Country Life

Fall Brings Pumpkins

Ginnie BakerThe trees are beginning to wear their fall colors, and the pumpkins are ripening on the vines.



That signals the beginning of the beautiful fall season and all of the fun activities that families can enjoy.

It’s also the time for one of my favorite recipes. I always have pumpkins in the garden, and this is a great way to use a couple of them!

Stuffed Sugar Pumpkin

Stuffed pumpkin

From Country Living magazine: “Native Americans were enjoying wild rice, pumpkins and venison for centuries before the first Colonists discovered the trio’s delicious flavors.”

Serves 6


• 1-1/2 cups water
• 1 pound ground venison or lean ground beef or lamb
• 1/2 cup wild rice
• 1/2 cup chopped green onions
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon crushed dried sage
• 1, 4-5 pound sugar pumpkin
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
• 2 teaspoon vegetable oil


1. In a 1-quart saucepan, heat the water to boiling over high heat. Stir in wild rice and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Return to boiling; cover; reduce heat to low and cook 40-45 minutes or until rice is tender and all the water is absorbed.

2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the top off the pumpkin and remove the seeds and fiber from the pumpkin. Place 1/2 inch of water in a shallow roasting pan and place the pumpkin in the pan.

3. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil. Add the ground meat and sauté until brown. 4. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the green onions and stir the remaining onions, the cooked rice, sage, remaining salt and the pepper into the mixture. Spoon the meat mixture into the pumpkin and cover the top with aluminum foil.

5. Bake the stuffed pumpkin for 45-60 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender when pierced with a fork. Add more water to the pan as needed to keep the pumpkin from sticking.

6. Remove the foil and place the pumpkin on a serving dish; sprinkle with remaining onions.

7. To serve, cut the pumpkin in wedges.


Who Needs An Alarm Clock When You Live In The Country?

Ginnie BakerPeople who live in a large city assume that all is peaceful and quiet out in the country.

They should come out here and spend a few days and nights; they’d soon find out it’s pretty noisy!

At calving time, there is a lot of “mooing” as the calves begin arriving. My neighbors raise beef cattle and have a good sized herd with a lot of calves expected each spring.

nap time for rocky and nugget2

The calving began a couple of weeks ago so there is a lot of noise associated with their births! The calves arrive anytime, day or night, so the mooing is a constant sound until they all arrive.

Coyote and pup
Photo by Fotolia/hkuchera

It’s also the time when the coyote pups arrive. The adults are quite vocal; their spine-chilling howling begins at dusk and continues until dawn.

Occasionally, I can hear the sheep on the farm down the road. It’s a nice, quiet, lowing sound; kind of soothing.

Then there are the birds! Sometimes I feel I live the Alfred Hitchcock movie “The Birds”!

Before daylight savings time, they didn’t start chirping until after 7 a.m., just as the sun was coming up.


At daylight savings time, it’s before 6 a.m. when they begin their chirping, sitting in the trees around the house, singing their little hearts out as they try to attract a mate.

The cardinals begin the chorus ... then the sparrows and towhees chime in ... followed by the soft tones of the doves. Then the crows, grackles, and starlings join the group with their raucous calls.

Adding to the mix are the chipmunks who seem to spend most of their time making a “chipping” noise as they chase each other around, fighting and competing for the sunflower seeds we put out for the birds.

I’ve been putting carrots out for the bunnies, especially during the winter when the snow was so deep. I knew they would have a hard time finding anything to eat.

Well, I think I’ve created a “bunny haven” for them!



They now count on me putting carrots out by the side door. One bunny even sits under the one pine tree and waits for me! It doesn’t run away, just sits until I toss the carrots out the door. It even waits in the morning, when I’m making breakfast. I now feed them twice a day! I hope the carrots will keep them out of the garden ... wishful thinking, I know!


There are also the usual sounds in the country as the farms come to life. Tractors can be heard as they lumber up and down the road.

Chainsaws are another usual sound as everyone begins getting ready for winter. The trees really took a hit with all the wind and snow. Branches are down all over, but it’s a good source of wood for the outdoor furnaces.

john and wood

Of course here on my homestead, the sound of my two mini donkeys, Samson and Delilah, can be heard as soon as I go outside and they hear the gravel crunch as I walk to the barn! They begin their pathetic braying, calling me to give them treats and let them out in their pastures.



All of these sounds add to the attraction of living in the “peace and quiet” of the country. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

No alarm clock needed!

Life at Mudville

I can’t believe the Fourth of July has come and gone already. I know I say this every year, but where has the year gone?

