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Thursday, June 30, 2011

A close call, cleaning the cellar

I think I might have mentioned on here a few times about how I don't like snakes. Well yesterday evening I was weeding the flower bed near the cellar and dead-heading the hollyhocks that had finished blooming. I got in there with the pruning shears and cut the stalks down and tossed them to the other side of the side walk so I could dispose of them. I then proceeded to pull the weeds our of the bed, the few that there was. I had put a large section of a post in there to keep Luna from sleeping there when the plants were lil. Got to the last handful of weeds and started to reach for another weed and THERE it was . A copperhead, coiled an ready to strike. And my hand was about 6 inches away from the dang thing. I screamed, Rodger came running with the shovel and killed it. My guardian angel was working overtime last night. I had been walking around that dang thing for probably a half hour or more. So blessed that I didn't get bit. Doing some serious thinking about digging out all the flower beds when I have experiences like that.
The weather was nice here today, a lil hot but still you could work outside without burning up. I did get my outbuilding straightened up again before it got too hot to work in there. I thought it was about time to clean the cellar out and mop the floor and get it ready to put more canned stuff in there.I had a crate of fresh onions in there that I had got last fall and some of them had started to sprout. Took those to the summer kitchen and sliced those and they are now drying in the dehydrator. Should be done tomorrow so they can be crushed for onion flakes. I had a few jars of food to empty out that had changed color and a few had unsealed. Got all that out and the jars washed an ready to be re-filled. After supper I finished weeding the herb bed. The weeds sure grow fast in there where I didn't get mulch put down. But its clean now so maybe that will hold it for a week or so. My lil tiny Mexican sour gherkin vines are so pretty, but tiny and fragile looking. I guess they are supposed to look that way. I did see a few blooms on them too. Tomorrow I will need to check on the cukes in the big garden to see if I can make some pickles. Yuck! I still have 2 rows of strawberries over there to weed as well. Rodger has been trying to get the mowing done so he don't have to worry with that over the holiday weekend. We are hoping to have a family get-together on Sunday for Rodgers family so they can see Rob and Amoy. Yeas! my lil boy will be home this weekend. I cant wait to see them. Its been a long time since Thanksgiving. Rob called earlier this evening to say they were leaving Elko about 6 pm their time. They will arrive here in the wee hours Saturday. Please say a prayer for their safe travel. A 30 hour road trip can be kinda tiring.
Not much else happening here, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

So happy, finally got kraut started

I have been wanting kraut for a couple weeks now and finally got some of my cabbage cut and shredded this evening. I raised red and green cabbage. I had to use my wine making bucket (6 gal. capacity) to hole the green cabbage when I got it shredded. I ended up with about 3 1/2 gallons of kraut making in the bucket. I use a lid to weigh the cabbage down and keep it under the liquid with a jar filled with water to hold that down. Then the lid on the bucket with an airlock in it to keep out nasties. The red cabbage was shredded an put in the German fermenting crock. It was about 1/2 full. I use about 1 tablespoon of kosher or canning salt per average cabbage head shredded. This usually come out perfect without being too salty. You should be able to taste the saltiness in the liquid once the cabbage starts to give up its liquid. The salt acts as a preservative to kill off back bacteria till the good bacteria from the cabbage cant take over and make lactic acid. Kraut made in this fashion contains lots of good flora for the intestines and can actually wipe out yeast infections, thrush and such caused by antibiotic use. Also kraut adds some good acids to the stomach that aid digestion as well, especially helpful in digesting meat. Never heat kraut you are wanting the goodness from, heat will kill off the probiotics. Fermented food it said to help the body heal from most any illness caused by bad intestinal flora and poor digestion. A wonderful book to have on the shelf to read is the Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. The info in the book is based on studies done by Dr. Weston A. Price.
Not much else going on here. I have really been under the weather the past couple weeks. I had to see the doc on Monday due to a knot in the right side of my neck. Think I probably had some infection in there cause by some dental work done. Needless to say taking antibiotics can sure make the body feel pretty crappy. Thanks to my friend Deb I do have Kefir grains and have Kefir to help put back some probiotics so the antibiotics don't upset my system too bad. Kefir is really a soothing drink for the body. It has a more varieties of live cultures than does yogurt. What ever I have going on sure drains my energy pretty fast. So till I get thru the antibiotics I think I am gonna try to take it easy. I got to get better soon, I will have green beans to pick before long and sweet corn too.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

