Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Harvests, Thanksgiving and my heart.

So, it seems I've missed the last several Harvest Mondays. I was in Alabama for 2 of them, but that is not a good excuse.

My harvests have included lemons and limes an orange (last to ripen) all of the citrus totals to about 15 pounds. There is still more on the tree but maybe only another 10 pounds to come. I also harvested the last of my bush sweet potatoes. I left the purple ones out in the garden as they were flowering profusely. Hopefully I'll still manage a few more tubers from them. I also pulled up all the mint in the garden. It was invading the grass and I just decided it's time to start over. While the raised beds are doing fine the other beds are looking run down and shabby. I wasn't able to beat whatever fungus has taken a hold of the dirt and so it sits. I'm sure to replant soon enough and maybe the drier winter weather will help.

In the raised beds I've got cauliflower, broccoli and brussel sprouts growing. It the first time for the sprouts for me. Hubby adores them and the kids and I - well... they are edible I guess. LOL. Then again, I despise cabbage, go figure! There are a few carrots out there as well, but the seed was old so not a ton of the have sprouted. I'll just keep reseeding them until it's too warm. I need to get rid of the old seed before I purchase new anyhow!

A couple of my blueberry bushes are bare now and a few are already forming buds (BAD!) We just got our first frost this morning and it was unexpected. With a temperature of 45* it shouldn't have happened. Strange how fickle Mother Nature is. I hope my tomato plant is still alive tomorrow!

Thanksgiving was interesting. This year we were able to harvest our turkey from the property. It was really something special for us.The hunting season is not normally open for turkey in the fall where the property is, so this was the first opportunity we've had to do this. While we have enough land and no one bothers us, we would never risk losing our hunting capabilities for a turkey dinner taken illegally. I'm so happy that the state opened a 3 day window for turkey just before Thanksgiving. For the first time we were able to put a turkey that we harvested their on our property on the table for Thanksgiving. I can't think of any better way to celebrate a Thanksgiving or anything to be more thankful for. It really opened our hearts and made us feel even closer to the land.

Now, I've heard so many people talk about how wild turkey is virtually inedible. Doesn't taste right, it's tough, it's this or that. Most people that hunt turkey do so more for sport and it sickens me. Other people harvest only the breast meat and they deep fry it. But, I'm here to tell you that it IS worth eating. It IS good food! AN,d it can be cooked like any other turkey. It just takes a little prep time. We harvested our turkey on Monday. On Tuesday I put it in a brine. (LOVELY brine I might add, Thanks Pioneer Woman for the recipe!) On Wednesday I flipped the bird in the brine and on Thursday I put it in the roaster. It didn't fit. SURPRISE! So I hauled out the counter top extra large roaster... it still didn't fit! I put the top on it and then had to weight the top down with pots, making my cooking even more precarious than normal. I'm klutzy enough on my own after all. After about an hour the whole house smelled divine. After 2.5 hours we started picking off done pieces. By the time we actually served the turkey? HA! We had already eaten a third of it. :-) Was it tough and dry? By the standards of saline injected turkeys that never leave a 10'x10' enclosure and are harvested by 6 months of age, yes. It was tougher. BUT it was not so tough as to be any kind of deterrent to doing it again. Besides, the fact that the lid did not fit on the roaster correctly surely contributed to the dryness because the moisture was not contained. It was delicious! It was not the kind of dry that I've had from plenty of other grocery store turkeys.It was not as tough as the first turkey I ever cooked. LOL. And it will definitely be something that we strive to do every Thanksgiving now.

As for pics? Thought you'd never ask! Besides, I wanted to give those squeamish people a chance to read first. My son Troy harvested this bird, and I couldn't have been prouder.

There was only one issue with this harvest. It made my heart sore. Not because we took the life of this beautiful bird. Never that. The bird was fed by us the last few months and we not only enjoy the meat but we are very thankful for the birds sacrifice. 

My heart was sore because after Thanksgiving and this wonderful experience we had to turn around 2 days later and LEAVE. My heart, my soul, does not belong here in the city. Pollution makes me sick - quite literally here. I can't stand the constant push and shove. Rude people, traffic, noise...UGH. 

Please, don't get me wrong. I KNOW the life I want is a hard life. Living off the land is not easy. By no means do I think it's a fairy tale I'm asking for. But, the ability to slow down, breathe fresh air, SEE the stars at night? I'd rather be working outside than in. So I am heart-sore as my children are every time we leave. I always knew I wanted to move there, but right here and now it's more that. I need to. So, we readjust our way of thinking and look again at our timeline, but no matter how we look at it in order to move we must first build, and at least one of us needs a good job there. Building there cannot happen right now, much less not having insurance or an income.

We took on the responsibility so we will stick it out here even though we both want this other life. Now, I just need to find something to focus on here so I can get back in the game.

