skip to main |
skip to sidebar
Because you asked, Erin . . .
As you can see, we made a pretty good dent in it at lunch time. Hubby informed me another piece is all he wants for dinner tonight . . . with vanilla ice cream, please.
Geesh, you give me three and a half days away on vacation and I don't want to get back into the routine and do what needs to be done!
Yup, I'm having a little trouble buckling down back here at home. I think it has something to do with the gorgeous weather we've had since returning. How's about we just put the canoe back on the top of the Suburban and go off on a day trip? Huh, huh, huh? Can we, can we? Pu-leeeeze?
Okay, I have not been a total slough-off. Yesterday both Papa Pea and I went to work and painted preservative on the boards that will be used in the reconstruction of our high-sided trailer. We hope to get that little (?) project crossed off the list yet this year before the weather makes it uncomfortable for working outside.
Some garden clean-up and a bit of late-season harvesting has gotten accomplished also.
In my effort to be nicer to myself, I spent some time in my quilt room today. I worked on what I hope will be a new holiday wall hanging for the kitchen.
There's this blank wall space between two south facing windows and I've been keeping a seasonal wall hanging there, but I don't have an appropriate one for Christmas/New Year's. The quilt of fall leaves pictured above is one I did a few years ago. I hand quilted the whole blasted thing and I remember it taking for-EVER to complete. But I have to admit I've always been very happy with the way it turned out. (Have I ever mentioned patience is not one of my virtues?)
I'm kinda winging it on this new one I'm making and it may not turn out at all, but I'm enjoying the process so that's the important thing.
Tomorrow will be given to extracting honey. Our guess of how much we will get this year is bouncing between thirty and sixty pounds. This time tomorrow night we'll know for sure. Harvesting the honey from our hives is always fun and satisfying, but at the same time a messy (to say the least) operation that will take up the better part of the day by the time all the clean-up is done.
We have some apples that we think are ripe on a couple of our fruit trees and hubby has been hinting strongly for an apple pie so I'm going to get one in the oven first thing in the morning while he's getting the extracting equipment set up and ready.
Like it or not, kinda looks like I'm getting back into the routine here on the homestead, doesn't it?
P.S. I DO like it.
My good blogging buddy Susan over at e-i-e-i-omg! posted a picture of one of her MONSTER Old German heritage tomatoes this morning. Well done, Gardening Maven! I haven't seen a tomato like that since my grandpa grew 'maters for all of his seven children's families (yes, he did) in the 40s, 50s and 60s. And the flavor of those old heritage varieties cannot be surpassed.
This seemed like a good time for me to brag that *I* can grow big things in my garden, too.
WA-hoo, get a load of them zucchinis!
I purposely let these guys grow and grow and grow since we had our fill of that rampantly growing veggie long ago. (Ooops, sorry, Susan, I meant to say v-e-g-e-t-a-b-l-e rather than veggie. Forgive me.)
Okay, you guys know I'm just trying to be funny in comparing zucchinis to tomatoes. (I mean would YOU want to eat a BLZ sandwich??) There IS no comparison to a home grown tomato as just about anyone (even those of us way up here in the northern reaches) can grow zucchinis but surely not everyone can grow (I sure can't) humongous, luscious, prized tomatoes as Susan does.
Hubby and I just got back from a Monday through early Thursday mini-vacation. We drove about 35 miles to an inland lake and stayed at one of two cabins acquaintances of ours have as a part of their outfitting business.
We were able to do this because our dear daughter stayed here on ye ol' homestead and kept the home fires burning. Literally. We're definitely into a cooler time of year and the two tank tops and pair of shorts I took on our little getaway came home unworn. Luckily, we knew enough to take plenty of warm clothing also, and we needed it.
Although the weather was very cool, it could not have been more colorful or invigorating. We hiked and canoed until we could do no more and had a great time.
We saw deer, a moose, a fox, four grouse, two loons, a timber wolf and five otters that were about the cutest things I've seen in a long time.
