Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Little Yard Work

I had a lot of ideas on what I wanted to get done today and none of it happened. Phil got out working on the yard and I got caught up in it. The bushes in the front have gotten right out of hand again and Phil cut them back so that the water meter can be seen again (the city of Thomson leaves me little notes if they can't see the water meter box). Then I mentioned how we needed to get that plum tree down that had died last fall. So Phil went to work cutting it down. I saved the bigger wood to chip up and use in the smoker unless I find something else I want to use it for. It sure did leave a big empty spot by the driveway.
Meanwhile I was doing some..less strenuous chores. I put new solar lights around the front flower garden and did a little weeding though you probably wouldn't be able to tell if I took a picture since I tend to leave weeds that I like such as clover and violets and the clover has really taken over this year. I also had some flowers to plant and couldn't figure out what to do with them. I saw a big pot out back and this is where they went. So there are chrysanthemums in the middle and petunias around them. 
I also planted some chives that I bought at the flea market for a dollar and some sage that I had started myself. I then went down and watered the garden. It take a while because I just turn on the spigot on the rain barrel and since the rain barrel is up the hill by the back shed gravity sends it down the hose to the garden and there is only about half as much pressure as a regular hose.
Phil also got the grass cut and a cut down a lot of the little trees that sprout everywhere. Did I mention that it was 94 degrees F. today? Yeah, just a little warm but everything does look so much better. 
Just an added note here, the pig was up today and walking around almost like normal. He stayed up most of the time and doesn't look nearly as stiff.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sometimes it rains more...

Both my sons will be off to Afghanistan this year. I'm not liking it one bit. My youngest tell me more people die in car accidents than in Afghanistan. I am not comforted one bit.


I just wanted to thank everyone who gave advice on the pig--good or bad, lol. The pig has been making progress these last few days and was up and moving fairly well this morning. He still has to sit and rest a lot but he is definitely getting better. No fresh pork for us for a few more months but I am pretty happy with that :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What Happened to the Plan?

Remember my garden plan?
Well....didn't happen, not really. A few things are in the right place. There are sunflowers and tomatoes in the first bed on the left though no corn. In the second bed there are tomatoes and peppers and the bottom bed had the garlic in it so long that it ended up with tomatoes and peppers on one side and beans on that other. The top two small beds...well, only one of those got built and it ended up with pink blueberries in it and one pepper plant (I couldn't find room for the pepper plant anywhere else). The middle bed got lettuce and radishes to start with and now has herbs and carrots in it. The bottom bed in the middle row has the potatoes. As for the long bed on the right. It did end up with squash but only one grew well so I bought a few more to put in the with it. It also ended up with the onions and some cucumbers which I just planted behind the squash.
The tomatoes are what I am the most impressed with this year. I grew heirlooms from seed, Tip Top, Taxi and San Marzano (all determinate) but then I needed a few more so bought some Celebrity. My plants didn't look nearly as good as the store bought ones until I put them out in the garden. It is hard for me to get a good picture to show you the size difference.
Well, there it is, I knew there had to be a catch to this upgrade. I had just purchased more storage space for photos for $5 a year, and they happily took my money and now they have changed the plan and I am suddenly OUT OF space AGAIN! OOOooo, that irritates me! Of course now there is a monthly fee! Not gonna happen, I can still use photobucket for free.
This is a picture of one of the store bought Celebrity tomatoes. It is barely up to the second ring on the tomato cage.

This is a picture of one of the heirloom tomatoes that I started myself. It is in a larger tomato cage and is at least 6 inches taller than the Celebrity tomato.
This one is a lot harder to see than I had hoped. That small tomato in front is the Celebrity. It only goes to the second ring, it looks like it is growing up to the third ring but that is the heirloom tomato behind it.
Not only are the heirlooms taller but they are much thicker in the stems as well plus all of the heirloom are blooming already. This is really kind of a surprise for me because I have grown LOTS of heirloom tomatoes and they have never done well at all until this year--got to be the raised bed :)

When it rains....

it, of course, pours. I am going schedule this to post this tomorrow since I already have two posts today but did want to let you all know about today. The first bad news is...

one of the pigs is down. He isn't all the way down. He just can't seem to get up on his back legs. I don't know if he hurt one or what. I cannot see anything wrong with his back legs (though they are hard to see since he keeps sitting on them) and he scoots over to the feeder and eats and drinks. He even still fights with the other one. I am hoping he is just a little lame and will be up again in a few days. Advice is welcome here.
It always amazes me how small they look in the pictures when I know how huge they really are. 

