Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mundane Daily Life

Sunday 1/19/14

Up way too early again.

Made breakfast, eggs, bacon and frozen biscuits.  I have changed my recipe a little and they are raising better and the frozen ones bake up high exactly like the fresh ones.  I just dropped  the fat to 1/3 cup.  A nice benefit is the reduced calorie content.

Mopped kitchen and part of bedroom where the new cable comes through. Hands and Knees mopping, my favorite.

Folded two loads of laundry.  (Remember DH does the laundry; I do the folding and putting away).

Made a new recipe of potato soup for lunch. I got it from Chickens in the Road.  Here it is. 

Morgan’s Favorite Soup

How to make Cheesy Broccoli-Potato Soup:
4 medium baking potatoes, peeled and diced
10 ounces chopped broccoli
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
ground black pepper (LOTS)
6 cups milk
8 – 12 ounces Velveeta (optional)
1 teaspoon garlic salt (or to taste)
1 – 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Boil the diced potatoes till soft, drain. While boiling the potatoes, I go ahead and put the frozen chopped broccoli in a medium-size slow cooker on High and start defrosting it right in the crock.
In a large skillet, melt butter. Add flour and stir to make a roux. I start adding pepper now. Probably altogether, I use about a tablespoon of pepper, but I add it as I go, testing. Start adding the milk, a cup at a time, and stirring to make a smooth sauce. I add the first four cups in the skillet and bring it to a simmer to thicken, adding the cheese to melt. (I go with 12 ounces. You can use 8 ounces. Or 4. Or none. This soup is good without cheese at all, but Morgan wants it cheesy.) Once the cheese is melted and the sauce is thickened, remove the skillet from the heat.
Add the potatoes to the slow cooker along with the sauce. Add two more cups of milk along with the garlic salt and crushed red pepper. (We like spicy. You can leave this out or reduce it if you don’t.) Season to taste. Slow cook on High until everything is piping hot then keep on Low until ready to serve.

You can serve this straight as a soup, but I always serve it over rice. It could also be served over pasta. For a heartier soup, you can add sliced kielbasa, chicken, shrimp, or whatever you like! This is a very versatile soup, and delicious!

Note from me: I used white American Cheese and not quite as much, also cut back on red pepper. Also I will use frozen chopped asparagus instead of broccoli next time.

Monday 1/20/14

Up very early, 3 AM. Today is supposed to be warm...then down again tomorrow. We need to run some errands this morning:
List of errands:
Deliver a set of dishes to The Kitchen (I bought a end of year bargain from Macy's) These are the new ones:
I must admit to having a dish fetish.  If I had space I would have several different sets, just for 4, maybe with the new shelves I can indulge a little.
Stop by MIL's. She was having a problem installing a printer cartridge. I am pretty sure she wasn’t successful but she won't tell me Note:.She had successfully installed the cartridge. I am so proud of her.

Pick up a lighter foundation at Merle Norman's (I fade during the winter)I(We forgot this one!)

Shop for a standing tool chest for all our scattered tools and see if this will help DH put things where they belong! (this has been an outstanding bone of contention between us for a few years now!)WE got one at Harbor Freight but it is been to darned cold to gather up all the tools and store them.
Errands completed.

We replaced the trim in the need to install the faceplates (will do that when new tool arrives tomorrow).  Note: Tool arrived but still to cold to search for anything related to the job.

I spent more of my Christmas gift certificate at Amazon....bought a deep Lodge cast iron chicken fryer with a glass lid. I do love the glass lids and save all for use on my All Clads. Some from some cheap WM pans that have deceased fit them!

I also ordered a wireless fence system for Sugar.  I found  that it will not work at all with our steel siding.  I should have realized this but didn't.  The description of the item on Amazon also did not mention this, I have called that to their attention!  Now I have the aggravation of packing it and returning it.  I may fight them on the return fee.  Sugar has now started running to a couple of the neighbor's when we let her out.  She stays for several hours.  One of them who is so nice and an obvious dog lover has returned her twice on his ATV with her trotting along side on a lead.  We have two options....leave her loose and see if she will stay home; maybe she doesn't want put back into the pen or (this has been suggested by two neighbors, get her a playmate)

I wanted to thank the neighbor for being to nice so I baked bread again.  This time, I made 4 loaves of honey, whole wheat (light on the whole wheat) and DH took a loaf to him.

This was probably at capacity of my mixer.  It made a very large amount of dough.
This time I let it go an extra raise before making loaves.
You can see where I punched it down the first time.
I do think it gives the bread a finer texture.
and the finished product,

Yesterday was spent opening boxes from Amazon (dog fence, and new chicken fryer).  I was also on the phone most of the day.....that seems to happen once in a while, usually my Sis and my daughter.  I don't mind  at all.

