This is the oldest agricultural fair in the Commonwealth and it happens in our little village today and last night. We have been attending this fair every year we are in town since we moved to our farm about 13 years ago. Each year, walking through the exhibits, watching the horse competitions, the jousting, the animal exhibits, enjoying some fair food and ice cream and when it doesn’t rain, staying to the end to listen to the music and watch the fireworks.
Last year for the first time, I finally submitted two shawls for exhibition and won two blue ribbons, totally shocking me. It emboldened to me exhibit again, expanding to several home canned goods, a skein of hand spun yarn, the shawl I spun and knit for Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em, and a scarf from a skein of yarn from a local indy dyer and friend who passed away early this spring.
When the items were delivered, they could not figure out a category for the hand spun yarn, so it came home again. The Tomatillo Simmer Sauce also caused some consternation at the check in. They didn’t know what a Tomatillo was, thus they didn’t know how to categorize it. It ended up in miscellaneous vegetable category. The judging was done at 8 p.m. last night, and the header shot is my results, a red on the hand spun hand knit shawl, a blue on the commercial yarn scarf, a red and two whites on canned items. A total of 5 ribbons. I’m pleased.
The weather has turned hot and dry, the garden is not thriving, watering had to be done, prompting thunderstorm warnings, but only sprinkles happened. The pumpkins are finally blooming. It may be too late for them to set fruit and grow pumpkins to maturity before the frost, usually mid October, but sometimes not until early November. I am hopeful for at least a couple for holiday pies and a stuffed pumpkin meal. My tomatoes are at their end, way too early, the tomatoes are just coming in to their own at the Farmers’ Market, so though I won’t have many more to can, I will be able to purchase some to enjoy sliced or in a salad.
It is that time of year when part of every day is spent harvesting, prepping for the freezer, or canning. I don’t like to use plastic, so even most frozen stuff goes in jars, then neatly stacked in wire baskets or canvas bags in the chest freezer. Mostly now is canning. The morning harvest wasn’t huge, but since there was 1/3 of yesterday’s tomato purchase plus a couple pounds from the garden, I’m ok with that. The tomatillos are prolific, the cucumbers that I thought were done just provided half a dozen more and more growing.
The product that takes the longest prep are the spicy Bread and Butter pickles, so the cucumbers, peppers, and onions were sliced and salted and stowed away in the refrigerator until time to heat them in the sugar brine and can them. One daughter in law loves them and I usually only make a single batch of 4 or 5 pints as the past few years the cucumbers haven’t produced much. This year there will be 3 batches done by the end of today, a total of 14 pints. One pint was delivered to her when grandson was returned home last weekend.
Once they were salted, the tomatoes that were harvested this morning were blanched and peeled, the frozen ones dumped in a sink of water to thaw enough to peel and chop, dumped in the big pot with herbs, salt, and citric acid and cooked down for canning.
Also from this morning was the start of the pepper harvest and some of them were cut and seeded to dehydrate, 2 were added to the pickles, and 3 were used with the tomatillos to make another batch of Tomatillo Jalapeno jam.
There are still several quarts of pickled Jalapenos from last year, so some of this year’s will be dehydrated and some sliced and frozen to use in chili and casseroles this winter.
The final result today from the remaining tomatoes, and the bucket of produce from this morning’s harvest was 8.5 pints of tomato sauce, 5 half pints of Tomatillo Jalapeno Jam, and 4 pints of spicy Bread and Butter pickles.
I started at 8:30 this morning, took a lunch break and trip to the local village store for more lids, and I ended at 2:50 p.m. with jars and more jars cooling on the counter to be added to the shelves tomorrow. Now time to rest.
The garden had me intimidated earlier this summer, but now that it is producing, the putting by being done, I look forward to enjoying and sharing the labors when the cold winds blow and the snow flurries this winter.
I arrived home yesterday morning, having left son’s house at 6:15 a.m. when he and grandson left to catch the vanpool for son to go to work and grandson to begin another basketball camp hosted by the University coach. We had the vet due at the farm about an hour and a half later. The big guy can no longer load and unload and he needed a couple of vaccines and a snap test. Since she was going to be here, we had her look at the German Shepherd who has a lump on her snout and also needed the snap test done. Both dogs are heartworm free and the cytology on the snout lump showed no infection so we are on watch mode there. The big guy loves most people, doesn’t mind the vet, seeming to enjoy the extra attention. The German Shepherd is skittish as they can be and has to be on a leash and wearing a soft muzzle for most of her exam, but she allowed the attempt to draw fluid from the lump without too much squirming.
After that visit, I felt like I had already done a full day so we went to town to run errands and get lunch only to find that a huge area housing many of the non fast food places were experiencing a power outage that ended up lasting well into the evening. We decided to get a bit farther away from there and stopped at Zaxby’s. The clerk at the counter looked like either a recent retiree or soon to be retiree. After taking our order, he said, “I guess I could give you the senior discount.” We didn’t know they had one and I quipped, we certainly are eligible. He smirked and said, “I bet I have a year or two on you, I will be 61 in September.” Well, I couldn’t resist letting him know that I have more than a decade on him and hubby stating that he was older than I was. That made me feel good for the day.
This morning, we set out to get a newspaper, chicken feed, and dog food, and they were just putting out fresh produce at the community store. I know it isn’t local nor organic, but my tomatoes aren’t doing well, so we purchased a 25 pound box of tomatoes to bring home. After several hours of standing coring, peeling, chopping, cooking, and canning, I no longer feel young. I got about 2/3 of them done, cored the rest and put them in the freezer to finish with some from the garden tomorrow. My water bath canner holds 6 pints or 8 half pints. The first batch was herbed tomato sauce and ended up with 8 pints, so two were packed in wide mouth jars and will go in the freeze, the other 6 were canned. Batch two was pizza sauce and there was enough to fill 9.5 half pint jars, 8 were canned, one will go in the freezer and the remaining quarter pint fit in an open jar of pizza sauce in the freezer to be used first.
The remaining tomatoes will probably be made into spaghetti sauce and a few half pints of it cooked down to more pizza sauce. We do enjoy homemade pizza with my sauce, local mozarella and local Italian sausage.
Daylily season if my favorite flower season. Of the dozen or so varieties, this one, call Sear’s Tower, given to me by a friend, is the last one blooming, the rest finished a couple of weeks ago.
The old timers here, have a saying that every day of August that has fog will produce a snow during winter. I am not superstitious, if it were true we would never get out this winter. This is the 6th of August and we have had dense fog every morning so far.
Once the fog cleared and I was standing at the kitchen sink dealing with tomatoes, I looked out to see a flock of 8 Tom turkeys grazing across the back yard.
The broody Oliver egger won’t give up. I have tried cold water, isolating her from the nesting boxes and other hens for 48 hours and nothing has worked. This is the third time she has become broody this summer, stopping and laying for a week or so then going back to broodiness. I give up. I guess she will give up eventually, I take eggs many times a day so she is sitting on empty nests. I think this fall, I will purchase 4 Buff Orpington chicks if I can get them and raise them over the fall so they will lay next spring and not try to raise more than that, they will provide enough eggs for us. In the spring, a small flock of Freedom Ranger or similar meat birds that grow to full size in only a couple of months will be purchased and raised separately from the egg laying hens. The cost of pasture raised chicken at the farmers’ market, since we have the facilities to raise them, makes it worth our time and effort.