Sunday, September 25, 2011

Progress on Shed

The weather is cool and cloudy gray today. We've experienced a few sprinkles, enough my husband was concerned and started working on the shed, to protect our tools. My son joined in to help. They put the roof on, shelves, the back, and hinges for the doors.

They still have to hang doors, finish the shelving and trim. Plus there will be all the organizing of stuff. Which I believe will be delegated to assist with.

He asked me what color I would like to paint it? My husband's way of saying he doesn't like to paint and it's my job to do the painting. What color would you suggest?

Working hard and hardly working.
Son putting on roof, husband taking a break to watch chickens.  

My Sunday Canning Project in Steps and Pics

It is Sunday.  I went to church then came home to attempt to put a dent in all the peaches I picked. This is my second time of canning more of them. I've found canning is time consuming and laborious. I tried to develop a system this time to make it a little easier. I believe I did.

My first peach canning adventure, I canned seven quarts and 1 pint. It took four and a half hours. This time I've canned ten quarts in about three and a half hours. Progress! Still a lot of work though, I think I need a nap.

Here are the steps I used for canning this time;

  1. Gather all equipment: bowls, pots with lids, large spoons, canning funnel, jars, lids and bands, butter knife, pot holders, quilt, jar grabber, measuring spoon, and food ingredients.
  2. Wash jars, lids and bands.
  3.  Place jars in water bath canning pot, note how many can fit.
  4.  Boil jars to sterilize them.
  5. Mix your sugar and water in a pot to make your syrup. I used a medium syrup consisint of 4 cups of water and 3 cups of sugar. Simmer until mixture is clear. Set to the side.
  6.  Mix 2 tablespoons of lemon juice into 4 cups of water. This solution will prevent peaches from turning brown. 
  7. Wash peaches, cut in half lengthwise (this will make peeling easier).
  8. Boil water in large pot.
  9. Place cut peaches in pot and blanche for one minute.
  10. Remove and spread out on clean surface i.e. towel, cookie sheet.
  11. Peel peaches and remove seeds. 
  12. Place peaches in lemon water.
  13. Remove peaches from lemon water and rinse with fresh water.
  14. Place peaches in hot syrup. Simmer for 2 minutes.
  15. Have jars ready, place peaches in jars using funnel to avoid dropping peaches. Leave 1/2 inch head room.
  16. Pour syrup in jar to 1/2 inch headroom. 
  17. Take butter knife or small spatula and insert between jars and peaches, moving knife gently around the inside of the jar. This will decrease air bubbles. 
  18. Place lid and bands on jar. 
  19. Place jars in water bath canning for set amount of time, determined by size of jars and elevation of where you live. I live over 4000 feet above sea level and used quart jars. My process time for my peaches was 70 minutes. I usually leave them in another 5 minutes for safety. 
  20. After alotted time, remove jars and place where they will not be distrubed, to finish process. I place mine in a quilt to keep them warm a little longer.
  21. Once they are sealed (the center of the lid is no longer elevated) label and shelf them.
  22. Give as gifts or use for your family consumption.
Using a step by step system made it easier and more enjoyable this time to can. I'm looking forward to canning the rest of my fruit, to enjoy this winter.

Sterilze jars. 
Sugar and water for syrup. 
Lemon water. 
Wash peaches  and cut in half lengthwise.
Blanche, lay out to cool for peeling. 
After peeling place in lemon juice, then rinse with fresh water.
Place peaches in syrup to simmer 2 minutes 
Put the peaches in jars, add syrup, use butter knife to get rid of air bubbles.
Apply lids and bands. 
Process in water bath canner for appropriate time. 
After water bath, place to the side undisturbed to allow sealing
After sealed and cooled, label and shelf. 

Still Canning

I'm still canning, trying to put up our harvest. There is just so much this year. I'm not complaining, just running out of time to do all the work. Besides all the fruit I have picked, I still have apples and peaches on the trees. Fortunately many of my peaches are still a little green. They weren't getting enough sun to ripen on the trees. They are now going to sit in the sun and ripen for a few days on my tables. This will allow me time to put up other fruits.

Ripe and unripe peaches to can. 
Apples to pick and dry.  
Shaded unripe peach.  
Ripe peaches.
1st canned peaches. I canned 7 quarts and 1 pint.

Male Dominance

Every morning our chickens and turkeys rush out of the coop. It's like watching a mini-stampede; all the feathers fluttering and little legs running. And, every morning after the stampede our male turkey shows his dominance; or what he thinks is his dominance.

King of the chicken yard. 
Scary fellow.  Look at that blue face. 
He first fans his tail feathers, puffs up his back feathers and begins dropping his wing tips to the ground, all in an effort to enlarge his size. He draws back his head and holds his breathe, turning blue, attempting to give a mean look. It is quite the show. The only problem, the chickens and other turkeys don't care. They go about their business scratching and even turning their heads and walking away from him.

Back end of white turkey walking away from his dominance.  
Chickens too busy scratching to care about turkey dominance. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Clean Up

The day has finally come! We are taking off the old shed and tree branches which have cluttered our yard for a few weeks now. I'm excited! The joyous thoughts of not having to look at all the stuff and having my yard back is exhilarating.

