Friday, July 21, 2017

Stayin' Cool, Man, Cool - Or At Least Trying

It was very hot and humid here yesterday hitting 90 degrees in the sun.  The humidity, as always, made it more uncomfortable than the temperature.  We made the decision early in the day to save ourselves from melting into sweaty puddles (great visual, huh?) by staying inside as much as we could.

Papa Pea did all the normal morning chores while I harvested six more heads of cauliflower which were not as badly tinged with off-color as the first six.  Then I tied (securely and adequately, I hope) the leaves up around the newly forming heads in my second bed of that vegetable hoping these would remain snowy white.  I'm not even sure these will mature properly as cauliflower likes cool weather in which to grow, and we seem to finally be into real summer time around here.

When I got the processing done from the harvest and a few other daily tasks that refuse to go away unless tended to, it was 3 p.m. and I headed into my quilt room for some fabric therapy which was good.  Except I ended up with a headache that continues this morning.  (Coffee!  More coffee!)  I have a suspicion the heavy, humid air that is still with us may have something to do with that.  (And I don't think I drank enough water yesterday.)

It's a disappointment to wake to heavy, gray, overcast, uncomfortably warm weather this morning, because the forecast was for full sunshine, cooler than yesterday.  I had a big garden day planned.  Lots of weeds popping up out there, plants getting so big they need some support, old plants needing to be pulled and something else planted in the space, etc.  This weather encourages the biting insects (a pox on them!) to be bad early and late in the day so that doesn't encourage me to get out there and work in the garden before the heat of the day arrives full force.  But, hey, it's summer time!

I need to get some pictures of the menagerie in the poultry yard.  The Muscovy ducks have been quite successful in hatching out broods of ducklings, and we have wind-up toys of all sizes scooting around.  The mature birds (ducks, geese and chickens) seem to fluctuate between ignoring the wee ones or wondering what all these little creatures bumping into them and zipping through their legs are.  Happily, it's a peaceable kingdom and everyone has free range (within the fenced in poultry pasture) and their own secure, locked-down "house" to go into each night. 

I'll try to get pictures for the next update.  Hope you all have a great Friday and weekend which is coming up fast!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Do You Use Scallions?

A scallion or green onion is a regular storage onion that is harvested when the white or underground part is still long and narrow, before the bulb starts to form.


I love them and each year make sure I have enough onion sets to plant some to use specifically as scallions throughout the summer months.

To me, they have a fresher, sweeter and milder flavor than a regular onion, although they can be pungent.  I suspect this might happen because of slightly unfavorable growing conditions such as too little water being available while they're developing.


The green stalks can be chopped and used, as well as the white part, lending a lot of color to many dishes.  Chop them and add to tossed salads, they add flavor and color to cold pasta salads or a potato salad, use them as a garnish, put then in with cooked greens or on a raw veggie tray with dip.  We like them chopped over a small dish of homemade cottage cheese with some salt and pepper.  Mmmm, good.  The possibilities are endless.  Matter of fact, at this time of year, my storage onions from last season have usually disappeared (been used up) so I use scallions for all my onion cooking needs until the fall harvest of the new storage onions.

My parents didn't garden when I was growing up, but my grandpa had a huge garden and kept us supplied with various vegetables all summer long.  He brought us scallions, or green onions as he called them, and my mom would serve them whole almost as a second vegetable at meal time.  My dad loved them, would add salt and munch happily away on several of them.

Of course, ones straight out of your garden are tastier than ones purchased in the store.  They take up little space to grow and you can make succession plantings of them so they're available all summer long.

Do you use scallions?  If not, why not try 'em?  I'm betting you'll like 'em!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Bringin' in the Mint

I'm keeping the dehydrator cranked up these days.  After the fruit leather came out, another batch of mint leaves went in.  They dry really fast, only about three hours at 110 degrees.


