Sunday, September 18, 2016

Dried Bean Trials

Five years has passed. I've tried eleven different kinds of dried beans trying to come up with ones that complete the cycle to the rattle in the pod stage. I'm finally having a little bit of success. Our soil is better than our former location but now we have cooler temperatures and a sun that goes down early because we are by the mountain. That means less daylight hours and more hours of cooler temperatures. A bean may say 90 days to the dried stage but it is  more than 90 days under our conditions.
One sure fire winner this year was the Kennearly bean. It matured and the pods turned yellow faster by far than the other seven types of beans I had growing. I learned that if I want dried beans I need to space my plants further apart. If I want green beans closer together works best. It was something that just naturally happened in different parts of the rows and the performance difference was quite profound. Where they came up thick, the pods stayed green. Spaced further apart, they turned yellow and matured faster.
My husband says I am possessed with beans. Yes, I have spend a great deal of hours on this project and I've learned that I love shelling beans. It is so relaxing for me. Just a repetitive motion that allows my mind to wonder unfettered. With the hectic schedule I find I am naturally drawn to them.  Kirk also told me that I would have a great deal to talk about with my diceased grandfather who developed a type of yellow wax bean. I can't wait to compare notes with what I've learned and what he learned. That same bean, Kinghorn Wax, will undergo trials in my new location next year. It did wonderful where we lived before. It just put on more and more beans as the summer went on. This bean that was a staple for Del Monte in my grandfather's time, now has to be ordered out of  Canada. This tells you how fast our seed diversification is dwindling.
 I have research and researched dried beans on the internet the past few weeks. Yet with all the hours spent looking things up, I'm still observing things amongst the seven different kinds of beans in my garden that I've not read anywhere.
It is frustrating but the university sites don't give enough detail. If it is not a very large commercial crop they don't study it. When they do study things it is only for a year or so and hence, a whole lot gets left out because the weather is not the same from year to year so those changes are not reflected in the study. Last year we had frost on the 23rd of August. This year it has yet to freeze. As for blogs people seem to grow them where they are easy to grow so nothing is said about really tough regions like ours. My frustration has been huge. I'm determined though because dried beans were a pioneer staple.
One thing I learned from my research is that beans have a load capacity. They stop adding beans when the limit is reached. That is why they tell you to keep your green beans picked. Picking allows room for other beans to grow on the plant. I'm going to pay attention to this of different kinds of beans.
This is Ireland Creek beans. Not only are the pods really long with on average six beans per pod but the load capacity is impressive. They have earned a spot in our garden next year. I only planted one seed packet full.
The other thing I noticed is that the Kenearly beans had most of their pods turning about the same time on a given plant. The Ireland Creek beans came in second in this area. Some other types of beans had everything from really green beans to dried and leathery looking at the same time. With our short, short season this is a huge plus to mature all at once and early.
This has to do with genetics I suspect. I quit raising Kentucky Wonder because the green beans came on in a small picking and then two large pickings and then were done. A great thing for the commercial field but not so good for a home gardener who wants the harvest spread out over a long period of time.
My Contender beans have a very long growing season and since I start harvesting the end of July I had weeks of picking before frost. When the beans slowed way down, became small, and curled badly I quit picking. I should have kept picking as the plants blossomed again and when I pulled them today to feed to stock they had lots of over mature beans and quite a few blossoms. I would have gotten quite a few more green beans to can in a later harvest time - live and learn.
The lovely Scarlet beans from my sister, you remember the pretty orangish red blossoms I showed you, barely gave me any beans. This is the sum total of beans that dried on the plants. There were tons of blossoms and hardly any bean pods. I ripped them out in disgust and canned 8 pints of shelled beans. That was one of my goals this year was to do shelly beans. I had never heard of canning at this stage until this year. I thought it might come in handy on one of those early frost years. It was a guess as you go experience since I could not find detailed information on how to do shelly beans until I read a garden forum where people chit chat back and forth. You know a university did not do a study on it as they aren't canning a field of half grown beans. 
 I was smart with these Ireland Creek beans. I used only one package unlike all the space and seed I used on the Scarlet Runners. What a waste. The Ireland Creek beans did alright. I just have to get used to the strange limy yellow coloring. Dried bean varieties that do alright here are rare indeed and they have a chance to acclimate and do better with selection.
They earned a right to a second year of trials. We shall see what the weather does to them next year.
I also learned in my studies that dried beans at the store can be up to six years old. Older beans take longer to cook and are less shiny but just how old the package does not disclose. Even if you store your dried beans in #10 tin cans, with oxygen removing packet thingies, they will not retain vitamins. Proteins and carbohydrates yes but after 2 to 3 years the nutrients are pretty much lost. Who knows if the store beans have any vitamins by the time they reach you. This is another push for self-sufficiency as a steady supply is worth far more than a vitamin deprived stock pile. The stock pile might keep you alive but barely. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

