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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Long Winter's Nap....NOT! Crockpot Marmalade all Made!

The year is nearly over and Christmas is approaching quickly, so I've been trying to get my list of 'must get done' things accomplished.  A Christmas stocking for my new son-in-law was a priority and I did it!

I've still got a quilt in progress and an afghan almost finished, a new, big order of primitives to work on and, of course, the usual everyday stuff so I'm kept hopping!
A little over a year ago I bought Christmas cactus starts on Ebay and they're coming along nicely and blooming so prettily now!  They're upstairs in my sewing/craft room so I'm pretty much the only one who sees them - until now and you can see this one at least!  I've got about 6 or 7 of them.

I asked my hubby for a box of oranges and a bag of lemons and he brought them home the other day.  I've got an amazingly simple method of making Orange Marmalade.  You just put 6 oranges, 4 lemons, and 2 cans of pineapple in your food processor and grind.
Then you add 12 cups of sugar and mix.  Divide between two good-sized crockpots, turn the dial to High & set your timer for 4 1/2 hours.  Slap it in jars, add lids and water-bath can them for 15 minutes.  TA DA!!!  A winter's supply of delicious marmalade!  Well done!

 Ok, so he also brought two 10# bags of organic carrots home and I already had about 10# that our good neighbor shared from her garden, so I canned the extras!  Carrots are easy - scrape, chop and throw in jars.  Add salt & hot water, pressure can for 30 minutes and you've got carrots for your cellar shelves!  I've got a fabulous recipe for Carrot Buns that takes a quart of carrots, so be sure to put some in quart jars!
Remember last time I mentioned that the chickens are laying well and I had 6 or 7 dozen eggs in the fridge?  Well, they're still laying well and today I've got about 10 dozen!  My daughter is coming this weekend and will take them all home for the extended family to enjoy!
These three guys (hard bald eggs, of course) are in my fridge....
 I realized this morning, as hubby and I went about our usual morning routines, that I've been packing him a lunch for over 38 years!  I try to make them tasty and interesting...usually.  Today's menu:  leftover chicken pot pie, tortilla chips, orange slices and 4 homemade chocolate chip cookies....and of course, a love note (very important!).  I have, over the years, sometimes forgotten to put a
fork or spoon in....and (construction work) he has been forced to drink his applesauce or eat his lunch with a carpenter's pencil, lol!  Today I generously included a fork.
 Neighbor Jean and I decided that the two turkeys were both pink ones, so she generously donated the left bird - our new tom!  Hopefully this Spring the girls will start laying and we can hatch turkey chicks!

Zephyr and Zelda are standing in the pile of carrot scrapings they disdained when I generously offered them.  No accounting for taste.  None of the animals wanted them!
 Yes, MaryAnne's eyes are closed in total enjoyment of a rare sunny day here in Western Washington!  I cleaned and filled their water bucket this morning and they gathered around to visit with me.  If you look at the littlest goat in the picture below, you will see that she is smiling happily.
 My older daughter is now 21 weeks along with my new baby GRANDSON!!!!  She had an ultrasound this week and sent me Joshua Lee's first baby picture!

Imagine what our forebears would think if we tried to convince them that we could 'see' the baby and know if it's a boy or girl when the mother was only half-way along!
The sun is streaming into my house today - a rare stretch of cold sunny weather again for us. Our Christmas tree is decorated and at-home daughter is candying orange and lemon peel in preparation for making our annual holiday fruitcake.  The house smells fabulous.  Daughter and Son-in-Law are coming for the weekend and we are truly enjoying God's blessings each day!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Applesauce is in the Cellar and we might have Kids by Christmas!

The weather is finally changing from Indian Summer to Fall here on the hilltop.  We had a long, lovely hot Summer...a big rain storm and major weather change...and then a week of warm, sunny days and chilly nights.  Now, the rains have returned, temperatures have dropped,  and the outside chores are dwindling as we've mostly tucked everything away until Spring.

