Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Alpaca day

One sunny blustery day in September, Josiah, Faith and I were able to carve out a little time to stop by an Alpaca farm, which was hosting an Art and Fiber Fair. 

The Alpaca shop was full of warm and beautiful articles of clothing etc. all made out of some sort of fiber (alpaca, sheep, lama, etc.)

Hello! :)

There were many different vendors, some with fiber products of their own, and others with different farm related items.

Look, it's a baby Alpaca!!

Definitely an interesting event, and we are glad we were able to look around for the morning.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Always Something New

It does seem, looking back on the past few years, that we are always getting into something else, picking up something new, trying something different.  Each new item/occupation always has a back story, and this is no different.
I think it's starts with us having some extra brushy ground that needed to be cleared.... or was it because the lady, who we met and became friends with through looking for milk for the puppies, had an extra wether she was getting rid of. Or maybe it was both of those combined with the fact that some people in our family have never gotten over their irrational affection for goats.  Anyway, our brushy area is now fenced in and we are the "proud" owners of 3 meat goats.

Lamancha's are definitely not our favorite breed, but with horns they do look a little better... besides they have a sure end.

The turkeys aren't too sure about their new neighbors.

"Who are you??"

But... that's not the complete story, there is a side trail to it. 
Josiah and Faith were on their way to pick up 2 of the goats when they saw something huddled in the middle of the road....

That "something" was this adorable little kitten. She was very skinny, but other than that was really in beautiful shape.

She is really the sweetest kitten ever, extremely friendly and laid back. Not at all aggressive. Just down right sweet, but a little mouthy. :)

Her markings are truly unique. She has little dashes and patches of saffron or cinnamon color here and there, which after much debate and multiple options, have resulted in her being named "Saffron" or "Fronsie" for short.  We did post "found" signs, but haven't heard anything, which, along with the location where we found her (a dirt road with no houses on it) confirms are suspicions that she was dumped.

We are  hoping to turn her into a barn/garage outdoor cat to help us take care of mice... but right now she looks pretty comfortable inside don't you think? :D


Saturday, September 27, 2014


As mentioned in this previous post, this little Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar wandering around lost on our kitchen wall, after being accidentally riding a pile of Carrot fronds into the house. We quickly went and gathered some fresh carrot leaves for the poor starving critter, and dubbed him "Oliver" after the little boy in "The Four Story Mistake" by Elizabeth Enright.

Personally the fun part about Swallowtail caterpillars is that when you bop them on the head they shoot out a little orange "tongue", a warning signal that say's "stay away, and leave me alone!" It's so funny. :D  Of course "Oliver" decided to go into the chrysalis while I was gone, but it was fun to see it completed. Swallowtails make a little hammock on a twig, and hang back into it, and when they shed their skin and turn into the chrysalis it turns the same color as the branch they are on. Just fascinating! 

So, the other day "Oliver" hatched out a stunning and beautiful butterfly.... only "Oliver" wasn't.... "Olivia" was.  Yep, my cute little caterpillar, was really a girl, as her grown up stage revealed.

Male Black Swallowtail's have a majority of yellow markings on their lower wings, while females have blue. 

Anyway she was gorgeous, and since she came out on a lovely warm fall day, I was able to take her outside and let her finish drying her wings in the sunshine.

Watching the transformation of a squishy, green, land dwelling, bug, to a delicate, shimmering, sky skimming, creature, never grows old. God is truly an amazing creator.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pieces of September Beauty

September is such a beautiful month with just enough of Summer left to infuse warmth into the days, and with the touch of fall to lend it's color and crispness.

  The golden rod has already lost it's early brilliant yellow, trading it in for the more subdued golden bronze color of fall.

The earliest leaves are beginning to drop, and the maples now appear, shocking flashes of red and orange in the still mostly green landscape.
It is a rich time of year, do make the most of it! :)


Friday, September 19, 2014

Green Tomato Mince

8 cups chopped green tomatoes
8 cups chopped apples (I leave the skin on if it is good, just trim off the bad spots)
3 cups raisins, chopped (I just coarsely chop with a knife on a cutting board)
1 1/2 cups sugar (or less or more - depending on your taste and the tartness of the apples)
1 heaping TBL cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp allspice
2 tsp orange peel, grated
1 lemon, grated peel and juice (or 1/4 cup lemon juice)
1/2 cup cider vinegar

Combine all in heavy sauce pan and bring to a simmer, stirring to mix well.  I leave the lid on for the first while (20 min or so) to get the apples to break down and all the juices going.  Then take off the lid and turn down to low.  Simmer another 1-2 hours, stirring often so as not to let it stick, until the desired consistency.  Freeze, refrigerate or can.  Steam/water bath quarts and pints 20 min.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Ups and Downs of Gardening

