What’s Growin’ In the Garden 4

Well folks, it truly is turning out to be a hot summer, isn’t it? Frank has long thought the unraveling of our society would come to pass about this time. The uncertainty of life affects us all in many different ways, even the earth is unsettled and behaving quite different. Gardens and pastures in these parts are not growing anything like they usually do. Some things do okay, not great, but okay. Other standard crops are barely growing or doing anything. I have found ONE squash bug this summer. ONE. By now they are normally here by the hundreds and the plants are dead. Instead, we have had many fewer yellow squash, but the plants are happy.

Today we pulled the beets and planted grocery store red potatoes. Yes, it’s very late to plant potatoes and it’s a toss up whether they will grow in the heat of the summer here. We weren’t going to grow any at all, but feel the need to grow more calories and nutrition.

Old beet patch, one new potato patch










More potatoes between the cabbage & sunflowers

                Here is a look at the rest of the garden.

Parsley in the front, carrots and yellow squash


Sweet potatoes on  stock panels are growing well.


Pinto beans, some are climbing and some are not….


Tomatoes are growing slowly with little production


Purple hull peas after 4 plantings


Okra, barely growing, and it’s mid June

Sunflowers for chicken feed


There are a number of cabbages that survived the worms.


Small pepper plants


Planted Thelma Sanders winter squash by wooden stakes today.


Apple with curculio infestation


I was very hopeful of a good fruit crop this year. Our young plums were loaded with fruit, but each had this little brown mark on it. Every plum dropped and now the apples are slowly joining in. I pick up half a dozen or so every other day as they fall and feed them to the chickens. I found a beneficial nematode that is supposed to help control curculio and applied them below the trees a month or so ago. My research indicates curculios may produce up to two generations per year, so I hope the nematodes are established enough to affect the second generation this summer. I don’t know if there will be any apples left to harvest or not, only time will tell.

Rather dismal outlook, isn’t it? It is definitely a strange growing season. As the COVID19 outbreak grew more serious, we decided to grow more food this year instead of less like we had planned. But the way the garden is performing, we don’t know how much food it will produce at all. If we were truly in dire straits and dependent upon this growing season for survival, it would be a very stressful situation indeed. Well. What if this is it? What if our life does depend upon this harvest?


Folks, we are in perilous times. Do everything in your power to have enough food for your family for the long term. It matters not if you grow one morsel, have food for your family. Do everything in your power to provide a safe environment for your loved ones. Between the virus, the economy, the riots, the anger and hatred, our country is a pressure cooker just waiting for the lid to blow. The tentacles of the enemy are long and well camouflaged. Distance is your friend.

Frank has been saying for many months that it is going to be a very hot summer. The summer is upon us with burning and death. There are a couple of videos at the end of this article that may give you pause. If nothing else, I hope they give you something to think about.

Food. You can’t have too much & without it you are dead.

Until next time – Fern



Our Normal Abnormal Life

In many ways, our life hasn’t changed much. We milk goats, make cheese, plant the garden, eat at home and don’t socialize. This is pretty normal for us. Now that I cannot visit my Mom in the nursing home except through the closed, glass door, which we did for the first time today, we seldom go anywhere. While we were in town today we went to the store. Frank stayed in the vehicle while I went in to get apples. I wore gloves and cleaned my hands with an alcohol soaked wash cloth when I was finished. I took note of some of the store shelves while I was in there. The produce section was fully stocked. There was very little pasta, no spaghetti sauce in jars or cans, and only a few cans of spaghetti-o kinds of foods. There were no dried beans or flour of any kind. Many of the canned vegetables were sparse. I didn’t go down any other isles, so that is my report for the grocery store today. It is a smaller, local grocery, not the Wal-Mart type.

A few weeks ago we stocked up on animal feed, filling every container we have to the brim. That will last us well into summer if not beyond. We stocked up on fresh apples and cabbage, too, but that’s about the only store bought items we wanted/needed. The new air lock version of making sauerkraut has taken a backseat to the fermenting crock again for now. Even though it will take us months to eat the full crock that is percolating away at the moment, that’s okay. It’s nice to know we have months of nutritious, probiotic kraut awaiting our dietary needs.

