Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Princess

Separated from her mother, and finally tagged.  We were busy getting ready for the boys to leave for camp, garden, and firewood, etc.  Princess didn't get tagged until Sunday.
Princess, June 2014
She was a little harder to wrangle and tag yesterday, having gained a few pounds and a whole lot of muscle!
Princess, August 2014
She went to the auction yesterday morning.  The price of beef is running high, too high to even think about keeping her. 
Princess in the auction ring
I got $2.20/lb for her.  I probably could have gotten more, but I chickened out on the bidding.  At 190 lbs, I really can't complain.  She paid for her mother's hay last winter, plus a little profit.

Friday, August 15, 2014

More Rain

We had a short break in the rain this morning, so I ran out to water the greenhouses.
Weeds, and a few veggies, enjoying the rain.
Except when I got there, I had no water.  Back to the house- did I forget to turn on the hose?  Nope, it's on.  I turned it up a little.

Back to the garden.  No water.  Walk back, tracing the hose step by step.  No kinks.

Raining again.  Forget it.  Go shut the hose off.  Well, there you go.  I guess I forgot to switch the splitter from pasture to garden.  Maybe later...

After three days of rain, and a high of 9°C (48°F) yesterday, I finally gave in and lit a fire last night.  I hate wasting fire wood this early in the year, but shivering all night isn't likely to motivate me to doing anything productive today.

It's our anniversary today.  15 months since Dad died.  I'm ok with the word 'happy' now.  The first year every time someone said 'happy', I either cried or looked at them like they had sprouted another head.  Happy Birthday, Happy Mother's Day, Happy Hallowe'en, Happy New Year...  Seriously?  Happy seemed like such a cruel concept.

I'm still not happy.  But at least I'm not crying.  And I guess you only have one head now.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Pruning

Pumpkin Ville
The first week of August has passed.  I'm a bit behind.  Last year I started pinching off the suckers on the tomato plants on the first of August.  This year, I started yesterday.  We haven't had any frost warnings yet, so, so far, I'm not picking any tomatoes.

I cut the ends off the pumpkin vines.  So sad...  They were doing so great, and buried in the mass of weeds I've seen a few good sized pumpkins already.  Never the less, I need the plants to get serious about ripening the pumpkins I already have, not growing more vine.

I cut the ends off of some of the Far North Melons as well.  Some of them are buried in the pumpkin mess, and I have no idea how they're faring.  I love the sight of the little melons.  They look like tiny watermelons, with speckled skin.  So cute, lol.

I'm not holding much hope for the watermelons.  Still flowering, but I haven't seen any melons starting.  Not much time left now.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Inventory

Canning season is about to begin! 
Raspberries Ready to Pick
 And I haven't taken inventory yet of what's left in the basement, so here goes... 
Lots of empty jars

Ok, somebody slap me.  Did I cook at all last year?


Lemon lime Concentrate 17 1/2 pints (the boys don't care for it- too sour)
Lemonade 11 pints
Dill pickles 35 quarts (some are discoloured and I will toss out to the birds)
Tomato juice 7 1.36L cans (store bought, but if I get enough tomatoes I'll make my own to fill the shelf)
Beets 26.5 quarts
 
Mixed Fruit 22 quarts (really?  they could have helped themselves to that...)
Cabbage 1 quart (thought I was out!)
Pectin 11 1/2 pint
Tallow 9 quarts
Yellow beans 15 pints
Salsa 11.5 pints
Pasta sauce 11 quarts (store bought, but if I get enough tomatoes I'll make my own to fill the shelf)
Relish- dill pickle- 3 pints
Relish- sweet 3 pints (this turned out not too bad once it had a chance to stew in it's juices)
Pea soup - 10 pints
Cr. Of Celery- 2 pints
Stew- 4 pints
Ham and Potato soup- 8 pints
Cr. Of Mushroom- 6 pints (blech...  I liked it at first, but after a while, not so much.  Now I'm dreading having to use the rest of it up.)
Strawberry jam- 9 pints
Too blue raspberry jam- 7 1/2 pints
Pumpkin butter- 7 1/2 pints (I'm afraid to eat it now, and don't know how to get rid of it.)
Raspberry sauce- 16.5 pints
Mint jelly- 2 pints
Blueberry jam- 9 pints
Rosehip syrop- 4 pints (No pancakes all winter?)
Crabapple syrop- 3 pints
Watermelon jam- 6 pints
Chokecherry jam- 4.5 pints (I might as well toss these.  Too sour)
Crabapple jelly- 8 pints
Blueberry sauce- 8 1/2 pints
Crabapple sauce- 5 pints

Ok, so I did cook, just not particularly well.  I was still a little out of my mind last winter.  One day at a time.

Ok, so, I need more juice.  Wine is going well, but doesn't go with breakfast.  The boys enjoyed the grape juice, I thought it tasted like sugar water.  We mixed it with the crabapple juice and both disappeared.  So I could do another batch of those.

The Blueberry Limeade is a hit, so if I freeze enough blueberries I should be able to mix them with the lemon lime concentrate and use it up.  I'll try a jug and see if that sweetens it enough.

Rhubarb juice is a big hit, but we only get enough rhubarb to drink it through the summer.

I found a recipe for Watermelon Raspberry Juice, but I haven't tried it yet.  It would be a good way to use up the part of the watermelon that won't fit in the fridge.  I also found instructions to make berry juices, which I need to try, and rosehip juice.  Having a good supply of jams, sauces and syrops will leave me ample fruit to experiment with different juices.

I'll make more dill pickles, but quit when I run out of dill.

