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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Yipee, it was my 50th birthday

Well probably by the time this posts, my birthday will have passed. I can tell you that turning 50 is not for wimps. I got more things that hurt than most people 70 years old. This sucks. But I am amazed that I made it this far and am so very thankful. I got a ton of good wishes on Facebook today, hubby offered to take me to Red Lobster to eat but with our weather forecast I told him maybe we should wait and do it when the weather was better. I didn't want to get iced in out of town on my birthday. So instead we went to the store to get a box of hair color. OK so I color, deny my age, I will. No seafood for dinner but we did make a big kettle of potato soup and fried cornbread with onions. So dang good.
I have got some things done that needed doing today. I got our garden seeds ordered that we are gonna need. I ordered from both Baker creek heirlooms and Seed savers exchange. In the past few years we have tried a few varieties of beans, corn and such and have decided on the varieties that do best for us here and that is what we are gonna stick with so we can save our own seed. Although we are planting 2 varieties of sweet corn, Golden bantam and Stowells Evergreen. The Golden bantam will sprout and come up in cooler ground and can be planted earlier in the season in our area. It is a good old fashioned variety of yellow sweet corn. The Stowells Evergreen is a white sweet corn that can be planted a lil later to extend the harvest. As for green beans, we like the taste of the Kentucky wonder. Neither of us here have a good back so if we can stand up and pick beans all the better. So my friend Randy from central Ky sent me some Ky wonder pole beans, the variety we like only in a climbing variety. So we can save seed from those as well. A gentleman that Rodger works with gave us some white half runners that we love also. So that will be our beans for the coming year. The seed corn I did order so we can have sweet corn that is true to variety and a pure strain. I also replenished our carrot seed supply. All the other seeds we need, we already have from saving them from last year.
In all this online ordering I ordered a dress to wear to Rob and Amoy's wedding in February in Las Vegas. Gosh that is not far off. Rodger bought a new pair of dress shoes for the wedding. I still will need to find shoes to wear. But that is taken care of. The plane tickets, hotel and transportation are all taken care of as well.
My regular readers may remember a few months back when I was fussing about my carpet shampoo machine breaking. Well I found one almost identical on for a really good price plus I had a gift card to apply to the price. Yippee for me, now I have a carpet machine on the way. That should give me something to do this winter.
It is almost time for lots of folks to start making New years resolutions. I don't make resolutions I guess I just try to better "me" every day. Some days I think I succeed, some days, not so much. But in the coming year I do want for Rodger and I to try to take better care of ourselves. That will include cutting way back or stopping smoking. I have already told Rodger that after new years day we cant smoke in the house any more unless its an electronic cigarette. My sweet son Rob bought me one of the electronic cigarettes and I think they help a lot to cut back. Now I need to order cartridge refills for them.
We are hoping that the weather cooperates a lil more tomorrow so we can get our deer skinned out and processed. I really need my summer kitchen. I am out of home canned mixed bean soup and need to make and can more of that. Also still have the small sweet potatoes that I need to can. Rob bought me one of the magnetic knife racks to keep my knives sharp and safely stored in the summer kitchen and I have not been able to get in there to get it mounted on the wall. Maybe after tomorrow. Jason and I are cooking our holiday dinner tomorrow of turkey and he is making the ham. Yummy!! Jason makes ham but putting ham of your choice in roasting pan and adding apple cider about half way up the ham and adding about 1 cup brown sugar making sure to coat the top of the ham well and bake in 200 degree oven over night. Oh my, this ham is sooo very good. You should try this method sometime, it is awesome.
Not much else happening here on the farm, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Its officially time to hibernate

Our forecast is for snow and rain, freezing weather, the whole mess. I don't drive in weather like that. I stay home and hibernate when the weather turns to crap. But on the bright side I will surf the web and get my garden planned and heirloom seeds that I need ordered in. We already have our plane tickets and hotel booked for February in Las Vegas for Rob and Amoys wedding. Dang that is not long off either. This year is almost to its end and then we are on the down hill slide to spring and greenhouse preps and gardens. Kinda hard to imagine that with snow on the ground and corn still in the field.I think the older we get the faster time goes by. I have a birthday on Saturday and with that one I figure my life is half over at best. Kinda scary if ya think about it.
What kind of new years resolutions do you make? I am not big on making so called resolutions. I think I rather try everyday to be a better person. Be more patient with others, take more time for friends and family. Be kinder to my own self. Now that would be a big accomplishment for me to be kinder to me. I tend to over do every thing I start. I guess I have always kept going to finish any thing I start and sometimes my mind writes checks my body cant cash. That makes for a big crash to recover. But such is my nature. So I think I shall try to do better at pacing my self this new year. I will let ya know how that goes.
I do have several sewing projects that I need to work on this winter while I am in hibernation. Nothing big, just a few lil things. I also want to get into making my own body lotions. I know some oils are great for the skin and if I add herbal tinctures to that I should end up with a good healing soothing lotion. I will post recipe and directions when I get this all figured out. So I am off to look up lotion recipes and properties. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

We have been blessed this year

I was just thinking today how blessed we really are here. It has been a busy year but successful one. We started the year with a nice vacation to see Rob and Amoy and spend time with them. They took us to Las Vegas for a few days. That was fun. Back home to being busy with the gardens and summer time stuff. Our gardens and crops did great this year in spite of the dry season. So thankful for that. I did can lots of veggies to last us thru the winter and beyond I hope. We did have several chickens to butcher this year as well. Still have some that need to go in the jars. I have a bunch of young roosters our setting hens hatched off that are mature enough to be harassing the hens. Much to the annoyance of the king of the flock. So seems there is a constant brawl going on in the chicken house. I am getting far more eggs than we can use. Hopefully Rodger's niece and her hubby can come get some of em soon. When I butcher off the excess roosters I think I will cull my laying flock as well. I surely don't need that many hens. I probably have 20 or more. Have not really took time to count them lately.
In November deer season Rodger came home with 3 deer total. Very thankful for the meat in the freezer. Then in muzzle loader season in December he got another doe. So more meat in the freezer. I spent the 2 weeks of muzzle loader season in west Ky at my aunts lodge again to help her out with that. We normally don't have hunters for muzzle loader season but this year she did have 8 hunters in camp. That kept me busy. And the guys were so nice, fun to talk to, just all around great guys. ALL of them have either beat cancer or some other major medical issue in their lives. So they were also great moral support for Aunt Ann. So far she has tolerated her chemo really well, not been sick, just tired and weaker than normal. But doing OK. For this I am so thankful. Please continue to keep her in your prayers.
After a busy couple weeks I am finally back home so I can hibernate for the winter. I did bring home some sewing projects from Aunt Ann's too. That should keep me occupied when the weather goes to crap. I have some quilt tops, some of which my late aunt Connie made that I would like to quilt and get finished. Also Aunt Ann gave me some embroidered quilt squares that my grandmother McKinney made. I think I might have those made into a baby quilt for a lil grand baby. I think I have enough squares to make 3 quilts. Hmmm.
Rodger spent the day getting our other corn crib cleaned out and ready to put the white corn in so we can shell and dry some to have ground into meal. And then whats left will be used as chicken feed. In winter the chickens will eat a lot of corn. It helps keep them warmer with all the carbs in it. Makes beautiful dark yellow yolks in the eggs too.
Rodger and I decided to make a trip to Walmart yesterday to get a few things we needed. Good grief, people are crazy this time of year. We did get the things we had on our list and didn't come home too broke. We stopped to see Tammy on our way home. She is coping as well as can be expected with  losing Carl last month. She still needs continued prayers to get her life back together after that sudden lose. He surely is missed by all of us. Love spending time with Tammy, wonderful lady. I am blessed to have great sisters in law. They are good christian ladies that love their families.
Tomorrow I think Rodger is gonna process his deer he brought home last week and get her in the freezer. Than maybe he can help me butcher the roosters and get them off the feed bill and stop the chicken house brawls. Just maybe. But would it be wrong to make a feller work on his birthday? I don't think Rodger would think much of spending his 55th birthday butchering. Guess only one way to find out eh? If I never update my blog again you all will know that didn't end well.
I really need to get busy in the house and do some closet cleaning and organizing. Thas what I do in winter time when I cant be out in the gardens and yard. Might even find more sewing projects to do this winter. I would like to make a big crocheted rag runner for the kitchen. I am betting if I clean closets I can find enough worn out clothes to make a big one.
Rodger did get online and order parts to fix our electric furnace today. So when we get those maybe we can get his neices' boyfriend to install them for a reasonable price and then we will have 3 sources of heat again. But even if we can fix the electric furnace we will still just heat with propane and the fireplace in the den. We find it is much cheaper to do that than to pay for electric but in the event the propane tank runs out in the middle of the night someone don't have to freeze to go switch tanks.
Not really much happening around here on the farm. But just reflecting on the years blessings and being thankful for the life we have. Till next time, blessings and Merry Christmas from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Busy couple weeks

The past couple weeks have kinda been a blur for me. I did get to see my sweet aunt Ann and her family for a week or so during the modern gun hunting season this year. I kinda managed the hunting lodge for her. She was starting some medical treatments at the same time and was getting pretty tired. I did call and talk to her today and she is positive and sounds great. I think I will try to go see her for a few days in December before the weather gets too bad. Love her bunches and just hate she was feeling rotten. But we are looking forward to next year when we can cook for the deer hunters in her lodge again. We always had such fun doing that.
I came home on the Sunday before Thanksgiving and made it to the house just a few hours before Rob and Amoy got here. Loved having my kids home for a visit.


