Friday, August 31, 2018

Feathered Friends

This is our little rooster, Shivers, and his BFF, our last (geriatric) bantam hen.  They are a pair and hang out together for much of each day.  Neither one of them are "spring chickens" but both still look pretty good.

Pictured are four of our six geese.  Geese tend to stay together in a gaggle and ours are no exception.  Where you see one, you can be sure the others are very close by.  (You can see how low our pond is because of lack of rainfall this summer.  Ugh.)

When I pulled out my green and yellow bush beans a few days ago, they were still lush and had lots of tasty beans on them so I threw all the vines into the poultry yard.  Ducks, geese and chickens were all interested in them.

Today I noticed the geese looking over what was left of the vines.  Do you know those silly birds ate all of the leaves . . . but left the beans?  You never know what's going to appeal to them, I guess.  (Next time I'll have to remember to cook the beans and add a little butter and salt before offering them to the birds.  Ha.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

I've Had Help Putting The Garden To Bed Early This Year

The "someone" helping me is Mother Nature herself.

We had stiff winds blowing all day Monday and for much of that night.  This followed a good amount of rainfall which made the soil fairly soft.

Going out into the garden yesterday morning, I found these two things had combined to do a bit of damage.

Granted, the seemingly sturdy stems of cosmos plants are actually quite fragile . . . 

. . . and these didn't hold up to the wind at all.

If you look closely, you can see that this trellis of my decorative gourds has developed a definite tilt toward the south.  (Yes, grass cutting and weed whipping is on the schedule for today.  'Bout time.)

The onion tops had started to topple over, but they all got laid flat in the wind.

This Brussels sprout plant broke off completely right at ground level.  I'm mighty thankful the rest of them didn't go the same way.

My Ring of Fire sunflowers didn't escape damage.  The ones in the middle of the row would have gone completely over if they hadn't had their fall broken by the row of big sunflowers behind.

But it's all okay.  If it had happened earlier in the season, I would be upset.  As it is, I'm choosing to take this all as a supportive sign in my decision to wrap up this gardening season a bit early.  Thanks, Ma Nature!

Monday, August 27, 2018

My First Summer Job

My first try at gainful employment (other than babysitting like most of my peers) was when I was fifteen and detasseled corn.  We lived in a town in Illinois, but you didn't have to go very far to be in serious farm country.

I think detasseling corn was the hardest work I've ever done.  (Well, as a kid anyway.)

There were about fifty of us teenage girls who gathered in a city park by six o'clock every morning.  (Where were those child labor laws?!)  We were loaded into a semi-truck trailer that was outfitted with bench seats on either side and another double set of seats running down the middle.

We were then trucked to a specific farm for the day where we started working down the rows of corn that were invariably dripping with dew at that time of morning.  About the time we were soaked from head to toe, the temperature would begin to climb into the nearly unbearable range.  We had to wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts or our skin would get cut up by the leaves on the corn stalks.

I have a not-so-fond memory of some of those corn rows going on for an eternity!

A lunch break was taken around noon time.  Most days we spread out under trees on the lawn of the farmer's house and, if we were lucky, were offered all the cold, clear water we could drink from a well with a hand pump on it.

We all brought our lunch and the food had to be something that wouldn't spoil in the heat as our lunch bags sat in the trailer of the truck from morning until lunch time.  Some of the girls had insulated bags they carried their food in, but those were the "older" (17 and 18 year olds), more experienced ones who came back to detassel corn year after year.

After a short lunch and rest period, we dragged ourselves back out into the field and worked for another three or four hours.

When finished for the day, we climbed back into the semi-truck to be returned to the park.  About half of the girls were African-American and many days on the truck ride home, they would start singing.  And, boy howdy, did some of them have amazing voices.

I lived about seven blocks from the park, but if I remember correctly, some of the girls walked the two blocks down into town and caught a bus home because they lived at a much farther distance.

My walk home each night almost made me sweatier, if that was possible, so the first thing I did upon reaching home was to strip off my dirty clothes (and they did get dirty each day) and take a cool shower.