 Another fruitful gardening year has almost come to a close.  With two nights already bringing what we call "Indian frosts," (a-patchy frost) we are scurrying to gather what is left and store it away for the winter.  Every year has its peculiar goods and bads, ups and downs, blessings and frustrations when it comes to gardening - and this year was no exception!  There were times when my little gardening-loving heart seemed about to break with disappointment as I viewed my heavily loaded Tomato plants devastated by blight, or found myself all but pleading with the barren Squash vines to produce some fruit.  But in the end I was able to thank God for all the good, and anticipate with excitement (and some learned-the-hard-way knowledge) next year's gardening season.  So here is a little overview of the both the ups and downs . . . but mostly the ups!

A menagerie of Tomatoes ripening on the porch . . .

  . . . plenty of Green Peppers to dehydrate, eat stuffed (YUMMY!!) and to make . . .

 . . . some Salsa!

 Jars of canned Salsa and delicious Blackcap Elderberry jam!

 The Elderberry bush was loaded this year!  Lots of jam, and dehydrating for winter cough syrup.

 The Peppers in our "pot garden" on the deck did just great!  Lots of Banana Peppers for stir-fries with green beans, summer squash, garlic and lots of butter (my mouth is watering . . .), and these Cayenne Peppers for drying.

 The Golden Bantam Sweet Corn grew taller than the 6'7" Boy . . .

{Thank God for long arms to pick tall Corn!}

 . . . and produced enough for several meals and a few bags for the freezer.

 This funny little fellow (Swallowtail caterpillar) was found enjoying some Carrot leaves . . .

  . . . the little Jonathan apple tree has some good looking fruit . . .

 . . . and wheelbarrows full of rich compost, happy Sunflowers and fluffy Duck derrieres make me smile. :)

Flowers are such a wonderful addition to the vegetable garden!  I always try to have at least Marigolds, Calendula and Dahlias interspersed amongst the veggies.  Here are some of the gem-like Gladiolas we grew this year.  So elegant!  One of my favorite cut flowers, these beauties kept our house looking beautiful for weeks and weeks.

Not to be out done . . . this lovely vase of Cosmos brightens up a corner in the kitchen.

 Mother's Rose has out done itself this year!  It is just full of big, beautiful and oh, so fragrant blooms!

 Now that Summer is briskly on its way out, the mums are beginning to come into their glory, 

and the Rudbeckia, Sedum, Echinacea and "Bird's Nests" make charming little Autumnal bouquets.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 I am very, very thankful that not ALL of my Tomatoes were killed by the dreaded blight.  In the picture below, you see my rows of Martino Roma Tomatoes after we stripped all the blackened leaves from them.  The fruit that was not diseased has continued to ripen and has been (and will be) made up into many jars of Salsa, Chili Sauce, and Tomato Sauce.

Here you can see some of the Cherry Tomato varieties that seemed to be blight resistant and all the other poor blighted plants.

Ever the optimist, I will end on a happy note . . . here is something to do with those green Tomatoes that won't ripen before frost, (or when your plants die early because they got hit with blight - but enough of that - this is a happy ending!) this rich, sweet and savory pie-filling, ice-cream-topper, just-eat-it-by-the-jar-with-a-spoon . . . Green Tomato Mince!

Maybe I'll post the recipe tomorrow . . .

~ Faith

Monday, September 08, 2014

Metamora Days

 One Friday in late August, we managed to take some time out of all our various schedules to have a fun evening over at the Metamora days.
The main event that attracted us was the horse pull. We had never seen one but were very interested to see how it was done.

It was truly amazing and we entirely enjoyed watching these magnificent animals show their incredible strength.  The horses actually seemed to enjoy it as well.

{the enthralled crowds}

There were 4 teams of horses, and they each got a chance to pull the stone boat at each weight level, and see if they could go the entire length of the measuring chain.

{A very interested and chatty observer}

3 out of the 4 teams were Belgians, the 4th were Percherons (photo below).


This beautiful pair of matched Belgians won the contest pulling the full length with nearly 6,000 lbs. of weight!! I have a feeling they could have done more since they did that with seeming ease, but there was no one to challenge them.

The next event of the evening, took place right over the hill from the pulling grounds - The annual balloon launch.

It is so amazing to watch these huge limp balloons fill up with hot air and create enough lift and pressure, to raise the basket and passengers up, up and away!

Seeing all the colorful patterned balloons seemingly suspended in the sky was breathtaking.

It was quite the evening, and we are all very glad that we made time to visit Metamora Days this year.