Consecration Acres

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


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Hay fever

Allergies are always bad when we first move to a new place, but this year, surrounded by our six plus acres of ungrazed and merrily wind-pollinating grasses, we are really suffering.  Elijah helped me disinter the garden hose that was buried beneath all the huge irrigation pipes yesterday and ended up with his eyes literally swollen shut for a while.  I stayed out and watered everything and even with the herbs that I take I am still feeling pretty awful.  NEXT YEAR all the garden/orchard/whatever-else heavy lifting has to be done before June strikes, and our watering must be automatic!  It was a little tricky to keep up before allergy season hit, but now it is really not going well.

Since I last wrote we have put in the second bed of strawberries, some Fall Gold raspberries, three little grape vines, a few tomatoes and some peppers.  My husband bought cabbages and eggplants as well, but I haven’t managed to stay outside long enough to finish prepping their bed so I can plant them.  Considering everything—spotty watering, weeds trying to reclaim the beds, no fertilizer—they are all hanging in there pretty well.  The radishes are really good, the Red Sails and Red Romaine lettuces are gorgeous and the beets and chard have finally decided to pick it up and grow.  The peas are holding eachother up this year (weird!) and are putting out their first blossoms. My purple artichokes all came up, but are being really slow, while only one of my green artichokes came up but it is growing well.  So far my non-red lettuces have made a pitiful show, the spinach likewise, my carrots REALLY need more and really consistent water and I’m getting ready to declare the Brussels sprouts no-shows.  Now if I could just stand to be out there long enough to record my varieties, then this farm journal might really be worth having.

We are working on the fertilizer production.  After mulling various animal possibilities, discovering that one of the Navajo-Churro sheep the farmer wanted to sell was an extremely old ewe, and reviewing our budget and the need for outbuildings to overwinter animals, we decided instead to purchase a Holstein steer from our neighbor.  He is (mostly) happily grazing down our upper pasture and will be butchered in the fall before the snows hit.  He has no name.  We tried for a while, but couldn’t agree on anything, and as he is just going to become meat…  I would say “poor fellow” but he is living a fantastically bovine life out there—eating, drinking and fertilizing the days away.  The only thing he misses are his herd mates when they are grazing at the far end of the neighbor’s pasture.  As he is basically a waste product of the dairy industry in this area, things could be much worse for him.

You may recall my rantings over the price of hay back in CA.  As we are in peak haying season and rain is supposed to hit this week, farmers all over the valley are advertising hay $2-$3 per bale to anyone who will come and collect it.  Good grief!  And now we have no place to store it and no animals that will need it…  Elijah suggested that we could buy some and build a barn out of it.  🙂

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Solar cooker, suckers and a rebounding garden

While summer is far from over, I am feeling hope of cooler temperatures. Our overnight lows are consistently chilly and keeping the evaporative cooler on overnight leads to in-house lows of about 56F. The kids complain occasionally, but it means we top out at 73 or 4 with the added bonus of starting off the morning in sweaters—clothing of the gods. Perhaps just the Norse gods… I need to start paying attention to our combined high and low. A neighbor of ours says that ideal grass-growing weather is when the combined temps equal 100F. My pasture-seeding experiment last year was a complete flop, I believe in part because I seeded when the books said to and it was still far too hot to sprout before everything was cooked or eaten. Speaking of weather (and I sure do!) the larger weather patterns are suggesting an El Nino year. Apparently, last time this brought torrential rains and flooding to our neck of the woods. Boy, could we use a little of that.

The garden has noted the cooler temps and those plants that have just been hanging on are waking up and becoming productive. The tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and tomatillos are going crazy. If we can keep the birds and voles off of them, we will have a glut. This week we also harvested our first little handful of potatoes. One of the plants had died, so I poked around underneath and pulled up spuds! Bethel worked them into yesterday’s potato salad. We are also quickly eating our way through all our butternut squash. They are on the smaller side (due to irrigation system breakdown, perhaps) and very, very sweet so we’ll go through three in a sitting. We need to start using up the pumpkins. August is hardly the time I feel inclined to start eating pumpkins, but I feel much less inclined to watch them go bad, so it’s time to start working through them.

