One of Boone’s favorite ways to de-stress.
One of Boone’s favorite ways to de-stress.
2017 has been crazy busy. First my son and I both came down with the flu (son thinks it was the Norovirus). Whatever it was, it was vicious! Somehow, Boone did not catch it so he got the unfortunate task of taking care of us.
We have had much more rain than snow this year so have been battling yucky, mucky yard and pastures. Boone rescued a baby calf from the mud. Luckily, our greenhouse makes a great animal nursery so the calf lived there and out in our old dog pen during the day. Just as soon as he was strong enough we moved him to a small lot and shed over on the sheep farm.
It is a good thing we got him moved as lambing season kicked off early this year and has not stopped yet. One of the yearling ewes did not produce enough milk so we have bottle twins.
They are spending their nights in the greenhouse and their days lazing around in the sun in the dog pen. Such spoiled lambs! We have been letting them graze in the backyard and have already cut their bottles from four down to two per day. In a couple of weeks, they will get to go live with the flock over on the sheep farm.
The lambs love playing King of the Haystack….
We have several bee trees around us. One of them used to be in a wild cherry tree on the back of the farm down in the woods by the creek. It was blown down during a storm a couple of years ago. Boone wanted to save the bees that were in it so he cut out about an 8-foot log out of the tree and strapped it to an old stump to get it back up off the ground.
When we gather honey we never take all of it. The bees need to eat through the winter. One of our neighbors went with Boone to get the honey so he could learn how. Normally, Boone opens the tree while I work the smoker. When he and our friend got there, no bees were to be found. Not dead, not anywhere. We think they absconded for some reason. Boone did find signs of something digging up into the base of the log as there were pieces of comb laying on the ground so maybe that had something to do with the bees leaving?
He decided to gather the old honey combs and leave the new ones. Later on when checking the tree again he found bees back in it. Was this a new swarm that ran the old ones off or did they come from a neighbors box hive? We do not know but I am glad we left enough honey for them.
To extract the honey, we use the very scientific procedure of crushing the comb with a potato masher. Once crushed we drain the honey through a paint filter. I have tried cheesecloth but the filter works better. It works like a big jelly bag if you have ever made jelly. The filter doesn’t cost much, seems like it was a couple of dollars and it can be used over and over. I wash and rinse the new filter well before using for the first time and after using it I store in my water bath canner so no one tries to use it for straining paint!
There was a lot of comb so I needed to get the filter up above a stock pot. I stacked books on either side of the stockpot and ran a piece of pipe across to tie the filter bag off to after filling it with comb. The pipe was just what I came across first; a dowel rod, a piece of metal or anything that will not bend would have worked also.
After straining for most of the afternoon, I had to squeeze the rest of the honey out by hand using a pair of salad tongs. It worked really well. I had planned on trying to render the beeswax out but ran out of time with all of the holiday events we were attending and such. The spent comb was not wasted as it went to the pigs, which they loved!
After cleaning the filter, I strained the honey about 5 times. One last straining was with a jelly filter into mason jars. Normally, we only get a quart jar as we try to be conservative and leave the bees plenty. This time there was so much in the tree that Boone took a bit more and we ended up with 2 ½ quarts. The family has already requested Zippy Wings!
It has been a busy week with 2016 winding down. Kentucky is experiencing a mild dry winter. Taking advantage of the mild temps and a bit of rain that came through we moved the pigs to a new field. They had pretty much turned over the small field they had been in. We moved them to a combined woods/pasture/pond area that morning but the electric fence charger had less charge than we realized and they escaped. There is nothing like chasing 3 pigs around the hills to get your blood pumping.
They love chasing the Gator for some reason, so Boone hopped in it and took off across the field with them in hot pursuit. Me? I was bent over double with my hands on my knees gasping for air.
One of the neighbor’s has a small donkey herd. Generous people with huge hearts they had originally rescued a jack and jenny. Nature took its course and the herd grew beyond what they were prepared to handle. They decided to re-home the herd and found homes for all the adult donkeys so the last to go was a foal about 6 months old.
Everyone in our area knows if they have an animal that needs a new owner to call Boone. He and I both love animals and if we cannot take it on we often know people that can. When we received the call asking if we were interested in a foal donkey Boone brought home little Miss Rosebud. I have been around a few donkeys in my life that were foul-tempered and would come at you with teeth bared so I was not terribly excited about her. At the least, I thought she would be a good experiment to see how a donkey lived with the sheep. I had always heard donkeys were good with predator control as they naturally dislike canines and would help keep the coyotes away.
Turns out little Miss Rosebud has the sweetest, calmest personality. We have pulled burrs out her coat, wormed her and given her shots with minimal fuss on her part. She lets us pick up her feet and loves being scratched. She has a small field to herself and part of the run-in shed while the meds take effect. She has touched noses over the fences with some of the sheep and Bruno, the calf. Most of the day, she grazes on her side of the fence with the 3 little pigs rooting on the other side.
The sheep are now all bred so we will be moving Romeo, the ram, to his own field along with Bruno soon. At that time, we will put Miss Rosebud in with the sheep. I have great hopes they will form a tight bond.
My dad made the best biscuits and I have never been able to duplicate his so I am always on the hunt for a great biscuit recipe. Isn’t it funny how recipes with lots of ingredients can turn out great but simple dishes like potato salad, pimiento cheese and biscuits are hard to get right? Or maybe it is just me!
Anyway, I came across this recipe on the Southern Living website and really love it. It makes big flaky biscuits. Boone loves them with Apple Maple jam or with any of my homemade jams. They are just as good with only butter or with sausage or ham on them.
