Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sweet Gifts


Of friends, and from friends. These two ladies are a blessing. They dropped by the other day bringing the gorgeous horse hay over. But just the visit would have been nice enough. Good times.

Ashlee is just beginning her driving career, so we had to get a photo of her getting into her chariot for the day.

But mom, Elaine, drove down to our little barn while I led the way.

And Michael and Ashlee rode in high style.

"Oh!" the girls say, "Is that for us?"

Practicing the Barbie wave.

Moving the Sukkah lumber out of the way.

Smells like a lovely meadow.

The bales were quite light, but I showed Ashlee how to use hay hooks; a leftover from my days of moving 120-140 pound alfalfa bales in baling wire. These light bales with twine are easy to pick up and move with just your hands.

Boy, Gary had really packed these in! Took several of us to get one out of the bottom.

Ashlee taking the first hay treat to the girls.


And did you notice?

X marks the spot!

Follow that, and you are home.



Friday, October 23, 2009

Kombucha SCOBY - Fermented Drinks Part 2


My friend also sent me a SCOBY so I can begin making Kombucha Tea again.

This one looks like it may have been in hibernation a bit long, the front side is mostly good.

The back side is a bit aged.

Here is the bag is shipped in, containing a bit of the tea with it. This feeds the SCOBY while in transit and serves as the starter for the new tea.

I pour it into a half-gallon jar. Again, I'm only going to make a little bit to get this going again. We have a small amount of SCOBY in this case, so I won't ask much from it.

This gives it the right PH for growth. A SCOBY does the same thing for tea that Kefir grains do for milk. Exchange the sugar for probiotics. Plus, this one tastes even better!

Spring water would have been better, but I did not have any, so I'm using tap; one quart.

Bring it to a boil and remove from heat.

Add in 1/3 cup of sugar.

Stir to dissolve.

And add tea bags. For this small batch, four is plenty.

Let cool to room temperature.

The shape of your SCOBY depends on the shape of the top of the container it grew in. This one was in a gallon jar. I simply fold it and drop it into my half-gallon jar. The new SCOBY that forms will be the size of this jar.

Add in your cooled, sweetened tea to the starter and the SCOBY


Put a thin covering over it, such as this napkin, held on with a rubber band. It must breathe, but keep out bugs and bacteria.

And tuck it out of the way somewhere in a darker place. The cabinet will do fine again. Don't move it. If you do, the delicate film that is the beginning of the new SCOBY will be disturbed and it will have to start over.

This must ferment for about a week or so.

Maybe I will too... yawn....



Seed Saving


Yesterday we tried to collect up as many seeds from our garden as were available. We had so many failed crops that we did not get the seeds I was hoping for, but we got a few.

These are the very last peppers from the garden. It has frosted twice and the plants are now dead.

We also harvested some plantain for drying.

And the last bit of grapes, we are going to keep, since we did no spraying later in the season for this second crop.

Decided to try to dry some chives. No one recommends it, as they seem to lose a lot of flavor, but I buy dried chives at the store, and these would go to waste anyhow.

I can never get enough of the sky.

The fall colors are beginning to be well noticed.

The first thing we did was plant the Jerusalem Artichokes a friend sent me. They arrived with the grains. I've always wanted to try them, and even ordered them once, but they were never planted. So this was a special treat.

You dig a trench about 5 to 7 inches deep.

They say that anything under 2 ounces will not grow. That, in combination with the fact that in the lower 1/3 of the country, they do not thrive as well as the upper 2/3, I went ahead and spaced out the larger ones, and then used the smaller ones as possible filler.

We made two rows, each about 6 or so feet long, and dropped them in.

We shall see what comes up in the spring.

Next we decided to save these marigold seeds. I have no idea if they come up true to form, or if these are hybrids, but I hate letting seed go to waste. There were a lot of seeds on the ground, so I wonder how well these reseed themselves?

Michael is turning into such a man. He gets in there, studies the situation, and comes to me to help me with what he has figured out. I appreciate that so much. Here he's showing me how he found to pull the seeds out more quickly. We saved three colors in three different bags.

We bagged up Cosmos Bright Lights seeds. Again, I have not looked these up to see if they are hybrids. I am guessing they are, so the offspring may be a surprise.

Lovage is a biennial. These should overwinter, flower and seed in the spring. It is the roots that you harvest, for the most part.

The Fernleaf Dill.

Next was the cilantro which has already reseeded somewhat.

And the fennel.

We pulled one, to see about the bulb. But you have to get the bulbs early, as they are above the ground, not below. This one is beginning to grow new stalks, but I suspect it will be killed off before we get new bulbs. Maybe I'll cover the bases of a few and see what happens.

Then the broom corn we'd cut down a few weeks ago. I took most of it for a holiday decor vase, and we saved some seed from the rest.

Basil seed. We'll need to shake these out once they get just a bit drier.

A store-bought pie pumpkin that had not been made into pie yet. I'll save the seeds.

And letting the seeds air dry a bit more in the house as rain is coming again.

I have a craving for scrambled eggs and bacon, biscuits and gravy, fried potatoes with peppers/onion/bacon, sausage, waffles, and a huge glass of orange juice.

Guess I'll go eat an apple. :o)