Saturday, October 29, 2011

Gleaning the Garden

The weather has turned much colder and a frost warning is in the forecast for tonight. I decided to go ahead and finish picking all the peppers and eggplant, just in case. Lots of jalapenos and bell peppers were picked. Monday I will pickle the jalapenos and freeze most of the bells to add to soups and sauces this winter. I also harvested a huge basket of lettuce and spinach. The greens have really taken off and we are eating as fast as we can!
The next thing on my list was to attack the pantry and organize. I needed to go through and finish the inventory I started last week. A couple of times a year I have to do this or fear that I may be buried alive when I walk in from just tossing things back in there. Three hours later I emerged with a great sense of satisfaction and a job well done.
Then it was time to head to the barn to finish up evening chores. Pogo goat was out again... This is starting to get very old.  Critters fed and snuggled down for the night with lots of hay, we did the same.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Planting Garlic

I finally got most of the garlic in today. It took 2 hours to get it all planted and I got all but the elephant garlic in the ground. It will have to wait until I get another row tilled in the garden since I ran out of room. Imagine that.
I wasn't sure how much I would get accomplished as the morning started off a bit hectic. The first thing that threw a wrench in my plans was when I looked at my calender and realized my dad's birthday was tomorrow. Oops. Get gift and card. Second, I checked my email and a fellow wanted to come at noon to bring his goat to be bred. Okay. Third, co-op was in. Forth, another fellow that bought goats in the spring decided he could no longer keep them, called and wanted to bring them back. Seems they kept jumping his fence, and how did I keep mine up? We never have had a jumper, pushing a fence down maybe but never a jumper.
Never say never. While planting garlic I looked up to see the smaller of the two wandering around the back yard. As I was chasing him around the yard the second one hit the side of the barn and cleared my fence. I caught him and put him in another pasture and continued to chase smaller guy. Bigger goat cleared second fence. This was not good. Moved bigger guy to third pasture and finally caught smaller one and shoved him in as well. When I headed to the barn after supper to trim hooves, they were both still in the third pasture. We'll see what tomorrow brings.I  may have to explain that I have a permanent place that they will never get out of. It is called a freezer...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Knitting Projects

I finally put the finishing touches on the knitting projects I have been working on. The first is a baby blanket made from organic cotton to be gifted to a babe due in November. I loved working with the yarn, it is very soft and knitted up rather quickly. I have another one in the works for a little boy born just last week.

My second project was to knit myself a pair of fingerless gloves. This is a wool/ alpaca blend. Though a little big for my hands they will work just fine until I have time to make a smaller pair. They too, were a quick and easy project and really pretty with the cable at the wrist.
Next on my list of projects is to knit a pair of wool tube socks from my hand spun yarns, if they turn out well, I will probably knit up a few pair for Christmas gifts.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Today's List

Today's list was pretty long. I was a bit behind because we snuck away for a 36 hour "vacation" and hiked  in the mountains of NC over the weekend. The colors were spectacular! We logged in 14 miles, hiking a section of the Mountain to Sea Trail and Crabtree Falls. Lovely.
First I absolutely had to finish dehydrating the last of the tomatoes and get the mushrooms going. That took the better part of the morning but finally all were done. A total of 10 quarts of tomatoes and 6 quarts of mushrooms were put in the pantry.
Next on my list was to weigh and box all the fleeces from our fall shearing and ready them to be shipped off for wool blankets. That proved to be a bit more challenging than I thought it would be. The boxes were big and bulky and did not want to fit on any scales I owned. After much trail and error, I finally  found a way to put them on my soap scales and sneak my hand under the boxes, hitting the hold button and thus getting the weights. I had 44 pounds sorted and in boxes ready to tape up only to find I only had about 6 inches of packing tape. Ugh. I needed to go to the feed store anyway so I headed out to pick up tape and feed. On my way home a fellow that breeds his alpine doe to my buck each year called to see if he could bring her up. I decided to finish feeding chores while waiting for him. I also made a quick trip to the garden for spinach and kale for our supper. After he left I once again turned my attention to the boxes. I finished up the second box only to run out of tape. Geez! I wasn't about to leave again as it was almost supper time anyway. Tomorrow after work I will stop and pick up more and Wednesday those boxes ARE going to Canada!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Rainy Wednesday

As promised, it rained today. Almost 2 inches. Also, as promised, as soon as the rain moved out, the winds picked up, we saw a small ray of sunshine and the cold air moved in. At that point it wasn't safe to be outside for fear of being pelted by acorns or hickory nuts.
Thankfully, I had finished my outside chores (in the rain) which included slogging through the garden in search of spinach and salad greens. I was well rewarded. Over a pound was harvested in short order.
I rebooted the dehydrator with the next to the last round of Romas, wishing they would hurry so I could put the mushrooms I was gifted with yesterday in there.
I wish I could say I accomplished a lot but truth be told, not really. I cooked several things and inventoried the pantry. I need to do the same with the freezers soon.With the exception of chicken and beef stock we look pretty good. I also checked our emergency box. It is in need of candles, batteries and water. I have been meaning to add a battery operated radio to it, may put that on the list. A mental note was made to get one of the boys to check our generator. One never knows what the winter will bring and I like being prepared. There have been several times we have been without power for close to a week but we survived very comfortably without it.
A quiet day for sure, I'll not complain about that.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Garlic Haze