Are these 2 cute together or what? I think this lil momma is gettin a lil belly. We are sure looking forward to May and a lil grand baby.

These 2 are the perfect match. I am so blessed with the best future daughters in law. Both beautiful ladies. And this one has blessed us with a sweet step granddaughter as well. Love this kid to pieces.

Above is Miranda and her momma Mary Kay. Mary Kay made cake for the thanksgiving dinner on Saturday. 
We didn't have our usual family thanksgiving dinner at Tammy's house this year. It has really been a tough holiday for her an her kids. Her hubby Carl, our brother in law got injured on Monday helping an older man move an out building and lost his battle on Wednesday. It sure broke our hearts. Carl was a wonderful brother in law, husband, father and friend to all who knew him. His immediate family made his funeral arrangements on Friday and we had family Thanksgiving dinner at our house on Saturday. ALL the families were here at our house, and it was full. I think we had a good dinner and I hope everyone had a lil time to just chill and relax for a lil while from all the stress and sadness. We have 2 new babies in the family this year so Rob and Amoy got a lil practice with the lil babies. 
Rob and Amoy had to leave our house at midnight on Saturday night to get to Louisville airport to catch their flight at 6am. They arrived at 4 am or so all to find that their flight never existed. Rob was so mad. They booked their flight thru Orbitz on Frontier airlines. I would NOT recommend either of these to anyone. They ended up not getting a flight out till after 4 pm on Sunday. So they spent the whole day sitting in the airport an finally arrived at their house in Elko Nevada 12 hours later than planned. I don't think I needed the stress of them being stuck there any more than they did. I know Amoy had to be really tired an stressed an she sure didn't need that right now. 
Sunday evening we went to visitation for Carl in Irvine. Not sure I have known any man that was so loved an respected as he was. I am certain there were at least 500 people who visited the family that evening. The funeral service on Sunday was beautiful. It was a good tribute to him, sad, lots of tears shed. I know I did my share. Then it was like a sudden cool breeze in summer time, I felt peace and comfort, and after that shed no more tears. Prayers for comfort do get answered. I know they did at that moment. God does work in mysterious ways for sure. 
In the midst of all this chaos, our furnace stopped working. No heat! oh my, but at least we do have a working wood fireplace in the den an a propane stove in the other end of the house, so technically we do have heat. That is as long as Rodger can keep the propane tanks filled at work. Right now the meter is not working on the big tank at work so we have to use the propane sparingly. During our family Thanksgiving dinner, Robbie, our step neices' boyfriend works in heating an air so he looked at the heating unit and we thought we had it fixed. Not sure now what ails it. But maybe he can look at it again and see if he can fix it or replace something to get us thru the winter till we can afforded to get a different heat and cooling system.
If it ain't one thing its 3. But Josh brought us 2 deer when he came down on Friday night. We will likely skin those out this coming weekend. More meat for the freezer. Also there is another muzzle loader season coming up in mid December. Guess the guys will be hunting that one too. If Jason don't go hunting I might go just to visit with Josh's parents and maybe sit in the stands with Dana. Loved hunting with her. We have not been able to hunt together for several years since I got hurt at work. I know it would be so fun. 
Not much else happening on the homestead. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Seems we gonna be busy

For the next few weeks it will be kinda busy around here on the farm. First off I have to leave on Thursday to go to western Ky to help my aunt with the hunting lodge again this year. Sure cant do the physical part of it anymore but will more or less be just keeping things in order and make sure things go smoothly. And I get to baby sit her lil dog Jack. Please keep my sweet aunt Ann in prayer as she starts her battle with cancer this week most likely with chemo and radiation. It will be tough for all of us for a while. I hope to be able to relieve her stress by taking care of the deer hunters and seeing that they are fed an have a clean lodge. I wont be back home to my house till November 18th. Rob and Amoy will be home that weekend so I must come home to spend the holiday with them. Rodger and Jason and probably Mary Kay will all be deer hunting for the next couple weeks. Not sure which ones are staying on the farm an which ones are going north to hunt. Be nice if I also bring home deer meat, ya think? I do enjoy working at the lodge but my body cant handle the long hours on my feet anymore. But back at home we will have Thanksgiving with Rodgers family on thanksgiving day and then I will fix dinner on Saturday for us here so local friends can come down and see Rob while he is here. The next week we will skin and process what deer we have harvested and get the meat in the freezer and canned up. Some time in all this mess Rodger and Jason will have to pick the corn and get it in the crib or sold, which ever comes first. We still need a few more good frost on the corn to get the moisture down so it will store well. I didn't get my sweet taters canned that I wanted to so that will get done after the holiday too I suppose. Maybe we get some snow the first part of December so I can just hibernate till spring. I just know that wont happen.

Not much else happening here, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Slowing down

Its the time of year to slow down and think about the holidays that are so near. Not near enough for me as my lil boy Rob and Amoy will be home for Thanksgiving. I am really looking forward to seeing them. We have Thanksgiving at Rodger's sister Tammy's house on thanksgiving day and then I will have a dinner here at the house on Saturday for family and friend here that want to come see Rob and Amoy while they are here. So in the next couple weeks I have to get busy planning dinner and meals to feed the kids while they are home. Rodger is off the whole week for deer season. He and Jason will deer hunt the weekend Rob gets to Kentucky till they have several deer for the freezer then they will be home.

Tomorrow Rodger and Jason will skin an process the deer Rodger got a couple weeks ago and get him out of my summer kitchen.That is if Jason can use his right hand well enough. He has a splint on it because he had an accident at work and broke his hand. Just a boxers fracture and it will heal fast. Its no biggie for him. It rained last weekend and they didn't get that task taken care of. We just got rain from the tail end of the hurricane Sandy that hit the east coast devastating several states. Please keep those folks in your prayers. After the fellers get the deer processed I will need to spend a week in the summer kitchen canning up some of our smaller sweet potatoes. After canning they can just be drained and glazed an served. If you hadn't noticed I can a lot of what I call "convenience foods" for us. There are time in winter if we get a big snow storm we can lose power for several days and the things I can are things that can be opened and just heated up and served with minimal resources. I also need to get some pears canned before they are all gone and get eaten by the deer an rabbits. By the time I get this done I hope the fellers have more deer to hang in the kitchen to cool out. Most likely that will be the end of our season of canning and preserving. Till next year at least.

I finally made my granola today. The recipe I used is great but the idea of toasting the granola in the crock pot was a no go. So I made the granola the old fashioned way. So here is the recipe for granola.

Granola my way

5 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup ground flax seed
3/4 cup coconut oil (I use half butter, half oil)
3/4 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups coconut
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup raw almonds

1 to 2 cups mix ins (seeds or nuts of choice, raisins, dried fruit, chocolate chips)

Melt oil and/or butter, stir in honey, vanilla and cinnamon.
In a large bowl mix remaining ingredients except mix ins. Pour oil mixture over all and stir to blend evenly.

 Pour granola into a baking pan and put in 350 degree oven till toasted. Stir every 5 or 10 minutes for even browning. When toasted cool add the mix ins of choice and store in air tight container.

This only took about 20 or 30 minutes in my oven as I used a dark pan and it browned faster so watch the granola closely as to not burn it. Below are the mix ins that I used. On the left is dried ground cherries, dried strawberries and dried apples, and in the bag Chia seeds.