We were canoeing back to the cabin into a strong wind and spitting rain when I saw two heads up ahead swimming across our path. I pointed them out to Papa Pea and they apparently heard my voice because they stopped and in unison popped up out of the water about a full 12", and held their pose while staring at us. Then they disappeared under the water and three more came up a ways behind the first two! The five of them put on quite a show diving and reappearing to oogle at us. It reminded me a lot of the synchronized swimmers in the Olympics! I tried to get a picture but the lake was too choppy, the weather was gray and rainy and Papa Pea was having a hard time holding the canoe steady while I was working with camera rather than paddle in the bow. What a treat it was to watch the otters in their natural element looking like they couldn't be any happier.
Our friends had told us they had a nuisance bear in the area so not to put any garbage out in the cans behind the cabin after 3 p.m. when they collected it. Next morning was okay to do so because the bear was only making his rounds at night. Turns out the garbage cans were on the other side of the cabin wall where we were sleeping and at midnight the first night, we both bolted awake to such a racket we were sure the bear was coming through the wall. Not so, as the next morning all we found were the perfectly clean garbage cans lifted out of the wooden structure where they were stored, the tops off and tipped over in front of our vehicle but no damage done. Two nights later the bear came snuffling up onto the deck by the door investigating but found nothing of interest so sauntered off on his nocturnal way.
I got a couple of pictures of the moose we came upon eating in a swampy area.
We're assuming this was a cow because I think the bulls would have a rack this time of year. If it was a cow, she sure was a biggun'!
It's really hard to describe how big a moose is. Even if you've seen a few of them in your lifetime, almost always the first thing out of your mouth when you come upon one is, "My gosh, that's a HUGE animal!"
I think we were lucky enough to take our time away right at peak colors. Each view was more beautiful than the last.
But we're home again now, we're unpacked and Chicken Mama (thank you, thank you, thank you) who took such good care of our place has left to go home for the remainder of her day off work today.
We're slowly easing back into reality but have lots of good memories from the last few days and are vowing (Vowing, do you hear me? VOWING!) to get in several more days (probably one-day outings) recreating in this gorgeous season of the year.
The answer to the question is: No, not until a few more of the outside fall chores are done.
I did spend a couple of hours over the weekend in my quilt room . . . cleaning and organizing.
There's no doubt I designed the room with lots of storage space.
And although it's all pretty neat and compact, I still don't have enough room for everything I'd like to have in there. (Can any of you relate?)
I won't even show you the stack of fabric and quilts I have in a corner because I can't find anywhere else to put them.
And most of my knitting supplies are upstairs in an unfinished storage area off hubby's office.
All the same, I'm very, very grateful to have a designated room of my own.
We've been going through a period where having a second bedroom in the house would be extremely handy, and I've given thought to giving up my quilt room so it could be made into a bedroom. But truth be told, that would just about break my little quilting heart in two.
Even though I don't spend as much time in my room as I would like, there's always the hope that I will find the time to do so in the not too distant future. Winter is coming, winter is coming, winter is . . .
No, it's not quite time to put the strawberry patch to bed for the winter yet, but Katie (her blog is here) asked me a couple of days ago if I would go over how we prepare our strawberries for winter.
The first step toward happy, healthy strawberry plants for next year is a buzz cut. I know this isn't a highly recommended method you might read about, but it's worked really well for me.
Let me digress for a bit. Half of my berry patch (the whole patch is approximately 16' x 16' and contains around 130-140 plants) is going into its fifth year and the other half is going into its seventh year. These are the original mother plants I put in that many years ago. I always cut off any and all runners the main plant sends out. I know letting the runners grow and either going to a matted row system or transplanting the "babies" to another location is a way to expand and/or get "free" strawberry plants. However, I believe letting the mother plant send out runners weakens the main plant and causes it to produce fewer and smaller berries and have a shorter life span so you have to replace your plants sooner. Also, it's been my experience that plants propagated from runners are never as strong as a mother plant.
I was disappointed in my strawberry crop this year in that the berries were smaller than usual and the season was very short. At first I gave myself several hand slaps to the forehead thinking, "Well, you dummy, you pushed those wonderful, loyal plants too far. What do you expect from plants that old?" But then! I heard reports from the two pick-your-own strawberry farms not far from us in Canada. They had exactly the same kind of berry crop I did this year. Now I'm thinking it was our weird spring and summer weather so I'm going to give my plants another year to see what they do before pulling them out and starting a new bed.
