Tuesday, December 31, 2013

End of Year....

Some of the group that gathered for Christmas!

And this is what happens when you let the girls lick the bowl when you are finished making Christmas fudge! There was NO calming them down!

We had a wonderful Christmas this year again! Time is just slipping by so fast, I'm having a really hard time keeping up. We've been home since the weekend before Thanksgiving, but will be moving lock, stock and milk cow back to Coldspring in the next couple of days. We had planned to go yesterday, but had to attend the funeral of Jeff's cousin's daughter, Willie Marrie, who passed away on Friday after a two year battle with breast cancer. She was only 32 years old and leaves behind a husband and 3 children-please keep them in your prayers. Ricky also lost his stepdad a week before Christmas-so my break has been taken up with funerals-too sad for this time of year.
We've been thinking alot on the goals we had for this past year-mainly the getting out of debt one. God is so good-we can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel and several of our debts are very close to being paid off! We were able to put a substancial dent in our debt and hopefully the next 6 months will see us free and clear of nearly everything other than my truck note-God willing! The garden did very well and we were able to can and freeze alot of veggies this year. I didn't do a good job at all of keeping track of it here on the blog, but I do have a tally on a calendar in the camper-so I'll get caught up on it in the next few days so I can get started on the income taxes.
Happy New Year Everyone!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Alana & Ricky!!!

Ricky & Alana got married on Saturday! They had a quick ceremony at the Justice of the Peace's home, then went back to our Church for the reception.
 The kiddos
 The ceremony
And she was really worried he was gonna smear cake on her face! She got a little tickled!

It's been REALLY cold here this week! It snowed about 45 minutes north of here today-but it didn't stick. :(
I'm off this week-but we had to take Jeff's mom to the ER on Sunday afternoon-COPD and weather changes set it off-we got to bring her home this afternoon-Thank you, God!
We had a calf born weekend before last-about a month early from our calculations-but when we found it-he was in the gully and had been there way too long. He was very weak and limp. We tried to warm him up and get him to nurse-he was too far gone :(  He died before midnight. We have another heifer due at the first of the year-hopefully things will go much better this time around! We did borrow a jersey bull from a friend the same weekend and hopefully the milk cow is now bred. We have her and the Dexter at home since we have so much going on here right now and need to be home now instead of in Coldspring. We have several regular milk customers now, but still have an abundance that the pigs enjoy!
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Raw Milk for Sale!!

Jeff making butter with his grandmother's antique butter churn-It took us years to find the a replacement jar for it. When we got it-the jar had long been gone! Homemade butter from your own milk cow is one of the most wonderful tasting stuff ever!

The four little pigs we bought-Shorty bought 2 and we got the other 2. We bought them way too soon-they should have stayed with the sow for a few more weeks-but Shorty insisted on getting them! So, they have been enjoying lots of excess milk! And they are growing like weeds!
 And Jeff working his bees-this hive has been down close to the creek all summer and isn't doing very well. We had 2 hives there-but lost one. It hasn't been a good year for the bees in the area :(  We haven't harvested much honey at all. Jeff and Shorty tried to capture some wild bees a few weeks ago from a house-we actually thought we had them-queen and all only to realize 2 days later they were gone. I'm sure we will try again. We did buy 1 more established hive from around Huntsville and they are doing great-coming and going loaded down with pollen!

Picture of us on vacation in Arkansas in July. We had been staying at Caddo Lake with Sheila and Alfred and when it was time to go home-we decided we weren't ready to go home-so we drove to Washington State Park for the day.

