Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

It's a hatch! Meet Red

I had just about given up on Floppy - the little hen who's been setting for a while now. In fact I was on my way inside to figure out if she was past due when I heard the cutest little sounds in the hen house. Yep! Its a hatch... here is one of the latest arrivals. Meet Red:

Golly -  is he a cutie or what?

I think she has three chicks so far and another 4 eggs under her. So here's hoping for a full hatch!

But the cuteness didn't end there.

The goats were more fussy than usual up on the milkstand and I couldn't figure out why. Until, that is, I noticed Bianca fussing around on her nest.

Bianca, or Pig Pen as we are calling her, is a little white "micro duck" that I snatched out of a buddy's barnyard. We lost the only micro (or dwarf) duckling we'd ever had...and Bianca was so cute.. so she came home with me. If the full sized lady ducks weigh about 4 or 5 pounds, Bianca weighs about 3 pounds at most. The other ducks were giving her a hard time so I let her start a nest in the garage near where I milk the goats. This way I could keep an eye on her. The barncats don't pay her any mind and she is happy there.

So this morning she was fussing all around and...there it was. The reason the goats were hopping all around.. I had to listen close but  I could barely hear little peeping! So I looked and sure enough there was a little face looking out at me from inside her shell.

That full moon we've been having sure does have its way with things.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A lovely basket...and a cool morning

I took these up yesterday and thought the colors were just lovely....

The huge ones are the oxhart tomatoes and all the little green things are tomatillos

And without fail it has to be salsa day....after, of course, I put up the rest of the plums...and the peaches... and then start two cheeses and.. and... and... you see how it goes sometimes? All in good time.

We finally have had some cool mornings. Everyone out in the barnyard is just pippin' and poppin' and flippin' and flyin' around. Vita and Debbie, the full sized goats, are out there chasing each other and butting heads. Not in a mean way - they are just goosin' it up and enjoying the cool weather.

But I'd better get out there -- Debbie is so full her udder looks like its going to pop!

Happy Saturday everyone, hope you are enjoying a cool morning.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Vita, chillaxin'. And cover crops.

So we learned the other day that "chillax" is now a real word and in the Oxford dictionary. Hum. Well, I'm not hip, urban, nor superfly but I do like modern lingo so....

Here is Vita, chillaxin'...
Yo Vita! How's that chillax goin?

And now something entirely different.. cover crops.

The other day Tammy had a few questions on the cover crops I planted this spring over in the comments on this post. So I thought I'd just answer them here as we are getting into the fall planting season.

Q: I keep reading about them, but don't really know exactly what to do with them.
A: Easy peasy! Call up your local extension agent and ask them what would benefit your soil for your area. Or just ask an old timer. Whatever you do don't ask at Home Depot or some place like that. They will look at you like you are out of your mind. Don't ask me how I know this.

Around here the best thing is to plant winter wheat in the fall. It grows even when the temp is barely above freezing, then really comes on in the spring.

There are whole sciences on the "right" cover crop. But really - any legume will add nitrogen to your soil...and just about anything that grows will provide root systems to help the soil. The wheat works really well here. We also planted buckwheat in the spring because it grows well in our bad soil (mostly clay) and its good for the beez.

Q: Did you just turn it under into the soil?
A: Well, we had to whack it down first. We let it grow out so it was pretty tall. But then we just weed whacked it...and I just used clippers to get some of it up...which I then fed it to the goats (small amounts, in the afternoon AFTER they had their own hay so as not to cause bloat.).

Once it was down to the stubble stage I used the tiller to grind it all under. A determined (or cheap, as I was before I bought the new tiller) person can just use a hoe. But there is a lot of swearing involved in using that method. Then I just went and got the darn tiller. Best money every spent.

Q: How far in advance of planting did you have to turn it under?
A: Six weeks is supposed to be optimal. Any earlier than you'll risk not having the nitrogen available for the new plants - or have it sucked out of the soil trying to break down the new organic material. Any later than that you'll be wasting growing time. You can also just let some of your garden go "fallow" - just don't do anything to it and let it grow wild. Its a good strategy for rotational gardening.

