Monthly Archives: February 2015

Seed Shopping with Seed Savers Exchange

Tom and I have decided to try to have a totally Heirloom garden this year. We want to join the Seed Savers Exchange to save Heirloom , untreated, Non hybrid, Non- GMO seeds. So with a new garden and new seeds comes new challenges. We do raise our garden in an organic way so saving heirloom seed just makes sense. This is the process that my aunt, uncle and grand  parents  used to raise their gardens.They raised a crop, saved the best seeds and planted again, simple, direct and generally easy if the crop was healthy. This process does not work very well  with Hybrids. Have you ever tried to grow a fruit tree from seed at the grocery store? Have you ever tried to grow an acorn squash and gotten some other kind of squash from the seeds you collected… I bet you have!

Carnival squash... maybe ? seeds from store bough acorn squash hybrid

Carnival squash… maybe ? seeds from store bough acorn squash hybrid

The above photo is of an experiment Christopher and I did two summers ago. If you find the most wonderful vegetable, and want to grow it from seeds that you save, will you eventually grow what the parent crop was? The answer is No in most cases… and this is proof that Hybrids are not reliable in self-sustaining gardening. This is the result of growing a seed from a Hybrid Acorn squash from a Kroger grocery store. I understand that in this case the “Squash” needs more water to grow to a bigger size but I am thinking that this is not growing an acorn squash at all but a pumpkin crossed with an acorn squash.

I am looking harder at what I want to accomplish with my garden. First, I want to feed my family healthier food. Second, I want to learn better ways to become a self-reliant person. Third, I want to be able to reseed my garden if that time comes that I need to or that I want to. Seriously, I think that it is really wonderful that if I save seeds I can share them with others who also like the plants I grow and they too will have their own means to feed them selves without ever having to go to a manufacture to get food seeds or be left with seeds that do not produce.I also like the idea of seed sharing and  the history around some seeds. At the Seed Savers Exchange you are able to get the history of every seed in the catalog. Really cool stuff here if you like to know about where you food really comes from.  Here is a typical page in the catalog.

Bean pages of Seed Savers Catalog

Bean pages of Seed Savers Catalog

So today I am in the process of making a list of the plants and seeds I want to grow in the new garden. I have Sweet potato roots ( from stock that is 40 years old) from last year stored away and ready to sprout for this years garden. I will start them in my window in about two weeks. I want acorn squash that actually grows acorn squash, lots of pole beans (snap and dry), cantaloupe, watermelon, tomatoes, peppers (hot and sweet), brussels sprouts,cabbage, pumpkin and parsnips. I think that will get me through this year with a small new garden.

My husband is the one who encourages all of this craziness and is the one who also thinks we should join in some of the seed conservation. So I will become a member and start to save mostly pepper and bean seeds this year. With help from Heritage Farm  and their seed saving tutorials and classes I will donate back some of my seeds and store some for our families future use. Then share them with my friends and family and hope to keep at least one seed alive for the future. (I think I am seeing a trend here look up My Brothers gift of Memories and see why)

Again for more information on the Seed Saver Exchange and how it all works visit their website and look at the large verity of flowers, vegetables and apple trees these people are trying to save and share for future generations.

Seed Savers Exchange.

Categories: family health, gardening, heirlooms, Non-GMO, organic food, Preserving, pumpkin, Seed Savers Exchange, seeds, Sweet Potato | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Blog anniversary… Who knew this would lead to T.V.

I have written my way through 2 years so far. For a person with a frustrating learning disability like Dyslexia this is HUGE! I have taken on my weakness and confronted it, pushed through it and in some way over come it. Well maybe just worked around it, but because all of you are here it means that some thing in the last two years is working.

anniversary 2x

anniversary 2x

I took on writing a blog for a couple of reasons. The first was I  needed a creative outlet that I could do while at home with a 5-year-old and with a mother in law who was very ill. I also needed all of you, I needed to think about things other than the pile of toys on the floor and the trips to the cancer Dr’s office. My home was not a place to make crafts or paint large paintings at the time. So I wrote about who I love,what I love to do and some how you all found some thing here that spoke to you. Maybe it was the stories about cooking wild game and maybe it was that we love to garden and do canning, maybe the battle I fought to make sure my mother in law stayed well through her cancer treatments made you stay. Who really knows why you all have been here for this bumpy ride, but it is wonderful and has been one of the best hobbies that I have ever attempted.

I have recently been contacted by the DIY Network about my blog, yea shocked me too! They have a show called  “Barnwood Builders”  filmed in West Virginia and they are filming a barn in my local area. They found my little ( less than a thousand followers) blog and want Mountain Mama and the family in an episode of their show. So I am in total shock and over joyed that some where out in cyber space I have left an impression about who and what I am. At the current time it looks like we will be working together on the home we just purchased with some reclaimed barn wood. They also wanted to see my husband working with some of the horses he is responsible for as a farrier. They loved that we lived in a style that is already present in the show. We share a love for West Virginia history, working with our hands, seeing the beauty of our state and trying to live more simply.

I will write more later about the filming and when the episode should air… sometime next year for season two. But for now I have a few more topics to write about before the crew arrive here March 11th and we get to get dusty and dirty making my 60′ ranch feel more like the home of a county family. So hang in their if you love old barns, wood working, home improvement and decor because this spring should make for some great stories.

 

 

Mary Conrad Cabin Jackson's Mill, Jane Lew West Virginia 2013

Mary Conrad Cabin Jackson’s Mill, Jane Lew West Virginia 2013

Categories: blacksmith work, blogging, cancer treatment, canning, country cooking, dyslexia, Farrier work., furniture, hobbies, Home Decor, home improvement, home remodeling, recycling, West Virginia, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Recycled Lumber into a Hunters Reloading Bench.

The one thing my husband asked for when we moved was to have enough room in the house so that he could have a reloading room. As an avid rifle and shotgun hunter he has discovered that reloading is a key ingredient to his successes in the field. It is one of the many ways that he stays active with his favorite hobby even in the off-season. So when we looked at house we loved the fact that it included  a small bedroom with knotty pine wood paneling and wood floors. The room would work perfectly for a man who needed a work bench and good lighting. The small room is now a work room with a reloading bench that any gun nut would love to have.

Downloadable plans for a reloading bench

Downloadable plans for a reloading bench

Tom was able to find the plans on-line and with a lot of scrap lumber, Tom made this bench only purchasing plywood and a sheet of Masonite. Even the paint for the bottom and legs was from the previous home owners collection of left over paint. At one time most of the parts of this bench where scraps from cement forms that Tom saved from being sent to the local dump from a construction site. The 4 x 4’s were actually found in the basement of the other house and were free. With scavenged lumber and paint I think our cost to build the bench was well under 100 dollars. The normal cost of materials could have cost around 350 dollars or more.

bottom portion of the reloading bench

bottom portion of the reloading bench

Top Portion of reloading bench almost finished

Top Portion of reloading bench almost finished

As you can see from the plans Tom did not make the sliding doors for the front of the cabinet portion yet and may not use them at all in the future. Trying to find the track for the sliding doors has been a bit of a challenge and may lead to him not using them at all. It really will depend on if he feels the need to cover up all of his supplies.

Tom getting ready to use his new reloading bench

Tom getting ready to use his new reloading bench

The next step in the process is to mount some of his reloading presses. In his case he has two shoot shell loaders and two rile reloading presses. So the front of the bench will be home to several holes so that the presses are removable at any time. In most cases once the presses get mounted they will be on the bench for long periods of time. Making a sturdy work area for the thousands of cases my husband loves to load.

It took Tom less than a month to do this project on nights and weekends and it will soon be joined by a smaller wall mounted drop table top for gun repair and cleaning. Soon he will finally have a place to really enjoy his guns and reloading work with out worries that one of the kids has gotten into some of his supplies.

Tom hopes to get things finish up and mounted as we only have 3 months until turkey season and we are both so excited to get back in the woods with our spring gobbler tags. He plans to spend at least three weekends  hunting and that means being ready with home loaded shot shells. I am guessing that this recycled wood and 100 dollars going is the best investment he has made it a long time.

Categories: furniture, hobbies, Hunting, recycling, reloading, rifle and shoot guns, Turkey season, Wild turkey | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

This is What Our Valentines Day Usually Looks Like!

Why do I always do this to myself. I think,”How wonderful, my husband and I will have a day together, sleep in and eat a nice meal and shop” for our Valentines anniversary. Yet, February is a terrible month do anything other than snuggle under a warm blanket together and hope that some one has had the energy to put a pot of hot soup on the stove.

Three days ago I was outside with Paige and Christopher playing in the yard and enjoying one of the sunny days we got this month. Well today lets just say that they dismissed school early due to blizzard conditions and the temps at 5 pm will head south into the teens. Then later tonight -10 is forecast and I am thinking of bringing the bunnies in to the laundry room again for a couple of days.

Christopher digging in flower bed

Christopher digging in flower bed

Paige digging flower pot on porch

Paige digging flower-pot on porch

Flowers budding in flower box

Flowers budding in flower box

So, as I head out to pick up Christopher early from school ,I am thinking that my Valentines date may in include a snow shovel and an extra blanket on the bed.

flowerbed covered in snow

flowerbed covered in snow

 

Snowy Pine tree in the back yard

Snowy Pine tree in the back yard

 

I seem to forget that every February is this way. We have these negative temps at night and these crazy, warm, sunny days. The winter has not really left us as I brush another layer of snow off my car. I fight the wind as it blows so hard that it whistles between the houses and tress.  Then during a still moment I hear the song birds chirping so loudly that it distracts me from my chore. I look up into that snow-covered maple and think that some of them have already returned from the north and are celebrating. Singing and playing at our feeder the Chickadees and Finches swoop and dive. I think they are laughing at me as I grumble and groan. They know that the sun will shine and melt the snow and that in a few short weeks I will be wishing that it was just dry for St Patrick’s Day.

Hope all of you have a wonderful Holiday and share it with people who you love and make you smile.

 

Categories: container garden, snow, Snow day, soup, Valintines, weather | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Collections, Memories, My favorite things.

Now that the move is over and the boxes put away it is time to try to make a house a home. I have been feeling better and slowly trying to figure out where everything goes. Some things are finally taking shape and others are still in a stage of ” When we get time”. One of my favorite projects every time we move is how and where to display some of the wonderful things that we have collected over the 27 years that Tom and I have known each other.

Over the first 18 years of my marriage, Tom and I raised horses on his parents farm. We breed, trained, showed  American Quarter horses. We raised our older son on farm work and feeding animals. It was a good life, but by the second baby ( 17 years later) it was just more work them I could handle alone. I was the main care taker of the farm and our 9 horses 12 chickens 3 dogs  2 geese and one cat. I just did not enjoy the work any more and Tom just could not be home to help due to his long hours at work and weekend business. So as time passed we sold off all of the horses gave the chickens away and said good-bye to the farm. So as a tribute to my husbands love of horses and his farrier (blacksmith) business I took what most people hide away in tact boxes and Rubber Maid Totes and made him a hall of good memories. The hall grew out of things that we had collected over the 18 years we had the farm and horses. He loves it and so does Cody. Cody has many great memories on the farm and was happy to see that we had not gotten rid of everything when we moved.

Horse decor with trophies and photos

Horse decor with trophies and photos

I was lucky that I had saved my son Cody’s pony blanket, it worked out as a nice backdrop for our trophies.  I also added the spurs that my father made back in the Seventy’s. He was a welder and loved the old west and loved to make things. So the result is a pair of wire edged dragon spurs. I don’t think anyone ever used them on a horse but they sure look nice. The photos are of some of our wonderful babies. Tom and I always loved to work with the young ones and we won a few shows with them.

Horse decor photos of Tom

Horse decor photos of Tom

I also wanted to show off some of his horse shoes and a bandanna that I made him for when he worked in bad weather. I added an old feed sack and a wonderful photo of Tom working on an anvil and farrier school. The bits are ones we have used over the years and make us think of the mares we rode with them.  All these things remind me of some of the best times in our married life and I am glad I could make it for him.

Then I moved into the kitchen and tried to find a reasonable way to display my collection. I guess we all have funny things we collect and mine is dishes and /or plates. I started my collection in the 80’s while traveling and it just continues to grow every year. I have plates from all the places I have visited in Europe and the US. Some are fine china and others are pewter or stone ware but all of them have some kind of connection to a time or place that Tom and I have shared over the years. I am sure many of you have collections of souvenirs, my father had stones from many of the places he went and when he passed he had a large “rock collection”. A friend collects shot glasses from her travels and some collect spoons, or decks of cards. Some times the items in our collections help us remember a place better and sometimes a great story to go along with the item.

 

kitchen wall full of plates

kitchen wall full of plates

jubilee chine from England

Jubilee china from England

 

Delft transfer ware wooden shoe maker

Delft transfer ware wooden shoe maker Holland

Tier Germany Volks Marching plates

Trier, Germany Volks Marching china plate

West Virginia State Park stoneware plate, Holly River State Park image

West Virginia State Park stoneware plate, Holly River State Park image

What do you collect? What kind of memories do they hold for you or are they just for the fun of collecting. How did your collection start. As I said above mine started as a way to remember some of the places I have traveled and grew from that. Let me know that I am not alone in having way to much stuff and not enough room to share it all!

I also want to thank Holly over at Redterrain for the idea of talking about objects we love and why we love them. She has a wonderful Photography blog of her home in Australia and she wanted to know if her readers had some object that we have a deep connection to… and as you can see I just wanted to show her my Plate collection. I love them and they are one of the few things in the this world I would miss if I had to give them up.

Categories: About me, collections, Collector Plates, Dishes, family memories, heirlooms, Home Decor, Horses, Memories, nostalgic, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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