Ward House

Red Clover

July is almost half over and I feel as if life has picked up the pace and I am being swept away.  A big bottle of cheap vodka and grand plans for herb tinctures is still a plain bottle of vodka and, well, no tinctures.  *sighs*  I am trying to catch up on blog reading and found Joyce Ann’s post about  making red clover syrup.  I have read other bloggers ‘speak’ of the benefits of red clover and, since is it growing in the side yard, thought I’d try my hand at it.  Joyce Ann is having issues with Blogger so the link to her recipe can be found here.  There are several recipes available on the link page (red clover lemonade, red clover rice, etc); this is the one I want to try:

Red clover blossom syrup

This syrup can be a great Christmas present as it is canned so one can make lots of it. RedClover

Ingredients The main ingredient is 1 quart of red clover blossoms.

Other ingredients are:
1 quart (4 cups) water
4 cups sugar
½ lemon or orange (organic if possible) chopped, peel and all
1 Tbsp beet juice or berry juice (Optional)
Remember: The citrus is optional. Using the citrus will give the syrup an orangey or lemony flavor. In case you want the pure red clover flavor instead, don’t use the citrus. Both ways still make for a fantastic treat.
1.) The blossoms and water are put in a pot
2.) They are then simmered gently for 15- 20 minutes and the heat subsequently turned off. Then cover and let sit overnight.
3.) The next day, strain and press liquid out of spent flowers.
4.) Sugar and sliced citrus are then added and heat slowly, stirring now and again for several hours or until reduced to thick syrup that looks like honey.
5.) One can add 1 Tbsp of beet juice or berry juice to help color the syrup as its brownish like maple syrup. (Optional)
6.) Can in ½ pint or 1 pint Jars.
This recipe makes a little more than 1 pint. One can triple or quadruple this and make more than one batch when they are in season to have enough for the whole year.

I am so excited!!


July 10, 2010 Posted by | Canning, herbs, recipes, self sufficiency | , , , | 2 Comments

Fungus amongus

I thought this was caused by the dog pee’ing in the garden; that appears to be incorrect.  Surfing the web has brought to light my potato plants may have a fungus; a vascular wilt.  Fusarium to be exact.  Apparantly this organism can live in the soil, without a host (my potato plants) for several years.  Not encouraging.  The tops of these taters cannot go into the compost pile as they are infected and could infect parts of the garden that are currently ok.  Looks like more fodder for the burn pile.

vascular wiltBeans and corn were planted in this corner of the garden last year and I notice no problems so am curious how long this organism has been hanging out?  Potatoes were placed in this spot for this season so as to rotate. There are several articles online, about studies showing the effects of compost tea with disease control in plants – specifically potatoes.  The one article, to which I wanted to link, is no longer available.  =(

I dug up the wilting plants and found that the potatoes beneath were just fine, though not the same size one would find in the grocery.  Tasty nonetheless.  One of the seed potatoes was still intact and a slimy, stinking glob when dug from the ground.  huh?  What happened here?

Oh, and tomatoes are not immune to this type of cootie either.

What advise do more experienced potato growers have for me?

July 9, 2010 Posted by | Gardening | , , , , | Leave a comment


I’m still here.  Work has ‘exploded’ since the lunar eclipse; think full moon craziness with an extension.  Exploded does not need a slew of new business, just crazy stuff happening with existing business.  The garden is ok – we have begun watering in the evenings since the 90+ temps and no rain have been hard on growing things.  School is good though consumes much of my time > took one of the board exams last night (170 questions) and passed with a 72 – must have 70 to pass.  Yes, this was a NATIONAL, certifying test that I took.  Shame it does not count for my license.  =)  Just a test grade.

Anyway, all is good though quiet on the blogging side of things.  I am still reading your blogs, though, it fits between activities.  Keep writing – I’ll be back soon!

July 8, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Where did it go?

Still looking for my mind; what appears to be missing from society as a whole (or at least from those with whom I come in contact) is personal responsibility.  It is always someone elses’ responsibility or fault. Sadly my girls are famous for the phrase “but he/she made me mad” or “made me do it”.  When did we, as individuals relinquish control over our own thoughts and actions to someone else?  Yes, as a people we have relinquished control to the government and perhaps that has trickled down to our kids? And no, I did not get myself into trouble.  Just listening to people and having a ‘what tha’ moment.

Then, I read this post by Molly, of A Foothill Home Companion, about the definition of Humble and – wow.  My hackles were all raised in self-righteous bruhaha that humility had been pushed aside.  Read the post; it is not long and has some great photographs.  The phrase that felled me was. . .

I’m open to the possibility that I am wrong, but until proven so, I will continue to do what I think is right

Powerful words.

I leave you with this excerpt from Mary Oliver’s poem, The  Summer Day:

…I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

July 1, 2010 Posted by | Intentions | 2 Comments

Important papers

I am fearful that as we drift away, this will be forgotten.  Here is a copy, just in case.

The Constitution of the United States
The Declaration of Independence_ A Transcription

June 29, 2010 Posted by | politics, self sufficiency | , | Leave a comment

A mini rant with some useful information at the end.

