Monday, July 30, 2012

Veggie Wars

World War Three here in the kitchen with vegetables fighting for counter space. Another huge load of tomatoes were harvested today. The first few ears of Silver Queen corn were picked too. Peppers elbowed their way in and the okra has come on. Not to mention the basil, just waiting to be made into pesto!!  Just when you think things are slowing a bit...

Today most of the vegetables were put on hold while I dealt with the honey. I had to sterilize jars and lids before pouring it up. I didn't get finished but close..

I will finish later tonight or tomorrow.
Yesterday we set the empty supers out for the bees to clean up. I also set the cappings out. They did a wonderful job cleaning up and tonight after dark we will put the frames and wax in the freezer to kill any unwanted creatures before storing them for next year.

Yes, next on my list of things to learn will be bees wax candles!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Taking Off Honey

After breakfast and getting the goats milked we set up to take off the honey. We put a couple of  tables in the garage to work on along with the extractor. The tables held the capping and  holding tanks.
Doug and I took off the honey. One frame at a time was removed and gently brushed to remove the bees. I took that frame and put it in a covered super. We worked slowly and methodically.

After all the supers were removed, we headed to the garage to begin the real work. Only two bees hitched a ride.
Once in the garage we took of our suits. We had some extra help from my in laws and Luke and so to be quite honest it went rather quickly. One of the supers had really dark honey and the other two a much lighter. We decided to keep them separate.
We first capped the honey-

Then put it in the extractor-

and finally let it run into the holding tank-

Tomorrow I will jar it up. It looks like we got close to 6 gallons!!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Spaghetti sauce was canned today, 11 quarts, with plans for another batch next week. Most of these I will pack up and send with Luke to school. My next batch I think I will can in pints to keep here.
Once the canning and cleaning was finished, hubby and I hauled all the equipment for taking off the honey tomorrow. Yes! We are finally going to harvest our own homestead honey, thanks to the hard work of our "girls". I am so excited.
It has been over ten years since we have kept bees, so you can imagine the extractor and holding tanks were a bit dusty. They are now sparkling clean and ready for tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Spaghetti Sauce~ Well Almost

I finally was able to get into the sauce- the spaghetti sauce that is. A sink full of tomatoes dictated that I must do so.
I baked, delivered and got early chores finished. Then I was off to the garden to see what needed harvesting. Lots of tomatoes and our first okra were picked. Very  few peppers but at least enough for the sauce.
The sauce is relatively easy to make, just a bit messy. The cooking time, 6-7 hours, is the kicker for me. Being that it was after noon when I got it on to cook, I did 3/4 of the cooking time, let it cool and put it in the fridge to hold until Friday. I will finish out the cooking time then and get it canned.The corn is ever so close to being ready, most likely the middle of next week.
While the sauce was simmering I did a sheep check. Two lambs are having a really hard time and I made the decision to take them to the barn where I could give them a bit more attention. In the barn they can have grain and hay plus graze the backyard with no competition. I will also be able to offer support in the way of daily liquid vitamins.
It was another hot day. We here on the homestead are actually looking forward to winter!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Weekend Chores

Due to going "coastal" and working we are far behind. Thankfully hubby has picked up a large job( taking son with) but in doing that it is 6-7 days a week, pushing 12 hours a day. Ah yes.. things look a little neglected!
They did swing this weekend off and so we spent the weekend mowing, weeding and planting. The guys mowed and even with the two of them it takes close to 3 hours. Then there is the weed eating and blowing...
I attacked the flower beds in the front of the house and started towards the herb beds not quit finishing but they definitely look a little more respectable. Once they were finished mowing, we moved to the garden where we weeded and planted. I put in the late green beans, more basil and a few more cucumbers. Another partial basket of tomatoes were harvested along with a few peppers.
The garden is a strange thing for sure. Last year I was buried in peppers and eggplant and this year very few are to be had. The same with our grapes. Over a bushel last year and not even enough for jelly I don't think this go round. Our jelly stash is in sad shape to say the least and I will need to look for some alternative choices, blueberry and apple I think.
 Ah well, lessons learned. Put up more than you might need while you have it, you never know when there will be a crop failure.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Canning, Canning & More Canning

