Saturday, June 28, 2008

Art Yarn In Progress

Here's a start, I need to change my maiden/flyer over to the jumbo flyer/maiden if I want to spin any appreciable amounts of yarn. The oriface on the standard Ashford flyer is too small for this type of spinning, some day Ill have a second wheel base!

Art Batt

Wool batt, silk carrier rods, silk sliver, flax, mohair roving, and thrums are available in my shop.

Normally I don't post here but wanted to share what I was up too tonight, I'm experimenting with some new art yarns. Right now I'm tired and am hurting a lot from doing yard work today, so I cheated and instead of making up a new batt I pulled a half used one out of my stash. The silk carrier rods to the right are rust dyed the others were dyed using acid dyes.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thomas in Window

Kitty Still Life! Thomas my Maine Coon cat sitting in the window sniffing the great out doors after a down pour.

Clematis After Rain

Sounds like a good name for a beautiful plant that has been recently drenched!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Well tonight ensued an emergency trip to the pet departmeent of my local super megalomart! I found not one but three flees on Angel, our sheltie, this meant bath time again (the poor dogs just had a bath last weekend), for all of them and then application of the anti-flee medication. Tomorrow I will commence cleaning the whole house, using the cleaner on the sofa and easy chair, and clean the carpets, I will then go to the big box megalomart super hardware store and buy flee and tick killer for the lawn!

Paranoid? Maybe. But experience has taught me that I'm VERY allergic to flee bites and this is something I'm just not willing to mess around with. It's been in the back of my mind as it's been really wet here, and a wet spring equals lots of flees, and now I have proof. Back in the 90's I had about a dozen bites on my legs they both swelled up to about twice their normal size and turned a purplish black color, I looked like I had been half beaten! Two trips to the doctor later and it was discovered that I had been bitten by a flee or two and had had a nasty reaction.

Oh and cats really don't like taking a bath!

Grape Arbor

John got it built finally! Orignally it was supposed to have reclaimed columns and a brick patio but at the last moment we decided to put the vegetable garden back in this year. Next year I'll work on container gardening.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sour Cherries

Will post pics tomorrow, we picked about 4 gallons of sour cherries tonight. My friend, Becky, invited us down to pick the cherries at her place! tomorrow I will can them, it's a lot of work right now but will be well appreciated come January.

Friday, June 20, 2008

New Freezer - NOT

Well our new chest freezer was scheduled to arrive next week but now it's not coming until July 3rd! Sears called leaving several frantic messages telling us it was being "reshipped" the last message I recieved informed me that my chest freezer had been damaged when it was dropped off, literally and figuratively, of the back of a moving vehicle. Nice well at least they told us the truth, I'm figuring it must have been damaged and really badly for them to admit to the fact that it had been damaged.

Until the new freezer arrives it'll be an ongoing archeology dig in the upright as it's still producing a ice at a breakneck pace! There may be no glaciers atop the mountains but there is definately one growing my my upright freezer!

Monday, June 16, 2008

First Harvests

Rhubarb Sauce!

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam this will be really tastey this winter on homemade bread!

Antique Coffee Grinder

Here's another view of the coffee grinder.

Antique Coffee Grinder

A view of my antique coffee grinder, this would be suitable for grinding grain in, if you can figure out how to get it apart!

Homemade Pizza

I made homemade pizza on Friday using our freshly ground Hard Red Winter wheat berries and it was incredible! Things I'll do differently next time, divide the dough in half so I don't end up with the thick crust, I'll make cinnamon rolls with that instead, and bake the crust an additional five minutes before loading it with the goodies. Oh and we are also making and canning our own pizza sauce because the stuff from the store was well - GROSS! John has a recipe he makes up and it is light and it is wonderful.

Wheat Grinding Attachement

Champion Juicer with Grain Mill attachment, side view, it comes with a bag that snaps onto the grinding attachment but we quickly found it annoying and place a low flat bowl beneath the grain mill.

The juiciing attachement for my Champion Juicer, ours has the commercial grade motor so should be able to grind a lot of wheat for us if need be.

I have a Champion Juicer there are the two attachments that came with my machine, I have a juicing attachement and a grain grinding attachment. I have heard that if you have a Kitchen-Aid mixer of 500 watts or more you can use their grain mill attachment but not to try it on the smaller mixer, which is what I have!

You could probably use a regular coffee grinder to grind wheat berries I'm just not sure how long it'll last. I have an antique coffee hand grinder and it grinds wheat quite nicely.

Hard White Spring Wheat Berries

White wheat berries make better cakes and breads, if you like the really soft stuff. It has more gluten than the Red wheat berries therefore allowing your dough to rise more.

Hard Red Spring Wheat Berries

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Gamma Seals

What is a Gamma Seal? It is a screw on lid that one puts onto a plastic food grade bucket for long term food storage. NOTE: Make sure you really want the lid on your bucket because once you hammer the ring onto the bucket, use a rubber mallet, it's there for good! You'll have to destroy the bucket to get the ring off.
WalMart has these in stock in various stores around the US for $4.38 each. If your WalMart isn't carrying them tell them you want them and here is the sku #076939714027

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Jerusalem Artichokes

They are growing like crazy with all of this rain, I'm sure they'll make it to 12 feet in height this year.

