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Friday, July 31, 2009

More rain equals more mud

We got more rain last night and here at our place that equates to more mud, everywhere. The garden was very soft today but there is stuff to pick regardless. Finished one lil patch of corn and got it in the freezer. The cukes are about done for the season so there were only a few of them. I did pick more young zucchini to mix with the cukes to make bread and butter pickles. When they are done you cant tell the difference. Think tomorrow is the day to deal with the tomatillos. The plan for them is salsa of some sort
Both my boys were here today and the youngest with his girlfriend so we had roast chicken for supper. Well really 2 of em. We just fixed veggies from the garden to go along with the chicken. The only thing on the table that was not home grown was the wild rice. That makes for a very satisfying meal.
During our plunders in the garden today I noticed some really pretty flowers in the grass. I was so happy to find it was passion fruit vines. There are bunches of them in our field, so the guys have been ordered, No Bush hogging that area. Now I'm thinking jelly, or maybe some juice. Just never know around here. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Some canning done

For the past few days I have been catching up on the canning after being gone for a few days. We made 7 pints of barbecue sauce and 5 pints of pickled jalapeno peppers and made some hot sauce with a few varieties of hot peppers. The hot sauce really bites back.
Today I picked sweet corn and put 28 quarts in the freezer off the cob. The freezer is almost full. This gives me a sense of security knowing we will have food in the event things in our country go south in the near future. The root cellar is almost complete and next will be building the shelves to hold all the home canned foods and bins for storing potatoes and other root crops. This is the time of year when all we do is can and preserve for later use. So goes life on the homestead. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More vacation pictures

1.Elephant seals
2.Pacific ocean off Hwy 1
3.Marine layer in back ground from Santa Lucia Mtns.
4.Seals at Monterey Bay
5.Jelly Fish at Monterey Bay

Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sharing my vacation

A few pics to share my vacation with you all. Had a wonderful time and really enjoyed the scenery off the beaten path in California.
1. Monterey beach, very cold.
2.Pinnacles National Monument
3.James Dean Memorial
4.West Hills Central Valley
5.Mojave desert

Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I'm back and busy

Today was my first full day back from vacation. I had a really great vacation. Spent a lot of time driving the back roads and seeing the sights in the great state of California. I really had planned on blogging from the west coast but somehow that did not work out for me. Guess I got busy having fun. I will post some pics from my trip in a second post today. The scenery was beautiful.

But back at home today there was the garden to get to. The tomatoes plants have been ravaged by blight and the tomatoes are scarce but we did pick about 1/2 bushel for salsa. Last evening when I first got home Jason went with me to see what all would need to be picked in the garden today. Sure didn't count on the tomatillos producing so much. We started checking them and by time we got done checking we had picked a half bushel basket of them, and there will be that many more a little later. They will be salsa of some sort. The cabbage are ready, the taters need to be dug, more corn to harvest and squash to deal with. Not to mention the peppers have really out done themselves, little watermelons and cantaloupes are all over the place.
We pickled some jalapeno peppers this afternoon and started a batch of barbecue sauce to can. The cucumbers are almost done so we only had a few to make a quart of dill pickles from.
As we headed out to check on the wild blackberries we noticed the cats had something cornered under the edge of the flower bed. We thought snake and decided to poke at it with a metal fence post that was lying there. It finally stuck its head out enough for Jason to get a shot with the .38 and rat shot. It was a good sized copperhead. I am thinking it was a female that was about to give birth as it was rather fat in the middle. Did I mention I hate snakes? Well I do. We have killed more snakes this year than I have seen in many years on this farm. After disposing the snake we did go pick about a half gallon of blackberries. Got those in the freezer to make jam a bit later when I have less to do from the garden.
I was so pleased to find my root cellar nearly complete when I returned home. We will have to wait about 2 weeks for the concrete to cure before we can cover it up. Am looking so forward to using it for all the good canned stuff and root crops.
I think I will give it up for the day, its been a busy one. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cellar and summer kitchen started

