Friday, August 31, 2007

Future Farmers???

Perhaps you are looking at the future farmers of America. Our oldest son would disagree very quickly, but our youngest son would sign up for the job NOW (as long as a tractor was part of the job equipment)! I love to see our oldest and our youngest work together. Here are the two of them checking the chickens. Seth was proud to produce one of the two eggs that the chickens laid during the entire month of August.
grace and peace,

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Here is what our kitchen has looked like the last few weeks. Our oldest son announced that he was sick of smelling tomatoes cooking. I told him he would be happy this winter! It does seem that all my hands have been doing lately is canning tomatoes, tomato sauce, and relish. I am enjoying watching my pantry grow. I picked another bushel of tomatoes today. I will be reliving these pictures again tomorrow! There is something very rewarding about seeing the work of your hands displayed in quart and pint jars. After canning tomatoes, my kitchen always looks like a mass murder has taken place...the last picture doesn't quite capture the true view of the mess. Canning tomatoes is a messy job, but in the end it is worth the mess.
grace and peace,

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tueseday Tomatoes???

Lots of normal things going on around our little farm today, but nothing outstanding to report from here. I am busy cleaning, cooking, and YES I am still canning tomatoes!!! The harvest is starting to slow down a bit. I may even put my canner away and clean my entire stove top before the day comes to a close.
Our garden is winding down just a bit. We are still anxiously awaiting our first watermelon. Our cantaloupes are producing, but this year I wasn't thrilled with the variety we planted. I just plain old didn't like them. Michael says he likes them, but he isn't eating them very fast. I miss our Ambrosia Cantaloupes. In my opinion, they are the best thing going in the cantaloupe department. I didn't get any ambrosia seeds this year, but I will be putting it at the top of my seed order for next year. Our peppers are producing nicely now. I even froze some green, red, and orange peppers for winter use. I will have many more to freeze soon.
I had a revelation the other evening. I now know why God causes babies and children to cry and whine and have voices. If they did not make noise, I would have forgotten to feed them and water them!!! Yes, I planted a ton of broccoli, cabbage, onions, and cantaloupes in our basement "green house". Well, they didn't make any noise so I FORGOT about them. I was sure they would have dried up for lack of water, but God had mercy. I now have a reminder note to "Water Seeds" in my kitchen to help me remember. (I am not even old enough to have these issues in my life)!!!! The little plants look great, and I am very thankful to the Lord. God himself knows I didn't do anything to help them along any!
I still haven't harvested my flowers for drying, but I am wanting to do this sometime soon. Things have been busy here, and I just haven't taken time to do it yet. My son did bring something home with him Saturday evening while he and his friends were out fishing....and it wasn't a fish. I will tell you more about his BIG heart and what he dragged home soon. Until then...
grace and peace,

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday Scripture

"Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God, who covers the heavens with clouds, who prepares rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains. He gives to the beast its food, and to the young ravens that cry.
He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy". Psalm 147:7-11

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Everlasting Flowers and Tomatoes!!

I have been reading a book that I found on my bookshelf called Everlastings. It had been given to me several years ago by a friend, but I didn't have any flowers at the time. I have so enjoyed this book. It is very detailed with gorgeous pictures. Come to find out the flowers in the picture above are a good flower to dry. I will be drying them today or sometime this week depending on time. I think we are going to get some rain next week so I really want to get this job done before the rain comes. In the book she also talks about drying wildflowers. I noticed in our fields that we have what looks like a wild version of purple statice. I am going to see how this dries. She even talked about drying out Queen Anne's Lace. I love that weed, and I use it in many of my arrangements. (We don't have allergies in our family)! She suggested using a screen to dry the Queen Anne's Lace. Place the head of the flower on the screen, and let the stem drape through the screen. Hang the screen up until the flowers dry. I'll let you know how this works. I want to take my husband and go flower hunting today in our woods.
Did I happen to mention that I am CANNING TOMATOES!!!! I think the harvest of the tomatoes are going to be everlasting! I know I am going to be thrilled come this winter, but I am starting to question my own sanity at this point in time. I spent last night preparing over 2 bushels of tomatoes that we picked from our garden, and there are still more tomatoes to pick. My new motto has become "LET THEM EAT TOMATOES" when anybody asks about what's for dinner!!!
grace and peace,