OK-back to the milk! We are drowning in it! We are selling it for $5.00 a gallon if anyone in the area would like to try some out! Jeff's still milking twice a day-and we've weaned the calf-so we are getting around 4 gallons a day! Sad thing is-we are having to feed it to the pigs and chickens-well, that's not so bad after all-it sure isn't going to waste!
The young pullets have started laying-YEAH! We have 10 of them left-and only 2 from the old flock and are getting anywhere from 4-7 eggs a day. So either some aren't laying yet-or they are taking turns! One is laying a dark green egg-and we are getting a pink one! Most are pretty shades of green and blue. One of the older hens is a Rhode Island Red-so she lays a pretty brown egg.
We've been staying so busy I haven't had time to post and not much time to even take any pictures. I've been working some Saturdays. Church has been keeping us busy. And some of the best news-our daughter Alana is getting married on Nov 23rd! It will be a private small ceremony with a reception at our Church fellowship hall afterwards with BBQ and all the fixins. Her and Ricky have 2 little girls together so we are glad they have finally decided to do the right thing.
I'm still working on mastering the cheese making-I'm not having a lot of success-don't know what I'm doing wrong-but I do have an idea that I'm gonna try next time I get a chance. Jeff is going to make us a cheese press when he gets a chance so we can try our hand at cheddar cheese. He just finished building a new shed to milk in that is connected to the barn, so when it's raining, he doesn't have to carry the milk in the rain. I got a pic of it when he started on it-just gotta get down there for a pic of the finished shed-along with the concrete slab! Hopefully it won't take me 2 months to get back to posting!
Have a good evening!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Pears & Hay

We picked up pears from the trees on the property and got them canned yesterday. The temperature was lower outside-the first little cool front we've had-can Fall be too far behind???

My always helpful hubby-he finished peeling the pears while I went in and got the syrup ready. The cows stood at the fence and begged for the peels.

Cooking in the syrup-smells wonderful!

And all done-6 pints and 1 quart-all ready for pies or cobblers!

And more honey!! 9 pints and 6 half pints-Yummy!!

We spent the afternoon getting hay. Found some bale hay first, and when we got there to get it-it was a friend of Jeff's that he used to work with. So we had a good long visit with them. Then went the other direction and picked up 4 rolls of hay. So hopefully with that and the other we need to pick up-we'll have enough to make it through.
We got our first egg yesterday from the pullets yesterday too! Kinda small, but they'll get bigger and hopefully more a day are on the way. Bad news is, something tore into the coop at home and killed the rooster and all but 2 of the laying hens! :( So the pullets will have to start laying or we will have to buy eggs-oh no!!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce!!

I finally got around to making some homemade spaghetti sauce last weekend and if I can say so myself, this stuff turned out good!!! The recipe I used is at the end of this post and was really quite easy and fun to make-if you have lots of good help in the kitchen!
 All of the onions, peppers, etc-I actually chopped these up the night before and let them set in the frig to get a head start in the morning. Man did it smell good when I opened the frig!

Here is a picture of my help for the morning! Jordan helped get the tomatoes ready, and Suzanne and I juiced them up. Ignore all the extra stuff on the counters-Alana was busy making and decorating the birthday cake for Suzanne and Kaytlynn's party later that afternoon. Some days my kitchen just isn't big enough for all of us!

Once we begin to put everything together, I realized I didn't have a pot big enough to cook it in! OH NO!!! Jeff's mom suggested using my roaster and what a great idea it was! As you can tell, it couldn't have held much more, but what a wonderful smell throughout the house-even could smell it from outside. It was great!!

And just like we've done all year, we processed the jars outside on Jeff's fish cooker. We ended up with 14 quarts-well one is not quite full. Only one didn't seal, Jeff used it over a slow cooked rabbit this week and it was very tasty! Alana used a jar for spaghetti one night-Jordan didn't like it, but Suzanne ate 2 plates full!

We finally got most of the Jacob's Cattle Beans shelled and put up-9 pint jars. They are so pretty and taste really good. All the grandkids helped-even Kylee, but she did put 2 up her nose! Alana was able to remove them without a trip to the Doctor-she's going through that stage at the moment!!

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
12 Qts of Tomato Juice
6 Cups Onions-chopped
3 Cups Peppers-chopped-I used bell, 4 jalapenos, pimento-whatever you have on hand
1 Cup Green Onions-chopped
4 Stalks celery-Pureed
1/2 Cup Salt
2 Cups Sugar
14 Small Cloves of Garlic-Pureed
8 Heaping Tablespoons of Basil
40 Ounces of Tomato Paste
14 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning

Mix all ingredients together and bring to a boil. You'll need a large pot or roaster. Turn heat down and simmer for an hour. Pour into hot canning jars, wipe rims and add seals and rings. Process in water bath canner for 40 minutes.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

More Goodies and some of the Best News Ever!!!

