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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Can I hibernate now?

If only I could I surely would hibernate about now. I think winter may have started a little early this year. We had snow on November 1st. It didn't stick at our house but Jason said it covered the car tops out on the ridge. We are blessed to be down in a valley along the river and we get ugly stuff like that later than most every one else. This morning we had planned to get the Cornish cross chickens butchered off and when I got up we had had our first good frost of the season too. It was a tad nippy outside. Rodger already had the water kettle filled and a fire going when I went out with my cup of coffee. We did get the chickens butchered and I got the stock made. I thought I would just wait till tomorrow to can it up so as to hopefully not cause another arthritis flare up. I can hope, right? Most the the birds were so big it took 2 people to zip the bags closed on em. They will make a nice hearty roast chicken and then a wonderful kettle of soup or dumplings the next day. I de-boned the thighs to use in gumbo when I get time to make and can that. Gumbo is a long day process. Takes a good bit of time to brown all the ingredients and to make the roux. Then 90 minutes in the pressure canner. I will get it done soon.

Not long till modern gun hunting for deer around here. Today when we were butchering chickens out back we had 3 nice deer run up in the back yard. Luna barked at them and they took off. She don't chase them once they are out of the yard tho, which is good. She just does not like any kind of critter in the yard. This is her territory and she protects it.

I think all the garden spots have been put to bed for the season now. The trellises are taken down and stacked that we use for beans, the fence to trellis cukes is down and stashed away. The tillers are put away for the season. My herb bed looks like shit and will likely stay that way till spring. Goodness, fall slid past and winter is upon us and dang it, I was not done. It is true, time waits for no one. But we had a pretty good garden this year, got some stuff canned to help out, should have plenty of corn for cornmeal later and some for chicken feed as well. The chickens do like their corn when the temps drop. I will have a few more to butcher off about mid-December when they are big enough. The last hatch is still too small and it would be a waste of life to butcher them right now. And life goes on.....

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

Stella

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bad idea, bad idea.......

I learned too late it is a bad idea to buy 2 bushels of apples knowing how long it takes to work them up. Good grief, what was I thinking? obviously I wasn't.  I just wanted to put some apples up for pies and frying and such. I wanted to can pie filling so as to not fill the freezer full of apples. Well the apples I got SHOULD have been excellent for either of those things. But, nope they were not. Not sure if it was just a bad season where the apples were raised or what but they don't hold up to frying or cooking of any kind. Barely will stay intact just washing them. What to do, what to do. I peeled a bunch, chopped and froze them for caramel apple cake and fritters. And dried the rest. Now I have 3 gallon of dried apples. Damn it!!, I reckon I am gonna have to make fried pies. The apples will be fine but I much rather had them in jars than in the freezer. Any who... I found this recipe online a while back and recently saw it posted on facebook just a few days ago for "apple fritters". So if you are inclined this is an excellent  use for chopped fresh apples. These lil things are so dang good.

Apple Fritter Bites

1 1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teas baking powder
1 teas cinnamon
1/4 teas salt
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon butter melted
1/2 teas vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped apple (chopped pea size)

Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk

Stir together dry ingredients then add in wet ingredients except apple and  beat till almost smooth, don't over beat. Stir in apples gently.

Heat oil of choice for frying (I use coconut oil) to around 365 degrees. not smoking. I only use about a half to one inch of oil in skillet for this. Drop batter by teaspoons full in hot oil. After they bubble for a bit and brown on one side flip over and brown other side. You may have to adjust cooking time to size of spoon full of batter. Drain well on paper towels.
Mix powdered sugar and milk with just a few drops of vanilla and drizzle over fritter bites. Serve warm or they are just as yummy cold.
I usually don't flatten mine much, just enough to keep them from flipping back over once I turn them in the oil.

Last week before Rodger and Jason left on their weekend hunting trip I had Rodger pick all the peppers off for me before we get a surprise frost and ruin them. Another mistake. Oh my, how many dang peppers does one person need? A lot I reckon. He picked nearly a bushel of bell peppers and at least that many jalapenos. I did slice all the bells and freeze those for later use. Then I had to find another use for green jalapenos. I knew I was gonna make chipotle pepper with the red ones. I had read about and heard of Cowboy candy. So I gave it a try. Well I was not at all disappointed. That is some good stuff. A bit spicy, sweet, tangy with a lil heat. And pretty easy to make as well. I found the recipe online, actually found several and they are so near alike I think any will work. Now to let those age for a couple weeks and try them. If you think it is something you might want to make to use up jalapenos you might also look at the many many different ways  to use them. On burgers, spread over a wheel of Brie cheese and baked, with you lowly pinto beans like a relish, on hotdogs. Limited only by the imagination of the user I think.

Our garden is finished for the year. I did not even plant any turnips this fall. I do still have lots of work to do to get all the beds put to bed for the winter tho. Now that might take a while. My back is not cooperating with me very well right now. I think I injured it again a few weeks ago and it just is not getting better. Well it is kinda better but it wont let me do much till it starts giving me fits of pain and making my legs hurt really bad. I have been trying to give it a break and not over do things, not lift and that kind of thing but to no avail. Maybe soon I will be back up to speed.

The leaves have fallen enough now in front of the house and you can see the corn field from the front porch. So beautiful this time of year. The corn is brown and mature, just needs several heavy frost to drop all the moisture down so we can pick it.

You can see the corn beyond the trees in this photo. When I went out on the porch the chickens came running to see if I had a treat for them. I have far too many pretty birds. Trying to get some new pullets raised out of all these chicks that I hatched to save for layers. It does look promising too.

 
I got several young roosters that are destined for the freezer too. Maybe we can get those out of the feed bill this weekend.

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

Stella

Saturday, October 4, 2014

I found apples, finally

A friend and I were on the search for apples for freezing and canning for the past couple weeks. I knew there were several orchards within a couple hours of us here. I did a search online and got numbers, called em up. And got the socks shocked off me. Orchards are asking $40 a bushel for apples. Oh my, no way in hell I will pay that. They are cheaper in the store. Something is wrong with that picture. Needless to say we did not make the trek to the orchard. Not to mention one of the ones I called charged more if you pick them yourself. What the hell? So I happen to think of the road side stand here in our town and decided to check and see if they had apples. They did, Jonagolds, good for what I was needing, and $24 a bushel. Not cheap but I can handle that price. So I picked up 2 bushels, 1 for myself and one for my friend. Will likely go back next week and get another bushel or 2. I peeled and froze the first bushel today. Didn't count the bags but there are many many bags of apples in the freezer for frying. Next ones will for sure be turned into canned apple pie filling. I will be so glad when our trees are big enough to produce fruit so I wont need to get sticker shock every year and be able to have fruit for our own use.

Our weather has been just wonderful today. Not too hot, just cool enough to be perfect to work outside. After peeling all the apples and getting those put away I peeled and sliced about 20 lb of onions and put those in the freezer in gallon bags to use maybe next week to make gumbo to can. I just need to pick what will likely be the last of our bell peppers and get those sliced up to use in the gumbo too. They are predicting frost for us in our area tonight. Surely not!! The low is supposed to be around 35 with wind. What happened to fall? Better yet, where did summer go? I missed it I think. Seems like just other day we were planting gardens, now they are all done and mowed down. Only thing left is the peppers and a few beans we are waiting to dry for seed. I think Rodger has plans to do more mowing tomorrow provided its not too wet in the fields. The only big harvest left really is the corn and that will be a while yet. It needs several good heavy frost to knock the moisture out of it so it will store well. Then it will be time to shell and get cornmeal ground.

Last evening we were in the garden I dug up my tame thornless black berries that my friend Anna had sent me. We are probably gonna move some of the grapevines in the vineyard and plant a row of black berries and raspberries between the 2 rows of grapevines. I am not sure what I had planned to do with that many grapevines to begin with but they are there and growing well. Once they start producing I am sure I will start to hate grapes. Or start making lots of wine. We may have gotten ourselves in over our heads with all these fruit trees and berries. That is a lot of work to properly care for an orchard and vineyard. Not to mention tryin to keep it all mowed and pruned. But we gonna give it a try.

My Cornish chicks are growing great and healthy as can be. It still amazes me at how fast those lil things can grow. They will be ready for butcher in about another 4 weeks. They surely eat a lot of feed for such small creatures. But they are healthy and happy and nice and warm under their heat light. I am sure they will enjoy that tonight if it gets down to 35 degrees.