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Flower Bounty

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know I love growing and cutting flowers. I mentioned earlier this week that I am wanting to expand my flower garden next year. I am wanting information from my readers on flowers that you have grown in the past. First, I like low maintenance. If they have to be pampered like a french poodle, then they probably won't last long at my house. Second, I am really wanting to grow some varieties that would make nice dried arrangements. If you have some of those varieties that are low maintance, send me some ideas. As always, the flowers that I enjoy growing are the ones that make beautiful cut flower arrangements. I have missed my sunflowers this year. Next year I will include those in my garden once again. I think the horses ate the young plants...or it could have been the cow...or maybe a coon....or who knows...perhaps it was the English Mastiff. I just know that all my sunflowers were gone.
grace and peace,

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Garden Gumbo Recipe

2 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons butter
1 onion chopped
1 green bell pepper chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 cups diced smoke sausage
1 to 2 chicken breasts diced
4 cups chicken broth
One 28 oz canned tomatoes
2 cups cut okra
1 teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
cayenne pepper chopped fine or you can use 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

In large pot conbime the flour and butter. cook over medium heat stirring constantly until incorportated. Add onion, pepper,and garlic. Saute for about a minute. Add sausage, chicken, broth, tomatoes, okra, and seasonings. simmer over low heat for about 50 minutes until chicken is cooked. Remove over bay leaves and serve over rice.

Sometimes I add the rice to the pot. thi is the way I usually make this dish. I just add about 1/2 cup of rice and I increase the chicken broth. This makes it truly a one dish meal.

Summer Flower Arrangements

Here are a few of the arrangements that Hope and I have put together lately. She made the one in the second picture by using a special designed vase. I am always on the look out for different types of containers to hold my flowers. The first picture is a large basket type container. I put pint jars full of water down in the "basket" and I filled each jar with flowers. I then added water to the container itself and added filler in the container to hide the jars. The last picture holds my favorite flower vase of all. It is an old coffee pot from our camping supplies. One of the kids actually was using it to scoop animal feed. They left it by the chicken pen, and as soon as I picked it up a light bulb came on that it would make the perfect vase for flowers. I love it because it looks rustic on or kitchen table or setting on our fireplace hearth in the living room. I find that changing the container can change the whole look of flowers. I have a special shelf in our laundry room that I keep these various containers. They are handy when I have an inspirational moment.
I have seen flower frogs in stores to help arrange. There are several different frogs available. One sets in the bottom of the container, and you poke the stems of the flowers into individual pins. This gives your bouquets an appearance of standing alone. Another type of frog sets on top of your vase and looks something like a toothbrush holder. I do not have any of these frogs although I don't think they are expensive. I have used Scotch tape to create my own frog. Take the vase and fill it with water. Make sure you use plenty of water because you don't want to add any more later. It would make the tape wet. Place strips of scotch tape across the top to make a graph pattern. (Kind of like tic tac toe). Make sure your vase is good and dry before adding the tape. This graph will give you holes to add your flowers. These holes will give your flowers something to make them stand up so they don't rest upon the side of the vase. Make sure you use enough filler that you don't see the tape. Baby's Breath is a nice filler that is VERY easy to grow.
I plan on growing more varieties of flowers next year. I have loved each and every flower that I have grown this year. I just want to add to my collection. I am already researching different cut flower varieties. I want to add some flowers that dry well so I can enjoy the beauty of the summer's harvest all year long. I will post my list once my research is done. More than likely this will be later in the fall or early winter.
grace and peace,

