Tuesday, December 25, 2012

MERRY CHRISTMAS

All of us at TwoFarmsOne wish you a safe, healthy, blessing filled and very merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY - 12/19/12


Anna's Children - Christmas 2005


(AF) Busy, but fine, mostly.

Hello, Everybody!

Yes, we have gotten extremely busy again. It is just that time of year, as I am sure all of you know. We are both still a little under the weather, but improving. My back is out, which is slowing me down, but I am still managing to get around and get quite a bit done. As soon as the cold front that is almost here, passes through, my back will probably be just fine (I am hoping).

We both have soooo many blog posts that we have mulling about in our heads, and we are dying to get them posted, but we have neither one had a lot of time lately to just sit down and write away. As I have said before, it is too bad because that is the time you actually have the most to write about.

We are going to try our best to get caught up on our sites over the next few days, but we make no promises! We truly hope life is treating you all well, you are having a great Christmas season, and we can't wait to find some reading time to catch up with all of you and your blogs.

Have a BEAUTIFUL and BLESSING filled day!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

TIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Don't Toss Those Pumpkins!

Jack Be Little Pumpkins (white ones included).... They are so cute that none of us, kids nor adults alike, can resist them. Some just get one or two to paint a face on for Halloween, and some get a bunch of them to scatter amongst their Fall decor. Then, long about now, if you haven't already, they end up getting tossed out with the spent Fall decorations. But you know me, I hate throwing stuff away and wasting things.

Did you know that these darling little pumpkins are not only decorative, but very tasty and good to eat as well?! Last year I ended up with several and just couldn't bring myself to throw them out. They were pumpkins, and it seemed such a waste, so I decided to do some digging and see if they were good to eat at all. To my delighted surprise, I learned that they were not only good to eat, but there are many great recipes all over the net for cooking them! Just type in "Jack Be Little Pumpkins Recipes" into your search box and all kinds of recipes for them comes up!  You can even bake several of them, scoop them out, and make an ordinary pumpkin pie. They have so many uses that I can't believe so many of them are just tossed into the trash this time of year (or any time for that matter). You can even fill each one with a handful of your favorite meatloaf recipe and bake for great, individual meatloaves (a fun way to get kids to eat meatloaf, though I still doubt it would work on me, lol).

Although the wall of these pumpkins is very thick and provides each individual person with a generous, nutritious serving of vegetable, there are also lots of seeds in the center of each one. The seeds easily come out and can be cleaned and used to roast or to plant to grow even more the next year, or you can roast most of them and save a few to plant for the next year. You can really get the mileage out of your money on these great little pumpkins if you first use them for decoration, then cook and eat them, then plant some of the seeds to grow more for the next year. I still can't believe how many of these get tossed into the trash each year. It just doesn't seem right. Oh, and if you don't like to eat them, they are also great fodder for goats and chickens. Here is my favorite way to cook them.... Click Here

If you have other ways of cooking them, or other ways to use these adorable little pumpkins before they are trashed, I would love to hear them!

Friday, December 7, 2012

PHARMACY FRIDAY - Apple Cider Vinegar for healing

 Now, when I talk about using Apple Cider Vinegar for healing purposes, I am talking about the All Natural Apple Cider Vinegar WITH Mother. This vinegar is in its most natural state and has not had extra processing that kills any (usually most) of its natural healing properties. There are actually several different brands you can choose from. Although most of them work equally well, there is usually a very wide range of prices. We have found that Heinz works very well, for a very reasonable price.

Some people think that Apple Cider Vinegar KILLS bacteria, but others say that it mostly just retards the growth of bacteria. There are several types of bacteria that it can stop the growth of, and one of the most important ones is Staphylococcus aureus. This could be very good to know when you have an antibiotic resistant staff infection!
But Apple Cider Vinegar, some say, does not stop the growth of all bacteria (see more HERE), so if you are counting on it for the purpose of killing/retarding many bacteria, you may want to consider something with more antibacterial properties, or digging a little deeper with your research.

Apple Cider Vinegar contains inulin, which is a prebiotic. So what does this mean? This component won't kill bacteria, but it WILL help your body's ability to fight against them by increasing your number of T cells and white blood cells.

Apple Cider Vinegar can also help to stop the growth of bacteria in another way. When applied, it decreases the pH of surfaces (such as your skin), which will help to prevent bacteria from growing.  A word of caution, though, Apple Cider Vinegar IS an acid and can cause some tissue irritation.

Contrary to all of this, research done by the Heinz corporation has shown that apple cider vinegar actually kills 99% of bacteria, 82% of mold and 80% of viruses.  You will have to be the judge on how much you trust it to kill bacteria and viruses, but this time of year, during cold and flu season, it might not be a bad idea to incorporate some into your daily cleaning routines and to disinfect minor cuts and scrapes. I like to drink a little of it mixed in a glass of water with some honey. It tastes much better than you would think, and since I have elected NOT to get a flu shot (I don't trust them, but that is another subject), I hope that a glass now and then will help to prevent the growth of any flu viruses in my system. As an added bonus, that beverage concoction also seems to help my arthritis pain! But that is getting off of topic, so we will save that for another Friday
HERE is yet a little more great information about the great, antibacterial and antiviral benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar. I hope you find this all helpful (and not confusing) and I look forward to hearing about your opinions, findings and results.

This post is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease or illness. Always remember to check with your health care provider before beginning any treatment on your own. 

(AF) My Poor Stove!

My electric cook stove has been in bad shape for awhile, now, but I just keep limping it along. Actually, the cook top hasn't even worked in about a dozen years, so I have been cooking on a double burner hotplate all of this time. In the middle of winter I use my wood burning stove that I heat my house with, but the rest of the time, it is just that old hotplate.

The oven isn't much better. When I was divorcing and temporarily moved out, my ex let the mice take over and they tore most of the insulation out of the oven. (my cats did a great job getting rid of the mice) So now it doesn't heat very evenly. Add into the mix, the springs have broken on the door of that ancient oven and the only way it will stay closed is if I wedge the door shut with a mop handle. Looks pretty funny, but it works. One day, though, I didn't get it wedged good, the door flopped open, hit something I had temporarily setting on the floor in front of the oven, and shattered the outside pane of glass into a jillion pieces! The inner pane of glass is still in the door, but even more heat escapes, now.  There is a positive side to this. On chilly nights when I don't want to fire up the wood stove, if I bake my dinner, it takes the chill out of the house at the same time! The challenges of my oven gets even better. It is so old, that all of the numbers on the nobs have worn off. Yep, I have no idea what temperature I am setting it to when I turn it on.

But tonight, my challenges grew. The nob broke off of that old hot plate! Yep, it just snapped right off. Now, it does have two sides, a large plate and a small plate, and the nob is still on the small plate, but that small plate is nearly worthless. It is good for melting butter and warming water, but that is about it. So now, no nob on my large plate, the part that I do all of  my cooking on. But the good news is, the nob broke off while the burner was on! It appears it was on high, too, which is good, because that is the only setting at which it will cook anything. So now I have two settings for my hotplate... unplugged for off, and plugged in for high. At least, it is still working. I just have to make sure and remember to unplug it each time I use it. I guess it is all in how you look at things. I could complain that I no longer have a working stove top. I could complain that the nob broke off of my hot plate. But I am not. I am REALLY THANKFUL that I have a hot plate, it still works and I can still cook just as well on it.


Maybe it is time I should put forth more effort in more natural, alternative, self-sustainable cooking. As winter moves in, I will be cooking on top of my wood stove, and inside of it in my tiny little Dutch ovens. Maybe by the time warmer weather comes back, we can build that outdoor kitchen I have always dreamed of having. Then I wouldn't even need that ancient electric stove any more and I would save tons on my electric bill!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

(DF) COMPOSTING TOILET UPDATE!!

Before I get into the actual update, a little background might be in order.  Hopefully, this will bring those of you who haven't read my original post on the subject up to speed, while refreshing the memory of those who, like most of us, have plenty of other things to think of and may not fully remember.

The recently past summer was a hot, dry one here in the central U.S., including the part of Oklahoma where I live.  The near record drought led to increased water usage, which in turn led to decreased water availability in my two wells, making the need for conservation absolutely necessary.

