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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Started mulching

I finally got started mulching the ornamental plants in the yard today, getting them ready for winter. There is a wide place on the side of our county road where the tree trimming companies unload wood chip when they do tree trimming here in the area. This makes really good mulch for ornamental plants and as a bonus it free. All you have to do is take a pick-up truck and shovel and load up. My son went and got a load of the chips for me today and helped unload them so I could mulch the plants. I am taking out one flower bed and probably will make a rock patio on the back of the house. Some of the flowers taken out were put in other beds and at the west end of the house. Luna, our Great Pyrenees really helped with the digging process, but she wanted to dig where there was nothing to dig up. She was more interested in playing than any thing else. Now all I need to do is find some seed free straw to mulch grapes, strawberries, and asparagus with and the mulching will be done. That will have to wait till Friday, we have a dentist appointment out of town tomorrow and wont get anything done. While I am out I am going to be looking for paint to paint the interior of the old farm house so it will be move in ready. Did I mention I hate dentist appointments? Well I do, but its just one of life's little annoyances. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lose ends

Seems as though I have spent this day just finalizing little projects here at home. Finished cleaning the old farm house and getting it ready to paint. Picked the last of my bell peppers and got all the Serrano chilies off the plants to dry. I had planted a bunch of different gourds this summer in the garden and they had tons of gourds on the vines. Some of them appeared to be dry till you pick them up and if ya touch them the wrong way they shatter like paper. I went ahead and pulled some off that were still green and brought them in to see if they will dry or rot. Only time will tell.

The original plan was to go to the garden and pick some corn for the chickens. And in the process of looking at the 2 different varieties of open pollinated corn that we planted there is one trait with the Turners gold that I don't like. Normally on most varieties the ear will drop and hang down after the stalks start to turn brown and die. This variety does not. The Boone County White open pollinated will point down when the stalks start to dry. This a something I like to see in the corn I intend to keep for making cornmeal. When the ears hang down and the fall rains, which we are starting to have, the rain water don't collect in the shuck and make the corn sprout and rot in the field. I noticed all the white corn was hanging down and the yellow ears were still upright. When we picked the yellow for the chickens most all the ears had water at the base of the cob and had started to sprout or were molding. So in conclusion the yellow is OK for feed but the white is best for drying and making cornmeal. Wont be long till the white corn is hard enough to make hominy. And that I intend to do this year. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, September 28, 2009

This is the view

I spent the day today again cleaning the old home place. This is taking longer than I thought it was going to. But as anyone who has done any painting or cleaning in the house knows it is a lot easier to do when the house is empty. So I washed walls and cleaned base boards today. This evening I decided to tackle the range and get it in a decent shape. That took some elbow grease that I didn't have to spend. Came back to my house and fixed dinner, ate a little and went back to wash kitchen cabinets. They looked so nice once they were cleaned and had lemon oil on them. I got to thinking again about my family that had built the house and took notice to the views from some of the windows. I am fairly certain now that they gave some real thought in window placement. The windows now may be new but the view is the same as it has been for years. One window looks out toward the big field where the family always raised corn, maybe my grandmother would look see when the menfolk were heading out of the fields to come in for lunch. And another window could give them a view of the old apple orchard. Yet another has a view to where the milk cows were kept. And the windows on the east end of the house gives a good view of the road so you knew when company was coming. I remember as a child looking out the windows and every one of them gives you a view of a part of the farm. Really you can look out and keep watch on most of the place in the safety of home. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Its that time

Its the time of year when you get up in the mornings and need long sleeves and then off they go in mid day, then back on in the evenings. I love this time though. Just a comfortable time to work outside and get lots done.
We have spent all day working on the old home place trying to get it cleaned up and ready to rent. And as I worked and cleaned, I couldn't help thinking how my family before me had felt or how they lived when they were there. There are no doors in those old houses. You just move from one room into the next. I just wonder if my grandparents really gave any thought to where the windows were and the views from each or did they just put windows randomly in place. There were 6 kids raised in the house, 2 boys and 4 girls, and the way is see the floor plan, there are really only 3 bedrooms. Did 4 girls use one room? Or was private space as important then and we seem to think it is now? Maybe we just have more stuff which equates to less space for people. Maybe now days we build our homes to hold stuff and not to function for people as much. Oh well it was just my mind wondering again. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Well its raining again

