Friday, August 29, 2014

Potato Family Roots.

I have been digging up my potato harvest - the score is:  Fancy Schmancy Potato Bag Planter - meh vs. Hillbilly Tire Planter - Wowzer!  In order to make potato harvest a little more exciting, I decided to go at it like an archaeologist.  Of sorts (or of spuds).  This is what I came up with:

From top left to bottom right:

A.  Newborn spud
B.  Infant spud
C.  Baby spud
D.  Tweenage spud
E.  Terrible Teen spud
F.  Mama spud
G.  Papa spud
H.  Great Grandpappy spud

 And let's not forget:

Weird Whale spud

Obviously, I am either in need of a vacation or I have too much time on my hands....  Hey!  Given that everyone (except me) loves all things "baby" vegetables, do you think that Newborn Potatoes could catch on?  Infant Carrots?  Preemie Spinach? 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Cabbage, she is beautiful...

I know I was going to post pix of my new driveway, but it pales in comparison with this:

I may just give up my garden and rent out part of my neighbor's fertile plot.  Remember those six Savoy cabbage plants that I wheedled into his garden?  Two got so big they split (my fault for not checking on them), while the other four grew into massiveness.
This one is NOT the largest.  Yes, that's right.  It weighs 12.8 pounds.

I had to use my regular scale.  After I dusted it off.

I see pounds and pounds, gallons and gallons, of beet sauerkraut, blueberry sauerkraut and plain ole sauerkraut in my near future.  I would love to hear if anyone has any recipes for canning cabbage - I need all the help I can get!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Weekend Adventures and Winners!

It seems like I time-warped through the weekend, there was so much going on. Firstly, I came home to a new, expanded and improved driveway! (Pictures tomorrow) I feel a bit better about accepting this 'service' from my neighbor, as it seems he has done the same or similar for other neighbors. I am, however, going to slip a dozen eggs into their mailbox every week. It will slightly ease my conscience.

Saturday morning I arose at my usual o'dark thirty so that I could bake for the local library's book and bake sale. I have been dying to try a recipe for Lemon Blueberry Bread (GF). It smelled heavenly and I figured it would be a good seller. When I came in from morning chores, I discovered that it must have tasted wonderful - someone had taken a HUGE bite out of the middle of it. After emitting a screech that would set off car alarms, should I still live in Brooklyn, I stormed into the living room and easily spotted the culprit. Lovey sat, looking at everything and everyone but me, with blue crumbs stuck to her nose and muzzle. It was so hysterical that I had to laugh. Then I put her in her crate. I had just enough time to whip up a GF Lemon Glazed Zucchini Bread, although it went to the sale still warmish in its plastic cocoon. I hope it didn't turn into a sodden mess. I dropped off my recyclables and made it home in time to work on the garden, run the vacuum, peel back the tarp over the nuggets (no rain predicted for a few days - hallelujah!) so I can dry it out a bit. I picked up feed, paid a short visit to a friend, came home and unloaded the car and cleaned as much of the dog hair I could out of it. Then it was off to the city to pick up my aunt and uncle, flying in from Arizona to visit my folks. I discovered that most of the heavy-duty construction is done on weekends. Thank goodness I gave myself an extra half-hour, because I needed every minute. Their plane arrived early! Then I schlepped them to Vermont, dropped them off, got their luggage inside, said "have fun" and drove home.

Sunday was more garden work - I decided to turn the failed strawberry bed that lines the front walk into a flower bed. This meant ripping out all the strawberry plants and transplanting my bee balm. I have to build up the bed, so I rummaged around and found a 4x4 and a pile of bricks and got it half done. No one can accuse me of being a dead ringer for "Martha". It's Hillbilly All The Way! I got the laundry on the line and then met a friend for more blueberry picking. Technically, I did not NEED more blueberries. But I am not one to turn down free food and spending time talking with someone not on four feet. I got back in time to throw a roaster pan full of tomatoes and basil into the oven, then my friend Lisa came over to get wood chips. We had a delightful, but short, visit, and I started on the sheep and llama area. Got everything raked and shoveled 9 - five gallon buckets o' beans for future use. I also forked a pile of composted hay/manure around the bare roots of the big fir tree that is next to their barn. If I keep them in this area for winter, I will have to wrap the trunk with chicken wire. A sheep can de-bark a tree in a nanosecond.