Also tonight I had to stop at the auto parts store to pick up some brakes for Phil's truck. I had heard them lightly squealing a few days ago. Apparently on this truck a very light squealing means to change them NOW!
The brakes went out on him in town and he drove it the rest of the way home without them tonight.
Then, as if that isn't enough, Phil went to walk down the steps to go put the brakes on and fell through the second step.
Luckily he did  not hurt himself (well it hurt but nothing was broken anyway).
The good news is (yes, there is some) that Phil managed to get the brakes on and the step fixed before dark. Now we just need that pig back up on his feet and all will be well.
I'll also leave this post with one last positive since I would rather not have a post of all bad things...
                                       ....the first tomato. This is in one of the hanging baskets on the porch.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Blog Reviews

I have a few blogs that I might not have mentioned before that I think are just wonderful. Some of them have very few followers and I feel like some of the people that like following this blog would be interested in following these as well,  so I thought I would just do a post on blogs I have recently found that I really like.

This first blog is my favorites lately. I Can Do It Myself... . Caribou is doing a lot of the things I am doing myself and several things that I still want to do. She has cured hams and is in the process of making Canadian bacon and raising bees. I truly enjoy reading her blog.

Meat is another wonderful blog that I really enjoy. Meat is about Bruce King's farm. He raises pigs mostly and I have learned a lot but he had a lot of other animals I have enjoyed learning about them as well.  He had a much bigger farm than I will ever have but I am still learning from him.

Sustainably Modern is another good blog that I find myself reading all the posts on. Their gardening almost corresponds with my gardening and I am picking up good ideas from them.

Homesteaddinginmomsworld is a wonderful blog where they are trying to set up a tank to grow fish in. I am so excited to read about their progress with this and hope they eventually get it to work for them so that I can try it myself.

These are just a few blogs that I wanted to put in the spotlight today. Others can be found on my blog list on the left.

Roll Call

Jenna at Cold Antler Farm did a roll call on the things she has on here farm and then I saw it as well at Saving the Big Money so I thought I would do one here as well. Yup, just copying them. At first it kind of felt like bragging but then I thought how hard it is to keep up with all the blogs I have and what things they have and are doing so maybe it isn't bragging but just another way to connect.

The animals are easier to do than the plants everyone listed. I have been here for years, not even sure I can remember everything that is planted here.

-2 people  one who works full time and one almost full time (35 hours a week)
-1 daughter- soon to be going to college
-2 dogs-protection but mostly companionship
-Approx 10 cats and assorted kittens (we have only seen two but one other mama has some somewhere)-I suppose rodent control but mostly companionship.
-2 pigs- meat
-10 meat chickens
-5 hens and 2 roosters- eggs
-11 ducks 1 duckling- eggs, possibly meat eventually
-1 pheasant- it is just there, pet- I suppose
-Approx 30-49 quail (never have counted)- meat, eggs
-10 bantam chickens--eggs, brooding

I'll take a stab at the food plants
-9 raised beds
-1 plum tree
-1 peach tree
-1 lemon tree
-1 pomegranate tree
-1 Chinese chestnut
-2 pecan trees
-2 hazelnut bushes
-2 blueberry bushes-none lived from last year
- Assorted brambles- blackberries and raspberries
-2 grape vines
-3 fig tress
-Strawberries- a few have lived
-1 quince (it has never been more than ornamental however)

That is pretty much all that I can think of besides I guess I have been lazy enough this morning. I have a really good sinus infection coming on and it allows me to wake up with migraines every morning just plain keeps me tired lately. You all have a great day. Hopefully this weekend I'll get more work done.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


