Monday, July 21, 2014

A Fun Day of Firsts

We were invited to go river fishing this weekend and it was a perfect day for it; temps in the lower 80's with a sporadic cover of clouds and the occasional breeze.

Morning barn chores were done in a rush, an impromptu lunch was thrown into the cooler, and we were off!

This was Rhiannon's first time on a river boat, or as a matter of fact, in any type of the water.  Rhiannon gets lots of  boating "practice" as we do have a small fishing boat, but alas, it sits in the side yard instead of the water.  She is also very proficient at casting out a line as she practices with her fishing pole in the front yard by throwing out a plastic weight and catches "cat" fish (i.e. Outside Kitty chases it around the yard).   Rhiannon wasn't apprehensive at all about going on the water, which was a relief because unlike her, up until just recently, I was anxious about getting into one.

We spent over four hours on the river.

We fished.  We ate chips.  We marveled at the clear, cool water and how you could see the fish just a foot down.  We ran the boat up and down the river.  We caught some fish (and played with them in the live well).  We took a break and pulled up to shore and walked around.  We fished some more.  And when Rhiannon (and I) were getting too hot (and maybe even a little bit cranky), our fishing guide took us back to the boat launch and we brought our catch home.

Rhiannon was out like a light five minutes into the car ride home.  And then was somehow magically refreshed and renewed and ready to take on the world after a five minute powernap.  I, however, was exhausted beyond belief and collapsed into a coma like it was nobody's business for a full two hours.  How does one get so tired from sitting on one's behind the entire time?  I don't know, but I'm telling you, it took all of my remaining strength (and a little help from Paul yanking me) to get out of bed for evening barn chores.

We live a stone's throw away from the river (and the lake as a matter of fact), but as many of you can attest to, it seems the closer you are to something fantastic like this, the less likely you are to take advantage of it.  Why is that?  Is it because it's taken for granted?  Because we say "Oh, we can get out there any time" or "There's stuff that needs to be done today, we'll go tomorrow"?  Not that I'm advocating throwing all reason and responsibilities to the wind and just screwing off every day.  But maybe there would be more time for it if we made an effort to make more time for it.

I hope that we'll make more time for river and lake fun from now on.

Is there anything that you need to make more time for?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Another fruit loss

Just a few weeks ago there were nectarines a' plenty on the trees.  This was the first year they fruited and I was anxious to taste them.  And then while yanking random weeds in the yard, I passed my full-o-fruit nectarine tree and saw something that made me do a double-take.

Every. Single. Nectarine was covered in some icky fungus stuff and some of the branches look as if they are blighted.  I didn't even know that nectarines got blight.

The pears suffered from blight this Spring, the apples trees only had a few fruitlets on them (even though there were plenty of flowers) and now the nectarine trees have suffered this new ailment.  It seems that the peach trees are our last hope for any fruit this year.  We have four pathetic blueberry bushes which yielded zip blueberries and I never made it out to the Pick-your-own so we'll be blueberry-less as well.

The strawberry beds did well this spring, but those are long gone and I didn't even freeze or jam any of them.  Which is actually ok since I vowed it would be a Jam-Free 2014 in order to use some of the jam already in the pantry.

Last year I was able to can some pears and apples, but we're down to one quart of apples and six quarts of pears.  So unless I find someone with a bumper crop of pears and apples, there will be no glistening jars of home-canned fruits this year.  Just another reason to stock up for more than one year.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Flurry on the Homestead!

This Summer Polar Vortex thing totally rocks!  Although we didn't get any snow flurries, I was in a flurry of activity as I spent all morning outside and I didn't melt into a pool of rendered fat.

I spent hours out in the jungle garden this morning yanking weeds and swearing at the tenacity of the prickly sida which even at less than 12" tall requires a backhoe to yank out from the earth.  I don't know what, if any, useful purpose they serve in the circle of life, but if I had the power to wish any weed away it would be prickly sida and morning glory, neither of which have any food or medicinal use so I say to hell with 'em.

While weeding out an area where I have volunteer tomato, squash and melon plants, I discovered these little beauties:

And immediately cut up the ripe one, went outside to pick a few leaves of fresh basil (yet another volunteer plant), a little S&P and voila:

I'm telling you, I just love Slothwoman Gardening.  Granted, I'm not exactly sure what I'll get or how much of any particular item I'll harvest, but I'm really looking forward to having Paul tear up another section and just toss any and all of my old garden seeds, rotted veggies & fruits in there and just let it go.  Of course, I'll have to continue with "normal" gardening if I ever want to have a real vegetable harvest, but the Sloth Gardening is kind of fun with not much work involved.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Getting Big

No, not my arse (total lie), but the baby Phoebes.  There are still four of them in the nest and it looks like they're about to pop out of there any minute.  They seem pretty miserable.  But I suppose anyone would be smooshed together with three other bodies in 90+ degree heat with 114% humidity:

We've had deer come browse on the new grass in the soon-to-be-fenced-in pasture area.  There are two bucks:

And two does, each with a doeling of their own:

As long as they don't start munching on my squash garden and young apple trees all will be well.  Although I suppose it won't be too bad as it will make them fatter for Fall........

