Sunday, July 26, 2015

Family Outing Day

It's been a crazy couple of weeks, harvesting, canning and crafts, not to mention markets and marketing too. Did I mention we both also have full time jobs other than the farm...
So since our fuzzy kids have felt a big neglected we decided to was time to take a quick trip out to the pond. It's been too hot for much outdoor activity for them so they were ready to go!

Abbey and Kama Immediately set off  exploring.. Ness must have been in the shade.

Abbey spotted the fish and decided to wade in. She doesn't go much farther than this. So much for labs being water dogs. She is the only one who really likes to splash around, Ness is also part lab but no water for her, thank you very much. Kama is mostly Chow and he is convinced that he will melt if gotten wet. No rain, dew or bath is safe in his opinion.

I saw this while we were walking around the waters edge. I'd say this area has the dogprint stamp of Actually it's a "Cypress Knee" as we call them, they come in all shape and sizes but this was an interesting shape. Normally they are pointy and thin. I'm not sure if anyone know why Cypress trees send out these protrusions but there are all kinds of ideas from all kinds of people. 

Here's a few more picture of the area for you, we love to take the furkids out to run and play but we've been so busy lately they haven't had much of a chance. Do you have a special place for your "kids". Also I'll have an update soon the Ducklings who are not so little anymore..

If you are looking for crafts check out my other blog Everything But A Moose.

This dragonfly keep Kama busy for a while, he really wanted to sniff it (or eat it) but it was out over the water and he wouldn't chance it..

I'm always a fan of Mother Nature, can't go one way she'll try another. 
Tree falls over, that's fine it can always change directions..

I thought I might had caught a couple of the little fish that were hanging around in moss, I know they are there just can't quite see them,,

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Putting up Beets

We have had a really hot and dry start to our summer this year. We generally get a warm May and a wet June before it turns to really hot July and August. Not so this year. We totally skipped spring and ran straight headlong into summer. May was warm and June had over 20 days in a row of over 95 degree heat! July is not doing any better on the heat front and we are happy to see rain clouds, any aday but Wednesday that is since it's market day.

Having said that we generally get two plantings of Kale, Swish Chard, Bok Choi, Beets and Kolrhabi.
We did for go most of those but we did try another planting of beets, we really do go through a bunch of them. They were looking pretty rough so I decided to pull a few to see where we were. Tiny, that's they were. I had watered but not enough it seems so I decided to take a chance and see what we had and just can them.

So I should have taken a before picture to add to the between and afters, beet greens are quite pretty but it was hot and we're were all looking a bit limp by the time I was done so it was skipped.

I know that beets are one of those things you either love or hate, not much middle ground for these guys. My personal opinion is that while they are very pretty plants and roots, they smell like dirt when you cook them and that just turns me off. BUT to each their own, on that note in cause you are on the pro beet side, I'll share my grandmothers recipe with you. This one I have worked out a bit of the trial and error for you already. She was one who used a bit of this and a handful of that, seriously that's how they are written out. And they are only written out because the female grandchildren (there are only two of us) made a fuss about it. And while I'm at it let me admit that no matter how many times I watched her do it, to this day I can not duplicate her biscuits, (it's super simple I know, but maybe when I'm 80 I'll get the hang of it). I'm southern and it's seriously a crime what I can do to a biscuit.

On to beets..This is a pickled beet recipe and is done with a water bath canner. If you don't have a canner any large pot will work. You'll need one large enough to cover your jars by about an inch of water. My mother never owned a canner but used a large stock pot with a round metal rack on the bottom. Canners are cheap and easy to find if you plan on doing much canning, Check walmart and Target as well as amazon for supplies. Jar lifters and a funnel are two other items that make canning much easier than when my grandmother did it and they are widely available with other canning supplies.

 Gather your supplies,other than the beets you'll probably  have all of this on hand already.

You'll need approx:
 8lbs of beets. The smaller the better, less than 3 inches across is best. Larger beets tend to be fibrous.
1 1/2 tsp of Canning Salt.
2 Cinnamon Sticks (you can use a tablespoon powdered if you'd like)
12 Whole Cloves- about 1tsp
12 Whole Allspice Nuts - about 1 tsp
4 Cups of  White Vinegar (5% Acidity)
2 Cups of Sugar ( Splenda can be substituted if you'd like
2 Cups of Water
 4  Medium Onions- This is optional and you can use more if you're an onion fan

On to Processing 
Scrub your beets, they do grow in the ground after all. Trim the greens to an inch or so above the beet, don't cut the top completely off, the beets will "bleed out" when boiled if you do.  Next you'll place your beets in a stock pot with enough water to over them. Boil for 30 minutes or more, they should be fork tender but not soft. Dump the water and place your beets in iced water to stop the cooking process. You'll then want to trim off the tops, peel them or scrap them depending on their size and cut into slices or chunks, your preference. They should look like this:

If you're adding the onions now is the time to get them sliced and ready.

