End of the Cucumbers

As I mentioned in previous posts it was a stellar year for growing cucumbers. I lost track of how many jars of various of pickles I canned. The cucumber plants did stop producing and the vines dried up, so my husband has pulled them out and added them to the compost pile.

We gave cucumbers to family, friends and neighbors – pretty much anyone who we came in contact with was a least offered some cucumbers. I guess by early this week we had also had our fill of fresh cucumbers since there were four cucumbers that had been sitting in the refrigerator for several days and neither my husband nor I had offered up any suggestions on what we should do with them.

On Wednesday it occurred to me, I hadn’t saved any cucumber for one of my favorite soap recipes. That’s right – soap. I created this recipe several years ago. It contains cucumber and yogurt and has rosemary infused into the olive oil. Since many of the ingredients might be found in a salad, I named it Salad Bar (as in bar of soap). Don’t Eat It!

I pureed those last four cucumbers and put the puree in the freezer until I have time to turn it into soap.

If anyone is interested in this soap recipe leave me a comment and I will post it for you.

Thanks for visiting.

More Canning

Hello and welcome.

Last week’s canning and preserving efforts resulted in 14 quarts of tomato juice, 7 pints of pickled banana peppers and 6 half pints of ketchup. We dehydrated another batch of potatoes and a batch of eggplant. I also put about 6 gallon-size bags of tomatoes in the freezer because I just didn’t have time to can them. They will keep well there until I get around to them.

Cooking Ketchup

For the pickled peppers and the ketchup, I used recipes from the Ball Blue Book. We haven’t tasted the peppers yet, but my husband says he never wants to eat store bought ketchup again.

There are still tomatoes ripening and this week’s tomato canning efforts (juice and ketchup) are underway. So, if you’re looking for me, I’ll likely be in the kitchen. 🙂

Until next time be well.

Do you like ketchup? What is your favorite condiment?

A Summer Evening at the Farm

Tuesday evening as we headed to the farm I didn’t really have a plan as to what I was going to accomplish. I knew there were things that need to be done, like cutting some grass, weeding in the prayer garden and cleaning garlic, but I didn’t feel an urgent need to get any of those things done.

So, I took the evening off and just enjoyed being at the farm on a beautiful summer evening. It was a great time for picture taking so grab your favorite beverage and join me.

*For anyone who is burned out on nature pictures you can play a game as you read ” Count the tennis Balls” let me know in the comments how many tennis balls you saw in the pictures. *

As we arrived at the farm shortly after 6:00 P.M. the first order of business was to feed the chickens the kitchen scraps we had collected throughout the day. As usual Ruby had to sniff though the goodies to see what she might like. Since it was mostly watermelon rinds and peach peels (I canned peaches that morning), I’m not sure if she actually found anything good to eat.

The weather is still very summerlike but there is a feel that fall is fast approaching. Late summer/fall flowers, like these black-eyed-Susans and purple loosestrife, are in bloom.

The hibiscus are beautiful this year.

I’ve been waiting all summer for these volunteer cosmos to blossom. I am reminded of my maternal grandma, who loved these flowers.

I’ve also been waiting for the opportunity to photograph a dragonfly. As I wandered through the prayer garden, this one posed on a lily leaf to oblige me.

The balloon flowers continue to blossom, but I think I need to add deadheading them to my to-do list to keep them flowering longer.

After photographing the balloon flower, I looked toward the beach and was pleasantly surprised to see our green heron. Long time followers might remember that each year in late summer we begin seeing a green heron dining along the edges of our pond. In past year I have speculated that there were a pair perhaps living in our woods since on some occasions I had seen two of them.

A couple weeks ago my husband first mentioned seeing “that bird” and he has talked about it, and how good it is at catching fish, a few times since then. Until Tuesday night I had yet to see it this year.

My husband and I agree in thinking that this is not the same bird we’ve seen in past years as it looks younger.

It also did not seem as skittish as in past years.

I was probably within 15 feet when I took this photo,

and as I stood on the edge of the prayer garden it continued to comb the shoreline making its way right past me,

on the hunt for a minnow or a frog.

Check out that hair do. Looks like a rock star. LOL!

After my rock star friend flew to the other side of the pond, I began making my way to the main garden, AKA puppy playground, to take some photos. I passed this patch of wildflowers near the beehives. I’m not sure what they are but the patch has spread each year and they make a grand showing.

