Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012

2012 Pictures

Wood from downed cedar trees. Bonus! 
The chicken coop is finished Notice the cedar posts?

We found a washing machine and use the water for watering 
Our first baby chicks
Coco the Loco Kitty
Still Loco
Stewie, Dumplin' and friends. Dinner any?     

Bountiful garden

Lots of good eats
Cherokee Beans 

Habernero  Peppers

Hot Pepper Jelly
Pears from the neighbors made wonderful Pear Honey, preserves and slices

And canning....

and canning....

And canning! 
The drought was horrible on many folks this year.  We were "tinder box" dry.
Creek County Wildfire was stopped less than a mile from here
The Wreck
Thank you my friends!
And the sun sets on 2012. 
Here's to hoping you all have a wonderful New Year

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Last Weekend of 2012 (And we are still here)

I wish I could say that I've been so busy around here that I haven't had a chance to sit down and write.  Things have slowed down to a crawl around here with winter coming on.  This was an interesting month for weather around here for sure. It was warm right up until a couple of days before Christmas. 

Mars was on a mission to finish the interior walls on the barn before it got cold.  He did a great job with it.  He's fired up the wood stove and it gets pretty nice in there.  I can see why he wanted it finished.  This RV gets really really small in the winter time and the barn is now a good place to escape.  He's got tons of projects lined up. I don't even ask what he's up to anymore.  At least I'm usually pleasantly surprised with what he comes up with.

I've been trying to get things re-organized and clutter cleaned out.  That's another thing about living in a small place.  Things go from clutter to full blown disaster much quicker.  Counter space is prime real estate around here and sometimes I feel like I should be pushing a shopping cart like a bag lady. 

The hen that was sitting on a big bunch of eggs decided that she was tired of sitting.  So she got up, stretched her legs, got a drink of water and a big meal.  And didn't go back.... Danged if she was only a week shy of them hatching.  Maybe she knows something I don't? 

Mars put together a really good soup for dinner last night.  He took the carcass of the chicken left from Christmas Dinner and tossed it in the pressure cooker. He made a nice chicken broth and then started adding dehydrated ingredients.  It was fun watching him look through all the dried foods and build a nice solid chicken, rice and veggie soup.  The chicken was actually the only thing that wasn't dehydrated. Really tasty meal with some thick sliced bread! He did use up the last of the onions I'd dried from the garden which means we really need to look at planting much more this coming season.  We are both crazy about onions and it seems like we use them in more meals than not. From using the things we grew this summer I can see the things that we need to grow more of next year.  Like onions. And Carrots And... well you get the idea!

Speaking of the coimng season this is the perfect time of the year to start planning your spring garden.  I know I need to do an inventory of what seed we have and what we need.  I also need to make a list of things I'd like to try.  With the amount of garden space we have one of the plans is to suppliment as much feed for the critters that we can. Of course this is just in the "thought" phase at the moment.  I'll have to budget the groceries for the next couple of months to include some seed purchases.  That's the only part of the budget that I can wiggle just a bit.  Sometimes I wish there was such a thing as a seed fairy!! LOL!

I wish I could say that I've been busy and just haven't had time to write.  Honestly I think it's just that time of year. I have all sorts of things that need to be done yet the energy it takes to get them done has been eluding me.  None of them are really large projects in themselves but I can't seem to accomplish much this past month or so. I think it has something to do with the lack of sunshine.  That's what I'm blaming it on anyway!

Christmas around here was quiet.  We didn't exchange gifts.  The money was better used to pay the land taxes.  We had a really nice dinner and waited for the snow. The weatherman had been hyping up the chances of snow so much that I was just SURE we would have a white Christmas.  Errr..... they got the cold right but the snow was mainly to the south and east. We didn't see a single snowflake. BUT...  Yesterday while I was out feeding the critters I looked up and saw a bit of a snow falling.  Tiny snow flakes turned into huge fluffy flakes for about an hour.  It was just enough to dust everything and was gone inside an hour.  It was fun while it lasted though.  I'm still like a kid around snow.  Of course I've never dealt with it on the same level as many of you.  I admire those of you who can take it all in stride.  I will probably always be awed at snowfall and the glorious way the sun reflects off it. Like tiny diamonds strewn across the land.  Can you see this Texan trying to to talk herself into liking winter yet???  LOL Now that's truly a work in progress.

             Have a weekend folks.... It's the last one of 2012!!     

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas From The Family

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas around here if I didn't listen to Robert Earl Keen.  I hope you all have a wonderful time with your friends and family.... From Us to YOU!

Merry Christmas to my big ol' Blogger Family!!!!

