Time to Redefine our Lives in Oregon

Archive for the ‘Harvesting’ Category

Harvesting Walnuts

I cannot believe how many walnuts have fallen this year. In one certain area you cant’ walk without a squish….and an uncertain wiggle due to the hard nut that follows the squish. As I stated in my last post, we decided to try and harvest some actual nuts this year. The process is messy, and takes a bit of time to get the nut out of its casing…I hope the results are worth it…either way, it has been a fun project so far.

Walnuts 2014

My friend, Jill, told me how she used to harvest walnuts as a kid…I decided to try it…

Walnuts 2014

…with just a couple twists of the foot, the husks came right off! Collecting the husks in one container, and the nuts in the other….

Walnuts 2014

…I wished the contents could have been reversed in quantity. But, we had a good amount for the first time harvesting. If this turns out well, harvesting next year will definitely start as soon as the walnuts start falling. There are just so many this year, it would probably take a year to finish the job…at that point, I don’t think we’d want to eat them.

This is what walnut husks will do to your hands.  BTW, this was the second layer of gloves I was wearing.

This is what walnut husks will do to your hands. BTW, this was the second layer of gloves I was wearing.

Next step was to add water….

Walnuts 2014

…at this point they had soaked for about 30 seconds…

Walnuts 2014

…I agitated them around a bit…

Walnuts 2014

…then poured out the wat….I don’t think you can really call that water anymore!!

Walnuts 2014

That’s a pretty good amount for one afternoon!! Like most things, room to breathe, and in this case, dry out, is necessary to prevent mold. The hubby built the drying screen table, which I think is pretty awesome! With a little patience, like 2 or 3 weeks, it will be time to crack open the shells…kind of like an early Christmas!

Walnuts 2014

Not to worry…there are plenty of walnuts left on the ground for our resident squirrels. They should be plenty well-rounded this year.

Also, to my surprise, as we winterized the garden we found a few gems….

Late Fall Beauties 2014

Carrott 2014

…this was one big, beautiful carrot!! I roasted it last night with brussel sprouts, and butternut squash…paired with some toasty garlic bread, it was a so good!

Thank you for visiting the farm today, and thank you even more to those who have served our country. You are all so awesome!!

Your friend in Oregon,
Tami

Walnuts, Walnuts, Everywhere…

My life has been shrouded in the realm of walnuts. My earliest memories include my grandpa sitting after dinner cracking walnuts. Once I had the hand strength to squeeze the metal nut cracker hard enough to break the shell, I would sit next to Gramps, cracking walnuts along with him. After that, I lived most of my adult life in a home with a giant black walnut tree which stood 50 ft. tall, and had a span of branch width of at least that many feet if not 60. It was huge, and provided shelter for squirrels, raccoons, and opossum. I loved that big old tree. I still have walnuts in my life.

Black Walnut Tree 2014

These trees are dropping round, squishy things with a hard pit that threaten to twist your ankle upon a misstep.

Black Walnut Tree 2014

There are five of them, all abundantly dropping as quickly as the leaves are falling.

Black Walnut Tree 2014

They do resemble ornaments hanging in the breeze. I wonder how white twinkling lights would look strewn about the branches?

Black Wlanut Trees

After the last big rain, the trees are more devoid…..

Walnut Trees 2014
Walnut Trees 2014

…but now, the ground is covered. They do make quite the mess.

Dropped Walnuts 2014

After talking with a friend about collecting and drying walnuts, my curiosity was ignited. I Googled the process and found some good information. This year, we are going to try our hand at collecting, de-husking, drying, and harvesting the nut from the very hard, thick shell. Black walnuts differ greatly in shell construction than the English variety that are usually sold in grocery stores.

Black Walnut 2014

The shells are harder to crack, and instead of a two chamber contraption, it has four.

One older shell, and a new one that I cracked today showing the wet nut.

One older shell, and a new one that I cracked today showing the wet nut.

I have read that the meat of the black walnut, once dried, has a wonderfully nutty flavor. It is apparently, well worth the effort, and will keep well in the freezer for two years. I hope this works out, and will help cut the costs of enjoying these healthy, meaty nuts.

Thanks for enjoying the farm with me today!

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami

That Certain Age

Within these past several weeks, I turned that certain age. I’m not giving that age up, but most people who grew up with me, or have known me in these adult years have a good idea what age I am. This is that year in which I am forced to reflect on my life a bit. It is that age I have kind of dreaded…that I have watched my brothers reach and surpass, and when brought to mind, prayed for, earnestly, keeping in mind that lightning rarely strikes twice the same way…but knowing that sometimes it does.

August 2014

There is just enough irony in life that the nagging of the unknown around that certain age sometimes settles in the way the fog lingers over the Golden Gate Bridge.

a-glowing-tower-of-the-golden-gate-bridge-rises-above-the-fog-san-francisco-bay-california,ng38494

Sometimes the fog looms, and my fears grow. I pray, I hug my dog, I take a walk, or busy myself with simple chores that take me outside and into the grandeur of the land around me. Other times I write…I write to you whom have become part of this journey…I write those stories that are the “maybe someday, somehow” unpublished pieces…and I read…I read the words of many others who have stories to tell, who ask nothing but to be read. They are out there…stories…wonderful stories baked in the lives of so many…when the fog settles in, these things help me to remember that the truth of this certain age is not necessarily the truth of that same certain age of another.

September Sunset 2014

I am that age…the age when my father died.

Daddy - 1990

My dad was a young man…he seemed older to me, at the time, than I feel now, but since I am that same age I realize how young he was, really. He died suddenly, his body failed him. That’s what bodies do…some earlier, some later, but they all fail. That Sunday morning left ripples, waves in my life lasting the entirety of these past 23 years.

Sept. 2014

So this year, the year of that certain age, I’m focusing on health…this little homestead helps with that, along with you, as I read your words and learn from your wisdom and recipes…and from new friends who have recently introduced me into the delicious world of squash, beyond zucchini…. 🙂 I’ve never been to this world before. Then there’s this TVP, Textured Vegetable Protein…..hmmmm, that’s a maybe.