Monday, August 20, 2007

Garden Harvest Being Enjoyed

Our garden is in the midst of production right now. I know I am always rambling on about tomato production, but there is so much more things that we are enjoying right now besides tomatoes and flowers. Yesterday I fried green tomatoes as a side dish to go with our Sunday meal. My children were getting ugly over having to share them with one another. To keep order, I jumped up from dinner and quickly fried another skillet full. By the time dinner was finished, all the kids had their fill of fried green tomatoes! (Who would think that kids would like fried green tomatoes enough to fight over them during Sunday dinner none the less)!!! Tonight's dinner will be Gumbo to finish off the neighbor's okra. I also use our garden tomatoes, fresh Cayenne peppers, and thyme from the herb garden. This is a great one pot dish that uses the garden bounty plus it is cheap to make. To feed my whole family I use 1 chicken breast, and a package of Smoke Sausage in the Gumbo. I could get away with half a package, but I usually splurge and use the whole thing. If anybody is interested let me know and I will post the recipe.

I also am finally picking cantaloupes. It has helped keeping the English Mastiff Coon away from them. Our watermelons are looking great. We have about 15 large watermelons that will be finished growing soon. Our okra is on the verge of being ready to pick too. I also have peppers coming out of my ears. I take my bell peppers and I freeze them in freezer bags. I usually cut them in half so I can remove the seeds and stem. These are great for use in the winter time. They also really save money because peppers are expensive at the store. This weekend I pulled up all of our onions. Michael hung them in the basement to dry for later use. I picked a few more cucumbers, but I am thinking that they are done now. Our eggplants have made little eggplants. I am not for sure what to do with these, but I am sure I can fry any vegetable!! That is the southern way when you don't know what else to do!!!

grace and peace,

Weekend Production and Fun

We got so much done over the weekend in our garden area. Michael and I spent all Saturday morning in the garden. We weeded specific beds, pulled up some dead plants, picked veggies, planted peas, put netting up for the new green beans, and he even weedeated the whole garden area. We enjoyed some quiet time together to talk and just do what best friends enjoy the most...being together. After a very productive day in the garden, we took the family and spent the late afternoon and evening at the lake. We had been invited to an end of summer pool party bash at the lake. We had so much fun. The kids all enjoyed swimming in the pool and eating way too much food. We all enjoyed the good fellowship and just some time to relax without any pressures of things needing to be done. Over the weekend, Hope and I also made some flower arrangements AND we planted all of our seeds in the shop. I can finally mark that one off of my things to do list.

Of course I have been hot and heavy into canning tomato products all weekend long. I ended up with 5 more pints and 2 quarts of tomato sauce. I should have had 5 pints of tomato relish, but I did a foolish thing. I turned the relish on to heat up so I could put it in the jars. I got sidetracked just for a minute, and I burned the entire pot of relish. This was so frustrating to me because I had spent a lot of time working on that relish. I have moved on, and I will make more today. However, I still get aggravated at myself when I think about it. My chickens did enjoy the mistake!

We are picking about 3/4 of a bushel of tomatoes every other day. They just keep coming!!! I will be canning some more whole tomatoes today as well as making more relish either today or tomorrow. Well, I guess I must get off the computer and get to work. Have a blessed day.

grace and peace,

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday Scriptrure

"He who believes in Me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water". John 7:38

Friday, August 17, 2007

A Few Other "This and Thats"

I had meant to share in my post yesterday that we finally found our coon that was eating our cantaloupes. This animal was much larger than I had anticipated, and I was horrified to see it eating our cantaloupes in person. This "coon" turned out to be our English Mastiff house dog!!!! As you can well imagine, my husband was not very happy. We are being much more diligent to keep an eye on her when she is near the bed of watermelons and cantaloupes.

