These Days

Lately, our days have fallen into a regular routine. Gerald and Ramona work on the siding M – F. Harland is in the field harvesting corn every day. I go to work M – F in town as a customer service rep. There’s the regular cooking, cleaning, shopping going on of course. Kitty and Muffy have their regular schedules of eating, sleeping, grooming, and playing.

“Where’s Waldo?”

Where's Waldo?

“Huh? I’m Muffy.”

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“It’s just an expression.”

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“A what?”

“Nevermind dear.”

The temperatures have finally dropped from the scorching triple digits down to highs only in the 70s. We’ve had the windows open for the last few days. Last night I lay in bed listening to a pack of coyotes conversing (yip yip howling) out in the darkness.

Just look how cool it was Saturday morning:

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And look how warm it was in the house…we didn’t even turn the heat on, just closed the windows. Of course the ground is still very warm radiating up from the floor and basement. But in the past (pre-insulation and siding) the temp in our house would have been much cooler. I can’t wait to see what our house feels like this winter. Give me your 30mph north winds with a low of 20 below and wind chills of 30 below. I’m gonna laugh in your face, old man winter…

With the cooler temps, I’ve been doing some baking. I made a peach crumble over the weekend and 2 loaves of white bread. I make my white bread from a Betty Crocker cinnamon raisin bread recipe. I just omit the raisins and sugar/cinnamon filling. The rest of the recipe makes perfect white bread. Of course, when I want cinnamon raisin bread I make the recipe as is. It’s delish.

Once a week we go down to the summer pasture to check the cattle and bring them salt/mineral. It’s beautiful there. A wide quiet windy place of grasses, flowers, and prairie birds.

We breathe it all in for a few minutes.

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And take the occasional selfie:

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But there’s work to be done at home, so we don’t linger too long. In the next couple months, we’ll be bringing the cattle herd home again.

The only thing left in the garden is the tomatoes and they have slowed somewhat with the cooler weather. We water them a couple times a week, and pick tomatoes every few days. We eat them with supper every night. Over the weekend made tomato sauce for the first time ever. We had about 30 – 40lbs of tomatoes backlogged that were going to go bad if I didn’t do something with them.

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I found a site online that gave simple instructions and got down to work washing, peeling, coring, and slicing.

I had help of course:

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Kitty was goggle-eyed over so much tomato bounty.

“You’re not really going to eat all those yourself, are you?”

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“Seriously, you can’t give me just one?”

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After the tomatoes were boiled down for several hours, cooled, put into the blender, back into the boiling pot, and canned up in jars, I was exhausted, and really tired of tomatoes. We only got six quarts.

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Seems like a lot of work. But it was the first time out for me, next time will go faster I’m sure. And of course, it’s always satisfying to put up your own produce.

This past Saturday, I was up at the farm pottering around in the old farmhouse while Harland worked out in one of the grain bins emptying the corn out. He had harvested it in the last week or so, put it into the bin and run the drier, and was now emptying it back out again to make room for more corn needing to be dried.

Over and over, he emptied the bin into the grain wagon until it was full, then emptied the wagon into the grain truck.

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When the corn got low in the bin, he put in a sweep auger into the bin to get the rest out. He lay it on the floor of the bin, turned it on, and then watched as it augered the grain toward the center dump hole (I’m sure that’s not the right terminology, but you’ll have to bear with me). Other augers under and  on the outside of the bin transported the corn into the waiting grain cart. Occasionally, he pushed the auger a foot or two in a circular pattern around the bin to get the corn all out.

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For a while, I helped by keeping an eye on the grain cart to make sure it didn’t overflow. I’ll have a video soon that shows all this, it’s really a pretty neat process to watch.

We recently bought a half of pork and it is being cut up to our specifications this week. It will be ready for pick up this Saturday. I’m excited! We’ve got plenty of beef in our deep freezes, but we’ve never gotten a pork before. I need to do some organizing in our deep freezes before then to make room. We have three of them in the basement with all our beef and garden produce. I’m dreaming of pork roasts, bacon, ribs, pork chops, sausages…mmmmm… I could never be a vegetarian. Sometimes when I’m in the basement, I open one of the freezers just to gaze lovingly at all the steaks and roasts. I’m a shameless carnivore.

We finally got some rain last week, about a half inch. I asked Harland if it would do the soybeans any good and he said it would some. But the heat and drought did its work. We won’t know until we take the combine into the field to harvest the beans, but we aren’t expecting a bumper crop. Beans shut down when there isn’t enough moisture, which affects the number of bean pods that are filled out and the size of the beans themselves. Fewer smaller beans = less profit. Time will tell and we’ll know here in a few weeks.

Finally here’s a couple gratuitous pics of you-know-who. Last night he was looking very regal.

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He’s getting so big on us. He’s over 10 pounds now, and his fur just keeps growing and growing, particularly around his neck, like a lion’s mane. He’s a young man now.

“Oh. But I’m still your little boy aren’t I?”

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“Oh Muffaloo, in our hearts, you’ll always be that little kitten we rescued from a barn in Missouri. We love how much joy and companionship, both for Kitty and us, you’ve brought into our little world. But everyone has to grow up.”

“Ok, I see. But you’ll love me no matter how big I get?”

“Of course dear.”

I’ll be back soon with that grain video I promised you, and another update on the house. Have a great week all!

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

21 comments to These Days

  • Vicki

    I always enjoy your lovely posts.Nothng will ever top the essay on Miss Tadpole.

