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Sunday, July 31, 2011

If I build it, you can bet I will tear it out later

Several years ago when we got out moved into our house I had the big idea to build several flower beds up here. One was near the driveway, one on the west end and a small one near the front sidewalk. I had planted all perennial plants in them. They actually looked pretty good till maybe 2 years ago. With my physical limitations I could not keep all the weeds out of em. So needless to say they looked kinda shabby at best. I had got out a couple weeks ago and pulled the weeds to no avail. They still looked crappy. So I tole Rodger I was gonna pull all the plants out and move em to a place near the end of the driveway and re-do the bed areas. So that is what I have done this weekend. The one small one by the front sidewalk I replanted with a row of Lariope (monkey grass) that wont take over the sidewalk. So now when the monkey grass gets taken off at least it wont cover the sidewalk lights at night. So that one is done for now. The bed near the drive I took all the plants out except the one tomato plant that I had in there to save seed from. I am gonna put down a layer of black plastic and let it sit for a couple weeks and that is where I will plant some fall garden crops. It is narrow enough I could make a tunnel with pipe and plastic and maybe have a couple tomato plants in there most of the winter. I will plant some late cabbage, maybe rutabagas, and lettuce in there as well. So that one is planned. The biggest bed on the west end of the house is all out and dirt put back to fill in the low spots where we used the tractor to scoop out the plants and soil. This left low spots that would not drain well so we filled em in and leveled the area off. Now a layer of weed barrier goes down and then landscape gravel or maybe, just maybe pavers to make a patio like area. After all it is near the summer kitchen and we could make a shaded area to do green beans and other veggies that make a mess if done on the porch. But am sure gravel will go in tomorrow, then maybe later pavers of some sort.
After we finish the landscaping stuff tomorrow evening we must pick beans and tomatoes again as well as cukes and zucchini. Later in the week I am planning on getting my carrots pulled out and canned up. We had a lil break in the garden produce this weekend is the only reason I had time to tackle the landscaping projects. Gosh it seems like this has been a really short summer for some reason. Maybe its cause we went from winter to hot summer and now its is August already and it will start to cool down in the evenings now. That will be such a nice change. I love summer and all its busy-ness but the heat is hard on me now days. Love the gardening and canning and growing things. I did finally get my late cabbage seed sown today. So I know they will be late and thas OK cause I will have them in the former flower bed and can cover them if need be to protect them from hard freezes. I think maybe tomorrow I will clone some tomato plants to plant in that bed as well and see just how long I can keep fresh maters into fall and winter. Be fun just to try. Never know, I might succeed.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Canning frenzy

It happens every year, same time, all the garden stuff gets ready at one time. We finally got all the corn taken care of that we need to do us for the year. Last evening Rodger and I went and picked more of the Ky Wonder green beans and got those broke and ready to can. I finally got able to walk this morning and got started on those. Had a rough time when I first got up with a really sore toe. I think I broke my toe yesterday when I fell UP the steps on the porch. Yeah ya heard me right, I fell up the steps. Anyway it took a while to walk the soreness out so I could make it to the summer kitchen. Got the beans all washed and in jars and canned up. Decided to make another batch of veggie soup to can. Ended up with about 10 quarts of soup. I had a good deal of red tomatoes that would have spoiled before we could eat them and made juice with those. Not a bad day at all. But by time I was done, my body was done. Maybe tomorrow I can get back to the garden and dig the carrots and get those canned. I think I may also pull the Tobacco Worm bean vines up and pick the beans off those and call them done. We have decided we will not grow climbing beans any more because we never seem to have time to get them staked and they do not do well left to trail on the ground. I am sure I have plenty of okra to cut and put in the freezer too. I really need more bell peppers to freeze and dry but not sure I have planted enough. I had a really hard time getting those to germinate for some reason. But tomorrow is another day. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Still knee-deep in the garden

It has been a busy long weekend and week here. I think my days all ran together. With the passing of my aunt Geraldine, dads last sister living, and trying to visit with family during that time and take care of garden stuff it was a rough go. But even with all the goings on we managed to pick a total of 35 feed bags full of corn and I now have more in the freezer than I really need I hope. Still there will be more in a couple days as it don't all get ready at the very same time. I just had to take it a lil easy today, didn't really feel well at all. Very fatigued and sore of course. After Rodger got the mower fixed and mowed the yard I racked up a pile of grass clippings to feed the chickens and they loved it. Then I picked my lil tiny Mexican cukes and made another pint and a half of lil dill pickles. Also picked more ground cherries and when I get enough I will make more Ground Cherry and Orange jam (recipe in older post). That stuff was so dang good. Tomorrow evening after the fellers get home from work and we have supper I think the green beans will need picked again. So either tomorrow night or next morning I will be canning green beans. Maybe this weekend I will get time to get the carrots out and get those canned up. I use a lot of carrots in winter making soup and stews and such. Cant put them in the freezer cause the big freezer is already full and deer season (bow season) opens here September 3rd. Got to have a place to put meat. Not to mention I will have more chickens to butcher later on. On the farm there is alas something that needs attention.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

