Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Food Storage

Food storage for the food storage (goats, sheep, llamas, and cow). This will last us until the grass is growing in the pasture again.

I found out that our local farm store carries Timothy pellets! I thought they only carried alfalfa pellets. I'm so excited for the grass pellets because that is better for the sheep, llamas, and male goats than the grass alfalfa mix in the bales. We'll still feed them the mix, but add the pellets in to reduce the amount of protein they get.

We've got some water stored, too, but probably only 3 days worth. But we'll work on that next week. The hard part is figuring out how to keep it liquid during the winter. If we run into problems, ice won't be as helpful as liquid water.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Apple Grinder Table

Simple, sturdy, ugly grinder table. No more saw horses for me!

It's not quite all the way done. I have to go find some bolts and thumb screws to hold it in place. I wanted it to be semi-portable so the grinder has to come off the table easily and transported separately.

The shelf that the bucket is sitting on isn't attached, either. Since we lend all the equipment out I wanted to let people use taller buckets if that's what they have. I like using the stock bucket because it's wider at the top which means it catches the apple grindings easily. It also pours better than a standard plastic food storage bucket.

I've got to be able to move the press, the grinder, and the table myself. No small feat since the press is solid maple and weighs a ton! But I can move the press with a hand truck, so it's not a big problem.

Wednesday I'm scheduled to make cider for the 3rd grade at the local charter school. They just learned about simple machines, now they get to see some in action!

It will be a fun addition to their Halloween party!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Forging Again!

Saturday Son1 and 2 of his friends came home from university for the weekend to make some knives from railroad spikes.

They had a great time!

Earlier in the week a Comcast representative came by trying to get us to buy something other than internet. He told me that they had 80,000 choices on TV!

I said, "Wow! 80,000 ways to waste time!"

Watching these young men play around with the forge,  hammer, and anvil was better than watching young men sit around playing XBox or whatever the new gaming system is, and better than watching them channel surf and waste time.

Oh, they are normal guys and they do play occasionally, but I love it that they have hobbies other than watching TV and gaming.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Velvet Pumpkin Tutorial

I saw these on Hot Skwash and thought they were great! No way I wanted to pay what they were asking, though.

Here's my knock-off version
After looking at a few blogs and coming up with a few little tricks of my own, I made a bunch. Everyone I've given them to loves them, which always makes me happy.

Now is a great time to find stems at the grocery store or pumpkin patch. They always have some that have fallen off the pumpkins.

These are easy and you don't need a sewing machine to make them.
You do need stretchy velvet, I used Panne, plastic pellet filler (I found mine at Hobby Lobby, but I also saw some at JoAnn's), polyester fiberfill, matching thread, a long needle, craft glue or hot glue.

The sizes listed below are approximate! Your size may be different depending on how full you stuff your pumpkin.

For a 3" pumpkin cut a  6" square of Panne or stretchy velvet.
For a 4" pumpkin, cut a 9 1/2" square
For a 6" pumpkin, cut a 12 1/2" square
For a 7" pumpkin, cut a 16" square

Cut a square of panne or stretchy velvet. (See list above for sizes)

Fold the square into fourths with the right side inside.

Cut the corner off as shown. You can use a bowl if you want, but this works even if you end up cutting an oval (ask me how I know!)

Tie a big knot at the end of a really long thread that is doubled. I used regular all purpose thread because it is stronger. In my tutorial I used brown so you could see the stitches, but normally I use a matching color.

Take large (about 1/4") stitches about 1/4" away from the edge. If your stitches are too small then its very difficult to close the hole in the middle.

Add about 2 tablespoons of plastic pellet filler to the center. I add a little more for larger pumpkins. The plastic pellet filler adds just a bit of weight to the pumpkin so it doesn't tip from the weight of the stem on top. You can use rice or beans, but I always use plastic pellets if I'm giving the pumpkins away. I don't want to attract mice in someone else's home.

