Sunday, July 30, 2017

July 30, 2017

Homesteading, when you are doing it there are so many places you can drop the ball, especially with garden produce.  Not only do you need to find good seed, you need to germinate it, plant it, weed it, water it, pick it, preserve it and eat it.  If you drop the ball at any one of those places, you have wasted your time.  That's a lot of places to miss out.  Sometimes you have a tremendous crop and need to put away enough for two years in case the next year ends up with a place where you have dropped the ball or something unforeseen happens.  This year's crop of tomatoes is phenomenal.  So far we have canned 90 quarts of spaghetti sauce, a few quarts of catsup, and made lots of salsa for eating fresh.  We use it for soup bases, chili, pizza sauce, and pasta sauce.  We grew the bell peppers, oregano, basil, cayenne peppers, tomatoes, and garlic.  We did not grow the onions or salt.

Our Asian Pear tree finally put out some fruit this year ( 5 years old), but only enough for fresh eating.  So far we have picked from two varieties.  The one on the right is very sweet, and the one on the left is a little less sweet and more firm.  We tried the last one cut up into pieces and put into chicken salad.  It was yummy and added just the right amount of sweetness and texture.

We are using our greenhouse as a solar dehydrator and will let you
know how that goes.  We pruned the basil plants and left some for them to grow back and produce more basil leaves, and we picked the cayenne peppers and strung them on unflavored dental floss.  I have been drying the cayenne, running it through the blender (and being careful not to breathe in when I open the lid away from me after it has been stopped for a minute), and using it in the place of black pepper in all of our dishes.  It is much better, I think, and I like knowing how it was grown.  We also sprinkle the cayenne liberally in the dogs food (even making their treats with it.)  This keeps them flea free.  It does not, however, seem to work on ticks.  I do the same with basil, drying it and running it through the blender, then putting it in a sprinkle container.  I love using the basil on almost anything.  The flavor is SO much better than what you can buy in the store!  I especially like using it on eggs.  Did you know it is said to have a calming effect? I can use all of that I can get. . .

Lastly, I wanted to remind everyone to be sure to learn safety on their new power tools, as some things are not obvious.  For example, we got a new compound miter saw and I was using it to cut out the trim for the new floor we are putting down on the main floor.  While I was very respectful of the power of the blade and made sure I kept my hands out of the way, I did not know the power of the kickback of the saw on wood that is not resting on the fence.  Sometimes tuition comes in the form of stitches. . .Be safe!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

July 13, 2017

Sharing the Wealth.  Harvest time is a time of feasting for everyone
on the farm.  Today, we are harvesting corn.  So we have a system going.  It starts with my husband picking and me shucking enough for the first pot.  Then I set up the pot and bring the water to a boil.  While waiting for it to boil, I am cutting the bad parts off the corn (my husband is still picking), getting the gas cooker set up, and washing out the bath tub.  (Garden Tub - that big receptacle that is put to use when you have to cool a lot of vegetables from the garden after blanching.)  Then the first pot is put on.  While that is going on, my husband finishes picking and finds a shady spot to shuck.  I go get the next batch and it starts all over again.

The parts that we don't use, don't get wasted.  The shucks are enjoyed by the cattle.  The parts that are cut off of the cobs go to the chickens.  I love it when it works out like this so there is little waste!

The last two days we were harvesting tomatoes, beets, peppers, squash, basil, oregano, garlic and a couple cucumbers.  We put up 44 quarts of spaghetti sauce, and 5 quarts of beets (we had done 6, but one broke in the canner - sad day.)  They look really nice on our new pantry shelving that we built.  Six jars deep. . .now we need to fill them up.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

June 30 - July 4, 2017

Wow, today is an ending and a new beginning.  Today is the last day of my full time job, and marks more time for projects on the farm.  I am so looking forward to it!  I am torn between homesteading and farming, and hope that I venture forward slowly enough so whatever needs to take place, happens naturally and doesn't put too much stress on anybody.  I am also looking forward to helping my husband on summer projects full time (as he is a science teacher.)  This summer we are working on taking up the clay stained carpet and putting down hardwood floors.  Of course this has also led to other projects along the way, like finally getting to the pantry shelves, the home theater wiring (while taking up the old osb and putting down plywood subfloors), and who knows what else will pop up before we are through.  We are trying to fit in the last of the big projects before we work more slowly with less income.  Of course more time will lead to being able to do more money saving activities, so there will be compensation.  Life is an adventure!

Projects we have done since the last post include the wiring for the
lights in the barn.  We have taken them off of the current photovoltaics and made them independent, using 12 vdc led light bulbs, a battery, and a trickle charger (which means we don't have to invest in a charge controller.)  Also, my husband is thrilled that he finally got around to wiring a light switch for both entrances of the barn. They are for our newly organized workshop that seems to be so important for all the diy projects we do here on the farm.  We could never live in a tiny house, as doing all of this diy stuff requires tools and materials, and you need somewhere to store them.  The first time you do a project, it pays for the tools and equipment, so everything else you do with the tools is free.  That is hard to ignore.

Tomato Jungle
Mashed Potatoes
While all the chaos of the floors is going on, it is still the middle of the summer and we are harvesting peppers, tomatoes, and we just finished the potato harvest.  Our potatoes did not do well this year.  We are blaming it on the new variety of russets we were forced to get as the Burbanks we did the year before and did really well was not available.  Anyway, to maximize the crop we went in with the tiller after the potato digger to churn up any potatoes that were left in the ground.  Of course, this turns up cut potatoes that need to be processed right away, so I made mashed potatoes for the freezer which included homegrown dried cayenne peppers and some cut up chives we grew right here on the farm.  It also included butter and salt which we didn't grow - maybe butter is in our future.

Okra interspersed with sweet potatoes
Sunflowers and Corn
It is also about time to harvest our sunflowers as I can see the yellow finches are coming in.  We use this for our chickens, as they love them.  I will leave you with a few pictures of our garden.  Got to get back to work.  By the way, as you can see by the range of time, it took me a while to figure out how to download the pictures from our new camera, and figure out where the computer was saving them to, as well as figure out that we had not set the date on our camera so it was telling the computer that the pictures were from May of 2015!!

Also, on a homestead, it really helps to have more than one person in case the unplanned happens (and it will), such as the cattle getting in the wrong paddock.  In this case, one got in with the chickens, which probably wouldn't be a problem, except it was intent on eating the young oak tree that we had planted to one day provide shade and acorns for livestock.  It took one person to guard the oak tree, and one to get a bucket of feed to lure him out of there.