I am definitely a country girl that loves to garden, quilt, preserve, hunt, and read. I love my family more than anything in the world. I live with my husband of fifty years. We have a son, daughter, granddaughter and grandson. We live on a 500+ acre farm in Virginia with about 75 cows & bulls, thirty chickens, and three dogs.
Do you ever have your children or grandchildren ask you about how things were when you were a child? Do they want to know where you lived and were born? Do they ask you about where you worked or what you did to have fun? I’ve been thinking about these sorts of questions lately, maybe because I’m about to hit 70 years old this year. I wish I had asked my grandparents or parents. I know I’ve asked my mom questions like these but for the life of me I can’t remember what she told me.
I’ve kept journals over the years and have started putting them together in binders for my kids and grandkids. I have my blog, but it won’t last forever. Memories are a funny thing, a sad thing, an amazing thing, a teaching tool, a lifetime of bits and pieces.
When I pull out a journal or binder and look back at all the things we did as a family and things I did as a mother, I’m amazed at how many things I have forgotten.
Do you have a journal for your family and heirs? All you need is paper and pen. All you need is a $2.00 blank journal you can buy at a department store. You don’t have to write in it every day, but your thoughts and memories will be important to someone down the road. Even a day calendar would work with just the things you did on a given day. It can take five minutes to write it down or an hour depending on how deep you want to get into the day.
I’ve just added a couple vegetable side dishes to the cooking page. Hope you enjoy! If you’re looking for something specific to cook, enter a word in the search box to your right. Mac & Cheese, fried apples, and three squash recipes, all year-round goodies!!
Sadie is my Norwegian Elkhound and family dog. She loves to hunt squirrels, chipmunks, moles, voles, mice and any other creature she can play with first and then it dies. She hates snakes and so do I!!!
I never know what she’s going to bring to the front porch anytime day or night. One-night last night she brought me an opossum and the porch was covered with blood (sorry for the graphic story).
Yesterday though, she really surprised us. Keep in mind it is JANUARY!! Eddie heard her barking below the garage where he was working and didn’t go to her figuring it was a mouse or swamp rat and then he saw her give something a whiplash shake!!! She only does that to one thing!!!
Yes, it’s a gray water snake that was in the wet weather spring below the garage! Yes, it’s January and snakes aren’t supposed to be out!
Well, I guess that’s one less we’ll have scare me to death next summer when I’m going to the cellar!! Sadie amazes me at how quick she catches and kills them then walks away. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely don’t want on the front porch one morning!!
I’m starting some new things for 2023 along with my Bucket List which I revised today after seeing it on paper it was a bit repetitive!! One of the other new things will be “Pay It Forward Day” which can be any day of the week or month. Since I’m not going out much these days, I’ll be writing lots of short notes to people that mean a lot to me. I’ll thank them for being a part of my life! I think I’ll be doing this at night when things are quiet, and I can really think about what the notes should say.
Some simple ideas that take hardly any time, effort or money might be:
Offer to return shopping carts for people at the grocery store
In heavy traffic, let someone out of a parking lot, you’ve stopped for a light anyway
If someone is short of change in front of you, offer the change they may need or if they only have a couple items let them through ahead of you
On baking day, take a loaf of bread or cookies to a neighbor
Compliment a parent on a well-behaved child
Leave a kind server a smile and the best tip you can afford, compliment them on their service
Thank a nurse or doctor for their care, these days that’s rare
Send a “thank you” note to the officers of your local sheriff’s department or firemen. How long does it take to write “thank you”! Same goes for the local linemen and telephone workers.
Take muffins or cookies to your local librarian
The list goes on and on and in this world acts of kindness go far and mean so much!! A smile goes even further, so what if they cause wrinkles!!!
Thank a cashier for helping you and let them know you appreciate them so much more than checking yourself out, they’re so much faster.
This morning’s chores are done, and I’ve been organizing a closet and packing up clothes I haven’t worn in two years and donating them. While doing that I thought you should do something like this at least once a month and my life my become a bit simpler. This is what I came up with, my 2023 Bucket List. I do love a challenge!!
BUCKET LIST FOR 2023
Clean out one closet, chest, dresser once a month for a year.Donations are wanted everywhere.
Go somewhere that you’ve never been in your area once a month. Take a photo to commemorate the daytrip’s.