Most of our routines haven’t changed, so here is a pictorial of some of the things we’re doing during this normal/abnormal life. We’re still making cheese and sourdough bread, although we have started making tortillas out of most of the bread dough, just because we like them. We eat them fresh everyday with a little butter and salt. The dough freezes and stores well in the frig, so I can take out what I need for each day, let it come to room temperature on the cabinet, then cook them when we are ready to eat. If we do happen to experience a collapse, making small, daily batches of dough for fresh tortillas will be easier than trying to bake bread or rolls. Just a thought I have had when we transitioned to making daily tortillas.

Bread dough in the bowl, cheddar cheese in the stock pots

Some of the seedlings are now in the garden. If we get a frost, we’ll need to cover the tomatoes and squash. 

Seedlings hardening off from the greenhouse
Tomato seedlings

The large tomato that grew in the greenhouse over the winter.

Whey from cheese making to water in the tomato seedlings.

Tomato seedlings

Carrots
Yellow squash

It’s been very wet and muddy for about a month now.

This week we had record high temperatures in the 90’s. This weekend we will probably have a frost. It reminds me of the challenges farmers are having with the food supply and the issues with the solar minimum and how it affects weather extremes. The Ice Age Farmer is listed on our blog roll. He has some interesting things about the solar cycle and food supply. The pepper and beet seedlings will have to wait for the frost to pass to be planted.
 

Peppers
Beets on my planting wagon.


We thought a few more hoses were in order.


Frank used a garden hose to fill our storage tank from the water well by the greenhouse. We can use it for the garden or drinking water if necessary.

The world? Our country? Outside of the virus, the economy is on the verge of imploding. The effects of the virus don’t appear to be near as devastating as the hysteria and overreach of the government indicates it was ‘supposed’ to be. There is some underlying sinister plot in play that hasn’t raised it’s ugly head into the light of day yet. When it does, I don’t know if it will have the ugly head of a fire breathing dragon or the boot of the man upon our throats. It is difficult to find any clues or facts (how to know what is true or not is impossible anymore) that lead to any logical conclusions at all.

And then there are the ‘essential workers’ that have received their “papers” for safe travel to and from work. When I hear the term “Papers, please.” it makes me think of a World War with major restrictions and controls upon the activities of societies across the globe. We know a man that received his “papers” a few weeks ago indicating he works in an essential industry, then received a comment recently with the same scenario. Is there a time coming when all travel will be restricted without official “papers”?

Phone apps are being developed to track people that have been infected, are suspected of being infected, have been vaccinated (once it becomes available) or haven’t, and probably who is using all of that ‘dirty’ germ laden money. With many, many people staying home or drastically restricting their travel voluntarily due to fear, those that are out and about will be easier to track. Why is this really desirable? I don’t really think it has anything to do with a disease.

So, we will continue to stay home, order a few things online to be delivered and continue our normal/abnormal life. There are times when the vision of what we see coming down the road is almost paralyzing. Other times, we continue our daily routine, just like any other spring, only with the feeling we need to keep an eye out over our shoulder for that sinister overshadowing that creeps ever closer. We used to say the storm is coming, get prepared. Now? The storm is here and it’s too late.

We would really like to hear what you think and what is happening in your area. When it rains, it rains on all of us. We are all in this together. Speak up now while you still can. You never know when something you say may help another.

Until next time – Fern
 

Without Food, You Are Dead

Everyone needs to read the opening dialogue from Ol’ Remus at the Woodpile Report this week. He’s right. Food is a Weapon that can, has been and will be used against you. There is a reason Bison Prepper is always writing about food first, wheat, calories, wheat, wheat, wheat. Without food, you are dead. End of story. Not to mention the disease and debilitation that comes from malnutrition and starvation. 

I’ve been thinking about sharing our fall/winter growing plans for a while and the thoughts from Ol’ Remus decided for me that today, I had better get with it. We are working on putting most of the garden to bed for the winter. We’re in the process of taking down the tomato/pepper/green bean trellises. After they are out of the way Frank will brush hog all of

the plants, including the okra forest, into a type of organic mulch.

Then we’ll clean out the chicken house and barn and add that to the garden and till everything in for the winter. If the weather isn’t too cold by that time, it usually isn’t in our latitude, we will broadcast some winter peas for an edible cover crop. It’s good for man and beast.