But back to the hair cut. Every year, about two weeks after the plants stop bearing, my hubby takes the lawn mower and mows down every single plant being careful not to have the blades set so low that the actual crown of the plant is damaged. His mowing leaves about a 1" high stubble on the plants.
Then the plants have time to re-grow healthy, new foliage (the above picture is what they look like today) before frost hits and they start to die back.
After about the second hard frost we get, we cover the whole patch with either old hay or straw to a depth of about 12". The mulch will settle quite a bit so it's important to pile it on thickly. This mulch isn't so much to protect the plants from the cold as to keep them from partially thawing on bright, sunny winter days and then freezing over night. It's the continued thawing and freezing that will cause the plants to heave up out of the ground and eventually die.
Up here in northern Minnesota, spring takes its own sweet time in arriving so we wait until we're pretty sure we're past any hard freezes before we uncover the strawberry plants for their growing season. That date is usually sometime in May.
Hope some of this helps you, Katie. You're quite a bit south of us, more in a climate we were when we lived in Illinois, but I followed the same routine when we gardened there.
Who can figure out the story on this one?
This morning when we looked into the poultry yard to see if the six Canadian Geese were still there . . .
. . . only one goose was left. Still (in early afternoon) nary a sign of the other five.
This goose seems to be in good shape and not injured. S/he was able to fly in with the others earlier this week. Why was this one left behind when the other five left?
For the past few days, we've had six wild Canadian Geese staying with us in the poultry pasture.
In the past some have set down on the pond for a quick rest now and then but we've never had any stay as long as these have.
Unlike the wild Mallard ducks we frequently have, these guys don't seem the least bit interested in scattered grain. They are grazing machines chowing down almost constantly on the thick grass still ample in the pasture.
I'm pretty sure they must be stoking up for the flight south and we'll wake up some morning soon to see them gone. We'll miss them. Our domestic geese? Probably not so much. They've tolerated the visitors but will occasionally give them a half-hearted, hissing charge so they know who owns the place.
The lowest our thermometer showed was 38 degrees early this morning but there is white stuff that suspiciously resembles frost on a couple of our outbuilding roofs. As far as I can tell, nothing settled on the garden.
Looks to be a lovely, sunny, although cooler day, but rain is forecast for almost all the rest of the week. If that happens, it will be welcomed as we are very dry and forest fires (nothing serious in our immediate area so far) have been popping up all over. I'm grateful we got adequate moisture for the garden growing season but it's not good to be so dry in the fall when all the trees and underbrush are losing their moisture content.
I don't watch many movies. A couple of days ago I was in our library and saw the book, "Albert Nobbs," and considered checking it out. But then I spied the movie of the same name in the DVD section so I opted to take that. After dinner last night, I sat down to watch it.
Oh. My. Gosh.
The story is not a pleasant one; it's a raw tale of the servant class in Dublin, Ireland, in the 1800s. But the acting is knock-your-socks-off fantastic! Glenn Close and Janet McTeer were, in my estimation, magnificent. I don't know if the makeup artists for the movie won any awards, but they should have. I had never heard of Janet McTeer before so Googled her and was amazed to see she is a beautiful woman. Nothing you would ever suspect from her physical presence in the movie. If you find yourself in a mood for a movie that isn't light and fluffy and funny (my usual selection), watch "Albert Nobbs."
I had planned on spending most of the day today outside doing more yard and garden clean-up but a sore throat kept me from sleeping soundly last night. I had an inkling all day yesterday that some germies were trying to get a grip on me and that seems to have materialized. Dang. (Where the heck did I pick up this sore throat?) Well, I'm tougher than any ol' little germ so if I can keep a sensible (ha!) mindset, I'll lay low today, hit the homeopathic remedies, make sure a lot of liquid flushes through my whole system and do what I can to soothe my throat. Right now I feel like somebody has stolen every ounce of energy from my body. Is it permissible to get back into your jammies at 10:30 in the morning?
