Saturday, May 31, 2008

Farm Chores Worth Noting

A few days ago, we moved our chickens from one part of our fruit trees to another. We are using them to eat grubs and fertilize the area around the trees. We have to watch them closely because as the scratch for grubs in the mulch under the trees they sometimes scratch too much. They did this to one of our trees resulting in too much of the tree trunk being exposed. While we were moving them, I noticed these 3 cherries on our cherry tree. They were beautiful. Our trees are only 3 years old and they are still quite small. I quickly pulled the cherries off and popped them in my mouth. They were wonderful and I am looking forward to the time when the trees produce enough to fill our family's needs.

Just the other afternoon my kids were outside playing in the water hose sliding down the hill on a piece of plastic. One of my wet children ran into the house to tell me that somebody was sitting in the front yard waiting to talk to me. This seems to be a habit in our neck of the woods. In Kentucky when I was growing up, if I wanted to talk to a neighbor I would go to the front door and knock. I know this is a novel idea and a lot to expect from folks. Here the neighbors sit in your front yard in their car or on their 4 wheeler waiting for you to come out. My house tends to be loud and I often times don't even look out in the front yard unless my children are playing out there. Our English Mastiff doesn't even know that people are waiting probably because she is piled up in our bed asleep! I went outside wondering how long these neighbors had been sitting in my front yard in their truck. The man just wanted to let me know that our bees had swarmed and I should go do something about it. I told him I would promptly call my husband home from work because I didn't do bees!! Apparently one of our older hives hatched out an extra queen and everybody knows you can't have 2 queens together so one was booted out of the hive with her cronies. By the time Michael got home to deal with HIS bee issue, the swarm had left. Michael had the boys get the supers ready to go on the hives today. They don't do bees either so they were less than willing to don a bee suit and go put the supers on for him. With a grin, he suggested I do it. I reminded him that I helped move the bees once and that was the only time I ever intended to do ANYTHING with them. Some time today as long as the weather cooperates, he will get in the hives take a look around and add the supers for the bees to make honey.
I have been busy planting in our garden area. That is a chore I am more than willing to do! Here is one of two tables of plants that I have left to plant. I am down to needing a bed for my Rutgers Tomatoes and a bed for watermelon and cantaloupe. My cabbage and broccoli are still producing so I can't use those beds just yet. I will be forced to plant my last remaining items in our row garden if we don't get a few more beds soon. I did pick peas and till the plants under this week. I used that bed for our pepper plants so at least I got the peppers in the ground.
It is finally warming up here. We have had an unusually cool spring. I woke up to the sweetest sound last night. I heard the sound of water droplets plunking on the roof. It rained for awhile and I went to sleep thanking the Lord for sending His provision.

grace and peace,

Friday, May 30, 2008

And Now There Are 8

Yesterday saw two more lambs added to the count. We now have 4 girls and 4 boys. We are still waiting on the last 2 to give birth.
We were hoping for twins somewhere along the way, but we haven't had any as of yet. I love the ambiance that the sheep bring to our farm. Their sounds are so sweet. I have been waking up to the bleating of sheep instead of an alarm clock the last few weeks. It is a much nicer way to start my day.

grace and peace,

Thursday, May 29, 2008

How about Tea or Better yet Lunch?

I made a batch of Sourdough Bread last week. It just seemed to go well with that Strawberry Jam and a cup of coffee.

I also made Chicken Salad. I discovered just how good chicken salad is on homemade sourdough bread. I have included my Chicken Salad recipe below. It is full of chunks of chicken, toasted almonds, and grapes. This is a summertime favorite for a picnic or a baby shower. It can be served on homemade bread, croissants, or crackers. I got the recipe from a tea room in Ky. that was closing. This was their signature dish and they served it with croissants. I hope you enjoy!
Chicken Salad

7 cups cubed cooked chicken

1 cup diced celery (very small)

1 large bunch quartered seedless red grapes

1 cup toasted almonds

5 Tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cups Real Mayonnaise

Combine lemon juice, mayo, salt, ground pepper, and dried mustard. Cream until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and toss well.

