Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Of dogs and skunks

We have a skunk here at Thistledew - he seems to prowl between the two houses during the night. Once in awhile I get a whiff of his distinctive perfume when I go outside at night or very early in the morning, and believe me, a whiff is MORE than enough.

So, it was with some dismay that I discovered that Achilles (our boxer) likes to play with skunks. And the skunk, evidently, doesn't share that playful feeling, because he sprayed Achilles full-on. The odor was unbelievable, and poor Achilles was banished to the laundry room for the night.

Fortunately for us (and for Achilles), our second-favorite store is Tractor Supply, and they have a post-skunk encounter shampoo that works pretty well. Achilles still smells slightly musky, but nothing like he initially did. And this is really good, because he's managed to encounter the skunk twice more since that first time. The skunk still doesn't want to play - imagine that!

You'd think that three sprays of vile, smelly, burning stuff into your face and eyes followed by obvious human dismay and either banishment OR an immediate bath would be enough to convince you to leave a skunk to his own devices, but Achilles pushes on. That funny-looking cat will figure out how to play one of these days, and won't that be fun?


Monday, September 29, 2008

Jo-Ann's Power Bars

So, I tried Jo-Ann's Power Bar recipe this past weekend, and had one on my way to the hospital this morning. I warmed it just slightly in the microwave, and carried it with my coffee out to the car. It was the perfect on-the-go breakfast, and that's really all I have time for these days. And, I stayed full until nearly 10 a.m. - which is pretty awesome, considering the fact that I ate breakfast at about 5:30 a.m. - so I'd say the recipe was success.

Of course, I can't cook anything without modifying the recipe. So, the original is here: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Jo-Anns-Power-Bars/Detail.aspx and I modified it by replacing the applesauce with mashed bananas, and I replaced the mixed fruit with blueberries. I also added 4 tablespoons of ground flax meal, omitted the vegetable oil entirely, doubled the cinnamon, replaced the sunflower seeds with almonds and added some nutmeg. Oh, and I doubled the recipe, to make thicker bars. I'll definitely make these again.

I spent some time this afternoon talking to my handsome oldest son, Joshua, who is in Korea at the moment. He is an air traffic controller, and he should be home some time in April of 2009. We miss him very, very much, but I have to confess that I'm glad he's having adventures while he's still young and unencumbered! He should have some good stories when he finishes this tour! When I get to missing him too much, I remember what it felt like to be young and to want to see the world and experience life. Josh is doing exactly what he ought to be doing, and I try very hard to keep that in mind. But, boy, am I ever going to be glad when he comes home!

So, if you have a few minutes this week, call your mom - I can tell you that it certainly made MY week to get that call!


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Weekend Update

Well, the weekend is nearly over and I did NOT get my to-do list completed. The chicken coop will simply have to be cleaned next week, or one afternoon this week if I get finished with class early enough. Melissa and I stained boards Friday night, but it was too humid Saturday and I got bogged down today - I'm just taking a quick break to post this, and then it's back to work. :(

This is entirely my own fault, because I always think academic stuff will go faster than it does and I never allow enough time to do it. I think this is because I have always been able to read very fast, but studying and writing are different, and even though I am reasonably fast at them I think I consistently underestimate the sheer volume of material there is to cover. Then I get overwhelmed, and feel like I'm drowning, and letting everybody down, when really almost everybody is okay with me helping when I can and then retreating into my cave to study. I'm the only one who makes it an issue. Sigh.

Oh, and don't even get me started on the clinical logs - grrr! I will be glad to graduate just so I don't have to log every single case anymore! But, they're caught up, so now I really will try to keep them that way.

I did get the power bars made - they turned out great! I'll try one for breakfast in the morning and we'll see what kind of staying power they have. Ideally, they'd keep me reasonably satisfied from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m., but that's probably being unrealistic. Anyway, they tasted good, and I modified the recipe somewhat, but that's another post!

