Sunday, August 26, 2012

Triple Creek Farm, August 25, 2012

The temperatures are cooling and I am coming alive.  I do much better in the cooler weather.  I love the fall and winter, fire in the wood stove or the outdoor fireplace.  Sitting in front of the fireplace on a cool evening sipping a cup of hot cider, I am looking forward to many an evening this fall enjoying the simple pleasures of live.  I really do not care for the fast lane anymore.  Yes, I did a lot of these things when I was young and thought it was great fun.  If only I had been smart enough to start our little farm years ago.  Hindsight, what if,  I am just thankful Mr. Bootsie and I are here today, enjoying the quiet life, solving the daily problems and remembering just how special these days are.  Thank you each and everyone of you for sharing our small farm with us. Please feel free to comment.  You may comment here or on Facebook.  I look forward to hearing from you!


With the heat and things drying up in the garden, I was surprised to find beans on the plants.  We are not picking enough of one  type of bean so I have started making a bean medley.  I have blue lake, purple trionfo violetto, yard long and Jackson wonder.  I had let some of the purple get large so I shelled them.  After cooking the purple beans will be green beans, love for the wee folk to be here and see the magic.  The climbing spinach is being harvested and I am freezing it in packages equal to a 10 oz. package of frozen spinach.  I have so many recipes which use this size package.  I will be ready to go this winter making the pizzas, spinach balls, and a number of Greek dishes.


Tuesday, about 3 in the afternoon the highway way department was working the road.  They were cutting  trees and grass, the equipment they were using was quite loud.  I looked up and the sky was black.  Made my rounds to get things secured and before I made it back to the house the sky was falling.  I came into the house and the rain was coming off of the roof in sheets.  Water was standing after the storm.  I went and worked all of the ditches, for they were stopped up with leaves and twigs.  Mr. Bootsie arrived and asked, "Did you have a storm?"  He had traveled about 25 miles and had not seen anything.  The rain was not good for the gardens as it just rolled off of everything.  I went out to the garden and everything had to stop, there was another section of the hickory tree blocking the garden gate.  This tree will be falling for a long time.  We have more firewood.


I am so pleased the girls have returned to the nesting boxes to lay their eggs.  If they were laying them in each and every corner they can find I may be missing some of them.  Monday morning, I collected all the eggs, later Monday evening, I found more eggs and this cute little oddity.    At this time no one is molting or being broody.  The egg count this week was 42.

Saturday, the little cochins were 4 months old.  I am hearing a rooster crow, he is still working on getting it right and the little girls are developing into lovely hens. No eggs from them.


The garden has slowed down.  The heat really did take care of quite a lot of it.  The corn is drying and I will be harvesting it.  There is a new critter in the garden, it has been eating the green beans.  I had them covered and the other morning the cover had been taken off about 1/2 of the bean plants. They had been pruned and I think I will loose all of the pruned plants.  The mole has been visiting the sweet potato plants, and some critter is eating the vegetation.  I planted kale on Friday.  There are Brussels sprouts and broccoli plants,  I started from seed.  I will be putting these in real soon.


Mr. Bootsie came in Monday with one of the largest watermelons I have seen since my Dad passed away.  I love watermelon right out of the field, for I think that is when it is the best to eat.  I know after it is cut it has to be chilled.  What a delight for me to have something so wonderful!  I cut the melon and took a round slice from the center, covered both ends which are over 15 inches tall each and put the melon in the fridge.  As I was headed to the coop eating the warm delicious melon, I looked at Mr. Bootsie and said this melon was just pulled,  he agreed with me.  Memories, Oh, to be able to enjoy just one more melon huge, sweet and without any second growth watermelon had me smiling.  Threw the rind to the girls just as we would have done at Happy Hallow and they, also, enjoyed the melon.  To the generous farmer, Thank You for sharing your harvest.  Simple Pleasures mean so much to me.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Triple Creek Farm, August 18,2012