I'd been crushing the dried leaves with my hands, but thought of using the rolling pin yesterday morning.  Works much faster (duh!), but I have to be careful not to pulverize the devil out of the leaves using this handy tool.  Otherwise, I quickly end up with mint powder.

Collecting and laying out the mint leaves on the dehydrator trays is kind of time consuming, but I'm not married to a stupid man.  He keeps exclaiming how much better "my mint" makes his daily cup of tea compared to "store bought."

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

More Garden Produce, Some Wins/Some Losses

Sunday I harvested three more heads of broccoli which were quickly cut up, blanched and put in the freezer.  Best thing about them?  No worms caused by the nasty cabbage moth!   (Score one for our side.)

 I also harvested the first six heads of cauliflower.


And it wasn't a pretty sight.  One head was a lovely snowy white (front row on the right) but the others were tinged with the purple-ish/brown color caused by sunlight sneaking in through the leaves that I thought were protecting the heads.  The good news is that when I blanched the cauliflower prior to freezing, most of the off-color disappeared.  What a great improvement and made me a lot happier to know it would look so much better on the plate. 

I ended up with fourteen servings (a serving being enough for both of us) put by and ready for this winter's enjoyment.  I also saved out enough for us to have cauliflower as our vegetable with dinner that night and am glad to report it was delicious.

That same day the dehydrator got filled with seven trays of strawberry fruit leather and one tray of experimental haskap berry fruit leather.  As expected, the strawberry leather was a success and is stashed away for a treat when out and about hiking, or snowshoeing or skiing this winter.  The flavor is very much like fresh strawberries, and I predict it's gonna be gobbled up.

The tray of haskap berry leather we could. not. get. to. dry.  Finally it dawned on us (yes, we're sometimes a little slow getting the ol' brain cells in working order) that it would never dehydrate or dry properly because we put in more honey (to make the sour berries palatable) than a "normal" fruit leather recipe would call for.  Apparently, the amount of honey to fruit can't exceed a certain ratio and still make fruit leather of the proper texture.  Papa Pea salvaged it by peeling it off (with great difficulty) the parchment paper which covered the stainless steel dehydrator tray, rolling it up into small cylindrical balls and storing it in the refridge in a glass container.  

By the by, the flavor with the added honey made the haskaps taste not bad at all.  That's not to say I've been converted to a haskap berry fan yet.  I'm thinking a lot more experimenting with them needs to be done before I reach that point.  Or the bushes get yanked out.  One or the other.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A True Summer's Day

Mother Nature must have gotten tired of hearing all my whining about needing warmth and sunshine for the garden.  This may be the only day of it we'll get this summer (!), but warm it was!  I think we must have hit 90 degrees in the garden because the thermometer on the north side of the house in the shade read 79.8 degrees.  It felt like an oven out there, but it may have been just what the garden needed.


I took a couple of pictures from Papa Pea's upstairs office window to give you an overview of some of our growing areas.  Above are the 26 raised beds, although a couple are hidden by the cold frames.


Over to the right a smidge is the field garden.  That bare looking spot with the bit of greenery in the middle is my pumpkin patch.  We've been talking for a couple of years of plowing up more area for the field garden as I don't have as much room as I'd like for rotation of crops each year.  

The strawberries are coming on so hot (really hot today!) and heavy, hubby has suggested we take out about half of them.  This is just the third year for the three varieties I've planted (only the second year we could harvest them) so I want to keep track of quantities and flavor for at least another year before eliminating any of them.


Our three haskap bushes have really sized up.  That's the three of them with three rows of blueberries (hiding) and the raspberries behind them.  I think they're lovely and would even be attractive for landscaping.


And the quantity of berries is heavy this year.  But most importantly, how do they taste?  Awful, just awful.  I've been talking with someone who's had experience with them for several years and he tells me I have to find the right variety for our location in order to get berries that aren't so sour they make my eyes cross and ears wiggle.  Papa Pea seems to think the berries might make good wine.  But who the heck around here has time to learn how to make wine?  Not me.  Nope, I'm not taking on one more new project until I have so much time to spend in my quilt room that I'm bored.  (Tee-hee, won't ever happen.)