Much of the summer garden is starting to wane but the tomatoes are still producing great amounts. The last week or so I have put up 14 more pints of salsa and several more quarts of plain tomatoes. I was gifted with lots of cucumbers and added another 11 pints of pickles to our winter stash. I don't expect the first round of tomatoes to last much longer- maybe two more large pickings and I hope to get a round or two of spaghetti sauce from those. The okra is starting to bloom and the basil has finally started to get some size to it. So I look forward to fried okra and pesto in the near future. The late squash is already getting ready to bloom. The crowder peas are several inches tall and look good. Hopefully some more things will go in over the weekend and soon we will be planning the fall garden. Hard to believe!
The heat is still pretty wicked and though there has been rain around, we have only received just enough to keep us going. We did have one bad storm and lightning struck a tree just outside the house. A very large oak has a jagged gash from top to bottom. It will have to come down before long but will become firewood, so not all is lost. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Snake Whisperer

I was cleaning the kitchen while Luke and his girlfriend were walking his dog. He came flying in and said, "You have got to see this!" I put on my shoes and went to investigate. A black snake had gotten himself in quite a predicament. Across from the townhouse (remember, I am at the beach) the people that had done erosion control had left a roll of mesh netting partially rolled and not smoothed out. Said snake was caught in the netting. I squatted down to see what could be done. Don't touch him, Luke yelled. Well, I certainly couldn't leave him there. Go get me the scissors. You are kidding? Nope. Scissors please. He came back with the scissors and I started cutting him out. Snake was very ticked. MOM! you are going to get bitten and I will not take you to the hospital!! It's just a black snake.. Then I was given this lecture on how they could strike half the length of their body or some such and would still make you sick, I had kinda tuned him out. Anyway, I finally got him loose and tried to shoo him away. Luke was very agitated by now and kept telling me to get back. I really wanted the snake away from the netting but decided to leave well enough alone. To be quite honest, I wasn't sure if Luke was really concerned about my safety or embarrassed that the neighbors were watching out of their windows at the crazy lady saving the snake ;o)) You see, I don't have any of those to worry about at home, neighbors, I mean.
Later that afternoon I went to check on my new friend only to find he was back in the netting! Ugh. I went back for the scissors again. Luke was ready to strangle me. This time when I got him out I had a flag pole and managed to flip him down the bank. Mission accomplished!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Slicing Soap

We are totally out of soap and so Wednesday I made two double batches before running out of ingredients. Always seems to be that way, just when I get up to my arm pits making soap, I am shy one ingredient. This time it was olive oil. I made Rosemary Tea Tree and Patchouli this go round. I sliced what was made and left it to cure for a few weeks.
I also worked with the sheep since I am leaving to go to the coast tomorrow.(Again!) This time for Luke's orientation and hook up of phones and Internet. This long distance home owning is not so easy..
The lambs looked good but several adults needed to be wormed. This summer has been extremely hard on the flock. I am concerned for them. I have a few, that between the high heat and parasites, are having a rough time.
So tomorrow after baking and delivering I will be gone for a couple of days. Mom and hubby have the farm. I haven't been gone this much from here- ever. Things are showing neglect. Sigh. Once Luke is settled in a few weeks, I will certainly catch up.   

Monday, July 9, 2012

Canning Tomatoes

Today was a busy canning day. With buckets of tomatoes threatening to take over the kitchen, it was a must do chore. Not to mention we are down to one jar of plain tomatoes...
I got the early chores done, the milk strained and stored in the fridge. Before I could get started, I made a quick trip to band some horns on some goats I sold earlier in the Spring. My bad de-horning had reared it's ugly head and they had scurs popping up.
Once back home, I started peeling and chopping tomatoes. The romas were put in the dehydrator and all others went into the stock pot. Today's count was another 5 quarts. That bring the count to 13 quarts canned and 4 quarts frozen.
The pantry is starting to look full again!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Late Summer Garden