My garlic arrived today. My sister asked if I was under the influence of illegal drugs when I placed the order. One could certainly understand her concern, being that I ordered 9 1/2 pounds!! The more likely scenario was that I had just eaten a warm piece of bread, slathered with freshly roasted garlic and a drizzle of olive oil that sent me scampering off to the computer to loose control. I ordered 5 pounds of elephant garlic and a wide selection of early, mid and late varieties. I certainly don't want to designate that much garden space just to garlic and so I will share. Who knows. Maybe that was my plan all along. Maybe.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Planting Strawberries

On a whim I bought 85 strawberry plants. Around here a lot of people plant them in the fall and harvest around May. I have always wanted to have our own, so hopefully these will do well. I covered the row with black pastic. I then cut holes in it and tucked the plants down in the softly tilled dirt beneath. I will fertilize with fish emulsion in a week or two.
 The rest of the garden is looking good with the exception of a severe need of cultivating. We were able to harvest our first salad greens this week. One forgets how sweet and buttery fresh baby greens are when plucked from the ground, carried to the house and eaten right then. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mas Maters!

While milking today the tomato fairy stopped by. She left a bushel of Roma tomatoes on the tail gate of my truck.( Actually the fairy is my boss and she knew I needed more Romas to get us through the winter.) I am ever so grateful and will be happily dehrydating for the next few days!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Skirting Fleeces

Today I skirted the fleeces, readying them for processing. The weather was cool and cloudy and perfect for the job. The fleeces were spread one by one on a table my dad  built specifically for that purpose. The matted parts and vegetable matter were picked out and then I piled each in a box according to color. About half way through a friend showed up and helped finish. In short order we had four huge boxes filled with all that lovely wool. The next step will be weighing out the specified amount for the blankets and shipping.
We were tired of playing in the wool and headed to the garden. The greens are starting to put on a lot of growth and so we wandered down the rows tasting this and that, like a couple of rabbits! The wasabi mustard greens are fantastic and almost ready to be tossed in a salad. We picked some peas and she got a milking lesson before heading home. Thanks C!      

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Planning For the New Farm

We made a quick trip to our farm in Virginia today to start thinking about our future plans. It will still be several years before we make the move but we hope to split our time between here and there much sooner, possibly raising some cattle and mowing hay from the fields next summer. Today we made plans for our driveway and made some decisions on fencing. The fencing is in pretty bad shape and most will need to be replaced. Of course we will need to build a barn. Daunting yet very exciting.....

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fall Shearing

Today was a busy day. It started with a vet appointment for the Icelandic sheep slated to leave on Sunday. While he was still here my home school group arrived for a farm tour. We talked about the sheep, toured the garden and played with the dairy goats. I also showed them the process of how the wool goes from sheep to yarn. I had planned to spin for them but my wheel hasn't been used since last winter and of course it was being cantankerous, so that didn't happen. We still had a good time and I hope they learned some things.
After they left it was time to call all the sheep to the barn for their fall shearing appointment. Our shearers were due at 5 this evening. Three trips back and forth the pasture with grain and they were locked up and ready. The shearers were an hour late because of traffic and we didn't finish until almost 9 p.m. I stacked all the fleeces in the back of my truck so I will HAVE to do something with them before I head to work on Tuesday! My plan this year is to have blankets made. They were my best fleeces yet! The night turned a bit cool so we fed the sheep and left them in the barn and headed to the house to feed ourselves and collapse.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Catching Up On Chores

I awoke to a cool crisp morning and the sound of roosters crowing. No waves crashing, no sand in my sheets. Ah yes, it is good to be home! Being home though, meant catching up on chores, returning emails and phones calls about the farm and animals. Emails and phones calls were first and then I headed out to do outside duties. Milking done, I fed and watered the goats. Mineral feeders and the kelp/DE  were empty, so those were refilled. I walked the fence lines since I am going to be rearranging dogs once again and don't need an escapee. Lastly on the critter list was to haul hay to the cows and tend the chickens. That done and eggs gathered, I headed to the garden only to discover worms were munching on the collards. Back to the barn for more DE to sprinkle on the plants. A walk thru revealed that all the summer veggies must go except the peppers and okra. I will pick off the green tomatoes sometime this week and we'll plow everything up. I then called it a day and headed to the house. I was actually able to squeeze in a short run. ( Gotta shed those beach pounds, from sitting around doing nothing! Well, actually we did hike several miles each day but that in no way resembles farm work!)
Then it was on to supper and a quiet evening- or so I thought. While preparing supper the phone rang. I chose to ignore it since I was up to my elbows in meatloaf. Then it rang again. My sister this time. Did you get the message? No, what message. The one from the sheriff's department saying a breaking and entering suspect is in our area and to be on the lookout. Uh, no, I didn't get that one. Well, get your pistol and lock the doors. Hmmm... Since I had planned to sit on the patio and catch up on a few last things paperwork and computer wise, this was not good. So I grabbed my pistol, my paperwork and my dog and headed to the patio. Just another day on the homestead.  

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Home Again

No one should come home from vacation way more exhausted than when they left. However, a crappy bed and no sleep for several days does not make a well rested person. It is good to be home!
The farm and all the animals survived well in the capable hands of the sitter. Upon arriving home I did a quick check on the animals. The little doe that was sick when I left was now recovered and put back in with her herd mates. I picked the okra and checked the winter veggies. Everything has germinated and looks great except the mache and miner's lettuce. This is year two with both of those and year two of failure as well. IF I try again I will not direct sow and opt instead to try starting them in flats.
 I watered plants, caught up vacation laundry, got my calender and started making lists for the week. Call me crazy but as I looked at the to-do lists and gazed over the farm I felt way more at peace than I have in the last few days. I started chanting in my head.. there's no place like home, there's no place like home.