Smudge and Jimmy..

Some of my longer term readers will remember that I was so excited three years ago after many years of looking I finally found my short haired smoke blue solid (no tabby) sweet as can be kitten “Blue”

This little boy hooked my heart the moment I saw him and he came home to me.. great joy indeed.. sadly when he was still pretty young he chased a fly on the back of caleb the horse’s hoof and when caleb lifted and then put his foot down, he stepped on blue..  our free farm kitten because our rush to the vet can we save him kitten.. he did pull though but as he grew the damage to his organs showed up more and more.. sadly Blue never made the age of one before he crossed over.

Thus began my two year search for a solid short hair blue kitten.. I did not want to go buy a purebred Russian blue which would of course been the fastest way to do this..  I wanted to adopt a farm kitten (raised with kids and friendly) or adopt at a rescue. I set a budget of 200 or what I would need to do a kitten for and waited..

I had hoped for a kitten but was open to a younger adult..  I watched and waited.. so many tabbies.. so many wonderful orange kitties.. and I watched and waited..  I looked at a rescue but as soon as I was honest that my kitties are indoor/outdoor.. I was out.

I found the perfect kitten and filled out the paperwork..  nope.. indoor only.. sigh..  I wrote on facebook asking my friends to keep a eye out for me..  a lovely older coming two year old female caught my eye.. but I was declined as I was honest that I already had 6 cats.. she needed a smaller quieter home..

And then I went.. its kitten season! and I flagged some of the local sites and started hunting them.. nothing.. waiting, waiting.. nothing

AND THEN!! O YES!!!

This was my very first glimpse of her.. look at that face! those eyes..  I wrote within two min of seeing her post and back and forth we sent messages and when I put down the phone. I had a pick up time the next day..

So let me introduce you to Smudge.. a stunning, purry in your face short hair smoke blue short haired female.. she is my new baby and she is a handful already..

I had high hopes that her and Miss Leeloo would become good friends.. but what I had not counted on was this little tike.. stealing my hubbies heart as fast as Smudge did mine..

Coming on the running to us with his tail right in the air as Jimmy.. O my.. hubby had liked him out of the kittens shown and he scooped him up

and they did that male bonding thing that can happen and before you could say.. boo.. Jimmy was coming home with us lol

While having the two of them IS a handful.. its a good one.. they both came litterbox trained and have been outstanding in this regard.. we brought out the kitty tower so they go in three or four times a day to get their “special” kitten food.. growing babies need a different menu then rest of the adult cats.

They will NOT be allowed outside for at least a few weeks min and then only when they come running when called on cue..  So Leeloo came in.. sniffed them.. went huh and asked to go back out and hunt..  Leeloo is a hunting farm cat.. she comes and gets one or two max min of love a few times and day and then she is busy living life.

The others were as I expected.. gentle, welcoming and sniff and done..  Its the two auntie farm dogs that are struggling..  they so want to be these wee tikes “BEST FRIEND” and these two are having nothing of it yet.. Jimmy finally did a nose to nose touch and sniff with Dezbot.. but Smudge still gives the puppies the kitten side eye..

The hounds are being so good.. they lay very still.. they are trying so hard to wait for the kittens to come to them lol..  They do adore their purr kitties so much..

At least they still have leeloo to baby LOL

And that is it! I swear.. there is NO plans to add any more cats to the farm.. these will both be fixed at the six month stage.. no heats, no spraying.. no breeding and certainly no kittens..

 

Posted in At the kitchen table | 10 Comments

A “one in a million” Blue Frog

Hubby called out..  come check this out.. we have a blue frog in the pond..

A little online digging came up with this information

According to an article published on Earth Touch News Network, these blue frogs are incredibly rare, and are found in as few as one in one million frogs.
The mutation is caused by a condition called axanthism, and it occurs when a creature is missing pigments from yellow and orange colouration.
In animals such as frogs and snakes, this condition will often leave them a dull grey or brown colour, but in some very rare instances, the lack of yellow gives them a bright blue colour.

So cool..

Posted in photography, pond | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Gal in the Garden Series – Wool Mulch and Kitchen Garden updates.

Wow.. Just WOW.. June is now officially over and its July!  The summer heat has arrived.. and while the area around me has had lots of rain.. some hail and so forth.. we however have watched the rain move past the farm on one side and then the other..

However I am very carefully still watering in seeded out rows to get them up and started.

I can honestly say that the last month that the gardens have exploded in growth, we are bringing in greens, onions, herbs, rhubarb, strawberries, honeyberries, a few peppers..

Lets have look at the gardens on June 30th..  I am going to post a overview photo and then try and do side by side photos when possible of the plots.. we will see how it goes..

