The family on Cedar Lane Farm

The family on Cedar Lane Farm
These are the people I love! That's my sweet mama in the middle. I wonder what she's thinking.

Monday, July 16, 2012

$aving Money!

It has always been a quest for me, to save money.  I was raised by a single mom.  Dad left all four of us with Mom when I was pretty young, and we scraped and scrounged for everything we had.  Still, we were clean, lived in a nice home and were never hungry.  We wore hand-me-downs that came from our cousins.  Even though they weren't new, they were new to us, and were cared for by the previous owners.  We ate a lot of ham, drank a lot of milk and the oatmeal.............eww. 

But, we always had enough.  I don't really remember being sad about not having something in particular.  I do remember being sad because we were "broken", so to speak.  But, my sweet Mother kept us on our toes, kept us in church every Sunday, made us do our lessons, allowed us to play one sport and we loved each other completely. 

When I married and began having children, it was hard.  We both worked like dogs, opposite shifts in food service and factories.  We were babies having babies.  We were happy, and we had enough.  We had enough and were happy because I was used to having second-hand things, still do.  My three children were clothed with hand-me-downs, yard sale clothes and Walmart shoes.  My mom always bought my kids their winter coats.  As our jobs got better and our incomes began to improve, our spending habits didn't increase.  I'm really glad.  We never went without, we just went without the best. 

Now, we're older.  We have much better incomes.  Two of our three children are out of college (with very little debt, I might add) with good and satisfying careers.  Our youngest will soon begin her senior year in high school. 

I thought I would share a few of my money-saving habits:

 - Visit those resale shops for those household items.  Just last week, I bought a used Foreman grill in perfect shape for $4.99.  Visiting those resale shops are the best way to recycle!  You can pick up nice, clean bread pans, tupperware items and even sets of dishes. 

 - When you buy dryer sheets, buy the largest box you can.  When you get home, open it, grab a handful and cut them in half...cut them all in half and put them back in the box.  The half sheet does as good of a job as a whole sheet! 

 - Stock up a good pantry.  Keep plenty of food on hand.  When you  go to the grocery store to buy a can of corn, pick up an extra can...or more.  I buy "flats" of some items when I shop and store them in my downstairs pantry.  I do can my own food from the garden, but I buy bulk items like those "cream of"soups,  pinto beans, macaroni and cheese, tuna, pork n beans, etc.  These items will come in handy when you have a week or two when the paycheck doesn't make it to the end of the month.  Before you know it, you'll have a well-supplied pantry!

 - Hang out your laundry!  A clothesline will save you an incredible amount of money for 3/4 of the year!  I have used my dryer once or twice all summer, and nothing beats the smell of those line-dried sheets!  Yes, your bath towels will be a little stiff, but that's a small price to pay if you are saving money! 

 - Make your own!  Buying things at the store that you can make yourself is foolish and very expensive.  I make my own dog treats, my own chocolate syrup (better than Hersheys!), my own soap, bread, hot chocolate mix, vanilla extract and other things.  It's satisfying to know you can do this and it's more delicious! 

Some of the other obvious money-saving strategies are eating at home rather than eating out.  Do not buy on credit.  If you can't pay for it after saving for it, you don't need it.  Credit cards and other unnecessary credit will not only suck the life out of you, but it will land your credit rating in the gutter.  Aggresively pay off your debts and don't take on any more.  Find fun things to do for entertainment that cost nothing, such as picnics at the park, swimming in the creek and growing a garden. 

Life is short, folks.  God didn't intend for us to be so worried about money that we forgot to enjoy the bounty that He gave us.  Plus, the more you can save...the more you can give to others who aren't quite as lucky as you are.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sometimes I just.....

....want to be alone.
....want to retire and stay home every day.
....want to sleep all day.
....want to meet new people.
....want to attend a different church.
....want to live in the middle of nowhere...absolute nowhere.
....want to hire a maid.
....want to throw away all of the socks and buy new ones so I don't have to mate them.
....want to eat cake for supper.
....want to find another person to help.
....walk through the woods and talk to Him.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Harvest

What an odd year it has been here in Central Missouri.  This past Winter was very dry, hardly any snow and very little cold temperatures.  Then this Spring/Summer is the hottest ever recorded.  Trees budded out and flowers bloomed much earlier than what we call normal.  The garden was planted early, as is our harvest.  Now, in early July, I have majestic oak trees in my front yard that are all brown, like a late Fall day.  I hope they are only going dormant, and not dying from the drought. 

But, whatever God gives us, we accept it with gratitude.  We manage.  We make it enough. 

So, with what we were given this year, I began my preserving.  First, the cherries.  Oh my, the cherries.  Once again, my daughter and I visited Thierbach Orchard and picked gallons and gallons of red tart cherries.  We pitted them all, and canned them in pint jars.  Now, I have cherries on the shelf for the next year.

