Friday, December 9, 2016

A DOG STORY IN PICTURES

This is Blue (on the left) and Ruben (on the right).  

Blue and Ruben
They belong to 2nd Family but come visit on a regular basis...kind of like having grandkids, you get to visit and play and then when you're done you can send them home, LOL!  


I had this long cardboard tube I was going to throw away.  I tossed it into the yard and the rest is pictorial history...


"Give it to me!"


"I said give it to me!"


"NO!  It's mine!"


"I want this tube!"


"HA!  
GOT IT!"


"Bye!"


 That little dot near the middle of the photo is Ruben running with the rest of the tube into 2nd Family's back pasture and all the way to their house.  


"Whaaaaaa...
That other dog took my toy!"

J from 2nd Family called later and said "Um, Ruben just brought a long cardboard tube home, do you want it back?"


Thursday, December 8, 2016

FLOWERS ALONG GARDEN FENCE, INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Every Thursday, we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm.  
Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

Flowerbed, image via Pinterest
Yesterday, I POSTED HERE about creating some new "future" planting space along the garden fence.  Since it is the garden, and the fence is not tall, I'd like something like this.  Simple, with color, texture, and variety.  So I spent a bit googling images online for some inspiration and I found this one.  It's simple and has some great color.  Now those purple fountain grasses however, those get large, so we might not use them but everything else is doable. Annuals and perennials, I think that would work well.  

Simple and colorful, that's what we want. 

Be inspired...


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

GARDEN FLOWER BEDS ALMOST DONE

Another project to check off the 2016 list of things to do and with just a few weeks left, ha.  Well, I guess since they aren't filled with soil and flowers, they are only HALF done so I can't check it off COMPLETELY just yet, it will have to roll over to 2017's list.








This is the front side of the fenced in garden area. We have been wanting to put in some flower beds along the front of the garden like I did LAST YEAR at the front corner of the house.  Since I'm off the Zen Machine (riding mower)  this time of year, and in the last weekend before the rains of the last few days, I decided to tackle this project.  











Here they are finished.  They are 16 feet long each (so 32 feet total) and about 2 1/2 feet wide.  I got them all leveled and dug in, that's always the hardest part, especially making them level so that from a distance, they look right.
Flower beds on each side of gate
I need to put some cardboard in the bottom and add some good soil/compost mix in there and they'll be ready for some flowers by next Spring.  We're thinking of some knockout roses spaced apart (though not sure if the roses will get too big) and inter-planting with annuals like marigolds and snapdragons.  We don't want anything that will get too big and out of control, we definitely would like to keep it simple but colorful, looking to some of our past inspiration photos for, well, inspiration!

 This might just be the last project I can get done before the end of the year.  Slowly but surely, it's coming along! 

Any suggestions for plantings for next Spring?  
Would 'mint' be too invasive?  
Perhaps some perennial herbs like rosemary?  
Thoughts?


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A BEE HELLO

Snapped this pic recently and we love it...
(click to enlarge)


I was taking some pictures of flowers at the farm and snapped this bee who seemed to be holding up her hand and looking at the camera as if to say hello... 

Couldn't resist sharing!

Enjoy!

Monday, December 5, 2016

CANNING STRAWBERRY JAM WITHOUT PECTIN

Well, I realized it's been too long since i worked my canning skills so we figured it was time for more, especially on a rainy and cold weekend.  

We love the way both the PEACH JAM and the BLUEBERRY JAM came out, simple and allowing the full flavor of the fruit to come through in the end product.  Of course it's all been so much easier after I found the great three ingredient recipe over at THE YUMMY LIFE.  

Fresh strawberries
I started with a bunch of fresh strawberries, this was two 2 lb boxes, which yielded about 10 cups once chopped. 


Then I got out my handy dandy strawberry huller and sat down to watch TV and hull strawberries.  


Here is the end result of hulling.  Next I quartered them.  The smaller ones I just cut in half since they are all going to cook down anyway.


Here are the ingredients:

10 cups of chopped strawberries
5 cups sugar
zest and juice from one lemon.

