Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hog Damage

Those of you who follow my facebook page know that we have had a wild hog running around the neighborhood doing damage lately. Last week I let the dogs out in the dark and then realized they were out of the back yard, after taking a better look, I found this:

Since that is pallet wood, I knew we had a fairly large hog. Those boards don't break easy.
Since then every time I walk the dog I see the hog tracks but we hadn't gotten a look at the hog until today. I wish I had a camera then but we were out walking Juliet and Scooter. I had Scooter and we had just started our walk when the hog came out of our yard so I snatched him up and put some distance between us and the hog. I am pretty sure it was a big sow. I saw no tusks. It was a big red sow probably at least 250-300 lbs. She went on into the woods and didn't bother us.
The reason for the hogs coming up from the lake (we have a lot more rabbits too), is the cutting of the trees that I told you all about. We walked down there today to see it since they weren't working and Phil took some pictures.

It is a real shame. I had hoped they weren't clear cutting, but they are.
We looked up hog hunting here in GA and apparently we can kill it if it is on our own land. She has made a big wallow on the front lawn so her days may be numbered. It is not like she can go back down by the lake after they finish cutting all the trees.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Plum Sauce

I was talking with one of my co-workers last week about fruit trees and such and she happened to say something about if I ever knew someone who could use some plums to let her I did.

And she brought me all these beautiful plums yesterday. So today since I have a half a day off on Wednesdays now (they go to the field trips and THANKFULLY I don't have to go) I set about using most of them today. A quick look on the Internet this morning came up with plum sauce. Frankly, now that I have made it, I would have called it plum ketchup because that is what it tastes like only it is spicier.

In a large pan combine:

2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons mustard seed
1 tablespoon salt
2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
1 tablespoon ginger root chopped fine (I had to use dry as I had no fresh)
The next ingredient was supposed to be 2 tablespoons of finely chopped chili peppers but the stores didn't have any. I got these instead but can't remember the name of them.

Bring it all to a boil while stirring then add 10 cups pitted plums.

Bring it to a boil again and then turn it down to a simmer. Let simmer for an hour or so then use an immersion hand blender to turn it into sauce. Let simmer more until it thickens and is the consistency that you want. Mine went for another half hour/45 minutes.
I then water bath canned it for 20 minutes. It made just 3 1/2 pints so a good way to get rid of them when you have too many plums.
The recipe said it was good on pork so since tonight we are having pork ribs, I thought I would try it on a couple of those and see how we like it. I'll let you all know later.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

