Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Feeling Fall

The leaves in the trees are looking faded and old, and the fog hovers in the marsh long into the morning.  It's a race now to finish the outside work before the hard cold comes.  The seasons here in the Northwoods are short.  I try not to think about all the tasks I want to complete and just focus on accomplishing at least one task every day. Tom and Ed worked on making firewood -- filling the wood stacks in the garage and the kindling bin, and covering the outdoor wood piles with tarps to keep them dry when the rains of Autumn come.  I, too, have been busy.
Canned peaches, kosher garlic dill pickles and country bread
And today we went out to the field and harvested my Red Cloud potatoes.  We got eight bushels.  I took one to my Dad with a bag of fresh peaches (he loves peaches).  Four bushels will feed us through the winter, and I will keep one bushel for next year's seed potatoes, so that leaves two bushels to sell at the farmers market.  I expect they will sell quickly.  Red potatoes are popular and I am the only vendor that sells the Red Cloud Variety. 

My Golden Bantam corn is still not ready to pick.  I'm not sure it will finish ripening before we get a hard freeze.  I expect it needs at least three more weeks of grow time.  The winter squashes and the pumpkins I will leave alone till after frost.  Then I will go out and bring whatever is on the vines back to the house.  I only got four pie pumpkins last year.  I sure hope I get more than that this year.  And I will be grateful for any winter squash I get.  I would love to get some Blue Hubbards this year.

I put all of the gardening tools and farmers market supplies out in the new shed.  The garage looks so different!  You can feel the feng shui is much better.  The no-flat replacement tires I bought from Northern Tool came in the mail for the hand truck and Tom's wheelbarrow -- just in time, too, for all of my Fall weeding and pruning chores.  No more cussing over flat tires!

Lara and I had a good day at last Saturday's farmers market in Phillips.  We sold a bushel of Tom's corn, all of the radishes we bought, and most of another bushel of green beans.  Alan and Diane Barkstrom of B's Flambeau Acres were back from a short trip they took and were selling their delicious honey and maple syrup.  It was great to see them and all the other vendors.  Farmers markets are such wonderful community builders. They keep money circulating locally so your town prospers economically, and you get to know your neighbors -- an emotional stabilizer that is, in my opinion, very underrated.

Well, it's getting late and I'm beat from digging up those potatoes!  Talk to you soon.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Blessings in Disguise

This is the busiest Mercury Retrograde I can ever remember having.  Usually when Mercury goes retrograde I go into turtle mode and decide to shovel out the house, preferring to stay safely home rather than travel and chance having the truck break down.  (I really don't travel well.)  But this time, all sorts of things are happening. 

Tom brought 28 cabbages home from his garden and I put them in the basement to hold till the temperatures cooled down a bit, but he started griping about the smell they gave off so I wound up dragging them all back upstairs and making ten gallons worth of sauerkraut.

I expect this will be a fast ferment because of the warmer temperatures.  I don't think a fast ferment makes for a very good tasting kraut, but it will taste ok.  There are sixteen medium size heads of cabbage in these crocks.  (If you'd like to see how I make my kraut, scroll down the right side of this blog to where "Special Links on this Blog" is and click on the "Making Sauerkraut in a Crock" link.  Part 2 is the link below that one, "Canning Sauerkraut in a Pressure Canner". 

I also finally made my first batch of kimchi by following this fine lady's instructions, and this is what it looked like when I was finished.  This batch made five quarts.
Let me tell you, this stuff is really easy to make and is hot enough to burn out anything that might be ailing you.  It can definitely "kill a cure".  And boy, is it good. Goes well with a cold beer. 

Yesterday the shed I've been wanting for six years finally materialized.  Am I happy!

Now I will be able to clean out the garage and we will again have room for both the truck and the mini van.

Speaking of the garage, that's where I have the onions curing. They are mostly small, and there are alot more here on this 2' x 3' screened frame than you might think.  I stir them at least once a day so they all are exposed to the air.  In about two weeks they should be dry enough to take to the farmers market.

Here's a pic of the Silver Queen Artemesia I dried.  It is hanging with some broom corn I grew a while back that I want to use to craft some hearth brooms to sell at the last farmers market that coincides with the Phillips Fall Festival. That festival is usually held the end of September.  (It's a really nice festival, by the way.  Try to go, if you can.  There are lots of crafts and good food; a nice family event.  That is where I go to buy my yearly supply of cranberries.)

Today was our first day for Special Olympics bowling for this year.  Most of the young people showed up.  They were all happy to get back together and see each other again. 

When we got home from bowling we were greeted by the sight of my neighbor's hunting dog pup coming out of my chicken coop with feathers in his mouth.  In fact, there were feathers everywhere -- and no chickens in sight.  Oh, boy.  Well, I went over to my neighbor's house and they came to get the pup.  After supper I got a pail of corn and went around calling the chickens and rattling the corn in the pail.  Three of them were  hiding in the garage, another four were hiding under the highbush cranberry and wild rose bushes, and lo and behold Fortunate One/aka Jamie Oliver (Lara's pet rooster) came from wherever he'd been hiding with one hen that stayed with him, so all chickens were fortunately accounted for.  Fortunate One looked very indignant and like he lost five pounds.  That's the luckiest darn rooster I've ever seen. 

