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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Finally got started

I finally got out today and got started getting some things ready for butchering tomorrow.I have the knives sharp and the salt cure mixed. That took a lil while. I had about a half gallon of dried cayenne peppers that needed to be ground. I started this in the food processor. Never mind trying that, it don't work to grind the seeds up. After crushing them in the food processor I had to grind them fine in the electric spice grinder. I was being extra careful not to get the fine dust on me but I did anyway. And then rubbed my eyes. Soap and water pretty much solved that issue. The salt cure recipe that I use is as follows:

6 lb salt
6lb brown sugar
1/2 cup cayenne pepper finely ground
1/2 cup black pepper

Mix all this together really well. I do recommend using rubber gloves to mix in the peppers as they will make your hands burn some.

This mixture will nearly fill a 12 quart dish pan to within about 2 inches of the top and should be sufficient cure to treat about a 300 lb hog. That is curing 2 hams, 2 shoulders, 2 sides of bacon and the jowl. Any salt left over can be stored in a dry place to use the next time we butcher hogs. OK so much for that.
The weather tomorrow is supposed to be beautiful. The temps are to be in the low 50's with night temps in the low 30's. Perfect for curing meat. It was nice out today as well. I actually went out today without a coat on. We are supposed to have rain and thunderstorms on Saturday tho when we will be rendering lard. That might be a bit tricky. Because you surely don't want to let any water splash in the cooking lard. It will cause an explosion and somebody will get burned. Don't need that happening.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Change of plans

The weather in winter can make you change plans for any out door activities. Our plan was to butcher the hog on Saturday and then on Sunday we would have the lard ready to render out. Which for us is also an outdoor activity. We use the big cast iron kettle, the same one with the same stir paddle that my dad used many years ago. But they are forecasting rain and snow for Saturday and it is really hard to keep scalding water hot in rain. I am sure my dad is sitting up there in heaven laughing at me about now for not planning this a little better. But he also taught me persistence. And we will persist and do the butchering on Friday now instead of waiting till Saturday. The guys are off work and Josh a buddy of Jason's and our adopted step son like will be able to help us. Josh is like one of our own and if we need help here he is always so good to come help out. We just love him and his family dearly. It is at times like this that I am thankful that my boys were good judges of character and have picked good friends. Any who, now thas the plan, but if the weather changes, that plan may change again. Or got forbid the hog be in season. That would postpone the whole thing for at least 2 more weeks.
So today I have gotten my containers ready to hold meat, and kinda now have a mental list of things that need to be done to accomplish this task. I have gotten the old butchering knives out that dad used and they will all be sharp and ready to go. When we render the lard it will get put in some of my stock pots till I can get it ladled into hot mason jars and sealed. The lard will seal and stay fresh when done this way. Long ago we alas strained the lard into metal lard cans to store it. But in my lil mind I have a better plan. We don't use as much lard as we used to and to keep it good and fresh I will be storing mine in the canning jars. The lard is hot enough when it goes in the jars to create a vacuum and seal them when it cools down. This will all be done on the second day. When we butcher we trim the hams, shoulders and middling meat for bacon and get that salted down and in the curing process on day one as soon as we can. Then we proceed to cut the meat to grind for sausage, slice the tenderloins for freezing, cut the ribs for freezing, cut the back bone for chops or stew, and then cut up the lard. Then on day 2 render lard, make souse meat from the head, and pickled pigs feet. Oh yeah, I am making souse and pickled pigs feet. I truly feel like a kid again. As a child growing up here on the farm I always looked forward to "hog killing time". Although it was a lot of work, the rewards were always worth it when the food was prepared.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Seed order placed, finally

Some things just take time to think over. And  a seed order is no different. I have pondered the seed catalog all day long. The pictures are pretty and there are lots of things to choose from. So I made a list of things I needed and wanted and went online and finally placed an order. I think I have stated before that I was gonna be ordering from Baker Creek Seeds this year. They only sell heirloom varieties that are non GMO. And this is what I was looking for. For a total of $70 I now have my seeds on order. I have a lot of seeds saved from last year, so that helped keep cost down a good deal for me. An online chat buddy and fellow homesteader had told me that Baker Creek was sold out of a lot of seeds already and that prompted me to get in gear. When I was doing my online order I did notice that a few varieties that I had wanted were sold out. Nothing that I cant live without tho. I am getting a couple more herbs this year as well. I am going to try growing caraway for seed. And I also ordered an heirloom variety of parsley that gets taller than most I have seen. I may need to expand the herb bed again. That is provided I can get help moving dirt to fill one in. Didn't have much luck getting the strawberry bed expanded so I may be peeing in the desert trying to settle the dust here. Oh well, wont be my first rodeo.
I will spend some time tomorrow getting some things ready for butchering this weekend. I need to grind some hot pepper to mix with the salt/sugar cure for the meat that will be cured. I also need to get the salt and sugar mixed for the cure. Then its on to knife sharpening and rounding up large containers for the meat to be put in till it gets processed and put up. I am so excited to have good homemade country sage sausage again. And I am glad I have plenty of sage that we have grown to make it with. No chemicals in our meat here. I know lots of people use saltpeter in their curing meats but we don't here. All it really does is preserve the red color of the meat to make it look like store bought and it does have some antibacterial properties that prevent spoilage. I guess that would be OK to use if it was warm and there was a chance of the bacteria being able to live. We have a tendency to do things the old way and that is what we will be doing with the hog we are going to butcher. Now unless I have a mouse trap moment I will do my level best to take some pics and maybe video for the ones who might be interested in doing their own curing. I will include recipes in the form of instructions also for things like sausage and maybe souse meat if I can get the head cleaned to use for it. We shall see what Saturday holds for us.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Time changes all things

Life in general and times have changed a lot since I was a child. And its really not been that long ago. I remember growing up here on the farm and in spring we would go out and pick wild greens that mom would cook. We alas picked blackberries, huckleberries, wild strawberries and other things too numerous to mention. I have often wondered why people don't do those things any more. I remember helping mom pick the wild greens but for the life of me I am not sure I could safely do it now. I think that is one of the things I want to learn and document this spring. I know my friend Rosie knows about these things and the benefits of each of them. Maybe I will make a day when she has time, that might be a laugh, and go visit her with camera and note pad and pick some wild greens and identify them. I think it would be good to pass that kind of knowledge along to the younger generation. I guess what made me think of this was a news item I found today, the food trends for 2011. One of the trends will be foraging for food. People do some foraging now and to them the foods are a delicacy. When I was growing up if you foraged for wild greens people looked down on you like it was a sign that you were too poor to have food. Little did they know back then that it would come back.  So I thought I would share this  with you so you can be in the know on food trends for the coming year. Yeah right, like we care about trends.

