Sunday, July 31, 2011

What's For Dinner?

I had said previously that I was going to try to actually plan what we are going to eat for dinner during the week so as to save time and money, as well as my sanity. Uh, yeah, and now it's Sunday and well, I know what we're having tomorrow because it is my night to cook dinner for a family from my Wives in Prayer group that meets Friday mornings. She just had a baby a couple of weeks ago, and our prayer group takes turns cooking meals for new moms, deaths in the family or other circumstances. At our potluck last week her husband was disappointed that he had missed out on the twice baked potatoes that I had prepared, so I decided that I would make them along with roasted chicken and green beans for his family tomorrow. I picked up two chickens at the store so I can cook our meal at the same time.

But tonight I will try a casserole from Martha over at The Path to Frugality. It's a simple casserole with hamburger, pork and beans and biscuits. How great is that? So here is my weekly menu as it is in my head, thus far.

Sunday- Hungry Boy's Casserole
green beans

Monday- Roasted Chicken
Twice baked potatoes
Salad (we had green beans Sunday)

Tuesday- Tacos (Taco Tuesday)

Wednesday- leftover chicken
Hmmm, Cobb salad, maybe

Thursday- steaks from the freezer
fried potatoes
zucchini from the garden

Friday- home made pizza or spaghetti

Saturday- ??? leftovers???

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Public School Indoctrination

Our parental rights to raise our children with our morals, values, and beliefs are being eroded at an alarming rate. An article over at World Net Daily (WND) by Bob Unruh reveals the disturbing agendas of our liberal politicians and homosexuals. We are losing control and the social agenda is being forced on our children during school hours. History is being rewritten for California schools so that historical homosexual figures are portrayed only in a positive light. The majority of Californians object to the implementation of this controversial, objectionable, and poor public school policy. Students who object to attending homosexual assemblies that promote sexual predators such as Harvey Milk, are being ridiculed by other students. But are those students who harass their peers reprimanded? I believe not. The public school's job is not to socially brainwash children into believing that homosexuality is a normal (regular, standard, natural), alternative (choice) lifestyle.

My daughter has written papers and presented on topics such as abortion and homosexuality. In California, under SB 543, signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010, she would be forced to go to counseling without parental notification or approval.

A WND/Wenzel poll showed "An overwhelming majority of Americans say elementary school is no place to promote the homosexual lifestyle, and even among liberals there is the strong belief that such lessons should be left outside the door of the classroom, according to a new poll." 65% of respondents objected to teaching that homosexuality is a normal, alternative lifestyle.

I hope that SB48, signed recently by Gov. Jerry Brown is overturned. Parents should be alarmed at how they are losing their influence because these agendas are targeting children as young as 5. It is time that we get up and challenge this sick, twisted mission that is destroying our society. Our Judeo-Christian fiber is coming unraveled and we need to stitch it back up.

The people who show bias and hostility to Christian values display no tolerance of others with differing viewpoints. It is so ironic that they are the ones who are prejudice against someone with an opposing viewpoint. I am very weary of this agenda being crammed down our throats. First they asked for tolerance, now it is acceptance. People at jobs across America are being forced to attend "diversity" training. But just don't share your point of view if you oppose, because then you are a bigot and need more reeducation.

Read more: Americans want 'gay' lessons banished

Read more: Voters asked to stop sexual indoctrination of children

Snack Attack Cake Mix

If you ever get the craving for a snack like cake, or you have unexpected guests, this versatile recipe can be whipped up and ready for the oven before your oven is even up to temp. 30 minutes or so in the oven and 20-30 minutes for cooling and you have your craving satisfied in less than 1 hour. I like it because it's easy for my girls to make, and there are several variations. An no clean up! Just your fork that you stir the cake with since you mix everything together in the baking pan. The mix makes 3 cakes with leftover mix that can be made into a crumb topping, or you can make another batch and add that to it. I keep it in a jar with the variations attached. I got this recipe from the Women's Day magazine years ago.

I am definitely making the chocolate cake version just as soon as I get my second load of green beans into the pressure canner!

Mix in the Pan Snack Cake Mix

Basic Mix
3 C flour
2 C sugar
1 1/2 TB baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 C solid vegetable shortening

Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it resembles cornmeal. Store at room temp. Makes 6-7 Cups. Leftover mix can be used as a crumb topping or mixed with nuts to sprinkle on cake.

