Already Planning for Next Year

I know, I know... I was not even close to being the last person to say that I was ready for the 2012 gardening season to be over... But last night, Husband and I were outside thinking about next years garden. We decided it was time to get honest about what we need and don't need to grow next year. Here are the basic decisions...

Home Garden:
More - tomatoes, kale, cabbages, peas, beans, beets, carrots
Less - peppers (cut in half and no sweet peppers at all), eggplant (only like, 2 plants... seriously)
Keep the same - cucumbers, garlic, zucchini
None at all - lettuce (it all went to the chickens anyhow) strawberries (my basket idea was a big fail), broccoli, brussels (after the groundhog attacks, the broccoli never really produced, and my brussels never even formed)

Down at the farm:
More - butternut and acorn squashes
Less - pumpkins

Decorative Stuff:
Rip our the blueberries (they died anyways) and replace with a new hydrangea so the front steps will be beautifully framed
Figure out a way to get the hanging baskets to hold on to water better... Maybe lining them with plastic before adding dirt?


It's All in the Details

So I was at Trader Joe's today, and you know what? They have really great prices. Anyways, as I was roaming the aisles, I realized what I loved about everything in the store was the packaging. I was almost tempted to by pumpkin butter and then I remembered, Hey Idiot! You have 150 pounds of pumpkin to deal with! It was just soooo pretty....

Anyone have any good ideas on how to make canning jars pretty without using stick on labels? I hate the residue that is left over from that nonsense. Maybe tags of some sort?? I think I need to go get creative with my computer.... Move over Martha, here I come!


The last of the Garden

Well, I think I am declaring Garden 2012 over and done. This morning I went out, in the sprinkling rain, to let the chickens out, and decided I might as well just have a little picking. I got some hot peppers, 2 eggplant, 2 sweet peppers, and to my surprise, BEANS.

 Now, Husband and I declared the beans a failure several weeks ago because we hadn't gotten any all summer. This morning, I went out and picked probably 1/2 peck of beans. Of course, since we were neglecting the bean pole, they were mostly overgrown and will probably be too tough to enjoy. But I picked 'em anyway just to say that the beans this year weren't a total loss. I thought I had decided NOT to grow beans next year, but maybe I will try again... I will just have to make sure and keep the chickens OUT of them so I don't have to do a second late planting.

I am hoping this weekend to get everything pulled out (except the kales, cabbages, and peppers) because nothing else is producing. I have had tiny little green tomatoes for weeks now, and the tomatoes in the side yard are LONG past due to be destroyed. Damn blight...

On the chicken front, I have almost 2 dozen eggs in the fridge, so I better get on that this weekend also. I am thinking pasta with greens and pumpkin sauce. Mmmm!!!! We are still waiting for our other 2 girls to start laying and I am especially eager for our Americauna to start laying. I want to see what color eggs we get. Although, who knows... Maybe they are laying eggs in the yard and I am just too neglectful to notice... I think I am going to go take a second stroll around the garden....


Lessons in Dog Ownership

We don't actually own a dog, but we are dog sitting for my mom... This is Chelsea and her buddy Oliver, aka Little Dude (or LD as Husband has been saying lately)
As you can see she is not very big, kind of the right size for us. And the house. And the cats. Well, the only cat that likes her is Oliver, as you can tell. Punkin swats her in the face every time she walks by. And Charlotte  you ask? Oh, don't worry. She has taken up residence in the basement which I am now going to call the "schizo-cat safe haven."

So where was I going with this.. Oh yeah... Lessons in owning/borrowing a dog... I haven't owned a dog in nearly 8 years, so this is kind of like a new thing for me.