Tiptoe down to the red cellar door and see how much we've accomplished this canning season!
 Neighbor Jean and I traded veggies, milk....and turkeys!  This is a pair of Midget Whites.  First we thought it was a pink one and a blue one.  Now we're not so sure WHAT they are, lol.
Any guesses?
 The Speckled Sussex hens started laying and they have taken off like rockets!  Well, except for that one teensy weensy egg there....somebody was slacking!

Our birds free range through our orchard, but one of them is a LONE FREE RANGER, lol, as I often see her strolling through the yard or chasing grasshoppers out in the pasture.  It is a time of plenty and I have at least 6 or 8 dozen eggs in my fridge.  I send them home with anyone who stops by, so if you need eggs, you know where to come, lol!
 This is my good and diligent husband of nearly 38 years (yes, we got married at birth...) cleaning our cookstove chimney.  We have a two story house with a very steep roof, but he gets right up there and cleans it out every Fall.  We work together on the inside chimney and inner stove parts and now it's good to go for all those cozy Winter fires.  Everything tastes better cooked on a wood cook stove, by the way.  Just ask your Grandma!
Sometimes Fall here in Western Washington is boring.  It rains, leaves turn brown and fall off.  This year, the colors have been stunning and I have exclaimed many times over all the colorful gifts to view....on trees, in mud puddles, stuck to my shoes....

Seems like there have been a million things to do.  We had a cider-pressing party and after everyone took cider home, we still had 14 gallons to can.  We've been canning apple butter & apple sauce, harvested onions, garlic, squash, tomatoes, raspberries, blackberries....and I'm sure more stuff I've already forgotten!
 This ole King apple is aptly named as it came in at over a pound!  We planted our semi-dwarf trees twenty years ago when we bought this land and are reaping a bounty! 

Today I canned applesauce for my married daughter and her hubby as she is expecting my first grandbaby and lives in a house too tiny to think about canning at the moment.  Did you hear that???  My FIRST GRANDBABY!  Can you say...GrammyPammy?  I'm already starting a collection of toys.  Of course, I've always loved toys and still have quite a few from my own childhood!
Mr. Ripley likes to stare at me while I sit in my chair with my laptop.  After this picture, he proceeded to walk calmly across my keyboard and my screen turned sideways!  I didn't even know it could do that, so of course had to enlist help in getting it back to normal!  No, no...BAD CAT!
 My husband calls my activities at this time of the year "Squirrel Sickness" as I madly harvest, store, dry, can and freeze EVERYTHING in sight so that our nest will be well stocked until the growing season comes 'round again.

In between all the canning, I'm working on a quilt, an afghan and primitives as someone purchases some.
 This is all the apple butter....about 60 pints.  Pancakes are yummy with apple butter!

People usually comment on how busy I am.  It's true, I do a lot of things, but I don't work outside of home, so I have more time to do it all than some.  I'm also a type A, like my mother before me, so I hit the ground running around 5:30 or 6 each morning and don't usually slow down until after dinner.  I LIKE to work.  I LOVE my farm and all the chores.  Sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed and wish I had a few extra hands to help with it all, but still, I'm never bored!

 These are the apples that we turned in the 60 pints of apple butter - three boxes of Liberty apples and two boxes of mixed Kings and Jonagolds.

The gourds and Jack-be-Littles were a gift from my neighbor!

This bread is about 2/3 whole wheat
and 1/3 unbleached flour.  I usually make 5 loaves at a time, but this time I made 3 loaves and 8 big sandwich or hamburger buns.

We joke that even after a trip to the grocery store or Costco, there's nothing to eat around here except ingredients.   That's the only disadvantage to cooking everything from scratch....if you don't cook, you don't eat!

 Life on this farm repeats itself season after season and year after year.  Not everything stays the same, but a lot of it does, and that's a comfort.  Daughter married & moved, but my son & younger daughter pick up where she left off, helping with everyday life and increasing our joy.
My son is a wonderful, Godly young man and he and I enjoy working on a lot of the outdoor projects together.  Yesterday we repaired this fence and moved animals around to their winter pens.  His sheep are now in their winter pen and all the goats are in theirs and waiting for the kidding season....hopefully by Christmas we'll be milking again!  I cleaned the milk room down at the barn and all the milking equipment - probably the first time ever that I'm ready in advance! 

Well, 'nuf of this sitting around with a computer on my lap.  Those ingredients will not be supper-time's meal if I don't get a move on!  I'll leave you with a song that's been blessing me all week...

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Gluten Free is New to Me and We are Caramelizing Onions!

This is Byron.  (I'm starting slow since I've been absent from my post so long, lol.)  Byron is a young English Lop buck and he is waiting for you to pet him.  When you try to close the cage door, he will not move out of the way and will be offended that you had the audacity to shut it in his face.

I believe my last post was back in June when we were getting ready for my oldest daughter's wedding.  Is that enough excuse to be gone so long?  It did take a lot out of us and we were tired for weeks after...But I think we're over it now!

Summer is always a busy time on the farm and this one is no exception.  Western Washington is known for its massive rainfall, but we do have very dry summers and things are definitely suffering the lack thereof around here. Our low flow well is struggling and we've put ourselves on water-watch!
This is Korb Yellow Highlight, the Dahlia.  He is very handsome and I've been sneaking water to him when no one is looking.  (Shhhh...)

A close friend of his (pic below) is Pam (no, not me, it really is called Pam).  I picked this one out especially, not just because we share a name, but it is my favorite hue in flowers - shades of yellow, orange & red!  Sunset colors!
My younger daughter and I worked at the local county Fair again this year.  I've had some health issues and am also eating a limited diet, so we packed weird salads to take along most days.  The two weeks sped by and we're back here on the farm most days.

Canning season is upon us and we're working hard, even though our own garden is kind of puny.  A friend 'down the valley' let us pick their green beans and we put them up.

 You can see some waffles on the stove next to the canner and in a plastic container on the green beans.  I've been making gluten-free waffles and freezing them so my 'special' breakfast is fast and easy.  These are made with Almond Flour and turn out fabulous!  The nice thing is they are heartier than regular waffles because of the protein content of the almonds.  I got the recipe online, tweaked it a bunch to make it egg, dairy and sugar-free as well, and now I get bona-fide delicious waffles that even my gluten-eating people like better than the regular ones!  (If you want the recipe, leave a comment with email addy and I'll get it to you!).
Foolish people that we are, we suddenly decided the cellar needed cleaning & organizing.  YIKES.  It's been roughly twenty years accumulating and was a BIG JOB.  We disposed of canning from 2012 and even found a couple jars from 2008...blech.  It's all in order and now the current accomplishments can go right down there and onto the correct shelves!
 We have taken time out to haunt our favorite beaches, namely Westport WA, home of Bennett's Fish Shack (yes, I know I've mentioned them often...) and Wash-Away Beach in Grayland.

This time as we drove & walked around, we discovered something new to us....Cat Feeding Stations!  I saw this little birdhouse-like structure (and a shiny black crow exiting....) and wondered what it was.  There are actually about 3 or 4 of them along the big rock jetty in Westport and they are cat feeding stations for abandoned cats!

Sounds like a great start to a poem...The sleek & stealthy feral cats, dining upon the many wharf rats, stopped to feed at little cat houses and soon gave up the eating of mouses!!

Hmm.  Maybe I should stick to my day wife!!
Raspberries, strawberries and luscious blackberries!  The raspberries and strawberries are cultivated, of course.  The blackberries grow here with wild abandon.  We have three varieties; the highly sought after wild trailing blackberries, Evergreen Blackberry and Himalayan Blackberry.

The Himalayan is a big, succulent soft berry (my favorite) and grow all along the back of our orchard fence.  We have some of the Evergreen around here, too.  They are a firm berry with a completely different flavor and hold their shape well for canning.
 This summer I've gotten to know another neighbor.  We've only got three neighbors withing a mile or two and I know the others!  Jean and I are becoming good friends and we're having a grand time trading farm produce!

Today my daughter and I are canning tomatoes from Jean's AMAZING garden!
Last weekend, on our drive out to the coast for lunch, I took this picture of the lighthouse museum in Westport.  I love the HUGE flag - almost looks photo-shopped in, doesn't it?!