Cabbage- huge hit.
Salsa- 11.5 pints left from 49
Relish- need more plain boring relish, and maybe some more sweet relish too.
Mint Jelly- one batch will be plenty

Tomato sauce and juice will depend on how many ripe tomatoes I get this year.

Pincherry and chokecherry wine are on the to-do list.  I might try elderberry juice instead of wine.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Little Garden Update

Harvest Tuesday
Purslane, Dill, Long Slim Pepper, Pickling Cucumbers, Radish, Peas
'Cause I never got around to it on Monday.  Not that I'm really into that whole 'Harvest Monday' thing, just that garden chores tend to get put off on the weekends in favour of more manual work while Husband is home.  I harvest throughout the week, but there just tends to be a bit more of a 'glut' on Monday mornings.  Not pictured- another bucket of lettuce, a bunch of mint hung to dry, and my first ever bunch of oregano hung to dry.
Oregano
I made one jar of refrigerator pickles with cucumbers- not enough yet to can, but soon.  I added the purslane leaves to a stir fry for supper, along with a bit of that Long Slim Pepper.  Hot!  Hot, I tell you.  A little bit goes a long way.

Greenhouse #1 Is being taken over by the pumpkin plants.  They're crowding out the Far North Melons.  I gingerly picked up the trailers and rearranged them to go towards the outside.

The neglected, badly weeded outside.  Then I pulled a lot of grass to make things more comfortable for them.

I was pleasantly surprised by the number of tiny pumpkins on the vines already.

Four little pumpkins on this vine alone!  If they make it, these Algonquins will definitely be the way of the future for me.

The Far North Melons are also sprouting tiny babies.  With two months to go, they both stand a decent chance of producing well.

The watermelons are just starting to flower now, nasturdiums haven't flowered yet, and the beans I planted after the frost in June are nearly ready to flower.  There doesn't appear to be much difference between the ones in the greenhouse and the two rows I added outside.

Delphiniums are flowering now,

which keeps the bumbles happy.

In Greenhouse #1 the cabbages are coming along nicely, starting to form heads.

Broccoli and Brussels sprouts are gaining height.  Eggplant is short and the plant is yellowed.  Kohlrabi has lovely leaves, but not much bulk.  Kale is almost ready to eat.  Sugar beets are coming along slowly.

Greenhouse #2 is wild with tomatoes now.  They're crowding the pepper plants.

Both greenhouses' cucumbers are doing well.

The rest of the garden...

Beans, beans, corn, calendula, potatoes and WEEDS!  everywhere!

Fresh manure composting where the first beans were planted.

Peas rocking the fence- some over 5' tall.  Mangels coming along slowly, carrots doing well, radishes getting too big, lettuce doing great, swiss chard slow and pale looking, spinach gone to seed, romaine coming slowly, and sunflowers doing well.  And WEEDS EVERYWHERE!

The weeds seem to be in overdrive this year.  I'm pulling at least two five gallon pails every day, sometimes 5 or 6.  The rain has been generous this month though, and each rainfall sprouts another batch of weeds.  Many buckets have been fed to the chickens, and many buckets are becoming silage for winter feed.  So many more to pull!

Strawberries flowering!  Not too many plants, and they were attacked by a goat before she sold, but maybe, just maybe, I might get to eat one this year!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Chicks in the Coop

The new chicks are moved in to the coop.  They seem to have strong primal instincts.  They chase down bugs and scratch through the weeds like nobody's business.  I've never seen such a vigorous bunch of hatchlings before.
Even the damaged chick is doing fairly well.  Most of the shell is off his back, although I notice now that he has something- egg liner maybe- stuck to one side of his face.  It kind of looks like a dry patch of skin.  It's covering part of his eye.  Hopefully it will peel off soon.  I tried to lift it off gently, but it's wound into his fluff.  Still, he's a spunky little thing!

11 eggs were left unhatched.  I broke them open and all but two were at least partially developed.  Two looked like they should have been ready to hatch with the others, but didn't.  All of the partially developed chicks were dark coloured.  I wonder if there might be something wrong with the barred rocks.  All of the chicks that hatched are light coloured, or red tinged, only one with dark spots.  It seems odd to me at least.


UPDATE:  I sold the chicks!  July 30th, all of them went to the same home.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The New Hatch

They weren't due to start hatching until Monday, but Friday night the first chirps were heard.  We actually thought one of the older chicks had gotten loose and come up to the house at first.  Then I realized my eggs were chirping.  Quickly out of the egg turner and onto the screen.  Three eggs were already pipped and all three hatched that night.
Saturday morning there were 6, then another 3 throughout the day.  Sunday morning the incubator was overloaded with balls of fluff.  11 went into the box beside the incubator.

There are 17 now, with 11 eggs left unhatched.  I'm going to give them another day before I shut the incubator off, but I think they're probably done.

The last chick to hatch had a hard time of it.  Part of someone else's shell got stuck to his shell.  I don't know how long he had been trying to break free when I noticed it.  I peeled off the extra shell for him, but his inner shell had already started drying out.  He managed to break free, but there are bits of shell stuck to him.  He's kind of wobbly on his feet too.  I don't think he'll make it, but time will tell.

With this hatch I added a small dish of feed inside the incubator.  The shells provide all the feed they need for the first 24 hours, but the last batch didn't seem to be eating until about day three.  I thought putting a little feed in the incubator with them might help.  It seems to have worked.  This batch is off to a good start eating and drinking lots.

Now I know I should quit for this year- that's a lot of chicken to feed this winter- but an empty incubator makes me sad.  So I advertised this batch on kijiji.  Oh!  Maybe I'll make some money...  I'll start collecting eggs for another hatch...