Summer Sunflowers


So, Emily Ann tagged me for the Sunflower Blogger Award,*cough*, 2 and a half months ago. Oops. But since I know what a lovely friend Em is I think she’ll forgive me and let me still participate. I have to tell 11 random things about myself, answer Emily’s 11 questions, write 11 questions of my own, and then tag other bloggers to enter. Feel free to comment and answer the questions yourself. Also, you can check out Emily’s Sunflower Award post here.

11 Random Things About Myself

1. I am a huge klutz. Seriously. I’ve broken both of my little toes several times simply from stubbing them, I’m constantly running into things, and I have over 10 scars just on my arms and hands!

2. I hate shopping. I’m not a very decisive person so I have trouble choosing. I also have vertigo so stores can make me dizzy. I do enjoy book shopping though!

Some of my recent book acquisitions. I got all 12 of them for $5 at a used library sale!
Some of my recent book acquisitions. I got all 12 of them for $5 at a used book sale!

3. I’m considering not having a TV when I grow up . For one thing, I would like to live without electricity for at least a year (Yup, I really just said I want to live without electricity for a year. Actually, I would like to do it longer, but I tell my family only a year so that don’t think I’m totally nuts.) I also think the time spent watching television could be more wisely used somewhere else (like reading books 🙂 ).

no tv

4. I really don’t like frogs. I used to be terrified of them when I was younger and would run away screaming from them. Now it’s a more mild dislike, but  I still don’t want to hold one. Bugs and snakes are totally fine though!

5. When I went to public school from kindergarten to 4th grade I brought a peanut butter and cheese sandwich for lunch every. single. day.

6. One of my passions/hobbies is archery. One of my favorite activities in the winter is to snowshoe to my cousins’ house and shoot my bow (they have a better target than we do).


7. My hands and feet are always cold. It could be 80 degrees out and my feet would still be cold. The worst part is my mom and I have this weird thing when our hands get cold it aches all up our arms into our shoulder blades. My sweet siblings even bought me a box of hand and toe warmers for Christmas, and they’ve proved essential when snowshoeing and sledding. I console myself with the maxim, “cold hands, warm heart” 🙂 .

essential to winter time happiness :)
essential to winter time happiness

8. My two favorite words are “verdant” and “indelible”. I just think they sound so poetical, and I love the mental picture they conjure.

9. I’ve taught several college classes. I have a good friend (he’s like another grandfather to me) who was a history professor at Fredonia. Once he had me come in with my cousin and explain about our farm, and then another time I did a Civil War skit with my friend Jefferson. I’ve also talked at Canisius about progressive dairy farming to two animal behavior classes. I had to laugh when one student asked, “Um, just how old are you?” I think I was 15 or 16 at the time :).

10. I’ve been on a huge non-fiction book binge. It began when I started reenacting three years ago and hasn’t stopped yet. In the past three years I think the only fiction books I’ve read were for the Classics Club (which I know has been grievously neglected recently).

11. My whole life revolves around tents. When I was little Dad and I had a “camp in” where we roasted marshmallows on the stove burner and then he slept on a cot while I slept in a little pop-up tent. After the camp in I didn’t want to stop sleeping in the tent! Mom and Dad, being the kind and nurturing parents that they are, let me keep sleeping in it (actually they were just relieved that I was no longer sleeping on a mattress in their bedroom. Hey, I was an only child back then). Well, I slept in that tent until I literally outgrew it; my legs were so long they stuck out of the tent!

Mom and Dad bought me a brand new “big girl bed” but I wouldn’t sleep in it until they got a pink Barbie tent that went over the bed. The Barbie tent lasted for quite a while until I got the flu, and, to put it delicately, the Barbie tent was sadly ruined. I was tentless for several years, but contented myself with building epic blanket forts.

The tent fetish continued when I received a tent from my aunt for Christmas that I used while backpacking, then I bought my reenacting tent in 2012. The latest addition is a new Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 backpacking tent. I just used it this weekend while backpacking and it worked great! (Review to come soon.)