    Thank you.

  • Alice

    Great post. Thank you. I hope your winter isn’t too bad…you may be tempting fate with your challenges. hahaha
    You said you were puttering around the old farmhouse. What old farmhouse? Have you ever shared pictures of it? I love old houses (yours included). Are there interesting old things left behind? (to photograph)

    • Suzanne

      The “farmhouse” is the house where Harland grew up. It’s a 2 storey brick house with huge rooms. The design is what is known as an American foursquare. I don’t think I’ve ever posted a pic.It’s much too large for us. It has no insulation, no central air or heat, it needs new plumbing and wiring and a new roof(it’s leaking). There are mice and brown recluse spiders there…and bats. I love old houses, but the only thing that can be said about this one is that it is big. Doesn’t have much character. It was cleaned out (mostly) after my MIL passed about a year and a half ago now(she hadn’t lived there for several years). It would be more convenient to live there, but we’re not interested. Harland spent his childhood there freezing to death in winter or roasting like a chicken in summer. They heated with wood then, but there was no heat upstairs, and in summer, he moved his bedroom to the basement where it was cooler so he could sleep. It and the rest of the farm are about a mile from where we live. Lately, we’ve been finishing up cleaning it out.

  • Mary in Idaho

    What an enjoyable update of the happenings in your life. You are one busy lady for a M-F working woman too! Your tomato sauce accomlishment was huge in my book. I used to can lots of our bounty so appreciate how much work went in to those six quarts. I’m with Alice. Have we seen pictures of the old farmhouse? So happy to hear you are already enjoying the indoor comfort of all that work on insulation and siding. I’m sure your furry little people will still search out a sunbeam in the winter.

  • Rebecca

    I really enjoyed our “visit” this week!
    I’m almost as excited as you to see how well your winter goes.
    Florida hugs,
    Becca

  • When I have a surfeit of tomatoes I just freeze them whole. You end up with bags of red billiard balls in the freezer. (put them on a tray, let them freeze, then they are free flow) it’s easy easy easy.
    They are mushy when thawed of course, but that’s fine if you are cooking. To get rid of the skinsjust toss the frozen billiard ball into a bowl of water. The skin thaws within a minute and will just rub off or fall off – no effort!

    • Suzanne

      gosh that sounds sinfully easy. I will try that next time. I could save up tomatoes that way and then make a huge batch that would yield more quarts. Thanks Kerry!

  • Fabulous update; thanks for sharing. That kitten is HUGE !~! And so handsome. Muffalo-big like a Buffalo. Love that nickname.

    Your tomato bounty is gorgeous, but yes, it does seem like a lot of work for six quarts of sauce…. I love Kerry Hand’s advice about freezing them when the chips are down.

    The siding cannot help but increase the warmth inside. I’m so happy for you. Thank you for the pictures of the corn silo; I see photos of slices of life here thru your Window that I wouldn’t see Ever if not for you. My gratitude is immense; my parents’ families are Mid-Westerners and I am not so it really is wonderfully educational to see how they lived thru your farm.

  • There’s so much here to love: kitties and corn, the warmth of your tomato sauce and the indications of warmth-to-come for the house in winter. Whether corn or tomatoes, there’s something about harvest that is thrilling. Even the soybeans will provide their bit of excitement, even if it’s not a bumper crop. I always think of the line from the old hymn: ‘All is safely gathered in, ‘ere the winter storms begin.” It’s deeply satisfying — especially so for you, I’ll bet!

    • Suzanne

      Very True. We always have a huge exhale when the last field is cut in the fall. We don’t even realize we’ve been holding our breaths all year since the crops were planted in the spring.

  • How old is the old farmhouse? Will anyone err live there again?

    Katie

    • Suzanne

      It was built around the turn of the century, but no, sadly no one will ever live there again. For one thing, there’s no way to insulate it. It has a brick facing, with the interior of the walls being constructed of hollow partition tile, which has little or no R insulation factor, ie, it’s impossible to heat/cool the house. Back then when the house was first built, they heated it with coal which was cheap and gave off a ton of heat.

  • I truly understand why it will disappear but am still sad. I wouldn’t want to live in it either. I belong to the National Trust for Historic Preservation which is always trying to rescue historic homes like this. It could be made livable but at a big cost. Because it is over 100 years old there is a lot of “stuff ” you are not required to do; however, the cost of making it livable is daunting. It is still a shame to lose a part of the areas history–there is no winner.

  • Tina

    So nice to read your posts. I am grateful you have allowed us a peek into your world. I love it! I only follow about 6 blogs but yours is by far my favorite. I love your cats, husband and sense of humor. You will be so toasty this Winter and all the work will be so worth it. So nice of your brother and sister in law to help out, that’s alot of work. Speaking of work that’s why I quit canning! It was hot ,tiring work and my yield was small as well. But a friend of mine just put up her tomatoes and got a huge bunch of marinara sauce, just this morning. Thanks to Harland too for the look in the grain bin, as a city girl I have never seen the inside of one and wondered how they worked. Silly I know! Take care, and have a great week. Lots of prayers to you and yours!

  • Maegan

    Another option for tomato sauce is using a food mill with a fine mesh. Just cook the tomatoes for a bit and then put them through the mill, it’ll remove seeds and skins and push the sauce out the other side. Sooo much easier than peeling and seeding all those tomatoes if you’re going for a puree in the end. I use mine quite a bit for apple sauce, apple butter and peach butter as well.

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