Thinking of ways to save water reminded me of a book which a friend had recommended years ago, "The Humanure Handbook".  This particular work is an excellent source of information on the environmental hazards of conventional sewage systems, composting toilet systems, gray water systems and composting in general.  A must read, in my opinion.

I, being a natural born skeptic, decided to test the simplest of the composting toilet systems described.  Simply put, it consists of a bucket, seat and cover material (saw dust is preferred but I chose dry leaves).  The reason for this choice of cover material is because I live in the woods and leaves are always available.  Sawdust, on the other hand is not as readily available and isn't always free (remember, I AM a tightwad).

Deciding to do early testing outside, I used a portable camp toilet.  It is the type that consists of a bucket which sits in a slightly larger container with a seat and lid, and while being designed for use with a bag and chemicals, it served my purposes nicely.

A point to remember is that this was done in extreme summer heat.  If anything is going to stink and draw flies, it will be in summer heat, right?  Well, believe it or not, there was very little smell and to my amazement, the kitchen scrap bucket drew far more flies than the toilet.

When the bucket was dumped in the compost pile, it did smell bad, but only until covered with more leaves.  Within a couple of days, the composting process had produced temperatures high enough to kill any pathogens that might have been present.

I continued through the rest of the summer with this system, looking for some down side.  The only one I could find was the trips to the compost pile.  This would only be a down side if I wasn't already making those trips with kitchen scraps and such anyway.

By the time cold weather arrived, I had confirmed another up side in addition to water savings, environmental benefits and the prospect of rich compost for the garden.  The well pump kicks on every time the toilet is flushed, using electricity.  The savings on the electric bill was about nine dollars per month.  Nice bonus.

With cold weather, I made a plywood seat with a hole in it for an old dining chair and placed a five gallon bucket under it, and yes, I placed it in the bathroom beside the flush toilet.  Behind the bathroom door, I placed a garbage can full of leaves for use as cover material.  In an enclosed area, I fully expected the stench to be horrible and was prepared to remove the bathroom's new addition.  To my pleasant surprise. there was no more smell than with a flush toilet, and much of the smell is from the leaves (a smell I find pleasant).

With considerations of added high nutrient compost, and the savings of water and energy, it seems more than worthwhile.  Add to this savings the environmental benefits, and it seems to me a most excellent addition to our self-sufficient lifestyle.

Please let me know your thoughts, opinions and experiences.  Even with the best of things, there is room for improvement.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

(D♥A) New Commenting Form

A few weeks ago we changed the template that our blog was set to. As we did, it also changed the commenting form (yes, we did this on purpose as we like this one better). Now, you can comment in TWO ways.

You can comment to a post as you normally do... individual comments. PLUS, you can now also "reply" specifically to the comments that are already made. If you simply want to make a comment regarding the post, either click on the word "comments" so that the post with the comment form comes up, or, if it is already up, then simply scroll down to the bottom of the page and begin typing in the comment box.

If you would like to reply, add to, or comment on a comment that someone else has made, look directly under that specific comment for the word "reply". Click on "reply" and a new box will come up so that you can reply to that specific comment. When you make a comment in this way, after you post yours, it will come up under the comment you were replying to.

I hope I am not making this sound complicated, as it is really easy. Once you are there on a page, you will see what I mean and it will all make perfectly good sense. If you have any problems, or your comment ends up where you don't want it, that is no problem. You can always ask me to delete it so that you can repost it. I don't mind at all.

I love this commenting form much better. It makes conversation amongst our readers much easier (and we LOVE comments!) But we are open to all feedback from you, our readers, regarding our changed commenting form. Thank you!

TIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Christmas Buttons!!!

Normally I am not one to support large corporations, but this was just so good I had to share.

This year, finances are tighter than they have ever been, literally. Not only does it appear that buying Christmas gifts is out of the question, but even getting supplies to make them is proving to be a difficult challenge. But a few days ago my oldest daughter called me with some information that may be a great help.


A large retail chain here in the US, JCPenney,  is having a wonderful Christmas promotion I honestly don't know if it extends beyond the US or not). Daily, until Christmas Eve or until they run out, they are passing out Christmas Buttons. (like little lapel pins) These are the most adorable buttons! I would stop in just to get the buttons, they are so cute. But it gets even better. On the back of each button is a code. You go to their website and enter that code to see if you have won a prize!

They are giving away millions (literally) of prizes. They are giving away trips, merchandise, great coupons, and gift cards. Examples of the coupons are: $5 off of a $5 or more purchase, $10 off of a $10 purchase or more, etc. You can't combine coupons, but even still, you can always make small purchases and still save a bundle! I saw some wonderful sleep pants on clearance there the other day... they were originally $10, on clearance for $6. If I had had a $5 certificate to use, I could have gotten those soft, warm, top quality pants for only $1!

No purchase is necessary to get the buttons. You just go into the store (even daily if you like) and ask for some Christmas buttons. You can enter two codes a day from now to December 24th. Not all buttons are winners, but if I have it right, the odds are about 1 in 4 that a button will win something. That is great odds! And the buttons alone are fun and nice to wear and collect. There are about 50 of them and, who knows, if you can collect some complete sets, they themselves might be worth something later on down the line. So far I have entered about 16 buttons which has resulted in a total of $20. I'm excited!

I live too far out and can't go in to town every day just to stop into this store to get buttons, but I am hoping that I can go at least a couple of more times before they run out. I haven't received my certificates, yet (they are very backlogged, already) but they will come, and when they do, we are going to enjoy doing some shopping! And, as usual, I will look for the best bargains and really stretch it out. In the midst of such hard times, this store's Christmas promotion has been a true blessing for many.

You can find out more about the promotion here.
 You can also find them on facebook. There is also a picture there of all of the buttons. I am not sure which one is my favorite, but I think I am leaning on the one with the two kids on the sled in the snow.
I do hope this post can help some of you as well.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Amazing Weather!

Today is December 1st and it dawned very unseasonably warm and beautiful! It feels and smells like a typical, mid spring day. How unusual!!! As I type this post, it is already about 65°F. The prediction is that it will be 75°F before the day is out. It wouldn't surprise me if the day gets even warmer than that.

The birds are chirping and singing with a cheerfulness I haven't heard in a long  while. The musky fragrance of garden-time earthiness fills the air. The sun is shining with only an occasional cloud, the dogs are excitedly romping around, the cats are frisking about, and the goats are busy grabbing up every little green morsel that is trying to poke through the ground.

It would be an absolutely marvelous day to take off and go camping and/or fishing! That temptation is just almost too much to resist, but resist it must be. Dave is sick and has been for awhile now (one of the biggest reasons you haven't seen one of his posts lately). We think he is on the mend end of things, but he is just so tired. We are hoping that a few beautiful days like today is just what he needs to finish healing up. I have it, too, but not nearly so badly. It's just that time of year when we all seem to be passing all of those bugs around.

It will be a most beautiful day for the Flea Market, though! Which is why I must get off of here now and get going. I am hoping everyone heads out there to shop instead of yielding to the urge to run out to the lake, but I couldn't blame them. I am excited.... we don't get many December days like this. And we are suppose to get a few of them in a row! Amazing! I can think of a gajillion things to do on a day like today! What would you be doing with a sudden, gorgeous, warm spell?

Gosh, it's such a glorious day! You have a most wonderful day, too!


Friday, November 30, 2012

PHARMACY FRIDAY - Lavender for Winter Ills

It seems that there are more viruses and ills going around right now than usual. Some of them this year are also more aggressive than usual, so it seems. I have kind of lost count as to how many different ones are going around simultaneously just this month alone.

I don't know about you, but I really get tired of taking so many synthetic/commercial medications to combat all of those Fall/Winter viruses and their complications. Sometimes, the side effect can be even worse than the actual virus! Then you have to try and heal up from the virus AND the medications. Not to mention, we build up immunities to them and, after time, they often don't work as well as they once did, if at all. No fun!

As you know, I prefer to use NATURAL REMEDIES whenever possible. There are very few, if any, side effects to them, and we don't usually build immunities to them. One of my favorite natural remedies to combat winter time viruses is Lavender Essential Oil. Not only is it highly effective, it is also one of the absolute safest essential oils to use for adults, babies, children and the elderly. (checking with your healthcare provider before beginning any treatment is advised for any age.)

