Here are the promised pictures! Wow, are we busy today! The sap has been running like crazy and so we have 150 gallons of sap to cook down today! There are 3 different fires we have going right now so we can boil down all the sap. Thank the Lord for this wonderful "run", hopefully we'll have enough to keep us in sweets till next year! :) Well, I better quit this rambling and get back to the sap. Y'all enjoy the pictures! Blessings, Cecilia for the West Family
Greetings to y'all! Winter has come to our valley and although we've yet to see snow... it has been very chilly here. Winter weather brings us in doors by the warm cook stove and we pull out our winter projects to work on by lamp light. Projects like washing wool, stitching on quilts, sewing dolls, making felt socks and hats,canning chili beans and baking cinnamon breads and apple pies. We have found a wonderful easy recipe for apple pie that never fails: Classic Apple Pie 6 cups sliced apples 3/4 cup sugar 2 Tbsp. flour 1/4 tsp. salt 1/4 tsp. nutmeg 1 Tbsp. lemon juice 2 Tbsp. butter 1 tsp. sugar Place apple slices in pastry lined pie pan. Sprinkle with next 5 ingredients, dot with butter. Cover with top crust; cut vents. Brush with additional melted butter; sprinkle with sugar. Bake @ 400 degrees for 45 minutes.
This holiday season we have spent singing carols around the fire place, having gingerbread "barn raising's" and inviting folks into our home for delicious meals made from the gardens bountiful harvest. On the homestead, things are moving along in the seasonal orderly fashion. In our new hoop house we have "baby" lettuce, spinach and greens popping up and even though the weather has not been so much to our favor- Hannah and Cecilia still find the courage to brave the cold and ride the horses and before too long it will be time to start tapping maple trees for syrup season! As we enter into yet another year, we pray that our hearts will be turned towards Christ more and more as we diligently do the work He has given us for occupation until His return. Happy New Year and many blessings to you and your homestead! The West Family
Hey Ya’ll! Sorry it has been a while since we have written, but as you can imagine things are really busy on a farm in the spring and summertime. We have been gardening (of course) and getting ready for the next Homestead Blessings video series. A few weeks ago we had help from some dear friends at church who came out and built our new chicken house! It is really awesome and we are very grateful to them. The hens and rooster are very happy now in their new home! Yesterday we got two new things for our homestead. A nice 7 foot deep swimming hole dug out in the creek by the garden (so we can cool down on those hot summer days to come) and a free kitten from a yard sale! We needed another cat because the two we have are getting old and a little lonely for a youngster running around. She is silvery gray and has green eyes. We have called her Fiona Gray. Also, Billy the Kid got a new home yesterday. L I was a little sad to see him go, but we can’t have a Billy goat on the farm. So now Magnolias milk production will go up, I hope. This past week we filmed the Canning video. And the week before that we filmed the Gardening video. We only have one more to film for this series, the Herbal one. Since we filmed the Canning one, it got us a head start on our summer canning. So far we have put up, 14 quarts of green beans, 7 quarts of tomato puree, 6 or 7 quarts of blackberry jam and a little bit of sour kraut and pickled eggs. This is just the beginning though, we usually like to can at least 100 quarts of green beans not counting all the other fruit and vegetables we put up. We have harvested almost all of the early spring garden- broccoli, cauliflower, peas, lettuce, spinach, all this is over with so we replanted the raised beds with peppers, basil and other hot weather plants. We have quite a big day ahead of us today. We are going to try and build a chicken pen for around the new chicken house, pull up the peas and replant lima beans, harvest potatoes, and I need to find some time in between all that to can some dilly beans and the rest of the tomatoes. So I better be going. Magnolia needs milking and the little chicks need feeding. Many blessings to ya’ll! Cecilia
We have been very busy here on Homestead Blessings since spring has sprung and the sun finally decided to shine and chase away all the rain. Yesterday, was a beautiful, beautiful, perfect day. The bluest skies, warm sunshine and a gentle southern breeze blowing, not too hot and no humidity. We even had a fire going in the cook stove in the morning because it was so cool. The garden is so beautiful right now and we spend 90% of our day out in it. We had part of the film crew out here yesterday morning getting some B roll shots for our new up coming DVD on gardening. So most of the morning we were all outside, hoeing the beans and potatoes, making raised beds for holy basil, marigolds, balsam and parsley, digging our first new potatoes, picking our first harvest of peas and