Coons and veggies and jelly, oh my!

We’ve been pretty busy here over the last week or so. Michael set the live trap and caught the coon the first night. I prefer to leave the wildlife alone but we can’t have them killing our critters.ย  She was much smaller than I expected.

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The berries are fantastic here this year. It must be because of the cool weather and all the rain. Michael took the girls to pick wineberries and they came home with about 2 1/2 gallons. There were a few raspberries and black berries in there also. I made 3 quarts of juice and made some jelly. I think it’s one of our favorites. Aren’t they pretty!

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We’re getting more out of the garden now. Zucchini and yellow squash.

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More green beans and it’s time to pick again.

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Beets! We’re excited about these because I haven’t been able to grow beets since we’ve been in WV. We had the greens cooked with bacon. Very yummy! I have some more of these ready to pick but have yet to decide how we’ll fix them.

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Clifford has become quite the ham when it comes to the camera.

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We’ve been getting some fog in the mornings. It sure makes for beautiful sunrises.

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Time to run. Supper and chores are calling! Have a blessed week-end!

The good, the bad and the UGLY

The good…

Fresh green beans

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and taters sneaked out of the tater patch

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cooked up with a 1/2 pound of last years bacon + milk from our cow, pork from last years hog and homemade biscuits = one delicious supper on Tuesday! The eventual goal is to have more days like this than eating what we’ve had to purchase from the store.

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Hannah makes quick work of polishing it off!

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Some garden pics.

Tomatoes

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Heirloom corn and okra

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and God has been providing a consistent amount of rain to water the garden. These things are good.

The bad and the ugly. I lost a hen who was setting on eggs in our stock trailer. I’m almost positive it’s a coon because not much else except a opossum could have managed to get in there.

Then we’ve had some trouble from this guy/girl. (No the snake isn’t ugly!)

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First it was in my nest box in the chicken house. I could have spared an egg or two but the hens sort of freak about it. We moved it to the hay barn and then I found it wrapped around a hen who was setting on eggs in the feed room which is back over by the chicken house. I was just in time to save her but she only had 4 eggs left that weren’t broken. I also suspect it killed a large chick in the rabbit cage that was too large for it to eat because there wasn’t any sign of illness. It was just dead in the morning. The snake now lives at the neighbors hay barn! Then that stinkin’ coon got into the feed room Wednesday night and killed that hen and ate the eggs she was setting on. I think it’s time to go coon hunting! I also had another hen we had to put down. She had some problem that she couldn’t stand. It seemed almost neurological. Strange.

Oh. And my camera screen no longer works so I can only guess what I’m taking pictures of.ย  ๐Ÿ˜€ย  We’ll see how that goes.

I’ll leave you with a “good.”

Peach jam. Not made with homegrown peaches as we don’t have peach trees yet but isn’t it purty? I did what they say not to and decreased the sugar to 4 cups from 5 1/2 cups as the last batch was so sweet. I also increased the lemon juice by 1 teaspoon and added an extra 1/2 pack of pectin. I’ll let you know how it is but it seems to have set and the leftovers in the pot were quite yummy!

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Have a blessed 4th of July and may God bless the rest of your week.

I’m Still Here!

I can’t believe it’s been four months since I’ve posted! There’s lots of gardening and baby chicks hatched and some predator problems. Lets see. We’ve planted several garden areas. Over 10,000 square feet!

Lots of potatoes.

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Lettuce, onions and radishes.

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There’s zucchini plants that are getting baby squash and apples on the trees.

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We’ve been eating peas and salads and I even sneaked out some potatoes to make creamed peas and potatoes which were fantastic! Of course I didn’t get a picture! Those homegrown potatoes are the best thing EVER!

We’ve hatched 48 chicks and lost one last night. No idea why and it was almost 5 weeks old.

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This hen actually is caring for 16 chicks as the hen who had 8 eggs at the same time became ill the day they were supposed to hatch and died shortly after. Thank god the weather has been warm as she could never cover them all!

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I have two more hens on 18 eggs and I lost a hen and all 10 of her eggs. I suspect a coon as she was in our stock trailer and should have been safe enough but I guess not. At least we’ll have chicken to eat this winter!

Hannah and Kalina found mulberry trees. Hopefully we can save some from the birds as I’d like to try to make some jam from them.

