Locust Firewood for Next Winter

The last two weeks Eddie has been cutting next year’s winter firewood at a friend’s place down the road. Our friend had about twenty locust trees hanging over his hayfield. He told Eddie he could have it if he cut it down, cut it up and cleaned the limbs from the field. Locust is a really good heating wood, and we don’t have a lot on the farm. I wasn’t allowed to help with this as it was green trees that were covered with poison oak, and I am very allergic.

First load of locust firewood.

He brought in seven eight-foot truck beds full. I didn’t even help unload it. He hopes that it will dry quickly, and the bark will fall off before we get ready to split it. It’s extremely heavy because the trees were still alive.

This is the fourth load, and the pile is getting really big.
Final load is home and ready to cover because ice and rain were predicted to come.
One end of the pile is large pieces to be split at least into fourths. This upper side is the smaller limbs that he cut up.
All covered up until we have a week of sunny days. We’ll keep putting the tarp on and off until the heat of the summer arrives. Heavy posts were added to try to keep the wind from tearing it off.

It’s a great start to our wood supply but this year we have used up nine of ten loads and its only February. We will be on the search for down and dead wood to finish out the season and to add to next year’s warmth.

Polar bears, climate change, and the right to be cold

I was given permission to repost this from a friends blog. With the weather we are having, I thought it most appropriate~~

Robby Robin's Journey

Today, February 27, is International Polar Bear Day, and since polar bears are my very favourite wild animals (along with tigers, whose special day is in July), celebrate them I will! (I acknowledge that today is also National Cupcake Day, but I’ll leave that celebration to others.)

My husband and I (and my brother and SIL) were privileged beyond all measure to have been able to spend some quality time with polar bears in their natural habitat back in August 2015. We were on a National Geographic ship in the Canadian High Arctic, having spent hours at the ship railings with our binoculars, trying to spot just one elusive polar bear on the expanse of sea ice off in the distance. It’s the Arctic version of looking for elusive wildlife in the savannahs in Africa. Patience is indeed a virtue.  We had given up for the afternoon and were heading…

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Pruning Plum Trees

I’ve been adding fruit and nut trees to our farm for several years and so far, they’re doing well. We’ve added apple, peach, plum and cherries. Last year I even got some almond and chestnut trees going. The cherries are tart and this year I want to find some sweet black heart cherries. Hoping to start some peach and hazelnut this spring. All of the trees need to be pruned but we’ll start with the plum and grapes.

This is one of two red plum trees we have at one end of the garden.
The second as well as the first are in dire need of a proper pruning. They both were supposed to be green gage trees but their first blooming and producing proved that to be wrong. We got large red plums that are super sweet. Good but would have preferred the Green Gage. I’ll have to get some seed from my Aunt Carrie.
Eddie pruned one and I took the other one. My pruning was a bit more drastic than his. The trees are already full of buds and we will have freezing weather in March and April.
You can see the buds and the trees are loaded. I doubt we’ll get much fruit because February is not the usual budding time.

I just don’t understand what is going on with these crazy weather patterns. Ice and rain one week and the next rain and 50* – 70*. It just doesn’t make any sense and it’ll be a challenge to get any fruit in 2023.

Family Cookbook

I’m not sure what happened to all of my mother’s cookbooks when she died. There were two that I would love to have had but hope they’re still in the family. That being said I’ve spent some time trying to put my favorite, tried and true, recipes all in one spot for my two kids. They can do what they want with them but they’re all in one place in my kitchen.

Hubby made me a wonderful recipe box a couple years ago to put our favorite recipes in and it’s getting full. I’ve been going through it to pull any duplicates and some recipes are new to try so I put a check mark on the cards that are tried and true.

I gave hubby the measurements of my cards and he made the box from barnwood found on the farm.

I’ve gone through or in the process of going through all of my cookbooks and marked the recipes with a sticker that I want to try or once tried and liked, they’ll go on cards in the box, too. Some cookbooks I’ll keep forever, such as, a gift from a friend that used to live in Georgia and the other is a Virginia Farm Bureau cookbook that I was given when I worked for them several years ago.

Country Treasures is the VFB cookbook. You can tell by the edges of the book it’s used a lot.
Dianne Brown gave me this book when she lived in Georgia. Glad she’s back in Virginia.

I also have three binders full of recipes that friends have sent me or that I found on Facebook that look good. I’m always looking for new recipes since I love to cook.

These are the ones I’m cleaning out in my free time!

