“Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food”

This phrase is used in our local Farmer’s Market advertising. It is amazing to me to go to our market and know that Thomas, Pete, Mike, Cedric, Kat, and others call me by name. They see hundreds of shoppers each week. They know what I am looking for and will “save” the item for my shopping. Each week, I spend $75-100 at the Farmer’s Market on locally grown vegetables, grass fed and finished meats, locally made sourdough breads, and locally made cheese from locally milked cows. This is added to the produce coming from our vegetable garden and orchard.

I know that my food did not travel across the country or worse across country borders to feed us. The menu varies with the seasons to take advantage of what is being grown. The market allows us to enjoy items I don’t want to be bothered with growing as they produce too much too fast and don’t freeze well, or not having growing tunnels at home, grow foods earlier or later than I can get them from the garden.

Currently, I am pickling cucumbers and jalapenos from our garden. Blanching and freezing green beans to add to the peas done earlier. Other peppers that will become dried peppers for winter cooking, or hot sauces are still growing in the garden. The tomatoes are still green, but mature ones can be purchased at the market. The market providing summer squash, broccoli and cauliflower, sweet corn (I only grow popcorn), scallions, lettuces to go with our harvests. Soon there will be peaches, then Asian pears, and finally apples from the orchard. The plums are nearly gone, the early blueberries mostly harvested.

Later this summer, some fall vegetables will be planted, and there is a lull in salad mid winter, but the rotation variety makes salads less missed in the mid winter months.

Summer before the Solstice

The weather is hot. And dry. We did benefit from some rain a few days ago that was spotty around the area, but did give us a little respite from the heat and the dryness.

Yesterday, I was sitting on the front porch with Randy. Randy was our postal carrier for most of the years since we built and moved here, but he retired a few years ago. He also runs cattle with two younger men, men about our sons’ ages. He had come over to let us know that they were going to mow our hay today so I wouldn’t let critters out that might be harmed by huge mowers and we were just sitting and visiting when he looked beyond me and asked if that was a snake on the porch rail. Sure enough, a black rat snake about 6- 6.5 feet long, just chillin’ on the rail behind me. Black rat snakes are our friends as long as they stay out of the house and out of the coop. He probably had been feasting on the chipmunks that have taken over since the dogs and barn cats have all passed away. The snake had been hanging out up near the barn, but had moseyed on down to the house. I went through the house, grabbed leather garden gloves, a 5 gallon bucket, and lid and came back out to relocate it. Randy looked at me like I was nuts and said, “Don’t ask me to help.” He did take the photo though.

This is the 5th one that we have relocated from the house or coop. The bucket was taken a couple miles away and the snake turned loose in the woods by a field.

Last night I did finish the June spinning challenge and finished plying the rainbow yarn.

It ended up 558 yards almost 4 ounces done totally on the spindles in the photo in 18 days. A project has already been begun.

The mowers did arrive this afternoon, two mowers and a tractor with a tedder to fluff up what was mowed. They will return Friday and bale it. I don’t think they are going to have a very good harvest as it didn’t get mowed in the fall and it didn’t get fertilized this spring. Randy said they are already about 60 bales short of what they usually get before reaching us, so he may not have much to sell this year, hopefully enough for their cattle.

The dry heat had caused the pea vines to yellow, so while they mowed, I harvested peas, the potatoes that were in one of the pea beds, a handful of Jalapenos, and a basket of plums. There are about that many more plums still ripening. They sure are good, not very large, but very sweet. And I also pulled the pea vines to be chopped up and put in the compost. My clippers are old and dull and wouldn’t do the job, so I may ask to borrow my daughter’s.

It took 3 hours to shell all of those peas, filling a bucket with empty pods, and yielding several quarts of peas. We enjoyed some for dinner and the rest frozen for meals when fresh veggies aren’t available except trucked across the country. In a couple of days, the tiny green beans will be large enough to start enjoying them and freezing more for later meals. The tomatoes have flowers, but no fruit yet and flowers on the cucumbers, but again, no fruit yet. One of the pea beds will be planted with more green beans, the other covered with old hay until cooler weather allows fall greens to be started.

We saw the doe with the singleton fawn, still a tiny one after the mowers left. Probably wondering where their tall grass covering had gone.

While I was talking to one of the younger mowers, we realized that a large branch in the top of one of my Asian pears is totally dead with pears on it, so recently dead. It doesn’t look like a lightening strike, but at some point it is going to have to be cut out. I don’t know what caused it. It is concerning as that is the tree that produces the most pears.

More heat and no rain for the next 10 days. At least the grass doesn’t grow fast when it is hot and dry.

Take care, stay cool, be safe.

Hot Weather and Harvest time

Much to our delight, the hayfields mowed and baled just before ours were done late this week and there is no rain in the forecast next week, so we might actually have our fields cleared this week. It is going to be brutally hot though, highs in the 90’s every day. That will make garden time happen only in the early morning and I will have to be sure the chicken’s water stays filled. They already are digging dust bath holes in the shade of the asparagus that are now more than 5 feet tall and full fern mode.

Every day, a cup of blueberries, a basket of peas, a few new potatoes, and a handful of delicious plums come in. The tomatoes and cucumbers have flowers. The green beans are full height and blooming, and there are small hot peppers on several of the plants. A few Jalapenos were brought in this week. The peas are reaching the end of their season and most of the potatoes had already died back and been dug. There are peas in the freezer and we have been enjoying fresh ones a few times a week. There may only be 1 more basket full to harvest, then the vines will be pulled and chopped for compost, the bed covered with straw until it cools enough to plant some fall crops later in the season.

Trying to stay out of the boot in the house as much as possible means that when I go downstairs in the morning to fix my coffee and breakfast, I often sit on the couch looking out the front windows, up the driveway. The doe with a singleton fawn was out there a couple days ago, standing patiently on the edge of the driveway, while her little one nursed. I have never seen that happen out in the open, so with no dogs here, she must feel safe.

Not the best photo as it was taken from inside the house, through the screen, and zoomed so as not to chase her off. She would periodically turn and clean the little one while it ate.

This morning was Farmer’s Market Day and every week, we purchase some flowers from our friends that grow flowers for market and weddings. Once a month, I get the larger bouquet and today’s one is so colorful and gorgeous.

We are halfway through the month and I am almost finished with the June Jenkins spindle challenge to spin a rainbow. We were challenged to spin at least 10 grams of each of the 7 colors, but I have chosen to spin the entire pigtail of each one, about 16 to 18 grams per color. The photo shows the 5 finished ones and the indigo ready to spin, but it is now more than half spun. Once it is done, only the violet will remain.

Next month we do a daily scavenger hunt and post our spindle with the found object. It usually only requires a single gram per day but I’m sure more will actually be spun. I need to get back to work on the pound of gray Shetland wool that is on my spinning wheel, but I think I need to give my foot another week to heal first.

I did resume my sessions with my physical trainer this week after 3 weeks off with us having had visitors, her going on vacation, and me wearing a new boot. We did only upper body on the various machines. The area where we usually train with hand weights is getting new flooring, so all the machines and equipment are moved out of that area. About 2/3 of the gym has thick padded glued down rubber mat type flooring. The other 1/3 had carpet with rolled out mat pads that had shifted due to the movement of the equipment and there were wrinkles that were hazardous if you weren’t paying attention. All the carpet and old rolled out mat pads are being removed and that area is getting the same type of flooring as the rest of the gym. It makes using areas awkward but the end result will be great. At home, I continue to use resistance bands and hand weights.

Stay safe, and if travelling, be careful until we meet here again.