spring greens at Mountain Glen Farm

spring greens at Mountain Glen Farm

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Back Side Boo Boo

Glenn and I took an early morning stroll around the garden specifically looking for two good places to transplant two shade tree saplings.  Of course, both Jake and Buddy escorted us.



Suddenly I saw Buddy shuffle in gyrations; and, snapping at the air and snapping at his rear end.  I witnessed those movements many times before; a bee/hornet was on the attack.



I could relate as I have been stung more times than I prefer.  Tingling, needling, hurting, itching…



I sympathized knowing that Buddy’s butt was probably tingling.



Buddy moved closer to us and I could see one hornet buzzing his head.  I urged Glenn to help eliminate the offender.  Then, one big gulp and it looked like Buddy had swallowed the insect whole.  Well, that takes care of that problem.



We started back to the house when I remembered I had wanted to check out a second location for the second sapling.  The location was the place where I had first noticed Buddy in distress.  I looked carefully for any hornets either coming or going to a nest site before proceeding.   I saw none.  Location agreed, Glenn and I again turned to walk back to the house.



Within seconds I felt the beginnings of a sting on my derrière.  I jumped and made gyrations similar to those that Buddy had just exhibited. 



Again, calling Glenn for his assistance; he found a hornet trapped inside, inside mind you, the top of my pants.  How did it get there…I was wearing a t-shirt that ended well below the pant top.  Glenn was able to remove the hornet and stomp on it.



I wailed, “Look, look again…are there any more?”  Thankfully, the answer was in the negative.



Needless to say, my butt was already tingling!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Paper Flowers

I have two fairly mature crepe myrtles growing in my garden; even though they grow only feet apart, one always blooms a week or two earlier than the other.





That is fine with me because I get to enjoy the frilly, crinkly almost paper-like and delicate blooms longer.


crepe paper blooms


I have seen purple, white, deep rose and pink varieties of the crepe myrtle. 



Both of mine are pink.  They remind me of the pink Bazooka bubble gum bubbles of my youth.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Vile Vultures



Vultures fly over our farm daily.  They are continually looking for food, carrion.



Usually a single bird is seen circling high overhead; most notably perceived by Buddy first.  I frequently see him running off, at full speed eyes gazing high in the sky, in chase mode.



Vultures are huge birds.  Their size alone is quite scary; now, add the fiendish head - terrifying!


one vulture...


When I notice that their numbers increase from one to eight or more, I know there is a dead animal nearby.


two vultures...
three vultures!




Once in while I observe them sunning, perched on a tree branch or a fence post.  Their dark wings are completely outstretched; looking even more ominous.






I have to admit…vultures are not my favorite bird species. Even the bright red head (and I often mention how much I adore color) does not win me over.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

Mouth-watering Beef

Beef….our major farm product.



Our farm is transitioning from the Angus, Angus Cross breed to South Poll.  Angus produces good beef, but we believe South Poll will produce better beef.



The South Poll breed is fairly new to the agriculture scene and is being well-received in many parts of the United States.  I personally believe that the South Poll breed will eventually replace the ever-popular Angus.  (Remember…you heard that prediction here first!) Our farm was the first in Virginia to breed South Poll cattle.  Now, a few other Virginia farms have discovered the benefits of the breed:   excels on grass forage (grain less diet) resulting in tender meat,  tolerates high air temperatures,  is gentle,  has a smaller frame making finishing complete, has easy birthing , and exhibits ideal (maternal characteristics) mama cows.  An added benefit…they look pretty (they are red) grazing the tall green grass pastures.





Today, we retrieved our processed half of a full South Poll beeve. We sold the other half of the animal to friends. 


Mt. Joy Meat LLC

We are trying a new processor, Mt. Joy Meat LLC located in rural Augusta County, Virginia, just about a 15 minute drive from our farm.  The owner is very cordial, very helpful and an all-around nice guy. 



Our beef was vacuumed sealed - a process that should maintain meat freshness longer during its storage in the freezer.  Note:  We are currently finishing up two-year old processed beef that was paper-wrapped -  still good, but I believe the vacuum-sealing will retain the best flavor even longer,  if need be. 



I realize that many people are not beef eaters.  But consider this… grass-fed beef is higher in antioxidants and omega-3 fats (not the omega-6 undesirable fats found in corn-fed beef) than salmon. Grass-fed beef is your grandfather’s red meat; the kind of beef produced when farming actually followed the laws of nature - pre chemical fertilizers, pre mechanical haying, pre antibiotics and growth hormones.  Our beef is natural and chemical-free.



