Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Summer is Busy With So Much To Do.

Right now, it seems everything is about the garden.  It is doing so well.  Last year we had so much rain that it affected our tomatoes adversely.  They rotted on the vine, and between that and the stink bugs, we had a disappointingly small crop.  We have had wonderful weather so far this summer with just enough rain and everything is growing like crazy.  As for the stink bugs, which suck the juices out the the maturing tomatoes, leaving behind damaged spots, so far I have seen very few.  I am trying to be proactive against them. 
We do not use any chemicals on our garden:  no herbicides or pesticides.  So some internet research suggested using things that stinkbugs do not like to keep them away.  Sunflowers, which I happen to have planted in my tomato garden, are one thing.  Mint is another.  I have been spritzing the plants and the tomatoes themselves  with water that has a few drops of mint essential oil in it.  I am hoping this will help.  We have lots of lovely young tomatoes on the vines and lots more blossoms. 

 In the same area as the tomatoes, we have several varieties of pepper plants.  The peppers and tomatoes were moved to this location 3 years ago.  Here they get more sun and we have not tilled alpaca manure into this area.   We could never get peppers to grow well where we used alpaca poop.  These plants are now in the barnyard where we kept horses for 15 years and the people who had the place before us had cattle.  The soil here is very rich without the added manure.

Over by what is now my agility practice field is where we have corn, squash, lettuce, pumpkins, beets, onions, carrots, chard and cucumbers planted.  We have eaten some of the chard, which we had never planted before.  It is ok, but not anything I would rush out to buy at the store.

It is pretty, however.  The lettuce is about done and we will plant more for a fall crop in a few weeks.  The beets will soon be ready to harvest.  I usually pickle and can those.  I will likely do that this weekend. 


 There are lots of little butternut squashes coming on.


The pumpkins are in blossom and the corn is in tassel and forming ears and is much taller than I am.

I also dug up my garlic this weekend and hung it in the summer kitchen to dry.   It was a very disappointing crop.  We purchased organic garlic to plant last fall as we felt we needed to add to what we had been re-planting every year and I don't know if I planted it too deep, or if it was just not real good, because most of it never even came up.  So now I will need to purchase again.

My other harvest this weekend was honey.  I took 7 frames of capped honey off of one of the 2 hives I started last year.  From that, I extracted 2 gallons of honey on Monday.  In July 2013, I wrote this post about honey extraction:  honey extraction
so I won't go into detail again here.  I am fairly certain at this point that the other hive from last year swarmed this spring (which is probably the colony we caught on Mother's Day) because there are a lot fewer bees in that hive than there were and they are not producing the honey like the other hive.  The swarm hive is doing well.  I cleared the weeds around the hive and along the creek this week, so it is now quite easy to watch from the road across the creek.

By the time I got into the other 2 hives and took frames off of one on Saturday, my smoker had gone out and I decided to wait until I got the weeds knocked down around the swarm hive before getting into it again, so I will do that soon.

I am excited to say that I am going to finally have my very own studio on the farm.  Sam has started construction of a 20' X16'  building between the chicken coop and the alpaca barn.  It  is located there because water, electric and gas are close by.  It is also a spot that gets more hours of good daylight than other places we had considered.  Currently, I have looms and spinning wheels and yarn and fiber spread out in 4 rooms in the house and one room at our office.  There is no place in our house where I can put my big loom when I no longer want to keep it at the office.  We have no basement and the upstairs of our old farmhouse is not a good place for a large loom.  I tried a few years back to renovate our old summer kitchen to a usable space, but it wasn't really practical.  

So work has started!  More on that in future posts.

Check out these amazing bar stools my father-in-law made for me:

I sent a photo to my mother-in-law of similar ones I saw when my mom and I were in Amish country earlier this month and asked her if Harry could make me a couple.  I had no idea he would make them so quickly!  Obviously, he had a couple of old tractor seats in his "stash".  Now Sam has to make us a bar for the deck.  But for now, we are using this little side table on our swing and it works quite well.  I love these!

I finally took some time to finish the binding on my 2 rugs.  
Both are 28" X 56" .  

I am in the process of doing finishing work on 2 baby blankets and 7 kitchen towels, which involves washing and sewing the hems.  I am very pleased with how all have turned out so far.  So currently, both looms are "undressed".  But I have plans.

This is a shawl I am knitting from some of my own alpaca yarn.  It will be so soft and lovely when it is done.  I love how the variegated blue looks with the natural white.  

I think this post is long enough for today.  Summer is just a busy time of year.  


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