Dear husband helped me pick the strawberries today in that blazing heat.  Some of them are currently in the dehydrator in the form of (experimental) fruit leather.  Some made it into a Strawberry Cream Pie.  I sliced up some for fresh eating.  Depending on how the fruit leather turns out, I may make more tomorrow or I'm thinking of trying strawberry juice for the first time.

Tomorrow I have three more heads of broccoli ready and I'm not sure how many heads of cauliflower to harvest and prep for the freezer.  The haskap berries may get picked, too.  (Raise your hand if I can send you the whole batch of them.)

We actually took the day off yesterday.  Yep, we did.  We did only the necessary chores, spent a leisurely morning sipping liquids and reading in the living room.  It was so nice to do that at a time of day when we both weren't yawning and falling asleep.

In the afternoon, we took a ride to a lake neither of us knew much about and learned the lay of the land there.  We checked out the public landing (and a very nice one it was) where it would be easy to launch either our sport boat with motor or canoe to spend a day puttering around the lake.  Actually being as big as the lake is, it might take us more than one day to adequately explore it.

While we were standing on the nice dock that went out into the lake, down the shore we spotted a buck deer come out of the woods and wade out into the lake.  He meandered along the shore line for a while sometimes going into the water so far it was up to his belly.  We'd never seen a deer in the water like that.  A moose, yes, but never a deer.

Busy day again today, and with the heat we're not used to, I'm drained.  I don't even have the oompf to go into my quilt room tonight.  It's a shower first and then I'm hitting the couch.  Y-a-a-w-w-w-n!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

More Garden Talk

Remember how I said I thought planting the cauliflower so close together would enable it to be "self-blanching?"  Well, yes and no.

As I found out this morning, those little heads are quickly becoming big heads . . . and literally pushing the leaves out of the way.  This has caused the sun to be able to hit some of the heads which in turn causes a purple-ish tinge to the desired snow white appearance of the heads.  From what I've read, this bit of coloration does the cauliflower no harm.  It's not a disease, fungus or pest, but rather is caused by a natural occurring substance called anthocyanin which is exacerbated by exposure to the sun.  So I spent a bit of time using clothes pins to secure the leaves up and over the growing heads hoping that will at least prevent any more purple coloring to take place.  (Gee golly, you really have to keep on your toes, don't cha?)

Now for some pictures.


Gotta say our potatoes are looking better this year than I can remember.  Very lush plants that are just starting to blossom.


The asparagus has been left now to develop into ferns which are already over 7' tall.  Papa Pea is cursing the spot we chose for the asparagus because the ferns block the view from the house of vehicles coming up our driveway before they enter the yard area.  Oops.

Oh, how I love Sweet Pea flowers.  Oh, how slowly they always grow.  Each year at this point when the vines aren't more than a foot of the way up their trellis, I despair of ever having the fragrant blooms to bring into the house.  (I know, patience, patience.  I must exercise patience.)


The sugar snap peas are just starting to blossom as are the shell peas.  Usually the snap peas are a couple of weeks ahead of the shell peas, but not this year.  Hunh.


The beets are looking good compared to last year when the greens never grew much more than four or five inches tall and the beets themselves were only fair to middlin'.  I have had trouble getting my beet seeds to germinate this year as you can see by the bare spot (which actually has tiny sprouts coming up after replanting twice) on the end of the row closest to the camera.


Not sure it's very clear in this picture, but I planted a row of purple carrots (the ones that are dark purple all the way through) on each outside end of this raised bed.  Almost from the get-go, they were about a third taller than my regular Scarlet Nantes variety which makes up the rest of the planted carrots.  Curious.


Onions, as always, do really well for me.  This is one of three beds I planted this year.


Sweet peppers are finally putting on some size and have many blossom buds.  And, yes, I still shut them up in their cold frame "nursery" each night and keep the cold frame closed on cooler days.