I've not done much blogging these last couple of days, maybe because not too much noteworthy has been going on around here.
That's not to say we've been napping a lot and stuffing ourselves with caramel corn. (Okay, so I DID make two double batches of caramel corn. Hey, it's the perfect time of year for it, right?)
We really have been getting things accomplished.
One thing that's been happening is the sorting out of areas that have been too much of a mumble-jumbled mess for too long. De-cluttering, if you will. That's the aim anyway. How much headway we'll continue to make (and there is a LOT of headway still to be made) along those lines remains to be seen. But we have been working at it.
While trying to bring organization to the disorganization, deciding what to toss and what to keep, figuring out what to put where for a better way of storing it, we've found we're a pretty good working team.
My hubby has plans and ideas that would never occur to me. He's truly an idea man. He can come up with a "good" reason for keeping anything. I'm the practical, down-to-earth one who sees more clearly that we can't do everything each of us professes to want to do. He's always ready to think outside the box and I can see what is realistically possible and what is not. (He's fond of referring to me as his anchor. But I'm not at all sure he means it in the most complimentary way.)
I like to think that we each have our strong points and by working together and respecting each other, we're making some changes that will benefit both of us more than if we just did everything his way or my way.
"We can't take any credit for our talents. It's how we use them that counts."
- Madeleine L'Engle
Yesterday we threw our small packs in the car and took off to do some hiking in this beautiful fall-ish weather. It was windy and overcast but also warmer than we had expected.
The uphill was a bit strenuous. Or at least the lactic acid burning in my thigh and buttock muscles claimed it was. Dagnabbit, I sure would have thought I would have been in better shape after a summer of gardening and work around home. But as my dear husband tried to explain to me, when we're hiking or climbing, we use an entirely different set of muscles (or at least use them in a different way) than we do otherwise. (His muscles were "talking" to him, too.)
No matter. We both made it without damaging our bodies in the least. No after effects this morning. And there's no doubt the exertion (puff-puff), fresh air and relaxing effect was good for us.
Hiking boots, resting boots. Even without bright sunlight the whole hike was gorgeous.
Frost warning for us tonight. I'm thinking it won't happen though. But I'll be sure to close the cold frames over the tomatoes and peppers . . . just in case.
Well, my. Either it's the time of year when everyone is totally-plumb-pooped from too much physical activity this summer or very few people are familiar with Qigong! Or maybe we all have a need to dismiss adding anything new to our lives and scale back to a simpler daily routine of dealing with all the "necessaries" that already fill our lives.
Only two readers left a comment saying they would like to receive the VCR "Qigong for Healing" tape I offered and that's perfectly fine. It certainly made the chance of winning the draw better for both entrants!
But even with those odds, I have only one tape . . . so only one winner. And that lucky lady is . . . Akannie! (If you would send me your mailing address via the "Contact" button over on the right hand side bar, I'll get it mailed off to you asap.)
Wish I had two copies of the tape to send one to you also, Judy. Thanks to both of you for entering the drawing!
Try as I might, I haven't found much time for doing handwork in the last couple of weeks.
We're still putzing along on the never-ending remodeling jobs which feels good because, even though it might not seem like it on a daily basis, we ARE making progress and continually improving our everyday living environment and the organization of this place.
I spent time this past weekend (and Monday) getting several coats of a dark walnut stain on the plywood floor in the garage area where we're installing the new washing machine and utility sink.
Papa Pea has been putting in his spare time on the rebuilding of the high-sided trailer.
I did go to my handwork group yesterday morning and finished knitting the ribbing on the bottom of the blue sweater I've been working on.
Next is to pick up and knit the ribbing around the neck and down each front. As you knitters out there know, this particular operation can be a bit tricky so I'll have to find a time when I can be by myself (just in case any bad words accidentally escape my mouth) and give my full attention to the task.
Today I want to get out and do a lot of clean-up work in the garden. I have trouble pulling up plants that are still green even though definitely past their usefulness/bearing time. If I can keep reminding myself that it's oh-so-much easier to get rid of them now than when they are brittle-brown and half frozen into the ground!
