We have had a super-productive summer week on the homestead. We got a lot of odds and ends done, like staking the apple trees to help them survive the hurricane-force gusty winds we get in the winter, butchering an old hen that needed to go, cleaning up some chicken pens and moving some chickens to different pens, raking all the compost back into compact piles in the barnyard, and securing the bush beans that were falling into the garden path and getting damaged.
Livestock Guardian Dog
Our LGD, Anya, has been indoors a couple of weeks as we waited for her fly-eaten ears to heal. They have now healed up, except for one tiny scab left on one.
So we put a new type of repellent on her that we haven’t tried yet (we have tried over 25 different things) and we put a new fly repellent collar on her (we have used those before with some good success, it just didn’t work earlier this summer), and we put her back out in the yard. She was happy to be back out full time, and the chickens were equally happy to get to free-range in the barnyard full time as well.
Peas are being harvested and eaten fresh, as well as frozen for winter.
We have begun harvesting celery, chopping it, and freezing it for winter soups. And we continue to eat fresh salad greens from the garden with almost every dinner meal.
The harvesting and drying of herbs is a continual process. The more we cut, the happier they are, the more they grow. We have been enjoying mint tea almost daily with fresh mint from the garden. We planted a new variety this year, called Mountain Mint, and I absolutely love the flavor. It is my favorite ever. Which is a good thing because I put in quite a few plants in the Apple Garden and I am hopeful they will spread out nicely. We have yet to have mint go crazy and take over any space, but there is a first time for everything and I know that is what it does for people in nicer climates.
About half of the cabbages were ready for harvest. We got 18 lbs of them so far! After making a big batch of cole slaw for the family to enjoy, we chopped up the extra, added other ingredients for sauerkraut and filled up our big 3-gallon fermenting crock. In a month or two we will be enjoying some awesome homemade kraut! We also made some into krautburger filling which we froze in portions for dinners.
The Red Lake Currants are ripe and ready to pick, so we have been making currant syrup to go on our pancakes and waffles.
For some unknown reason our Crandall Clove Currant bush did not put on any flowers or berries at all this year. Strange. The gooseberry bushes are full though and should be ready to harvest soon.
The dill was ready to harvest, which brought on our yearly dill pickle canning day. We canned 46 quarts of dill and 5 pints of sweet pickles for the year.
We also tried a new rhubarb recipe this week that we saw on Little House Big Alaska blog for Rhubarb Bread with Streusel Topping. It was oh-so-delicious and is now officially my favorite sweet bread. If you have rhubarb go get the recipe and make it right now.
We continue to harvest peas, spinach, lettuce, kale, celery, and herbs. The tomatoes, beans, carrots, and onions are all coming along nicely – looking to be a bumper crop this year!
One of the many wonderful things about living in the mountains is that everything cools down in the evening during the summer. So mornings can be almost chilly enough to wear a hoody, even though it will get up to 80s and 90s during the day. So I love going out in the early morning coolness to work in the garden, before the sun even comes over the mountain enough to touch the garden. As the sun rises is the perfect time to harvest peas, because the sun shines through them and you can see if they are full and ready yet or not.
Last Monday was hatch day for our hens Batina and Eve. Batina is a first-time mom, and Eve is a very experienced setter, this being her 8th or 9th hatch. All the eggs were collected and started setting at the same time, but Eve’s spent their first week in the incubator inside before they went under her. I had put them there as extras for Batina to make up for infertility and loss, but then towards the end of the week Eve decided she wanted to set too so we just gave all the extras to her so they would be on the same hatch day schedule.
Batina had started the hatch with 11 eggs, but 6 were lost to infertility and early death. So she was sitting on 5 viable eggs by hatch day. She started hatching early – by Sunday evening she already had a little yellow fluff ball under her, and by Monday night she was done – 4 out of the 5 eggs hatched.
Eve started with 7 eggs, and only 1 was lost to early death (all were fertile). So on hatch day she had 6 viable eggs. But hatch day (day 21) came and went without anything going on with Eve’s eggs. Then day 22…then 23… then 24. We have had eggs go until day 24 in the incubator before, but it was only once, very rare, and they didn’t hatch well at all. So we decided that by the end of day 24, once it was dark outside, we would candle to try to figure out what was going on. Eve had never had an unsuccessful hatch before. However, she was setting in the nest box in the lower coop, and we have never had a hen set there before. But that was the only difference. Afternoon of day 24 was 95 degrees out (that is a scorcher for us here in the mountains), so I went around checking everyone’s water to be sure all was well with the livestock. When I opened up Eve’s nest area I noticed she had changed positions from the flat spread out setting hen position to the puffed up mama hen position (those of you who have hatched chicks know what I mean). Then I was surprised by a little chick peeking out from her wing!
I don’t know why she took those extra days, and it clearly effected her hatch rate, she only hatched 2 of the 6 eggs. But we were all very happy she hatched at all. We will avoid using that nest as a hatching nest in the future in case that was the problem.
I cast on the second pair of Watermelon Socks. These ones are for Little Miss. Sunshine has been wearing hers almost constantly since I finished them and loves them. It is very fun to make something for someone that they love and use a lot. I am knitting them holding my working yarn in my left hand (I usually hold it in my right). I heard that knitting that way (picking or continental style) instead of my way (throwing or English style) is much faster. I would love to knit faster if possible, there are so many projects and so little time. So I agreed to try it on one project and if by the end of the project I felt like it would be faster then I will switch. So the second pair of watermelon socks are what I chose to try it on. So far it is much slower and I learn the new technique, and my gauge is a lot tighter too. But its not terribly hard and I am interested to see if it really makes a speed difference for me.
Another blessed week on the farm!