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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Living

The past defines us as a person, but one can not live there. It can have a strangle hold on your future if you wallow. I have many things in draft, the good, the bad and the petty. And I have several things in draft explaining why I have not been writing. Mainly it has been because of fear. Not fear of failure, nor fear of what you may think, but a personal struggle within myself. I have come to the conclusion that they are best left in the past. To dwell zaps energy and happiness. (I am even having a hard time publishing this) 

But in the past few weeks, I have come to the realization, that no matter what happens, I live with the truth, and will accept whatever fate feels the need to push in my way. It's how I have always lived, but there is something about this place that makes you want to hide within yourself. 

The past few weeks have brought a multitude of blessings. Some I feel I may share, some I feel best to wait to publicly acknowledge. I have been purging the negative, with the help of some wonderful new friends. I am of course still homesick, but the kindness and work ethic of these new people have helped bring me around. 

I have so much to be thankful for. Husband's new job (though I rarely see him now), friends with dune buggies (that has been a blast), friends that see the hurt and want to soothe without anything in return. Suddenly our lives are full of people that want us. It was like a switch being thrown, we met one, then another and it begain to snowball. And so many are of like mind. The amount of Preppers here is awe inspiring. They yearn to learn the skills their grandparents had, that their parents skipped on. I already have a handful of men asking me to teach them to can. This will make an interesting summer. I have been given heritage seeds by many of them. Things they "stole" from grandparent's gardens or were handed down and have been growing in kitchen gardens for years. I have been given the heads up on where to buy things and where not to. I have met with people that have excess, and wish to share, in exchange for knowledge and play time. We have some cool projects up and coming because of this.

I have also met several writers, both novelists and newsmen, and have been invited on a few outings and get togethers. They have been great helping me push aside the loneliness. 

With Husband's new job, things have opened up for us. Not just money, but in mentors and friends. A member of the Crow nation has taken a liking to Husband, and has been sharing secrets. Some of them rather disgusting, I giggle. But traditional. I have been learning about moutain Magic as well. The odd happenings on the property lead me to looking around. And I have discovered a group of Travelers. I have been warned away from them by a few locals, but they interest me too much. Plus Large is friends with one of the children. I knew Travelers and a gypsy family when I was young. I know not to get on their bad sides. Heck, I shouldn't be talking about it, but I am not naming the families, and from what I understand, there are a couple different families in the area. 

Geeze I am just opening up here. There is much more to talk about, less personal things. But I would like to finish a few things before talking about them. My education has expanded, even though we have decided to do many things prairie style and forego the woodsman ways for a few things. However we have several people willing to show us how to really live in the woods. Part of it is I think they just want an excuse to ride their dune buggies on our driveway.

Happy Thanksgiving to you.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Cobwebs in my eyes



This weekend some friends voluntarily came over to help put in fence posts. Yes, you read that right, voluntarily! It was nice to see an Irish boy working with a Scotch. 



Well, until that moment when things went terribly wrong. Small,  medium, myself and Irish boy's wife ( should give her a nickname as they might be appearing in the blog regularly) headed into town to grab some lamb at the shop and a couple of ingredients for dinner at the grocery. On our return, Husband's head was bleeding, and Irish boy smugly walked up to the truck. "I beat the crud out of him." Irish Boy's wife and I sat there, our eyes as round as saucers. Husband says "he took the tamping round and swung it at me like a bat." For those of you that don't know, a tamping rod is a 6' pole of heavy gauge metal, (aka pike, sucker rod or spud bar) with a flattend end for tamping down dirt, and a spaded end for breaking rock

Photo is of the next day. Big ole knot!


Suddenly they both start laughing. Husband with a knot and blood in his right eye, giggled. "No, I pulled a stupid, did it to myself." It was that moment that I realized that these two were not only going to give me trouble, but they are fast becoming thick as thieves.  Needless to say relief flooded us both. Silly boys.

