week but as usual it never pays for me to plan anything. Still think I might get to that project this weekend if I can scare up some help. Good homemade hominy is quite tasty and very nutritious. We shall see. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Holiday hang-over

No, not the kind of hang-over you might be thinking. Just that sluggish feeling you get from eating too much. We had a good meal so I suppose that is a plus and probably more than a lot of folks had. We stayed busy most of the holiday finishing up the butchering and getting deer meat in the freezer. So the freezer is full again and just maybe that will hold us for a while.

Luna is feeling better and not limping like she was. Am sure hoping this treatment the vet gave her works for her shoulder and leg so she wont need surgery. If I ran and bounced around like she does I'm pretty sure I would have torn cartilage too. Or worse. But she is more active than before so that's a good sign I think. The weather has been warmer during the day which helps as well I'm sure, although it has been near freezing at night. Guess cold is to be expected in December. So hard to believe this year is almost gone from us and a new one is around the corner. Maybe a long nap is in order. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Finished butchering deer

We finished butchering the deer today, got the roast and steaks packaged and frozen, also got the burger ground and have some of the meat in marinade to make jerky. We always de-bone and remove all the silver skin and ligaments as we cut the meat. Its all done by hand with no saw to leave the bone dust on the meat. I think this is one reason most people don't like venison. The jerky has been sliced 1/4 inch thick and will be smoked and dried later this week after it marinates for a day or two. So hopefully this is all the butchering we will be doing this year till next spring when it starts all over again. Was nice that Jason was here to help with the first 2 deers and Rob and Amoy were here to help with the 2 we did today. Sure makes things go a little faster.
Luna seems to be feeling better after her visit to the vet yesterday. She is getting used to taking her vitamin supplement tablets and pain tablets so we don't have to pick them up and put the pills in the back of her throat now. She had plenty to do toting and burying pieces of meat and deer fat as they were skinning the deer today. Am sure that is gonna be real pleasant this spring if it last that long.Not to mention all the turkey and ham bits that she got to eat over the holiday.I think she stuffed herself like the rest of us. But that's a good thing.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Late Thanksgiving

We had our family Thanksgiving dinner today when both the boys could be home to enjoy time together. I think I forgot how much work that can be to cook a big meal for a holiday. We had turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed taters, gravy, corn, coleslaw, green beans and several desserts. And it was pretty dang good if I do say so myself. I think we all ate more than our share and everyone had their nap afterwards. It is nice to know that most of the food on the table was home grown and homemade. For all this I am very thankful.

Earlier today Luna had to go to the vet. She has been limping in her left front leg for a week or more now. The vet said the Great Pyrenees grow so fast that the cartilage in the joints gets brittle and tears easily and that this is likely what is wrong with her. So he gave her vitamins to take for a month and some pain pills to take for a week to see if it improves. If it don't heal on its on then she will need surgery. And this is the part I did not want to hear. Am so hoping this heals well for her. If nothing else this does qualify for lots a treats.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving and lot of good friends and good food. We had dinner with hubby's sister and the rest of his family today. We are having our family dinner on Saturday as my youngest son Rob and his girlfriend Amoy both had to work and couldn't make that dinner. So I get to do more cooking tomorrow and then the big meal on Saturday. I don't mind as you can have leftovers for a few days and not have to cook again.
It was cold today and got colder as the day went on. We are supposed to have some snow flurries tonight and tomorrow but don't think it will amount to much. There are 2 more deer to skin tomorrow and get in the freezer while we got some help. But thas for another day, as for this one, I feel a good nap coming on. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More preparations for spring

Hubby has been on vacation this week and has managed to get some things done here on the place. The garden fence has been taken down and the garden plot mowed and then turned to be ready for spring. This is the first time in years that we have managed to get the garden turned before winter. In spring all we will need to do is disk the ground and plant. It needs to be a lot drier to turn than to disk which is what delays our planting every year. He also turned about an acre to plant some corn for feed for chickens and what ever else I might possibly have. So as of now we are one step ahead in that area. He probably could have gotten a lot more done outside if I could get out an help a little. But with a bad back and the right arm still in the healing process, I am banished to the house.
Today they got 2 of the deer skinned and cut up for the freezer. Got a good deal of meat from them. Wont need to buy beef for a while as we use the deer meat in place of beef till its all gone. Still have 2 more deer to process probably on Friday. All this is up to Rodger and Jason, not much you can do with one hand when it comes to butchering.
I finally got some baking done for the holiday. Finally got a dried apple stack cake made, this is the first one I have made in many years. Good thing I dried a lot of apples last year. The cake looks really good, so we shall see how it tastes tomorrow. I still need to make a couple apple and a couple cherry pies as well. These will be using the pie filling I canned last year as well. So I am off to make pies. From our family to your, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving. Till next time blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dried Apple Stack Cake

This is an article published in Appalachian Heritage magazine at Berea College in Berea kentucky. Avery traditional Appalachian recipe.

Enjoy the history and recipe.


THE "DRIED APPLE STACK CAKE" is the most "mountain" of all cakes baked and served in Southern Appalachia. The story goes that James Harrod, one of Kentucky's earlier pioneers and the founder of Harrodsburg, Kentucky, brought the stack cake recipe with him when he traveled the Wilderness Road to Kentucky. Whether this story is true or not, this cake has remained popular with mountain people.