I had planned  a banana  cake for us.  When I finally was off the phone, it was late in the day....I made the cake anyway.

I do like this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens old cookbook:

Banana Cake BH&G Page 80 (old issue )
2 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup mashed ripe banana (usually two)
½ cup buttermilk or sour milk
½ cup shortening
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all dry ingredients and ½ teaspoons salt. Add bananas, buttermilk, shortening, eggs and vanilla
Beat on low until mixed then on medium for three minutes.

Pour into 2 greased and floured 8 or 9 inch cake pans. Bake 350°for 30 to 35 minutes. Test with toothpick .Cool for l0 minutes before removing from pan.

Note: I ice with cream cheese icing and freeze one in pan for later.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Week's Worth of Life on the Farm

I have not been taking I could get things out of order but  my life has been out of order since I posted  last so........We had guests for 5 days.

 A week later had an overnight guest again.  Our granddaughter's girlfriend came down to surprise one of the boys for his birthday.  No one knew anything about it until she was ready to leave St. Louis. To say were were very surprised it putting it mildly.  It was just overnight stay this time.

The big farm news is we sold a trailer  load of prices ever.  We are feeling very fortunate about that.  The sad part of it is a very large heifer stuck her head though the panels in the loading alley and before we could get her out (she had a front leg and head on one side and a rear leg out on the other),  she died! We tried not  to think about the cost.....
We haven't lost an animal in a long time.  I used to go bonkers when things like this happened but it is part of farming or ranching.  She was the first one down the alley so that delayed things a bit.  It also spooked the other calves so it took a couple of attempts to settle them down.
 I was pleased that I was able to stay out and help drive the calves into the loading alley.  I worked the squeeze gate that crowded the calves into the alley.  I wasn't in the pen with the calves at all.....I know better than that after our last near disaster!

Our 'boys' wired 100 feet of coaxial cable through the attic so I could have television in the guest bedroom, but they were rushing to the birthday dinner and left me with an incorrect hookup and two 4 inch or so holes in the living room and bedroom wall.  I was so tired after them  being here and having the unexpected guest that I left things lay until Sunday.  I figured the correct hookup to the outside antenna and have the holes filled.  My new neighbor made me two face plates out of scrap material,  even beveled  the edges and sanded them.  I am letting the foam insulation cure and then will attach them to the wall, paint, and that annoying project will be finished.

I just ordered   a new cordless drill/driver set from Amazon with our Christmas money. It was a real bargain.  When I told our neighbor (he is a retired builder and jack of all trades) that I got as excited in the tool department as some women did in the clothing section of department stores, he said when we are next down, he will show me all his tools from the construction business.  I know I don't need any more but I do appreciate them.  I have a router that hasn't even been out of the box!

My next project is to build some shelving for the back porch.  It will be very simple, open type shelving and I won't even paint them.  Just clear stain like the Swedish shelving sold.   I have the lumber bought.  Just need to cut to length and screw together (with the new tool coming next Tuesday).  I am using black screws so they will be exposed.

I plan to get a seed and onion order placed this weekend.  BTW, my Sis just told me something she learned from  someone recently.  When your onions are dry and cured, store them in paper grocery bags.  She has done some that way and they are still as firm as day one.  I now have to see if my local store still uses paper  bags and start saving for next year.  I still have lots left but have also lost a few.

Nothing special in cooking just my normal bread-making,

By now most know I am l00% sold on using King Arthur flour for bread making.  I am delighted to find the Walmart in Bolivar, Mo. carries the regular in both l0 and 20 lbs bags.  I wish they did bread flour in those sizes too.  I am now buying the l0 lbs size.  I would get the larger if storage wasn't an issue.  I am thinking about buying food grade storage buckets for the larger size.

Today I need to make up my pie crust that I keep in the freezer.  I cheated a little and bought the lard in a l-lb package. I hate measuring lard and weighing it. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Near Disaster

WE were both up by 2:30 AM which is just insane.  What can I say.....

The weather is moderating which is wonderful.

The following happened when the girls were visiting.  I thought it deserved its own post.  There is a moral to this story which will follow.

The two boys were here working one morning.  We were in the garden where  I was showing them what I wanted removed.  We heard a loud banging noise and a cow/calf bellowing.  The farm boy one  (our neighbor), not our GD's boyfriend.  Yelled a calf is stuck in the feeder (round-bale type).  We ran toward the lot and the largest calf out there had gotten herself inside the bale ring and was stuck at her hips and she was dragging the thing around the lot.   All three of us ran full speed to see what we could do.  This has happened before and DH just lifts the ring off the calf.  This time when he went to lift the feeder,  she panicked and tried to jump out of it.  If she had chosen  the spot she got through she could have got out but cows aren't the smarted critters, especially when scared.

