Kid Testimonials

We have put together, on our Facebook page, a list of preserves for sale locally. Some of the best testimonials are coming from the kids of Moms who have bought our jams and jellies.

 

The Blueberry Jam got, ” It’s like the jam came down from the Heavens !!”. Apparently the hands were thrown in the air for dramatic affect as well. It gave us a good laugh to say the least.

We have another trying to figure out how to earn $10.00 so he can buy 3 bottles of Apple Jelly for himself and not have to share with his siblings. One brother placed dibs on the last spoon of jam for breakfast then didn’t end  up eating it, so new dibs have been placed and will not be passed on by the other. Welcome to Jelly Wars. We figure we can find enough work for him (and his brother) in the gardens to earn $10.00 in short order. Working for what you want is a good lesson we are pleased to inspire and assist in.

I took some samples of our seasonings into work were my co-workers are willing guinea pigs…umm, I mean taste testers. One of my co-workers, having chicken thawing at home, tried our Italian Bread Crumb seasoning for which her son gave an enthusiastic 2 thumbs up for the new flavor.

The feed back is fun to hear. It gives me joy to feed people. When the kids love it I know we are doing it right.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s funny in an,”Oops, I could do better.”, way too. A chicken pot pie went out and the kid teased that I was trying to kill him with a twig in the pie…probably a sprig of rosemary not ground enough…oops. No one was injured in the incident. So now I over ground the herbs and this next 6 pies are green tinted with herb dust (tastes great, just green)…I am a woman of extremes apparently, but I do listen and try to learn from all the feed back I get.

Thank you.

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Mexican Little Person Tomato Compote

I couldn’t make up the name, truly it is from a time when politically incorrect was the norm.

We attended a seed exchange in the spring and picked up these “Mexican Midget Tomato” seeds. Figuring they were just a cherry tomato of sorts, we dedicated a small bed to their experimental growth. To say they are small is the definition of an understatement.

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The plants grew easily 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide with no fruit showing at all…until you look inside and underneath the foliage. The power house of micro tomato growth was insane.

We attempted to eat a few but picking them was more of a chore than they were worth. So we pulled up the plants and brown paper bagged the under ripe tomatoes, figuring we would do “something” with them if they ripened. Well they did and we did.

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It’s a roasting pan filled with three lunch bags of itty-bitty little tomatoes. The only thing I can think of to do with them is to toss them with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, fresh basil and roast them down into a compote. We enjoy a nice compote as a pizza base or over pasta for a simple quick meal (read girl food lunches ). Hot water bath it for 15 minutes in half pint jars and it will be good to go, and not wasted. We grew it and wasting that hurts my heart.

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We try to add a couple of experimental items to the garden every year. This year was eggplant, mustard seed and Mexican Midget tomatoes. The seed and micro tomatoes are not hitting the ground next year as they are more work to harvest they are worth but I love the eggplant. In the past we have thrown in peanuts(turned into bird/squirrel feed) and wheat(again,too hard to harvest when we have an organic grain producer down the road).

As with everything in life; if you never try you will never know…and knowing is what keeps us going.

Preserving Time

 

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Once again, it’s the time of year that we work so hard for; Preserving.

A deep seated love of mason jars is evident.

Before you read further, please accept my apology for this long post/list.

This week has been busy and fun as we worked together to put down our bounty for the coming winter and a little bit for a few sales.

We managed:

  • 48 bottles salsa(mild,medium and hot)
  • 18 bottles mustard pickles
  • 13 bottles pickled beets
  • 18 bottles honey apple jelly
  • 18 bottles apple jelly (we are getting our worth out of the jelly tree this year)
  • 11 bottles cardamom plum jam
  • 12 bottles plum butter(needs a little rework as the plums were a touch tart, next week)
  • 26  bottles kernel corn pressure canned
  • 31 bottles rendered pork lard

Earlier was:

  • 8 bottles sage honey
  • 11  bottles peas (the snow peas we ate as the ripened…kept seed for next year)
  • 12 bottles dilly beans
  • 12 bottles yellow and green bean mix
  • 12 bottles spiced dilly beans
  • 12 bottles peaches in honey syrup
  • 18 bottles apple sage butter
  • 67 bottles honey
  • 75 meat chickens, first batch done
  • 18 cobs corn blanched and vacuum sealed for freezing
  • 265 bulbs garlic (seed set aside for next month’s planting)

That doesn’t cover the packing of the freezer with:

  • 96 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 110 pound ripe tomatoes
  • 30 pounds blueberries
  • 10 pounds raspberries
  • 20 pounds strawberries

The herbs have been harvested all summer and frozen or dried (too numerous to mention, truly we are out of control on this one), peppers are coming in now (drying Paprika as we speak, Jalapeno is in the salsa and the cayenne are still waiting for red, Anaheim never really took off, try again next year). The experimental eggplant has come in and a lovely Moussaka has been made(deemed girl food, yay me!).

Still to come:

  • second meat chicken batch(60 this weekend)
  • parsnip, after frost (peat moss in the cold room)
  •  potatoes, as soon as we get 2 dry days in a row
  • sweet potatoes, after frost
  • onions (stored in wire racks in the basement…they like open air but not too cool)
  • squash of all variety(zucchini,pumpkin,spaghetti,butternut,cucumber)
  • turnip, after first frost to sweeten (peat moss in the cold room)
  • beets for winter storage (peat moss in the cold room)
  • carrots (peat moss in the cold room)
  • seeds for everything for next year, drying on the vines
  • lobo apples soon, plus a trip to Arlington Orchards for our 40+ pounds of Cortland for the cold room(they keep 4 months!!). Our 2 trees are new and will produce in the next couple of years.
  • baking beans, drying on the vine

There are still many jams to do; strawberry, blueberry, rhubarb marmalade, blackberry.