White Beets, Yum!

I know, I know silence is not golden but I have really been busy, putting away food for the winter and taking care of kids. The four year old told Papa tonight, "It's like we were your kids." That is pretty much it when Mamma has to take on two jobs to make ends meet. In my quest to lower our expenses, I have used a 24 pack of 12 lids per box, small mouth canning lids. Not sure how many of the large mouth lids but a bunch. I figure I will have filled over 400 jars by the time I'm done canning in November. I do pumpkins, can a few dried beans, and meat that month.

Besides canning I'm drying and freezing also. Yet when I count up the amount of food sitting in the freezer and jars it is not enough. Think about it, 52 weeks in a year, which is 365 days, three meals a day. That is a LOT of food. How did the pioneers ever do it? A girl can, can only so much. This is where the future green house will come in and we are making plans to build a cellar. The green house probably won't be built next year but I would like the cellar at least part way done. That should lower some of the canning labor. The longer I can store food in its whole state the less I have to can, freeze, or dry later because much of it will have already been eaten up. Also this spreads out the labor over a longer period of time. Canning is so much more pleasant when it is cold outside and the heat generated is a welcome warmth.

The picture up above may have you puzzled. They are both beets. Yes, there is a white beet. I was motivated to give it a try when the seed catalogue said that lots of people who do not like red beets like the white ones. They are milder and sweeter. They are right. All our red beet hating grand kids really do like the white ones. They just look pale and sickly in the jar all by themselves so I mixed the two, the red and the white. It is really quite pretty. None of the beets have done well the last few years in the garden though so it is time for some research and changing of the soil in their future bed. Beets aren't just for Kirk and I anymore.

I have learned a great deal this year from the garden. Some successes and some, "What was I thinking?" moments. The white beet experiment was definitely a repeater. Now to figure out what I need to do with the soil because beets just are not in love with ours, 24 pints and a couple meals eaten fresh is all we got.

When that is figured out I just might try making sugar out of the white beets. They say you can make a syrup. No, this are not sugar beets.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Ellie, A Good Feeling

Studying quite a bit again on various subjects though the posts may not show it. The grandkids are our priority and working on this place. The planning alone is very time consuming as we work and rework plans. One is a rabbit lean-to and another is a cow/calf / milking shed. We don't want to rebuild so it is the same mentality that measure twice and cut once comes from. Only with us it is think, rethink, rethink, and rethink again as we figure in convenience, snow drifting, and finances. Please be patient and keep checking back.
You know about Ellie's arrival but as I've been researching I have discovered why I had such a good feeling about buying her. I love those whisperings deep inside that say, "This is a good thing! The same feeling we had when we bought Sam at the local livestock sales ring. Farmers and ranchers kept their bidding silent as they whispered, "He won't make it." Unfortunately, I don't always listen or decipher just what the feelings I'm having mean. I know that if I keep perfecting the process though, I will be far more successful in my future decisions even though the facts may not always be right then at my fingertips. 