My new tent!
My new tent!

Emily’s Questions

1. Hot chocolate or lemonade?

If it’s cold out then definitely hot chocolate. Since I don’t care for tea or coffee it’s one of the only warm beverages I drink. There’s nothing better than coming in from a January blizzard to a cup of hot chocolate and Ritz crackers! If it’s hot out I’d much prefer plain water, lemonade just seems to make me more thirsty.

2. Top 3 favorite fiction books?

This question is unfair! Asking a bookworm to choose her favorite book is like asking a mother to choose her favorite child! Hmm… The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, The Story of the Treasure Seekers by Edith Nesbit, Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (technically a series of 7 books, but I’m counting it as one), The Cambridge Book of Poetry and Song compiled by Charlotte Fiske, The Princess Bride by William Goldman, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Redwall by Brian Jacques, Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien,  The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews, oh wait you said three  not thirty. Better stop now.

Fiction book collage

3. Top 3 favorite non-fiction books?

Oh boy, this is going to be even harder than #2, I’ll attempt to restrain myself. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson, Camping and Wilderness Survival by Paul Tawrell, Patterns of Fashion by Janet Arnold, The Story of a Common Soldier, Of Army Life in the Civil War by Leander Stillwell, Hardtack and Coffee by John Billings, By Ox Team to California by Lavinia Honeyman Porter, and Company Aytch by Sam R. Watkins.

Non fiction book collage

4. One of your favorite movie quotes?

“As you wish.” from Westley in The Princess Bride. (So many good quotes in that movie!)

as you wish

5. One of your favorite writing quotes?

You mean quotes about writing? I like the advice C.S. Lewis gives aspiring authors,

“Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the things you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please, will you do my job for me?”


“Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.”

6. Dogs or cats?

I’m a decided dog person, which is kind of funny since we have quite a few cats on our farm and no dog. If I did have a  dog I would want him somewhat largish and of the Heinz 47 variety. There is one cat that I dearly love. Her name is Shadow, and she is the sweetest, friendliest feline you’ll ever meet. She also follows you everywhere, hence the name.


7. City, small town, or country?

At the very least country, but probably even more rural, like deep in the mountains down a long dirt road. I don’t think I’d ever like living in town, and I’d probably go crazy in a city. I love having enough room to run around with fields, creeks, and woods to play in. Places with houses close together just seem claustrophobic to me.

8. Favorite blog post you’ve read this week?

This might look like I’m just digging for brownie points, but Emily’s post I’m Surrounded by Comedians was hilarious. Go and read it, but don’t drink anything while you do unless you want it to come out your nose!

9. Weirdest food you’ve ever eaten?

To be perfectly candid, up until recently I was horribly picky and unwilling to try new things. Obviously as I’ve gotten older I’ve matured, and my visit with Aunt Carol really broadened my horizons. Probably the “weirdest” things I’ve eaten are rattlesnake, goose liver Pâté, and injera.

10. Are you a writer? If so, what are you working on at the moment?

Well I write this blog, don’t I? So I suppose I’m a writer 🙂 Next on my list is a poem about flowers and a letter to a friend written in July 1863.  

11. Longest road trip you’ve ever been on?

Driving to Florida, straight through, with 8 other people!

My Questions (Anyone feel free to answer these!)

1. I’m known as something of a pack rat. When I was little I used to keep expired coupons and magazine subscription renewal cards in plastic shopping bags and call them my “special papers”. As I got older my hoarding changed to pretty rocks that I stored in several large buckets. Now I collect books on a rather large scale (somewhere around 700 in my room alone, I think). What is something you’ve collected over the years?

2. Everybody has dreams. Some of mine have become a reality (like being a reenactor or flying in an airplane), some are going to be very difficult (like thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail), some are God-given (like going on a missions trip), and some are just kind of funny (I’ve always dreamed of being carried over the threshold on my wedding day 😀 ). What is one dream, whether big or little, that you’ve had? 

