Wednesday, July 30, 2014

It's a cool, cool summer

These last few mornings we have awakened to temps in the high 40's and low 50's. It IS JULY! Wow. Personally I love these temps. However, the garden is not liking it so much. Everything is slow to ripen. By now I should be elbow deep in tomato's and green beans. Nope, so far I have only put up 4 quarts of sauce and 9 pints of green beans.
I am going to go out this morning and pick what is out there before the rain, hoping there is enough to can. At least the potato's are doing quite well, so far. In the small garden I had planted 3 rows, 15 ft long earlier this year. Then I had forgotten to close the gate and the chickens went in and dug in the fresh turned soil. I had thought they tore up ALL of the potatoes, so I put 4 more rows in over at the big garden. Then I realized that 2 rows had survived. Well, I dug those potatoes up last week and yesterday. To my surprise... I harvested about 30 pounds from each 15 ft row! Oh, there are quite a few smaller ones, but we don't mind. We love green beans and taters with bacon and onion.
The other 4 rows I will leave in the ground for a few more weeks. Let em grow!! This little moth was in the chicken coop the other day. I am always amazed at the different patters on various moths and butterflies. Nature is quite amazing some times!
Then last week, I was surprised by this little critter, on the front porch!! I opened the door to see one of the barn cats crouched down ready to pounce... I looked down at my feet to see this sitting about 2 feet from me. We BOTH jumped! I made sure it was able to get back to the woods...this is it's only freebie pass. I am hoping the cats scared it enough to keep it in the woods, and out of the gardens.
As I walked pass the Harbor, I noticed that the grapes are starting to ripen. It won't be long now... delicious Concord grapes. Last year I harvested about a bushel. Looks like this year will be as good if not better. So, with the cool mornings and evenings, I have been thinking more and more about the firewood situation. Last year we went through 15 ricks! It was unseasonably cold last year and I don't pretend to know what this year will be, however time is of the essence. We need to get busy on this project, and FAST! Seems time is slipping away so fast...I need more time in the days here. So with that said, I am headed out the door to get this busy day started. We are expecting rain this afternoon and I have several small projects I would like to get done today. Are you "burning the candle at both ends" this time of year?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer is humming along.

It is hard to believe that we are in the middle of July already. Whew! The gardens are coming along pretty good. I picked a few tomato's already...and we had our first helping of fresh green beans the other night. oh boy....they were sooo good! Cucumbers are coming on great as well. I just LOVE fresh cucumbers. And, they couldn't have started coming on at a better time. The last week of July, and the first week of August, I will be working out at MUTC again. Us civilians will be injured from some sort of catastrophe, ie: tornado, dirty bombs etc. We will get wounds and dirt on us... put in areas of the base that have been "blown up" and then "rescued" by the military. We are supposed to "act" the best we can. Crying, screaming for help, begging for water or food or medical assistance. I really enjoy it. However, it will be hot...and we have to walk between 2 to 5 miles, carrying our back packs with our 3 changes of clothes, water shoes, bottles of water and our lunches. The company we work for supplies everything for us. I have to admit, I have been told I am pretty good. I can cry real tears when I need too. The pay isn't much to talk about, however these 8 days of work will pay for my winter hay, propane, getting the dog neutered and maybe a dinner out. I will be taking fresh cucumber slices to munch on while out in the field. I will most likely make a tomato and cucumber salad as well. It will make for some long days... doing chores and milking at 4:30 am so I can be there by 05:30. Then getting home at 6:30 ish and doing evening chores, milking, getting a shower, grabbing a bite to eat and off to bed. We will work 4 days, have a few days off, then work 4 more. This is going to be perfect since the tomato's will be coming ripe as well as the green beans. I will have a few days to get the canning done. Since Suzie lost her kid, she has been acting strange. Oh, I know she was mourning for a bit, but for the last 2 days she has not wanted to eat her feed. She is eating hay...and licking her baking soda...and drinking water. So, today I wormed them. Maybe the stress is causing a worm infestation. Could be the heat. Could be that she has Congested udders. I have been giving her messages of peppermint oil after each milking, and I gave her fresh mint a few times. The one side is all better but the left side is still pretty firm. Hoping I can get it worked out soon. I know it must be painful. My poor gal. The 7 little pigs are doing great. I just love to watch them run around in the pen, and push dirt with those tiny little noses. I haven't had time to work on their pen yet, and now we are getting rain. Much NEEDED rain! I need to keep my nose to the grindstone to keep up with everything here. I can do it... I will just imitate Thomas the Train.... I think I can, I think I can.... then after the growing season is over... I knew I could, I knew I could!!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Sad day on the 4th of July.

So, I headed out this morning to battle the chicken wire...but first.... morning chores... feeding, watering, opening pens and doors. On my way to the barn I stopped to pick an armload of tall weeds for the goats to munch on. As usual... Mini and Lulu met me with screams..... I drug them over to the fence for Abby and Suzie... where is Suzie? She didn't come out of the barn!?? My heart started racing.... I ran through the barn and there she was. In her stall.. with a still born buckling. I grabbed him up and tried to get him to breath...but he was long gone. Poor Suzie. She bawled all day. I had no idea she was even pregnant. She didn't get fat.... didn't bag up... no changes at all! My heart breaks for her. She stands in the corner, calling for her baby. Soft whimpers. I brought her to the stand and milked her out. Didn't get much as she is already trying to get Mastitis. I spent an hour with her this morning, talking to her, brushing her, messaging her bags and trying to get her some relief. Nope, this was not a good 4th. After she calmed down, I headed to my task of getting that chicken wire down. It took me most of the day but I did win that battle. I also took the roof off of the goose house and replaced it with corrugated metal roofing. I stopped several times to go check on Suzie and give her some much needed lovin, so it took me until 4:30. By the time I went out for evening feedings... Suzie was out in the yard. I feel better knowing she should be OK. It feels good to get two more tasks finished. Tomorrow, in between giving Suzie more lovin and messages.... I plan to clean the barn and put that on the garden around the tomato's, and hopefully work on the pigs fence some more. While I was in the garden this afternoon I had noticed a few tomato's that were just about ready to pick. It was hard to not pick them. I want them to ripen on the vine. I can't wait to bite into a warm, fresh tomato! So now I get to sit back and relax....shower done, coffee done, dinner done. *sigh*

This IS July..... right??? Yes, a good day for a battle!