So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

A nice Christmas Holiday

We have had a nice relaxing holiday here today. Nothing going on outside except we did wake to a white Christmas. It did snow some last night and we probably got an inch or so. Seems as the day went along it did get colder. I fixed a turkey and a ham and the fixing for dinner today. I do the turkey in the big Nesco roaster/oven in the summer kitchen and the ham in a crock pot. I got the turkey started about 1 this after noon as I had kinda planned on eating late. I had to make a few trips to the kitchen to check on it and ever trip seemed colder. Rodger built a fire in the fireplace today which was so nice and toasty. I think my feet had been cold up to that point. Jason came and ate and went home with a big container of ham and turkey. Am thinking we will be eating turkey and ham for a few days. Maybe the traditional turkey casserole tomorrow. I hope you all had a good day with family and friends and lots of good food. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Not much happening here on the homestead today with it being Christmas eve and all. I did get out and go see Mom at the nursing home and took her presents to her. She also got some homemade candy and cookies along with her gifts. She is doing fairly well all things considered. She does have some dementia and still is not able to walk or stand alone. So sad when the mind goes. It probably would help if she would take her medication but instead she has refused it for a month now. Cant really force em to take their meds but we know it sure would extend and improve their quality of life. Kinda depressing to have to see her like that. But such is life.
Today is also Rodgers birthday. He turned 53 today. He has just chilled here at home and relaxed today. We made a big kettle of veggie soup for supper tonight. I still like my veggie soup with peanut butter jelly sandwiches. I will probably go ahead and fix a turkey and ham and all the fixings and just eat on that all weekend. That is if the turkey gets thawed tonight. I did get it out a lil late.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead and wishing you and your a very Merry Christmas. Pretty sure most of us are going to have a white Christmas this year from the weather forecast.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

I got out today

I finally was allowed off the farm today. Just kidding. Actually we went out of town to pick up a few things for my mom for Christmas to take to her at the nursing home. We don't celebrate Christmas with all the gifts and spending money that most folks do. But with her being in the nursing home I at least like to take her a few gifts to brighten her days there. So today we went to Richmond. We had dinner at Red Lobster, my fav, and then on to wally world and to Lowe's. We did pick up some fresh fruit at walmart while we were there. Dang prices have went up since I was out last time. And I don't even want to talk about coffee prices. I was more than a lil perturbed to find that the cans have gotten smaller and the price went up. So has peanut butter. Near $5 for a small jar where as I was buying 2 of the same size for less money just a few months ago. I see some peanut growing in my future. As for the coffee, well I am thinking some really cranky people around here in mornings.
In the shopping today I noticed that a lot of people were buying mostly food and not the expensive gadgets and toys of the past few years. Not to mention not really that many people out either. The Red Lobster restaurant where we went to eat had plenty of vacant tables for a Friday evening as well. Not sure if this is good or bad. I am certain it is bad for the business but it could also mean more people are eating at home. Or that people just simply don't have the extra money to eat out with the economy like it is and few jobs. We actually had a gift card that Rodgers parents had given us for our anniversary in November or we likely would not have been eating out either. Home cooked is always better.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Moving right along

We are on the up hill swing of winter now as yesterday was the shortest day of the year. Each day from here on will be a few minutes longer. I am so looking forward to spring now. I have been in the house for 3 weeks and I think I got a bad case of cabin fever. I am to the point that I just want to sleep. Kinda one of those deals, the less ya do the less ya want to do. But this weekend will be different. The guys are off work till Monday after Christmas and they will be home. I am thinking I need to enlist some help getting the brooder house cleaned out so the floors can dry really well before spring. And we need to get the smoke house in shape for the butchering that will take place next weekend on New Years. For us thas a pretty cool way to spend New Years eve, butchering a hog. It usually takes 2 days to get it all done. The first day butchering and cutting, curing meat. The second day is spent making lard. And yes I intend to use the lard. Some things just require lard to be good. Pie crust being one of em. We also need to get our corn shelled and ready to grind for cornmeal too. And this would be a good time to stay in and make and can hominy. I love my homemade hominy. So much better for ya than just corn. Just things on my to-do list as usual.
We don't have anything planned for the Christmas holiday. I probably will fix a turkey breast and maybe a ham and we can eat on that all weekend while we just do minor chores. After all it is winter and the time of year we celebrate the birth of our savior. We are forecast to have some snow so I think it will be a nice time to stay home and reflect on the real reason for the season.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Just plunderin through the day