 IF my plans go as I plan I will make another batch of cookie dough to freeze for later when the kids are home. We always need snacks when the kids are here. Somehow they think they need to eat while they are home. But thas OK, thas what moms do for their kids when they are gone from home too long.  I am really looking forward to their visit. I guess I will just stay busy till then.

Remember the orphan kittens I raised after their momma got killed? The black one has disappeared but I still have Possum. When they were little they spent a lot of time with the chickens. So now in the evening when I go out to close up the chickens Possum is usually in the building with them. I have a confused cat that thinks hes a chicken.

During the day when it rains Possum stays all day in the building and sleeps with the chickens. Poor fellow don't know hes a cat.

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


Thursday, October 25, 2012

The good, bad, and lovely

It has been one of those weeks. Ya know, the kind when ya feel the urge to do a certain task all to find your tools don't work, or ya don't have what ya need to do the task. That is exactly what happened to me on Tuesday. I had the intention of cleaning the carpet in our house. I got out the vacuum cleaner and got the carpet shampooer out an filled it with cleaning solution. Vacuumed the den and flipped the sectional over to clean under it. Started to shampoo the carpet an couldn't figure out why so much water in the carpet. Well the dang shampoo machine was leaking the solution out an soaking the carpet. SO that was not gonna work at all. Set it out on the porch and thankfully I have a Rainbow sweeper that can be used to pick up water and got the water out of the carpet. Put the furniture back and decided it was gonna have to be enough to just move all the furniture and clean really good. Not a good day. I know I over did it again.

Wednesday was spent polishing the wood furniture. I have lots of antique furniture pieces that I try to put a good coat of oil on several times per year to protect it from wear and stains an such. Dang where does all the dust come from. I think some of my dust bunnies had great grand kids in here. All evicted now tho. I even cleaned windows in all this. Ya know its hard work to keep a house clean and livable.

Today I made some chocolate chip cookies so Rodger has something to snack on so he is not always asking "what ya got to eat?". He seems to thing we don't have food if he don't have something sweet to snack on every evening. When I make cookies I usually make a big batch and freeze about half of them on a cookie sheet for later. I chill the dough and then roll it in lil balls and freeze then on a sheet pan and once they are solid I remove them from the sheet pan and store in the freezer in a zip top bag. So when we think we need warm homemade cookies its just a matter of heating the oven and baking them. I am gonna make a few more batches for use through the holidays when my other kids are home. Might just save my sanity. I also want to make an freeze some waffles. I will do that the same day I make granola. I just use a good waffle batter, bake the waffles, cool them, then store in the freezer in a zip top bag. To serve just crisp them up in the toaster and eat. I keep forgetting to get Jason's big crock pot to make the granola. Its easier to make in a crock pot as there is less chance of burning the mixture. Or I may just do it the old fashioned way in the oven on a cookie sheet. I will post the recipe for the granola when I make it. One of my sweet readers suggested I consume flax seed and sesame seed daily to  combat the inflammation in my body so I intend to add those to the finished granola. I also have some raw pumpkin seeds to add as well as some almonds.So hopefully it will be a good breakfast food when the kids are home for the holidays.

Jason's girlfriend came by after she got off work today. She left her other job after having a better offer. She is now assistant manager of the Dairy Queen in her town. She got an increase in pay, better work hours and just an all around better job.

We are all very proud of Mary Kay. I had no clue the amount of training required to work in food service. Plus all the things involved in being assistant manager. So congratulations to Mary Kay.

Rodger is working on the big tractor trying to get some grease fitting replaced and airing up a front tire. He has plans to get the old garden spot turned and put to bed for winter. It will help a lot to have all the dead plants turned under so they can rot down an make organic matter in the soil. Just as one garden is finished we are already preparing for the next one. This weekend we will be boxing our sweet potatoes up for storage so we can have them all winter. Rodger still has his deer hanging in the summer kitchen with the air conditioning on to keep it cool. The deer will be skinned out an processed this weekend and put in the freezer.

Our weather this weekend is supposed to turn cold an stay that way for several days. We have the big cold front of the year moving in from the north west and  the remnants of a tropical storm moving in from the south. They are even giving snow flurries this weekend. Oh my!!!! I do not want snow at all. I can tolerate cold just don't like snow at all. I know it is good for the ground and soil but not for me. If its cold I guess I will just stay inside.

Not much else happening, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Deer season coming up

When deer hunting season comes around the fellers don't get much done on the farm. But thas OK too I guess as the deer put meat in the freezer. I didn't get much done on Friday myself except made a batch of cookies. I used the recipe shared by Mariann Tausch and her girls at the meet up a couple weeks ago. And this recipe is pretty easy and inexpensive to make as well. I divided the recipe in half and still baked about 4 dozen cookies and froze probably that many already shaped in lil balls an ready to bake. So I will share the recipe here.

Butterscotch Cookies for a crowd

3 cups butter or margarine melted an cooled
6 large eggs
6 cups brown sugar packed
6 tsps vanilla
6 tsps baking powder
3 tsps baking soda
10 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Blend all except the flour really well with electric mixer. Slowly add in flour half cup at a time beating after each addition. Roll dough in walnut size balls and place on parchment lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake 10 to 12 minutes till light brown at 350 degrees. Enjoy! These are really good cookies without any thing else in them. I happen to have some macadamia nuts and added a few of those chopped to the last bit of the batter before baking and those were great as well. Like I said I had extra batter that I froze. I just rolled the dough in lil balls an placed them on a cold cookie sheet and froze them on the sheet. After they were frozen hard I took them off the cookie sheet an stored them in a zip top bag in the freezer for later. This way we can have fresh baked homemade cookies anytime. I also do this with chocolate chip cookie batter as well. This works as long as I can keep the cookie dough hid from people who like to eat cookie dough.
This container was full of the cookies I baked and then that many again I froze for later use, so this really makes a huge batch of cookies. Would be great for family gatherings when ya needs lots of cookies.
I sent some cookies with Rodger Friday evening when he left to go deer hunting. After he left my friend Lori had ask me if I wanted to go to the local Woolly Worm festival with her that evening and I did go. We walked up the street in town, got up with Jason and Mary Kay, and looked at some of the various booths, nothing really caught my attention but I did notice my achy legs and back. We got a battered deep fried blooming onion and she brought me home. It was just getting dark when I got back home, so I wasn't out too long. I locked up the chickens and got the dog an cats fed an settled in for the night.  After I sat on the computer a  bit I got up to get something to drink an oh gosh, my ankles, knees an hips were so sore and I hurt all over. I guess I just cant walk on blacktop very far. So the next couple days have been recovering. Dang it an I had big plans while Rodger was out of the house. I really wanted to clean carpet but seems that was a no-go. My body so "nope, ain't happening". So I just had a relaxing Saturday. Jason and Mary Kay came by after they had went to town to meet up with extended family for a bit. It was a lil late for Jason to deer hunt but we saw several in the field in front of our house but too dark to shoot. Anyway Josh had called to tell us Rodger had got a nice big buck. He does not hunt horns but this animal was one of 3 in a group that they saw and Rodger said this one was a sure shot. There was a bigger buck in the herd but he wouldn't get a clear shot an decided to take this one. He was using his muzzle loader barrel that Danny Roebuck had given him a couple years ago. So thanks Danny. Not a bad deer.

