Short & Sweet

I spent some time today customizing this here little ‘ol blog.

After discovering that the places where y’all can sign up to receive the blog posts via email or the link to our Facebook page was waaaaayyyyyy down at the bottom of several blog posts I decided it was time to change the blog up a bit.  If you’ll glance to the right you can easily find where you can sign up to get an email when a new blog post has been published, you can click to check out and Like our Facebook page, you can search for previous blog posts and, if you read or write blogs with WordPress then you can simple hit the Follow button next to the WordPress symbol.  I hope this helps you keep up with all our shenanigans!

I’m also thinking of starting a regular Saturday blog post and keeping it short and sweet thus the title, haha!  We’ll see how this goes with my somewhat crazy schedule.

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I wanted to share our morning coffee with y’all…

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On mornings where the weather is comfortable and simply beckons you outdoors we sit on our front porch and sip our coffee.  There are, now, four cats that want attention during this time and LizzeBelle tries to be the first to claim my lap.

Over the years I have become more of a morning person.  I prefer getting up when the rooster crows (as they say cuz we can’t hear ours when in the house!) but, I also prefer a slow start to the day rather than jumping out of bed and hitting the floor running.  It’s just not a good day when I have to do that.  So, it’s a good amount of time that we are sitting out here enjoying the view, the antics of the animals and thoroughly soaking in the peace and quiet.  This world can be so noisy at times and I find myself not handling it very well anymore.  Chalk it up to our quiet and peaceful surroundings and probably old age!

Since I had the day off I spent the day doing small tasks here and there.  I love these kind of days!  Days where I can move from one task to the next doing whatever I feel motivated and inspired to tackle.

While sitting on the porch reading a magazine a friend of mine let me borrow, I came across an article on SCOBY’s (Symbiotic Cultures Of Bacteria and Yeast) and Kombucha.

For the past several months I have been getting up the nerve to try making my own Kombucha.  Since the beginning of the year I have been lurking in a group on Facebook where tons of information is shared about their Kombucha-making experiences and  I have yet to start a batch of my own.  I even got a SCOBY and some starter tea from a fellow farmer’s market vendor about a month ago and it is still in my fridge patiently waiting for me to just-do-it.

So, after reading the article in a past issue of Mary Jane’s Farm magazine I am going to DO it!  I aired and fed my SCOBY (which I didn’t know I needed to do, oops!) and in the next few days I will actually start a batch working around my work schedule.

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That’s the SCOBY and the starter I was given.  The SCOBY is squished in the jar but it resembles a pancake and, over time, will grow more layers which I can split apart and gift to someone and share the Kombucha love!

What IS Kombucha?  It’s basically fermented sweet tea which can be flavored to your liking.  What is Kombucha good for?  Your health!  According to the article the health benefit claims of Kombucha are: – eliminates toxins, – improves liver and digestive, immune, and excretory systems’ health, – prevents/treats cancer and arthritis, – reduces/eliminates fibromyalgia and depression, – improves energy levels, – combats hardening of arteries, kidneys, brain capillaries, and cardiac vessels, – combats candida, gout, hemorrhoids, and diabetes, – decreases anxiety, irritability, headaches, and dizziness.  Now who doesn’t need one or all of those benefits!  Upon reading all that I am ready to make my own and start taking advantage of these health benefits.

I also spent some time in the greenhouse tidying it up and starting some seeds…

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I started some Marigolds and to the right you’ll see a piece of Christmas Cactus that had been broken off accidentally so I stuck it in some Cactus dirt.  It looks like it will take as there are tiny new pieces of cactus forming at the tip.  Yay!  Fingers cross for the Marigolds.  I have not had much luck starting flowers from seeds but it is something that I want to figure out because who doesn’t love some color in the form of a flower in their life?!

Tidying the greenhouse seems to be a constant thing.  It should probably be an every day thing because it ends up being a dumping zone for all sorts of various and sundry items.  At the moment there are things being temporarily stored in there, such as our honey extractor and miscellaneous bee-keeping paraphernalia as well as some Farmer’s Market stuff that all needs to stay in there until the cistern room is enclosed where these things will have a permanent home.  But, closing in the cistern room will be a while since we are working on it as the funds allow.  So, with that, I periodically tidy up as best I can so that we can walk around in there and it can function as a greenhouse and look pretty at the same time.  (My goal for every project!)

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My B&B boss gave me this awesome wooden beverage crate.  Ale 8 is a Kentucky-made soda, not far from us, that we occasionally enjoy.  (We rarely drink soda or pop but when we do it will usually be an Ale 8!  Not to mention we love supporting locally made stuff!)  So, needless to say, I was thrilled when she gave it to me!  It holds all of our vegetable and flower seeds.

One of my favorite spots in the greenhouse is this sweet little spot…

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It’s a great place to have a bite to eat, enjoy the rain, or read a book.  One of these days I may even write a blog post while sitting there!