Directions: Heat oven to 375. Grease 8 or 9 in. square baking pan. Stir mix to remove clumps. Put dry ingredients in baking pan and stir with fork until blended, then add wet ingredients and stir until blended. Bake 25-30 min. Cool and cut into 9 squares.

Everyday Cake
Serve plain or topped with fruit, whipped cream or frosting

2 C basic mix
1/2 C milk
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
Follow above directions

Chocolate Cake

Dust with powdered sugar or top with 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips when cake comes from oven, return to oven 2 minutes until chips melt, then spread over cake.
2 C basic mix
½ C unsweetened cocoa posder
1.4 C semi sweet chocolate chips
¾ C ice water
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
Follow directions above

Orange Cake

For glaze, stir 2 TB orange juice into 1 C powdered sugar until smooth, spread over warm cake. You can probably substitute lemon zest and lemon juice for the orange for a lemon cake.
2 C basic mix
1 egg, beaten
1 TB grated orange peel stirred into ¼ C orange juice
¼ C water
Follow direction above.


Good with whipped topping
2 C basic mix
1 tsp cinnamon
11/4 tsp ginger
¼ cloves
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
¼ C milk
¼ C molasses
Follow directions above

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Beautiful Oregon Coast

We arrived back Wednesday evening from the beautiful coast of Oregon. This trip had been planned for about a year as a graduation trip for our daughter. We brought our travel trailer, and ate all our meals in with the exception of Mo's. Since we had planned for the trip and already set aside money, the trip was reasonable. We had more fun at the beach just exploring and hiking. It was great family time.

The weather was perfect, upper 60's to lower 70's with occasional foggy areas in the morning and breezy afternoon clouds. If anyone is visiting the Oregon Coast, I highly recommend purchasing the 5 day Oregon Pacific Coast Passport. It will get you in to many "fee" areas along the coast from Fort Stevens State Park up north by Astoria, to as far south as Shore Acres by Coos Bay. It cost $10 and was well worth the money. We would have been fee'd to death without that pass.

We started in Florence and enjoyed the sandy beach, dunes, and dock at South Jetty.

Crabbing was spotty for most of the people we ran across, mostly too small and female,so we decided to forgo crabbing and buy some later. We enjoyed the waterfront shops and enjoyed a delicious meal at Mo's, where we of course had to have some of the world famous clam chowder.

This is a view overlooking Cape Perpetua.

A rocky beach fun for exploring tide pools.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Newport. The were approximately 60,000 Common Murre nesting on the huge rocks for mating season but I didn't get a picture.

In Newport we toured the bay front shops on the boardwalk and looked at the fishing boats. We also enjoyed several beaches along the coast. The beach can range from very rugged and rocky with high bluffs, to long stretches of sand. It is stunning and there is always someplace along the way to stop and do some beach combing, tide pool exploration, hiking, bird and whale watching, or just to enjoy the view and sound of crashing waves.

Our last night in Newport we treated ourselves to fresh Dungeness crab and Yaquina Bay oysters.
Shelling crab and BBQing oysters for a stupendous seafood feast.

Please disregard goofy teenage expressions.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Every Homestead Needs a Tractor

If you have small acreage or a large homestead, a tractor is an invaluable and versatile tool. We have had a couple of different tractors. Over 12 years ago we had just over 20 acres and a 45 hp 2 wheel drive Massey Ferguson. It was a great little tractor, but on heavy snow years it struggled to keep up with the 5-6 ft. snow drifts, even with chains, and one year the snow drifted in so bad that we had to bring in a big cat to plow us out. We were home bound for 2 days, and it was hard to watch as cars on main roads around us hurried along as they went about their daily business, while we had to sit and wait. A tractor this size is handy for jobs such as mowing, grading driveways, and moving things with the forklift attachment. It is also useful to dig the final resting place for your farm animals. It's small size can limit the homesteader, though.

