Staycation and My Favorite Things About Summer

I am really not in to trendy words, or a trendy lifestyle for that matter, but I think the word staycation really does describe our summer recreation. In 2012 when my husband said he would like to vacation somewhere “where we could just sit on the beach with our dogs and relax,” I chuckled, “they don’t allow dogs on public beaches, honey. Why don’t we put in a pond with a beach,” I suggested.

We knew it would be costly to have a pond dug, but we agreed that the money we saved on vacations away from home would easily pay for the pond in a few years.

The farm has many other features that you might find at a campground in the country. We have a campsite/ picnic area with a fire pit for cooking or just sitting around a campfire in the evening. We have both field and wooded areas with paths for walking or riding the 4 wheeler. There are hundreds of species of wildlife that live on or visit the farm and it is a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. Thus we find it perfect for our staycation or summer recreation.

Our staycation is different than most as we do not have a week or two off from a job and cram all of these activities into that time period. Instead our recreational activities are interspersed throughout the day(s). It might be taking time out for an afternoon swim, spending an evening sitting around a campfire or inviting friends or family over for a day of fun. What I really love about our method of (v)(st)acation is that I don’t have to stress about it. We don’t have to make travel plans. We don’t have to do things according to schedule. We don’t have to pack what we think we will need for our time away. We don’t have to find people to take over our responsibilities at home (dogs and chickens) while we are away, and one of the most important parts for me is that I can sleep in my own bed at night.

With all that being said I wanted to share some of my favorite things about summer. They are not listed in any particular order; it is the combination of these things that make our summer enjoyable.

IMG_4115

Gardening – Planting, weeding, water, – there is something therapeutic about having our hands and knees in the dirt. The results of gardening are also very rewarding (see flowers and fresh produce below).

Riding the 4 Wheeler – A slow scenic tour around the farm, wielding my way though the winding paths through the woods or opening it up on the straight away, this is just pure fun!!!

IMG_4275

Swimming in the Pond – The best way to cool off in the heat of the day.

IMG_4127

Wildlife – The sights and sounds of wildlife create an environment that is peaceful and serene. While I am certainly not the best photographer I love trying to get photos of the wildlife. You can see more of the wildlife on our farm here.

IMG_4411

Flowers – No doubt they beautify their environment but there is so much more. You have probably heard the phrase “stop and smell the roses'”, well roses are not the only flower that deserve this recognition. By stopping and smelling, I have discovered that Canadian Thistle flowers have a sort of sweet scent and the Purple Irises have a spicy scent. This year I discovered that milk weed flowers have a pleasantly fresh fragrance.

While the flower may first draw my attention I will probably observe closely to see what type of foragers it may attract, and if I am not familiar with the plants I will likely try to identify it along with it’s potential usefulness.

Fresh Produce – We are currently picking and enjoying many fresh vegetables, among them are green beans, potatoes, Swiss chard, beets, carrots, celery and tomatoes. The flavors and textures of fresh picked produce simply can not be found in a grocery store. Even if you haven’t grown your own garden I encourage you to find fresh locally grown produce to enjoy this summer. Shop at a farmers market or a roadside farm stand and support your local farmer.

Campfires – Dinner always tastes better when cooked over a wood fire, and sitting around a campfire in the evening, listening to the frogs sing, and watching the moon and stars appear in the sky is far more entertaining than anything you may find on TV.

Visitors – This could be the elderly neighbors who dropped by Friday night for a tour of the barn and gardens; it could be the kids and grandkids coming to celebrate a holiday or a group as large as the family reunion we hosted last weekend. Regardless it is always a pleasure to share the farm with company.

Going Barefoot – Even though I put these in no particular order I did save my favorite for last. I love to take off my footwear and walk barefoot in the grass or on the beach.  According to this article there are many health benefits to going barefoot. I personally don’t care whether they are scientifically proven or not. Walking barefoot in the soft grass or digging my toes into the sand on the beach just feels good. While it feels good physically on the feet and has the potential to relieve other aches and pains, the emotional benefits are probably the greatest. I find walking barefoot to relieve stress – even more than that when I walk barefoot I feel young and carefree. It’s amazing that taking your shoes off can also take a load off your mind.

Now it’s your turn my friend. What are your favorite things about summer? How do you make time for them? When was the last time you stopped and smelled the roses or kicked off your shoes and connected with the earth? If it’s been awhile – I challenge you to make some time to do it this week. You won’t regret it.

Happy Summer! 🙂

 

 

 

Making Tomato Sauce

We recently began harvesting tomatoes and since I have so many new readers I thought it would be a good time to share this post from last October. Thanks for reading and have a great day 🙂

Don't Eat It! Soap and Skin Care

I have been asked several times by friends how I make tomato sauce and I usually answer “cook it, cook it, cook it, and when you think it is ready, cook it some more.” Making a thick tomato sauce takes lots of time.