 
This is the plan for most of the garden anyway. The two ends, east and west are planted with a few more food crops. Not to mention these volunteer squash plants that came up in the yard close to the compost pile. We’re enjoying a few last meals of squash. The first frost we had, we covered these plants with a frost cloth which prevented death, but did not keep the plants damage free. We’ll be covering them again this weekend to see if we can get a few more meals before winter takes it’s toll.

We have a small patch of turnips planted for greens. These are seeds we saved this spring from the turnips we planted last fall. It seems to be a good cycle to get into. We were also able eat fresh greens well into winter, again in the spring and even canned a few jars in June. Our permanent turnip bed idea didn’t work out, so maybe this cycle is a better alternative.

On the other end of the garden we have planted some beets for canning, if they make it that far. 

Some carrots for winter eating.  
 

And some cabbage. We still have some frozen, shredded cabbage we grew in the spring of 2018 that we are using in soup. It’s a great addition. If these cabbages make, I’m hoping we won’t have insect problems this time of year, we’ll eat some fresh and freeze the rest to continue our soup making routine.

 

This small bed on the east side of the house is the only place I have successfully grown spinach. We have had our first salad with miniature spinach and lettuce leaves. I was too impatient to let them grow any bigger before we had our first taste.

In the greenhouse we have started our winter salad collection.

We have two kinds of lettuce. Romaine

Black Seeded Simpson

Russian Kale

Pak Choy from seeds we saved this spring.

Cress

I have also planted a tub of amaranth since it is supposed to be good in salads and we know it’s packed with nutrition.

Even though I don’t expect success, I planted some of the tomato seeds we saved this summer. I wanted to make sure they were viable and wanted to try one more time for winter greenhouse tomatoes.

On a whim back in the spring I bought a six pack of sweet potato plants, put them in some rather rocky ground under a trellis, and pretty much ignored them. They made a few potatoes, more than I expected. We’ll try one for supper tonight with some of those turnip greens we canned in June.

I tried keeping the vines when we dug the potatoes and planted them in a pot in the greenhouse to see if we can use this for our plants in the spring. I don’t know if they will make it when the weather gets cold. We’ll find out.

This is the first year we have had anything close to an apple harvest from the two trees we planted about eight years ago. The apples are good, not too sweet, but homegrown which means a lot to us. We have one with lunch almost everyday. 

 

So, food. What do you have? Is it enough for everyone you need to feed? For a while? Days? Weeks? Months? Years? Can you replenish the supply on your own without any outside assistance? 

Food has always been used to control people. Always. Think of Joseph in Egypt. His father and brothers had to come and beg for food. They had the money to pay for it, but that didn’t mean they would receive any. It’s no different today. Look around the world. Look at how interdependent everyone is. Some countries have oil. Some have water. Some have the type of land and soil that will grow food, some don’t. If any one thing goes wrong, one spoke of the wheel breaks, all systems fail. No water, no food. No oil, no fertilizer, no commercial farming apparatus, no food. No transportation, food rots in the field. No workers, no food. 

Food can and will be used against you as a means of enforcing your compliance to any and all demands. Moral, immoral, just and unjust. Be ready. Provide for yourself and those you love. Otherwise……. 

Without food, you, and everyone you love, are dead.

Until next time – Fern
 

Food on the Shelf

Here is what we’ve been up to – adding food to the shelf. We have plans for more to come including cowpeas, chili, tomatoes, tomato sauce, green beans, sunflowers and amaranth. Not everything will end up in jars, but will be on the shelf in some fashion. Food. The essence of life.

Carrots

Beets

These are the best tasting beets we have ever grown.

Green beans – a basic staple

Winnowing amaranth
Amaranth for our bread

Thelma Sanders winter squash

Winter squash and pinto bean harvest

Communication is always essential.
Our first apple crop. These are wind falls.

The tomatoes are being frozen for future canning.
The more food we put on the shelf, the more content we feel about feeding ourselves for a few more months. That’s a great feeling. Enjoy your harvest, whether it be a garden or a grocery store. 
Stay vigilant. Stay away from crowds. Be ready for anything, it just feels near.
Until next time – Fern

Homestead News Volume 21

We are enjoying below normal temperatures here this week which is a welcome relief to the hot humid weather we have been having. Our hot weather has been similar to what is happening across the country east of here, we have been having daily heat advisories for a while now. We know the heat will return because that is what is normal for this location in the middle of summer, but this morning the low was 61*, normal is about 80* in the midst of summer.

