Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Now what would Halloween be without a Strange-But-True story. . .

When I was in the sixth grade I went to Catholic school where besides a daily religion class, once a week one of the priests would visit the class for additional instruction. At this time, our parish had a young priest that everyone liked. All the mothers in the parish said he would be a bishop one day, and all the school children liked him, too, because unlike many of the older priests, this young man was approachable and the kids felt they could talk to him. All us children liked the day when Father * came to class. I did, too -- until the strange event happened.

"Put your books away," Sister said when the school bell rang and the current class hour ended. "Father * will be coming today." And all of us children dutifully lifted our desk tops, and after putting away our books, we folded our hands on top of our desks and waited.

Father * came swiftly into the classroom, and as his wont, sat on the edge of Sister's desk and began to talk to us. I settled down to listen since Sister usually gave us a quiz on whatever topic Father lectured us on, but my ears began to ring, and as I looked at Father, the room seemed to go slightly dark, like a thin curtain being drawn across a too sunny window. I could no longer hear what he was saying. Then, through the door strode a being. Tall he was, taller than the doorway, and thin. He wore no clothes, but that was not what bothered me: his skin was gray though not naturally so -- as I looked closer at him I could see a red light close all around him. It was the glow from his ashen flesh that burned from an invisible fire. Somehow I knew the pain was excruciating. His face did not seem quite human and he was regal. Oh! Quite so. But his gaze was truly terrible and I could feel his contempt for us. High intellect without empathy or a quality of mercy. He hated us. On his head he wore a simple golden crown with a solitary, large purple gem inserted in it.

I saw the being held a chain in one hand. He pulled it, and through the door bounded what I at first thought was a little black dog. It whimpered constantly and strained to get away from the being that held it, but the thick collar around its neck and the chain affixed to it portended no escape. Each time the chain was pulled, the black dog jumped up and whispered into the young Father's ear, then tried to get away only to be jerked back. I suddenly realized that the collared creature was a human!

I looked at the young Father, amazed by what I was seeing. Could he not hear the pitiful creature whispering in his ear? Could no one else see what I was seeing?

The crowned being slowly looked at all of us children, back and forth went his hard, cold eyes. Then he stopped at me. Somehow he knew I could see him. "You won't have him for long," he told me. I looked at the young priest. I became very sad because I somehow knew that he would not be a priest for very long. This thought made me feel sick, and as suddenly as it started, the horrible vision ended. I thought I would faint. No one else had noticed a thing. I wanted to say something to the Father or Sister, but I didn't think they would believe my story. And so I stayed quiet.

I watched the young Father. I never spoke to him again as the other children did, and I never went to him for Confession after that. He left the priesthood a short time after that to the surprise and dismay of most members of our parish church and married a divorced woman. No one could understand why he left the priesthood; it was all so sudden . . . .

But I knew.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Finishing Up

Boy! Tom and I got a lot done today. I went out to the high tunnel and tilled everything under. I kept the South Side row nearest the sidewall because that is where the parsley and spearmint are still doing fine and dandy. I want to go back out there and collect the catnip seed, too. I turned over a small section next to the parsley and transplanted my chives there. I will turn over the rest of the tunnel nearest the North sidewall by hand and rake new rows into shape another day. I can't wait to get some 2"x4"s and build the tomato trellis. I'm also toying around with making a raised bed box over another row for just lettuces; I mean, the high tunnel is 12' high so why not utilize more vertical space? After working in the high tunnel I took the BCS and tilled the horseradish row. I dug up the roots and sliced them up and replanted them. Then I dug the three holes for the grafted plum trees that will be coming, and I marked all the tree holes with bamboo poles in case it snows again before the trees arrive. I'll have to draw a new garden layout diagram to show you all how the original layout has changed.

Tom walked out to the field and helped me get the BCS into the truck. Back at the house we cleaned out the garage -- I'm going to have to make building a storage shed next year a priority. Maybe I'll just cut poles for one when I go out this winter to cut fence posts. We need to put the garden tools and farmers market supplies somewhere besides the garage. He winterized the BCS and we put it away for the year. Then he pulled out the snow thrower and got that ready for use.