Also, I found my lost book! Hooray, woohoo, and thank heaven - we simply couldn't aford to replace it, so I was really sweating on that one. Although, part of the reason I didn't get more done this weekend is because I spent so much time searching for that wretched thing. Grrr, again!

So, it's back to work for me now, and back to the hospital in the morning. Have a good evening, everyone, and I'll do an update on the homemade power bars tomorrow!


Saturday, September 27, 2008


Well, I made some headway on my to-do list today, but it might not all get done tomorrow. We did get the salad garden planted, though. I cleaned the old plants out of the bed and then Melissa raked it smooth. Then we planted spinach, lettuce and broccoli. It was misting rain all morning, so we didn't have to water - that saved some time. I also took a bunch of cuttings and put them in the kitchen window to see what will start. My kitchen smells like fresh herbs!

The hummingbirds are mostly gone, now, but I did put some more syrup out for the few stragglers that remain. I saw only about four birds this morning, down from a high in July of 16 at one time on the various feeders. I guess I thought they'd be around a little longer, but it is nearly the end of September, so of course they've started migrating.

I harvested one more batch of tomatoes from the raised bed this afternoon - we had them for dinner with a spinach salad. There are some green tomatoes still on the vines, as well as some flowers, but surely the first frost can't be that far off. So, I'm not sure how much more we'll get. I will try to cover the plants and extend the harvest a little bit - we'll see how that goes.

The compost pile has a volunteer potato plant growing in it - I'll leave it alone until the frost kills the plant, and then see what we've got. I tend to do newer material toward the back of the pile sdo that I can pull from the front of the pile to put in the garden, and the plant is on the front edge of the pile. Hey, we might get a few usable potatoes out of it - even if they're only good for chicken feed!

And, on a less positive note, I have managed to lose an entire anesthesia review book - the one that would cost $240 to replace, naturally. It couldn't be a $15 book, right? Anyway, I can't find it. Frustrating. My house simply isn't that big - the book has GOT to be here. I am racking my brain, trying to figure this out! I need to be studying the stupid thing, not wasting time hunting it! Oh, well - tomorrow is another day and surely that stupid book will turn up.

Good night, everyone!


Friday, September 26, 2008

The weekend!

I am so glad the weekend is finally here! It has been such a long week, and I have been so exhausted - it felt like I was moving through molasses all week and I had to force myself to keep going. But now I can get some rest, and sleep a little later, and have a glass of wine - it's all good!

So, the weekend wouldn't be the weekend at Thistledew without a project list, and here's mine:

1. Help Melissa get the siding stained - she has been working diligently, mostly on her own because I've been swamped, and we need to finish that project this weekend.

2. Clean out both garden beds and plant a fall salad garden and fall vegetables. We're actually a little late on this, but what grows we'll eat, and what doesn't will get fed to the chickens.

3. Clean the chicken coop and add the resultant debris to the compost pile.

4. Get some more cuttings from plants started to overwinter in the garage. We want to have very little outlay for plants next year, and with a little work and planning this year, we think it can happen!

5. Spend at least six hours working on the thesis and three hours studying over the course of the weekend. I can't ignore my coursework, even though I really want to do so!

6. Make this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Jo-Anns-Power-Bars/Detail.aspx, so I have something filling and nutritious for a quick breakfast on the way to the hospital in the mornings. Once in awhile I make time to eat oatmeal, and it keeps me going all morning. In my mind, this is amped-up oatmeal you can hold in your hand! But we'll see.

7. Catch up on my clinical logs - I'm a little behind on the required paperwork detailing the kinds of cases I've done and how much time I've spent doing them - have to stay on top of that or it quickly overwhelms.

I really ought to add some housework to that list, but Ron and the boys have been good about helping out - the house isn't perfect, but it isn't horrible, either, so I think I'll just do a bit here and there and call it good.

So, that's it - my to-do list. I'll post again on Sunday and list what I've accomplished - if I can get everything on the list done I'm going to give myself some sort of treat. Not sure what, yet, but something! Any suggestions for low-cost (or free!) treat-type things? I'm open!

