Ready for the turn of the year

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The chickens are feasting in this time of Bounty.

IMG_1572 IMG_1571 IMG_1567 The garden is full, as our the local farmers’ fields and my neighbors’ fruit trees.

Canning my heart out.

Here is my canning diary, where I keep an updated record of my recipes used.

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And here is River’s version that she was working very hard on.

IMG_1613 IMG_1614IMG_1616 IMG_1615 Peach Jam with Agave

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Full Pantry

IMG_1645Drying thyme

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Collards harvest

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Bubba helps can salsa.

IMG_1618We chopped veggies outside all afternoon.

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And canned well into the night. Ok, well into the wee hours. Ok, it was 3:30 am.

IMG_1702Our backyard.

IMG_1718 IMG_1728My mother in law knows what I like. Look at the lovely checkered cloth napkin she gave me for my birthday.

IMG_1768Sunflowers!

IMG_1866Freezing sweet corn

IMG_1908 IMG_1912 IMG_1917The end of the summer and beginning of fall are full to the brim with things to do. I am well pleased to say that I have preserved an enormous amount of food this summer. My pantry is stocked with pickles, salsa, and an assortment of jam. Still to come are more applesauce, apple butter, dilly beans, and who knows, perhaps even some pumpkin butter?

I am excited to begin the search for a good, used chest freezer. We will need a chest freezer for the 1/8 of a cow, and half of a pig that we have on order from local farms.Our large freezer attached to our fridge is full to bursting with hand picked local blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries, and homegrown and friend grown green beans. Also in the freezer are fava beans to give us protein this winter and sauteed veggies that have been frozen in ice cube trays. These will liven up starchy winter meals with a little zest and freshness. My fridge currently holds many, many zucchini, all bound for the freezer and wintertime.

All this excitement and food preservation has me feeling ready for the slower pace of Autumn, ready for crafting and tea and candles. I dream of fabric. I can tomatoes.

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Back to Autumn

The year turns, and we find ourselves amid chilly evenings, red ripe tomatoes, brown grass, and heavy grape vines. School is here again, which means a shift for each member of our household. Soon the fall equinox will be upon us, and we will truly be immersed in Autumn.

So many summer guests, and so much canning and drying of fruit led right into the start of the school year. Then a sweet and fun little trip swept me away for a few days. Mama got a bit of time to relax. Now I am back to work and we begin, doing our best to learn this new rhythm.

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Nimbus

Hi All,

I have some sad news. Nimbus went missing yesterday and has not returned. This is her second night away from the coop and I’m guessing that she is gone from us for good.

She has been straying into the lane and into the neighbor’s yard and garden. We live in a neighborhood with many big dogs. My best guess is that she was exploring and scratching around and met one of these big dogs out in their yard.

Perhaps she will surprise me and just be in someone else’s coop, but I doubt it. I will send around flyers to the neighbors, asking if anyone has seen her.

It is fine, really. I wished for her a natural death. For a chicken, being killed by an animal is about as natural as it gets. I guess I had always pictured a raccoon, or a hawk getting her, something wild and hungry, but life is life, and so it goes.

Since her heath hadn’t declined any further I had started thinking that perhaps she would live to be a grandma chicken, the matriarch of the flock, the old one. But this is fine. She had a pretty beautiful, and wild life, for a yard chicken.

Thank you Nimbus for all the good years. Thank you Lady, for all of your beautiful and tasty eggs. Thanks for eating out of my hand, and all the good company you gave your two friends over the years, Firebird, and Dundren.

Rest well. We’ll remember you.

Posted in animals, chickens, struggles | 2 Comments

Life on the Back Yard Farm

My lovely and talented farming female friends shared with me some of their green beans. These became the first frozen batch I put aside. I tried out blanching for the first time.

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Slowly accumulating (non sprayed) wild blackberries and freezing them.

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This is my little ‘use now’ seed stash that sits ready for me, right here, near my computer in the kitchen. I treated myself to this wildflower mix while shopping the other day. Here in the Pacific Northwest, wildflower seeds can be sown during the rainy fall for spring germination.

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Remember those nasturtiums you’ve been spying in the garden pictures? Here are their seed pods, all pickled up. They call these Poor Man’s Capers, which I find a bit funny, seeing as every recipe I found online called for white wine vinegar. I don’t think poor men generally have white wine vinegar in their cupboards. I didn’t, so I used regular white vinegar with a splash of cider vinegar. I mixed in some home grown fresh thyme, and sliced onion.

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My storage onions turned out tiny! I guess that’s what I get for growing my garden under a Doug Fir tree. I am harvesting them as they are ready and plan to pickle them all, so as to turn them into a special treat. They sure are sweet, with their beautiful shiny skins.

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My new neighbor is pretty great. She invited me into her backyard to harvest apples.

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While I was there I noticed some grapes ripening. My husband and my stepdaughter and I have been on the lookout for ripening grapes. Come September, we will be harvesting grapes from all over town.

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Friends dropped by the other morning and hung out for a while. I scrambled up some eggs and made many waffles for us to eat.

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River’s new swing. Daddy is a good swing maker.

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The Grain Giving Apron is always a favorite with the ladies. All our chickens are doing well. We are going to clip their wings, and I guess I am ready, after loosing so many plants to their scratching and munching when they fly the coop.

