All posts by mountaingmom

Wife, mother, grandmother, spinner, knitter, new weaver, soap and salve maker, non certified organic gardener, chicken raiser, chief cook and bottle washer for the household. Love to read and craft and dote on my family.

Back to the Harvest – 8/30/2018

With the trip behind us, it was time to return to the putting by for winter, a routine that generally is done a bit at a time all summer.  The berries were early and dozens of jars of jam were made and stored.  The tomatoes are not as prolific as in years past and with the blister beetle damage and something that takes a bite out of every one that turns red on the vine, I started picking them pink, ripening them in a window sill, and popping them in a huge bag in the freezer when they were ripe.  Once home, the apples and Asian Pears were ripe and beginning to drop, so they were harvested.  Also before leaving, a bag of Muscadine grapes were harvested and popped into the freezer for later.

The young apple trees that we bought about 5 or 6 years ago do not produce good fruit.  The fruits are small and gnarly, but have good flavor.  Some years I make applesauce from them, but it looked to be too much effort this year with the misshapen damaged little fruits and I wasn’t sure what would become of them, when Wilderness Road Regional Museum posted that their press was up and running and cider was being made for their Harvest Festival.  There weren’t enough apples to get much cider, but the Asian Pears were better formed in spite of some stink bug damage and they also were picked.  There were about 8 gallons of fruit in two buckets and Tuesday afternoon, off we went to press most of it.

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The two buckets produced a bucket full of dry pulp for the chickens and a gallon of rich cider for us.  A quart was stored in the refrigerator to enjoy now and the remaining 3 quarts were put into wide mouth pint jars and frozen for later.

Yesterday, the remaining Asian Pears were sitting on the counter and half were peeled and cooked down with a chopped orange and some sugar to make a few half pints of Pear Marmalade.

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Last night, the grapes were removed from the freezer and pulled from their stems to sit over night in a covered pot.  First thing this morning, a cup or so of water was added and they were simmered soft and run through the food mill to remove skins and seeds, then through a tight mesh bag to remove the pulp that remained.  There wasn’t enough juice to make a batch of jelly, so a couple of cups of unsweetened Concord grape/cranberry juice was added and a few half pints of very grapey jelly were made and canned.

Following that, the last few Asian Pears were peeled, cored, and chopped along with the pulp of a fresh lemon, some sugar, and pectin and a few pints of Asian Pear jam added as well.

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That left the tomatoes.  The bags of frozen tomatoes were dumped in the sink to begin to thaw so that the core could be removed and the skins slipped off.

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A pot full of basic tomato sauce was simmering on the stove to be turned into a  sauce that can be seasoned with Mediterranean herbs and spices for pasta or spiked with hot peppers for chili when the weather chills.  Once it  thickened enough, it was ladled into jars and canned for the panty shelves.

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The first six pints of 11 jarred.

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Though only 10 will make it to the pantry.  A blow out.  That hasn’t happened in a long while, but is a hazard of canning.

 

The tomato plants are recovering from the blister beetle damage and hopefully, we will get enough additional tomatoes for at least one more batch of the sauce.  We go through many jars of pasta sauce and chili tomatoes each winter and purchasing them at the grocer does not appeal to me.  I prefer knowing what goes into my food without the unidentified “spices” and preservatives that the labels always describe.

Now we await the onslaught of hot peppers for pickling and fermented sauces, the cabbages to mature for cold storage and another batch of sauerkraut, and hopefully more tomatoes as 11 pints will not get us through the winter.  There is still one pumpkins maturing in the garden and a few tiny ones that may never reach a usable size, but if not, they will be split and tossed to the chickens.

I am beginning to see more feathers in the coop and run, molting season is arriving and that means fewer or no eggs for a month or so.  Perhaps I should freeze more so there are some for baking during the non productive period.

 

 

The Wanderers Have Returned -8/28/18

Our vacation to Hawaii was both wonderful and fraught with stress.  Between cancelled and delayed flights we lost the Priority Boarding and extended leg room for tall hubby that we had paid extra to have, and resulted in late boarding and often very poor seating in both directions.  We were able to get a refund for the additional fees after arriving home.  While away, we had a family emergency back home that isn’t my story to tell, but that seems to be resolving hopefully.  The pending hurricane while in Hawaii was also stressful.  Though some parts of islands were badly damaged by flood waters from the heavy rain, though the storm was to the west of us and we were on the west side of the island, it was the east side that got slammed by the rain, we only had lighter rain and high rough surf.

