Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hot off the Needles



















Its 1030 at night and I have stayed up way past my bedtime in order to finish a knitting project. This project is special to me, because not only did I knit the items, but I handspun the yarn too! I love being able to go one step before knitting and actually create the yarn. I am pretty pleased with how the colors turned out, and how the items knitted up. What do you think?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Everything Pumpkin


My supply of 20 pumpkins from a neighboring farm is slowly dwindling. I feel like everywhere I turn there is something pumpkin. Not that I mind... I use what i can, save what I can, and the rest goes to the pigs. They eat the skin and stringy meat that i cant use.


I finished up the last round of pumpkin butter last night. That left me with 10 remaining pumpkins. I plan on pureeing the rest and freezing it for future use. To use up some of the puree, I did make Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars from this awesome website. http://tutti-dolci.com/2011/10/19/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-bars/. You will notice in the picture I just couldnt wait to sample it. We will say its in the name of quality control. As I type I have pumpkins baking in the oven and seeds drying on the counter. When I am done baking the pumpkins, I will roast the seeds for a healthy snack.

I think it is safe to say that we will be set on the pumpkin supply...Good think we love pumpkin!

A successful batch of yogurt


Last night I had my alarm set for 1:20am and 5:40am. I had to get up at 1:20 to turn off the crockpot full of pumpkin butter. I had to get up at 5:40 to turn off the yogurt, and cool the containers in the fridge. I was grumbling because it was early and I am not feeling well and I did not want to get up twice in one night. Let me tell you, it was all worth it this morning. I had a bowl full of goats milk yogurt (from the goat I milked yesterday) and a spoonful of pumpkin butter for some flavor. YUM! Moreso than the fact that this breakfast is healthy and free, I can take pride knowing its one more step to being self sufficient. One more thing I dont need to buy at the grocery store. That makes me happy. Until I learn to make cheese with the goats milk, I foresee us eating lots of home made yogurt for breakfast. The yogurt itself is pretty sour (no more sour than plain yogurt from the grocery store). I am open to any suggestions to add flavor or sweetener without too much sugar. Tomorrow I might try adding just a touch of honey. Does anyone have any ideas?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Roll Out the Red Carpet...She's back!

Hello blogland! I am extremely happy to report that our computer is now fixed! The monitor had gone out, and we wrestled with buying a new computer. I have been wanting a laptop. Since a new monitor is over $150, and laptops are only a little more (ok a lot more) we went back and forth on what to do. I scoured craigslist for cheap monitors, but didnt find anything...until last week. I bought a monitor for $25! That sealed the deal and I am glad to say I am back in the blog business!









We have been super busy here this week. If you remember, a while back I was given a huge (and I mean HUGE) alpaca fleece. To you non-fibery people this is the fur of the alpaca after they are shorn. I was happy to correct one of my coworkers, that I am not killing the alpaca for their fiber...they are shorn yearly. Anyways, on friday I picked up part of my order. Oh my goodness! I will be spinning alpaca for-ever....This alpaca fleece will provide me with hours upon hours of spinning and then knitting.












We have also been quite busy in the kitchen. I have recently been in a canning fix. It started with apples-applesauce, apples in water, apple butter... then it switched to tomatoes...then to salsa (to use up the ton of peppers from our garden)...and today its pumpkin. We went to the farm down the street to pick up some pumpkins. I had said we wanted to get 20 pie pumpkins. Since the pumpkins were still in the field, the farmer said to give him a $20 and drive to the field and take what we want. Talk about a nice farmer! Dont worry, we just took our 20, since thats still quite a steal and under $1 per pumpkin. We have been busy cleaning, gutting, baking, puree-ing and cooking the pumpkins.






Not everything has gone smoothly. I attempted to make yogurt with some of the goats milk. epic fail! I am not sure if I did it wrong, but it just stayed milk... I will try again tomorrow after work. Tonight the kitchen is devoted to pumpkins.

The animals are all doing well. The pigs graduated to the official pig pen and are loving it! The two new goats are in a pen that shares a wall with the other herd. They can socialize all day, but the original herd cant hurt the new girls. Normally after a period of introduction, we would merge the two groups. However since both the new girls are (hopefully) pregnant, we dont want them to lose the babies. So until they have their kids sometime in feb, they will be kept seperate. The chicken pen was enlarged today to almost double what it was before. The chickens were very excited about this and displayed their gratitude by immediately rushing the new area and clearing it of bugs. The turkeys are huge, and we are trying to plan how to butcher them. Any ideas? Our issue is finding something large enough to scald them in to loosen the feathers. We might have to use a metal trash can with a fire underneath.

