Posted by: oceannah | December 15, 2013

Merry & Bright

Christmas wreath home made

Some lovely greens from the back forty to make the front of the house festive

The weather here is full on winter.  We had about 9 inches of snow on top of the couple inches from the other day.  I took the snowshoes out for a stroll in the back lot and collected some greens to make some wreaths.  At first it just looked like a heap of nothing…

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Posted by: oceannah | September 30, 2013

snafu

So I’ve had an interesting snafu with my email.  Turns out the encrypted server I was using lavabit,.com was also the server of one Edward Snowden.  As the NSA leaned on lavabit owner Ladar Levison to cough up info, Levison stood his ground.  But that left me without email.  What to do now??  I’m no fan of gmail or cloud computing to tell the truth, but there are not many small encrypted servers left.

I have set up an account and I did in fact take the time to re-route my blog information to the new email, but something must still be askew.  I’ll put in a word to the wordpress folks and hope they can help me figure out where my updates & comments are being shunted off to…  Meantime, please know I appreciate all your visits and comments!  I don’t stop in here as frequently as I’d like [to have time for] but I do check in and will respond to each comment when I do.

 

Autumn is in full swing here.  Our apple trees are downright fruity since we trimmed them this past winter.  The winter squashes are curing up.  Garlic is about to be sorted and then planted/stored as size dictates.  And yes…I’ve been fantasizing about tulips again.  I know this is probably a bad idea as I currently have two spike bucks as regular visitors, rather tame ones at that.  Last week I approached one and was about 8 feet from his muzzle as he lazily munched a fallen apple.  The thought of butchering a deer and the knowledge of how much work it is to make buckskin allows these young fellows to keep their skins intact…but I do have thoughts ;)

Wishing you all a blessed and joyous October!

*anna

Posted by: oceannah | September 15, 2013

Pumpkins

new england pie pumpkinsI brought these in a bit early as I was out in the garden and found one of the largest pumpkins drilled out by chipmunks.  There are more out there, but they are greener than I’d like so hopefully they’ll color up/mature before being eaten by rodents.

The blasted tomatoes have been pretty much a total failure; late blight.  So sad to see them just wither up and drop dead while filled with green tomatoes.  I had a notion to allow the tomatoes to ripen on what was left of the vine, but that was a bad choice as without their foliage the tomatoes became sunburned.

I must say the sweet potatoes appear to be vying for ‘crop of the season.’  They look fantastic and after a wee sneak peak, appear to be filling out.  Hopefully that will continue but our weather has become rather cold and I’m not quite sure what they can tolerate.  This is our first year growing sweets so everything is new.  It’s nice to have one crop out there that is not bogged down by some pest or another.

It’s a bit hard to believe that summer is over.  We’ve begun our school year and it is nice to get back to some kind of schedule.  Teaching Moby Dick this semester is proving to be fun.

Not too long before the snow flies…must face some facts and get back to more serious leg workouts as ski season is around the corner.

Blessings to you all :)

*anna

Posted by: oceannah | August 17, 2013

Summer finally slows down a bit

long view of a bit of the summer garden...it's a chaos of green and the deep mulch seems to be helping with weed suppresion

long view of a bit of the summer garden…it’s a chaos of green and the deep mulch seems to be helping with weed suppression

It’s been a very busy summer!  We had some fun traveling days to Boston & Concord MA as well as the shore.  We’ve kept the garden going along nicely in spite of the weather extremes.  The deep mulch is working nicely.  Although we’d hoped to visit the Grand Canyon in these waning days of summer, that will not happen for a variety of reasons…mostly time constraints.

Here are a couple pictures of what’s been happening on the homestead.  I’ve implemented Heidi’s no blanch method with the copious amounts of Rattlesnake green beans and just popped them right into the freezer.  Although we have loads of tomatoes there isn’t a single one that is even blushing yet.  MANY bags of collards and kale have found their way into the freezer and the garlic & onion crops have been harvested and are curing up in the barn.  For the first time ever we’ve felt the need to buy the Japanese beetle traps.  My cucumbers are not producing well and the vines are yellowing out, I think it’s something viral.  The apple trees look very promising and the red raspberries were pretty much a bust.  If the birds are slow or I am quick, elderberries will be a good bet.  The winter squash are all in fine fettle and many pumpkins are already sized up nicely.

