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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Update 6-20-2012

Hi folks, got some good news / bad news... so as typical the bad news first. Our net is down again (yippie) for probably a couple weeks to a month so I won't be writing blog posts for a little while. We had an overage on our last bill that we were one surprised by.. and couldn't at that time pay so this morning we found out that they cut off our entire cell service. What fun... but hey, c'est la vie.
 The good news, well at least I consider it good. We have been berry picking a lot right now and I have a few gallons of black berries in my freezer right now. The plants are still producing so we are going to be picking for a while. The ones on our property are producing good as the ones on the road, granted they aren't necessarily as big as some of the ones on the road. As 2 spots on the road have water that means the plants have a constant supply and the berries are huge. We are going to look up how many black berries you need to make black berry wine and once we can get the supplies we are going to make some up. The idea is to buy a complete kit for a standard red and learn the process, then move on to making some of our own types. Now all three sets of our zucchini have flowers on it. ...and not just the male flowers either if you notice the picture. I can't wait to see how big this one gets, and I can't wait for the lunches with them stir fried. We also have the starts of some cucumbers, they are tiny right now; but at least I saw two of them last night. You'd think with them being volunteer ones they would have started producing already, but they are not.
I have set up a teepee for our long beans and the luffa gourds. The luffa's are just starting to climb right now, and I expect that the long beans should “kick in” and put on enough growth soon so that they will be too. When we did that I also have started staking the eating tomatoes as they are growing very vigorously. I guess they like the chicken manure/perlite/oyster shell/ clay soil we gave them. Not to mention how well the dill plants that are growing just as well.    
     We started picking beans today, this is the first batch; they are in an 8 inch cake pan. So you can figure about how many we harvested this morning. I also picked some more Lamb's Quarters, with some male squash flowers for breakfast. I also harvested a couple leaves of the wintergreen to try to make some tea with it. I'll find out later how it comes out.
Well we are sitting here at the local library so we can get our podcasts and so I can post this today. A week from now we should have our first “farm hand” here, his bus is suppose to arrive at about noon then. So we'll see how that goes.
The kids leave on their trip next Saturday, my mother decided she just wants to do a half way drive both “ways”, which really will be the easiest way to do it. She's going to pick up the couple food items we wanted and bring them with her. The kids start the new school year on the 15th of August here, I'm not sure but that seems a tad early. All three of them will be going to the same school, just different parts of it.
 It's funny how the thought of no internet doesn't really bother me, aside from not being able to write on my blog(s). ...and this is after watching a show on frontline last night called “digital_nation”, which was about how “connected” the world is now to the internet and how people really can't “live without” their connection to the online world(s). Even more so how people who say they are “multi-taskers”, really aren't very good at multi-tasking.I do wonder to some extent if this ability to reach any bit of information we could want at any moment of the day; with it have a bad effect of any kind? What happens to creativity when you can look up any subject and find information on it?
How would you feel if you were “unplugged” even for a day? Could you manage without your connection to the world of everything? Could you live in your own piece of the world without your escape into the “connected” world? How many people don't read actual books any more because they can get a kindle or a summary of the info? Or even just a part of the book that you find interesting somewhere online?
Now please don't mistake, I do think the internet is a good tool; but to me that is all I consider it. I've been trying to keep my kids from being so enraptured in the internet, yes they are fully capable of “surfing the web” sometimes much better than me. I have no issues with using it, but I have unfortunately seen people who get so wrapped up in the internet that they do not know how to live in the real world. ...and it can affect their families, their jobs, and even their own lives. Just something for everyone to think on...

 Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed be...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Black Berries!