I Could Have Taken Pictures Of

So no pictures because it is a lazy day here. Not that I haven't done a few things.
 I could go out and take picture of my nice vinca, impatiens or hostas but since I bought them at the store and just plopped them in containers, there really isn't anything self sufficient about them but they are pretty.
I could also have taken pictures of the stubs left of my tomato plants or the beaten down patch by the garden where the deer who eat the tomato plants sleep at night but they aren't real interesting, really. I hung the wind chimes off of the tomato cages and they are starting to grow back again (even the one that was pulled out of the ground and had to be replanted.)
I could have taken a picture of the two coffee plants. Just two made it through the winter. I just couldn't afford to heat the greenhouse this winter and was hoping they would make it anyway. When they started to fail I brought several inside to the windowsill but the windowsill was a bit cold too apparently. Two did live, however, and I just moved them outside today into the back yard where they can get some sun but not too much.
I could have taken pictures of the chickens. I actually was able to get to the coop today since the mud pit in front of it (under the back shed!) dried up slightly. But I kind of doubt you want to see the mud they live in right now. Georgia doesn't normally get this much rain. The lake hasn't been this high in all the years I have lived here...wait a minute...I'll count them up....22 years..approximately. Anyway, the pen is messy but drying today.
I could have taken a picture of my new violin or my new tin whistle. I have been playing one or the other most of the day today. The new violin is still not an expensive violin but it isn't a really cheap one like the last one (has ebony parts, not plastic) and it has a much  nicer sound and is easier to play. It is a Cecillio 300. The new tin whistle is an Clark Sweetone. It also has a much nicer sound though playing it is about the same as playing the other one.
I could have take a picture of our new microwave cart my brother gave us. They are moving and trying to get rid of stuff. It is a nice white microwave cart so matches the microwave, table and ..freezer (the rest of the appliances in the kitchen are still all hodge-podge colors). It is smaller than our other one which is good since the kitchen is not exactly spacious. It also made us go through the stuff in the other microwave cart. After living here so long we have become hoarders and need to get rid of a lot of stuff. Amazing how much junk can be hidden in one microwave cart!
I could also have taken pictures of my new kerosene lamps that I bought from my sister-in-law. There are two of them and they are very nice, though I think all my lamps are nice. She let me have them for $5 each which was a good deal (you may get pictures of them eventually..some other day).
I could have taken a picture of Echo and told you how I think I might have finally gotten her itching somewhat under control...WITHOUT taking her back to the vet. Last time I went  they handed me a two week supply of an antihistamine and told me "they are great if you can find one that works". The one they gave me didn't. So I did some research on my own. Found out the over the counter antihistamines that I can try on her (they all costs less for a whole bottle than the 10 the vet gave me). I bought two different ones to try then got looking at other things you can purchase for itching. I got some Allerderm pippettes and also bought some hydrocortisone spray at the store. Something is working. I don't know what but something is. I also ordered a spray that you can spray your house down with that destroys allergens from mold, mildew, pollen, dust mites and pet dander. Who knows maybe my sinuses will get better as well!
I could walk up the road and take a picture of the Wildlife Management Property that surrounds the lake here. Apparently it is "to hell with the wildlife" year because the state of Georgia has decided to cut all the trees around the lake behind us. Dirt roads to the lake that they once banned our cars from are now mucked up by logging trucks taking out the wood. We've been given no reason for this. It is apparently all "good" for the wildlife to have all their trees cut down once in a while...not that any of us are gonna believe that. Georgia  may be backwards and have the worst school system ever but we didn't exactly all fall off the turnip truck yesterday. If I thought they might put all the money into the school system, I might feel better about it but the plan seems to be to fire as many school personnel as possible this year even though they I thought they had already done that a few years ago. Anyway, I suppose we'll soon have a nice view of the lake...over the stumps and brush.
So these are the things I could have taken a picture of today but was too lazy to do so. Maybe next time I'll go take pictures, load them on photobucket, crop and fix them, then load them on here....but not today. :)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Solar/Hand Cranked Radio/Flashlight

I have always wanted one of these but they were too expensive. You see when the power goes out here, you just immediately know that it is going to be out for a while. I am not sure why it takes so long for us to get power back on here because when I lived in New England the power being out for a long time meant it was out for maybe an hour. Here we never have gotten power back on after an outage until 2 1/2 hours have gone by and that is from a little thunderstorm. We almost always lose power in a thunderstorm. I often blame it on the red clay here as the trees cannot put down decent roots in it and they fall on the lines when it rains and the clay softens. I am sure they grow roots when it is wet here but most of the summer we have drought conditions and the rains we get in spring and summer really don't make up for it so the clay is too hard for the roots to penetrate most of the time.
Anyway, on to the solar hand cranked radio flashlight. I got one today!
A guy at the flea market had a trailer full of boxes of stuff. I picked through and found this. He asked me for a DOLLAR for it. Geez, they cost at least $30 new. I gave him his dollar, hoping it worked.
It did. I had to buy new rechargeable batteries for it but that was all. Now that I have played with it some, I am quite impressed with what it offers so I thought I would do this review.
As you can see, there is the clock which has an alarm on the front which is so important when the power is out and you have to go to work the next day (I used to keep an old wind up alarm clock at one time for power outages). Then there is the radio. I have had a hand crank radio before but it just didn't work well enough. It didn't have a battery back up or solar power like this one does. It was easier to go out to the car to hear updates on the radio if the power was out more than a day or  two. This radio also picks up lots of stations even out here where we live and they come in clearly. Then the front has the flashlight and the light also can be set to "blink" though I am not sure what I would need that for since I don't plan to keep it in my car...but you just never know when you will need a blinking light...right? Anyway, the flashlight works well though not as well as the new LED ones.
The solar panel is on the top and you can lift up one side to angle it towards the sun. I am really not sure how well it works since my rechargeable batteries came already charged but I have set the whole thing on the windowsill so I shouldn't have to use the crank for a while even in an outage because the solar panel should keep  the batteries charged.
Another feature I really like is that the rechargeable batteries are not the only batteries in it. It also has a space for regular alkaline batteries.
Even better is the fact that only 3 of these batteries are used that one on the left side is just a "spare" battery. Underneath these is another compartment where the 2 rechargeable batteries are kept.
The only flaw I saw is that the piece that holds the crank is a fairly soft plastic and it is already cracked on each side where the pin holds the crank on. It is not broken yet but I am going to put some Super Glue on it on both sides and just be careful when I turn the crank, in the hopes that it will last a bit longer. Just like most stuff these days, it wasn't built to last. ..
The little button on the front is where you adjust it to which power you want to use. I am guessing but I take it the AA battery means the alkaline batteries the hand one means the crank and then you can plug it in as well with the DC INPUT.
Anyway, not bad for a dollar. Between this and the coffee pot that I have that can plug into the car cigarette lighter, I should be all set in a power outage.... : )