Self discipline has kicked in a little better this summer with rising early and getting out of the house before 10:00am. We don’t always, and definitely haven’t always in the past. It’s easy to sit and drink coffee, visit and peruse the internet. That’s more fun than going outside and sweating. But when we do get up and about and get things done, it feels better, physically and mentally. The bonus is that things get done. So, here are some things that have been happening around the homestead.

We have put about two dozen roosters in the freezer, with the last of them butchered today. Now that the chickens are finished we have six wethers we need to get in the freezer as well. That will be next on the meat preservation list.

There are now more jars on the shelf including green beans, turnip greens and beets.

The garden continues to produce a good harvest almost daily. We are currently getting okra, tomatoes, peppers and green beans.

The pinto beans have been pulled and I’m working on shelling them for canning. The harvest would have been much larger if I had realized pinto beans are pole beans, not bush beans. 

Pinto bean harvest

The first planting of cow peas, purple hull peas, are just about ready to begin blooming and the second planting is up and growing well.

We have harvested the first cutting of amaranth. I will be doing a separate article soon. The second planting is in and also doing very well.

Amaranth after the main seed head has been harvested.

New amaranth seedlings

I have pondered doing a Goat Tale for you, but there really isn’t much to tell so I will include them here. The doe, Patch, that had mastitis and a retained placenta, is now healthy, and I am still milking her on the ‘good’ side of her udder.

Patch – you know, see that patch of white on her side?

In the last few weeks all of our does have bred which has happened before, but is unusual. Neither the does or the buck seem interested in breeding during the heat of the summer most years. This breeding means in the next few months our milk supply will diminish and dry up sometime before they give birth in December. Winter babies are good. They tend to be healthy and thrive better than summer babies, but we will miss having our own fresh milk while waiting for them.

Here is a sneak peek at a project Frank has been working on. He will fill you in on the details in a future article.

We have begun reading Leigh Tate’s book Prepper’s Livestock Handbook. Leigh blogs over at 5 Acres & A Dream which is packed with information about developing their homestead and becoming as self-sufficient as possible. Leigh does a lot of research and tracks data covering their successes and failures. This is where I discovered amaranth and kefir. If you haven’t been there, go take a look, she has a wide variety of information available. We’ll be telling you more about her book after we have more time to graze through it. After all, it is about livestock. 

Frank and I were talking about plans for our activities yesterday and came to the conclusion that this time of year almost everything we do is related to food. It is the food production and preservation time of year. Other things can be postponed until winter when the harvest is in and the weather cools down. 

Life is good on the homestead. Very good. The world? Well, that’s another story. I could direct you to all sorts of horrible, troubling things, but you know what is out there. You know what is coming our way. Prepare accordingly. Don’t be caught by surprise. What comes may shock us, may devastate us, may end the world as we know it. But until that time arrives, the sun is shining, I get to spend my days with the man I love at my side. The flowers are blooming. There is food on our shelves. We have a wonderful life.

Until next time – Fern

Hmmm….. I need to grow more food

I haven’t felt this way in a while. This year has been a normal garden season, no urgency, just grow our own healthy food and put it on the shelf for another year’s supply of homegrown food. The garden is a little smaller and would be even smaller still if we hadn’t decided to grow a little corn for the first time in many years. Just another year. Right? Waiting for the collapse, watching the shenanigans of our congress, observing the demise of civility, avoiding crowds if at all possible.

We had this same flooding about two weeks ago. Here it is again.

We have had an over abundance of rain this year, with over four inches in the last 24 hours, and more falling from the sky as I type. Everything is growing well, not necessarily producing a harvest yet, but growing well, except maybe the okra. It’s barely over knee high and is just starting to bloom. The peppers are in the same shape, starting to bloom. The tomatoes are green, but there are quite a few of them. 

Our great bread basket across the country has been flooding and flooding and flooding. Stories have been coming out about the impact to major crop harvests. Some say there will be shortages and rising prices, some say all is well. What do we believe? We have been fortunate to get comments from CW who lives in Iowa’s corn country. We like hearing from boots on the ground.

