Sunday, November 19, 2017

HOMEMADE BREAKFAST AND COOL WEATHER FINALLY

Homemade strawberry jam and biscuits
Homemade strawberry jam (a gift) and homemade biscuits (2nd Man)...


Put them together with a little butter (not homemade but locally sourced) and it is was heaven on a plate. 


The weather yesterday at the farm was weird.  Still warm and windy and started out clear but then got cloudier and dark and VERY windy. Then it rained a bit so we ended the day about 4pm.

Today we have an appointment in town, I wished I could have switched our days, ha.  


But here is our forecast for the week. This is just about the most perfect weather for us this time of year.  Lows in the 40's, highs in the upper 60's.  Should be a great week!  We have to work Mon/Tue/Wed, but with a 4 day weekend after that and some perfect weather, I'm hoping to get a lot of those little projects finally done.  

Hope you are having a great weekend!

Friday, November 17, 2017

HOMEMADE VANILLA EXTRACT TIME

For regular blog readers going a few years back, you will recognize this process. 2nd Man reminded me a couple weeks ago that it was time to start some new vanilla extract since we are running low.  It's been over a year since we started our last batch.

First thing I had to do was get over the shock of the price of vanilla beans. Did you know there was a vanilla bean shortage last year?  2016 was the smallest supply of beans in decades and as a result, vanilla everywhere has skyrocketed.  

We still buy ours from the same place we always do.


Now we sometimes do the 5 beans if we're going to let it sit awhile.  This batch I just made had 7 beans. We've done as many as 10 before, which makes a really strong vanilla really quickly. When cheaper, 10 is good, when expensive, 5 or 7 will work too.  

Making homemade vanilla extract
Seven beans and a bottle of vodka...pour off some of the vodka into a glass since the beans will displace some of it... 

Vanilla beans for extract
I like to slice them in half lengthwise so that more of the bean is exposed to the alcohol, then just drop them into the bottle of vodka...  

Beginning vanilla extract
Add as much of the displaced vodka as will fit back in.  Think of it as more future extract, don't waste it.  Of course whatever doesn't fit, well that's up to you to dispose of by whatever means necessary. :-)

Keep it in a dark cabinet away from heat and light and every few days, gently turn the bottle a few times to get it mixed up.  About three months later it will be ready, though 2nd Man likes to wait a full six months to start using it. 

Making vanilla extract
Here it is after a few days.  Already going from clear to dark.  In the end, it turns a rich, deep brown color just like the extract you buy in the store. We have one of those gold permanent coffee filters that we use exclusively for this.  Just pour it through and you have beautiful, homemade vanilla extract!  Seeing as how a little bottle at the store is about $12, this is about $125 worth at that rate, ha.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

OUTDOOR BREAD OVEN INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Every Thursday we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm. Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!


2nd Man asked me to post one of his inspiration list items.  He has always wanted an outdoor bread/pizza oven at the farm.  There are literally hundreds (thousands?) online with pictures.  We are kind of partial to this style. 

It's an Adobe oven, a DIY weekend or two project. It comes from Sunset.com and is made of clay, modeled after old world clay ovens in other countries. It can be made low to the ground like this or some people have built brick stands and put this on top (a permanent stand of course).  The construction process doesn't seem TOO intimidating but it is some work. We'll just need to get this on the schedule when a lot of the other harder stuff outside is done and we're looking for another project.  This is one of those "hey lets build an oven this weekend" when we don't have to build flowerbeds or outbuildings or gardens or plant trees, etc.  But that's what it's here for, inspiration!  

Be inspired!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

WE HAVE DEER

Been saving up some of the trail cam pics / videos for a post.  We have been inundated with deer.  OK, maybe not inundated, but there are quite a few around now.  The first part of this post are the photos and then there are a few videos at the end.  


Here is one casually strolling around at noon...


And at night...


And early morning when it's foggy...


And late at night when everyone is asleep...



And every time in between, ha.  


They are just running around the front yard...



And over in the wooded area we cleared this year...



Look!  It's a deer parade!  



And here is one enjoying the midnight buffet of a hackberry tree.

2nd Family said there are two herds of deer that live on the large acreage behind us.  They hop the fence to go to the pond next door for drink and then hop another fence to graze in our yard. "R" said if we put a pond in our front yard, they'd probably stay there all the time.  For some reason they love our grass (maybe because I mow it constantly, it's different than the cattle grazing land behind us).  

And check out this (albeit fogged up) morning video:


One...two...three...four!

We're torn on having deer on the property. They are beautiful creatures and we love to see them.  We aren't hunters at all so they are safe on our land and in a way, we'd love for them to have a home at the front of our property where it's denser and we don't have the homestead and all the surrounding infrastructure.  Of course we worry about the fruit trees and the garden. The fence around the garden is no match for deer and the fruit trees have zero protection.  


So far, knock on wood, they have not done anything and they've been coming around for a long time, it's only now we have the actual video to know it.  We read that some people put out deer feed to purposely bring them and it keeps them from eating their more valuable plants.  We can easily do that.  But then if we attract them, do we put more in the area and increase that chance anyway?  Or is it that they are there anyway even without us adding food for them, so what does it matter?

Decisions decisions...

Monday, November 13, 2017

SPRING IS IN THE AIR IN NOVEMBER


 The big carpenter bees were all over the still blooming purple vitex...


And the lantana (including a bunch of butterflies).


The collards are coming up nicely (though I'm guessing they'd like cooler temps too).


And look!  You see the little green sprouts coming up?  That's garlic!  Fingers crossed!


What's this?  Why it's one of the plum trees...


