Thursday, July 29, 2010

Farmers Worry

Farmers only worry during the growing season, but towns people worry all the time. ~ Edgar Watson Howe

I don't know if I believe that.  I think farmers worry all the time, weather, finances, crops, birthing etc.  Right now my worry has been the weather.  So far we rank as the second hottest July on record, coming in with an average of 88 degrees per day.  They saw August will follow suit.  I can't stand it.  It is not normal for this area and is sparking even worse weather.

After several tornado warnings last Wednesday and then a couple of heavy down pours I thought it would have helped the garden.  However Thursday while I was digging holes in the lawn for the 8 foot arbovitaes that the man brought home, I was shaking the dirt out of the grass roots like it was sand.

And then came Friday.  We had a nice steady rain in the morning and temps were wonderful.  I made blueberry jam and blackberry jam..  Later in the evening as we were on our way out to dinner, tornado warnings were once again flashing across the TV screen.  We came home to no electric because while we were gone a tornado did hit the area.  We were spared but across the river wasn't.
We got our electric back early Saturday morning.  We had a wedding to go to that day.  I called the mother of the bride (that lives on the other side of the river).  They had no electric nor did the facilities the reception was to be held at.  But everyone came together, generators were put to use and the wedding went on without a hitch.  It was beautiful.  They finally got electric that night.
Sunday we went shopping and bought all the lumber for a front deck.  The man started working on that while I worked in the garden a little bit. 

Monday was spent making three batches of bread & butter pickles, a batch of apple/blackberry jelly, strawberry jam, apple/blackberry/currant jelly and I did a batch of green beans. 

Tuesday it was still cool in the morning so I baked two cream puff cakes and started painting my bathroom.  It was not the best day to paint.  The temperature might have been lower but it was still very humid. 

Wednesday, #2 daughter left to go to Hershey and will return tonight.  I got to work on the deluge of summer squash.  I made ranch flavored zucchini chips which aren't bad but next time I will take the skins off.  I have twelve zcchini to deal with today.  I have to shred some for bread this winter and I am going to try more chips.

With help from the hose, the garden keeps producing.  Part of me wants to say it is a good gardening year because so far everything looks okay.  Hopefully the recent rains won't make the tomatoes or cabbages split.  I have lots of plans for all the tomatoes, I just need them to ripen.  I have planted some seeds for  fall crops which I normally don't do so we are ignoring the leaves changing color already.  I am blaming that on the lack of rain instead of an early fall and hope that the seeds I planted will produce.

Even while knitting or spinning my mind is on the weather, gardening or canning.  I guess I haven't gone over the ledge yet though since I don't have the Weather Channel on continously. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Gardener's Ecstasy

It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato. ~Lewis Grizzard
Yesterday's heat and humidity failed to exist while I consumed my lunch.  It was nirvana, toast, mayo, a little s&p and a sun kissed globe of decadence.  Juice ran down my arms, mayo collected at the corners of my mouth and I was totally oblivious.  But like all good things it came to an end.  I tried to make it last a little longer by licking every drip of goodness from my fingers but then I was right back in the oppressive mugginess. 

In the last 30 days we have had 21 days above average temperatures...14 of them were 85+.  Sixty two percent of the state is abnormally dry.  For our area they say we are almost 6 inches below our normal rainfall.  Work in the garden is done in the early morning before the sun hits it or in the evening when the sun has gone behind the mountains.  Sometimes there is a lot to be said about living in the valley. 

This morning it is starting out at 70 but with 97% humidity.  Another muggy day in the making.  We had Floridian company who thought our weather was wonderful.  I could not live with this all the time.

I have pulled out the thin kohlrabi and planted fall broccoli.  I pulled out a row of pea's and today I will plant some beets, turnips and parsnips.