On a very happy note, I am planning on putting in my two weeks notice at work tomorrow. Ill explain in a different post my reasonings, but in a nutshell the commute is just too long for the amount of money I make. We have calculated out that we have the opportunity to save more, and work on our homesteading goals with me staying home. More to come on that.

Well fellow bloglanders, I am signing off for the night. I have my alarm set for 2am so I can turn the crockpot off. My only consolation is that I will be able to go right back to sleep, and wake up to pumpkin-y goodness in the morning. Good night all!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Augh, dead computer

Dear friends, I am so sorry there have been no recent blog posts. Our computer at the house has died, and until we get a new one I am unable to post blogs. There is so much I want to say and share and I am afraid I will forget it all by the time we get a new computer. As far as a quick update goes, we have added 2 new goats into our family and are getting milk on a daily basis. We have been enjoying having fresh milk and even made goats milk ice cream last night. The chickens are laying only about an egg a day and are enjoying their "vacation". The turkeys are huge and will have to be processed this month before Thanksgiving. Last weekend we had a freak snowstorm and lost power for 2 days. It made us realize how unprepared we are for a true disaster. We lost a total of 5 meat chicks from the lack of a heat lamp. I will do a whole post later on the snowstorm. In the meantime, I wanted to explain why there havent been any blog updates. Hopefully we will have a new computer soon. until then, I will be pretty absent. Thanks for understanding!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Knitting for Baby E







My girlfriend is pregnant and having a c-section next week. If you ask her, she is soooo ready for this baby to get here. I am too, although for selfish reasons. I love having a recipient to knit for. If all goes well, I will get to be present for the surgery. Yarn has been flying through my fingers in every spare minute (i am also knitting items for a craft fair in nov). I thought I would share some of Baby E's handknits...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Can you feel it in the air?

Its here, its really here! At least for this week, it feels like fall. My favorite season! When the leaves start to turn the color of the fire crackling in the winter. When the coffee shops serve pumpkin flavored drinks. When I trade in iced coffee drinks as my favorites of the moment for warm drinks that start at my throat and warm me down to my toes. Where the air is crisp, allowing me to wear hand knit shawls. I could go on and on about fall, but I am sure you feel the same way.
Right now my sister in law is visiting. We have been taking time off from the farm to play tour guides. Yesterday we toured Washington DC. Thursday we are headed up to Lancaster. Today is on the cold side, with tons of rain, so we are curled up in the living room. Sister in law is napping and I am working on spinning up some yarn. The movie Julie and Julia is on in the background, but neither of us is really paying attention.
On Sunday we welcomed 2 new angora girls into the farm family. Their job will be to produce fur to be spun into yarn. I am envisioning wearing woolen mittens lined with angora fur while doing chores this winter. We will try to breed one of the girls and see how that goes before commiting to breeding the others.
I am going to get back to my spinning wheel now. Hopefully this week I will have some skeins of yarn to proudly show you. Until then, go order or make yourself a pumpkin coffee drink my friends and enjoy it!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Tomato Hornworm, an Earthquake and a Hurricane







Take a look at these suckers! Hubby came in, with three tomato stalks with these guys on them. Not knowing what they are, we turned to the internet. Hubby thought the white sacks were some sort of wasp eggs, and he was right! Turns out, this is a tomato hornworm- the biggest worm in the states. Fullsize it is 4 inches long. The white sacks are not its own eggs, but maggots from a wasp. The wasp injects the hornworm with its eggs. The eggs develop, start eating the innards of the worm and the maggots push through the skin and form a cocoon . Eventually they will hatch into the wasp. These wasps are good wasps (apparently there is such a thing as a good wasp) and will hunt both the tomato and tobacco hornworm. We didnt want to take any chances, and let the chickens devour the "treats".





In other news, we all survived the 5.8 earthquake that hit on tuesday. I was out to lunch with a girlfriend. I though it was just blasting at the quarry. We found out it was an earthquake when people started texting us to see if we were ok. Ha! And I grew up in California. You would think I would know what an earthquake is...





On to the next natural disaster- people here are preparing for Hurricane Irene, which is supposed to hit this weekend. I am preparing by making cookies. Yup, folks, I am not too afraid of this hurricane. We are pretty far inland, and up in the hills. I imagine all we will get is some rain and wind. We do have jugs of water in storage (that we have anyways), and plenty of canned food, should we not be able to get out. I am hoping we dont lose power as our chest freezer is full of home grown chickens...