Actually a really nice rack. And lots of meat for the freezer.We are for sure gonna mount this one. Maybe just a European mount tho. Rodger said he didn't want the whole head on the wall looking at him. They had a good weekend and he alas has fun but he got home a lil after midnight on Sunday night and was worn out. He was tired enough that he took off work today to rest up. Next deer hunting is modern gun season in November right before Thanksgiving.
Rodger also brought home another small freezer that Josh had given us. It is perfect in the kitchen to keep a stock of variety packages in the house so I don't have to run out to the building to get a pack of burger or bag of corn everyday. So thanks Josh, much appreciated.
I think at some time over the weekend we had frost here. The plants in the herb bed look like they have been frost nipped and the purple hull peas in the field across from the house are wimpy looking.But I guess it is that time of year. We are pose to have temps in the 70's all this week an our next cold day will be next Sunday with high in the 50's. With these temperature swings if a person isn't sick they will be. Its tough on allergy stuff.
Not much else happening here on the homestead this weekend. I cant get in my summer kitchen cause there is a big ole deer hanging in there for now. We actually made it to serve the purpose as we can turn on the AC and keep the deer cool enough for it to age well before we skin it an process the meat. After the deer is processed I get my kitchen back. Thas OK, its all good. At least for one week I know I don't have to can anything.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Making gumbo to can

It has been a long hard day. I made a big batch of gumbo to can and with Rodger at work I had to do all the choppin, browning, and making the roux by myself. Talk about a long day. My friend Deb from Mississippi taught me how to make it a few years ago. The recipe is here from another post on this blog.  We had fun but the fun ends when ya have to do all the work alone. I think I have cuts on every finger I own, a few burns from the Cajun napalm called roux. Not to mention the hurty feet from standing all day, and oh my aching back. I get a feeling tomorrow will be spent in bed recovering from today. Story of my life. If I can get out of bed in the morning I want to make some plum jelly. My buddy Randy gave me a quart of plum juice when we went to the meet up in central Ky last weekend and I have not had time or energy to make the jelly yet. But the hard part is done already an thas makin the juice. So surely I can get the jelly made.

Rodger will be out of town deer hunting this weekend and Jason an Mary Kay will be hunting here on the farm. I have big plans of my own. I hope to get the carpets cleaned in the house while there is no one to interrupt me and wonder where meals are. I might even get to stay up late an read as long as I want an not worry about waking anyone up. The linoleum in the kitchen needs to be scrubbed really well too. All summer of just mopping leaves it in pretty sad shape. I will have to wait an see if we get rain this weekend tho as the carpet might not dry well if its wet outside. We shall see.

I got some composted chicken manure I want to move and spread on my strawberry bed an asparagus bed out back this weekend too if time permits. Or if my body holds out long enough. I should soon be picking the last of the raspberries to get in the freezer this year. I would like to freeze more on cookie sheets an bag them up to use in cereal this winter. Oh an to add to homemade granola. Which I will likely make in a crock pot this time to save the constant stirring and risk of burning it. I really like granola with lots of nuts an dried fruit and it is very filling not to mention good for ya.

So thas my plan, now lets see how far I get. I will let ya know. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

No frost yet!

In our neck of the woods we still have not had a killing frost. On the mountains they have had a few light frost. We still have raspberries blooming an producing, peppers still hanging on. Not like I need any more but will give them to someone if they will come get em. Rodger mowed the field of purple hull peas down about a month or so ago an they are coming back up from the stubble and look pretty. We wont likely pick any more of them but the deer sure do like em. They are in there most every evening just at dark. I kinda see that as an investment in our meat supply. I am still in the process of drying herbs for cooking and medicinal herbs as well. Never know when those might come in handy. I like finding our about the wild plants that grow here on the farm and learning which ones are edible. Last evening when Rodger and I went to look about the pears on the big pear tree I saw a vine growing nearby that I identified as "groundnut". They are not peanuts as peanuts are sometimes called. They are indigenous to the area and when the country was first settled the colonist used the groundnuts as a protein source. They are very common near old Indian digs. The Indians dug the nuts an replanted the small ones to ensure another crop and food source. You can read more about the groundnut here and here. So if a person were lost or stranded in the mountains of east Kentucky and starved it might be their own fault. Because there is food to be had growing wild.

We finally got our new grapevines planted this week as well. We now have a total of 36 grapevines in the new vineyard. So hopefully someday in the near future we will have lots of grapes an I can make a good bit of homemade wine to enjoy. The raspberries are still producing and soon they need to be weeded an some small runners transplanted off them to make a new row of berry plants. The variety my friend gave me produce all summer but if we mow them down this fall they will come up in spring an only produce a good fall crop next year. Not sure if I want one big crop or pick smaller amounts over the whole summer. I think it easier to pick an put up small amounts than to be overwhelmed with tons of berries at one time that need picked. And if I have something more pressing I might not get the berries before they are a lose. I need to get in gear an pick the pears to let them ripen so I can get some canned up. I do like my canned pears as a snack. But my idea of a snack is to eat a whole quart of canned peaches or pears.

Our meet up last weekend in central Kentucky was a hit. We all had a great time, good food, new friends made and a relaxing event. I did a demo of chicken butchering and processing and the ladies that were interested I think came away with enough skill to be able to butcher their own birds if they choose. On Saturday evening I did a soap making demo and a bachelor learned to make his own citronella soap for summer time use to keep the bugs off him. He swears by the soap. A friend of his had given him a bar and he said he never had a tick, chigger or mosquito bite all summer as long as he had the soap to shower with. So now he can make his very own soap from the skills he learned in the demo. I do enjoy showing someone a new self sufficiency skill because I know that is one less thing they must depend on someone else to do for them.  At the meet up our friend Rosie showed us how to make tinctures and infusions with medicinal herbs. We walked around here place and she showed us several plants that grow in most every ones yard that can be eaten or used for medicine. One plant that I always thought was some type of clover is actually Oxalis or pickle plant. You can see pics an read about it here. Heck I pull these lil things out of my herb bed as weeds till Rosie showed us the lil "pickles" on the plants. If you can safely identify them have a taste of the lil pickles. Tart lil things they are. Back at home the other day I found a sassafras tree that Rodger had pushed over an there is a root exposed. I want to chop the root up for tea. I have always liked sassafras tea since I remember dad digging the roots when I was a child an mom boiled them in spring to make a spring tonic.Anyone on blood thinners must use caution when drinking sassafras tea as it is a blood thinner as well. Mostly used to purify the blood. Another thing that was common when I was growing up was picking wild greens in early spring. Some of the women that lived out on the hill an mom would go up the road an in the edge of the field an pick greens. I remember them picking round leaf or mouse ear plantain, young poke leaves, dandelion greens and others I can not remember at this minute. I have since learned that dandelion is a great plant to consume to cleanse the liver and kidneys. You can also dig the dandelion root to make tea in winter for the same purpose. My friend Rosie is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to edible plants an herbal uses of those plants. I just wish I knew half of what she knew.

So I had my lil mini vacation and back at home it was back to work. I am still working on canning some things out of the freezer to make room for deer meat when the guys go hunting. I guess thas kinda like counting your chicks before they hatch. I got the raspberries out and made raspberry jam last evening. Ended up with 14 an 1/2 pints. Now if I can just remember to thaw the stuff I have frozen for gumbo an get that made an canned up I should have a good bit of room in the big freezer. We are suppose to get rain this week so that will be a good project for a rainy day. I did find some clear gel when I was in central Kentucky last weekend so I may take some of the strawberries out of the freezer an make an can some strawberry pie filling.I sure don't need any more strawberry jam at this time. We have too many jars as it is. I have sliced an dried 2 half gallon jars of onion flakes in the past week as well. I use a lot of those things in cooking. I still have about 15 lb left that I might dry as well if they start to deteriorate. Our onion crop was a bust this year. Not sure it is worth all the work and expense to get sets an plant, weed and care for onions to still have to buy onions to supply our needs. Seems to me we might need to skip the work an just purchase a 50 lb bag in the fall to use an be done with it. But work is work, my body don't tolerate doing much of it these days. Even tho I have taken a B-12 shot for the past couple months I still battle fatigue, and some nights insomnia, not to mention pain all the time, the more I do the worse the pain gets. But I keep plugging along and doing all the things I love just less of those things now days. I am actually looking forward to winter and the long days of rest and not having to worry about being out in the garden and all those things. I still have my chickens to care for but thas a minor detail. I am not sure what the hell I was thinking but I have too many chickens right now. I have 15 laying hens and a rooster. Plus 8 very young chicks and another hen setting on a nest of eggs. I think when the smaller chicks are ready to butcher off I will cull out a few of the older layers to cut the feed bill a bit. I probably could cut the feed bill now if I shelled some corn to feed the hens. With the cooler weather they like corn more than laying pellets. I saw the young chicks out today and they were gorging themselves on the grass seed in the yard. I am sure they will make wonderful stock when they are grown. I just hate the thought of butchering chickens in cold weather but seems thas what I will be doing this year.
Not much else happening here on the homestead. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Its getting closer.....

...really right around the corner. Fall is here and the spooky thing that is right around the corner is winter. Our weather here in Ky is going to turn colder this weekend. Something tells me we have but very few more nice warm days left this fall. Knowing this we have been trying to get little things done an loose ends tied up so to speak. I have most all the peppers picked off an taken care of now, I hope. This is what I faced last weekend. We picked 3 bushels total of ripe an green bell peppers.