Hard to believe, I know, but we were paid 35 cents an hour.  If we worked the whole detasseling season without missing a single day, we got retroactive pay of an extra 15 cents an hour.  Wow, what an incentive!  I didn't make it.

I detasseled corn only that one summer because the next year I was sixteen and old enough to get a "real" job which was as a clerk in a small two-story department store in our town.

It was decidedly easier, cooler and cleaner than detasseling corn.  Still, for some inexplicable reason, I'm very glad I worked in those corn fields the summer I was fifteen. 

I'd love to hear about your first job experiences.  Please do tell all!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Nobody Ever Said I Was Patient

We hadn't had any potatoes since early spring until a week or so ago when I caved and bought a five pound bag of Yukon Golds at our organic co-op.  Boy howdy, did they ever disappear lickety-split.

Yesterday I gathered my produce bucket and garden trowel, set a determined look on my face and headed out into the garden.  I wanted potatoes.

This is what I stole from under two plants.  Not bad, eh?  Not honking big ones, but not golf ball sized either.

Along with my usual bell peppers this spring, I started two plants of an Italian sweet pepper that turns orange or yellow or red.  I've been eyeing the attractive green peppers on these two plants for a while now and today snapped off three of them.

Shouldn't have.

Apparently, they really do need to be orange or yellow or red before they're ready for the table.

I sliced one of them lengthwise this evening and put a half on Papa Pea's plate and a half on mine.  After taking one bite, I uttered/muttered something like, "Yuck.  Gluck.  Ick."  

I'll be waiting now until they turn color.

As we were clearing the table, Papa Pea inquired, "Aren't you going to finish your pepper?"

"Nope, I'm not."

"Well," he said.  "I'm not going to let good garden produce go to waste."  And into his mouth it went.  The man will eat anything.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Just Another Garden Tour

It seems it's been a while since I've documented some of what's going on in the garden.  Most of the time spent out there has been to harvest the bounty, bring it in and get it processed.  The last accomplished has been another batch of pickles and a dehydrator full of mint.

This is the last of the lettuce (sob) in the garden.  But, alas and alack, the hot weather has turned it bitter.  

I've decided not to do any fall planting this year, but rather to put my energy and time toward getting the garden cleaned up and ready for winter earlier than usual.  Then maybe I won't be out there in cold weather trying to do same after a couple of hard frosts.  (I'm oh-so-ready for some quilt room time!)

Finally, finally, some cherry tomatoes are turning red!

The tops of the onions have gone all flopsy-mopsy and have mostly keeled over now.  Looks as though we may have a good onion crop again.

This sweet little clump of Johnny Jump-Ups has popped up in the middle of an empty bed that grew broccoli this year.

Here is one row of potato vines which is starting to turn brown and flopping down.  Sure hope there are lots of potatoes underneath.

This year the blossoms on the pickling cucumber vines are so dense they're growing in clumps.  Wonder if they will all turn into cucumbers or if there won't be room for them all.  I have one more batch of pickles to make before I have my quota to last two years.  I like to plant pickling cukes only once every other year.

My "Ring of Fire" sunflowers have given us many cheerful bouquets for weeks now.  You can spot the row of large sunflowers (to the left) where the heads are bowed and are starting to dry.  I've never had the season last long enough to actually get mature seeds from them, but there's always hope.

I planted this 8' long trellis of mixed gourds to use for decoration this fall.  You may recall I planted the same mix two years ago and every one of the gourds turned out to be a little white pumpkin.  Every single one.  Last year, same mix and I actually got a nice mix of colored gourds.

This year, every single gourd forming is this pear-shaped yellow one with a green bottom.  Methinks it's high time I go to another company for a seed packet of "mixed colored gourds!"

The sweet peppers are looking great.

Each plant is loaded with growing peppers or blossoms.  I'll have plenty for my supply of Stuffed Green Peppers for the freezer.

That's all for this trip through the garden.  How is your garden looking this time of year?

Friday, August 17, 2018

In A Pickle (A Good One)

Our temperature has dropped a few notches in the last two days along with a bit less humidity so canning pickles yesterday wasn't too bad.

The only part of making pickles I don't care for is scrubbing off all those little black nubbity-nubs on the pickling cucumbers.

