Wednesday, March 25, 2015

New Soap

We are having a cooler period of weather but just got very little rain yesterday evening.  We will see what today brings. 

Yesterday morning, was a typical one:  Went out early; cleaned nests (no eggs); processed  milk; no puppy time this morning.  then decided to make butter with some half and half and the morning cream.  It didn't make much and took much longer to make, but I did get  about a cup or more finally.

My Iowa sis has become addicted  to my home-made goat's milk soap and she told me she had one bar left so I should get busy.  I couldn't find liquid goat's milk last time  I replenished my supply but found powdered milk and that is what I used.  I changed recipes and this time used Krazo's recipe but used the technique  for  powdered milk.  You blend the powdered milk directly into the warmed and  cooled oils and then add the lye water to that.  It worked beautifully.   This way you don't have to worry about the lye scorching the milk (I know Carolyn doesn't do that ice thing, but I always do and still have had some problems  with it).  The only negative is I like that tan color and this doesn't have it.  It seems to be a creamy light yellow.

I also increased the recipe by 25% so I would have more soap to  share.

I used the last of the lye so I called the local Ace Hardware and they ordered me more.  I will  pick up all of it Friday.

I ordered some interesting supplies from Bramble Berry.  I will be making chapstick next.  I also bought some new nourishing oils:  Apricot Kernel and Avacado.  Both are recommended for 'aging' skin and I qualify!  They sent some sample fragrance oils which I have never used since they are chemical based and I want to keep everything natural, but I am getting antsy to try the fragrances.  I may make a very small  batch just to use them.

I was tired after all that so lunch was very simple but I made myself  do a chicken pot pie for the evening meal.  I had cooked and boned the chicken earlier. 

For breakfast this morning I used the leftover biscuits by splitting and buttering (thank you Jewel) them and toasting them in the countertop oven.  We enjoy them that way very much.   Also had scrambled eggs and bacon.

DH has gone outside to do morning chores so I better follow.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Butter Making

It is another beautiful day here.  I went out to help process Jewel's milk and to stroll the yard.  DH was right, I need  to mow and not just the leaves.

First thing in the Milk Parlor was to skim yesterday's cream off.  I had strained the milk into my old faithful large McCoy crock.  That makes skimming so much easier.  Her cream is so thick and heavy, I have  to scrape it off the spoon into a jar.  This made day two of skimming so I have a quart of heavy cream and that is the limit my food processor can handle without overflow.

It took less than 5 minutes for butter to arrive.

I strained it through a double layer of cheesecloth and then began the washing which is just running cold water over it and squeezing until the water stays almost clear.  Then I salt it.

I ended up with over a pound of butter.  Notice how much yellower it is than 'store' butter?  That is Jersey milk for you.

We may start milking her daily.  We are leaving the baby on her 24/7 so we are sure she is getting all she wants and we are too.

Strolling pictures:

A few daffodils are blooming:

and the Korean Boxwood by the back door is blooming and getting fragrant.  I wish I could describe the scent, but I can't  come up with a word.  I notice some say English boxwood smells like cat p***. Well mine certainly doesn't.  I suspect not everyone would like it; it is not a flowery scent at all.

I finally got my lonely rhubarb plant  heavily manured.   

Note:  New Header Pictures The flock of turkeys has been spending time in the west lots.   This is the first time I have caught the tom displaying his tail feathers.  I counted over 20 and quit since they were spread over two fields and in several groups.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Winter is back and First Milking

The last two days have been very cold and dreary.  We have been getting a little moisture but not enough to really help much.  Temperature is running 40's and near freezing at night.

This has been a much busier  week than is normal for us.  Monday was allergist (just dust mites!) a veritable waste of our time and we will not be returning.  The medicine  they precribed for DH had more negative effects than his occasional sneezing fits. I did, in a weak moment, order the suggested mattress and pillow covers...........and a new comforter.  We have a hepa filter vacuum.

 Tuesday was DH's day to run his Mother on her errands  which took all day!  She is amazing at 96!

Wednesday was deliver the beef  to the processor.  I am almost out of beef in the freezer.  They took us out back to see something interesting:  The had a 2,000 lb Hereford steer from MSU that had a "window" embedded in his left side so students could observe.  I found it very disgusting.  He told us we had the only 'normal' beef delivered so far that day.  The other  pens were Long Horns, 2 very young and one mature with a set of horns so wide they had to unload him through a side panel instead of the regular gate.  He said there is a big demand for Long Horn hamburger; it is supposed to have more nutrients. I am wondering if it just means no fat?  I hadn't heard that one before.

Today is  my run  to the local store  for a few groceries; DH's run to Ash Grove for a haircut and chicken feed,  salt blocks and l00 lbs of puppy feed.

I did finish cleaning the dog pen one morning.  I think it  was 5 5- gallon buckets.  We finally got smart and trapped the babies on one side of the double pens so I could empty the buckets without fighting them back each time.  Now we will spread straw and I hope to clean the pens on a regular basis.  They are  little butterballs of hyper-activity!


I ordered fertilizer for the hay fields and now we just wait for a good, dry day to spread.  Then, of  course, I will hope for rain on the fertilizer.

