December 29, 2011

A Blessed and Peaceful Rest



This was the icing on the cake this Christmas season!  We were joyfully blessed with having both grandsons just before Christmas so I rushed around to get baking ingredients to make some yummy Christmas goodie memories with them.  They are truly one of my greatest joys.  Children are a blessing from God....and there is no earthly word to describe how precious grandchildren are.  We had a marvelous time together and I will cherish the memories.  Below are some of what we made for everybody.

December 05, 2011

Christmas Crafting



Having a few weeks before Christmas, we choose this time to have some serious crafting sessions in our home.  We love having a homemade Christmas and have a continuous art class until Christmas "vacation".

November 23, 2011

Sowing Winter Seed



When I sow seed, I usually begin in February by incubating the seed and then moving them out to the greenhouse once they've germinated.  This regular routine of mine has bugged me ALL summer and now that harvest has passed, it has bugged me even more.  How do I begin this process earlier?  I don't want to be transplanting them for the first time into individual pots when it is time to be transplanting them into the ground, but my greenhouse isn't heated (yet) and the winter days are too cold before the middle of February.

November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving or Christmas?

This is not our place and I'm not sure where the picture was taken, but isn't it splendid?  I'm using it as my screen saver at the moment.....and wanted to share it with you.  

I've been in this weird mood lately, feeling a bit out of sorts I suppose.  Thanksgiving is still a few days away, but everywhere you look, Christmas is in full swing.  

November 18, 2011

Dutch Oven Pork Loin

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This is an extremely easy meal, and SO delicious you won't believe it!

I simply put the pork loin in the bottom of the dutch oven, dice up 4 or 5 potatoes, 3 or 4 carrots, a sweet onion and celery if I happen to have some, oh and a few sliced cloves of garlic.

Sprinkle on some rosemary,thyme, salt and I add a bay leaf.

Cover everything with a mixture of one can of cream of celery soup, 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup sour cream.  

Pre-heat your oven to 350 and then cook it for about an hour.  

Ovens and size of pork loin vary, so check to see if its done by forking the potatoes.

This recipe can be changed with just about any meat such as ham, chicken, roast etc.  Adjust your herbs for the type of meat you are using.  I'm telling you......you will fall in love with this way of making a meal.  Talk about no fuss and made from scratch!  


November 03, 2011

Autumn in the Ozarks 2011



This is my most favorite time of year!  The harvest is done, the stockpile of wood is complete, the hills are turning shades of gold, burnt orange and red and the weather is beautiful!  

October 30, 2011

Our Chicken Breeds

This is Big Nate, he's a Barred Rock rooster and just about my favorite.  I love roosters, they come in so many variaties and they get so big.  Its fun to watch them find something on the ground and hear the funny sounds they make telling their hens to come get it.  We have a few Barred Rock hens too and their temperament is great.  They are my new found favorite breed this year.

October 28, 2011

Loss on the Homestead


I just took this picture a few days ago of our little flock of white Black Tailed Japanese Bantams.  They are the cutest little things!  Little did I know when I took this picture, that a few days later we would be down to only one little hen.

October 26, 2011

Canning Potatoes



This year has included a huge canning and preserving learning curve for me, but invaluable experience makes it so much easier each time I need to can something and also when I want to tackle a new recipe or type of food to preserve.

We have a full basement in which to keep produce over the winter and I have tried for several winters to keep different things and this year I decided to can the produce instead of being disappointed again.  I have found that it is too humid in our basement to keep things, but I have learned several different tips that I may try in the future.  One tip is to make up a weak bleach/water solution and dip all winter squash including pumpkins in it to kill off any outer bacteria that will begin to cause them to decay.  Another tip is to build a small box that is filled with sand and bury the produce in the sand.  Any barrel would work for this too.  Even with these great ideas, I decided to play it safe this year and simply can everything.  

Besides.....how hard is it to can potatoes?  Seriously?  Not that hard, but of course my first try didn't turn out that good, but the potatoes aren't wasted and they will be delicious used for mashed potatoes.  Sadly though, they won't work for hearty stew potatoes like I wanted them to.