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

Stella

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

An early fall

I am convinced we are having an early fall. Or at least seems earlier than usual. Or maybe its just me that has missed summer. I have seen a few trees changing into their beautiful fall colors and some leaves falling too. The garden is done with exception of bell and jalapeno peppers. The field corn is brown but still a ways away from time to pick it. Time to get busy planting fall plants. We plan to get a few grapevines transplanted this weekend as well as get the raspberries and thornless black berries moved to their permanent locations. I have more young roosters that need to be butchered off and out of the feed bucket. I can tell you that 33 chickens of varied sizes can eat a lot of feed. Need to get that chore done before it gets too cool. Our weather is supposed to be high in the 60's this weekend. Perfect weather to work outside. Now if it don't rain maybe we can get that butchering done. My little Cornish chicks are growing like bad weeds. They don't get butchered till late October tho. But they sure are growing fast. I am just glad it is not terribly hot for them. I can keep them warm, its just hard to keep them cool.

This past week I have been making chipotle peppers. It really don't take long to smoke/dry ripe jalapenos. Maybe 4 hours. The biggest thing for me is to remember to keep adding wood chips to the smoker. I do tend to get distracted and forget. After they are dried they are brittle and I run them in the food processor to make chipotle powder. It has a nice smokey pepper smell so the taste will for sure be incredible. Maybe I can get in the garden and pick some more of the ripe peppers tomorrow to smoke. I think I have enough green ones in the freezer for poppers now. Probably far more than I will use as I am the only one who will eat them. Unless Rob is home and he and Amoy will eat jalapenos.

I am hoping tomorrow I can get up with my friend Marcia and see if she wants to go get apples at the you-pick orchard about an hour from us. I am totally out of apples in the freezer and only have about 2 jars of homemade apple pie filling canned right now. I need to check on my big pear tree and see if the pears are ready to pick also. I may can some of those as well. I like to mix canned pears and peaches for a snack or even a late breakfast when I get up late.

I did finally get a start on weeding my herb bed, again. That seems to be a never ending process. It could be done on a weekly basis if I had that much energy to expend. Still in the harvesting mode tho. Have lots more to get cut and dried. Then the whole thing can be mowed down. I have far too many types of mint that is about to take over in there. And I knew better than planting it there. What the hell!! But it serves the bees well when it is in bloom in summer tho. So its not a total loss. I really want to dig some horseradish roots too. I love the flavor of that stuff. And boy will it clean out your sinuses when you cut it up. Still got more grape juice to make into jelly too. Probably should have already had that done but I have been taking a break this week. My poor body needs it. If anyone has Fibro they can relate to the fact your body does not handle stress well at all. And the past month and a half have been very stressful with losing my mom, one of my favorite uncles and this past week and long time family friend past on. But I will survive even tho this fibro flare will set a new normal for me, again. Each time you have a flare up you never fully recover to being as good as you were before the flare so it sets a "new normal" for you. A fibro sufferer has to do their best to not let themselves get sent into a major flare up. But it does happen. But tomorrow will be better.

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

Stella


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Back in the saddle again

I am finally home and back at it again. I did get a few days to rest after being away for a couple weeks. Then it was back to the homestead stuff. We had planned to get our older laying flock butchered off over the labor day weekend. Of course it rained and put an end to any thoughts of that. So this morning Rodger got the water kettle fired up and heated the scalding water and we did the deed. Butchered 13 of my older laying hens off. I did the usual of making stock with the bony pieces and canned the legs, thighs and breast halves. I got 19 quarts of canned chicken and 9 quarts of stock canned. That should last us a while for soup, stews, casseroles and of course chicken and dumplings.  I have 2 young pullets and the rooster left. The pullets are laying now so we can have at least 2 eggs per day to maybe hold us over till the younger ones come into production. I actually have 2 younger bunches of chickens and intend to keep the pullets out of both bunches. I should end up with about a dozen laying hens. Which means I will have about 20 standard breed roosters to butcher later as well. I did get my order of Cornish cross babies on Thursday as well. They are all doing great. I moved the rooster and his 2 girls in with the flock of younger birds and gave the Cornish the big chicken house so they will have lots of room to grow.  And grow they do. They will be ready to butcher about October 25th. At the young tasty age of 6 weeks.

After Rodger, Jason, Tasha (our friends daughter) and I finished with the chicken butchering Jason and Tasha went to move a lawn mower to her house and back to Jason's house to mow and weed eat his yard. Rodger went to the garden and dug our taters. Oh my, what a pitiful crop. For all the weeding and work it sure was not worth the effort. So what few we do have I will likely can those. I just hope to hell our sweet potatoes do better. I guess all things considered it was not bad. We had ate from the row of taters for a good while and we only planted 1 row in the garden. Not really many plants to begin with but dang I wanted more than a couple bushel of taters. We certainly hope to have several bushels of sweet taters tho. IF the deer will stop eating the vines off them. I think they have pretty much decimated the purple hull peas and now have a taste for sweet potato plants. But those will be dug soon as well. Rodger also brought a 5 gallon bucket of red bell peppers in for me to freeze as well. We use a lot of sweet bell peppers during the year. And my goodness, are those things expensive to buy in the store. I guess if I had to buy em, we just be doing without em. Next on the garden list is to get the jalapeno peppers picked and frozen. I think I will attempt to make smoked jalapeno peppers. Smoked ripe red jalapenos are called chipotle peppers. A rather easy process as I have read. A matter of picking the ripe red jalapenos, washing them well, They can be split in half if you rather not have the intense heat of the seeds. Then put in the smoker with some good wood chips such as hickory or any desired fruit wood and smoked till dry. My intention is to smoke for several hours then finish off in the dehydrator so they are completely dry. Then they can be stored for later use. Thas my plan thus far. Will post more on how they turn out, or not. Seems to me they should dry well in the smoker as they are thin walled peppers to begin with. We shall see.

I think tomorrow might be a jelly making day here. While I was out of town Rodger had picked and froze a good bit of hog plums for jelly. So maybe I can make the juice and jelly tomorrow. Those are one of those things its either feast or famine, some years you have none and you are best served to make a good supply of jelly in the years when the plums are plentiful. I am also gonna try to find the time to get to the garden again and pick the last of the tomatoes, ripe or green. I do want some green ones in the freezer for fried green tomatoes. Those sure can pick up your spirits in the middle of winter when you have fried green tomatoes and think of summer and the garden fresh tomatoes. I still have lots of herbs to dry also and most of a 50 lb bag of onions that need dehydrated. Lots of things to do to keep me busy till the snow flys I think.

As of right now, not much else happening on the farm. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Friday, August 29, 2014

Canning marathon

It has been a busy past few weeks here on the homestead. With the lose of my mom, then 11 days later my uncle passed away unexpectedly. The garden has really done well this year. Although with all the chaos we did lose a good bit of our sweet corn. When dealing with a lose its really hard to pick and put up garden stuff too. I think we probably lost about 1/3 total as it got too hard before we could get to it. The green beans also went a little too long. Lots of them as of last picking had turned yellow, ripe and had to be shelled out to can with the rest. This tells the plant "mission accomplished" as in it has produced seed and is done living so they stop flowering and start to turn yellow and lose leaves. End of the bean patch for the most part. Same thing is happening with our tomatoes. Not being able to pick them as they ripen creates big loses with them rotting on the vine. But not much can be done about all that. Am very thankful for what we do have and have canned. We are still picking tomatoes but its sad to see all those rotted ones in the patch. Last week we canned 21 quarts of green beans, 22 quarts of bean soup, and 21 quarts of veggie soup with venison in it. So we make progress. Rodger and I went to the garden last evening and picked tomatoes and bell peppers. I am guessing about a bushel of tomatoes and close to that many big bell peppers. All still need to be worked up. Not sure what the hell I did to my back but when I rolled, and I do mean "rolled" out of bed this morning I could not stand up straight. Bending over is just out of the question. I went out to let the chickens out for the day and did as Rodger told me and took my cell phone with me. All was good till on the way back in the house I dropped the phone in the grass. Not able to bend over to pick it up, I had to kick it over near the out building so I could have something to hold onto and bend down and pick up my phone. So back in the house I took muscle relaxers, Advil and anti-inflammatory meds and went back to my bed. I was a tad bit better this afternoon when I got up but a totally wasted unproductive day in my book. So I still have tomatoes, bell peppers and hog plums to get taken care of tomorrow. They cant wait any longer. Of course Rodger will be here to help tomorrow so I think we can get it done.

It is time to get my order in for Cornish cross chickens so we have some meat in the freezer to last till the spring batch. But before I have a place to put them I will need to get my older laying hens in the jars. We plan to butcher at least 12 of them this weekend while the men folk are off work for the Labor day weekend. And labor we will. I still have 31 young birds to get raised up and butchered off as well. Something tells me I will be in the winter butchering chickens, again.

I must say thank you to all my kind sweet readers who sent prayers and their condolence on moms passing. So nice to know that total strangers, or friends I have not met in person is a better term are so thoughtful. From all of us here, A heart felt thank you.