They managed to get all the posts into the ground. My job today will be to use that tamping rod to secure the posts. Once that is done I can soon start on the barbed wire. I am actually looking forward to it. I have missed being able to do so much physical labor. The last few years, with the leg issue and all, had basically put a stop to many of the things I use to do. I still do not have full flexibility nor strength, and some days it aches so much that I do resort to using my cane. But I am alive, I can use it much more than I did a year ago, and for that, I am grateful.

Update (even though this isn't yet published) I tamped down the poles and set kickers. Barbed wire is now being placed. Come-along is a girl's best friend. As I was tamping, eyes wide open, I would literally get cobwebs in my eyes! It was a disturbing feeling. 




 I made dinner for our new friends. (Told you I would be back with mutton recipes). They happened to crash here, so I made two mutton dinners. The first night I decided to go traditional Autumn.

Let's call it Fall of the Mutton

2 sweet potatoes (the call them Southern Yams here)
1 medium sized butternut squash
1lbs mutton meat
2 cups chicken broth (plain)
4 red apples
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Butter
Salt
Pepper
Sage

Peel and dice up sweet potatoes. Place them in a pot with the chicken broth. As that heat over a medium heat, peel and cut the butternut squash into larger, yet manageable pieces than the sweet potatoes. You do not want your squash to get too mushy. Add to the pot. Dice up the mutton into bite sized pieces, add salt and pepper to taste and place into the pot. Cover and reduce heat. Cook until your squash is just tender. Remove from heat and drain.

Peel and dice the apples. Add 1 Tbls butter to your pot, stir in the apples. Over a medium high heat, slightly brown the apple pieces. Add the cream, and fresh sage (2 mince leaves fresh, or 4 crumbled pieces dry). Stir until it begins to thicken, reduce heat to low. Add 4 Tbls butter and the mutton/squash mixture back into the pot with the apples. Stir well. The sweet potatoes will purée itself as you stir. It should not be the texture of soup. If it is, slow cook uncovered until the cream sauce thickens.

Salt  to taste, and serve hot with fresh bread.

Mutton and Fall Rice



I was cooking for 7 people.

You will need, 1 cup rice for every 2 cups chicken broth

1 small butternut squash
1 lbs mutton meat
Spinach
Butter
Grated Parmesan cheese
Mushrooms (we used puff ball shrooms)
Fresh garlic
Salt
Pepper
8oz cubed cheddar cheese
Sage
Parsley 

Place broth in a pot and bring to a boil. Add 2 fresh sprigs on minced sage (4 crumbled if dry) and as much parsley as you like. Peel and dice up the butternut squash, add to the broth. Pour in the rice and return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until rice is tender. 

Slice the mushrooms and mince 1 clove of garlic. On a skillet, melt 1 Tbls butter and begin to brown the garlic. Once golden in color, add the mushrooms, and lightly brown.  Add the lamb, and cook for a few moments. Remove from heat.

Add as much butter and Parmesan as you prefer to the rice, tear up the spinach and stir. Add salt to taste. Stir in the cubed cheese then serve before the cheese fully melts. Add the mushroom and lamb to the top, serve with fresh bread. 


Irish Boy's wife caught the mushroom hunting bug. She left here with 2 grocery sacks full of wild mushrooms. She was the one that found the wonderfully sweet puff mushrooms.  All in all it was a productive weekend with some really good people. Only spoiler was that someone had tried to break into their car that sat at the top of the driveway. Nothing stolen at least. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Mutton Awesomeness

The last few days I have been offline. Instead spending some time with Husband. I won't be seeing him very much over the next month, or so.

I have been experimenting with food. I miss doing that. But with the windfall of lamb and mutton at my fingertips, something has to be done to keep everyone's palates happy.

Unfortunately I do not have photos.


However I do have two awesome mutton recipes. (For now)

My sheep were a bit over two years old. Ideally mutton is preferred over 3 years old. I don't like mutton.  It can be too tough and too flavorful. Yet my 2 year olds came out perfectly flavored. I know that the image above says Dorper, my sheep were Black Belly Barbadoes and Desert Paint mixes. The lack of laniolin tends to help keep the meat from being "greasy" flavored. Similar to Spring lamb (3 months of age) that you tend to find in American Supermarkets. 

