Friday, June 23, 2017

WE CAN'T WE JUST CAN'T FRIDAY FUNNY

Canned Haggis
We will admit, with apologies to our friends across the pond, that Haggis is one of those things we are pretty sure we would never want to try.  

And then we saw these at the grocery store the other day...CANNED Haggis.  In beef AND in lamb.  

Offal in a can?

Nope, we still can't, just can't do it. 

Any haggis fans out there? 


Thursday, June 22, 2017

BIRD FEEDING STATION INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Every Thursday we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm.  
Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

Bird Feeding Station, image courtesy of Better Homes and Garden, BHG.com
We've been thinking of future fun projects and one thing we'd like to do is make sure we take care of the wildlife at the farm.  What came up was thinking of a place to feed the birds.  After some Googling, we found that "bird feeding stations" are a thing.  This style intrigued us the most.  

We're guessing the bottom is for overflow/spillage?  Of course in this picture, the squirrels are loving that part of it.  It's a fun idea, something that doesn't seem all that complicated to pull off and it helps the birds.  We're OK with all of that.  

Be inspired!


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

MICROWAVE BREAD AND BUTTER PICKLES

One of our new favorite ways of making Bread and Butter pickles.  The microwave!  And this recipe comes to us courtesy of sweet Texas Rose, a frequent commenter.   

Here is the end result, yummy!


Now these aren't "canned" but if we're being honest, they don't last long enough to worry about that, ha.  You just keep them in the fridge and use like any other pickle. For the batch above, we used this glass bowl with lid but the next batch (bottom of this post) was in a canning jar (again, NOT canned, these are not shelf stable, just easier in a jar).  

Bread and Butter Microwave pickle ingredients
Here are the ingredients.  Cucumbers, sugar, vinegar, onion, celery seed, salt, turmeric and mustard seed. That's it!!  Recipe is at the bottom of this post.


Slice the cucumbers (we like them thick but you can make them thinner).  Cut up the onion and then add all remaining ingredients to microwave safe bowl. 
Stir to combine.

Bread and Butter pickles in the microwave
Cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for about 10 minutes, stopping every 3 minutes or so to stir.  Be careful when pulling back the plastic wrap, they are hot!


After the first three minutes, stir.


After six minutes, stir again.


Finally, the last three or four minutes stir and remove to counter to cool.  You can see how they change from the beginning.

Microwave Bread and Butter pickles
Once cool, put in a jar or container and refrigerate. In the interest of full disclosure, this jar WAS full but I took the picture after we had eaten half, LOL!

MICROWAVE BREAD AND BUTTER PICKLES INGREDIENTS:

2 Cups sliced cucumbers (about 4 large)
1 medium onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 tsp mustard seed
1/4 tsp celery seed
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar

Mix all together, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for 10 minutes, stopping to stir about every 3 minutes or so.  Put into a container, allow to cool and refrigerate.  You can enjoy them right away but after a couple of days in the fridge, they are SO good.  Crunchy with a great sweet sour flavor.  Enjoy!




EDIT TO ADD THIS DESCRIPTION:

WHAT ARE BREAD AND BUTTER PICKLES?

Bread and Butter pickles are a combination of sweet and vinegary pickles.  Some might consider anything other than sour/dill to be a sacrilege to the history of the beloved pickle but these sure are good.  

So where did the name come from?  

There are two stories:

The first story involves cucumber farming family during the Great Depression that created these sweet and sour pickle slices with a surplus of cucumbers. They traded them to their grocer in exchange for some of the basics, "bread" and "butter", the name stuck and here we are.

The second story also comes from the Great Depression.  Times were tough, there wasn't a lot of food around, certainly meat, but cucumbers were easy to grow (we understand).  Someone came up with these sweet and sour pickle slices and when they were eaten on a slice of buttered, brown bread, it actually made for a substantial and filling meal.

SO, I guess the true story may be lost to history...which one do YOU like?  

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

HOSE REEL HIDEAWAY FLOWERBED

A few weeks ago, I was sharing pictures of the work I was doing on the front flower beds.  One part I couldn't finish until I got the the right part, was the water hose area.  

Suncast hosereel
And this is the key part we were waiting for.  One of those "hose reel hideaways". We found ours are Home Depot but they also have them here:


This one was chosen for a few reasons. It was the largest one we could get that would fit in the spot perfectly (had to worry about front to back depth).