So with Rodgers help I cut the peppers and took out the seeds and he ran them thru the food processor with the slicing blade in place and put the sliced peppers in the dehydrator. That batch was done by Monday evening and we did more on Monday and  reloaded the dehydrators. Those finished on Tuesday and I quit! I am done with peppers.We took care of 1 1/2 bushels of bells. The jalapenos were deseeded and put in the freezer for poppers later on. I had nearly 1 1/2 bushels of peppers left an Rodgers sister and a friend of ours took those. IF we don't get frost soon there will still be more peppers as the plants have many really small ones on and still blooming. I have totally stopped messing with cayenne peppers because I have 2 gallon dried an that is enough to do me  5 years or more.
On Sunday as I was cleaning the peppers Rodger cleaned out the hen house. It was not bad in need of cleaning it was just time to clean it out before cold weather comes. Besides we want to use the manure to mix in with the soil to get the grapevines off to a good start. Those need to be in the ground asap so they can get established before frost knocks em back.
With the frost warnings an cold weather headed our way its a race to get the sweet potatoes dug before the cold gets here. They will still have to cure so at night they will need to be covered with a tarp or something to prevent them from freezing. Hay or straw will also work if it is removed during the warm part of the day so the taters dry well and the skins toughen up. Then they can be stored away for winter in a dry cool place about 50 degrees. Sweet taters do not keep in a root cellar due to high humidity.
We used most of the straw we had for bedding in the chicken house after Rodger got it cleaned out. He put all the manure in the tractor bucket to take it to the garden and pile it so it can compost and some be used in planting grapevines and probably making another raspberry patch.

I like having my chicken house in the backyard for several reasons. One is the chickens can be close and have some protection from predators. Luna keeps a close eye on them here. It is easier for me to see to their feed and water in bad weather as well. Not to mention caring for the little ones. The momma hens do a good job of teaching the lil ones how to scratch for food. AND I get to enjoy the lil fellers as they grow up.

The little one above is ducking back under his momma where it is nice an toasty on this cool evening.

The one chick in the back is under his momma sleeping and he is a good size fellow too. The dorkin in the front has 2 babies, one of which is the white one standing, an she has also adopted one that was weaned already. She just took up with this hen an her lil ones.
They didn't know what to think of a house with a naked floor. They got busy moving the straw around after I got it put on the floor all neat like. I keep a pitchfork handy to fluff the straw daily so they have a fresh layer. Next spring when we take this manure an straw out of the chicken house it will be very fine and perfect to go in the garden as the chickens have pecked all the seeds from it.
I spent most of today making a big batch of chili to can up. That got some of the peppers out of the freezer. I ended up with 13 quarts of chili ready to heat an eat. How convenient , huh?
I will be going to a get together this weekend in central KY for homesteaders and folks that want to become more self sufficient. I am taking a couple quarts of chili with me to have out there for lunch among other goodies to eat.  I will be doing a chicken butchering demo and a soap making demo on Saturday. I think we are also butchering a goat for the family who is hosting the event. Several folks are interested in learning how to do butchering. So hopefully some new folks can go home satisfied that they learned a new skill.  Rosie will also be showing us how to make salves and tinctures using native herbs. Also she is going to show us how to make paint. Now how cool is that? It is always nice to meet other folks who raise all their food an homestead like we do here. I will also be going to an Amish surplus store nearby there. It is really a neat place to shop. It is kinda like a scratch an dent grocery store. They also stock bulk items like wheat, buttermilk powder, powdered cheese an gallon buckets of coconut oil that is very inexpensive as compared to what we pay near here. I will likely post some photos of the event when I get home. But this is my one weekend this year to go have fun and visit with some friends I have made online thru BHM magazine forum. 
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, September 28, 2012

The slower days of fall

I am loving the slower pace of early fall on the farm. Most of the garden has been harvested. With exception of the sweet potatoes. That may happen this weekend if it dries enough. We have had rain this past week off an on. We need water in the ground but it sure adds to more pain for me with the arthritis an fibro. But live with it I can just to be able to enjoy the wonderful weather. I hope tomorrow is nice and not too wet or cool so I can pick raspberries and whats left of the peppers in the garden. Its not like I need any more in the freezer so I will have to dry what ever I pick. I have enough raspberries in the freezer to make another big batch of raspberry jam to can and that will free up some freezer space. I do still have the makings for gumbo in the freezer too that needs to be used an canned up. Its almost deer hunting time and we will need the space. So there really are things I need to get done soon. As I will be away the first weekend in October for our annual BHM get together in central Kentucky. I look forward to meeting like minded folks and some nice folks I have chatted with online on the Backwoods Home chat room. It is always a fun time.

It is starting to get cooler at night and I was hoping my hens would be done with all this broodiness stuff by now. But just as luck would have it, my white lil hen that has hatched several clutches this year just hatched off 2 more lil fellows. I love watching lil chicks explore their lil world and learn to eat and drink. I now have a hen that has 2 of her own an 1 that is older that joined her lil family cause his momma weaned him. One hen has 5 babies with her and now the one with 2 babies. The roosters always join at the big freezer in the outbuilding when they are bigger. Of all my past several years of having laying flocks this has been the best bunch to hatch and raise chicks. So we shall keep them to keep the flock going.

Last weekend I picked the red Roselle buds to dry for tea. I started with about a gallon of buds and got those in the dehydrator to dry. Ended up with a pint jar full of dried buds in all. My daughter in law to be is from Jamaica and she tole me they use it to make a Christmas drink and ask her mom how it was done. Her mom said you boil the Roselle and a piece of ginger in water till the tea is as strong as you like and let sit over night and serve hot or cold. It does sound interesting. The ginger is good for the stomach and the red Roselle aids in speeding digestion. So it has to be good for ya.

Around here we try to raise a large variety of things containing various nutrients so as to have a better diet. What we raise is mostly organic and all are heirloom varieties so we can save our own seed. I stumbled upon this site earlier today while surfing and thought I would share the link. Interesting the nutrients available in things we consume every day. Best if homegrown or at least organic in my opinion.

Not much else happening here, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Its been a day!

Yesterday we butchered 7 chickens, actually 6 young roosters an 1 older hen that was not a good momma. She is the one that tossed her babies out of the nest an tried to kill em and I ended up with 4 orphans in the house.So she did not get a second chance. My friend Lori came down to hang out and help us. This was her first chicken killing experience. She was a lot of help, she and Rodger plucked the chickens an I cut them up. I deboned the breast to use in gumbo later and froze that. I deboned the thighs and canned the thighs and legs in stock today. I made stock with the bony pieces and fat from the birds. So the stock got done last evening and I strained it and let is sit over night. Today after I got able to walk around, (thas a whole nuther story) I went out and put the stock an chicken in jars an got it canned. I ended up with 6 quarts of meat and stock an 7 quarts of stock. Not bad for a days work.

On the walk around business, I obviously walked around too much yesterday. OMG I had leg cramps from hell last night. Not sure what the deal is unless its the new meds stripping my potassium or what. The new meds I am taking (Lyrica) does help some with the pain. For that I am thankful. But dang the leg cramps. That is one of the side effects of the medication so I can learn to function within limits to prevent the cramps. Last night I woke several times with bad cramps and decided I need some potassium to calm em down. So off to the kitchen to get some sauerkraut, and had a few bites of that and back to bed. I did this twice before I realized I was a goober an sauerkraut did not have potassium in it but is loaded with vitamin C. See my mind don't work well when I wake up, it takes a bit. I have moved a lil slow today but am OK I think.

When I was in the summer kitchen today I took the dried red Roselle out of the dehydrator an put it in a pint jar. Dang it I started with a gallon bucket of that stuff cleaned. Anyway I got a message from my future daughter in law that the red Roselle is used in Jamaica to make a Christmas drink. So I guess we can wait till she comes home with Rob for Thanksgiving an let her make us a traditional Jamaican drink. Something tells me it will contain rum. Looking forward to that.

Not much happening here this time of year. Rodger is battling the muskrats and beavers for our field of corn. He put up an electric fence yesterday evening and put the wire low to the ground in hopes of deterring them from totin off the corn. I may try to move some manure out of the chicken house tomorrow and get it ready to take to the field so we can transplant our grape vines that I have started. I think I have 25 or so of em. They really need to be in the ground so they can get established before frost kills them back for the season. I would sure hate to go to the trouble of setting them out to have em all freeze to death. And I probably need to pick raspberries again. They will produce up to frost. Not to mention I am still picking strawberries. But I love it.

