No day 7 – but a week in review.

I didn’t write a day 7, but thought instead I would look back at the week and see what I actually did that I planned and what I added that I didn’t plan…

I canned Dilly Beans, and froze lots of greens, and green beans, I made refrigerator pickles, (lots of them) and a cucumber and onion relish that hubby loves. I dried Dill, and Basil and finally rendered Lard for the first time. I didn’t eat dinner at dinner time and I didn’t eat food that would qualify as dinner to hubby or most men. I ate fruits and veggies till I thought I might pop and I did read part of my Hunter Safety PDF. Oh and I canned Peach Jam which I didn’t expect to do that week, but MIL gave me some wonderful looking peaches. What I didn’t do but wanted to do was to play guitar, clarinet or piano, or knit or get out my 35mm camera that I love. I guess my list is set for my next window of spare time..

IMG_5104

This is something I have wanted to do for a while. I’ve haphazardly thrown herbs into bags before but I always wanted to have them in labeled jars. While I could have collected much more so far this year, I am still going to try to add to these. The labels when I saw them seemed a little frilly and unnecessary but these labels, unlike stickers, actually wash off, and so I decided it would be nice to have them done. Ok I have to admit, they look pretty cute;)

IMG_5060

We are getting ready for Chicken day. We experimented with 10 birds free ranging this year, and only lost one after weeks of having them out. Now we have them in, since butchering is so soon, I don’t want to lose another. There is a lot of feed $ that goes into a full size bird, so I can’t take any chances at this point. This weekend we will process the 9 free rangers and then we will thin out the “mega roo” coop by 16 birds. The next week we will process another 24 birds and then will be done with processing till our new hens start laying and we process our current layers. That would be in about late October/early November. Tomorrow I will plan out the line so we have a good set up for working. I will also gather fans for us to have near by since it will unfortunately be 90 degrees! It will be nice to have the meat birds in the freezer. They were frankly a lot of work this year, and we are trying to figure out a lower maintenance way of raising birds next year. I am going to look into the Freedom Ranger, (a heritage breed) for next year but I will need convincing. They grow out in 8 weeks instead of 12-14 weeks like ours, but I am concerned about that rapid growth. It will be Winter reading for me. It would be nice to be done raising them by July instead of August.

IMG_5061

Although this looks like we are drowning in tomatoes, we really are not. They have been extremely slow this year. This was gathered over a few days. Last year at this time, I had a counters worth! I am not complaining though, they are delicious! I will soon take out the large piece of Jowl Bacon from last Fall’s pigs and we will have BLT’s. We have saved it since Fall just for Summer Tomatoes! Since there are not enough to sauce at this point, but too many to eat, I have been making salads with many of them with lots of cucumbers and onions.

IMG_5096

I also cooked them with garlic and olive oil with Basil and this can be used on a toasted slice of bread, or over pasta or…

IMG_5103

…just out of the jar. They are delicious.

Now this is exciting!

IMG_5072

I had to thin a few of our carrots, and quite honestly I have never grown a carrot successfully, but this year my daughter did! Maybe she has broken the carrot curse. If these look like this just when thinning them early, I think in the Fall we will have beautiful big carrots!!! Yay!

IMG_5107

No it is not Apple season here yet, although I am really excited for the season. We have our new cider press to use this year, so that is going to be really fun to try. These apples were given to me the other day. Talk about windfall apples! I was given a 40 pound case for free! I have 7 shelves like these in the dehydrator and…

IMG_5112

…a crockpot full of Applesauce. I still have about 25 apples left and I will probably dry all those. I want to increase our dried fruits and veggies this year.

I’ve decided that it’s time to add some new incremental steps this year. I have definitely learned more and done more each year since we started this almost 3 years ago. It is time to take more steps. I am going to learn how to make Laundry Soap. I have seen many recipes, but I have a FB group who I will check in with and ask them all to post their favorite recipes. Other things I want to add include learning to do more fermenting. I’ve loved the Kimchi so far, but there are so many things that can be fermented, and it is so, so healthy to eat fermented foods. Yesterday I took a try at making fermented pickles and fermented beets as opposed to Vinegar pickles. I’m excited to see how they will turn out. I also want to try making Sauerkraut. Hold on to your hat, I might even try making Kombucha?! I never thought I would say that!