The other two cookbooks are one that my kids bought their dad called Redneck Grill and my, used a lot, Ball Canning Book.

My go-to book during canning time.
There aren’t a lot of recipes in the book but the ones that are in it are great!!!

My mother was a member of the Paint Bank Women’s Auxiliary and they put together two cookbooks a few years ago to raise money for the Paint Bank Fire & Rescue. They are in reprint, and I will have both of them very soon. All of the ladies in Paint Bank were awesome cooks.

These books have recipes of my Mom’s, my aunt’s, my sister my friends and even some of mine. Ladies all over Paint Bank contributed.

My Sewing/Creating Room

After the books were removed from my sewing room, I knew I needed to clean out the small closet in that room and paint it. It was perfect for more organization.

This is the closet before I started pulling out, cleaning, painting and putting up shelves. It had a lot of upper space perfect for shelving and it was 40 inches wide.
This cabinet set in front of the closet and was FULL of books. They all went to the library in the foyer. It is now full of crafting and sewing supplies.
It’s all pretty and white and doesn’t need a light to see where everything is but I may put a touch light just in case I need to be in the closet at night.
It’s perfect for the large baskets of crochet, yarn, embroidery, quilt batting and more without being crowded.
To the left of the closet is my treasure of quilting books and magazines.

This is the built in shelving unit to the left of the magazines. I have all sorts of crafting items in their own box and labeled.

I have two bureaus full of fabric in this room sorted by color for each drawer. On top of the chest is a monitor and dvd player for instructional videos.
The second chest full of fabric. I’m not a hoarder but I do love having lots of fabric for different projects. The bad part is I haven’t used much of it and hope that someone in my family will carry on my creative gene.
Between those two chests is my embroidery station. It’s being used less than anything but I’m making a quilt from this embroidery project. Takes time!!!
On the next wall is my cutting table and under it and on both ends are more fabric sorted by color.
In the middle of the room is a crafting station. I made a special cover to go over it that has pockets for tools used on this table.
In front of that worktable and beside the closet is my wonderful Brother sewing machine. I placed it and the embroidery machine in front of the two windows in the room to have perfect light for anything I made be working on.
As if I didn’t have enough to keep me occupied, this is a weaving loom. Two very special friends bought this for me when they went to a quilting show that I wasn’t able to attend. I still haven’t made a rug yet, but it’s started. I just need to be brave enough to try something new!!! Mary & Dianne do you remember this?

So now you’ve seen a couple things I’ve been up to and a lot of things that are waiting on me to find the time!! I didn’t show the pile of mending and re-fashion I’ve got waiting !

Library Cleaned Up & Organized

I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning up and cleaning out! I started with the upstairs foyer where I have my own little library. I had books in four different rooms and decided to go through them and keep those I haven’t read and those that I can read over and over. The rest will go to friends, local library and Goodwill.

The shelves are still full, but the other rooms are empty of books except for a few I have to read the next few months beside my armchair.
I’m an avid reader of all books but mainly fiction. Some of my favorite authors are Jean Auel, Jennifer Chiaverini, Danielle Steele, Nicholas Sparks, Karen White, and so many more.
All of these boxes are full of books to go out of the house.

Oh my, I just realized I still have a shelf full of books in our storage room on gardening, landscaping, decor, crafting, beekeeping, and heaven only knows what else. Guess I better find some big boxes because I know there’s a lot of those that will have to go!!!

Canning Potatoes Again

My morning has been spent peeling more potatoes to can. The first canner is on and out of a five-gallon bucket I have twelve quarts of chunk potatoes. Here’s a pictorial of my morning:

Sterilize the wide mouth jars
Fourteen quarts ready for potatoes.
Peeled a five-gallon bucket of small to medium-sized potatoes.
Took me an hour to peel them. Eddie had already washed them for me.
Wash again after peeling and cut into chunks.
Fill the jars and season. This batch was given a teaspoon each of salt and onion powder.
Pop on the lids and add the rings tightening them as I load them in the canner.
They are in the canner under 10 pounds of pressure for 35 minutes.

I’m trying to use up as many of the last year potatoes as I can because Eddie will be buying new seed this year and not use any of the leftovers. Sometime this week I’ll do a couple more canners, but they will be diced and canned in wide mouth pint jars and should process around three to four canners.

I use the chunked potatoes in stew, soup, and baked with carrots and meat in the oven. Everything will be fully cooked, and we’ll have a meal in about 20 minutes.

