Monday, July 2, 2012

Saving Summer

We are finally getting into the swing of summer. The days are mostly warm now and some of my flowers are blooming. The corn, tomatoes, squash, peas, beans and carrots are up and I am looking forward to the harvest already.
Each morning brings pretty much the same, I warm up goat milk for Prissy’s triplets whom she decided not to feed, while Randyman makes the 11 bottles for the leppie calves. With everything in the wagon, we head out to the corrals. I run ahead and like the Pied Piper, lead the meatie chickens to their feeders where they all mob me, as Randyman pulls the bottle wagon safely past. Butterflies drift lazily on the air currents, alighting to caress the flowers that have already opened their petals to the world. The roses, calendula, purple cone flowers, stock and  carnations keep them sated while they wait for marigolds, cosmos, daisies and hollyhocks to open. Birds chatter noisily in the trees as we go about our business and the hummingbirds gorge themselves on the trumpet vine that scampers over the rock wall.
We split the calves up into two groups and give them their bottles. They bump and push one another while they greedily suck down the milk replacer. We try valiantly to keep everyone at their own bottle to make sure they all get their share.
 No one has to be fed by stomach tube, or given shots today so that makes it a bit easier. Wimpy and Mister stare at me over the fence, expectantly, wondering if they will get any treats in addition to their pasture this morning. It ain’t likely. The horse cavvy peeks over the fence to say good morning.

The cowboys bring them up every morning to the corral by the barn to catch and saddle the horses they will use for the day. The horse wrangler drives a 4 wheeler down to the big pasture they live in. Its several hundred acres. He/she rounds them up and follows them a mile up the dirt lane to the barn. After saddling, they will open the gate and the horses not working that day will drift their way back down to the pasture again.
I count laying hens and chicks while we bottle feed, and laugh at the funny looking chickens that came with the meaties. They are very interesting colors and I have NO idea what kind they are. They are having a good life though, running around loose and scavenging bugs and spilt grain from the calves’ trough. The sun warms my back and I listen to the cooing of mourning doves as the goat kids greedily consume their bottles, bumping and pulling as I try my darndest to hold on to them. It’s exponentially harder to feed and hold 3 large coke bottles, than it is to do just two. I struggle to keep them in my hands as I sit on a stump to maintain my balance. The other set of triplets cuddle up to Bruno. They know he will keep watch over them. I watch as one little goat walks all over the dog without him making a single complaint. It is really amazing the way a real LGD will bond with its stock.

 EmmaLou and her cronies are grazing around in the pasture, lazily switching at flies. Soon they will curl up for a siesta under the octopus tree. The lambs are bleating and begging for attention, from the horses’ pasture. They walked under the hotwire last night and decided to stay. The horses don’t seem to mind a bit. There is plenty to go around. We push the calves down the alleyway and out the gate to the back pasture. This is their first time out. Cletus escorts them and finds himself a good spot in the pasture to keep watch over them.

After we are done, the bottle wagon is hauled back to the house and Randyman loosens all the caps so I can wash them. This will be the first of 3 feedings, as the calves also get a noon feeding. It feels like all I do is feed calves and wash bottles all day. I hope we will soon be able to turn them out into the pasture and cut the noon feeding out of our day. I have already pushed the milk goats to once a day milking, at night. It makes it a lot easier to only have to process milk and take the machine all apart to clean just once.
Each morning, I usually wash the bottles, check for email, then make a log or two of soap, as it is hard to keep it in inventory these days. I am thrilled people are loving it so much. The little bit of money I make helps with the care of the animals, as we do have to buy supplemental feed, veterinary meds and the horses need shoes now and again. Every little bit helps.
The rest of the day may be spent canning, cooking, gardening or sewing, or any combination of those.
This week I canned some potatoes before they went bad. Going to the store only every 3 months, we can run out of a lot of things, or worse, have it go bad. I put away what we want to use fresh, then can the rest. These can be quickly heated up as home fries, or mashed potatoes, potato soup or any number of different ways. Tonight I drained a quart and dumped them in the frying pan with some ghee, parsley, salt & pepper and just heated them up until they were browned, to go with our lamb chops. They were buttery and delicious. 
 I made some blueberry sauce and canned that, to use over ice cream and on our wholegrain waffles. 