So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Happy fall to all!

Happy fall to all of you, my wonderful readers. You can just feel the cool days of fall in the air even tho it was nice an sunny today. The little breeze blowing made it kinda chilly at times. But I did get out an piddle around a get a few things done. My buddy Gene had given me a chair/step stool/ironing board and I took it out on the porch an cleaned it up and got the dust off it. It looks hand made and is an ingenious idea to save space.

Ironing board
The chair
The step stool I ain't allowed to have
It has had some repair work done, but the design is still really neat I think. But he knew I collect old ironing boards so he picked it up for me.Think I will bring it in a use it and give my old new model ironing board to someone else. Gene had given me another old ironing board a few years ago an I use it to display a quilt. This one I think will be near the kitchen so if I need to reach something up high, well it ain't too tall to fall off of.
Later this evening I went out an picked cotton, yeah I grew some cotton to see what it looked like growing. Not sure what I will do with some lil natural organic cotton balls but I got some. See!

Cotton that is ripe an ready to pick.

Cotton plant with ripe cotton and still blooming.
 The cotton is a really pretty plant to grow. It can have different colors of flowers on one plant. Would make a nice border planting as well. Now to find a funky use for cotton balls.

Red Roselle
 This is my first year growing the red Roselle. My friend Deb sent the seeds to me and I started them in the greenhouse an transplanted them to the herb bed. Talk about big beautiful plants. These would make a hedge plant. The stems are somewhat woody. The part used to make tea and a lemonade type drink are the calyx. I picked a bunch of the buds off this evening an proceeded to remove the calyx from the seed pod. I just took a sharp knife an made a ring around the end that was attached to the plant an squeeze the calyx a lil bit an the seed pod will pop out and ya keep the dark red calyx to dry or freeze. Here is some good info on the Roselle if someone is inclined to grow it. I have been told I will try anything once.

Removing the seed pods

The Thai Red Roselle calyx ready to use , dry or freeze.
I really need a hobby, don't I? I might try making the cranberry sauce with the Roselle and see how it turns out. I rinsed the Roselle an have then draining and tomorrow I might freeze some in a single layer on cookie sheets to make drinks with. IF my tomorrow don't get too busy. We plan to butcher off the young roosters we have. I am sure my older laying hens will appreciate that as they are a nuisance to them. My friend Lori wants to come help an learn how to butcher chickens. She is a self proclaimed city girl the lives in the country and is willing to learn. So we shall see tomorrow.

Not much else happening here, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Another batch of soap

I love learning new things an playing with this soap making process. I had the idea to make some soap for the guys to use after work to remove junk an smells. I have read that coffee added to soap will do the trick. So today I made a batch of coffee/chocolate soap.

 You can see the grounds of coffee in the soap and gosh does it ever smell good. The whole house smells like chocolate and coffee.

 Here is the recipe:

Coffee and chocolate soap

28 oz of lard
2 oz coconut oil
2 oz olive oil
2 oz Shea butter
4.56 oz of lye
11.22 oz cold strong coffee

Additives: 1 tablespoon fine ground coffee, 1 tablespoon Hershey's baking chocolate 

Weigh out the lye an coffee and add the lye slowly to the coffee and stir gently till all lye is in an dissolved.Set aside to cool.
Weigh out the lard, olive oil, coconut oil an Shea butter in a plastic bucket or bowl that you intend to make the soap in. Measure out the fine ground coffee and chocolate and set this aside.

Melt oils in kettle on stove top or in microwave in short burst till all the fats are melted and blended.
With a thermometer check temp of lye solution and fat solution, both should be around 120 degrees an within 5 degrees of each other. When the temps are correct put stick blender in the oil and start to blend as you slowly add the lye solution. When all the solution is in the fats blend about another minute to help saponify the fats. Let rest for about 3 minutes an blend again about 30 seconds, repeat this procedure till the soap is at a medium trace. With the blender on add coffee an chocolate powders and blend well. Soap should be at a good trace by this point. Pour soap into prepared molds and cover the surface with plastic wrap. This will help prevent soda ash from building on the surface of the soap as it hardens. Cover with a cloth to maintain heat so it cools slowly. Once soap is set after 24 hours, remove from mold an cut into bars.

Let the soap cure for at least a week before using it. The soap gets harder as it ages as well which makes it last much longer in the shower.

The herbal healing soap I made over the weekend looks nice and I love it. It leaves the skin moist an not sticky. Lathers really well and leaves very little fragrance behind.

Now what else can I make? Maybe I will make some lotion next, or body butter, or..............well the ideas are endless.

The weather has been just beautiful the past few days, sunny an cool. Great to be outside unless the fall blooming plants get you down. Well that leaves me in here looking out I guess. I sure don't need bronchitis. Rodger went to mow around the big corn field this evening after supper an a bit ago when he came in his hands were ice cold. Not long till we have frost an we need to dig our sweet potatoes before frost. They should be nice size by now with the rain we have had. We shall see.

Not much else happening here, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

A day of rest

It is Saturday an our day of rest here. I haven't done much today, got up late, had my coffee an by then it was noonish. We had veggie soup for lunch and Rodger took another nap. I decided I was gonna make a batch of soap. I had my recipe and all the stuff so it was easy to put together.

The recipe for herbal soap:

8 oz coconut oil
8 oz olive oil
16 oz lard
2 oz Shea butter

4.8 oz of lye
11.2 oz liquid

herbs used

2T chamomile
2T round leaf plantain
2T comfrey leaf
2T golden seal

Grind herbs pretty fine and use half the dried herb mix to make  tea for the soap liquid. Steep the dried herbs in about 21/2 to 3 cups boiling water for about 30 minutes. Strain out the herbs an then weigh 11.2 oz of tea for your soap liquid part. After teas is cold, stir in 4.8 oz of lye slowly as this will get very hot. Let sit to cool down to about 120degrees or so. Weigh an melt all the fats together and allow them to cool to same temp as lye/tea solution. When both have cooled put your stick blender in the oils and hold it at an slight angle and slowly pour in the lye solution and blend the soap till all the oil is incorporated and no oil floats on top, just a couple minutes.Turn off blender and let sit for 5 minutes, stir again, repeat this process till the soap traces which may take about 30 minutes or so. Once the soap traces blend in the remaining dried herbs and pour the soap into you selected an prepared mold. I cover the top of my soap with saran wrap and lay a towel over the top to insulate it. This helps it retain heat to set an cure better. Kinda looks like butter. Smells great tho!

Tomorrow I will remove the layer of plastic and remove the soap from the mold an cut it into bars and let it air dry and cure, then its ready to use. All the herbs that I used in making the tea for this batch of soap have healing an soothing properties for the skin. And the addition of Shea butter will make it a moisturizing soap as well. I am excited to try it. I have a ton of other ideas for adding things to homemade soaps. I would like to make a batch and add dry ground coffee after it traces for hand soap to remove grim an smells from the hands. Once you know the basics of soap making the possibilities are endless.

I also made a loaf of honey oatmeal bread this afternoon too. It was so dang good hot from the oven with butter all over an sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Yummy!!

Not much else happening around here, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pickin a peck o peppers

We actually more like a couple bushels of peppers. Last evening we picked the 2 buckets of peppers and the 1 bucket of jalapenos and the bucket of cayenne peppers. I finally got all those taken care of today. It took me all day but the job got done. I have to learn to pace my task through out the day an not try to do everything at once. So thas how I did today. I got out this morning an cut up one bucket of peppers for the freezer, came in a sat an rested for a bit, cleaned all the jalapenos an washed an laid those on a towel to drain. Later I went back out to bag those up for the freezer. Came in a fixed supper and ate. Later this evening I went out an cut up the other bucket of peppers an ran them thru the slicer on the food processor an put them in the dehydrator to make dried pepper flakes. I make my version of :Ms Dash using the veggies an herbs that we dry. Very easy to do.

