The Summer of Fruit

Another sweet watermelon

Zinnias in the kitchen garden

purple hulled cowpeas

The pollinators love this Sedum in the front bed.

Little Tansy flowers.

Dried cowpeas

We even harvested a ripe fig this afternoon. We need to move this bush. It doesn’t get enough sun. Just have to figure out where to put it. It will be interesting to see if we get more than just these two figs. The others are still very small and green.

I think fruit has done so well this year because we did not have a late freeze in the spring. They’ve had a long stretch of warm weather. That is coming to an end. The last two nights have been in the 40’s. Very cool for this time of year.

A Little Harvesting

Yesterday morning was absolutely gorgeous. We did some much needed harvesting.

We grew purple pole beans thinking the purple beans would be easier to see. Not the case since the vine is also purple. Though aren’t they beautiful!

Our July felt more like August and now August is feeling more like September. The temperature was in the 50’s Saturday night. Lovely sleeping weather but the tomatoes don’t like it. We are seeing a lot of die back in one of our plants so we harvested the tomatoes to send up to my mom. Hopefully, they will finish ripening for her. So she doesn’t have to wait, we also bought some ripe tomatoes from the Farmers Market on Saturday. Dave took up quite the load of tomatoes for her this morning (on his way to work) which might last her the two weeks until next time.

We have a lot of bitter melon on our vines. It too has slowed down in ripening. I was hoping to let these get a little fatter but we are expecting cool weather this week – 70’s mostly – so I just went ahead and picked them.

Frieda came over to investigate

and pose.

Oregano, thyme and rosemary

I stuffed the bitter melon with ground lamb seasoned with the fresh herbs, sea salt and onion. I then baked it for 40 minutes at 375 degrees. I thought it was very good. Damian thought it was too bitter and Dave wouldn’t try it.

We’ve had so little rain this summer that this was a very welcome sight this morning. We had at least 3 hours of steady rain. Hallelujah!

Evening in the Kitchen Garden

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Borage and oregano

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Boneset, calendula and borage

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Borage, calendula and purple coneflowers

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Borage – the bees love it.

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Elecampane

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Boneset, elecampane and purple coneflower

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Calendula and purple coneflower

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Boneset, elecampane and calendula

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Cucumber trellis on the left and sugar snap pea trellis on the right.

Boulders or Just Very Large Rocks

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They brought in what I would call one boulder and two very large rocks. This is how they got them off the truck.

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Kale, herbs and onion. Some for mom and some for us.

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Our neighbors cows.

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The calves look like dogs when they run around.

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The landscaping crew is very meticulous in their work.

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This boulder is large enough for two people to sit on. I foresee it being more of a cat lounge.

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The large rock on the right was already here. They moved it from where the soil is dark on the left side of the photo. The contract says the boulders will be artistically placed. I rather liked where it was before but I’m open to this new arrangement.

 

Later in the Morning

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I headed out to check on the chicks again and to harvest some elderberry flowers. They smell so sweet.

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So many chicks – you can see some, others are under Emmylou and still more are under the brooder. Good thing I went out because they were trapped and I had to lift it so they could escape. We took care of it so they can’t get trapped again this evening.

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This little chick is pecking at Emmylou. It is so cute when they do this. Often they peck at her eyes. She tolerates it well.

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Only one and two days old and Emmylou has them out of the barn and learning to forage.

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A late morning cup of elderberry flower tea.

Evening in the Barn Garden

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The onions appear to be doing well.

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One of the elderberry bushes.

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Not many blueberries on our bushes. We need to look into why that is.

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A butternut squash seedling.

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I think this is an okra seedling. At least that is what I remember taking a photo of.  Somehow this doesn’t look like what I remember. Will have to check tomorrow. I think we need more sun and heat for these to really take off. Same for the sweet potatoes. June 1 (June already!) – yes, the above is a beautiful little okra seedling – can’t wait to eat some freshly harvested okra sauteed in lard with some freshly harvested onion.

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Our volunteer marigolds. I’ve never had them volunteer before. I’m thinking it is due to the very mild winter we just had. Or maybe it was seed from a special plant. We’ve been growing and saving seed from a french heirloom variety (Naughty Marietta) for a few years now.

Winter Chores and Chickens

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Oatmeal and dried nettle for our chickens. A special, healthy treat for them.

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We pruned the lilacs. You can see our pile of cuttings is larger than the lilac bushes on both sides of the arbor gate. They say you shouldn’t cut more than a third away but these bushes hadn’t been pruned in years.

Throughout the past week, Dave spent a little time each day shredding branches that were piled up in the orchard from last year and over the weekend he tackled these lilac branches and those from the elderberry bushes which we also pruned last week.

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Dave moving some compost to the garden beds. The horse manure we added in the fall turned our compost into gold.

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Chickens enjoying the composted beds.

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Chickens in the compost

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And getting a late afternoon snack. The hen in front must be one of the older hens. They are much more likely to approach us.

These photos were taken over the past week. We’ve had really crazy weather. A couple days in the 40’s and then a couple days in the 60’s and repeat.

Some Fall Color

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I had trouble photographing these hawthorn berries. My friend and herbalist came over last weekend to harvest some of them. They make good medicine for the heart. We made sure to leave plenty for the birds.

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The paw paw tree is showing beautifully this year.

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Wood we stacked late last winter.

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A small stand of trees between the stacked wood and the paw paw. Not crazy about the pines – we have so much. In the undergrowth is an oak and what we think are some cherry trees. We pruned out the honeysuckle bushes.

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See the little brussel sprouts on the stalk at the base of the leaves. We had such a hard time with bugs this year. So hoping these sprouts remain unharmed.

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A little color from our serviceberry tree.

Catching Up In the Garden

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We opened up the barn garden to the chickens and ducks.

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We had a couple of people here from The Natural Garden in Harrisonburg. They were very impressed with our meadow.

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Marigolds next to the compost.

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The garden spider greeted us for several weeks as we opened and closed the gate to the barn garden.

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Dave walks by our volunteer cherry tomato plant growing on the compost fence.

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Freda inspects the boneset. I harvested it for my herbalist. She said it is good for fevers.

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Pretty, too.

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It was great to have some young people here helping us through the alternative economy – hOUR Economy. They worked and we fed them and they camped out on our property. We really enjoyed their company and I think they had a good time, too.

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Two of the guys helped Dave install gutters on the back of the barn for a water catchment system.

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Dan, Kurt, Meghan, Tim and Savhannah.

They helped out others over a four day period and biked form place to place. We’re talking 15-25 miles between work sites. To have that energy!

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Our bushel basket gourds didn’t get bushel size – more like quart size.

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As I was walking to the barn one afternoon about a half dozen bluebirds flew off the pasture fence into our big, old oak tree.

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I can see two bluebirds in each of the above photos.

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Just some of the butternut we harvested.

11-11 update – finally estimated how much butternut we harvested this year. I counted 85 at approximately 2 lbs. each. So that’s about 170 lbs.! I think butternut is about $2 a lb. in the store so about $340 worth!

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Just after we opened the kitchen garden to the ducks.

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And finally, here is the water catchment.

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We got a lot of rain late September to early October. We were amazed at how the water accumulated so quickly. Dave has already used it to water our brussel sprouts and an artimesia (wormwood) we transplanted to the barnyard. It helps prevent worms in chickens.