Monday 28 September 2015

Garden Explosion

Garden Explosion

The garden continues to produce at an exceptional rate.  The heritage tomatoes I purchased this year have stalks that must be twelve feet long.  I have canned crushed tomatoes and a pureed tomato variant.  I have also roasted up the smaller tomatoes with the added tastiness of onions, peppers, garlic and herbs, pureeing the result into a sauce that went into the freezer.  Whole and perfect tomatoes get washed and frozen in plastic bags.  I have made several batches of chili sauce.  Many of this year's tomatoes are a small variety, which is ridiculous to peel.

The tomatoes overwhelmed the cabbage.  I had never grown cabbage before but that which was not overtaken by the jack-in-the-beanstalk-like tomato plants have been quite yummy.

I planted more beans this year and there have been tons.  I have frozen about two milk crates of beans, likely more.  I had never grown turnip before either and they were very very successful.  They were early.  I put some in the basement only to find them shrivelled up a few weeks later.  Of the later ones, many were too far gone but I still managed to get a bucket full and spent several hours freezing them yesterday.

As usual the zucchini have been incredible.  We didn't eat all of last year's relish so I have not made any this year.  Most of the zucchini has been chopped and frozen for later use in loaf, muffins, and dog food.

I have dug up a few potatoes but there are many more to be had.  As well, we have had meals with carrots and beets, but there remain more in the garden.

The broccoli and cauliflower were not that great.  I may not bother another year.  Peas are a lot of work for a small amount.  The white beans look good but we'll see how many I actually get.  I planted melon for the first time and we ate one small one yesterday.  Perhaps they were overtaken by the squash.

I planted a few more butternut squash this year.  Just a few.  Daughter and I recently harvested two wheelbarrow loads. She had fun getting dirty with Mom one afternoon.

Sister's Potager Garden has amounted to heaps of herbs.  I have frozen some chopped basil mixed with olive oil.  I recently picked rosemary and sage and have these drying.  The parsley has been most enjoyable fresh.  There has also been spinach, lettuce and arugula.  Somewhere in that garden I planted sweet potatoes.  I have not yet dug up any but there are green plants growing from the shoots I put in.  And the peppers have also done well, as has the chard.

The hens visit this garden late each afternoon.  They scurry around, scratching everywhere for whatever tasty bugs and worms they can find.  Oh, and it has become a common resting spot for a big white dog or two....


The wild barn kitty we re-homed here through a rescue organisation is still here.  We don't see her much at all.  I saw a flying fluffy tail a few weeks ago.  Well before that I did manage these photos one morning.

She was enjoying the morning sunshine.  Her colouring really is quite beautiful.  Beau keeps hunting around her hiding spot.  Humphrey visits too and one evening Beau chased him from this shed all the way to the barn.  I have no worries about Humphrey or Marjie holding their own with Beau.  I may be worried about Beau-dog though.....

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Oz Work

He's a busy orange tractor, is Oz.  I want to tell you about the forks.  But I don't have a photo.  In looking for one I found the 'poster' above and was intrigued to learn that there are so many different types of forks.

I digress...  This is about Oz's forks.

Here is a cousin of Oz's applying forks to a round bale.  Oz's forks have allowed us to purchase this type of larger bale this year.  The dairy farmer from whom we purchase hay and straw has baled these in large rectangular bales.  Instead of ten small bales 'man-handled' from field to wagon to barn to wagon to our barn, Oz lifts one big bale.  So, when the dairyman brought the wagon of hay I took my time and learned how to manoeuvre and manage the forks. 

I have been busy with Oz and the front end loader cleaning the manure out of the barn.  I took my time.  I learned how to dig the bucket edge down and drag backwards to loosen up the manure from against the wall.  I can move the bucket forward across the floor, 'floating' just above the ground and scrape what's in the path.  And then there is pushing into a depth of manure and lifting and tipping the bucket at the same time to wiggle and jiggle as much as possible into the bucket.  This of course is all much faster than digging out the barn by hand with a fork - another kind of fork - and a wheelbarrow.

By the time then I got to the fork work with the bales it almost seemed easy.  One big advantage is visibility; that is, you can see so much more with forks than with the bucket.  I got a few pointers from the dairyman and he said to take my time and get used to it.  Hubby appeared shortly and the two of them chatted while Oz and I did the work.  Part way through the dairyman said, "Isn't that easy?  You just moved ten bales in a very few minutes.  And, your arms don't hurt!"  I agreed.  "And"  he went on, "It's less work for me" as he continued to watch me unload his wagon.

He had gotten stuck on the sideroad on the way over and now he was spinning his wheels here at the barn.  I had to push him.  He gave me some direction.  I pressed the fork frame against the back beam on the trailer floor.  I pressed harder and it budged then moved forward.  He was then able to move the trailer so I could unload the other side. 

There is a bit more manure in the barn, around the edges and it has to get picked out by hand.  One big bale of straw was delivered and I unloaded that right into the barn.  The sheep - and the Maremmas - have enjoyed lolly-gagging in the piled bedding.

Hubby asked me where I wanted the manure and I said next to the veggie garden.  The idea is that there is concrete rubble underground here and the rototiller is not a good option.  So, by adding bulk and building up I plan to make a raised bed in which to plant more permanent items such as asparagus.

"How much?" he asked.  "All of it" I replied.  Although it seemed a lot at the time and a lot in the piles created outside the barn, spread out on the ground, there really was not that much manure.  Hubby had it moved in very short order.  A project that would have taken days and a lot of sweat was done in a few hours.

Ruby and Beau mucking in the muck that Hubby and Oz moved next to the veggie garden.

Oz does an amazing amount of work for us.  We are learning just how much he can do for us.  And forks!  Who knew there were so many variations - !