First off, I have found out that working a full 40 work week, keeping up with the homestead, and trying to take care of myself by exercising, and eating right, finding time for my family....well there's only 24 hours in the day and my blogging amongst other things took the hit.
I realized how much I missed the simple act of writing out my thoughts, sharing pictures, ideas, success' and failures. I missed the community. So I am now going to take the time to blog again. I can't hope for a daily blog, but like my foray into the world of CrossFit, I will take it slow. Two to Three times a week, and will try to work up from there.
So, as we head into Fall, the Harvest is over, and I can report it was a busy Harvest season:
Herbs - We were able to dry enough Oregano, Basil, Sage, and Thyme for the next year's use. We got some Chives, Parsley, and Stevia drying enough probably for the winter, but no further. Fresh Chives, Parsley, Tarragon, Marjoram and Sage are being used now, and will be allowed to grow for the next year. Borage, Cilantro, and Cumin going to Seed, and will be used for further growth next spring. The Lavender was harvested for oil, and the mint needless to say was more than we needed. Lemon Balm is ready for harvest, and will be used for sore muscles.
Salsa - well production this year was prodigious! We had Tomatoes, Peppers (Jalepeno, Serrano, and Red Chili), and Shallots and Onions. Not pictured are the Cucumbers. In all, we made 30+ Pints of Salsa more than enough for the family throughout the upcoming year!) I credit this to the wonderful Summer we had here on the Coast. We had a long string of 80+ degree days with mellow nights.
Pumpkins - We got 10 - 12 good sized Small Sugar Pumpkins and were able to roast and puree and freeze for soups, and yes pies throughout the year. I even tried my hand at Pumpkin Butter. After much research, I found that now it is not recommended for canning. Though I know that my Grandma and her friends all Canned Pumpkin and Apple Butter safely, and so gave it a try. I Shan't share how I did it, as I don't want to run afoul of the law...but needless to say I made sure everything was heavily sanitized, and made sure my products were of the highest quality and clean. We have been eating the first jar (4 oz) and it came out wonderful. The other 3 have been in the Canning Cupboard, so far no explosions, we will see when we open those.
Swiss Chard and Kale - This has been fantastic as a cut and come again, and we have been using it as sides, soups, stews so far and it looks like it is holding up well. I have read that it will hold up through the first frost when it will go super sweet, looking forward for that.
Berries - Raspberries, Blueberries and Strawberries Oh My! Prolific harvest this year, and still pulling Raspberries even at this late date!
Of course these little gems didn't last much after the photo...but boy were they Yummy! In the end we froze up Strawberries, and Blueberries for throughout the year, The Raspberries, being a Favorite, don't make it into the house.
As for the Chickens:
New addition this year number two, a watering system. The girls took to the nipples right away, only had to show them once or twice, and the bucket holds enough water that I only have to fill it weekly, and they don't spill anymore! It was pretty simple, and I re-used old PVC pipe from other projects!
As for the chickens, I know this isn't something everyone does, but this is a working homestead. And while I name my chickens, they are livestock, not pets. Soon, they will have a bad 5 minutes to end their wonderful 2 1/2 years of life. I don't do this lightly. I took on this project so that my daughter would know where her food came from. And that meat doesn't come naturally covered in plastic wrap on a styrofoam tray. She Took part in the first butchering of our rooster a year ago, and has learned more about our food system than any other "City or Suburban" Girl I know. She has decided now to major in Nutrition and is studying in the University! Success!
I plan to clean the coop thouroughly when the butchering is done, and next March when new chicks are available, I will get 6 chickens and start the process again.
As for the bunnies, that is my Wife and Daughter's project.
My daughter is cutting the nails on our male Holland Lop Snowball. We have a female Sunshine (not pictured) and my daughter is planning to mate them. Next project is a new hutch to acomodate 4 cages, two for the existing bunnies, and two for the babies (have to separate boys from girls as they will breed like rabbits don't you know.
So, still left to do...harvest potatoes, butter nut squash, last of the tomatoes, spinach, kale, chard, raspberries, oh and play with the new greenhouse:
Built this potting bench from discarded Pallets!
Red Chili's this is the last of the season.
Serrano's; Mason Bee's pollinated, then I dug them up and transplanted into pots, and moved them into the greenhouse, I now have 10 or so Serrano's growing nicely!
Stevia, it's been chopped and put in the greenhouse to overwinter. The rest is drying in the garage to powder and use this winter.
Orange Bell pepers, don't think they'll go orange, but I like them green as well.
Jalepeno's doing very well.
Basil, these were smaller in the garden, wouldn't have had a chance with the weather turning but seem to be thriving in the greenhouse!
Well, that's just about it for the wrap-up from the homestead. I will try to update a couple of times a week throughout the winter, as I have more projects on tap that I hope to get accomplished prior to Spring.
It feels good to be back...