This is how one of the pumpkins ended up! 6 packs of cooked goodness to use in pies or maybe bread-I haven't had the time to check it out yet, but I'm bettin' on it being yummy!

And a little more honey from just 3 frames from the stump hive in the front yard at home-I'm gonna have to remember to take a picture of that thing-it's a sight!

Jeff and I picked 2 gallons of grapes before leaving for Church last Sunday morning and Jordan decided to help me juice them..... Just LOVE that face!!!

This was my idea of how to do it, but I think he was doing just as well, if not better! We ended up with about 12 cups of juice that had to go straight into the freezer 'cause again, I was out of time! I'll do something??? with it later-jelly or?

Ok-the best news ever-Jordan and Cayden were baptized on Sunday as well! They were saved along with Suzanne during VBS! We are so proud and happy for them!
Been back at work now for 2 weeks-boy are we busy! Got lots to do and time will be getting short real soon. We still don't have a boss, hopefully they will hire someone really good before too long.
Jeff and I are heading down to Lake Jackson to see Randy, Casey, and Peyton. We haven't seen them since he was born, so since I'm off tomorrow, we're gonna head that way and come home on Saturday.
Been pretty hot around here, we did get some rain on Sunday afternoon. The garden is gone, might have some more peas, peppers and a few tomatoes here and there. I haven't decided yet if I want to do a fall garden or not-staying here in the camper, we just don't have room for anything else! The milk cow and calf are still doing very well-Jeff's still milking twice a day. Have 2 last litters of rabbits coming on-they will be ready to butcher soon. It's just too hot here in the summer to try to raise anymore this time of year. And one of the 12 pullets Jeff bought in the Spring is crowing!! She turned out to be what looks to soon be a beautiful americauna rooster!! Our older one is apparently sterile-we tried 2 times to hatch eggs and they were all infertile. He's looking alot like the pretty one I lost to the chicken hawk a few years back, so I guess I can deal with loosing a pullet to become our new rooster!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Canning Update-How We Can Green Beans & Pictures!

Our canning has taken on a very different angle this summer. Since we are still living out of our travel trailer at my moms, everything we've put up this year has been canned outside on Jeff's fish fryer. And to be completely honest-this has worked out wonderfully! We did use it once last year to can potatoes, but it sure keeps the heat out of the kitchen.

We feel green beans are one of the easiest to can. We basically raw pack everything-so fresh, snapped beans go straight into jars-add a little less than a teaspoon salt-fill the jars with hot, boiling water-wipe the rims-and put on the rings and seals. We then put them in the canner and crank up the burner and process them @10lbs pressure for 20 minutes. (I think that's the right about of time-Always check your canning book-I have to each year cause I can't remember anymore! :)

And here is the finished product! Mom's water leaves a film on the outside of the jars, but we just wipe it off and always label them with the year so we know how old they are. We still have lots from last year, so we weren't too worried about putting too many up this year. Also notice the white seals. We bought 4 boxes of the Tattler lids this past winter-caught them on sale and got a pretty good deal on them! I read a review that wasn't so good after the purchase, so I was a little worried using them. I've only had 1 not seal, and I really think it was user error. They are sealed up nice and tight, so we'll see!

These are about half of the potatoes we dug and boy have they been good! We've canned 14 quarts of them and will can soup stock with the ones we don't eat. They make the BEST potato salad and mashed potatoes with fresh butter!

Canned corn-alot of the ears came from our garden, but Alfred did share his bounty with us-Thanks! We've put up 20 pints cut off the cob. We seem to eat it faster that way and will add the rest of it-currently in the freezer- to the left over potatoes, peas, and green beans for the above mentioned soup stock!

