Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mystery Plant?

What is this mystery plant?

Being new to New Mexico, I am not familiar with plants of the arid southwest.  I am at a complete loss to the identity of this plant.

There are several of these deliberately planted along the back wall and also in the front garden area.

The previous owner must have really thought these were great to have so many of them.
Hmmm... What makes them so great?

Please help.

Hoping to find an answer, this post is part of the following blog hops
The Prairie Homestead Homestead Barn Hop #121
The Oregon Cottage Tuesday Garden Party

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Typically Tubby - Look What the Cat Drug In...

I heard a meow.  

He sounded a little distressed.

So, of course, Saltbush Flats came to a complete stop because the head of ranchlet security is in need of something.

But where is he?  I thought I heard the meow from outside.  Rancher Roy thought it came from the bedroom.  hmmm....

We soon found Tubby under the bed, intently focused on something.  "Oh great, what does he have now?" we thought.

Up the bed came, frame and all, tipped to one side.  There trapped against the wall with no way out was a little lizard scared to death, Tubby within inches of him.

We were able to rescue this little fellow and return him outside, but not without a few well voiced complaints from the cat.

In a Jar To Be Transported Outside

Safely Outside, Still Clinging to the Paper Towel,
 Too Traumatized to Move

How do you teach the head of ranchlet security that daily lizard patrol and especially bringing prisoners into captivity is not really necessary?

To learn more of Tubby, see Dreams of an Extraordinary Guard Cat

This post is part of the following blog hops
The Prairie Homestead Homestead Barn Hop
The Oregon Cottage Garden Party Highlights

Typically Tubby, every Tuesday!

18 1/2 pounds of adorable!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Clothesline Part 1

Our home came with a propane clothes dryer.  Ugh!
First of all, propane is so expensive.
Second, I really dislike using gas or electricity for something that can easily be done without it.  This is were the clothesline comes in to play.  

I like drying my clothes on the line.  I especially like that they have no static cling.

New Mexico is perfect for outside clothes drying.  
     Abundant sunshine.
     Rarely rains.
     Extremely low humidity, very arid.
     Lots of wind.

Perfect conditions for a clothes dryer, but not so perfect for a garden.

So we went to a local store and picked up a cheap stand alone clothes dryer to use until we could find a nice permanent umbrella type clothesline.

The poor thing had to be hogtied to blocks just to hold it down.  The winds here in New Mexico are strong.  They toppled this little rack right over. 

The pole snapped at the joint.

Joint Taped Back Together

My little clothes dryer rack is in pitiful condition.  It is almost time to lay this little fellow to rest.  My new umbrella type clothesline has arrived.

See Clothesline Part 2Part 3, Part 4.

Sweet Apple Tenderloin

Oh my, this is delicious!
Sweet Apple Tenderloin Ready to Serve!
The tenderloin comes out of the slow cooker just beautiful.  I had to nibble some immediately.
Top of Tenderloin
Bottom of Tenderloin, Nice and Browned
Straining out all the solids leaves you with a wonderfully clear dipping sauce.
Bowl of Clear Sweet Apple Dipping Sauce

Return Some Dipping Sauce Back to Shredded Tenderloin

Sweet Apple Tenderloin

1 Pork Tenderloin, trimmed of all visible fat
2 Tablespoons crushed dehydrated apples
1/2 cup hot water
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Place tenderloin in slow cooker.
In small bowl pour hot water over apple bits.  
Stir in remaining ingredients.  Pour mixture over tenderloin.
Cover and cook on low 8 hours.
Remove tenderloin from slow cooker.
Strain remaining liquid through sieve to remove solids.  Save liquid, discard solids.  
Wipe out slow cooker with paper towel.
Return meat to slow cooker and shred.  
Add a little (or a lot) of strained dipping sauce back to shredded meat to moisten and add flavor.
Set slow cooker to keep warm setting until ready to serve.  
Try, if you can, to not nibble shreds of it before dinner.
Serve alone or on buns with additional sweet apple dipping sauce or favorite barbecue sauce.
Enjoy.  YUM!

Normally I would smother my pulled pork with barbecue sauce, not this.  The flavor and texture was so good I did not want anything covering it up.  I ate it plain, and had a second helping.

Just writing this makes me want to go run to the refrigerator and devour all the leftovers.

This post is part of the following blog hops:
Think Tank Thursday    The Weekend ReTreat     Backyard Farming Connection 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?