Somewhere along the way we ran into a link for the YouTube channel of the Ice Age Farmer. I watched him to see what he had to say about farms underwater and the country’s major crop harvest. It doesn’t look good according to him. And then he started talking about the grand solar minimum. I didn’t think a lot of it at first. I knew the sun cycle was at the low end because of how it is affecting radio propagation. Then I remembered an article I wrote back in 2014, What is a Maunder Minimum? I went back and read it, then went in search of more information about the grand solar minimum that the Ice Age Farmer was talking about. This took me to these two articles.

Winter is Coming – Super Grand Solar Minimum

Evidence of Grand Solar Minimum Continues to Mount

Hmmm….. comparison to another mini ice age? I sure hope not. But Colorado did just have two feet of snow in some places on the first day of summer. The same storm that caused major storms in other parts of the country. I have never believed in the current global warming paradigm. Man’s carbon emissions are not causing the planet to warm. The planet has always gone through cycles of warming and cooling. Just like the sun cycles. Either we adjust or we don’t. We learn new ways of living and producing food, or we don’t. If we as a society don’t learn to adjust, we die. To me, it’s that simple.


Is this the only reason I feel like I need to grow more food, after the growing season has started and the garden is already planted and growing? No. But you probably suspected that didn’t you? Our last few articles discuss the ways of the world, our country, our politics, the invasion of foreigners from all over the world, and the potential conflicts between countries worldwide. Is that it? No, not entirely.


In the last few weeks Frank has begun working on a project to provide another source of water to our house. We will write about it before long showing the steps, equipment and results. But just yesterday Frank looked at me and said, “After all this time, I don’t know why I am doing this project now.” You see, we have had the supplies, parts and equipment for a long time, in some instances up to ten years. It has all been on a shelf, waiting in the wings for the time it was needed. But recently, he took these things down, looked them over and started to work. The scary part is he doesn’t have a distinct reason why.

Amaranth will be planted here.


As I harvested the carrots and cleared up the area between the tomatoes, Frank asked what I was going to plant there. My response? Nothing, we don’t need anything else. Then we harvested the beets. Again, same response, we don’t need anything else. As the amaranth has grown well and started to produce large seed heads I have been reading about harvesting and winnowing the seeds for use in our bread, reviewing the nutritive value and how it can benefit both us and our chickens and goats.


Then, in just the last week, I have had this need to grow more food. Densely nutritious food. Just this morning at breakfast I asked Frank what shorter season crop we can grow once the pinto bean crop is finished. I plan to plant some carrots for winter eating in a portion of that area, but there will be a lot of room left over. Cow peas are a 75-85 day crop, high in protein and other good nutrients, good for animals and humans. That’s why I planted some yesterday after I tilled the space where the beets and winter squash had been. This is what lead me to pull up the winter squash before it was fully finished with it’s production.

And instead of leaving the winter squash to cure so we can bake one every now and then, or bake and freeze some if the need arises, I am going to can them all. We can add a jar to soup and it will be ready on the shelf for another food option as desired or needed. Why? I’m not sure. It’s just another one of those food options I have been impressed to change from my original plan.

The areas I showed you between the rows of corn and between the tomato trellises will be planted with amaranth as soon as the new seedlings come up. I have two trays planted and more pot maker pots made up today for planting. And if there is time once the corn is harvested, the rest of this area will be planted with amaranth.

Wire cat protectors for the seedlings as they grow.

Just like Frank and the water project. I don’t know why, but I need to grow more food. We have lived our lives listening to that little voice of warning and instruction and it has served us well. So, it’s time to plant, tend, harvest and preserve. The why can take care of itself in it’s own time. Heed the warnings you are given. Listen. Act. 

Until next time – Fern

What’s Growin’ in the Garden 2

Interesting that I was thinking of doing a garden update today since we had rain forecast. I have some pictures from May 25th and was going to add a few more today. Well, it is raining. We had and inch of rain in five minutes, then ended up with 2″ in about 30 minutes and it arrived with 25MPH winds. Here are some pictures from the porch.

Our creek has extended into the backyard.

North side of the house, water running, now the corn is facing west laying over.

