Welcome to the journey,the tale and the saga of our

Thursday, July 21, 2011

We are moving.......

We are moving this blog that is.After some thought we are moving over to Wordpress.Chance and I are trying to get the classes we will be teaching promoted in a better way and with the new site we can do that.We can also better organize all of the other things we share with you.
It's been great being here but it's time to change.We hope all of our followers will follow us on over.

Here's the link to the new page


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

7 jars of jam and our new stove.

 Chance and I made 7 jars of Strawberry Rhubarb Jam using the the recipe in the link from yesterdays posting. As you can see in the photo below we ended up using the Canning Kettle because we doubled the batch and could fill the canning kettle.

Round one of canning on our new stove.
   Somehow I forgot to blog about us getting a new stove.Well,it's not New but something even better to us,it's Vintage. Our old stove sucked overall and we never knew if what we were baking would burn or not.It was still working so we could not justify buying a new one any time soon.But my Mom was gifted this stove and didn't need it. Knowing we were disgusted with our stove Mom re-gifted the stove to us.For once re-gifting was the perfect thing to do.We have a love of the vintage stoves since they tend to be work horses and easy enough for Chance to repair.Just the fact that its repairable makes this stove a treasure to us.So many appliances these days can't be fixed easily or at all,what a waste of a lot of money.

Now back to the jam.Chance is home way before me on my work days so before I got home he prepped as much of the jam ingredients as he could.This made for a quick session of canning once I was home.I think all together it took about an hour to put the jam up.The division of the work and the ease of a smaller batch has insipred us to think about more small batches.Like my Mom said to me we might be able to put up more from our own garden this way.Chance also pointed out we could end up with a bigger variety of things,that sure would be the spice of life wouldn't it?

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

  This morning before work I was cruising around online and came across this recipe for Bacon Jam Hand Pies.In my pre-coffee haze I thought the recipe was for Bacon and Jam Hand Pies but as I read through it's for Bacon Jam. Oh My Goodness,Jam made from Bacon. And what is sitting in our fridge curing waiting to be smoked next week? Bacon,made by that handsome man of mine.I had Chance look over the recipe and of course he said "Let's do it" I am not overly interested in the Hand Pie part but once we make the Bacon Jam and have tasted it I may make it into the pies.Unless we figure out another way to use it.It is Jam,couldn't we just smear it on toast?

Finally, I am announcing this here for all of my readers first so if you want to snag a spot you can.Chance and I will be teaching a Chicken Butchering class here at Hrafinstaad  Friday Aug 19th at 6 PM.The cost of the class is $30 , you bring your own chicken to butcher then take home and one sharp kitchen knife.We limit the number to 10 so there is plenty of time to give help as needed.The closing date for sign up is Monday Aug 15th. Email us if you are interested- hrafinstaad at aol dot com.Please feel free to spread the word.

I am feeling so much better about how things are going around here.Seeing the back garden growing rapidly has given me much hope that we will carry on.Also reminding myself that there is actually a nice list of veggies that we can plant in the coming weeks for winter gardening has put some get up and plant in my feet.Speaking of winter gardening.Chance picked up some free window glass so we can build a couple of cold frames for a winter garden.I'll post more when we start the building.


Canning Kettle or just a pot.

Last night I realized we do have enough Strawberries and Ruhbarb to do a small batch of jam. I went and checked out a recipe I had seen over at Food in Jars website. As I clicked my way on to the site I found she is doing a give away for a Ball Home Canning Discovery Kit.The kit has 3 pint jars, a canning basket that holds only 3 jars and a recipe booklet.I signed up for the give away because I was excited about the smallness of the canning basket.This nifty basket can be used in whatever kettle or pot you have it will fit in with enough room to cover the jars as you process them,awesomeness! If I had that basket I wouldn't always have to heat up my giant canning kettle for small batches of jars.If I won the give away it wouldn't be here for the jam I am wanting to make but the next time, if I was the lucky winner , I wouldn't have lug out the big kettle,wait forever for it too heat or use more water and power than a few jars are worthy of.

 After I had clicked on the comment send button I thought to myself.."Wait a minute! I need to call Mom" Somewhere in the back of my mind was a thought I couldn't pin down about my Mom and canning kettles.I think I had even blogged about this vauge idea.Had I? Never mind,I'll just call and maybe I'll end up repeating myself in a posting but oh well.

