Giant Hogweed

For the past 2 weeks or so, Giant Hogweed has been blooming along my road in the ditch in front of my house. I’ve been trying to get up the…

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Homestead Doings

Heritage Breed – Rouen Ducks

Rouen Ducks

A couple of our Rouen hens have decided to set a clutch of eggs. Most domestic duck eggs will hatch in about 28 days. The hens are working as a tag team and taking turns sitting on the nest. Sometimes both of them will try to sit on the nest at the same time. Often the drake or another hen will come into the nesting area to check out the egg progress and to give encouragement to the setting hens. 28 days is a long time to be sitting in once place. The hens will get off the nest maybe once or twice a day but they never travel far. They are off the nest just long enough to eat,…

A Few Pennsylvania German Superstitions

Webster

Every once in a while I’ll run across a Pennsylvania folk belief that is taken as more than just a custom or superstition. The two that I hear most often are:   Keep a smelly Billy goat with your cows and they’ll never get sick.   Cure a scouring calf by feeding it a whole egg – egg shell and all. I was first told about scouring calves and eggs almost 30 years ago by an old-timer who had been a dairy farmer for many years. At that time I had a young calf sick with  watery, yellow diarrhea. According to the old farmer’s advice I was to shove an entire egg down the throat of the calf. Well to…

Easy Way To Peel & Section Grapefruit or Oranges

Easy Grapefruit Preparation

Please join me in my kitchen while I share the fastest and the easiest way to peel whole grapefruit or oranges for either home canning or fruit salad. The secret is in the serrated knife. It’s the only method that I use when canning or freezing a large amount of citrus.

Old-Fashioned Ginger Snap Cookies

Ginger Snaps

I made ginger snap cookies last week and thought you might be interested in my recipe. My recipe is one that I’ve played with and developed over the last 15 years or so. It is based upon 3 older 19th century recipes. I have finally gotten my ginger snaps to the place where I’m happy with the result every time. The secret to my cookies is ground white pepper. The pepper gives the cookie a bit more bite than some other recipes. Extra ginger is used in my recipe as is lard or bacon fat. For years I resisted adding bacon drippings or lard to my ginger snap cookies because I thought it sounded gross and would taste “porky”. But…

Forced Branches

Forced Branchesussy Willow

I try to have a little bit of nature indoors during every season. During the snowy winter months my favorite bits of the outside world are flowering branches that lie dormant. Forsythia, apple, peach and pussy willow are in my garden and orchard so those are the branches I use for forcing. The flower buds on spring blooming trees and shrubs are fully and perfectly formed by the middle to end of the fall. All that’s required for the branches to bloom and flower is warm temperatures and water. Usually it takes 6 to 8 weeks of cold weather to “prime” branches before the flower buds on most trees and shrubs will awaken from their winter dormancy. The branches have…

Egg Shell Seeding Pots

Egg Shell Pot

Did you know that back in the days before commercial peat pots and plastic trays people used a half of an egg-shell to start seedlings? That’s right. An egg-shell is a good container to sow a seed in. Egg shells are small, lightweight, porous, earth friendly and readily available. In fact egg shells are free if you own chickens. Here’s the way to use egg shells for seed pots. Crack the egg high up on the small end. I use the dull edge of a knife blade to make the crack. Empty the contents of the egg and rinse out the shell. Poke 2 or 3 small holes in the bottom of the shell. I use a metal shish kabob…