This recipe makes a large batch. I have cut it in half before and it works well.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

MotherLoad Pretzles

If you want smiling faces like these...
Then make these...
First go to that dreaded grocery store because you can't grow these sweet delights in the backyard garden! Buy some large pretzel rods, a package of caramels, and a Tablespoon Evaporated Milk. You will also need to stop in the baking aisle and purchase Heath Toffee chips, Mini Chocolate Chips, and Colored Sprinkles.

Melt the caramels in a pan on medium heat. Stir to keep from scorching. Add 1 Tablespoon Evaporated Milk while melting the caramels. Cut pretzels in half lengthwise using a bread knife. (I made a small slit and then broke them in half. This worked well).

Dip the pretzels in the caramel about halfway. Roll the pretzels in the chocolate chips, heath chips, and colored sprinkles. Place on a rack to dry. (I used my cooling rack and I stuck the ends in the holes. This was great)!

Lastly, keep an eye on the little helpers. My children tried to tell me that I NEVER told them not to sample the goodies! grace and peace,


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Little Lamb How Much Do You Weigh?

We now have 6 lambs that have arrived here on our farm. We are still waiting for the last 4 lambs to be born. Thus far it has been very easy. We have had to do virtually nothing except wait to make sure all is well.

Michael keeps great records so he was eager to check the weight of the new lambs. He has caught each new baby and weighed them with the help of our little man. You see we do not have a true farm scale and we didn't want to purchase one at this time. Michael took the bathroom scale to the shop and had Seth weigh each lamb. The last one that was born weighed 9 pounds. We have 3 girls and 3 boys to date.

By the way, if you look closely at the picture Seth is wearing his Thomas the Tank snow boots. You may be wondering why he is wearing snow boots after Memorial Day. I am sure there is some fashion rule that he is violating. Well for whatever reason his snow boots are his most treasured clothing item. He has deemed them to be his work boots. Every time his daddy puts on his work boots, Seth runs to get his. We are concerned that he will be wearing them to the swimming pool!

grace and peace,

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day and Summer

Memorial Day is the beginning of summer for many people. School has finally ended and the weather is turning hot. Summer begins for me when I get all of my garden finally planted. The problem this year is I have used all of my garden beds, but I still have much garden left to plant! All 10 garden beds are full, but I still have an entire bed of peppers to plant. I still haven't planted any okra, pole beans, cantaloupe, or watermelon. I still need another bed for the rutger tomatoes that are currently setting on our deck table. I highly considered planting in our row garden. I am still thinking upon this, but my concern is the lack of water. With last year's draught, we wouldn't have had a garden if we didn't water it. This year already looks dry again. We need rain and I don't have a watering source in our row garden area. In a few days, our peas will be in and I will quickly pick and till that bed under. I have already designated that bed for the peppers.

My husband served almost a full 12 years in the United States Navy. We got married the week after he finished boot camp so I was along for his adventure. We both have learned so many things from Michael's military time. I could write a book about being a Navy wife and all the things that the Lord and the Navy taught me during that time. ( I learned the true meaning of "hurry up and wait" as well as "improvise, adapt, and overcome")! Along the way, the Lord brought many great people into our lives. The above picture shows one of those men. The man was an officer stationed on the submarine with Michael. A friendship was formed. (Michael and our oldest son Matthew ended up going on this man's first date with the woman who would later become his wife). Several years and children later, we were living in Florida and Michael received a phone call. It was this man on the other end. We had not heard from him since we left Virginia. He had called to let Michael know that he had given his heart to the Lord and Michael had a direct influence on his decision. He knew that Michael loved the Lord and he also loved me and his children. It spoke to this man's heart and he wanted Michael to know. It has been 7 years since that phone call and I finally got to meet his wife and children. Two years ago Michael received another phone call and this man explained that his wife and children were traveling from Texas to Virginia to visit family. He didn't want them to stay in a hotel because he felt it was unsafe so he was lining up Navy people along the way to let them stay with overnight. We were on the route so I was able to meet her and the 3 boys. We had such a great few days. This story is just one example of how Navy guys still count on each other even after their time of service is completed.

