Sunday, October 30, 2016

Thai Red Roselle Results

I first Posted about Thai Red Roselle on April 15th, 2016. It was one of the new things we were trying. It grew very well in this climate and thrived along the edge of the herb garden. It made a flowering hedge between the garden and the highway. The flowers are really lovely.

We watched the plants grow and in mid  August they started to bloom. Up to that point they were just pretty bushes with dark red stems and red veined leaves. They did not bloom heavily until September but I did harvest and dry calyxes for Red Zinger Tea during late August.

The nice weather we have had in September and October allowed a great number of calyx's to develop.

An average limb of our Thai Red Roselle.

Here is the row of Thai Red, I picked this side on Saturday Morning. You can see how bright the Calyx's are and the red of the stalks. It really is pretty.

Here is the first bucket I picked, I knew I was going to need more buckets at this point and took this one in to show Ralph and yes....get more buckets!

I was pleased with these results.

Now to make the jam. I had to tear the leaves away from the calyx and sort the seed pod from the leaves. Some recipes call to save the seed pods to get natural pectin and I have saved the seed pods to try  this with the next batch but I just wanted to make a simple jam with these calyx's as I have not done this before. I did nibble on one of the "Calyx Leaves", it was tart, tangy and a bit astringent. Not unpleasant or bitter  but sharp if that makes sense.

Here is what I did.
1- Peel the calyx leaves from the seed pod.
2- Simmer on low the calyx leaves until they are  reduced and cooked soft.
3- Run through a food processor to get a smooth puree. 

I got 6 cups of a very thick, deep red puree that smelled very good and looked quite interesting! [I am wondering if the drought we are having made these calyx's less 'plump' and that would affect the thickness of the puree.]

To this  puree I added 2 cups of water and 3 cups of sugar. I reduced the sugar  from 3/4 cup per 1 cup of puree to 1/2 cup of sugar for 1 cup of puree.
I added 1 pouch of liquid pectin and treated it as I would any other jam. I brought it to a boil, stirring constantly until it sheeted off the spoon. The reduction of sugar doesn't bother us as we like tangy jams.

It became more translucent as it cooked but remained thick. I poured it into hot sterilized jars and water bath canned it for 10 minutes.

6 Pint jars and 1 Half Pint jar  were soon sitting on the counter, I had cleaned the pot with the spatula and there was enough to try this lovely red jam on fresh bread. Ralph likes it although he makes a great show of my cooking being dangerous! It really is unique and marvelous. I think it would be very good with cream cheese and crackers or on Ice cream. It is a unique flavor, a hint of rhubarb, a whiff of straw berry, maybe a dash of lemon....

Thai Red Roselle Jam

All in all this experimental crop was a hit. We discussed where we can grow more of it next year. The plant was very low maintenance and we did not see any signs of disease or bug issues. 
I do know Jam is not the healthiest way to eat things but now we know we like it I think using young calyx in salads and drying more of them for tea will help get the good nutritional values of this plant into our pantry.

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
205 kJ (49 kcal)

11.31 g

0.64 g

0.96 g

Vitamin A equiv.
14 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.011 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.028 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.31 mg
Vitamin C
12 mg

215 mg
1.48 mg
51 mg
37 mg
208 mg
6 mg

So 2017 [gosh it is weird typing that] will see more Thai Red Roselle here on this farm. I hope this  information helps you look at this plant as an addition to your gardening adventures. I think it would work in a pot on a balcony if you  live in a city, or maybe on a patio if you are limited for space, I  know it would add both beauty and interest in landscaping. Now I am going to go and have some toast with Roselle jam.....God Bless you all and be safe.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Video Bits from Cub Run

This is just for fun...

We are planting the grape vines today and stacking hay, doing housework, sorting knitting supplies [thanks to EIEIOMG, Punkins Patch and Mama Pea]
The 'outside world seems to be quite out of control so home chores are a blessing.
Take care everyone.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Food For Thought...the state of family debt in this country

Ralph and I read a lot. We keep abreast of the news as best we can. I have to admit it is discouraging sometimes but we beleive we have to know as much as we can.

We found this blog and enjoy it for the facts and honest, well researched and documented articles. I felt I had to repost this article and Ralph agreed. So here is a repost from The Economic Collapse Blog.