Q: And did you have any trouble with it growing back as "weeds" in your veggie garden?
A: No more than any of the other stupid weeds! Dang it was a bad weed year. But really, nope most of it just crunched down in the soil. I was actually really impressed how well it did.

Q: If you have any good links to refer me to that would be great!!
A: Oh golly I love Gene L's work over on http://thecontraryfarmer.wordpress.com/ and also any of his books including "Small Scale Grain Raising." I also really like John Jeavons work in "How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits...." Mother Earth News also has some good articles that you can search on their site.

I guess the big thing is.... don't let it overwhelm you. I was a nervous nelly for the longest time about the whole thing and it was hard to find the "real" cover crops at garden centers etc. And expensive to have shipped to me. So I just marched into our local feed mill and asked if I could have 5 pounds of buckwheat? Sure, they said, and it cost me about $4. For heavens sakes. Much better results than the deer in the headlights look I got from that guy wearing the orange apron, for sure.

Now get out there and get your cover crops going! Happy gardening!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Broody

You can always tell when its a full moon around here - everyone goes absolutely nuts. Couple that with our sudden, extra cool weather, and friend... the nuttiness is off the chart.

First, we have The Good - also known as Who's Cute Today...seriously... how adorable are the little ones?

Neo - Mrs. Beezley's single chick

Miss Duck's Surprise Ducklings enjoying the sunshine

Mrs. Dowlrimple and some of The Bugs

Then we get to The Bad.

The Rooster Crew, formerly part of The Kindergarten

Yesterday was a series of small miseries... each more of a pain than a drama but still altogether very disappointing. First, two of our three turkey hens got up off their nests...so we aren't counting on any more poults. Our third hen has eggs that probably aren't viable... she was a long shot for sure.

The Rooster Crew is responsible for running one of our turkey hens off her nest. They are getting aggressive and will very soon be renamed "Stew." 

We rallied from that blow but when we went out to milk and put everyone up for the night... oh geez... no mistaking that horrible smell. We had a bad egg explode in our hen house. We could smell it from 20 feet away.   We thought our chores would be quick and easy? Nope, smelly and took much longer. It was almost dark when we got the last of the Rooster Crew rounded up for the night.

The bad egg was under one of our ridiculous banty hens... so we get to The Broody.

The Broody

We have two of these silly little hens who have not hatched anything, but my bad attitude, all dang summer. They sits for a while - then get up, then sit on the wrong eggs so the clutch that hen had been sitting on for almost a week would never hatch...then she sits on new eggs...and heaven forbid I move either of them to one of the broody coops.. oh no, won't hear of that at all. For heaven's sakes.

In the meantime the other layers are all in a fit and are hiding their eggs.  So we took drastic measures - we dunked one of them.

Yep. You know that old expression "as mad as a wet hen"? Well, I couldn't figure out what it meant because our hens are always outside flapping around happily in the rain. But here is why the wet hen is mad - dunking her in cool water is one way to stop, or "break", their broodiness. A plunge in cold water is suppose to lower their body temperature which stops the broody cycle. Broody hens have a higher body temperature to make sure the eggs they are setting are warm enough to develop. So the theory is, lower the body temperature and you'll snap her out of her brood cycle.

Is this mean? Not really.  Folks who show chickens bathe their birds all the time. And frankly - once they figure out you aren't trying to drown them, they kinda like it. If you are wondering if its mean to break their brood... well, remember that setting a nest takes a lot out of a hen. Some of them even die while on the nest. And this little gal has been on and off for at least 2 months. So her time is over.

She's out there in a wire cage without anything she can make a nest out of and in the shade so she's nice and cool. Hopefully I can just let her roost with everyone tonight. The old timers say to keep her in a wire cage for 3 days so she won't try and nest again. So we'll see.