The late summer garden went in today. Or at least part of it. I had hoped to get some more green beans in and one last planting of potatoes but by noon with the heat I was done for. For some reason this year it bothers me more that it used to...sigh.
I did get 12 more Better Boy tomatoes planted along with about 15 or so basil plants. Doug planted 2 rows of crowder peas. We also planted 3 more varieties of squash and several hills of pickling cucumbers. More tomatoes were picked and I harvested the first of the Malabar spinach. The ground is still way to dry to do a lot of weeding but we are promised some this coming week. Fingers crossed we get some.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Another Sultry Saturday

An early morning in the kitchen. In addition to sourdough, I had several special orders to bake. By 9 a.m. I had 15 loaves baked and delivered. It was already 87* and I broke a sweat loading the truck.
Back home it was time to milk. I bypassed cleaning the kitchen, knowing all those dishes would be there when ever I got back and headed to the barn. I milked quickly and hurried back to the house to get it strained and cooled down. Those pots, jars and pails were added to the ever growing pile of dishes in the kitchen. Back to the barn where I scrubbed water tubs and filled with clean fresh water. Critters on that side tended I headed to the orchard side where the turkeys, chickens and sheep pasture are housed. Again, I scrubbed and filled water tubs and fed. I decided to check the sheep and unfortunately, most of the lambs looked in need of worming. I called them up with a bucket of grain. After some wrestling, all but three escapees were taken care of.
Next I headed to the garden, where as I expected, ripe tomatoes were bountiful. I picked a five gallon bucket and 2 peck baskets full. I knew today would be a salsa making day so I went ahead and harvested the onions and peppers that would be needed.
By now I felt as wilted as the poor zinnias looked that are growing at the corner of the garden, so I gathered the morning eggs and went to seek the cool refuge of the kitchen.
Before attacking the pile of dishes, I separated the tomatoes. I had a huge variety of sizes and colors. Red Zebras, Tigerella, Better Boy, Early Girl, Speckled Roman, Amish Paste, and Jaune Flammes lined the counter, looking like a tomato rainbow. Most will be combined in sauces, but the bright yellow/orange Jaune Flammes would be caramelized in the oven for topping pizzas and bread. They become incredibly sweet and delicious when roasted. I planned to freeze them for winter use, however pizza was on the menu for tomorrow, so some would be certainly be consumed right away. I sliced them in half, drizzled with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic and roasted them at 300* for a couple of hours. Once they were popped in the oven, I started a batch of fromage cheese. That would top our pizza tomorrow as well!
The kitchen was finally cleaned and a double batch of salsa sat simmering on the stove. I sterilized jars and finished canning it around 4:30, just in time to head back out for evening chores.
Jaune Flammes before...
And after! Yum!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Late Lambs!

I arrived home from work to discover these 2 little ewe lambs had been born today. These are the latest lambs we have ever had. They seem strong and healthy. I hope the summer heat is not going to be too hard on them. It would not have been my preference for to have them born this time of year but certainly my fault for not getting the ram out sooner. ;o)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Farm News

It has been quite a busy couple of weeks. The heat has been almost unbearable. Reaching 100*  plus on several days. The animals are holding their own but are visibly miserable. We are changing out water buckets several times a day and I have even moved the buckets closer to them by placing them under the shade trees so as to not have them go so far for a drink. Even the poor chickens are panting and holding their wings away from their body in an effort to cool themselves! Because of the heat, egg & milk production have dropped. The sheep are having difficulty with parasites, partly due to the stress from the prolonged heat wave.
Some of the garden is starting to suffer and we have lost several pepper plants. The tomatoes look like they may all come on at once due to the heat and drought and I am afraid we will be seeing red very soon...
We have harvested all of the potatoes and this year produced an astounding 10 bushels. A small amount of garlic is left to go, but the ground is so dry we are waiting for rain to finish up. Thus far about a bushel has been dug. The second corn crop is doing well and with the promise of some rain next week it should be a good harvest. The watermelons are loaded with blooms due to the attention of my husband. These are some seeds that date back to his grandfather's garden and he wants to add these to our ever growing stash of saved seed.

A 2 day trip was made to Wilmington to get Luke partially settled for school. While away Mom and Doug kept watch over the critters and she milked. Of course our first corn crop came in on the day we were slated to leave so she and my sister pulled and froze it. They were kind enough to share the harvest with us, though I did not expect it since I did not join in the shucking game!