I've taken two cuttings from my mint bed which has yielded a total of approximately 4-3/4 cups of dried mint.  The plants are still not filling out the bed as I'm hoping they will.  Eventually.  I hope.


Papa Pea has finished thinning the apples on all our apple trees.  These shown are on our new dwarf trees and are nearly the size of a ping pong ball.

Those apples (strangely enough) are about twice as big as the ones on our older semi-dwarf trees.  I'm campaigning to cut down the older trees and replant more dwarf apple trees and some cherry, apricot and peach trees.  Perhaps even try some nut trees that will grow in our area.


Made another nice harvest of strawberries this morning.  Total haul was 16 pounds and 3 ounces.  I'm still keeping the three varieties we have separate to see how they compare at the end of the season.

Also brought in three more heads of broccoli for a total so far this year of four heads.  We ate the first one but these current three went to Freezer Camp.  Yay! 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Peek in the Garden

You wouldn't think the garden needed any more rain than the frequent amounts of precipitation we've been getting quite regularly, but the thunderstorm that dropped an 1-1/2" of torrential rain (in about 10 minutes) on us this past Thursday seems to have given the plants a huge boost.


I harvested our first broccoli (the one pictured above) yesterday, and we had it for dinner last night with roast beef hash.  So good!  This head wasn't as nicely formed as the others growing nearby are, but it needed to be picked.


A couple of weeks ago I mentioned I was having trouble with chipmunks eating the blossoms off all my pansies.  That problem was solved with the (ahem) relocation (ahem) of thirteen chipmunks.  Now we've got a red squirrel (or seven) who munches on the leaves of my begonias in the window boxes.  What's lacking in his diet that he feels the need to dine on my begonias? 


There are quite a few blossoms on my cherry tomatoes.  I'm really eager to have the red, little nuggets as an addition to our daily great big bowls of salad.   The leaves on this plant look dirty because I just staked it up yesterday after it was pounded into the mud by that thunderstorm that rolled through.


I put this wooden arbor trellis in one of our raised beds and planted my pie pumpkins on either side of it.  (I'm embarrassed our grass is so long and untidy but having so much rain makes it difficult to find a time to cut it when it's not soaking wet.)


The idea is for the vines to grow up either side and over the top.  I'm sure they'll need a little encouragement (bondage?) to start their climb when they get a little bigger.


I may have inadvertently done a good thing.  ('Smagine that!?)  This jumble of huge leaves in the raised bed (picture shot diagonally between the two cold frames) shown above is cauliflower.

Year before last I had a great crop of cauliflower, but tying the leaves up and over the heads to encourage nice head formation is a bit of a pain.  So last year I found an heirloom seed for "self-blanching cauliflower."  It may have been just a bad year for cauliflower (or who-knows-what), but each and every cauliflower went to see on me before forming a decent head.  No harvest at all.

I jettisoned that seed and planted my old stand-by again this year.  And I planted very intensively.  Maybe too intensively.  I was sure I'd put the plants so close together that they would never have a chance to develop.  However (ta-dah!), the plants have grown to be so lush and healthy that the leaves are totally "self-blanching" the heads themselves without any intervention from me.  Super!  I'm looking forward to what looks to be a good crop in the not-too-distant future.  Once again:  In gardening there are no failures, only experiments!


Lastly, I made our second real picking of strawberries yesterday.  Thirteen pounds of huge, sweet, juicy berries we've been eating by the bowlful.  And in smoothies.  And freezing for use after the season ends.  Yum!  Jam is next on the list.

Yes, our season is much slower and later than most of yours, but with patience (of which my dear husband will tell you I have very little) we do get results.  Most of the time.
 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Back in the Saddle?

Well, at least I'm trying to find a stepping block that will get me back into the saddle of regular blogging.