 So I ring Mom and fill her in on the small batch of jam,the small basket Ball now makes and my missing thought finally arrives in my head.The question I posed to my Mom was "I don't have to have a canning basket to can right? Didn't you tell me you can just put a kitchen towel in the bottom a pot so the jars don't rattle around?" Mom's answer was,you don't have to have a canning kettle or basket.She then reminded me that she had told me once upon a time about how she never had an actual canning kettle and just used a big pot for her canning.As long as the pot has enough room for an inch or more of water to be over the tops of the jars you are good.

I can't tell you how nice this thought is to me.Sometimes getting the big kettle out for smaller jobs is just a big pain in the butt.And I think about the water used and the power too and cringe.Too much waste! Now that Mom has reminded me/filled me in on this I feel much more inspired to do smaller batches of things.

My Mom was impressed with Food in Jars promoting smaller batches of canning.Mom said that it made sense,a person could put things up as they came into season in your own garden.I guess no one had thought of this back when Mom was canning.It was always these big canning days filled with rows and rows of jars.

Maybe I have repeated myself about not needing a canning kettle to can or maybe all of you already knew this gem but for some reason it excites me.Probly because now my small job can stay a small job all beacuse I can just use my soup pot.

So this evening sandwhiched between dinner,Scout drop off and pick up Chance and I will be making jam.And even if our weather isn't looking like summer the house will smell like it.I'll let you know how it all goes.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Just found this..

This morning I found this blog through an ad she has on the local Craigslist webpage. I am impressed with her knowledge of chickens and natural ways to care for them.I wish I wasn't working on the days she will be selling her chickens here in town.I am not looking to buy but would love to see the birds anyway.
 In one of her postings she writes about using herbs from your garden as a way to keep pests like lices from your chickens. All you have to do is add the herbs to their bedding in the coop. We currently have tons of sage and mint growing as soon as it dries out here I am going to add some to the coop bedding.I don't want to do it now since wet bedding is never a good idea for any animal.

 Well this is just a short quick post before I leave for work.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Although they are growing up,they still wonder at the beauty of the deep green woods.

   Yesterday, our escaping rooster  left.It was time for him to go else where,yet again he escaped but this time Chance caught him before he could become "The Destroyer of Gardens". There is no way we were going to risk loosing our plants again.We took him to the feed store to be re-homed,he's a handsome devil so I am sure someone will want him.His handsomeness is what has saved him from the stew pot.

  This morning as I was waking up I was wondering what was wrong in the world...kind of extra quiet out there...oh yeah,the rooster is gone.The rooster crowing hasn't been a huge bother to us and none of the neighbors have said anything to us but I think the quiet morning will be nice.When I went out to check on the hens this morning they seemed fairly happy and mellow.Maybe they like having the Roo gone too.

  The re-planted garden beds are looking hopeful.The Green Beans we planted have popped up.Even though we re-planted late I am pretty hopeful we will still get some beans.I was reading through a copy of a Sunset magazines gardening book, which is dated from the '70's but still is useful, about how you can plant beans successively until mid-summer.I've never bothered to do this since we always get enough for fresh eating from one planting.My fingers are crossed it works,our last few summers have come late and stayed late,if this stays true we may be in luck.The weather here still seems to me to be a month behind so we shall see.

  Another idea I found in the Sunset book was a shade idea for lettuces.You build out of wood a frame that is basically a rectangle on legs,the legs being about belly high.You then place this frame around your bed of lettuces and cover the frame with a sheet to create shade.This is not a new idea to me,I've seen variations around but re- reading about it reminded me that I've had this on my list of possible solutions.

 We are still picking strawberries,none of which have made to the freezer,the boys keep gobbling them up too fast.Our raspberries are also ready for picking.We don't have enough canes to really grow enough berries to make much.We just eat them fresh while they last.The same goes for the 4 blueberry's  we have.They are still just young enough to only give us  a handful  at a time for snacking.

  July is a crunch month for Chance at work so I am not too sure how many projects we will get done other than just keeping things going.The turkeys have yet to arrive,pinning down a time when this can happen is proving tricky for all of us.

  We did find time last week for the four of us to pack a picnic and head out into the woods for a hike.It was lovely walking through the dappled sunlight.We saw so many wondrous things I should do a whole posting about our day.The photo at the top is of the boys pausing  to listen and wonder .We had many stops like that along our way. Seeing the boys exploring and still taking the time to stop to investigate something that caught their eyes was a joyful thing.I can only hope that even as grown men they will still carry their love of the woods in their hearts.And someday maybe they will stop with their own children to listen to the woods.  