As we unloaded the meat into our personal freezer, we pulled a package of T-bone steaks for tonight’s dinner.  They will be served with freshly-dug potatoes and freshly-picked green beans - another home raised meal - the best!




Grass-fed management and South Poll cattle combined make a delicious and healthy meat product. 



And, the result… tender, lip-smacking yummy!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Runaway Vine

I have a vine growing that I fondly call my runaway vine.





I did not plant it, but once I noticed it growing early this summer, I could not pull it out of the ground.  I wanted to watch it develop into….well, that detail was going to be a surprise, to me.



Now, that little upstart of a vine growing next to the back deck, has blossomed; both figuratively and literally.




The blossoms are huge, brilliant yellow well placed throughout the vine. They glow among the dark of the leaves, and are well visited by bees.  The leaves, too, are large scaled which hide the developing fruit.  The vine(s) are growing in all directions; over a perennial, along the ground, throughout the branches of a shrub, and even expanding out on top of the deck. I think the vine will reach the roof soon. This vine has no limits.




This week I was able to identify the bounty growing on this vine.  My favorite little green-striped, yellow-banded gourds are starting to make a presence.  They are so cute hanging out among the foliage and new blossoms. 




Last year’s gourd crop fills a basket, the once vibrant colors faded to grey.  They desperately need to be replaced. These new gourds will bring the joy of color back to the basket and to many corners of the house where I choose to display them.




And, all this color and charm from a runaway vine that grew from a wayward seed.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Summer Sunshine

Pink-edged Sulphur

Monday, July 23, 2012

Peppers Peaking

The peppers are starting to mature more rapidly now.




Look at the color - so intense, so beautiful.



The last couple of weeks have produced enough green peppers to keep us supplied on an ‘as need’ basis.  Now, we are challenged to keep up with the harvest.  Easy…the extras will go into the freezer.




Green peppers are so simple to freeze; clean (wash and remove seeds and stem end), dice, place in freezer bags and store in the freezer.  When needed, pour out the amount required; then, return the bag back into the freezer for the next time.  As I mentioned, simple!



The banana peppers are a bit more challenging.



This is the first year we ever grew banana peppers.  They are producing well.  But, how do we use them, how do we preserve them? I am in a bit of a dilemma.




I think I am going to attempt a preserving experiment.  I am going to try to slice/dice the peppers (with Glenn’s help because I am afraid that my hands may get that burning sensation resulting from touching raw hot peppers - been there , done that years before with Jalapenos - not a pleasant sensation), minimally cook them in a vinegar pickling syrup, then….freeze them instead of the recommended canning.



This technique works with pickled beets, but banana peppers…



I will keep you posted.  Until then, enjoy the amazing colors of the harvest!




Sunday, July 22, 2012

Three Cats

Becky inherited three cats, or I should say…three cats were in residence when Becky moved to the ’55‘ farm.







Then, one day there were only two cats.  Another few weeks later, there was one cat…Callie, the female calico.  Callie is quite a beautiful cat and always affectionately winding herself about your legs.




One day, we noticed that Callie was getting a bit punchy - ahhh, she was pregnant; probably, by that nasty grey tabby that hangs around and steals her food.


Am I the Papa?


Six to eight weeks ago, Callie came up missing.  When she finally showed herself, she was thin; half the size she had been.  The kittens had been born.  For weeks, Becky watched Callie slither in and out of the junk pile; composed of old, twisted fencing, rotten boards, and just plain farm trash several times per day.   Callie continued to lose weight and condition.



Now, why on earth would Callie choose such a dreadful place to not only have her kittens, but to raise them there, too? There was a nice dry barn, laden with dry hay and rarely a visitor.  There was a dry shed where Callie is fed daily; again, no visitors.  Callie could have chosen over 100 more suitable places to raise her family.  She chose the exposed trash heap.




Last week, Callie moved the kittens into a shed which is centrally located to farm activity.  The kittens remained sequestered except for the occasional pair of eyes peering out from a hidden spot; or a little tail flicking back and forth in the space between the tin wall and the ground.




A few days ago, the kittens, two total, were napping in full view, in the shed, on a soft pile of hay.  They opened their eyes, when I walked near, to give me their full attention.  I only watched them as I gave their Mom a few caresses.  I wanted them to know that I was a friend without scaring them.




They are beautiful and well-cared for as Callie nourished these two kittens with her own flesh.  As the kittens grow, Callie will grow and regain her former self.


snack time...



Today, the kittens are a bit more brave.  Glenn and I were sitting on the deck when Callie came around the corner with both kittens.  The kittens followed closely, but as soon as they saw us, they turned and scampered away.  Seconds later, I saw one head, then another peek around the corner of the shed.  They watched us with interest. 


