Tag Archives: harvest

The Absent Blogger – 8/10/2017

One day seems like the next.  A pleasant August of temperatures not typical of the month, most days reaching only about 80ºf, nights that warrant at least a sheet for cover.  Each day is a series of doctor’s appointments to try to diagnose hubby’s symptoms and the accompanying stress of not knowing, harvesting from the garden that daughter and grands helped me get totally weeded last weekend, canning the harvest, and refereeing the constant squabbles of the grands who have another 18 days before school begins and are tired of each other’s company and the play options available to them.  Most days ending in thunderstorms, though not filling the creeks, it is keeping the garden watered and the dust down.  The seeds planted in empty beds after our weeding session are sprouting to provide us with turnips, radishes, spinach, carrots, and peas for the fall.  The sweet potato vines are thick, kale, chard, and corn thriving, a few small pumpkins appearing amidst the corn. Several of the pullets are laying tiny eggs now, the hens have all but quit laying.  The Monarchs found the parsley and are chowing down, but the butterflies are welcome. The hay was finally moved off of our fields.  The shelves of salsas, pickles, and sauces are filling.  As the tomatoes begin ripening more quickly, pasta sauce and more salsa will be made.  The Asian pears are ripening and pear sauce or pear apple sauce will be made.

Such is a day in the life of the absent blogger.

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A Week On and Off the Farm

We have had wonderful weather for the past week.  The sky has been mostly clear, the temperatures mild and seasonable during the day and cool enough for a quilt under the open window at night.  The garden, except for the peppers is winding down.  Friday afternoon, the grandkids helped me dig the sweet potatoes.   We picked a basket of 3 pounds of tomatillos, and another of peppers.

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The peppers are drying or pickling, depending on the type.  The tomatillos have been washed, husked, and frozen.

I planted two varieties of sweet potatoes,  purple and  orange.  The bed wasn’t the most ideal spot, it was too rocky, and the yield was amusing.

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The largest and the smallest.  The 1 pound box of spaghetti is for size reference.  I think that one will feed us all for a meal.  They are curing and will be moved to the cellar soon. This week is mostly supposed to be pleasant, so I think it is time to cut down and mulch the asparagus, pull the tomato vines, cut down the sunflower stalks, and prepare a bed for planting garlic in a couple more weeks.  I will leave the volunteer tomatillo plants and hope to harvest a few more of them before the first frost.  My facebook memory from last year said we were anticipating three nights of frost in a row.  Our lowest so far has been in the lower 40s.

One of the young cull cockerels must be Houdini.  I keep finding him out in spite of the netting to protect them from the hawk.  He must be flying over the gate and enjoying his days free ranging.  Some nights I find him perched on the egg door of the coop and have to collect him and return him to the safety of the coop for the night.  Some nights he finds his way back in on his own.  He better enjoy his freedom, because he is only a couple short weeks from a permanent vacation in freezer camp.

After the Spinzilla competition, I have only been spinning at the two outdoor events.  The Bridge Day event ended up being a front page article with photographs in our local paper.  The picture doesn’t show how cold and windblown I was.  Today’s Harvest Festival at the historic Smithfield Plantation House was fun.  It wasn’t well advertised, so not too well attended, but the folks that did come enjoyed fresh pressed cider, music; could take a dance lesson; buy a pumpkin or some gourds; watch the blacksmith ply his trade; the weaver working on a small loom, making a belt or strap; and me spinning.

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Though I was the spinning demonstration, I was in the pavilion behind the house and not in the Weaver’s Cottage this time and had the opportunity to not only spin and discuss the fiber art, but I got to vend.  In spite of the poor turnout, I sold some soap, salve, beard products, and a handspun, handknit hat.  I am 4 ounces closer to having enough yarn to make my sweater, still spinning Priscilla the Leicester Longwool.

My next spinning demonstration will again be at the Smithfield House for the Halloween activities on October 28 with pumpkin bowling, a historic hayride, and other activities.