I made peach jam from peaches Michale bought on sale. We don’t have any peach trees. That’s something that needs to change!

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We’ve planted over 70 tomato plants, heirloom and peaches and cream corn, sweet potatoes that I started from slips for the 1st time,ย  okra, peppers and swiss chard. Broccoli and cabbage which don’t seem to be growing. Lots of green beans which we’re starting to pick. Some sunflowers, cukes, watermelons, cantaloupe, summer and winter squash. We planted field corn which mostly didn’t come up. Carrots which didn’t come up but the seed was old and I’ll replant this week. I started cabbage and broccoli for fall and I’m going to plant parsnips. And turnips if I can find my seed!ย  ๐Ÿ˜€ย  In April we got over 700 eggs and in May we got over 6oo eggs! Now we’re down to 8-10 a day.

I’ll try to update more often than every 4 months.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

And I’ll leave you with a picture that always brings to mind that God keeps his promises!

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Have a blessed Sunday!

Finishing the chicken yard….and pics

Recently we’ve had something showing up in the middle of the day and snatching chickens. It comes in fast and is gone even before the dogs can react. Seems to be after mostly white birds. I guess they’re easier to see. After the guineas gave the alarm the other day I managed to get out there and whatever it was dropped the hen and ran. It grabs them by the head. I found her on her back and thought she was dead. She had some blood coming out of her mouth and blood filling one eye but she was alive. I put her in a basket with some straw and she is fine except for wanting to keep that injured eye closed. We found where one had been caught and it looked like the head had been sliced off with a knife. Any ideas what might do that? I still haven’t done a count to figure out exactly how many are missing.

We started working on the yard for the birds when we first moved here but there were so many of them I hated to confine them and with so many other things needing done it was shoved to the back burner.

Michael and Clifford finishing the yard. It needed one strip of wire to complete the top and the boards along the bottom to attach the wire to.

Day one.

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Day two. Time to finish all but the bottom strip so the birds could get back into their house for the night. Clifford loves to help Dada.

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Sorry gang. Last day of freedom!

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At some point in the not too distant future we plan on expanding the yard to about double the current size. We will also let them out in the evenings when we’re outside.

We’re getting between 14 and 19 eggs a day now! This is what 19 eggs look like.ย  ๐Ÿ˜€ย  So many nice colors.

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The biggest and smallest for the day.

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New bread. I know, I know. Funny looking. Very easy and so good. I’ll do a post!ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

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I have more pictures and another post or two but this is probably enough for now.I’ll leave you with another fantastic sunset from my place to yours.

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Have a great day and God bless!

The changing weather

We’ve had a wide range of weather including temps from the teens to the upper 50s this last week. So we’ve been here….

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And here….

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and today a few flakes in the a.m. and now here! Our high was about 35.

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The chickens have started laying fairly well again. We went from 6 or 8 eggs a week to this…

My Kalina who gathers the eggs. I love the colors of our eggs!

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Today we had 15 BUT every day I have eggs with yolk all over them. No shells in the nest. Kalina thinks she knows the culprit so we’ll try confining her to see. It’s great to have eggs again! I need to pickle some!

Having so many eggs allows us to have stuff like this! Pancake squares. Yummy. I like this because it’s easy and goes in the oven. Some plain and some with chocolate chips. And home grown bacon!ย  And fresh whipped cream! And homemade butter!ย  ๐Ÿ˜€

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With the cold temps we’ve been burning a lot of wood. I’ve also been trying to cook on the wood stove some and not use the electric except for baking which means I load more wood in the stove than we’d use just for heating. That means more of this…

Clifford loves to help! Thanks for the gloves Uncle Ron and Aunt Kathy!

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It’s time to get supper ready so off I go. Putting food on the table takes up a lot of your day when you cook from scratch. But it’s oh so good.

Have a great evening. God bless.

Here chick chick chick!

Catching snowflakes. No. That’s not a chicken but is so cute I just had to put it in!

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I often struggle with making our meals from scratch. It’s a lot of work and sometimes, I admit, I just get lazy. But when I do make the effort it is so worth it.

Tonight we had BBQ chicken on homemade buns with coleslaw and milk to drink. It involved a lot just for one meal and we really are far from providing everything ourselves.