3. I love poetry, especially the rhyming, sentimental 19th century kind. A few that I especially enjoy are Mortality by William Knox, Bivouac of the Dead by Theodore O’Hara, and The Old Man’s Motto by John Godfrey Saxe. What is your favorite poem? 

4. Believe it or not, I used to be somewhat shy when I was younger (at least around strangers) and didn’t have much self confidence. I used to slouch in an attempt to make myself as small as possible. I’ll never forget my mom telling me to stand up straight and “take up space!” It’s good advice that I still remember if I’m feeling nervous. What is a piece of wise advice that your parents have given you?

5. & 6. My parents have had to choose quite a few names over the years! Something that has proven helpful in generating name ideas is our family tree. 7 out of 8 of us have at least one family name! Are you named after anyone in your family tree? Would you consider using any of your ancestors’ names for your children? 

7. This might be opening a can of worms but, Pepsi or Coke? (I’m a Pepsi girl!)

8. As y’all know by now, I love history. I especially love learning from the lives of people in the past. My heroes include Abraham Lincoln, Sergeant Alvin York, William Wilberforce, and Amelia Earhart. Who is one of your heroes from the past?

amelia earhart

9. I don’t know why, but I’d really like to visit Tennessee someday. Maybe it has to do with the combination of Civil War history and nature. What state would you most want to visit?

10. If you could live in a world from a book what would it be? Mine would probably be Narnia, but that’s a really difficult question!

11. What is your favorite Bible verse? Once again I don’t know if I could choose just one, but I really like Mark 9:24 and Psalm 139:7-12

mark 9-24

psalm 139


I tag:

Allison (read Allison’s post here)


Stephanie Ann 


-The Farming Daughter


Public Presentations

To help improve your public speaking skills our county 4-H requires you to give a “public presentation” each year. A public presentation is a demonstration, speech, illustrated talk, recitation, or dramatic interpretation that is from 5 to 15 minutes long. Two judges evaluate your talk, give you pointers on areas you could improve, and score your presentation. If you score well enough (within the top 15%) you can advance to district level presentations.

This year I chose to do an illustrated talk about “Getting Dressed in the 1860s”. My goal was to instruct about mid 19th century women’s clothing, dispel some myths about corsets and cage crinolines (“hoop skirts”), and have an excuse to dress up in my Civil War garb 🙂 . I told about the “ideal silhouette” of the 1860s, explained how the underclothing helped build the proper foundation, and talked about my dress. I actually started out my presentation in my base layers of undergarments and added the other pieces as I explained their purpose.

Today Addie, Marcus, and I participated in the district level presentations. Since this is my last year in 4-H (next year I’ll be too old) I was really excited to do well enough to go on to state! Marcus impressed everyone with his computer savvy (his presentation was “Computer Parts”) and Addie is also going to state with her recitation of The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke!

Here are some pictures from county presentations. I have to send a *big* thank you to my friend Allison for helping me to finish my new corset in time.

County Presentation 2014 a

County Presentation 2014 c

County Presentation 2014 b

County Presentation 2014 d

I didn’t get any photos at district, but afterwards Addie kindly snapped a few quick pics of the new Civil War coat I sewed called a “paletot”. It’s actually Addie’s but she let me borrow it for today since mine’s not done yet. Mine will be the same pattern and fabric, I’m just going to make the sleeves longer. We also have to decide what color we want to trim them in. Any suggestions? As you can tell from the pictures it was quite windy out!

New paletot 1





-The Farming Daughter


An Old Fashioned Winter

 “The winds came down from mountains cold and like a tide it roared and rolled; and branches groaned, the forest moaned, and leaves were laid upon the mould. The wind went on from West to East; all movement in the forest ceased, but shrill and harsh across the marsh its whistling voices were released. It left the world and took its flight over the wide seas of the night. The moon set sail upon the gale, and stars were fanned to leaping light.”

