Tag Archives: garden

Olio – October 24, 2014

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

Our internet issues seem to be finally resolved, many months and many mistakes later, we are back with our original cell provider and our original internet/phone provider.  The lines have been repaired, the speed boosted as much as it can be boosted given our physical distance from the nearest booster from our small community cooperative telephone/internet provider.  They also provide cable TV service, but their HD is not HD, so we opt to receive cable elsewhere.  Life was so much simpler with an antenna, a house phone line, no internet and no cell phones; cheaper too.

The sweater was ripped out and restarted using a yoke pattern instead of a raglan pattern, the sleeves have been put on waste yarn and the body is being worked slowly.  This pattern is from one of Ann Budd’s formula books, so it should fit.

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The twisty rib pattern at the top is interesting.  Hopefully it will block into a nice yoke for the sweater that is otherwise very plain.

As the sweater has already gotten too bulky to want to tote around with me when I am the car passenger, I finally started the mitts that are made of Unplanned Peacock Superwash Merino in a colorway named for me as it was dyed especially for me to match a skein I purchased from her several years ago and from which I designed and made Ruby Hat (http://goo.gl/yAfQV) and later Ruby Scarf (http://goo.gl/uzjTFo), both free patterns on Ravelry.  Ruby Hat is my favorite hat and has its own story, but that is for another day.  The mitts are also being made from one of Ann Budd’s formula books to wear with the hat and scarf or just around the house at night when my hands get cold.  They are the perfect portable pocket project for the car.

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I am frequently amused at questions I get from folks that I know have grown up their entire lives in this rural county.  Today, the phone/internet installer saw my chickens wandering about the yard and ask me very innocently if my hens were laying now that the weather is cooling down.  My response was yes, except for the one who was molting.  I could tell from his expression that he didn’t have a clue what I was talking about and he said his egg production from 10 hens was down to only a couple each day.  I asked him how old his hens were and most of them are only about a year and a half old, so experiencing their first molt this season, thus his lack of eggs.  He also wasn’t feeding them any calcium, not even giving them back their own shells.  He left educated by the city girl with a ziplock sack of crushed oyster shell to free feed his hens and a promise that once their feathers were back in that he would start seeing eggs again.  He also was surprised that Son#1 and I could kill and process our culls and meat birds.  He said though he could shoot and dress a deer, he wasn’t sure he could do a chicken.  Our flock is enjoying their daily freedom to dig in the gardens, to look for bugs and tender blades of grass.  When we need them safely away from the dogs or driveway, I just go out like the Pied Piper with my little cup of scratch that I shake and they come running and follow me back to the safety of the electric fence.

The pumpkin vines are dying back more each day and revealing more of the winter squash.  I thought that only the Burgess Buttercup survived and that I didn’t get any Seminole pumpkins, but realize that it is a half and half mix, except the pumpkins for the most part haven’t turned tan.  The ones that I picked and put on the picnic table are beginning to turn.  The wormy ones get split with a hatchet and thrown into the chicken run for them to enjoy.  A side benefit is that the seeds are a natural anti parasitic for the chickens.  The peppers and tomatillos survived the cold nights predicted in the last post.  I am letting the remaining fruits mature until we are threatened again and I will do another harvest.  The last batch was made into another 4 pints of Tomatillo/Habanero sauce, the hottest batch yet.  Maybe I should change it’s name from XXX to Insanity.  I sure can’t eat it, but Son#1 will love it.  The Farmers’ Market last week had many vendors of apples.  I came home with another peck of mixed crisp red apples and realizing that they would not stay crisp until we finished them all, I used about a third to make another batch of Apple Cranberry Chutney (http://wp.me/p3JVVn-Ja), using 1 cup of honey instead of brown sugar this time.  The shelves are full of goodies even after having taken two crates of canned goodness to Northern Virginia on the last two trips to return son and grandson.

Lovin’ life on our mountain farm and continuing to gather knowledge to fight the pipeline.

 

Garden’s Swan Song

We are past our “Frost Date” and have had mild nights except a couple of weeks ago.  The garden survived those two nights with row cover fabric draped over the peppers and tomatillos.  We are expecting two nights in the 30’s tonight and tomorrow night and nothing is going to be done to protect what is left.  If the plants survive, great, we might get a few more tomatillos and peppers, the greens will be fine for a while.  If they freeze, it has been a good year.

