Raised in a Barn…

Day-to-Day Life of a Country Mama

Sewn Bag

I’m making a bag for my niece (which is turning out a little nicer than the one I’ve made for my nephew). I am repurposing the material below which has a slight batting already quilted to it. It looks like it might have been a quilted table cloth at some point before I got it.

I cut the material to a little bigger than the size I wanted the bag. I sewed on a jeans pocket I had salvaged from a ruined pair of jeans. I cut a lining material to match. I decided to sew the lining and material together before forming the bag. I stitched them together along the perimeter and diagonally across the front to support the pocket.

Next, it was time to form the bag. I hemmed what would become the top first, folding over about a quarter inch of the edge. Then I folded the long strip in half with the lining facing out and sewed along the sides of the bag.

When I turned it right-side-out, the body of the bag was finished, as you can see below. Next task was to finish it by adding a strap.

I cut a strip of denim two inches longer and almost three times wider than the strap I wanted to end with. I ironed it flat, then ironed a folded edge of a half inch on each king side. I then ironed the strip in half so the folded edges overlaid each other and pinned them together. I sewed the folded edges together to make the strap and sewed along the opposite side to help it hold its form.

I attached the strap by zigzag stitching the bottom of the strap an inch below the top hem of the bag. (This kept me from having the hem the bottoms of the strap.) I also zigzag stitched along the top of the hem and over the strap all along the top. This reinforced the hem and strap together. My niece is three years old, so I tried to make the bag to endure the abuse it will soon see.

The resulting bag is lightweight, but should be durable. I’m really happy with the material I used and the denim accents. Hopefully she likes it and gets a lot of use from it!

Sprouting Hopes

I am starting seeds on some plants I plan to grow in pots and move into the greenhouse as the weather cools down. I planted a tray with tomatoes, basil, stevia, cilantro, sage, and two varieties of peppers. Above is a photo of my sprouts a couple weeks ago. Since then the tomatoes and bell peppers have grown, but the others have been chewed off. I don’t know if any that have leaves will bounce back or not.

I moved the tomatoes and peppers to larger pots and hope to watch them closer for insect damage. If the others don’t show any promise, I’ll replant the same varieties to see how they fair. I will also be sprouting lettuce to grow. I’m excited to try out the greenhouse!

Cucumber Juice

Since we have so many cucumbers growing, I’ve experimented a bit. A new way I am enjoying them now is as juice. This method is similar to something I found online minus the sugar. I peel three large cucumbers and chop them up (seeds left in). The chopped pieces go into the blender to become puréed. I add a little water to make it blend easier. The purée goes into a jelly cloth or bag and I squeeze all the juice out. I strain it a second time as I pour it into a jar and add a splash of lemon juice and salt to taste.

This usually yields only about a pint of juice, but (since I’m the only one in my family that likes it) it’s enough for me to enjoy a cool drink in the afternoons and have a break from the large amounts of water that a breastfeeding mama has to drink. I think it would also be a good base for a mixed drink if someone was so inclined – vodka perhaps. I hope you enjoy this refreshing summer drink!

Popcorn Harvest

The ears of the strawberry corn had all gone brown so it was time to harvest it. The biggest ears are 3 to 4 inches long. As you can see bellow, the kernels are a rich strawberry color (hence the name). I had the girls and their cousins shuck it.

Now that the ears have been shucked, they will have to dry for several weeks. After that we can shell the kernels. We will store them in an air tight container. I’ll probably try popping them both in the air popper and on the stove top to see which works best with it. The kids are anxiously awaiting getting to try it and see if the kernels pop up white or strawberry colored. I’m pretty excited myself! I hope you have your own blessed harvest.

Baby Food

I had several small butternut squash grow before bugs killed the plants. I decided to put most of them up as baby food. I cooked them and the carrots below in crockpots to keep the house cooler. The squash was cut in half, seeds scraped out, but unpeeled so I could scoop the flesh out once it was tender.

I let the squash cool to a tolerable handling temperature and scooped out the flesh. It went into a blender along with the cooked carrots and puréed with a bit of water. From here I poured the mixture into a silicon mold and froze it.