What a lug Sam has turned out to be and a big sweetheart. To remind you, he had severe Navel Disease and was really crippled up with the infection with it eventually traveling through all his joints. Yes, his back legs are a bit stiff and he has a swinging from side to side gate and if you look carefully you can still see the effects of the disease in his joints especially along his spine. We fully expect him to make finish weight or close to it. When his joints have had enough of carrying his weight, we will process him into the freezer.

For now the kids fawn all over him. A couple nights ago all four kids were loving on him while he just laid there thoroughly enjoying the attention. If the kids are not here he expects me to fill in. The day before I filled his four water barrels, he bawled; filled his hay feeder, he bawled; gave him beef pellets, he bawled; went and love on him and he shut up.

 He was a good investment and Ellie will work out fine too. 

I've studied goat's milk versus cow's milk but I have not studied cow's milk as far as the differences between breeds. Of course cow's milk, today's cow's milk, is not the milk of yesteryear. Cow's produce more milk or rather more water today, lots more. Though the volume per cow increased, the nutrients did not hold the same per gallon. Not even close. I would guess that less milk was more satisfying than a larger amount from today. The change in production is about money once again. There have been genetic changes and mutations along this journey through time also. From what I'm studying, it doesn't look like it was a good thing.

Ellie is from two very, very old breeds which have a A2 history. I will write in detail about that later. I have to say I have a good feeling about A2 milk. The studies so far make perfect sense and are in harmony with my experiences. Goats produce A2 milk just so you know. We will have to wait until science has declared the research conclusive on A1 versus A2 milk but I know who already knows the outcome, the Lord of course. As for myself,  I'm going A2 and listening to that still small voice whether it is speaking to just my health or to the worlds, we shall see. So far it has become evident that for some individuals the difference between A1 and A2 milk is less of a problem than for others. I am sure that is why some who ask the Lord will get a strong feeling about A2 milk and others not .

Besides A2 milk, Ellie is Brown Swiss and they have smaller fat globules - easier to digest. Don't know if they are as small as goat's but smaller none the less than for instance the Holstein breed. Brown Swiss's milk is also homogenized more like goats. The fat stays suspended in the milk longer without separating out. Brown Swiss milk is ideal for cheese making in part because of the protein levels. I would love to get into cheese making. Freshly made Monterey Jack cheese, which is a cow product, is so.... yummy. A friend of my dad's makes it from his Jersey cows.

I have had for a very long time a strong impression not to buy low fat dairy products. You can't just take fat out of milk and not change more than the fat content. If you freeze a food, can a food, or dry a food, its chemistry changes. Right now I am not making as many dairy products as I would like so this hit home.

 "Scientists found that people who consumed full-fat dairy products had as much as a 46% lower risk of developing diabetes over the course of 15 years compared with those who drank skim milk and ate low-fat yogurt and low-fat cheese. And if that didn't convince you, another study—this one of more than 18,000 middle-age women, all part of the Women's Health Study—found that those who ate more high-fat dairy had an 8% lower chance of becoming obese over time compared to those who ate less."

I guess once more that science caught up with the whisperings of the spirit. Just wish I listened more and then I could quit making so many mistakes. It is a practice kind of thing and hopefully I become far more proficient as time goes on. 

I'm reading about Normade and Brown Swiss since that is Ellie and it has me really excited. I only knew I had a good feeling when I purchased her and now I know better why. Ellie is such a sweet dairy calf and that too is a trait of the Brown Swiss. We are halter breaking and she kept sticking her head in the halter when I took it off and put it on the other night. What an adventure we shall have. 

As for Hesston, I had that blank empty feeling about him. It means not bad but not really good either. He would do for meat but I should have not ignored the hints sent from above. Something a whole lot better was on its way if I had just been patient and waiting on the Lord.  His name is Bull Winkle. Now we are going to just hope we don't loose too much money on Hesston and break fairly even when we sell. I always want to knock myself upside the head when I don't listen.

