Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer Goodness

     Well, summer is in full swing and every where I look there seem to be projects and activities to do.  I love it after the shut in feeling I always feel during winter.  I think I over load myself though.  I have canning on the brain and have a list longer than my arm of recipes I want to try for canning.  I think I may need to write them down and prioritize that way I get done what I absolutely have to do and then what I want to do if I have time.

     I did get asparagus done about a month or so ago when they were fresh in season at the farmers market.  I put up about 20 pounds!  I'm so excited and proud of myself.  I got about 17 jars total of pints and quarts.  Four of those being a pickled asparagus recipe I wanted to try.  Two of the jars didn't seal so we had some yummy asparagus soup from the fails.

     I also got about 6 quart jars of yummy strawberry jam done this year.  Yay!  I love strawberries - but not as much as hubby.  I should hide some.  hehe  I did get blueberries picked but I freeze those because they kids love, absolutely LOVE to eat frozen blueberries and I like to have them through the winter for pancakes and muffins.

     I also got some yummy looking HUGE beets from our local Saturday Market and got those canned up.  I don't go through a lot of those through the year as I only use them for borsh.  So 10 jars lasts me all year.

     Our hens started laying eggs last week just before we left for our yearly week vacation with family at the beach.  We are now getting 2 or 3 eggs a day.  We've gotten light brown, dark brown and light blue; the last being from our Americana I imagine.

  We found a dirty white egg in the chicken yard today and wonder who it's from.  We're waiting for the ducks to lay and expected it to be obvious when they do but now I wonder if this new egg belongs to them.   I hear ducks aren't very picky about where they lay, even laying in the water as they swim.  I wish the chickens (and ducks) would label their prizes to let us know who laid what. Lol - wouldn't that be a sight.

     Chicken eggs vs. a duck egg above (via the net).  However, our 'dirty white' egg didn't have a different size from the other's we've been finding.

     On that note our other 10 chicks are feathering out and starting to look like ruffled teenagers....act like it too.  hehe  I 'think' I can tell who will be the roosters and who's going to be hens by the size of their combs - but since I'm new to this we'll just have to see.  A couple of them are going to go to a new home in a couple weeks with a friend of mine.  She has a coop and yard with just 3 chickens and we obviously have more than we really need (thank you kindergarten teacher - lol).  We'll keep one good rooster, any hens that she doesn't take.  Any other Joe's are headed to the upright freezer along with our growing rabbits.  BOY has that been interesting.  A definitely learning experience.  Anyone know rabbits can chew through metal mesh....ya, I didn't.  And right after we went on vacation.  LUCKILY for me my hubby is awesome and had built a house around the hutch's to keep the coyotes away so the offending rabbits didn't get away.  And luckily we had a good friend watching the animals while we were gone and he fixed the hole...temporarily.  Lesson #1 for me - don't keep mama and 9 growing babies in a metal mess bottom hutch - it's not holding well.  We'll have to figure out something to keep the next batch in.

     I harvested my first potato tower today.  One of my sweet girls helped me pull the potatoes out of the dirt.

     Found lots of worms - great; and slugs  - not so great (and who immediately got fed to some very happy ducks) and even a group of garder snakes... what the heck?  So here's my first time lesson on this.  #1 - don't mix types of potatoes.  For some reason my reds and blues went bad.  The only think I harvested was white.  #2 - I harvested too soon.  I basically got the same amount of poundage from the many potatoes I harvested which all look like 'new' potatoes, so their small.  Not worth my time and effort.  So the second tower stays for a while longer.  I'm going to start another tower (or two) again as soon as I get some more seed potatoes.
     The rest of my garden seems to be doing well.  The 8 tomato plants our friends brought us are BOOMING!

     Huge huh!  Tomatoes are there, but just green.  Beyond this bed (which I over planted with tooooo many plants - poor things) is another bed with 6 smaller tomato plants that I started from seed.   I'm so proud of myself.  These guys are gonna be heirlooms.  Can't wait.

     Here's my sweet girl showing you my half empty bed.  Darn peppers.  Lol  There are three mini plants there you can probably see one of them; those are my bell peppers.  So I took the rest of the open space there and planted carrots.  I have two other beds.  One with beans that won't grow higher than 6" and aren't bearing anything (after planting and replanting twice).  This bed seems like it was totally wasted.  The other bed I did peas and they turned out pretty good except I should have used vertical string for them to climb.  I used some old wood set at an angle in an upside down V.  For some reason they won't grown at an angle.  I'm getting lots of yummy peas from the plants though.  I love that my kids will go out there and eat right off the plant.

     So here's our backyard with raised beds, chicken coop and run (yes I know that the run is crooked) and rabbit house behind that.  I have a hope for more beds for next year and each thing I learn from and I'll do better next year.  Wish I could figure out how to deal with these evil moles tho.....