The only thing I did different from the recipe is I never have self-rising flour so I usually make a batch up when I plan on having these biscuits. The biscuit recipe has several ways to bake them and my favorite is to warm a cast iron skillet in the oven, then rub a bit of butter in it and put the biscuits in. That gives them a crunchy bottom that is so good. I tend to roll them a bit thicker and normally get around ten biscuits. My skillet only holds eight so I cook the last two later.
Here are the links to both recipes.
One of my favorite jams is Apple Maple Jam is from a past Ball Blue Book but can also be found here: Apple Maple Jam. The original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. That is a little strong for me so I only use 1/2 teaspoon.
I was recently in the North Carolina mountains during apple season and bought lots of local varieties. I think the best jam is made with a variety of apples. Another good way to use this jam is to mix some with Dijon mustard, spread on a pork tenderloin, then roast.
The garden has been put to rest. It has been really good to us this year; potatoes, corn, peppers, melons, beans, herbs, berries and so many tomatoes that this summer I must have broken some kind of record for eating tomato sandwiches. I think I ate at least one every day.
I love the fall. Growing in southeastern North Carolina we did not have four distinct seasons. Kentucky is in a late fall warm spell but cooler temps are on the way. Makes me want to have crackling fires and hot chocolate with a good book! But for now it is time to get out in the woods and gather pears, walnuts and hickory nuts. Yesterday was another blue sky sunny day so Boone and I got out into the woods briefly to check on one of the trail cameras. It is placed near the Cherry bee tree. The bees were happily buzzing around but thankfully ignored us.
One of the trail cams on the sheep farm caught a big bobcat. I know sooner or later we may have problems with them or the coyotes so we are considering a livestock guardian dog or maybe a donkey.
Sunday morning, Boone fished while I got breakfast going. To make things easier we prepped a lot of our food before we left on the trip. We have a tabletop grill but for this trip everything was cooked on the propane camp stove. I like to have all of the food that is taken on the trip eaten with nothing being brought back home so here was our meal plan:
While the camper refrigerator does a great job, we try to stay out of it as much as possible. I always pack a cooler for drinks and the snacks that need to stay cold that we can get into often. Boone hooks up the camper the night before a trip which is when we pack everything except for the food that needs to go in the frig. I like the frig to get good and cold overnight then I will pack it with food right before we leave.
After breakfast we headed out to the Highland Games. It was being hosted at the Maryville University. Maryville is such a nice small town and the campus is beautiful. The first thing we heard was bagpipes, yay! There was a lot of activities going on in different fields and stages. We saw kids learning how to milk a cow – so funny and cute, athletes tossing what looked like whittled down telephone pole, clan tents and more. The competitions were the best and the competitors come from all over.
After leaving the games we relaxed by the water, just chatting and fishing. With the farm, we always have something to do so to just slow down, sit back and do nothing feels like a luxury.
Listening to the wind, water and birds was simply great.
I am half Scot through my father. My grandparents came from Scotland and Dad was first born here in the US. It’s not really a factor in my life but every now and then I do like to attend a Highland Games. I really like the sound of bagpipes and it is one of the few places to hear them live. Boone has never been to one but he was game to check it out so we took off to the Smoky Mountain Highland Games in Maryville, TN this past weekend.
We loaded up Little Bill the camper, and took off down the back roads. I have been wanting to get comfortable towing so I drove the majority of the trip. Little Bill is really light and being a small fifth-wheel camper, he sticks right with you (no fish tailing) so the towing was pretty easy. The hardest part was getting the electric brake set just right in the truck and getting used to braking with it.
Being on the back roads was great as we just took our time and enjoyed the drive down on US 127. Sometimes the interstate is the way to travel when we are in a time crunch but the two-lanes are my favorite. We stopped at a general store along the way to get drinks to go along with the sandwiches we had packed. As with some of the small stores around our area, it appeared to be a local hangout as there were some local older gentlemen sitting out on the front porch passing the time chatting and whittling.
Yarberry campground lays between Lenoir City and Maryville off of Hwy 321. We rolled in around 3 o’clock and got set up pretty quickly.
The Knoxville Flea Market was going on so we decided to drive over and check it out. It turned out to be quite the disappointment. There were only folks selling stuff you could buy anywhere; socks, lotions, CD’s, etc.
We had planned on eating out the first night and for some reason I had pecan waffles on my mind so off to the local Waffle House we went. The food was great and nicely stuffed we rolled back to the campground. Boone bought a TN fishing license on the way down so he was ready to do some fishing.
The next morning, we strolled around the campground. It is really nice and sits on a peninsula. Along with the campground, boat rental is available. The roads are gravel and our site was very spacious and pretty level with lots of trees. The rates were reasonable, only around $76.00 total for the two nights. There were only a couple of things lacking. One was that while the bathrooms were extremely clean, there were only two stalls and one shower in the bathhouse near us. The campground had around 70 sites so that seems pretty small for so many people. The men’s side was the same. There was another bathhouse that we did not go in but it looked to be the same size. The majority of sites were for RV’s so maybe that accounted for the small bathhouses as there are not that many tent sites. The other thing was I never did see a play area for children. The campground is growing; adding in new sites – a beach, a pier, and more so maybe the playground is in the future plan.
When I made the reservation over the phone (the only way to make it) I did not receive any type of confirmation via email or otherwise which would have been nice and is pretty standard these days. I had asked if they had internet at the campground which they did not so maybe that was the reason. Hopefully, they will get access at some point. All in all, we had a great time and would recommend camping there. The host was also very nice as we met her at the gatehouse when we first got there. Our site was #69. We also liked sites 17-21, 25, 31, 33, 67 (our favorite), and 71.
P.S. The fishing was great! Boone caught 8 good sized cats.