So that's The Good, The Bad, and The Broody. And now... back to canning.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tom-A-to, tom-O-to.....

Tomato, tomoto.. cat's paw.... hey! NICHOLAS!!!
One of these things does not belong. Oh yes... I always have help in the kitchen.

Those of you with cats are laughing, those without are not.

Yesterday was a record breaking canning day. But since I've only really just started..well, that's not saying much. But I did get 12 quarts and 5 pints of tomato sauce put up. I also got a cheese started and that requires a lot of futzing around. The most irritating step is "stir continuously for 20 minutes."Sheesh! And none of these cats will help with that.

I need most of today to shovel out the kitchen and get some things done outside but honestly... when the dogs and I did our walk about this morning it looks like there are more maters and peppers coming on. If not today then tomorrow will be a salsa day.

Canning Report:
* 12 quarts and 5 pints of tomato sauce
* 12 quarts of green beans (from the other day)

Farm Notes:
* That whole "summer" thing is definitely over. A few leaves have even fallen off the trees. Sure we'll have some warm days but I've never seen anything like this. An early fall is here. We need to start working on fire wood.
* Our turkey hens are a disaster. Turkey Momma got up and she only had one egg left under her. Stormy is a demon and we cant get near her to evaluate how her nest is doing. And Bramble... who knows.
* Now that the weather had cooled the goaties are back to full milking speed. I ordered more cheese making supplies so we can take advantage of the extra milk. I'm still shocked that most forms of cheese are just rotten milk in various shapes. Hum... if people only knew....The wine fridge as our "cheese cave" seems to be working.
* We'll be looking at a butcher day here pretty soon. The roosters formerly known as The Kindergarten are like a gang of bandits out there terrorizing the countryside. We have a few good hens out of that lot. My favorite is Silver - who is all black (including her comb!) except for a few silvery feathers around her head. She's a keeper.
* Mrs. Dowlrimple and The Bugs continue to amuse.  They hide in the weeds and when you get close enough you can hear them all happily singing and peeping. So cute. 

And now I need to get to it. Happy Tuesday everyone!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I stand corrected

For heaven's sakes. I stand corrected. We will have enough tomatoes. Here I was complaining about how we wouldn't have enough and all the while greater forces were at work.....

I just brought home this trolley full of tomatoes:

Talk about a "net breaking, boat sinking" haul!

Not only did our Good Neighbors give us fixin's for at least 3 suppers... but they sent us home with all these lovelies. And then..... our other neighbors (an older couple who doesn't really mind our guineas running across their yard, we hope) filled us up even more!

Some times these little miracles are the best. Thanks, Good Neighbors!

What's in your sink? 'Maters. Lots of maters.

Guess what I'm working on today?


I'm making sauce today - canning tomorrow.  The biggest tomato in the right of this pic is a Pink Oxhart. The rest are Romas, except for the smallest ones which are the Amish paste tomatoes.

While this has been an abysmal year for tomatoes.. I actually got quite a few today. Our weather has not cooperated at all... and then I've been on the sick list...and now we are feeling fall getting closer and closer... We won't have near enough tomatoes for our needs. But we'll savor the ones we have.

A few garden notes.

Remember I was complaining about those small and useless Amish paste tomatoes and I should never grow them again? HA! They turned out to be the most prolific and most disease/weather resistant of the whole lot. I'll be saving the seeds like gold for next year. The few plants that I let grow bloomed and fruited well - and were true to last year's plants. Never say never.

At least one experiment went right. I grew winter wheat and buckwheat as a cover crop in the upper garden to help the soil. I wasn't convinced it worked until I bushwacked thru the weeds and found these beauties:

The two on the right are from the improved soil

These are Romas - from the same tray and seed packet. The one of the left is from the lower garden where I thought the soil was better. But as you can see the two on the right from the upper garden were bigger, meatier, and more lovely. I'll be buying winter wheat and buckwheat by the wheelbarrow load for this fall/next early spring. Wow what a great result!