That lovely picture is of this morning’s harvest or if you will the product of my foraging, as I got them from a location I didn't plant intentionally. That is about 3/4's of a gallon of blackberries in one morning! They are being frozen until the season is over and I have some rose hips, then I am making some jam and maybe some syrup.
 It made me think though, as I had help after I had gotten 2 pints already on my own by at first my youngest... then my oldest and then finally the middle child. I -LOVE- fresh blackberries, not as much as fresh strawberries; but hey nothing adds up to them.
 To me there is nothing better than putting into my mouth a blackberry just off the bramble that has exploded into my hand from being sooo ripe. Sweet with a lite bitterness that comes from natural sugars. I did pause this morning when I tasted a particularly sweet one, with a moan escaping my lips. As oddly, considering modern life I prefer my sweets in the form of berries now. Don't get me wrong, I love chocolate... but it's just not the same.
 I think many kids and adults miss something good when they don't eat something freshly picked, like fruit. It has it's own flavor and it's very unique. To me most of the processed sweets have all the same flavor, and it's missing something.
 The other part that I was thinking on is how my kids pick berries. Had I handed them my berrying bucket and sent them out I'd have been lucky to get maybe a pint. ..and the thing is it would not be because they were eating while picking. Part of it is they don't seen them all on the brush. They also want to find the “perfect” berry. It really made me think when I realized that, as I just finished a book about primitive man(novel) and how they lived and that included gathering food.
 If my kids had to rely on what we had found to eat.. they would wind up picking more of them. My youngest admitted that, so I told her then just think that way and we'll have tons of berries to make things with. One or two blemishes mean nothing, and partly dried out? Come on, people pay tons of money to buy dried fruits; pick them yourself. It'll do you some good to be out in the sun enjoying the fresh air... and grins getting covered in berry juice! It's an old family pastime, that I think needs to be revitalized.
 People use to spend whole days going out “berrying”, and they'd bring a picnic lunch and the dessert would be the fresh berries with sometimes some home made cake. To me that sounds much better than going to the store and “foraging” for a nice looking package of berries. As that is what you are doing when you are in the store turning the berry packs all around to check every angle until you find just the right one that looks to be “perfect”. WOW.. I just realized where my kids' idea of perfection on berries comes from. As if you don't do “perfect” on ones in the store you are likely to have rotten berries.
 I don't know if any of you remember seeing an older orange commercial a number of years ago from the orange growers. It had a woman explaining a ripe orange isn't always fully orange, which tech if it's green it's not ripe... but the point is most people have no clue what “ripe” is... I certainly don't know what a ripe wild blueberry looks like. So I am learning that, maybe true ripeness should be taught to all people; most of all children.
 I hope everyone out there gets to experience the freshest of the season!
 Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Garden Pics!

Just a few garden pictures today:
  These are half of my beans that are in the garden, well almost half; more like a 1/4 of them.  they are in full bloom and seem to have secondary flower stalks.  Now these are a green bush bean after the pitiful results from the pole beans last year.  I did get some of my Tiger's eye beans planted up front with the hot peppers and if they do well there I might just go ahead and order some for next year and cross my fingers that they'll produce well.
 The Tiger's Eye beans are a bush been that can be eaten as a green snap bean or left to be a dry bean.  It's a pinto "style" bean if you let them dry.  Which if they do well would be great as we do make chili.
 I have also started some long beans growing as they take the hottest part of the summer and do well in it.
 I spent the early part of this morning feeding the animals (kids' job during the summer btw), the kids got home very late last night so I let them sleep in.  I went to check the plants which I took these pics during.  Then I did a little digging in the pond.  I came back into the house, got a cup of tea and started working on the blogs... including the one on the website that I started last year, that I am hoping to keep up to date as well:
 That's today's blog post if you decide to check it out and you can get to the rest of the website while there. This is one of the green cabbages that I grew as you can see it's starting to head finally.  I hope they get big and the red ones to as I really want some cole slaw and I have just to wait on the cabbage for it...
 The girls are going on a overnight trip tonight, well they're leaving this afternoon.  I hope they have fun, it's with their church and they kinda dropped the trip on us so we can't take them we don't have the gas for it.  As we're doing "kid taxi" to the library events so we planned for that only.
 We should have a "farm hand" here after the 27th, it won't be Rayne as yet... still no word as to when he'll be here for sure.  however a young person is coming by to stay and help out in exchange for a place to live and food to eat.  I hope it works out well for us as we really do need some help for when Silver's not feeling well.  It would just make most of this work easier sometimes with extra hands. This is that volunteer squash we have growing and as you can see it's in full flower, they are still just male flowers; but hey... considering how early they are we might get lucky.  especially since the Dark Star that I planted have started to show some flower buds, which means they will be flowering soon as well.  I should be able to get a better comparison on them soon.
 The lemon squashes that I planted only one is still sprouted, and it's growing very slowly; so I am not sure it's going to do very well at all.  The luffa gourds are doing very well, or seem to be doing well.  They are still growing, I am guessing they are a slow growing gourd.  So we will see as they get bigger (crosses fingers).  My remaining bushel gourd is growing as well, and I hope it continues as last time I tried growing one it grew a bit then gave up.
 I am thinking of harvesting some Lamb's quarter's tomorrow morning for a nice breakfast, with some squash flowers if we have more tomorrow.  An onion or two, and some fresh herbs.  Maybe with some fresh flat bread, I swear I prefer it over regular bread now.  It's wonderful to use as a plate when the item you are eating goes well with bread, then the juices get absorbed into the bread an gives it such a lovely flavor.  I wonder if that is what I've read before called "trencher" bread (pardon if I messed up the spelling), I've read about it in books before and I wonder if it's a flat bread.  Maybe I'll find out one day. This one made me smile this morning.  This is one of the two flower heads on the one Elderberry that is blooming.  As you can see if you look closely the flowers are now opening.  I am going to keep a good eye on this as I am not sure how long after they produce ripe fruit.  I am still trying to figure out if I'm going to make them into jam or just save them for tea making this winter for colds. As it helped out Silver immensely I am seriously thinking of going the tea route, thing is though as we don't have a dryer yet I'll have to just freeze them and use frozen berries to make tea with.
 We have a newer project before the dryer, as I still need the money to build our house we are defiantly just considering putting on a addition for this winter to give us more space and have "rooms" for the two "farm hands" provided they both get here of course.  We need the space, so the kitchen can be just a kitchen.  I want a separate room for our TV and some book shelves for our books to go on.
 ...and if we're lucky we'll have regular internet by winter, though I am hoping to have projects to work on all winter to keep us busy.  I am determined to try to get some rugs done this winter, so next time we head to the free store I am picking up jeans to make the strips for rug braiding.  I hope I'm good at it as it seems I have an odd problem with crocheting and knitting, I do it too tight.  I was told by one woman who taught me that she had NEVER seem someone who made the stitches so tight that normally people have to learn to make them tight.
 Well that's it for now,
 Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Review of

