December 16, 2012

A Simple Christmas


It is that peaceful time of year again.

Yes, Christmas ... peaceful.

Time to enjoy the peaceful rest of the winter season as nature does.

Time to enjoy and treasure family and friends.

December 14, 2012

Homemaker's Organizer Giveaway


I just had to share with you, who may not have seen this yet, that there is a giveaway going on for this incredible Homemaker's Organizer!

It could also be called a Homesteader's or Gardener's Organizer too because it contains some extremely helpful pages on garden layout, canning inventory, freezer inventory, harvest and preservation records etc.  

November 20, 2012

Healing our Highland




It is finally time to share with you our journey in healing our Scottish Highland calf.  The struggles and sadness have been great, and on most days we have fought to continue, but hard work is never a waste of time.  We decided that if nothing else, if the end result was terrible, we would at least have learned from it.  Little did we know we faced pneumonia, dehydration, paralysis and a lot of rehabilitation for this little calf.  
Warning:  picture below may be disturbing.

September 03, 2012

Fixing Crooked Toes on Poultry




Before I tell you how to fix crooked toes, I have to tell you our egg story.

We have one guinea.  We have had only one guinea for a few years and she is the ugly duckling of the chicken coop, but she is the BEST when it comes to eating bugs and not destroying our garden.

Because of that fact, I decided to get some more guineas.  The first place I looked was on the ever famous Craigslist.  There were several for sale, but too far away to be worth making the drive.  I then began to search for guinea eggs.  We have hatched out many chickens and a few geese, so how hard could it be to hatch out guineas?  My conclusion of this was my first mistake.

August 06, 2012

Sweet Pepper Salsa Relish




One of my dear friends introduced this basic recipe to me a few years back.  She moved to the Ozarks from the great state of Texas and brought this recipe with her.  From what I hear ... there is a nice restaurant down there that people rave about called the Blue Mesa Grill.  They specialize in Southwestern cuisine.  I'm not exactly sure how my friend got her hands on their Blue Mesa Jalapeno Relish recipe, but I'm telling you, it's absolutely scrumptious!  You can eat it by itself, slather it on hamburgers or any sandwich you please.  We eat it over meatloaf and roast too.  If you sliced everything small enough, it would be great on crackers.

July 24, 2012

Amish Tomato Ketchup



I finally did it!  Ketchup is something I've never done before, but over the winter, each time I had to buy ketchup, I cringed and vowed to make it for ourselves this year.

Our tomatoes are slowly rolling in, but I didn't have near enough to make ketchup with, so I headed to Amish country for the homegrown tomatoes I needed.  

There are so many recipes out there and I couldn't decide which one to try.  This recipe is an old Amish recipe from my Farmhouse cookbook.  It states that it is a sweet ketchup, sweeter than store bought.

July 19, 2012

Canning Corn on the Cob


In all fairness, I have to say that canning corn hasn't been the easiest thing I've canned, but it will be MORE than worth it when the wind is howling and the snow is falling this winter.

I hope I don't scare you off by saying that because it really isn't a big deal to do.

Tip #1 - First of all, make sure you know where the corn has come from.  If you buy it from a roadside or farmers market stand beware.  Be sure and know what type of corn it is.  Corn is one of the biggest crops that has been genetically modified and you don't want to feed it to your family.  

July 12, 2012

Canning Peaches



It's finally peach season again!  Beautiful, glorious peaches!

Last year, we had a huge shortage of peaches and we got very few put away in the freezer.  This year, the Lord has blessed us beyond words with the amount of peaches there are available.  

I'm not an expert on peaches, I didn't know one variety from the other until this season.  Now I am very familiar with Redhavens and I can tell you that these are the best that I have ever worked with.  They are extremely easy to peel and pit.

In the previous years, the easiest thing I found to preserve peaches was to peel and slice them and then plop them into freezer bags.  Easy, right?  Yes it is, however, since we are raising our own beef, or freezer space is extremely valuable and I've had a hankering (yes that's a word here in the Ozarks) to be able to open a jar of sweet peaches for dinner this winter.

So here's what I did.  It's ALMOST as easy as the freezer method.

Peel, pit and slice your peaches into your clean quart jars.  Fill your jars with peach slices about 2/3 of the way full.  Add 1/3 cup of sugar to each jar.  You may want it less sweet, but I went with 1/3 cup of sugar this year.  Finishing filling your jars just to the shoulders with sliced peaches.  Every once in a while, tap your jars on the counter gently to adjust the peaches on down.  Then fill your jars with water about up to the neck of the jar.  Wipe the rims and put on your lids.  Process them in a hot water bath for about 20 minutes and your done!  Disclaimer:  The Ball Canning book states to cook them for 30 minutes.  They tend to turn to mush if you do.  Here is another article on canning PEACHES where I got this method from.

Here is my result, the picture isn't that great, but it'll give you the idea....


