Thursday, August 29, 2019


Heavy rains were expected last night and this morning so Papa Pea worked late into the day yesterday getting the grain we grew as fertilizer on the field garden and two other smaller plots mowed down.  

The green growth was high but he was able to get it mowed using the rotary mower on our Gravely garden tractor.  Good timing as seed heads were just starting to think about forming.  And we did get the rain that was forecast.

This is what it looks like today.  Amazing as last night it was a solid, deep green color.

Now he'll let it lie for a couple of days to watch the decomposing, and we'll definitely have to wait until all that material and soil dries out enough to plow it into the soil. 

* * * * * * * *

Way back near the middle of this month, I finally finished knitting a pair of socks for my daughter that I started (she admits shamefully) somewhere around the first of this year.

I call them the "sherbet socks" because of their color.  They remind me of when I was growing up and occasionally went to an ice cream shop in the summer with my parents.  Along with many flavors of ice cream, they also had a variety of sherbets and my favorite, which I chose every time without fail, was a triple dipper consisting of one scoop each of lemon, raspberry and grape sherbet.  Therefore, the "sherbet socks." 

* * * * * * * *

I've been making our supply of Stuffed Green Peppers to stash in the freezer.  

Here's a partial tray of them prior to packaging.

* * * * * * * *

It's also time for me to use the fresh veggies I have available to make our jars of kimchi for the winter months.  Simply put, kimchi is a fermented vegetable mixture, and there are hundreds of varieties of it.  The basic one of cabbage and spices may be most familiar with Americans.

It can be served as a condiment or side dish, but we eat a quarter cup each of it with our morning meal all winter long.

What does kimchi do for you?  It is believed to lower cholesterol levels, boost your immune system, may reduce inflammation, is linked to improving memory (I may start eating more each day -- if I can remember), and keeps the good bacteria in your gut thriving.

I've found a good combination of veggies that we both like (more than just cabbage), but am branching out a bit this year and trying a couple of new mixtures.  I may go a little spicier than I have been.  Pretty wild and crazy, huh?

* * * * * * * *

In my quilt room I've been happily creating a couple of fall themed small wall hangings.

This one is made up of six inch blocks that are a derivation of the Log Cabin Block.

The Pinwheel Block centers are two inches across and the strips representing the "logs" are 1/2" wide.  Overall measurement of the piece is 18" x 18".  I machine quilted it in a meandering pattern.

* * * * * * * *

Our weather has been delightful on days when it's not raining.  Or raining on and off all day (like today).  Nights are now cool and sleeping is wonderful.  I can feel autumn coming on full force, and I welcome it with open arms!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

End of Summer Thoughts

Somewhere around the middle of August, our nights here in northern Minnesota start to be noticeably cooler.  In the late afternoon/early evening when we go outside to put away tools, protect on-going, unfinished projects and cover equipment we've been working on or used during the day, it usually causes one of us to comment that there's an autumnal feeling to the air.

Scarlet Runner Beans completely
covering garden trellis.

This can also fuel a feeling of mild panic as we realize our season of being able to work outside comfortably is, once again, coming to an end more quickly than we wish.

Forono beets ready to escape.

But it's not all bad.  All of a sudden I find myself thinking of and yearning for the comfort foods of the cold, crisp days of autumn and winter.

L.A., these are from the Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin
seeds you sent me.  They are huge!

Oven meals, thick soups, casseroles, potatoes and gravy, baked squash, apple pie.  In less than two months, darkness will be falling at 5 p.m.  forcing us to wind down for the evening earlier than in the height of summer when dusk doesn't come until 9:30 or 10 p.m.  (Yes, we do work hard during our short summer season, but it keeps our muscles from atrophying and melts off the previous winter's hibernation blubber.)

Good, old marigolds.  Can hardly
beat them for blossoms and color.

Our fall rains have now started along with super-heavy dew (even after bright, sunshiny days) overnight that require rubber boots for any outside venture for the first couple hours of each day.

 This grain covering the field garden
 is standing nearly three feet tall.

The grain seeds we planted in our field garden as a green manure crop to be plowed under (soon now, very soon) have grown lush, high and healthy.  Not having this space to plant in this year has meant less garden work through the season and also less to harvest.

 Red cabbage perfection.

We're going to be having to secure potatoes and carrots from somewhere off ye ol' homestead for the first time in I-don't-know-long.  Among other things, no room this year for Brussels sprouts either, but even though we both like them, we'll just do without for this one year.

These aster's long stems
have given me bountiful bouquets
this summer.