Call a long distant friend or family member once a month.
Put a certain amount into your savings account ($5, $10, 25, $50, whatever you can afford) once a month.
Write a handwritten “thank-you” note to someone once a month.
Thoroughly clean one room in the house once a month for the year.Organize, decorate, or change things up.
Read 24 books in 52 weeks. This may be a challenge with all that’s on this list.
Make a list of 10 small things that you enjoy doing, and make sure that you do at least one of those things once a month.Make something creative.
Have a picnic with your better half once a month.
Go for a good walk once a week with your hubby, kids, grandchildren, dog or friend.
Try making a new recipe once a month.
Grow something new in the greenhouse once a month from April through September.
The last few days it’s been a little chilly in my little office, but I’ve stayed long enough to add a new page to my blog and also some new recipes. Hope you enjoy!! Click on the picture and see what you think. If you want advance notice of new posts and recipes just click on the “Follow Living the Country Life My Way on WordPress.com” on the right side of the posts.
We have our first winter storm heading this way for the Christmas season, and we think we’re ready for it. The worst part will be the single digit temperature and 40 mph winds.
One of the things I had to do was go to the cellar and stock up on things on our menu for the next 7-10 days. I was shocked!! One of the green bean shelves was empty and I didn’t realize that I had cooked them up so fast!!! They were canned in 2020 and as fresh as if I had just picked them from the garden and cooked on the stove for dinner.
I thought I had taken a photo of what was in the cellar at end of gardening season, but I can’t put my eyes on it so I’m using the 2021 photo to explain. The bottom two shelves of green beans were three shelves, and the potatoes were in another area. At the moment the shelf with the potatoes is now empty of green beans. I’m shocked and planning for the next gardening season will be including enough green beans to fill up that shelf.
The dry beans that I canned is now down to half so in the near future I will be looking for about five pounds each of pinto, great Northern and yellow-eyed peas and will can them in early spring while things are relatively quiet. I believe we’ll have plenty of potatoes to do the winter and still have some to can while waiting on 2023 taters!!
I have about 15 quarts of tomato juice from 2021 that I want to cook up as pizza and tomato sauce and those will be done when I can’t get outside to help the Mr.
Like gathering firewood for next year, I will be accessing the needs for the cellar and produce to sell. Hopefully, we’ll have a better growing season than 2022 was with sparse rain and high temps. Climate change is real!!!
Click on the photo to see “the rest of the story”!
I would like to introduce our newest rooster which was raised on the farm by one of my Barred Rock hens, Blue and his name is Rudy. His mother was a Barred Rock that was given to me by a friend along with four of her siblings. They all lay beautiful large brown eggs, when they’re not molting and lots of the eggs are double yoke’s, great when baking.
The other roosters, were recycled into jerky for Sadie. One was two years old with huge spurs and he tortured all of the hens. When he crowed it sounded like someone trying to scream in a deep voice. You could hear him a mile away.
The other two were siblings of Rudy and I didn’t need four roosters on the farm. I think I picked the best roo for the farm and our hens. Barred Rocks are gentle and lay beautiful eggs, though Rudy won’t but I do have some hens that go broody in early summer.
I’m sure you’ll be seeing more photos and tales of Rudy as he matures.
We have been using a lot of my duck eggs the past month and very few chicken eggs. It’s baking time and the pullets picked a great time to start producing. Today we got five chicken eggs and two duck eggs. There’s nothing better than fresh eggs. If they keep this up on a regular basis, I’ll have eggs to sell to pay for winter feed when they can’t get out to forage.
This is a repeat with explanations from a post on my old blog but is very much worth repeating and encouraging, I hope!
Shingles rash that I thought was a heat rash!
Back in early 2021, I was planning to get my shingles vaccine and then COVID came into our county with a vengeance, so I decided to wait because I was afraid to go to any public places with good reason. I got shingles while I waited.
We didn’t know what was going on because I was having so much pain in my back but there was no rash. It got so bad after three days that Eddie took me to the emergency room. There I was given so much pain medication I was throwing up for hours after and x-rays were completed, and an MRI was done. NOTHING! More pain meds and sent me home with what they assumed was a herniated disc and advised me to go to my primary care.