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, September 25, 2008

More photos

Well, since I'm on a photo kick this week, I thought I might as well continue that theme. Here's a photo of the whole family at my oldest son's graduation from Army basic training. The boys have gotten taller, Ron and I have gotten a bit heavier and I donated my hair to Locks of Love, so it's short now. My hair is also darker - I quit coloring it when I started graduate school - there's no money in the budget for hair color now!

I went through these photos later and asked the younger boys why they weren't smiling, and they sheepishly 'fessed up to trying to look tough next to their soldier brother. So, what do you think - do they look tough?

Here are the horses in the lower pasture - at the time, Flash (Ashley's horse) hadn't come to live with us, and this is what the pasture looked like before two years of drought rendered it parched. Still, with some work we think we can get it back, now that there's an actual well on the property.

Now, if I could just get the fear of the well drying up out of my head - I am convinced that the well will dry up. There's no reason to believe it will - it's a fine well that produces over 20 gallons a minute (I'm told that's a reasonable amount), and if it did everybody in the area would be in the same boat, but still, I have nightmares about it. Maybe it's a past-life experience peeking through!

Here's the honkin' play set that all the boys built for the princess when we first bought the farm. It's still there, behind the house, but this year we've had trouble with wasps infiltrating it. We're going to have to figure out some way to keep the wasps out of there so the kids don't get stung playing. Wasp repellant recipes, anyone?

We put a small rock friendship garden in front of the playset, and the princess had her friends paint rocks for it. We also planted strawberries, which amazingly actually survived the drought. Ron wants to put a bocce court out there, as well, and when the landscaping's done we'll probably do that. Bocce is fun and easy for everybody, regardless of skill level, to play.

And now I have some studying to do, so I'll close this. Have a good night!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I was sorting through some digital photos today, and that reminded me that our buddy Lisa has asked a couple of times about photos. Also, I still have writer's block, so what easier way to deal with that than to post photos and write about them? So, here goes:

These are my handsome sons - from left to right, Joshua, Brian and Sean. Joshua is in the Army, serving in South Korea. Brian and Sean still live at home, and Brian is the high-flying young man who helped install some beautiful windows this week!

This photo was taken on a Christmas snowboarding trip - instead of buying gifts, we took the boys to the slopes for five days. They said it was the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER! :)

This is Achilles, our boxer. He is the most senior dog in the house, and takes himself (and his naps, and his food) very seriously... until somebody suggests a game, that is, and then he's all for it! His favorite thing to do is go for a car ride, and his second favorite thing to do is to go visit Melissa up at the building site. Sometimes, he sneaks up there on his own!

He's had surgery on one knee, and needs it on the other knee, but his mama is a chicken about putting him through it again. He's a good, brave dog, though, so I am sure he will come through with flying colors once again! And, yes, I put people to sleep for surgery every day - but I can talk to my patients and tell them what I'm doing and why! I can't explain it to the dog, and he just knows that he hurts. So, I'm waffling.

Here are the two younger boys, Brian and Sean, with our mare, Mystique. The boys were grooming her after a training session, and no, that isn't our barn but I wish it was!

She is a Tennessee Walking Horse/Spotted Saddle cross and the boys ride her around the farms, and occasionally on the equestrian trails behind the property. I am mostly too busy to ride, these days, and I'm a bit of a chicken in my old age. Melissa is patient with me, though - she's the equestrian expert in the family and I'm lucky to have her as a friend!

Well, that should do, for a start. I'll post more photos tomorrow! Right now dinner is on the table and I've got to go!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Dog's Life

I am suffering from a mild form of writer's block at the moment - I need to be working on my thesis, but I'm finding it difficult to even pour through the background research, much less start writing the literature review. Sigh. So, I figured I'd post something here and then go back to work - but I'm finding myself short of inspiration here, as well. Not boding well for getting any work done tonight, I gotta tell ya.