Wherever Appalachian people migrated--to Washington, Florida, and Arizona, for example—they took along recipes for their favorite version of old-fashioned stack cake. Called by different names such as the dried apple stack cake, apple stack cake, Confederate old-fashioned stack cake, stackcake, and Kentucky pioneer washday cake, all were made using two constant ingredients: ginger and sweet sorghum molasses.

While sorghum molasses was considered not suitable in most cakes and pies, it worked very well in the stack cake. Sometimes cooks varied the amount of sweetening by adding brown sugar to the sorghum molasses--one-half cup of sugar to one-third cup of molasses. The apple stack cake is a low fat, not sweet, many-layered cake. It is made with stiff cookie-like dough, flavored with ginger and sorghum molasses, and a sweet, spiced apple filling. When served, the cake is tall, heavy, and moist. The dried apple stack cake was a favorite pioneer wedding cake.

In the mountains weddings were celebrated with "in-fares" where people gathered to party, dance, and eat potluck food. Because wedding cakes were so expensive, neighbor cooks brought cake layers to donate to the bride's family. The dough for the cake was rolled or pressed out into very thin layers and baked in cast-iron skillets. The family of the bride cooked, sweetened, and spiced dried apples to spread between the layers of the cake. The number of layers per stack of her wedding cake often gauged the bride’s popularity. Sometimes there would be as many as twelve layers, but most often the average was seven or eight layers. Along with weddings, the stack cake was served at family reunions, church suppers, and other large gatherings.
The original recipe is a long, tedious process (taking as much as three hours to assemble). Some cooks just use regular cake layers and plain applesauce or apple butter, or a combination of both, as the filling between the layers. While stack cake made this way may be tasty, there is no comparison between applesauce or apple butter and the strong apple flavor that dried apples give.

Dried Apples

One method of preserving foods in Appalachia is by air and sun drying. After coring and peeling, apples are cut in half then cut into quarters. Each quarter is cut into two or three thin slices. When the apples are ready, they are spread on a large white cloth and placed on top of a shed or other flat area to dry in the sun. A fine wire screen put over them kept out flies and bugs. This method is chancy because of cloudy skies and often rain. However, apple slices can be dried near a wood-burning stove, in a sunny window, or in the oven at a low temperature. They can also be dried by stringing the slices with a needle and stout thread and hanging them up to dry. The apple slices shrivel and turn brown. When completely dry they are stored in cloth bags, glass canning jars, or the freezer.

Not many mountain families dry fruit in this old-fashioned way, although they still love dried apples and dried green beans. They are more likely to dehydrate or barter with local florists for room in a greenhouse where they can spread out their apples and beans to dry. Today different versions of the stack cake are found in recipe collections and cookbooks, but mountain cooks still prefer the old-fashioned recipes that come down through generations of mountain cooks.
I collected the following recipe from Mrs. Elmer Gabbard who, with her husband, founded the Buckhorn Center and Orphanage, and worked there many years. The widowed Mrs. Gabbard retired to Berea where, by good fortune, I met her, and we talked about the old-time cooks in the mountain. She said the recipe she gave me had been handed down in her family for generations.

Dried Apple Stack Cake
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, well beaten
1/3 cup molasses
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cooked dried apples

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream shortening and sugar; add beaten egg, molasses, buttermilk, and mix well. Sift flour, soda, salt, and ginger into a big mixing bowl. Make hole in center of dry ingredients and pour in creamed mix, stirring until well blended. Add vanilla, stir well, and roll out dough as you would for a piecrust. Cut to fit 9-inch pan or cast-iron skillet (this amount of dough will make 7 layers). Bake layers for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. When cool, stack layers with spiced, sweetened old-fashioned dried apples. (See recipe below.) Spread between layers and smooth around sides and top. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired, or beat egg whites into a meringue and spread on outside of cake. You may brown the meringue if desired. Prepare cake at least a day before serving it and put in refrigerator (it will keep several days, if necessary, in a cool place). To serve, slice into very thin layers.

Cooked Dried Apples*

Put 1 pound apples in heavy pan and cover with cold water. You may need to add water several times to keep apples from sticking to pan. Cook until soft enough to mash. While still hot, mash apples and add 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup white sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon cloves, and 1 teaspoon allspice.

