Summer Vegitables

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So you are all probably thinking “Uh huh, he said he would update once a week, yeah right.” LOL. Well, I try, but am only getting time about every other week. Last weekend we had our Annual Helmig Farms BBQ competiton so we were a bit busy.  Every year we host a large event (about 60 people this year here at our farm, where locals get together and compete in BBQ’ing in four catagories :Chicken, brisket, ribs, and pork.  Medals and trophies are awarded,  food and drink provided for every one, and a great time had by all. Alot of visitors seemed to gravitate towards the vegitable garden and asking different questions. As for our summer garden update, we took our last picking of green beans and wax beans on Tuesday night. I still need to pull up the plants as they are all done just have not had the time.  We were able to can 27 pints of green beans out of the deal, so that will be nice this winter. When canning, the wife did her batches just plain beans and some homemade bacon that I butchered and cured last fall. The batches i did i added the same homemade bacon, but also through in some homegrown chopped up white onion.  The peas are also all done, we ended up with 4 gallons of peas frozen.  They take up alot of room in the garden but are sure yummy, and for pea lovers they are a wonderful treat in the wintertime in casseroles, on salads, etc.  The pea plants are already all ripped up. Later this weekend my Dutch Flat Head cabbage is ready, so i will need to shred it and ferment it for sour Krout. Recipes are on the internet as for recipes, it takes about a week or maybe a little more depending on volume, temp, etc. Also i notice my onions have fallen over.  Stalks have not turned yellow yet, but will today or tomorrow I am assuming. So i will need to pull them as well, bunch them, and hang them. Hang onions in a cold dry place for maximum keep time. Depending on the species you can keep for example yellow onions almost into next planting season. My white onions for example, or red onions, or walla walla’s will not keep near that long due to their sugar content. You can still hang them, but they will spoil fairly quick. Debating trying some shredding and freezing methods this year for longer keep time on the white onions.  Tomatoes are doing wonderful, growing like weeds, and fruiting, but are not yet ripe. Zucchinnis have had one massive picking already. We canned 18 jars of Zuch-relish, and I gave about a dozen Zuch’s away to my mother as she likes making Zuchinni sweet pickles. She wanted to trade me a few jars in trade for the produce, but I don’t much care for sweet pickles, so politely refused. There are about another 50 lbs of Zuchinni that are still growing but not yet ready for harvest. My garlic never did all that great, as they were from 2 year old cloves, but i will take the ones I can and hang for drying to use for re-planting stock next year. Carrots are also all ready for harvest, and are very large. I added some sand into the carrot area before I tilled it this year, and they grew a world better! Much larger in diameter and length. Will probably get 10 pints or so out of the carrots.  Peppers are also doing well, jalepenos and bells, and have been being used through out the summer for cooking. I didn’t plant a whole bunch of peppers this year as i still have loads of them in the freezer from years before.  On a side note “Sammy” our Yorkshire pig is fattening up nice also, and loving the canning season! Sammy gets all the scraps from canning, and plants i yank up, etc on top of her feed ration. So she is a happy camper, and will be more than ready to butcher in fall. Butcher time is strictly dependent upon pigs weight, and cool weather. I wait till the weather is cold so i can hang the pig and age it for a few days, but not totally cold enough to freeze, as frozen animals are a PAIN to cut up and process. usually October is prime butchering season. 

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Summer Time Annoyances On The Farm

