Monday, September 11, 2017

Silo Filling Prep...

It looks like today is the day.  The chopper is scheduled to roll in around 2:00 - 3:00 this afternoon, so we spent the morning doing some final prep work in the silos.

We have two silos here at home.  The west one had been empty for some time already, so Jim put that unloader up a few weeks ago.  This morning after feeding the cows, he got the second unloader ready to winch up to the top of the silo.  There's some prep involved...first, the unloader has to be lowered so that there's enough slack in the cable for him to hook it up properly for the journey upwards.  That's my job...cranking it down.  And it's a pretty easy one...


That big electric cord is unhooked...


And here's the cable fastened to the bottom of the silo.  We don't crank it the whole way up by hand, but rather remove the handle...


...and use the electric drill that you see in this second picture.  This picture was taken when the unloader was the whole way up at the top, and you can see how much more of the cable is wrapped up...


Doesn't it look kind of like a lunar lander?  I enjoy seeing the unloader from this perspective, with the shadow against the inside of the silo...


By this time tomorrow, Jim will hopefully be leveling off the full silos, and we'll be setting up the unloaders from the top!  There's a lot of climbing the silos involved on the agenda these next few days!


Thursday, September 7, 2017

To Chop Or Not...2017

We've done it before...and we'll do it again this year...

...walk the corn fields and test the moisture level in the stalks before chopping corn, aka filling silo.

This was my view this afternoon...


...and there's one of my helpers!


Phoebe and Murphy tagged along this time, and they had so much fun!  It was like a maze for them...running through tunnels of corn, stepping on the stalks I was dragging...STOP IT!...and getting out some of their pent up energy after several days of rain.

The corn is being tested this afternoon, and we'll have to soon commit to a day for chopping.  There's a narrow window with our small silos...too dry, the silage won't pack well and the air will allow the feed to get moldy.  Too wet, and there's juice, juice, juice.

We'll see...

Monday, September 4, 2017

Granola Recipe aka "Keeping the College Kids Well Fed"...

Earlier today I posted a picture of a pan full of delicious granola that was in my oven...making my kitchen smell soooo good...


I sent both of our college kids on their way this past month with a box of food.  You know...in case the cafeteria doesn't feed them enough.  Things like nutella, peanut butter, popcorn, dried fruit, granola bars...all kinds of things...and of course homemade granola!  Bonnie, a friend of mine, gave me this recipe a while ago, and it's the only granola we've eaten ever since!

One of the kids asked for a refill this week, so this morning I threw a batch together.  It's that easy.

A bunch of you on Facebook, asked for the recipe...so here it is!

HEALTHY GRANOLA

4 c. old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 c. raw nuts and/or seeds (I used sliced almonds)
1 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 c melted coconut oil (she has used olive oil and likes it, but I prefer the taste of coconut oil)
1/2 c maple syrup or honey (I use 1/4 c of each)
1 t vanilla extract

2/3 c dried fruit (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts/seeds, salt and cinnamon.  Stir thoroughly to combine.  In another bowl, mix the melted oil, maple syrup/honey and vanilla together.  Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well.  Spread the granola evenly on the lined baking sheet.  Bake until golden, about 21-23 minutes.  (I set the timer for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through baking).  If you prefer to have chunks of granola for snacking as opposed to a cereal, don't stir, but be careful to not let it get too dark.  Allow the granola to cool completely, undisturbed before adding dried fruit.  Store in an airtight container at room temp for 1-2 weeks, or in a sealed freezer container for up to 3 months.

Enjoy!




Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Still Canning Tomatoes...

It's been a few weeks since I posted...and guess what?  I'm still canning tomatoes!

I made three batches of salsa, one batch of spaghetti sauce (I have some left from last year) and I'm on my second batch of tomato soup today!

Oh...and in there, a friend came and picked several buckets full of tomatoes when I was gone taking Jenna to college in Kansas.  They just keep growing and ripening...yay for those of us who like tomatoes!

Yesterday when I got up, I was planning to make a fourth batch of salsa...but I read a post on face book by a friend who made soup, and so I changed my plans.  I think she froze hers, but I found a recipe that looked good that was for a pressure canner, and so I gave it a try.  I think the kettle full of veggies looks so pretty!


Such an easy recipe...and I got ten pints, plus enough for our supper last night...


Normally, a pint jar of soup concentrate wouldn't be nearly enough for our family...but I'm having to retrain myself to think in terms of cooking for two, not four.  Both kids are away at college, so it's a season of change here in many ways.

Here's the recipe, if you'd like to give it a try...