Sometimes you just need to remember to count your Blessings.

Well, I've prattled on long enough.  Be safe and Be well!

Grass Root Super Weeds

Grass grows in lots of places.  In some places there are people who think grassroots are weeds that need to be removed.  So, those people use pesticides to try to get rid of the weeds.  The problem with pesticides, however, is that over time its use tends to create super weeds, and we all know that super weeds can be overpowering.  Well, Wisconsin, we are a state of Grassroot Super Weeds, and we have shown the Citizens United enabled, Corporate/Bankster owned so-called leaders of our state that we weeds aren't going anywhere.  Thanks to you Senators Wirch and Holperin have been re-elected.  Go Wisconsin!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Working Hard

Before I forget, here's the picture of our greenhouse roof raising crew that my nephew, John Ertl, took and so kindly sent me even though he's very busy moving to Hartford, Connecticut to begin his new job.  He is so fortunate to get a job right out of college!  I really appreciate his kindness in sending me the picture.  With all our families so busy it's hard to get even some of us together for a picture of any sort.

Left to right:  my sister Mary Ertl, Dad, Yours Truly who really needs to buy some clothes that fit, my husband Tom, my sister Anna's husband John Christian, John's daughter Angie and her husband Todd Brandenberg
Thanks again to everyone for helping us get that greenhouse up!  Thursday Tom will stop in town and see about getting some stone to put in the the greenhouse and around it as a border.

Lara and I finally made it to the farmers market in Phillips this past Saturday.  It was supposed to rain, but we lucked out with a really lovely day.  It was GREAT to see all the vendors and our many customers again.

We didn't have very much to sell:  beets, fresh sage, rhubarb, scarlet nantes carrots, garlic, one bunch of radishes, and a horseradish root.  The carrots went fast (even the misshapen ones that I labeled "Ugly Carrots"), and I was surprised the horseradish root sold.  My garlic was very popular.  Lara and I debuted our new sunflower aprons.  It was a fun day.

Tom brought home another three bushels of beets from his garden, and we picked two bushels of green beans, so I've been busy canning.  (I have to tell you that I REALLY like those new Tattler reusable canning lids I bought.)  I like to can after I take care of Lara for the last time of the day because then I have no more interruptions to deal with and the air is cooler after sunset so the kitchen is not so hot a place to work.  Last night I brought up my sauerkraut crocks because even though I don't want to make kraut now because the daily temperatures are not where I like them to be for kraut making, Tom brought home 28 cabbages that aren't going to keep.  He is going to the store tomorrow and will get me some cheesecloth and lots of onions. We already ordered our fresh caraway seed from Penzeys.  Then, my sister, Anna, stopped by for a cup of tea and dropped off a bushel of cucumbers for me.  She said she was sick of making pickles!  I had to laugh.  We are not making pickles this year so we will be eating lots of cucumber and strawberry soups and cucumber salads.  It is a nice light lunch.

By Friday I hope to pick another bushel of green beans to sell at the farmers market.  I may have some cucumbers and lettuce from the garden boxes by then, too.  I will sell some of my Egyptian Walking onion sets and the Silver Queen Artemesia bunches that I hung to dry from the garage rafters a few weeks back.  That should be enough.

I've been using the dehydrator non-stop for the last two weeks.  Little by little I'm drying plenty of sage and Genovese basil, different thymes and oregano from the forest garden, and lots of good chocolate peppermint -- my favorite drink for winter time.  Even if you don't have a lot of food, if you have spices you can liven up whatever you have.  And should you have nothing but spices, brew some  as a tea and you will still derive some nutritional benefit.  (But let's hope that life never gets that desperate!)

Chocolate Mint
Out in the field, we uncovered the rest of the hops.  I thought I had three more plants, but when I checked my planting map, I did only have 15 plants (three of each):  Williamette, Cascade, Nugget, Zeus, and Brewers Gold.  Thankfully, all are alive and well.  Tom tilled the ground in between all of the plants for me.  All the hops need now are some poles and later this Fall a dose of manure.

We also weeded the Golden Bantam corn and sprayed Liquid Fence over the winter squashes.  Ed and I pulled the onions and let them dry in the sun till we were ready to go back to the house.  After supper I cut off the tops and spread them out on some screens to cure.  I always cure my onions before I sell them.  They look pretty with their golden papery skins after they are cured, and I am satisfied I am selling a good product.

The leeks are looking good.  I told Tom I want to establish a permanent leek bed, so I will transplant them into the new garden box I'm going to build -- hopefully some time next week.  They are Musselburgh leeks, a heirloom variety, and I really would like to be able to over winter them and collect seed from them next year. 

The collards, cabbages, and eggplants are lost causes, eaten by leaf hoppers.  I don't even know why I plant them out in the field because the bugs always get them there.  I have better luck growing these things in the garden boxes for some reason. 

The barley is visible, grown up among the grass and is nearly ripe.  I don't know if I will try to harvest it or just till it all under as a green manure.  The pie pumpkins are few and far between, but I will take the sickle and cut down the grass surrounding each mound. 