Not all Lavender essential oils are alike. Different Lavender essential oils provide different properties, some therapeutic, some medicinal, some for aroma therapy, and some are good for all. My two all time favorites are French Lavender and Spanish Lavender.

Being low on the medicinal value side, Spanish Lavender Essential Oil is mostly used for aromatherapy purposes; however, it is also a great expectorant. A few drops can be added to your favorite carrier oil, then gently rubbed into your chest (and don't forget the bottoms of your feet) or used as an all over massage lotion to aid in congestion relief. As a massage oil, not only does it work as an expectorant, but the aroma therapy aspect of Spanish Lavender also helps you to relax and rest better, which could easily speed healing and recovery time. Lavender essential oil is so mild that it can also be taken internally (In food and/or beverages. Do not consume straight!). Only a drop or two is all that is needed. I haven't tried them, yet, but I have read that Lavender Cookies are very good! I love the fragrance of this one the best!

French Lavender Essential Oil is my absolute favorite to use for medicinal purposes. The price of it has risen considerably lately, but only a tiny bit goes a very long way and, in the end, it is still far cheaper than modern medications, with little to no side effects. It is well worth investing in!!! Store in a dark, glass bottle in a dark, cool, dry place and it will keep for an enormously long time.

French Lavender Essential Oil is loaded with medicinal properties!  Not only is it antiviral, but it is also antibacterial (bactericide), decongestant, antiseptic, and analgesic. When so many 'bugs' are going around that you don't know if your illness is viral or bacterial, this essential oil can cover both. Used in a massage oil, it can also aid in the relief of the aches and pains associated with flu and fever. It is such a versatile oil that it is well worth investing in!  With its combined strong antiseptic, antiviral AND bactericide values, it is great to add to your cleaning products to help kill germs and prevent being ill at all. Diffusing Lavender Essential Oil into the air and/or burning natural Lavender candles can also help kill the germs and viruses in the air that you breathe in.

Can you guess? I just can't say enough good about this essential oil! For some excellent Lavender Recipes, visit:

I can't wait to try some of those recipes! I think a salad dressing would be fantastic! 
 May this Pharmacy Friday find you well!


NOTE: This post is for informative purposes ONLY. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease or illness. If you are ill, or think you are ill, it is advised that you see your health care provider.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

An Adorable Nativity Pattern - Knitted

I just wanted to take a moment to let you know that over at Natural Suburbia, she has created the most adorable, rusticly simple, knitted Nativity Pattern. I absolutely love it!

She is having a giveaway for a couple of the patterns, so if you leave her a comment, you will be entered into her giveaway. Click on the name of her blog in the first sentence of this post and it will take you to the giveaway page. I wish I had that pattern right now. I would be setting the project I am working on aside, dragging out some more yarn and diving right into it.

TIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Saving Your Celery

  Celery... I use a LOT of it throughout the winter, but I grumble every time I have to buy it because it seems to just get higher and higher. Around Thanksgiving, everyone seems to have a great sale on it at unbelievably low prices. I even found it this year for only 49 cents! Sure wish I had remembered to go back and get some more.

But, as I am sure so many of you can relate to, you buy it, usually buy extra when it is on sale that cheap, but often times don't get it all used up before it goes bad, or have lots leftover from Thanksgiving because you over estimated how much you needed. Then the price goes back up and you kick yourself for letting it go bad and it wasted money. So... what to do?

I like to freeze some up when I find a super sale on fresh celery. And sometimes I just need one little stalk and won't need any more for awhile and will freeze it so the rest isn't wasted. I use it all winter long in soups, stews, casseroles, etc. And when I am in a hurry, it is so handy to have it already cut up and ready to drop in the cooking pot or suate pan!

Just chop it up into uniform-sized pieces, whatever size you like to use in your recipes, then place in ziplock bags in recipe-size portions. I like to use the Snack Size zipper bags, and a few sandwich size bags for larger recipes. These don't have to be freezer bags. Then place all of your smaller zipper bags into a LARGE, freezer, zipper bag and freeze all (the large one does need to be a freezer bag). This helps your celery to keep in the freezer much longer.

Buy buying this time of the year when you can get it on a Super Sale, and taking just a little time to put it up for your winter cooking, you can save a considerable amount of money over the course of the winter, not to mention chopping time later on, as it takes much less time to do it all at once than it does to drag out that chopping board and everything else to chop some up each and every time you are making a pot of  soup, stew or casserole. Thank you for taking the time to read our money and time saving post! 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Shop Small Saturday - 2012

Get out tomorrow (Saturday) and support your Small Businesses during Shop Small Saturday!
 The Small Business owner is what this country was built on!

For more information, visit: Shop Small Saturday

For those of you in the Oklahoma area, The Flea Market where my little shop is located is:

Okay Flea Market
6931 N. York St. at Okay on the Verdigris River
Okay, OK 74446
Come on out and Shop with us!!! We are having a BIG sale!

If you can shop handmade, recycle, repurpose, reuse, that is even better! It helps the Small Business owner while protecting our Earth at the same time.

Have a Great Day!!!




PHARMACY FRIDAY - Tasty Tea for Indigestion

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and, as always on a holiday, I ate waaaayyyy too much! I also ate many things that this body hasn't eaten in a very long time (haven't eaten due to trying to reduce the chemicals in my diet).

It was all sooo good! But in no time, I was miserable! My tummy felt like a bloated dog tick and it began to hurt. By the time I left to go home (well after dark) my tummy was hurting really badly, all the way up into my rib cage, and I had indigestion so bad I was beginning to get a little nervous. At best, it was going to be hard to sleep. So I decided that the minute I got home, I was going to have to make myself a cup of  my special tea.

This tea is great for relieving indigestion! Each of the ingredients in it (well, except for the water) aids in alleviating indigestion, and the unique blend of them all works super! At least, it does for me. Every individual may have different results. 

The moment I got home, I tossed everything into a pot, put it on to steep, and by the time I got to a stopping place, it was ready. Although it sounds kind of strange, it is actually pretty yummy and very enjoyable to drink. As I began to sip it, in no time all  that built-up gas was bubbling up and out. And now, I am feeling great relief and getting ready to head for bed. With just one cup of tea, I went from thinking I would be laying awake staring at the ceiling all night (actually, sitting up because laying down would have been even worse) to looking forward to a good night's sleep.  Here is my recipe. Be sure and also read the notes that follow:

Indigestion Relief Tea
  • The amount of water it takes to fill your favorite cup
  • About 1 Tablespoon Molasses
  • About 1 to 1 1/2 tsp raw honey
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (all natural with the mother)
  •  1 to 2 small sprigs of your favorite fresh mint (can also use dried mint/mint tea bag)
Place all ingredients into a cooking pot, allowing a little room for simmering. Bring to a simmer and simmer gently for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Remove from heat and place lid on pot of tea. Let steep for at least 10 minutes, longer if desired. Drink while hot, but not so hot as to burn.

This stuff is great! It tastes good and, for me, it works really well, giving me much soothing relief. I have not had to use any antacids since I began using this.  I hope it helps you, too.

NOTE:  The amounts of the ingredients in this recipe are very flexible. You can add or subtract the amount each of the ingredients to suit your personal taste.
Disclaimer - The information provided in this post is for informative purposes only. This post is in no way intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease, illness or condition. Consult your local health care provider if you think your condition might be serious.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

HAPPY THANKSGIVING - 2012

FROM ALL OF US AT

TWO FARMS ONE

WE WOULD LIKE TO WISH YOU THE 

SAFEST, HAPPIEST, AND MOST BLESSING FILLED

THANKSGIVING YOU HAVE EVER HAD!!!


HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

AND TO THOSE OF YOU OUTSIDE OF THE US

HAVE A VERY BLESSING FILLED DAY!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

(DF) FIRST ATTEMPT AT MAKING CHEESE WITHOUT ANIMAL RENNET

I began making cheese several years ago.  At the time, I was living off-grid and had a couple of good milk goats who were giving an abundance of milk, so I really needed a way to preserve the milk without refrigeration.  My sister had tried her hand at cheese making and bought a fairly large supply of rennet, which she passed on to me.  Yes, much to the dismay of a few vegetarian friends, it was animal rennet.

