Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fall is: Grandpa's Caramels

Caramel : A pile of caramel cubes isolated on white 

   Caramel is one of those wonderful treats easily paired with almost anything, but that is not the only way to enjoy its chewy goodness. Caramel stands alone perfectly..front and center..just by itself..and handmade..even better. The only problem with handmade caramel- the time it takes to make them. 
   As temperatures drop and rise at the end of the year, my grandfather gets a stirring desire to make his favorite treat. With a step stool to rest on, he pulls the vision ware dutch oven from its shelf and settles in for an afternoon of quite reminiscing.

Grandpa Hoffman's Caramels

2 cups sugar
3/4 cups light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 squares unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup butter
Mix all ingredients together and look on low heat to hard ball stage, stirring constantly. Pour into a buttered dish (such as a 10" pie dish). 

   This recipe is said to have originated with his father who made them in the winter months so as to cool them on the back porch before breaking them into pieces with a small hammer. The vision glassware my grandfather uses were my grandmother's favorite cookware. After making the caramels in them once, he never used any other dish. 
   As for me, I have not made the caramels myself, but simply look forward to the delivery of this tasty treat as he tends to bring them by quickly after making them. I haven't seen any yet this year, but I am sure that day is coming very soon. 

Unwelcome Bug

Chips of crushed ice to savor and soothe
Salty soda crackers for nibbling, too.
Warm broth to nourish and flower to cheer
Pillows piled on the couch holding us near.
Nostalgic old movies to comfort our souls
Cool cloths on our heads and a hand to hold
Times like these we see our families' love
When our home is visited by an unwelcome bug.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fall is: Caramel Corn

   Cold days in Texas are rare and treasured- special occasions to be sure. We celebrate the chilled days of fall with our very own very tasty caramel treat..caramel corn. Salty and sweet with just the right crunch, this version of fall caramel holds the best of both comfort food worlds.

Farmhouse Caramel Popcorn

1 1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups popped corn

   In a saucepan stir together the sugar, syrup and butter. Over medium heat, bring to a boil and keep it there for three minutes. As you remove the caramel from the heat stir in the vanilla before drizzling over the popped corn (you will want the biggest bowl you have to mix the two or do it in batches). Once your corn is sufficiently coated with caramel (work quickly) turn it onto a lightly greased baking sheet and spread it out a bit to cool. Left-overs can be stored in an air tight container or plastic bag.

   Let me share a mother always made caramel corn but added two cups of roasted peanuts and called them Cracker Jacks. My grandmothers made them using white sugar; we shaped those into popcorn balls known also as Snowballs. Being a coffee nut, myself, we made them one year with a teaspoon of coffee granules and they were wonderful!
   No matter what you stir in or what you call them, caramel popped corn is a delicious treat made even more special when shared with loved ones. So gather your family together, pop some corn, and make some memories.

 Growing Home

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fall Is: Caramel Sauce

   One of my favorite things about fall: caramel. Not the packaged squares found on store shelves, mind you, I am talking hours of standing at the stove stirring until you can't take it anymore caramel. Caramel that is so amazingly good you only allow yourself to make it once a year..that caramel. Needless-to-say, we have some of those very favorite caramel recipes here in this kitchen..and today, we are talking sauce.
   While researching and studying the fine art of home made cheese I came across a recipe for Cajeta, or Mexican Caramel Sauce. It intrigued me..such simple ingredients..such a simple process. I had to try it, of course. The results made this tasty delight part of our fall tradition.

Cajeta (Mexican caramel sauce)

       yields approximately 3 pints

2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp baking soda
3 quarts whole goat's milk
3 cups sugar (I used white, but I think brown would have been bolder)

Dissolve the cornstarch and baking soda in 1 cup of the milk and stir to dissolve any lumps. Pour this into a large (mine is a stock pot) heavy bottom sauce pan. Pour in the remaining milk and the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Yes, I mean constantly- milk scorches in nothing flat and is a mess to clean up if it foams over. We took turns stirring it nonstop. Cook until it is the consistency of Carmel sauce. Now, bear in mind, this takes about two hours of continual stirring. After about one hour the mixture takes on the appearance of evaporated milk and is slightly thicker. After one hour and fifteen minutes (give or take) the mixture looks like condensed milk..slightly darker and thicker. Around the two hour mark, the mixture is a syrup consistency, tan to light brown, and tastes like caramel. When tested - drizzling some on a cool plate- it gelled well and tasted amazing!
We then poured it through a fine strainer into clean jars, let it cool a bit, and enjoyed it.
As said earlier, it was a great dip for fruit and a tasty topping for ice cream...I'm sure we will find even more uses for this tasty treat- my oldest farm girl says it makes a great caramel mocha frappe..gotta love her.