*If dried apples are not available, cook several pounds cooking apples with a little water. Add spices and sugars as listed above, and cook until mixture is very thick.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Things happen


I make plans and then make more plans to do things till I end up with too many things to do and then something gets forgotten. Such is the case with the turnips and turnip greens. I had hoped to can more turnip and mustard greens and then kinda thought they might be too big an tough after I got my surgery done. Hubby went to the garden today to take down some of the electric fence around the garden so he can bush hog and get the garden turned and put to bed for the winter. He stopped by the turnip patch and those things are huge. The tops are still green and the turnips are sweet as sugar from growing in the cool weather. Really had not planned on having turnips, I planned on canning lots a greens. Don't like cooked turnips but love those things raw. Would rather peel and eat them like apples. We planted 3 row that are about 75 feet long so I have a bunch. Am thinking I need to pull and sell some turnips. Some will go in the root cellar for eating later. and I just might get some of the greens canned yet.
Till nest time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Getting ready for spring planting




We got some things done today to get ready for spring plantings. Yeah I know, we haven't even had winter yet but its always good to get things ready so you dont lose precious growing time.The area in front of the root cellar was in bad need of some compost and manure to improve the soil so I can plant herbs there in the spring. So I got the compost moved and spread over the area. Then a layer of manure from the chicken house and covered the whole area with black rubber roofing. So in spring all I will need to do is remove the roofing material and plant. On the other side of the door I will be doing some of the same kind of prep but making only 2 smaller areas with a walkway between. I also added some more manure to the grapevines and blueberries. Had to put the cages back around the blueberries to keep the chickens from eating the leaves and digging the plants out. We cleaned the chicken house again and hauled the manure to the garden and spread it so it can be plowed under to rot before spring. The pullets love having fresh bedding and straw in their nest boxes. Probably tomorrow I am sure it will all be in total disarray.
I even got the outbuilding organized and some things in there that had previously been sitting on the deck. It sure looks neater with all the stuff gone. Maybe I can enlist some help moving the gravel from the back drive to the front of the house and get the landscape done this week before the holiday. Just been plugging along, staying busy and trying to let my arm heal. Its doing pretty good but still causes a lot of pain.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Little chores done

We finally got some little chores done on the rental property that we had got busy and put off. Put new batteries in the smoke detectors and tested them, anchored some water lines so they wouldn't accidentally get broken, and fixed a couple plug ins. The rental house is rented and the new tenants are moving in this weekend. At least there is someone living there to maybe help prevent our buildings there from being burglarized.
On the way to the rental property we drive where we can see the big fields in front of our house and spotted about 15 or so huge tom turkeys foraging for insects and seeds. They have been feeding in the fields for the past week or so. Sure would be nice if turkey season was in and we could have one of those for thanksgiving.
Back at home this afternoon I decided to organize some of the kitchen cabinets and store rarely used things in the big pantry in the utility room. Not a big chore but sure made more space in the cabinet for things I use often.
Tomorrow I think we might clean the chicken house out again and put in fresh hay for the winter. Only have 15 pullets and 2 roosters left so this cleaning should hold them till spring. The pullets are laying well for 5 months old. If only they would all use the nest boxes instead of going in the corners and in the middle of the floor. Am hoping we can get some of the landscape gravel put in place this weekend too. Am getting kinda tired of looking at all the bare ground out there. Just a lil too untidy for my liking.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I should not make plans

I am sure we all know someone who is forever making plans and then doing just the opposite of what they planned for. Well I know one, me. In my mind I had planned on picking mustard greens to can and making a rum cake. Needless to say I did neither. I painted pantries today. The kitchen pantry really needed a fresh coat of paint so I got busy taking everything out and removing the shelves. Then the pantry in the utility room was way over due paint. I got this one painted first. The color is nearly the same so you cant tell much difference but it sure made me feel better. And the kitchen pantry seems larger with fresh paint and neatly organized. Dang I'm tired tho. Content but beat.
Yesterday I sold 10 of my dark Cornish pullets. I only got 4 eggs today so hubby accused me of selling all the ones that had started laying. I have been letting them outside ever day to scratch and forage for things to eat and I swear some of the girls are standing at the door with their legs crossed waiting to go to the woods to lay. I am fairly sure somewhere there is a big fat egg fed opossum that missed supper tonight. I didn't let the chickens out.
I was thinking today about how blessed we are to be able to have our garden and chickens here on the farm, and be able to can and freeze most of what we eat for the year. And to be able to hunt to supplement the meat. Should also be raising more animals for meat.I know some folks that consider it a treat to be able to enjoy a home cooked meal. As for us, we still consider eating out a treat and even a luxury. The cellar is full of home canned food, lots of sweet potatoes, onions, cushaws, squash and apples for winter and 2 deer to be butchered. Both freezers are filled to the top. I will need to take the corn out before we can put the meat from the deer in there. Hubby's company gives each family a ham and turkey for Thanksgiving every year so they had to go in the freezer as well. Sure would be nice to have some fried chicken, but it is under too much other frozen stuff to make it accessible. Am thinking I need to do some food shuffling so I can get to the stuff I need on a daily basis. Maybe tomorrow, famous last words.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My favorite cake-Rum Cake

Just thought I would share a recipe with you for one of my favorite cakes. The Rum Cake.


3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

1 box yellow cake mix
1 small box vanilla instant pudding
4 whole eggs
1/2 cup rum
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup oil

First prepare your pan. I use an angel food cake pan for this. Put parchment paper in the bottom and butter well. sprinkle with chopped pecans and set aside. Pre-heat oven to 350.

Mix remainder of cake ingredients together and beat well, this don't take long. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes till medium brown and springs back when touched.
Leave the cake in the pan and take a skewer and poke holes all over the cake.

Glaze:

1 stick of butter(real butter)
1/2 cup water
1 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup rum(coconut rum is awesome)

Melt butter and stir in sugar and water and rum. Bring to boil and boil for 3 minutes. Pour over the cake while its still in the pan allowing the glaze to soak in. Remove from pan and Enjoy!!!!!