Combine the water, vinegar, salt, spices and sugar in a stock pot and bring it to a boil. Add your Beets and onions if you so chose to the mixture and simmer for 5 minutes. 

This is a great tip that I read about a while back and we use it for lots of things. Find a baby food holder, pictured in the pot below, they are sold at Target and baby supply stores. They will hold a ton of spices, are dishwasher safe and are plastic so it doesn't react to vinegar. You can also use Cheesecloth if you have that handy.

While you are simmering your beets go ahead and heat your jars, we'll be "hot packing" these beets.
Take your jars out and pack the beets only tightly in the jars. Leave a 1/2 inch headspace, generally that's the raised ring on the jar under the screw top. This is used for the expanding liquid during the canning process. After the jars are filled, go ahead and ladle in the hot liquid just enough to cover the beet and leave your headspace. Be sure to wipe your jar rims, this helps to ensure a good seal. Place your lids and screw on your rings finger tight only, don't over tighten.

Place the jars in the canner, and process in boiling water for 30 minutes for pints, if you use Quarts add 5 minutes to your processing time. If you are at higher elevations you will want to add to your time also. I think it is 5 minutes for each 3000 feet you are above sea level. You might want to double check that, we are very low here so I've not had to worry about that.

Once the processing time is up remove your jars and place them in a draft free area, we put them on a table and cover them with a towel. Be Careful they are very hot! We leave them alone for at least 8 hours up to overnight, but we listen for the POP of the lid telling us it has sealed. Give it a week or so to really soak up the flavors and then Enjoy!

 If you have a jar that doesn't seal put it in the fridge and eat over the next few weeks. Canned jars left in a dark place are good for at least a year, but I promise these won't hang around that long.

How pretty are these? I  can't wait to dig in!

Do you have a favorite family recipe you'd like to share. Post your links in the comments Please!
Thanks for stopping by, if you are interested in the crafty side of Our Greene Acre check out my other blog Everything but a Moose. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Cute Overload

As you know we are fostering four baby ducks, well Matilda the hen is doing the real work,we are just enjoying them.

They are two weeks old and I'm a bit behind with the pictures but I wanted to share their first adventure outside. She's being a really great mom, teaching them to scratch, watching nervously while they splash around and keeping them in line.

Check them out. They are super cute. Chris and E as well as Matilda would love to keep a few but we don't have a pond and I've done the kiddie pool routine before..We do not have time to do that and everything else that is going on around here. So we'll enjoy them for another couple of weeks before they move back "home" and become ducks again instead of Chickens..

You've been warned, the cuteness is almost too much to handle...

In case you missed the earlier post. this is what we started with ..

That's food in the water Matilda was teaching them to scratch and the food bowl went flying. They'd rather splash than eat anyway.. She'd rather they get out of the water!

Mom's version of a bath.. they don't understand dust baths either..

Hanging out with Mom

They got a bit dirty during mom's bath so they got one of their own. She was not a happy camper that we left her outside while they took a dip in the sink. I should have gotten a picture of her giving me the stink eye through the back door..

I have a video but I can't seem to get it to play. Hopefully I'll be able to load it and you'll be able to see how much they enjoyed their swim.

Check back for more details and fun. We're in full canning and gardening season so more of that is coming up soon too.
Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Hello World, We're here!

It's been a very busy month and I haven't totally ignored posting, I do have ideas,it's just getting the the chance to put them into words. I do have an update from last month's post Chickens are Strange.

If you remember one of our chickens, Matilda became very broody and was determined to hatch a bucket of pecans. We have friends that have ducks and while they are all about fertilizing eggs, no one was interested in the hatching part. So we pimped out  volunteered Matilda to be the incubator.

She did a great job, sat a whole 26 days in the crazy heat we've had, put up with us rubbing her every time we walked by, with cats sticking their noses in her space and you have to admit she had to have some cramped toes.

Then on Sunday we were coming back from the garden and we see this little yellow head poking out. After a couple of seconds of excitement we congratulate ourselves and of course the chicken and decide we need to get her and the peep in a better spot. I start hunting up a tote and when I get back there is another head poking out. Another round of giggling ensues, me not Chris, although he is excited.

 She's been a really good sport about the whole process, and I don't have a bit of problems getting her out of the bucket and into the tote. Que more excitement, there are two more fresh from hatching under her. She's done it, she hatched all four duck eggs!!

Yes those are little ducks and their momma chicken!

Everyone is doing great and the babies are splashing up a storm in the water dish. We decided that since she put so much effort into the hatching, it would be a good idea for her to keep them until they have feathers at least. I hate to take them away now, but they will be going back to their original family and get to be ducks, well at least two will... I think we might barter for two for Matilda. We'll see how it goes, she might be ready to see them move along in a

Be prepared for cute duckling videos or pictures at the very least coming soon..