‘Tis the Season!!

I’m in hog heaven here at Beulah Land! The garden is producing more than just for the table. Not as much as I’d like yet (exactly how much is that anyway???) which means I’m not carrying in bushels of tomatoes and green beans but I am making V-8 juice today.

V8JuiceJuly2013a

The kitchen smells like heaven with the blend of tomatoes, cabbage, onions, garlic, peppers, one squash, one cucumber, celery, carrots and the kitchen sink. The last three veggies were not ours but needed for the flavoring. While the pot is simmering away I running in and out to do the laundry, dig potatoes and harvest the garlic, which has been on the list for 3 weeks now. I also took time to set up the tomato mill to smush all that goodness into juice.

V8JuiceJuly2013b

I’ll let you know how it turned out!
Debbie

 

 

 

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Reaping what We’ve Sown

Onions

The summer crops are coming on now – tomatoes, banana peppers, garlic, yellow squash, green beans and potatoes are hitting our dinner table along with the above onions.

I felt very domestic as I picked some peppers and put them in jars to share with friends. On impulse I added some onion and a garlic clove. The peppers are good but the pickled onions are fantastic! That’s on my list for next week, to pickle some onions. I can just taste them on pizza, salad and pasta salads to come.

Edgar met the Sun Oven today. I usually have it up high but the wind today forced me to put it on a patio chair at Edgar’s eye level. He’s fascinated with the smells coming out of it ….. his comment was “hummmmm, there’s a COW in there, I smell hamburger!”

EdgarMeetsSunOven1

I don’t know what answers to your prayers look like, but here’s one of mine –

Lizard22June2013

Isn’t he wonderful? I thought he was a new born/hatched snake and was ready to chop him with the hoe when I saw his legs. I’ve always wanted a lizard to eat bugs.

Life’s been busy here. Until last night I hadn’t spent time on my sewing machine for two weeks. Now I’m playing catch up on quilts for the Foster Kids. Life is settling into a routine, though. My mind and body have started to adjust to not subbing and being a full time house wife again.

I thoroughly enjoy being John’s wife and doing all the homesteading things. The only draw back to this time of year is the chiggers. Oh, let me count the ways …… I wish I could just take a bath in Chiggerex.

Being married to a computer guru I should know there’s always bugs in the program!

Debbie

 

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Juggling Life

,,,, and death.

I’ve always thought farmers/country people more easily understand and deal with death but I never fully understood why until we had farm animals and not just pets. Unfortunately, livestock brings it’s own life cycle, some of which are way too short. It’s different when death comes as an expected ending to a life, such as promotion (butchering) to the intended end to life as with meat chickens, than when death is an unexpected result such as problem kidding. Regardless, life and death come more frequently on the farm/homestead than in a city environment. Death actually becomes part of the farm/homestead life, not an event.

Chici-BanAnna kidded on Monday.  During the last two days she either couldn’t or wouldn’t lay down. I thought the babies were pushing into her lungs and making it hard for her to breath. So she spent most of her time sitting on her haunches.

ChiciHaunchesMay2013

I had been closely watching her for the last 3 weeks. Sleeping with the monitor beside me, listening in every hour or two at the most. Sleep is a luxury to me when I have a goat due to kid. The day she kidded I took a nap with the monitor turned on and in my hand. I was only asleep for an hour and I had checked her just prior to laying down. She never cried out during that time; I know, I do not sleep soundly – the scratching of a mouse in the walls will wake me from a dead sleep.

As soon as I awoke I went out to check on Chici and found a tiny black ear sticking out of her vagina. She had made no sound at all. The baby was head first, both legs back. I worked with Chici’s contractions and pushed the baby back until I could pull the legs out. Then, still working with her contractions, I helped Chici birth her first baby. Again, Chici did not cry out, just a low grunt. This baby was dead, a little doeling. The second baby was breech, with one back leg out, one in. Again, working til I could move both legs out, Chici and I birthed the second baby, live this time! Still, no crying out, just the low grunt. The third baby was normal presentation. So glad, glad, glad! as Chici was worn out although it had only been 1 1/2 hours after the whole thing started. A very intense hour and half!

May14Babies2013

The baby on the left is a doeling and the one on the right is a buckling. Both are well and thriving now.