IMG_5110

Pickled Beets the old fashioned way. I hope they turn out good!

IMG_5100

These last two weeks have been very, very dry! This is the first rain we had in weeks. What you see is what there was, it didn’t even get the whole deck wet. It looks like next week we may finally get some rain, keeping fingers crossed!

It was a fantastic week. It was also great to have Hubby back home again.

Day 6 – My Solo Farm Week

So today was the last full day of my solo staycation on the farm. It’s been wonderful. I spent this last day…finishing cleaning the garage, (so that I can have them out to license the freezer) worked in the garden quite a bit and picked more beans, kale, collards, beet greens, some tomatoes (they have not hit the explosion yet, we are just getting a small bowl each day) and some of the mangel greens, that we had planted for the pigs, that turned out to be tasty. While this isn’t for everyone, I rendered the leaf lard from last Fall’s Pigs yesterday and today. I used the crock pot and it was pretty effortless.

IMG_5054

rendering 2

This is what it looked like when it cooled. I hear that this makes the best pie crust ever!

taters

I dug these pretty potatoes up today. I will roast some of them with Hubby’s welcome home dinner tomorrow night. There’s about 12 pounds of them, they are not for storing, we will use these up by Fall and that is when we will tap into our storage potatoes that our wonderful organic gardener neighbor will score for us from his farm or some of his friends farms. He gets great deals and then stores them for us all Winter in his walk in cooler.

IMG_5048

The cattle were oddly restless today. Our Bull was feeling lets say, rather amorous and the date he picked was not interested at all. He was relentless, I’ve never actually seen him that way! I was glad she wouldn’t “stand” for him, as we really don’t need to increase our herd size! Every time she rebuffed him, everyone would start shoving in their pecking order. It was interesting to watch. I climbed up on something higher to get this picture. They were all looking at me so I thought, why not?!

IMG_5046

I also spent time reading my hunter safety class. Boy oh boy is it detailed. I shall be very well informed when I am done!

The other thing I did was get everything mowed, because I knew Hubby would love to see that when he drove up. It feels good to be able to use the four wheeler and the mower without feeling like I won’t be able to get them started or that they will die and I won’t know what to do. I feel much more comfortable with them now.

On a whole other note, I saw this on Facebook and it screamed to me. Not sure about the s’mores since we eat them at campfires in the Summer, but I am totally on board with the hoodies and pumpkins, and lovely cool Fall temps!

fall

Getting very excited for this!

Day 5 – My Solo Farm Week

The humidity has been much lower lately and after so much of it, the sky looks amazing minus the haze of humidity in the air.

IMG_4954

IMG_4956

IMG_5047

I’ve done so much food processing this week and veggie and fruit eating that the chickens are getting pretty nice scraps these days. While it looks like a gave them giant pieces of Watermelon in this picture it really was just the rind, but I left them a layer of the red part for a treat!

I have thoroughly been enjoying my break from making dinners. The dinners I made for myself were so easy that the making, the eating and the clean up were generally less than an hour. Although I don’t mind making regular dinners when hubby is here, and I will add, I often really enjoy it, it sure was nice to take a break from it. Seems I start thinking about dinner at 4:30 and then by the time it is prepared, eaten and cleaned up from it is 6:30 or 7:00! This was a much needed break.

IMG_5018

This was an example…beet and mangel greens, with dilly beans and a buttered potato. Yum, and done. The potatoes were from the neighbor and the butter was purchased but the rest was ours:)

Tomorrow I have to face the project I have been putting off, and that is finishing cleaning all the darn chick dust off of everything on the other side of the garage. I got one side done and then procrastination kicked in, but since we have to get the freezer licensed and get the 2 of the cattle processed, which hinges on a clean enough garage to bring an inspector into, I must finish it today.

My staycation has been wonderful. Friday, Hubby comes home from his trip and things get back to normal, and this includes me getting back to my granola business. Except for here and there, I haven’t done much, it truly was a vacation, and where better to have one then here!

