Thursday, December 31, 2009

Recipe for Mincemeat

I began this as a response for Flower Lady, but it got too long so just decided to do a second post for the day.

I actually wrote down what I did....a miracle for me.

Glenda's Mincemeat (meatless)

2 lbs apples peeled, cored (8-10 apples)
1 lbs dark raisins
1/2 lb golden raisins
3/4-1 cup candied cherries
1 cup candied orange peel grated(I made this)
2 cups frozen peaches (I think fresh would work and and I wouldn't even peel them)
2 oranges chopped (from making the candied peel)
1 cup raw sugar (I just had it on hand)(brown sugar would work)
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup boiled down apple cider (can purchase)
1 cup apple cider , almost to the brandy point
(can use brandy)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

I ran all the fruit including the orange peel through the KA grinder, then added sugars, ciders and spices, mixed and cooked for about 20 to 30 minutes. I let it 'ripen' at room temperature for a few days and then decided to cook it down and store in the fridge in a 1/2 gallon jar. I think it needs to age several weeks before using. If you use liquor, you wouldn't even need to put it in the fridge.

I tasted along to get it to my taste for sweetness, spice and tanginess (hardened cider). I was looking for a remembered taste. It was lots of fun. Now I am sending my sis two cups to see what she thinks. She is the real talented cook in the family.

The Mincemeat

For some reason about Thanksgiving I began thinking about Grandma and Mom's mincemeat. I could just taste it. I don't have their recipe, my Aunt didn't have it, but she could remember some things Grandma put in it. The funny thing is, I never really liked it back then. I just couldn't get it out of my mind.

The blessing of the computer age came to the rescue. I posted on a few forums I visit and several were kind enough to share their favorites with me. Most had suet and meat....I decided I didn't want meat...that stringy texture is what put me off before. Of course, that was after I bought a pork roast for it. We were forced to eat it for dinner and barbecue sandwiches. (not complaining at all).
I read all the recipes and used bits of several to come up with what tastes to me like I remember it. I made some tarts, ate those, but not really enough filling, make cookies (we weren't impressed with them at all) so yesterday I decided to use up the last quart and make a pie.

I was thrilled with it. It does taste like I thought it should. DH ate a piece but said that was enough....he doesn't even like raisin pie which I love.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I made myself do something I have been dreading for a year..........created a new spread sheet for the beef cattle, with columns for calving dates. You would think this should just be a simple thing but it took me almost two hours, with reading, comparing handwritten pages (by my husband....not always easy to decode), making corrections and finally getting the number correct. I think I finally have it.
Not fun, but it has been driving me crazy having two or three sheets that were not correct.

This morning I decided to milk again so I wouldn't have to in the 8° temps they are predicting for us over the next couple of days. That went well; at least she didn't put her foot in the bucket.

We wrapped some water lines that were right on the concrete block wall of the milk parlor that are prone to freezing and blowing the cap off the end of the pvc pipeline. I pulled them loose from the wall and put fiberglass batting between them and the wall. We also put plastic over the inside of the window with the exhaust fan because a lot of air comes in around it.

I moved the squash away from the wall and closer to the gas stove where we leave a burner on very low to keep everything from freezing out there. So far, they are keeping much better than the pie pumpkins. They are Butternut and Long Island Cheese, both moschata varieties that are supposed to keep well.

I put fresh straw in the hen's nests and scattered some on the floor of their coop for insulation for them. We are letting them outside today but won't when the temps drop. There were three hens on the nest and we scared one off.
They have been laying better if we keep them confined in cold weather.

I have DH in taking all the decorations off the tree (bless him!) I hate doing it.
He has quite a collection of Hallmark cars and trucks and tractor ornaments and likes to look at them up close and personal. Our daughter has been at Hallmark since college and gets us both an ornament each year, 17 years now I think.

I also got the seeds ready to mail tomorrow for a couple of Oklahoma gardening friends. I will send them in with my husband tomorrow. I hope they are germinate well for them.

Here is my bird picture of the day:
From Birds

Monday, December 28, 2009

The house is back to just DH and me and seems very quiet.....not a bad thing!

The sun is shining very brightly for a change and I do love that. I have decided to start walking again....just a 15-20 minute walk but I think it will be good for me. This makes day 2...maybe if I put it in writing I will feel guilty if I don't do it.