The zucchini is starting to get obnoxious and soon I will pull that to allow the other squash some growing room.  I have frozen it, fried it, grilled it, made relish and given it away so that's enough.  The cucumbers so far have just been immediately eaten or turned into a gallon jug of refrigerator dill pickles.  My dill heads are about the size of large dinner plates so I have to get moving on the dill pickles in the crock.

So far I am very pleased with the garden.  The fruit is another matter.  As Cyndi expected the birds got my cherries and they are working their way through my blackberries.  The elderberries are green but are disappearing at an alarming rate.  It does not help that I have a 12 hole bird condominium right on the corner of the garden.  It was put there for bug patrol not fruit demolition.  Next year everything will have to be netted.
Today #2 son starts weight lifting twice a week until August 2nd and then football practice is nightly.  Starting the 14th he will be at the field from 7 AM until 6 at night.  It is 56 miles added to my car each day but it keeps his grades up so I am okay with that since he tends to think homework is a waste of time.

In fiber, I finished a third Bella hat, made two pair of fingerless mitts with my multi-color dyed yarn and I am about to finish a textured stocking.  I know this will get put in the back ground because canning season is now beginning in earnest.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Julia Child I am Not

You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces - just good food from fresh ingredients. ~ Julia Child

While I in no way, shape or form cook anything remotely close to Julia Child I do love me some fresh picked right out of the garden food.

The kids are gone this weekend and the garden started to shine.  The man and I cooked dinner together which hasn't happened in a long time.  We ended up with freshly dug baby potatoes, our freshly picked cumcumbers sliced with sour cream and dill, our freshly picked green and wax beans, our freshly picked and then fried zucchini  with homemade peppercorn ranch dressing and pork from last falls pig. The only thing we didn't produce was the flour, mayonaisse, peppercorns and sour cream.
By the time I was done eating the vegetables I was too stuffed to eat the meat.  Even the man, a diehard carnivore, finished his veges before his meat!

It was no culinary masterpiece and was far from healthy with the dressings and frying but it was utterly delicious.  I look forward to many weeks of fresh vege's on my plate...and even more so to a freshly picked tomato sandwich.  Patience is a virtue, my mother always said.

Friday, July 09, 2010

The Gardener's Morning

The robin's song at daybreak
Is a clarion call to me.
Get up and get out in the garden,
For the morning hours flee.
I cannot resist the summons,
What earnest gardener could?
For the golden hours of morning
Get into the gardener's blood.
The magic spell is upon me,
I'm glad that I did not wait;
For life's at its best in the morning,
As you pass through the garden gate.
- Howard Dolf

With the temperatures reaching 90+ each day I have had no ambition to go into the garden other than in the mornings.  I pull a weed here and there, check for bugs and dispense punishment up on the bad ones.  Then if it looks like it needs watering I turn on the sprinklers and go back inside for a while.  I water in the early morning because I do not want to get late blight again.  There have been several cases of it in PA and NY.  I planted in a newly plowed section, started all my own tomatoes, bought seed potatoes, mulched shortly after planting and today I pulled two plants because their leaves were yellowing and one tomato on it looked like it had a bruised area.  They were the only Sheboygan tomato plants I had.  They did not show spots or have lesions on the stems but out them came.  Call me paranoid but tomatoes and potatoes are a huge part of my garden.

Spring in the garden is rewarding because the newly tilled earth is a blank canvas, like a blank piece of paper to a writer it holds endless possiblities.  Summer in the garden is rewarding because you can go out and pick whatever is producing and plan your evening meal around it.  Of course when it is really coming in you get to can it for many meals to come. 

Today's haul was some kohlrabi, squash, pea's, a duck egg, and some chicken eggs.  As it is just the man and I tonight I am going to freeze the kohlrabi and squash. 
Hopefully it cools off a little because next week the garden is going to explode.  The beans are loaded and so are the cucumbers so I know there will be some canning going on.  Till then I will continue to knit.  I finished another hat that looks like Bella's from the Twilight series and I have another on the needles. 