Soggy Garden

My garden which is in sore need of weeding but it's to muddy to get in there right now. Unfortunately we have more rain in the forecast.

Potato Bin

John planted some potatoes in this bin with straw, this is a new experiment for us, will let you know how it turns out.

The idea behind this potato growing method is as the starter potatoes send up shoots you put more straw, and another round of wood (or tires) and you keep doing this until you are ready to harvest. This is supposed to encourage more potatoes and less vines.

Purple Cabbages

My purple cabbages are coming along nicely. To protect them from slugs etc., I'll put a roof shingle at the base of each plant, apparently slugs don't like crawling across roof shingles!


Hardware cloth tent, it's a strip of hardware cloth 1/4" holes, bent in half to create a barrier against birds, etc., this strip is over my mustard greens. To make it chipmunk proof I'd need to put caps on the ends to keep them out.

Coffee cans surround my young pepper plants protecting them from crows, grackles, and the wind.

Compost Bin Update

Now finished we've been using the compost and have since added about a half ton of rotted horse manure to the mix. We haven't ever had problems with critters in our compost pile, unless you count two legged critters!

Garden Fencing

I was asked how I deal with critters in my garden and whether or not I put fencing materials over the top of my garden. Rabbits are a major issue here, second only to ground squirrels, crows, and grackles. Here are some ideas on what I do that I found works:

I don't put fencing materials over the top of the garden - yet anyway. The fencing keeps the rabbits out, and not the young ones or the chipmunks. To keep the small rabbits out I have, in the past, put a layer of hardware cloth around the bottom of the chickenwire fence. I have a friend that uses old screen windows to do this.

What I found that works really well for young tender plants is to use coffee cans, juice cans, milk jugs, and 2 gallon plastic buckets, all with the bottoms cut out as a barrier to critters. I put them around the plants until they are big enough that they are critter proof. Rabbits will eat a young squash or cucumber plant but when it's about 12 inches they don't bother them anymore. I then remove the coffee can from the plant. Mind you these plants are STILL inside of a fenced in garden space but a rabbit will jump a 30 inch fence, John and I have watched them do this, to get to young tender plants.

The cans etc., also protect young plants from wind damage and make them easy to cover in the event of a hard frost or freeze.

For the crows what I've used in the past are cds on strings etc. and strips of mylar from mylar balloons. I live in Iowa so wind is a constant here, most critters don't like the movement and tend to keep their distance. The crows seem to be enamored with snapping off my young tomato, pepper and squash plants. So the cans, I use the smaller coffee or juice cans, prevent them from getting close enough to do this. They also like digging up my onion sets! Hardware cloth tent prevents this from happening - but isn't chipmunk (ground squirrel) proof.

Daring squirrels - I have dogs so the squirrels are not as daring as they'd like to be, and they know I've no problems with taking them out, squirrel tastes really good with mashed potatoes and gravy btw! Fry it up like chicken. Critters seem to pick up on human attitudes ;-)

As for possums, they don't seem to navigate the fencing well, and I don't have skunks here - praise the Lord for that one! That could be a real nightmare with the weimeraner that loves to chase everything - she's not all that bright.

I'll go take pics of my garden and post them in a bit.

Starter Pantry Inventory List

This list is by no means meant to be comprehensive but it is a start for a well stocked pantry providing a large enough variety of foods for any and all occassions. -well I'll post it as soon as I can figure out how to put the link here!

Potato Leek Soup

Going camping this summer, looking for a food gift that doesn't require much in the way of cooking or can be used later or do you simply want to put some food up for a rainy day (or a blizzard) - that actually tastes good then try this recipe on for size:

I found this recipe online and changed it to make it "taste" better.

1 3/4 cups instant mashed potato flakes
1 1/2 cups dry milk powder (I used dry whole milk as it's richer)
4 T. chicken bouillon granules (originally called for 2 T. we like ours richer)
2 T. dried minced onion
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper (originally called for white pepper)
1/4 teaspoon dried chives (make sure you use onion chives and NOT garlic chives!!!)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (originally called for seasoned salt)
1/8 cup dehydrated leeks
2T. dehydrated carrot chunks (adds color)
1/4 cup dehydrated potato chunks (these can be whirled in a food processor but I didn't bother)


1.Combine potato flakes, dry milk, bouillon granules, onion,parsley, pepper and salt in a plastic bag and shake to mix (original recipe said to use a bowl to mix but I have lots of recycled sandwich bags and chose to use one of them instead). Pour into a 1 quart jar.

2. Attach the following instructions to jar (use waterproof ink on label glued to jar or card attached with a ribbon): To serve, place 1/2 cup soup mix in bowl. Stir in 1 cup boiling water until smooth.

If you want to use this in long term food storage or for camping, then put into mylar or food saver bags and vacuum seal shut. Assuming you used fresh ingredients this will keep for quite some time in a cool dark place.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Garden's In!

Well after spending all day yesterday scrubbing the laundry room from top to bottom (it flooded this past along with everything else) I was finally able to get the remainder of the south and east gardens in tonight, before it begins raining again. A good portion of my cucumbers didn't come up so I planted watermelons a small fruit variety type that matures in 73 days or less. So come August I should have some ripe melons hopefully.

So the only thing that is left to tackle is the north garden, but the junk pile needs to be removed. First we need to find a source of clean fill dirt and then haul the remaining horse manure to the site and get it "composting".