Homestead Pantry

  (Cashtown, Pennsylvania)
Grow Naturally with Care,...from our homestead pantry to yours!
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2013 Winding Down

As 2013 begins winding down we begin to look back over the past year and re-evaluate our efforts and achievements.  The fact is that time and resources are limited, and we all have to make choices.  Thus decisions must be made as to what we will continue to offer and what will be let go by the wayside due to lack of customer interest.  When our customers don't support our efforts or one or more of our products we have to drop some in favor of directing our best efforts toward our products which our customers have indicated they want offered by purchasing them regularly---from us.  Will we continue to raise the heritage breeds of livestock which are in danger of going extinct?  We can not do it without you our customer purchasing our products and sending new customers to us by word of mouth referrals.  Our ability to help preserve rare and endangered breeds of livestock are directly supported by our customer sales.  No sales means goodbye piggie, or  bunny, or ...you get the drift. 

 

For the coming New Year I'd like to hear from you.  What do you want to buy direct from the farm?  How often, and in what amounts?  Do you want to come pick up at the farm or do you want us to deliver to your home, or even just along our errand routes? Keep in mind we raise our stock as naturally as possible, and protect them from predation of all kinds using naturally raised Maremma livestock protection teams.   If you know of a small or large farmer or homesteader suffering from predation you'll do both of us a great service in letting them know about us.  We specialize in providing proven experienced lgd's to those in a current predation situation.  Help us save family farms.  Let us know what you want us to grow for your family,...grown naturally with care...from our pantry to yours.

 
 

Month's End

Well here we are again at another month's end this time it's the end of August.  I really thought we'd have more of everything than has turned out.  Our squash has been abundant but slow to come to fruition, and not burying us as we were afraid it would back when we set out so many flats of squash plants, back in June.  With increased precipitation they are speeding up so now the backache issues are in control we can get after the waterlines we took up,  

 The green beans have been just fabulous and fabulously abundant as have been the elderberries.  The elderberries are winding down now so if you haven't gotten yours yet the time is nearly past.  I was thrilled with the size of each umbrel this year, and the berries themselves are larger than usual, though very late this year.  

Potatoes are starting to be dug, and we have a good selection this fall.  The sweet potatoes have not yet been checked but they've been mostly mulched and had many short rainfalls so they should be really nice this year.  I'm just saving that surprise till I need a 'pickmeup'. 

 This is my favorite time of year, the time when the garden begins to really crank out production, and we enjoy the higher plane of nutrition found only in home grown organically raised foods. 

 Buy busy days are here so this is short and sweet, ...

don't forget to eat fresh, eat local, and stay healthy until once again we meet!

 
 

Hello again,...

Hello again, it's been a long while.  I notice that I neglected to save and publish my last entry before the Big Backache.  <sigh>  Well, spring was very late this year, having two days back to back in two weeks back to back of freezing weather sure knocked the garden back. Things are so late this year.  I hope we have a late first frost, Our garden looks lovely but when the temps soar, blossoms drop which means no production.  Now that the temps are cooler the summer garden should take off and the fall garden can germinate and take off. 

We're counting down the days to bacon and sausage.  Our gilts farrowed and are raising two litters, with another litter due soon.  We'll be weaning the first litter next week or so.  We're weaning the second litter next month. 

They've been raised on ground feed, pasture, and whey from our cheese making daily or at least every other day.  It's really funny to see how soon after birth they start using their tiny little rooters!  We really love the Berkshires, the moms are gentle even with babies, and the babies are calm and easy to pick up, don't squeal bloody murder and make mom and the whole herd go crazy.  They say the meat tastes better than other breeds, so I wonder if that's the connection.  Calmer animals are said to taste better and be more nutritious.

They sure are good at clearing brush!

Well, I have to get out there in it, and get up from this computer.  I'll take it easy, though, so I don't end up flat on my back again, and come back here sooner next time.

Meantime,...eat well, eat real!

 


 
 

Blowing It.

