We awoke this morning with an unexpected blanket of snow on the ground. Once again Oklahoma and God has provided an unexpected weather change. Yes, it has been very cold the last couple of days (for Oklahoma) but the weather man predicted just a dusting.
When the ground is covered in snow, everything seems to come to a stall and there is a quiet reverance on the prairie. John says it’s God’s way of saying, “time to slow down”. Cows still have to be fed and ice on the ponds must be broke for watering. But, once that’s done life goes at a much slower pace. A hearty soup can be put in the crock pot and with a pot of steaming coffee one can relax with a good book or just enjoy the view.
It’s been dry for so long. We’re enjoying the recent rains. In past summers the drought and extreme heat killed pasture grasses forcing us to put out hay for cattle in August. Shortage of hay drove up prices from $25 to $100 and up per round bale. Ouch!
Praise God, it’s October and the cows are still enjoying green grass and children are happily playing in mud puddles!
“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.” Isaiah 55:10 NLT
Last week and through yesterday the weather reports were indicating that we had a very high chance of experiencing severe weather, including large hail and tornadoes. It’s April, nothing unusual for Oklahoma. A few weeks back, I had cleaned our cellar. Tornado Season Has Arrived! My son and his family of 5 would be joining us since they don’t have a storm cellar. So I rearranged the cellar the day before to make sure there would be plenty of room for everyone along with our 2 dogs. I decided to order pizza so we wouldn’t have to worry about cooking or cleaning since predictions were indicating the storm could arrive around 5:00pm.
Earlier in the day I went to my BSF bible study thinking everything would be under control when I came back home. Best laid plans. While I was gone, John was cleaning out a drainage ditch so that the heavy rain expected would flow through. It began to thunder which caused some turkeys to begin gobbling. Any loud noise will cause them to announce their location. If I hear thunder, I automatically think “lightening, I’m done, in the house!” But, the sound of turkeys and it’s turkey season, mean’s go get the gun for John!
When I came home, the proud hunter had a turkey that probably weighed about 25 pounds! John knows I do not clean fish or any wild game, just cook. So he dressed and plucked. Then it was my turn. I’m only thinking about how am I going to cut up this turkey, find room to hold it until I can decide what to do with him and in enough time to get to the cellar! I cut him up like you would a chicken and put the pieces in a large stock pot. Fortunately, John’s small ice box in his shop was available to keep it refrigerated until the next day.
My plan is to make turkey jerky with one of the breasts, crock pot the legs and one of the thighs for turkey pot pie and I’m going to try canning the other breast and thigh. Wild turkey is much leaner than ones you would buy at the grocery store. Turkey jerky is very good and I’m expecting the crock pot and pressure canning will produce a tender meat. I love chicken that’s been pressure canned. It actually improves the flavor.
His beautiful feathers will be used for a display that will include red cedar. This will be a gift for my sweet daughter-in-law who loves these displays along with the European deer mounts John makes.
So all turned out well. We did make a trip to the cellar. Some high winds passed over with only one broken branch of my crepe myrtle bush and a lot of turkey to eat!
Spring on the prairie means the arrival of wildflowers, blue birds building nests in the boxes we built, new baby calves and in Oklahoma, Spring also means the arrival of tornado season. We do have tornados in every month of the year. I have seen very destructive tornadoes in December. But our main time of the year is from April through June. Because Spring has arrived early this year, I am preparing early.
We are fortunate to have an underground cellar next to the house. It would be nice to have a safe room in the house. We have an older home that we added a cellar after the F4 tornado in Moore, OK on May 8, 2003. Moore was devastated on May 20, 2013 by an F5. F5 is the maximum rating on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. There were 24 deaths and 212 injuries. Sadly 7 of those deaths were at an elementary school.
Even though Oklahomans have got used to this as part of our life, tornadoes are serious business. Being prepared and knowing what to do during a tornado is a must. We live in a rural area where there are no tornado sirens blasting to warn us like there are in the towns and metropolitan areas. Fortunately, with modern technology and improved weather forecasting, it’s easier to keep a heads up to deadly weather.
I recently cleaned our cellar to make room for my husband and I, our 2 dogs, as well as close neighbors who sometimes join us, along with my son and his family when they are visiting. It does get a little crowded sometimes! This picture is before cleaning!
The cellar is used to store canned goods, extra water and important papers. It’s also a good storage area for potatatoes packed under straw. The cool consistent temperature underground is ideal for food preservation. I’ve never had a potato go bad this way. When I find a good sale, I can stock up. Last year I experimented with pumpkins and green tomatoes in the same manner. The pumpkins looked good for several months but when I tried to blend the pumpkin meat it was dry and stringy compared to the freshly picked. The tomatoes did ok, but I should have floured and froze them for fried green tomatoes, yum! I had a busy garden season and was over run so I got lazy. Other items in the cellar not shown: folding table, folding chairs, emergency weather radio that can be ran on batteries or hand cranked, plastic cups, several gallons water, snacks and coloring books and crayons for the grandkids.
Before we had a cellar, we would go to the central location of our home without windows and have a mattress handy to keep protected from flying objects. Fortunately, we’ve never been hit but have had some scary weather close by.