We got some birding gifts for Christmas which we love, a squirrel proof tube feeder, a little bell shaped shelter for small birds, and a hanging seed/nut bell in a sock. I don't know about the shelter, but the feeders are very popular.

I love southern authors and our son gave me two of Rick Bragg's books, 'The Prince of Frog Town' and his latest, 'the most they ever had'. I already have Ava's Man and have read his other 'All Over but the Shouting'. He writes about "our people", who originally came from the hills of Tennessee and North Carolina and were farmers, coon hunters, white lightnin, hard working, hard drinking, hard fighting men. When I read Ava's Man, I told our son he had to read it and he would know from whence he came!

We still have some leftover turkey dinner so lunch today will be easy. I froze the leftover sweets so we wouldn't be tempted.

This was milking morning....cow stepped into bucket and wasted about a quart. I was not pleased!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Unplannned extra work

This is what happens when you forget what you are doing.

A couple of days ago, DH and I were in the garage getting something out of the freezer. He suggested I take some frozen fruit down to the house. This is what usually is dessert for us (not during the holidays!). I selected a package of peaches and what I thought was crushed strawberries, thinking I would make a small batch of jam for our granddaughter who loves it.

Then I went to the milk parlor where I process the milk, I dropped the fruits into the deep (I stress deep so I can't see them) stainless steel sink and proceeded to do two or three other things, thinking do not forget to take these to the house when you are finished. Two days was time to milk again. There still laying in the sink was the very thawed fruit, peaches have turned a darker color, and the strawberries (which turned out to be cherries) getting pale.
Frugal (tightwad) that I am, I took them to the house and made a batch of peach preserves and cherry jam. Granddaughter probably won't eat the cherry jam, but we will!

Waste not; want not..........that's my motto.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The predicted winter weather arrived! The temperature was 50° yesterday and this morning at 3AM was 17° with strong winds and a windchill of around zero. We didn't get the heavy snow that Oklahoma got or that those further north got.

I love this time of day. The house is clean (relatively), warm, no noise except for the wind outside, I have my coffee and time alone with the computer.....its a great life. There is just something about being snug inside with bad weather blowing out that makes you feel fortunate.

Oh, I do hear the cat zipping through the house like something possessed. I guess this is her play time. I need to get her a toy.

Our Christmas plans may get changed due to the weather. Our daughter was driving in this afternoon from the Kansas City area and that may not happen because the snow and ice.

Yes, plans changed; coming in tomorrow......we hope.

So, today I baked bread and made a cheesecake.....when I have time on my hands.......I tend to cook.

We didn't get nearly as much snow as others. This is the Cellar Bed across the drive from the house in the east yard.

From Winter Snow Storm 2009

and a Red Bellied Woodpecker hanging on for dear life in the wind!
From Winter Snow Storm 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Family Milk Cow

I thought I would share a few thoughts for those interested in taking the plunge. I will probably have to share some pictures too.

The first thing to know is that it is a daily chore and all year round, except the two months she is dry and then you have to be sure she has good pasture and water.

You should have approximately a 305-day lactation with a 60-day dry period. Speaking of dry period, you will have to get her bred, your bull, a friend's bull, or A-I. A-I is getting harder and harder to find a technician. Be sure to have this problem worked out before getting your girl.

Some don't feed grain.....I think that is a serious mistake unless you have some rare breed that can maintain body weight and milk production on grass or hay alone. I feed a limited amount to my cow twice daily.

If you are a complete novice, please consider getting a cow that has already been hand-milked or machine milked if you are doing it that way. So she will have already had a calve or two or more. Mine was 6 years old so she had already had probably 4 calves but her udder was perfect and she was very sound.
Breaking them to milk is not always an easy job and especially if you have never done it before.

Enough for now, will add some more rambling thoughts on breeds and etc. in later posts.

Now here is our Willow. This is her fist calf born on our farm. She is a heifer out of our Black Angus bull. She is getting darker every day and may end up black!

First Picture, one-day old  Willow and Ginger

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


This is a trial and error blog! So, I have changed the template to see if it will accommodate the new size.

I want to be able to post some pictures in a larger size, especially the birds.
From Birds

I have learned a little more about my is about time. I have had it for a a couple of years. There is a very generous member named Sharon on the GardenWeb Cooking Forum who takes professional pictures of food. She has generously created a blog called Food Photo Tips at I have applied the closeup shot method to the birds. I take them all through the kitchen window using the zoom until it is not blurry and in macro. I sometimes adjust the White Balance and sometimes leave it on automatic.