See you soon,


Monday, November 18, 2013

Harvest Monday 11.18.13

Ah, it's Harvest Monday again. Maybe I should just start doing monthly installments.
I don't have much to share. I didn't take pictures of the last of the black eyed peas, or the single tomato that I got. My purple sweet potatoes are flowering like crazy (but that isn't a harvest, is it?) I got a few sprigs on cilantro as well. Things are super slow right now. I guess I need to really work on that soil problem so I can get the rest of my cauliflower in. It's no longer growing so at the least I need to up pot the little seedlings.
My neatest harvest this week? Crawfish!
We are heading to Alabama and this catch is coming with me. ALIVE! I also have a tank full of tadpoles to go as well. It will be nice to have these crustaceans in our pond though. I'm hoping for a few more to put in the lake as well. Then in a year or two we should have enough in there to harvest. I do love to eat crustaceans. They (all types, not just these) are some of my favorite food.
I am still getting a few eggs, but the laying has slowed considerably now. It's good and bad. I no longer have a large stash of eggs in the fridge waiting to be eaten, but then I also know that the laying will stop soon. Will I end up buying eggs before this is all said and done? That would be bad. I'm also no longer going out to the run as often. I find without my favorite hen out there it's harder to pay attention to the remaining two. Especially when one is aggressive. :-(  I guess it's time to start thinking about what I can do to remedy this situation once and for all.
Preparations are in order for our first fall hunt in Alabama. We are hoping for a turkey and quail for Thanksgiving and the first of the deer for the freezer. It's looking a bit shabby in there and it's time to refill! If it's warm enough we'll also harvest some of the fish from the lake. It will be good to get the freezer stocked again. I always worry that we won't have enough meat for the year and until the freezer is completely packed it will be on my mind.
See you soon!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Harvest Monday 11.4.2013

It's November already. I can't believe it. The last month has been so incredibly busy that the time just *WOOSHED* right by me.

This weeks harvest is a few lemons and a pound of peanuts. This first harvest of peanuts is 1/3 of the peanut plants.
I have harvested a few times from this patch. A single plant here or there in order to keep a close eye on their development. The excessive rains had some fungal issues going on in the plants for a few weeks, but we got that corrected quickly enough. And though I got a pound of peanuts there is potential for so much more.

This picture shows just how much more. See, each of those things sticking up is a peg and that is what a peanut develops on. And every single plant I pulled up was covered with them.
So the only issue is... do I leave the peanuts to continue to do there thing and harvest the second crop and just hope the first crop hold on, or do I harvest the first crop and take what I can get?
Decisions, decisions.
This past weekend brought us the twins 7th birthday party. We went old school and had it at a skating rink. The girls had a blast, and even had a friend book their birthday party while we were there. Guess we'll be going back soon! :-)
I've discovered that I can still skate pretty well, and the girls got skates for their birthday so it looks like it's a new obsession 'round here.
Well, that was our big week this week. Last week included some Alabama time, and we are looking forward to go back in a few weeks to start restocking our freezer.
See you soon!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Growing, and busy.

We've been rather busy this last week or two. There was a quick trip up to the property to do a little work, and to check on the status of the herd up there. There was also a certain sometwinnies birthday to plan. This weekend will be fun for them, for sure! Not to mention the preparing the garden for fall planting, and getting the first set of seedlings in the ground. The main garden is still under quarantine though.  *pout*

But, right now I wanted to stop by and tell you about our herd. We've been managing this herd for 8 years now. The first couple years we didn't really know what we were doing. We tried, but our main objective was just to lower the hunting pressure and allow the herd to come back onto the land and get all cozy. The poaching that had gone on before us was intense and I'm pretty sure not even the squirrels came onto the property. Not to mention it was mostly barren with a few pockets of hardwoods. the second year we had the fields planted and all the trees planted and as they grew the herd slowly moved back in. At first only for foraging and the herd was very small. We didn't harvest animals for the first 3-4 years. Then we started noticing the deer were finally staying year round without fail. They visited the same places, and we saw the same deer time and again. But, the bucks - not so much. They are typically travelers anyway and wary. But, as the newer generation of deer matured those bucks tend to hang around more. Other bucks start coming in more because the herd size is growing so the does need mating...all good stuff. Last year the herd was finally large enough to not only meet the demands of our meat requirements, but my brothers and my uncles as well. This year?

Our herd?

 Our herd is growing in leaps and bounds!

The fawns are numerous and we even have a set of twins!

Last years fawns have sized up nicely (top photo all the way right) and this years are beginning to lose their spots and all are healthy and happy.

Along with these shots we had plenty of turkey (some with the turkey and deer at the same time) and other wildlife as well. It feels great to know that we've completely changed this land. The deer that used to be here were very thin and the fawn population by this time of the year was very low if any due to high predator pressure. Turkey were non existent on this property as well. This year? I fully plan on a true turkey Thanksgiving dinner.
And? I. Can't. Wait!
See you soon!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Soil issues.

I eluded to the fact that I would be back to discuss the issues I'm having with getting my green beans to grow. So- here I am. The first batch I sowed I"m pretty sure just got drowned. Nothing more, nothing less. They were about 4" high when we had an entire week of nothing but rain all.day.long. No joke. It was canoe weather. The second batch of beans I sowed managed to climb and grow and stretch and just die one after the other with no real beans produced. The last of the beans ended up with rust pretty badly, but I'm not thinking that is what actually killed the plants. The third succession of beans? This set didn't make it more than 2-3 inches tall. The second set of true leaves before just kind of disappearing.

So, the problem is getting worse over all. I've let the garden get a bit weedy the last few weeks just waiting for the fall season here. I figured a bit drier conditions and more manageable humidity would help whatever was causing the issues. MAN, I could kick my own butt for that! If I hadn't let the beds get weedy and had paid closer attention as the plants were dying off yet again I may have noticed the problem sooner and been able to do something about it. Then again, as long as the soil was wet I may have not seen the problem. I don't really know. What I do know is that now that it has dried out? Oh what a MESS!

THIS is what my garden bed looks like after having weeded and turned it over:
Not only do I have these clumps of white nastiness, but the entire soil seems infiltrated with it!  UGH. Here is a close up of that gross white clump when I broke it open...

