Posts from the ‘Homesteading’ Category

Setback :(

And to top everything else off (I wrote the previous post a couple weeks ago and scheduled   it to post today), ALL my chickens that got moved to the back yard have moved on to their final reward, thanks to some unnamed predator 😦 And I was really enjoying watching my Ameracauna rooster strut around, too.

I do have 7 more biddies/bitties (baby chickens for those of you not from the south) on the front porch under a heat lamp at night – 3 pullets: 1 Ameracauna, 1 Rhode Island Red, and 1 Australorp, and 4 bantams – don’t know boys / girls or breeds, although 3 I highly believe to be BB Reds, and 1 is a feather footed something. Now to figure out how to predator proof the chicken coop in 2-3 more weeks so I can safely move them out there. Contemplating getting either a Golden Comet or a Barred Rock pullet – last 2 breeds we have in stock here at the hardware/feed store. Well, we still have lots of RIR’s, but I already have one of those.

‘Course, my 4 very stupid – very cute, but very stupid ducks are thriving! I promise a post of pics with the ducks eventually just because they are so cute. Might just be learning to like duck eggs, since whatever the predator is (possum is what we’re leaning towards) has left the ducks alone. Although, either way, still got another 4 months or so before either ducks start laying eggs, and another 5 or so before the biddies I have left start laying.

Signing off now,

Beth

Update on Life

I have a rare extra few minutes, so here’s an update on what’s been going on since January. (Disclaimer – I’d like for there to be pix, but those are what take forever, so, sorry, you’ll just have to Google stuff, I guess :shrug )

My “I love my job” has turned into an absolute dream job! I’m officially still doing taxes, but about 6 weeks ago or so, tax business really started slowing down, and spring inventory really started to pick up … ummm, let me back up a bit further.

My boss (wonderful lady, love her!) has a local tax office. She and her husband own the local feed/hardware store. (Somewhere in the archives – time again, or I’d go digging for the link to it – is a blog post where I actually talk about The General Store; that’s the place πŸ™‚ )

So, as I was saying, tax business started slowing down, and spring inventory started really coming in, and another pair of computer-knowledgeable hands to get said inventory into the computer was wanted, so I got drafted! And I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! It can be crazy hectic at times when the store is filled with customers, and there’s an office (or a warehouse) full of inventory that needs to be put into the computer, but that’s the nature of the beast. Oh, and I forgot to mention – the C’s have 3 kids of their own, a 7- and 6- year old girl, and a 9-month old girl. So if Teddy has to come to work with me, that’s perfectly ok, because odds are good their girls will be also. And how cool is it (I know, not everybody would think so, but I enjoy it) that part of my job description is “Here, hold the baby.” πŸ˜‰

Side benefits of working where I do – I get a dozen farm fresh eggs about every week (whenever I run out, I just ask for more).Β  But in about 5 – 6 more months, I won’t need to ask. I bought chickens! Don’t know yet if I have boys or girls, I (currently) have 4 total – 2 Aracauna’s (break out google again; these are the ones that lay the Easter Eggs), and 2 bantams (smaller chickens). My bantams, based on my own google searches, are 1 each Silver Sebright, and 1 either B.B. Red (also know as Cubalaya which I stated in an earlier post as a chicken that I want πŸ˜€ ) or Silver Duckwing (which is just a cool name πŸ˜‰ ). The hatchery the store orders from sends bantams not only as straight run (they won’t separate the boys from the girls) but as assorted bantams, which means there are all kinds of breeds too. My bantam that’s an either/or also brings new meaning to the term “small” – it is TINY compared not only to the full-size (but still growing) chickens, but also to the other bantam. We are getting in more chickens in 3 weeks, though πŸ˜€ This batch will be all pullets (all hens – 90% accuracy says the hatchery), and I plan to get 2 more Aracauna. We’re also getting in just a few more of the assorted, straight run bantams. If I see anymore with the markings of my cute itty-bitty biddy πŸ˜‰Β  (which is why I picked that one – it was just so cute!) I plan to get those also.

I LOVE my chickens! They are finally starting to make the occasional “cluck” noise, instead of just the “peep” of a baby bird noise. I love to go sit and just watch my “chickie birds” as I call them, or sometimes I call ’em “the clucks.” Very relaxing to me to just sit and watch.

