Sunday Olio – July 31, 2022

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

What a busy week. At least the later half. On Thursday, hubby and I drove to mid South Carolina to pick up the two local grands from their other grandparents who drove them up from Florida that far. Daughter was unable to go get them and they needed a place to stay for a few days so they came home with us. They are now 10 and 15. On Friday, we took the 15 year old to take his learner’s permit test, which he passed and came out with a brand new learner’s permit. He mowed for us that afternoon after he and I determined that the mower had not broken the belt, just jumped it from the pulleys. I don’t know if it is stretched or if the repair shop made an adjustment while replacing the drive cable, but as long as you turn off the motor prior to disengaging the drive belt, it stays in place.

Saturday, he was given a lesson on driving the real tractor and did great, but after several starts and stops as we were using the height of the tractor to trim back some branches overhanging the driveway, it suddenly would not engage in any gear. It is parked in front of the barn until I can troubleshoot the issue, hoping it is something his size 13 feet kicked getting on or off. We did get the branches trimmed by using the seat of the riding mower, me pulling down on the branch to lower it enough for him to cut it. This was done after we all walked at the pond. It is great having a teenage boy around that is willing to work with grandmom to get things done I can’t do by myself and to have someone who enjoys riding the riding mower get the grass done.

Up a tree?
Tractor lessons

They were taken home early this afternoon and daughter presented me with a gallon bag of jalapenos. Her’s are larger and more prolific than mine at this point. Once home after hubby and I walked in the rain for the 4th time this week, a basket of softball sized peaches was picked from our tree and canning commenced.

First up were the peppers. I process them two ways. First is to pierce them, pack them in a jar with a little oregano, a tablespoon of salt, and pour hot vinegar over them. They then sit out until cooled and are put in the refrigerator to pickle over the next couple of weeks. The other way is to make them shelf stable, by doing basically the same thing, but while still hot, water bath canning them so they seal.

There were about 2 1/2 pounds of Amish paste tomatoes that had been picked yesterday and they were next. Blanched and peeled, seasoned, cooked down, packed in jars for pizza sauce and they were water bath canned.

Nine of the huge peaches were blanched, peeled, chopped in the food processor, and made into Peach jam with Sriracha, which makes a great cream cheese topping with crackers or meat glaze. The peaches cooked while dinner was prepared and eaten and then the jam was packed in jars and canned.

Total for the day: 1 quart refrigerator pickled jalapenos, 5 pints canned pickled jalapenos, 4.5 half pints pizza sauce, 8.5 half pints Peach jam with Sriracha.

Several days ago, one of the Easter egger hens decided to be broody. She was put in “Purgatory” aka isolation on Thursday and released late this afternoon. She went straight back to a nesting box and parked. She is back in purgatory for another 2 or 3 days to cool her off. All of the hens are beginning to molt already and their pen is beginning to look like a pillow fight occurred in there and out in the yard where they wander during the day.

The monthly spinning challenge ended today with me finding all 31 scavenger hunt items and posting the daily picture with my spindle and the item. Though I didn’t spin as much this month as usual, I needed 62 grams spun and did about double that. The blue on the scale was used partially for the visible mending on my wool hoodie, and the white is more than half used on the tribute hat for my friend, so more spun than the scale shows.

Next month’s challenge has been posted and will begin tomorrow with the spinning for it.

During the week, while looking for a library book online, I saw the monthly selection for July was “The Girl in His Shadow” which was a great book sending me to the sequel “The Surgeon’s Daughter.” Both excellent historical fiction books set in the early 1800’s in England. If you are looking for a good book, I recommend both, but the second, the sequel should be saved til the first is read.

Olio 7/22/2022

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

There hasn’t been an olio post in a while, but events and photos have been gathering so let’s throw them together here.

I don’t use family names in my blog, but those of you who actually know me will identify this one. Son 1 has been working very hard to complete his PhD, and yesterday he successfully defended his dissertation. His defense was able to be watched via Zoom and hubby did watch it and shouted out when the congratulatory announcement was made. We are so very proud of his achievement that he has worked so hard to earn while also teaching and being the Director of Communications of the Honors’ College at the University where he works.

The very hot weather and intermittent evening thunderstorms have produced some delightful sunsets lately. Because the hens need to be secured each night, many of these sunsets have been appreciated and a few photographed by me. Here are two of the better ones.

The peach tree and berry canes have been providing delicious fresh fruit this week. Most of the berries go into the freezer for breakfast smoothies, but always some enjoyed as they are being picked. The peaches are just coming into their period of ripeness and several have been enjoyed fresh. A batch of some sort of peach jam will soon be made, though most jam making is going to be skipped this year. Last year’s jams were not a consistency that I liked and most of them ended up in the compost this spring so the jars could be washed for reuse as they sat unopened all winter. Very little jam gets eaten here and with not doing many craft shows, it isn’t getting sold either. I do make a couple of jams that are used as meat sauces, so they will be made in smaller quantities. Perhaps, canned peach halves or slices will join the shelves this year. They aren’t freestone peaches, so getting clean halves or slices is more difficult, but doable. Next up will be the apples and Asian pears. The deer have eaten all the lower apples and leaves and there seem to be fewer Asian pears this year, but enough for some fresh eating and some Pear Marmalade. And the deer have denuded the grape vine leaves that aren’t netted, the chickens having eaten all the grapes except one cluster they can’t reach. Before next year, a means to keep them out from under the vines needs to be formed. If it was downhill from the garden, the fencing could be expanded to protect it, but it is uphill and the chicken coop is in the way. Perhaps training the vines up a taller trellis so the hens can’t reach the hanging fruit. The deer are so bold they come right up to the house, into the walled garden and graze the flowering plants in pots and half barrels down. Just as I thought there would be flowers on some seed sown late spring, the plants are nipped off. Netted tomato cages can prevent that but it is so unsightly.