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

Stella

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Garden in full production, Moms passing

Our garden is in full production right now. Although I did lose the last of my sweet corn. It was just not important last week. We had other sad things to endure. My mom passed away suddenly August 8th. She had been doing really well after her stroke in April and up till about 2 hours before she passed. I find comfort in the fact that she did not suffer at all. My suspicion is she had another stroke or threw a clot. We buried her beside daddy on Tuesday. The week prior we were planning on Amoy and Liam visiting for a week and were scheduled to pick them up on Saturday at the airport. Rob was not gonna be able to come home with them due to trying to save his vacation time for when our lil Zachary gets here. But as it happened mom passed on Friday night and when we let them know Rob got a flight out of Phoenix for Sunday morning an got home Sunday evening. I was sure happy to get to spend some time with the kids and especially that sweet lil Liam. He just melts our heart.

He just had a hard time getting thru the flowers to get to his momma. He would eventually make a good lil country boy. There is truly nothing greater than grand kids. He did get to walk barefoot in the grass, step in his share of chicken poop, play in a creek, and pick and eat maters right off the vine.

Liam and daddy picking and eating Blueberry tomatoes that I planted in the herb bed. My good friend Deb sent me the seed for the tomatoes. That is the odd thing I grew this year. They are blue to purple in color and get red if they are in the sun. Liam liked em.  Love that precious lil boy. And his momma and daddy too of course.

Our tomatoes in the garden have done great this year. Rob and Rodger picked about 2 1/2 bushels on Sunday and I finally got them worked up on Tuesday. It will be hot for several days then rain for several days and this is hell on tomatoes. It will make them split and crack. Then they rot before they get totally ripe. But we are still having a lot  I made about 15 pints of salsa, and about 8 quarts of mater juice. When I wash and prep the tomatoes to run thru the Squeezo strainer to make juice I squeeze the seed pockets out of them. When they are run thru the strainer the juice comes out almost as thick as tomato sauce. Next project is to make spaghetti sauce to can. Probably this weekend. We had planned on picking green beans and tomatoes this evening but it poured rain till nearly dark. So maybe Rodger can do that tomorrow evening for me. Jason should be able to help him.

 I have to be out of town for visitation Thursday evening and the funeral on Friday for my Uncle Charlie. He was mom's sister Carla(deceased) widower. He had surgery on Monday to remove a tumor in his lung and passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday morning. My cousins are just devastated as to be expected. Two of those cousins were here last week as pall bearers for my mom's funeral. Love them dearly and loved uncle Charlie to pieces. It has sure been a rough couple weeks here on the homestead. Life can change in the blink of an eye. So tell your loved ones you love them today, tomorrow may never come.

In the past month since my last post, I did manage to get all my carrots processed. Some sliced and frozen, chunked and frozen, others shredded and dried. So they are all done. Now if it will just stop raining long enough to get the potatoes dug before they start to sprout with all this rain. I will most likely can most of them this year. We can keep them in the cellar but they do tend to sprout and thus ya lose a lot to sprouting. So if they are in a jar they are good till you decide to use them. So far I have only had time to make one canning of veggie soup and can it. Need to do lots more. Its also time to get the venison we have left out of the freezer and used up before the hunting season starting in October. We don't have much left but its still good and will use it in veggie soup and chili. What ever roast are left I will just can for barbecue or venison and gravy. Nothing goes to waste around here. When I took Rob, Amoy and Liam to the airport Monday I made a run to Sam's club and picked up another 50 lbs of onions to dry and use in soup as I can it. I got more pinto beans too for canning bean soup. We eat lots of soups in winter especially. Just glad Josh was in town that day to go with me to Sam's and help load the car. He is such a good friend to Jason and all of us. It was nice to get to spend some time with him even though it was during moms funeral. Dana and Dalton were taking care of his parents while he was here with us. Just wonderful folks, all of them, that we love like family.

I had planned several weeks ago to get my herbs cut and dried and still don't have it done. They have grown like crazy with all the rain. Maybe next week. God willing it will happen. If not, oh well. We will make do with what we have on hand. We have been more than blessed with our garden this year so I wont complain.

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

Stella

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The garden is nice

I have to admit it is more like Rodger's garden this year. He has done all the hoe work and plowing and keeping weeds out this year. It sure does look good so far. Our potatoes are dead so its time to dig those. I told him this evening when we were in the garden I think it best if we just dig maybe a 5 gallon bucket at a time so I can can up the smaller ones so we don't lose them from shriveling over the storage. We picked enough cucumbers to make 8 pints of dill pickles while we were in the garden. And I found 4 small ripe tomatoes.


The green beans are trellised on fence panels. They are full of bloom and beans. Next week will be picking beans.


The sweet corn has tasseled and has ears formed. It should be ready in a week or so. Yummy!!!


I think we planted enough sweet taters to supply a few counties. They look really nice and healthy if the deer will stop eating the leaves. They haven't done a lot of damage but ya know they been in there.


My tomatoes did not get staked and I guess you can say we do them the lazy way. Just them fall over and run all over the ground. They have lots and lots of green tomatoes on the vines. I did find 4 small ripe ones this evening.


We have about 30 ft of cucumber plants trellised on fence wire. This is where we picked enough to make pickles this evening.


If ya look close enough in the vines you can see the green beans hanging in there. At least the bean picking can take place in the shade this year. Either of us can walk under the trellis so at least on hot sunny days it might make life a lil more bearable.

More onions to get sliced and dried tomorrow, and herbs to pick and dry. Another busy day for me.
Not much else happening here on the farm. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Another lesson learned

I have always thought that everyday you should try to learn at least one new thing, no matter how trivial it seems. Then there are days when we learn big things. I learned something new this past week since my last post. I had my incubator running to try and hatch off more baby chicks with the intention of replacing my laying flock with their off spring. I use one of the square Styrofoam still-air incubators with the automatic egg turner. It is tricky to keep the temp adjusted in those things when the air is not moving to keep it even all around. With this in mind, I decided to set the temp for eggs that would be directly under the heating element. So I put the turner in, placed my thermometer on the egg turner under the element and turned it on. With a few trys I got the temp right at 99.5 degrees for chickens. Then I proceeded to load the incubator by putting eggs just in the holders around the perimeter under the heating element. With water in the lil tray area in the bottom I counted the days till hatch time. This time around I got a 50% hatch rate. The best I have ever had I think. After a couple weeks I did candle the eggs and several were not fertile and some the shell was dark and dense and I could not tell if they were living or not so I left them all in the incubator. Now if I can just get better control of the humidity I think even that rate will increase. In the past I had been placing the thermometer in the center of the machine and set the temp for that area. Looking back I think the eggs near the element was getting too hot and killing the chicks early in the game. So if you are using one of the still air incubators to hatch chicks, only place eggs under the element once you have the temp set for that area of the incubator and you should have a better hatch rate. Or maybe you already knew that. But dummy me did not think about it.

Our weather has been really nice today. The forecast was for storms and rain today but so far we have seen none. I got out early, well early for me, today and weeded most of my herb bed. Then in passing I noticed I had several big weeds in the strawberry bed and got it weeded too. I actually feel like I earned my keep today. Now to deal with the sore legs from squatting down weeding. I also got fertilizer on the strawberries and herbs and some of my ornamental things here in the yard. So far this summer everything is growing really well. Our garden is really nice, the best one we have had in several years even if we did plant later than we wanted to. Although I have had to spray several times for potato beetles. They have really done some damage to the plants but still we do have some nice taters under there. Rodger dug a hill last weekend to see if they had made anything and we were both pleasantly surprised to find some nice ones. Another couple weeks and we will be up to our arm pits in stuff to pick and can. I still need to catch a not so hot day and clean out the cellar and empty things that our long past their prime and search out jars that may be unsealed. We pulled our onions last evening and they didn't do anything. They just did not grow much beyond the size of the sets we planted. I was kinda upset with that. So I guess I will try to buy a 50 lb bag a lil later and dry most of them for onion flakes. I seem to use more of those than fresh onions anyway.

Now provided we don't get too much heavy rain or too hot I plan to try to clean out chicken houses tomorrow. I really need to get the 16 lil babies put in a building. For now they are in a tote in the dining room. I really don't mind cause for now they don't smell and they are so cute and fluffy. I like playing with them during the day.

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

Stella

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

It's summer and it's hot!!

I think we went straight from winter to summer here. It has been really hot for us this year. Not to mention the rain raises the humidity and makes it worse. I reckon I am getting too old for this heat or something. Dang it drains me of life and energy. If I cant work much outside you would think I could get tons of things done inside. Not sure why but that is not the case. I guess I am gonna have to get up early and work a bit outside and then come in for the rest of the day when the heat sets in. Hope to get started tomorrow drying some herbs. My pantry supply is running pretty low right now. I am totally out of my homemade version of Ms Dash. I did finally get some celery on sale and dried a good bit of it to use in seasonings. So far all the garden looks really good and is growing in spite of all the rain. I know we need rain but seems like it rains enough to keep the ground too wet to work in. And it makes the grass and weeds grow faster too. Its a constantly battle with bugs, disease and weeds when you garden. But that is life on the homestead. I know several friends are having issues with disease in their gardens. I am inclined to think its caused from the wet weather we have been having. So far we have not had that problem, only bugs here.