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Buried in the snow
Buried in the snow

The past several years we’ve had fairly easy winters. Of course, living in western New York will never be the Bahamas, but for several years it hasn’t been that bad, that is, until this winter. This time we were hit with a polar vortex, stinging cold, several-feet-at-a-time, good old fashioned winter! Temperatures were below 0 for weeks at a time and we were blasted with blizzards and wind. My journal entries frequently sounded like this one from January 7th: “Very cold again. This morning it was -14 with a wind chill of -42! Can hear the wind moaning outside.”

A picture I took of the thermometer one morning before going out to do chores. -13!

People often ask me what we do on the farm during the winter. True, there are no fields to till or crops to harvest, but there are plenty of other things to keep us busy! Besides the standard cow care that we do every day (feeding, milking, cleaning barn, etc.) there’s also plowing snow (lots!), unfreezing pipes, fixing equipment, unfreezing equipment, etc. Tasks that we perform every day become difficult when compounded with snow, sub-zero temperatures and driving winds.

For example, we clean our milking cow barn 3 times a day. The manure is scraped into a spreader and applied to our fields as a natural fertilizer. We use a CAT Challenger tractor with tracks instead of wheels to pull the spreader. Normally you just jump into the tractor and drive to the field, but on really cold days the drive wheels of the tracks can freeze. That means you have to thaw out the wheels before you can go anywhere.

Dad unfreezing the tractor's tracks
Dad unfreezing the CAT Challenger’s  tracks with hot water


Another job that can be tricky in the winter is cleaning the heifer barn. All of our other barns can be cleaned with a tractor or skid loader, except for one of our heifer barns. It’s an older style barn with a gutter (trough) in the floor. The manure has to be scraped by hand into the gutter twice a day. There are paddles in the gutter attached to a chain that scrape the manure out of the gutter and dump it into the spreader. In the winter sometimes frozen manure can cause the chain to pop out of the gutter, which takes a while to fix. I helped Dad fix it one day and snapped some pics of him with my phone.

Dad used the come-a-long to ratchet the chain so there would be enough slack to put it back in the gutter
Dad used the come-a-long to ratchet the chain so there would be enough slack to put it back in the gutter


fixing the gutter 2



Dad climbing up the chute
Dad cleaning out the frozen chute
You can't tell from the pictures, but it's actually snowing and blowing pretty hard
You can’t tell from the pictures, but it’s actually snowing and blowing pretty hard

Thankfully, cows do pretty good in the cold. As long as they have shelter, high quality feed, and are clean and dry they do fine. Most cows actually prefer cooler weather to the hot, humid summer.

Since calves are babies they require extra attention in the winter. When it’s cold we give them deep and fluffy bedding that they can “nestle” in and blankets or coats to keep them warm. We closely watch that they are eating enough so they can maintain their body heat and make sure that their buckets stay unfroze.

One of calves warm with her blanket and straw bedding
One of calves warm with her blanket and straw bedding

Of course we have plenty of fun in the winter also! One of my favorite cold weather activities is snow shoeing. This year I snow-shoed over to our neighbor’s house several times to shoot my recurve bow. Living on a farm also means you always have the perfect sledding hills!

Addie sledding
Addie sledding
Little brother Mason having fun
Little brother Mason having fun

sledding 2013-14

Sledding with Emily (you can see more pics at her blog here!)
Sledding with Emily (you can see more pics at her blog here!)

We even built an igloo this year!



I hope you all were able to keep warm! Even though it can be challenging, I don’t mind winter. I love the activities you can only do this time of the year and the hushed white beauty of the snow. Even the howling wind makes me feel warm and comfortable when I’m snug in bed. It reminds me of Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder:

“The first snow came, and the bitter cold…The snow kept coming till it was drifted and banked against the house. In the mornings the window panes were covered with frost in beautiful pictures of trees and flowers and fairies…They were cozy and comfortable in their little house made of logs, with the snow drifted around it and the wind crying because it could not get in by the fire.”