On Wednesday our Special Olympics bowling starts again.  Lara and Ed are looking forward to going.  It will be nice to see all the young people again. 

Well, my arthritis is acting up so I'll leave off for now.  Be well!

More Recall Elections

Tomorrow are the last two recall elections.  Get out and vote!  Re-elect Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch who sided with working people when the Republicans began their rampage against the democratic process last January.  One person CAN make a difference.  YOU can make a difference.  If you live in the counties where the recall elections are being held, go and vote!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Not the Last Word

Well, the Workers of Wisconsin may only have won two of the six recall elections, but I bet the crooks in Madison are sweating nonetheless.  And if nothing else, these recall elections have made very visible the nefarious and unethical nature of outside big money's influence in state politics.  Thanks to the Bankster owned Supreme Court and its Citizens United decision.  It may be legal, but that doesn't make it right.  I happen to believe that what goes round, comes round, and the rotten elements of our society will at some point reap what they have sown. 

I can't wait.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Vote Tomorrow

There are six recall elections TOMORROW, Wisconsinites, in the 2nd, 8th, 10th, 14th, 18th, and 32nd Senate Districts.  We won all six recall primaries, now PLEASE get out and vote for PEOPLE and not the corporate agenda of Scott Walker.  HIS RECALL begins in January.  Yeah!

Friday, August 05, 2011

August Already

It's a busy month already.  On Sunday I took Lara to see the last Harry Potter movie.  It was a birthday present to her.  We had originally gone to the theater in Woodruff on the opening weekend, but lo and behold, the show was sold out and we had to go home.  It never crossed my mind that any theater up here in the Northwoods would be sold out.  Anyway, she didn't mind waiting a while and going to the theater in Phillips instead of back to Woodruff.  We had a nice time and she liked the movie. 

On Monday Tom helped me can three bushels of beets from his garden since we had torrential rains that day.  He really must have been bored.

Then on Tuesday I took Lara to get her hair cut by Lori Wagner over at Lori's Nook in Butternut and we enjoyed our quarterly gab fest.

On Wednesday we took everybody to the Loon Day craft show in Mercer.  I bought my yearly 5 lb. bottle of honey.  This year I chose Basswood honey.  It was a tough choice between the Basswood or getting Tupelo honey.  The Basswood has a slight lemony taste to it and the Tupelo tastes like melted butter.  Both are so good!  I bought Ed a weird blob-type of toy that he likes -- he's very tactile, and Lara got a cranberry scented room spray.  I found a new strainer for the mud room utility sink drain, and Tom bought some mesquite barbeque sauce.  Loon Day is a big festival that draws people from all over the country.  Some years are better than others, and this year was better than last year.  We stopped at a vendor and bought hot dogs and bratwurst to eat.  It was a fun day.

Back to work on Thursday found me chopping down weeds out in the field in the hops yard with my Austrian sickle.  I uncovered 6 hops plants and have 9 more to find.  The sun is SO hot that I just can't stay outside for very long before I start feeling sick.  That pisses me off, too because the heat never used to bother me.  Well, we all have to be very careful while out in this ungodly heat.  (I think if I lived in Texas I would go mad.  Those poor farmers!  It's the Great Depression all over again.) The grass that I'm cutting is about shoulder high, but the hops plants aren't hard to spot.  The bines (hops vines are called bines) climb the strong-stemmed grass and then run over the tops.  All I have to do it grab a bine and follow it down to the ground to find the clump.  After that it's just a matter of cutting the grass around the hop plant mound.  The work is tedious because I didn't take care of the section earlier, but I have no one to blame but myself.   With the grass cut I wonder where the deer will sleep.  There are deer beds all over the place.  Figures they would like sleeping next to the corn section!
Uncovering hops mounds

The quest for nine more hops mounds

Tom and I made a wonderful discovery.  We have bull frogs!  I was reaching for a clump of grass to cut when something jumped.  Of course, I jumped, too.  I figured with my luck that it was a snake, but a closer look made me smile.  A bull frog! I haven't seen a bull frog up here in 50 years.  Honestly.  Then, Tom came across one as he was mowing, so I guess since we have two of them, there's a good chance we have more.  Anyway, the froggie was hiding in the grass next to a hop mound so I covered him up with the bines and cut the grass around him without scaring him away.

Tom has been cutting the grass inside the field fence.  We found some catnip, winter savory, elcampane, tansy, and mullein growing where the high tunnel used to be that I will transplant into the forest garden.  I had buckets to put them in but didn't have a shovel in the truck, so that will be a task for another day.  I love tansy even though it is very aggressive.  I used to hang bunches of it in the rooms of our house when we lived in Illinois and we never had problems with wee flying beasties annoying us.

I took a stroll over to the field section where I planted the barley, pie pumpkins and beets.  I've never planted barley before so I'm not real sure what I'm looking at, but the spot where I planted it looks a darker green than the areas around it so I'll just give it a while.  I was happy to see a bunch of pumpkin vines starting to run, but there was nary a sign of any beet in the 500' that were planted.  Drat!

Well, that's about it for now.  Be safe!