Pruning the Vineyard

Yesterday I explained what the  prepruner was and how it works. After the prepruner is finished, hand pruning is done to further prepare the vineyard for fruit production. We (the children and I) are now hand pruning the rows which have been prepruned.

Below, you can see what a vine looks like after the prepruner. The cuts are rough and jagged.

As with any job, it seems getting started is the hardest and most time consuming part of it. To get us started, John gives instructions on how many spurs and buds are to be left. [Continue Reading]

Prepruning the Vineyard

It is that time of year – time to prune the vineyard. For us this year, we will be using a mechanical prepruner.

What, you might ask is a mechanical prepruner and why do we want to use it? It is a hydraulically controlled machine, pulled behind a tractor with computer assisted cutting blades. The spinning blades are actually stacks of blades which can be easily moved about the vine cordon and the bottom blades cut the spurs to the desired length. The rest of the blade stack shreds the old vine structure leaving behind twigs and sticks which will easily decompose over the summer. This saves quite a bit of time and is well worth the rental.[Continue Reading]

The Cowboy

While we have little boys that love to pretend to be cowboys, we have never actually been up close to a real live one – until, that is, this weekend.

It all started when I listed a heifer on Craigslist to sell. She is a 2 1/2 yrs old jersey heifer and is 7 months bred (pregnant) by a jersey bull. I bought her when she was 3 mths old thinking that by the time she was ready to calve, we would be ready for a second milk cow. But, we are not. She has been skittish since she was young, so, she would really make a better nurse cow than a family milk cow. Then again, once she calves she may become more personable. Anyway…

Someone was interested in buying her (for a nurse cow) so we needed to catch her and put a halter on her. That is where the fun began!

It would have been easy had we had a corral for her and not just an open pasture. Life is never easy is it?

This heifer knows a rope and she knows a rope means loss of freedom for her. She would let you close enough to stroke her, unless you had a rope in your hand! John is good at slipping a lasso around a cows neck when he can get close enough but that was impossible with her. We chased and herded and 4 wheeled around her most of the morning. And then, we gave up!

The next step was to call the vet to see if any tranquilizer would be safe for the calf. Using a tranquilizer gun, we were sure we could get her. No go! It would be unsafe for the calf.

After a phone call, the cowboy pulled up with his horse in a trailer, saddled and ready to go! He even had spurs!

He rode the horse around the field for a few turns and then began to rope our heifer. They seemed to circle each other as if sizing up the opponent.

He made it look so easy! Only a couple of misses and she was lassoed! It was almost like watching a John Wayne movie in real like!

The cowboy then led her to where we wanted her tethered and showed the boys how to hold her down so John could put a halter on her. Mission accomplished!

Once tethered, she calms down and you can get close enough to stroke her and feed her. The man from the craigslist ad did end up buying her after seeing how ornery she can be. Hopefully she will make a good milk cow for him.

Guess what our boys did the rest of the afternoon? They practiced lassoing with a rope. They practices on each other, on toys, on their sisters. They actually got quite good!



Liver Pâté

liver pate

Liver Pâté was never a recipe I had a desire to try. But, being on the GAPs diet, I have learned that one of the more easily digestible meats is liver and especially Liver Pâté.

Oh, as a young girl, I really liked Liver and Onions. In my hometown, there was a restaurant called Shoney’s that had it on the menu – I would order it every Sunday after church. But, as I grew up and the restaurant was no more, I forgot about the good taste of liver. I had no idea back then, just how good for you liver is! It is one of the most nutritionally packed meats!

Liver is a great source of nutrients that many people with autoimmune diseases are lacking, including B vitamins, iron, zinc, and vitamins A and D! Also, did you know that ounce per ounce, liver has twice the folate as spinach? Folates are important for women in their child-bearing years and the lack of folate is linked to birth defects. Considering that liver is packed with folate, vitamin A and retinol (both needed during pregnancy), it is an important food for reproductive health and the health of a developing baby.

I know, many people do not like liver. Just the thoughts of eating an organ meat make some squeamish. But, liver is an important food and one worth trying multiple times  so as to develop a taste for it!

When we butchered our first steer, he had an 18 lb liver! But, with our family size, we went through that quickly. Did I say that even our 4 yr old likes liver? So, with 9 people minimum eating, 18 lbs went fast. That is how I found my affiliate, US Wellness Meats. If you don’t have a trusted source of good quality grass fed liver (as well as other grass fed meats) check out my affiliate partner, US Wellness Meats. I have been well pleased with their products.

If you have never worked with liver before, let me prepare you. Liver has a slippery, slimy feel which is one reason I find cutting it into pieces with scissors easier than using a knife. Then, there is the blood. But, don’t let that deter you. Take a deep breath, rinse the liver under running water and go for it – you will be glad you took the time to try Liver Pâté.

The following Liver Pâté recipe works great as a dip for fresh veggies if you are on the GAPS diet and if you aren’t, it tastes great with Homemade Wheat Thins, other crackers and bread.

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Cheepo  is the name or our parakeet.

That is ChEEpo – not to be confused with ChEApo!

He was a Christmas present from our oldest daughter and her husband to the four youngest boys.

Why would someone call their bird Cheepo? Because he cheeped. Very softly in the beginning. But now, he lets loose and rivals the children in volume![Continue Reading]

Life is Short!