Now it’s bagged in the freezer and ready to go when needed.

Grape Thinning

The grapevines had gotten unruly again so I went through and thinned them. I kept a handful of the thinned sections to try rooting again. My last trial of this failed because the starts died once I put them in dirt. Hopefully I’ll be able to watch the watering of this new round closer and have them survive. The vines outside are still doing well, except that one of my previously chosen branches broke in a windstorm. I had to keep a new branch from near the bottom. The last estimated frost date for our area is October 10th. I don’t know how well established the branch will be by then, but there’s not much I can do about it. Here’s hoping all goes well!

Selling Off

With me not able to help, my folks were handling feeding the heifers Hope (the bottle calf) and Anne. It became too much work on top of several other things they had going on and it was decided to sell them. They were both now old enough to do without milk so they would be easier to sell. We had talked about keeping them to breed since they were out of our last bull Elvis. It was disappointing to see them go, but it made things simpler than figuring out where to keep them separate until they were old enough to breed. With our operation being small, we keep our bull with the herd so we were looking at over a year and a half of keeping the heifers isolated.

Papa’s cow unloaded after making the return trip from the vet.

At the same time the heifers were going to market, Papa set up for two older cows to have pregnancy tests: one of Papa’s and the other my oldest cow Belle. We weren’t sure if they were open (not pregnant) or if they were simply due later than usual. Papa’s cow was pregnant and came home; my Belle was open and most likely had gotten too old to breed. She was dropped off with the heifers at the sale barn.

I hated to see them go, but such decisions have to be made at times on a farm. I knew that Savannah and Caroline would miss getting to go feed the heifers. They took the news in stride that the heifers would be sold and happily enjoyed the last couple of days feeding. I’m proud of them.

Corn Harvest

Travis and the girls harvested the first planting of corn. We’re eating some fresh and I’ve canned the rest. They husked what was set aside to can, then Travis cut it all off the cob. It filled up several large containers.

I prepared pint jars and lids. I decided to stick with pints for this variety of corn because last year’s quarts of it caramelized due to the sugar content and the longer cooking time. (This doesn’t really hurt anything, but the pints turned out prettier.) I went with a raw pack, which means I put raw cut kernels into the prepared jars with a half teaspoon of salt (leaving an inch of headspace) and ladled boiling water into the jar.

After adding prepared lids and rings, I set the jars into the boiling water of the pressure canner. I closed the lid and waited for the steam through the top. When it was steaming good, I timed ten minutes and then added the regulator. Next the lock popped up and I waited for the regulator to start rocking. I adjusted the burner down to where the regulator rocked gently and consistently. It processed this way for 55 minutes.

Once the time was done, I turned the burner off and moved the canner to a cool burner. After a bit the lock dropped and no steam escaped the regulator when I tipped it so I was able to take it off. After 10 more minutes it was safe to remove the lid. Then I took the jars out and placed them on a cooling rack under a towel. The towel keeps the jars from cooling too quickly and breaking.

I processed two batches equaling in 14 pints. Two of my jars didn’t seal. I promptly reprocessed them with fresh lids. This can safely be done within the first 24 hours of the first processing. It took a day with everything else going on, but I was glad to have the corn canned. I always recommend having a Ball Blue Book for canning recipes. Have a blessed day and good luck with your own canning!

Fall Planting

We’re keeping the fall planting pretty simple. We’re trying a second planting of potatoes. One of our gardening friends has told us that he was never able to get a second planting in. Our growing season in the hills may be too short, but we’ve already got them in the ground so we’ll ride it out.

Travis and the girls planted corn last month. It sprouted quick as usual and is growing good, in spite of the grasshoppers chewing on it. The patch is smaller than our first harvest. It should be coming to maturity in October if all goes well. I was given pumpkin seed by our neighbor and decided to plant just a couple. It’s my first time growing pumpkins! This variety is a pie pumpkin. I’m excited about the new addition. Good luck with your own fall plantings!

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