Friday, August 31, 2012

On Travelling

I'm visiting 'home' in a few weeks, primarily to attend & be in the wedding of a close friend from high school & university. I'll have a couple days with my parents & sister, and hopefully will get to meet my cousin's baby - the only offspring of that generation on my side of the family other than Little M. It will be a relatively short trip, I'll only be gone for 10 days, including 2-3 days of traveling to get there and back.

I honestly have been dragging my feet about the whole trip. And in fact I had been blocking it from my mind to such great extent that it was only a few days ago that I realized with a fair amount of shock that I was leaving in only 2 weeks. Gulp.

You see, fall is my busy time. Both at home and at work. Whether it be harvesting garden produce, hunting for grouse, quail, duck, or deer, attending to routine property pre-winter maintenance, or constructing around irrigation season and fish windows at work, fall is when lots of mostly fun things all pile up and make life rather crazy. Its a good sort of crazy, but it's crazy nonetheless. Add to that a few things I've been prioritizing to try and get them done this fall (2 manuscripts and a perhaps overly ambitious rowing goal... ), and things feel a bit hectic around here even before I add in 10 days away...

Before I leave I'm trying to focus on my goals for the year, focus on what is important to get done before I leave, and make weekly (and daily) task lists from my monthly and yearly lists so that I first identify and then attempt to accomplish the most important tasks, but still, whew! Sometimes my life is fairly balanced and organized, but sometimes I end up doing a lot of flying by the seat of my pants to get myself & my little family through a season of perhaps over-committed-ness. The good thing is that at least I know my time away will be filled with friends & family and overall fun-ness, and upon coming back I won't have any big time-commitments looming other than our normal fall busyness!

The other good thing is that the past couple of years we always know our next vacation when we are planning the current one, so right now, not having a vacation plan for next year other than having decided that we may just not go on one due to our having set other priorities for our money and our time, is a bit relaxing to be honest! Oh to just be at home consistently, not juggling volunteers for chicken egg collection and garden watering!

Little M and I were thinking of going to my MIL's place on the lake over the long weekend, but we've decided that right before my trip, spending more time being low-key at home is best, especially since Little M isn't coming with me on this trip due to the schedule of wedding obligations I'll have. I'm sure Little M and I will stay busy though, both this weekend and next, as we've got a lot of projects on the go, plus the local fair is next weekend, so we're planning a trip across to see all the animals.

Not to worry though, I'm going to try to relax and enjoy the moments of fun we have between now and my trip though, because I have a fair number of family-related goals this year that have a lot to do with fun and enjoyment, so I'll try to not stress out if all the things on my list of hope-to-get done's don't get done :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Harvesting our Cipollini storage onions

I have this obsession with self sufficiency. To the extent that I won't grow veggie varieties that I know do well here in favor of trying new ones just because the ones I know will do well here are not heirloom varieties. Let me tell, you, not always the right idea when I'm really trying to feed my family first and use heirloom varieties second.

This year though I added a couple new heirloom varieties of onion, and one of them did really well. Well enough that I couldn't find anywhere other than the wood stove hearth that was a big enough space to dry them! Here are (most) of our Cipollini Onions, drying prior to storing them for the winter. These will be our storage onions this winter, hopefully they will do the trick and last us until next summer!

I also planted Walla Walla Onions, which aren't keeper onions, but they should feed us into the early fall. I haven't harvested them yet. Hopefully soon they will be ready but at the moment they are still standing firmly upright and growing. I haven't been as impressed with them, the bulbs just aren't sizing up like I would expect. Of course, I ended up planting them in a less-than-ideal spot, where they stayed a bit wetter than I think they would have liked. I'll give these another try next year and then decide if they deserve to stay in our garden longer term.

Because onion seeds really only last a year, I'll be trying to save and plant some of the cipollini's, and maybe some of the walla walla's too, and get some seeds from them next fall. Of course next spring I'll have to buy more seeds since onions don't flower the first year they are planted. I haven't decided yet whether I want to save some of the small ones as sets, or some of the large ones as that is the size I would rather encourage, but either way I'll keep some for planting.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Turkeys in the yard!

My husband got home from work earlier in the week and spotted seven turkeys walking along the property

Typical of him, he then grabbed Little M and they went out stalking. Which turned into flat out chasing. Not exactly a good way to encourage the turkeys to ever come back, but Little M loved it!

We've seen turkeys on our property only once before, and that time the puppy (Lily) found three of them on the front porch and so she chased them around the house and down into the lower pasture by the creek. That was several years ago. It was nice to see them again :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

A successful graft!

Several months ago, this spring, we attempted around 8 grafts from cuttings from an apple tree at our old house onto some of the existing old apple's at our new house. I wasn't very optimistic due to it being our first time trying grafting, and due to it being a little later than seemed optimal in terms of the cuttings and trees to graft to already being a bit far along with budding out. We also didn't have the best grafting supplies, using syran wrap and elastic bands instead of more specialized grafting supplies. But, we went ahead and tried, because the apple from our old house had such yummy fruit that we didn't want to lose that variety.

And imagine my surprise late last week when wandering through the orchard I realized that behind the one remaining syran-wrapped graft there were green leaves trying to burst free! One of the grafts took! I quickly unwrapped the syran wrap from the tip where the green leaves were trying to emerge.
 Then I checked on how the graft area was doing under the plastic. It was looking good! definite scar tissue had developed, joining the grafted cutting onto the parent tree. Not a perfect seal yet, but a start! So exciting!