But listening to an audio book while doing so makes the task go quickly.  Sort of.

I got exactly six quarts (down to the very last pickling cuke I had harvested) for this first batch of dill pickles.

We go through about eight quarts a year of the dills, and I like to plan it so I have to plant and grow the pickling cukes only every other year.  That means I have a couple more batches to go for my two year supply.  Actually, the vines are just starting to move into full production so I shouldn't have any trouble getting as many as I need.

Humidity is back up there already this morning so it's gonna feel not-so-pleasant again regardless of what the thermometer climbs to.  Guess it's still summer time in the north woods!

Anybody else dreaming of those cool, crisp autumn days on the horizon?

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Green Weeds and Green Tomatoes

Just to prove weeds do grow in my garden, below shows a portion of the green buggers I hope to attack and eradicate in our blueberry patch today.

That bale of peat moss has been patiently waiting to be spread under the bushes and between the rows for ever-so-long now, but of course I can't do that until all the weeds have been first yoinked out.

Seems the whole garden needs a good weeding, but I've been tied up with harvesting for two or three weeks.  Not complaining about the bountiful harvest, that's for sure, but it doesn't leave much waking time for anything else.

I've got asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries (what there were of them), blueberries (still coming in), green peas and yellow and green beans put by.  Also chives, parsley and some peppermint.  (Waiting for it to grow a little more before giving it another hair cut.)  Still to do are beets, green peppers (stuffed) and Brussels sprouts.

The cherry tomato plants are a good five feet high, taller than they've ever grown before in our garden.  If all the fruit matures, we'll be buried under the little orbs as all three plants are heavily covered with still green tomatoes.  I've been pruning the DIV-ull (as my Scottish grandmother would say) out of them which seems to have been beneficial.  But wouldn't you think with the hot, humid weather Mother Nature has been bestowing upon us we would have ripe tomatoes by now?  Just something else going on in the garden this year that doesn't make a lot of sense.

We're supposed to have a little drop in temperature today (HOORAY!) so I'm looking forward to being able to survive several hours out there trying to get everything shaped back up.  The whole garden has reached that overgrown, flopsie-mopsie, unkempt, blowsy state, and I feel like it's gotten away from me.

Yep, the disheveled garden and both of us, too, are approaching the end of this busy season!

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Summer Continues . . .

The summer continues with heat and humidity.  It's taking a toll on the garden.  (And us!)  Take a look at my poor nasturtiums.

They're not lacking water, just getting too much heat, I think.  Could be worse.

And this head of cauliflower is definitely "worse."  I think I've mentioned I put seven of the cauliflowers I started inside this spring out in the garden later than those I set out earlier.  I held them in their peat pots until I found an area of the field garden in which to plant them.  I didn't really expect them to do much because cauliflower is a cool weather crop and doesn't like to grow in warmer weather.  Still, when the little nubbins of heads started to form, I tied the leaves up over them to keep the developing heads white and forming nicely.  So what happened to this one?  No idea.  I chopped it up and tossed it into the poultry yard.  The geese, especially, seemed to like it.

We've been working on the cleaning and sorting of our big storage shed for the past two mornings.  As the sun moves across the sky, it shines directly on the front of the shed and with our continuing heat and humidity (90 degrees in the sun today), it gets a bit unpleasant to work back there as noon time approaches.  We're almost finished, possibly one more session there and we'll be satisfied with what we've accomplished.

Yesterday right before dinner time we checked blueberries in the garden and saw there were more to be picked.  Then I was surprised by the number of pickling cucumbers that were ready to be harvested.  Deciding I'd better "unwrap" and check those seven late cauliflower plants, I found two that had gone wonko on us (one which is pictured above) and two that were lovely and needed to be picked and processed.  Those two heads are shown (cut up and soaking in salted water in the picture above) prior to being blanched and frozen.  There weren't enough of the pickling cukes for a batch of dill pickles but they'll keep nicely in the spare refridge until I harvest more, probably tomorrow.

