Monthly Archives: September 2013

Hunters Helping the Hungry In West Virginia

        Another reason to support hunting and those who choice to live off the land. My family is full of outdoors people. Eating of wild game and sharing it with others is our  way of life. This program is another way for all of us to give back to the communities where they live, work and hunt. 

Hunters Helping the Hungry  (http://www.wvdnr.gov/Hunting/HHH.shtm) is a non-profit state program that helps feed thousands of the homeless and low-income families in our area. Hunger affects the elderly, the homeless and children the most and this is one way our family is able do what we love and make it a little easier for someone in need all at once. Tomorrow is opening day for Deer Bow Season and my husband along with thousands of others in the state of West Virginia will head out before day break to get the frist venison of the season. It is while I they hunt that I gear up to donate a couple of our deer this year and help in the distribution of the product to our state-run food pantry. It is our way of sharing our bounty with those who can not get out and feed themselves.

Opening day of deer season young couple hunting together(Cody and Jamie Powers)

Opening day of deer season young couple hunting together(Cody and Jamie Powers)

   If you are a resident of West Virginia contact the above website for meat processors in your area.Their are 17 locations this year. “Since its inception in 1992, HHH has provided venison for more than 1.1 million meals to the needy West Virginians”. In the year 2010 there were 35,433 pounds of meat processed and given to the hungry of our state. It is a blessing to give and there are other ways to get involved. Nov 3, 2013 Is “Share the Harvest Sunday”, local churches are encouraged to have their congregations donate any amount of money to this program to pay the ever rising cost of the processing and transportation of the meat. If you are not a church member and would sill like to donate to this cause please contact,

Hunters Helping The Hungry

WVDNR Wildlife  Resources, 324 Fourth Ave, South Charleston, WV 25303.

 Please think of your ability to hunt for food as a gift like we do. We share our love of the wilderness with everyone we can. I feel it is my responsiblity as a hunter and a cook to help in any way I can to make sure that the families in my community have hearty healthy meals that they can count on in the winter. A hot-pot of venison vegetable soup can go a long way making life better for a child and adults alike. I am lucky I  can make a difference by just doing what I love… CAN YOU ? Please think of who you can help with your love of hunting in the State of West Virginia and donate to Hunters Helping the Hungry.

Categories: deer, deer hunting, hunters helping the hungry, Hunting, Venison, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Elderberries prevent the flu??

   As many of you already know from my other blog posts West Virginia is a place with a huge assortment of wild foods. My family and I try as much as possible to use what is given in our woods for food and better health. One of the most wonderful plants that my family has found and uses not only for food but also as a medicine is Elderberries. It has been a tradition here to use these berries as a tonic or wine for centuries but more modern studies have shown that their medicinal uses are wide-spread. For more information what benefits they have finding fallow the link. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/supplement-guide-elderberry. The berries are high in vitamin C and have anti viral properties that anyone can use in these coming cold winter months. Studies suggest that the berries reduce inflammation and swelling also so it can’t hurt to take a bit everyday and maybe more if you are feeling the effects of a cold or flue coming on.

  These little power houses are one of my favorite things about my hunter-gather life style as I make a wonderful jelly out of these berries and who can complain about a daily dose of medicine that you can put on toast, biscuits or even pancakes.

Elderberry flowers in spring and summer fruit

Elderberry flowers in spring and summer fruit

    My passion for the wild bushes started out on our small horse farm  where a small bush took up residence in a fence row. After talking with my husband who knew what the plant was I ask if he liked Elder berry wine and jelly he said he had not had either in years but liked them both.

Me riding in front of fence line full of baby elderberries

Me riding in front of fence line full of baby elderberries

   Well that following year I read up on the tiny berries and how to use them. Waited until they were about 80% ripe and went to work making my frist batch of Jelly that the family loved and later found out how wonderful they were for your health.

   So now every mid July I hunt for enough wild berries to make  at least 20 half pints of jelly and if I am lucky several quarts of juice to later made into syrup. We use it as a cold treatment and a preventative… a daily dose to word off the flu season blues. 

    Last spring I ran out of jelly and needed to renew my stock pile and decided to take photos of the jelly and syrup process and share them with you. A person can buy dried berries and make both jelly or syrup but fresh is always the better option if you can find them.

   The plants are easily found along road banks and ditches here in the east and most farmers mow the plants not wanting their stocky plants in their meadows. The canes grow about 5 to 9 feet tall if left to grow wild and are thornless but grow in the same manner as black berries. The canes are hallow and round and in fall they do become brittle and snapped off for other uses. In spring the plants have a very beautiful white cluster flower all along the top of the canes against a green leave back ground. Summer leading to the  red/black berries. The darker the berries the better they are for you health. These berries would eventually look almost black when totally ripe. I pick mine just before that happens as the birds love them and will clean entire bushes off in a day when totally ripe. These berries sat on my porch for about three days to finish ripening and getting that beautiful red/black color.

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  In the Jelly making process you want a few under ripe berries to help produce natural pectin to help jell the juice.If making you are making syrup only it is better to use the ripest fruits for better flavor. As you can see I used about a 90-10 mixture and still needed to add a little lemon juice to encourage the jelling process.

   After picking the berries I strip them from the stems, wash them through a colander,

berry juice stained fingers

berry juice stained fingers

bowl of fresh Elder berries on counter

bowl of fresh Elder berries on counter

  place them in a large stock pot and add water to begin the juicing process.

  Always wash and sterilise your jars, lids and rings before making the syrup or jelly. Plan to use a boiling water canner to seal jars.

      Next  place berries in stock pot ( mine is an 8 quart) adding about half as much water as you have berries. In my case I had almost 5 quarts of berries and I added 3 quarts water to the pot. Add medium heat to the pot and wait for the berries and water to boil a low boil and begin to smash the berries as they cook with a potato masher. The berries will appeared to pop from the heat and skins will float to the top of the juice.

     After letting the juice cool I then strain it through 3 or 4 pieces or WET cheese cloth. I put mine in a colander and drain into another stock pot. When straining the berry skins away from the juice do not squeeze the cheese cloth. let it drain naturally. If you squeeze the skins to hard they will cloud you juice making it look milky. At this point I had about 7 quarts of juice to make into any thing I wanted. I could process this very healthy juice into quart jars, I can make a more palatable syrup for coughs and colds or make jelly. I make both the syrup and jelly with sugar but honey could be used in the cold syrup instead, Jelly on the other hand needs sugar and acid to set up.

I then fallow the SURE-GEL elderberry jelly receipt that fallows. http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/surejell-elderberry-jelly-60866.aspx The receipt was once a staple of the package instructions but as of this year Kraft removed it. Not a wise idea if you ask me.

   This was the end result of about 30 minutes of picking time, a box of Sure-Gel,a few cups of sugar and a case of jelly jars.GE DIGITAL CAMERA I also made about 6 1/2 pints of cold syrup this year and that should last are family all winter. Most of these jars will eventually be sent to family and friends for a gift of health for the holidays.

  The gifts of the wild woods here in West Virgina always amaze me. I am so glad to live in a place that offers so much to a person who is willing to take the time to learn more about the wilderness. Elderberries of course can also be grown from nursery stock and  planted in you own back yard. At some point when my knees and ankles will not allow me to berry pick on a steep hill-sides I will  then transplant a bush into our yard for easy access. But at this point, I am happy to spend the day along a farm road or creek side, looking for and making a wonderful tasting flu and cold preventive the old fashion way.

Katherines Corner  this post is shared on  Katherine’s corner blog hop.

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

                                         shared with the homeacre blog hop.

Categories: Appalachina Mountains, Elderberry, Jelly, organic food, Preserving | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Summer Container Gardens and Sewer Lines

     This spring Christopher and I decided that we would limit our garden planting this year to several small containers and a small garden spots. The problem is, at some point we are getting city sewer lines installed in our back yard and tied into our house. Tom and I are actually over joyed to have the sewer as we have lived about twenty years with three different septic systems, none of them modern ( aeration systems)  at three different locations. Some of them worked properly and some didn’t. The one we have now is around 80 years old… don’t ask… I am not sure how it works…. it just does.

new sewer pipe long our back yard

new sewer pipe along our back yard

      From those small garden spots I was able to really enjoy summer and just picked our last soft ball size tomato for dinner last night. We planned on planting items that would grow well in containers and learned a lot along the way.

I started my plans with a recycled container and about 150 lbs of soil and peat moss

I started my plans with a recycled container and about 150 lbs of soil and peat moss

small container and bird bath garden...tomatos, rubbarb, peppers, carrots and beets

small containers and bird bath garden with tomatoes, rhubarb, peppers, carrots and beets

    Things started of wonderful, the recycled container above  worked wonderfully and the location set up against our house with about 9 hours of sun was just perfect for the climbing beans, sunflowers and squash we planted in the tub.This will get used again next year and maybe full of green beans again. We had green beans for dinner at least three times and froze a few, all off of 6 bean seeds. The Kentucky Runners were well worth growing. The beans did eventually take over the porch hand rail that was at least ten feet high… they liked this location!

beans sunflowers and squash next to our rain barrel

beans sunflowers and squash next to our rain barrel

      The sun flowers bloomed but would have done better with more sun so they will get moved back into the tomato garden next year and as you can see the acorn squash was fine here but I only got two squashes. I may need to put summer squash here and the winter squash in a garden next year.

Tomato plants taking over my bird bath. rubbarb growing in back

Tomato plants taking over my bird bath. rhubarb growing in back

  As you can see the three tomato plants that I planted around my bird bath did very well and the rhubarb is trying to hold its own around the back of the plants. I planted some tomatoes here last year and added some wood shaving with rabbit droppings to the soil and as mulch this year. They seemed to love it. My only problems were the deer who came twice and eat the blooms off the tomatoes. I am positive that I caused  the problem by my love of feeding the birds. I learned a hard lesson…. if you do not want deer to eat your plants don’t put your bird feeder in the garden full of corn and seeds. The frist morning I found my destroyed plants I was upset but not sure why they had come so close to the road. The second time, I could have kicked myself in the rear-end for ever thinking that my bird feeders looked so nice in this small garden and removed them ASAP.

   As for the two containers that I planted  beets and carrots in, well the deer eat all of the beet tops twice. The carrots on the other hand did so-so. I had watched a video on container carrots on You Tube and though it worth a try. I think the gentlemen used a 70/30 mix of peat moss to soil and I think here in West Virginia where we get lots of rain the mix  is correct at 50/50 because the carrots just didn’t grow as deep and strong as I had hoped.  Will try again next year!

I also planted basil and cucumbers neither of them did well in the location on the far side of the porch. I will try to move those containers next year. I hope to find something to put in that location but the plant must grow with less than 8 hours of sun. 

Christophers frist harvest of the garden this year

Christopher’s frist harvest of the garden this year

    Christopher and I are rather happy with our experiment we learned a lot and we got to eat lots of fun food that he got to plant and harvest. Today will begin the process of cleaning up our tomato stakes and bean poles. I brought the only two carnival colored acron squashes into the house to cook over the weekend. I may get a few more cherry tomatoes before the frost comes. The only surprise is not really even a vegetable but a flower that I planted on a whim. Tom had made me a small raised bed for more vegetables but the season had gotten late and I had no idea what to plant in the box so I took some free seeds that came in the mail out to the new bed. This is what we got in a couple of months time.

Cosmos in bloom.. about 5 feet high and still blooming

Cosmos in bloom.. about 5 feet high and still blooming

singel cosmos bloom

single cosmos bloom

 Christopher loves them and I am sure to find more of these seeds next year. Even my older son commented on them and wants to try to plant them for my grand-daughter.

 So another summer is about gone and all I have left are hopes of having the sewer in over the next couple of months and a chance to have a bigger garden next year. After we are able to finally know that when we flush everything is headed to the correct location for treatment and no surprises are left behind.

Carnvil squash  on the vine

Carnival squash on the vine

Categories: container garden, gardening, organic food | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Summer and the Importance of Regular Hoof Care.

horse hoof in need of repair and trimming

horse hoof in need of repair and trimming

I understand that we all get very busy with summer but please let me remind everyone that we should have regular hoof care for our 4 legged friends. Sadly this summer some of our friends have forgotten or be lax about keeping their horses trimmed or shod and this is the result. Lighting is a 5-year-old Painted Quarter horse that is more of a pet then an actual ridding horse. Lighting is out on a large pasture and received no foot care or contact this summer. I just happened to call his owner and say “It has been about 6 months since we were out your way how is Lighting’s hooves doing”?  Well the owner responded “well he could use a trim”. We made the appointment and headed out the next evening.  

As you can see from the photo of his hooves they are over grown by inches, split and chipped. In this case the owner was lucky the horse was not lame and limping. All four feet were in this type of condition and this horse was not suffering from the condition if “Founder” this is simple neglect.

Tom has removed the excess length of hoof and shapes what is left

Tom has removed the excess length of hoof and shapes what is left

 As you can see from this photo the extra length is removed and the hoof is being shaped. This foot will still have a large chip in the toe that will have to grow back out to make the foot look normal, also their maybe an issue with the bottom of this foot, it appears a crack forming on the bottom left, between the hoof wall and soul. After Tom finished the trim  Tom warned the Customer of the soul issue. These cracks often lead to abscess forming inside the hoof wall as sand and small stones get worked into the crack.

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  This is what Lightings’ feet looked like after a normal trim. Hoof care is normally done every 7 to 8 weeks or every other month.  In our state ( West Virginia) it is illegal to keep a equine animal with feet in poor repair. My husband has been on many animal cruelty calls from local sheriff’s departments where it was just a case of poor hoof care that caused a complaint. Having a good farrier is part of equine management and the cost for farrier care is part of the over all cost of owning any animal. The average horse needs  trimmed more often in the summer and spring as they eat more fresh grass. The extra nutrition in the fresh grass encourages hoof growth and longer feet.

We did encourage Lighting’s owner to call us sooner and more often but seeing that the owner is 79 years old the whole future for Lighting is up in the air. I think that he loves his horse but is also getting to a place where he is not able successfully take care of him and over the next two years he will be in a new home.

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In most cases it is possible to find a farrier through other horse owners, feed stores, and veterinarians who all see and deal with horses on a regular basis. Their goal is to keep you friend and companion healthy and happy so please remember to make your appointments regularly before you equines feet looking healthy.

Categories: blacksmith work, equine health, Farrier work., hoof care, horse health | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Peaceful Death

snowing in a pine

 

When I die take me home, to cold mountain air and songs that sing through the pines.
Take me home, to  a wide  open sky and crisp freshly fallen snow.
Spread my ashes across a high range and let me blow in the wind.
Take me home so I can join the deer and elk in their migrations.
Take me home to join the circle again.

Losing my father in law yesterday was hard, but I am relived to know that he died at home in his town with his family around him. I feel comforted that he was at Peace.

Categories: Colorado, Death, Family, poem | Tags: , , , | 16 Comments

Generation X …trying to doing the right thing

Christophers 3rd birthday with Grandma Wanda and Grandpa Jim and Cody helping with gift

Christopher’s 3rd birthday with Grandma Wanda and Grandpa Jim and Cody helping with gift

       I hate to admit it but I am a Gen-X-er. Not a hippy or yuppy and that puts me and my friends in a strange place. We are the generation that the government informed ,you will not have money from social security, you will not make more money then your parents and you will need a college education if you some how are able to make more money then your folks. Chances are that you will not live in one place more than seven years and you will have to care for your children and those ageing parents of yours at the same time.  The generation of “The Big squeeze” really.

  I guess at 45, I am now really in the middle of my own personal “Big squeeze”. I have found over the years that anything promised to past generations is all but gone for mine. Pensions, unions, Insurance, retirement, job security, homes, have dried up blown away. My generation, the “Me” generation, had fun while the party lasted ( it was a big over blown drug induced ego trip for years) but some how the hangover just never really went away. I am still waiting to say “yea things are going great I have my dreams and security too”. 

    The last few of years of my life have been a lesson on, “do what is right”, not for money, fame or glory. Just do what is right and except the blessings from that lesson. As most of you already know I have a young son who I gave birth to about two months before my 40th birthday  after 17 years of not getting pregnant. It seemed almost impossible to think that I was going to go through the whole process again. Then about the same time my Mother who was about to have her 80 birthday informed the family that she wanted to move out of her home into a senior community. She had grown tired of home ownership and of the up keep. That same christmas my step father in law who was 79 began the slow decline into dementia, then  Alzheimer’s making my mother-in-laws life a daily struggle. This began my step into the life that america predicted almost 25 years ago. I am a worker/care giver who doesn’t receive any pay for most of the things I do.

    So now 4 years later, I still do  “what is right”. I quit my 40 hour a week job to stay home more for my son ( the best for him) and lost half my income to work part-time in the evenings. My family  helped my mother sell her home in the worst of the economic crises, and lost about 40,000$ in the process, to make sure she was happy and well taken care of (the very best for her). I have helped with my mother-in-laws and father-in-laws care( the best I could do for them). The Hospice nurses took over much of grandpa Jim’s care this week, but mom will not leave his side. Leaving me and the other kids to do the shopping, cleaning, bill paying, yard work that has totally over whelming them ( the very best I can do for someone who is dying). These duties are like a job added on to a list of things I already do. I am feeling the “Big Squeeze” of less money and more demands placed in front of me. It is hard to balance childhood and old age with little or no pay.

Christopher with his Grandma 12-11-12

Christopher with his Grandma 12-23-12

     I am sure that at some point I will be a full-time care giver to my mother-in-law also. I am now wondering if I will get any type of retirement benefits at all and will I in the future have enough money to live comfortably on. Care givers rarely get paid for their time and if social security dries up 25 years from now what about me? What happens to those of us who choose to take care of the children and elderly. What kind of future do we have. I hope to have a husband who keeps  a good income into his 60’s but, I maybe the wife of a man who is suffering. It is likely that I will be his caregiver in his time of need. That I will spend the rest of my life  dedicated to the people I love and not the things that the world says I should have.

     It is a future that is full of hard work and frustration and low wages but it is “the right thing to do” for my family. I am not sure why I couldn’t get that abortion and continue to have a banking career that would lead me down the professional path with more money and better benefits. I am not sure why my brothers and I couldn’t make my mother stay in a house she hated so we could have sold it for more money and received more of an inheritance. I am not sure why I can’t say no to my mother in law if she calles me to help turn her husband over in his hospital bed and run to the store for medications and baby powder. I am not sure what I did to end up this type of woman, God just opened the door and I just grew into her.

   All I know is this, when you squeeze grapes  and let them age you get some of the finest wine in the world. Maybe, In my “big squeeze” I will bear the finest gifts for those I love  and that is my aim.  I just hope that others of Generation X know that they are not alone in the struggle to leave behind the “Me” part of our generation. It is not easy and I am not rich in material things but I am happy and content with my change from caring only for “me” to caring for the “we” in my family.

Me, my daughter-in-law Jamie , Christopher and my grand daughter Paige

Me, my daughter-in-law Jamie , Christopher and my grand-daughter Paige

Categories: About me, child care, Family, Generation X, health, old age | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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