After peeling and cubing the potatoes, I consulted my Ball canning book.  The recipe stated that the cubed potatoes should be boiled for 10 minutes before packing into jars and then process in a pressure canner for 40 minutes (for quarts).  I knew something wasn't quite right when the potatoes were already soft after boiling them, but I proceeded on, following the directions.  A dear friend of mine later confirmed that I shouldn't have boiled the potatoes first, which of course makes the entire process that much simpler......thank you Kathy!  

Anyway... I put the soft, hot potatoes in the jars and covered them with boiling chicken broth and processed them as directed.  I really like the idea of covering the potatoes with chicken broth instead of just water so they will be delicious in soups and stews and the whole jar can be poured into the pot without draining the potatoes.  Most recipes call for adding salt to each jar when canning potatoes, but I didn't add the salt because the chicken broth has plenty of salt in it.  



The potatoes need a simple 40 minutes in the pressure canner and they're done!  I'm so excited about having potatoes already ready to use all winter long!  I absolutely LOVE canning!  

Oh, I almost forgot....as you can see in the first picture, I hadn't removed all of the air bubbles yet.....be sure to try to get all of them out.  I've read that the air bubbles are really ok to have in there, that air bubbles get treated too, but they just look undone to me with large air bubbles in them.  Creature of habit I guess....

I've got another 50 pounds of Yukon Golds to do so off I go!  Have fun canning your potatoes!!



October 21, 2011

Canning Applesauce


This was my first time ever making and canning applesauce and I have to say that NEVER (hopefully) again, will I purchase applesauce from a store.  Making your own applesauce is an extremely easy thing to do and the reward is incredible!

October 11, 2011

Canning Apple Butter


It is Autumn here in the Ozark Mountains!  Sadly enough, most of the apple trees are bare this year.  Lots of spring rain, then extreme heat and humidity leading to a drought, seemed to have ruined the Ozark apple crop.  Reports say that the trees that were heavily laden, were stripped bare by critters needing nourishment.  My dear in-law's trees went through this.  The fruit was there one day, then the next it was gone as if it was picked clean in the night.  So needless to say, apples are few and far between and highly treasured in our neck of the woods these days.

October 04, 2011

Homeschooling and Homesteading


Homeschooling and homesteading just flow naturally together.  How better for children to learn hands on life lessons with the day to day activities at home on the land.  One thing I deeply appreciate about doing both is how well we know and truly appreciate the uniqueness of our daughter.  She has a great love for God and all of His creation.  She has a determined spirit in learning everything she can possibly

October 02, 2011

Harvest Time in the Ozark Mountains

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As each season comes upon us, we celebrate and treasure what each one holds.  Autumn is no different and I have felt for many years that Autumn is my most favorite season of all.  We cherish the crisp mornings, the warm afternoons, the turning of the leaves and the harvest!  I wouldn't be being completely honest with you though if I didn't mention how exhausted we are by the time winter rolls around and we are just as grateful for the rest that winter provides with snuggling up in front of the fire with a mug of something warm and steamy to drink.  But for now.....there is work to do!

It seems I haven't gotten anything done on this blog except for posting a few recipes here and there and for that, I apologize.  There has been plenty of activity here on the homestead and I have taken many pictures, however, there never seems to be enough time to get everything posted.  I've been stashing posts away to complete through the winter and update everyone on our progress, but I thought I would give you a few ideas of what has been going on around here just this past week....

Of course homesteading isn't complete without canning.... and thankfully a lot of that got done this week.


We can never have enough green beans canned.  A friend of mine with five children cans 140 quarts of green beans every year.  When I first heard that, my jaw dropped,

September 28, 2011

Autumn Fried Apples


 For the record, I am crazy about our new cast iron ware that I got for my birthday.....thank you Mom and Dad!  Since it's apple season, we gathered a few bushels and proceeded to make some Apple Butter (future post) which called for 5 1/2 pounds of apples per batch.  Our wonderful, helpful daughter was having so much fun peeling the apples with the awesome (everyone should have one) apple peeler, that she got ahead of me and we had some leftover, peeled and sliced apples.  Seriously though, everyone should have one of these apple peelers, they peel, slice and core all at the same time.  (Thank you for mine Mom and Dad in law!)