I used a little bit less fiberfill than shown in the photo. If you want your pumpkin stiff and full, then add more fiberfill. If you want it squishy and flat, then add a little less.
This is what it looks like with all the fiberfill added.

Pull both the knot end and the needle end tight. Then tie a knot. This is probably the trickiest part which is why you see my farmer hand holding both ends of the thread

Take two stitches across the top in an "X" to close the hole. At this point you can also take a stitch through the bottom of the pumpkin to hold it flatter, rather than having a taller pumpkin.

Bury the threads inside the pumpkin.

This is the type of glue I used. I don't like hot glue, but maybe you are better with your glue gun than I am with mine. Put a dab of glue onto the stem and press it into the top of the pumpkin

Lots of pumpkins!
I think I've made about 24 now. They are easy and I love sharing them. The only hard part is finding stems. So if you have extra stems you aren't planning on using, feel free to send them my way.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde
I've got great friends and neighbors! Two friends had more than enough tomatillos this year and shared the rest with me and one of them had a recipe for Salsa Verde.

The last batch of red salsa I made wasn't hot enough for Fly Boy or Son1, so this time I left some of the seeds in .... we'll see what they think now!

This recipe comes from Carol Jean Gibson who is an economist at the Utah State Extension Service.

Yes, I use a steam canner. The FDA says no, but Utah State Extension Service says it's okay with precautions. You can find the info here.

Green Tomato Salsa
5 cups green tomatoes or tomatillos, chopped
1 1/2 cups long green chilies (Anaheims are a good choice), seeded and chopped
1/2 cup jalapenos, seeded and chopped
4 cups onions, chopped
1 cup bottled lemon or lime juice (must be botled to guarantee acidity)
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon ground cumin (optional)
3 Tablespoons oregano leaves (she substitutes 1/2 cup well pressed fresh chopped cilantro)
1 Tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Mix, then bring to a boil in large pan and simmer 20 minutes (She simmered it for more like an hour and a half).

Before canning she runs it through the blender

Can in pints, 20 minutes with usual precautions.

I followed the directions, but forgot the pepper. It smelled wonderful while it was cooking on the stove!

My friend told me that you can substitute lemon or lime juice for vinegar, which I didn't know. Of course, it makes sense.

Here's how they stack up on the pH scale.
Lime Juice: 2.0-2.35
Lemon Juice: 2.0-2.52
Vinegar: 2.4-3.40

Tomatoes: 4.5

I might try substituting lemon and lime juices for vinegar more often. We like the citrus flavor alot in this house!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Shelf... done!

I'm trying to finish up some projects around here.... just like everyone else that I know of is doing.

I finished Blondie's shelf today. I [pretty much] like the way it turned out. The wood isn't top quality so it didn't finish as smoothly as I would have liked. The dimensions, shape and design are perfect for what she wants it for so that is a plus.

Nope... I don't style stuff like on the fancy blogs. Just a plain picture of the shelf... and only one photo instead of a bazillion from every angle!

I love the back of the shelves. Blondie fell in love with some fabric and it just didn't work with the other fabric in her quilt. However, we loved how it looks on the back of the shelf!

The fabric is taped to some foam core board and then slipped into the back of the shelf. The foam core isn't glued or tacked to the back of the shelf, it just sits there snugly and doesn't move.

The benefit of not having the fabric permanently attached to the board or the board permanently attached to the shelf is that she can change the fabric out later if she wants. And she can use the fabric that is on there someplace else, too.

I used 3 coats of Minwax Polycrylic to protect the paint. I've used 3 different sealer/top coats as I've refinished pieces this year. This is my favorite. Soap and water clean up, it dries fast, and it lays down smooth. I wish the satin finish was a little more satin and a little less glossy, but other than that, I'm really happy with how it turned out.

Next on the list:
2 quilt backs (the tops are done)
a table for Blondie's classroom. I've already found legs and a table top on FreeCycle to cut down and remake, so it feels like I've already started on this one!

And of course there are goats to breed this fall, a new buck to find, a chicken pen to clean, and an animal shelter to fix