Thursday, November 14, 2013

In my last few posts I mentioned the woodshed and my attempts to clean it up and make it a usable space.  I still haven't put the wood burning stove in, but I did get all my wood working equipment in place.  I also got the old barn doors from a building in Crawfordsville and mounted those.  

This picture shows the doors from the inside.  The day we put them up, I wouldn't leave the building because I had never been inside of it with the door closed.  All cleaned up and with these beautiful doors I just couldn't leave so I cleaned up and organized a little more.

 This picture is from the outside.  The table will move, it was just a work surface during construction.  At first I was going to paint the entire building and doors white.  But when I put them up, I realized that I like the contrast and may repaint the entire building, but white for the building and red for the doors.

Interesting story about where the doors came from.  The building I work in was originally the heating plant for the city of Crawfordsville.  Originally on that site was a cabin owned by Ambrose Whitlock.  From that cabin were sold land parcels, one of which was the east half of the southwest quarter of Section 34 in Hendricks County.  So the doors on a building where Daniel Kiger purchased his parcel of land, now are in use on that very piece of land.

I find that to be oddly coincidental, and somewhat fortuitous that the Lord has brought me to this position in life with a chance to salvage these doors.

Next up, the wood stove.  Because we need heat as winter approaches.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fall Is Upon Us

It's October and I am busy with the changing of seasons.  I am trying to wrap up gardening close up and winter prep, organizing the garage and wood shed to use during winter, and trying to hunt from time to time.

We are still waiting for that first kill.  We have been out hunting (it's bow season since October 1st here in Indiana) but haven't shot any.  Luckily we have seen quite a bit of activity, just not in range.  I feel this will be a good year if we are just patient and persistent.

I tilled up the majority of the garden yesterday.  I would like to say that finalizes that season, but I still have to knock down tomato plants, put away the gardening bench, and store the tomato cages.  Seems like there is always a lot to do, and never enough time to do it.  Job security anyway.

I am also in process of building a little lean to off of my new wood shed. That will allow for some dry storage of things we don't really need inside the shed.  Then we can reorganize and make room for the new-to-me wood stove in the shed!  That way I can stay warm when working and we can make better use of the space as our hunting shack.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Changing Seasons

Yesterday was the official start of fall.  Coincidentally, I was spending the last week preparing for my own change of seasons.  Other than some tomatoes, my garden is harvested. I have knocked down most of the plants and spread compost in preparation for tilling it under.

There a few other things that needed done to prepare for next years garden.  On Tuesday I planted the garlic.  This year I had volunteers come up, so I kept all of them.  I had nine heads plus seeds from one scape.  Now I have four rows planted with zero additional cost.

In another effort to save money on buying seeds and plants, Grace and I gathered seeds on Saturday.  She had one Lima seed and one pinto seed from school.  We planted them and we were able to get a few seeds to grow more next year.

We collected green beans too.  We labeled them because I collected the very first pods this year, but didn't let them dry on the vine.  I want to see if that makes any difference in how well they germinate.

We collected asparagus seeds as part of our other experiment.  We planted half of them immediately and saved the other half.  We also planted half the dried seeds that I collected last year.  For more on that project, watch

Lastly I grabbed a few good tomatoes and scraped the seeds out onto a paper plate to dry.  All my tomatoes were grown from seed this year and I hope to do the same next year but with my own seeds.

Now that all that work is done, we can turn our attention from gathering to hunting!  Now season for deer starts next Tuesday and youth shotgun season is this coming weekend.  Time to fill the freezer.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Salsa; Canning Not Dancing

Some couples learn to dance later in life as a way to spend time together.  I don't think I have the moves for a waltz much less salsa dancing.  So instead, my wife and I spend time together by salsa canning.

Yesterday we put up 10 pints of salsa, with a bit left over for a jar that went straight in the fridge.  It was fun to work together, share a cocktail, and just chat about nothing.  With four kids and so many projects to take care of, time together is hard to come by.  Canning together seems to be one of the solutions.

When we finished we still had LOADS of tomatoes.  So we proceeded to give the Victorio Food Strainer, which we found when cleaning out the woodshed. (see previous post), a run for it's money.  This turned out to be quite messy.  If you go to the home page for Victorio Products, in the upper left corner you see model 250.  We found model 200 which doesn't have the clear extension on the trash chute and doesn't have the wrap around guard on the strainer.  That mean tomato juice sometimes flew out of the strainer, and much like pulp, juice can fly baby!  I also had to place my compost bucket closer to the sauce collector bucket creating a few mishaps.