Plot one

Our Messy Plot one at the the start of june..  Above and Plot one end of june.

I have seeded out fast growing root crops between the tomato rows and redid our bigger radish patch in there.. the flowers are outstanding and the amount of native bees that are feeding daily on these are amazing.. the bumbles came lots till the comfrey came on tline and then they moved to it so now its filled with all kinds of tiny and mid-sized native bees.

 

Plot 2 is coming along very well!..

It is filling in so well and that’s with me harvesting fresh stuff from it daily in regards to herbs and tea fixings.

Moving on to plot 3..  This is my extra wide plot.. its a double plot in size but its still a good thing that soon enough some of the edge things will get harvested and that they have the walk way to grow into in overlap.

O  my gosh.. what a difference on this one.. can I find a middle photo of growth on this one..

Lets look at that one again from a different angle.. at couple weeks ago but still fully planted..

Or so these are the stump gardens.. Plot 6, 7 an 8.. they got made in june..

These are the stump gardens at the end of june.. coming along..

Plot 6..

plot 7..

Plot 8..  that was the day they were planted.. and below take the end of June..

Ok and lets get to plot 5..  at the start of june, just made and planted out..

Looking much better now..

Those Ground Cherrie’s are sure taking their time to get settled in and start growing.. but its finally starting to happen now.

Ah, my still not working right.. plot 4.. what a pain the .. first I had to paint that side of the deck.. then get the climbers temp tied up (with hay twine.. but we finally found and bought the metal clasps that will screw them to the deck.. and the bird seed has seeded out so many sunflowers that we are wanting to pull and transplant.. however there is also the cherry tomato’s, some climbing cucumbers in there and it really needs to be weeded..  it will look better the next time you see it.. LOL

Now on to the new plots.. lets have the first look at plot 9!

So plot nine is a interesting row.. its got a narrow sheep fleece covered walk way behind Plot 3 to reach the fruiting bushes and for weeding.. there is a half step down to plot 9.

This is called the hedge row plot.. it has fruiting, flowering bushes in it.. there is ninebarks, black lace elderberries, high bush cranberries and gooseberry’s that they swear will grow ten feet tall. (we will see on that) there is ground cover in cross clover plants and at the very end is a big raised mound that has zucchini in it.. the next step down is a full step and that is the swell walk way.. it lets you weed the hedge row.. gives in space for in-fill.. has a built in water gathering factor so that the roots from hedgerow can sink its root down and outward.  It also lets you weed and pick from the back side of Plot 10..

Ok, so this is plot 10.. on the back side.. it’s double the width as the front of the fence.  we still need to add two more metal poles in the middle of the fencing.  The front of row is planted into yellow canning bush beans.. this will create a cooling effect on the soil on the back side closest to the fence in the 30ish days that I will be planting out fall pea’s that are is in canning radishes at the moment.. the big middle row on the back side is into canning beets and the very edge is planted into more fresh eating onions for both eating and drying.

Once we make plot 11.. the kitchen garden build for 2019 will be done..  Plot 11 connects the kitchen garden to the path that the rain garden is on the other side of.. Anything on the other side of the rain garden is part of the food forest..

we have one more section but its a slower.. work on it over the season and compost added to it by the fall and plant it out for spring 2020.. that will be plot 12, 13 and 14.. there are 15 plots in total.   Never had I thought that when I started “kitchen garden rebuild” this spring that I would get this garden that is right here in front of me.. WOW.. just WOW..

Plot 15 is current into a potato garden this year.. I will be sharing it in the coming.. “other gardens”  post.. lol

Well, folks.. what do you think? its coming yes?

Posted in Gal in the Garden Series, Garden | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Happy Canada Day! Eh?!

Milk the cow and feed the lamb
Gather eggs and cure a ham
Saddle up and ride the horse
Let the poultry roam, of course
Home-baked bread and fresh-picked peas
Singing frogs and buzzing bees
Tan a hide and collect some herbs
You can’t do all this in the ‘burbs
No, it’s just another day on the farm

By Dear Hubby 2014

Posted in At the kitchen table | 5 Comments

Strawberries on a Cloud Recipe

Strawberry’s on a Cloud

What a delightful treat this is and its really not that hard to make.. its a little fussy but its also showy enough to make it so worth it!

The Bowl

4 egg whites (crack each one in its own bowl.. You do not want any yolk in this!)

1 tsp of sugar

Beat your whites with the sugar till it is fluffy and forms peaks when tested. Lift your beaters up and they should create a stiff peak when it breaks from the white to the air.