My visit there was a thorough check, and a small rash was found on my upper thigh, but she still wanted me to go to the orthopedic specialist to check on my back. Appointment was made and my daughter took me.
The specialist was a recovering cancer patient who was training a young student. We talked about what I had been seen for and without even examining me he was convinced I had shingles, was very concerned for himself and his student (neither had ever had chicken pox) and got me out of there as fast as possible.
We called my PCP, and she ordered a prescription for a shingles med (can’t remember what, at this point) and three weeks later, no pain. I was told I should wait a couple months after it was gone before I got the vaccine. I was determined to never go through that mess ever again and in the meantime to stay out of the public unless absolutely necessary because of Covid.
Due to the pandemic the vaccine was delayed until 2022 and I made the appointment for the first vaccine in April of 2022, first vaccine was $197, and I received the second shot in July of 2022 for $200. Regular Medicare does not pay for shingles vaccine, so therefore, Medicare supplements don’t either!!!
This is an expensive vaccine but worth the cost to keep from going through that pain ever again. My advice, get it while you can and don’t wait until you are 65 or older. Get it while you have other health insurance, don’t wait for Medicare because it’s NOT covered unless you have different coverage that what I had. Why wait??? A prick of a needle is nothing compared to excruciating pain!!
She left me way too soon! We got Daisy several years ago from friends that need to scale down their animals. She came to us with eight to ten other Pekin ducks, but she was special because she was crippled when we brought her home. I’ve no idea what was wrong with her, but we gave her special care. She started laying beautiful large white eggs almost immediately and up until the last year she was here only taking a four to six week break between spring and summer.
On the morning of August 2oth, she came out of the duck house and found her soft tuft of grass she sat in every day and an hour later she had stretched her head back over neck like a regal swan and she was gone!! Sadie had gone and sit with her knowing something was wrong. I really missed her huge white eggs and her soft quacking in the mornings wanting to be released from her shelter. She is gone but will not be forgotten!!!
I got this adorable Christmas card from my youngest brother last week and fell in love with him all over again. He lives at an assisted living facility in Covington and we have grown closer over the years. He colored the front and drew the picture on the back. This will be one of my treasures from him forever!! Merry Christmas Dean!!!!
A week ago today, I went down and thought I wasn’t going to get up!! I had a condition, that I was not aware of, called Baker’s Cyst. Baker’s cysts are fluid-filled lumps or sacs that form behind your knee. This condition can be caused by a knee injury or a condition like arthritis.
I’ll not go into a long story about this but will tell you it was painful for me. I thought it was just arthritis in my knee joints and it kept me awake about 10 nights before the day it ruptured. When that happened, I was taking a step down from our front porch with a bucket of wood ash in my hand. It felt like an explosion behind my kneecap that flowed around to the front of my leg and down the shin to the top of my foot. It took my breath away and a few words out of my mouth that were not nice. I tried to proceed on down the yard to the garden to dump the ash, but the pain got worse causing faintness and severe pain, so I slowly and very painfully headed back in the house and called the doctor’s office in town. I was home alone!! I called our daughter and she came to my rescue. I spent the next four days using a walker to get around, taking Tylenol and anti-inflammatory meds and lots of icing on a raised leg.
Google the cyst and you’ll find lots of information about it, most of the time they don’t burst but I guess I pushed the “arthritis” just a bit far. I’ve learned the hard way to listen to my body when it speaks and don’t wait for it to speak loudly!!!
I’m back on my feet but not venturing out of the house too far and especially not without someone knowing where I’m at. Glad to be back and hope you pay attention to your body!!
Today I’ve added more recipes to the blog and will probably post another story later today.
October is deer season here on the farm and there seems to be plenty of deer and even a couple bear. This year they have so much food in the way of acorns, chestnuts, apples, and autumn olives. It’s going to be a challenge and take some time to get an opportunity, but my bow is lined up and shooting great and I’m excited. I’m the only one that bow hunts, Eddie is the black powder hunter during deer season and he & Heather are the rifle hunters. I’m sure there will be plenty of meat in the freezers and cellar shelves when all is said and done.
Hurricane Ian came into Florida, went back into the Atlantic and landed here on Friday. The rain is still coming in and hoping it moves out tomorrow so I can get in some hunting.
