Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Cannin' Days Are Here



Dear Friends,

Happy September to you!

The long, hot days of summer are beginning to wane at last (although this week we are seeing temperatures near 90!). The slant of the sun has changed, making us squint when we go out at mid-day.

We have been harvesting and drying as many herbs and greens as we can, to last through the winter. Our "temperate tulsi" from Strictly Medicinal Seeds has grown into a sea of leaves and flowers that taste clove-like and sweet. I am very pleased with this plant, and highly recommend the seeds.


I also ordered a Japanese Potted Vine (Immortality Plant) from Strictly Medicinal Seeds, and it is finally starting to take off onto its tomato cage trellis. This one is not cold hardy, so we will have to bring it inside soon.

There are always a few surprises in the gardens (evidence of the existence of fairies?). This year we have a lovely melon plant growing in the middle of the herb garden!



And our pullets surprised us by starting to lay eggs at five months of age, instead of the usual six.


We've been canning tomatoes and peaches, and drying and freezing pears the neighbors gave us, and plums from the local Mennonite bulk store. Our small Bartlett pear tree had its fruit stripped by some creature in the night (probably raccoons), while this pear is still loaded with fruit, which we will be canning soon. We think it is a Comice pear, since it has a grainy texture and thick skin. If we can get all the fruit, there would be enough for around 100 quarts or so of sauce and preserves. Time to buy more jars!


I hope that you have had a fruitful summer as well, in spite of the heat and bug bites!

Love,

Marqueta

***************************
Canning Time by Edgar A. Guest
There’s a wondrous smell of spices

In the kitchen,
Most bewitchin’;
There are fruits cut into slices
That just set the palate itchin’;
There’s the sound of spoon on platter
And the rattle and the clatter;
And a bunch of kids are hastin’
To the splendid joy of tastin’;
It’s the fragrant time of year
When fruit-cannin’ days are here.

There’s a good wife gayly smilin’

And perspirin’
Some, and tirin’;
And while jars on jar she’s pilin’
And the necks o’ them she’s wirin’
I’m a-sittin’ here an’ dreamin’
Of the kettles that are steamin’,
And the cares that have been troublin’
All have vanished in the bubblin’.
I am happy that I’m here
At the cannin’ time of year.

Lord, I’m sorry for the feller

That is missin’
All the hissin’
Of the juices, red and yeller,
And can never sit and listen
To the rattle and the clutter
Of the sound of spoon on platter.
I am sorry for the single,
For they miss the thrill and tingle
Of the splendid time of year
When the cannin’ days are here.

Friday, August 2, 2019

The Garden in August



Dear Friends,

The last full month of summer is now upon us!

Frankie found a tiny kitten when he was looking for a lost baseball in our yard, and fortunately we found someone with a mama cat who took it in until it was weaned (The kitten is not showing signs of being tidy with a litter box, so we will be looking for a new home for him where he can be outside!).



It was quite hot for a while, but we've had some nice cooling rains that have helped us not have to water so much. The lilies were especially lovely in the rain!



Japanese beetles have now almost completely defoliated the hollyhocks and de-flowered the roses, so I'm grateful that we have cameras to capture fleeting moments of perfection.

Japanese beetle damage



......The zinnias, on the other hand, are bothered by nothing!

We grew sword beans for the first time this year, and although they are nicely covering our cattle panel arbor, they have yet to put out any blossoms. Gardening is such a process of trying, trying again and experimenting that you can never tell what results you will get from one year to the next. I usually try to plant many different varieties, hoping that at least something will do well. This year it is proving to be "dragon tongue" beans.


Everyone besides Mr. Graham, Audrey, Hyrum, and I have been performing at the annual "Laura's Memories" outdoor play in honor of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Here are Tasha and Evangeline rehearsing with a few of the other girls~


I hope that you are staying cool and enjoying time spent in nature wherever you are!