Yesterday as I was watching our 10 year practice football, I was chatting with some of the other mothers. I mentioned that we had chickens that weren't laying any eggs and I was contemplating making chicken and dumplings out of them. One of the other mother's said that her chickens weren't laying either, and she believed it was due to the heat. I decided to put a hold on my chicken and dumplings idea...for now. Our family sure has missed the fresh eggs. They make baked products so much nicer. Our children complain whenever store bought eggs are put on the table for breakfast. They just don't taste as good. Often times to cover up the fact that the store bought eggs are pale and tasteless, I sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on the eggs before serving. It helps, but the kids still aren't fooled.

I am once again canning tomato sauce today. I picked well over a half a bushel basket of more tomatoes today. There are many more on the vines almost ready for the picking. Our cucumbers are on their last leg now. I could pull those plants up and feed them to the chickens. I am thankful that I have canned all the pickles that I will need for the next year. However, I will miss the fresh cucumbers in our salads. We also enjoy fresh cucumbers sliced and dipped in ranch dressing. It makes a tasty afternoon snack.

Our neighbor shared his abundance of okra with us last night. I was thrilled because our okra plants got a late start this year. We haven't cut any okra yet, but our plants are pretty. Okra happens to be one of the few vegetables that my kids ALL love. I can never make enough fried okra to satisfy everyone. I also use it in my Gumbo, and we love it that way as well.

It is still blazing hot here in Tn. Our high school postponed the football practice last night until 8:00pm due to the heat. I am ready for a bit of a cool down and more rain would also be a good thing around here.

And yes, it is football season once again. Our three oldest boys are all playing football again this year. The pictures are all from last football season. I had them all put on their jerseys so I could take pictures. I had wanted them to all get their full uniforms on, but no one wanted to play my picture game! Even the little guy jumped into the action! Due to their ages, they all 3 play on separate teams. This will be the last year for this problem. Next year our two older boys will both be in high school and will play together. Up until last year I never thought about our kids getting hurt playing sports. I am not naive, but I just never thought about it happening to our kids. Last year it did happen to our oldest son. He endured a severe broken arm, an ambulance ride, a night in the hospital, and surgery. Now I am so on pins and needles when they each play this sport. Our oldest had a HARD hit recently in a scrimmage game. (If I can tell it was a hard hit, you know it was a hard hit). My stomach sank as I sat there and watch him get up and be dazed. I left shortly after that. I decided I could let his dad be there, but I wasn't feeling so well anymore. I sometimes wish our boys had taken up something a bit more friendly on the body than football. However, all three of them really love playing the game. Now their Momma has just got to get back to the place of really loving watching them play the game!

grace and peace,

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Little of This and That

This week is flying by in a hurry. It seems that I just started Monday morning, and here it is already Thursday afternoon! We have had company since Monday staying with us. Three college girls came to vacation in our beautiful area of Tennessee. They stayed at our home during the night while going out to find fun things to do during the day. Our daughter was in hog heaven because it has been a week filled with girly activities. We enjoyed their stay, and we are praying for their safe return back home. Last night Michael and I went out for a church meeting. We came back home late, and we were delighted to find that all the girls pitched in and cleaned the house. It was like I had hired a maid. That was a wonderful surprise for me, and it has made today go much nicer.

I am still in the midst of canning tomato sauce. I believe I will be at this activity for the next week or so. I don't mind doing it, and I sure enjoy watching our pantry fill up with the work of our hands!

I am also planting fall seeds this week. I will be planting broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and more lettuce plants in the shop. I will be sowing peas in the garden. We still have some beds to clean out to make room, but the things in those beds aren't quite ready to be cleared out yet. They are still producing some, and I want to enjoy the harvest for as long as I can.