Purposefully cutting back on the garden this year has given me personally more time to pursue my individual interests, and I know I've benefited from that time.  Still, I feel that I've somehow fallen short in my responsibility of providing as much food from this growing season as I normally do.  But it's not the end of the world that I did so, if I acknowledge there have been gains.

 Oh, all the nutrition those dark, leafy 
Swiss chard leaves give us.

Next year the field garden and two other small areas in which we've been building up the soil will be in production.

Plus, the crew of six I'm lining up for next season to help around here (I wish) will alleviate my work load so I'll still have time to pursue my creative outlets.  

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Another Unfinished Project Is Finished

Where are all these unfinished baby quilt tops coming from?  And why didn't I finish them in the first place?

Well, the answers are simple.  They've all been hiding away in the box marked (appropriately) "To Be Finished" and I didn't finish them before now because I kept encountering dead ends when trying to figure out the best way to quilt them.  (And you know what they say:  Quilting makes the quilt!)

This one I'm showing you today had to hang on my design wall for a couple of weeks before inspiration hit.

I've also been slow in getting it completed because I had originally intended it to be a baby quilt, crib quilt size, but when the top was finished it didn't look to me as though it was appropriate for a wee one.  And I still think it might be better suited for an adult female who would appreciate a lap quilt to use in the chilly part of the year.

The size is 45-1/2" wide by 49-1/2" long.  The quilting I did on it is primarily straight line stitching by machine.

Although, I did put in a little fancy work with these cables running down both sides.

For the backing I used the over-all floral print that is featured on the front.

The floral print was the only fabric I purchased way back when I started making this quilt.  All the other coordinating materials were pulled from my stash. 

Now, believe it or not, I still have one baby quilt top in that darn "To Be Finished" box.  And I already know how I'm going to quilt it.  So, theoretically, it will also join the other completed ones in the not too distant future.  Hooray!  (Am I on a roll or what?!)

Friday, August 23, 2019

Bears Repeating

I just finished putting a Freshy's Blueberry Pie in the refrigerator as a treat later today.

Look good?  If you want to give it a try, I posted the recipe way back in 2009.  (Good grief, was that actually ten years ago already?)

I've been so very pleased to see the amount of blueberries we've been getting this year considering the problem we're facing with the 
Witches' Broom fungus.

There's a lot more of it showing up on our bushes during this growing season and as soon as the berries are done bearing, I'm going to remove every speck of it I see and hope for the best.  

We sure will be sad if we lose any more of the bushes as we both love blueberries and eat them year 'round for the antioxidant properties they have.

In the meantime, I'll keep taking care of the bushes as best I can and today will enjoy one of our favorite pies.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

In The Poultry Yard

Our chickens and ducks can tell time.  Every afternoon they start lining up at the gate waiting for their treats.

"Look, look!  Here he comes."

"Follow that man with the goodies!"
 (Can you spot the three little ones in the foreground?)

"Num-num-num . . . "

These are the three chicks and a duckling with their Muscovy mama who hatched them out a few weeks ago.

They grow so fast.  The chicks are growing a good crop of feathers already.

Our other Muscovy hen hatched out this healthy batch of seven ducklings exactly one week ago today.

The two duck hens have both proven to be consistently broody and wonderful mothers.  So, so much easier (and healthier, we believe) to raise birds this natural way!

Monday, August 19, 2019

A Little Logging Operation

Late last week, the Pea Family did some logging.

Our good neighbor is putting a road in the woods on their property.  He left one birch tree, smack in the middle of the new road, for us thinking we might want it for firewood.  Absolutely!  Never turn down free firewood. 

Despite Papa Pea knowing how to make the cuts for a tree to fall where you want it to fall, this tree refused to come down.  So to be on the safe side, while daughter and I stood watch a safe distance away, he went home to get our tractor to give the stubborn tree a little push. 

That was the prod needed and the tree fell in the planned spot.

Papa Pea then limbed the tree while daughter and I loaded the trimmings into the back of our pickup.

While the man with the chainsaw cut the bigger branches and top portion of the tree into stove lengths, the two gals on the crew drove the truck up onto our ridge where we and our neighbor share a dumping spot for wood debris in a ravine.  Here daughter is demonstrating that the branches come off a lot easier and quicker than they go on!

We loaded the cut pieces into the bucket of the tractor for transporting back home.

Lastly, all that remained to be cut was the main trunk.  We planned to work it up on site.  Cutting a log lying flat on the ground isn't a good idea because the chainsaw inevitably hits the dirt and that dulls the chain right away.  

Daughter said she would lift the end while her dad slipped a piece of wood under the trunk to hold it up off the ground.

