Blueberry Spice Jam

 

Today is Citizenship Day!  I had no idea what that meant, so I looked it up. It’s one of the newest Federal holidays, just initiated in 2004. No wonder I didn’t know what it was – it’s not a Hallmark holiday! Anyway, it marks the ratification of the US Constitution and is considered to be the actual birth date of this great nation. So today we are supposed to honor the US Constitution :)

http://www.patriotism.org/citizenship/

Tomorrow is National Play-Doh day :) So get ready with the Play-Doh!

This jam is a step above plain blueberry jam with just a few added spices, but I really like the added depth of flavor :)

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Start water heating up in water bath canner. Put lids in hot, almost boiling water. Put clean jars in hot water.

 

 

 

 

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Put 2-3 cups sugar in bowl along with 2 tsp Pomonas Pectin.

 

 

 

 

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Add 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp cardamom into sugar-pectin mixture

 

 

 

 

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Put 6-7 cups of blueberries into a saucepan. Mash berries and add 1/4 c. lemon juice and 2 tsp Pomona’s calcium water.

Bring to a boil.

 

 

 

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Add in sugar-pectin mixture.

Add in 2 tsp vanilla.

Return to a boil.

 

 

 

 

 

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Ladle hot jam into hot jars.

Wipe jar rim with clean, damp napkin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Affix 2 piece lids.

 

Place filled jars into elevated rack of water bath canner.

 

 

 

 

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When rack is full, submerge into hot water.

Bring to a boil and process 10 minutes (maintain boil), adding 1 minute for every 1,000 feet above sea level. We’re at 2,000 feet in elevation, so I process mine for 12 minutes.

 

 

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Remove canner from heat. Remove canner lid. Allow to set for 5 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

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Remove jars to a towel to cool.

Enjoy :)

 

 

 

 

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
Brian Littrell

 

 

 

Plums

 

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend scheduled :) It’s starting to feel like Fall around here. The garden frosted last night, which tells me it’s cooler outside than I want to admit :(

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The plum tree is loaded with yummy fruit, sweeter than candy :)

So I thought I would preserve some of this yumminess to savor later this winter.

 

 

 

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Get water in water bath canner to heating up. Add 1 Tbsp white vinegar to help prevent spotting on jars.

 

 

 

 

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Get lids to warming up in hot, but not boiling water. The idea is to soften the gasket material, but not so soft that when you put it on the jar and tighten the ring, the jar rim cuts through the gasket. This can lead to problems with sealing.

 

 

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Make up a light or extra light sugar syrup and get it hot.

I use organic, minimally processed cane sugar, which is why it has a brownish tinge to it. If you use white sugar, it will be more clear.

 

 

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Taken from Ball Blue Book of Preserving

This will give you the correct ratio of sugar to water for your sugar syrup

 

 

 

 

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Wash plums

I understand that the white coating on plums and grapes is the same type of yeast as what you can use to make bread. I admit, I’ve never tried it because I have no idea how to get the yeast off of the plums and into my bread dough :)

 

 

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Prick each side of the plum with a fork. This is supposed to help reduce the risk of the plums exploding while they’re in the canner. I dunno…exploding plums…explosive diarrhea…sounds too close to me! :)

 

 

 

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Get sterilized jars into hot water to start warming up. This helps reduce the risk of jars cracking when they hit the hot water of the canner.

 

 

 

 

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Fill jar with plums.

I’m using pint jars because one only needs so much fiber in one day :) And a quart of plums is a lot of fiber :) But you use whichever jars suits your needs best. That’s the great part about preserving your own food – you can tailor it to suit your individual needs.

 

 

 

 

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Fill jar with hot sugar syrup.

Run a plastic knife down the side in a couple of places to help eliminate air bubbles.

 

 

 

 

 

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Wipe rim of jar with clean, damp napkin. This helps ensure a good seal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Affix two piece lid.

