Wednesday, August 26, 2015
It is always tough coming home from vacation and getting back into the time zone and routine. Especially when the routine has been summer and you get thrown immediately into fall sports, and back to school preparations. Thankfully we have had this week to get the litany of pre-school year errands, appointments and open houses taken care of. As the kids both start new schools this year, there is added enthusiasm for the start, with maybe a smattering of trepidation about the first days navigating new waters. It is important for me to have things as in line as possible before school starts so that the transitions are smooth and free of any avoidable stresses. The temperatures have been cool and rather fall-like early on this week. As the week winds down, the to do lists melt away and the temperatures look to be warming once again for the final weekend of summer break.
Sunday, August 23, 2015
Leaving on vacation for nine days in the heart of the season always leaves us with a bit of anxiety. I was thankful that we got so much preservation done before we left, because I do not feel so much panic in seeing the current surplus'.
This is one thing that we will not preserve, these little cucumbers are perfect just to pop whole into the Greek salads that may just be dominating our diets for the next couple of weeks.
I think if anything defines the state of the garden as we return from vacation, it is blush. As we continue to preserve the summer squash and green beans, the next phase is blushing nicely. Hints of canned tomatoes, sauces and salsas come...and oh the masses of butternut! For a season that started so slowly, some things are well ahead of last year. We were keeping our fingers crossed for ripening on winter squash up until we harvested them in late October last year. This year? Well, they are well on their way!
Along with the garden bounty, the late summer blooms are dotting the landscape in all of their glory. The first goldenrod is just beginning to put on its show. The garden tends to do what it wants this time of year and really you just must wait for it to provide and then eat and process. The animals, on the other hand, gave Ellen quite a run for her money while we were gone, but that is a story for another post :)
Friday, August 14, 2015
Two years ago, B placed two bait hives in different trees around the property. There they have sat since, unsuccessful at catching a swarm. I talked about our honey tree here, and it has been a very active hive with an enormous number of bees. Low and behold, as we were surveying the place a week or so ago, B discovered that one of the bait hives was full of bees! We are certain that the abundant honey tree hive, must have recently swarmed, and they did not travel too far. Now comes the dilemma, they have built a fair amount of comb already, but there simply is not enough time for them to make a home to sustain themselves through the winter. So on the advise of a bee keeping friend of ours, we decided to introduce this box to our other large hive and see if we could get them to assimilate.
When working with bees, B has found it is best to have all of your ducks in a row supplies wise before you don the very warm bee suit on a hot humid day. Fortunately, last Sunday was a perfect morning for the move. It was foggy and a bit cooler, so there was not much in the way of activity around the hives early in the day. First, he smoked both hives to encourage the bees to ascend into the upper portions of their respective hives.
Then, he detached the bait hive from it's foundation in the tree, put a bottom platform on it, and blocked the exit door so they could not all fly out while being moved. The idea when combining both hives is that when we add the new hive to the bottom of the existing one, top it with a large piece of newspaper like paper with some slits cut in it. Over the next several days the bees will eat through the paper and be released into the existing hive, hopefully giving them time to recognize each others scents and adjust. Then what will come is the queens deciding who will reign.
The bottom box on the main hive was empty, but the bees were just beginning to beard into it preparing to fill it, so the timing was perfect to remove the empty box and add the new hive with the partially completed box. The whole process took about 30 minutes, and now we wait to see if it is successful. After about 48 hours, we were advised to open the exit door on the bottom hive, and when B did there was a huge flurry of activity. It will be interesting to see if they assimilate.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
And, there it is. 100 days of finding happy moments even in the mundane. I began this challenge as our Northern landscape was just beginning to bloom, and I end it now enjoying the beautiful aroma of late summer and first blushes of fall in early turning leaves.
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Soccer season has officially begun. They have a team camp this week each night from 5:30- 8:30 pm. When I went to pick Charles up last night, a combination of the still warm humid air, and the wet ground from our sudden afternoon storm, made conditions perfect for fog. As I watched the boys finish practice, it was cool to watch their forms in the twilight morph in and out of the mist. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a morning person, up and getting my day started between 430-5 most days, so the soccer pick up was late for me. I was glad to go and see all the parents that we have been on this club soccer journey with over the last four years, along with meeting some new. When I turned to leave, I caught this sunset, a very happy spot at the end of a long day.
Monday, August 10, 2015
The wrap up before leaving on vacation this time of year is much like the furor prior to guests arriving. We finished a massive harvest of beets, and carrots and the fall planting is taken care of. We also processed 25 squash into six casseroles snug in the freezer for easy fall meals. B also successfully combined two bee hives, but that craziness deserves its own post. I love days where we accomplish a lot but still have time to leisurely bar-b-cue with the kids and enjoy the late summer/early fall foliage that is just beginning to peak through.
Sunday, August 9, 2015
In the last week the garden has definitely hit its stride. The extended cool to the beginning of the season has us running a little behind last year's harvest. Most notably, several of the plants themselves are much smaller. Though our harvest dates have started a bit later the yields all seem to be great, even from the smaller plants.
We harvested the garlic, which in and of itself ended up being quite an adventure. B ended up putting on his bee suit to harvest the last few rows as we had discovered a group of ground wasps had decided to take up residence in that bed. We yielded 168 heads this year!
We enjoyed the first of our yard long beans. They have been fun to watch grow, and have a special sweetness to them that gives them an asparagus like quality. I think these will become a quick favorite, and be something that we grow again.
Both summer and winter squash are making impressive showings. It is not unusual for summer squash to be abundant, I am sure you've heard of national sneak zucchini on your neighbors porch day (which happened to be yesterday)! What is most exciting is the sheer volume of butternut squash that is well on it's way to maturity.
The late summer wildflowers are abundant and peppering my kitchen with their display. There is just something about fresh cut flowers!
As I mentioned earlier, this is the crunch time for food preservation. So far we are keeping up, but are really trying to get ahead. As you can see the tomatoes are beginning to blush so along with what I hope is a big tomato season and the backlog of everything else, I know we will come back to quite an onslaught after we return from vacation.
Saturday, August 8, 2015
A kitten finally sprung from the fixator in her leg. Maybe I would get a better picture if we could get her to sit still! Notice the bell around her neck, it is the only way we can keep track of her, she is that fast! I guess four weeks in a kennel results in masses of pent up kitten energy. Happy that we now get to see her personality unleashed.