So, Uh- Yeah. I have a pretty serious problem here. Everything I've read (and it hasn't been easy to find anything about this particular problem) says I should "replace my potting soil" HAHAHAHAH! Ah, well. That is not an option. What I can find says that the soils was probably TOO high in organic matter and the decomposition process had not completed before adding it. Well, that is a distinct possibility. But, now that I have this problem what do I do? I can't just dig 6-8" of dirt out. How am I going to rehome BAD dirt anyway???
So the only thing I can think is that this is from turning under my crops, and then the excessive amount of rain not allowing it to decompose correctly (bad aerobic/non aerobic balance = gross!)
Nevertheless, I have to endure, and after all I did not spend the last 5 years building this soil just to abandon it and start all over with nasty Florida SAND. (AGAIN)
Not knowing what my options are and not being able to find any real experiences out there I decided it's probably best if I myself put this out here. I have white, gross garden soil. I'm bound and determined to save it, and use it again - successfully!
I have come to the conclusion that this white substance is most likely either a mold or a fungus. Either one should be controlled by one of my favorite mostly organic concoctions. Good old fashioned copper. It of course is going to work better on fungi - but if I can flood the area should also work to dry out any mold.
The most unfortunate thing in all of this? Remember all those worms I had in my soil last year? All of them are gone! I didn't see a single one while I was digging through this mess. Not that I blame them. It just makes me sad. It also makes me realize that if a worm won't hang out here, how could I expect for my plants to grow?
Oh Mother Nature - Why must you spite me?!
Hopefully I'll be back in a week or two with good news.
See you soon!  

Monday, October 14, 2013

Harvest Monday 10.14.13

It's the middle of October and I can't believe it! Welcome back to Harvest Monday. Thanks Daphne for always being such a great hostess. If it wasn't for you we wouldn't all get together to celebrate the harvest that are happening all over the world!

The last few weeks I have lost almost all of my bean plants. I think I also figured out why - but that is another post. I've replanted my green beans (AND my winter squash) 6 different times this year to no avail. All the seeds come up the seedlings look great and then - poof they just disappear into nothingness. Deader than a doornail. It's been frustrating to say the least. At first I chalked it up to our extreme weather. This summer, more than any other we've had enough rain to continually drown out the plants. But, I garden in raised beds and while the rain would still cause issues and allow certain types of plants to die off this amount of destruction was unprecedented. We've had more than 6 months in a row with over 10" of rain each month. You'd think that would be enough to cause the problem after all!

But, I have been able to harvest some beans. The lady peas and black eyes made it through OK, but even those are no starting to succumb to diseases. I can't wait to plant out my fall plants. I sure hope they do better!

This weeks harvest? BEANS... well, southern peas but it is still a bean. 

Don't let the pictures fool you. That is not a plate they are on. This is a very large serving bowl. The first picking was just over a half pound, the second a pound and the third a good 2 pounds. The green ones weigh more because they are not dried, nor will they be dried. They'll be used as snaps in my beans.  For a reference the green beans on the side of the bowl are 6-7" long.
Yes, I also harvest a few handfuls of green beans each time I harvested the southern peas and a couple lemons as well. They continue to trickle in a couple every few days. But, I've only got a few green bean plants that made it so the pickings are slim. I'll probably just throw them in the pot along with the beans and make some cornbread to call it good. Nothing like it!
Unfortunately like the rest of the year has been my harvest is not varied. (Thank goodness for eggs!) I sure hope to cure that with the cooler nighttime temperatures upon us now. Hope all is well in your garden.
See you soon!

Friday, October 11, 2013


Harvest Monday came and went again. I harvested! I did! Rather than sharing my entire harvest I'll share my most interesting one.
My purple sweet potato. SOOOO pretty. So, yummy... so dry! I didn't bake it - I nuked it. BIG mistake! Oh well. It was dry but after adding some butter and smashing some it was still quite yummy.  After doing some research I found out that purple sweet potatoes in general have a tendency to be dry, much less one that only cured for 2 days. The other sweets I've been eating have been dry as well and I can't quite tell if it is the type of spud or if it is the excess rainfall. Fully half of my taters have been split and they are in a (VERY) raised bed. It shouldn't happen to them. Next year I'm going to pay for a few slips to try another type. The Amish Porto Rico has always performed well, but I do like a sweeter, moister potato - and let me tell you I'm LOVING this purple. Look at how vibrant that potato is after cooking! (That's AFTER!)
I'm saving the rest of my harvest(s) for this coming Monday.
October 15th is Stillbirth and Infant Loss Awareness Day. I'm posting this on my page now in honor of the day. I wanted to post it earlier this week but work and other family obligations kept me away.So I decided to hold off. I'm posting it early because I want the awareness out there ahead of the date. Traditionally at 7pm in your time zone a candle is lit in remembrance for all of those that have lost children during pregnancy or in early infancy. 

The grey bear - He's my constant companion. If you haven't read his story, you should. Tatty Teddy's story. I can't remember where I got the first one, but once I read the story I realized that little teddy stole my heart. At times I felt like I WAS that teddy. They are in my home, my office, my car. Hard to find because they are a UK thing - I'm always searching for them here.
So, that's it today. I'll be back Monday.
See you soon!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Harvest Monday 9.30.13

It's still September, and no- I haven't dropped off the face of the Earth. It just seems like it. Linking into Daphne's Dandelions. (Sorry I missed y'all for so long!)

My harvest? Well they have been many but my brain refused to remind me to take many pictures. The last few weeks I've harvested green beans, (YIPPEE! They're back!) black eyed peas, lady peas (ha, that sounds dirty, doesn't it?) loads of sweet potatoes, a few leeks, some strawberries, (WAHOO!) lemons, limes and... I know there is something I'm forgetting here. Eggs. Yes, eggs. How could I ever forget them?