First, see the title of this post. It involves raising, catching, butchering (see yesterdays post) and cooking the chicken.ย  Into the crock pot with a little water and cook for about 4 hours.

I mixed up the bread dough and baked the buns but I didn’t grow the wheat (we will be giving a small patch a try this year) or the yeast. I also don’t have bees to provide the honey. Yet. Our farm did provide the milk, eggs and butter.

So now we have chicken and bread. Many things went into the BBQ sauce – none of which our farm provided. Tomato paste and ketchup, which we should be able to provide, mustard, liquid smoke, worcestershire sauce, honey and cayenne pepper.

Maybe next year it will be my cabbage and carrots for the slaw. The dressing starts off by making mayo. I have the eggs but I don’t have olive trees for the oil. Anybody know of a substitute for it to make mayo? I somehow doubt that lard would do the job.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  I need to do my own vinegar but haven’t yet. Vinegar is not supposed to be difficult to make. Mix, mix, mix till your arm falls off and you have mayo!ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  I did a post on mayo in March of last year. Add some raw sugar, a pinch of salt and mix some more and you have a delicious dressing.

Hum. Let’s see. Grate the cabbage and carrots and add dressing. Oh. And don’t forget milking that cow for the wonderful milk she provides for our family!

Hours later…delicious. And well worth the effort. (Somehow we forgot that glass of milk in the picture!)

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We really would like to provide as much for ourselves as we can and I know we can do much better than we are at this time but there will always be needs we can’t meet. And that’s ok. Community is important. I pray that as we settle in at our new place over the next year or so that we’ll find like-minded people to share what we’re learning with and to learn from. It’s sort of hard to meet people when you only get down off of the hill once a month!

Now to figure out what to do with the other 15 or so roosters we still need to butcher!ย  ๐Ÿ˜€

And Bob, I don’t know that the kids could be convinced it was rattlesnake. Although they’d probably try it if it actually was.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

God bless and have a fantastic week-end.

It’s snowing!

This was the sunrise on the 10th. Beautiful!

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Current conditions.

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Wood that has yet to make it into the shed.

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Honey and Baby aren’t impressed.

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We’ve butchered 6 roosters since Saturday doing 2 every other day. Chicken and dumplings, chicken soup, chicken ? They tend to be a little tough so I’ll slow cook them. I asked Michael how often we could eat chicken before we get sick of it and he said “A lot!” It’s a nice change from pork.

Kalina just turned 13 and really feels she needs to learn more in depth about the processing part so here you go girly!ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

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The end result. They’re not large because most are banty cross. My banty cross hens that I keep because they’re such great setters hid more than one batch of eggs last summer. Not what I would have chosen to hatch but they’re still good eating! I think we have about 15 or so to go.

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This is in my living room. I think it needs to be dealt with…since we need the couch to sit on.ย  And the chair needs screws replaced in the bottom. It leaves us a chair short at the dining table. Maybe tomorrow!ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

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Time to get something to eat. But not chicken tonight! I think I’ll join Kalina and toss a tater in the wood stove to bake. And then figure out what to do with chicken tomorrow!

God bless and have a marvelous evening!

Cleaning the Coop

The weather was bright and sunny even if still chilly (about 35F for a high) and the chicken coop was a disgraceful thing to behold. Time to clean. I started out like this….

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But within one wheel barrow load was down to this….

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The before pictures. See that little blue tin under the water? A 15 watt light bulb inside kept the water from freezing even when it dropped to 20F. It hasn’t been tested lower than that but it will be later next week as we’re supposed to hit 8F (!) with 20mph wind which will put it below below zero. I noticed at least one rooster with a little frostbite on his comb already.

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The somewhat reluctant help (it was so nice after days of rain I can’t say I blame them for wanting to play instead of work.)

Kalina

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Some of my chickens begging to get back in. Crazy birds. Go enjoy the sun!!

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Hannah and Michelle

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Melissa (crocheting while waiting to go dump a load)ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  and Clifford

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It took about 12 loads but the results…a clean coop… for a few days.

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Feeding time. They were rather put out that they had to wait and thought they were starving!

