Monday, May 31, 2010

As The Butter Churns

Yep, that's right, this post is all about making home made butter! I make my butter without all the fancy bells and whistles. That means I don't have a cream separator or a butter churn. All I use is a sun tea jug, the one with the spigot on the bottom, and a quart sized canning jar. I set my milk in the fridge so the cream will rise to the top and use the spigot to drain off the milk for drinking and cooking. I let the cream set in the fridge for 3 or 4 days. Then I set it out on the counter to come to room temperature and fill the canning jar about half way with cream. Just shake the jar back and forth. It only takes around 5 minutes for heavy cream and around 12 minutes for light cream to form butter. I drain off most of the buttermilk and set the butter in a bowl in the fridge to cool. Cooling it makes it easier to work with as it is pretty soft when it's room temperature. When it cools enough that it becomes a bit stiff, I can fold it over and press the rest of the buttermilk off the butter.

So, there you have it! Fresh butter without the chemical preservatives added into commercial products. You can salt it to your liking as you fold the buttermilk off of it and use it immediately if you choose.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

how the garden grows...

Look at how the container garden is growing! Tangerine says the pepper flowers smell good! The cucumbers have tons of tiny fruits all over the place and are flowering like mad. The Earth Tones Dent corn has all sprouted in their tires and are growing nicely. Too bad the beautiful, delicate pink flowers got washed out in the picture taking, the potatoes are all decked out. Even the pumpkins have flowers all over them.

On the farm front... Alltel wireless has decided that the roaming fees to the closest tower to me are too expensive so they have canceled my contract and will terminate my internet connection on the 10th of June. There are not may options I can afford available in this very rural area and the land line option is even out. So, after June 10th, I'm not too sure what I'm going to do. I could go with verizon wireless, but they have a 5GB a month cap and I can use that up in just a few days. I just can not get a break.

I did make the first step in establishing a "trading post" here tho. I reached out and made my first trade. I traded one of the many roosters I have running around here that has not found his way into a cook pot for something I could use, I traded him for some sugar. It's a start. I'm also working on trading a couple rabbits for some home made wine. I'm not a drinker so I figure i can either trade the wine with someone else or cook with it. Either way, it works for me ;)

Not much else is happening around here. I should have cut some hay yesterday but did not have the fuel money to get after it so we're just going to have to wait for the next round of rain to go thru ( every day next week) and see how the budget looks next week.....

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rainy Days are good For...

Playing in the kitchen! At least for me anyway, it's one time I get to play in the kitchen undisturbed.

Well, I ran out of vege oil in the pantry. I always thought I had too much in there but it turned out to be only around 8 months worth. Now I'm out and I must find another bread recipe that is as easy as my Hillbilly Housewife recipe and tastes as good. I found a group of recipes over at the Chickens in the Road blog So far, I made the apple butter coffee cake and the Grandma Bread version of cinnamon bread. Both were outstanding and I will make them several more times. I did figure out that I made the frost for the coffee cake a little too runny since it all melted off and baked on the cookie sheet. next time I will wait for half way thru and then add the frost and I'll mix it less runny too, LOL.

Other than that, it's just business as usual, same old stuff, watching the garden grow and feeding the critters.......

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Update and New babies

Spring has disappeared here and all of the sudden it's 85 degrees. We haven't quite dried out from the last round of rain but we tilled yesterday and mudded some beans, peas and melons in. I got the pumpkins I sprouted in the house planted in the tire and all that's left is a few small odds and ends still to get started.

6 ducklings, hatched I think on Friday or late Thursday. Momma has brought them to the root cellar/pond and they are loving it. I watched her for close to a half hour yesterday, trying to call them all out of the pool. She had to go in and round them up because they weren't leaving. I got a good giggle from it.

I messed around a bit pulling tiny weeds from the container plantings and noticed I have a few tiny tomatoes growing and a ton of baby cucumbers! Guess it was my hand pollination or maybe it just got warm enough for the bees to do their job. At this point, I'm not much caring, either way I've got produce coming on! None too soon, pickings are getting a little slim for supper here.

