Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sand Plum Jelly

Nine jars of plum jelly to go on the shelves. All we had to do was pick them up off the ground. Too bad we didn't get to them sooner, could have had a lot more. This was from about twenty small plums about the size of a quarter. And it is yummy!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Garden Update-2

The potato patch is doing nicely.  Old wives tale says that if the tops are doing well, then the roots are not.  This photo is from a couple of weeks ago and the tops are beginning to lay over and die.  An indication that the potatoes are ready.  We dug a bit in row number four and were finding only about one large potato and one small potato per plant.  Row number three had a few extra, but if we get a potato per plant, I suppose that will be a lot of potatoes from our four rows.  There are around six rows showing in the above photo, two of which belong to my brother.

The potatoes we dug were very large, some were bigger than my fist and some were small.  We plan on making a cellar type storage bin by digging a hole and placing a garbage can in it and layering the potatoes with hay.  I hope it works well.  The small ones, we will probably just can. 
Hope you enjoy the photos.  I will update more later.  I can't wait to share the salsa/tomato photos with you.  I am afraid we are eating the salsa as soon as it comes out of the canners.  Tell you more later.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Garden Update-Beans

We have been working really hard trying to get a good harvest and I am fairly pleased.  It has been a lot of hard work, but it is paying off.  Here are some photos.

This is a view of the Indian Corn, onions, beans, tomatoes and cabbage.  We grew eleven varieties of beans:  White Half Runner, Pink Half Runner, Christmas Lima, Gold Rush Yellow Wax, Yard Long, Missouri Wonder, Scarlet Runners, one I can't remember the name, Greasy Beans, Tenderettes, and Roma II, two varieties of corn, a couple different tomatoes.  My favorite bean is still the white Half-Runner, but we wanted to experiment and several people had shared their beans with me. 

The first planting is finished, with the exception of the Limas, the Missouri Wonders and the bean I don't recall the name of.   We planted a second crop about a week ago and with the rains, they are already well on their way.  The second planting is another round of White Half Runners, Greasy Beans, Tenderettes and Roma II.

I decided with all the work of white half runners, I will grow me some to eat and can, but not a lot, because my family doesn't like beans too well.  We will plant a string less, bush variety to cut down on the work.  It was an all day job to pick, string, break and then can the beans. 

Also, we liked Gold Rush Yellow Wax beans.  They had a taste that was as good as the White Half Runner, and we got a bushel out of a five foot row.  They are string less and pretty in the jars.  Here is a photo of some of green beans in the jars with a jar of the Gold Rush in front.  Aren't they pretty?
These were the oddest bean in the garden.  I was given a small bag of seeds and it was very prolific.  I got a bushel and a half of these beans, but because I knew nothing about them, they had mostly dried up before I realized it.  (I was waiting for them to get  a yard long.  LOL)  They seemed to be a bush bean with some runners.  The beans grew on top of the plant like spiders.  The pods were long and dark.  Someone told me these were yard longs, but photos of yard longs online were actually about a yard long.  These only got to be about 8 inches long.  The blossoms came out one day and were a beautiful blue and wilted after that.  The plant smelled very sweet and it was constantly buzzing with flies, bugs and moths.  I don't know what they are, and they didn't really appeal to me either.  I may not know what I missed.  This was the most unusual bean in my garden.

The most beautiful blooms in the garden was on the Scarlet Runner Bean.  It's beautiful red blossoms attracted a lot of attention.  I probably should say too much attention, as I didn't get to eat the first bean.  I don't know if someone picked them, they didn't make (although I found five hidden, hanging at the bottom) or animals got them.  Any way it went-I didn't get to try them.  Probably just as well, the beans that did make had fuzzy pods and didn't appeal to me either.

We are really enjoying the fruits of our labors and I will update about the other good things from the garden tomorrow.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Our Very First Peas from the Garden

My husband picked peas from the garden today.  Our very first ones ever.  He picked two rows and we still have about a row and a half.  There was 13 pounds of peas.  This is what was left over after he cooked us a big, delicious pot of them.