Strawberry jam without pectin
I put all the ingredients in my jam pan and started heating it up...

Strawberry jam
Stir over medium high heat until boiling...

Strawberries cooking for jam
It will start to foam.  Please note, strawberries foam up more than just about any other fruit (according to what I've read) so make sure your pan is deep enough and be prepared for the foaming...


I skimmed off some of the foam just to make it a bit easier...


Then I started mashing with the potato masher (didn't get a picture of that but look at the entries for the other jams if you want to see what I used).  This gets it to the consistency you desire.  More chunky, less chunky, but what's jam without at least SOME chunkiness to it....


It reached the jam stage.  I used the freezer plate method to test it.  I put a plate in the freezer, put a teaspoon of jam on it, placed it back in the freezer for a minute or two and then checked to see if it ran when I tilted it.  You can also do this with the back of a spoon.  If it didn't run or ran very slowly, it was ready. 

It was indeed ready!

Sterilized canning jars
I had the jars sterilized and ready...

Canning strawberry jam
I ladled them into the waiting jars and left a 1/4" headspace.  

Oops, dripped a couple of spots.  

Waterbath canning
After putting the lids and rings on, I put them into the water bath canner and processed them for 15 minutes.  Then I turned the heat off and left them in the water for 5 minutes more...

Strawberry jam
The last step is to remove them to a towel to cool and of course wait for the popping sound as they seal.  This batch made seven 1/2 pint jars.  The seventh wasn't quite full so we kept that in the fridge...

Homemade strawberry jam on English muffins
Oh wait, I guess there was one more step, SAMPLING the end result!  We toasted up some English muffins (always our favorite way to test them out) and spread jam all over them.  Oh my, pure strawberry heaven!  

We now have 27 jars of jams/jellies...strawberry, peach, blueberry, and jalapeño...now it's on to something else, and I already have something in mind.

DISCLAIMER:

PLEASE NOTE:  You are responsible to know and understand the current canning and processing recommendations for safety.  Canning is fun but you MUST follow guidelines to make sure you are doing it safely. I had to learn (and still am) so do your research on safe canning techniques.

 A great link to official information is http://nchfp.uga.edu/ and 
of course, the literal bible of home canning information, the Ball Website.



Saturday, December 3, 2016

NO FARM THIS WEEKEND

No farm today...



...and possibly not tomorrow.  We may be in December but we are having Spring like rains...2nd Family said we are at 2 1/2" and counting...





⚠ AlertHouston | Potential for Heavy Rainfall, Flooding and Severe Weather This Weekend.

DATE: December 2, 2016 2:52:03 PM CST

Weather Information

The National Weather Service (NWS) says that the Houston area can expect to see locally heavy rainfall throughout the area beginning Friday and lasting through the weekend, with the possibility of strong thunderstorms and isolated tornadoes as storms move through our area.
Rainfall totals are forecast to be anywhere from 2-4 inches across the area and up to 10 inches in localized areas over the next three days.
Areas that experience heavy rain in a short period of time may have street flooding and flash flooding in low-lying areas.

Steps to Take

Ahead of the arrival of this storm, Houston residents should be prepared for Tornadoes, and Flash Flooding
Houston residents can be prepared for severe weather by:
  • Ensuring they stay up-to-date with changing conditions 
  • Making sure emergency alerts are enabled on their mobile devices 
  • Setting their NOAA Weather Radios to "Alert" mode 
  • Begin planning for the impact of flash flooding, which may mean delaying or canceling outdoor activities. 
  • Identifying a room suitable for shelter during a tornado. This should be an interior room, on the lowest floor possible with no windows and few doors.  

What to Do

If a Flash Flood Warning is issued for your area, avoid bayous/streams and creeks, and delay traveling until the threat has passed. Remember, it only take a few inches of water to float a vehicle, and most flood-related deaths happen on roadways.  When you see water on the road, Turn Around, Don't Drown (R).
If a Tornado Warning is issued for your area, seek shelter immediately in an interior room on the lowest floor possible, and hold on to a heavy object. Remember, Get In. Get Low. Hold On. 


