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.

Preparing for Spring Greenhouse

Seeds for Christmas and seeds not used last year put me way ahead of the game. Winter has not been nice though so there are repairs to do and changes inside to think about. I’m ahead of the game in other aspects though! I sterilized all of my pots, every last one of them, and that’s a big chore in the spring.

I love it when the seeds arrive.

Needs are few, including Pro Mix, new shade cloth, repair the roof and one window, and kill two sand briars that made it through the four-inch layer of gravel last summer and are still alive after scalding them with boiling water, spraying with vinegar and pouring salt water all around the base of the weeds. Nothing worked, they’re still alive!!! Those are hateful weeds!! Deciding on which heat system to use, when to actually start the growing processes and making a canning and freezing plan are things also on my mind every day that the sun is out.

Spring can’t get here soon enough!!

I’m still sifting through my seed catalogs for four new plants to try this year which is a project on my Bucket List. I know what vegetables we like and that do well here so the new plants will probably be in the form of flowers or herbs and I’m leaning towards the herb group.

I have lots of fruit and nut seeds that I’ll probably start first because they’re simple and quick to start. They are in the dormant, dark and cold area now to give them a good start. I got apple root stock and almond trees started and planted last year. This spring I’m leaning toward more apple, blueberries and hazelnuts, three of each. I’m not planting as much of this for 2023 because it does take up a lot of space and need to be watched just like anything else in the greenhouse. Of course, the big problem is I have all of these good intentions that seem to fly out the greenhouse doors once I get started!! I do love to play in the dirt and grow anything and everything!!!

2023 Hopes

I started the year with a Bucket List which so far is going well, and my daily planner keeps me on track. I also have so many “hopes” for this new year with the first month almost gone. Time sure flies when you’re almost 70 and when did that happen???

These are my top 20 hopes for 2023:

  1. A smile for everyone I meet and talk too, leave’em laughing is a good thought!!
  2. Visits to friends that never seems to get accomplished due to weather, pandemics, gas prices, time, and any other excuses that render themselves to me. I have six friends that live within 60 miles of me that I HOPE to see this year.
  3. A cure for Covid, cancer, and Alzheimer’s! That’s not too much to hope for when scammers can invade our lives!!! Is the cure already out there and big money is holding it back????
  4. To see our grandson at least four times this year and maybe even spend a week with us or his Dad. Every month is hoping too much with the busy lives of the parents but I’m so afraid he’ll forget us or grow up too fast which I know he is already doing!!!
  5. Hope that our granddaughter complete’s yet another degree/certificate in her field of education. Fifth graders love her and that tells me she knows what she is doing in her classroom.
  6. That nothing gets anymore of my fowl!!! Something got one of my ducks three days ago in the daylight hours. Predators are brazen and apparently hungry!! I’m left with a duck and drake and will miss those two eggs every morning from the ducks.
  7. To have a very impressive growing season in my greenhouse and garden. The cellar shelves need filling again.
  8. For a plan to stop ALL of the senseless killings in our country that can’t be entirely blamed on the guns. Guns don’t pull triggers by themselves.
  9. For my family to stay well and HAPPY! We ended the year with lots of sickness for the kids and grandkids.
  10. To complete the fencing in the pasture field that we started in December.
  11. To grow a bigger stack of firewood than we had this year. We’ve used over half of the pile and it was one of our biggest in a while. We forgot how cold and windy it can be but hasn’t for a couple years. Our worst weather months are coming up fast!!!
  12. To take care of me and my better half throughout the year with NO sickness or accidents.
  13. To have a very successful calving season with no losses!!!
  14. For our country to stop all the endless bickering and get something done like they were chosen to do. I DO NOT TOLERATE POLITICS AT ALL!!!
  15. To have a great fruit crop this year! No surprise frosts in May would be a very good thing.
  16. Hope to have a better relationship with my siblings!! The loss of our sister was huge!!!
  17. Hope for a successful maple syrup season, it’s looking better so far.
  18. To make our farm something our ancestors would be proud of.
  19. Hope for our economy to pull out of the mess it’s in without hurting our day to day living!!! We need to learn to take care of ourselves and our families without taking advantage with these increasingly outrageous price hikes in everything.
  20. Hope that our country will become more self reliant and not depend on other countries so much! Why can’t the big spenders use their affluence to bring back the factories to our country, pay our employees instead of other countries, and make it profitable for the company owners as well as our people!!!

