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Pure and Natural Honey

 

We are very particular about what our honeybees feed on because it winds up in the honey. We live in an area where there is not any row crop farming so there really is no pesticide used in their feeding areas. Bees will travel a few miles to get pollen and nectar so we try to stay informed about what the neighbors are using.

The clarity of the honey as well as the flavor will vary greatly depending on what they were working on during the nectar flow. We are proactive with this and have a lot of blackberries and trees and garden plants around for them to work on. We don’t use any sprays on those plants so there is no chance of harming the bees or tainting the honey.
It’s an easy choice to loose a plant to squash bugs even though we know if we sprayed it we might save the plant, because we are keeping the honey pure for everyone who buys it.

Keeping the bees healthy and the honey pure is extremely important to us! We use no sprays or synthetic inputs of any kind ever because we want the best for our family and yours!

We would love to have you sign up to our mailing list and when we have honey or produce available we will let you know.

Work hard.
Have fun.
Make a difference!

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Seeing is Believing

I planted some sudangrass this spring after harvesting the ryegrass crop for hay around mid May. I used a no-till drill and planted the seed right in the existing stubble without tilling the ground. Since we baled the ryegrass the soil was really bare and we got a good rain a couple days after planting so I was all set for a harvest in about 60 days yay!

Sudangrass thrives in Oklahoma summer heat and we received timely rains totaling over 9 inches on that crop. I was scheduled for harvest shortly after July 4 holiday but as I kept checking the crop over the weeks I noticed it wasn’t growing very well and despite the good rains the ground was really dry? There was one area where the soil is a different type and it has a swag that catches a lot of runoff water that was thick and dark green and really growing on schedule but that was just a few acres. The rest of the 40 acre patch looked really anemic and I was not sure why.


This is what I’m talking about. This is going on 90 days of age and harvest (which would be around 4 feet tall) should have happened at about 60 days of age.

As I looked through the field I found one small area where the grass was taller than my head.

If you look closely you can see a small skip in the center between the tall stalks. This was a bit of loose hay laying on the ground, leftover crop residue from the previous harvest. Look at the difference in height! 6 to 8 feet around the residue and 2 feet max in the rest of the field.

I started reading some of OK States research about no-till practices and found out that the leftover crop residue not only shades the soil to conserve water but it lowers the ground temp as well. It’s not uncommon for bare Oklahoma soils to reach 100 degrees in summer, but soil with residue will usually be 20% cooler. The residue turns to organic matter building the quality of the soil and it breaks the energy of rainfall. Think of power washing something verses a soft spray to wet it. These factors all contribute to less erosion and more water held in the soil to to meet the plants needs. No-till also requires less field work so less inputs and wear and tear on the equipment and your pocketbook.

Here is a picture of corn planted in wheat residue to give you a better idea of what we are trying to accomplish.

I really enjoy being able to access quality research from a top notch school for free and figure out why things work the way they do. I think I’m going to take a serious look at no-till farming practices. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Work hard.
Have fun.
Make a difference!

Oh and Go Pokes!

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Great Food Brick Oven Style

Saturdays are great days to cook on the wood oven and I never have any trouble getting everyone gathered around the table to eat it. Today we made more roasted tomatoes for the freezer because my vines just keep producing yay! While I had the oven hot I decided to make pizza for lunch. If you haven’t had a pizza cooked right on the floor of a wood fired oven it’s absolutely the best! The last time I cooked pizza we made some extra dough balls and froze them. I thawed them a couple hours before cooking time and this takes a lot of the work out of making pizza and they taste great.

I decided to make these pizzas without any sauce and just cut up some fresh tomatoes and roast them on the top.

Here it is ready to go in.

Look at those coals!

Shooting the hearth before the pizza went in was 442 degrees. The dome was about 600 and the pizza will fully cook in about 2 to 3 minutes.

Almost done can you smell it?

For dessert I made a s’more on a regular pizza dough.

Browning nice.

Perfect!

Add the graham crackers and enjoy. I really enjoy the back porch and being outside to cook on a gorgeous day.

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Make a difference!

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Preserving Tomatoes the Easy Way

I love home grown tomatoes and I always tend to plant too many. This has been a great year for tomatoes in our garden which is fantastic but now we are getting way more than we can eat. Here is the harvest from one day of picking.

I have always canned them in the past but that can be a really long process. This year I decided to freeze them. We really enjoy making salsa and pasta sauce and we usually buy crushed tomatoes for that. If you really want a good sauce make it out of fresh tomatoes and it is really tasty. I planted a bunch of Roma plants this year. I like the Roma variety for sauces because they really don’t have much of a core and they are really meaty.

Here is a regular slicer tomato with its large core that needs to be removed.

Here is a Roma which hardly has a core at all, this makes prepping a breeze.

