Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Little Bit of Life in the Redoubt

I thought I would take a minute and catch you up on all of our latest happenings.  Some of these things I will write about in further detail later, but here is a sampling of our life in the Redoubt.....

As I am sure is the case in the majority of the country, our local lab work costs are out of sight.  Typically, when we go to our clinic/hospital to have blood work done, they charge their cost and add a zero.  A $15 test costs the consumer $150 and a $25 test costs $250 and so on.  With three members of our family requiring semi-regular blood tests, the costs where outrageous.  And so, we came up with a better way.  Our midwife has blood work privileges at our local lab, so every three to six months, we set up an appointment with her.  She comes to our home, has Maid Elizabeth do blood draws (she can even draw her own blood!), processes the blood work and drops it off at the lab.  The lab then forwards the test results to our doctor and we are able, affordably, to fill our prescriptions.  Our midwife charges us what the lab charges her (which is cost) and I always add a little for gas money, and of course make sure I have a pot of tea waiting so we can have a long chat.

Apparently, the lab has changed the way they do things and blood work has to be submitted earlier than it used to be, which means that our midwife is no longer able just to drop the blood off on her way home.  To remedy that problem, she now just stops by the lab and picks up a centrifuge on her way to the Shouse and processes our blood in the middle of the dining room table.  Talk about home health care!
The Centrifuge


Blood samples ready to be spun

Our midwife, ever the teacher - teaching as she goes!

And the separated blood
The kids did a little winter project that was for the birds (pun intended).  They didn't want our feathered friends to have to go without when the ground was frozen and the weather was harsh, so they made sweet little pinecone feeders.  Miss Serenity hiked to the woods and gathered a few sturdy pine cones, brought them home and helped the littles built their very own bird feeders.  They began by "painting" peanut butter thickly all over the pinecones and then rolled them in wild bird seed, coating them generously.  After the cones were covered with seed, Serenity tied twine to the tops and hung them in various locations outside.  The birdies love them and we love watching them!

Spreading the peanut butter

And rolling in seed

Master Calvin is rather pleased with his creation

A little birdie smorgasbord

A couple just to we could enjoy the view
I had neglected my apple cider vinegar long enough!  I stirred it once a week or so, but it was high time to filter and bottle this potent stuff.  When all was said and done, my 5 gallon carboy of apple cider yielded about 4 1/2 gallons of apple cider vinegar!

My vinegar, in desperate need of straining

Bottled and shelved
We made up bits of this and that for Sir Knight to take to all of his people at work for Christmas.  We did a variety this year - Wine (our Raspberry, from 2012), French bread and various candies.  We had so much fun putting everything together.

Wine, bread and candies, ready to go

Peanut Brittle, Turtles, Layer Cookies and Mounds Bars....

Peanut brittle ready to crack
We harvested both Elderberries and Rose Hips for winemaking last fall.  Our wine has been fermenting away, but Sir Knight noticed that neither batch was bubbling any longer, meaning it was time to rack (siphon) the wine to see if it would reactivate.  Racking is a wonderful way to get a lovely, clear wine due to the fact that when you siphon, rather than strain, you leave all of that ugly sediment on the bottom of the demi john.  The Rose Hip wine turned a spectacular color of amber - clear as a bell and the Elderberry a rich, deep crimson.  I'll go into further details on racking and finishing the wine later!

Getting ready to siphon (rack)

Look at that lovely amber liquid!

Racking Rose Hip wine

Now for the Elderberry

Next step - bottling!
That's it - a little bit of life in the Redoubt.  Have a beautiful day!


  1. Thank you for the peek into your world. Neat to see how you and your family work together and create together!
    Blessings on your day,
    Mary Beth

  2. I always enjoy reading your posts. It makes my day. Than you for taking time to share.

  3. Enola,

    I love how you have found away to cut the cost of your blood tests with using the midwife, and your beautiful daughter. It's so ridiculous to have to pay these outrageous prices for pretests, test, and medical care.
    Taking care of the wild birds for winter is a great project for the little ones to make and study as part of their home schooling.
    All the delicious homemade items, and wine makes me want to go into the kitchen and raid my cabinet for something to snack on.
    I wish you and yours a very Happy New Year!

  4. I love these kinds of posts. Actually, I love all of them, but the homespun stuff especially.

  5. We did the peanut butter and pine cones thing in elementary school, except we used crushed up peanuts instead of birdseed,as I recall from 4th grade science class. I hadn't thought about that in forever.
    I don't think I've ever had blood work, other than experimenting with a glucose meter of dubious accuracy (I was given a meter and three test strips/finger stabbers). I consider myself lucky that I don't have to.

  6. If you don't mind me asking, why do your family members need all the blood tests?

  7. Elegant and resourceful as ever! Loved this post, from the cutting health costs and making of wine and vinegar to the beautiful table and the pine cone bird feeders and the lovely Christmas presents you made. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  8. I wanted to tell you that I really appreciate your blog, outlook and life. Please pay no attention to those that get vitriolic about your beliefs - They are yours and you have every right to them. I love reading what you are up to and I love the names for each of you. I wish you and your family love and blessings, now in the future. Carol

  9. Enola,
    I love your cookbook and the recipes. We recently made the caramel (I will never buy caramel again!) and I was going to make the turtles, but have not got that far yet. The first candy I made though, was the brittle. I did not have peanuts, so I used pecans. Oh, my! It was wonderful, so worth standing over the hot stove and stirring. I think I will try it with almonds, too.
    God Bless,

  10. I would like to know how you make your Apple Cider Vinegar.
    I enjoy your blog, thank you.