Well we had the excavation work done for the root cellar about a week ago and now are in the process of getting it poured and the summer kitchen built. The footers are poured for the root cellar and the slab is poured for the summer kitchen. The contractor was here today forming up the walls of the cellar so they can be poured later this week. And hopefully the building can start on the summer kitchen also later this week. The root cellar will do double duty as food storage and a storm shelter. The inside dimensions will be about 6-1/2 ft X 10-1/2 ft. Should be ample storage for all the home canned food plus storage bins for root crops such as potatoes. My hopes are to be able to post pictures of the project as it progresses along so maybe it will give others some ideas for their safe food storage.
The summer kitchen will be a multi-function building. It will be used to start seedlings in the spring and for canning and drying in the summer and butchering anytime in between. It will measure 8ft X12 ft. I have a propane burner unit that will be used for canning and cooking when the power is off. I hope to obtain some kitchen cabinets before I come home after my vacation.
While I was out checking out the projects I walked past the brooder house and spotted a snake. And dang I hate those things. And no, snakes are not my friends. When my friends are crawling on their belly you can bet there has been alcohol involved. I yelled "snake" and Jason came out and did his usual, stepped on the snake and cut its head off with his knife. It was a big cow snake. I know they eat mice and such but they scare the heck out of me when I am not expecting them to appear, so they are better dead to me. It was about 5 ft long. Now I probably need mouse traps.
I will be blogging from the west coast next week. Am going on a trip to California for a week and will post pics to share my trip with you all. This is going to be a wonderful trip and good experience. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Busy not doin much

Today I have managed to stay busy not doing much. Had a few personal errands to run this morning then on to the garden this evening. Dug some potatoes to cook tomorrow. Picked almost 1/2 bushel green beans, found a few ripe tomatoes. I had a few peppers that were big and picked those off too. Went through the cucumber vines again and pick several that are too large for pickles, so I may use those and the peppers and some onions and maybe make some sweet relish tomorrow. Also got enough pickling size to make 5 more quarts of dill pickles.
The cabbage heads are starting to firm up and I have some of those to turn into something tasty also. But I am thinking canned red cabbage would be really pretty too. Maybe red sauerkraut would be nice too.
My new addition to the garden this year is tomatillos. I have never grown them before but a dear friend sent the seed to me and I planted them. Now I am going to be looking for good canning recipes to use those as well. That should be an interesting concept. But they are so cute growing, they look like little paper lanterns. From my reading they are best picked when the paper like husk just cracks open. We shall see.
With my early sweet corn being a loss, we had replanted more in the garden. I is about 8 inches tall and doing really well. Got the fertilizer on it tonight and Jason, my oldest son plowed it out. It looks so much better. I have high hopes for some late sweet corn. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ah, more rain!

We had more rain showers today. Not really a good time for us though. We still had lots of loose dirt from all the dozer work in back of the house where we are going to build a root cellar. And rain on loose dirt equals lots of mud.
Got in the garden before the rain and got more cucumbers to make more pickles. I am sure the rain we got later will make them grow even more. Rob, my youngest son, picked some squash and peppers to take home with him.
The old fashioned white corn is almost twice my heigth. It is just starting to tassel out. The open pollinated varieties just did better this year. So we should have lots of corn to grind this fall. The cornmeal is just far superior to the store bought stuff.
The wild blackberries are ripening good here so I did get some of those picked today and put in the freezer. So I can decide later what I want to make with them.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Another day in paradise

Its been another slow day here on the homestead. Got out this afternoon and picked about a half gallon of wild blackberries for jam. Even with all the rain of this season the berries are not as juicy as I was hoping but are still very tasty.
All the onions are now sliced and drying for onion flakes for later use. Not many people know you can get a bushel of onions in a gallon jug, but I know it can be done, I have seen me do it. That is about the amount you will get from a bushel of dried onions. Guess that's why they are rather pricey in the grocery stores. I had several stalks of celery left from stock making at chicken butchering time and decided to slice that and dry it also. Surprisingly celery don't take very long to dry brittle, only a few hours in the dehydrator. Shuck beans I prefer dried in the sun. Just don't care for the green color of ones dried in a food dehydrator. Maybe I'm just too set in my old fashioned ways. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Nothing big happening

