Saturday, March 31, 2012


Galatians 6:9

King James Version (KJV)
 9And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Fresh milled flour

Today the Nutrimill is running. We are milling some spring wheat for bread making and some additional to store in the freezer for later use. The warm earthy sent of fresh baked breads bring a sense of home..comfort. I grew up in Kansas, a family farm girl, where bread was a staple of life. Baked goods were always available - as were the chores! My grandfather was a wheat farmer who also raised beef cattle. Grandmother kept gardens, chickens and on occasion rabbits. You can see where our lifestyle stemmed from, though we are much smaller in scale! My own mother made fresh breads and baked goods often. That daily flow of activity, the aromas, the time spent working together to accomplish a task are memories I want my own children to have - they are precious to me. Today, I stir the memories and bake fresh milled wheat bread for my family to enjoy as I did all those years ago.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

   The old saying is all too true; there's never enough thyme (or time) in my garden.
Hoping to spend some real quality time putting thyme (and many other wonderful things) in the garden today!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Happy Birthday

Wishing a great big birthday blessing on our head farm man!
Hard working and fun loving,
Determined and driven,
Faithful and forgiving
Grateful we are that you belong to us!
Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Preserving the Harvest: Onions


   Fall onions are coming out as spring onions are going in; time for preserving the harvest. Onions are a huge staple in our family kitchen; their flavors lend so well to the many hearty dishes served on our farmhouse table. Over the years I have come to really like three different preservation methods for our garden onions. 

   The first and most basic preservation we use is curing. Once the onions are picked, they are placed on a rack and allowed to form an outer skin which will protect the tender bulb. Once a thin, brown, papery skin forms the onions are bunched in small groups and hung in the kitchen pantry. With our southern heat and humidity, onions preserved this way will easily fall victim to gnats or mold. Knowing this, we only reserved a few 'fresh-dry' onions for on hand use.

   Dehydrating is the second form of preservation we really like. Onions are rough chopped (green tops and all) before being placed on mesh dehydrator racks; six to eight hours lend a nice dry onion. Drying onions send a savory sweet aroma throughout the house and store well in airtight canning jars and vacuum sealed bags. The only downfall in dehydration is the heat. Running a dehydrator in hot weather is just not happening, so when the temps are high or time is short we resort to our final method.

   Plain and simple freezing. If onions are being frozen they don't need to be set to cure first; pull them out of the ground, clean them up good and plop them in a freezer bag. I put some in whole (if they are small) for use in roast meat dishes. Larger onions are chopped and frozen in smaller quantities for sauces and veggie dishes. The only problem I found with freezing is having enough freezer space.

   With onions planted in abundance here on the homestead my kitchen will be busy putting up and setting aside these tasty blessings so they can be enjoyed through the season to come.

This post is linked to : Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways 

Monday, March 26, 2012

One from the Archives: Ice Cream - of course!

We have had a little warm up in our neck of the woods. Weather has been warm and breezy - just right in my kids' mind for some ice cream. Why not? So. I have a kitchen aid mixer with an ice cream attachment bowl. I makes only a little - and does take the fun out of cranking and ice-crushing ( ya'll remember that from your childhood don't ya?). In the past we have made - and often still do - the delightful old-fashioned crank it ice cream version. . it is wonderful and very much worth the wait, however, this is small, simple and quick. The entire process takes about 30 minutes and soft serve is ready. The result---rich and creamy home-made vanilla!!!!

I also took the time to ready up a batch of yogurt. Got myself a little carries away and ended up with 7 quarts! Wow - who does that? The kids say - time for frozen yogurt -- teens, gotta love em!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Equipping: Between You and I

   Relationships are a day by day, minute by minute part of our lives. We have families, neighbors, co-workers and friends which come into contact with us several times throughout the day. Every so often those relationships run into a snag, and when that happens we need to be able to get through it.
   In my married life I have come across those 'between you and I' moments; those conflicts that just seem to splinter a relationship..and if left unresolved, can fracture our hearts. Many years ago a some wonderful wise words were shared with me regarding 'between you and I' moments that can occur not only in a marriage, but in any relationship conflict.
* Check your heart. Time and time again it has proven true in my life; if my relationship with others is struggling, most often my relationship with God is struggling. Repair the damaged spiritual problem and the other will be easier to mend.