When I got to the main garden and was approaching these sunflowers, I noticed two hummingbirds that seemed to be playing near the flowers. Unfortunately, they flew off before I could get my camera.

A few weeks ago my husband noticed that birds had begun eating our unripe apples. He at first was blaming it on crows but we have since witnessed sparrows flying out of the trees as we approach. He chose the tree with the most apples on it and put netting over and around it. While none of the apples are visible in this picture rest assured, we can now leave them on the tree to fully ripen.

We did leave the rest of the apple trees un-netted, so the sparrows have plenty to eat (unless the crows get there first.)

Before I continued my garden tour, I had to play a game of fetch with Ruby.

I threw the ball several times and each time she brought it back to me to throw again.

When she decided to take a break, I continued on my way.

The sunflowers, a beautiful variety that we had not planted before, were buzzing with bees.

Melons (not tennis balls)

Cantaloups were planted late and are not yet ripe, but we should get a few nice melons from these plants.

Green Hubbard

The squash are still growing as well. I expect it will be at least another month before we harvest any.

Some pumpkins are beginning to turn orange.

After leaving the garden my husband and I sat at the picnic area for a while. Ruby decided it was time for another game of fetch.

The chickens don’t play fetch, but I have seen a curious hen walk up and peck a tennis ball.

I have seen Peanut play with a tennis ball, but fetch is not his game either.

When the flies started biting my ankles we decided to relocate. We sat on the beach to enjoy the scenery. Thankfully there were no flies there.

The wind was calm, and the water looked like glass.

Until my husband threw some fish food in. The minnows began feeding almost immediately leaving rings on the surface of the pond.

The sun was setting in the west. The green heron was still fishing along the edge of the pond but was beyond the cameras reach. It was peaceful feel just relaxing and soaking up this environment.

Then the entertainment began.

Ruby and Ranger began ruff-housing.

Running and chasing each other, barking and kicking up sand.

It’s funny to watch them play like this knowing they are BFF”s.

My camera battery went dead after this photo, but you really didn’t miss any of the good stuff. I hope you enjoyed our evening at the farm. Thanks for spending time with us.

One last photo for those who are counting.

Are you making the most of the last days of summer?

How many tennis balls did you count?

Blessings Abound

Hello and welcome.

Today I’ll be canning. I expect to produce about 10 quarts of tomato juice but since my canning kettle only holds seven quart-size jars I will cook down the excess into sauce to be used in a meal later this week. Likely stuffed cabbage. Before I head to the kitchen to begin cutting up tomatoes and sterilizing canning jars let me tell you about the results of last week’s efforts.

Cucumbers Are Abundant This Year
Pickled Peppers

Last week I canned:

6 quarts garlic dills

4 quarts hamburger dill slices

6 pints pickled peppers

4 quarts sauerkraut (still fermenting)

7 quarts tomato juice

6 pints bread and butter pickles

Some of our garden meals.

We also continue to include some of the fresh-picked bounty in our meals daily, something that only happens this time of year.

Steak, Potatoes, Steamed Swiss Chard, Glazed Carrots, Beets

Grilled steak with boiled potatoes, steamed Swiss chard, glazed carrots and boiled beets.

Pasta and Clam Sauce, Sauteed Swiss Chard and Eggplant

Pasta and clam sauce with sauteed Swiss chard and eggplant.

Not pictured: Tuna salad sandwich. I love to mix lots of veggies into tuna salad – chopped lettuce, diced tomato, shredded carrot, onion, diced celery, shredded or diced radish – mix it up with some mayo and spread it on your favorite bread.

Also not pictured: Another of my favorite summertime dishes is sliced cucumbers covered in a sour cream, dill and garlic dressing.

Other News

Last week our young hens began laying as evidenced by the tiny egg(s) my husband collected. First time layers usually lay a few tiny eggs before they begin laying regular size eggs. Inside the tiny egg is mostly or all egg white (there might be a small speck of yolk as well.)

The hens beginning to lay was kind of bitter-sweet as we lost one of the young hens to a prolapsed vent. Apparently, the egg she was trying to lay was too big for her. We are now down to just 5 of the 12 hens that started out as baby chicks this spring. Farming can often be heartbreaking.

Thanks for stopping by and I wish you a beautiful day.