Over the past weekend we got the 4 young roosters butchered off. Yep I butchered the ones that were my pets. I had one that was getting really mean and beating up on the other 3. One had been hiding in the weeds in self defense. Sadly he came out just in time for the butchering.  But they certainly made some nice stock. I got 10 pints of nice rich stock plus a good bit of meat canned from them. So it was a gain. I have babies due to hatch this coming weekend in the incubator. Just hoping for a good hatch. It will be time soon to place my order for more Cornish cross for the fall butchering. I am hoping to get them delivered around mid September so they can be butchered off by late October. Most likely I will order 50 for the fall butchering to supply our meat for the whole winter. I am hoping to only keep about 12 laying hens and 1 rooster for my laying flock. Provided I hatch off enough pullets to replenish my old ones. Talk about making awesome stock. The old hens will for sure make great stock for soup and dumplings. Also the meat from them canned makes wonderful casseroles. Maybe we will have a cheesy chicken spaghetti casserole tomorrow for supper. I can actually eat that dish with Velveeta in it.

Blackberries should be ripe this weekend. We checked them last weekend and they were starting to ripen then. Might pick some to can for cobblers. I think blackberry cobbler is Rodgers favorite. I personally like peach better but by golly blackberries are free and that in itself makes them good. We have lots of wild blackberries growing here on the farm around the edge of the fields. I remember as a child going with mom to pick blackberries and she would not stop till she had a couple 5 gallon buckets full. Then she canned those for later use. And ya know, back then I don't remember getting tick bites and not really many chiggers. But nowadays you get eaten alive with ticks and chiggers. Oh my, the thoughts of the itching almost makes me not want to go berry picking. Its just part of the country life so we take the good with the bad suppose.

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

Stella

Monday, June 23, 2014

You can tell summer is here!

It has been really hot and humid in our neck of the woods for the past few weeks. The humidity is killer as well. I know, I know, my southern friends are laughing about now with that complaint. Not to mention we have had plenty of rain this spring and early summer as well. For most of last week are temps were in the high 90's with at least 70% humidity daily. Miserable to be outside. So this ole girl stays in if and when possible.

As you well know, my memory is not the best. But with that in mind. Last week I had went out back to let the chickens out to roam. It has been so hot the hens head straight down from their building to the edge of the woods in the undergrowth where it tends to stay pretty cool. My young roosters (mean lil shits) follow me around back to the deck an hang out under there with Luna where its cool. I had taken all the plants out of the greenhouse due to the extreme heat in there and moved a large pot with my friend Mamie's started grape vines to the back near the sidewalk so I could keep them watered till she got time to come get them. On my way to the spigot to water I spied 2 short pieces of hose, nope wait damn it that's not a hose. Yep I was jumping up and down screaming so Luna comes bounding from under the deck to the rescue. Yep it was a snake lying beside the short black hose that connects the spigot to the hose reel. I keep a hoe beside the deck for just such occasions and quickly whacked his head all while Luna is trying to get at him to protect me. Once I mashed the snakes head I let her have at him. She finished him off and shook and dragged him to the far side of the drive way. Bless her heart she spent the rest of the day in the shade of my car watching the snake to make sure it didn't move anymore. I hate snakes of all kinds. I don't scream for just any reason, but a damn snake will make me scream every time. So far that is the only one we have seen near the house this year. Although I know they are around. We live near woods and our grass in the yard had gotten totally out of hand. Last week our yard was so pretty(unless you like grass in your yard) with all the short white clover blooming. It was super thick and with all the rain Rodger had just not been able to get time to mow. Not to mention a pretty well manicured lawn is not even on the list of priorities around here in summer. The garden is really ALL we really worry much about. Rodger has managed between rains to keep it looking good. He got it all hoed out last week and another evening he plowed. All of the garden so far is growing and looks great. I am so very thankful too.

I am hoping that maybe next weekend we can get the young roosters butchered off. They are fast becoming a nuisance especially to the 2 young pullets that are with them. Every time I go out to close them up or let them out one of the roosters wants to peck my feet, flog my pants legs and just make a spectacle of himself. If I pick him up and scold him when I let him down he follows me all over like a lil dog. Along with 2 of his brothers. But they are big enough to make good stock and that is what I need more than little feisty roosters. I have the incubator set with eggs again that will hatch in a couple weeks. I set it and them the power went off and stayed for too long, the eggs got cold and I knew those were dead. So I reloaded with more eggs. I am trying something a lil different this time tho. With still air incubators you have next to no air movement inside. In the past I had been placing my thermometer in the middle. Once the temp was set correctly I loaded the eggs in. With the heating element around the perimeter of the top of the incubator I am thinking most likely the eggs around the outside may get too hot thus lowering my hatch rate. So this time. I only put eggs in the turner around the perimeter and placed the thermometer on top of those eggs and try to keep the temp consistent. I will see if this increases my hatch rate. Will post more when this clutch hatches off. When my friend Mamie came to get her grape vines today she brought me about 18 turkey eggs to put in the incubator as soon as the chicks hatch. I am certainly hoping for a good hatch of them. Be nice to have some turkeys to butcher for the freezer this year. Not sure yet where I will house them but maybe by time they hatch off I will have figured that part out. Ain't that just like me. Get something with no idea where to put it. Rodger always loves when this happens. Not!! Usually ends up being a good deal of work for him and Jason. Another building?

We went out of town yesterday to Dalton's birthday part in Maysville Ky. Dalton is Josh and Dana's lil boy. They are like our adopted kids. Love them dearly. Jason and I had went deer hunting several years ago and we stayed with Josh's parents at their house. Just wonderful folks. At that time I was able to hunt and we spent lots of time in the woods and I didn't get to talk with his parents much that time. Always intended to go back and just hang out with them while Rodger, Josh and Jason hunted. Well that didn't happen as planned because I have been working at the hunting lodge in west KY for several years. So we were invited to Dalton's lil birthday party and we went. I got to spend some time with Larry and Sandy and talk with them. I thoroughly enjoyed that trip and visit with them. I can tell ya it wont be years before we go visit them again.

For me to be able to get much done around here I guess it means I am gonna have to start going to bed really early and getting up early if I need to do things outside. And heaven knows I got lots of things that need doing. For one I need to pull some weeds in the herb bed. Dang it I thought if I put down black plastic and with the heat of the sun it might kill most of the weed seeds. Well that didn't lat as long as I had hoped. I am guessing that some plants produce seeds that need light to sprout. I have lots of weeds but they seem to all be the same variety. I need to get up in the early mornings before the heat hits and spend a couple hours weeding. May take several mornings of work to get it all take care of but a little bit at a time will get the task done. I have several varieties of herbs that are big enough to cut for drying already. I think I still need to sow more parsley. I use lots and lots of that stuff. Both frozen and dried. I will for sure have to plant it where I can reach it with the hose. At least till it gets growing well.

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

Stella

Sunday, June 8, 2014

I did it again!!

Yep, I did it again. It has been near a month since I posted here. Dang time flys when ya ain't lookin. And I guess I wasn't. Not sure what happened to spring, and here we are in the summer already.

I am happy to report that my mom is some better. She had a really tough battle with a urinary tract infection and it almost got her I do believe. But finally with the right antibiotics she recovered and as for now is alert, able to use her left side normally and a lil bit on the right that was effected by her stroke. Sadly she is not talking at all or attempting to now. But as long as she is not hurting and is well cared for, I guess we can deal with that. Please keep her in your prayers for comfort.

I guess all the traveling and stress from mom's illness kinda wore me down a good bit. After mom was better I think I crashed. Kinda a normal occurrence for me when I deal with stress tho. I have felt better and more rested today than I have in a good while. Maybe because I went to bed last night about 10 and slept till near 11 today. That alas helps with what ails ya. I just did not plan to do anything today and I am proud to say I accomplished that task. Even managed to take a nap today too.

I was lazy but I sure cant say that for Rodger and Jason today. They went and picked up the 10 cattle panels that we wanted to get to trellis our green beans with, got those up for the beans to climb on and they are big enough to do that already.We do finally have all the garden planted, all crops are in now, so we work and wait till harvest.


