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Monday, August 26, 2013

Canning potatoes, late garden work

Not much canning going on here this summer at all. But on Saturday Rodger and I got our potatoes put in crates and in the cellar for storage. We had put them on the floor of an outbuilding at Jason's house to cure and the skins to toughen on them and felt it was time to get those in the cellar while we had spare time. Not like we are all that busy but still lots of things to do on a homestead all the time. We had several that had developed soft spots from laying on the floor and I knew they would not keep stored in the cellar so I separated those and decided to can them so they can be used. So that is what I did. Not hard to do at all. I like to leave peels on my potatoes, especially for frying. I washed them really well and cut of damaged areas, cubed them up so they were uniform in size, packed them in pint jars, added 1/2 teaspoon salt, covered with water, added lids, pressure canned them for 30 minutes at 10 lb pressure. That is what the canning book says to do. They all sealed and needless to say I was a happy lil camper. This batch used the damaged ones, but I still have about 3/4 bushel of small ones that will shrivel over time in storage and be useless so those will be canned tomorrow, hopefully.

I canned a total of 18 pints, these are just ones I HAD planned on using for supper tonight for fried taters but someone changed my plans. They are still nice and white, you can see the brown areas which are the peels. The protein layer on the tater is just under the skin and this is just one reason I don't like to peel taters. Try to preserve more of the nutrition. I actually like to use boiled leftover taters to make fried taters anyway. They are just better. Try it sometime.

Over the weekend I did also get some mustard and turnips sowed to have for greens to can later this fall. I planted some rutabagas as well. I am not sure I have ever had rutabagas but they are kinda a taste between turnip and cabbage so they cant be all bad. Very nutritious as well and tolerate storage in the cellar. At least that is what I have learned about them from reading info online. I found 1 packet of parsley seed today while I was out and will get that sown tomorrow too. I do need lots of parsley dried for use till next spring. Still have some other herbs I need to cut and dry from the herb bed as well. Still need to dry peppermint, lemon mint, thyme and more oregano. Add that to my to-do list. We have picked a few ripe tomatoes in the last week and the raspberries are starting to get ripe too. Not enough tomatoes to can yet, but soon I think. The raspberries I am freezing to make jam later and for smoothies. Gosh so hard to grasp the fact that September is almost here already. Where did summer go?

I had a doctor appointment today and all went well with that. Last week I saw my family doc and had several lil basal cell carcinomas taken off. Those are peeling off and healing well. I cant complain. Life is good. It got even better when I got a call from Rob and Amoy to tell us that Amoy and lil Liam will be flying home in September to see us. That just tickled me to pieces. Cant wait to see them. Wish and still hoping Rob gets to come too, but if not he will be home in December for a visit. I do OK for about 3 or 4 months then I get to really wanting to see him and Amoy, in person, not just on ooVoo. Although I am so happy we have ooVoo so we can see Liam in real time and see him grow. Hard to imagine he will be 4 months old tomorrow. Damn time flys as we get older.

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


I am still chasing that ever elusive case of fresh nectarines to can. I am thinkin it is time to give up on those. Maybe just get another case of peaches to can and be done with it. Rodger informed me last week we will have some pears this fall, not as many as we normally do but some. So we make do with what we have I reckin.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Yep, this is what I think of this day too

It has been one of those days. I had a really good day yesterday, low pain, low fatigue, just an all around pretty good day. Then the weather changed. I agree with Liam, phewwee on days like this. But tomorrow will be better.

Blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

We are heading into an early fall

No not a fall "down", but fall the season after summer. I am pretty sure grapes don't get ripe till sometime in September around here but mine were all ripe. Rodger went to the garden last evening to check on the tomatoes and see if we had ripe ones. He did pick a few so we have enough to use fresh with meals. When he came back in I ask him to help me pick the grapes. We cut the clusters off the vines with pruning shears. We had 3 of these half bushel baskets full of nice big sweet grapes.