I have my computer back up and operating which is a big relief after the ups and downs of the past month.  Seems we've found a good, honest, fair, easy-to-deal-with computer guy whom we are now calling our new best friend.  The first computer "guru" we dealt with charged us three times as much as this second one but didn't do anything to solve the problems I was having.  So it goes.  I just feel very happy to have found someone else we can rely upon when computer glitches pop up that can't be taken care of "in house."

Being without my computer has given me the time to get completely caught up on my whole list of summer tasks.  Hahahohohoheeheehahaha!  Summer time and the livin' is easy.  Well, yes, but because of so many things we want to do, both work and recreation related, that simply can't be done in other times of the year up here in our neck o' the woods, it tends to make it all on the frantic side.  Keeps us hoppin', that's for sure.

I want to give my garden some press time here on the blog.  And I promise to gather some pictures to post soon.  Yesterday, I made my first real harvest of strawberries. 


The total haul was four and three-quarter pounds of sweet, juicy, lusciousness.  We ate a few, shared a few and had strawberries and cream for breakfast this morning.  Only two of our three varieties are producing so far with the heaviest yielding variety (Cavendish) of last year still to start.  I can hardly wait for the first Strawberry Cream Pie, and I've promised to make a Strawberry-Rhubarb pie for Papa Pea this year.

Our regular rains continue with a couple of heavy thunderstorms rolling through last night.  Our grass is so long we might have to bale it when it dries enough for chopping it down.  Right now it's solidly covered with white clover which our bees are loving.

Our little tourist town is full, full, FULL of vacationers so I try to get in and out as early as possible when it's necessary.

I've missed you all (very much!) during this past month of periods without connection to the Internet and am trying to get caught back up.  So now, into that saddle and . . . giddy-up!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

#%^*!!

Just a short post this morning to say I'm having the same blinkety-blank problem with my computer as when it was "fixed" (ha!) ten days ago, so if I drop out of sight soon, don't worry about me as I will be fine -- my computer may not be.

In the meantime, I'll keep on keeping on as we've all recently said we must!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Spare Time

Our days are busy and full around here.  Although Papa Pea and I are both home most of the time, we actually don't see a lot of each other during the day as we've both got our own separate responsibilities and chores on which to focus.

We have breakfast together to start the day, touch base at lunch time, and then again at dinner.  After that last meal, we're both off in different directions to tie up the ends of whatever we've been working on that day.

If all goes well, we end our day in the living room catching up on what's been happening and discussing the plan for the next day.  I'm settled on the couch with either some kind of handwork or a book (usually a novel), and you'll find Papa Pea most often going through old files of his, reading, tossing, or updating (doing this was a big goal for this past winter, but it seems to have seeped over into this summer, too) or reading.  He's a voracious reader in his quest to gather knowledge, learn and satisfy his innate curiosity.


It takes about fifteen minutes (sometimes considerably less) for one of us to start yawning (which, as you know, is highly contagious).  In my case, these huge, uncontrollable yawns cause my eyes to go blurry, then tears start running down my face with each succeeding jaw-cracking yawn.  (It's so bad I actually have to keep kleenex in my robe pocket for mopping up.)

Nine times out of ten, I'm the first one to say I cannot keep my eyes open one more minute, I say good night and shuffle on back to the bedroom.

I tell ya, it's an exciting life we lead around here.  And goes to prove that at least for us, once we stop moving, it's all over. ZZZZ-zzzz-zzz . . .

However, all that being said, I do have proof that a few minutes spent each night sometimes produces results.


This is a soft, soft, oh-so-soft knitted baby blanket I recently finished.  The yarn is machine washable (a must, I think, for a baby blanket that will be used).  It's that chenille-type yarn that's on the market now.  I knit it in a simple basket weave pattern and it turned out a bit larger than I had envisioned.  (But that's what happens when you don't have a pattern and wing it.)  It's more of a crib-size blanket, I think, measuring about 32" wide and 40" long.