I am also the proud (wasn’t so sure about that til last night, but that’s a whole other L-O-N-G story we won’t go into) owner of 4 Khaki Campbell ducks (go google that one πŸ˜‰ ) – they’re almost 5 weeks old now and they’re HUGE! Still not ready for the pond though, which is why I bought them (so we’d have ducks in the pond). So my stinky – yet loveable – ducks are hanging out in the dog kennel in the back yard for a while longer. Gotta wait til they’re fully feathered so they have the best chance of getting away from the natural predators we have around here (coyote, fox, owl, etc). And in the meantime, I fill the water tub once a day, and the food dish twice a day (who knew ducks ate so much?!?), and supplement with the earliest of the spring vegetables that didn’t sell at the store that we know nobody’s gonna buy (like, ummm, say, broccoli that’s already bolted πŸ˜‰ ) And should they truly survive and thrive, I discovered by reading my “Encyclopedia of Country Living” (go google that one, too, if you don’t know about that book) I did good, because they are the best egg laying ducks! And I just bought ’em cuz they were cute πŸ™‚ (One of the kids that comes into the store calls them “Chocolate Ducks” and they name has stuck for us.) My ducks are (not always affectionately) known as “The Quack Pack,” and it’s been nice to actually hear some quacks instead of just baby bird “cheeps.”

So, I love my job, and I know own critters πŸ™‚ There was a little more I wanted to cover, but I gotta get ready to go to work! One last thing though – 28 March made 9 months smoke-free!!!!

(not previewing, just hitting post, so please forgive any typos)

South Georgia "Growing Local" Conference (via the irresistible fleet of bicycles)

REALLY hoping I can go to this πŸ™‚

South Georgia "Growing Local" Conference South Georgia “Growing Local” Conference November 12, 2010 – November 13, 2010 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM Registration is now open for the South Georgia Growing Local Food Conference to be held Nov. 12 and 13 at the UGA Black Shank Farm in Tifton, Georgia! The conference is intended to educate and stimulate the local-food and healthy-food movement in southern Georgia. Events begin on Friday afternoon with a self-guided farm tour, followed by an Okravore P … Read More

via the irresistible fleet of bicycles

Dream big – critter wishlist

I hate when I can’t sleep. I was exhausted, I get up from the recliner doing computer-y/facebook-y things, I fix the coffee pot for in the morning (I’d love a french press – Christmas present idea, anybody, hint, hint), take my shower, and proceed to lay in the bed tossing and turning from 11-12:30 before I decide to get up and get some of the thoughts OUT of my head and ONTO the computer screen, in hopes that MAYBE they’ll shut up and let me sleep.

So I just posted one blog on what’s been running around in my head (read previous entry), now for a dreaming entry for a few years down the road. πŸ˜‰ I’ve been saying that I want goats for dairy and some meat, chickens for eggs and meat, and most likely rabbits for meat and tanning hides. And then I come across this website: American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. I’m sure by know you’re familiar with the whole hybrid/heritage plant seed thing – well, this is pretty much the same thing, but with animals instead of plants! And most of the breeds are endangered, and it lets you know the breeds unique to North America, and which are feral (or at least started that way).

I have decided, I want the Cubalaya chicken! They just look cool πŸ™‚ And they’re supposedly very tame, too, and good layers of not-white eggs. (Mama doesn’t want white eggs b/c it’s easier to pick the shell out if it’s brown – and she makes a VERY good point I’ve discovered in the 18 months I’ve lived here.)

Rabbits – It’s gonna be the Silver Fox Rabbit for my homestead. Love that silver/black fur! (The white bunnies with the pink “lab rat” eyes just creep me out *shudder*)

Based on the list, I still haven’t decided on a goat breed, although the Tennessee Fainting Goat does just sound nifty, but not what I need if my primary goal is milk. Maybe the arapawa goat, but it doesn’t say if it’s a good milker or not, although I’d hazard a guess it might be since it was the goats colonists brought over. I also keep coming back to the Nigerian Dwarf Goat, because they’re cool looking, and small, and most likely not to have horns(!), but there’s also the fact of – the smaller the goat, the smaller the teat, which means the smaller surface available to figure out how to milk. But lots of people do it; why couldn’t I?

I had also not been thinking pigs AT ALL (I do like my bacon and pulled pork, though), until I saw the handsome face of the Guinea Hog, also known as the Pineywoods Guinea, Acorn Eater, and Yard Pig – well gee, we live in pine country, surrounded by oak trees, and in further reading of the article, wanna know why they were kept in the yard? Snake patrol! THAT’S my kinda pig πŸ˜€ S/he might find a home on my homestead, after all!

And sheep is another one I hadn’t been thinking about. Doesn’t it just get too stinkin’ hot down here in south/central GA for sheep? Apparently not for the Gulf Coast Native Sheep. They don’t grow wool on their face, legs, and bellies, and are resistant to some other stuff that other sheep breeds aren’t down here in the deep humid south. And since I like to crochet, and that takes yarn, and yarn can be made from wool…. Maybe. I could also achieve similar results with good ol’ “southern snow” – aka “the touch, the feel, of cotton. The fabric of our lives” (must be sung in your head with the smooth sultry tones of Aaron Neville…. ;-))

And I know I’d been thinking goats instead of cows. More goats in the same amount of land, the milk is supposedly better for us, goats are SMALLER and weigh less, but isn’t the Red Poll Cow pretty? And I’ll save you a trip to Google – poll means “no horns.” (you’re welcome :-)) And they’re red, too! (Have you figured out a theme here yet – color, I like color!)