As I look around the sitting room, though, I see dogs sleeping contentedly on every available surface. Yes, dogs are not something we're short of around here, mostly because I have trouble resisting a stray, and my husband really stuggles with it. And I was thinking, that must be the life - no worries about bills or deadlines - just curling up in a warm lap or by a warm fire. Roll over, and somebody scratches your belly. Push a food dish with your nose, or look pitiful, and somebody gives you some food. Yes, that's the life!

Now, I realize that all dogs don't have the pampered life of my dogs, so I am posting a link to click that supports rescue efforts for dogs (and cats) whose lives aren't quite as cushy as our lucky pets. http://www.theanimalrescuesite.com/ If you have a few minutes, please consider clicking - the advertisers donate money for each click!

In the meantime, I'm going to go search for cures for writer's block - wish me luck!


Monday, September 22, 2008

Lemon Verbena

We grew lemon verbena this year at ThistleDew and if you've never grown it, I strongly suggest that you find some for next spring. It has an amazing lemon smell and flavor - I bruise a leaf and add it to a glass of water when I want something other than plain water.

Epicurious has some wonderful recipes using lemon verbena - you can find them here: http://www.epicurious.com/tools/searchresults?search=lemon+verbena. I want to try the custard, and the lobster salad, and berries and lemon verbena cream.... can you tell I'm a bit partial to lemon flavor?

My next project is lemon verbena liqueur. It sounds incredibly simple - just chop some lemon verbena leaves, steep them in vodka and add sugar. Evidently you can use the liqueur in desserts and in selzer water for a light mixed drink. I also think it would be good in hot tea in the winter. I know that a little lemon flavoring goes a long way, so we'll see if this turns out too strong.

Because verbena won't survive the winter outside, I've taken cuttings to winter over in the garage. I'll cut the main plant down to a nub and mulch it heavily - it can't hurt, and maybe it will come back next year. If it doesn't, some of its babies should survive and we can start again next year. If you're in or around East Tennessee, let me know, and I'll start a couple of extra cuttings for you!


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Country of Origin Labeling

Hey, just a quick note encouraging everybody to visit this site: http://action.foodandwaterwatch.org/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=25598 and comment regarding the USDA's Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) rule. Evidently there's a big loophole that needs to be addressed - if an item is deemed "processed" (and they consider roasted nuts a "processed" food) it does not have to comply with the rules.

Of course, ideally, we would all eat locally and raise much of our own food, but I know that that just isn't realistic for everybody. COOL is a step in the right direction, but only if it is stringently applied. So, if you have a minute, visit the website and get more information. Then, if you're so inclined, take action to protect our food supply!


You Might Be An Idiot

Let me just say that I love East Tennessee, and I love the people here. But, just like people all over the world, a certain number of the folks around here occasionally do stupid things. I have learned this in the past year pulling trauma call, and so, with apologies to Jeff Foxworthy, I have composed the following list:

1. If you operate ANY sort of mechanical equipment while inebriated, you might be an idiot.

2. If you operate any motor vehicle while standing up, or on your head, or on one leg, and you are not a stuntman, you might be an idiot.

3. If you find an unlabeled bottle of medication, and you take some of it, "Just to see what it does..." you might be an idiot.

4. If you clean a firearm while rounds are contained ANYWHERE in that firearm, you might be an idiot.

5. If you walk up to the biggest guy in the bar and loudly raise questions about his gender and/or his mama, you might be an idiot.

6. If you tell the bouncer in that bar that he is not the boss of you, you might be an idiot.

7. If you attempt to beat up the police officer who is trying to arrest you for driving drunk, you might be an idiot.

8. If you use mechanical objects intended for metal or woodworking for personal grooming, you might be an idiot.

9. If you put your child on any motorized transport without appropriate safety equipment (i.e. seat belt, helmet) you might be an idiot.

10. If, after an afternoon of drinking, you and some buddies decide to engage in a little rock-climbing (sans safety equipment), you might be an idiot!