Jim got to take an overnight trip with his HOG group, a handful of bikes and folks rode most of the state of North Carolina to watch motorcycle drag racing.  I am still awaiting his return home and as it has been dark for an hour now, I start to fret over his safety.  They were 3 hours and 40 minutes from home and didn’t leave for home until 3:30, so it is just in the range where he should be getting here.

Garden and Crafting

A few short days at home between the visit to Shrine Mont and leaving for a week of being Grandmom in charge for eldest grandson have been busy.  The first night back, when I went to lock up the chickens, my reluctant pullet managed to fly over the fence into the garden.  The lower un-planted part of the garden was literally chin high to my 5’8″ frame.  The lawnmower was fueled and with much effort, about half of that area was mowed down in an effort to remove the cover for the chick.  As it got too dark to see what I was doing, a decision was made to leave her to her fate, hoping that she would just find safe cover in the remaining weeds or up in the tomato jungle.  She did survive the night and greeted me the next morning outside the gate.  The mower was still in the garden, so in spite of the heat and threatening thunder storms, the rest of that area was mowed and hand weeding commenced on the area around the cucumbers, sweet potatoes, and the dozen or so volunteer tomatillo plants.  By the time I finished, my stamina was gone and I quit, tossing half a dozen overgrown, yellow cucumbers to the chickens.  No harvest had been done in our absence.

Today, with the temperatures only a few degrees lower, a determined effort was made to weed the upper garden, thin the tomatoes and sunflowers, and harvest as many tomatoes as I could.  A 4 gallon feed bucket was filled with mostly plum tomatoes, a dozen heirloom slicers, and peppers.

Haul

After a long cold shower to refresh and renew me, I tackled the haul.  There were 19 pounds of tomatoes, which I divided into 2 one gallon bags of diced tomatoes each almost 5 lbs.; 2 one gallon bags of whole paste tomatoes, several slicers to take with me tomorrow; 3 pints of jalapenos pickled, a pint of mixed hot peppers in salted vinegar that will be made into hot sauce once a quart has been gathered.  Another pint or so of jalapeños were too large to pickle whole, so they will be diced and frozen.  Another couple of dozen tomatoes were split and rotting and were tossed to the chickens.

I will be away from home for another 10 days, so I’m sure with the persistent heat and daily rain, a repeat of the past few days will be in order once I return.  Hopefully it will be a bit cooler by then.

Yesterday, in anticipation of my absence, I dyed a half pound of Shetland roving to spin.

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With these two braids, another that I did of Romney to learn the process, and my monthly installment of the Tailfeather’s Club from Unplanned Peacock, I will have plenty to spin while sitting on the porch while grandson is in school.  I will arrive home with about 2 to 3 hours to unpack and repack to leave for a few days at a spinning retreat.  I may have to spin all undyed fiber there and dye the yarn later.  I will also be teaching salve making and be a vendor at this event, so I have to be organized before I leave to babysit.

Tonight, Jim will be taken out to dinner and to buy a couple new pair of jeans as an early birthday.  I will not be here to celebrate with him on his actual birthday.

Olio – October 17, 2015

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things.

This week has been busy and atypical.  Last Sunday, I drove Son #1 and Grandson #1 back to Northern Virginia from a weekend visit with us.  The plan had been to work on the staining of the south and west walls of the house, but again, it rained.  This gave them some much needed down time.  Son #1 and I did succeed in getting the leg leveling hardware on the extension ladder.  I had twice decided to do it myself and the first time I was too foggy headed with a cold and the second time, realized that because the rungs of the ladder extended through the fiberglass uprails, that it wasn’t as straight forward as hoped and I didn’t want to ruin the ladder.  It turned out that we had to go to Lowes and buy more aluminum metal strap to make spacers as the package did not come with enough to do the job.