TOMATO SOUP CONCENTRATE

8 lbs ripe tomatoes, unpeeled, quartered
1 cup celery, diced
2 cups onion, diced
1 cup fresh parsley
6 bay leaves
3/4 cup clear jel
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 1/2 Tbsp salt (optional...I used less)
1/4 cup sugar (optional)

Place tomatoes, celery, onion, parsley and bay leaves in a large stainless steel pot.  Cook gently, uncovered, until tender, stirring as needed.

Press through a food strainer, or sieve into a large stainless steel or enamel cast iron sauce pan.  

Set aside 2 cups of puree to cool.

Whisk together clear jel, and cooled tomato puree to form a slurry.

Bring soup back to a boil and stir in the slurry.  (This is when I added the salt, pepper and sugar)  Continue to boil for about two minutes, until it thickens.  *Soup will not resemble commercial soup concentrate, but rather a slightly-too-thick tomato soup.

Ladle into pint or half pint jars and fill to 1" head space.  Wipe rings and set two piece caps.

Process in pressure canner...at 10 lbs pressure for a weighted gauge and 11 lbs pressure for dial gauge...for 25 minutes.  Do not use quarts for this recipe

When ready to make the soup, just heat with equal parts liquid such as milk, water or chicken broth.


I kept some extra out for our supper last night, and we were pleased with the taste!  Grilled cheese sandwiches and fresh lima beans from my Mom's garden made a tasty meal!  



Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Bumper Crop Of 'Maters...

It's been a fabulous growing season here!  Rain, rain and more rain, and hot humid days have given every plant the extra boost needed to grow.  Even the weeds.  :(

Like most other crops, my tomatoes have over achieved this year.  I planted six different varieties...one plant of each...and they've gone wild!


I planted Celebrity, Early Girl, Mountain Fresh, Amish Paste, Abe Lincoln and ??  I can't seem to remember the last one, and the tag is missing.  All of them are producing large fruit that are ripening evenly without cracking (from all the rain) except for Mr Lincoln.  I don't think I'll plant that one again. Those tomatoes are yellow on the shoulders and have mostly cracked. Lucky for the chickens, their pen is right next to the garden, and they get the rejects for snack!

This morning I picked a large bucket full, and made my first batch of salsa.  I tried to make it a little on the hot side, since Eric and Jim both like it better that way, but I'm not sure I was too successful. Eric will be living in an on campus apartment this year at college, so I figured I'd send a stash with him. Hopefully he and his room mates will like it even if it's mild.

It looks like tomorrow or Saturday I'll have another bunch ready for picking...


My favorite cherry tomato ever is Sweet Baby Girl.  I've not been disappointed in her this summer either.  These beauties are just the right size for a bite sized taste, and they're wonderfully sweet...


This afternoon's harvest...


...and the batch of salsa that I made this morning is bubbling away in the canner as I type...so see...I'm not wasting time, I'm multi tasking!  :)


Jim is about half finished with fourth cutting hay...Jenna is mowing the yard...Eric is at work...and we're enjoying our last week together as a family before both kids head off to college next weekend.  It's going to be really, really different around here as we do the "empty nest" thing for the first time!

What's happening where you are?  In your garden? On your farm?

Here's a link to the salsa recipe that we like!


Friday, July 28, 2017

Shelling Out the Corn Crib...

Last fall, rather than selling our excess corn out of the field, Jim decided to pick corn and fill the crib. Today he had it shelled out and sold...


There were several trucks and a hammer mill.  They used an elevator to load the corn into the hammer mill...


...where the corn was shelled and the cobs were ground.  They were then separated into the two trucks. The corn was then sold and the cobs went to a mushroom house...



It sure didn't take them long!  In about two hours they finished, and left behind the empty corn crib...


When they started this morning, Jim asked the guy to estimate how many bushels of corn were in the crib.  He guessed 1100.  This afternoon when Jim called to find out how the yield was, he was told there were actually over 1300 bushels, which was a nice surprise.  The corn was also nice and dry, which means there will be no docking of the price for moisture.   

Before we know it, it will be harvest time again.  The jury is still out over whether or not to go this route again.  We'll see!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Summer Update...

I've been terribly negligent in keeping you up to date on our corn and soybeans, and you might be surprised at how tall they are now!  This is what happens in five weeks during a typical Pennsylvania summer.

I had to use live measuring devices, since they're so tall...especially the corn! It's well over my head now, and I'm 5' 5" ...



Phoebe is the measuring device for the soybeans.  (she was looking for a cat that disappeared into the field in front of her. This was in between bounces)...


Everything is growing like crazy right now.  We've had a lot of rain (another almost 2" today!) and hot, humid temps, which together make both miserable conditions for the humans and terrific growing conditions for the crops!

Jim just finished up third cutting of alfalfa last night before the rains came, so we're happily enjoying a small break in the craziness.

How's your summer going?