We are getting more rain this evening like we have every evening this past week. But there are still chores to do and get ready to settle in for fall and winter. I have a rental house here on the farm that the tenants have moved out of. And as most people who have owned rental knows they usually leave a mess. Not to mention the past unpaid rent. So today I got started picking up trash in the house and bagging up clothes and such that was left behind. That all goes in storage for a while. The son used the pressure washer on the siding and porch and it looked really nice. Maybe by the weekend we can get finished with all the cleanup and be ready to rent the house again. This house is the one here on the farm that I was raised in so it does hold a lot of memories for me. Although my dad had it remodeled while he was still living, and it went through a fire and was remodeled again. Its still your typical old farm house, the one my grandfather built. During the last remodeling process I got to see what the walls were made of and was pleasantly surprised. The walls are rough sawed 2 by 4's and most of them are oak. The walls have 1 inch boards on the inside and out side the wall studs. Now on the outside is also a layer of insulation and vinyl siding, so its pretty well insulated. We put drywall on the inside to finish it out. It now has propane heat, but when I was growing up we had a fireplace in the living room, a huge wood heating stove in the hall way and a wood cook stove in the kitchen. Wouldn't it be so nice to have those back. But for now they are just memories. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

The fall season

The fall season here is a beautiful time of year to be outside and enjoy. The air is cooler and things seem to have slowed to a crawl. The day started warm and humid, the kind that drains all your energy. Then the afternoon we got more rain showers as fall will do and a cool down. It has been one of those days when you know you need to be doing something but you are just not sure what. So I have just stayed inside all day and did some general cleaning and laundry. The weather changes make the body hurt more than usual, so maybe I will just do nothing for the day and see what tomorrow holds. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Making blackberry jam

Back in the summer I had picked some blackberries and then didn't have the time to make the jam. I thawed the berries last night and made the jam today. Much to the amazement of some of my friends, I am not the organized person the some would lead you to believe. Some of the berries I thawed were wild black raspberries instead of blackberries. None the less they make good jam. In the jam recipe I use 5 cups of crushed blackberries and 1 pkg of sure-jell. Heat this to boiling and bring to hard rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Boil for 1 minute then add 7 cups of sugar and stir well. Bring back to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down and boil hard for 1 minute more, most times mine boils for 2 minutes or more depending on how long it takes the kettle to cool down after I remove it from the heat. Ladle into hot jars to within 1/2 inch of the top and put on hot lids. Let seal. I have a total of 6 pints and 9 1/2 pint jars of jam. And of course a sample proved it was delicious and it does have a slight hint or wild raspberry flavor. Or if you want to seal with paraffin, you can melt the paraffin in a double boiler or a small bowl wet over a pan of hot water then spoon the melted paraffin on top of the slightly cooled jam or jelly and then put on lid of any kind and set aside. This method is not used much any more due to the USDA canning and preserving guidelines. But I have used it to seal jams and jellies in years past with excellent results. If it worked for our grandmothers, I am inclined to think it will still work for us. But that's just my opinion. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A successful canning day

I have had a very successful day of canning today. I went to the garden early today and cut the mustard and turnip greens. The cooler nights make the greens tender and less bitter than those grown in hot weather. I usually just take a big plastic tub and a knife and take hands full of the green tops and cut them off. This way you don't get all the grit and debris from the ground not to mention the weeds and grass. The bonus is the greens will grow back in a couple weeks and can be cut again for an extended harvest right up to winters hard freeze. But this is the back breaking part of the job, although the washing wasn't that easy for me either. I wash the greens in 3 changes of water and then put then in a kettle of fresh water to wilt down before packing them into the jars. My total for today was 6 quarts and 11 pints of greens canned.
I guess this motivated me to get my blackberries out of the freezer to thaw to make blackberry jam tomorrow. Maybe for dinner I can make some homemade biscuits and try the jam.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, September 21, 2009

A jam recipe -Pina Colada Jam

This is a recipe for a jam that is so good on anything. This stuff would make card board taste good. Give it a try an tell me I am wrong. Enjoy!