Homemade Ms Dash recipe:

1/2 cup dried onion flakes
1/4 cup dried bell peppers
1/4 cup dried carrots
1/4 cup dried celery
3 tablespoons of granulated garlic or to taste
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon black pepper or to taste
2 tsp basil
2 tsp savory
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp tarragon
6 tsp parsley
2 teas cumin
1 teas cayenne pepper

grind all ingredients in a spice grinder till very fine. Bottle in a shaker of your choice an label. Much cheaper to make than to buy this stuff. Not hard to do if you grow an dry all your ingredients like we do.  This is a good seasoning on steaks or pork for the grill. Add some brown sugar to the mix an make a great dry rub for meat to smoke or grill. You are only limited by your imagination. This is just the method we use.

I got started on a new med for the fibro today. My doc wants me to take Lyrica. So I took the first dose this evening. Guess we shall see if it works or not. It is quite expensive but IF it works well worth it. Only time will tell.

Not much else happening here , so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I love fall, my sinuses hate me

This is my favorite time of year, to me it is so relaxing this time of year. I guess maybe its because the gardens are coming to an end and the weather is cooling down a bit. This week our weather has been just perfect. Sunny but not too hot, cool at night so the AC don't run. Actually cool enough at night that if you were out ya might need long sleeves. Sadly along with fall come all the weeds that blooms that give most of us wimps a sinus head ache an snot nose. I have had the head ache  thingy goin on all dang day. But not real bad, just nagging. Maybe if I stay inside for a couple days it will subside an I can venture back out.
I did finally make it to see my family doc on Monday to ask about some meds I was taking. He wanted to put me on another med for the fibro to see if it helps, now we have to have it pre-authorized so the insurance will pay for it. I had ask him if he thought maybe a B-12 injection would help some with the fatigue. He said it might and it would not hurt a thing to try an see if it worked. I hate shots, but I feel like it helped enough that I will suck it up an keep taking the injections of B-12. I have slept better an not been so exhausted during the day since then. I did feel like getting out yesterday and weeding the big herb bed. Now that is all done an I feel better about it. While I was out I pulled the few weeds in the strawberry bed near the driveway and picked about a quart of strawberries. So there is 2 items off the to-do list. I took a bowl an picked up a bunch of ground cherries an husk those, rinsed them an froze them on a cookie sheet. I probably will use them in granola when I eat it.
 In the spring my friend Deb had sent me seeds for Red Roselle. I planted them an they are beautiful bushes. Now what to do with those. I had to do some research today and found out they are good for several things. The calyx of the spent flower is removed from around the seed pod an  is used for tea, can be used to make sauces an jelly, with the jelly tasting very much like cranberry. The calyx also have medicinal properties too. They can be made into a tea for a blood thinner, to increase intestinal peristalsis,lowers blood pressure, diuretic, can be made into cough syrup. Tons of uses. So now I think I shall pick the buds off the plants an dry those for tea. Yep I need a hobby.
After supper Rodger an I went to the garden to see if we still had beans to pick and decided they are not enough tender green ones to make it worthwhile so we are letting them dry on the vine to make dried beans which I will can as chili beans later. We picked 2 more 5 gallon buckets of sweet bell peppers, half a 5 gallon bucket of jalapeno peppers, and another 2 gallon bucket of cayenne peppers. The cayenne's are in the dehydrator as we speak and will dry hopefully over night so I can chop an dry some of the bells. The jalapeno peppers will be frozen for jalapeno poppers.
We decided to dig in the sweet taters to see how they were gonna do and Oh My!! they are gonna be nice ones. Surprising considering we had so little rain this summer. Those will get dug in the next couple weeks most likely. Then it will be "oh what to do with many bushels of sweet taters". Hopefully we can sell a lot of those this year.
Not much else happening around here, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Its realllly late.......

I bet you wonder as of late why my post are written so late at night, well really early in the wee hours? Well cause some days I am busy with other stuff till late, other times the brain fog is so bad I just cant concentrate long enough to write a post. Believe me it can be frustrating to say the least. And thas not cause my life is a mess but it really is a mess about now. As most of you know I have RA and fibromyalgia. Along with the RA comes pain, sore stiff joints and such, like ya granny use to have. With the fibro comes more pain all over the place, the fatigue most days is as bad if not worse than the pain. Then it seems just when ya think ya gonna have a good day, bam! ya belly gets upset with ya. I have never been a morning person in my adult years but with fibro ya don't want to start tryin to be one either. It takes a few hours in the morning to get up and get moving, by then if you MUST go out for some reason, you take a shower. After all this you are so tired you are thinking of another nap instead of what you need to go do. You are exhausted, then you get irritated because your body has failed, then ya force you body to go do what you needed to do out of the house. The fatigue gets worse to the point you avoid doing things because it requires so dang much effort. I have always been a people person, but its not that I don't like people its just that I have a hard time interacting with them now  mostly due to the brain fog of fibro. It is a hard illness or disease to understand because I don't look "sick". People assume if ya look OK ya must be OK. With fibro you are constantly on a mission to find something to help you maintain a balance so you can function normally. But really it steals you life away because you never get back to normal. You just get to the new normal for you each day. The point of these late night , or early morning post, depends on how you see the time is because it is quiet in the house, no one up, no need to think of what to eat or cook, its dark outside so cant see what needs doing out there, and at these times I seem to have a lil more mental clarity than during the day when there are things that need my attention. I guess at night I have less thing to distract me than during the day. I am not a multi-tasker any more for sure. But such is life with fibro.

Anyway not much goin on here on the homestead this past week. Although I did get out last weekend and picked a bunch of the lil Mexican cukes and Rodger helped me make them into dill pickles. We ended up with about 10 pints. And not a damn one of em sealed. Don't know whats up with that. Really made me mad cause it was painful to pick all those tine lil cukes and wash em and then for them to not seal. DAMMIT!
But on the upside I got some lil baby chicks from some of the hens that were sitting on eggs. One hen has 2 lil babies and of all things she takes them out side and a single blade of grass is an obstacle for them. They are so cute. The hen that was sitting in the corner of the chicken house on heaven knows how many eggs has hatched off 5 lil ones and she is smart enough to keep hers inside so they don't trip and fall over a blade of grass. The hen that was sitting on one egg an egg gourd nest egg in the middle of the chicken house floor has moved to the abandoned nest in the corner and is on the eggs the hen left. So I am sure in a few days she will have a lil chick or 2 because the other hens had been laying in that nest while the first hen was setting on it. I have yet another hen sitting on about 6 eggs in the bottom corner nest box. She will hatch in a week or so. I have several hens that have brooded more babies this summer than they have laid I think. I know the 2 brown hens and the white hen are on about hatch number 4 for the year. And they are all good mommies. I do have some young roosters from their past hatches that need to be butchered off as they are starting to bother the hens and fight among themselves.

We have had a shower of rain this past week that probably made my beans grow again. I am still trying to get the ones dry for shuck beans that we picked a week ago. But with clouds and humidity it is hard to dry them outside. Maybe they can go in the dehydrator tomorrow to finish up. If we don't get rain, which the weather man says we are supposed to get, we will need to pick the green beans again. I will probably make more shuck beans with them as we have more than enough canned already and it will be less work for me. Probably need to pick more ripe peppers too and okra. After the lil bit of rain we had I am sure the raspberries are getting ripe and will need picked too. I need to make another batch of jelly to get the berries out of the freezer. I still have the makings for a huge batch of gumbo in the freezer and that also needs to be canned up. Maybe if it does rain tomorrow I can enlist Rodgers help and do that. I will sure need help with making the gumbo. Would sure be nice if my friend Deb could come up and help. We had such a great week when she was here. And dang it, I may not get to see her at all this year. She has a son getting married in Tennessee the same weekend we are having our Backwoods Home get together in central Ky. So she cant be 2 places at one time. I am really looking forward to the get together to meet old friend and new ones too from  the BHM forum we all visit. All the folks I have met from there are just wonderful. Now I got to figure out how to manage a 3 hour drive alone. I hate driving anymore cause I am so easily distracted and cant do more than a very few things at one time. Hard to think about you turns, watch other traffic and stay awake all at the same time. Sounds easy an it is until fibro bites ya.

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


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Gosh a lot can happen.....