We did go to the fair last weekend. Michael and I met up with the local "Bee Lady". We were able to have a lengthy conversation with her. She has over 70 hives now, and she said that she has only extracted about 25% of her usual honey crop this year. Our late freeze was the first big problem for the honey production, and then our drought has added more problems. We still have about a gallon of last year's honey so I am hoping that our bees make enough to get us through until next year. The Bee Lady also gave me a sample of Sour wood Honey. I thought I hated sour wood honey, but turns out that the honey I don't like isn't sour wood. Sour wood Honey is very light in color...almost a clear yellow color. I had never seen it before. It had a very delicate flavor, and I liked it after all. She was able to transport her bees up to the mountains when the sour wood trees were in bloom, and she had a wonderful batch of honey to show for her efforts.

I still have many things to put my hands to this afternoon. I must get out of this chair and go get busy!!!
grace and peace,

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

How Many Tomatoes Does It Take????

We have 2 and a half large beds of tomatoes. I was sure I had planted plenty of tomatoes. I ended up filling this half bed of cucumbers with extra tomato plants. I picked a little over a half bushel of tomatoes yesterday. I began the process of making sauce. Keep in mind most of my Roma tomatoes aren't quite ripe yet so I used some Romas, Rutgers, and a variety of other tomatoes. I expected at least 4 quarts of tomato sauce in the end. Can you guess how many pints I got???? I finished with 3 PINTS of tomato sauce. Yes, folks 1/2 bushel of tomatoes yielded 3 PINTS of tomato sauce. I was bemoaning my yield to TnFarmGirl. She agreed with my complaint, and she added that she was amazed that a bottle of ketchup didn't cost $20! I will continue the process of making tomato sauce because I love the end result. I use the tomato sauce on my homemade pizza, and there is no comparison with pizza sauce made from store bought tomato sauce. It is well worth the trouble and the large amount of tomato consumption.
grace and peace,

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sunday Scripture

"I will lift up my eyes to the hills- from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth."

Psalm 121:1-2

Saturday Happenings

I have many things on my agenda today. Garden and yard clean up are at the top of my priority list. The only problem with this besides the heat is that I have to convince 6 other people in our household that these are the priorities for the day. I know my husband will be in agreement, but I am still unsure of the little people!
I seem to always carve out time on my Saturdays to play in the flowers. I posted one of my favorite pictures of our daughter that was taken several years ago. I caught her in a group of weeds. She was picking Queen Anne's Lace and making bouquets. (She is a girl after my own heart)! I have 3 flower arrangements that have to be redone today. I may stop by a craft store while I am in town today and pick up some foam for cut flowers. This way I can make a different kind of arrangement. I haven't done any of those types this year. I can guarantee that Hope will be right along side helping me.
I was informed last night that we will be attending the county fair this evening. I love the fair, but it is blazing hot here right now. I enjoy the fair when the evenings are a bit cooler. However, there is a strong man contest tonight that my husband and children want to watch. A good friend of ours puts this event on every year. If I get any great pictures, I will post them.
I don't think I have anything to can today. I may even put my canner back in the laundry room for a few days. During the major part of the canning season, my canner is a permanent fixture on our stove. It isn't the pretties item, but it sure is functional~I canned 7 pints of Salsa yesterday.
I best get off the computer and get started with this beautiful day that God has made. Hope you enjoy your Saturday wherever God has planted you.
grace and peace,

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Bees...A Love/Hate Relationship