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I wasn’t very smart. I should have worn a mask. There was so much dust. And even some mold and mildew. By last night I could hardly breathe and my throat was so sore I could barelyย  swallow. The cure…about an ounce of warmed brandy with a couple teaspoons of honey (since I try to avoid otc meds if at all possible) at about 11pm. It made it bearable until about 4am and by that time it wasn’t as bad.

Clifford has developed a cough from allergies and has been having some sinus drainage when he lays down. Last night even though I had him propped up he coughed until he threw up. We had the pleasure of sleeping in the recliners in order to keep him from coughing so much. Michael got up this morning and sent me to bed and I slept until almost 10:30! I’m still congested and a slight sore throat but much better than last night.

Michael has been cooking today.ย  He made buttermilk biscuits with our fresh buttermilk for breakfast and for lunch a huge pot of soup which will become pease porridge over the next few days. But it never lasts 9 days!ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

Well the sun is calling me outside even though I’d rather go back to bed. I just can’t pass up a day like this as they’ve been few and far between so far this winter. Time to put the kiddos back to work!

Have a great day and God bless!

Honey Wheat Bread

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3 cups warm water (110F)

2 tablespoons yeast

1/3 cup honey

Stir to moisten yeast.

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Mix in 5 cups unbleached flour

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Let set 30 minutes or until big and bubbly (sponging)

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Mix in 3 tablespoons of melted butter

another 1/3 cup of honey

1 tablespoon of salt

and 2-4 cups of whole wheat flour

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Knead 10 minutes. The dough should be pulling away from the sides of the bowl or counter but still sticky to touch.

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Place in a well greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double – about an hour.

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I forgot to take the picture of the dough after rising. Sorry!

Punch down and divide into 3 loaves and place in greased 9×5 inch loaf pans and allow to rise until dough tops the pans by 1 inch.1st half jan 2013 077

Bake at 350F for 25 to 30 minutes and do not over bake. I don’t bother to brush the tops of the loaves with butter and the crust really doesn’t get hard. Cool completely.

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This is slightly sweet. I took this same recipe and divided it in half and made these. It made 2 pans.

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Yummy!ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  If you’re interested in how I made them let me know. I’ll warn you now they are super sticky sweet and have a ton of calories! But oh so good!

It was very chilly and foggy this morning. Not much above freezing.

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Some critters don’t seem to mind. She thought it was a good morning for a bath.

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I’ve gotta run for now. Time to fix supper. God bless!

Child’s play

My kids like Star Wars. We don’t watch it often but they (not Clifford!) watched it over Christmas break. So my kids become Jedi Knights. There’s the occasional banged knuckle and somehow Clifford ended up with a place on his forehead that no one knows how it happened. Maybe when he was throwing his light saber into the air?

Michelle, Hannah, Kalina and Clifford.

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Clifford

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Michelle

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Search for the missing stone from a ring. Found and then lost again.

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Kalina, Hannah and Clifford.

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Hey! Come back and fight!

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Fine. I’ll play with the dog.

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Melissa. Just not into playing Star Wars.

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Miss Hannah.

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We actually had a little bit of this the other day.

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But this is what it looks like most of the time.This is on the way to the barn. Mud. Wet. Yeck.

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I’d rather have this!

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Since my last post Clifford had a high fever for 2 days. He picked up something when we went on our last shopping trip. It was 104.2 at one point. He does tend to run high when he gets sick but he had no other symptoms. Flu? I don’t know. A couple days later Kalina ran a low grade temp. No one else was sick, thank God.

Last week we killed a possum in the chicken house. We didn’t take a picture. Kalina went to feed and let out such a yell. It was in a nest box (no wonder there were no eggs) and Michael took care of it. I try to leave them be but not in my chicken house!!

It’s currently raining. It doesn’t look like we’re going to get any of the freezing rain. We are supposed to get an additional 1/4 inch tonight. The spring is easily keeping the cistern filled. The electric pump doesn’t seem to be working and the gas pump is pushing it all the way to the house. I usually only have running water once a day for about an hour but I’ll take it as it’s much better than NO running water!ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ll post the pics and recipe for the wheat bread in a separate post this evening or tomorrow.

I’ll leave you with another beautiful sunrise from our place. There’s my favorite tree which Michael keeps threatening to cut for lumber.

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Have a great evening and God bless!