Happy Summer!

I can’t believe how long I’ve been going between posts. I have no real excuse, other than my life seems to be an endless stream of appointments for the kids coupled with hours of weeding the gardens (followed by removing dozens of ticks every night).

Thankfully, there’s something else that’s been endless recently: wild blackberries. Every year I’m astonished at how much more there are than the previous year. It’s also a time game, though. You have to pick them just at ripeness or risk losing them all to japanese beetles and birds. Since I don’t always have time to do anything with the bucketloads I’ve been picking, I’ve been letting the kids eat them all in one go. With the solstice, though, I decided something special needed to be done with them. So I made ice cream.

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I started by heating up the berries with some sugar and cinnamon on the stove and lightly mashing them to release some of the juice.

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While that was cooling, I used a Ben & Jerry’s recipe for the base. It basically entails whipping eggs with cream and sugar until fluffy. Super easy and quick.

Then the berries were added, and I poured as much as I could fit into the trusty Cuisinart ice cream maker.

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There was just enough left over to make popsicles.

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When the machine had finished churning, I froze the ice cream an additional few hours before serving.

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Success!

 

June Already?

Has everyone else been crazy busy and absolutely astounded that it’s already June, or is that just me?

Every ounce of energy has been spent on schoolwork, carting kids to various appointments, gardening, and work.

I DID manage to finish my Chimney Fire Sweater, though! I haven’t taken any pictures yet because it’s a thousand degrees outside, but soon!  That’s the upside to having my kids going to lots of different meetings: lots of knitting time for me!

The garden has been incredibly frustrating and slow, but it’s coming along. I lost a lot of the pepper and tomatoes I started by moving them out too soon. There’s still plenty there, though, and keeping up with the weeds is of course a daily struggle. The worst part is the ticks. Every day I’m pulling about a dozen off of me. And trust me, I’ve tried everything. 

I’ve used every essential oil and bug spray on the market, including the crazy mostly-DEET kind, to no avail. I even went out in the garden in my damn BEE SUIT and still pulled a couple off my back and neck that night. They freaking love me. The harvest this year better be worth it!

I put up deer netting after learning from last year’s total tomato loss, and I’ve got plenty of diatomaceous earth and Neem oil. Once the plants get big enough to withstand them I’ll probably try and keep the ducks in there, at least part-time, to help with the bugs and weeds.

The honeybees are doing very well. I’ve added another box to the hive, since they have mostly filled the two they have already.

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Go bees!

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They seem to be happy here. We definitely have plenty of wildflowers, and I just confirmed that we have several wild American Elderberry trees! They’re all in flower right now, and I’m crazy excited to have them.

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What post would be complete without cats? Widget and Poppet are such fat and happy things.

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And then there’s Pippa, who’s starting to show her age, but certainly not acting it.

Today in (Phone) Pictures

I went out this evening fully intent on taking plenty of good pictures of the flock in this glorious weather, and realized my camera battery was dead. So, I used my phone.

Everyone is doing very well on the plentiful grass, and the new honeybees are thriving. I’m hoping the temperatures stay reliably warm now, because I’ve transplanted my tomatoes and peppers into the garden.

Oona chose watermelons to grow in her garden space, and if we can keep the ducks out, I think she’ll be successful.

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S|NO|wpocalypse ’17

We were so hoping for a snow day. They’d been calling for a foot or so for us, and everyone was out in force yesterday clearing the stores of eggs, milk, and bread (not to mention the liquor store).  I had no appointments or places to be the next couple days, and was prepared to give the kids a day off from school to play in the snow and enjoy our one and only day of winter.

We got 4 more Pekin ducklings a few days ago, and I  beefed up their bedding and made sure they were good and cozy and the heat lamp wouldn’t be affected by ice or snow.  We have gallons and gallons of kerosene in reserve for the heater, just in case. In short, we should’ve known.

This was our glorious snow storm:

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SO DISAPPOINTING.

It looks like winter has passed us by this year, and we may as well keep on our path to spring.

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So what do you do when you’ve lost out on your much-needed snowday?

First I put together dough for cinnamon bread and made a good strong cup of coffee.

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Then I worked on cutting some pieces for quilting.

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Of course, Widget wasn’t going to allow that to last without some “help”.

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I can’t resist him. I’ve put away the quilting supplies and moved on to transferring some of my seedlings out of the starter kit that Widget keeps sitting on and trying to eat the sprouts out of.

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It was a decidedly NOT snowday thing to do.  It did, however, make me happier about the impending spring and summer weather. I can’t wait for those  juicy tomatoes, fresh off the vine (if I can keep the deer out this year!).

I did make the kids do their schoolwork today, as well. They didn’t mind, since there was no snow outside to frolic in. Plus they were all gathered around the table once the cinnamon bread came out of the oven.

I’ll be making a giant batch of Bolognese sauce and knitting more hats the rest of the day while I resign myself that winter is pretty well done.

Someone better tell my hens it’s time to start laying some eggs!

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Still Waiting

Waiting for winter, waiting for spring, waiting to see if my ewes are bred. If they are, they’re not telling.  If they aren’t, they are getting pretty fat anyway.

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I’ve been organizing my lambing supplies and ordering what I need, just in case. I’ve also been trying not to bother them too much, though that isn’t as easy.  I want to keep my hands on them to make sure they’re gaining enough weight, and checking their mucous membranes for signs of anemia. So far, everything seems okay, but one thing I’ve learned is to never count on it staying that way!

Last year’s baby chicks are finally starting to lay and/or crow, and I’m dreaming of ducklings now. I won’t order any chicks, but if one of our hens decides to go broody, I’ll put together a little maternity ward and hatch some eggs that way.

Signs of spring are definitely everywhere. The buds are really popping on the trees, and daffodils and forsythia are blooming everywhere. Mine are a little bit behind, owing to our little micro-climate in our hollow. It’s tough not to be out every day prepping the garden beds and getting the seeds started, but it’s only February.  Winter has been known to come back and smack us hard in March, so I’m not counting on this warmer weather to last reliably.  I have been out covering over troublesome weed areas with cardboard and feed bags, though. The war against weeds knows no winter!

I’ve also been cleaning up my beehive components and getting them ready for new occupants.  For Valentine’s Day Paul ordered me a new colony set to arrive in April from a local source. It’ll be so good to have bees again! I’m debating moving them a bit closer to the house and away from the neighbor who sprayed bifenthrin all over their property the summer before my previous colony failed. They haven’t done so since, and I’m hoping they won’t again.

On cooler days I’ve been trying to catch up on making stock from the leftover chicken carcasses from dinners. I’ve been keeping them frozen until I had a chance to let them slow cook, and whenever I can, I put them on the stove in my giant  pot and make up gallons of stock. It’s one of the most satisfying things to make in your kitchen!

Despite the warmer temperatures, Pussy Hats have been flying off my needles. I’m on my fourth at the moment, and keep getting requests for more. I’m more than happy to oblige, though I realize I could have finished my Chimney Fire sweater a few times over by now!  It is gratifying though to have smaller projects that work up quickly and are portable enough to bring to appointments during the week.

Maybe my sweater will be done before winter is, but it’s not looking like it. Secretly (or not…), I AM still hoping for one good wallop of snow before spring.

Fingers crossed.

 

 

 

The End Of August

This is it, folks. The last day of August. Summer is coming fast to a close. Tomorrow is the start of my most favorite time of year, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  The kids are enjoying their last full week off before school starts. The animals certainly look ready for cooler weather, hiding out in the shade all day being lethargic.  Even inside,the cats have been favoring darker, cooler spots under beds during the day.

Unfortunately my battery charger for my camera has died, so the pictures in this post are all from my phone.

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Little Poppet, who is almost a year old now and still impossibly tiny.

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I started working on my sweater again for the first time in a few months. I realized that Rhinebeck is not actually that far away now, so I’d better get it done!

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A portion of the garden’s output this year. I may have been robbed of my tomatoes (stupid deer), but boy my pumpkins have come through!

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Asters and mums!!!!

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There’s still plenty of goldenrod all around as well.

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Flapjack and Charlie have become something of an item. He follows Charlie wherever he goes, and Charlie shares his food with him. Normally, Charlie will snap at anyone who gets in on his food (the chickens, the goats, the dogs, Churchill), but for some reason he doesn’t mind Flapjack. Must be love!

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While Flapjack is following Charlie, Charlie is generally following me. He loves having his ears scratched!

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Of course, I think he also is always hoping I’ll have a treat for him.

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Morning glories! You know what that means………my birthday is just around the corner!