As I write this, we are preparing to travel to Georgia for my father-in-law’s funeral. While his death was not totally unexpected, it is still an emotional time. I will not be posting for the few days of our trip but we would appreciate your prayers for our family, as well as, all the other family members who will be travelling.

I say his death was not unexpected because he was in his 80’s and in poor health.

Still, it does cause reflection on the brevity of life. Whether we live 20, 40 or 90 years, we will all die. We will all face the God who made us.

Are you prepared?

We will all have to give an account for why we have fallen short of His plans for us.

Do you have any idea of  what is to be done?

God loves us beyond measure and requires our obedience without the least slip-up.

Have you obeyed Him by doing only what is right and your whole life rejected everything wrong? (You know in your heart. No one has to point anything out to you.)

There is a price for disobedience. Are you ready to pay it? Obedience yields eternal life with God, while transgression results in eternal separation from God – death, hell.

But God, being loving beyond our dreams, provided forgiveness for us by somehow taking our place in that judgment. All we have to do is penitently ask for His forgiveness – you and God alone know your own heart.

While some people know their life is coming to an end, others have no idea that their time is about to be up.

Have you humbled yourself and asked?

West Texas Sunset

I hope you do not get tired of seeing pictures of the beautiful sunsets here in west Texas. Each one is like a unique painting!

Wheat Thins, Homemade

wheat thins If your family is like mine, they love Wheat Thins.

In fact, we can put away several boxes at one sitting!

This homemade Wheat Thins recipe is so easy and costs a fraction of the price that the store-bought crackers do!

And, they taste amazingly like the real thing.

I cannot seem to make enough of them so, I must at least quadruple the recipe!  Everyone loves them! Well, nobody wants to marry them (as my children say when someone says they “love it”), but they sure get eaten fast!

[Continue Reading]

Cabela’s Commercial Grinder

Having butchered our first steer a week ago, we needed a grinder to grind the “leftover” meat and fat to make ground beef. Knowing that we intended to continue raising our own cattle, we wanted a grinder that would be able to perform for the long term.

We were in the Austin area for a Texas Wine and Grape Growers conference and had the opportunity to stop by the Cabela’s store in Buda, Texas. Knowing that butchering was in the plans, we looked at the grinders. We were impressed with the quality of the commercial grinders they offered. So, last week I called and ordered the commercial grade 1 horse power grinder. Including shipping, the grinder and attachments cost about $600. This may seem to be a lot for a little used “kitchen appliance” but it is actually less than the fees Lubbock area butchers charges for processing a single cow.

It was in our kitchen in 3 days and boy is it heavy!

The commercial grade models have stainless steel meat trays, necks, screws, plates and blades. One reason we decided on the 1 HP grinder was because it has a reverse gear. From my reading, this can be important when dealing with large quantities of meat. With the ability to process 10 – 12 pounds of meat per minute, the meat could not be pushed through too fast for the machine. It could process much faster than we could!

We had frozen several bags of meat to be ground, so, we thawed it (ideally the meat should be 32-34F) and got to work. The meat had to be cut into chunks small enough to be pushed through the grinder plate. As you can see in the picture below, Bob was sitting by the feet closest to the action lest a piece of meat fall!

First, the meat was ground through the medium grinding plate (7mm). The meat was definitely ground up but still coarse.

After all the meat was processed through the medium plate, it was mixed together and ground once more through the fine grinding plate (4.5mm) to yield a better fat distribution. Now, it looked like ground beef!

You might think that clean up would be time consuming, but it was actually rather quick. The grinder comes apart very easily and all parts are accessible for cleaning. While some parts are dishwasher safe, we washed it all by hand.

After all was said and ground, we had about 58 lbs of ground beef. Hamburgers were the menu of the evening! I must say, after being on the GAPS diet and now beginning to eat meat after 30 years of being a vegetarian, they were absolutely delicious!

PS. My husband and sons in their spare time are going to try to make a pasta die to fit the grinder. Cabela’s customer service did not see a problem with our trying to extrude pasta dough.

I am in no way affiliated with Cabela’s nor receive any compensation from them. I merely want to share my personal experience with a quality product.


The West Texas Hillbillies

Do you remember the television show “The Beverly Hillbillies” with Jed, Granny, Jethro and Elly May?

Remember, an oil company found oil in Jed Clampett’s swamp land, paid him a fortune and the family moves to Beverly Hills. Their mansion is next door to Mr. Drysdale (their friendly banker) who is most concerned about keeping their money in his bank which necessitates their staying  in Beverly Hills.

I almost hate to make the correlation. But, as we were sitting in the parking lot of an irrigation company the thought occurred to me.

We were purchasing the materials to expand the drip irrigation to accommodate the new 2 1/3 acres of grapes we will be planting this spring. Sitting in our 15 passenger van, overlooking the interstate, cars were zipping by. Here we sit. PVC pipe of varying sizes tied to the top of the van.

I had to laugh as the picture came to mind, of us – all 9 of us – travelling in the van, with pipe and who knows what else would be tied to the top of the van by the time we were finished. Various other articles that had been purchased filled the inside.

I fondly remember the Clampett clan travelling around in their old truck, packed with all their earthly possessions. And, Granny on top, in her rocking chair, with her shotgun.

Thankfully, our van is not soooo old!

Thankfully, I was sitting inside and not on top in a rocking chair. Besides, it was a windy day and the wind ruins my hair!

Thankfully, my grandchildren call me DeeRee, not Granny!