Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Off Topic: Distinguished Honor Grad

My son, John, got Distinguished Honor Graduate (first in his class) at his AIT graduation today.
And a promotion to Private First Class.
And this was just him having some fun.
I am quite proud of him but not real surprised. I have some good kids and all of them have always done well in school and worked hard.  I am so glad that he has found something that he is good at and that he likes. I hope he will continue to like it when he so far away from us next week at Ft. Hood, Texas.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Peaches(strawberries) and Peach Honey

This is Georgia so we have to have a peach post on the blog. Here are the peaches.
This is about 14 lbs of peaches. I saved a few so used about 12 lbs. 
At the start I wanted just some canned peaches to eat with some homemade yogurt (which I have to make tomorrow) but then I remembered the 3 pints of strawberries I got for $ .99  each today so added in two of those. 
To start with you peel the peaches. I know you are supposed to put them in boiling water and then ice water but I have never found that to be a good way to do it. I never have enough ice and when I use that method the peaches are all slimy and hard to deal with afterwards. I just buy my peaches a bit under ripe and peel them like an apple. 
I saved the peelings because I found a recipe for peach honey that I wanted to try (this was an early picture, later there was a large pot of peelings). 
Cut the peaches in half and crack them off of the pit, if possible.

Then clean out the core, just like you would an apple. I put them in the pot and added some Ball Fruit Fresh to keep the color. Then added water and sugar. I added enough water to just cover them and enough 3 cups of sugar. (At this point I decided to use the strawberries so cleaned and took the tops off those and added them to the pot.).

I brought these to a boil and boiled about 5 minutes which made some of the strawberries a bit mushy but I am sure they wills still taste good. I put them in the jars, cleaned the rims and boiling water bathed them for 25 minutes.

Peach Honey

Now while this was going on there was another pot on the back of the stove with the peelings and water in them. I boiled the peelings until the juice turned a very pretty pinkish-red color.  I then strained it and put it back in the pan, added half the amount of sugar to juice which in the is case turned out to be 5 cups of sugar and brought it to a low boil and let it stay that way for quite a while. 

It was supposed to thicken. After an hour or so of no change I gave up and added the suggested amount of 2 tablespoons of pectin and then boiled it for a minute and then put it in jars. 

Hopefully it will thicken as it sets. Knowing my luck with these things, I will end up with peach jelly instead but that will be just as good anyway. The point is that I didn't waste the peelings. I also saved them when I drained them and will be giving them to the ducks when I feed them later.
Here are the end results.


Few things grow easily here in this red clay in Georgia. I have had some successes and a lot of failures. One of the successes has been the hazelnut bushes. I bought two bare root plants online 5 or 6 years ago (it may have been longer, I really don't remember) along with a lot of other bare root trees, most of which have died since then. For three or four years these were just cute little bushes beside the driveway, growing and spreading nicely. Then one year they produced their catkins for the first time. Hazelnuts produce thin, soft green cone like flowers in spring .  Hazelnuts do require cross pollination which is why I bought two of them in the first place. Hazelnuts are self-incompatible which means that like pollens will be incompatible and they cannot pollinate themselves. Hazelnuts are also deciduous and they require some cool weather in winter for them to break dormancy and produce flowers in the spring.  However they apparently don't need too cold a winter as we don't usually get below 20 F here in the winter. 
I have read that hazelnuts need a well drained soil but I can tell you now that this clay don't exactly drain real well and these two bushes are just thriving here. 
Hazelnut bushes grow by underground runners which can be cut and used to propagate more. I have not tried this myself since two bushes has been more than enough. 
Here are my hazelnuts forming now. They form in clusters of 4 or more nuts. 

Here you can see the hazelnut forming inside. 