* Say it then pray it. Nagging and arguing are counterproductive and solve nothing. Expressing my hurt or concern needs to be done (hopefully in as calm a manner as possible), but then, I have to place it in God's hand. Once I say it, then the only time I need to say it again is in prayer.

* Remember you are both sinners. I am a sinner saved by grace and important to my heavenly Father, as is my husband, child, friend, etc. They deserve my forgiveness and forbearance, too.

  These days I find myself reminding my teens of this valuable information. Their lives are expanding and relationships are being formed that will be practice grounds for their adult lives. I am ever so thankful for the wonderful woman who shared her wisdom with me equipping me for those moments 'between you and I'.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Ephesians 5

 1Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
 2And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.
 3But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
 4Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
 5For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
 6Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
 7Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
 8For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

Friday, March 23, 2012

Week Ending

Beautiful sunshine; low humidity and no chance of rain..perfect for lots of week ending projects.

We have a skeet shoot in the morning. Farm boy will be loading up the truck and popping off a few rounds. It will be a great morning.

There is a lot..I mean a lot of gardening to get done. Tomatoes and beans; peppers and seeds need tucked into warm garden beds. 

Tilling needs done (this is a picture from last spring). The fall/winter garden is done; greens have turned bitter in this warm weather and lettuces have begun to bolt. Daily spreading of compost and manure are in place; time to turn the soil for summer's three sister planting.

This quilt needs put on the frame. Sides and corners have been added; all the pieces are pressed and ready for layering and basting. Definitely time to get the frame up and in order.

I hope your week ending is filled with family and fun..and a little work, too.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I Am Not Smarter Than....

   ...a gas pump. No, really...I'm not. Here's why.

Early in the morning I was sipping my coffee with my farm boy sitting nearby. We discussed his lesson plan for the day and the fact I needed to leave for my appointment extra early since my truck was out of gas. Being a chilly morning, there was no desire in me to jump out of a warm vehicle and gas up...none.
With my farm boy's urging I headed out early for my long drive 'downtown'..stopping at the little corner gas station. With the nozzle set in the truck I opened the truck door with a plan of sitting in the warmth until the tank was full. Click..the pump shut off. With only a few dollars of gas I knew there was no way my tank was full enough so I tried again..and again..and again.
Great; I have a long drive ahead of's cold..and I get the messed up pump. I asked the person next to me about their was fine. A police officer was walking to his car asked if I needed help. Explaining my situation to him, he offered to tell the store clerk. The clerk checked everything and sent out the message things were fine on his side. Great; just great.
I restarted that pump a half dozen times before the nozzle decided to spurt a spritz of gas at me; that was the last straw. In hasty aggravation my mind began to calculate the distance to the next convenient gas station, how far I might get on the few dollars I was able to put in, how close I could possibly cut things before I just gave up and cancelled my appointment...and then.
A light went off in my know, the only reason a pump will not let you put gas in your tank is if the tank is full.
Turning on the engine revealed my folly. It seems my sweet husband filled the tank when he arrived home after his overnight shift at work, but didn't tell me. 
With a half-hearted laugh I left the station envisioning my truck bursting into flames on the freeway because I overfilled the tank.
Next time, instead of bullying the pump..maybe I should listen to it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Back to the Prairie: Bounties of Spring

   Down in the garden Grandma has a knife in hand and large buckets to fill; spring cabbage is ready for harvest. Pulling back the large outer leaves, she cuts the large firm heads. My job is to load them into the buckets as she chops them but the fresh spring air and warm sparkling sunshine keep distracting me.
   Back in the big farm kitchen the cabbage heads are washed before the hard cores are cut out. One by one the cabbages are shredded into fine pieces and sprinkled with plenty of fine salt. Worked and wrenched the salty shreds fill bowl after bowl all around the room. Time for the big brown crock to make it's way to the garage....we're making sauerkraut.
   In the coolness of the garage, Grandma fills the large crock with the salty wet cabbage shredded the day before..the wooden 'plate' is set in it's place to weight the cabbage under it's juices. It takes forever for cabbage to become kraut! Yet, as we daily 'churn the kraut' our minds wander to the various things she will make with this tasty treat: kraut and hot dogs, even my favorite sauerkraut pizza!
   Day after day we wait for the kraut to be just right..then packing and canning and setting on the scary basement shelves...just another blessing of this spring's bounty.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Of Bullets & Books