Sunday, June 2, 2013

I Did Plant a Garden...

even though I hoped we wouldn't be here to see it grow...sigh...anyway here are some pics.

I missed getting you pictures of the roses when they were fully in bloom but the rose bush out by the mailbox out did itself again this year. There were just tons of blooms but they have mostly gone by now. However the rose bush by the house always blooms a bit later and here are some of those roses.

The peach tree and fig tree has put the yellow rose bush almost in the shade and it had more blooms this year than ever before (I think there were six blooms on it this year and it has never had more than two). Perhaps shade is better for this variety or maybe the leaves from the trees are just putting more nutrients in the ground.

I had roses bloom well beside the driveway that have never done well before either. Even a cutting that I planted on the hill years ago and has never bloomed got a bloom this year. I guess all the rain may have helped this year too.

On to the vegetable garden. I can't say I have really put any effort into the garden this year. I had picked up some tomatoes and peppers and just stuck all the tomatoes in one bed and the peppers wherever I could find a place. Then I looked over the seeds I had and put in whatever I had. It didn't amount to much.

Here are the tomatoes. Of course, since I haven't done anything with them, they are growing just fine. There are some onions in front of them. 

Here is the other big bed. I had one small packet of beans so those are in the front and then there are yellow squash and zucchini. There were supposed to be three plants of the squash but I guess one never came up. Doesn't matter as two will probably fill the bed anyway. That's one of the peppers in the corner.

Here is the bed with the herbs. That big one is the oregano and over in the other corner you can see just a tiny bit of green that is the thyme that actually lived through the winter. I have never had any live through the winter. The other plant in there is a pie pumpkin plant.

Here are the larger blueberry plants. They were looking pretty good and had some blueberries on them but our weather was so weird, where we would have warm days and then it would get really cold again so it lost the berries and some leaves. In the front (those that aren't weeds) are some beet plants. They aren't getting much for roots but maybe I will just eat the greens instead. They look pretty tasty. 

These are the pink blueberries. They did not produce any berries this year or flowers for that matter but they are still growing well. That is a pepper plant in the front and some nice poison ivy in the rear that I need to take the hoe to. 

The two other beds in the garden I haven't planted anything in yet. I may just leave one empty but the other I plan to get some cucumbers started.

I wanted to show you a few pictures of the trees as their growth has been kind of amazing.

This, believe it or not, is a little piece of fig tree that I planted here, I think,  4 years ago. It is now taller than the house. I planted it there to block the sun from hitting my bedroom window as it was really hot in the bedroom with that sun on it. (In Georgia, shade is everything). You can't see my window now! It does have figs all over but it will be a race to see if I can get any before the birds. I like them once they turn brown and the birds do not seem to care if they are green or not so the birds usually win. The tree will actually need trimming next year but I hope I am not here to do it. The fig tree in the back yard is only a little smaller because we had to trim it some to put the fence in but not much smaller.

This is the peach tree. I planted this the year before last. I didn't get around to trimming it this winter which is why it is so huge now. It got some blooms this spring but the late frosts took care of those so, unfortunately, it will not produce this year.

And lastly, the banana trees have produced another bloom. Winter was very mild again and it didn't die back to the ground again so it has produced another bloom. Last year the bloom got too heavy and fell off but this one seems to be holding on well. These bananas will not be edible from this variety but they do produce seed that I can plant or give away or whatever.