Butternut Squash and Spinach

Mostly, I know that this body will fail at some point. Greater yet, I am assured of this….

John 10:27-29 (Jesus is speaking at the temple during a dispute at the feast of dedication)
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.

Sunset June 2014

….my salvation through Christ is rock solid, nothing can snatch me from His hand!! When I actually do reach the age in which my time is done, I know where I’m going. That assurance makes being this certain age a much happier place to reside. In the meantime, life is good……

GREAT DANE PUPPIES TO HUG!!

That's my Penni in the orange collar.

That’s my Penni in the orange collar.

BUBBLES TO POP!!

HANK!

HANK!

GARDENS TO GROW!!
August 2013 006

CHICKS TO HATCH!!
Don John

CRAZY CAT PICTURES TO TAKE!!
Tito August 2011

AND THEN THERE’S SOURDOUGH….SAN FRANCISCO SOURDOUGH!!
Sourdough Heaven

AND DISNEYLAND!!
DISNEYLAND 2010

AND THESE GIRLS!!

My sweet girls, Penni and Karli !

My sweet girls, Penni and Karli !

AND THIS FAMILY!!
September 2014

AND THIS LAND!!
July 2014

AND YOU…all of you..who walk through this forest, and visit this farm. Who’s words inspire, teach, encourage, and fill my kitchen with wonderful fragrances from delicious new recipes. As my thoughts turn inwards…you help me to look out from the window of this certain age, and I, once again, move away from my apprehension. And since the SF Giants are one step closer to getting into the World Series….October is looking pretty darn good!!!

Thanks for sharing this certain year with me!!

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami

Tule (Tooley) Fog

I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.” ― Henry David Thoreau

Okay, that’s pretty much true…unless I have a chance to sit on the couch and cuddle with this sweetheart…
Penni Sept. 2014

…..uuuhhhmmmmm, I mean this sweetie…
My Sweet Guy - April 2014

As if scripted by a professional screenwriter, Autumn rolled in, in the form of the very familiar covering of ground level fog…in the SF Bay Area, it’s called Tule (Tooley) Fog.
Oregon "Tule Fog" Sept. 2014

I called the valley fog here in Oregon, Tule Fog once…..I got blank stares accompanied by a smile or two…hahaha…nobody seemed to know what I was talking about..hahaha! So, I don’t really know what to call it…I guess just fog..haha. I had no idea that that particular weather terminology was specific to California.

Rain is in the forecast, in fact, it drizzled much of the day, and has now rained throughout the night. So at the great advice of two of my friends from work (thank you Sabrina and Angie) I picked the rest of my tomatoes. Many were immensely green, but off the vine they came.
Green Tomatoes Sept. 2014

These will, hopefully, ripen in a paper bag, and be no less than the quality of a tomato bought in a grocery store. At least I will know that these were grown without pesticides, and unnatural fertilizers.

Corn Stalks Sept 2014

The corn stalks came down today, as well, to keep them from molding. I like to use them for outdoor decorating…they don’t usually last very long…the chickens like them too!

Corn Stalks Sept 2014

While we wait for the rain, Penni promises to keep watch over the tomatoes.

The Guardian Sept. 2014

Thankfully, they don’t taste like blackberries…that bucket would be emptied by now!!

Looking forward to sharing this wonderful season with you….thanks for visiting the farm today! 🙂

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami

It’s Salsa Time!!!

So what do you do when you have a bunch of tomatoes and jalapeno peppers? SALSA!!

This is my all-time favorite salsa…..literally, every once in awhile we will drive over an hour just to get to the restaurant that creates this outrageous bowl of goodness …… CHEVY’S SALSA!!

CHEVY'S ... Yummmm!!

A pound and a pint (sometimes two) take-out always accompanies me home…that’s non-negotiable!!

With this salsa addiction, I am on a quest to reproduce this outrageously yummy concoction. I just can’t get it right…there is always “something” missing and I can’t put my finger on it. There are knock-off recipes out there that get me pretty close…just nottttt quite at the point where I can exclaim, “That’s it!” So, once a year when the tomato harvest is at full speed, I tinker with salsa…one of these tomato seasons, maybe I’ll get it right!

This is my latest attempt…..

Roasting the Veggies

Roasting the Veggies

Salsa 2014

An innocent looking bowl of fire!

An innocent looking bowl of fire!

A new ingredient...trying to get a bit of a smokey flavor.

A new ingredient…trying to get a bit of a smokey flavor.


The roasted garlic on top is so delicious and creamy.

The roasted garlic on top is so delicious and creamy.

Salsa 2014

Where are the chips???

Where are the chips???

The chipotle peppers in adobo sauce did make a big difference. I still have to figure out how to manage more liquid in the finished product. My salsa usually comes out quite “meaty”…not necessarily a bad thing, but I think a little more moisture would be good. This definitely is one of the better blends…not sure that I’m satisfied as it is not as close to Chevy’s salsa as I’m looking for, but…yummy in it’s own way.

Darn…I guess I’ll have to keep trying.. hahaha!

Thanks for visiting my kitchen this morning. I hope you have an excellent day!!

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami

It’s In the Little Things

There are tiny things in this world….

The Royal Antelope

The Royal Antelope


The Brookesia Micra Chameleon

The Brookesia Micra Chameleon


The Fennec Fox

The Fennec Fox

The Paedophryne Amauensis Frog:

The Paedophryne Amauensis Frog:


Photos found at http://http://www.viralnova.com/smallest-animals-in-the-world/

…..then there are the fruits from my garden. It’s been an interesting year for growth. Maybe it’s the water, maybe the soil. Whatever the reason, many of the veggies and fruits are quite small…some are plentiful, but most are kind of tiny. Guess what?? There are powerfully big, fresh flavors coming out of those little packages! I wish I could share more with you than just their pictures.

Little yellow bell peppers

Little yellow bell peppers

Tiny, tiny strawberries

Tiny, tiny strawberries

Beautiful Jalepenos

Beautiful Jalepenos

Okay, Grape Tomatoes are supposed to be small...er

Okay, Grape Tomatoes are supposed to be small…er

This is the entire harvest of nine potato plants…hahahaha…there is one fat little gopher running around here somewhere full of my potatoes!!