Here is the first fussy part..  use a large serving spoon to take out a mound of the meringue unto a non stick cooking mat or parchment paper.. it will get a lot harder if you do these on a standard cookie sheet.

Once on the sheet, use your spoon to create a hollow in the mound.. raising the sides higher then the middle creating a scoop to fill..

This makes six nice little mounds or it could be used to make four larger ones.. Into a hot pre-heated oven of 400. Bake till Golden Brown all over..  This takes almost no time.. 4 to 6 minutues.. in my oven anyway.. do not walk away from your oven and keep a CLOSE eye on these.. as they do from.. hmmm.. starting to DONE!

Take them out and move them to a cooling rack.. they will deflate a touch.. this is normal..

The Filling

Take a cup of finely diced fresh spring strawberries and drizzle with a touch of maple syrup or sugar if you prefer and toss them with the maple syrup.. chill

The Topping

Whipped cream or clotted Cream or a drizzle of heavy cream if you want it to go easier.. I had some clotted cream in the fridge so of course it went to this!

Take your cooled but still fresh bottoms and gently lift the edge and then peel them off their trays.. they are FRAGILE.. handle with care

Onto their plates and then fill up with fresh strawberries and then top with your choice of cream and serve.. would go great with a little white wine or a nice cuppa of Earl Grey Tea.

They make a lovely spring dessert or they would make a outstanding serving at afternoon tea..

 

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Gal in the Garden Series – Working with “dead” top soil..

It looks so pretty.. that big huge mound of top soil.. so black and rich!

Two loads of 10 tons each have arrived on the farm this year so far.. and its easy to work with, its good quality top soil.. and let me tell you compared to the 99 cent “black soil” in the bags, its for sure much higher quality.

Having said that..  compared to healthy soil.. its pretty much dead..

Not a worm, not a bug, not a seed to be found in it..

At least things want to grow in it.. seeds sprout really well from it..

Having said that..

  1.  It has no holding power in regards to moisture.. water flows though it like nothing I have seen..  It dry’s out fast.. it needs ground cover, it needs bulk and lift. Some beds are getting straw cover, some beds are getting wood mulch cover and some beds are getting wool covers.. All of them have the same purpose.. help keep moisture in.. and start giving things a place to start in getting some life to these soils.
  2. They all need a layer of compost added to them and worked in..  This fall all the gardens need a at least two inches of compost added to them and lightly turned in and then turned in a again in the spring..  (The pototo garden and the corn garden’s are the different ones here.. the corn garden is going to get compost added as a side dressing earlier this year and then it will get turned in after harvest time. The potato garden will get very rich soil used for hilling up that will then be dug in with just a light rabbit manure top up)
  3. Where does that leave me right now.. backfilled with clayish sub soil.. dead but fluffy and pretty is as pretty does top soil..  Lots and lots of compost tea’s..  Comfrey leaves, nettle tea’s, manure tea’s.. in certain area’s light layers of rabbit poo..
  4. Small amounts of living soil moved over into tiny pockets in the gardens to “seed” the soil
  5. Cover crops.. green cover crops.. a lot of area’s have been covered with clover blend, these will be cut very high with a mulching blade to put it all back to the soil for composting in place.

I can see that it will take me a couple years at a min to turn this new soil into fully alive working soil that is top of the line.

What about you.. have you started with poor soil or “dead” top soils or working with sub soils and needed to work with them to create a living soil?  Got any tricks? Tips?  Got a favorite cover crop? Got a favorite Mulch?

 

Posted in Gal in the Garden Series, Garden | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Freezers.. Lets talk about Freezers Baby!

First let me say that owning a freezer is awesome and some thing that far to many of us take for granted.

There are all kinds of freezer owners..

Freeze with the fridge owners.. this freezer used to be quite small but honestly now that you have side by sides or fridges that are now 3 to 4 times the size they used to be.. they can have freezers that can hold the same amount as a small apartment size chest.

These kind of folks tend to have them STUFFED full and they ask me things like.. how much cubic space does half a lamb need 🙂

The next you have the apartment freezers.. they tend to be the size of a good bar fridge, many a little bigger and chest freezers.. if you are living frugal and carefully.. this is most likely the freezer that I would recommend everyone try’s for..

Its got enough room in it that with careful packing you can get your meat sale cycles, some frozen veggies, room for all kinds of small scrapes to be stores for making soup stock or if you are making double portions, freezing the second half for later cooking and or reheating.

All while having the least costly output, still fitting in your smart or smaller car and costing very little indeed on your power bills if you have a new energy smart.. plus they go on sale at all the bigger stores at least twice a year.. They will give you flex.. and we need flex more then ever if we want to buy frugally in these every raising prices.