Well we blew it today, the wind was still nasty and we didn't get much done outside.  The cheese pot is going again, though.  I pulled the cultures out of the fridge and started fresh cultures.  Tomorrow we will set up some cheese.  It's nice to have the milk available to make cheese again.  It's hard to know which kind I want to make first!

I went out to see if I could get anymore strawberry plants tucked in for the winter but it was too windy.  I was in a bad mood anyway, having found out on my way to the garden that the silly young dog had stolen from us again.  Yesterday his granny gave him a good whoopin' for stealing Little Miss Muffet's big floppy yellow straw hat with the big purple flower on it...said hat is now sans big beautiful purple flower.  <growl>  Going out I found two T-shirts, a tennis shoe, a small child's shoe that was in a bag to go to the shelter, and my horse's winter blanket.  The blanket was destroyed.  It had the stuffin's chewed out of it.  Bad Dog!  Where was GrannyDog when Bratpup was doin' that dastardly deed??

 So, to bring a happier note into this post, we'll get on our way to the garden.  The peppers are still lovin' it in our greenhouse, they are even blooming again.  The herbs in there are doing well, those that weren't smooshed by the heavy wet snow collapsing part of the greenhouse down on them. So we'll see how long they last but likely I will need to be pickin' peppers again soon.  Dr. Noel Falk told a caller on his program today that lettuces and other vegetables wouldn't do well in a greenhouse, that they wouldn't get enough light unless you hung a powerful light, and that would use so much electricity that it would not be worth the expense.  Well, he needs to have a talk with my lettuces.  They came up after we put up the greenhouse plastic and they are doing very well.  Don't remember what the one is, but the other is an oak leaf lettuce. 

 Still growling about the horse blanket, I went back into the house for some fiber therapy.  I finished spinning up the angora bunny wool I had carded out for sock knitting, and started to hang a picot hem on the sock machine.  I then realized it was too dark and the light was not bright enough to really help.  Nor was the flashlight, held in my mouth, helping me enough after I worked my way around about halfway.  Guess the batteries needed recharged, so I shut it off, set the cultures in a cooler to incubate, put the lid on the jelly, and shut off the lights. 

 So good night, sleep tight, and be sure to eat fresh.

 
 

Strawberries in the Sunshine

Today we're cleaning out the strawberry beds, and transplanting them to the greenhouses' beds.  These plants have grown amazingly well despite the tough growing conditions this past summer.  The May floodgates closed, then two weeks later we had a scant half inch of rain, and then late July we had a scant 3/4 inch, (really pushing it on that one!) and that was it until Irene opened the floodgates again.  We had nary a dry day from that point on, it seemed.  Oh, there were dry days but not enough.  All this moisture coupled with the warm temperatures grew our gardens like crazy.  The pole beans took off like a tropical rain forest, as did every blessed vegetable out there---except the tomatoes.  They just turned black and died.

Our sweet peppers are lovin' hangin' out in the greenhouses with a couple of tomatoes, some herbs and  the brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli transplants.  Despite several very frosty nights and days too, they are lookin' good and still producing.  Amazing.  A little sunshine makes the greenhouse quite tropical. 

 The sweet potatoes made a huge crop, we're going to be digging up some more of them today, too.  We've already baked a couple of fall harvest pies, combining our goat milk cream cheese, sweet potatoes, immature punkins, and tahitian neck punkin's.  Mmm-mm delicious!

Update on Andromeda:  She went to guard chickens and goats in Virginia, her sister went to another farm in Virginia to guard chickens, and her other sister went to New York to guard sheep in partnership with an aging Maremma male.  Her brother Picasso is proving his worth here on the homestead.  More on him later, gotta get back to those strawberry beds before the sun goes down!  After that we have to get on the road to be onsite for a barn raisin'!