  The citrus is from the tree that I am treating for "greening disease" Following the protocol of antibiotics and an overabundance of fertilizer this tree did not produce edible fruit last year, but this years fruit is once again edible! I'm shocked but also aware that I am only prolonging the inevitable. I'll lose the tree eventually and if the replant any of the dead groves around me I'll take my tree out so as to not reinfect their new stock. Meanwhile though, I'm enjoying fruit again this year!

The leeks are a few representatives of what I pulled out of the garden over the last couple of weeks. These were destined for stir fry and some soup. I wasn't feeling well this past weekend and soup was just the thing for this Mamma.

Poor Dusty. I miss my little (OK, LARGE) girl. She had gotten down to a single tail feather and one side of her neck feathers were completely replaced already. She was looking rough, but really coming along nicely in her molting process. I think that within just another 10-15 days she would have been completely feathered in except the tail and ready to rejoin the flock again. It was nice to see her turning back to white. It was so strange that her down was grey. I don't know why I didn't think it would be. I have checked her thoroughly for mites time and again but never noticed that. Go figure. See that her feet had completely feathered back out again?

I now know why she passed away. She was murdered. It was an act of carelessness really. I did it, and I feel completely terrible. I didn't realize that her food dish in her isolation pen was holding water. It had rained every day that week, and her food had gotten moldy. I'm a bad chicken Mom. :-( Moldy food can kill a chicken quickly. She didn't act sickly at all. I spent a good hour outside with her as she preened and hunted up some grub the night before and she was acting completely normal so I know she went quickly and didn't suffer, but it still hurts to know I was responsible.

Large eggs this week, and limes, too. The next round of seedlings are almost ready to go into the garden. If the rain will hold off for just a couple days it would be nice. The seedlings tend to do better with a watering rather than our crazy rains when they are first transplanted.
I pulled up a little more than half the sweet potato bed. Remember that this is the half I just harvested last month. I have continually harvested from this bed all year long as I needed them and yet I still had a decent yield. This bed is almost 4' square. After providing spuds all year long it gave me 4 taters that were unusable thanks to the rain (splitting) and 8 pounds of beautiful usable delectable sweet potatoes. These spuds are going to the crock pot to be used this weekend for my Father-In Laws Memorial. Well- for afterward when we all gather together.

Funny how funerals and food go together hand in hand. I guess that it's just a way to comfort ourselves.  We find comfort in each other and in food that we are familiar with. I'm going to put a crushed pecan and brown sugar crust on them. I'm hoping I'm not the only one that finds them soothing and comforting. TO me sweet potatoes always remind me of family coming together for the holidays and this is no exception. It may not be a holiday but we will all be coming together.

The other half of the sweet potato patch will be allowed to continue on until the first frost. The night before I'll go out and yank a few of the vines and keep them in a vase in the kitchen so I will have good starts for the next year. Sometimes I don't even need them!

Well- I think that's it. I'm busy with guests and arrangements and still trying to get the garden ready for those little seedlings. It's going to be a wild couple weeks. Hopefully things will settle down soon.

Be back soon!


Friday, September 27, 2013

It's been a while.

I've been ignoring you. But, It's been on purpose.
September 11th is always a very emotional day. I had plans to come here and post something poignant. Meaningful and heartfelt, but my plans were changed. September 11th now has a new memory for me.
Now instead of thinking of it as the day that America lost the twin towers and we as a country mourned that loss that  changed the lives of so many - now instead it's the day I lost my Father-in Law. I could tell you about the events of that morning and how things went into a tailspin and what all transpired. But, the reality is ... no one wants to truly be faced with their own mortality. Bringing up all that would only make people feel sad.  Instead I'll tell you that he was an amazing man and I've been incredibly lucky to have had him as my Father-in-Law for the last 19 years.  He's always treated me with love and respect my children have had the best Poppi ever!
 It's taken me a few weeks to come back here to this space because I didn't want to bring the negativity back with me that I knew would be inevitable if I came back sooner. To make matters worse my backyard rainbow is now a little dimmer. My flock has been reduced by one. My favorite hen is now gone as well. She passed away this past week. My children have suffered greatly with these two deaths and they (of course) are taking this personally.
So I just wanted to stop in today to jot a note and let you all know I'm alive and well. I just needed to take a mental health break. I'll be back to share on Harvest Monday. My world is still turning, I just got a little turned around in it for a few days.
Be Back Soon

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What remains...

What remains?

What remains of the bees? This remains of the bees.
Soon the Bee Keeper will be(Bee?) Back to vacuum the few stragglers away and take them to the rest of the hive. Speaking of... The hive was much, MUCH larger than anyone realized. Jeff was thrilled to have received such a gift. The hive is very healthy and must have simply been hidden by the vines longer than we realized. Thankfully the vines are easily trimmed and the hive removed. If it had been in the trellis instead... :-( it would not have been as easy and the bees would have been very agitated.

What remains of a molting chicken? Solitary confinement. Not only that, but I don't really have the resources for solitary - so we have improv! I took a beat up old playhouse and made it into something that would do. At least for short term...

Do you normally have to put your hens into solitary confinement? NO! But, see I have mean red that like to pick on her and I came home to a BLOODY hen instead of a bald one. Poor baby. So into the pen she went. Good news is she's so darn concerned about pruning she couldn't care less that she's all alone. It's only been a week and she's already got 4 of her flight feathers back! What a mess she is.
My normally pristine WHITE bird is GREY, and dappled and....balding and....embarrassed!

