Thursday, April 17, 2014

Just Do It

I really have to wonder how long it will take me to get a grip on the seasons here. So far the springs that we've spent here have all been really different from year to year.  Of course being from the Texas Hill country just having to wait until at least the middle of April to plant most things is pretty unnatural to me.  There really isn't much down there that can't be started by mid-March whereas here in the NE part of Oklahoma the only things you are pretty safe in getting in the ground are things like broccoli and cabbage and onions.

 Year before last we had a really early spring and had all sorts of things started that went on to do real well.  Last year we were chomping at the bit and hand quite a bit planted planted around the end of March and the first part of April.  It was also the year that we had one of those late frosts that surprised everyone by happening twice in the first week of May.  By that time I'd already had the tomatoes set out.  We were able to cover all the tomatoes by paying attention to the weather forecasts and didn't loose any.  This year is yet again a different story.  I'd planted 32 or so tomatoes a week ago.  Up pops a freeze warning Monday night and Tuesday morning.  So we drug out all the coffee cans, butter dishes, and odd and end planters to cover the tomatoes again on Monday afternoon anticipating the freeze.  It must have gotten quite a bit colder than the forecast called for because we lost every single one of the tomato plants.  It almost made me sick to my stomach.  I had bought the tomato plants and they had been in the ground for a few days. I'm not sure which hurt worse, the loosing of the tomato plants or having felt like all that money was just wasted.  Granted it was only about $12.00 but it's money that we can't spend again until the first of the month.  If  I don't do it though  we won't have tomatoes this summer.  Another thought I had was that if I want to have late summer/fall tomatoes from seed it's time to get those seed started in the greenhouse in a few days.  I don't mind that since I was going to do it anyway. Learning from last year there are a few things I need to make more of and some I don't need to make nearly as much of.  And of course there is always something new I'd like to try my hand at. Anyway....  it looks like I'll have to jiggle the money around and pick up some more plants after the first of the month.

 Stuff happens!  It's the perfect example of why I don't advocate buying those ready-made seed vaults.  If you think that having one put back in your preps with the thought that if SHTF I'll just grow a garden and you've never gardened before, you are deluding yourself. First off many seeds will loose their viability after a year or two.  Some may be good a bit longer but it's not something I would want to be counting on in an emergency situation.  Along with that there can be quite a learning curve in growing a garden. Trust me, every year can vary wildly from the year before. The more you do it the better chance you have of having a good garden.  Besides that, folks don't always think about the time from planting to harvesting averages out to at least a couple of months for many vegetables. Even then there are no guaranties that you'll have food from the garden.

So this year, if you've never tried planting a garden why not start now? Don't have a space for a garden?  Why not try growing in containers?  Do you like fresh salads?  Pick up a cherry tomato plant to grow on your patio.  Start some lettuce in a flower pot.  Maybe plant a cucumber plant in a five gallon bucket. I like to call them  salad gardens. Besides there is just something special about eating something you grew yourself.

Friday, April 11, 2014

What a Week!

It's hard to believe it's been almost a week since I was here last.  We've been having some awesome weather despite the dang wind.  Already I feel like I'm way behind.  The garden has been the focus for most of the week.  I've been pulling weeds to get ready to plant and Mars is getting all the drip-lines in working order.  Maybe next winter we could cover the rows to keep the weeds out. I don't have a clue if that would work so I'll have to do a little research. We've got our purple hull peas in the ground.  Since they are one of our favorite legumes we decided to do an entire row.  The potatoes are in the ground too.  I've got a few onions in the ground but still need to plant the other two sets.
   Mars has been wanting Celebrity tomatoes but we could never find them here.  He came home with 24 plants.  I really wanted to plant some tomatoes that are indeterminate. The Celebrity's are determinate.  Anyway, they are planted now.  I found some indeterminate  heirlooms and picked up eight of them.  Got home and ready to plant them when I took the plant info stick and realized that what I thought were the heirlooms the dang things were Celebrity. *sigh*  I was going to take them back and exchange them but Mars told me to  go on and plant them.  Not like we don't have the room for them.  Long story short (yeah right) I now have 32 Celebrity tomatoes and 8 of the heirlooms in the ground. I'm sure I'll be regretting it in a couple of months. 
We are now on track with the rabbits after pretty much replacing all the older ones.  I can't remember if I told you about the new buck.  He's a black New Zealand!  I never knew they were any color than white!  He's also the daddy of 6 baby bunnies! 
 A little while back I had put Rabbit #3 with him.  He was willing and able so I walked to the other side of the barn and all the sudden there was major turmoil. I turned the corner and the doe was trying to kick his butt. Without thinking I stuck my hand in there to grab her and danged if I didn't get bit! I grabbed her and took her back to her home.  It seemed like she just got really mean after that.
  Well yesterday morning I went to feed and found her pulling hair.  That's a real tip off that she's getting ready to have babies. It also explains why all the sudden I had a demon bunny on my hands.

I've only got one nesting box so I had to move Little Mama and her babies to another cage, cleaned it out and got up the nerve to move the Psycho Rabbit. Mars is finally going to get to eat rabbit after almost 3 years.   So now we wait... 