 
 

Sprung Spring

It's been awhile since I last visited, since spring sprung with such a vengeance we have been running as fast as we could to keep up. The first round of chicks graduated from the new little brooder house right to the freezer, our happy tummies, and to our happy lgd puppy's chicken/turkey/guinea tractor in the pasture.  Even though we've been raising this breed of lgd (livestock guardian dog or predator control dog) it seems that every litter has a star or two or even more, that find a new and creative way to amaze me.  This one adores her babies and will not let any other animals near them.  Larger poultry are allowed near them but not too near, and definitely they are not allowed to eat her babies' feed up from them!  Our biggest challenge is keeping her out of the tractor.  One, being that she's a puppy I expect her to make mistakes.  Usually that entails death, mayhem and destruction though innocent young pups have no way of realizing it could happen from just having fun with her babies, or trying to redirect them when they make mistakes and get out of their tractor.  So far she has been almost perfect but we just can't expect that to last.  She's only a baby herself, after all. 

Her babies include some white crested black polish, and they are sure cute.  The pasture rings with their singsong calls, from both turkey and guinea.  It's a wonderful sight to open the tractor door, let them all come out each morning.  They come flying out on both sides of me with a whoosh! They go only as far as the pile of feed I had placed there to distract them and keep them near yet allow me space and time to move their tractor to fresh grass.

 Our dairy goats did well for us this spring, with twins and triplets, mostly.   One first time mom delivered a tiny single!  Interestingly enough, she herself was a very tiny singleton when she was born three years ago!  One saanen doe adopted the two orphan lambs just in time to release us from bottle duty so we were able to visit a fiber festival without having to smuggle bottle babies along with us so they could be fed. 

We sheared all but two of our sheep and two of our alpaca so far, but don't worry, they're on the TODO LIST.  Which happens to be at least as long as my leg! 

 The garden is growing right along, despite a sorry lack of rain.  We had only a half inch in the past three weeks!  Watering hoses were made for just such weather, I guess.  The tomatoes are blooming this week and setting on a fine crop of Brandywines, among others. 

Late as it is, I had best add only one or two more items.  We continue to find and collect newly hatched ducklings and put them in the duckling greenhouse.  The two week old crop has moved out to the pasture with the geese.  What a wonderful sight to see all those baby ducks and geese surrounding the three adult geese!  I can't thank our predator control crew nearly enough for their constant vigilance that makes all this possible.

 Finally, this evening we returned from our 'shopping trip' with three heifer calves and a nubian buckling to raise on our extra goat milk.  I guess we didn't think it was enough to make cheese!  So our nearly 9 weeks old dairy goat kids are facing a serious reduction in their milk supply!

Until next time, eat fresh, eat raw, eat well!

 


 


 
 

All Cooped Up!

Today we worked on the brooder house/coop.  Again.  This has been an awfully long, ongoing project for the size of coop it is, but that happens when you're training your workforce as you construct, and when those happy hens keep interrupting you!  If they weren't traipsing in to inspect the progress of the construction they were yelling at us from afar, calling us to come hunt eggs!  I have been hearing one somewhere around the landing zone (for those giant sized rolls of hay or straw when winter's grip prevents us from getting them all the way to the barn.)  However, I have some hearing loss in one ear due to an ear infection in '06, and that makes it hard to locate the direction sometimes, particularly when they are far away.  Finally this evening, when the boys were taking off the topper, they found the nest!  There were at least three hens contributing to it and altogether there were 14 eggs!  One egg was a deep dark brick red color.  I'd say we're ready for Easter, since the oldest daughter found green ones in her part of the barnyard.

I'll try to remember to bring the camera with me the next time I visit to blog, so that I can post some of the progress.  We're ready for the siding, trim, and now to find some wheels or a wagon gear suitable for a 6x8 chick coop.  They moved in already today, and they were sure comfortable!  Even this evening as things were cooling down, I looked in and they were sitting all around, ducklings back in the shadowy corner, and only a handful of chicks directly under the brooder light itself.  

This go-round is small thanks to our brooder house blowing away the beginning of the month.  We are feeding this run regular starter for the first bag, but the second bag I made sure to get gamebird feed, which has no antibiotics since they can't handle it.  We're raising ducklings with them so we can't feed the kind that has antibiotics anyway.  However, after we finally gave up and the chicks arrived, we did find a source for organic feed but boy was it expensive! 

