Monday, August 31, 2009

Oh My!

The haybine repairs are working out pretty good, the pieces parts are all holding up excellent. I did get a bit of a surprise tho. The bearing cap split on me today and let the newly welded bar and wheel bearing pop out of track. I got stopped real quick and my heart about jumped out of my chest! No biggie tho, it should have been replaced but it wasn't covered by the repair moneys. Hubby wouldn't answer the phone so I had to walk some 8 miles over to a friends place and she gave me a lift home. The cap was too broke up to weld so the boy and I came up with another plan. We pieced it back together, bolted it back on, put hose clamps on it to hold the bearing in place and I cut another 20 acres before dark. All's well and I only lost 2 hours of cut time.

I gave the boy a driving lesson with the haybine, he's got some practicing to do before he can take off on his own. The right hand/left hand/clutch/steering is just a little too much for him! He'll get it tho, practice makes perfect.

The girl ran out of gas coming home from college tonight so I had to take care of that too. Hubby is still on the couch with swollen feet. Nice side effect, ye haw. Better him than me, I got too much to do!

More cutting tomorrow and maybe some raking if the humidity stays low...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Late night, busy week

I had a temporary hiccup with the computer giving me 2 days without so I haven't had a chance to respond to the new comments from my last post... I will soon tho. Turns out Microsoft sent out and update that conflicted with my Kodak Easyshare software, caused it to show a fatal error and when my anti virus updated and needed a computer reboot, Windows could not load with the looped error from the Kodak. Sweet, thanks Mr Gates, appreciate that.

So, it's been a busy weekend and lots to share. It's been cold overnight here the last 3 days, in the low 40's! Thankfully, the cantalopes don't seem to mind too much and I've been having fresh fruit for breakfast every day. The rest of the summer garden appears to be smoked tho, all but the container tomatoes. The fresh ground whole wheat made a beautiful loaf of bread with nice slivers of wheat too. I would have taken a pic of the baked bread but the kids vultured it too quick.

Hubby got a steroid shot in his elbow and we're thinking he's having some sort of side effect. The poor guy has swollen feet and legs. It looks awful. Good thing he's got a Doc appointment in the am.

I need to say a huge "thank you" to several great people that helped me to fix my haybine. You guys are great and I'm back in the hay field tomorrow. Hubby did most all of the work while I moved and restacked 200 bales of hay in the barn this weekend. I tested it this afternoon and it's all good! Just in time too, 50 acres of alfalfa await me in the morning. Thanks again you guys, you're the greatest! Is it okay if I send ya's Christmas cards this year?

I'll be in the hay field all week so farm updates will be late in coming. I hope to get right on the corn crib as soon as it's all done out there and I'll be posting pictures as well. Also, the back corn patch will need turned so I can plant the wheat I need to post about. I should have posted about it back in the spring, sorry about that, but this way you all will get it right from the start....

Oh, I found the chicken I lost. Apparently she fell off the hay bales and got stuck behind them. I found her dead as a doornail, upside down when I was restacking the hay. Well at least I know what happened to her now.

The dehydrators have been going pretty much non stop for a few weeks now, I just pulled out some herbs, sunflowers and the last of the soup beans. I've got tomatoes pulp simmering down on the stove to make sauce with, 2 wheel of traditional cheddar in the presses this evening and the second loaf of bread should be done in a few minutes....

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Prepping for the fall garden

Yesterday while I was catching cows with the neighbor(some needed doctoring) hubby ground me up some fresh wheat flour. I just thought he was saying he wanted some wheat bread. I didn't hit me then but, this morning when I was reading the blogs, Alan Caruba over at Warning Signs did a post about wheat. After I read that post, a little light came on in my head. LOL, yup, just like Wiley Coyote, hehehehe. It's time to start prepping my corn patch for a winter wheat patch. The corn patch was a first year planting and that tends to make it a rough spot. It was, the corn did not do quite as well as I had hoped. I think the constant rains in May and June contributed to that too... Now it's time to add compost, till it all in and under and plant a wheat crop to improve the soil. It's just an 80'x80' spot but it will easily produce at least 10 gallons of wheat. The best part is it won't need any tending at all and goes right thru the winter months covered in snow and ice, still green, waiting for the spring sunshine. It holds the soil in place while putting much needed nutrient into it. Winter wheat is part of the normal crop rotation, even for the small farmers.

