summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

Friday, August 30, 2013

My 9" X 13" (I Do Not Mess Around) Apple Pie

My apple pie making season started yesterday.


Now, the apples (like so much of my other 2013 harvest) are not pretty…small and wormy; but, I am able to cut out the bad parts. 


Peeling these less than perfect apples takes twice as long, but the taste is worth the extra effort.  There is never any waste as the chickens love the peels, worms and all. 


And, I finally remembered (with Glenn’s reminder) to include my raisins that I dried from our grapes.


In many ways, all the sweeter!


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Funky Spuds

Glenn dug up these beauties yesterday.
Now, I am I suppose to peel them?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Separating the Sexes - I'm Talking Sheep Here

Yesterday was a livestock day.


The cattle returned home, the day before, from spending time grazing at the neighbors.  I call it their vacation…5 star, no less, as pasture rental is expensive.


The sheep and cattle were reunited…for a day.


After a wellness check, a bit of fly-spraying, and some parasite control; the ram lambs and breeding ram were separated out of the flerd and brought up to the barn paddocks.  This separation is the easiest option of reproduction restraint for the ram lambs.  The other option…castration.


The ram lambs are only 4-5 months old, but old enough to attempt to breed with the ewe lambs of the same age.  Some would be successful.  Thus, the separation as we do not want the ewe lambs bred.


Once in the barn paddocks, those little ram lambs were lost because the grass is much taller than even our larger breeding ram. 


In a day or two, the grass will be eaten down enough so that I will be able to enjoy the sight of sheep grazing nearby. 


And, I will be listening to ‘baaing’ in stereo - the rams up at the barn and the ewes down in the lower pastures.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Gigantic Greens

I did not have high hopes for this growing season.


Too much rain early and throughout the summer months took a toll on many of my vegetable in the  garden.


I gave up on the herbs early since they had been quickly canopied by the ruthless weeds.


The peppers and tomatoes did not get any of my attention.  These veggies like it on the hot side, and hot is not how I would describe this summer.


Again…I was wrong.


I went out to cut off the few green peppers that I had noticed hanging from the plants. 


Boy, was I surprised.  Those green peppers, often hidden by their own leaves, were huge.


I cut the biggest peppers off the plants and let the smaller ones remain for further growth.


I cleaned, diced and froze enough packets of green peppers to get us through another year.


The freezer now has some of the 2013 crop of sweet corn, green peppers, raisins, raspberries, and pole beans.  And, I think there will still be more to harvest before we are finished for the season.


Now, the tomatoes are as expected - small and not worth the effort of canning.  I am just glad we have enough canned tomatoes remaining from our 2012 season to use and enjoy until next summer.

PATHETIC...please return to the green pepper photo!

But next year, the tomatoes have to produce.  We use lots of canned tomatoes in our cooking.


Tomorrow I am going to try a new recipe…canned, pickled sweet banana pepper and cucumber relish - a change on the pickled sweet banana pepper slices that I canned last week.  I have to use the surplus cucumbers anywhere I can.  Glenn eats them fresh.  I do not - too much burping.


Glenn already gave away bushels and they keep on producing.  And, producing!


So, I declare 2013 the Year of the Cucumber!


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Complete Barn Siding - Check!

We purchased our farm about twenty-five years ago.


Since that time we have made many improvements.  However, a farm is a never-ending, on-going project.


The original pole barn is sided in metal.  A very small section of that barn was never finished. That was the condition at time of purchase.


Every year, at least once per year, Glenn would mention that he needed to finish the siding. Two years ago, he actually purchased enough ‘seconds’ siding to finish that incomplete section.  That task went no further…until this week.


Becky’s friend Colby, who has been doing odd chores/jobs/tasks/and more for us, came over and not only worked on that siding, but he finished it.


Hip, hip, hurray!  Another long overdue task completed.


Unfortunately, that job never made it onto the formal 'to do' list. A minor oversight!


So, I quickly added the task to the list so that I could cross it off just so it looks like we are making more progress.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Not A Heron This Time

The pond was our final destination of a late afternoon farm ATV drive-around.

Feeding the catfish was the last chore of the day.

As we neared the pond, Glenn was ahead of me.  He stopped on the dam and motioned me to look toward the pond dock.

A magnificent Kingfisher was resting on a bench post.

I tried to sneak up closer which on a loud and noisy ATV is not an easy task.
female Belted Kingfisher

The Kingfisher stayed for several minutes before we proceeded closer to the dock.  She flew off into the nearby tree and watched us from her ‘safe’ distance.

A fair trade…wouldn’t you agree?


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Garden Harvest - Better Than I Expected!

After more rain than normal, as experienced over the past 25 years, the garden is surprisingly starting to produce.  I had real doubts. The harvest is much better than I had anticipated - yippee!  In overview, to date…

The potatoes are large and flavorful; but, the onions are small and soft.

The 20th+ time Glenn harvested this season's cucumbers!

The cucumbers are prolific; but, the butter squash vines are dying.


The banana peppers and green peppers are big and plentiful, enough to can and freeze respectively.

The sweet corn, what remained after losing some pre-ear development stalks that fell over in the soggy ground, is perfect - sweet, tender and abundant enough to eat daily at the moment with surplus to freeze for winter use.

The pole beans have been sparse due to the zealous Japanese beetle invasion. Those that we do harvest are delicious. And, it looks like there will be more to come.
 dried the grapes for sweet raisins

The fruits did not fare as well as the cherries were a total loss, the strawberries produced less than our usual harvest, the grapes developed only a minimum crop, the blueberries were normal, and the apples are still growing.  The raspberries have been ripening regularly all summer long.  Some have been used as an ice cream topping, some have been frozen and some have been dried.  The raspberries also produce well late in the season, so I am expecting a good final tally.