Picante sauce-I just made 18 pint jars today-so I don't know quite how this taste yet. We go through alot of this stuff as well, so I never seem to have enough. But I was able to use our tomatoes and some from Paige & Tommy, along with some mom got for me. And the peppers-hot and bell-all came from our garden! We still have tomatoes in the freezer to use later on. I like to freeze them first-it causes the peels to just slip off-you don't have to put them in boiling water. The only problem I've had doing it this way is there is too much water in them-not just juice, and you may need to drain them a little bit.

The patty squash-this was the first year we grew these and we loved them. I don't can my squash-just slice it up and freeze it.

And the pumpkins-this is a first for us-we've never planted any before. We had a few feet of row between the squash and cukes and I had an old package of pumpkin seeds from the dollar store-so I just planted them and they took off! We have a total of 5 or 6 and I need to make pumpkin pie filling. I wanted to can it, but all the recipes say you have to freeze it. Does anyone out there have a canned pumpkin pie filling recipe?? I'd love to have it!

We finally got around to getting the Jacob's Cattle Beans out of the garden today. I worked on them this morning-then Jeff finished pulling them this afternoon. They have to just dry in the garden on the vine-so we had to leave 'em alone til they are ready. We will shell them out and vacumn seal them in jars. They are so pretty and we will be saving some to plant again next year!

The peas have just produced like crazy again this year as well! We planted the saved Louisania Quick Picks from last year and they did just as well as before-14 quarts is what we've canned-but 2 jars busted in the canner-so we lost those :(  I just hate when that happens, but alot of my jars are really getting old and some are ones we've picked up at yard sales. so...... Anyway, they slowed down making-we've been giving them away-thought they were finished-but this morning they are covered in blooms again! We were just gonna let the last of them dry for next year's seed, but may end up with more to can!

So, we've had a busy canning season so far, and it doesn't quite seem to be over yet! But God is SO good to provide for us!! We are so blessed! We are going to be taking a road trip with our friends Sheila and Alfred this next week up to Caddo Lake for a few days and then I go back to work on the 15th of July. My boss retired last week, and they haven't hired anyone as of yet and we also have a new Superintendent, so things could really be different when I go back to work. The new grandbaby had a few rough days but finally got to go home today-we were so relieved! He kept choking and turning blue-not while eating-and developed a strong case of jaundice. But all was back to normal today, so they got to go home! Thank you God for everything!

Friday, June 28, 2013

We Have a New Grandson!!

Casey delivered him via c-section last night. She had a pretty long and hard labor-gave it all she had-but in the end, William Peyton was just too big! He weighed in at 9 lbs 9 ounces and is 21 and a half inches long!
He is a beautiful baby and both of them are doing great today.
 Proud parents!!

And proud grandparents as well!!

We spent 2 days at the hospital with them-we actually were on the beach at High Island when Randy called to say they were admitting her. So we came home-2 hour drive-got cleaned up and drove the hour plus into Houston. Came home late, then got up and went back on Thursday morning and didn't leave til around 11pm last night. It was all very much worth it!

We've been so busy around here the last few weeks that I haven't even had time to think about getting anything posted. I've taken pictures of different things happening, so I hope to get to those in the next few days. Been doing lots of canning-the garden has really had us hopping-along with the twice a day milkings! Actually have the second canner of corn about to come off now-no it is time-Gotta go!!!!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

God's Garden Bounty, Honey, and Homemade Butter!