That’s my rant for the day and hopes for the year!!! Good luck 2023!

Seasoning Firewood II

And the rest of the story. . .

We cut our firewood 6-9 months before we plan to use it so it can “season”. This means it needs to dry thoroughly before using it in your home woodstoves. After the would is split, we stack it on heavy plastic and let it air during the entire summer, only covering it when it’s calling for rain. Having it out in the open, facing north and west winds and at least 12=15 hours of sunlight on it helps it dry fast even when it’s stacked.

First load in 2021 and before it’s split to dry.

When the weather starts to change in the fall, we cover it with a 20 ft. x 60 ft. tarp. We place heavy logs around the bottom and slabs on the top to keep the tarp on as much as possible. The wind fights all winter and we do have a woodhouse to store it in, but it dries much better and faster outside in the sun. Any, if any, of the outdoor stack will be put in the woodhouse for following winters.

If not seasoned the creosote from wet wood will build up in your stove, stove pipe and the chimney and the result will be a major fire in the chimney that can burn your home down. Years ago, we had a flue fire that sounded like a freight train outdoors but was in our chimney. Luckily, I was home and called a friend of ours to tell me what to do. I needed to let the fire burn and shut off, burn and shut off. By shut off, I mean, open the stove to let air get to the fire and gradually let it burn until the creosote burnt up and burnt the fire out. I was scared out of my mind. It was a season of warm days, then cold days, and more of the same over a couple weeks’ time. We weren’t burning the stove hot enough to keep it from building up the creosote. The next warm day, Eddie got out the chimney cleaning brushes, took the stove pipe loose and worked several hours to clean the two-story chimney thoroughly. The rest of the season if we had a fire and it got too warm in the house, I opened the windows a bit instead of letting the fire burn completely out because it was very cold in the morning and late at night but warm during the day and early evening.

This is the house we had before we moved to the family farm. It was our first year there and we had lots of work to do to it and the chimney with the fire was in the front middle section of the house and went up through two stories and attic. We moved from there in 2002, I think, and have been in our existing home since then. It was long after we moved that I found out that the first house was built by John Caldwell and the date is on the chimney (1800+). John would have been Eddie’s great, great, great uncle!!!

Seasoning Firewood

We are fortunate to have plenty of forest land on our farm and are able to cut all we need for the coming heating season. As you can tell from the photo we start early and usually right after deer season. We cut while the trees are dormant or dead. It’s faster to season the wood if it’s dormant and we try not to cut when it’s wet.

Last spring, we had lots of green trees that are wild cherry trees. These trees can be deadly to our cattle if they are leafed out. The wind can blow down a tree and when the leaves wilt and the cattle can get to them. They’ll eat every limb clean of the wilted leaves which are toxic. It makes for great firewood and last spring we found a large group of them along a pasture fence, so we decided to take them all down. There were plenty of oak and maple trees that will get plenty of light to grow tall and strong where the cherry wood was taken down.

We fall the trees on one day, cut it into 32-36 inch lengths the next day and haul to our splitting area at the house. When we get a large pile built up, we spend several hours splitting and stacking on old tin sheets. We try to keep it off the ground because the wood will draw moisture from the ground, and it will not dry.

A lot of the trees we cut will have small limbs about 4 inches around that do not have to be split. Six inch and up will be split at least in half, quartered and even smaller. It is easier to get in the stove at this width and it also dries much faster when split smaller.

We have a 1970 4×4 Dodge pickup with an 8-foot bed that we use to haul in the wood. It usually takes 15 – 20 loads to do for the winter and that’s stacked as high on the truck as the pickup can usually handle. As big as the truck is, it still gets around in the woods really good.

We’re late getting started this year and need to get some more fencing repaired before we start cutting again. I love going to the woods to bring in firewood. When you’re in the woods you’re back to nature in a really awesome way and we have together time doing it. Eddie cuts them down, limbs them up and I load them on the truck!!! Togetherness in so many ways!!!

Weather & Honeybees

We had three weeks of unusually cold temperatures and then three weeks of unusually warm temperatures. These spurts of strange weather are very hard on honeybees. They’ve been out swarming the maple trees because they too like this warm weather and really swarming my birdfeeders. The last three or four years we have lost our honeybees due to this very weather oddity or so we think.

