Friday, August 27, 2021

Cow Troubles

 My cow started limping so I call a hoof trimmer, Allison Sturgill, to come and trim her hooves so we could get a good look at them.  I also worried that the barn floor was too wet, so we locked the cows out of the barn.  Allison came and brought her contraption to snug up my cow to be able to do the trimming.  She did a great job and educated me about my cow.  I had no idea my cow came with a switch!!.  Then I found out it was a tail.  lol.  Which she told me needed to be trimmed, which I did.  I would highly recommend Allison.  Her contact information is here if you live within an hour of Chapel Hill, NC.

Here is a picture of me and my cow that I took so Allison could get an idea of her size:

We ended up liming the barn and adding mulch (thanks honey!!) since we had a free pile of mulch sitting around.  My cow is no longer limping.  Yay!  Thanks for the recommendation Becky!!

Harvesting in dribs and drabs

 Sometimes you just get a little bit of something at a time, so you do the best you can at preserving it.  This week has been one of those.

So I harvested the top half of my basil plants and made pesto for the freezer.  

My husband harvested a pumpkin which I turned into two pumpkin pies (one got eaten and one went into the freezer) and some pumpkin butter for the freezer.  Old small peanut butter jars work fantastic for this.  I also picked some crowder peas that my husband shelled so I could blanch them and put them in the freezer.  We only got 4 bags of 2 cups each this picking.

We always have our eye on the next vegetable, so my husband amended and tilled the soil so we could plant some carrots, beets, turnips and a little spinach, and left a row for some broccoli seedlings later.

My husband also worked on the new asparagus bed coming soon by adding some chicken gold, ashes and compost to the new bed.  Life is good!

Monday, August 16, 2021

Summer Harvest Continues

 So much going on in the summer.  We are harvesting and preserving everything in site.  While we had a late frost that hurt most of our fruit, we have gotten some.  We just harvested all of the Asian pears from our three young trees, peeled and sliced them with our apple peeler/corer/slicer, cut it down the middle and dehydrated them.  Our whole harvest amounted to two gallons of dried Asian pears.  With the peelings and the cores, we are attempting "Pear scrap vinegar" by adding 2 gallons of water and 2 cups of sugar, putting cheesecloth on the top of the pickle jar we are using with a rubber band.  Then in 2 weeks we will rake, then after another 2 weeks it should be done.  Given that some white vinegar is now being made with petroleum and I am allergic, that is what we will have to do.  All you will find on the label is that they are making it with alcohol (which is being made with petroleum, but they don't put that on the label either.)  If it wasn't for corn and petroleum, you might not be able to find food at the grocery store it seems.  A great time to be a homesteader. . .

Other harvests this year:  Lots of tomatoes canned in spaghetti sauce, tomatoes with green chilies and dehydrated tomatoes.  Tried a new catsup recipe of my own using the spaghetti sauce, vinegar, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and it tastes fantastic.  Okra is being picked, sliced and frozen.  Harvesting fennel seeds, hops, pumpkins (canned), canteloupes, watermelon, anise hyssop (dehydrated for tea), elderberry, blueberries, cucumbers.

Don't forget to harvest your seeds for next year using mature seeds!

In addition to the mushroom forest, we are trying wine cap mushrooms in the mulch under our elderberries and raspberries.  In concern for our high temperatures and no rain, we have watered it to give it a good start.  More mycelium is in the refrigerator waiting for finding a source of mulch (hoping for free or cheap).

There are so many new things to try.  For example, we spent $1.95 on some ginger root at the grocery store, broke it into six pieces and put it into two pots.  One of them is already growing!  

We  are continuing to harvest downed timber to put seasoned wood in the woodshed as we get it split.  Thanks Pam!!

Life is good!

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Mushroom Forest


So we invited over some friends who helped us make mushroom logs with mycelium of Lions Mane mushrooms.  Thanks Sam & Zack!!  I can't wait for the mushroom flush!

The next kind of mushroom mycelium is the Almond Agaricus that we layered into composted cow manure in a big tub.  The reason for this is that this variety is temperature sensitive.  So if the weather report says it is going below 35 degrees, we will have to move it in, probably to our basement, as I would like for this to last for years.

We already have blue oyster mycelium in the horse trough and white oyster mycelium on the ground.  As we put them all near each other, I will be able to check on them all at the same time.  

On another note, this weekend we were walking some property with our friends Gwen and Gary.  We were delighted to find some white oyster mushrooms growing on a log.  We found another round fungus of some sort that we did not recognize, but it looked interesting.  Life is sooo good!

Tuesday, August 3, 2021


 This year we had our first elderberry harvest!  For this first harvest, the amount that was all ripe at the same time amounted to 1/3 cup of elderberries.  Still, I was able to make some elderberry syrup using 1 cup of water and elderberries simmered in a pot for 25 minutes, then remove from heat, cool slightly and add 1/3 cup of honey. 

I also harvested and dried some comfrey and plantain to make some salve, as I was running out.  We love this for healing and I also use it on my cows teats occasionally.

My husband and I looked for and found a wild medicinal on our farm called self heal.  

While we were looking we found one of our sassafras trees to be bearing fruit:

Life is good!

More Harvest and Time Out

 New and old ways to preserve.  I learned a new technique to preserve our cucumbers from a friend (Thanks Pam!)  Lacto fermentation is the art of pickling with salt.  I put up a gallon and a quart of cucumbers.  I basically salted them with non-iodized salt, put them in a jar, filled it with water and added a weight to the top to hold them below the water.  In this case it was sandwich bags with glass marbles in them.  

My husband keeps bringing in the tomatoes so we are preserving them by making tomatoes with green chilies, spaghetti sauce, dried tomatoes and catsup.  

We took some time out (a whole day and a half) to visit some friends in the mountains and we enjoyed our time with the Kalmus family.  Karin took me to some local shops and I was able to buy some buckwheat honey and goat cheese.  They also sent some of their blueberry plants home with us and an incubator that is so old, my retired husband did his masters research with it. . .Dr. K was my husband's adviser in college.  Such memories!  We also brought home some blueberry plants from their blueberry bush that puts on berries as late as September.

Beginning Harvest and Catch-Up

 We have begun harvesting and preserving!

I dug up the garlic, both elephant and traditional.  Here they are for their two week curing with stems on.

We harvested all of the peaches and cream corn, and got 2 gallons stuffed full of corn on the cob and 22 packages cut off the cob, all for the freezer.

We spruced up the front of the property (this was a big job taking about four days - my husband did a great job and I assisted.)  I did a spruce up of our mailbox and the rest of the mailboxes that are sitting on our property.  I think we had to wait until he retired so we would have enough time to do it.