Fortunately, my early season prediction of garden yield was not totally accurate.  We ended with more bounty than I projected.  

And, our taste buds and stomachs are well satisfied and will be throughout the dormant season due to our preservation efforts.

Note:  As I was drying a few dishes, I happened to hear a desperate crying.  I looked out the window in time to see Buddy starting to walk away with a small bunny in his mouth.  I yelled, ‘Buddy,’ at which he dropped the small creature that immediately ran back into the same garden bed for hiding.  Buddy walked away with a short-lived sadness.  Minutes, later, I heard that same distressed cry, looked out and saw that Buddy was back in that same garden bed hunting that same bunny.  I saved that bunny twice. But, I did not know how long my luck, rather that bunny’s luck, would keep him safe and alive.  I went out to try to chase the bunny away, but I could not find him.  He was hiding extremely well under the lush foliage of my leadwort ground cover. Unfortunately, I do not have the same sense of smell as Bubby to aid me in my search. This bunny is on his own. 
Other garden creatures are not lucky...

one of our pets (cat or dog) is doing their job...

Some garden nuisances, like this dead mole, is better to me and my gardens on the deceased side.  I have included the photo only because the fly looks interesting…check out the colors!

Can I ever stop taking photos of butterflies?  Probably not!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Fish I Swim With

I just thought you might like to take a gander, up close, of the fish I swim with in our farm pond.

Yep…big, ugly catfish - much bigger than they were last summer, too!

There are others hiding out in the water such as blue gill and bass, but these guys are the ones that come to eat when Glenn throws out fish pellets.

Why does Glenn feed these fish?  I do not know. Aren’t they huge enough already?  I think so.


The up side is that once they have eaten all the pellets, they disappear to pond parts unknown…by me.
And, I can continue to peacefully float stress free - relaxing and soooo refreshed!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ember's Manicure

Clipping Ember’s hoofs is not an easy task.


That is not my experience, but Glenn’s as he was always the one delegated for this necessary, periodic job.


Did you catch the word WAS? 


Now, Becky’s friend has willingly (we did not have to beg too much) taken over the backbreaking, painstaking chore.  Just imagine…lifting a horse’s leg to clip a thick, solid hoof using every bit of muscle manageable all the while having 1000 pounds or so lean against you for the effort.  Then, repeat the exercise three more times.


Glenn is ecstatic since he no longer has to abuse his old bones.  Ember is ecstatic since she gets attended to on a more regular basis.


And, Colby… not sharing his comments.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Jungle or a Yard

The yard is a jungle.


With our wet spring continuing through… well now, most every green growing plant (fruits and veggies excepted) has over excelled during this growing season.  My lawn, my perennials, my shrubs and even my trees are abundantly lush.  The weeds…you can imagine!


I decided that I needed to trim back some of the vegetation. 


I enlisted Glenn to help with the trees.  After all, he is the expert with the chainsaw.  In reality, I have not used a chain saw in years.  I know all too well that I would not even be able to start the beast without straining/injuring what arm muscles I might possess.  And, I do not possess many that actually are dependable in my aging body.


Two evening ago, Glenn finally was motivated to do a bit of trimming.  After a quick sharpening of the chain on the saw, we walked about the garden determining our victims:  a few stray walnut trees started by squirrels,  cutting off the lower branches on the towering white pine  to clear my path when I mow the lawn, a few branches off the sweet gum - again, a danger while mowing the lawn - I always seem to clunk my head on those pendulous  seed balls which are small but have sharp spikes that down right hurt, a branch off the dogwood so that the bird bath is more accessible to my feathered friends, and remove  the lower course of branches off the hemlock - another mowing hazard. 


Bird bath now visible and accessible.

No, those are not short shrubs, those are the trimmings from some of the trees.


And, that was only the start.  There are plenty more trees to prune.


To think, we planted all these trees over the course of the years we lived here on the farm.  They provide shade, beauty, and more work than we had anticipated when they were all only 12” seedlings.


The results are wonderful - a bit more open and airy and safe - more like a yard under control than a wild jungle.


 I think we will continue with the remaining trees in the yard…not today, but soon!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Deer Crossing

Today was quite a deer sighting day.  I saw a fully spotted fawn, a no-spot yearling, three more fawns and a few more does in our woods and along our farm road.


But, I was missing my deer shots all day…camera shots, that is.

yearling running into hiding

Then, success…one big (big in my eyes) buck, six-point antlers in full velvet…

same buck, different views - don't you just want to stroke those antlers?




Sunday, August 4, 2013

More Summer Color

The mornings have been cool so I am able to leave on my walks later and later.  And, my bonus…brilliant rays of the rising sun piercing through the forest canopy.


The butterflies continue to flutter about my gardens constantly.  This year the swallowtails are abundant.  I can be in the garden almost any time of day to enjoy these beauties.  Most times, these butterflies fly so close to me that I can gently swirl my hand to catch a brief quiver of their delicate wings.


This morning I saw a small, very yellow butterfly. A Sulphur.  In trying to focus in to get as much detail as possible, my camera was directed to a stem filled with aphids instead…surprise, surprise!


My poor eyesight combined with sun shining into my eyes, I sometimes never really know what will be the resulting picture. 
And, that keeps my life very interesting!

cleome - my Grandmother called this the 'spider' flower on her garden

a late bloomer - this wisteria is a spring blooming plant

notice the bee at the bottom - another surprise for me!