Monday, November 17, 2014

The END of the harvest. FINALLY!!

November spells the end of the harvest.I never dig up potatoes or tear down brussels sprouts until AFTER the first frost. Why?  Because , I don't need to for potatoes(WHY should I exert myself unnecessarily )and brussels 
 sprouts will be bitter unless you wait until the frost hits them.My boy, Gus, loves to pose for pictures. He's a riot!~also loves to be with me when I do just about anything!  Digging potatoes was just fine with him.Turkeys and chickens came by too, just to see if I would dig up anything interesting, like a worm or a spider.Turkeys DEVOUR spiders!!!  ( therefore they are my best friends, one notch above a doggie)

This year I planted purple sprouts....but the sheep got into the garden and decimated all but one plant. SO, that's my special plant for myself. I have no idea if they taste any different from the standard green sprouts.I guess I'll find out.It was a cold, rainy day today in the 30's F.  I have been messing with the wood stove fire all day after emptying the ashes to make the fire burn better. Our delivery this year was unseasoned wood, fairly freshly cut. It took some doing to get that fire to catch.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

   Flour as a basic staple in your pantry or cellar is a must if you homestead , or are on VERY limited budget, or if you are a survivalist.Consider all the things that are made from flour.....BREADS, ROLLS, DONUGHTS,(how do you spell donoughts?) pancakes,waffles,cookies,pies,cakes,soooo many kinds of munchie deserts,pastas(manicotti, lasagna,shells,macaroni )egg rolls,pierogies , spaghetti........add to what I have just listed if you think of some other yummie things.
  I save flour in glass pickle jars, which my very fine friend at work saves for me.Stored flour tends to draw those moths that make webs in your storage containers and they throw great parties that overtake and make the original flour composition unrecognizable.Another way to store larger quantities of flour is in the freezer. We had missionary friends that lived in Papua,  New Guinea that needed to keep all that in the  freezer to keep the buggie population out.Worked just fine.
   I have severasl different kinds of flour~ All Purpose (cookies,pies,pastas), bread flour (higher in gluten and needed to rise), semolina (added to all purpose flour to make pastas), rye and whole wheat (low in gluten and poor risers. They need white bread flour added to make it rise well. You can also use wheat gluten to help rising but I have found it still remains dense. Add bread flour also.)

I make bread every 2 weeks. Then I make multiple loaves, cut them in half and freeze them. They stay crispy when thawed, especially if you like hot bread, heat it up a few minutes before dinner.
    I found 2 especially EXCELLENT recipes for Italian bread and NY Deli Rye bread.  Here are the sites.    Here is what I learned about this recipe. The dough will come out sticky. I use my mixer's dough hook to knead it. LEAVE it sticky!! Plop it out on a bread floured board and knead a minute or two. Do NOT cook the first few minutes on 450F. Cook the entire length on 400 F.  Follow the rest of the tips.  Also~  for the MUST make the glaze !!! But use this... I found it on a Jewish Baker's site, what they used and it's great!   " While bringing 1 cup of water to a boil, dissolve 2 TB. cornstarch in 1/4 cup cold water and stir to mix well. Mix this into the boiling water till thick & becomes clear.Brush upon the risen loaves then make 3 slices across the length of the loaf. For a high sheen brush with a 2nd time AS SOON as the bread emerges from the oven.

ITALIAN BREAD:  It is SUPER !   Request this recipe from me   @

I am still perfecting Bayonne rolls (  No town has EVER dupicated them) and whole wheat bread. I'll let you know when these come out great.

Challah bread...Beautiful, beautiful, wonderful recipe.   Email me for it.It requires braiding.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Spring planting

Ed's tractor makes plowing and harrowing so easy. 

The ground is so soft in those areas that you sink into the soil over your ankle. I lose my boots !

Seed potatoes ~each eye will make a potato plant. Just cut enough of the potato to be food for the eye while it establishes itself.These are red pontiacs. We also planted Kennebac whites.

Make a nice row.Hoe over and hill up the soil.