   It happens once a week: shooting sports practice. This year our farm boy is participating in a county 4H shooting sports club; learning safety, respect, and proper handing of guns. As you can see, he is doing quite well..and ...enjoying it!

   My job, as shooter's mom, is to watch, encourage, and - of course - photograph/video tape every shot. This way he can review his performance, evaluate his form, and make better adjustments for next time. However, while other shooters are up to the stands.....

   I spend a little time with books. What can I say? There's a new book in by bag and I just can't wait to get to know every single page of it!

   Oh, the pages of peppers and pots; plans and plots. There are pepper identifications and growing tips; recipes both savory and sweet. Can you tell, I am loving this book!

   While the farm boy liked the book, he was not impressed that I chose to read it during the practice...because I missed one of his rounds. Maybe I leave the book reading for another time? Well, maybe.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Preserving the Harvest: Chard

   As each garden season comes to an end we find ourselves with a need to preserve. Recent heavy rains have brought parts of our garden to become water-logged driving us to harvest one last time before the water destroys it. Today we are preserving the remnants of our Swiss Chard.

   After harvesting the chard, I like to give it a nice soak in the sink to clear out bugs, dirt and other not-so-nice's that may be lurking in the little crevices. As you can see from the picture, we also harvested the kale beds.

   After a nice bath, the chard is placed between two towels; rolled up and given a nice squeeze. I do have a salad spinner, but for some reason I just like to do the chard (and kale) this way. To me, it gets them dryer faster.

   Once the chard is clean and dry they are placed in freezer storage bags with as much air as possible pressed out. I have read several recommendations to blanch the chard before freezing, but I didn't like the texture of it once it thawed (kind of slimy..ewe).
   Frozen chard is similar to frozen spinach when it come to texture and use. We add it to stir fries, soups and dips...or, often it is tossed with a light vinaigrette and baked in the oven for a crisp side dish.
   Now if the summer runs another scorching drought killing off the new plantings we will at least have some of the greens tucked away in the freezer!!

   Apparently all this work wore Hadassah out!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

New WIP On the Table

There is a new project on the table! This beautiful vintage quilt top is our new WIP.
Delicate pink and blue stars dot the landscape of tumbling triangles and muslin sashing. Each intricate scene is beautifully hand stitched..hand stitched!

The quilt top needs one small repair to a section of flour sack triangle...otherwise it is in excellent condition. In order to make the quilt fit the client's bed, six inches of 'antiqued' muslin will be added to all four sides with a decorative blue patch in all four corners.

As of today: the backing fabric (a vintage muslin sheet) has been aged with a tea soak, side pieces are cut, the top is pressed...we are ready to get started!
The plan is: piece and press the top and back, baste the layers together and start the wonderful process of handquilting this wonderful treasure.

Time to get busy!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Psalm 1

 1Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
 2But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
 3And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
 4The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
 5Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
 6For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Gloves & Garden Weekend

Winter's greenhouse tomatoes are almost finished producing.

Plenty of onions are being gathered in.

The last of the winter greens are being harvested an put away; kale, chard, broccoli and cabbages.
Lettuce is starting to bolt and plants in the greenhouse are budding up..just aching to
go into the large garden beds.

Time to break out the gloves and get into the garden this weekend!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

First of the Season

   Yes, it has happened...the first snake of the season has made an appearance (and an exit). While cleaning an area of the garden my farm man found a young rat snake (also known as a chicken snake). Needless to say we made sure this nonvenomous nasty will not be able to partake of our fresh eggs. Time to start keeping a careful watch where we stick our fingers and toes...we have seen the first snake of the season.