So often when I give a baby quilt or blanket to a newborn, there's a two or three-year old sibling that I like to have something for so he/she doesn't feel left out.  I found a pattern for these little knit "kittens" that were fun to make.  Only about 7" tall, soft and easy for little hands to grasp.  I fiddled around with different embroidered yarn faces for them but couldn't come up with one I liked so decided they would be "Amish kittens" with blank faces!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Aging? Who's Aging?

Truth be told, like it or lump it, we all are.

Susan, at e-i-e-i-omg!, using her usual great sense of humor, wrote about the old age bugaboo in a recent post.  She hit the button right on the head and has inadvertently encouraged me to put forth my current feelings on the subject.


In our living room, we have a good-sized mirror over the couch.  The placement of this mirror was not intended for vanity purposes but rather in an effort to fool ourselves into thinking our tiny living room is bigger than it actually is. 

Nonetheless, every time I pass through this area, which is several times a day, I involuntarily find myself glancing in the mirror.  Bad idea.

"Arrrgh," I groan inwardly (and occasionally outwardly) each time my eyes are drawn to my passing image.  Unlike most women who find themselves looking more and more like their mother, I see my father's face looking back at me.  Even though my father was a good-looking man, the first person who says I'm beginning to look just like him may get decked.

Age . . . what is age?  I can easily remember many years ago sitting on my grandmother's lap and asking her how old she was. 

"I'm 56," she replied.  Good gosh, that seemed old.  EL-derly.  Ancient.

Personally, I was never bothered stating my chronological age . . . until I hit the big 7-0.  Now that just sounded old.  Still, I've been fortunate to be in super-duper physical shape and to not feel "old" as I hear many folks professing at the time they hit that milestone.

My mental age blissfully remains somewhere in my late 30s.  I only wish the appearance of my physical body would retain that message.

In the past year (I turned 70 plus 4 this past spring), I've noticed big changes in this temple of a body of mine.

My skin texture is changing.  (I've yet to delve into those ads for eradicating crepey-looking skin, but still.)  I'm beginning to fear this unsightly pooch of tummy fat is going to stick with me forever.  Are the knuckles on my hands growing bigger every day or is it just my imagination?  The aches I experience during the first two weeks of garden work every year have now expanded to two months . . . and counting.  Up until this past year, when I stood with my legs together, the tops of my thighs didn't touch each other.  Not anymore.  From where did that ugly flab come?

Maya Angelou once said (and I'm sure I'm paraphrasing here), "My breasts seem to be in a race to see which one can reach my waistline first.  So far the left one is winning."

I must remember that with aging comes wisdom.  So as my physical body slides into slothdom, it surely means my brain cells are becoming sharp as ticks.

I mean tucks.

No, tacks.  Tacks!  Yes, that's the word I meant to say.

Friday, June 23, 2017

How Does Your Garden Grow?

In my case, very slowly.  Our cool, wet June weather without much warmth or sunshine is keeping everything in the garden from taking off as I wish it would.


I hilled our potatoes for the first time yesterday, June 22nd.  Last year I hilled them for the second and last time on June 25th.  In the picture above, the row on the right is done, the one in the middle is half done, and the row on the left hasn't been worked on at all.


This is the third year of our asparagus which means we could harvest spears for a one month period which ended a week ago yesterday.  So now we're letting the spears go to ferns to feed the roots for next year.  We didn't have enough asparagus to freeze this year as we ate it nearly every day and shared some with others.  It was delish and enjoyed to the utmost.


You'd think our weather would be conducive to peas growing well, but it seems to me that neither the sugar snap peas (above on trellis) are as far along as they should be, nor are the shell peas (below).


These guys germinated really well, grew about five or six inches high . . . and are on hold at that point.


My Brussels sprouts are doing well.  Looking healthy, but not very tall yet.


The yellow and green beans are complaining it's been a little on the cool side for their liking.  Although they did germinate, they're not looking very healthy or vibrant right now.


