Thursday, June 30, 2011

Harvesting Garlic

We finally had an inch of rain last night. Yea!! I finished a.m. chores and hurried to the garden in hopes I would be able to finish harvesting the garlic now that the ground was moist. I harvested a total of 190 heads. They went into the trailer with the still unsorted potatoes to dry. I will clean and top them this weekend.
 It seems the rain made the other veggies explode overnight. I harvested our first yellow squash and MORE zucchini, along with a couple more eggplant. The cucumbers are hanging full of tiny babies so pickles will be in the not too distant future!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Naughty Critters

Up before sunrise to bake and feed before work this morning. It was the usual quiet beginning to the day. Then my sister called.. your horse is leaning over the fence eating my tomato plants. AND your dog is chasing your goats---Oh no! those are my goats and they are in your pasture. Call you back. So, I headed to the barn and tossed some hay out in hopes to distract the horses. Called sis back. Goats ok? Yes~ teenage dog had them in a bunch, just watching. She was thankful for the bunching- I was thankful said teenage dog only "bunched"! Back to baking.
Last batch of bread in and I headed out to feed the meat birds. The "boo-boo" birds have discovered they can fly over the fencing and were helping themselves to the garden. ALL of the ripe tomatoes they could reach were half eaten. I hurriedly picked anything that looked close to being ripe. Ran the bad birds in another pen all the while explaining to them that I really do love chicken pot pie.
Finally off to work, only to arrive home this evening and find all the milk goats in the blueberry patch. I came barreling down the driveway blowing my horn. The startled little snots headed back to the pasture from where they escaped. Another 5 minutes and there would not have been a leaf left! Jeez!!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Zucchini Soup

It is dry as a dessert here. We haven't any significant rain in a couple of weeks and so today I watered. Watered plants, watered animals, watered mushrooms. I tried once again to dig the garlic, once again I gave up. Despite the lack of rain, the zucchini stills produces on. I came across a zucchini soup recipe in an old Southern Living cookbook. It is absolutely delicious! So if you have an abundance of zucchini give this a try.
                                      Zucchini Soup
2 -3 slices of bacon fried crisp and crumbled. Reserve some of  the fat and saute a meduim onion, chopped and a stalk of celery,chopped. Add a couple of garlic cloves, minced. Saute a few more minutes. Add 4 cups chicken broth, 3 medium zucchini, chopped and about 4-5 small potatoes, cubed. Let simmer until tender. Add about 3/4 of cream, milk or half 'n half. Salt and pepper to taste. Process in blender until smooth. Serve with crumbled bacon and a sprinkling of chedder cheese.   

Sunday, June 26, 2011


We were all exhausted from the heat yesterday and so we took things a bit easy today. That didn't mean we didn't have chores to do but we decided against starting anything big, such as cutting up all the trees that have fallen of late ;o). I did wander down to the garden to see what could be added to the supper table and to my surprise I was able to pick several tomatoes. Better Boy, Black Cherry and Tigerella are all starting to ripen. By far my favorite vegetable and a true sign that summer has arrived!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Digging Taters and Onions

It is time to dig the potatoes and onions. We used to tell  the kids we were digging french fries. It made it a lot more fun for them and they were a lot more help for us. That doesn't work anymore but we still had one helper today.
And so after morning chores we headed to the garden. Actually, it was after lunch as we had some minor delays (like fixing the dishwasher that was running water all over the kitchen!) and the heat was wicked. We started with the onions. A total count of 754! With the 60 I have sold to the CSA and the other couple of dozen I had pulled to eat on our total for this year was 838. It was our biggest and best crop ever. The onions are huge and oh, so sweet. We spread a tarp in the horse trailer and laid them all out to allow them to finish drying. I will be moving them around daily this week and as soon and as they dry, the tops will come off and I will hang them in the basement.

It was then on to the potatoes. We were a bit disappointed on that end. Only a total of 6 bushels. There have been years we have harvested 12 or more. I think with the dry weather, the potato beetle attack earlier and the different way we tried planting this year, that our harvest suffered. Certainly enough to get us through but not enough to sell any great quantities. I will have to go through the baskets, checking for nicks and spots before storing them for the winter, some time this week as well. Once we get these areas plowed it will be time for the crowder peas and drying beans to go in the ground. Hopefully that will happen on Monday.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The First Day Of Summer~But Thinking Of Fall

And so today was the first day of summer, yet I was thinking about fall. Why? It is time to think about ordering garlic and seeds for the fall garden. It it also time to start cabbage and broccoli seeds for fall transplants. I am planning on going through my seed box to see what I need to add. I would like to try growing mache again this year. I did not have luck with it last fall, but it was so hot and dry when I first sowed greens it may not have had a chance. I also have my eye set on a new spicy mustard from Territorial Seeds. Yum~ I can already taste that in salads and on sandwiches!
Here is a  pic of the yarn from yesterday after it dried. As it hung it created a variegated look to it. Really pretty! 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Pickled Beets & Yarn?

