Pioneer Woman at Heart

One Flourishing, Frugal and Fun Family!

One family learning to live off the land, cut back on expenses, and to live a simpler and a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

Adopted Motto

"Eat it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do,
Or go without."
~A Pioneer Sampler, by Barbara Greenwood~

Friday, May 31, 2019

Random Tidbits

Wed. night Hubby, tired as he was tilled a small bit of the garden for me (for potatoes).  I yanked out one section of last year's plastic we had down for peppers, but left the rest in.  It's too wet to work in.

(That's puddle of water, and it's way too wet to till)

It's saturated in most parts yet.  We were to get rain all night, and did not thankfully.  Rain was 80% at 6am Thursday morning, but quickly changed to 50% at 7am.  Then it stopped early. 

Although it was a muddy mess, I planted 17# of red and white potatoes (90 starts).   Took a break, and headed back out to plant 53 sweet potato slips but only had room for 26.  I managed to plant a row of radishes too.  

We are really hurting in our area, farmers included.  Not one farmer has been in their fields this year other than to do soil tests.  Organic farmers may be having the same issue.

Our plan is to take it one day at a time, and then decide what's to be planted.  We will attempt fall planting of radishes, kale etc.  If I can manage it by myself, I plan to pull the pea fence and roll it up until fall.  It'd make tilling a bit easier since we can't plant any pea type at all now.

The weather changes by the hour, so it's hit or miss this year.

Allergies are at their worst ever this year.  I've relied on nettle for years, but I'm now mixing it up with mullien.   I'm also using oregano oil this year.   The diffuser is going at night, but that means turning off my dehumidifier and it's still raining here.

Goldenrod is not in season yet, and I don't have horehound.  If you have a tea remedy that works better, please share.

To relieve sinus pressure I did some essential oil steams the other day too.  I also decided to take my worries away with a long hot soak in the tub with essential oils.

I'll be looking through my herbal recipe books to see if I can find another tea alternative.  If there is nothing new in my own books, I'll be ordering some from the library.

Aurora gifted me an early morning treat on the porch.  Then proceeded to play with it, to the point I had to switch rockers for her to have more room.  Good kitty, but on the porch?  Really?

I was chilling on the front porch with a wine slushy, when I saw something move out in the field across from us.

I then remembered my chickens were out in their run, and ran out there to check.  Whew.  All accounted for, but not the barn cat. Found her later.

Just before that, our biker friend arrived to mow.  No mower.  Grr.  He has plans on Friday, and it's the only dry day for a while.  

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Changing Plans ~ Weather Crisis

Horrible thunderstorms woke us up Tuesday morning, and later I found out there were tornadoes that touched down within an hour of us.

Youngest started her internship, and with the rain constant along with Hubby's work schedule, it's been indoor work for the most part.  

I broke down, did some research, and ordered us some reusable potato grow bags.  I just need to get the dirt and give an update on that.  I could not find one person with experience or a resource for bags, so I went with what my out research did.  It can't hurt at this point, as we are as desperate and desperate can be.

I sort of have a plan for the 54 jalapeno plants, but not for the 54 plus green pepper plants.

Rats chewed another hole in the chicken coop.  We patched that and built a rat trap, but noticed a crack in the bottom of my 5 gallon bucket.  We'll buy a new one and reset it.

As for the ants in the herb garden, I sprinkled grits on the hill.  So far, no ants.  You just need a dry day to do it, so they eat it.  Not sure on my weed killer yet.  No good dry days to use it.

Of course we got more rain, and major storms were in the forecast.  Thankfully most went past us giving us less rain.

Wednesday morning it was calm with no rain, but still in the forecast.

I made a sausage and kale millet skillet (recipe is online, but with ham and cheese), considering I couldn't do a thing outside.  The humidity is bad here too.  So bad, I have sinus issues and have been downing tinctures and teas to relieve the pressure.  When that failed to do it's job, I remembered a trick my Dad taught me a long time ago - add one drop of oregano oil (talk to your health store professional) to a teabag and make hot tea.  Worked like a charm.

I'm also having to run our dehumidifier and empty it often.  So this means no painting of anything either.   When I first turned on the dehumidifier it read my bedroom was 85% humidity.  windows in the kitchen and front room have been closed for that reason.

