An attempt to declare the Glory of God for what He has chosen to do with our lives. A legacy to leave to my children in the telling of it.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Latest Plan of Attack

There must be something with the season changes that makes us women go into a nesting mode at this time of year. Either that or the thought of 8 weeks of football practice and starting another year of home school has me scrambling to make life easier on myself. My grande plan of attack is in creating, yet again and hopefully actually using, a menu for our school days. In past years we have used a 4 day 2 week rotating lunch menu that we use during the school year. I usually buy my groceries in bulk at Aldis, normally 1-2 months at a time, so I am used to stocking up. We have designated a big Rubbermaid tote as our "school tote" and keep our school food in there and not for general use. The theory is that the kids can rotate making lunches as I finish working with the others. We have very simple meals.

Week 1:
Monday~Baked ham and cheese sandwich, tomato soup, fruit
Tuesday~ Mac and Cheese with hot dogs and a veggie
Wednesday~ Egg and tortilla wrap, summer sausage, yogurt and fruit
Thursday~ Sloppy joes, baked beans, pudding
Week 2:
Monday~ Cold sandwich, fruit
Tuesday~ Homemade pizza
Wednesday~ Ramen noodles, summer sausage, veggie
Thursday~ Kalua Pork (recipe below), pasta salad
All of the ingredients can be easily stored in our tote or in the freezer for a couple of months at a time. Eggs are normally aplenty around here, as is pork for the Kalua Pork. We freeze the sloppy joes ahead of time and take out enough to double as lunches (as well as the Kalua pork) on Friday. So, being the plan seems to work so well we decided to come up with a 4 day 2 week rotating supper menu that we could make ahead and freeze. Our school schedule only runs Monday thru Thursday since Rob is home every Friday. The beauty of this plan is that I still have 3 days a week that I can cook whatever I want to but during the school days I don't have to worry about what to cook. If we get tired of the current menu we can always come up with a different 2 week menu. Today was the big cook off day. Our supper menu this time around is as follows (click on the links for the recipes):
Week 1:
Monday~Roast with veggies
Tuesday~ Chicken and Broccoli hotdish (recipe below) with Rice
Wednesday~Cheese and olive stuffed meatloaf (recipe below), Scalloped potatoes
Thursday~ Baked Pork chops, applesauce, veggie
Week 2:
Monday~ Baked Spaghetti (recipe below) and veggie
Tuesday~ Tator Tot Hotdish, (not your traditional tomato based hot dish, this one has brats, cheese and sour cream~ yummy!) veggie
Wednesday~Still trying to figure out this day
We started by thawing pounds and pounds of hamburger and getting out all of the cooking supplies. Trent likes to make the tator tot hotdish so I started him with cutting up brats.
I boiled a bag of chicken breasts in a pot of water and chicken bouillon cubes then let them cool and cut them up for the start of the Chicken and Broccoli hotdish. Grace and Micah helped layer the cheese.
Chicken and Broccoli Hotdish
3#'s Chicken breast, cooked and cut into bite size pieces
1 package of frozen broccoli
1 can sliced water chestnuts
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 can milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
8 slices american cheese
1 pkg dried onion rings
Layer chicken, broccoli and water chestnuts in a 9x13 pan. Cover with cheese slices. Combine cream of mushroom soup, milk and mayonnaise and pour over hotdish. Cover and bake for 40 mn at 350 degrees. Sprinkle dried onion rings on top and bake uncovered another 10 mn. Serve over white rice.
Cole manned the stove and kept us supplied with browned hamburger so we could make chili, taco soup and sloppy joes.
Grace and Micah sliced olives for our Baked Spaghetti hotdishes. Rather than making a traditional Lasagna I just lay cooked spaghetti noodles in a 9x13 pan, cover with hamburger and spaghetti sauce, then sprinkle with shredded mozzarella, shredded cheddar and Parmesan and then top with black olives. Bake until cooked through.
Cheese and Olive stuffed Meatloaf
Make your favorite meatloaf recipe~ I always make mine a bit different depending on what I have on hand, but traditionally 2# hamburger, broken up saltines, (or dried bread crumbs or even oatmeal), a couple of eggs, ketchup, chopped onions or dry onion soup mix and seasonings. Roll your meatloaf on a piece of tinfoil into a rectangle and then top with shredded cheddar cheese and black olives. Roll your meatloaf up, jelly roll style, tucking in the ends. Seal the tinfoil around the meatloaf roll and bake in a bread pan. 350 for about 40 minutes or until cooked through, drain grease off after 20 mn.
We froze 3 pans of chicken and broccoli hotdish, 3 pans of baked spaghetti, 3 pans of tator tot hotdish, 2 generous batches of chili, 1 generous batch of taco soup, and 3 gallon bags of sloppy joes. 3 servings of meatloaf is in the plans for tonight to get ready for the freezer. Between the crock pot meals and all the frozen dishes I should have about 6 weeks of school day suppers in the freezer ready to make my life easier. Oh yes, and that Kalua Pork recipe:
Kalua Pork (A delicious pulled pork sandwich recipe)
3# pork roast
1 bottle liquid smoke
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 Tblsp garlic powder
Cook in a crockpot for 4-8 hours. Pull pork apart and serve on buns. Enjoy!
And since I was freezing so much ahead I made up a double batch of Rhubarb Slushies. Whew! Now what's for supper tonight??