God was SO good to us on Thursday-well, He is good to us all the time! When I got home from work I went out to the garden to pick what I thought might be about a gallon bucket of green beans, only to find my bucket filled to the rim in only a few feet of picking. We ended up with 6 gallons of beans, pretty ones with almost no bug holes at all. Then on to the squash, ours have never produced this much before! And they are full of blooms and I even saw a few small patty squash. There are cucumbers about ready to pick and Jeff dug a few potatoes yesterday and made potato salad for supper-it was so good! And we got rain later that evening-lots of it in fact. We weren't too happy about the hail we were getting, but it did only a little damage to the garden. It rained again on and off yesterday and through the night, so we've been greatly blessed and the garden is VERY happy.
 Jeff and Mr. Tom worked our bee hives the same day. The older one had built a good bit of comb up between the frames, so they took it out. We have the one jar of honey, but still need to put the rest of the comb into jars.
 We finally got around to making butter today. I started out shaking it, but was also working on making cheese again at the same time, so Jeff came to my rescue and took over with the shaking.
 It's butter! Jeff said someone ask him one time what he put in it to turn it yellow. He said nothing, God does that!
All the buttermilk worked out and now it's ready to try. We had some left over yeast rolls from supper last night and it was wonderful on them!

Lady and her calf, she still doesn't quite have a name, are doing great. The calf is finally growing and filling out good, she was just so scrawny when she was born. We've had 2 litters of bunnies born this week, one has 7 or 8 and the other only has 3.
Mother's Day is tomorrow-wishing everyone a happy one!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Garden Pic #6 and New Pen for the Pullets

 Garden Pic #6-It's growing great, but we do need some rain!
 Green beans-we'll be pickin' 'em by the end of the week-Yummy!
 Little tomatoes!
 Baby squash-pay no attention to the grass! :)
 One of the many little cucumbers-pickles will be here before too long!
 We brought the 12 Americauna pullets up here to Coldspring last night and Jeff got the old dog kennel fixed up for them today. They were really enjoying it-they've never been on the ground and were enjoying scratching and fluffing around in the sand.
 More beans-or is this the same pic? ;)
And last but not least, the 2 squash Jeff picked today. We have them cooking right now for supper, sure smells good-can't wait to eat!!!!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

My First Attempt at Cheesemaking!!

 I finally had time this morning to give this a try, and if I can say so myself, it's actually pretty good, despite the trouble I had. Note to self-buy new/fresh ingredients-don't use the stuff you bought years ago and never used!

 A gallon of fresh, raw milk. Not this mornings, but day before yesterdays. Look close and you can see the cream line. Lady is doing GOOD! Haven't made butter yet, but will be working on it soon-maybe sometime this week?
 Things are starting to heat up-this is most likely where my trouble began. I used old citrus acid and old rennet tablets. Thought I'd give it a try since I couldn't find either in the grocery store yesterday. I heated the milk to 88 degrees, then added the citrus acid and rennet, then let it sit for an hour. The recipe said it might take 2 hours-it did. It was supposed to get to a consistacy kinda like yogurt, where if you put your finger in it, it just kinda breaks. Well mine never did, even after the 2 hours, adding more citrus acid and rennet and letting it sit for yet another hour! So...
 I said to heck with it! I heated it up to 108 degrees now for 35 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Well I got to noticing that the curds-looked alot like cottage cheese-were sometimes resembling melted mozzarella-oh which by the way was the type of cheese I was trying for!-melting in strands. So I went ahead and drained off the whey, there was lots of it-and put it in a bowl and put it the microwave for 40 seconds. Then drained more whey off and kneaded and stretched it. It was HOT by this time-the recipe said you might need rubber gloves, but I don't have any in the camper, and the whey was still working out of it. Since my hands were a mess by this time, I didn't get any pictures. Anyway, it went back into the microwave for another 20 seconds at which time it was really hot, but I managed to get it all stretched and formed into a small ball.

Jeff had made it home by this time so he held it while I got a picture. After a little while in the frig, we went ahead and sliced it, and it's actually very good-Surprise! I took some up to Mom and Shorty and they liked it, too. Can't wait to find fresh ingredients and try again!
Jeff went with his uncle to pick up his hive of bees today in Navasota. Shorty got an email saying his aren't ready yet due to the cold and windy weather we've had this week, so that's another trip next Saturday. The wind has just been awful the last few days, beating the garden up. We've had to start watering, no rain in nearly 3 weeks. We do have little tomatoes, squash. cucumbers, potatoes and looks like we'll be picking green beans by next weekend for sure!
Gotta get out there and take some pictures-the sun is shining and it's beautiful out today!