We tackled several other small tasks throughout the day in between bouts of relaxing on the porch.  Did I mention I just love these kind of days?

Well, this ended up being more of a somewhat short & sweet post rather than the original short & sweet as planned…  I’m not sure I can do a short and sweet one, ha!

 

 

 

 

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Twenty Eighteen Garden

This year’s garden is getting off to a slow start.  A veeeeerrrryyy slow start.  sigh.

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It’s the middle of June and the rows in our garden are just beginning to fill out and actually look like a garden and not just a patch of dirt in the yard.

We have been attending our local Farmer’s Market for over a month now and we have nothing to offer except eggs, jams & jellies and various handmade goods I’ve made over the years and haven’t sold yet.  To fill out our table and attract some customers CountryBoy has started making from-scratch Cinnamon Buns.  And, let me tell ya… he has perfected the recipe and boy-oh-boy are they yummy!

A few of the other vendors have started to pick some things from their gardens for the market but it’s been slim-pickins so far for everyone.  We’re all hoping to be able to offer more produce for the customers that stop by the market in the next couple of weeks.

I plan on putting up (or canning) enough of our yield to get us through the winter and the rest we will take to the market to sell.

What’s in the garden this year?  Red and white onions, sunflowers, lima beans, pinto beans, green beans, green peppers, sweet banana peppers, jalapeños, beets, okra, yellow squash, potatoes, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and basil.  The asparagus has already been harvested and eaten!

So far, it appears the garden may be successful again this year but it’s still early so we can only hope and pray that it continues to grow and do well and, that the coons, bunnies and deer don’t get it before we do!

That statement makes me stop and think about our ancestors who lived before grocery stores were common.  (Although, sadly, the majority of items that are within modern grocery stores really is not food.  I could definitely get on a soapbox right now but I won’t.  I will simply leave you with the thought that if there is a list of ingredients then, more than likely, it’s not really food.  Real food will not have a list of ingredients.  If an item does have a list of ingredients then, more than likely, it has been processed in some fashion where much of the nutrients have been taken away leaving a by-product, or non-food, which becomes a foreign matter when ingested leaving our bodies the job of trying to eliminate it.  Our bodies were designed to eliminate foreign matter but it can only eliminate so much and in today’s preservative and chemical-filled ‘everything’ the foreign matter adds up quickly.  (This includes the chemicals we put ON our bodies as well.  Remember your skin is the largest organ in your body so whatever you put on it gets absorbed into your system.)  What happens to the foreign matter that remains in our bodies?  The result is various chronic illnesses depending upon the individuals genetic makeup.  OK, stepping off the soapbox now but, please, my friends, be aware of what you are eating.  Do your own research for your bodies sake.  And a quick rule-of-thumb to keep it simple if this is all new to you – if you can’t pronounce it you probably shouldn’t eat it or wear it!)  Anyhoo, gardens were seen at every home and were necessary in order to survive.  If one’s garden did not do well that year then food for the family would be limited and possibly even scarce.  Realizing that makes me very grateful that I have the option to shop for produce year-round at the grocery store or a produce stand if our garden does not do well.  Gone are the days of a family going hungry because their garden does not do well, thank goodness!  Now, I do realize there are hungry families today due to various reasons and we should all do our part to see they have something to eat whether it’s taking them a meal or two, giving them a gift card to a grocery store or maybe even teaching them how to start a garden of their own, even if it’s a few vegetable plants in containers.  Love thy neighbor as thyself and help one another.

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The past week I’ve enjoyed the Tiger Lily’s showing off their vibrant orange colors…

Today I even brought a few in the house to enjoy.

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If you’re wondering how the baby boys are doing they are doing great!  Here they are enjoying some front porch time with us and meeting the big boys.

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And after a bout of roughhousing and play time, here they are taking an afternoon nap in LizzieBelle’s bed…

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They could care less that it’s pink.  Sweet silly boys!

 

 

 

Summer’s Freshness

Summer’s are a busy time of the year for us but it’s also the most rewarding.

When the grounds have been freshly mowed and bush-hogged the farm is beautiful.

When the garden has been freshly tilled and we’re able to keep up with the weeds seeing it will put a smile on your face anticipating the goodness that is about to come.

The hot days of summer we can do without especially when living in an old farmhouse with no air conditioning.  But, we schedule our days according to the weather and we survive.

What does that mean?  We do the animal chores in the morning before the sun comes up over the mountain or in the evening when it sets behind the other mountain dropping the temperature quite a bit.  We weed and check the crops during those times as well.  During the hottest part of the day we stay indoors underneath the ceiling fans.  To keep the house cool we have fans in a couple of the windows during the night time and then we close the windows during the day.  So far, it has been tolerable.  Worse case scenario, we have a couple of portable AC units we can hook up if it gets unbearable.  I just don’t know how our ancestors survived before all these modern conveniences like ceiling fans and air conditioning!  My guess it’s because they didn’t know any differently and they didn’t really have a choice.

Enough about our summer survival methods and on with some good stuff!