          A few days ago the power went out for a moment.  It left me alone in the dark in the middle of the afternoon during a storm.  Here I am standing in the kitchen in the midst of these dark clouds wondering what to do.  Am I prepared for a power outage?  (insert the word "no" here)  Do I have the necessary items in place to get me through more than just a few minutes without electricity? (insert the word "no" again)  How will I cook?  How will I get water?  But most important... how will I SEE?

          When we are without electricity, what we miss the most is light.  I always have a flashlight in my purse.  But at that moment of darkness I had no idea where to locate my purse.  I have some candles, but where are they? and where are the matches?  I have had oil lamps on my list of things to get for quite a while, years actually.  On my list, also, is a solar oven.  Why do I not yet have these items?  I am sure I have spent the equivalent costs in some unproductive manner.  Where is my water storage?  No electricity equals no water from the well.  

          Putting a new home in order does take some time and some planning.  Little by little we are getting there.  Does emergency preparedness need to be higher on our list of priorities?  Let us not get sidetracked with presentation and forget about preparation. 

          We all know we are to be prepared.  And we are to be prepared now.  What are we waiting for?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Apple Bread

Like many of you I have dehydrated fruits and vegetables in my food storage.  One of my favorites is dehydrated apples... well really, any dehydrated fruit.  Pineapple tops the favorite list followed by a close second of apples.  We eat them by the handfuls still in their dehydrated state.  Bite after bite, crispy little crunch after crispy little crunch. 
They are that good.

I made two loaves of this wonderful Apple Bread today.  Half a loaf was devoured within minutes of removing from the oven.

Apple Bread

     1 cup dehydrated apple slices, crushed
     1 cup warm water
     2 cups flour 
     1 Tablespoon baking powder 
     1 teaspoon salt 
     1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon 
     1/4 cup powdered milk
     1/2 cup sugar
     1/4 cup brown sugar 
     1 egg 
     3/4 cup apple water (from rehydrating apple)
     1/4 cup oil  
     1 teaspoon vanilla

Soak apple bits in 1 cup warm water until soft.

Mix flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and milk in a separate bowl.  

Drain apples well, reserving apple water.  Measure reserved apple water to 3/4 cup, adding additional water if necessary.  
Add sugars, oil, egg, and vanilla to apple water and mix well.  

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir just to mix.  
Do not over mix. 

Coat 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 bread pan with non-stick baking spray.  Pour batter into pan. 
Sprinkle top with additional cinnamon.
Bake 35 minutes at 375 degrees.
(Baking time may need to be adjusted.  Saltbush Flats is at 6200 feet elevation.)
Cool in pan 10 minutes.  Remove from pan to cool completely on wire rack.

This recipe makes excellent Apple Muffins, also.
Prepare batter as directed.
Coat 12 cup muffin pan with non-stick spray.
Fill each cup 3/4 full.  
Bake 15-18 minutes at 400 degrees.  
Remove from pan to cool on wire rack.  

This post is part of the following blog hops:
The Weedend ReTreat    From the Farm blog hop    Homestead Barn Hop

Potato Dices

Honeyville Farms Dehydrated Potato Dices cost $9.99 for 28 ounces.  That is $.35 an ounce.  Honeyville Farms is a great company that puts out a great product.  But... I can make my own at home for less.

Here at Saltbush Flats we make our own dehydrated potato dices at about 1/3 the cost.

I diced 8 pounds of russet potatoes using the mandolin pictured above.

Then blanched them for 5 minutes in boiling water.  See previous post on Dehydrated Potato Slices here.

Placed them on the dehydrator trays and dried them for about 6 hours.

Eight pounds of dehydrated potato dices weighed in at 18 ounces and were about 1/4 of the original size.

The potato were $1.98 for 10 pounds.  That equals $1.58 for 8 pounds.  Add in a minimal amount of electricity to run the dehydrator and we are at $2.00 or less for my potato dices.

Cost per ounce is $.11.

But the fun does not stop there.  Rancher Roy loves french fries.  So I made 1 pound of potatoes into french fries just for him.

After blanching for 5 minutes, I flash froze these fries on cooling racks.  It was much easier to carry the cooling rack to the freezer on the baking sheet than to carry the rack itself.

Cost of 1 pound of fries is about $.25.

Here at Saltbush Flats we are frugal.  We dehydrate, can, and freeze all we are able as we get closer and closer to self-sufficiency.