  I had a few links I wanted to share before the old computer crashed.I was only able to find one of them.I'd like to try making these sugar cubes soon simply because I think they would be so fun to have around. Finding this has also inspired me to look into making Maple Sugar Candy***.My Dad and I love Maple Sugar Candy but I can only find it around Christmas time and it is a bit pricey. After seeing the the sugar cube idea I thought that maybe the Maple Sugar wouldn't be much different.

  That's about it folks,just some everyday news. I really feel like Hrafinstaad has come to a point where we are done with large projects for awhile. We still have some areas here where we would like to tinker it into a more useful spot but have yet to come up with plans.It will happen I am sure.

  Today I am calling around about picking raspberries for jam making.I missed the strawberries because I thought I would use ours but those pesky always hungry teen-aged boys had other thoughts.I am also looking into when the blueberries will be ready,soon I would think since ours are almost there.I'd like to put some in the freezer for winter.

   My final photo today  is of the handful of tiny treasures I found on our hike.

           From the bottom up:  Birch cones, the curl of white is a  piece of paper wasps nest, there are 3 tiny snail shells, a bit of robins egg and at the top is a fluffy blue feather from an unknown bird.


*** I looked up making Maple Suagr Candy,looks easy enough only a little bit of cooking.Here's the link.

Monday, July 11, 2011


 Our computer crashed,went belly up,gave up the ghost and it was so annoying. We now have a new computer but until Chance finishes installing all the gizmo's I don't have the posting I am wanting to share with you.I'll be back in a day or so.Before I do go I'll say this,having a computer that actually works the way it should sure is nice.It's kind of like when you get your car tuned up,you just didn't realize how badly things were running.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Just so you know...

 When the going gets tough these Homesteaders get working! The last few weeks have given us some set backs but Chance and I are pushing back.
   The Pigweed is coming under control by us pulling it.So far it has only popped up in the walk areas around the garden. We purchased plants for the back garden to make up for the Rooster eating the seeds.And in a couple more weeks it will be early enough to plant some of the fall things.So growing food is happening!
  We opted out of the geese coming and instead we will soon have two Spanish Turkeys.Our friend needs to move the Turkeys out from her coop since her Ducks are beating them up.The deal we worked is one will be our friends and one will be ours.Both birds will be dinners when the time comes.
  Also, the rumor around town is folks are looking to learn to butcher their own chicken more than ever and no one is doing it.Chance and I have decided to pick up the slack and start teaching again.Soon we will have dates for group classes and more information on private lessons. So far we have worked out that the group classes will be $30 a person with the individual providing their own chicken to be butchered.For the private lessons it will be $50 base rate with variables depending on what the person is needing.I.E - they want us to stay and walk them through a whole flock of birds.Chance will also have Culling/Killing Cones for sale at the classes. Please help us get the word out.People can email us through the blog.
 Yesterday morning Chance and I found our last remaining hen from our first flock had passed.We had been watching her and thinking this day was coming for a few weeks.We had noticed that she had slowed down,would get lost and was found soundly sleeping in the yard at times.She had gotten kind of low but perked up for a couple more weeks but finally she was done.
   This has happened over the years as the hens have aged so we knew what we were seeing.The hardest part about watching this for me is I struggle with just letting them linger and go on their own or putting them down to put them out of their misery. So far we have just let them go on their own since none of them have had any signs they had something the other birds could catch.
  I have the mind set that the hens are live stock and not to be mourned over.I love and care for them but I know they go away one way or another.I broke that yesterday and found myself teary eyed over her going.Cleo was a great girl who had laid beautiful green eggs every day until she was 4.She was also just a sweet hen in general.She had a good chicken life and we thank her for it.I suppose I was teary because it was kind of sentimental,the last chicken from the first flock.The flock we started waaay before chickens became the thing to have in your backyard.
  Chance and I have also come to realize that we both miss the way things were before I went to work.There are many things we have let go of over the past months and they are sorely missed.So we are working out how we can get back to where we were and how to maintain it all for the long run. We had created a homestead that ran as well as it did because I was home full time and could manage most of it on my own.We need to re-group and find our balance point again.