A New Calf

Hesston meet Bull Winkle. Bull Winkle meet Hesston. Yes, silly us brought home another calf a few weeks ago. Like we did not have enough to do and two wasn't enough. Some rancher friends called and said they had this calf that his mom had walked off and abandoned at birth. This calf was in pretty bad shape as they did not discover him right away and it had been beastly hot. Did we want him if they put a few days into him and he lived?
Not impressed with Hesston here. We said yes. The plan is to raise Hesston up a bit and sell him. Not long just a few months. Never again will we have Holstein dairy calves for meat unless they are dirt, dirt cheap. Hesston has had a ton of milk put down him and he has grown a great deal. We are now weaning him off the vast amounts of milk and pushing the hay and a slight bit of grain with milk pellets in it. I watch his stools carefully and they are quite loose but not illness diarrhea. They have a bit of an off odor also. I am sure he did not get his colostrum. The fact is calves without colostrum will never do as well throughout their entire lives as calves that have it. Put some probiotics down Hesston yesterday and we shall see what that does. 
I really like the looks of this calf, Bull Winkle. He is an Angus, Semental cross. I just read that semental cattle are from Switzerland and give lots of milk. No wonder I like this calf. Cold breeds iseems to do well for us. Hence, Ellie our heifer which is Brown Swiss and Normande cross and we love her. Hence, we are going back to raising Saanen goats.
Bull Winkle is one sweet calf, laid back in temperament, and the kids love him. Hesston on the other hand has a tendency to kick and we worry that he won't be the gentle soul needed with four young grand daughters in and out of the pens in an almost constant stream.

The trip home with this sweet little tyke was an adventure. We put him into the back of the truck into the cow panel cage Kirk had welded together. Our reasoning was that it was a long journey to pick him up, pulling a trailer would up the costs greatly, and the calf was under a week old. I only thought he would be itty bitty though because he wasn't. He must have weighed a good 85 to 90 pounds. Semmentals do that I guess.
No big deal just a little more to heft into the back of the pickup but on the way home we ran into high winds with driving rain. No way was I going to leave him in the back to get soaked. I could just see myself with another Hesston episode spending a week and a half trying to keep him alive. The next underpass we pulled underneath and in he came with us in the front of the pickup. No, he would not stand between me and the dashboard. With his large size it was rather cramped. He insisted on my lap. He was one HUGE lap dog. Kirk was afraid he was going to try and crawl into his lap while he was driving and panicked every time he wiggled but a little sweet mamma talking and he settle down to sleep, his head draped over the rest between the seats.
My husband just kept rolling his eyes at me in incredulous wonder but Bull Winkle slept that way for over an hour. Occasionally his eyes would drowsily flutter open but soon he'd drift back to sleep. Thirty minutes from home he woke up, promptly peed on me, and it was clear he wanted to move about so into the back he went. It had stopped raining 20 minutes before.
Forgot how much a calf can pee. Not unfamiliar territory as this woman has handled a lot of calves during brandings in her early years but some things fade from ones memory. I do remember coming back to the house with pants that stood up on their own so incrusted with the thick and the thin discharges of the backside.
All worth it as Bull Winkle is doing great and my is he thick. Definitely a keeper for the freezer.   

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Rosy Has Won a Place in the Line Up

