Saturday, September 14, 2013

Rabbit Hutch Palace

Our bunnies live in a palace.  Our girls are jealous.  The bunnies are very very happy...wouldn't you be if you had such deluxe accommodations?
First... meet Lucy...
and Molly (she has the most adorable chubby cheeks ever!)
Now my dear husband found this hutch for free in a little town south of us. His Dad just happened to be working in that town and he had a large empty trailer.  We did have to get my cousins to run over and help him load this heavy beast, but it was very worth it.  We're planning a little "Thank You" for them, but otherwise this wonderful hutch was free.  Pays to watch online classifieds!
The rabbit hutch Palace

Two side doors open up for feeding, play time, and cleaning.
Made out of someone's dismantled decking material, this thing weighs more than you think.
Side of winterized area, notice the handles

Both sides opened up, one is for feeding and playing, the other is their winterized pen and bathroom facilities.

Underneath, shade and room to run

Side with a removable tray for easy cleaning and composting of all that good fertilizer.
I've been adding the manure to my compost and straight into my garden and flower bed as well.
We put a bunch of grass clippings in to see if they would 1. lay in it 2. poop in it. 
 Well...they do the latter.
They love carrots and we are having a much better time with these two little sisters.  We have learned how to "immobilize" them by picking them up behind their hips and holding them on their backs.  They do just seem to have better temperaments, perhaps partially because they have so much space and don't feel the need to "protect" it and bite us.
Nothing sweeter than sitting outside with my tea and watching these little sweeties.
 We have let the girls take the bunnies into the little play house so they can have some play time.  It also helps get little people used to them and not afraid.

 Sometimes they'll even reach out and give them a pat.
 More views of the hutch and the downstairs ramp....they are so fun to watch 
racing up and down it!
 They are still small enough to enough the little orange igloo as well.
 Girls are no longer afraid to reach in to pet the bunnies either.  We've found they are easier to love when their food has run out and they LIKE you!
 Molly biting off bits of a carrot and munching down.
 Lucy eating some alfalfa pellets.  She has some fun grey coloring as well, so we'll see how she grows up.
Molly is the most timid, but here she is sitting with Mei and still munching that same carrot.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Canned Apple Pie Filling, Tomato Soup, and Dilled Carrots

I am finally squirreling away some food for winter!  This is very exciting, as it means my back injury is healing and I am finally feeling up to it.  Can't understand how poorly I was feeling, but I am still on my target for 2013's garden ~ $450 worth of vegetables into my home!  I am now sitting around the $375 mark.

Homemade Apple Pie Filling
 These apples actually came from our old yard in Oak Lake ~ how sweet it was to meet the new owners and be given some of the plums and apples that we had all come to love.  They are now made into Apple Pie filling and we've been eating the rest just fresh!

Canned Apple Pie Filling

7 quarts chopped up apples (in salt water or lemon juice to keep fresh)
4 1/2 cups sugar ( I did 2 cups of brown, rest white)
1 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp lemon juice
10 1/2 cups water

Cook syrup.
Pack apples into hot sterilized jars with a 1/2 inch head space ( Don't over fill, or they boil over and can't seal)
Pour hot syrup into apple jars, wipe rims, put the lids on.
Hot water bath for 15 to 20 minutes.

I am generous with my spices and added some cloves as well.  Adjust to taste.  This makes a great Apple Crisp as well as pie.  One of my jars was too full, so it didn't seal ~ so we had apple crisp!  I love some opps!

Homemade Canned Tomato Soup
This is my first time canning Tomato Soup, but with a wheat allergy in the household, Campbells soup is out for us.  This will come in very handy for quick casseroles, etc.

Canned Tomato Soup (Wheat Free ~ Gluten Free)
12 lbs ripe tomatoes
6 onions
1 bunch parsley
1 head celery
2-4 bay leaves
8 whole cloves
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup margarine (for lactose intolerant) or Butter
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 cup cornstarch/ rice flour or mixture of both

Place first 8 ingredients in a large pot and boil for 2 hours.  Cool slightly and blend or put through a food processor.  Return to pot.  I strained some of mine with a cheese cloth, some use a sieve.  I just need to find a sieve, I think I would like it! Mix together sugar, margarine, cayenne and flour.  Add some cooled soup to make a paste.  Add slowly, while stirring to soup.  Heat, stir until thickened.  
Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal.  Hot water bath for 20 minutes or 5 lbs pressure for 10 minutes in a pressure canner.

This recipe can easily be changed to add or remove spices that you like or dislike.  Some add some carrots, basil, etc.
Carrot comparison
The above photo shows the difference between thinning carrots or leaving them crowded.  We did a bit of an experiment in the community garden this year.  The ones on the Left were thinned (planted further apart) and the others were not.  Those were the larger ones too ~ most were very tiny and cute to eat, but not that productive.  The kids at the Community Garden will now plant theirs a little further apart ~ fun lesson learned!
Pickled Dilled Carrots
 Pickled Dilled Carrots OR Beans
1 large piece of dill (head) per jar
1 bay leaf per jar
2-4 cloves of garlic per jar
4 quarts firm carrots OR beans, washed and cut, etc
 4 cups water
4 cups vinegar
8 tbsp pickling salt

Put first 3 ingredients in your sterilized jars.  Pack with clean and prepared carrots or beans.  Bring water, vinegar and salt to a full boil.  Pour into jars and seal with sterilized lids.  Hot water bath for 15-20 minutes.
This recipe is basic and you could add different spices as well.

Look whooo showed up in the garden today, my daughters little creation!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall Book Review

Cover of The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall   Yes, yes, I promised more reviews and we will try our best.
I just finished reading The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall as a read-out-loud to our three girls, ages 9, 12, 15 years.   Can we say how much we loved this book?  We all laughed out loud (even Daddy) while reading this.  The pictures that form in your mind can definitely get the giggles going.  It was very age appropriate for my girls.  The characters are excellently written, personalities shine through.  Family honor, communication, and yes, fun and exploring are main themes.  The girls are being raised by their Father after their Mother has died. The tween does develop a 'crush' on the older teenager boy, but it is very innocent and has a good lesson/ending to it.

Now ~ imagine our delight when we discovered there are 2 MORE books!  We are looking forward to reading the next two.

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette
I do have an Amazon Associates account, and if you click on the links below and place an order, I will receive a very modest commission which I pass along to Manitoba Adopting Families.