They took a hike in the drizzle and fog at the top of the mountain and took Grandson that lives with us too.  They came back wet, tired and just in time for a dinner of Empanadas and Yellow Rice that always pleases everyone.  I used some of the last of the tomatoes and peppers to make a homemade Pico de Gallo with black beans and Daughter made a roasted Tomatillo salsa that was very tasty as toppers.

Son #1 and Grandson#1 took a mountain bike ride on the neighbor’s hill and up the gravel road off of which we live.  Sunday, before we left, Son #1 and I took down a dead tree and he started cutting it into firewood lengths.  I hauled loads up in the back of my car and in the tractor bucket and now I need to split  and stack it.  He will finish cutting it up when he comes again, maybe over Thanksgiving weekend.

Monday was spent being Grandmom in charge in Northern Virginia as Grandson #1 had a Columbus Day vacation from school.  We took the Metro into D.C. and spent some time in the Q-rius lab in the Natural History Museum.  That is quite a set up and Grandson #1 loves it.  We also walked through the history of the earth, erosion, meteor impact and minerals areas which he also enjoys.

Tuesday was travel back home with several calls from Mountaingdad that the roofers had showed up to realign and refasten the gutters, fix the leaking vent stack and attach snow guards to the front and back roofs.  This brought to our attention another less than stellar installation by our original contractor in that the metal roofing was not fastened down with enough screws and some of the screws were not even secured into anything when they tried to tighten them down.  We now have a second contract with this roofer to come back and make our decade old metal roof more secure.  We do now have snow guards to try to help prevent the snow from sliding off and taking out the gutters and making snow drifts across the front of the house and piling up on the south deck.

By Wednesday, they were beginning to threaten us with our first freeze due tonight, tomorrow, and Monday, so final harvest was undertaken.  The 5 gallon bucket of peppers that I brought in are all in the process of being preserved.  Three more pints of Jalapenos were pickled.  A quart of hot pepper sauce (mostly Tabascos, but a few Habeneros added in) was made and canned in 8 ounce jars. The smaller green bells sliced or diced and frozen for winter use, the larger ones will be stuffed with rice and ground meat and eaten for dinner this weekend.  The first two pans of Anchos are in a very low oven drying now and the house is filling with the spicy aroma they are emitting.

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There is a string of ripe Anchos hanging in the breezeway south windows and at least two more pans full to oven dry.

The potted herbs and houseplants cleaned, pruned and tucked in corners and window sills to try to get at least a few more weeks of fresh herbs from them.

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The garden was turned over to the laying hen flock and they are quickly cleaning it up.  They have revealed many more pumpkins that I will harvest before tonight’s frost.  If you look in the picture above, you will see our grass mowing neighbor, on the other side of the garden and chicken pens, she pays us daily visits.  I don’t generally mind her visiting, but yesterday, she came right up to the house and left two large gifts that cows tend to leave.  The dogs went straight to one and the German Shepherd did what dogs will do and rubbed her face and side in it.  That prompted an afternoon bath as it was too cool outside to hose her down with cold water.  While she was wet and wrapped in towels, we pinned her down and cut her nails.  She really gets frantic when you do her nails and it requires three of us to do her.  I ended up getting bitten before I got her head pinned down with a towel and my forearm.  The other two dogs and Daughter’s two cats also got theirs done while we were at it.  It is nice to not hear the click, click of them walking on the hardwood.

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The front porch got a fall touch, the fall Welcome garden flag and the large Halloween flag hung.

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Girlie Cat (the name she came with), our barn kitty enjoying the warm sun on the front porch.

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Much of our fall color is already gone at our elevation, the trees already getting bare of leaves.  It won’t be much longer before the only color at all is the green of the evergreens, cedars and pines scattered about.

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Though there was some scattered frost lower on the mountain this morning, we ventured to the Farmers’ Market, got what will probably be my last bouquet from Stonecrop Farms for this season and supplied with some beef and pork, greens, beets, carrots, potatoes and green beans to enjoy this week.  We will continue to be able to get some meat and produce at the market for at least a few more weeks before many of the vendors pack it in for the year until next spring.

