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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Butchering, canning cushaw, prepping for winter

Our weather turned colder this weekend after a couple days of rain. The rain is always needed but I could live without the cold weather. After the sun came out yesterday it wasn't too bad. Rodger and I got out and got the 2 deer skinned out and the meat processed for the freezer. I takes a while to skin, de-bone and cut up the meat and grind the burger. So now we have a good bit of meat in the freezer. The deer had been hanging for about 2 weeks in the summer kitchen with the air conditioner running to keep it cool. That method seemed to work well. I had some other projects that needed to be done. One of which was butcher off the 3 excess roosters we had. So the plan was we butcher them today. Last evening 2 of the buff roosters didn't come back to roost. I guess they went across the road and it got dark and they couldn't find their way back up here. Needless to say something made a meal of one of them. But we still got the other 2 butchered and I made the stock and got that canned up this after noon and Rodger cleaned the building and put down fresh straw for the pullets. He moved the nest box in the building for them as well. They all will need it soon hopefully. One hen is already laying. While I waited on the stock to cook down I figured I may as well make use of the time I had out in the summer kitchen. I cut up and peeled 2 of the big cushaws and got those ready to can. So they were all cubed up, I washed them, packed them into quart jars, covered with water, put the lids on and pressure canned them for 40 minutes. By time the chicken stock was done the cushaw only liked a few minutes. I still had time to chop the green tomatoes that I had picked last evening before they got frosted on. I had 8 bags of those to freeze for fried green tomatoes later on. We also chopped a quart zip top bag of bell peppers to freeze. I am sure my joints will hate me tomorrow for using my hands all day. But for now I think the preserving is caught up. At least till the first weekend in December when we butcher hogs. That will be a killer big job. That will be a lot of meat to process. The hogs will both be killed the same day, then the lard rendered the second day. But if the fellers get more deer during modern gun season we will have those to process as well. Plus the half of beef we are getting too. I may can some of the deer meat for sure this year. With the beef I really don't think I will have any freezer space. But that is a good thing. We just know we will have a good supply of meat on hand to do us till next fall.
It has been a long day for sure. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Homesteaders convention, first egg

At the request of some friends I will share with you all some of the pictures from the homesteaders convention or meet-up last weekend.

Above left to right: Deb Todd, Tony (whtdrgn), Tonys wife Karen, Rick(KyHome), Randy(rwwoodcock).

 Deb and Mark in the chicken plucking competition. Great job to all participants. Now Rosie has some chickens in the freezer and hopefully some folks learned a few tips on butchering and cutting up birds.

Randy and I decapitating chickens getting ready for the chicken plucking competition.

Rosie and Sam plucking their chicken while I coach and Sheryl (dachsmom) looks on.

Rick holding a dead nekkid bird. Not sure if he is happy about this task or not. But he did a great job.

Not sure if Randy is going up or coming down. lol Actually he is demonstrating how to set snares for catching small game .

Above left to right: Sheryl (dachsmom), Don (12v), Mark and the back side of Rosie.

Above left to right: Mark Todd, Deb Todd (hippiechick), Sam and Rosie, the host for the homesteader get together. 

Randy, myself and Danny (dgr's hubby) looking for the handle to the iron skillet we had burned out in the bonfire the night before. One skillet cracked and lost a handle, the other 2 came out fine. They are in the process of being re seasoned.

 Back on the farm. Rodger took feed out to the chicken house for me this evening and found this in the chicken house. This is the first egg from my young pullets. So I know I have at least 1 Easter egger out there. The other pullets should follow suit shortly as they are all about the same age.

Not much else happening here on the farm. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Time to start putting things to bed

Its time for us to start putting some thing in the gardens to bed for winter. The weather was really nice today so I got out and got started weeding and cleaning out some of the beds here at the house.I had planted herbs in what used to be my strawberry pyramid and had 1 huge tomato plant in there as well. The chickens kept eating the tomatoes so I pulled the vine out. I had no idea that tomato plants had roots that large. I used my lil gardening fork to get out all the weeds and stir up the soil a bit. It looked much neater when I got finished. I secured the netting around the bed to keep the chickens from digging all the soil out or making a dust bath in there. Then I got the asparagus bed dead-headed. I still need to get the lil weeds out of there and get mulch put in for winter. But somehow I got sidetracked like I am known to do and moved on to the big herb bed out front. I had made the mistake of planting a couple castor bean plants out there and they were far too big to pull out. I had Rodger cut them down with a hatchet and disposed of them finally. I got the spent basil pulled out and off the compost. The seed from the basil had dried on the plants and fallen to the ground. So next year they will come up and hopefully I wont have to start basil plants. Basil is an annual but will reseed itself if left the mature in place. I found a couple tiny lil Mexican sour gherkin plants in the herb bed as well. I guess I missed a few lil cukes at harvest time and they sprouted and came back up. For the most part the new section of the herb bed is done and waiting mulch. I still need to get the mints deadheaded and ready to mulch in. Rodger was going to help me do that this evening but it started to rain right after he helped get the castor bean plants out. We are supposed to have rain for a couple days and the temps will drop to around 30 at night an high of 50 in the daytime. I have been really lazy this week when I should have gotten my chicken house cleaned out and fresh bedding put in for the pullets. They should start laying real soon. It will be nice to have my own eggs again. My friend Deb brought me enough to last us for a couple weeks till mine get busy.
Our plan for the weekend is to get the 2 deer skinned out and the meat processed this weekend. It will be nice to have extra meat in the freezer again. In the past year we may have purchased 20 lb of meat total. We raise all our own veggies and have our own meat here on the farm. I know it is healthier for us and we know how the meat was handled.
Not much else happening here on the farm right now. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Visiting new friends, fall chores