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To prepare, a harvest of 5 types of peppers, a basket of tomatillos, a handful of bush beans and two golfball sized turnips were brought in.  The Jalapeños were pickled into two more pints for winter.  The bell peppers sliced and frozen except for a few to stuff tomorrow.  The Anchos have been put in the window sill hoping they will turn red and can then be dried for Enchilada sauce.  The tomatillos and habeneros will be cooked down with onion and garlic for more of Son #1’s favorite XXX sauce.

With the garden waning, the chickens get to visit, eating bugs, weed seed and scratching around leaving chicken fertilizer.  When they aren’t in the garden, they wander around the orchard, the yards and out into the fields, but not too far from the house.

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They are healthy, producing plenty of eggs each day and live a good life.

On Saturdays, we generally go to town, have breakfast at the local diner then shop the Farmers’ Market.  We came home with some beef and pork for the freezer, a peck of eating apples and some carrots and onions.

Between our garden goodness and the Farmers’ Market take, we will eat well.

Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.

 

It Can’t Be Over

Warm weather and garden season that is.  When I arrived home from last week’s wanderings, the woods were beginning to wear jewels.  I had seen a bit of the dark red Poison Ivy climbing the trees and the barest hints of color elsewhere, but by this week’s end there is much more color on the mountainsides.

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The Maple aka, the Tick tree as you can’t walk beneath it without acquiring at least one.
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The photo doesn’t show nearly the color the eye sees.
So I conceded and pulled out the fall banner and mini banner, the fall wreath, tablecloth, napkins and kitchen towels.  With no kids in the house and no Trick or Treaters come this far, I only put a few decorations out, a real pumpkin on the porch, a resin one on the front table, a ceramic ghost and ceramic lighted jack-o-lantern on the bookshelves.

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The table set with a large dried bottle gourd, a smaller gourd I painted at Garden Club years ago and a Burgess Buttercup squash from the garden.
So I have conceded, sort of, but I’m not ready for the early frost/potential hard freeze predicted for our region on Saturday night.  Today and tomorrow, I will harvest Tomatillos and peppers, drape a sheet over the peppers tomorrow eve in hopes that we either miss the frost or only have a short light one.  Sunday I may be able to find all of the Buttercup squash, Seminole Pumpkins and sweet potatoes, but I’m just not ready yet.

This is when I wish I had a portable hoophouse that could be put over the two beds that are still providing, hoping to extend their season by a few weeks.  Maybe next year.

Today as the rain comes in, I will can applesauce and apple slices.  Yesterday I started the cider vinegar. Tomorrow, we will bundle up and go buy meat for the freezer, leaving space for the 15 chickens that will be processed next weekend.

A Touch of Fall

This past weekend was to be a staining weekend.  Son #1 and Grand #1 came in on an early morning bus Saturday, but the day dawned as many have lately, overcast, foggy and high humidity.  As the fog cleared, it was still overcast, so the staining was put on hold yet again and since he was here to work, we tackled the garage door that hasn’t worked properly in a couple of years.  We have had to hold the button constantly to raise or lower the door and the electric sensor was not working at all.  This rendered the remote in the car useless.  We made a trip to the nearest hardware store, in the next town since our local one went out of business and purchased a circuit tester and a few odds and ends.  He was able to isolate where power was no longer reaching the sensor and with a bit of rewiring and door adjustment, it now goes up, comes down gently and reverses when it hits an obstacle or the light beam is broken.  The morning harvest sat on the counter throughout the day.

Yesterday was similar weather, but he managed to get the garage doors caulked with me following as clean up before he and Grand caught a bus for home.  Once back to our farm, I tackled the Saturday harvest and made and canned 10 pints of Tom Tom Salsa, though I left out most of the lemon juice as hubby felt it was too tart for his taste.  Yesterday’s afternoon’s storms brought a significant temperature drop.  This morning dawned quite cool and still cloudy.