My husband, son and our friend Ryan did the honor of loading and hauling the stuff off. It was a lot of work: sorting stuff, loading the truck, strapping down the load, unloading at the dump and all the clean up of the little pieces afterwards. I'm thankful for the hardworking, strong men in my life.

1st load. Chris my son in front, Ryan in back of him.
Project wood stacked to the side to make room for loading. 
Maxine on left, Spot on right, our ducks, staying out of the way. 
Cleaning up small pieces of twigs and old fruit. 
All cleaned up. 
My son thrilled to be doing a dump run and not sleeping in. 

Change in Project Plans

My husband is very talented, not only in graphic design but with wood also. Over the last three years he has built multiple things and began work on other projects still unfinished. You can read and view his projects here and here. All the projects have been necessary for making our home fit our lifestyle.

But as many know, even the best laid plans have to change sometimes. Concepts for several of the unfinished plans ended up changing and other uses have been found for them. Our sick bay for injured animals now houses building supplies, one of our sheds has been tore down and replaced with a larger shed, a partially finished pole barn was dismantled, our duck pond was dug up, tree stumps dug out, parts of the backyard leveled and the chicken house built last year is currently being dismantled, the materials being used for a new, much larger chicken house.

The stumps needed to go of course. They were taking up space and I was tripping over some of them. Our sick bay will go back to its intended use at a later date. The yard needed leveling because of an old raised strawberry bed and other uneven areas causing safety concerns. The chicken house is not big enough for our mixed flock; the ducks at present can't fit in there at night and winter is coming.

The shed and duck pond were a shock to me. I went away for the weekend with my son to a concert and came back to a demolished shed and dismantled pole barn, with a new shed  in the process of being built.

A friend of my husband who owns a local nursery, came to visit one day while I was away and inspected our duck pond. Her advice; rip it out and start over.

It has taken me a while to get used to all the changes. But I've come to accept them, and will be thankful when all is finished.

Old shed.
New shed, left side. 
New shed, right side. 
New shed, front view.
Site for new chicken house.
Old site of duck pond. Not sure of new location yet. 
Ducks don't seem to care about the pond. They like the shade and peaches.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tree Care Time

Our Peach Trees have such an abundance of fruit this year, limbs have snapped from the weight. Tomorrow I plan on asking my husband to cut the broken limbs off and I will apply Tree Tar.

Tree Tar is a product which is supposed to assist in protecting injured trees from disease and rot. I've found there is differing opinions about the product. My husband believes it is necessary to use the tar for the tree to survive, others believe the tar blocks in bacteria and insects causing damage.

I noted the previous owners used a form of tar on one of the plum trees. The tree is still alive and thriving well.  My husband trimmed our apricot and our second plum tree earlier this season and applied the tar. No problems noted to date.

Full view of Peach Tree.
Close up of one of three broken branches. 
Have you used Tree Tar? What where your results?

Frugal Friday Picture

Line drying is one of my favorite frugal activities. It doesn't only save money but provides me with another excuse to get outside away from the inside chores.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Busy Canning Season

I had so much fruit this year, I've been canning and drying as much as I possibly can. It is a time-consuming and overwhelming job. When the amount of fruit is more then I can process, I give it away to friends, family and our local homeless shelter. I hate for the fruit to spoil if someone else can use it.

At present I've canned and dried; 25 jelly jars of plum syrup (I was trying for jam), 7 pints of pears in light syrup, 2 quarts of dried cherries, 19 jars of cherry jam, 1 1/2 pints of dried apples and I'm not done yet. I still have a small amount of plums and apples on the trees. The peaches on one of my trees are ready and about 1/2 have been picked. The other peaches on the second peach tree are still too green.

Today I plan on drying apples and preparing for canning peaches; hopefully I'll have enough time to can part of my peach harvest today. I like canned peaches best out of all my fruit and look forward to the end product.

The light syrup recipe I used for my pears is: 4 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar. I'll be using a medium  syrup for my peaches. The recipe is: 4 cups of water and 3 cups of sugar. I haven't used these recipes before, but I will write a review later on how well they worked.

My first batch of dried cherries I attempted in the oven. The dryness of the fruit varied and a small portion burned. The cherries I dried in my new dehydrator came out perfect. But it took about 18 hours for them to dry.

The plum syrup was my first attempt at plum jam. I looked up several recipes and none had suggested pectin. I just put the plums in a pot with sugar on the stove to cook, as suggested. After a few minutes of cooking, I  blended, put the mix in jars and canned them. And ta da, syrup. Tastes sweet with just a hint of plum tartness.

I haven't tried the pears yet. The apples turned out wonderful. Sweet and slightly chewy. I dried them in the dehydrator for about 8 hours.

To prevent my pears and apples from browning, I soaked them separately in a solution of 1 quart water and 2 tbsp lemon juice. The pears didn't brown. The apples only have a light browning on a few of the slices.

The labels are designed and printed by my husband who is a graphic designer. He wanted my jars to look pretty for gift giving.

Cherry Jam
Plum Syrup
Dried Apples
Canned Pears
Dried Cherries
Finished products
Apples to dry. 
Peaches to can. 
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