Needless to say, on at least one occasion in the past year, one of the above idiots has ensured a sleepless night for me. And, yes, I know it's what I'm there for - I just prefer it when I'm not on the receiving end of someone else's mess. Of course, I always take good care of all of my patients - even the idiots!


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Overnight call

As you may know, I am a nurse anesthesia student. Part of my program requirements involves overnight trauma call, and tonight is my night. I'll go in about 6 p.m. and won't finish 'til nearly 8 in the morning (it is supposed to be 7pm to 7am, but there's some overlap).

I spent most of my career as an intensive care nurse working the night shift, often 60 hours a week, so I am very accustomed to being up (and functional) all night. It seems more difficult now that it isn't my normal routine, though. It's a struggle, sometimes, and we can't have coffee in the operating room, and we can't leave the patient unless another anesthesia provider takes over, so you just have to tough it out.

My class has an assigned call room with a desk, a computer, a bed, a couple of chairs and a television, so if I am not busy I can use that room to rest. Lately, however, call has become a marathon operating room session where you are lucky to get 20 minutes to eat somwhere during the 12+ hours. Sigh.

Weeknight calls are actually worse, because they start at 3:30 p.m. and end at 7 a.m. or so, so it's a 16-hour shift. Again, you're often going the whole time, so it can be rough. Those shifts are really bad when you have to come back in for class the same day - you're just a groggy mess.

Still, some of the most interesting cases I've been involved in have come on a call shift, so they remain a good experience in spite of the fact that it feels like two days are wasted - I have to nap pre-call so I can stay up all night, and I have to nap post-call because I've been up all night. The hard part is trying not to sleep all day post-call, because that ruins your sleep-wake schedule for the upcoming week, when it's back to the normal routine - up before the birds and in to the hospital.

Anyway, folks, here's hoping your weekend is more productive than mine! Stay safe!


Friday, September 19, 2008


Today I am potting some plants that I got for free. Yes, free - I grew them from cuttings! Many plants are easy to grow from cuttings... here at Thistledew we've successfully started coleus, sage, rosemary, lavendar, mint, geraniums, petunia and philodendron from cuttings. And, really, that's just the tip of the iceberg.

I use small glasses or tiny, dollar store vases as cutting starters. I put the freshly-cut plant into the water and see what grows. Try it - you'll be amazed at what will take root. I figure that even if something doesn't take root, it looks pretty in a glass jar on the kitchen windowsill. And if it does root, we plant it!

For more stubborn plants, a jar of rooting hormone costs less than $5 and lasts forever. Or, if you have willow trees nearby (any variety), willow cuttings stimulate root development on other plants, so you can have a rooting medium for free. Just cut some green willow branches and soak them in water - the resulting solution will help your little cuttings get off to a good start!

Our budget doesn't allow much room for plants, so our landscaping next year will consist of plants we've started from seed in early spring (under a grow light in the garage) and plants we've overwintered in the garage and in the house, that can be propagated through cuttings. You really can have beautiful flowers and plants for very little effort - just gather some cuttings and give it a try!


Thursday, September 18, 2008

On hay and horses...

Anybody who has ever been around horses knows that they like to graze. And, when the pasture they're on is insufficient, or when they're stabled, or in the winter, that means hay. And hay, unfortunately, is a commodity that is in rather short supply.

That's what we're facing here on the farm at the moment. Our pasture probably would have been sufficient, except for the fact that we've had drought conditions here two years running. So, the pasture is in rough shape. We can't really afford more fencing at the moment, and so we're making do by feeding supplemental hay.

Unfortunately, hay isn't all that cheap, either, and even if the pasture were in great shape we'd still have to supplement for the winter. So, we're trying to budget for a winter's hay. And, since we don't have sufficient space to store a winter's worth of hay, we're going to have to get creative.

Still, we think we can get by with 16 round bales for the winter. Round bales run $35.00 to $40.00 each here in East Tennessee (I've seen them priced higher, but those folks have effectively priced themselves out of our budget, so we don't even consider them). A winter's hay for $560.00 - with prices for food, electricity, fuel and tuition going up, and our budget at a set level, it might be a little challenging. We'll have to crunch some numbers and see where we can cut back.