Each time I can, I get my exercise hauling empty jars up to the kitchen and full jars back down to the root cellar.  The shelves in there are quite rewarding now as they fill with jars of tomatoes, chili tomatoes, salsa, pasta sauce and XXX hot sauce.  The drying shelves are filling with garlic and Burgess Buttercup Squash.  There are many more of them ripening in the garden and I can’t get to the sweet potatoes anymore until the squash and pumpkin vines start dying off.

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As I was taking Son #1 to the bus, I asked him if there was a good way to reinforce the bottom of one of the pseudo orange crates that I purchased years ago at Michael’s Arts and Crafts so that I could load the full jars to the basement and for bringing canned goods and produce to them when I make my trips to their house.  We started purchasing the crates when he was in college and his library that he hauled from dorm room to dorm room to apartment were shelved in them.  Each semester, adding a few for new texts and other acquired books.  When I moved across the state to our new farm, my handthrown pottery, china, and books were packed in similar crates for the move.  Some of those crates have the bottom slats stapled on at an angle, others straight in.  I have feared having the bottom drop out of one.  He suggested taking a 1/2″ thick board cut to the width of the crate, drilling pilot holes and screwing the boards on the bottom across the slats.

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One of my projects this morning was to reinforce one of those crates, then to prepare and can 11 pints of pasta sauce and a pint of Pickled Jalapeno peppers.  My past two days have produced 21 pints of tomato products.   The garden is still full of tomatoes and peppers, but the jars are getting scarce.  I haven’t been able to locate any on Craigs list this time of year and I don’t really want to buy more in Big Lots or the Grocery.  I will can using the last 5 pints and last 11 quarts then start freezing bags of tomatoes.  The freezer us under utilized this year, other than chickens.  Unless we end up buying apples to pare and freeze, there will be plenty of space for quart or gallon bags of frozen tomatoes.

Today as I was boiling a pot of water for peeling the pounds and pounds of tomatoes, one of the burners on our flat top stove failed.  I had mixed feelings about a flat top stove when we bought our appliances 7 years ago, but for it to match the refrigerator and dishwasher, that was my only choice.  I guess we are going to have to get a repair estimate, but this isn’t good timing with canning going on and with estimated taxes due.

Tom Tom

The garden provided 5 pounds of tomatoes, 2 pounds of tomatillos, a dozen or so various hot peppers this morning. I quick decision that salsa at $5 a pint and large cans of pickled jalapeños at under $2 a can, that the peppers are better used in salsa than just being pickled. Another round of canning commenced.
The tomatoes peeled and diced, the tomatillos diced, onions, hot peppers and garlic chopped. Eight pints of salsa in the making.
Today’s creation is Tom TomSalsa.
Tom Tom Hot Salsa
5 lbs tomatoes peeled and diced
2 lbs tomatillos husks removed, washed and diced
1 large onion chopped (2 cups)
10 cloves garlic minced
12 jalapeño pepper minced
1 habanero pepper minced
1 Tbs oregano
2 Tbs cilantro
1 Tbs pickling salt
1 cup lemon juice
Place all in a heavy nonreactive pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Ladle hot salsa into clean, hot pint jars, seal with new lids, tighten bands and water bath process for 20 minutes.
Yield 8 pints

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The shelves are being filled with garden goodness.
The pullets are laying more each day. We are getting 7 eggs most days from the 10 pullets and 1 hen. Broody Girl went into molt as soon as she quit being broody and hasn’t laid an egg in more than 2 months. I’m not too happy with her right now.
The Rainbow Ranger chicks at not quite 4 weeks old already weigh about 2 pounds each and have seriously outgrown the brooder. They are in a large dog cage with an attached run in the garage and get as much daytime outdoors as weather permits. They foul their cage daily. Can’t wait until they can go out to the chicken ark and run to live out their lives until mid October.

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Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.

No Space Left

This morning’s tomato harvest pushed me over the edge. There was no more counter space to put them. Tonight the deck herbs can return to the deck and I will have plenty of collecting space, but not this morning. Since I was making pasta sauce, I prefer to pressure can, so down came the big canner, out came the instruction book for a refresher, out came the big sauce pot, chopping board, kitchen knives and ice water bath.
Tomatoes were removed from the freezer, peeled under running water and put in a large glass bowl to thaw. Fresh tomatoes were blanched for peeling, chopped and set aside. Onions, garlic, carrots, summer squash all chopped and sauteed til tender. The tomatoes were added to the pot with seasonings and simmered. Just before canning time, a few ounces of tomato paste were added.
The sauce was ladeled into 10 pint jars, just what my canner will hold and amazingly just the amount of sauce made and all processed for safe keeping.