Between natural pests and natural disasters, you would think we are feeling pretty low here. Quite the opposite. Thursdays I am off work, and I was really productive. I started this morning on the deck, in my new robe, with a cup of coffee and a library book. I watched the thunderstorms roll in and decided I should do farm chores before it actually started raining. Sure enough, near the end of my rounds, the sky let loose. All day long the rain clouds and the sun have been playing tug of war. Being confined to the house, I was able to get a lot of work done. I cleaned the bathroom, which really needed to be cleaned. And by really, I mean reeeaaallllyyyy... as in even I was embarrassed to use it. I organized the bedrooms, did some work on the computer and entertained a good friend and her daughter. We made chocolate chip cookies. I had a coupon the other day for dark chocolate chips (I lurve me some dark chocolate!) so we used those in our cookies. I was out of vanilla extract, so we substituted peppermint extract. YUm!!! After they left I split my time between cleaning and reading. Hubby came home to dinner on the table, and fresh cookies. Not a bad thing to come home to if you ask me. I cherish my days off, and I am dreading going back to work tomorrow.





I am going to spend the rest of my evening reading and eating a cookie or two. Bring on the hurricane...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Now you see it...now you dont...







Two days ago one of the upstairs rooms served as our office, aka man cave. Yesterday it turned into our bedroom. You see, since we are going to remodel the whole basement, everything needs to come out of it. We dont have a garage to store stuff. The mattress downstairs was moldy, along with a great many other things. When I am in a time of material need, I turn to craigslist. Craigslist is awesome! For example- we needed a new bed. Not just any bed. We decided if we had to start from scratch, we would get a king size bed. We shopped at ikea. I just couldnt swipe my debit card for the $500 bed and $500 mattress. No siree I couldnt. Thats a lot of mulah. Especially for a bed. So hubby made a list of the beds we liked (he loves making lists and taking notes when we shop- maybe because I keep changing my mind?). I searched high and low on craigslist for something that would work. Then I found it. The holy grail of beds (if you are on a craigslist budget and need something asap). $100 bought the headboard, frame, footboard, rails and mattress. Thats a pretty stinking good deal if you ask me. The mattress has been steam cleaned, and has a mattress pad over it. It will work until we can buy a new mattress. With craigslist you have to act fast. Everyone else is looking for the same good deal as you. So on thursday after hubbys cancelled softball game, we high tailed it down to baltimore and picked up the bed. It has been parked in our living room since. Well, half was in the living room, and half in the kitchen. I was not a happy camper. Neither was hubby. The dogs didnt know what to think of it. Yesterday we cleared everything out of the office. We gave the turtle and tank away to an amazing family (via craigslist). We started painting. We set up the bed. We love it! Not too bad for a 24 hour makeover. The king bed takes up the entire room. Its not ideal for the long haul, but it works until downstairs is done and we can have a huge room then. If you had come to our house on friday you would have seen an office...today? a bedroom. ha!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Yum-O



To steal a quote from Rachel Ray- "Yum-o". Last night for dessert we had cantelope. from. the. garden. yum-o! It was amazingly juicy and fresh. Hubby mentioned he had never had cantelope before. what? We now have two more sitting on the counter ready for the eating. Hubby calls them personal size as they are a tad small.



Yesterday we were touring through our garden and collected the two cantelopes, jalapenos, and tomatoes. We fed the spent stalks of lettuce to the turkeys, chickens and rabbits who devoured them!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Knitting and Nascar


This past weekend Hubby and I were able to get away to Lancaster PA with some friends. We left early saturday morning, did some antiquing on the way up there and met friends for lunch. We visited the Landis Valley Museum, where I was inspired by the gardens and old buildings. I took pictures of the hog pen, the fleeces drying and the bread ovens. Now we just have to figure out how to incorporate the ideas into Victory Garden Farm.



We spent the afternoon, evening and night in a cabin by a pond. The pond provided fishing spots for the "men" and relaxing grassy slopes for us girls. Hubby and I enjoyed swimming in the pond while our friends took the kids up to be bathed. It was a perfect combination of relaxation and shopping. Sunday Hubby got up early to get more fishing under his belt (it was all catch and release). We then got on the road once again to head up to the Pocono Raceway for a NASCAR race. Not exactly my cup of tea, but I think Hubby liked it, and thats what matters. One of our friends got him tickets for his birthday. I enjoyed knitting and people watching! We left early as the weather was iffy and we had a long drive home.