Everyone warns to be careful where you plant mint as it will spread and take over your acreage.  I'd like it to just take over this bed.  But that's not happening with any speed.  It came up kinda spotty this year and you can see the far end of the bed had nothing in it until I put in two new plants.  Come on you little mint plants.  Purchasing a year's worth of peppermint for Papa Pea's daily morning mug of tea is expensive!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sawdust in My Shoes

We're into serious "putting up wood" mode around here these days.


Papa Pea put in many, many hours with his chainsaw cutting the remaining stack of 16' long lengths of hard maple wood into these chunks ready for splitting.  All the wood was solid and heavy with a capital "H."  What a job!

Our yearly goal is to have our heating wood cut, split and stacked in the shed by the end of April.  That may be slightly unrealistic as our wood working area is at the foot of a portion of our land that rises at a pretty good angle behind us and therefore remains damp (if not downright wet) sometimes well into spring. 

At any rate, we're late in getting the job done this year, but if we push along now and get the wood split and under cover, it will still be dried and in good shape for this coming heating season.

We won't know for certain until we work through all of this huge pile, but we're fairly confident it will amount to a lot more than we'll have to burn this coming winter.  And it's always a good feeling to be ahead of the game when it comes to wood put by.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

While I Was MIA . . .

Here's to share a couple of things that have been happening around our little homestead while I was unable to post.

On June 10th we had a swarm from one of our honey bee hives.  Swarms don't occur every year and this one was unusual in that it happened early in the season.  Papa Pea happened to be out in the yard when he saw the huge cluster of bees in the air in front of the hive right before they took off.

Lucky us, they landed in a small apple tree in the poultry yard where the attempted (and successful) capture could easily be engineered.


If you look closely, you can see the clump of bees in the tree above the stand set up to hold the hive box. 



Papa Pea getting ready to get the bees to drop into the readied box.


A good hard downward shake . . .



. . . and the clump dropped with most of the bees landing on the box.



Good job, Mr. Beekeeper!

So far, the bees seem very happy in their new home and are doing well.



The garden bed of mixed salad greens is coming on fast and strong.  (Radishes, too.)  This is a picture of the very first harvest.  They're oh-so-tasty and we're into our summer routine of a big salad nearly every day now.

On June 15th, another one of our Muscovy female ducks (who made her nest in a nest box in the chicken house) hatched out 10 little ducklings . . . and two chicks.


Here the ducklings are only a day old.

The chicks entered the world earlier than the ducklings (shorter incubation period) and were either kicked out of the nest by Mama Duck or jumped out.  These two have decided another broody hen (chicken) in the house is their mother and have been happily scampering around in the chicken house often seen snuggled on top of the expectant chicken mother who is still sitting on her clutch of eggs.  The hen seems to have adopted them even though she continues to wait for her own brood to hatch.



This newest duck family has been moved to their own little hut where they'll stay until the ducklings are a bit bigger and ready to be introduced to the great out-of-doors with their mother to guide them into the ways of the poultry yard.

Our June weather has still been very cool and wet.  Seems we get rained on at least twice a day even though we've not had any great accumulation.  

The no-see'ums are simply awful this year.  We have to suit up in our bug shirts each night when we go out to close up.  Even so, a couple of nights ago, I got 5 bites on my head and face.  I can only assume they somehow made their way up under my shirt to torment me.  Seems unlikely but it happened and I was not happy.  Oh well, could be worse.  We do have periods during the day when the vicious creatures seem to be napping (or planning their strategy for another attack), and it's possible to work outside without a full set of armor on for protection.  One of these days, their cycle will be over and we'll be free of them.  (Can I count on that?)

More catch-up to come in the next post.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Things I Learned While My Computer Was Hospitalized

~  I have been using the computer to procrastinate.  My daily list of Things To Do is long and (often seems) endless.  In the past, I've found that when I look at said list, and perhaps even after managing to cross one item off, the rest of the list looks so daunting that I don't have the oompf or enthusiasm or impetus to start another project.  So, in a moment (several times a day) of out-and-out avoidance, I tritz on back to my computer here in the bedroom "just to check" my e-mail or read someone's new blog post or look something up before starting another task of the day.  (Yeah, right.)