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Poo on you

I spent some time sweating my arse off and wanting to just die in the garden during the week.  A little bit of weeding, a little bit of mulching, a lot of watering and a little bit of flinging poo.

Yes, I'm immature.  So sue me.

But my plants don't care what I call the black gold.  Manure.  Compost.  Dung.  Muck.  Excrement.

The "I Wonder What These Are" squash plants that survived the deluge last month are doing ok, but looked like they could use a little pick-me-up.  So I got out the shovel and a bucket and proceeded to amend the rocks and sticks earth they were popping out from with some of the old mule manure and gave them a good watering.

Then the next day, I noticed that some of the smaller plants were basically dead:
Yup.  Killed 'em.
The older plants are just fine.  I'm not sure if the manure wasn't composted enough or if the two days of 90+ degree days did the smaller ones in, or both.

I was going to add some to the sweet potato trenches, but wasn't sure if that was a good idea or not.  I still need to hill them as the slips are really starting to take off so later today I'll be forking wasted goat hay into the wheelbarrow and wheel it down to the 'taters.  I've already got major swampass going so what's another sopping wet handkerchief, right?

I heard rumors of a Summer Polar Vortex.  Is it true?  Really?!  I could go for a flurry right about now.  Maybe I'll spare my garden the cold and just blend me up a Pina Colada instead.  Although I am three days late for National Pina Colada Day.  You won't rat me out and call the F.P.A.B. P. (Fancy Pants Alcoholic Beverage Police) on me, will ya?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Payoff of Sausage Making

Several weeks ago Paul and I started mixing up the ground pork in to various sausage mixtures.  And then his brother came in for a visit so I had them stuff the sausage mixes into casings so we could actually eat them like "proper" sausages.  We sampled some that day, of course, but the rest went into the freezer for future meals.

Yesterday morning I took out a five pack hank of Italian sausage to defrost and last night I broiled them and then cut up some fresh green peppers (thanks, Ma!), onions, garlic, opened a can of diced tomatoes (yes, I know I should have fresh but mine aren't putt'n out yet and I'm not buying grocery store ones), grabbed some fresh oregano, chives and basil from my herb garden and sauteed everything together.  Plopped the cooked sausages into the vegetable mixture to warm it up and Ta Da!

It would have gone great with some fresh Italian bread with olive oil, but alas, I was forgot until it was too late.  Next time.

Anyways, it really was a simple, but great supper.  And if I weren't such a lazy sloth of a woman, all those fixings could have come right from the garden.  But still, everything but the onions (Georgia Vidalia....yum!!), the garlic (not sure from where) and the salt were local.

Are you eating out of your garden yet?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Baby Bird Bonanza

Since about the time we moved to our homestead, we've had a pair of Phoebes nest under the front or back porch.  They've had sporadic luck with hatching out their brood.  One year I found a rat snake in the process of devouring the last of four chicks in the nest.  Another year they had a cowbird lay it's egg in the nest (although I took it out).  And last year, they didn't even bother to hatch out any eggs in the nest as Outside Kitty had started taking up residence and his constant presence on the porch scared them away.

But this year, they had come back:

Because Outside Kitty, after becoming part of the family and getting fixed, is no longer the wild little hunting panther that he used to be and I'm assuming the Phoebes realize that his legs can no longer propel his rotund body up onto the beam where they have their nest.
A much heavier Outside Kitty.  Inside.  With Kitty Manboobs.
One year they were able to hatch out two broods and I'm hoping they can get this clutch to fledge and then start on a second.

We've been noticing two wild turkey hens right around the house the past month.  I was a bit disappointed though because I didn't see any poults with them.  But then just yesterday Rhiannon & I saw a hen in the soon-to-be pasture area with seven little ones!  They scattered as soon as we started towards them, but it was nice to see that she had hatched out so many.  This morning they were in the soon-to-be (why is it seems everything around here is "soon-to-be" or "eventually-gonna-be"??) permaculture garden, picking through the weed seeds and hopefully eating bugs.  
Hard to get a non-blurred shot as they were scooting all over the place.
I haven't seen the Red-Bellied Woodpeckers at Charlie's food dish lately, so I can only assume that their offspring have fledged already and the constant nasally-sounding cawing from the hungry fledgling crows has finally subsided.  The crow family is still hanging around and although I don't mind it now, I'm sure I will be curing them when they are pecking my squash and melon plants to bits next month.