Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Around the homestead...

My name is Betty and I am the baby cow but I am also the cow that isn't going to be eaten. My counterpart is Gertrude and she is going to be eaten because she is a freemartin. A freemartin is a female twin to a bull that 93% of the time will be sterile and unable to reproduce.

So many things that we've have learned since having cows join our family farm. Who knew having a twin brother would make one sterile. Both cows are 5 to 6 months old and are Simental/Red Angus cross. Gertrude is a much bigger cow than Betty. Betty had diarehea on Sunday and we had to give her Pepto-Bismal. It looked like she had on pink lipstick. Quite the look but she is all better now and no longer has mud-butt.

This is Curly. He was originally one of three white cochin
roosters. Larry and Moe went to live on other farms because
we had to reduce our rooster population. Curly is very sexy and this is his getting down to business pose for the ladies. He is not the top rooster on the farm but don't tell him that, it would really deflate his ego.

This is Sam and he is the top rooster. Sam is an Araunacana. He is the only Araunacana in our flock. He is a real gentleman to the ladies but not so much so to the family. He isn't bad enough to go to freezer camp but you don't want to turn your back on him if you know what I mean.

I feel so blessed to share our home with so many animals, both 2 and 4 footed. These are just a few and I will be sharing more along the way. My own therapy is calling the chickens and feeding them old bread. They eat out of my hand, but they really get excited when they get worms. Oh the simple joy of everyday life. Don't miss it, it will pass you by.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Full of It....

Home-canned goodies that is. It was another really successful weekend canning and the like. It started on Wednesday with another 15# box of green beans from Yoder's fruit stand. It yielded 21 pts and 7 qts. We had green beans on Saturday and boy were they delicious. I placed an order today for the Wednesday. The prices are even better if you buy the whole box. I ordered canning tomatoes (25#), Walla Walla onions (50#), Yukon gold potatoes (50#), and another box of green beans (15#). I'm really beginning to get alot of yellow summer squash and zucchini from my garden. Send all your awesome recipes my way. My squash casserole and fried squash are the families current favorites. If anyone wants the squash casserole recipe, I will be glad to post it, just let me know.
On Friday, the kids and I went huckleberry picking with our friends the Meyers. If you don't know what a huckleberry is, it is a wild blueberry. They are plentiful in Idaho and are really yummy. This was my first year to ever pick huckleberries. Last year I bought 3 gallons at $32.00 a gallon. Not this year. The kids and I probably picked close to that much. I made 14 half-pints of jam and froze 4 - 1 qt bags. The jam is so good. We had some this weekend on top of home-made ice-cream. A Homesteading Neophyte inspired me to dust off the old ice-cream freezer. I made two freezers full this weekend. Needless to say, it was a huge hit. This is a picture of Katlyn's bowl of home-made vanilla ice cream with
huckleberry jam drizzled over the top. It was so good. After picking the huckleberries, I picked two pails full of raspberries off Jen's bushes. They are loaded and are so sweet and delicious. The raspberries became jam, 2 fresh raspberry pies, and a raspberry cobbler. Thanks Jen for sharing with us. You guys are a blessing to our family.
It feels really good to be in the kitchen fixing real home-made food for my family. I love being creative and trying new things. I want to continue to stretch myself and learn new things. For example, this is my first year to ever pressure can. Previous I only had a water bath canner. I feel proud to have gained some mastery over that scary rattling monolith and to have even shared the skill with my kids. They have been a huge help - both in watching, timing, moving the heavy pot, moving the newly canned jars into long-term storage, and well you get the picture. In every facet we approach things as a family. In my opinion that is how a homesteader does things.....together.
Please share your creations with me. I believe that is also part of being a homesteader and that is community. Belonging and sharing. Being a giver. I look forward to your comments.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Things are heatin' up round here...

And it ain't just the weather. The garden is beginning to churn out some goodness. Got some more squash and our first zucchini tonight. Also picked more snow peas and the first green bean. Two more squash and another zucchini will be just right for picking tomorrow. I was able to use my "outdoor cooking station" and fried up the squash for dinner....didn't heat up the house and didn't splatter all over the cook-top inside that's a bugger to clean. Did I mention that I don't recommend a black ceramic surface on the cook-top? Anywho, the outdoor setup performed great once again.