Pina Colada Jam

3 1/2 cups fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and pureed
1 cup of Cream of Coconut(Coco Lopez brand)
(this is unsweetened cream of coconut not coconut milk)
1/3 cup light rum(I use coconut rum)
1/4 cup lemon juice
6 1/2 cups sugar
2- 3oz pks liquid pectin
1 teaspoon butter

Clean pineapple and puree it in a food processor. Put in heavy kettle, and add cream of coconut, rum, lemon juice and butter and stir well. Stir in the sugar and mix and bring to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Stir constantly and boil hard for 5 minutes. Stir in pectin and bring back to rolling boil and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim the foam. Ladle in to hot jars leaving 1/4 inch head space, put on hot lids. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes, remove and let seal.
This stuff is awesome on zucchini or banana nut bread, or just plain bread.
This makes about 8 half pint jars of jam.

All the canned stuff is in the root cellar finally. Not bad for a country girl eh?

Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Its done!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Finally the root cellar is done, the shelves built in and we got all the home canned stuff in there today. Each shelf is 21 inches deep and 40 inches long and each one will hold about 50 quarts. They are all pretty well full at this point.There is room to store pressure canners, empty jars, and all essential canning supplies. We still will be building more shelves on the other side to hold more canned foods in the near future. I have several gallon jars to use for dried stuff as well. This will also be used for an emergency storm shelter so there will be a couple chairs in there and some things that could be needed in the event of some sort of emergency. Now I have some extra storage in the house for things like boots, the sweeper, cleaning supplies and such. The inside of the old pantry needs a fresh coat of paint and I will be all set for now. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Making cushaw or pumpkin butter

Finished the pumpkin or should I say cushaw butter today. It tastes like pumpkin when the sugar and spices are added to it and cooked down. I peeled 2 big cushaws yesterday and cut them onto cubes. Cooked them in batches for about 30 minutes in a pressure cooker then used a stick blender to puree them. Added sugar to taste and cinnamon with some fresh ground nutmeg and put all in the crock pot set to low for about 10 hours. This morning it was nice and thick with a good dark color. While the butter was bubbling hot I ladled it into hot pint jars and put lids on. Should be water bathed for 20 minutes, but if you know me, I dont water bath this type stuff. I ended up with 9 pints and 5 half pints.This might make some tasty Christmas gifts for a few good friends. I still have about 6 cushaws left so maybe I will get inspired to make another batch.
We had gotten the lumber to build the shelves in the root cellar so we got started on that. Got all the uprights in place and tomorrow we can put in the supports for the shelves themselves. Then I can get them painted and ready to use. Then comes the big task of moving all the canned stuff out there. But that's another day. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Fall is evident

As I was out today checking on the chickens and looking at the garden beds out back it didn't take long to notice that fall is evident everywhere. The trees are dropping some leaves and the weeds are loosing theirs. The grass is short but has made little seed heads due to the cooler weather. Maybe we will mow one more time this season. Its time to start mulching some of the beds for cold weather.
The mustard and turnip greens I planted a few weeks ago are ready to cut and can, so maybe that's a project for tomorrow. Also need to pick some more of the damaged corn to feed to the chickens. They can somehow tell the difference between the store bought corn and our own fresh picked dry field corn. They just wont eat the store stuff since I started giving them a little of the new stuff.
Time to edge our way into winter. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Just stuff

I spent the day just doing mundane stuff. Cleaning the chicken house and putting in fresh bedding and having the manure hauled to the garden and spread. Also worked in the asparagus bed and got the weeds and grass out of it and ready for mulch. Same with the bed that contains the walking onions. The strawberries are ready for mulch too.
Back to the house, the dog has tracked mud on the deck and front porch from being under the deck where it cooler. So I got a bucket and soapy water and gave both of those a good scrub for what ever good that will do. At least they will be clean for a little while.
The daytime temperatures here are perfect for working outside. Highs in the 70's during the day and 50's at night. Beautiful fall weather with the leaves starting to fall. We are supposed to get rain tonight in our area. If we don't I think I will spend tomorrow cleaning up the rental property and getting it ready to rent again. If we do get rain it will be a good day to stay in and make pumpkin butter to can. But that's all for another day. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Its been a while

