Friday, August 26, 2011

Spaghetti Sauce: Messiest Canning Day of the Year

    It's tomato season -- and that means spaghetti sauce. 
    Ont the day we can spaghetti sauce we forget about all other work and just focus on the canning. It's a tough, tough job -- but only because it's messy, hot and sticky.

    First we boil tomatoes, peppers and onions until they're soft. Then we put them through a strainer to get rid of as much juice as possible. We can the juice itself and in the winter we open,heat and drink it like V8 juice.
    Dad really likes it with pepper.

We try to keep the mess in the greenhouse as much as possible.

    The last thing we do before the sauce is caned is put it through a Victoria strainer to get rid of the seeds, peelings and anything else we don't want in the sauce. We set up the strainer in the greenhouse and just strain away.
   It spits and spurts and gets all over us -- like I said: Messy!

    Mom takes care of the last step.
    All it takes is a hot water bath to can up both the V8 juice and the sauce -- but you can use a pressure cooker too if you're more comfortable with that. It's a nice feeling when everything is all clean after spaghetti sauce and we've each had a nice long shower.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Getting the Porch Ready for Sealer

Here is yet another project. The porch hasn't been sealed yet. We knew we had to do that soon before it got too mud-stained. So my sister spent most of her afternoon clearing off and scrubbing down and pressure washing the porch.  It's a big porch and she did it all on her own.

I guess the scrub that she used was a little potent so she had to wear safety goggles as she worked. They made her look like a mad scientist. 

I love getting task after task done, and it's fun to do it with a team. Everyone takes a side and we lift together. I love being a part of a family that knows how to work hard AND have fun at the same time.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Our New Compost Bins

    For as long as I can remember, we've saved and recycled our compost. We've tried a lot of different methods, from burying it to using a hand-cranked composter. Finally, now that we live on a farm and can do things right, we built ourselves a set of compost bins out of cinder block, gravel and re-bar.

    There are four bins. One for black dirt (that's what my brother is sitting on), compost, and sand (that's what my sister is sitting on). The black dirt is essentially manure that is so old that it has turned into dirt -- the best nutrient rich dirt ever. The sand is just something we buy and add to our garden soil because the ground around here is mostly clay.

Today the children when out to shuck the corn right into the compost bins.
That sure was handy.

Oh, and corn silk makes for a good nutritious snack -- if you didn't know.

    It feels good to start cultivating the farm. Little by little we are building sheds, grading the yards, making flowerbeds, deciding where the lawns will be, and planting trees. It will be a long time before everything is finished -- in fact I don't think it ever will be. But that means we get to dream and make those dreams come true for a very long time.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Shucking Corn in the Shade

    It is corn-shucking season. What a fun time of year. We drag a tarp into the shade, pull the sacks of corn and a couple of camp chairs to the tarp and get to work. 
    All of the husks are thrown onto the tarp which makes for a really easy clean up. All of the cobs are placed in the tub of water and scrubbed before being taken to the to be cut and frozen. It's a big job, but with a family team like mine no job is too big.

Our new dog, Lady, is still learning the household rules, one of which is to not 
to pull the corn out of the tub of water.

We let her play with the husks instead.

    Everyone helps on corn-day, even the youngest of us. It is a great feeling to hang in there together through the heat and the tired hands and the bruises. There's nothing like being a member of a hardworking team.
    What a blessing families are!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Helping Our Friends Harvest Honey

    We've been thinking about getting a couple bee hives of our own, but it feels like such a big undertaking. One of our friends invited us to come and watch as he harvested the honey from his hives so we could see how it was done.
    I thought it would be scary, but it was actually a lot of fun!  

    There were sure a lot of bees, but no one got stung, not even our friend who didn't wear a bee suit. She said that the bees smell fear and if you're not afraid they would sting you. I guess she was right.

Me, my dad and my brother got bee suits. It was so cool to be THAT close to the bees.

    Inside each of the bee boxes there are slats called frames and the bees build their honeycomb onto these frames. We took out the frames that were covered and put in empty ones. After we had gathered all of the full frames we took them to the barn.

    In the barn, our friends let us try the honeycomb. It's a lot like gum. You peal off a piece of the wax and chew it until all of the honey is sucked off and it looses it's flavor, then you spit out the wax and do it again. It was a neat way to sample the honey.

    To get the honey out of the wax we had to melt the wax caps off of the comb and then put it in an extractor. In the picture above, I'm using a heated knife to cut away the wax caps. I had to do it fast because we didn't wan the honey ripping out of the comb and into the sink before we put it into the extractor.

The extractor spins with the frames inside it so that the honey is forced out of the comb. After it spins we remove the empty wax and our friend keeps it in the fridge to make beeswax candles later.

    Then we open the extractor and strain the honey as it drains into a bucket like liquid gold. We got to take a little jar of it home. What a fun day!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Introducing Lady -- Our Newst Family Member

    We have a new family member. Our black Lab, Lucky got run over by a truck a few months ago and since then we've been looking for a new dog. We found Lady on Craigslist, she was dropped off at a park and some lady found her and gave her a home until we picked her up.
    Today we gave her her first bath.

  We all got pretty wet, even me and I was mainly taking pictures.

    I don't think Lady new what was going on. She kept jumping out of the tub so my sister had to hold onto her the whole time. She got the wettest -- not counting the dog.

    We think that lady is a beagle/hound mix because she had the floppy ears and long nose. We've heard that hound and beagle mixes tend to wander so we're hoping our other dog keeps her around the house. Our other dog we own in a collie mix and thus a home body.

Ohhhh ... look at those sad eyes.

My little brother just supervised from the side.
He stayed high and dry :)

    At Last! All dry . . .
    Well that was fun. We all hope that lady is a good match for our family. We have gone through a lot of dogs (and cats for that matter) and all of them are different and special.

Monday, August 1, 2011

All the Little Peaches Standing in a Row

Ahh, Peach Season Awaits! 

Peaches are one of the first things to be harvested each year along with peas and strawberries. My family has a big problem when it comes to peaches though -- we love to can them because the process is fast and a lot of fun, but none of us really care to eat them. 

This year though we solved that problem. Instead of canning the peaches whole, we've pureed them and made peach raspberry jam out of them. It's a recipe that Mom came up with and now we eat get our peaches eaten. I'll have to blog that recipe sometime.

Enjoy your Peach Season!