Garden 2014

The apple in these pictures is there for size comparison (of course you needed that explanation, ;D )…

We actually got pears off of the 1st year pear trees...hahahaha

We actually got pears off of the 1st year pear trees…hahahaha

The mighty artichoke

The mighty artichoke

Tiny Cantaloupe..smaller than a softball, bigger than a baseball

Tiny Cantaloupe…smaller than a softball, bigger than a baseball

Major big flavor in a tiny little package!

Major big flavor in a tiny little package!

Apples from an old, old apple tree.

Apples from an old, old apple tree.

Each year a different garden has grown, same basic varieties, very different results. We have been playing around with soil and location a bit, this year mainly soil. Time to start taking notes.

I hope you have a wonderful day…go ahead and pick a few tomatoes…they are amazing!!

Tami

Oh, Did I Tell You…

It seems like forever since I have sat down to write. It is that time of year. Mid-August usually demands a certain amount of sweat-equity…not only from the summer heat,

Oregon's best kept secret....

Oregon’s best kept secret….

but also from the demands of the oh-so-soft-spoken ripening garden. It has been dry, really dry.

The ground is so dry.

The ground is so dry.

Everything, is feeling thirsty from the lack of those wet, drippy things that fall from the sky. It takes a bit of an extra effort to keep the flock in fresh water (they get overheated very easily), to maximize the benefit of the water given to the garden, to water young fruit, nut, and Sequoia trees one by one by the bucketful, while keeping a balance with the water level in our holding tank. That tank holds water from our well…which in turn, waters this family.

"Yeah, I'm guarding the water!"

“Yeah, I’m guarding the water!”

In spite of water rationing for the garden, there is plentiful ripening. Harvesting of more than just a couple of tomatoes here…a pepper there…has begun! We are starting to enjoy the “fruits of our labor”, especially in the berry department. Wild blackberries are ripening at break-neck speed, and my little strawberries are right behind them. When you pick them at that juicy, sweet ripened stage from the vine, they don’t last long. The upshot of that is turning this…..

IMG_6460

….into this!!!

Making jam...

Making jam…

Strawberry jam

Strawberry jam

And this….

Bucketful of Blackberries

Bucketful of Blackberries

…into this…

Blackberry Cobbler!!!

Blackberry Cobbler!!!

Oh boy!!!

Oh boy!!!

A little time consuming, but totally worth it!!

Oh, did I tell you….

The newest addition.

The newest addition.

….welcome to the farm little Roni Jr. ….. hatched on my daughter’s half-birthday. Out of six eggs, this is the only one that hatched. After several days, Mama Hen abandoned the nest, and the eggs went bad. The baby is out and about free ranging with the rest of the flock, watching every move Mama makes.

Thank you for sharing the long days of summer on the farm with me!! Hope you are having a wonderful August!

Your friend,
Tami

A Study in Purple

Do you like the color purple?? According to http://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/personality-color-purple.html , “Having either purple or violet as your favorite color means you are sensitive and compassionate, understanding and supportive, thinking of others before yourself – you are the person others come to for help – being needed motivates you but sometimes people take advantage of you.

Purple Aug. 2014

You are a gentle and free spirit. Your feelings run deep and you can be quite sensitive to hurtful comments from others, although you would never show it…you have a peaceful and tranquil quality…You are usually introverted rather than extroverted and may give the impression of being shy although this is not the case.”

We’ve had a lot of purple on the farm lately, mostly propagated by those things that I spend hours mowing down. They are spiky, intrusive, and relentless in their pursuit to dwell on this land. However, there is beauty, if just for a moment….

Purple Aug. 2014

Purple Aug. 2014

The purple dot in the middle of this abundant weed tells me this is probably the versatile Queens Ann’s Lace….

See the purple dot?

See the purple dot?

…as opposed to this, very similar looking weed, which is highly toxic (hemlock??) The lack of that purple dot is a HUGE red flag!!

Poison Hemlock?? No purple dot!!

Poison Hemlock?? No purple dot!!

This purple bed (and the two furry babies next to it) are missing the furry guy who used to lay upon it. (See https://haveadanehill.com/2014/07/29/morning-has-broken/ )

RIP Tucker...we miss you.

RIP Tucker…we miss you.

The purple flowers of wild blackberry bushes…

Purple Aug. 2014

…bring a bowl full of deliciousness!!

First wild blackberry harvest of 2014

First wild blackberry harvest of 2014

The beautiful sunset on a night full of thunder and lightning. Gorgeous!

A beautiful sunset!

A beautiful sunset!

Purple is a beautiful color…don’t you think?!!! Do you see purple in your area of the world?

Thanks for sharing my morning…I hope yours is fantastic!! Tami

Dinner Last Night

There is artistry in the food we eat. I realized this with last night’s dinner. I don’t mean in the way of how it is displayed on the plate, or the unique style in the craftsmanship of the porcelain it sits upon. More and more, thanks to the numerous cooking shows on T.V., I’m experiencing the depth of flavors one can create when the main seasonings go beyond garlic salt and pepper (that’s where I’ve been stuck for many years.) Even this, however, is not really what I’m talking about right now. Although spices add to the complexity and success of the dish, the main ingredients, the stars of the show, are what my thoughts have been focusing on.

OOOOPPSSS...how did those Little's get into the garden??

OOOOPPSSS…how did those Little’s get into the garden??

Dinner last night, the sustenance of nutrition, was completely grown, or raised, on this little beginnings of a farm…right here on Haveadane Hill. Okay, so the spices I used and the local honey were not…but….does that count??? Something to think about…can I grow my own cumin, how about ginger?? Something to definitely investigate!!

Baking chicken on the grill.

Baking chicken on the grill.

This beautiful bird (one of the roosters of the Littles, aka The Muppets hatching) was hatched, raised free ranging from day one, culled by Tony, cleaned and processed by my own hands, chilled in the fridge for a few days, and became the star of the show!!

Isn't that gorgeous??!!

Isn’t that gorgeous??!!


Rooster Aug. 2014

I made a rub of powdered garlic, cumin, ginger, thyme, parsley, salt, pepper, and olive oil. This little bird was well coated and cooked up beautifully!!