The corn has been disappointingly starchy and not very sweet. I’ll continue to try to pick it earlier, but at some point I’m going to throw in the towel, dry it and grind it into cornmeal. Fortunately, the goats love the stalks and husks and the chickens will eat the cooked corn very merrily after we’ve all maxxed out on starchiness. With animals around, there isn’t ever much in the way of true waste.

I’ve been cooking most of our side vegetables in a diy solar cooker. A woman from church taught a group of us to make this solar cooker and it’s worked really well for potatoes, yams, beets, carrot and parsnips. I tried baking bread in it this week, but I got it out a little late and it didn’t finish before the sun went down so I had to switch it to the oven. The texture was lighter and coarser than usual—different, but everyone liked it and it was gone within 24 hours. I will try again.

Isaiah is still working on our latest garden irrigation system. He is barely keeping pace with the breakage of the older one. While perhaps well-suited to a careful adult watering a long border of flowers, the hoses have not withstood melons, pumpkins or the not-so-careful approach to turning on the soakers most often employed around here.

In the exciting world of preserving…I made a batch of German pickles from my mom’s recipe and two more batches of marinara sauce. The German pickles need a few weeks to fully become themselves, but we fished the last few out of the bottom of the pan (hot-pack pickles! Who knew there was such a thing?) and divided them up between us. They were universally liked. I prefer them to the sweet pickles I’ve been making, as the flavor is more balanced between sweet and sour. I ended up switching spices around a little as I was out of dill weed and yellow mustard seed, so we’ll see next month how they are with the added flavors of black mustard and dill seed.

I still need to get out and prune suckers. The ones on the apricot tree are as tall as the tree itself, and that’s just since March! It’s just too bad I don’t want to grow myro29c-fruit, whatever that is. It appears it would do quite well.

Separating the babies from Ella at night has been great and we’re enjoying all the milk. I’ve got to use one of these cool mornings and make butter and clear out all my old cream jars in the freezer. Butter-making is a beast in hot weather, but I’m afraid I’ve put it off so long now that it will be a bit freezer-flavored. Summer strikes again. And registering our goatlets is on hold for a little while now as, if I joined ADGA tomorrow, my membership would be good only until 31 Dec 2015, but if I wait until 2 Sept, it will be good until 31 Dec 2016. So, I hold my horses/goats. We are having a hard time deciding which girl to sell and which to keep. Blossom has been healthy and vigorous and a little more even-tempered from the get-go, but Flower nearly died when she was first born and has the distinction of being our only black and white goat, so everyone’s a little sweet on her. Fortunately, we still have time to decide.


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Catching up

I keep on having my weekends evaporate before I get to recording the week’s progress. I’ve got to get it down now before it all becomes even more unwieldy in my head.

Garden report: The potatoes went in the week before last and are starting to make an appearance. Yay! We had some potatoes back in OR that were so good that they didn’t need any butter or salt—this is my dream for these spuds…that and that I will successfully cure, store and grow new ones next year from our seed. Aim high!

The first round of tomatoes went into the first 18” bed today. I miscalculated or mismeasured and I have room for three more plants. They were a little dried out going in, but I buried them deep and watered them well. I need to read up on pruning and managing determinates vs indeterminates again. Hopefully, once I’ve done it I’ll stop forgetting…

I pulled out the last of the radishes today. Wow!   I did not know that radishes could get so enormous! We had a black variety that came in a mixed packet that grew bulbs larger than my fist and greens longer than my arm, and spicy as all get out. Those will go into the kimchi in place of daikons. The greens went into the goats and they quite liked them.