During The Coming Economic Crisis Two-Thirds Of The Country Will Be Out Of Cash Almost Immediately

By Michael Snyder, on October 10th, 2016

Did you know that almost 70 percent of the U.S. population is essentially living paycheck to paycheck?  As you will see below, a brand new survey has found that 69 percent of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.  Of course one of the primary reasons for this is that most of us are absolutely drowning in debt.  In fact, the total amount of household debt in the United States now exceeds 12 trillion dollars.  So many Americans are so busy just trying to pay off their existing debts that they can’t even think about saving anything for the future.  If economic conditions remain relatively stable, the fact that so many of us are living on the edge probably won’t kill us.  But the moment the economy plunges into another 2008-style crisis (or worse), we could be facing a situation where two-thirds of the country is in imminent danger of running out of cash.
If you are living paycheck to paycheck, you live under the constant threat of your life being totally turned upside down if that paycheck ever goes away.  During the last crisis, millions of Americans lost their jobs very rapidly, and because so many of them were living paycheck to paycheck all of a sudden large numbers of people couldn’t pay their mortgages.  As a result, multitudes of American families went through the extremely painful process of foreclosure.
 Unfortunately, it appears that we have not learned anything from the last go around.  According to the brand new survey that I mentioned above, 69 percent of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings…

""Last year, GoBankingRates surveyed more than 5,000 Americans only to uncover that 62% of them had less than $1,000 in savings. Last month GoBankingRates again posed the question to Americans of how much they had in their savings account, only this time it asked 7,052 people. The result? Nearly seven in 10 Americans (69%) had less than $1,000 in their savings account.
Breaking the survey data down a bit further, we find that 34% of Americans don’t have a dime in their savings account, while another 35% have less than $1,000. Of the remaining survey-takers, 11% have between $1,000 and $4,999, 4% have between $5,000 and $9,999, and 15% have more than $10,000.""

Perhaps the most alarming fact from this survey is that 62 percent of all Americans had less than $1,000 in savings last year.  So that means that this number has gotten 7 percent worse over the last 12 months.
How did that happen?  I thought the mainstream media was telling us that the economy was getting better…
Look, if you don’t have an emergency fund you are in danger of losing everything.  This is a point that I have been making over and over again for years, and in an article about this new survey USA Today made this point very strongly as well…

 ""This data is particularly worrisome since the recommendation is for Americans to have six months in expenses saved in case of an emergency, such as a large medical expense, car repair bill, or losing your job. Without this emergency fund to fall back on, millions of Americans could be risking financial disaster.""

As the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, people are constantly asking me what they should do to get prepared for what is coming.
The number one thing that I always suggest is to build up an emergency fund.
In a chaotic situation it is always hard to anticipate accurately what is going to happen, but without a doubt we are all going to need to continue to pay our bills and to buy things for our families during the next crisis.
Yes, someday the U.S. dollar will become rather worthless, but until that happens you are going to need to continue to put a roof over the heads of your family and to put food on the table.
And you are going to need money to do those things.
Some time ago, the Federal Reserve also found that a large percentage of Americans are living on the edge of financial disaster.  They discovered that 47 percent of all Americans could not even come up with $400 to pay for an unexpected emergency room visit without borrowing the money or selling something that they own.
If you can’t even come up with $400 you are really hurting, but that is the status of about half the country these days.
We are continually being told that the economy is strong, but that is simply not the truth.
In fact, it turns out that the period from 2005 to 2015 was the worst period for per capita real GDP growth in modern American history.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