 The first garden bed is covered with greenhouse plastic, and we'll begin working on that greenhouse tomorrow, if the rain holds off long enough.  I have to remember to call and make an appointment for the beef as our freezer is running pretty low.

That's all I can stay up to write for now, so until next time, stay healthy, eat fresh!

 
 

Goundhog Dodges the BBQ!

We were very cross with Phil and all his relative groundhogs here at the homestead, and vowed to team up with our predator control partner, Gazelle, to wreak vengeance upon Puxatawny Phil and all his kin.  We just did not like the weather that hit us, that's all there was to it.  Luckily for the groundhogs, the bad weather, a couple of other issues, and the two college students' schedules kept us mostly too busy to take time from chores for vengeance-wreaking activities.  Now that spring seems to have sprung, we're all much more cheerful and need I say busy?  However, we do feel it was so beyond unnecessary for that nasty wind of last weekend that blew our brooder house end over end and over the perimeter fence!  Luckily we had not gotten the first chick order of the year in yet so there just wasn't the planned 200 cornish white rocks and 25 layer pullets that would have otherwise been in there and a month along. 

With that in mind, our first pastured poultry run was much smaller than planned so we will have to do another one in about a week to fill all the orders from homestead clients, family, friends and not to mention the egg orders that keep streaming in.  Our cartons of multicolored eggs are gaining a following that is going to require a few more hens to keep them all happy!

Without a brooder house, how do we manage, you might ask?  Well since it's Saturday now, the kids are all out there working to finish the brooder house that was started.  Meanwhile, the F250 seems to be filling in quite nicely.  There is actually plenty of room for a lot more chicks in there and when the brooder house is done we will add chicks but for now I want my wheels back!

The maple sap is running almost faster than two Terrible Teens can keep up, and the smaller wood burner is just not cutting it.  We need a larger wood stove and a larger more shallow pan for boiling maple sap! The yellow bellied sap sucker came along and made a few holes in the maple tree outside my bedroom window.  The hole he left behind allowed sap to run freely, which clued me into the timing for jugging the trees this year.  We've been boiling sap now for over a week.  The waffles are sure special with fresh boiled syrup!  We now cheer when we hear that the night temps are going to be freezing or lower, and the next day over freezing, because we know that the next day will bring a lovely huge surge of sap for our boiler!  Can you even have too much maple syrup?

 We also saw honeybees flying that first day that the temps shot over 50 degrees F so a trip to the orchards' beehives are in order to check on the welfare of the overwintering hives.  They have flown several days now, and with the yellow bellied sap suckers making holes in maples up where terrible teens fear to tap, likely the honeybees are enjoying the largess and will be just fine if they've made it this long. 

Thanks to terrible weather every day we had available to work outside this past fall and winter, our greenhouses are not yet up and running.  That's next on the agenda, along with perimeter fencing.  Anyone out there interested in joining in for a brooder raisin', fence raisin' or a greenhouse raisin' along the lines of an old fashioned barn raisin'?

Until next time, eat fresh, eat well!

 


 
 

Break's Over!

I'm glad to be back here.  It's been awhile since I posted due to having been in the 'loving arms' of the medical community for a couple of months.  After many rounds of tests and doctor's visits...big insurance dollars, (did I need to mention?)...turned out it was nothing after all.  Hum.  Sweet system, wonder if my CSA could utilize something similar? 

So we are still alive here and expect to stay that way for some time to come.  To update you on our CSA current events I will just mention that we are now taking orders for ground rabbit sausage and will post new items as they become available though winter's grip has tightened with some cruel cold temperatures that remain low throughout the day and night.  

We started a tanning vat a couple of weeks ago, before we heard the temperatures were forecast to drop so low.  The furs look so beautiful on the animals that it's a shame to waste them for lack of time or skills.  I had spoken with the tannery nearby but they said they could not guarantee that the rabbit furs would not disintegrate in the vats, and they required payment up front.  The charge for the cowhides was $950.  When asked how that could possibly be affordable, I was assured that I could sell them on ebay.  She said she had seen one selling for $750 the previous week!  Wow.  So we decided to check out DIY tanning articles and try out a few of those recipes.  More info on this once the temps warm enough for us to see what we have out there! Let me know if you want to learn how to do this.