This photo was taken about a week ago before we got some good rain on the garden. After the rain the beans put out runners and everything grew quickly. It looks good. So praying for a good harvest this year so I can refill some of my empty jars. I took me till last week to finally get still and have time to make the chicken stock from the bony parts of the chickens we had butchered back in early April before leaving on vacation. So that is done and ready to store. I have grown celery in the past and it can be time consuming and a real pain so I watch sales and pick up a bunch of celery stalks during the year to dry for our seasonings an to use plain in cooking. So that is my task for tomorrow. I do have a few herbs that are ready to start cutting for drying also. I am getting pretty low on my herb stock in the pantry. Parsley is my big thing that I do think I use the most of and it is the very one I am having a harder time than usual getting to grow well this year. But we take what God gives us and be happy with it.

I started my incubator up this evening after getting it disinfected and cleaned so it can heat up. Need to hatch off more chicks. I have confirmed I have only 2 lil pullets from the bunch I hatched in early April. The rest of mean lil roosters. They are so friendly and sweet tho. They can hear my voice and come looking for me. I was sitting at the dining table and talking to Rodger in the house and looked out the dining room window and had 3 lil roosters perched on the rock wall looking it at me. One wants to pick a fight with my shoes and pants legs every time I go out tho. Am thinkin this might cause him to have a short life span. But he is just young and starting to crow and wants to show who is the boss.


They are big enough now that I don't have to fence them in. They run free with the other birds during the day and go back to their house at night to be closed up. I just like my chickens. Entertaining critters they are.

I have all but finished with my greenhouse for the season I think. I got a few more plants in there to get moved. Some will be shipped to my friend Anna in Virginia this coming week and the very few remaining will be transplanted here. I did get my grapevines that are cutting from our vines here into pots , 2 in each pot as I was low on pots, so they can grow till early fall and be planted in the vineyard. In taking cutting I managed to get 2 leave nodes on some of the cutting below the soil surface and they make roots at both nodes. I am sure this will make for a more resilient plant in the long run.



I moved the pots to the herb bed among the mints so the pots get some shade and don't dry out so quickly and the plants will still get lots of sunlight. They should make nice vines to plant this fall. Tomorrow I plan to call my friend Mamie and let her know her cutting are ready to be potted up to plant later. Then we can disassemble the green house and put it back in the box for storage till next spring. Did I tell ya I love my lil greenhouse? I do for sure, so handy for plant starting.

Our kids have moved from Nevada to Arizona so Rob could take a new job and expand his job skills and knowledge. Today they finally got a lease on a rental house till theirs in Nevada sells, hopefully soon. Maybe in a couple more weeks they can be all moved in and settled again. They have said they love the area they are in but the temps in summer range from 105 to 113 average and that is a lil warm. But at least they don't have to deal with 8 months of cold like Nevada. Just hope Liam is able to get outside some in the evenings when it cools a bit so he can enjoy the outdoors. Was kinda hard to do in Nevada because of the weather. Not to mention lack of grass to walk in. Poor lil Abby I am sure wont like the heat any more than Liam. We will for sure be visiting in December this year we are blessed with our second grand baby. Yeas we are getting another lil grand baby. Don't know yet if we are getting a girl or boy but soon we should know. Prayers please for Amoy that she has an easy pregnancy. So proud of those 2 as they are wonderful parents.

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

Stella

Monday, May 12, 2014

Yep, I been busy goin in big circles

I cant believe it has been so long since I posted last. Goodness, where does time go? I am almost convinced that the older we get the faster it flys by. Or maybe its just that we do things less fast. Not sure, but..

We did get to go see our son and his family and enjoy visiting with them for Liam's first birthday. That lil fellow is growing up way too fast. Hes not a baby anymore. So precious. And you would think this grammy would have tons of pictures to post, but by dang I took mostly videos while I was there. I must do some editing before I can get them to post here. Dang it!! But we enjoyed our trip and visit. Sadly tho mom ended up back in the hospital while we were gone and was treated for pneumonia. She was back at the nursing home before we got home, which was good. Then the staff noticed some bruises on her right leg on Friday last week and sent her to the ER for evaluation suspecting it might be a clot or bleed. Finally today they have decided she has a bleed in her leg from the TPA she got when she had her stroke. She was a very sick lady and still is. They had to give her a unit of blood last night due to the loss. She doesn't recognize me now which is sad because I don't want her to think I am not there. Hopefully in a few days she will improve to the point where she can at least get to come back here to the nursing home for continued care with people she is familiar with. Being an only child stinks in times like this when you have to make all the decisions.So please keep her in your prayers for a continued recovery.

The garden stuff we had planted before we left on vacation is up and looks really good. When we got home Rodger and Jason got our sweet corn, beans and the field corn planted. Now as soon as we get a day or so of no rain we can get the tomatoes and such in the garden too. I think we have got behind again. But we did get the Cornish cross butchered off before leaving as well. Got plenty of meat in the freezer. Now if I can find time between running back and forth to the hospital to make the chicken stock all will be good. I simply had to be home tonight. Must do laundry or tomorrow we be naked. Or at least I would be. So I am workin on that as I type. Hey, I guess I can multitask after all. I am planning to get my incubator started up again really soon, I sure need to hatch off more chicks to replace my laying flock. The ones we hatched before we left are growing and lookin good. I still need to fix a place for them to be able to get out in the grass and still be confined to a small area so they know where to go to roost at night. Have just not had time to get that done since we been back. But it will happen soon, I hope.

My strawberries are loaded with blooms in the bed by the driveway this year. Hopefully we will have plenty of fresh berries soon. My friend Anna had sent me some thorn less blackberry plants right before we left for vacation and I still don't have them planted in a permanent location yet. But they are doing great in the pots in the greenhouse for right now. I got tons of grapevines started too, most of them have leaves so should have roots or at least will soon. Then they get put in individual pots till fall planting time. I get tired just thinkin of all the stuff that needs doing here sometimes. Geez!!!

Has anyone else had a terrible time with allergies this spring or is it just me? I got a snot nose and all that junk when we were in Nevada and it just didn't let up once we got home. I have had a plugged up left ear, left sinus feels stopped up, itchy eyes, cough, the whole nine yards. I guess it don't help a lot to be tired, stressed and run down either. But I must keep pluggin along till the stress eases up. Hope soon, before I crash. We both had dentist appointments today and got teeth cleaned and both got good reports. Thas a plus I reckin. I had a good laugh with Sheila, our hygienist as I got to be her first patient that she cleaned using her new magnifying glasses. It was hilarious. The glasses are designed to make it easier for the hygienist to see without having to lean over so far and strain they neck and back all day. But she said she could see things she could never see before. She chose Rodger and I to be her first patients using the glasses. She almost lost her seat when I told her I would keep my eyes closed in case she mis-judged her distance with her instruments. I do think it took longer than normal to clean my teeth with all the laughing tho. But thas OK, I don't mind being a guinea pig once in a while. I guess that was my bright spot in the day. Being on the road has really worn me out tho.

Some day I hope to get my ducks in a row and post on a regular basis. Until then, bear with me please. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Making progress

Dang this has been a long week. Stressful to say the least. Things went down hill end of last week when my mother had to be flown out to a hospital suffering a stroke. With great doctors of staff they gave her TPA clot buster drugs and she is still with us. She is stable but unable to talk or swallow. Not sure when or even if she will ever be able to eat on her own. In the meantime we opted to have a feeding tube placed so she can have nourishment till then. She had the procedure to get the feeding tube put in yesterday and they are able to feed her today. So far she is stable and may get to return to the nursing home Thursday or Friday this week. This has entailed lots of long trips for us out of town and that has been really hard on my body such as it is. But have been blessed that either Rodger or Jason was able to go with me and drive when needed. But keep mom in your prayers that she can continue to recover and be comfortable.

We did get taters planted last week. Our peas are up and look really good. Onions are up and carrots are starting to come thru the ground. My plants in the greenhouse look good and are finally growing well. Compost tea can make a big difference. I intend to water with the manure tea again tomorrow. It should be warm enough to get everything moved back to the greenhouse and out of the summer kitchen tomorrow as well.




 We had light snow, yeas snow, yesterday morning here and a heavy frost this morning. I knew it would be a lil too cold to leave tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouse with no heat so we put all those trays in the summer kitchen. We have heat in there anyway as there is still a tote in there where the lil baby chicks are living till we butcher the meat birds this coming weekend. The lil ones are growing and healthy.
These lil guys are from the ones I hatched in the incubator. Was sure hoping to have mostly pullets but not sure as to what sex they are now.
The meat birds are really nice size. Some are almost too big to stand up so they do a lot of sitting.

Not too bad for 6 week old birds. Very nice meaty chickens. I see lots of fried chicken and lots of good chicken stock. Then this fall I will raise another batch for fall and winter meat supply hopefully.

My older hens are still laying pretty good right now and they are so friendly I really hate to butcher them off later this year but they are getting past their prime for egg laying. They also tolerate Possum the cat well as he thinks he is a chicken. Spent all his young life with them so why not.