Memorial Day is a time to reflect upon the ultimate sacrifice that so many have given for our country and our freedom. I am grateful that they were willing to pay that price. I know full well that had it not been for the men and women who have laid down their lives to serve, our history would have been quite different. My heart is heavy this morning for the families that will wake up today without their loved ones because they have paid the ultimate price of their life serving in Iraq or Afghanistan or other wars. I knew for those years of Michael's service that he was willing to make that ultimate sacrifice. Every time that boat pulled into the pier and my husband walked off, I was overcome with such thankfulness to the Lord. There are not enough words in the English language to express the joy that was in my heart when he would walk down that pier to greet me! For many families, it is unexplainable grief as they meet their loved one with a flag draped over the coffin. My prayer today is for those families that are left with empty hands and hearts. I don't want their sacrifice to go unnoticed.
grace and peace,

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday Scripture

"Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!" Psalm 107:31

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mary Had a Little Lamb...

But The Covered Y Farm now has 5 little lambs!
We have 3 boy lambs....
And 2 girl lambs.
Aren't they just cute???
We still have 5 more sheep waiting to have their little lambs.

grace and peace,

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Agenda

To date we have four new lambs here on The Covered Y Farm! (By the way they weren't scheduled to start arriving until May 26th. When I am pregnant, I always take my due date and add at least 2 if not 3 weeks to it. That is always a more appropriate due date for me. You can imagine my shock to realize that animals can and sometimes do deliver their babies EARLY)! We have 2 ewes (girls) and 2 rams (boys). We have already sold our boy lambs to two families for meat. We will grow them for at least 6 months and then deliver them to the butcher. Michael is hoping for another boy so we have one for ourselves to butcher. (I don't know if I have it in me to eat one of them).

Today will find me in the kitchen making Strawberry Jam once again. I will make 6 more batches which should have me at a total of 36 pints of strawberry jam. If I make my kids and husband ration the jam, that should be enough to get us through until next strawberry season.

I will also be overseeing my oldest son with the tiller in the garden beds. I have 3 beds to prepare in order to plant. I NEED them to plant in. This year I am 3 beds short from last year at this time. We have donated one bed for strawberries, one bed for cabbage, and one bed for broccoli. The cabbage and broccoli are still going strong so I can't use those beds to plant in for a bit longer. I may actually plant some things out in our row garden. Michael wants me to plant pole beans around our corn stalks. His point is that they are true companion plants. The corn takes nitrogen out of the soil and green beans put it back in. (Leave it up to a chemist nuclear man to think in these terms). Now here is my practical idea....I want to plant pole beans in a straight line growing up a cattle panel. The picker (that's me) walks up a nice and tidy straight line and picks beans growing up a nice NON ITCHY cattle panel. I will let you know how we resolve this issue!

If there is time today, I would like to do some cleaning. I always like my house clean to start the weekend. I also know there is reality and sometimes reality says that there is always tomorrow to clean the house!!!
grace and peace,

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Grocery Shopping Day

Since we like to do this....
It is that time of the month again....the dreaded grocery shopping day. I learned when we first married that Michael got paid every two weeks and I needed to shop once at the beginning of the pay period. Navy pay comes on the first and fifteenth of the month so you could bet your bottom dollar that you could find me in the Navy commissary on those two days. I have carried the habit of shopping twice a month for groceries even though Navy days have come and gone. It is a system that works well for me.

To start I make out a menu for 2 weeks worth of meals. I also include many cooked breakfasts. Michael came up with the strange idea that he wants breakfast EVERY morning and unless there is sausage, biscuits, and gravy included it REALLY isn't breakfast!! (Just to let you know, I do not always comply with his strange notion). I believe one of our very first fights was about 3 months into our marriage. It was around 5:00 in the morning and I decided I just couldn't make another cooked breakfast. I grabbed a box of cereal and put a bowl on the counter for him. He walked into the kitchen and looked at me with his eyes all grumpy like and picked up the bowl. He then had the audacity to ask, "What's this...we don't have a dog"! Well I went off on how I was tired of cooking breakfast when I don't even eat it!!!! Enough said....