  1. Growth was unusually strong in the 1960s and early 1970s. In every year from 1966 through 1973, per-capita income was up between 30 percent and 40 percent from a decade earlier. Thus, it’s not surprising that many Americans recall this as a great period for the nation’s economy.
  2. In every year from 1984 to 2007 — a period that economists call the Great Moderation, because of the way both growth and interest rates stabilized — per-person income was up between 20 percent and 30 percent from a decade earlier. That’s ample reason for Americans to view this as a good period for the economy.
  3. Cumulative per-person growth from 2005 to 2015 was lower than in any prior decade in the sample. That certainly helps explain why many Americans are unhappy with the nation’s recent economic performance.
 And as I repeat over and over, Barack Obama is on track to be the one and only president in all of American history to never have a single year when the economy grew by at least 3 percent, and he has had eight years to try to accomplish that feat.
Why doesn’t Donald Trump ever bring up that amazing fact?  I would think that he could get a lot of mileage out of that number.
At this point, nobody can deny that the middle class is shrinking.  61 percent of all Americans lived in middle class households in 1971, but now the middle class makes up a minority of the population for the very first time in our history.
Back in 1970, the middle class brought home approximately 62 percent of all income, but today that figure has plummeted to just 43 percent.
Those that are still doing well often dismiss those that are struggling by barking out such phrases as “get a job”, but the truth is that getting a good job is not so easy these days.
The most recent statistics show that there are 7.9 million Americans that are considered to be officially unemployed.  When you add that number to the 94.1 million working age Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force”, you get a grand total of 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now.
And just because you do have a job does not mean that everything is okay.  As I have discussed previously, 51 percent of all U.S. workers make less than $30,000 a year according to the Social Security Administration.
Everywhere you look things seem to be getting worse and not better.  Not too long ago I documented the explosion of tent cities all over the country as poverty continues to rise, and I discussed how one study found that some young women in our impoverished inner cities are so desperate that they are actually trading sex for food.
Sadly, it isn’t just a few hard cases that we are talking about.  Even in areas of the country that are supposed to be “doing well” we are seeing record-setting poverty numbers.  For example, it was recently reported that the number of New Yorkers sleeping in homeless shelters just set a brand new all-time high, and the number of New York families permanently living in homeless shelters is up 60 percent over the past five years.
If things are this bad during an “economic recovery”, what are they going to look like once the economy really starts imploding?
 And considering the fact that almost 70 percent of the population has virtually no savings, could our nation handle an extended economic downturn that may be even worse than what we experienced in 2008 and 2009?
As a nation we truly are living on the edge, and it isn’t going to take very much at all to push us into oblivion.
 I hope you enjoyed this article. This blog is worth a look and I am sure a lot of you know about it. Saving money is difficult when people are heavily in debt and since we live beside a  highway near lakes and rec areas we see an amazing amount of debt drive by in the shape of fancy ATV's, Boats, Horse trailers, brand new Vehicles, and high end motorcycles. Then we also see Garage sale after garage sale with people selling things to get extra cash. There are also liquidation places that sell pallets of goods that people sell in flea markets to make extra money. In fact we find several neighbors have had a job loss in the family and the are trying to  make ends meet and to fill the job loss income by flea marketing or selling baking and the like.

After the Presidential debate last night Ralph and I talked long into the night. We evaluated all that we have done and are doing to be prepared. We live on a fixed income. We are in a fairly good position. We have no land payment, we have food and the ability to raise and grow more. We have a seed bank reserve. We are healthy and active and we have a plan.

God Bless you all and be safe.


Monday, October 17, 2016

Fall Photography

I have to admit we have been busy as usual. Anyone who raises their own food or has livestock big or small is kept hopping with all the chores.
Our trees are changing color and the nights are cool enough for a comforter. The poultry is busy in the harvested areas of the gardens getting bits and pieces and disturbed bugs. The young chickens are the best hunters and they have been mousing right along with the cat and her large kittens.
Yes life is good and I have taken photos of the start of the second year at Cub Run.

We got the first of our new fruit trees and they are now in the ground. 2 Santa Rosa Plum, 3 Elberta Pear and 3 Kiefer Pear. [ Somehow I missed the third peach and the third pear in this photo.

The grape vines to replace the ones they used to have, are here and waiting for the final choice of trellis system. We did find the roots of the original grapes when we dug in the second pear tree and we discovered the hole where a trellis post had been cemented in for the missing grapes. We feel like archaeologists!

The Australorpe hens that had the 17 chicks and mothered them together still have 17 but only one hen is still a full time Mother. One gave up all together but the second still helps at night and in the morning.

The "horde" has discovered the old bales and they love them for nap time, dust bathing and of course shelter. They blend in really well and despite the fact you cannot see all of them they are there....chirping and cheeping and scrapping!