(now she is running away from the camera)
Below is her normal behavior. Running TOWARD the camera. LOL. What a difference. Look at that sparkling WHITE bird!

 It's hard to believe she is actually grey under all that white and hides it that well! Her face looks gargantuan without any feathers on it, and that tail? Oh, My! She looks like someone has already pre-plucked her for the frying pan. It's a good thing we love her. I can't wait until RED molts. There will be no solitary confinement for her. If she gets picked on, oh well. She deserves it! Mean old biddy! She needs to just be soup, but I can't seem to find the time to do it when the kids aren't around. When the chicks are in the feed stores in spring may just be the time for her to disappear. Then two brand new chicks can take her place. That may just do. LOL.

OH, Did I mention that Dusty is like- Super molter? She's only one week in - half bald (or more) and she LAID AND EGG this week! Yes, only one - but still. Would you? I sure as heck wouldn't! I'd be putting my feet up and telling my people to go lay their own dang eggs!

See you soon!


Monday, September 9, 2013

Harvest Monday 9.9.13

Oh what a Monday it is!
This is definitely the top of my harvest weeks. What I am harvesting today is pure, sheer, genuineness. OK. Maybe not but I sure do wish I had a way to keep what I am harvesting today. BECAUSE today I am harvesting....
Look deep into my foliage....
That's right! Thursday evening or Friday morning a swarm of bees showed up. Today they are still here and they can't be left here. This is at my work and there are far too many people here. People who like bug spray. I'm currently waiting for the Beekeeper to show up. Like I said - I just wish I had a way to keep them for myself. It would be so nice to have these wonderful workers at my house!

I harvested a handful of blackberries while I was working outside this weekend. The other thing I harvested this week was a rogue pomegranate. It was growing on the wrong side of the fence. I didn't even know it existed until I went out front to do some cleaning up in the hibiscus bushes. :-)

I <3 surprises!
I really do, and this weekend I got 2 great ones!
Now, if the corn I sowed would just show up.... WAHHHHH....
See you soon!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tuesday Harvest? 9.3.13

You know when a Holiday falls on a Monday it throws me all kinds of out of whack!
It's like Monday just doesn't exist or something. Don't get me wrong. I'm OK with this fact. It means I've had one less day sitting behind my desk at work. ;-)
This past weeks harvest is kind of important though so I wanted to tell you about it. Not in so much as what I harvested but what I didn't harvest.
My blackberry bushes are forming berries again. The second crop is always much smaller than the first. I'm pretty good with this as it's usually sweeter as well. The larger berries are better for juice/jelly and such but these berries are better for fresh eating.
To wit - this is the only berry I managed to remember to take a picture of. This time of year the stalks are longer and weep closer or even all the way to the ground so it's a fight with the chickens over these if I forget to tie them up before I let the hens out for the afternoon over the weekends.
Not to mention I have to fight with the kids and myself over not just popping them in our mouths and eating them. Actually getting them inside for a picture is a feat in itself. This one got mangled on the way in. Then no one wanted to eat it because it wasn't as pretty. Well - boo hoo to them. It still tasted just as good!
It being September means the sweet potatoes have been in the ground for seven months now and I like to pull them up sometime between September and October. So I rooted around and found a few potatoes. What I found wasn't very encouraging. So I stripped the plants of any formed potatoes. My hope is that if I give the plants another 6 weeks I might have a last round of sweet potatoes to carry me through. What I got out form under the plants? 10 pounds of extremely split sweet potatoes and about 2 and a half pounds of usable ones. I also got a rogue carrot, and a snake skin. LOL. Never know what you'll find in such dense vegetation 'round here!

Split potato in front (vast majority were this way) only usuable ones in back. Snake skin and carrot on table, too. The kids thought it was funny that the little carrot formed. It wasn't bad considering it was a summer carrot. The shade from the heavy foliage must have helped the carrot but it was still rather bitter. Snake looks like a rat snake or garter. Both are very common here.
Last but certainly not least the eggs. This is what my eggs looked like this past week on Friday...

I had been getting 3 every day. Just like usual with a skip by the large bird about once a week, sometimes twice. She's not meant to lay 7 days a week so that's just not a shock there.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday I got 2 eggs a day and this is what the nest looked like:

Oh, my. I guess we know what is going on here. It's just that time of year after all. Thankfully for my birds they are going to be getting naked while it's still quite warm out. I feel bad for the birds up north that get naked when it's so cool at night, and even in the SNOW! BRRRRr..... Yesterday, on Monday? Only one egg. So it looks like egg production is down, feather production is up and my birdies will be looking rather disheveled for a while. I'm hoping it won't take too long. I'm also hoping it will set little Miss red on her rear! She's been pecking on Dusty when she's in the nest box and has managed to pick all of her neck feathers out. It would be good if this helped to change her temperament a little bit. *crossing fingers* If not I'll be buying two chicks in the spring to replace her and while my soup pot will be fat the hen house will get skinny. LOL. Just don't tell the kids. I don't mind them knowing where our food comes from, but these hens are their pets. After all they watch us quarter the hogs and deer. Meat and butchering is not a surprise to them.
Ah, so that was my Labor Day weekend. We enjoyed ourselves, puttered around the garden. Replanted the corn that didn't come up...(Oh, yes that is another post)  This week I'll tear out the squash that just up and died on me. *pout* and the circle of garden life continues on.
See you soon!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Summer is winding down

And when summer winds down do you know what that means?
It means impromptu calls to work that I"m playing hooky for the day. OK, maybe it was planned earlier in the week. But, I still played hooky the last day before school started back up for the kids. I couldn't help it. I wanted to make memories with them. I wanted to take them to a theme park or a water park. Our budget couldn't afford that so I did the next best thing.
We beached it. I took them to one of the best beaches around here. This beach has a little of everything. It's got hiking. It's got rocks, and shells, and sharks teeth. It's got a lagoon, tidal pools, waves and clean clear, cool(ish) water. I love this beach. Best thing? We don't do middle of the day beach. We do first thing in the morning beach. Like it's still kinda cool out and no one is around yet so we get the place to ourselves.
LOVE IT! We got out there around 8am and stayed until a little after lunch. That was the time when everyone started showing up, and that was our cue to leave. But we really had a good time.
Besides having the place to ourselves until the last hour, you wanna know the bestest thing about it?

