Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August Harvest Totals and our Rooster

He's quite a handsome rooster.  

He does crow now, but not too loudly or obnoxiously.  That is a relief.  He's also not at all aggressive yet, which is a quality that allows him to live.  

And now, our August harvest totals:
Beans, calypso (a dried bean type): about 1 cup
Beans, golden crescent: 12 cups
Cabbages, purple: 2
Cantaloupe: 1
Carrots, assorted types: 6
Cucumbers, white: 68
Cucumbers, Russian pickling: 15
Eggs: 179
Kholrabi: 1
Pepper, Bulgarian: 1
Radish, white: 2
Tomatoes, Black Krim, Golden Jubilee, and Italian Heirloom: 19
Zucchini: 8

Also, too many cherry tomatoes to count (enough to eat fresh daily plus 2 pints of dried ones) and fresh herbs (basil, dill, parsley, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, mint, cilantro).  There were also 2 additional cantaloupes that an animal bit a large part of, and so the chickens were treated to those.

Overall, the garden is producing well, although obviously the tomato and pepper harvest is abysmal.  More are growing, though, so we're not anywhere near done yet.  Also soon to come are tomatillos, which look plentiful.  There's also pumpkins, and more beans and tons more cucumbers.  I think the zucchini may be done, and the kholrabi and radishes are, but I plan to plant some for a fall crop this weekend.  The cucumbers have been so plentiful this year that I canned relish (8 or 9 pints) and made 2 quarts of fermented dill pickles, plus for the last week I've been feeding the chickens about 4 cucumbers a day.  They love that.  And I'm still eating them fresh, and we've given some away.  I may make one more quart of dills (or maybe 2), but I don't need any more relish and the kids are getting really tired of being offered cucumbers.  I may make some bread and butter pickles, too.   

I really love these Mexican sunflowers.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

More Misc

Elijah ran his first official race on Saturday morning, and he did great!  I tried to get a picture as he ran past:
Around the house, we've been pretty busy.  On Sunday afternoon, the boys, Nathaniel, and I replaced the chicken yard fencing.  We still are going to re-do the smaller "first yard" on the other side of the coop next weekend.

The cherry tomatoes are delicious dried!

I have four trays stacked up in the dehydrator right now.  

Notice how much these chicks have grown.  I took this picture today.  The picture in the last post was from Thursday, so they've grown quite a bit in less than a week. 

This picture is just to show you how beautiful our front flower bed is right now.  I drug the old wheelbarrow up there in the spring, and Nathaniel and the kids picked out some flowers for it.  It looks so pretty.

Here are my morning glories wound around a pumpkin plant.  Both look pretty healthy.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Down on the "Farm"

I haven't shown any pictures of the meat chicks yet, so here they are:

Notice the tiny chick.  It is half the size of the others, and I am hoping that it is just younger, but at this point I don't know.  These little guys are much messier than the dual breed chicks we have raised before.  I just had to totally remove them from the pen and dump the straw, pine, and yuck, and re-set everything.  I've changed the feeding container, too, because they like to lay in the other one I was using, which led to poop in their food.  I never had much of a problem with that before.  Overall, though, chicks are really not too big of an issue.  It's just so much easier to let a mama hen raise them.  This weekend, we plan on building an enclosed outdoor area off of the side of the coop.  For now, it will be for the meat chickens, but after they are gone, we will let the layers access it (in addition to their regular spaces).

And this may not look like much, but this is the start of mushrooms!  We inoculated the logs last fall, and now they are starting to grow.   

I'm very excited about this.  I will have to dry some, because there is no way we'll be able to eat all of the mushrooms fresh!  That's really not a problem, though, since Nathaniel bought me a food dehydrator a year or two ago.
And see how the cucumbers have spread!   To the right, you can see the beautiful orange Mexican sunflower, one of two plants I bought from June at the farmer's market.  They don't look like sunflowers to me, more like daisies, but they are so pretty.  The other one is in my herb garden.  To the left are some marigolds.  There are tomatillos in the background.  They are taller than me!  I only have 3 plants, but they have grown so well and will soon start yielding.  Last year, the yield from the tomatillos was amazing, and it looks like this year will be as well, just a bit late.

And here is the first pumpkin.  It's about the size of a volleyball.  It shouldn't be the only one, but it is certainly the biggest.  Honestly, it's hard to notice them until they get decent sized, because this plant is in the cucumber bed, and those things are vigorous!  I've also harvested one cantaloupe.  A second one got bit into by an animal and filled with bugs, so the chickens enjoyed that one.  A third is still green, but looking good so far.  Golden crescent beans are producing well.  I may actually dehydrate some of those, for use in winter soups.  The boys are getting pretty tired of eating them fresh right now.  The tomatoes have started producing better.  We are getting about 2 full-sized ones a day, which is enough for Lydia and I to enjoy fresh, along with tons of cherry tomatoes.  Gyunay particularly likes those fresh-picked from the garden.  I also just dehydrated some of those, because I loved dried tomatoes and the cherries are too numerous to eat fresh.
I did start some seeds for a fall garden, but the seedlings are not doing well.  I am never as good at fall gardening as spring.  I do plan to transplant the best ones, and I still plan to plant some seeds of chard, etc, soon.  I need to plant more carrots, too, because Lydia has picked most of them.  

Also, I can't remember if I mentioned that the younger pullets are laying!  We are getting 5-8 eggs a day now, so more than 3 dozen a week.  Eggs and cucumbers are definitely in abundance around here.  Overall, the garden and animals are doing well, even if the garden has been later than anticipated in producing.  Maybe we'll have a later frost, so we can keep getting tomatoes and peppers longer.

