Sunday, September 25, 2016

Week 40 - My Favorite Season!!!

Anyone who knows me, really knows me, knows that my very favorite season is Autumn.  Since this past Thursday at 9:21 a.m. marked the beginning of Fall, you an bet I'm one happy chiquita!  I love the colors of fall. I love light of a fall sky.  I love the smells of fall....go ahead, close your eyes and just smell the air.  Tell me you can't smell the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, pumpkin...all the spices of fall.  I'm already planning fall cookies, pies for Thanksgiving and Christmas, fudge (I've got a great recipe for caramel apple fudge that is downright sinful and so stinkin' easy - 2 ingredients).  

I said last week that I would tell you more about a chicken tractor. But first, I want to show you the baby chicks as of yesterday.  Here they are, our 37 and our neighbor's 52...they weight about a pound each and they have almost all the feathers they need to be transferred to the chicken tractor.  John says they need a few more feathers on their heads and that will probably take place next week.  Then they will stay in the chicken tractor for another 3 - 4 weeks before going to Freezer Camp.  

And here is a chicken tractor.  The far side has wheels at the bottom and the near side has a tall piece of wood that acts as a handle.  Once the chicks are placed into the tractor, John will move them the length of the device each morning to allow the chicks access to fresh grass and bugs...then move to another spot the next day.  At 6 weeks, they will then be moved twice a day since they will be getting exponentially bigger and bigger and they will need more and more bugs and grass.  At 8 weeks old, they are ready to Freezer Camp.  The chicks are a Cornish Cross breed that have a larger than normal breast to afford more white meat (which I like).  If they aren't butchered by 9 weeks, some of them will probably fall over and die from heart attacks - really! Talk about top heavy.  

I hope you all have a wonderful in the Ozarks the temps are starting to drop a bit and the humidity is getting less and less.  John is outside mowing for one of the few last times of the takes him about 6 hours to mow the property.  He doesn't mow all 10 acres cause we have the cows to do those 5 acres...but the other 5 acres are a never-ending 'chore' - if you can call sitting down on a riding mower and listening to music on your headphones a chore.  

Thanks for stopping by. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Week 39 - Family

This week was just a normal week...nothing spectacular happened, nothing crazy happened, nothing awful happened...just normal.  That being said, I have some pictures to share...

You may recall that we periodically grow a pig or a cow or chickens and once they are relegated to freezer camp, take a large portion of the meat to our son for his family.  This weekend was pig meat transfer weekend.  Mom and Big John drove to North Platte, Nebraska and met Young John and two of his young'uns for a very short evening of swimming, dinner, and sleeping...Two coolers of meat were transferred to Young John's vehicle, along with Christmas presents I'd amassed and wrapped and tagged and everyone left North Platte this morning at 4:00 a.m. to go home.  Big John and Mom arrived here at about 1:30 and I believe Young John also has arrived at their home in Salt Lake City.  

Here is Mom and William...he's almost as tall as she is.

Mom and Charlotte - again, getting taller all the time.

Four of my most precious beings in this world.

Young John (really?  Young?  He will be 39 in January!) has always taken care of this lady...and she's always basked in his love!

My family is complete again, now that mom and John are home.  It's pouring rain, pouring, I say.  The laundry is complete and I'm getting ready to make tacos for dinner.  I hope you have a wonderful week.  

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Week 38 - A Canning We Will Go

Earlier in the spring, John planted 6 Roma tomato plants and 6 Best Boy tomatoes.  This past weekend, some of the tomatoes were ripe enough to pick.  Now, even though we dearly love tomatoes, 12 plants produce way more than we can eat. So, we can those we know we won't be able to eat in a reasonable amount of time.  That way, we've got tomatoes all winter, and into the next spring.  I can use them in soups, stews, casseroles, even spaghetti sauce.  John puts them into a boiling pot and lets them bubble away for about 30 seconds, then dumps them into icy cold water in the sink.  I immediately skin them and put them into bowls.  We can then place them into the sterilized quart jars along with some salt and a bit of lemon juice and seal them.
 Once they've been sealed, they go into the canner for 45 minutes.
 After they have boiled and bubbled for the requisite 45 minutes, they are removed from the canner and set onto the counter for anywhere from 6 to 24 hours, depending on how long it takes for the thin lids to 'suck in' and seal.  In the picture above, the lids have a slight bow outward - that bow sucks in and that's when you know you have a good seal. We can then take the metal rings off and store the jars in the pantry.  Last weekend, John brought in 2 five gallons buckets filled about 1/2 way with tomatoes.  It probably only took us about 2 hours to can those into 7 quart jars.  I know some people who can 40 jars at a time, but we can do just a few as the tomatoes are ready to harvest - even thru the workweek - and that's just fine with me.  Standing in the kitchen, canning, is a long, hard, time-consuming, back-breaking job.  I'm fine with doing it a bit at a time, even though it makes a lot of work thru the week.  

I suspect we will do some canning this week...John and my mom are traveling to North Platte, Nebraska next weekend.  They are meeting Young John there and transferring 2 huge coolers of pork for Knotwells West.  

In addition to the pork, I'm also sending a lot of the Christmas gifts for them as well.  With 5 children plus John and Jill, the cost of mailing gifts at Christmas is almost more than the cost of the gifts themselves.  I can save a ton by sending them next weekend....So I'm wrapping gifts today as well as doing the laundry and updating the blog.  That way I have far fewer things to mail and less cost.  

Sometimes I amaze myself at how smart I can be.  Other times?  Well, let's not go there, ok?

Not much else to tell you this week. John is working against time to get his chicken tractor updated and ready to transfer the baby chicks into it - probably another 2 weeks and they will be fully feathered and can brave the elements outside the barn.  Pictures will, of course, be forthcoming so those of you who don't know what a chicken tractor looks like can be amazed!

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Week 37 - Not HorseFeathers

Our newest 'crop' of baby chicks were hatched on Wednesday.  And they came to live at Pieceful Harbor on Thursday.  There are 89 chicks there.  37 of them are ours and 52 of them belong to our neighbor.  We have the space to brood them all so they are living in our barn till they sprout feathers.  That should be about 3-4 weeks.  Then they will be transferred to a chicken tractor for the remainder of the 8 weeks till they all go to Freezer Camp.  

 This morning, John Pace brought his granddaughter, Annabelle, over to see the baby chicks.  She also wanted to see the cows.  Here she is, hand-feeding range cubes to (from left to right) Aggie, Rosie, Beast, and Belle.  Rosie is almost a year old, Beast and Belle will be a year old in October, and Aggie is almost 4 years old (I think).  They love, love, love range cubes.  
This weekend is Labor Day here in the U.S. A day to venerate the laborers who built this country.  A day off for almost all people (except retail workers; sigh).  And the unofficial end of summer.  The weather has been sublime the last few days.  Cooler temps and light breezes, low humidity, autumnal sunshine.  They say this week the temps and humidity will go up again...but not for long.  I can smell autumn in the happy season!

Came home from shopping yesterday and made a batch of Ginger Molasses cookies...yum!  I don't know why I don't bake more often - it's fun and mostly easy.  But if I did it more often, we'd all be more rolly-polly than we already are.  At least when I DO bake now, it's a treat!

I'm off to sew or knit or something fun, and just for me.  Have a great week. Thanks for stopping by.