Then I chopped up onion, crookneck squash, young yellow bell peppers, and zucchini…all from my garden…sauteed them in olive oil (well..no, I didn’t squish the olives hahaha)…cooking the onions first, sprinkled with cajun spices until well caramelized, then added the two squash.

August 2014 Saute

As the veggies started to release their juices, I added the wonderfully delicious local honey I discovered a couple of weekends ago (I was not at all fond of honey until I discovered REAL honey…not the junk sold in the grocery store.)

The end of the honey drizzle....who wants to lick the spoon??

The end of the honey drizzle….who wants to lick the spoon??

I thought that I had possibly cooked the veggies too much…I didn’t want mushy, but I wanted them to be cooked through. Much to my delight, they still had a nice crunch from their skin due to the just, picked, garden freshness. Next time for color, I may add some spinach at the end of the veggie saute. I think that would be good!!

My completely home grown dinner...delicious!!

My completely home grown dinner…delicious!!

The little rooster was really, really flavorful…and a bit tough. He was a very fit bird, with very little fat. Butterflying the bird and roasting it on the grill breast side up (thank you FoodNetwork – The Kitchen) allowed the spices and the small bit of fat from the skin to permeate the meat making it very moist. The veggies were outstanding, and the sweet honey added to the brightness of the cajun spices really complimented each other. The flavor that stood out to me the most, however, was how absolutely fresh everything tasted…really, it was amazing.

Making chicken stock.

Making chicken stock.

THEN….not wanting to waste one bit of this amazing little rooster, I added water (we’re on a well so again…straight from the farm), carrots and onion (from the garden) and made a wonderful stock.

Stock after sitting in fridge overnight.

Stock after sitting in fridge overnight.

There was so little fat that rose to the surface, that this is all I could skim off….

Rooster Stock Aug. 2014

I’m proud of my little rooster…he was one healthy bird!! He provided my family dinner last night, and will provide us broth for a great soup once the weather turns cooler.

Cooled, skimmed, and ready for the freezer...to enjoy as soup in the cool of a fall evening!

Cooled, skimmed, and ready for the freezer…to enjoy as soup in the cool of a fall evening!

Who would have ever thought that this city kid from the San Francisco Bay Area, who ate in restaurants more than she cooked, could move to the country and raise the meat and veggies entirely on the farm for dinner last night?? I’m so excited to explore what is next for the farm…I keep talking to Tony about a couple of cows…he keeps talking about a couple of pigs….bee keeping for honey is totally on the list…stay tuned, there’s more to come!!!!!

Thanks for sharing my dinner last night!! Have a wonderful, wonderful Sunday!!

Your friend,
Tami

Creating Boundaries

Harvest 2014

Fencing….the sport of fighting with swords, especially foils, épées, or sabers, according to a set of rules, in order to score points against an opponent.

Fencing

Wait a minute….not that kind of fencing…this kind of fencing…

Not our farm...just an example.

Not our farm…just an example.

…lots and lots of fencing!! Three hundred and sixty seven feet to be approximately exact.

I think it is safe to say that every farm has fencing…lots of fencing. I am in the conflict stage of needing fencing, and wanting to keep the forest that merges with the farm in smooth transition. However, there are realities in the relationship between wildlife, farm production, dogs, and neighbors…the latter becomes the biggest issue.

We have neighbors…one of our neighbors has goats..see my earlier post https://haveadanehill.com/2013/10/27/my-neighbor-has-goats/ This same neighbor, has two big, white farm dogs that protect their goats. I like my neighbor’s dogs, they bark…often…but they are very nice dogs. Recently, however, the intact male has grown up. He has become a dominant boy, and adamantly protects the fence-line between us. Unfortunately, this means that the friendship he and Penni have had since his puppy-hood is now in contention. His mama dog,

which is now his wifey dog (yeah, it’s complicated…not really…just weird) is still friendly, but the boy dog – her puppy now her stud dog (I just think those are questionable breeding practices) does not agree with these friendly neighbor relations. Thus the need to create a secondary fence line buffer zone. It’s needed both for the safety of all three dogs, but for peace of mind. Do I really want to worry every time the dogs are out what might happen at the fence line? NO!!

The thing with fencing is when you start one line, it gets you thinking about other lines…where can you go from there? With the occasional coyote (or possibly coywolf – see my previous post https://haveadanehill.com/2014/05/29/my-coyote-theory/ ) and who knows what else (we are in Black Bear and Cougar country) we decided to create an area of 3 plus acres wherein the dogs can run freely, but still be controlled.

May 2014

It’s a big project, and takes a ton of muscle power to sink the wooden posts into this rocky ground. Thank goodness for a tractor sporting a post hole digger. Thank goodness even more for a husband who is willing to spend the past 3 days of his vacation breaking up rock where the post hole digger couldn’t get through…and the next 2 – 3 days pounding metal poles, stringing fencing, and hanging gates. He’s had some help from the male offspring when available after work. My assistance has been nonexistent due to my work schedule. So here’s a standing applause for the man on this farm…

…for a man who works hard to make sure we (including our animals) are safe, and is willing to work really hard at everything he does!!!

The work is in progress…and Penni is waiting very patiently…with bated breath…waiting to get off of her restriction…

"Whyyyyyyyyy do I have to have this stupid leash on?  I'll just lay here then."

“Whyyyyyyyyy do I have to have this stupid leash on? I’ll just lay here then.”

…and once again able to stretch her legs freely. It’s so wrong…34 acres, and nowhere to run…for the moment.

Hope you have a wonderful day…thanks for popping over and visiting the farm.

Harvest 2014

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami
***RETRACTION…I have been informed that the actual feet of fencing being constructed is 1063…not 367. My apologies to those who may be taking note…hahahahaha****

What’s Going On??!!

It always confuses me when parts of the garden goes crazy with growth, and other parts struggle to stay alive. Obviously, providing a good soil, water, and sunshine is not all there is to growing fruits and vegetables.

