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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Change.

I miss my view of cows when I do my daily run to feed the farm cats.  The landscape seems poorer without them.

With the departure of his dairy herd, my farmer becomes another casualty in the war on small farmers.  When I first moved to the area, there were small dairy farms dotted over the county.  My neighbor farmer was one of the smallest, yet he was the last one to fold.  He hung on by his fingernails because it was all he knew - it had been his father's dairy farm and his grandfather's before him.  Now the barn is empty, except for a few heifers and calves, and his prize Hereford bull (I now know from whence cometh the term "beefcake" - wowza!)  The farm is being leveled out, cleaned and tidied to hasten its sale.

Another local dairy farm - no longer housing a milking herd - has adapted by raising calves up to heifers for the big dairies.  They started in 1853 as a very diverse farm - cattle, sheep, poultry, swine and maple syrup production.  Over the years they diversified even further, by putting in a cheese house, producing wool, chickens, ducks, calves, pigs, lambs, and lumber.  In the 1960s, new laws governing necessary equipment for dairy farms in New York State (aka the "Nanny" State) forced farmers to either phase out of milk production all together or to focus on milk exclusively.  Once diversity was gone, farmers lost control over their futures.  There are now no small dairy farms in our county. 

On a happier note, the farm cat, Gracie, is letting me pet her!  It has only taken four years!  Sheesh.  Her current 'partner', a lovely orange striped fellow, is very feral and will not get within 10 feet of me.  I hope that whomever buys the farm is a cat lover.  I have set up a Plan B, however, and will work with a rescue to catch Gracie and see if we can place her in a home, while her current partner will most likely be placed as a barn cat. 

Last weekend I started the process of deconstructing my garden.  I can tell you that planting it in the spring is a whole lot more fun.  The days are warm, but the nights have gotten down to the high 30s already!  Hang on, there, Ma Nature!  It's only September! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Leveling out.

Things are finally settled into their normal state of controlled chaos.  Lovey has stopped standing outside of the closed guest room door and whining softly - which she did every morning that Els was here.  I believe she has given up hoping that Els would take her home with her and now has resigned herself that she's stuck here.  Heehee.
My furry, plump Velcro nugget continues to be glued to my side every morning and evening.  I am letting him soak up the love, before I upend his world again and take him to the vet for his annual checkup.  I'm sure he's going to need some dental work, so I am going to try to dovetail the two appointments.  I don't know that I can stand two round trips with the full siren effects in the car.

I canned 11 pints of crushed tomatoes and four half pints of sauce over the weekend.  I have another big pot of will-be sauce on the stove and a final counter top full of ripening tomatoes.  I may have to stay away from Marianne for a few weeks... poor me.

Objects are trickling out of the house - either on craigslist or to Goodwill - but it will be a long time before I am satisfied that things have been minimized. 

My furnace will be serviced tomorrow.  Winter is inevitable.  This is also the year of septic service, wherein I gaze in admiration at the blond Adonis who mans the truck.  Were I thirty years younger...

Laundry is caught up, beds have been changed to autumn apparel and I am ready to tackle my own apparel.  It's next up on the Purge List.

I leave you with pictures of Reggie (who seems to have a crush on Dimples the Duck), the Extreme Lounge Chair and Hopzilla.


Wednesday, September 4, 2019

I was up. I was down. There was a lot of zucchini involved.

Hello?

Right off the bat, I would like to say...
Amen, Lucy.  Amen.

It's very true, that time flies when you're having fun.  My week with Els was here and gone in the blink of an eye - and it was a darn good thing that we were forced to say goodbye quickly at the train station.  (Who's cutting the onions??)  It was a weepy trip home.

Just when I thought that I would be able to take a breather, this happened.

Second round of Marianne's tomatoes.

My own garden started producing!
I had to go back in for a bigger trug!

My neighbor dropped off a 'few' tomatoes
Then, this.
A dozen ears of corn, ready to freeze.

The first round of Marianne's tomatoes!

Once I was assured that Els liked zucchini, I pulled out the stops on my zucchini recipe repertoire.  There were zoodles, of course, and a find-sounding-but-meh-tasting savory vegetable cheesecake (heavy on the zucchini).  There was Lemon Zucchini Bread with Lemon Glaze, again.  There was Tomato and Cheddar pie.  There were Grilled Fish Packets with... yep.  There were smoothies for breakfast and cheese and bread for lunch.  There were MANY cups of tea.  There was peace and quiet.

And, there was...weeding.  Who knew that there was someone out there who LIKED to weed?!
Red noodle beans on the left; yard long
beans on the right.  Zucchini straight ahead.

The cosmos went crazy!

Dahlias and kale

Cucumbers and dahlias and...
no weeds!

Pepper bed with... no weeds!