My brother has rented a property in town that has two houses, and some outbuildings and the whole place has been empty for so long that it has almost been completely destroyed (he is redoing one of the houses). However, at one time, someone who owned it had put a whole lot of work into the yard. There are buried stepping stones everywhere, pots, birdbaths and statuary.  Today when we visited him, we went "pickin" in the yard. He wants to get rid of anything he can so was happy that I wanted some of it.
The first thing he gave me is this birdbath. I think it is lovely but this is its good side. It needs some work.
I then found this cast iron muffin tin on one of the porches. It is a little rusty but it isn't pitted so with some care and cleaning it might be alright.
I also got several terracotta pots. I have some petunias that may get planted in some of these if I ever get any time to do some more planting.
The absolute best thing I got, however, was this wood.  My brother was nice enough to cut it in half with his chainsaw.
I am hoping that one of these pieces is my future bread  bowl. Don't look for it to happen too fast though. I will have to work on it a bit at a time. I will keep you undated though.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Garlic Harvest

Wow, I am really not sure I like the new Blogger. Everything is just so light, I can't see the darn boxes and I can't find anything! I want my "dashboard" back!
 Anyway, I finally got down to the garden today for a minute and pulled the garlic. Unfortunately the batteries in the camera were dead so you got this phone picture instead but it will have to do. None of the garlic was real large but I am quite pleased with it since I bought just one large head of garlic at the store and think I paid $.71 for it and I got all this garlic in return. It is now drying in the greenhouse since it is a bit of an overcast day today. It smells wonderful...well, if you like the smell of garlic like I do.
Now where is that Publish button.....ah hah...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Southwest Salad

The day before yesterday, I had to go to town to run errands before work and forgot to bring a lunch. There are lots and lots of fast food places in town but I just don't eat at any fast food places so I just went into the store and got a salad. It wasn't just a plain salad and looked interesting. When I got to work and ate my salad it was WONDERFUL so I looked over the ingredients went back to the store that night and made my own. 

 Southwest Salad
 (this makes a very large salad)

1 head lettuce
1- 15 oz can corn, drained
1/2  a large bag of tortilla chips, broken up
1- 8 oz bag thinly shredded cheese (I used a Mexican 4 cheese blend)
cooked chicken--cut up or cubed. We used roasted chicken breast cubes.
Spicy Ranch Dressing (any brand will do)

I also had some cherry tomatoes which did not come with my salad from the store but I knew Phil would like them but Michelle forget to put them in as she was the one who had to make the salad since I was working. It is wonderful without them anyway. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Flea Market Find

I found this little oval cast iron skillet at the flea market on Saturday when we went. I really don't use cast iron a lot but this pan just appealed to me. It only cost me $4. It is quite shallow and looks rather large in this picture but it isn't. I believe it might cook two pancakes side by side but it would still be a tight squeeze. I don't know if the pan is old or new, seasoned or not. I like it though and believe I will actually use it. 
I also got a wooden bucket at the flea market. The bottom has a thin crack but I think it will still be pretty holding a plant. 
We only have a small flea market here but these days it is cheaper than the thrift store so we try to get to it at least every couple weeks.

Getting the Most from Your Garden

I picked this book up at the thrift store this weekend. I have to admit that I don't have that many gardening books mainly because I don't find them real useful. I don't know if it is just having too much information all in one book that causes me to not like them but I normally enjoy magazines a whole lot more. There has been a few exceptions, however. I believe this book with make it into that "exception" category for me. It is a big thick book, over 400 pages, but last night I sat and read 55 of those pages and I learned things.  
Funny that I actually like this book since it is written by the editors of Organic Gardening Magazine which I have never really liked. 
The book is all about raising vegetables in garden beds instead of rows and how to space out your plants to get the greatest harvest from the amount of space that you have. It even has some handy charts on vegetable spacing (that will not agree with your seed packets). 
I'll next be reading about setting up and starting a vegetable bed, growing and caring for that bed. There then are all the normal sections you would find in a gardening book; companion planting, herbs, starting seeds, transplanting, cold frames etc. 
After that there are several sections that break down the country by regions; West Coast, Pacific Northwest,  Southwest, South and Mid-Atlantic. 
I don't imagine I will read every single word of the book but I do believe I will find several more of the sections useful and interesting. If you are using raised beds or regular growing beds or are thinking about it,  you may find this book useful as well.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Duck Pallet House

