Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Afternoon

Sorry no pictures today. I am too lazy to go take any.
It has been a absolutely beautiful day here. We got some things accomplished and just didn't get others done. The rototiller wouldn't start and stay going no matter what Phil did to it. He did, however, get a tune up done on my car and it runs so nice now. If you didn't drive it all the time you probably wouldn't notice but I could tell it was better.
I did plant the 2 new raspberry plants I bought the other day so now I have 4 raspberries and when we were in town we had to stop at TSC for a spark plug for the tiller and I got the last peach tree and planted it when I got home. I have had a peach tree here before that lived two years and died so hopefully this one will do better. I hope to look it up and see how I can do better taking care of it too.
More quail are hatching so I did the brooder shuffle today. Took the three (half grown) bantam chicks outside to a cage with light out there, cleaned out the cat box brooder they had been in and moved the quail into that, then cleaned out their little brooder so that it would be ready for the new chicks. So far there is just one hatched and two more trying to hatch. I have bantam eggs in there too, not sure how that will work out if they hatch, will have to see.
Went and visited with my neighbor/good friend and that has been the extent of the day.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Today's Work Before Work

These first two are all Fer's fault and his lovely post on planting grapes in containers. I made a special stop this morning just to pick up one Thompson's Seedless and one Concord Seedless grape. I have been looking for something to do with these pots. I do have two grapes growing in the ground (a Concord and a muscadine) but they have never produced more than a few grapes so the pots seemed like a great alternative to me.
Also since I happened to be at the plants, I picked up another blueberry plant this one called Legacy and got it planted this morning.

I then proceeded to fix out back porch. Our back porch really isn't a porch, more like a landing with steps. It is a landing that I fell through quite a while ago.  That's is what happens when you don't fix a porch when it starts to get soft on one side. I have been going out back by creeping across the two boards on one side that are left and I don't like it. I can hit a nail as good as anyone and apparently Phil has forgotten how. It took about an hour and I wouldn't exactly jump up and down on the porch  now but it is definitely better than it was.
I then did the animals (7 duck eggs today, 2 pheasant eggs and several bantam eggs) and went back inside to the indoor work. What to have for supper? Here is what I came up with:
There's a beef roast in that crock pot with some onions(on sale $.99 bag: this was only one there were 3 in the bag), peppers(on sale $1.49; three in the bag, this is only two of them), mushrooms(just a good price), a little smoked ham for flavor(leftover from supper the night before last) and some salt and papper.
I then noticed the zucchini still sitting on the table and had to dehydrate the rest of the mushrooms so just did them both to fill the dehydrator.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Berry Garden

Today turned out to be a planting day because the stores had some good plants for me to buy. I decided that the upper garden would just be a berry garden. Strawberries in the lower tier and raspberries and blueberries in the upper tier. I have never had luck with raspberries here but I do keep trying. I am afraid that they don't get cold enough in the winter but maybe this year will be the year that they make it through. I got the "fall gold" in the picture and a "heritage" red variety.
The blueberries I bought were both. "jersey" varieties. These also got a bag of peat moss.
They came in these nice Eco pots that were made from recycled "post-consumer waste paper" (humm?), "A carbon-neutral material, with no eco-impact and no carbon footprint", "Stock is made with 100% renewable wind energy", and "100% biodegradable". Just can't get better than that now can you. You were supposed to just bury the whole pot but I took it off the blueberries as you could tell that they had soil up past where they should have had it on the stem.
I also got some bare root strawberries. I got 10 everbearing "Ozark Beauty" and 10 junebearing "Honeoye". Well, I was supposed to get 10 of the junebearing ones but the box was short two of them. Oh well, I probably had more than I need anyway.
So now they are all planted along with a blueberry bush that I hadn't killed last year that I had in the lower garden. It may have room for one more blueberry bush, lol, maybe I'll stop back by the store tomorrow. ...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Let's Transplant the Tomatoes

As you know my tomato plants had gotten way too tall so I went looking for some tall pots to transplant them into. Well, there wasn't any. So I thought, maybe I can make some tall newspaper pots but I just don't have any newspaper and didn't think tall ones would stay together as well. But as you walk out of the garden center at Wal-mart, you come past the kitchen center and there they were...
Nice, tall ,plastic, cheap (4 for a dollar) "pots". ...AND there was a bonus!
This won't mean anything to you who are outside the US but it means something to me. It means I was supporting someones job in the USA!  It should mean something to everyone here these days.
So I poked holes in the bottoms of them, put in the plant and added more soil all the way up the stems.

Kind of a droopy picture but they are perking up nicely. 


This is what I get for not paying attention to when I put eggs in the incubator. I woke up to find 5 quail chicks. Then I had to scrounge around and put together a make-shift brooder because the other one still have the 3 chicks in it. There are actually 7 quail chicks (out of 10 egg that were sent from Washington state. (That is REAL good considering the person who sent them packaged so poorly that 7 eggs broke!) however, two of them had to have help hatching and don't look as good as the others. There are still some quail eggs in there that should hatch in ....oh I don't know how many days, lol.


