Saturday, May 31, 2014

Time Out (Again)

We got a ton of rain this week.  May is usually a rainy month (or so they tell me)  I think we got an entire month's rain in just a couple of days. 

The garden seems to have loved it.  Things are growing like crazy.  Today I was able to get out there and try to work on the weeds because apparently they loved all the rain too.  

I'm just now able to get out there and get some weeding done.   

So what does it do late this afternoon?  Yup, rained like crazy for about 15 minutes.  It'll be a few more days before I'm able to walk out there again.
I've been reseeding places where things didn't come up.  The turnips didn't make much of an appearance so I'll need to re-plant those along with a couple of other things. I've been wanting to plant herbs in some of the bald spots but that's going to have to wait until it dries out some too.

Everything  is looking good for the most part except for the squash bugs. Yeah, they are back.  I can't tell you how much I'm beginning to hate them.  I've also been trying to keep close eyes on them.  The dreaded squash bug has found its target.  I've been checking all the leaves and scraping off eggs, smashing the dang bugs and laying down some more Eight.  It's a merry go round with the dang things. Sometimes I feel like I'm fighting a loosing battle but I will keep trying till I get some dang squash! Only problem now is that it's to wet to get to them without having my shoes sucked off my feet by the mud.  We really need to get some kind of mulch down, at least something in the walk paths.  It's tough not having a truck though.  I can only get two bales of straw/hay in the car at a time.  We need much more than that!

I've had to rearrange the rabbits to accommodate the babies.  The first litter will be ready for butchering in the next week or so. 

I need the space for at least one more litter before it gets too hot. The last litter started at 12 and we are down to 4 babies left. Something like diarrhea struck and it struck hard on this litter. Not to mention the ones that got squished.  I need to get something to have on hand should it happen again. I cleaned out the cage and the nesting box real good and put in fresh straw after I scrubbed everything down. The remaining four seem to be doing ok. 
  Since I've never had any luck OR any babies to deal with I'm still a raw rookie.  I refuse to give up on them.  They are generally easy to raise and easy to butcher.  Besides, I like rabbits!

With food prices skyrocketing and forecast to rise  dramatically  this year it's so very important to try to somehow stay afloat.   Do a search on food price increases over the next couple of months and you will find all kinds of articles on what lays ahead.  We are already feeling it here.  This is a big reason for raising the rabbits, as well as the garden.

And then there's the chickens....
The four hens and the Roo are driving me nuts.  We just went through them molting and then two went broody.  We started getting two eggs a day for awhile.  Now the ones that were laying are back to being broody as well as the "loner" .  She's the low hen on the totem pole and hasn't moved off her nest in weeks.  I'm about ready to start all over again.  It ticks me off that I'm still having to buy eggs AND buy feed for them.  It's always something....  lol

I am the perfect example of a rookie trying to become more self reliant.  At least I am learning.  Just think if/when SHTF and I was starting from scratch how far behind the eight ball I'd be!

Prep on folks, what you learn now might keep you from starving one day. Add to that what you purchase today I guarantee will only be higher in the coming months.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

I cannot find the words to express my deep gratitude to those who gave all so folks like me could live free. You are not forgotten.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

DIY Pour Spout For Mason Jars

I ran across an interesting idea somewhere.  I can't remember if it was on Face Book or Pinterest so I can't give a h/t for the great idea.

You know those cartons that have the pour sprouts on them?  Like on orange juice cartons? Well I found an excellent use for them and it's super simple to do. 

Take an empty carton and open it up. (notice the markdown? Yet another cheap frugal item lol) Get a pair of scissors and cut  the part of the  that has the pour spout on it. 

Then you trim around the edges of the pour spout using the jar rim as a template.  Grab a ring and put it on snugly.  That's it.  Now you have a pour spout  on your jar!  It makes it so much easier to pour from a jar. I use it for my DIY French Vanilla Coffee Creamer.  Pretty neat, huh?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Question For Ya'll?

Kitty Cake
   Well, it looks like most of the garden is in.  I've got a few bald spots where things just didn't come up and I that I think I'll stick some herbs in there today and see how it goes.  
   I've also noticed that on each end of every row  there is a bit of space where nothing is planted.  It has to do with the irrigation system I suppose.  I've been thinking I might have just found some spots to try and start some flowers after all!  I'm not sure they'll all get enough water but a girl's gotta try.  Especially since my flower beds have been hijacked!!
    I have to admit though that the garlic is looking really good and the lettuce is at least a mix of seeds with varying colors and textures. Besides I see some volunteer flowers here and there anyway.  And since I'm in charge of weeding at the moment there is no way I'm going to pull them up.  lol
   Well enough rambling for today. The winds have died down enough that I can get out there in the garden and do some plant dusting.  Something is eating my beans.  Well they are actually cutting the plant  off at the stem.  I have no idea what is doing it so I'm going to try a dusting of Eight and see if that helps. I've been reseeding the areas they are messing with. Mostly beans but they have also done the same to a couple of pepper plants.
    Any ideas out there as to what just cuts the stem and leaves the leaves of the plants just laying there beside it?  And if so, what can I do to treat it?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tuesday Ramblings

From looking around the blogosphere it seems that many of us are busy at the moment.  Lots of things to get done this time of year.  I got the second of the new rows planted this past weekend. I was surprised Mars "let" me plant what I wanted in it.  I suppose he just didn't want to hear me fuss about what all I didn't get a chance to plant. For some reason it's nagging on me, there seems to be things I should have planted but didn't.  Of course that doesn't mean flowers.

This year Mars pretty much has most of my three tiny flower beds spoken for. How I managed to let that happen I just don't know.  To be fair though, one of them has always had herbs in it anyway, and that didn't change.  Then there's the one that has garlic in it.  It should be ready to harvest sometime soon so maybe I can find something that is more of a summer/fall flower.  And then there's the nice bed he worked up for me a couple of years ago.  It's not very big but still much more roomy than either of the other two.  It's got 10 strawberry plants in the back. They aren't looking too good though.  They are starting to brown around the edges of some of the leaves.  I'm not sure what's going on with that.  I HAVE been pinching off the flowers as they come on though in hopes of a better show next year.  The rest of the space is filled with a mixed lettuce blend.  As a matter of fact we had our first green salad with our own lettuces night before last.

I don't think I mentioned it before but Mars has put in three new 100 ft rows this year with plans for one more when we can afford to get some fittings for the drip lines.  So that (along with the bottom garden) gives us a bit over 5000'.  I know it sounds like a lot, and it is, but I believe the reason behind it is solid. If you were watching the news this past week you might have seen the article about the increase in food costs for April was a whopping 2.6% and there is no end in sight for extreme prices to come down. 

Food storage is becoming more and more important as prices rise at an alarming rate.  Think of it as a tangible asset.  What you can put back now will only increase in value. You can't argue with that logic.

Mars has decided to try growing corn again this year with some of the seed my Dad sent.  We are "kind of" leaning toward the 3 Sisters method in the lower garden.  We've planted butter beans this past week and had the corn in about 3 weeks ago. We also transplanted some volunteer squash from last year.  The corn had a 99% germination rate. Pretty cool.  The corn has been in the family for many years so I think that's pretty awesome in and of itself!

We lost a few tomato plants and are down to 21 now.  I looked in Tiny Town for some 6-packs but all they have are the bigger ones at $3.59 per plant.  No way am I going to pay that much for a single plant!  I'll be starting some seeds today and hope for the best for some fall tomatoes.  We'll see how it goes.

All the rows are planted now.  I think I'm going to fill in spots where nothing came up with different herbs and see how that works.  It looks like I've only got 2-3 cilantro plants that came up and none of my dill came up.  I've said it over and over though, I cannot seem to grow herbs. *sigh*  OH, that reminds me I planted several lemon basil plants last year and they did really well.  I was out weeding and noticed there are bunches of volunteer's coming up.  Someone told me that planting basil with tomatoes will keep away the hornworms.  I'm going to see if it will work with the lemon basil.  No harm no foul right?  Another surprise in the garden this year is that the marigolds I planted with the tomatoes last year came back on their own!  I'll leave them where they are but did plant more marigolds in the tomato row this year again.  I don't know if it was just blind luck last year planting them together but I had no problems at all with bugs on the tomatoes.  We'll see...