Suncast Hosereel Hideaway
It rotates both directions on the base (there are stakes to hold it to the ground) so that you can point it in the direction that your hose needs to go, which of course helps it come out much easier and keeps you from pulling it over as you pull out more hose or even raking it across your plants.  


It's also very large, holding up to 225' of hose!  I think we only have 100' on there currently so it might be time for a longer hose (or to add on I suppose).  This particular model has a feature called "smart track hose guide" which you can kind of see above.  The end of the hose goes through this guide which then moves back and forth as you reel it in, keeping the hose evenly distributed on the spindle. Pretty ingenious actually.  

My parents had one years ago that didn't have that feature and you had to make sure the hose was even as you rolled it up or you had to unroll and start over.  This feature is brilliant.  We can roll up 100 feet of hose in about 15 seconds. 


So we've gone from this messy area...


...to this neat and clean area!  

I put down the weedblock fabric and filled it with gravel so it's deep and covered.  There is a two outlet manifold, one has the connection to the garden hose (the green oval thing is the automatic timer for the garden watering) and the other outlet is for the hose reel box.  Actually now we need three outlet manifold for the backyard hose but we'll get that later.

It's just so much neater and cleaner and now that I've used it for a bit, I can unequivocally say that this is THE BEST thing we've purchased recently.  I can unroll as much as I need, water the flowerbeds along the front, all the plants on the porch, and it will even reach all the way around to both ends of the house for the future flowerbeds.  Then I just turn the handle and roll it back up neat and tidy!  The area still looks like the day I finished it over a month ago and it is used every single weekend.  If you have the need for one of these types of hose reels I would highly recommend them.

Sometimes it's the simple things in life!


Monday, June 19, 2017

GARDEN HARVEST, SNAKESKIN AND OTHER THINGS WEEKEND UPDATE

It was a good weekend, albeit VERY hot and VERY humid.  Ugh doesn't even begin to describe it, ha.


I was able to mow which is always my favorite thing to do, I put on my headphones and spend a couple hours mowing. It's so relaxing to me.  

But change is on the way, and not necessarily good.

And this is why:



There is a tropical disturbance (and another one right behind it!) in the Gulf of Mexico.  Earlier models had it going toward Mexico, now the "cone" of possible landfall locations is showing us in the middle as an almost direct hit.  Or either side of us, East or West.  We'll see.  If it's direct or West, we'll be on what is called the "dirty side" and have LOTS of rain later this week.  If it's East, we'll be on the "clean side" and have dry weather.

Dorsett Golden apple tree
Stopped on the way to the farm so I could look for some supplies and I happened upon this gorgeous Dorsett Golden apple tree. I pulled up one of the dead ones, changed out much of the soil, put new soil in and planted the tree.  So excited.  

For those who missed yesterday's post, CLICK HERE to see a before and after pic of this area.

Grow baby grow!


Snake skin
As I was watering the trees, I noticed this dangling out from under the house.  A freakin' snake skin!  I debated the merits of looking underneath but decided I needed to.  So I crawled under with a flashlight and, THANKFULLY, didn't see anything.

But the skin left behind was long...
Veeeery long...


I painted the other metal chair in the "Golden Sunset" color.  We love it!  For now they are both in the garden.  I forgot to get a closeup but you can kind of see them in this picture, ha.  They actually look pretty in the garden with the red veggie cages, but we have a place for them, coming soon. 

Harvest Monday
Speaking of veggies, here is some of the weekend haul. There are cucumbers under there and a few more off camera and another giant zucchini I left out of the photo as well.  

The zucchini plant looks like it is fading away.  Not sure if it's too hot or something got it but it's huge and falling over with no new growth and the leaves are fading. Not many being produced either. Since we tried yellow squash and zucchini in the same bed, it may be that planting the zucchini too close to the edge made the difference.  Next time maybe full on center planting and let it have the whole bed.

The cucumbers also seem to be slowing down, though if we could pick them daily, they might be producing even more.  But as it stands, we have plenty and have been very happy.

This tomato plant (Celebrity) since we only have one vine now, is doing great.  It gives us a few each week  and they are healthy and large so we will try more of those next season. We use them as fast as we get them so no canning of tomato sauce (from OUR garden tomatoes anyway) this season.

Our garden will be, for the next few growing years, an experiment in what varieties work best in our climate and observations on how big they get so we can decide where things need to be in the future and of course just whatever doesn't work at all.