We love our life on the farm at all seasons.  It is moving into a slower, hunker down and stay warm period of more reading, knitting and spinning and no garden work.  I do still have to clear a bed and plant the garlic next week after our three nights of freezing temperatures and it moderates again for a while.

Light at the end…

We have had rain for 14 of the past 16 days.  There is one more day of predicted  rain, then the light at the end of the tunnel as the saying goes.  We are saturated.  The unpaved roads are rutted, all of the roads covered with debris from the rain and wind.  The leaves are being ripped from the trees and coating the roads along with small branches.

So far, we have been lucky.  The heavy rains expected the past couple of days have been lighter than predicted, so additional flooding has been kept to a minimum and we have, at least so far, kept our power.

This weekend, we have been in charge of the two grands that live with us as their folks went to Kentucky to a friend’s wedding.  We had great plans to take them to the pumpkins patch, but that was foiled by the weather.  Their soccer games were cancelled.  They have been well behaved, with only a bit of sibling fussing.  They have eaten well with no complaining about what I have prepared.  For that we are grateful.

It has been a good weekend to stay in and read and knit.  We did venture out in the rain to the Farmers’ Market yesterday morning, taking the kids out for bagels first.  We didn’t all get out at the market, I just jumped out and picked up the veggies, meat and flowers for the week.

It will be nice to see the sun on Tuesday.  Maybe a harvest of tomatoes and peppers can be done and some tomatoes canned, some peppers pickled or frozen.  While the soil is wet, maybe the weeds will be easier to pull to start preparing the garlic bed for fall and to find the blueberry bushes that have been engulfed.  There is still about half a big round bale of spoiled hay that can be used to mulch around them.  I have been saving newspaper to layer around the bushes once I get the weeds pulled.  Once the sun comes out, there are dry beans to pull and lay out or hang in the garage to further dry from the days of rain, the corn stalks to cut and shock as a fall decoration, some pumpkins to harvest, and sunflower heads to cut and dry.  Some of the decorative pots of flowers from summer are spent and will be replaced with mums for a bit of fall color.

The chooks, both Buffys and meaties were grateful to be let out into their runs today.  Though it is still drizzling, they have alternately foraged and hidden from the rain.  In a few more days, I will slip into the Buffys’ coop after dark and move the culls to the Cull Palace with the meaties for the next 5 weeks, and to let the keeper flock get to used to having a more reasonable number in their coop.  They will overwinter as our laying flock.  I think that the the littles are big enough to tell which are pullets.  I know that there are at least two cockerels in the coop and I only want one rooster in my flock, so the other one and a few older hens will be removed.  Only one of the spring Americaunas is laying.  It amazes me how old they are before they lay and also how easily they can escape from the run.  The Buffys are too heavy bodied to get out, but the Americaunas, even the one who lost her tail feathers to the dogs, can easily clear the 4 foot fence.

We still have 4 to 5 weeks before our first expected frost, but autumn is advancing, trees coloring more each day.  The mountains are beautiful this time of year, but I’m not ready for the cold weather and bare trees.  I guess we should start looking for some wood soon.

The Velociraptors are Loose

The fall crud nearly KO’d me this week.  Very little was accomplished other than the basic maintenance of life, a few dinners prepared, and the grands shuttled to their respective bus stops and preschools.  By yesterday, I felt a bit better and it was time to get things done.  Laundry was stacked high and we were both out of essentials, so that was a priority.  Saturday is Farmers’ Market day to get pasture raised meat and organic vegetables that are local and not suspect, nor traveled from far away states or countries.  Grandson had his first soccer game of the season and of course, we had to be there to watch that.  He is one of the youngest and smallest on the 8 to 10 year old league, but clearly wanted to be part of the action.  But the biggest task of the day was to obtain the fencing needed to give the Meaties a run so they didn’t spend their entire life in a brooder or coop.