What is the most challenging part of winter for you? What do you do for fun?


-The Farming Daughter


Happy Birthday Evie!

Evie after 1 year...God is so good!
Evie after 1 year…God is so good!

Today is Evie’s first birthday! When I think of how far she’s come and the milestones she’s had it amazes me. God has truly provided many miracles already in her short life.

Last Sunday our pastor was speaking about prayer and asked to video Mom & Dad giving their testimony of Evie. You can watch the video here.

I also put together a slideshow of pictures that you can view here.

Eating Birthday Cake
Eating Birthday Cake


“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

-Jeremiah 29:11

-The Farming Daughter

Welcome Back to the Farm

Upstate Niagara logo


Our farm is a member of Upstate Niagara, a cooperative of 360 local Western New York dairy farmers. Our co-op makes many different products including fluid milk, cottage cheese, chip dip, butter, flavored milk beverages, sour cream, and yogurt.

Recently, Upstate Niagara decided to start a new advertising campaign. The campaign, called “Return to Values, Welcome Back to the Farm” is showcasing our member-owner farmers and seeking to tell consumers about how our products are produced. Our family was chosen to be interviewed for one of the videos. Check it out here!

Remember any time you purchase dairy products from the Upstate Farms, Intense Milk, or Bison labels you can know it comes from local farmers who care!

Brands produced by our co-op
Brands produced by our co-op


-The Farming Daughter

8 Months!

Evie 10-2013 b

Today is exactly 8 months since my miracle little sister came into the world. Ever since then has been a blessing from God as I’ve watched her grow healthier and stronger day by day. We never expected all the scary conditions Evie would have when she was born, but neither did we realize the deep impact she would have on others as an incredible witness of God’s love and faithfulness.

My aunt put together a beautiful little video I thought you might all like to see. Click here to watch it.

Today I pray that no matter the circumstances or trials you’re in that you’ll remember He is always with you.

If you don’t know Evie’s story yet you can read it here


-The Farming Daughter

World Dairy Expo

World Dairy Expo Logo

October 3-5th Dad, Addison and I took a road trip to World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI. Now, for those of you who aren’t farm people, World Dairy Expo is pretty much the cow equivalent to the Super Bowl. One has only to say “Expo” and everyone knows what you’re talking about. The “colored shavings” are as familiar to cattle show-men as the Indianapolis Speedway is to race car drivers. This year, “1,616 owners exhibited 2,225 head of cattle from 36 states and 6 provinces”.

There are 7 shows, one for each breed of dairy cattle. When a cow is exhibited in a show she is groomed to look her very best and then competes against all the other animals in her age class. The judge ranks the cows based on their physical appearance, called their “conformation”.

It was so exciting just watching the shows at Expo, but we actually went for more than just sight seeing. Our calf, Price-View Reginald Prize (“Regi” for short), was entered in the Fall Calf class and we were there to watch her show.

Price-View Reginald Prize, "Regi"

It’s kind of confusing to explain how the show works, but let’s use Regi as an example. She is from the Holstein breed and was born on September 2, 2012, which puts her in the Holstein Fall Calf class (all the animals born between 9/1/2012-11/30/2012). In order to advance beyond that class she would have to get either 1st or 2nd in her class of 48 other calves. Then she would compete against the 1st and 2nd place winners from the 6 other Holstein calf classes. From these 14 animals the judge picks the one he believes to be the best (Junior Champion), 2nd best (Reserve Junior Champion), and 3rd best (Junior Honorable Mention).

The Holstein Junior Champion and Reserve Junior Champion show against the Intermediate Champion (best milking cow not older than 3 years old), Reserve Intermediate Champion (2nd best milking cow not older than 3 years), Senior Champion (best milking cow over 3 years), and Reserve Senior Champion (2nd best milking cow over 3 years). From these animals the judge selects the overall Grand Champion, Reserve Grand Champion and Honorable Mention, which would equate to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd best cows of the entire Holstein breed at the show.

