Monday, May 28, 2012

The Minister's Treehouse

 This is what you see when you first arrive at the treehouse.
 Inside the chapel.
 View from above the chapel.
 Stained glass window on 3rd or 4th level.
 Exterior walkway.
 Tree with lots of character passing through the treehouse.
 Another shot looking down into the chapel.
 Nativity scene inside the chapel.
View looking up at the treehouse while sitting in the lawn chair swing.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Just when I thought I was done planting...

With the planting of some pumpkin and sunflower seeds Sunday, I thought I was finished planting for the spring.  However, I was unable to resist the temptation to buy some broccoli and cauliflower to put out.  So, I made the trek up to my favorite local greenhouse to see what they might still have available.  I ended up buying broccoli, cauliflower, red cabbage, green cabbage, two giant marconi peppers, and one eggplant plant.

The large plant in back is the eggplant.  It was the last one they had and when I asked how much they wanted for it, they let me have it for free.  I had planted some eggplant seeds but I hope this plant will give us a few early ones.  I am getting a late start on my cabbage and broccoli but I have a shady spot reserved for them.  Hopefully, it will not get too hot for them.

I did get to visit a few yard sales this weekend.  The best buy was a Star Wars cake pan that I bought for $.75.  I checked it out online and ended up selling it for $25.  Turns out it was a vintage Wilton pan from 1983.  The $25 will give me a little extra money for when I go out "junkin'".  I also bought a small loaf pan that I gave to my mom to use and a new wire whisk for myself.  The Princesses taught me that when you fold out all the layers of a whisk, it makes a pretty design though you can never get it put back quite right.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Kitchen has been busy today!

Today has been one of the busiest in the kitchen for a while.  A very dear friend sent some gator, conch, yuca, and other treats for us to try.  I have never had any of the delicacies she sent but was eager to try my hand at it.  TH and MHM were eager to try tasting it all!
I cut the gator up and laid the Tony C's to it, let it sit in the fridge for a few hours, and then I added seasoning to the flour I coated the gator in before putting it in the deep fryer.  It was very good and not at all what I had expected.

The yuca was very good as well.  I cut it up, boiled it until tender, drained it, and added olive oil, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper to it immediately after draining.  It was very tasty!

I also had two bowls of strawberries to deal with today.  I decided to make jam and ended up with 2 pints and 5 1/2 pints of yummy strawberry jam.  I'll still be picking berries for a few weeks so I hope to dehydrate some and can a few more.

It was a very day in our kitchen but lots of fun!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Beans popping up!

The beans have really benefited from all the rain as of late.  I really didn't realize how many rows of beans we had until they all came up.  It does look nice out there with the rows popping up and growing.

We really need to do some weed control between the onions and taters.  While the rain has been good for beans, it has been great for weeds.

The tomatoes, peppers, squash, gourds, and melons are all doing well.  I hope to begin stringing line on our cucumber climbing apparatus soon.  I'll definitely post pics when I begin that as we're trying something new this year and I'm hoping it is successful!

Friday, May 11, 2012

I hadn't planned on going to any yard sales today.  However, last night as I ran to town for an errand, I noticed a yard sale sign at the end of our road.  I decided that if the princesses were in pleasant moods, we would ride up the road this morning to take a look.  I am very glad I did!

I absolutely adore cast iron cookware and was very excited to get these two pieces.  The little skillet is an 8" Wagner Ware Sydney pan.  This is my first Wagner Ware and though it is rusted and has some buildup, it shouldn't take too much to bring it back into service.  The larger pan is unmarked but I'm pretty sure it's a Lodge.  I bought it because it has deep sides and I don't have a deep sided cast iron pot other than my dutch oven.  It is in nice shape and after a seasoning, should be good to cook in.  The third item pictured is a Foley Food Mill.  I normally use my Victorio Strainer for tomatoes and the such but I like having the option of a food mill and picked this one up at a good price.  All together my purchases cost $9.  I almost had a draw knife but the gentleman decided he wasn't ready to part with it after all and I couldn't blame him one bit.  My search for one of those continues! 

I am so glad I decided to check out that yard sale!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

First Meat Canning of the Year

While we were in another town yesterday, I stopped in at a grocery store that had boneless, center-cut pork loin for $1.69/lb.  This was about the best price I've seen in quite a while so I chose two loin packages and had the man working in the meat department slice it into 1" pieces.  I followed the instructions from Jackie Clay's book Growing and Canning Your Own Food to prepare and process the pork.

This morning, I began the canning process at 6:00 am.  It took almost an hour for me to trim the pieces up and place them in the jars.  I used pint jars as a pint of meat is plenty for most meals and will let us get more meals out of this meat purchase.  I used disposable Ball brand lids for my wide mouth pints and reusable Tattler lids for my regular pints.  I chose to use some disposable lids in case I decided to share with someone I wouldn't lose my lid.