Just a few days ago we sowed some late crops of broccoli rabe, pac choi, salad greens, and a variety of lettuces.  Since the summer squashes got unruly I yanked a bunch out- I mean how much zucchini can one eat?  However in a month or so we’ll probably want some more so I planted a late bit of green and yellow summer squash.  We’ll see if they make or not.

 

grass fed burger w/ guac

grilled grass fed burger from Kingbird Farm on a bed of greens w/ grilled onions and fresh guacamole. Summer Food!

one goal for this years garden was to grow the most expensive to purchase produce...organic raddichio runs 5-7$/lb and we love it

one goal for this years garden was to grow the most expensive to purchase produce…organic raddichio runs 5-7$/lb and we love it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

organic summer greens

organic summer greens…simply cannot go wrong here!

thoreau's grave site

in Boston and Concord MA we did some sight seeing and of course wouldn’t miss the walk along Author’s Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery resting place of HD Thoreau, Emerson, LM Alcott as well as the grave of sculptor Daniel Chester French

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

celtic cross headstone

another beautiful headstone at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

atlantic ocean

summer = shore, ’nuff said

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bee balm

keeping the hummingbirds & bees content and enjoying the wonderful aroma of the bee balm

I hope the tail end of your summer finds you all well and rested.  Aside from dealing with a significant email snafu, things here are returning to a modest roar.  Cheers!

*anna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: oceannah | July 15, 2013

Berries Black & Blue

Black Raspberries

It’s that time of the year again…been fighting the mosquitoes while berry picking though.

It’s been a week filled with massive quantities of phyto-nutrients.  The black raspberries are on and a recent hike up the Shawangunks found us surrounded by low bush blueberries.  That particular hike I believe we probably ate about a pound of blueberries each and picked for take home as well.  I forgot my camera and it’s too bad.  There are some great stone sculptures up on top of the ridge.  Also a very industrious shade shelter made of scavenged wood and rocks.

Gunx

This is the Shawangunk Ridge in all its glory.   Amongst all that gorgeous greenery there are copious amounts of low bush and high bush blueberries.  (photo from OSINY) 

 

GNX

The ridge has some spectacular outcroppings. From one vista we could see  Slide Mt. the highest peak in the Catskill range (4180+) as well as  Cornell, and Wittenberg Mountains.  (photo from gonamad)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to the berries…  I had thought to make a post all about making no sugar (nor sugar substitute) jam, but well, life got busy.  Basically it goes like this:  Pick yourself a mess of berries.  In the case of raspberries we prefer them without the seeds so they get a run through the Foley food mill.  Cook the berries down until the foaming subsides, add pectin and place in sterile jars with lids.  Can for 15 minutes in a water bath canner.  We wound up with 9 half pints or just over a half gallon of scrumptious organic black raspberry jam with no added sweetener.  Yum.

raspberries in foley food mill

The raspberries get run through the mill and the seeds are left behind. This simple step makes the jam much more enjoyable, and doesn’t take much effort at all.

The garden is cruising along and since the massive rains have departed has perked up considerably…with the dubious exception of the sweet potatoes.  These are about a 100 day crop and right now in our garden we are looking at plants that would be totally awesome if it was June 1.  For mid-July though I think the only chance of them making is if we have a very long hot autumn.

The Spring cruciferous rows have been harvested and many bags of kale, cauliflower and broccoli have found their way into the freezer.  As I mentioned earlier we chose to not grow a corn crop this year in favor of really filling the freezer with good organic greens, the most expensive and hard to come by food for us in winter.

cauliflower and kale

A few more bags of freezer fodder…

What kind of week have you had?  How does your garden grow?  I’m glad you’ve popped in and set a spell, it’s good to take a breather.  Have a berry-licious week!

*anna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: oceannah | July 9, 2013

50, the 4th & the freezer

sunrise ovet the Atlantic ocean

This sunrise greeted me on my birthday. We spent a few days celebrating at one of our favorite spots on the shore.

Summer is here in full swing after a very spastic spring.  I’m officially fifty years old now, and feeling terrific about making it to this birthday…once upon a time a brief 10 years ago, this landmark was no certainty.