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Little Inspiration

Three weeks working away from home has had me just itching to get another project going around here. While doing chores this morning I got the crazy idea to start on the patio in the flower garden. Slowly but surely we are creating a little flower garden and pathway behind the granary. Last fall I built up a little patio area and have been pondering just how to finish it off. At the time being it has been pretty much neglected back there because the pathway that I priced out came in at over $600 even to do it ourselves. Once I realized I could barely lift a sack of quick-crete, let alone imagine that I could mix up $600 worth of bags of quick-crete, I quickly scratched that idea. Then the thought of using some of the old cement pieces that we tore out of the barn lot in the tear down project came to me. Hmmmm....... Good thing Trent knows how to start the skidsteer and hook up the bucket. How do 12 year old boys just know how to do all these things? I found a few more helpers to pull some weeds. Then when they all mysteriously disappeared I had to drive the skidsteer all by myself and finish loading and hauling the rest of the pieces. Oooooohhh! I am liking it! And if it wasn't for having to run into town for football practice and a library trip I could have actually finished this project before Rob got home and caught me using his level. Ya know~ I am dreaming up a few more places for a cement patio now that I think about it.

Ode de Buck

Whew-eeee!! There's nothing quite like that particular smell of buck to usher in the fall goat breeding season. If there is one single thing I don't like about raising goats it's the smell of a buck. The alternative to keeping a buck is renting a buck, tho, and with that comes other issues of finding the right breed of buck, hauling said buck, hoping that you don't bring home anything contagious to your herd and that the buck doesn't get hurt while on your property, then hoping that he did his job in the allotted rental time. For the first two years raised goats we rented a buck. It worked well for the time being since we had crossbreeds but now that we have defined our goals of what we want to do with the goats (our end goal being to raise a good milking line of spotted registered Nubians) our choices are limited. It has become much easier to keep our own buck. The last couple of breeding seasons have had challenges of their own and we have learned some very interesting things about keeping bucks. Things like Nubians can and do breed in July and how high a buck really can jump when he is determined. This year we are a bit wiser (we think) and hope to eliminate those issues and breed when we want the goats bred. So in preparation for that besides taller buck pens we have started now to get our does into prime shape for their little upcoming rendezvous with our handsome buck. We will have 6 does to breed this fall. One of those does being registered (yippee!), 4 of them being purebred Nubians, and 2 of them high percentage crosses all with amazing udders and only 1 first timer (double yippee!). All except for one of the does is dried up from milk production and they are all on a good alfalfa and extra feed until the special day comes. We separated Asha and Susan to start weaning and drying Susan off. I am going to try feeding dry raspberry leaves as a little experiment this year as well. The raspberry leaves are supposed to help all those internal female organs so we can hope for twins and even triplets this year. We shall see how it works. In a couple of weeks I will also give everybody a good worming and feet trimming and then on October 1st put Mr. Cadillac (our first ever registered spotted buck) into the girl pen. Then we wait 5 months and see what God chooses to provide. After 4 years of waiting to define our goat plans they are now just a few months away from reality. And hopefully, hopefully, the barn will be totally remodeled and I will even have real stalls and a milking parlor before those little kids are due. Yippee!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

And the Winner is....