Chici had spent her last bit of energy kidding those babies. She crashed soon after kidding was complete. She hoovered between life and death, spiking a 106 temp soon after kidding. God intervened and her temp dropped to 103.6 in 2 hours. I KNOW the Pen-G (antibiotics) I gave her did not work that fast. We’re on day 4 now and she’s so much improved but not 100% there. Still running a low temp but now eating, drinking and moving around. No sign of vaginal infection but slight diarrhea, which could be from the molasses/Nutri-drench I forced down her the first two days after kidding.

This is a good ending to a bad kidding situation. It brought sad memories of the two problem kiddings that ended very differently. Farming/homesteading has a learning curve that is very hard on the animals entrusted to us. It was what I learned from the two worst kidding problems that gave me the knowledge and confidence to help with this one. Same as prior problems have given me the knowledge and trust to lean on God during this one. God’s mercy endureth forever. Thank God!!

Our life has evolved around Chici and the babies most of the past week but we have had other adventures in our life –

An unexpected visitor came in the back door as I rushed in one day – isn’t he darling?

ToadMay2013

And 8 visitors who have come to stay (hopefully) for awhile hatched out in the barn –

BroodyHenTurkeyPoultsMay2013

We’re down to 7 of these turkey poults already. Not sure what happened to the 8th one.  John found him dead on the floor. The hen went broody on her own eggs and since no rooster had been in with her we knew that was a waste. The tom turkey kept breaking the eggs under the turkey hen so we switched the clutch to this hen. She’s done a good job!

And here’s the birthday cake we made for celebrating John’s life. I made the cake and John made the icing – a true butter icing made with 1# of butter and only 1/4 cup of sugar. Very, very rich.

BDayCAkeMay2013

And I learned a new quilting pattern from the group at Hope Quilting Bee. It’s called the Disappearing Nine Patch – google it for directions. It’s very simple and easy to do as you start with a nine patch, hence the name! This one is still on the design wall, waiting to sew the blocks together.

DisappearingNinePatchMay2013Long post but that’s what happens when we juggle life!

 

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Peas are here!

As you read from the last post, our spring weather keeps dipping into cooler temps, even with a few unwanted heavy frosts. We are tired of the covering and uncovering but the peas are loving this weather!

PeasMay2013a

Edgar eats the ones that hang out of the fence and tried to steal as many as he could while I shelled this bowl of sweet, tender green beauties. There’s just nothing as good as young peas fresh from the garden.

PeasMay2013bHoping for a long harvest so I can freeze as many as possible.

Debbie

 

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What a difference a May Makes

I probably shouldn’t even be trying to update the blog today. Our internet connection is running so slow I can feel my blood pressure rise with each minute I wait and watch that little busy circle spin. But here I am anyway so I’ll talk about the weather first.

So far this spring we’ve had two record breaking lows, one was last night where we dipped into the 30’s. The wind chill was horrible and the wind was worse than the low temps almost, 22-25 mph from the N, NW. Not conducive to tomato and pepper growing, both of which had fruit set already on them. I’m leaving everything covered til Saturday after it warms up some. The tomatoes in the grow house look OK – that’s from a small peeky-hole I have in the plastic where John put some clear tape over a rip. No idea what the ones under the tarps and buckets look like and it’s so cold and windy out I’m not chancing to look. What a contrast to other Mays where we’re wanting to turn on the A/C but too cheap to do so early in the year.

Instead I’m warm and toasty in the house quilting. I’ve started my blue and brown double nine patch that has 1″ squares on the first nine patches. The second nine patch squares are 3 1/2″.  I’d like to have a blue and brown quilt for on the couch, where Edgar lays. Will see as the quilt progresses. Here’s the start of a double nine patch on my cutting table, without the solid setting squares. It’s done in Civil War fabrics, one of my favorites.

Double9PatchMay2013

The baby goats are weaned and Ginger is giving a good amount of milk. I’m milking 2x a day for now as it takes awhile for her body to learn to give all the milk instead of holding back to feed the babies. She just started giving all yesterday and it was such a relief to me and probably to her as well. An experienced milking can tell when the udder has been milked out fully and when it’s not. The “not” is frustrating as you know there’s more but also know there’s no way to force the doe to let down the held milk.

I did two days in K in April for school STARR testing. I was pleased to see my blood pressure kept within good ranges while in the class. Now if I can just get the morning pressure to come down. We’re working on that.

Chici-BanAnna is due starting May 7, John’s birthday. She’s a first freshener so we’re watching her closely. Her udder is filling up nicely with strong attachment and middle ligament – all good signs.

