Applesauce

I’ve made jam many times before, but I’ve never actually made applesauce before….I know, I know, that is crazy!  I went apple picking with friends at a local orchard. I had all these beautiful apples and I knew we wouldn’t eat them all before they went bad, so I decided to take the not so scary plunge from jams to applesauce. The internet is a blur of different choices. Different recipes and techniques are abundent.

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I settled on a recipe for applesauce in a crock pot.  I love my crock pot!!  I’ve had it for 7 years and it hasn’t let me down yet!  So I peeled/cored with my trusty apple peeler/corer and then I set the crock pot and walked away. Later that day I canned it and now I have four beautiful jars of homemade applesauce! It was so nice to not have all the work to do all at once or stand in front of a stove cooking apples all day.  I HIGHLY recommend making applesauce with this method.  I could even have let the apples cook longer and ended up with apple butter! Don’t be afraid to try new things friends!  It leads to beautiful, delicious results.

I’ve had my apple peeler for years, but I want to upgrade to one of these bad boys! UPDATE: Hubster bought me one for my birthday and it got quite the test run making pies for the holidays and I have to say I LOVE IT!!

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Here’s my favorite canning equipment, I always use Ball Mason jars and rings that I use and reuse, but I always use new lids.

**This post contains Amazon affiliate links.  When you click, you help support future blog posts, where all of the opinions I express are my own and I am not paid for them**

 

Getting Cleaned Up

This is a farm friends, and the work is literally never done here. We’ve been here for a year and we’ve been so busy with big projects that there is a lot of little things that have fallen through the cracks lately. We are taken the next few weeks to get a little cleaned up around here. Ted and I are on skid loader duty:

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And Hubster, Jackson, and T are cleaning up the brush pile, getting it ready to burn later this fall. (you need a burn permit in our district for this, obtained from the county health and human services department)

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We are also working on building a small run-in shed on skids to use for extra shelter this winter. We are using extra materials from our large shed. It’s both practical and pretty since it’s saving us money, and it also matches our shed.  Mmm oh I love things like that.  I SAVE money, AND it looks pretty!?!?!

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And then, just for fun, here’s a picture of Jerry, our kitten, deciding if it’s worth it to jump in the tub with the boys and get wet, but get to play with the fun toys in there.

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Patio

We’ve been in our house just shy of a year now, and we have had a really hard time growing grass directly behind our house. It gets a lot of foot traffic and the kids play in the dirt there. I have been wanting to do something about it for ages.  This past winter, we bought 500 sq. ft. of brick pavers in a big sale. The store has a big sale each year where they sell off all of the extras from other large projects at a big discount.  I didn’t care if all of the bricks matched because I wanted the patio to look old and weathered.  We also had a big load of stone dust delivered for a base. We rented the tamper and paver saw from a local tool rental place for two days.

A friend of mine’s husband is a structural engineer and was able to help us level the site. we used 1″ PVC pipes at regular intervals to keep the depth of the stone dust even. We tamped down the first layer, and then did it again.  With two inches of level stone dust, we started to lay bricks. We were just initially just laying them down, but soon realized that was not going to be very even and would leave us with a lot of strange, uneven cuts at the end.  So we then used a piece of twine line to stay more straight from then on.

Not too shabby for one weekends work. Next weekend we plan to add the sand in-between the bricks and plant some grass seed where we tore up the ground.

We also used our leftover bricks to make some sweet mini-pads by the front steps of the front porch, and the side hose bib.

 

Here Guinea, Guinea, Guinea

Here at BlueLand Farm we have introduced a new animal to the mix and I am so excited about it!!  We bought some guineas!!! Guinea Hen Keets to be exact, Keet is the term for the babies.  Guineas are an African game hen, we call them our African Attack Chickens!

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They have faces that only a mother can love, and what I mean is that they are so comical looking they end up being actually quite cute.  They make a TON of noise pretty much all the time, and they are very bossy about who comes up the driveway.  Why get these creatures then you may ask? One word, TICKS! These little creatures eat ticks like it’s thier lot in life, which is fitting, because here at BlueLand Farm, that is their lot in life!!