I then stopped. Except for chores.

Cooking-wise, I made a Gluten Free Tabbouleh Salad that was/is delish! I also defrosted some cooked chicken and made chicken fried rice, having discovered a container of cooked rice that needed dealing with. For dinner, I made a light Tomato Basil Cheese Quiche that was really good! My lunches are set for the week.

And now that you have read through this entire rambling post - I will show mercy....the winners of the giveaway!

Book #1 - Most popular by far - goes to MAMA PEA! I have your address, so will pop it in the mail this week.

Book #2 - NANCY PO will soon be a goat expert! Please email your mailing address to me.

Book #3 - Some thoughtful reading will be had by -- JOY! Please email your mailing address to me (swomersley at gmail dot com)

Book #4 - A little Italian gardening will be done by SUE O! Disclosure here. The cats, bless their hearts, knocked over my vase of sunflowers and it dampened the back part of the book - it did not destroy the text, but the pages will be wrinkly. If you would rather not accept it, that is fine. If you still would like it, I will mail it as soon as it dries thoroughly. Please email your mailing address or let me know, either way.

Thanks, everyone, for participating! The next giveaway will most likely involve cats....
(KIDDING, Carolyn....I think....)

Friday, August 22, 2014

It's been a while.

As I was sorting through my bookcases, gleaning prospective volumes for the local library's Book & Bake Sale, I came across some that cried out for inclusion in a homesteader's library.  How about a giveaway!?! 

Here is what is up for the offering:

Book #1
By one of my favorite non-fiction writers,
Joel Salatin.  A wonderful book that reinforces
the importance of nurturing the "family" farm.

Book #2
(slightly different cover than mine)
A great resource for starting a small herd
of goaties.

Book #3
A classic from one of the foremost
proponents of farming and food.  A great

Book #4
If it wasn't for the six feet of rock and gravel
on my property, I would have done
this successfully.

So there you have them, from soup to nuts.  To be entered in the giveaway, just leave a comment about which book you would like.  This giveaway is open to US and Canada only, given the exorbitant postal costs of shipping any further.  I will randomly choose (four) winners on Sunday and announce them on Monday.  Cheers!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

On Patrol.

We have been diligently doing our neighborly duty every morning now.  No more tresspasser sightings.  The dogs have been working on their macrame - or that's what it seems like after tangling and untangling their leashes a gazillion times.

I would usually let Scrappy run (relative term at his age) off leash, but we were heading back and once he gets his 'home' in his vision, he does not look right or left.  Kids.

Monday, August 18, 2014

We Loves Our Zucchini and Putting on the Squeeze.

I've been experiencing a sort of debilitating shock every weekend lately.  It happens when I get up in the morning, have my coffee and look at my list.  I freeze up.  Of course, some of that might have to do with the fact that it has not been over 50 degrees for the past five mornings.  I mean...

But mostly it has to do with the fact that I have had to try and squeeze two-days worth of work into one.  This is causing my frazzled brain to shut down and I sit, unmoving, unable to process it all.  Eventually, I can nudge myself into action, but I lose valuable time and it makes it even worse on Monday.  Sigh.  Not much I can do about it for a few more weekends.  It is what it is.  This Saturday was my dad's birthday (92!!) and I schlepped the granddogs north where we bustled around and grilled up his favorite - steaks - with fresh corn on the cob, a kale salad and doubly triple chocolate ice cream.  The kids were well behaved and Lovey was so relieved that she wasn't left behind, that she conked out on the way home and continued her snoring on the sofa.  As a matter of fact, they were all out cold.  It was very nice.