When these are ripe they will turn brown and the hazelnut will fall out. Usually I pick them once they turn brown but have not yet fallen out. 
The hazelnuts I get from these are smaller than what you would get in the stores and are a bit harder to crack since they don't fit in a regular nut cracker. A bag and hammer usually will work just fine however.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Today's Harvest

Unfortunately the deer has eaten almost all the tomatoes and tomato plants, there are just a couple left that weren't on the fence but inside cages that it can't get to. That is where I got the beautiful yellow tomato from. I do have tomatoes in the raised bed out back they are growing well but aren't producing much and I think maybe the trees have caused it to be too shady back there now.  The deer also seems to like bell peppers but is not as fond of the jalapenos which is the only reason I have something else besides tomatoes to show in this picture. A lot of the little tomatoes cracked with our recent downpours as well- they'll still taste as good :)


Sometimes you just can't get a break. Went out after work to feed the chickens and this monster is in the cage with a pair of the mille fleur Japanese project birds. He had eaten the hens eggs and couldn't get out of the cage again, which was lucky for me because I got to wait until Phil got home so I could get some help taking care of this one. I did open the cage door and attempt to let the chickens out but he curled up to strike at me. We just plain kill them. Sorry if that bothers anyone. I know they are not poisonous. Maybe it doesn't bother other people to have 6 ft black snakes in their yard but it bothers me and snakes don't seem to forget; they'll come back for more eggs. And yes, it was 6 ft long; when Phil held it up it was as long as he is tall.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Let's do it all again

Another storm, another 20 hours without power. Just got it back on. It was 98 degrees today. It wasn't a real bad storm. No trees fell but we still lost power. I take it, they didn't fix it very good the last time. We still have no phone but somehow have Internet. Sitting next to the air and fan now, trying to finally get cool again.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Power Outage

We had a very nasty storm Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. When we heard a tree by the house crack Phil and I went running for the baby's room(the pines are very tall all around the house) but we only made it to the livingroom before we heard it hit the ground (cringing!). It took the power line with it and draped the line over Phil's car which, of course, was parked in the driveway behind mine. At the beginning of our dirt road several trees fell and took down all the lines including the phone lines.We also had a heck of a time getting my car out around Phil's and the power line laying across it yesterday so that we could go get something to drink and some ice to keep things cold. We were also good and hot and miserable yesterday and were mighty glad to see them get the power back on. We didn't get our power restored again until this morning (Friday) at 3:30 a.m.   (We were all awake even the baby. No one could sleep because it was so hot.).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Colony Part 3

We are about to start The Colony Part 3 on the forum. We are thinking we will change it some. This time we are going with some type of severe (apparently) solar storm whose geomagnetic storms would cause us to lose all satellite communications, electricity, phones etc. If you have any thoughts on this or would like to join in with our Colony posting please post on the "The Colony" board on the forum. We would love to have more "players" this time with more input.

I Knew It!

I told Phil that a few days ago after that first little rain storm we got that when I went down to the garden one of my tomato cages was knocked over and I was sure there was a deer track beside it. I don't think he believed it could have been a deer track but we see them all the time out here down the sides of the dirt road or in the mud down by the lake and I was sure it was one. The garden has a 4 ft. fence around but, of course, that isn't much of a deterrent to a deer..
Well last night when he let our little dachshund, Romie,  outside Romie ran away down the road after something. (It's a dirt road but still has cars so Phil went screaming after him, lol). Romie will do that for any type of animal in the yard though so we really didn't think anything about it.
Anyway, this morning Phil went out to go to work and came back in to tell me that he had seen a deer right there on the lawn by the garden. Mystery solved. We now know what is eating stuff in the garden. Now I just have to figure out what to do about it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Book Review


I don't usually get a new book. Usually I buy them used as they cost so much new but today I saw this one, told Phil I really liked it and he wouldn't let me put it back. I was just going to look for it other places where I could get it cheaper but he insisted and I'm glad he did. 
This book covers everything you could need to know about butchering your own domestic animals and processing them into usable cuts of meat. Domestic animal meats this book will tell you how to process include: beef, veal, sheep, goats, pork and poultry/fowl.  It also covers game animals as well such as bison, moose, elk, deer, and bighorn sheep. Smaller animals included are rabbits, raccoon, opossum, muskrat, snakes, turtles, frogs, squirrel and fish. 
There are excellent real pictures showing the butchering of each type of animal and the cutting up of the meat. I really think that no matter what you are butchering you could do a good job of it with this book. 
Plus at the end of each chapter there is at least one recipe for each different animal that they have shown you how to butcher.
There are also chapters on: Meat Curing and Smoking, Sausages, Building a Butchery Business and Meat Byproduct and Food Preservation. 
It really is the best book that I have seen on the subject which was why I wanted it so much and am recommending it to all of you.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