Next.. the family sized freezers.. if you have more then two people, if you garden, if you buy half a pig and a quarter of beef from the butcher to save more money.. then you are going to need to step it up and get a bigger freezer..

These can range from 3 to 5 times the size volume wise from the apartment freezer.. the average family size tends to end up in the basement.. the big family size tends to end up in the garage..

If you can have it end up in the basement.. the heat in winter will add to your room when the motor runs and the cool of the basement in summer will keep it from running more often.

These ones are little more hmmm..

One.. they can cost a good amount to buy new and if you get a old one.. it will last forever but it will suck back the power like its going out of style..  there is reason so many folks upgrade and offer the big old ones for free.. just haul it away.. ya and pay and pay on the power bills.

Two: watch out for food getting lost.. the bigger the freezer.. the more the odds are that you are going to have to stay on top of things or.. you will be eating from the top and wasting food in the bottom parts..  Nothing worse then finding two or three year old truly freezer burned (as in your money is burned away!) food..

They do not keep stats on it, but I think that wasted food out of freezers on a yearly base while not as high as wasted fresh food is still up there..

Then comes folks like myself.. a blend of newer, older, chest, and upright..  farmers, gardeners, meat producers and so forth.. we own a number of them.. do you sell farm gate meats? Needs its own freezer and its own placement ideally.

Do not even think about storing it in the same freezer as your own home grown/home processed meat freezer..

Got large crops coming in and have to time to process.. tomato’s, and so much more.. put it in the freezer till the heat comes down.. till the more time is there..  We turn our freezers on and off as required..

I currently have one large upright freezer, its a meat freezer overall.. and I have one large chest freezer.. its a meat freezer and then its a catch all freezer as the needs flex and flow..

Then I have two med freezers.. one fruit, one veggie

Its the first day of summer today!

Somehow its fitting that we are doing a stock count.. we turned on one of the smaller freezer and we have emptied the bigger chest and the upright and turned them off to thaw out and get cleaned out.

I have to admit that I only do this once a year.. maybe others do it more.. but I do it when my food counts are at their lowest.. this is spring.. when we are using up the last of the fruits and veggies before the new harvests come in.. when we eating up the older meats or canning them up to make way for the summer and fall butcher times.

I would do it more if it was really needed but I know a friend who does it 4x a year and I just do not do it that often.. What about you? how often do you go though your freezers, that is in general about once a month for me.. and a big sort about every couple months but take it all out.. turn it off and clean it.. ya.. once a year!

How many freezers do you have? What is your favorite way to use them to be frugal?

 

Posted in Food Storage | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Rhubarb Fruit Blends – Canning 2019

The biggest rhubarb crop is coming off and I am certainly noticing the difference in the cool wet spring and the fact that I did not feed my rhubarb plants last year. I will give them some extra feedings but I can’t add compost at this point to them.

 None the less two huge massive bowls came in stuffed full and when all prepped out.. they filled both of the jumbo fridge smarts (these are big enough that they replace my crisper drawers in the fridge) plus one large regular fridge smarts.

So as the next years crops are all up and coming.. its time to get the last of the frozen fruits that had not been eaten in the fruit/veggie freezer out and used.

We are doing 5 batches of different kinds of Mixed Rhubarb fruits.  Different fruits cook down at different rates.. but on average each batch makes 8 to 10 pints.

We have Rhubarb-Raspberry Blend.

We have Rhubarb-Strawberry Blend (the favorite for a lot of folks)

We have Rhubarb-Mixed fruit blend (using up all my mixed bag sizes of these.. Strawberry, Raspberry, Blueberry and Cherry

We have Rhubarb- Blue Berry Blend

We have Rhubarb-Strawberry-Blueberry- Ginger Blend.

What I love about the using the rhubarb as the filler is that it makes up 60 to 70 percent of the jar, its such a productive plant and it sure makes the smaller fruits go a lot further in the jars that’s for sure.

Felt good to put up 44 pints worth of fruit.. that’s 88 sides of fruit for hubby’s lunch.. 🙂 I need to put up for approx. 225 working days (thankfully he has his one teli-work day a week)

As I wanted to save just a touch more per jar.. we canned the fruit this year into the quart jars and hubby will transfer his daily portion to take to work.. this saves us the cost of the extra pints lids by half..

Other then the rhubarb-raspberry blend which takes more sugar, I was able to cut down on the sugar needed to preserve the fruits. Still enough of course to be safe but its lightly sweetened.

