Saturday, October 31, 2015

Turks Turban...The tale of a Squash

October 28th, 2015. A beautiful fall day and the floor in the living room is going to be installed and the curled lino issues fixed along with adjustments to the siding on the house.

We were up early and had everything ready when the contractor called to say he was going to work on another job as the weather was good and it was an outside job. Since he fit us in to his already busy schedule and we have so much to do anyway it was not a problem.

I canned more tomatoes and made apple butter and salsa. Ralph cleaned the chicken house and then went to get a load from the storage unit which we want cleaned out by month end. He asked me if I wanted to go and I decided to play hookey from the house chores and go with him.

He is a sneaky sneaky man! It was the very last produce sale at Hart County Produce Auction. We went to see what they had and you just cannot go to one of these events and not come home with some wonderful buys and terrific produce.

Purple Bell peppers, huge red stuffing peppers, tomatoes of course and the ultimate fall produce squash and pumpkins.

Ralph bought 15 flat white pumpkins for 35 cents each. Two box's of little striped squash of some kind for $2.50  and 3 enormous dark red pumpkins for 45 cents each. There were Pink Hubbard squash and even a pumpkin with strange warts! However in my mind the deal of the day was a big box of Turks Turban Squash for $2.75.

You can see the corner of the box filled with the Turk's Turban Squash in the top right.

They have always fascinated us but we have never had one or grown them before, we thought if nothing else the chickens will like them.

When we got home I knew what we were having for supper....but how to cook it. I researched a bit and found a stuffed Turban Squash recipe that looked easy and straightforward. 

I did have a few issues cutting the top off, the rind is like seasoned oak! I scooped out the seeds and Ralph took them to the chickens who went crazy over them!

I baked the halves, face side down for about 50 minutes in a 350 degree oven. The rind was still as hard as a rock but the flesh was tender and stringless, a nice rich yellow.

I browned lean pork sausage with onions, peppers, garlic and celery, added some bread crumbs and the scooped out squash flesh. I mixed all this together and stuffed each half of the squash. Then I topped it with Mozzarella and baked it for a further 25 minutes.

It was excellent and we had enough for a very good meal the next day when the flooring did get installed.

So that is the tale of a Turk's Turban squash,  they are now on our must grow list and we look forward to seeing how they store over the winter.

We are so blessed to live in an area with a farm produce auction. These auctions are where many road side produce stands get the vegetables they sell. Ask where your food comes from and get out there and try this strange shaped squash that was such a wonderful surprise at our local produce auction!

God Bless you all and stay safe!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Not Gone Just Super Busy

Well I have to apologize for not posting but we are going great guns here.

The electrical work is slow.
The roof for the house has been chosen, Ivy Green metal that will be installed in early November.
The new flooring for the living room is at the flooring place and it will be installed when they come to repair the week.

Ralph had his first successful hay crop, cutting, raking and hauling a ton of loose hay into the back of the barn. Well not totally successful as the rain ruined about 3 tons we didn't quite get hauled fast enough. The hay in the barn is nice and I am proud of the old guy as he has never hayed before.

The chicken house construction in the big barns main ally way continues. We had a lot of debris to clear out and then fabricating to do to deal with a barn built on a slope with NO square edges or lines in it....nothing is level either. I have been taking photos of our progress and will do a post when it is done.

The poultry is growing like crazy, the keets escape on a regular basis but Ralph can herd them with amazing skill! I can see a movie called "The Keet Whisperer" in the future.

We have a temporary run for the chicks near the garage where they spend their days soaking up sun and chasing bugs.

Ralph also had his first successful foray at the Hart County Produce Auction.
I have been canning, freezing and dehydrating like crazy since Friday.
The gas stove and counterspace is pure heaven to work on and with. I can use all the burners on the stove at one time and it goes so very much better.
Today I am dehydrating turnips...the vendor had washed them and they are not going to store as we had hoped.
There are 5 quarts of peppers diced in 1/2 inch square peices (before drying). They are so nice to use that way and look pretty in the jars.

Green tomato mincemeat, chow chow and green ketchup are in the works and our pantry is recovering from no main garden for us this year.

The yard design for the gardens, fruit trees and berry bushes is laid out but still a work in progress.

The office is painted but the rest of the painting is on canning delay.

The basement is turning out so well for jar storage (new jars), preserving storage for newly filled jars and potatoes and the like.

It also holds clothes we do not need now and other assorted odds and ends. It has both an inside entry and outside which is a real joy.

Anyway things are going quite well for all the things we have to do, the place is home and each day shows us something wonderful. The Maple trees are turning the most wonderful colors and the big old oak is feeding a family of squirrels. The mockingbird is trying to imitate the keets and there are Killdeer and Meadowlark calling out their songs.

God bless you all and keep well and safe.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Poultry pics

Ahh teenagers.....independant awkward and they know everything.

The Turkey poults, they love their temporary perch. They can tight rope walk along it then use it to fly to the top of the plywood that is the wall of the pen.

The Blue Swedish ducks. These are the biggest of the ducklings and the quietest. We liked them after watching a P Allen Smith youtube video about them.
We will be calling one of the duck's  Mavis Ann after the star of the video. Of course there will be Olaf, Sven and Heidi! Right now the entire group runs up to us when we call Duck Duck Go!

Here Ralph is holding a Cayuga on the right and a Khaki Campbell on the left. They were not impressed with the photo op and sort of hugged each other. The Cayuga are quiet and slightly bigger than the Khaki and will be a good sized duck. They lay black eggs that, as the duck ages, get paler to almost a light gray.  The Khaki are a bit more nervous but the influence of the Swedish and Cayuga seems to be making them quieter.

Ahh the keets, they are doing well but as gentle as we try to be with them they are skittish. They are eating well and finally getting more feathers, they got wing feathers first while they still had looked very strange like broken wings!