Now we have downsized by subdividing our property and we have 10 acres which still meets our needs. We own a 68 hp Kubota tractor which is 4 wheel drive with a front end loader. It handles our 1/2 mile driveway with ease in the winter. We've excavated around our shop to add a lean-to and used that dirt to build up a patio for out back. With the larger size of this tractor we are able to snowplow and do larger grading and dirt moving as needed. A tractor is handy for cleaning up around the barn, pounding fence posts, loading/unloading/lifting large and heavy objects with the fork lifts, discing up fields, cleaning out irrigation ditches. Some of the attachments you can get for your tractor include angle blades, box blades, mowers, post pounders and post hole diggers, snow blowers, discs, and plows, rototillers, fork lifts, and even backhoe attachments for small jobs.

When you are in the market to purchase a tractor for your homestead, make sure you buy one that will meet your needs and not leave you out in the cold. One of the biggest mistakes that a person can make is to buy a tractor that is too small for their purposes, or buying an off-brand that is not going to last. A larger tractor is more versatile, can handle bigger jobs, and will pay for itself in the long term.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Economy, Guns, and Soup

Economic stocks, gun stocks and soup stocks. What do these stocks all have in common? Well, how are your stocks doing in the Dow Jones? I bet you don't feel that your gun is losing value and not a tangible stock- it'll help you hit the mark. There's nothing like a good soup stock to come home to after a long day in the woods hunting for wild game to fill up that freezer. I prefer owning guns and having home made stock on hand over investing in the stock market. My tangibles are not going to go up and down in value, but will provide for me in good times and bad.

The economy, as we all know, is in the tank. With a gun, or several, I can hunt for food to feed my family. I can protect my home and my valuable supply of soup stock. If you need to get reaquainted with your guns, or if you don't own one, you should have one. Why?

If you have any animals at all, chickens, sheep, goats, or dogs, at least have a Ruger 10/22. We have personally had predator problems with owls, coyotes, skunks and bad, at-large neighborhood dogs. We have had to deal with these creatures accordingly. It is not pleasant, but a necessary aspect of dealing with life in the country. Protection of our family and livestock is paramount. A 10/22 is accurate, keeps on going, and requires little maintenance,not to mention all the accessories available like 50 round clips.

Actually, just today, as DH was attempting to make the barn more secure for our chickens in the evening hours against nocturnal creatures, our rooster

(isn't he handsome?) had to come and check out what was going on in the chicken yard.
Actually, it is a wonder that we haven't already turned the gun on him. He has become highly aggressive since we added 17 pullets to our flock on tax day. He was content with 4 hens, but now that he has a harem of 17 up and coming pullets, the chip on his shoulder has gotten the best of him, and unbeknownst to him, he may soon be on the chopping block because of his surly attitude. He and DH had 2 showdowns today, and he has become adept at avoiding DH's kicks.

Of course, a shotgun is always useful for defense in a worse case scenario, especially if your nerves get the best of you, you're apt to at least hit your mark.
They're great to have next to your bed and you don't have to be that good of an aim. They can put a duck or two on your table as well.

Guns are good for self-defense. You never know when a weirdo may show up. Small arms are good to have on your person. I personally like a .380. It is comfortable in my hand, easy to shoot, easy to carry, and packs a powerful punch. DH likes a 357 Mag because there is no doubt it will stop what you want it to.

With our economy and rising inflation, I want to know that we can feed our family and protect our tangible assets. Security in our economy and uncertain times is peace of mind in the form of home protection, a source of getting protein, and a pot of soup stock simmering on the stove.

Monday, July 18, 2011

No Work Yet

I have officially been unemployed for 1 month now. I am trying not to get discouraged but there are really very few openings in my field (education)where I live. I am acutely aware of where every penny is going and we are planning a short vacation with our travel trailer soon. I am planning on eating virtually all meals in with at least one exception of a favorite restaurant, plus someone gave my husband a $50 gift card to Red Lobster, so we may splurge there for a meal.

I have been stocking up on sales and canning everything in sight. I did not buy any summer clothes and only bought one pair of jeans this last school year. I really haven't bought any clothes, and the ones I have are starting to show wear. I think next month I will shop at thrift stores to see if I can expand my wardrobe. Hubby needs new work boots desperately, the toe is wore through. Daughters both work and are saving up for school clothes that they "need"- their word. Been keeping up on bills so far, but am looking to do away with our land line and canceling Dish. Other than those 2 I can't think of much else to cut back on. We already switched car insurance to save $90 a month. Does anyone have some other ideas? We eat at home and I do cook from scratch. I'm just trying not to get discouraged. I know He has a plan.

