Saturday, November 24, 2007

Photobucket album

Click on the quilt pic to go to photobucket and look at several of my projects.

Photobucket Album

Another quilt - November 2007

I got this one finished when the weather started changing here in Texas. We went from 82 degrees to 47 degrees in short order, with 20 to 30 mph winds. A good day for putting the binding on a quilt!

The original quilt was in an advertisement in one of the quilting magazines. I emailed the company and asked for the pattern. They referred me to an old quilt magazine that I didn't have, so I had to design a paper pattern for myself. I think it turned out pretty well.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

One of those really good days

Today was one of those days that started with no particular purpose. I knew Lonnie wanted to do some canning, and there were a couple of small projects looming.
Breakfast was French Toast with homemade peach spread that Lonnie made while I was back in Texas. He used a combination of fresh and frozen peaches. The frozen peaches were Georgia peaches that we had put up last summer. He added no sugar to the mixture as he cooked it down, just a few spices. It was absolutely fantastic. Creamy, mildly sweet, and intensely peach flavored.
I milked the goat, did some laundry, stirred up a batch of sourdough starter, tidied my room and the living room, and headed outside to spray Round Up on the fence lines and around the trees to make mowing easier. Kathleen washed jars for the canning project, vacuumed the house, and dusted. Lonnie mowed and weed-eated the goat pasture. Goats are not much for grazing, and the grass gets tall if you don't keep it mowed. We need a miniature horse or donkey to eat the vegetation that the goats ignore.
The goat milk had been accumulating, so I started a gallon batch of cheese. It's a rather extended project, requiring slow heating of the milk, innoculation with the culture, addition of the rennet to make the curds, then stirring and heating and draining and salting and pressing. This part of the process takes several hours, and then the cheese curds are placed in the press under certain amounts of weight for varying times. I find the process very interesting and challenging.
Lunch was leftovers. Pork roast, roasted onions, veggie goulash that I had made the other day with home grown veggies and basil from the herb garden.
After lunch, I got the cheese into the press, and Lonnie got the kitchen set up for jelly production. We made cherry jelly, mixed fruit jelly (blackberry, strawberry, gooseberry, peach), and one batch of mixed fruit with jalepeno jelly. The flavor is exquisite!
Supper is going to be homemade from-scratch pepperoni and Italian sausage pizza.

Monday, July 02, 2007

My homemade cheese press

I used the directions from Fiasco Farm to make a cheese press today.

I had a piece of leftover kitchen counter top from when we built our house in 1979, cut it in half, rounded the edges, drilled the holes, cut the dowels, and put the 'feet' on. I made the mold from PVC pipe. I drilled holes in the PVC at the bottom edge and at 2 " intervals up the sides. For the follower, I am using a PVC fitting that was a hair too big to go in the pipe/mold by using my belt sander to sand down the edge 1/8 of an inch so that it fits inside. I cut a circle of plexiglass to put under the follower to make a smooth top on the cheese.

I will have to come up with a spacer to put between the follower and the top board, and I'll have to find my son's old free weights for pressure.

The only things I bought were the pipe, fitting, dowels, screws, and washers. All together less than $10.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Suburban Life vs. Homesteading

Speaking from the point of view of a former resident of a Sugarland, Texas, subdivision, I can attest to the fact that homesteading is a continuum that ebbs and flows. That may be a mixed metaphor, but you'll see what I mean.

We started in that subdivision with a garden and a subscription to the (old) Mother Earth News. Our goals were to move to the country and grow our own food, both veggies and critters. Our sons were small when we made the move to rural south Texas, and we did all those things. Rabbits, chickens, horses, cattle, huge garden, baking our own bread, canning pickles and jelly. The whole nine yards.

Then the kids grew up and moved away. Suddenly there is no need for all that food.

Then, family situations changed. Our parents became ill and later passed on. Our job responsibilities changed dramatically. The need to travel to take care of family became a priority. We still live in the country, but we no longer garden here. We have a remote country place in southern Missouri, and we garden and keep goats with the neighbors so that someone is there to look after things we no longer can.

My thoughts on homesteading over the years have changed, simply because my life situation has changed. Will I get to go back to being the farm lady / homestead woman again full time? Who knows? I have given up on fortelling the future.

In Between Rain Showers

It is now POURING down rain here at the 3 Bar A Land
and Cattle Company. Sigh.

The good news is that I got the yards (front, back,
dog) at our house mowed yesterday, the Kubena house
(my office) mowed, and Dan's citrus orchard mowed
yesterday. Finished up the yard at the Cottage (rent
house out farther on 1157) about 10 minutes ago.

This morning I sprayed Round Up on fence lines and
around trees for two hours, and I don't know if it
was on long enough before the rain started.

I spent an hour or so cleaning up a wood scrap pile
at the cottage. We had to have it treated for
termites and a bunch of repair work done on the back
wall. We are burning the scraps and tree trimmings
down there. I had a pretty good fire going earlier.
Dunno if this rain will put it out or not.