Cats love the freshly plowed soil. So do the chickens and turkeys. It makes searching for bugs and worms so much easier.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

What to do with the whey after making cheese

I decided to learn to make cheese~ even if it isn't cost effective. Well, maybe it is. Every year I try to learn to make something new. I've never made cheese before so ....why not now?  Last week my cheese failed. So this week I bought raw milk from the Amish, added citric acid powder to the recipe and .."Whallah" !! Excellent mozzarella !! 1 lb of cheese. It was fun and excellent fun watching curd formation, solids and the final elasticity as I stretched it in taffy like motions.Doggone HOT though to work with. Fortunately I had rubber gloves from a rotisserie kit.

End result, right here. I salted the whey for to cook the mozzarella, so then I had ALL THIS left over !! Mozzarrella on the left....whey on the right. Salted whey.What to do with all this whey ???   One heck of a lot of waste and expensive to toss to the curb.

Here we go~   make bread.Just leave the salt out of the recipe. 

Lots of it.~~"Tis a terrible curse I'm under", says my Irish. ( Is THIS what I should be doing on my vacation week?......YEPPER !)  

Loaves, sandwich rolls, hot dog rolls, Italian bread.And I STILL have more to boot. Well, tomorrow I'll use the remaining whey for rye bread and whole wheat, if there's enough.If you're a homesteader, you KNOW that all is not learned in any one year. I have made bread sine the 1970's but never consistently and I never perfected my recipes. This year, cheese and bread making will be my new attention. The ONE THING I wish I could perfect is BAYONNE ROLLS !!!!   Bought at Reith's Bakery on Ave B.  (SIGH!!!!~~~  OH, to have their recipe !)  I wonder if it was the water???  Newark Bay??? Kill Van Kull ")

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Making Jewish Rye Bread: the GOOD STUFF!

I have been searching for the great Jewish Rye bread recipe like you find in the deli section of the grocery store.It has a flavor I have never been able to duplicate..... until NOW. HAH!!   I found it. For years I've followed recipes and it never had that great taste.So, I shall share it with YOU~~~~below I will post the website but first my findings on this. It suggests malt barley extract....USE THAT one. I had a can of malt barley extract which looks like molasses. The other choices were malt ( as in a can of Carnation Malt) or honey. Been there, done that. Not the answer.You can buy malt barley extract online and it will last you a VERY LONG TIME because all you need is 1/2 TB per loaf. If you want to know WHERE to buy it locally, ask me and I will tell you.As you read the recipe, skim down to comment 163 where 'BILLIE' tells you to brush it with a cornstarch solution. This is for the glaze. Don't use egg wash. Use this.

Here is a white bread recipe.Here is also what happens when you don't pay attention. The bread came out yummy but lop sided because I let it rise too much on the last rising in the baking dish.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Pottery Crocks

I do love making sauerkraut and it must be made in the cooler months of fall & winter to turn out right, according to the old timers up here. I think it has to do with the cabbage. There is Early cabbage and the later cabbages that mature in the fall.Tonight I am breaking down the last of my sauerkraut crocks. This is a 12 gallon crock that I bought  in early February from my favorite little store down the road from me.He attends Farmer's Markets and auctions and keeps his little farm store/deli stocked with all kinds of useful items. Anyone need a horse drawn plow?? He has 2 that are refurbished. So, on a day in February, I walked into the store and low and behold, there's this 12 gallon crock sitting in the corner under the produce shelves."What a purdy thang !! " I thought. I must have it.I checked for a 'DING' when I flicked it with my thumb and index finger and it sang !   "How much is that crock back there?", I asked.   "I dunno. Is there a price on it? I think there is", the store owner said. We both searched but saw nothing.So he said"Would you give me $68.00 ?" and "Yes", I said I would. I carried my groceries to the car and the owner carried the heavy 12 gallon crock.

As we approached the car door  we both saw the $75.00 price written on a piece of masking tape that blended into the coloringof the crock. That's why we missed seeing it.I had already paid for it and had no more money$$$$. But.....righteousness is the higher level of living if you are a follower of Christ. You must pursue that and not the loop holes of the Pharisees and Lawyers that Christ rebuked. And so, the next day I found $7.00 and went back to the store and paid the difference.
Tonight I broke down the last of the sauerkraut for the year.I attempted last week but it had little flavor. I waited a week and tonight it has that BITE that makes me love it so!!  