Menu Planning

I have been inspired by some recent blogs that I have viewed to actually plan a whole week of dinners and not just a day or two. Often, at 4 p.m. I am thinking to myself what we have leftover in the fridge, what's in the freezer and what do I feel like eating for dinner. I frequently fix what I am in the mood for. Not a very economical or well thought out strategy for getting meals on the table. So here I will share this weeks menu.

Monday- Burritos with leftover chicken from Saturday, seasoned with my Mexican Seasoning Mix

Mexican Seasoning Mix
1/2 C dried minced onion
1/3 C beef bouillon powder
1/3 C chili powder (as hot as you like)
2 TB ground cumin
1 TB crushed red pepper
1 TB dried oregeno
2-3 tsp. garlic powder
Combine in a pint jar. To use, stir in 3-4 TB of dry mix with 1/4-1/3 C water, to 1 lb. of browned and drained ground beef, chicken or pork. Simmer until liquid is absorbed. Use in tacos, burritos or on nachos.

refried beans with home-canned pinto beans
toppings- cheese, sour cream, lettuce, salsa

Tuesday- Brown Rice Lasagne from Homemaking on the Homestead

Wednesday- ??
See, only 2 days and my mind is blank

- leftover lasagne from Tuesday

- Baked potatoes
Homemade chili
Toppings- sour cream, cheese

- Leftovers from Friday

Sunday- Something with meat or fish that was on sale this week, actually, yes, I want fish. Weekly ads come out Wednesday, we'll see what's on sale.
Fish, salmon or cod
salad or green beans
rice (pilaf, maybe)

Lunches are usually leftovers, sandwiches with soup, or mac n cheese

Okay, I know it's a bit lame. But I will make this a goal of mine, to actually plan out meals that have variety, are cheap, my family will eat, and I am in the mood for:) Oh, and I am trying to cook with less wheat, so if anyone has some good gluten-free recipes they would be willing to share, I would be very thankful.

We have used up all of our homemade sausage. We will make some next month or when pork is on a good sale, or from a butcher in Sept. after the 4-H kids sell at the livestock market. We make Italian, breakfast, and Brats. I will share when we make it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Book GiveAway

Pete Smith at Patriots Against the New World Order is giving away a Reader's Digest book titled Back to Basics. Check out his giveaway and be entered by sharing a couple of your best back to basics tips. Good Luck!

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Okay, so no more sports until you drop doesn't include the basketball tournament this weekend that my youngest daughter is playing in. Single elimination, so tomorrow, if they lose their 1st game they're out of the tournament, and that just means that we can all go home early. Yeah!! She plays point, or 2 and 3. To clarify, we are not playing anymore AAU basketball, and this (non AAU) tournament was in the middle of July, and she really needed something to keep her busy and focused. Do you like how I'm trying to justify that we spent time and money on something that drains productive time and can be a huge money pit? I mean, what parent in their right mind wants to spend time and gas driving 50 minutes each way, sit on uncomfortable, back breaking bleachers, try to find something to do between games in a town you don't live in, and then do it all over again. Oh, and did I mention, we didn't pack a lunch, but since we stopped at Costco to kill some time, we ate there. I know, healthy samples to boost energy for the next game, along with high fat pizza. I guess I should mention if you aren't familiar with Costco, they are like a Sam's Club. Oh, and while we were there, there was an abandoned black kitten at the shopping carts scrounging for scraps. "Oh... mom... can we...can we...?" Yeah, right.

And today, we went back to Costco, forgot a couple of items and needed some refueling. And now there are 2 black kittens. Daughter went around to all the samples and saved them to feed the kittens. So here we are outside of Costco, daughter is on her knees at the shopping carts trying to feed the kittens. Please, don't let me bring a box tomorrow... I know I forgot to get something at Costco. First game is at 11:00. Do you think I'm hoping for a win or loss? Did I justify this tournament enough? I'm feeling like, well, sigh... we are focusing on school sports. Right?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chicken Stock

I started the makings of chicken stock on Sunday,and I am following up with my stock making method today now that it is complete. Chicken stock is a simple, basic kitchen staple that every pantry needs. And why not make you own? It is simple and you are in control of the ingredients. Homemade stock not only tastes fresh and clean, it is economical.

