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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.