Hmmm - maybe I'll cut out pedicures.... oh, wait - I don't GET pedicures. So, that won't work. I guess there'll be beans and macaroni on the table quite a bit this winter! Anybody have any good recipes? Here's to bean soup!


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Black Gold, Tennessee-style

No, I don't mean oil - I mean compost! Compost is decomposed organic matter, and if there's one thing this farm has plenty of, it's organic matter in various stages of decomposition! In fact, the horses and the chickens seem to be in a race to produce organic matter. So much organic matter that we're hauling it away by the wheelbarrow-load! So, why not capitalize on that fact?

There are many alternatives for making compost; you could purchase a composter (http://www.naturemill.com/, www.gardeners.com/Composters/ ), build a composter (http://www.wikihow.com/Build-a-Tumbling-Composter ) or just use a simple pile method (http://www.compostguide.com/). Here at Thistledew we use the pile method with great success.

If you don't have livestock producing raw materials for you at your house, you can still have compost. Leaves, grass clippings, coffee grounds, leftover fruit and vegetables, peelings and eggshells will all work beautifully. At our house, the chickens get first dibs on scraps (the dogs get any meat - which doesn't go to waste often, poor dogs!), and anything they won't eat gets buried in the pile. When I clean the chicken coop, the soiled bedding goes into the pile. Likewise for the horse debris. I also throw old hay or straw, shredded paper and old coffee grounds in there.

Periodically, (every couple of weeks, or so) I soak the pile down with the hose and give it a few turns with the pitchfork. I find the pile easier to turn after I wet it, but your mileage may vary on that. Seriously - that's it. It really is that simple to make a fabulous soil conditioner and reduce the amount of garbage that ends up in a landfill somewhere. It's SOOO easy being green!

So, when my dear husband asks me what I want for Christmas this year, here's the answer! Because I'm really getting sick of looking at the coffee can I'm using now!


Fall is in the air!

I am so eager for fall to arrive this year that I almost can't stand it! I want to pick apples, and wear sweaters, and drink hot chocolate (yes, I know I could drink hot chocolate now, but it tastes better in the fall!), and build a fire, and wear fuzzy socks, and hike among the red-orange trees on the trails behind the farm.

Well, today I could feel a hint of fall in the air on my tiny corner of Thistledew Farm. The air had a crisp coolness about it that made me just want to go lie in a hammock and take a nap outside. I wanted to bathe in that crisp, cool air! If I didn't have to be up at 0500 tomorrow morning, I would spend the night out there - imagine how good that would feel!

I know that the winter that follows this fall will be brutal, and difficult for me to handle, and I know that I will be whiny and exhausted and sad on those long days with no sunshine, but this year I want fall to come. And I want it now! :)

I think I'm going to go make some Caramel Apple Bars and unpack my winter clothes. Fall is on the way!


Monday, September 15, 2008

Rooster's End

Last Christmas, when my husband asked me what I wanted as a gift, I answered (naturally!) that I wanted a flock of chickens. "Can't I just go to the jewelry store like the other guys??" I told him to quit whining - we have a farm and a farm needs chickens! So, we found a few birds on Craigslist and set about building a shelter for them.

The first chicken shelter was horrible. It consisted of some PVC pipe arched over and covered with poultry wire. I'm pretty sure the local fox population thought of it as a takeout container. Something had to be done, and a determined search led us to a chicken coop built by an older farmer - all we had to do was go and pick it up. We did so, and along with that came 3 more hens. Now I had 8 birds, three of whom began crowing, thus destroying my dreams of 6-8 eggs per day. But, I like the sound of a rooster crowing, so all was not lost, until one of the nasty little things began attacking our legs.

