Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Frugal as a poor farmer’s wife —George Garrett

thrift – extreme care in spending money; reluctance to spend money unnecessarily

I have recently seen some examples of thrift associated with my grandparents.  To give a little she was a butcher in their store and he also worked for the railroad.  They had a small farm which provided them with their eggs, milk and meat.  They had a garden to can.  They rented rooms to boarders and sold potatoes to area boarding houses for extra money.

Their house was heated with coal/wood.  There was no electric in the house until after my grandfather died in the 60’s.  There never was a complete water system because she came to live with us in the early 70’s.  There was an outhouse and chamber pots.  Water came into the kitchen but a bucket was under the sink and needed to be dumped.  They owned 100+ acres, never owned a car or tv but did have a small radio.

I try to imagine their shock or awe at the discoveries/happenings just in their life time…Orville & Wilbur Wright first fly to Amelia Earhart to flight being a regular means of transportation, the Model T to hot rods, silent movies to drive in theaters and color tv in the living room, the Titanic sunk, income tax starts, Panama Canal opens, the depression, WW1, prohibition, women get the right to vote, WW2, states added to the Union, man lands on the moon, presidents shot or resign, the atomic bomb…it is truly mind boggling. 

Through it all they lived by the “Use it up ... Wear it out. Make it do ... Or do without " motto.


This came abundantly clear when I went to reupholster a chair of theirs.  I undid all the tacks pulled off the old upholstery expecting to find, coiled springs, coir /straw or animal hair, and maybe a batting of cotton.  What I found was…an old curtain, 

part of  curtains or tablecloths, 

scrap material, a blanket, 

an old flour sack, several yards of white (at one time) material and a pillowcase

made from scrap pieces of upholstery.  Pieces of their life from about 50 years ago.


I went about redoing the chair 

and then remembered that there had been a small pillow tied to the back. 

I wondered what I would find inside of it.  I took out all the stitches of upholstery thread that had kept whatever was inside from sliding and found a knitted object…

I never saw her knit but I do remember watching her darn socks. I opened it up to find it was a vest….

After several attempts to salvage it 

as a usable piece of clothing its usefulness was continued as a back cushion for a chair!  For all I know the yarn might have come from another sweater.

I went looking for an enamel pan in the house they lived in forty years ago.  I found one...

It must have gotten a hole but with the use of a small bolt it’s usefulness was extended to possibly carry beans in from the garden or feed to the chickens. 

How many of us today would have bothered to do that.  A friend of mine had found one of their old pitchers in the barn while tending my animals when I was away. It had been there for many years.  Why they saved it was beyond me.  She had it painted in such a way that the dent and subsequent rusted area didn’t show.  It is beautiful and useful for decoration.

Next I wonder what they would think of us now. Thrift or frugality can be dabbled about on blogs but I think society as a large has lost my grandparents degree of it.  To some extent my family is still like them.  We raise our own meat, we have a large garden, I can or freeze, we pick apples/pears/berries from wherever we can find them but we also have two vehicles and a motorcycle, eat out several times a month, go to the movies, buy music for ipods, pay for wifi high speed Internet for desktop and laptop computers, digital cable on multiple tv’s from 27 to 50 inch, have Nooks, Sirius radio, Wii and Xbox 360, unlimited long distance phone plans, and the kids pay for cell phones.  A whole lot of luxury and very little thrift.  Their lack of luxury and frugality did not diminish their life.  My grandfather died before I was born but some of my best memories of my grandmother are sitting on their porch snapping beans, shelling peas or just taking walks.  I never felt like we were missing out on anything. 


The man wants a camping area where we can go to get away from the hassle of tv, telephone etc.  If you mentioned turning off the digital cable for the summer though you would have a fight on your hands.  He is willing to spend money to have a place to get away from what he already spends money on to have.  Very far from the thrift of my grandparents.  



Tuesday, June 28, 2011

You can't have my rhubarb.

You Can Have My Rhubarb
Rhubarb, rhubarb, nasty stuff,
One small bite is just enough.
If you have some, don't be greedy,
Let's give our rhubarb to the needy.

The starving masses are in luck
We're loading up a rhubarb truck.
Bring all donations that you please
We're sending rhubarb overseas.
--Grandpa Tucker
Copyright ©1997 Bob Tucker
It is tart but not all of us feel that way.  I love it, like the robin it is a harbinger of Spring and gardening season.  A friend of mine had rhubarb growing on her family homestead and does nothing with it.  For years she has let me take whatever I want or she drops it off and she gets a finished product in exchange, like rhubarb relish, strawberry rhubarb jam or an apple rhubarb cobbler.  