There is, however, much to do before you get to the cooking part and that is what I want to address today. To start with there are many, many varieties of tomatoes and although I do like to start with a paste tomato, Amish paste or roma’s, you can use any type of tomatoes for making sauce. Along with Amish paste I use any tomatoes that are ripe and will not be eaten fresh in the next day or two. I will even throw cherry tomatoes into the mix rather than see them go to waste.

In addition to taking a lot of time to make tomato sauce it also takes a…

View original post 1,276 more words

From Peepers to Laying Hens – Right On Track

When we got our new chicks this past April I estimated it would be some time in August that they would start laying eggs. My estimate was based on our previous experience with Buff Orpingtons; they have pretty consistently started laying eggs at around 18 weeks of age.

Yesterday when my husband gave me the eggs he had collected I was thrilled to discover that the young ones (or at least one of them) had began laying.

If you are not familiar with raising chickens, you may be wondering how I concluded that the young ones were laying by just seeing the eggs. Nope – hens do not sign their eggs or even leave a trade mark. Without monitoring the nest boxes all day long we have no way of knowing who lays what eggs. (We don’t watch the nest boxes all day.)

But…

IMG_4407

when a hen first starts laying she lays mini-eggs, eggs that are much smaller than normal. In the photo above the smallest egg is from one peepers turned laying hen.

I suspect that it is one of our Buff Orpingtons who gave us this egg, because it is much like the mini eggs we have gotten from Buffs in the past, but the truth is we have never raised Austrolorps before so I am uncertain how soon to expect them to start laying or what their eggs will look like. Some of the other breeds we have raised have produced mini eggs that are much smaller than this one and when opened they only have a small dot of yolk while the rest is egg white. When opened this egg contained both yolk and white that were proportionate to a regular egg.

Today my husband brought home a second mini egg which makes me wonder if a second hen started laying or the same hen gave us small eggs two days in a row. I expect over the next few weeks we will have several mini eggs as all of the girls become regular with their laying.

It’s exciting that our “peepers” are growing up as we are counting on them to keep us in fresh eggs through the winter. 🙂

Thanks for reading. Until next time – be well.

A Recipe To Remember

I made a dish very similar to this last year, or perhaps it was even two years ago, when we had an abundance of banana peppers. I remember that we really enjoyed it, I just didn’t remember the exact recipe because I did not write it down. Last week when our neighbors sent over a bunch of banana peppers from their garden I decided to try it again. This time I am writing it down and sharing it with you as well.

I wasn’t sure what to call this and my first thought was stuffed banana peppers. That name reminded me too much of stuffed bell peppers but this really has no similarity. It is much closer to the jalapeno poppers that I love, so I decided to call it banana pepper poppers. Besides that is just fun to say. 🙂

* It is really not necessary to have the exact amount of any ingredient listed – a little more of this or a little less of that will not make a great difference. Feel free to add the word “about” in front of the amount of each ingredient.

Banana Pepper Poppers

8 Fresh Banana Peppers

4 oz. cream cheese softened

1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

2 or 3 jalapeno peppers

3 slices of bacon cooked crispy

bread crumbs

Slice the banana peppers in half long ways a remove seeds. Remove core and seeds from jalapeno peppers and chop them into small pieces. Chop bacon into small (bacon bit like) pieces. Mix cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, bacon bits and jalapeno peppers. Place banana pepper halves on baking sheet and fill each one with cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top of each pepper. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to thirty minutes.

ENJOY! 🙂

Nice Catch

Yesterday evening our youngest daughter, Lindell along with her beau Brycen, took some time out of their busy schedules to visit us at the farm. After dinner my husband, who has been wanting to do some fishing for some time now, dug some worms and he and Brycen, who had brought his own pole and tackle, went fishing.

Lindell and I sat by the campfire and chatted, not paying much attention to our fishermen until we heard somewhat of a commotion. My husband was coaching Brycen, “hold it, give it some line, do you have your drag set?” Lindell and I headed toward the pond knowing there must be a big fish on the line. I quickly doubled back to grab my camera but still arrived in time to capture some photos.

Whatever was on the end of that line was bending Brycen’s fishing rod and pulling the guys in the paddle boat. Realizing that they were not going to be able to lift this fish out of the water on that rod and line my husband decided to take the boat to the beach and pull the fish in from there. This took several attempts as the fish kept dragging the boat in the opposite direction.

IMG_4386

My husband and I suspected that he may have hooked one of the 12 to 15 inch walleye that we had caught last year.

 

but we were all surprised to see what he had actually caught was this monster.

 

IMG_4391 (2)

We knew that there were large catfish in the pond, but even using catfish bait we had yet to catch one. Brycen was fishing with just a worm on a small hook. It was a clean catch hooked perfectly into the corner of the mouth. Since we were not prepared to skin a catfish this guy did not become tonight’s dinner but was released back into the pond.

I am so glad I had my camera so this did not become just another “big fish” story.

Nice catch Brycen!!! 🙂