Anyway....back to the leftover apples and our new cast iron ware.  At some point I had seen where someone (if I could remember who I'd give them credit for it)  had fried up some apples in their cast iron skillet, so with great excitement I melted about 3 tablespoons of butter in the skillet, layered in the apples while sprinkling them with brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  While having it on medium heat, I turned the apples until they were covered with a beautifully golden glaze and the apples were soft when pierced with a fork.  I have to say....YUM!!!  Wonderfully yummy on homemade ice cream.  It might even be a good glaze on meats if there is any left...which is doubtful in this house.

September 26, 2011

Secret Places in the Ozark Mountains


Yesterday was a rare and treasured gift, my dear husband and I spent some time driving the back roads of our Ozark Mountains.  We have had an extremely long, hot and dry summer and after working from dawn to dusk, day after day all summer long.....a country drive, just the two of us, seemed like a gift.  I took along the camera because I wanted to share some of these rare seen sights with those of you that have never been to the Ozarks.  Each region of this world has things that can be found all over the world and they also have other things that are unique to that specific region.  Ours may or may not be unique, but they are extremely Ozarkian in nature.  One can still find extreme isolation in these mountains

September 19, 2011

Canning Sweet Pickle Relish



So I found myself with 25 pounds of cucumbers...
I've already canned Bread and Butter Pickles and Kosher Dill Pickles for the year and have more than we need for the next year pickle wise anyway, so what in the world do I do with all of these cucumbers?  Since many of them were little bitty picklers, I decided to make up a batch of whole sweet pickles.  The problem was, there was still a whole mess of cucumbers to do something with.  

September 11, 2011

Peach Butter and Spiced Peach Butter



I absolutely love the changing seasons and each new harvest that the good Lord gives us.  We were blessed with getting some extremely sweet and juicy peaches this season and I decided to make a good sized batch of Peach Butter.  It was a new learning experience for me, but it wasn't too hard and now I've learned an even easier method than the one I used for the first two batches which I'll share with you.

For one batch of Peach Butter or Spiced Peach Butter you'll need

August 29, 2011

Fresh Garden Macaroni Salad


Nothing says summer like a freshly made macaroni salad!  
It's easy to modify if you prefer one vegetable over another or maybe you just like to add in a fresh herb or two.  Our family recipe is one that changes depending on what is available in the garden that day, but here is the basics of it for you:

August 28, 2011

Branson Fiddle Festival 2011


This weekend we had an extraordinary time at Branson's 23rd annual Fiddle Festival!
People came from all over the United States to enjoy great old time fiddle, guitar and banjo music and to enter the old time fiddle contest.  


Contestants from Idaho, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and

August 14, 2011

August on the Homestead




Life has been so busy that I frequently have to get out early in the morning to enjoy the peaceful dawn as the world wakes and also to be able to enjoy God's miracle of creation right in our very own yard.


The butterflies have covered the Anise Hyssop and Butterfly bushes this year, so much so that they seem

August 08, 2011

Fresh Garden Veggies for Dinner


Fresh picked sweet corn, there's nothing that says summer more!  We can make a meal out of just sweet corn and we practically did last night except for the fact that we had so many other fresh vegetables to use that we more or less over did it at the dinner table!  There has been a blessing of zucchini, crookneck squash, and sweet peppers......so for the first time this year I put them together in a stir fry.  Delicious!!


When you've made all the Zucchini Bread you care to make,

July 27, 2011

June 26, 2011

New Life on the Homestead

 Life has been going at a dead run these past few months.  If any of you are farmers, homesteaders or simply gardners, you can relate.  This latest event has given me cause to pause and enjoy new life.  A few days ago, our Millie girl gave birth to a calf.  She has been given the name of 'Junebug'.  