The weird weather which we have been having made her rhubarb start growing all over again.  Saturday, 20 pounds of it made it's way to my house.  I had already froze and canned 10 pounds from her in May.   As I am trying to save on my electric bill I have canned some the rhubarb. I knew I had to can some more plain rhubarb but what to do with the rest?   I went on Pinterest and google and searched for rhubarb canning recipes.  As the man and Sir T like spicy food the rhubarb salsa was a must try.  Then I started seeing rhubarb soda, rhubarb lemonade, rhubarb in wine, rhubarb margaritas and knew I had to can some syrup as it can be used to make all of the above.  So I washed, diced, mixed, stirred, canned and got.... 4 quarts of canned rhubarb, 2 pints and 4 small 1/2 pints of rhubarb salsa, 8 small 1/2 pints rhubarb relish, 4 pints and 4 small 1/2 pints of rhubarb syrup

 #1 son tried the rhubarb salsa and said it confused him because he doesn't know if it should go on meat or ice cream.  It is delicious and made me sorry I used some rhubarb to can plain as I would have liked more of this.  The syrup is good too and both recipes will be added to the canning keeper recipe book.  I also saw a recipe for rhubodka (rhubarb vodka) which if some more rhubarb should find it's way to my doorstep will be the next recipe to try.  

Since the weather decided to co-operate with me for a change I was able to get a lot of weeding done Sunday morning.  Early yesterday morning, #2 daughter and I weeded, papered and mulched 1/2 of the tomatoes.  Today, I hope we can finish but rain is in the forecast.  Things are starting to finally grow.  My corn is more than knee high and it isn't even the 4th of July!  The potatoes look awesome and the potato bugs have not been that bad and I hope it stays that way.  The man has to install poles and netting for the beans and once the garden is mulched it is wait and see if it produces anything.

Next canning adventure is nanking cherries.

 I wanted to try making jam with them last year but the birds got to them first.  I will win the battle this year.  And all the garden scraps and canning scraps are going to the newest residents.  We picked up our two pigs on Sunday.  Biggest pigs we ever bought but had a hard time finding them this year.  They were named Flame and Broiled, you will see why when I get pictures of them.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Time for an ark?

"And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth" ~Bible quote

Yesterday morning #2 and I didn't walk because it was pouring..

This morning we didn't walk because it was pouring...

We rented Gnomeo & Juliet and then the power went out.  Called the electric company to find it would be at least two hours before it came back on.  Decided to drive to Walmart.

Our normal tranquil river had become a fast moving current resembling chocolate milk.  Luckily it is not to go over flood stage.

The rained continued on the ride there and was deafening while in the store.  Home Depot is right around the corner.  I figured my car would not be able to carry enough wood for an ark but I started thinking if it would be able to haul enough for a raft.  But when we exited Walmart the rain had stopped.

The ride home however went a lot slower than the ride to town.  The old canals had filled and were spilling across the road, streams that were carrying too much water for the under ground culvert to handle flooded the roads.

Both state roads with their side eroding ....

and township roads took a hit.

We have had about six inches of rain and expect more storms tonight, Friday and Saturday.  Sunday and Monday will allow us to dry out before more storms on Tuesday and Wednesday.

It is nuisance rain, nothing compared to the flooding in the midsection of the US or the droughts of the south but it still was not fit for man or beast

to go walking through.  And my garden is not happy to have a stream running through it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice

"Whatever is dreamed on this night, will come to pass."
William Shakespeare - A Mid-Summernight's Dream

I will be dreaming of a great summer harvest but I don't think I will get it.  The cucs, zucchini and yellow squash seem to be in slooooooooooow mode. Add the beans to that also and the peppers and the broccoli.  The weather has been erratic, days of rain and cool weather followed by high temps.  The potatoes are doing okay, the tomatoes are over their shock of transplanting and the corn will be knee high by the fourth of July. Hopefully this guy obeys the rules of the garden fence...

 The apples and black walnuts are loaded and if the birds let me have any the berry harvest should be awesome.

Today also marks the first day of summer vacation for the kids.  As usual we had the whirlwind of end of school year activities.  Add to that driving lessons for #2, walking with #2, graduation ceremony and party for friends daughter, fathers day, bathing the skunked cat and I am tired.  On one trip to pick up #2 son I came home with three turkey poults.  My kids love when we mix business with pleasure.

The man is picking me up straw mulch tonight and my friend is getting me piles of newspaper.  Tomorrow we mulch. Those poor unsuspecting teens of mine!!!!  And my roaster chicks are to arrive with the morning mail, so I know those kids will not miss school at all!!!

Fiber-wise I haven't done much.  I finished spinning a bobbin last night and plied it back on it's self.  I have had a love affair with granny squares for some reason.  I sit and crochet the first row over and over using up all the little scraps.  Next will be adding to that row with larger some point I might have an afghan but for now it is using up yarn while I decide what I want to work on.  I have the spring fleeces that I need to wash and today is as good a day as any so that is on the agenda.  And since our walk is already done, the yogurt is making, two loads of laundry is done....I guess that means nothing is standing in the way of me getting off my duff and getting started.