squishing bugs that were on the potato plants. We have been using some straw for the pathways in the spring garden, so the contrast of the golden yellow straw and the brilliant green of the broccoli and cabbage is amazing. At dinner we all came in, sat around the table and enjoyed the meal and each others company. With the new potatoes and peas we just harvested, I made creamed potatoes and peas which was amazingly good, not because of my cooking, but because they were organically homegrown and very fresh. We also had, home canned green beans, yellow squash cornbread, fresh lettuce and blueberry buckle for desert. After dinner we did some cultivating with our mare Cascade, staked our tomato plants, and found that our newly hatched Barred Rock laying hens that we ordered in the mail, were gone from their little chicken tractor out by the barn. Only 3 were left out of 15, we figured my blue heeler, Bella, must have gotten to them while we were eating dinner. ‘Tis a very sad fate, but that can happen on a farm. Bella is a very good cattle dog and watch dog. We have her trained to keep the chickens and goats out of the garden and she does very well herding up the horses for us. She just hasn’t been trained to leave the baby chicks alone yet. Needless to say, I’m working on that now. Billy the Kid is getting very big and today he is 2 weeks old. He is very playful and friendly, and he has not discovered how to get out of the pen yet, which we are very grateful for. I milk Magnolia every morning, even with the kid on her all day and night, she still gives about a quart of milk. She is very good about milking. I just take a bucket of feed out there to her, squat down and began to milk. She never kicks, moves or anything. It is wonderful. When Billy is weaned, we’ll take him to sale barn or sale him to someone locally. We are going to get another young nanny soon, and hopefully some lambs in June. So our small herd is growing! Well, I best be moving along, there is laundry to be washed, eggs to check, planting to do and songs to be written. The Lord Bless Y’all! A Rambling Farmgirl, Cecilia
Well, we got our rain Mama wrote of. It started on Tuesday afternoon and continued on and off for the rest of the week. Yesterday morning we woke to find our lovely little creek that gently flows through our front yard to be a mighty raging river pouring out of its banks. Our foot bridge that goes over the creek was swept sideways and covered with water and debris, but we pulled it out with a 4-wheel drive truck and got it to higher ground. The little dirt road we live on became a nice sized flowing creek, and a few places where there were coverts got completely washed out, leaving big holes impossible to drive around. Several corn fields and watermelon patches were washed out, taking all the nice top soil with it, leaving big gravel bars behind. The old timers are saying this is the biggest flood we’ve had in this area since ‘91. Through it all, we managed just fine and things will be back to normal soon. With all this rain, everything has turned mighty green and our garden has grown a lot with the past week. It’s almost like you can watch it grow! But along with the peas, potatoes and lettuce, the weeds are popping up everywhere! I fully understand the term, “growing like a weed”. It can be very hard to keep up with them! Yesterday I noticed the green beans are coming up in the garden. We’ll be picking our first crop at the first of June most likely. There will be “green beans in the garden”!! Our Nubian/Boar goat, Magnolia, is due to kid sometime this month. It’s exciting to think we’ll have fresh milk and little baby goats jumping and running around the place. Magnolia was born on this farm two years ago and this will be her first time to kid. The blueberry bushes are blooming and there are little peaches on the peach trees. We are expecting a good crop of apples from our orchard on top of the hill this year. The strawberries are ripe and ready to pick, thus beginning the long canning season. This month we’ll put up strawberries and green peas most likely. I have been busy sewing the past week. Making dresses, skirts and aprons from patterns (first time I’ve really used a pattern) from the 1860’s era. I love to sew (and wear!) these clothes, it’s like your stepping back in time. We can relate so much to the old days because we live very similar to the way everyone did then. We even sew on a treadle sewing machine like the folks did then! Well, I best be ending this essay and go fix some buttermilk biscuits and gravy for dinner. Ya’ll take care now! A Rambling Farmgirl, Cecilia West Girls Buttermilk Biscuits 4 cups unbleached white all-purpose flour 8 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. salt Mix these dry ingredients together. Add just enough lard or coconut oil to make flour mixture like course cornmeal. Then add just enough buttermilk to make soft biscuit dough. Roll out 1 inch thick and cut with regular canning jar ring or biscuit cutter. Bake at 400 degrees until lightly browned on top. Makes around 12 biscuits