HEH... well I've been having some fun over on bidding with credits,not money; on seeds. Me and Silver have managed to win some dwarf teddy bear seeds and some sugarcane seeds. I also got some acorn squash seeds this morning on it.

Now I really enjoy this website as it's a good way to pass along seeds you don't need and to pick up some hard to find ones. I.E... the sugar cane. You join the site and start with about 500 credits to bid on auctions, you gain more credits by “gaining levels”, buying them, or from auctions you set up.

Me and Silver set up separately auctions of the two packs of carrot seeds I had that we can't use yet. Our ground just isn't good enough as yet to grow carrots in a year or two maybe.

Now while perusing this website I have discovered a few “funny” things about this site. ...not bad funny though... First one... in the seed category you will see many seeds up for auction and sometimes muti-auctions by the same person that are the same item. Also these seeds come in small amounts. My dwarf sunflowers are only 6 seeds... which if I were paying cash I put out I might not be willing to put out as much as I did.

The other thing is while tech everything on it is FREE.. tech... I think if you buy credit it's not free. There are people who make you pay shipping... even on a few seeds... come one.. they aren't willing to put out one stamp? I could certainly understand not being willing to do shipping on a LARGE item... but a pack of seeds... or just a couple... it's silly.

Then.. oh this is good... finding “organic” Lambs Quarters, and this morning... “heirloom” cattails..., I've got “heirloom” cattails across the street, and I know a few other spots that have them. Though, I imagine some people might not know that while yes you can eat both of these plants... one is by most considered a weed. The other is grown as “pond decor”, which is sad as cattails are a supermarket of food; well food and weaving material.

However overall I think the website is good, and fun too. Just remember what I mentioned if you go into it. Also if any of my readers wants to join if you use the following link I get a bonus and supposedly you'll get an extra 100 credits.

We have a mass of bean flowers right now, my secondary beans are sprouting up front as they are a different type. If I'm lucky my melons will stay around and produce. I picked another pint of berries this morning and we did some pond digging too. Gotta send my son out to cut wood later.

Have a great day!

Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed BE...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Today's Harvest

I have a few harvested items to show everyone today:
  First up is what we had for breakfast.  About a pound of Lambs Quarters, 3 squash flowers, some kale, and an onion.  This was all washed and I chopped up the onion, kale and squash flowers.  Had one of the kids run out and get me some fresh basil which got chopped too.

 I start with some sunflower oil (gods I LOVE this stuff) and I browned the onion then the rest goes into the pan and I stir fry them a couple minutes till they are fully wilted and a little dark.  I use a blueberry pomegranate dressing I found about 1/2 a cup while the pan is still on and I let it steam in the dressing for about a minute.  It made about 2 small servings of some wonderful greens.

 Here is something funny, at least to me.  I saw on the other day someone selling "organic Lambs Quarters" seeds.  I laughed at the idea, seeing as how my Lamb's Quarter is organic as it is growing in my garden... but I defiantly didn't put it there.  It came up on it's own, any place you "disturb" soil you will see Lambs Quarters growing.  If you want to eat them only go for the smallest leaves.  I tend to just take the tops off, and they will branch off; A LOT!  So don't worry about how much of the tops you remove.  It will keep growing.
  My lettuce is still growing, and I harvested a colanderful of them.  This is going to be lunch today, probably with some of our left over snow peas that are in the fridge; and some of the carrots from the farmer's market.