They are BOTH in full bloom.  We have removed the blossoms but it sure was pretty while it lasted.


And what it this, a Spring thunderstorm? No, it's an Autumn thunderstorm and with that, the weekend was cut short.  It was 82 this weekend, we broke a record for the date. 

We are ready for Fall...wherever it is!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A TALE OF TWO PATHS

I like to put photos together that I can contrast with our downtown living and our property at the farm...
  

Here's a view from the apartment. 
There is one path there...


And here's another path, this one at the farm...

Speaking of, as this posts, at the farm working on some projects.  Good weekend so far, cool-ish (it warmed back up a bit, ugh) but no rain so that's good.  We hope everyone is having a good start to their weekend!

Friday, November 10, 2017

GROVE OF TREES

Trees
Believe it or not, this is a relatively new discovery on the property.

Our hotter than usual Summer followed by the hurricane rains, exposed this spot.  Ironically, it's in an area that we can't currently get to because there is water around part of it and heavier vegetation behind that.  

In order to get this picture I had to find a clearing that I could stand in and then zoom into.  It's so pretty but we have no clue what kind of trees they are.  They are completely different than any other trees on the property so we'll need to make sure that in the future, as we clear and change the property, we leave these alone.

2nd Man said we should blow this up into a framed print.  Nice weather (hopefully) coming for us this weekend.  Excited for the possibilities.  Now we just need Mother Nature to cooperate.



Thursday, November 9, 2017

GAZEBO INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Every Thursday we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm. Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

Open gazebo, image via Pinterest.com
A few weeks ago we posted about a space behind the barn and shed.  Some of you suggested a gazebo.  Of course this isn't something we'll do soon but we were looking online anyway just to get ideas.  We like both of these. Of course this one is open...  

Screened in gazebo, image via Southernliving.com
...and this one is screened in.  We think in our climate, it would be more useful if screened in.  No bugs (especially mosquitoes!).  Of course we are betting those are way more expensive but it might be worth it in the end as it would make it an extension of the house as an "outdoor room".  It would be nice to use for a variety of things, dining, relaxing, sleeping, etc. Of course we'd still love it surround by flower gardens, ha.  I still think that's a great area for raised bed cutting flowers.  Best of both worlds!

Be inspired! 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

CANDIED JALAPENOS RECIPE

Recently, I posted about the gift a sweet friend sent to us. These candied jalapeños. SO good. She actually used a recipe that we got last year from a friend of the blog (thanks Kate) who posted it.  

Since I never got to make them this Summer with all of our jalapeños, I thought I should post the recipe even if I don't have the step by step photos yet.

Candied Jalapeños
Ingredients:

3 pounds fresh, firm jalapeño peppers, washed
2 cups cider vinegar
6 cups white granulated sugar
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp celery seed
3 tsp granulated garlic 

Remove stems from the peppers and slice them into 1/8 to 1/4 inch rounds. Set aside.

In a large pot bring cider vinegar, white sugar, turmeric, celery seed, and granulated garlic to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the pepper slices and simmer for exactly 4 minutes. 

Immediately, using a slotted spoon, transfer the peppers into clean, sterile canning jars while leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.  Turn up the heat on the pan with the remaining syrup and bring it to a full, rolling boil.  Boil hard for 6 minutes.

Use a ladle to pour the boiling syrup into the jars and over the jalapeño slices.  You can save any leftover syrup that doesn't fit as a glaze for meats!

If you water bath can them, it's 10 minutes processing time.  You can also put them in the fridge where they will keep for about about 4 to 6 weeks.

They also do best by letting them age for a couple of weeks to allow the flavors to blend.

Candied jalapeños on crackers with cream cheese
Of course, we love them just about any way you can imagine but they are best simply like this, on crackers with cream cheese.  The cheese cuts the heat and is just a great combination of flavors.

I've also been known to put some on a slice of bread and have a candied jalapeño sandwich.  Just sayin'

DISCLAIMER:

PLEASE NOTE:  You are responsible to know and understand the current canning and processing recommendations for safety.  Canning is fun but you MUST follow guidelines to make sure you are doing it safely. I had to learn (and still am) so do your research on safe canning techniques.

 A great link to official information is http://nchfp.uga.edu/ and 
of course, the literal bible of home canning information, the Ball Website.



Tuesday, November 7, 2017

RAISED BED GARLIC TRYING AGAIN

So the old phrase, "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again..." is our motto at the farm. 

The garlic didn't come out last year, so we're trying it again this year!

Lorz Italian garlic
We ordered some seed garlic, this time from a different supplier.  It's still the recommended variety for our area. "LORZ ITALIAN".  It's a softneck variety because hardneck does not do well in our climate.  It has been in the refrigerator for about 4 weeks already, something different that we didn't do last season and was recommended after some reading on potential problems with garlic crops.

Raised bed
I had the soil all prepped.  FYI, I used the red plant cages to let me know which beds I had already turned and made ready for planting.  

Planting garlic in raised bed
I poked 36 holes in the soil, each one about 3" deep,   separated the cloves and placed into the holes pointed end up.  Then I just covered it all and filled them in with soil.

Garlic raised bed
Lastly, I covered the entire bed with straw mulch and watered it in well.  We will water this once a week, it doesn't need daily watering and we should see sprouts in three weeks or so.  Last year, we kind of stopped watering in the Winter and depended on regular rainfall.  In retrospect, there wasn't a lot of rain last Winter and I think it may have dried out and stunted the growth.  

We'll keep it watered this year, cross our fingers and hope for the best!  If it comes through, we'll have lots of garlic next May.  

Watch out vampires, ha!