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August 20, 2015

A Cool Rock in a Shady Spot

Yes, I must agree with Sid, our sleeping yellow cat and the other animals at Front Forty. This is exactly what kind of week it has been, the kind where you want to find a cool rock in a shady spot and take a nap.  The high temperatures and humidity make for lazy-feeling days,  Although I am not complaining (this summer loving mama never complains when summer offers us its best), but I do feel a bit sorry for Little #2 and #3 who started double-session soccer practices this week.  They are handling it quite well, though, and are pushing through it like little troopers with very little complaining.  Lots of lemon water and watermelon have been consumed; bathing suits are the preferred attire, and the porch hammock is the favorite spot.

In spite of the heat, I have spent much of my week in the kitchen canning and pickling.  The cucumbers are producing like crazy at the moment, but much to my dismay, I believe they (and my tomatoes) are infected with verticillium wilt. I am trying to harvest and pickle as many as I can before the plants succumb to the disease. After doing some research, I think I may have discovered that this dreaded verticillim wilt is the culprit responsible for killing my cucumbers and tomatoes the past few years.  I'm not happy about this, but I am relieved to finally have an answer.  The process of getting rid of the fungi is slow, and Hubby and I are discussing the best method for doing so...more on that later...back to the pickles.  Garlic dills, sweet spears, and bread and butter pickles are filling the shelves of the pantry along with jars of mixed vegetables (cauliflower, carrots, onions, beans, and zucchini) and dilly beans.  I have used the traditional pickling method, but I would like to eventually try fermentation.  I am still trying to recuperate from a fermentation-gone-bad experience, so I haven't quite dared step into that new realm of preservation yet...maybe next summer. I would love any suggestions you may have for books and/or resources on the process of fermentation.

Last night Hubby and I took a few minutes to sit on the porch before the mosquitos bombarded us, and we were commenting on how lush and vibrant everything was...the gardens, the pastures, the woods, the lawn...everything is so full.  It's hard to believe that all that green foliage, all that color eventually fades, and we are left with a white and grey landscape.  I asked him, "Which is harder to imagine, summer during the frigid, white days of winter, or winter during the lush, warm days of summer?" We are undecided. 

August 17, 2015

A Trip to the Antiques Barn

Good morning!  What a beautiful August morning it is! The sun is shining; the air is warm; the insects are chirping and buzzing their August tune (August just has a distinct sound that no other month has).  The day will be hot, but I am drinking in every last minute of these late summer days because autumn is near, which I was reminded of this morning as I sent two of the Littles out the door for their first session of their fall pre-season soccer. Yes, these days are to be savoured.

One thing Hubby and I enjoy doing, at least once during the summer, is antique shopping, and we had been hankering all summer long to make a visit to this one particular place, a huge old barn full of antiques and junk, well mostly junk, but such a fun place to browse amongst the dust and cobwebs in search of treasure.  We didn't think we would make it there this year, but last weekend the opportunity presented itself, and we gladly accepted. We both had in mind particular items that we would be looking for, things that we needed, as we are trying to be very conscious of what we purchase and keeping the clutter to a more buying items simply because they are cheap or interesting...they must have useful value.  Hubby was in search of wooden shovel handles, which he found, because so many of our shovels are in need of having their handles replaced, and I had a few household items in mind, including aprons, which, unfortunately, I did not find.  I did, however, bring home a few oh-so-very-useful items that I am very excited about.  It's funny how "useful" has slowly turned exciting over the years.

A lovely watering can was the first thing I laid my eyes on and after some careful inspection of the nozzle I decided I would be taking it home with me...then, I put it down, thinking I didn't want to carry it all through the barn with me, that I would pick it up on our way out.  Well, I forgot to pick it up, and we ended up turning around, after we had already buckled hot, whiny kids in their car seats and drove two miles down the road. Hubby graciously ran back in and purchased my watering can.