This is the pic of 2 of the baskets, the other is already in the sink for washing. Yeah we still need to get the green beans put in the cellar. Rodger helped me make juice after we got the grapes picked.

We got 10 quarts of nice thick juice from those and still had a half bushel left to do. We finished off the last basket full this evening and made juice with those too. Ended up with 10 more quarts of juice. As concentrated as the juice is I do think it will need water added when we drink it. Not much work to produce grapes and not much to make juice. We only have 6 mature grape vines producing right now with 30 plus young vines that are not producing yet. I guess all in all these grapes were grown by organic methods as they had no fertilizer or chemicals on them. If I need to I can make grape jelly later but for now we still have plenty of grape jelly in the cellar. I chose not to make wine this year. The juice is more versatile anyway. I rather wait and make some raspberry wine. I need to check on the raspberries to see if they are ripening yet. I think they should be. The plants had lots of raspberries on them a couple weeks ago when we checked them. I should have a bumper crop of those this year too with all the nice rain we have had. As matter of fact it was raining lightly when I came in the house a lil bit ago, shortly after dark. If has been so nice and cool at night I think I will start opening windows at night an shutting off the central air. Might try that for a few nights to see how bad our allergies act up. Its nice to sleep with open windows and listen to the night critters at night. So nice to live in the country where you can do that.

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


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Oh yeah, we on the rebound

I am not gonna say it no more. I am not gonna promise to update the blog more frequently. I will try tho. At least I can say with some hope that I am on the rebound and making progress toward feeling some better. Dang its been a tough couple years at best. As most know I am diagnosed with rheumatoid and osteo arthritis and fibromyalgia. Plus the damage to my back and arms from a work injury. Some day I am gonna wake up and not feel pain and know for sure I am dead. But until then the battle rages. The long an short is my doctors had me on some meds that are good for fibro and helping manage chronic pain from such but the side effects were killing me. I have always all my life loved being outside, in the garden, having flowers, taking care of different beds of edibles here on the farm, raising our own meat, all things farm related. I have spent the better part of 2 years INside because I could not tolerate heat or cold, the fatigue and brain fog were just awful. Then I had an Ah-ha moment. Yes another one. All this started when I was put on cymbalta and lyrica. So if they cause that many negative effects I did not have before then I think it would behoove me to not take them. I am here to tell you getting off the medications was a nightmare. Literally! I had horrible dreams, violent dreams, pain, headaches. brain zaps,(you cant know unless you have had these), my tummy has been mad at me for a long time. I have not allowed myself to drive now for about 3 weeks because I just did not feel safe riding with ME. I am now at the point where the worst is over. I can walk without appearing to be intoxicated now, I can drive and feel safer in my own abilities. I am making positive progress. Thank God!! I have had some pretty good days this past week. I at least have been able an felt like getting out side to do things. In all this, I guess the message is, if you are sick, no matter what the illness. Be your own advocate. Research your illness or injury, know your options, know your own body and really pay attention to how meds make you feel. Sometimes a bunch of small changes (minor side effects) can be as bad if not worse than big effects. IF you feel your medication is causing more problems than it helps, ask the doc to change it if possible or adjust your lifestyle to make you better. The cymbalta I was taking slowed the chemical signals in the body that tells the brain "pain". It slows the pain signals but along with that everything else in the body as well. I feel like my digestive system has slowed really bad to the point I don't digest my food well thus not getting the nutrition my body needs. Now I have to work on that too from a holistic standpoint. Add more cultured and fermented food to help digestion, fresh pineapple for the digestive enzymes. I kept wondering why I could eat only once a day and feel full and not hungry all day and all night. That is not normal ya know. But tomorrow is gonna be better. Always!!

