Sunday, August 1, 2010


I was recently berated by a family member for my slacking-off in the blog department.  I am very sorry.  I will try to do better.  We have been busy, but it's been run-of-the-mill busy with no special projects that might be interesting to write about.  Or rather, interesting to read about.  That is, unless you find interest in the following things:

A.  Chickens -- our baby chicks are teenagers now.   That means they are almost as big as the adults but not nearly as smart.  They haven't yet figured out that that big blobby yellow-headed thing (me) walking toward the coop means that food is on the way.  They still run away from people, whereas the older and wiser birds stride forward confidently.  And if I am a little slow in the food delivery the older hens will start pecking at my shoes. 

Some of the older birds have had their back feathers pulled out by their bored coopmates, and exposure to the elements have left them sunburned.  The animal humanitarian (is that an oxymoron?) in me wants to catch them and slather aloe vera lotion on their red skin.  The old timey farmer-to-be in me responds -- what, are you nuts??

The teenager chicks aren't giving us eggs yet, that won't be for another few months.  But we are averaging about five eggs a day from the older hens.  Last week a storm toppled a dead ash tree in our yard, which landed on the fence to the chicken pasture.  So we have some fence repair to do.

B.  Goats -- About once a week one of the goats will get their head stuck in the fence.  It is an exercise in patience trying to guide a horned goat head backward out of woven wire fencing, while the rest of the goat body is convinced that forward is still the direction it should be moving.

C.  Garden -- Lots of stuff going on.  I planted a variety of snap bean this year called 'brittle wax.'  It has grown well for me in the past, but this year I have discovered that unless I pick every other day, the ripe beans quickly begin bulging with seeds and turning tough.  This makes them unsuitable for canning.  Which is unfortunate since canning was the reason why I planted all those beans in the first place.  Up until this week the weather has been ungodly hot and I haven't had the stamina to go out picking beans in 95 degree temps and 400 percent humidity.  So when I do pick over half of them are too large to use.  Except to feed them to the chickens and goats, who LOVE them.

The potatoes and tomatoes are slowly succumbing to the blight/wilt thing I have going on.  Actually, the potatoes are succumbing rather quickly.  At this point I have given up trying to save the potatoes, and will wait until the tops are mostly yellow before I cut them down.  I sprayed the tomatoes with copper last weekend and will do so again today, hoping that it will give me a bit more time before they finally die.  Enough time to actually harvest a few fruit.  Right now I have loads of green tomatoes but no red ones.  Next year I will be growing my solinacae in another section of the yard, in hopes to avoid any wilt issues, and I will not be saving any potato tubers for starting next spring.  I am tired of these fungal fiends.

Other than beans we have been harvesting zucchini, rutabagas, peppers, eggplant, broccoli and onions.  In a few days I will pull out and cure the garlic. 

D.  Preserving -- I used the last of the 2009 garlic in a batch of dill cucumber pickles I made last night.  Eighteen pints of pickle slices ready for the pantry.  Other than that, my preserving activities have centered mostly around freezing.  Our jam supply is still strong (probably good enough to last us three or four years) so I haven't been in a hurry to make jam.  So far this summer we've frozen 2 1/2 gallons of strawberries, 2 gallons of blueberries, 1 gallon of chokecherries, 1/2 gallon of gooseberries and just 1 quart of mulberries (sob).  This winter as things quiet down a bit I will make a few batches of syrup/jam, when the house will welcome the extra warmth from the stove.

E.  Family -- Baseball/TBall/Archery season is finally finished, thank heaven.  For several weeks in June and July I was transporting various kids to summer activities every evening, Monday through Thursday.  I am not a soccer mom.  But with us living so far out in the country, these activities are the only way my boys can interact with other kids during the summer.  We are not of the 'playdate' ilk.  So now the monkeys fill their day with games, legos, reading, random chores, water guns, and getting on each other's nerves.

So, if all of these things interest you, then you should be pretty pleased with this post.  If not, then I probably lost you long since.  Sorry for the posting delay, I will try to do better and get more photos taken for next time.