Then came the garden harvests, one at a time.  The cucumbers came first, but very slowly.  Only one or two every few days, so not enough for pickles.  That's ok.  We ate them for dinner, and I dehydrated some.  I dehydrated them into small chips and then ground them into a powder to add to dips, soups and just about anything else I might make.  The kids will never know, and I'm adding healthy ingredients! 

The peaches are usually ripe in mid-August here, but they came ripe in July!  I purchased a half bushel and canned up peach pie filling for the year!

 They were smaller fruit, but just as tasty as ever!  I'm hopeful that I can get another 1/2 bushel for jam, but if not...I still have some from last year.  It'll be enough. 

Now, our sweet corn was the best ever.  We planted enough corn this year for two families.  We harvested it last week.  Savor the photos....I'll wait for you.

Feel better?  I thought you would!  I've been grating and freezing zucchini in quart bags.  I have also got about 8 quarts of green beans canned, as the plants aren't producing a lot at a time. John dug the potatoes, and thankfully we ended up with a five gallon bucket of beautiful yellow potatoes. 
Hopefully now that the weather has cooled some and we've gotten some rain relief, the beans, okra, green peppers and tomatoes will start being friendly. 

John is plowing the garden again where he picked the corn and pulled the stalks, (the heifers loved the stalks!), and just today planted some of the Fall garden crops;  turnips, beets and ........something, I forgot.  Oh yes, more beans!  As my tomatoes start ripening, we'll get to the tomato sauce, tomato juice, spaghetti sauce and salsa. 

So, by the end of the Summer, around Labor Day, we'll have fresh milk if good the Lord blesses us with a healthy Jersey cow andcalf.  With that, I'll have butter and a little more money in my purse.

There's a bit of satisfaction in your soul when you successfully plant, grow, preserve, freeze and eat all of that fresh food, milk, butter, eggs, beef and chicken from your own farm. 

Let me leave you with this:

"Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God"   2 Corinthians 3:5


Sunday, May 27, 2012


I officially began the 2012 canning season yesterday with my first trip to the orchard.  We visited Thierbach Orchard for the second year in a row to pick our pie cherries.  The picking was easier than last year.  We easily picked 12 gallons of cherries in less than two hours.  I took my oldest daughter, Becky, with me this year to help pick. 

Once I arrived back home, we proceeded to wash, pit and can the cherries.  Back up a bit....last year, I pitted 8 gallons or so of fresh-picked cherries with a bobby pin.  This year, Becky used my new cherry pitting device that I ordered last year, the second I finished with the bobby  pins.  It went flawlessly! Although it did take an hour or so, it was so easy!  She filled the device and literally "stamped" each cherry!

Once we had all of the cherries prepared, we got the canners boiling, the lids simmering, the jars cleaned and ready to go!  We created a cherry canning assembly line, right in the kitchen.  We surely don't mess around.  I prefer pint jars.  My recipe for a cobbler calls for two pints of red, tart pitted cherries.  But, oftentimes, I like to make just a pie, which would just call for one pint.  My recipe for the mouth-watering cobbler will be at the end of this post.  I hope you try it.

I fill the pint jars very full, then pack them down and fill more.
After filling the jars and packing them tight, I add hot simmering simple syrup (I do a light syrup) which is basically six cups water to one cup sugar, simmer til dissolved, keeping hot.  Fill the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Add previously simmered lids and rings.  Process in water bath for 25 minutes.  Be sure to wipe the cooled jars with a clean, wet cloth to remove any residue from the processing.  You sure do want pretty jars in that "winter pantry"!

Aren't those cherries beautiful!  I canned up 24 pints and 5 quarts of cherries this year, and I'm very happy with the result.  I have a shelf downstairs in my "winter pantry" that is beginning to fill up. 

After wiping jars, I labeled them and put them away!

 Gloria's Cherry Cobbler

2 pints red tart pitted cherries
1 can cherry pie filling (from the store, if you must) 
3/4 cup to 1 cup sugar (more for a sweeter pie)
2 tbl flour
pinch of salt
2 tbl butter
pie crust for 9x13 glass pan

Prepare pie crust for the cobbler pan.   Sprinkle the 2 tbl flour on top of the bottom crust.  Mix all above ingredients together (except the butter) and add to bottom crust.  Add about 4 "pats" of butter, then cover with top crust.  Decorate as you wish!  Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Decrease temperature to 350 degrees and bake an additional 45 minutes. 


