Sunday, September 17, 2017

Buffalo berries and backaches...

My favorite jelly in the whole world is buffalo berry.  I always get a lot of questions about buffalo berries, so I took quite a few photos on this berry picking trip.  I am thankful to have a good friend who's pasture is loaded with buffalo berries.  She is always accommodating when I ask to come picking.  They grow in draws on the prairie.  The berries are super tart, but not so bad if you can wait until a frost.   Which they had a frost that morning.
My heart leaps to see bushes loaded with berries.  Do you see all of the bushes farther back?  This lady's property is a paradise when it comes to picking.
 All those pretty red jewels surround one nasty sharp thorn.  These are not fun berries to pick.  Though I have to say four hours of berry picking passed quickly as Lois and I visited.  I am thankful to know such a wonderful, smart, and kind lady.
 When we got all done picking and as I went to help her carry her plunder she surprised my by telling me to keep her half.  She had just come along for the company.  I must say I was almost in tears.  Again, these are not fun berries to pick.   Thank you Lois.   You are a grand lady.  

Along the lines of thankfulness.  My husband got me what I'm sure is every woman's dream.  A giant truck of compost.  Do you see that truckload?  I'm in heaven.  When I wasn't picking berries I was loading wheelbarrows and directing where the tractor scoops would be dumped.  

Many projects were completed.  My strawberry, sometimes flower, bed was in dire need of decent soil amendments.  I cleaned it out and filled it to the top.  I am determined to make it back into a strawberry bed.  This means I need to find somewhere for my butterfly bed.  I'm sure I will figure something out.
 It froze this Sunday.  I knew it was coming, so I went to close up the greenhouse.  I had to cut the pumpkin vine to my pumpkin on a pedestal.   Remember him?  Well, I was in the greenhouse and cut the vine attached to him without thinking twice, knowing that he was on a solidly built pedestal.   I wish I had a photo of my face as I watched the pumpkin catapulting out of sight.  I guess the vine was keeping tension on the whole shebang.  I went flying out of the greenhouse expecting to see pumpkin pieces everywhere, but he somehow landed safely.   Of course I forgot to take a picture for the blog.   I am saving the pumpkin pedestal as that isn't the first pumpkin I've had on the greenhouse roof.

 I am still harvesting from the garden.  Dill, peppers, lemon cucumbers, tomatoes, and squash.  Right now I our fridge is filled with cucumber slices in water.  I am waiting until the water is infused and then I will take out the cucumbers and freeze the water.  There is nothing more refreshing than cucumber water.   I'm hoping my idea will work and I can enjoy the treat long into winter.  
 Well, that wasn't everything and it certainly wasn't in a nutshell.  This weekend flew by.  There wasn't enough time in the day.   My back is killing me from all of the shoveling, pulling, and picking.   What have you been working on?  Have you ever had buffalo berries?  Have you had cucumber water?  

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Butterflies and bees...

My sedum is starting to bloom.  Much to the delight of my butterflies and bees.  I took several good photos today.  
 I love that you can see him probing the flowers.
 It has been so dry that the leaves are turning, despite the fact we were one of the few who escaped the first frost of the year.

 Above is a young fuzzy bumblebee and below is a busy honeybee.
 Here are all of the bees hanging out at the local water hole.  They are not very nice when the poor birds try to take a bath or get a drink.  
There isn't much else going on.  Just wishing we would get a rain.  Are the leaves turning where you are?  Are you getting rain?   Hope all is well and you are all easing into fall.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Just humming along...

It is dry and smokey around here.  We are in need of some rain.  The smoke from the Montana fires are a bit smothering.
It may be dry, but this sweet fella keeps my gardens well watered.  He makes sure the gardens are fruitful and I am thankful for him.  It is because of his care that the gardens are successful.
If you look closely there is a chipmunk tail hanging out of the bird house that was occupied by bumblebees.   I don't know if the bees moved out or they are living in harmony.  All I know is that dang birdhouse has housed everything but a bird.   Below is my favorite photography subject the hummingbird moth.  He has such a determined look on his face.  I love taking photos of this little fella.  They love the phlox.  