I start with about 4 or so pounds of chicken backs, necks and maybe wings that I have saved up in the freezer.

I put those in a big stock pot and cover with cold water by an inch or so (maybe 4 1/2-5 1/2 qts), which I then bring up to a boil. I then turn the heat down to a simmer and let it do it's thing for about 30 minutes or so. During this initial simmering time, a scum of impurities will form on the surface. Just skim it off with a skimmer several times. It looks gross, but it is just part of the process.

I quarter up a whole, unpeeled onion, a celery stalk or two, a carrot or two, and some fresh parsley if I have some. I add these to the pot along with 3-4 whole cloves, 4-5 peppercorns, 1-2 bay leaves, and a tablespoon of dried Bouquet Garni that I put in a tea ball. Next, the stock simmers over low heat for 3-5 hours. I add about 2-3 teaspoons of salt after about 2 hours of cooking.

Then, I strain out the big stuff in a colander which I have set over another pot in the sink.
The vegetable scraps go to the chickens, and the chicken can be picked clean and used in soups. I accidentally forgot and left the strainer on the sink overnight, so I had to throw away the chicken scraps.

I cover this pot with a lid and put it into the fridge for up to 5 days until I'm ready to finish making the stock. When I'm ready, the fat has solidified at the top which I skim off.

A clean pot is waiting which I have set a strainer over lined with a double layer of cheesecloth to catch all those little impurities and rather gross looking gunk that is lurking in what will soon be tasty broth.

Now that the broth is strained, I can put it up in containers and freeze it, or I can pressure can it. Today, I chose to pressure can my stock. I bring it to a boil in the clean pot, taste for salt, to which I did add about another teaspoon, and then I ladled it into jars, wiped, sealed, and put in the pressure canner. I processed for 25 min. at 15# of pressure for my altitude. I got 4 quarts and 2 pints. Yes, I know I could have just made 5 quarts, but I also like to have smaller jars on hand for smaller cooking projects. The pints processed with the quarts, so they got an extra 5 min. processing time. No damage or detriment to the product, though.

This stock is very tasty and works every time. You can add more vegetables or salt to your liking. My mother would freeze some in ice cube trays and then put in a plastic bag. Whenever she wanted to make gravy she would pull out a couple of cubes and whip some up.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sundays Alone with Mushrooms & Chicken Parts

Now that my youngest daughter also has a weekend job, along with her sister and my DH, I am home alone on Sundays. So what do I do to fill my time. Well, I go to church on Saturday afternoon, or on Sunday morning as I did today. Then to the store, and back home to conjure up something in the kitchen.

We had company last week and I cut up a chicken to BBQ. I buy whole chickens on sale for .89/lb. and cut them up myself. And I have found that deboning a chicken breast is actually super simple. I save the necks and backs in the freezer so I can make chicken stock at a later date. As I searched through the freezer for my bag of chicken parts so that I could add the neck and back to it,I found that I had 3 bags of chicken parts hogging precious freezer space. So, today, I decided to make chicken stock. I will share my method in the near future.

While I was at the store, I picked up a pound of mushrooms to dehydrate. I would have like to have gotten more, but since I am out of work, I didn't want to spend extra money. We are taking a trip to the coast in a couple of weeks, and every penny counts. But my supply of dried mushrooms is very low and I wanted to take advantage of the sale ($3.98/lb).

I love to dehydrate mushrooms because the only prep work they require is to be wiped with a rag and sliced which I do with my egg slicer for quick, uniform slices.

I bought Crimini mushrooms which I think have a richer flavor than regular button mushrooms. I slice them up, put them on the trays, and dry at 95 degrees for 2 hours and then up the temp to 135 until they are dry, about 6-8 hours total. I have my previous batch of mushrooms saved in a canning jar, but I think this time I will put them up in a small seal-a-meal bag. I just realized, that if I do that, I can't open up the jar and smell that intense mushroom aroma. Oh, well...

