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.