August 2013- overwhelmed and owls

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Garlic and scrambled duck eggs for breakfast, I made these honey fridge pickles yesterday and still have 10 gallons of green beans to deal with, garlic’s out and curing, 6 beds to clear and seed/transplant (napa babies need to get planted ASAP!) into, the shed’s done and gone and look at all the open space, and we’re getting a new oven/stove today, hay to unload on Sat or Sunday, then CSA

apple time begins!

apple time begins!

August, really?

Yep, we have like a month to go before the first frost date. I cannot even believe that! I was JUST planning out this year, wrapped up in my snowpants, upstairs at my desk, in our freezing house. Time’s spinning quickly, I’m getting older and I guess this is how it must go?

We did get the new oven delivered, all the hay unloaded, and the garden beds cleared. I planted all my cauliflower, napa and red cabbage babies, seeded daikon and german giant radishes in fertilie beds of beauty. Head lettuce, collards and leeks are going in next. Been picking the dickens out of the cucumber and green bean patches, but for some reason, I don’t know- may have something to do with my overdoing it last year- I’m not really feeling that into canning this year. I did over 700 jars last year, and, yeah, that might have something to do with this feeling. I love having a stocked “prepper” pantry just in case of emergency, but I also see all I have left after last year, and now rotations have to happen before I can add more jars to the mix. Add freezing to the preservation routines…. Last winter we did not use our precious frozen veggies like I thought we would (our oven was out of service, so the casseroles I’d planned to use them in never happened.) All these 2013 results from 2012 work, lead to me not feel that into doing it again this year. Or maybe……..it’ll be an every other year thing?

August brings bounty. I’ll try to summon my domestic goddess and get busy.

Things are trucking over here. Because I’m not really doing much canning so far, the days are filled with tending, planning and observation. I like it this way so much, but I do sort of miss the crazed satisfaction that comes with a day full of canning, cheesemaking, milking and everything else. I’m just feeling a bit tired this year. Kind of an exhaustion that has built up over the past 2 years of insanity- neverending stress and work here on the farm. It’s good to just relax a tiny bit. I’m getting old, you guys, that may also have something to do with it.

But I did do a little bit of canning today- hot pepper jelly.

Our peppers have been producing like MAD. I like to think it’s because of  my starting them so early, coddling them in our living room through February, March, April, and into late May when we finally able to get them transplanted out to the garden. Regardless of the reasons for their prolificness, we’ve got an amazing bounty of peppers and my heart swells with joy, my stomach grumbles thinking about the breakfast burritos we’ve been enjoying, the pico de gallo we’ve been shoving into our faces, the pickled peppers I put up, & all the peppers we’ve been able to put into our CSA boxes for our members.

The tomatoes have been really interesting to watch, since many of the plants are from seeds I saved last year. Sadly, it turns out half of the plants were transplanted into a very poor area of our garden, and they never grew like crazy like the other ones have. I’d thought the ducks had had enough time on that area over the winter to fertilize it well, but I guess I was wrong. The plants are tiny, many of the fruits have blossom end rot, but the perfect tomatoes that DO come off those plants, I’m saving seed from- those are little fighters, and very god genetics to keep developing. Giant Purple, Volunteer Giant Goldie and Ida Gold are the three in that section that I saved seeds from, and I’ll keep trying to work on developing them. All yu gotta do is take the seeds from the best tomatoes and let them ferment in a vessel for a few days, mimicking the fermentation of the fruit rotting.

In the better soil part of the tomato planting, I have my very prized Chocolate Stripes plants, and they all got so loaded with tomatoes they mostly have fell of the trellising and got blight. But despite that, and I have to say we’ve had a really f*ked up spring/summer, that a tomato, seriously- so gorgeous, so tasty, so early, so prolific. Chocolate Stripes came back true to the seed i saved too.

In late July and into August now, we’ve had very cool nights, and not many hot days, leading to slow ripening and production of all the heat lovers (except my precious peppers.) Thank god we put some winter squash seeds into the hoophouse, I’m not sure the ones in the garden are going to do anything. The hoophouse squash are growing 15 feet up in the air, attaching their tendrils to the purlis and tomato trellis twining from last year, growing at orbs of winter squash delights for our CSA. My favorite squash of all time is the Buttercup- so sweet and dense, but it doesn’t keep long. Funny thing to note, I still have the gigantic squash from last year just sitting in th livingroom. It hasn’t rotted as far as I can tell. Obviously, we don’t eat alot of winter squash, even though I know we should, otherwise that puppy would have been long gone, but what an interesting genetic base! Definitely planting it’s seeds next year! Wonder how long it will keep in good condition? I should probably crack it open soon, as I know the seeds inside can actually germinate if you leave them in there too long.

That’s all for now. I don’t want to get into our owl problem that has arisen in the past week, it’s too depressing. But surely, I will dish about it soon.

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