Possum waits here or in the chicken house every night for me to close up the chickens and feed him. He knows its time to eat when I come in from closing the hens up and makes sure to remind me when he walks in front of me to the back deck to have his belly scratched at the top of the steps. Creatures of habit, much like humans. They like routine as well I guess.

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

Stella

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Its spring, stuff is growing, time marches on

I think maybe, just maybe spring is here to stay. I be really ticked if it gets really cold again. But I am not in control of the weather. And God gives us just what we need, no more, no less. But here it is a week and a half into April already. Not long till vacation time and get to see that lil grandson. Well we gonna see his momma and daddy too, but thas a bonus. Cant wait to see Liam. He is growing so fast. I just wish we could let time stand still and be able to enjoy him at this young age for a while longer. It is so true, you never really know what love is until you have a grand child.



Hard to believe this lil fellow will be a year old the end of April. Seems like just the other day we were waiting for his to make his appearance. 

So far things are going rather well as far as gardening and getting plants started this year. Although it seems things that are started in the greenhouse are growing slower than I would like. Or maybe its just me. We have had a lot of rain which equates to little sunshine and slow growth of plants. But all in good time I am sure. If nothing else I should have lots and lots of tomato plants this year. My lil project for tomorrow is to get my azz in gear and get some composted chicken manure in a bucket and set it up so I can catch manure or compost tea to water the greenhouse plants with. I am convinced it makes them grow best. My friend Anna sent me some wonderful thornless blackberry starts a couple weeks ago. When they arrived in the mail I was like a kid in a candy store, literally. Cause I knew she had sent me homemade fudge in that package as well. Love that lady and so thankful for her friendship. I put the blackberry starts in individual pots to hold them and let them get started growing a bit before we set them in their permanent place. I think it will be so nice to pick berries without gettin eat up with thorns. In the greenhouse I have many many containers of cutting from grapevines. One container is for my friend Mamie who had ask me to show her how to prune her grape vines and I volunteered to take some cuttings and start them for her some new plants. Then this past weekend Rodger and I went to west Ky so I could prune Uncle Tripp's muscadine grapes for him as I had promised I would do and brought home 4 more containers of cuttings to get started for him and a few for us to keep here. All those in addition to the pot I have in the kitchen that has leaves on them already from our grapes here at home. I am thinkin I will be over run with grape vines pretty soon. Maybe I best dig out all my books on "wine making". I looked at the grape harbor out back today and they have lil buds and will have leaves soon I think. Cant beat homemade grape jelly and wine. I am hoping the ground is dry enough in the field this weekend so we can move my raspberry plants and start a couple new rows of them. We actually want to orient them in a different direction so all the rows in the orchard and vineyard go the same way. Rodger says its hard to mow around things when they go too many directions. But he has been doing well at it. 

We got home Sunday evening kinda late and was working on emptying the incubator that I had used to hatch my baby chicks in. I had one that was still trying to hatch when we left on Friday before and I had ask Lori my friend who was house sitting for us to just unplug the incubator if nothing else had hatched by Saturday evening and she did. Nothing else hatched. I guess my thermometer is bad because the chicks all hatched early at 19 days due to the higher than necessary temperature. But the hatch rate was really low, only hatched 7 babies. But am happy they healthy lil fellers. But when we got home I went to empty the incubator and a baby chick hollered. OMG, was my first thought. I knew the incubator had been off for more than 24 hours and this lil one had been trying since Friday to get out of the shell. I told Rodger, "dang if he is tough enough to survive this long, I just got to help him" and I know all too well if they cant get out of the egg on their own, most likely they wont survive. I helped him out, got him cleaned off, he was severely dehydrated. I gave him a tiny sip of water. He was weak but could still fuss. I turned the incubator back on to keep him warm and dry and let him rest for a bit. Right before I went to bed I picked him up to give him another sip of water in hopes to get him to make it. He took the sip, fussed a bit and died. Dammit!!  But such is life on the farm. I just sure could not make myself just toss the egg with the chick still strong enough to holler. But I had to give it a try and have in the past and had success. It is kinda tough to keep the heat and humidity just right in a still-air incubator. So if you are thinking of getting an incubator to hatch your own birds, just invest in one that has a fan to move the air and a good thermometer. I will make a big difference in the hatch rate.

My meat birds are doing great. They are growing well and not long till they will be in the freezer. Just a lil over 2 weeks to go now. And gosh do they eat a lot. They are funny to watch. When I open the door to feed an water them, they love to stand at the door and look out. But if you set one on the ground they freeze in their tracks. They have no clue what to do. But they like looking around but are scared to move. 

After we got situated at home on Sunday evening I was checking out facebook and email and such. I got a message from a lady whose blog I read and she has 2 books published. She was on her way to Ohio to a writing workshop and said she would like to stop by so we could meet and see the farm. Well needless to say I was beyond excited to get a chance to meet a fellow blogger and published author. You can check out her blog here. I always enjoy reading about her travels and stories of life. So Monday evening I got a phone call from Gianetta and she was in town. I went and picked her up at the hotel and brought her out for dinner and we got to  spend a wonderful evening getting acquainted and I so enjoyed her company. Such a sweet heart. Her books are both available on Amazon here and here. I started reading them last night late after I took her to her hotel. We waited till our only available photographer (Rodger) had went to bed to remember we had not taken a picture together. So imagine the laughs we had just trying to take a selfie. This is the result.


I was using my tablet to take the photo and had to use a mirror on the wall to see the button to push to snap the photo. I had several failures along the way.


I was thrilled to also get signed copies of both her books as well.  What a sweet humbling experience. After reading G's blog for a long time, and meeting her in person the books are just as wonderful. I hope you will grab those and have a read. Looking forward to your next visit G. 

It has started to rain tonight so that means not much gonna happen outside tomorrow. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Friday, March 28, 2014

Just your normal March stuff

I know I for one have fussed all winter about being cold, about the snow, up and down temperature changes and such. But I remember that when I was a child a long long time ago (ha ha) this was pretty normal for March weather. Very unpredictable at best. It might snow one day and be 60 the next. I can take all that as long as it is above 50. Not that we get much choice in the weather. It has been nice enough today to have the windows and doors open all day and even this late at night. Tomorrow night we are forecast to get snow showers. Go figure! Kentucky weather at its best.

It is still quite wet in the fields to work yet and a bit early too I guess. But my dad would have had potatoes planted by now. We might try to plant some next week unless we actually get all the rain we are suppose to get. With the cooler weather, cooler than in past springs, things are not getting enough sunlight to grow well even in the greenhouse. Actually the only plants I have in there right now are things in the cabbage family but they are not doing as good as I would like. I have a big pile of rotted chicken manure way far out back and I think tomorrow I will collect some of it and get it in a bucket and make some manure tea to water with in the greenhouse. Would prefer goat manure but since I have chickens and not goats, chicken manure it will be. The one season I use manure tea in the greenhouse I had the best seedlings ever. Nice hardy stems, good healthy foliage, just super sturdy healthy plants. So it is worth another try. My other seed flats are still in the summer kitchen to warm up and hopefully sprout soon. I know it is hard to get peppers of any kind to sprout without the flats being extra warm. In talking to a friend last night the subject of water bed heaters came up and I remembered I had one that I used years ago. So I got it out today and put it under the seed flats that had peppers in them to give them extra heat and encourage them along a bit. If you decide to use one I learned in my research a long time ago to set the temp on the heater to between 80 and 90 degrees. Any warm can damage the seeds. I did use this same water bed heater several years ago and the peppers sprouted in just a few days. Then we can hope for a warm up so they can move on over the the greenhouse and have good light.

Our meat birds are coming right along nicely. So far have not lost any this time around. And they are eating really well too. The feeder is made from a 4 gallon bucket and yesterday I filled it almost full. I had probably 31/2 gallons of feed in there. And in about 12 hours they ate near half of that. This is at about 3 and a half weeks old. They go thru feed rather quickly at this age. And they are getting big. Maybe tomorrow I can get some pictures to give you an idea of their size. I was expecting to be using more straw than I have been to keep their bedding dry by now. But seems to me with it not being hot they are not producing wet droppings like I have seen in the past. I know in past years when the temps went up the chickens always had runny poop. Not this time. So I have to wonder if may high temperatures cause them to have diarrhea to some extent. I will learn more about my theory here as time progresses and it gets warmer outside. Hopefully I can remember to update you all on my findings. You learn new things every year on the farm. And some days life is tougher.

