Friday, August 20, 2010

Cool mornings = thoughts of winter feedings

Blue Hubbard Squashes

The Blue Hubbard's I fretted over so much this summer are loaded with squashes.  More than I will use for the 2 of us for sure.  I also planted Jarradale pumpkins and Butternut squashes in the same area so everything could just vine out and mix  together without shading out less aggressive plants.  Anything we don't use can certainly be used as food for the goats, pigs and chickens over the winter.

A blue Jarradale pumpkin and a volunteer melon in back.  The melon plant, one  orange pumpkin plant and a tomato plant were volunteers from things we fed to the pigs over the winter, who were housed here.  Either the seeds passed through their system undigested or they weren't eaten and just laid dormant till this spring.

With the mornings getting a bit cooler it seems the foliage in this patch of squashes and pumpkins is starting to die back just a bit in the center and you can see ground where you couldn't a month ago.    My intent is to put the pigs back in there after I've harvested everything we humans can use and let them go to it at that point.   To maximize the amount of food  for them I sowed some Purple Top Turnips in there a few days ago.   I just threw seed througout the enter patch.  As the big leaves of the squashes die back the turnips will take over.  I don't think the plants will actually make the turnip bulbs because the soil is too hard in places there but still the abundant foliage will be a welcome addition to their diet. 

Turnip seedling planted Mon. already spouting amongst the pumpkins and squashes.   A bag of seeds from my local hardware store of common Purple Top Turnips was under $3 for a 4 ounce bag.   Some will get stepped on and trampled as I harvest in there but almost anything I get will make the tiny effort of scattering seeds worth the effort.   If you do it just before it rains you don't even have to water them in.   Mother nature can do that for you.

Turnips I sowed last summer growing throughout the pumpkin and squash plants this year.  


The barren area of this bed was planted this week with collard greens and kale for the goats for some much appreciated greens for winter feeding.  They love both.  The collards provide large leaves which means extra bang for the buck and the kale should stay going all winter so even in the coldest weather they will get the occasional addition of greens to their meals.   The bed looks smaller in this photo than it is.  I think it's about a 15' x 15'  area.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Enjoying the bounty

Skillet of potatoes, onions, green peppers, tomatoes and jalapeno's cooked in olive oil with a bit of garlic

This is my favorite time of year where food is concerned.  I love going out to the garden to just start picking for an impromptu meal.   Browned potatoes with carmelized onions and peppers is always a favorite.  It reminds me of mornings on camping trips. 

Same as above with a yellow squash in it and few less tomatoes

These potato and veggie skillets always pair well with fresh scrambled eggs compliments of the girls

Monday, August 9, 2010

Making precious childhood memories in the garden

Malia planting pea's.... her favorite veggie and the first thing she's planted by herself.

By the standards most of the people of the world live by today we live a pretty slow and simple life here on this tiny homestead.  Malia and I are 50 yrs apart in age.  I'll be 60 this year and she just turned 10.   It's just her and I here.  We have no family locally and  I homeschool her.  She''s been with me since Thanksgiving day 8 yrs ago. We don't have tv most of the year because we're too rural for the local channels and if we have satellite we watch too much so I have it turned off a lot.   At 10 she's read a lot of the classics...Black Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, The Yearling and a number of others.   We talk of her going back to school so she has more contact with other children and more than likely she'll be in 4H this year, homeschooled or not.  

Some people would think it's a great way to raise a kid in today's world and others might consider it child tv or video and only books, the woods and life for fun.   Either way, it's our life.   We have the animals...the pigs, goats, chickens, dogs and cats.  And that's great and can, at times be very exciting, like at baby time.    But I know in my heart some of her very best memories will be of our garden time.  

Every day we start out the same.   She gets the chickens out while I head out to the garden with a cup of coffee.  She joins me and we walk and look.   We talk about what's bigger or what's not bigger; what bugs there are, what flowers are blooming and  in plants like the squash or pumpkins, if it's the male or female flowers doing the blooming.  Sometimes we stop and pick something.  We talk of the great meals we will have this winter with what we are growing.  We watch the bee's do their busy work and walk somemore holding hands taking it all in.   It's a routine that is quietly solid.    She never fails to tell me " We sure have a great garden Grandma".    And I know these moments more than any others we share daily will stay in her heart and memory all her life as a time every day of  love.

A treasure found

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Who knew lawn clippings could be such a treat?

It almost makes mowing pleasurable knowing these guys all enjoy this treat so much.


