Consecration Acres

"If ye labor with all your might, I will consecrate that spot that it shall be made holy."

Mulches, a milestone and more marmalade

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This is one of those weeks when the week I envisioned was tossed out the window by a scheduled, but unknown to me, event. As I look back on the week, it seems like we didn’t get much done and yet I am as tired as I would be at the end of a finished-the-to-do-list week. I think I just lost a lot of time and energy in adjusting and trying to compensate in my schedule. This is one of those times when my natural disinclination to live life on the fly is a liability.

I did, however, hit a major milestone this week—I filled up the last of my pint-size canning jars! I know, I know, you are all falling off your chairs in your excitement, but I truly never thought I’d see the day. Much as the laundry hamper, but in reverse, I believe I have some empties again today, but it was a glorious moment while it lasted.

The food item that tipped me over the edge was strawberry-apple butter. My attempts to make straight strawberry butter here were sheer insanity—4 pounds of berries yielded a little over ½ pint of butter! I was so disappointed, as I had made and loved it (and gotten a reasonable yield) back in Oregon from the awesome Hood strawberries we got back there. Initial taste tests on this have been favorable so I’ll record my process. I used up the last of our cheap apples (about 35 lbs), sauced them, filled my two 7 quart slow cookers, cooked them down about ¼ of the way and added two pounds of strawberries (on sale this week!) to each, and then cooked it down the rest of the way.

I also made ginger marmalade. Wow hot, but delicious. I used this recipe, but cut the sugar down, left a little more liquid in and used dry pectin. I pressure canned it as my “ginger pH” internet query informed me that ginger was the same as figs and leeks, both of which require additional acid to safely water-bath. We will see how we end up using the stuff. Will the kids brave watery eyes to eat a peanut butter and ginger marmalade sandwich?

I went to the grocery store and bought the week’s groceries, more jars, more pectin, 20 more lbs of strawberries and a 40 lb box of D’anjou pears. I didn’t know how to respond when the guy bagging my groceries looked at my cart and asked, “Are you making smoothies?” Um, yes…60 lbs of smoothies…

The grapes are in and all the berries are mulched. After seeing how much bark mulch it took just to put a small ring around the bases of each plant, I started thinking that mulching the entire row in between plants was not a great idea, but what to do? Then Elijah started talking about using rock mulches and I was staring at all the rocks we pulled out of the ground when we planted and, well, 2+2=4. So now I’ve rock mulched most of the blackberry row. It looks pretty nifty. I hope it will keep the weeds down between the plants. I’m hoping to get that done by the end of the week. We are supposed to creep up to the mid-80s by then. There is still much to do out there and the day is coming when I am not going to be able to stand the heat.

Isaiah planted all the onions. Grace went out and pulled up two, excited by what she found.

Apparently, I set at least one of my sweet potatoes upside down as it is growing green leafy shoots under the water. Oops. My instructions said to put the pointier end downward. It looks like I guessed wrong.

And Ella is no longer being milked. She is eight weeks from delivery and was only giving about 1 ½ cups per milking. We are still getting a fat quart from Penny, but are missing the extra milk. As my attempts to freeze milk for the dry months resulted in a lot of wrecked bags of milk, I will go back to making some rice milk to get us through. I need to figure out some way to protect the frozen milk from damage.

I think that’s it for the week. My husband and I are having fun going out and envisioning our garden/orchard/berry patch in a couple years’ time. It is finally starting to look like something.

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