Phil and I have been working on a new duck house today; well, mostly Phil. I did get to take the old one down myself but he did all the building of the new duck house. The pallets, of course don't come perfect. He had to take several slats off and turn the pallets around then add a full layer of slats on the one side. It is hard to explain but it took a bit more than the pig house because it had to be dog and raccoon secure.
I took a few pictures as he built.
The first three walls.
The front and door.
And the finished product, with hinged roof . 
The inside. 
The only thing that might be a problem is that I may have to get a stool so that I can reach in to get the eggs as the sides are a bit high. So far the ducks haven't tested it out but they will when they get used to it.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Banana Bloom!

I walked out on the porch and looked at the sad looking clump of banana trees by the porch a few minutes ago and mentioned how I needed to cut the dead leaves off of them.  This is not a normal spring chore. Normally in the spring I have to cut down the dead stalks so they can grow again but this year the stalks never died, just the leaves turned brown and I had been wondering if the banana trees might bloom this year but I never expected it to be so soon! One of the stalks has a bloom on it and little baby bananas!  It seems kind of stupid to be so excited about bananas on a banana tree that isn't edible but I have had these trees for years now and never gotten a bloom. 
At one time I was quite captivated by bananas and had several different varieties which I moved in and out of the greenhouse in the hopes of someday producing an actual banana but as the years went by and it never happened and as they took more and more of my time, the hobby got abandoned. This clump of banana trees are all that I have left.
My banana trees are Musa basjoo also known as Hardy Banana which is why this one was planted outside because I knew the roots could survive our winters. Over the years it has been steadily watered by the air conditioner in the window behind it and it has sent out several more stalks to become the clump that it is today. I had been thinking about separating some of the stalks this year but since they never died back, I didn't do it because I didn't want to have to transplant 10 foot stalks. 
I'm curious to see if any of the other stalks produce blooms as well. The bananas this bloom should produce lots of seeds, maybe I will plant a few....

Friday, April 13, 2012


You can tell it is spring. Half my posts are animal/baby related. Skip, one of the mama cats, brought in her two kittens today. She was very good at hiding them and they are at least 6 weeks old.
Skip is a very small cat so it is likely these two are all she had (that is not her in the background, that one is a male. Skip looks like the white and gray kitten.). They are terrified and hissing at everything but as you can see Michelle has made friends already.
Our outdoor cats always eventually bring their kittens to the porch when they want them to start eating on their own because that is where we feed all the cats. I'll probably buy some canned cat food to give them until they get a little bigger.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I started homeschooling Michelle at the beginning of 6th grade for a number of reasons, one being that the school system is not so bad here until the kids all get piled into middle school together and then it basically fails. Her father was quite opposed to her homeschooling but since her father had moved away at that point and stopped all support of his children, I saw no reason to let this deter us. There were a lot more reasons to homeschool. He, however, has continued to badger her through the years which has not exactly endeared him to her. 
Homeschooling here in Georgia is quite easy. You sign a paper at the beginning of the year that says you are going to homeschool and then you send in an attendance sheet every month. What you do and what you study is your own business and the state is not allowed to interfere. 
Michelle's homeschooling started out very well planned. We had certain subjects we knew we needed to cover. I got books from wherever I could and we did well. Michelle was easy to homeschool and through the years basically did a lot of it herself without prompting from me. Later on we were a lot less planned. I gave her the books she asked for and she did the work. 
Because she is homeschooled, she, of course doesn't get a diploma the only way to show she has a high school education is to take the GED test (General Education Developement). I felt she probably needed more studying before the test and we happen to have a GED class right where I work 2 days a week. So for 2 months Michelle has been taking the GED classes. She was tested first and passed everything except the math so that is what she has mostly been focusing on. She has studied hard and yesterday she took the test at the local college. The test cost $95 and ran from 7:30 a.m to 2:30 p.m. She was done by 12:30 p.m and calling me to come get her. We don't get the results until next Tuesday but she says she didn't have any trouble with any of it except some problems with the math computation which was her weak subject anyway. I have no fear that she passed but will be glad to see the results (and yes, we'll call her dad first!).
She does have plans to go on to school a that same college this fall. 
I have to admit it is a relief to me too because deciding to homeschool is a big step. You tend to fear the whole time that you might not do it well enough for your child to have a decent future (especially if you keep hearing that) but that just isn't the case.  I don't regret homeschooling her at all and want to say that if you believe homeschooling is best for you and your child you should definitely go ahead and give it a try.