Hope whatever you dream of tonight comes true.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Morning Stroll

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.  Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.  ~John Muir

For no reason I awoke with the desire to go for a walk.  I packed lunches for the man and kids, sent them on their way and grabbed my camera.

The sun had still not burnt off the fog, leaving everything in a haze.

The temps were agreeable, the air scented with wild rose and mock orange.

I walked to the music of the stream and the birds

with the rabbits for company.

Memories taking me back into a time when this fence post was installed.

Keeping an eye out for the doe and her fawn that left these tracks.

I got back home and was greeted with newly hatched ducklings.

I can understand why Henry David Thoreau said "An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day."   I have to get back in the habit of doing this each day.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Garden is Done

It is the month of June
The month of leaves and roses,
When pleasant sights salute the eyes,
And pleasant scents the noses" ~ Nathaniel Parker Willis

They say that all good things must come to an end...the wonderful weather we had is going to get HOT all over again.  I love it in the  70's..  The 80's is pushing it and 90's forget it.  As Yukon Cornelius would say... "It isn't a fit night out for man nor beast."

This weekend the weather was gorgeous.  The man worked half a day on Saturday.  While he was gone I planted  four different types of melon plants, and three different types of squash plants.  When he got home we went shopping for the fence to go around the new section of the garden since the corn was already coming up.  We got that installed and called it a day.  

Sunday I went for my blood work early in the morning so my coffee-less time would be short (best for all involved!)  When I got back home we dropped #2 daughter off to babysit, and #2 son left with my brother to do a tree job.  The man and I accompanied by my friends daughter walked the pasture checking fence and pulling milkweed.  Luckily the only snakes we saw were the harmless variety sunbathing on the stonewall...

The sheep and chickens would watch for a while then go back down to the barn.  They would spy us again and all come running and then go back down to the barn.  

By the end of the day, all the mowing and weed whacking got done and so were we.  Found a chicken sitting on eggs so hopefully I will be getting some newer stock since some of the ladies are hitting their golden years.  

We do have a new farm resident...dropped off by someone who no longer wanted him/her....

We can get close but can't catch it yet.  It has been there for a couple of days.  And by the same hedge row...a native.

Yesterday I managed to squeeze some more tomato plants into the garden and plant two rows of green beans.  Last night the man re-tilled an area for me to plant some old dry bean seed of which I only have small amounts...Dragon Tongue, Trail of Tears and  Hidatsa Red this morning I planted them. Now I think the planting is done and we will move on to weeding/mulching.  Hopefully the picking/processing will be good this year as the shelves are getting bare.  

These never made it anywhere near the freezer!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

A Wonderful Day

"A little of what you fancy does you good."  Marie LLoyd

Today was to be cooler (66 degrees at 12:30!!!) and I fancied myself getting the garden finished.  I went out early, let the ducks out,

applied a coating of sun block, breathed in deep to appreciate the scent of locust blossom and got to work.  I got some tilling done, beds raked and 44 tomatoes planted and then I started  feeling the familiar twinges of sunburn so I am calling it quits until later.  So much for sun block!

I picked some lettuce before coming in to make a salad for lunch.  I planted several kinds as we  enjoy the different colors and textures.

I am surprised it has not bolted and turned bitter.  I have a cool/shady spot to plant some more in.  

Tuesday I got the cucumbers, zucchini and yellow squash planted.  Then the man came home from work and I had to take him to the hospital.  Eight hours later he was diagnosed with neck and jaw contusions and a severe cervical strain.  Yesterday I spent the day babying him and consolidating two freezers into one.  Today he went to work, don't know if that was the best idea but he is stubborn.

Had a great weekend with #1, Sir T and G-baby O.  He is giving his mom a hard time would be really mean of me to giggle hysterically about grandkids being great revenge so I will contain myself with great effort.   Saturday,  Sir T went with #1 son to compete in a kickball contest.  We stayed home and tilled a new section to add to the garden.  We planted 30+ pounds of potatoes and the corn....cooed all over Baby O.  Sunday, #1 had friends over so we picked up our dinners from the VFW and ate here.  With an evening fire, smores and the passing on of some magazines it was a good day.  The guys tried to make it better by going fishing but nothing sizable was caught.  Monday we let the exhausted parents sleep in a little while we hogged baby O.  After a late breakfast, showers and packing they left to stop in and see the progress of #1 son and A's new house.  Hopefully Sir T will find a job comparable to what he makes now and they will be up here in the near future.

And the future is looking better than it was a week ago.  I always get antsy about getting the garden in so I am feeling better now that so much has been accomplished.  I picked up my wool so have lots to keep my spinning wheel going.  I finished the sweater for my nephew and working on little things to use up some scraps.  The fruit and berries are looking promising

The weather today was perfect.  Life is definitely looking good.