 Fiberarts and garden planning are the top activities of the week around this Homestead.  Two activities that can be done near a warm fire with a hot cuppa!  Contact me for details about when and where we can meet up to sit and spin, knit or just plan for spring.  I for one am planning for a much shorter winter and an earlier spring than last year.

Until next time, be well, eat as fresh as you can for the season.

 
 

Busy as Bees

What a week!  We have been picking green beans, then hauling and pushing green beans at area markets.  It's about the end of it all now, until they dry and then we will see about shelled beans!  

 We have started a remodel of a rabbitry, to meet increased market demands. Lighting needs improving for winter so we will be looking for information as to the optimum light level in order to avoid wasting electricity by using a higher level of light than necessary.  Poultry need 14 hours of light a day to lay well, and rabbits as well as goats breed better depending on the length of the daylight in any given season.  We are looking into providing the electricity with a solar panel array as we consider going off-grid. As I informed the school district board member complaining about the money he says public cyber charter schools cost the school district, it's all about customer satisfaction.  If you don't provide it as part of your service, you can expect to see your customers flocking away.  I could tell that the public school systems' board meetings had never before discussed such a radical concept as customer satisfaction. Well, we feel that the electric company is getting too greedy so we are preparing to meet our needs as well as those of our customers that want more rabbit.  Since we help two rabbitries market their rabbit meat we find ourselves busy helping them develop better facilities for their rabbits as well as develop systems that save them money while better meeting the needs of the animals.

We finished stage one of the new Chicken Run and have materials laid out for stage two.  They chickens are already 'running' in stage one.  The garden is much safer now.  So nowadays my porch *is* painted, but this time it is actually paint, as the DH ran over my bucket of hive body paint, and the dog tracked it all over the porch.  At least it's not cowpile green!

We have begun bringing in and collecting the new mudroom/workroom project materials, but it is on the same priority as the greenhouse and hotbeds!  I was really hoping to be able to begin wool processing and fiber arts lessons in the workshop by now, so yes, we are a bit behind  schedule.

School is really full bore now so lots less help around the homestead these days.  We could really use one or two good homesteadin' apprentices.  Luckily the hive removal last week was one that could be done after dark so I had help with that job.  Most of the work is just routine nailing and a little post driving, with stage two of the Chicken Run, stage three will require a few post holes be hand dug.

Speaking of digging, I just remembered that the Jerusalem artichokes are probably about ready to dig, and there are a couple of beds of potatoes up there that need digging up as well.  Oddly enough, I first thought of it last week when I was at a friend's homestead.  His Jerusalem artichokes were just now in bloom!  He said that livestock enjoy eating them, too, so I will see about that as I have a lot of them out there this year.

 Until next time, eat fresh, eat well, be well.


 
 

Going Out With a Bang

Last evening we went to the Crossroads Restaurant located near Cashtown, Pennsylvania, for dinner and to catch the end of a Knit N Spin Out evening.  Arriving there later than normal due to some unexpected events, we were greeted by our waitress with the information that they were out of some items on the menu, due to it being their last night to be open.  As we sat down and looked out the window opposite from where we had entered the restaurant, we noticed that the sign made the announcement clear, had we approached from that direction or entered from that side of the dining room.  We had fish sandwiches, generously sized fish portions served on generous Kaiser rolls, with all the works.  The tables were all full of diners on this the last night, right up till closing time.  The owner greeted the late arrivals stating that they were going out with a bang.  It had been a good day.  

The atmosphere was uncharacteristically solemn.  Usually we could barely hear ourselves when the tables were all full as they were this evening.  Not tonight, ...tonight it was very quiet as patrons ate their meals for the last time, and quietly paid their tabs for the last time.

