Elderberry everything, and an accidental FB cow sale!

The Elderberries we put in three years ago have been a great addition to the farm. Not only do they smell wonderful in June, but they have so many uses. Since some of the branches hang over very low, I use those for gathering the flowers. Once these low clusters begin to fruit they would end up on the ground with the added weight. The rest of the beautiful, flowering clusters are left to become berries. Elderflower tea has many healthy benefits, and one of my goals this year was to gather more plants for Winter time tea. My pantry now has a new section, and in it are many types of herbs I grew and also foraged for over the course of late Spring, Summer and Fall.

This was gathered and dried last June.

This is an elderberry liqueur. First I made an Elderberry Tincture, using Elderberry and Vodka, knowing some of it would be used as a tincture, and then the rest, with the addition of sugar and time, became Elderberry Liqueur. The berries were picked in August, when I made the tincture, and in October I started the Liqueur which was ready at the end of November. I will, and have, use some of these as gifts.

This is Elderberry Syrup, that can be added to sweeten tea, when a cold is coming on, and throughout the cold. It offers vitamin C, an antioxidant punch and helps to strengthen the immune system.


Right now I am starting to have flashbacks to the movie, Forest Gump, here. You know, the many ways to prepare shrimp, according to Bubba. Well, that aside, this is another way I use Elderberry. I keep berries in the freezer and just toss some into my kombucha for the second ferment, and I have enough frozen elderberry to last all year.

This last batch of Kombucha (2nd ferment or “2f”) turned out quite pretty.

Outside things are getting pretty quiet, but we had an interesting cow sale right after Thanksgiving.

This is Maggie and she has a new home.

We were needing to move Maggie off the farm and were were not finding a buyer for her locally. We didn’t want her Papa mating with her in the upcoming months and so we were facing no choice but to use her as beef. I posted, on a homesteading FB page, that I was wondering if we would want to do the butchering differently because of her size, and was hoping for some guidance. I thought maybe people would have different recommendations for the cut sheet since she wasn’t full grown. THEN, someone posted a comment that they would like to buy her! This person lives in Missouri, and well, there is always the concern that you don’t know them, and will they show up and follow through with the deal. Well yes they did! They were here on time, and were very kind people who were very excited to take our Maggie home with them. The loading went perfectly and they were off. It was amazing how it all worked out!

In other outdoor news, although the garden is long gone, I did get in a few last Fall tastes before it was completely over…

These are fried green tomatoes, made from the last batch of green tomatoes that came in from the garden. They were delicious!

Also with the last batch I made some salsa verde. I will definitely make this again!

The mini high tunnel is still providing us a limited, but greatly enjoyed, variety of vegetables. The picture below shows what I brought in yesterday.

Parsnips, carrots and spinach. The eggs just got into the picture since they came in, in my bucket!

This photo was about a day. A pumpkin baking – chicken broth making – kombucha bottling – bread baking day, but it was more than that. Since selling my small granola business, I am finding that there is even more joy, in cooking and processing food, now that I am not in a hurry when I cook or bake. I am able to take more time with the process. In my previous life, if you will, it was about being efficient of time, because there were so many things to do with jobs, a house and kids. Now the time I take, which in the past I would have thought to be inefficient, I see and feel differently. I am seeing a lot of things differently as I am getting older, and entering a new phase of life. I am loving having the time to feel and enjoy the processes, of everything I do. We hear a phrase often these days, that comes from the recent popular book by Marie Kondo. The phrase is, “does it give me joy?” She is referring, of course, to more tangible items, but in general, there is something so peaceful about finding what gives you joy and fills you up. Not sure when the “golden years” start but this time of life is golden already. The children are off and doing well, and we find ourselves alone together on this farm a lot. It absolutely gives us joy and I feel grateful everyday, and to be honest, I’d say many, times in a day.

Topping off the day, was an absolutely stunning sunset.

The even more amazing thing was that we had another showstopper of a sunset the next night!

His first hunt and we learned so much…

He has waffled over deer hunting for years but decided this was the year that he would go on his first hunt. He went out early in the morning and later in the afternoon the first two days, the first of which was in rain and wind and the second was pretty chilly. The third morning I heard a shot at 7am and it was close enough that I knew it was him. He came up to let me know, and despite my stubborn desire to want that first hot cup of coffee that was ready, I wanted to be there to support him and help as needed. He harvested a beautiful Buck. He worked hard to gut it, as it seems no matter how many YouTube videos you watch, it’s quite a bit different in person. It will surely be easier next time. We loaded it into the truck and brought it to our DNR station to register it, and so that they could get a sample of the deer to test it for CWD. We are unfortunately in a CWD zone. (Definition from the WI DNR shown below.) Then we hung it in the barn. This was not a young buck so we knew we wanted to let it hang for a bit. (NOTE: gloves were worn in all contacts with the animal)

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was first found in Wisconsin’s wild deer in 2002. It is a 100% fatal disease that causes brain degeneration in deer, elk and moose. Like other prion diseases, CWD can have an incubation period of over a year and clinical symptoms develop slowly. There is currently no known cure.

After arming ourselves with hours of YouTube videos on butchering we were prepped for it. We were very fortunate to have our future son-in-law and our daughter helping, he has butchering experience so we were learning from him, and we all had jobs. The work went quicker than we thought it would.

We have experienced seeing our meat, we have raised in the freezer, both the pork and beef that go to the butcher and the chickens that we raise and butcher ourselves. This was different. I didn’t realize when I looked in the freezer, the reaction I would have. Harvesting wild meat from our own land. This was a big step.

Per instructions none of the meat gets consumed until the test results come back and after waiting for 9 days we found out this deer was positive for CWD. This was hugely disappointing news. All the meat had to get disposed of and the carcass was dropped at the DNR site.

I had so many different feelings over this. I felt terrible that the deer lost it’s life without getting to nourish another life, which is what should have happened. I felt like it was disrespectful to not honor this gift by using every part of it. Then I thought about how that deer would have passed the disease to other deer and that it was better for the herd. I thought about all that we learned, from gutting to hanging to butchering. We will always remember this first deer, not for the fact that it was CWD positive, but because this deer gave us the opportunity for an education. Next time, because of this buck, we will have much more knowledge about processing. It may not have turned out as we hoped it would, but it was a very important learning experience in many ways.