Friday, February 28, 2014

50 lb bags and a farm

It seems that there are 50 lb bags every place I look. Horse feed, chicken feed, sheep and goat, dogs and cats.You may not like snow, but it does have it's value to me . I can transport 50 - 100 lbs of feed via toboggan across an acre or 2 with little effort.
I just bought a 50 lb bag of semolina flour because it makes the best pasta. Whatever will I do with 50 lbs of semolina flour? Divide it 3 ways between friends who are like minded. Semolina is too expensive in the 20 oz. bag distributed to grocery stores to make it worth your time going to all the trouble to make. However, buying in large quantities drops the cost dramatically.Semolina flour also makes great pizza dough.I also buy 50 lb bags of carrots and divide it with my daughter.They keep in the cellar refrigerator for many months. 
I store my flours in gallon glass jars that I get free from places that make subs and use sweet peppers or pickles. They will give them to you.They are great storage containers and keep out those wormy webby evil creatures that make their homes in your spice rack . Plastic containers just don't keep them out.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bullying and abuse in the animal kingdom

We are all aware of the abusive acts that humans impose upon animals and other human beings who cannot fight back.,but I have seen similar  miserable behaviors dished out by animals and birds.Animals are territorial and they are jealous. They establish a pecking order and will kill the weak.Sometimes they will share and go to great lengths to help others and other times ~ "It's all about me".I noticed that when my children were growing up that 2 friwnds together got along fine, but not 3 friends. The third caused conflict. I have seen the same pattern with horses.My third horse was always tip toeing into the barn to get at a morsal of hay and at the slightest whim was chased out.I've had roosters freeze to death in the snow because the head honcho refused to allow him into the coop for warmth. I bought a winter coat for my Belgian and had one ordered for the Percheron. It turned out that the one for the Belgian was a few inches too small. Therefore I switched and ordered a larger one for the Belgian and gave his to the Percheron cross.Even though he was wearing his new coat, he grew angry that the Percheron(Misty) had his previous  coat.He bit her, he chased her, he refused to allow her into the barn to eat.After 24 hours he was a better boy and got over it but he lost respect in my sight.Now, ONE of them figured out how to open the chain on the gate!!!   Wide open 2 days in a row !!   I want to know who's doing that?  (I'll bet it's the goats).

My pretty girl Misty

This is my pretty mare Misty. She's a Percheron.Quarter horse cross who is jet black and beautiful! (The camera flash creates brown highlights that are not her characteristic colors)

She's a beautiful horse who needs training and I'm fed up trying to progress at my place because of soggy wet ground or frozen ground that inhibits any activity here. 

So I called my friend Melissa McHenry who trains horses and is a real sweetheart and adores horses and the next thing I knew.....Misty was being trailored to Bloomsburg for training camp. 

I had to sew her coat with fishing line because she tore it up by her withers.But only good ol' DUCT TAPE would do the real job of holding it together (hidden from sight).And so I posted 60 different purposes for duct tape that will get you out of a jam (on F.B.)
She nickers across the driveway to other horses. She's a social gal who loves company...and people (:>

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Winter Sports for Chickens !!

The new group of Leghorn chickens have finally made it out of the cellar and into the nursery coop outside.They hatched from the incubator and 25 peeps yelled Happy New Year !!!!  Now, seven weeks later,  12 of them were crowing in the cellar.Yes, I have 12 roosters in this bunch.Now they are becoming acquainted with their new house,whispering to each other,"WOW, this is a mansion!". They scratch through the fresh pine shavings and can actually run around.

This little guy stayed glued to the door and kept looking outside , probably in wonder of the environment around him. "You mean there's more to life than the four walls of that brooder?" 

I believe in winter sports for chickens , so I took them for a toboggan ride across the farm .I have five brooders similar to this one but I prefer to make less trips so half the chickens went into each trip. 

I actually think they liked it. They had never seen the sun before.Their parents live in the adult coop on the other side of  the house, about 1.5 acres away.Eventually they'll join them.I still have 25 Jersey Giant peeps in the basement , but they are still little.They will take over the nursery coop in another 2 weeks or so. I shall look forward to new crowing from the bottom of the cellar stairs.