Update on the small farm disasters front, still working on trying to stop the leaks from the hot water tank. We now have a mystery leak we can not locate. Nothing has been done about pulling it completely out since i can't do it myself and I'm not getting any help with it. The daughters truck is still not fixed. Apparently Ford had some idiots in charge when they designed the fuel system for the 93 step side pickup dual tank system. Something as simple as just dropping the back tank with the hole in it and eliminating the tank switcher has turned into a nightmare of T'd fuel lines( all solid and braided hose) with no connections. Seems it's all one piece from the motor to the tanks and inter connected to both tanks at once. The lawn mower keeps flying apart and we're still $300 away from covering the parts. Oh well, we'll get there one of these days. The big truck is still hanging in there with the bearing, hopefully it will hold up until we can replace the spindle... At least we managed to get everything together for the daughters nursing class that starts on Monday. Guess I'll be driving her in that junk jeep for a while..........

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Another year gone by

Well, today was my 9th anniversary. Too bad nobody but me remembered. I spent the day messing around in the gardens, getting some of the few remaining plants in the house set outside. The cats of course, were just plain wore out from following me all over the farm.

My old Queen Elizabeth rose has opened her first bud. Today is the day you wish the blog could be a scratch and sniff.

Looks like I might get to make my first round of cutting hay early next week if the rains cooperate. The over night temperatures are supposed to get up to the low 70s, finally! That's good for the garden, the plants will start putting fruits on......

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lazy Day

Not a whole bunch going on around the farm. I'm standing on pins and needles waiting for the corn to sprout. It's always agony waiting for those little green shoots. Are they dead? Will they sprout or not? Lots of little showers the last few days. It gets dark, a bit of a sprinkle and it's gone. The cold overnight temperatures have been a bit hard on everything and I lost all but 4 of my Roma tomatoes. Guess I'm going to have to punt on that one, 4 plants is not enough to harvest for a years worth of food.

I'm just a little worried, the tomatoes and cuccs have been flowering for a week now and apparently are not being pollinated. So, yesterday I started hand pollinating the flowers. I have not seen a single bee yet this year.

The 6 strawberry plants that lived thru the transplant and the cats have really sprouted out. The whole tub is full of leaders and all of the have new berry starts on them. This type of strawberry seems pretty aggressive. The way they are going, I will have to make a row bed just for them by mid summer. Later this season, I should be swamped with berries. I like that idea!

The sweet peppers have put flowers on, none have opened yet but they will very soon. I have my q-tips ready for hand pollination. At $3.49 for 4 small peppers at the market, I can't wait for them to produce for me. Eating dehydrated peppers is okay but nothing beats home grown fresh bell peppers.

Speaking of $3.49 for 4 small peppers, checking the prices of fresh fruits and veges at the local market can give you a pretty good idea of how much money you can save yourself by growing those things for yourself. It also helps give you a good idea of what the price is if you have extra you might want to sell. Specialty items like watermelons and cantaloupes are usually pretty high priced at the market. $2.49 for a small cantaloupe, $5-8 for a medium sized watermelon. Both these fruits grow quickly and are easy to maintain. I will have pictures of both these vines growing here soon.

I've hilled my second round on the potatoes and they actually need another tire added already. They're looking pretty good, I hope they're making potatoes in all that dirt!

We had to round up the banty chicks that were hatched last week. Something was killing them. Out of 8 chicks, we have 3 left and they are now residing in the storage house brooder tank. So far so good.........

An update on the small disasters around the farm... I got all the carpet yanked out of the closet and all the water mopped up the best I could. We're adjusting to the whole no hot water thing as quick as we can. As for the door, the window screens and the leaking fuel tank on the truck, they are all still waiting. What else can ya do? Deal with what you've got and go on.....

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Berries

Today I feel like a yo-yo, up, down, left, right, 35mph wind but at least it's warmed up again.

I'm slowly getting all the water mopped up. It already smells like mold. That figures.

Today is another simple day around the farm. I'm doing the usual, tending critters, baking bread, got some chili going and a couple of rabbits in the stew pot. Some cake cooling on the counter. Nothing new broke today.

I still found a little time to cut another sidewall off a tire I picked up from the local mechanic for the zucchinis. I got it filled and the seedlings planted in it. I'm going to wait until tomorrow to put the pumpkins out, I don't want them getting beat to death by the 35mph wind we have today. I still need to put the melons out, both the hot peppers and both types of cherry tomato. I haven't decided where yet. The new round of beans has sprouted, I will probably till their spot and plant them tomorrow as well.