We’ve been feasting on the garden goodness this spring; kohlrabi, bok-choi, spinach, Swiss Chard, kale, onions – small but tasty, now starting to fill out – green garlic, radish, asparagus, peas just popped in our mouths from the pod, lettuces, arugula, and the last of the cabbage and broccoli from winter gardens.

We are so richly blessed. I feel so overwhelmed by God’s goodness as I make mozzarella  in the morning and then put the cheese on a homemade pizza dough at night for supper. We found we like homemade baguettes, sliced longways, as pizza ‘dough’ also. If you’re hunting for a great recipe for baguettes, search the King Aurthur flour site. Look for their toasting and slicing Oatmeal bread, too. A good friend gave me a recipe for Irish soda bread I have yet to make, but I will! Today I made banana/white chocolate cookies with walnuts. Yummmmmmmmm! I had to hide them as I kept tasting them through out the morning. Never know when they might change taste so had to keep going, you know!

You all might remember I made a frog applique quilt for a friend’s newborn. Her other two children liked the quilt so much I wanted them to have ones of their own. I finally found a box to send them off and then I got a sweet thank you from Charity and David for their quilts along with this picture. Charity’s quilt has butterflies all over it and David’s has frogs, lizards and buggies! Charity, David and Jonathan, Mom and Dad have several of Beulah Land goats.

HarmanDAvidCharityQuiltsAnd here’s my sewing crew that helps me with every quilt. Don’t let Edgar fool you. He’s usually ringing the bells hanging from the back door to go out. In and out. Out and in. What else does a dog do all day long? Oh, yeah. Nap.

DogsCrowdedSewingRoom

Stay warm, what an unusual ending for a May post!
Debbie

 

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Failures

I’ve had several failures this spring. I can type out all the failures but I really don’t want to spend time there. I want to look instead at the lesson I learned from all the failures – my bright, shining revelation? I’m not Super (Farm) Woman! I found out one day at school while subbing 2nd grade and developed a dizzy headache that crossed my eyes. School nurse was not amused when my blood pressure registered 208/177. I went home to rest and think.

I’m still thinking but I do know I have to back off some things. I knew a change was coming in my life late last fall but not knowing what it was/is can raise my blood pressure. I mean, if I don’t know what the changes are how can I force them to hatch out???

So the first thing I did after my blood pressure came down to a more healthy reading was to ask for the month of April off school. I’ve been doing some fun things with friends; teaching one friend to quilt, another to make cheese, attending HOPE Quilting Bee, meeting friends for lunch one day, and finding and walking around the Whitewright Duck Pond. What a treasure that is! I’ll have to post pictures of it sometime. Until then here’s some pictures from Beulah Land –

Spring time quilt washing. The red in this quilt drew up our first humming bird – yeah! Notice the hand towel to the right of the quilt. It’s embroidered with the herb Thyme. No, I didn’t do it. A friend’s wonderful mother did a whole set for me.

QuiltonLineApril2013

Spring garden is starting to show off – new pea pods on the vines!

PeaPodApril2013

The rest of the garden is so messy I just couldn’t bear to post a picture. We’ve had to do some creative fencing (aka ugly) to keep sweet, not-so-little Edgar and the guinea out of the sprouting garden. The cat loves to sit on the other side of the fence and torment Edgar so the fence has been added to and added to and added to until it’s an eye-sore for me.

If I didn’t love Edgar so much I’d put up electric fencing around the garden but that wouldn’t keep the guinea out anyway. He’s learning. Right now he’s outside barking at the cat who is on top of a small shed on the patio. I can hear him quite clearly. (wonder why my blood pressure rises???) Labs calm down after their 2nd birthday so I only have a little bit to go after all he’s 7 months old now.

I cannot believe the sweet, little puppy in this picture is now 80 pounds and TALL enough to reach the back of the kitchen counters (ask how I know that!)

Edgar on the Fireplace       EdgarMarch2013

And the baby goats are growing like weeds also. I couldn’t catch them in one picture all together and couldn’t get Deuce in a picture at all. Imagine two of Trey (white one) and you got ’em all.

ArthurTreyApril2013  WilmaApril2013

And lastly, here’s the newest kids’ quilt I’m working on. It’s still on the design wall – not smoothly sewn together yet and several pieces set wrong even. Sorry the picture came out blurry, as most of mine do.

jacob3

til next time, resting here at Beulah Land!

