Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Autumn Blessings

Just wanted to share my pretty Autumn bouquet with you all.  Aren't these such pretty colors?  The yellow flowers are from my Jerusalem artichoke plants also known as sunchokes.  The red flowers are from my pineapple sage plants.  And the light lavender colored flowers are my comfrey plant.

The sun was actually shining for a few minutes this morning when I took this photo.  This is a close up of the flowers.  I am so happy God created such beauty for us to enjoy. 

The header flowers are some Jerusalem artichokes.  They grow like sunflowers and are just so pretty and bright!  Guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.  : )

Monday, September 28, 2009

I pruned my big rosemary bush today

The plant is just getting bigger and bigger.  I had to prune it back like I always do.  So I ended up with a big amount of lovely rosemary.  I am going to freeze some of it and dry some too.  But I have had this idea of making something from it for a room decoration.  So here is what I did.

I took a wire coat hanger, some side cutters, a pair of pliers and some florist wire and my big bunch of rosemary and a few lavender flowers.

Then I cut the hook part of the hanger off and formed a circle.

Next I sorted my rosemary into long, medium and short lengths.  An this is where I got to playing and forgot to take photos of the process.  I arranged the branches of rosemary on the circle and used the small florist wire to attach them to the hanger.  I just kept adding some and wiring it down.  Then I bunched the lavender flowers and some foliage and put it on the bottom and up the sides a bit.   And then I took some wire edged ribbon and made a bow and put it at the bottom of the wreath.  I also made a tab at the top to hang it with.  And this is what my creation turned out like.
You can't see the lavender very well as I am not the best photographer in the world.  (Hmmm, maybe I should buy that book I saw called Digital photography for dummies, or some such title like it.)
 This is a close up of the bow and the lavender.  It should dry nicely and make a dried wreath.  If it doesn't dry nicely and all the leaves fall off the twigs, it will look like a Christmas tree that was kept too long and all the needles fell off it.  It sure smells pretty right now!

So there was my crafty fun thing I did today.  Yeah, I know I should have been pickling peppers today instead.  But sometimes you have to do something creative and just for fun right?  : )

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wheel barrow loads of peppers and tomatoes!

I just finished putting the jars of plums away and thought I had better pick the peppers.  Oh my!  What a bountiful harvest!  This is the second picking of peppers I have picked.  (Say that 3 times real fast.  lol!)  While I was out in the garden I thought since it is supposed to rain tomorrow afternoon, I should pick the few ripe tomatoes so they don't split.  Few????  As  you can see by the photo there were more than a few.  I will not have a shortage of things to do while it rains for a couple of days now will I?  I am so thankful for the ripe tomatoes.  I really need to add them to my pantry shelves this year.

Plum season is over for the year.  I am so happy to be finished with them.  We ended up with 72 quarts canned, two dehydrators full, and one gallon sized ziplock baggie full in the freezer!  Not to mention the many many many we all ate fresh!

The peppers and tomatoes will be canned next.  I have been pickling the peppers, and oh boy are they good!

The big dark green peppers you see are pablano peppers.  They are put into the freezer.

I am seeing the end of the harvest season at last.  The beets and some dried beans are still out in the garden to be pulled and picked.  The cabbage is wanting to be made into kraut and there are a few ears of corn out there to be eaten.  I will let the tomatoes go as long as the weather permits and get as many sun ripened as I can.

Remember my citrus orchard?  Here is a photo of my lime tree.  Aren't those the cutest limes you ever saw??

Here is a picture of one of my grapefruits.  Now wouldn't you believe it?  As soon as I clicked the button a fly landed on my grapefruit and ruined the shot!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Correction that is 8 new baby chicks!

We have 8 black colored baby chicks.  That is what hatched.  I can't tell which are the Rhode Island cross and which are the Blue Andalusians.  Oh well we don't care really.  : )

On another note, my crock pickles failed.  I think it was too hot in my pantry and they went really bad-----stinky!!!!!!  So I will stick to making sauerkraut instead.  I know I can do that right.