Wondered if we would have another hen set before summer was over and yeah!!!!, we have. Here sits Rosy. She sat in a nest in the chicken coop for a day and a half being nearly crowded out by other hens when I had decided she was serious about setting, I put her into one of the rabbit cages. One I had put cardboard over the bottom when the Rhode Island Red had promised to lay but I've found she often does that then changes her mind.
I added eggs throughout the day until Rosy had eight. Got a gouge in my hand for the efforts but that just means she was serious about her work. We shall see what hatches as it was really hot when Rosy made her decision and the sperm count in a rooster goes down with the heat levels. None the less Rosy has earned a spot in next years line up. Especially since she has become friends with our four year old. As I milk our grand daughter sits at the opening of the milking shed and feeds a few select hens. One kernel for her and a few for the chickens, repeated until her tuna fish can of COB (corn, oats, and barley) is empty.
Earning a spot in next year's line up is very important as I have chosen a definite nine to go into the canning bottle and a possible two more. We have far too many chickens. Maybe I should have figured out exactly who goes and who stays earlier but large numbers of critters running around over stimulates my Autistic brain and it refuses to settle and think. So the plan is to get rid of a few and then I can re-evaluate how many new hens we will have and how many old hens. That is after I get the kids all ready and in school.
As for the white hen, our oldest grand daughter swears O crowed. I have never caught her. I would think by now I would have so my fingers are still crossed. I have grown rather fond of her and have decided O is too short so to me she shall be Ophelia. It is going to be a her, right?
 The new girls won't be laying for a while and will likely start in the winter if new pullets start in the winter. Do pullets start to lay that late into the year? Mine have started as late as early November but these girls are later than that. If they are not to start until later then I need to butcher later. Sometimes I feel so ignorant. How can we ever be self-sufficient with so much unknowns.
Rosy makes five hens to set this year. Three Easter Eggers and two black hens which I think are Austrolorps. So hard to tell the difference between Austrolorps and Asian Blues. Wish I had not gotten the Asian Blues as it is so confusing. Fifteen hens and one rooster is going to be my limit. I think. Who knows I might find out something that will change my mind.
I need to build a run and put in a vent into the coop but the chicken project is going well, just needs a bit of fine tuning.  Gone will be the Wyandottes. I thought I would never say that. Gone will be the Rhode Island Reds. Two in particular have really ticked me off. One, Henny Penney, that gets into fights with the cat and the other one that keeps promising that she will set but then changes her mind. They don't set and are smaller in size laying smaller eggs. They just aren't making the grade we have in mind for self-sufficiency.
Our goal is hens that have a good feed to size conversion getting large enough to make a good roaster in a hurry; hens that set and are good mammas; handle cold weather, and hens that lay large eggs. The Rhode Island Reds and Wyadottes failed to make a passing grade so goodbye they go. Not that they did not pass on some genetics as some of the replacement offspring will be from them and our Easter Egg rooster. O for instance is obviously from a Wyadotte hen but has grown very rapidly. Diversity in genetics can be a very good thing.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Selling Our Nubians


We are going to make some fairly big changes around here. We have made a big decision. We are selling all our Nubians.
Lest you think we have lost our minds, wait.... We are going to go back to raising Saanens. We just have not been happy since we changed and find ourselves longing for the good old days. We raised them for twenty years. What we hoped to accomplish has not transpired. We wanted more cream and yes the Nubians do have a higher fat ratio but the milk production is far less. I'm not sure we won't get all the cream we need since the milk volume is so much greater. We need more milk with four grand daughters to feed and bums which become food. The girls are not happy on the far lower amount of milk on the table since the calves get almost all of it. And we are not happy since we are using far too much expensive milk replacer because of the lack of milk. Fewer calves would be smart but we need one beef and one milk cow for our plans for the future.
The personality of the Saanens is far more laid back and they are quiet. We have one kid Nubian that is driving us crazy. She will not shut up and has to go. Kirk keeps threatening to kill her but since she has not sold easily on the local facebook selling page, I am taking her to the livestock sales ring. Her quality is poor by our standards also. We got by great with just two to three Saanen does. Far better than we are now with three to four. That drops the cost and work load. 

 One of the biggies to buying Nubians was to have babies throughout the year so we could have milk more of the year. Not happened since we have not found the Nubian's breeding season is

any longer than our Saanens. Could have something to do with our weather. We do live where it is cold. We  have realized that we need a Swiss breed and Saanens are just that. Our tomatoes are Siberia, our milk cow will be Swiss, our beef is part Swiss, and our new goats will be Swiss. Notice a pattern?

