Monday, October 22, 2012

I Keep Forgetting to Tell You...

We grew two shitake mushrooms this year.  Hey, it's two more than we grew last year!  There were a couple things we could have done differently.  When we figure out if doing them works, then I'll tell you about them.

Jamey has slowed up a bit on his wood hoarding.  The pictures below show less than half of it.  We're managing just fine without a truck.  Some we've had delivered, some has come from our own property and some Jamey has gleaned here and there, using the trunk of his 1995 Saturn (making several trips).  We're learning that there is a science to this wood-burning thing and we love everything about it.  We're also learning that most pharmacists think it's weird to be driving a 17 year old car.  And at least one pharmacist doesn't:-).

I don't think I told you how he cleaned out the chimney, did I?  He bought a contraption that attaches to the end of his electric drill.  The drill spins a wire brush around that is sent down the chimney, knocking off the creosote.  Jamey really wanted to know how effective this system was, so what did he do?  He put his smart phone in a ziplock bag, tied it to a string, turned the video camera on and sent it down the chimney before and after.  There were some tense moments as it got a tad stuck around some elbows, but it worked and so does the wire brush spin-y thing.

Jamey burned our dead tomato plants because of the blight that ruined any promise of fall tomatoes.  We're considering buying a tiller for next year.  We really prefer the mulch method, but we could just not stay on top of it this year (you have to mulch super-heavily for it to work well) so they weeds took over big-time.

We picked a bunch of concord grapes from our neighbor's arbor to make jam.  I made a very large batch (which I know is cautioned against when it comes to jams, but I've done it before and really wanted to save time).  Did it work?  Nope.  I ended up canning 25 pints of grape syrup because it didn't set.  I even used the recipe that is supposed to re-set your jam if it doesn't set (it's worked before) and it still didn't work.  We drizzled it on top of waffles and it was delicious.  I figured we wouldn't have to buy maple syrup for YEARS and tried to look on that bright side.  Then, what did that silly jam/syrup do several days later?  It set.  Go figure.

When we were up at my in-laws making applesauce, we picked up 10 big heads of broccoli from an Amish farm stand to freeze.  I love having it on hand and since we're not-so-good terrible at growing it, we're happy to support the Amish, even if we have to ingest some of their pesticides (there was not one worm).

We bought and planted two sweet cherry trees.  When our big black walnut tree came down, it partially landed on our sour cherry tree.  While it still may produce some, we wanted to get a couple more going in the meantime and opted for sweet cherries this time.  I wanted them planted outside my kitchen window at the edge of the sunflower patch so I see their lovely blossoms each spring and holler out at the birds if they get too close to the ripening cherries.  Listen carefully, Marie, and you might be able to hear me.  Marie is our wonderful neighbor.

The pullets and cockerels are almost ready to move in with the grown chickens (although the cockerels likely won't make it in- I'm not sure what we're waiting for, but they're still hanging around).  We moved the tractor down to the sunflower bed to help eat up the gazillions of grass hoppers that moved into that yard this summer.  They also get to enjoy some old sunflower heads lying about.  They'll help us mow down the weeds and will help fertilize for next year.

See my weeds?  If not, just keep looking at the lovely fall pumpkins instead.  One of the kids was preparing to plant grass seed, of all things.

Below is our poplar tree. Jamey and the kids spend hours providing a perfect example of "human dispersal" (we're studying botany this year, remember?).  Jamey kicks a soccer ball up into the tree and the kids try to catch as many "samaras" (a.k.a. "twirlies" or "helicopters") as they can in containers.  Or they just run through them squealing.

Happy fall, lovies. Pin It


  1. Bite the bullet and buy the tiller. Yes you can garden without one but it makes it so much easier. I really only use ours a few times a year but without it I'm sure I couldn't stay on top the weeds in our 4000 square foot garden.
    Love the pics of all the wood. You can never have to much wood in the shed and food stored for winter. ;)

  2. We're wood hoarders too. We have to be in this climate! It's not unusual to get -40 degrees F. in late December or January! I'll be interested in finding out more about the shiitake mushroom project! In case you're interested in another method of 'mulch,' check out our garden photos and mulching method. I love it! Makes it so much nicer when weeds have to be pulled. :-)

    1. We do a version of garden carpeting also, where the whole garden is divided into 4 foot wide planting patches, and the paths in between are carpeted. It gives a lot of versatility without needing a tiller, and it's easy to plan out each year since everything just jumps to a new patch. It also cuts down on the amount of natural mulch you need, since you only need it to go around the plants themselves and not throughout the whole garden.

  3. Fun post Jane! *Love* the peek into your life! How wonderful to have all.that.wood!! What a blessing!! And...we drove our 1995 van exclusively up until last December. It was our ONLY vehicle. The LORD provides. Blessings upon blessings. We call her *Old Betsy*...and so do many others of our family and friends. It's the van that Austin drives. :)

    Blessings to you!

  4. you were talking about the birds getting your cherries before you get a chance too:) my son found a great way to keep them away. you know the bright orange hunting vest, usually the nylon kind, very thin? well, he hangs them or orange plastic in the fruit trees and the birds stay away!:)

  5. did you add more pectin to re-set your jam? I made some blackberry "syrup" - jam - and I think I'm going to try to re-cook it with more pectic. Marisa at FOod in Jars says it can take up to 48 hours for the pectin to fully activate and set up! I'm a total jam newbie, but I thought I'd share :)
    I enjoy this chatty post.

    1. I did add more pectin. I had never heard that about how long it can take to set. I've been making jam for years and have never had it wait this long to set. Interesting! Thanks:-).

  6. now what you gonna do all winter?

  7. I noticed your wood piles and thought I'd share. We got a new wood stove this fall. It's a Blaze King Classic. It works so much better than our old one. Our home is more evenly heated and it uses less wood even though it is a bigger stove. It's EPA certified because it uses a catalyst to burn the exhaust. You may want to consider it if you use a lot of wood. It was somewhat of a big investment, but is well worth it so far. We homeschool too. My son likes that he doesn't have to haul so much wood each day. The only thing I don't like is you can't keep the glass clean inside. It just soots up so bad I quit even trying.

    1. We have a new stove (Jan. 2012) and it burns "the secondaries", too. We love it over the forced air heat (oil) we had before. We use this to clean our glass and it works beautifully (and it's inexpensive!)...

      Stay warm- oh, wait- you will:-).


Just a friendly reminder, if you know me personally please try to refrain from using my name. There are those who may try to locate me, break into my pantry and steal my pickled beets. Thanks:-).

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