Something good happened in our community last night; the planning & zoning committee approved a request to rezone a parcel of land (from R2-B2) on which to build a Dollar General (see picture).  The family of the overpriced grocery store objected, along with a few of the affluent.  Keep in mind that out here, you can pay the inflated prices of the local grocery, drive 30 minutes South to the Walmart and Food Lion or continue driving to Roanoke to Kroger, Ukrops, etc.

Now keep in mind, both the location in question and I live on Route 220, which, before I81, was the main road to states north.  While I81 has taken most of the traffic, it has not re-routed all and 220 is popular for logging tractor trailers headed to the paper mill.  Dollar General was jacked on a request to build this business in a community north of here (Mitchelltown) and I am thankful they are pursuing a different location.

My original draft included more detail from the meeting and, well, I believe it would bore you; small town egos and illogic go a long way to creating an unsustainable community.  Yes,  I live in a logic vacuum; we are doomed to repeat the past.  I am going to fight where I can to save my little corner (you too, Pat) and sadly watch the rest slip away.  Wow, reading this now, it appears so tame; all the fire and brimstone are gone!  Guess I’ll save that for the Board of I-believe-I-am-god Stupervisors meeting (dang, it crept in anyway).

Ok, mini rant is over.

In other, more sensible news, I found this two-part series, from the American Preppers Network about lactofermentation: parts 1 and 2.  Some great information for those Nourishing Tradition’s fans (including me).

June 29, 2010 Posted by | Canning, Cooking, economy, politics, self sufficiency | , , , | Leave a comment

Of coops and snakes

IMG_1449This weekend was eventful.  Construction of the coop is complete … except for the ‘roof’ of the coop.  My  question is what is the best way to cover this coop?  It measures roughly 20’x15’; the current wire stands 4’ tall.  My concern at the moment is feral cats climbing into the run during the day.  The chickens will be locked into the coop in the evenings.  This is a wIMG_1456ooded run so the ‘ceiling’ will be challenging.  Thoughts?

The excitement from today was the neighbor had a snake in her shop.  Freaked her out.  At the time we were unsure of what type of snake this was.  It coiled up as much as it could on the sill and it’s little tail sounded like a rattle, though there were no rattles on it (odd, yes).  We ended up having to kill it so it would leave the chickens alone.  As it turns out this was a black rat snake.  *sighs*  Wish I could have let it live; keeps the mice and poisonous snakes away.


I feel bad.

June 28, 2010 Posted by | Chickens, self sufficiency | , , , | 2 Comments

Tomato ties and splits

My tomatoes are planted not in straight enough rows for this work this year thought I like the idea for next. Posting it here means that I will not loose the information for next year and, who knows, someone might need it! I have cages for some of the tomatoes and need to create cages for the remaining ones.  The cherry tomatoes have already begun to fruit.  Last year I lost so many of them to splitting.

In searching for causes of ‘da split’  I found that inconsistent watering, improper fertilization, & temperature fluctuations can cause this tomato from Flikrmisfortune.  Last year’s growing season was a big temp and water flux – sometimes hot and dry, wet and cold for the next.  Fertilization did not happen last year though this fall, the garden is getting a blanket of old horse manure.  That will hopefully correct many things for the next season.  Here is a shot of my little wonders!  

IMG_1390 IMG_1389

June 25, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A visit

I was so excited about this afternoon;  the granddaughter of Mrs. Ward was to stop by for a visit.  I was hopeful to hear some of her growing up stories, memories of her Grandmother, etc.  The neighbor just emailed to say that the Granddaughter had stopped by her shop (that avatar is on the right side bar) to say they were heading home early.  I am sad to have missed her visit.  =(  Please come back soon!!

In other news, my friend over at Howling Hill is now writing for The Greenists; her first post is about one of my

favorite animals – CHICKENS!  Stop for a visit.

A sweet giveaway from Phat Fiber – these too cute stitch markers.

And, since some of us need a ‘gloom & doom’ fix (not really G&D), the partial lunar eclipse this Saturday portents some interesting social upheavals, amongst other things.  Serenity posted the details here. Current events seem to be right on.

Since we will not have guests this eve, work will continue and hopefully finish on the coop.  I also hope to stitch a few more envelopes and a skirt! *crosses fingers*

June 24, 2010 Posted by | Chickens, family, repurpose, sewing | | 1 Comment

Old t-shirts

Ronnie went through his drawers the other night and set out many t-shirts that he does not like/will no longer wear, etc.  This pile has been sitting by the closet for several weeks now and it is time for me to either donatethese to Good will or repurpose them into something we/I can use at the house.  Handkerchiefs are in limited supply and I like t-shirt material (jersey) so began my search for how to make a handkerchief from this material.  Typing this makes me realize that all sounds kind of silly; why do I need a tutorial to make a handkerchief?  Just cut a square of material and hem it, right?

Well, if I’d taken that attitude then this tutorial, on round and such handkerchiefs would not have been found,  nor this one on making a skirt.  You know I’m going to have to make both, like this weekend.  Yes, there will be pictures.  

June 23, 2010 Posted by | repurpose, sewing | , , , , | Leave a comment