Monday, August 29, 2016

Fox Grape Goodness

Fox Grapes washed and ready to can  
My nose told me it was time. I could smell the grapes from the front porch and knew we had to get the tractor, head to creek, and pick all that deliciousness before the birds beat us to them. Mister's tractor has the longest reach, so we took it to the creek's edge and started checking out the vines. I stepped into the front loader and UP he took me so I could peek under grape leaves and tree branches for these amazing grapes.

Grapes ready for sugar and boiling water
Within 20 minutes I had a bucketful and we were headed to the house for phase two -- washing, sorting out the bad ones, and filling jars for the canner.

Ready for the canner
I learned to make grape juice from an older woman here in the mountains. Nannie VanHoy took me under her wing and taught me so many wonderful things about local wildcrafted foods and this is certainly one of the best! The recipe is simple:

1 c. grapes, washed and stemmed
1 c. sugar (I use only 1/2 c.)
Boiling water

Put in canner and process for 10 minutes.

Done.

Now the hard part. This juice improves with age, so we usually open the first jar at Thanksgiving and mix it with club soda. Soooo good!

And, if a seal should not set... well... a little mountain wine is good for the stomach. Trust me.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Putting By


The green ones fell off while I was picking; they will ripen on the windowsill.
One of the things I most love is putting up food for the coming year. It makes me feel so safe, knowing we will have good, healthy food to eat when winter comes or we have the need for reserves. 

This year, for the first time since I've lived in this house (23 years!), I have tomatoes! In the past, they have always blighted or the tomatoes just wouldn't ripen. This year, though, I planted them where I had composted for two years with the lovely richness from the goat yard and chicken house. And, it is a little higher on the mountain than my previous garden. The plants came from a high school agriculture class a former student teaches. These plants have taken over the garden! Forgive me for not remembering the varieties; however, the fruit is either pink, yellow, and red.... Such lovely colours! 

I was staking them up every few days until they became so heavy they Just Laid Down. And have stayed that way, full of green tomatoes which seem to quickly become ripe and ready for a jar!

Just some of the salsa I've put up this year along with tomato soup.

 I have made chili, sauce, salsa, soup, veggie soup with tomatoes, plain tomatoes, pizza sauce, and tomato chutney. And still they come. Every day, I go to the garden and tip toe around the vines to collect the ripe fruits for the day's canning. And, with each jar I whisper, "One more meal!" My pantries overflow and we are now putting boxes of the fruit in the back upstairs bedroom where it is cool in the winter!

Still more jars to fill...


At least we won't risk scurvy.... 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Kiss Kiss


I am over the moon with love. I've kissed this face for a week and it has been delicious! What is it about grandbabies that makes one go all mushy?? Suddenly, every bit of my Mother discipline goes out the window -- whoosh!

Want the keys to the car? Sure! Here's gas money!

Chocolate for breakfast? Why not? It's a veggie!

Stay up until 3 a.m.? Wow! You can see the meteor shower!

Don't want a bath? Okay! You won't rot!

Good thing she is just six months old... I have a while to come to my senses...

Monday, August 15, 2016

Construction


One of my last projects for the summer was the construction of this solar melter. As bee keepers, we end up with a LOT of wax cappings from the supers. When bees have collected the nectar and put the resultant honey in the comb, they fan it with their wings until the water content is Just Right. How they do this is a mystery (isn't it wonderful?), but once it reaches that magic number, they seal it right up and move on. To "spin" the honey, which means to extract it from the foundation, we have to first crack the cap on the cell. All those little bits of wax have precious honey on them which we don't want to waste. We put some back out for the girls, but the rest we have saved with plans to put in the solar melter, thus separating the wax bits from the honey.

 The solar melter is just what it sounds like -- a passive solar collector which heats up the wax to melting, allowing the honey to run right off while the wax is caught in a netting, dried, and then used for making candles or even right back to the girls to recycle into their new foundation.


I have been longing for a solar oven, too, but they are just out of my reach. Then, I realized -- this guy has a tin insert, a glass cover, and, by all rights, should operate the same way! I am so excited to see if this will substitute for the oven! I plan on painting it black tomorrow when I get home from my first day of work (only 187 more to go!) and then, over Labor Day, give it a try out. I'll be sure to share my results!