After you finish enjoying a jar of these peaches, be sure to save the juice/syrup for delicious smoothies!

If you find yourself with a large surplus of peaches that are beginning to get soft and you can't get to them right away, a dear friend of mine told me her method of saving them.  Bag up the peaches and put them in the freezer.  Later when you have time, let them thaw just a bit and rub off the peels.  Then pit the peaches and put them in your blender.  Puree them and pour them into ice cube trays to use for smoothies later!  YUM!

For those of you who have been asking me where I've been, I apologize for being so scarce these days. Our area has had a terrible heat wave and drought.  Between keeping everything watered and general work here on the homestead, I've barely had time to get on this electric box.  Thankfully we've had a bit of rain this week.  Prayers for rain in our area would be much appreciated!

Next in line for the season will be different recipes for canning and preserving tomatoes.  They are just beginning to roll in, and I'll be sure to share those recipes with you too.

Until then, may you and your family be blessed and Happy Canning!

Also be sure to see how to can PEACH BUTTER and SPICED PEACH BUTTER!



June 26, 2012

June on the Homestead


I don't know about where you are, but it has been HOT here.  Missouri hasn't seen 100° temps here in June since the 1950's.  We start early in the morning getting everything soaked down, critters fed and fully supplied with cold, fresh water and then hightail it into the house before noon if possible.  With temps like these though, the critters have to be checked on all afternoon to be sure none of them are suffering from the heat.  Yesterday we even put fans on the chickens it was so bad, not sure what the humidity was, but it was high.

Here are some odds and ends of what we attended to this morning:

Grape Tomatoes

Cucumber and Green Bean Patch
(Straight Eight and Dasher Cucumbers and Strike Green Beans)

Jalapenos

Thai Peppers
(Cute little plants, but I'm not sure what to use them for)

Orange Bell Peppers

Tabasco Peppers
(Not quite sure what I'll do with these either)

Winter Onions
(Walking Onions)

Zucchini
(Planted late in hopes of missing the squash bug cycle)

Roma Tomato Patch
(Two dozen plants left to grow willy nilly)

Kale for juicing!

One can never have too many Hollyhocks...

Our mystery melon...
(Any produce last year that wasn't consumed or preserved went to the chickens.  This spring I was delighted to find all kinds of mystery plants where our chicken tractor happened to be last fall.)

Big Beef Tomatoes
(Covered in Diatomaceous Earth for the Aphids)


This is your red flag.  Here is a perfect example of what to look for before the leaves on your tomatoes begin to disappear.  This is hornworm droppings.  If you watch carefully, you can spot this on your leaves and remove the worms before they devour your plant in two days.  Believe me, it doesn't take long at all!  Once you spot this, get down on your knees and look at the underneath of the leaves just above the droppings.  The big green worms should be easy to find!


See, there he is.  He was on the leaf just above his droppings.  (See the Aphids? Not as easy to get rid of as the worms.)  Feed these big, juicy worms to your chickens and they will love you for life.  Whatever you do, catch the worms early!

And last but not least, here is a fella that has never had his picture taken before:


This is our daughter's beloved rabbit, Pippen.  Her grandfather and her constructed this handy dandy pen for him which includes a back and sides that can be closed up or let down depending on the weather.  She absolutely fell in love with him at the pet store.  They told her he was a dwarf bunny and she spent $30 of her own money on him.  We soon discovered how clueless the local pet store people are when he grew into an almost full size rabbit that she could've gotten from our neighbors for $5.  Lesson learned but either way, she loves him and that's what counts.

I hope you are managing to stay cool today!  If you have any suggestions what I can do with those hot Thai peppers....please let me know!!

























June 25, 2012

Canning Blackberries


Having just barely gotten past our Blueberry season, the Blackberries are ripening!  These pictured here are the thornless and tame blackberries that are famous for getting bigger than your thumb.  We have gotten truly spoiled with this variety.  

A few weeks back, even before blueberry season was over, a dear friend of ours called to invite us to pick his wild blackberries on his homestead.  I've never seen so many wild blackberries!  There must've been acres of them.  You could pick all week and not be able to tell you picked at all!  We did not hesitate to jump at the chance.  They are delicious!  I have to admit, they are more sweet than these tame ones pictured here.  The only problem with the wild ones is that we braved the thorns and the ticks and the chiggers.  For those of you in the northern territories, chiggers are nasty little critters that you will never forget if you get in a mess of them.  They'll turn your ankle so raw before you ever know what bit ya!

Needless to say, after two trips to the wild blackberry patch to get the most tastiest blackberries I've ever eaten, three nasty tick bites and one round of antibiotics, I think we'll stick to the tame blackberries growing right here on our own homestead.  However, I must say thank you to our dear friend who not only opened his fields to our family, but also fixed us an extremely delicious homegrown meal of grilled steak and chicken fajitas, before we braved the wilds.


