Strange Visitor

The monster morning glory vine that I planted to shade my porch has drawn many visitors.  The bumblebees love to visit the blooms during the day.  Hordes of katydids have taken up residence inside it and inevitably hop in through the back door when I let the dogs out.  There is also a lonely sparrow who roosts in it overnight.  Now this guy…

They really do look like a stick!  I’ve only seen one once before.

The walking stick demonstrates the Divinely designed defense mechanism of camouflage.  Even its slow and halting stride mimics a branch moving in the breeze, helping it stay under the radar of its predators.  Fortunately for my walking stick, his neighbor the sparrow won’t want to have him over for lunch anyway!

 Lucky for him the toddler had already gone to bed or else he may have ended up in a jar!

Wooly Bear

The wooly bear caterpillars are back.  We’ve been finding them everywhere the past couple of days.

Ava found this little guy this morning and has been carrying him around all day, riding on the back of her hand or the tip of her finger.

She’s been so gentle with him.  She’s not afraid of any bugs, except spiders!

So if a frog kisses a caterpillar, will it turn into a prince…er, moth?  Wrong story…

She has to have a critter of some sort with her throughout the day.  Usually it’s a chicken.  Let’s hope the two don’t meet up.  It wouldn’t work out well for the caterpillar.

Most wooly bears I’ve seen have 3 bands.  I wonder if this long orange band means it will be a really long winter?  Usually by January, you at least feel like it will never end.

We’ve spent most of today (and yesterday) working on getting things ready for winter.  BW is cleaning the chimney right now.  The wooly bear and Ava are “helping”.

Right now I am looking forward to fall/winter.  I am ready for some downtime.  I am ready to break out my craft supplies and do some inside things…

Not So Creepy

…when they’re little!

He’s actually kinda cute.  I guess all baby animals are, in their own way!

I went down right at dusk to put the chickens to bed and found this little guy crawling around on a shelf in my chicken barn.  Looking to get into my feed, no doubt. 

I scooped him easily into a bucket and took him up to the garage where my husband was busy sharpening his chainsaw blades.  He looked into the bucket and jumped back a bit, surprised.

This baby opossum is only about 8 inches long, nose to rump.  I didn’t have the heart to kill it, so I had hubby haul it off a few miles and turn it loose out in the woods.  He hasn’t tried to kill any chickens yet, so I’ll let him off this time!  I’m sure there are probably more of his kin out there to keep an eye out for…

We shot a big one a couple of months back that was trying to get the chickens.  And we also found the head–just the head–of a smaller one lying in the yard a few weeks ago.  I’m not sure what would eat a whole opossum and leave only the head… We have a lot of barn cats up here.  Must have been very hungry, whatever it was!

No Go

Just got off the phone with Rocky’s owner.  She rode him “one last time” and realized she couldn’t part with him.  I guess I understand… I was wondering how anyone could part with such a handsome horse in the first place.

Well, moral of the story is:  Don’t count your horses until they’re in the barn!

Satisfaction

I LOVE the feeling of marking another project off the list!

And this one had been nagging at me for a long time.  Well, let’s see…we got the fence up in April, bought the lumber in July and just stared at it for a few weeks.  It took us three separate sessions and working past dark tonight, but we got ‘er done!

My husband and I are really getting good at working on these projects together.  He’s the muscle and I’m the “measure twice, cut once” kind of gal.  We balance each other well!

Now to install a couple of strands of electric along the fence line, cage off the bees their own sector and build a small run-in and we’ll be ready for goats.  You didn’t think we were going to all this trouble just for a couple dozen chickens, did ya?  😉  Although it does rest my mind to know the dogs can’t pick them off so easily now.

I am also getting a new horse.  Hopefully we can go pick him up tomorrow.  I was looking for a new pasture mate for my gaited paint gelding, Journey.  This new horse, Rocky, is a 12-year-old Tennessee Walker gelding.  He’s on rehab from an injury, but is cleared for light work and to build up from there.  He was free to a good home because his current owners needed to downsize.  I will definitely post lots of pictures of him when we get him home.  Here’s a picture that was forwarded to me. 

Isn’t he a looker!  I’m debating whether or not to change his name.  If you’ve got any ideas for a good name for this handsome boy, feel free to leave them in the comments section!

Now this is Journey (the Paint) and Lily, his old pasture mate (also a Tennessee Walker).  This picture was taken in October of last year.  I’ve had Journey since he was a colt.  I won him at the County Fair on a one dollar raffle ticket in 2002.  He’s a good boy and I love him.  I hope that Ava can ride him in the Fair here in a few years.

 

Now the horses don’t live here on the One Sunny Acre.  They live on my Dad’s 44-acre farm 10 minutes down the road.

 

 

Chicken Wrangler

Persistence pays and my child is learning that at a very young age.

Barefoot, in the rain, chasing chickens…

The Beast has Bloomed

It has taken over my porch, consummed my gutters and even swallowed my windchime.  Finally this monstrous morning glory vine is blooming!  We are about a month out from first frost.

I made three plantings of these Heavenly Blue morning glories and the other two, which look sickly and sad compared to the big one on the porch, they bloomed weeks ago.  At least it has served well to shade the evening sun from my porch this summer.  We like to take our dinner outside most evenings, but my husband was always complaining that the sun was in his eyes.

Now he will be complaining when I have to send him up the ladder to pull this vine out of the gutters.  Ha.

One Year

I was just standing at the sink cutting up vegetables for tonight’s dinner, wondering what I want to do tomorrow for my birthday “date” with my husband, when it suddenly occurred to me that I had blogged about my birthday date last year.