I went to check on things at the coop, let the girls and little peeps out.  When I arrived there was a war going on.  The roosters (2 of them) were on top of the feed containers and Feather was between them and the little cochins.  I have six cochins which are about 1 year old and she had all of them behind her.  I went and opened the door into the run for the roosters to go out and they did not know what to do.  If they moved, she moved and they were not going to bother her chickens.  I went inside and moved the roosters on their way, Feather was not a happy girl.  Moved the roosters over to the duck run, came in and told her all was well, after a few minutes she did believe me and she moved aside so the cochins could go into the run.  As much as I regret it, something has to be done.  These roosters are really big birds.  At this time they are 3 times as big as the cochins and I do not want to put in another run.  This problem will solve itself in time but each day I am putting the roosters into the duck run and keeping my little cochins safe.

Feather keeps things straight in the coop as she is the head hen.  She had things under control and was keeping the cochins safe until I arrived.  Such a good girl!


I have not made rye bread in quite a while.  I decided to make a loaf on Thursday and remembered just how easy this bread is to make.  There is only 1 rise and then you shape, put in the load pan, where it rises again and is baked.

Saturday, we made sourdough waffles with blackberry syrup.  More blackberry jelly was put into jars.


I have started taking cuttings from some of the border plants.  I will be wintering them in the greenhouse.  I saw a prediction that we may have snow this winter.  I will be heavy mulching to protect my plants.

Compost piles have been worked this week.  Started adding compost to the beds where we are putting in fall and winter crops.  I will be planting rye in the beds we are not using, I did this method of green manuring last year and the beds I worked produced a better crop this year.

The fence row is just about finished.  Mr. Bootsie is putting in the corner supports and he is almost there.


The flock has been keeping me on my toes this week.  More time than normal has been spent at the coop.  We are going thru an adjustment time.  Saturday, I was pleased to see an egg from Feather, she has finished molting.  Some of the cochins are molting because the egg count is way down and feathers are in the coop are everywhere.  Chickens running about with their skin showing,  I feel  sorry for them when they look so shabby.

This week 34 eggs were collected.  The little peeps have not started laying, I am looking so forward to seeing their eggs.  I check everyday in the duck run and still no duck eggs.  Not knowing how old they were when we got them it is just a guessing game.  One day there will be an egg or should I say someday.


Blackberries have finished.  There will be a couple to pick and eat in the garden for a few days and I will start pruning the vines.  All the stock which had berries on them this year will need to be removed. The fall raspberries are becoming more productive almost daily.

Tomatoes are slowing down, late green beans are blooming.  My climbing spinach is out doing itself.  The corn is starting to dry and I will be harvesting it later.  The walking onions (which I planted last week) are up and now I will put in another row of them.  I have dug all the potatoes and pulled all the onions.  Found a few beets which I will pull and cook next week.  Watermelons are looking real good.  Pepper plants are loaded,  that is one crop which has been good here for several years.  All types of peppers really do produce here.  Planted a bed of turnips just before the misting we had on Friday night.


Fall has been in the air this week.  Several mornings have been just a little cool.  School started in two neighboring counties.  Poplar trees are starting to loose their leaves.  I am seeing a few on the ground now.  The Virginia creeper is turning red.   We can plant lettuces, radishes and lots of cole crops for fall and early winter harvest.  I have a new cold frame which I will be putting together.  My thoughts are turning from how to protect the garden from the heat to how to protect from the cold.  I have been reading how other gardeners north of us have crops all winter, I plan to put some of their ideas to work this year.

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Triple Creek Farm, August 11, 2012

Finally, some much needed rain arrived early Friday morning.  Everyday there were promises of rain but it went to other places.  I really did not water any this week, maybe the other places needed the rain more than we did.  I have started pulling the spring and summer plants and turning the soil with my shovel.  Fall gardening time.  I read an article some years back about pulling everything and leaving it in the garden to break down there.  I remember my parents hoed all the time and left everything in the garden, they had some of the richest soil I have ever seen.  This year, in the larger beds I will make a place to put weeds and plants.  It will save quite a lot of time not moving them to the compost piles.  I  am returning the kitchen compost to the garden.  I already have seen the results as I planted late watermelons on the area where the kitchen compost was spread during the spring and they have the strength to win over the squash bug.


