Raised in a Barn…

Day-to-Day Life of a Country Mama

Picking Dandelions

I noticed there were a good number of dandelion blooms in our yard. I figured it was time to start thinking about making dandelion jelly again. 

I didn’t think we would get near enough on one round of picking so I looked up the recipe. Since it calls for making a tea from the flower petals and then using the tea to make the jelly, I think I’ll be able to make a batch of tea and freeze it for a week or two until we can make another batch to make up the needed amount. 

Yesterday, after the girls woke up from their nap and I checked the recipe, we bundled up since the wind was cool and headed out. I carried a container for the flowers and pulled Caroline in a wagon. Savannah and I started on one side of the yard and systematically worked our way around the house. Travis was even able to join us for a while. Savannah had so much fun spotting and picking the flowers. She was very proud to carry the container in to show Travis how many we had once we were done. This really was a great activity to share with her at this age (3 years old). 

Later, I separated the yellow petals from the green parts with help from Travis. We probably ended up with a cup and a half. (We need 4 cups for a full batch.) Right before bed, I poured boiling water over the flower petals in a metal mixing bowl so it could steep over night per recipe suggestion. I look forward to us doing this again to get our full amount. 


Washer Drainage

We recently had a problem with our washing machine’s drainage leaking in the basement. The way my grandpa routed it when he built the house is complicated. Instead of trying to figure out how to reach the section that was leaking, we decided to change the drainage completely. 

Travis found a blog showing how someone connected the drain hose of their washer to a garden hose. He switched it over for me and now we can connect up hoses to run the water to whatever needs it. It’s going to be a lot more useful than a fixed drainage line. 

This is a great way to conserve water. It is also one of the easiest adaptions I have seen for reusing gray water. Remember to consider what washing agents you are using before using this system though. Below is the link (hopefully I did it right)! 

Garden Update

Here is one big update on the garden. The starts are still thriving in my window, and I hope to be transplanting them in a few more weeks. The broccoli starts I moved outside are still alive, but not doing much. I may try working some compost in around them in case they just need added nutrients. 

I’ve planted carrots, spinach, leeks, corn and sunflowers in the garden so far. I can’t wait to see sprouts coming up. We are just passing our estimated last frost date. That means I’ll be waiting a little longer to plant a few varieties. I salvaged a cedar post and have set it to grow beans on. It was the right height for fencing, but tapered down too narrow. I’m hoping to collect some more as Papa works to clear some brush on the farm. 

The peach trees are beginning to bud as well as the new rose bushes! (I was so relieved.) A little longer and I will be setting my hanging plants and banana tree back out. Still lots to do, but we’re making progress!

Tree Onions 

I recently read a booklet I have on onion varieties and growing them. I have learned that the varieties you grow from seed can be difficult. Sometimes you can grow seeds to sets (small onions) the first year and plant the sets the second year to grow into mature onions. In addition, seed collection can sometimes be difficult if I’m not mistaken. 

This booklet has introduced me to a variety I didn’t know about and am now searching for. It is called a tree onion. A bulb is planted and it sends a stalk up, which in turn yeilds onions. One of these onions from the stalk can be saved and planted next year to grow more. 

I’m really excited to try growing these onions. They may be my answer to my hopeless battle with growing onions from seeds. If you know about this variety or where to find them, please comment! I’d love to hear from you. 

Spring Cleaning

As usual, a good part of this March has been spent spring cleaning. I went through the baby clothes we’re storing and thinned out our supply a little. My brother and his wife just welcomed their fourth child, a little girl, so I am letting them pick through it before I pass it on to some other friends and finally to the thrift store. I’ve already hauled off a load from Travis and I sorting through our closets. 

This was all making room so we could reposition some furniture downstairs. Many would probably say I’m over-planning because we did this now so we will have readily available space for bunk beds. Once the girls get a bit older, they will get to move into the basement room. The consolidation and furniture shift really made a difference. 

One way I was cut down one storage space was putting the baby clothes we kept in vacuum storage bags. I only had four, but they handled helping me fit the clothes Caroline has already outgrown in the space I needed them in. I’m hoping to get some more for the next sizes. 

Spring cleaning will probably continue through the end of March here and there. Good luck to all the others fighting the battle!

Bread Trouble

I have tried and tried and tried on my bread, but the middle always ends up with a big air bubble surrounded by a doughy border. The rest is great, but at best I loose a third to half my loaf to it. I am beginning to wonder if I’m still not working enough flour into it due to rushing. It takes a lot longer than the 10 minutes my grandma’s recipe states to bake so this is my best guess. I’m thinking the dough is too heavy and not kneaded properly, which is leading it to bake improperly. Do y’all have any suggestions?

Broccoli Starts

I put out a handful of my broccoli starts last Sunday. They seem to have quit growing inside and the weather has been a bit warmer so I thought transplanting was worth a try. I planted them deep enough to bury some of the spindly stem. 

Since the nights are still too cold for them, I cut the tops off of rinsed bottles from our recycles and push them into the soil over the starts. I also layered some mulch around them to help keep moisture and warmth in the ground around them. When it is warm, I pull the covers off to keep them from getting baked. 

So far they have survived, but I haven’t seen any ratical growth either. If they all survive and thrive, I’ll have to space them out more. Hopefully this change helps them along. 

Baking Away

Between observing the spring Holy Days where I unleaven our home and all of my yeast expiring soon, I decided to forgo buying a loaf to see us through and make bread instead. I should have enough in the works to make one small loaf of white, dinner rolls, and an experimental small honey wheat loaf. I had trouble with one round of yeast; I’m glad I have plenty on hand! I’m still learning with this, which makes the bread’s quality hit and miss. Maybe eventually I’ll turn out a good loaf on a regular basis. 

Extra Greens

I am endlessly excited when I find a way to sneak more nutrients into what Savannah is willing to eat. Like most 3 year olds, she has her picky times. Just because she ate something before doesn’t mean it won’t be a small fight to get her to eat it again. 

I have been known to sneak things into her applesauce (something she likes on a frequent basis) that increase the flavor and nutrients of it. Crushed fruit-flavored daily supplements and powdered probiotics have been going over good. Now I’ve found another one: DōTERRA TerraGreens. It’s a great blend of fruit and vegetable supplements with a tropical flavor. 

I wasn’t sure if she would go for it, but she’s had it a few times this week and has liked it each time! I’ve even given some to Caroline and she’s liked it too. (Of course, she isn’t all that picky right now.) I’m glad that all three of us are enjoying this together. It never hurts to work in some extra good stuff! 

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