Michael checked the bees today to see how they were coming along with honey production. The one hive has put up plenty of honey to get them through the winter. The other hive has also put up honey stores for the winter, but they have added to the supers for our use. However, they have not capped the honey yet so this means that it still isn't ready for us to take. The bees will not cap the honey until the humidity level is correct. Michael said we will probably get honey somewhere between the end of August and the middle of September.
I have a love/hate relationship with bees. I love the honey, but I am not happy with the bees themselves. Every time I go close to the hive, I get stung. The little critters even stung me in the middle of winter one year. I can't tell you how many times I have had bees get lost in my hair. Michael, man with NO hair, says just stand still and they will fly out in a bit. (Yea, right. Like a bee has ever got lost in his hair)! Well it happened to me again this evening. I waited until Michael had checked the hives. He had put everything back together, and he was headed back to the house. I met him on the road. I was keeping my distance that it why I chose to stand in the middle of the road. He came over to give me a status report of the honey situation. As we were chatting, a neighbor drove by and stopped to talk. Right in the middle of the conversation while I am still standing in the middle of the road, a bee flew into my hair and got lost. I was doing a jig in the middle of the road trying my best not to get stung. The whole time MR. NO Hair himself was laughing at me and reminding me that I probably should be mindful of cars. I figured cars would just stop and wait for my dance of the bees to come to an end. Finally I did catch the little critter, and I smashed it dead in between the strands of my hair so I wouldn't get stung. I won!!! I think that is the first time I have ever managed to get a bee out of my hair dead or alive without being stung!!! I decided next time I would just wait for him to come into our home and give me a status report without the extra excitement of the bees. I believe the hairspray I use must attract the bees to my hair. I just know that there is always at least one bee trying to get in my hair.
The second picture is of a bee swarm we had several years ago. I thought it was such a great picture. I truly find them fascinating when they swarm. It is an awesome sight to behold. Maybe on another occasion I can relay how to properly move a hive of bees if you have to relocate. Let's just say it was a night to remember, and I wasn't very happy. Mr. NO Hair seemed to get along alright. I abandoned my post and ran back into the house screaming at the top of my lungs in the middle of the night!! I am happy to say that it took us a second try to move the hives, but I held my ground and stayed at my position. Again I wasn't happy, but I made it to the end...praying ALL the time.
grace and peace,

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Tomato Relish Recipe

This is my favorite relish recipe in the world. I love to have dried beans and a heaping spoon full of tomato relish. Dried beans have always been one of my favorite foods since I can remember. Unfortunately my children did not inherit my love of dried beans. They eat them because I make them, but it doesn't come with much joy. I will be canning some Tomato Relish in the next day or two because we have an excess of tomatoes and peppers. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

Tomato Relish
1 gallon ripe tomatoes, peeled, chopped, and drained
1 bunch of celery, chopped fine
7 large onions, chopped fine
6 sweet green bell peppers, chopped fine
4 banana peppers, chopped fine
2 hot green peppers, chopped fine

1 1/2 pints apple cider vinegar
4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all together and cook over slow heat until thick. This takes about 3 1/2-4 hours. Be sure to stir often to keep from burning. Put in hot pint jars and seal. Process in water bath for 15 minutes.

grace and peace,

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A Thief in the Night

I went yesterday to pick in our garden. I took a couple of the boys to help me because it was blazing hot outside. My main motto in our home is "many hands make light work". I have been eagerly waiting the arrival of our cantaloupe. W got the cantaloupe and watermelon planted a little late this year because we needed to build the bed to plant them into. I have been watching the cantaloupe knowing that one would be ripe very soon. When I saw the bed, it appeared that something had been in the bed. I thought of our dog or our 3 year old. However, neither of them really bother the garden. Then I saw the remains of my first ripe cantaloupe, and I knew it wasn't any of the children or the dog. More than likely it was a coon enjoying the fruit of our bounty....the labor of our hands. I was not happy, and I am a bit unsure as to how we are going to keep this little thief away from the rest of our cantaloupes and watermelon. We always have trouble with the coons getting into our trash as well as our feed storage. We keep the feed in large trash cans lined up in the barn. As long as we keep the feed storage full, we are in good shape. The coon cannot tip the can over because it is too heavy. We still see his paw prints from trying. However, if the feed cans get too low then the coon can push the can over which allows the top to pop off, and he then has a meal or two. He does the same thing with our trash cans of garbage. It can be quite annoying.
I do not plan to do any canning today. I canned 7 more quarts of tomatoes yesterday. That brings us up to 34 quarts of tomatoes. The two other beds of tomatoes are still not ripe yet. I know they should be in the next week. I would have thought that they would already have turned, but we are still waiting and watching which is fine with me for now.
grace and peace,

Monday, August 06, 2007

August Struggles...