Dehydrator has been running this week.  Cucuzzi Italian Climbing squash and assorted eggplants have been dried.  I oven can all of my dried veggies, this gives them a good life span.  After oven canning they are stored in a dark place.  I have decided to can the blackberry juice, we do not use many frozen berries, I make jelly and syrup.  This will save quite a lot of freezer space.  I have been making fresh tomato basil soup and fresh vegetable soup.  Summer soup is so good.


All of the fence posts are in.  Now the support posts need to be cut to size and put in.  Why didn't someone explain to us what a project we were taking on.  Mr. Bootisie works full time and with our ages it just takes us forever to get anything completed.  I do know when he is finished we will have a wonderful, strong fence and that is my reward.


I went down about 1 in the afternoon on Sunday to check on the flock and what do I see?  Why, Blanche has come out of molt and laid an egg.  Her tail feathers are not all in but she is laying.  Sunday, they returned to lay their eggs in the nesting boxes again.  I think they just want me to have a constant egg hung.  My guess. it is to keep me young.  Only if they knew that is hopeless.

We have 2 roosters,  they are marans, these are my little peeps.  These chickens are almost 4 months old.   We were lucky to have 2 pullets, many think if you get a 50/50 mix things worked out right.

The egg count is really off.  Girls do not care for the addition of the roosters in their coop.  Any change will make a difference in how they lay.  Decisions will be made about how this will be handled.  At the present I have no idea as to what I am going to do.  If you are looking for a maran rooster in the this area contact me for I may have one for you.  Feather is continuing to molt so no eggs from her.  The egg count this week is 25.  The cochins are starting to molt and that really explains the drop in the number of eggs.  Those little girls really lay, I hope some of them will start laying again before spring.


We are harvesting.  I am feeling like I know what I am doing.  I do grow a lot of things different from what I have seen in gardens and at farmer's markets in the area.  Every year I try something new and this year it was yard long beans.  They grow like the black eyed peas and the bloom is purple. I really do like using them in the kitchen as I do not care for a string bean which has gotten large.  This is a must add to the garden plan for the future.

I grow the cucuzzini squash and malabar spinach.  Both of these are climbing vegetables.  I do understand you need room for these to grow, but not as much room as one would think.  I use some of the cheap arbors reinforced with rebar and they work well for me.   The malabar spinach is very productive and I use the small leaves at the tips in salads and cook the larger leaves.  This spinach freezes well.  I use the cucuzzini to make zucchini bread, the taste is a little different.  It seems to be a little nuttier tasting.  I dehydrate the spinach and add it to lots of soups in the winter.  The cucuzzini I dry for chips and to make bread.


The heat this summer has taken a toll on me.  I really did enjoy the temperature on Saturday.  I did a little work outside, started pulling the walking onions and sorting the walkers by size.  If any of you would like sets for walking onions contact me by e-mail.  The poplar trees are starting to yellow and drop a few leaves.  Fall must be coming.  In just a few weeks we will be having a small fire in the evenings.  The summer garden will be put to bed and the fall and winter garden will be protected with covers.  Time to think about planting the cole crops.  I do love the cooler temperatures and I am looking forward to crisp evenings with a little fire.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Swimming Hole

When I came out to start my chores for the day, Daddy was coming home.  " Where did you go?  I thought today was Saturday." Daddy had to go and take care of something.  When that was said no more questions were asked.  I started doing my chores and my sister was inside doing hers.  Daddy went to the garden to hoe, hoe, hoe, he was always hoeing the garden.  Said getting the air to the roots made the plants grow better.  When we came in for lunch Momma wanted to know if I had finished my chores.  I had and I asked if I could go to the moss hill and play.  Momma explained to me some of the children that played there had other plans today and I would by myself.  She did not want me to go.

Daddy finished the hoeing and put the tools away.  He came and asked Momma something.  Momma said,  "Everything is ready.  We can leave anytime."  Now I was really confused.  No one had said anything about going somewhere. A little later,  Momma called for me to come inside.  She had a bathing suit for me laying on the table and I saw my sister coming out of the bedroom with her bathing suit on.  Where were we going?  It was too late in the day to go to the lake.  Daddy was changing his clothes and Momma had on a pretty sundress.