It has been many years since I had a chance to run the farm tractor or put up hay. But today I had my chance. Jason and I had the task of raking and picking up some hay to stack for use in the chicken houses this winter and to spread over grass seed when we get the dirt put back in place over the root cellar. It was finally dry enough to store today so we headed off the the field with the truck and tractor to rake. With my prior back injury he decided he didn't want me riding on the team drawn hay rake and operating the lever so I was told I had to drive the tractor while he did the lever work. OK so its been 20 years since I had to drive the tractor. After a quick refresher course in the tractor operating department we were off. It didn't take long to get the hang of it. I sure was nice to be able to do that again. Then we were down to the manual labor part of picking up the hay. Jason used a pitch fork to throw the hay in the truck and my job was to walk in it to pack it in a little bit so we could haul more and it didn't blow out on the way to where we were going to stack it. I remember doing this for my dad when I was a little girl. Its been a good 35 years and if memory serves me it was a lot more fun back then. And maybe shorts and tennis shoes were not such a good idea to work in hay. But we did get enough stacked to last the winter for the birds and what ever else we need it for. All done without expensive equipment, the old fashioned way. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More progress

We made a little more progress on the root cellar today. The water proofing was applied to the outside on all the walls. After a bit of drying time the drainage ditch was cleaned out and the drain pipe put in and covered over with gravel. Then a layer of hay was put on top of the gravel to prevent silt from sifting down through the gravel and plugging the drain line. Now if we get rain it should drain away from the cellar and not be able to seep in. Hopefully we can get it back filled soon.
If we don't get rain tomorrow we will be picking up some more of the hay that was cut and raked. It will be loose stacked to use for bedding in the chicken house and if there is enough we will use some to spread over the grass seed on the hill in back of the house after we get the cellar covered over. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Another full day

Today was another busy one for us here. This morning I got the remainder of the chicken stock canned and all that I have canned has sealed. You know stock is good when you can refrigerate it and it jells like jello. It had to be heated before I could put it in the jars to process. But its all done.
This afternoon I got started painting the root cellar on the inside. We had only bought 1 gallon of epoxy paint and that did the four walls. Then the son was off to the local hardware store to purchase another one. Lucky it was half price. Just happened to be a lighter color which was OK. I used a roller to put the paint on and lined my paint tray with aluminum foil for easy clean up. Good thing too because the paint really adheres well. Got the ceiling and floor done and decided to also paint the back wall the lighter color to make the cellar a little lighter inside. This will also make it easier to clean and disinfect when the time comes.
Jason used the pressure washer to clean all the mud and debris off the footer that is exposed on the outside in preparation for the water proofing which he is going to put on tomorrow. After that dries a while then the drain line will be put around the base of the cellar and covered with a layer of gravel and then straw, which will be hay in our case. This prevents the dirt from sifting through the gravel and clogging the drain line over time. All this requires is a strong back and weak mind, and I am pretty sure we can handle that.
Here is a little treat that you may enjoy.

Fudge Batter Pudding

2 tablespoons butter melted
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour(plain)
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped nuts
5 tablespoons cocoa
1 2/3 cup boiling water

Mix butter, 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla together. Sift flour,3 tablespoons cocoa, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, add alternately to above mixture with milk. Mix well and add nuts and blend. set aside while you prep the pan.
Mix together the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, 5 tablespoons cocoa, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and boiling water. Pour this into a 10 by 6 inch baking dish. Drop batter by tablespoons full into pan on top of this mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. Serve warm. Sauce will thicken when it cools.
(This is like a brownie floating in hot fudge sauce, awesome with vanilla ice cream)
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