Well I suppose I've rambled on long enough. Time to get back out there and pull some weeds.  I'm trying to weed one row a day with the hope that I'll be able to keep up with them. With 12 rows and the "flower beds" I'm not sure I'll be able to get to them all without bunches of weeds trying to beat me on this venture.
Have fun with your gardening and if it just gets to be "too much" work remember that you are growing tangible assets.
Ya'll take care!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Day Late

 My Papa used to say "A Day late and a dollar short".  That's what this post is today.  Well not a dollar short but....  I'm not starting all over again.  Geesh I'd  never get a post up.   Anyway...

I hope everyone had a good weekend.  Around here we had really nice weather if you don't count the wind.  I couldn't believe just how hard the sustained wind was blowing.  It was probably around 25-30mph for most of the day. It was gusting at least 40mph and maybe more than that. I felt like I was back home on Galveston Island with those winds.

Check out the rocks

Why am I talking about the wind?   Well Mars and I were taking a break from the garden, sitting in the shade with big glasses of ice tea.  All of the sudden there was  a HUGE bang.  I kid you not! A  gust of wind had blown over the rabbit hutches.  I'm talking about completely blew it over, including the stands.  We use some old tin on top of the hutches (for shade) and very large rocks to hold the "roof" on too. 
 Shoot I know how heavy just the  hutches are, much less the 3 stands.  We were moving them out of the barn and into their summer spot just the day before. I can barely help him move them. The big nesting box he made is super heavy on its own. Not to mention about 25 rabbits involved.

Well I was on my feet in an instant thinking "Oh Cr*p I hope the babies are ok."  We got every thing right back up and all the babies were fine. Poor Gladys got a busted nose during the fall.  She looks better now.  I'm just glad that was the only injury.  
This is her first litter and she's turning out to be an excellent mother.  She had a huge litter too. 12 babies in all.  

Unfortunately we've lost 2 of them. I think she must have stepped on one from what I could tell. But the 10 that have made it are all pretty sturdy.  Even the runt isn't a tiny baby.  I've read several places that anything larger than 7 or 8 and the mama can't feed them all.  So I'm real proud of her.  She takes care of them all.
I still can't believe that the wind actually pushed over the entire  hutch. 

 Stands and all!


Anyway.... I sort of got off topic! (no, really??  Did someone say squirrel?? ) 

Let's get back to what I wanted to tell you in the first place.  We were at The Evil Empire picking up a couple of things Friday afternoon. The stuff we needed was in the back of the store so we parked out near where they had fruit and shade trees.    They were mostly crispy and leafless.  They had a few fruit trees left and had the price knocked down to $9.97. Not much of a deal for dead and dying trees. We went over to check them out and saw a few that might be saved if they got in the ground soon.  We found a couple of plum trees that looked like they actually might make it. 

 Mars told me I should go find the garden center manager and see if she would mark a couple of them down even further.  See if she might make a deal on a couple of them.  Long story short (yeah right, huh?)  She didn't have a problem with marking the two plum trees we wanted down to $5 each.  

We thought the two we got would be just fine if we could get them in the ground soon and baby them.  It must be a karma kind of thing because  1)We've been wanting plum trees long before all this and   2)Mars had already started getting ready to transplant a couple of Red Buds.  He already had the holes almost ready.

Anyway..... he planted the trees and was leaning on the shovel and was smiling when he said 

"Happy Mothers Day".

