Monday, December 19, 2011

Happy Holidays!

We have been busy here in Cowland.  The holiday baking is almost finished and the neighbors' cookie plates will be going out soon.  Fudge, raspberry truffles, snickerdoodles, almond cookies, Italian holiday cookies, toffee bars, zimsterne and I forget what else......  Still have chocolate whoopee pies, black walnut cake and pecan rolls to go.  The rest of the Christmas Day menu - savory stuff - is all planned out.  More cooking to go!!!  We did have a couple of brief visits with children - very nice!!  We did find time to come down off the mountain and go to Dolllywood to see the Christmas decorations - the last visit on our yearly pass.  We took this lovely picture of Dad while we were there.  Hope you enjoy it!  Our Christmas shopping is 99% done, just two little items to pick up. Our Christmas tree will be up soon, just have to wait to decorate it until Mia and Elizabeth get here.  That will be great fun!  So, Merry Christmas!!!!! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


We had visitors this past weekend, both of the human kind as well as bovine kind!!  Our human visitors were Sandra and Bennie from Alabama and we had a really great time with conversation, food and a great 4 mile hike on the New River Trail.  (Hopefully we burned off a few calories!!)   The weather was perfect for a walk which was marvelous to do in November.  We tried out a new sun-dried tomato chicken dish and with a little tweaking, it will be fantastic.   We aren't sure of the name of our bovine visitor as he or she didn't stay very long, but just had to see about that grass!  He/she did finally go home - back through the barbed wire fence.    Hunting season for deer is now underway and wouldn't you know it, no deer in sight for a couple of days now.......although a couple of very young ones appeared this afternoon under the Bradford pear trees.  The creative work has gone well lately.  I did finish the Mabry Mill quilt as well as a hat, scarf and matching mittens plus another set of mittens - watch this winter be really mild.....  Next project is another afghan.  This one is for Sandra and Bennie.  They are finally going to be settled in their new apartment in Alabama.  Next, we'll be preparing for Thanksgiving dinner and more visitors.  It's going to be great!  Two of our boys and families will be up for the weekend as well as my brother and sister-in-law.  Lots of turkey and lots of pie!!  So, Happy Thanksgiving to all.........

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

More Deer

This morning's drama in Cowland was two bucks trying out their antlers under the Bradford pear trees!  They fought a little, seemed to alert to a noise and then went back at it; quite a sight from our window....
A  lot of leaf raking went on today also.  The driveway is once again cleared of leaves and pine needles and one of the gardens has been tilled with the mulched leaves.  So, the fall chores are whittling away!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fall Activities

We have our fall chores under control!  The gardens are tilled and the back garden has been enlarged to nearly triple size as the original garden is now too shady - tree growth, go figure!!  We have yet to rake and mulch the leaves into the gardens, but they are STILL falling!!   While waiting, we have been baking a new bread recipe - sourdough batter bread.  Just mix, let raise, turn into the loaf pan, let raise and bake!!  Really good and, so far, foolproof!!  The Mabry Mill quilt is half finished; it is looking pretty good.  Have finished two afghans, knitted a hat and almost finished a scarf and my sister has sent a pattern for mittens.  Also I have done some sewing but still have lots to go. Good thing winter is almost here, maybe stuff will get finished!  We have had some company lately, my sister came from "up north" and also Dan and family.  Did a lot of fun shopping; herbs, crafty stuff and the like.  By the way bought a new car, a Fiat 500; NICE!!  Will miss the Jeep (after all it was 10 years with us), but this is so like the Festiva we used to have!

