Canning and back to work

Last week was a long one! Going back to work means prepping for a new school year and SO many meetings. (And sitting in seats made for 8 year olds during those meetings!) I am absolutely exhausted by the end of the day! But, everything will be ready by the first day for my students!

I have been able to get in the garden several nights this week and had a few nice harvests! I need to make so much more out of tomatoes!

6E219567-19F4-4FDD-8B65-26BC6B773923
Nice harvest right out of the yard! 

We also had our stand set up this weekend! We had lots of customers!

3CE80599-A9B7-45FD-B4ED-8974A731B1F2
Our tiny produce stand 
B8B5C939-F0C7-4276-8B21-FC6263C0D745
All of the tomatoes still left after the sale! 
3EBBBAAA-14B3-4F86-9D72-F95BB0E44A48
Some salsa ready canned and delicious! 

We finally had to take out the trash. Our goal for the year is to only make 6 bags, so I am thinking that we should be ok!

6D82C66A-2A7F-4709-A84A-9EC2AE6BEB0B
Bag 3 and both dogs made it in the picture! 

We also did the compost pickup today. It takes a lot of scrubbing and cleaning, but we only upcycle unwanted containers for the compost. The regular buckets are from a company’s laundry detergent and the left are kitty litter containers.

45AF297A-2438-4A8C-8A7C-AE53979397EE
Upcycled and ready to be used! 

And check out how much we have composted so far:

8511A7E9-B871-4640-8DD6-0961352E5BB3
717.24 pounds!!!!

And last, but no least, we found 13 more monarch caterpillars that we will be raising and releasing!

7ECD557D-0C66-4169-8035-CF37B6E57DCB
So many babies! 

And our last 2 were ready to be released on Thursday! 1 girl and 1 boy! (The girl flew away immediately!)

A6080F69-163B-49DD-8D4B-A33F5AB3A754
This handsome fellow even posed for me! 

I’m looking forward to getting myself back in the work routine and hopefully having a great school year! Keep blooming! 🌱❤️

Looking for the sunshine

Over the past few evenings, we have been getting so frustrated with trying to trap a raccoon that has managed to eat 2 chickens and scare a third one. The chickens are on extreme lockdown right now.

801D4B83-913D-46E5-9752-60603F1E5F57
Little trash panda 😢

But, this is just part of taking care and raising anything. It’s frustrating, breaks your brain while looking for a solution and makes you feel like a failure. Instead of focusing on the negative at hand, I decided to look for some things that are going right at the moment. So, here are a few rainbows among the storm:

52FCC9A2-789C-4786-B9DF-A377B2BD67B0
Found a beautiful monarch caterpillar on the milkweed!
1AA0204F-ED00-4471-ADB4-DD83BDEECB30
The zinnias are blooming and are gorgeous! 
A2E81510-BE87-458D-9428-DDCCA50C770F
This is a beautiful nicotiana flower! It has such a beautiful scent! 
BB3CA7CF-7359-4E7B-AE00-0FC24EFD79F1
A pale yellow sunflower with native bee
68AE5924-50A5-4766-8505-6FFD3DBA7CFE
A honeybee on the cucamelon blooms

Then, I spent the evening preserving some of the leftover produce from the sale on the weekend.

31BB7CD7-3933-4C86-A7E3-918F973C5A2B
Cucamelon and cucumber fridge pickles 
90D547B1-B897-42C0-ABCD-C34C36B72708
Tiny amount of blackberry jam. (And this reminded me so much of my Granny!) 

And this definitely made me feel better! This is a little before and now picture:

A124B59B-2966-4025-BDFA-06604966EB0B
The top is May and the bottom is now 

Anyone else dealing with garden or animal issues? Try to remember that while some things are bringing you down, there are still lots of successes out there! Keep blooming! 🌱💚

Growing Popcorn

Last summer one new thing that we tried our green thumb on was popcorn. We grew 2 varieties: strawberry popcorn, on the right and a mixed color variety on the left.

We noticed right away the height difference between the 2 varieties! The strawberry popcorn was much shorter than the colored variety. It also seemed like the ears of corn developed faster on the strawberry variety.

IMG_9185
Popcorn stalks

I left the corn on the plant to dry as long as they could and when the cold weather started setting in, we pulled the cobs off and brought them in to dry out the rest of the way.

Just now, in January, we decided to shell the corn. At first, we tried to just use our fingers, and that was painful. And then we read where if you rub 2 cobs together, they will come off easier. That worked better with less cut up fingers!