I also made some homemade Dulce De Leche with goat milk. Now THIS is something to brag about. The boss’ wife asked me 
“So how do you keep yourself from just sitting down and eating all that yourself with a spoon??”. Dulce de Leche is a rich, incredibly flavorful carmelized milk. It’s easily made and if you use real vanilla beans in it, its amazing!

 I have found that if my oils and lye are prepared, I can make soap while my bread is rising, and boil and sterilize jars at the same time.  A little multi tasking gets a whole lot more done. At the end of a couple hours, I have soap in the molds, hot bread on the counter and jars of food cooling. It’s a good feeling. With as much as there is to do here, there isn't any other way. We enjoy our leisure time while we sleep. I think its a whole lot better that way, cuz I always manage to somehow still be behind on my chores.

I made a list of canned goods I want to put up this year. Last January, I canned several different soups and stews and it was the best investment of time I could have made, as there were many, many nights that I was just too exhausted, or in too much pain to fix dinner. Grabbing a jar of something wonderful and homemade and heating it up was better than I can possibly describe. I would much rather do that, than go out for dinner...which of course, is NOT an option for us, but it used to be, when we lived in California. Our 4 or so trips a year to town is more than enough eating out for me. A day spent canning, saves us money, time, and provides us with a much healthier alternative. It will save valuable space in my freezers as well as make for quick and easy meals. Canning is one of the best skills I have learned. Why not give it a try? 
Here are some of the items on my 2012 canning list. 
A lot of the ingredients will come from our garden, but we might find a farmers market on the way around town  next trip for other stuff. Some things I also dehydrate, but I want to compare them so I will can a few as well, this year
Jams & Jellies
Tomato Products
Spaghetti sauce
Pizza sauce
Chicken Tortilla
Clam Chowder
Chicken Stock
Cheesy Chicken Chowder
Potato Soup
Ground beef/meatballs
For tacos
Shredded Mexican Beef-for quick burritos or taco salads
Beef Dip Beef-for quick sandwiches
Chicken-for salads, enchiladas, casseroles, etc.
Green beans
Blueberry, Strawberry & Blackberry sauces and syrups
Pie fillings
Can you think of any other meals, items that might be handy to have canned in one's pantry?
If you don't can now, you might consider it. The benefits are beyond counting.


  1. My only canning experience has been the Tangy Mustard recipe from Allrecipes. That was simple, but I am intimidated by "real" canning like soups, jams and sauces. Any guidance for first time canners?

    1. jams and tomato products can be water bath canned. Jams are especially easy as the directions for each type of fruit are in the pectin package. A pressure canner is needed for low acid foods like meats and stuff. It's a little bit of an initial investment to buy a good pressure canner but man o man, will you save in the long run, There is a Ball blue book, but I have their Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. It's AWESOME! There are 400 recipes for both waterbath and pressure canning...anything you can imagine. Start with jams, then tomato goods then work your way up from there to pressure canning. :)

    2. oh, for a water bath canning, all you need is a big stock pot with a lid, some small canning jars for jams, and lids, then pick up a set of canning tongs for picking up your jars, a canning magnet for getting the lids out of the water, a large canning funnel to pour the food thru so it actually goes INTO the jars and a rack to set the jars on, as they can't sit on the bottom of the pot or they break.

    3. Thank so much for the helpful information! I really wish strawberry season wasn't over.....

  2. Where do you get your recipes? I'm interested in just about everything on your list! Right now I'm canning beef stew. Hoping to get enough made to last through the winter. My husband was pretty excited that I had a seal failure yesterday. He ate beef stew for breakfast. I put them in quart jars and he said "Wow, one jar is just enough for one serving" Um honey those are supposed to be two serving size! :) I am hoping to do a lot more canning this year. Last year was my first year of trying to seriously can. I ran out of green beans in Feb. and blackberry jam in Jan. I try to always keep homemade chicken stock and beef broth on hand. It just tastes so much better. I would like to make some spicy beef and can it but I can't find a recipe.