We harvested the last corn from the big garden and when we get our grinder will turn the corn into meal. Ralph flail mowed down the stalks and it is just waiting for rain. Right now it is too hard to till  the trash in and get cover on it.

The stuff you see still growing is the row of peanuts and they will be harvested this weekend with any luck.

The Diakon Radish, Austrian Pea cover crop mix is doing quite well and even though the poultry are out there they do not seem to be doing  much damage. More bug hunting and chasing  mice than eating greens. This is an Australorpe X Buff Orpington rooster we are going to keep to replace "Attack". Yes "Attack" is getting more aggressive and not just to me but to the hens. So he is going to be "stew".

The Maple trees are turning color. We have 6 of them and each one turns at a different time and then turns a different color. The front west tree is the most beautiful and turns first!

All in all things continue to go fairly well. We got a large trailer load of loose hay cut, cured and hauled into the barn. It almost fills a box stall we do not use. We cut it with the drum mower and Ralph raked it with the Molon rake. It is fine quality hay, short stemmed and green. He should be proud of himself as he has not done a lot of haying and he has put up good feed.

Now we are heading out to clean the chicken nest boxes, the beautiful nest boxes Ralph made are not being used like we thought they would so we are experimenting with bedding inside them, Straw, hay or shavings. We will see which they prefer and see if it makes a difference in how much they use them.
We are also walking out to the  fields to decide if we are going to cut more hay on the south end of the hay field.

I hope you like the videos.....Happy Fall everyone!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Fall winds and Fall Tasks

Today I was going to post about pumpkins but after hanging the first load of laundry on the line I decided a post about the years laundry without a dryer and Ralph's' continual battle with crazy weeds would be better.

I posted about the clothesline last fall. In fact it was posted on the 5th of October. I fell in love with the clothesline when we saw the place. It is so well built. I tend to do laundry about every 10 days. The simple system I set up when I started has worked well. I did however have a happy accident with a way to keep the poultry out of the Utility building when I wash. I made two panels for dividers too use to keep hens with chicks separate. They did not work for that, too big and awkward. [I used to work  cattle and Ralph says I still build strong enough to hold bulls!] However.......they are perfect to put under the garage door with a space for the washing machine hoses to be outside and the water to be hooked up. We also used them to allow airflow in the building during the worst heat of summer.

As I hung out the first load of wash today I have to admit I felt good about it. The bright fall sun is warm and the air is dry and fresh but best of all there is a brisk fall breeze blowing. Perfect for drying clothes without a dryer sheet or fabric softener. These clothes will smell sunshine fresh because they were actually dried in the sun and fresh country air.

I have had wonderful results for the most part. A few adventures come to mind though.

#1 When the turkeys were quite young and learning to fly, anything they could perch on was fair game. The clothesline cable is small though and to see them trying to balance on the line made us get stitches in our sides from laughing so hard. I did not laugh quite so much when they did this with clothes on the line!

#2 The fall migration of Asian beetles was horrible and its soon going to happen again. I learned to make sure I shook all the clothes out before I put them in the hampers to bring in the house. Those horrid things love any small pleat or fold and bite if you happen to disturb them.

#3 Sudden rain showers. This occurrence only caught me with clothes out twice but when it rains two inches, on nearly dry laundry you need to run it though the spin cycle to start the drying again.

#4 Having the cable break just as you hang the last towel on the line and it is totally full! The cables were not new and when it was built they ran them through one eye-bolt to the next eye-bolt then back to the other post. This saved on tighteners but made kinks where moisture could collect and the plastic cover of the cable wore through. So it simply rusted, became weak and snapped at the worst possible moment. It is now repaired. Each of the four lines is separate with its own tightener and cable protector. Here is a good design, very similar to this clothesline. They use cord but I recommend plastic covered cable.

So I am writing this post as the last load of wash is soaking, I can hear all sorts of happy poultry noises from the open door. The breeze is working the wind chimes and in the background is the noise of the Grillo with the flail mower on it, Ralph at the helm, hacking down the undergrowth.

The "Horde" enjoying pecking through some fresh chopped weeds.