**So glad he found the snake instead of the snake finding me!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Beautifully Blooming: A Photo Walk with Jen

   A bit of rain, a burst of sun shine and the garden unfolds with color and beauty. So glad Jen took her camera on her walk today and shared it all with us.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Gardening: Growing Something New

   I know me...I tend to 'garden in a rut'. Know what I mean? Grow the same standard crop year after year, row after row without any thought or consideration to the millions of seeds just begging for a chance to grow. My grandparents were 'rut gardeners' too; they grew the same crops and canned the same produce year after year...because it worked; it was reliable. Sometimes, you just need to 'give seeds a chance'.
   Once of my girls participated in the Master Gardener Apprentice program a few years ago. She would come home with tales of arugula, kale, chard and bok choy... raised beds and intensive plantings. This opened a door for new ideas in the garden..things I would have never considered. While the thoughts may have been stirring, the action was slow...I am not one to jump on new takes time.
   Little by little we ventured into new seeds and things; it wasn't easy..I am not a fan of change. These days kholorabi and kale are regulars along side purple beans and strange squash breeds. It didn't happen all at once, but it did happen..however, not all things that made an appearance stayed. I still can't wrap my mind around bok choy; it's debut in the garden was short lived!
   When considering new garden crops, no matter how eager or hesitant we may be, there are a few things we do before hoeing a row:

   1. Do we know someone who has grown it? I ask around and seek others who have some experience with a new crop. Sometimes it just helps to have an experienced person to talk to.
   2. Do I like this? Sometimes a gardener will share some of their harvest with you. Get a taste of the thing before you dedicate precious garden space to it.
   3. Do I have the space for it? If not, don't bother unless you have tasted it first. If so, it can always go to the flock or the stock when you get sick of it.
   4. Does it work in my area? If it's not your zone, leave it alone!

   Some new things are excellent; some are just a fail, but if you never step out you'll never know. Who would have thought kale would be an addictive garden addition? Not me!!

   What new things are you trying in this year's garden?  

Monday, March 12, 2012

When a Trip to the Feed Store Changes Things

   It happens every spring..the sudden arrival of little baby chicks in every feed store in the county. So fluffy and sweet; their tiny "peep" draws me to them. Nearing their little brooder they eye me curiously, a wonder and awe fills my heart. Before the impulse to scoop them up and carry them all home consumes me (and you :) there are a few considerations needed- as my husband would say 'time for a reality check'.
   What do you know about them? I personally purchased some chicks once and realized later- they were not the right breed for my purpose. It is important to be familiar with different breeds and their purposes. Another important bit of information is 'straight run or pullet only'. If you don't want a bunch of roosters, you need a pullet only purchase. Buying hens from someone I didn't know well led to a real bad investment. Be sure to know who we are doing business with, what breeds you are getting, and what to do with those chicks when you invest in them.

   *Immediate..Small chicks have real needs and their first basic need is a warm brooder. Simple enough, brooders can be made out of several different on-hand (or inexpensive) items:
     a cardboard box
     a large  plastic storage tub
     a dog kennel
     stock water tank
     a roll of metal flashing and a tarp
   The amount of chick purchased determines the size of the brooder (or how many brooders you set up). For twenty-five chicks, I use a stock tank with a six foot circumference. With a heat lamp or two and some soft pine shavings we have a nice brood pen for the chicks.
   *Long term..Those tiny balls of fluff grow quickly into big pullets and cockerels. Before you know it they have outgrown their cozy brooder and need alot more space for scratching and roaming. Larger brood housing can be made from things you may already have:
     a large dog kennel with a roof
     hoop houses (pvc or metal framed/often intended as a greenhouse)
     quick kit garden sheds
     rabbit cages (generally for small flocks)
   The key here is room to roam with protection from predators and weather. Exposure to sunlight, fresh air, and grass or bedding gives a healthy environment for long term housing.