Happy Tomato-ing for the folks who have 'em... I feel your pain, for folks who don't. Whats in your sink today?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Pepper gives the monster squash a piece of her mind

Success! I pried the monster squash out of the fence yesterday - fortunately I didn't damage it nor did I have to cut the fence.

"But" (pun intended) now, a problem. Thanks to my pal, Free, I'll never be able to use this squash. After she called it a "thong-wearin', butt squash"... well, now I'm emotionally traumatized and need therapy. The monster squash now sits in the living room mocking me.


Thankfully the cats know how to handle the situation. Pepper gave that squash the a piece of her mind. Or as we say around here, she gave it "the business." Good girl, Pep.

And now, a day of beans. Folks, start your canners!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The problem I am solving today...and more

Now this is a ridiculous problem... as Bug Bunny would say - this one is a lulu!

Any ideas how to get this monster squash un-stuck from the fence?

After I get that one figured out I have a full dance card. First, I'm also gonna dig more taters... look at these beauties!  This is just a handful of the lovely potatoes we have out there.


Then I'm gonna watch the beez buzz around the lavender...


Followed by finding somewhere to transplant some of this lovely purple basil somewhere that the geese can't get it..


And I need to finish up working in in the front garden...


and then spend some time enjoying the day - this is what it looks like, all sun shiny and such:



And a few Farm Notes, adding more as the day goes along:
* Nibbles, Debbie, and Vita are all acting like teenagers at a Justin Bieber concert... I think they are in heat. So next month this time should be mighty interesting.
 * We have one setting chicken who is really working that nest - I don't think she's gotten up yet. Yesterday I thought she was dead... but then she pecked me REALLY hard... so, she's fine. I hope they hatch soon - should be in the next couple of days.
* We mowed the goat/chicken yard..and now the goats are acting like its the end of the world. Not that they would get up off their lazy haunches and graze... but now that its mowed down they are pitching a fit. And they have easier access to go down there and stomp and snort at the pigs.
 * I did some fall planting in the front garden - turunips, kale, mustard seeds..and then replanted some lettuce that I'd started in flats. Something has eaten all my darn broccoli sprouts so I'm none to happy about that.

More as the day goes on......

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

We're Jammin'

We're jammin', jammin',
And I hope you like jammin', too.


I don't think Mr. Marley would mind if we all sang along while we are making jam! 


 
Jam tools

Get your fruit, jars and a few other things ready to make spectacular jam/preserves/jelly/whatever. I'm a little inexact on the exact definition of the fruity stuff you put on toast - if only because SOMEONE is obsessed with the difference.

Me? I usually say "jelly" ... but its the fruity stuff you put on toast. In this instance I'm taking Tammy's suggestion and using honey instead of sugar. Normally I wouldn't put 4-6 cups of sugar in anything - which is why I love Pomona's Universal Pectin.  You can use very little sugar (or honey) with Pomona's. It sets up beautifully and you can really taste the fruit.

Prepared calcium water and lemon juice

Before you get jammin' you'll also need lemon juice and to have prepared the calcium water per the instructions in the Pomona's box. You can keep it in the fridge and it stays good for several weeks.

Prepare the berries, then mix the pectin powder into the honey (or sugar)...

I only used about 2/3 cup of honey for a whole batch

The rest of the directions are easy peasy - add the ingredients, cook on the stove top for a few minutes.. then fill your prepared jars...


...and then process in a water bath for only about five minutes. How easy is that?

And then you can be jammin' too... we're jammin'.. jammin....

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Everybody's roosting, surprise ducklings, and Farm Notes

Look what Miss Duck came walking around the corner with this morning.. my golly.....
Surprise ducklings

One of my pals asked for an update on Mrs. Dowlrimple and the Bugs... they are just adorable. Mrs. D has been taking them around outside all day. Letting them roam free during the day is one of those "hold your breath" moments...but she's a good momma and keeps them all together. They are hilarious and are really changing - colors are deepening and feathers coming in.  There is always a big hullabaloo everywhere they go.

