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In order to make room for this season’s veggies, River and I took a load of last year’s frozen veggies from the freezer in our house to the chest freezer. I also added to the chest freezer four new bags of zucchini that were gifted to us from a local farmer friend. They were a surplus for her.
As a way to simultaneously bump up our jam supply and clean out the freezer, we turned all of our unused frozen fruit into a batch of jam. We combined raspberries, grapes, and peaches to make a really yummy three fruit jam.
River helped to prepare it by mashing the thawed fruit.
We also made sure to harvest fruit from the nearby fruit trees that no one harvests from. We dried some plums for winter dried fruit. River learned to use our new cherry pitter and pitted many of the plumbs herself.
When I made pesto pasta last week there was extra pesto and I froze it up. One little jar is more than no little jars.
Everything counts when it comes to food preservation.
One thing I do all winter long is to freeze hardy greens from the garden that would otherwise not be eaten. If I notice that a kale or collard plant has leaves that will go by and we have no need for them then I wash them and throw them in a freezer bag wet. Later, I go back and scrunch up the freezer bag, breaking the frozen leaves into bite size pieces. It takes very little effort, and makes it easy to throw greens into a veggie soup.
Here’s what the garden looked like nearly a month ago.
Here it is now:
Here’s the new section of the garden, yet to be fenced in. This photo is also from several weeks ago. We have potatoes growing there, along with two pumpkin vines, a cucumber plant, a few tomatoes, and a basil. Our potted herbs serve as a temporary border until the fence expands to include it.
The nasturtiums bloomed! Always a happy moment each summer.
Pears are ripening on the pear tree.
I harvested the mustard seed I grew for pickling.
Hooray for kids in the garden!
Here is River’s garden. She is growing beets, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Yesterday evening she added some marigolds. This first photo is from when we first planted it for summer. The second photo is about how it looks now.
Her beets are doing awesome.
A bit of traditional companion planting:
And the beans, rising up to glory:
This year in the garden we have growing tomatoes, basil, parsley, cilantro, green onions, storage onions, zucchini, cucumbers, lemon cucumbers, pumpkins, peas (which are nearing their completion), shelling peas (which sadly did not do too well, we’ll try again next year), green beans, shelling beans (for dried beans), beets, collard greens, nasturtiums, marigolds, sunflowers, and lettuce. We grow several varieties of mint, as well as marjoram, chives, fennel, garden sorrel, lavender, and rosemary. We have had strawberries already, as well as raspberries (just a bit of each). Ripening on the trees are pears, a few apples, and peaches! Yes, peaches! We’ve had cherries and plums, with more plums to come. We don’t have surpluses of any of these foods, just some. But some grown at home beets all my friend. Beets all.
Our chicken Spunky died last night. She became very ill and I had to make my first farmer like decision regarding a chicken. I know I made the right choice because despite all our best efforts, it became clear that a quality life free of suffering was not an option for her. I am grateful to my friends who helped me with the process, as I am a novice when it comes to chicken death.
Thank You Spunky for one good year. We appreciated your presence in our lives and all that you gave us. Thank you for eating grain out of our hands, thank you for letting us pick you up, thank you for entertaining River endlessly, and thank you for your eggs.
I have never seen an animal killed before. Although I was not particularly emotionally attached to Spunky, and even though it was done very well and very fast, it is still a powerful experience that is hard to shake.
I am glad for the year that we spent with Spunky. And I am glad for her. Although she died last night, she got an extra year of life. If we had not taken her into our flock her life would have been ended a year ago. She was getting picked on by her flock mates at her old farm, and the farmers were going to have her for dinner. Instead we took her on and incorporated her into a small flock where she was welcomed by the other chickens. They all got along well and she spent the past year in good company and seemingly in good spirits.
River and I buried her this morning and said goodbye.
Thanks Spunky. May you return to the cycle of life.
Thanks to my canning friend we caught the Hoods just in time. The Hood variety of strawberries that is. She texted me yesterday that they were in and in fact almost gone. She was canning up strawberry jam as she texted me.
River and I drove to the store at once and got two half flats. Today I canned up half of them in the form of strawberry jam. Tomorrow I’ll can the other half.
Our chickens have a large enclosure within out large yard. Amazingly, though, 3 chickens are able to turn a large green space brown very quickly.
I fenced off half of their enclosure several months ago and have been letting the greenery there grow back.
Today I opened up this ‘pasture’ to them. The ladies will get some luscious green before the dryness of our Pacific Northwest summer sets in.
Here you can see small scale rotational grazing in progress in a semi urban setting:
The line is distinct between the grazed and newly opened up pasture.
Bienvenidos a la verde.