Plenty strong gal that she is, she couldn't budge it.  Trees are heavy!  (We agreed this not very flattering shot is graphic proof of how limber she is.)

Bashful Papa Pea didn't want to show his face.

Daughter and I drove the pickup home after unloading the last of the branches in our designated area while Papa Pea hooked the big log to the tractor and pulled it home.  He jury-rigged it to the front of the tractor because he didn't want to pull it behind the tractor thinking it would make a gouge in the ground dragging it all the way. 

It was a hot day and a hot chore, but worth it.  With our crew of three mighty-muscled workers (!), it went well.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Someone Has A Birthday!


He doesn't seem to be getting older,
but he sure is getting better!

Only one candle on his birthday pie
because we thought 78 of them
would be sure to set off
the smoke alarms.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Take THAT!!

We took a couple of small sledge hammers and bonked the wood in the second tier back (it was starting to look like it was going to make a break for it), restacked the outer and last tier that had fallen out making sure to put the wood as far back as we could, and then put that "safety belt" bracing across the whole thing hoping  it would keep the wood from falling out again.

We're keeping our fingers crossed.

P.S.  Many thanks to our dear daughter who helped with the restacking.  The job went lickety-split with the three of us at it.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Poltergeist In The Wood Shed

Up until two nights ago, for some time our main wood shed has been full up with this coming winter's wood supply.

Last Tuesday night Papa Pea was in his upstairs office when he heard a strange crashing sound.  He thought about it for a couple of minutes and then, sadly, figured out what it must have been.

The upper middle portion of the last tier of wood we had so carefully stacked had fallen plumb out and down.  It kind of erupted.  Or spewed out.

Ghosties cavorting in the back of the shed?  Determined chipmunks building condos in among the wood?  A small earthquake way up here in northern Minnesota?  Or just faulty stacking by people who shall remain nameless?

We've managed to ignore the situation for a couple of days now, but tonight decided we would deal with it tomorrow.

Just how many times do you have to handle a piece of wood before you burn it?  In this case, too many.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

If Only . . .

If only other garden fruits and vegetables were as abundant and easy to grow  as beans!

I harvested the first of my yellow wax beans and green beans yesterday.  Who knew there were so many of them silently hiding in and among their heavy, lush bushes?

I like to mix the yellow and green beans together because I think it makes a more interesting and colorful veggie on the plate.

Two of five trays in freezer.
(Oh, dear.  When am I going to defrost this freezer?)

I blanch the prepped beans for 3 minutes, cool in cold, cold well water, drain in a colander, wrap them burrito style in a big bath towel to remove as much moisture as possible, then spread them on cookie sheets to freeze (more or less) individually, then package them in gallon freezer bags.  They stay "unclumped" that way and I can easily take any amount I want out of the bags.

The most time consuming task involved with the beans isn't the planting or picking, but rather sitting and snipping off the ends and cutting each bean into bite-sized pieces. By no means hard work (and I get a lot of time listening to audio books) for the dividends received.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Here A Chick, There A . . . Duckling

Striving to get our chicken flock to a place where we had broody hens who would hatch out their own chicks (and our replacement chicks so we wouldn't have to order chicks from a hatchery) has always been our aim.

The breeds of chickens we've chosen have (supposedly) still had the brooding instinct in them.  Well, that hasn't been our experience.  When hens in a hatchery consistently have their eggs taken away from them and hatched in an incubator, how can they be expected to maintain their natural instincts?

The only chickens we've had go broody with any consistency were a couple of our little bantam hens.  We lost the last of them this spring at the ripe old age of 104.  Actually, we lost track of her age but she must have been somewhere around eight years old.  And she gave us one last egg (remarkably!) about a month before she died.

But, as usual, I digress.

Lo and behold, our Muscovy duck hens have proven to be good setters and wonderful mothers.

Several weeks ago, two of them decided their maternal instincts had come to the forefront and they wanted babies.

Papa Pea moved both of them and their clutch of eggs (a duck egg and several chicken eggs -- sneaky, aren't we?) to their own maternity ward where they've been happily (although seeming to be drugged . . . how can they sit and sit and sit for weeeeks without going completely bonkers?) keeping their eggs protected and warm.

About two weeks ago, three little chicken babies hatched under the first duck hen.  She seemed oblivious of them as they bounced around her, hopping up on her back, napping beside her and burrowing under her to sleep next to her remaining eggs.

Then three days ago, one more egg hatched and it was a duckling.  Mama Duck must have known there was one more viable egg she wanted to hatch out!

One brown chick and duckling in front,
one black chick and
another brown one behind.

Now Mama Duck has taken all four of her babies out into the big world of the poultry yard and the little family couldn't be happier.