Christopher and Michael are continuing to hay and boy it is proving to hot and hard work...but they are hanging in there. I am so proud of them. Between haying sessions, the boys took the four-wheeler dragging the boat down to this lake just on the other side of the river. That kinda goes back to my post about why I live where I live. Where could you drive (without a drivers license) a four-wheeler towing a 14' fiberglass boat down the county road? I wish I had been home to see it but I wasn't. In fact, I heard about it from the neighbor at the grocery store where I dashed in to pick-up hamburger buns for dinner.

This is a picture of Christopher with the catch of the day. A 3 lb large-mouth bass. It got added to the freezer bag with Katlyn's trout from last week. They are beginning to add up. Everyone is looking forward to a fish fry. Terry frequents a site also focused on self-sustainability and shared pics with me of one of the board-mates who has 70 pints of salmon canned. Of course, he lives in Alaska but wow that would be SO nice.

Currently we are focusing on the following projects. 1.)Growing as much food in our garden for fresh food and canning the excess for use this winter. 2.) Canning all the fruit from our fruit trees (cherry, apricot, plum, pear, and apple). 3.) Picking raspberries from a friend for jelly and pies. 4.) Picking huckleberries locally to make jelly and to freeze for use during the winter. 5.) Scavenging the local thrift stores for more canning jars and asking everyone I know to keep an eye out for folks selling their un-used jars. 6.) The boys are getting us set up with hay for the winter for the animals. We will store the hay in the barn at PawPaw's house as we don't have a barn yet. 7.) Getting a weiner pig to raise for the freezer. 8.) We just moved the chicks from the "crowded stock-tank to the goat-house. The goats have vacated the house for the summer and hopefully the chicks will be ready to be moved to the hen house by the the time the goats need their house back. 9.) Siding and roofing the hen house and goat house before snow flies. 10.) Build a shelter for the horse also before the snow flies. 11.) Taking a big trip to Texas to marry off our daughter and to visit friends and family. 12.) Gather more firewood, cut, split and stack. 13.) Start a recycling bin for aluminum cans.

I know, I know the list may seem overwhelming to some but to me it really helps me to visualize where we are going and need to go as a family. The list above is not in order of priority but a jumping in list to then discuss and order by importance. Research proves list-makers are more successful than non list-makers. Terry hates lists but has conceded that they DO work. Feel free to share your project lists and we can encourage one-another......

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Canning and cleaning....whew!!

Just a quick update on the weekend. Friday was a frustrating day. One of those days that if everything can go wrong, it will and did. We went over to PawPaw's to work on gathering more firewood. The chain saw was fighting us and that makes the work even more frustrating than working in the heat of the day. After much bru-haha, we decided to just load the pickup with all that it would hold and take it home and unload and look for cooler work. The rest of the day I worked on getting the veggies ready for canning.

Saturday was spent canning. I think I posted that I have 2 22qt Presto canners. Should make the work much quicker.....but on the older one, the gauge doesn't work properly and the seal is dripping, so looks like I need to replace those couple of items. No biggy because it was given to me for FREE. I called the hardware store in Sandpoint and they have both items in stock so I will either pick them up or see if my friend who works in Sandpoint can pick them up for me - saving me both time and gas money. Both are big commodities at this point.

Today I helped to deep clean Terry's shop. I should say un-bury. There was a shop there under all the sawdust and wood chips. He is working on a major furniture order and hasn't had the time or energy to keep up on the cleaning....but at some point it takes longer to find a misplaced tool than it does to just go ahead and clean. Terry really appreciated the help and I know that will really help him ten-fold this week with his productivity.

Cleaning sure works up an appetite so I cooked a really good dinner and everyone enjoyed themselves. We have t-bone steaks, squash casserole (squash from my garden), carrot salad, ceasar salad, fresh green beans and yukon potatoes, and cherry cake topped with ice cream and some of the wonderful cherry sauce that I canned this weekend. Thank you so much Kathie for the awesome recipe. It is yum-oo!!

