PLOWSHARE THURSDAY 9-28-17 – extra eyes.

There are several things I wanted to share today, but my best bet became “an extra pair of eyes.”

This is not really something you can buy through Amazon, but some days I wish I could.  There are a number of times, during any given year on a farm, where some extra set of eyes would come in handy.

We do a large amount of bartering with a variety of friends and family.  We were lucky in the fact that our in-ground planting in the greenhouse provided us with a ton of food.  This year it was needed more than ever as it is the first time since we bought the farm that we are without fresh farm eggs.  Fricken coyotes and foxes picked them all off (even my beloved turkey) in one afternoon.  Brazen jerks did it in broad daylight too.

Whiskey 4-20-16Some days you just cannot make sense of something that happens, this was one of those occasions. We took major precautions over the last several years to upgrade our poultry pens.  We taught them all to go into the barns at night where they were closed up tight.  We added a 360-chicken wire, attached enclosure for them to wander in and out of at will.  The only thing we did not consider was human intervention.

Xcel Energy and W.A.P.A have access through our property to get to their overhead power lines.  Both have been down in the lower neighbor’s field making all kinds of racket changing out poles and lines.  The best part of this is that they had managed to scare off all the wild critters that were hanging out in the swamps – including foxes and coyotes.

Roughly three years now we have not heard a yip or howl from either of the two groups to our joy.  This turned out to be a curse.  Yes, it was great we did not have to worry about them attacking our critters, but we became complacent.  I would open the doors up and let the critters roam all over the farm because I believed their predators to be gone.  Oh stupid me!

Once nice summer day with none of the worker crews around, and our whole flock (except the two chickens that hung in the cat barn) was taken out by the monsters.  It took no more than an hour for the chickens.  The turkey was nabbed by a coyote later that same afternoon. (He was carried off, and he was huge!)

So my share today is to get more eyes on your property.  Friends or neighbors driving by.  Neighbors close enough to notice strange movement.  We are even thinking about installing motion sensors with cameras in all of our hard-to-see areas. 

We have been able to exchange fresh fruits and veggies, canned goods, and homemade goodies for eggs and the like.  The pantry is not looking too bad, but I still feel totally bummed about our loss, and missing the wobbly birds that would come running when I called them.

 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Please also check me out on: https://wordpress.com/post/lifelessonslived.com  for things I have lived through in my life.

Advertisements

WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?

Just when I thought there were very few things left in the food processing world that would surprise me, this happened:

LEFT RED RIGHT YELLOW SAUCES(yes, these are two completely different types of tomato sauces, sort of.)

Now don’t be fooled. The one on the right is NOT our normal pasta sauce. The one on the left is.
We began using several varieties of heirloom tomatoes years ago. The mixture of flavors was such an outstanding taste we just kept doing it. Well, now we have some friends and family members that cannot do the normal red sauce anymore. The higher acidity of the red tomatoes does not sit well with their digestion. This year we decided to try something to help them enjoy pizza and pasta again.
PRESENTING: ALL YELLOW TOMATO, FROM SCRATCH, HOMEMADE PASTA SAUCE (which just so happens to also be perfect for pizzas or a dipping sauce for bread, cheese, and veggie sticks.).
Our older sister’s husband happens to be one of the people that cannot do the reds. We gave them a ton of our yellows when they came to visit a few weeks ago. She decided to try to make her own sauce for them to use. She called me and said that it turned red – what? This threw me for a loop, as I had always just assumed that using all yellow tomatoes only would produce a yellow sauce.
I forgot to ask if she used any red tomato paste in her sauce. Well, my Co-Farming sister and I decided to give it a shot. We gathered a ton of our yellow tomatoes (note: this is a mix of several heirloom varieties, and we do NOT use chemicals on any of our foods), and started up a batch. Now, this is where it freaks me out:
LD 7
You can see that we have separated the beauties into three groups:
• All red heirlooms
• All yellow heirlooms
• The back bag is a mix of tomatoes with two varieties of Roma’s for tomato paste
We took yellow only and put them through the food strainer to pull out the skins and seeds. When that was done we put it all in the same canning pot we used for the reds:
yell tom b 4 cooking
Then add the same spices as the red mix, we started to heat it all up. You can see it IS yellow when we started.
Here’s where it gets weird – step 2, starting to boil:
yell tom start to boil
Was it turning orange while boiling?
Step 3 – done cooking and ready to jar it up:

yell tom ready to can up
WHAT THE HECK? WHERE DID OUR BEAUTIFUL YELLOW GO?