A full day

It has been a full hard day here today. We got an early start on the butchering this morning and got 20 black Australorps butchered. Ended up with about 10 large family meal bags in the freezer and 12 quarts of canned chicken and 10 quarts of canned chicken stock. The stock is very nourishing and is made from the bony pieces of chicken, skin and any fat from the birds with water, onion, celery, parsley, salt and pepper and a splash of vinegar cooked in pressure canner for about 2 hours. The stock is strained and canned. Some was used to cover the chicken that was being canned. The raw chicken is put into wide mouth quart jars with the stock to cover and processed in the pressure canner for 90 minutes at 10 lb. pressure. Nothing goes to waste at butchering time. After the stock is strained I save the cooked bones and vegetables and freeze in meal portions for the cats and puppy.These are the chicks I hatched in the incubator in June. They were 2 1/2 months old and had been free ranged for the past month. And they sure do make the best stock. I still have about 20 dark Cornish to butcher maybe next weekend. Then later when the Cornish pullets start laying the layer flock I have now will get butchered and it will all be canned as they are older birds.
The water proofing material got put on the cellar today too and a layer of roof felt. This should keep it nice and dry inside. Tomorrow we will be brushing on the water proofing material on the sides as well as painting the inside with a good coat of paint to make it easier to clean in the spring. Looks like tomorrow will be rather busy. That is if I can still move in the morning. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Odd jobs

Today was one of those days that we spent doing just odd jobs and bits and pieces of others. Finally got the remainder of the finish coat on the top of the root cellar and the vent pipe installed. Tomorrow hopefully the water proofing sealer will go on the top, then a layer of roof felt and a sheet of rubber roofing for added protection. Then the cellar should stay dry enough to paint the inside maybe Monday. And on Tuesday we will be taking up some hay that was cut today. This will be the time to use the hay rake that was fixed last week. Some of the hay will be used in the chicken houses for bedding and some will be used to layer on top of gravel that cover drain pipe around the base of the root. The rest will be loose stacked for use through the winter.
Got a little prep work done for the chicken butchering that will take place tomorrow. We will be putting 20 australorp roosters in the freezer and possibly some of the Cornish. This will drastically lower the feed bill. And lower bills are always a plus. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, September 11, 2009


Today is the 8th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on our country. Hard to believe it has been 8 years already. I was working for our local ambulance service at the time of the attacks and remember the crews at the station standing and as we watched the news on TV with a sick feeling in the pit of our stomachs. Many miles away our brothers and sisters were dying doing what we were sitting there just waiting to do. I have heard many people say that it takes a special breed to work Emergency services and after 14 of service I finally agree. You are trained and prepared to act methodically because there is not always time to stop and think. I truly don't think the general public realizes the risk and danger involved in the profession. You literally put your life on the line daily to protect life and property without as much as a blink of an eye. And for low pay and no thanks. So today for me is a day of reflection, a day to say a prayer for the loved ones left behind in those attacks and thank you to all the ones left who still serve. Blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

We got rain today

We got rain today in buckets full. We are still working on our root cellar and trying to finish it so we can back fill and get the hill side behind our house fixed back before the fall rains set in. That was not going to happen today. The plan was to try to finish the out side by filling in the holes left from the form anchors but it was giving rain so we didn't try that. We got the rain. The down pour caused water to run off the hill to the already filled in ditch behind the house and it over flowed. We had water running every where. And along with the water was the clay mud from the runoff. I got out with a hoe and shovel to try and open the drainage ditch to re-direct the water so it didn't run under the house. It was kinda cool to go barefoot and walk in the squishy mud. It has been many years since I could get away with that. At least I didn't have to ruin a good pair of boots and I am sure my feet got exfoliated. Then I was off to the rain barrel out back to rinse off the mud and come in and finish supper. Another day in the life. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Making progress

Well we are making some progress on finishing the root cellar. The guys got the interior ground out yesterday and today they were going to put a top coat of cement on to make the walls smoother. After taking a look at it they decided to just patch the holes where the forms were held together and leave it be. Those patches will be ground out and smoothed but it sure saved a lot of work. The plan was to get the outside patched today too but we got some heavy thundershowers this afternoon so the outside couldn't be finished. That will be done tomorrow if we don't get any more rain. After it dries for a few days then its my turn. I get to do the painting of the interior. Then shelving and bins will be put in, the outside will be water proofed, drain lines layed around the base to drain water away and then all will be back filled. One step at a time, one day at a time it all will get done. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Finally some rain

