Monday, December 5, 2011

Friendly Deer

This fall a nice fellow was right outside our door nibbling on the orange tree.

This is probably the reason the orange tree hasn't grown very much yet.
He doesn't seem to mind the birds at all.
Then he moved to the tree with the orange berries that are supposed to be inedible.

Doesn't seem to care.
They must taste alright.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fall Walks on the Farm

Kelsi and I are lucky enough to not have to leave home to take the dogs on a walk. During the fall is especially nice, since the field grass is not as tall and the tics have long since disappeared from the blades of grass along the deer trails.
We usually head up the upper field since there are many game trails. On this walk we kept hearing a noise behind us. We looked, but did not see anything. 
Weird, what was that noise?
Was it you Julies?

Julies: "Not me"

I see something coming down the trail; what is it?
Hard to tell.


She likes to follows on walks!
Once we start heading back all the animals run for the bottom of the hill.

We found Matilda waiting on this old farm tire.

And Khma was anxiously waiting near Matilda.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Fall Photos

Sunset over the greenhouse

My sister Emily had a baby. Asher James 9/13/11
Lemon Cucumber. My new favorite cucumber! We have had problem with bitter cucs in the past, and this one seems great for our area. It did well with the high heat when grown in the greenhouse. It also did well in the garden despite some drought conditions in the bed they were grown in due to a plumbing problem. The flavor is great too!
Walter snuggling my sneakers.
Walter and Matilda holding hands.
We had our first good year for eggplant. The long purple were plentiful and delicious. The skins were a little tough though, so they had to be peeled before eating. Black beauty were also good, smaller than expected and not in great quantity, but still tasty. NOTE TO SELF: plant more eggplant next year.
Winter squash for the year. Pretty disappointing. We had some irrigation issues in the lower beds this summer which resulted in smaller squashes. The one that did the best was the large green one above. It is called Underground Sweet Potato, we received it as saved seed from relatives in Iowa. Definitely growing it again. It had a root system unlike any squash we have ever grown. One plant literally had several feet of root. Those who plant no irrigation gardens should consider this one.
Walter has become quiet the bed buddy and he has taken a liking to Khma

We did put the peppers and eggplants in the greenhouse at the end of September. We had an extra 3 weeks in the greenhouse before a freeze hit compared to outside. It helped the peppers and eggplant grow a little more and the peppers all changed color in time for harvest this way. The labor involved in planting peppers/eggplant in pots in the spring, digging and planting the pots into the ground, then pulling the pots back out of the ground in the fall may not be worth the extra 3 weeks, but it was a good experiment.
We are also trying to grow lettuce in the greenhouse during the winter. So far the growth is minimal. We planted in late August. I think next year it would be better to plant at the first of August.
Red pepper ripened in the greenhouse.
We brought the orange tree inside for the winter and Matilda likes to keep it warm.
Hopefully her warmth will help it grow tall and strong this next summer.

WARNING! GRAPHIC IMAGES BEYOND THIS POINT. I blurred out the parts that I can't really see again, even though I was there.

We bought a turkey this spring to have for Thanksgiving but he died when he was really young for some reason. I really wanted to eat turkey for the holiday, but we have been only eating meat that has lost its' life at my hand for a couple years now. So I went through the process of trying to find a live bird in time for Thanksgiving. I was lucky enough to get in contact with Palouse Pastured Poultry. They raise organic pastured birds. I bought the turkey live and processed it a few days before Thanksgiving. 

The turkey was butchered in a peaceful way that not only abides by the Jewish way of slaughter, but also Kelsi and my morals about how an animal should be treated in the end of life. I won't go into the details, but it was peaceful from start to finish for myself and the bird.
After hanging for a while once dead, I plucked the bird. It took time, but the turkey cleaned up well.

I used a torch to get the 'Pin Feathers' and that was that.
Matilda came out to visit while I was working.

The turkey tasted great, and I can sleep at night knowing that it died a peaceful death and lived a humane life. It was our first meat consumption in 4 months, so we got a good protein fix. Who knows when we will eat meat again?

Thanks for reading!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Canning Photos and Thoughts on Peppers

We take a ton of photos and I am finally just starting to have the time to post them since school is slowing down before winter break. We canned all summer long. It seemed like we were at it every other day. We canned a lot of food that we grew or picked ourselves, but we also bought a lot from our favorite farmer's at the Spokane Farmer's Market. 
Here is a good sample of the tomatoes we grew. A variety of color, sizes, and flavors. We used them in all of our summer cooking, but they worked especially well for canning. 
Pasilla Pepper. Extra hot! Good growth per pepper, quantity was lower than other peppers.
Mirasol Pepper. Great growth per pepper, good color change, and great quantity per plant. Hot, but not too hot.
Gypsy pepper. Prolific! Sweet! Changes color from light green to bright red/orange. Delicious at any stage. My new favorite sweet pepper. Definitely growing this one again. Fresh was great, but sautéed really well too!
Sweet pickle pepper. Not worth the time. Fun to look at, prolific with small peppers, and great growth all around. The peppers lacked in flavor. The flesh was thin and bitter. Not the best pepper I have ever had, in fact store bought peppers probably taste better.
Seeds of Change Cal Wonder Orange pepper! Oh yea! This one was great! Our biggest pepper grown, color turned reasonably fast, and the flavor was outstanding. Excellent sliced on a piece of bread with sprouts, cheese, and mustard. Cooks well too. Will definitely grow again. 

What do you do when you have so many tomatoes and peppers?
Make salsa!
This recipe was more than 75% grown here. We had to buy more hot peppers and a couple other ingredients. 
Beautiful Color! Bright.

The flavor is outstanding as well. Hot and complex, yet sweet at the end. We used multiple different spices, really takes the taste buds for a spin. Probably the best salsa yet.

We also did a boat load of pickles.
So fun fun to can!
The brightness of the green is really highlighted after the ice bath.

Packed in jars in halves and quarters.
Filled to the brim.
Extra hot spice mix. 1/2 of a Mirasol, 1 whole Jalapeño, red pepper flakes, and peppercorns. 
Another variation with a dried Pasilla instead of the half of a Mirasol.
Standard. 1 Jalapeño halved, garlic, peppercorn, and dill.

I now know from this year of canning that we need to plant double the tomato plants, as many cucumber plants as we can fit, triple the pepper plants, and we need to start an orchard in moveable containers. We aren't going to be at this house forever, someday we will move to our forever home. It would be really nice if we had 10 or so fruit trees already fruiting when we move (SPRING PROJECT!).

That's it! Thanks for reading!