We rehydrate the mushrooms in hot water for about 15 minutes and use on pizza, in spaghetti sauce, or soups. Here is a recipe to make up in a pint jar to have on hand for a comforting meal. I found it in The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol Costenbader.

Mushroom Barley Soup

1/2 C dried barley
1/4 C dried mushroom slices
2 TB. dried minced onions
2 TB. dried parsley
2 TB. dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 chicken bouillon cubes

Combine all ingredients in a 1 pint canning jar and store in a dry place until needed. To use, add ingredients in jar to 1 quart of boiling water in a 2 qt. saucepan, cover and reduce heat to a simmer for about 45 minutes, until barley and mushrooms are tender. Enjoy!

We bought our dehydrator last summer and I love it. I also like to dry potatoes to use in scalloped potatoes. Plus, a couple of weeks ago, we knew we had to use up what was left of our potatoes from last year so we dried some. Actually, I did all the labor, DH was at work. They are great in soup or my favorite, scalloped or au gratin potatoes. I will keep you posted with other adventures I embark on in the world of dehydrating.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Insanity in the Good Old US of A

I read the news. I listen to the news. I watch the news. And on the internet, I can do all 3 at the same time. Consider some of the news recently.

A woman is facing jail time for planting a garden.

Our government is selling guns to Mexican drug cartels. Just a few of weeks ago, FBI agents were told to let guns go to cartels.

New Bill in House Asks Citizens to Voluntarily Pay Down Debt is an insult to the already taxed to death citizens of this country. Do they really think people are going to opt to have MORE money withheld from their paychecks?

Government mandated calorie counts don't change eating habits. Ya think? I see calorie counts on the labels of food I buy all the time. I still buy it. It took experts (I'm guessing using taxpayer dollars) to figure that one out. Sheesh!

Indoctrination of our children in public schools is shameless. I am greatly saddened by the push of the gay agenda.

These are just a sampling of some of the stories that make the regular person think about how ludicrous our country has become. Big government, more government control, and reduced liberties. I don't see an end in sight. And our government, on top of controlling our lives, are giving drug cartels an invitation to corrupt our country even further.

Jobless Rate 9.2%

I am among the newly unemployed in the most recent statistic that shows the jobless rate at 9.2%. And after only 1 month of searching for work I am already getting frustrated. We do not know what our future will hold. The US unemployment ranks 106 out of 200 countries. IN addition, The US account balance is ranked 191 out of 191. Yes, you guessed right, China, Japan and Germany are at the top with China holding much of our debt. That reminds me. China wants to build a 50 square mile self-sustaining city near Boise, ID. That creeps me out if you ask me.

But back to unemployment. It's not only people without work that are suffering. The price of everything is rising. Gas, groceries, electricity, grain, and on and on. We are slowly losing our standard of living. We are making changes in our lifestyle now.

So we planted our largest garden ever this year with over 70 potato plants which are now affected with some sort of insect. I bought 2 pounds of white beans for $2.09 yesterday and made up 4 quarts of bean soup with leftover ham, carrots, celery and onion for a cost of well under $3.00. That's .75 cents per qt. and at 4 servings with some biscuits or cornbread, that is a cheap, nutritious and filling meal. Tomorrow, I am canning up 5 qts. of black bean, corn and sausage soup, at a cost of $7.00, or $1.40 per quart (.35 cents per serving). I will be canning up a storm this summer so my family can eat this winter, even if I don't find work. I am the ant. Are you?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Potato Pests

I need your help. I have just found many insects on our potato leaves and the leaves are splotchy brown and curling up and dying. I think they are laying eggs. They are about 3/8-1/2 " long and look like an ant with wings. Can you see them in this photo?

I just sprayed a whole bottle of Sevin on the plants and we are infested! Any help is appreciated. I don't want to lose a whole crop of taters. Also, do they just affect the leaf, or the potato as well? We did not have this problem last year.

Our Garden

We have gotten off to a late start on our garden. We have had another cold and windy spring. In fact, today the winds are already picking up, 26-30 mph, and later today we are supposed to have 30-40 mph winds with gusts up to 50 mph. Notice the trees in the background acting as a windbreak.

Here is a picture of our greenhouse. This is where I decided to actually start my plants. Instead of paying upwards of $2.50 per transplant, I was able to purchase a package of seeds for the same amount along with some transplant mix, and start seeds on my own.