I am still canning plums as I type.  Dad, with a little help from my girls has been picking plums and bringing them into Mom, who has been washing and pitting them.  Dad has been wielding a paring knife also.  Then Dad has been carrying the plums over to my kitchen where they are put into jars, with honey syrup on them and water bath canned.  We are plugging away all day and so far have 38 qts. canned.  There are about that many more to go.  But hallelujah, we will be all finished with plums today!!!!!!!!  For the season! 

Friday, September 25, 2009

More baby chicks hatched today!

Yes, we have at this point 8 more baby chicks at Bountiful Acres!  Our second Buff Orpington hen has hatched out chicks from eggs I got from Bonnie.  We weren't sure how good the hatch rate would be as she had held these eggs for me for over a month!  There are only two left unhatched.  If they haven't hatched by tomorrow evening we know they aren't going to.  I was just hoping for one and we have been blessed with 8 so far!  All the Rhode Island/Blue Andalusian cross eggs have hatched and 4 of the straight Blue Andalusians have hatched.  They are so cute and so tiny!  I had to take mama hen out of her box and get the empty eggshells out of the nest.  So I took a couple of pictures to show everyone while I had the chance.

I think we are going to have to make the chicken house bigger with all these laying chickens we are getting!

There was an Aracauna egg under her too.  One of those hens must have gotten in her nestbox and layed it when mama Buff was off the nest getting a drink.   Since I don't know how long she has been sitting on that egg, I put it under a Black Australorp hen that is broody right now.  We will let her sit on that one and see if it hatches. 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'll take an order of beets please, and supersize them!

We pulled two beets today.  We had to see how big they really were and if they would be any good.  The biggest beet weighed in at 11 pounds and the smaller one weighed 5 pounds! This is a photo of our girls holding the huge beets.  I cooked them and peeled them and then we had a taste.  Yep!  They taste like beets.  The funny thing about them is what they looked like inside.  Kind of strange looking.  Of course then I cooked up the beet greens too.  Lots of good vitamins in there.  I think the reason my beets got so big was the soil.  When Ed pruned the orchard last winter he put the branches on the garden and then we burned them.  That is where I planted my beets.  My Grandmother used to put wood ashes in the row that she planted her beets in and said it was really good for them.  Well I guess so!  We will be doing that again this year.  Plus with putting in a wood stove we will have plenty of wood ashes for the garden.  I will probably pickle these beets.  That is our favorite way to eat them.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Turkey Photos

I took some good pictures of the  tom turkey strutting his stuff yesterday morning, so I thought I would share the photos with you.  They have really grown this summer.  The dark turkey down the page is not a Narragansett.  I think it is a bronze turkey.  We only ordered the Narragansett, but I think somehow we got an oddball in our order.  It adds a bit of variety to the flock anyway.  I plan on using one the of photos of the turkeys to make Thanksgiving  cards.  : ) 

Monday, September 14, 2009

A bit more for the pantry shelves

Today was a productive day. I had some great help with my canning efforts. My parents helped out with the plums this morning bright and early. They got the plums pitted and ready for the jars for me. I added 21 qts. of plums to my pantry inventory. Then Ed and I did some apples and pears. We put up 6 qts. of apples and one of pears. Then I canned 15 pints of pepper rings, and I have the pictures to prove it! So today was a very good day. Dad also got the last two rows of potatoes dug up. We are slowly but surely getting the garden ready for winter.

I have a lady who wants to come and pick some cucumbers this next week. That makes me happy someone else will be able to make pickles from our garden.

We will be putting a wood stove in soon. We are going with wood heat. I have always enjoyed wood heat. I will be able to keep my teapot warm all day now and can make a cup of tea when ever the mood strikes. Hot tea is one of my favorite things to enjoy in the winter. The girls and I love taking time in the afternoons to take "tea" and relax for a bit.

Here are the pepper rings. I can't wait to make nachos!

Luscious looking plums waiting to be eaten this winter.

The jar to the left is pears, the others are apples.
And now that I have taken so long to put pictures of the new ducklings on here, they have grown bigger since this photo. We had three hatchings the second time around. These are the three sizes. There was a total of 13. We have had two casualties and now have 11.

Have a wonderful week!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor day means you "labor" all day right?