Erin said...

wow, busy! I feel you on that blight stuff, I haven't even composted anything from my garden this year because there were just too many unknown symptoms of things. Try Golden Wax bean, I have had good luck with them producing a lot and although I haven't canned any straight, they made good dilly beans and froze wonderfully. Sometimes the blogging just has to be put aside while you deal with all the summer stuff, like actually gardening and farming LOL! Good job on all, the goats with their heads in the fence once a week sounds about right :)

Mama Pea said...

Not boring at all! Very interesting. Your "mundane" stuff is fun to compare with my "mundane" stuff. None of us gardeners ever get tired of seeing and hearing about other gardens.

(It's only my own blog posts that I think are probably boring everyone else into a stupor.)

I Just Live Here said...

glad to hear your tomatoes are green also......... I just stare at mine wondering if they will ever turn red

miSz tUna said...

Definitely not boring :)

Bob said...

Berated? All I did was inform you that my life revolved around your blog entries, and that depression was setting in because of no new posts lately. I hardly berated you, although I maybe guilted you a little bit :)

Which kid is into archery? What kind of bow does he use? I may have a compound bow I could set up for a wee tyke if you think he'd maybe stick with it. Otherwise, I have multiple recurves if that would be better. Let me know, and I'll hook you guys up.

Deanna said...

I love garden talk.
At a local restaurant in Duluth I had green tomato dill pickles and they were luscious. I was hoping to end up this year with lots of green tomatoes, but 4 out of 6 plants are pretty lame. Two will give us 2 tomatoes and 2 will give us 1 each. If you can find a recipe you might want to try the pickles.
Surviving the heat along with you.

Harold Phillips said...

Hey, blogging is something you do when you have time to sit down and write cogently... that's what we love about READING your posts, my dear!

I know all about it... when I get busy, my blogging slacks off. Then I hear from people that they're disappointed I'm not writing more about what I'm doing that's taking so much time that I'm not writing. It's a vicious cycle!

I, personally, cherish every garden post, whenever you get to them... It's a nice reminder that there are more important things in life than work and the news :)

Leigh said...

I can definitely relate to being busy this time of year. I've never heard of a sunburned chicken!. Waiting until cooler weather for jam and jelly making is an excellent idea. Wish I'd thought of it myself!

Jo said...

Hi Erin -- I think I'm just gonna stick with the tried and true blue lake from now on. Maybe have a few odd colored plants like dragon tongue or purple pod for variety, but the main canning bean should be my most reliable producer. Last year I canned 26 quarts of blue lake and this year I don't think I'll get a single quart done. Poo.

Hey Mama Pea -- Your post definitely do not bore us! Don't think that for a second!

Hey ManFort -- Yeah, I thought this hot humid weather was supposed to be great for red tomatoes. Guess not. I did pick one today, a roma type. What am I going to do with one single roma tomato?

Howdy Bob! So I am responsible for your mental well being? Land sakes, have I got my work cut out for me! ;)

Owen has been taking archery for the last two years. It is only four sessions, very informal, not a lot of teaching going on, just letting kids shoot arrows into targets on the archery range. He and Graham both have "Bear Scout" bows, if you know what those are. They was recommended online for young beginners. If you are willing, we would definitely welcome a little one-on-one sporting help from an uncle!

Hello Deanna -- Thanks, I love garden talk too! My tomatoes are being putsy too. So much for my grandiose canning plans this summer, on several levels (beans and tomatoes).

Jo said...

Hi Harold! Thanks for the kind comments. You're right, it is a vicious cycle! Plus when you're really busy doing only two or three different things, it gets kinda monotonous to write about the same old same old. But it's fun reading about other people's same old, like your exciting life as a working actor. Animus Cross is some cool stuff!

Howdy Leigh -- Sunburned chicken is a 14 Acres original, I guess! I'd post pictures but I'm too embarrassed by my naked poultry. Hahaha! :)