We will miss this tiny restaurant, which included a general store offering convenience store items like milk, eggs, and ice cream.  Our homestead social group will miss having their venue available on Friday nights, too. Following the unexpectedly tragic death of the owner/husband/father of two small girls this past June, so many of us in the local community had been pulling for this family, hoping against hope that they could continue to stay open through these rocky times, and that they could then prosper.  Sadly, it was not to be,...instead it is a prime example of what happens when you don't support your most basic local businesses such as small family restaurants and yes, small family farms. Like the window decal says,..."Support your local farmer...or watch the houses grow!"

Please let me know if you have any suggestions for where we can hold our get-togethers in future. 

Until next time,...support your local farmer,...eat well, ...eat fresh, ...be well.

 
 

Slow Day, Slow Food

Twas a slow day on Homestead Springsberry.  Since we had the two oldest off to college all day, I took advantage of the peace and quiet to 'rest' while I did a couple loads of laundry, finished a book, and we prepared a nice dinner.  You know,...the kind of 'dinner' you hold shortly after noon.

I had put a chicken on the grill/smoker the night before and brought it out this morning to finish cooking it in the oven.  It was one of our pastured poultry jumbo cornish from the freezer--- vintage 2009.  It could only be described as deee-lectable and most likely that specific taste is unrepeatable!  Evan had split some shavers of tulip poplar wood, I had put several freshly picked maple branchlets in there, too.  The smokey flavor was unspeakably delicious in both smell and finally in taste.  We had broccoli, cauliflower, Rice a la Little Miss Muffet, and an extremely yummy fruit salad also a la Little Miss Muffet. She used some cantaloupe from our garden, some oranges from the store, ( I still haven't figure out how to grow orange trees here!) and some honey crisp apples from another local farmer.  She bathed that in a cream cheese style sweet sauce from our homestead dairy goats.  She's getting pretty darn good with these things.

My day felt incomplete because I never did find the missing page of my favorite cookbook.  Patchwork Relish is apparently not available on the worldwide web.  My ingredients still sit on the counter.  I have put out a call for help finding it to one of my puttin' by email groups.  With luck, someone else will have this book, too.

We finished up the day by working in the garden a bit, and by setting up a few T-post corners in preparation for building a new chicken paddock. When I put away the evening milking production, I realized it will be a busy day tomorrow, between trying to finish up the new chicken range, working in the garden, arranging for grain from a local farmer, and let's not forget the fridge overfloweth so I must make some kind of cheese tomorrow, too.  I should best decide which, and set it to ripen overnight. 

Until next time...ya'll eat fresh, ya'll eat well.

 
 

Monday Honeybee Runs

This morning was sort of productive, we had another big pot of milk to make into cheese or yogurt, so I started 5 gallons of yogurt, and a two gallon pot of apple mint to make into apple mint jelly.  This was supposed to be Laundry Day Monday but I had a bee run call and turned everything off to head out to identify a feral bee problem.  From the homeowners' fearful description it really did sound like honeybees.  When I got there, it only took me a couple of seconds to identify them as yellow jackets!  What a waste.  I'm really going to have to ask for a small fee to cover my gas to do these runs.  Our two college kids need some text books, so I can't afford to spend anymore gas money on free services.  Yes, my friend, Marianne, I really am going to start charging for the services provided!

 We went to the orchard to work (feral hive remove #2)for them on our way home.  These gals were kidnapped off the front of a house where the homeowner's daughter is admittedly paranoid of bees.  She had not known they were there till we arrived to assess the situation.  Oops!  We moved two hives off that house so far.  This house is closer but we will have to start charging for this service for any location farther than 2 miles off our regular errand routes.   Anyway, they now have another feeder to help them get their act together really fast, and in case they find the pasture a bit thin yet.  They have a deep and a medium, they also have a small softball-sized brood nest on a frame.  I snagged that from another hive, and I hope they will raise a queen or two with that brood.  I will try to save several queens to put with other new hives as I continue to pull excess bees from that old house. At the orchard there was a hummingbird humming around in the rafters of the ceiling of the fruit stand shed.  We couldn't get it to leave, despite a lot of attempts at herding it out with a wide broom.  Finally they decided to just let it hum around and hope it found it's way out eventually.  We went back down to the hive and got busy.  Just as I picked up my box of frames, zipped into my bee jacket, and turned to head for the hive with them, a group of women and a little tot ambled by.  I asked them if they were going to be coming out soon, as I expected things to get really exciting shortly.  We decided they might be able to walk around the other side of the barn there, but it looked a little rough.  Just as I picked up my last toys...er I mean tools,...here they came again.  I had just given the hive gals another spray of sugar water to help them calm down when the group was back again.  They were able to walk by without incident.  I was very proud of the beehavior of our new gals.