Mrs. D and the Bugs... and Mr. Tibbles

Lately they've all been roosting on the highest perch. Some of them can't quite make the fly all the way up so there is generally a big hubbub. I put one up, another one hops off...then can't get back up and stands there screaming until I put him up..and another one hops off. This goes on for a while.

The fluffiest bottom to the far left is Mr. Tibbles - the roo of the Salmon Favorelle trio. He is a scream. Last nite he got up on the roof of the hen house. I stood there and scolded him, "Mr. Tibbles! You come down here right now."

He did.

Farm Notes (from yesterday):
* Finally, the weather has broken and we had a perfect summer day.
* Our pear tree is so loaded that its practically dragging the ground. I'm thinking the harvest will be earlier than we thought.
* I got the beans (that I started in trays) planted - probably a week or so late but they are nice and tall and tonight they should root in well with our cool night.
* Tons of weeding followed by lots of feeding the weeds to the pigs.
* One of our setting turkey hens flew out of her brooder like a crazed demon this morning. I'm thinking her eggs are alive and are close to hatching. Turkeys = crazy.
* I was totally annoyed at all the weeds today - until I realized how much bee activity was going on...and butterflies as well.
* Based on our new arrivals we took up most of Miss Puddles' nest. She saw me! Oh no! I just hate that.
* One of our uber-broody banty hens finally gave it up. Whew! She didn't know what she was doing at all. I'm glad she quit the nest.
* The male Kindergarten - now known as The Rooster Crew are getting big and meaty. I think I counted seven roos. They are getting hard to deal with and refuse to roost with the ladies. That's OK.. keeps 'em nice and tender that way...
* We moved the inside Meeps, who are now almost completely feathered in, to a new day pen. They needed more grazing space and I needed my Front Garden back.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Last step: Bottling honey

Yesterday we did the last step of our honey processing - we got it all bottled up. Well, some of it. This week we'll have to go and get more jars.

This step really was the easiest. We just set up the bottling bucket, got the jars ready, and filled them.

But based on our low confidence of doing this without covering everything in honey, we decided to do this over the counter and not risk the floor.  We just set the bottling bucket up on a stool (covered of course), positioned the jars with a funnel and opened the valve and...


filled the jars.


We did not have enough jars to finish.  These pint jars turned out to be about a pound and a quarter of honey. Shh.. don't tell our family but this is what they are getting for Christmas!


We'll get smaller jars this week and shoot for one pound units. This will allow us to provide a uniform product - we are hoping one of the old timers we know (with a farm stand) will sell them for us.

The honey is just beautiful - clear and golden.

Thanks, beez!

And thanks for all the interest. We'll do a post on getting set up with beez for all the folks thinking about it. Just like anything - mostly its just work ...and a little bit of hoping that things turn out. We probably won't cover all our set up costs this year. But knowing that we have strong and productive hives gives us a profound sense of satisfaction. We laughed that between the beez and the goats we are truly in The Good Land of Milk and Honey!

Happy Monday!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Oh... Honey!!

This one is for Mimi cuz she's a honey...and really knows how to bake with it. So I thought I'd show her how honey is harvested.

 Here is where all the magic happens.. the secret world of beez.

It all starts with the beez. The beez are out there hard at work - they live in hives that we built or bought. Aside from getting them into the hive and some general maintenance there's not much to do but let them buzz around.  While there is a ton of "futzing" you can do - we don't. This holds to our general rules of "less is more" and "natural is best" so we don't over manage the beez.
Beez hard at work in the hive. 

If you are lucky, and have productive beez, you can get up to three harvests a year in our area. Our hives are new so we had our first harvest this week...and are hoping to harvest after the first frost which will be about mid-October. The beez need something to eat this time of year so we are letting the weeds go wild - especially the ragweed which we are both allergic to and blooms like the dickens this time of year. The honey made with this pollen will help our immune systems next year (hopefully) so we won't be so allergic to it. And frankly, I wasn't looking forward to yanking up all them weeds so it works out very nicely.