1)When your dog is used to getting up at 5 am to go outside to take care of business, you will also be getting up at 5 am to take care of business.
2) Dogs will take care of business in the rain and shine, not to mention 35 degree temps at 5 am. 
3) Your dog will inevitably hide her food from the cats, even though she is the one stealing their food...
4) Even though all my floors are covered in a mixture of cat and dog hair (not to mention dog food), the area around my stove is suspiciously clean....
5) If we ever decide to own a dog for real, we must get a bigger bed... Apparently a queen size bed is not enough to hold 2 humans, 2 cats, and 1 dog.
6) Dogs will eat EVERYTHING they are not supposed to... Dirt, grass, dirty tissues, cat hair, cat food, cat poop, and all sorts of other nasty things...
7) Despite it all, dogs will love you as long as you provide walks, water, food, and belly rubs. And we will love them right back (even if they puke on the bedspread in the middle of the night)

Do you have any humorous lessons in dog ownership?


Camping at the Farm

There really is nothing like peeing in the woods. That's all I have to say about that.

This weekend was the big pumpkin and squash harvest down at the farm, so we decided to make a weekend out of it and take the tents and go camping. We had a blast! Not only did we do that, but we went apple picking! We ended up with 1.5 bushels of apples, and I have already made 5 quarts of applesauce, and I have many many pounds of apples to go. I am thinking apple butter, pie filling, and maybe some kind of preserve, but not jelly....

We were super lucky to have our friend Anthony come down with his truck to help us work and haul harvest. He also brought his dog Rocky to keep Chelsea company (she is my mom's dog whom we are dog-sitting. She is wonderful!) Lets just do this in pictures. These pictures are all from my phone, so sorry if they are not the best.

First we have the pumpkin patch. It measures about 50 x 50 ft
After we pulled out all the squash, we pulled vines, and Husband cut the grass.
After the grass was cut, he tilled the ground to try and keep the grass at bay for the spring. We will see how it goes. I didn't get a picture of the tilled ground, but you get it, right?
This picture doesn't do this pile of vines justice... Really, it was huge... And we had 2 piles.

So after all of that, we ended up with a truck bed full of pumpkins. I am feeling pies, cookies, breads, soups, muffins, scones, and biscuits in my future!
Chelsea and Rocky
Me and Chelsea prospecting the apples.


Salsa Question

Does anyone out there have a recipe for salsa that is can-able without having vinegar in it??? I made some salsa last year from Ball's recipe book and Put Em Up, but they both had vinegar and were GROSS.


Harvest Monday

Woah, I don't even remember the last time I participated in this, maybe 3 weeks ago?!? Anyways, here are the totals since the last HM.

Tomatoes - 30 lbs 4 oz
Peppers (sweet and hot) - 11 lbs 2 oz
Eggplants - 3 lbs 9 oz
Cukes - 2 lbs 2 oz (the plant is FINALLY dead. Thank you Gawd!)

We also got a measly 3 oz of green beans, and they were so gross, they are not even worth counting in my totals. I fear I have been drawn away from ever growing beans again. On a good note, 2 of our little ladies are laying eggs now, so yay! I am ohhhh so close to breaking the 200 pound mark! We are going down to the farm this weekend to harvest our pumpkins and squashes. I absolutely cannot freakin wait!!!

Annual Total - 199 lbs 6 oz
Eggs - 5

On a side note... The tomato harvest will significantly decrease as I will be ripping them all out this week. They have severely succumbed to blight. Total bummer because I only got 5 (make that 4 after my canner explosion) quarts of tomatoes put up. I think I need a swan song for that....



We got our first egg! I don't care if you are a chicken veteran, but getting your first egg from a new batch of ladies is a mighty fine feeling! I am fairly confident that the egg came from Blackie, our Barred Rock. She has always been bigger than the other girls, and she has the most developed comb.

Happy Day!

**Thanks for the well wishes everyone. I am still sick, and just cannot seem to shake this cold. It has like, taken over my body and I am full of aches and creeks 24/7. It really doesn't help my arthritis much. And Jody, thanks for the offer! I will send you an email shortly, but only if you are serious!