Another thing it's time for, my fall garden planting. All those plants that go well in the cool spring weather now grow well in the cooler evenings of fall. Carrots, garlic, onion, radish, borccoli...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Repair day

Hubby had an early appointment today and I slept thru the alarm for a half hour. I was tired! Was up until 4 this morning working on some cheese. I really like the cool overnight temperatures for cheese making, the results are excellent. I raked that field this morning, the one that tore my haybine up. I looked for the broken rake piece, did not succeed in finding it. Hopefully it won't end up in a round bale and I will find it easily later today after it's baled.

Yesterday I spent a few hours working with a cheddar recipe with store bought milk looking for good results that can be had from cheese making when you don't have cows nearby to get unhomogenized milk from. The process destroys the milk protiens, making it almost impossible to get a good curd for anything but soft cheeses. The curd was not quite what I expected, it was more loose and soft but it appears like it's setting up well. The wheel comes out of the press at 3:30 this afternoon, we'll see how it turns out and post on it.

Hubby found this site early this morning and I was rather amused, thought I'd share it with ya's for a laugh. It's Awkward Family Photos. I got a real kick out of the Thanksgiving letter post, the link is on the right sidebar. Hope you all get a giggle!

Anyway, to the repairs for the day... hubby's been working on the haybine since he got home. Still have to have the rake bar before I can cut with it, it'll be a while for that. But te sickle bar part of it still needs repaired. We'll be working on the wheel rake today too, it is in need of some serious repair as well. I've been working on the home made cheese press. The base needed replaced as I just had pine and with the constant soap and hot water plus the bleach for sanitation and the corrosive whey on it, the base needed replaced from warping. Can't press the cheese well if the base is warped so a new one is now in place.

Also, this morning the new faucet is functional. Just a cheapie $12 one from home depot but very useul when you don't need a pair of channel locks to turn the water on!!!! I was amazed when I went to home depot by the prices of kitchen faucets. Some of them were as expensive as $300! Why would a person need a $300 kitchen faucet??? Is this a case of more money than sense or what? I'm perfectly pleased with the $12 one, it looks good and it works just fine!

Well, the sun is shining on me today. Some folks I know up the back road called me this morning and asked for some help and in turn, it will help me. They have a broken square baler. I have a broken cutter. They will cut my hay field if I bale theirs. Works for me! Temporary fix for my immediate problem, I get the field I need cut right now cut. Whew, some good luck at last.

I got another gallon bag of white soup beans dried and packed in storage. The plants did not do as well as I had hoped they would. They set pods and started to die off. Must be the weird weather.....

Hubby is calling, I gotta go sit on the tractor and operate some levers.........

Monday, August 24, 2009

Something good for a change

Monday hasn't always been my favorite day of the week but today turned out to be a good day. This morning I got a hay raking job. All I had to do was rake 30 acres of hay and get paid a tank of fuel and some round bales. About a months supply for my animals. Took 5 hours tho but worth it. Now here I am, 11:30 at night, still up because the batch of cheese had to wait while I raked hay.

I also wanted to say thank you to the 3 people that donated to the blog. Your cheese is on the way and I appreciate your help.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunny Sunday- good day or bad?

Well last nights milking went south quick. 2 of the ladies refused to come up so I ended up chasing them for an hour in the dark thru some nasty tore up pasture. I never did get them up, I'm sure they were nice and swelled this morning. Boy was I glad to get home last night!

Today, hubby has spent all morning working on the haybine. It's ugly. He finally managed to get the head of the sickle out, bolt is bent, bearing is destroyed... yay rah.

I spent 45 minutes this morning fighting with the computer. I got into yahoo mail and the computer locked up. Wouldn't even restart. So, I had to walk away from it for a while.

I planted something new this season, some mini bell pepper seeds from Seed Savers Exchange. The camera just can't capture the color of these tiny peppers. They about glow they are so brightly colored. They taste just like normal bell peppers but they are the size of a quarter. That is the harvest from just one plant. I halved them and put them in the dehydrator. Will be nice to cook with this winter.