Day 4 – My solo farm week

I purchased a new fan. It was supposed to go together easily and require a screwdriver. I got it together but it took all of these things. I’m just not good at putting things together, for this reason IKEA is my worst nightmare. I couldn’t even fold the darn port-a-crib after my daughter and her family were visiting! Well I did get the fan put together finally, and it’s making a big difference, for $12 that is saying a lot! Oh and more home maintenance, I replaced the appliance bulb in the oven. Yep I’m a regular jack of all trades;-)

IMG_4993

I had to take break from vacation to figure out batch numbers and amount of bags I want filled for the next big bake at the kitchen. I am happy that I’ve been able to increase batch numbers each time I bake and that each time I am able to sell that extra amount more. I am introducing a new size soon, which is exciting (in my world). I am also working on a possible new idea for really granola, but it’s a secret yet!

The other day my daughter and her boyfriend came out to pick in the garden, and they kindly helped me with a few things while they were here. They helped motivate me to finally bite the bullet and trim my tomato jungle. They were so overgrown that it was hard to see the rows in the garden anymore, or even find the tomatoes. Some tomatoes were sacrificed in the process, and so my daughter put up 3 quarts of pickled green tomatoes! Yum! Oh and then they came in and helped me process veggies while we enjoyed Bloody Mary’s. Geez, can this guy make a Bloody Mary!! So good!

IMG_5037

I finally figured out my problem with canning Pickles. The problem was I was canning pickles. I’ve started making them as refrigerator pickles instead and they are super delicious and crunchy! This is what my back up fridge looks like right now. There would be more jars in the picture but the kimchi is in the kitchen fridge, because well, truth be told I eat it all the time. I think it’s supposed to be a condiment, but in my book it’s a staple at a meal. Love the stuff.

 

Day 3 – My solo farm week

Things are going swimmingly well. Moving the birds is no problem, I’ve been keeping up on the cattle water, (and counting the cattle, hoping for no calves) tending the garden, preserving the harvest, and occasionally doing some business, even if it is my week off, sometimes business calls. The weather has been amazingly cooperative.

IMG_5039

The farmer who rents our land and has an uncanny way of cutting hay the day before it rains, came up and cut the hay and it looks like 3 good drying days ahead. All in all, oh so happy with how things are going. Hope I didn’t curse anything by saying so, lol!

Today I got to the peaches I was given the other a few days ago.

IMG_5020

IMG_5022

Turned out to make 9 jars of Peach Jam. Sadly our Cherry tree didn’t have cherries this year or last. The year before that was an intensely cold Winter and the Cherry tree was a casualty. I have no idea if it can recover or not, it looks fine, but no fruit. So I guess Peach is the new Cherry around here.

IMG_4994

Dinner. (Hubby would not have liked this dinner.)

Day 2 – My Solo Farm Week

Today I spent a good amount of time picking in the garden and got to a lot of processing of veggies. I froze flat beans, and regular beans, about 18 bags total. The beans have been prolific and beautiful! I froze them in 2 person servings. That works well for us. I’ve definitely improved my blanching techniques. I don’t blanch as long as I used to and then once the veggies come out of the ice water bath (post blanching), I put them all on thick terry towel which absorbs the water nicely so they don’t all freeze in an iceberg! It’s been working great.

IMG_5003

IMG_5004

So far, I have gotten a good start on my freezing. I have broccoli, beans, blueberries, strawberries, rhubarb, kale, collards, chard, and beet greens already put away. I haven’t canned much other then rhubarb-strawberry jam I made early in the season with last year’s frozen fruit, and Dilly Beans this year.

I want to can things this year that make easy side dishes with a quick meal, such as; Three Bean Salad, Corn Relish, Pickled Beets, Sauerkraut (never made this before) and then other things such as Salsa, BBQ Sauce and Ketchup.

Tomorrow I will be making Peach Jam. My MIL gifted me a good amount of peaches and since I generally get a case of peaches from up north in the state later in the season for cutting into pieces and freezing for winter fruit, I thought I would Jam these.

Other things that happened today…

IMG_5007

Drying Dill.

IMG_5006

Refrigerator Dills, with farmer’s market Cukes. Next year they will be my cukes, but always nice to support a local farmer.

IMG_5011

Watermelon Candy!

Finally it was almost dark, and time to move the coops, and uh oh, the big coop just wouldn’t pull. I knew hubby just wouldn’t give up, so I kept backing up the four wheeler and then pulling forward at a slightly different angle. After about the 4th time, it worked! I was able to pull it forward, close up the rest of the birds in the other three coops and do my victory lap:)

7 days, 7 posts; my solo farm week – day 1

Hubby is off on his “mancation” with is two brothers, and I am holding the fort down for a week. We aren’t apart much and we both enjoy our vacations, he in his kayak and mine being more of a “staycation”. I spent the week getting lots of granola sold, and making deliveries, figuring out inventory and placing orders for the next big baking session over at the kitchen. My goal was to leave myself with a light work week and let it be more of a farm week. It’s perfect timing to have a farm week too, because I have a loads of beans, beets, greens, cabbage, etc ready and tomatoes are getting ready to explode, but are still probably a week away. They are quite late this year.

IMG_4925

I felt lucky to find this many the other day. I’ve been loving all the veggies from the garden…

IMG_4965

…not only because they are delicious but because they are beautiful too! Examples below…

IMG_4854

IMG_4967

IMG_4970

I can’t help but insert photos such as these, because they amaze me. My kids tease me, all the time, because when we fly somewhere far away, I predictably go to bed saying, I can’t believe we were at home this morning! I am that way with seeds too. I put various tiny seeds in the ground and each one knows what to become and then proceeds to produce pounds and pounds and pounds of food, and it amazes me, not to mention the beauty, check out those beets! This is just an iphone photo, imagine if I was using my real camera! Which by the way, I am breaking out this week to have a bit of fun! It’s on my staycation list!

Other things on my list for this week include; getting the fall garden in, canning, freezing and eating lots of veggies, knitting, working on my hunter safety class, working on a secret new really granola product, getting the garage and freezer ready for licensing, so we can process our first beef, shooting some targets with my pellet gun, and looking through my new Foxfire books, that I was so lucky to be gifted and maybe even a bit of fishing at a local stream. This is a just a partial list :-)

This past week, I have been trying to keep up with the beans. I made Dilly beans and canned them. Tomorrow I will be freezing about 7 pounds of beans, that are in the fridge and picking more beans when I am done. I think I will do another batch of Dilly beans with the beans I pick tomorrow. This is the first year I have grown enough beans for us for the year. In the past I have bartered for a quantity or purchased from a local farmer. It feels good to have calculated properly this year.

IMG_4923

IMG_4932

I may have calculated well on greens too. I’ve got a lot I’ve put in the freezer already this year. The back tray is Kale, and the front tray has chard, beet greens and Collards. This all got blanched and frozen.

IMG_4968

IMG_4969

These are Zucchini ready to go into the dehydrator. They will hydrate easily and can be added to soups and other dishes.

IMG_4915

A new batch of kimchi. I can’t seem to get enough of it. This batch turned a nice pink color from the purple cabbage. So delicious!

IMG_4952

Collecting eggs at night is not really the norm, but it was when I got to them that day.

Tonight was night one of the job I was trained in on, and that is moving the coops at night. We have two that need moving. I use the four wheeler to pull them. One is quite large and the other is a bit more manageable, but I got them both done successfully! Since, I don’t really like doing stuff in the dark, I went up there early tonight and just waited for the birds to go in, this way I have the most light possible to get this done. These birds are less then 2 weeks from the freezer and they are really growing nicely. I think we may have 4 pound birds instead of 3 pound birds this year. I was given some advice to keep them on starter feed, and not switch to grower, this gives them more calories and that helps with growth a bit but not like the fast raising birds that take 8 weeks to table. That isn’t what we are doing here.

This was last night’s view after I moved the coops. Being up in the field each night at about 9pm is also perfect timing for light shows such as this!

IMG_4947

Day 1 went well.