The lovely Els.
I delayed in relating this exciting news until I knew she was safely in the Netherlands and couldn't be kidnapped by my gardening friends.

While we were lounging on the deck, discussing the true meaning of life and enjoying the hummingbirds, I suddenly found myself still talking to Els, but looking at the sky through the top of the pergola.  My deck chair had decided to become an extreme lounge chair.  I would have carried on talking, but all my blood was being pumped to my head.  Looks like I will be searching for 'new' deck furniture in the spring.  Having guests was also the key to my guest shower head going on strike.  I have very hard water and faithfully soak the shower head in white vinegar to keep it flowing.  Apparently, it had had enough.  I managed to get my handyguy to come down at 9P to wrest the thing off so that I could get to HD in the morning to buy a replacement.  He was then good enough to come back down to put it on.  Who knew Teflon tape was a thing?  So - shower is go, chair is gone.  But summer is over and my days of lounging are over, too.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Bats, berries and bounty

One early morning, while Rosie was still in residence, I had let the dogs out and stood gazing at the sky, while keeping a side-eye on PB, who prefers to do his business on the deck.  All that was forgotten when I saw four bats, zipping around the house, vacuuming up the bugs!  Oh, hurray!  Oh frabjous day, callooh, callay!  I absolutely love bats.  You could say that I am batty for bats (wait...was that a collective groan I heard??)  I have seen a lone bat, but never four.  It was so exciting!  Luckily for me, Rosie was just as excited.

Fast forward to the day she left.  I came home and found a mysterious package in my mailbox.  Trotting inside, I open it up and....it's a bat house kit!  From Rosie!!

Completely out of character, I immediately set about putting it together.  (Note: living room floor is still not finished - 5 years; guest bathroom is almost-but-not-quite finished - 12 years)

All that's needed now is a bead of caulk on the roof join and dark stain.  Let's hope I can maintain momentum.  Before I install it (after finding just the right place to put it), I will need to add a Pup Catcher.  Who knew? 

One of the must-dos that actually got done, was the harvesting of my elderberries.  They are a favorite of the birds and there is a very short period between almost ripe and robbery.  I managed to get out and clip half of one bush.  Elderberry plucking is a very Zen kind of thing to do.
This was over one gallon of berries - and I still have the other half of the bush and another bush to go.  The second bush is not as fruited, but, still.  I filled every tray in my Excalibur.
After drying, there is still well over a quart jar.  It's nice to have one bountiful crop.

Speaking of bounty, I stopped by to see Marianne after a doctor's appointment.  We had a nice chat, a cup of tea and I left with this bounty!
I will have to ask her (again) what type of cucumbers she grows.  They are huge, virtually seedless and sweet. 

AND, speaking of sweet...
Slimmie is back and velcroed to me every morning and evening.

I am gearing up for my next, much-awaited visitor, who I pick up at the train station tomorrow.  I will be off the air, so to speak, most if not all of next week.  The planets seem to be aligned, for a change.  All the heat, humidity and endless thunderstorms have moved through and we should have clear skies, less humidity and all around better weather for most of her visit.  The week's menu is planned - not surprisingly, zucchini figures in 90% of it - tomatoes, too - and I am looking forward to hours of just being in her company.  See you on the flip side!




Monday, August 19, 2019

1001 Zucchini Recipes

I am on a roll.  So far, there's been zucchini bread with lemon glaze (soon to be repeated), zucchini pizza crust (more than once), zucchini quesadillas, zucchini pancakes (the best I've ever had), Mediterranean Zoodles, zoodles with olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper, and zucchini and black bean burgers, scrambled eggs with sauteed zucchini.  Els, if you're listening, I hope you like zucchini...
Zucchini crust pizza - my fav!

There's room for more.
As of this morning.
I'm glad there is so much zucchini, because (a) I love it; (b) it is versatile; (c) everything else in the garden has been disappointing.  I've been making notes as to changes that need to happen in the garden next year.  It's apparent that the new 'normal' for gardening is that anything can happen and usually does - multiple times.  It's either a cold, super-wet spring, then extended heat waves with no rain, then end-to-end thunderstorms with high winds, downpours and hail.  We're just missing the snakes and locusts, but I don't really want to encourage that kind of pestilence.

Speaking of pestilence, I have had a real battle with wasps this year.  I locate and destroy their nests, only to find that they've returned and built a bigger - and better - nest in the same location.  I found a huge nest in the barn which I was going to destroy - but then thought I should check the run-in shed first.  Once I spray the honkin' big nest in the barn, I will have to block access to the barn and wanted to be sure Apria and the Boys had alternative shelter.  Good thing I checked, because - drum roll - honkin' big nest in the run-in shed.  I did my best Terminator rendition on that nest and will take it down tonight.  Then, in the morning, I will start on the barn colony.  Let's hope that's it for the year.

