Sunday, June 27, 2021

Our First Strawberry Harvest

I made our first strawberry harvest of the season this afternoon.

I keep track of how many pounds we harvest each year.  Last year was not plentiful in the strawberry department.  We got only 59 lbs. as a total.  This year is looking better as this first picking was 11-1/2 lbs.  I think that's the most I've ever gotten from a first picking.
Our daughter took some, we ate some and the rest are now in the freezer for use in our smoothies in the coming months.  That's kinda utilitarian (the ones for smoothies) in my book, but the next picking is destined for a big Strawberry Shortcake and some strawberry fruit leather for a little guy who has been waiting for a new supply ever since we ran out a few months ago.  When he was here last week, he asked me to show him where the fruit leather would be in the pantry when it was ready.  Oh, the eager anticipation! 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

The Summer of the Purge

Our "big project" for the next couple/few month's time is, no doubt, nothing exciting or important to anyone else but us.  In our efforts to simplify our everyday lives, let alone accomplish any and all progress or changes we're trying to make around here, we've realized now is the time to get one aspect of our lives in better shape.  Much better shape!
We're fortunate in that we've structured our home and surrounding outbuildings in such a way that we have ample storage areas.  The downside is that those same areas have, over the years, become overstuffed with unorganized, and in many cases, no longer need stuff.  Yep, we've become overstuffed with stuff!
Our living and everyday functioning areas remain neat and organized; our storage areas are not.
A big hang-up we've come to realize that weighs heavily (unconsciously, even) on both of us is the amount of materials we've saved (in most cases "for someday") that have filled up our storage areas and must be sorted and organized, sold, given away, or otherwise sent down the road because so much of it is no longer needed, wanted or important.
To give a small example in only two areas, over the years, we've gone full circle as to what livestock we want and need to keep here on ye ol' homestead and all the equipment (which has piled up, up and up) related to same.  I've collected furniture and household goods (lots) for that cabin on a lake we've always thought we wanted, but now realize is not as important as it once was.
We have back-ups for our back-ups, but because we've worked so hard on successfully structuring the necessities of basic food, clothing and shelter, we no longer need to rely on so many, and in some cases, inferior materials we've kept because they "might be needed."
Things change, people change, we've changed, and paying attention to different stages of our lives needs to take precedence.  Other aspects of our lives presently need more attention.  We want more of a balance (ah, yes, that elusive balance) in our lives, time for each of us to spend individually pursuing personal interests, time for us together exploring, recreating and just being.
So, onward with the grubbiness, the time-consuming task, the brain-straining constant decision making, the arguments (civilly done, of course) of what stays and what goes. 
What a big job!  We're currently well into the project and are finding it's taking much more time than we anticipated (what doesn't turn out to be so?), but find its already giving us a sense of freedom and more energy.  The feel goods we're experiencing are well worth it. 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

The Little Pepper Plant That Could

As usually happens in the month of June, the growth in the garden is s-l-o-w, and I'm once again positive nothing will ever grow to maturity.  The fact that we've been suffering from lack of rainfall hasn't helped the situation this year either.
I can't remember a season when I've had to water the garden so often this early in the year.  But, 'tis what it is, and we have to flow with it.
My pepper plants, even situated under their cold frame protection, haven't been showing much growth.  Most of the transplants aren't even yet a foot tall.

However, this little plant (bless it's heart) has decided to put forth fruit anyway.  I don't know if this means the plant is Superman-strong or has decided to put a last ditch effort into producing one lovely green pepper before claiming exhaustion and calling it quits.
* * * * * * * *
To insure I'll have more hours to put into our "big project" here this summer, we've decided to plant only half of our usual gardening space.  This is hard for me as I simply love gardening and growing as much of our own food as I can, but Papa Pea and I have both been trying very hard to make some changes in our lives and this means slogging through some uncomfortable ways of doing things.  At least for a (relatively) short (I hope) interim.
I'll post an explanation of our "big project" (and my lack of blogging) soon.  Promise. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The Challenges of Gardening

 For all the years that we've had the cold frames we put on some of our raised beds, we've tried (unsuccessfully) a myriad of methods of securing the cold frames to the raised bed frames.  As you know, we get a lot of wind here and if the cold frames aren't closed down tight, the wind gets a purchase on them and they part company with the raised bed frames.
Last year Papa Pea came up with the idea of using a hook and eye combination with a spring that kept the hooks from slipping out of the eye during movement caused by winds.

We put two hooks on the front and two hooks on the back of the cold frames and the corresponding eyes on the raised bed frames.  
Eureka, we finally found an attachment method that securely held the cold frame to the raised bed.  Boy, were we feeling smug.
Early yesterday morning, around 5 a.m., we had a rain, wind, lightning and thunder storm.  Light on the rain, very heavy on the wind.  Was this forecast?  Nope.
Monday night we had heard that there was a slight chance of rain overnight and the temperature was to remain warm after a hot day, so I chose to leave the cold frame covers open over our slicing cucumbers and over our pepper plants.  As all you gardeners know, you can't beat natural rainfall as a huge boost for parched soil and the plants growing in it.
The 5 a.m. storm woke us and we could hardly believe the scene as we looked out on the garden.