The spinach that actually grew is getting big and needs to be eaten. I need to see whether I can harvest just the outer leaves. I transplanted a couple of last fall’s chard from the old bed and they have taken hold and are growing again. I’ll move the rest over and then I’ll just have the lonely garlic and a single pea plant that is still hanging on over there.

Despite the brilliance and simplicity of the idea that pea plants can just be planted in two rows 6” apart and then hold onto eachother as they grow skyward, the peas, apparently, think otherwise. Pea supports are needed. Is it because of our wind?

The beets are looking fantastic. At some point I need to poke around and see what the roots look like.

The squashes and pumpkins are growing enormous leaves, sending out tendrils, blossoming and growing little jellybean-sized fruit. The yellow summer squashes are a bit ahead of the game at 4”. I am beginning to dream of sautéed squash with butter and salt.

The melons have blossomed and we are awaiting the appearance of jellybean-sized melons.

Orchard/berry report: Isaiah spent about 20 minutes and got the blueberries on drip irrigation. He’s got the rest of the orchard and berries all figured out and we are now awaiting parts. I am always grateful for the way his brain works and don’t mind his impetuosity at all when he takes on projects that overwhelm me.

The new trees are now looking loads better after two rounds of orchard spraying. The Bartlett pear is also looking much improved. Unfortunately, another of our fig trees is looking poorly. Elijah is researching to see if he can figure out what’s going on and how to save it. I just remember the nursery folks telling us how easy and trouble-free fig trees were here…oh well…

We ate our one and only surviving peach. It was wonderful. Some day I hope we’ll get more than one per annum. We also got a very few blueberries. Considering the fact that they were transplanted while they were blossoming, I am pretty pleased.

All our grapes are alive! We had a couple that I thought were dead, but we’ve got new growth this week! What a blessing and wonderful surprise.

Kitchen report: Pineapples were dried, canned and gorged upon and strawberries were frozen and combined with the last of the apples for more strawberry-apple butter. With the apples gone I am ready to welcome in cherry season.

Animals report: We’ve got to get rid of some of these chickens. The plan is to sell Rudy and his flock. The new meat birds arrive in a little more than a week.

We are on goat watch. Ella is due on Saturday, but has been moaning and groaning and showing various other signs of impending kidding. I was just thinking that this will be our third kidding this year and we still don’t know what to expect because we’ve never been through kidding with this particular goat. Three births, three different goats! Here’s hoping for a daylight delivery, straightforward presentations, a calm momma goat, TWO healthy babies who are good nursers and girls would be nice so I don’t have to deal with castration…

Other: The goldenseal is looking ok, but I’m wondering if it needs a better mulch. My understanding is that it is a forest floor dweller in nature. The motherwort and marshmallow are pretending that it is winter in damp peat in the fridge for a couple of months. As their planter was empty, I bought some non-medicinal lobelia (all they had) and some impatiens. They are not very useful, but they are very pretty and look nice in the blue planters flanking the green door.

I think I need to shift my thinking about the seasons here. Growing up in New England, winter was always the time for inside projects, sewing, etc. Here, winter is about six weeks long and only two of those are post-Christmas. This is not nearly long enough for all the inside stuff I need to get done. And so…perhaps summer needs to be the new winter. It lasts about as long as a NE winter, slows down the garden and is miserable to go out in. I’ll see if I can make it work.


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Garden and orchard report

I need to do a quick wrap-up of the last couple of weeks so that my brain can let go and move in to this Monday.

We spent last week sick and it sure felt like the flu again. Apparently, this year’s strain was/is mutating really quickly. Woohoo. At least I was smarter with the herbs this go around and didn’t make things worse—everyone seems to have wrapped it up in about a week and the coughs are going away quickly. In brief, don’t use immune stimulants with flu—it is better to treat it more like an allergy.

Also, in the exciting world of herbs, I finally planted that last blueberry out with the others and filled the empty planters with peppermint, chocolate mint and stevia. I have a couple of other herbs that I want to put out there with them as soon as I decide which planters to buy. Most herbs require a lot of sun, but there are few that should do well up there. Our raspberry canes are also going completely nuts. I just keep walking out there and seeing all those leaves and thinking “medicine, medicine, medicine….”