After lunch today I tried to work in the garden but it was just too hot.  (Might maybe could have had something to do with the beer Papa Pea and I split with our ham sandwiches for lunch.  Sure did taste good going down though.)  Anyway, after taking a couple of pictures, I came in here to our cool bedroom and my desk to get caught up on some paper work.

I'm not sure this picture shows off the red cabbages to the best advantage, but they are really pretty (I think) this year. 

The green ones grow faster than the red.  This head is about 10" across already.

Hooray!  Had to show you that my California Poppy seed mix finally came through with more white ones and a few of what they call red ones.  Makes a pretty picture, doesn't it?

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Just Chitchat

I've started to do some cleaning up in the garden already.  Pea vines have been pulled, lettuce and other salad greens have turned bitter so are being tossed either to the poultry or compost heap, broccoli side shoots have stopped shooting so those two beds are now empty.  It always amazes me that pulling out a crop is just about as much work as planting it.  How can that be?

It was hot, sticky and humid when I was in destruction mode in the garden yesterday.  Hard work, too, so I announced at dinner time that I was going to do the dishes, take a shower and get into bed early to read.

Of course, circumstances made that impossible (sigh) and I ended the evening on the couch by my lonesome (hubby, having done his share of physical work during the day, sensibly went to bed as soon as he could), eating popcorn and knitting until 10:45 p.m. when, funny thing, my eyelids wouldn't stay in an open position any longer. 

I had a good night's sleep, though, and was up and going early this morning.  Made it to the Co-op to shop and pick up a special order shortly after they opened.  I buy what I can in bulk so upon arriving home, I joked with Papa Pea that it would probably only take me 45 minutes to divide up and properly store my bulk purchases.  Ha.  It took me one hour by actual count.

I do love buying in bulk and find it's quite an economical way to go.  I've already started on my fall list of stocking up those items we purchase for the coming winter season and my bank account is already showing the "extra" monetary outlay.  But finances will look healthier this winter 'cause I'll have to purchase so little then, right?  Right!

At 10:30 this morning I met with a dear friend who's been gone for several weeks visiting relatives across the country.  We had such a pleasant visit and caught up on all the extremely trivial important things going on in our respective lives.

Back home to make sandwiches for lunch.  Then I got a thirteen pound turkey prepped and into the oven.  I've recently sorted and reorganized our freezers and it was deemed necessary that Mr. Young Tom Turkey give up his space for vegetables coming in from the garden.

Then the back of my Chevy Tracker was loaded up and I made a much needed run to our wonderful Recycling Center.  Me along with half the population of the county!  What was this?  National Recycling Day??

I'm home now for the rest of the day (hallelujah!), just made myself an iced latte (first caffeine of the day) and am determined to work through this piled up mess on my desk top.

Tomorrow we're tackling the cleaning and sorting of our big storage shed.  This necessitates parking the flat bed trailer (to act like a really big table) next to the shed, hauling most all of the contents out and going through all the junk vitally important contents that have magically accumulated in there over the last couple of years since we've been brave enough to do the job.  Keep your fingers crossed for us that we have a sunny-not-too-hot day in which to complete the task without either one of us threatening divorce. 

Sunday, August 5, 2018

One Is Not Like The Other

This is what happens when you knit a pair of socks for Bigfoot.  I mean Papa Pea.

When nearing the end of the second sock, I began to wonder if the remainder of skein of yarn was going to be enough to finish.  I knit as fast as I could  (So I would finish before running out of yarn, ya know.)

With only twelve decreasing rows to go, I came to the end of my rope yarn.

I had purchased the yarn on a close-out sale so knew I couldn't find it again from the same source.  Chicken Mama said, "I bet I can find it for you on eBay."

After searching there (and a few other places), she did find a skein.  In Romania.  Or Scotland.  Or someplace else far, far away.  I can't remember where.  The price was about three times what I paid for the skein on sale, and we didn't even go so far as to check out what shipping costs would be.

Papa Pea said he didn't really care what yarn I used to finish the sock.  Who was going to see it?

So I went into my super sized tote storage container of sock yarn and came up with a smidge of what seemed a workable match.  Well, not a match but at least it wasn't pink.  Or yellow.  The piece of yarn in the picture above with the socks is all that was left of the original skein.