I did manage to get up at a decent hour today but have done next to nothing. Kinda normal for me tho and Monday too boot. I think my mind crashes after weekends. The guys are home on weekends and when someone is in the house I cant seem to get anything done that I want to do. Seems as soon as one meal is done they are looking for another one. So I started my day with the usual house cleaning. I even went as far as to clean the showers in both bathrooms. Of all the things to clean I hate cleaning showers most of all. But the task is done now. Then I got to thinking while I was cleaning. Yeah I know, I think too much. I was thinking of how much easier it would be to keep the house cleaner if we didn't have carpet. Now I am thinking in spring I might see if its possible to take out the carpet and put down tile or maybe even wood floors. I would be happy with the prefinished hard wood floors. Then I would have no need to be running the vacuum every day. Just run a dust mop and a damp mop if needed. Carpet is really dirty stuff and hard to keep clean. We shall see what spring holds for us.
I have been lookin thru the new seed catalogs that come in. I still am determined to order only heirloom varieties and just from Baker Creek seeds. I also want to make a bed here near the house just to plant a few plants of everything I want to save seeds from. That would be real handy for things that take 2 years to make seed. I just have to see if I can talk someone into hauling dirt for me to make the bed. But I also need a strawberry bed here near the house too. That might be pushing my luck a bit. I am so ready for spring. Really tired of being in the house now. Haven't been off the farm in going on 3 weeks. If more of the ice melts tomorrow and we don't get more snow I might make it out of here by Wednesday. Just have to wait and see.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cold out there, warm in here

If its cold out there and warm in here, my plan is to stay in here. I know, don't I sound like the lazy bum? Well I am kinda. Ya know I told ya yesterday that I had wasted an entire day playin a silly game online. And yes I stayed up quite late as well. But gosh, its not like I had beans to can or something. Well I slept in this morning too. Rodger was up early as usual and was busy hauling water. I got up when my phone rang and woke me. But goodness it was time to get up. It was near noonish. Thanks Jenny, or I would have slept till supper time. And we alas talk till one of us has a dead cell phone battery. But its girl stuff and we gots things to talk about. lol Then Jason came in a lil later and tells me he is gonna fix sausage and biscuits for breakfast. Well shock me again. Then I did advise on the gravy making process but he did that too. It was good, nice to have a hot breakfast once in a while. I think that was probably the only thing accomplished today. Well maybe not, Jason did shell some corn for Petunia and Rodger hauled water. Guess it was me that did nothing. I plundered around on the computer a good bit today as well. I had gotten an email from a chat buddy and it was a really cool lil video. So I thought I would share it with ya here. Just make sure ya turn up the volume a lil bit. A really neat light show. Jason also tole me that there was a house in Ohio that did have this kinda show and in driving a semi, he said you could tune the radio to a certain station while driving by and see the show to music. Would be cool to see in real life, but this is the best I can do.

A nice addition to the holiday season. I think my guys will be off work for a couple days at the end of next week for the Christmas holiday. We don't have anything planned really, just hang out at home and chill. Just miss Rob not being able to be here. But such is adult life. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, December 17, 2010

I reeealy need a hobby

I am thinking I am in bad need of a hobby this winter. I got up this morning when my cell phone rang with Josh calling. Josh is Jason's best buddy and like a step son to us. He had called to make sure we were all OK during this ice storm. He lives in a mid size town about an hour from us with his wife and lil boy. They were iced in and waiting on the road crews to clear the roads so they could get out to work. I think the guys had all wanted to deer hunt this weekend but that wont happen. A deer could hear ya coming a mile away on the crunchy ice. So for now they are all safe. So I set about to finish up the candy making to get a package ready to ship out to Rob and Amoy the first of the week. Got that done and sat down at the computer to check emails and such. Then I got started playing a stupid online game. Oh my, I have wasted a whole day on that thing. Not like I was going to do much anyway. But gees, I can see how people can get hooked on those things. I still have not picked up my knitting that I had intended to learn this winter. Nor the crocheting either. I think I need to put my time to better use going thru the seed catalog trying to figure out what kind of seeds we need to order this year. I usually do try to get my seed order in early in the winter so I can have time to plot and plan how much and where I want everything planted in the garden next spring. But its supposed to be cold and nasty all weekend so maybe I will get that done. The temps today were around 30, just below freezing so I have stayed in. The ice is still hanging around for now. We shall see what the weekend holds for us. Maybe I can do something exciting tomorrow to tell you about.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

We got a bunch a ice last night

We were posed to get snow, then change over to freezing rain and sleet. Well we got it. But seems to me it jus rained ice on us. Everything here is coated. But the ground still being warm melts pretty good. I did get out and shovel the melted ice snow slush stuff off the back deck. Then I wondered off the porch to the summer kitchen to check on it and the snow had slid down and was hanging off the side of the kitchen roof. Pretty neat but could have broke the window if it froze solid and then fell.

Of course ya know I had to find a stick and knock the sheet of snow and ice down.

Grape vines with a layer of ice coated on them, they get pruned a lil later but before spring.

Looks like a winter wonderland. The trees are all coated with ice, we still have a good deal of snow hanging on too.

You can see how the ice is causing the cedar tree and pine trees on the side of the drive way to sag. The darker looking places in the yard are where there is just a layer of ice, the snow melted there yesterday. I don't even begin to try walkin in that stuff, pretty sure I would be on my ass quick. After the sun went down the temps went down with it, most of the stuff that was dripping off the house is now hanging in icicle form now. Rodger and Jason made it home fine. But they do say it is slick out. Guess this chic wont be out till spring at least.
OK today I was posed to make fudge and post the recipe. Yeah well ya know me, mind like a mouse trap. I didn't make fudge yet so I will have to wait to post the recipe for it. I only post recipes that I have tried and know they are good. So if you use my recipes and follow my method of madness it will be good. Not much else happening here. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Getting ready for another storm