Over the years, I made some good cheese and learned a great deal about cheese making, mostly through trial and error.  Experience is, after all, the best teacher.  I always intended to try making cheese using local wild plants to set the curd, thistle being my first consideration.

Several sources insisted it was a difficult process and only certain species of thistle could be used, while other sources implied that almost any thistle could be used.  The main point of agreement was the part of the plant used, a decoction of the dried bloom.

During this past summer, with the supply of rennet running low, I decided to experiment with thistle.  I know it would be easier and maybe better to just find a good recipe, but it is my nature to experiment.  So off I went to find thistle blooms.  By late summer, the particular plant was quite obvious.  A fine specimen of tall thistle, Cirsium altissimum was growing and putting on blooms in my somewhat overgrown front yard.  This is likely the most abundant species of thistle native to the area, and having often gathered the young leaves as a part of the wild greens mix that I pick in the spring, I knew it wasn't toxic.  Just before the blooms opened, I harvested several and dried them for future use.

Last week, with my daughter being too busy to spend much time at my house (my daughter usually drinks up most of the milk), the milk supply built up enough that some cheese simply had to be made.  After bringing a pint of water with a large bloom in it to a strong boil then letting it simmer for a little while, I turned off the fire, put on the lid and let the decoction steep overnight so it would hopefully be plenty strong before straining it into a clean jar next morning.  The yield was about 1 1/2 cups.

By mid morning, I heated a gallon of the milk and added about a half cup of the decoction, stirred it in and went about my business, fully expecting to come back in a couple of hours to very nice, firm curds.  I found no such thing.  In disappointment, I reheated the milk and added another half cup, stirred it in and went about my business.  A couple of hours later, the results were the same.  Now you must understand that I am not always quick to take the hint.  A third time, I heated the milk and added the rest of the thistle decotion, and once again, went about my business.  Once again, no curds.  By bedtime, still no curds, so I left it sitting out with full intentions of giving the chickens a treat of bread and milk in the morning.

Chicken feeding time came around and what do you suppose I found in the cheese making pot?  I had a pot full of curd/  This was not the nice firm curd I had hoped for but a very light fluffy curd.  Considering that soft curd is better than no curd, I strained off the whey and squeezed a bit.  .

Yes, it was cheese and a pretty decent yield, though not the nice firm cheese you can press, certainly not the beginnings of cheddar, colby or even mozzarella.  Instead, it strongly resembled a pretty decent ricotta in appearance, texture and flavor.  Ricotta is not my favorite but it does certainly have a place and I can hardly wait to see how well it works in lasagna (Anna will have to make it though as lasagna is not my best dish).  There is also the excitement of being independent of the rennet supplier. 

Now, with my first cheese without animal rennet turning out to be something resembling cheese, I can hardly wait to improve on it.  Some nice, firm pressing cheese would be nice.  Any information or advice is certainly welcome.


WORDLESS WEDNESDAY - 11/21

Dave

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

TIGHTIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Don't Toss Those Turkey Bones!

Turkey Carcass Soup
That wonderful, Thankfulness filled, Turkey Day is almost upon us... just two more days. All over the USA, more turkeys than I could possibly count are sitting in the bottom of refrigerators thawing out, waiting to be deliciously smoked - roasted - fried - or cooked any number of other interesting ways.

When that anxiously awaited Thanksgiving meal time arrives, that multitude of turkeys all gets carved and the serving platters filled. As those platters of sliced turkey empty, the remainder of the turkey is pulled off of the bone and served as guests continue to stuff their already bulging tummies with even more tasty turkey.

But what happens next in most households is downright sinful! Most people toss that empty carcass and those bones away! Ugh! What a waste! Those bones may 'look' empty, but there is still far more to them than the average person would think.

Place all of those bones into a large kettle and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for at least an hour or so. With a slotted spoon, remove bones to another pan or tray to cool. When you examine those bones, you will be amazed to learn that there was still quite a bit of turkey left on them. It easily turns loose after it has been simmered for awhile. What is left in the pot is a wonderfully large amount of turkey soup stock that can be used in a multitude of ways.

My favorite thing to do with all of this is to make soup. I remove all of that turkey that turned loose of the bone during simmering and add it back into the stock pot with a mix of vegetables  and spices - whatever yo have on hand.... simmer some more, add cooked noodles, and it is the most wonderful soup! At this point, the bones can finally be sent to the compost pile.

That turkey broth can be used for so many other things, too. It can be used to make gravy, mashed potatoes, rice .... the possibilities are endless! Can you believe people throw all that yummy food-still-to-come away after the turkey has been taken off the bone? What an enormous loss of some very delicious, nearly 'free' food. By adding your own homegrown vegetables, it could very well be a free pot of soup from something that is ordinarily tossed out. It is a great place to use up all those veggies that are beginning to get bad spots in them and need to be cut up into something. You know, there is only one of this kind, and one of that kind.... not enough of each kind to really do anything with? But by tossing them all into the turkey bone broth pot, they all blend together wonderfully!

If you have any additional good uses for turkey bones after all of the turkey has been pulled off of them, we would love to hear them! Just leave your suggestions, ideas and uses in the comments below.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!



Friday, November 16, 2012

PHARMACY FRIDAY - Mullein for Bronchitis

For many, MANY years now, I have dealt with chronic bronchitis. This time of year is when it really begins to flair up. I have had to take many synthetic medications over the years for it and I have really started worrying about their side effects and what they might be doing to my body.  And then sometimes they still don't work and I end up with a bout of pneumonia. No fun!

So I have started looking more and more into natural bronchitis remedies. When I learned that this beautiful plant growing wild in my yard was a great remedy for bronchitis, I got excited! I love these plants. They are absolutely beautiful! And I love to run my hands over the soft, fuzzy leaves. It was also interesting to learn that there are several ways that it can be used. Dave and I have each tried a different way, each with great results.

Once upon a time, Mullein was extensively used throughout North America and the European countries to relieve respiratory ailments. It really bothers me that, as I read about herbal remedies, I consistently read things like "they were once widely used" ... meaning we have now gotten lax and want to simply pop a synthetic pill because it is so much easier. It certainly isn't better for our bodies, though.

The flowers and the leaves of the Mullein plant are both used, either fresh or dried. (Do not use the seeds as they are toxic in some Mullein varieties.) One very effective way (the one I have tried) is to simmer some Mullein in a pot of water, then cover your head with a clean towel, lean over the steaming pot and breathe in. Be very careful so as not to burn yourself! For me, this really opened me up.

Another method claimed to be very effective for bronchitis, is to dry the Mullein leaves, then smoke them as you would tobacco to open the bronchial tubes. I have never smoked, so I have not tried this, but sometimes, when I get so congested, the consideration crosses my mind.

One more great method is to make a tea to drink. This is done by pouring boiling water over fresh or dried Mullein leaves. MAKE SURE YOU STRAIN IT thoroughly through a fine strainer before you drink it! The tiny fibers on the Mullein leaves are very irritating. It tastes good, too, but sweetening with a little honey makes it taste even better and may even add to its effectiveness.

Here is some more great information at Livestrong on using Mullein one of the above ways.

Around here, Mullein grows very well in the spring, then dies out in the summer. Then again in the Fall it often comes back up. I seem to have a good supply of it growing right now. I hope our recent freezing temps haven't harmed it, as I would like to put some away for use throughout the winter.

You can find more great information for using Mullein as a natural bronchitis remedy at the following links:


Now, to figure out if I can use it on this congested, snoring cat sitting here by me as I type. If you have every used Mullein as an herbal remedy, we would love to hear about your experience!

Disclaimer: Please remember, these posts are for informative purposes, only and the opinions expressed are our own. The information here is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease or illness. It is always a good idea to check with your health care provider before beginning any kind of new remedy/treatment.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Followed Blogs Disappearing

I realized today that some of the blogs that we follow and have listed/linked to on our site, have disappeared. I know one was due to it having been moved to another platform, but still, I don't think the address changed so it should have still been up. As for the rest, I have no idea what happened. WE HAVE NOT REMOVED ANY BLOGS FROM OUR FOLLOWING LIST!