Today I actually drove me to town and didn't scare me or damage anything or anyone. I went to check on mom, she is doing OK. Had lunch with Rodger at the local DQ(mistake). Ran into some old friends I had not seen in a long time. Stood on the sidewalk and talked to them for well over an hour. Had intended to stop by the store to say hello to Lori, but dang by time I looked at my watch it was past time to for me to start supper so I came on home. I cant remember when I have been out of the house this long. We had fresh green beans, new taters, corn bread an garden maters for supper. I fixed a pan of meatloaf but not much of it was eaten. We all just pigged out on the garden stuff. Rodger got his after supper nap in and then finished installing our cell phone booster. It has helped our cell phone reception a good bit. Not much signal to be had out here in the boonies. But that is a good thing. There are places on our road that has no GPS signal too. We so hid even the satellites cant find us. While Rodger was doing his project I started getting my stuff together to plant my lil cabbage plants that we picked up at Lowe's yesterday while we were in Lexington to the dentist.

There were only 9 of them but that is enough to make a few more jars of kraut and have coleslaw for a while. They should be done before really bad weather. I had the black plastic over this whole section of the herb bed to kill weeds and it did a fine job. I just left the plastic on the area I am not planting to keep the weeds at bay. I did use landscape fabric under the cabbage with mulch on top to keep it in place.

My friend Anna had sent me several lavender plants earlier in the year and I put them in pots so they would get really good strong roots. I got some of them planted here at the west end of the herb bed so they can have plenty of light in summer time and bloom really well. The nearby plant is one of my mature sage plant that has been all but scalped. I have about 10 nice sage plants growing in here now. I really have made some headway on getting the herb bed back in order. Gosh it was about gone with no weeding this summer. Next project is to thin out the mint(s) and purple cone flower. They are so over grown. The oregano is out of control too. I did cut a bunch of it last week to dry for use in cooking. If we don't get rain tomorrow I am gonna try to cut the chives and get those frozen for later use. Chives are best frozen. I got a spot ready to plant some parsley too. Parsley is good frozen or dried. I dry most of mine. Its about time to be thinking about where I can plant some turnips and mustard for greens. I probably need to can more greens so we can take more to Rob and Amoy next spring. I like to just eat the turnips raw like an apple. I had some last fall that got lost in the back of the fridge and stayed in there for a good 3 months. When I found those they were so sweet and good. Love em!
I had my camera in hand (can you imagine?) when I went out back to close up the chickens for the night and check on my beans out back. This jungle looking mess is suppose to be lima beans. Not sure but they have grown up and down the fence wire they are trellised on till it might be near impossible to pick the beans.

The smaller beans to the left of the tall "mess" are a few plants of the Ky wonder pole bean. Those are gonna get trellised this weekend I hope. But the beans on the limas are huge and to me look almost like fava beans.

Well, what do you think, Limas or Favas? I don't know, but if they lima beans they are gonna be huge beans. They are wide and flat and I always thought Lima's looked like large green beans as they grew, just a bit bigger.

These things are a good 1 1/2 inches wide and they are just starting to grow. I better ask someone who knows more about Lima's and Favas than me. I bet my friend Deb will know.

Rodger and I were out of town last weekend to western Ky to visit Aunt Ann and Uncle Tripp for the weekend and pick some green beans. Oh my, that woman, even with her being sick and taking chemo and radiation treatments all spring an summer she has a huge garden. At least she had some friends that came from out of town to help her daughter in law get lots of things canned up. They got green beans done and while we were there I helped Shawna make and can some tomato juice so she can comfortably do it alone now. And Ann had lots of tomatoes that were close to ripe enough to make juice. Please keep this sweet lady in your prayers that she can make a speedy recovery and we can have her for many more years.
Not much else happening here, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Need to get my ducks in a row