The canning season has begun

The canning season has begun for us finally. Went to the garden today and pulled the beets. I had about a bushel an a half of em to work up. Got those all washed and if ya ever washed beets you know they need many washings to get all the sand off. Finally got them in the 2 big water bath canners to cook. It really don't take lone to get them done but my body just don't hold up like it used to. Got those 2 cookers done an had to clean one canner of em so I could re-load it with more beets to cook. I had raised 3 different varieties of beet this year, cylindrical, Detroit dark red and some golden beet seeds in the mix. And a few were totally white. Not even sure where those came from. I did learn the cylindrical beets are firmer and take longer to cook. IF and when I ever order beet seed again (got a 1/4 lb) I will be getting all Detroit dark red. They are not fibrous, easy to cook an dark in color. Any way I ended up with 12 quarts and 9 pints of beet pickles. So yummy. And my body knows I have been on my feet all day too.  Dang how do I get thru this canning season. I should have a ton of green beans in a couple weeks. The Ky wonders and the tobacco worm beans are both blooming really well. The tomatoes have green tomatoes setting on and they are getting big. Hard to believe the sweet corn is tasseling. We did dig a mess of new potatoes today after we pulled the beets. It is early yet but if the ones we got today were any indication we should have nice size potatoes when we dig them. I cut some of the broccoli that was ready and pulled a few carrots to have some fresh veggies and dip with my creamed new potatoes for supper. Rodger had green beans and new taters. My plan is to cut the cabbage tomorrow evening or Monday and get the kraut made. I have a lot of nice big heads that are ready. I am really wanting some good kraut, my belly just needs it. Crock made sauerkraut has lots of good probiotics in it that are very beneficial to the human body and aids in digestion. My kraut has all the good stuff in it because I do not heat treat the kraut at any point. So I am really looking forward to packing my German fermenting crock full of shredded cabbage.OK enough of the good food stuff.
Last evening I was outside for longer than expected cause Jason thought I was in the house taking a nap when he left an locked me out of the house. I sat out with the lil chickens and was entertained by them for a good while. I found a few earth worms for them to peck at and they were so funny. Once they decided they must be edible the chase was on. I picked the Japanese beetles off the grapevines and gave those to the chicks too. Those bugs will stick to anything and one bug got on one of the chicks wing feathers. Kinda reminded me of me when I see a snake. Lots of hollerin an dancin around. Guess it don't take much to keep me occupied.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

More rain sure makes weeds grow

We have had rain every day for the past week or so. The garden is mud and we did have some low areas of standing water in the sweet corn till today. After supper Rodger got the lil tractor cause its 4 wheel drive an took a plow and cut a trench from the low areas toward the river to help drain the standing water. So maybe my sweet corn wont need to swim now. Not much of it was waterlogged but I just hate to lose any at all once I work that hard to grow it. We had another rain shower this evening after he got done. I got more herbs cut an dried today. Now I have a good bit of oregano and tarragon dried. I cut some parsley also and chopped it an put it in the freezer. Sometimes I like to use fresh parsley in dishes but other times dried works just fine. Sometimes a dish just needs the freshness of raw parsley. Same with the borage. Both herbs just add a fresh flavor to many soups. I still have many more varieties to harvest an dry yet. I have had both dehydrators loaded today. So tomorrow I will do more. I am far behind on cutting the tea herbs this year. Not sure what the heck I been doin but it ain't been cuttin tea herbs.
My lil chickens are doing great. The oldest are barely 3 weeks old an already are looking for places to perch. There is a perch in their brooder house but they are not ready to fly the 18 inches or so it takes to get up on those. So they line up an perch on the board that sits across the doorway to keep bedding from falling out when ya open the door. Lazy lil critters they are. The lil fellows that I hatched in the incubator are growing like weeds. I love summer time and all the babies. I did get a couple pics of Jason's kittens the other night when we went to feed the hogs. They look like a den of lil tiny bears and already are opening their eyes.

