Monday, October 23, 2017

Monday Morning Doings

I told Adam a minute ago that we accomplished a lot for a Monday morning! It helps that the new puppy, Trixie, gets up at a bodaciously early hour. Today that was 4:30 a.m.
Adam started by putting a trellis on the front of the house porch.
 I know, I know -- it's not very "fancy." But we're not fancy folk! It's a trellis for a particular plant to grow on, so I'm hoping it will eventually be covered in lovely green foliage. This will give privacy, and I can remove the shower curtain that's presently hanging there. See? That trellis is an improvement over a shower curtain! :)  
You see, I've had this silly plant for ages - I posted about it before -- a creeping fig. I planted half of the plant I divided at the base of the trellis:
 Creeping Fig is hearty in zones 8 and warmer. We are zone 7B. But I did see it growing in a warm, protected spot at the doctor's office, remember? The trellis is on the south side of the house, facing into sun, protected from north winds. We will hope. If it dies, I still have the other half of the plant.
Two purple coneflower plants will keep it company.
Well, half-way through the trellis project, the puppy woke up again (It's like having a baby, I kid you not.), so Adam switched to a project where he can tie up Trixie nearby. He made more cement leaves. This batch, he's using concrete (instead of masonry mix) with fiberglass in it. Plus he's putting a sealant on the leaves. And he's also etching the leaves, and we love the softened look it's giving them. Here's one he etched and painted:

Here are some with the sealant. These he will be able to sell before Christmas.
While he was doing that, I started processing our sweet potatoes. They've been curing on the front porch for about 2 weeks. So here are some photos that show the shocking transformation from ugly tubers to luscious, creamy mashed sweet potatoes.

 The outside is scary ... until you peel them.

Who would think that, under that ugly exterior, is this perfect, peach-colored potato?

I cubed them roughly and steamed them on the stove top. Then I mashed them in the mixer and put them into quart ziploc bags, and then into the deep freezer.

Adam also dug the last white potatoes in the garden. They were planted from old potato ends. Not a very big harvest. Here are about half of them:
Oh - I forgot to add that on Saturday he caulked the eaves on the side of the house where we've been having a leak.
Now we're off to do "church work" for the afternoon. Rain is coming tonight (at last). We will hope the repair job is what was needed. One never knows with mysterious leaks - stay dry and warm wherever you are!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

In Chicken News ...

Lately, Bernie has taken to sitting on the orchard fence like he's the boss of the world. He sits there and crows.
Bernie, in mid-crow
And for weeks Punkin has refused to leave the coop. She won't go into the orchard. It's not good for her to have no sunlight or fresh air. She scurries around that dark, spider-webbed coop All Day Long. So today I decided I'd move her in with the new flock (Arthur and his girls). Remember Arthur? (He's bigger now - this is an old photo.)
I scooped Punkin up. She squalled. Bernie squalled. I told him he'd lost one of his girls. I put an unwilling Punkin into the isolation cage, which is inside the new chicken yard where Arthur and his girls live.
They were quite interested in the new arrival.

All these chickens already know each other, but Punkin is such a mean hen, I'm delaying introducing her to these young(ish) ones, until I know they can beat her up. Seriously -- she's a bully.

Also, Adam's been making more leaves.


This is the first one, that had too many bubbles.
Now he's added purple veining on top of the green wash.
And we continue to gather and shell pecans, trying to figure out which trees have good nuts and which don't. 
I've had a plant for a VERY long time -- it's a "creeping fig," I found out today. Here's a blog banner photo I took of it about ten years ago.
It's been in that very pot for a decade (at least). I nearly killed it twice for lack of water. Yesterday I saw a creeping fig plant in a doctor's office courtyard, protected and growing with abandon against a brick wall in the warm sun. It looked so happy. I decided to yank mine out of its pot, divide it, repot, and think about where in the yard I could place mine, where it would be protected enough to survive over the winter.

The farm is quiet. The dogs are happy. I'm trying to spend more time outside or painting or writing, and less time being irritated at rude people on Facebook. Who needs that?

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Curing in Autumn

 Adam is making more leaves. These are smoother, with fewer bubbles. Here's the first big one he did, painted.


I suppose he has about 15 leaves of various sizes in various stages of development. They should dry (or cure) slowly over the winter. Above you see a Japanese Magnolia leaf. He embedded a hook in the back.
 He smoothed the back of the big leaf. The two green hostas above will have light green veins.
Our new puppy, Trixie, wants to help sort pecans.

 Some friends have said it's too early for pecans, that they won't be fully developed. But from reading on two state extension websites, if the pecans are dropping naturally (not from wind), and the husks are dry and fully open (or off entirely), then the pecans should be fully developed, after curing. Curing, or drying, should take about 10 days.

 Adam dug all the sweet potatoes. Here they are, drying ... curing ... on our front porch, on wire racks.
 Some are tiny. Some are mammoth.

They also cure about 10 days.
And I have a steady stream of loofahs coming through their process of curing, deseeding, cleaning, bleaching.
Our small 2nd crop of white potatoes are coming along. I wasn't going to sneak a peak, but then one potato was showing already ....
 My Blue Lake green bean plants are looking very bedraggled from bugs, but I got another bag of beans today. I've been blanching and freezing them.
 Here's Adam's new compost pile inside the garden fence. Beyond the fence you see the big field our friend bush-hogged for us. It looks so good! 
 All the grass out there will eventually be raked into this pile too.
I have one remaining cherry tomato plant in the garden that's bearing. It was a volunteer, I think. I thought it was declining, but it seemed to get a second wind!


It has lots of blooms and green tomatoes, and plenty of red ones too. I picked a handful of about 20 today.
I'll take that! 
I love how the produce of a small farm changes so much from season to season. Some crops come around a second time (since we have a long growing season). Some come in bursts -- like Adam's leaf-making. He can only do it now, when the leaves are mature. In a couple of weeks, all these leaves will be yellow and dying. And elephant ears won't be big again until mid-summer. I like that we live in a dance-like comradery with these seasonal shifts of nature. I love that at any given time I can have eggs and nuts and beans and peas and tomatoes and herbs from my own plot of earth. That is quite rewarding.