A hot busy weekend

The weather here is so dang hot especially if you need to work outside. The humidity is high along with the heat makes for some tough garden harvesting. But none the less we have picked sweet corn everyday this weekend and been cutting it off the cob and freezing it. On Saturday we picked 14 of the 50 lb feed bags full of corn. We cleaned 4 bags and cut that off for us to freeze and sent the other 10 bags home with Josh for him and his parents. I still have more corn than I know what to do with. Rodger and I pulled 6 more feed bags full and brought it to the house. Got 3 bags cleaned, cut off and froze. The other 3 bags will need to be done early in the morning and its all up to me on those. We did pick a few tomatoes this evening and enough cukes to make 4 pints of dill pickle spears. Tomorrow evening we will be going to visitation for my aunt Geraldine (dads youngest sister, last one living) that passed away on Friday afternoon at the age of 89. I did get time in all this canning frenzy to visit with family a bit. Her funeral will be on Tuesday morning and she will be laid to rest in the cemetery where my dad is buried. As I was picking corn on Saturday I had to reflect and remember that I am a lot like aunt Geraldine with my gardening and canning. She always had a huge garden and canned everything she could every year. Her root cellar still sits with all her jars of canned stuff lining the shelves. It has been there for several years now and is probably not good. Most likely with the door not insulated the jars have frozen and thawed and probably unsealed. But her place sits as it always has. She loved pretty things and kept everything people gave her. And her lil house reflects this. Rest in peace Auntie,. You surely will be missed.
Probably on Tuesday afternoon I will be picking green beans again. I think we will only be planting 1 variety next year. It will likely be the Ky Wonder bush beans. No staking needed, they produce well and are really good tasting beans. I do still have some Tobacco worm beans and they are good also but we never got time to trellis them and they are a mess to try and pick. I think next time I pick those I will just pull the vines out and pick off all the beans and let that be it. I might leave a few plants and let them go to seed just to keep the seed as they are an old heirloom variety. Will also need to leave some sweet corn on the stalks to mature for seed for next year as well. I really do need to get cabbage seed sown soon or there will be no late cabbage on this farm. So much to do and the season is quickly passing like life itself.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Canning season is in full swing

The canning season for us is in full swing now. Rodger went to work, came home again to help me pick a bushel of green beans this morning and he went back to work. I sat on the front porch till around noon stringing beans. Then off to the summer kitchen to break them up and get em canned. That got finished around 4 this evening. I had more tomatoes than we could eat and we decided to make and can a batch of veggie soup. So while the beans were processing I put the veggie soup together and got it in the jars. I went ahead and put them in the pressure canner but didn't turn the flame on till after we went to the garden again and picked a bunch of sweet corn. We picked half way down 2 rows and got 2 big feed bags full of corn. Keep in mind I have 10 rows of sweet corn. We came back to the house and shucked and cleaned the corn and I got it all cut off the cob and ready for the freezer. I did remember to turn the stove on and process the veggie soup while we cleaned corn tho. We got the corn put in zip top bags and in the freezer about the time the soup got done. Rodger put the bags of corn in the freezer on his way in the house and I stayed in the kitchen to let the pressure drop on the canner. While I waited on the canner I checked my last batch of kraut and it was ready to be packed in jars and put in the cellar. So I did that and emptied the soup out of the canner and called it a day and night. Dang my body is tired. I suspect I probably wont be able to move too well tomorrow. But no matter it will be off to the garden again to pick more corn and get it put away.
Not much else happening here on the homestead today, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Planted grape vines, more rain

This evening after supper I had the guys plant the new grape vines I had started from cutting off the seedless Concords we have out back. I had 9 really nice healthy specimens to plant. They are planted in a row perpendicular to the strawberries in the field. We did space these correctly and put them 10 ft apart.

Somebody got the row crooked. Not mentioning no names here. But thas ok, dad alas said you could get more plants in a crooked row. After we got the grape vines planted we had thunderstorms and torrential rains. So the plants got plenty of water.
This morning I got in the herb bed and harvested the lil Mexican sour gherkin cukes. I had enough to make 2 half pints of lil dill pickles.
I think they look like tiny lil watermelons. Kinda neat looking, and be nice on relish tray. Will give them a few days and then see how they taste. There will me many many more on the plants.
Not much else happening here today other than the intense heat. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Its time to get busy!