I've got more cheese in the press, it's a beautiful 70 degrees here, thought I'd take advantage of that. I've got some listed on the sidebar I will ship for donations again. I could really use the help here and I know you all will love the cheese. Like last time, I will ship it in vac seal bags Priority Mail. If you want some cheese but not via paypal, email me at and I will give you an address to send a check to.

Today is going to be spent hauling the daughter around looking for supplies for her graphic arts class. I love driving 150 miles to find 2 or 3 things. Of course, Walmart does not have a single thing on the list. Not that I enjoy being subjected to Walmart but they've wiped out every other shopping venue for miles. So, I must travel 75 miles one way to try to find this stuff. Another yay rah. Guess I'm gonna be a couple hundred dollars overdrawn again this pay period.

Oh, I forgot..... since I am officially relieved of milking duty(neighbors came home late last night) I slept in til 9 this morning! Now for a real yay rah! LOL

Off to the 3 hour drive.....

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tired out

No clever thoughts today, I'm too wore out. Taking on a whole new set of farm chores in addition to my own has just plum beat me down. Guess I'm not a spring chicken anymore. I have officially decided that I like cows much better when they are somebody elses and I can go home when I'm tired out! hahahaha

I should be cutting hay but I can't seem to drag myself out to the tractor.

I cut the Farmhouse Cheddar today and I've decided I really like it. Not quite as much as the regular cheddar but it is mighty tasty. I think I will add it to the regular schedule of cheese making.

I got all the monthly bills paid yesterday and there's no money left. I really hate that. I still haven't managed to finish the chicken house or get any blocks for the root cellar. Good thing I'm so dang frugal or we might be a bit uncomfortable! Still, it's hard to go out and feed those chickens every day and look at that half finished chicken house when all I need is a lousy $50 in supplies.

Oh, I almost forgot... the garden is acting like it's mid October. Plants are slowing way down and starting to die back. Even the beans are dying back on me with half filled pods. It's kind of weird. The tomatoes and peppers are still doing well and I'm pleased with that, been dehydrating the peppers and setting the tomatoes up to be canning into sauce about every other day now. Al least we'll have plenty of sauce for chili, stews and italian dishes. All good winter meals for a hungry family.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hot Pepper Wednesday

Hahaha, sometimes I am such a dope! Either that or I am a super glutton for punishment! I love hot peppers. In my chili, in my salsa and now since I tried and made a decent pepper jack cheese, I'm going to do it again. I always cut my jalepenos into halves or thirds to dehydrate. Every time I do that, I end up pepper juiced! Burns like all heck and no matter how careful I am, I always end up with it somewhere. Today it started with a seed stuck under my thumbnail. Then a seed flew up and hit me in the forehead. Next I wiped my cheek with a towel I had on the counter and it apparently had seed or juice on it and the burn was on! Now I've got a frying finger, a scorching forehead and a watering eye and I did not prep properly for it. I have no onion half sitting on the counter. Onion juice neutralizes hot pepper juice. Just cut an onion in half and wipe the affected area with it. No more burn.

Well, back to my dehydrating project for the day, more hot peppers and some sweet peppers...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hot and Humid, again.....

This week has been work on the farm cleanup week. So far, so good! Hubby has had a wild hair, fixed the lawn mower using good old fashioned common sense and a little welding(parts money is in short supply) and so far it's holding up. The whole place has been mowed up nice, weeds have been knocked down, the finished and overgrown gardens have been mowed, it's just awesome! He's really out done himself, the farm is starting to look like it did before all our troubles. Makes me proud to say I live here again. It had really gotten looking poorly with the equipment breakdowns, lack of cash and a few other minor troubles keeping us from properly maintaining. I guess I need to find a couple old fashioned grass mowers for when we can't use the equipment anymore. Something I need to look into...

I wanted to show you all the storm that rolled in here last night but the digital camera isn't what it used to be before the kittens knocked it off the desk. It wasn't quite dark but the pictures did not come out. Darn shame, the clouds were very cool looking.