The daylight hours are growing longer and egg laying is dramatically picking up. Some renegade hens send me on egg hunts to the spring house, under junked appliances out back and now recently......this is why you must remember to close your car windows at night. A sudden leap in the car while you're racing against the clock to get to work........just might make you late. This is why I must always keep an extra clean uniform handy , waiting to greet me from its hanger. I never know WHAT experiences these animals will bring on any given day.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Beautiful Snowy Winter February 2014

I don't remember seeing the ground since the end of December, it seems. We have had snow on top of snow. While the lower areas had snow melt,  my village is on top of the mountain and barely does snow melt but more arrives to squelch that idea. Right now I trudge through 18" of snow accumulations in the back yard to get to the nursery coop that I have been trying to get set up.I currently have 25 Leghorn chickens, born in January, in the cellar in brooders that are crowing. I also have 25 Jersey Giant peeps that are 1.5 weeks old. Still not a problem and they will remain downstairs for a few more weeks until they are feathered out.Hopefully I'll be able to finish the nursery coop today.

Turkeys are strutting where they can find a shallow snowy area and the chickens prefer to remain on their roosts in the adult coop.

Ducks plow along the surface in the deeper snow and fortunately don't sink The depth is over my knees here. They come to the garage to get their grain and socialize.The pond is frozen with only a smaller little circle of water where a spring bubbles to the surface. These guys are on their way there now for a little swim.As my friend April would say,"You know it's cold out when you see cattle walking across the pond !". I got a good laugh from that one.
 Country roads  have the appearance of "All Quiet On The Farm" during frigid winter days that is deceiving because within the barns new life is being born .We had 2 little lambs born to Sweetpea,our ewe.

These babies were leaping and playing even though temps hit zero degrees the night after they were born. How do they survive such cold?

They grow so fast and they are so affectionate Here's my Little Lamb (:>  (I'm referring to the one in the brown hat with the moustache)

I don't know what Johnnycake is laughing about. He just got his tail banded.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Winter : A great time to can meats , hearty soups and stews.

It's too cold outside to do much more than feed and water the animals.The manure is like immobile cast iron frozen to the ground. No barn cleaning these days.So I wander about my house looking for something indoors to do. Ahhhh!!!  A few empty canning jars in the cellar gathering dust. I snatch them up, scavenge about in the freezer and find hotsy totsy Italiano sausages just begging to be delivered from their icy cave.Sausage cans up beautifully . I also thaw out bags of frozen tomatoes and bell peppers I stored up from a bumper crop this past summer.Red and yellow peppers add pretty color .
 I sliced up a large onion and, after browning the sausage with diced garlic cloves in olive oil ( in my cast iron pot), stirred it quickly into the sausage.A quick toss of the bell peppers into the pot,stir, then add just enough tomatoes to coat the sausages. Not too much.  Add oregano, fresh or frozen chopped basil leaves , a little salt and pepper and WHALLAH!!  Fill the jars and can away (10 lbs pressure for 90 min for quarts.)

The kitchen is now toasty warm despite frigid temps outside.
Sausages also make yummy soup with vegetables . I use my little red potatoes I dug up in the fall and keep in the cellar refrigerator.Don't bother to peel them.Just cut them up into bite size pieces.Add frozen mixed vegetables ,onion ,garlic,pepper and salt and another frozen bag of tomatoes (thawed in the microwave) and mix it all together in a big pot. Add a few TBS. of cornstarch mixed in a little water to thicken the broth.I also add beef boullion cubes,around 3 cubes per QT of water added.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Challah beard~ WONDERFUL Challah bread!!!

The most WONDERFUL bread in the world is challah bread !!  Because  I don't live in a Jewish area of the state of Pa., I had to learn to make my own challah bread. That's OK , because on line are the recipes of the best ! Vanity dictates letting others know. HAH HAH !!  Their secrets fell into my lap (:> So~~~~~~  I softened the yeast~~~~   then I aded the other ingredients~~~~~   then I kneaded away~~   and thought of you  !!!!~~~~~   hahahaahhahhahaha    yummy    yummy    yummyyyyyy!!!

And here she comes !!!Maybe I'll bring some to work~~~~~      and maybe I won't.       HAHA!!!!    (:>