The other plants I put in are doing well. I bought them from the same place where we purchase our bulk foods. I had no idea that they carried plants as well! They also carry gypsum for about ½ the price that we paid for ours. Good to know for the future. Anyhow, I planted leeks, bush beans, cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, pumpkins and two types of winter squash. I try to avoid looking at companion planting charts as I have thoroughly messed things up in that sense, and rotating our crops is going to be ridiculous given this year’s bed usage. I am just making use of whatever space we have available, throwing things in the ground willy-nilly and always a little bit late, but at least they are in the ground! We’ll work on being a little less silly with the Fall garden.

I bought a bunch of blank paint stir sticks to mark the garden with. I need to find a different way of writing plant varieties on them—the ink washed away in our single rainstorm. I am thinking of trying the fabric paint that comes in squeeze bottles. It wouldn’t wash away, but could be scraped or sanded off so I could reuse the markers.

We have eaten our first produce from the Spring garden (the peas were planted in the Fall)—radishes, of course. Grace pronounced them “sour”, as she describes anything with an intense flavor.

I spent some (lots of) time levelling the ground and fixing the mulch around the fruit trees. We had a neighbor bring in heavy equipment to plant the fruit trees we bought this year. The planting went a lot quicker, but everything’s really torn up back there now. I’m trying to get it shifted back to level-ish before it bakes in the sun for eight months. And the boys either didn’t hear or understand my instructions on mulching the trees, as the mulch is all right up against the bark, sometimes even covering the graft. I’m scraping that down, redistributing it evenly around the tree and then putting a 6” band of pea gravel immediately around the trunk of the tree. The gravel should do all the good things mulch is supposed to do, but not harbor insects so badly.

The new apple trees are looking lousy. I haven’t taken the time to ID what is getting them (some kind of caterpillar), but Isaiah hit them with some neem last week, so hopefully that will knock them back and give the trees a chance to put out some new leaves.

Ella is looking wide. About five weeks to go before she kids!

The farmers nearby are cutting and baling hay. I’d like to try a little cutting, drying, stacking this year just to get our feet wet, but I’ll have to see if I can squeeze it out of the boys in between garden bed building and filling. I am working really hard to heal my diastasis right now so that I will be more useful in the future, but right now cross-body motion is strictly forbidden. No scything or raking for me…

I went ahead and painted the front door. I’ve been missing New England really badly this last year and was on Houzz looking at NE farmhouses when I was up at 3:30am with a wakeful Joseph and I realized that the green I chose is really common back there, if not so much in sunny CA. Now, if my door didn’t have so much glass I could hang my pineapple door knocker and really be set.

I took Joseph down to Sacramento for a bill hearing at the Capitol. The turnout of concerned citizens was encouraging, but I was reminded of how slimy and underhanded the whole political thing can be and of what an utterly awful idea it is to give a group of people the full-time job of coming up with rules and restrictions for everyone else—cause they sure do it! I know there are states where the legislature is only allowed to meet for a very few designated weeks so that the legislators can and need to have other jobs. It seems that their time and mine would be better spent under such an arrangement.


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Slow week

Slow it was and the weather was cool and perfect for gardening, etc. More the shame, but sometimes one can’t do exactly what one would wish. It seems the more ones are involved, the greater the likelihood of this occurring. I imagine, though, that it is good for me to set my preferences aside and that the One who set up this whole system, will take care of the garden and trees in my absence.

The kids and I went up to the orchard where we bought all those oranges for a sort-of picnic just before our dentist appointments. We decided to eat our lunch at home, as Chickpea Curry would have been a mess with a bunch of kids on a blanket, but we bought oranges and apples there. We held our morning devotional on their lovely lawn and then nearly finished our book before we had to leave. I wish we had not been so rushed—it was so, so beautiful. When I look out over our little orchard, beginning garden and bare/weedy yard, I see this place in my mind’s eye. Mature fruit trees producing an abundance of food, and a clean, beautiful and orderly place to live, work and enjoy. Some day! Truly! I just have to hope that if I keep hacking away at it, eventually I’ll get there.