The renter at Uncle Louis and Aunt Mary's house
(brick one on the left as you go back to town) has a
step son (age 22) temporarily living with her, and he
did some clean up at the cottage yesterday. Today he
was supposed to come back and take the skirting off
my office because it's keep the moisture under the
house, but he hasn't showed up yet. With the rain,
he may have missed the opportunity to work today.

Other than that, I put poison out on fire ant hills
and sprayed the yellow jacket nests under the eaves
around the house.

There's now water standing in the yard. Hmmmm. I
think yard work is over for today. I'm going to take
a shower and go across the street to my office/craft
studio and sew!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Learning From Goats

These first few months with goats have been enlightening. In my family, goat prejudice ran rampant, and the acquisition of two dwarf goats brought raised eyebrows and comments. Lately, the addition of a milking Alpine and a yearling Nubian doe have cemented my relationship with goats and the mystification of my non-goat friends.

Here's a few things we've learned:

1. Goats prove that multi-tasking causes diminished results.
When we got the new milking Alpine, Orange, we set up our milking station under a car port for protection from rain. However, dear Orange was so busy watching our variety pack of dogs, taking in the new surroundings, and wondering who was coming up the driveway that eating her grain ration and producing milk became low items on her priority list.
Cleaning out a small building to be the new milk house enabled Orange to focus on what was important. Her view from the milking stand is now a nice plywood wall and a small view of the pasture out the window. Milking became less stressful with fewer distractions, and she is able to eat in peace, let her milk down, and give us a full bucket.

2. Goats understand physics.
We built a new goat milking stand for Orange with a slightly longer length than the books called for, but she refused to hop up on it at milking time. We struggled for three days, trying bribes of crackers and dried fruit, wrestling her front legs up and then boosting the back, and generally feeling like something was seriously wrong. She showed us clearly yesterday. A long goat moves much more gracefully into a long space if you approach it from the *end* instead of from the short dimension. She must have thought we were incredibly dim witted as we encouraged her to jump that long body up from the side of the milking stand where her nose would rapidly approach the side wall of the milk house, instead of simply walking to the end and hopping up with room to step forward to the grain pan.

3. Goats know to call for help in a crisis.
This evening, just as we were sitting down to supper, a chorus of goaty bleats arose from the goat yard. I could hear the two month old mini-doeling, as well as the two new goats, and a muffled dwarf-mom's voice.
The new milk house used to be a chicken house with a *very* small chicken sized door near the foundation for the hens to come and go during the day. We hadn't latched this little door, as it was (to us humans) obviously too small for our goats to get through. However, for a determined dwarf goat, it looked like an opportunity. The dwarf momma had squeezed her bulk through that little door, and she was now inside, calling for her doeling...or for rescue. The doeling was hopping around and hollering, fully aware of where mom went, but unsure of how to get there herself. The two new full size goats were standing outside calling for help because they knew a crisis was in full force, and help was required from the humans.

Goats....don't you just love them? :)

Friday, February 09, 2007

Getting Caught Up

I haven't posted since the Christmas season, so I guess I need to get things caught up and then get back into some sort of rhythm. As my life has no rhythm, that may be a challenge!

In January, I made a trip to Memphis to take Wendy the blue van so that she didn't have to drive Nathan's 3/4 ton Dodge Cummins Turbo Diesel truck. Dan has one of these, too, and driving those behemoths is a big challenge in any city. The van is much more a ladies vehicle, with lots of room for Cole's car seat, etc.

Wendy's mom, Charlotte, arrived in Memphis while I was there, so we became the Granma's-In-Residence and quickly drove our offspring crazy by trying to help and be supportive. This lead to a bit of a conflict, with Charlotte and myself yielding on as many fronts as possible so that the stress level for our kids wouldn't increase any more than Cole's situation has caused. Our distress is minor compared to theirs.

Nathan took me back to the Cabin In The Woods, finally getting to see that countryside for the first time. He especially seemed to like the pasture at the top of the hill near the hand hewn log barn, and he agrees that it's a perfect spot for a house. With a bit of careful tree removal, the view across the Ozarks would be spectacular.

The end of January saw me heading back to Texas in Minnie's car. That's Lonnie's mom, and she isn't driving just new because she's recovering from shoulder replacement surgery.

Two weeks in Texas will enable me to get caught up on some things and (hopefully) get the tax info for the corporation, trust, and our personal tax return to the accountant. Yeah, I know it's early, but it takes a load off my mind to get it done and delivered. Mom used to get extensions every year, and I never could understand that. Reduce stress....get it done!

Sooooo.........that's where I am now. It's Friday, February 9, and I have delivered the corporate return info and the trust return info already. Today's goal is the personal stuff.

If all goes well, I'll be back on the road Sunday. Cole's surgery to remove the tumor is on Tuesday, and I want to be close by for that.

Say a prayer and throw pixie dust for safe travels and successful easy surgery.