Note: You can use pineapple juice in place of water in the cake and use coconut rum in the glaze and you will think you are eating pina coladas.

Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The legal system stinks

The legal system in this country stinks. Especially if you work for a living and the ones around you don't. I sat through civil court today waiting my turn which didn't come till late afternoon. The most cases were of lenders suing for none payment from debtors. At least 20 such in our small county alone. I can only imagine what it would be like in a large town. The other party in my case did not even have the decency to appear in court. The judge awarded judgement in my favor but in no uncertain terms indicated to me that I have no way to collect. The people are on the "draw" and own nothing tangible so that makes them "judgement proof" under the law. Sickening to say the least. They can walk free owing me 2 months rent and 4 utility bills totalling over$1000. What the hell happened to honesty and integrity in this country. I was raised to believe a persons word was his or her bond. I may be just a little old fashioned, but that's all fine with me. People like them are looking for a hand out not a helping hand. Sure hope they use me for a future reference when they try to rent another place. OK off my soap box for now.
After that depressing bit of info, at least the weather was nice today. Very warm for this time of year. Supposed to start cooling down later this week and rain some I think. Tomorrow may be a good day to stay in and do some baking. Maybe some banana nut bread and maybe a rum cake. Yeah that sounds like a plan to me. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Monday, November 16, 2009

Just rambling

Another day in paradise here on the farm. I got up this morning and made my coffee and did the usual stuff. Looked around the kitchen and dining room and the lil dust bunnies were multiplying like, well like bunnies. I decided it was time to shampoo carpet. Dang did I bite off more than I could chew. But with using just one arm and the shampooer I did get the den, dining room and living room done, furniture moved and all. Maybe I can tackle the bedrooms next. It had been 2 years since the carpets were done. After my back injury it was impossible. Not saying it was a good idea to do them today, but some things just need to be done.

The weather was great today. Nice and warm in the upper 70's. Opened the patio door and closed only the screen door. Ventured out to let the pullets out of the building to roam and scratch a bit. Gathered the eggs when I went out and got 13 today. Am hoping to sell about 10 of the pullets this week. A lady from Tennessee say my ad on Craig's list and is interested. That will decrease the feed bill a good amount and still have enough eggs to use and sell a few. Then come spring I can raise babies.

I have some business in town tomorrow that will likely take most of the day then back here and try to finish the carpet. Or not. I happened to think of my mustard and turnip greens that are still in the garden and should try to pick and can some more of those before a hard freeze. In my mental travels over the farm, I remembered that today was my dads birthday. He would have been 96 today. He passed on at the age of 90 years and 5 months. And I still miss him terribly.

Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Deer hunting



Well there are 2 deer hanging that will soon be skinned out and cut for the freezer. Hubby got 2 this year. One spike buck and one doe. We have never been trophy hunters here at all. The smaller bucks and does make much better meat. The meat is comparable to beef. Never with an off taste or gamy. The trick to having good deer meat that don't have a a wild or gamy taste is in the kill and bleeding the animal out soon after the shot. I am sure both the boys will be hunting till season ends. So there will likely be more venison in the freezer. We always cook and prepare the venison same as with any good beef. No soaking or doctoring it up.
When he got home he had to hang the deer carcasses in the root cellar where it was cool. To aid in drainage the heads were removed then chest and neck opened up. Also this made it easier to hang them so they were not touching the floor. Am thinking we will wait till the week of Thanksgiving to skin the deer when the boys are home to help their dad. I'm pretty useless with only one hand.
I think Luna and the girls(cats) were thinking they had hit the jackpot and were having fresh meat. The cats were trying to drag the heads off and Luna was trying to guard them. They will get their share at butchering time.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Friday, November 13, 2009

The wildlife moving around



You can tell the seasons have changed here. I went out to check on the chickens today and something caught my eye in the garden. It was a flock of wild turkeys. Total of 19, just grazing and enjoying the warm sun. Luna spotted them and was barking so they took to cover. The hunting season is not in for them at this time so they were pretty safe. Tomorrow is opening day of modern gun season for deer and hunters are out all over. We hunt our own farm and don't allow others to do so but some still try to sneak in on the remote sides. Am guessing that will be my task for tomorrow keeping trespassers off the farm. The boys hunt here and I sure hope we have some deer in the freezer this year again. Last year there were 3 butchered for the freezer. The weather is supposed to be quite warm all weekend and that does not make for a good hunt.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ah, doggie needs a cookie




Went out today just walking around, turned out the chickens, looked at my various beds of plants and played with the dog for a bit. She has grown accustomed to getting treats when she is good and I guess she thought she was being a good girl but posing a little bit. Guess in doggie thinking that qualifies for a treat. And she gets them often. Maybe she is just a little bit spoiled, but that's OK too. I think she still prefers the porch for sleeping instead of her new igloo dog house. Guess when the air is really cold and windy she will appreciate it more.
The air was quite cool and crisp today with sun casting long shadows on the farm. The trees are bare after all the pretty colors. Now we wait for the snow to coat them for another kind of show.
The sunny days do keep the solar panel going and charging the battery for the lights in the cellar. Really is nice to know when the power goes off we can still have lights in there. Now we are thinking of getting some more solar panels for outside lights such as in the chicken house and out side for security purposes. Maybe in the near future.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Update

Just a little update on me. I had an appointment with the ortho who did my elbow surgery today and he is pleased with the healing of the incision and the progress. Still have a good deal of pain in the elbow but over time that will diminish. He told me he removed the tendon from the bone and reshaped the bone and reattached the tendon. Ouch!!! But for the length of time my mobility is progressing, so I think I will be better. He tells me to use my arm as much as I want but not to the point of causing too much pain. Still a little too sore to do much with, so just do what I can without causing pain.