Glenn playing with Callie



After a few more moments, they were both playing with their Mother and having a grand time.  They would pounce, they would curl, they would swat, but I never did hear a peep (or a mew) from them. 


a jungle gym - yippee!


WHAT is that?


I'm outta here!


As I was leaving, one kitten poked his/her (we have not determined their sex yet) head around the base of a broom.  Kitten two peered from the other side of the broom.  Both grabbed the sides of the broom as if they had to hold on or fall over.



It will be fun to watch these little ones play and grow.



Once again, there are three cats at the ’55’ farm. I hope they enjoy their home at ‘55’ as much as we all enjoy ‘55’.


Did you say, "Smile"?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Turkey Tikes


Looking out the office window, as I do frequently when working at the computer, I noticed a bunch of moving brown spots. While at the computer, I do not wear my glasses - never do for close-up work, so my distance sight is always a bit fuzzy.  Add to that a slight drizzle clouding the window, and any clear view was not possible.



What are all those brown spots?  On further inspection, I was pleasantly surprised to see a bunch of turkeys grazing the pasture between the house and the woods.





I think there were two hens, but the number of poults was too difficult to make an accurate count.  Like I said, these birds (spots) were moving.  I will estimate that I was watching at least twenty young turkeys bob their heads up and down as they moved about the grass foraging.



I went outside for a better view; and in so doing, they got a better view of me.  They were not frightened, but they were not comfortable. 




Those turkeys made a slow return to the woods.  Within a minute, they were totally out of my sight.



I am told that turkeys have great eyesight; so, even though I could not see them, they were probably watching me.





That’s fair.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

VIRGINIA VOTER REGISTRATION - Are you registered?

For Virginia residents...

In order to vote in the next, November 6, 2012 General Election, you must be registered to vote in the precinct in which you live by October 15, 2012.

Do not miss out, make you wishes known, be sure you are officially registered to vote, and VOTE on November 6, 2012!

If you reside in another state, please follow-up and make sure you are registered in your state.

Then, do your homework.  Get to know the candidates and make an informed decision.

What direction do you want to see the United States take?  Bigger government, more government intrusion (Is there a drone flying over your yard? Has your personal computer been hacked into by our own government?)into your liberties or smaller government and fewer personal/business regulations. 

Do you want a life for your children and grandchildren similar to that you enjoyed? A life full of freedom and choices or government control over every aspect of their lives; not to mention the growing debt burden.

Do you want to spend your hard-earned money giving more, or all, to the government for wasteful spending and out-of-control, fraud-ridden programs that do not work or keeping more of your earnings for your own decisions of food choices, car choices, health care choices, and even choices for charitable contributions. 

You are an adult; and, you can still make your own decisions.  Wouldn't it be nice if we can provide that same opportunity for our future generations?  Our Founding Fathers had the wherewith all to think ahead, considering our lives and liberty.  Do we not owe the same to the future citizens of our country?

The future of the United States, and perhaps the entire world,  depends on YOU!

Make that informed decision and VOTE for the candidate who represents your values, ethics, and your future! You children just might thank you!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Beans, Beans

The green beans have started to mature along with the peppers, tomatoes, summer squash, cucumbers and potatoes. There are a lot of veggies to eat; more than two adults can manage.


pole beans growing on a 4' X 16' cattle panel - easy to grow, easier to harvest than the bush variety


Since we can never keep up by eating up, we try to freeze/can as much as possible of the surplus to be used during the garden’s off season - late fall, winter, and early spring.  The over mature and spoiled veggies are fed to the chickens; nothing produced here goes to waste here.



Freezing is my preservation method of choice for most of the vegetables except for the tomatoes which I have dried; but, I prefer canning.  A plus to freezing is that any amount of produce can easily be preserved; from a handful to a bushel or more.  I, personally, prefer the smaller and more manageable harvest size; keeping the process fun rather than a chore.  The only down side to freezing…if the power goes off - then, the generator needs to be up and running in short order.




Green beans are so easy to freeze -  clean, snap to size, parboil for three minutes in boiling water, place in meal-sized freezer bags, and into the freezer where…




the flavor of summer is saved for a later time.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Blues

Standing in the homestead pasture, I saw a small petal floating past me.





But, it was not a petal…it was a Blue; probably the smallest butterfly I had ever seen.  I am guessing this butterfly is about one-half inch in size.


Notice the blue of the upper side of the Blue on the right....


As I followed the Blue, it joined others lighting along a damp spot on the ground.  I had to get down to a hands and knees position to get a better look…so tiny and such a delicate color. 


Notice the white fringe detail along the edges of the wings...



The close-up look was worth my effort.