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.
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.
Grilled steak with boiled potatoes, steamed Swiss chard, glazed carrots and boiled beets.
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.
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.
Hello and welcome. August is upon us and I feel like I’ve been MIA (blogging action at least) for a while. It has been longer than I like to go between posts so I’m going share a hodge-podge of things that have been keeping us busy.
Ruby has been with us for nearly two months now and we are all happy she’s here. When I first introduced you to Ruby I had mentioned a few things that she needed to learn. She has proven to be a quick learner. She no longer tries to get in bed with us at night and rarely puts her paws up on our chests. She is doing well with knowing that she can shoo the chickens out of the barn or off a chair, but she does not chase them for fun. The chickens are no longer afraid of her. To them she is just part of the farm family.
When we adopted Ruby from the shelter we were told that she had not been well socialized and took a while to warm up to people. While at times this may be the case, she had no problem socializing with people and other dogs when we had a family picnic at the farm.
It took a few weeks for Ranger and Ruby to bond. At first Ranger seemed to think of Ruby as an intruder, especially when he would be getting attention from my husband or me and she would push her way in or when she would curl up on my lap as I was kicked back in my recliner (he was used to having the choice of my lap or my husbands.) But it wasn’t just our attention that Ruby sought. She worked hard to get Ranger to be her friend.
Often modeling his behavior or initiating play sessions.
She just doesn’t understand the concept of hunting.
Nowadays Ruby and Ranger spend a lot of time ruffhousing or wrestling.
Sometimes it can look and sound like they are being mean to each other, but they are just playing and having fun. They really have become good friends.
Besides ruffhousing with Ranger, Ruby’s other activity of choice is playing fetch. A ball, a frisbee, a stick – if we throw it Ruby will fetch it and bring it back to be thrown again. She is definitely a retriever.
My husband often comes home with a sore arm from throwing the ball so many times, but Ruby’s not done, after she eats, she will go get a ball and bring it to me or my husband, wanting to resume the game that was started at the farm.
Incidentally, she has also learned not to chew up her toys. In the first several weeks she chewed up several balls and other toys. Each time she would chew a hole in something we would throw it away as we didn’t want her swallowing plastic or whatever materials the toy was made out of. We began monitoring her and telling her “no chew” or “be nice” when we saw her chewing up a toy and she has since stopped destroying her toys. We do still allow her to chew up sticks.
Last week, our hottest week so far this year, was a good time for me to have an inside project to work on, so when my husband suggested we needed new curtains for the kitchen and back bathroom I decided to make some. It was also perfect timing because my sister, K.C. was in town for a day, so we had lunch together then made a trip to the fabric store. 🙂
Below are the results of this project.
My husband and I agree – we Love the kitchen curtains! Even when they block the sun they still brighten the room.
We also like the bathroom curtains just not as much as we love the kitchen curtains.
It’s been a while since I have blogged about the chickens and quite honestly it hasn’t been our best year of raising chickens. In the spring we lost about half our flock to a fox or family of foxes. We can only assume that there was more than one because on one day we lost seven chickens in just a couple hour time frame. They were not killed on sight they were carried off by their predator(s). On a few other occasions we lost one at a time.
The fox was pretty bold. My husband yelled to chase it off a few times. It has been at least a month now since there has been any evidence of fox in the area, so think that perhaps it has raised its young and moved on.
These chickens are some of the chicks we bought this spring. Out of the 12 chicks we started with this spring we still have six of them – two black and four white. It’s too early to tell, but we suspect one of the white ones might be a rooster since it’s comb and wattles are far more developed than the rest of them. We expect the hens to start laying in August.
The gardens continue to do well. Having everything mulched heavily with straw has worked so well. Not only has it kept weeds well under control it helps the soil retain moisture making it available for the plants.
Our squash and pumpkins were planted late but they are doing well.
They are beginning to blossom and form fruit.
Melons and cucumbers were also planted late but are blossoming and forming fruit as well. We did pick our first cucumbers this week and I plan on making pickles soon.
Look at the little watermelon. So cute!
Cabbage is looking good – I’ll be making sauerkraut this year.
We’ve started picking tomatoes. I’ll probably have enough to start canning next week.
Stuffed peppers are on the upcoming menu. We have been including garden produce in our meals each day. Perhaps I’ll share some of these dishes in future posts.
So far this is the only sunflower to blossom since the deer ate the tops off of most of the plants. It is a beauty though.
Thanks for visiting. Watch for future posts on how we are eating and preserving our harvest.
Saturday was a productive day. We accomplished several projects at the farm.