Daisy and Delilah are growing and they are such sweet lil girls. Jason is going to work on leash training them soon. They are quite young and want no part of a leash right now, but they will learn. Right now they are only concerned with food and water an playing in the pool when its hot.
In the midst of all the harvesting herbs today I got around to saving a lot of seed from my hollyhocks. Those things were so pretty this year. See I plant stuff an it grows, does well and only then do I do some research on the plants to see the nature of them. I learned that if you plant them right now they will grow and make pretty plants this year and bloom early next summer. I started  mine last year, transplanted them in early summer and got the blooms this year. But the fact that they re-seed themselves is a big plus. But I surely do not want all those seedlings growing in that particular area. I pulled about a half gallon of seed pods off the spent plants today to share with friends who might want them. The hardest thing I find to start and grow is lavender. The germination rate on lavender seed is very low at best. If I am lucky I may end up with 2 or 3 new plants each year. I do love the scent of lavender when its in bloom. If I had a large bed of it I think I would plop a lounge chair right in the middle and just sit there inhaling the sweetness. But thas just me dreaming again.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, June 20, 2011

I slept thru the storm

We obviously had a pretty bad storm this morning and be dang I slept right thru it. I finally woke up (ahem) about 10 this morning and glanced at the security monitor and it looked like "stuff" all over the porch and deck. I got up and pulled the curtains back off the patio door and the deck was covered with debris, leaves, twigs and stuff. I kinda scratched my head and wondered just how much I missed. Rodger called from work to see if I was OK after it cleared off. But it was really dark at 10 this morning. We do have some trees and big limbs down on our road but no damage to buildings or anything like that thankfully. Our yard looks like a hurricane went thru with a bag of green tree leaves and just sprinkled em all over the place.

In the second picture to the right is the front door and there were wet green leaves stuck on the wall near the door. Am thinking the wind was doing some sideways stuff. I ask Rodger if we got hail and he said they didn't at his work but I think we did here. I could see some damage to some of the plants in my herb bed. They looked beat. Not to mention most of the leaves on the porch and deck looked shredded. We did go check on the garden and it is just soggy in the field. We have a couple low areas over there that have standing water in them. My sweet corn is leaning a good bit but not totally on the ground so hopefully it will straighten back up some as it dries out. My strawberry plants in the big garden are blooming again and the raspberries had some ripe ones on the plants so we got to taste those. They wont produce much this year but should do well next season.  I pulled a cabbage head to make slaw tomorrow and a broccoli head. The cabbage is nice and sweet because we have not had much really hot weather so far. I will probably make kraut in a couple weeks. This is the first year also that we have not had a problem with worms on the cabbage and broccoli and they have not been sprayed. I must pull the beets next week and get those worked up as they are getting really big. I prefer them golf ball size but most of these will need to be sliced to make pickled beets.
I had to feed the hogs this evening as Jason will be working late. They have finally started eating really good after the shock of moving them wore off. They had been kinda picky and not wanting the pellets and corn as they were used to eating crushed feed but as of now they are eating all we put in there. I did save the outer cabbage leaves for them for tomorrow night. When I start harvesting things from the garden they should be happy with veggie peelings and scraps.
My baby chicks are so fun to watch and goodness they are growing and changing every day. They are so many different colors and breeds its really hard to say who is the cutest. I think I will have to fence off my flower beds and grape vines before long so the lil chicks can go outside during the day. There are enough of them to make a disaster out of the flower beds in one day if they get in there. Luna should enjoy baby sitting the chickens when they are big enough to roam about.
Not much else happening around the homestead this week. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Uhoh! Its been a while