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East side of O’ahu, first half of week, sunrises.

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Steep volcanic mountains behind the house.  These mountains are where Jurrasic movies and Jumanji were filmed.

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Lush Airbnb in Kona Hawaii where we spent second half of week. Luxury, pool, gardens.  Thanks to our family members who arranged this.

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Desolate beauty in the lava fields of Hawaii.

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Heavy surf from the hurricane off the coast.

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And the gorgeous sunset from a second floor open restaurant also from the storm off the coast.

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A new treat, that fortunately we can’t get here, or I would blow up like a balloon in weight.  It is Hawaiian Shave Ice.  A conical shaped cup half filled with shave ice (it doesn’t have a “D” on the end to make it shaved), a scoop of vanilla ice cream, more shave ice, up to three syrup flavors of your choice, molded into the rounded shape, and topped if you desire with various other toppings.  Served with a spoon and a straw.  They were enjoyed several times on Kona.

Back home after the delays and cancellations and more than 25 hours of airport and air flight time just to get home, we are still jet lagged even after two days home.

The garden had reverted to a weedy mess in 10 days and the first day home was spent weed whacking the aisles, hand weeding the beds, removing blister beetles, picking the too big cucumbers for the chickens, grabbing a few tomatoes and a pumpkin out of the garden.  Day two was spent on the riding mower, reducing the very tall lawn to a manageable length after the 10 days away and rainfall while we were gone.

The driveway took a hit from the rain, the blade is going to have to be afixed to the tractor and some grading done.  The two currently unused chicken pens are more than waist high in weedy growth, another weed whacking session is needed or to borrow a couple of goats (not really an option unfortunately.)  Sometimes, I think a couple of goats would be great to have to reduce some of the overgrowth in areas that can’t be mowed.

The Asian Pears and tiny misshapen apples are ripe.  This evening the apples will be pressed into cider and some cider frozen for winter.  Some of the Asian Pears are going to be made into a couple of batches of jam.  I would like to press the rest into pear cider, but lack my own press.

The fog is finally lifting, so some more yardwork is in order.

Love being home on our mountain farm.

Garden Quirks – 8/11/2018

Each year the garden has some thrivers and some fails.  Usually the tomatoes overwhelm, the peppers keep me busy canning and fermenting sauces, but the cucumbers and pumpkins are just so, so.

This year, the tomato plants stayed small and then the blister beetles came and a deer is getting in at night, the electric charger needs a new battery and the wire needs to be restrung.  As a result the tomato harvest is puny.  I have one overstuffed 2 gallon bag of them in the freezer awaiting processing, but it is only going to be one canning of pasta sauce this year which is sad.

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The 4 X 8 foot bed is sparse and has few tomatoes.

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The ones I am getting have to be picked under ripe and ripened in the window, or I find this.

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A half eaten, smashed red tomato a foot or two from the bed in the wide aisle.

The cucumber vines are lush and loaded with blooms, several jars of pickles have already been fermented and hopefully, many more will follow.

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The sole pepper in the lower right corner is supposed to be a serano, the one that didn’t fit in the bed with the others and was planted with three anchos that failed, but the peppers on it look like anchos, not seranos, they are a large tapered  slightly flattened cone.  The jalapeños and seranos in the adjacent bed are beginning to produce.  As the weather cools, hopefully there will be enough to provide sufficient jars of pickled jalapeños for my hot pepper loving husband and son.  The tags on the starts must have been mixed up because at least one of the seranos in that bed is producing a pepper that is either going to be a cayenne or Tabasco, they are too small to tell yet.  I should just start my own seed, but haven’t had much luck doing that in the past.  They sprout and in spite of my grow light, get too tall and leggy.  After getting hardened off and planted in the garden, they usually fail and I end up buying from a Farmers’ Market grower but then sometimes don’t get what I thought I was buying.

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The pumpkin vines are starting to fade and they are covered with juvenile stink bugs so I cut the three pumpkins that were ripe and hope for a couple of pies at the holidays and maybe one stuffed with rice, veggies, and a bit of sausage.  There are still a few about the size of navel oranges out there, we will see if they mature enough to harvest.  The vines are going to get sprayed with Neem oil today to see if that will reduce the stink bug load.