We made great progress in the blueberry patch – a project that we had been working on for a few days. Our soil at the farm is mostly clay and despite working straw and other composted materials into it each year we have yet to turn it into an ideal garden loam. This year we decided to add some sand to the soil. A couple of weeks ago my husband had a truckload of masonry sand delivered.
We decided to use some of the sand in the blueberry patch for weed control. Two years ago we put black plastic down between the rows and bushes and while it was largely effective in keeping weeds down it tended to slide out of place or was easily moved by a hunting dog, (Ranger) who had picked up the scent of a mouse hiding under the plastic. (He is relentless.) Water also tended to pool on the plastic creating puddles that took a long time to dry up. After putting the plastic back in place we covered it with several inches of sand.
The blueberry patch project is not completely finished as we still need to put up the plastic fencing around it and the netting on top to protect our crop from hungry robins. We hopefully will get that done this week.
We put our first plants in the garden on Saturday.
My husband had identified an area that was dry enough to till the soil and that is where we decided to plant potatoes and cabbage – both cool weather crops.
He broke out the rototiller he bought a couple months ago. It is a Champion 19-inch, rear tine, tiller. After tilling up the patch where we would plant the potatoes and cabbage he reported that he is very pleased with the way this machine preforms. We spread a layer of sand on the patch. He then mixed it in as he tilled the area.
We planted six 17-foot rows of of potatoes.
and 12 cabbage plants.
I saved some of the cabbage plants to plant in the raised beds we are making. Since the ground is still very wet, and still having much rain in the forecast, I’m not sure how well things will do that are planted in the ground. You may remember last year we had many vegetables that were lost because the ground was just too wet. This year we will be making some raised beds and I hope to plant at least a portion of some crops in the raised beds that will be better able to drain excess water.
When the Hen’s Away
The chicks will play. The chicks still sleep in the nest boxes at night, while the older chickens sleep on the roosts. During the day while the older hens are out of the coop or using the nest boxes for laying their eggs, the chicks like to spend some time playing on the roosts. Perhaps they are practicing for when they too are old enough to sleep on the roosts at night.
From a distance to forsythias create a stunning array.
But standing in the midst of their intense brilliance is mesmerizing.
It’s hard to believe April is almost over already. This post contains some of the things that have happened in the past two weeks.
After a week at the farm my husband decided it was time for the chicks to learn what farm life is all about. He opened up just one side of their pen so they could roam and learn to forage. It is amazing how they instinctually know how to find bugs and worms and grubs. Some breeds are said to be better at foraging than others. It’s a trait that we look for when choosing what breed(s) of chickens to raise.
It didn’t take long for them to spread out and begin scratching and pecking. They didn’t wander too far from their pen, or the coop and they mostly stayed close together or split into two smaller group.
They also learned quickly (within one day) how to find their way back into the coop which makes closing up the coop at night very easy.
They have been very entertaining to watch (Chicken TV). It’s always funny to see when one finds a big grub or worm and the rest of the flock begin chasing it to try to steal it away. At night they all huddle together in one or two of the nest boxes. It’s a tight fit but they seem to like it that way.
This year there was also a new star in the show. It was quite comical watching Ranger trying to wrangle those young chicks. I’m not sure what he was trying to do with them, and I don’t think he knew either. He would follow them trying to keep them all together as if herding them (he never tried to hurt them). If they went into the coop through the small chicken door, he would follow them in and as they exited through the big door, he was right behind them. If one or more of the chicks went under the coop, where he could not go, (it sits about 6 inches above the ground) we would hear BaROOOO. Again, I’m not sure of his intention. Was he trying to tell us that a chick was where it shouldn’t be or was he telling the chick to come out of there? I’ve not yet become fluent in beagle. LOL!
Our bees came last Saturday. This year we decided to try raising Carniolan bees, a breed we have not raised before. I didn’t go with my husband to pick up the bees or to the farm to hive them, so some of these pictures are from a couple years ago. We ordered three 3# packages like the ones in the picture below.
Most of the bees that you see in these clusters are worker bees and a few are drones. In the middle of the cluster is a small separate cage like the one in the photo below. Inside the cage is the queen bee and a couple of attendant worker bees whose job it is to feed and care for the queen.
Once the bees are in the hive my husband uses a nail to put a hole in the queen candy. That is the white stuff that you see in the end of the queen cage. He then places the queen cage in the hive. Over the next few days some worker bees will eat a hole in the queen candy that is big enough for the queen to get out of the cage. The reason for leaving the queen in the cage is that the bees will stay where the queen is and there is less chance that the colony will abscond from the hive.
This year rather than feed sugar water my husband had some frames of honey that he had saved from last year’s hives. Each new hive was started out with a couple of frames full of honey for food.