At the end of Expo the Grand and Reserve Champions of each breed face off for the ultimate title in the dairy world: Supreme Champion of World Dairy ExpoThis year’s Supreme Champion winner was the Grand Champion Holstein cow, Bonaccuiel Maya Goldwyn.

the judge slaps Bonaccueil Maya Goldwyn on the rump to choose her as the 2013 Grand Champion Holstein (photo Hoard's Dairyman)
The judge slaps Bonaccueil Maya Goldwyn on the rump to choose her as the 2013 Grand Champion Holstein (photo Hoard’s Dairyman)

My dad’s all-time favorite Expo winner is Brookview Tony Charity, who earned the title of Supreme Champion 4 times! (1982, 1984, 1985 & 1987)

Brookview Tony Charity, 4 time Supreme Champion winner at World Dairy Expo
Brookview Tony Charity, 4 time Supreme Champion winner at World Dairy Expo

Although Regi didn’t advance beyond her age class, it was still a great experience, and being the 28th best fall calf in the world isn’t that bad either!

Regi's class of 48 heifers
Regi’s class of 48 heifers

We were also able to watch the selection of the Red & White Holstein Grand Champion which was really neat! The judge walked up to the line of cows. Pointing at the first 3 he said, “Bing, bang, boom!” and chose 3 cows that were all related! KHW Regiment Apple-Red was Reserve Grand Champion and her own clone, KHW Regiment Apple-3, ended up beating her for Grand Champion! For Honorable Mention the original Apple’s daughter was selected, Ms Candy Apple-Red.

The "Apple Trifecta" as it's being called
The “Apple Trifecta” as it’s being called (Photo from Dairy Agenda Today)
Our view of grand champion selection
Our view of Red & White grand champion selection

Not only did we see some exciting shows at Expo, but we also walked around the massive trade show. They had booths selling anything from tractors, to milking parlors, to paintings of cows. I ended up making a purchase that hopefully I’ll be able to use on my calves this winter…

A pink Udder Tech calf blanket!
A pink Udder Tech calf blanket!

Friday evening they set up a big auction ring right in the center of the show ring for the World Classic Sale, to sell offspring from the elite of the Holstein breed. The beginning of the sale was like the start of a concert! When the first cow walked in the ring the lights were dimmed and a spot-light shone on her as Katy Perry’s song, Roar, played. It was really great to be there as these awesome cows sold. One we were able to see was the best genetic Red and White Holstein in the world!

Oconnors Aikman Scarlet, the best genetic Red & White Holstein in the world
Oconnors Aikman Scarlet, the best genetic Red & White Holstein in the world

It was a great trip to Expo, and I hope to be able to go again in the future!

-The Farming Daughter


I went out to do chores this morning and this is what I found:



Just another sign that we live in New York! Although what little bit of snow we got today will melt, more won’t be long in coming and it will stick around until April. Where we live I’m not joking when I say that we’re not safe from snow until the beginning of June!


-The Farming Daughter


Grape Jelly

     our fresh picked grapes

      Felicity stirred with a long wooden spoon. Round and round, again and again, she stirred the grape mush till her arms ached.

cooked grapes

      It was tiresome work, and dull. Her hair stuck to her sweaty neck. Her hands were sore, and her back was stiff. As soon as one batch of grapes was cooked soft, Rose took it away and put another pot on the fire. Felicity tried to hide her impatience. But after a while, she couldn’t help asking, “Haven’t we made hundreds of pounds of grape jelly by now?”

“Goodness, no,” said her mother. “A whole batch of grapes makes only three pints of grape jelly.”