Love,

Marqueta

*******************

"When the mind is festering with trouble or the heart torn, we can find healing among the silence of mountains or fields, or listen to the simple, steadying rhythm of waves. The slowness and stillness gradually takes us over. Our breathing deepens and our hearts calm and our hungers relent. When serenity is restored, new perspectives open to us and difficulty can begin to seem like an invitation to new growth.
This invitation to friendship with nature does of course entail a willingness to be alone out there. Yet this aloneness is anything but lonely. Solitude gradually clarifies the heart until a true tranquility is reached. The irony is that at the heart of that aloneness you feel intimately connected with the world. Indeed, the beauty of nature is often the wisest balm for it gently relieves and releases the caged mind."
JOHN O'DONOHUE

Monday, July 1, 2019



Happy July, my friends!

The flowers are starting to take off (the poppies and lilies finally decided to bloom), and so is the heat.



This squash is starting to grow up onto our front steps, which should be interesting by the end of summer. . .


The roses are being attacked by Japanese beetles, so we are out hand-picking them and feeding the beetles to the ducks. I made a video on different uses for rose petals and hips, which make all the hand-picking worth it!

Love,
Marqueta

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Learning From Our Mistakes

Dear Friends,

I've had some things rolling around in my mind lately that I thought I would share with you. First off, it's okay to make mistakes! In fact, most of our learning comes from making our own mistakes. We may glean information from others' experiences from books or word of mouth, try to follow what others have done, and then fail miserably in our attempts, just because our situation is completely unique to ourselves.

For instance: this spring I was watching lots of YouTube videos to learn new things about how to turn our four acres of land into a productive homestead. Justin Rhodes had a set-up with two American Guinea Hogs and thirty chickens in portable electric fencing that beautifully prepared his garden for planting. I thought that sounded like a great idea, so I found a couple of adorable American Guinea x Kune Kune piglets and a dozen hens (on top of a dozen chicks from Tractor Supply) to get started. I noticed that the piglets weren't rooting very much, but a friend reassured me that their snouts were still soft and they would in time. Well, several hundred pounds of feed later, they still would only root a little bit, then start wallowing in one spot. Apparently, Kune Kune aren't able to root well, since their snouts are shorter. These pigs wouldn't eat the grass they were supposed to eat, either, so we ended up selling them before we took our trip out West. From a purely financial point of view, it was a complete disaster, but from the experience point of view, it was a valuable lesson that there are pigs, and then there are pigs! Who knew?



Then there were the chicks we bought last year at the farmers market that turned out to be all roosters except one. What a learning experience THAT was! So this year, I have resisted the cute little chicks peeping at the market, and have gone with chicks that are guaranteed to be pullets.


I could go on and on, but my point is that as long as we are living, we will make mistakes, and that mistakes are perfectly okay! We shouldn't beat ourselves up over them and repeat them to ourselves over and over, punishing ourselves for not knowing better. When we act to the best of our knowledge and ability, then the so-called "mistakes" that happen are just a tool to help us learn and grow. Someone once said, "He who makes no mistakes rarely makes anything." I would encourage you to go out and give life your all, knowing that everything works out in the end, and that those experiences you will gain will be for your benefit in the end.

Love,
Marqueta


"A man sooner or later discovers that he is the master-gardener of his soul, the director of his life."

~James Allen

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

We Took a Little Trip. . .

Dear Friends,

We recently returned from an all-too short trip to see our family members who live in Idaho and Utah. It has been four years since we've been back there, and we figured that this would probably be the last time that all of us could make it together, since the little birdies are bound to fly away from the nest eventually!

We enjoyed the wide open spaces and mountains-




It was wonderful seeing everyone at my mother's house (my nephew and his wife had strep throat, so they wore masks to keep it from spreading to the rest of us), and we had a lovely sing-along.



My brother treated us to the first performance of a song he wrote about Roy Rogers.


We enjoyed the beautiful Latter-Day Saint temple in Idaho Falls,


... along with many beautiful crab apple trees blooming across the river.

Later that week, we visited family in Utah and went to Temple Square in Salt Lake City.


Mr. Graham and I re-enacted our wedding photo from 23 years before. . . kind of.


 And here are a few additional members of the family that weren't around 23 years ago!


 On the way back we stopped at the National Dinosaur Park in Vernal, Utah, since Hyrum loves dinosaurs. 




At last we returned to the green rolling hills of our home state, waiting for us with sticky humidity!


It was a long, long ride in a Suburban full of nine people, but we have wonderful memories to treasure the rest of our lives!


Love,
Marqueta