The house smells great, we’re tired and happy.

We practice shared tasks and good communication/note leaving to have the other person finish something we didn’t when we ultimately run out of time and have to go to work. Working opposite shifts is a drag but in another 4 weeks I switch to day shift with him and life gets sweeter.

This isn’t work, this is life.

Bee Sting Remedy

 

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Honey comb variations from the hives…and a spoon, the best first sampling of the harvest.

It’s honey harvest time. After taking in 15 frames from 2 hives and being ever so proud of not getting stung, I figured that was enough for one day.

Pride is a dangerous and vindictive thing.

We filled two empty hive boxes sitting on the kitchen table, covered them with a towel for the night, figuring we would get to the straining in the morning. The cuttings and scrapings went into a couple of large bowls that we covered in plastic to contain any remaining bees that got swamped in the honey.

It is also garlic harvest time so that occupied the rest of our day and evening, then off to bed we went.

With the morning came the realization that I had not in fact gotten all of the bees off of the frames. First it was one crawling on the table, OK take her outside…then is was one on the floor, and a couple on the table cloth…time to look inside the boxes. They are persistent little things when it comes to their honey stores.

The boxes and bowls quickly went to the deck where we patiently flicked honey covered bees onto plates to have a chance at survival. I was completely unaware that a few lovelies had fallen to the deck floor and were quietly walking around, drying off and getting adventurous.

I have no idea why I am so slow to learn that open legged  pants have no place around bee work. One wayward bee ended up inside my pants.(Ending up pantless is becoming a regular bee experience for me; faster than small talk and a drink, let me tell you!)Running inside and discarding my pants in the kitchen and quickly making my way to the bathroom to end my pain with this: HOT COMPRESS. It’s like magic (or science…meh, whatever).

After our first trip to the late night ER, as we unfortunately came to realize W is allergic to bee stings, the doctor asked what we had done already. We had ensured the stingers were removed, put an ice pack on the swelling and W had taken an over the counter allergy medicine. Our instinct to treat swelling with cold was incorrect in this scenario. The bee venom deteriorates in the heat of a simple hot wet cloth. We are now the proud owners of double strength prescription Clariton, an Epi-pen and this simple knowledge.

A hot compress is the easiest method for those not allergic(me) to eliminate the pain. The swelling still happens but is much less and the pain is instantaneously gone.This really is all I care about as I am,beyond a doubt, a wimp about pain.

So next time a misguided bee goes all “Defender of the Realm” on you, just scrape out the stinger and get a hot compress on it as soon as possible.

It’s the price of honey, wide leg pants and short term memory issues (tuck pants into boots, got it… maybe).

Accidental Free Range

So, we bought a big screen tent to “blow the stink off” the chickens while we are in the yard. Occasionally it is required to slip indoors for a moment. Moments vary in length and chickens are naturally curious little things. Today we had accidental free range chickens. I came outside with my handy dandy paint brush all ready to set to task on the picket fence and was greeted by some very happy chickens wondering the back yard. I apparently missed securing one lower edge of the tent (we have re bar laying on the edges to prevent exactly this type of thing).

They stuck together, the roosters keeping everyone together and if someone got left behind it was a flapping run to rejoin the flock.

As with all things I try to remain calm and simply enjoy the moment; nothing bad really happened and they were so incredibly content pecking their way around new territory. After grabbing the camera and a couple of ripe tomatoes off the vine to lure them back into the tent, I snapped some happy chicken photos:

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Little escape artists
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Jimmy the Eyebrow (leader of the blond mob) keeping a very close eye on me. He is mean but a good protector. It’s the gorgeous wattles…

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Keeping watch, good Jimmy.

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The blonds, the stick together with Goldie and Buff checking them out.
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Perfect day for a stroll apparently.
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Friends, also my best 2 cuddles.
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Phantom(will be one of 2 breeders kept) hanging with his 2 beauties
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Watcha’ doin’?
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Yes, very curious Miss Bella
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Friends share
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Goldie and Phantom tend to hang together
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Tomatoes tossed into the tent gets everyone back safe and sound.

Now it is back to painting, if everyone will be satisfied in the tent. I hear Jimmy crowing up a storm so back outside it is. He keeps me in line too…until the stew pot calls his name.

First Photo Shoot

It’s been a week of clean up lists to ensure we had a few well presented areas in our construction site of a back yard, but we did it. Our first photo shoot took place this morning with my sister and her kids(good to try it out on family first). Thank you to Jacinta Bernard Photography for coming out for our first experience as a location.

By the end of it we were all melting in the heat but fun was had by all and ice cream treats.

Here is a look at what we had ready:

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The Greenhouse interior
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The barn space(AKA garage back deck)
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Greenhouse exterior
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Under the Maple(good branch for sitting)
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Open green space
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Rope swing under the Apple tree

Looking forward to seeing some of Jacinta’s finished photos, hopefully on her facebook page in the next few weeks.

My sister brought her new bunny babies and we of course had my favorite chicken girls (and one baby boy we shall call Crock-Pot). My sister lovingly called the shots with her, her daughter and the chickens “The Hen Shot”, we are a funny people.

Seeing the good in everything just takes focus.

Have a good one.