Back to the harvest. I stood in the safety of the house while The Big Man suited up and went and got the "supers" which are the parts of the hives that hold the honey. And no, I ain't helping him. Everyone has their limits and this is mine. I stood in the house clutching the dog and my can of Raid just in case any of them beez came for me.

The supers hold the frames which contain the wax structures that house the honey. We have both wood and plastic frames.

These are the wood frames....

And the plastic frames. 

For the other "beeks" (the buzz for "beekeepers") out there, we found that the beez (and us!) preferred the wood frames with wire supports. The plastic ones were hard for us to work with and the beez built the combs between them and in weird structures. We'll get more wood and wire frames for next year.

The first step is to cut the tops of the wax structures off to release the honey.

 See the sealed combs below the knife?

We set up a plastic tub with a wire rack to hold the wax that we cut off. This allowed us to collect any honey that dripped out of the wax caps.

We didn't do a great job with cutting the caps off with the knife. So we used a fork to rake the combs and this worked really well. 

Then the frames went into the extractor - which is really just a tall tub with a salad-spinner-like-thing that flings the honey out of the combs and lets it collect at the bottom of the tub.  We loaded up the frames and...

 Wood frames in the spinner

...just started crankin'...
Folks with lots of hives have power extractors... we just cranked it by hand.

Once we had enough honey in the bottom of the tall tub, we set up the double strainer which removed all of the wax and debris from the honey. We filtered it into a big bucket with a valve on the bottom so it could be easily poured into containers.

See the honey in the bottom of the tub? The valve locks and unlocks easily.

It was so exciting to see all that lovely liquid gold come rushing out!

This was definitely the best part!

And the leftover wax was pretty interesting also...

We collected all the wax - the bits and the bigger chunks of comb to use later.

Altogether we harvested almost 5 gallons of honey from just one hive out of the two "supers" by using the extractor. Then we let the extra wax drain and got even more honey. We'll let the honey set for a couple days to allow all the air bubbles to release and then we'll put it into smaller containers. It's gonna be mighty tasty on home made biscuits!

While we were thrilled with our progress, of course, it turned out to be a big sticky mess. We learned a few things:

1. Doing this outside with a bunch of angry beez probably wasn't the best idea. I finally had to relent and let the stickiness into the kitchen after them beez came lookin' to get their honey back.
2. Working inside with a bunch of over-interested cats wasn't that much better of an idea.
3. Putting the cats up and THEN working inside was the right answer. Several of the cats kinda got stuck together...but then again, so did we! Yikes!

Pretty much everything got sticky...and just when we finished and went to bed promising ourselves we'd clean up the mess the next day... the electric went out for most of that day!

But the house smells heavenly (still) and now that I have the electric back on (finally!) I'm gonna see what I can make with all this honey. My pal, DM, suggested these lovely honey cupcakes...and someone else suggested goat's milk 'n peach 'n honey ice cream... I'm wonderin' if Mimi has something special she can suggest?

Happy honey everyone! Remember that local honey is good for lots of reasons!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Baby its HOT in the kitchen...and Canning Report

Hey Nicholas!  If you can't stand the heat - get out of the kitchen!

Nicholas can't stand the heat

Monday was an epic day in the kitchen. Unfortunately it was also a HOT day in the kitchen. At 90* outside, I think there was actually a point where it was hotter inside. This is what caused Nicholas's hard day in the kitchen. I think he melted a little. He has lots of hard days as seen here and here.

But a good day for The Canning Report:
* 6 pints of white peach preserves
* 8 pints of turkey meat
* 3 quarts plus one pint of turkey stock.