Did some shopping while we were out. Had to get Luna a dog house and decided on the igloo style houses. Was thinking they are easy to clean and not really any place for bugs and things to hide in there. We put it under the front porch so she wont be having rain pounding on the top. Don't think it is cold enough yet for her to want to be in a warm place as she is very warm natured to begin with. Maybe I can get pictures tomorrow. Got home a little late and am tired and achy from riding in the vehicle. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I drove today

This may sound odd to a lot of people but I drove today for the first time in 2 weeks. Last time I drove my truck was prior to my elbow surgery 2 weeks ago. And that also means I have not been off the farm for 2 weeks. Dang how time flys. Had to go into town today to take care of some business regarding my rental house and with no one to drive me, I just had to go. Have a follow-up doctors appointment tomorrow and some shopping for supplies and then back home. I am a real home body. I can find enough to do here to keep me busy for a year if only I could do all the things that need to be done physically. I do have a tendency tho to hibernate in fall and winter. Rob called me a hermit at one point because I didn't get out much. Guess I like being at home in my own little world.
We had the nest boxes from the old chicken house brought up last evening and put in the one where the Cornish pullets are for them to use. When I went out today to turn them out for the day I got 3 little pullet eggs. Off the floor none the less. Maybe I can put some new straw in the cubbies and use some of my egg gourds to give them the idea. Maybe tomorrow as I didn't think of the egg gourds till after dark. Such is life in my world. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dang I'm bored

I am getting so bored not being able to do what I want. You can only clean house so many time till you are removing the finish from stuff. So very soon I must get out of here I am gonna be putting the pantry in alphabetical order. Maybe that's not such a bad idea. Sure would keep me occupied for a while. The weather was nice enough tho it was overcast and dreary looking, making it a little easier to stay in.
I was sitting in bed last night surfing the net and with the front porch being so close to my bedroom window, I could hear Luna growling. In just moments I heard a coyote howling in the lower edge of the yard. They are getting a little too brave for my liking. Needless to say Luna took off the porch, barking and I then heard several more coyotes that were fairly close as well. I jumped out of bed and went out to make sure she didn't chase too far and get attacked. Just a few minutes later the coyotes fell silent and Luna came back to the porch and only growled a few times after that. I have heard from owners of the Great Pyrenees that they are fearless when it comes to protecting their territory, now I believe it. I am seriously considering getting her a partner to make her safer. Maybe I will check Craig's list for another one about 8 months old so it would be the same age as she. She is worth her food just for keeping the critters away and she is a very lovable dog as well. If someone pulls in the drive, most wont even get out of the car and if they do she wont let them on the porch. That's when she gets a cookie for being a good girl. I think shes a keeper.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Got some thing done



The weather was just beautiful today, warm and sunny, so we got some things done today on the place. Got the rest of the bread corn picked and got all the stuff shelled that we are going to grind for cornmeal. Good thing someone had a strong arm to crank the corn sheller. It mounts to the side of a wooden box that my dad used when I was growing up for the same thing. My grandmother used the old wooden box to hold stove wood for the cook stove. Kinda makes the box older than me. We shelled what amounted to about 2 and 1/2 bushels. I store it in the freezer for a couple weeks to kill any bug eggs that might have been laid in the kernels and then take it out and dry it thoroughly before having it ground into meal. That's gonna be a lot of cornbread! But we do use a good deal and if we have a bad season for the corn next year we wont have to worry much. There will also be enough to make some hominy and have plenty left over for seed for next year. The process of making hominy makes all the nutrients more readily available for the body to digest. And it tastes good too, so that's in my plans for the near future when I have 2 hands that work.

Finally got some compost and straw on my herb bed and its all set for winter. Maybe tomorrow I can manage to get some compost and mulch put around the grapevines and other stuff in the back yard. Depends on how my arm feels in the morning and how much I can do with one hand.
The past few cold nights have sent my 3 cats looking for a warm place to sleep for the winter. I got a plastic tote out of the building and put in in a chair on the front porch and gave them a blanket to sleep on. They will be shielded from the wind and weather and be nice and toasty. They seemed very appreciative of my efforts. Now where to put a huge dog for the winter. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Nice weather