B5092D1A-5918-4E03-9C79-1772050B7DA9
Our popcorn!

We decided to save some of both seeds.

31ED87DD-FADA-4E88-A4D0-6CE750B8347F
Some of the seeds for next year

We used a funnel to pour all of the popcorn into a mason jar to keep everything sealed up!

2E65A55E-4213-4909-A299-EF804A3303DA
Yep, that’s homework still on the table!

And here was how much we got for a very small patch!

C8D6218A-B163-48AD-86E8-6F9F0802EA5E
Our whole harvest! 

And for the leftover cobs and husks, the chickens enjoyed looking for any kernels that we missed and kicked everything around!

BC33EAE0-D5A6-4244-B50E-A6B82E79502D
A nice winter treat! 

Now on the the important part, did it pop?! It sure did! They might not be as large as the store bought, but the taste is much better!

A2D3583C-E9EC-4968-9532-0F7D04C89050
Popcorn! 

Next year I’m going to focus on the strawberry variety because they seemed to pop much better, and took up less room.

So, I consider this new crop to us a success! Does popcorn make your list for the 2018 garden? I’m going to stay under these covers and dream of the beautiful weather that will eventually come! 🌱💚

September goals update 2017

September was a month of colossal harvests, produce stands set up, still getting acquainted with my new students and working around our tiny homestead! Here are how the goals are going:

1. Zero waste our home! We have been eating a lot from the garden, which is great! Also, the ketchup that I made is amazing and we are loving not having to buy plastic bottles!

2. Declutter 20 items per month. We got rid of some motorcycle helmets that we don’t use (and made a few bucks!) We found a scrapper to take our satellite dish! Oh, and we got rid of our home phone.

3. Create only 12 bags of garbage per year. Americans are super wasteful. We are going to try to only produce one 13 gallon kitchen trash bag per month. Still on bag 5, but it’s filling up fast.

IMG_8956
Still on bag 5! 

4. Merge crafting and homestead business. The Mr has been Blacksmithing up a storm this month!! All credit goes to him for working so hard!!

IMG_9489
Dinner bells
IMG_9509
Flower basket hooks
B0F9B3D7-42F1-4F53-939E-DF1C15D57885
Business card holder

5. Create a summer kitchen. We will be turning a spot in the garage into a nice canning area. #comeonmrllewellyn!!

6. Expand the garden. We are definitely working on this! We tilled up the area for expansion next year! We have big plans!!

IMG_9473
Expanded garden and planted cover crop! 

7. Grow some different plants. Luffa gourds were so fun to grow last year, and we are growing more this year! The okra grew great this year. We harvested so many cucumelons! The popcorn is picked and drying in the basement and we are now successful at growing our own wine cap mushrooms. And you know what… they were the best mushrooms that I have ever had!


8. Make a chicken viewing area. Yeah, um, I don’t think we are going to do this! I have some good ideas for 2018!!!

IMG_8427
Whitey the chicken who is always running around! 

9.Green up my school. Schools create an absurd amount of trash! My class recycled around 150 pounds of plastic film last year. The plastic bag recycling program has started! I also started a collection area for plastics bottles and k cups at work. Oh, and my students wrote to our mayor to try to get a recycling program here!

10. Track our solar panels. This month we reached 1.39 mwh ! And our electric bill was less than $6 again! I’m interested to see how this goes with the cold months coming up!

8B4D2703-91C9-4A3A-87CF-2EB81DCAF80E
11. Continue beekeeping. We are still providing lodging for our flying insect friends! They are “busy bees!” And I am hoping for them to overwinter well!

IMG_9538
They are still finding flowers! 

12. Travel more with the family! We managed to visit so many places last year and only a few this year. I’m soooo looking forward to our winter project of working on our new-to-us camper!

IMG_9169
It’s safely being stored in the garage! 

How are your goals going?! Have you starting thinking about goals for next year? Keep blooming where you are planted!! 🌱💚

So much canning! (And fall garden prep!)

You’d think that mid- summer is the busiest time for gardeners. Not true! Im busiest in late summer and fall! It’s prepping, picking, and preserving all of that produce!

We had another sale yesterday! Only a few customers, but the rest of the produce was preserved for the winter months here!

IMG_9454
Another produce sale! 