We finally got a little shower of rain today for the first time in a couple weeks. Not heavy rain but gentle fall showers to help the late garden crops along. The mustard and turnips are looking good so far and the little beets I sowed a few weeks ago are coming along too. Had enough rain to add a good bit of water to my rain barrels that I use to water the chickens too so no need to stretch the hose to the backyard.
Making progress on the root cellar as well. Got the concrete ground out and smoothed on the inside and pressure washed in preparation for the thin coat of cement that will hopefully be put on tomorrow. This should make the interior smooth and easy to paint. Then all that is left will be filling the holes left by the forms on the outside and waterproofing and back filling. Then we should be all set with a good root cellar and storm shelter.
Not much happening on the homestead this lazy Sunday. But was a nice cool pleasant day to be outside enjoying the fall air. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Finishing some projects

As the fall season fast approaches we are trying to get a few projects done that are a must before it gets too cold. The concrete work on the root cellar needs to be complete so we can get the sealer on and get it back filled. The contractor has pulled out without finishing the work and we need it to be done, so if you want something done right you do it yourself. That is the task for the next few days. There are some major rough spots that will have to be ground out and a thin coat of cement put on the whole thing inside and some patch work to do outside. Then we can get the sealer applied and then put all the dirt back on it and hopefully it will stay nice and dry and cool for storing canned foods and root crops.
The new strawberry bed that was in the plans needs to be started. I had planned on using the backhoe to move the large amount of dirt that it will need to fill it but looks like I will be using a shovel instead. Would be nice to get those moved so they can get set in good before winter. That's still a maybe.
I had planned on butchering some chickens this weekend but I think with all my help planning other things that will have to wait till next weekend. But they will eventually end up in the freezer and jars. But today when I was cleaning the outbuilding I pulled out a big tote that had clean ready to use jars in it. That is where most of my pint jars were this summer when I was buying jars thinking I had used all the pints. Now I need to find something to can in them. Humm, maybe jam or green tomato mincemeat would be good.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, September 4, 2009

New kid on the block and pear preserves

We have a new member of the family here on the farm today. We now have a Great Pyrenees puppy. She is 6 months old and already weighs 60 lbs. She is a sweet heart named Luna. She was introduced to the chickens when she got here and didn't get antsy about chasing or hurting them at all. And she don't mind the cats, but they are very uneasy around her. She has already let the cats know that they are not welcome to eat her food. This breed of dog are easily trained to care for animals and critters on the farm. This is why she is going to be a valuable asset here. Luna seems very content so far and I am sure much to the delight of her former owners. Thanks Eric and Crystal.
Some friends have ask me to post a recipe that I use for pear preserves. This recipe is very easy and delicious. So here goes.

Pear Preserves:

Pick pears from the tree a week or so before canning them as they do not ripen on the tree.
4 cups of pears, peeled, cored and sliced in small slices
2 cups of sugar

Let pears stand overnight covered with the sugar. In the morning put on low heat and cook slowly till thick and tender. They should be an amber color.
When the preserves are to desired thickness, ladle into hot pint jars leaving 1/4 inch head space and put on hot lids. Then you can process in hot water bath for 20 minutes.
I personally do not water bath jams, jellys, or preserves. But canning books recommend it.
*The liquid part of the preserves should be the consistency of warm honey. These have the richness of honey. Enjoy.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Trial run