Smoked sausage and chunked potatoes
Chunked potatoes, carrots, celery & onions baked in the oven.

The diced potatoes are fantastic for a quick pot of potato soup or pour a jar in a medium-sized pot and add a can of corned beef, diced fine onions, and a cup of milk, season with salt & pepper, stir and heat through. You have a great meal of corned beef hash and, of course, fresh, hot, out-of-the-oven biscuits!!

Two New Dishes for January

These recipes and a couple more can be found on the cooking page of this blog. Hope you enjoy if you try and let me know what you think. Venison tips/cubed steaks & gravy and Crockpot BBQ Chicken are two new recipes I came up with in January. One of the items on my bucket list is to try one new recipe each month.


The quilt is done and now my spare bedroom and office are opened up again and I can actually get to my clothes in the dresser and closet without moving the quilting frame.

The quilting frame took up all of this open space.
One corner of the room which is off the kitchen is my office and where I post these stories.

This room doesn’t have a heat source but it’s cozy on one end and the other end is perfect for a small office area. Sadie likes to come in here and lay on a rug because it’s cool.

Seasoned Flour

Our favorite flour mill closed down last fall and since then there was a huge scramble for everyone trying to get their favorites from the mill. The same was true of all the local stores that carried it. I bought their self-rising flour, biscuit mix and our favorite seasoned flour. I miss the biscuit flour and the seasoned flour the most. There all sorts of recipes on the internet for making your own but none that I’ve tried even compare.

In January, someone posted on Facebook about a seasoned flour in one of my favorite stores, Heritage Market. I went there for some cheese and bacon and got a bag of the seasoned flour.

It’s from a mill in Boonville, North Carolina and it’s as good if not better than what Big Springs Mill carried. I love it for coating all of the meat that I fry, like chicken, pork, fish but gravy for breakfast is our favorite. I’m so glad we found it. It comes in two- and five-pound bags and a five-pound bag will last me about a month and a half. I’m sure I could get some of their flours in larger quantities if I asked before their shipments come in.

First, it’s their cheese assortment, then the bacon and now the flour! Is there any wonder I don’t love Heritage Market!!! I don’t know who the owners are, but they really have it going on!!!! They’re friendly and so very helpful. They also carry a large assortment of canning products.

Giveaways lucky winners

I am a member of the Goodreads site and keep up with my reading habits on the site. I also enter their contests for free books every day. I’ve won several from them over the years and they’re geared to what I love to read.

Last week I got the following email from the site:

Congratulations Rita!

You are one of our Giveaways lucky winners! You will soon receive a free copy of “Something Wilder” in the mail. Please allow a few weeks for shipping.

Goodreads keeps up with what I’m currently reading, what books I’ve read, the books I want to read, reading challenges, recommendations in the genre I like and so much more. It doesn’t cost anything!!! You can hook up with other folks that love to read, their recommendations, and ratings on books. It gives you updates on new releases from authors you like and on genres you might want to try.

Try Goodreads, you’ll like if you like to read.


I’ve never found a can of chili in the grocery store that my husband likes. He loves my chili beans though. So, a couple years ago, I started making our hotdog chili in bulk and freezing it using my chili bean recipe without the beans. It’s a very simple recipe and I’ll add it to my cooking page, but I wanted to get into detail of what I do with about two pounds of venison burger.

Brown the burger with finely chopped onions (one large onion), salt and pepper, to taste. I add one tablespoon of chili powder for each pound of meat. When meat is browned add a half cup of water, a cup of catsup and a 1/2 cup of tomato sauce. Check for taste that suits you and your family and add more seasoning if you wish. Lower heat and let simmer for 30 minutes. I have a screened lid that I cover it with while cooking to let out the steam and keep in the mess from my stove while it’s cooking. Remove from heat and let cool. Once it’s cool, spoon out into servings as you need in freezer safe containers. I use the little containers that come in KFC meals because they’re the perfect amount for four hotdogs at our meals. I use them over and over.

I think they hold about 1/2 of a cup in each container and they freeze well.


Yes, my chicken eggs are a two-fold item in the garden.

All of these containers are full of crushed eggshells.
As soon as I crack them open, I rinse out the inside and place open end down on a paper towel in a pie tin. They dry completely in a day.