We had some really nice fall weather today, with temps in the low 70's. The sun was so nice and warm on the skin. Yeah I did get out for a bit today. I got to help hold feed bags to put the corn in that was picked and will later be shelled for cornmeal. We sorted it out as we went along and put all the good stuff that were blemish free in separate bags and the ones that had some rotted kernels on them were put in bags for the laying pullets. They do enjoy good new corn. And boy does it make the egg yolks orange. Mighty rich and tasty too I must say. Tomorrow we finish the corn picking and sorting.
Next weekend is opening weekend of deer season here so all the hunters will be off in search of the ever elusive deer. Am hoping we have several for the freezer this year. It is a depressing time for me as I cant hunt any more due to my work injuries. And the fact that I have had recent surgery. Maybe some day I can add deer hunting back to my list of the much awaited season. But this year I will be staying home and tending to things here on the farm. Such is life. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Friday, November 6, 2009

Just rambling

This staying in and not being able to get outside and do much is killer for me. Still having a good deal of pain from the elbow surgery and a lot of soreness and not able to use it much at all. I did manage to clean 6 stalks of celery and run that through the food processor to slice and froze that. Got some laundry done, folded as best you can do with one hand.
The remainder of the sweet potatoes were dug today with the end result of 4 more bushels. All of them white ones. We actually prefer them over an others. Tomorrow it is picking the corn for cornmeal and getting that in the dry so it can be shelled later.
I was watching the news last night and noticed that our governor here in Kentucky had fell into the trap of the liberals and declared the Christmas tree in the state capital a Holiday Tree. He was very soon set straight by the constituents in Kentucky and decided it was in the best interest of all to keep calling the Christmas tree a Christmas tree. This goes to prove that people must stand for what they believe or all that they believe in will soon disappear. Don't know what he was thinking but he quickly changed his mind. I have to say I am proud to be from the Bluegrass state. We should all say a prayer for the families of the service men and women who lost their lives in the shooting at Ft Hood, Texas last date. God bless them all.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

We had sleet today



Well our weather was supposed to be nice this week but not by what we saw today. We had sleet for a few minutes early today. You could see the little pieces of ice on the deck. Luna loved it, this is probably the first time she has been really cool all summer. Then the sun popped out and it warmed up to about 60 degrees. The clouds really looked like some kind of winter weather. By the way,I ain't ready for winter.

Stella

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Nice fall weather

We have been having some really nice fall weather for the past few days. Although it is a little bit on the cool side the sun is so nice and warm. I went outside today to let my chickens out of the building to forage for some bugs that were out to enjoy the warmth of the sun. The chickens came out of their building and it was like they all took a deep breath and just stood for a bit soaking up the warmth of the fresh air. Some of them laid down and stretched out their wings like they were sunbathing. When the birds get to run out during the day they eat about half the amount of feed. And the eggs of the pullets are a deep orange color and very rich. Just like farm fresh eggs should be.
I was sitting here today thinking about some things that I need to get done while we have some pretty weather. IF I can get someone to haul some wood chips for me to use as mulch in the herb bed, I think I can use one hand to move and spread the chips around. I am fairly sure I am going to hear a lot of static from this thinking but such is life. And if we can use the tractor and potato plow to get the sweet potatoes out of the ground I can use one hand to pick them up. I would sure hate to see them go to waste. Out Irish potatoes didn't do any good because of all the damage done by the Colorado potato beetle so we are buying potatoes. We did find a good price of $11 for 50 lbs at a local store. So the safest bet for us is to buy a few bags to put in the root cellar while they are cheap. Maybe some of the projects will get done with the nice weather that is to stick around the rest of the week. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Monday, November 2, 2009

Slow progress

I feel like I have slept for a few days, well I guess I kinda have. Had a good deal of pain in my elbow after surgery and took pain meds although not as often as prescribed and just tried to rest. Now my mind is rested and ready to move but the arm says "no, not yet". This being inside for the past 4 days is just about enough. Am told I will have to suck it up and take a little more time. I still have a lot of pain in my arm and have little use of it at this point but it is making slow progress. Not so sure how I am going to tolerate this 6 to 8 week recovery. Might need a padded room before long.
The weather has been really nice the past few days. It warms up nicely during the day but gets a bit brisk at night. Tomorrow is supposed to have highs in 50's with low tomorrow night of 33. That's real close to freezing and we still have some sweet potatoes in the ground. They have been covered over with vines from the other plants so they should be good as long as we don't have a hard freeze.
We do need to get some nest boxes built in the chicken house for the new pullets. They are starting to lay now. All be it just a few of them, but all of them didn't mature at the exact same time I guess. It will be nice to have a good supply of fresh eggs again.
Am going to try and persuade someone here to haul some wood chips for me sometime this week or weekend to mulch my herb bed, just one project I didn't get done before surgery. I think I can spread mulch with one hand. We still have a bunch of landscaping to do where we put the dirt back over the cellar to get it ready to seed and plant in spring. Just not enough of me to go around these days.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Winter is in the air

Winter is in the air this evening. We still have some rain falling and its quite chilly outside. Not that I have been out there much for the past few days. I have went as far as the front porch today. My surgery went well on my elbow but I am having a lot of pain. So with that I am taking a good deal of pain meds to help control that. So my days consist of sleeping and more sleeping. It will get better with some time and healing. I had doctors appointments for the 2 days prior to surgery. And at both facilities there were bunches of people there with the flu. At least 50% of the folks there had masks on. Not sure if it was for their own personal benefit or the benefit of others. The main stream media has caused so much un-necessary fear among people. This flu like all communicable illnesses can be halted by common sense cleanliness. But that's just my opinion.
I cant type long and use the right hand so this post will be short and sweet. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Am home after surgery

Well I have survived my elbow surgery and am home. Rob had me home by noon today, the surgery didn't take too long but the doc was late getting there due an auto collision in his neighborhood. I was still out of surgery by 9 am and on my way home by 10. I am doing OK, just having some pain and doc said I would have for several days. A friend is coming to sit with me tomorrow and hopefully after that I will be safe alone. I guess the meds they gave me in surgery are still making me a little dizzy when I stand. Am also starting to feel some pain and soreness all the way to my shoulder. I will survive this too I think.