Watched a movie with the fam and now I'm getting ready for bed and Terry is in the shop sharpening his chisels and hand-planes so he really can hit the ground running. I'll look forward to hearing of your weekend activities. I've already checked out Jeff and Kathie's over at Two Frog Home. They are working up a storm on their new place, so exciting.....Take care and let me hear from you....that's the best part!!! Until then,

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Canning season is upon us....

Last Friday I made a quick stop at the local Amish fruit-stand before they closed for the week. I was able to pick-up 12 bunches of nice beets for $4.50. I got 5 pints of pickled beets. I love pickled beets. Terry doesn't so I won't be sharing. The kids aren't sure whether they like them or not....
Today I went to the same fruit-stand on my lunch hour. I was able to pick-up a 15# box of green beans and a 5# bag of yukon gold new potatoes. I brought them home and we all set around the kitchen table snapping beans. The kids had never snapped beans before and Terry entertained us with stories from his childhood of snapping beans with his grandmother "Inee". We all got a good laugh. The beans and potatoes ended up yielding 25 quarts of beans with potatoes and 1 quart of potatoes. Not too bad. I spent $24.00 for the produce but had all my jars and lids already at home. I think I did pretty good. I have beans in my garden at home but don't think I will get enough so I decided to supplement.
So far everyone has pitched in and been alot of help. Hope this continues through the entire season. I'm making plans to get together with a couple of blogger friends to do some canning. That should be tons of fun. I am really looking forward to it. We need to get a date in mind. I also have plans to get together with my friend Jen and do some mad-canning of pickled hot veggies (cauliflower, peppers, carrots, celery, garlic, dill) you know that yummy stuff. Canning doesn't seem like work when the whole family or friends join together. I think this is a living example of community.
My goals of self-sufficiency coupled with long-term storage building really got a good boost today. I can't wait to see what it looks like at the end of a very successful canning season. I look forward to sharing more with you and hearing of both your successes and failures. We can all learn so much from each other!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Why we live where we live....

This past week our community was hit by a very destructive wind storm. PawPaw had a huge tree that was blown over, roots and all, at his place. We went over tonight and began clearing off side limbs. The tree is a Ponderosa Pine and was probably close to 100 feet tall and around 3 feet across at the base. One huge tree. It will cut up into fire wood for us to burn this winter.

Our neighbors the Amoths also suffered a huge loss. They own an old grain elevator at the end of our road that was severely damaged. Every summer they use the elevator to store grain for the winter for their animals. Today there was a large crowd, probably 30 men and boys, gathered to begin taking down all the demolished wood and metal and getting everything sorted and readied to be rebuilt. They had also delivered in portable potties and the women had food and drinks all set up. It made me proud to be a part of a community that pitches in and helps one-another in times of need. Tonight around 9:00 p.m. they were still working. Awesome.... friends helping friends.

Terry made the comment that you probably wouldn't see this kind of support in a large metropolitan area. Really reinforces our decision to relocate to Idaho and raise our children in this environment.

Get out today and help someone!! It will help them and will help you also in the process.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Homesteading isn't for sissies...

I posted a couple of weeks back about Manny coming to live with us here on the homestead. Well we learned yesterday that it isn't going to work out. Many factors and evidently wasn't meant to be, but still we are saddened.

Other horsey news is that I purchased a just like new saddle off Craigslist. Yes I know, I better check out the Craigslist Anonymous meeting schedule soon because I am a Craigslist addict. I can admit it.

Anyway back to the saddle, it is a chocolate brown synthetic 17" western saddle. It was still in the box. The cinch strap was still in the plastic. It was an awesome find. The lady was only selling it because she needed a different saddle for her gaited horse. Thank you so much Sandy!!!!

We only had a small saddle for the kids and a bareback saddle. Terry tried to ride Tanner last weekend with the small saddle and lets just say that didn't work out so well. Terry landed on his feet and Tanner was glad he was off his back because I think the saddle was pinching him. I can't wait to try out the new saddle later today.