Well if you are a faithful reader, ya know its been a while since I have posted. So I will try to give ya an update on what lil I have been doing. I will just have to use the terms "the other day" cause I sure cant remember what day I did what.
But for starters last weekend we got the garden worked out and hoed for probably the last time as the plants are really too big to plow thru again. Then we got rain an things really grew. I had lil tomatoes setting on and cabbage starting to head up. I sprayed the taters for those dang bugs last weekend and within 4 hours it poured rain and that was all gone. I went back a few days later when it wasnt raining and sprayed again with a different chemical as the first one did no good. I think the first spray was viagra cause next time there was an awful lot of lil bugs to contend with. Anyway as most intelligent people know, use caution with pesticides. I was using the garden pressure sprayer, the kind ya pump up and spray. Well I used 1 gallon of spray and was empty and ready to refill. To release the pressure and get all the pressure out of the tank you turn them upside down and hold the nozzel down till then stop hissing and nothing is coming out, right? I did and it stopped hissing. Little did I know that with some pressure in the tank the nozzle clogged. So I proceeded to unscrew the top to refill and the pressure sprayed the chemical on me, down my arm, and on the side of my face. I did have enough forethought to turn my head to the side. I am certain I absorbed a good deal of the chemical thru the skin cause next day and night I was too sick to die. If it made the bugs half as sick as it did me they are dead as much as they got. Anyway I finished spraying the taters that night and came to the house and got a shower. But for about 2 or 3 days I felt like I had been melted an poured out. The being sick dehydrated me really bad. As of today I do feel much better. Better enough to get out of the house and make a trip to town to get supplies. Ya know the cleaning stuff, soap, shampoo, that kinda shopping. Dang it took me  3 hours to get done so we are stocked back up on necessities. I like the dollar store for lil grocery items too. I picked up crackers, chunked ham for sandwiches for me, speghetti sauce (out of homecanned), dog treats, bleach, dish soap, paper towels and a few other things that we use that are kinda necessary. Then on to the grocery store. OMG things sure change when ya dont get out any more than I do. Prices have gone outa sight. Not to mention, for example, in frozen foods, I looked at salmon fillets, Packaged In CHINA for goodness sake.  Hamburger was runnin $2.99 a lb and looked like it was 50/50. Thas a tough one when you are use to having deer burger than is 99% lean. So a package of that will be mixed with deer burger for grilling later. Any way I got my 6 month dose of sticker shock and came home.
The last few days I have been working on getting my herbs cut and some dried and some frozen. My new herb bed is looking really good. The plants are growing really well. Even the Stevia that I started from seed is big enough to start harvesting. But the past few days I have also been researching the herbs that I raise and uses and that sort of thing. Stevia is best left till late fall to harvest as it gets sweeter with the cool days and nights of fall. So good thing I havent taken the scissors to it. So far I have cut sage, marjoram, summer savory and dried those. I cut a lot of borage and sliced it in julienne strips and froze that. Borage has a cucumber flavor and just adds "something" to soups. It is best added after the soup is cooked for a fresh flavor and the frozen will do better for that than dried. I do intend to dry some as well for medicinal tea. I still have a bunch of things to cut an dry as we go along.
This week the eggs in my incubator hatched. Not a good hatch rate, 13 out of 43, but the chicks were healthy and vigorous. They were eating within the first 24 hours. They have been in a container here in the house till they were strong enough to go live in the brooder house with their cousins. I have the impression cross-bred chicks just have better instincts than pure bred birds.

Aren't they cute? They were really quiet lil fellows too. Didnt make a lot of noise whern I had them in here. These lil birds hatched on Tuesday (aha, I remembered) and I just got the 50 others 2 weeks ago tomorrow. There is a good bit of size difference in them but the bigger chicks are terrified of the lil bitty ones. So funny, the big bullies ran off to the corner scared outa their wits. Well maybe to them they thought I had put a bunch of mice in there with em. 
I went to Jason's house this evening and got to see the lil kittens he has. His cat had babies this past weekend, 5 of em, all black too.
Not much else been happenin here, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Its hot again, a few task accomplished

Didn't get much done today, just a few minor task. We got about a bushel of corn shelled for the hogs this morning. That should do them for a couple weeks. They have been eating crushed and mixed feed so they are not sure about the scraps and pellets we are feeding. They will figure it out in a day or so and eat better. In the meantime they do like to root out holes and fill them in again.
I went to help Jason give the puppies a bath today with flea shampoo. They like water but are not the least bit thrilled with taking a bath. But we got em done. Really not much dog under all that fur when ya get em wet.