I was up until 4:30 this morning making this wheel of Farmhouse Cheddar. 3lbs, 8 oz from 4 gallons of milk. Got a 4 1/2 gallon batch of Colby on the stove now. Not quite cool enough on a daily basis yet to make cheese but I'm in withdrawl! Can not live without cheese anymore.

I've been thinking a bit on it and I am willing to teach cheese classes any time starting September 5th, in my home, on my farm. The classes will be on Saturdays, starting at 10am. I can comfortably have 4 people at a time in my kitchen. The cost will be $50 a person and you will share a light, snack type lunch with me while the cheese cultures and the rennet sets plus a small wheel of the type of cheese we make to take with you at the end of the class. You must email me at and a $10 deposit via check/money order or paypal (non refundable) to reserve your spot with $40 being due the day of the class. This will be a relaxed, farmstead atmosphere.

Tonight is the start of my week long, twice a day milking adventure. My neighbors have headed for the State fair with their trailer load of cattle to show. Hope I live thru this, LOL. I might end up being a touch cranky by the time they come home, I don't do early mornings well!

I better get back at it, lots still to do today...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Big Duck Roundup

Welcome to the big duck roundup! The water tank there is how my son has been floating around with the ducks. Apparently, the flock of 6 has joined up with the 8 youngsters and they've been having a pretty good time in my root cellar hole. I considered filling the hole in to soak up the water but I still don't have enough blocks so until I have the blocks to build the root cellar, the ducks and the boy get to swim in the mud hole.

Just 500 more bales of hay to go! Of course, it hasn't even been cut yet. This is what I cut and baled this past week, finishing up late yesterday. I even cut my circle driveway, got 11 bales off of it, LOL. The driveway is what I cut to check the haybine after I did all that work on it. Had to make sure it was working correctly before I got into a big field away from home.

Hay baling takes up the whole day so not much else been going on around the farm. Just normal, every day chores. It's looking like we're up for a bit of rain this coming week. Seems like a good time to be in the barn, working on the corn crib....

Friday, August 14, 2009

Minor oopsies

Ha, you're going to love this... I cut some hay yesterday, got down the road side and then half way up the north edge of a little 5 acre square and found a hole with the left front tire of the tractor. It was a pretty good hole, a washout that ran along the edge of the creek about 3' deep. Took a bit of wiggling around to get backed out of it. Scared me good, wadded my britches up quick!

Haven't done too much since my last post, just daily farm chore stuff and the addition of milking the cows twice a day and the chores at the neighbors place. The showing part of the fair is today, I hope they do well.

I dehydrated 5 racks of green and red peppers yesterday. They look good. I will be doing the hot peppers and some onions today. At least nothing went wrong, LOL hope it stays that way.

I'll be raking 3 fields o hay today and probably baling at least 2 tomorrow, hope that all goes smooth. I'll never want to go back to buying hay from others now that I've been doing it for myself. I really enjoy the tractor time, it's relaxing to me. Plus, the money I save helps.

I've got an idea of what I want my corn crib to be like in my head. Soon I will get working on it, it will be a good project.

More later tonite!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Long Wednesday

Ah, it's been a long day. My milk pals had an appointment this morning they could not miss so I got to milk the cows. I hate 6am! I was done by 9am, home for my cup of coffee and a small break before a couple last minute adjustments on the haybine and then some cutting. Just about finished the circle drive when a hose blew on me. Drown me all up my back with hydraulic oil. A run up the road to Royal Brass and Hose, $12.oo for a replacement and back to cutting. The haybine is working great. Got another field to cut tomorrow.

Look what I made! My very first wheel of cojack cheese. A blend of Monterey Jack and Colby. A 3lb wheel and that little chunk is all that's left. That figures, LOL.

The little Houdinis are growing like mad and doing well tied out by the horse paddock. The buck kept fighting with the sheep so they had to be seperated. So, the sheep gets the pen and the goats get tied out until I butcher the sheep.

Not too much else going on right now, I haven't seen a single Perseid meteor, depressing, I know, LOL. I did pick some hot peppers and green/red peppers to be dehydrated. I like cooking with them and dehydrating gives me peppers all winter long to use along with the ones I manage to grow in the kitchen windows.

Tomorrow I'm going to add on to the Medicinal Plants postings.....