Yep we are getting ready for the possibility of another winter storm. We are predicted to have more snow and freezing rain with accumulations of up to 1/2 inch of ice. Not to mention the snow coverage prior to the rain. Not a pretty sight in my opinion. With the ice comes the possibility of power outages and severely cold temps. Kinda makes me edgy cause we have electric heat. But we also have a fireplace and a propane heater as back up. Today I went out to the summer kitchen and filled several of my big canners with water just in case. It is convenient to have water to flush toilets and such, and for washing up. I have water stored for cooking. This is purely for ease of use for me. We have a dug well and could draw water if need be. But if the power is only off for a few hours having it stored is easier than having to draw water. I probably wont like not having electricity but we will be fine without if for a good bit.
Tomorrow it is back to the candy making. I will be trying peanut butter fudge. If the recipe I have turns out good I will post it here tomorrow. Fudge has never been one of my strong points. Maybe some cookies and then get a package mailed off to Rob and Amoy for the holidays. Depressing not to have my kids home for Christmas. Not that we celebrate big, so maybe its just the thought. Hopefully we will get a break in this nasty weather before Christmas so I can go visit my mom for a bit at the nursing home. She is doing OK, I just don't get to go see her often as I don't travel in this weather.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Playing in the kitchen

Yeah I bet I know what you were thinkin. No Rodger was at work. I have been playing in the kitchen by my self. Well guess that didn't sound any better did it? OK so I will explain. I been making hand dipped chocolates. That sounds sophisticated don't it? Or in hillbilly terms, I been making candies. The candies are from the recipe from the previous post. But see ya know I don't do things according to a recipe. I have to tinker with everything. And that is what I did with the candy making too. So maybe I will post this as a recipe for Christmas candy-part 2. You make the basic mix of 1 12oz box of vanilla wafer, crushed fine, the finer the better, 1 stick or 1/2 cup butter and 1 lb powdered sugar. Mix this really well. It will be crumbly in texture. But thas OK. Then I separated it into 3 different bowls. In one of the bowls I added about 1/2 cup Baileys Irish Cream with a hint of caramel. Oh yeh! Ya know I like my Baileys. To another bowl I added 1/4 cup pina colada mix and about 1/2 cup of flaked coconut. To the third bowl I added about 1/4 cup of Kahlua and about 2 tablespoons of Hershey's baking chocolate (powder). I stirred em all up in each bowl real good to mix pretty well. Then I would get in there with my hands and finish the mixing and roll each batch into lil balls, these about the size of large grapes. I put these on a plate and set them in the freezer. After I got all of em rolled I melted my chocolate bark or Candi Quick and started dipping the rolled candies. Placed em back on a sheet pan lined with foil and set them in the fridge to harden. These things are so dang good. AND I bet ya can guess my favorite. Yep, Its the Baileys Irish cream. But the strawberry daiquiri is good too. And I do like the coconut ones. I might get brave tomorrow and try my hand at peanut butter fudge. Of all the things I cook and cook well, the ability to make really good cooked fudge eludes me.
Any way, with all this candy stuff I didn't fix a big supper. We had chicken soup with some stock I had canned and some leftover chicken from last nights dinner. One of the things on my to-do list for tomorrow is to siphon off or rack my bucket of wine. Dang I have put it off for a few months now. But it really needs to be done. Rodger kinda hinted at the idea of making a batch of beer pretty soon and the best place for the beer barrel is where the bucket is sittin with the wine in it. I had him stop at the hardware store on his way home and pick up one of those handy lil Kerosene siphon thingys, ya know the one with the bulb ya squeeze to get it started? Well I am gonna wash it really good and use it to siphon off the wind into another container so it can settle again and rack it the second time. After that its sweeten if need be, sterilize and bottle. Then off to the cellar to age. Maybe I will remember to take some pics to share with ya. Mouse trap mind here ya know.
I did go OUT side today. Don't laugh, I trudged thru the snow all the way to my summer kitchen. See thas where my food processor lives and I had to make vanilla wafer crumbs. It was not too bad cold out. A nice sunny day, the ground is still warm so lots of the snow we had melted today. You can see bare ground all over where the sun hit. But we posed to get slammed with more snow and freezing rain and possible 1/2 inch of ice Wednesday and into the night. I am so thankful I don't have to be out in it. But I do worry bout my guys and the many others that do have to be out on the roads and have to work out in the mess. Thas why I like to at least give them a nice filling hot meal when they get home.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Winter wonderland out there

We got a total of 8 inches of snow last night after mid-night and it is a winter wonderland outside today. Pretty to look at but hell if ya have to be out in it. The guys headed out for work this morning and they made the only tracks that have been made on our road here. Jason took some pics of his house (the old home place) this evening after he got home. This was done while he was out feeding Petunia.

The big barn at the home place has a lil creek running in front of it. The water in this creek would be safe to drink. It starts on the farm and there is no runoff or pollutants that run into it.

The old log barn where Petunia lives. A barn my dad built when I was very young.

The old farm house where my son Jason lives now. He takes care of that end of the farm.

 The house and shed that is in front of the old smoke house.

We obviously had wind last night to blow snow in on my front porch. Pretty sure it snowed on Luna too. Her bed is out of sight to the bottom right.

When I got out today to shovel the back deck here I measured 8 inches of snow. And this was less than what actually fell due to the wind blowing it around.

Luna loves this stuff. Probably the only time she is actually cool all year. She is sitting on the back sidewalk.
Now on to spring as far as I am concerned. I don't like snow. Or cold for that matter. Although it did not get as cold as was predicted. It was about 15 here this morning.
I have not done much else but the snow shoveling today. Although I do have some candy recipes to share with you as well. Very easy to make and taste great. I love these things. Not to mention the fact that you can alter the flavor just by changing out the orange juice concentrate for a flavor of your choice.

Christmas candy

1 box of vanilla wafers, crushed really fine (think food processor)
1 16 oz bag of powdered sugar
1/2 cup soft butter
6 oz of orange juice concentrate

Mix all together really well and roll into balls and place on a flat pan and chill for at least an hour. I make mine the size of large grapes to make em bite size. When chilled dip in your choice of Candy Quik or a small bag of chocolate chips melted with 1/2 bar of paraffin. Dip and place on wax paper to harden. Store in the fridge in single layers or with wax paper between the layers.