~  And as far as "looking something up" on the computer, during the past ten days when I've been computerless, I've been amazed at how often I do use the computer to check on a gardening question, find a recipe, look up info on a particular author, etc., etc.  Not at all a bad tool to have at one's fingertips.

~  These past mornings when I've not had my computer available, I have no desire for my morning latte. Nope, don't miss it and don't desire it at all.  Also, it's become quite evident that trying to "wake up" first thing in the morning in front of the computer with a cup of caffeine is not good for my system.  It keeps me in a state of semi-consciousness and encourages lethargy.  I'm much better off and have a better start to my day if I get up, move (!) and begin my day in a more active way.

~  I've missed documenting (keeping track of) our everyday activities, happenings, and events because of not being able to blog. 

~  Because I couldn't download them into my computer, I've not taken pictures I now wish I had taken.  (Not sure that makes much sense, but it is what it is.)

~  I have missed the encouraging and supportive connection to other like-minded folks out there in the world.  There aren't a lot of people living our type life or doing what we're doing in our area.

~  I have missed the convenience and simplicity of placing orders on the Internet.  I currently have a list here on my desk of "Things I Need to Order When I Have My Computer Back."

~  Perhaps most of all, I've found I really, really, really miss communicating with and reading blog postings of all you dear people who have become friends because of having a computer.

 

Monday, June 12, 2017

ARRRGH!

My computer has died a slow, painful death over the last several days.  At times I could get it to work for perhaps a 5 minute stint before it flopped onto its back with feet sticking straight up in the air with all functions frozen, and I had to do a "hard" shut down which my daughter said was not a good thing.

At the present time it is in computer hospital and, with luck, will return home (hopefully) in not too long a period and be back in working order.  (And please, please without too much of a repair bill, if that's at all possible.)

In the meantime, I am thinking of all of you but am unable to make new posts (daughter has me hooked up to a "foreign" machine to type this update), read your posts, comment on them or receive or answer any e-mails.

I'm having to sheepishly admit being unable to use my computer on a regular basis had caused me to wonder if it is a bad . . . or good thing.  For someone who thinks they don't spend much time on the computer, I've been made aware that I spend many short periods during a day's time with my fingers on the keyboard and eyes on the screen.

So have no fear I've passed out in the garden and the cucumber vines have nearly covered my prone form.  My absence is just one of those computer "problems" that we all experience from time to time. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Asparagus: Does Size Matter?

A blogging buddy recently commented that some homegrown asparagus she's seen doesn't look much like the slender, uniform sized bundles for sale in stores.  So, does asparagus grow in different sizes both in girth and length?

Yep, sure does.


The different sizes of spears may be hard to distinguish in this shot of one of the asparagus rows in my garden, but some spears are thin and slender, others are fat and thick. 


This is a thick spear before harvesting.


Here are a few spears of the batch of asparagus I just harvested.   There was a great variety of sizes and shapes, both in width and length.  (The longest one shown here measured 19" long.)


These three were the fattest or thickest.

Of the spears I've harvested this year, all of them (no matter size or shape) have been tender and delicious.


Before using a spear, I start at the cut end and press a sharp knife lightly into the spear as if to cut off a piece.  An inch or two (sometimes more) nearest the cut end will feel woody and tough.  I progress with my knife testing up the spear until I reach a spot where the knife blade easily starts to cut into the spear and that's the point from which I start taking the cut pieces to use.

So, no, when it comes to the thickness of the spears that may grow in your garden, size does not matter.

Having said all this, I have no idea where those uniformly sized bundles of asparagus for sale in stores come from.  Well, okay, they come from large, commercial asparagus patches.  But what happens to the bigger or smaller stalks, the misshapen ones?  Commercially prepared Cream of Asparagus soup, anyone?