Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Vegetable Soup

Today I made vegetable-beef soup for supper.  Nothing unusual about that, but the neat thing is that almost everything in the soup came from our garden or from Mr. M's hunt last year.

The jar of meat on the left is venison we canned last fall after hunting season.  The onion, potatoes, cabbage, carrots (frozen), and tomatoes (yellow, in jar at back) all came from our garden.  The celery was from a friend's garden.  The only things not grown by us are the spices and barley.
As so many of you know, it is such a nice feeling to sit down to eat a meal when you know that you've provided most or all of it yourselves.  And it's also wonderful knowing that no insecticides/herbicides were used to grow this food.  How exciting is that!


Monday, October 29, 2012

Kitchen Gadgets

The garden is basically finished for the year, and I've been talking a lot about the animals, so I'm moving the conversation indoors, at least for now. 

I've always liked the idea of having larger kitchen utensils hanging from a rack, but haven't found anything that would work until recently.  The cooking utensils used to be in a crock next to the stove.

Finally, this is what I came up with.  I just took a small tension rod, usually used for curtains, and put it under the wall cabinet next to the stove close against the wall.  Then I put S hooks over it and hung the utensils from them.  It works beautifully.

They've been like this for awhile and I think it's how they'll stay--at least until I get another idea or get tired of this one. 

I tend to do a lot of rearranging, streamlining, and decluttering throughout the whole house.  That includes everything from small items like these utensils to larger things like furniture.  After all these years of seeing things moved around frequently, Mr. M just shakes his head.  He doesn't understand; he's happy with putting things a certain way and leaving them like that for years.  I would never be able to do that!  It would frustrate me terribly.  So he justs laughs at me and lets me do my thing; he's definitely a keeper.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Back Home


We got home yesterday afternoon after almost a week with our friends up north.  It was a great time visiting, in addition to the scrapbooking retreat on Friday evening and all day Saturday that my friend and I attended.  We also played lots of Hand and Foot (a card game), which we do every time we get together.

When we got back, I talked to the young man who fed the chickens and pigs for us while we were gone.  His dad owns the buffalo on our land.  Sadly, one of the four calves died at the end of last week.  They don't know what happened; maybe it was not well when it was born.  At any rate, there are now only three calves.

The pigs have been doing what pigs do best; they have about 3/4 of the area they've been working on dug up.  It seems to go faster for them with the ground softer due to the rain we've had lately. 

This is about half of what they've dug so far.

The chickens are wandering further from their coop.  I fed them this morning and opened the door so they could go out.  They generally stay fairly close.  A couple of hours later, I noticed they were all missing.  We looked all over the yard, around the barn, out by the road, and so on.  So we got on the wheeler and drove through and around the woods to look for them.  We finally found them hidden behind a big round bale of hay out by the edge of the cornfield.   I'm not sure why they were out there, but I got them back to the area of the coop by making a trail of corn kernels.
Here's Mr. Rooster strutting his stuff.

We spent some time this morning spreading leaves on part of the garden.  Two of our neighbors each brought a trailer-load over while we were gone.  This is one of the trailers; I didn't get a picture of the other one.

This part of the garden is all ready for winter now.

And this is all that's left of the pumpkin patch.

It's nice to have a few warm days now to get the rest of the outdoor things taken care of.  Colder temps are moving in at the end of the week.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012


We had a visitor to our front yard yesterday.  I was in the kitchen and happened to look out the window and saw this fellow.

I guess there are some pheasants in this area, but from what I've heard, not as many as there used to be.  The speculation is that the coyotes might be getting them.  We do have lots of coyotes around here.  We often see their tracks along the edge of the cornfield and occasionally their "droppings" in the yard, not too far from the house.

Shortly after I took this picture, he disappeared into the bushes, but I was happy to have seen him.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Now that the temperatures are cooling down, it's time to get the wood stoves going.  We bought a new wood furnace last spring that is supposed to be about 95% efficient.  We have a large, old 2-story farmhouse that can be a challenge to heat during our cold winters.  Hopefully, this new furnace will be able to do the job.

A couple of days ago, we hauled in a pretty good amount of wood that should last a couple of weeks.

Below is a picture of this winter's woodpile.  At the far left in the back is the wood for our cookstove.

We bought this wood cookstove about 16 or 17 years ago.  It had been owned by a couple who bought it when they got married in the 1930's.  It was in very good condition.  I start a fire in it on cold mornings to take the chill off, and often keep it going all day if I'm making soup, chili, or something similar.  I like that it's multi-purpose, heating and cooking, and I like the nice cozy feeling it gives to our kitchen.

Below is a picture of next year's (2013-14) wood supply.  We haven't gotten around to stacking it yet.  That's a project for the spring probably.