We celebrated the fourth in a rather sedate manner.  After harvesting a row of broccoli and preparing it for the freezer we relaxed and listened to a radio broadcast of a reading of Lincoln’s second inaugural address.  Often we head to fireworks but this year we skipped the crowds and chaos for a mellow evening.

As global weirding of weather continues, patterns, be they dry or wet are tending to stick around longer than normal.  We’ve seen this unfold right here on our little homestead.  A Spring that alternated between weeks of wet and weeks of dry.  Now with Summer full on, we are having extended periods of very hot humid weather (unusual for the mountains) followed by more rains.  It is interesting to be a gardener in these days.

Speaking of gardening, ours is flourishing.  Our decision to use a heavily mulched system this year is proving positive.  The one glitch out there is that a packet of seed that I planted which was clearly labeled ‘lancianto kale’ grew up to be collard greens.  All in all not a terrible burden, but I already had a row of collards.  There’s also the usual ups and downs out there.  The flats that were seeded out for the fall crops mostly did great with the exception of the Brussels sprouts.  Pretty much a complete failure of the flat, only three seeds emerged.  I ended up purchasing another packet of seed and although it’s late I got them plunked into new flats about 12 days ago.  With 95 days to maturity, they might make, or they may not…the perpetual gardening gamble.

 

strawberry jam home canned

We had a good strawberry harvest and put up some jam made without any added sugars/sweeteners. It’s a bit less firm than regular jam but the taste is pure strawberry

 

strawberry jam cooking

cooking off the jam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

broccoli row

A nice row of broccoli to harvest.

We froze about 2/3 of our spring broccoli crop in 1.5# bags.  The remainder is for fresh eating.  We'll have a larger crop for the fall.  There's also a wee bit of cauliflower and two small bags of tat soi.

We froze about 2/3 of our spring broccoli crop in 1.5# bags. The remainder is for fresh eating. We’ll have a larger crop for the fall. There’s also a wee bit of cauliflower and two small bags of tat soi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kale and radicchio

The kale is growing great! Next to it is a row of radicchio.

 

drying nettles

These four nice bunches of nettles will be mixed with dried peppermint for an awesome and healthy tea all winter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

frozen strawberries

The remainder of the strawberries in the deep freeze. 

basil pesto frozen

Timing is everything. I got some basil from a local farm but did not have olive oil in the house…I used butter instead and it turned out just as yummy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

peonies

what’s a garden without a few flowers?

 

 

elderberries

elderberries are blooming and should be a good crop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s the garden wrap up folks…  I hope you all are enjoying the summer :)

*anna

 

Posted by: oceannah | June 21, 2013

The longest day

bleeding heart

Happy Summer Solstice!

The weather here has begun to cooperate a smidgen.  We were able to have a full sunny day with all the wonderful activities of summer; swimming, baseball, a short run, the playground and meals outside.  We capped it with a fire and all is well.

Not quite as wonderful in the garden…I have some marauding thief who likes strawberries as much as we do.  It’s probably a chipmunk.  Several traps have been set so hopefully yields will increase.

Enjoy the longest day my friends…tomorrow will have a wee bit less daylight.

*anna

Posted by: oceannah | June 14, 2013

Summer goals and plans

radiant sky Rain in great abundance has been falling daily.  The garden has been ok mostly, but if this weather pattern continues there will be consequences to the plants.  On the up-side, such weather provided us with the above shot one evening at sunset.

On other news I’ve started a personal best summer challenge with the BFFM group.  I realized that simply saying I want to get fit or lose weight were a bit meaningless, as I’ve done both.  So what to do now that I can say with gusto that I am fit?  Aiming for personal best’s on my lifts has become my summer challenge.  Currently I am at 80# squats and my goal by September will be to Squat my body weight (+ or – 150 pounds, depending if I gain muscle/lose some stray flab ;) ).  Speaking of flab, my current body composition is running about 27% bf.  By the end of summer I hope to bring that number down to about 20%, very do-able.

Since I’ll be 50 in a few more weeks another goal of my summer challenge will be to do 50 fully prone pushups!  That is a great challenge for me as I’ve had a lot of surgery and have only recently “graduated” to the fully prone pushup.  Currently I do 3 sets of 5 followed by one set of 10 for a total of 20.  However my goal of 50 is without rests between as I am doing now…cheer me on, I’m going to need it.