I am using a Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ8, which is just a point and shoot or you can do some manual adjustments.....I haven't got beyond this.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

This and That

Yesterday was errand day which is always tiring but necessary.


We went to the farmer's co-op to pick up some grains for the chickens. I think I will experiment with just feeding them grains instead of egg krumbles or pellets. I like knowing what they are eating and you never do with pellets. I bought rolled corn, whole oats (I wanted wheat but would have had to go to another building across town for that), and for insurance a bag of krumbles. They will also get all table scraps and I will pull the blasted henbit for them as long as it is green.

It will be interesting to see how this works. I know my grandmother raised her chickens on scraps and whole corn she shelled off the cob each evening to feed them. I have gone to the corn crib with her many times. I think this is another reason I want to grow open pollinated corn next year. My corn crib will just be some large trash bins though.

The new heater for their water is malfunctioning..........don't know what that is about. It is now working.


From Food
From Food

I have made spritz butter cookies and Russian Teacake cookies now. I have never had trouble with the cookie press.........but did this year. Finally got through with that ordeal.

Friday, December 18, 2009

34° this morning with a cold front coming in.


Yesterday while waiting for the temperature to warm up, I made a batch of what we call Reece's, peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate. Today I will do Spritz Butter cookies and maybe one or two others.
Posted by Picasa

I knew yesterday was supposed to be our last nice day for a while so decided to get the rest of the mulching done.

DH brought me 4 more bales of straw and I spent a couple of hours late in the afternoon finishing the asparagus row and a weedy corner of the garden. I used the old hay bales (left in the yard for over a week) to mulch the flower border that runs along the south side of the garden, a "found" rose cutting that appeared when the hostas died back....I don't even remember which rose it is, the rosemary and dahlias and the new herb bed that has garlic up about 6 inches and several other fall planted things. I used three bags of leaves to mulch them.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Up at 4:00 AM, temperature 32°

We are having a couple of nice is supposed to be 50° so I will finish mulching the asparagus bed.

We restarted our trash pickup yesterday. We tried to stick to the recycling and burning method for one year. We finally gave up; they no longer take glass. It got so complicated with having to drive here and there. So, now all in one container again and our lives have become easier.

Milked yesterday and set 2 gallons to clabber, pullets 6 eggs, old Buff l. Life is good.


A few years ago, I got interested in heirloom gardening. There were several reasons behind it. First I love the idea of being self-sustaining (up to point....remember the trash thing) then I like the simple life style and I think we have lost a lot of flavor and nutrition with all the hybridizing. I know my grandmother didn't have to order or buy $$$$$ of garden seeds each year, she saved her own and you can't do that with hybrids.

I have ordered lots of seeds this year, but once I decide what we like and what grows well in our area, I should be able to save seeds. I saved three different varieties of pole bean seeds last fall: Cherokee Trail of Tears, Kentucky Wonder and Kwintus, all pole beans which is all I grow.

I ordered seed from a local supplier who has become quite famous and successful and has opened a store in Petaluma, Ca., Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Yesterday they sent their 2010 catalog and it is a thing of great beauty. It was like reading a fascinating garden book. The pictures were the fact, the whole catalog is the best I have ever seen. I worry though about the cost and the direction they are taking....a bit like Silver Dollar City which I hate. It may just be an age thing for me, but they have festivals, a fake old time city, etc...........

I just have to order some open pollinated corn seed now and think I have found my source, a small family owned seed company in Tennessee, New Hope Seed Co. I hope we can get new ground ready totally away from the kitchen garden so the corn can be safe from cross pollination. I hope to have a grinder by next fall and use the corn for meal and the chickens. I remember Grandpa's corn crib and going out there to get a few ears to shell out for the chickens...lots of fun ahead.

First thing this morning will be processing the clabbered milk. I have already taken out a quart to keep for butter milk......thinking buttermilk biscuits and pancakes. The rest will be cottage cheese.

Just finished with the cheese making. I ended up with about 2 quarts or lbs, I didn't measure or weigh it and I should have. Drained the curds, salted and added about 1/4 cup heavy cream to it...I couldn't resist and had a dish.
From Food
From Food
From Food

Now the part I don't the mess up in the kitchen.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Eggs and Asparagus

We were amazed that we got 8 eggs from the new 8 pullets on the second day. They are such happy birds and sing and talk all day long. Our chickens pay no attention to them in their coop.