In my hustle and bustle of late, jumping on here for a quick few minutes (when I have them) and back off, I had wondered why I hadn't seen any posts from a couple of people in awhile. I had just assumed that they, too, had gotten pretty busy. But today I had a few minutes to catch up just a little on some blog reading and that is when I noticed that they weren't there at all. I am now trying to re-add everyone, so if you knew that your blog had been listed at the bottom of our page as blogs that we follow, or that we signed up to follow on your site and you aren't there now, PLEASE LET US KNOW!  I truly hope that I don't miss getting anyone back on here. Thank you soooo much for your patience, and I hope whatever 'glitch' caused this never happens again.

Have A Great Day! 


TIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Nearly Free Dog Treats

 I like to spoil my dogs, and give them treats when they are being really good. I also give them treats to train them with, to encourage them to be good, and just because I love them and enjoy watching them enjoy their treats so much. But with the number of dogs I have ended up with, and the majority of them are large, buying that many dog treats on a regular basis just isn't possible. Plus, many of those store bought dog treats have stuff in them that I don't want to feed my dogs.

You can make some pretty tasty dog treats simply out of stale bread and a little of that frying grease that you were getting ready to toss out. Any kind of old bread will do (so long as it is just stale and isn't molded). Our local discount bread store often has what they call "feed bread" for sale. It is bread that is outdated far enough that they aren't allowed to sell it for human consumption, but it isn't molded yet. A bag of it usually has from 4 to 6 loaves of bread in it for $1. Lately they have had a big surplus of it and most of it has had 6 loaves in it.  Let me tell you, you can get a LOT of dog treats out of 6 loaves of bread!

You can also use slices of homemade bread if you actually have any that has dried out beyond use. Stale hamburger buns, old biscuits,donuts, hot rolls, anything of the like can be used.

You will also need some 'tasty' fat. The best thing to use (for your little fur ball's favorite flavor) is that grease you have been frying your meat in and you just don't dare use it again but really don't want to throw it away. You can also use butter (a little more costly), fat that you have skimmed off of soup, or any kind of meat drippings.

Preheat your oven to about 350 F. Lay your bread slices out on a cookie sheet. If you are using burger buns, hot dog buns, rolls, etc, cut them in half and lay them out flat. If your fat is solid and not liquid, melt it in a small pan before your next step. With a basting brush, lightly brush the top of each bread slice with the fat of your choice. A little garlic powder can also be sprinkled on at this time if you (or your dog) likes, but that is optional. Cut each bread slice into the right sizes for your dog to eat. My dogs like them cut into long strips. Spread them out evenly around on the cookie sheet, making sure there is air space around each one.

Place the pan of bread slices in the preheated oven. Bake for about 5 minutes, to get them started drying, then turn the oven down to about 250 F. Bake until they are completely dry and no moisture is left. Be sure and check on them often to prevent burning. When I think they are done. I turn the oven off and let they stay until all is cool to be sure no moisture is left in them. When completely cooled, store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Feed to your dog as a treat as desired. Mine love them! They not only like the flavor, but they love the type of crunch these treats provide. Oh, and my cats love them, too!

Anytime you have a little bit of grease/fat that you would normally toss out, put it in a container and into the freezer to save for when you also have some old bread and then time to make your pet some tasty, and nearly free, treats!

Friday, November 9, 2012

PHARMACY FRIDAY - Wintergreen, Good or Bad?

WINTERGREEN . . . . . . . That wonderful, minty, tasty, aromatic herb! My best memory of it is in those little pink, round candy lozenges. I use to eat those things by the fistfuls when I was a kid. And wintergreen chewing gum was some of the best!(remember Teaberry gum?)  It is, by far, one of my all-time favorite candy flavorings.  But is it safe?

Awhile back I began hearing that it might not be so safe, that it should only be consumed in moderate amounts. Then I heard that it should only be consumed in very small amounts. Then I heard it shouldn't be consumed at all. Then I began hearing of people dying from overdosing on Wintergreen essential oil!!! And those reports are growing. So the question remains, is it safe to use at all?
There are a lot of different factors that figure into the answer to that question. It will be different for each person. Because I used it in some of the skin care products that I make, I have since heavily researched it. From the multitude of research that I have read, it appears that it is safe to use in small amounts, and even very beneficial . . . .  but in large amounts, it is easy to overdose on, causing damage to the liver and even death in extreme cases.
On the downside, Wintergreen essential oil, if used in large amounts, or even small amounts for extended periods of time, can cause serious damage to the liver and even death. Because the component in Wintergreen that is the culprit (methyl salicylate) is also so closely similar to the active ingredient in aspirin, people taking aspirin or aspirin based products can overdose on Wintergreen even more quickly and easily.

Often times, people don't even realize how much Wintergreen essential oil they are ingesting into their bodies. One of the easiest ways to overdose is with those soothing sports/joint creams that contain Wintergreen essential oil. Dancers, athletes, and the arthritic elderly alike use a lot of those soothing joint creams. Keeping in mind that your skin is the largest organ of your body and everything that goes on it, also goes into your body, if you are using a joint cream that contains Wintergreen essential oil, as you rub it on, that wintergreen goes right on inside, right into your blood stream. Sadly, there have been actual cases of athletes dying from overuse of sports creams. (That is a link to a case reported on Fox News awhile back). Massage therapists can also unknowingly absorb far too much of the volatile oil with repeated use on their clients, of massage products that contain it.

Here is also some more good reading on the subject at aromaticsage.com

On the POSITIVE side . . . . . . a very small amount of Wintergreen essential oil on occasional use can be of great benefit! It is a wonderful pain reliever for a variety of joint pains. Used only occasionally and in small amounts, it is very beneficial and generally safe. It should; however, be used only in localized areas and not in large areas or over the entire body.

Wintergreen essential oil, like aspirin, can help reduce swelling, relieves aches, and reduces body temperatures. It can also help relieve nerve pain, relieve sore throats (such as in those little pink candy lozenges) and makes a great breath freshener. It DOES have many great and beneficial uses. Just be sure and read all of your labels, be aware of other items you might be using that may contain aspirin or Wintergreen, use only occasionally and in small amounts, and it might also be wise to check with your health care provider before using, especially if you are planning on using Wintergreen on a regular basis. Wintergreen essential oil is cumulative in your system, and although it does have many benefits, it isn't for everyone.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

TIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Milk Carton Uses

      So many people don't stop to realize that, not only are they paying lots of money for that product they are using, but they are also paying quite a bit of money for the package that it is in. Sometimes, more of what we spend on an item may actually go for the packaging than for what is in it!

Most people use up a product, then toss the packaging in the trash without giving it a second thought. But what if I took you to the store, had you purchase a shopping cart full of just packaging, such as boxes, nice glass bottles, plastic containers with tight fitting snap on lids, etc.... you paid for them all, then I took you over to the dumpster and said, "Now toss them all in the trash!"  You would think I was nuts, wouldn't you? Well, I think some people are nuts for throwing away some of the packaging they throw away. For a better perspective of what portion of a product you are spending on your packaging, a visit to Uline might help. Go through their prices, add up a weeks worth of packaging that you would normally toss, and see how much money you are literally throwing into the trash each week. 

There are many ways to save money on packaging, and I will get to some more of those in later posts, but today, I am going to be talking about repurposing some of those packages, namely, milk jugs. That is a lot of good, sturdy plastic to be throwing away! I have somewhat of a system I use for re-purposing mine. I start by rinsing mine out really well.

Their first purpose is as water jugs. Periodically, I have to haul quite a bit of water here and there around the farm (especially during this past year's drought), so they get a lot of use as water jugs. Once they spring a leak, they have other uses.

I then cut the jugs in half through their middle (jug standing upright, horizontal cut through the middle). If the leak is in the top portion of the carton and the bottom is still in tact, the bottom gets used to put under plants to hold water for them. They sometimes also get used as pet food dishes.  Then the top is set aside to use as a scoop. For scooping dry ingredients, it doesn't matter if it has a small leak.

If the leak is in the bottom of the jug, I then use the bottom as a planter, to start veggies in for the garden. Often times I even add additional little drainage holes. The top (without any leaks) then makes a great funnel with the lid taken off.

If I start having too many of these building up, or too many of one half, I cut them into strips. I write on these strips with permanent marker and use them to label my garden plants and herbs.