The beauty about summertime, besides the green grass and trees and everything in bloom, is the harvest from the garden.  Summertime has us eating lots of garden goodies and freshness!

One of our favorites is a marinated cucumber salad…

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Our onions aren’t ready yet but the cucumbers and tomatoes are straight from the garden.

Another summer dish we really love is a Greek Orzo Salad…

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We can (and do!) eat a huge Pyrex bowl of this stuff in a couple of days!  Fresh basil and parsley from the garden as well as the cucumbers and tomatoes thrown in with some cooked Orzo pasta, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, red onions and a dressing of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and YUM!!!  Simple but tasty.  I had to modify the last batch I made because I didn’t have any feta cheese or red onions on hand and living 30 minutes from Anywhere, USA I used what I had!  So, that meant cubing up some mozzarella and using a white onion instead.  It gave it more of an Italian flare but was just as good!  And it’s already gone, sniff.

On a really hot day we’ll have a smoothie for lunch…

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These are so yummy and so simple to make.  I add one packet to a cup of milk, throw in some frozen berries and a few ice cubes and mix it all up in my Ninja blender.  Super.Simple.  And right up my alley on a hot day!   I mean, who wants to be in a hot kitchen on a hot day?  Not me, especially with no air conditioning!!!

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Now on to more goodness…

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I’ve got cucumbers coming out the wazoo!  I’ve already made a batch of Bread & Butter pickles.  Now I’m trying Sweet Icicle Cucumbers.  These babies take a while to make.  First, they sat in a brine for a week.  Now I’m in the pickling process.  Every day I strain the pickling juice into a saucepan with the bag of pickling spices, bring them to a boil then ladle it back into the crock.  I have two more days to go and then I can finally process them in the canner.

I didn’t read the directions thoroughly enough before starting so my processing timeline is off and I’ll end up canning these on Sunday after church.  I typically rest and relax on Sunday’s but after all the work involved with this batch of pickles I don’t want to take a chance on messing them up by waiting or adding another day to the process.  I also hope that they’re good after all this work.  Fingers crossed!

My next batch of pickles I want to try some Garlic Dill pickles.  I’m hoping to discover a recipe that tastes like the pickles I used to get at Ronnie’s Restaurant in Orlando when I was a kid.  I remember the place well.  It was on the corner of a huge L-shaped outdoor mall or strip mall, if you will, and it was always a treat to go there.  It was a big restaurant with delicious food and desserts and on every table was a gallon jar of whole pickles where you could help yourself while you waited for your meal.  They were SO good and I haven’t found a pickle like them since.  Sadly, the restaurant has been long gone but I’m still holding onto hope that I’ll find a recipe or some pickles that taste just like them.  Wouldn’t that be awesome!

Summer means early mornings or evenings on the front porch when it’s cool…

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Aren’t they cool?!  LizzieBelle and her buddy Creamsicle – so cute!

I mentioned earlier about summer blooms…

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This plant completely disappears after winter.  I mean, it’s dead and gone and every year I think it’s not coming back.  Then all of a sudden, it reappears again and puts out these huge flowers.  I mean HUGE!  These flowers are the size of my hand.

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Do any of y’all know what they are?  They remind me of a Hibiscus but bigger.

Another summer bloom are the Rose of Sharon’s…

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We have a LOT of these trees on the farm and they are literally humming with bumblebees and honey bees!  I wish y’all could hear it.  It makes me wonder what our honey is going to taste like.  I snagged a sample of it while I was in the hive a while ago and it was really good.

Speaking of honey, I will be getting into the hive on the first somewhat cool day we have.  I’m hoping to pull a honey frame or two out that is ready to be harvested.  That’s going to be an exciting day!

And, speaking of honey, at last week’s farmers market I had a couple people ask me if we were the ones selling honey.  I told them, not yet.  Maybe next year we’ll have some to sell at the market but it depends on how much we can sustainably harvest and still leave the bees with enough to get them through the winter.  I go through a LOT of honey so any honey we sell would have to be extra honey.  Although, if my bees continue to multiply like they have been I am going to need another hive or two and then I might have some extra.  Yea, I go through THAT much honey!

And, speaking of the farmers market, it’s going well…

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CountryBoy manning our table

We have several regular customers now and have sold out of eggs the last two markets.  This past market we took some of our cucumbers and sold out of them as well and even did some bartering with them.

Here’s what we bartered for…

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Yummy homemade herb & cheese bread and golden oyster mushrooms which I promptly sautéed that night and put on top of my burger with some pepper jack cheese.  With the burgers we grilled fresh corn on the cob that we also picked up at the market –   Mmm!

Our market is small but it’s slowly growing with vendors…

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That’s only half of our regular vendors but check out the view of Appalachian Mountains in our town!

I’d encourage you to find a local farmers market if you haven’t done so already.  You will not only be getting the freshest of the fresh but you will be helping support your local farming families where every purchase is greatly appreciated.

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