Eddie has family in the Richmond/Chesapeake are and one of his cousins’ girls and family came to camp on the part of the family farm that joins our land. Kenny & Dana have three gorgeous little girls by the name of Vada, Jolene and Jillian (twins) that entertained us while they were here. Dana’s family inherited part of the family farm that is across the main road from us. The house on the farm is in rough shape but they bought a big tent and warm sleeping bags for camping out. They stayed for two nights and three days and they were all over the Little Mountain that runs in front of our house. They bought their UTV and traveled the farm, the kids played on haybales and inherited some dolls from me while they were here. We can’t wait for their return in the spring!!
Our trip to Grundy was fun and we finally saw elk on the last evening and night, and we were there. It was great getting off to ourselves for a few days and our daughter took care of the animals while we were away. Grundy is a coal mining town, and it was hit with a horrible flood in the eighties which took out most of the town, but it has rebuilt, and houses are now built on the hillsides. I saw my first three-story Wal-Mart. It has two bottom stories of parking, and the top floor is the actual huge store!!! Strangest thing I’ve ever seen!!!
When we returned home, we had one new calf born, and Sadie ignored me for one whole day. The second day home she acted like I had been gone for weeks!!! Guess she wanted to teach me not to leave her again!!
The day after we got home my oldest brother had a second cornea transplant and we learned last week that this one was successful, and his sight is already 75% percent better and he is to be fitted with new reading glasses this week!! I’m so excited for him and his wife! She has been really worried for and about him and now she can rest easy too!!
The main string on my bow broke and we had to take it to Whitetail Outfitters for repair. I love this Wicked Ridge TenPoint crossbow and it is so accurate. It took a week to get the new string and repairs and now I’m ready to hunt again. Thankfully it didn’t break when I was hunting, it happened when we fired after an unsuccessful hunting day.
We had our first propane refill on the 18th at $2.99 a gallon and the following weekend it went over $5.00 a gallon. We’re so glad we got it filled when we did!!! The full tank will last us through the winter unless we have a really cold winter. Even if that happens, we’ll use both the woodstove in the living room and light up the cook stove in the kitchen.
Sadie turned four on the 20th and she has turned into a beautiful dog!
I planted my fall garlic on 23rd and as of this date it has sprouted. I also ran a test planting in a large planter in the greenhouse. I checked on it yesterday (11/29/2022) and it’s four inches tall. We’ll see what happens as the winter goes on.
I had a great checkup at the end of the month, only lost three pounds but bad cholesterol is way but still needs to come down more. I had my first mammogram in four years that didn’t show any masses and man was I thrilled. The last four years have all been benign but just the scare of it all was such a relief this year. I am attributing it to not having any iced tea for the last six months. I really love sweet iced tea!!! Water is my main drink now!
End of October, had us selling the first batch of calves and a second group will go on November 5th. We sold just in time because the prices are dropping drastically. Now the cows will get a good rest and fatten up the babies they are carrying which will arrive in March or April. The calves included weights from 445-730 in three different loads. The smaller ones were late calves but filled out better than we thought.
Our granddaughter turned 25 this month and hubby turned 71. We’re so proud of our granddaughter and how much she cares about her job and students. She is now trying to organize a Parent Teacher Organization since they haven’t had one since Covid arrived. She is also working on some ideas for fund raising for that organization. While doing all of this she is also working on another Master’s program and tutors in her free time!!!
Our daughter treated her dad to a fishing outing to “The Hidden Gem” trout farm on the 21st of November. It was a great father-daughter outing, and they brought home some beautiful trout. I froze over a dozen packages for the two families, and they plan to go back in the spring, weather permitting, and before her tax season begins!!
Deer hunting has been somewhat successful, and I’ve canned three canners of venison, froze 30+ packages of burger and meatballs. I need one more deer for Sadie’s jerky and I wouldn’t hate to can a few more quarts of venison. In the future, I will add our mixtures of burger and canning to my blog.
We had snow flurries on the 13th and have had a good bit of rain since the end of September. The ground needed refreshing and the cows needed the grass though it didn’t grow a lot it was enough to keep from feeding our hay supply on a daily basis. That will happen soon. Our temps here on the farm so far for the month of November is running from 13* to 57* in the mornings around 7:00 a.m. This has been the craziest weather for 2022 that we can remember. Makes you wonder if the weather systems have Covid too!!!