    1. I am using a recipe off of for my spicy meat. I love this one, I make a big batch in the crock pot. It works with any meat, venison, beef, pork...and i like to use the chipotle tabasco in it. It's pretty easy to adjust the heat to your liking. I am very excited about just makes things so much easier!
      here's the recipe for the meats I use (I use cheap roasts for these, and there is about enough liquid to use to fill the jars as needed)

      and the french dip beef

      My soups are recipes I have used for a long time. I have to make minor adjustments for canning, like leaving out rice, pasta or cream until they are opened and heated, but it works just fine.

  3. Great - now I'm starving :-) Love to see the boys with their little charges -- the lamb on Bruno's back is very adorable.

    1. I can never get enough of these dogs! They are just so awesome.

  4. Are all your recipes (above) from that book? I need to know what Albondigas is! I am going to tackle canning chicken and rice soup again, as soon as the temps get below 90, that is. I am in awe of people who can multitask - I cannot. As soon as I try, something comes to ruin.

    1. No, not all of them, but the book has the information you need to can anything. For instance, if you have a stew recipe you like, you have to process it for the ingredient that requires the longest time, which would be meat. The thing I LOVE about home canning is that i am able to can my own tried and true and long loved recipes. It's so much nicer to have a good homemade soup in a hurry than to crack open a Campbells! Albondigas is a Mexican meatball soup. It's easy and spicy.
      My secret to multi tasking is to figure out stuff that will nicely fill the free space time of another project in the same area. This actually keeps me from forgetting something is on the stove, or bread is rising, etc as I am pretty scatterbrained by nature.

  5. I think you live in one of the most BEAUTIFUL placs in all of North America. Although I am a bit to *connected* to grocery store, grandchildren and work to live so far from *anyplace*!
    You do keep busy. I have no Idea how you manage to fit in a truely wonderful blog. But I am so glad you do. :)
    Our garden is bigger than ever this summer. If it does well I will be canning more. (I snagged a canner for 1/2 price last winter. ) And have the Ball Canning Blue Book. I got preoccupied this spring and missed the strawberry season. So my strawberry jam supply is getting low. (Oh well, there is alwasy next sring.)

  6. So how do you can your spicy beef? Is it already cooked when you put it in the canner? I was thinking of dicing up a roast and putting some spicy beef broth in it. My beef stew meat is lightly browned and boiled for 10 min. with the veggies before I put it in the canner. So it's basically pretty raw when it goes in. I have also canned chicken breast and I put them in raw. Just cubed them, put chicken broth over the top, and put them in the canner.

    My cousin is a rebel canner. She pretty much makes up her own recipe and cans away. I couldn't find a salsa recipe last year that didn't have vinegar or lemon juice in it. She said "Just pressure can it. Find out what ingredient in your salsa takes the longest to process and go with that time." I did but I was pretty nervous I was going to poison my family! But they are all alive and well and my husband is asking for me to take A LOT of salsa this year. That was another thing we ran out of.

    1. I precook my stews and stuff before canning and hot pack most things My spicey beef I cook completely because its shredded. I know some people prefer to season everything later and just do the meat, but for me, I need fewer things to do on the last step because there are nights I just can't do anything at all.
      I don't simmer things as long as I do when I am making it for dinner that night if I am going to can it, since it's going to cook in the jar. For the most part, what your cousin says is exactly what I have been told as well, you have to pressure can for the timliest ingredient. There are some things you won't add, like pastas, rice and milk products. Those can be added when you reheat the meal. Randyman loves salsa, maybe you could share your recipe!

  7. I forgot to ask do your meatballs fall apart after they are canned? Sorry for so many questions.

    1. the meatballs are on my 'want to do' list, I haven't canned them yet, but I have read a lot of blogs where people have canned them for years so apparently they hold up just fine. THey are precooked before canning.

