Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gathering Hickory Nuts

We had a hard frost this past week and the hickory nuts are falling.   Each nut hits the ground with a loud "ka-thunk".  We joke that we should be wearing hard hats.

Hickory Nuts in Grass Photo by Tori Beveridge

The outer husks bloom like flowers, revealing the nuts hiding inside their shells.

Hickory Nuts in Leaves Photo by Tori Beveridge

It doesn't take long to fill a basket.

Hickory Nuts in Basket Photo by Tori Beveridge

We have plenty.  Hickory Nut Tarts sound good.

Hickory Nuts Photo by Tori Beveridge
This photo is available as a print, because I loved it so much and want it to hang on my kitchen wall.  You can find it HERE

I used the following textures:
Grunge Framed from the Minimay Set
Rue Marion from the French Connection Set

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Good Morning Sunshine

Good Morning Sunshine - Photo by Tori Beveridge

"Welcome every morning with a smile. Look on the new day as another special gift from your Creator, another golden opportunity to complete what you were unable to finish yesterday. Be a self-starter. Let your first hour set the theme of success and positive action that is certain to echo through your entire day. Today will never happen again. Don't waste it with a false start or no start at all. You were not born to fail."  - Og Mandino

Linking up with

Kim Klassen dot Com

Friday, June 21, 2013

Mulberry Madness

Mulberries, Photo by Tori Beveridge

Last week, while picking radishes and lettuce from the garden, I noticed our mulberries were starting to ripen.

Radishes and mulberries Photo by Tori Beveridge AHWT

A few found their way into my basket, but it was obvious I was going to need to come out with baskets and bowls just for the berries.

Last year, because it was so hot and dry, there were barely enough mulberries for the birds and wild animals.   This year the trees are laden.  We've been picking every day, twice a day and have picked and frozen pounds and pounds of these delicious berries.

We always keep some fresh to snack on and to cook with.

The very first quart we picked, went straight (after rinsing)  into my 8 x 8 pan, ready to be made into cobbler.

Mulberries in the pan, Photo by Tori Beveridge

Yes, you can leave the little green stems on, thank goodness!

This is my favorite Mulberry Cobbler recipe.  It has a delicious shortcake like crust and the mulberries cook up sweet and juicy underneath it.  I originally got the recipe from Circle B Kitchen, HERE, and made a few slight changes to it.

Mulberry Cobbler

1 qt mulberries 
2 tablespoons lemon juice (one small lemon)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water (if  using frozen berries, eliminate the water)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tablespoon butter

1 1/3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup lard or butter
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Place mulberries in an 8 x 8 pan.

In a small bowl combine the lemon juice, water, cornstarch, salt and sugar.  Stir until the cornstarch is dissolved.  Microwave for 30 seconds.

Pour the cornstarch mixture over the berries in the pan.  Mix gently.  Cut the butter into small pieces and dot the top of the berries with them.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Cut in the lard or butter with a knife or pastry blender, until the pieces are the size of small peas.  Slowly add the milk, stirring until a soft dough is formed.  Form into a ball and knead on a floured board for 20 to 30 seconds. Roll the dough out to the size of your baking pan.  Dough will be 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. 

Place the dough on top of the berries.  Cut 2 or 3 slashes on the top for steam to escape and sprinkle the top with a little more sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes.  Let cool at least 30 minutes before serving.  We like it completely cooled.

Delicious plain or serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

Mulberry Cobbler, Photo by Tori Beveridge

I've made three cobblers since we started our harvest.  They don't last long around here.

I also made Mulberry liqueurs, one batch with vodka, one batch with brandy.

Mulberry Liqueurs, Photo by Tori Beveridge

They won't be ready until September.

And, yes, of course I've made Mulberry Jam.

Mulberry Jam, Photo by Tori Beveridge

Mulberries do not have a lot of natural pectin, so the jam tends to be more saucy than other jams.  This makes it perfect for topping pancakes, soaking into biscuits and topping ice cream.  Some people strain their jam of the fruit and seeds to make jelly, but I like to keep them in.  The seeds which rise to the top when you make the jam, stir easily through the jam once opened and don't rise back up.

So, what do I do when I have plenty of eggs and Mulberry Jam?

Eggs and mulberries, Photo by Tori Beveridge

I make fresh popovers and jam!  Perfect for brunch or tea.

Popovers and Mulberry Jam, Photo by Tori Beveridge

My husband has requested a Mulberry Pie for dinner tonight, so I must be off.  I hope you're enjoying mulberry season too.

I'm linking to:

From The Farm Blog Hop

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Good Friends

Yesterday, I spied Pamunky, our chow/rottweiler mix, and Sniper, the star of last Tuesday's Black and White Texture Tuesday, enjoying the warm weather together.

Pamunky and Sniper Photo by Tori Beveridge AHWT

I grabbed my camera and as quietly and slowly as possible slipped outside.  I didn't want to disturb the moment.

Pamunky and Sniper Photo 2 by Tori Beveridge AHWT

Pamunky started licking Sniper.  Try as I might, I couldn't capture the times when her tongue was out and I was snapping continuously.

Pamunky and Sniper Photo 3 by Tori Beveridge AHWT

Sniper didn't seem to mind too much.

Pamunky and Sniper Photo 4 by Tori Beveridge AHWT

I left them in peace to enjoy the rest of their afternoon.

In all of the above I used Kim Klassen's 1402 Magic texture, set to soft light.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Buffalo Gnat Update

We lost our Silver Laced Wyandotte, Lacey, to the buffalo gnats this afternoon, despite all of our efforts.  She died in Mr. B.'s arms.

Lacey's first time outdoors when she was about 3 weeks old.
Her back was quite bare due to the attentions of our rooster.  She was wearing a saddle, but the flies could get underneath it.  Casualties in chickens who have poor feather coverage is apparently higher; as it's easier for the flies to get to the skin.

Lacey out foraging about two weeks ago.

The flies are bad here right now with our hot weather and all the rain and flooding we've had in Illinois.

We're trying everything in my last post about buffalo gnats plus whatever we can think of, to keep the rest of the flock alive.  Fingers crossed we don't lose any more.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Protect Your Chickens Against Buffalo Gnats

It's Buffalo Gnat season.  They arrived yesterday much to our chickens' dismay.  The poor girls and Ringo spent the day snapping at them in the air, eating them off themselves and each other, and trying to hide from them.

Running for cover.
I had been dreading the three week invasion of these nasty little biting flies after I had heard of all the damage they had done to chicken flocks here in the past few years.  I dreaded it even more than the fox that managed to get one of our Rhode Island Reds one early evening while she was free ranging with the rest of the flock.  We can watch and take precautions and action against the fox and other predators, but these teeny tiny flies are a different story.

Buffalo gnats can kill chickens. The gnats arrive in swarms.  The swarms can kill chickens and small mammals by biting and sucking their blood, much like mosquitoes.  Many chickens who survive the bites have fatal allergic reactions.  The flies can also block the chickens' nostrils and asphyxiate them.   There have been reports of people losing whole flocks to the blood thirsty little flies in one day.

What can you do to protect your chickens if you have buffalo gnats in your area?

Make sure your chickens have shade.  Dense dark shade is best.  If you don't have a shady spot, you can create one simply by leaning a large board against a fence or tree.

Our make shift lean-to.  It provides dense, dark shade.
If your coop is large enough, you could keep them inside.  Keep it dark inside.  Turn off all the lights.  You may want to add some fine screening over any windows or vents.

Buffalo gnats do not like wind.  You can use a  fan to create wind in your run and/or coop.

Check for standing water and remove it and keep it cleared away.

Some people apply vanilla or Skin So Soft to the chickens heads, combs and wattles.  You can burn citronella torches around the run.  There are a few people who hang fabric softener sheets around the coop.  The vanilla does work.  I use it on myself and sprayed our chickens with it yesterday.  It didn't last very long.  You have to reapply it quite often.

EDIT:  Editing in from my comments below:  We did find something that provides instant relief for them but you do have to catch them to apply it. It's 'Skeeter Skidaddler, a 100% natural bug repellant. It from Gentle Breeze Farm http://tremblingleaf.com/ . We used the furry friend formula. We have applied it a minimum of twice a day to their combs, face and waddles and any exposed areas on their body. The bugs left them alone for 2 to 3 hours each time. 

Pray for hot weather.  Buffalo gnats do not like temperatures over eighty degrees.

Hiding in the shade of the tree and lean-to.

If you have any other tips on how to protect your chickens from buffalo gnats, please share.

Linking up with: 


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Redbuds and Note Cards

We have a redbud tree outside our guest bedroom window.  
It was truly spectacular this year;  the most beautiful I've ever seen it.

Redbud In Bloom Photo by Tori Beveridge AHWT

I use the room as a craft/paint studio and this was inspiring to look out upon.

I took a couple of close ups.

Redbud Photo by Tori Beveridge AHWT

I can see myself sending this as a card to someone with a little note inside.

I spied this little sprig of buds shooting forth from the trunk and had to shoot it.

Redbud Sprig Photo by Tori Beveridge AHWT

I love the contrast of textures and colors.

In keeping with this spring flower theme, I am borrowing an apple blossom photo from last week's WW post, as my final note card, because I like the quote I used on it.

Apple Blossom Motivational Quote Photo Art by Tori Beveridge 2013
It says:  "What if you have seen it before, ten thousand times over?  An apple tree in full blossom is like a message, sent fresh from heaven to earth, of purity and beauty."  ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Linking to A Haven For Vee's May Note Card Party

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Black and White Photo

Meet Sniper, one of our six cats.

In reality she is orange (red) and white, but, seeing as the theme for Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday is Black and White, you'll have to imagine her coloring.

I used Kim's Unleashed and Paper and Paste textures on this.  Both were changed to gray scale.  Paper and Paste was laid first set to Burn @ 100%.  Unleashed is on top of that set to Soft Light @ 72%.

Linking to:


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Apple Blossoms

Apple Blossom Motivational Quote Photo Art by Tori Beveridge
"What if you have seen it before, ten thousand times over?  An apple tree in full blossom is like a message, sent fresh from heaven to earth, of purity and beauty."  ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Apple Blossoms Photo 1 by Tori Beveridge

Apple Blossoms Photo 2 by Tori Beveridge

Linking to:

Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday, The Pop Edition.  Textures used were Cora (top and bottom photos) and Return (middle and bottom photos).

and to:

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Time To Market Fresh Eggs

Love and eggs are best when they are fresh.  Russian Proverb

I love our fresh eggs.  With our sweet girls laying six to seven eggs a day, the time has come when we can no longer keep up our consumption with their production.  One can only eat so many eggs per day or bake so many cakes, popovers, cookies, custards and quiches.  Our freezer is filling up with baked goods.

The eggs our hens produce are as delicious as they are beautiful and should be enjoyed fresh.  We give eggs to our closest neighbors, as they have to put up with our girls, and, more importantly, our rooster wandering over to their property to snack.  We still have more eggs than we can use.  The time has come for our hens to earn their keep.  We've decided to sell our eggs.

We are not the only people with chickens out here, or the only people selling eggs.   We are in the middle of nowhere and not on a major road, so simply putting out a sign won't work.  Word of mouth will happen, but first people have to know that our eggs are for sale.  

Fresh eggs business card montage 1 by Tori Beveridge AHWT

Flyers wouldn't work, because, let's face it, flyers often get overlooked and trashed.  I decided on a "business card".  I wanted something that would catch people's attention and make them think twice before throwing the card out.  A card that people might even hang on their fridge or bulletin board.

Fresh eggs business card montage 2 by Tori Beveridge AHWT

I worked in Paint Shop Pro (I could have used Photo Shop but happened to open PSP first) to make a standard sized business card.  A lovely vintage chicken image from Graphics Fairy and a few fonts were all that I needed.  I printed ten at a time on to white card stock.

Fresh Eggs Business Cards Tori Beveridge AHWT

Plain white business cards wouldn't get noticed and might easily get lost, so I glued the business cards on to green and orange tags which I had snatched up from Pick Your Plum a couple of months ago.  I think the ribbon finishes them off perfectly.  You'd notice these in your mail box wouldn't you?

An egg is always an adventure: the next one may be different.  Oscar Wilde

I did run into a slight problem.  I don't have a paper cutter.  I need a paper cutter!  My cutting was a bit wonky and the more I tried to fix it, the wonkier it got!

My solution was to add a border.  It made it so much easier to cut the cards out.

Fresh Eggs Business Cards Tori Beveridge AHWT
They do look cute with the border.

Tomorrow's walk with the dogs will have lots of stops along the way as I deliver these to the mail boxes we pass.

I am linking to Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday.  This week's theme is Wise Words.  I used her Daisy and Printed textures in the photos above.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Snowy March Day.

What do you do on a snowy March day?

If you're me, you grab your camera and head to the chicken coop, 

to take pictures of the snowy coop before it's disturbed by the chickens or myself.

Snow Covered Chicken Coop Photo by Tori Beveridge AHWT

I clear a little area outside their door, so they can eat their hot sour mash and other breakfast goodies without standing in the deep snow.

Bokeh Chickens in The Snow Photo by Tori Beveridge AHWT

Then, I leave them to eat and take pictures through the snowy netting until I get a lovely bokeh effect.

My fingers start to feel cold, so I head inside to turn the oven on, because somehow, baking bread seems like the right thing to do today.

Fresh Bread Photo By Tori Beveridge AHWT

I couldn't wait for it to cool.

What do you, would you, do on a snowy day in March?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tea and Shamrocks

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Today, like everyday, I'll be using my "shamrock" teapot, which I love.  It was a gift from my Mom.

My Shamrock Teapot Photo by Tori Beveridge AHWT

Did you know that the word shamrock derives from the words, "seamair óg", which means young clover?  We have an abundance of clover on our property, much to the delight of our chickens and other people's horses and cows. (which really is another blog post entirely...escaped animals make a bee line to our clover fields)

I know that many people are drinking green beer and Irish whiskey today, but I'll be drinking tea and I'll be in good company.  By capita, the Irish consistently drink more tea than any other country in the world.  (although rumor has it that Iraq is on par with them or even supassing them now)  Yes, they even drink more than their neighbors in England.

My Shamrock Teapot Top Photo by Tori Beveridge AHWT

In Gaelic "cupan tae" means cup of tea, and in Ireland it's a strong cup. Irish tea is blended to be mixed with a lot of rich milk. The custom is to add the milk to the tea cup first along with sugar if desired, then pour in the tea, which is how I was taught to make it.

"Life is like a cup of tea, it's all in how you make it."  Irish proverb

Of course there are always those who like it even stronger and for them there is Irish Tea.

Irish tea?  Why not?  There's Irish Coffee. Irish Tea is as simple as some freshly brewed hot tea and a shot of good Irish whiskey.

Irish Tea

1 tbs loose tea, or 1 tea bag
1 oz whisky
1 oz milk or cream
1 tsp sugar

Brew tea in hot water for 3-5 minutes.  Remove tea leaves or bag. Add whiskey and other ingredients.

My Shamrock Teapot Spout Photo by Tori Beveridge AHWT

However you like your tea, enjoy a cup today.  You'll be in good company.