What a Week

Just a little caveat, I sometimes use this blog to vent my troubles. Today is one of those days.

So, my Momma had planned a family vacation, the first one in many, MANY years. It was supposed to kick off on Friday. Well, let's just say, obviously, we are NOT in the Outerbanks right now.

First, my brother got sick and had to be hospitalized. Long story, and no, I won't be typing the short version. Second, B-I-L Row Family Farmer Extraordinaire's gramma passed away (the new plan was to be that the Fabulous Row Family Farmers were going to come here for a long weekend starting on Wednesday.) THEN Husband and I got sic, so I was obligated to tell my sister because her family is so prone to illness it is stupid. So that is now cancelled.

I don't know what in the hell would have happened down there if we HAD gone on vacation, but the universe must be telling us that there is no rhyme or reason to go on vacation. In the words of my sister, this week has just been shit-tastic (feel free to use that word when you have no way to describe a truly crappy situation.)


Best of the Web

So, I got this email a few weeks ago from a lady at Pocket Change, and she offered to feature me on her company's Best of the Web series! Hopefully I will get a surge of followers, comments, and maybe a book deal! Ha! Who am I kidding?! Anyways, it is awesome never-the-less.



Canning Totals... So far...

Yes, I am still here, sick of the heat. The good news is that tomorrow looks to be our last day of it in the near future. I don't generally trust in weather reports more than 3 days out, but I am hoping this one stays true... We aren't supposed to have a day over 80 in the 10 day forecast! Yay!

In other news, I canned 6 quarts of chopped tomatoes, but lost one (a brand new jar!!!) in the canner. I generally wouldn't be so sad about this, but it is the second jar lost this year... And we didn't end up with nearly as many tomatoes as I had hoped for. Oh well... Better luck next year!

Speaking of tomatoes... I have it set in my brain that I will never make tomato sauce again. Out of 12 quarts of juice, we got 4 quarts of sauce. And that was AFTER I cooked it up with onions and stuff... I would much rather only do chopped or whole tomatoes. It makes me feel like I get more gratification out of it. All that work, and only 4 quarts... Oy vay....

Chopped Tomatoes - 5 quarts
Pickles - 24 quarts (I need to count these... they are going fast...)
Tomato Sauce - 4 quarts
Barbecue Sauce - 5 pints, 1 half-pint
Jalapenos - 9 pints
Strawberry Jam - 9 pints (we are already down to 3... I should have made like, 25 pints)

Freezer Stuff
Cherry Tomatoes - 1 gallon bag
Chopped Tomatoes - 2 - 1 gallon bags
Hot Peppers - 1 gallon bag
Kale and Chard - 8 - 1 gallon bags
Basil - 3 - 1 gallon bags


Magic Soap

Ok, after having a Pinterest attack, I discovered "magic soap." Magic soap is blue Dawn dish soap (it has to be the blue one... I dont know why it is special, but it really is amazing stuff) and white vinegar, in a 1-1 ratio. I keep my magic soap in a mason jar, but I imagine putting it in a spray bottle would be awesome for cleaning your shower and such.

What did I clean first with my magic soap? My stove. I got cooked on spots off of there that have been there for years. What did I do next? Sprinkled some baking soda on the oven door and put on my magic soap and mixed it together to make something that looked like shaving cream... Now let me tell you, I have not cleaned my oven door (the glass) since we bought our stove 5 years ago, so you can imagine the baked on mess.

I let the mixture sit for like, and hour or so, and then I took to it with a scrubby sponge. That wasn't doing the trick... So what does any determined gal do? Take to it with the 5in1. As I sat on the floor scraping the door, Hubby said, I don't think that is one of the intended purposes of a 5in1... Maybe it is a 6in1???

Really, I should have taken a picture of this magic awesomeness, but naturally in my cleaning frenzy, the camera was far from my mind... 

Either way, make yourself some magic soap and clean clean clean!