To make pina colada candies, sub bottles pina colada mix for the 6 oz of OJ, same with strawberry daiquiri mix. You can also add cocoa powder to make chocolate, add coconut to make coconut ones, add nuts to any of the above. Really there is not way to mess these up. As long as you don't get too happy with liquid. My faves are the pina colada ones with added coconut.
So till next time, enjoy and blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Interesting reading

I was sitting here last evening thinkin, which alas has a bad end for me, and got to wondering about our forefathers and the pioneers that settled this country. I did a google search on "pioneer life" and found several interesting sites to pacify me for a time. One was this one. I read the essays there and continued to explore.Food was mentioned in the essays several times but not in any detail. So I found some info on food that shed some light on the foods available and how it was prepared. Even some of the methods used back then could still be used today if the need arises. I was impressed with the method of smoking meat. Very simple and effective. Any way just some food for thought on a cold winter day. I guess being able to stay in and kinda idle this time of year I think some silly things. Well maybe not too silly. As ya know I am 4th generation here on our family farm. Most thing we do today are still done by old methods, we may or may not use modern tools. Wouldn't it be neat to preserve all that history and all those methods, recipes, and knowledge that was passed down and keep things like they "were back then". Then it struck me, we do kinda do that. Really it is all I know, the things I learned from my dad and knowledge passed down thru 4 generations. It would make one think we are so far behind in the times, but the old ways work very well. Sometimes old methods require a lil more labor but the end result is the same. Only difference is the old ways are less expensive. I know I have enough knowledge of the olden ways that if I were transported back in time 200 years that I could survive and thrive just fine. People freak out over minor things these days. Such as happens when the power is off. Don't get me wrong, I do like some of the modern conveniences. But I can live without em. If the power is off, light kerosene lights, or have tallow candles, easily made from beef tallow. Yeah I know how. How to cook without power? I have cast iron cook ware that can be used over an open fire. To clean the skillets, just wipe em out with dry grass if thas all that is available. Well seasoned cast iron needs no other care that to be kept dry. As for water, draw up a bucket from the well, As for putting food on the table, simple as far as I am concerned. Hunt, fish, raise ya own. Butchering, no problem we still do our own, the old fashioned way. And preserve the bounty. I do know how. How to bathe or shower? In the warm season, there are creeks, in winter, heat water to fill a big ole bath tub. Most people generations ago did not take a bath or shower every day. After all it is really bad for your skin which in the long run washes off good bacteria that can protect you from other pathogens. Before indoor plumbing, which by the way I was raised without, people washed up every day in the wash pan that was kept on hand for just that task. In summer it was on the bench on the porch, in winter it was on the wash stand in the house. You heat your water on the wood stove and bathe. Although growing up I did wash my hair every day and used the water to wash up, it takes so lil water to feel and be clean. Long before washing machines, even wringer washers, there was the trusty wash board. I have 2 of em. I know how to use em. I know how to make the soap and have done it. I made and used lye soap for everything when my kids were little. Everything from baths, to dishes, laundry, mopping floors to washing windows. Great stuff by the way. People get all panic stricken when they think of how to make the modern stuff work in a primitive setting. Most of the modern stuff can be replaced in a heart beat with just a lil thought. The washer for example, think of the actions of the washer. It swishes clothes up and down in the water to which you have added detergent, right? So why not fill a large tub or similar container with water, wet a bar of lye soap and rub it on the spots on the clothes and toss em in the water. Let em soak for a bit then use a stick even to swish em around in the water. Take em out, rinse em in clear water and hang to drip dry. Even in winter clothes will dry outside on a clothes line. They may freeze but if the wind blows it will soften them like no fabric softener can do. And they smell soooo good. I have helped mom wash on the wringer washer and hang out laundry in winter. Not a pleasant task, but a necessary one. Here on the farm we did have electricity when I was growing up but it got here shortly before I was born. I remember at the table after dinner dad would turn off the dining room light. It got to be one of those "what did ya do that for " questions from a lil girl that warranted this response. " turn the lights off and save electric" I am sure that was a thrifty habit he learned from living thru the depression years and having the mind set that things are limited. Gosh what a change in how people think these days. Dad was one of those people who saved everything. Now as a wife and mother and living here walking in his shoes I can clearly see why. If only If I could make my family see that way now. But life is good and can only get better. I hope that maybe my ramblings can inspire you to take a look around you and see things for what they really are. Just "things" that have been invented to "try" to improve on old things. Mostly with not much success in my opinion.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

The corn is in the crib

Well we finally got the corn in the crib and out of the wagon. Great weather today, warm and in the 50's with rain and snow on the way. The corn elevator is a handy thing to have on the farm if ya have to store ear corn. It works better than it ever did. With my best estimate we put about 50 bushel of corn in the crib. Now we just need to get some picked out and shelled for cornmeal and hominy. I was very concerned that the corn would mold and start to rot in the metal wagon. But an accident worked out in our favor. When picking corn with an old fashioned corn picker it is best to pick in early morning while the shucks are still only slightly damp from the overnight dew or frost. The picker will shuck the corn so much better at that time and you have far less shucks in the crib. But as circumstances would have it, we picked late in the day and the shucks were extremely brittle and dry. This fact I think is probably why the corn kept well in the metal wagon. A slight bit of moisture would have caused a lot of condensation and all would have been lost. We live and learn here. Now once again I see why my dad alas picked early in day.

The elevator does beat all to heck using a shovel. This crib will hold 100 bushels and it is about half full.
We aimed the end of the elevator toward one end and filled it then moved the wagon and aimed the other way. We used boards to kinda partition off an area in front of the door so ya can stand in there and shuck corn to be shelled. This crib is designed for optimal air circulation. Although it is in a bad location. It is at the end of our yard off the drive way a bit. Hard to get wagons in there because you cant back the wagons up. Backing those things is kinda like pushin a chain. Any who we had a piece of plywood under the end of the elevator as we unloaded corn and the corn banging around does shell some of it. I scooped the shelled corn off the plywood and tossed a feed sack full of shucks and corn in for the laying hens. They will have plenty to eat and the shucks for bedding.  Last evening we had shelled some corn into the box that has the corn sheller attached to it. This is Petunias feed.
The box this sheller is mounted on is older than me. But it still works well, unlike me.  So we bagged this corn up and took it to feed the hog for next week.