This past weekend I went to central Ky to meet some new friends that I have talked to online for a couple years. All of them homesteaders like us. I really enjoyed meeting these nice folks and learned some things along the way. Don and Sheryl came down from Ohio, they live totally off-grid on solar power. Don is a genuis when it comes to all things solar. He brought along some solar panels and set those up to charge batteries so he could show a movie on Saturday evening. Really neat.  My friend Deb and her hubby Danny came up from Mississippi and brought their camper. I slept in their camper over the weekend and as usual Deb and I sat up late talking and visiting.  She brought a bunch of 2 and 5 gallon food grade buckets to share with folks that could use them. She gets them for free in her town. I was tickled pink to have buckets. They are great for storing dry goods in the cellar. Things such as flour, sugar, cornmeal, bags of pasta and such. We cant get buckets near us and if you do they cost $5 each. Randy came to the homesteaders convention. He only lives a short piece from Rosie. Randy demonstrated setting snares to catch small game for food.  My good friends Rosie and Sam hosted the event at their place. Tony and Karen came to visit and sit around the bon fire with us and make smores.  Rick lives about an hour from Rosie and he drove down on Saturday to spend the day with us. Deb and Mark live nearby and are good friends with Rosie and Sam. They both spent the weekend with us. I had met Deb before and it was nice to spend some time with her and get to know her. She brought her spinning wheel and demonstrated spinning wool. As for me, I got talked into butchering some chickens to demonstrate how to do it efficiently. So hopefully now every one can feel a lil more confident in their butchering skills. Deb did a video of the chicken butchering process. I think she is goin to upload it to youtube and when she does I will post the link here for you all to see if you wish.  There was plenty of good food all weekend. And lots of good times visiting with friends. Rosie made a primitive cooker to cook a stew in on Friday night. It was made by putting a large stock pot in a large box. Pack hay or straw around the cooker. Remove the cooker and cover the straw with a sheet leaving the empty spot for the cooker to go back in later. Start the stew of your choice in the pot and bring to a boil. Set the pot back in the space you made in the straw inside the box, put a lid on and cover that with a heavy blanket. Let cook for 5 to 6 hours or till ready to eat. They stew will continue to cook inside the pot with heat held by the straw. A really neat idea to conserve fuel in times of shortage. I think we all left on Sunday looking forward to the next get-together.
I came home from the weekend very tired. Although we had a great time, I was exhausted. I got home on Sunday and unloaded most of the stuff in my truck. Monday I think I slept most of the day. I had a bunch of buckets in my truck that needed to be thoroughly cleaned so I can use them to store my flour, sugar and such in the cellar. Now I need to get the 50 lbs of flour out on the freezer and let it come to room temperature and get it in those buckets. I did manage to get my pantry here in the kitchen organized a lil better today too. All my jars of home dried herbs had labels on the lid but to find what ya need you had to take all the jars out to read the label. Now I have labels on the sides as well so they are easier to see. Maybe that will save some time when I am baking or cooking. If it dont rain tomorrow I hope to get my herb bed cleaned up and ready for winter. The asparagus bed and onion/strawberry beds also need to be put to bed for winter. Our weather is supposed to turn colder and wet later this week. I am just not ready for winter. I love the pleasant mild weather of fall most of all. At least it comes around once a year to be enjoyed.
Till mext time ,blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Photos of fall around here

Today as I was outside just walking around checking on the herb bed and different planting here I did take some photos. For this late time in fall lots of things are still green and growing. My friend Sheri sent me seeds for Red House Free Standing tomato. It amazes me at how green and healthy the plant is after all the others are gone.

I even had a couple of tomatoes on this plant that were ripe. In the background of this photo is the parsley I planted this year that has done great and still growing.
The Castor beans are huge. These plants make risin in the soil to deter moles. I cant say we have even had moles in the whole yard this summer.

I am thinking I will have plenty of Castor bean seeds for next year. Folks around here call them "dog ticks" as that is what the seeds look like. We have not had any moles in our yard or my herb bed all summer and had bunches of them last year when I didn't have Castor beans. So maybe they work.