So that was the hot weekend, all in all, things are going well (snakes excluded).   



Sunday, June 18, 2017

BACKYARD BEFORE AND AFTER

Periodically we like to see the results of our hard work in before and after photos and thought we'd share these.  I was looking through some old photos and found a great "before" photo and so I decided to stand in the same spot and get a new 'after'.  

Backyard before
Here is the backyard before.  

Those trees and shrubs and vines went almost all the way through to the other side.  There were a few open spots but I when I got the mower, I would start mowing a little wider each time, clearing more and more.  At times I would get out the shears and hacksaw and clear by hand as many of the vines as possible.  When we were finally left with just a few junk trees, we hired a guy to safely cut them down. 

For a while, it was just mud and dirt.  And tire ruts.  We decided I would just mow it over and over for a season (or two), sprinkled out some grass seed one early Spring and eventually the ruts filled in, the grass returned and it became a regular yard!

Backyard after
This is what it looks like now.  

That's why we decided this year that it was finally the right time to put in the fruit trees and here it is.  

2 Pear trees
2 Plum trees
2 Apple trees
2 Peach trees

They are doing great. I mentioned that we lost the two apple trees but we believe that was from the Winter, they just never came out of their dormancy. It's possible they didn't have enough water (my fault) and one was infested with ants in its black container.  One of them has already been replaced (update tomorrow).  The others are all growing nicely, so we're happy about that.  Reluctantly, I pinched off blooms so we can let them concentrate on root development.  

Patience grasshopper!


Also, we would be remiss if we didn't say Happy Father's Day to all of you out there who are fathers or to your own fathers.  We have lost both of ours, but they live on in everything we do to honor their memories!  

I'll catch up on comments tonight.  Hope your weekend went well!


Saturday, June 17, 2017

MY TWO FAVORITE MACHINES

Off to the farm on this HOT and humid day, ugh, to mow and see what all we can get done.  


Might stay inside and do some "inside the house" things as well.  Here is what will be used today, my car and my Zen Machine, my two favorite 4 wheeled machines.  Of course, going to stop off at Home Depot and pick up a few supplies.  

Hope your weekend is off to a great start!



Friday, June 16, 2017

ALASKAN BASKET, TRASH TO TREASURE FIND

Regular readers know that I have a new favorite place to look for bargains...our downstairs trash area!  Our building has trash chutes on every floor and they feed into a separate room, but for boxes and other things that people can't put in the chute, there is an area (indoor) near the loading dock, where people can put the things they don't want.  I've found several cool items so far.


And here is yet another free find.  Found this basket sitting on top of some boxes inside the dumpster.  Seriously!?!?  It's perfectly fine!


And really cool!
It's hinged on one side...


With these neat little beads tied on. 


On top is this face surrounded by fur.

Alaska basket
It's a nice large size basket.  We're guessing Alaskan based on some brief online checking.  As for it's purpose, while we don't know what the original purpose is, we're thinking of putting the feathers inside that we are finding at the farm.

Somehow, that seems appropriate. 

Anyone know anything about baskets like this?



Thursday, June 15, 2017

BENCH AROUND TREE INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Every Thursday we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm.  
Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

Tree Bench, image via Pinterest.com
We've always liked the these benches that go around trees.  Wouldn't it be a relaxing place to sit and rest in the shade?  We've got some new areas I'm clearing that will have some places that would be perfect for this.  We know they can be built, out of chairs and pallets and such, but realistically, I'm not sure if I have that in me.  It might be easier to find, perhaps anyway, an affordable one online, even if some assembly required, ha.  

Just such a nice space to sit, it lets more people sit without having to have a dozen chairs.  A place to enjoy the shade and a place to put items as well.  Veggies after harvest maybe?  A book and a glass of tea?  A blanket on a cool Autumn day?  

Be inspired!


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

FARM FRESH EGGS WITH BONUS PULLET EGGS

Farm fresh egg variety
2nd Family gave us a couple dozen more eggs from their hens.  They have more than they need.  We of course LOVE LOVE LOVE to have them as there is just no comparison to store bought.  Of course, it's a random variety of eggs from their random variety of new and older hens, ha.  In this batch though, we noticed the small, tiny eggs.  What the heck?  

We had to do some research on them.

