Friday, October 21, 2011

Guest Post > Farm Journal: October 21, 2011

Please welcome Shirley, from Crossbuck Farm Country Crafts (blog) (website)
We have had three days of rain, again.  Another 3″ measured  in our rain gauge.  Today, the sun is finally visible in the east and rising! Yeah!  Not that rain days are useless, but when there is a lot to do outside to prepare for the coming winter season, it does put a damper on those chores.  Inside, is another story.  Rain days are great for catching up on the inside house duties. 

I went out in the rain mist and picked all that was left of the hot pepper mix we planted from seeds.  They did well, and I wanted to use my EXCALIBUR food dehydrator on them again.  I started with my largest enamel pan filled to the brim with hot peppers, and let them soak a few minutes, in a little bit of dishsoap and water. Then after a few swirls around the pan in rinse water, set them aside to drain, while I prepared  my pan for composting waste, and another bowl for the slices of peppers.  I cut them into 1/4″ slices, and filled my largest bowl to the brim.  Then you place all the sliced peppers on the trays and set you dehydrator for 8 hours.  It costs three cents an hour to run, so it is an inexpensive item to have.  When the hot peppers are done, they are dry and all of them fill a cereal bowl to the brim, at this point. I then put all of the peppers into my cuisinart and grind them to as fine a powder as possible.  Sometimes there are still small pieces present, as it is hard to powder all of the mixture, so, when I am about to use it, I may also use my mortar and pestle to fine powder this mixture.  Wow!  as I was filling the smaller bowl with these pretty pepper slices, I did put one in my mouth without really thinking! Whew!  That was a hot one…. but a good hot!  When you are grinding hot peppers to a powder, remember to also use a mask.  It is surprising how much powder can find its way out of a tightly sealed cuisinart!  The fine powder can get into your eyes or lungs and burn a bit, to say the least.   Also I would remind you to wear rubber gloves when cutting hot peppers… When all is said and done, I have a 1/2 pint jar of homemade hot pepper powder ready to go!  Homegrown, handmade with love!
I picked the last of the dry beans and canned 26 jars.  It is so much more convenient to have them already prepared and on the shelf, versus having them dried and on the shelf.  Now they are ready to use for soup beans, dinner beans, baked beans, refried beans,  or you name it beans! Another homegrown and handmade food staple!
I pulled up one of the sweet potatoe vines and the sweet potatoes look wonderful!  Maybe the extra rain was heaven sent for them, as they looked picture perfect!  I will need to pull up the white potato row, carrots and beets, now.  There is a small amount of white and red onions still left, that need to be picked.  I will gather the good ones and dehydrate them for the winter cooking!
I am still getting handfuls of red raspberries… I know this will not last now that it is getting into the colder temperatures. They are just about finished.  I have enough berries from the odds and ends pickings, that I can put-up about three more batches yet.  As I pick them, I place them in separate freezer bags for jamming later. We will have another batch of mulberry, red raspberry and blackberry to go with.  It seems like everyone likes a jar for Christmas Gifting!
We are feeding our bees a syrup mixture right now, to help them get through to the end of the year.  It is a mixture of white sugar and water, 1×1 mixture.  They love it!  By the end of this month, we will have to get their wind screen up and get them prepared for the winter. Hopefully, they will winter over with no problems.  Bees stay alive and keep the hive at a constant temperature all winter long.
There is a "Share the Giftcraft show tomorrow in Richmond, MI, with a 50¢ or a canned food donation at the door to help families in need.  It will be at St. Peter’s Lutheran School and Church; you can check the craft show listings here on my blog. I will still have to load the car, but I can do that later… After all, the sun is shining right now as I type, and it is inviting me outside….  I will catch you all later.  Toodles…

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