(P.S. I promise this link works!)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chicken Question +


  We've been trying to catch up on all those things that we couldn't get to this summer.  It's funny, this spring and summer I was so busy with the garden and putting up all those wonderful goodies that I was actually happy that it was over.  It was all worth it though.  We have been enjoying all kinds of beans and peas and assorted goodies that I put up this summer.  It really makes you feel good when you can sit back and enjoy the fruits (or beans) of your labor.  And now that I've had a bit of time to rest up, I can hardly wait to start it all over again in the spring!

Interior Barn Wall and Door Going up
Mars has been working on the barn again. He's had the material to finish putting up the interior walls and the door for awhile but hasn't had time to get to it until now. This is one of those winter time jobs. Things to do in the "man cave" on a rainy day I suppose.   He's got all sorts of things he wants to do around here. It seems the list of things to do never really gets any shorter.

Sunset on the Hillside
We got the last of the fence up for the goats and now Mars just needs to build the gates and the goat shed and install some barb wire along the top. Without a truck to be able to haul lumber and supplies much has had to be put on hold this year. I guess I never really thought about it before as we have always had a truck. It is frustrating not having one. And of course there is the guilt I still feel about wrecking the dang thing. There is always something coming up that would be a breeze to do except you can't haul it in the car. One day we want to replace the upper part of the cab and the windshield. Of course first we'll have to find another truck. It shouldn't be hard to find another cab since the cabs are all the same from about 89-93. Coming up with the money to do it is quite another thing.The truck still runs like a champ though and the Cummins Diesel motor still has a half a million miles to go. We use it around the homestead but it's not road ready yet for sure All in good time I suppose. 

Heating water for Rooster Dunking!
Of course life has to jump in and take over sometimes. Like the washing machine going out. I'm blessed to have a man that can take on most any task and get it done. Sometimes it just takes on a life of its own though. The other morning I went out to start a load of clothes. Things were going fine until I started smelling burning rubber. It seems that one of the belts on the old Maytag needed to be replaced. I won't go into all the gory details but lets just say that I've been to the parts place three times to exchange the belt. It's still not right. I'll have to go
into town and try it again now that Mars has figured out what is going on under there. I'll have to spend a couple of days catching up on the laundry if he can get the old girl working again. It sure beats the alternative though.  If I never have to step into another laundry mat it would suit me just fine!

I bred the new doe (or thought I did) last month and waited... and waited.... Nope. No babies. I'm starting to get discouraged but rabbits are such a big part of what we want to do. I refuse to give up until I get this thing right! It's been over a year and all I've done is feed rabbits every day. Sure they are cute and all that but cute's not cutting it! LOL 

Notice the excess eggs?
I'll be danged if one of my hens has gone broody. All the other hens go into her nesting box every day and leave more eggs. She's trying so hard to cover them all up but it doesn't look like she can spread out much farther. I saw another hen in there with her today that seemed to want to stay with her.

 I checked them later and sure enough the little white(ish) hen was in the box and the broody mama was stretching her legs and grabbing a bite to eat. ETA of baby chickens..... Dec 28. Her timing SUCKS. 
"Thanks for helping"

I think the little white(ish) might be going broody too. Maybe between the two of them they can come up with some baby chicks. Heaven knows there's plenty of eggs to sit on. I need to go get a light fixture and a timer for the chickens and Mars will hook it all up for me. There's just enough wire left to reach over there. It's going to have to wait until payday though.

 We "dispatched" the last of the roosters today. They are now in their new home. It's got great air conditioning!! LOL

 I've got a question for you chicken people out there. Do you think these chickens will have to be stewed or pressure cooked? They are/were 8 months old and lived in the chicken pen/coop. What do you think? Will they be tough?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Lighten up, It's Christmas

I've been so upset and angry for so long that I've been unable (or maybe its unwilling) to post here as often as I should.  You can fill in whatever subject you like because these days it seems most everything I hear in the news makes me ill.   I keep thinking I have much to say about things yet when I sit to write...  nothing happens.  SO I have decided that for the rest of this year I'm going to try to stop stressing over the outside world.  I mean, it's only a couple of weeks.... what could possibly go wrong?

And so on that note I will leave you today with my very favorite Pre- Christmas Bacon and Eggs Tradition.....  Give it a listen because if there ever was a time to LIGHTEN UP IT'S CHRISTMAS!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Winter Has Arrived

Sky Pic for Kymber 
It may not be official but I'm here to tell you that Winter has arrived here in Northern Oklahoma.  We've been down in the teens and low 20's for the past couple of days. The memories of the hard work of  summer have faded (sorta) and once more it's time to dream of a new year.  My winter sweaters have been found and are now officially in use until Spring.