Debbiee

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Busy Spring, Awaiting Spring

Spring has poked her head up over the few frosty days we’ve had but keeps pulling her head back under the sand. It’s now the end of March and we’re having two nights of hard freeze. Glad we only planted tomatoes in the grow house. According to Seed Starters Handbook, tomatoes that are exposed to cool temps for the first few weeks produce more.  We’re testing it! That and I can’t wait to put out at least some of my seedlings. These other tomatoes and 3 yellow squash are waiting til next week. I keep having to raise the grow lights on them. I’m almost out of room.

WaitingSpring

While awaiting spring garden planting, I’ve been busy making quilts. I have no idea what has spawned this quilting frenzy but I seemed almost pushed into quilting. I’d even dream of quilts. God reminded me of some fabric I’d set aside and then in a dream I saw the quilt … s. Plural. The one quilt turned into two. I have no idea who is having twins, but when they do, I’m ready.

Here’s the stack of completed quilts, which do not included the one I’m still binding or the three I have to machine quilt or the two on the design walls, or the two I need to hand quilt ….. you can see how busy, busy, busy it’s been around here!

BusySpring2

This 1930’s pinwheel quilt will be bordered with a thin purple stripe, then another row of pinwheels. I work on the squares as I do other quilts so I’ve been building them up for almost a year. No hurry on this one as it will be king sized and hand quilted. I figure a year to a year and half for this size, hand quilted.

BusySpring3

Both machines have been going, sometimes almost at the same time, it feels like! I keep the walking foot on one machine so I can easily put on binding and do any machine quilting on the smaller foster kids quilts, like the one on this design wall, without switching pressure feet.

BusySpring1

BTW, if you noticed the blog looks different – it does. I haven’t figured out how to work the new updated version (why change what works is my question???) so bear with me while I muddle through the update. And I took off the comments – I was getting way too much spam comments.

I pray we all experience Easter, a time of rebirth, and a glorious spring – SOON!

Debbie

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Finally!

We were beginning to wonder if Ginger was really, truly pregnant. If it weren’t for the nicely forming udder we may have thought something else was going on but ………………….. ta-da, finally she kidded last night. I think she was tired of me checking on her every hour or two, day and night, for the last 3 weeks. She had the first one before we could get out there, after leaving her for only an hour alone. We were trying to eat supper when we heard the baby cry over the monitor.

After having the first one alone she seemed willing to have spectator-care givers present. Here what she presented us with!

3 Bucklings and 1 doeling.

Ginger’s Babies

Wilma, named after one of my favorite teachers at Whitewright ISD – isn’t she beautiful???

Wilma 1

And smart  – she’s already in love with John!

Wilma John

This is the colorful black and brown buckskin little boy who was born last who will be named after Wilma’s husband, as soon as we find out his name!

Buck # 4

The two bucklings born in the middle of these two are Deuce (one of my favorite students at WW) and Trey. We weren’t able to get individual pictures of both of them – they were tired and ready to nurse. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, life is good with momma’s milk!

God’s blessing on you as we enjoy His many blessings here,

Debbie

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Abundantly Blessed

I think I’ve worked through a lot of the frustration from the last blog post. Some classes are harder than others and I guess I just hit a bump in the road. I had my favorite K class last week and they were learning the letter D …. D is for Dinosaur so I took in Easter Eggs stuffed with little plastic dinosaurs. While the kids were at recess Mr. & Mrs. Dinosaur left their eggs in a nest for the kids to babysit til Friday when the eggs ‘hatched out.’ I cut out green dinosaur foot prints to the nest hiding place and even called in the secretary and principal so the kids could ask if they saw Mr. and Mrs. D bring the eggs in. Mr. & Mrs. also left a note saying the kids had to behave and be quiet or the eggs wouldn’t hatch. All I had to say that day was, “Remember the eggs!” and they settled down. Best day in a long time and the kids had a blast. The wonderful teacher sent me pictures of Friday’s hatching.  I wish I could share the pictures but privacy rules are stinkers about that. Just rest assured the kids must have been good and quiet cause every egg hatched.

Yesterday I found out about a new raw milk dairy closer over near Windom, which is east of Bonham. I went out and picked up 6 gallon of RICH, RICH Jersey milk. I came home and after letting the milk settle again after the trip home I separated out the cream. This morning I was so excited to pull my churn out again! It had been way too long.