But just as advertised on the website, you can put raw tomatoes in this thing and get clean strained pulp and juice, with all the seeds and skins going straight into a separate bucket.  No blanching to remove skins like when we can tomatoes.  After cooking for hours to reduce the water content, we ended up with four quart jars of beautiful tomato sauce.

That brings my haul this year to 17 quarts of canned tomatoes (think venison chili), 10 pints of salsa, 4 quarts of tomato sauce, and four pints of pickles.  Not too bad for a $36 investment in seeds.  Plus, I have collected seeds for next year, and hope to not spend anything to get the garden growing. That also doesn't count the food we have eaten straight from the garden like potatoes, corn, lettuce, leeks, and radishes.

We had strange weather this year, so we still have some late bloomers.  Specifically, green beans and some peppers.  Hopefully there will be another post later this year talking about how good those taste when eaten straight from the east half of the southwest quarter!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Take Me to the Woodshed

I spent yesterday cleaning the last section of the building that has been called the chicken house, Grandmas garage, and now the woodshed.

This is a project started long ago but it's often interrupted by more time sensitive tasks like gardening, mowing, or harvesting.  In fact, yesterday I had to can five more quarts of tomatoes before I would allow myself to get back to this project.

As you can see, I now have a nice clean space to set up my wood shop.  As you look at this picture the space is 15 feet across the back, and it comes out 10 feet On the right side where there's a divider from the rest of the building.  On the left side the wall runs 20 feet out to the garage door opening.

I then diagramed where I would put all of my machinery and it should turn into be a nice open space.   Plenty of storage and a nice area at the front where guests can come sit and visit.  

Of course, while cleaning I found some treasures; old milk cans, a scarecrow, and even a small little bench.  

I'm pretty excited to get my stuff moved over there and be able to resume some projects that have been sitting for way too long.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Harvesting and Preserving

So far I've canned 12 quarts of tomatoes.  The Roma's ripened much earlier than the big boys. So now we are getting to enjoy the big boys while we continue to can the Roma's.  there are still a kit if tomatoes ripening so I would bet I can double the amount of tomatoes we have.

We have four pints of pickles and that is probably all we will get.  I've yet to dig into a potato mound to see how many of those we will be putting up.

We may have to go get green beans from a friend this year.  Mine are still growing but I'm not sure how much they will produce.

I did find some bell peppers finally beginning to grow so I think salsa is an option here in a couple of weeks.

It was certainly a different summer in the garden this year, but we still are able to put up quite a bit of food.  I'm pretty happy seeing as we spent a lot more time this summer on other parts of the east half of the southwest quarter.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Harvest Time

On Tuesday I picked these tomatoes.
Sunday I used some in a tomato mozzarella salad and canned the rest.  I started with five quarts, but when I opened the pressure cooker, the bottom of one jar had blown off.  Never seen that before. 
I also made three pints of pickles from Grace's garden.

Even with the low temperatures this summer and a losing battle with the weeds, we are eating off the land.

We still have red potatoes, corn, green beans, and plenty more tomatoes to harvest.  Plus it will soon be puffball mushroom time and then deer season shortly after that.

The seasons change, but there is always work to do and food to be harvested here on the east half of the southwest quarter.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Crabapple Harvest

We have a rather large crab apple tree right up against our house.  I typically trim it back every year, but it is a never ending battle to keep it off the roof.  This year I was instructed to cut two major branches entirely and create more space between the tree and the house.

Taking down those limbs resulted in an early harvest of crab apples, as you can see in this picture.

I am going to save the larger ones as ammunition for a potato gun.  The smaller ones will become crab apple vinegar.  I have promised to do this in the past, but this year I really mean it.  I need it to kill the poison ivy so we no longer have to deal with the itching and scratching associated cleaning up the landscaping around the property.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Green Acres

Sometimes I think I am both characters from this old show.  From the time I get up until 5 pm, I am city life selling insurance across central Indiana.  Dress pants, dress shirt, business meetings and phone calls.

But when I get home, I turn to the country life.  Shorts, work boots, a pocket knife and a long to do list.

Rain is headed our way.  Much needed rain, but rain nonetheless.  That means activities best suited to dry weather, or aided by the rain, need to be done.

Tonight I spread some pasture mix in the new horse pasture.  Then I weeded the garden, put up poles for my peas and beans, planted more beans, squash, and corn.  Finally I trimmed the hedges at the farm house and cleaned the debris off the porch.

Not to mention I repaired a hose and took care of a couple honey do items in the front flower beds.  Finally at 9:30 I took a shower and had a salad for dinner.  Yes, it was my lettuce in the salad.

It is enough to make you tired, but really I barely notice until I sit down.  Besides, it is a good tired, and I get a lot of satisfaction from the hard work.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Gracie's Garden

Grace weeded her garden tonight.  She wasn't dressed for it but did have her gloves.

