Monthly Archives: August 2012

Crab Apples = jelly

We had a bit of a surprise this spring. The tree at the end of our driveway turned into this


As the seasons progressed it turned into this,

With branches that look like this

And this is after weeks and weeks of harvesting. A few days ago the children decided to shake the tree to see what would happen. Over a bushel fell but the tree is still adundant. I am so thankful that we got to see this tree through the seasons and that my less then two year old knows that fruit comes from trees. Every time we go to the mailbox we have to stop for a treat.

The tree is so abudant in fact I decided to try my hand at jelly. I cut the stem and blossom ends of the apples and put about 12 cups of them with 3 cups of water in a pot to simmer down. I bought a jelly bag (basically a super fine strainer) to get the juice. The directions fo the Ball Blue Book of preserving said

Crab Apple Jelly

4 cups crab apple juice
4 cups sugar

Disolve sugar in juice, bring to a boil, then simmer stirring constantly until it gets to the jelling point. It took about 15-20 minutes for me but I think I did it too long because my jelly is super firm.

I got 4 1/2 one half pint containers. Should have been about 6 according to the recipe, another reason I think I let it go too long. I got the labels from Taproot Magazine. I should have taken the picture with light behind it so you could see the pretty pink color. Pretty is always good.

“Fully Human”–something to ponder

There is nothing like a huge life change to make you evaluate your life and decide what you think is important. For over a year now our lives have been absorbed with the process of moving and setting up a farm. But with the coming fall and the almost visible slowing of the seasons I am finding time to actually read and contemplate and enjoy life.

I am finishing up reading the first 2 issues of Taproot magazine. Shannon Hayes said in her particularly insightful article “Cultivating the Rich Soil of OUr Lives, “
We live in bizarre times, victims of a post-industrial era that, for the sake of efficiency, has segmented our culture into factions–some produce food, some produce the education, some produce goods and services. This segmentation fails to acknowledge our need to be human, to engage in daily work that feeds our minds and our bodies and reestablishes our oneness with the earth. Perhaps more carrots can be produced, more books can be written, more art can be created, more kids can be schooled, more numbers can be crunched and more albums can be produced if one person plants carrots and someone else writes the books, and someone else paints pictures, and someone else teaches our kids, and someone else crunches the numbers and someone else plants the music and someone else cooks the carrots. But none of us is experiencing what it means to be fully human, where our unique minds and bodies work in harmony with our spirits and nature to create and provide for our wellbeing.

That article hit home to me, I have always known my tastes and interests were varied and eclectic. But I have always thought maybe I just needed more focus. Maybe I should just focus on one thing, now I can embrace it. So just because I keep a home, cook and grow food, raise and homeschool my children, sew, knit, write, photograph and so much more I am not doing too much, I am just fully experiencing my particular human existence. Thanks to Taproots for a great magazine!

Beautiful Pottery

I promised more about the pottery from our Art Festival last weekend. I have always loved pottery and some day I hope to try my hand at it. But for now I can just be appreciative of the things others make.

Here is one of the pieces I bought from Ruth O’Hara. Unfortunately I didn’t get pictures of the others before I gave them as a house warming gift.

I have come to realize how important it is to surround ourselves with beautiful things whenever possible. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with this bowl or where I was going to put it, but the children decided they wanted it in the standard rotation.

Yes function is good and a beautiful plate makes even blueberry muffins on the deck a special occasion. The only problem is we only have one. All you with more then one child know what that means. So next year I’ll have to budget for more.

Rush City Music and Art Festival

My sister in law asked me this weekend if 8 months after the fact we were still happy with our decision to move to Rush City. i told her without any hesitation–yes! There are so many things I love about this place, our farm itself, with the family that live here, love and grow here, the beautiful trails, trees and scenery, the fact that is is close to some of our favorite spots and now the community we are discovering here. This last weekend was the 10th Annual Rush City Music and Art Festival. It happens the 3rd week of August every year and we are already looking forward to next year. Maybe we will even exhibit.

There was of course music. My favorite was “Brat Patrol” and there 80s retro music. So much fun.

For the kids there was free face painting and

a free bouncy house.

I loved the pottery demonstration by Ruth O’Hara. She learned her trade well from Robert Briscoe and had some beautiful pieces. More on this for Friday.

There were also some wonderful quilts, food and community organizations represented. Oh and the highlight, fireworks! Yes some times small town living is great.

Cat About Town

I was trying to think of what to write about today when an unexpected opportunity came up. All sorts of funny things happen on farms, especially when animals and children are involved. Really I shouldn’t be surprised by anything. But this morning when I went out to feed the chickens some scraps and then the goats this sight greeted me as I was headed back to the house.

Shadrach just showed up one day at the farm and has been making friends with everyone since. Goats, dogs, children, visitors and now apparently chickens. I guess he liked the table scraps the chickens were getting. A little bit of humor for your Friday.

Fall R and R

The sumac has already started to change in our neck of the woods. The geese are starting to fly again and the weather is noticeable much cooler. It definitely feels like fall, but summer isn’t quite over yet. The older two still have their swim lessons at the Aquatic Center in town. It has been so cool to seem them blossoming spending time with their classmates and having a good time in the water as their confidence grows. They do a great job here. 

Today there was some free time. Normally I join them but it is a bit chilly in the mornings now. Here Two is shooting so fast down the slide all I got was his foot.

Avril is a bit more dainty while Two cheers her on.

It has been quite the year for us including some huge huge life changes. As we enter the fall it is very satisfying to look back over the year and respect the learning curve. My it has been a diificult one. So much is new–life in rural America, raising animals including hooved animals, managing a much larger farm then we have ever had to deal with, homeschooling and the impending pregnancy of our 5th child to name just a few. While alot of things haven’t gone as we hoped this year, the time of slowing down and rhythm is upon us and it is so comforting after a hectic spring and summer.

As my pregnancy progresses I am able to do less hard labor so I am working more on beautifying our home and making it our own–something we never did before. Before we felt very transient. Even though we lived in the same home for 8 years it didn’t feel like our permanent place and as it filled with children we knew it we were out growing it fast. But now we are hopefully in our permanent home and let me tell you roots feel good. Here is a picture of our bedroom. I made the curtains with an assortment of fabrics. The pictures are some cheap document frames I got and filled with artwork from the children. They were so excited to see their artwork on display in such a permanent way. I think it really dresses up the place. And while the room isn’t complete it is getting to be a place I love to go and just relax.

Baby fever is hitting me. I think it is probably the fact that we are settling down and that this will be our 2nd boy. After 3 girls everyone is excited for the change. Feeling more settled allows me to knit and create for this baby. I have added knitting to my evening relaxation. Here is a little buddy I made the one from 101 Designer One Skein Wonders. I am also working on a sleep sack for the baby and planning Christmas presents for all my wee babes. So much fun.  

I also love taking time for beauty. Special thanks to the sellers who left this beautiful hibiscus tree. It makes all the work keeping it through the winter worth it as it is blooming now. Reminds me of last year when we first looked at the place and reminds me, we are in a wonderful place–relax and enjoy it.