This morning after milking, I cleaned off the asparagus row and got about 1/3 of it mulched. I will have to keep the chickens off the garden now.....they scratch the mulch down to the dirt. I think another 3 bales of straw will finish the job. Then I want to burn all the garden debris which is tomato plants and asparagus to help keep down disease and insects.

The blackberries have spread over into the asparagus row. I will prune them early next spring and may try to remove the ones in the asparagus. I have more raspberry vines than I realized. They are easy to tell from the blackberries because of the way they grow and their stem color.

I think the weather will cooperate over the next few days so I can get the garden finished for winter.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New Chickens

The weather here is very dreary, some light rain, no sun in sight, but a mild 42°. Another cold front is moving in soon.

We found some 6 month old pullets on Craig's List in Monett and decided to buy a few to supplement our girls who are not laying at all! They were very nice size and beginning to lay already. We bought 8 and brought them home in a light rain covered with a tarp. We arrived safely and I decided to cover the pen side of the coop with some old greenhouse plastic to make a snug place for them. I want to keep them isolated for a while so they can get used to the hen house and make friends with our chickens through the wire wall. I just enclosed the south and west walls, the north is the wall of the enclosed coop and I left the east side open. They have settled in nicely and are singing happily. I even got an egg this morning.

I couldn't wait any longer to test the mincemeat so I made a small batch of tarts this morning. I think it needs a little sugar added; outside of that, I like it very much and it reminds me of Grandma's.

From Food

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Glad to report the cold snap is past. We got down to 9° one morning.

We did get the strawberry bed mulched with some help from my friends..........Photobucket

I got the henhouse bedded with straw, cleaned the nest boxes and removed extra pans from the floor so they would have more room. We kept them up during the coldest days (2). Even with all that loving attention, they are still not laying.

My neighbor sells eggs so we had to give in and buy hurt!

We are back in more normal temperatures for us, the 40's day and 20's nights. It almost feels like summer.

I have vowed to learn how to use my camera better this winter. I am taking bird pictures outside the kitchen window. I have a feeder hanging there so can get some closeup shots.

This is a White Crowned Sparrow. He/she lit on the Endless Summer Hydrangea bloom right beneath the kitchen window. This seems to be a favorite perch when leaving the feeder or if too many are there before him.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's still dark outside and 34°. I think precipitation is in the predictions for the day. Just heard the forecast and cold front is coming! Supposed to be down to 9° by Wednesday! Yikes. Got to get the outside stuff done asap.

To Do: Bring down 4 bales of straw from the back barn and mulch the strawberry bed and put down a bale for the chickens, clean their nest box. This is all in hopes they will decide to lay again before spring!

Chickens in general: Note to self.....start a fresh bunch each spring or at least every other spring.


The mincemeat is ripening in the stainless steel pot on the back of the stove and tasting better every day. I am using it like jam on my breakfast toast. When I was a child, I wouldn't touch it.

Bread Making: Yesterday I used my standby recipe but added lots of extra goodies to it. I am calling it Health Bread Recipe No. 1.

From Food

From Food

From Food
From Food


2 pkgs yeast (I use SAF that I keep in the freezer)
1/2 cup warm water

2-1/2 cups warmed milk (original recipe called for water but this is healthy whole foods remember)
1-1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 cups Oat Bran Cereal (found in supermarkets...brand Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 cup either honey or sugar (I used raw sugar)
1/4 cup melted butter
6 cups 50/50 flour (half whole wheatand half AP)
1 egg
2 cups Bread flour (I used AP with gluten added)

shortening to coat 3 loaf pans. Or can be baked in rounds on oven stone.


1/2 cup chia seed jell
1/4 cup milled flax seed
1/3 cup wheat germ

Add yeast to 1/2 cup water to dissolve

Combine lukewarm milk, melted butter, salt, oat bran cereal, sugar and 2 cups of the flour mix and beat well (I used a KA stand mixer).

Add egg, yeast mixture, chia jell, mix well.

Add dry additives to the couple of cups of bread flour and mix. Add this to liquid ingredients and mix well, I beat with the mixer for a couple of minutes and if it is too thin, I add flour until it is like thick pancake batter. Then begin adding flour until you get a nice soft dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl or, if by hand, until you have a pretty stiff dough. Either knead with mixer 6 minutes or by hand for 8-10 minutes. If using a mixer, turn out on floured board knead a minute or so to get the feel of the dough and to form a nice smooth ball.