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Planting two of the beans sprouted nicely.  We should still have 6 to 8 weeks before frost date, sometimes more and hopefully will get enough to enjoy and to freeze.

We went down to the Agricultural Fair this morning to watch some of the horse events.  Our former riding instructor was the judge for the events and we reconnected with her and may start taking lessons again after our vacation.  After watching events we went over to see the results of the display judging and to determine if I wanted to enter in any other categories next year.  I won, I won, two blue ribbons for my two entries of hand knitted shawls, one a modified pattern, the other of my design.  I am so excited.

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Next year I will enter that category again with other items and think I may enter some of my preserves and or sauces as well.  I don’t think my produce is sufficient to enter and my flowers are certainly not show quality except for some day lilies that are bloomed out by fair time.  I will display the ribbons on the items until they sell, then just hang them on my stall at craft shows.

 

Away and back – 8/10/18

My visit with my siblings is over.  Instead of the one night I was going to stay, because I finished the deck wood cleanup  on Tuesday, I chose to stay for two nights.  Several of us walked up the mountain to where my Dad’s ashes are scattered and we laid flowers there, had a few quiet reflective moments, shed a few tears and hiked back down.

The group this year was small, my brother and sister in law, their younger son, his wife, and their two sons, my sister and her young adult granddaughter, a family friend, and me.  We played some games, chatted, enjoyed an adult beverage or two (not the two littles but all of the adults), ate, laughed, cried, and had each other to lean on emotionally and harrass as siblings do for a few days.

Home by lunch time today, a quick trip back out to deliver the Friday eggs and to haul the trailer a few towns over to pick up the riding mower, back to our community to  the Ag Fair to take my two knitted items for the judging tonight and the display tomorrow.  Tomorrow, we will go back to the Fair and enjoy some of the fair exhibits, demonstrations, and food.

If it is possible to be both tired and refreshed, I guess that is where I am. Below is Crenshaw, the cottage the family has used the first full week in August since my younger brother was a little dude.  Now we are all senior citizens, the patriarchs are all remembered on the plaques in the header, I am now the oldest of the clan.

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I did some knitting and finished reworking the fingerless mitt pattern and the sample pair.

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My sister is my hand model and I think she wanted to take them home.  Maybe a pair will show up in Kansas.

 

 

It is done . . . 8/7/2018

. . . and so am I.  This week has definitely not gone as planned.  Saturday, I had a wonderful time playing at being a Revolutionary War re-enactor.  I got to sit in the shade of a friend’s canopy in front of his tent and spin and vend some soaps, yarn, and salves.  We had lots of visitors watching me and then Mark as he demonstrated scrimshaw work on cow horns that he makes into period powder horns.  There were many vendors of other goods and demonstrators of various skills.  I came home with a new apron and the shallow crowned straw hat that the ladies of the period wore.  It needs to have ribbon added around the crown and to tie it on so it doesn’t blow away.

Sunday, we had invited our daughter and grandkids over for dinner.  I bought a pork shoulder on Friday, put it in the Instant Pot on slow cook for 10 hours with Carolina style vinegar to make barbecue.  This was done before I left on Saturday morning.  When I got home, it still had an hour or so to go and we left together to go to the street festival in Blacksburg to look around and buy food from a street vendor.  We came home with a signed copy of a book by a local author, Michael Abraham.  We had read most of his other books and this is his newest where he followed the path of the Powhatan  Arrow train that I used to ride from Norfolk to Farmville when I was in college.  I also found some beautiful pottery plates and purchased 3 to replace several of ours that have broken in the last couple of years.

When we got home, I checked the BBQ and it was cooked through but wouldn’t shred, so I left it in the Instant Pot, set it for pressure cook for 40 minutes, and it was perfect.  It was stored away in the refrigerator until time to reheat it for dinner with the family on Sunday.  We ate too much and enjoyed each other’s company until they left for home.  With about an hour and a half of daylight left, I set out on the riding lawn mower we bought new in May to try to get some of the yard mowed.  With the hot dry it wasn’t growing much, but then the rain returned and it grew with a vengeance.  I was about a third done when the mower’s engine cut off and wouldn’t restart.  That require Jim and me to push it uphill from behind the house to the garage.