I did have a nice surprise this evening when we fed my young pullets. One of them had laid their first egg. Yah for them. They are only 4 and 1/2 months old. So I am happy to know they will be laying good very soon. Now we need nest boxes for them. Farm fresh eggs are a must at this place. After all what is a farm without fresh eggs?

I got a call from Jason out there on the road and he probably wont be home till Thanksgiving. Dang I miss having him around. I got no one to fuss at now. lol I think Rob is coming back home this weekend, maybe on Sunday to help out here on the farm. We still have 3 more rows of sweet potatoes to dig and the bread corn to pick. Not sure if it will be dry enough to do either this week.The weather was really nice today with temps in the low 70s and sunshine. Still nice out for night too.

OK it time for more pain control, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On the road

Not much getting done on the homestead this week with the rain and all my doctors appointments. Did get my dark Cornish ran on Craig's list for sale so am hoping I can move them pretty soon. Takes a lot of feed to keep 28 birds happy.
I feel like I have been on the road all day. Had an appointment with orthopedic surgeon today, kinda a pre-op thing so he could tell me what to expect with my surgery tomorrow. Then back home to pack and then go to my son Robs house for the night. He is the one taking me to surgery tomorrow. Not really looking forward to not being able to use my right arm for at least 2 weeks. But maybe the pain will cease. Am thinking this is going to be a long winter.
The rain finally stopped last night and today was fairly nice. But it is rather cold out this evening. We got to Richmond early enough to have dinner at Red Lobster. I think I got my shrimp fix for a while.
Got to get up early so guess I am off to bed. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It rained again

I had big plans for getting some stuff done today in the yard. Had a doctors appointment this morning and thought I would get to work when I got home but that didn't happen. It started to rain as I left the doc's office and has rained all afternoon. The weather man said it will dry out some tomorrow but I wont get much done then as I have another doctors appointment in the morning and will be going to my son Rob's house for the night. He will be the one taking me to the surgery center on Thursday for my surgery. Not looking forward to this at all. It means I wont be able to do any thing in the yard for quite a while.
The rain today really cooled things off around here. Kinda chilly and damp in the house. A fire sure would feel good. Its getting to the time of year when we need to move some firewood closer to the house for quick use. There is nothing as comforting as a nice fire in the fireplace when ya have someone to share it with.
I will try to keep up with my blogging after I get home from surgery. Not sure how that will go, guess I can get used to typing with one hand. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Monday, October 26, 2009

Finally done canning chicken

I finally got done caning chicken this evening. I sorta got a late start but it took all day. I had 3 canners full to process. There were 17 quarts of chicken, 11 quarts and 8 pints of stock. I canned some of the stock in pints because I use it to cook lentils. All beans and legumes need to have animal fats cooked in them to unlock all the nutrients for the human body to absorb. Spent the day outside while the canner was going just doing odd jobs that I want to get finished before I have surgery on Thursday. I did reorganize the root cellar to better fit my needs. And while I was doing this I was thinking of a Tom and Jerry cartoon I had seen some time ago. In the cartoon Tom was locked in the house and had only 1 can of food ad Jerry hid the can opener. That's how I will feel after surgery. I have all this canned food and will only have use of one hand and wont be able to open jars. As my friend Jen would tell me "you are a mess. Got more projects to complete tomorrow so off to bed I go. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Done butchering

As of today I am done butchering chickens for the year. We got the dark Cornish roosters butchered today and I also butchered off my old laying flock of black australorps. There was a total of 16 birds. They were done laying and molting and the Cornish will be laying about the same time the australorps would have started back so they are headed for the stew pot. I am still pressure cooking some of the chicken parts for stock as I write this. Got one canner full done and strained and one cooking now. Am going to strain that one and put the stock in the refrigerator and can it tomorrow. I have my water bath canner full of the legs, thighs, and breast meat to can tomorrow also.
When I ordered the dark Cornish this year, I ordered 10 pullets and 25 straight run chicks. And of the straight run only about 10 were roosters. I guess if I had ordered just the 25 straight run I would have likely ended up with no pullets. But now I have too many. Such is my luck. So I think I will offer about 10 of the pullets for sale with one rooster. They are too good a bunch to butcher for meat. And besides I will have enough meat canned to do for quite some time. So I'm off to strain the stock and then hit the bed. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A beautiful fall day