There are so many uses for empty, plastic milk cartons that I couldn't even begin to list them all here, but we would love it if you would share in the comments, your ideas for recycling/re-purposing plastic milk jugs. This also includes plastic gallon water jugs, as well, and any other plastic gallon jugs. Oh, yes, sometimes I pour up my homemade liquid laundry soap into them.  The reuses are endless! Of course, they could also be completely eliminated by raising our own milk.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

(DF) PATCHED PUMPKIN UPDATE!!!!

As you can see, the patch evolved from wax and gauze to blue duck tape with peace signs. Please don't ask why I have such tape, as it is a long story, and complicated.  Anyway, this picture was taken in preparation for picking the pumpkin late last week just ahead of our first serious freeze of the season.  With the poor little patched pumpkin all grown up and a freeze coming, the time was right and the patch had worked at least well enough for the damaged pumpkin to mature.  So we got a good pumpkin for the holidays, though with a bit more effort than the standard.  RIGHT???

NOT SO FAST!!!  Things aren't always as they appear.  I knew that with the pumpkin's injury, it wouldn't likely keep as long as normal.  My full intent was to open it up, take the seeds and cook the flesh for pies.  Who knows, I might have even canned a couple of quarts for later in the winter, or experimented with drying some.  No such luck.  With work, searching for a hay source, unexpected funerals and countless other delays, Friday rolled around with this fine fellow still on the kitchen floor.  It was still fine and seemed solid Friday afternoon, and I went to Anna's  with the intent to set the pumpkin as a priority for early in the week.  Returning home this afternoon, I immediately smelled something amiss.  Yes, our fair, peaceful friend had leaked rotten pumpkin juice all over the kitchen floor. 

After grabbing towels to contain the mess, I found the large stock pot and began filling it with chunks of yellow stench.  Needless to say, I was not happy with this situation, but maybe there could be a somewhat brighter side to it.  I began feeling through the yellow goo for seeds.  Believe it or not, I found quite a few solid, fully mature seeds, which I truly hope are viable. 

In the end, the mess is cleaned up, the chickens were extremely enthusiastic about the remains and there are seeds of hope for a future season.  Though it would be nice to have a pie from our own pumpkin this year, there are other pumpkins available, so no need to complain.

Friday, November 2, 2012

PHARMACY FRIDAY - Cayenne in my Hot Cocoa

Believe me, it is better than you think!

Cayenne pepper is a great remedy for a variety of ails, but the one I use it for most is my joint pain. When I first heard about this, I was skeptical and pushed it to the back of my mind.

Next, I came across some hot chocolate recipes that called for cayenne pepper. My first thought was - "yuck!" But then I kept coming across recipes and hot chocolate mixes with cayenne and became more curious. Yet, once again, I pushed to the back of my mind.

Last winter, as the cold set in, my arthritis pain grew a little more than the year before. Taking so many tylenol starts getting kind of scary. Then I remembered about the Cayenne Pepper for joint pain relief, and that it was suppose to be good in Hot Chocolate, something of which I drink a lot of in the winter. So... I decided to try it.

Gosh, was it ever good! It blends in perfectly with the chocolate, each ingredient enhancing the other. The chocolate tames the heat of the cayenne and the cayenne enhances the chocolaty flavor. I put anywhere from 3 to 7 dashes of powdered cayenne pepper in my bedtime hot chocolate and, much to my amazement, I get an enormous amount of pain relief as I sleep. The warmth of it also warms me up a bit on those frosty cold winter nights.

If you would like to know more about how this works, here is some more great information on the subject at LiveStrong.  Give it a try. You will be pleasantly surprised at how well it works AND how great it tastes. It doesn't have the sharp, hot bite that I thought it would. It simply, slowly warms you up. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

(D♥A) A Busy October

Whew! Have Dave and I ever been busy! Between broken computers (yes, sometimes Dave's has been down, too), the extreme heat of the summer, heavy drought, and a handful of other time consumers, Dave and I just haven't managed to find the time to write. Odd thing is, it is during those times that you actually have the most to write about!

Throughout the month of October, Dave worked an additional part-time job on the weekends, in addition to his regular full-time job. (Plus, there was all the ordinary farm stuff to take care of at Dave's Farm, too.) But the good part in all of that was that the part-time job was not far from Anna's Farm, so mixed in there, we got to spend a little bit more time together. Granted, we were both far too tired to make good use of the time, but we really enjoyed getting to spend some wind down time together. (It will be so much nicer when we eventually get both farms completely combined!)

One Friday night, a few weeks ago, we sat out in my front yard (Anna's Farm) and watched the sky as a storm rolled in. Fortunately that storm never hit (because it looked like it was pretty viscous), but we really enjoyed watching (together) it rolling in and back out. We were both exhausted, and I had spent the day getting ready for the flea market the next day, so it was a very enjoyably, relaxing and calming evening. 


But the next morning, the rains did come, the flea market was closed, and we took advantage and caught up on some much needed sleep (which we could both, once again, use some more of, now). And oh, how we have needed the rain! The Fall rains came and pulled us out of the drought, but it is beginning to get dry again. It seems so strange talking to our friends and family over in the New York area, and listen to them talking about all of the heavy flooding and extreme devastation, while we are standing here looking at everything around us beginning to wilt back down again (everything that hasn't frozen, that is).

We hope that life is finding you all well and we are doing our best to get back on here regularly, posting and catching up on all of the blogs we follow. We miss you all!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

TIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Cheaper Isn't Always Cheaper

Coffee Soap
   Now that it has cooled off, I have gotten back into making some soaps. Recently I made some Coffee Soap and took it out to the flea market to sell. As I was explaining about it to one of the other curious vendors, I told her that I hadn't scrimped any on the coffee that I used in it. I said that I had gotten a really good quality, strong coffee to make the soap with. I didn't get the absolute most expensive coffee, but it certainly wasn't the cheapest, nor even mid-range, either.

To my shock the woman started yelling at me, "Anna! Why on Earth didn't you get the cheapest coffee?! I would have gotten the cheapest I could have found if I was just putting it in soap!"  She really let me know how terrible she thought it was that I put a a few cents extra into my batch of soap. But here is how I figured it....

When all the calculations were said and done, using the much better quality coffee only added about another 25 to 30 cents to my entire batch of soap. If I am selling in competition with other people that make coffee soap, I certainly want mine to be the one that sells. If I use the cheapest coffee there is out there, my soap won't look as dark and pretty, and it won't remove odors nearly so well from hands, but my soap won't cost as much to make, giving me a better profit margin. But then if my competition spends the few cents more and uses the better quality coffee in their soap, their soap will look much more attractive, work much better and sell MUCH faster. The end result? I will be left with an entire batch of soap that won't sell, which means absolutely NO profit and  I will be out quite a bit of money that I can't recoup.... far, far, FAR more money than the price difference between the cheap coffee and the top quality coffee. But the woman could not understand this. She thought I was nuts for putting such a good quality coffee in SOAP. So cheaper isn't always cheaper.

Now I will admit that, initially, we did end up spending a little extra. You see, Dave and I decided we needed to try the coffee before we started selling the soaps made out of it. It was so good that, before we knew it, we had drank it all and had to go get more to make soap with! Fortunately it was the kind you get by the pound and grind fresh so we were able to just get a little at a time.

This same concept, Cheaper isn't always Cheaper, can be applied to so many things that you purchase on a regular basis. Paper towels are an excellent example. That package that is just $1 is ever so tempting, especially when the other package is $2.50.  Sometimes the cheaper package may actually be the better buy, but you will usually find that, when you figure in the number of plies, the number of sheets per roll, the thickness of each sheet, and the total square feet of each roll... that cheaper package may actually end up costing quite a bit more by the time you buy enough of it to equal the same amount that is in the more costly package.

So the gist of this post is READ THOSE LABELS!  Take the time to break down the costs and do some comparisons. The long-term savings could be enormous! Sometimes, the cheapest item isn't the cheapest for your needs.

We would love to hear examples of similar examples you have run into on this topic.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

(D♥A) Our Blog Turns ONE!!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US!!!!

Can you believe it?! Our blog is already ONE YEAR OLD!  The time has gone by so fast. We are having so much fun writing this blog. And YOU, our readers, are what makes it so much fun. It wouldn't be any fun just writing into cyber space.