Once they’re completely dry, I dump them into a Ziploc bag and crush them into very small pieces and store them in the airtight containers. I save them until spring planting. They are full of Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Phosphorus and more. They are also great for getting rid of the larvae of those hateful bugs that like to eat up your plants. Supposedly the bugs crawl around in the ground when they hatch and crawl over the shells which are like bits of glass.

Now I will admit this is what I’ve read and been told, and I tried it the last three years when we had so many potato beetles. Last year we had hardly any!!!! But the vitamins and nutrients are so good for your soil and I sprinkle it in all of the rows that we make before dropping seeds or placing plants in the ground. I also use a tablespoon of Epsom salts around any plants that we place in the garden. I couldn’t grow sweet peppers here until I started using it.

My roses love the eggshells.

They get bigger and prettier every year!!

The Yard Is A Mess

Winter time just makes me so much more anxious for spring!!!

What a mess to address as soon as winter is OVER!!
The yard is full of debris which will probably take me at least four days to clean up once the weather is agreeable!
Every area of the yard is full of leaves, maple tree limbs, and dead foliage.
The gazebo is full of foliage from the moon flowers and wire grass. This will take the least amount of time to clean up.
The area in front of the porch will be the hardest work because the hosta’s need to be divided.
I let the leaves lay through the fall to add just a little cover for the perennials.

The best part, I’ll be outside digging in the dirt which is my favorite pastime in the spring and that not too far off.


Bucket List Illustrations, Royalty-Free Vector Graphics & Clip Art - iStock

Remember that bucket list I posted about in January. Here’s an update on how that’s going.

I started cleaning out closets and have all of my clothes closets and dressers organized and emptied of things I no longer wear. I’m waiting to do hubby’s when he has the time to help me with his clothes.

We haven’t done much traveling except to doctors and feed runs because of Covid and the weather.

I called two friends in January but haven’t had much time to slow down and take the time, but I will. My goal is one a month so I’m ahead of the game.

I’ve chosen Sunday afternoons to write my notes to friends and family and am getting about 4-6 every Sunday. I hope they’re enjoying the notes.

I started cleaning one room and decided I need to save this item for warmer weather. Curtains, bed linens & quilts need to be washed aired out on the clothesline and rugs need the help of the pressure washer and the full sun to dry. I think late April and early May will see these items completed.

One book has been read and second one started. I only read at night (and fall asleep) or on Sunday afternoons.

As for reading to my grandson over the phone is impossible because his attention span is very, very short. Instead, I write to him every Sunday and mail it on Monday. He usually gets the letters on Wednesday or Thursday and reads them to his grandmother.

I haven’t made anything creative except Heather’s quilt but that doesn’t count because it took two years. I’m working on this!! No picnics yet, we’ve been fencing a field and too cold to picnic.

I’ve taken lots of photos of the farm and nature, but they will be in my posts.

Out of eight new recipes I’ve tried since January 1, only two are worth mentioning and will post on the cooking page.

The greenhouse is not open yet to grow something I’ve never tried before because I haven’t opened the greenhouse yet.

If I can keep this up the “Bucket List” will be a “challenge” met!!!


As I was cleaning out some ice buildup in our old chest freezer, I found this bag taking up way too much space.

It was full of blackberries, raspberries and cherries that I’ve frozen the last two years. It was mostly full of black raspberries, so I made a decision to make jelly.

First, I let the berries thaw and all of the juice went into this pot with a package of Sure Jell.

Actually, it took five cups of the juice, five cups of sugar and one package of Sure Jell. The Sure Jell was stirred/dissolved into the juice, pot put on the stove on high heat to come to a boil. The all of the sugar was poured into the boiling mixture, stirred and brought to a hard boil for one minute. Then it was poured into 1/2-pint glass jars and lids and rings put on the jars. My pressure canner was adjusted to 10 pounds of pressure, nine jars added to the canner, lid put on and tightened. We wait for the pressure to be acquired and then process for 10 minutes.

Results: After three batches we had 27 of these beautiful jars of raspberry jelly.
After adding these to the cellar, we won’t need any more jelly for the next ten years!!!

Well, maybe some peach preserves and some more apple butter!!!

I had four packages of cherries in the bag which were precisely measured and frozen for cherry pies. There were about 20 bags of blackberries and most of them were fed to the chickens for a treat. I asked hubby not to bring anymore to the house this summer of any berries and he said what he picked would be sold to anyone that wanted to pay for them. Sounds like a plan to me and he loves picking berries and cherries.