Thanksgiving was quiet but had a fantastic meal. Recipes will be on the blog, as well. The month has been slow compared to the rest of the year, but I think we can stand it!!
The month has also had me trying to figure out the best health insurance plan to get us through another year. We are both healthy and get around really well, but you can never tell when that would change. Both of our parents were diagnosed and died from cancer so that is always in the back of our minds. We continue to stay busy on the farm instead of wasting away in a recliner watching tv!! That I just can’t imagine!I finally decided to try one of the Medicare Advantage plans and at the end of 2023 I hope to give a good review!
I believe this catches me up since I closed the old blog so until next time. . .
09/01/2022 Well, we finally got that bull where he’s supposed to be after he jumped the loading pen and broke two top boards and woven wire off the framing of the pen. I’m glad Eddie didn’t have a gun with us, or we may have had the freezer full faster!!! Then we moved the herd from Barker Hollow to the middle pasture, moved the 16 heifers and their calves to Barker Hollow and everyone is where they are supposed to be. I canned the nine quarts of grape juice, and it is sooooo good. I’ll take it to the cellar tomorrow. We then went to Pearisburg to Farm Bureau Coop and picked up feed supplies for the chickens which should last until December. We went to Food Lion in Pearisburg today for groceries which I haven’t bought since May, spent $390!!! We had to go replenish chicken feed and corn for cattle and decided to get stocked up in the kitchen. Fixed us a light supper of salad with chicken on top and washed up the dishes. We’ll rest the rest of the evening and start a new project tomorrow which will be extra framing protection for the greenhouse.
09/02/2022 We pulled off corn this morning, shucked, silked and froze six quarts. Our corn season is just about over except for the popcorn, and we’ll pull and shuck it right before it frosts. Eddie pulled another bag of beets this morning, cleaned and put them in the garage refrigerator until I have enough to make one more batch of pickled beets. We don’t care for butter beets but love them pickled and when we eat a jar of them, I save the juice because Eddie loves pickled eggs. He brought in another basket of plum tomatoes and hopefully by next week I’ll have enough good and ripe for a batch of spaghetti sauce. We only have peppers left to process and they’ll all be stripped or diced and froze for the winter meals. We need to cut the rest of the corn stalks that are passed their prime and feed them to the cows. Nothing is wasted!! Our yards need to be mowed again but at the moment (11:00a.m.) the grass is still very wet due to the heavy dew we have every morning. It was 50* this morning but warming toward 80’s. I went through all of my saved/leftover seeds last night and entered that in my greenhouse journal. I won’t have to buy much at all next spring in the way of seed. I have plenty of pots and trays and the only big purchase I will have will be the ProMix. I hope to buy it this fall before the price goes up again in the spring. I used seven three-liter bales of it this year at $48 a bale, biggest expense I have with the greenhouse.
09/03/2022 Squirrel season opened today and Eddie left for the woods at 7:00. I laid in bed for another ½ hour and then got up, dressed, and fixed Sadie’s breakfast, let the ducks out and the chickens. Fixed breakfast of turkey biscuits and waiting on him to come in for breakfast. Bear hunters are chasing on the mountain. A little foggy this morning but 56* and I love fall mornings even though it’s not officially fall yet. Four hummingbirds are still hanging on but the other 15+ have left, the leaves are starting to fall, the katydids are screaming and every morning the grass is so wet you would thing we had a heavy rain during the night. Eddie plans to put the haybine away for the winter today and we’re going to pick fall apples. We only picked four crates and the rain moved in. We’ve stored them in the mansion.
