Tag Archives: produce

Putting by – July 29, 2017

This is the beginning of the putting by season for the non productive winter to come.  The garden has provided a lot of basil, peppers are maturing, tomatoes too.  Though the peas were a bust this year and potatoes not what I was hoping, the sweet potato vines look healthy, the corn is forming ears, and we are getting enough green beans to eat a few times a week and a bit in the freezer.


Dairy free pesto for the freezer, pickled and canned jalapeños for the pantry, fire cider for cold season, oregano and basil vinegars, and shelling of field peas for ground cover and chicken treats.  That was one afternoon of work, along with bunches of basil and hyssops drying for teas and cooking.


Today was our weekly Farmer’s Market visit and breakfast out.  We missed both last week with our music weekend, and next weekend will be the huge street festival that happens in town, so many vendors will not even try to attend the market on Saturday.  With this being the height of the season and with several of the meat vendors having recently gotten cuts back from the abattoirs, we stocked up on some meats.  Peaches are in season as well as cucumbers and we came home with several pounds of peaches and a couple of pounds of pickling cucumbers.  Once home, another putting by session was held.


Eight half pints of the Peach Sriracha sauce that is a hit here, and 4 pints of classic dill spears were prepped and canned.  The pot used today for water bath canning only holds 7 half pints or 4 pints at a time, so one jar of Peach Sriracha sauce went into the refrigerator for use now.

Though she isn’t a sponsor and I get nothing for this recommendation, if you are a new canner, have limited space for storing, or a small family to prepare for, Marissa McClellan’s books, Food in Jars, and Canning by the Pint are priceless.  The Peach Sriracha recipe is one of her jams that I blend and prepare thinner for a sauce and came from one of her books. She has a newer book on canning with sweeteners other than white sugar that I haven’t tried as I make few sweet canned items.

Right on the 20th week since hatching, one of the pullets presented us with an egg.  It is a Welsummer egg, reddish brown but not as dark as I had hoped they would be.  All 4 of the Welsummers have bright red combs and wattles, so we should start seeing eggs from all of them soon.  The Buff Orpingtons will probably not lay for another month.


Pullet eggs are so cute compared to the mature hen’s eggs.

Earlier this spring, I bought a pound of raw fawn colored alpaca locks from one of the local vendors.  This week, I spun a bobbin of it and a bobbin of some chocolate brown alpaca roving that had been given to me a year or so ago, and plied them into more than 200 yards of light fingering weight pure alpaca yarn, pictured in the header.  I think it will be knit into a hat and fingerless mitts for the shop, but maybe it will just be sold or traded, especially as more is currently being spun.

Oh Garden, Dear Garden

Never, have I felt so overwhelmed by the garden.  The tomatoes are thriving, but have the sprawl.  My cord tie up method did not keep up and they are hanging over each other and encroaching on the peppers.  The weeds seem to get 2 feet tall overnight.  The pumpkin patch never did get totally weeded and there is only 1 puny little pumpkin plant.  The blueberries don’t seem to like where they are.  At several years old, they should be full and 3 or 4 feet high, but they are sparce and look like I just planted them. Perhaps, they should be moved in the fall to a different location, if I can figure out where that should be.

The first crop of peas is done, the vines browned, pulled and tossed in the chicken pen. The cabbages are ready to harvest, I cut one today, pulled the garlic, a few onions, and a few beets.  Something must have gotten my beans again, there are very few plants but I think it is still early enough to replant them.


Two varieties that I want to keep separate this year for replanting in the fall.  It looks like a good healthy crop.  I hope that they keep well.


My beets are a surprise.  Though they look like red beets, when you cut into them, they are white with red streaks.  The flavor is great.  I will store a couple of the cabbages, make kraut out of one or two, and send a couple home with T and his family this weekend.  The second planting of peas are filling out nicely.  I could probably pick enough for one dinner today, but we had edible pod peas last night, so I will wait.

The chickens are all free ranging right now.  It was time to introduce the layers to the babies and let the Mom’s take care of them.  SH is still sitting her nest and BMW has left her alone for the past couple of days.  She took on her own nest, sat on it for one day and one night and abandoned it.  Eggs are scarce with 4 hens not laying right now.  Hopefully it won’t be too long until 3 of them are back in production.  SH still has 10-11 days to hatch and 6 weeks of being a Momma before she will start back to laying.  It is about time to move the oldest chicks into the coop with their Momma to give them a few more weeks to get some size before a decision is made on who stays to grow up here and who goes into the cull coop to be raised for the freezer.  The cull run is so overgrown that if a chicken is in there, I can’t even see them.  I guess I will have to cut a path with the line trimmer before I move anyone.


Lessons Learned

This is the first time I have allowed hens to raise chicks and since we had the predator enter the chicken tractor, it seemed prudent to allow the hens to remain in the coop in a nesting box until the chicks started hatching and the chicken tractor was made more secure.  That said, the 3 hens began hatching the day I was repairing the chicken tractor, so I put a crate in front of the hen that was hatching to protect her from the other hens and the overly aggressive Americauna cockrell.  At the end of the morning, once the tractor was repaired, I moved her and her remaining eggs.  She quickly lost interest in the eggs and moved the chicks out of the nesting box until nightfall.  As a result, her remaining two eggs did not hatch out.  I didn’t break them to see if they were viable, just tossed them in the compost bin.  Knowing that the other hens were a day or two behind, I left the crate and a board nearby, so that I could secure those hens as well.  One of them hatched one chick and abandoned the remaining eggs even without being moved.  I waited a day to see what would happen, putting her back on the nest that evening and tucking her little under her.  Two more hatched and the third hen tried to take them over.  I moved the hen and her littles to the tractor, placed the eggs under hen 3.  She hatched out only one and though I waited a day and a half, no more hatched and the other adults were trying to get to her.  I feared for the chick and moved her with her nest to the chicken tractor.  She immediately abandoned the nest and mingled with the other two hens and their chicks.  All of the eggs were kicked out of the nest around the inside of the tractor, one of them nearly broken in half and the chick struggling to survive, another is pipping, but Momma hen is paying no attention to either of them.  I fear that none of the remaining eggs will produce chicks.

