Sunday, July 15, 2007

and now, back to our regular programming

Sort of.

The good news is we, well, husband, got the new axle in the van, and the oil changed, and the transmission fluid topped up. The bad news is, that didn’t cause it to stop what it is doing, which I swear is acting like the axle is bad. I guess it could be the other one, the one we put a new on in two years ago. It did cost us one mashed finger and a few hours out of the garden.

State of the Blackberries
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

The blackberries are coming in. Which means it is time to make enough jam to last a year, and that in a jamful family. We try to have at least 100 pints in the shelves before jam making season is over. You don’t pick blackberries unless you really want them. It is hot, june bugs fly at you, and the thorns tear your skin no matter what you do. And yet somehow it is a pleasure. Canning is the same way. It is hot, no two ways about it, but when you set those jars out and there’s pleasure food, well, there ya go.

The potatoes have made themselves and it looks like we have a good crop. We’ll harvest out of the patch for eating potatoes now. Later on we’ll pull up three or four milk crates full to the basement, and dig and hole the rest. They are primarily good fist sized potatoes. You could live on potatoes but you’d have to eat an awful lot of them. They say the Irish, during some of the worst exploitation by the British, ate 10 to 17 POUNDS of potatoes at a sitting. They were working. Working is a good thing.

We’ve got sweet corn ready to eat and the hard corn is coming right along. The Hickory King is over 12 feet tall, tasseling, and setting ears mostly over my head. We’re hopeful for the beans and squash in the corn patch too. Except for the damn enemy, the deer (she's in the photo below) who has eaten every patch of beans in the garden proper, and the sweet potatoes, and nibbled everything else. I think the neighbors are feeding her, taming her. Last spring we had a deer we caught by hand and we thought it had to be sick. This year, this one. I think it is that Bill, with emphysema, is entertaining himself between cigarettes.

Enemy #47, 2B Dinner
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

I saved seed from the fava beans today. Favas are interesting. Not in the usual pantheon of food, and yet a nice treat both to grow and eat. The first year we did them, we really didn’t know how to eat them. Now we know, shell, parboil, hull, THEN make them into something. Our favorites are probably a hummus-y sort of pate and, get this, take a bean so hulled, mash flat, and fry into a chip.

Here is my friend under the dish drainer.

Pet Spider
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

An assortment of chickens and chicks. We're in the middle of integrating the new chicks into the coop with the older chickens. I should cull some of them. I'll have the boys to kill in a few weeks.

Chicks and Chickens
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.


Cielo Singer said...

Is your friend a wolf spider or what? My hubby makes frends w/ spiders too, and has been known to feed writing spiders on occasion.

Joe Tornatore said...

beautiful photos, well except for the spider.

the Contrary Goddess said...

And joe, I thought the photo of the spider was the best! I would call her a Leopard spider. I don't feed them, exactly, but I pretty much let them be.

Ren said...

I love the spider. I left one up in the corner of the living room recently because it was fun to watch and I figured it might eat some of the pesky flies that annoy me.

We found a small lacewing today and tried to take a pic but it flew away. They're so pretty. Those and the cidadas.

I agree about the pain of picking blackberries...somehow I keep going back for more.

I figured out that if we want a pint of jam per week, I need to freeze only 52...that's being conservative but I thought 10 pints of 5 different fruits would be a nice start. Then I figured it won't all fit in the freezer. damn. Maybe I'll have to do cooked jam this year. sigh. I really like the idea of freezer jam...with all those lovely enzymes intact.

100 pints is a LOT. Cool.

Ren said...

Oh, and a question. We have deer in the backyard occasionally. None have come up near the house where we're growing things yet. If we put feed out near the woods for them are we going to regret it? My thought was if they get feed back there, maybe they'll leave the rest alone. But maybe I'm just inviting problems.

Alecto said...

We have a serious deer issue in the over-populated Northeast. There is no way to have a garden without an 8 foot fence and well latched gate. I thought this was because we are so over populated and there are so many of them; I had no idea it was a similar issue once you got out of the heavily populated areas. At first I thought it might be OK to just share but then I realized that deer don't share! We have maybe 1/2 an acre of really beautiful raspberries but never get more than a handful of them!

I think your spider is beautiful. When we kept a small (6 acre) farm in the Valley we had many spiders spinning webs right at the foundation edge in the basement. I swear they caught most of what would have been a horrific ant population coming in the house. We don't have so many where we live now. I miss them.

arcolaura said...

I'd say feeding deer is asking for trouble. They'll get used to you, and they'll make more of themselves.

the Contrary Goddess said...

Deer are for eating, not feeding. They are wild animals and do not need to be fed. Their biggest problem is lack of predation, so eating them equals good. They are also not hard to dress, not too big to deal with.

As to sharing with the deer (and others), we do to some extent. We plant enough to plan to have some loss. But this deer, and I'm pretty sure it is THE one in the photo, is wiping us out.

Which, I hate freezer jam. Just think it tastes awful. Plus, while I'm a fan of enzymes, I also realize that some nutrients become more available with processing -- like a lot of things in tomatoes, the longer they are processed, the more you get of them. So eat tomatoes raw AND cooked to smithereens. I have no evidence but I wouldn't be surprised if the same isn't true of blackberries.

Alecto said...

I would very much like to eat the deer in my back yard. I have been taught to dress a deer. I was twelve but I'm betting I could still work it out. I can also imagine my neighbors' collective uproar... it's almost worth working it out.

Madcap said...

Love that new profile picture!

the Contrary Goddess said...

Thanks MCM.

Alecto, that deer would go real well on the barbie! They are easy to dress (this is relative, but really, they are -- not too big, easily skinned, big enough to be worthwhile). But how you going to kill it? Which, I can't wait to read that blog post!

Alecto said...

erm. I will be hanged at sunrise for an offense as egregious as killing a 'harmless animal'...and I might be all right with that. I'll let you know when I work it out. The grill, it's big and besides I'd like to mess with salting meat anyway.

Mike said...

lol, I hear you on the deer. We have them coming out of the woodwork here as well. Yup, they need to be thinned out a little more.