If there was anything big happening in the world today, then I missed it. Not a lot happening here on the homestead. The usual mowing the yard, mowing around barns and out buildings with the bush hog. I did pick more squash today that were grated and put in the freezer for zucchini bread and squash fritters. Picked off some more peppers to encourage the plants to produce more. Some of the peppers that were sold to me as sweet were actually hot. But only mildly so, and those got chopped to use in salsa later. Made several more quarts of dill pickle slices and made some sweet relish from some of the cukes that had gotten too big to use for pickles.
This has surely been a summer of learning in the garden. I planted Kentucky Wonder bush beans again this year. The plants were small and I was thinking they would not produce much at all. I am glad I didn't till them under and plant over. The Kentucky wonder bush beans are slow to start producing but they continue to grow and are great producers. So if you plant this variety and get a little discouraged with them, don't be, they will produce better than you first think.
All the rain we have had this year has caused a blight in the tomatoes. If caught early enough it can be treated. It is going to decrease my harvest drastically but I will have enough to more than replace the canned tomato products that we have used since last summer.
The sweet corn that tasseled out at about 3 ft tall has little ears of corn on it. They wont be very big but better little corn than no corn. Maybe we just need to count our blessings more often and complain less. If I live long enough I maybe will learn this lesson. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Making Zucchini Bread

Today I thought I would share my recipe for zucchini bread to store or as some call it, can in wide mouth pint jars. So here is the ingredient list:

3 cups plain flour
1 teas baking powder
1 teas baking soda
1 teas ground cinnamon
1 teas fresh ground nutmeg
1 cup finely chopped pecans
3/4 cup oil
1/2 cup apple sauce
3 whole eggs
2 cups white sugar
2 teas vanilla
3 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini

Prepare wide mouth straight neck pint jars by oiling well. Cut rounds of parchment paper to fit the bottom of each jar and oil this as well. Set jars on baking sheet or in a cake pan.
Preheat the oven to 350.
Combine the first 6 ingredients in large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. In separate bowl combine oil, eggs, sugar, vanilla and applesauce and blend well. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in zucchini and blend evenly. Pour batter about 1/2 inch above the half way point on the jars. Put in oven and bake for 1 hour, no less. Have jar flats and rings hot and when bread is done remove from oven and immediately screw on lids and bands. Will seal and I have had some of this bread in storage for 2 years and it is still perfect. This recipe will make about 7 pints. Also can be baked in 2 oiled and floured loaf pans.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Slowly but surely

The garden is finally starting to produce some veggies so I can get some canning done. Went to the garden today not expecting to find anything ready. Took 2 small buckets with me. And be darn I picked about 1/2 bushel of beans, not bad for the first real picking. Those were for making shuck beans. Just string them, wash and drain well and place on screen to dry in the sun.
Cut more little broccoli florets off the plants where the main broccoli head had already been cut. Guess its a good thing I decided to just leave the plants in the garden. Put about a gallon of broccoli in the freezer. And there will be more in a few days.
Picked more zucchini and summer squash. Will be making and canning zucchini bread tomorrow. Had too many things going today to do any baking. Picked enough cukes to make 2 quarts and 1 pint of dill pickle slices. I have way too many banana peppers. Picked enough to make 3 pints of pickled peppers. Also picked about a dozen bell peppers that were really big so the plants would continue to produce.
Was looking at the tomatoes and have got lots of green tomatoes. Then the thought struck, how about fried green tomatoes? So that's what I ate for supper. With the fried zucchini slices. Nothing like good fried food fried in lard.
While surveying the damage in the backyard from the dozer, I took a good look at the onion beds. The tops were drying and had fallen over so I decided to pull them and spread them out on the picnic table in the back yard. Was late getting the onions out this year and they didn't get too big but will still make good pickled pearl onions and maybe dry some. Got back out there today and peeled about half of them. Tomorrow I think I will make the pickled onions and slice the rest for drying into onion flakes.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