Monday morning was spent in a series of frustrating calls trying to figure out whether it had to be returned to Lowe’s or taken directly to a repair shop and which one did warranty work for that brand for Lowe’s.  Neither Lowe’s nor the repair shop would pick it up without an exorbitant fee, so we moved our trailer down near the house, pushed the mower up the driveway hill until we were above the trailer, tilted the trailer bed and used gravity to help us get the mower up onto the trailer, then drove it the hour plus to the town with the repair shop, unloaded it with them, and returned home.  Monday was shot.

This morning, knowing that the rest of the week is going to be disrupted, I put on work clothes to try to finish the deck cleanup.

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The wood that was salvageable for chicken coop and barn repair jobs was cleared of nails and brackets to be stored in the barn.  To do this, a long pry bar and a framing hammer were used to remove the sharp metal.  This morning after a couple of hours of clearing nails and brackets, I managed to pinch the tip of my right index finger between the pry bar and an old nail and bracket, breaking the skin and bleeding a lot for a tiny cut.  It had been 7 or 8 years at least since I had had a DTAP shot, so the work was stalled for a while, the cut costing a few hours work, a $38 copay, and a sore arm after I got a load up to the barn, then Jim helped me get two more up.  The Pharmacist warned me that my arm would feel like she beat me tomorrow.  Since we were out for that, a trip to Wilderness Road Regional Museum was made to deliver a tray of my products for them to sell.

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While there, a possible date was set for me to teach the first of maybe several classes.  The first on selecting herbs and wild plants, infusing them, and making salves.  Once home, it was back into work clothes to see if more of the bracket and nail removal could get done today, and with much persistence and many hours of work, all the boards are free of sharp objects, and only two doubled joists that I can barely turn over, much less pick up have been moved to storage in the barn.

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The last long board that I could handle alone ready for it’s trip up the road.  The remaining two are in the grass in the foreground.  They will be moved with help later this week.  After all of the clean up, I used the carefully adjusted brush hog to finish the mowing from Sunday night while we await the diagnosis and hopefully warranty repair on the 10 week old riding mower.

Tomorrow, I am leaving alone to go to Shrine Mont.  My brother and part of his family, my sister and her granddaughter, and a cousin are there.  I see those members of the family too infrequently to not make the 3 hour drive.  I will spend one night there and visit.

On Friday, the Newport Agricultural Fair begins, it is the oldest Ag fair in Virginia.  Between 4 and 8 p.m., I have to get the knitted items that I am submitting for judging delivered.  We will enjoy some of the events on Friday and more on Saturday and pick up my items after judging and display.

I am glad that the deck destruction is done.  Now the reconstruction can begin.  We will be leaving in a little more than a week to go to Hawaii with our youngest and his family and our daughter in law will farm sit for us.

Tonight I am tired with sore muscles, back, finger, and arm.  I am done.

The Calm Between …8/2/2018

the storms that is.  We got over two inches of rain last night and another 1 to 3 predicted for this afternoon and overnight.  Don’t get me wrong, we were approaching drought conditions and need the rain, but it makes our daily health walk, gardening, and deck destruction clean up difficult.  Playing in a rain shower occasionally is fun, working in downpours with distant thunder and sometimes visible cloud to ground lightening is not.

We ventured into town for a few groceries as there is a huge two day street festival in town this Friday and Saturday, thus rendering the Farmers’ Market nearly inaccessible and few vendors even try because of the difficultly in getting their goods in and back out, the festival surrounds the site. While there, we scored 8 cabbage and 8 broccoli starts that were locally started, and the 6th desired blueberry bush, an early producer of large sweet berries, 20% off.

When we got home, the sky looked threatening, but no rain was falling, no thunder heard, no lightening visible, so the plants were hustled over to the garden, the fat Buff Orpington hen that insists on “flying” to the top of the fence, balancing precariously, then dropping into the garden to peck any tomato that is even slightly reddening was ushered back out of the fence.  It frustrates me that she is getting in, there are so few tomatoes this year because of the blister beetles, that I am cherishing each one.  Enjoying a fresh sliced one each day and only freezing the scarce extras for sauce later.

A spade and hand trowel gathered from the garage and a few short minutes work in the wet soil and the Blueberry bed is ready for mulch.

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The 16 young starts were set in two parallel rows, spaced far enough apart to allow growth.