Well, The really bestest thing was that the little kids were able to play in these deep tidal eddies while the big kids were able to play in those nice big waves behind them, and I could be in either place or relaxing on the sand and see it all.
I think I might have to call in sick tomorrow.
Shhh.. don't tell.
After we got home we found Mr. tortoise here - he's actually a she, but don't tell the girls. He's also a gopher turtle. Anyway he was walking along our sidewalk. He's usually across the street at the park, but this day he came over to the house. He's been hanging out by the blueberries, blackberries and persimmon tree. He tried to dig under the fence a few weeks ago. Luckily he didn't make it. I'm afraid if he had he would have made himself, er...herself right at home. While I really, really love gopher turtles there would be no way to keep this one from destroying my gardens so I'm happy to continue to watch it from across the street.

After the weekend the littles were off to school again. They were willing to let me take a back to school picture. Unlike their big brother.

They say big brothers are a big bother. Sometimes I have to agree with them. Only good news is that he's already had his school picture taken so I'll have that to share sooner or later. :-) hehehe.

Now, would you look at that height difference? It really caught me by surprise just how much they've changed this summer. I know we can't keep them little forever, but can't we just for a while longer?

These two never cease to amaze me, and now that they've been back to school for a week and one has already managed to bring home the first cold of the year (Oh, Joy!) it's just a reminder of how far they've come from the 3 pound infants I brought home almost 7 years ago. It's hard to believe that they lived as such fragile things in a bubble for the first year of their lives. Now look at them. They go out and play and run and make me all sappy just like every other kid in America does to their mother when school starts.

Only difference is this Mom knows it. I know just how amazing these kids are. Even when I want to jump up and down and be the child and throw a fit and turn in my Mom card. When they put me at my wits end just like any other mother of multiples.... I still love their little scrumptious hearts.

Did I mention my big kid is in Driver's Ed this year? ACK!  {8-O  I'm having a heart attack over that. Yes, I know I mentioned it. I will again a hundred times I assure you. I'm more than nervous. I'm an absolute wreck over it. I have just 3 months until I hand my keys over to him....

Having a heart attack....

See you soon!


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I skipped it!

I skipped Harvest Monday this week.

You didn't notice, did you? Busy with your own life and all that jazz? I understand. No, really. I do. I've been super busy myself. So I don't blame you one bit. But one thing that hasn't kept me too busy is harvesting out of my garden. This summer has been a really harsh one for growing fruits and veggies. The normal summer rains have been way out of hand. Even my crops that are usually reliable for Florida summers are not producing well. Bummer.

But, I'm taking solice in the farmers market and making due with what I'm finding there. Besides, I'm still gathering a few goodies here and there from my garden. This week the influx of apples into the market was astonishing. There were new varieties. (Envy was my kids favorite) and with the sudden influx came... the BARGAIN BIN!!!!

So, I set to work on making some homemade applesauce. :-) This is my favorite time of year. I love the applesauce without sugar and my honey loves apple PIE. LOL. I promised a pie next week, but this week was my turn.
Just look at it. The kids love a bunch of cinnamon added to theirs. I don't mind it but I like to add it later otherwise I don't get to have the choice. Weird as it sounds I really like having that choice. I'm thinking I might have control issues. *shrugs*

So needless to say we've been devouring fresh eating apples and applesauce at every meal. Morning noon and night. Good thing we all like apples. :-D

Too bad my apple trees don't give us apples yet. Every year I cross my fingers and so far the biggest apple I've gotten was the size of a silver dollar. *sigh*.  Well, that will change some day. This year I have a new tree, and it really took off. It's well over 8 foot now. This excites me to no end. It makes me wonder though if something is wrong with the other trees!? HA!  The tree that is doing so well is currently residing in a pot on my porch in Florida. It's supposed to be better suited for Alabama, and it was bought with the intention of moving it there this winter when it went dormant. But, now that it's doing so much better than the rest of the trees it's going to be SO hard to give it up! I want some of my own fresh apples - here! Decisions, decisions.

Well, I'll have to figure out the apple thing soon because it's nearly fall. But for now- I'm going to go grab a bowl of this lovely sauce.

See you soon!


Monday, August 19, 2013

Harvest Monday 8.19.13

It's Harvest time, again!

I only have one (not so) little thing to show for harvest Monday this week. One humongous Pomegranate. I still haven't figured out when the best time to harvest these is. The fruit was still good, but I'm quite sure I waited past it's prime. It was still delicious. I'd like to get another softer seeded variety as spitting the seeds gets a little annoying after awhile and I love eating them rather than just using them as juice.
It gave me an entire bowl full of arils. They are not dark red but clear and pink on one end. Quite beautiful in their own right, really. Tasty, too!