Oh, the cold frames stayed fastened to the raised bed frames secure as could be, but the wind took the cold frames AND attached wooden raised bed frames (and they are heavy) plumb up and off their position in the ground.

Amazingly, there was hardly any damage to the cold frames (that a little tweaking couldn't cure) and with only minimal shovel work, the bed frames were put back on/in the soil from where they had been ripped.  No plants sacrificed their young lives during the event.
Oy.  All's well that ends well, but I gotta say this makes me all the more hesitant about the greenhouse Papa Pea wants to put up over part of the field garden.  I would really be upset if the wind tore something like that apart.

Monday, June 7, 2021

A Jill of All Trades

 That's our daughter.  The gal can do anything she puts her mind to.

We've had a leak under the kitchen sink and suspected it was coming from the spray attachment.  I've not been using it for several days waiting for Papa Pea to screw up the gumption find the time to replace it.  (My dear husband gets dizzy and a very sick headache when he is forced to do work requiring him to lie on his back so I wasn't pushing him to do this chore.)

Today after eating lunch with us, dear daughter informed us that the rug in front of the sink was wet.  What??

Turns out that even though the spray attachment hasn't been used, the water pressure in the hose going up into the head was still leaking.  Ugh.

Angel that she is, daughter volunteered to fix it for us.

Fortunately, we had an identical sprayer to use as a replacement.  Years ago when we first installed this sink faucet unit, we found that the box we purchased had been opened, prior to us purchasing it, and some parts were missing.  The store told us to keep what we had and they replaced the box with a new (unopened!) box.

Not the easiest place in which to work.

Can't.  Quite.  Reach.

We tried to provide some comfort.
While checking out the situation, she found two spots where it looked like there might have been some leakage in the caulking around the sink and possibly what looked to be a small hairline crack in the bottom of the right hand sink (!), so did what she could to repair those spots underneath.  (New sink is on our shopping list.)
Lastly, she also re-caulked around the upper side of the sink and the surrounding counter.

I now have wide tape protecting the new caulking (so I don't get stuck to it, she said) and the right hand sink is off limits until tomorrow morning.
The new sprayer is working perfectly, and we're hoping this is the end of the minor floods under the sink.
All thanks to our talented daughter who isn't afraid to tackle most anything.  Whadda gal.  (And her father is eternally grateful she saved him from doing the job.)

Thursday, June 3, 2021

A Hum-Drum Post?

I realize my blog posts have been infrequent.  Don't have an explanation for it, but it seems to be affecting many bloggers at this point in time.  Kudos to those of you who haven't fallen into this abyss and are still posting regularly.  Your posts are enjoyed.
I've been watching my divided and transplanted rhubarb but haven't wanted to take a first harvest from it yet.  For a rhubarb lover as I am, it's been hard.  Bless her, our daughter stopped in last night after her work day and plopped a bagful of lovely red stalks down on my counter.  The household where she nannies has an abundance of rhubarb, and I was quick to make a 9 x 13 pan of our favorite rhubarb cake almost as soon as she left.  Can hardly wait to cut into it today.
Our strawberry plants are looking good with lots of lovely white blossoms.  Last year's harvest wasn't great but we're crossing our fingers for this year.  All the more so as I don't hold out much hope for our blueberries.  Sad to say, most of our bushes seem to have given up the battle with Witches Broom and I'm afraid we're going to lose them.  Now I'm concerned for the eight new bushes we planted in the plot this spring.  Is the Witches Broom a cyclical thing?  I haven't found more evidence of it on the bushes since winter time.  Nor have we ever seen it before in fifty-some years of gardening. 
We ordered a batch of little bantam chicks that arrived a week ago.  The only chicken variety that we've ever had successfully hatch out new chicks here on the homestead were bantams so we were hoping to raise some up that would do so again.  Unfortunately, the shipment of the little guys got "delayed" in the U.S. postal system and were not in good shape when they arrived.  To date, we've lost all but three of the fifteen.  Papa Pea contacted the hatchery yesterday just to let them know of the slow delivery time table, and they couldn't have been nicer.  They offered us a complete refund or a replacement shipment of chicks.  We chose the replacement which was shipped yesterday.  Let's hope they make it through the mail in a timely manner.
We're still lacking rainfall.  I can't remember a year when I've watered the garden more so early in the season.  Our temperatures haven't been hot (which is good considering) but the soil is dry.  Difficult for transplants taking hold and emerging seeds.
There's still too much for both of us to do in a day's time and our efforts to gain a more balanced life have been frustrating.  The items to cut out on the To Do List almost seem an impossibility at this time of year.  Staying positive, grateful for all we have (including good health!) and much appreciation of our lives here is a good thing.  A very good thing.