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Soul Food aka Southern Cooking

I sat down this morning and checked out the new posts of several of the blogs I follow.  I saw that Carolyn over at Krazo Acres had a new post up. 
I had started to leave a comment and realized it was so long that I had the makings of a new post myself.  If you have been blogging any time at all you know that when you get an idea for a new post never turn it down! You run with it.  I'm going to put up her "homepage" link because you have GOT to read the one under it.  I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. 

And now for the comment I deleted over there.... Read on!

There was a time some years ago that I was really curious to find out what Soul Food really was.  I was around 20 when I finally found out.  There was a little cafe who'd just opened their doors and the sign on the building read Mama's Soul Food.  I was SO excited!!  I was going to finally find out what "Soul Food" really was.

 The big day came and a friend and I headed over to check out the place.  When we got there we found the cafe was sort of like a cafeteria type line where you got to choose what you'd like on your plate.  The menus were rotated out  day to day.  So that day there were fried pork chops and fried chicken with a beautiful crispy crust, There were turnips and turnip greens with bacon, fried cabbage w/ham,   black-eyed peas and
ham hocks, mashed potatoes and white gravy, pinto beans w/bacon (pork n beans southern style), fried squash,  cornbread and fresh baked rolls. For desert there was dewberry cobbler and banana pudding.  Everything looked so darn good but I still wanted to know where the soul food was.

  It seems I missed the days that they made things like chitterlings (pronounced chitlin's)  and pigs feet. Not that it made much difference to me because it wasn't like I'd not eaten those before.  I love me some chitlins! The cafe was only open for dinner (some folks call it lunch) from 11-2 on weekdays. If they ran out of food they just ran out of it.  Once it was gone that was it.  They had a chalk board with the menu printed out. They'd cross off what they ran out of.  It turned out to be a huge success with folks around town.  You would see business men in their work uniforms (suits) carpenters and craftsmen, folks from other service businesses.  If you wanted the best selection you had to show up early and stand in line for it.

The meal was wonderful but it was on that day  I finally found out that all the years I'd wondered just what Soul Food was that I'd been eating it all my life. For some reason that sort of bummed me out since  I pretty much cooked the same way at home as did my mom and grandma did. But it sure was a great place to go have what I call comfort food but apparently also called Soul Food. 

 One evening a week they served All You Can Eat Catfish n fixin's every Friday for supper!!! It was the only day of the week they would cook a dinner menu and reopen at 5 for the catfish supper.  Once it was gone they'd close the door.

 Unfortunately  Mama's Soul Food burned to the ground a few years after I'd found the place. They didn't have the money to rebuild.  What happened after that was amazing.  Folks started to donate money to help re-build the place.  There were "tip jars" on dozens of business' all over the place. Even the little hole in the wall bars were raising money for them. Even the local tv news stations were covering it.  It took over a year but they finally were able to re-open!  That shows you just how community can come together and make things happen.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Big Day in Little Big Town

Unless you want to be really bummed out, don't go to the grocery store these days.  I ended up in Little Big Town  yesterday.(if you are new to the blog we have Tiny Town a few miles away, Little BigTown a few miles further and of course there is T Town about 45 miles away.)

So I headed out  to the feed store and to do some grocery shopping.  Mind you, I don't like going to town much in the first place but to do it on a Saturday?  I must have lost my mind. The feed store was like a bee hive with what seems to have been the entire population of farmers in at least a thirty-five mile radius.  I had to pick up chicken and rabbit feed and get some propane bottles filled. While I was there I checked again and they FINALLY had 1lb packages of yeast. Yay!!! I snagged up three of them (I store my yeast in the freezer)  and headed to the counter to put in my order and let them know I needed propane as well.  Are you  wondering yet why I wanted to pick up yeast there? For some reason (and I'm sure it makes sense to someone somewhere) they are the only place I can find 1lb packages of yeast.  I can find those little brown bottles everywhere and of course the single packets in the grocery stores but not a single one carries the big packages.  After going to put in my feed order I went out to check on the propane and the guy said it was already in the car.  This guy had stuck them in the trunk of the car laying them on their side.  A BIG NO-NO.  Anyway I told him he was gonna have to set them in the floorboard of the back seat. (which is where he pulled them out of in the first place)  I didn't want to be a statistic somewhere in a class on propane safety.  