I finally got the front porch cleaned off. The kids had let cardboard and packing materials accumulate and between that, the potted blueberries (which are now all planted except one) that had been repeatedly de-mulched by the cats, and the handiwork of thousands of spiders, it was looking pretty awful. Now it looks bare, but clean. I’d really like to get the door painted and the planters refilled with something heat and shade-loving and preferably useful for food or medicine. Searching…

I’ve also been cleaning and organizing our bonus room. We had stashed the low-priority boxes up there when we first moved so we could deal with the more urgent things. Unfortunately, the kids got into them and broke, lost and scattered their contents all over the room. For anyone wondering, having a big house definitely has some disadvantages. A-number-one is that you can be blithely living your life in one end of it, thinking that all is well, while the house and its contents are being destroyed at the other and you have no idea until it is too late. Anyhow, a couple of giant cardboard bonfires and six or so weeks of slightly overstuffing our trash can and we’ll see the end of the trash. Then I’ll just have kids’ clothing, camping supplies, old paper files and three memorabilia boxes to sort. I’ll just keep remembering how impossible it once seemed to fill up all my canning jars…

Speaking of canning jars, I bought another box so I could try out some strawberry-pear butter. Directions so I can replicate or tweak next time: 7-quart slow cooker filled with pear puree, cooked down to 2/3rds, added 2 lbs of strawberries, cooked down to about ½ full, added a few dashes of salt, a couple Tablespoons of vanilla, ½ lemon, 1/3 cup sugar and then finally immersion-blended in another pound of fresh strawberries as things just weren’t coming together. It turned out fine, but apple seems the way to go if you want to stretch strawberries.

I need to spend some time building cardboard lids and dividers for jars so I can get them out of my kitchen. Once upon a time canning jars boxes kept your jars clean and from rattling into eachother. No more. So, I build my own out of the abundance of cardboard we always seem to have. They are sturdy and protective by the time I’m done, but I hate taking the time out of my day to do it. I wish these weren’t so expensive!

The garden and orchard are great right now. Thing are sprouting and blooming, fruitlets are forming and bees and butterflies are everywhere. Grace always wants to come with me when I go out to work. I always put on grubby clothes and take my little soft-side toolbag that has my gardening things in it. On Monday, Grace came out with me wearing a pink dress with a ruffled hem, her blue “straw” hat with a flower, and a little princess purse. When we got to the garden, she unzipped her purse and got out her pink, flowered gardening gloves. I thought we made quite the pair.

Our second bed if built and mostly filled. It just needs fertilizing and mixing now, and just in time! Our seed potatoes are still waiting and our sweet potatoes are very aware that it’s Spring and are growing in earnest. I finally broke off some of the longer sprouts to root in water and discovered that one already had an abundance of roots. We need to plant soon. Oh, and the one sweet potato that hadn’t grown anything yet, finally sprouted leaves…underwater of course. I think they are mocking me.

And we finish up the week sick again (just colds), looking forward to General Conference and with rain forecast. Pray, pray, pray. We still have only about 1/3 of what we need to keep from deepening the drought.


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Planting, caring for plants and learning about Motherhood

We have had our first 80 degree day now and the land shows it. The grass is growing thick and high, the blossoms are now beginning to drop and leaves are bursting out everywhere. This is really the prettiest couple of months we have here and I am trying to enjoy it. Summer appears long, hot and dry in the not-too-distant future.

