Sunday, August 30, 2009

Well that was

one hell of a week! In a good way!

Monday, through a strange set of circumstances, I volunteered to help set up a food bank on our end of the county. Food security, both personal and community-wide, is really important to me, and this was something I'd been thinking about for a while. Pretty funny that the week I made up my mind to get involved in the community this just sort of fell into my lap. :D

Tuesday was our first civic club meeting and it was GREAT! We took the kids and I just sort of assumed that they would play on the playground while we met with the other folks. Well, one of the committee members (that I've known for ... oh ... 25 years? maybe 30?) brought his teenaged daughter, who very kindly watched out for the girls the entire time. I volunteered to help organize the Halloween Carnival (the civic club's biggest fundraiser of the year), which will actually be on Halloween this year. I'm so excited! This meeting was a really, really big deal for us as a family. I've been so worried that all of my grandmother's trash talk about our religion would have the whole group ready to burn us at the stake. I'm pretty ashamed of myself that I made such assumptions about people. Everybody was so nice. :) We even met the people who bought the "pink" gingerbread house across the street from the park: a nice Jewish couple who are apparently pretty serious preppers! I'm hoping to get to know them a little better.

We had F's birthday party at the park yesterday: another Big Deal, as this is the first time any other kids have come to her party. There were 4 5-y/o's and 1 2-y/o, all girls. Glad it was outdoors, as I don't think we could have stood all the squealing inside! LOL Anyway, everybody had a great time.

Today, I picked tomato hornworms off my tomato plants (and some other kind of worm, too) and fed them to the chickens ... who actually ATE them this time! Yay! Now that I know what I'm looking for, I'll be checking the plants every afternoon and giving the chicks an afternoon snack.

I also made my very first "all-by-myself" batch of pickles: dilled okra. Mmmm. AND, I'm marinating (right this second!) a bowl of sliced tomatoes in cheap red wine. Yep, you read that right! Tomorrow, I shall drain them, sprinkle them with salt and dried herbs, and dehydrate them. Mom already did some for me and they are so freakin' delicious I want to eat the entire bag. But I won't: I'm determined to make a homemade pizza with homegrown dried tomatoes. I WILL keep some tomatoes for that. I WILL TOO!

I should be baking bread right now, or folding laundry, or cutting up pears to make preserves, but the girls didn't nap today and I'm frickin' tired. Plus, we ate a LOT of popcorn this afternoon/evening and now I feel kinda sick. :P

OH ... did I mention that we had nearly 10 INCHES of rain last week?!?! Ridiculous ...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

2 Months ....

Yeah, clearly I suck at this whole blogging thing. I'm not sure what made me think this would be different than the dozens of times I've bought lovely journals, blank pages that first whispered the promise of quiet reflection. Within days, those clean pages became another chore to complete, and within weeks the journal of quiet reflection was buried in the avalanche of paper that is my life. Turns out I'm even busier now than I was the last time I bought a journal! No beating myself up this time, though. It is what it is, and I'll update when I can. Maybe I can even figure out how to add pictures someday ...

So, the new cat, Henry, is great. He's made friends (sort of) with the dog, and likes F (the most important part, since she's the one who wanted one the most).

The dog killed one of our original 2 chickens and mangled the other one. She eventually recovered and began laying eggs again. Before that, though, we bought 6 more chicks - 5 pullets and a rooster. They've gotten SO big, and they're so stinkin' cute. Of course, to B's chagrin, we've named them all: Rosa, Snowflake, Midnight, Majesty, Brunhylde, and Buster. We hope they'll start laying in a month or 2.

The gardens did okay. Well, mom & dad's BIG garden did GREAT. We harvested and preserved over 400 lbs. of peas! The squash, zucchini and cukes did really well, too. Grean beans, not so much, and the hogs destroyed all but 100 ears of the corn and all of the pumpkins & watermelons.

Our little garden did ... eh. We got some squash and zukes, and about 15 lbs. of potatoes. The deer ate all the sunflowers and the hogs tore up our corn and pumpkins. I got a few eggplants, and thought the plants had died, but lo and behold, they're back and blooming again, and there are a few baby eggplants on the bushes. I think hogs ate some of them, too. Are you seeing a theme here?

The most success we've had gardening this year has been the herb beds. One was planted with basil, 2 kinds of parsley, cilantro, dill, oregano, thyme, tarragon, mint and rosemary. Oh, and one poblano pepper plant! The basil is still going strong! I made pesto for the first time, and plan to make some for the freezer -- the stuff is so freaking delicious that I ate the whole batch with nary a bit of pasta, just on crackers and sandwiches. I cut the flower spikes off the basil plants a couple times a week and feed them to the chickens. The cilantro died in the heat, but I harvested a few tablespoons of coriander which was exciting. The dill did really well, until the Eastern Swallowtail caterpillars moved in and ate the crap out of it. :( The caterpillars are now working on my parsley, but I didn't use it that much so I'm not worrying about it. The little buggers are bitter (so I read) and the chickens won't eat them. Grrr. Oh, we've gotten probably a dozen poblanos ...yum!

The other herb bed was planted mostly with tomato plants that mom started from heirloom seeds. We have a couple of yellow cherries that are producing like mad, a couple of red cherries that are doing just okay, and a few romas that are doing pretty well. Mom is dehydrating almost all of the romas for us. Oh, and there are a few "regular" tomato plants that are giving us enough for slicing/eating out of hand. We haven't gotten enough from our garden to can, which I'm a little disappointed over, but it'll be okay.

We're still trying to figure out goats or a cow, the orchard, fencing, and always $$.

The lack of community is really bothering me lately. Not just heathen community .... ANY community! So, I decided to try getting involved in the local civic club and the local Spiral Scouts group. The civic club president and the SS troop leader neither have answered my e-mails (sent almost 2 weeks ago), but I'm trying not to be discouraged about it yet. Until then ... busy, busy, as always!

Today's to-do list:
* Return books & movies to the library.
* Begin making beef broth (for canning tomorrow).
* Pick up a box or 2 of tomatoes for canning.
* Make bread & muffins.
* Laundry, laundry & more laundry.

Makes me want to go back to bed!!