Buried

IMG_6274We have been buried by snow. All activities have ceased for over 2 weeks. Does Tn even have any snow plows? A tractor and grader came by to do our road. About a week after the first snow fall. What a cozy time we have had! Our dining room has been transformed into a locker room of snow pants, hats, mittens, wet boots, and scarves. The kids have inflated inner-tubes and have been pulled around by the 4 wheeler and have been careening down hills. IMG_6286Even Roo got to dress up and go out. Snow men, snow cream, snow forts!! I am a little bit of a control freak when it comes to dressing for the great outdoors. Make sure you have gone potty! Tuck your shirt into your pants! Socks over the legs of your pants! Pant legs tucked into the boots! Coat sleeves over the mittens! Scarves tied in the back! It was an ordeal getting all the littles out the door. But they had so much fun. And it may be years before we see this much snow again.IMG_6258

Speaking at the banquet

IMG_6137Every year the Farm Bureau of Tennessee sponsors a banquet for the outstanding members of the 4H group. Awards are given, speeches made, honors bestowed. This year, Mia was asked to speak, honoring the community volunteers that make all the 4H programs possible.IMG_6130 She did a fantastic job. I think this public speaking stretched her out of her comfort zone a bit. But she was quite composed and eloquent :) The other kids did win some awards and it was a great evening of seeing all the accomplishments of the other 4Hers. IMG_6138

Goo-Goo Gaa-Gaa

IMG_6164One of our favorite activities at Family Camp is playing Ga-Ga ball. I could lose the kids for hours while they played. It is fun for dads, big kids and little kids. It’s fun for boys and girls alike. We have had a heated debate whether skirts add an advantage or disadvantage. In our continued effort to turn our homestead into a theme park, we have added a new ga-ga ball pit to our list of attractions. It is built into the hillside, with a packed sand floor for now. Already it has provided countless hours of fun on the farm. We believe in working hard, followed by playing hard!IMG_6182

A little slip

There are many different ways to grow sweet potatoe slips. But the easiest way is to buy them from the store. Last year I tried to grow them in jars of water. Nothing. So I ended up buying them from the farmer’s co-op. After the abundant harvest last fall, I was inspired to start my own slips this year. Hopefully successfully. I used the smallest of the ones that I harvested from the garden. Tommy filled this rubbermaid half full with uncomposted, fresh horse manure. Then he added a layer of sand. After getting the sand moist, I pressed in a layer of sweet potatoes and covered with more moist sand. The hot manure will keep the sand nice and warm. Hopefully in a few weeks I’ll have some slips to start rooting in water. Will keep you updated. I know you are all dying to know if this method works. IMG_6204

to bear fruit

Before

Before

One must be pruned. It hurts. It’s scary. It’s an art. But it brings about more fruit. More growth. Stronger branches. A healthier harvest. The trees in the orchard look naked now. I’m praying for abundant spring growth and an overwhelming fall harvest.

Before

Before

Anyone who knows how I cut hair (an inch, you say?) will chuckle when they see how much I took off these trees. But the Japanese say you are supposed to be able to throw a cat through the branches. That’s what to keep in mind as you prune.IMG_6195 No upward shoots. No crossing branches. Make the tree work for you. Decide how you want it to look and cut accordingly.

Much better

Much better

I want my branches all stretching out to the side. Not up. Hanging down low to the ground with the weight of the fruit, making for easy picking by the kids.

One of my many helpers

One of my many helpers

So I cut a LOT out of the middle and a LOT off the tops of the trees. They look much better, don’t you think?IMG_6202“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:2

From Albuquerque, with love

IMG_6108These dried, red chile peppers came all the way across the country. Now that’s some love, I tell ya. We have friends that are native to the southwest and miss the red chile sauce that is everywhere down there. Chile. Not to be confused with chili. So, these little beauties trekked all the way across the desert to enhance the eating experience in Kentucky and Tennessee. Wow. I am so glad they did. This red sauce is not like anything I’ve tasted before. Smooth. Rich. A little heat. Flavor. So this is how to make it.IMG_6101Soak the dried peppers in hot water for just a few minutes, maybe 15-20 minutes. Then put the softened peppers in the blender with a bit of water. After blending til smooth, run the paste through the food mill. This gets out any seeds and skins. Now this delicious red concentrate is ready for the freezer or to be made into gravy. IMG_6113 - CopyTo make it into a gravy, add about 1 cup to a roux. A roux is a mixture of flour and fat. You can make a roux with butter, lard, bacon grease, shortening, etc. Mix in some cumin, oregano, salt and garlic powder. Add about 1 cup of water to this mixture and now pour it over enchiladas, over eggs, over potatoes, over chips, over anything you can think of. After mixing up this sauce with a friend I was sent home with a container of this red gold and a package of chile seeds. So if I can grow them in the garden we will have a never ending supply of yumminess. IMG_6103

After the chile lesson, we switched roles and had an informal soap class. A fun morning of learning new things closing with a delicious meal of homemade enchildads smothered in chile sauce! IMG_6080