Lemon Pepper Mutton

Leg cuts
Dried lemon zest
Butter
Pepper Jack cheese
Salt

I took about a 1 lbs leg cut, and sliced it into bite size pieces. Melt 1Tbs butter in a cast iron skillet. Over medium high heat, add the mutton cuts, around 2 tsp dried lemon zest, and a sprinkle of salt. Stir. The butter and the juices from the meat will rehydrate the zest. You can use fresh lemon zest if you want. Once the meat is about medium rare (takes only a few minutes) reduce heat and crumble the pepper jack cheese over top. Do not strain the juice. Mix together and allow the cheese to melt. Serve hot. 

(I served it with fried potatoes with lots of fresh onion and garlic, and scrambles eggs.)


Mutton Roast

Roast
Mushroom gravy

Very simple, place your roast into a pot or slow cooker, add gravy and allow to cook all day. I served it with mashed potatoes and green beans.

Homemade mushroom gravy

3 Tbls unsalted butter
6 oz fresh mushrooms (I actually used the dried wild mushrooms. Because the flavor intensifies once dried, I did not use as much)
Salt
Ground pepper
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups beef broth (or stock)

Over a medium heat, melt butter until it foams. If using fresh mushrooms, add. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Stir occasionally, allowing the mushrooms to "brown" a bit. About 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms, stirring as you do so. Toast the flour for 3 minutes. Pour in the wine, scrapping up any bits stuck to the pot. Mix for 30 seconds. Slowly add the broth, using a whisk. 

If adding to a roast, stop now and pour into your slow cooker. (Add the dried mushrooms here if using)  You do not want it to thicken up just yet. While cooking, add a bit of wine or broth (whisking around the roast) to keep it from firming up too much.

If wanting to use as a gravy only, bring to a boil, stirring constantly for two minutes. Remove from heat and add 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream. Salt and pepper to taste. 


More recipes to come.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Our Monday


Warning; a few of the photos at the end are considered graphic.


Husband pieced together a smoke stack. It won't last all season, but will give us time to get something else.


Medium took this picture as we drove into town for Doctor appointments, and then off to school.


Photos not in order of happenings. 

After dropping the boys off at school, I returned home to find Husband lounging outside. All three sheep hanging from the trees. We can't afford meat this week (long story and hope to share with you all soon, it isn't bad even though it sounds like it right now. Sacrifices must be made! Giggle)

Now the story turns into "My Monday"


Husband went a little psycho on the throat, but the head will come off anyhow. The picture is deceptive. The creek is further away than what it looks like. All three gutted and skinned as darkness fell. 


Unfortunately the ram; getting his revenge, perforated bowel, fun times. Though I made really good friends with our new hay guy's dogs.

The boys got home and Small asked if he could help skin.

He is pretty good at it, though there was a small knick in the hide, and he got upset. I told him not to worry about it. He is so fascinated about animal anatomy. I think Small will be a wonderful vet. He is deeply caring for all the animals, he tends to wounds, helps us with any bigger wounds. He is careful, fascinated, and sympathetic. Hopefully I can get him some books on barnyard animal anatomy, and simple vetting books. 

As the night wore on, I had to finish butcher by truck lamp. Between all the posts I put in the day before, and butchering out all three sheep, my hands hurt. My fingers so swollen that I could barely remove my rings (just telling you this so you will feel sorry for me. Am I too old to do the teenager eye roll?)


 



Monday, October 20, 2014

Our Sunday










We know that we will be lucky to get two years out of these posts. However, that is more than enough time for what we are doing.


Monday, October 06, 2014

A wonderful visit

Longtime wife and her husband came out this weekend. It was wonderful meeting them. We had a great time, showing them around, and talking.

They also brought us a housewarming gift.

We will soon have walls! 