And we're happy, too, to have some replacement chickens for our flock.  Good job, Mama Duck.  You've more than earned your keep.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Another Finished Baby Quilt Without Too Much Hair Pulled Out

I'm exaggerating to a great degree.  It did take a while, but I eventually stopped fussing and fuming as to how I was going to quilt this long unfinished project.  I finally came up with a very simple idea that worked out well enough that I'm quite satisfied with it.

This quilt was designed-as-I-went without much of a thought-out plan and, as you can see, it ended up being quite colorful.  And a little busy.  (Understatement?)  The finished size is 36" x 42".

I purchased the pretty pastel backing fabric with the intention of using it for the back of a baby quilt someday.  Many moons ago (many), I pulled different coordinating fabrics from my stash to use in the design on the front.  I just didn't mean for it to turn out quite so wild colorful as it did.  Someone, who shall remain nameless (daughter), suggested it was so psychedelic it might give a baby bad dreams.  (Hey, color stimulation is good for babies, right?)

There was so much going on in the quilt that it took me a while of head scratching, if not hair pulling, to decide how to quilt it without getting too complicated which might cause me to have to invest the next month and a half in doing so.

I'd always had the thought I'd like to try covering a whole quilt with wavy lines as I'd seen done on some quilts in magazines and books.  And an abbreviated form of that is what I went ahead and did for this one.

All in all, I'm pleased with the way it turned out, and I have a real sense of accomplishment (whew) knowing another unfinished project is now finished! 

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Ya Gotta Keep Your Eyes Open

For a couple of weeks now, on and off, I've been checking my cauliflower plants thinking the heads could/should be reaching maturity.

Yesterday as I walked by the raised bed I have them planted in, I noticed one of the heads had burst out of the leaves I've been keeping tied up over them for blanching (to keep them white).

Stopped to check all the heads and . . . Whoa, Nellie!  We had cauliflower ready for harvest!  (Last year, I harvested cauliflower on July 14th.  Yep, we are behind this year!)

I planted nine plants and all but one of the heads turned out good.  Seems I usually end up with at least one head that goes wonky on me and refuses to form a normal looking, rounded mound but rather has strange, off-colored antennae sticking out all over.

Can't complain about the crop this year even though it really was bit late.  Although it sure wasn't on my schedule for the day, I made time to prep the cauliflower, soak it in warm salted water for a couple of hours and then process it for the freezer for our winter's use.

I also harvested our first shell peas yesterday, with companionship and help from our daughter, and got those tender, tasty, little green gems in the freezer.  Although it was a bit of a struggle between scattered rain drops and one heavy deluge, I got a dehydrator full of prepped peppermint done, too.

Harvest time is in full swing and so often there are surprises in the garden so best to keep out a keen eye!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

A Look at the Garden on August 1st

According to my notes from the last couple of years, the garden is behind in growth and production this year.  'Tis not surprising considering the slow start it got in our cold cool spring and early summer.

Here's a look at some of it on this first day of August.

Even though a lot of the asparagus patch has gone to ferns, I'm still harvesting fresh, crisp and crunchy, nice sized stalks about every other day.  I've got as much as I want in the freezer and these smaller harvests give us just the right amount to eat fresh.

August 1st and the shell peas are just now ready for the first picking.  Well, at least they're looking good.  I'm thinking I'll start harvesting tomorrow.

Not having the field garden where I usually plant our beans, I put one eight foot row of green beans in one raised bed and another eight foot row of yellow wax beans in another bed.  Methinks they really like growing in this new spot.  This shot of one of the rows is a full four feet wide and loaded with blossoms and some itty-bitty beans.

Beets always grow well for me.  These guys in the photo above look like they're ready to make an escape from the garden.

The Morning Glories planted around the tepee trellis haven't even reached the top of it yet, and I've spotted only one lonely bloom near the bottom.  Plus, they're getting munched on by some creepy-crawly that is making lace out of their leaves.  Poor Morning Glories.

Garlic is starting to show brown and dying leaves but isn't ready for harvest yet.

The slicing cukes are blooming like I've never seen before.  There's even one little cuke doing its best to be the first one big enough to harvest.  In a couple of weeks.  (Can you spot it?  Look to the left center in front of a yellow blossom.)

Here's the field garden we planted out to barley after we got no germination from the buckwheat we first seeded.  We'll plow it under as a green manure before it goes to seed.

The Scarlet Runner Beans have finally reached the top of this garden trellis.  

These vibrant red blooms will last almost until the frost kills the vines.  So colorful.

That's all to show today.  Hope your garden is giving you a bountiful harvest and you've been eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables from it.