Mr. M likes to keep a 1-2 year supply ahead, so he'll be cutting more wood in late winter or early spring for the 2014-15 year.

We have been heating our homes (we've moved a couple of times over the years) with wood for over 35 years.  In one case the house we lived in was relatively easy to heat, so we never used the backup heating source.  With our current house, we do have LP backup but are trying to use it as little as possible.  When we moved where we are now, we had a discussion about giving up wood heat due to all the work involved in cutting, splitting, stacking, hauling, etc., especially as we are getting older.  But in the end, Mr. M was not ready to give it up, and I have to admit that I really enjoy the feel of the heat that comes from a woodstove.  It's so much more comfortable than any other kind of heat.  So, as far as the near future is concerned, we'll be continuing to use wood for heat.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Chewy Coconut Squares

Today I'm posting a recipe that's been in my family since I was a kid (and that's a long time ago).  It may be older than that; I'm not sure.

These are easy to make and taste great.  Besides that, they have walnuts which are good for you.

Chewy Coconut Squares

          1/2 c. soft butter
          1 1/2 c. brown sugar
          1 1/4 c. flour
          1/4 tsp. salt
          1 tsp. vanilla
          2 eggs
          1 c. chopped walnuts
          3 1/2 oz. flaked coconut (~1 1/3 c.)

          Cream butter and 1/2 c. of the sugar until light.  Add 1 c. of the flour and mix well. 
          Pat into greased 9x13 pan.  Bake in 350 deg. oven for 10 minutes.
          Mix the other 1 c. sugar, 1/4 c. flour, and remaining ingredients. 
          Spread evenly over baked mixture.  Bake 20 minutes. 

       This is how it looks right before putting it in the oven.

       While still warm, cut into about 2 dozen squares (or more if you want the pieces smaller. 
       Cool in pan.

I hope you will try them!
Have a great Wednesday.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Better Pictures of the New Babies

When I was out feeding the pigs and chickens earlier today, I was able to get some better pictures of the new buffalo calves.

This is one of them, and below is the other one.

They are both in the picture below.  The one can't be seen really well, but is laying down right next to its mother on the left.

It's going to be fun to watch the young ones grow, and I imagine we might see them out running and playing with each other once they become a little bigger and more accustomed to their surroundings.

Running to keep up with mom.

I was lucky to be out there when one cow/calf pair came close to the fence. 

Have a happy Monday!


At around noon yesterday (Sunday), a baby buffalo was born! 

Since I had to take a picture from a distance, this is the best one I was able to get.  We didn't witness the birth, but saw him/her (not sure what sex yet) shortly afterwards.  The mother was still in the process of delivering the afterbirth when we saw them. 

Then a few hours later, another cow gave birth.  So now there are two calves.  I couldn't get a picture of the second one because they were all too far away, and it's not a good idea to get too close with the bull around.

We love living on a farm, especially one with animals!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

More on the Pigs

We had some excitement yesterday:  the neighbor brought all six pigs over to our place.  There is a small pen and then a larger area with electric fencing.  We'll have all of them for about a month.  We aren't sure yet if our two will go back with his when he comes to get them, or if we'll just keep ours here.  Since these six have been with each other now for about 2 1/2 weeks, it might be best to keep them all together.

Young pigs are so much fun to watch.  They are constantly busy.  I can see that I'm going to be spending a lot of time out there just watching them.

Standing in their water trough.  A couple of them actually get all the way in and roll around.

Having fun rolling in the dirt.

They've grown quite a bit in the past couple of weeks, but now that they're outside and are able to run around and do what pigs do, they should really grow.

It sure is nice to have pigs around again.  A farm isn't complete without animals, and although we have chickens, I feel we need more kinds of animals.  I don't know if any other animals are in our future, but a beef cow might be nice.  The problem with that is we are running out of places to put more animals, especially since the buffalo are using most of our pastures.  Who knows what will happen in the next year?  Maybe we'll get one, maybe not.

Monday, October 1, 2012

End of Summer

Wow, October already!  It seems like summer just gets started and before you know it, it's over.

I do love the colors and crisp air of fall, though. 

The colors this year don't seem to be as varied, maybe because of the dry and hot summer we had. 

There are basically just different shades of yellow--pretty, but not as nice as when oranges and reds are in the mix.

Now that the vegetable garden is finished producing for the year, we're in the process of cleaning it up so it's ready for next spring.  Canning is also about over.  I may buy some apples to can, and after hunting season there will probably be venison to can as well. 

With life slowing down a bit, I'll have more time to spend in the sewing room.  I have quite a few UFOs to finish plus a few wall hanging- and table runner-size things that I want to make. 
I've also been working on our family genealogy for a couple of years and would like to finish that up this winter.  Time will tell if it actually gets done.