It's almost time to hill the potatoes, again! They are really growing quickly, much faster than when they are in the ground. Must be the well draining, rich compost mix soil. I'm pretty pleased with it, so pleased I haven't even hit them with the home made fertilizer mix yet. No need if they are growing so quickly without it.

Off to finish the rabbit stew......

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day for all the Moms that visit here. My day was like any other lately. My daughter did pick me a bunch of wild flowers from around the farm which brightened my morning. The day has been cool and quiet, I tended critters, ground feed, cleaned the grill, lit a fire and cooked up the last of the pork loin for supper. I decided I'd bake myself a cake after I washed a kitchen full of dishes, went into the closet storage for some ingredients and squish went my feet on the carpet. We've lost the hot water tank. Just when I thought nothing else bad could happen to us. So add a hot water tank to the list of broken things we can't fix and it can join the lawn mower spindle and pulley, the hole in the truck gas tank, the front door falling apart and no window screens. Now I need to go have a good cry. Happy Mothers Day.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Beating the Rain

ARG! The lightning is crashing all around the farm this afternoon. Severe storm and tornado warnings all around us. I still managed to get another container tub filled with dirt and the rest of those beefsteak tomatoes planted in it. I also got a row tilled up for the Roma tomatoes and the multi colored sweet peppers planted. I moved over to the sweet corn patch, tilled up 5 rows 60' long and got 4 and 1/2 planted before the clouds opened up and poured rain on me. So, I've missed out on the last hour or so I could have been planting. I did manage to get 4 used big truck tires picked up from the local auto shop for the pumpkin plantings and the mechanic gave me a free standing fire place! It's in great shape and I'm thrilled to have it.

Now the seedling shelves are emptying out. I still have the 2 types of cherry tomatoes needing out, the pumpkins, the gourds, the zuccs, the 2 kinds of hot peppers, the peas and the new bean seedlings to replace the ones that got pounded by last weeks storm. I also need to start another row of radish and another carrot row. I did finally get the celery seed to sprout but they are very tiny still so it looks like another couple of weeks before they will be ready.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Picture Day on the Farm

ARG! Would ya look at those beans? The rain just beat them to death. Not sure if they can be saved, I've started another round of seed to replace them.

The flogging rooster that got dropped here from a neighbor is caught. The daughter cornered him last night while I was mucking stalls out. That is one mean rooster. His wings are clipped, I don't know why, chickens don't fly worth a hoot anyway, and his spurs have been cut off but the son of a gun still has claws and he's flogged me for the last time. I tried to knock his head off the other day, one good whack is all I got on him and the tree branch broke. All it did was knock some feathers off him and he ran around for a while with his head sideways. Now, he's what's for dinner. I will gladly butcher him sometime today.

Here's updated pictures of the container garden stuff. Look how much the peppers and tomatoes have grown! They all have flower nubs on them and I should be harvesting from them in the next couple of weeks. I am very ready
for it too.

Now, what kind of a farm post would it be without the bunny pictures????

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Springtime Beauty

Compliments of my college girl, some of the distinct attractions around the farm.

We were absolutely drown overnight. Everything is a muddy mess. The soaked shoes are in the clothes dryer.......

Holy Cow!

Where's Noah's Ark when you need it? It's been raining since around 8:30 this evening and yes, it's 1am now here in southern Illinois... I was kind of half asleep on the couch when a nice bolt of lightning brought me back to reality. I suddenly realized it was pouring rain. Not really a big thing, it rains all the time. But wait, who is out in that make shift pen I built the other day???? The goats are out in the rain. What's the big deal about that you ask, it's just rain after all... I decided I better go check on them and maybe put them in the barn. Good thing I did because there is so much standing water in the paddock area that the baby goats were very close to swimming. I knew they were in trouble when I hit the north side of the driveway and stepped off into water mid shin deep. Just great, my only pair of shoes are now soaked. I stepped off the driveway and into the grass and sank in the mud another 6". Now I'm knee deep in mud and water, it's pouring rain and the goats are very ready to head for the barn. No worse for wear, they got some alfalfa hay and a little feed to warm them up. Now, how am I gonna get all that mud out of my shoes???