The next item that found its way home with us was a wonderfully large and sturdy drying rack. It can hold an entire load of much as I can currently hang on my clothes line.  I wanted more drying space, but Hubby and I were having difficulty finding a spot to hang more line. This rack is the answer to my drying needs. It is so sturdy and big! I couldn't wait to wash a load of laundry just so I could use my new rack...imagine that...excited to do laundry.
I also picked up a few wooden laundry baskets.  I spotted them near the end of our visit and was hesitant to purchase them because of their price, but then just as I was leaving the stall they were in I noticed a sign saying that everything in that booth was 50% off.  Bingo!  I had myself two new laundry baskets.

The final item is this enamel chamber pot which works as our new "chicken bucket". It fits perfectly under the sink, and the lid keeps everything covered up until it's time to feed the chickens.
We also picked up a few things for Little #9's upcoming birthday, which I will wait to show in order to keep them a surprise.
Hunting for thrifted treasure is such fun, and I love coming home with items that are so useful and make life on the homestead that much easier.  (Still on a search for a few aprons.)

An update on Maggie, our new kitten...
   As I mentioned before, the Littles found a kitten that had been hit by a car a few weeks ago.   It was heartbreaking...her tail was dead; she was covered in maggots, and she couldn't use the lower half of her body.  The Littles said they heard her meowing in the woods, and when they found her she was dragging herself towards them with her front paws. She drank an entire bowl of water on the way to the vet's office (we held back food in case she would need surgery).  The vet estimated that she had lain in the woods, possibly unconscious, for three days.  Her spine was broken at the base of her tail, but in spite of her horrific ordeal she was perky and begging for attention.  The vet said they would remove the tail, clear her of the maggots, and care for her wounds, but we would have to wait and see if  the nerves from the spinal break would recover.  After a week, Maggie was doing wonderfully. She was eating and drinking like a champ, her tail fell off on its own (no surgery), and she was able to stand and walk on three legs.  The vet said she was such a cheerful kitty, full of energy and desire, and  she didn't seem to be bothered by her injuries.  She, however, was unable to go to the bathroom on her own.  The nerves to her bladder were still not working, and the vet was expressimg the bladder three times a day (sometimes more).  We decided to give her some more time.  After another week Maggie was still not able to go to the bathroom, so after getting second opinions and a long discussion with the vet, we made the  tearful decision to lay Maggie down to sleep.  She was scheduled for 9:00 am the next day.  Hubby was going to the hospital to be with Maggie and then bring her home to be buried peacefully under the trees. It was a sad morning, I struggled with putting such a loving, cheerful kitten down to sleep...I just wanted more time, more time to allow for possible healing.  I prayed for a miracle.

At 9:00 that fateful morning, I was trying to keep myself busy so as not to think about the sadness taking place at the vet.  I went to the shed to gather canning jars for pickles I would be making that day, and I heard the phone ring. I ran in the house to find that it was Hubby. I picked it up, expecting him to say that it was over and he was on his way home.  Instead his voice was chipper as he explained to me that a vet, at the hospital where Maggie was, met them in the waiting room and told them she decided to take Maggie home with her, to give her more time, to express her bladder and watch for signs of healing.  She said she would start with a month.  She wouldn't let her suffer, but she wanted to give her more time.  She said the hearling process can take quite some time, and they really don't know enough about the nerves and spine to say that Maggie is ready to be put down. If we were willing,  she was offering to do this for free, and if Maggie improves and the nerves heal, she will give her back to us.  I received my miracle! We are now praying for little Maggie's full recovery. 

August 7, 2015

Oh, so busy...

Happy Friday to you all! I am just quickly checking in to say, "hello", and let you know I have not forgotten you all.  I'm sorry that I haven't been keeping up with posting. It's not for lack of wanting to; life has just kept me so very busy...a good busy, though.

Beans, squash, zucchini, red potatoes, garlic, kale, chard, lettuce, cucumbers, broccoli, and lots of herbs are being harvested, almost daily, from the gardens.  Looking forward to tomatoes soon,

Dilly beans and pickles are filling the pantry shelves.  Kale, broccoli and beans are going into the freezer.  Parsley, basil, oregano, cilantro, and sage are drying and filling the herb jars.