But these days seems like I am lucky to just get my ducks in the same pond. I feel lost in my own lil world. I lose track of time lapse. I have been thinkin for a week or more than I need to update my blog and let my readers know I am still kickin. Well finally , here it is. By the way, where the hell did summer go? Just the other day I was starting things in the greenhouse and wishing for summer to get things planted an now here it is mid-August nearly. Actually I have lost a lot of precious time and a lot of my life trying to get better health wise. NOW maybe I can be on the uphill swing. I have stopped a couple meds that I think were making me so fatigued and making me sicker. If I can just get me past the withdrawal of those it will be better. Making progress tho. Maybe in the near future I can do a whole post on what has happened an how I am making positive progress now. So many things to do an so little time before fall and frost, then the snow flys.
Our garden has not produced as much as we are used to but no panic here because when I do have an abundance I can like there is no tomorrow. So in leaner years we still have plenty of canned stuff. We finally got the first round of sweet corn put up late last week and weekend. Will be picking over it again probably mid week. Beans, well those are a whole nuther animal. Not going to be many if any of those this year. But we have enough already canned. Our tomatoes have lots of nice healthy green tomatoes on the vines but they will be a lil later getting ripe. No biggie tho.Our potatoes did really well this year. We got those dug a couple weeks ago and are in the building curing for later storage in the cellar. I plan, but we know how my planning goes, to can some of the smaller taters for quick meals. Not to mention the fact that the very best fried taters are ones that were boiled and left over. I got this idea from my friend Rosie who said in Germany her mother always had boiled potatoes in the kitchen to use in so many ways. And I love Rosie's fried taters. When I make garlicky herbed potatoes here I always make enough to have leftover fried taters the next day. So very good.
I did manage to get the sage cut an dried last week and ended up with a 2 gallon zip top bag nearly full of crushed leaves of sage. I still need to dry some oregano and mint from the herb garden. I should be planting some parsley to chop an freeze. Parsley an chives are much better frozen than dried. Parsley is OK-ish dried but better frozen. Chives definitely better frozen. A few weeks ago when I was making dill pickles I used some dill that I had chopped an frozen last summer. Good stuff.
I had a doctor appointment in Richmond last week an before we left town we had stopped at the local fruit stand an Rodger got me a box of peaches. I think the box holds 3/4 bushel. I ate a lot of em but did manage to can several jars too. This week I am looking to get nectarines. The fellow said he would have them last week and this week. Need to purchase those right now as my lil fruit trees are not big enough to produce yet.

Ended up with 11 pints an 2 quarts. Not bad considering I ate lots of fresh peaches. Love em!! My counters in the summer kitchen are pretty cluttered for it to be the middle of what should be canning season. At this moment I have lots of empty jars out there an a flower pot in which I had started some cabbage for fall cabbage. My cucumbers in the garden ate my cabbage. Covered them up and with all the rain the cabbage rotted from all the water. But not much can be done when ya have so much rain and don't  get the cukes trellised. Plan B, start an try to grow fall cabbage. Need to be thinking about gettin the fall crop of chickens growing too. If I order now they will be big enough to butcher off before the weather gets too cold and we will be done with our late season meat supply. Probably raise about 25 more for the freezer. I still have several from the spring "crop" to last till we get more raised.
The past couple weeks I have felt a bit better with some med changes and stopping some meds. A lil more energy I guess. I even had enough energy to clean the windows outside. I had found a recipe on Pinterest for window cleaner to use outside an you just need to hose off the cleaner, no drying needed an it drys spotless. Yippee!! So I tried it an be dang, it worked. So I will share the recipe with you so maybe it will make your window cleaning life a lil easier.

Outside window cleaner
1/4 cup ammonia
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon Jet dry(like used in the dishwasher)
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon dish soap

Mix well in spray bottle an take hose an rinse window to get the dust off so as to not scratch the glass. Spray the cleaner on the window and with a brush or sponge or even a mop wash the window. Rinse with the hose again and leave it be. The windows will dry spotless. This makes window cleaning so much easier for me. I don't have to climb on a chair or ladder to reach the taller ones, and no streaks from drying either. Now I really need to clean the siding with bleach to get the "green stuff" off. Maybe when I get another burst of energy that I am not forced out of necessity to use for something else I can clean the siding.
Not much else happening here on the farm, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.