Not much else is developing right now. The heavy rains destroyed the first batch of tomatoes that I had chitted and potted up. I'm crossing my fingers this second batch holds on because time is running out for them. I won't be able to start another round by seed and I'll be stuck purchasing them if I want production while it's still hot out.

See you soon!


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

New insects in the garden.

I was out yesterday evening and I was visiting the mint patch to see what was buzzing about. This patch is driving me crazy and the only way I can keep myself from whacking the blooms off and mowing the whole thing down is by visiting it in the evenings when all the insects are visiting. It's gotten rather weedy but the flower heads are attracting flyers by the dozens. Well apparently it's attracting other things, too.

I found this little bugger in the patch last night. It dawned on me afterwards that I probably should have at least collected him if not squished first and asked later. I mean, it is the shape of a sub-adult stink bug and so very few of those are beneficial after all. But, this particular one? I've never seen anything like it before. Beautiful. It is what saved the thing.
UGH... I just know I'm going to wake up next week and find a million of the little nymphs on my plants. :-( I hope I didn't make a bad decision. The only good news is that it was attracted to the mint, and as such it was right on the edge of that patch. It's gotten all weedy so that means it won't be there for long. If it is sub-adult I may luck out at the timing and be mowing when it lays eggs.

This particular night it was time for the thread waisted wasps to visit. I'm going to have to get my good camera out this weekend and see what I can get some photos of. Because these things are fascinating. If you don't know what these wasps are they are a predatory wasp. (WAHOO!!!) I've only seen them once or twice in the 5 years I've been gardening here. But right now they are coming in droves. Why, Oh WHY do I not have tomatoes on my plants right now? I know they'd be safe from worms for a change! This wasp happens to prey on caterpillars in particular it likes great big juicy HORN WORMS and other large cats like army worms and things of that nature. Check it...

See those great big mandibles? Those jaws are meant for grabbing onto and snatching up the cat while she holds onto it with her legs. She actually carries it off to her den where she lays her egg(s) into the creature where it gestates for her. *shudder*

OK enough of the visuals on that part. It's enough to say that the worm that was eating in my garden gets what it deserves and the wasp population carries on.

They are pollen and nectar eaters and are attracted to flowers. Apparently mint is one that they love. *ahem* So while I really want to mow and let the mint regenerate I'll wait a while longer. Perhaps the weeds aren't too bad. Maybe I'll even fight the mosquitoes to go out at night and pull some of the weeds up by hand so I don't disturb the flyers.


They bumped me a few times when I was taking pictures, but at no time were they being aggressive. The kids play out here all the time and unless a ball were to land in the patch I wouldn't worry about them getting stung. In all the time I've had the garden and wasps nests nearby, I've always encouraged the bees and wasps around and the kids have known about them. Only one sting in 5 years to me when I actually grabbed the poor bug and one to Kate when she put her shoe on and there was one inside her shoe. That said I'm in no hurry to mow while they are there both because I love that they are around and I am providing them a place to be and because I have no intention on making them mad and being a target. When I do finally mow it (after I provide them with another source of pollen) I will do so after dusk so that to them it simply disappears.

Oh, the smell. I can't wait to smell it! I think I'll go make some mint tea now. I can't get the thought of the mint out of my head. Maybe I'm part Thread waisted wasp myself. Although the thought of biting a hornworm makes me gag....nope definitely not related.

See you soon!


Monday, August 12, 2013

Harvest Monday 8.12.13

It's Harvest Monday again.

I've decided to take the tally down. I don't keep track of how much I'm bringing in currently so it's pointless really. Maybe I'll put it back up. But, I realized that I never accounted for any of the blueberries, or the potatoes I harvested... much less the sweet potatoes I've harvested. I'm just not good at it. I know I've gathered over a hundred pounds this year. And the most productive time is yet to come. Heck, I had my garden completely out of order for a few months while I created the new beds. (I seriously love my new beds BTW)

SO, news for this week? I had a harvest to show you. I had a lovely bunch of green beans... well I should clarify. Green yard long beans in a bowl waiting to go inside. In the bottom of this bowl I had my cow peas. Pink Eye Purple Hulled and a couple holstein beans. I set the bowl down to go out and trim up the orchid tree where it was rubbing the fence... guess what I had when I came back?

Only the dried or drying cowpeas. All the green type beans for fresh eating were gone! THIEVES! DAB BLASTED... FREAKING FRACKING.... bushy tailed RATS!!!! Now, granted that I went from just trimming that single branch back to all out cutting a third of the tree down as it was encumbering my guava bush and it ended up taking me an hour - but sheesh! I'm guessing this may be part of the reason my harvests have gone down so drastically this summer. Not that I have a lot to harvest, but this was the frist time ever that I've actually been out working and had the critters steal stuff from under my nose. >:-( Grrr...

OK- Onto another interesting development. One of my little lovely fluffy butts has given me a little gift of wonderment. She normally lays eggs that are a plain pale pink but yesterday she gave me one that apparently went in for a second coat in the paint department. What a beautiful egg! I'm not sure I'll be able to bring myself to eat it.... wait a minute. I'm sure I'll get hungry enough at some point, but it will be hard to crack that pretty thing.

Normal above - Yesterdays speckaled job below

 Pretty eggs. Make for a yummy breakfast. Thanks Dusty! She's a great bird. Now that it's getting so close to Fall I'll have to start thinking about ways to preserve some of their eggs. They are all over a year old and likely to stop laying over the winter. (BOOO, HISS!)
 What would I do if I had to pay for eggs?