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The next batch will be diced chili tomatoes, the canner being a fixture on the stove top for weeks to come. A batch of plain tomatoes will likely be made, more salsa and pasta sauce until the tomatoes are all used up. We will eat well this winter.

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Ten perfectly sealed pints cooling on the counter.

Rainy Sunday Musings

Again it rains! Everyday for the past 7 days. The grass is literally knee deep and too wet to mow. The decks haven’t dried to be able to paint. When I brought these in last weekend I had no idea they would still be on the kitchen counter.
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These are my kitchen herbs for a quick snip when cooking and I don’t want a trek to the garden. They live on the south deck, just outside the Dining area French doors. Some winter over in the house, but not this early.
And then there were 4. . .
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Last night when I went to lock up the girls for the night, there were 4 eggs. There are two 17 month old hens (1 not currently laying); three 26 week old pullets; eight 24 week old pullets, one whose comb and waddles are still small and pale. It has been 6 weeks since we were getting more than an occasional egg. I have missed them but have enjoyed a few this week with our fresh tomatoes and a few shreds of raw cow milk cheese.
Since it is rainy and wet, instead of mowing, I will process more tomatoes and tomatillos.
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The garden is giving. The rain causing the tops of the tomatoes to split. There are more Habañeros than we will ever need for hot sauce and salsa, I am going to experiment with drying some. A pinch of them dried and crushed will surely add a kick to curry or chili and Son#1 will use them.
But the flowers love the rain and it does make the weeds easier to pull between storms.
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If it doesn’t stop soon, I will need a machete to get to the garden and the coop.
The chicklets are getting huge. They are 2 1/2 weeks now and going through 2 jars of feed and a gallon of water a day. I moved them temporarily this morning to a smaller brooder box long enough to clean the huge water trough that serves as their brooder. It is 15 square feet of floor space and looks too small for the 15 chicklets that seem to double in size weekly.
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The most severe storm we had on Thursday evening damaged some component of our internet service. Our provider iuis a local coop with no weekend hours, so being on the internet or posting right now is an effort in frustration.
We love life on our mountain farm!

Olio August 16, 2014

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things.

On Thursday, I returned our eldest grandson to his home.  He had been with us since July 3 and it was a wonderful 6 weeks.  He enjoyed playing with our dogs, learned to ride his bike, traveled to Florida with us to visit his Aunt and Uncle and cousins for a week, swam, had outings with Granddad to the batting cage and several movies.  He and Granddad played catch in the yard and had batting practice.  A few times, he cooked with me, learning to make his favorite blueberry muffins and getting some math practice with measuring and calculating which measuring cups would give him the quantity he needed.  It was a relief to his Mom and Dad to not have to try to find summer care for him and figure out how to get him to and from that care when they both left very early for their jobs.

Yesterday after playing with his neighborhood friends, showing off to his Mom and Dad his new bike riding skills, having Grandmom take him to his guitar lesson, they all left at 9:30 last night on the Metro to Union Station to catch an 11:30 p.m. Greyhound bus to Virginia Beach, where he and his Mom will spend the next week with her parents.  Our son will return home to Northern Virginia on the train tomorrow so he can be at work on Monday.  His Mom’s summer job has ended and her school begins just before Labor Day.  I returned to their house to spend the night before traveling home this morning.  As I was avoiding the interstate and taking a leisurely cruise down the Skyline Drive this morning, I received a text from son saying that they were stuck in Richmond, VA, only a couple hours from their home and a couple hours from their destination almost 12 hours after leaving on the bus.  Their 4 hour trip lasted 14 hours.  There is something truly wrong with Greyhound’s business model that passengers with tickets can not have a seat on a leg of their trip.  If they hadn’t had to disembark at the transfer station in Richmond, they would have been at their destination in the early hours, not the next afternoon.

After enjoying about an hour and a half of scenic drive, I got back on the interstate, so my 4 hour trip wouldn’t take all day and like Thusday, was again stuck with the semis.