  Loaded up the elevator to transport to the barn for storage and to keep it in the dry. Cost too much to have parts made when something breaks after being left out in the weather. Rodger had to have some parts fabricated to remount the gears on both ends of that thing and those were not cheap. So back in the dry it goes.  Got the elevator unloaded and went and fed Petunia. She is a happy camper with her pile of hay for a bed and plenty of corn and water.

She has put on a good deal of weight since we got her home. She kept herself lean and trim when she lived at Rosie's place. She ran around with the sheep and cows. Now she has her own space here and all the food she can eat. She is a very good natured animal. Always calm and gentle. No trouble to take care of at all.
Now I am in for the night and it is starting to rain. The guys had to make a trip out o town to stock up on warm long johns and a few supplies this evening after the chores were all done. They had planned on going hunting this weekend but the weather forecast was for lots of rain and snow tomorrow, so they postponed that trip. But I am so thankful the rain held off till we got our corn in the crib.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Here comes more nasty weather

I think we need to get ready to hibernate again. According to the forecast the nasty weather is headed our way again. Posed to get lots of rain and then cold and snow behind that. And trust me I did not ask for it. But today it was nice here. I went out to get my haircut before noon today and then made a swing thru town to get a few things that I needed and on home. Rodger had gotten all the materials to get our propane back up heater installed. When I got home he had that done and was trying the ignition on it. It works great. I do feel better knowing we have another heat source in case of power failure. My MIL had stopped by for a bit after attending a funeral here in town so I got to visit with her for a bit.Then Rodger went out to work on the corn elevator and get it put back together. I did get out and help him with that. So now its all back together and working. We went to the field where the grain wagon is sitting with the corn in it and got some out to feed Petunia for a couple days. Rodger is going to try and get the wagon out of the field early in the morning while hopefully the ground is frozen so when he pulls in to unload it wont rut the drive so bad. Sure would be nice if the rain held off till late tomorrow so we can unload the corn. But at least it is keeping well in the wagon. I was really concerned that it would mold and start to rot. But all is well there. While we were at the crib I did get some plastic and cover my potting bench and seed starting trays that had been setting out for lack of a place to put all that stuff from the green house. So that stuff is all out of the weather for now. Just hope we don't get a big wind and blow it off.
I got my first garden seed catalog of the season today in the mail. If and when I order seed this spring I will be ordering from Baker Creek Seeds. They sell only heirloom varieties of garden seed. I had ordered some onion seed from them last fall but dang it I didn't get them sown in the fall, so it will be spring on those. I am hoping with all the seed that I have saved over the last year that I don't have to order many this time around. They do get a lil expensive after a while unless ya wise up and start saving your own.  Not much else happening here right now. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Git'n er done

I think we might be finally getting things done that we needed to git done before it turned winter on us. Last evening Rodger loaded up our 2- 100 lb propane cylinders to take to work with him to get em filled up. So he did that today and brought them back home, full of propane. One of them will be used for the summer kitchen and gas stove out there and the other one is being hooked to a gas heating stove we have here in the house for back up heat. We have a fireplace in one end of the house in the family room and does a great job of heating that end of the house. But if we lose power it is near impossible to heat the other end some 60 feet away. And that is where the master bedroom and bath are. It does get a lil too nippy in there if ya don't have heat. So the propane heater will be in the big living room near the middle of the house and nearer to the bedroom. Then if the power goes off for what ever reason we still have heat. Rodger has mentioned trying to find a small wood eating stove to set in the fireplace. That would provide much more heat with less wood. I think that may be a project for next year tho. Its a lil late to be trying to install a stove in the middle of winter. Besides we can get propane at wholesale prices as long as hubby works for the oil company.
Anyway the cold weather is still hanging around for now. We are posed to get more snow this weekend. I think the guys or at least Rodger will be going deer hunting again this weekend with Josh. It is another weekend of black powder season. If he gets another deer, I will HAVE to can it. No freezer room yet. But I want to make and can some Hungarian Goulash anyway. Last time I was at my friend Rosie's house she had made some and it was so very good. But then again she is a wonderful cook. I did get to chat with her today on the phone for a bit, well actually about 2 hours. Yeah we can always find things to talk about. A great friend and wonderful lady. Just a really good family.
Nothing really exciting happening here so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Normal is not what I do

Normal is not what happens at all around here. I never was one to follow the rule book on anything. As the ones of you who know where my canning recipes come from, and I sure don't alas follow what the USDA approves of. But if it worked last year I sure as hell believe it will this year if I am using the same method and ingredients. But this post is regarding my rotated chicken. OK its a chicken done on the rotisserie. We think rotated sounds better. First you procure a chicken, preferably one from your own freezer that you put in there. Cleaned of course. Thaw out said bird.

Now ya got one thawed bird waitin to be strung up. No wings, whas with that ya ask? Well we don't care much for roast chicken wings but like them better fried or BBQ'd. So when I butcher I take off the wings from the birds bound for the rotator. Now in what ever fashion works for you, it varies for me every time I do this, tie the legs together and bind the bird so he will stay on the spit.

Now when he is all tied up and has a spit runnin from his woohoo to his neck opening, hes ready to butter up. First pat him dry with paper towel, make sure the skin is dry of water.

Then ya take a glob, I say glob because how much butter ya use depends on how big the bird. Use enough to coat him well with butter.  See, no wings to waste or have to tie down.

Here is where ya sprinkle ya bird with your seasoning of choice, mine was creole seasoning. When ya do this, sprinkle the inside of the bird really well too as this flavor will seep into the meat as the bird rotates.