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Medicinals and Alternative food sources

Did you know that cattail is edible? Yep, they sure are! The peeled, young shoots of cattails less than 18" long can be eaten raw or cooked as a potato substitute. Just before blooming when enclosed in a husk, the top spike steamed or boiled, can be eaten like corn on the cob. Pollen sections next to the base of the leaves and the rhizomes can be ground into flour for making bread.

The cattail is a perennial found growing in rich, wet soils, marshes, swamps, wet ditches and stream/pond edges throughout the heartland.

Native Americans used the cattail as a medicine, the fluff was a treatment for skin irritations(used like baby powder) used chopped root on burns, in an infusion to treat intestinal parasites and diarrhea.

A common plant to keep in mind.

Monday, August 10, 2009

the goings on's around the farm

I've been missing in action for a few days, not by choice tho. It's been miserable hot here, in the mid 90's every day with 85% humidity. Sticky yucky! Hmmm, is that proper sentence structure? Okay, let's start with the biggest news of all, something I'm pretty proud of.... drum rollllllllllll- I quit smoking. Yup, cold turkey last Sunday. Now that doesn't mean I will quit growing tobacco, I just decided to not indulge anymore. Geez, I have no bad habits left!

Okay, now for the farm news. The wild blackberries are finished, I ended up with 3 dozen jars of jam. Not bad from all wild blackberries. The corn finished out, I ended up with 5 dozen pint jars. The deer, corn worms and the weather were all pretty hard on this years harvest. My field corn is starting to make ears, pics of that in the next day or so. The melons are doing well, lots of babies on the vines. None close to ripe yet, I'm watching closely for the skunks to start showing up. We had a storm blow thru here this afternoon, some nasty winds and hard rain kind of beat up my sunflowers a bit. Tomorrow they should stand back up in the sunshine. None of the heads are even close to cutting stage. It's nice to see the honey bees all over them tho. I will try to get a pic or 2 of them. They scare me a bit as I am allergic but bees are a welcome sight here, they are the best pollinators.

The root cellar hole is a mess, it's got 3 foot of water in it! The ducks have been swimming in it, having a grand time with the pond we've built or them. I guess we'll put a bit of the dirt back in the hole to sop up all the water... was kind of stupid to dig it without having the concrete, gravel and blocks ready. Pretty much how it goes here, someday I'll go into depth about why it is like it is here........ long story.

Woohoooo! My new this year chickens are starting to lay eggs. I'm pretty pleased as now I have enough eggs to cover what I want from day to day and left overs to sell. I'm just at 3 dozen extra a week but have found a customer so all is good!

I also found a rabbit customer. All the rabbits I have for sale every month. Not too bad, I usually have around 10 or so I would be willing to sell without putting a dent in what I need to eat. Every little bit helps.

Oh, I got the haybine fixed! I will be cutting a couple small hay spots when this rain goes by. I'm still several hundred bales short of what I need or the winter so I'm not upset about it raining. Rain makes the grass grow!

I'm working on a wheel of co-jack cheese today. I know I said I wasn't going to make any cheese while it's still hot out( awful unbearable in my kitchen right now) but I'm dying for some cheese! I'll share pics when it comes out of the press.

Speaking of cheese, I've had a few people ask me about the cheese making. How about a cheese maker day here on my farm? I'm in southern Illinois, way down south, closest major city is Marion. Would anyone be interested in attending a cheese making day? There's a couple hotels within 15 miles of the farm and even Rend Lake Resort. Ah, just an idea...... it would be later in the year, October maybe...

Where have I been?

It's been more than a week since I've posted anything, I've not abandoned ya's, I had some computer troubles! It turned out to be a virus in my Windows Defender program that allowed another virus to embed itself in some secondary software in combination with the sons new mp3 player, caused a fatal error in my startup. My wonderful computer guru had to load windows 98 and use DOS to get in but once he did, well of course, he's a genius and had it fixed up in a flash. So, since it was such an easy ix, what took so long? The computer messed up Monday morning and the fellow was in Florida on a well earned vacation, didn't come home until last night!

So, give me a little while to get thru my emails and collect my thoughts and I will post a Self Sustained Living farm update.......