We want to extend a VERY BIG THANK YOU to ALL of our many, wonderful readers from all over the world. THANK YOU!!! Without you, we would not have a blog. We want you to know that you are truly appreciated!

And we want to extend an extra special THANK YOU to our readers that interact on our blog. It is you that gives us that extra dab of eagerness to keep coming back to write more. It is your interaction that lets us know what is working and where we need to make improvements. Your interaction makes our blog better!

THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!!!

We love and appreciate you ALL and look forward to another great year of blogging! Have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

(AF) Those Beautiful, Wonderful Little Green Bugs!!!

 It has been a most hot and dry Spring and Summer! We have struggled just to keep a few plants alive. Most died and very few produced. Any we did get to produce we pretty much had to hand pollinate as it was even too hot for anything but the squash bugs to survive.

Now Fall has come, bringing in the Fall rains and cooler weather, which has caused what plants we managed to save (and the ones we took a gamble on and planted late) to jump into fast growth mode. Everything seems to be growing at top speed, now, and bursting into bloom. Here at Annas Farm, the blooming Perilla Mint has attracted the honey bees, which also mosey over to the veggies to pollinate them.  In addition to the bees, some kind of little, black-spotted, green bug has moved in by the hundreds! I have not seen many of them before, so I don't know what they are, but what I do know is that they are doing a WONDERFUL job of pollinating my veggies, especially my squash! They don't appear to be eating any of my plants/leaves, just working hard pollinating. They are working so hard pollinating, that I wish I could give them some kind of treat or reward because they are saving me LOTS of time, time that I had been spending each morning hand-pollinating my squash in an effort to get a few to eat this year. Oh, and that pic above is of an Okra leaf. They are busy working away there, too.

Here is a pic of my Cocozelle Zucchini.  It isn't often that a male and female bloom are that closely together.


And here are those wonderful, little green bugs hard at work to pollinate our squash.




Isn't nature wonderful?! If anyone knows what these little bugs are called we would love to know, or even hear what you think or suggest they might be.  And hopefully, in a few days, we will be able to share with you what that little squash looks like on our plates!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

TIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Conserving Energy

It is that time of year, again, where we are changing seasons and going quickly from one temperature range to another. I see so many people that seem to think they have to be totally "comfortable" at ALL times. They seem to always have either their air conditioning or their heater on, in their homes and in their vehicles. I have one relative that I have often times seen run both in the same day to keep that temperature a 'constant comfortable', then complain about the bill when it comes in. Personally, I don't even think this is healthy! (the constantly even temp nor the bill)

Personally, I don't like BIG utility bills. I find them far more uncomfortable than the temperature being a little cool or warm. I prefer to use other methods, other than turning on those heating and cooling units, to combat the slightly changing temperatures. If it is a little cool, I simply switch to a long sleeve shirt or visa versa. If the house gets a little warm, open a window ..... cool, close them. If it is a little more than slightly chilly I bake something, like bread. The energy used serves two purposes instead of one and the resulting heat usually lasts a long while if you don't run in and out of the house too much.

This week it has been very nice. We had rain come through last weekend and cooled things down a bit. It is sunny in the middle of the day and only slightly warm, so I turn on a small fan for about an hour or so. It circulates the air, cools it down, and it is nice in here the rest of the day. But by the end of this week, a much bigger cool down is expected. The night time temps are predicted to go down in the low 40s, possibly even upper 30s (F) with one day only rising up into the mid 50s (F). Am I going to turn on my heat? Absolutely not! What will I do? Plan ahead.

A couple of days before the predicted temperature drop, while it is still warm, I will be shutting down my house. During the warmest part of the day I will shut all of my doors and windows that have been open the past week to circulate the fresh, fall air throughout the house. Yes, it will get a little warm inside for a day or two, but it won't be unbearable. And I am usually outside during the heat of the day, anyway, doing work in the yard or with critters. Then at night, when it starts to get chilly and I come inside, the warm air that was trapped in the house will feel wonderful! Most of my house is pretty well insulated, so by shutting it down while it is warm inside and out, it will hold the warmth in. Then when the temperature makes that big drop outside, it will stay nice and warm inside for several days, no heater needed!

This time of year, when we have a cold front come through, it usually only lasts for a few days before warming right back up. By using this process, my house usually stays warm for several days. If it gets a little chilly before the next warm-up, I simply put on warmer clothes and stay very comfortable. Catching up on some physically exerting chore that I had been putting off warms me up pretty good, too. I also plan on spending some of that time to cook up some meals ahead. All that cooking warms up the house and then when it is warm again, I can simply heat up my meals in the microwave and not heat up the house on the warm days, resulting in no need to cool the house down on those days. This time of year our weather is constantly changing back and forth from warm to cool to warm.... When it does get warm again, I open the house all back up.

I repeat this process over and over until the colder days of winter set in. Last year I never had to use any heat until December! It really isn't hard at all. It just takes a little planning to get started and once you adjust to the routine, it becomes second nature. Then in the Spring, I reverse the entire process. Yes, before the hard cold of Winter, and the high heat of Summer, some days I may get just a little uncomfortable, but as I said, it is short-lived and not nearly as uncomfortable as trying to pay those high utility bills makes me! And most importantly, it keeps us much more acclimated to our changing environment. Should the day come that the grids go down (and they will), I will be able to stand the ever changing temps (and keep on going smoothly about my daily work) far better than everyone that keeps pushing those little heating/cooling unit buttons every single time the temperature changes a degree or two.

How do you handle the fluctuating temperature changes during the changing of the seasons?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

(DF) PATCHING THE PUMPKIN

As you can see, the pumpkin which I mentioned in previous posts, has grown a bit.  But wait, what is that thing on it that looks like a bandage?  It is a bandage of course.  Why a bandage?, you may ask.  Answer is that for some reason, the pumpkin which was perfectly fine last night, had somehow cracked open by this morning.  The crack was only a couple of inches long but penetrated through into the seed cavity.  Not good considering all the bugs that would love to eat on the inside and the fact that it is supposed to rain tonight, which would fill the pumpkin with water making it rot on the vine.

This pumpkin being the only one likely to reach maturity before frost, I was left with a choice.  I could harvest and salvage the pumpkin in hopes that the seeds were mature enough to save for spring, or I could try to seal it up so it might mature a bit more on the vine.  My choice is obvious.

In case you are wondering why I was not at work this morning instead of practicing emergency medicine on pumpkins, it is because after seeing the dentist yesterday and having a tooth pulled, I decided to take a day of sick leave and take it easy.  Yes, this is pertinent information on the pumpkin first aid, so back to the pumpkin.

My first thought of how to patch the pumpkin, was to use beeswax.  I have always found beeswax to be great for anything where the sealer has to remain somewhat flexible since it doesn't become brittle when cold like paraffin.  Question was of how to keep the wax from just running into the pumpkin instead of sealing over.  The answer was in the small bag of two inch square surgical sponges (aka gauze pads) that the dentist had sent home for me to hold on the former location of my tooth to stop the bleeding.  They always send too many and this was a likely use for a couple of them.  I promptly melted some beeswax in an old coffee can, dropped in the gauze, let it cool enough to be handled though still molten, and applied them to the wound.  The beeswax stuck to the pumpkin skin like it was made to do so and now, as you can see, the pumpkin appears to be protected.  We will hope it holds up long enough for the poor thing to mature.

At this point, if you are not asking why so much trouble for this particular pumpkin, I am thoroughly surprised.  Fact is that this pumpkin has a story behind it in terms of mine and Anna's working together to build a life together even while still living on separate farms.  So now for a little background.

Last fall, Anna and I were shopping at a fruit market in her area.  They had stocked up on pumpkins of all sorts, including some rather large red pumpkins, a variety I had grown in the past but lost seed of.  Anna bought a large one (about 60 pounds) to try, and for the seeds.  During the winter, the pumpkin was damaged and began to rot.  Anna managed to save some of the seeds and started some for the spring.  Between heat, drought, bugs and other critters, most did not survive.  Anna still has two or three plants and I still have two, but this pumpkin is our best chance of hanging on to the seed and for her to get to finally taste this type of pumpkin.  It would really be nice for the price of the pumpkin Anna bought last fall not to be wasted, and for us to be able to carry on this variety from that purchase would be even better.  It is truly a symbol of Anna and I working together, while separate, to bring our two farms together, and for that reason it is really an important little pumpkin.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Meet My New Granddaughter!

