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,


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