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That bed then covered in a tunnel that was long enough to cover half the spinach and lettuce rows planted a few days ago.  The tunnel will help deter cabbage worms that love to feast on the cole crops.  The cover will also extend the season for the lettuce and spinach hopefully.

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On my way out, it appears that the 3 lonely pie pumpkins are turning orange, probably another attractant for the hen, so some protection will be needed, but we will at least have pumpkin pies for the holidays.

 

Back in the house, there is some distant rumbling of thunder, the rain will soon begin again.  Hope the power stays on until dinner is prepared.  This is the first year of my garden that I have actively sought to extend the growing season into the fall instead of enjoying the spring harvest and quitting.  This is also the first year that the weeds haven’t totally discouraged me by now.  Though there are some in the aisles, the raised box beds have been easier to maintain and the cardboard between the boxes has made the weeds easier to deal with in the aisles.  I just need to obtain the mulch for bedding it down at the end of the season.

Back to rainy day pursuits of spinning and knitting.  I am not happy with the length of the fingerless mitt and will remove the top ribbing and add another cable repeat before the ribbing.

Rainy Day business – 8/1/2018

The rainy season has returned, just in time to soak in the newly planted seed and transplanted berry bushes.  It has put a temporary halt on deconstruction clean up, but I still have a couple of weeks before it all has to be gone.

Rainy days are for knitting, spinning, and reading.  Diligently I have been working on my handspun sweater, hoping to get it ready to submit to the Agriculture Fair, but the body is going so slowly and the neck and front bands will have to be picked up and added, so I don’t think I will make it.  The fiber is a swirl dyed Coopworth from Hearts of the Meadow Farm, the pattern is Peasy.

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In the car and away from the house, I am knitting fingerless mitts of my own design from some delightful fingering weight Kid Mohair, Merino Lamb, and silk blend from Junebug Farm.

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Oh that isn’t a good photo, sorry.

Last night because my hands were tired from knitting, I tackled a 4 ounce braid of Corriedale combed top  from Best Friend Fibers that is white at one end and gradually ends in a rich royal blue.  It was split down the middle and is being spun into another gradient skein, though I don’t know if I will knit it or sell it.  We will see how much is there and if I have an inspiration when it is done.  Half was spun last night, the other half will be done today, then it will be plyed and measured.

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The book of the week, though it is slow going as I generally fall asleep just a few pages in each night is Beartown by Fredrik Backman.  It is a good book, but by the time I pick it up each night, I am exhausted from the day’s activities.

Rest Day/Garden Day – 7/30/18

The garden has been neglected except for harvesting tomatoes and cucumbers of late.  I did get a second planting of bush beans in a couple of weeks ago and they are sprouting nicely.  The garlic needed to be pulled and cured.  It went in so late it isn’t a good crop, but hopefully will provide enough to allow a fall planting so next year we will have a good crop and some to enjoy this winter.  So the now cured onions were trimmed, the odd double ones, ones with still green necks, and ones with soft spots were culled and moved to the kitchen to be used first.

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Then the pulled garlic was laid out on the hardware cloth shelves to cure.  Once cured, they will be trimmed and used this winter except for the ones used to plant for next year’s crop.

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After spending part of last weekend traveling home  from visiting our youngest son and his family, last Sunday on deck destruction with eldest son, part of the week on Historic Camps and destruction clean up, and Saturday on the remaining destruction, I needed a break from pulling brackets and moving heavy lumber.  Part of Sunday was spent in the fruit and vegetable garden.  Tomatoes and cucumbers picked early in the day, a few blister beetles picked and killed, and while out there, the remaining bean stems pulled and tossed to the chickens.  This was a reminder that a couple of beds needed to be worked on and some fall seed planted.  A couple of afternoon hours were spent weeding where the beans had been, pulling and hoeing the few weeds that had come up in the bed where the peas had been and half of that bed was seeded with spinach and a leaf lettuce called Drunken Woman.  I had to get that one just because I liked it’s name.

The bed that had been the tree nursery was turned and rocks removed, a good thick layer of compost and some bone meal turned and raked in and the blueberry bushes moved into it.

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Cardboard was put down beside that bed and the half barrels were moved onto it.  The cardboard will kill the weeds under it, leaf mulch will be laid down on top of it and except for an aisle wide enough to keep chicken heads from pecking berries through the fence, that will be the edge of the garden once we have a frost and the pumpkins are harvested.