As the chicken pen was originally divided into two long narrow runs and had two side by side gates, it seemed that returning it to its original or similar configuration was the most expedient.  When the fencing was removed to fence in the garden in hopes of keeping the chickens out and allowing them more free pasture time, the posts were left in place.  Unfortunately, the dogs had other ideas about this plan and the Buffys were again penned up with only some pasture time each day, when the dogs are secured indoors.  Mountaingdad and I went out and measured to see how much additional fencing was required and it appeared that we needed something less than 100 feet.  After market and soccer, we ventured down to the local Tractor Supply to get what was needed.  I really prefer the welded wire fencing, but can’t handle the 100 foot long rolls by myself while trying to fasten it to the posts.  As it didn’t come in 50 foot rolls, I elected to take a much less substantial vinyl coated wire garden fence to divide the run.  This meant moving some of the welded wire that was already in place, unbending the wire T post fasteners, hauling the fencing to different positions and reattaching it with new fasteners, taking back the 6 to 8 foot wide swath of garden that was only partially used for summer squash and pole beans.   The 100 feet of garden fence then set down the middle of the now enlarged area.  The day was hotter than it was predicted, I didn’t drink enough water and by late afternoon, I was whipped, the pen was not secure enough for the layers who had been on a grasshopper chase all afternoon in the yard and pastures.

It was time to fix dinner and daughter was going to do that but we realized that the propane tank on the grill had never been refilled, so Mountaingdad was sent off to take care of that and daughter came out to help me at least get the Buffys run secure so they could be lured back inside and the dogs let out.

There would be no more fence work last night, I was totally done in.  Dinner was delicious, Mountaingdad took grandson out for ice cream and I went into veg mode, knitting, reading and watching the Steven Hawking movie on television.

This morning refreshed from many quarts of water, and a good night’s sleep, I finished securing the last few pieces of fencing so that baby velociraptors (as daughter calls them) can finally see what the great outdoors is like.  Last week, they were moved from the brooder to the Cull Palace and penned in.  It is a huge space, but dark.  Tomorrow they will be 5 weeks old, so almost half of their life span has been spent in the garage and in the dark coop.  They could see the outdoors through the chicken wire and hardware cloth door and vent panels, but couldn’t be outdoors.

When I opened their coop door this morning, the curious moved to the opening.  Only a couple ventured over the sill.

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I’m sure as the day goes on, they will begin to explore the 80 X 8 foot run that they now have access to explore and I am hoping that they have gotten large enough to not squeeze through the 2 X 4″ holes in the fencing.

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The Buffys are having a great time reexploring the extended portion of their run that is full of pigweed and leftover squash that got hidden in the leaves and grew too large to harvest.  They will attract bugs, split and the seeds will be a treat.

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My remaining task is to cut back the peach tree that died in the middle of their run, leaving them stumps to perch on and to close up a few spaces that persistent birds may be able to squeeze through to facilitate escape.

An afternoon harvest brought in the winters popcorn, more dried beans, a large basket of tomatoes to be processed and a couple pints of jalapenos for pickling.  The Ancho peppers are beginning to turn red and will soon be dried for sauces and soups.  The first Burgess Buttercup was brought in, but walking through the Three Sister’s Garden revealed a hefty crop of them that will be brought in before the first frost is expected. It wasn’t the best garden this year, but I am thankful for the wonder it has given up and will be enjoyed this fall and winter.  Soon it will be time to plant the garlic for next year.

My harvest efforts earned me a sting, I think by a caterpillar.  The sting was unlike wasp and bee stings that quickly swell to enormous size on me.  This has produced a large area of tingling skin and lightheadedness that brought me in before all the beans were collected.  They will keep for another day.

Good Harvest

This morning, I returned the gazebo that I had borrowed for the festival to its owner. She is a friend, fellow spinner, knitter and fellow gardener.  Last year she gave me a handful of sweet potato sprouts, both white and yellow.  I planted them in deep compost, but planted the winter squash too close and not having grown winter squash before, I didn’t know that they vie to take over the entire garden beginning around August 1 and up until the first frost.  As a result, my harvest of sweet potatoes was dismal.  There were a few fingerling white ones that got roasted with other veggies for dinner a couple of times and just enough yellow ones to make sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving dinner.  When I was visiting with my friend this morning, she said she had already dug her sweet potatoes.  I came home with two large white ones from her garden.