   This wonderful treat has been shared as a gift, sent along as a sample, and requested by friends. I will mention that, while it is traditionally made with goat milk, whole cow's milk works just as well. Last year we added cinnamon..wonderful little twist. This year? Well, my farm boy is thinking cayenne to heat things up a bit. 
   Either way, this sauce is versatile and oh, so wonderful...made only once a year because, well, if we made it more often we would eat it way too much!

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Revelation 6

King James Version (KJV)
And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.
And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.
And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.
And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.
And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Diverting from the Norm

   A weekend cold front put quite a chill in the air (a diversion from the norm)..stirring in me the deep desire to do a little baking. With plenty of sewing on the table and baby chicks to tend, I decided upon a favorite old standby; Joy cookies (not the standard chocolate chip-another diversion from the norm). Chocolaty goodness paired with peanut butter and wholesome oats, these little drops of joy are easily stirred up..and eaten up!


2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups oatmeal

Simply begin by placing sheets of wax paper on a counter top or table; I make strips the length of two cookie sheets per recipe (never make one batch at a time- they won't last!). Start the cookie by stirring the first four ingredients together in a large pot (soup pot, stock pot, or dutch oven). Heat the mixture over medium high heat until boiling; boil two minutes. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until smooth; add vanilla. Quickly stir in the oatmeal until well coated. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper allowing to cool and set.

   These little treats will join me, and my cup of coffee, in the sewing room for a chilly day of stitching..after all, there is a quilt top nearly complete. A diversion from the norm is so refreshing, isn't it? Besides..normal is overrated!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fun Finds: The Coop

   This week the poultry pen has been front and center in our lives; new hatch-lings tend to do that to you. With my peeps growing and mess making every day, it seemed only fitting to focus our Friday Fun Finds on the coop.

I personally do not have need for winterizing the coop; south Texas winters are seriously mild. For all those living above us, Fresh Eggs Daily offers this excellent post chock full of information for winterizing your flock's favorite places...they also share the link to their very own feed mix.
A movable A-frame shelter for pastured chickens. 
For us frugal minded flock keepers, The Modern Homestead offers their plans for a pasture shelter made from items that might already be on you property. Here is a link to the plans, material list, and thoughts to consider before building.

Rooster and hen anatomy 
As a home schooling homesteader, I loved teaching my children every aspect of flock care. Urban Farm Online offers this helpful poster as a tool for teaching poultry anatomy. I love the gingham background and the beautiful colors used.
play pen set up to keep the babies safe..we have done this many beautifully 
Raising babies is a large part of coop life, and how to give them pasture time has always been a quandary for me. Over at Pam's Backyard Chickens I found this cute little peep playpen..just right for a little sunshine and greens, don't you think?
Marbles in the water to prevent drowning. Genius. 
Morning walks to the brooder can end in devastation when a little one has fallen into the water and drown.  This week a Pinterest  board showed placing marbles in the water to help those little peeps stay safe. Such a simple solution..who would have thought?

   This week has been a wonderful blessing spending a few minutes here and there checking on the noisy little bundles of energy. Before long they will no longer need the constant attention and care; that doesn't mean I won't be out there anyway. Speaking of which..time for a walk out there right now. Have a blessed weekend.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

In the Night

   Night time walks to the brooder draw me into the dark places where I generally dare not tread. Tonight I paused but a moment to breath deep the sounds of night: a frog in the distance, nearby crickets in chorus..the rusting sounds from stalls. Funny how the familiar changes in the dimness of moonlight. In this deep and strange moment my heart longed for home..and was reminded of the familiar unfamiliarness that comes in the night.
    Nightfall was always an eerie time on the wide open prairie. A silvery moon quickly seem to cast ghostly shadows stirred about by the howl of coyotes in the distance. Stillness crept over me and not even the faintest breeze would calm me.
   There in my bed the silence overwhelmed. I would strain to hear even a faint chirping cricket, but find none. A night like this found even Buffy, the Siamese cat, restless. The heaviness of the day's burdens carried over into a restless night. Slipping from my covers I would creep to the door and listen for signs of movement in the house. Ever so quietly my tip-toes traveled down the dark hall.
   In the kitchen I often found my grandfather sitting quietly at the table. The faint light of the oven revealed his face drawn and tired. Burdens of the day weight heavy on him in the night. With a ragged breath he spied me and offered his soft smile; an invite for me to join him.
   There in the night we sat alone in the big farm kitchen. Often on this sleepless night we share a late night treat; a favorite snack. Crunchy, salty crackers stacked with slices of hard cheese topped with the best part of all- tangy summer sausage. Together, in the deep dark of the night there were no words, just him and me and our late night treat putting to rest the heaviness of the day and the restlessness of the night.
   Nights like these I long for that familiar comfort- that time of quiet sharedness. Sitting here, in the dim light from my own kitchen, I miss peace that came as a child...peace from a loving soul...peace that came there in the night.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Closer Look at Our Poultry Plan