IMG_1322 IMG_1320 IMG_1325Here is a planter turned dig pit; an example of the result of one of their flights of freedom. I had an excellent crop of mustard greens started in here. Until one day…

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Rudy, our most mellow, handsome, family dog.

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My dad is in town and he and River and I hit up one of my favorite farm stores, Naomi’s Organic Farm Supply. I got some worm poop for my garden.

IMG_1333 IMG_1334Pea vines drying in the sun, creating pea seeds for next spring.

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Our faithful clothes drying rack. Always doing good work.

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I splurged on some flower start’s at Naomi’s. I pictured our lot being so full of flowers this summer, and in truth their is only a sprinkling of flowers here. Enough for me to find joy in, but I thought I’d give myself a little bonus. The chickens ate up many many flower seeds and starts this spring and early summer.

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Ok, so I splurged on more than just the flowers. I also got myself a set of cards by the artist Jill Bliss, who I am really beginning to like. I am excited to write all my friends and family on these beautiful note cards. Living long distance from those you love requires much card writing to be done.

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New gardening gloves! I have no idea where my other two pair are. I have some blackberry bushes to tackle, and so gloves are a must.

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Must start collards.

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Fish Bone Meal to feed the fruiting crops in our garden. I am an amendment novice, but the wise and friendly folks at Naomi’s Organic Farm Supply helped me out. Per usual.

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There you have it folks. That’s what’s been up here. What is August full of for all of you?

Posted in animals, baby, chickens, garden, harvest, home, parenting, preserving, thrifty | 1 Comment

My Early August Garden

There are many green tomatoes in my garden these days. August and September will see them brought in.

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IMG_1152The mustard greens are growing strongly.

IMG_1170As are the pole beans.

IMG_1167IMG_1165Here you can see the pea vines drying next to the vibrant new pole beans. They shared the same trellis.

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Color in the form of flowers graces the garden.

IMG_1178IMG_1182IMG_1168IMG_1173IMG_1172And sunflowers yet to come.

IMG_1186And when I feel like my garden isn’t producing anything… I take a deep breath, go out and pick greens, and make a meal.

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Dill Pickles

Today my hubby, the little one and I took a trip to a close by local farm and farm stand. I got two flats of pickling cukes, a flat of blueberries, four bundles of dill, and a few other fresh finds.

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Once home, I began my pickling session by making a batch of vinegar dills. As in boiling water bath, quick pickles.

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As I felt the tiredness coming on I made the executive decision to make one huge, ‘easy’ batch of fermented pickles, thereby saving myself a bunch of labor. I had planned on using the crock anyway, but I filled it. I truly filled it.

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The Crock.

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A look inside the crock at the ‘aromatics,’ as the recipe calls them.

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Onions, dill fronds, and underneath, garlic cloves, peppercorns, dried hot peppers, and very locally picked grape leaves (for crispness).


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Cucumbers layered inside the giant crock.

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The cucumbers in their brine. After all this I put a clean plate over the cuckes, and weighed it down with a gallon zip top bag very full of water. I then covered all this with a clean cloth and hid it away in a cool, dark, out of the way spot.

After the 7 pints and 1 quart of vinegar dills had come out of their boiling water bath, and after the crock was full to the brim with cukes and brine, I still had half a flat of cucumbers left over, and a bundle of dill. This is just perfect for another 6 or 7 pint batch of vinegar dills. I will make those in the next few days, before the cucumbers go soft.

And the blueberries, you ask. Well those will get munched fresh, and mostly frozen. I have frozen frozen frozen blueberries for most of the summer. We have two and a half gallon zip top bags in the freezer. Those delicious frozen blueberries get eaten just about as fast as I can freeze them. But that’s ok. That’s what they’re for. Every bit of locally grown ¬†goodness we eat makes our bodies stronger and more vibrant. All this food is for eating I tell ya.

Posted in canning, kitchen, pantry, preserving | 1 Comment

Late July Garden

Here are the garden pictures I promised. Late July, and things are getting big. Tomatoes, beans, and cucumbers are coming on. The sunflowers are about a foot and a half tall. My garden may be behind a little bit, but seeing as I created it beginning in November, I feel pretty good about things. Luscious fruit is growing. Pears overhang the garden. Flushes of greens come and go. Flowers grace the borders. It brings me Joy and Peace.

IMG_0897Yes, beefy green tomatoes.

IMG_0899I love my Nasturtiums. Even though their taste is not my favorite, bits of the leaves torn up in a salad bulk it up, as well as diversifying the taste. And as my stepdaughter says, it’s nice to see some other colors besides green in a garden. I am coming to appreciate this wisdom more and more.

IMG_0915Bean City! Pole beans aclimbin’. We have bush beans and pole beans both producing fruit. I mostly munch the green beans raw as I work in the garden. Same way I eat the peas in the spring.

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Fall garden plantings. These were started awhile back. Green cabbage and chinese cabbage.

IMG_0919More big beautiful green tomatoes.

IMG_0928Baby swiss chard. Started recently for our fall garden. River helped me plant the seed. It is everywhere in the garden. Hooray!

IMG_0937The garden as a whole.

Enjoy soaking up the comfort your garden has to offer.

Stay tuned for August when more posting will flow like water.

Posted in garden, harvest | 4 Comments