A mama and daddy Rose-breasted grosbeak have brought their family of little ones to our feeders. What a joy it has been watching them each day!

Our eldest daughter celebrated her 19th birthday...19th!!!  Where does the time go?

Work on the addition continues...cedar shingles and trim going up this coming week.

A clutch of keets (baby guinea fowl) were warmly welcomed to the farm a few weeks ago.
Little #2 and #5 brought home a stray kitten they found while on a bike ride.  The poor little thing had been hit by a car.  She is currently at the vet, and we are all praying for a small miracle for her.

Wildflowers are being brought in daily and placed all around the house.

I have been trying to stay updated on Instagram, with lots of garden related posts, so feel free to come by and visit me there from time to time.  I'd love to see you.

July 17, 2015

Vintage Beach Chairs

In anticipation of our recent trip to the coast, Hubby mentioned wanting to bring comfy beach chairs. After taking a peek at what the local stores offered and not being entirely impressed with the prices or the options, I remembered a pair of vintage beach chairs that we had stored in our shed, waiting for me to find the time to refurbish them. One no longer had its cloth seat, and the other seat was so brittle it disintegrated in my hands while taking it off the wood frame. Hubby did some light repairs to the frames, and I sewed two seats from brightly patterned decorator's fabric that I purchased rather inexpensively, a modern floral/paisley print for one chair, and a beachy stripe for the other.  I sanded the wooden frames and freshened them up with a couple coats of paint, a color quite reminiscent of drift wood...perfect for beach chairs, I would say. 
The whole process really didn't take long, and the cost to repair both chairs was less than the cost of purchasing one beach chair at a retail store.  I am delighted with our "new" old chairs, and, like I have said before, it was so rewarding to breath new life into something we already had.

July 15, 2015

July Garden

Oh, the garden this time of year; it flourishes so!  I think July is my favorite garden month with everything so lush and green.  The potatoes are over Little #10's head and setting on little white blossoms.  I hope the jungle of green is indicative of the amount of potatoes growing under the ground.
We have been enjoying kale, chard, beet greens, lettuce and radishes at almost every supper-time meal, and we have had a few snacks of sugar snap peas (looking forward to picking more this afternoon).  The green beans are covered in delicate purple blossoms, and I've spied baby zucchinis and tiny broccoli heads, so hopefully we will be adding more of a variety to our table very soon.

The garlic and onions are looking much more robust than last year (which I am very excited about), and the herbs, oh, the herbs, they are growing like weeds.  I have already begun dehydrating basil, cilantro, and parsley, and the oregano is starting to set blossoms, so I will begin picking that as well (I have read for the best flavor that oregano is best picked while it is blossoming).

I'm a bit disappointed with the tomatoes.  I planted them in a different spot this year, in a completely different garden, in fact, in an attempt to avoid the blight that has plagued my tomatoes the past three years. The thought being that the disease may be in the soil where the tomatoes were previously planted.  The plants are growing rather slowly and look a bit weak, and I can barely bring myself to even mention this, but I have noticed signs of blight on the bottom-most leaves on a few of the plants. I'm not sure if the slow growth is due to less sun than they desire (this garden being a bit more shady than the other), or maybe the soil where they are planted is lacking something they need.  I just don't know.  I have begun feeding them and watering at the base daily and removing the infected leaves in hopes that they will make a recovery. We shall see.

The garden overall is doing well, and I am so pleased.  I look forward to harvesting and putting away lots of veggies to feed our family over the winter.  How is your garden growing?

July 10, 2015

The Seashore

We recently spent a lovely day at the beach...the sand, the sun, the waves, the salty air, and even the seagulls...ahhhhhh...summer is good!  I hope you are having a good week and are enjoying a bit of summer goodness wherever you may be.

Thank you for all the prayers and well-wishes for Little #6.  They are truly appreciated.
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