09/11/2022 It’s been rainy and cool here the last three days and love the cooler weather. It has also hopped up our winter prep schedule. Today has been rain free and the sun comes and goes but 76* we can live with. We’ve just come back from riding back through the woods all over the farm and seeing what roads need to be cleaned out for safe riding. Eddie and I went were also looking for tanglefoot and chicken-of-the-woods mushrooms. Carol is coming on Tuesday, and she wants to go foraging. I at least have some good places to go look for them. The garden is just about gone. I have pickled beets to work on tomorrow, fried pies to make from apples we picked yesterday and potatoes to dig when the ground dries enough. Pizza (9 pints) and spaghetti (8 pints) sauces are canned, and I have one bigger batch of San Marzano plum tomatoes to work up and will probably be tomato sauce. I visited Dean at Merryfield and took him to lunch on the 4th and got back before the rain got started good. I dropped off several boxes of books to a friend, Debbie Bostic Myers before I headed to Covington. I stopped by Aunt Opals on the way home and visited for a few minutes. She gave me a book about life in Paint Bank (where she and I were raised) she helped write, edit and publish for the historical society. I dropped off a quart jar of Shawn’s honey at her house for my cousin Roger and his wife Sharon. I’m supposed to go back to see Aunt Opal in the near future for more information on the Bradley/Rose family. We labored on Labor Day on minor things. Eddie went to Salem the next day and bought home a big load of bread for the animals and us. I love the new craft breads and we use it for gravy “biscuits”, French toast and when we have pasta meals. We also repaired fences damaged by deer and blown down trees and limbs. On Thursday we put fence around all of the haybale areas and they’re ready for when we put the cattle on the hayfields. We’ve also decided we’re going to do some temporary fencing in the big hayfield across the road, so they won’t waste so much of the grass. We’ll start on that early next week, probably on Wednesday. It has rained the last three days and so far for the month we have three inches. Queen Elizabeth II died this week and I’m so glad I binge watched her movie a couple months back. Our grandson, Declan, started first grade on Thursday and the first two days were half days. During the rainy days I’ve been cleaning out closets and bookshelves but still have a long way to go. I’ve run out of boxes for the books. I’m sending them home with Carol on Tuesday. I have to stop and take the time to come up with a menu for lunch that day. I’ve also found a brand-new recipe for “Morning Glory Muffins” which are divine. They have raisins, pecans, cocoanut, shredded carrots and shredded apples in them. They are a wonderful addition to my recipe box!!! I’ll put them on the “new” blog when it’s setup.
09/14/2022 thru 09/30/2022 My very special friend and former coworker at VT, Carol Trutt came to visit, and we had such a wonderful time together. We went foraging for Chicken of the Woods but found none. Carol comes to spend the day when she needs to get away from the rat race of Christiansburg and join our little piece of heaven in the country. Eddie and I took a run to Pearisburg because my computer monitor died and now, I’m catching up on all of our adventures from home. Fall has arrived early, and we have had a couple fires in the woodstove due to temps in the 30’s and 40’s in the mornings. It had been chilly and not sure if it’s going to continue. We’ve picked 12 crates of apples for the animals and us and we stored them in the mansion where they’ll stay cool and not freeze if the weather gets really cold. We’ve also been moving different herds of cattle to longer pasture and trying to fatten up the spring calves for fall marketing. Grass is short and since we’re 200 bales short on our hay we don’t want to start feeding until at least mid to late November. We’ve sectioned off some pasture in the big field across the road but it only lasted about two weeks, so we opened up the entire field. Hoping it will last through October. We combined the young cows with the oldest herd to make the pasture last for all of them and the herd is around 35 including the heifer calves and the older cows will start calving the 27th of September. As of this writing, four have calved with one cow having twins and both calves were born dead. Not a good start to fall calving. We have eight more including a heifer from the young herd yet to calve. Fence building was done in the big hay field for temporary pasture and Heather helped us put it up and it only took about two hours to complete. Eddie and I removed it 10 days later to open up the field. The long field and L field will be opened when this runs out but hoping the calves will go to market before that happens. A new friend, Linda Fisher-Martin came to spend the night with us. The house she rents in Franklin County has a well that has gone dry and her landlord doesn’t expect to have any water for her until mid-October. We had a good visit while she was here, and she promises to come back. We got our potatoes dug and harvested 15 five-gallon buckets full. They’re not the best crop we’ve had but considering the weather this past summer we were lucky to get what we did. It’ll be more than enough for our family. On September 18, we took a train ride with our daughter and son-in-law from Staunton to Goshen VA. We had a wonderful ride and great meal on the train. It was quality time spent with the kids and good to get away from the farm for a day. Train station photo is at beginning of this post.
We’ve been checking on the bass and catfish ponds pretty frequently and happy with the results. We just hope we don’t have any poachers. We’re taking the fish bread and fish food on a weekly basis and now they look for us to bring them food.