This post is part of these blog hops
The Homeacre Hop     Homesteaders Blog Hop     From the Farm Blog Hop

Friday, July 26, 2013

Wisdom of Rancher Roy

"You can't change a woman's mind, but wait a little while and she will change it herself." 
- Rancher Roy

I often precede a lot of statements with "I've changed my mind."  Husband Rancher Roy and son Colt in the City just laugh and then say something like, "you've got to be kidding!" or "really? you've never done that before."

Just What Is a Saltbush Anyway?

We are blessed with fourwing saltbush on our ranchlet.
This plant has many names.  Rancher Roy calls it chamisa.  
It is also called white greasewood, saltsage, fourwing shadscale, and bushy atriplex.

Saltbush is an excellent forage food for cattle, antelope, elk, and other wildlife.  It is a highly nutritious source of food all year long, comparable to alfalfa.

Saltbush is a native drought tolerant plant, just perfect for this high and dry area we call home.  Elevation 6209 feet.

This post is part of the following blog hops
An Oregon Cottage Garden Party Highlights

Monday, July 22, 2013

Typically Tubby - Dreams of an Extraordinary Guard Cat

Introducing Tubby, Saltbush Flats Head of Ranchlet Security.

If anything happens on this ranchlet, Tubby is the first to respond and protect.

Tubby hard at work.

Tubby guarding our home as we unpack and arrange furniture.

          As you can clearly see, Tubby's security services are greatly needed.  Saltbush Flats could never function properly without his keen sense of ability and dedication ordinary cat need apply.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Way Too Many Lemons and Limes... Is There Such a Thing?

Bottomless Boxes

          I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase lemons and limes 10 for $1.00.  Do you think I bought just 10?  ha! not me.  I purchased 150 of those juicy little things. Estimated yield is about 18 gallons of sweet tangy lemon/limeade for my family, plus zest and citrus cleaner.

           I wish I knew of a great quick and easy way to juice these.  I used a reamer or that spoon in the picture below to extract the juice.  I have tried rolling them on the table.  I do not think that made much of a difference.  I also tried microwaving them for 20 seconds.  That did make the pulp softer and a bit easier to juice.  But do I really want to microwave all my citrus?  No.

Ready for the freezer.

          Each ice cube tray holds about two cups juice.  It took about ten limes to get two cups juice. 

A little bit of zest.

          The lemon and lime rinds will get bagged and put in the freezer until I am ready to make some citrus oil cleaners.

2/3 cup lemon and/or lime juice (about 5 juice cubes)
1 cup sugar
water to fill 2 quart pitcher

Stir all ingredients together in pitcher.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 19, 2013

It Came with the Ranchlet - Hummingbird Feeder and Nectar Recipe

          This hummingbird feeder is just outside my door.  A few days ago I saw a little hummingbird hovering over the feeder looking for nectar.  With everything to do getting settled in a new home, the feeder went neglected.  This afternoon I was determined to get the hummingbirds back.

Clean feeder and fresh nectar

          That dark mark on the base had me stumped.  I tried and tried to scrub it off. I lost that battle and the mark is still there.  
          While hanging the filled feeder I soon realized the purpose of the mark.  It is let me know which hole the hook goes into to hold the feeder still in these harsh New Mexico winds.  Can you imagine the little hummers being whipped around in this wind, holding on for dear life.

Thanks to that little fellow's visit this feeder is now clean and full all ready for him to return... and bring his friends.

Nectar Recipe
1 cup sugar
4 cups water

Stir together sugar and water in saucepan.  Bring to boil.  Boil just long enough for sugar to dissolve and mixture to become clear.  Cool.  Makes 4 1/2 cups nectar.

Welcome to Saltbush Flats!

          We have high hopes and dreams for our little piece of New Mexico paradise!  We would like to chronicle our adventures and misadventures along the way to making something productive out of this wannabe ranchlet.  We hope you enjoy the journey also as we push forward through the dust and wind.

          One day our ranchlet will support a gray water system, orchard, chickens, large canning vegetable garden, small kitchen and herb garden, and a dairy cow!  We would like to share our produce, herbs, and eggs at local farmers markets.

Back yard.  Flat.  Open.  Windy.

          Our goal is to become more self-reliant by growing or producing most of our food and living a simple yet fulfilling life.  We look forward to the blessings and joy along the way.