After picking up granddaughter from pre-school and MountainGDad from physical therapy, I decided to dig my own patch of Beauregard sweet potatoes, planted this spring, well away from the winter squash patch.  They grew and spread through out the pepper patch providing good ground cover to keep the weeds down there.  A few days ago, I noticed that something had begun feasting on the vines, striping the leaves back closer and closer to the crowns.  Clusters of sweet potatoes were beginning to emerge above ground, so it was time.  Initially I planted 9 or 10 slips, but the bunnies ate several right away until I covered them long enough to get established.  There were only 6 or 7 remaining crowns.

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What a difference this year.  This is just 4 of the larger ones.

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There are some fingerlings that will be perfect sliced and roasted with potatoes, carrots, onions, turnips, and garlic as a side dish.  Plenty of large one for baking and making casseroles.  In total, those 6 or 7 plants produced a hefty 20 1/2 pounds of potatoes.  Now to get them on the root cellar shelves to cure for some good eating this fall and winter.

Tomorrow, maybe we will make our jaunt to get cabbages for kraut and cool storage.  I just don’t have much luck growing them.

Fall Generosity

Saturday mornings are Farmers’ Market mornings and we drifted in to see what we could score to add to our own garden produce.  Most of my flowers are perennials and they are fading this late in the season as are the sunflowers, so I purchased a bouquet of annuals from our favorite county organic farmers, Stonecrop Farm.  Their flowers and produce are always superior.  Beets and cucumbers were also acquired from their weekend offerings.

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Some lamb chops, beef, eggplant, salad mix and corn were added at other stalls to provide us with fresh local food goodness this week.  We got home with it after a stop for dog food in time to put it away and venture back out just a bit later to meet my 92 year old Dad and Stepmom for lunch.  They drove up yesterday to attend the wedding of one of my cousins this afternoon.  It was great to see him, his health improved from a couple of months ago, when we last saw him for a short 24 hours.

While we were out, we left the hens free ranging as there was no fear of the dogs being accidentally let out.  We came home to find they had breached the low fence around one of my perennial beds, digging in the spoiled straw bedding from the chicklets brooder that I had tossed around them as mulch.

This morning I realized that the Asian pears and apples were beginning to drop from the trees, so it was time to harvest them.  The handmade basket is 22 X 10 X 7″ and the fledgling orchard rewarded us well.

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This is the first year that we have allowed fruit to set on the trees and though the apples were scarce, the Asian pears were generous.  We have harvested another large basket previously, many of which were taken to Northern Virginia with grandson #1 as he loves them.  I will make chutney, ginger pear sauce and perhaps freeze a few.  That will be tomorrow’s task.

While doing a bit of weeding in the vegetable garden, I picked an ear of popcorn to see how it was doing.  Looks like we will be enjoying homegrown popcorn this winter.

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There was another colored egg this afternoon, each day the size is getting more average and bluer in color.  I still don’t know how many of the Americaunas are laying, but as I am getting only one per day, I guess it is only one.  With the summer visitors gone and with daughter’s family not really being egg eaters, I am going to have to get eating or sell a couple of dozen to friends who like the fresh eggs.

When I arrived back from Northern Virginia yesterday, I realized that we are entering Stink Bug battle time.  I collected more than a dozen inside the house, found dozens more outside the screens.  Winter before last, they were horrible, last year not as bad.  It looks like this may be another bad year.  It is unfortunate that they want to come in just as the weather is right to have the windows open to enjoy the beautiful weather.

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What a nasty pest they are.  None of the homemade or commercial traps really seem to reduce their presence.  Any suggestions other than poisons?