Place in bowl for first rise. Cover with damp towel and put in a fairly warm area.
I don't grease the bowl for rising and I use the same bowl I mix it in. Let raise until doubled, about l hour. Gently turn out onto board and fold a few times. Divide into three loaves. I usually weigh them to get them even. Form into nice loaf shape and put in pans for second rise.

Don't cover. Let raise for maybe l hour. I use the old poke in corner of loaf test. If the dent stays it is ready.

Bake 375° for approximatly 40 minutes. I test with instant thermometer until internal temp reaches at least 185°

Note: If using oven stone for rounds, I form the ball, sprinkle a pizza peel with cornmeal and use it to slide the rounds onto the hot stone.

Note: Just to show that I am a bread junkie, I took a picture of all the various ingredients I keep in the freezer for various breads.

From Food

Believe me all this isn't necessary; all you really need is flour, water and's a hobby for me so I make no excuses!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Today it is 30.2° and overcast.

I don't milk today so DH will tend to morning chores (bless him).

Today To Do List:

Breadmaking Day (my favorite day)
More practice with indoor photos with the camera
Hopefully some good bird shots outside the kitchen window.

Speaking of feeding the birds, a few days ago I asked DH to check the smokehouse (where we keep the feeders stored over summer) for a tube feeder. He reported back that there wasn't one. So, off to Lowe's we went where I bought a feeder. When I saw the copper lid, that rang a bell but I ignored it. Got home; put it up and in a couple of days the canaries found it.

Yesterday I had to get something from the smokehouse (see I have already forgotten what) and there just inside the door hanging on a nail was the new tube feeder from last year! It is much heavier and more decorative than the one just bought. I have no idea what he was looking for when he ignored this!

I think it is sturdy enough that we retired the squirrel chewed one on the Elm tree and replaced it with the 'found' one.

It is downright scary!

Nell,of Secrets 0f A Seed Scatterer's Blog posted a picture of a Pileated Woodpecker, another thing our areas have in common. I took this picture a couple of years ago in our front yard. It was working happily away on our bug infested Elm tree.
Pileated Woodpecker

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Posted by Picasa

Winter Entertainment

From Birds

We both get such a kick out of feeding the birds and trying to get pictures of them out the kitchen window. It is much easier to feed them!

This morning may have been our coldest yet 26°, but with very little wind.
I milked Willow, but left one quarter for Ginger, her baby. The adoptee is certainly big enough to wean, but I let him share with Ginger except on days that I choose to milk. I fed the calves and wormed all six cats. It was much easier than I anticipated.

I have baked an angel-food cake and cooked brown rice for our lunch. I will be doing fried rice with ham bits and cake with frozen (out of my patch) strawberries.
We are both trying to be better about what we eat (interpret that as lose weight).

I received my Park Seed Co. order yesterday, short the back-ordered Candy onion seed.
Very annoying since I ordered so early. They did the same thing last year which put my onion plants way behind. I may just cancel.

Inventoried my garden seeds finally and shouldn't have to order anything more.

The rest of the day will be spent in my 'nest' in the kitchen reading. My Dad used to call it that and it fits the spot perfectly.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Heavy Frost

We have a really heavy frost on everything this morning.

Unfortunately it was milking morning so I bundled up accordingly. The only thing that got cold was my feet. I am thinking some new Muck chore boots are in order. I slipped on my sis's pair when we visited her and they were simply wonderfully comfortable.

Frost was on everything in sight. The two irises that were blooming were covered.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Aftermath

It always takes me a few days to get back to normal and into my routine after a holiday. I have the kitchen and dining room back to normal and DH, aka my personal laundry man, has the laundry all caught up. The guest bedrooms will take further attention. We have a small house and even with three extra people it seems crowded....

We did enjoy great weather Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Our daughter and granddaughter and I took the ATV for a ride over the farm and got to see the cows up close and personal. Grand and daughter did quite a bit of walking, but my foot was 'acting up' so I rode. I always enjoy that because I don't make myself tour the back of the farm as often as I should.

I was pleased to see the cows in lots of deep grass.....still.

Gardening: I have been notified that my seed orders are being shipped. That sets an early record for me!

