Suh-weeeeet!

Some friends of ours offered to let us come pick some of their sweet corn from a large field that their extended family had planted. They had done a mega-day of shucking, cutting, freezing, and processing and were back in their home state of Alabama.IMG_9022 We were only to glad to come enjoy the fruits of their labor seeing as how the racoons are eating more of my corn in the garden than we are. We waited until after 4 in the afternoon to pick, thinking it might be cooler, but not a chance. We sweated and toiled (although not very hard) under the late afternoon sun.

Why aren't YOU picking?!

Why aren’t YOU picking?!

It didn’t take long and when we were loading the corn in the van we counted 465 ears! We have been busy shucking, washing and cutting these beautiful white ears of corn. IMG_9024Smothered in butter, creamed, in soups, there is no shortage of ways we enjoy this delicious vegetable. We are so thankful for friends who share their harvest with us less fortunate gardeners :)

At the Expo

IMG_20150724_141152918The Kentucky Department of Agriculture hosted an expo to teach the 4-hers and FFA youth more about livestock judging. This event was held in Bowling Green, so some of the girls and I made a day of it. It was the first time Charlotte had attended one of these events so her head was crammed full of information!IMG_20150724_142545052 She had to learn cuts of meat, genetics of animals, breed classes, livestock equipment. The kids took a test and then judged 8 different classes of animals. The test was fun for the kids who’ve never had to “fill in the circles” of a scantron test before.IMG_20150724_101732306_HDR We went with friends of ours who share a passion for raising and showing animals. We met so many nice people there who were eager to share information and network about ideas. All the kids won medals for various placings in livestock judging. Some won more than one. It was a fantastic opportunity for learning more about raising and caring for animals. IMG_20150724_185348246

 

Work now, Feast later

Whew! Does everything come in from the garden at the same time?! My canner and propane cooker have sure gotten a workout these past few days. I’ve never canned green beans before, but I’ve eaten the bounty of others’ work before. Boy, are they delicious! So 100 jars of beans? Hope so!IMG_9027 Here’s my favorite method of canning tomatoes. The resulting sauce can be used for a delicious marinara sauce over pasta. For a savory pizza sauce. It’s very versatile. And I love knowing that everything in it comes from the garden. First, roast washed and halved tomatoes in the oven under high heat. We’re talking hot, like 450. For 40 minutes. Believe me it’s worth heating up the kitchen for this deep, smoky flavor. A lot of the juices will run out of the tomatoes so make sure to put them on a rack on top of the baking sheet. IMG_9025Then take those fire burned beauties and whiz them up in the blender. To 8 sheets of tomatoes I added 4 smallish red onions, 10 garlic cloves, a large handful of basil and a couple tablespoons of salt. I kept the sauce on low in a stockpot to keep it warm while the tomatoes all were getting roasted. Water bath can them for 35 minutes. To be on the safe side you can add 1T of lemon juice or 1/4 tsp of citric acid to each quart jar. The smell in the kitchen during this process was mouth-watering!

These shoes were made for walkin’

IMG_9028Easy keepers. That’s what we got and that’s what we like. Horses can be molly-coddled, can be pampered, can be a money pit. But our sweet rides have been virtually no trouble at all. We give them a bale of hay a day in the winter, corn cobs we’ve gleaned from the fields, sweet feed every now and then and fresh water. Usually we get their hooves trimmed twice a year. Our farrier always says that they look fine. IMG_9034But this last time we got them trimmed, Buddy had developed a bacteria in his hoof that weakened the side wall and caused part of his hoof to break off. A lot of horses in the area have been battling this bacteria since last year, and with all this wet weather, Buddy has finally succumbed. IMG_9036So, our farrier fitted him for a new pair of shoes. Usually our horses go around barefoot. If I can’t afford shoes for my kids, I would feel silly buying shoes for my animals!  (just kidding 😉 These shoes will need to be refitted every 6-8 weeks. Now we are back to enjoying some riding time!

Good lookin' hooves, hey!

Good lookin’ hooves, hey!