I don't know why I continue to try to make strawberry jam. It is just a thing with me. We used to get a pectin that WORKED, now all that is in the store is Sure Jell and it hasn't worked for me but this time it might not have been the Sure Jell's fault. I ran out of gas in the process of making strawberry jam and had to finish off on the hot plate and it has only been a couple hours but I have learned that if it looks like syrup after a couple hours, it IS syrup. My daughter and daughter-in-law who live with me are as pleased as can be and have already opened the half jar to make strawberry milk. They say they never would have used the jam like they would the syrup anyway. So why do I keep trying? Because I want to win this one. I had no trouble making jam when I first started making jam. I want to know why I can't make it now!
So anyway here is how you screw up strawberry jam.
You hull the stawberries, which for me means that you basically dig the tip of your knife in and cut around the green top. You then slice the berry(makes it easier to mash). Then you crush the berries. Just use a potato masher, I don't like homemade "jam" that looks like it has been processed so don't worry if it is chunky. There should be 5 cups of mashed strawberries. Add the Sure Jell and stir it in good.

Then you heat it up to boiling(according to the directions on the Sure Jell), then you add 7 cups of sugar and stir it until you know that it is mixed in good (you won't have that gritty feeling anymore). Heat it to a rolling boil; boil one minute. Remove from heat and put in jars. Process in a boiling water bath 15 minutes.

I suppose that I could have just told you that it jelled great and tasted wonderful (I see that often on the Internet) but I just don't see where the learning would be in that. It has been almost 4 hours now (yes I have heard it can take a couple days but I do know better. Never had one that was actually going to jell take a couple days) so we likely have syrup.
I am rather pleased myself except that I didn't win the jam war I am playing with myself yet.

Friday, February 18, 2011

February 18

You ever get the feeling that God might think you've been too lazy lately. These were in the back yard this morning. Not sure why we didn't wake up when they fell but glad I wasn't in the back yard when they did. Anyway, today started out with pulling huge branches out of the back yard and into the woods.
Then it was on to the duck pen. Yes that is a splash Polish rooster in there. They left me 3 eggs today.
Then on to feed and clean the waterer in the pheasant pen. She left an egg which was fed again to Eggy the cat (in the first picture).
Then on to the pyncheon pen. These are mean little roosters in here.

Then to the Japanese pens. In this picture are the mille fleur Japs. I could not get a decent picture of the black tailed white Japs because they are terrified of the camera and just keep moving back and forth in the pen.

Then to check the seedlings in the raised bed. Look closely. They're there. Well, if nothing else you can see the onions on the end.
Then down to the big garden to pull up the cauliflower plants (took them up to the duck and chicken pens), clean up the garden a bit and spread 6 -40 lb bags of manure. Here is the nicest cabbage plant. They are looking so good that I may rototill around them and just let them grow a bit more.

The Seedlings

Here you go. This is what the seedlings look like now. I have to say, they are a lot larger than I have ever had them be at this point and I have always started them at the beginning of January, but usually I start them in the greenhouse where it is cooler and they are in the house this time so that may be why they have gotten so big so fast.  It could also be the potting mix I used this time which had fertilizer in it and some kind of moisture beads(I don't know what they are called and the bag is out in the greenhouse).  In this picture are tomatoes and there are a few kale in there as well.

Here is basil, marjoram which you can't really see there in the middle and marigold seedlings (Geez, they look dry don't they? Time to water!). I didn't get a picture of the two pepper seedling but they are just now getting their second leaves.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Today's Casserole--Sausage Thow it Together Casserole

I had some sausage which I browned with some onions.
I had about three-fourths of a bag of egg noodle left after using some of them in chicken soup yesterday. I also had the cauliflower that I harvested today and some of the dried mushrooms.

Lastly I had a jar of pork gravy. I don't usually buy gravy in a jar but there was a coupon for a dollar off the gravy on the sausage so I went ahead and got it.
The only other thing I used in this was salt and  pepper.