After the morning chores were finished it was time to pickle the beets I harvested yesterday. Of course I was out of vinegar and had to make a quick trip to the store~ imagine that! While they were simmering I picked the Japanese beetles off my grape vines. I will have to spray at some point, but I felt better after I had a jar full and then dumped them in the pond for the fish ;o). A total of 6 pints were tucked away in the pantry. After simmering the beets I had all that lovely red juice left over, even after making the brine. I couldn't resist throwing a white skein of yarn and a splash of vinegar in to see what happened. THEN I dumped it down the sink. A lovely shade of pink was the result. Maybe this winter I will knit me a hat...

More plums were ready and I picked another 5 gallon bucket, in addition to the the peck basket on Saturday. I am trying to find some other creative ways to use them besides jam, otherwise they will be gifted to friends.I will cook some down and freeze the juice, maybe even freeze a few for smoothies as well. I think I will dry some to add to muffins and breads. I harvested the last of the elephant garlic. More onions were harvested for the CSA. And once again the fridge is piled high with zucchini. A good garden day.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

And Then The Winds Came

Yesterday evening we were trying to get a new set of steps built off the back of the house. Well, I should say the boys were laying brick. I was stacking the bricks within reach for them and the go-for girl. One step done and the second begun, we heard a rumble of thunder. Soon the skies darkened and shortly thereafter the winds started. It was very frightening. The straight line winds were blowing so hard everything that was not nailed down went flying. A small amount of rain fell and for that we were thankful. After the storm passed we went to check the damage. Huge branches were down. Lots of leaves. Tomato plants torn from their stakes and this huge tree had snapped, thankfully missing all fences and critters. The goats had already discovered it and were busy eating the leaves. I guess we will be splitting firewood in the near future!   

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Pickl-It

They say three times is the charm. I certainly hope so. After trying to make sauerkraut twice before I was about ready to give up until I saw this Pickl-It advertised in one of my Weston Price publications. I read about it and decided, what the heck, I will give it one last go. Besides I can always use it as my kombucha jar if all else fails! It arrived today and I couldn't wait to try it, so I spent the evening shredding cabbage and got started. I layered and salted until finally it was full. I did have to add brine since it has been so dry my cabbage did not have a lot of moisture. Lid snapped on and now all I have to do is wait 7-10 days. I am already planning reuben sandwiches for next week ;o)) Hmmm.. I have to corn a beef roast first though.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sheep and Garden

Today was the day to recheck the sheep and see how they were doing after deworming 10 days ago. I was very pleased with all but one. She seems to be having a hard time and I dosed her again and will continue all of them on the iron for a bit longer. A shaky breath was drawn as I felt like we dodged another bullet.
I spent part of the day tying up tomato plants and planting a few more. I know, I know MORE tomatoes? People keep gifting me with plants. I am starting to feel like the neighborhood "tomato rescue"! The garden is looking nice just not a lot to harvest yet. Close, though.
The "black pearl" cherry tomatoes that my son started from seed are just starting to ripen. The okra is peaking out of the ground. I saw my first baby eggplant and the peppers are really starting to produce. I picked another large handful of blueberries. Enough to toss in some yogurt tomorrow. Garden chores done I headed indoors for a bit.
 I started a big pot of chicken and stock. We are down to whole birds in the freezer and my son wanted boneless breasts the other night, so I cut up the bird leaving the carcass and quarters. I used onions, carrots and parsley from the garden. I tossed garlic scapes in that my aunt sent me and of course some celery (store bought~yuk!) It smells really yummy! I will can or freeze the stock and  use the boiled chicken for a cool chicken salad meal. The temps today were very nice but the heat is headed back our way in the next few days and cooler meals will be in order. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

One Of Those Days

We had some more rain last night. Not as much as the day before and it came with a lot more wind. When I went to check on my ewe I found a large branch had crashed on the fence. I was able to heave it on the ground lest the goats discover it and use it as a plank to the garden. I went to check on my sheep. She did not make it through the night. Okay~ this was starting out to be one of those days when I question my sanity. You know those. They are the ones when I wonder what am I doing and why. Heartbreaking days. Discouraging days. The ones that make me think I could live in a little house with a little yard and sit on the couch and eat bon bons all day....I phoned my husband to tell him that there would be yet another burial today. Then I gave myself a mental slap and started my morning chores.
Milking and feeding done I headed to the kitchen to make a pot of soup.The chopping and simmering bring me a sense of comfort AND I really needed to use some cabbage that I harvested yesterday. Today's soup was beefy cabbage. A concoction ground beef, beans, onions, garlic, tomatoes and LOTS of cabbage. Seasoned with chili powder it makes for a delicious soup.
Next on my list was to run my Monday errands. By the time I got home my mood had lifted and I went to the garden to pull onions for a local CSA. He needed 30 onions to fill in the gap this week. I then turned my attention to the mound of zucchini sitting in the fridge. I decided to shred and freeze it raw in 2 cup bags perfect for breads, muffins and squash fritters. Luke helped and a short while later we had 10 pints ready to freeze. The day certainly ended up better than it started!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

And So I Paid Off My Vet Bill...