Longtime wife told me to stop beating myself up over my bad decisions of this past year. And I am trying.  I huge part of me wants to go back to Kansas. Another part of me is spiteful, and hardheaded, and determined to make this work. Even though it has been the hardest time of my life. Even through the homelessness, I never felt the despair that I have felt now. But.  . . I have an awesome support system in place, people I trust, adore, and admire for what they have done in their lives. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Picante Sauce using unripped tomatoes

Reader has requested the recipe once again. This is a medium spice recipe. Enjoy!


2 lbs unripe tomatoes, quartered and skin on

1 large onion
4 bell peppers
13 jalapenos
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salad oil
pinch of hand crushed fennel seed
dash paprika
dash chili powder

Using a food processor (or your amazing knife skills) finely chop the onion, bell peppers, and jalapenos. Add everything to a medium size kettle.

Since unripened tomatoes have little juice, you will need to stir this constantly over a medium heat until the liquid at the bottom begins to boil. Remove from heat, cover and place in a slow oven (200F) for 1 hour. Remove and carefully chop the ingredients in a food processor or blender (too hot for your mad knife skills) get those tomatoes finely chopped. Return to kettle or a new one, and place in the slow oven for 2 more hours.

jar and can in a hot water bath for 5-10 minutes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Seems like a losing battle to me alright.

You ever been so sick that you wiggle your fingers as you sink into a vat of toxic waste, then get your super villains confused and mutter "what a world. What a world"?  Yes, that ill. I am that ill. Yesterday I wanted to separate from my body, shake my head, and inform it that it was dying. You know those nights where you soak the bed in sweat and drool, then freeze to death in the wetness once the fever breaks? When 70F degrees puts you in sweat shirts because of the bitter cold? At least a can breath a bit this morning. The fact that I am no longer considering cinching myself up in a corset just to help reduce the amount of pain my chest and abdomen are in, should be a good sign. Still unable to take any deep breaths however. And now this monstrosity has attached itself to the children. Luckily with forced insurance (that denied Small's recent ER visit) they can go to a doctor. However I hear this is viral, not much can be done for that. Hot teas for all! 

I did allude to a losing battle, maybe I should get to that subject. 

I have loved homesteading for the last 13 years. The rewards have always outweighed the horrors. However I have met my match here in the Appalachian Foothills. I have found misery. Everything that can go wrong, has. I think I would like to stop now. However we gave up everything to be here. We have no choice but to continue on, even if we are on pure survival mood.

Last night I awoke to a very loud metallic noise. My brain being on sleep mode and recently oxygen deprived due to the illness, mumbled stupid cat. I assumed that the cat hadn't realized that the wood burner was once again in use, and had jumped up top per usual summer days, only to discover that cool metal wasn't there to meet his tender paws. With the lack of painful howls, I then decided that the wood merely shifted and in dream mode it sounded louder than it was.

(Speaking of cats. Those of you that have been with me for awhile, know the story of my cat, May Maybe Maynard or Maynard for short. He has been gone three months now, and I have mourned his loss. He was an important player in my life)

What actually happened was that the stove pipe exploded!







Luckily nothing worse, like the house catching fire, happened. 

Not a thing I can do to fix that right now.

On to bamboo and cows.

I dislike my cows. Once upon a time I adored them. Now they have caused a community to dislike me (shrug) and a stomach ulcer to form. They will not stay in their pen! Every day is a battle. (Right now I am waiting for a text informing me my cows are somewhere). No matter what I do, they break the barb wire (which is now so stretched out due to them and trees falling on it). This is an unneeded stress in my life. Even unable to breath, I am forced to hunt them down, chase them down hills (ok, well more like a zombie shuffle with the sound of death rattle emerging from my chest) and repair fence. Which I have started using the bamboo.


It's not what I wanted to use it for, but it is all I have to work with right now. I don't have the reliable connections here, as I did in Kansas, yet. Luckily I have access to more bamboo.

There is more woe is me to be shared. But I grow tired and must venture to the shop shortly, where I will hide away only emerging when a parts order is demanded of me . I also realize I have not returned all your emails yet, I will attempt to do that today. I plead illness. 




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