Preserving Time


preserves 010.JPG

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


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:

Free range aug 5 2016 023
Little escape artists
Free range aug 5 2016 086
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…

Free range aug 5 2016 085

Keeping watch, good Jimmy.

Free range aug 5 2016 076
The blonds, the stick together with Goldie and Buff checking them out.
Free range aug 5 2016 080
Perfect day for a stroll apparently.
Free range aug 5 2016 079
Friends, also my best 2 cuddles.
Free range aug 5 2016 078
Phantom(will be one of 2 breeders kept) hanging with his 2 beauties
Free range aug 5 2016 084
Watcha’ doin’?
Free range aug 5 2016 082
Yes, very curious Miss Bella
Free range aug 5 2016 074
Friends share
Free range aug 5 2016 087
Goldie and Phantom tend to hang together
Free range aug 5 2016 059
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:

The Greenhouse interior
The barn space(AKA garage back deck)
Greenhouse exterior
Under the Maple(good branch for sitting)
Open green space
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.


For the love of Linden

We visited a historic house, the Yeo House here on PEI. I had the freedom to wander the grounds while W was marrying a young couple in this idyllic setting.

Facebook page photo

The most magnificent smell was wafting in the July air, sweet and gentle. As it turned out it was from two tremendously large Linden trees in the front and side yards of the house. Under one tree were rope swings and benches to leisurely rest and breathe deeply, soothing away any possible troubles or thoughts of the world at large, so I did just that. I was in love.

It was this: Linden flowers

Tilia_maximowicziana_1.jpgFrom this new found love affair with the Linden we called up our local nursery, John’s Greenhouses  and inquired if they had any. There were three available so in to town we went to pick up our new additions, one Glenleven Linden and 2 American Linden.

One for the back yard and two for the front…more holes to dig but they are worth it. Apparently bees love the blossoms and the honey made from them is considered some of the best in the world. How can you say no to that?

We are led by our senses, not necessarily our sense.


Who eats what?

Who gets to eat what is a constant struggle . We want to eat the strawberries but so does something else, or many something elses. We are not certain what, so we started the battle blind.

Last year we managed to steal 6 cups of berries from the 125 strawberry plants we planted. The rest were eaten off by the unknown gardening wildlife. So this year we invested in simple row cover fabric to protect, or so we thought, our food for ourselves. It is either the crows or the chipmunks but they are tearing through the cover and proudly showing their conquest by leaving half eaten evidence to taunt us. I tie up the holes as I find them but they do more damage every day. I no longer understand how a strawberry grower ends up with any return on the investment.

I caved and went to a u-pick to ensure our berry needs were met for the year and may have to concede defeat to the unknown challenger(s). A three year learning curve is the limit of my patience apparently. Oh well, we like raspberries and blueberries too. Maybe the strawberries become the sacrifice crop so we can have other things. I am sure the animals can’t possibly eat everything we grow, right?

So far we have been able to keep our chicken, honey, herbs, rhubarb, spinach and radish(nothing would eat radish, not even us…).

Enjoying what we have and  letting the rest go.