Regular egg vs Pullet egg

Turns out, they are called "Pullet Eggs".  See the photo above, they are tiny when compared to a regular egg.  Almost a third smaller in size.  At first we thought "well those are just too cute" and didn't think much more about it.  

Pullet eggs
After some more research, it turns out that pullet eggs are A THING

Here is an article about them:

Pullet eggs are the first few eggs of a hens lifetime.  This makes them rare.  The flavor is more intense with the yolk being rich and velvety smooth.

Pullet eggs and ham
We fried some up (with slices of ham) and the flavor was amazing.  Like the richest egg you can imagine.  You can see on these over easy eggs, the yolk takes up more volume than the white.

We won't get these treats again as their new hens will begin laying regular (but wonderful) size eggs.  For a few brief meals, we had a rare treat!

Who knew?  
Have you heard of/eaten Pullet eggs?

Monday, June 12, 2017

HARVEST MONDAY HITS AND MISSES

 It was a pretty good weekend at the farm for harvesting.  


We got a lot more jalapeños, four eggplants, okra, and a few more tomatoes (harvested a couple of green ones to try some fried green tomatoes later this week).


More cucumbers of varying sizes (as usual) though the harvest seems to be slowing down.  Not sure how long the vines will keep producing but we've been enjoying them so far this season.


Here are zucchini (a few of the ones harvested).  One, perhaps two, got VERY large.  I showed 2nd Man and he goes "what the heck!  Is there a nuclear power plant nearby?", ha!

We have read that large zucchini are still OK to use, in fact they are good for shredding to use in baking.  Will have to read up on that before it goes bad.


As for the misses this weekend...Here is one of the garlic plants.  They are all about the same size.  I would chalk this up to a failure.  I'm not sure what the deal was.  Maybe not enough water?  I did read that you could water them until they sprouted and then not worry about them until Spring.  Maybe we just didn't have enough rainy days during the Winter?  I don't know but we'll try again this Fall (when you plant them) for next Spring.


And in other hit and miss news, here is the apple tree.  BOTH of them look like this.  Dead.  We had a Golden Dorsett and an Ein Shemer, both varieties best suited for our region.  The rest of the fruit trees are doing great.  Same soil (all raised beds of course) same watering, same conditions.  It's possible these two trees didn't make it from the Winter.  When I planted them, I thought they were still dormant just like the other trees but the others all leafed out and these two did not.

We're determined to have some apples, because they DO grow here, so I will remove these soon, change out the soil and try again.  Trees are on sale now at most nurseries and I think we will try the Dorsett again but switch to Anna, another variety that is good for our region.

You win some and you lose some but if at first you don't succeed, try, try again, right?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

SUNNY BUNNY AND FEATHERS, WEEKEND UPDATE

Today is scattered showers, glad for the watering but that only gave me one day outside.  I made the most of it though, edged a LOT (did the entire driveway fence line) and of course mowed.

Then I was in the garden working and harvesting veggies.  I was in the cucumber vine that is ginormous and was moving things around looking for hidden cukes...

Hidden Bunny
...then I saw something move! It startled me thinking it was a rat or something else, and then I saw it. See it there hiding under the vines and leaves?


It hopped out under the shade of the vines and there he was.  The most adorable little bunny!!

Baby bunny
It was SO cute!  Yes, we know rabbits and gardens don't mix.  I could have scooped him and relocated him elsewhere or at the least I could have run him off, but you know, I looked at that little fuzzy face, his adorable little white cottontail, and I just left him alone.  It's not like he couldn't just come right back in if he wanted to (between the fence pickets, I need to work on that next season).  So of course I harvested around him.  

More on harvest Monday update! 

Chicken and Alfredo pasta
For dinner it was an Alfredo pasta with chicken.  Pasta and chicken, two of my most favorite things.

Feathers in yard
And in the odd events category, TWO MORE feathers were laying in the yard upon arrival.  These are different than the last one.  I'm going to get a box and keep them, it seems the right thing to do.  

Hope you are having a great weekend!

Friday, June 9, 2017

CAT TELEVISION FELINE FRIDAY

It's an episode of CAT TV!
Starring Hobart (left) and Brisbane (right)!
\

This is when the dove showed up and was pecking around eating the seed we had put on the balcony.  You can see it scattered around.  Notice the cats positions. 


Here it is after she had eaten up most of it.  The cats had not even moved.  They were enthralled and focused...and apparently immobile!