 The K-22 rangers are doing well.  They are helping me clean up the tomato garden, by eating all the waste tomatoes the other hens and ducks managed to mess up, or totally destroy.  I picked up all the waste and tossed it to them, and they get all the scraps when I make sauce or a sandwich.  I had a sketchy lunch trying to make sure I didn't forget anything I might need for that bee run, as it seemed like I would be able to get the queen and set a hive there for the whole field worker force to come home to, then return after dark, close up the hive and move it to a new location.  Almost any location other than in someone's wall. I really hope to fit in some preserving activities tomorrow.

The Two Tot/Teens managed to find time to do their milking and other homestead chores, as well as collect some more jam and jelly materials.  Then while they milked again we dashed off to check another feral trap-out hive, pickup the two College Kids from the school, take one to get her tennis racket for her PE class, and <gulp!> fill that 34 gallon gas tank on my bee wrangling truck!  I'm going to have to have it painted with honeybees all over it, I think.  In all our busyness we forgot to make supper so it was a $2 meal deal special for our light supper snack tonight. To finish up I am processing pics tonight,...er ...I see that time has swept away my night and it is already 'tomorrow'!  Until next time,...bee well!

 

 
 

Cayennes, Cantaloupes, and Lemon Boys

What a day!  I snagged my glasses leash on something, which broke it, but with all I had to do today I didn't want to take time to hunt a replacement loop and then restring all those silver and turquoise beads.  I hadn't lost anything  except the loop, so there was no big rush.  What a mistake!  I kept dropping and losing my glasses.  In the garden bent over double, trying to find a foothold amongst the three foot tall tomatoes and cayennes at least that tall, unbeknownst to me I dropped them again!  That really upset me when I realized what I'd done, since I had lost another perfectly good pair in the other garden three years ago.  I still have not found them even though I knew about where I had to have been when they were lost.  

 I had been out in the garden picking lemon boy tomatoes, both good and hen pecked ones, sorting the hen pecked ones into a bucket which I later tipped over the stockade to those good hens and the Rangers in there, which lever get out and peck my tomatoes!  I just hope it doesn't give them all ideas.  I also picked a cart of cayenne peppers and put them in the dehydrator to dry for making cayenne pepper seasoning, and for using to make tobasco sauce.  The College Boy found four cantaloupes loose from their vines, and I'm planning some chicken noodle soup for the guilty parties.  

I sent the kids back to the garden to hunt them for me, and finally the younger boy came back with them.  I hugged and kissed him good and he didn't even mind! So he saved my day, but I was still grouchy about having lost them.  Not a good frame of mind in which to go work with feral honey bees.

Between those grumpy girls and this grumpy girl we managed to get me stung at least three times tonight.  However, it was worth it, as we snagged a nice full hive full of workers out of that feral hive, and we closed down the openings to a more manageable size.  Tomorrow we're going to hunt down a queen, cage her with a candy plug to eat her way out of, (plain white for her, but something tells me that *this queenbee* sitting here typing this is going to be eating her way through some fudge!), and a super with some drawn out brood comb to provide them all a job so they will stay in the hive.  We took the hive and set it up over in an apple orchard about 8.5 miles away from their former feral colony in the porch roof of an older brick home in McKnightstown. 

It was after 11:00 pm when we arrived home, and we still hadn't had supper.I was happy to see that the "Two Tots" had done the milking, strained, and put away the milk.  I really need to come up with a new nickname for those two.  I guess as of next month when there will be yet another birthday here on the Homestead, I will be able to call them the "Two Terrific Teens"...or if they are in trouble that day I suppose I could call them the "Two Terrible Teens".