Our favorite way to make sauces is out of roasted tomatoes so I fired up the wood oven to char mine before I froze them.

You can do this in your regular oven broiler as well. Basically just wash the tomatoes and remove any bad spots or cores, place them close to the flame and let them char a bit. The wood oven gives a bit of a smokey taste that we really like.

Mmm mmm! Can you smell that? The whole house smells that way now.

I put mine in a bowl to cool while I roasted another batch then put them in serving size ziplock bags to freeze.

We’ll really be able to enjoy this harvest for a few extra months and that salsa is going to be delicious!

Work hard.
Have fun.
Make a difference!

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D.I.Y. Back Yard Oasis Part 2

After building the fireplace I decided to put in a covered porch with stained concrete floor. I like the rugged look of 6×6 poles so I used those for the supports and went with a tin roof to tie it in with the new fence.

Here is a look with the tin on before I put the sides up.

Here are the guys pouring the floor. I hired that part done because I’m not skilled or equipped enough to do that.

I stained the floor myself, there are a lot of good videos about how to do this. I watched a few of them and its really easy on new concrete

I added an outdoor ceiling fan and a light under the porch.

I finished the porch last fall and sitting by the fire on a cool evening with a s’more on a graham cracker is pretty hard to beat!

It’s really nice for family time or entertaining friends. If you are thinking about and outdoor area I would highly recommend it. You could even do it in stages to spread out the costs and still enjoy each piece of it along the way.

Stay tuned for the fence and finished product pictures.

Happy trails.

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D.I.Y. Back Yard Oasis

This is the first in a three part series on how I transformed our back patio into a functional inviting and peaceful extension to our living area.

Whether you want to cook or sit by the fire or swim or relax in the shade, this is our go to place.

We live on a farm and one thing about having an acreage is you have to put up a fence or a border to keep things from getting out of hand. If you don’t, they will be too big and time consuming to maintain. We have had a pool for about 25 years so the logical first step for me was to make this border the pool and tie it together. I wanted to build an outdoor fireplace and we have an old cut stone smokehouse on the place so I made the hearth out of some of those stones.

I brought the dirt to grade and then poured a footer and started cementing blocks in place.

The dog was very helpful!

You can see the old fence to the right. It was definitely time to replace it.

After I finished all the block work I put on rock veneer that was really easy to install. The rock in the foreground was the original cap rock on the smokehouse chimney. Kinda cool, all hand hewn and shaped rocks.

Here is the rock going up.

My lovely assistant.

It passed the cat inspection too.

And there is the finished product

I bought half blocks so I didn’t have to cut blocks. I did have to cut a few of the rocks and I used a tile saw that worked great. Really a level, a trowel and something to mix concrete in is all you need for this project. Stay tuned for the porch and fence.

Happy trails!

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5 Things I wish I’d Known Before I Started Raising Chickens

A few months ago we decided to order some meat birds and a few laying hens to replace our aging hens as needed. We have always bought older birds close to laying age so starting with day old chicks was definitely a new adventure.

We picked up the baby chicks in April and it was unusually cool this year. The first thing I learned was to get your brooder and heat lamps going and get your temperature adjusted a few days before your chicks arrive. I didn’t and we were scurrying around trying to get the temperature up that first night. The temperature needs to be constant between 90 and 95 degrees measured at the height of the chicks heads. If its too hot or too cold the chick won’t eat or drink. Also you’ll need a good thermometer so you can check the temp often.

Second, if you are planning on bedding them on shavings like I was you’ll need to put paper towels down for the first 3 or 4 days so they won’t eat the shavings. Chicks can’t digest the wood and if they eat it they will die.

Third, when your chicks arrive have your feed and luke warm water already in there and spread some feed out on the paper towels. They will peck around and be sure to find feed that way. As you place the chicks under the brooder, dip each chicks beak in the water so they will know where to find it.

 

Fourth, give them all the feed they want except for the meat birds. We went with Cornish Rock broilers and after 2 weeks on full feed you will need to start restricting their feed to 3 fifteen minute intervals per day. Leave the waterers in so they have access to good clean water at all times and make sure you have enough feeder space as they grow so they can eat plenty in a short time. These birds grow so fast that if you don’t restrict their intake they will develop water in the body cavity. The meat will grow faster than the bones and they will have broken legs and other problems. It is a lot more work to restrict their feed but it prevents all the problems so its well worth it.

Fifth, these guys drink a lot of water! We got 25 birds and I started with a quart jar and refilled it several times a day. As they got older of course they drank a lot more so I built a nipple waterer out of 3 inch PVC pipe that holds about 3 gallons of water. They learned quickly how to drink from the nipples and that was an easy transition.

This is what they look like at about 5 weeks of age.

Happy trails.

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Ready to Roll?