The last several days have kept me hopping here. Our beans are ready to be picked, the corn is almost ready, as in probably later this week. The tomatoes are getting ripe. Not long till I will have those to can as well. Still need to plant more cukes and no I have not done that yet. I have made a few jars of kosher dill pickles, not nearly enough tho. In the past 2 days I have canned 38 quarts of green beans. Still have about 170 or so to go to meet my goal. We have had a good bit of rain for about a week or so. Even then I still needed to weed the herb bed. I did finally get that done as well as the onion bed. I pulled all the lil sets off the walking onions and will replant those when I get time to work some compost into the soil in that bed.

This is part of the new herb bed. The big tomato plant is here so it doesn't cross pollinate with anything else and I will be able to save seed from it as it is the heirloom variety Brandywine.
On the other side of this bed I planted some Mexican sour gherkin cukes. I did it more for the novelty than anything but my goodness they have take off. The lil vines look so fragile and the cukes are cute as can be. Imagine serving these on a salad. But I am thinking I will make dill pickles with them.

They look like lil tiny watermelons.But talk about a pain in the azz to pick. Yeah like I need another piddly project. I may have to get out there early in the morning and pick those. When the sun comes up it is far too hot to be out. Our weather today has been nearly unbearable. Guess it was good I got the green beans canned earlier before the heat.
Over the weekend I was really happy to get to visit with some cousins I had not seen in forever. My cousin Judy, her hubby Gary and daughter Tracy were in town visiting. I was so glad to see them but not under the circumstances of visiting my aunt who has been given a short time to live. Tracy has taken a canning class in her town and is really interested in learning to can her own food. So as you all know that is right up my alley. Sure would be nice if she lived closer and we could spend some time in the kitchen together. Who knows how things may work out.
So I guess its off the bed for me very soon so I can get up and beat the heat tomorrow and get a few things done. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, July 15, 2011

The rain shot my plans

I got up early, well earlier than normal fer me with big plans to get lots done today. I got started cutting herbs to dry and finished one basket full and then started pulling weeds in the herb bed. The new bed has taken off and done really well. Got lots of weeds pulled out and in a big pile.
With a big pile of weeds in the middle it started to pour rain on me so I got my basket of cut herbs and headed for the summer kitchen. I did get those herbs which happen to be summer savory cleaned, stripped, washed an in the dehydrator. My intention was to go back and finish up weeding and cut more when the rain let up but it rained the rest of the afternoon till late. So I came in to cook supper. We had fresh green beans, new potatoes, fried corn, fresh tomatoes and cornbread, all homegrown stuff. I had sliced cucumbers and onions in salt water with mine tho. A meal that cant be beat for a hillbilly. Later this evening I made a blackberry cobbler from the wild picked blackberries I had canned.
I went out later to check on my chickens in the brooder house. I have far too many in there, a total of about 63 and all really pretty birds. So kinda unique in color and feather.

Really nice bunch of lil birds. They love getting veggie scraps and grass clippings. I hope this weekend if we don't get too much more rain I can put up a temporary fence in the back of the brooder house so they can get out and eat green stuff at will. But for now they thoroughly enjoy shredded cukes and zucchini. Both of which we are kinda short on this season. The rain kinda hampered my cucumber planting this weekend too. Not to mention I did not pick beans this evening in the mud too. They must be picked tomorrow rain or shine. In the meantime I will be trying to finish weeding herbs then onion beds. As you can see my ambitions far exceed my energy and physical ability.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Two steps forward, three back

Don't ya just hate those days when ya seem to go forward and find out ya just are not getting anywhere? Well today has been one of those. I had put off picking the blackberries out the back drive because it was so unbearably hot. I finally mustered up the nerve to get out there this evening and don't ya know, the power company contractors have been cleaning right of way and destroyed the nice patch of berries. Really made me mad. So now maybe tomorrow evening I can go back to the big river bottom and see if there are more ripe down there. On the up side I do still have a good bit canned from last year and plenty of jam and jelly. I just wanted these for juice this year. Rumor has it the juice is very healthy for ya, but what the hell do I know.
So after supper Rodger and I went off to the garden to check on the cukes and zucchini and picked those. Damn it, I am gonna have to plant more cukes and zucchini cause I didn't plant enough the first time around. We did pick a few partially ripe tomatoes tho and those should ripen in a few days. About the time I need to pick green beans again so I can fix green beans, taters and fresh maters for the fellers. That should make em happy as a pig in slop.
We made our way up to the strawberry patch and raspberries. OMG the morning glories have nearly taken the place. I had mulched the strawberries and raspberries and there is a space between the rows of berries that we intended to keep plowed and keep the weeds down. Well the morning glories came up in that area and have trailed all over the top of the strawberry plants. Talk about a job cleaning those out. So tomorrow evening we are going back and take the weed eater and mow the strips in between the plants and then rake the debris off the berry plants. Tomorrow is another herb drying day so it shouldn't be too much trouble staying cool just doing that. That is if I get out early and cut em and get em in the dehydrator before it gets too hot. These days when it is really hot and in the 100's I just cringe at the thought of going outside to work but if I don't we wont eat. My walking onions have made sets and I really need to gather some of the sets to share with some friends as the bed is getting a lil too thick with onions. Maybe I can take some pics tomorrow so you can see my success and failures. Trust me I do have flubs like everyone else.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Updates from the farm

Dang I sure didn't think it had been that long since I had posted. But any who been preoccupied fora while. Rob came home from Nevada and got here on July 2nd. They drove from Elko Nevada to home here in Ky. A total of 36 hours on the road. Arrived about 7 am on Saturday and spent the week here. Such a short week, seems like I didn't even get to visit with Rob while he was here. But they had to be gone doing various things during the week. We met them in Richmond on Friday night for dinner before they left this past Saturday. I did get a text message that they arrived back in Elko about 8:30 my time on Sunday evening. Just thankful for a safe uneventful trip for them.
Over the weekend we had to get started on the garden stuff. I have canned 19 quarts of green beans so far and that is just picking the ones off that are big enough to encourage the plants to keep blooming and extend the harvest. I had started kraut a week or so ago and it was finished. I did put that in the jars yesterday and sealed up and stored in the cellar. Dang it is good too. I had 21 pints and 7 quarts of kraut. And still got more in the crock working that was started today. Several gallon bags of chopped cabbage in the freezer to use when I make and can veggies soup later on. Also have several quart bags of shredded zucchini in the freezer for zucchini bread when the weather is cooler for baking. I have made about 8 quarts of dill pickle spears so far too. Most likely in the next couple weeks the sweet corn will be in the freezer too. As usual I planted far too much corn, again. The tomatoes are starting to ripen. I am so happy this is the first year in many that we have had potatoes. If they do as well as the ones that we have dug for fresh eating we should have a good supply to store for winter. So far we have been blessed with a really good garden this year.
Our weather has been too hot for man or beast the past few days. The temps were in the low 100's today and for the next few days. We have high humidity this time of year and thru the month of August as well.  I made the mistake of trying to pick green beans yesterday evening around 4 while Rodger ran the weed eater around the watermelon vines and it was far too hot. Had to come back in the house and go back after the sun went down and finish up. I was in the summer kitchen all day today canning the green beans and chopping more cabbage and zucchini. Am thankful now for the AC out there. I will probably end up buying more jars this year to can all the things I want to get canned.  While we were out of town last Friday having dinner with Rob and Amoy we made a stop at Walmart. I looked at canning jars and notice the Main Stays brand that was there. We looked closely at the jars, they are so thin and on the bottom stamped "made in china". NO THANKS I would rather take my chances with the re-used miracle whip jars in the pressure canner than those cheap ones from China. The miracle whip jars are much thicker glass and I would rather trust those. I sure hope folks that are kinda new to canning don't go for the 20cent savings and buy those cheap Chinese made jars. I surely do not think they would last more than 1 or 2 seasons. Now my mission is to buy all the older brands and used canning jars that I can find. Am thinking not long till they will no longer be available. Kinda scary all the things that have been quality staples in our lives are slowly being replaced with cheap foreign made junk. OK enough of my rant for today.
I dang near missed blackberry season here. We have managed to pick about 3 gallon of berries so far. I usually like to have about 5 gallon minimum to make juice, jelly and such from. So probably tomorrow I will be chigger bait again and pick more berries. I think I would like to pick several wild fruits and make some mixed fruit juice to can. We have blackberries, elderberries, passion fruit all growing wild here. And I am inclined to think wild fruit juice would be very nutritious. We shall see how my time goes and how much hot weather I can take to harvest these things.
I still have a lot of herbs to dry between harvesting things from the garden. Kinda nice to have you own herbs to flavor dishes with and not have to buy them and wonder what they have been sprayed with. Not to mention the expense.
This week I will be starting more cabbage plants for the fall crop. Although it is hard to get them started here in summer due to the heat and having to remember to water most time twice a day. I would like to be able to store some cabbage in the cellar for winter use. After the potatoes are out of the garden that lil area will be plowed up and mustard, turnips and rutabagas will be sown in there. All of which do well in cooler weather of fall. So much to do and we are on the tail end of summer here almost.
Enough of my rambling for this post. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.