We are now caught up from the weekend and settling back into the routine here. I personally am loving that each day brings us closer to fall. Already the lightning bugs are not making as frequent appearances as in June. We have been able to turn the ac off a few times. I long for the days when I can throw the windows open. When we fall asleep under quilts, with a chill in the air. Tomorrow Hubby is turning in my check for a table at a craft fair on Fort Detrick. Its time to start seriously knitting. Time to start planning for Christmas presents. I guarantee that my needles will be flying and strings of yarn will be turning into hats, mittens and other items. I love this time of year, and I hope the days slow down so I can enjoy and cherish them.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A little crazy around here




Sorry I have been MIA lately. It seems the basement has eaten me whole! Back in may, the basement flooded. The basement has taken us on a whirlwind trip ever since then. We shop vac'd the carpets. didnt work. we pulled carpets out. we pulled pergo wood floors up. we pulled up laminate flooring under the carpet and pergo. we took out a kitchen. for every one thing we do down in the basement, we find two more things wrong.
Yesterday while hubby was at work, I was "working" in the basement bedroom. I decided it was time to wash the sheets to keep them fresh. When I pulled off the sheets, to my horror I found mold (just a small spot but there nonetheless) on the mattress. Out went the mattress. The sheets got washed with bleach. When hubby got home we started to move the couch into the basement bedroom. Hubby lifted up a couch cushion, and guess what he found...mold...i am sick of the m word. We are washing all the quilts that were displayed in the basement just in case.
I am not even going to get into the finding a contractor nightmare...I wish a basement fairy would come and clean up the basement (by the way did i mention we found mouse skeletons? and nests?) and furnish it with non moldy furniture...
Hubby and I are going to tackle the workout room today after I work 9-5. Until we get this figured out, all outdoorsy projects have been put on hold. There is a pile of fencing ready to be put up. There are plants that need planting, and a pig pen that needs building. oh yeah, and a basement. Did I mention our basement is a nightmare?
I dont mean to be negative, I am just overwhelmed with this all. On a good note, I have found a few couches on craigslist that we could get on the cheap. A mattress will need to be bought new. The basement should be super nice when its finished. I am glad we are finding all of this now, before guests stay down there. I am so thankful for Hubby and all his hardwork. I am always thankful for my parents support. I am glad that we get to put our stamp on the basement. I have a stash of antique doors, and a mantel that will find themselves worked into the remodel. Ill post more about them tomorrow. Until then.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Birthday Celebration and some thrifty finds















It seems like I am always a day late and a dollar short...but, I wanted to say that yesterday was my amazing hubby's birthday! We celebrated by going out to dinner at Outback (totally not WW I know). He opened a present before leaving for work, more presents from his family at dinner, and my presents after the nightly chores. One of the reasons I love him so much is his willingness to help anyone, anytime. Last night while doing chores, we noticed that Alden (the sheep) was limping. Hubby was able to pin him down, clean off his hooves and administer hoof medicine. I dont think he expected to get down and dirty with a sheep on his birthday. Hubby also had to crawl in the chick pen to rescue a baby chick caught in the chicken wire. Happy Birthday! Ha! The rest of the evening was spent relaxing (watching one of his new dvds). We are having a birthday party for him tomorrow so the celebration will continue.





While in town, waiting for the birthday boy to get off work, I stopped by the Habitat for Humanity Restore. Love that place! I found an old screen door, and took it home with me. Somedays its dangerous that I have a truck. I swung by the antique store and picked up some chippy pots, a hanging basket, and some magazines (for $1). I also took a load of wet smelly carpet to the dump (all on my own thank you very much). I was quite a sight trying to get the heavy carpet out of my truck all alone...haha. One of hubby's friends is moving back to texas today, and yesterday he gave us his propane grill, complete with 2 propane tanks, grill accessories and some things for the garden. The military only allows you a certain weight to move, and his house was overweight. So we scored a bunch of free stuff! Not too bad for a birthday!

Now I am organizing the house, before I run off to work. Tomorrow I work unitil 1230, and the party starts at 2...yikes!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Apologies





















SORRY! I didnt mean to be away from the blog for so long. I can come up with a million excuses, but I wont list them here. Please accept my apologies for being away.









This morning was a WW meeting. I thought it wouldnt be good news, but I was down 1.4lbs! Pretty exciting...









Yesterday hubby found one of the banty (mini) hens with eight chicks. EIGHT! We had thought she had got eaten or killed somehow because she had been missing for a while. Turns out she was missing because she was hiding, sitting on her eggs. We caught mama and all the chicks and they are now in a chick safe pen. At night, they all huddle under mama. Not like they need the warmth as it is super super hot here....The mama hen is little to begin with and its fun to watch her try to spread out to cover all the chicks. They all have different colors, and we are looking forward to seeing how they grow up.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer on the Farm





















Well, summer is in full swing here. Along with parties, fireflies, humidity and good old fashioned fun. The animals are growing like weeds (so are the actual weeds). Stay tuned in the next month to meet the hopeful additions. We had some friends over for a 4th Party. Who doesnt love hanging out with friends. Everyone was in the military (or married to it). One of the families is moving to Germany at the end of this month. Its always hard saying goodbye to friends. On the other hand, there is a saying in the Army- "its never goodbye in the Army". So we will say adios to our friends, not knowing when we will see each other again. I trust that our paths will cross somewhere in the future. Speaking of parties, Hubbys birthday is at the end of the month and we are thowing him a birthday bbq. A different set of friends will be coming (all military again) and we will bbq, play horseshoes and shoot the breeze. We are looking forward to it.