Apparently when the weather warms like it did last week, in the 60’s, the bees think spring is here and they eat up their winter stores and start raising young bees. Then the cold returns and they don’t have enough food to stay alive, much less raise young. They all die.

We don’t like to mess with Mother Nature and try not to interfere with any animals’ normal lifetime. Some people feed their bees honey and it is the best fuel for them. Depending on how long the winter is, a beehive will need about 30 pounds of honey to make it to spring. When we take honey for ourselves. usually in June to mid-July, we try to make sure there is still plenty of pollen plants in the area for them to refill their hive. We leave another hive on top of the main hive full of frames for them to fill for winter stores. You can’t take all the honey from your bees because they need food to survive cold winter months when they’re confined inside their beehive. We place “supers” on top of the two main hives, which are shorter in height than the main hive. The honeys made in these boxes is what we take for ourselves and leave a few frames in them just in case the bees need them in the winter/spring.

Honeybees do not hibernate during winter. They remain active and shelter inside their hive, huddling together to keep warm and protect the queen. As winter begins, brood rearing ceases and the queen stops laying eggs. The hive depends on the overwintering of the queen.

Honeybees don’t just collect nectar and pollen. They also gather resin and sap from trees and plants which bees turn into bee glue, this sticky stuff is made by combining plant resin with saliva and beeswax. Bees use this bee glue in particular for sealing up any unwanted gaps in a hive and in preparation for winter honeybees will close up any cracks to prevent any cold draughts. We try to locate our hive in a location where the low winter sun will be able to warm the front of the hive during the day, we have a bee house that protects them from the north and west winds of winter. It’s at least 20 inches off the ground which helps protect them from predators such as skunks and coons that will raid and destroy the bees.

Some people make/buy feed for their bees to make sure they make it during the winter months. The one we hear about more than any other is a syrup of 2:1 sugar water. Our son uses winter patties and candy boards, I believe. Shawn is following in his granddad’s footsteps and his dad’s, who are/were beekeepers.

Culling Cattle

This is never an easy job and it’s another reason most of the cattle that we cull are 20 – 30 years old. Lots of farms cull at 10-15 years but we know our cattle and keep them in good shape. They are usually still fertile and raise good calves but in the times we deal with now you have to think of the money that you would not get if they died on the farm.

The other reason we might cull (sell to the nearest livestock market) a cow is curled hooves (crippling disease that is genetic), loss of calves before born in more than one year, deformities of their calves in more than one year, infertility, rogues (tear down fences), and cows that never milk well enough to keep their babes alive.

Because we only get the cattle in holding pens is to vaccinate babes, check for lice or worms and other health problems. The less you have to do this the better, the cows will stay calmer and easier to work with.

One of the cows we just sent to mark was famous number “18”. She was a beautiful cow and raised beautiful calves. But when she had a calf and you got anywhere near her, she would run you down. She didn’t want anyone or anything near her babe. She was very protective and gave us more than 20 calves over the last 18 years. She was raised on the farm and knew when the cows were called to the loading/working pens she would not come. The only other one that we had this issue with was another Angus girl “29”.

Gielbiev #18, great mama and very protective of all of her calves.

So, to deal with this problem the cows were brought in around the barn lot a week ahead of time and fed grain along with their daily ration of high-quality hay and lots of green grass to graze for a couple days. The only person allowed near them at that time was hubby. He was a real cow whisperer!! Our daughter learned pretty quickly when helping her dad to stay away from these two mommies!

My Deer Season Is Over

I truly love hunting with my bow and didn’t have a lot of luck this year like I did last year. I needed one more deer to make Sadie’s jerky. It’s not a seasoned meat at all, it just small strips of deer meat dried to perfection and given to her almost every day as a treat.

Today I plan to start the dehydrator and get this last meat dried and stored in the freezer in quart bags just for her. I have two tenderloins, two hams and one shoulder and a few minor scraps that I will put away for her. It’s very healthy with no spices or additives. this is why I freeze it; with no additives it would mold pretty quick, and I know this for a fact!!! I’ve heard that some dog treats that come from another country can make our dogs very sick. I take every precaution when it comes to my fur baby!

Fur baby
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