Most if not all of our other attempts this spring ended in failure - the syran wrap falling off, or the entire cutting falling out. But for some reason, this one has worked out so far, and it is even the first one we did out of the bunch we did this spring! I'm not certain that it will manage to survive into next year, let alone produce fruit ever, but what an encouraging start to our grafting journey! If you want to see how where we read up about grafting, and how we grafted, check out my first post on grafting. If you never start trying, you are never going to succeed, and this has been so true in our first grafting experiment!

Linking up to the Homestead Barn Hop.

Friday, August 17, 2012

2012 Garlic Harvest

We've apparently been growing a variety of softneck garlic as well as a variety of hardneck garlic these last few years, and careless (and rather unfamiliar with garlic before these past couple years) me just didn't realize until now!

Last week I pulled our garlic as it was starting to get fairly dry and we were forecast to get a day of possible thunderstorms. I lay it all on the deck and then promptly forgot about it for the next two days, first a hot sunny day where the garlic likely got sunburnt (cause p.s., apparently garlic sunburns), and then a day of afternoon thunderstorms where the garlic likely got a bit damp.

After the rain showers I brought it inside and put in a warm yet dry & shady spot in the corner of the kitchen for a week or so longer, then over the weekend Little M and I tidied it up for storage. My husband isn't all that fond of the softneck variety we have, so I won't bother replanting any of that this fall.
Our softneck variety isn't forming cloves at all, it is all still in the round stage. Since we got these varieties from my husband's brother, I have no idea what varieties we have. They may not be ones that do particularly well over here at all - I think we will likely get some local varieties to plant this fall and see how they do next year!

This is our third summer gardening here, and I keep telling people who are just starting their gardens to give themselves at least several years of grace - even with a childhood with many hours spent in the garden, its taken me these three years to really feel like I have gardening down pat here, and with some crops that are newer to me, or that I haven't been focusing on trying to improve, that time will be still longer until I feel confident in growing that particular crop well - garlic is obviously one such example!

What about you - is there a crop that you have been slow to learn how to grow successfully? Mine is obviously garlic. Do you have a crop that you got the hang of really quickly in your gardening space? Mine seems to be hubbard squash.

Monday, August 13, 2012

From the garden today

Harvested fresh from the garden (and coop!) this evening...

The first bunch of green beans large enough to make me think about blanching & freezing them.

Enough zucchini's to make me think about stir-fries in our immediate future to the dismay of everyone in the house but me (yum!).

More delicious farm-fresh eggs.

And some tomatoes to take along to a bring-your-own-BBQ dinner we're going to later this week.

Not pictured - the delicious strawberries that Little M and I devoured in the thick of the strawberry patch, and the last of the raspberries. Fresh garden food enjoyed right in the garden. Best thing ever.

Monday, August 6, 2012

What I'm reading & loving lately

In my spare time this weekend (generally as I'm trying unsuccessfully to not fall asleep while putting Little M down for her nap!) I've been doing lots of reading. Reading about pickling cucumbers, reading about pigs, and reading about simple living. In my stack right now are Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, Storey's Guide to Raising Pigs, and Organized Simplicity. I love books!

I'm also loving these weekend evenings. Not so good on the family time side of things, but so good on the down time for mama side of things. Everyone but mama has to be in bed by 9. Which means I get to unwind and become very tired by at the latest 10. That gives me another while to read, or get the main room & kitchen all tidied up for the day to come. It's really making our days go smoother, without me staying up until all hours to get everything done!

And to top it off, I've been getting up earlier since the house is all quiet and the bed is empty so early (the mr is currently getting up at 5:30, very hard for a night owl like him to accomplish!). The amount of outside work I can get done by myself between 6:15 and 7:15 is just amazing. And then I don't feel guilty about dozing off with Little M in the afternoons - win win win all around :) With the heat we've been experiencing lately, those cool morning moments spent outside are much appreciated!

The photo's are of sunset last night. We've had several forest fires burning around us, although quite a ways off. First east of here late last week and into the weekend, and then today another one started a ways south of here. This smoke blew into our little valley in the early evening, but within an hour of sunset it had blown on by. Before it cleared up, it smelled pretty smokey outside and I would feel it stinging my eyes, so I was glad to see it lighten up!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bringing our butcher piglet home

After putting in some hot sweaty hours over the weekend, our pig pen was pretty much ready, so Monday evening we went down to our wonderful neighbor's barn and brought our pig home. He is castrated and about 2 months old. He had a shot of deworming medicine this evening while we picked him up, and although the first day or two he was definitely missing his littermates and mother, he's really starting to settle in, get used to his chicken & human companions, and gobble down that food of his. We've named him Pat the Pig.

For his pen we bought 4 16' hog panels and a mesh-filled metal gate. We already had the t-posts, wood corner posts, and all of the shelter material except for some long screws, so that really cut costs down.

We're borrowing a feeder from our neighbor, and used some plastic pipe we had laying around for the waterer, in addition to a new water nipple. We've also got a trickle of irrigation water moistening a little mucking spot for him.

My husband is convinced that raising this pig will be too expensive for the meat to be worth it, but for me it's more than just the cost comparison of the pork in the end. It's knowing what went into the pig, knowing how it's life was lived, ending up with all the manure, and learning from the process of raising it. I'm lucky that my husband understands that for me growing and raising our own food, be it meat or vegetables, is more than a way to feed our family, it's a hobby verging on a way of life, just like hunting is for him.

If someday in the future we end up raising and breeding pigs, even just on a very small scale like our neighbor is currently doing, this first pig is teaching us valuable lessons that will help us move into that phase. Heck, it's teaching us valuable lessons about lots of things, building small structures, putting fence up, and most of all, just how to raise a butcher pig. Farming isn't something you just jump into, and the startup generally comes with increased time and cost. That's where we are at now, and I'm so happy we are :)
Linking up to the Homestead Barn Hop.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...