Sunday, August 13, 2017

Hawks, hummingbirds, hazelnuts and a herb harvest...

This beautiful hawk has been around here for a very long time.  She was looking for chipmunks this week and spent a lot of time by the house.  I was lucky enough to get some good photos of her.  I don't mind that she is here.  I am sure she will get a bird or two from my feeder, but that is nature.
    I am very pleased with this photo of my hummingbird.  Both the hummingbird and the hawk have been super noisy.  The hawk spent all day in the tree screeching and the hummingbird spends its days in that tree chastising everything in the neighborhood.  
 The squirrels are going nuts over the wild hazelnuts.  It has been fun watching them go back and forth from the nuts to their nest.  It is obvious they think winter is coming, based on their activity.
 On the garden front I dug up the garlic and onions.  I also clipped my basil, oregano, parsley, and rosemary.  My garlic harvest was abysmal.   They never became big bulbs.  Instead I had a bunch of little individual cloves.  It took forever to clean them up.  My hands smell of garlic.  

 I have been dying to try this idea I've seen on pinterest for preserving herbs.  First, I chopped up my basil and oregano.  Then in an ice cube tray I put two cloves of garlic and added a teaspoon of basil, and oregano.  Finally, I poured olive oil over the top and put the tray in the freezer.  When I brown my burger or chicken, I will pop one of these little powerballs into the pan and hope for a burst of flavor.  I'll keep you updated on this project.

  I hope everyone is enjoying the wildlife around them.  Has anyone tried the olive oil and herb cubes?  I was not happy with the garlic I planted.  Does anyone have a recommendation?

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Pumpkin Problem Solved...

 Every year I try to grow a giant pumpkin.  This year I started them in a greenhouse.  Inevitably, one ended up on the roof.  It started to bow in the plastic, so we had to come up with a plan. 
Haley was my able bodied assistant and we devised the perfect pumpkin holder.  She is the taller of the two helpers.  The pumpkin problem is prevented.  Now we will see if I can get it to 100 pounds. I cut all of the extra vines and have been feeding it regularly.
 I have been busy in the kitchen.  I canned mixed vegetables, raspberry jelly, and dandelion wine.  I think I made the wine correctly, as it tastes as good as my first endeavor.  I took better notes.  I was not happy today as we drove out to the prairie property and I found the hail destroyed any hopes of buffalo berries or chokecherries.   
 I have been happily been hosting two hummingbirds this year.  There was also a surprise visit from the evening grossbeak.  I don't have very good photos, as my camera's photo card is full.  I will get another tomorrow.  

What have you been canning?  Any jam or vegetables.  I'm looking at canning banana peppers.  Does anyone have a good recipe?  What do you feed your pumpkins?  Hope everyone is enjoying their harvest.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

A week with Aunt Bonnie

I spent a few days with the nieces at their farm. Then loaded up a majority of them and brought them out for a week with Aunt Bonnie.  I look forward to their visit every year and try to come up with new and interesting things to do.
 My oldest niece loves to ride and she practiced with her horse Roo before we left.  I wish I could have rode also.
 The two littlest ones aren't old enough to come out for the whole week.  They were sure excited to show me that at three his sister taught him to ride the bicycle without training wheels.  

The oldest three came with me.  We spent the day feeding fish and playing in the creek at the Spearfish Fish Hatchery and park.  Complete with a picnic lunch.  
The next day was the annual "Aunt Bonnie's Hike from Hell."  We were going to Custer State Park to roam with the buffalo.  Unfortunately, the hike was rained out.  The girls did end up taking some wonderful photos of the wild life.  

 Baby buffalo photo by Taylor
 Antelope photo by Sierra
 Woodchuck photo by Sierra
 Buffalo Bull by Taylor

 Buffalo Calf by Haley
A day at the cabin is always filled with activities. We made jam, pies, and jello. We got the kitchen dirty then cleaned it up again. We had plenty of food ready for when their dad came with the two youngest.

I try to help the girls with 4-H projects when they come.  Taylor always makes jam, but we also try to make something using wood working or painting skills.  This year we combined them.  The two older ladies made birdhouses, while the youngest made a walking stick.

 Aunt Bonnie was very careful teaching them how to properly run the chop saw, sander and nail gun.  We measured once and then twice to make sure we got our cuts right.  We were very careful about where we put our hands and aimed the nail gun.  The girls paid careful attention and did a great job.  I was very proud that they made the birdhouses all by themselves.
 Meanwhile, too little to run the woodworking equipment, Haley sanded and sanded.  Photos by Sierra.

After the serious work was done, the fun began and they painted the houses to suit their taste.

The littlest two came and we immediately went for a hike.  It is a five hour drive to Aunt Bonnie's so getting out and stretching ones legs is important.
 We toured the gardens and played outside.  Then had a big meal.  The next day was a rodeo and parade.  Then a long drive home.  The house seems empty and quiet.  Next year we will have four.  Aunt Bonnie just needs to figure out how to fit them all in her Jeep.  I had tons of fun this year and can not wait for next year.
 Any ideas for projects next year?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Buffalo berries?

If you haven't followed my blog, I am a berry picking fiend.  I love making jams, wines, and syrups from the bounty around me.  This year I am super excited as the buffalo berry bushes on our prairie property have berries.  Last year a late frost crushed all hopes of a harvest.  This year I see jam in my future.  Unfortunately, the area received golf to baseball sized hail.  I am not sure how things on our property fared.  We had just been out there to pick currants and check our game camera.  I can tell you my husband's pickup did not fare well.  It was a pretty terrifying experience being trapped in a pickup during a storm with hail that large.
 Things were peaceful, before all hell broke loose.  We had fawns all around us.  They really didn't care that we were there.  They were actually miffed that we were on their nicely mowed trails.  Little did they know, we mowed the trails for them.
 On the home front, I am busy with Juneberries and raspberries.  I don't think the raspberry harvest will be as good as last year.  Everything is a balance, as I didn't have any Juneberries last year.
 Besides the fawns, I met a few other friends picking berries.  I've never seen a baby Wooly Caterpillar.  He was adorable.

I'm berry picking like crazy.  That and the peas are ripening pretty quick.  What are you harvesting?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The beauty around us...

Swallowtail Butterflies drive me nuts.  They just flutter through the yard on their way to somewhere more important.  Not today.  Today one was a camera hog and hung around for a photo shoot.  I really had fun following him around the yard.

 Despite the heat and thanks to my husbands routine watering schedule the rose bed is an absolute riot of color.

 These clouds didn't provide rain, but did give us a spectacular sunset.

One of my favorite quotes is by Rabindranath Tagore..."Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky."  I have found it to be so true.  I hope everyone is enjoying their sunset skies.