Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sunny Days, Cool Nights, and Work Getting Done

Its been a busy few days getting caught up with some chores that have lagged and starting the fall chores. The weather in Southern Missouri has been beautiful with highs in the 70s and low 80s, low humidity, and cool nights in the upper 40s and mid 50s. The leaves are changing, night comes earlier each day and the migrant birds are starting to head south. The weather forecast fir the next week is sunny, warm and calm.

We have a bumper crop of Black Walnuts this year and they are getting $12.00 for a hundred pounds shelled and we have allowed some friends to come and harvest as we have 12 or 13 Black Walnut trees and as lame as it sounds, its just too much work for the gain in our opinion and if you have ever tried to pick the nut meat out of those shells...thats not worth it either.

We are still harvesting some tomatoes, peppers, herbs, Fennel and the cole crops in the fall garden are coming on strong. We also continue to harvest black eyed peas as they dry on the vine, the bird house and spoon gourds are curing on the vine awaiting first frost and we will probably harvest the sweet potatoes soon. I dont really know why our garden produced so much this year when we are in the middle of a prolonged drought and have had record breaking heat but we are pretty satisfied and we have a well stocked pantry and freezer to get us through the winter...and with the prices of food now days thats a good feeling.

So here are just a few pictures of our activities.

View from our back patio through the grape arbor to Judy's place; its very peaceful.

And of course Bandit is ever present. He may as well have his own fan club since so many people ask about him.

Yes we hang out laundry, thanks for asking. We even have one of those old fashioned clothes pin holders your grandma had.

None of this greenery existed a year and a half ago when we moved here. We planted the Summer Sweet, grape arbor, banana trees etc and they have all thrived through the past year and a half of record breaking heat, cold, rainfall and a couple near tornados.

We touched up the paint for the winter but the brown on the garage and house addition (not the stone) will eventually be a light green about the same color as the propane tank.

Cant get much more pastoral than this. Having a big yard is nice because we like the look and have lots of room to play, mowing is not so fun.

We feed a little grain to the cattle once a day to keep them happy and to get them to come to us.

We have come to find the various bugs here to be highly interesting if frustrating at times. This guy was on the Castor Beans and eating leaves which are highly poisonous to most animals (and humans).

Thelma and Louise are getting large and run about 850 lbs now. We found them at the second wood lot hanging out by the pond.

Staining the pole barn poles is more for wood preservation (even though its pressure treated) than aesthetics but we do what we can to take care of our stuff and was very relaxing.

And to show I am no chauvanist, we work as a team on everything and I took my turn as well.

I am a perpetually happy person but Holly says I tend to scowl all the time in pictures so here is a smile...what you see here is contentment with life.

Yesterday we got hit by the Counter-drug task force flying in National Guard helicopters looking for Marijuanna growing operations. They actually came in low and slow and I didnt get a good picture because I was waving like an idiot (all those years flying in helicopters and I still cant figure out how they fly)...nothing to worry about here but they did bust a grow operation not too far from here.

Maybelle is now out in the upper pasture and exploring. We found her today hanging out with Thelma and Louise and got this picture of her playing in one of the farm ponds.

Why dont you leave out pop cans? Bees.

Holly harvesting the black eyed peas. We let them dry on the vine, then shell them and pop them in the freezer to keep them from molding.

This is our second harvest with one or two more to go.

The horses have been hanging out a lot in the new pasture and eat a lot of carrots we cant seem to deny giving to them.

But as you can see from this picture of the ponys, they do a number on the pasture as they eat everything down to the ground and actually pull plants up by the roots. We still need to fence in this pasture and cross fence to give it a rest.

We all cut down the corn stalks and tied them in sheaves to place into shocks for more drying before putting it in the barn for the cattle this winter.

We have two corn patches, harvested all the corn we wanted for canning, left some for the deer and other animals, and still have a good amount for silage.

I actually did do some work here cutting the stalks but using the back injury to get out of some of this work was handy. We were glad Chris had the day off from work to help out.

We will put this up in the barn in a week or so..

Along with this one from the other corn patch.

And finally, if your not against vaccinations, dont forget your flu shot..flu is already showing up in Southern Missouri and we got our shots already.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

25 Sep Update

Well fall has finally started showing itself in the form of leaves starting to turn various colors. We dont have pictures of that yet because it is just starting but we plan to show the glorious Ozarks color display soon.

Its been a week of small projects and successes in my recovery and life is pretty good right now but I wanted to share something that I encourage everyone to be aware of. I have become very attuned to neurological issues since I have had my own spinal surgery and still suffer from some neurological damage in that I get dizzy when first getting up in the morning and when bending over...and I mean dizzy to the point where my vision starts to go and I almost keel over. My issue is probably related to the damage to my spine and specifically my neck and its either orthostatic hypotension or Menieres disease and not uncommon for those over 50. Its not too serious and you learn to adapt but my good friend Bonnie also brought me awareness to an organization called the International Essential Tremor Foundation ( and I urge everyone to take a look at the website and at least become aware of this progressive disease. I think most of us probably know someone who has ET but we dont know much about it and that site has some very good information.