Speaking of tough. A friend that is a Texan thru and thru just got her book published a week or so ago," A Widows Walk Off-Grid". If you are working toward a life of independence and self sufficiency her book will for sure tell you "you can do it" and survive doing well. She was widowed with nothing left, having to leave her home with just a few possessions in her vehicle and follow her dream of living off grid and depending on God and her will to sustain her and heal her broken heart. And she did it beautifully. I personally loved the book and if you are still in the seeking information and learning stage, as we all are, then this should be on your must read list. You can purchase Anne's book here on Amazon for your Kindle reader or in paperback also. Trust me, you wont be disappointed. It is very encouraging. If you decide to buy the book, please leave a review on Amazon.

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

Stella

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Yep, I think spring is here..........maybe

The weather the past couple days says spring has sprung. But the weatherman seems to want to play games. He says we are suppose to get snow showers tonight into the early morning and thru Monday. I hope he is full o crap. I am ready for spring to get into full swing.

I spent most of yesterday outside cleaning up around the yard. Got the left over firewood off the front porch, took the rack down and today Rodger helped me move the wood on around back to use when we butcher chickens to heat scalding water. I have said for several years that the front porch has to be pressure washed and the sealer put on. This year it is an absolute must. It is still solid and not damaged and I sure would like to keep it that way. That was my main reason for getting the wood rack off the porch. But it also will make extra room to put my plants when I move those outside too. See, an ulterior motive. But it is nice to sit on the porch without sitting behind the wood pile too. And this weather is perfect for porch sitting.

We did some clean up in the backyard too this afternoon. I took the fence down that surrounded the beds that we had built back there several years ago. I have an abundance of weeds starting to grow in there already with the past few warm days. We are gonna move the ties out tomorrow and then Rodger can take the tractor an smooth the dirt out into the low spots back there. I developed a drainage problem in that area. When we get lots of rain it runs down the slope an cuts its way thru the beds as well as washing out around one end. Just not a good spot, a bit too much shade as well. Not to mention with them gone it will give us more room back there to park the farm equipment. If we can keep the chickens from scratching the loose soil all over into the woods it will be all good.

Rodger went out early this morning an tilled some in the big garden. He re-planted out peas as they had not made it up yet, got the onions planted an a long row of carrots. Next weekend maybe we can plant our potatoes if its dry enough. He said if it don't rain or snow tonight and tomorrow he is gonna bush hog the raspberries to get the dead canes off and the old corn field. Then if time permits he will start plowing for the corn. Yep, its spring, time to start all this stuff. But tell that to my sore hurty body after what little I have done the past 2 days.

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

Stella

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Where is our spring?

What the heck happened to spring this year. Here it is mid March and our ice an snow just melted. It sure was nice out today. I even had the patio door open most of the day. So nice to air the house out an let fresh air in after being cooped up all winter. But by this time next week they are giving rain and snow showers again. Crap!! I am so ready for it to be warm and stay that way. Pretty sure things will do better in the greenhouse once it warms to a decent temperature. But I should not complain, my lil cabbages are coming up. I also had a huge flower pot that I filled with soil and sowed some lettuce, kale an spinach in. It has come up rather thick. Really pretty and green. I wanted to get an early start on tomatoes and peppers but I sure don't want to have to keep heat in the greenhouse for the weather we have had. That can get quite expensive after a while. Tomorrow I think I will go ahead an fill my seed starting trays and put them in the summer kitchen so the soil can warm up. Once it gets warm then seed to tomatoes, peppers and a few others things I need to get started early. Most likely those trays will stay in the summer kitchen till it warms a bit more outside and stays that way. Then they can be moved to the greenhouse. Peppers need really warm temps to sprout. My buddy Randy sent me some paprika pepper seeds and I hope to hell I can get them to come up and grow this season. No luck at all last year. 

This month has been abnormally cold I think for us. Normally I don't have a problem raising my Cornish cross meat birds in March and April. But dang it, this year has been different. I still have all of em, no losses yet. When our temps dropped down in the teens last week I was just afraid they would chill in their lil building so being the worrisome person I am I moved them into the summer kitchen. Yep you heard me right. I used an old quilt to put on the floor and up the cabinets on both sides of the kitchen, stapled it to the cabinets and pulled up the ends and tacked those down. Imagine a big 4 ft square basket made of a quilt. I put some stray on the quilt to help keep them dry and put them in their temporary home. The had their heat light, food an water and stayed toasty warm without me having to worry about them. Yesterday Rodger and I moved them back to their building where we used an old metal topless picnic table to suspend a quilt to help hold the heat in a smaller area to keep them warmer. All is well. You know chicks are warm enough when they don't huddle under the heat light. It was obvious from the droppings that they were warm enough to be able to move away from the heat. I won that round with mother nature. Depending on how cold it gets next week with the predicted rain and snow, they may be back in the summer kitchen. I don't care if I did spend a couple hours cleaning and sanitizing things in thee. I just cant afford to let those critters get sick or die.

I still don't have any hens setting this season so I finally gave up and loaded the incubator with eggs. So God willing, I should have baby chicks from the standard breeds about April 4th. I thought for a day or so that my incubator was dead. I could not for the life of me get the temperature up to where it needed to be. I kept turning the thermostat up, no luck. Then on closer inspection, being a dummy, I was turning the thermostat the wrong way. Aha! Once I figured that out and turned it up it warmed up to where it needed to be and I put the eggs in on the automatic egg turner. With the still air incubators the temp needs to be about 101 degrees. There are lil indention in the bottom of the incubator that need to always have water in them to keep the humidity up to mimic a setting hen. It is kinda tricky to add water and not pour it on the eggs. I have been using my plant water can that has a long skinny spout on it. Works like a charm. About 3 days before the eggs are due to hatch they get taken off the egg turner and placed directly on the mesh bottom. This is the incubation period where the chicks are turning in the shell and pressing outward with their beak to make a lid they can pop off and get out. Once they turn completely around in the egg they then break thru to the air pocket at the big end of the egg and start pushing till they are free. Once they are out of the shell you have an incubator full of lil critters that very much look like lil dinosaurs. Just another miracle of life.

This weather being first warm then getting cold has made my joints a miserable lot. I has been nice enough for a few days that I probably should have gotten out and finished pruning things in the yard. I got rose bushes that are going wild. Actually both the ones I have are old fashioned varieties and they have the best scent ever. But the smaller one near the cellar is crawling all over the place. I don't think it can be classified as a climbing rose at all. I crawls all over the place. Or maybe I should put up a taller stronger trellis for it. Maybe I can do that. Next nice day we have. I have 2 thornless blackberry plants that my friend Rosie had given me a few years back that are on the other side of the cellar door. They for sure need a trellis to climb on. One has a runner that is about 12 ft long or more. Just lots of lil things that make for a lot of work to care for around here. But I like my roses and blackberries. Thankful only one of em has thorns.

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

Stella

Monday, March 10, 2014

A few nice days outside

I tell you what, these past few days, 3 or 4 I think, of nice weather to be outside has sure been good for my soul. Not to mention the body an the yard. I have about had my fill of snow and winter this year. I had high hopes of getting to hibernate this winter an get some things done inside that needed to be done. but dang life happened. Time escaped me and here it is near spring. The weather has been beautiful this weekend and we managed to get a few things done around the place. The old greenhouse/hoop house that we built for near nothing that I no longer use, we finally got it taken down. Most all the materials can be reused somewhere else in time. When we get an evening free with no wind we do have a burn pile to burn. Other than that it is mostly done. It has dried well with the sunshine an breeze in the field so we got in there in the orchard and pruned fruit trees today. A perfect day for doing that too. Ya know you read stuff on how to plant trees, how to take care of em. Well even if you do it all just right you still hit snag. In our orchard the wind blows from west to east, the soil was softer than up here at the house. The breezes down there over the past few years have made most of the trees lean toward the east. IF we had staked them that would not have happened. But it did so ya make the best of it. The deer have done a good bit of damage to some of the trees as well. That meant some of them had to be pruned rather severely to say the least. But I have to say they all do look much nicer and healthier. In a few weeks when the temps stay above freezing we will spray with dormant oil spray to kill any bug eggs that may be hiding in the bark. It has to be warm so the oil disperses well and covers all the tree surfaces. This is done likely 3 times before the trees bud out this spring. The trees also need a good top dressing with compost or organic fertilizer at the same time. I know they get plenty of nutrients from the field but need a boost. At least I think they do. Pruning trees is not hard to do, just knowing how to prune different types of fruit and nut trees is the part to know. Trees that bear soft fruit like peaches, apricots and such need to be pruned so the middle of the tree is open to allow sunlight and air to circulate well and freely. This prevents disease and increases yield. Apple and nut trees, pears, cherries benefit from single or multiple leader system pruning. This is where you leave one main limb straight up or multiple limbs upward. Either way is suitable. I am so glad someone else took the time to figure all this stuff out so all I had to do was search online to find the info. It was interesting that they all said essentially the same thing too. Thas a first. No matter what you always take out damaged, diseased or crossing branches as you go. I think it best to take these out first in case these branches happen to be what you would like to leave as leaders.

