Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cooler weather

The camera is not playing nice with the computer, so no pics for this post.  Just a quick check-in to report all is well here on our fourteen acre homestead.

Today was the older boys' first day of school, and tomorrow our youngest begins preschool.  I really am unhappy to see the littlest go, I will miss his late morning snuggle-into-bed-with-us's and his joyful smiles and kisses during the day.  He only goes to preschool three days a week, so it's not like he's leaving for college or anything, but it still reminds me that someday he WILL be leaving for college.  Sometimes I think my kids are growing up too fast.  Other days, when they are running around the house yelling like loony-birds, it feels like I've been a mother to three little boys for eighty-five years.

The weather has begun to cool.  Days in the upper 60's and nights in the low 50's.  The garden is starting to wind down as well.  So far this season I've canned about twenty quarts of tomatoes, seven pints of pickled peppers, twelve pints of dill pickles slices and four pints of pickled beets.  That's it.  I am a bit depressed about my lackluster canning activities this summer.  I am way behind for this year, especially in the green bean department.  Last year I canned twenty-seven quarts of green beans.  This year -- zilch.  My bean harvest has been dismal.  I chose the wrong variety, and pollination was hit-and-miss.  Most of the beans grew in halves -- one half of the pod began bulging with seed while the other half remained thin and limp.  Not good for canning.

On a brighter note, my sunflowers are looking good and the cooler weather has scared away the cabbage moths.  Maybe I'll actually get a few Brussels Sprouts this fall.  The scarlet runner beans are growing large, lovely pods and the pepper harvest is at an all-time high.  The summer squash has started to slow down, but we are still getting a good-sized zucchini every few days or so.  The older chickens have started their molt, meaning no eggs from them for two months.  The newer hens should begin laying early next month.

Last week I took my two young bucklings to the vet to be banded.  (That means castration via rubber-band.  Males, feel free to cross you legs and wince at this point.)  The procedure itself took about five minutes at the vet, then I loaded them back into the dog crate for the drive home.  It's a straight-forward process -- the bands cut off all circulation to that area, and in about three or four weeks the appendage falls off.  (Feel free to wince again.)  Sounds inhumane, but after the first fifteen minutes of discomfort the goats feel very little.  Or so I've been told.  So far my two soon-to-be-wethers are acting perfectly normal, with no care in the world beyond the usual -- eating, bleating, eating, half-heartedly chasing their herdmates, eating, drinking a bit and, well, more eating.

Tonight I harvested my basil.  I probably should have done it a few weeks ago, but better late than never.  I currently have a kitchen table full of basil stalks (you could see proof of this yourself if the blankety-blank camera cable was working properly), and that part of the house smells heavenly.  I'll hang some up to dry but will try to chop and freeze most of it.  I love the flavor basil gives to chicken stock and I might try to experiment with some pesto and bruschetta dishes this winter.  Anybody got a good basil and pasta recipe you're willing to share?


Erin said...

My canning efforts were pathetic this summer - and what's with the beans? Mine are coming in the same way! Lumpy-skinny I call them :) Hope the kids had a good first day at school!

Mr. H. said...

We are struggling with our canning too, especially in the tomato department. I am keeping my fingers crossed that you will have green beans galore and that we will have much better luck with vine ripened tomatoes next summer.

I hope the little guys enjoy their first days of school.:)

Mama Pea said...

Thanks for the "catch-up" post. I love hearing about your garden and what worked . . . and what didn't! Seems like we were all in the same boat this summer. Gardens were just plain weird! None of us could count on anything. (I was lucky to get enough green beans put by before white mold hit, and that was the end of them.)

Although I no longer send my daughter (and husband, for that matter!) back to school, this time of year still signals a certain change in routine. I'm ready for it!

jenny said...

LOL! "Other days, when they are running around the house yelling like loony-birds, it feels like I've been a mother to three little boys for eighty-five years." I know exactly what you mean!!

I'm doing pretty good in the tomato dept, but the corn, carrots and cabbage did poorly for me this year. Hmm wonder if it's because they all start with the letter 'C'??? Yeah, that's it, I'm blaming 'C'!

Hope your harvesting picks up before the garden calls it quits.

Leigh said...

I'm a little relieved to read that others are disappointed in their canning efforts this year too. Tomatoes, cucumbers, corn and squash all did poorly and fizzled out early this year. Surprisingly my green beans (bush variety) have made a comeback so I'm getting a second canning from them!

Susan said...

I haven't canned one thing yet!! I have only frozen a few quarts of roasted tomatoes and some pesto; I am the most pathetic of you all. Our bean crop mysteriously disappeared altogether. At least 80% of the tomatoes split while still green thanks to so much rain. I have beautiful huge watermelons that look like they must be ripe outside, but are nearly white inside.
Not complaining, tho.

Karen said...

Do NOT ask Phill for his pesto recipe! He subjected Bethany and I to it last week and is planning on making more for his family's reunion tomorrow! It's icky!!! Of course, any pesto is icky, so I am likely biased!! Why mess with perfectly good pasta by adding that gross stuff. Basil, otherwise, is great! Don't tell him I said so!

Maple Lawn Farm said...

I am loving the cooler weather and it's a relief to be winding down from preserving the bounty! Fall is such a wonderful time of year! Enjoyed looking back through your posts and catching up a bit!

Tammy Cupp

Jo said...

Sorry it's taken me so long to respond to comments. I read and enjoy each one, I really do!

Hey Erin! I'm glad I'm not the only one with lackluster beans. But your rave reviews of yard-long beans have convinced me to order some seed this winter!

Hello Mr. H -- Seems everyone has had something (or more than one something) that disappointed them this summer. Guess we can't avoid it, when our gardens keep getting bigger. We can't be a gardening expert all the time (although you do come close!) :)

Hi Mama Pea -- This month is certainly about change, with kids and with gardens. And the weather! In another week it'll be time to rip out the warm season stuff and plant garlic. I think I'm ready too. Mostly ...

Howdy Jenny -- Glad you can empathize with the little boy looniness! Sorry this wasn't a good 'C' year for your garden. Better not plant any daisies, dill or daikon radishes next year!

Hey Leigh -- Yeah, I'm relieved too. Isn't that selfish of us? But misery loves company. Haha!

Hello Susan -- Glad to hear from you -- I love your blog. I haven't every roasted tomatoes before canning/freezing. Does that change the flavor somewhat? I must experiment with that sometime. Hopefully your watermelons have time to ripen before the first frost comes.

Hi Karen! Ha! I am sooo telling Phill! Or maybe I should just keep that little tidbit to myself. It could come in handy for a bit of blackmail sometime in the future .... ;)

Hey Tammy -- Very glad to hear from you again. You are so busy on your farm, it's a wonder you get to sit down at the computer at all during the day! Fall is certainly lovely. Hope this one lasts and doesn't turn into winter too soon.