So one of the small projects that I have been contemplating is replacing the rubber feet on our portable generator. We have a generator thats capable of powering the heat/AC and the freezer and refer and a few outlets in the event we have a power outage (which happens frequently here) but its not one of the high end generators and the rubber feet didnt last long. The rubber feet actually help stabilize the generator while its running and keep it quieter so it was no small issue we could just ignore...but being a scrounger and tinkerer I found a great solution to fix the problem as you will see below. I also want to appologize (sort of) for more food pictures but we are in the fall "lets cook a lot" mode and we have been enjoying the results of our efforts.

The rubber footings for the generator (shown here on top of the fuel tank after the tore in half) were so cheap you could tear them in half with your hands. We find that so many things are just made disposable but that if you take a little time to replace cheap nuts and bolts, retorque fasteners, and get creative you can modify some of this equipment to work fairly well.

Having lived in Alaska for so long and being a hocky fan the first thing that came to mind was a hocky puck..the devil is in the details though and we at first had a hard time finding hocky pucks in Missouri. But while waiting for my surgery and walking through a big sports store in Springfield we found exactly what I was looking for. First I drilled a center hole to be able to insert the bolt through the bottom into the leg frame....

Then counter sunk a bigger hole for the washer so that the bolt would be flush or slightly indented from the bottom of the puck...

And the finished product, the wider stance of the puck actually helps stabilize the generator and provides some additional vibration dampening.

So what happens when you leave a small vent hole open in the barn cat feed bucket?

Barn mice decide to have a snack. Obviously the barn cats arent doing their job and these guys, though kind of cute, went to mice heaven.

From dispatching mice to cooking...what a segue. Anyway, we took a whole chicken and cut it into the standard 8 pieces and browned them in bacon fat.

then browned some onions, carrots, and garlic...

Added some red wine, chicken stock, a little sherry (I used some Port instead), salt, pepper and some fresh Thyme from the garden and slow cook for a couple hours.

Braise some fresh Leeks from our garden...

Add some black beans with crumbled goat cheese and Holly's home made rolls and poof....a great meal of Coq Au Vin (Chicken in Wine).

And I couldnt let this little masterpiece we had the other night go without recognition. Slow barbequed beef baby back ribs (got a good smoke ring on it without drying it up) using Gates original BBQ sauce. When we lived in Kansas City so many years ago Gates was the place to go for BBQ and they now market their own sauce, at least we can get it here in the Mid West. Spicy and the best flavor imaginable.

And now for some garden pictures from today. Holly experimented with Fennel and its really come on strong now that the weather has moderated. Its very slow growing but its one of my favorites and we will plant a lot more next year (same thing with Leeks, we under planted that particular Allium).

These three are still kind of small but growing well. Horn worms like them though so you have to be vigilant, every evening we go out with the garden scissors and snip those little buggers in half, miss a day and they can defoliate the entire plant in short order. Lots of chemicals work to control it if you want to ingest that garbage.

Our first year Asparagas came on so well we will probably be able to harvest in the spring instead of waiting another year.

And Holly and Judy have various seed starts in the greenhouse for the fall garden including the raddishes and lettuce starts seen here...

And some tomatoes and broccoli. We have carrots, beets, spinach and cauliflower in the ground and its all looking good.

Next week we do some caulking, wood cutting, touch up painting, wood splitting, cut and shock the corn stalks, and start plowing and disking for winter wheat.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Final Steam O Rama Post Including Antique Trucks

Holly actually started to look at some of the things that were for sale like TRUCKS and TRACTORS and she is not a good influence on me. One thing stopped me from buying something money!

This truck wasnt even part of the show. We were ooohing and aaahing over it and when we asked about it the old guy that owned it looked at us like we were daft and told us it was just his truck and he had towed his trailer to the show with it...gotta love the Ozarks!

I am not really sure what this is actually, its self propelled and takes in hay like a baler but I couldnt figure out how it would bale.

If you remember from a post last year we have an old grader like this out behind the barn, just smaller, and this makes me want to start preserving it.

These old tractors with the loaders of the time sure make me appreciate our Kubotas loader.

The massive amount of tractors and machinery at this event is hard to project.

Look at the skinny steel rear wheels on this old Hart Parr Oliver and then look at the front wheels. They are steel disks and must have been a bear to operate.

Antique Mack trucks were there...

Old GMC Cab overs

And this immaculate GMC Dump Truck from 1942

This truck is still being used commercially by the owner.

And another beautiful MACK along with a beautiful woman.

And this GMC dually was for sale, and Holly and I wanted it....any family looking for Christmas ideas...ehem.