I learned last year that onions do not want a lot of water, they need to be able to drain or you get squishy, disintegrated mush. The green of potato plants may grow like crazy, but the tubers underneath may not be as grand (I got potatoes, but some were huge and misshapen, and others were small, and they were just kind of flavorless.)

Misshapen and gnarly.

Misshapen and gnarly.


Peppers…well let’s just say my peppers never really took off..they were small and frail.

This year’s garden has some problems, as well. Take a look….

What is going on with my pepper plants??

What is going on with my pepper plants??


My sweet pepper plants are struggling AGAIN!!! I am the worst at trying to grow bell peppers. These plants just have not taken off, their leaves are curling, and the flowers seem to get to a point, then they just fall off. SO FRUSTRATING!!

Eggplant - fail!!

Eggplant – fail!!


My eggplants are alive, but they haven’t grown in size, and they have not yet flowered. They were planted the same time everything else was. They are not happy.

Garden 2014
These are pumpkin plants. Do you see any pumpkins??? Again, no growth!! Do you think that big flower will produce a pumpkin?? I don’t know!!! Thankfully I started some others by seed in a different container and those are doing pretty well…fairly well…I might get a pumpkin or two from them…maybe.

Garden 2014
These are my serrano peppers….kind of scrappy looking, aren’t they!! The plants behind them are my jalepeno’s and they are doing well. The serranos got a bit of a late start, planted from seed…it will be interesting to see what they produce if anything.

Garden 2014
Actually, the artichoke is doing well. However, I have noticed a small amount of aphids…thankful for this little critter who is happy to eat those aphids!!

UGGHHHH!!

UGGHHHH!!


I have no idea what is happening to my zucchini!! The zucch developed, then the flower fell off the end leaving a rotting hole. I hope this is a fluke and not a problem.

Thankfully, there is a flip-side to these garden difficulties.

Tomatoes and onions

Tomatoes and onions


There are rogue tomato plants growing within some of my onions! There must have been seeds from discarded tomatoes from last year’s garden. All I need is a jalepeno plant over there, and we’ll have salsa tasting tomatoes!! 😉

Watermelon

Watermelon


This little watermelon is a VERY welcome sight…

….and the strawberries are delicious!!
IMG_6460
Garden 2014

We’ve got thunderstorms going on today…but no rain yet. Hopefully the rain will come because the forest is really dry right now. The trees would appreciate the water. Keeping my fingers crossed that there won’t be any hail…that would not be good for the garden.

Thanks for walking through the garden with me!
Have a wonderful, relaxing Sunday!!

Tami FYI – it just started raining…YAY….ooopps…it stopped!!

The Beauty of Summer

The beauty of summer presents in many forms. Just look around you!! Do you see it??

This is what I see when I look around our forest – farm in the summer….

Two big dogs catching some shade in the heat of the day.
IMG_6389

I can see the future…salsa, salads, tomato sauce…….
IMG_6414

The deep blue of a beautiful Oregon sky.
IMG_6380
IMG_6378

A basketful full of a friend’s Beagle puppies.
IMG_6331

At the cusp of spring into summer, the first & last of the cauliflower.
IMG_6322

A visit from our neighbor’s peacock.
IMG_6321 2

OMGosh…how gorgeous is this??!!
IMG_6430

My Penni girl basking in the warm sunshine.
IMG_6201 June 2014

“Red sky at night, a sailor’s delight…..”
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Strawberries on the vine.
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A cute little visitor…I moved her to bushy young oak growing from a stump.
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Dark blue of the night-time sky.
July 2014

C-A-N-T-E-L-O-U-P-E!!!!!
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The last of the broccoli; the first onion and sweet pea harvest.
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Baked beans from scratch for the 4th of July barbecue!
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The beauty of a summer wind against the tall summer grasses.

Sometimes, we wait to cut the grasses just to watch the “amber waves of grain,” if just for awhile.

I hope you find beauty in your summer…look for it, it’s all around you! Thanks for taking a walk in the forest with me today!

Tami

Fir Chips in the Garden

Remember my attempt to squelch the inevitable…??

That empty container is waiting for watermelon.
The Douglas Fir mulch lining the garden.

The Douglas Fir mulch lining the garden.

…You know, those dreaded parasites that continually steal water, minerals, and sunlight from their rightful heirs. What are they called? Oh yeah, malas hierbas, les mauvaises herbes, bagīcē mātama, …. weeds…garden weeds. Two months or so later, here’s how things look…

Uuugghhhh the invasion is on!!!

Uuugghhhh the invasion is on!!!

I'm glad the good stuff are in pots.

I’m glad the good stuff are in pots.

…well, I guess my experiment in Douglas Fir chips was a wash. Not exactly the results I was hoping for, but easily fixed….

Now that's better!

Now that’s better!

I can see the fir chips!!

I can see the fir chips!!

Lookin' purdy!

Lookin’ purdy!

…thank you Mr. Weed-Wacker!!! Nope, I didn’t get the roots, and yeah they will grow back. Mr. Weed-Wacker and I will have a few more dates this growing season, but you know, it’s easier than trying to pull them up, and healthier than using a weed killer. Anyway, there is more exciting news

The zucchini is blooming!

The zucchini is blooming!

Wee little strawberries.

Wee little strawberries.

The peas are awesome.

The peas are awesome.

Future bad boys...my Jalapeños are blooming!!

Future bad boys…my Jalapeños are blooming!!

And did I show you these beauties??

Look at those little red jewels!!

Look at those little red jewels!!

And the most important…. Penni’s happy!!

My happy girl!!

My happy girl!!

Thanks for taking a walk with me through the garden. Have an awesome day!
Tami

First Things First

VERY EXCITING NEWS!!! Okay, those “firsts” in life are usually very exciting, but the firsts on the roster today are the first fruits of our 2014 Garden. Take a look!!

Pretty, little, yellow, watermelon flower.

Pretty, little, yellow, watermelon flower.


Not exactly a fruit…but it’s the first flower leading to the fruit. I think it counts 😉

I spy with my little eye…..

You might have to zoom this picture to find the first pea pods.

You might have to zoom this picture to find the first pea pods.

The first cantaloup flower...leading to the first fruit.

The first cantaloup flower…leading to the first fruit.