Back Pain

I have hurt my back again. Doing the same thing as last time I hurt it. The ducks have a large metal pan for their water. I is at least 5 gallons. I fill it up, carry it to the pen, reach through the door and then swing it to the side. It is that swinging it to the side that is getting me. The duck water and food will have to be switched around since the food does not have to swing to the side like that. I mainly moved the water to the side it is on now because it was wetting the other pen but now that the pigs are in there, what little puddle the duck waterer makes is nothing compared to the mud holes the pigs can make.
My back is a good bit worse than last time. I am rather miserable. I can sit down but getting to that position is the hard part. Everything has to be leg muscles. No leaning! No lifting unless back is perfectly straight. Getting down to the floor is a nightmare.
And , of course, I don't really have any options. I HAVE to do all those things. The brooders are on the floor in the spare room. Have to get down to feed and water. 
Had to have the dehydrator today to dehydrate some mushrooms I finally found on sale. It was a larger packages and I surely wasn't going to let them go to waste. The dehydrator is in a bottom cupboard. Not to mention the mushroom package was on the bottom of the frig.
 Had to have the crock pot to  make supper (because I surely won't feel like cooking), had to lean over the table then lift it (yes, this causes screeching in pain). Had to cook up the mountain of quail eggs for the pigs,-- pan is on the bottom of the cupboard....sigh, I could go on but you get it. I was up for about an hour this morning and am exhausted now, laying on the heating/massager again (no turning on the massage setting-it hurts!). And yes, I have to get out and do the animals and then try to get a shower and go to work. It is going to be a LONG day.
At least I actually slept well. I can lay on my back and on one side (getting to that side is the hard part) without pain as long as I stay still. I  think I only moved once in the night.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

One Little Duck

The other two eggs did not hatch which is a real shame because I really hate to have a lone duck. They are quite social and I think they do better when there are at least two of them. This one had a hard time hatching as I could not seem to get the humidity up enough in the incubator. Apparently the spare room is quite dry. I'll have to look for a humidifier at the thrift store. Considering the rather large bump on the back of his head I would say this one will be crested. Several of my ducks are crested so that is not surprising. I am thinking about picking him up a couple friends at Tractor Supply. 
So I will answer the question now because I know it will come up. Will we be eating this duck? This duckling got stuck in his shell. He (or she) was stuck in it for two days before I helped him out (if you help too quickly you risk killing the chick). He then was so weak that I had to dip his beak in water and then lift his head myself, because he was even to weak for that, so that he could swallow. I kept going back and rubbing him to stimulate him and giving him little sips of water. I then had to go to work but called my daughter and reminded her to give him drinks of water. He could hold his head up by the time I got home and is now in his little brooder and actually can walk around in short, stumbling spurts. He peeps and gets all excited when I come in and speak to him in the brooder. So for those of you who think we who are trying to be self sufficient should be able to harden our hearts and eat any of our meat animals well I'm hear to tell you that it just doesn't happen that way. Unless this turns out to be the meanest, biting-est duck that ever lived. He is pretty well safe.

Monday, April 9, 2012


Not a thing about self sufficiency today. Today is just about flowers. I am not the perfect flower grower. I tend to just let my rose bushes grow and after a few years give them a prune. I knew this rosebush was going to do well by how many buds it had on it. I  love having flowers around the mailbox and can imagine how nice it is for the mail lady to pull up and see this every day. 
Right now only the red and pink ones are in bloom. I do  have a yellow one but it blooms really late. This rose is from the one in the front flower garden. I bought it marked down for $ .99  years ago and it was nothing but a few green twigs. The cashier looked at it and told me that I must have a really green thumb. I did nothing but plant it out in the front flower garden. There isn't even good dirt out there but it grew just fine and has lots of blooms every year. 