Book Review - To Follow Her Heart by Rebecca DeMarino

To Follow Her Heart: A Novel (The Southold Chronicles) (Volume 3)This book is the third in a series, and it is set in the 1600s in New England.  While I enjoy historical fiction (and nonfiction) very much, I was not pulled in to this story.  The romance between the main characters was frustrating and drawn-out, and I frankly lost interest in it and found that I really didn't care whether or not they would eventually get married.  There was a lot of focus on duty, and although that can be a good thing, here it was just more of an excuse to keep them apart.  Neither of the main characters was particularly compelling to me.  There were several secondary characters, and at times it took a bit to sort them out.  Some of these characters are from the first two books, but others are new to this one.  The series overall is based on the ancestors of the author, and I liked that fact, but the story is slow and meandering.  I did like the friendship between the women, and the bits about the Dame School were interesting, but overall I really didn't care for this book.

I received this book from the publisher, Revell, for the purpose of writing a review, but all opinions are my own.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Preschool and Tomatoes

This happy guy started preschool today.  He rode the bus and had a good day.  He is excited about school. 

While he was gone, I processed the approximately 70 lbs of tomatoes that we bought for $30 yesterday.  I canned 22 pints of salsa and 5 quarts of tomato juice.  I also cooked and pureed one of the four cushaws we bought yesterday as well.  (Cushaws taste like pumpkins, but they puree so smoothly!  They make the best pie.)  So I was busy the whole time he was gone.  I've got a lot of projects to get done while he's at school.

Oh, and we also bought 11 chicks.  Some people impulsively buy soft drinks at the store. We impluse buy chicks.  These are meat chickens, Cornish Cross chicks.  They are currently in our garage eating like crazy.  They are already a week old, so they will be ready to harvest in 6-7 weeks.  Really.  Malachi and Lydia aren't crazy about eating them all, but Elijah's been naming them Nugget, Stew, Dumpling, etc.  This is the first time we've raised meat birds, and I doubt it will be the last.  The kids are really fond of chickens, both as livestock and as food.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Back to School

The bigger kids started back to school this week.  I now have 2 middle schoolers, 1 elementary schooler, and 1 preschooler.  Gyunay's school has not started yet, but we did get to go see his classroom and meet his teachers at open house:

I remembered to take first day of school pictures this year!

This one had a great first day of school.  She has some friends in her class, and has met some new girls as well.  And a bonus: the classroom she has to walk through to get to her class has 2 geckos, so she gets to look at them every day.  

So far, middle school is going well.

He loves the shaky eggs.  He's looking forward to starting preschool next week, and riding the bus for the first time.  I've talked with his teacher about his apraxia and related issues, and I think it's going to be a good year for him!  

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Bulgarian Peppers turned Tomatoes

I love Bulgarian peppers.  They are large, red, and sweet.  Two years ago, I bought a seed packet of them and fell in love.  So I saved some of the seed from those peppers, and last year, I planted it.  Those peppers turned out wonderfully; we had an even bigger harvest than the year before, so again, I saved seed from some of the peppers, and this year I planted it. In fact, I planted 15 Bulgarian pepper plants, but something very weird happened this year.  Out of those 15, a few died, 2 grew into Bulgarian pepper plants, and 10 grew into these:
Specifically, the yellow ones came from Bulgarian pepper seed.  The red ones are the cherry tomatoes I planted, just to show size.   I have never heard of peppers turning into tomatoes.  I do know that they are in the same family, but this is bizarre.  I've never saved tomato seed before, but I'm going to try and save some from these little yellow tomatoes and see what grows from them next year.  I'm also going to plant more Bulgarian peppers from the packet, to make sure I get peppers next year!

This is just a cutie shot from these two playing on the playground at Elijah's first cross country meet last week.  You can't see them here, but Lydia's wearing her cowgirl boots as well.  I think this outfit is pure Lydia (and yes, she was climbing, running, crawling, etc in it!).  

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


We had a little getaway to my inlaws' house over the past weekend.  Nathaniel took a couple of days off (well, he wasn't at work, although he did do work some), so we had basically 4 days.  The kids loved swimming in the lake!

Malachi spent a great deal of time creating the snake armageddon in the driveway.  At first, the "useless civilians" were basically just dying left and right, but the army stepped in and created a force field that was keeping the hospital safe.  And the civilians started to fight back, mostly with medieval weapons, because that is an insult to the snakes.  The snakes have lots of fabulous weapons, like mind control, and their most dangerous kracken sea serpent allies.  But never fear, Mexico, China, Canada, and Russia joined the US forces, and the people have developed a weapon to combat the snakes via Acme research.  So now the people have an actual chance, although an area the size of one US state has already been lost.  Yes, Malachi has a vivid imagination.

This was the best we could do.  We have a hard time with family photos!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Book Review - Honor Redeemed by Christine Johnson

  Honor Redeemed by Christine Johnson is set in Key West in the 1850s.  I had never read an historical novel set in Key West, so that was a nice change.  This story is the second in a series, but it is a stand-alone novel.  The author deftly weaves issues of race in antebellum Florida into the story in a sympathetic fashion.  In the beginning, I didn't know if I would like David, or the story, but I grew fond of both as the novel progressed.  I generally don't like books where 2 men vie for one woman, but this tale seemed different and not forced.  I enjoyed the novel very much.  The characters are memorable, and their faith and flaws are believable.  There is also plenty of action to keep the story moving forward.

I received this book from the publisher, Revell, for the purpose of writing a review, but all opinions are my own.