Daddy went in a direction I knew well. My cousins lived on the other side of the creek, when we reached the creek there lots of cars there.  We were going to the creek where all older boys went to swim.  I could not wait there was a huge sand bar which held the water back and there were my moss hill friends playing on the sand bar.  The ladies were sitting around sipping lemon-aide, a burlap bag of  store bought drinks were in the creek cooling and several of the daddies were gathering sticks to make a fire.

I had settled in with my friends, playing in the water and on the sand bar.  One of the teenagers let out a yell, everyone turned around to look.  Momma threw her hands over her mouth and started laughing, she pointed and I turned around to see my daddy swinging from a rope over the creek.  He said, " Okay, boys, you swing across the creek and on the way back drop into the water."  The fun started and everyone was watching, laughing and playing.  Daddy would swim over to the sand bar and splash water on me.  He climbed up on the bar and grabbed me.  Off he went with me, and Momma shouting, "Don't you dare go on the rope swing with her."  Daddy just kept going.  Grabbed the rope with one hand and over the creek we went, not across the creek, he turned the rope loose and into the water we went. Water was splashing everywhere and Momma was running to the side of the creek.  "Are you alright?'  I looked at her and said, "I want to do that again."  Daddy was smart enough to know once was going to be all, Momma did not let me get out of an arm's reach the rest of the day.

It was getting late in the afternoon and I was wondering if we were going to leave.  We had animals at home which needed to be taken care of but Daddy seemed very content and Momma was enjoying having an afternoon off and not in the hot kitchen cooking supper.  The ladies started getting out picnic baskets which were loaded with wonderful food.  There were homemade pickles and relishes, potato salads, deviled eggs, baked beans and lots of desserts.  The fire was getting hot and Daddy brings me a long stick to cook hot dogs on.  Momma said for him to stand right beside me, not let me get burned and it would be okay for me to help cook the hot dogs. Momma had spread the blanket out for us to sit on,  and I was making the rounds checking out all the wonderful food and filling my plate like I may never eat again.  Someone had brought a tin of potato chips, how wonderful.  We did not get potato chips very often and this was a real treat. A store brought drink that I did not have to share and I found a Tiny grape in the burlap bag, which was mine, and a Pepsi-Cola for my sister.  After cleaning my plate and having some of my favorite cookies made my one of the moss hill friend's mother, I was told I could not go back into the creek for one hour.  What?  Where's Daddy? He had brought the ball and bat, maybe we could play ball.  I could not find Daddy.

Daddy must be lost in the woods.  Momma said, "Your daddy knows his way around here and he will be back in a little while."    How long has it been?  I am ready to get in the water.  Momma said for me to be quiet and wait for a little while.  I heard someone say, "Here he comes, watch he is going to get the rope and swing over the creek." Who? What is going on.  Oh, no, Daddy is going to be in big trouble.  He is getting in the water and the hour is not over.  Daddy splashes down in the water and throws the rope back to another person who swings out over the creek and drops in the water.  This happens several more times.  By now, Daddy has come to where everyone is setting and has one of the biggest watermelons in his arm I have ever seen.  Some of the others have huge cantaloupes and more watermelons.  Momma hands Daddy the knife and he starts slicing the melons and handing slices of melon in all directions.  These melons are delicious and ice cold.

By this time I had forgotten about getting back in the water until Momma said, "You need to get in the creek and wash off the melon juice, we need to start cleaning and packing up to go home."  Our wonderful afternoon at the swimming hole was coming to a quick end.  While we were driving home, Momma asked Daddy, "Who came out early this morning and helped you put that dangerous rope up in the tree."  Daddy grinned and said "I did that when I brought the melons over to cool in the creek all day."  So, that is where Daddy had been this morning.