And even though it’s something I hadn’t consciously thought about, I do want ducks and geese. (We’ve got plenty of wild turkeys, they hide in the pine trees and gobble at me early in the morning.) I like the Cotton Patch Goose breed, especially if I decide to do the aforementioned, ahem, cotton patch. But for another reason, too. When I was in high school, our church youth group performed a musical called “The Cotton Patch Gospel.” (Gimme a shout out if you’ve heard of it….) It’s essentially the life of Christ, set in rural GA. The writers were pretty accurate, and figured out the correct distances between all the biblical cities, and transferred that over to GA cities – a lot of it takes place in Gainsville, GA. And instead of being crucified, Jesus is strung up by a lynch mob. Now back to our regular scheduled blog πŸ˜‰

Ducks – I know I want ducks, but just haven’t picked one yet. There’s not a breed that “speaks to me” like in the other animal categories. I mean, what’s a pond without ducks?

And a donkey, I know I want a donkey for guard purposes (you can thank my sister for putting this thought in my head).

And in addition to all the yard cats (I know, I know, I still haven’t posted obligatory cute cat pix – I’ll get there), I want 2 house cats once I have a house of my own πŸ˜‰

And I think that’s it, but I’m not really sure, b/c FINALLY I’m yawning good and having problems keeping my eyes open. So hopefully I can go lay down again and actually go to sleep this time.

Enjoying the AppleΒ Butter

I’m pretty much just gonna let the pictures do the talking in this one, with a big thank you to our Pastor’s wife for the homemade wheat bread – prepare to be jealous (unless youΒ  have your own apple butter, that is!) πŸ˜‰

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Apple Butter!

As promised, here is my first canning experience, the joys, fun, and wonders of APPLE BUTTER :D, fully documented in pictures!

My recipe is based on the Sweet Apple Cider Butter Recipe at FreshPreserving.com πŸ™‚

If mine looks a little different, it’s because mine is out of a beginner’s canning booklet put out by Ball:

The Sweet Apple Cider Recipe is on the next to last page:

My el-cheapo apples! I was thrilled to see these in the store πŸ˜€ They had all kinds of apples lined up in 3 lb bags at $3.99/bag, and I had my hands on 2 bags of Gala apples – when I saw these lovely Golden Delicious, BOTH bags on sale/clearance for $1.20/bag! That’s not a problem, I’m gonna use ’em up real quick-like making apple butter πŸ™‚

The apple cider – and that, folks, is my raw ingredients!

3 lbs of apples peeled, quartered, and cored, another 1/2 bag to go

4-1/2 lbs apples, ready to go!

The peels, cores, and stems from approx 4-1/2 lbs of apples – can we say “compost pile”

The lonely 3 apples that didn’t go in the pot – LOVE the leaves still attached!

(There were actually 4, but Teddy couldn’t help himself and snacked on an apple – kid LOVES apples!)

I was wondering how that many apples and only 1-1/2 cups of cider would get the apples soft in cooking – that’s how! After about 5 minutes, this is what it looked like πŸ™‚

After about 25/30 minutes, they’d cooked down to this, and are good and soft and ready to puree. I LOVE the effect the steam gives the pic!

This, folks, is my handy-dandy, super-duper, WONDERFUL, Tupperware Quick Chef – otherwise known as a hand-cranked food processor!

And since it was my brand new toy, I pureed the first batch (one downfall, it only holds 4 cups, so for maximum efficiency, you can only puree about 1-1/2 cups at a time), but Teddy was oh-so-willing to demonstrate and be my model for batch #2

6 cups of apple puree – aka applesauce if I’d stopped right here! Had to do some quick math in my head for the next step, because the recipe called for 9 cups of puree. So I’d figured then that I’d only get 2 pint jars instead of 3 😦 Don’t know if I let the initial cook-down go too long, or if I just should’ve used more apples. It just tastes yummy wonderful, though, so I’m not complaining too much πŸ˜‰

bubbling away, with sugar, cinnamon, and cloves added – I was starting to wonder if it was ever going to thicken enough!

So while I waited, here’s what I did:

Got the jars warming and the lids simmering….

And took pix of (some of) my new Tupperware! This is a small canister (got my coffee in it) and my Quick Shake Container. The canister is from a set of 4, it’s actually labeled Hispanic collection or something like that because of the flowers. I just know I liked it, and it will go wonderfully well with my (future) Coca-Cola kitchen – loving that the Tupperware colors right now are RED and WHITE!

