Monday, September 26, 2011

Freezer Camp

New Leghorns & Mallard 9/25
Today is the day...sad day!

Duck Stew (younger drake) and Hen, and 8 of our older layers (including our 1st Buffy) are all going to freezer camp.  We are very solemn about this (despite how we describe it) as we know these wonderful birds will feed us this winter.  They have been loved (mostly) and we hate to see them go.

We also picked up from really inexpensive roos and hens from a lady about 20 minutes away, yesterday.  They are white leghorns (white layers).  The roos will also go to camp, and the hens will go into the flock.  She also gave us a cute mallard cross.  That brings the duck breed count up to 3.  I need to update the sidebar count. 
Boy & Mal

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sweet and Savory Yellow Tomato & Basil Jam

makes 3-5 pints

4 pounds yellow tomatoes
3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup roughly chopped basil

Cut cherry yellow tomatoes in half, or, if using larger yellow tomatoes, chop them into smallish pieces.  I actually boiled my cherry tomatoes and put them through the food mill to get the skins off.  I also blanched and peeled the tomatoes.  You can leave them on if you prefer.  I also used a few of my "hillbilly Mr. Stripey" tomatoes, so I have a few spots of red in my jam.
Yellow Cherry Tomatoes (Sun Gold & Pear)
Yes, I should have wiped the counter before taking the picture...but I'm all about keeping it real!

 Combine chopped tomatoes with sugar in a large, non-reactive pot and stir. Let sit for at least one hour, or until the tomatoes release their juice.

When ready to cook, prep canning pot and jars and place jam pot over high heat. Add lemon juice and bring to a boil.

Cook at a boil for 40-45 minutes, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes have softened and the syrup has gotten thick.  Because I used cherry tomatoes, I had a bit more water and had to cook for about an hour and then it still was somewhat runny.  Once you’re satisfied with the set, remove the pot from the heat and stir in  chopped basil.
You should pick the basil, wash, and tear it up (or cut it) BEFORE you get to this part of the recipe!

Pour jam into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings. Process jars in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
Use caution, as you can see from the steam, it is hot...and if you are multitasking and, say, talking on the phone at the same time.....I'm just saying!

When time is up, remove jars from pot and let them cool on a kitchen towel. When jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and test seals. Place any unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use promptly. All sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

Aren't they lovely?  And the other red tomatoes I canned today as a backdrop.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kitty Love....

So if you've been reading with us for awhile, you know that both of our guys are allergic to cats.  You may also remember that we ended up with two kittens dumped on our road that we took in.
Tim is also camera shy!
Well,  both are doing very well.  Tim is truly a barn cat.  He is not one to be petted or loved on.  He will get within a few feet of you, but that's about it.  He does come out when I call, but doesn't "come".
Tom, however, is quite the ham!
Now, Tom on the other hand is my little love.  He comes when we call.  Is frequently (now) found sleeping on the chair on the porch.  Follows me around in the garden and wants to be petted and loved.

Both of the cats are used to hunting, but also seem to enjoy the vegetables that I bring out for the chickens.  Both eat tomatoes, and chicken food.  They have left all the babies (chicken, duck, guinea) alone.  And since Tom has started coming up to the house...we haven't seen any mice in almost 2 months!  These are GOOD cats.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fall is in the air...

I didn't do as well as I wanted with the recipes for the lacto-fermenting.  But since so many have been purchasing them and coming here for recipes, my goal will be to post a new recipe....every week, let's say.  I like to try them before I put them up, so we don't again end up with the ickiness that was the green cherry tomatoes.  Someone actually did it successfully, so I might have to try it again.

In all the work/excitement of doing the farmer's market every weekend and getting lots of crops in and canned, I haven't been blogging the homestead happenings as much.  I have heard from you that this is not a good I will try to get caught back up and let y'all know what's been happening here.

We've had a lot of babies hatched in the past few week.  We've had ducks hatching most of the summer, but the mama's were walking them all over the 2 acres that they free-range on, and I think they would get worn out and then we'd "lose" them.  However...out of the last clutch of 11, we've had 2 survive and thrive.  They are about 6 weeks old now and doing pretty well. 

We also had baby chicks hatch in the Asparagus bed about 6 weeks ago.  We had 4 hatch, and lost 1 to the water trough.  The three that are left are a really good size now.  Two look like golden comets, and the other like a barred rock.  Then about 2 weeks ago, we had 3 hatch out of a clutch that was being sat on in the nest boxes.  Those three look like golf balls still, but two are a golden color and the third is white with brown  and looks like the mama Americauna that hatched them.

Our two female guineas sat on a nest that they laid in the middle of the zucchini patch.  They had 30 eggs altogether.  I wasn't sure if we even had a male guinea (I do!).  We had 6 of them hatch.  We've lost 2 in the past two days...I think for the same reason as the ducklings.  She has them all over the yard.  They are growing quickly, so hopefully we won't lose anymore.

Both of the female rabbits "missed" this time as we should be getting bunnies (a week ago).  I'll let that go for a few more days and then try them again.  We have one female rabbit that has been loose in the yard most of the month.  We see her on almost a daily basis and she stays near the front of the barn (or in the grain barn breezeway), but haven't been able to catch her.

We added a new grown turkey hen about 2 weeks ago, so Thanksgiving now has a girlfriend/wife.  She is a Bourbon Red turkey and her name is Reba.  With Reba, we also received two Runner ducks.  Runners are funny to see because they are not down low like regular ducks.  They "stand" upright.  Boy has named them Trot and Sprint.

With Fall coming on, there are still lots to do around the homestead.

  • We need to get the chicken coop ready for winter.  This involves (hopefully) putting up a new back wall.  Putting plastic up over the windows.  Pulling out all the old 'dirt' and putting fresh sawdust in.  Putting straw along the walls to help insulate it from the cold.  I would also like to put up a better fence to keep them near the coop, rather than on the porch.
  • Still harvesting and putting up the tomatoes for the winter.  Replanting the few cuttings that do not have blight so maybe I can keep them going in the pump house for a few more months.
  • Digging the potatoes.  I think that's still about a month away.
  • I replanted green beans in July, so those are just starting to come on.  They are a big seller at the farmer's market....and we love them too.
  • Shoring up the big barn to try to keep it warmer this winter.
  • The landlady says they will be coming to put new insulation and siding on the farm house.
  • We still have farmer's market until the second Saturday in October.
  • Looking for further streams of income as my short term disablity has ended and we're not sure what is going to happen next.  I am still only able to do things for short periods of times and then have to rest.  My seizures are somewhat under control with medication, but the medication makes me a bit of a zombie.  (OK, so I was already an airhead before...this is not a long trip.:) )
  • Fall cleaning to get things ready to be stuck in the house for the winter.
I'm sure there's a bunch more...but typing this has made me realize...I must go get busy!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I don't recommend...

The recipe for the pickled green cherry tomatoes.  Usually, I try the recipe before putting it up, that way the ones that are 'duds' don't get passed on. 

I really, really didn't like all!  Now you might try it and get a better batch, but I'm not even sure I'm going to take the time to do it again to see if maybe it was just a bad batch.

Enough said.

What recipes are you trying?