Friday, December 2, 2016

ALOE VERA BLOOMING

I posted a couple of months ago about how well the aloe vera was doing since we got it.  Then, when we were at the farm last week, we saw this:

Aloe Vera plant
A spike shooting up with what we can only assume will be a flower!  It wasn't there from one week to the next, talk about fast!!

Aloe flower
While we've both been around aloe plants on and off throughout our lives, as people often do, seemed someone always had one growing somewhere, parents, grandparents, but we've never seen one bloom.  I honestly didn't even KNOW they bloomed.  We can't wait to see what this turns out to be.  Not sure what color it will be but I guess we'll see soon enough.  

Have you ever had an aloe bloom?  
Any advice?


Thursday, December 1, 2016

LAVENDER COLOR SCHEME, INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Every Thursday, we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm.  
Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

Purple flowers and chair, image courtesy of Davesgarden.com
We've saved this photo for a couple of years.  We would have never thought about this but how neat is it to put furniture that is the same color as the flowers around it?  This is just stunning. Not sure what the flowers are.  Lupines maybe?  I'd have to find some flowers that would grow for us here and then whatever color THOSE are, work around that.  

Can you imagine yellow flowers with a pale yellow chair in the middle? Or red roses with a red bench?  

Be inspired!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

THANKSGIVING LEFTOVERS CASSEROLE RECIPE

OK, so here is how 2nd Man used up the bulk of our Thanksgiving dinner leftovers (and for those that missed the pics of dinner, CLICK HERE).

Leftover Dressing
First thing he did was get out the large rectangle baking dish.  He lined the bottom with dressing sort of pushing down so it sticks together...

Leftover Potatoes
Then a layer of leftover mashed potatoes on top of that...

Leftover Giblet Gravy
On top of the potatoes what else but giblet gravy.  The gravy was cold from the fridge so it was easy to spread around on top of the potatoes...

Leftover Brussels Sprouts
Then he put some of the leftover roasted Brussels sprouts as the next layer...along with some of the bacon pieces.  Here you could use any vegetable you had left over, asparagus, peas, greens, etc...

Leftover Turkey
Then came the meat...leftover pieces of turkey, dark and white meat, it can be chunky or torn or sliced, whatever you have, just cover up the veggies...


And lastly, seal it all up with more stuffing. Just put it on top and push it down a bit to seal things up.  I missed the oven pictures but after this, 2nd Man covered it in foil and baked it for 45 minutes at 350 degrees with the foil on...


Then he took the foil off and baked for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the top is browned.  Remember, everything is fully cooked already, it's just coming from the cold fridge and needs to heat up and become more like a casserole.

Thanksgiving Casserole
And here it is...I guess you can say it's a Thanksgiving Dinner Mash-Up and boy, was it ever good!  One thing we totally forgot was to put some of the cranberry sauce inside, so we had some on the side.  

A delicious, somewhat different, great way to use up those leftovers!

Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

WE HAVE BLUEBERRY BUSHES

Hard to see the leaves in this picture as they blend in to the grass, but these are the latest additions to our edible stock.  

They are blueberry bushes!  

Legacy Blueberries
They are a Southern Highbush variety, called "Legacy".  It's described by our local gardening group as a vigorous, upright variety especially suited for the Southern U.S.  The plants are high yielding and consistent every year with sweet, medium-sized fruit rated the highest blueberry flavor overall.

Found them the other day at lunch while roaming around a garden center that is having an end of season 70% off sale.  They were originally $16 each...that made them about $5 each.  All four for $20.

Fresh blueberries
We can't put them in our soil, blueberries need very specific soil conditions and try as we might, we'll never have that but containers and/or raised beds are a good solution.  We're contemplating either whisky barrels or large clay pots.  We already have some really large clay pots we brought from the house in town so for now, we might use them and transplant later into even bigger containers.  

We'll keep them inside the garden for animal protection and water access (we'll worry about birds when they start blooming).  They say a healthy plant, even in a large container, can produce up to 15 lbs of fruit in a season.  I'm not sure we'd get that much but if we get even a 1/4 of that, it would be amazing.

Anyone ever work with growing blueberries?