  We made the decision was made to raise our backyard flock several years ago. Having both grown up with family farms, poultry came to our homestead right after the garden was set in place. Planning our flock, we had to know the purpose for the birds we would be raising. Over the years a few considerations have crossed our experience. These considerations have shaped the flocks we now maintain today and plan to continue with in years to come.

 Concerning Breed

   Egg production was our primary purpose; meat was secondary. Knowing this, led us to realize many breeds are considered 'heavy breeds' or 'dual purpose' breeds; Orphingtons and Austalorps, for example. Raising dual purpose birds meant the hens grew to be a laying flock while roosters would fill the freezer.
   Since our children were members of 4H, the poultry project led us to raising seasonal meat flocks. This filled the freezer without taking up a large amount of space and without causing us to purchase layers as often.
   Our desire is to raise breeds that are natural lines or heritage lines. When that is not reasonable due to expense or availability, we strive to stay as close to that as possible. Currently, we raise Buff Orphingtons, Black Australorps, and Auracanas in our layer flock; Cornish cross are the meat flock breed.

Concerning Housing

   Our homestead came with a large shop building that has become our barn and workshop. Simple modifications turned a metal awning into stalls with an enclosed coop on the side. Here, our layer flock resides near the stalls where our herd sleep. This offers protection from elements and predators, while giving us easy access to food that is housed between the stalls and the main building wall. Our hens run free during the day with restricted access to garden areas; they can only enter there when the crops are done.
   The meat flock is housed on the opposite side of our shop/barn; kennels under an awning provide their pen and brooder space. Feed is housed near these kennels, as is open pasture. When meat flocks are not housed here, these kennels are kept clean for use during kidding season.
   While our structures are permanent, we do have two large kennel housings that can be easily moved to maintain a quarantine set, new birds, or as transitional pens when babies are added to an existing group. Sometimes these kennels are set in garden areas that need worked by the birds when full access would be a bad idea (such as, the corn was done, but the neighboring green beans were not..pen is set over corn beds for hens to work).

Concerning Feed

   Research and word of mouth; keys to feed decisions. I read everything I can find on feed products and work my goals from there. My layer flock is fed a pellet/scratch/seed mixture..a supplement to their long days grazing and scratching the earth. Layers receive purchased feeds with seed and greens added in; they are not much on grazing, so grazing is brought to them.
   All our feeds are purchased at a co-op in a neighboring county; buying in bulk helps with cost and quality. We plan monthly trips for all our homestead feed needs (our garden seeds are purchased in bulk here as well).

Concerning Health

   Herein lies a touchy subject; to medicate or not to medicate..a sticky situation. My conviction has always been 'less is best'. Having experienced flock loss due to Merk's disease and coccidosis, I do vaccinate and treat for these two ailments. Other situations are handled as they arise. Our flock and coop are treated with diotenatious earth (DE) for parasites/mites and regular feedings of garlic/cayenne/flax along with leafy greens keeps them in good health. I always try natural treatments before going to the vet recommended medications.

   Poultry flocks require time, effort, and determination and experience helps immensely. Along the way there has been success and failure; life and death; trial and triumph- homestead life is not always as romantic as we like to think. No matter the inconvenience or the set backs..I wouldn't trade my little peeps for anything..they are excellent medicine!