Back at the house it was mostly piddling in the ornamental stuff to get it trimmed up and so the yard don't look so shaggy and out of sorts. My body didn't last long enough to get a lot done but at least some things. I got my monkey grass trimmed back, all the dead dried stuff cut off so it can come back nice, new and green in a few weeks. The herb bed will be my next project. I am hoping to get to that in the next 2 days. Dang they are giving a chance of snow for us on Wednesday this coming week. What the.......well its still March and it happens in Kentucky. I guess if it snows again I will be house bound again for a few days. Dang the snow and ice just melted off our deck Friday from the last snow and ice storm we had. I know Rodger is sure wanting it to warm up so we can shut the heat down and get it out of his pocket so to speak. We are thinking of trying to have a different and hopefully less expensive way to heat next winter. These electric bills will have a fellow going hungry in a short time.  But very thankful to be able to pay the bills and stay warm, dry and well fed.

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

Stella

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Loving this weather...for now

Oh gosh our weather has been so dang nice the past few days. I am so glad to be able to get outside and putter around and get a few minor things accomplished. On Friday I did finally get my cabbage and Brussels sprouts in the seed flats. Now to just hope they sprout an grow well. I had a big old flower pot that holds a lot of soil that I also filled and sowed some lettuces in it for early green stuff. I need to get in there in about a week and start some onion sets to have green onions about the same time. Yep, you know where I am going with this. I want my spring fix of wilted lettuce an green onions with lots of crisp bacon on top. I did sow a lil bit of spinach and kale also. I might, key word being might, get in the mood to make smoothies or green drinks. I do know they are very healthy for your body. And my body needs all the help it can get. Rodger spent most of his day today getting all the equipment running and ready for gardening. The tiller was not a problem. The big Ford tractor is being contrary again. Every thing else is good to go. Now he is itching to start plowing. He does have a lot of that to do. He wants to plant 2 kinds of field corn this year. The Reid's yellow dent for stock feed and the Boone County white for corn meal. I think he really needs to get some corn shelled really soon to have ground into cornmeal or we are gonna be in a fix and run out. My stash is really low. I might have 2 more bags of cornmeal in storage.

I got my baby chicks in the mail last Wednesday right in the middle of all that super cold nasty weather we had. I was very concerned that they might be in pretty weak shape on arrival. But they were great. It was so neat to see the box they were shipped in and that is really what makes all the difference in how well they survived.


This box is not more than a 1 ft square with a round nest made inside. There were 25 lil chicks in here standing shoulder to shoulder. They were warm and toasty and ready to eat an drink as soon as the opportunity presented itself. The first water they got was warm sugar water. They all started eating and drinking within minutes. As of right now they are out in their new building all nice and toasty with plenty of space to run around. We set up 2 heat lights just in case one happens to go out in the middle of the night so they don't freeze. But so far, so good. God willing we should have 25 nice meat birds that will meet their demise the weekend of Good Friday in April.

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

Stella

Friday, February 28, 2014

Comments and responses

Well I guess by the title you can tell I don't remember what I was gonna title the post that contained my response to my sweet readers comments. OK so laugh it up.  But when you see it you will know it has answers to questions you may have ask or concerns.

Some readers were concerned about the issue in this picture with the quilt going down behind the dryer and damage to the antique quilt and fire risk.

Ya know what I never really gave a lot of thought to either. But after takin note and looking closer Lisa the quilt does go down behind the dryer about a foot. BUT the dryer is about 18 inches or more (I cant judge distance) from the quilt. I did check to see how warm it got behind there last time I did laundry and as far as heat being a problem and risk of possible fire, unless the dryer catches fire there is no danger of it catching fire as it is. My dryer exhaust at the bottom and goes outside and when the dryer is running it is not but a few degrees warmer behind the dryer than ambient temperature in the house. But ya made me think and check it out, so thank you.

Mary I had given some thought to possibly making something to treasure with these old quilts. After some thinkin I will probably take them down before long and maybe alternate for short periods of time with others I have or if and when I get a spurt of energy maybe make just a simple wall hanging to put there instead. These quilts are so deteriorated that I am not sure there is enough of the pattern left to make a pillow. There is really not a moisture or heat issue in this room as it is not closed off but the fact that the quilts are "hanging" will do more damage to them. They certainly have seen their share of use and love over the years tho. Ya know I could put a shelf back behind the dryer, prop a print or small painting on the shelf to camouflage the water inlet and just put other pictures and such on the wall. That would solve the problem too. Hmm, it just takes another persons perspective sometime. Thanks Mary and keep em comin.

Blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Stella

Trying to get a jump on spring

And trust me that is a tough thing to do around here right now. Seems as tho winter is wanting to linger longer than we would like, but we don't control the weather. Rodger got my greenhouse set back up a couple weeks ago and I still have not been able to get my cabbage seeds started. Its not like I need a ton of things in the cabbage family but I need what I need. I was hoping our really cold weather would ease up a lil bit before I got the seeds started an they sprout. The cabbage family can do fine in cold weather the biggest problem is damping off in the greenhouse. And that is something you really have to stay on top of or chance losing all your seedlings. I have in the past just used a peroxide water spray to control the disease. I hope to get those seeds in this weekend. But with no more than I will be starting, maybe 3 flats, less than 100 plants of all things cabbage, I am thinkin I will just use my counter in the summer kitchen for those till the super cold weather spell is past. Then hopefully it will be safe to put them in the greenhouse for the remainder of the growing period. Fingers crossed. We are forecast to get snow, ice, rain, sleet and shit and stuff and things this weekend. We will see.

Well we did decide to go ahead and build a smaller addition onto the big chicken house up here on the hill to raise the meat birds. It should be big enough to accommodate the 25 birds I am starting the season with. Rodger and Jason got that task done last weekend. They went from this:

The floor on Saturday morning was the start, and time wise, 3 days later this is what we have:

This is a 6ft addition onto the west end of the hen house. It would be so nice if chickens were not such creatures of habit and the hens would just move in the new residence. But I am sure if I tried that it would mean going out at dark and carrying each bird to the new house. They would sit down at the door of their old house. So I will leave them be and put the new babies in the new building. Then once they are butchered off and the building is empty I can put new young pullets in this section. Hopefully as I hatch chicks this spring and save out the lil pullets I intend to raise them in this new section so it will be home to them. After the young bird get close to laying age we will be butchering off our old flock and that will leave the bigger building empty to raise the fall round of Cornish for our winter meat supply. I will let ya know how my plan works out. OK stop laughing, its not done yet. I got my heat lights, bedding, feed at the ready, vitamins and all set to get my babies first of the week. They will only live here about 6 , no more than 7 weeks till they are in the freezer. When we have several days of warm dry weather forecast I will paint the outside of this building to help protect it even tho it is built with exterior grade plywood. Yep, another paint project.

Speaking of painting, I am still not done on the inside of the house as of right now. I did finally get the closet section painted in the bedroom/walk-in closet off my bedroom. I has nice heavy shelves in there to hold all kinds of stuff that was sitting all over my closet/craft room. Much neater and at least I can safely walk in there and come out with all 10 toes intact. I have had to take it easy the past few days as I have had another round of mild bronchitis I guess. Have not felt good for a few days. I did feel some better today and managed to get another coat of paint on the walls in the master bath. The paint was not old enough to really need to be totally painted but needed touch up where the paint for some reason looked thin. So another project off my list. I actually think there is enough paint left in that can if it remains good to totally repaint the whole bathroom in a few years when it needs it again. I still need to buy the paint to paint the inside of the pantry in the kitchen. Sounds like a good lil project for a crappy weather weekend we are supposed to have this weekend. IF and thas a big IF I feel better. Have to wait till tomorrow to see how that goes. That will leave the living room and master bedroom to paint and I might be done. At least till I get another harebrained idea.

I have at last got my garden seeds out and all sorted to see what all we have and want to plant. Not sure how I did it, but I have managed to let us run out of cucumber seed. Panic time!! Well not really. I did find that Lowe's sells organic and heirloom seeds. So I guess my next trip out of town will include a trip to Lowe's to pick up some cucumber seeds so we have them on hand at planting time. It is still really wet in the garden right now but Rodger thinks he might be able to get in there tomorrow and at least plant our peas. No we did not get them planted on Valentines day like we wanted to. But I think it is still early enough that they will do fine before really hot weather hits. Peas do not do well in heat. The earlier you can plant them the better they will produce and the pods of the Sugar Snap peas will be super tender and crisp. It has been to wet and cold here for us to get in the orchard an prune the fruit trees. That needs to be done really soon before they start to bud. But you do what you can and the rest has to wait.

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

Stella