On the farm a lot can get done in a few short weeks. Well everything but updating my blog of course. But you already knew that.
With the extremely dry summer we had been thinkin the whole dang garden might be a bust we have been blessed once again. We had far more corn than we needed and gave some to some friends that were short on corn, short as in knee high and not lookin promising. All the time I kept thinking maybe we would not have enough green beans to can for out food supply. Ended up we had far more than enough of those too. I think we have near 160 quarts of green beans canned. My bell peppers out did themselves this year. The plants were huge and so were the peppers. Two different time we picked 2 of the 5 gallon buckets of peppers and dried and froze them. I also have a gallon jug of dried cayennes that will last a few years. The jalapeno peppers did great too and I have plenty of those for poppers later. The carrots were not as good as I had hoped but we still have our years supply put up.The potato crop was not as bountiful as we had hoped but we will manage with what we have and be happy we had those with no rain. The sweet taters are still in and will get dug just before frost to prolong their storage life. The popcorn is lookin like it will be nice this year. The okra is still producing and I still need a bit more in the freezer for gumbo. I almost have all the stuff in for making gumbo to can so that will get done in a couple weeks for sure. The last bushel of beans we picked I am using to make shuck beans with. I like shuck beans but they are not a favorite of Rodgers.

With the hot dry summer and predicted low yield of crops in the western part of the country and potential for ever increasing food prices we decided to go ahead and make our trip to Sams club to stock up on things we dont grow or make here. Ends up, compared to most households we spend very little at the store. It may seem like a lot when we spend $300 at Sams but it has been 5 months since we have been there. Not to mention the stuff we bought will last probably 6 months or more. That averages out to around $50 a month. Now mind you we do buy a gallon of milk locally and very few other things, most of which are not necessities. Like coke to support my habit. I do like coke products and you get rewards points that I use for a lil splurge of ordering magazine subscriptions for free. With my points I have ordered 6 magazine subscriptions that didnt cost me anything out of pocket. Anyway back to the stuff we do buy, such as flour in 25 lb bags, sugar, coffee, rice, well you get the idea, just basics. Our total monthly average outlay for purchased food stuffs is close to $100 a month and that would include coke and milk and ocassionally chips or buns, thing we could live without if need be. Not bad to be able to eat mostly organic home grown food including meats. I think we do pretty well here.

It has been a hard month for me as far as medical condition goes. New state law is not conducive to providing pain management for those of us who take our meds as we should and dont abuse them. So it has been a long painful process of trying to can and take care of things here with no means of reducing the pain from the RA and fibro. Sure makes for some long nights when ya cant sleep for hurting. I do see the RA doc on Thursday so maybe he can do something different this time. I can only hope. The fatigue is awful most days. But I manage one day at a time and hope the next day is better.

It is gettin late and there are things to do tomorrow, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

I am still alive

Gosh it is so hard to believe that it has been almost 2 months since I last made a post. Good grief how time flys by. We are all well here, doing OK, staying busy with the usual garden stuff and things around the farm, Can not believe I have went all summer and not taken one single picture of our garden. But we did have one. First off the strawberries out did themselves and us. I have tons of berries in the freezer and made jam. The raspberries are still producing and we pick those every couple days. Already made some jam and a couple batches of jelly with them. Our sweet corn did great this year. We went for about 7 weeks in the peak of the garden growing season with no rain at all. NONE! Then just when we needed it most we got rain. Just as the corn started to tassel out and that sure made a big difference in how well it pollinated too. Our stock feed corn crop is beautiful this year. This is the first year that we have raised that much corn since my dad passed away in 2004. And daddy would be proud. He taught me well and Rodger learned from both of us. That field of corn has 2 ears to almost every stalk and it is open pollinated as well so we can save our own seed for next years crop and not pay $100 a bag for seed corn. The corn we use for corn meal is pretty too. But back to the garden, we have already got the carrots harvested, and frozen and dried. We made lots of pickles this year too. So they are done and gone. Cabbage has been sauerkraut for a long while now. It sure do smell good in the crock too. I have dried and froze a lot of bell peppers this summer. I did get lots of jalapeno peppers to make jalapeno poppers for the freezer too. Yummy! Did them a lil different this year tho.

Jalapeno popper recipe:

Jalapeno peppers as many as you would like to freeze
Equal parts cream cheese, mozzarella cheese and mild cheddar cheese shredded and mixed well. Add a dash or 3 of garlic powder. Half the jalapeno peppers and take out the seeds, and do wear gloves. Let the peppers dry off and use a spoon to fill the hollow centers with the cheese mixture and smooth it off. Place in layers on a cookie sheet and freeze. Once frozen put in to zip top bags and store in the freezer. To serve they can be dipped while still frozen into an egg wash and then crumbs of your choice and placed on cookie sheet and baked till the cheese is hot and bubbly. 350 degrees for about 20 to 30 minutes. Or you can wrap a slice of bacon around each one and bake the same way. Or just top them with crumbled crisp fried bacon. Good any way ya eat em.

I still have some jalapenos in the garden to fix up when I get some free time and am able.Also still have lots of bells to freeze and dry more. The cayenne peppers are starting to get red and they will be threaded on stings to hand in the house to dry and look pretty.  We are still picking and canning green beans here. Our tomatoes were a complete bust this year. We didn't get rain to make them grow heavy foliage and the maters just sun scald and rot in place. I think Rodger has already mowed them down. Good thing I canned a ton of those last year. Some friends gave us a bushel of tomatoes last week and I made 3 batches of salsa as that is the one thing I did not make last year. So I think we set with mater products, Those are the same friends  that we gave the remainder of our sweet corn that we did not need to. We put about 90 quarts of corn in the freezer and I still have lots of corn canned in the cellar. I really don't know why the hell I planted eggplant but I did. Now I have bunches of egg plant that I don't need. Oh well, live and learn. I am still picking okra and slicing it and freezing it for gumbo later. The plan for tomorrow is to dig our taters and get them in the out building to dry and cure before they get moved to the cellar. The weather is supposed to be nice tomorrow and not too hot so should be a good time to work in the field. After we get those dug we need to pick raspberries, beans and more okra. Not much time for down time here this time of year. But I do love it. But my body hates me for it. Sure makes the fibro and arthritis flare up pretty bad. We are letting some of our purple hull peas dry on the vine to be picked and shelled later for dried beans. I canned a lot of them earlier this summer. So sad you cant give them away. I have offered them to any one who wants to come pick them and can em or freeze em and everybody says they don't like em. But those same people eat pinto beans. Not really much difference in taste. On Thursday Jason's girlfriend Mary Kay and I canned up a bunch of pinto beans for us and them and canned up some mixed bean soup for all of us. It is all still sittin in the summer kitchen waitin for some strong body to tote em to the cellar. About the only thing left in our garden right now is the green beans, sweet taters, okra, and peppers.
I did manage to take some pics of things in the herb bed for you all to see tho. Gosh it has gotten over grown. Or maybe I should not plant so many things in one space.

 The Mexican cucumbers took over my big parsley plant and pulled it over to the ground. I scattered the seed from the parsley in the bare area and it has started to come back up. So I will harvest and dry  some later.

Aren't the lil Mexican cukes cute. They make really cute and tasty dill pickles too. They do need to be picked really soon. This is only about 3 plants.

My friend Deb from Mississippi gave me some cotton seeds and I planted some just so I could see what cotton looks like growing in real life. Beautiful plants I must say.

The herb bed is rather over grown with stuff this year and a good deal of weeds too. I cut the sage last week and gave it to a friend to use when they make sausage at hog killing time this fall. I have more than enough to last us already dried.

My Luna girl guarding her food bowl. I have combed her this summer and got all the loose hair off her and she looks skinny now. Sure hope she grows hair back before winter or she will freeze.

This is the lil orphan kitten that Rodger named possum. From the back end when it walks away from you it reminds you of a possum. They have grown into really pretty cats. Possum has a lil solid black sibling.

This is my sweet Buff Orphington rooster. He is the daddy of all the lil chicks I have hatched this summer. I have 3 hens sitting now. Of the 3 brown hens I have all of them have set clutches of eggs all summer and raised 4 different batches of babies.

This is in the summer kitchen, the pintos, mixed bean soup and veggie soup we canned last week. All so good this winter. My empty jar supply is getting kinda low right now. If things keep going I may be buyin more canning jars this year. I do want to can some deer meat this year. And its not long till muzzle loader season too.
As for my health, I am doing OK I guess with the arthritis and fibro. Still take meds and plug along. Have a lot of pain in my joints tho. A friend in Virginia sent me some herbal tincture and I have been using that for over  a week now. I think it does helps some. I think the only sure fire way to fix it is to just retire and not do any thing. But dang may as well just shoot me then. If I only knew when to quit and rest I would be in fine shape. Usually don't happen tho.
Not much else happening here, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.