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 chickens, garden, harvest, thrifty, baby, parenting, animals, home, preserving | 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.

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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.

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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

Guests and Summer Goodness

I feel most lucky that some beloved friends have moved to the area and are staying with us until they settle in. Our home is full. Full of kids, full of laughter, full of parenting, and full of food. What a joy it is. I am grateful for all the bounties that summer has to offer.

As always, I’ve been doing a variety of things, including watering my garden and trellising my pole beans, sewing up a mini-storm, hanging out with babies and animals, drinking coffee with friends, and of course, making sauerkraut.

I have a batch fermenting on the counter right now, and tomorrow a friend is going to walk me through her process; she is going to show me how she makes spicy kraut for her family.

IMG_0723 IMG_0731 IMG_0737Awww, it’s so cute. A red checkered cloth can make all the difference in the world.¬† : )

Oh yes, then there’s been baking. A wise and wonderful woman once told me to go out and buy a pastry blender. Good thing I listened to her. My fresh cherry scones are all the rage.

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River helped at her play kitchen, making her own tiny batch. I think the chickens got the scraps, but she got the experience.

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IMG_0769Wildflowers.

More toddler shorts. The fabric I used for both the previous pair and this pair kind of make the shorts look like long undies. But that seems fine to me, especially considering all the skirts we have been given. I washed and dried some darker fabric and some stripey stuff. I’ll use the same homemade pattern to make a few more pair, and hope that those will look a bit more like true shorts.

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Today we hit up the Farmers’ Market with our new temporary roommates. It was packed. And vibrant. We’ve got local zucchini, tomatoes, blueberries, and peaches gracing our fridge now.

I saw how hard the folks at this stand were working. And I thought about how they had probably been up since five or some such thing. Thanks Farmers. We’re gonna love up your veggies.

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Well I hope everyone is doing well out there. How are your gardens? Mine grew by leaps and bounds when 3 cool rainy days followed 3 hot hot weeks. Pole beans are climbing so high, collards so full. Goodbye to the peas and hello to the beans. Hello fall plantings. Hello baby greens. Hello second plantings of oh so much.

I’ll try to get out some photos of my larger than last time garden. Next Time.

Posted in baby, baking, garden, home, kitchen, parenting, preserving, sewing | 2 Comments

Full

Hi there,

boy, summer is a full time. We have been picking berries like nobody’s business. Our freezer is loaded with them. The garden is growing and growing. So is my little one, who is two now. We’ve had friends come to stay, relatives come to stay, and now more friends are on their way. I’m working two and half days a week now, which has been tricky for our family to adjust to. I think for where we are as a family, it would be better if I were working less outside the home. But life goes on. I am grateful that this fall I will go down to one and half days a week.

Anyway, here are some snapshots from from around here. I know I’ve been posting less than usual. Busy busy.

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Nimbus is still doing great, all things considered. I am amazed. She is 5 years old, and I think she is still even laying an egg every day. She’s a ‘wild’ chicken, so she hides them, and honestly, we don’t want to eat her eggs right now. What a strong and lovely lady.

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Growing winter chinese cabbage. I know the spider web looks icky, but I welcome spiders in my garden because they love to eat aphids. Eat away spiders!

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We took a family trip to the Oregon Coast. I mostly read my book and sipped coffee. It was amazing to be alone, at least in my mind. Being a mom of a two year old is both joyful and filled with two year old needs. It feels good to fulfill my own needs.

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I grew turnips!

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My friends and I have been going to Sauvie’s Island every other week to pick produce. Mostly berries so far, but soon come more green beans. pickling cukes, summer squash, and then corn. I day dream about a chest freezer. Luckily, our fridge’s freezer is pretty hefty.

River has been doing well on these excursions, but I think that I will bring a long a mother’s helper for a few of the upcoming trips. I know a wonderful twelve year old who wants to help watch my little one, for free no less! I will invite her along, and send her home with some veggies for her fam.

Bye for now…

 

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

Blueberries

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Blueberry picking on Sauvie’s Island with our multi-branched family and our friends. Back home now, with the freezer stocked and tummies full of blueberries.

Happy pickin.

 

Posted in baby, harvest, preserving, thrifty | 2 Comments