I got up the nerve to go near the chicken coop (remember the rattlesnake?) and carefully retrieved the feeders and waterers for cleaning. If the weather holds, I think I've built up enough courage to finally go inside the coop and get it ready for next year.

Did I tell you I bought Free-Range Poultry Production & Marketing by Herman Beck-Chenoweth at ? I am reading and studying it. I want to raise layers for eggs and good stew hens near the house, and I am thinking about where to put the meat birds. I originally wanted to have them in the remaining pasture section next to the high tunnel, but with all the livestock theft going on all around, I'm toying with putting them under the trees by the house in an area separate from the hens. Lots to think about! I need to call Brad (the vet) and see if he can show me how to turn roosters into capons.

I sent off today for Eliot Coleman's book Winter Harvest Manual. I think it will be a good accompaniment to Au Naturel Farm's book on high tunnel growing. Using the info in both of those manuals should give me a good idea on how to increase next year's production using the big high tunnel and the covered garden boxes I built this year. I really think I may be at the turning point where I can actually start to make some money. I'll keep my fingers crossed and get my production plans set down in writing. Between the veggie production and chickens we should at least make enough to pay the taxes -- that's my goal anyway. Don't want to get rich, just pay the taxes and keep healthy by staying active. When the different fruits starts coming on, that will be all gravy. Maybe by then I'll really know what I'm doing.

You know how I'm always looking for info and recipes about the produce I sell for my customers? Well, I came across a really great cookbook utilizing all sorts of herbs and heirloom veggies called
The Kitchen Garden Cookbook
by Sylvia Thompson. Excellent. I think it's the best cookbook about using home grown veggies since The
Victory Garden Cookbook
by Marian Moresh.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

First Snow of the Season

Well, we had the first snow of the season yesterday. We probably got about 2", but today it is already melting -- not all melted, but you can see the grass show here and there. The air temperature stayed pretty cold, too, despite the sun shining most of the day.

I decided to stay inside the house and clean. I scrubbed the floors, dusted, and vaccuumed the downstairs bedrooms and stairs. I cleaned the living room rugs. Then I moved the wash tubs from the garage into the basement and put most of the canning stuff away for now. The herb dehydrator and Mehu Lisa steamer were put away, too. It's amazing how much more room the house seems to have when everything is put away properly! This evening I intend to read and work on my planting succession plan for the garden and high tunnel for next year. I can't wait for the garden catalogs to start coming so I can glean them for seed varieties. Tom has lit a fire in the wood stove and the house is getting warm and cozy as the daylight fades . . . .

Here are pics of my wash tubs and the bench I bought at the auction:

I need to buy a new hose and a couple of rubber stoppers for the wash tubs. Right now they are good to hold the oats I bought to plant for a cover crop this Fall and wasn't able to get planted. Well, I'll be able to plant them next Spring after the snow melts.

The bench is really cute. I think I may paint it black to match the appliances but I haven't decided yet. Right now it is a good place to hold my plastic storage containers in the tall basket, and potatoes and onions in the smaller baskets. The plastic storage lids, my food processor and blender fill in the bottom shelf, and some cookbooks fit nicely in the storage area under the bench lid.

I like to say a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our friend, Bill Betz, up in Albany, NY. HOPE YOU HAD A GREAT DAY!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Great News

I have some GREAT news! I received an e-mail today from an editor at Mother Earth News telling me that my latest gallery in the share photo section of their web site has been chosen an "Editor's Pick". The gallery is called "Canning Sauerkraut 2008" and is a shorter version of my blog entry of the same name. That means that both my "Making Sauerkraut 2008" and "Canning Sauerkraut 2008" are Editor's Picks. I am SO happy -- Happy Happy Joy Joy, Happy Happy Joy Joy, Happy Happy Joy Joy Joy!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Went to an Auction Today

It was cold and dreary today, and the wind cut with a sharp chill. But that didn't stop me from going to the auction in town today. I made out pretty good, too. I bought a nice little metal toolbox to put all my hand tools in for $20, and there was a pair of pliers, a perfect condition hand drill inscribed with "Greenfield Mass. 1868", a grommet tool, and a never opened metal stapler inside it. I bought a large quantity of galvanized nails for $2, a nice bench with storage for $15, and a good condition pair of galvanized wash tubs with stand (I need to replace the plug and drain tube) for $20. To buy those wash tubs new would cost around $250 with tax and shipping! My sister, Mary, stopped by the auction and helped me get the wash tubs down from the loft they were in, and she helped me take them and the storage bench to our van. I was feeling pretty good. I went over to Mary's house for a while before coming home. It was a nice day.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Not Much Time Left for Digging

Today was a perfect October day. The sky was dark blue and the blowing clouds had steel gray in them. The temperature was in the 40s so when I went out to sift dirt I made sure I had my gloves and a heavy shirt on. Even after working a while I didn't get overheated. I managed to get the box closest to the rhubarb, the one where I had planted the peas and beans, filled with dirt. I buried all the vines and I noticed several worms in the dirt I added, so I expect that when I go out in February to plant there will be loads of worms. That will be wonderful! I covered the box with its plastic over the hoops so that box is all set. I have only the second box, the one with the carrots, bunching onions, and sorrel, to add dirt to and hopefully I will get that done tomorrow. Tom says he heard we are to get snow some time this week, so I have to hurry.

I would have gone to the field and re-strung the fence wire today, but Tom had to take the van in for an oil change and to get checked because we think the transmission is shot. When it rains, it pours! He is taking it back to town tomorrow.

Saturday there is an auction in Park Falls I want to go to. I hope I can get some items I am looking for. I could really use a decent grain mixer for mixing chicken feed, a working grain grinder -- I'd love a Milpa #2 hand mill -- miscellaneous hardware like nails, screws, nuts, bolts, washers, etc., and I am looking for some galvanized tubs -- at least 15 gallons each -- I could use two of those for washing produce, butchering chickens, and doing laundry if the power goes out. They are supposed to be selling a couple of piles of lumber, too. I wonder what those will go for -- I need to build a duck house, a goose house, and a bigger chicken coop. With the way the economy is going, better try to get what you need now while you can. says the shipping from overseas is way backed up because of the credit crunch and we will see shortages in stores very shortly. A European financial analyst, I don't remember where I saw the story, is predicting US default on treasuries next summer. I don't like the sound of that. Anyway, I paid off the credit card today and we are hunkering down now.

Here are some more pics from my walk.

There is a view of Swamp Creek, the hay road, the fence I'm working on, a bird's nest I spotted in some raspberry brambles, and a view of the snowmobile bridge from the other side of the creek.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Canning Sauerkraut, Part II

Well, now's the time to finish my kraut. I just need to remind you all that these kraut listings (Making Sauerkraut and Canning Sauerkraut) are how I make kraut. They are not intended to be definitive "how-to's" and I am not responsible for what you assume or do because of them. If you click on the title to this post, you should be taken to the earlier post on making sauerkraut. BTW, I also am posting these pics to the Mother Earth News web site WeCU photo section; just search for either "sauerkraut" or Swamp Creek Farm.

So! My kraut has fermented and fortunately I had minimal problem with vinegar flies. I wheeled my crock into the kitchen and put it near the garbage can.

Then I prepare my jars and lids. The jars and lids are washed with hot, soapy water, then the jars are filled with hot water to keep them warm, and the lids and bands are placed in hot water, too. I try to use my oldest screw bands because the acid in the kraut wrecks the shiny finish and I use my nice bands on gifts I give to friends and family. My pressure canner is clean and in good working order. About two inches of water is put in it, and the canner is set on the stove with the heat on "low" to warm it up.

I go back to my crock and carefully remove the cheesecloth covering.

Yuck! The mold is gross but I don't fret. I take off my rock weight, rinse it off and put it in the dishwasher. Then I take a stainless steel spoon and carefully scoop off the mold. The mold goes into the garbage. Then, using the spoon I pry off the plate and expose the kraut. The plate goes into the dishwasher.

Next, taking my stainless steel spoon I peel off about the top 2" of kraut and toss it in the garbage -- not the compost bin! This spoon then goes into the dishwasher with the kraut rock and plate, and I get another stainless steel spoon, this time a slotted one -- using a slotted spoon at this point is less messy. Why use stainless steel? Because it's easy to sterilize.

Working quickly, I fill my jars, top them with hot water, remove the air bubbles, put the lids and screw bands on, and put them into the canner.

I lock on the canner lid and turn up the heat. When I see steam venting clearly in a steady stream from the canner vent hole, I set a timer for 5 minutes and allow the steam to vent unhindered. When the timer goes off I put on an oven glove and carefully set the weighted steam gauge at 15psi over the vent hole.

Then I start watching the pressure dial gauge. I never leave the kitchen at this point. When the dial gauge reaches 15psi, the weighted gauge starts jiggling and I start a timer set for a 20 minute count down. I carefully watch the dial gauge and adjust the heat under the canner as necessary to keep the dial gauge as close to 15psi as possible. The weighted gauge will have a steady jiggle. When the timer goes off, I shut off the heat under the canner and let the pressure come down to 0psi naturally. Once the pressure is down, I take off the weighted gauge and carefully remove the canner lid being sure to open it away from me. Anyone who doesn't have a healthy respect for steam deserves what they get! I remove the hot jars from the canner and let them cool undisturbed.

Two canners makes the work go quicker.

When the canning is done I clean my work area, set the dishwasher to sterilize and hand wash my canners and crock with hot soapy water and a little bleach. Then everything gets put away for next year. The next day I remove the screw bands from the sauerkraut jars and put them in the dishwasher to get washed. I wipe down the jars, check to make sure all jar lids have sealed, and write the contents and date on the jar lid. Then the jars get taken to the basement and put on the pantry shelf. This year I made one 5-gallon crock and canned 15 1/2 quarts of finished sauerkraut. Eating one quart a week starting in November will give us kraut till about the end of February. Of course, I will send my soldier girl the pint jar for Christmas!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Working Hard

Yesterday I dug, sifted, and hauled to the first garden box 20 wheelbarrows full of dirt that I dug up from behind the blackberries' trellis. Believe me, I went to bed early last night! This morning I planted my garlics (Shvlisi, Inchelium Red, Samarkand, and Czech Tan), potato onions, and golden shallots in the box. And now that planting is off my mind for a while, if the weather cooperates tomorrow, I'll be able to get out to the field and work on restringing the fence wire.

While I was planting the garlic, I thought I heard someone in the woods, so I put on my bright colored sweater, grabbed my camera and machete, called the dog and headed into the woods to check things out: companies are buying balsam boughs now and Tom has chased people out of the woods that were stealing them. I don't take kindly to trespassers or thieves. Well, we walked around quite a bit but didn't see anyone, so I took a few pictures, went out to the high tunnel and brought back to the house four Charentais melons that smelled heavenly (and tasted just as good as they smelled).

Guess what I found and took a picture of!

That's right -- that pesky little squatter beaver's dam. He did a pretty good job, too. Now so long as his dam doesn't cause any flooding I'll leave him alone!

The photo upload for Blogger seems to be acting up so I'll try to post a few more pics later.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Restful Sunday

Yesterday I canned the beets and their greens. I wound up with about 10 quarts of greens and 4 quarts of beets. It doesn't seem like much for a full day's work. (My back was killing me by the time I was finished.) Still, I cooked a jar of greens with the Sunday meal today and even Tom couldn't believe they weren't spinach. Lara even ate hers, and I had to laugh at that because when she was a baby, she was the big spinach eater while Sarah was the squash eater -- maybe she unconsciously remembered how much she liked spinach!

After I did the beets, I thought I would try out my dirt sifter and work on filling up the boxes with dirt. The sifter works great. It was a good idea, but because the weather was warmer, the sand gnats were out in force and I decided I'd rather hack cold ground with a pick-axe than be eaten alive by sand gnats, so the dirt project will have to wait.

Today after lunch while Tom watched the Bears lose to Atlanta, I put about a gallon of cranberries in the dehydrator and canned 5 more quarts of tomato sauce. Most of the tomatoes are now canned. I have one consolidated brown bag of green tomatoes left, and at the end of this week I'll can whatever is turned red and put what's left go into the compost bin. The raspberries I dried taste ok; I don't care for them as much as I do the dried blueberries and cranberries. This week I'll get some more canning jars and make cranberry sauce and can the sauerkraut. I want to get some more apples and put up some slices for pies.

I got my first 2009 catalog yesterday: Fedco Trees. I've gone through it twice already and will graze through it again later today. I'm looking at their cider apple tree collection for one thing and thinking about whether or not to get some more hops or just use rhizomes from the plants I already have to extend my fledgling hop yard. I'm itching to get about 20 lowbush blueberry plants, too. I will put those down by the swamp in a spot I scouted out about two years ago. I love looking through garden catalogs!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

October Days

Today, Eddy and I decided to forego watching people on television freaking out over the global economy and went to work out in the field. We put up 6 of the angle iron posts Dad gave me (from an old electrical tower he scrounged years ago) that I had drilled holes in for stringing the fence wire through, and added them to the short side of the fence line on the snowmobile trail side of the field. It was very windy as we worked, but it and the chill October air kept the sand gnats off us. I was very proud of myself for getting the new corner post up yesterday all by myself: This Spring out in the front yard I cut down what was left of a nice sized tree that snapped in half during a storm. It had dried out pretty good and wasn't too heavy, so it only took me about 2 hours using a furniture dolly and the kids' wagon to get it out of the woods and into the truck. I dug a 3' deep hole and backed the truck up to it. Then I got up into the truck bed and slid the tree post off the bed and into the hole. I was able to "walk" the pole upright and fortunately the hole was deep enough to hold the post in place while I got off the truck bed and filled in the hole. That was all I decided to do in the field yesterday! (After I did that I took some tomatoes to my two neighbors, Kathy and Carrie, but they weren't home so I wound up leaving the tomatoes by their doors; I hope they got them.) If I can, tomorrow I will go back out and work on putting the wire back up, but I have a lot of canning to do tomorrow and the wire may have to wait a day or so.

I canned 3 quarts of green beans early this morning that I picked off the beans in the garden boxes last night. I need to fill the boxes with more soil so I am going to turn under the peas and beans (I can experiment with winter gardening later). I pulled up all the beets (4 bushels of them) and that's what I'm going to work on tomorrow. A lot of them were pretty limp (it's been cold), and I think the soil was too fertile because I had lots of greens but not many beets. Anyway, I plan to can both greens and whatever beets I get. I don't think I have enough canning jars though and will have to buy some more jars to be sure I have enough for when I can the sauerkraut. I also cut down all the sorrel -- boy, does that grow fast! -- and most of the lettuce. I will make some sorrel soup tomorrow and freeze it. The carrots and scallions are starting to firm up, so the second box is the only box still growing. When I finish the lettuce I will turn that section over and add soil to it. I am hoping to get all the boxes filled with dirt within the next two weeks -- I need to get the garlic, shallots, Egyptian and potato onions planted.

I read in the paper today that November 13 is the deadline for sending Christmas boxes to the soldiers so I have to get my boxes for Sarah done. I am sending her some of the maple syrup I made this Spring, the apple butter I made a couple of days ago and some different jams and preserves. I think I will get a tube container and dig up a little Christmas tree to send her that she can stick in a coffee can and decorate for her barracks. I'll string some dried cranberries and send those for trimming the tree. I'll make some cookies, too. She could hang those on the tree and eat them over the course of the holidays. I know she likes sugar cookies and oatmeal cookies. I have to remember not to put any raisins in anything.

I sure hope I can get caught up with this work because I want to get cracking on the Local Food Atlas. Well, I'm pretty beat so I'll talk to you later.

Friday, October 03, 2008

More Ramblings

When I picked the tomatoes from the high tunnel the other day, they were all green so I put them into brown paper bags and set them underneath my buffet where they wouldn't accidentally get kicked to ripen. They are ripening unevenly so I have to check every few days to see if I have enough to process. I am making tomato juice and tomato sauce with my Mehu Lisa steamer from Lehmans. That steamer sure saves a lot of time. Here are some pics of the tomatoes:

Oh! I forgot that I had enough Perkins Long Pod Okra to make a pint of pickled okra. I've never eaten okra pickled so am looking forward to having it. I think I'll save the jar for Thanksgiving.

My brother-in-law, John Ertl, gave me some nice rutabegas from his garden. I canned 31 pints from them. I used my American canners that I bought at Bud Lucas' estate sale. I think Bud and his wife would be happy to see their former belongings being used and appreciated.

Here are some pics of the fire ring. You can see how I started building the concrete brick wall enclosure around it.

The leaves are almost gone from the trees already. I can't believe how fast they fall. This has been a pretty Fall even though the colors were short in staying. I like the way the leaves make a carpet over the ground. I want to take a picture of the hay road by the field because that will be a lovely picture.

Dad told me to get a gate for the ramp on FF where the snowmobile access is because he says people are going back and forth through there on ATVs. That REALLY PISSES ME OFF because I specifically told the snowmobile people that ATVs ARE NOT ALLOWED on this farm and someone took down the NO ATV signs that were there. I know I have chased people off the grounds, but I didn't know Dad was being bothered by the !@#$#*(_)(*@! too. Dad says he doesn't want anybody on the trail either except for snowmobile people, too, so I will get a gate and call the police for whatever else I should do. I'll have to tell John and Mary to put a gate on the trail at their end. Mary works for DOC so maybe she can tell me what else to do, come to think of it. It's a darn shame you have low-lifes here, locals and out-of-towners, who just take advantage of any goodwill extended by people. This farm is private property and anyone coming on this property without our express permission is trespassing. Only the snowmobile people have permission to be on that trail out of season for trail maintenance -- that is the ONLY time ATVs are allowed on the property -- and during snowmobile season from December 1 through March. We are sick and tired of people breaking trees, stealing timber and balsam boughs, making campfires, poaching animals and leaving the carcass to rot after taking what animal part they want, hunting without permission, and in general, treating our property like some public park. Be forewarned: you will be prosecuted.

Whew! My blood pressure must have gone up 20 points with that tirade. Well, I've forgotten what else I wanted to talk about so I'll leave off for now.

Glorious Fall

It's been a busy couple of weeks here at Swamp Creek Farm. Sarah called from overseas and sounds good but tired. She loved the trail mix we sent her. She shared it with her soldiers. I hope she got all of the boxes we sent.

I have been busy working around the farm. Out in the field I harvested all of the tomatoes from the high tunnel and pulled the vines. I tilled part of the perennial bed where I will plant the apple trees that are coming and I dug two holes for them. I cut the grass down around the hazelnut trees, hoed all the fruit trees and wrapped them, cut all the grass around the gooseberries row and I planted a whole row of native plum trees (trees that I had previously put along the long (road) side of the fence). There are still more to plant, too! I need to dig three more holes for the grafted plum trees that will be coming, but digging holes is kind of hard on my arthritic knees so I decided to wait a couple of days before going back and digging again.

Closer to the house I set up my campfire/cook ring I bought after Christmas from Cabelas. I am stacking cement blocks around it and will cover the blocks with a piece of plywood and a tarp to keep the ring dry. That way, when Spring comes round next year I can just pull off the plywood and tarp and get to work boiling down maple sap. My Dad is going to come cut down a bad tree for me (the one by the chicken run that I took the fence down for) and split it up. He'll leave the wood right there and I can use it for boiling down the sap. That was really nice of him. He must have liked that maple syrup I gave him this Spring. Anyway, when I get all of the cement blocks set up I'll take some pictures so you can see how it looks.

I am slowly chopping down the brush around the chicken coop and working my way up to it. Still haven't worked up the nerve to really go near it. I've been stacking any loose rocks I stumble upon around the herb bed. It will look nice when it is done.

I went to the building supply store and bought a 2" x 4" and a 2' x 3' piece of 1/2" hardware cloth. I made a nice sifter. As soon as I pick out a spot to dig, I'll get the soil for filling up the new garden boxes. Speaking of which, I still have lettuce and sorrel for salads -- not enough to sell, but enough for me and Lara -- and I am pleasantly surprised that the beans, peas, carrots, bunching onions, and beets are looking GREAT! This morning it was 26F at 8 a.m. and the frost was hard on the grass, too. I won't have much longer to get the work done.

Early this morning Tom took Eddy to Minocqua to get his ingrown toenails fixed. I know it's gross, but I remember how that hurts so I am glad the poor kid was finally able to get in and have the problem taken care of. Soooo, while they were gone, I started processing the fruit I picked up from the 4-H truck sale yesterday. I made raspberry and blackberry jam, and put a little over a gallon of blueberries in the dehydrator. Sarah really liked those blazons I put in the trail mix, so I thought I would dry alot more fruit to send over there. She said there are never enough bananas over there; people are always fighting over them, and she was glad I had dried some bananas for the trail mix, so bananas will be another fruit I will dry. I am thinking about doing some raspberries, and will definitely dry more sour cherries and cranberries again. Which reminds me, after I picked up my 4-H order I stopped at the little gas station on highway W in Phillips to buy my cranberries for the year. I told the woman how I made the trail mix and sent it over to our troop and she was SO happy that I had used their cranberries in the mix. People really to support our troops up here; it's a big deal. I need to email Sarah that there is a soldier by her from Phillips. My sister Mary is trying to find the news story about the guy so we can send Sarah his name. Lastly, I stopped at the Fifield Feed Store to get some deer apples for making the apple butter, sauce and slices. Bernie wasn't there so I didn't get to ask him how his salsa turned out and how he liked those Red Cloud potatoes, but there will be other times; I like that Fifield Feed Store. The apples were small, but they looked pretty good, and you can really smell their scent when you come into the kitchen. Less than $20 for 80#, well, these days you can't beat that! I going to try drying apply slices like the Amish do and see how we like them.

After Tom and Ed returned home, I went over to Dad's because he wanted to give me some angle iron posts for my fence. The iron was from an old electrical tower -- Dad always was a great scrounger (must run in the family, you should see the stuff my sister, Mary, has scrounged over the years!). We dug through this mountain of metal and I got enough 9' pieces to fix up at least the short side of the fence. He showed me how to mark it, drill it, and string a line to make the fence line straight -- something I wish I had known when I first put up the fence. So, I hope to get that done in the next week or two before the ground freezes up. He also gave me some cement blocks he wasn't going to be using any more so I added them to the wall around the maple syrup rig.

I have to tell you what I did. I have been a subscriber to Mother Earth News Magazine for years. Well, if you've never been to their web site, you should go and check it out. It has all sorts of good information on modern homesteading. Anyway, one of their offerings is called CU and it is where people can upload pictures to share with other people who visit the web site. I decided to create a photoblog there of Swamp Creek Farm and I uploaded all my old time "pioneer" pictures of the family and made a pictorial history of each year we've been in Wisconsin. I call those files "As We Grow" followed by the year. I also uploaded the series of pictures I put on this blog for making sauerkraut. Well, the day after I uploaded the pics to Mother, I went back to the site to make sure everything had posted correctly, and lo and behold, above my sauerkraut gallery was posted "Editor's Pick". I was so excited, and the neat thing about going back to look at your galleries is there is a counter that tells you how many people have looked at your pictures. It's pretty neat and there are some gorgeous pictures. My "Favorites" and "Original Homesteaders and New" galleries have gotten several views. The old picture of building Grandpa's barn was even emailed to somebody.

This post is getting pretty long so I think I'll quit here and make another!