There is a long dock along the seawall protecting the marina from the ocean and we had walked out there and I snapped this with my new....SMART PHONE!!!  Yes, I have finally joined the ranks of, well, everyone else on the planet and now have a smart phone.  So far, it holds true and it is actually smarter than I am, so I try to leave it alone....
My son wanted to can caramelized onions, so early this morning we began sniffing and crying over a big pile of onions from the garden and they are all in a big turkey roaster.....out on the porch!  The entire farm smells like onions, seriously!  I guess we have to cook them forever and then we can them.  After all these years, we're still finding new canning adventures!

I've a bunch of other things going now, but shall save them for another post!  I'll just leave you with this....

I was standing at the sink, doing a few dishes (ok, a lot of dishes), and feeling just a bit sorry for myself (health issues I mentioned earlier) and doing a bit of praying.  "Lord, I just want to be able to do my work...serve my family....take care of stuff on our farm...."  And I realized that, standing there at the sink doing dishes, I was doing just that.  Sometimes I don't see all the good things the Lord has done for me when I'm busy concentrating on the not-so-good.  It brought to mind

Philippians 4:8King James Version (KJV)

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Until next time, let's think on all those good things!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 just keeps Happening!

Peace.  Quiet.  Calm.  Nope, that's not what's happening around here!  We're just 3 days from 'the wedding' and things continue to fall apart!  Day before yesterday I started feeling twinges in my stressed gut...and sure enough I'm in the middle of a recurrence of the dreaded diverticulitis.  So, while I should be hemming the hubby's new dress slacks, ironing all the wedding finery and preparing for the weekend's festivites....I am sitting in my recliner with a heating pad and sipping chicken broth!  AND I burned my tongue and the roof of my mouth badly because I AM OBVIOUSLY NEW AT DRINKING FROM A CUP???

In the last couple of weeks my toaster, Kitchen-Aid stand mixer and the daughter's laptop all bit the dust.  Last night the septic system decided it's ready to be pumped.
 AND, if  ONE MORE PERSON suggests that we must be thrilled that our daughter, (after we've gotten so used to her) is getting married and moving 2 1/2 hours away....I shall scream!

Okay, okay.  Of course, we are thrilled for her and even for ourselves as her intended is a fabulous young man.....but emotions are running high and did I mention we are...well....stressed?

Deep breath.  Sigh.  In a house full of chronically ill people, a big event seems even bigger.
We took a day and went to......the beach of course.  It's our favorite.  The face above is on a jetty at Westport.   The left picture is to put it in better perspective.  (remember to click on a picture to make it bigger).

I just realized that the viewing tower is shaped like a lighthouse when I took this picture.  I have been there many times and never realized it before.  Duh!
 Then, hubby and I took a one-night camping trip to Ft Stevens State Park again.  This is the mouth of the mighty Columbia River, with typical Washington/Oregon June weather, of course.

 The Army Corps of Engineers built this viewing platform.    There is a sign nearby warning that it is to be used At Your Own Risk.  It sways in the breeze or if too many people walk on it.....
 My favorite part of the Fort....the military ruins.  These stairs lead uphill to Battery David Russell.

It was a nice day, though the mosquitoes were fierce in the shadows.  One fun moment....We were basically the only people around but then a young couple with two little girls came up the steps and in view of the battery.  With a sudden intake of breath and a quick rush forward, one little girl's a CASTLE!!!!!!!

Pretty close, I'd say.
Wandering the ruins was enjoyable as always.  We also fished that evening in Coffenbury Lake.  I, of course, caught the biggest fish, no lie!

We had a close encounter with a bald eagle who swooped out of the sky to snatch up a caught-and-released trout from about 15 feet in front of us!  Beautiful, but definitely startling!  
 Battery Russell is just one small portion of the fort.  There are acres of ruins to discover and explore and also a museum where you can watch a video and see information on the history of this coastal defense dating from 1863 and the Civil War.
Well, times, they are a changing and we must change as well.  The farm won't be the same without our girl, but we trust that God has great things ahead for not just our girl and the Godly young man she waited all these years for, but for those of us still here on the farm, as well.  Now, if I can just survive the wedding!