The photo above is my stevia plants. They are supposed to get sweeter with cooler weather in fall so they are still out. Just have to make sure they don't get frost bit.
Not a lot happening here, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Typical Fall Week

The weather has been great this week, just typical fall weather. Not too hot, not too cool. Most of my week has been spent trying to recover from jet lag. Today I went to visit Mom and got back home around noon. We had rain yesterday and again today. With the gentle rain lots of the leaves have come down as well. Still lots of color and beauty around tho. Ah, my favorite season. As fall approaches and winter is close it only means for me a short time of rest. But before that there is still lots to do. The fellows are gonna be deer hunting this weekend. They have all their stuff together to hunt this weekend and I guess my job is to provide the food to keep em happy. I made 2 loaves of bread and some chocolate chip cookies this evening for them. I guess tomorrow they will decide what else they want to eat. They will hunt Saturday and Sunday then back to work on Monday. Next weekend some friends from BHM forum are getting together in central Kentucky for the weekend. I am so looking forward to that meet up. Should be a busy fun weekend for all of us.
After that weekend outing I should be able to be home for almost 3 weeks then its off the cook for a bunch of deer hunters in west Kentucky. That should be fun. I helped my aunt with that project last year and it was nice. That should keep me busy till the Monday after Thanksgiving and then I will be home for good hopefully. I really need to get busy and do my part of planning the menu for the hunting camp or my aunt Ann might get a lil nervous not having a plan. And she surely don't need more stress in her world. With the fellows out of the house this weekend maybe I can sit still and think and get a plan together.
I still don't have my cushaws canned yet. Rodger did put them in the cellar for me while I was away so they are OK. I would just like to have them all canned and ready to use. I think I will be taking some of them with me to the BHM meet up and some butternut squash as well to share with some friends there. Good thing I started a list of thing I need to take with me to that event.
Not much else happening here. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Home on the homestead again

I am back home at last on the farm. I had a wonderful week visiting with my son Rob and daughter-in-law Amoy last week in Nevada. When I got there the weather was really nice and warm, then by mid week it got cold and snowed a bit. There weather changes more than Kentucky weather I do think. Good thing I had taken my long johns with me.
They picked me up on Friday night in Salt Lake City, we had a late dinner and then drove on the Elko and finally got the their house about 3 AM on Saturday morning. I think we all slept in on Saturday and then they took me for a drive to the mountains. It is hard to believe there was still snow on some of the higher mountains in Nevada after all the hot weather we all had this past summer. But here is proof.

You can still see the white snow on top of the mountains in the distance. And it was warm enough at this distance up the canyon for short sleeves. When we got to the end it was cold enough for a sweat shirt.

Somebody is pregnant! Guess who? Yes we are expecting our first grandchild in April. Cant wait to be a Grammy. But that don't mean the lil grand dog will get replaced tho.

It was a really nice drive and the weather was good that day. Later in the week, well not so much. This is the view from Rob and Amoy's back door. I was not ready for snow and winter weather on my vacation.
I am sure the yard will look different in spring after they get the landscaping done and have actual grass instead of tumble weeds. In the mean time its a nice sandbox for the dog. 
When I got home to the farm it was short sleeve weather here but we are to get some rain later in the week along with cooler temps. While I was away Rodger got our garden turned under and its ready to seed down. Jason had bought some hard red winter wheat to sow for a cover crop. The plan is to only plow under part of the wheat next spring for a garden spot and let the rest of the wheat mature and harvest it for grinding. Rodger also picked the last of the bell peppers before he plowed and I got those all sliced up and in the freezer today. They also got all our potatoes put in crates and in the cellar. The sweet potatoes are still in the barn curing before they get put away.Rodger also stored my butternut squash and cushaws in the cellar for me too.  Tomorrow I really need to spend some time cleaning up my herb bed and getting it ready for winter. And its time to sow onion seeds too. So that will be on my list for tomorrow as well before the rain comes on Wednesday or Thursday. 
Not much else happening here right now, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Blogging from across the country

It has been a while since I last posted here. Gosh I am so slacking. But just to update a little bit. Last Friday September 30th I flew out of Lexington headed to Nevada to see Rob and Amoy and spend some time with my kids. Should be back on the farm about October 9th. They picked me up in SLC airport on Friday night and we had a late dinner and drove on to their home in Elko Nevada. Kinda made for a long night for them not to mention me jumping time zones. But we arrived home late and went to bed. I vaguely remember laying down. We have had really nice weather so far. On Saturday we drove up to Lamoile canyon just sight seeing. It was a nice drive. It always amazes me to see snow still on some of the mountain tops after the hot summer we have had. It is a nice change of pace to see different places of beauty that God has created.
I am happy to know the kids have bought a really nice home in what seems to be a good quiet neighborhood. It is good that they have bought a home because now there is to be a lil one in April of next year. Might not be hard to figure out that I am gonna be a Grammy. Oh my!! I have the lil granddog Abby and now a real lil baby. I do feel so blessed.
Not much happening out here this week, this gram will just relax and enjoy my vacation. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead on the road.