Which leaves me to cleaning.   Cleaning, organizing, and it's driving us all mad.  The rain that is.  We are all literally in bad moods.  The rain has made our "can't do" list so long it's frustrating and downright maddening.  We are all grouches and argue a lot lately.  Hubby's work schedule is also draining him and the rest of us, also adding to the "can't do" list.

The old truck is still broke down, one daughter's car remains in the driveway broke down, the septic not dug, bathroom remodel halted, chimney not swept, garden not tilled nor planted......

On top of that, we kind hearted people let one nephew borrow our mower for his house lot, where we have 6 acres.  He borrowed it Monday morning, and we even had a cookout there the same day, and I don't remember seeing the mower there.   He wasn't answering his phone either.  We only have short windows of opportunities (mostly dry times when Hubby's at work) to mow our own grass.  I have a biker friend we can hire to help me, but we can't do it without our mower.  The mower was to be returned last night, but they never showed up, so mowing didn't happen.  We are pretty upset considering we actually got in touch with them too.

We also went out of our way to locate hay for the nephew's horse.  It's very difficult to find right now, and with the rainfall there is a huge shortage.  The friend was willing to sell a few bales and as of we know, he hasn't gone to pick it up.

If by luck, you may see a "gratitude" post soon, just to try and shift my thinking lately.  It's been pretty depressing.

We didn't get too much rain on Wed. but we will get buckets of it again today (if the weather man is right).  I really, really need to find my "happy" place again.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Rhubarb Vodka

Rhubarb is in season now.  Guess what concoction I made?  Well, the title of this blog sort of gave it away, ha ha!  I created rhubarb vodka.

You can find the recipe online just about anywhere.  I used the recipe from BBC recipes online, adapted with homegrown and organic ingredients.  

Rhubarb Vodka
·         1¾ pints (3 1/2 cups) organic vodka
·         2 stalks of homegrown rhubarb
          3 Tbsp sugar
·         Lemon zest from half of one organic lemon or homegrown
·         3 organic whole cloves
·         1 organic cinnamon stick

(right after adding the sugar - shake it up when you sprinkle it on the rhubarb)

1. I used my food processor to chop up the rhubarb, then placed it in a canning jar with sugar, screwed on a lid left it sit overnight.  I also put it in the refrigerator.  Note:  smaller pieces will macerate faster than larger pieces.

2. I then added the cloves, cinnamon and zest and poured in the vodka.

3 Leave the jar in a cool dark place for 3 weeks, and shake daily.

Strain using a cheesecloth.
Bottle and wait 3 months before drinking.
Shake daily.

What can you make with it?  Well, you can make Rhubarb Mimosa.  

You can also make a rhubarb martini, rhubarb fizz cocktail, rhubarb cosmopolitan, rhubarb vodka sour, and many other mixed drinks with it.  I wanted to give this a try to see if it's gift worthy or not.  Or just plain good.

Note:  Ingredients will not fit in a quart jar.  I used a larger one, but could have tripled it in it too.  We will do a taste test first, and then decide if it's gift worthy.

Note:  Each time I bake/cook with lemons, I take off the zest and put it in the freezer for cooking/baking and now boozy recipes.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

It's Bad....just Bad.

We got massive amounts of rain.  Sadly, we will not be planting popcorn, squash of any kind, beets, carrots, cucumbers, greens and more.  We may not even be able to get the sweet potatoes, potatoes or green beans in either.  No way to till, and more rain in the forecast.  It's going to be our biggest loss ever.  Almost makes me want to cry, but there is nothing we can do about it right now.

I could buy buckets for the potatoes, but the cost for them and dirt would out way having to buy them.   The fate of our 100 plus pepper plants has yet to be decided.

It rained all night and it's raining this morning, and rain all day again tomorrow.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

The Battle of Planting Saga Continues

Youngest and I spent about an hour on the porch Fri. night waiting on Hubby to arrive home.  We read books and watched all the motorcycles go by (Bike Week). Hubby had good intentions to till, but it didn't happen.  Again.

We also watched about 7 deer come out of the woods across the street.  One doe and a lot of young bucks.

I got two more tomato plants in the tomato garden Saturday morning - making the total up to 70 plants so far.  I also put down 453# of mulch down in the flower beds, but need more.  By 11am, they downgraded the storm, and had only 45% of rain.  

I've been asked, "what do you do with all of them?"

Tomato sauce
Pizza sauce
BBQ sauce
Taco Sauce
Tomato soup
Tomato paste
Crushed tomatoes
Frozen tomatoes
Dehydrated tomatoes (soups, crackers etc.)
Green tomato salsa
Green tomato chutney
Fresh tomatoes to eat
Baked stuffed tomatoes for dinner
...there's probably a lot I'm forgetting too.

I had mulch to dump in the flower beds, because the tilling was not yet done.  We really need a new one, 'cause it's older and tricky to run, so Hubby does it vs. me.  Anyway, the mulch that I had was put in the beds.  To get him to till, with his work schedule and the rain, it's been a HUGE battle to plant the garden.  I'm doing it on my own this year.  I do plan to call out to the kids for help, and those who do will get fed well.  Hubby is tilling, I'm planting.  And it's not a small garden.

I have over 54 jalapenos and over 54 green bell pepper plants waiting to be planted.  Of course the rest of the garden too.

Why so many jalapenos?
-cowboy candy (takes a lot to make)
-frozen jalapenos
-fire powder (dehydrated hot peppers)
-hot pepper relish

Speaking of hot pepper relish, not one of my hot banana pepper seeds sprouted that I saved last year.  I will be searching for them in produce stands this summer.

Why so many bell peppers?
I have great intentions to get some stuffed bell peppers in the freezer, some diced and sliced for freezing, and I need some for salsa and other recipes and canning recipes.  It's great for dipping fresh into hummus too.

However....rain arrived.  Storms, and lots of rain.  I left the last year's black plastic out in the veggie garden in, in hopes it would help keep those rows dry.  Right now there is a chance for tilling and planting, but no motorcycle ride to bike week events.  Rain all day in that city, but off and on here.  I guess we'll see.

Oh, and Hubby has mentioned his work schedule of working 6 - 10 hour days will continue for a few more weeks or more.  Yeah, I'm cringing.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Homesteader Homemaker Happenings

(old photo, but this one is back in it's home for the garden season)

First, welcome to my new followers.  I hope you are enjoying my blog, where posts are reality (the good and the bad), and photos are never staged.

Good Golly!  We are so low on our stock of greens.  I may have to buy some until my seeds are planted.  Don't want to, but we need our greens.

Thursday night my "till man" was too tired to till.  Shoot.  Couldn't plant the potatoes and popcorn.  Dang it.  He was too tired to weed whack my raised beds.  Couldn't plant my greens.  Dang it.

However, I tended to the herb garden and worked outside for 3 early hours, starting at 7am.  Daughter had a friend over, and all the kids slept in while I worked.  Even Jesse was caught snoring.

I thinned my over grown lemon balm.  Got my rosemary, basil, parsley and cilantro planted.  I'm not replanting lavender.  It is so tricky to start from seed and the stuff in stores is not the real deal.

My chives are already going to seed.  Oh my.  So are a few of my green onions, which had hoped for.  My chives are looking much better this year, so I may make chive oil for cooking.

I planted the very last 4 flowers in the flower bed.  Got out my solar garden light, flipped one rain barrel, and remembered to fill it with enough water to avoid the wind knocking it down. 

I showered and had hoped to put bedding on the line, but it seriously looked like rain.  I did, and it dried thankfully (even though we got sprinkles).

I filled the dehydrator with lemon balm, and my kitchen smelled so good.  I'd have also made a tincture but I didn't have any vodka on hand.  I'll just wait for the over flow of lemon balm later this summer and make it then I guess.

I decided to go to town for two garden hoses I very much needed.  The boys cut my hose in half when they plowed over winter (never got to putting it away for winter - my bad).  One hose was just a hot mess - end broken off.  Hubby "MacGyvered" it, and it just kept causing me trouble.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Homemade Tick Repellent ~ More Rain ~ Garden Progress

I'm betting my hens are getting coop fever, with all this rain and wind.  Most likely stir crazy at this point.  We haven't had much of a day for them to free range lately.

Started my day making homemade condensed mushroom soup.  There is nothing better than homemade.  I made another for the freezer.  The first "can" went on top of pork chops in the crock pot.

Thursday morning we had a major storm roll through.  More rain is not a good thing at this point.  It's just downright bad.  I prayed my planted tomatoes made it through and went out after the storm let up to check.  

The wind was so bad, it took out power in several counties, and took down many trees, limbs, utility poles and more.  One daughter of mine is lucky it moved through our area quickly.  She had a bonfire out back with friends, and left all her stuff, plus all my furniture including seat cushions.  Nothing blew away, but my weed garden bucket, which I retrieved.  

I haven't had a break in the day to flip my rain barrels.  Probably a good thing, as they'd be over flowing anyway.

We will not be planting any peas this spring.  Not one type.  I will try to fall plant them weather permitting.  

I got 3 pots of zinnias started, and my spearmint replanted.  I planted mullein and comfrey in two different pots as well, and replanted the peppermint.  I'm not counting on time to get my raised be built in time to plant my "weed" garden, so it's back up plants for us.  I also planted the arnica, feverfew and yarrow.

Woohoo!  I got 68 tomato plants planted so far, but Saturday they are calling for bad storms again. Praying they all make it.  They are saying hail and tornadoes.  I hope they are wrong.  Now I need my overworked "till man" to till more so I can get the rest in.  He's working 6 - 10 hour days again, and may even have to work Monday.

It's Ohio Bike week right now, and the only day off, they are calling for rain.  We may not make it this year on the Harley.

I'm tempted to purchase catnip seeds, as my potted plant is not that big this year.  I will first check the barns for it, before spending the money.

Got a text while out in the garden.  She wanted to buy this pair of baby booties.  Shipped them the same day, to take a break from the garden.

Tick-Repelling Oil

(for adults, dogs, and children older than 5 - otherwise they recommend using a gentle rose geranium hydrosol)

2 oz. jojoba oil
20 drops geranium essential oil
10 drops lavender essential oil

Combine all ingredients, place in small bottle and label. To use: Before going outdoors, apply this oil to any exposed skin. For dogs, place a few drops on your hands and then gently smooth the oil over the coat. If you prefer spray, substitute 2 oz. of distilled water for the jojoba oil, and place all ingredients in a small spray bottle. Spritz over your hair, clothing and skin. Repeat as necessary. 

I have also read just using 1 part tea tree oil and 2 parts water for a spray, but haven't tried it yet.  I prefer the oil (recipe above), but the spray works better for your hair and clothing, so you may like to make both versions.  I tend to rub the oil up under the hair line and wear a hat some times.  We don't have a huge tick problem, but the wind can bring some in.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Homemade Bug Spray and Rain Updates

Wed. morning we attended our youngest daughter's awards ceremony.  It rained most of the day, so we only got mulch on one small flower bed.  It was cold, cloudy, and the rain just seems to fall.  It was literally cold enough to start up the woodstove, but I held back, due to the upcoming weather.

Thursday, I planted more flowers while it rained.   I toted 54 of my tomato plants out to the garden, and planted those in the rain until the rain was too much.   I got about half of them planted, then went to the front porch.  I leaned over the edge and got the front beds finished weeded.  Dropped my zinnia seeds too, but I have more to plant.  Gladiolus bulbs are now planted too.

Headed back out to the tomatoes, but guess what?  It rained again, and too much to be out planting in it.  I'm gonna have to buy a rain coat to get that job done apparently.

I stayed inside and made a hot cup of mullein/nettle tea.  My sinuses were giving me issues with all this rain and spring allergies.

I also made homemade bug spray.  The recipe is from Mountain Rose Herbs blog, and it works.  It was originally called "Bug away spray" but now you can google it as "No Skeeter Spritz" spray.   If you click on the link above (goes to my blogpost on when I first made it), the link to the original recipe does not work.

The ingredients in their newly posted recipe are almost the same, they must of just changed the name of it, and added one essential oil - cedarwood (in place of citronella oil).  

You will need to make a catnip tincture (also called extract) first (which requires fresh or dried catnip and alcohol).  Start that now, so you can make your spray and start using it.  You can also find instructions on how to make a tincture on the MRH blog as well.  

You will need organic essential oils to complete the spray.  If you don't have wild growing catnip, you can also find seeds to plant at Strictly Medicinal Seeds.  The tincture can also be beneficial to help with insomnia and upset stomach.

Here is the original recipe I have used, so you have both options.

Bug Away Spray

4 oz. catnip tincture (I used vodka to make mine)
4 oz. witch hazel extract
80 drops organic citronella essential oil
80 drops organic eucalyptus essential oil
40 drops organic lavender essential oil
20 drops organic rosemary essential oil
10 drops organic lemongrass essential oil
10 drops organic lemon essential oil

Mix all ingredients, pour into a spray bottle.  Shake before using.  I do find I have to re-apply often, especially if it's hot out and I'm sweating a lot.  

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Teabag Tidbits

Just a little teabag quote for the day.

Started a jar of comfrey infused oil.  I haven't decided yet, but I'll either use this as an oil or make a salve, to topically treat my varicose veins.

Made a breakfast scramble with collards, jalapeno and bacon.  Of course eggs, potatoes and green bell peppers as well.  I felt bad Hubby had no breakfast nor lunch to pack on Monday.  We grilled out Sunday night, and had been busy outdoor Sunday morning.

Baked Bourbon Blueberry Banana bread.  Snacks for the next day or two.

You know when the weather really is wacky, when you have this much asparagus, and no snap peas to go with it (when I normally do).  Peas aren't even planted sadly.  I roast the asparagus with rosemary and olive oil.

Today is our youngest daughter's last day of school. 

Considering our weather the last two years, I've asked Hubby to put building a green house to the top of the to-do list.  I can't survive with out it now.  It's imperative in order for us to eat healthy and stock up for the winter and spring.  The weather is definitely a struggle and I have a bad feeling it will happen more often than not.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Happy Homemaker Monday

I'm joining Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom.   Back weeks ago, I guessed I had 4 roosters and 3 hens with my spring chick purchase.  The other day I took another closer look.  I may be right, but time will tell.

Debby Flowers do you make and sell goat's milk soap?  Or anyone else that follows my blog?  If so, comment types and prices etc. please.

Breaking news! With the hot day we had on Saturday, and the early morning break from rain, the tiller was humming away.  Mower too.  We had to mow down the garden (last year's neglect), to start tilling where it was dry enough.  Hubby got 3/4 of the larger tomato patch tilled, but it started to rain.  Only a small portion of the large garden was mowed down.

On the breakfast plate. . .
Have no idea yet.

The weather outside is . . .
Cold.  We went from 80's and major storms yesterday to no rain, and we'll dip into the 40's tonight.

On my reading pile. . .
Book from the library

On my TV . . .
Justified on Amazon Prime

On the to-do list . . .

...for the month to-do list
-make horse chestnut tincture and infused oil
-make homemade bug spray
-make homemade tick oil
-plant garden
-finish flower beds, drop seeds etc.
-flip rain barrels
-start potted weeds and herbs
-build raised bed
-call greenhouses for sweet potato slips
-order more wasp/bee traps (non toxic)
-place an order for dried fruits, and other needs
-place order for essential oils, etc.
-clean oven
-clean fridge out

On the menu . . .
Spaghetti, asparagus
Grilled steaks, baked sweet potatoes with whiskey butter
...have no idea on the rest of the week
Hot taco dip for snacks
Banana bread for snacks

What I am creating . . .

In case you didn't see my post, I'm putting together these.  One for the truck, camper and car - notepad, pen, pencil crochet hook, eye needle, tape measure, scissors.  I'm still trying to restock my knitted dishcloths as well.

Looking forward to . . .
Planting the garden, better weather, no rain and another motorcycle ride.  A trip to the island.

Looking around the house . . .
It's a mess.  Again.  We had the grandkids over last night for a grill out.  Thankfully, the rain stopped for that to happen.  The colder, wet weather will keep me inside, so indoor cleaning will happen today.

From the camera. . .
Aurora watching the new cardinals make their nest in a tree just outside my study.  They were making all kinds of rukus to scare off the cat.  Super excited that we'll see baby cardinals.  Oh, I won the battle with the chickadees too.  They'd pack grass in outside next to an air conditioner, and I'd dig it out.  In it went, out it went.  So far, I've won.  Oh, and our hummingbird is back.  He/she was out getting dinner from my hanging plants last night.

I bit of porch cuteness.

The mailbox garden.  Making progress.

New to the flower beds.  Gorgeous begonias.

One of my simple pleasures . . .
A soak in the tub with essential oils.

Prayers . . .
A family friend with severe back pain, and no insurance.