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Making Maple Syrup

The first batch of syrup is sealed and cooling on the dining room table.  We began our season last week, tapping over 13 trees nearby our home.  Tapping the trees should happen when the night temperatures are below freezing, and the daytime temps reach 40 degrees or more.  We have had a very mild Winter, so we worried that we wouldn't get to tap this year.  Luckily, we got six inches of snow last week and the trees started producing!

An old Maple tree with the tap.
We collected 40 gallons of sap prior to today's cook.  It took around a week to gather this much sap.  Some days the trees produce a gallon of sap, and some days they give very little.  Our 40 gallons of sap will boil down to about 1 gallon of delicious syrup.

We use empty milk jugs for collecting the sap at the tree, and old cooking oil jugs to store it until it's time to cook.  John and I gathered around eight gallons of sap from the river bottom trees on this particular day.  The view from the river bend was also beautiful. 

John cut the wood yesterday for the all-day cookdown.  This is elm, and John says it burns hotter and longer than oak, which we used last year.  The pot is a 25 gallon cast iron boil pot, which John cleaned and carefully placed on a stand.  He built the fire underneath the pot and put some sheet metal all around it, so that the fire concentrated directly beneath the pot.  Sometimes, the wind makes it harder to cook, so the sheet metal really comes in handy. 

This morning, John built the fire at 6 am.  He had half of the sap cooked by noon.  We had two fires going all day.  One cooking the sap under the cast pot, the other on a little gas fish cooker.  The small one heated the cold sap up and then as the cast iron pot cooked down, John added the hot sap from the smaller cooker.  This keeps the sap hot through the entire cook.  If you pour cold sap into a boiling pot, you've lost cook time.  This process works well for us.

John added wood and cooked the syrup down until nearly dark.  When he had all of the sap cooked down, and had only about 1 1/2 gallons left, we moved it from the cast pot to a smaller pot and cooked it down til we had about one gallon.  We test the syrup on a cold plate.  If you put some of the sap on the plate and turn the plate up, the syrup should run about an inch and then stop.  This is how we decide that it's done.  Then, we strained it through four pieces of cheesecloth and once more through a clean cotton towel. 

And, this is the finished product.  Wonderful, beautiful, delicious maple syrup. 


Saturday, February 11, 2012

They grow up so fast!

My youngest, Kelly, is a junior in High School.  And, like most other parents, by the time you get to the third child, you've been there - done that, seen it all, nothing suprises you anymore.  You seem to be a little more trusting, a little less stressed that the world is coming to an end every time your child wants to go somewhere after dark.

Well, my youngest has proven (so far) to be a very responsible, level-headed teen.  So, this week was easy to enjoy with her.  Homecoming week at SHS consists of choosing a queen candidate from each class, decorating a "Wall" in the gym that represents the theme for the week, daily dress up events and collections of pennies.  Last night, the Homecoming festivities came to a close after the basketball game of the year and the queen coronation.

But, let me back up to Tuesday...... "Hippie Day".   I think this was my favorite dress up day for her.  She borrowed a hippie outfit from her boyfriend's mother and she looked so groovy!

Groovy "Hippie" Day!

Next was "Hip Hop Day" and she surprised me with her originality here! 

Then we had Spirit Day with the school colors.

And, last night was the dress up event!  Here she is in her pretty Homecoming dress!  She looked so pretty!

My little girl. 


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Farm Visit

This morning, John and I set out to visit a friend's farm about 20 miles away.  I was given directions from Tonya, wrote them out and read them to John.  John, on the other hand, needed to check the route online, and came to the car with his own set of driving directions.  We were to be there by 10:00 for the milking.  Well, his route got us lost!  We found ourselves on a logging road, I think....turning around, searching for signs.  *sigh* MEN!  We were so lost, I actually peed in the woods.  We went 10 miles our of our way, but finally arrived at 10:30, highly stressed.  Well, I was anyway.

The reason for our visit, was to meet the cow that Jerry and Tonya want us to "cow sit" for a couple of months in the Spring, while Jerry recovers from a hip replacement surgery.  He wants to bring the cow to our farm and let us "have" her until he heals up.  Before promising anything, I wanted to meet this cow.  This cow that stands there all by herself, and doesn't move a muscle while you easily milk 3 quarters, in no time!  She is about 7 years old and so absolutely sweet!  I am excited that I am considered for this honor by our friends. 

Our Cinnamon and Bambi are currently at another friend's farm "visiting" with their bull.  They have been there for two months now.  I'm missing my girls, so getting to milk this cow this morning was a real treat.  I also brought home some fresh milk to enjoy.

I love having such wonderful and caring friends.  Tonya and Jerry are always so ready to help, to answer questions and offer anything that you might need.  And, having self-sufficient homesteaders like them as friends, makes them even more special! 

So, in the Spring, I might share some photos of Josie, if I am lucky enough to get her for a while.