Monday, October 22, 2012


   Today was an absolute practice in frustration; every one in the house is feeling the strain of it. 
The circle of chaos a call to the doctor's office can trigger;
A reckless youth that caused a ruptured ear drum..
and the symptoms that ebb and flow;
Empty nest boxes in the hen house..and no sign of molt;
Not catching the culprit causing the empty nest boxes;
Finding two copperheads...killing only one;
A never-ending harvest of peppers..
The return of heat and humidity;
Projects untouched and stacked on the table.
These things, oh, they will be waiting for me tomorrow. These things are trivial upsets..little things which really should have no power over me...yet, then there is:
The heartbreak of another's choices;
Grief when you can't mend the hurt;
Questions: did I do what I there more I could;
Pain of knowing it will not end well;
The unwelcome return of my own health concerns.
These things, they too will be waiting for me tomorrow..they will rob me of my rest and drive me to my knees. Today is a day to enter into a time of testing..testing faith, testing prayer, testing sacrifice and determination. Today is a day when we face ourselves and see what it is we are made of; what it is we rely on; what holds us together. 
Today, I fall to my knees seeking.
Today, I will not be moved.
Tomorrow I will pick myself up
and I will carry on.

I lift up the frustrated;
the one pushed to the limit
unsure how to carry on.
I pray for every homesteader;
despite the failures and setbacks
tries to hold on
just one more season.
I pray for every mother's heart;
broken by a child
she sacrificed to love.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

New Arrivals and Simple Poultry Care

   Recent predator activity caused a need to replenish the layer flock, after all, seven hens do not lay very many eggs. New arrivals are now housed snugly in the brooder with plenty of bedding, food and fresh water...but that didn't come without plenty of before-hand preparation. 
   When new chicks come to our farm, I like to be well prepared. The brooder is swept clean and all feed/water implements are given a hearty scrubbing. Ideally the brooder is ready a few days before they arrive. Due to erratic weather fluctuations and the low egg count, we decided to order our chicks instead of home incubating them.
   Our brooder is a five foot stock tank linked with plastic sheeting covered with pine shavings. For the first few days I lay an old sheet or piece of fabric over the shavings to prevent the chicks from eating the shavings and choking on it. Two standard heat lamps are suspended over the tank by a one by six keeping the temperature a comfortable ninety-five degrees. One-gallon fountain water tanks are filled with fresh water and small trays hold starter crumble purchased from our local feed co-op.
   Since problems can arise (a week chick, illness, a sluggish late hatch baby) an isolation brooder is kept nearby. A large plastic storage tub is set up with a heat lamp clipped to the side, a small quart-size water fountain and small feed pan; ready and waiting just in case.
   Upon arrival we take each chick individually and dip their beak in the water; insuring each one drink on their own. Generally they find the feed rather quickly, however, if they do not, we dip their beak into the feed as well. We stay nearby a bit to ensure each one seems active and healthy, removing any that appear sluggish or unable to eat and drink. Weaker ones are set in the isolation brooder for special care.
   Those first few days we monitor our chicks very closely since it is challenging to keep the temperature comfortable. Lamps are raised or lowered according to need; cloth coverings are added to the brooder top if we have a cold snap. Empty or not, water fountains are cleaned and refreshed four times a day and feed is available at all times.Yes, babies that come here are well tended and quite spoiled.

   Two to three days in we remove the fabric cover from the shavings and start using fountain-style feeders instead of the open trays; keeping the feed more available and less messy. At this point we base the temperature more on chick behavior rather than thermometer readings. If the chicks are scattered away from the light and laying flat they are too warm; if huddled and under the lights they are too cold. Simply adjusting the height of the lights (or removing/adding one) the problem is solved. Comfortable chicks are active and noisy.
   The chicks stay comfortably in the brooder until they feather out and seem crowded. When this time comes they are not yet ready for the big coop or the great out doors, instead, they make their way to the transition pen. Covered and safe, the transition pen is larger, fully enclosed with exposure to daylight, and pasture ground. In the transition pen, the chicks get a glimpse of the other farm animals; a chance to safely get use to each other.
   Our little peeps are only a few days old and already a source of great laughter and regular trips to the pen are a precious highlight to my day. I love their intricate colorings and the way they stare at me with such and inquisitive manner..they are already learning my little clicking noises mean 'treats'.
   By the way, I believe it is time to head out there right now..surely one of them needs a little snuggle, don't you think?

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Revelation 5

King James Version (KJV)
And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;
12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fall is Also....

   My father's birthday. Rich chocolate cake with velvety ganache waits patiently in the fridge. Lasagne is being made from scratch; bubbling sauces and gooey cheeses tantalize the senses. It is definitely time to gather together and celebrate.
  So, happy birthday to my father who hoed the rows and picked the beans; called me a grease monkey as we worked under the hood...cringed as I learned to shift gears and nearly died when I enlisted (but sighed with relief when I got married). Happy birthday...blessings today, and many more.