I enjoy using the Tattler lids but I do make sure to read the instructions each time before using them to make certain of the proper closing.  With these lids, you loosely tighten the rings but then back off 1/4" to allow for proper venting.  When you remove the jars from the canner, you finish tightening the rings down.  I've read of some folks having problems with improper seals but I believe it comes from not making certain of the instructions and allowing the jars to vent.
I ended up with 14 pints of yummy pork loin that will be a welcome addition to quick and easy suppers when things are hectic around here.

TH has been very busy around the farm.  He planted a nice sized patch of Hickory King Corn this weekend.

He used his planter to plant almost 30 rows of corn.(We actually lost count somewhere during the planting.) We're hoping we'll harvest enough corn to have some ground to corn meal and some cracked to help feed the goats, chickens, and cows during the winter.

We received some much needed rain last night.  Our plants in the garden as well as the seeds that were planted over the weekend needed a nice drink and the steady rain that fell through the night and into the morning should help quite a bit.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Made it to the Garden!

We finally made it out to plant yesterday.  TH and I were hoping for good weather Thursday and we were able to get our beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers, squash, and muskmelons in the ground.

We planted a few different types of beans.
Green Beans:  Blue Lake & 1/2 Runners
Dry Soup Beans:  Cherokee Trail of Tears, Jacob's Cattle, and Shellies
Peas:  I'm not sure but I think they were Wandos.  I don't know why I hadn't labeled them.

Given our different varieties being planted so close together, I won't be able to save pure seed but we wanted to have a nice variety to put away for winter.  I have some pure seed set back and after we see which did the best here, we'll be able to focus on that type later.

I did have a series of mishaps yesterday during our plating session.  The first mishap served as a reminder to always let the person you're working with know if you are directly behind them.  TH was planting a row of peas with our garden seeder and when he started, I was still writing in my garden journal.  As soon as I was done, I started covering his row behind him.  He didn't know I had moved and came across a piece of wood in his row.  He slung it behind him and didn't get a warning called out in time for me to move.  I took a nice whack in the leg but after we laughed and I growled a bit, we kept going.
The next mishap came from getting overheated.  I didn't think it was that hot out but all of the sudden, I became ill and had to go in for a bit.  I stayed in to recover and TH used his "I-Can-Keep-Going" super power to pick up my slack and kept planting.  He did a fantastic job getting the plants in nice straight rows.  He really is a wonderful hubbie!

The last mishap of the night came when I decided to go put the chickens up for the evening.  I stepped out to our screened-in back porch to put on a pair of shoes.  I didn't look down when I went out on the porch and 
stepped on a hornet.  Those things hurt like the dickens!  I had been stung by bumble bees on the bottom of the foot before but that hornet sting really hurt!  My foot throbbed for hours after that though it didn't swell up like the bumble bee stings did.

After the bee sting, I told TH that I gave up and was going in for the rest of the night before I really hurt myself.  He just laughed and used his "Sun-up to Sun-down" super power to mow the yard before turning in.  We had leftover gumbo for supper but I had made a bowl of home-made, from scratch banana pudding so that was a nice treat after a bad afternoon.

We were hopeful for some rain last night but didn't get any.  TH had to use the sprinkler to give the new plantings a good drink.  Hopefully, we'll be able to finish our planting Saturday.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Waiting for the right dates

We continue to await proper planting days.  According to the Almanac, the next day to plant will be Thursday. I am hoping to plant the majority of our garden Thursday afternoon.  My plants are needing to go out soon and I'm excited to finish filling out the garden area.

I've not counted how many plants will actually be going out into the garden but will be keeping track as I map out what variety went where and what part of the garden is dedicated to that item.  Our tomatoes will be planted too closely for keeping pure seed.  I hope after seeing which varieties do the best, next year I can focus on those varieties and do more to keep my seed pure.

TH has agreed to let me use an old metal swing set frame to use as a growing trellis for the cucumbers.  We'll place the swing set frame in the garden and then I will plant around it.  As the season progresses, I'll add more strings and directions for the vines to go.  I hope to keep the cucumbers off the ground and encourage good growth.  If this goes well, I may be out searching for old swing set frames!

We are going to continue our rows veggies next to the potatoes and onions and then the gourds and squash will be allowed to run throughout the other section of garden.  TH is planning on planting quite a bit of Hickory King Corn for use as feed and milling for corn meal.  We are still using corn meal from a few years ago and it makes really good corn bread.

TH and THB worked very hard to get the cow's pasture fence finished.  TH was able to turn the cows out into the pasture last week and they are enjoying more space to graze.  This pasture also provides them with a steady source of fresh water which is nice since TH no longer has to carry buckets of water to them.  It took a lot of hard work to clean the fence lines out enough to replace the old fence and have it capable of containing two juvenile cows.

We hope to have lots of garden pictures to share later this week!