The Mr.’s sister has an apple tree and doesn’t use the apples. So, we went and picked about a bushel of apples and made some yummy applesauce! And we have some leftover to turn into something else!

IMG_9475
A few apples left! 
IMG_9477
Making applesauce! 

I spent the majority of the day today making some chili sauce! That stuff is super labor intensive! It takes a ton of peeling and chopping of veggies to make! But, my Dad loves it, so I make it!

IMG_9484
Chili sauce! 

And just like every other Sunday morning, we are out of food for breakfast! So, I baked some zucchini cake using the last of our homegrown zucchini!

IMG_9483
There were 2, but it’s really good! 

The wheat and rye that I planted to help add fertilizer to the soil is growing fast!

IMG_9449
Future green manure! 

And now to leave off on a few beautiful things!

IMG_9478
A honeybee on my sunflower! 
IMG_9480
One of the adorable stray kitties around here! 

I hope that you had a productive weekend too! Keep blooming where you are planted!

Wednesday walk through the garden and lots of blooms! 9-6-17

The garden is starting to fizzle out, but we are still harvesting green beans, cucumbers, cucumelons and lots of tomatoes! I’m hoping to harvest a watermelon or 2 this season!

IMG_9408
Ripen quickly please! 

I’m not sure what this is growing out of the compost bin! It looks like a yellow zucchini, but it is vining like a pumpkin!

IMG_9407
we love our weird compost hybrids! 

We are also still getting peppers, so we will be making some Appalachian style chili sauce. My Dad loves it, so of course I’m going to make him some!

IMG_9413
peppers! 

The popcorn is a good bit taller than me and has tassels!

IMG_9415
popcorn!!!!

The pumpkin vines are dying off, but at least we are getting a few pumpkins!

IMG_9416
Pumpkins! 

The fall beets are growing right up out of the ground!

IMG_9417
we will be pickling beets! 

The sweet potatoes are growing all over the place! I can’t wait to see how much that we harvest this year!!

IMG_9414
sweet potato vines

And I’m pretty proud to share that we made some ketchup this year out of our own Roma tomatoes! We just used one of the Mrs. Wage’s seasoning packets!

IMG_9424
homemade ketchup!

And, there are lots of beautiful blooms still around for our pollinators!

September Progress update!

For the New Year, I set a list of goals. I decided to share the goals to keep me more accountable. And you know what?!?? It’s been working!

1. Begin beekeeping: The bees are looking great! And I was even able to get a great deal on some super boxes! I’m really hoping to get them all set for winter!

image
2. Make a pollinator garden: I can say that we have definitely completed this challenge! So many different flowers!✔️

image
Finally a cosmos!

3. Vacation somewhere different:(Now that the boy is getting older!) We weirdly enough didn’t take the boy, but we went to the Mother Earth news fair!

image
Great time was had!

4. No new fashion in 2016: I know most females would freak out over this one! I didn’t get a single item, but I did get a new shirt for my birthday.

img_6725
Kinda my new favorite shirt!!

5. Reduce garbage: (Did you know the average American produces 4.4 lbs of garbage per day?!?!) Still better than most, but closer to 1 and a half!
6. Complete the 2016 in 2016 challenge: That means getting rid of 2016 things in our home this year! Didn’t quite get rid of enough items this month, but next month will be better!

img_6736
1,462 items outta here!

7. Finish the kitchen remodel: The mister painted the whole kitchen and put new outlet covers on! They looked super 80’s  before! Almost finished!

img_6735
Update from the 80’s!

8. Build an arbor and plant some grapes:(I’ve wanted to do this for years!) Almost there! Just some boards horizontally and we are finished!

image

9. Expand the garden: We have definitely completed this for the year! We added on several raised beds and a three sisters garden! So we can give this a ✔️


10. Preserve more food: we took some of the grapes from our sweet neighbor and turned them into delicious grape jelly!!

image
Grape jelly! 🍇

11. Organize the least organized place in the house, the garage: We cleared out garage stuff at a yard sale! Made some money and cleaned out the garage.

image
Yard sale!

12. Treat my crafting more like a business: Only a few online sales, but also made a few sales to friends. Also, I have been working on Autumn Glory crafting

image
Crocheted ball jar coozie!

13. Work on budgeting and paying down the house: We had a certain number that we were shooting for being at for the end of the year, and we are there already! So this goal is already a big ✔️!

Only 3 months to go, and we might just be able to pull this off! If you are weird like me, you might just be thinking about your 2017 goals!!