The first really big “fruit”….

Look at that BROCCOLI!!

Look at that BROCCOLI!!

…that we have actually been able to harvest!!

Look at that beauty!!!

Look at that beauty!!!

I’m so excited for this next one!! Can you see it? Can you see it?? Look again, it’s right there!!!

Our first, little, itty, bitty, Roma Tomato!

Our first, little, itty, bitty, Roma Tomato!

Lots more firsts to come, lots more fruits and veggies on the way……….P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E!! Now, I’ve got to go stir fry a bunch of broccoli.. 😀

End of Growing Season 2013

With the onset of overnight temperatures dropping into the 30’s, and four straight days of rain, our garden stated, “Can you hear her…the “fat lady has sung.” Leaves have curled and turned funny shades of green-black, ripening tomatoes have been damaged, and the only growth surviving the cold are the gourds.

This is what an early frost does to a garden.

This is what an early frost does to a garden.


Our large gourds still hanging in there.

Our large gourds still hanging in there.

I’ve had a lot of fun with this year’s garden, and found it curious that some items which produced well last year, were not happy campers this year…and vice versa. I changed up the location, and made modifications…some drastic, to the soil. The two year comparison has shown me that our red, rocky soil has some really great properties that a bagged mixed gardening soil doesn’t provide. The mental notes that I have taken over the past two years will serve my garden well next year…along with a trailer full of horse manure from the boarding arena down the hill…hahaha!

So in a nutshell, here is a synopsis of how our Garden of 2013 developed. Our tomatoes loved having their roots planted in a container filled with gardening soil, whereas, the onions rebelled, producing a very tall plant without a developed onion. Those planted in the red soil did fairly well…but not as well as last year (their sun exposure was limited by the outrageously huge potato plants.) How did the potatoes do you might ask…well…if you remember, I mixed the red soil with the ashes from a wood burned debris pile….they did GREAT!! In fact, some of the potatoes were HUGE and a couple..kind of gnarled!! Next year I will continue to build the soil up around the stem of the potato plant to get a more controlled growth, and a higher volume yield, rather than weight.

An example of our potato harvest.

An example of our potato harvest.


The corn did well, although I didn’t take the time to thin out the stalks…they were too crowded, but what they did produce was delicious!! The corn seems to like our red soil just fine, but would probably LOVE it with a little added manure.
Our corn yield for the year, minus 2 ears which we previously harvested.

Our corn yield for the year, minus 2 ears which we previously harvested.


Our watermelon and cantaloupe were planted in containers filled with gardening soil. I won’t do that again as it didn’t seem to matter fruit-wise, container or directly into the red soil. The fruit was small, and a little sweeter than last year, but we were able to keep it on the vine longer since deer were not a threat due to better fencing. The fruit was harder to manage since the vine was up off the ground affecting a lot of the early fruit. Our last watermelon to harvest was a very emotional little fruit…hahaha
The Yin and Yang of this year's produce...hahaha

The Yin and Yang of this year’s produce…hahaha


I was happy with my bell pepper plants, as this was the first year I was EVER able to grow peppers. It sounds really odd as peppers are supposed to be easy to grow…right?? I have not been successful at all until this year!! They liked container living, and with a little more sun (they were hindered by the shade of the huge tomato plants) they would have been awesome…..well I thought they were pretty awesome anyway!!
Tiny pumpkins, pinto beans, tomatoes, and a yellow bell pepper!!

Tiny pumpkins, pinto beans, tomatoes, and a yellow bell pepper!!


We grew a rainbow!!!!!

We grew a rainbow!!!!!


The pumpkins did great, the gourds went nuts, and the eggplant produced very nicely. I have to say though, the most fun thing in the garden were our pinto beans (gourds came in a very close second.) If you’ve never grown pinto beans…try it. It’s just plain fun to watch them grow, dry on the vine, then shuck the dried beans from the pods. My daughter and I had so much fun with these beans. In the end, we only came out with about 1 cup of dried beans…but watch out next year!!!
Pinto Beans were incredibly fun to grow.

Pinto Beans were incredibly fun to grow.


The celery did really nicely just planted in the red soil. I have to admit, I grow this mainly for my Great Dane, Penni…she loves celery, and it is like the biggest treat ever when I pull one up for her.
The cucumbers, crook-neck squash, and surprisingly, zucchini (which has to be the easiest vegetable to grow) did terribly this year. There were all planted close to one another in a container…no more container growing for this group. I only got 4 pickling cucumbers (one of which was a mutant orange color…)
My mutant, orange, pickling cucumber!!  Strange!

My mutant, orange, pickling cucumber!! Strange!


and about the same number of zucchini.
In all, I think it was a really productive growing year. I was able to make some really delicious meals with the produce, and canned some things (details on future post.) I learned ALOT about my soil, commercial soil, the need for manure, location – location – location, and that overwatering for many of these plants is NOT a good thing. This concept is really good news for us because we water from the same water source (our well) that we supply the household with…so any use savings there is a huge plus!!

One other benefit………homegrown seasonal decorative items, courtesy of our very own farm!! Oh…and the chickens love our leftovers!!!

Free and home grown!!

Free and home grown!!

That red of the pumpkins are their true color!!  Beautiful!

That red of the pumpkins are their true color!! Beautiful!

Blackberries + Sugar = Jam!!!

I’m almost embarrassed to admit how excited I get over those little, basic, skills that people have been doing as part of normal, everyday life for countless centuries. Being a newbie at all things even remotely related to homesteading, (with the exception of growing small planter gardens) taking my blackberries and turning them into something I can spread on toast (preferably San Francisco Sourdough!!!) makes me so happy!! I feel like an out-of-the-ordinary homesteading geek…..meaning if other homesteaders (I totally do not even feel that I am qualified to fit into that category) read this blog, they would probably think I’m a geek-homesteading-wanna-be! This is all such a huge experiment for me…I feel like a kid in a candy shop!!

Last summer was the first time I attempted to make blackberry jam. Looking online, I found that you can make jam with our without pectin. Pectin?? What the heck is Pectin?? So I chose not to use that unfamiliar product, and go with what I knew….berries and sugar. I found a recipe at http://savorysweetlife.com/2009/08/how-to-make-blackberry-or-raspberry-jam/ that allowed me to do just that.