I always struggle with the month of August as a gardener. It is a very productive month in the garden. Many items are still ripening, and there are always many chores left to do to finish the season. Somehow in my mind I have always viewed August as the end of summer. School starts back during this month. Along with that comes football practice and football games. I mentally get ready to start winding down my summer activities. However, the garden still has much left to give, and I still have much left to do. I also find August hard because the plants that have been so pretty all summer long are starting to look worn and weary. My tomato plants are just down right ugly although they are still producing. I struggle with wanting everything in my garden picture perfect so I get frustrated when I see such an ugly bed of plants. I want to till up the whole ugly bed, but I know I will still get tomatoes from those plants. I have to use restraint. My zinnias are the same way. The flowers are still beautiful, but the plants look horrid.
I am not the only person who sees August as the end of summer. I opened my email this morning and there was an invitation to an "End of Summer Bash" pool party at a friend's home. So I get caught between summertime gardening and mentally and physically preparing for fall. One of my fall preparations this week will be to start many of my seeds for fall planting back in the shop greenhouse area. I will post my schedule of plantings a little later in the week. I am excited that I am prepared to do this. Every year I have always intended to raise our own plants for fall, but I always get caught without ever doing that. I know we will be clearing out beds to direct seed fall peas and collard greens. I also want to get a new bed ready to plant more lettuce soon. So you see I am caught between summer gardening being in full swing here on our farm, and winding down to prepare for the fall season as well as the fall garden. I am still canning lots of tomatoes. I also have to schedule the time to plant the seeds in the shop. I just pray I remember that I have seeds/plants growing down there!!
grace and peace,

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sunday Scripture

"In His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand."

Psalm 95:4-7

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Saturday Happenings

We have been somewhat busy here on our farm and in our house today. Michael and I went out this morning and picked tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and flowers. We ended up weeding the green bean bed this past week. It looks so much better now than when this picture was taken. I have spent much of the morning canning. I canned 7 more quarts of tomatoes and 5 more quarts of Lime Pickles. I also started preparation for tonight's dinner, but I was sad to find out that we had run out of eggs from our chickens. It is hard to make many desserts without eggs, but Hope found some apple pie filling. We made an apple crisp that smells delicious. It will be the perfect ending to a fried chicken meal. I have also spent much of today cleaning house. There is still so many things left to do, but at least I am farther along than I was this morning when I started.
I enjoy Saturdays like today. There isn't anything pressing and we do not have anywhere we have to be tonight. It is a day for enjoying the beauty all around us and also for enjoying all the things that God has given to us. We are blessed.
grace and peace,

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Confessions of a Humbled Mother

I had mentioned a couple of weeks ago that our family had spent a weekend clearing our back pasture. As Paul Harvey would say....Here's the rest of the story.