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The pumpkins vines were already spreading to that area so I put them back in place after the cardboard was down.

Layered over that piece of cardboard is the other half of that huge box which may get more half barrels.  They are great for growing potatoes and herbs or flowers in the garden.  That sheet is being held down by a couple of bags of mulch that are just serving as weights and will be used in a flower bed around the house once leaf mulch or straw is obtained.

Hopefully, this week cabbage and broccoli starts will be available and they will go in the bed with the lettuce and spinach.  Perhaps a 6th blueberry shrub will be purchased to add to the blueberry bed.  They will hopefully thrive in the enriched deeply dug bed.  Once the last one is in place, a thick layer of straw or leaf mulch will placed around them to keep the weed load down.

That will leave only the 4 X 4′ bed that contained the garlic unplanted, and it will be sown with oats that will serve as a cover crop and the seed head given to the chickens, the oat straw can be used as mulch or coop bedding next spring.

I still need to tackle the raspberry bed now that the berry season is over and the Japanese beetles have moved on.  I still have a large cardboard box, but will need more to try to smother the wild geraniums and the raspberry volunteer shoots that are encroaching on the aisles and vegetable boxes.

This week between the rain, the rest of the salvageable deck wood will be moved to the barn until it is needed for another project.  Eldest son suggested adding a low dry stacked wall off from the existing tall dry stack retaining wall as a means of using some of the tons of rock that were under the old deck.

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The chalk line will mark the new wall, eliminating an area that is very difficult to mow because of the steepness and contour that really don’t show well in the photo.

The new deck will stop at the corner you see with steps coming down to where all the rock is, a path of flat stone will cross where the old deck stood over to the stoop where the old steps came down into the yard.  A small stone patio will eventually be worked into part of that area, the rest the new garden bed.

Once the new wall is build and backfilled with leaf mulch, the mints, lemon balm, thyme, and rosemary will be planted there.  The stones will help keep it warm and they will be allowed to spread and thrive as a perennial herb garden.

Today’s header is a picture we rarely see.  Though the pups are best buddies, the Mastiff owns that spot.  He used to sleep beside our bed on Jim’s side, but decided he liked the Shepherd’s bed or space.  We tried putting both beds there, but he stands over Shadow until she vacates even if he only takes one bed.  They were caught sharing the space, each on their own bed.

What was old is new again – 7/29/18

Our ancestors lacked a local grocer easily accessible by a quick trip to town, they grew their own produce and meat or hunted for meat and had to have ways to preserve it for the winter.  When the garden comes in, it is a busy time.  They also lacked electric refrigerators and gas or electric stoves and heating the stove that provided both heat and cooking surface was undesirable in mid summer.  Canning in jars was done, usually over an open fire outdoors and some foods don’t safely can in boiling water, pressure canners were a product of the future.  Sugar when it was available and salt were found to be great preservers of foods.  Meats were smoked and hung in the smokehouse.  Most homes had either a spring house, root cellar, or basement that stayed cool and dark thus was a good place to store home canned foods.  Fruits were made into jams and butters, or canned in syrups.  Beans were often left to dry and shelled or strung in long strings whole while green to become leather britches and reconstituted when desired, they are a vegetable that does not safely can in boiling water.  Potatoes, yams, carrots, onions, garlic, pumpkins, and whole apples can be put in the cool dark and used as needed without further processing.  Some greens will grow well into the fall or winter, if covered with straw and some, like cabbages will store in the cool dark for a while, but not all winter.

Storing  whole green beans, whole or cut cucumbers in heavily salted water in crocks in the cool storage produced very desirable pickled vegetables that could be enjoyed until the garden produced again the next season.  Cabbage, sliced thin and salted then mashed into a crock did the same thing. Though they didn’t know what the processes was called or why it worked, they knew it did produce safe delicious food.

The process we now know is lacto fermentation.  In the absence of air, anaerobic, the salted vegetables produce lactic acid which ferments the vegetables into pickles or sauerkraut.  Kraut can be seasoned with caraway seed, mixed with shredded beets, or left plain, and nothing is better than Farmers’ Market brats with homemade sauerkraut on a crisp fall day.  The cucumbers can be spiced up with crushed red pepper, black peppercorns, heads of dill, garlic, whole cloves, and ground ginger.  Green beans are best with dill and crushed red pepper.  What is best is this process doesn’t heat up the kitchen.  It can be done a quart jar at a time or in a crock (even a food safe plastic bucket if you use them, I don’t).