(back to our regularly scheduled post)

I take my menu and plan my shopping trip accordingly. I then take my kids and we head off to the store. I have our 2 older boys were they could actually grocery shop if need be. You have to watch the oldest son. He is quick to add "goodies" to his cart that aren't on the list. His goodies are always expensive. He likes cashews and peanuts and beef jerky. Our third son has made friends with the deli people. He always gets anything from the deli that we need and then he picks up the dog food and cat food. He loads his cart down with milk and orange juice and then he finds me to get his next mission. Today's grocery trip will be just with me and my daughter. She came to me yesterday and all on her own she had made a menu for a week. She included several of her favorite meals (chili dogs was top on her list). She spent some time yesterday evening pouring over Taste of Home Magazines looking for yummy recipes. She won the prize...a day of grocery shopping with just me!!! Let's just say the boys were thrilled with her win.

It takes forever and a day to put all the groceries away that we purchase. I also have to think up creative hiding spots for things that are yums that I need for recipes later in the weeks. I had been known to tuck a bag full of goodies under our bed. Then we got the English Mastiff and I had to stop that. Now anybody that owns one of these dogs knows that her whole body won't fit under the bed. My concern is that she would turn the bed upside down to get to a bag of goodies!!!

Our policy is that once an item is out (other than milk) we will not purchase it until the next major shopping trip. For example, I buy a few bags of until it is gone...and then you eat oatmeal or sausage, biscuits, and gravy. This is a major money saver.
My favorite place to shop is here...

My favorite grocery cart is this...

But since we still don't produce all of the things that we need as of yet, I still must endure the dreaded grocery shopping day. It is so funny to me and my older boys that I would rather spend 4 hours in the hot garden than 2 hours in an air conditioned grocery store. The rewards are so much tastier from the garden!!!!

grace and peace,

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Garden Plans CHANGED

I went out this morning to work in the garden. Every since we became sheep owners, I find myself counting the sheep. As I was looking at them this morning I noticed that one sheep was off by herself and she had something very white with her. Our sheep were not due until May 26th so I wasn't even thinking that there could be a lamb out there. However the more I looked I was convinced that was exactly what we had. Sure enough as I went out to the pasture there was a brand new lamb.
Here he is with his momma. Isn't he just cute as a button???
I went back to the garden and started picking cabbage and broccoli. I noticed one sheep was acting really strange. Michael was already in the pasture by this point. We could actually see her stomach contracting. I suggested he take her some ice chips... he just rolled his eyes at me.
Don't you think she looks like she would have appreciated ice chips???
Shortly there after a lamb was born. It took about 5 minutes for it to get up and moving. I was concerned that maybe there was a problem.
She did finally get up and start moving about. We were hoping for twins, but we will take a little girl baby with great joy!
Here is one happy sheep farmer. I think he picked a great day to work from the home office!! The real funny part of this whole story is Michael was bound and determined that we were going to be ahead of the game. You see, we are usually late with many things that we do...not because we are poor managers, but often times time and money are problems. This time he was going to make sure that he purchased his things that was needed for the new lambs well before they came. He had just got off the phone with Tractor Supply and he was getting ready to buy the stuff TODAY. When I came in, I told him he missed the boat again....he now was the proud owner of a baby lamb!!!
grace and peace,