Only 137 days worth of work fruit put up to go! LOL

It feels great to be canning but at the same time, I am finding myself needing more breaks then normal and some of the lifting things are really pushing me.. so I am finding work arounds.. in some cases that means asking hubby to lift things up on the stove and remove it off the stove before or act work if he is not home..

in other cases it means me moving things in a smaller pot to empty the bigger pots till I can lift them..  but man I have to tell you.. I don’t think I ever realized just how much my bigger pots weight until I was hurt..

I am using my anti-slip and stress mats on the floor to give a helping hand there..   There will be at least another rhubarb harvest or two yet and I still need to split one and move both parts into the new garden area and make a detailed post on it. (I have not forgotten that, I just have not done it yet as the area they are being moved to is not prepared yet)

Still getting the hang of Instagram.. but if you want to see more photos or in this case a photo of each of the fruit blends.. feel free to pop on over and check them out..

https://www.instagram.com/farmgal1800

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Pineapple Tidbits Canning 2019

If you get your flyers.. check them over well and watch for SALES!

In this case Large Pineapples were on sale for 1 dollar each..  now I will admit that normally they are extra large for 1 and that I get one and half pints per pineapple.

This year they were listed as large and I only got one very stuffed full pint per pineapple canned up.  However I also changed things up a touch this year and hot packed instead of cold packed.. which meant I also got 4 quarts of pineapple juice for fresh summer drinking at 50 juice to 50 percent water.

As I really do not want to waste anything.. the cores were saved, cut up into pieces and then put into the grinder and then into the dryer..  They gave me a stuffed full pint of dried pineapple bits that are perfect to be mixed into homemade tea blends to add that hit of fruit to the tea’s late in winter.

The tops and the skins where given to laying chickens to give them some fresh things to play with in their pen but most of them went to the sheep.. which love their pineapple skins and this wonderful as fresh pineapple is considered by many to be a very mind wormer..

Now I am not sure any of them eat enough to have this effect as the whole flock of adults each enjoyed their candy while the lambs all looked a little shell shocked.. with a WHAT IS THIS! lol

Still even if it helped on the worming even a touch.. wonderful indeed.

As I had not been doing much canning due to my back, I didn’t buy my normal 48 which normally gives me 60 pints for the year..  but I did much better then I expected and I will watch for more sales and ideally get more of them put up..

I used the mega Tupperware fridge smarts to hold the pineapple between me getting it ready and me canning it and it worked perfectly!  I had a few days between and no loss in quality at all.. where if I can it sitting at room temp.. they would have over ripened.

When the jumbo come back on sale again, I am going to pick up another two to go with the two I already have.  Right now they are both full of prepped rhubarb in the fridge waiting for me to make and can mixed fruit blends to put into the pantry.

There is a big sale on the fridge smarts this week.. ends in like three days.. the set of 4 are 55% percent off..  Find someone local who sell it and get a set or two.. it will save you money in the long run if you use them!  If you can’t find anyone local.. throw me your email in a comment here and I will hook you up on this sale! (I will not publish your comment, just use the email to get back in touch with you..)

 

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Gal in the Garden -Corn Garden “roughing it”

So what is a gal going to do when she really NEEDS to plant out a extra corn garden of 240’s seeds but she is out of already prepared and planned garden space??

Follow the high hoe tracks from last fall and use that semi cleared area and finish clearing the planting rows.. and work on the rest as we go!

I love seeing finished stunning garden beds as much as the next person. I like to see fully bedded down rows.. but lets get real..

Its not always that easy.. sometimes we need to break new ground.. Sometimes we need more planting ground now and when its all done by hand.. We need to get creative.

Now there are few issues with this garden that I should talk about right off..

First this area is normally a golden rod patch and they are going to come back with gusto! I mean.. crazy like.. do I will be doing a lot of standing over the patches and re-working that ground big time until the corn gets to high for me to do it and then we cross our fingers and going to have to let it go.. Having said that.. we are going to drop tin sheet down each side of the garden to help hold back the wild on each side of the garden as well as create a heat sink for the corn on this very cool summer so far.. if it really heats up.. we will remove them if needed at a later point.

Second, this ground is NOT rich enough at all for corn and its not been properly prepped at all! so after the corn is up.. we will side dress each row with some compost to add a little bit that way but the bigger push will have to be done with the waterings. I will need to be more proactive on making compost tea’s and using them on this new garden.

Third, we are really late getting this corn in.. its just fact.. if we get a hard sharp frost early in the fall.. we honestly could have a problem.. however, I am going to cross my fingers and toes and hope for a normal frost timing in which case we will be good.

Here is hoping! If you don’t make it.. you will not be able plant it

If you don’t plant it.. there no chance of crops

Take the risk’s if you want the chance of the rewards..

Posted in Gal in the Garden Series, Garden, Life moves on daily | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment