Monday, April 1, 2013
Overwhelmingly and abundantly blessed.... I repeat these words with an attitude of gratefulness every morning as I walk through our place attempting to make sense of "the everywhere I look something needs my attention and right now" struggle and try to prioritize. I remind myself that these are all things I hoped, dreamed and prayed for and can't imagine life without.
But... all this abundance doesn't take care of itself. Nor is it without disappointment... nor my mistakes.
Yesterday morning at daybreak I doctored one of my hens and went to Easter service hiding "Blue Coat" stains on my finger tips. Believe it or not, never in over 30 years have I ever had an outbreak of poultry mites. It was a huge lesson... broke my heart to think I let it happen.... and an incredible amount of work coming at a time when we were already exhausted and overworked. And family was coming for dinner.
The Lord just opened up his hands and said here you go....
I remember an evening four years ago when a neighbor called and told me to make a place for my bees... they would be arriving at daylight. It was a surprise to me... but I took it as His gift.... because He knew what was in my heart. I got my beloved bees knowing nothing about them.... but learned very quickly and they have been such a joy and quickly multiplied.
One of the six colonies seemed unusually quiet this spring and I had come to terms with the "worst". Last week when I finally had "the time" to open it up my heart cried in anguish. They were gone... but not without leaving me their huge... incredibly awesome special gift that they had worked so hard to give me... an entire super full of thick frames of solid honey.... but because of my lack of judgment it had spent the last several months without bees to keep it from fermenting. An entire super of beautiful molded and fermented honey...
but ... after my hearts's desire whispered in His ear....
I've been waiting for two weeks for my does to kid.... I suspected one might not be pregnant... but certainly the other. They had been fed the perfect diet.... my birthing kit was ready.... I'd watched every "You Tube" video available. My husband had worked so hard to finish the new kidding pen in time.... but no babies will be bouncing around in it this year. I even slept at the barn four nights in anticipation...
my country girl's prayer....
Such lessons. A survivor at a very young age I am rarely discouraged. Today I am humbly reflecting on His grace... somehow I feel like I need forgiveness. In this picture of my grandchildren taken after Easter service yesterday, I am reminded that we are all on a journey... thankfully His grace is sufficient for each and every day... and thankfully tomorrow is another day in which I am...
Overwhelmingly and abundantly blessed....
Thursday, February 14, 2013
One of our Wild at Heart Farmgirls... Gyspy Fiddler ... is gittin' hitched today to a wonderful man so I wanted to help celebrate by making them a special farmgirl Valentine... you know... farmgirl style... making "do" with what you have.
I took a ring from a very old barrel we have... couldn't keep those rings on that old thing anymore... and bent it into a heart. I drilled two holes for the arrow to go through. For that I found an old rusty rod that came out of an old mattress woven with the coolest rusted spiraled wire. We've had it hangin' around here forever just waitin' to do something with it. Worked perfect.
I keep a pile of old tin cans out back so they can rust in the weather... love to do all kinds of things with them. I chose a small olive can size...cut the lids off both ends and flattened it on the ground with my boot.
WEAR GLOVES for this next part!!!! I cut it in half with snips about the length of a feather. I cut four angled strips on each side for feathers. The other half of the can became the arrow tip. Bend each sharp side over slightly to make sure there are no sharp edges. I actually hammered everything down real good to be sure. I did NOT flatten between the feathers .. I will warn them about those sharp parts although they really are not exposed.
To secure them to the shaft.... I hammered two small nail holes side by side into the tin at the top and bottom of the feathers and the arrow point. I cut small pieces of rusty wire about 2" long and bent them to look like fencing nails. Poke them through the holes and bend to the shaft with needle nose pliers until they stay in place.
I finished it off by adding some old dried love in a mist seed pods I keep in my greenhouse just because I love them. Soft pink looked so pretty on the rusted metal. Didn't take long at all and turned out real sweet.Last but not least... I put my darlin's tools away... it is Valentine's Day you know!
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
I love making soup... I love walking outside on a brisk morning collecting onions, herbs, kale, collard greens, and whatever else I can find in the garden in the dead of winter to add to my soup stock... I love putting it on first thing in the morning... then going about my business all the while smelling the most heavenly aromas coming from the kitchen with the added comfort of knowing dinner is, for the most part, done!
I also love saving valuable typically disgarded Thanksgiving turkey carcasses.... or leftover roast beef bones from the dog... or neck, back and ribs of a chicken... and turning them into delicious, nutritious calcium enriched soup stock. I purchase whole chickens making a meal from the legs, breasts and thighs and turn the backs, necks and ribs into a rich broth... Add any of the above to a pot of water with an onion, celery, garlic, salt and pepper, thyme springs, carrots...whatever you have! Add a tablespoon of vinegar to your broth to help pull all the very good for you calcium rich ingredients from the bone into your broth. Cook it for hours long and slow. Then cool and remove the bones. (If I'm not immediately making soup I will freeze it in glass jars being sure to leave 1" of headspace in the jar).
A pot of soup at our house never tastes the same. A couple summers ago I started dehydrating my summer surplus of vegetables.... zucchini, okra, cherry tomatoes, peppers, celery, onions, eggplant, squash.. whatever we couldn't eat fast enough. If I had beans left over after a pot of "good ole' black and pinto beans" I'd spread them on sheets and dehydrate them. Together everything went into large jars.... they were so pretty sitting on my pantry shelves. (I also keep a soup container of leftover bits of brown rice, meat or veggies in my freezer.) Add a quart of those frozen roasted tomatoes we learned how to make further down in this blog. Sweet joy is tossing a handful of your dried summer garden veggies and watching them turn your homemade soup stock into a rich, flavorful, beautiful, colorful, delicious soup. No recipe... just a little of this and a little of that all combined makes an incredible pot of soup! Simmer it all about an hour or more until thickened and the veggies have had a good chance to rehydrate. Yummm....
What was my desire to be frugal turned into a huge time saver and nutrition bonus. I must say I now cannot imagine trying to make soup without a fist full of summer veggies... and when my jars aren't quite as full as I'd like them to be... I get nervous. I think I'm hooked.
Friday, January 11, 2013
I tweeked a recipe I found in 2012 Cooks Illustrated and whipped it up in half the time it took me to make the old one (you will find it down here somewhere on this blog) and it tasted awesome. You can vary the type of nut and dried fruit, add coconut flakes (my favorite) and even a couple teaspoons of cinnamon if you like.
1/3 cup real maple syrup
Sunday, December 16, 2012
True sourdough bread can be tricky ... creating a starter is not difficult but requires patience as does learning to bake bread with whole grains. While I had pretty good luck with hearty artisian bread that was delicious thickly sliced for soup or dinner, I wasn't satisfied with any of the sandwich bread recipes I'd tried.... in fact alot of them turned into croutons and the really bad ones went to the chickens! Until! I am a long time subscriber of "Countryside" magazine and had copied a recipe years ago but had never tried. I had mashed potatoes left over from Thanksgiving and knew this recipe called for them.... it's my new favorite... tender crumb and the loaves rise well above the pan. Thank you Shawn & Beth Dougherty from "The Sows Ear" and the Queen of Minnesota farm wife Sandra Callens of "Silofence Farm".
In the morning, boil and mash enough potatoes to make 3 cups (I used mashed from Thanksgiving with cream and butter and salt and pepper and everything)
Combine in a LARGE bowl with: 6 cups warm milk, OR if fresh whey is available, 2 cups whey can be substituted for an equal amount of milk as whey is an excellent dough conditioner. (I did substitute)
Add to this: 1 cup honey or other natural sweetener (I used honey)
1/2 cup melted butter
2 tsp granulated yeast (I used SAF)
1 cup sourdough if you are using it (I did)
Sufficient freshly ground whole wheat meal to make a stiff sponge.
Sponge: You want the sponge stiff enough to stand a wooden spoon in for several seconds before it falls over but not so stiff as to be dry. All your flour is added at this time in order for the bran to absorb all the moisture it wants; if you were to skip this step you would end up adding too much flour in the next step. The sponge should be allowed to work for at least an hour but can sit overnite as long as a brief stir now and then releases carbon dioxide gas in order as not to kill the yeast. (I left mine overnite)
Finalize the dough: Add 2 Tbsps. salt and enough flour to make a workable dough. Turn it out on a floured table or countertop and knead adding flour as necessary to make the dough elastic. About 15 minutes. (I let my machine do that) Place dough in a floured bowl. Let it rest 15 minutes covered with a damp towel.
Turn out on the table and fold it in, one side at a time north, south, east and west. Invert and return to bowl covering with damp towel. Give it a good rising... until it rounds up nice under it's damp towel.
Cutting the loaves: Turn risen dough onto a floured board and cut into two-pound pieces rounding each and setting to rest for 10 minutes, covered. After the dough has rested flatten each piece to about the size of a serving platter and fold in the sides to meet in the middle and starting at the end toward you rolling up into a tight loaf, pinching the edges to seal. Place seam side down in greased loaf pans.
Allow to rise until it feels soft when poked with a finger but does not hold the dent.
Bake at 375 for "something less than an hour". The loaves sound hollow when tapped. Makes 6 loaves Enjoy!
Thursday, November 29, 2012
it outside... or wear goggles.
Your eyes will thank you. Peel
the roots and dig out any brown spots. Cut into very small pieces...mine were too big and it was hard on my blender. Grinding horseradish is like grinding... well... a tree. Add an amount your blender can safely handle. I used a Vita-Mix but a food processor or blender will work. Grating gives it a wonderful consistency but because I am harvesting my crop rather than preparing a single root I use the blender.
Add apple cider or white vinegar to almost cover the chopped root and process. I added my other ingredients while blending... it made it easier to blend.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Very... Very... Special Echinacea...
Saturday, October 6, 2012
Saturday, September 8, 2012
And she was gone..... just like that.
I suppose there's no use in explaining how it happened... no sense remembering how young she was .... no sense wondering why there was never a sign. She's gone and our hearts are breaking. I suppose we should really get it together... just can't seem to...
forever missed.....our little Shawnee Rose.....
September 20, 2006 - September 6, 2012
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Nothin' more precious than baby chicks..... and there is nothin' I appreciate more than a mama hen who loves her chicks and takes good care of them...like... instead of me.... not that I don't enjoy personally picking 'em out and bringing those tiny fluffy little cute adorable things home from the feed store...and then there's the pickin' 'em up from the post office after ordering online...it just seems so....oh... I don't know..... the best part about that was walking into the post office and immediately hearing the "peep peep peeps" echoing through the halls. I always knew what that meant.... "it's about time you got here....get us the heck out of this stinking box!"
Just the memory of keepin' them warm, fed and watered (how many times a day did I clean out that water thing) makes my grateful heart oh so big ...and then there's the cleaning out the pin thing ... and the room it takes up in my laundry room.... oh thank you mama hen.... i'm gonna have to name you.... you deserve a name...
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
This was a small section of the 400 onions I planted last spring. I knew they wouldn't make it until we got back from our vacation, so I pulled them early, even before their tops had completely dried out and fallin over. They were everywhere... During the day they cured in the shade on every screened item I could find making sure they didn't touch in order to expose each onion to the warm air so they would survive the winter. Every morning they needed to be brought from their previous night's shelter. Every evening back they went... but not before they were given the "cured" test. I would squeeze the stem where it met the onion and if it felt totally dried up and empty it got it's roots trimmed and top cut about 1" above the onion. Because I don't have a basement, into my garage refrigerator they would go until there was no more room. It was alot of work, but now almost a year later I still have plenty to make it until this year's crop comes up and is ready for the same process.
ONION SURVIVAL TIPS...
Keep an eye on them throughout the year where ever you keep them... Because there were so many in my refrigerator I realized that at one point they were on the border of freezing.... they were also creating alot of humidity which could have spoiled them if I wasn't paying attention. If that starts happening make sure to remove them and lay them out to dry out. Or... remove the ones that look vulnerable and take them into the house and use them first. Just chop a bunch up and put them in a dish to use as needed!
... Into the kitchen they go before they spoil where I dice them up and either throw them into glass containers and freeze for later use or fill up my dehydrator and dehydrate at 145 degrees for about 6 hours. You won't believe how good it smells and the result is dried minced onions for topping your casseroles, salads or whatever you like! Yes it's work but you are going to have to dice those onions up sometime!!
Monday, February 6, 2012
Friday, November 4, 2011
This poem prefaces photos in an album I created years ago when we remodeled our home... the picture was a gift from a precious friend and it says it all...
Without love a house is just a house... a ceiling, walls and floor… but fill that house with faith and love and it becomes much more.
A house is where your dreams come true for love abides, you see... and love makes a house a home... regardless of pedigree.
Home is a shelter from the storms of life and sanctuary too... for loved ones wait behind the door to hug and comfort you.
It’s a home where God is honored and the Bible’s often read and there the children seek him before they go to bed.
Home may be a simple shanty beneath the stars above, but blessed are those who dwell within a house that’s built with love.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
We had barely gotten here when one of our neighbors a mile up the road told us of her harrowing experience going to bed one night recently. As her head hit the pillow she heard something banging on the outside wall above her head and looked up into the eyes and face of a huge black bear, paws outstretched on both sides of the window she had just closed. Hummm….
Another neighbor brought his shotgun over for me to keep until the boys get back from their trip.. just in case I need it…says bears have been a problem this year… dang… that’s the second time I’ve heard that and only been here less than 24 hours.
And if that’s not enough… nicknamed… the “Kila Pack”…. a pack of large grey wolfs is putting everyone here on high alert. Typically, the sound of a far off wolf call and the news that bear and moose scat is found on our property are great news to us….one of the reasons we love where we are… nothin’ more than a “heads up” to pay attention while we’re outside working … would have preferred this news another year. So… I work outside in this beautiful place with my bear spray in my back pocket… just in case and know the boys have guns and spray.
Quite frankly… I’m more concerned about whatever it is that’s living in the walls of my cabin…
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Montana is especially beautiful this August…. lots of late snow this year is keeping grasses green and rivers, streams and lakes crystal blue and full to the brim. Tomorrow I will drive my husband and his brother 1 ½ hours north to Rooseville, British Columbia and drop them off at the Canadian Border where they will begin their 15 day mountain bike trek along the Great Divide crossing the Continental Divide 5 times until they reach the southern border of Polaris, Montana.
Today we drove the 20 miles into town to replace our “expired” bear spray canisters. After all the hiking up here thankfully, we’ve never had to use one…only rehearsed it in our minds. So today, using what was left of an expired canister, we actually discharged the thing (did you know they actually kick back?) … now all they have to worry about is holding on to the dang thing while they’re shaking in their boots in front of an angry grizzly bear about to mess their pants. Actually, that would be me.
The two of them are busy packing exchanging gun holsters for food items finalizing last minute items and checking their maps for their 550 mile mountain bike trek. I even heard one of them firing his gun out back to be sure the new pin he had replaced worked ok.
8-16-2011... 11:30 a.m. Here we are at the border of Canada. It has taken about an hour to get everything rigged up and "Spots", GPS's points and maps and all that technology... I just wish they got an earlier start... they have a lot of climbing to do and only a short amount of time to do it in.