Our new creek through the turnip bed.

Lots of water – this is normally dry

I won’t know if there is any permanent damage for a few days and will let you know about that in the next update. Message for me – always plan for the unexpected. Always…..always.

Here are a few comparisons from the last article. Then pictures and comments about what’s growing out there – or was – or maybe is still growing. Time will tell.
 

April 22nd

May 25th

We are still using coffee grounds for acidity around some plants, these were for the blueberries. The eggs shells have made their way around the base of all squashes and tomatoes, so these were given to the peppers.

 

 

Pinto beans

The pinto beans are doing well and I have learned something. They vine like pole beans. I thought they were a bush bean, but they look just like the Missouri Wonders, except they don’t have a trellis to grow on. Another thing we’ve noticed is that some of them appear to have the same type of curly top problem some of the tomatoes have. Because of that I think the person that commented about the soil being too fertile is probably right. Some of the beans look great and some of them are wrinkled up. Another good learning experience.



Missouri Wonder green beans next to the pinto beans


While we are in this corner of the garden, here are the two apple trees. In the past we have harvested about 20 apples altogether in the seven or eight years these trees have been here. This year there are many apples. We hope they remain on the trees long enough to ripen and harvest. I’m wondering if I will have enough to can a few which leads me to pondering the best way to do that without any added sugar or other ingredients. Any ideas?

Comfrey by the apples. The chickens get a handful each morning.

Sunflowers are planted at the end of each trellis and here and there in a couple of other places.

 I told you about the potatoes Frank bought for me in the last article. Well, right after we planted them it rained and rained and rained. Four plants survived the wet soil. They look healthy and vigorous, though, so we will see what kind of harvest we get.


We have had a few meals of the first small yellow crook neck squash. There is nothing like those first few meals, they always taste so good. Soon we will be overrun with too many, but that’s not such a bad problem to have. We can always share with the chickens. We lost a few winter squash and one yellow squash plant to vine borers before I got the wood ashes around the base of the plants. I’ll put some more out after this rainy week passes.


The carrots, and all of the surrounding weeds and crabgrass, are doing very well. I started the carrot seedlings in pot makers again this year which makes all the difference. They get a good head start and produce much better than direct seeding.

 

Our winter squash this year is Thelma Sanders which is a type of acorn squash, along with some seeds we saved last year. They are a mixture of five different winter squashes we grew last summer. We’ll see what they produce.

 

There are a few pots of nasturtiums, marjoram and basil here and there throughout the garden.

 
The Japanese beetles really like the amaranth. Even so, it is growing well.

 The beets are doing well this year due to being seedlings in pot makers just like the carrots. I hope to can some this year.

The okra has not liked the cool, rainy weather. It is very slowly coming along.

The corn is doing okay. The 2008 Painted Mountain seed germinated very well, much to our surprise. It has tasseled first when the open pollinated sweet corn has barely begun. We hoped to cross pollinate them, but that won’t be happening since the timing is off. And now, after the rain and wind, we’ll have to see if any makes at all.

 


Our experimental patch of sorghum is coming up. It will be very interesting to see how it does, along with the amaranth. We’re curious about the harvest, the labor involved and how we can add these to our diet. Learning, just can’t do without it. There is always something to learn.

That small patch of dirt back there is the sorghum.

 

I planted some lettuce in pots on the porch to see if we can have some through most of the summer. Another experiment. This pot has a marigold coming up in it along with the Romaine.

What is surprising is how much the garden has grown in the last week since these pictures were taken. We’ve had sunshine and many things are really taking off. I realized when looking through these pictures that there aren’t any of the tomatoes, but they’re out there, along both sides of the carrots.
 
Well, that’s it for now. We hear thunder not too far off and there is more rain on the way. Just hope it doesn’t have any hail or high winds with it this time.

How are things growing in your neck of the woods?

Until next time – Fern

P.S. We have a question. Do any of you have experience with a corded electric tiller? We are reviewing this one. Please tell us what you think or if you have other recommendations. I have a Mantis and it works fine, but it just won’t till. It is a cultivator, not a tiller. I need something vastly smaller than the tractor with the tiller attachment to help take care of some of these weeds. Please tell us what you think. Your thoughts are appreciated.