Some vegetables can be lacto fermented, but don’t last as long on the shelf, even have to be refrigerated such as the tiny heirloom tomatoes with basil, or eggplant.  They are best done in smaller batches that can be enjoyed within a couple of weeks.

Lacto fermenting is a newer passion with me.  I made sure that there were pickling cucumbers in the garden this year, and they are doing nicely.  It only takes 4 or 5 to make one quart jar and about 10 minutes prep time, no heat, no mess.

Though the fall garden will have a few cabbages for cold storage, the Farmers Market already has some, so a small, about 2 pound one was shredded and salted this morning to produce a quart of saukerkraut.

The cucumbers only take 2 to 5 days to be ready to enjoy dill slices or quarters, the dilly beans and kraut take about two weeks to fully finish their ferment.  The longer you leave them at room temperature, the stronger the flavor.

We do have an unheated section of our basement that is good for water bath or pressure canned goods, onions, garlic, pumpkins, and the like, it is a bit too warm to stop the fermentation, so those vegetables are stored in the extra refrigerator in the basement along with the vinegar brine pickled jalapenos.  If the power fails, they are still safe in the cool dark space, just like when the pioneers in this region and their ancestors did in their spring houses and root cellars.

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A Week on the Farm – 7/27/18

Summer is going so quickly and the weather has been so strange this year.  A foot of snow in mid April after spring like temperatures in February.  Rain and more rain in early summer, making putting in a garden a challenge, then hot and arid.  Then the rain returned, along with insect pests in the garden, first Japanese beetles eating the leaves off of the Raspberry bushes, then they were joined by bean beetles and together, they decimated what remained of the first bean crop.  Then the blister beetles arrived and defoliated some of the tomatoes.  I hand picked them, dropping them in soapy water then sprinkled diatomaceous earth on the ground around the plants to try to kill off any that escaped to earth during the hand picking. The plants are alive, not putting out new growth, but fruit is ripening.

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The tomatoes are being frozen whole but there are so many in the freezer now that I will pull them out, slip the skins off, and begin canning them this week when the rain resumes.  The cucumbers that I planted this year for pickles are small and greenish white, interesting mild smooth flavor raw.  Most of them are being lacto fermented into sour dills thick slices.  Maybe a jar or two of spears too.

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The silicone nipple lids and glass jar weights make the fermenting so easy.

There were two partial days off the farm this week in Colonial costume working with children, demonstrating the fiber arts and teaching drop spindling.  Working with kids like this rejuvenates me.

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Today, since it stayed dry yesterday and since tomorrow we will resume deck destruction, to take down the rest of the framework, I tackled cleanup.  One task that I had promised eldest son that I would get done, was to move the scaffolding that we were not using for the deck back into storage.  When we built the house, instead of renting scaffolding, we purchased it, knowing that it would be used repeatedly with staining the logs and other jobs.  On occasion we have loaned some of it out to friend.  Most of it was stacked against the house at various points and had been there for a year.  It is now back in the back of the huge garage until needed again.

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More the rotting deck wood was burned off in the burn barrel while I was working outside.

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There will be another burn tomorrow, I am sure.  To finish the jobs that I said I would get done this week was to stain the logs that were stained during construction then hidden behind the deck.  They got a coat of diluted stain today and will probably get another coat, less diluted tomorrow.  After tomorrow, we get another round of rain, so I will have to hope for a dry couple of days to get a third coat on before the new deck goes up.

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This is the last day lily bloom of the season and for some reason, it is lopsided.  This one is called Sear’s Tower and gets quite tall.

Last night while we sat on the front porch in the cool evening, a tiny ruby throated hummingbird visited the feeder.  That is the first one I have seen that really had the vivid red throat.  This morning, another little hummer decided the feeder was all his/hers, came for a drink and then sat on the crook neck to guard the feeder, not letting any of the others near it.  It guarded for about 10-15 minutes, feeding then guarding, finally flew off.  The photo isn’t great, taken from inside the house through the screen and enlarged, but you get the idea.

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The header photo and the teaching photo were taken at the Wilderness Road Regional Museum camp and used from their site.