But it didn't end there:
* 4 quart freezer bags of cat food (turkey meat)
* 4 freezer bags of stock for dogs
* 2 loaves of bread 
* 2 more sugar pie pumpkins cooked, pulp to be frozen
* peach scones
* and then I shook up a jar of cream to make butter.

Then we turned the AC back on and now I'm waiving a white flag...I'm done. Just like Nicholas.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Meet Mater

We've been trying to find one of our younger Bourbon Red Turkey hens. We've looked everywhere.

She is from last years hatch and has been trying to set a nest...somewhere.  The last week or so we've only seen her in the afternoon - she comes down to the yard from where ever she is hiding, stands in the goose pool to cool down, gets a snack, and then high tails it back to wherever she is hiding. We couldn't find her anywhere. And she is as fast as lightening so we haven't been able to track her. Its been an ordeal because we really need to keep her safe - and we really need to protect her eggs so they will hatch.

We've often said that you'd never find a setting turkey hen unless you just about stepped on her... they are really good at hiding.
What? You can't see her? Zoom in.. behind the tomatoes...

Do you see her now?

I probably walked past her 20 times a day, especially since I have been taking up the tomatoes at the other end of the garden. The only reason we found her was because I was weeding right beside her - I almost stepped on her. Turkey can be infuriating.

So we took her, and her nest up, and relocated her in the former bachelor turkey coop. Unfortuantely she was not on her nest when I checked on her the next morning. I don't think her eggs are alive anymore.. but as they say... A turkey in the coop is better than one in Foxy Brown's belly.

At least she is safe. We're going to call her Mater..because that's where she was hiding.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Snaps from yesterday and Canning Report

I think all my 'puter woes have been fixed now so I'm back on line. A gentle reminder to all to stop what you are doing and back up your hard drive. Now. Yes, you. Do not delay. I thought I had lost it all.. whew!

Amidst the technical woes there were some fun things:

First, I found out more about my mis-named squash which is a Cushaw, or kershaw.  It is sometimes used to make canned pumpkin! So my dreams of pumpkin pie will be realized - yay!  I'm really excited that I found several of these monsters growing all over the property - including hanging over the top of a fence. I'm not sure I was able to show just how big they are from the picture shown here.. so here is another with my work gloves for scale:


This one is huge!


And I just can't stop clickin' happy snaps of the geese.... we have a real flock! That's OD in the lead:


I love you, OD!


It turned out that Mrs. Beezley only hatched one chick... so we named him Neo because he is "The One." 


Little Neo with Mrs. Beezley


And then there are all these peaches..
What could be more summer-like than baskets of peaches and black berries?


Well, I guess this big tomato:
I think this is a Tula Black.. just stunning. And tasty too!


I'm going to start a Canning Report.. kinda like Farm Notes but, listing what we "put by." This will help me figure out how much we put up, what worked best, and will help me plan for next year. Sorry if its boring but this is easy record keeping for me:

Canning report:
* 4 pints of blackberry preserves
* 3 pints of tomato sauce

The blackberries are made with low-sugar Pamona's Perfect Pectin. This used the 2 quarts of berries we got from our orchard friends. I used only 3/4 cup of sugar for the entire recipe. They set up very nicely.

The tomato sauce was processed in a water bath for 35 minutes from tomatoes that I gathered to make our pizza sauce. I let them process while I finished cutting up peaches for a crisp. I think doing small batches may be a good strategy so I don't have to spend huge chunks of time doing just canning.

Tomorrow I'll do more of the peaches (as preserves) and see what else I can work on.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A special Happy Birthday!

Today I'd like to wish my pal, H, a very very Happy Birthday!  I'm sending her scenes of the mid-West and my warmest wishes:

The Amish farm nearby


Corn - your favorite crop

Farm on a hill


Grains - not your favorite crop

Taking up the early harvest

More corn....

I'll spare you the singing and instead send my thanks for all your friendship. I've spent more years of my life being blessed by knowing you than being without you...and I'm a better person for it.

Happy Birthday!
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