I'll take that ripe juicy tomato I picked today.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Wild Black Cherry Jelly

 Black cherry (Prunus serotina)

I usually look at these tree's as a nuisance because the leaves when wilted will poison animals that eat them.  I have to cut them down in area's the pigs or goats will be in before I can let the animals go free to graze there or fence around them.  This one is on the edge of my driveway and was scheduled to be cut down but my tree guy has been hard to coordinate with and it was a bit larger than I wanted to do with my hand saw.   Little did I know I would be so happy it didn't meet it's demise this spring.   The tree is loaded with ripe cherries.  Their small but plentiful.


 Absolutely delicious.   It has the richest cherry flavor.  The same fruit used for the jelly can also be used again by reheating and adding sugar to  make a great syrup for pancakes or ice cream.  

Edited 8/22/12


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Almost wordless Wednesday

A tiny front porch with melons, variagated trumpet vine and hyacinth beans climbing the trellis

Boots at ready, boot scraper and  kitty houses or chicken nest boxes depending on the time of day it is.

In the basket of rocks on the porch 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

So, whatcha been up to? or a day on the homestead

Morning cart loaded with food and milking equipment for the for the goats and food and dishes for the pigs.  

So whatcha been up to?   Nothin much....  Same thing as everyday.   That's my answer to that question.  It's a question much like the one I get from my family in the mid west...."When you coming to see us?"   Ahhh.... probably not anytime soon guys.  Maybe you could come see me????   Usually -  not always -  but usually, when I get asked those questions it's as if  the person asking is waving a red flag that says they have absolutely no understanding what our life is like.  You can tell them and on a intellectual level they may get it but at gut level they really don't.  

We have a small kennel.  We raise and occasionally show Tibetan Terriers.  We used to show the dogs more but when you have a lot of animals it is hard to go anywhere.  Then, because we were limited in being able to leave anyway, I decided why not get those goat's I had always wanted.  I had been hesitant to get goats because of the twice a day milking and how that would really tie us to the house but what the heck we already were tied down because of the dogs.   After a couple of years with the goats the decision was made to get the pigs my 10 year old wanted to help use the milk and produce some of our own meat.   Now we are at a point that getting to the feed store is an event.   Add the garden and all it's chores to that and home has become a lifestyle called homesteading.  

 I have to check in with myself on occasion to see why the heck I'm doing this,  like on the day we moved all those cattle and goat panels when it was 100 degree's out.   Or tonight, when after doing all the day's chores and fitting in a trip to the feed store, I get home in time to get ready for the evening chores but realize, it's gonna rain tonight and momma pig hasn''t got that litter of piglets out of the woods yet and up to the pig house so I need to figure out how to either move them or somehow keep them dry where they lie.   I decided to haul a 9' picnic umbrella and heavy duty stand and some hay out to the woods to keep them covered and up somewhat off the ground on the hay.   We'll see.   Then I get to start the nights chores which are an abbreviated version of the morning chores.  

Load the cart, haul it to the goat area, tether the goats  so they don't eat each others food,  

Check out the udder on Tina (on the right).  That's about a gallon of milk in there.   With her two kids gone this week to their new home it's all ours...oh yeah, and the pigs.

Goats sweet feed mix with extra corn, sunflower seeds for extra protein and  2 overgrown summer squashes cut up in it - Yummy!

Now on to the pigs.  They hear the yellow wagon and me feeding the goats and know their next...momma even left her babies in the woods to come wait at the fence.   I throw them some hay over the fence first to distract them so I can get the food in there.  They don't always take the bait though.

Pig bucket... soaked corn, pig pellets with sunflower seeds, summer squash and milk.  Now the trick is to get it into their enclosure.  Yikes!  Let the squealing begin!  I  ALWAYS wear my knee high Welly's for this job. 

The adults don't look much better.   What little pigs they are about their food!   And isn't that Tina and Passion I hear letting me know they are done eating...come untether them?   I need to milk anyway now that all have been fed.

Let see, do I have everything?  Udderly easy milker and it's inserts, wipes to clean her, udder spray for when I'm done, insect repellent for her, a Pepsi for me,  milking bucket and my stool.   Oh and I better check baking soda before I leave and I think I'll do her hooves while I"m here.  Most goats can go 3 - 6 months on hooves but not my Tina. 

These were done at kidding time.   The kids are 10 weeks old now.   Should have done them a month ago.

OK,  that's better.  Not perfect but I'll do a little more tomorrow.   Now I need to go do the kennels, check the gardens, pick up the house, get some food on before I go to the the feed store so I can get home in time for evening chores.  

And I love it and  am so very very grateful that I have this as my life.  

Well it's getting light out now so I think I'll go see how those baby pigs made out last night in the woods.
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