 

Needless to say, with Mama protecting her,

May 23, 2011

Devastating Tornado in the Ozarks

Living in the Ozarks, you have a constant mindfulness of how deadly storms can be.  It doesn't consume our way of life, but it plays a major role in how we live.  Our little farm happens to be located in Tornado Alley.  

Growing up here, we used to only have to be watchful of the storms in the spring.  Now, it is every storm, no matter what season.  

Every Ozarker has their own "tornado" story to tell, but I can tell you

April 24, 2011

April Showers Flooding the Ozarks

 

Here in the Ozark Mountains, we enjoy spring rains.  The pastures green up, the trees bud out and growing season gets in full swing.  If you've never experienced spring in the Ozarks, I must tell you that we are in what is called Tornado Alley and that name has already been proven true this week and daily threats are heading our way next week too, but I wanted to share with you pictures of our local creeks...

April 19, 2011

Welcome to Our Woods


If you've never been to the Ozark Mountains, let me give you glimpse of what spring time looks like around here.  Everywhere you look, the dogwoods are blooming.  This picture was taken as we walked across the pond bank.  They grow wild across the landscape and their lacy appearance as they cascade to the ground is breathtaking.     

April 14, 2011

Spring in the Ozark Mountains


There is nothing like living in the Ozark Mountains during Spring!  The environment is rich with so many native plants and trees all year round, especially ones that provide food, but spring is a wild flower and native flowering trees spectacular!  All through our woods are wild growing Dogwood and Redbud trees that signal winters demise and springs arrival.



We spent the day making a new herb bed.  I got some Stevia plants and let me tell you.....the leaves are too sweet to eat.  Its kind of odd to pick a leaf from one of these plants and have it taste like a spoon full of sugar

March 23, 2011

Where Does the Time Go?


It's almost the end of March and it seems like February was just yesterday!  Spring seems to come on SO fast, I can't figure out where all of our time goes.  Each morning my husband kindly asks what my day is looking like, and as I think about what still needs to be done, I get very overwhelmed.  Each day seems to be filled with at least two weeks worth of work.

In the greenhouse, there are literally hundreds of tomato and pepper plants that are calling to be re potted, thousands of seeds that need to be sown, and shelves that need to be built...

March 02, 2011

The Promise of Spring


This is what we woke up to!  We started our tomato and pepper seeds in an egg incubator......exactly seven days later.......they sprouted!  Tomato and pepper seeds need between 75 and 85 degrees to sprout and I've never been able to get them to sprout this early before, so I'm very excited.  

February 26, 2011

Puppies, Puppies and more Puppies


Is there life after a litter of puppies?  It is unbelievable how consuming a litter of shepherd puppies are!  At first these little critters are small enough to hold in your hand and you carefully watch over them and Mama to make sure they each get their fill of milk, they are each warm and clean enough and that they are all as healthy as can be.  Even before their eyes open, they begin to make the cutest growling and sometimes little barking noises.  Pretty soon their little eyes begin to open and they struggle to try to focus on your face or the outline of your body.  Their ears open up and they begin to hear you coming and they gather together, tails wagging, waiting for you to love them.

After a few weeks they begin to follow you everywhere, you have to soon jog to stay in front of them or they will get under your feet.  They tackle each other, they tackle your plants, they wrestle in the leaves, they chase after Mama, they chase after you.......and then.....they wear themselves out and gather at your feet for a nap.

You worry about the families that will take each of these precious little pups home and during this whole process you are like a new mother, listening for every little sound and even listening to the silence, wondering if you need to check on them again even though it's only been 15 minutes since you checked on them before.

And so is life at our home these days....consumed with these precious lives that the Lord has blessed us with.  We get so attached, they are like our furry little children.  We wonder what they will grow up to be, who they will grow to love and protect, where they will sleep each night, and this is why we worry......and pray.