For about six years we have been going to Lexington twice a year to buy 10-pound boxes of wonderful bacon. I would bring it home and vacuum pack it with 1/2-pound layers of the finest bacon we’ve ever eaten. We don’t raise hogs but love sausage and bacon.

Just recently we found out that Heritage Market in Fincastle is carrying and it’s almost $20 cheaper than what we drove all the way to Lexington for. That trip took about an hour and 45 minutes on the interstate.

It’s a ten-pound box of smoked bacon.
Very lean.
I usually put about eight slices to a package. This shows how lean it is throughout the box.
We use the Food Saver vacuum system.
I prefer the Cabela’s brand of vacuum bags because the thicker and stronger bags.

I have twenty packages of bacon in my freezer that cost about $4.20 cents per pound. This one box will last us for about six months because we don’t have it every day but bacon and eggs, BLT’s, pancakes and bacon, waffles and bacon, are just a few of the breakfast choices we have when there’s bacon in the house. We start almost every day with a good breakfast.


For the last twenty years my hearing has grown worse and worse each year!! About fifteen years ago I went for a hearing test and was told that my hearing was bad, and I could get hearing aids for about $15000. We couldn’t afford that, and I thought I would just live with the loss and pay more attention to who was talking to me and that worked for a while!!

Recently, Eddie had to repeat everything he said to me and started raising her voice instead of looking at me when he talked so that could hear and read his lips enough to know what he was saying. It wasn’t just Eddie though, I had to repeatedly ask my children to speak up when talking to me and not talk to me when they were walking away from me. Even worse than that, Lord only knows how many deer walked right past me and I didn’t hear them.

Well, today my new hearing aids arrived, and I went to a very nice gentleman that tested me two weeks ago and we ordered my new ears at 1/5 the price they were fifteen years ago . Jason, of Connect Hearing, on Apperson Drive in Salem, was so patient, understanding, and helpful! The aids were placed in my ears at noon today and I had no idea how much noise I make in the house and how many things squeak, I can even hear the cloth of jeans rubbing when I walk and when I put them on it sounds like sandpaper against my dry skin. I have a feeling things are going to be completely different around here from now on!!

I hope you are not one of the people that I didn’t hear or constantly had to repeat things to me. Hearing and eyesight are two major senses, and we take them for advantage!!! Hold on to your health, my friends!!!

Most Vicious Killer On the Farm


These little beauties, the lighter two, WERE feeding us well.

Two weeks ago, the lighter one disappeared and later that day Eddie found her on the bank of the branch that flows behind our pond. The ducks loved playing and eating in that waterway. Something had caught her and just eaten all the meat on her neck!! It was such a horrific death and loss to me. We were thinking it must have been an owl or weasel since it happened in the middle of the night. We’ve always been so careful about putting them in their duck house at night because of predators. This death happened in the middle of the day in broad daylight.

Three nights ago, a vicious killer got in the duck house and tortured the other two ducks where they could not get away. It ate the head off of one duck and the neck meat only on the other one. We have since found out that this vulgar creature is a mink!!!

Eddie has set traps for it in several locations all over the farm and in the duck house. It returned last night for the ducks and threw the trap, but Eddie is determined to catch it and maybe a mate. Our chickens will be next!!!

NO, it’s not cute!!! They are wasteful and vicious animals, and you must beware of the safety of your chickens, ducks, rabbits and any small animal on your property!!!

Finally . . . .

Yesterday, February 3rd was our daughter’s birthday, and I finally finished a gift for her that I’ve been working on for two years. With Eddie’s help turning and tightening the gift on the quilt frame and taking care of all my chores outdoors, her quilt called “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” was completed after two days of nonstop quilting. And we presented it to her after she got home from a hard day at work. I think she loves!!!

Grandmother’s Flower Garden for my daughter.

I have NEVER completely hand-pieced, and hand quilted anything so intricate and probably won’t again. I hand-pieced a “Cat” quilt for my granddaughter several years ago but it was finished by machine and hand pieced cat shadows on the blocks which was an easy piece to do. I’ve machined pieced most of the other quilts I made and had someone else professionally do the quilting. This one was a challenge but worth the effort for her. I completed it about four hours before we gave it to her. Happy birthday, Heather!!!

Each 3-inch hexagon was stitched to another making a larger hexagon that grew and grew and grew!!
The stitches from the quilt to the backing made a pretty pattern on the back of the unbleached muslin. She wanted a lightweight quilt for reading so there was no backing between the two layers.
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