Since at the moment we have no real strong attachments to any of our goats it is a good time to change. Because of the lack of funds and available goats we will hopefully make the changes beginning next spring. A doe and then the next year hopefully a buck and  another doe. I have visited with a friend whom we have bought from before and she has assured me she can fix us up.

We have been thinking long and hard about what we want. About what our benefits and limitations are because of where we live.  About what will best fit our needs especially now with the addition of four young children. For instance growing very much sweet corn is not going to happen. Just too cool. Tried the really short kind this year and we will get our first crop in three years.  Two ears per stalk and the energy is being put into the corn is my kind of win, win. Mind you that this is still not anything huge but at least it is some fresh corn. Just not worth the effort and space to try and grow enough corn to freeze for winter so we will not. I have found corn is not real friendly to my digestive system though I love the taste so another good reason to cut back. With some experimenting this last winter we found a frozen kind that the kids like and comes in 20 pound bulk packaging. The decision is that we just won't eat as much corn. Yes, change is on the way.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Love Peas!!


Got to love August despite the hot temperatures because the food is so...... good!!

People tell me that they do not grow peas because they take up so much space for so little produce.
My pea patch is a slight bit larger than my green bean patch and I do not get as many peas to freeze as I do green beans to can but the flavor is out of this world. How could we not grow peas? We gorge on them as they are a one month of a year treat. No trouble getting the girls to help shell peas as they eat and eat and eat. The other night our oldest grand daughter ate so many when we were picking that she was too full to eat supper. I use to ration my kids so I would have some to freeze for winter. I don't say that to the grand kids. I have a huge garden since we have more land and I now say eat up, August comes but once a year. Enjoy it!!  

Now you know what my days have consisted of. Feed children, feed stock, and put food away for winter. You can see the level of canning and freezing I'm doing. Now I have had to include get ready  for school. It starts next week and I have a pile of pants to hem. We are blessed with a number of hand me downs as our oldest daughter, their aunt, has purged her closets and helped out greatly with the older two grand kids. That gives me a few new pants and a lot of hand me down pants to hem.The younger three children have short legs. Not many new clothes but we are blessed to have grand kids who are grateful for the clothes they have and know that new ones will slowly trickle in as needed and finances allow.
It will take a lot of food to feed four children this winter. Our sweet grandkids just keep eating more and more. Every time they come home from either of their parents they say, "I missed the food!" It may have only been 24 hours but they dig into the home-made bread and such like it had been a month. What a job just keeping the livestock and them fed.

If it seems pretty quiet from the home front blog wise, know that I am buried under with work. I'm also not feeling well. Just have not recovered from the family reunion. The stress and work load after has been great and if my body gets run down it does not come back for a very long time. It is the adrenals that just won't recover nicely. Hence, I got the stomach flu the last few days and man did it settle in hard. Too sick to hardly get out of bed. Well, actually I did that frequently as the bathroom became my second home.

Had to milk of course as hubby's hands are hurting him. Thought I was quite a bit better today and a good thing since hubby was at work and I was in charge of the kids and stock. Wrong!! You know when you need to take your vitals when your oldest grand daughter comes up to you while you are doing dishes and says, "Grandma, your lips are really purple! Are you alright?" It caused me to slowed down and quit thinking of all I needed to do and realize,  "I really don't feel well!" I try to block out how I feel as it is usually really, really, tired. I just keep my head down and plunge  forward through all the work but once in a while I am pulled up short. 
I don't have an oxygen meter but a glance at my dismal blood pressure and temperature and I knew I had to get back into bed for the afternoon.

Would have liked to do meal planning but knew it was flat out or I could land myself in the hospital. Read the oldest grand daughter's book she had gotten from the library. The grand kids love it when I read the books they read just like my kids did. It helps me to know them better and they feel more connected to me as we discuss the book. Besides this one was a really good book and I thoroughly enjoyed my down time.