And that means it is also the one year “anniversary” of my adventures in blogging.  How could I have missed this milestone, this momentous occasion?

Yes, I had to stop right in the middle of making dinner to post this… I am a day late, but I had to make it right!

Well, this also happens to be a very busy time of year for me anyhow, so I guess I can cut myself some slack.

It really doesn’t seem like it has been a whole year though.  How funny that feels when I think about it.  Much like when you start your family, there is something about watching children grow up that makes time really fly by, when it seemed that it stood still waiting for life to BEGIN prior to that.

I confess I really don’t get to write as often as I’d like to, or think to, or have something worthwhile to write about.  Many things go on in my life that I’d like to tell the whole world about, if only I could find time.  Living with a toddler will do that to you.  Often by the time I get around to it, I realize it’s no longer relevant or “in season” anymore.

But really, even if no one else ever read my blog ever again, I’d still keep posting.  A little here, a little there as it came to me.  I feel like I am keeping a journal and I enjoy looking back on it all.  And sometimes you guys comment–and in my hectic, solitary, mommy-life here on my One Sunny Acre, where things get done when I get around to it–it’s as if someone stopped by and paid me a visit (minus the shame of a messy house.)  And it’s refreshing.  So thanks for reading!  🙂

Maybe when I get all these beans put up, I’ll get back around to catching up on some posts!

Hot Pepper Mustard

Ok, I’ve been canning for 2 weeks straight!  I put up lots of goodies for winter and I’ve lost count now how many batches of this sweet/hot pepper butter I’ve made.  I’ve given away a few jars to friends and family and have had several requests for the recipe, so here it is…

You won’t find this recipe in the Ball Blue Book.  My guess is that they don’t approve of it because it contains flour as a thickener.  I’ve made hundreds of jars of this and have yet to have had any go bad.  My dad loves this stuff and if you could can it in gallon jars, he’d be all for it!

It is the perfect dipping mustard.  We like it with cheese and summer sausage, on ham or turkey sandwiches, for dipping pretzels and it also makes a great glaze for a baked ham or venison roast.

I originally got this recipe from a lady at my dad’s church.  My dad then ran over to Ohio and bought a bushel of U-Pick hungarian hot wax banana peppers and begged me to make him a lifetime supply of mustard.  The original version was a little too flaming hot and salty for our tastes, so I’ve tweaked it a bit and clarified the directions a little.  Here’s my version…

Hot Pepper Mustard (Butter)

(yields about 7 pints)

  • 4 quarts chopped hot and/or sweet banana peppers (3.3 lbs or about 36 large peppers)
  • 1 qt. vinegar
  • 1 qt. prepared yellow mustard (don’t go cheap, get a good quality mustard)
  • 4 c. sugar
  • 1 1/4 c. flour
  • 2 tbsp. salt (optional; I use 1 tbsp.)

1. Wearing vinyl gloves, cut up and deseed/devein the peppers.  Remove stem and blossom ends and cut into large chunks.  You can toss in some of the seeds if you want it really hot.  I go about 50/50 on the ratio of hot and sweet banana peppers.  This gives it a kick without burning your tongue off!

     I also like to take a few dark red peppers aside and chop them by hand before adding to the pot.  They look really nice suspended in the golden yellow of the mixture.

2. Puree the peppers in a blender using some of the vinegar.

3. In a large pot, combine all ingredients except the flour.

4. In a small bowl, add enough water to the flour to make a smooth paste.  Be sure to work all the lumps out.

5. Add flour paste to the mixture.

6. Simmer over medium heat until thickened, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

IMPORTANT — Try not to let the mustard boil as this will incorporate air bubbles into the mixture.  Air bubbles are the number one cause of the mustard boiling out of the jars in while in the water bath.  If you think it looks bubbly, let it sit awhile on the lowest heat setting until they are gone.  Stir gently.

7. Pour into hot jars leaving 1/2″ headspace.  Wipe rims and place lids.  Hot water bath 15 minutes for pints and half-pints.

Enjoy!

I made a bunch of half-pints to give as Christmas gifts.  I try to can something special every year just for that purpose.

Well, now I am on to green beans.  I picked 5 gallons this week.  I am loving my Nickell heirloom pole beans I got from Sustainable Mountain Agriculture, Inc.  They are so tender and flavorful.  I am saving seeds for trading and may do a giveaway later on. 

The garden is close to finishing up.  I have a few fall crops to put in yet.  I am getting ready to till the main garden up and plant it to buckwheat for my bees (who are doing great, btw.)  August is really my busiest time of year!

An odd place to find a grasshopper…

This seems like an odd place to find a locust.

 

I was checking over my Heavenly Blue morning glory vines, looking for any sign of impending bloom, when I spotted this guy up under the rafters of my porch roof.

It’s a big one, over 2″ long.  Probably deciding which of the lush, overgrown (flowerless!) vines to nibble on first. 

I was afraid that he might get annoyed and jump on me while I tried to take his picture.  I would have thrown the camera and run for sure.

These morning glory vines are beginning to engulf my porch.  They look healthy and awesome.  I am just waiting for them to put on their big show.  I planted them there to provide some quick shade so that my husband can eat his dinner out on the porch without the evening sun blinding him.

I’ve been really BUSY canning the past couple of weeks, so I haven’t had much time to post.  When I get more time I am going to post my version of Hot Pepper Mustard (Butter).  Tuesday I canned 18 pints and 17 half-pints (for Christmas presents).  We like it–A LOT.  And I think you will too…

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