This is the Chop-n-Prep, and if you wanna fine-dice some herbs/onions/etc, THIS is the way to go. It even comes with the lid so that you can take the blade out and store whatever you finely minced in it. Teddy calls it the lawnmower because you pull the little cord (the white handle thing in the pic) like when you crank a lawnmower πŸ˜‰

This is the SmartSteamer (I got it as one of my 1/2-priced items). The microwaves are directed away from the food and only into the water tray at the bottom, so that the food is truly steamed. Best broccoli I’ve EVER eaten! I love broccoli raw, and I usually like it cooked – but drowned in sauce. This was just straight, steamed broccoli, with only the occasional flavoring that dripped from the marinaded chicken in the top tray. DELISH!

And so you can see the two cooking trays and lids, here ya go πŸ˜‰

I got two sets of these Empanada Makers/Pie Presses (total of 4) – can’t wait to make my own Hot Pockets! So much healthier πŸ™‚

Teddy wanting to get in another pic

For now at least, this is what I’m using my Thatsa Mega Bowl for – Perler Bead storage! Also, I got 4 sets of the Midgees (2 oz shot glasses, essentially), but they are perfect for sorting and storing the different colors of beads πŸ™‚

Tupperware not pictured (already put into storage): the other 3 canisters, the measuring cup and spoon set (Why is Tupperware the ONLY company that includes the 2/3 and 3/4 cup measuring cup?), the Mix-n-Store pitcher, the Saucy Silicone Spatula, and the Double Colander. (Yes I know, I made out like a BANDIT! Thanks so much if you helped make it possible by ordering from my party!)

This is another round of Pumpkin Yumminess ready to go in the oven. And yes, that’s a Perfect Brownie Pan. No, I’m NOT thrilled with it. This is only the 2nd time I’ve used it, and it was a Christmas gift last year. At least this time, the batter didn’t leak out onto the cookie sheet. But I still had to bake a LOT longer than the time listed on the box in order for the middle square to be done. In my opinion, it doesn’t turn the inside brownies into “corner” brownies as advertised. Now is it cool because everything’s evenly cut? Absolutely. But I’m just not thrilled with it.

By now, I THINK the Apple Butter is about ready….

See how much it’s cooked down? The question is, does it “hold its shape on a spoon?”

and about 8 seconds later…

looks good to me!

(If that’s not what “holding shape on spoon” is, PLEASE somebody let me know if I need to let it cook down longer ;-))

ahhh …. finally! The moment I’ve been waiting for πŸ˜€

My 2 jars of apple butter, processing away!

2 jars of apple butter, steam canned πŸ˜€

And there they are! All done and cooling and resting and such. AND SEALED!

And I leave you with oven-baked Pumpkin Yumminess
Had to do 2 pans worth – pay no attention to the “hole” in the back pan; had to test for quality, ya know πŸ˜‰

And it’s SO much better baked in the oven than the microwave!

God bless!

Free Stuff!

So I mentioned a couple days ago that I won a giveaway. Well, after a visit from Mr. UPS man and Mr. Fed-Ex man on Wednesday, and the UPS guy again today, it’s officially all here!

My Steam Canner (I LOVE IT!) and the Canning Tools

Close-up of what tools I got in the canning kit

My fancy canning jar πŸ˜‰

This is a .30 litre (that’s 10 oz to us) amphora jar. The one piece lids are even pretty!

See? Even the lid says it’s Made in Italy!

Diametro 70 mm – lucky for me, that’s the exact same as the standard Ball canning lids πŸ˜€

And notice the pretty little detailed “handle” on the side

I know it doesn’t show up well in the pic, but the glass has a pretty floral design in it, too

My 3 pretty Italian jars! The other two are .5 litre, or 17 oz, and also have the pretty floral design on them

Once I get used to canning, I can’t wait to use these!

And here’s my lovely steam canner, hard at work πŸ˜€ If you look above the date, you can see the steam plume jetting out

This lovely is multi-talented, too! The steam dome (top part) can also be used as a 15-qt stock pot, and the bottom can also be used as a roaster. It can process 7 pints or quarts at a time (I almost felt bad only doing 2 pints) for at least an hour only 6-8 CUPS of water, and the process time is the same as traditional water-bath canning. You just start timing once the steam plume hits 8″ πŸ™‚

And tomorrow, pictures of APPLE BUTTER! Okay, okay, one sneak peak:

Ain’t it bee-you-ti-ful? My first ever canning experience πŸ˜€

Can’t wait to taste this yumminess on some homemade wheat bread! (There wasn’t enough to make the 3rd pint jar – what a shame! – but it means I’ve got some in the fridge NOW – yippee!)