The fruit trees are also leafing out. As they do so, I see my pruning errors in stark-er relief. I also realize that entirely skipping pruning the pomegranates was probably a bad idea. They looked so small, but they are up and at this whole growing thing and could use a little clarifying. I am hoping they will not be past remedy come next winter. I may need to research summer pruning of pomegranates. We fertilized all the trees, got the moldy hay spread around their bases and topped it with some bark mulch as well. I really wanted radial hardwood chips, but could only do so much. I have found permanent tree labels that should work—time to get them ordered.

We did a lot of work on the berry rows this week. The raspberries, blackberries and kiwi are all in, so we just need to plant grapes this year and put in the supports. We are using t-posts and wire as per this method. I have read that there is a type of wire called berry wire. It is supposed to be “softer”. I am not sure what soft wire might be like…  I need to research and determine whether it is worth the price. I am trying to keep my OCD side from having conniptions right now. When the boys heeled in the plants, they took the blackberries out of their containers, so now I don’t know what is what and, of course, I could not plant varieties together. Another issue, of course, is that my plant guarantees are pretty much useless since I won’t know what something is if it happens to die. Also, the rows are not straight. Aaaaaaaaaah!

Grace and Jordan helped pick rocks from the holes before we planted. Grace exclaimed “It’s a rock!” every time she found one, and Jordan expressed doubt that it really was a rock whenever she found one. Elijah and I just had a good laugh as we worked.

Bethel, Jordan and I spread compost and straw on the strawberry beds. The chickens had gotten into the beds and done a little “thinning” while looking for bugs and trying to find an adequate dust bath spot. They made kind of a mess, but I wonder if it might help a bit. The beds have been quite crowded (between not feeling well and “when to do dormant-period maintenance if one’s strawberry bed never goes dormant?” inaction) and I could see this sparser arrangement being better for them. Even if the rows are not straight.   Aaaaaaaaaaaah! There are a good number of blossoms and developing berries. I am hoping for a good harvest.

The blueberries have gotten their 1st helping of cottonseed meal and are awaiting their mulch. I am thinking about planting these potted ones out with their new compatriots. We have a spot that should get some afternoon shade and that has been acidified by a nearby pine tree. I will probably still need to figure out shade cloth for the hottest months, but I think they all have a reasonable chance of success and happiness over there. I am also planting a variety of serviceberry over there that is supposed to do well in our zone. We shall see!

In the kitchen this week—a batch of dill pickles and three more quarts of marinara sauce. The marinara has never been as good as the first time. I think it is just due to the tomatoes, but I am considering using my mom’s recipe next round. It should be about the same processing time in the canner.

And we have only one in diapers now! Woohoo!! With the other kids, potty training has ended up waiting until the child gets sick of diapers and does it themselves. When I wanted them out of diapers it was just an endless parade of tears, tantrums and accidents, but as soon as they decided, it was over and done with. But just to throw a monkey wrench into my expectations and modus operandi, Grace is an extremely patient child, including being patient with yucky pants. Attempts at encouragement and having her try to go on a schedule were completely unsuccessful and so, this week, we just took off her diaper. She was a little sad at first, but settled down to being patient again. A few issues, but she’s doing great and handled her class at Church today (1st time out of the house) like a champ. Tomorrow we’ll attempt a short road trip as we go to pick up a food order.

I received some rather bad news about a friend of mine this week. She is my age, a mom of twelve children (the youngest just turned one in January) and has just been diagnosed with a cancer that modern medicine hasn’t really been able to get a hold on. We are praying for a miracle. I met her and another mom-of-many back when I had three children and was unsure how much longer I should/could keep going with having babies. The two of them had much in common and would sometimes sit and talk about their experiences and insights while I listened and tried to pretend that I had a clue. The things I learned from them changed how I looked at motherhood.