It was Wednesday before the weather warmed up enough for the bees to come out of the hive.
These pictures (above and below) were taken on Thursday.
Today, Friday, my husband opened the hives to be sure the queens were out of their cages. In two of the hives the queen was out, and all was well. In the third hive the queen was still in the cage and many of the workers were still trying to free her. She was alive so he opened the queen cage and released her into the hive.
We began seeing our first blossoms this week.
These mini daffodils are always the first to open.
Some of the larger daffodils have begun to open as well.
The chives are not blossoming yet, but I could begin harvesting them any time.
These primroses have begun to blossom – I do hope the chickens leave them alone.
I spotted this crocus in bloom. Last year we had more crocuses, but this is the only one I have seen so far.
The forsythias are taking their time but one bush has a few flowers that opened this week.
One of the things I have have been doing is sorting through my clothes and getting rid of some that, for various reasons, I no longer wear. I came across a pair of white denim capris that I haven’t worn in sometime because they had some stains on them. They still fit and were in good condition, so I decided to tie dye them make them new again.
I’m quite happy with the way they turned out. Quite stylish.
Now that you know my, um, excuses for not blogging much this year (the dog ate my blog –Blame It on the Dog) let me catch you up on some of the things that I’ve been up to in 2022.
Daily Yoga – The day after Christmas I began doing yoga. I have never done yoga before but have been told about its benefits and encouraged to try it by two of my sisters and one of my daughters. Since I was no longer experiencing as much pain form the pinched nerve, I decided that it was time to start trying to heal this condition. In order to do so I figured some type of exercise is necessary. I decided to start this 30-day yoga journey entitled breath because for the past two years I have been practicing deep breathing and encouraging others to “breathe deep” as well.
Now don’t get the wrong idea. I am nowhere near good at this. I am not graceful. I am awkward at best. I am getting better but it’s not pretty. (That is why I only do it when I am home alone.)
I have been feeling and seeing some of the benefits. I can tell that I am getting stronger and increasing my balance. I also feel good physically and I seem to have more focus after doing it. Once I finished the first 30-day program I started over again and I’m about to finish it a second time. I plan on repeating it again in March.
If you’ve ever considered learning yoga I would encourage you to do it. I would also recommend this program as a starting point.
Sewing Projects– I have completed two sewing projects. The first was this sweatshirt dress made with plush fleece. I did adjust the pattern to make it a turtleneck. This top is so comfortable and warm; I wear it quite often.
(I’m no model so this is what I do when my husband tells me to pose. LOL)
The second is this sweater. I’m not sure what the fabric would be called, but it is a soft knit with silvery threads intertwined to give it the shimmery look.
I have a third project started but it’s way different from anything I have done before. I am learning to work with interfacing and make buttonholes, so this is taking a while.
Garden Planning – We are really looking forward to spring. We have ordered and received all of our seeds for this year’s garden. I found it interesting that we did not receive tons of seed catalogues in the mail this year. (I think we received one.) I wonder if we have been removed from the mailing lists because we hadn’t ordered for several years, or are companies no longer using catalogues as a means of marketing? Maybe some of both?
After last year’s gardening disaster (too much rain) we decided we need to do something different this year. We will be adding some raised beds. We are in the planning stage, and I’ll write more about it once we begin working on them.
Bees – We lost both hives again this year and just can’t explain why. There were just a few dead bees in the bottom of both hives. The rest were just gone. This is an unexplained phenomenon referred to as colony collapse disorder. We did harvest about 30 lbs. of honey that was left in the hives so at least it wasn’t a total loss.
We have ordered three bee packages for this year. They are scheduled to arrive on April 15. The bees we are getting this year are a different breed than the ones we have had in the past, so that gives us a little more hope for their survival.
Chicks and Chickens – Sunday as I looked at the weather forecast, I realized that the weather this week would be right for tapping maple trees. With above freezing daytime temps and below freezing nighttime temps that sap should begin to flow. We are not tapping trees this year, but I reminded my husband that in past years it seemed like at the same time we tapped maple trees the chickens began to lay more eggs. Monday my husband collected 6 eggs and Tuesday five. For about the past two months we had been averaging only between two and three eggs a day. An interesting correlation between sap season and egg laying.
We are going to add about 12 chicks to our flock this year. I will share chick pictures when we get them. 🙂
New Chair – Last week we finally went shopping for a new desk chair. this is the one I selected.
While it doesn’t actually have bells and whistles, it does have lumbar support, height adjustment, arm rests that adjust up and down and forward and backward, and the seat back reclines. This makes sitting at my desk much more comfortable. It is called a gaming chair so as I like to say, “game on!”