* We used this recipe from Epicurious to make our decadent cake. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fun Finds: For the Garden

   After a full week of garden focused work (and play), it seems only fitting to seek out some really fun finds from the big old web. Let's take a peek at a few really fun things for the garden.
Inexpensive Mini Greenhouses - Brilliant! 
   I didn't always have a greenhouse, but that never stopped me from starting seeds myself. I have tried several different methods, but by far the most practical method has been this  one shared on the Garden Web forum. The storage tubs can easily be used and stored away in the shed until next season.
I didn’t know that if your crush them finely or into a powder they can be used in more ways.   Almost 98% of the eggshell is calcium carbonate, which is important to fast growing plants such as tomatoes, because the plant depletes the surrounding soil of calcium which is important to cell growth in the plant.
   We have plenty of egg shells available year round..generally I feed them to the hens or compost them. After reading this article from Homemade Simply I have decided to set a few aside for feeding my garden plants. On hand natural fertilizers are always better than having to buy them!
Growing Sweet Potato Slips 
   Personally, I have only grown sweet potatoes once..and it didn't make a great impression. That particular year became a heavy rain season and most of them rotted..wasting my investment..and ruining my personal outlook on sweet potato growing. Alas, there is hope..maybe if I try this handy method from Off Grid on Lee's Ridge I could be persuaded to try again.
 Making Your Own Chipotle Peppers From Jalapeno's 
   Having had an explosive pepper season this year, I am totally game for any uses for them (other than pickling and relishes). Old World Garden Farms shares this awesome tutorial for making Chipolte peppers from your jalapeno harvest. Sounds yummy to me, of course, I will have to get over my fear of the smoker..long story..don't ask.

   All that inspiration has me itched to get back out there and grow some more!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fall Growing: Herb Propagation

   Approaching cooler temperatures bring the herbal garden back to life after the stress of summer heat. Plants revive their beautiful colors, and, if pinched back some, will fill out and thrive. This presents a perfect time for propagating some cuttings for wintering in the greenhouse.
   Tender stalk plants such as mints and basils are easily rooted by placing cuttings in water. Once roots form, I add a bit of soil to acclimate the roots. It doesn't take long for these plants to be ready for planting.

   Plants with a bit more strength to their stalk such as thyme, oregano, and tarragon I propagate by division. They're root base is healthy and tends to spread, so digging up a bit doesn't seem to cause much stress.
   The woody stalks of plants such as rosemary and tea tree pose a deeper challenge. Cuttings taken from the underside of the bush are set in water for a day or two before being dipped in root hormone and placed in soil. Much fussing and nurturing is required, yet, even then results vary. Sometimes it is just as well to buy additional plants..but, I love to torture myself with such challenges.

   Our fall garden is pretty well tucked in and sprouting up and the greenhouse is filling with cuttings and trimmings. Now we wait for those first tender harvests and the challenge to waste none at all. With planting complete, weeding, amending, feeding and maintenance begin. Tomorrow we share some garden style fun finds from all over the web!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fall Growing: Leafy Greens

   The fall garden is a wonderful time for lots and lots of tasty greens. With winter viruses and germs, nutrient packed greens are a vital part of our nutrition plan. Tender butter crunch lettuces nestle near the rows of mescalin mix and spinach. Our tender greens are planted near the remaining summer tomatoes and between the onions in their place.
   Along with the tender, leafy greens we also plant plenty of hearty greens..kale and chard are favorites. Deep in color and full of antioxidants, these greens are beautiful and functional. Siberian kale fills the rows where beans were planted this summer and Swiss chard is intermingled with Rainbow chard in beds where the turnips grew. Wonderful sprouts are already peeking through..I can't wait to harvest tender little baby leaves for saute!
   Mustard greens, red clover, and some collards are grown as a green mulch between the rows of our back garden plot. Nourishing the soil, preventing erosion are their purpose. Trimmings will be fed to hungry poultry and milk producing goats.
   Once the greens show their beautiful shapely leaves, we take a little time to propagate herbs from the herb garden. That's on the agenda for tomorrow!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fall Growing: Pods & Roots