I started tomatoes, onions, peppers,spinach, lettuce, and cabbage in late March.Almost all the spinach bolted, and I have only 4 plants in the ground. The 2 cabbages I put in the ground a couple of weeks ago are doing great, but the others I just planted yesterday and you can see how small they are.

Romaine and broccoli are in the foreground, the small cabbage is in the middle and you can see the 2 larger cabbages in the background, underneath our potatoes.

Here are our onions spinach and Swiss chard.

DH planted the corn patch and it is doing quite well.

We planted 70 potatoes. Norkotah russets, reds, Rose Finns, and Yukon Gold. Reds are in the foreground (lower right), and the rest of the taters are to the right and background. On the left side are 14 tomato plants, cucumbers, butternut squash and 3 zucchini plants.

I also have rhubarb, strawberries, green onions, some basil, oregano, mint, dill and sweet peas in the ground. I have not gotten green beans planted! I must do that soon.I am not having luck with lettuce this year. It is tough and bitter. What am I doing wrong with the lettuce and does anyone have any suggestions? What is everyone else planting in gardens this year?

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Two years ago our neighbor decided he wanted to get some laying hens, so he ordered 24 for he and his wife. He then felt that he had gotten too many so we bought some pullets from him to expand our flock that had been decimated 2 years prior (so 4 years ago)to a predator. We had only 3 hens left so the chicks were a welcome addition to our flock.

We bought 10 from him and set them up in our barn (actually a loafing shed with an enclosed indoor area with two sections that we set up) and eagerly cared for them knowing that in about 5 1/2 months we would have fresh eggs. No more buying pale yolked eggs from the supermarket for us. Well, about 3 weeks later, I went out one morning to find that I had 1 pullet running around wildly and evidence of a creature that had gotten into the barn and dug under the partition and pulled out 9 of the pullets for a tasty meal! I was heartbroken. It is hard to lose livestock to predators. It was most likely a skunk who didn't get skunked. We call our neighbor and he took back the lone pullet to raise. When the chickens were about 3 months old, he gave us her back along with a chicken who was a he that was supposed to be a she. So now I had 4 layers and a soon to be rooster.

Fast forward to 2011. Our neighbor was very generous supplying us with eggs last summer, but then his hens went on hiatus so it was back to store bought eggs again. So this spring we decided we would creature proof our barn so nothing could dig under and deprive us of our egg layers. We stapled chicken wire around the bottom of the barn and it lays on the ground so if something does try to dig under, it will run into chicken wire. The dirt and shavings on the floor of the barn cover the wire so the chicks don't even know it's there. We ordered 18 chicks. 6 Rhode Island Red, 6 Black Sex Links, and 6 Buff Orpingtons. We lost 1 Black Sex Link, so we are left with 17 pullets.

The chicks are 2 1/2 months old now and this week we put them in with the older chickens. I don't know if there is a right or wrong way to introduce chickens to each other or not, but we just shooed the younger ones into the older ones side of the barn and let nature take its course. The rooster does not bother them at all. I have a yellow chicken that blends in with them and a very old black chicken that survived the massacre a few years ago that stays to herself. I don't think she will last much longer. Now 1 hen is an absolute bully and the pullets are terrified of her. We are trying to decide what to do with her. I'm thinking things will calm down soon, but if not should we put her in the stew pot? What have other readers done in this situation?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Starts in the Ground!

Well, I think spring has finally arrived now that the days are getting shorter. It is 78 out today and supposed to be 85 tomorrow. Yippee! It has been a very cool and windy spring here.

Yesterday I planted cucumbers, zucchini and butternut squash in the ground, and today 12 tomato plants. I had already transplanted swiss chard and spinach and cabbage because they do well in cool weather (and have to be tough in the wind as well). I snuck in some pepper plants the other day and got some peas along the fence. DH planted corn a couple of weeks ago and it is about 8-10" high and doing well. Oh, I forgot to mention, we planted 70 potato plants a few weeks ago and they are thriving! We will obviously have some to share. I still need to plant green beans so hope to do that very soon. I am hoping that the transplants do well and we have a successful garden. I am hoping to be able to have enough of my own produce to can and freeze without having to buy much of it from the local farmers market.