The daylily seedling under lights are growing rapidly. I will start feeding them a very low strength fertilizer soon. Two of them didn't germinate, Double Joann and the cream with a burgundy eyed one.

I found two surprises this week outside. I have a lavender growing in the old well planter by the pink rose. I forgot I stuck one left over in there. It is looking good. Then after the frost killed back the hostas.....there stood a turned over jar and beside it was a rose cutting..........have no idea which one it is. I vaguely remember planting it. Could be the Aloha because I try to take cuttings regularly since it is susceptible to RRD. The leaf doesn't look like it though. Should be fun to watch it bloom next summer.

Lavender bonus plant

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Up at 4:30 am this morning and enjoying coffee with my computer. This is my favorite time of day. DH is still sleeping; let the cat in (before she scratched my newly painted door) and she is napping near me on a dining room chair cushion.

The cold front hasn't arrived yet and it is still 51° outside and no rain yet. My painting got nice and dry and I was able to remove the tape from the windows on the door panes.

I took an early morning tour of the yard and garden yesterday morning and found a few blooms here and there.
A first year seedling echinacea was blooming. The new plants always look much better to my eye than the older ones. The leaves are larger, deeper green, just altogether healthier.
new echinacea

There were a few rudbeckia blooms from self seeded plants this summer, the two fall blooming iris Suky and Dashing are still very nice and one pink one that seems too tan to me is blooming. I have some seedling nicotiana sylvestris blooming. They seem to love the cooler weather. I have seedlings of them all over like ground cover.

Speaking of groundcover, the lamiums have been outstanding this year with blooms scattered all season and some are still in bud. I think they must like the cooler and wetter weather that we have had.

Most of the leaves are gone from the trees but I am still enjoying the color in the Ash Tree Bed . It is filled with lots of self seeded things like kolreuteria paniculata, euonymous alatus, and virginia creeper. This is the bed next to the drive that has the large Black and Blue Salvia in it. This picture is from the north side. You can't see it, but there is one small dark pink bloom from the clematis that climbs up the barberry.

ash tree bed

The buddleias are putting out new growth along the stems and the 'Honeycomb' variety is blooming.Honeycomb bloom

The garden still has a short row of turnips producing. I had thought it was a going to be a complete bust. I hadn't grown them before and failed to thin them properly soon enough and almost plowed the whole row up.
Glad I didn't. I have had three messes so far and will have a couple more........probably.turnips

There are also lots of volunteer potatoes....I left many in the ground because as soon as I dug them, they began to I will see what I get from these 'early planted' ones.turnips and volunteer potatoes in garden
The bad news is every bare spot on the ground is thick with bromus tectorum/cheat and one of our native lamiums, either lamium amplexicaule/henbit or lamium purpureum/deadnettle. At this stage I can't tell which. I hope a hard freeze will kill all of it or I will have a serious job ahead for spring!

Today is bread making day. Also have plans to look for some straw for bedding for the the milking shed and since my hens are currently on strike, check out a local source for eggs.

Monday, November 23, 2009

We have had a few days of very nice weather so I have been busy outside repainting the back door and parts of the wellhouse. The back door was scratched badly by our cat who thinks she is a dog....scratches to be let in and stands at the door to be let out.

I got the oil base primer on and today will get the topcoat. They are predicting a change in the weather to colder and rain so I want to get on it very early today.

I did at last get all this year's seeds sorted and did an inventory of tomato seeds. I want to place any orders very early because everyone anticipates a run on seeds. I had to wait too long last year on my onion seeds so I will order those today.

From Saving Seeds

after listing all the tomato seeds, I will try to control myself and just order a couple of new ones that Dr. Carolyn Male recommends in her book "100 Heirloom Tomatoes for the American Garden".
From Saving Seeds

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

We have been having some very disagreeable weather with drizzly rain for three days and highs in the 40's. Total accumulation has only been a little over l inch.

We have finally got the dining room back together and the computer/office corner done (I think). May change it some. Rehung the shades and sheers on two windows so they would be at the top of the wall like the other two.
It looks much better .They all match now. We are really happy with the refinished floors. I have been doing the fun things like washing all the dishes that were in the china cabinet and the hutch and putting them away. Then cleaned out the two drawers in the hutch. This is the cleanest the dining room has been since we moved in in 1991.