A bit of research shows me that I should not interrupt a hatching hen during the process.  Next time one goes broody, I will move her as soon as she starts to sit and leave her alone until all of her chicks hatch.  Having her in the chicken tractor will allow me to keep separate food and water for her.  Instead of 22 chicks, we have 11 new chicks.  With the two survivors that are now about 4 weeks old, we have far fewer than the experiment was hoping to produce. Perhaps another hen will go broody with enough time for them to develop a sufficient size by late fall, perhaps I will yet have to purchase day old Rainbow Rangers to make up the difference.

Over the weekend, we did harvest the garlic, onions, turnips, and Daikon radishes.


They are curing in the garage due to the daily afternoon thunderstorms.

This afternoon, I weeded the new upper half of the garden where the three sisters are planted.  The Amaranth weed pops up overnight and get a foot tall in less than a week.  That took me most of the afternoon.  Tomorrow morning, I am going to continue moving down the beds and also get the tomatoes tied up.  We have peas filling out, tiny tomatoes and peppers forming, a few tiny summer squash.  Bush and pole beans growing.  The three sisters didn’t do as well as I had hoped.  Each cluster of corn has at least one bean plant, not the three per hill that were planted.  The winter squash seed was left over from last season’s purchase and produced only 3 or 4 plants.  That may actually be good, as last year we were overwhelmed by winter squash, still have a few in the root cellar.

Lessons are learned each season and with each experiment on our homestead.

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.


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.

IMG_0296[1] IMG_0297[1]


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.


Olio, October 6, 2014

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things.

The garden survived a 31ºf night and a 37ºf night through the aid of some row cover over the peppers and tomatillos.  The beans that haven’t been eaten by the deer that have breeched the electric fence also survived.  The pumpkins/winter squash patch is finally beginning to die back and there are dozens of the Burgess Buttercup squash beginning to show through.  So far I don’t see a single Seminole Pumpkin which is disappointing.  Today I waded through the thigh high patch, pulled back the squash vines and tried to dig the sweet potatoes.


I’m sure there are more there, but the vines will have to die back more before I try again.  Now that they are harvested, they require a few days of curing at 80ºf.  I don’t know how that will happen with the daytime temperatures at least 15 degrees lower than that and we haven’t turned the heat on in the house so it is 20 degrees cooler.  I put them out on a rack in the sun this morning, but then the rains started, so they are in the utility room until we see sunshine again.

In July when visited our daughter’s family in Florida, our granddaughter came out in the cutest sun dress.


She and her mom love it because she can dress herself in it and it has no fasteners.  Over confident Mountaingmom announced, “That would be so easy to make.”  The bodice was traced on printer paper, the tiers measured approximately and brought home to the farm.  Later two packets of fat quarters were purchased and I stalled.  Before the Spinning retreat, I decided to begin them.  First off, I failed to cut the front on a fold, I do know better.  Second error was attempting to use three strands of narrow elastic to gather the back, I ended up buying wide underwear elastic later.  Third error was in the measurements I had made of the ruffles which I realized before cutting.  Daughter remeasured everything for me and a few days ago, I got serious about finishing the first dress.


Yesterday after finishing it, I decided that dress #2 was going to be made with a pattern and I purchased a simple A-line toddler dress pattern from McCall.  As I still wanted to use the fat quarter that I bought for the second dress, The solution was to cut wide strips, sew them end to end, then side to side to create a large striped panel that was used to cut the pattern.  I had some unbleached muslin that I used as facing as the pattern called for binding the edges with bias tape and I didn’t want to do that. Dress #2 was much easier to assemble.


As granddaughter lives in Florida, she will be able to wear them all year with a long sleeve T-shirt under them, so 3 T’s were bought to add to the package.  Also in the package is a giraffe.  Yes, a giraffe.  Two Christmases ago, we bought her a little barn that has various activity parts to it and a collection of farm animals to put inside.  Their dog got a couple of the animals and chewed them up, some of which were replaced, she selected a moose for her farm.  Near their home is a farm that has a giraffe.  We don’t know why or how they obtained it, but it is a source of amusement as we drive by, so her barn will now also have a giraffe.

The Hot Mess yarn that I spun at the retreat, was soaked and hung with a weight on it.  The treatment helped relax the over twist some, so now I have a 106 yard skein of smooth, but tight yarn.


I have no idea what to do with it.  It is too little for anything other than trim on something.  There isn’t even enough to make a market bag.

The yarn on the bobbin is the random color Merino that I purchased at the retreat.  The color isn’t showing up very well with no sun out and only house lighting to photograph it in, but it is basically lilac color with gold and maroon highlight.  I haven’t finished plying it yet to measure, but it looks like it will be a couple hundred yards of fingering weight yarn.


Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.


Olio – July 13, 2014

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things


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


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.


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.


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.