I guess if you are a puppy and get a bath in the sun you can still shiver. But hopefully this will rid them of the fleas they have picked up somewhere. But giving these puppies a bath has convinced me NOT to try giving Luna a bath.
When I got back to my house I did get some stakes put up and tied up some tomato plants that are here near the house in various beds. The ones I will save seed from. The hard rain last evening pounded some of my lil herbs out of sight. So guess those 2 will just be gone for this year as it is a lil too late to get them going good this year anyway. Herbs need to be started really early in our area so they can be put outside after the last frost and get established before the summer heat gets here. Otherwise they usually wont survive. I guess it would help if I could remember to water them every day.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

The pigs are finally here

Well actually they are well beyond pigs. Weighing in at 220 and 230 lbs, they are not small. These are some of the nicest looking shoats that I have seen in a good while. They are plenty fat already but we intend to grow them till probably early December before butchering them.

Nice lil pigs eh? We got a ton a rain today as the fellers were bringing the hogs home. So they had to be taken to the barn in the mud. These hogs have lived their life on a concrete floor and don't know how to walk on dirt. These animals came from the private christian school's hog farm where my boys graduated, Oneida Baptist Institute. When Jason was in high school he worked on their summer program one year and his job was on the hog farm. This is where he learned to castrate pigs and do it right. They do raise some nice hogs there. I would so love to have a setup like they have for raising hogs. The hogs they raise are raised for meat and cross bred to achieve a good meat hog. They are a cross between a Landrace, Duroc, Hampshire, and Yorkshire. I have seen the brood sows and I am certain they will hit well over 600 lbs.
While I was at Jason's house I went to see the girls. The lil girls have been playin in the mud.

Can we say "dirty lil girls". I think they have a bath lined up and new collars. They got some fleas on them from being in the grass. Giving those 2 a bath will be an experience.

Rodger got in the garden about 7 this morning and got the hoeing done and then ran the tiller to get rid of the weeds that had started. I went over a lil later and sprayed the taters and maters. The Colorado potato beetles were eatin on both of them. The garden looked so nice. Then this afternoon it came a downpour. So there went my spray medicine I guess. It did stay on for several hours, but not sure if that was long enough to kill the bugs or not. Guess we will see in a few days. The tomatoes do have lil maters setting on, the cabbage is starting to head up, beets are bigger than a large egg which is about the size I like to make pickled beets. This rain should make things grow really well tho.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Its hot and the rain missed us

Our temps have been in the 90's here for several days and the humidity is awful. This afternoon it clouded over an made a lot of noise but no significant rain. It barely dampened the deck. But it did cool off a lil bit. The gardens are growing really good in spite of not having rain. We are hoping to get the garden worked out this weekend and that too will help. It serves 2 purposes, aerates the soil and gets rid of any weeds and grass that have come up since last time. The tobacco worm beans need to be trellised as they have runners on them now. They should be blooming before too long. Its hard to believe we are well into June and the gardens are small yet. We should have had fresh tomatoes and beans by July 4th but I sure don't think that is gonna happen. I know the tomatoes wont be ripe by then. I may have the beets canned by then tho as they are the earliest thing in the garden so far. Oh well, what is to be will be.
I should have a load of wood chips for mulch tomorrow. The contract crew that is cleaning the power company right of way said they would dump as many loads as I want on our property and be happy to do so. They need a place to dump them and I surely can use a bunch of those to mulch ornamental with as well as the herb bed. I know the trees have not been sprayed as all the chips will be off my property. It will just be a matter of getting them hauled to the places I need them. That probably will involve a fork and 4 wheeler with the wagon. Not a job that can be done in the mid-day heat tho.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Daisy and Delilah

The puppies now have names, Daisy and Delilah. I think Daisy is all white and Delilah has dark ears. They are so cute. Jason said he was playing with em this morning and took some pics. Dont they have cute lil smiles?