Cooler temps for the rest of our week . . . supposedly. The bulk of our hummingbirds left about a week and a half ago which is earlier than the usual departure date of around September 15th. We've seen only one (or what we think is one individual bird) in the past week. I do believe fall has finally arrived.
Do ya wanna loosen your joints?
Create a strong calming effect on your mind and body?
Help heal a variety of ailments?
Learn a preventative health program that balances and revitalizes your whole body?
You say you do? Well, have I got a VCR tape for you!
In rearranging our TV/stereo area, I came across this tape I've had for several years and would now like to pass it along to someone who will actually use it.
Along with all of the above listed benefits, "Qigong for Healing" supposedly will " . . . cultivate clear and free flowing qi, the body's life force, which is essential to good health." (Now, who's gonna pass that up?)
So who wants their name thrown in the hat to win this give-a-way? Doesn't matter if you've never commented on my blog before or if you're a regular around here. Just leave a comment letting me know you'd be interested in receiving this instructional tape. I'll close comments tomorrow night, Tuesday, when I shut down my computer, usually around 9 p.m., and draw a winner sometime Wednesday morning.
Come on, jump in. You know you'd like to loosen your joints!
This is the second morning in a row that it's been 50 degrees outside and 63 degrees inside. It's the second morning in a row that we've made a wee fire in the main wood stove to stave off the chill while getting ready for the day.
Day before yesterday we put cold frames on the bed of peppers (they've been especially slow this year, but now have many blossoms on them) and the bed of cherry tomatoes.
They're opened up during the day . . .
. . . but closed down each night when the sun no longer offers any warmth.
I didn't put a cold frame over the slicing cucs, as we're kinda full of as many as we can eat fresh, and I have about 15 harvested cucs stored in the spare refrigerator as we speak. But this morning I'm wondering if I should try to prolong the harvest of cucs to make more of Jennifer Jo's refrigerator pickles. Last night I made two more half gallon jars full. One for us and one for Chicken Mama to take home. I might/maybe/should haul out another cold frame to prolong the life of the cucumber bed.
"Oh, Papa Pea? Honey? I need your help. Again."
This is what we just ate for lunch today.
A luscious bowl of vanilla ice cream and beautiful cantaloupe (the color on this picture isn't enhanced at all . . . the melon was actually that color) straight from the garden.
Unfortunately, it wasn't my garden. We went 130 miles south of us yesterday to pick up laying mash and grain from friends of ours who have a very successful farming operation. While there, we were lucky enough to get a tour of their garden and orchard. I nearly wept at the beautiful bounty of their grape arbors. (Someday we're gonna get grapes established and successfully growing here. Someday. It's on the list.)
T gave us one of the biggest cantaloupes I've ever seen plucked right from the vines in her garden.
So that's what we had for lunch today . . . cantaloupe and ice cream. We both couldn't help but contentedly sigh and moan (several times) because of how good it tasted. It was wonderful. (I think it's a proven fact that when you eat ice cream as your lunch, the calories don't count.)
Jennifer Jo over at Mama's Minutia posted a recipe for refrigerator pickles the first part of August and I just got around to trying it this past weekend.
How did they turn out? FANTASTIC! I mean really, really good. Different than any dill-type pickles I've ever made, but so tasty. I especially liked them because I could use the hot peppers I grew in my garden in them.
Let me explain. Up until this year, I've never grown anything but sweet peppers because neither Papa Pea nor I have ever really been "into" spicy or hot foods. However, a while back we decided we needed to develop a taste for same because all zingy peppers contain capsaicin which is reported to be very good for us.
Just listen to what it will do for you.
~ Encourage weight loss because it burns calories.
~ Keeps blood vessels clear.
~ Improves circulation.
~ Prevents carcinogens from binding to DNA.
~ Kills (bad) bacteria.
~ Provides relief from headaches.
~ Aids digestion.
~ Acts as an expectorant when you have a cold.
~ Ointment or cream containing capsaicin blocks pain.
And those are only a few of the benefits.
Well, my. Why haven't we been eating hot peppers by the bushelful?