 While out I noticed my beans have tons of flowers on them. I think they are also the reason that the lettuce is still growing good as the beans are shading the lettuce.  I also picked some day lily buds, I think I got four of them; as they seem to go from no where near opening to open in a day.  They are suppose to be good as soup and stew thickeners, and because we don't have the solar dryer as yet I am freezing them.

 I have also noticed that the elderberry flowers have not yet opened, I am sooo waiting for those to open.  It seems all of my tomatoes are doing well in their new homes, and growing like... well.. like Lambs Quarters (most people would say weed).  I'm going to have to come up with supports for them soon I think.  They companion's the dill plants are also taking over, which is good.  Maybe I'll try to make Silver and the girls some pickles using the lemon cucumbers.  Hey, it might work once they produce.     That is one pint of black berries.  Yes, we are officially into the black berry picking season.  I expect we will get quite a few blackberries this year from the season if I got a pint this morning.  I also should be able to make a straight blueberry jam too as we seem to now have tons of wild blueberries now here.  My one plant has one berry on it, while the wild ones are loaded.

   I am going to hold off on making jams until we start getting rose hips from the wild roses.  Just so I can add the extra vitamin C to the batches.  Boy, it should be one heck of a day when I start doing my jams this year.  If my melons all grow and produce I should have quite a few of the cantulope jam too.  You know I was not sure if I'd like it, but I found I love it!  I will post the recipe when I make it.  I'm hoping to get another case of two of peaches again so we can, can some and try out the bourbon peach jam I found.

   I wonder if wintergreen berries would be good in any of it... I will have to find out.

 We got a piece of ply wood for the baker's rack, and now we are in the process of painting the wood then it'll go in the house... somewhere.  We are thinking the shelf under the TV will need to come out for the rack to come in.  Then we will be putting the computer on it for now.  The tomato by the chickens has some tomatoes on it, but they are still green so we'll see when they are done.  I think it might wind up being a paste tomato, but I'm not to sure.

 The kids are going to another "vacation bible school" this week, this one at my son's church.  So all this week we don't have to feed them dinner.  The girls are also going to be in the reading program at the library starting wednsday.  with next monday being a special evening event involving the "Hunger Games", the first prize is a boxed set of the books (hardbound).  Maybe one of the kids will win it.

 Well, I need to get back to my work; I got to plant some free irises a little while ago.

   Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

First Yard Sale Finds of the Year!

Well we did a bit of yard saleing this morning and we go a few deals.
  This nice heavy duty gas weed eater was a bargain at $3.  It works, it is a tad temperamental though; no more than the chain saw we first had.  We did discover it was missing a spring for the line, so we have changed that out for a saw blade.  Which I have to say, works much better than the "string" in them.

 At the same yard sale we bought 3 pipe wrenches for $2 each, and a very nice mini cleaver for $.50.  Very nice as in... a $50 kitchen knife that is barely used.    I do have to say I find some pricing(s) silly, at the same yard sale the gentleman wanted to sell his beat up window AC unit for $50. 

More silliness...?  At one multi-family yard sale we bought 2 oil lamps one was $2, and one was $1.50.  Now the $2 was missing it's wall bracket, and was dry.  The $1.50 one is glass and was over half full of oil.
     Next find from Friday:
  This is one of those couple hundred dollar baker's rack's that has a counter top on it.  Guess what?  We bought it for $5 and all it needs is a new counter top.  Loads of fun driving home with that on top of the van, we heard some lovely noises from the wind going through the metal. It's bigger than most of the ones I have seen, it's about 6ft tall and maybe 3-4 ft wide.

 I think it'll be a nice addition to our home, once we get a new top on it.  As we have no where to put it unless it gets a counter top.  Then it'll temporarily hold the working computer.

 Speaking of computer's we got one for free today.. yes, and it works; even has tons of software.  It does seem to have one ...minor... problem.  Seems the internal batter doesn't work.  So until we can find a way to replace it we can't use it.  Oh well, free doesn't always mean it'll work 100%.  
     Now  what is in my opinion our BIGGEST find:
  That is a 1/2 gallon mason jar.  I got 8 of those, 15 quart, and about the same in mayo jars for a total of $8.50!   I personally have never seen first hand the 1/2 gallon ones before.  So I'm glad I ran across these today and I could not pass them up.

The woman who sold them to us said she doesn't can anymore and that they use to can juice and that is why she had the 1/2 gallon.   I wonder if I could do my spaghetti sauce in them.  It would make them single serving jars for us then.  I'll have to look it up and see if it's possible to do it.  I certainly hope I can, as otherwise I'm not sure what we'd use them for.

 Well, I gotta go get my hair washed as me and the family are going over by my friend, Queen sized Tink's place for a combined birthday party for one of her roommates and another person on their road.  Hope your weekend is a good one!

   Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be...