Life never ceases to amaze us. Things have been so extremely busy lately between preparing our daughter for her final year of high school and doing college prep, doctor appointments for me and the dog, and keeping up with our ever-growing chicken flocks and rabbit tribe – WOW! With all the upside-downs and slippery slopes, it’s no surprise we made it through July with no newsletter! Now it is September! To save ourselves some stress we thought it best to just combine the last couple of months into one concise blog. Read on!
On July 22nd Brady hit his 7th month of his life. As I look at him, it’s so hard to process that much time has passed even though he is quite the large lap dog. His puppy ways are fighting against adolescence. He has become a tad bit more stubborn, which is to be expected as we muddle through this next phase.
Training is going well. Did you know that service dogs must learn a minimum of 30 commands? Brady is knocking them out one by one. In fact, as soon as he hears the treat bag he heels. It’s quite the spectacle. I assure you you’ve never seen a “shake” performed in such an adorable manner. However, mamas tend to be partial. We hope to get a video of him showing off his newly acquired skills in September.
Brady gave us a big scare when a large golf-sized spot began to grow under his neck over a hot July weekend. By Monday morning it was pushing tennis-ball size! As soon as the vet was opened we called and got worked in. It was an infected cyst. It had to be surgically drained. Brady spent the night. It only took a nice long nap and a bowl of food to reset him back to his normal shenanigans. Him is a tough boy. Mama on the other hand is not so tough and cried all the way home from the office. Isn’t it amazing how quickly we become emotionally connected with our fur babies? I think this is what God purposed for us when he created them – a loyal, loving bond.
Gigantor Squash & Small Pumpkin
Farming with friend’s and family makes the process that much more enjoyable. For us, the exchange of seeds and seedlings with our garden buddies is a fun way to keep growing exciting. This year we were able to see results from one of the beautiful winter squash and pumpkins we received from fellow growing enthusiasts. We should have placed hammocks under these large winter squash which we believe to be a cushaw variety. One harvested itself due to its own weight being more than the vine could bear. This is to be expected being that these Squash weighed 8 – 10 lbs! There was no need to be too upset as we could use these immature ones as summer squash. Those would be the green ones in the gallery below. Afterwards, we made a hammock for the one that was hanging higher. It just so happened that the others were lying on the ground and needed no support. Those would be the tan to orange-looking ones in the photo gallery below. We enjoyed cooking two different recipes with them. Both were delicious and fed the family all week long! If you are looking for crops to feed large a family we suggest growing a few cushaw plants. We harvested 4 off one plant. Next year it would be very nice to get at least 12 for the season. This would give us one a month as the year progressed. That is ideal, however, we will not be sure until we know just how well these hold up to storage. We will let you know. If you would like to see a bit more about our harvest and cooking of these beauties check out this video.
Oh and there was mention of pumpkins. Since we had such a good harvest last year, which we have not even begun to use, we were planning on leaving it off the planting list this year. However, when friends offer you free organic seedlings you just do not say no. We did have to pull them far earlier than we wanted resulting in harvesting a few that were still green. It is my belief that the green ones can be used as a summer squash. If so we will be using them as such.
Hoopty Empty Yet Flourishing
As you open the door to Hoopty you are teleported to another world. It is humid & lush with growth. The tall, dark green leaves of the roselle reach for the sky but are unable to get there due the weight on their stems. The beautiful other-worldly looking calyces are growing quickly. It is time to begin harvesting. With temperatures upwards of 110° – 120° during the day, this must be done early in the morning or late in the evening, that is if one wants to do so safely. While the roselle enjoys the extreme temperatures, not much else does. The only other surviving plants in the high tunnel are a few perennial herbs, some basil & zinnias, and about 6 or so eggplant bushes.
Dormant rows in Hoopty that have been allowed to lay fallow over the summer will soon be awakened for Fall Planting. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Kale, Arugula – to name a few – should all be planted by the time we type up our next blog.
A Second Chance Fall Garden
This Spring and Summer held many challenges for my own personal health but also that of others in the family. This kept me away from the farm when the farm really needed my attention. We didn’t harvest nearly as much as we usually plan for our own food storage and preservation. This the whole reason for living the homesteading life – to feed our family clean, fresh produce! Since our Summers tend to be long in that the temperatures usually take a while to drop, we are replanting staple Summer grown foods. It is almost like we get a second chance to get it right! Among these second chance crops are squash, zucchini, okra, and cucumbers. We decided to really give it a shot and even restarted eggplant, tomatoes, and some melon varieties as well. Time will tell if we will find success or not. However, it will never be said that we didn’t try!
What Can I Purchase From Your Farm?
If you had asked us that question just a week ago we would have said: “weeds”! Truthfully, the heat has killed much of the produce that was growing and the pests have taken the rest. This is to be expected this time of year. Egg production has risen and fallen several times. However, we are able to keep eggs in stock for now. This is largely in part to the girls of the February hatch-out having begun to lay. The roos are absolutely stunning! I just can not bear to part with any of them, so we are working on integration now. So far, so good! If you will recall, when we had multiple roosters hatch before, we allowed them to grow up together, and they naturally adjusted to each other, developing an interesting method of “managing” the ladies. One key is to make sure there are enough hens per rooster. Right now, our numbers are balancing out perfectly. Soon, though, we will need to thin our flock by removing hens and roos coming out of their prime. This makes sure we have a steady supply of eggs and the ability to sustain our own flocks by using our own fertilized eggs to grow.
As far as the growing, our roselle leaves are listed under leafy greens on our shop page. These are a great addition to salads or good all on their own. Our tea stock is increasing as we harvest roselle leaves and calyxes and dehydrate them. Eggplants will be listed as they are harvested. If you are looking for other items, please check back in a couple of months as many new items should be ready for harvesting.
Thanks for bearing with us and our delayed blogs. We ask for your continued support by liking and sharing our blogs and our videos on our YouTube channel. It is such a small thing but it helps! Till next time…