The first of the seed catalogs arrived this week.  I just love reading seed catalogs.  Dreaming about some new variety of vegetable to try is always fun when you are spending more time in the house.  Let the drooling begin!!  I swear I could (and have) spent hours reading seed catalogs.  Over the next couple of months we'll be going over our seed inventory.  There are still some seeds that I'm sure I'll be wanting to order.  This coming year, one of my goals is to learn to be a better seed saver.  I'll admit to being a litle lax with it this year and also admit to feeling a little guilty about it.  I'm blaming it on my learning curve this time.  The trouble with using that excuse is that you can really only use it once.  Next year there won't be as easy an excuse.  Hey... I'm just sayin'....  If you would like a list of free catalogs from heirloom and open pollinated seeds here's a few to get you started. 

We got the rabbits moved to their winter quarters in the barn.  I know it sounds silly but I think they actually were trying to tell me thanks for the new digs!  I'll know by the end of the week if the new doe will have a litter this month.  I have to be one of the worse rabbit raisers in the world.  I've been trying for over a year to have at least one litter that makes it past a couple of days.  It's disheartening really to have spent so much time trying for results, but I will NOT give up. This is something I've been wanting to do for so long and truth be told I've really grown a bit attached to the boys.  OH! I never told you what I named the new doe.  Her name is Gladys. Do you remember the nosy neighbor that lived across the street from Samantha and Darren?  Yes, I'm talking about Bewitched.  Didn't everyone watch that show???  She's always busy watching what everyone else is doing and seems to enjoy the drama as it unfolds each day.

I've been trying to stock up on baking goods and other seasonal things that are on sale through the holidays. Sometimes I really miss not having a printer just because  I don't have a way to print out coupons. We don't get the Sunday paper here either.  It kind of sucks but what are ya gonna do?  The best you can!  That's what my dad's always said anyway and so far it's worked out for me.  Maybe I should talk to She Chef and have her send me some of her extras!  I did run into a great sale on whole bone-in pork sirloin roast at $0.99 a pound this week.  I picked up 4 really nice roasts and just had to try out a new recipe yesterday.  It turned out amazing.  I'll try to get the recipe posted up this week if anyone is interested.

Until next time.....

P.S.  Did you know that tomorrow the date on the calendar will be 12-12-12 and that this type of date won't happen again for a LONG LONG time.  Hmmm.... and tomorrow twice the time and date will be 12-12-12  12:12.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Dehydrating Carrots

What do you do when you run across a good grocery deal?   "Grab it if you can!" has always been my motto!  Last week I ran across one of those awesome deals on carrots.  This was one of those in-store deals that I just love.  With 5 of their store tokens- one of the weekly deals was a 2lb bag of carrots for $0.50.  I had enough tokens for 6 bags. These are the kind of deals I wait for! I really only needed one bag for "now" but at that price how could I pass them up?? So what to do with 10 "extra" pounds of carrots?  It was time to pull out the dehydrator and put some up!

   Drying carrots is easy.  First you'll need to cut them up into whatever "shape" you want.  This time I sliced them with the food processor.  The slices are a little thin but they are uniform in size.  Size matters when you are drying foods!  The more uniform in size they are the more evenly they will dry.

  Carrots need to be blanched or steamed for a few minutes.  This retains the color and the nutritional value.  Have you ever wondered what would happen if you somehow forgot to do this step?  Well wonder no more because I just so happen to have a picture. (Don't ask!!)

Lets just say I had a few moments of blondness when I was doing that batch on the left last year.  Hey it makes for a good "Do as I say, not as I do"  moment doesn't it?   My dad would be SO proud!! LOL

Anyway.... I decided to steam the carrots since I had 10 pounds to process.  It just takes less time to steam them than to toss them off in the pot a few at a time to blanch. I don't have to wait for the water to come back to a boil for each new batch this way.  I let them steam for 4-5 minutes and plunged them in cold cold water to stop the cooking process.

After I got them all cut and steamed I laid them out on my dryer trays. You want to place a single layer on each tray.  It doesn't matter as much if they are touching on the trays, you just don't want them more than one layer thick.  Set the dehydrator to 135 and dry til crisp.  Store in a cool dark place. I put most of my dried foods in jars but a ziplock baggie works too.  

Since I used my food processor to cut up the carrot slices I ended up with the top part of the carrots left over.  I also cut some of the bottoms of the carrots because they were so skinny.  These I will blanch and then flash freeze.  I'll use them in roasts, stews or soups.  
Isn't it amazing that you can put up 10 pounds of carrots in a couple of jars??  Oh, just a side note about the first picture... notice that blue lid on the pint jar?  That is a Kraft mayonnaise jar lid.  They fit tight and work well on wide mouth jars.