Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Storm – Magnolia Down!

We've lived here, at Magnolia Holler, for almost 2 years now, and with every storm we always pray we won’t lose power; it’s flickered here and there, gone out for a few minutes and back on, but we’ve been very fortunate not to have lost it long. Well, with that storm that blew through here last night, let me just say – 15 ½ hours later our power is back ON! Yes, that is right, we lost power.
And honestly it didn’t bother me, I’ve never minded being without power, I LOVE candle light and flashlights made it fun for our son. The only annoying part is the water -- being on a well means when you don’t have power, you don’t have water! Other than that, we had a blast. Luckily the fridge was already pretty bare, and the freezer well stocked. So, the freezer stayed frozen and the fridge, well, there wasn’t too much that spoiled.
Now onto the damage assessment – fortunately nothing fell on the house or any outbuildings. The driveway washed out (but that happens with almost every rainfall). Several branches down, but the two  main things of destruction are –
The top branch of one of my Magnolia’s just up and broke off! And it fell right on a dogwood! We have plenty of dogwoods around, but this was our only Red Dogwood!
And, another tree just cracked halfway down the truck.
It fell right next too, but fortunatly not on, our Asian Pear tree! Whew, that was a close one!
I hope everyone is safe, with minimal to no damage!
-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Our Christmas Eve Adventure

I know it's been a while since Christmas Eve, but my 3 year old son talk’s nonstop about it, so I have to share!

On Christmas Eve we had our first snow fall -- though it was only flurries and a dusting, it still provided some squeals of delight! We caught snowflakes on our tongue and had a grand ole time dancing around like fools!

We baked cookies, and delivered a cookie plate to our neighbors. While does this we visited with the chickens, horses, and pigs. The pigs had 5-day old little piglets, which proved to be most exciting to my son.

Finally on our way back home, we were stopped by a herd of 5 cows standing in our driveway!  The neighbor’s cows love to come visit us (and eat our Winter Wheat)! This was one of the best Christmas Eve’s we’ve had yet!

-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Monday, January 28, 2013

I just don't know what to do with these!

My husband is a Wildlife Biologist, specializing in Ornithology, a certified Arborist, a Wetland Scientist, among other things, such as a Carpenter, Hunter, Fisherman, Trapper, and an all-around Mr. Fix-it - in addition to a wonderful cook. (Yes I know, I am EXTREMELY lucky and very grateful!) So, I rely a lot on him in identifying trees, fruit, berries, birds, etc. I find here at Magnolia Holler.

Some interesting finds include, PawPaws, Persimmons, and Smooth Sumac.   He says you can boil and steep the berries of the sumac and make lemonade-I haven't tried this, so I'm not sure if it's true or if he's pulling my leg (which he loves to do)! I also missed the harvest for the PawPaws and Persimmons last Fall.

But honestly I'm not sure what to do with them, except eat them raw.
Any suggestions!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Our little girl, the Mountain Cur

Our family...
We have one son, Quinlan, he's three years old; 
Three indoor cats, Smokey, Ezzy, and Wetherby; 
Six barn cats (possibly an additional two if they stick around after winter);
And last May we got a puppy, a five-month old Mountain Cur, Genny.

For those of you who are saying "What is a Mountain Cur?" I was the same way when my husband brought her home. So I did some research. The Mountain Cur, also known as the Appalachian Pioneer Dog, is the dog the Pioneers relied on for food and protection. They are wonderful family dogs and hunt small game, but better known as Squirrel dogs. 

Genny is of the Kemmer Stock, a beautiful brindle, with soft, floppy ears and a bobbed tail. She just turned one and is bout 40 lbs. She LOVES to climb trees and run, man, she is fast! 

She is a wonderful addition to Magnolia Holler! 
(Though, I don't think the squirrels and crayfish agree!)

Here is more info if you're interested. 
Kemmer Stock Mountain Cur
-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Friday, January 25, 2013

Our feline friends

What is a farm without barn cats? 

A month or two after moving in, we discovered a cat had residence in our crawl space. She (we didn't know she was a she at the time) was feral. Very skittish of us, so we left her be. Come winter, I'd watch her digging for food, and a couple times she got caught in my husbands snare lines. So, having indoor cats and a general love for animals, I started putting food out for her. 

Well, within a few days we had cats galore! Where they came from I'm not sure, but what they wanted was food! I had to rethink this plan. So, I started putting the food out only when I saw her. This worked out nicely and we started a little bond. She would still stay about 6 ft from me, then when I'd leave devour the food. This continued through the winter months and into spring. One lovely spring day I even watched her "take down" a squirrel! Whoa! She's fast!

It was mid-May and we had a new discovery! We discovered she was a female and a MOMMY of five kittens - two girls, three boys! She had a litter in our crawl space, all by herself, and they appeared to be around six weeks old. My heart melted!

What is one to do? I found a local non-profit organization (Voices for Animals) and this past December I was able to get ALL six fixed under their TNR, trap neuter release, program. We rereleased them out in the barn, hoping they'd become proper barn cats, but much to our surprise two other cats have taken up residence in the barn this winter! No wonder we don't have a problem with rabbits in the garden. 

Here are four of the six. Mommy is the solid gray - beautiful, isn't she?

Starting at the top there is: Pumpkin, Pretty Girl (Mommy), Patches, and Whittie. Whittie is the male here, the other three are females. The two males missing are Tiger (matches Whittie in coat coloring) and Pepper (identical to Mommy).
Someone brings us presents -mice and squirrels- now if they would only focus on moles...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Magnolia Holler, part 3 - Cherries Galore

Our first Spring at Magnolia Holler we found a wild sour cherry tree. Now, I didn't think much of it, except for its beautiful blossoms.
I was so wrong! Our neighbor has a sour cherry tree and she had me on a ladder up in the tree picking cherries. Not knowing exactly what to do with sour cherries, I Googled it. I found a recipe for 'Sour Cherry Cake'.

Ok, if you're a rhubarb custard fan (as my husband is), then you'll enjoy the sweet and tartness of the sour cherry cake. I found it delicious and thought my husband would too, however while the taste was to his liking, the texture was not - it was a cake after all, not a custard pie.

I can't wait to harvest our cherries this year and make the cake again. Maybe I'll also try making it into a custard pie too!

What do y'all do with sour cherries?
This was shared at the Old Time Party!

-Live Simple, Be Happy-

Magnolia Holler

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Magnolia Holler, part 2 - O' Nuts

Our first fall and winter months at Magnolia Holler, much to our enjoyment we found nut trees. Chestnut, hickory, black walnut and possibly a white walnut (still working on confirmation).
My son and I collected about 8 cups of hickory nuts, I'll tell you, getting the meat is tiresome, yet so rewarding!

The chestnuts are tricky, with their sharp pointy husk. However I found a good method, I use my feet to break the husk!

Now, I've always heard "roasting chestnuts on an open fire", so I roasted them in the oven until the shell split. I'll tell you, the taste is, hmmm, how to put it...different or better yet, an acquired taste. My husband and I both tasted it and just gave each other this look. Then I said, maybe it'd be good in a casserole or something. I found a recipe for an apple chestnut stuffing, but have yet to try it.

And the walnuts are messy, staining everything! On the other hand, just like the hickory nuts, the meat makes it worth your while!

Of course it's time consuming, but not all that difficult. My method- smash it between two bricks. The trick is to get the pressure just right, so you can get some whole chunks!

If y'all have any good advise, cracking techniques and/or recipes for these, nuts please share!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Magnolia Holler - Pears

Back in the summer of 2011 we moved into our little piece of paradise. I decided to name it Magnolia Holler, mainly because there are three huge and very old, grandiflora "Southern Magnolia" trees on the property.

Before moving in I knew about the magnolia trees; my husband also said there were apple trees and grapes, a "mini orchard and vineyard" as I recall. We first looked at the place in February when everything was dormant.

After moving in, we discovered the grapes were dead and most of the apple trees, if not already dead, were too far gone or diseased. There are three we are trying to revive. However, we've been unsuccessful in identifying the varieties.

But good news! Each season brings new surprises. We have two crabapple trees, each a different variety (still unidentified). Crabapple jelly...Mmmm!

We also have two pear trees. A Bartlett and an Asian Pear. (I'm kicking myself because I identified the Asian Pear too late! The tree was loaded, but by the time I had it identified I was only able to score a dozen pears that the bees hadn't found.) But look at them, I thought it yet another apple!

***Stay tuned for more discoveries at Magnolia Holler!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Looking toward spring

Even though winter weather has just started settling in, I spend most my time dreaming of Spring and Summer. Now, don't get me wrong, I love winter, the Holidays, and snowy weather; but I long for the spring blossoms, which will turn into a delightful (and yummy) treat!

It's mid-January, 30 degrees outside with a thin layer of ice on the pond; I'm inside curled up on the couch flipping through seed catalogs picking the ones that will grace our garden this year. (I have a long wish list!)

As you can see it is mainly tomatoes and pumpkins (I haven't looked at much else yet). I'm sure I'll be adding to this list very soon! What's on your wish list?