And I have to be raising some kind of baby fowl, it’s one of my favorite thing to do in the spring.  We got them in the end of July, so there wasn’t much to be worried about as far as keeping them warm, so we started them outside (Also, guineas are super hearty).  So we set up “Keet TV”.  A dog crate that I lined with hardware cloth to prevent tiny escapes and then added a mama heating pad.

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Mama heating pad is my preferred method for raising chicks for two reasons: it uses less electricity than the big warming lights and it is more natural that those big bright bulbs!. The chicks are exposed to light and dark as they would be normally and feather up a lot faster.  This makes them ready to go out of the brooder faster too!  There are several ways to accomplish this.  You can purchase one of the fancy ones like this one from Premier 1. These are convenient because they are easier to clean and change height for you growing chicks.  Or if you are more of a do-it-yourselfer like me, you can build one! I just used a sturdy metal form (I used a leftover piece of hog panel) draped with a heating pad and towel.  Just make sure that the heating pad doesn’t have an automatic auto off feature.  I use this one because it is cheap, the cover is washable, and I like that the indicator light is a quick way to check if it’s on or not.  You want to check that it is still warm at least twice a day.

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The keets grew quickly and we are just finished coop training them.  We had an extra empty chicken coop so I put all the keets in there for three weeks to let them get used to it.  Then I let out half of them at a time to wander around.  They are very flock bound and won’t wander too far from their buddies that are still locked up.  Every night we closed them in.  After another month of this, I swung open up the coop door an them them all out to roam.  I haven’t closed the door since then and they all come back every night to roost in the coop!  No one has been taken by predators or wandered too far!

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Questions about Guineas, mama heating pads, or farm life in general? Post them below!!

**This post contains Amazon affiliate links.  When you click, you help support future blog posts, where all of the opinions I express are my own and I am not paid for them**

I’m Still on the Fence About this Post

I have to say, I am honestly still on the fence about this post. Hubster and I recently bought a farm. And I use the term farm loosely, because it was just bare crop land when we bought it and we built everything that is now here, making it a farm. Including, but not limited to a total of 5,000 feet of fencing to keep our sheep and other critters from gettin’ loose and running a muck like Christmas shoppers on Black Friday. How does one go about putting in 5,000 feet of fence you might ask? I’m not sure, if and when I ever discover a good method, I’ll let you know. So far it’s just been a lot of long weekends and late nights of just ridiculously hard work, over and over again, without any discernible progress being made. Every time we think we are done, there’s a step we still have to finish. I took a photo of me hugging a post, intent on making a cutesy “I love this post” meme. But honestly, I’m so tired from putting the fence in, that I just can’t do it. I also feel like it would be a fib. Because I don’t love that post, nor do I love any of the other 349 some odd posts that we drove this past winter.

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We have driven posts in cold weather, in snowy weather, in rainy weather, in hot weather. Oh, I felt like green eggs and ham just then….I do not like posts in the rain, I do not like them, they are a pain. So much in fact, I’d rather not do them again. Then after the posts are all driven in, we stretch the fence so it’s nice and tight. Then comes the hammering. This is the kind of work that makes you need a shoulder replacement after you’re all done. Each post needed between 6 and 12 staples to keep the wire securely attached. Thats…..350ish times 6 to 12ish, cross multiply, carry the 5…..equals…..a lot of flippin’ staples. So if anyone wants to know why Quasimoto has a giant hump on his back, it’s because he was probably putting in a lot of fence in his youth.

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Maybe this is a good time to mention how much help Hubster and I actually had in order to take on this massive project. Both our parents stepped up big time, my pal Amy’s daughters provided much needed babysitters, Hubster’s siblings helped when they could. But the most selfless slave laborer was undoubtedly my best good friend “T”. She worked harder than anyone else to help us get this fence up. Even the rain did not deter her. For all of them I will be truly grateful and not completely able to fully repay. So thanks guys! You are all the bomb dot com.

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