October 24, 2014

Friday Follow-Up

This week:
-- I found eggs! I have only one hen left now, and she hadn't laid an egg since spring. I thought it was either because she's old, or because she or another chicken was eating them, or we had a snake in the chicken coop. Then they found a hole in the chicken wire of the run and for the past two months they've been free ranging. Nemo, the other hen, disappeared a week or two ago, leaving me with just Little Red and the two roosters. Was Nemo the egg eater? Is Little Red happier now that she's free ranging and has a higher protein diet from eating bugs? Maybe all of them were eating eggs but don't feel the need to do so now. Maybe they did it out of boredom. Whatever the reason, I found nine eggs in a corner of the coop. I tested them all in a deep bowl of cold water, and only one didn't lay flat on the bottom. That one was still "safe" to consume though, the end just lifted up a bit. Since finding the nest, I've collected 3 more eggs for an even dozen.
-- I've been harvesting the herbs; more on that next week with a little giveaway.
 
-- We've had a little rain. The leaves are changing colors - as much as oaks will change, anyway - and it looks and feels like fall, my favorite season.
 
-- I started a fun project. Here's a peek:
 
-- This week's features included:
and
 
 
-- What's up in your corner of the world?


~~~~~ 

My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
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October 22, 2014

Walking the Fenceline

Sometimes it's hard to make decisions on a homestead or farm. You can't know what the winter will be like, even though meteorologists try to predict. Our forecast is for a cold and snowy winter, like last year, but will it happen that way? Will we get rain this autumn? An early frost or a long, cool fall?


Our neighbor called a few weeks ago, asking if we wanted the hayfield cut and baled. Hay cutting was very late this year, some farmers are still cutting hay this week. We agreed that if it didn't rain after he cut it, there wouldn't be enough regrowth to support my horses over the winter.

On the other hand, the horses and the goats need hay too. He bales our field on shares, which would give me a few more round bales of hay. Plus we are constantly fighting the wild blackberries that spring up and small thorny trees that grow each year. When he cuts the field, those are cut down and controlled for another season. (We used to cut and bale our field by hand, but that was years ago. Although we still have our hand baler and could use it if needed, for now we are thankful to have our neighbor cut it for us with his tractor and equipment!)


I decided not to have it cut and baled. It hasn't rained much since he called me. I have square bales stored in a shed, and round bales too. There is an abundance of grass in the field. I think I made the right decision.


Over the weekend I walked the hayfield fenceline with my English Shepherd, Pete. The last time I was out there, the weeds outnumbered the grass, but now the grass is thick and plentiful. There is a large patch of ragweed that is more than knee-high, but otherwise it looks pretty good. There is some Johnson grass, but mostly it's native grass pasture.

I didn't find any fencing that needed to be repaired. Last year I had to repair a few spots.


The gate that my other neighbor uses to retrieve his cows from my field was closed. He often leaves it open, so that was another thing I'd wanted to check on. His cows haven't visited in several weeks, ever since he told me he'd fixed a long stretch of fence so that he could winter them "down in that holler". So far they seem to be staying there.


We found no sign of feral hogs, thankfully. They are becoming a real nuisance around here, and many of my neighbors are having problems with them.

Then I gathered up all the osage oranges on the ground behind the barn and tossed them into a small fenced area that the horses can't access. Some folks say that too many of them will cause colic; others say they aren't a problem. I prefer to err on the side of caution.


Since everything looked good, I opened the gate for the horses, and they obligingly ventured out into the field. They've done well over the summer on pasture alone, but now they'll get grain in the evening to coax them back to the barn so that I can close the gate for the night.

I have happy horses.


This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


~~~~~

My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at: 
Facebook | Pinterest | Bloglovin | Subscribe via email

October 21, 2014

A Slice of My Life



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My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at: 
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October 20, 2014

DIY Cayenne Pepper Powder



This year I grew both cayenne and paprika peppers. I planted seeds and had half a dozen plants of each just about ready to transplant, but our dogs reduced that number to one plant of each variety. I was thankful they spared those two plants.

My goal is to grow and dry those peppers to make my own cayenne and paprika powders. I use a lot of both in cooking; I also add cayenne powder to the herbal wormer I give the goats. I'd like to be able to grow the things I use most, instead of being dependent on the grocery store.


I babied the two remaining plants, keeping them potted in my herb garden for awhile until the grasshopper infestation died down a bit. Then I planted them in metal tubs in partial shade (and also here), just because that's where I had room and could easily keep an eye on them. They had more room to stretch out there, and both of them took off and grew.

The paprika plant is still covered with yellow peppers that haven't yet turned red, so I'll talk about those later when I harvest them. For now, I have picked all the red cayenne peppers. There are just two green ones left on the plant, so I'll dry and powder them later. (There are also a few new blossoms on the plant, but I doubt that those will turn into red peppers before the first frost.)

Those look almost neon - it's from the camera flash.

I washed the peppers in vinegar and water, then spread them out on a towel to dry well. That one plant produced 46 red peppers plus the 2 not-ripe-yet peppers. I forgot to fertilize it; it might have produced even more if I'd remembered, but I am happy with that number from just one little plant. This year's experiment will help me decide how many plants I should grow each year.

Wearing gloves, I cut the tops off the peppers and cut them into pieces about a half-inch long. You can remove the seeds at this point, or leave them for a little extra heat. I left them, but next time I'll remove them. I found that they didn't grind to quite the fine powder that I'd expected, and I think removing the seeds might fix that. Not that it really matters; I just expected a finer powder. Don't forget to wear gloves when cutting up the peppers. 


Then I put the pieces in my L'Equip dehydrator (affiliate link). It took about 24 hours for them to dry to a brittle state.


I put the pieces in my electric coffee grinder (which I use for spices only, not for coffee) and powdered them.


Cayenne powder! Since the peppers weren't perfectly and completely ripe, there is variety in the color, the powder isn't uniformly red. I'm hoping it will give some complexity to the flavor as well. I need to run it through the grinder a bit longer, I think. I can see pieces of the seeds and would like to grind those up (or sift them out) and have a finer powder. Next time I will remove the seeds before I dehydrate the peppers.


Those 46 peppers from one plant yielded just shy of two ounces of cayenne powder. This will help me decide how many plants to grow next year, as long as I can keep the dogs from eating the transplants.


You might also enjoy:
The New Herb Garden
The Herb Garden in June
The Herb Garden in July
The Herb Garden in August
The Herb Garden in Late September
Ten Ways to Use Basil
How to Dry Homegrown Herbs
DIY Cayenne Pepper Powder
Harvesting the Herb Garden



This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


~~~~~

My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at: 
Facebook | Pinterest | Bloglovin | Subscribe via email

October 19, 2014

Silver Sunday and Being Thankful

I am thankful to the Lord, my God, for:

- our daughter's birthday last week
- another daughter's birthday this coming week
- an inspiring sunrise
- a lunch out with hubby
- wild turkeys at the side of the road
Silver Sunday

Wait for the Lord; 
be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:14 NIV


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