Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Lessons Learned

First one was I am way too busy with a full-time job and homeschooling one of my kids to try and also participate in a farmer's market. I had high hopes of getting in a market with some various cherry, grape, and saladette tomatoes, but nature and every thing else got in the way.

All of the tomato plants got blight this year. They did keep producing tomatoes, and there are still a bunch coming in now, but because of the blight over such a large area of the garden, I have to not use that garden next  year. That's fine. The raised beds were a great idea in theory, but maintaining them is hard. If it was one flat surface, weeding would be easier.

Next year, that entire area is going to get rototilled and I'm just planting some rows of corn. Maybe try the three sisters thing with corn, beans, and squash. We're going to set  up an area near the orchard (front of the house) to use as the garden. Less tomatoes, more food we actually eat. I did great with the beets and carrots, onions and potatoes, but next year I need to plant beans and peas and stuff for salads.

Meat production is going great! We had two (of the seven) hogs processed this year and ended up with 330 pounds of mixed cuts for the freezer. I made over 50 pounds of various sausages - Italian, bratwurst, kielbasa, and breakfast. I've started one ham (I want it for my birthday party at the end of this month), and brined 18 slabs of belly for bacon. I smoked 8 of those last week to take up to my family this past Saturday. Cooked some bacon for breakfast at dad's and it was really tasty. I hope they all like it. If not, more for me in the long run.

I have over 15 quarts of hot and sweet (mostly hot) peppers fermenting in the kitchen. Going to turn that into fermented pepper sauce. I had good luck last year making some. I'm following the same method so I have high hopes for this batch. I'll need to get one of my husband's friends to be my official taste tester; he loved last year's!

Traded my rooster Bob, the Buff Orpington, for four Barred Rock hens. They had too many hens, and I had three roosters and five hens so it worked out great. He was with me from the beginning; I had him since he was a 3-day old chick but he wasn't appreciated here because he was the beta rooster. Chip is still around; he's the alpha and he's happier now that he's the only male. The one chick who managed to not get eaten turned out to be another rooster (Half Amerucuana and half Buff Orpington). I gave him to my friend who also needed a rooster - especially after watching and waiting for this one chicken who she thought was a male to step up and start acting roosterfish. Turns out, he's a she; she laid an egg instead of starting to crow. In her defense, she thought with the big comb and wattle that it was male. It's really hard to tell them apart until they start sprouting spurs, crowing, or laying an egg. I thought my rooster was a hen; I could have sworn the saddle feathers had rounded tips not points (another way to tell). But I was wrong.

The weather has been beautiful this week. We had a period at the beginning of the month where we had nothing but rain and clouds. Was not a happy camper. Doing much better now. Hate how sometimes my moods are affected by the weather.

The trip north was fun. It was great seeing my sister and her four children. Met the newest member of the family, my first great niece. They were celebrating her 1st birthday. I wasn't planning on going because my husband was supposed to be out of town but it was postponed. Last minute road trip! My children all behaved. The drive (five hours) wasn't too bad on the way north, but NoVA traffic on I-495 sucks. Just all the time. Every day. 365/24/7. It's just a fact.

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