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I followed these two for miles and miles doing less than 60 mph in a 70 mph zone. Behind me was a line of at least a dozen more.

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It is amazing how quickly chicks grow.  These little guys and gals are a week and a half old.  They can almost get out of the brooder which is a huge stock watering tank. I guess I am going to have to put a screen over it soon.  They are all darkening and growing wing and tail feathers.  The one center front is the one I named Chipmunk because of the dark stripes on his back when I uncartoned them from the Hatchery.

Egg production is picking up.  The pullets are getting the hang of the laying bit.  In the past 6 days, we have gotten 7 pullet eggs, so I know that more than one of them is laying.  We also got 5 hen eggs, though Broody Girl is still insisting on empty nest sitting.  This has gone on now for over a month.  Perhaps I should get her some fertile eggs and just let her give it a go.

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The pullet eggs are so small compared to the hen eggs.  At least we are getting some again.

The garden loved last week’s rain, the tomatoes are ripening in the sun, peppers are swelling and I am nearly overrun with Tomatillos.  I haven’t looked under the row covers to see how the transplants are doing, but they will have to be watered today or tomorrow.

My purple thick skinned grapes are ripe.  Perhaps I should attempt some grape jelly.

The weather feels like fall already.  I shouldn’t get too excited, it will probably get hot again soon.

This week, we tackle power washing the decks to re-stain.  I’m trying to figure out how we are going to keep the outdoor cats off while they dry and how we will get the dogs in and out.  I guess they will have to go through the garage, but neither of them are used to doing that, so it may require leading them out on a leash til the decks dry.

Hubby took off early this morning on a ride on his BBH (Big Bad Harley) with the Hog Club from where his bike came.  It is a ride to just get there, over an hour.  They were going to have breakfast then ride into West Virginia.  He texted me that he did go and that he was in West Virginia.  I guess I will see him later this afternoon when he returns.

When I was in Northern Virginia to pick up grandson in early July, I bought some variegated yarn at a local shop.  The yarn is one that isn’t available around here and I knit a Hitchhiker scarf from it.  I decided that I wanted a cardigan sweater of the same yarn and returned yesterday to the shop to try to purchase it.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have enough of it to make a sweater, but I did get a worsted weight solid that coordinates beautifully with it.  As soon as the weather is cool enough to sit with the bulk of a sweater body in my lap while knitting, I will make myself a sweater to go with my scarf.

Though it is only mid afternoon, I am tired from my travels and contemplating a short nap.  Life is an adventure!

Olio July 17, 2014

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

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Rainbow at sunset.

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An overflowing 8 quart bucket of garlic now curing in the root cellar.

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Peppers and sunflowers, newly planted bush beans.

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Pumpkins, winter squash, sweet potatoes taking over half of the compost bins.

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Chard and sunflowers.

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Haircuts for grandson and granddad.

It has been a busy week with bike riding learning sessions for grandson and he can now ride around the bus loop, in and out of grass, stop with the brakes if he is going slow enough, ride up and down an incline, start without help and says, “This is easy!”  Why oh why did he make such a fuss just a few short days ago.

We have had several trips to the library, have done the daily writing and math practice and he is doing his chores with minimal complaint.

On a less positive note, I just got a call from my father and my sis who had Rotator Cuff surgery today, instead of going home has been put in ICU on a ventilator because of breathing problems.  Thoughts and prayers sent on the way to Kansas are welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

Olio – July 13, 2014

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things

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Grandson’s play with the big guy backfired.  He is under there somewhere.

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First pint of pickled jalapenos from the garden.  It will take dozens more to get Jim through the year, especially if Todd wants some too.

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First summer squash and bell pepper.  The little pepper is a cayenne that broke off before ripening.  There are small cucumbers, still lots of greens, the first of the bush beans and the last of the peas.  The garden is full on providing most of what we want in veggies now.  The winter squash and pumpkins are taking over the compost bins, the sweet potato vines are thriving.

Yesterday, grandson was afraid of his bike, by the end of a session he would coast down a short hill.

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Today it was a longer hill and then as I was running beside him holding his seat, I let go and he rode the length of the school parking lot, over and over.  He still needs an assist to get going, but once he is moving, he is off.  I took a video, but can’t figure out how to upload it here.