This close-up gives you a better look at the un-matching last twelve rows of the toe.  Also a more realistic color of the yarn.

Next up on my sock needles?  This gorgeous orange yarn sent to me by my good friend Linda in New York.  These will be for me.  Not Bigfoot.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Looking at the Raised Beds First of August

Once again (this is becoming a habit), I wasn't able to get a comparison photo on the first day of the month to show you.  We had a steady day of rain on the 1st (Wednesday) and then yesterday was very gray in the morning.  The afternoon and evening were spent picking peas, shelling peas, blanching peas and getting them in the freezer.  With my dear husband's help, we added 15 more servings of peas (a serving being enough for the two of us) to the larder.

Today the sun came out and I got a couple of good pictures.  Doing the comparison of views of the raised beds on the first of each month (tired of this yet?), let's recap (again).

Here's the first of March in the north woods.
(There are raised beds out there?)

And then the first of April.
(There ARE raised beds out there!)

Well, it looks as though something was happening in May.

June was looking a little better.

July almost looked like a real garden.

And now the first of August.

After our heavy rain on Wednesday, some of the plants look a little beat up.  But it's all for the best because we really, really needed the rain again.

I took two more shots that show things a little better.

This is the left half of the raised beds.

The plants in some of the beds have grown so tall that they block the view of those behind.  (I need to plan that a little better next season.)

And this is the right half of the raised beds.
(A bit of the field garden showing
on the upper right.)

My harvest season is well under way and there's more out there as we speak that I could be processing.  It's been a crazy week just past with a few unusual happenings that caused me to be downright grumpy yesterday because of my lack of time to do what needs to be done.  But I talked myself out of it (after a bit of a sulk) by pulling on my big girl panties which Susan at e-i-e-i-omg always reminds me to do (thanks, pal), and running down the huge list of all I have to be thankful for and appreciative of regardless of the fact that sometimes it's hard to get it all done.  (Understatement, of course, as we all know.) 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

A Tale of Two Tables

I'd always wanted a b-i-i-i-g kitchen table.  One that I could spread a project out on one end and still have room for the two of us to sit down at the other end for a meal.  One that would comfortably seat six people when necessary.  One that would have room in the middle for serving dishes.  One that was big enough for mounds of vegetables spread out on after harvest.  One that would hold six different kinds of Christmas cookies.

Several years ago, we saw a table advertised by some folks who were leaving the area and selling much of their furniture.  We went to see it, I liked the style and best of all it had a leaf to be inserted in the middle to make it the b-i-i-i-g size I wanted.

The good news was that it was reasonably priced.  The bad news was that the top was not in very good condition showing several dings and scratches.  Papa Pea said if I wanted it, he would refinish the top for me.

In short order, I soon had the large kitchen table I had always wanted.  I've loved it, we've used the heck out of it and certainly gotten our money's worth.  You can't see it very well in the above picture, but my dear old table has become sway-backed.  There's an inch (or two) dip in the middle of it where the leaf is.  I don't think it's about to collapse or anything, but it needs some reinforcement if we continue using it.

Recently we went to a huge estate sale that had some wonderful pieces of furniture including . . . a kitchen table.  The measurements of it were smaller than our current table, but we thought maybe, just maybe, it would be big enough to suit our purposes.  We bid on it and got it for $17.00!

Hauled it home (well-built and HEAVY), took the old table down, and put the new table in its place.

It's a much nicer (much!) quality than our old table, looks better with our chairs and the wainscoting in the kitchen.  It's beautiful.

It's too small.

Pardon me now while I have a spoiled brat, wailing fit that it's just not big enough.  We've been using it for over a week, even had extra bodies sitting around it, and it's just not big enough.

Papa Pea is going to use it up in his office where the beautiful top will be buried under stacks of books, files, papers, machinery manuals and other "important" stuff.  Our seventeen dollars will not have been spent in vain.  Sigh.  And sniffle.

Back in will come our old faithful, sagging-in-the-middle, slightly beat-up table which has served us so well.  Maybe old things, proven things, loved-but-not-beautiful things are the best ones after all.  (Hey, I think I may have just described myself!)