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Summer is in full swing. Work is super busy and we have been working 12 hour days (some times 13 hour days), and every other week we are lucky enough to have to work Saturdays as well. Life on the farm has been just as busy! Talk about burning the candle at both ends. Peas and beans are needing picked  and frozen/canned, along with many other veggies that are becoming ripe and ready to pick/pull. Weeds and grasses are going gangbusters, and water consumption for animals is at a yearly high. Every aspect of the farm life is busy and buzzing. Which brings me to my first “Summer Time Annoyance.” Here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest we have a plethora of Bee’s called “Yellow Jackets.” The nasty little boogers are making nests EVERYWHERE this time of year. My big farm truck has sat in one spot for about 2 months now, and I went to get something out of the toolbox in the truck bed, as soon as I opened the lid I was swarmed with about 50 angry little bees and saw their nest is already about the size of a softball attatched to the underside of the toolbox lid. For any one not Familiar with the Northwest Yellow Jacket, their are not actually a Bee per-say, they are a Wasp, and closest animal relative is the aggressive Hornet (definition per Wikipedia). Honey bees for example tend to want to do their job, and will only sting if threatened, and once stung the stinger pulls out killing the bee. A yellow jacket wasp however, hates humans with a passion and will go out of their way to sting you on site! Their stingers stay connected to their bodies and can sting you over and over and over. This is especially no fun since once they see you, they will drop what they are doing and come sting you, and as you run away they will fallow you in a cloud of large numbers all stinging you over and over again, and pack a healthy dose of venom in each sting causing massive sting swelling. Long story short, I HATE these little boogers! So i went and bought some wasp and hornet killer (3 cans of the shoot kind of spray). I went all around the house spraying all the years new nests (as this is an every summer event. Yellow jackets make nests in shady protected areas of all types, including mouse holes underground, under house and building eves, under gutters, truck bed tool boxes, truck beds, anything they can crawl under and dont get rained and snowed on. Twas a good year for the Yellow jacket this year. Killed 13 nests under the house eves, 4 under the pump house eves, one in each side of the truck tool box, 3 inder the lips of the bed rails of the pick up, found one underground one that i used a large 4th of july smoke bomb on and covered the hole with dirt after lighting it and throwing it down the hole, and 2 in the woodshed! 25 in nests in all! Take that you mean little suckers! 

Early Summer garden Status

So sorry it has been so long since I have written any blogs guys! We have been super busy at work, and been working 12 hour days 6 days a week, then throw in all the farm work when i get home, and just haven’t really had the time. however, today I thought I would make time, specially for you readers. So today I wanted to touch on the garden aspect of the farm. I had planted several rows of peas, and we have already taken 3 large pickings from them, with another picking due this weekend. Now any one that has never grown peas and interested in them let me go over a few quick pea basics. The plants get very large, and DO take up alot of room in a garden. You get several “pickings” though, as not all the peas are all ready at the same time. Another little farmer trick, is when you plant them you plant one row one day, then a week or two later plant another row, and another in a week or two and so forth. This will ensure constant pea picking rotations instead of 3 weeks of peas and they are all done and ready to rip them out. Every picking we get about a large colander full. This may sound like alot of peas! But remember that shells are the bulk of the size and weight. Once the peas are shelled one colander equals about enough peas for one dinner for a family of four. (2 cups or so would be my guess). It is about 1/3 or a quart ziplock bag full. Kinda depressing going through all that growing and all that work for so little produce, but fresh peas are my absolute favorite! So for any one thinking of growing peas, just keep those things in mind. as for species, I have had excellent luck the last several years with “Wando” peas.

Now on to peppers. This is the first week of 90 degree and hotter weather so I know the peppers will finally take off now. Until now though, they have just kinda hung out and have not done much, and only had minimal growth. Personally I grow peppers from seed, as do i with my tomatoes as well. seeds are either bought for specific kinds, or basic Jalepenos and bell peppers i grow from seeds I saved the year before from harvested peppers. When i do this i plant them in small little containers and sprout them in the window sill, they are ready to plant about late march, however, the weather here in late march is usually pretty cold and still chances of frost. So what i do is save large apple juice containers, milk jugs, large gatorade bottles, etc and I remove the cap and leave it off for moisture access and ventilation. I them cut out the bottom. I plant the pepper and place the container on top, mounding a little soil around the base to ensure good insulation and also to keep the wind from blowing them away. Basically it is like a little “free” greenhouse for them until the sun really comes out. I am pretty confident they will really go gang busters this week!

My tomatoes are doing extremely well. they too were all planted from seed, sprouted in the window sill, kept to grow out in a small green house I have on the south side of the house, and planted about late march. For tomatoes i use the same greenhouse effect as the peppers due to late frosts. (My father did not greenhouse effect his, and in late march he planted them as did I, it frosted, he lost them all and had to go buy new plants). What I do a little different for tomatoes is I have wooden rack I have built. Basically 2ftx2ftx3ft high. the racks are kind of ladder shaped on the sides with wooden slats for tomatoes to grow, and lean/rest/climb on’ in the 3ft high rack, there are 3 horizontal slats. Any ways, early in the year i buy a roll of plastic sheeting. I plant the tomato, place the rack over it, wrap in up in plastic, and stable the plastic in place. The size of the plastic allows me to fold it a little over the top. Not sealing off the top as it needs to be open some for ventilation and water access, but enough to act as a green house during late frosts. They are all getting very tall and bushy, and are all doing well. Its almost July now, I took the plastic off the racks about a month ago. 

Beans are all growing great. a little early to be producing yet, but the plants are very healthy. Beans also add/give back a little Nitrogen into the soil. So not only do i grow them to eat, but I use them as a rotation crop. meaning i will grow them in one spot one year, and the next year i will place them a few rows over where my tomatoes were the year before, or what ever. I not only fertilize with manure every year, but rotating the beans helps add a little more nitrogen to the soil, and in a constant and even rotation. 

Onions are doing great as is the lettuce and we have been eating the heck out of both! Carroes are growing well and very healthy but not a whole lot of produce in them quite yet. I think the warm weather will help them along nicely. Zuchinni plants are growing massive, but not “Zukes” on them yet. they will come a little later. Squash is growing well, and starting to fruit, as are the cucumbers. Cabbage is doing marvelous and with hot weather here and to continue i will probably have to pick them this weekend and make the years sour kraut. Cabbages prefer colder weather, hot weather will some times turn them and spoil them. 

Raspberries and blue berries are all doing fantastic. for mothers day i bought the wife 2 more blueberry plants and 4 more raspeberry plants, so our berry orchard is growing quite fast. blue berry plants are loaded with berries, but are still green however. 

Garlic is about the only crop we had that did not do so well. I had some cdloves left from 2 years ago, they were still hanging up, but were starting to shrivel and get a bit soft. I planted them any ways as I thought it was better than buying garlic to plant (kinda defeats the purpose of being self sufficient), but as a result only about half of them came up. 

where fruit trees are concerned most are doing wonderful! I did however totally lose a cherry tree. Not sure what happened. Looks like he got sprayed, but I didnt have any spray any where near him this year. Not sure, any ways he died. but all the apples, peach, plum, and various other production trees are all doing great. We noticed 4 deer coming around lately, and i was excited. Deer kinda left the area due to some neighbors that are pretty heavy into poaching! So i was excited to see them coming back. However, i quickly noticed my trees were not so happy to see them! They had begun to eat my fruit trees. So now they are all netted and tubed and the deer can’t get to them any more. Problem solved. The heard garden it doing very well also. Cilantro/corriander is doing amazing! chives are also thriving as is the mint. the other herbs are growing, but they were plants from seed, and may take a little while to grow and establish.

Summer on the farm is great so far. everything is growing wonderfully as anticipated. We have a TON of canning coming up in our near future! take care every one, and thanks for reading. I will make sure I start taking more time to write more prepper farming blogs. i am going to try for at least one a week! take care and god bless every one!

Catching Rain

I am sitting in my comfortable recliner, some annoying cartoon on tv that my 3 year old is watching, the fire next to me roasty and toasty, and on the window panes the rain beats hard. The past week or so it has been half way decent weather out, but here in early spring with fresh new fruit trees in the ground, seeds planted in the garden, we need a rain. Which brings me to my topic of the day. Catching, and using rain to our benefit, not work against us, and here in western Oregon we get TONS of rain! Lets start off by first mentioning that in spring, rain is needed to help growing trees and shrubs establish root systems, and provide water for the growing plant to begin structural growth, bud development, and over all cell structure. With out the rain, plants would just wither away and die. Same for seeds planted in gardens or flowerbeds. The rain is needed to keep these seeds moist and germinate so they can sprout and grow up through the earth. One way of harnessing rain that some may not think of, is i store rain water. I have rain collection units around teh farm here, from 5-gallon buckets at the bottom of gutter down spouts, to rubber maid tubs catching rain off the wood shed roof. Why would I collect rain water you ask? Well, if I was in the city the use of rain water for plants would be super beneficial due to city water containing so much cholorine and flouride and such and would provide the plants with a more pure and nitrogen enriched source of water. However, we do have a well here on the farm, so the purity of the water is not an issue. Mostly i use the collected water for animals. The rabbits and the chickens both live off the collected rain water (except in the summer, then it is well water). Its also handy sometimes having some easily accesible water for washing off farm or garden tools, rinsing off eggs, washing off dirty hands what ever. Rain is our friend, not our enemy, and has a million uses. As the years progress I intend on expanding my rain catching system to something a little more substantial, but in the mean time what i have will have to work. Happy rain catching every one.

Cuttin’ Kindlin’

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It was a bit chilly this morning so i made my way out to the wood shed for an arm load of wood and a handfull of kindling to get rid of the morning chill in the house. I saw my Kindling box was empty. An often occurance that I am sure many of you know. So i packed the wood into the house, then set off back outside for some morning twilight kindling chopping. Usually I will chop enough to fill my box, and stop there. The box is approx 2ft long x 1.5ft wide x 1.5ft tall. It holds enough kindling for a couple of weeks any ways. So If illed the boxy, grabbed and handful, and went back into the house and got a fire going. With the fire soon roaring and wood stacked into the stove and heat for the morning secured, I thought about my often occuring lack of kindling, and how much I really don’t care for chopping sticks in the freezing cold right before daylight. So I figured I should go out and chope a little more to play catch up. I filled the box to the brim, and still had some left over. I had an idea, and just kept on chopping. Once i had a small mountain of kindling all chopped and a couple of hours gone, I went to work tying bundles. Basically a bundle holds a few handfulls of kindling sticks (probably 2-3 days worth in each). Tied the bundles with extra pieces of string, crap rope, and bailing twine, just what ever cordage i had laying around the wood shed area. In all I chopped 15 bundles, on top of filling my box. My thought, is I stacked all the bundles into the wood pile, and will save them for next year’s use. The box I will use for this years. Next time my box gets empty, I will fill it and chope 15 more bundles. Doing the same process of storage. I figure that way it wont take but a few more cuttings, and i will have enough kindling for the whole winter next near.

Every year once fire building is all said and done, and we are into long hot summer days. I go to the wood shed, and throw every single stick of wood into the lawn. I then add and stack all the wood I cut during the winter to season into the back of the wood shed, stacking my way out. Once all of the wood I cut in the fall winter and spring are all stacked in there, then i restack all the dry wood I threw in the lawn from before. This gives me a good, and evenly dry/drying Cache of firewood. It is a bit of work, but like food or water storage, you gotta rotate. Any ways, this summer when i will be restacking all my wood, I will add these kindling bundles into the wood pile here and there every couple square feet. i am thinking this way, for next winter, when i go out to the shed to get wood for the day, i can grab an arm load of wood, grab a bundle, and all my fire needs will be met in one single trip, instead of one trip for wood, and another trip out in the eraly morning snow and/or rain to cut more kindling that I ran out of. So any ways, gonna give this idea a try, thought I would post and update the folks here on wordpress that fallow “Prepper Farming.”

Prepping and Zombies! Together Forever!

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It seems today that two sub cultures are really developing! They have both been around for years but are gaining momentum like runaway trains! One is Zombies! They are every where. Books, television, movies, radio, parties and gatherings, flash mobs, magazines, etc. The second gaining popularity is “Prepping”. Shows like “Doomsday Preppers” captures this group of people, whom of which are people that fear the ending of the world as we know it in some way shape or form. I too am a large Zombie fan. I love reading zombie fiction, and i love watching good zombie flicks (Yes I too am a huge “Walking Dead” fan!) I was just telling a prepper friend earlier today that he may want to netflix the whole series of walking dead due to the nature of end of the world preps and prepping ideas that can be drawn from the Zombie Apocalypse.  And so came this idea, why not write something about the combination of the two!