Yesterday morning I paid off the balance of my vet bill. Today I had to have him  out. Emergency call and all. Ugh.
The morning started routinely enough. We finally got a some rain last night and I was able to do some weeding in the garden. I also needed to cut the remaining cabbage before the sun hit it and the heads split due to the moisture. I dug a few more heads of garlic and Doug planted some more tomatoes. Heading in to put our veggies away I noticed one of the last ewes left to lamb appeared to be in labor. I went to check her and I the situation that greeted me was ugly. Three legs, two heads (one partial and one whole) and two dead lambs. I tried to push one back in and realized this was beyond my scope of capabilities. I called the vet and he came out within the hour.It took quite a bit of manuevering, but he finally got both kids out. My ewe seems to be ok, very tired but alert. We will have to wait and see. She will have to be on antibiotics for a few days. He said it was just a fluke thing. The kids were not too large, just both tried to come at the same time. And so we suffered another loss. Life and death on the farm. It is not ever easy, but is a part of it all. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Harried Morning

We overslept today. Something that does not happen often. When I woke up and realized it was 6 a.m., I scrambled up and headed to the kitchen to start baking. My husband came in and said he couldn't get up because he was dreaming. About what? I asked. He said~ you got thrown out of church for running your mouth. Good grief! I didn't know if I should laugh or be horrified! Talk about starting your morning off right...
Once bread was delivered I started my chores. Milking and feeding done I headed to the garden. 
I TRIED to dig garlic. However, the ground is like cement as we have had no rain in two weeks. The storms have been all around us- just not here! I did manage to dig a few heads along with one elephant garlic and a few potatoes. We watered the new transplants and picked a few handfuls of green beans. More cabbage was harvested as well as onions and a large handful of basil. That was all we could do in the garden and so we headed to the barn to do some cleaning. The dairy goat barn was in dire need of scraping out. Once that was done, I limed the area and put down fresh shavings. I scrubbed water buckets, something I am having to do almost daily as the green slime covers the bottoms in this heat and humidity. I then turned my attention to the sheep. We lost a lamb this week due to parasites. I was shocked since I had just dewormed 3 weeks ago and moved them to clean pasture. So it has been with fear and trepidation that I go to the sheep pasture each day. The day I lost the lamb I checked eyes. Most were ok but the ewes with twins were quite pale. I dewormed again and have been supplementing the ewes daily with a liquid iron. Quite a job since they don't really care for it! I entice with grain and usually get everyone. I am also feeding kelp mixed with DE. I am curious to see if this helps. I had such high hopes that we would not be plagued as much this year but it seems we are off to a rough start. And so it goes, we have good years and bad years. The last time we had such a huge problem in this area was about five years ago. People were loosing animals left and right. We felt lucky that year to have only lost 4 ~ 3 lambs and 1 goat kid.
Most chores were finished and I headed to the kitchen. Supper was going to be a true homestead meal! I roasted the head of elephant garlic and it was fantastic. We will most definitely will plant a lot more of that this fall.
Our supper menu was green beans with baby potatoes, fried cabbage and onions, banana peppers stuffed with cheese and broiled and pasta tossed with basil pesto. What a delightful way to end a day.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Maple Lane Homestead Muffins

Tons of zucchini and carrots lead me to create this muffin recipe. I couldn't find one with the ingredients I wanted, so this is what I came up with. Dense, yet moist, they are really yummy! I hope you will try them and enjoy~
                    1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
                    3/4 cup white flour
                    1/2 cup wheat bran
                    1/4 tsp. baking powder
                    1 tsp baking soda
                    1/2 tsp salt
                    2 tsp. cinnamon
                    2 large or 3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
                    2 cups shredded zucchini
                    1 cup shredded carrots
                    1/2 cup butter, melted
                    3/4 cup raisins
Combine all ingredients just until moistened. Bake at 350* for about 20- 25 minutes.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Finally~Garden In!

Finally the garden is in. Saturday's planting included more corn, 2 different varieties of green beans, butter peas, more squash and eggplant, a summer variety of spinach, late tomatoes, potatoes and carrots. In a few weeks we will harvest our early potatoes and onions and the crowder peas and late drying beans will go in.
Once the garden was finished I headed to the barn for milking and morning feeding chores. The boys finished up the fencing we started last week for the ram and buck pasture.It was then time for a lunch break!
After lunch we attacked the herb and border beds that had been consumed by weeds. A few short hours later most were finished and we now need a load of mulch. We were ready to call it a day. Evening chores were finished and we collapsed. It is definitely much more pleasant to go out and harvest herbs now. 
                             Below are pics of mission accomplished!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Last Of The Peas

This week I picked the balance of the snow peas, another 1/2 bushel. Most of these were really large and so I had to shell them out. They were still, however, totally delicious. I also harvested the last of the carrots, another 8 pounds! The biggest find of the day were 3 zucchini and a handful of french filet green beans. After picking a couple of onions I knew supper was planned. A lovely pasta primavera with last year's basil marinara sauce.
I also harvested a rather large amount of broccoli that was starting to bolt and though not pretty to look at, was still tasty. It became "cream of broccoli soup".
Now it is time to till up all of the pea vines and ready ourselves for another planting. It has been wickedly hot and no rain is in sight. We are either going to have to run some irrigation or haul out the sprinklers soon.