It doesn’t seem like too long ago we were shoveling snow and freezing. Now, you’re mowing the grass and sweating!

Samson and Delilah seem to enjoy this hot stuff. Sometimes I forget that their heritage goes back to Sicily where I’m sure it’s hot.

sammy and delilah check out S and B

Both Samson and Delilah love clover and their pastures have quite a bit of it. Unfortunately, they can’t eat fast enough so the hay grows up taller than their shoulders. Sometimes, all I can see are their big ears poking up. So John mows it down, making paths for them to walk to their sand piles and around each pasture like a maze.

Delilah is an eating machine! She doesn’t eat to live; she lives to eat, as the saying goes. If she hears me or sees me working in the garden, she gives the most pathetic bray, telling me she’s hungry. I usually give in which is why I’m going to enroll her in Weight Watchers!

Samson, as always, is totally committed to the neighbor’s cows and calves. If he’s still locked in his stall when the cows come to the pasture, he lets out with the loudest brays, calling me down to the barn to let him out. He’s very attached to the herd, HIS herd. He and several of the calves have developed a close relationship and rub noses through the electric fence! Sometimes, the cows move along grazing too fast in their pasture and Samson has to run to catch up, kicking his little hooves in the air.

The Fourth of July was an unnerving time for all of my critters. We had a lot of fireworks going off all around in the evening.

Samson and Delilah weren’t too happy with the booming and the flashes of color. Samson ran around his stall kicking up his heels, almost in a frenzy. Delilah is usually laid back but I could tell she wasn’t too happy either. I hated to do it, but we closed all the barn doors until it got quiet. They seemed to be happier if they didn’t have to see or hear the loud explosions.

Ah, life is sweet at Mudville!

Spring Renewal Comes to the Homestead

Ginnie BakerIt’s amazing ... no matter what the winter is like, there is a renewal, or rebirth, every spring!

It’s no different this year. I really worried that the unpredictable winter would have ruined anything that flowers like the fruit trees.

But, they are fine and ready to break out in blossoms, the buds are swelling!

I didn’t think my bleeding hearts would survive either, but they are coming up — way too early! This is a photo from last year.


In the past few years, my old lilac has been hit with a hard frost just as the flowers were ready to open. They turned brown and wilted.

This year, they look like they will be fine as long as we don’t have a killing frost.

My grandfather, the gardener, always said that a lady should wake up to the fragrance of a lilac. He planted one right outside my grandmother’s bedroom window. And each year, she would awaken to the aroma of the lilac.

All the little critters are active, getting ready to raise their young.

The chipmunks and squirrels awakened early this year, running around on the deck, eating all the sunflower seeds put out for the birds!

And the bunnies show up every evening for the carrots I put out by the back door!

Samson and Delilah are feeling the warmer temperatures and beg to go out in their pastures for a good run!


Life in the country! How sweet it is!

Mother Nature Continues To Play Her Games

Ginnie BakerThe weather continues to be the main topic of conversation here in Bellville!

It’s now the beginning of March and it’s coming in like a lion! With any luck, it will go out like a lamb!

In ten days’ time, we’ve gone from this:

dscf2065  snow falling on deck

to this:

002 flowers blooming in february

and back to this:

dscf2065  snow falling on deck

The poor birds returning for the summer can’t figure out what’s going on. I counted 14 cardinals, male and female; the largest number I’ve counted at one time. And hundreds of grackles, starlings, red wing blackbirds and cow birds descend from the sky every day!

Meanwhile, I have received more than 35 garden catalogs! I sit and look at them wondering if spring planting time will ever get here!

dscf2069  garden catalogs

My miniature donkeys, Samson and Delilah, are also waiting for spring ... they have a lot of pent up energy!

don't fence me in(2)

I guess we’ll just have to keep marking off the days on the calendar and hope for an early spring!

This Is A Strange Winter

Ginnie BakerI haven’t seen such a strange winter in a long time!

After the warm temperatures in December, we had some really frigid weather at the beginning of January.

Now, it’s back in the low 50’s with a lot of wind!

I hope it’s my imagination, but the buds on some of the trees look like they are beginning to swell.

My Witch Hazel is already in boom; that’s very early. It normally blooms in late February or early March.

wichhazel2014a(2)  Witch Hazel blooming

At least we didn’t get the snow storm that hit the East. My cousin lives in Baltimore and he sent me these photos during the storm.


harry2(2)  harry's patio

harry3(2)  harry's car

There's a car in here somewhere!!!

I guess I should be thankful for our mild winter!