And, just for the record: I did all the construction. I love building and using power tools, so this was an easy, quick, and very fun project. Anyone, I am convinced, could build this guy! Just do an Internet search for "solar melters" and see what pops up. Let me know if you build one, won't you? 


This little bit of sunshine was coming through the front door early this morning, creating a beautiful shadow on the floor. I was enchanted by the detail and play of light and dark and just wanted to share it.

Beauty is everywhere, isn't it? We just need eyes to see it... Have a wonderful week!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

No LZ Bees Here!

Where to start?

This is what's been going on at LZB...

Lots of canning and putting by for winter... Tomatoes, potatoes, beets, cukes, beef, chicken, broccoli, and cabbage, to list a few... I tried dehydrating tomatoes, mangoes,kiwi, cranberries, cherries, and bananas this year. To be honest, it is brain dead easy putting by and takes such a small amount of space. I caught bananas on sale at Aldi's for 22-cents a pound and couldn't resist putting up enough for banana bread through the winter!


Finished all the interior house renovation projects -- all the closets needed painting as well as a complete remodeling. When I first built the closets with my brother 22 years ago, the only shelving available was wire. I have fallen head over hills in love with Ikea's Algot closet shelving system and have redone each closet, including the pantry, with it. The cleanliness and ease of getting things in and out makes keeping house just That Much Easier for me and THAT makes me quite happy! Believe it or not, I was able to match the paint on the right using just this photo! Now, the trim matches in the bathroom! Yay!


 Keeping the farm stock has continued to be a lot of fun and not nearly as challenging now that all the fencing is complete!! This summer I had the last eight acres fenced along the creek bottom to protect the stream bank remediation project we had done over the last two years. Now, we are waiting for the watering systems to be installed since the well is in! Next spring the does will move to the bottom pasture and give their paddocks on the hillside a little rest. Piglets didn't fare well this spring due to the extreme weather conditions. Our supplier lost 14 of 17 piglets overnight due to the extreme cold. We ended up with three of the porkers and one contracted Tetanus from the castration process done before we picked him up. We assumed he had his anti-toxin prior to the castration, but he hadn't. Fortunately, the anti-toxin was administered quickly enough that he not only survived, but is the largest porker in the lot! They go to the processor in November.


And, of course, there has been needlework. Lots of it! This is a friendship quilt from blocks I received in an exchange. I thought I would love this pink fabric, but when I got it nearly set, I wasn't in love with it... so out it goes and I am working on replacing it with a fantastic lavender, which you know makes me more than happy!


Of course, we done much more, but for now, we'll just say we have been very busy bees... and I have missed writing terribly. The break has done my spirit good and helped my perspective of how I want to continue this blog.

Welcome back!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

You Don't Know Love....

First grandchild!

When I was expecting my child, a little lady at the nursing home where I was working said to me, "You THINK you know love now, but you will realize how wrong you are when  you have your child."

She was right.

I probably made my child a sort of religion. I saw everything through those new eyes and enjoyed every minute of showing this amazing person the world.

Guess what?

I learned about love again this week. This special person magically came into my life and I am so smitten that I border on stupid. Complete strangers have to admire the pictures of this little one as I declare this is the most perfect child ever created.

I have it bad.

Happy Valentine's Day! May someone love you as completely as I do this special star....

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Creating

Lots of wee ones coming these past few weeks and I have been busy with needles of all kinds getting ready for their arrival! I love making baby snugglies for lots of reasons, but the main ones are that it is a terrific way to surround them with lots of love and, frankly, because they are so much faster than a baby to make!

Here are just a few of the things I have created this month...

A jelly roll quilt..

Redwork pillows

Cabled knit baby blanket

Baby surprise jacket

Easy peasy baby hat

Crochet baby blanket
Two more baby sweaters and a baby blanket were finished, as well, but I neglected to take a picture before they went to their respective owners.... so frustrating to forget that, isn't it??

We had quite a bit of snow last week which gave me a few days of making. It was quite delicious to snuggle up with fiber, cats, and tea and just watch the snow as I puttered away. I do think retirement will be easy for me -- when that time comes!

Are you creating a lot these days? How are you spending these icy cold days?