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.