Lucky for us her cucumbers are doing great.  I didn't get any to come up.  I do have a couple tomato plants beginning to bear fruit.

Her lettuce is doing well and is six weeks later than ours so it will be nice to have here when ours runs out.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Cherry Pie

I grew up playing sports.  In basketball anyone not playing defense in order to get an easy basket was called a cherry picker.  I assumed that meant picking cherries was easy.

Sort of like the term can of corn in baseball.  When a fly ball is easy to catch, it reminded early announcers of a grocer who pulled cans of corn off the top shelf with a pole and caught them in their apron.

Yesterday I picked cherries.  Not so easy.  The limbs are small, the cherries high in the air, and there is no good place to lean a ladder.  Yet for all the trouble, I still think it is worth it.

Years ago Grandma Worrell made cherry pie with them.  We have yearned to do that ourselves.   Yet over the last couple years as soon as they got ripe, birds got them.

Yesterday we picked enough for two pies, and many more will ripen in the next couple days.  Hopefully we will get to them before the birds.  If we do, then the Worrell Reunion will be full of cherry pie courtesy of Aunt Linda.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Grace's Garden

Grace brought home four plants from a school project. A pinto bean, Lima bean, corn, and radish were all started in cotton balls. When I asked her about planting them in the garden, her response was that she wanted her own garden.

Yesterday she was a bit bored and wanted to hang out with daddy. So we planted potatoes. She didn't really like how icky seed potatoes are, so she mostly supervised.

Then we moved on to her garden. We tilled up some new space, about the size of four dishwashers at Grace's request. We bordered it with some old barn posts, and got to planting.

She has the Lima bean and pinto bean from school. We added a big boy tomato plant and a sweet pepper plant. The radish and corn from school start her row of corn and a row of radish and carrot. She also planted rows of lettuce, broccoli, green onion, and cucumber.

This is her watering her garden once it was all in. It was a good way to hang out with my daughter on the east half if the southwest quarter

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

It's A Two Beer Garden

Last night I went out around 8:30, after the heat, the baseball game, and before the rain.  I planted a row of green beans, two rows of cucumbers, two rows of squash, and four rows of sweet corn.  That pretty much fills the original 20 x 60 area I tilled.

I may have omitted posting, this manual labor kind of wears me out, but we have successfully transplanted the corn, tomatoes, peppers, celery, and onions that were started inside.  So the only spot left in the garden area is where I will do a second planting of carrots, peas, lettuce, broccoli, and cabbage.

I wasn't sure of the rain since we had been expecting it all day and it still had not come.  So I decided to be safe and water the garden myself.  I grabbed a beer and a hose on the gentle shower setting and started to work.

As you probably know, in addition to being an amateur gardener, I am an amateur chef.  One of the things I like to make is a roux, for when I am doing gravy, gumbo, jambalaya, etc.  I believe Emeril coined the phrase Two Beer Roux.  If not, he popularized it according to Google.  Instead of talking about the color of the rue being very light to very dark, or giving the time in minutes, he refers to his roux as one, two or three beer rouxs.  In essence, you cook them as long as it takes you to drink that many bottles, or pints as regional variation would dictate, of your favorite beer.

As I began watering I assumed I had a one beer garden.  I instantly panicked and thought I have to plant more if I am going to water regularly.  As I finished watering I thought I would talk to the plants, as I have heard that helps them grow.  But having consumed two beers with no dinner, I was afraid the plants might find me obnoxious.

Once I get the potatoes and sweet potatoes in, this may turn into a three beer ordeal.  I may need to bring a cooler to the east half of the southwest quarter..

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Asparagus - Picked & Pickled

We have been so busy here with the last few weeks of school, junior varsity baseball, taking trucks to the repair shop, and so on. Making dinner hasn't happened a lot which means our asparagus needs some alternatives to grilling as a side dish.

Last week I had some that had been picked for a few days so I wasn't sure of its quality for grilling, so I made cream of asparagus soup. Wow was it good.

Today Grace, Jared, and I picked a fresh batch and we pickled them
within a half hour. We used.a little of Uncle Johns pickled pepper juice and plan to serve them with some pickled eggs later this summer.

And darn if a few odds and ends were left over, so I cooked them and ate them!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Rainy Days

Well my hurry ten days ago turned out to be worth it. Half an acre if pasture mix and eight types of vegetables have now benefitted from this incessant rain.

Last year it kept us from getting my garden in, but being prepared early allows us to benefit from the rain. And I don't have to stretch my garden hose out every night.