Since we have so many left over and we still have more to pick, we decided to put them up, but we don't know how.  Does anyone have any advice?  I don't want to waste the shell as it is thick and delicious, but the Cooperative Extension Service for our state recommends freezing if you want to keep the shell.  If you want to can, you need to shell them out.  Anyone have any experience with this?

We also had a few sprigs of broccoli in the Community Garden, probably less than a half of a pound.  We will be trying them out with some cheese soon.  Sounds yummy.  I can't wait until some beans come in and we can have tomatoes, cucumbers, new potatoes...my mouth is watering.  I can hardly wait until the garden starts coming in fully.

Happy Memorial Weekend everyone...be safe and have fun.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Can Someone Help Me Identify These Plants???

Last fall, I planted some things in a raised bed that basically went to seed.  I also traded some seeds with different people and one thing I got was Chinese Cabbage.  I planted a few seedlings and then transplanted them in the raised bed.  I checked the raised bed and found these little guys that were about the size of a golf ball.  Thinking it was the Chinese cabbage, I transplanted them to the garden and they shot up.  The largest is the size of a basket ball.  There are four of them and a large one (pictured above) and a small one (about the size of a cantaloupe) have gone to seed.  (See the yellow blooms.) 

So, I am confused as to what these are?  If it is the Chinese Cabbage, they are biennial and I shouldn't be seeing seeds or flowers this year???  I am new at gardening.  Can someone help me identify these and give me advice on growing and using them. 

Thanks so much.

New Additions to the Farm & Garden Update

I wanted to introduce you to the newest additions to our little farm.  My personal favorite is our new rooster, Dumplins.  I have been told not to name anything you plan on eating, so I decided to name him what he will be...chicken and dumplins.  Sorry to any horrified readers, but this is not a "hobby" farm, it will be a working one.
Isn't he beautiful though.  He was dropped of at my husband's brother's house.  He had no use for him, so he gave him to us.  He has his own cage all by himself, well had his cage all by himself.  I discovered one of the Mr. Roos in the community cage ailing.  He was being trampled by the others, so I put him in a smaller cage and placed it in with Dumplins.  

So now Mr. Roo and Dumplins are sharing a cage...sort of.  Dumplins was most disturbed when I first put Mr. Roo in, but Mr. Roo was not disturbed at all.  He was intent on eating, which I think is a good sign.  I hope he pulls through it.  I think the general cage is overcrowded and we are working on a permanent house and a temporary lot.  The chicks just grew so fast. 

This is the Black Astralorpe in the community pen, with a Rhode Island Red or a Buff Orphington in the back.  I can't tell the difference.  My sick little Mr. Roo is in the front of the picture laying down. 
This is the Buff Orphingtons or Rhode Island Reds.  We have 6 Rhode Island Reds and 3 Buff Orphingtons.
This is Carrots. She is a female and will be one of the mothers we will breed. She will not be dinner. We will be getting another doe soon, when we have the chicken house done. The other doe is already named. I will call her Peas. So we will have Peas and Carrots. Ok, I know I am silly, but I am really enjoying my little urban farm.

This is my baby, Daize. Doesn't she look so sweet. She constantly hangs by my side when I am working in the yard, except when I am in the garden. She knows better than to follow me in the garden. Although, I have found evidence of her being there when I am not around.

This is Sweet Pea, running past the push mower. This was the best photo I could get of her as she was running around and wouldn't stop long enough for me to snap a photo. Sweet Pea is an older dog, and very aggressive to other animals and strangers. I think it is fear and she is jealous, but she is very sweet and loving with the family.

So, this is most of the family.  I took some photos of the garden.  I will upload them tomorrow.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Misadventures of Mr. Roo

Mr. Roo is what I fondly call the three White Leghorn Roosters we have. I can't tell them apart, so they are simply Mr. Roo.  Anyway, we have a beautiful white large breed dog, Daize, that we have been told is a bulldog. She is going on two years old. I have had her since she was a pup.

So, in an attempt to keep my dog and my chickens, we had been letting the roosters roam free and keeping watch.  After an hour, we became complacent and wasn't watching diligently.  I petted Daize and praised her for not attacking Mr. Roo.  I turned and went back to my weeding.  Seconds latter, I heard Mr. Roo squawking and screaming from under the back deck and Daize was no where to be seen.

While yelling at Daize to stop, I ran to the deck and hesitantly peeked under.  There was Daize with what appeared to be Mr. Roo under her paws.  The squawking had ceased, so I feared the worst.  Mr. Roo had gone to the big chicken coop in the sky and he wasn't even big enough to put in the cook pot yet.
My husband looked under the deck and my worst fears were unfounded.  Mr. Roo had mysteriously disappeared without a trace and no noise as to his whereabouts.  Was he dead?   Had Daize packed him off somewhere?   There was no blood on Daize's mouth.

Daize, having been thoroughly scolded, had tucked her tail and ran off to hide and would not come back.  I attempted several times to get her to come to her kennel, but she refused.  I was standing on the deck pointing at the kennel, trying to get Daize to obey when she stopped and looked at the corner of the house in the grass and then ran off again.  I realized Mr. Roo must be there in the tall grass at the corner of the house.  Sure enough, there he was, or at least his body was there.  I could see no head, but I couldn't see any blood either.  He wasn't moving, just deadly still.  I couldn't bear to check, so  I called my husband over and turned my back.  I just knew Mr. Roo was headless. 

However, to our amazement, Mr. Roo was unharmed, just hiding in the tall grass being perfectly still and silent.  I was so relieved.  We will continue to try to acclimate the animals to one another.  Because if one of them has to go, unfortunately, it will be my baby Daize.  That thought breaks my heart.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Welcome to The Real Farm Town

Hello everyone. With spring out the door and summer on the way, things are beginning to look more like a mini farm around here. But before we go into that, let me tell you a little about my journey to this point.

Both my husband and I used to be employed. I have held a job almost continuously since my teens (for about 25 years now). Until the bottom fell out of the economy and I haven't worked in almost a year. My husband is facing the same problem, he having been out of work a year too. We decided that while we hunted for work, and since the economy looked so bad, that we would prepare ourselves for the worst and hope for the best.

We made plans to build a more self-sufficient life for ourselves and our children. So on a limited income and from blessings from the Lord and wonderful friends, we have slowly turned our 3/4 acre back yard into a mini barnyard.
This post will be about the first project we got involved in - Grow Appalachia. It is a new charity sponsored by Paul Mitchell co-owner and CEO, John Paul DeJoria. Read about it here: http://www.paulmitchell.com/whatsnew/pages/growappalachia.aspx.

It is a garden project, and each family has their own plot to take care of. We are provided with seeds, plants, and those things we need to take care of our garden. All we have to do is care for it and we will be blessed with the harvest.

According to the website, "Some of most pressing regional needs to be addressed by Grow Appalachia are:

Basic diet-related health concerns – obesity, diabetes, heart disease.
Limited availability of high-quality fresh produce.
Generational loss of knowledge of gardening, cooking, and food preservation skills.
Widespread economic dependency and lack of autonomy."

My husband and I both had sedentary jobs. We sat all day and worked. So, needless to say, we are obese with diabetes, high blood pressure and heart related issues. We have been working in our garden for a couple of months now and if it doesn't kill us (literally), it will be the best thing ever. We are getting regular, hard exercise by planting, plowing, hoeing, watering and caring for our plants. My husband has already lost some weight (that's a man for you) as we can tell it in his stomach, even though there's no difference on the scale. Muscle replacing fat, I am sure.

My diabetes is more advanced than my husbands, so in many ways I am a lot weaker. The high blood pressure medication I take masks the signs of low blood glucose, but it is the only thing that helps my tachycardia, so I continue to take it. However, I nearly passed out hilling the potatoes yesterday and we had to run get me something to eat to get my blood glucose levels stabilized. I thought I was going to have to go to the ER, but it finally straightened out. Today, I took ten units less insulin to compensate for being more active! This is great! Just working in the garden is beginning to affect the amount of insulin I need to use. Less insulin will mean less weight my body hangs on to, because being insulin dependent causes my body to hold on to fat more. (Like I really need that!)

So thank you John Paul DeJoria for your Grow Appalachia project. I hope you know what a difference you are already making in my life. Buy Paul Mitchell products and support Grow Appalachia.

More later. I can't wait to tell you about the chickens.  Happy Farming.