Saturday, January 2, 2016

Reflections of 2015

Where did it go?  How quickly this year passed away.  As I prepare to put the new calendar on the wall and check the almanac to begin my planning I see the year is 2016.  Now let me think what happened in 2015?

The year came in with a bang,  as I was at the doctor's office January 2, and continued to fight to regain my strength for several months.  Having to make a decision to cut back on a lot of things as my strength never returned to what it was before I became ill was not pleasing to me but I had no choice.   By the end of the year I was able to stand on my feet for most of the day, bend over and pull weeds for a couple of hours at a time but the heat during the summer took it's toll on me.

Spring time on the farm is about new life, and there were not any new little creatures on Triple Creek Farm until July and 2 chicks were hatched from our eggs.  No baby goats or ducks.  It was a sort of sad spring.  The only productive thing was the garden.  All of the seeding did well, for the first year there was not a damping off problem.  I used some logic starting seeds and did not have plants which I would not be able to use setting around  everywhere.  I found without having to maintain a number of plants I would not be using and putting my attention on what I needed kept from overwhelming me.  I started more plant varieties for my garden, this year I had squash plants to transplant, something in the past I had never done or believed in but I learned my lesson.  There was a bumper crop of squash and yes, the squash bug had a wonderful time in the garden but the plants were strong and could handle the damage from the bugs.  So, my trade off was working in the garden and learning about the crops I want to plant, we ate well but I missed my babies.

We ended up the winter with only a small amount of firewood left over.  Toward the end of the winter we were careful and only built fires when they were needed.  Mr. Bootsie spent quite a bit of time cleaning out an area we have always been in question about if there was some really bad weather.  I had always been afraid of these trees hitting the house.  There aee a few more to take out but progress was made.  The wood racks were filled in time for the wood to season and ready in the fall.  Mild fall weather has kept the wood racks looking good as most continue to be filled.

There were blackberries, I was picking blackberries everyday.  There is blackberry wine aging and a few more batches to be make.  I freeze the berries during the summer and continue to make wine during the winter.  I tried peach wine this year, Mr. Bootsie informed me it was not good until one day in December when it had aged and mellowed, I was told I should make more peach wine next summer as it has changed quite a bit.  Funny how the aging process works.

There was canning, freezing and dehydrating going on during the summer.  One of my favorite new friends is skinned, sliced tomatoes dried, I did 1/2 gallon jars of these, I add these to my fresh salads.  No more of those rocks from the grocery store during the winter.  Learned this year to make refrigerator pickles to use in salads, so during winter we make these to add to the salads and do not have to be concerned about cucumbers going bad in the fridge.  I try to always buy English cukes  but I sometimes have to get the waxed ones.  I just peel them and pickle, they are working great for my salads.

I lost my sourdough starter and almost lost my kefir grains when I was not feeling good.  I am so pleased I lost my starter because the new one is so much better.  I worked hard to save my kefir grains.  I cleaned them and added to fresh milk until they started growing once again.  As many as you share when you need gains it seems everyone else has some sort of problem.  I always try to keep a backup in the fridge but my backup had molded.  I was too busy trying to get well so a number  of things went without the attention they needed.

As the summer progressed so did my strength,  Mr. Bootsie was always there to put the canning pot on the stove and handle all of the heavy things.  He filled and opened the pressure canner as I just cannot do this anymore.  He has found he really enjoys working with the canner, taking on the duty of watching the pressure gauge and timing, this does free me to go on to another task or get a little rest.  I think he has become a team player and for man who had worked by himself all of his professional career this was a real challenge.

The things we have been most pleased with this year were NO SNAKES IN THE CHICKEN COOP, well that we saw.  This was a first for us.  There is a bottle of moth balls with a shaker top and the lid is left open in the coop. one of  us tries to shake this on a regular basis, we spread ashes around the chicken run and coop. RACCOON'S  do not like to get ashes on their feet.  Saved my later crops of corn by applying ashes around the plants.  Both of our pest problems seems to be helped by the use of ashes.  We are quite lucky to have a wood stove and ashes to aid with a natural fix for our problems.  I have no idea if these fixes will work next year but they did this year and I feel as I learned something helpful.

Fall came and so did more of my strength.  Tomato hills are ready for next spring, dug with a bucket of manure in each hole to breakdown over the winter.  One corn row is dug down 12 inches filled with manure, edged with ashes. We have stopped because the rains have come and continue, our garden is now to wet to do any additional preparing.   Tunnel is filled with veggies, still learning about tunnel gardening and with the warmth this fall we are harvesting chard, spinach, salad greens and herbs.  There are row covers throughout the garden keeping plants warm.

The one thing 2015 ended with is excitement for our next year.  We are looking forward to a new season in the garden, applying  techniques learned in the past and looking new directions for the future.  We have a filled freezer, canning and dehydrated jars filled and lots of stored winter fruits.  We learned and applied what we learned to help make our little farm productive.  A year of my not having my strength may have one of the best seasons of my gardening life as I had time to study and learn new procedures about what we are trying to do. All I can say is we have been eating some delicious meals,  I know where it was grown and I know what was not applied to the plants.  I use nothing in my garden but the hand picking method of bad bugs from my plants.

Time to close this chapter on our little farm, Time to thank you for sharing our farm and most of all for caring.  Why in no time at all we shall be starting seeds and looking for eggs to hatch.  Spring will be on it's way, that is spring 2016.

Wishing each and everyone  a wonderful New Year!!!