But the Lord is good, every puppy we have ever placed has filled a void in someone's heart.  We are rewarded with emails and pictures and gratefulness, we smile and laugh at the tales of joy and amusement that their new families relate to us....and in many ways we all become one united Shepherd family.  We have made some wonderful friends through this journey over the years and to all of you, I thank you!

To see more pictures of this litter click on the Shannons Shepherds button in the right sidebar. 



February 24, 2011

Feeding Time


One thing about living on a farm, no matter the weather, livestock has got to be fed.  Good thing is that most of the time, they make it fun.  It never fails, we will struggle with putting on our muck boots, bundle up in two to three layers of clothes plus coat, hat and gloves, and brave the winter winds and not always have a cheerful heart about doing so, but when they see us coming, their behavior and personalities will always bring a smile.  They continue to remind us why we love our animals, how grateful we are to God for His blessings and with more spring in our step we make our way back to warmth of the fire in the ole' homestead.


How one testy mare puts up with all of the cows and their horns.....well she still isn't sure she's crazy about it, but ever since the heifer was born, she gets to play Mama.  They are inseparable.  She'll come running for her grain and there a runnin' behind her is the little heifer.  Actually the little heifer is almost full grown, but she stays close to her Horsey Mama. 


 These are Scottish Highlands and they have got to be the hardiest cows alive.  Fool proof.  Believe me, if we haven't had any problems with them, they are fool proof!  We didn't know the first things about having cows when we got these and they are a dream.  They withstand winters very well, they don't have the issues that most cows can have and they will clean out the brush if you let them.

Well the snow is gone, although I'm sure we will see at least one more good round of it before spring comes on strong.  Our family made it through the whole winter without getting sick......until now, so here we sit, snuggled under blankets in front of the fire enjoying some Good Earth tea and relaxing.  We don't mind a small cold, sometimes it gives us a reason to slow down, let the world pass by and quietly watch it.

It's been raining and thundering most of the day and the birds have been crowded around the feeders in expectation of the falling temperatures I suppose.  Speaking of birds.....who else likes bird watching?  We sometimes participate in the National Bird Count, ever done that?  It's a great way to involve children and get them interested in wildlife.  Some of our most fun home schooling lessons have to do with nature and nature's lessons.  We have gotten some great help from our local conservation center.  They will send out some really neat packets to classrooms and homeschoolers, free of charge!

Well I'd better get out from underneath this blanket and fix some supper because it's getting close to our own feeding time!

February 15, 2011

Hamburger Stew


This is the MOST simple and delicious meal our family enjoys and I hope you will like it too!
I always double this recipe to serve for lunch the next day.  This is also a great recipe to make in large quantities for canning purposes.  

Hamburger Stew 

1 1/2 pounds ground beef                                     

1 diced onion

1 cup diced carrots  

 1 cup diced celery
( I slice the carrots and celery up pretty thick since I like chunky vegetables in our stew. )

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth (or a half a quart of your own homemade)

1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes (or a half a quart of your own homegrown)

2 Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (does not make it spicy, add more if you like spicy)

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup flour

In a large saucepan , or soup kettle, use a small dab of butter or olive oil and melt it.  Add your onion and garlic and saute them until they begin to soften.  Add your hamburger meat, carrots and celery.  Cook over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink and the vegetables are tender; then drain the grease.



Stir in broth, tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and hot pepper sauce.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes.



In a small saucepan, melt butter.  Stir in flour until smooth.  Cook and stir for about 4 minutes until golden brown.  Add it to your stew, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every once in a while.  This will thicken the stew. 

Serve it up in a soup bowl and add a thick slice of fresh homemade bread......MMMMmmmmmm GOOD!!


Be sure and let me know how you like it!!


You can find me linked up at:  Homestead RevivalNourishing TreasuresGrowing HomeFar Above RubiesRaising ArrowsSkip to my LouPenniless Parenting, Titus 2sdaysRaising HomemakersFrugally SustainableWomen Living Well, Raising Mighty ArrowsDeep Roots at HomeFingerprints on the FridgeFarm Friend FridayLife as MomFarmgirl FridayWe Are THAT FamilyThe Shabby Nest

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