Several days before we worked in the pasture, I had met up with Tnfarmgirl (her blog link is in our sidebar). I purchased a bar of Chocolate Ice Soap, (that soap was soooo good it deserves its own blog post), healing salve, and poison ivy salve. I felt armed and ready for whatever may come our way. That weekend we headed off to the pasture. As we were headed out there, I thought I am sure one of our kids will get poison ivy from this and I will get to try out that new salve. You see I am actually the skeptical customer that Tnfarmgirl refers too. I am always amazed when natural things work. I have actually called her on the phone and said, "You aren't going to believe this but such and such REALLY worked"! So when I realized that my children would be coming into contact with poison ivy, I was actually excited. This was going to be a great experiment for me. I am not allergic to poison ivy so I couldn't try it out on myself, and I was willing to let those darling little ones be my Guinea pigs. By Monday morning, I noticed my neck was itching. By Monday afternoon, my whole body was itching. I had a major case of poison ivy for the first time in my whole life. (God does have a sense of humor)! I quickly put the poison ivy salve on my spots. I was surprised at how much it helped control the itching. I used it frequently, and I noticed that the patches did not spread. I had a large patch on my right cheek and right side of my nose. I was faithful to use the salve on my face, and it helped the itching so much. It had a cooling effect on my face. However, one morning my daughter and I were headed out for a girls' day, and I decided not to use the salve on my face. I did not use any make up that day. After we got home later that afternoon, the poison ivy had spread to the lower lid of my eye. My eye was so puffy that I could see it when I looked down. I promptly put on more of the salve. My kids were suggesting a trip to the Dr. for a steroid shot. I told them that if by the next day it wasn't better, then I would go get a steroid shot. I just wanted to avoid that if at all possible, and I already had confidence in the salve that I was using. By that evening, my face was better. The swelling under my eye had gone down. I was very thankful to avoid a trip to the Dr.
My experiment worked. The poison ivy salve did a much better job than the pink calamine lotion that our family had always used in the past. It controlled the itching, and it helped the patches not grow larger. It wasn't a miracle cure to make poison ivy be gone in 3o minutes or less, but I believe without a doubt it was the reason that I was able to avoid a steroid shot. Plus it helped keep the itching under control. When the itching started, I would go use the salve, and I felt so much better. My medicine cabinet will be well stocked with this salve from this day forward.

My children did get a small amount of poison ivy, but it was nothing like they usually get. I had to ask forgiveness from them for all the times in the past I told them "Just don't scratch and it will feel better soon". That is like saying "Just don't breath, and you will feel all better soon".

And now you know the REST of the story......

grace and peace,

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Tomato Basil Salad and Jacob's Favorite Salad

We had a great time with my brother and his family. I cooked so much over the last few days, and I enjoyed it very much. We grilled most of our evening meals, and we topped off every main meal with a new dessert. My kids were in hog heaven, and truth be told so was I!! I had an abundance of tomatoes and basil from the garden. My mom had reminded me of a "salad" that my brother really liked using both of those ingredients. I will include the recipe in this post. That particular evening I made Fettuccine Alfredo, Tomato Basil Salad, Jacob's Favorite Salad, Grilled Chicken, Garlic Bread, and Banana Pudding for dessert. You may be wondering why I would have 2 different salads in the same meal. With 10 different people eating, I never know for sure what everybody likes. I often times offer 2 salads when we have company. That way they hopefully can choose something they like. I usually do not serve meat whenever I make Fettuccine Alfredo, but again I wasn't for sure how a meatless meal would be received with my brother's family so I opted for Grilled Chicken. Hope you enjoy the following recipes.

Tomato Basil Salad
Layer a shallow serving dish with romaine lettuce to make a bed for the tomatoes. Slice garden fresh tomatoes fairly thickly. Make a layer of tomatoes on the lettuce bed. Sprinkle fresh thyme and fresh basil over the tomatoes. Sprinkle some dried Italian seasoning and Kosher salt over the tomatoes. Sprinkle slivers of red onion and Regiano Parmesan cheese. Drizzle good olive oil over the tomatoes sparingly. Repeat layers of tomatoes and spices olive oil, onions, and cheese. Make as many layers as needed. I usually just have 2 layers for our family. Regiano Parmesan cheese is the cheese that has to be graded by hand. This is not the type of cheese that comes in a can!

Jacob's Favorite Salad
2 Bunches Romaine Lettuce torn
1 cup Shredded Swiss Cheese
2/3 cups slivered almonds toasted
8 Bacon strips cooked and crumbled
1 cup Croutons

3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Mix dressing in a mason jar. Cover and Shake well. Chill. Right before serving add all salad ingredients in a bowl and toss. Shake dressing and pour over salad. Serve immediately.

I always make my croutons from sourdough bread. I cut day old bread into cubes. Place on cookie sheet drizzle with olive oil. I sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt, and herbs. Place them under the broiler until brown. Flip them over and toast the other side. This takes only a few minutes.

grace and peace,