Garden Plans

Yesterday Michael finally got the weather and his schedule to cooperate with his plans. He was able to go to the big garden area and use his new tractor. He borrowed the neighbor's plow so he could turn the ground. Then he hooked up the neighbor's tiller and tilled the area. (One of the neighbors used to do this for us BEFORE Michael put the bee hives in the area. Since then, that neighbor hasn't offered his services. I understand WHOLE HEARTILY)! Now he will take our small walk behind tiller and make hills to plant potatoes. We should have already done this in our area. I think early April is the time frame, but we didn't have the tractor then and it just didn't work out. I purchased Yukon Gold Potatoes and I don't want to just throw them away so we are going to give it a try. I did talk to an older farmer and he said he thought it would be fine especially this year because we have had a very cool spring. His potato plants were very small although he planted on time. This encouraged me! We are also hoping that by planting a bit later that we might avoid the dreaded potato bugs. We will also be using the Earthway seeder to plant corn in the garden area. Raised beds are great, but corn and potatoes take up a lot of space and I like those planted in rows. Here is Michael unloading the tractor the day he brought it home. One of the older kids missed him yesterday evening. They wanted to know where he went. I told him he went to his happy place. The child knew immediately that he was finally on the back of that tractor doing something!
Today I have to get back out to the raised beds and pick. I have broccoli galore to cut. I also have several heads of cabbage to cut. We have had tons of wind the last few days. This is very unusual for us in May. It has broken several of my plants. I have lost about half of our yellow squash and zucchini plants to the wind. I plan on planting a few more of those out in the row garden. I don't want to have them in the raised beds taking up space later in the summer. Something ate the half bed of Roma tomato plants that I planted the other day. I think it was the neighbor's guineas. I love the neighbor's guineas because they spend a lot of time in our yard eating bugs. I will overlook the lost plants and replant today. I still have many tomato plants left to go into the ground. As soon as it warms up a bit, I also have an entire bed of pepper plants to put out in a raised bed. It just has been cooler than usual, but I am not complaining!

grace and peace,

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Boy

There once was a boy who loved to play ball...He had brothers galore to do it all.
He laughed and he played until his eyes crossed...
His older brother was usually the boss!
He loved to hunt and shoot him some guns...He was known to be found fishing under the sun.He was a child that wasn't afraid to work...And he was always willing to hold the little squirt!Then one day the little boy grew... He turned into a fine young man that was so true.
He still had the smile that lit up the room...
And we knew that one day he would be some body's groom.
But for today we are so thankful...That he still is young and keeps our hearts and hands full!!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fun Baseball Weekend

Our son's 11 year old Marlin Baseball team had a great weekend. We won the tournament for our bracket. Here is a picture of Jacob before batting. I had posted a few weeks back about some of the reasons that we play baseball, and one of those was to help build character. Jacob had always been a great batter, but at the beginning of this season he struggled terribly. With his decreasing batting average, his attitude also plunged. We worked on his attitude along with his batting. I am happy to say that he has improved BOTH!!!
Here is the picture of Jacob hitting the walk off double that won the ball game to advance us into the championship game!

And here is a picture of his teammates waiting at home plate to celebrate his hit and their victory. It was a great weekend!!!

grace and peace,

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday Scripture

"I will lift 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, May 17, 2008

Spinach Salad Recipe

This salad may just be my new favorite. It was such a tangy sweet combination that Michael and I both really enjoyed. By the way, you may want to let children and especially teenagers know that the strawberries in this salad aren't the normal everyday flavor. Our second son took a bite out of his strawberry and literally spit it right back out with a horrible look on his face. With his nose all wrinkled up, he announced that his strawberry had vinegar on it. At first I was a bit irritated with him, but then I realized what a shock it would be if you thought you were eating a sweet dessert strawberry and instead you got a strawberry covered in salad dressing!
Spinach Salad with Strawberries
A large bowl of fresh baby spinach
Green onions sliced
Sugared almonds or pecans
Fresh Strawberries cut in halves
1/2 cup oil
2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 to 10 drops of hot sauce
Squeeze a few strawberries to add some juice to the dressing. The dressing will be a light pink color when you get enough strawberry juice in it.
Mix dressing together. I let mine set in the refrigerator for a few hours to let the flavors blend.
Sugared Almonds
melt a few tablespoons of sugar in a stainless steel pan. Stir constantly. When the sugar has melted, add enough almonds (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup) to glaze. Stir quickly just until glazed and pour directly in bowl to cool. When cooled break into pieces.
To serve the salad: Mix the spinach strawberries and green onions in a large glass bowl. Add the almonds, and pour enough of the dressing to cover the salad. Toss. Serve immediately.
grace and peace,