                 You looked as if you really did enjoy swinging on the rope.
                                   That was something I used to do all the time with my folk.            
                                                  I am sure Bootsie enjoyed you taking her on the swing
                                                           and then I heard someone snore.
                                                                    I will never forget what fun we had at the
                                                                                swimming hole.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Triple Creel Farm, August 4, 2012

Another Aftershock!!  I have really been enjoying the quiet, not thinking about another earthquake or aftershock.  Well, it has happen again, Tuesday, about 12:45 a.m. I woke up and looked at the clock.  Thought I heard some grumbling and questioned myself was it thunder or the earth moving.  I went back to sleep.  Only to wake in the morning and hear there was another aftershock at 12:43 a.m. and the magnitude was 2.4,  I am beginning to think there will never be an end to the earth's plates moving here in our area.


I dehydrated cantaloupe, the flavor is intense and it is a wonderful snack.  Made a batch of kosher dill pickles and I am sure this will be the last batch of pickles.  Canned tomatoes and made more tomato soup base.  I do not think I will be canning any more tomatoes this season.  I will start dehydrating the tomatoes,

Just in case you are wondering, I have my shelves in the pantry protected to try and keep the jars from falling off.  I call this my earthquake protection.

We are enjoying eggplant sandwiches.  This one of my favorite summer meals.  I bread the egg plant slices and fry,  place some prosciutto on the eggplant, slice of tomato and top with cheese.  Place under the broiler until the cheese melts.  This is a quick and easy summer meal.  I usually have a salad with them.

Pizza is becoming a staple in this house,  Greek with fresh tomatoes, green pepper, onion all sliced very thin.  Two cheeses and ripe olives.  Fresh spinach pizza with garlic and two cheeses.  We have had pizza 3 nights for dinner this week.


Progress is being made on the pasture fence, the large cedar corner posts are going in and the second post with a support between them.  We have been able to locate cedar trees close to the pasture which makes it very easy to cut and move them.  For some reason the cedars are not as heavy as other trees and the wood will last for a number of years. We were able to save some money by using the posts growing here.  All the rolls of wire are lined up under the pole barn.  We are just about there for the folks to come and help run the fence.

Rain on Friday evening and another large limb fell on a hickory tree. This one will not be firewood but it is more than I can pick up.


Sunday morning, Mr. Bootsie decided to come with me to feed the flock their brunch.  I walked into the coop only to feel hands on my waist and someone saying,  "Snake under the nesting boxes."  After the last visit from the black snake I put bird netting under the boxes and the snake was caught in the bird netting.  The girls were not really concerned about the snake.  After some time the bird netting was replaced under the boxes, girls had their brunch and things were back to normal on the farm.  The girls have refused to lay in the nesting boxes this week.  It has been an egg hunt every day, resulting in some broken eggs.

The duck run was covered, this week, Mr. Bootsie put a door in the fence connecting the two runs.  This allows the chickens to have access to the duck run and a lot of space.  With the flock increasing in size they will be needing more space to hunt and peck.

All of the girls are on the roosting pole at night time.  No more broody hens at this time.  The laying has been off this week.  I have collected only 28 eggs.  For the month of July 160 eggs were gathered.  Stopped by the  Edam farm to check out the marans and see if I could make a decision about hens and roosters,  I just am not sure they are now over 3 months old and 1 may have a rooster.  It is quite a large bird.


Monday morning, I was watering the garden and what has happened to my sweet potato plants.  They were beautiful last night,  Something has eaten the leaves off several of the plants.  Traps were set Monday night.

Squash bugs are everywhere.  Watermelons, cantaloupes, cucumbers, pumpkins and squash, I as loosing plants because they have the ability to suck the life out of the plants.  They get on a leaf and it is wilted.  The only method of control is picking and I have loss this round.

I made a garlic and red pepper spray for the beetles and I can see the first application has done some good.  I did spray some of the watermelons and I think squash bugs are eating it and having more babies.

Picked green pepper and black eyed peas for the first time this week.  Blackberries are still coming in.  The late green beans are looking real good.