3 pints of grape jelly

      Pints were very small. Felicity sighed. “It seems to be a great deal of work for a little bit of jelly.

grape jelly toast

      I don’t think it’s worthwhile,” she said. “And once the grape jelly’s eaten, there’s nothing to show for all the hard work. You are left with nothing at all.”

empty plate

     Mrs. Merriman laughed. “I remember thinking just that same thing when I was your age,” she said. “And ’tis true, there’s nothing left that anyone can see. But I know that I’ve provided for my family, and that pleases me.” 

grape jelly

When I was younger I used to love the American Girl Doll book series. OK, I admit it, I still do. One of my favorites is the story of Felicity Merriman, a girl growing up in colonial America. Yesterday, when I was making grape jelly, I was reminded of a part from the second book in the series when Felicity and her mother are making apple butter. The passage otherwise fit so well to the situation I just adapted it by substituting grape jelly for apple butter. 

Although when I was younger I probably sympathized more with Felicity, I’ve now come to appreciate having our own home-made jelly. Since we use the low sugar pectin it is healthier for you than store-bought and doesn’t have any extra coloring or preservatives. Home made jelly is also more cost effective and tastes fabulous!

Most years Mom is in charge of the jelly making process and I’m simply the assistant. This year however, with Mom laid up with her foot, I had my first time flying (err, preserving) solo. It went really well, and we were able to make six batches (then I ran out of pectin). Elijah (the two year old) had a great time going for a ride back to our grape field to pick, then Addie helped as my assistant. She and I had an assembly line of sorts and it worked great!

We ladle our hot jelly into piping hot jars, and use hot seals. If you do it this way it’s not necessary to can the jars in hot water. Also, what we make is more like grape “preserves”. It’s not jam because there’s no seeds or chunks of skin, but it’s not jelly because we use the juice and the pulp.

This is how we did it:

1. Wash canning jars in dishwasher. If they finish washing before you are ready with the cooked jelly, run them through the hot rinse and heated dry cycle. Later, when the jelly is ready, pull the piping hot jars from the dishwasher (doesn’t matter if the cycle is done or not, you’re just insuring that the jars are hot). Put your rings and seals in a small saucepan with water and boil them on the stove (this sanitizes them, softens the seal, and insures that they are hot).

2. Pick grapes off of stems and rinse.

3. Fill large pot 3/4 full of grapes and add a little water (like maybe 1-1/2 cups).

4. Cook grapes over medium-high heat until they start to break down into a mush. Make sure to stir occasionally so they don’t burn.

5. Run the grapes through a hand food mill and measure out 5-1/2 cups of juice.

6. Stir together 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 box of low sugar Sur-Gel pectin. Put in a pot with grape juice and cook until mixture comes to a rolling boil. Stir constantly.

7. Quickly add 3-1/4 cups of sugar and bring to a boil once again, stirring constantly.

8. Boil exactly one minute, then remove from heat.

9. Quickly ladle hot grape liquid into hot canning jars. Top with a hot seal and ring. Set jar on counter for 5 minutes upside down, then turn right side up.

If you have any juice left over from step 5 add some water to thin and some sugar to taste and you have home made grape juice! You can even can the juice (before you add water or sugar) so you can enjoy it all year. Simply ladle the juice into quart jars and can in a water bath.

Oh, and if you’ve never started jumping for joy in the middle of the kitchen at the popping sound of a jar sealing, you haven’t known true happiness 🙂

The only bad part of jelly making?

the clean up!

The clean up!

-The Farming Daughter

What I Learned This Summer

Well, the official first day of fall is only 5 days away… I hope you all have had a great summer so far! I’ve been a pretty negligent blogger (nothing since Mother’s Day, yikes!). Instead of just giving you a list of what I’ve done in my absence, I decided to tell you about what I’ve learned through the experiences. So without further ado:


Airports aren’t as scary as I first imagined.

View out the window

Aside from a flight when I was only 3 months old and a ride in our neighbor’s small 2 seater, I’ve never been on an airplane. Since plane tickets for our family would cost a small mint, the chances of me flying were almost nil. It was actually such a remote idea that I had “fly on a commercial airplane” on my bucket list! 🙂 Well, in May I finally got the chance. Emily invited me to accompany her on a visit to her great aunt and uncle who live in California!