   The first task of September is getting the fall beans nestled in the soil. Hearty 'drying beans' need to get going quick..they won't like the chill. Green beans, or snap beans, seem to be resilient, growing and producing with great vigor..yet, they too need to get going before the soil cools. We set two large rows of snap beans for fall this year, but with abundant stores of dry beans from a previous crop..none were planted this time.
   Roots are important, but slow crops that make their appearance throughout the fall season. Carrots are one of the first planted..and the slowest to develop. I allot quite a few rows to intensive planted seeds. Smaller fingerlings and a few hearty longs are excellent, but do try my patience as I tend to loose hope in them just before they make their first tiny appearance.
   Beets, turnips and radish are not overly loved by the family, but are tolerated fairly well. Extras end up treats for the herds and flocks. This year has a small plot of beets and an even smaller set of turnips, we had way too many of them this spring.
   The potato, well..when they grow, oh how they grow; when they fail..they fail big. I hardly bother with potatoes; each year that I tried they were either negligible or non-existent. This year I just didn't bother, besides, we don't eat them often.
   Onions tend to be a huge factor in our garden; we use them in nearly every dish. My onions are planted as soon as sets arrive at the seed store..and I plant them between every row of cole crops and leaf crops. They were planted just today:)
   With pods and roots tucked in and covered, the next task is transplanting the cole crops..see you in the greenhouse tomorrow.
 Growing Home

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Fall Growing: First Plantings

   In the south where I make my home the growing season lasts year long, and this week we turn our focus to the fields. The fall planting is almost our second spring with plenty of hearty growing tasks to undertake. In the mid-summer our fall plan has to be set and ready to go..and nightshades/peppers are the first items on the list..and tempting those seedlings to life is quite a challenge.
   Seeds for peppers, tomatoes and eggplants have to be started in July and carefully nurtured until late August or early September. Once in the soil, these tender plants need to have plenty of grow time before the soil temps drop. I place mine under a green shade cloth with soaker hoses along the bases; drought, heat stress, and hatching pests keep us challenged. This year, peppers are still going no replacements were planted. Tomatoes, Roma-style cherries, are set in pots so when winter comes they can move to the greenhouse.
   Once the seedlings leave the greenhouse corn and squash are direct seeded in the garden rows. Warm weather grasshoppers make fall corn fields quite a farmboy loves to catch them for the chicks. This year's corn has been planted between the pepper rows with squash on each border.

   Hope is the heart of any gardener..and a fall garden needs a good healthy dose. Year after year, despite the lingering of summer heat or the dry thirst for rain, I just can't resist the longing of my heart to churn the soil, set the seed, and nurture the tender vines. These are the first of many fall plantings!

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Revelation 4

King James Version (KJV)
After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,
10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Down the drive and through the gate..leaving the comfort of home and the long list of things that need done. Today our family is serving as camp host. May His work be done by our simple hands and willing hearts. 
Have a beautiful weekend.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fun Finds: Family Time

   The disconnectedness of the modern family is heartbreaking and painful; but it doesn't have to be. I have always loved gathering my little ones (or, now, big ones) together, all hands in, and spending time. Be it a project, play, or a simple setting family time does not have to be expensive or burdensome. This week's Fun Finds Friday focuses on family time.
♥ this...LOTS OF PAGES! 
When my children were small, we often pulled every thing off the coffee table..spread paper over..and dumped the crayon box on it. Sometimes it was free form and creative, and sometimes it was coloring sheets. Free Kid's Coloring Crafts has some wonderful 'simply farm style' printables just right for a simple family time.
This small Tupperware container is perfect so the kids can still "roll" dice without losing them. 
As the children grew, so did the focus of our time together. One excellent event we did regularly was a game night. If your house is like mine, little game pieces tended to end up in the strangest places (and to be found by a foot later on that evening). Cardigans and Curriculum   shares a nifty tip for keeping all those little bits in place.
Homemade Kettle Corn -- In the Microwave! 
All this family fun stirs up quite a snacky appetite, but keeping things frugal and healthy can be quite a challenge. Frugal Homemaking has a great share: kettle corn. A few simple on hand ingredients and there you go!
These days my kids are quite grown; college, senior, and a sophomore. Their class/work schedules make family time a much more precious..and difficult to plan..thing. Now days we plan a big cooking day for hearty family meals like this lasagne or these  enchiladas. Sometimes it is canning or planting..even a fence mending day..but those all need a hearty meal to end it, right? 

   The how of family time is not what is is that it happens..that we are together..that memories are made and bonds are formed. My most treasured memories of home are not expensive vacations or elaborate is the day to day circle of hands that warms my heart and keeps me longing. That is the family time I desired for my home..and the one we wish for yours.