While I was away from here, I got a new granddaughter! She was born to my oldest daughter the first week of July. Isn't she adorable!?

Mother and daughter both had a bit of a rough time getting here, with a little trouble following, but both are doing very well, now. I am definitely the proud Grandma! (Grannie Annie, to be exact)



She was grand baby number 6, my 4th granddaughter. Then, I learned last week that grand baby number 7 is on the way! My oldest son just learned that he is going to be a daddy again (his third). Aren't grandkids terrific!

Have A Beautiful and Blessed Day!

(D♥A) Wonderful Time Together

Dave and I have not had near enough time together, lately. It seems all we have been doing is work... work.... WORK. It has taken every drop of time and energy we could muster just to try and stay ahead of the drought, which we didn't manage to always do.

But Dave and I got to spend most of Friday and Saturday together. It rained the biggest part of that time, which was wonderful in several ways. The best one was, everything at both of our farms got watered and we didn't have to spend hours on end watering. That meant more together time for us. Love Emoticons  And because of all the rain, the flea market was closed, so I couldn't open up. Yes, I could have used the sales, but on the other hand, I didn't lose any sales because anyone that would have purchased anything will probably be out next weekend. So that was even more time we got together.

We had a couple of somewhat heavy spells of rain, but most of it was a very gentle, soaking rain. After such a hot, dry summer .... extreme drought ...... it was a most BEAUTIFUL sight! We spent a lot of time sitting out in it just talking and soaking up some of the rain ourselves. Isn't it funny how most people associate a rainy day with it being a bad day, yet on that day, we thought it was one of the most beautiful days we had seen in a long time. We thoroughly enjoyed it, rain and all (especially the rain) and got to spend a lot of time doing some much needed talking and planning for our future.

Over the course of the two days we also got in some shopping time .... mostly groceries. I never knew shopping with a man could be so enjoyable! Of course we found tons of things that we badly wanted and couldn't afford, but we felt so very blessed that we were able to get what we simply needed.

We also splurged just a little on a sweet treat. I got some candy bars that were on sale. Then Dave found some chocolates in a brand that we had come across and tried last month and fell completely in love with. The brand is Sweet Obsessions and is a rare find in that it is wonderful chocolate at a very reasonable price. Last month we had tried their Milk chocolate bars and their Dark chocolate bars and they were pure HEAVEN! Some people have "our song", some have "our dance" .... well, we have "our chocolate". This one was heart shaped chocolates wrapped in golden foil. Inside the chocolate hearts was a soft, caramel-like filling infused with the smoothest coffee flavor. when you bit into one of the hearts, it was instant delicious .... then ..... the already heavenly flavor just kept growing and growing and growing, getting ever better by the second. I've never eaten a candy like it. But it was no wonder I liked it so much.... Although it is distributed here in the US, it was made in Poland. As someone that is mostly a mix of Polish/Ukrainian it was perfect for my taste buds. We will definitely be getting more of it!

Dave also got the tree cut off of my fence (my neighbor's dead tree had badly crushed my fence), patched the fence so my dogs won't get out, and cut up the tree for firewood. Isn't he terrific? We had also planned on going fishing and made it as far as getting the poles in Dave's car, but we never made it to the river. Maybe we can do that next time. There are just never enough hours to squeeze in everything that we want to do together. But we are hoping to get to go fishing soon and put away some fish for winter.

It was a most wonderful two days together and, although we get to talk often by phone throughout the day (that is, when those blasted electronic devices decide they want to work), it just isn't the same as quality, unrushed, non-working time together.   Love Ya, Dave!!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tears Of Joy!

LITERALLY

It Rained! It Rained! It Rained!   Yeeeee Haaaaawwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This afternoon the sun was shining brightly. The predicted high had been about 79° F. (I figured I would believe that when I saw it), but of course, it made it to near 90°.F. Then all of a sudden the clouds drifted in, the thunder began to deeply roll, rumble and shake the ground, then the sky opened up and the rain poured out. I can't possibly tell you what a BEAUTIFUL sight it was!!!! Great, big, giant, enormous drops of rain.... loads of them! It rained hard for a little bit, changed over to a moderate, garden variety shower, then a light, soaking drizzle for awhile after that. I don't think it could have been more perfect!

It came too late for many of my veggies, but many others are already perking up. I am hoping and praying that they aren't too far gone and that today's rain will burst most of them back into growth and production. Oh, how I want a big mess of fried okra on my plate!!! And fried zucchini, and fresh salad, and, and, and..... well, I have really missed my fresh veggies this season.

I just checked the weather and they say we have an even better chance of rain tomorrow. (happy dance, happy dance)  It will interfere with the flea market, of course, but that is OKAY. We need the rain even more and, with as badly as sales have been at the market lately, it will be far more cost effective, at this point, to miss a day for my garden to survive and produce. They even said our high tomorrow will only be 70°F! WOW!!!! After last week's 105°.F, that is an enormous drop!  Plus, varying degrees of rain chances over the next 4 days.

Maybe I will get a good mess of fresh veggies yet, this year.

I'm Back!..... Sort of

Hello, Everyone!
Gosh, have I ever missed being on here!!!! And I have especially missed yaking with all of you! I tell ya... my Internet withdrawals got pretty bad, lol.

My main computer is still not fixed. A friend on another site I frequent had told me how to repair it, but it is all kind of Greek to me. When I have some spare time (ha, ha, ha, ha.....) I will see if I can figure it out without destroying my computer. We were quoted at least $150 to $200 or more to fix it at our computer/office supply store here. So right now, that is out of the question. That guy seems to really know what he is talking about, so maybe he can talk me through it. I will need a good stretch of time to do it, though, and at the moment, time is at a premium, yet lost computer time is also lost money.

Here is what happened to my computer:
 I was on it and everything seemed to be going smoothly, but getting a little slow. I turned it off, went to work outside, then came back a little later and couldn't get online! Whatever got into it turned off my Norton 360 Virus protection, turned off my Firewall, and blocked my Internet. The computer connects to my Internet, but it won't let me pull it up and use it. My Norton 360 was about a month or less from expiring and I had been getting notifications that it was about to expire and I needed to renew it. Makes you wonder, you know it?

So I pulled out my old dinosaur of a laptop.... my Old Faithful, and that is what I am on at the moment. It is pretty old and hadn't been used in over a year, and nearly a year before that use, so you can just imagine the updates it has had to go through to be able to use it. I don't think they even make these computers any more (Lenovo). Then, during all of our high heat, I couldn't use it at all, either, as it would over heat very quickly. But, missing keys and all (c a t s), I am here now.

Logging onto the computer is a royal pain and takes awhile.... then ..... I can't just leave it on all day because 1) It overheats easily.   and 2) When it sets idle, stuff tries to download into it ... UGH! (I think that is how it happened on the other one. Gosh, do I ever miss being able to leave it on all day and just run in and type a few things as they come to me or I have a few minutes to spare.)  So just getting online each day is a big event. But at least, for now, I CAN get on. :o)

I will be back on here as much as possible, but it will get back off to a slow start. As I said, it isn't easy getting online, I have to specifically set aside time to get on and can't just run in and type something as time allows, and I have MAJOR catching up to do all over the net. I have a few other blogs besides this one that also badly needs my attention, there are several forums I am a member of that I need to catch up on, a few social network sites, and TONS of reading on all the wonderful blogs I follow. So PLEASE be patient with me as I slowly come back. Oh, and although the temps have slightly dropped, we are still in HEAVY drought and I am still trying to water, water, water, though the dying veggies is getting ahead of me. After all those mini strokes, my legs haven't held up to all the miles of walking all over my front acre trying to keep things watered. I am just really thankful that some is still alive and trying to produce now. (And I am especially thankful that I am still walking and steadily improving!)

For all those that have been following, Pharmacy Friday, Tightwad Tuesday, and Bread on Monday will be back up and going shortly. And I am not going to promise, but I am going to attempt to fill in all the missing ones, so stay tuned. I hope life has been treating you all very well and I look forward to talking with you all again. I have really missed each and every one of you, interacting with you, and sharing my stories with you.

Love and Blessings to you all!!!

Anna