We milked Jewel for the first time  day before yesterday and are milking her again this morning.

She came right up the ramp and only kicked once then settled right down to the milking  machine.
Her personality is very different from Willow's.

From Jewel

She gave 2.5 jars of very yellow milk, also different from Willow's more white version.  I haven't checked  the cream  line yet this morning.

We don't know yet if we will try to find another calf to put on her.....probably not.

Well all the news  for now.  I need to get an early start  to the store.  From noon on I go downhill rapidly!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Jewel Calved! and first outside yard work.

I am thinking Spring is here at last.

I actually worked outside this morning for a couple of hours.  DH charged the battery on the riding mower so I could hook up  the garden cart.  Those small batteries do not like cold weather.

I checked the eggs.  I  did find where the possum came into the larger chicken yard....sneaky rascal.  I am now down to 8 hens and one is pretty old.  I may enlarge the flock this spring.

I dug up some henbit for the girls and tossed it to them before I came in.


I thinned the broccoli's and cauliflower and put them under a cold frame (aka. shower door propped against garden fence).  I hope to plant them out in a few days.

I saw where DH had been driving across a planting of my beautiful cream colored iris.....they were in a very bad location.  They were barely showing green tips so I decided to relocate  them before he did permanent damage to them.  The ground was so soft  that lifting them was very easy.   I replanted them in what used to be the Ash Tree Bed  right next to the patio and drive.  I need to rename that bed since the Ash Tree is no more.  I still have several smaller tubers left.  I haven't decided where to put them yet.....maybe a nursery row to grow on.

I burned off the grasses too. 

Egg plant is up....3 plants only; Vinca is coming up. 

Will be planting tomatoes and peppers soon.

I had plans to finish cleaning the  dog/puppy pen but ran  out of steam.  That will be next on the list.


Now for the good news:  Jewel calved March 13, Friday with a beautiful light red heifer calf.   I never see my milk cows  bred even though they are very close to the house.....beef cattle seem shy!  I am assuming she was bred by Willow's two year old dark red bull calf that I kept for breeding.  He is beautiful and I think is out of another black Angus, shorthorn cross bull (also Willow's) so he is 3/4 Milking Shorthorn and 1/4 Black Angus  (if I am figuring correctly).  So  her new baby is half Jersey and 3/8 Milking  Shorthorn and 1/8 Black Angus.  Whew!  She is a little doll.

From Jewel's Second Baby

If I am correct on who bred Jewel, then this is Papa and Mama at the feeder:

Her teats were so skinny after  the first calf that milking was difficult  (we didn't have the milking machine then  either) so I think things look more promising now:

Other news is we finally with our help gathered up the beef calves ready for sale and were very pleased that prices were still very good.  I know that isn't good news for  people buying meat, but it made us happy.  Sorry.

Hope the weather is nice in your area and you can finally enjoy the outdoors!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Spring is Coming

I can feel it in my bones.....and in the warmer weather  and with the dratted time change!


Is taking over more of my thinking  these days.  I checked my planting calendar and saw  I needed to plant eggplant(Amadeo).  I also planted Pow Wow Berry coneflower (echinacea) and lavender Munstead.  I would really like to get a nice bed of lavender going.  It isn't easy to grow in our humid summers but once in a while  I can get a few plants to take hold.

The ground has thawed some and that leaves a muddy top few inches which is very annoying to walk through.  It also tracks up the back porch and kitchen. 

Finally the daffodils are coming up in various places. 

I want to get out and scatter all old saved flower seeds in some bare places.  Hopefully some with germinate. 


I lost two hens during the last cold spell,  Found them dead inside the hen house with a small wounded area on their backs.  I just assumed they died of old age and the others cannibalized them.  They do that you know.  But then a couple of days ago DH opened the door to the coop and staring him in the eye was a possum.  We have no idea how he got in unless he dug under the foundation on the field side.  (I need to check that).  DH dispatched him  quickly.  Then the next night we found this in one of the two traps we have set:  I think this is what happened to my two hens.

He  is playing dead in this picture; they do that you know but they are vicious little beasts if riled.

I found where a skunk had burrowed under the foundation which is why were were smelling skunk and blamed Sugar for getting too close.  So far, it has avoided the trap, but we think it is gone since we aren't smelling the sent now.  I have covered the hole.  This is a hide and watch situation.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Some Winter Pictures....and birds

Since I last posted we have had another 5 inch snow.   The last two days have been above freezing so it is slowly melting down.

I took a few random pictures when I went out to feed the birds last:

This is standing in front of the kitchen window looking south to the road.

And this is the feeder, for once outside looking in:

and this was taken this morning looking out that same window:

Do you remember that huge Elm tree we had along the drive I referred to as my 'feeding' tree for the birds....well, sadly , we had to have it taken out and I have missed that feeding tree and so have the birds.  I just realized this week that the sapling peach tree right outside the kitchen window in the hummingbird bed had become  a much smaller version:

Random other photos:

The Harris Sparrow:

and the country night light:

From march 2015 blog photos

and one of the many cats.  You can rarely snap a shot without a cat  (or DH) being in the shot:


A Romertopf Chicken

From cooking