Here is a buckeye, we think a hen. They come right up to see us but are not so happy when we actually pick them up.

 This is the Buff Orpington group and they are about the quietest chickens I have ever seen. They swarm over Ralph's boots when he is feeding them and will actually perch on his toes when he walks!

This little fellow perched on Ralphs hand and gave me the eye when I took the photo. They are quite curious chicks and fearless when a turkey drops in for a visit. They will peck at the turkey's tailfeathers. Well there is an exception. One of the Royal Palm has visited enough that they are used to him. One of the Buckeye chicks made the mistake of sneaking into the Buff pen and the turkey poult actually defended the buff chicks by chasing the Buckeye.

So there it is, a brief poultry tour. They are such fun and we are pleased with our selections so far. Construction on the chicken house inside the tobacco barn is going fairly well, some snags but with innovation and missmatched tin roofing we are making a secure area. The use of the roofing sheets buried into the ground will keep wood away from the manure and moisture and should keep digging predators out. The outer barn walls are not secure yet and replacing the rotted sections is a huge job that we will have to do in stages.

Now have a great day and stay safe. It is raining here and that is making it a very fall like day. The leaves are just starting to turn.
Happy fall!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Serious Laundry

This will sound trivial to someone in the city with a decked out laundry that has all the amenities down to a dog wash, but today I did the first serious laundry at our new home.
The Amish family that we bought the farm from used the garage/shop building as a laundry. She has a gas powered wringer washer and her husband had built a beautiful 4 line clothesline that is anchored to be tight under a heavy load.

I have mental health issues because 'I' loved the Clothesline on sight! We both like sun dried clothes and at the old place there was a rickety Clothesline that sagged horribly and would only hold 1 load of clothes at a time.

When we saw how the Amish used the shop we thought we  would try that approach. It gives us room for a small house deep freeze in the laundry area in the home and if the weather is bad there are lines in the shop to hang at least one load of laundry.

The view from my laundry room.

We have been quite busy and using up our store of clean clothes until I just had to do laundry. This morning as the sun came up with hints of a glorious day to come, I set up the washer. It is jury rigged as we were not sure if it would work but it does. There are a few issues...I have no cap for the cold water line and it drains a bit, I am catching that overflow in a pail to use for the chicks.
I need to make some sort of bracket to hold the drain hose at the right height and yet where it reaches the drain outside, and yes we are going to have to get biodegradable laundry products.

It does not look glamorous but I am on load #5, and as it washes I post a blog, watch Ralph flail mow the yard and listen to the poultry chirp, cheep and sqawk.

As to the is wonderful. It has slackened off  bit and I will need to tighten the turnbuckles but I can hang the laundry, all I am doing with room to spare. The t shirts don't sag and there is room to hang sheets!

Okay I am airing my laundry but it's not dirty laundry! We all think of things we are going to do to make a property more suitable to our needs. This time though we are adapting to this property and how it has been used. The plan to do the laundry in our garage-shop-poultry palace-  utility building looks like it will work well. And seriously how could I ever have a better view doing something as mundane as laundry?

Happy Wash day everyone! 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Understanding what you sell

Yesterday we got 1000 board feet of  1x8's  1x10's and 1 x 12's. It is band sawn lumber from an Amish sawyer about 2.5 miles from us. We have shopped at Home Depot, Lowes and other big home stores like everyone, and I am sure we will shop at those stores again, they do rule the world so to speak.

However shopping local is on my mind more and more and this experience is one of the reasons we ALL should local source the things we need to build, can, and generally use about our homesteads.

1: Good Prices for what you get.
2: Knowledge of the product.
3: It may be a reachable source of something you need after a crash.
4: Often these business's provide other sources that you may not have found other wise.
5: Keeping the money in the community.
6: Cheerful conversation while loading.
7: A smile at seeing you.

These are just a few of the basic advantages of local shopping. We saved several hundred dollars on the actual lumber, saved fuel, found a firewood source and learned which planks to use to repair our big old tobacco barn walls. We also found a furniture maker that could use some of our old barn board to make furniture as we repair the building.

It was an enjoyable transaction as Ralph and Mervyn hand bombed the lumber into the back of the pickup.[It has a topper and we do have a love hate relationship with it but so far its rain protection has saved it]. The  men talked weather, feeding pigs, tractoring chickens, barefooted children  on gravel and of course the best wood for what.

The buying of feed locally has had many similar results. Knowledge of the area we would not have found, discussion of GMO and its consequence. A potential of Ram sales from our sheep. A source of economical organic fertilizer and all sorts of other things. This is from a man who knows his store and the feeds he sells. He is more than happy to find things you want and has won us as customers. The big stores have dragged us away from this team work aspect of shopping, much to the detriment of service and what it should be.

The Home and Building supply store shows us how things can be in a store that services both  large contractors and local builders as well as DIY folks. I still wade through the huge paint chip fan and I am getting the walls of the house colored to my preferences with  paint we bought there. They know where everything is in their store and have knowledge of what each produce is good for and which would be better if your selection is not quite right, often saving you money at the time. They have the supplies we need to change the doors on the tobacco barn from hinged doors to track doors, with lots information in the process. They make shopping a lot easier and offer more than competitive prices with any of the Chain stores, with much better quality!

So now we are heading out to put the wood to use,  dividing up the sections of tobacco barn into its next reincarnation as a mutli use animal facilitiy.

Think about your entire shopping experience next time you head out the door. Look local I know you will find it an enjoyable experience with surprises you do not expect.

God Bless you all

A special Congratulations to Leigh at 5 acres and a Dream. She has sold the 5000'th copy of her book and hopes to have the second one done by Christmas. She is having a draw for a copy so wander over to her blog and enjoy the reading.