This is one of the hybrid tea rose bushes that was here when we moved here. I don't particularly like hybrid teas. They are great, I'm sure, if you want roses to cut but I can never cut them. I like to leave them on the plants and these make rather ugly bushes outside. They make such long stem with just a few roses.
I do have flowers besides roses but a lot of them have already bloomed and passed. I forget what these are called. I got these in a trade some time ago.
And last but not least, by far one of my favorite blooms..the tomato bloom. I found several of these on the tomatoes in the hanging baskets on the porch. It takes and awful long time to go from bloom to tomato though.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Pallet Pig House

Doesn't everyone build pig houses on Easter? Well, my pigs needed a new house and today was the day we had time enough to do it so they got one on Easter.
The pig house is made from three pallets and some board across the back. I will cover the top with a tarp later (it is not supposed to rain all week).
The pigs were all very interested in the process and about drove Phil crazy while he was in there trying to build. They liked to stand right in the way and refuse to move. Phil's screw gun, however really scared them and they would run around the pen slamming into things and each other while he was using it.
As soon as the house was done and the straw thrown in they both ran in, threw around straw and then laid down. It didn't last long though. Once up again they started fighting over the house.
I imagine they'll soon have it settled and be back to lounging soon.

I also got this picture. When I checked on the chicks this morning one was dead. I don't know what happened to it but to be on the safe side I moved mama and babies to their own cage. Here is one who decided to peep out. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Bantam Chicks

One of my bantam hens has hatched 8 little chicks. This is the best hatch I have had from a hen hatching them by herself. She may end up with more since there are still more eggs but I would doubt it. I will likely have to take them from her and move them to a cage or brooder as it is hard for a hen to keep them safe with all the cats we have. These are a mille fleur/ Japanese bantam mix. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Natural Home and Garden

I have gotten two of these magazines now but I won't be subscribing. I read through them again this evening trying to make sure I give an informative review because when I got the the first of these magazines I only read a few things in, set it aside and never picked it up again. I guess that pretty much explains how I feel about this magazine. I suppose it would be useful if you knew absolutely nothing about these topics or if you have a whole lot of money, to make the perfect house and yard but that isn't likely to happen here.
Let's take a look at the one in the picture.
The Healing Honey article was just so basic. It is information that I have seen over and over again, nothing new.
The 5 Ingredient Meals, only one would I consider a meal though I supposed if you were a vegetarian the polenta fries and zucchini salad might be fine.
A Healthier Home, I must admit that I only skimmed the article. The home they showed was almost entirely done in white. White curtains, rug, chairs etc. Really? Wood furniture was one of their sustainable ideas. Not wood that truly is sustainable like bamboo, that wasn't mentioned.
Renovation Inspiration. Where the heck was that? Let me look again..................oh here it is. Two pages on a kitchen that a concert pianist and husband had totally redone. They wanted it lighter so they did all the walls, ceiling and counter top in ....yup...white. 
23 Tips to Keep Food Fresher Longer. There were actually a couple of interesting tips like to rub butter on the cut parts of cheese to keep it from drying out...but a lot of it was common sense. (Keep apples where you can see them so they will be eaten faster....sigh).
There was also an article on remaking a backyard on a budget but apparently not my budget because if I could afford a couple of halved wine barrels I likely would plant in them instead of use them as end tables (though these were cute). Halved barrels are planters here and they are expensive. 
An article on decking. I didn't read it. I can't afford a deck. 
There's another article on a houseboat.
However, there were a couple of articles on gardening. One was a lovely perfect flower garden. I think that was the weed free article which dealt with mulch mostly. Another was on growing peppers which was extremely basic because there really isn't a lot to growing peppers anyway.
Ok, you are probably tired of reading this now.
I will say that the first magazine was actually more interesting. If you like buying 5 things to make one cleaning product you would have liked their recipes for cleaners. There was a good article (a little basic) on morel mushrooms. There was an article on rain barrels that might have been useful to someone who hasn't one. There was a lovely article on a very artsy home decorated with things like a branch staircase, and very rustic furnishings.
And there was an interesting article on a farm in Brooklyn.
I know it sounds like I hated this magazine and I really didn't but to me it was just okay. Not a magazine where I am going to find any great ideas that I can put into use like I often find in GRIT or less often Mother Earth News. It just wasn't quite up my alley.


