July 31, 2011



Our son Harold and his family were down this weekend. He has been helping us get out firewood stockpile ready for this winter. Although we still have a long way to go we are getting a pretty good start cutting rounds. We will get the splitter out later towards fall and get them split up and loaded in the woodshed.

Cutting rounds

Let me tell you that the Kubota RTV we picked up earlier this summer has been a real help around here. We are able to just stack the rounds in the back and once loaded we can drop the tail gate and use the hydraulic dump.

Loading the RTV

When we finished up with that tree we changed mode and hooked up the bush hog for some field cutting. Last week we got the logs out of the field and cleaned up the brush so we were ready to go.

Kubota w/Bushhog


We will be doing it again next week also. Our primary heat is from out wood stove and we burn about 5 cords each winter. The great thing is having all our electrical power supplied to us from the sun, the solar panels have been working excellent for us and out battery bank keeps us in power for the nights.





July 24, 2011



Yesterday the July heat was sweltering, humid and sticky. Our clothes were damp with perspiration, clinging to us like cellophane wrappers. Beads of sweat slowly slid down the contours of our faces, necks, and beyond. You might imagine that we were transported to the Amazon, but we weren’t. No, we were in the hills of the wilderness where only the power of  your legs or an RTV can take you. We were in a magical place where the wild blackberries grow.

Wild Blackberries

You must use caution when picking these blackberries for they are more ferocious than any domestic blackberry bush you might plant in your garden.  They grow along the mountain roads in heavy thickets that strategically mask the steep drop offs behind them. Watch you footing! You must try to avoid the weapons of their long canes equipped with sharp thorns that stab at you, piercing unprotected skin and tangling themselves in the strands of your hair. The risk is great but the bounty is well worth the battle scars.

Watch those thorns!

We fought valiantly, exhausted by the heat and wounded, but we left triumphant carrying a  large bucket full.

Ahh, plump wild blackberries as long as the end of your pinky and with a sweet as sugar flavor that kisses the taste buds of your mouth. Yum. If you know where to look, you might find your own thicket of blackberries. X marks the spot and nope you can’t have our secret map.

Today Clarissa and I made eight half pints of blackberry jam and still had enough left over to put some in the freezer to make pancakes or muffins or smoothies.

Ready for freezing.



July 20, 2011



Since I didn’t make my usual trip to town on Monday, I decided to go today.  I thought with the hot temps it might be nice to meander around the air conditioned stores and have a late lunch so I didn’t have to heat the house up by cooking. My plan was to feed the pigs, the cats and the dog, release the chickens, and get on the road.

As usual, I drove the RTV to the first stop of the day at the garage to fill the feed bucket.  Standing there with the scoop in my hand ready to shovel it into the corn, I heard a profusion of gut wrenching, high pitched squeals coming from the direction of the  pig pen. I immediately knew it was not the squeals of anticipation of the food goddess and the magic bucket that rains golden kernels corn into the trough.

I threw the bucket of corn into the bed of RTV and high tailed it back to the pig pen. I saw three of the frat boys dancing around the trough and knew that idiot number four was stuck behind a post like the last one was a few months ago. The only difference is that this time it was on the opposite side of the hooch where they don’t normally sleep. We never thought they would do the same stupid thing again.

My mind was racing and my heart was pounding. Sonny was off to work and I could only hope that John and Carol were available to help me. I jumped into the RTV and zoomed back to the house to make the call. I anxiously stood there listening to the phone ring on the other end, trying to calculate how I was going to get this pig out by myself and praying that Carol would answer. Thank goodness she picked up.  A half an hour later she and John arrived.

Wearing cover alls and a vinyl camouflaged jacket as protection from the mud John ventured into the frat house and removed the brace that the pig was pinned behind. Frat boy number four scurried out of the hooch, none the worse for wear except for a few bruises, and headed straight for the food trough. Thanks to John we have avoided another potential disaster.

Yahoo finally came back on line yesterday evening and Clarissa was able to email the picture of Harold and Sonny on the Kubota tractor gearing up to cut the tree that fell in the crook of another tree. I swear I could hear the echo of Captain Ahab yelling “Man the chainsaws! Heave to!” Well, it is a crusty old Navy Warrant Officer up in that bucket.  That’s sea jargon he could understand. So here it is.

Harold sweating bullets as his father says, "A little higher."



July 19, 2011



Hey Pop! I need the keys.


Tractor Training

These are a couple of pics from the weekend. Sonny and Harold are getting ready to cut that tree down that is stuck in the crook of another tree. I am still waiting for Clarissa to send me a few more pics of them doing the job, but as you can tell she has her hands full with little Duke.

Yesterday I made eight pints of string beans we picked from the garden. Two of the jars did not seal so I put them in the fridge and we will eat them this weekend. Today will be hot and rainy so I got up early this morning to slice cucumbers and onions to make more pickles. They have to set in ice water for three hours. Just noticed I’m short on vinegar. Time to grab the keys and head into town. No Duke, Mimzy is not going to drive the tractor to town.



July 17, 2011



Now that the Air Force has transferred my son Harold and his family to a closer location we will be able to visit more often.  They came for a visit this weekend and we had a great time. I had not seen them since last November when our grandson Duke was born and its been even longer for Sonny. He was able to hold his grandson for the first time Friday night.  They hit it off right away and Duke already loves his Pop.

Duke was a lot smaller the last time I held him, only two weeks old. He’s eight months old now and a firecracker.  Everything is a new learning experience for him and he is in those first stages of turning from an infant into a toddler.  It won’t be long before he will be walking and we were excited to see his first bottom tooth pop through.  Its nice to have kids toys strewn across the living room again, and to hear the joyful sound of squeals and laughter.  We’ll even take the occasional tears and screaming along with the sticky messes and sprained ankles from stepping on plastic obstacles that emit annoying sounds.  We are looking forward to making some family memories in the Pot Hole Farm house. I hope its walls become permeated with the sounds of life.

Duke already loves the PHF chickens and wasn’t a bit afraid of the frat boys. He got to take a ride in the RTV with his mom and me down to the pen at feeding time.  Pop introduced him to the Kubota tractor too and he immediately grabbed the steering wheel looking as if to say “how do you run this thing. I’m ready to do some plowing.”

He is a pure joy to watch and we are so glad to see Harold and Clarissa. Its nice to have the family together again.

Love that binky.

Duke listening to one of Pop's silly jokes.

I guess Pop told a funny one.

Remember the tree last year that Sonny miscalculated when he cut it and it fell into the crook of another tree? Yea, that one. Well  he has been obsessed with cutting it up like Captain Ahab harpooning Moby Dick.  Harold came to his rescue and helped him get the job done. He is such a good son and I have no doubt he wanted to make sure his dad didn’t have another disaster and end up hurting himself again. I will put up some pics tomorrow of the job.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing under the shade tree with a glass of iced tea. Harold made us a great dinner on the grill and Duke kept us entertained.  It was also nice to see our daughter-in-law who is more daughter to us than in-law. I look forward to many thrift shop and antique outings together.  I hated to see them go home today, but its different when you know you will be seeing them again soon instead of another whole year.

Clarissa brought some organic plums and we were not able to eat them all.  They were getting to where they needed to have something done with them or they would go bad in a few days. So after everyone had left I decided to make some plum jam.  I didn’t have quite enough plums to make the recipe so I added some apple juice.  We now have nine half pints of plum/apple jelly.

Plum/Apple Jam. Yummy.

Its been a wonderful weekend but of course it flew by too soon. The kids have gone home but not empty handed.  They left with grocery bags filled with squash, zucchinis, and cucumbers. We also threw in a jar of squash conserve to try, a jar of black raspberry jelly, and some frozen sausage.  They may grow up, but we still try to take care of them. Thats something they will experience with their own son. No matter how big he gets, he will still be their little boy.


July 14, 2011



Sonny and I thought you all would enjoy seeing some updated pictures of the frat boys.  Here are a few taken this morning at the breakfast trough. By human standards their table manners are atrocious and they could use a bath with disinfectant,( I think I have sat beside a few people like that on a plane) but in the world of pigs they would be considered Hollywood material.

Hey! Move over and quit pushing!

Eat up boys!

How about a kiss? (snort,snort)


July 13, 2011



Anybody need some cucumbers, squash and zucchini?  I have some to spare. I don’t have much room in the refrigerator to store them. I could make room if I cleaned it out, but the leftover monsters that congregate on the back of the shelves frighten me. They seem to be expanding their territory, creeping slightly closer to the front of the fridge every day. Soon I will be forced to gather together my courage and battle the refrigerator beasties, winning a victory as I wrestle them into the trash can. Until then the over abundance of cukes, squash and zucchini will be stored in the cool root cellar.

Today I decided to use some of those cucumbers to make sweet pickle relish. I have never made it before and thought it might be fun to try. We like to add a little relish, or sweet pickles in tuna salad or chicken salad. Some chilled chicken salad slathered on fresh bread and a big glass of iced tea is always good for a summer lunch. Oh, and add some cucumber and onion fresh out of the garden on the side.

Theres a lot of chopping going on.

Thankfully there was a  breeze blowing through the windows today and it cooled the sweat of my brow as I canned up seven half pints of sweet pickle relish.  My kitchen island and counter tops were cluttered with all my canning tools, measure cups, and cutting boards, various bowls and strainers, bubbling pots and sanitized jars. The pleasant aroma of freshly chopped cucumbers, onions and sweet peppers rode on the breeze and scented the house. The Ball Blue Book Guide to Canning and Preserving was turned to page 54 and I followed the recipe precisely.

Sweet Pickle Relish

Hopefully the sweet pickle relish will be as tasty as it looks. Would you like a chicken salad sandwich and a glass of iced tea? We have to eat it all though, cause if there are any leftovers I’m letting you open the refrigerator door.




July 12, 2011



Its too hot to work today. Better to stay cool under the shade tree.


July 10, 2011



It was hotter than the hinges of hell today but my cucumbers would not wait another day to be canned up into bread and butter pickles. I picked a few more this morning to add to my stockpile and also went ahead and pulled up the white onions. They would be great added to the pickles mixture along with vinegar and seasonings.

The cucumbers and onions had to sit in ice water for three hours so I was not able to start canning until after noon. The kitchen was on the warm side with the hot water canner boiling and steam puffing out from under the lid. The fans in the house kept things under control and it only takes 10 minutes to process the jars.

What a feeling to make a product from vegetables grown in our own garden. They will look nice sitting on the root cellar shelves and taste even better on a cold frosty day in winter. A little reminder of summer on a drab day. Yum.

Eight pints of bread and butter pickles.

Replacement Generator

July 9, 2011



We had been using a small underpowered 3500kw Champion generator as the backup generator for the last two years. We always had plans to replace it with a bigger one but just never got around to it until this weekend. The Primary generator is a 8kw propane Guardian and it takes care of all our charging needs for those long dark rainy weeks.

Generac 8kw

You see, nothing is the same living out in the boonies and living off the power grid.  We have solar panels for electricity, a primary generator but also a backup generator. Everything has to have a Plan-B to go with it.  Our heat is from out wood stove but we also have propane backup.  We have 4 wheel drive cars, and a backup 4 wheel drive tractor just in case the snow is too much. We have lights but have oil lanterns, Gas stove to cook on but we can also cook on the wood stove. We have Internet, Satellite TV and Satellite radio to know the weather. We even have multiple stove-top coffee peculators.  We even have a great refrigerator but we still built a root cellar.

It is just our way out here.  And to be honest, continue to learn lessons every day on PHF.

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