Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Homestead Harvest and Maintenance

The harvest continues.  The tomatoes have been coming in like crazy and we have put up 31 quarts of spaghetti sauce and 15 quarts of tomatoes with green chilies.  We are picking green beans as they come along (slim pickings as the rabbits helped themselves first to the plants) and canning them along with the spaghetti sauce.

We have also dehydrated Tulsi Basil, Goji berries and passion fruit vine leaves for tea.  In addition we dehydrated our Asian pears for snacking, have harvested okra several times (mostly enjoyed them by eating them fresh), and the tomatoes keep coming.  At this point we are canning until we run out of lids on the spaghetti sauce.  There are no lids to be found and the lids I ordered in June from Lehmans are still on back order.  Once we run out of these, we will start drying our tomatoes as I am sure not going to encourage these people who run out and buy things up to try to sell them at an exhorbitant price once they are gone.  No matter that we are living in times when people are hurting.

My husband  is a teacher and recently needed to attend and volunteer at a recent high school graduation for his school (I am sure people know that teachers do not get paid in the summer, right?)  At any rate, masks were required and will be required for the upcoming school year, so we went to the thrift store to find some fabric to make masks for my husband and the school administrators.  For $2, I found some fabric in his school color for the outside and some light colored for the inside, we also bought the pony tail holders and thread, and then used some leftover paint to make some masks with school spirit, after washing the fabric and hanging it in the sun to dry to make sure it was germ free.

The fabric was purchased at my favorite thrift store, Live to Give Ministries.  When we opened the bag with the fabric there was a card in it that said, "Jesus Loves You," which prompted this funny story:  I was working hard on canning spaghetti sauce. My husband helps me with the processing the jars part, as the kettle with 7 quarts in it is rather heavy. While he is not helping me, he is usually running around cleaning up or something. My husband finds this card that says "Jesus Loves you". He said, "Can I toss this piece of paper? I already know that Jesus loves you." "You do?" I said with a smile. He said , "Yes, he gave you me." lol, this is the way we roll. A few minutes later the solar power went down. He diagnosed the problem and figured out the storm had loosened one leg of the power that came in. He told me he was going to bring down the power, which he did, and fixed the whole issue in what seemed like ten minutes. He turned it back on and I noticed the internet modem went on which meant it was fully restored. As he came in the door to check his work I said, "It's all on, even the modem works. You were right. Jesus loves me." Then he smiled and kissed me. Life is good.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Busy Homestead Season

So much has been happening!

We are harvesting blueberries, blackberries, goji berries, raspberries, strawberries, string beans, beets, tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro, red clover blossoms, mint, so many things I can't even remember them all!  So far we have put up 45 quarts of beets.  We've eaten string beans and put up 1 quart while processing beets.

We have harvested lots of blackberries this year.  The first five gallons went to a batch of wine.  The next couple went to a batch of blackberry jelly. and then we put 3 more gallons in the freezer.  The Squeezo made quick work of extracting the juice from the blackberries to make the jelly.  The leftover fiber and seeds went to the chickens.

Next is blueberries.  We froze 29 one cup bags mostly for muffins, and now have 7 more gallons, five of which will make a batch of wine.

The great potato experiment showed that the grocery store potatoes that we spent very little on (Maybe $3.99) grew about as well as the organic russets we spent $65 on.  Neither one did spectacular, but at least we have more potatoes than we planted.  On the left were from one bag of store bought, and on the right were from organic seed potatoes.

We had to harvest our peaches and cream corn before squirrels or raccoons harvested it for us.  We gave the corn husks to the cows, and cooked some of the pieces we culled for the pigs.  We celebrated Independence Day with the chickens we had processed the Tuesday before, the corn we had picked that day and the potatoes we harvested about an hour before.  It was delicious!

Our garlic harvest clearly showed the ones planted in richer soil grew the best.  The volunteers grown in poor soil are on the bottom of the picture.

A couple days after we processed our chicken, we pulled it all out of the coolers to put in the freezer and we processed the carcasses with the backs and the necks.  We were able to pick off about 16 cups of cooked chicken and made about 8 gallons of broth.  We then gave the carcasses to the dogs and the skins to the pigs.

Our piglets are growing up a storm and are happy and healthy!  I am still cooking oatmeal, rice, grits, corn and other leftovers for them, most of which are mixed with milk.  And of course they are harvesting their own food as well.  They seem to love the clover.

We are harvesting sunflowers for the chickens.  Of course, the gold finch are harvesting their own as well.  We have also been harvesting the Japanese beetles for the ducks and chickens with beetle traps.  Occasionally, we will take some out to the fish.

A friend gave us some beauty berry bushes which we planted in the cow pasture by their automatic waterer so they can treat themselves for flies.  They love rubbing their heads in the bushes.  This last one is waiting to be planted by our porch swing.

We have planted our fall seedlings of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts and peas.  They are coming along nicely.  We also got some hydrangea cuttings from my mother and father-in-law and it looks like they are going to make it!

Last and perhaps the best blessing of all is the hive I had set up as a bee trap has attracted some bees!!!!  My husband just noticed today that it looks like some bees have moved in!  We are so thankful.  God is good!