Butter

I made a new recipe from King Aurthur for baguette bread loaves. They were definitely time consuming, as the butter was, but how rewarding it was to make these again.

Baugette Bread

I would post a picture of the baked bread as it came out of the oven but we dove into so fast I didn’t take time to take a picture. Rest assured, it is delicious!! especially with the home made butter on it.

I saved some milk to make some mozzarella and ricotta tomorrow. I had hoped to make it today but we had to go out to work in the garden beds, preparing for spring planting. The peas are up nicely as is the arugula that seeded itself, spinach and kohlrabi. The newly planted broccoli plants got pecked up by birds or guinea, I’m not sure which, but I put a row cover over them. I hope it wasn’t the adult grasshoppers I saw earlier and the row cover will give them a nice warm eating area.

More seedlings are growing under the grow lights in the utility room and cabbage plants were bought to put out, just haven’t gotten it done yet. Since it dropped to 26 last night I’m kind of glad we procrastinated on them.

I wish you all the abundant blessings we have enjoyed! May your butter churn fast and smooth, may your bread rise and crust be crunchy as the center is soft and chewy! I so enjoy this life.

Debbie

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Frustrations of Life or Spring Fever?

I’m not sure which I’m experiencing but these past two weeks have thrown me into a period of retrospective mediation. Duh, that translates to being confused.  Seems like all it takes in a class of 90% great students is one real, true brat, (yes, he is a brat not just a misunderstood little boy) to make me question what in the world I’m doing subbing. Giving marks had no effect on him because he told me his mom didn’t care. The other teacher validated that – it’s always the teacher’s (sub’s) fault, not her child’s fault. Maybe if this was high school I could ignore it but I’m talking 2nd grade here and he has a younger brother I’ve seen the same behavior and response to correction.

So I come away wondering if I’m making a difference at the school at all.

Here at the homestead I’m wondering if I’m doing enough. I’ve been preparing a talk for the 4th grade during Feb Black History month on quilts made by blacks, starting prior to the Civil War with the myth of the Underground Railroad quilt block signals up to the current time with Gee’s Bend quilters.

The Underground RR quilts were suppose to be used by ‘airing out’ the quilts on the clothes line or hanging over doors or tree branches. I realized it’s been awhile since I aired out our quilts – the dust on the edges of them proved me right as I moved the quilt rack to sweep.

quilts airing out

Some how seeing those quilts on the line, their beauty and their symmetry, brought a peace to my heart. I came in and attacked my house work so heartily that I clogged up the vacuum hose 3 times, four if I count the final time. It’s sitting awaiting surgery from John. Why aren’t vacs made to clean up wood scrapes from feeding a wood burning stove??? Or dog thick dog hair? I mean THICK – this is a Dyson Animal that clogged up 3, er 4, times.

I started thinking about everything I used to do and started missing some of them so much I went out and ground some wheat for bread making.

grinding wheat

Here’s the list I came up with while contemplating homesteading –

laundry, dishwashing and body soap
shampoo – baking soda and vinegar AND homemade liquid soap / shampoo
housecleaning liquids – window spray, sink cleansers

reg and cream soups
white sauces
bread and yeast rolls

pizza dough
moz and ricotta cheese
tomato sauces
salsa
canned dried beans – pinto, ranch style, navy w/ ham, kidney for chili
fresh and dried herbs – chives, parsley, sage, rosemary, curry
teas from fresh herbs – haven’t dried herbs for teas but have dried herbs for
other uses
noodles
canned veggies from the garden
pickles
jams
relishes
freezing produce
pickled beets and eggs
flour tortilla shells
sauerkraut
butter

wine

vinegar

yogurt

kefir

jello from juices

cooked puddings

cakes, cookies, quick breads, etc.

candies and fudge

crackers and flat breads
worm beds – worms for garden and castings for fertilizer
compost
compost tea
goats for milk
rabbits for meat (ugh, didn’t like the meat but liked the poop for fertilizer
and compost)

quilts, afghans
clothing
napkins
homemade paper from scrap paper and junk mail and vegetation
paper pots for seedlings
homemade seed tape
saved seeds

There’s other things we’ve accomplished but looking back at all I do and things I used to do and still know how, helped me get through this bout of doubt.

Debbie

PS – isn’t this one pretty!?!

Falling Stars on the Line

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