 My peaches and cream phlox is a perfect backdrop for both the hummingbird moth and the humming bird itself.   Sitting still on the porch provides such a plethora of action.  I am super pleased with the photo below.  

 My hummingbird is quite the conversationalist.  She sits in the tree squeaking for twenty minutes before she goes to the feeders.   
 The late season blooms are keeping the bees going.  They love the Maximilian Sunflowers and Purple Coneflowers.  They have been super busy this summer, I can't wait to taste the fruits of their labor.

I picked my tomatoes, carrots, borage, peppers, and lemon cucumbers added some ranch dressing, dill, and celery seeds.  The combination with some salt and pepper made for a wonderful salad.  I also put a cucumber in some water for some refreshing cucumber water.  

 I am thankful for so many things.  I am a lucky woman and happy with the life I have chosen.  I hope you are also enjoying your life and the people within it that make it great.  Have a fabulous Labor Day weekend.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Summer slowly disapates into fall...

I am keeping busy as summer slowly disapates into fall.  I am getting a gaggle of produce from the garden.  Finally, the tomatoes are turning.  I have banana peppers galore.
Of course, this means canning.  I made pickled peppers and cucumber jelly.  I have to admit the cucumber jelly is one of my favorites.  It is best on Tricuts with cream cheese.
Do you see my new picnic basket?  It is huge.  I found it at a garage sale for $8.  I am adding another niece to my picnics next year, so I need a bigger basket.  You can't pass it up for that price.
I got a quick shot of my turkey parade.  I am so lucky to live somewhere where the wildlife just wanders by.
 This is my solar eclipse sunflower.  I don't know what kind it is but it is sure pretty.
I got enough sweetgrass for eight braids.  I will show you the finished product in the next post.  Harvesting has been keeping me busy.  I still find time to relax on the porch. What are you harvesting?  I think my crabapples are next.  Know any good recipes?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A plethora of projects for a peck of peaches...

What can one do with a peck of peaches?
I canned 9 pints of  Ball's Honey Spiced Peaches, 2 pints of homemade Peach BBQ Sauce, and 7 jelly jars of peach syrup.

Honey Spiced Peaches
8 lbs. peeled peaches      3 cinnamon sticks
1 c. sugar                         1/2 t. allspice
4 c. water                         1 T. cloves
2 c. honey

Peel, pit, and slice peaches into quarters.  Boil peaches in honey, sugar, water mixture for three minutes.  Pack peaches in prepared jars and pour syrup over the top.  Put the lid on and Process 25 minutes (35 at our altitude) in a boiling water canner.  

Peach BBQ Sauce
6 c. peaches pulverized 
1 c. green pepper
1 c. onion
3 T. garlic
3/4 c. honey
3/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. red pepper flakes
2 t. dry mustard
2 t. salt

Peel, pit, and pulverize peaches.  Combine all ingredients in a pot and boil on medium then turn to low and boil for 25 minutes.  Put in jars and process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes (25 at our altitude). 

Peach Syrup
3 c. sugar
1/3 c. water 
4 c. peaches
3/4 c. peach syrup leftover from the Honey Spiced Peaches
1/2 pkg. Sure Jell
Peel, pit, and pulverize peaches.  Boil until thick.  Ladle into jelly jars and process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes (25 at our altitude).

I also peeled, pitted, and chopped up 4 cups of peaches for salsa.  If my tomatoes ever ripen.  I put them in the freezer for now.

                                                                        Easy Peasy Peach Fruit Roll Ups
Take the peach skins left over from the whole process and puree along with some of the honey syrup leftover from the Honey Spiced Peaches.  Pour onto a cookie sheet covered in saran wrap. Put in oven or dehydrator at 170 for 3 hours.  Flip over for another hour. 
Summertime Peach Ice Cream
4 c. peeled, pitted, and pureed peaches
1. c. sugar
1 12 oz can of evaporated milk
1 pkg. of instant vanilla pudding
1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
4 c. half and half
Mix and pour into the ice cream maker and let her rip.
In the middle of all that, don't forget to take a break and have peaches and cream on the porch.

While on the porch partake in the phox and peaches and cream hollyhocks.
I hope you find some of the recipes useful.  They are tried and true for me.  Is there anything you like to make with peaches?  Hope you had a great weekend.

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.