July 26, 2017

A Little Progress on the Goat Barn (Formerly Dan's Workshop)

"What? A new barn for us?"

Well, not a barn yet but eventually. Current progress is the addition of a few posts.

In the back - posts to frame out a wide sliding barn door.

In the front - a stable door will go between the two new posts on the left.

 In the middle - posts to support the hay loft.

It's slow going because the joints have to be cut. So that's it for the moment.

"Barn, shmarn. We'll believe it when we see it."

© July 2017  by Leigh  at http://www.5acresandadream.com/

July 23, 2017

Summer Days in the Garden

When the daytime highs reach the mid-nineties, (mid-thirties C), something in me switches to pick-and-preserve mode. It just seems like that's what I ought to be doing, and it is!

We're enjoying fresh steamed beans & I'm canning
canning as many as I can. These are Tendergreens.

Summer squash is doing well. I only have about 3 or 4
plants because we all know how prolific it can be!

I've tried a number of varieties over the years, but the standard
yellows seem to do best. Love these sauteed with onion & basil.

I planted cushaw for winter squash where I planted clover as a
living mulch. Cushaw has always done well for me, although
the clover is beginning to wilt from the hot dry weather.

I have two varieties of tomatoes, Homestead and
a  Roma type. The Romas are struggling with
anthracnose, unfortunately, which seems to be
a recurring problem for me with paste types.

I have one row of sweet potatoes that seem happy. For the past couple
years, however, I've grown my own slips and never gotten very many.
I'm not sure why, but would honestly love about 4 - 6 times as many.

Okra is a favorite and doing well. We eat it
oven fried and it freezes without blanching.

Lots of cucumbers too! We're eating plenty fresh
and I'm restocking my shelves with lots of pickles.

My several rows of popcorn are doing well. 

Field corn. Half of the patch has done well, the other
half has no ears! I suspect nitrogen deficiency. I
plan to cut those plants back and dry for stover.

Amaranth has only done so-so. This is a
feed crop for me so the more the better.

No shows for me this year have been Swiss chard, which I planted twice! No joy with watermelons either. I had half a dozen indoor starts that didn't make it, and neither did the seeds I planted directly in the ground to replace them.

In the fruits and nuts department, we had no peaches or almonds this year, even though there were plenty of blossoms! No strawberries either, because I lost all my plants in last summer's horrific heat and drought. The apple harvest will be okay, although less abundant than last year.

This Gala is still a little green but has good flavor.

Pear trees have produced only a few, so I'm not expecting much of a harvest there. A first this year will be my Japanese persimmon!

First time for fruiting this year, four of them!

I planted it in my first hedgerow two years ago and confess I haven't given it a lot of nurturing. It's had to struggle on it's own but it's survived and beginning to produce! We have a wild persimmon too, but it's so tall that the only way to get fruit is the ones that fall to the ground. Critters both tame and wild keep the area pretty well cleaned up, however, so there's never any left for us. Even so, those fruits are small compared to the Japanese variety!

Another first will be crabapples.

I'm thinking pectin and jelly!

This is the first year I've gotten more than only 5 or 6 of them!

Blueberries and figs are my old faithfuls.

Even though it's been cooler this summer and with more
rain, the blueberries haven't produced as well as last year.

Figs are usually ready for harvest in August.

So there's my mid-summer garden report. How about you?

Summer Days in the Garden © July 2017 

July 20, 2017

Something For My Wish List

My bow -

Genesis Gen-X. (This model
is now called the X-Dawn).

I love my Gen-X, but ooh-la-la, here's the one I would absolutely love to have -

Oneida Eagle Kestrel

The Kestrel is my dream bow and likely to remain that way. Unless, that is, I ever have a spare $1400 that I don't know what to do with. ☺

July 17, 2017

Dehydrating Cheese

The other day I cleaned out the fridge in my pantry. This is the smallish second one I use for extra milk, garden pickings, eggs, seeds, and flour. Tucked away at the back of the very bottom were a couple round of goat cheese I'd made in September 2015! They were pretty hard and pretty sharp, so I decided to try my hand at dried powdered cheese.

The first step was to cut it into small pieces and grate it in my blender.

I spread it out on parchment paper and placed in my dehydrator on low.

It took about ten hours to dry. Because of the oils (butterfat) it was a little
clumpy. Some people dry theirs on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. 

 To remove the clumps I ran it through the blender again.

Even though I'll store it in the fridge, I
still vacuum sealed it for better keeping.

To serve, I just add a lid from an old Parmesan
cheese container and reseal when we're done.

Dan likes Parmesan cheese, so this is something I've wanted to try. I think it's tastier than the dried Parmesan from the grocery store. But then, mine doesn't contain sawdust cellulose powder or anit-clumping agents. Mine is all real cheese. 😊

Dehydrating Cheese © July 2017 by Leigh

July 14, 2017

Dan's Workshop: Second Thoughts

Or maybe it's third, fourth, sixth, or tenth thoughts; I've lost track.

It started when the hay mow in the goat barn started to get full.

We designed it to hold about six round bales of hay. But our own hay harvest has been abundant this year (plus wheat) and since we stack it unbaled, it's beginning to look like the mow may not be able to hold all we can harvest. (Which we would rather do than buy hay.) What to do?

You may recall that what I've been calling "Dan's Workshop" was originally supposed to be my new goat barn. The current goat barn (then the "Little Barn") was to become the workshop and storage building. We changed those plans after a lament that we seemed to be stuck permanently in the building/establishment stage of our homesteading. Getting established (fencing, housing, gardens, storage, etc.) does take some time (especially when homesteading can't be a full-time endeavor - I know many of you can relate!), but that wasn't the main goal in becoming homesteaders. The main goal is to live closer to the land and develop a lifestyle of seasonal living.

I figured we it would be easier and faster to streamline the building process by skipping the hay loft and making the structure Dan's workshop. Then we could move on to other things.

In discussing where to store the rest of the summer's hay harvest, Dan convinced me that this building is going to be a job of work either way. He felt that with a hay loft this structure would be better for the goats, and that the "Little Barn" would be better suited for a workshop, plus equipment and lumber storage.

I admit the Little Barn is not the most convenient set-up for goats, but I was willing to live with it so that we could finally reach the end of this tunnel of trying to get established and move on. We spent no little time discussing it, with the result that Dan got started on a hay loft. He had already cut most of the lumber for it anyway.

So, the original goat barn, then Dan's workshop, is now the goat barn once again. Confused? Well, I can't say "me too," but I can say that deep down I'm kinda glad.