Tighten ring securely so as to not lose sugar syrup during canning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Place jar into elevated rack of water bath canner.

When rack is full, lower rack into hot water. When water comes to a boil, start timing.

 

 

 

plum 001Process jars for indicated length of time. Since we live at 2,000 feet elevation, and I used pints, I processed mine for 25 minutes.

Chart taken from USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning

 

 

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After the specified amount of time, remove canner from heat. Remove lid and allow jars to sit for 5 minutes before removing them from the canner.

 

 

 

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Remove jars and place on a towel to cool.

They turned out a pretty color, didn’t they?

 

 

 

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I had some leftover sugar syrup, so I took it out to feed the bees.

They were happy campers :)

 

 

 

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With the cooler weather, there’s not much available for them to forage on right now. It’s not the right ratio of sugar-water for them, but they seemed to appreciate it :)

 

 

 

Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

 

Timmy

 

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Mama Duck gave up on setting in the garden. I think the crows got all of her eggs :(

So she moved into the chicken coop, where I have two large doghouses set up for nesting hens.

 

 

 

 

 

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Both doghouses were occupied by Mama Ducks :)

Little webbed puffs on the way :)

 

 

 

 

 

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A second mama duck started setting with one mama duck in one doghouse. Together they hatched out two very cute little puffs :)

 

 

 

 

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But the mama duck hens kept running all over like crazy, and the babies couldn’t keep up. I tried to pen the mamas and babies off to themselves, but the mamas just trampled one of the babies. So I absconded the one remaining baby and brought Timmy inside. Timmy was lonely, so I put a mirror in with him/her.

 

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Two days after the ducklings hatched, mama turkey hen hatched out two chicks. She jumped off the nest and left both chicks sitting in the nest. They were cold and bewildered when I found them.

So I took the two chicks and put them in with Timmy.

 

 

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Timmy seems pretty happy to have company, even if they don’t look like the fuzzy black thing in the mirror.

The two chicks don’t know quite what to think. The big white thing that was keeping them warm disappeared and now here’s this little black puffy thing.

 

 

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But they seem to be getting along okay and are pretty happy :)

Heather is enjoying having them around to read to :)

If we could all only get along like that :)

 

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Arnica in bloom :)

 

 

Charity begins at home, but should not end there
Proverb

Crystal Park

 

Tomorrow is Grandparent’s Day :) Happy Grandparents Day to all you grandparents out there :)

 

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Heather and I ventured into Montana’s Pioneer Mountains to dig for quartz crystals at Crystal Park. I thought we could start off the school year with a geological field trip :)

I was told that September is the best time to go because it’s not too hot and you don’t have to deal with mosquitoes.

 

 

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The person who told us about the park said that water is available there. I just wasn’t expecting to have to pump it :) It was kind of an off-color, too, so I’m glad we brought drinking water :)

The park is at 7800 feet in elevation. One of the locals told us that they have 6 weeks of summer and one month of that is mosquitoes :)

 

 

 

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My mom met us there to dig around, too :)

She’s getting around pretty well after having a broken hip at the end of March.

 

 

 

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Heather got pretty serious right away about examining every rock to see if it was a crystal :)

 

 

 

 

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That’s what the bucket of water is for: washing your rocks to see if you have something special :)

After a while, she got the hang of what shape of rock to look for.

 

 

 

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There is a paved path going in a circle around a hillside. There’s a honey bucket at the bottom and a honey bucket at the top. Heather refuses to use a honey bucket :)

There are big holes where people have been digging, and you just get in and started digging :)

 

 

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Heather found a caterpillar :)

 

 

 

 

 

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And some pretty six sided crystals :)

She is pretty excited about what she found and is all ready to go back next year :)

 

 

 

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We also ventured back to the ghost town of Coolidge.

 

 

 

 

 

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I think this was the mine, since it was a gold town at one point.

 

 

 

 

 

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We met some people coming out of the walkway, who told us it was about half a mile back. No worries.

