Sunday, July 24, 2011

Heat Delusions and Ramblings

This post is going to ramble.

I believe I'm melting!  It is SO hot and humid.  I've been trying to take care of outside chores in the morning or late in the evening, but major projects are on hold for now.  This morning I walked across the street to pick some figs, and I have to outfit myself to keep the mosquitos at bay.  Long pants, shoes and socks, long-sleeved shirt and gloves.  Otherwise, they converge on me like white on rice.  My neighbor was home, and he helped me pick figs.  Bless his heart!  He had the ladder out and was up in the tree picking figs that I could only gawk at from below.  I've managed to can 14 pints of pickled figs, a favorite of my fellow book club members.  As a matter of fact, I decided to offer them for sale this year to the ladies, and I've received several orders so far.  I've been dehydrating them as well, and I have enough in the refrigerator to make a batch of fig preserves.  I hope to get those done tomorrow. 

Yesterday, I canned some vegetable relish and tomato salsa.  I've been pretty pleased with my tomatoes this year.  The Black Krims and the Cherokee Purples are my favorite.  They are beautiful when sliced and are so delicious.  I'm not harvesting enough quantity to really brag about, but if I save them for a few days, I can make a small batch of salsa or tomato sauce.  Last year, we really only got enough for fresh eating, so that fact that I am able to can some this year is progress.  They are getting so much more sun where they are this year compared to last.  It's my goal to take down more trees in my neighbor's yard again this fall/winter.  The increase in my tomato yield is proof that the trees we took down this past winter have made a difference in my yard.  I want to build on that, so I'll keep saving my pennies for that project.

The rabbits seem to be doing okay with the heat.  They are in deep shade with good air circulation, and I usually switch out their frozen bottles at least once a day so they have a source of cool when they need it.  My dream is to have a mini-barn with electricity where I can house all of the animals and be able to run fans in the summer for the rabbits.  Plus, I was just talking with Nate today about really wanting some meat rabbits.  We don't have any place to put them at the moment, so that goal is on hold for now.

Surprisingly, the chickens are still giving us 3-5 eggs a day.  We've talked to other local backyard chicken keepers, and their hens have pretty much stopped laying due to the heat.  We have some really hard working good girls.  They lay in the stifling heat of summer and the brutal cold of winter.

Despite my best efforts, the vine borers destroyed all of my squash plants, even the ones I planted late.  I finally just ripped them out of the ground and threw them away a few days ago.  It's almost August, and the the vines were still covered with eggs.  I've started doing some research for borer resistant varieties for next year.  I'm just sick about it!           

Feedback on recent comments:


Homesteading Chic: You really don't have to have alot of land to make a big impact. We've made it a policy not to plant anything in our yard that doesn't either produce something edible or provide forage for our honeybees. Even thought I rarely see the little buggers in my yard. They go elsewhere!

Leigh: You will notice the photos of the backyard are not close-ups, and I only showed you a portion of the yard. LOL! We've waited many years for such a peach harvest.

TGL: I sang that song the WHOLE time I was harvesting peaches. It was on a continuous loop through my brain!  Millions of peaches peaches for me, Millions of peaches peaches for free, Millions of peaches peaches for me, Millions of peaches peaches for free.

Warm Dirt: I'm sure you grow something on your farm that I can't grow in GA, so I would be envious of that.
That's it for now.
Happy homesteading,

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Pickin' and A Cannin' and A Backyard Garden Tour

Sounds like a song at a hoe down, doesn't it?  Well, it isn't.  I've been a pickin' and a cannin' peaches since my first peach post here.  That was two weeks ago, and I have been absolutely buried in peaches.  I'm only one person, and I work, so it has been a massive project for me to tackle.  I've had to manage my time and squeeze in bits and pieces of canning prep work and canning in addition to the chores of necessity, such as feeding me and my husband as well as taking care of the animals and trying to keep up with the garden.  My house is in severe disarray, and I don't even want to know what's going on in the bathroom.  But, the peach tree would hear no excuses.  It reminded me I have been praying for peaches year after year.  Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.  The squirrels were held at bay and the additional sunlight from taking trees down came together to give me 127 lbs., 12.5 ozs. of peaches from one tree.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I have processed almost 128 lbs of peaches in the past two weeks.  At the grocery store this weekend, organic peaches were selling for $4/lb.  What a return one tree has made to our budget!  Now, what did I do with all of those peaches you may ask?  In addition to fresh eating, this is how I tackled them:

Peach Chutney:  1 pint, This was an experiment with green peaches, and it is delicious.
Green Peach Cake:  This was also another experiment, and it turned out great as well.
Frozen diced peaches:  9 quarts
Peach Sauce (for pancakes, ice cream):  8 quarts + 1 pint
Peach Tomato Salsa:  4 quarts + 14 pints
Peach BBQ Sauce:  4 pints + 9 12 oz. jars + 1 jelly jar
Peach Cardamom Jam:  6 pints + 13 jelly jars

I really wanted to try out the peach peel and pit jelly, but I just didn't have it in me.  I am one tuckered girl.  But, there's no rest for the weary because the figs are coming in, so onward I go. 

Here's a photo of the peach tree as well as a few shots of the top portion of my backyard.  It's a constant work on progress to be sure.

Happy homesteading,



Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I Heart Mater Sammiches

Nate and I have been watching our first Pink Ponderosa tomato ripen on the vine for days now.  I finally picked it today.  It weighed 11 oz, a light-weight in the world of Pink Ponderosas, but it made one heck of a tomato sandwich.

I have always adored tomato sandwiches.  When I was in elementary school, I remember spending summer days at my best friend's house.  Her parents grew tomatoes, and when asked what I wanted to eat for lunch, my response was always a tomato sandwich.  To me, a tomato sandwich is bread, mayonnaise, sliced tomato, salt, and pepper.  Adding anything else is sacrilege. 

How do you eat your tomato sandwiches?  It's okay; you can tell me.  I won't pass judgment.

Happy homesteading,


Monday, July 4, 2011

Are You Ready To Can?

My canning season officially started today with none other than peaches.  Most of the peaches on the tree are still hard, and I am not 100% squirrel-free, contrary to my previous post, so it's really a race for the peaches between us and the squirrels.  So, after breakfast, Nate and I picked the peaches we felt were ripe enough for canning.  They really could have spent another day or two on the tree, but I'm not taking any chances with the tree rats.

(Disclaimer:  Sometimes I sub things in canning recipes.  That's a no-no since you can alter the acid content.  You can take inspiration, but don't necessarily do what I do.) 

I started with the Summer Salsa recipe in my Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving book.  It called for 2 cups of chopped peaches and 2 cups of chopped pears, but I used all peaches.  It was supposed to yield approximately 6 pints, but I got 4 pints exactly with none left over.  I used the wide mouth jars, and I think they hold more than the regular mouth jars so I know the yield is probably off in that regard. 

Next, I made some Peach Cardamom Jam.  It's basically the peach jam recipe found in the Sure Jell Less or No Sugar Needed pectin box with cardamom and vanilla extract added.  I didn't have an vanilla extract, so I used almond extract.  I love cardamom, and I think it turned out quite tasty.  Although it doesn't seem like it's setting up that well.  I seem to be hit or miss with the low sugar pectin.  Regardless, it will be eaten and savored.  We can certainly use it as pancake syrup or an ice cream topping.

I'm saving my peelings and pits to try this recipe.  Hopefully I'll accumulate enough to give it a go.

(There is a warning from a reviewer about using the pits as pits contain cyanide.  So, use your best judgment if you decide to try this recipe.)

If you haven't checked out, you should.  It's loaded with hundreds of canning recipes, and what I love is reading the reviews from other canners. 

I hope to harvest enough peaches every few days to can some additional salsa and jam, and I want to try the Zesty Peach Barbeque Sauce recipe in my canning book as well.

So, peaches, pumpkin, apple pie, if you're ready, holler I!

Happy canning,


Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Heartfelt Thanks

I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to a fellow blogger for her recognition of my ramblings on her blog.  This Good Life recently listed some of her favorite blogs for the moment, and The Weekened Homesteader was on her list.  I'm honored that I made the list!  You can read about it here:

I hope you will take a moment to visit her blog as she writes beautifully of spirituality, and while she is Jewish, she openly discusses and is tolerant of other religious philosophies.  I respect that and find there are many lessons to be learned from her blog.  Plus, I love her photography! 

To blogger solidarity,


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Waste Not, Want Not

We've lived in our house for over 8 years, and soon after moving in, we planted two peach trees.  One of the trees remains, and each year it produces peaches.  Yet, we never get any.  Even before the peaches ripen, the squirrels gleefully help themselves.  Not this year!  I am going to harvest peaches this year!

Did I ever tell you about the squirrel slayer?  He's our across-the-street neighbor.  He's the same neighbor who generously gives me access to his huge fig tree and who brought me boxes of bound-for-the-trash-can canning jars from a friend's basement.  He kills squirrels in his yard with a pellet gun because they eat the pears off his pear tree and the pecans off his pecan tree.  I know because of his efforts, I will get peaches this year. 

About a week ago, I moved my fake snakes from the blackberries canes to the peach tree.  I know they are helping because before I put them in the tree, we saw a squirrel run across the backyard with a peach.  Since placing the snakes, I haven't seen a squirrel with a peach at all.  I know because of my efforts, I will get peaches this year.

I also know I'm going to get peaches this year because I ate my first one this morning.  It wasn't quite as ripe as it could be, but it came off the limb when I squeezed it, so I ate it. 

The tree is covered with peaches, and it can't possibly ripen all of them, so in the last day or so, it has dropped probably about 15 green peaches on the ground.  I really hate to see them wasted, so I did some research on green peach recipes, and while I didn't really find anything great for green peaches, I did find some recipes for green mangos.  So, in the tradition of waste not, want not, I used the following recipe, but subbed green peaches for the mangos:

I also subbed some of my Chinese five color peppers for the jalapenos, and they gave this chutney quite a kick. 

So, if you have green peaches, waste not, want not, and give this recipe a try.  It cooked up beautifully and has a wonderful flavor. 

Happy homesteading,