I was going to keep making them for #2's friends but then I got an email saying there was a new Knitty. There were a few things that caught my attention so her friends might be out of luck!

I hope everyone has a great weekend.  Stay cool.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Earth is here so kind, that just tickle her with a hoe and she laughs with a harvest. ~ Douglas William Jerrold

We spent the weekend with family, friends and food. It was wonderful.  Saturday while the man was working I ran for feed.  #1 daughter, Sir T and #2 son went fishing.  We spent the rest of the day working around the house and Sir T treated us to pizza for dinner.

Sunday while #1 and I were cooking/baking in anticipation of going to a BBQ at my friend R's house, the guys and #2 son picked currants.  I weighed them and they brought in 10.12 pounds.  I have froze them until the heat wave we are in dissipaits a little. 

After they filled themselves at the BBQ the guys took the kids  fishing and my brother caughter a huge catfish.  The man cooks up some good catfish so he cleaned it and put it in the fridge.  We opted out of fireworks due to the heat and traffic.  Our town will have a fireworks display during its fair so we will see them then.  We finished the evening with coconut pound cake covered in strawberries and homemade whip cream.  Yummy!!!!

Monday we all slept in a little.  It was a wonderful slow day.  As lunch time approached the man started preparing the fish. I must say I love it when someone else cooks, but I would love it more if they also cleaned up afterwards.  We vacuumed the cars then decided to go swimming to cool of a little.  As we are in the water an eagle flies over, then starts circling and swoops down and grabs a fish out of the water on the opposite side of the river from us....not 50 feet away.  And where was my home again!  But what an awesome site.  Two more eagles were flying around but they never got that close again. 

When we got back to the house #1 and Sir T packed up for the ride home.  After sending them off the man and I got ready to go to a friends house for an early dinner.  Steak, shrimp, corn on the cob, potato salad...I am liking this other people cooking alot!!!  We came home about 9.  I called R and she drove over to drop off #2 daughter who had been spending the day with her kids.  While they watched tv we sat outside drinking  a very relaxing white russian made with homemade kahlua.  Relaxed me enough that I came in after they left and went right to bed.

But today is the start of the work week and the man left at 6:30 for his daily grind.  I watered 1/2 the garden yesterday morning and the other 1/2 is getting a soaking now.  I picked a couple of pea's and two kohlrabi....the harvest is starting. 
Before now it was only lettuce and herbs.  Not that I won't enjoy the chamomile or mint tea later or the didn't enjoy the basil prunings in bruschetta because I did, but I have been looking forward to something more substantial.  Today's peas and kohlrabi are just the tip of the iceberg if all goes well.  The yellow squash and zucchini will be pickable by the end of the week and the beans should follow by early next week at the latest.  The tomatoes will follow soon after.  The potatoes are blooming and I have thought of digging down and getting some small taters but have resisted the urge.

Just in case you think it was all food this weekend, there was also fiber.  I finished a "Bella" hat for #2 daughter but I over estimated my rows and there are not enough color repeats so I  have to make another.  I also plied the yarn I spun on the electric spinner.  I need more practice but I have more roving so now it is just taking the time.

The heat wave is suppose to be leaving (if you consider dropping down to 85 leaving) by the weekend.  Until then it is putting things in the freezer to be dealt with later, swimming in the river and watering the garden so I can reap some of what I have sown.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy 4th of July

How often we fail to realize our good fortune in living in a country where happiness is more than a lack of tragedy. ~Paul Sweeney

Planning for a wonderful 4th.  BBQ with friends and family and then fireworks tonight.  As #1 daughter and I are getting food ready while the guys and kids are picking currants.  I decided I couldn't let them go to waste.  They just returned with about a gallon bucket of them so I have to figure out what I am going to do with them.  For now they will get washed and put in the fridge until tomorrow.

Hope everyone has a wonderful safe holiday and remember those that gave us this day.