Back in the garden, my yard-long green beans have been a fair producer.  The red noodle beans have just started flowering.  I have two tiny melons on one of the three puny vines.  My peppers are pooped, apparently.  The plants did not flourish, but there were lots of peppers.  The poblanos (seen to the left in the photo above) are coming along, although there are few of them.  I have had one eggplant (ditto above) and am in a locked battle with potato bugs on my four plants.  The kale and chard are doing well.  The garlic and onions were pathetic.  The cucumbers are struggling.  And the tomatoes.  All sixteen plants.  I have lots and lots of green tomatoes, but have, so far, only had two ripen.  I've managed to eke by with my blueberry tomatoes - a cherry tomato in a lovely blue-black color, but they are not as prolific as I had hoped.  I have myself to blame for the tomatoes - they take a lot of tending and half of July and half of August, they did not get enough attention.  But, we gardeners are a tough bunch with cast iron BGPs (and BBPs - let's be fair).  We will come back strong next year.




Thursday, August 15, 2019

Walla, Walla, Bing, Bang.

Ah, parting is such sweet sorrow.  As much as my life was turned upside down over the past month, it was so special to spend the time with Rosie.  With her new adventure on the horizon, I doubt if I will get to see her for quite some time.  That said, there is a cat who will be dancing in the halls.  Slimmie - who was trimmed down before the visit - is now plumped up again.  After all, there was nothing to do but chow down and sleep all day, while he waited for the gate to be lifted at night.

I ended up adding six orphan hens to the flock, as friends are downsizing because of relationship issues.  They were a sorry mess, let me tell you.  Apparently, they lived in an area that did not allow chicken husbandry, so they were stealth chickens.  Kept in a way-too-small pen.  As is the way with chickens, one was a beetch and pretty much plucked two of them bald.  It took a couple days for them to realize they did not have to stay in the coop and now they are experiencing zoomies.

Speaking of zoomies, Lovey is going to really miss her pal, Fae.  After all the lip rolling (on Lovey's part), they ended up getting along very well.  And there was also the fact that Rosie worked from home, so the dogs were rarely alone.  This is a comfort point for a dog wracked with anxiety.  However, we will muddle through. 

I had the opportunity to meet my friend, Els' husband, Kees, for dinner last Friday.  He was with a group cycling across the country via a northern route.  Thousands of miles.  It boggles the mind.  I had followed their progress, thanks to a nicely kept daily journal by the tour leader.  You can find it here.  Kees was easy to spot, as he was the only rider with a yellow bike frame.  Their route to the Atlantic brought them close enough to the LLF so that we could meet.  It was very enjoyable.  I am looking forward to Els' visit, a week from Saturday.  I think it will be at a much lower key, as she is dogless and serene. 

I also had the opportunity to meet my bestie for breakfast last Saturday!  Social life went from 0-60!

The garden (and everything else) has been shamelessly neglected, so I will be weeding, cajoling and doing laundry and general catch-up from dawn to dusk this weekend.  There will also be a very laden trip to Goodwill.  Lawsymercy.

I have no photos, but I will work on jazzing up the blog in the next post - which will feature an overview of the garden and the culinary delights experienced in a house with a glut of summer squash.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Stand back! It's going to get messy...

Today's lunch.

Today's lunch was more or less a bunch of leftovers thrown in a bag and toted to work for assembly.  I had made Zucchini Parmesan Squares (gluten free) and they did not rise as much as hoped.  I believe it's the homemade baking powder, as everything I've made with it has been rather flat.  However, it tastes great, so I declared it thick bread and made my first tomato sandwich of the summer.  With my one ripe tomato.

I am trying to get my mind organized for the coming week, which is lining up to be a humdinger.  Today is normal.  Tomorrow I pick up my sister at the crap of dawn for our annual trip to the NH Craftsman (people) Fair.  It is a two hour drive and we arm ourselves with lattes and chatter the whole trip - it is a great time to work out the intricacies of family matters and just have fun.  This year, it is also her birthday.  Wednesday, a whole crew is coming up to the office from the city to work out the impending (or eventual) move.  Thursday I race around on my lunch hour to deliver dog stuff to the rescue I work with.  Friday, I get to meet Els' husband in a town not too far from work for dinner!  He has been cycling with a group on a northern route from Oregon to Boston.  It's been fascinating to follow them via their daily journal.  Kees is the only cycler with a yellow-framed bike.  I haven't seen him for over 11 years either, so this will be a wonderful opportunity to catch up. 

I may collapse from all the socializing on the weekend.  Or clean out my upright freezer and put it on Craigslist.  If I don't redirect some of the tsunami of items that have been cast upon me soon, I may collapse under the weight of it all - real or psychic.