Basically, its 1 cup of sugar, to 1 cup of berries and 2 tbsp. lemon juice. That’s it! Simple and to the point. I like fruit products that are a little more tart than sweet, so I reduced the sugar amount to about 3/4 of a cup (or a little less, but more than a 1/2) for each cup of berries. I also prefer seedless jam, so I blended just the berries, then smashed the liquid through a strainer leaving the seeds behind. The result was a very smooth, tart, yet sweet, delicious blackberry jam. Without Pectin, it doesn’t last as long in the fridge…but in my home, it gets eaten up pretty quickly. So here is the process…(most of these pictures were taken from last year’s jam production.)

The stars of the show....Wild Blackberries!

The stars of the show….Wild Blackberries!


The Ninja blended berries!

The Ninja blended berries!


Blended blackberries getting ready to separate the fruit from the seed.

Blended blackberries getting ready to separate the fruit from the seed.


The pulp and seeds left from working the blackberry juices through the strainer.

The pulp and seeds left from working the blackberry juices through the strainer.


Now combined, sugar and blackberry juices boil for 5 minutes.

Now combined, sugar and blackberry juices boil for 5 minutes.



The boiled jam now simmers for 15 more minutes.

The boiled jam now simmers for 15 more minutes.

[
Had a bit of a spill over here...sticky mess!

Had a bit of a spill over here…sticky mess!


And all of a sudden...it's blackberry jam time!!!

And all of a sudden…it’s blackberry jam time!!!


Uhhmmm...YUMMMM!!!  Blackberry jam on sourdough toast!!!

Uhhmmm…YUMMMM!!! Blackberry jam on sourdough toast!!!

The Gift of the Vine – Oregon’s Wild Jewels

Who's picking those berries??

Who’s picking those berries??

Ever wonder where that purple mustache came from on your German Wirehaired Pointer’s mouth? Every wonder why your Great Dane runs an 1/8th of a mile down your driveway and stands staring at the bush growing by the pond? Ever wonder why you buy this product in the store when home-grown is soooo much better?? Wonder what I’m talking about???

WILD BLACKBERRIES!!!!!!

The start of our Wild Blackberry season!!

The start of our Wild Blackberry season!!

While the neighboring honey bees were hard at work pollenating our wild blackberry bushes, my angst about very little bees in my garden grew. However, this year’s crop of blackberries is tremendous, even with the lack of water we’ve had this summer. No doubt their roots are tapping into the year round pond in our front pasture, and although the fruit is smaller, it is abundantly positioned on the vines and packed with berry yumminess!! We have so many yet to ripen….

Waiting on the precious jewels of Oregon.

Waiting on the precious jewels of Oregon.

Wild Blackberries still to ripen

Wild Blackberries still to ripen

This is why my dogs stare at the bush growing by the pond, and come back with purple moustaches…

The last couple of years, I’ve learned a few things about picking these gorgeous, yummy, jewels of Oregon. It is best to go berry picking in the evening as the sun is setting, or in the morning just as the sun is starting to rise. If you don’t, you’re going to be contending with honey bees, bumble bees, and wasps…none of which I want buzzing around my hands, arms, or face. Be prepared to pick more than you need, because half of what you pick won’t make it to the bucket…your mouth (or your dog’s) may exhibit a purple hew after picking. Wear long sleeves, as those thorns really do not want to give up the treasures within their vines. I’ve yet to find gloves that can really work for picking berries. Any suggestions?? Finally, make sure you remember what you were wearing when it comes time to do your laundry…you’ll want to pretreat those blackberry spots left on your clothes…or you can always tie dye if you forget. 🙂

Glad I was wearing long sleeves!

Glad I was wearing long sleeves!


Who's picking those berries??

Who’s picking those berries??


Penni helping to pick...Tucker is back there too!

Penni helping to pick…Tucker is back there too!

Not bad for 15 minutes worth of pain, scratches, and fun. This is true family bonding time… 🙂

The 15 minute bounty!!

The 15 minute bounty!!

Where Are the Bees??

It took three posts to do it, but I will be caught up-to-date with my garden’s growth chart at the end of this writing..hahahaha.

Water, water, everywhere water….and not a drop to spare. In a cruel twist of irony, this usually rain soaked portion of the Pacific Northwest becomes very, very dry in the two – three heated growing months. A common saying around here is, “Summer starts on July 5th.” From what I have seen, it also marks the end of any kind of rain (this year was about two weeks earlier) until fall. We’re on a well, and with the help of a water storage tank, it produces more than our daily needs. Water use and conservation here or in the Bay Area has always had to be in our thoughts, and habits…drought conditions are not uncommon in California. In par with that, watering the garden has to be adequate, but not over-abundant. To combat this, and maximize the watering, I try to build little mounds and tributaries around where I want the water to flow and stop. Nobody wants a stream running away from their plants. Sometimes I’ll give a shot of water…let it seep into the soil…then repeat several times for one plant just to maximize the concentration of water into one spot. It takes patience.

I’ve been noticing a real lack of honey bees visiting the flowers in waiting. My plants are really huge at this point, they have flowers, but barely a bee. I do have some beautiful gems that have started, and a few larger than that, but it is getting to the point that I might consider “artificial inpollination” (play on words here) to bring more for the harvest….Tony said all I would need is a cotton swab…I don’t know, it seems a little imposing hahaha. I hope they start showing up!!!

Whatever our difficulties, the earth is giving back!! Our plants are beautiful….take a look!! These pictures are the latest taken on July 20th…one month later from yesterday’s post.

Potatoes, Corn and Pumpkins in the background

Potatoes, Corn and Pumpkins in the background

Potatoes, Celery, and Corn... I did not expect the potatoes to get soooo big.

Potatoes, Celery, and Corn… I did not expect the potatoes to get soooo big.

Tomatoes, with Peppers in front

Tomatoes, with Peppers in front

One pot full of Watermelon, and Cantaloupe

One pot full of Watermelon, and Cantaloupe

Gourds in the foreground...Pinto Beans in the background.