I have never claimed to understand Mother Nature in the least. However, this was just crazy. We did not use any reds anywhere in the process, yet the sauce turned out deep orange. Here are the two jars now side-by-side:
LEFT RED RIGHT YELLOW SAUCES
Left is our classic Red Sauce, the right is our new Yellow (or Orange) Sauce.
We decided to force ourselves to do a taste test – just to make sure it was all ok to eat and share. Well, the darnedest thing was discovered, the classic mix of all the heirlooms was a bit sweeter than the yellow only.
That part I can kind of understand. I love eating all tomatoes fresh off the vine. I have found that I appreciate the taste and texture of the darker tomatoes much better than the lighter ones (God forbid I have to give any of them up – eeek!). The Black Krim or Cherokee Purple are two of my most favorites.
The yellows have a much milder taste and seem to have more meat in them like a Roma. They are great on sandwiches since they hold together so well. But when it came down to just eating them, the dark ones are my winners.
I guess this was sort of a surprise to me because I based my original thinking on the smaller “snacking” tomato varieties. I have always loved the small yellow tomato much better than the red cherries. I do enjoy the smaller red variety labeled the “grape” tomato. But my very favorite small snacking tomato is the orange – which, unfortunately, is hard to find.
So my bit to share today is don’t freak out when your yellow tomatoes cook up orange, they are still perfectly yummy.

variety of tomatoes

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Please also check me out on: https://wordpress.com/post/lifelessonslived.com for things I have learned in life.

ANYTHING BUT A DAY OFF

Labor Day (click for more info) here in the U.S. was established to honor the contributions that workers have made. The normal procedure for this is to get the first Monday in September off as a Holiday. Well, if you are a farmer (very laborious – is that a word?), or if you grow your own food in a garden; then this time of year is anything but a day off.
This is what it was for our household this Labor Day:
• Processing a HUGE box of naturally grown plums received from good friends:


• Making homemade tomato paste from our tomatoes to then…
Labor day 1
• Freezing currently picked tomatoes to process later into our special spaghetti sauce from our secret recipe. (Which is actually just using a variety of heirloom tomatoes to get that outstanding flavor – I believe- my sister begs to differ).
LD 7
• Beginning fall clean-up time:

  • Clean up dead plant materials (especially from the current growing stuff which, in-turn, will result in more food to be processed – – – never ending!).
  • Start prepping for winter by shearing up fences, mending posts, painting for weather proofing, and clean up gardening tools.
  • Fix as many repairs as possible before the first snow. (One big one right now is a hole in our chicken roof. The wind sucked off a chunk of sheet metal, and apparently, that spot did not have ply board under it – was this way when we bought the farm? So we have this roughly 2’x2’ hole we have to fix.)
  • This year’s garden tool processing includes sharpening blades (we do cheat here and have a handy-dandy electric grinder/sharpener for this), and paint handles. This year we are going to try a coat of poly over the paint to see if they will hold up better. The smaller hand tools are going to get dipped! We found some rubber dip at the local hardware store that works fantastic for this!
  • If we have low to no wind sometime this weekend, we will be burning a huge pile of dried weeds that have accumulated over the summer.
  • Got to get out big Mr. Green (name of my lawn tractor – LOL), and give the whole place a really good once-over. Some spots were neglected when the weather was too hot. They are now coming back around, and I need to get them under control before they get too big to handle.
  • We have a large pile of weed barrier cloth that we got free from my sister’s work. It needs to be de-weeded, cut into usable pieces, (which uses up a ton of box-cutter knife blades. Dulls them down to nothing in just a few good cuts!), and placed in appropriately needed places:
    • Under the greenhouse fan vents where weeds build up too fast, and I can’t get in to mow.
    • Walkway row covers. (That is another yet to-do project that we want to get a jump on before next spring.)
    • Then just adding an extra layer to spots in the greenhouse where some persistent bindweed keeps sneaking in.

There is a lot more detail to our actual to-do list, but I didn’t want to scare off any potential farmer/gardeners.
So, I hope you all had a Happy Holiday Weekend. We will just keep on working.