To tell you the truth, I was a little apprehensive of navigating an airport “alone” as it was. Thankfully it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. I didn’t get detained at security for accidentally bringing nail clippers, my bags weren’t overweight, and we even managed to make our connecting flight. A bird’s eye view of the wind-turbines near Chicago was awesome, the Sierra Nevada Mountains were breathtaking and the center pivot irrigation systems were really neat!

While in California I learned:

To try new things.

Aunt Carole, Uncle Pooge, Emily, Me in San Francisco Bay
Aunt Carole, Uncle Pooge, Emily, Me in San Francisco Bay

Emily’s Aunt Carole and Uncle Pooge were two of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. They took us everywhere from Muir Woods Giant Redwoods Forest to downtown San Francisco to ride a cable car!  Aunt Carole, especially, encouraged me to be adventurous and try new things, which I did attempt to do. I even ate rattlesnake! (Not that bad actually, kind of tastes like fish) You can see more about our trip on our blog From New York to Cali.

We spent a wonderful 2 weeks in California before coming home again. I had a few weeks respite, during which time we had two wonderful visits from relatives. At the end of June Addison and I had the opportunity to attend the 150th Anniversary Gettysburg Reenactment. During which I learned:

Don’t allow the weather or circumstances out of your control to prevent you from having a good time. 

Of course it was very hot and muggy, but we still had a wonderful time. And although we weren’t able to connect with Emily we did meet up with several other friends that we only get to see at reenactments. I also discovered that the inside of your tent stays drier if you tie the flaps closed, don’t ask me how I know!

One of the only pictures I have from Gettysburg. Our camp was right in the middle of the woods! (And yes, there's a plastic water bottle in the pic, it was before the event  officially started.)
One of the only pictures I have from Gettysburg. Our camp was right in the middle of the woods! (And yes, there’s a plastic water bottle in the pic, it was before the event officially started 🙂 )

In July Addie and I went on another trip together called Love Buffalo. Several hundred teens and adults from different denominational churches across the country teamed up for a week of service in inner-city Buffalo. It was such a great opportunity to

Put my faith in action

James 2:15-17 says that “If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to him, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you don’t give them what the body needs , what good is it? In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.”

Climbing ladders, scraping siding, and brushing on paint may seem like small enough tasks, but I believe that when done in the name of Jesus Christ He multiplies our poor offerings a hundred times over and uses them to bless people and show them His love.

I also learned about overcoming/not being held back by my fear of heights as I climbed ladders 2 1/2 stories up!

Scraping paint
Scraping paint (I’m wearing the brown shirt on the ladder)

Each night we ate a different authentic ethnic meal. Aunt Carole would be proud to know that I boldly tried all of it and enjoyed it! 😉

Ethiopian dinner
Ethiopian dinner
Burmese dinner
Burmese dinner
Peruvian dinner
Peruvian dinner
Thai dinner
Thai dinner

As soon as we came home from Love Buffalo it was off to my favorite reenactment of the year, Genesee Country Village’s Civil War weekend. This time I had the chance to

Share my passion with others.

Along with Addie, my little brother Mason came with us! His 10th birthday was only 2 weeks before the event so for his present we got him a set of authentic clothes! It was so much fun having my own little family there with me. We were able to camp with some friends we met there last year and it was such a blessing! Mason hit it off with their boys and was soon playing mock battles with them. Our tent was even converted into a hospital where Addie and Kezia performed “amputations” on their brothers!

Little soldier boys: Josiah, Mason, Asa and Gage
Little soldier boys: Josiah, Mason, Asa and Gage
Nurse Kezia and Surgeon Josiah prepare to operate on Mason!
Nurse Kezia and Surgeon Josiah prepare to operate on Mason!

I hope you all had a wonderful summer as well! Did you go on any exciting adventures or learn something new? Enjoy the last five days until Autumn!

This last one just because I can, she's adorable, and God is good!
This last one just because I can, she’s adorable, and God is good!


-The Farming Daughter