A big sigh of relief~ the Fair is officially over! Yay! I always look forward to the Fair but I am always glad when it's over, too. Everyone had a fun time watching the horse showdeo and riding rides and checking out all their ribbons. But now that it's all packed up we can relax a little bit around here once again. You see we go just a bit overboard when it comes to fair entries and even though we say we're not going to go so nuts this time around there are just so many fun things to enter. I am the guiltiest of the bunch but I enjoy creating so many things. At last guesstimate we had over 200 entries between us all which makes for lot's of work tagging, hauling and retrieving projects. We had everything from drawings and photographs to cakes and cookies and jerky, to eggs and cheese and butter, to quilts and dolls, and woodworking and sewing projects. The kids worked hard on lots of informational posters, cards and stories as well.
Our goats milk soap received 1st in several departments.
Our woodworking bridle holders did well.
And our drawings did good also. I have had a renewed interest in drawing the past year and just may have to add some good drawing books to our school curriculum wish list.
My checkerboard placed first again.
There wasn't too much to enter as far as veggies went but we did manage to find enough plums, crab apples and green tomatoes to fill our entry forms.
We also entered our slim pickin's alfalfa and received good marks. And drum roll please..... I entered 3 kinds of goats milk cheese and my Garlic Pepper with Parsley Hard Cheese won a Grand Champion! I am still smiling from ear to ear and will have to place my ribbon right next to all of Rob's cheese trophies!
I entered 2 little quilts. Micah's frog quilt received first place which tickled me pink because it's hard to get a first in the quilting department. My tear-my-hair-out crazy quilt received third place. They always get me on my binding corners and I realized too late that I sewed the corners wrong on the binding and just did not have the heart to tear it all out by the time I noticed. So I was content to take third.
I think she's just too cute!
I saw this pattern quite some time ago in a quilting book and have wanted to make it ever since. The Fair is a good reason to challenge yourself into making a quilt with 1" finished squares and a gazillion triangles.
It was worth it.

Hay Season

There has finally been a break in the continuous rain that we have had all summer long. Our hay fields have been ready to cut for several weeks but with all the rain showers it has not been possible to even attempt it. The weather man predicted a week straight of sunshine so Russell took the chance and cut the hay for us earlier this week. Now this hay business has been only a dream for years and years ever since we brought home our first little free jersey bull calf and realized we really enjoyed this farming life. All those years we have had to sink any profit we thought we could make right back into buying hay and grain to sustain the animals until the next butcher date as we have not had enough acreage until we bought the farm so we could raise our own crops. Now 4 years later we are finally getting our first real crop of hay. The first 2 growing seasons my big brother David planted corn to break up the fields that had not been planted or worked in 20 years. Last year we invested the money into planting two fields into alfalfa only to have a big wind storm come up the next day and blow away nearly all of our seed. We got a whole whopping 35 square bales last summer and pastured it off for the rest of the season, hoping and praying that maybe, just maybe, some alfalfa would come back. A bit of the alfalfa came back this spring but not much. We let it grow to see what would come of it and got 4 large round bales off of first crop. The fields still weren't very thick or lush but with all the rain we have had what was there grew fairly well. Being we missed the fall planting date before second crop could be cut we decided to just let the field grow so we could at least take some more hay off of it and will hope to be able to invest in planting alfalfa next spring again. We were able to get 150+ square bales off of these two fields~ yippee! Cole worked so hard along side Rob to help load all those bales on the wagon as Russell baled. They even let Micah, Grace and I ride along. So fun! I am a true farm girl at heart. Once all that hay is baled it's time to get it all into the haymow. They even let me help with that.

Having one whole open end of a barn has it's advantages at a time like this.

Wagon number 2.
These hard working farm boys got a real work out.

Even Grace helped.

What an amazing sight to have our very own hay in our very own hay mow.