Woke up the other morning to this beautiful site under the Bradford pear trees - the deer really like the little tiny pears the trees drop in the fall and we love seeing them!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mother Nature Has Been Kind

Mother nature has been kind to us lately...............?  Well, at least in the firewood sense of the word.  With the last couple of fronts the wind has been strong enough to provide us with an ample amount of kindling - dead branches ALL OVER the yard - and two large tree branches which we have cut and stacked for next year's firewood.  The wood pile is stacked and firewood is in the garage getting dry for the winter's fires in our stoves.  We've had another front and thanks to the wind we now have a leaf-covered yard and probably more kindling sticks - just haven't been out to check yet.  It was a little chilly and wet.  The maples are about half empty now, but the Bradford pears only have a hint of their color so far.  We did have two really nice 70 degree days with no wind so we did get a lot of our fall chores done.  The front bushes have been trimmed and mulched along with what leaves had fallen into the driveway, but here it is two days later and we have three or four times as many leaves waiting to be mulched.  The next mulching will have to wait until the trees are done shedding as we have a once a fall raking rule!

Soups have been the choice of meals lately.  So far we have made lentil soup, cream of potato soup and have begun the process of making chicken noodle soup.  The chicken is off the bones and the broth is cooling so the fat can be skimmed off.  Then we just make the noodles and cut the celery, carrots and onions and COOK!!  Must be getting colder - soups sound soooo good!!!   So do afghans and quilts.  So far, I have finished one afghan for my daughter-in-law's mother and am working on another as well as getting the Mabry Mill quilt started.  We took apart all those grain bags and pressed them out.  We have about 20 of them which should be enough for a smallish quilt.  Will keep you up to date on the fun with that!

Dan and family are coming up this weekend and bringing black walnuts.  We'll probably head up the field and see if there are anymore.  Now if we could just find an easy, shell-free method of getting the walnuts out!!

Our Angry Tree has had Mr/Ms Squirrel sampling an eyeball lately.  Guess it wasn't too tasty!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

"The Jars"

We took a picture of our canning jar shelves this morning after moving the apples downstairs.  We are pretty impressed with our efforts this year in canning.  We have lots of fruits, jams, jellies, pickles, pickled beets, chow-chow, pickle relish and, of course, APPLES!!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Apples are done!

Well, the last of the canning is finished for this year.  We canned 59 1/4 quarts of apples.  We will enjoy them all year as will the rest of our family.  What's left is a small batch of tomatoes to cook down for either sauce or cream of tomato soup and a few pepper plants left in the garden.  Maybe we'll get a few more before the frost. 

Just a run down of what we froze this year (hope not to bore you too much) - pumpkin butter, green beans, green peppers, jalapeno peppers, zucchini, yellow squash and stuffed patty pans.  We also have in the basement spaghetti squash, butternut squash and acorn squash.  Herbs and caynne peppers have been dried and are ready for anything!  Our freezer is FULL!

Apples, apples, apples

Welcome to Cowland - named so by our grandchild, Mia, who asked Poppa "are we in Cowland now, Poppa?"  We are surrounded on three sides by cow fields and woods on the fourth side.  We have four garden patches presently; one of which is an almost self-sustaining herb garden.  We grow squashes - summer and winter, green beans, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers of many sorts and are trying to grow apples ourselves, peaches and blueberries.  The apples and peaches seem to be a favorite of our resident squirrels - maybe next year.............

It's been a busy season for garden produce canning and freezing.  Finally, the last step - the apples......... Well, four bushels to prep and can.  So far we have the apple butter, plain applesauce and the cinnamon applesauce completed - 35 1/2 quarts and counting.  That was the first three work days.  The cinnamon apple slices canning commences tomorrow and will probably take another three days!!!  All in all, 1 1/2 hours of picking apples off three trees and so far three days of work........  Thanks Ray!!!  Ray has a few apples trees and generously allows us to pick from his trees.

Picking the apples was fun, we had a helpful duo of (guess what) cows helping.  One of the inhabitants of the field containing the trees discovered rather quickly that we were picking apples - the cows had already cleaned off the lower branches - and joined us immediately.  Our second hungry cow came galloping over as soon as she realized it was APPLES we were picking.  Actually they were looking for service with a smile - they weren't too interested in going to far away to get the fallen apples.  They much preferred to have them within a foot or so of their hungry mouths!!  Keeping them from bumping the ladder was made easier by having a few apples on hand to keep them from getting too close.  When we moved up the hill to another tree, our friendly cows lost track of us and that was the end of apples for cows.