......And the rain came

As we all know just when ya least need or want rain you get it. We had a lot of dozer work done on the back side of the house to make way for a root cellar. Had tons of dirt disturbed and then the rains came down. Now we have mud where we did have a yard and hill. And now I have been told we may have to take out the deck till building is done and a retaining wall built. And I will probably lose the 2 flower beds that I have built in the past 10 years. All of them perennials too which are rather pricey. Not to pleased about this, but my choices are slim at this point. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Moving Mountains

We have been moving the mountain behind our house in order to build a root cellar there. I guess I didn't realize how much dirt there would be to move to build this thing. We still have use of the company dozer so that makes the task a lot cheaper by not hiring the work done. With all the soil disturbed now it is raining. That should make for an interesting day tomorrow to say the least. The root cellar will measure 8ft X 12ft when we are finished with it. That will be ample room to store canned goods and root veggies and still be able to use it for a storm shelter as well. Just makes a fellow feel a little safer when tornado warnings are issued. Hopefully I can document a picture account of things as they progress along on this project. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, July 3, 2009

Building a Bridge

On the homestead we have 2 very large river bottoms that have always been divided by a creek which was about 6 feet deep that drains a large area on the other side of the railroad tracks. Well today there was unity in the land as the fields were finally connected giving better access. We had purchased a 3 ft diameter corrugated plastic culvert pipe on sale really cheap and put it in the creek bed on a layer of sand and covered it with about 3 ft of dirt to build a bridge connecting the bottoms. We did have use of the company bulldozer so there was no expense there. Now we have easy access to the bigger field for farm implements and a nice area to build a shooting range. Now maybe we can get the excavation done for the root cellar while we have the dozer.
While in the field I visited the garden and picked some little cukes to make pickles. These are so easy to do, just pick and make dill pickles as you have the little cukes. On to see what is next. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Making Mulberry Jelly

Today was jelly making day on the homestead. A good friend had sent me some mulberries and I made some of the best tasting jelly. I can really understand why its not a good idea to make jam with mulberries, they have so many tiny little seeds, more than any other berry that I know.

First in the process was to extract the juice from the berries. I put the crushed berries and 1/2 cup of water in a large kettle and let them simmer for about 15 minutes. Then strained them through a double layer of jelly bags. I catch the juice in a large measuring bowl. Let the jelly bag drip for a few hours to get all the juice or the amount you need for the recipe. Do not squeeze or press the berries if you want the jelly to be clear, otherwise the tiny bits of pulp that are forced through the bag will make a cloudy jelly.

Measure out 9 cups of juice, add 1/2 cup of lemon juice (mulberries are very sweet) and stir in 2 pkgs of Sure Jell. Place on the heat and bring to a full boil, one that cant be stirred down. All at once add 13 cups of pure cane sugar and stir well. Bring back to a full rolling boil and boil for 2 minutes. Stirring constantly. Remove from heat and ladle into hot jars and put on lids and rings. When sealed this can be stored and enjoyed anytime of the year.
This recipe sets beautifully. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mulching tomatoes and other garden harvest

Today was a great day to work outside. The temps were in the upper 70's and low humidity. Got in the garden and pulled the beets and got them made into pickled beets.Pulled off the zucchini and yellow summer squash, brought them in and cubed and in the freezer for stir-fry. Picked off the green beans that were ready, finished stringing them, washed and drained to dry for shuck beans. Tomorrow the beans will be spread on a screen in the sun to dry till crisp. After drying I usually freeze them to prevent bugs from attacking.
We have saved shredded paper all winter and up till now to mulch tomatoes with. We have too many tomatoes to put cages around so we let the vines grow and when they start to fall over we go between 2 rows and spread the shredded paper on the ground and they guide the tomatoes to grow where the paper is spread. The paper shreds wont blow away in the breeze like sheets of paper will, but you can water it to hold in place if it gets to be a problem. Hopefully this will help the plants retain moisture and keep the fruits off the ground. Just really wish we got more junk mail. It makes good mulch if nothing else.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.