There is still one row in the upper garden to weed and all of the lower garden to do.  So if you don't hear from me for awhile I've probably keeled over in the garden.  Face down and covered with weeds!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

30 Minute Rolls

We got the most awesome surprise in the mail yesterday. My mom and Sandy (my step-dad) had ordered us some things from Omaha Steaks! Filet Mignon  and ground beef patties!  If you're wondering about the hamburger patties it's because a couple of years ago they had set us a "Sampler Kit"  (I KNOW that's probably not what it's actually called but you get the idea!) that included ground beef patties.  They are some of the best hamburgers  I've ever had and we enjoyed the heck out of them.  So yesterday, for the life of me I couldn't figure out "why" they had sent them.  Until I read the enclosed note which read 
"Happy Homestead! 
We are so happy for y'all. Thought you should feast to celebrate. (Just add your favorite whatever ;). 
Love y'all, Mom and Sandy"
Now you tell me  wasn't that one of the most thoughtful things in the world to do?  So we feasted on grilled Filet Mignon, stuffed baked potato's, salad and homemade 30 minute rolls. Nice, very nice.
  I've been saying I was going to make these rolls for over a year now and never did get around to it until yesterday. I'll definitely be making them again.  My friend from West Virginia had given the recipe to me and told me just how easy (not to mention good) they are to make. I don't know where she had originally seen the recipe and it wasn't on  the copy of the recipe.  I tried searching it and came up with several the were pretty much the same so... Thanks to whoever you are for originally sharing this recipe.  These are fast and really easy!

30 Minute Rolls

1 C plus 2 Tbsp warm water
1/3 C oil
2 Tbsp yeast
1/4 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
3 1/2 C bread flour (seems to work better but all purpose flour will also work)
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
In your mixer bowl combine the water, oil, yeast and sugar and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.  Using your dough hook, mix in the salt, egg and flour.  Knead with hook until will incorporated and dough is soft and smooth. (Just a few minutes)
Form dough into 12 balls and then place in a greased 9 x 13 pan and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees or until golden brown.

And there you have it. There are only a couple of things I would probably do differently.  There was enough dough that I easily made 14 instead of 12 rolls.  I also had to cook these about 17 minutes but I'm sure that's because of the oven and it's little "ticks".

In any case I'll be sure to make these again.  Try them.  You might be really surprised at just how yummy (not to mention easy) these rolls are. 
A perfect accompaniment to an awesome steak dinner.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Is it Spring Yet?

 Sorry about no pictures for this post.  Yet again we've exceeded our bandwidth limit and our service has been throttled back.  Shoot it took me longer to load this page than it did to write the post! Trying to load a picture is pure torture. 

Between the weather and tight finances this past month try as we might we are seemingly running behind with the garden. We got potatoes and a few onion sets planted. Every effort in the greenhouse failed and so I'll be trying again this week. Heck it's almost time to just start seedlings in the ground. It's all due to not having heat in there yet.  Honestly I just haven't felt worth a darn lately.  I won't go into it because really who wants to hear someone whining?

Anyway.... We need to order some parts for the watering system.  Splicers and stuff.  That's on the list for this month.  Most of it will have to be done before we can actually plant in some of the rows. I've been studying the gardening guide for our area again and realized that even if we miss some of the planting this spring we still have another shot at it for fall garden. Of course that is all depending on the weather.  It seems like its been a crap shoot with it. It seems like every year we've been here the weather has been nuts.

It's also time for the lawnmower to come out of the barn for some maintenance. Things are starting to green up.  And every year it seems like something needs to be worked on and parts ordered. I've got my fingers crossed it won't need a new battery.  Gas is needed for it and the tiller. Every year we go through this. It's to be expected and its a good thing that Mars is quite handy with that sort of thing. As a matter of fact he's really handy with a ton of things. Bless his heart, I hate that I can't help much. 

The little red hen went broody last week.  I caught her off the nest this morning and got to count nine eggs.  Not bad!  Last year I had two hens sitting on one nest.  It was kind of funny in a way because once the chicks hatched they kind of shared them.

One of the sweetest of my rabbits had seven baby bunnies last week. FINALLY!  Don't let anyone tell you all rabbits will breed like...well... rabbits.  What I ended up doing was pretty much start all over.  I gave Bucky another chance at breeding.  Nothing, nada, zilch. I figure he's sterile.  I'm getting him fattened up before we send him off to the freezer. The new buck is now proven.  I don't remember if I told you about The Rabbit Lady giving me back the doe I traded off.  So I've ended up now with four does.  I'll probably make some rabbit stew with at least one of them. There's really no need for having that many does at the moment.  It just not worth the feed bill.  We'll see how things work out though.

So that's about all of the news around here right now.  It's finally time to get up and out of the house. Now if the weather would just try and cooperate.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

We're Debt Free!!!

I haven't mentioned anything about the land being paid off since I hinted at it last month.  I wanted to wait until I had the actual paperwork in my hands.  I've never really felt like it was truly ours and until I had the deed in my hand I knew I wouldn't.  I know we've been paying on it but someone else was holding the deed. I just never  really felt like it was ours.  I know that sounds kind of silly but that's the way I've felt for the past three years.

 Well, guess what came in the mail this week!  We officially own our place.  I am feeling like I'm on the top of the world every since we got the deed..  Even my back problems seem small today! I walk outside and look all around me and still think "Wow, this is OURS"  No one can take it from us.  A lifelong dream has been realized.   I've wanted a place to call home for most of my life.  No renting no mortgages. A place that was mine, that no one could ever take away. I walked around the property today in between rain showers and everything looks so different to me now.We owe nothing to anyone.  And we did it on  $11,000 a year and the preps we brought from Austin. We are officially LAND OWNERS!

Let the games begin!