Anyways.....  Next stop, Grocery Store stop #1.  Jeez, and I thought the feed store was busy!  Maybe it's just me but it seems everything on my list has risen in price since last month, which didn't help my crankiness about all the people in there jockeying for position at every turn.  Then it was off to the Evil Empire to finish up what shopping I had to do in Little Big Town. Someone should have smacked me down for that decision!

Last stop of the day.... The Evil Empire, packed with every sort of humanity walking the world!  If it weren't so funny to watch folks I'd have backed off till another day. Anyway....I pulled up my big girl panties and went for it.  Every since I found out that they HAD to match advertised prices of ALL the other stores in the area (I'm not going to T Town if it can be helped)  Aldi's (50 miles from home)

must really make them cringe with the excellent prices on produce they run most every week.   So I picked up four lbs of strawberries @.99 a lb to make my first batch of jelly this year and some bananas@.33 a lb and they had avocados on sale too @.33 each.  (I see another Tex Mex meal in the not to distant future.) 

The reason I'm sharing all this with you?  I have a perfect example of how much AND how fast groceries are going up.  I buy tortilla's.  I don't like making them but I can and I do know how.  I just would rather not.  So one of the things I pick up every month are flour tortillas.  Four months ago they were $1.48 for twenty tortillas, two months ago they changed the packaging and went up to 1.98 for the same tortillas.  This month I just about fell out when I saw they had bumped the price to $2.48. That makes a dollar increase in just four months time. Looks like I may be going back to homemade tortillas soon. 

I've been telling folks for what seems like years that prices are going up and only going to get higher.  Just about everything is going up even faster right now folks.  And just wait till this summer when you start seeing things go even higher.  That drought out there in California will certainly be taking its toll on food costs this year.  My advice?  Stock your larder as deep as you possibly can while you still can.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Spanish Rice

 Yesterday I was in the mood for some Mexican food. I found a  nice recipe for Green Chili Pork.  done in the slow cooker.  Of course I had to wing it some. I put up several pints of Green Verde last summer so I used it in place of the green salsa called for.  I also didn't have fresh cilantro so I used some dried instead.  It really turned out well. 

I had one jar of black beans left from last year and all I needed was to find a good Spanish rice recipe.  I've never had much luck at all with Spanish rice.  It's usually either to dry or to drab so when I found this recipe I just had to try it. Since we ran out of propane a couple of days ago (don't ask)  I found a recipe for Spanish Rice that could be done in the nuke machine.  I'm here to tell you it's actually far and away the best I've made and I'm adding it to my "line-up".

As usual I pretty much had to make it work with what I had on hand the original recipe was just a sort of a blueprint.  So here goes!

SPANISH RICE (Microwave)

1 lg. onion, chopped  (subbed re-hydrated onions)
1/4 c. chopped green pepper (subbed re-hydrated red and green bell peppers)
2 tbsp. butter
1 c. stewed tomatoes, chopped and drained - save liquid (subbed my own salsa recipe and tomato juice)
1 c. long grain rice
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

In 2 quart casserole combine onion, green pepper and butter. Cook on High 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Add enough liquid out of tomatoes to make 2 cups. Add to dish with tomatoes, rice, salt and pepper. Cover. Cook on High for 5 minutes then on medium for 20 minutes. Stir only once. Let stand covered for 5 minutes. (Time may vary with each microwave.)

I re-hydrated onions and some green and red bell peppers and used them instead.  In place of the stewed tomatoes I used a cup of salsa. (my recipe for a wonderful salsa) 
and subbed a cup of homemade tomato sauce and one cup of water for stewed tomatoes and the saved liquid.. After that I actually followed the rest of the recipe.

So we had Verde Pork, Spanish Rice and Black beans.
Sorry I didn't get a picture of the whole dinner but I promise you it was lip smacking good. I've finally found a Spanish Rice recipe I'm sure to be making again.  And again.