I sometimes feel as if I have lost the war this year, beetles, squash bugs and everything else has won.  Then I look around and see onions and garlic drying, the jars of jelly, pickles and vegetables, I must confess there is a balance.  I may not be pleased with the way things are going but I am staying busy putting up food for later.  I have been canning, dehydrating and freezing the harvest.  I know, I want a perfect world where I get plenty of everything I plant.  With the hours I have put in working the garden and now preserving the garden I am kinda glad some of the crop did not work out.  I would have loss it because I just cannot do everything.  And that leaves room for me to try to do things different next year.

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Triple Creek Farm, July 28, 2012

With watering, lots of mulch, and good planning we made it through the first hot spell.  The second one has taken its toll on the garden.  We have cucumber plants without any leaves but there are baby cukes.  How nice it would have been if some of these would have grown up and we could have used them for salads.  I use what I call a water pick for my tomatoes, they are holding most of the leaves and some of the tomatoes are being burned by the sun.  More planning will go into next year's garden.  I am going to have to be able to put up some sun screen to keep the heat out of the garden.  There is no cure for the many insects we are having, strange things I have never seen before.  I do not want to add additional problems by using sprays of all sorts to protect the crop.  I do eat what I plant, if I cannot protect them  with garlic pepper spray I will just have to loose another crop.


This week very little has happened in the kitchen.  Five quarts of tomatoes were canned and 2 quarts of my tomato juice, very thick, which I will use for tomato basil or cream of tomato soup.  I will make the soups in the winter.  One more batch of blackberry jelly is on the shelf.  I am adding to the stash in the freezer

Cooking the vegetables from the garden is always fun, finding new recipes and making changes with old ones.  I did make a sausage and bean soup and added in the some of the dried veggies from last season. This is a very filling soup and hearty, you sometimes need something like this in the warm weather.


The duck run has been covered with wire and now we will be able to leave the chickens in the run during the day.  This increased the amount of space the flock will have to roam.  Our next project is setting the corner posts for the pasture fence.  We have some cedar trees felled and waiting to be set.  This project may take some time if we have to go into the woods and locate more trees.

We have been keeping the traps set and a raccoon was caught.  Again, this was carried to a farm on the river which was pleased to have it come.


The flock is getting along quite well.  Still have no idea if we have roosters.  All I can say is 2 of the little peeps are huge.  The ducks are such an important part of our flock.  They seem to bring a kind of happiness into the run I have not seen before.  It is so sweet when Deedle puts her neck and head over one of the hens looking as if she is trying to hug it.  I would love to get a picture to share with you but I would need to sit up camp to capture that shot.

I think we have only Aurora broody at this time.  Blanche and Feather are continuing to molt.  We were able to gather 29 eggs this week.  We were away from the farm most of Saturday and maybe a black snake got into the coop and ate some eggs, I really have no idea.  More of the girls could be starting to molt.  Mr. Bootsie just came in from closing the coop and he had a egg shell in his hand.  He had found this in the coop, I hope we do not have someone eating eggs.  Only 1 egg was collected on Saturday and 1 shell found.  I will be keeping a very close watch.


I am pleased that I am able to pick anything.  I started planting for the fall garden.  I have seedlings up in the greenhouse and I will be potting them in a few days.  The squash bugs have won the round this year.  I am going to pull all of them out except for a couple which look pretty good.  The bugs will move to those and that will be the end of them.  I have planted 2 hills of late squash.  We shall see.  Bloody butcher corn is looking real good and I will have some corn for the flock.  Black eyed peas are loaded with blooms and small peas.


Every year, it is gamble when you put the seed and plants in the ground.  At least when I gamble I get a little something back.  I have no idea if this will be a good year,  for us, or a bad year.  The only thing I do know is we will not have to get rid of the flock because we cannot feed them.  They do produce enough for us and themselves.  I have no idea what the price of feed will be this winter but I plan to stock up some feed for the winter.  We do not use that much feed for the chickens and this will be the first winter for the ducks but they love eggs and I am hoping I will have ducks eggs by the winter.  With good planning, I will be able to move forward with my little farm.  Thank goodness,  for I am just beginning to really have fun being on the farm.

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