  8. I love all your pictures and this little glimpse into your busy, busy life! A pressure canner is on my wish list, there would be so many more things I could put up if I had one. Maybe I can convince hubby that I need one more than he needs another new pair of boots? ;-)

    1. As the boots wear out, tell him they are becoming sandals...just in time for the hot months of summer! :)

  9. I bought a pressure canner this past year, and have canned chicken, chicken stock, and bean soup. I LOVE the chicken stock. I even have more bones in the frig to make another batch. I usually cook a brown rice/barley mix in it and it's just wonderful. My hubby and youngest son (only one still at home) think it's the greatest.
    Love your canning "want to do list" for this year. You inspire me. Soap, bread, and canning. All in the same day as feeding bottles to so many babies 3 times a day. I'm still getting my nerve up to do more soap. I want to be like you when I grow up. :)

    1. Good for you! Honestly, the canning saves me a lot more time than it takes up!

  10. Oh, I forgot! Applesauce is taken to new heights when you put canned plums on top. I tried canning some plums a few years ago, like peaches, but they sort of turned a little on the mushy side by the time I got them through the canning process. I was a little bummed until I put them on top of applesauce, and then, Holy Tamoley! It was like nothing else I had created. Now my tree is so close to being ready to can, and I'm so excited! We ate the last jar months ago, and I can't wait. Oh, but the applesauce and plums need to be super cold.

    1. I may have to plant a plum tree, that is one of the things we don't have here yet!

  11. My salsa recipe comes from a friend of my husbands wife. She came over one evening and showed me how she makes it. She uses 30 tomatoes, 30 jalapenos, 15 yellow chiles, 1 onion, and a few cloves of garlic. Boil the peppers until they are soft and pliable. Blanch and skin the tomatoes. Quarter the onion. She works in batches, putting everything in a food processor with a little salt in each batch. Then bring the salsa to a boil for 10 min. Then process for the length you would process peppers. It's pretty spicy! I also use a paste type of tomato, they're less watery.

    I wanted to grow my own yellow chiles this year and found a variety called Santa Fe Grand. Hoping they are the same as the ones in the grocery store.

  12. Great! Thanks Frenchie. I'll have to look for yellow peppers too, I only have jalapenos and pepperoncinis this year, although I don't think the pepperonchinis are gonna produce anything. Randy likes spicey so we'll give this a try!

  13. Gosh you make me feel like a slacker in the canning department. I'm lucky if I get some jam, applesauce or... jelly put by. My goal is to can the summer tomatoes this year and puree pumpkin. I will freeze strawberries too.
    All that you do is amazing, along with the farm work... the animals. I need to up my game. You are such an great example. I feel like I'm reading a diary about someone who lived on a farm 100 years ago... but with a few modern conveniences.
    Take care.

  14. If I lived 100 years ago the only thing I would miss would be electricity for the grain mill and electric butter churn and the internet, which is where I get all my information! I know they had electric 100 years ago, but not on this ranch..ours was put in in the 40's. My strawberries didn't do so well this year...I caught the chickens and dogs laying in them last year which is why they are basically evicted from the yard!

  15. Hi,
    The spoiled little rich boy is back and you're still showing us how wonderful life is no matter what your monetary situation and it has nothing to do with money or at least a great deal of it. In the little time we were gone...natures Gardener has spurted out all kinds of wonderful color you're talking about. Yep those look like Dan-el's horses, too. How you been? I'm longer the grand connector and I finally met a girl I kind of liked. No, she wasn't human. Wanted to tell you we're home. x-kid

    1. ahhh! It's good to hear from you! Life is life, with money or without it, I think. God can even give us joy if we have money, although I have seen it bring an awful lot of heartache too! And who is the lucky creature that has won your approval? How many legs...pert ears or floppy? Hugs to Daniel and the family:)

  16. I always enjoy reading your blog.

    I have done some canning this year. I had an abundance of tomatoes that I canned. I also did some Creole Chicken a la King. My oldest son would eat every jar if I let him. I canned some chicken and venison too. I want to do some chili and spaghetti sauce.

    My sister has a huge fig tree in her yard so I canned some strawberry fig preserves. It is yummy and easy to make.

    I have found that I can turn the oven on about 225 degrees and put my clean, washed jars and lids in there to keep them warm until I am ready to fill them. Easier than keeping them in hot water until I am ready for them.

    Thanks for giving us a window into your world. I always enjoy the visit.

    1. I might try the oven idea, I always wind up pouring hot water on me somewhere getting them out of the pot! Thanks for stopping by!