But back to the pickles. Yes, they do have a nice bite to them thanks to the peppers included in the recipe. And, of course, the degree of "bite" will depend on how hot a pepper you choose to use. (We're just neophytes in this arena so we are building up our tolerance slowly. Please be patient with us.)
The pickles are crispy and crunchy which is always desirable in a dill pickle, right?
The only deviation I made from Jennifer Jo's recipe was that I added only two peppers (but they were large, about 6" long) instead of the 3-6 listed in the directions. And, blast and dang, I didn't have any fresh dill so I substituted dill seed using 2 tablespoons which seemed to work well. We're nearly through our 1/2 gallon jar of them and I gathered more cucs today to make a new batch.
So if you want a taste treat in a pickle that is easy to make and will cause taste-testers to ask for the recipe, click here and it will take you to Jennifer Jo's blog post and recipe.
I thank Jennifer Jo, and you will, too!
~ Not planning on leaving the homestead today.
~ Hubby wants to do a lot of mowing including our small hay field.
~ Even though it's a gorgeous day outside, I think I'm going to make myself tackle inside chores I've been putting off for too long. It will feel good to get them done. Or at least started.
~ Papa Pea suffered a bit of shell shock yesterday. He and I made a quick trip into town to pick up some free wall cabinets for the garage (fruitless trip as they were gone when we got there) and the crowds of people in town for the holiday weekend almost sent him over the edge. He couldn't wait to turn around and "get the heck out of Dodge!" It just serves to point up what a blessed little sanctuary we have back here in the woods.
~ I tried a new pasta dish for dinner last night that was FABULOUS. If you want to look at the recipe go to the post by The Iowa Housewife here. I made it with the first cutting of my fall crop of spinach from the garden. Boy-howdy, was it good! (Couple of notes: I didn't understand the "1/4 tablespoon water" in the ingredients so just left it out. I only added half as much sausage as called for and, for us, it was fine. Didn't have vermicelli so substituted linguine. I had to cook it a lot longer than the 3 minutes but it turned out fine.)
~ Thanks to Erin's alert to the sale of the reusable canning lids on Tattler's site, I'm going to bite the bullet today and put in the order for my first Tattler lids. I've been debating trying them for a couple of years because of mixed reviews. They sure will be a wonderful money saver in the long run if they work. Thanks again for the heads-up on the sale, Erin!
~ We're letting mama bantam hen and her four little chickies out into the big world of our poultry pasture today for the first time. They'll still have access to their own little house and shelter if fowl society becomes too much for them.
~ We've always felt that September and October were the very best months in our area for getting out and enjoying all the great out-of-doors has to offer. For the years hubby was teaching, of course, it was impossible for us to take advantage of the season as these two months were super-busy ones for him getting into the new school year.
Anyway, for the past few years of his retirement, we've been pretty much hell-bent on working hard on all the things we couldn't get done when he was working full-time off the homestead. This year, we are bound and determined things will be different.
So, good-bye until the first of November.
Hahahaha! (Just trying to be funny.) No, nothing big or grand planned that will take us away from home for more than day trips or possibly short overnights. But we are going to be trying to drop our gloves, hoe, chainsaw, paint brushes and tool belts frequently to get out to canoe, hike, grouse hunt, sight-see and generally make the most of the fantastic couple of months of weather ahead of us. We might even spend some time reading all day on the front deck or in the hammock. 'Course, that would mean we'd have to actually put up the hammock for the first time this summer . . . but stranger things have happened. I can hardly wait!
Every time our granddog, Tucker, sprawls out like this, it cracks me up.
Doesn't he look like a big, hairy road-killed squirrel? Also, didn't we do a great job picking out floor tile to coordinate with his coloring?
In the past couple of weeks, he's tagged this as his favorite little nook for an inside snooze here at our house. Notice his head is almost under the wood stove. Won't be too long before he gives up this spot though because even in coldest winter time, he's way too warm inside and seeks out the coolest spot in the house.
Tucker's a very happy, easy-going dog and has made a great adjustment after losing his lifetime companion, Maisy, earlier this summer. Matter of fact, I think I'd go so far as to say he really likes all the attention he's been getting for himself!