Now put the strung up buttered sprinkled chicken in the oven at about 400 degrees for the first 30 minutes or so, then take the temp to 350 till he registers 160 in the thickest part of the breast. I use one of those fancy digital instant read thermometers. Those things are well worth the money and every kitchen should have one. For safety reasons when roasting. In my toaster oven rotator the chicken takes about 2 hours. This is a 5 1/2 lb bird. Check his temp about an hour and a half in, depending on the size as to not over cook em. This lil toaster oven with the rotisserie cost about $70 and the best money I ever spent. It also does convection bake, toast and broil. Neat thing to have. Any way, when ya bird is done take em out and let him rest for a bit, hes hada rough day. This allows the juice to settle and not run out when ya slice em up. So good, nice brown skin, moist and tender. I woulda took a picture but damn I had a mouse trap moment. Maybe next time. I do have 19 more like this in the freezer. And in that same freezer I had cornbread dressing that I fixed, along with mashed taters, gravy, corn, baked beans and coleslaw. All stuff that we raised and I had canned. Even the baked beans were home canned. Made for a nice hot meal on a cold winter day. Hey the sun was out for a bit and it was prolly 40, the sun hid and now its back to 16 degrees. AND we are forecast for more snow. Who keeps messing with the thermostat out there?
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A day spent reading

I have spent most of today just reading stuff online. Well yeah I know ya cant believe most of what ya read online but some of the stuff I have been reading just confirmed my theories on some things. For one, I have been reading of the health benefits of stinging nettle. Who would a thunk it? A lil noxious stinging plant that is so loaded with vitamins and minerals that the infusion can contain the nutrients for a body for a whole day.
 Here ya go, read for yourself about stinging nettle .
And I do have a good deal of it dried too, which just adds to the fact that I will likely try it. With modern medicine as it is today, I think it would behoove us to have knowledge of some of the old remedies and know some things about natural ways to maintain our health. But it seems I start this kinda thinking every winter. Maybe its cause I am in the house with nothing better to do that read stuff that raises my curiosity. But the website I was reading from has tons of info on this herb and many other whole foods, how to naturally take care of your health. All on one cool site. Enjoy the read and I hope you can glean some healthy things from here.
We still have our cold temps this evening after night fall but today was kinda nice out. My thermometer was saying it was 40 degrees, but I think it lies more than the weather man. A lot of the snow melted but I think most of that was from the warm ground. Needless to say, I haven't been out there much today. Other than go to the freezer in the building to get something to fix for supper. We had venison stew with some "crunchy" not crusty french bread. Tomorrow it will be a nice big rotated chicken as Jason calls em. The last chickens I butchered we mostly left whole so I could roast them on the rotisserie in my toaster oven. I even have some cornbread dressing in the freezer from Thanksgiving that I will have with it. I might venture out to the cellar to see what else to fix with it. The fun part of the rotated chicken is gettin it all tied up so it will fit on the spit. I am sure if someone were watching me they would be in for a good laff or 3. I do have to say the birds look rather strange all tied up. Maybe I can take a pic to share with ya tomorrow.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, December 6, 2010

OK shoveling snow is a waste of time

Sure didn't take long today to figure out that I was wasting my time shoveling snow off the deck. I put on my line wind breaker pants over my jammies and pulled on a sweat shirt, boots and gloves and my silly hat with the ear flaps and out I went. All I succeeded in doing was getting cold and making my joints hurt more. By time I got the snow and ice from last night off it had snowed more in 30 minutes to cover it over again. So I gave up on that and went to the summer kitchen to check on the water. We have a small electric heater out there set on low heat just to keep the pipes from freezing. I ran the water for a bit and it was fine. I have the remote sensor for the thermometer out there on the counter so I can sit in here and know how cold it gets out there. The thermometer was saying 55 degrees, so thas good. By supper time the temp was down to 44 and it is 16 outside right now. Our low for tonight is posed to be 12. Forecast to be that cold for a few days then back up to low 30's.
My late cabbage that I planted in mid September are now covered with snow. Not sure if it will kill them or not. We shall see when the sun comes out again. And they were just starting to make heads too. So note to self, next year plant late cabbage in mid august. I guess we all live and learn don't we. But normally we don't have this much cold and snow this early in December. I think we might have a white Christmas. Not much really happening here on the homestead in this weather. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Its cold and I aint going out there

It is cold out side and we still have snow flurries. But the snow we got the other night is melting. The ground is still warm for this time of year I think. So naturally it is mud where the snow is gone. I did get a few pics today to let ya see some of the things I have been talking about.
First off is Luna and her new bed that she loves now. I figured by now she would have it dragged into the yard.

I'm sure she likes this better than the rug she chose before.
And here is what snow we had left when I finally got up this morning. OK so I was lazy and slept in.

We are still having those flurries as I type and the temps have dipped low enough that the thawed snow has turned to ice everywhere. So I may as well hibernate till later this week when it warms to above freezing. My hurty body don't need to get out and fall down and go boom.
Tonight for dinner I made some venison pot roast. I do it the quick way and it alas turns out nice and tender.
 So here are the instructions.