I was looking at our calander and thinking how every month for the next few months we have something fun planned. July is parties, August we are going away for a weekend to Lancaster with some friends. September brings Hubby's sister for a visit (yay T!). October is filled with our anniversary, my birthday, and a visit from my mom, grandma and aunt. How can I not be excited? If anyone else wants to come out, you are more than welcome!









Summer is filled with fun. From sitting on the porch watching the lightning bugs, to hubby playing softball on base. There is lots of veggetation for the animals to munch on. We have been picking raspberries like nobodies business! Kisses is producing enough milk for us to enjoy. The garden is delivering on its promises of fresh veggies. We are generally more relaxed as we go through our day. There is no rush as there is in winter. All in all, summer on the farm is pretty darn nice! Hope you are enjoying your summer!

Wednesday Weigh In

...or not. I was supposed to weigh in yesterday, but I have a good excuse... Tues night I got a call from a friend from California. He and his wife were in town just for one night, and wanted to go to dinner. There wasnt time to go to the weigh in and dinner, so I opted for meeting friends. I will resume meetings next week!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fiber-y Goodness

Today after my WW meeting, I came home to 2 (yes, two!) packages on my doorstep. I swear it was like mail heaven. In the mailbox was a Hobby Farm Home magazine, plus a netflix, and my two packages on the doorstep. The packages were from a Ravelry swap, and I couldnt wait to dive in. Check out what I got today.



I cant wait to get started on even more projects. (hubby will tell you how many I currently have going, thats if he can even keep track). I am definitely not in a committed relationship with any one project...

Off now to go fondle some yarny goodness...

Wednesday Weigh In- I LOST!

This week I was dreading going to WW. I thought I might even have gained weight. I ate out at Chipotle yesterday PLUS bought a frozen mocha (my nemisis). For sure, there was no way I was going to do well at the weigh in. Ha! I was down 3.6 pounds for a total of 13.2 lost. Not too shabby! I have .8 to lose in order to hit my 5% goal. I know I can, I know I can, I know I can. So my goal for this week is to lose at LEAST a pound. Thats right folks, next week I will be 5% lighter than when I started a month ago... I hope. I am going to be good at all the 4th of July events... we can do this!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dinner


(please excuse hubby's lack of shirt- we were moving the turkeys and the result was quite messy!)











I had a whole post ready last night and blogger deleted it. In the post I told you about the amazing dinner we ate, at home. I had made goat cheese the night before. I took some toast, spread the cheese (crumbled more like it) on the toat and broiled it in the oven. We had two red tomatoes from the garden that I sliced and tossed with olive oil, salt and basil (from the garden too). All I can say is...yum!!!! We ate that aside our garden leftovers from the night before.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mold, Farm Dinners and A Coyote

You know the saying, when it rains it pours? I know where that saying originated! If you remember a while ago it rained, and poured and the basement flooded. Hubby and I have been working on taking the carpet out because it just wasnt drying. We thought (and hoped) it would solve our basement issues. Then came the mold. Hubby went to get something out of the closet, and his jacket was covered in mold. Then there were moldy pillows, and shoes, and baskets...ulgh. Our insurance specifically does not cover mold I was told. I have put a call in to some mold companies to give us an estimate on how much it will be to fix it. I am sure it will be a lot so we are bracing ourselves. In the not so direct sense of it rains and pours- we also need to get both trucks fixed, and hubby needs new tires... I think we will be penny pinching for a while.





On the frugal note, we got all our chickens back from the butcher. Yum! We shared one with a friend yesterday, complete with potatoes and a salad from the garden! Tonights dinner is chicken, with garden zuccini and squash. This is a perfect time to be penny pinching, as our garden is just starting to deliver its goods.





While at work on sat, I got a message from Hubby. Something like this- "the neighbor just said he saw the biggest coyote he had ever seen on our property". Perfect... when I got home hubby was all geared up to go hunt for a coyote. He didnt see it (which is a good thing). All we need is a coyote to get our livestock. I thought I would share some pics of hubby dressed for the hunt.