Slicing into one of those little cantaloupes, about the size of a softball, the juices ran golden yellow all over everywhere.  Sweet, oh so sweet and delicious, we both have sticky hands and chins.  (Mine is swollen, it seems some little bee noticed my bee bonnet had slid back, pulling the face screen against my chin.  I figure I'll look a little like a close relative of Jay Leno for a few days!) We only planted a few of these, and we're very sorry we didn't go overboard and plant a whole bunch!  I'm worrying now that I won't be able to bring myself to make my Patchwork Relish, which was why I had planted them.  It's too late to make another planting, I'm afraid.  Ok, next year I promise myself I will plant a very large patch of these delectable treats! 

 With the cooler temperatures at night comes a reminder of all those spring fleeces yet to be processed, and the wool comforter that needs washing and drying while we have the sunny weather to dry it right.  So I washed it in the washer, and we set up the wash tubs and began washing and soaking the lanolin rich Icelandic fleeces from the past spring.  Several waters later, we decided it needed to soak overnight!

Back into the kitchen I went, and the College Boy helped me with my big 5 gallon pot of yogurt, lifting it out of it's hot water bath and carrying it over to the island to pour it into it's straining cloth, and hang it from the hooks set up for that purpose.  In the morning we will pack the yogurt in quart sized freezer bags for tiding us over through a two month winter layoff we expect to be giving the milk goats.  Everyone loves yogurt, but the College Boy eats more of it than the rest of us put together, so it's good that he helped hang it!

Well, folks, I'm up too late again, which is way too usual this summer.  I really need to work on tightening up my evening routines.  As soon as I get those four feral honey bee colonies a little more 'domesticated' I guess I will be able to manage.  Tonight while trying to finish things up I had this idea to give every full share subscription during 2010 a copy of the recipe book "From the Heart", so I wanted to come in here and write it down so I don't forget it like so  many other great ideas I have, then forget, because it was so late at night and I didn't write the down.  So, off I go, not early to bed tonight, as I will have to shower all these grumpy honey bee sting pheromes off me before I will be able to put compresses on them, and then get some sleep.  Even with the late hour, I still need to be early to rise to feed our Ranger Chickens a good breakfast before we start our day!

So until next time,...


 
 

Freedom Rangers..Gettin' Acquainted

We had a chance to try out some Freedom Rangers meat chickens.  So this afternoon off we dashed as soon as it cooled a bit, to avoid heat stress since the day was bright and sun shiney.  

 Arriving at the seller's place, we drove right up to the little chicken house to load the chickens.  They are quite large already and will need only two or three weeks to finish them before harvesting.  I have just the grassy plot for them!  They are pretty red mottled, most of them look a lot like a red barred rock.  Most of them are also already big enough to harvest as Cornish 'hens'.

 I was so pleased with them that I also stopped by Lowe's and picked up a couple of Chippewa blue berry bushes in case we needed pollinator varieties for our others.  I couldn't remember what varieties we had already planted, and I know we lost one bush already so I need to check on that variety tomorrow in the daylight. 

 Another item on the schedule for tomorrow is a run for organic raw sugar to make bee feed.  There's a nearby feral colony that is just a true gift!  We moved one colony out of it already this year, and there is another colony worth bearding up on the outside again.  I now have another location far enough away from this house so that they will not try to return like so many did with the last removal.  We will remove a generous number of honey bees to the new location and check on them several times over the next few weeks before moving them to their permanent location in an orchard or garden somewhere.

Also on the schedule for tomorrow is building some raised beds to keep our gardens growing later this fall.  I'm seeing a lot of predictions of a long, cold winter and I've been looking forward to trying out some new structures a la Eliot Coleman's Four Season Harvest.  Last spring our tunnel cover blew away, and then the wind stopped, and allowed a frost to kill my early tomatoes.  I'm planning to ramp that structure up a few notches this year! 

Until next time...

 
 
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