My indoor starts are doing pretty good. My only issue is I haven't started to harden them off. I either think about it too late, or the rain is too heavy, or I'm afraid it's too cold. Sooner or later I'll get around to it so that they can join the outdoor garden.

I started another batch of tomatoes, peppers, and corn. I wanted to be able to stagger my harvest times a bit more than last year. I'll probably do one more round in a couple weeks, but by then it should be warm enough to do it outside.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Asparagus Frittata with Morel Mushrooms

My lone hen has begun to lay eggs again. Asparagus is sprouting up, ten at last count. Warm wet weather is upon us, meaning morel mushrooms are soon to be found.

I'm thinking up recipes that would include these three early spring home grown delicacies. The frittata, introduced to me last year seems like a perfect choice.

If only I had milk goats (for the cheese) here on the east half of the southwest quarter

Monday, April 8, 2013

Garden Beginning

Last night Susan, Grace and I planted the beginnings of our garden.  First we weeded around the onions that are growing up from last year.  Then we planted seven short rows.  Peas, spinach, spice mix lettuce, romaine, cabbage, broccoli, and the last row is a combination carrots and radishes.

I have been told that planting carrots and radishes together allows for thinning the carrots by picking the radishes.  Neat idea, thought we would give it a try.

I also planted a half acre pasture for the horses and another 1/4 acre to grow hay.  I used a pasture mix that I got from Deno's Farm & Feed.  Hopefully the rain we are expecting is for real, because I don't have the ability to water that much land.

Tonight I plan to start some more indoor seeds and do a little pruning on my first batch.  Some haven't grown well, and I think I will put them out of their misery and reuse the soil and space for hardier stock.

Monday, April 1, 2013


I was born in Tennessee so I should be a fan of volunteers. More on that in a minute.

Last year I kept getting rained out of tilling up my garden. The result was a very late planting. Last weekend when I told that the asparagus patch I noticed how dry the ground was.

I decided to take advantage of that by telling up a section of my garden tonight. This is about 20 x 60, much smaller than last year but good for my indoor starts and early planting. I plan on staggering my starts this year In order to stagger my harvest times.

Back to the volunteers. I was talking to my gardening mentors about garlic and onion and how they might still be in the garden from last year. Sure enough, a few garlic and onion "volunteers" are there as you see in this picture. I tilled right up to them and left them undisturbed. I'll weed around them and throw in a little compost and hope for the best here on east half of the southwest quarter .....

Celery update

A few weeks ago i attempted a project to take the base of store bought celery and regrow it.

So far, as you can see in the picture, it is working splendidly. It is doing so well, I thought lets try this with green onions. Again, as you can see next to the celery, success.

I am anxious to get everything outdoors and see how they continue to grow. Now to get some lettuce and more onions started.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


One of my most favorite vegetables is asparagus. Luckily Susan's grandma planted a patch that still yields a nice harvest.

I just finished tilling over it with some horse manure spread in. Doesn't it look nice!

Last fall I grabbed some seeds from the patch and hope to successfully get a new patch started from those. If they do as we'll as my celery and green onion projects we will be in good shape.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

They Keep Growing & Growing & Growing

If you believe this blog is a how to, you might be mistaken. It probably qualifies more as humor. As in, it's hilarious to think corn planted indoors on March 10th won't get too big. As in, tomatoes planted on March 10th might get too big. As in, you haven't planted lettuce yet?

Well, an expert I am not. I lept into indoor seed starting, then I looked around for advice. That means today I spent some time transplanting corn to bigger containers. I reused some styrofoam cups to make myself feel a little better. You can see so far so good. I hope they tolerate the move.

On another note, the great celery experiment is thriving. Look at how well they have grown since planting in an old milk jug. It went so well, I am trying it with green onions now.

My tomatoes and peppers look good so far. I need to get some more dirt and get another batch started.

I will also do some lettuce and a lot of onions too.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


When I was feeding horses this morning I found that our one lone hen is laying again. I am thinking of letting her go and getting a natural batch of chicks.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Let There Be Light

And on the seventh day, artificial light was provided and it was good.

I thought it would be a couple weeks, but after seven days 24 of 38 seeds have germinated. So we provided some fluorescent lighting and will start to prepare for a second round of seeds to be planted.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


We are going to try this project we recently saw. We cut off the base of store bought celery and set it in water.

We will change the water every day and move to soil as it begins to grow.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Seed Starting

I planted seeds today. Some I kept from last year and some I bought new. This is a new step for me but one I am excited about.

I am borrowing a seed blocker from one friend and a grow light from another. Plus a friend with chickens wants to put together a bartering group. With a little luck we can be self sufficient as a group.