I mean... I think it is...yeah, the 4th of July. Then WHY am I sitting here with a blanket wrapped up around me?? Because it is 54 degrees out there, THATS why!! Oh, I am NOT complaining.... trust me! Todays weather::::: Mostly sunny, 75 for a high! 75!! On the 4th of July!! The hubby took off every Friday this month. This means 3 day weekends all month. LOVE it! We will be able to get a few things caught up here..... at least that's the plan! Today, I am tearing out chicken wire. Oh, I am sure I will have my battle scars to show for it. Me and chicken wire go way, way back. I hate it.... it hates me. Oh, there was a time when we were " best of friends" You know, years ago, when we first started this adventure here on Heavens Door Acres. I mean, it is cheap... flexible.. and easy to cut. Who wouldn't like it? I have learned that this stuff is alive... and vengeful. You cut it.... it cuts you! Oh, and that's not bad enough. Once you start cutting it... the battle is on! From then on.. every time you walk near it... it will reach out from several feet and grab a hold of you. It will tangle into your hair, rip your clothing and skin and when predators come lurking around... just for revenge, it will seemingly just open up and let them in. Yes, chicken wire and I go way back.. from friends... to foe's. So today... I am tearing it out. Adios amigo! GONE! I will for sure return from this battle bloody and worn out, but I will be the victor! By the end of the day we will both be lying in a bloody heap I am sure. But I WILL WIN!! BWAHAhahahaha! We will be replacing it with my NEW friend... Welded wire. Take THAT predators!! So I leave you now... I need to prepare for the day. Folgers in my cup, my long denim leg trusty wire cutting pliers...yes.. I am preparing for the battle of the chicken wire! ( wish me luck)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Slowly.... canning starts.

As usual... the first part of the canning season for us is pickled beets! I always plant way to few... so when it comes canning time, I cherish every one I can get. 4 pints done... one eaten already, so 3 in the pantry. I have a few more pints to do today. I will need to get these started early since we have a threat of severe weather coming in this afternoon.
Charlotte has her little piggies out and about. They are laying out in the yard more than the hut now. I just love baby pigs. Watching them learn to push those tiny little noses into the mud.... scampering across their yard... I could watch them all day!
I haven't had time to work on the fence in a few days... this hot muggy weather has been perfect for things to grow...weeds! Why do weeds grow so fast!?? Speaking of "weeds" Last night I was picking the red clover from the edges of the garden fence, for the pigs when I came across this!
These are Plantain leaves. HUGH leaves! I have never seen them get so big. Plantain is a "new to me" plant that is really good for a person. Use the young leaves, the tender ones for a lot of different uses. Steep for a tea...crunch up a few and apply to bug bites, dry them and use them in soups or stews, add a few fresh leaves to your salad. I have been trying to learn about the uses of many leaves and such, many might consider weeds or useless. I will be drying the mint, plantain, blackberry leaves for a delicious tea. Dry them and store them in separate jars to keep them fresh for later use. Seems everything is really growing well this year. Our grapes are really putting on a show!
If I remember right, we planted these about 4 years ago. The hubby built the harbor for them to grow on. We are currently battling Birds Eye Rot on them. I was told I could spray them with an antifungal... however we do not use chemicals here. So, I am just trying to keep them open, and letting the sun take care of the fungus. It seems to be working so far. Several people tell me that I need to trim them back. " If you prune them right they will produce a LOT better for ya" Well, I don't prune them. For one, I don't know HOW to do it "right" and I don't want to take the chance of cutting off the wrong areas, and for two, I really don't have the time. So, we let them grow " Natural " Last year I picked about 2 bushels fro this little Harbor. I think they are doing just fine without pruning. The garden seems to be coming right along. Cucumbers about the size of my index finger. ( SO EXCITED about that, I drool when I walk past them) The potato's seem to be doing great. They grew, I covered, they grew more, I covered they are blooming and setting on their "fruit" The tomato plants are at least 5 ft tall now, just loaded with green tomato's. It won't be long until I will be elbow deep in pasta sauces. The green beans are blooming...should be canning them in a few weeks. We still have about 30 pints of green beans in the pantry. I am excited to know...I canned plenty last year to get us through. Same with the corn, still 15 or so pints in there. The onions are just starting to grow bulbs. They are only about the size of a bantam chicken egg. I know I didn't plant enough to get us through winter... next year I will triple the amount I planted this year. Towards the end of July, I will be working just over a week out at the military training base. Only 8 days of work will net enough to buy winter hay, do a tune up on the tractor, new shocks for my truck and possibly brakes as well. Well, it is almost 8 am here, I need to get outside and get started before the bad weather gets here. I hope your gardens and critters are growing and prospering for you. Lets get out there and get busy! Before we know it, the snow will be flying again...and we will be breaking ice in water troughs. *sigh* Time seems to be flying so fast. Busy, busy, busy!