Monday, July 25, 2011

Corn Harvest Part 1, Berry and Grape "Maintenance"

Our early corn variety - Sugar Baby - is all took us a week, a few "buckets" each day during the work week, and then the remainder on Friday and Saturday.  Alltogether, this resulted in - we think - about 65 quart bags of frozen corn.  Not too bad, even though we lost count and were to tired to go back to the garage, where our extra freezers are, and do a recount.  This was the first time we had planted an early variety and we were surprised to find rather large ears of corn on these relatively short, stocky kind of plants.  (We had planted 2 lbs of this bi-color variety).

The Silver King corn is almost ripe - we are hoping for some rain to help the kernels fill out, but this is our project for the next weekend.  Expecting lots of relatives to comes and help pick and take corn with them :)  We planted 5 lbs of this one  (not sure what we were thinking).

Also spent time throughout the week to continue tying up bramble canes for next year's fruit.  We are getting some blackberries off this year, although we had tried to cut back the plants a lot this Spring to discourage fruiting and encourage the growth of fruiting canes for next year.  Still, managed to make 2 pies and freeze 2 gallons of berries so far. We are irrigating the berries, since the weather has been extremely hot and dry.
Pretty much did the same "maintenance" on the grapes - continued tying up the vines, which are still growing at amazing rates, and continued irrigating.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

New Scheme for Empty Bottle Storage

Our collection of used wine bottles continues to grow as more and more neighbors and friends give us their "empties" (THANK YOU! to everyone).  The stacks of cardboard boxes started to wobble precariously, so we started using large, sturdy storage containers (some of which we had gotten at Lowes for our move two years ago) for wine bottles.  Throughout the summer, we have taken a few hours each week to process wine bottles:
  1. soaking the bottles and scraping off labels
  2. thoroughly washing each bottle with very hot water and soap (and help of a sturdy bottle brush)
  3. rinsing each bottle with hot water, using our handy bottle rinser
  4. drying bottles on the bottle drying rack for a day or so (it holds about 4 dozen at a time)
  5. sorting bottles by color (and shape if possible) into the storage containers
  6. closing the lids and holding them down with "zip-ties"
  7. clearly labeling each container (may as well use "LEAN" principles)
We decided to move all the tools which are currently stored in the garage to the top floor of the barn (where all the big power tools are anyhow).  Since we are continuing to work on renovating the barn, we may as well have all the tools in one place.  Jeff started building shelves in the barn for tool storage, and also in the garage for storing the cleaned bottles.  Looks like we may use the garage strictly for food and bottle storage ... it already houses two freezers and a refrigerator, and we are looking to find a walk-in cooler at some point (we'll need it for berry storage, and it is great for storing potatoes, apples and of course during hunting season for all that meat).  Our list of things we'd like to do gets longer and longer ....

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Love the Tema Bean Variety

Have to say, our green beans did awesome this year.  We used the same variety we like last year and they did not disappoint us.  We picked over all the beans twice, and it looked as if they had not been picked at all.  These two quick pickings (the beans came off in hand fulls) resulted in 64 quarts of canned beans, and I don't know how many meals and bags of beans for friends.  The beans all were long, slender and very tender.  Then the extreme heat and dry weather started and we decided not to irrigate, as we really had sufficient beans for this season - it was kind of a shame to see them whither away... Pretty sure I will plant the same ones again next year.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Trellis and Irrigation in the Blackberries

 Finally finished running all the wire in the 5 rows of last year's plants, and started tying up all the berry shoots that are about 4 feet tall already.  Also ran the rest of the irrigation lines in the 8 new rows - so far got emitters installed in one and half rows.

The elderberries that we planted last year near the fruit trees are growing (and blooming) nicely:

Monday, July 4, 2011

Pig Roast Tradition Continues at the Long Shot Farm

We had our first pig roast over the 4th of July weekend - not our first ever pig roast, but the first one at the farm.  It was a combination of open house, birthday and graduation party (like they always seem to be), and pretty much followed the same schedule as out previous pig roasts:  aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents come all afternoon, and friends of our kids come toward evening.  We basically served food twice, first for a late lunch around 2:00, then again around 6:30.  In between - and afterwards - we have coffee and desserts, and chips, vegies, fruit and other snacks were always out.  Toward evening we also had some of every wine we made last year together with a selection of cheese.

Everything was set up in the back yard - which meant easy access to electricity, bathrooms and the refrigerator/freezer.  A bonfire with benches as set up across the street (with a cooler of drinks and another cooler of snacks, including all the makings for smores)

We put the pig on the roaster around 1:30 am on Saturday morning, stuffing half of it with bread stuffing (the same recipe we use for a turkey - basically cubes bread, onions and celery cooked sauteed in butter, and seasoned with salt, pepper and sage) and the other half with sauerkraut (since we had so much!).  We used a large can of fruit cocktail in heavy syrup to 4 quarts of sauerkraut.  The basic bread stuffing started off with 4 loaves of bread.  Next year, we need to double both quantities - at least!

With the roasted pig and stuffing we had baked potatoes (fresh from the garden, wrapped in aluminum foil and "baked" on the grill outside), as well as hot corn (frozen from last year's harvest).  Everyone brought something along, including vegies trays, pasta salads, baked beans, dips and chips, rolls, fresh fruit, melons etc.  We had made brewed ice tea and lemonade, which we kept in two 5 gallon self-serve cooler, plus water, soda and a keg of Sam Adams "summer ale".  It was quite a feast!

With everyone there to help out, set-up and cleaning was done quickly and efficiently.  Next year will be even smoother, as we will know where everything is to be set up (ie level ground for buffet tables - which are closet doors balanced on rain barrels), ensuring there is enough shade throughout the day to keep things manageable.  Plus we know where everything is stored since the move :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Mulching Flower Beds the Day Before the Pig Roast

The huge pile of wood-chips we had gotten from the electric company when they were cleaning out the powerlines shrunk a lot the days before the pig roast.  Sammy, Anja and Tina worked like crazy weeding and mulching the last flower beds around the house in time for the pig roast.  The mulch did make everything look so clean: