Archive for August, 2012

August on the Farm

How do you describe August on the farm? I thought back over our month and the best description I could come up with was “summer wind-down”. July was brutally hot and dry, August is hot but milder, dry but wetter. So far we have gotten 3.25 inches of rain for the month. The mornings are cooler and usually there is dew on the grass. The 10-20 degree cooler evenings pull you back outside to tackle the leftover summer projects.  The sky seems clearer and the clouds more billowery and white.

It is a relief that the intense gardening is winding down but is discouraging to see all the weeds. While we were cooling our heels under the air conditioning, the rascals anchored their roots deep in the soil  and shot up head high.  Somehow they knew we weren’t watching!  I am still harvesting okra and tomatoes to eat.  I have a new crop of snaps coming on and am looking forward to canning a few more quarts.  I hope to get my fall garden of lettuce, radishes, cabbage, broccoli, turnips and spinach in this week.

Most of my flowers are past their prime now except for the roses which continually warm the heart with new buds and the lantana and geraniums which grow and bloom right up to frost.

Usually in August Gene mows the pastures to get rid of the dead tops and “sticker weeds”, we call pig weed, to allow new growth for winter grazing. This year it was so dry the pastures look almost manicured and the cows have kept most the weeds nipped off.

This spring he  planted some BMR corn that he was going to bale for hay.  The dry weather hit it hard and we got some good growth but it didn’t do what he anticipated. He decided instead to turn the cattle in to graze it and allow the pastures a chance to grow.   It is always fun to turn cattle into a new pasture. They run and kick up their hind heels and jump around like frolicking lambs.  A couple of hundred cattle in a corn field soon looks like a tornado went through!  After a while they settle down and start to graze.

This month we have finally gotten some wonderful, refreshing rains.

The grass is green again and the lawn needs to be mowed every week.  I did some tree trimming and got rid of some dead branches from the summer storms.  The Rose of Sharon bush had a wild grapevine growing up through the middle.  I got down on my hands and knees and crawled under the bush to locate the vine stalk and cut it out.  The branches had intertwined tightly with the bush but I finally got it all pulled out.

August seems to bridge the seasons of summer and fall. September is beckoning and I welcome fall in all its splendor with open arms.

Words of Life

“Sing them over again to me

Wonderful words of life

More of their beauty let me see

Wonderful words of life

Words of life and beauty

Teach me faith and duty

Beautiful words, wonderful words

Wonderful words of life.”

(By P.P. Bliss)

This morning as I was praying the words to this old song came to me. “Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life.”  Words of life. Words of beauty. Words of faith. Words of duty. Wonderful, beautiful words. The Bible is not just a book of words or narratives about people’s lives. It is the words of God, spoken from His very own mouth, penned by men of faith who wrote under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

I pondered on those words. Why are they so wonderful, so beautiful? They are words that bring healing, comfort, encouragement, peace, direction, and hope. They are words that inspire, anoint, convict, and empower. They are words that can break the bondage of sin, show us the way to the Father, give direction for our journey on earth, and inspire hope for the future. The weary find strength, the sorrowful find joy, the burdened find release and the lost find their way. They are words of power, wisdom, praise, and instruction.

Wonderful, beautiful, awesome, life-giving words. Wonderful words of life. Sing them over again to me, over again to me, over and over again to me.

Note: Phillip Bliss (1838-1876) was a well-known writer of many favorite and beloved hymns. His fascinating story can be read at the following link

Written: January 22, 2011

How To Use Your Pressure Canner

These are general directions for using your pressure canner.  The amount of pressure and length of canning time will vary with each vegetable, fruit, or meat.

In a small pan bring the jar lids to a boil before you put them on the jars and tighten firmly.

Put 2 quarts of water in the pressure canner. I add 1 tsp. cream of tarter to the water to keep the aluminum inside of the canner shiny and clean looking.

Carefully set the jars into the canner.

Put on the lid and turn the temperature on high. After steam starts coming through the vent on top of the canner, set the weight on top of the vent hole.

After several minutes the canner vent will close and the temperature gauge will start to rise. It takes about 1 minute to raise the gauge 1 pound of pressure.   Adjust your temperature to keep it at the correct pounds of pressure. I always set my timer. Do not walk away from your canner unless you take your timer with you so that you have that constant reminder.  Your canner is very safe to use and I have never had any accidents or close calls. But if you leave it and forget about it and the gauge goes into the black warning zone you might end up with a hole in your ceiling.

When my gauge reaches the desired amount of pounds I can usually turn the burner back to medium high and it will hold  consistent pressure.  A pound or two over is no deal I do not like to be under.

When the timer rings, turn your burner off and let the canner sit on the burner until the gauge reaches 0.  It is very important that you DO NOT OPEN the canner before the gauge reaches 0. The canner is under pressure and you could have serious scald burns and broken jars if you do.  When it is 0,  you  can safely open the canner and remove the jars.

I set the jars on a towel on the counter to cool.

Within a few minutes you will hear the “popping” of the lids as they seal. This is music to the ears! The center of the lids will actually pop downward. If one has a bubble and isn’t firmly down within 15 minutes, it has not sealed.  You may open the jar and immediately can it again using an new lid or you can put it in the refrigerator to use within the next several days.   This evening I had one that acted like it wasn’t going to seal-all the others had so I turned it upside down for a few seconds and it sealed. I got lucky!  Sometimes it will seal and sometimes it won’t. You have to do this within the first 10-15 minutes while the jars are still very hot.

I let the jars cool overnight and then I remove the rings. The lids will stay sealed and put the jars in my pantry to store.

A very helpful hint…these are words to the wise!!!!

  • Always, always clean up your pots and pans immediately. They clean up easy while they are hot but if you let them sit and cool, you will have a difficult mess on your hands.

If you have a jar that does not seal for some reason, you can either recan it or eat it.  When you press your finger on the center of the lid and it buckles-has a bubble in it- you will know it did not seal.  There can be several reasons for this: the jar was underfilled, overfilled, the lid not tighten properly, food on the lip of the jar or the lip of the jar has a rough edge. And sometimes you just don’t know!

There, I showed you how to do it!  Now it is your turn and you can do it  too.

For information on planting and growing snaps visit the “gardening” section on my web page


Pressure Gauge Style

Presto Pressure Cooker-Canner

National Presto Industries Inc
This is like the one I use.

  • Preserve vegetables, fruits, meats and fish wit confidence in Presto pressure canners.
  • Easy to read dial gauge ensures accurate pressure control.
  • Air vent/cover lock allows pressure to build only when the cover is closed properly.
  • Also double as water bath canners for preserving fruits, jams, jellies, pickles and salsas.


Jingle Style

Mirro 16Qt Aluminum Pressure Cooker Canner

T-Fal WearEver

  • Quick even heating.
  • Rust proof and dishwasher safe.
  • Polished heavy gauge aluminum construction.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son

Jesus taught with parables. In fact, the New Testament has recorded 57 parables that Jesus told.  A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning or (Webster’s Dictionary) a fictitious story to illustrate a moral attitude or religious principle. The parable of the prodigal son is a well-known and precious story of the unconditional love and forgiveness of a father for his wayward, sinful son. In telling the parable Jesus wanted his followers to understand that God, our Heavenly Father, has the same love for us when we sin and are wayward.  God always welcomes the repentant heart with open arms.

In writing this parable it is not my intent in any way to add to or change scripture.   I have tried to feel the hearts of the three characters; the prodigal son, the older son and the father so that I can better understand the parable. You can almost follow the verses from the Bible.

Based on Luke 15:11-32

There was a man who had two sons, and one day the younger son said to his father, “Father, I don’t want to wait until you die to inherit my portion of your estate. I know my older brother will inherit a double portion but I want my share now so that I can enjoy life to the fullest while I am young and don’t have responsibilities to tie me down. I have things to see and places to go.

The father  saw the heart of his son and was concerned at his rebellious, arrogant and defiant attitude. He thought that maybe, just maybe, he could “earn” the respect of his son. Just maybe it would keep his son at home and he would settle down, and work the land to earn a living as a respectable citizen of the community. He still needed the farm for his own livelihood but after careful consideration decided to give his youngest son his request and give him his share of the estate.

Immediately the son began to brag about his wealth and flaunted the new found freedom that only money can buy. The son began to make plans and taunted his older brother for not joining him in his great adventure. Several weeks later he packed his earthly possessions into knapsacks and strapped them on the pack mule that would trail his new young stud camel. Dressed in his new duds he gleefully waved goodbye to his family as they watched him ride away. The father with tears in his eyes said, “Son, remember who you are and be careful. I love you my son. May God be with you.”

The further the son traveled the less he thought of home. Stopping at small towns for the night he was drawn to the flickering lanterns illuminating the saloon windows. Feeling free and rich he quickly succumbed to uninhibited drinking and lustful prodigal living. As he traveled he squelched his fading conscious with a haughty, arrogant and defiant demeanor. After some time he realized his money was dwindling and started gambling, hoping for a quick fix and looking for odd jobs.

That year a severe drought hit the land. It did not rain and the sun baked the sandy soil. This went on for months and by the next season food was beginning to run short. Seed that was stashed away for planting was eaten and the people began suffering from famine. People could not afford to hire workers and he became desperate for food and money. He finally found a citizen who agreed to let him feed the pigs. The fact that pigs were “unclean” animals no longer bothered his conscience. He was hoping that maybe he could find pieces of food in the hogs ration that he could eat. But the only feed the citizen for whom he worked had to feed the pigs were the dry, worthless carob pods that are totally indigestible for humans.

One day as he was dragging himself to work, so hungry he could barely function, he remembered home. HOME! Memories came flooding back; food, a bed, green grass, cattle in the field, a house to live in, paid servants. And then in his mind he saw his father’s face; kind, caring and familiar. He remembered the family meal time and sitting around the table eating an abundance food while talking over the days events. He never went to bed hungry. He always had a bath. He remembered his brother and the sibling rivalry and comradeship they shared. He remembered the servants and knew that they were paid fairly for the work they did. He remembered feeling safe, loved, wanted and cared for. He looked at himself and could hardly believe he had become what he saw. He saw himself for what he was; a broken, penniless, dirty, hungry, sinful man.

A force within him longed desperately for home. He straighten himself with resolve. He would go home. The desperateness of his situation overrode his pathetic plight. He had sinned against his father and against God. He was no longer worthy, nor would he even ask to be the son of his honorable father. But maybe he could be a hired servant and at least have food to eat, clothes to wear, a bed to sleep in and a respectable job. He could work for his father. He began the long, treacherous and weary journey home.

Back at the ranch the father went about his daily work with a heavy heart. Many times during the day his eyes scanned the horizon looking, longing and hoping for his son-his youngest son-his flesh and blood- to come home. Just maybe this would be the day even if  just a visit. He worried about his son, knowing he was bent on evil. Maybe, just maybe, he had settled down, married a wife and was making a decent living. But the hollow hole in his heart told his otherwise. The few reports he had heard were not good. Whenever the father saw a cloud of dust on the horizon he would pause, heart pounding and watch just in case it his son. Then the father would turn and with quiet resolve continue his work. The older son often noticed the routine and wondered if the father ever noticed the work he faithfully and carefully did. His father became quiet and often would sit for hours just looking, gazing into the distance. Did his father even notice he was there? Did his father care that he was still there? He longed for the companionship he used to share with his father as they talked about the cattle and life in general.

One afternoon as the father was walking toward the stable his eyes swept the horizon. He saw in the distance a lone figure limping toward the estate. He froze for a few seconds as he watched, eyes riveted to the scene. His son! It had to be his son. He knew it was his son. Tears streamed down his face as he raced down the road. Only one thought was on his mind, his son-his son-his flesh and blood son was coming home. The son collapsed into the open, strong arms of his father. The father tenderly and lovingly kissed his dirty son. For long time the father held his son as he cried uncontrollably. “Father, I have sinned so greatly. I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Will you hire me as your servant?”

Arm in arm they walked to the house. The father called to his servants. “Quick, go to the stable and kill a fat calf. Prepare it for supper. We are going to have a party. My son who I thought was dead is alive. He had lost his way but now has found his way home. We are going to celebrate. Get the bath water ready, and find one of my best robes and a pair of sandals for him. The family ring. Put it on his finger.”

Excitement electrified the air and news began to spread. Servants were sent to neighboring farms inviting them to come and help celebrate. Food and wine was set on tables under the trees for all to eat. Laughter, music, and dancing began to fill the air as people gathered under the setting sun. The beaming father could hardly leave his son’s side. His son was home and they were going to celebrate.

Just as dark settled over the land the older son came in from the back pasture at the far reaches of the farm. As he neared the house on his horse he could hear music and the sound of a joyful celebration. What in the world is going on? As he unsaddled the horse he asked the stable hands what was happening. They replied, “You haven’t heard? Your brother has come home and your father is so happy that he is safe and sound that he has killed a fatted calf and they are celebrating with a big party.”

The older son exploded in a violent rage of anger; cursing, and throwing whatever he could pick up. One of the servants slipped out the back door and ran and told the father about the fearful reaction of the older son. The father quickly slipped away from the party and went to his son. He pleaded with his son to calm down and join them in the celebration.

The older son vehemently refused.  He did not even want to see his brother. His brother had left behind a trail of broken hearts. He had seen all the pain, fear, and anguish it had caused his parents day after day and year after year. He himself had been deeply hurt by his brothers actions. “All these years I have worked here for you, serving you hand and foot. I never dishonored your name or disobeyed in anything thing you asked. You never seemed to notice but were always mourning and longing for this worthless son who has taken from you a portion of our estate, making life more difficult for us and he wasted it on harlots. Never have you given me a party of appreciation to make merry with my friends. And suddenly he shows up after all these years and you are celebrating? You killed one of the calves I have worked so hard to fatten for HIM?”

The father softly said, “Son you have worked faithfully with me all these years. Everything I have will one day be yours. We must celebrate.  Your brother who we thought was dead is alive. He was lost-oh so lost, and now is found.”