Isn't the Labor Day holiday for putting aside a weekend to work? Why is it I hear about everyone having picnics and BBQ's and going camping on Labor Day weekend? Gee, I must have been misinformed about this as I thought it meant you had to "labor" all weekend! : ) Just kidding! It is true that is what we have been doing for our Labor Day weekend. Let's see, first we made relish, juiced pears and put up pears in the freezer, then we peeled and sliced apples for drying, juiced some apples, made some applesauce. After Ed finished doing the apples for drying today he went out to the barnyard to do some more chores. He fixed an inner door that was dragging on the floor when you open it, lowered the roost for the turkeys, and put up some chicken wire to keep the baby chicks in their own area with their mama.

Have I mentioned we have had an abundance of cucumbers this year? Some of them got too big before I realized it. What to do with over ripe big pickling cucumbers? Feed them to the chickens, ducks and turkeys, well yeah some of them we did. But then I thought I should make relish from them. You may know they are full of seeds in the middle when they get that big. So you have to cut that out before using them as the seeds are quite developed and tough.

I have a neat thing to share with you, and I have to give credit where credit is due................. this idea was Ed's. Do you know what the little tool is that is called an apple wedger? Looks kind of like a wagon wheel? Well never mind, I will show you in a picture what I am talking about. You know, a picture is worth a thousand words and all that.......

After they are washed, slice the ends off.

Now this is where the handy apple wedger comes in. Set the cuke up on end and position the wedger in the center of it.Now push down on the wedger, and Ta Dah!!!!!! The cuke is wedged with the majority of the seedy center cut out in one piece.

I set the seed part aside and line up the wedges of cukes. The seed core goes into the chicken bucket. (A bucket that I collect scraps in that we feed to the poultry.)

Next I run my knife through them to make smaller chunks. These go into the food processor. Just pulse them and don't put too many in at a time. If you do, what happens is the cukes on the bottom get pureed to mush and you still have big chunks on top that never get chopped. How do I know this you ask????? LOL! Yep, experience is the best teacher.

Here they are in the food processor.

This is what mine looked like after a bit of pulsing.

And this is the finished product. From that dish drainer full of big cucumbers I made 16 pints of relish. There are some of my sweet banana peppers and some onions in their besides the cucumbers.

Here is the dehydrator full of apple slices. This will make a nice little snack item for our girls this winter.

Here is a close up of the apple slices. (Don't pay any attention to the laundry supplies on the shelf beneath the dehydrator.) : )

Here is a picture of the two bags of pears that I put up today. To the right are bags of cranberries we bought last season.

This is the drawer in my freezer where I put up the 26 quarts of green beans from the garden this year.

And last but not least is our two quarts of applesauce and two quarts of apple juice. Not a bad couple of days work. Whew! Am I glad "Labor Day" is over! Now tomorrow I can just pick more peppers and freeze them and pick some plums to can, then there are more apples to do, the cucumbers I am going to try and sell some. I have made enough pickles to last us well over a year!

Oh speaking of pickles, here is my crock full of pickles being made the old fashioned way. I am using a jar of water on top of a plate to weigh the cucumbers down and keep them in the brine. Looks kind of goofy, but hey, it works! Over top of that is plastic wrap to keep out the dust and what have you, and to keep little girls who might live here from poking their fingers or other objects into the brine. ; )

Tomorrow I will get the updated photos of the ducklings posted. I hope!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Poultry photo update

Here is a shot of the garden. The bald spot is where we pulled up the green bean plants. The peppers are the first two rows in this picture. You can see the yellow banana peppers on the plants if you look close. Then there are cabbages and my over productive cucumber patch. Speaking of I will be putting up some photos of my relish making tomorrow. I am calling this the year of the pickle. lol! We have more pickles this year than we have ever put up.
A close up shot of the little chicks and mama's tail end. : )

Here is Vanilla and her brood. She successfully hatched out 12 eggs. Her babies are Blue Andalusian. She is a Buff Orpington.

The turkeys are eating an over sized cucumber from Ed.
I guess I forgot to take pictures of the new ducklings! I will have to do that tomorrow and put them up. We now have 7 for breeding stock. Our original 3 hens and two new hens we kept from this years hatching and two new drakes. One is Chocolate colored and the other black and white to keep that color in the flock. Stay tuned for a neat trick for overgrown cucumbers.