Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Apples Apples Apples pt 2

Cider gurgling away in the pantry

Most are pie filling, some frozen apples
There are 2 boxes in the freezer

There is also a layer next shelf up and
in the deep freezer

Pantry shelf

Apples Apples Apples pt 1

The goal this year was to double the amount of apples we picked 2 years ago.

In 2014 we picked from 3 trees all different.

We made:
6 batches of hard cider,
10 frozen pie fillings,
3 gallons of dried apple chips,
12 pints of applesauce
12 quarts canned spiced cider and
4 gallons frozen cider.
Chris and the girls picking one of the last trees

In 2015 there were no apples.

Buckets of apples were lowered from the roof
at 3 buckets per Rubbermaid bin.
This year we picked from 9 trees

We currently have:
8 batches of hard cider bubbling
18 or so frozen pie fillings,
10 gallons of dried apple chips,
14 quarts + 23 pints of applesauce
24 quarts canned spiced cider
27 gallons frozen cider


4 - 5 gallon buckets of cider hanging out in friends' garage refrigerators that are awaiting a way to store them.

I am confident that we surpassed our goal.

 I think the entire month of October Chris spent 12 hr days picking and processing.  He ate his meals at the cider press.  He even pulled a couple all nighters when the press we rented from the local brew at home store was due back the next morning.

The girls would fill the dehydrator every day.  Between the 3 of us we kept up on housework, garden chores, schoolwork and tried to help him out sorting and crushing.  But mostly it was just Chris and apples.

Now we are trying to finish other projects before the cold weather comes and hopefully make it back to finish the 2 - 55 gallon barrels of apples still waiting to be processed.

Monday, October 31, 2016

All Hallows Eve

Halloween used to be my favorite holiday.  Gathering a costume, going to a party & general shenanigans.

Then with children it became all about the trick or treating.  Watching the initial hesitant "trick or treat" with downcast eyes that morphed over the years into a fearless bravado of being allowed to get candy from strangers.

But the girls are older now, off to a party with friends, the costumes mostly created from her closet (In this case casual Widowmaker with clothes she has worn to school and a cosplay wig.  Rhiannon purchased a witch hat to wear with 3 year old dress she uses for RenFaire and her favorite combat boots)

Chris and I, also older, used this year's holiday as a break between the work of harvest and the rush of the winter celebrations.  We gave out candy from the side gate, sharing a pizza and a couple hard ciders.  We listened to the Rocky Horror Picture Show after, of course, Everyday is Halloween by Ministry  (released in 1984 - we are aging punk/goth after all.)  We built a fire in the firepit and talked, enjoying the relatively few trick or treaters.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


I have been cooking a lot with lard lately.

I am very interested in not using shortening these days and butter does not always translate well.  I have been making hashbrowns, frying eggs, and sauteing vegetables.  But this has not been the hydrogenated store bought lard, but some I made myself.

A month or so ago I purchased 3 lbs of leaf fat from Jodar Farms at the Boulder County Farmers Market.  I quick search on Google gave directions for using a crock pot to render it.

Now I have rendered lard in the past, but both times I cooked it a little too long on the stove - not only smelling up the house, but creating a light brown product that was only fit for the birds.  (Literally - I made "suet" cakes to hang outside/give to the chickens in the winter

This in mind I ground the fat with the meat grinder then filled the crockpot and turned it on low.  I plugged it in outside, but it turned out to be unnecessary - in an hour the lard was done, no smell.

After straining the cracklins, I poured the lard into a container to cool in the fridge.  The cracklins were placed in a cast iron skillet on the stove.  (2 birds, 1 stone - the pan needed to be seasoned)  Once drained again on paper towels I froze them, for a use as of yet unknown.

Today I am baking my Grandma Lundborg's raw apple cake, using lard in place of the shortening the recipe calls for.

Update 10/7 - cake is gone and a request has been put in for more, so success

Friday, September 30, 2016

Fodder System - up and running

As I mentioned in February, we have been on a quest to cut ties with pellet feed.

Hours were spent reading message boards and watching how to videos

Different areas of the house were tried (an small unused shower in the basement won)

Hand watering vs automatic (the answer is automatic)

3 types of containers (heavy duty grow trays worked best for us) and drainage options (angle trays and 1 row of drilled holes)

So far we use 2 cups organic barley soaked for 2 days on a 10 tray rotation.

Unfortunately the hens went into molt soon after so we don't know how well it is working, (production or dollar analysis) but they seem happy with their 2 1/2 lbs of fodder plus 2- 4 cups fermented organic feed they get daily with garden and table scraps.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Hail protection?

Our own tent city
 The forecast says heavy hail so I spent a couple hours this morning preparing.  I already lost 10 tomato and all the basil I had planted earlier this week.  The rhubarb also looks worse for wear (surprisingly the peas and strawberries faired okay)

Sheets on one side, 1/4 inch hardware cloth on the other (Peas)
I used an entire bucket of clothespins and all the spare wood in the garden + hardware cloth and wire semicircles from the damaged row cover to try to save as much as possible.  I bought all the double, queen and king flat sheets at the thrift store in addition to what we already had on hand.

So far nothing.

Since I am prepared, we won't need it.
Hoops over the strawberries