How grows your garden or what plans are you making to improve your fitness levels this summer?  Are any of you planning an awesome vacation?  Our summer is shaping up to be full but fun.  I hope the same is true for you.

 

*anna

Posted by: oceannah | May 29, 2013

Garden Update

 

iris

Beautiful Irises are filling the beds up…a bit too much. Must make a note to divide them this fall.

 

 

 

Cruciferous row

cabbage to the left, broccoli to the right here I am stuck in the middle with hay. This year we are using a high protien hay mulch in the ongoing effort to keep weeds down and improve soil tilth.

organic salad greens

Finally time to stop buying those rather lame boxed salad mixes…HOORAY!

winter cutting lettuce

more tasty cut and come again lettuce

kale organic

the kale (winterbore here) is coming along great! There’s also a long row of lancianto on the next row

asparagus stalks

What would spring pics of the garden be without asparagus? Ours is still a bit tentative with the erratic weather…two days ago we had a pretty hard frost, and today up to 80′s!

red romaine

These are planted tight. I’ll harvest one small and let the other come on to full size.

There’s more to share but time I just got a message that the connection to server was lost and this message will vanish when re-connecting.  I’ll give it a go and hope for the best…computer has been squirrely all morning.

*anna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: oceannah | May 21, 2013

terror in tiny town

There will be no photos, however some of the details will be appropriately graphic.

In the absence of our wonderful mama hen, Henny Penny we were forced to resort to raising up a brood of chicks ourselves.  We purchased half a dozen of each Araucana and RSL day old’s from the local Agway.  For the first few weeks (while they were still cute and fluffy) they lived in a crate in the office.  About three weeks ago we began taking them out in the yard in a small enclosed pen.  It was only about a fortnight since we moved them full time into the hen house in the barn with their own crate and warming light…oh the sorrow of motherless children.  Each day we would bring them into the moveable crate in the yard for sunshine and fresh air.  I must say that without a mama to show them the ropes, they were none to quick to pick up hunt for bugs.

Yesterday was a fine day, after the morning dross burned off.  So we moved the kids out to their yard and proceeded with the day.  As usual, I would peek in on them from time to time…listening to their peeping and watch them jumping up onto the roosting limb and flying off.  The crate we were using was a large flexible metal panel pen that can change shape/size depending on how it is placed.  It had an open top and was easy to use.  To provide some shade for the chicks we placed two of the patio chairs up near the crate to cast a shadow.  I checked the water and food then ran off to the gym and to run an errand.  When I returned it was a bit later than planned so I went directly outside to start the grill…it was way too quiet.

I went over to the crate and there lay all the chicks save two.  It is unclear if the two were eaten on the spot or carted off.  Several of the chicks were missing their heads only.   A few looked un-mauled, as if they simply died of fright. There was a great pile of feathers on the ground and some scattered about halfway up the crate wall (a climber?).  We ruled out raccoon since it was broad daylight.  Foxes although a possibility seem unlikely since there were so many left behind.  Fox are very smart and I can’t imagine one leaving that much food on the ground.  I’ve seen my cats eat mice and they usually always start with the head, which is why I’m thinking ‘cat’.

Our best guess is that it was either a feral cat or, less likely a bird of prey.  The crate, although large for chicks and open on top, would have been an awkward target for a bird.  The placement of the chairs could have given advantage to a cat, as the crate walls are about 3.5 feet high.  Sigh.  We knew that raising chicks without a mama hen would not be a simple matter.  Henny Penny never lost a single babe.  A light bulb is a poor substitute for a wise and loving mama.

So the terror the poor things faced in the end was probably extreme.  Woe to the last chick to fall.  We also noticed our poodle pup was beside himself.  It is very likely that he was witness to the destruction and was stuck in the house unable to protect with anything more than a bark.  He was a disconsolate and came outside to lay by the crate.  The remainder of the evening he ran around the yard barking and growling low in his chest.  All in all, a bummer of a day.

Have you ever raised up a brood of chicks without a mama hen to supervise the job?  We have had many many years of predator free chickens.  I know it’s not common I know folks do it but I don’t think we will venture into that fray any time too soon again.

*anna

 

 

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