 

 

 

 

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A ways in, we met another guy walking out, who said it was about half a mile back.

We discovered that Montana has really, really long half-miles.

 

 

 

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About a Washington mile in, we finally found the ghost town :) My mom was sure that it was an Oregon mile and a half :)

This structure was situated right in the creek.

 

 

 

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This was a really well-built house :)

 

 

 

 

 

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The kitchen area…

 

 

 

 

 

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The living room area…

 

 

 

 

 

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Going upstairs…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There is a row of houses right along the walkway.

 

 

 

 

 

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Behind each of the houses was an outhouse, or at least the remains of one :)

 

 

 

 

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Some outhouses have been claimed :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Maybe this is one of those $100 toilet seats they talk about :)

 

 

 

 

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This was interesting to me how the house had fallen down, but the interior stairs were still standing.

 

 

 

 

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I’m not really sure what this used to be – it was sitting right in the creek.

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s a beautiful walk if you don’t mind walking a Montana ‘half-mile’ :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You do have to share the road with the locals :)

 

 

 

 

 

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After digging around like little moles, and then walking a Montana ‘half-mile,’ we stopped at the hot springs, which was 3 miles from where we were staying.

 

 

 

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I had some trouble convincing Heather that the water was going to be warm, even though it was chilly outside :) She held on to her jacket for a long time before I finally got her to at least stick her toes in :)

 

 

 

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But after I finally convinced her to try it, I didn’t think I was going to get her out :)

Grecian style sauna with 3 little areas and a fountain :) Yummy warm on a chilly day :)

 

 

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The next day, we ventured to Gem Mountain to mine for sapphires.

 

 

 

 

 

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They don’t actually let you into the mine, but they bring the dirt out to you to sift through.

You give it a good wash in the sluice area and start looking.

 

 

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Heather found 25.4 carats of sapphires, including a couple of nice sized ones.

In the gift shop, they will weigh your sapphires for you.

 

 

 

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I was surprised to learn that sapphires are heavier than the other rocks, kind of like gold.

So after a good wash and shake, you flip your screen over and the sapphires are on top. They come in different colors, including green, blue and pink.

 

 

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The buckets of dirt cost $20, and there are several screenings in each bucket.

My mom was thrilled with her bucket :) She found 3 nice sapphires and had them evaluated, which they do right there. One was 1.4 carats :) I guess sapphires have to be heat treated before they can be cut.

 

 

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I did better at the World’s Greatest Candy Store in Phillipsburg :)

 

 

 

 

 

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They have rows and rows of buckets of candy :)

 

 

 

 

 

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They make their own taffy, fudge and chocolates there in the store.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Guilt Free Zone was not very yummy, I’m afraid.

 

 

 

 

 

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Loved the look of the buckets :) One does NOT discuss calories here.

My favorites were the dinosaurs and bear paws in the middle of the store: chocolate, caramels and nuts :)

YUM!

 

 

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Outside of Anaconda, close to Phillipsburg, was a huge stack. One of the locals said at one time it was the largest copper smelter in the world. I can believe it – it was huge!

 

 

 

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Also outside of Anaconda was a great rest stop :)

Outside was a windmill :)

 

 

 

 

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Inside they had individual rest rooms – not a mass stall area. Wonderful :)

They also had minerals and gems on display.

 

 

 

 

 

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Heather was upset that someone had taken the malachite out of this one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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While we were there, we stayed at the Grasshopper Inn :)

The locals are friendly and laid-back :)

 

 

 

 

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On our way back, we stopped to read about how they discovered gold in Montana :)

 

 

 

 

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We also stopped at the 50,000 Silver Dollar gift shop and cafe. They really do have 50,000 silver dollars on the wall in back of the bar area :)

 

 

 

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All in all, we had a really great trip and if you like to dig around for rocks and gems, it’s a great place to go :)

 

 

 

 

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
Douglas Adams

Murid Snack

 

Hope you all have a fun Labor Day weekend! I guess that means school is starting up… sigh. I’m dragging my feet as bad as Heather :)

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Almost invariably, every time I clean the coop, I find a mouse or two.

Gross. I hate mice.

This last time I cleaned the coop was no exception. I found mice.

Gross. I hate mice.

 

 

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So I got Toffee, my main mouser cat, and put her on the situation.

She was all over the adult mice. But she didn’t think much of the little squirming nest of mice.

Gross. I hate mice.

 

 

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So after Toffee had cleared out the big mice, you know, the ones that jump on you or run up your pant leg? I shoveled out the pile of squirming little mice.

 

 

 

 

 

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Gross. I hate mice.

 

 

 

 

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Some feed formulations contain animal based proteins, but most contain vegetable based proteins.

 

 

 

 

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Chickens don’t seem to notice the feed formulations too much. They still like bugs, worms, grubs, and (gulp!) mice.

Gross. I hate mice.

 

 

 

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It took a couple of minutes for the chickens to notice the pile of squirming grey fuzzies.

 

 

 

 

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But then the chase was on!

I don’t know why they couldn’t all just come get one out of the pile. It was much more fun for one chicken to grab a mouse and then run all over with the other chickens chasing them.

 

 

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I guess they thought one tasted better than the other or something.

Gross. I hate mice.

 

 

 

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And then there was a dog pile, errr…chicken pile.

Gross. I hate mice.

 

 

 

 

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I was NOT sad when the last disgusting little rodentia muridae was gone.

ick. yuck. gross.

 

 

 

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Tasty little afternoon snack, I guess.

Gross. I hate mice.

 

 

 

 

 

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This chicken has her treasure on the ground right now, making sure it isn’t moving anymore :(

bleah.

 

 

 

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Now she’s running off into the trees with her prize.

Gross.

 

 

 

 

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Giving it a good shake – make sure it’s really dead.

Yuck.

 

 

 

 

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She kept running away from me when I was trying to take her picture. She was worried I was going to steal her prize. So she downed the whole thing. Just the tail sticking out now.

ugh! bleah! aack! My stomach is churning even now.

Gross. I hate mice.

 

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. -Winston Churchill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plants

 

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Andy’s blueberry plant experiment in the aquaponics is showing signs of success.

He took some cuttings off of a blueberry plant, dipped them in rooting hormone, and buried them in some potting soil, attempting to initiate root growth on the cuttings. There are a few small hair roots growing.

 

 

 

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And there’s some very cute little leaves showing themselves :)

 

 

 

 

 

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Tomato plant in the aquaponics bed

Doesn’t it seem weird that tomatoes are a fruit? I guess no weirder than corn is technically a grass.

 

 

 

 

 

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The borage in the aquaponics is doing well, too :)

I got borage because I read an article that made it sound really cool and nummy. Do you think I can find that article now???

 

 

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Last year I planted some taters in straw bales, but nothing happened.

This year, I tried planting taters in the straw bales again, and I guess the straw was a happier spot for the taters. Am curious to see if I get any taters out of the bales :)

 

 

service berry, huckleberry 066I was out by Sam’s area and heard a lot of racket. I was afraid that Sam was tearing apart his tree house. But instead there was a lot of activity in the trees above the tree house. This little fuzzy squirrel was running up and down the branches knocking fir cones off of the tree and onto Sam’s shed. He is busy getting ready for winter. Don’t really want to think about that. You know, snow is a four letter word.

 

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Curiosity is simply another word for hope. -McLellan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mrs. Qwirkle

 

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Do you see what I see?

That one little yellow puff peeking out…

 

 

 

 

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Turned out to be 3 puffs :) They’re so cute :)

Mrs. Qwirkle is kind of a late bloomer. She is 5 or 6 years old and this is the first time that she has decided to set. She isn’t quite sure what to think of these little puffy creatures that constantly peep at her.

 

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Mrs. Qwirkle still has some eggs that she is setting on, so I put some feed and water nearby for the babies.

 

 

 

 

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They seem pretty happy :)

They’re so cute :)

Mrs. Qwirkle is pretty good about letting me get close to her babies, unlike Mrs. Thistledown. But she sure keeps an eye on me :)

 

 

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All of the kids got new collars :)

 

 

 

 

 

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Aura telling Sophia that she can’t have any of the treats :)

You’re a chicken. This is for goats.

 

 

 

 

Positive thinking is the key to success in business, education, pro football, anything that you can mention. I go out there thinking that I’m going to complete every pass.
Ron Jaworski

Weed Control

 

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We took the goats out for a walk :)

 

 

 

 

 

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Aura, Gadget, Gloria, Kovu and Kiara thought it was pretty cool to go adventuring :)

They were running all around and exploring new things :)

 

 

 

 

 

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Sam thought he was being deprived and hollered about it :)

 

Silly Sam.

 

 

 

 

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We found a bumble bee :)

Trixie Belle tried to eat it :(

 

 

 

 

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Sometimes the goats led the way…

 

 

 

 

 

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…and sometimes Heather led the way.

 

It was a good walk :)

 

 

 

 

 

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Olivia did pretty well for her first time of being on a lead :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trixie Belle discovered knapweed. She thought it was pretty tasty stuff :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Madeline likes mullein plants :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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She got Olivia to eat some with her :)

 

Looks like good weed control without the chemicals :) And they fertilize as they go :)

 

 

 

 

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Enjoying some other weeds :)

Kovu is turning out to be a handsome little buckling, isn’t he?

 

 

 

 

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Heather doing her Tinkerbelle impression using thimble berry leaves

 

 

 

 

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Motto: Those who endure, conquer.

 

Fair Time

 

Hope you are all having a fabulous week :) We have been having more thunder and lightening storms, which send the goats and sheep into an absolute panic. Heather managed to pop her patella out of place, which meant a trip to Shriners and an MRI on her knee. I’m trying very hard to ignore the leaves taking on a reddish tinge.

Can I fuss for a minute? Yesterday we went into a couple of stores that not only already have out Halloween and Thanksgiving items, but Christmas items as well! And the crazy thing is, they are already 40% off! I’m still thinking about Labor Day and school starting, I’m not ready to deal with the holidays yet.

 

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It’s Fair Time again :)

Heather won a blue and a purple on her Desert Habitats display :)

 

 

 

 

 

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She won a blue on her potholder purse :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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And she won a red on her hummingbird house. The judge thought she could have done a better paint job :)

But the ladies who were receiving entries were pretty intrigued with the idea of an actual hummingbird house and said they were going to build some for their yards :)

 

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So what do you do with your Fair food entries? Mine went to the chickens.

Puff 2 was the first to sneak up on it and try it out :) It was a pretty vicious cake, so she tiptoed up to it, grabbed a mouthful and then ran away. Then she tiptoed back from a different angle, grabbed another beakful and ran away :)

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Pollyanna thought it was pretty tasty :)

The cake did receive a blue and a pink rosette, but the idea of it sitting around for 4 days with people inspecting it didn’t make me want to eat it.

 

 

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But the chickens and geese have pretty much demolished it :)

This black hen thought it was pretty yummy :) She snuck up on it after she saw the others eating on it. But then she stayed right there until the guineas came along and chased her off.

 

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We ventured up north to try out the Selkirk Loop.

It was kind of a grey, rainy day, but a nice drive.

 

 

 

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We finally got Grandpa to stop driving in Crawford Bay for some lunch and exploring.

We had difficulty locating a non-pub for lunch, but finally found a place. But we had to sit outside because no minors are allowed inside.

 

 

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It was a little breezy and rainy, but they provided a barrel of monkeys to help us pass the time :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I wasn’t sure what to think of this door, which was located right behind our table. The sign reads, “Camera Sensitive Staff Only. Thank you.” Ummmm…..any thoughts???

 

 

 

 

 

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We stopped at Artisan Way in Crawford, where the artisans make their wares right in front of you.

 

 

 

 

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Heather thought the glass blowing was especially cool :)

 

 

 

 

 

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We also checked out Barefoot Handweaving, which was amazing.

They had 3 looms loaded and working. Beautiful colors and patterns, too :)

 

 

 

 

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Heather and I liked the polar bear :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For you spinners and weavers out there, check out their back wall :)

 

 

 

 

 

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We also got to ride on the Osprey 2000, a 35 min free ferry from Balfour to Kootenay Bay.

 

 

 

 

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We ventured up a deck to check things out. Heather thought there should have been dolphins :)

 

 

 

 

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We stopped at a rest area and discovered a beautiful little water fall :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Looks like a Thomas Kinkade painting :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Puff 2 “Who me? I didn’t steal the cookie from the cooky jar!:)

 

 

 

 

 

Hope you have a great day and can ignore the reddish tinge on the leaves, too :)

 

Tough times never last, but tough people do. -Robert H. Schuller

 

Cherry Jam

 

Today is National Relaxation Day! So take it easy and enjoy the weekend :)

 

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Wash and pit 7-8 cups of sweet eating cherries.

I’m not sure what type these are, but they are pretty tasty :) The cherry trees have been there for a while.

 

 

 

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Place pitted cherries in bowl.

 

 

 

 

 

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Start water in water bath canner heating up. Add 1 Tbsp white vinegar to help reduce hard water spots on jars.

 

 

 

 

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Place clean jars in hot water to start warming up.

An alternative: put jars in water in a crock pot that is set on low.

 

 

 

 

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Place reusable gaskets or disposable lids in hot, almost boiling water. I was using Weck jars for this batch of jam, which have reusable gaskets and glass lids.

 

 

 

 

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I like to use Pomona’s pectin for jams and jellies because it doesn’t require as much sugar as other jams and jellies, so you get to taste the fruit more than the sugar.

Mix 1-2 cups of sugar (or honey) with 3 tsp pectin. It depends on how sweet your cherries are to begin with, along with how sweet you like your jam.

 

 

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With heat on med-low, mash cherries as they begin to warm up.

Add 1/4 c. lemon juice and 4 tsp calcium water (found in Pomona’s package).

Bring to a boil.

 

 

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Add in sugar-pectin mixture. Return to boil.

Remove from heat and ladled into hot jars.

I keep forgetting I need to order a different funnel for the Weck jars – a regular canning funnel has too large of diameter. But I love the idea of being able to reuse the Weck lids and gaskets :)

 

 

 

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Wipe jar rim with clean damp napkin. Weck and Le Parfait jars seem to be more picky about having a clean surface for sealing, than do regular disposable lids.

 

 

 

 

 

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Affix gasket and lid.

Secure Weck lids with 3 clips.  I tried using just the two clips that the jars come with, but lost too much liquid during processing that way.

 

 

 

 

 

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Place filled jars into elevated rack of water bath canner.

I like to alternate filling sides of the rack so that one side doesn’t become too heavy and pull one of the rack handles off of the side of the canner.

 

 

cherry filling, sophia 023Process for 10 minutes, adding 1 minute for each 1,000 feet above sea level. Since we are at 2,000 feet, I process mine for 12 minutes.

Remove canner from heat, remove canner lid and allow it to set for 5 minutes before removing jars.

Allow Weck jars to cool completely before removing clips to check seals.

 

 

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Some nice things to add into your jam: 1 tsp almond extract, and 1/2 tsp nutmeg. Just add them when you add in the pectin-sugar mixture.

 

 

 

 

Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures.
Jackson Brown