On that note I shall sign off and

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Scared of the Dentist but Lemon Cake and Coffee to the Rescue!

 Meanwhile, back at the farm, life was continuing on at its usual pace.  Daughter has been packing, de-junking, sorting, and moving many of her belongings to the apartment they will live in after the wedding, a 2 plus hour trip away.  I am trying very hard not to accept any more junk er, valuable stuff to add to my own confusion.  Most of the wedding details are coming together now, enabling us to at least stop for a deep breath occasionally.  And even try to get the dishes done....or not.

 Wonder of wonders, Spring appears to be at least considering starting up here in SW Washington!  The skies refuse to clear completely, but we have had a few glimpses it called sunshine?...and the rains have lessened up enough that we probably won't kill each other after all!  I mow the garden when I mow the yard, just to keep the jungle under control, but the bulk of this year's produce may be produced somewhere else.

We celebrated a subdued Mother's Day.  My kids were awesome, of course, but I started the day out missing my Mom and couldn't quite put it out of my thoughts for the day.

We also celebrated my son's birthday...complete with balloons, confetti, noisemakers and hats.  He's 31, by the way.  His request was Esther's Orange Marmalade Cake from the Mitford Series of books by Jan Karon!  If you make one, you'll keep making them, I warn you!

 I am a complete dental coward.  I wake up in a panic all the preceding days of a looming appointment.  In need of a tooth extraction, I bravely made an appointment and drove in to the office (45 minutes of anticipatory anxiety), fidgeted in the waiting room and finally got in to my...consultation.  My blood pressure was up and I was a nervous wreck and THAT was just the consultation!  I have now had the procedure done and am home recuperating, albeit I make a poor patient as I am in no wise 'patient' as I wait to get back to normal.

 The last time I had a general anasthetic I was 21 years old.  Decades have passed since that time and I'm pretty sure I got over it quicker back then.  Wednesday was my tooth-pulling and as of today (Saturday), my limbs still feel like lead and I'm decidedly cranky.  I'm pretty sure it's mostly due to the fact that I really figured mowing the lawn on my riding mower would make me better faster and when I got out there, it had a flat tire.  Normally I am a very sweet and pleasant gal, but I confess to having a small fit, stomping into the house and slamming the door.  I tiptoed out later to see that my dear husband has removed the offending tire and taken it into town with him.  Hopefully he won't be afraid to come back.

Mushy food is the theme this week and today's
special is Chicken Pot Pie!  Yes, even if I have to be propped up in the kitchen, we still eat
homemade food.  If I were totally honest,
I would have to say that today I probably would
have eaten store-bought, if the darn store
weren't so far away.  A 40 minute trip in,
major hike through Walmart and a 40 minute
trip back sounds as difficult to me today as
contemplating the Boston Marathon!

On the bright side....hmmm.  Just a minute.  No, just kidding!  There is always a bright side and I'm thrilled that dental technology is what it is.  Nothing like when I was a kid.

My computer has been my companion whilst recuperating, so I have new recipes to try.  This Lemon Cake was divine (and soft!).  We put Lemon Curd in between layers and a light glaze on top.

Recipe found here:
 I did wander around and take some pictures of the mess place and there is much to do.  Warmer temperatures and plenty of rain have made everything grow like the rain forest, so no danger of boredom!  We're still milking three goats and raising a bottle calf, so I made the trek to the barn this morning.  I felt pretty good until I was washing up the milking machine and it seemed heavier than usual.  Actually, the house was farther from the barn than it was last week, too.
A few of the rabbits are having litters and the chickies are totally feathered out so I'll take pictures of animals next time.

Well, Chicken Pot Pie is almost ready so I'm off to gum it down, lol, and then sit on the porch swing and watch the grass grow for a bit!  WAIT!  I need COFFEE! That's the problem!  I missed a whole day of coffee back on Wednesday and you just don't get over these things that fast.  Huh.  Well, glad I've got it now, so I'm off (so to speak...)!