Gourds in the foreground…Pinto Beans in the background.

Pumpkins!!  I've never seen pumpkins start out yellow instead of green...

Pumpkins!! I’ve never seen pumpkins start out yellow instead of green…

The strangest pumpkin I've ever seen

The strangest pumpkin I’ve ever seen

Taking my morning trek down to the front gate with Penni, I discovered where the current honey bee hangout has developed….they are all over our wild blackberry bushes!!! Blackberry jam is right around the corner…YAY!!!

The Vegetable Garden That Almost Wasn’t

This year, winter turned to spring really quickly, and weirdly, unexpectedly in our minds. Even though it was late April, temperatures were still dropping really low at night…I think we even got a light frost in early May. Tony had to leave on business for a couple of weeks…we had just entered the month of May. All of a sudden the weather was warmer, and we had NOT set-up the garden at all. In my mind, we were way late…remember, we were used to getting our garden going by Mid-March at the latest in California. I was starting to panic, but I pulled it together…hahahaha…..got out a big shovel and turned the ground over…Tony would have used the tilling implement on the tractor, but it wasn’t attached when he left. At that point it was MUCH easier….more practical…NO WAY was I going to try and get that thing attached.

My second obstacle was the fencing…we have to have protective fencing or nothing will survive. We had 6 wire panels with 2×4 boarders that Tony and my son, Will, had already made that past summer. They would be perfect for a quick set-up…remember, I was in panic mode to get my seeds and tiny sprouts into the ground. The one drawback was that it would greatly reduce the space I would have available to plant….we have 34 acres….my garden would be reduced to a 16’x 8′ rectangle…oh well…at least I’d have great tomatoes!! My son and I attached the panels together, and then I addressed the other issues.

Veggie Garden 2013 – Young, Growing Seedlings

My cute little garden!

My cute little garden!

Just planted!

Just planted!

First of all, the soil….the soil!! We have red, very iron rich dirt…not rich in much else…great for Douglas Fir trees, vegetables, not so much. Last year’s garden was a total Test Garden. We did not improve the soil, at all, on purpose, and it did okay with some help from granulated fertilizer. The tomatoes were delicious, the strawberries did terribly!! This year we chose a different area within the ashes of a burn pile. Mixing all of that into the soil beneath it really broke up the packed, rocky soil and seemed perfect for the potatoes, onions, corn, and celery. We also added pots with traditional bagged soil because the burn pile was not big enough for everything I wanted to plant…… I think we need to call this Test Season #2.

Veggie Garden 2013 – One Month Later (June)…Oh How They’ve Grown

One Month Later...Potatoes, Celery, and Corn

One Month Later…Potatoes, Celery, and Corn


Carrots

Carrots

Gourds...what do you do with gourds??

Gourds…what do you do with gourds??

Pinto Beans

Pinto Beans

Watermelon, Cantaloupe, and Pumpkins

Watermelon, Cantaloupe, and Pumpkins

Tomatoes, Green and Yellow Bell Peppers

Tomatoes, Green and Yellow Bell Peppers

Remembering Our Garden Mistakes of 2012

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Genesis 2: 15

I’m always amazed when I plant a vegetable garden, and it actually starts to grow. I’m even more amazed when I’m grabbing a basket and plucking the beautiful gifts that garden gives. Can you imagine the preprogramming that is in each and every tiny, tiny seed?? Not only is the Big Guy the Master Gardner, He is the original computer geek…LOL!

I started this post with the mindset that I could get everything caught up about the garden into this one writing. Uuhhmmmm….that is not working too well, so I’m breaking it up. Why I’m saying that and just not doing it…I have no idea!!

I have found that there is a certain timing to planting a vegetable garden up here in Oregon. This has been a learning curve for me. In the San Francisco Bay Area of California, you’re pretty safe getting things into the ground really anytime from late February to mid March. Oregon plays by a different set of rules, I mean, it can be April, and a light frost comes on for a couple of nights damaging your young, delicate crops. Timing is everything. Last year was our first attempt at growing veggies within these conditions….let’s just say I lost most of my garden due to frost, and had to replant. Those things that did fight their way back…like a really brave eggplant, never really produced much….except the potatoes, they did really well.

The Brave Little Eggplant...produced a mutant vegetable after coming back from the late frost of 2012

The Brave Little Eggplant…produced a mutant vegetable after coming back from the late frost of 2012


Our 2012 potato harvest...not bad for hard, rocky soil!!

Our 2012 potato harvest…not bad for hard, rocky soil!!


Example of our 2012 garden

Example of our 2012 garden


Our funny little 2012 carrots..hahaha

Our funny little 2012 carrots..hahaha


Although the 2012 watermelon had reached the full size they were going to grow to...they hadn't ripened when we had to pick them to save what we could from the deer.

Although the 2012 watermelon had reached the full size they were going to grow to…they hadn’t ripened when we had to pick them to save what we could from the deer.

I think the short growing season has created, in me, a better appreciation and thankfulness for the produce that we receive from these plants. Truly, different from gardens past, wherein, the growing season and production times were much longer, I didn’t waste or let lay to waste any of it. I really saw for the first time, the value of what God had provided us from the tiny seeds we planted in the months prior to harvesting. It’s now mid July, 2013, and I’m just starting to see gems of goodness hanging from the vines and limbs (I can’t see what’s under, but I’m imagining with great hope)…looking forward to the coming weeks where I’ve gotten those precious “stones” out of the garden and onto our dinner plates. Now if I can just keep the deer from eating it first…..

The Bell Peppers struggled, and in the end were eaten by deer.

The tiny 2012 Bell Peppers struggled, and in the end were eaten by deer. As you can see, I gave up on trying to keep back the weeds..hahaha


This was the ripest of our 2012 watermelon...

This was the ripest of our 2012 watermelon…


The deer were hungry that night...pumpkin of 2012

The deer were hungry that night…pumpkin of 2012

This year’s garden, 2013, almost didn’t happen. The ground was not tilled, the protective fencing not up, and all of a sudden…winter turned to spring in late April, and we were unprepared. The, Have a Dane Hill Garden 2013, did get in the ground….that story is next…..

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