My favorite thing to do with blackberries is to flash freeze them on a cookie sheet and then drop them into a labeled freezer bag for future smoothie use.  While looking for new blackberry smoothies recipes, I came across some yummy sounding ones I thought I'd share with you.  



Doesn't this one look delicious??  It is a Blackberry Banana Mint Smoothie from Eat Good 4 Life blog.  We grow all kinds of mint and I'm always excited to find a new recipe that I can use the mint in.  I'll be mixing this one up as soon as this post is finished.


Here is a simple but good Blackberry Banana Smoothie recipe from Taste of Home that only has 4 ingredients.  What an easy breakfast!


Cooking the blackberries down for canning blackberry jam, they look a little more like raspberries than blackberries.  Click the Blackberry Jam Recipe link for my EASY tried and true recipe that we make every year.


The recipe uses 7 quarts of blackberries.  You may not want to make that much at one time, so just figure 1 cup of sugar for every quart of blackberries.  You'll never go back to store bought jam!



Here is a little added bonus recipe, one that I found in searching for new canning recipes.  It is called Maple-Brown Sugar-Bourbon-Blackberries.  YUM!!  Anything that uses brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, and bourbon......count me in.  I do not usually use alcohol unless marinating meat with red wine, but this sounds really good and the alcohol will cook off.  You can find the complete recipe at Life Currents blog.

Now it's your turn!  Tell me what your favorite thing to do with blackberries is!  Leave me a link to your favorite post on blackberries.  

Later this week we will be heading to another friend's orchard to pick peaches.....I can't wait!  The thought of popping open a jar of fresh peaches at the dinner table this winter is pushing me to pick as many bushels as possible!  

Happy Canning!







June 12, 2012

Preserving Blueberries







Glorious Blueberries!!

Not only are Blueberries totally delicious, they are extremely healthy too.  Blueberries are known to have the highest antioxidant of all fresh fruit.  They are full of Anthocyanin, Vitamin C, B Complex, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Copper, Selenium, Zinc, and Iron.  In case you need more convincing, see the Top 10 Health Benefits of Blueberries on the Women's Fitness site.

May 24, 2012

Strawberry Preserves


REST

That is one of the best little words my weary mind and body can eagerly comprehend, especially at this time of year.  It seems after months of planning, preparing and planting the garden, I look ahead into the hot and sticky summer months and realize I've only just begun.

This week has been full of not only an abundance of garden work, but lots of work in the kitchen too.  We are just about done washing, hulling and preserving over twenty quarts of beautiful, luscious, juicy red strawberries.  

Is your mouth watering yet?

We have gone a bit strawberry crazy!

Trying to figure out what to do with all the strawberries even after making strawberry preserves and flash freezing several gallons, we turned to the ever trusty Pinterest for ideas.

First we made the strawberry preserves.



May 16, 2012

For My Ozark Neighbors


This is the time of year when all of the extra plants that can't find homes in my garden are available to everybody else.  Pictured above is a Millionaire tomato picked fresh from the garden last year.  To see how big the actual slices are, follow this LINK to the Plant List page and look under the Millionaire listing.

Also, you will see everything else that is available.  To place an order follow the directions on the Plant List page. 

You will find mainly Organic, Heirloom Tomatoes and Sweet Peppers, but I also have a few very nice, non-GMO tomatoes that are hybrid mainly for Farmer's Market purposes.  There are two special extras that are the Purple Coneflower and Chocolate Mint!

If you come back looking for this post and can't seem to find it, don't worry, I have placed a button for the Plant List in the top right sidebar.  

Happy Planting!!

May 01, 2012

Spring on the Homestead


Spring came early for us this year.  Sometimes it just seems early because of all the work involved, but this year, it just plain came early.  Every time I turned around, there was something I was behind on.  Ever feel that way?  

April 18, 2012

Growing Potatoes in Bags





Over the past several years, we have tried growing potatoes here in the Ozarks without much success.  Oh, we would get some potatoes, but they have never done very well.  If you know anything about the Ozarks, you well know what a pain it is to grow anything in this red clay.  This year, we are trying something completely different (for us).  I realize that this method has been out there for awhile, but it never occurred to me to actually try it.  Old habits die hard.

April 05, 2012

On the Hunt for Free Books?


Did you know that you can get a free reading app even without a Kindle or a Nook?

I sure didn't until now, or I would've been all over this months ago!

Recently, my dear husband got me a Kindle Fire and so I've been learning all about the best places to find free books, but you don't have to have one of these devices to get these freebies!  Simply click on this link: FREE APPS  to download a free reading app for your computer, then have fun with collecting all of the free books you can find!

March 22, 2012

Life On the Farm in March


Do you remember the our warm weather in January that led me to some winter planting by planting tomatoes in the milk jugs?  Well here they are ready to transplant.  Looks like I have my work cut out for me!  

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