  • I learned that they didn’t have children because it was easy for them to do so, but because they were obeying the promptings of the Spirit. Upon learning that my friend was pregnant (again?!), one rude young relative asked my friend, “Was this planned?” My friend answered, “This is part of His plan.”
  • I learned from them that each child brings both blessings and challenges essential for the growth and perfecting of the mother. My other friend said that as each child made her a bit better, she figured Heavenly Father would need to send her 100 in order for her to become perfect.
  • I learned that we don’t necessarily see what is missing before a baby is born, but their importance is plainly evident after birth. When rude people would assert that my friend had too many children, my friend would ask, “Which one should I not have? Look at my children and tell me, which one would we be better off without?”
  • And after hearing their stories of how hard it was to announce their pregnancies to family and friends, I learned that a pregnancy, no matter how inconvenient, how quick on the heels of the last, no matter which number, no matter the age or circumstances of the mother is always a reason to rejoice and congratulate. Yielding your life to God is never an easy thing, no matter how many times you have done it in the past and being given the stewardship of one of His children is no small matter.

By the end of a couple years of being friends with them I had decided that these wonderful women were not so odd, that they had clear vision and good reasons for the choices they made, and that their reasons could be mine as well. I pray that my friend will recover so that she can continue to share her love and wisdom with her family and others whose lives could be changed by her influence.

What greater gift dost thou bestow,
What greater goodness can we know
Than Christlike friends, whose gentle ways
Strengthen our faith, enrich our days.


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Scrambling

So many weeks out sick means that we are incredibly behind on everything. We started the flu with all our planting just ahead of us. We end it with, “rats…is it too late to…?” I am trying to just keep working through it in a reasonable way, but I often feel like my head is going to explode. Still, being crazy beats being sick!

I finally went out and finished the orchard pruning. Bethel seems to have a knack for it. When I was undecided, she would advise, and did so well. I asked her how she knew what to do and she said that she’d seen well-pruned trees before. And I spent hours reading about it! She’s such a many-gifted girl. I hope she can learn to delight in the good work that her gifts could lead to.

One of our peach trees is oozing gelatinous stuff. I have read that it could be the result of bacterial canker, borers or “growing pains” in young trees. I am really hoping for the third option.

Also, I really need to sharpen my pruning shears. Those last cuts were far from beautiful.

I went out and picked up our bare root trees as well as some grape vines. I was hoping to buy a couple more cherry trees while we were there, but they were long gone. The good news was that the grapes were ½ off, so I was able to get a couple more than I had planned. We are just waiting on the last mail order now. We sure have a lot of planting to do…

Garden bed building is stalled out for now until my husband can scratch out some time to work on it. And on my part it is hard to get excited about expending effort on seed-starting when I’m not sure when there will be beds to plant things in. If only we both had super-powers and required no sleep. I am sure that the Incredibles always get their garden in on time.

incredible garden

Yeah, I thought so…

And we’ve got to get Penny ultrasounded. If she is pregnant, it is time to dry her up. If she is not, I want to de-worm her using the non-pregnant goat stuff. She’s looking thinner than I like to see her.

I finally got the zucchini relish made and canned. Important note to me: get help! It looked pretty straightforward, just some zucchini, peppers and onions, but I found that there is nothing “just” about mincing 14 zucchini, 10 peppers and 8 (apologies to my non-onion-eating family—I feel you wincing) onions. Even with the food processor, it was slow. The zucchini had to be processed one at a time, carefully, lest they puree, and to be scraped down twice. The peppers and onions could go in two at a time, but that’s still 9 rounds. The kids were all delighted with the results, but the little red hen needs to get the other barnyard animals involved in this food project next time.

Other stuff in the kitchen this week: delicious butter (I need to order that splatter guard for my KitchenAid—this is so ridiculous), really dry mozzarella (I still have a baby…) and ricotta. We just went out and bought a bunch of oranges. I may attempt marmalade this week.

The wisdom of having both a farmer and a farmwife is brought home to me from time to time. Caring for plants, trees and animals is really one job and turning it all into eatables and usables is another. With my big boys and mod cons I can almost make it work some times, but it sure isn’t pretty.

And join us in praying and fasting for rain next weekend.  We have about half of what we need for a “normal” rainy season.  Less than that just deepens this drought.