The main garden was turned under as promised and I sowed out this weekend: corn, roma bush beans, Kentucky wonder beans, pole Violetta, popcorn (different silking by 30 days) and watermelon. Also in the main garden is: Tomatoes - Betterboy, big huskey cherry, bog boy and solstice.
I also have a good 30 tomatoes chitting currently that are mostly determinate type for the high raised bed. These are due to be planted into the first cups today if it doesn't rain and I can get the mix on the way home. I should have a good 10 extra tomatillos if anyone needs some. LOL.

That's all the big news at the moment form this end. Things have been quite in blog land because summer is coming to a close and we have been busy making preparations and finding courses to enroll in. I'll delve more into that in another post since we have a complicated mix here. I hope the Back-to-school preparations are going well in your land, too!

See you soon!


Monday, August 5, 2013

Harvest Monday 8.5.13

It's AUGUST Y'all! I can't believe it. Schools about to start again. That means it's time for the garden to start over again, too. The chickens have been having an absolute hayday out in the garden the last week. It's been open almost entirely to them as I'm ready to rototill it. Well. Not quite, but nearly.
This weeks harvests? Well - More sweet potatoes...
I only harvest what I need each week and leave the roots and tops to continue to produce throughout the year. I don't take out the plants until deep into winter when I need the warmth of the raised planter they are in for the fast growth of my winter crops. This prevents me from having to buy slips or wait for harvest except in early spring. Usually I only have to wait until April for my first sweets, and harvest until late November or December.
 And as promised the picture of the one that was as big as my head...

Stop laughing now. I wasn't kidding. I told you that sucker was huge. Wait until you see the pomegranate that is still hanging on the tree. It's almost as big!
What? Oh? You aren't laughing at how big that sweet tater is? You are laughing at me? Well- laugh on my friends. Laugh on. I can take it.
Though my harvests are strangely lacking this summer I have something else to share - FINALLY. After babying these plants the last few years. I have baby guavas to share!
Can you see them there? They look somewhat like little limes. There are a few on a couple of my bushes. Of course they don't seem to be doing much and my luck the dang squirrels will get them before I do as there aren't many of them. But, I'm just THRILLED that my bushes finally produced the fruit itself. From what I understand this is half the battle. Once the bushes have produced they will produce more and more. Good news for me because at some point I'd like to get some guava jelly in my fridge! There are guava pastries, and guava crepes, guava syrup, guava'd fish and guava well... I don't know what else because I've only ever had it as a jelly or syrup. But I'm excited to try it and while it looks like next year before I'll get enough for any jelly and such at least there is the chance to eat one fresh now! WooHoo!!!! :-D
In other good gardening news, the peanut leaves have opened up. Turns out they just were too wet for too long and needed to dry up a little. I'm going to treat them for fungus to try to head off any nastiness that may ensue from the lengthy wet feet they've had.
I have carrot seed tapes ready to go into 2 squares as soon as I pull those sections so the Fall gardening will be underway shortly!
Linking in to Daphne's Dandelions for Harvest Monday. Be sure to stop by her place to check out what other gardeners are harvesting all over the world!
See you soon!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Harvest Monday 7.29.13

It's the end of July already. It went so fast! I practically blinked and it was over. The peanuts have flowered and sent their pegs into the earth. I'm thinking saving seed wasn't the smart thing. This crop doesn't look very healthy. I don't know if it is the exorbitant amount of rain or the saved seed, but the leaves are not fully opened they seem somewhat stuck together. This is not something I've seen before. Usually I deal with rust, or some other issue like fungus. These plants look somewhat dwarfed because of it.

This weekend was productive. I harvested a pomegranate, a sweet potato the size of my head, and a few others (enough for dinner for all of us one night) and some mulberries. Those were chicken fodder however. It's just too buggy right now to be eating them fresh. I managed to cut the mulberry tree in half and this was a good thing. I didn't chop the top half off of it, I trimmed off all the crazy limbs that were taking over the sandbox and neighboring apple tree. Now we can see out of our dining room window again to watch the kiddos play. It's truly amazing how much that tree grows every summer. It quite literally gets chopped in half in the spring and again in the late summer. The best news is that this heavy pruning spurs on the best mulberry crops. In about 8 weeks I'll be so happy I did this. :-)

I also managed to pull out 2 small beds of summer crops to ready them for the Fall crops. One was planted with the first set of 5 tomatoes and 2 tomatillos. The other will be for a second crop of limas. The first crop isn't fairing well and will be replaced. Fordhook does not give a second crop here the way that Eastland does so after I use the rest of this seed it will not be saved nor bought again. I wish I could grow pole limas here there are 2 varieties I understand do exceptionally well in our heat and humidity. I think next year I'll try anyway. I do have one small trellis to try with.

The Avocados that are in the garden beds got trimmed up as well. Not a hard pruning like the mulberry. I wouldn't want to stress those trees out, but just the few bottom branches needed trimmed up to let in more light and not to interfere with the blueberries new growth. While I had out the shears I hacked away the orchid tree that hangs over the privacy fence. I found that the newest orchid tree is different from the others. This is something to be celebrated. I'm praying it's not going to be dropping those blasted seeds into my garden like the mature one that we already have does now. If the hummingbirds didn't love it so much and it was so beautiful for months I would have chopped it down years ago. The new flowers are much skinnier and CORAL colored! If the white blooms attracted the hummers, I can't imagine how much the coral ones will!
So, that was my excitement for the weekend. Unfortunately I don't have any other pictures. I only have this one because I got the flower in the house on Friday night. Otherwise I would have missed it, too. After all dirty hands make it hard to take photos. LOL.
Hopefully I'll remember to get pictures of the pomegranate before I eat it. ;-)
See you soon!