Now i am not talking making a new tv show with Rick Grimes, Daryl Dixon, Cody Lundin, Joe Teti and dave canterbury mixing with a bunch of preppers and running from zombie hoards, however oh my god how cool of a show would that be! LOL. No, I mean for zombie fans you can learn alot of ideas for your zombie apocalypse by reading survival types of literature, survival books, watching shows like doomsday preppers, Dual Survival, things of that nature. And taking from those sources certain key points for your ultimate “Zombie escape and survival.” As I was telling my friend, there too is alot preppers can gain by watching and reading Zombie material. Sure the main threats are different, but as the saying goes “If you are prepared for zombies, you are prepared for anything else!” 

Any ways, this was just a thought I had, survivalists, doomsday preppers, die hard zombie fans, we all have the same goals, and the same interests…. To stay alive when Sh*t Hits The Fan! We have alot to discuss with each other, lets learn together. God bless you all. Have a great evening. 

Trapping – “Skunked again”

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I have had a bad time with coyotes digging large holes underneath my fence and coming into my fields. I really would not care, other than i have livestock with babies in that field which would be a perfect coyote snack. So I set a series of traps in the dig outs, covered the traps, and baited them. I check the traps every day to humanly remove any coyotes or other animals that may get caught so they aren’t there stuck for days on end. Any ways, today’s trap check brought bad news. I walked through the field, through the timber, around the back of the pond to the first set of the trap line. First trap, a big female skunk! UUUUUGGGGG! Damn i hate catching skunks in my traps! i hate it for one obvious reason, they spray all over the whole set, and even dead you still get skunk all over you getting the carcass out of the trap. I also hate killing them becuase they dig and eat wasp and hornet nests and bees and are actually a good farm critter to have around. Last skunk I got I had to burn all my clothes (was dark when I checked the set so i was right on top of him by the time i saw him, he saw me, i saw him, I raised my gun, he raised his tail, and we both fired! Both hitting each other). So Any ways, daylight this check, and I saw him from a ways off. I raised my pistol, told my boy to cover his ears, and put a bullet in his brain from about 15 yards. (brain shooting a skunk at 15 yards is not an easy task for a novice! like shooting a quarter at 15 paces!). Any ways, he fell limp and i decided to leave him in the trap for now. He is dead and the trap is set so it is not like another animal can come along and get trapped also. So we walked down the fence line 100 yards or so, second trap was untouched but bait was missing. “Hmmmmm, that sucks” I thought. So off we were to the third set of the line. Something grey, too small for a coyote, too big for a squirrel. It was a Possum! Far from a coyote. So for a grand total of critters cought in my coyote killing efforts totals : 2 skunks, 1 possum, 1 bobcat, and 1 owl (don’t ask how in the hell an owlgot in there! but he did). So i decided to call it quits for the trap line. All i am catching are the critters I don’t mind having around. So I humanly shot the Possum, and removed him from the trap, throwing him over my back to take home and skin out. We walked back up to my second empty set again so that I could trip the trap, as to not catch anything else. I will wait till the wife gets home tonight, and have her watch the boy while i remove the skunk from the one trap, and reposess all my traps. I don’t mind having him there, but I have to hop the fence to undo the chains off of trees and what not, which would leave him alone in the field with cows, bulls, not so nice billy goats, etc. Better to just let mama watch him while daddy does his thing. Any ways, so i am standing in front of the middle trap set, and shove a stick into the covered area…. nothing! i shove it harder and poke vigorously at other areas in the set thinking maybe i missed the trigger. Nothing! i dug the stick underneath the trap and lifted it up out of the cover and saw the problem. No wonder my bait was getting stolen and not catching anything. When i covered the trap with grass, pine needles, and sprinkling of dirt… dirt had gotten wedged in the hinges, locking the trap in the open position. Finally i got the thing to snap shut, breaking the stick as anticipated. Now all the traps are sprung rendering them nuetral again. And tonight, with pistol on my side and flashlight in hand, I will go and remove all the traps, and roll large rocks in front of the coyote dig outs, in hopes that maybe the scent of me near the fence and their entrances blocked maybe they will travel on down and go into the neighbors farm instead of mine. Here is hoping!