This left me with a dilemma... getting rid of the rooster meant dumping an aggressive animal on somebody else, which I was loath to do. And turning him loose meant he could attack visitors. Again, that wouldn't work. As a responsible bird owner, I had to rehabilitate him or put an end to him. So, we tried paying lots of attention to the bird, but he still attacked anyone who went in with his hens. I found homes for the two friendly roosters, but the last one had to be dealt with.

I put it off for weeks, until finally I went in among the hens to clean the water container. The rooster attacked me, and broke the skin. I still have a mark, and if it had been a child, the rooster could have put an eye out. That very day the rooster went into the soup pot, and just last week we had another stewed chicken. I don't like it, but it's part of keeping livestock.

As to the deed itself? Let me just say that if I had to do that everyday, we would eat significantly less meat around this house. But, there's something to be said for getting your hands dirty and actively participating in every stage of the process. Chickens are the perfect homestead animal - they turn table scraps and grain into eggs and meat very efficiently. For my part, though, I prefer the eggs!


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Crockpot Fruit Butter

I discovered, quite by accident, that you can cook wonderful fruit butters in your slow cooker. It all started when Melissa (she's such an instigator) and our friend DeeDee suggested that we stop by a local produce stand. They had large baskets of slightly bruised peaches on sale, and we couldn't resist - we brought a basket home.

The car, which had warmed up sitting in the sun while we shopped, took on a wonderful summery aroma of fresh peach, and we basked in nature's aromatherapy all the way home, only to realize on our arrival that it was already 6 p.m., nobody had done anything about dinner and now we had forty pounds of peaches to deal with! Peaches, as you all know, are very perishable, and they spoil almost while you watch. Ack!

Being resourceful women, we threw together a quick meal and set about dealing with the peaches. The very best went into the freezer and the dehydrator, but the bruised, marginal ones (which were still very edible) needed a home. I stumbled across a recipe for Apple Butter and we decided to see if it worked with peaches, as well. But, we simplified the recipe - we filled the slow cooker with peeled, sliced peaches and added 1 cup of brown sugar and let it cook overnight.

The next morning, I put a batch of biscuits in the oven (and they were freezer biscuits - don't be a hater, I can't make biscuits to save my life!) and we breakfasted on hot biscuits slathered with warm peach butter. Nirvana, I tell you - it was fabulous! We immediately went and bought more peaches, because that peach butter was the best thing I think I've eaten in years. It tasted like a summer day, and there are twelve pints in the freezer for those cold winter days when you just need a touch of summer. We used 1/2 cup of it later in the week as a marinade for a pork roast, and really, pork and fruit go together like peas and carrots. Twelve pints might not be enough!

It's almost apple-picking time, so we'll be trying apple butter, and I might get really bold and try mango butter one of these days. If so, I'll post the results. In the meantime, if you have some late-season peaches, get out the slow clooker! You won't regret it!


Post, The First....

Welcome to the Internet home of Clay Hill Farm (a tiny division of Thistledew Farm). We are a collaboration between two familes who are looking for a more self-reliant, somewhat simpler way of life. Okay, I guess I should be a little more honest - the women in the family are seeking simplicity and self-reliance... the men involved are not altogether convinced that it's a good idea!

The women involved are Melissa and Terri; we are married to brothers and we drag one another through all sorts of wonderful, zany adventures, usually prefaced by the statement, "We could do THAT!" Those are dangerous words, though, and on more than one occasion we've ended the day up to our elbows in paraffin, or dried herbs, or potting soil, with no clue as to what to do next! But we always prevail in the end, or at least we pretend that we do, and we come out wiser and stronger for the experience.

I am Terri; I am a graduate student (in Nurse Anesthesia), and a wife and mother of three sons. I enjoy cooking, gardening, sewing, hiking, running, reading, horses, chocolate and good red wine. This blog will, at times, discuss all of the above, and is a sister blog to the Thistledew site. So, you can read about Melissa's perspective on her blog and about mine on this one. Just to keep things interesting (and because we can't keep our hands out of one another's projects), I will occasionally post over at Thistledew & Melissa will occasionally post here.

So, stop by anytime - the door is always open and I'll put the coffee on!