Sunday, after I managed to goad myself into action after six times my usual daily dosage of caffeine, I tackled the garden a bit, worked in the poultry yard and spent a delightful half hour with my friend, AnnMarie.  She is the Florence Nightingale of all things goats - getting dragged from bed in the wee hours to help with a difficult birth, an emergency.  She is something else.  She was the midwife for Sage and has provided Chickie with a wonderful home.  She is a bit of amazing and it is always so much fun to spend time with her.

I cleaned up the garlic that has been curing in the barn and it was a fair harvest.  The heads were a little smaller than last year, but last year I left them in the ground too long.  This year looks better.  I also stuffed two of my three (if I am lucky, there will be one more...) round zucchinis and made some zucchini fritters with zucchinis donated by my neighbor.  I absolutely love zucchini fritters - these were made with fresh corn, as I had two ears in the fridge.  I have them for dinner, I have them for breakfast (nothing like them topped with an easy-over or poached egg).  I am having them for lunch!


Down to garlic business.


My tomato plants are in a sorry state, and I have been pulling any tomatoes off that are on their way toward ripeness.  The cherry tomato plant is in much better shape.  Peppers are growing, but not close to ripeness.  The beans are gone - plants donated to the sheep, who love them.  I am still getting 3-4 large cukes every other day. 

I harvested potatoes out of the potato bags (bintjes) and out of one tire planter.  The number and size were a little disappointing, but I think I need to water them more.  The bag allows a lot of moisture to evaporate and the smaller bag planter did better because it was tucked between a raised bed and a tire planter.  I learn something every year.  I learn many somethings every year.

P.S.  A series of giveaways is coming up...stay tuned....

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Whole Lotta Lovin.

When I got up this morning (way too early, per usual), I did not hear the tippy-tapping of canine toenails outside of the door.  This is unusual, since they seem to hear even the faintest rustling from behind closed doors.  Even Pepper, my knee-cozy, didn't budge.  Hmmm. 

When I walked into the living room and turned on the light, I realized they were all balled up on the sofa.  No wonder - here we are, mid-August, and it was 45 degrees.  This is not right.  Nope.  Not at all.  After making them go out (it's a lot of, "You go first.  No, YOU go.  No, YOU go." when it's cold), I made a cup of chai tea, let them back in, and sat on the chair-and-a-half to dig into a (are you sitting?) book.  Yes, Sylvie has me hooked on the Maisie Dobbs series.  Light reading, well-written, with a fine character study and an interesting period piece.  Plus it's a mystery and I love me my mysteries.

Within nanoseconds, Pepper was smooched up next to me.  I feel a tap on my knee, peer over my book, and there is Lovey.  Furrowed little brow, soft, wrinkly boxer face, white paw on my knee.  Pepper goes into my lap, Lovey smooches up next to me.  Then there is some heavy purring on the back of my neck.  Slim - he who must not be held - has snuggled tightly against my neck.  Scrappy has dibs on the favorite end of the sofa and is snoring softly(ish), his back to me, looking like the canine version of Yoda.

My mornings are filled with a whole lotta lovin.  This is especially appreciated when it's 46 degrees, fernatssake.


I try to keep the pity out of my face, as my office mates ask if I'd like a salad from the deli downstairs.  Poor unfortunates.  I sit with an array of salads on my desk - left to right (I forgot my cellphone at home - I hope Scrappy doesn't surf the Net all day) - thinly sliced cucumbers (mine), sprinkled with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and seasoned rice vinegar; diced tomato (mine), sprinkled with basil - green and amythest - chiffonade (mine) and a little EVOO (Italy's); broccoli salad - diced raw broccoli (mine), with Craisins (Ocean Spray's), red onion (farm in VT), diced crisp bacon (Marianne's), and dressed with a dollop of mayo (Hellman's), yogurt (mine), ACV (mine) and a teaspoon of sugar (organic somebody's).  I go close my office door, because I don't want them to see what they're missing.  I am trying to be kind.

I have this every single day, until I run out of tomatoes.