   *Immediate..Chicks eat..alot. Ready mixed starter feeds are sold in every feed store and do a great job; bear in mind, they do have a medication added to prevent Coccidiosis (a nasty parasite-fatal to chicks). We had batch of chicks with this ailment- it's awful. Water and feed containers can be any container, but the 'fountain style' ones sold at the feed store prevent drowning and waste better than other feed containers I have used.
   *Long term..After a few weeks, those chick graduate from the starter and it's time to have a feed plan. The purpose of your flock (meat or layer) will determine your feed needs. All flocks need space, fresh water, feed rations, sunshine and some where to graze. Knowing your plan helps with planning your feeds.
   As I kneel beside the cute little brooders at the feed store..melting over the sweet little chicks peeking at me..the bracing dose of reality hits and sets my feet back on the ground. We have had chickens for years (we grew up with chickens on our families' farms) and understand the commitment it takes to raise them. Tomorrow, we will share different breeds we have raised- their benefits and disadvantages..and what we currently keep in the coops.
   Now, if you will excuse me, I have some fluffy little darlings to ooh, and ahh over.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

He Has His Father's Hands

Rough and worn by
Weather and work:
Hoeing a row,
Turning a tool,
Lifting a heavy load.
Strong enough to hold it together
The bottom falls out,
A pipe breaks, 
Life gives need to a pick me up.
Gently enough for:
A tender touch,
Calming a frightened soul,
Mending a wounded being.
In the blink of an eye
The little boy I use to know
Has grown in to a youth
Who has his father's hands.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Romans 12:3

King James Version (KJV)
 3For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

It's a messy kitchen, dough in you hands, hearty aroma in the air kind of day.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Into the Weekend

   This weekend is set to be a long wet mess as weather systems collide across our area. With garden work out of the picture, house work will be on the 'to-do' list.

Ten things on the list:

1. thin out the closets
2. clean and inventory pantries
3. straighten up the container cabinet
4. complete a long overdue major stocking trip
5. antique fabric for a quilt back
6. clean under the bed
7. drive my teens crazy
8. enjoy the presence of my husband
9. bake bread with my oldest
10. pace the floor waiting for the rain to stop!

So many things to do and so much togetherness to be had all while heading into the weekend.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Back to the Prairie: The Good Earth

Spring sun shines brightly over the prairie as soft fresh grasses make their appearance. Tender patches dot the land bringing with it the hope of spring. There drifts a fresh crispness in the air drawing me down the gravel drive; a gentle barn kitty greets me there.
Kitty and I find a warm place in the sun; snuggles and nuzzles meet with purring and pawing. Together we sit just enjoying the sunshine. Across the prairie there rises a distant familiar sound.
Far across the land a rumble grows..the sleepy soil is waking. Tractors and tillers are busy at work. Hearty aromas of stubble and stick drift over the prairie breeze stirring thoughts of the past harvest. 
My eyes close as I draw in the warmth of the sun and the scent of the land. Visions of bountiful fields and hearty gardens fill my mind; beans and cabbages..hay and wheat. My heart longs for the bounty and the beauty of the good earth.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Afternoon Walks with Hadassah.....

In fond remembrance of the original Dr. Seuss, Hadassah and I present:

Oh, the Sniffs You Can Sniff

Oh, the sniffs you can sniff if you only try,
sniffs way down low, sniffs way up high.
There are sniffs on the ground
and sniffs in the air;
sniffs for your sniffer are found everywhere!

Hurry, my family, when you walk with me,
there are so many sniffs all around, you'll see.
I found a sniff in the grass
and a sniff on the street;
a sniff on the knee of the people we meet.

So, come along come along
come along with me.
Oh, I found a new sniff
at the base of this tree!
And one on the tire
and one near the fire;
and one is right there-
look! I am no liar.

Oh, the sniffs you can sniff
if you only knew
all of the things
that my sniffer can do!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Joy in the Simple Things

the gentle purr of a cuddly kitty

the playful nibble of a goat's teeth

garden plans coming to life

an afternoon cup of coffee under a tree
Hadassah at my feet
watching hens scratching in the pasture

teens gathered at the end of day
sharing planting, professors and youthful plans

and, knowing
that as my head lays down on my pillow
a text will cause my phone to buzz

because my husband
tells me goodnight