Garden update July 29

IMG_9060This week’s theme? Fall planting. We have pulled out cornstalks from this area and recovered the ground with wood chips. It was absolutely brutal, pulling out all those stalks and hauling them to the pigs. The pigs have been feasting, by the way, let me tell you. Cornstalks, over-ripe cucumbers, juicy tomatoes. Makes for some good bacon, come fall.

Pretty zinnias!

Pretty zinnias!

But back to the garden. So now this area has been planted in two rows of Jade bush beans and pumpkins. The pumpkins should be ready just in time for Fall decorations, late October. Last year I planted them waaay too early and they were ready in July. It was hard to store them in the proper cool conditions in the middle of summer. I’ve heard good things about Jade beans, but have never tried them until now. It is my third planting of beans, so perhaps by the time these blossom, I won’t even have the energy to pick or can them, ha! IMG_9069Lots of lovely colored peppers. Purple, orange, red and white. IMG_9065I’ve planted some fall zuchini and squash in some newly emptied areas of the garden. And another planting of cucumbers has been started. IMG_9074New lettuce in the shade. Sprouted in 3 days. Hope it continues to grow fast because lettuce tastes the sweetest the faster it grows.IMG_9073 This is the last planting of our corn. Jeremie has fenced it off in the hopes of deterring hungry raccoons. They like to steal all the cobs off my stalks right before it is ready to pick. Then they leave the stripped cobs all over the ground for me to find. I’ve tried traps and flashing red lights set up low to the ground, all to no avail. This new corn doesn’t have any cobs yet, but I’m hoping the fencing will get the job done.IMG_9067The tomato plants are still looking good. I need to start cutting them off at the tops because they are getting taller than my t-post supports. IMG_9064This is a huge paste tomato that we harvested this week. Usually paste tomatoes don’t grow that large. We’ve been harvesting about 20 pounds of tomatoes twice a week. I can most of them and sell the rest. Just as an FYI… all year long I have checked the farmer’s almanac for good planting days. Every time I plant seeds accordingly it rains the next day. I keep soaker hoses laid down in the garden but have only used them once all year. The wood chips keep the ground moist and everything this year has germinated really well. Just a thought to keep in mind. Happy gardening!

Eggs for sale

IMG_8956Every year we think about setting up an egg selling stand at the end of our driveway. At the height of egg season it would be nice to sell the surplus, rather than feed them to the pigs. We do sell some to friends and such, but Jeremie has been building a little hut for me to sell more of them on the honor system.

Jeremie really enjoys having Susie's company while he works. He even lets her sit in the shade!

Jeremie really enjoys having Susie’s company while he works. He even lets her sit in the shade!

It fits a little fridge that was just laying around and it will have shelves above for any extra produce I want to sell. Out here in the country eggs are a dime a dozen, but every little bit helps. I cringe when I remember how much I used to pay for eggs when we lived up north. A friend has also started selling our eggs at the farmer’s market so hopefully it will grow into a nice little business for my egg-girl, Susie.

So local friends, come on out and support the kids! Susie has free-range eggs for $2.50 a dozen and Charlotte has fresh cut flowers for $.25 a piece.

So local friends, come on out and support the kids! Susie has free-range eggs for $2.50 a dozen and Charlotte has fresh cut flowers for $.25 a piece.

FAO Schultz

We have been revamping our toy storage system. It seems we are always in a transition mode with littles getting bigger, middles getting bigger, bigs getting bigger. Sometimes we need baby toys out. Sometimes we need little girl toys out. Sometimes we need big boy toys out. It is a constant carousel. Some of my kids, like Tommy, never played with “toys” so we didn’t have a lot of boy toys in the rotation until recently. Tommy’s toys were wires, batteries and light bulbs.IMG_8833 But now that Roo is getting to be a little older we have packed up her baby toys and made the dollhouse, baby dolls and play food readily accessible. And boy is she loving it. And we are too! I had forgotten how much fun it is to set up a picnic, take the baby dolls for walks in the little stroller and all this little girl stuff. Yes, my house has more toys than FAO Schwarz. But I’m ok with that for now.