 

 

Let the canning begin

What we are lacking in eggs, we are making up for in tomatoes.  There are several bags in the freezer awaiting sauce and I just brought in this bucket full.

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There are many more buckets full that will ripen over the next few weeks.  Tomorrow will be dedicated to a large pot of pasta sauce making and canning.  Salsa will utilize the next bucketful.  The tomatillos are beginning to fill out as well and I will begin making tomatillo sauce and green salsa soon too.

My peppers are not all the varieties that I intended to grow.  There may not be jalapenos to can, but mammoth jalapenos will go into the salsas.

Last weekend was the 75th annual Newport Agricultural Fair and one of the vendors was selling heirloom seed, so I picked up a handful of varieties that I haven’t grown of peppers and tomatoes, plus a few other seed.  And I entered a raffle to win 20 packets of seed.

The last big harvest of cucumbers were made into 5 more pints of dill pickles.

Most of the squash are dying back and a few got so large while we had a houseful of guests last weekend that the chickens got a bonus.  We are still getting a few for sauteed squash and squash casseroles.

The nesting boxes are closed off for the second night, after chasing broody hen off of one of them and taking the eggs inside.  She is again sitting in front of the barrier on the floor of the coop.  I may have to take more diligent methods to break her so she will begin laying again.

It is about time to get some fall seed in the ground if we are to hope for any harvest.  I hope to build a deeper box to put some of the fall greens in with hopes of extending the harvest season by covering it with clear plastic once the first frost is threatened.

Winning

The much expanded garden has had the best of me this summer. I am getting squash, cucumbers, beans, peppers, tomatoes, and some greens, but to get to them involves a hike through the weeds. I just haven’t been able to stay ahead of them since I took out the rotting boxes and returned to wide rows. This move I think was a mistaken one. The second error was not using the bales of spoiled hay to heavily mulch after planting or weeding.  I was on the verge of just giving up for this year, accepting whatever harvest I could wade in and get, but then knowing that the work would be even harder next year if I did, I kicked myself in the tush and set about to remedy the problem at least for this year.

This is the lower half of the garden that still needs weeding again and mulching.
This is the lower half of the garden that still needs weeding again and mulching.
This is the upper half after two mornings and    one evening of work.
This is the upper half after two mornings and one evening of work.

A friend of mine has a beautiful garden with boxes, a flower bed outside the garden fence and wood chips spread over cardboard in the paths and flower bed. Once I finish weeding, planting some fall seed, and breaking up the other bale of hay to mulch the lower half of the bed, I will begin my search for cardboard to mulch a 4-5 foot bed for herbs and flowers outside the garden fence and a path inside the garden fence. Relocate the wood pile and get the area ready for this winter’s wood. As the harvest ends, I will again establish boxes, locate more cardboard and lay in a supply of wood chips to mulch the flower bed and paths. The two terrace walls need to be improved to make the heavily sloped garden into three fairly flat areas.

I realize that I tried to expand too much too fast and one section that was taken back from the chickens will be returned, not to the laying hens, but incorporated into the meat chick pen to give them plenty of space. This will involve moving one of the gates, but that too can be done.  I just need for the pole beans climbing the fence to produce and die back.

If I don’t get the weeding and mulching finished by Thursday afternoon, I hope Son #1 and DIL will help me finish one evening over the weekend or early next week while they are here visiting.

The two garage chicks never really integrated in with the coop chicks.  A few nights ago, one of them came to me when I went out to coop everyone up for the night and it didn’t seem to have any energy.  The next morning, the chick didn’t leave the coop and before I could do anything to help it, it died in my hands.  There didn’t seem to be any evidence of injury and none of the others in the coop seem ill.  I wonder if the chick ate something that it shouldn’t since it didn’t have a Hen Mom to teach it.  On a more positive note, the remaining chick, though it seems to think I am its Mom, is eating with the other chickens in the morning and nests with the Coop Hen Mom at night.  Perhaps it will eventually become part of the flock.