You Ever Have One of Those Days...

where there is a plan to get something done for the day and then one car doesn't start and the other starts but won't stay idling? It has been one of those Saturdays.
Now it isn't all bad. We took a trip to town (in my son's car) and got a 2 parts ($104) for my car and Phil put one on and it is running great (so we may take the other part back and get the $60 back for that one) and his car actually finally started (but it is iffy as to whether it is fixed or not-complicated-sometimes it runs and sometimes it doesn't, no warning). Anyway, my family (the men anyway) are all car mechanics (where we come from there is a class in school but my father was always a mechanic) and can usually fix what is broke (except on some of the newer cars). I don't know how people who don't know mechanics ever can afford to get their cars fixed.
So now Phil has moved on to trying to fix the lawnmower. The rope didn't just break, the spring sprung so not as easy as it seems. He is on his computer looking it up to see if he can find out how to fix it (computers can be a wonderful thing).
Fixing the porch, which was the original plan, has been put on hold as my brother has not got here with the wood. My brother had to fix his mother-in-laws car and I take it that one has turned into a longer job than he anticipated. Maybe the porch will have to be put on hold until tomorrow.
In other news, I have 5 new baby quail from a terrible hatch. It was terrible because a lot of them died in the shell and I think it is because I just couldn't manage to keep the humidity up in the incubator. I will have to make some changes there. Still, I do have 5 new baby quail.
Nothing else is going on here. We are struggling to keep cool and keep things watered although we did get an evening thunderstorm the other night. Already our dirt road is dry again but I am sure the garden benefited from the quick soaking it received. I haven't harvested anything in the garden. I could harvest the herbs but even they are looking sad in the heat so I think I will wait. There are tomatoes coming along but the peppers and squash just aren't setting fruit again this year. I really don't know why.  Last year I thought it was lack of pollination so pollinated myself but it didn't help. Anyway, maybe we will get something to produce eventually. I do know that the carrots are forming little carrots so if I can just keep enough water on them maybe we will get some this year.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Michelle said--

and I quote--"It is way better than store bought chicken, Mom."

(YEAH! And it was!)

"But you still probably shouldn't tell me where it came from."

We are having baked chicken strips tonight. I guess she doesn't realize that the last time we had chicken strips and the last 3 times we had thighs and legs they were from the back yard as well.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


These are pearl drops and red rambling stripe tomatoes. I can't really take credit for these as I bought them in hanging baskets. The hanging baskets were on sale for $4. For that I got the hanging basket with 4 tomato plants in each. They are producing quite well, not real remarkable in the flavor department (especially the yellow ones but I tend to find yellow tomatoes a bit tasteless), but I really like how well they have put up with my sporadic watering (in other words, they can wilt and still survive). I will have to look up a seed source for these next year so I can start  my own instead of buying them. I have tried several other varieties in hanging baskets before and all have produced but none quite this well.
The tomatoes in the garden are doing quite well too. If I can just keep whatever is eating them off of them. Right now my plant eater has moved on to the bell peppers, sigh.

More Butchering

Sorry no pictures again. I promise I will try to remember next time if the birds are anywhere near decently clean but these are Cornish X so I doubt it It is 10:20 in the morning I am laying on the bed with my foot on ice which hurts worse than stepping on the damn thing, my back hurts, my fingers feel numb, I am sipping a beer (medicinal?) and I have showered but I am sure I STILL SMELL BAD !


There are 5 more Cornish X butchered and in my frig. I have just 3 of them to go in that older pen and then in another week or two I can start on the 7 in the other pen.

I am going to relax a bit more, then get out and water the tomatoes hanging from the porch, take a look and see if the garden needs water (I'm sure it does) and then--if I can still limp around--get a bird house put up.

Later I am making a seafood boil. Not a thing in it that I produced myself. Oh well, next week we'll be eating our own chicken anyway.