Well as of yesterday the old team drawn hay rake on the farm had been fitted to pull behind the tractor. And all was well. Today we decided to take it to the field where we will eventually be using it to rake hay and give it a trial run. Jason and I were both very pleased to find that it worked like a charm. Of course there was a good bit of nostalgia for me to see it operate again. With the tines dropped down it rakes the ground clean, better than most tractor rakes that I have seen. Only thing with ours is that it requires a rider to operate the lever to raise the tines and dump the hay after you get a pile raked up. And I being the light weight was promptly volunteered. There is a seat for the operator to sit on, a foot pedal to assist with the lever to raise the tines at the appropriate times. I think I like this new toy too. So now we have a means to put up hay by loose stacking it if the time arises that we choose to for feeding livestock. We will be mowing some hay in a few weeks to stack loose for use in the chicken houses this winter as opposed to buying straw at 6 bucks a bale.
My dad was always one to take really good care of his tools and farm equipment. We checked the hubs on the hay rake and it still has grease packed in it that dad put there some 30 years ago and it is still clean and no need to repack. I think he would be rather proud of our ingenuity. God rest his soul. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Older is just as good

As I have stated before this little farm has been in the family for 4 generations. And a lot has changed in that time. When I was just a little girl I remember helping and being involved in what ever work was being done at the time.
I remember one time, I was about 10 years old, dad had mowed the fields and we didn't bail the hay at the time. He always used mules to farm with and we had all kinds of team drawn farm implements. He used the team drawn mower to cut the hay and the hay rake to rake it up. I remember he used a fork to throw the hay in a wagon behind the team and I was the little one so I got to jump around in the hay to pack it down a little and get more in the wagon. That has been 37 years ago. This hay rake is one of the first designs of a steel hay rake, made in the late 1800's and is still in good working condition. This equipment is still here even tho we don't have mules any more we now have a tractor. Jason and I decided last week that we could use the tractor mower to cut some hay we have and instead of paying someone to bail it, we will use the old team rake behind the tractor to rake the hay in rows then pick it up with a pitchfork and stack it that way to use in the chicken houses and just in case we come across some animals really cheap this fall. The hay rake didn't and a tongue in it to pull by so we came up with a plan. We used a landscape timber which is about 3" by 4" for the tongue. Then it was on to a way to hook it to the tractor. We used the metal hitch from an old team drawn cultivator on the end of the timber to hook it on the tractor draw bar. Worked like a charm. We haven't decided yet if someone is going to ride on the hay rake to raise the tines to dump the hay or if he will just stop the tractor and raise the tines and then drive on. I am sure it could be altered to raise the tines from the driver seat but we really don't want to change the design of the hay rake too much. Guess we will see how this works in a week or so when we get ready to take up hay.
The next project will be to fix the stalk cutter so we can pull it with a tractor to chop up corn stalks after we pick our corn before they are plowed under to rot. And its days like this that I am so thankful that my 2 boys got to spend time with their grandpa and know how the old things work here on the farm. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Seasonal work

The weather here today was great for working outdoors. Temps in the upper 70's with low humidity felt great. So I did manage to get a few things done that I had been putting off because it was so hot. The chicken house got cleaned out, the manure spread on the garden where it had already been mowed and waiting to be turned under. The chickens were happy with the new fresh straw. While we were in the garden spreading the manure we picked some of the open pollinated corn that we raise for cornmeal so we could feed the chickens that we intend to butcher. And it sure looks like we will have plenty for cornmeal this year and it is good size too. We have both Turners gold and Boone county white that will be ground. Of course some of it will be made into hominy too. It is hard enough to shell off for the birds but not dry enough to harvest yet. That will probably happen in late October before the fall rains that we are well known for set in.
I had to make a run into town today for a few things. On our road out 3 huge bucks crossed the road in front of me and they were very near my property. And just beyond those I spotted a young coyote on the road side. I was gone about 45 minutes and when I got back to my driveway the coyote was in the front yard. He made a hasty retreat into the weeds across the road. That made me a little nervous about letting my chickens out of the building. Needless to say I have been on the alert for the coyote all day. Haven't seen him as of yet but you can hear them howling at night very near our house. For them to be out in the open in the daylight I am thinking there must be a shortage of small game for them to hunt right now. But chickens will be hazardous to his well being.
My son ran the weed eater around all the outbuilding on the rental property today also. I don't like using spray chemicals on the place but it can get to be more than we can keep up with at times. So I did spray around the outbuildings and some areas that we cant get to with the bush hog and mower to kill the weeds and grass back before the fall forest fire season comes around. It has been a long busy day. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.