Well, no, it's not lunchtime yet but what I am bringing to work for lunch was almost totally produced here.
Lettuce, green onions, snow peas and one little radish. Yes, of course, we are talking about salad here. The snow peas are from the back yard raised bed and the rest are from the lower garden raised beds. The peas are doing really well but this second set of radishes look like they are going to go to seed (as you can tell) before they ever make bulbs. The lettuce is not heading up but it could just be because I keep stealing their leaves. It really doesn't matter as they won't have time to make heads before we get too hot and they go to seed.
Here is the finished product with some eggs from the chickens (quail eggs are better but I just put a big batch in the incubator). I could have topped it off with some homemade ranch dressing but I won't tell you I did something just to look more self sufficient. I am completely addicted to Ken's Creamy Caesar and Roasted Garlic dressing (and I happen to have several bottles that I picked up on sale) so that is what went on this salad.
Breakfast, by the way, was the last few pieces of the lemon balm bread. I have a few other recipes for lemon balm that I want to try but I may have to make the bread again this weekend too. Just because I like it so much.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Harvest Monday

I actually harvested this yesterday.
Another batch of spinach. This spinach came from the raised bed in the back yard. The peas are trying to over run that bed but the spinach and kale are still fighting for a few spots.
The leaves in the front are the lemon balm that I picked to make bread with.
And here are the little heads of red cabbage. I finally picked them mainly because I needed to get the rest of the tomatoes and peppers planted and these were in the way. The tomatoes that I had planted outside were doing wonderful but the ones in the greenhouse weren't near as big.
And, of course, there are some quail, chicken and duck eggs.

Please join Daphne's Dandelions to share your harvest Monday or read about others.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sausages, Sausages

Lemon balm bread was not the only thing I made today. I also made two different recipes for breakfast sausages. This time I followed everyone's advice and cut the meat up early this morning and then set it and the parts to the grinder in the freezer. By the time Phil and I got done putting pallets on the back of the back shed to keep the dogs out, the meat was almost frozen and the first grind went so quickly. I was so excited that it was going to be so much easier this time. However it did not work for the second grind/stuff. I had put the ground meat back in the freezer to get cold again before trying to stuff the casings and it started off good but soon clogged, and clogged, and clogged, sigh. I did most of it as links and then gave up at the end and made patties. I also tied all the links again too since I still can't figure out any way to twist them without them coming untied.

I had about 8 lbs of meat. This is the first recipe. It is quite a bit spicier than the other recipe and I think we will like it quite a bit. It called for fresh herbs but since mine are still growing I cut the amount in half and used dried.

Breakfast Sausage (small batch)

2 1/1 lbs ground pork
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. dried ground sage
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

I just mixed this together in a bowl and after the meat was ground the first time I mixed it really well with the meat before stuffing the casings.

Breakfast Sausage #2

5-6 lbs ground pork
2 tablespoons salt
3/4 tsp. white pepper
3/4 tsp. ground sage
1 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp.  red chili pepper flakes

It may not look like much but that is one of my biggest bowls and it took hours to make that much sausage. My feet were definitely unhappy by the time I got done (should have had shoes on but I never wear them in the house). We'll have sausage for breakfast again anyway but I am seriously thinking that after these casings are gone, I might just make breakfast patties and only stuff the Italian sausage (because I absolutely love it!).

Lemon Balm Bread

So I looked up some lemon balm recipes and found one for bread. I believe I have tried this recipe before as I remember that it involves a glaze on it, which immediately makes me not want to try it again since I know it will be sticky (and I don't do sticky well). So I  made some adjustments.

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened (ours is already soft)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped lemon balm leaves
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
3 tsp. lemon juice

Cream together the butter, sugar and lemon balm. Add eggs and mix well. Add dry ingredients, milk and lemon juice. Mix well. Bake in a greased loaf pan at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

It was very, very good. It has a nice light lemony taste.  I would definitely make this again.