The boys grabbed the feeder and got her stopped.  By this time, I was inside the lot also and we three tipped it up on its side with the heifer laying quietly (by now) on the ground. The neighbor was the one telling us what to do.  He had the BF sit on the heifer's head and me hold  the opposite side of the feeder down.GD came inside the lot then.  The farm boy neighbor wanted a sawzall to cut the slant bar away.  I dashed to the shop, got mine....dragged 200 feet of extension  cord out.  There was a stabilizing pin gone....didn't even know that.  I  guess it was so tiny that it dropped out and was lost last time I used the saw (maybe two years ago).  So, the saw was inoperable.  FB jumped in his truck; dashed home and came back with a portable welding unit.  Now BF is sitting on cows head, I am holding the side of the feeder to keep it from  flipping over on him.  Someone told GD to go on the opposite side to help me hold it stable.  I f I hadn't been so charged with adrenaline, I would have noticed her and shooed her out of the lot completely!  DH by now has the tractor parked right next to the bale ring, cow and us.  FB got  the bar removed very quickly and surprisingly, the cow just laid there.  He did catch her on fire once but snuffed it out quickly; she didn't even jerk.  I guess it didn't get near her skin.  They have a very heavy coat in winter.

Now we all (not GD) knew when she was free she would go berserk.  So I told the one sitting on her head to get up and away from her quickly.  The neighbor boy already knew this so he removed the welding unit and got away.  I was on her opposite side standing next to the tractor.  I moved back quickly but not quickly enough.  She jumped up and out and instead of running forward whirled around and came right at me.  She was maybe 5  feet from me  when she started but I couldn't move fast enough in rubber boots and rough ground.  My chronic dizziness doesn't help in these situations either.  She hit me mid body and rammed me into the tractor.  Thank God I was standing next to the tire and didn't even suffer a bruise.  She veered away from me and took off into the lot.  She had knocked the metal feeder over on GD so she was completely out of sight.  The boys screamed and got it off her.  She was totally uninjured but covered in dirt. 
I was weak with relief because the bottom of the metal feeder has about an l8 inch skirt of metal which was jagged and  rusted through on the part  that sits on the ground.  If it had raked her face...........I can't bear to think of it even now.

I was weak and trembly all day.....I used some medicinal spirits bought  only for cooking a couple of times during the afternoon!

The moral of this story is:

Never have novices anywhere near large animals on the farm!  No exceptions.
Always carry a bucket of water where welding is happening
Never use these blasted feeders again.

I learned a lesson with this:  I am just past doing serious farm work.  I can't move fast enough because of the dizzy factor.  DH is also beyond something like this. 
I don't know what we would have done if the boys hadn't been here.  Our neighbors are not cattle people.
We would have found some way surely, but without the sawzall, we  could have lost the cow.  I have to try to get  a replacement pin for it.

This is one of those things that happen on farms or ranches.  It isn't a matter of  "if"  but when. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Winter Storm Has Arrived

Yesterday was a balmy 40°.  The boys were able to work outside and do lots of chain saw work and general clean-up.  We woke this morning to about 20° and 3  inches of very fine  snow and lots of wind.  Now at 12:06 PM is is 13° and the last time I measured snow at 9 AM, we had 5 inches.  It has snowed non-stop since  and all our tracks are gone.

I milked both cows and we left them  locked in with their babies and shelter.  I don't worry about the beef cows but I do worry about teats freezing  on the dairy cows, especially the Jersey heifer.  DH drove the truck back and forth and cut a nice swath for me from the house to the milk barn.

I am cooking a pot of white beans with a  large ham bone.  I have cornbread in the oven and will be wilting lettuce to go with it.  I have two pie crusts thawing....may do a blackberry cobbler later this afternoon.

We bought DH  a new porch swing for Christmas.  The other one was getting very old and had collapsed  when too many guest sat on it.  I had the boys put it together yesterday before they left.  It is made of cypress.  I will probably stain it rather than letting it age slowly. 

This is before the storm:

and this was taken this morning,

I have feeders up on the porch and the birds are flocking to them this morning, 

General snow pictures,

It was way past my ankles.  My pants were covered with frozen snow so I had to change when  I came in.

Tonight will be our coldest night, -8 with a wind chill of -40.  That will set a record for us!