Milk Cow: She really misbehaved when I milked yesterday morning. Moving around a lot and finally got her foot into the bucket of milk causing me to loose about a quart. I smacked her on her front foot....doesn't do any good but I was mad.....I am writing the date on the calender. It may be a heat thing or she could already be bred since she has had the company of one of the BA bulls since she calved. She really would rather nurse the calves than have me milk.

Gardening: Inside. The daylily seeds are beginning to sprout. I have a mystery going.One section that should be Grape Magic sure doesn't look like daylilies. Wonder what seeds I labeled wrong? They all looked like daylily seeds when I planted them. Maybe when the true leaves develop, I will know.

Food: and gardening. I cannot grow rhubarb and love rhubarb pie and preserves. I have given up and now my sis in Iowa brings me a few packages each year. I just cooked down a bag with additional sugar and had the preserves with biscuits this morning. Delicious!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Milk Cow

We retired to dairying back in 1993....not a wise thing to do, but we did it nevertheless. We had some ups and downs, but in the end, I look back on it with pleasure and still miss milking.

We sold out in 2004. I joined Keeping a Family Milk Cow Forum and the more I read, the more I wanted one! Now I was not a virgin when it comes to owning a family cow. When we first moved to the country way back in 1976 and the children were young, I had several (one at a time). So I knew what I was getting into.

My plan was to just milk when I needed milk for my husband and me and let her calf have the rest. As events occurred, the plan was modified some.

I found my cow through the KAFC forum, very close to us. She is a registered Milking Shorthorn. When we went to see her, she had a large beautiful roan colored heifer calf (also pure milking shorthorn) on her. The calf was certainly big enough to wean. My husband fell in love at first sight and wanted her too. So, we ended up buying both. The cow was named Willow and her calf Annabelle.

The plan worked great...then one morning very soon after buying her we found an orphan Black Angus calf in with the beef herd. I sure didn't want to start bottle feeding, so introduced it to Willow. It took a few days, but finally Willow accepted it wholeheartedly and gave enough milk for all three of us.

Time passed... I weaned both calves, rebred Willow to one of the BA bulls. I turned her dry....she calved without any difficulty with a beautiful, solid red heifer calf I named Ginger (for obvious reasons). Then,within a week, we had another orphan BA calf! I thought it must be the same cow, but the calf was too early for that. It was a very aggressive and hungry calf.....same thing happened again. Introduced it; Willow butted it a lot; I tied her up; she still kicked and resisted......slowly she accepted it. At last I didn't need to tie her up, just let her into the calf pen and both calves attached themselves to her with very little objection. I do feed her some grain morning and evening. I want her production to stay up. The adoptee is a bull that we named Ferdinand (a great suggestion from another forum friend).

Ginger was born in late summer. She was solid red but as time went on she began changing color. First the area around her eyes got very black and she looked like a raccoon, then the top of her head, then her rump. Just this week, I saw what looked afar like steaks and spots of dirt on her side. Nope, it is black streaks. It will be interesting to see how she finally ends up. I hope more brindle develops. I love brindle cows.

As a newborn, she was a very solid, red, some brighter than her mother,First Picture, one-day old  Willow and Ginger
and now two plus months later, she is showing new color, taking more after her Black Angus daddy.
Ginger nursing at 2.5 monthsGinger's black face (with milk slobbers)Ginger, 2 1/2 mos with streaking showing upand her very black rump,Ginger's black rump

She has been a perfect cow for us. Not too much milk, but enough to raise two calves and keep us in milk. I do wish she had more butterfat, but Jerseys do come with their own set of issues.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Good Friday morning.

Well, one day closer to the floor being dry enough to move the furniture back. Still lots of smell from the oil varnish they used.

We did get the shades rehung last night which was nice. I had washed the windows earlier. We live close to the road and the windows are large. I am paranoid about having windows covered at night.

Today I will paint the trim next to the floor and by Sunday, the furniture will go back.

I took a tour of the yard and found a few things here and there still blooming.

My favorite this time of year is the dwarf nandina. I love the huge clusters of red berries.

This has been a surprising year for the reblooming iris. I think they must thrive in cool weather and lots of rain. Two varieties have really done well here: Dashing and Suky.

I found one single bloom of rudbeckia that still looked good.

and of course, the petunias are still going strong. I am afraid they will finally freeze hard before the seed pods ripen. I am trying to save a few for friends.

This is my morning to milk. It was supposed to be yesterday but the two calves got to her before I could separate them....they are too large to manhandle so I rescheduled.