The lil girls sitting beside their pool. They will get in the water when they get hot and this will make a nice place for them to cool off. Luna don't know they live in the neighborhood yet and I think when she finds out she will be guilty of puppynappin.
I had some minor chores to get done today. Got more homemade laundry detergent made so I can do laundry tomorrow. I did go to the garden and put the fertilizer on the melons and pumpkins that are finally up. The potatoes look pretty good for a change.
These look better and have kept their leaves longer than any potatoes we have had in the past few years.

The beets will be ready to harvest in a couple weeks I think. And the beans beside them are doing really good. They  are the heirloom variety Kentucky wonder bush bean that we ordered from Baker Creek seeds this year. ALL our garden veggies are heirloom now and we can save our own seed.

Where the grass is we have trees planted there, That is the new orchard we started last spring. The trees are small and young yet but they will grow. They have grown a good deal just since last year.

I am standing near the row of raspberry plants with the orchard behind me looking west. Just beyond the strawberries that have been mulched was just disc again today and Ladino clover planted there. Toward the front of the truck is the main garden and to the rear is the corn field. We had so much rain for a while that I am kinda afraid to say we need rain. But it would make things take off and grow better. Gentle summer rains make plants grow by leaps and bounds. Although the gardens here will be able to get water being so close to the river.
This has been the extent of my day. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Babies and getting more babies

I got the early morning call today to come pick up my lil babies at the post office. I got up and got some coffee so I could see and walk and then went an picked up the lil chicks. Oh my they are so cute. All colors and some even came with lil feather boots. They are adorable.

It sure don't take long for these lil critters to be running all over the place. I also noticed that some of them had lil side-burns poofed out. Made em look like chipmunks. Anyway only lost 1 in shipment and one was pretty weak from being mashed. I sat with the weak one for about an hour this morning and kept giving him drinks of water with vitamin supplement in it and it finally got enough strength to get around good so I left em be. This evening the lil fellow was doing good considering he was on the verge of death.
Tomorrow I am meeting my friend Rosie and her hubby Sam at a nearby state park to pick up the 2 great Pyrenees puppies that Jason is getting. He will be busy finishing up his puppy pen. I cant wait to see these lil things. I know how sweet Luna is and she is grown, I can imagine lil puppies like her.
Not much happening here on the homestead today other than Rodger getting new tires for his old rototiller. The tires were past worn out. After all they are 28 years old. So he got the new ones put on and plowed out the 2 rows of beans that were too lil to plow last weekend. Then he too the tractor and cultivators out and plowed the other corn field that was planted a lil later. He says it has come up really good.
I hope to get some pics tomorrow of the new puppies and the garden to post.
Till then, blessing from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The strawberries are mulched

Finally, the strawberries have mulch around them. Before it has always been too wet to get in the patch so it got put off. Then we had priorities, getting the main garden worked out. Then my help abandoned me last evening to help Jason build a pen for his puppies that will be here this weekend. This evening after we ate supper we finally got in there and Rodger tilled and Jason and I spread the straw. The plants are kinda small yet but we did get a good layer of straw around them. They will grow taller because of the straw surrounding them. Maybe this fall when they bloom again we can get a few berries. They do look so much better and well kept.

Ya have to agree it does look better. I love being in fresh plowed ground with bare feet. Nothing in the world like it. I'm sure that wont last long as there is a row of raspberry plants to the right of the strawberries.

 As soon as these things get big enough to drop thorns on the ground there will be no more barefoot stuff in the berry patch. Some of the raspberries do have lil berries on them. So I will at least get to sample them this year and hope to be blessed with lots next years. These are surrounded with rotted straw and compost from the chicken houses. That should make em grow.
The berry patch is about the extent of our accomplishments today. The fellers worked and I had to stay in out of the heat. But I cant complain, at least its not raining everyday.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.