Cinnamon Rolls

Are you ready to roll? I have two cinnamon roll recipes I like to use, one is sourdough, and the other is regular. Both of them are good tasting and have their distinctive differences in taste. I’m getting ready to take Bob the horse on a trail ride so I decided to make a double batch of these cream cheese frosted rolls for everyone.

I wanted to show you how I do it because it only takes about 2 1/2 hours start to finish and most of that time you are inactive.

This is the dough going into a warm oven to rise, run it to about 120 degrees then turn it off before you put the dough in.

Here it is after one hour of rise time.

Clean your workspace well then lightly dust it with flour to roll your dough out.

Roll your dough out into a giant rectangle and slather it with butter. You can’t have too much butter!

Blend your sugar and cinnamon together well before you sprinkle it over all that awesome butter.

 

After you roll it up in a long log use a string to cut your rolls so you won’t smash them to smithereens.

Just cross them and pull.

Here they are ready for the second rise.

Here they are after the second rise.

Now are you ready to roll?

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A Custom Fit Hat

Back in the fall I finally decided to get a custom made felt hat. I really had no idea there are still a lot of hatters out there that build hats for you. I evidently have a pointed head because I could never get a hat off the store shelf to fit me right, I always had to try and reshape it to get it to fit and mostly had no luck. I picked Buckaroo Hats www.yourhat.com because they have a really nice looking and easy to navigate website. You really can’t tell much about a hat just by looking at pictures on the computer so it was just a guess on who to use. I wound up being really well pleased with Berry and the way the hat turned out. Be prepared to wait a while because these guys are busy and it takes a while to get one made. Here are some things to expect and look for in case you are ever in the market.

First you go through their order form and choose your colors and styles and accessories. It’s really detailed and you make all your selections right then. They also have a gallery so you can view all the different colors of ribbon and felts and things.

Then they sent me a device to get an accurate measurement of my head.

Ok, brace yourself!

I know it looks like something out of a scary movie! Not to mention my larger than life mug but I wanted you to have an idea what it looked like.

After I sent that back to them they got my felts in and started working on it. Once they had it finished he sent me a picture to make sure it was what I had in mind and then I paid the balance and they shipped it out.

Once it arrived I was surprised and impressed that it came in a hard plastic carry case!

Opening it up was like Christmas.

They also included several pages of instructions on how to care for the hat.

When I put it on it fit like it was made for me.

I was also impressed with the inside.

The leather band was soft and I really could hardly feel it on my head.
I would have preferred to be emailed now and then to tell me where I was on the list and just kept in the loop a bit more, but all in all I was very impressed with the process and the end product!

If you are in the market for a hat I’d sure get in contact with Berry and let him give you a quote on one, you won’t be disappointed.

Til next time, happy trails!

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Man’s Best Friend

I get sappy in this one, you may not want to read any further.

Several years ago I took a risk, a big risk for me because I’m tight, and I bought a puppy for $250.00. I wanted a good stock dog that would be helpful with the cattle and horses so I took a chance on this pup. She was just weaned and they had already named her Susie so we didn’t rename her. I brought her home and everyone was quickly pulled in by her ability to make friends.

Susie2

 

Austrailian Kelpie was her breeding papered and all, and her main goal in life was to please us even from the very beginning. She helped me sort cows and train horses and any time I went to feed she was right there with me. If I was going to work, she seemed to know, but if I was going to the pasture her excitement level came up and she definitely knew. The back of the Yamaha was her space and if it was going somewhere so was she.

Susie & snake

She didn’t bark much, but she found this snake one time and she was sounding the alarm! I don’t think it was poisonous but I had to go separate them because neither of them were going to give up any ground. If you had a water hose she was there to bite the water and loved it any time of the year.

Susie standing

 

She had an alertness about her that kept her in tune with everything that was going on. And when a girl came over, especially our friend Courtney, Suse would go out to greet her at her car and sit on her foot to try and get extra pets and loving before she came in the house.

When she was younger she could jump up into the back of the truck or into the tractor cab, but the last few years I had to lift her in so she could go with me.

photo

 

Here she is just last winter feeding with me in the tractor. She always loved to go!

Sunday evening she could hardly step into the floorboard of the Yamaha to go check the cows. Her eyes and her hearing had both grown a little dim in the last two years and somehow she told me that her time was near. I told Sara and the kids so they could all go out and give her some love for the last time. She didn’t want to be put up for the night like usual but we coaxed her in and when we let her out the next morning she went and found a shady spot, stretched out and closed her eyes and her life was over. When I went to feed that evening alone I suddenly recognized that anytime I went out the door before she was there ready to go. I had to laugh at myself as I set a bucket of cattle feed down out of habit to allow Suse to get a bite of it.

She made my life better just by being around her and I think if someone says that about me when I’m gone I would consider that a high complement.

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