Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rainy day, floods and more

It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring...

I'm glad somebody is restful, since it certainly isn't me! This morning, I was awakened abruptly by a loud thunderstorm at 5:00 Am. My little dog Hannah immediately swarmed out from under the covers and huddled across my face, shivering. She does not like thunderstorms, and while I sympathize, having a 12 pound dog cutting off your air and scraping your eyelids with her claws is not a pleasant early morning experience. There was nothing for it--I managed to remove the little face-hugger and was up for the day. Lucky for me, I had filled the coffee pot before retiring the previous evening, so all I had to do was over-ride the timer and I had the lovely hot stuff to wake me up. This was all good, as the morning was rather chaotic! The thunderstorm did not abate, and in fact was pretty bad for a good couple of hours. For those of you without dogs, this means that (1) not one wanted to go out and pee/poo, so at least one of them whizzed on the carpet, (2) flooding ensued on the sun porch to an impressive degree, (3) my umbrella blew inside out while I was trying to ferry feed to the chickens, so I got drenched all over instead of just my boots, (4) some dog broke a hole through a window screen, when I had forced them outdoors during a lull in the storm to "do their business, dammit" and the storm decided to renew with a vengance, and (5) the power went out temporarily right as the toaster was in the middle of its cycle, which royally screwed up its timing for my english muffin and one half was blackened while the other was pale and mushy. On the plus side, I didn't have to apply makeup in the dark so I don't look like Bozo the Clown, the dogs were all willing to eat their breakfasts, I had time to make a couple of eggs to go with my crummy muffin, I found good leftovers to bring for lunch, and I found both cats who had been outdoors all night without much trouble. And, when I left for work, it was only lightly raining--and didn't start to downpour until after I walked in the office door. So something about Mother Nature is on my side, in any case! It is always more comforting to look at a storm from the comfort of indoors, when the alternative it to be out in it trying to corral hypochondriac animals or dealing with monsoon flooding on one's porch.
In gardening news, I have been harvesting some sweet corn and rutabegas. The tomatoes are ripening, and aren't too mildewed--hopefully they won't get bad after today's rain! I am about sick of cucumbers, and I think I may start leaving them on peoples' porches in anonymous paper bags. To think I was worried that I wouldn't have enough for pickles! What the heck was I thinking?!?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Canning, canning and more canning...

Ahh, it is that time of year: Everything ripens at once, and what is a girl to do? There are bags of frozen berries in the deep freeze, cans in the closet, and jams galore in the cupboard. I even have potatoes piled in the fridge! It was a little cooler today (only 85 degrees), so I decided I had to do something with the 10 pounds of peaches that were ripening on my kitchen table. And of course, I made the unpleasant discovery that some winged creature was hatching out of them! I was able to salvage about 3 quarts of peaches, which was enough to make 6 pints of peach chutney. And then I decided, "I really need to harvest the rhubarb before the grasshoppers decimate it for the season". So out I went, armed with a sharp knife, and whacked away at the giant rhubarb shrubbery. That left me with 8 cups to stew into raspberry-rhubarb jam (recipe to follow!) and two cookie sheets full of chopped rhubarb bits to freeze and then bag. It is really good stewed with apples and raisins, and served with roast pork....mmmm. Makes me want Fall to come quick, just to enjoy that for dinner! And after I harvested all that rhubarb, I looked at the cucumber vines and realized, I had 20 more cukes ready to make into something. Which lead to making 4 quarts of kosher dill pickles. You know, at one point, I was worried about not having enough pickles. What the heck was I thinking?!? In any case, I am done steaming up the kitchen for the day (only took me 4 1/2 hours) and I am ready to go wash off some of the sweat I acquired during my canning frenzy. I just had to post the loveliest sight in the whole world: A line of cans, sparkling on the counter, filled with delicious preserves that will help me enjoy the winter months, making their happy "ping" sounds as the lids seal tightly. Oh, heaven!
Raspberry-Rhubarb Jam
7 cups chopped rhubarb
4 cups granulated sugar
1 large package of raspberry flavored Jello (don't use the sugar-free crap!)
Combine rhubarb and sugar in a large pot.
Set over medium-low heat. Sugar will melt into a syrup.
Stew rhubarb until it breaks down into gel. There will be a few chunks left, but it
should be thick and sauce-like.
Add Jello to stewed rhubarb in pot.
Heat at slow boil for 5-7 minutes, until it thickens a bit.
Ladle into hot half-pint jars, cap with two part lids.
Process jars in a boiling, hot water bath for 15 minutes to seal.
This is really great on toast, served with soft cheese on crackers, used between layers in a lovely cake, or (my personal favorite) heated slightly and served on top of vanilla ice cream. You can also use other flavors of Jello: Cherry, strawberry, and blueberry are very good!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hauling in the eggs!

Egg production is peaking! All the new hens are laying now, so I am getting 6-7 eggs per day. (One hen is still working out the kinks, so eventually she'll be more regular and I will have 8 eggs per day.) I am working on a sign to hang from the mail box, advertising my eggs for sale. Currently, I have 3 dozen in the fridge...and I have yet to collect today! Eeek! A girl can only eat so much quiche. I figure, if I sell 10 dozen eggs per month at $2 per dozen, that will pay for their monthly feed costs ($20 per bag of Layena). Way to make your livestock earn their keep, right? Oh, I feel so farmer-y...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Potato Harvest!

I am so excited: My potato project worked! This spring (end of April) I planted one seed potato cut into thirds into a very large plastic tub. After placing it on top of bricks near the garden, I waited. And soon enough, the little potato pieces started to grow. As the plants grew, I filled in the tub with more compost, straw, dirt, and sand. About a week ago, the plants started to turn yellow and die back. Which, according to the gardening books, meant that the potatoes were ready to be harvested. Last night, after a light rainy day, I pulled out the plants and tipped the tub over. After digging through the dirt pile, I found all sorts of little treasures. Hopefully they will dry out nicely over the next day or two, and then I will have fresh Nakota White potatoes to devour. I just love it when gardening experiments work out!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Recovery and Boredom...

Funny how those two things seem to go hand in hand, isn't it? It's been a week since I was diagnosed with Lymes Disease--damn ticks. I am feeling much improved, thank you, but still very tired and a bit achy. Apparently, this will continue for a while according to my researches on the internet. Hooray, hooray. I can only stand to sleep for so long, and then...dun dun...boredom sets in. So, I find things that "need to be done". The other day, I rearranged the living room, mostly because I decided that the sofa I was trying to lounge on wasn't comfortable and the other one would be. So, I moved stuff. And then the TV wasn't in a good viewing area, so I moved MORE stuff. In between moving things, I napped on said sofa. It took several hours, but the living room now has a nice cosy flow to it. And then I decided, I didn't want to see my office from the sofa (it's awful to have all that work staring at you while you are trying to nap), so I made curtains for separation. As you can see, it has a very nice Grandma's-attic vibe going on. Tres retro! Yesterday, I cleaned the kitchen and bathroom--took a couple hours, since I also went through the closet and sorted items to be washed and to be donated. I also wandered over to Goodwill and found some "new to me" shirts for the upcoming school year. I always love it when I can find 8 or 9 items for under $40. Yay bargains! After all that, yes, you've got it: I took a nap.