Monday, August 30, 2010

Much accomplished

(no news yet on the events of last week, by the by)

Much was done this past week and weekend.

I realized that the apples in the tree were falling and quickly going to waste. It's a bit of a balancing act, since the trees are shared with us and the craftsman house up front and the bungalow. Sharing sometimes means crackly interactions. So, I was careful not to immediately gobble up the apples. Once I realized they were all going to fall and rot though, I began picking.

And after picking, I began cutting and chopping. NONE OF THE APPLES HAD WORMS, so this was infinitely easier than having to wade through worms. I used only a paring knife to peel and cut, since swapping back and forth between knife and peeler takes time... and I became very fast with the paring knife.

And then it was time to add a little sugar (not much), cinnamon, and vanilla. Let sit on stove... then stick blend it a little. Results? Chunky applesauce with significant sauce in between the chunks.

I canned a few less cooked and non-blended apples. I'm calling these my "apple pie apples", since I'll be able to drain and plop them instantly into a pie.

All told?
9 pints apple pie apples canned.
42 pints apple sauce canned.

The pear tree is the same way as the apple tree. I don't want it to go to waste, but I don't want to hog it either. So, I've been taking only the windfallen fruit. It's perfect, since there is nice, cushy grass surrounding the tree, so windfallen fruit do not suffer cuts and bruises. I had to collect significantly the first day, and ever since, there have been about 7 pears a day. The ones on the tree are not ripe, but the few that are fall. This keeps me from picking the unripe ones.

I don't know precisely what uses I'll have for pears. So, I'm canning them up in the most flexible way possible: in light sugar water. This way, I'll be able to use them for whatever purpose I need.

So far, 14 pints of packed pears in sugar water. And the water is very light sugar. You have to add sugar because it helps preserve the taste, color, and texture of the pears.

Red Onions
My red onions needed to be picked. I base whether to pick onions on how their tops are doing. If they still have green stalks, I leave them in. If not, I pick them before they start to rot.

All told, I got around 50 onions, which took up two cardboard boxes when placed single layer. I sorted them out, keeping the questionable ones (about 15) from the others, and put them, single layer, in boxes in the side pantry. They are no where near the potatoes; when put together, onions and potatoes can cause each other to go bad quickly.

They are red onions (with a few white), so their shelf life is not as long as yellow onions. I'm storing them in the best possible way to keep them for a long while. But, I may have to give away and/or mow through onions. Alternatively, I may dry some, which could be a fun project.

My potatoes needed to be picked, since it was forecast to rain today and tomorrow. So far, it's true. Woke up this morning to pretty heavy rainfall. Since the potato plants were mostly dead, I knew moisture would potentially cause the potatoes to rot. So, they needed to be dug up!

It was pretty careful work. I used a small hand rake to go slowly, trying not to hurt the potatoes as I went. I did not expect there to be many yukon golds, as I've been nibbling away at them for a while now. All told though, I was very surprised! If I had to estimate, I'd say about 20 pounds of Rose Finn fingerling potatoes and 12 pounds of Yukons (if I estimate and include the ones I've eaten).

I researched the best way to store potatoes. A dry environment 45-55 degrees is best. So, I divided up the potatoes into double-sacked paper lunch bags, putting about 1.5 lbs in each. I put these on a light surface in the side shed, which stays pretty cool even if it's hot outside (no direct sunlight).

I figure that the light surface and the baggies will show me the signs of any rotting or problems quickly, and by only having 1.5 lbs per bag, if one bag goes bad, then not all the potatoes are lost.

Pole Beans
A variety of pole bean plants in our yard were producing. Not heavily, but enough to more than feed us. So, I picked a large basket and then blanched and froze them. All told, 4 ziplock baggies. I put enough in each bag to either give two people large portions or three people normal portions.

Our blackberries are not that stellar this year. They taste great, but there are just not that many in quantity. Sigh. I picked enough to barely make 3 jars of jam this weekend. A friend of a friend's has a large patch at her farm, so maybe I'll head over there. Blackberries are EVERYWHERE out here, but sometimes it's difficult to find a patch that you know has not been treated with anything. And I haven't had the time to drive out into the country to find a big patch. I want to make more jam and syrup, but we shall see what happens.

Eggs and Squash Bread
I had great plans to make squash bread (it's using a zucchini bread recipe, but using my nutty middle eastern squash instead) this weekend and freeze it, but each batch calls for 4 eggs. I sold my girls' eggs to my neighbor for her farm stand, and now my girls are being really slow on producing again. I think I'm going to change up their feed to a solid layer feed. Anyway, I was out of eggs so no bread. And, being that I have chicken, I feel pretty stupid BUYING eggs. The squash will keep. Bread will come.

I also realized that half my hens have no roosting pole. Oops! I did not realize that. I need to put up the second roosting pole later this week. I'm wondering if that's the possible reason why some of my hens have not started laying yet. Do hens NEED a roosting pole to lay? Does it somehow jumpstart their systems?

New Chicks
I broke down and bought two chicks on Thursday. They are too cute for words. They're fully feathered and about 7 weeks old. One is a white crested polish and the other is a light brahma. Like the dark brahma, the light brahma is a sweetheart. I'm wondering if this is a trait amongst brahmas? They have catapulted themselves into high ranking for me, since they are both so affectionate. The polish just looks RIDICULOUS. I have no idea how it sees anything with that huge pom pom head gear. Rocker Chick. I think she may be named Janis. Both are in a tub in the laundry room until they graduate to big girl food and can romp with the big girls.

Last but not least, I HAVE TOMATOES. Not a ton, but at least I will not go tomatoless this year. The first ones ripe were my black prince tomatoes. And yes, they were that wonderful color and almost purple inside. Rich and deliciously sweet. OH MY. Oh my oh my. Many more of my tomatoes have a glossy green sheen to them, which is supposedly the sign that they will turn colors soon. I hope! This weather (rain for the next two days) is not encouraging their growth, but we will keep our fingers crossed. Otherwise, I do have a pretty decent store of green tomato recipes to call on.

So yup! It's been pretty busy, but productive and things that needed to get done. And it kept my mind busy and off other matters, both of which are good things!

1 comment:

  1. Wow you certainly have been busy, so jealous of all your fresh produce. All we have left are okra and peppers, not that I am complaining.

    And yea for new chicks, I love my buff polish, but I think he is a boy, yikes. Also I don't have any Brahmas but I heard they do have wonderful personalities. Have no clue about if the roosting pole will initiate laying but I do know they do love to roost. How many layers do you have now? All of my spring chicks are laying now, but they have slacked during this hot weather, I do feed layer feed, but they also free range and sometimes steal the younger pullet feed.