2 1/2 lb venison roast trimmed
1 cup celery chopped
1 cup onion chopped
1 teas salt
1/2 teas black pepper
1 quart whole tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teas garlic

In pressure cooker place chopped onion and celery on bottom. Lay roast on top of onions. Mix remaining ingredients with 1 pint of water and pour over roast. Put on the lid and bring up to pressure for 25 to 30 minutes. After pressure drops remove the meat and use a stick blender to puree the sauce that is left. You may add some cornstarch to thicken as desired. Serve gravy over mashed taters and any side you like. A quick meal that is really good and tender.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Late winterizing

Some how time slipped away from us this fall and some things that needed to be done got left be the wayside. Things like putting insulation in the water pump house to keep it from freezing this winter. Not just at our house but at Jason's house too. So the guys got that done today. Jason spent some time under his house insulating some water lines to his washer as well. Now hopefully we wont have any frozen lines this winter. I had went to Jason's house to cut his hair and help him clean his new used refrigerator and stove. I hate cleaning ovens but sometimes it just has to be done. So now his appliances are all cleaned and in good shape for a while.
We got about 4 inches of snow last night and it has flurried most of the day today. At times there was sleet in the mix. Not pleasant going down your collar if you are outside tho. I guess I could have gotten out an taken some pics to share but you know me. Mind like a mouse trap, all set one minute, snapped the next. Maybe I can do that tomorrow.
When I got home I fixed spaghetti for supper and then got to work on a big pillow for Luna to sleep on here on the front porch. I had some old bed pillows that were beyond hope and used those to stuff a huge pillow case I made from an old throw that was at Jason's house. I sewed it on the sewing machine in the fashion of the envelope style pillow sham and slid 3 bed pillows in there. I put it out for Luna and she marched right up and laid down like she knew it was hers. I hope that will be a little easier on her than sleeping on the rug on the porch. She has a dog house but will not under no circumstances get in it. Now the trick will be keeping the big pillow dry when it rains and she comes in and lays on it. I will figure that out when the time comes.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Dont take long to get bored

Well one day of having little to do other than a couple loads of laundry and I am fidgety already. I get so used to going full throttle that when I get a break my mind is restless thinking that there is something that I should be doing. But this the quite the norm for me, I do it every winter since I had to stop working a paycheck job. I am sure if I had tried hard enough I could have found some thing to keep me busy, but by dang, I took it easy today. I did fix a nice supper/ Fried chicken, corn on the cob, green beans, mashed taters, mustard greens for me, biscuits and gravy and cooked some dried apples. OK I cheated, the taters where from tater flakes. All home grown food except the taters and biscuits. Its no wonder we don't like to eat out. The food just can not stack up to the worst of home cooked. After getting back to the farm after I had to quit work, raising ALL our own food, cooking from scratch, I think terrible things when I eat out. I sit at the table waiting on my order and wonder if the cook washed their hands, or if they sneezed on the food. Well you get the idea. I am certain nasty things happen in those restaurant kitchens that would gross out a maggot. Then I have to think how the food was grown, how it was cleaned, was it GMO? Not to mention all the preservatives in commercial foods these days. And I wont even get started on any meat cooked in a restaurant. Heaven knows how that animal died. Ya know, it was not many years ago people looked down on you if you didn't eat out a lot. They knew you were poor and couldn't afford it. Today I do think that has changed for the better. Now if you mention a home cooked meal most people envy you. I guess they finally came to realize how much better it is and better for ya. But if eating out made you poor, I have alas been happy to be piss poor as so to speak. Even now about the only time we eat out is when we have to go out of town to doc appointments and such. And to us it is just a treat and a day I don't have to be in the kitchen cooking.  One of my blog readers commented in an email to me about some vices that we both have, "all and all we eat healthy and feel like that leaves a little room to pick our poisons". We do eat home grown and home made but we do ingest some things that are not really good for ya. My weakness is Mt Dew. But it has some natural ingredients in it. Water is natural, right?
So till next time, try to eat home grown and home made, and blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

It is snowing, time to hibernate

It has been cold all day. I had a doc appointment this afternoon and then came straight home. The cold makes my joints hurt more so its best I avoid that if possible. My family doc is referring me to a Rheumatologist for further care. We think I may have arthritis in my joints that is causing the sore and stiffness not to mention the pain. I sure hope they have a solution because it sure limits my activities in life.
After I got home this afternoon, I make turkey noodle soup for supper. Sure was nice and warming after a day of being out in the cold. And I had turkey and stock left from Sunday dinner that I could not freeze. As you remember I don't have any freezer space. As I was cleaning up the dishes I looked out and it had started snowing. Not much on the ground but a light dusting. Just enough to make me want to hibernate. I do like staying in the house in winter when it snows. I might be in here till spring if we get a good bit of snow.
I got a text from Rob this evening and they have a lot of their stuff moved into their house. Yes they finally found a house to rent. I am so relieved. It is hard living in a hotel and eating out all the time. I am sure they are excited to be able to cook again. He said the temps there is mostly in the teens and lots of snow. He was used to our winters here in Kentucky, so I think that will take some getting used to. I feel better knowing they are in a place where they can do for themselves and be snug for the winter so far from home. I really am not looking forward to Christmas with my cubs so far from the den either. But he has a great job that he enjoys and his girlfriend there, and good opportunity for him to start a career that will provide well for him.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Slowing down a little

I have been taking it kinda easy today, not doing anything strenuous. That is unless you count washing windows, curtains, and cleaning floors. I have stayed in all day. It has been cold here and we had our first snow flurries this morning. Nothing stuck on the ground but it was pretty falling. I don't mind snow as long as it don't stick to the roads. We had a lot of rain for a few days prior so the river is up a good deal. It has the road blocked going out to town but we can go out the long way if need be. That's what the guys do when they go to work. But at least I have been in getting caught up on the house cleaning that has been let go for a few weeks. Hell I even cleaned windows. Now that is saying something for me.
We have spent all summer busy with the garden and canning and all the butchering we have done here. It is nice to have the freezers full. Especially with the state of our country and economy. We can all live as frugal as possible and still be able to put back extra food in case of an emergency. It don't have to be a BIG disaster, but even with lose of a job or sickness or unemployment we all need to have a well stocked pantry. A friend sent some reading info to me in an email today and I thought I would share the links with you so everyone can be informed and prepared. I don't consider myself a prepper or survivalist but I do like to be prepared to weather out the storms of life.

Both are informative and gives ya something to think about. I really  don't want to count on anyone to take care of me or my family except me. So on we go.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.