The weather was just beautiful today here in the hills of East Kentucky. Warm enough to make working outside so nice. I got out and spread some compost on the asparagus and onion bed so I can work it into the soil and then put on the mulch. Maybe tomorrow evening I will get the rest of the compost spread on the herb bed and strawberries and prep them for the mulch as well. I got a lot of cleanup work to do before next Thursday when I have surgery on my elbow. Am thinking that will put the kibosh on my working in the yard and gardens around here. At least this fall. Tomorrow I will be butchering the rest of the dark Cornish and all the old laying flock if Black Australorps. Then I will can the meat and probably freeze some as well. But its now or never to do the butchering as it will be late in November before I could be able to do that stuff and a little too cold for my liking to be outside butchering.
When I was on vacation I stopped in central Kentucky to spend a few days with my friend Rosie and her hubby Sam and she sent me home with a large brown grocery bag of sage leaves to dry. I have those on window screens in the kitchen now but am thinking I will put them in the dehydrator to speed the process so I can get them ground and stored before my surgery. Might be a little hard to crank an herb grinder with one hand. While I was there she taught me to make Oatmeal soup. I was a little apprehensive at first due to the fact that the only way I had ever had oatmeal was as a cereal. It is very economical and so darn good. So for the benefit of some other friends who had ask for the recipe I will post the instructions just as Rosie told me to make the soup. So here is Rosie's German Oatmeal soup:

1 med. onion minced
1 cup oatmeal
2 tablespoons of oil
about a quart of water
1 bouillon cube
Swiss cheese
fresh chives
black pepper to taste
2 whole eggs

Put oil or butter in kettle and saute minced onion till it gets golden. Dump in the oatmeal and stir to toast the oatmeal. Add water and bouillon cube and simmer till it thickens a little and the oats are done. Just before serving break the eggs in the soup and stir to break the yolks and mix the eggs into the soup. Similar to egg drop soup. Simmer a few minutes to cook the eggs. Season to taste with pepper. Ladle into serving bowls and shred Swiss cheese on top, sprinkle with chives and enjoy. I know it sounds strange but is so good and filling. I don't eat cheese and I really enjoyed this soup. Thanks Rosie. Great when you want something hot and comforting for dinner.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Friday, October 23, 2009

Got a few things done

I managed even with the rain to get a few chores done outside today. My rosemary plants are in pots and in the house for the winter, as are the aloe. I also potted some of the chives and parsley and brought them in to see if they will do well in the house so we can have them fresh this winter. The day started out with rain and in early afternoon it was sunny and quite breezy. Just really nice to be outside. I sure hope the ground dries a little this weekend so I can mulch the asparagus bed and herbs for winter. I dug some horseradish today as well. And dang those roots are huge and very straight. Should make them easier to peel.
While I was away on vacation the guys got the solar panel installed on the root cellar so we now have solar lights in there. Those will come in handy if we need to use the cellar during storm season.
All and all it has been really quiet around here today. Jason, my oldest son is working again driving a truck so he is not here like usual. But he does call and email photos of where he is. Guess in a way I get to see the country from the windshield of a rig. Kinda cool eh?
Rob, my youngest called home today as well to see if I was back from vacation. Sure was wishing he and his girlfriend Amoy could come home this weekend to help butcher chickens. But they both have to work so that kinda leaves us to do the butchering ourselves. I have about 20 birds to butcher and can this weekend. Makes me tired just thinking about all that work. But it will sure be good when they are on the table. Maybe I will just get some sleep for now. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Home at last!

Well I finally made it home today, well this afternoon. Got home just in time to get the truck unloaded and Jason had to load up his stuff and head out to his new job. He is finally on the road driving a truck again. I am so happy for him to have found a job in these tough times but I know I will miss him being here all the time too. He is really doing what I have always wanted to do, truck drive and see the country. Maybe I can just live that dream through him. Robert, the youngest will graduate college in December and move on to make a life for himself. We are so proud of him for sticking with it and graduating college. Darn it seems like only yesterday they were both just little boys. This growing up sure does make it hard for momma.
Am glad to be home but I had a really good vacation with family and friends. Got to spend time with my aunt in western Kentucky and some friends there. Then on the way home stopped off to visit some friends in the central part of the state. I always enjoy time at Sam and Rosie's place, and she is such a wonderful cook. Last evening she taught me to make oatmeal soup. OK I know it sounds odd to most folks but you just have to trust me, it is really good and filling. Just hits the spot on a cool fall evening.
Tomorrow I will be trying to get some things done here on the farm before it rains again. I have some plants that need to be potted and brought in before heavy frost kills them. My rosemary for one thing has to be potted. If I get an early start I might get that done before it rains. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Just relaxing



As you are aware I have been on vacation this week and have enjoyed it. I stayed last night at the guest house on the lake. Got up this morning and the sun was shining for the first time in a week. Was a beautiful peaceful setting watching boats and barges go by on the lake and enjoy my morning coffee. The temps are rather nice too for a change. Mid 60's here today in western part of the state. I guess tomorrow I will head in the general direction of home. But will make another stop half way there to visit some friends and spend the night with them before heading on home. I know I have lots to do when I get home. Only have a week to get all caught up and have surgery on the 29Th of October. Not looking forward to that at all.
Enjoy the photos and till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead on the road.

Stella