The bees need tending. They have been neglected for the past couple of weeks while I healed from the Bald Faced Hornet attack that hubby and I suffered on the back deck. That giant nest is now dead and removed and the deck is again useable, the swelling in my hand and arm and the itching have subsided from the 5 stings I received, so the bees need tending. It is just too hot to go out midday when they are foraging, wearing the bee protective clothing and they are all in the hives late in the day and early in the morning, but with two weeks of extreme temperatures ahead, it will have to be done anyway, one hive at a time so outside exposure is limited.

Some of the fall planted seed is up in the garden, though I still don’t see pumpkin seedling. More careful tending of the weeds is in order so it doesn’t require so much effort later.

The mower still sits without diagnosing whether the belt broke or jumped the pulley’s. With it so hot, the grass won’t sprout up as fast, so there may be a couple weeks before it becomes an issue, but it should be addressed and remedied before it is needed.

The spindle group scavenger hunt this month has been a fun diversion and has kept my spindles busy and the knitted tribute hat is coming along nicely too, a few rows at a time, which is all the arthritis in my hands allows. Spinning doesn’t bother them, but knitting does. Maybe I should return to crochet and see if that is painful. My fiber arts began with crochet, about 60 years ago. Crochet was lost to smocking, to counted cross stitch and crewel, to knitting, then spinning and a little weaving. Weaving doesn’t bother the arthritis, but warping the loom is stressful, so not as much weaving is done as it should be.

The randomness of the Olio posts is fun at times. I hope you enjoy them as well.

Hot summer

The world seems hot, wild fires, drought. Our garden hasn’t been watered except rainfall and two other well water sessions, but the weeds don’t seem to care. It was looking terrible yesterday, so the line trimmer was taken over to attack the paths. The deadnettle has been regularly weeded from the tomatoes and peppers and when I see it in the beans, the copy cat weed. As the trimming was being done, there were many blueberries to be picked, a total distraction, but also realization that if weedwacking was done there, it would damage many low branches of those shrubs. That put me on hands and knees to pull all of the grass and the insidious creeping weed that is trying to overtake the garden, but the blueberries are clear for now and the corn bed was done too. Doing that showed that the only pumpkin that came up was gone. Seminole pumpkins take 60-90 days and we have that much time before first frost, so this morning, more were planted.

In the cooler part of the morning, today, the last of the spring peas were picked, providing about 8 ounces of shelled peas. A basket full of green snap beans also picked, a handful of blackberries. The blueberries and blackberries were added to my bag of frozen smoothie fruits, a favorite summer breakfast.

After lunch and our hot walk, more time was going to be spent in the garden, planting the fall peas, fall potatoes, and preparing the bed that will be beneath the little greenhouse for carrots, radishes, spinach, and komatsuma, but just as I reached the back door, we were given a severe thunderstorm warning that produced lots of noise and light close by, but almost no rain. It seems to have passed, so a bit more work will be tackled out there to get the fall garden started. The green beans from the first planting provided 3 more pounds today but are no longer flowering, there are a few more to harvest, and the second planting is coming along nicely and just beginning to flower. The later ones are never as good, but if picked young enough, can be frozen or made into dilly beans for later in the year.

The garden really needs a real compost bin system or compost tumbler. I’m in a bad habit of weeding and leaving the weeds to compost in the paths instead of turning them into usable soil. This morning’s weeding was at least added to the pile, but yesterday’s weeds need to be cleared and put in the pile, and the pile needs to be turned.

This is the time of year when the garden had gotten ahead of me and a few days of work put it back into a friendlier place that doesn’t frustrate me when I see it.

The storm was short lived so another couple of hours were invested, the fall potatoes and fall peas were planted. The spring potato bed was smoothed and the greenhouse frame set in place to show position of the rows for the other fall seed that will be sown this week. As soon as it was done, rain started to provide a heavy shower to settle the seed in. Another shower is expected before dark.

I opened this house while smoothing the bed, to remove old nests and found these feathered little ones staring back at me. That task can wait for another day. I didn’t see Mom so I’m not sure what they are as I didn’t want to disturb them too much. There has been an Eastern Bluebird gathering food lately, so maybe hers.

Though I’m not much of a selfie person, I had to take this photo in front of the tallest sunflower, I can’t even reach the top.

The cleaned up garden. Some weeding along the fence is needed, but that too will have to wait for another day.

The first tomatoes are coming in, the pepper plants all have some peppers on them, the cucumbers are growing, but not producing yet. We will take what we get. The Pinto beans are beginning to dry. It doesn’t look like there will be a great number, but fun to have grown my own bed of them for the first time. Maybe next year there will be a large bed of them and forego the corn that really hasn’t done much.

During all of this, spinning and knitting is still in the works. The monthly challenge is a scavenger hunt with spindle photographed with the item. And some of the spinning from last month and early this month is being knit into a chemo cap as a tribute to my friend that passed from cancer earlier this summer.