Also another great score from Craigslist, 2 double-wall fount chicken waters and 2 large feeders. I got all of them for a $20 spot and the small double-wall fount waterer alone would be more than the $20 paid for all of them.

Getting into homesteading isn't an inexpensive endeavor by any means. I love saving where and when I can. I picked up some pint canning jars at the thrift store this week. I also got a couple of new issue magazines. Katlyn made a sour cream cherry pie from a recipe featured in one of the mags. Definitely worth its .10 cents sticker price, don't you think? It only takes a little more effort to shop smarter. Yes, I could have purchased the same magazine at the grocery store and paid the full cover price of $4.95. I could have purchased new jars at the store but I choose to re-use and shop smarter, any time I can. I love finding a deal on something that can really benefit the kids or the homestead......woohoo!!! I think that is the essence of homesteading - being able to make something grand out of something simple. Again I say, less is more. These are important lessons not only for our children but also for us.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

First of the Season....

So tonight after dinner Michael and I got busy. He is our 15 year old and has proven himself once again. Last year he was a great help to me during canning season and once again he has stepped up and helped me out. Michael pitted 7 quarts of cherries using the cherry stoner. If you don't know about these, they are awesome. They make quick work of pitting cherries. I picked mine up a few years ago at the local hardware for less than twenty bucks. It has really been a time saver.

So pictured is my propane canner that I set up outside. Boy it sure did keep the house cool and the water bath canner came to a boil in no time. I highly recommend this set-up.

I canned 6 quarts and one pint of cherry pie filling. This will be awesome to have on hand during the busy holidays for awesome pies. I still have lots of cherries chillin in the fridge and am still on the lookout for awesome recipes. Send 'em my way.....I'm thinking maybe I will do bourbon cherries. I have a friend that did some last year and then took them out of the liquid and dipped them in chocolate......yummo!!!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Gearing Up....

Sorry it's been so long since I last posted. I took a few extra days off and stretched the holiday out a bit...thought I would get in some posts but ended up spending lots of good time with the family playing a little, working a little, and relaxing a little. It was a good time.

Yesterday, Terry and I went to Spokane to pick-up a couple of Craigslist purchases. Terry got a large air conditioner for his shop. He is working hard and heavy on a large furniture order to be delivered to Texas in August. We also scored a very nice large upright freezer for his Dad (PawPaw). With the price of gas we were able to combine many errands and take full advantage of being in the city....We went to the Snyder's bread outlet. I got twenty or thirty loafs of bread for 20.00. I freeze them and take them out as needed. It is a huge savings, especially since the bread we eat is approximately $3.00 a loaf at the grocery store. and there is seven of us. It is still in my plans to learn how to make home-made loafs of bread. I also went to Costco and stocked up on cheese, and some other basics that I buy there.

For me, the best purchase was a dual-burner propane cooker than I can use as an outdoor kitchen for canning. This will allow me to use two pressure cookers or water bath canners at once. Not only will it be cooler outside, but the dual-propane burners have a very high btu which will allow much quicker results.....or so I am hoping. I will keep you posted on whether it works out as planned or not....

Last night after we got home the kids and I picked cherries off the tree in our yard. It was really loaded this year. We must have picked 30 lbs of cherries. They are chillin in the extra fridge and I have been scouring the internet today for canning and/or preserving recipes. Please send any my way that you think are worthy. I'll post pics of the finished products.
The homestead is continuing to grow and take shape. We have a active project list to accomplish before the snow flies. We definitely need to build the horses a barn or at least a covered shelter. We have many chicks that will soon need larger accomodations than the 200 gallon stock tank brooder that Christopher has fashioned. We plan to gather more firewood and burn energy logs only at night. I will pick-up a permit tomorrow to allow us to gather wood from the national forest. The garden is coming along well. Terry and Michael fashioned a trellis for my beans today. Can't wait to start getting fresh veggies from the garden......mmm, I can't taste the squash right now.
Please feel free to post your projects and progress and hopefully we can encourage one-another. I will offer any advice, support, or encouragement needed and would love the same. Take care - Waste not, want not.