This Weeks Harvest

Yeah I know. Amazing! She actually grew something! These little heads which were left in the garden way too long (because I hoped they would get bigger) were today's harvest. They may not seem impressive to some but since I have never had anything grow in my fall garden, I am pretty impressed.
There were also more eggs than two duck eggs. There are bantam eggs out there but I have left them in the nest in the hopes that some of the bantam hens will go broody and hatch some chicks themselves instead of me having to have the incubator running all summer; and there was a pheasant egg which I always give to one of the cats who comes begging every day for an egg.
In other gardening news: the tomato plants on the windowsill have grown way too big and need to be transplanted into deeper pots which I can't seem to find. Two of the pepper seeds sprouted and that is it for peppers so far. the basil sprouted and some new marigold seeds sprouted.
Outside in the raised bed the spinach, lettuce and radishes have all sprouted and seem to be loving our nice weather lately but the peas have yet to make an appearance; it is possible those seeds were too old and I need to replant.
My plan is to get Phil to rototill the larger, lower garden this weekend now that I have cut the cauliflower or to at least start the rototiller for me so I can do it myself (--what usually happens).
So that is all my gardening news so far. Will take more pictures when I get the chance.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sometimes it's just repetitive

I tend to only write on my blog when I am trying to teach how to do or make something but a lot of being self sufficient is repetitive. Yogurt has to be made every couple of weeks (this past weekend actually) but I don't tell about it because I already have a post on making yogurt and the process hasn't changed. Every couple of weeks I find mushrooms marked down and they go in the dehydrator (this weekend I have 4 packages to dry). White bread is made from time to time,though I haven't made any lately and need to. Pigs ears are made for the dog almost every week but the process is the same. I have delved into making my own soda but so far have not been impressed with the results enough to want to post about it.  If I ever get a decent soda out of it, you all will hear from me. I'll also be adding the English muffins to my repetoir of things that I do every couple of weeks--if and when I find the time to make them.
 I did plant  asparagus the other day but it didn't seem to require a post on it. Basically I had a small raised bed (one that I hadn't shown in my gardening post because it wasn't quite finished) that I added manure to, dug holes and planted the asparagus roots. I don't do any trenching and slowly covering of asparagus like you read about because I have planted it before and found it unnecessary.Onions were planted in the upper garden but onions bulbs are pretty simple to plant. I did not go with sets but some small onions that I found in the store (I like to experiment). Old marigold seeds that never sprouted were replanted with fresh seeds indoors and all came up. Marigold seeds apparently can't live three of four years in my seed drawer. Neither can sage, parsley and thyme but marjoram seed is viable much longer because it sprouted just fine.
The new chicks are just fine and growing well. I have not had any more hatch but there is a new batch of bantam and quail eggs in the incubator. If they hatch there will be a blog post on that.
I have heard a lot of "gloom and doom" predictions on how high food prices are going to go. I'm kind of a believe it when I see it girl. I don't know how many years I have heard the same stories; "Crops have failed! Prices are going to go sky high!"; never seems to happen. So far sugar has gone up 20 cents here. I am pretty well stocked up on sugar but I don't think that 20 cents is going to break me anyway. Milk prices went down 11 cents this week though. I guess the cows are still eating good enough anyway. I keep whatever is on sale stocked up whenever possible as anyone can see if they want to visit the forum ( )and my "This Week's Storage" posts.

I don't know why I have the urge to do these things. Other women don't do all this stuff, they buy stuff at the store and seem just as happy but when I buy things I am always putting something back saying to myself, "I already have everything I would need to make those at home--I just have to make the time." "Why should I buy that expensive fitted sheet that will only half stay on the bed? I have plenty of fabric and elastic at home." "I could buy that now but the thrift store will have one much cheaper eventually."

or maybe...

"I can crochet one of those expensive dog sweaters up in no time."   LOL

(Ok, so he has never been real impressed with his sweaters but they do keep him warm in the winters and he gets a lot of attention when he wears the flag one if anyone happens to see him on our little dirt road. )

Monday, February 7, 2011

Homemade Ketchup

2- 12 oz cans tomato paste
2 cups corn syrup
2 cups white vinegar
1 cup water
4 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in large pan. Stir with a whisk to mix it all together. Bring to a boil.
Turn heat down to low and simmer 20 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Put into jars and boiling water bath 15 minutes.

Makes about 3 1/2 pints. There is probably no way this would ever be cheaper than buying ketchup in the store but you could cut down on the cost if you made your own onion and garlic powder and used your own tomato paste (I am sure you could use tomato sauce but it would take a lot more boiling time.). This does taste exactly like store bought ketchup.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

English Muffins

This recipe was definitely a "keeper".  I had never tried to make English muffins but lately we seem to buy a lot of them and if I can make them, of course, it would be cheaper and better. I did a search and used this recipe:
Here is the dough as it rose the second time. I really think that you should leave it to rise a bit longer than 45 minutes the second time because my griddle could only do 6 at a time and the first 6 were really uneven in their thickness but the second and third batch were wider and more even in thickness--could just be my dough rolling ability though.

Here the first batch is cooking:

And here they are when they are all done:
It made 16 English muffins in all and though they do not have the big holes in them like store bought English muffins we thought they tasted better and toasted up crisper. I would definitely make them again.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Chick Number 3

Our third chick was in the incubator this morning. This one is a black tailed-white Japanese. All of these chicks are bantams, by the way. Bantams are all I have left after the raccoon. I do have some standard sized roosters but no hens.