Summer Bounty

Green beans from our garden

Now that we are well into summer, my days are getting a bit busier. I now pick green beans and sweet peas. It’s enjoyable and peaceful to pick them in the cool, freshness of the morning before the sun’s heat is hot on my back, reminding me of childhood times when we used a magnifying glass to focus the sun heat on a pile of tinder in an attempt to set it on fire. After I’ve picked the ripe beans and peas, I take them into the house and wash, snap, blanch, and freeze them.

It won’t be very long before our tomatoes are ripe. I prefer to dry my herbs and freeze my veggies, but I’d like to can the tomatoes. Neither EJ nor I really know how to can. EJ grew up on a farm and his Mom did a lot of canning so he has more memories of the process than I do. I grew up in a house on a large double lot in a small town. When I was really young, we had a large garden, but I don’t remember my Mom canning. We either ate the fresh veggies or my Mom must have frozen them. THIS year, EJ and I want to teach ourselves to can. We say that every year, but THIS year we really want to do it. It would be nice to have canned tomatoes all winter long.

A couple of days after we adopted Theo and Millie, I let them out of the coop. I always keep a new cat contained for a few days so they can learn that THIS is their new home. I always feel it’s a risk to let a new cat out because I don’t know if they will stay. Theo and Millie both stayed. I haven’t seen Millie leave the coop at all. She usually just stays in her hiding place on top of the litter buckets that hold the chickens’ feed. Theo leaves the coop occasionally, but he hasn’t ventured out of the pen. I keep telling them, “You know, it’s ok to wander a bit….” I think/hope they are more likely to leave the pen once we open the gate to let the chickens in the garden after the harvest is over. I mean, we got the cats to keep the rodent population down. They need to get to it. So far, Annie is unimpressed with the new cats.

Our Chickens

I started selling eggs because our chickens produced more than we could use. However, we now have a few regular customers and we struggle to keep up with demand so we decided to add to our flock. TSC (Tractor Supply Company) is now having its “Fall Chick Days,” which is when they have live chicks and ducklings for sale in their store. I just learned that they have Chick Days in the Fall; I thought they just had it in the Spring. The biggest advantage of buying chicks in the Fall is that the chicks will be mature enough by Spring to begin laying eggs.

EJ and I drove to TSC this morning with the anticipation of bringing home 5-6 cute little chicks. However, they didn’t have Rhode Island Reds, which is the type we want, and they only had “straight run,” which means males and females are mixed together and you get what you get. Chicks are hard to “sex” so even if you order all females, there is a possibility that you could get a rooster or two, but there is less chance than when ordering straight run. A store employee told us that we’d have to order our chicks on-line, and the minimum number we can order is ten. That’s about twice as many as we wanted. But one of the cashiers spoke up that she’d take any that we didn’t want, including roosters. She gave us her phone number. I thought that was very sweet.

When we got home, I got on my computer and ordered the ten chicks, using my 10% off coupon. Apparently, the chicks will be mailed to our post office. When they arrive, the post office will call us to pick them up. I’ve never ordered live animals through the mail before. I hope they all arrive safely.

Part of the crime scene in the coop – November 2017

We have a mouse family living in the house. A couple days ago I saw a dark blur as a mouse streaked across the living room floor and disappeared in the kitchen. When Hannah Joy ran after it, Little Bear and Timmy, our indoor cats, backed away. A few minutes later Hannah sat on the floor intently looking at something near the couch and growling. I walked toward her and she quickly gobbled up something and took it onto our bed. Suspecting it to be a mouse and not wanting her to eat it on the bed, I shut Hannah (still carrying the thing in her mouth) into the hallway. She spit it out on the floor and I saw it was a youngling mouse–dead, but not chewed up. I scooped it up with the dustpan and threw it out into the chicken pen. The chickens attacked it like vicious Velociraptors. I was surprised when we first got chickens to learn that they not only eat grain and grass, but also insects and rodents. In fact, in late 2017, I went out to their coop and it looked like a crime scene: There was blood splatter everywhere–on the feed bucket, on the inner coop, on the walls–from where they had attacked something, probably a mouse.

We have been enjoying the summer wildlife. We constantly see Monarch butterflies flittering about. I also saw a weird insect in our garden one day. I looked it up on Google and discovered it was a Common Whitetail Skimmer. A brilliant blue Indigo Bunting has visited our feeder a few times. A few evenings ago I saw the Mama Deer walking along our hill with her adorable little fawn. The turkeys also occasionally wander through. I love our property.

I made this doll. The pattern is from Havva Designs.

When I’m not busy with other tasks, I work on my crocheting. I finished an adorable doll a few days ago. I’m now working on a tiny mouse. The pattern is not very detailed so I’m looking at the photos and trying to adjust it. This doll is available for sale on my website.

 

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