We got behind the weed growth. First of all we really had no idea how this climate can grow things. Secondly we had warranty issues with the Grillo. It's clutch was a new version, quicker to use. We discovered it might be faster but it is not heavy duty enough for the combination of heavy brush mowing and the power and vibration of the Koehler Diesel. Ralph took it back to Earthtool three times, each time it broke the weather was perfect for farm work. We would get it fixed and be ready to go and it would rain. Earthtool has been wonderful to deal with. They finally solved the problem when they decided to replace the new model clutch with an old style and much heavier clutch. We have not had any problems since. This was a problem caused by innovation to make these two wheel tractors easier for small gardens and estate work. It is not feasible for what we do with ours.

 Part of the freshly cut sheep paddock, the poultry was going crazy in the short fresh cut grass. Lots of bugs were disturbed. They scratched a lot of the ground and it was good to see the old tilth Ralph had flail mowed earlier this year was working into a great mulch layer.

You can see the height of the weeds to the right behind the gate. Also to the left side of the photo. I had managed to keep this area in the middle, short for the summer.

Ralph heading into some heavy going with the Flail Mower and Grillo. This is just above the apple trees. The flail mower chops this huge, heavy stemmed weed growth into a 3 to 4 inch fine chop. It breaks up quickly after it is cut and we like what it is doing for the soil.

So that is how we are spending our day today. Laundry and weed control. There are a few other things in the works, like Green Tomato Jam and dehydrating a squash. I always seem to have dishes to do and I have to think of something for supper.

Life is busy and full and we like it that way. And tonight....we sleep on sun dried sheets that smell divine! Gods fabric freshener, a marvel not enough people get to enjoy!

God Bless you and be safe.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Seminole Pumpkins.....perfect

We are starting to harvest our squash and pumpkins. I know tomatoes are everyone's favorite thing but pumpkins are special around here.
We tried a wide range of new varieties to us as we finally have the space to raise them.
I would like to tell you about the Seminole Pumpkins.

 These are a hit here. There are just the two of us but we love baked squash, a huge squash is fun for its size but when it comes to using them they remind me of eat it for days, you make soup and you freeze bits of it and the chickens get some when you just cannot eat anymore.

These pumpkins are just the right size for us. They do not take long to bake and 1/2 of one is a great serving for one person. They have an excellent cavity for stuffing although that is still in the future. The flesh is a deep rich orange and flavorful but not sweet. They are wonderful sprinkled with cinnamon and a bit of butter or simply spiced with a bit of Paprika and Brown sugar.

The plant itself is prolific, even in less than desirable conditions. They produced lots of the small pumpkins in the heat and humidity of this past summer but they continued to set fruit when it turned extremely dry. The vines are not tall or bushy but spread all over the place. They did not seem to attract the squash bugs or any other bugs for that matter and the vines did not show any sign of disease.

They have a very tough rind...I found this out when I went to bake the first one. I was going to peel it and cube it to roast with apple and potatoes. It did not work, at least with the style of peeler I have. That was when I made the decision to bake the halves.

This is the information from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

(C. moschata) 95 days. [Cultivated in Florida by the Native Americans in the 1500s.] Keeps up to 1 year at room temperature! Small fruits are sweeter than Butternut and have firm, deep-orange flesh. Large vines bear bell-shaped buff-colored fruits averaging 6 in. in diameter. Resistant to vine borers. Excellent downy mildew resistance; a good choice for hot, humid, disease-prone areas. Give it ample water and room to roam. Also good as a summer squash when picked young.

There was an excellent article about them on the Slow Food USA site.

We harvested 25 of the Seminoles two days ago and they are curing for winter storage. We suspect they will keep well. There are probably 30 more of them still on the vine, not quite ready to pick. The vine is still setting fruit.

Today I am going to stuff one with a rice, pepper, tomato and chicken carnitas mixture for supper. This pumpkin will be in our gardens for years to come. Ralph has been debating planting them along the slope of ground by the road. We love the low maintenance of this variety. I hope you find this old Pumpkin something you want to try in your gardening efforts.

Now we are finally getting to the point where most of our meals are all home grown ingredients. One thing we have noticed is how much less trash we have when we use our own goods. Growing your own food has so many advantages and the reduction of plastic packaging is one of them.

Take care and God Bless you with a bountiful fall harvest.