This Month On The Farm: August 2020

 


The last two days we've woken to a beautiful chill in the air.  A gentle reminder that fall really is coming.  Somehow we've found ourselves in the last weeks of summer.  The beautiful cricket chirping melody has pretty much stopped in the evenings and the hummingbirds are busily sucking up the last bits of nectar from the flowers and feeders each day.  Moths, butterflies, and bees have not, unfortunately, been plentiful this year but we are seeing and enjoying a handful or so.

August was full of heat and humidity, like a thick wool blanket you just can't shed.  It's been the same story our entire summer this year, which is unusual for these parts.  Except for the last week.  We did have a nice reprieve during the last week.  The garden was the only thing on our homestead that actually appreciated this summers weather.

I find it most difficult when it doesn't cool overnight.  I love a cool bedroom and, while the a/c allows for that, it's just not the same.  I also have to remind myself that it's only for 3 months out of the year.  Every year gets easier for me to keep this in perspective and begin to enjoy the season of life we are in and all that comes with it.


If the occasional weather cooldown doesn't give us a signal that fall is coming, then the chickens certainly do.  Their egg laying is starting to lighten as their bodies begin to anticipate a fall shed of their feathers.  Between their fall molt and their increasing ages, I anticipate a lot less egg production going into next year.



Garden Re-Cap

Our garden did really well this year.  I'm sure it was partly due to all of the attention it finally received from me but also partly from the good soil we've been building.  We still have some work to do with the soil, but I think we're getting close.

The whistle pig took out almost all of our greens, broccoli, and cauliflower early on but once I replanted, we had a really nice array of veg.  The cucumbers were the only thing that struggled this year and I've never had issues with them in the past so I'm not sure what happened.  The fruit set late and we haven't received too many, which actually, I guess isn't a bad thing. 

The dozens of chipmunks living on our property have enjoyed the garden as well.  I see bits of veg laying about as they taste test things daily.  I do wish they would remember from one day to the next what they do/don't like so there isn't so much waste.  The chickens are happy with this, however, as they are the recipients of any perfectly ripe and beautiful veggies featuring bite marks.


We were lucky enough to get more tomatoes then we'd anticipated so we will not need to purchase any from a local farm for preserving.  We also harvested enough poblano peppers and almost enough jalapeno peppers this year.  We will, however, need to purchase more bell peppers (for freezing), a few dozen jalapeno peppers (for stuffing and freezing), a couple of bags of corn, and quite a few apples (for applesauce, dried apple slices, and apple pie filling).



Going into September we're still harvesting tomatoes, eggplant, melons, all types of peppers, green beans, cucumbers, cabbage (I still have 16 heads left to pick), kale, swiss chard and lettuces.  Almost ready is a new batch of summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi (only 3 left), swiss chard, kale, misc. salad greens, beets, carrots, pie pumpkins, and herbs.  Potatoes and sweet potatoes should be ready this month as well.


Putting Food Up
We've been canning and freezing quite a bit of garden overflow this month.  

In the freezer we have oven-roasted tomatoes, oven-roasted tomato sauce, whole tomatoes, green beans, strawberries, corn, shredded zucchini, roasted poblano's, mirepoix, carrots, peas, pesto, and greens.  

In the cupboard we have jars of tomato jam, crushed tomatoes, relish, and pickled jalapenos.  I also have dried many of our herb excess and dozens of onions are cured and stored in our basement.

Once we receive more regular cooler days I will be using frozen tomatoes to can tomato sauce, enchilada sauce, and salsa, and frozen strawberries to can strawberry jam.



Getting Things Done
I shared last month that we were coming along with our to-do list.  Well, we ended up adding a couple more items.  A conversation about an idea we'd had a couple years ago to make storage available behind our basement door for excess canned goods turned into my husband dreaming up a new storage unit idea for the basement that he volunteered to build.  He also offered to make me a cutting board specifically for bread with some of his wood scraps.  So they were added to the list!




Hearty & Delicious Sourdough
I crave bread in the fall and winter.  Partly, I think, because I begin making soup regularly (and I enjoy soup even more when accompanied by a big hunk of crusty bread) and partly because it's just cold weather comfort food for me.  I'm going to try to make the majority of our bread products with sourdough this year.

I'm working on a new starter.  Because I don't tend to make much bread in the summer I use up my starter at the beginning of the season and switch to this no-knead bread for any of our roll or bread needs.  I decided to start it back up again a couple of weeks ago and had come across (affiliate link) this book by Mary Jane Butters (of Mary Jane's Farm).  She actually gives recipes for regular and gluten-free flours as well as a lot of bread and other recipes for using the discard.  I haven't been able to make bread with mine yet (it's almost 2 weeks old) but will share my thoughts about the starter and recipes once I'm able to make them. 


Cobble Hill Farm Soap
The business has been very steady over the past few months and while our summer business has been cut in half, we are grateful for half.  We remind ourselves that many don't even have that.  As I mentioned in the past, we are enjoying this slower pace that this year has unexpectedly brought and making the most of it.


To Stockpile Or Not To Stockpile
So have you decided to stockpile some necessities going into fall?  We are being a bit more mindful of it this year and making sure we have ourselves pretty much taken care of for a few months.  We always have freezers full of meat, veggies, fruit and such as well as fairly stocked cupboards, but we will include more pantry staples and toiletries this year as well.  In our area freezers themselves are scarce, there's still hoarding of some grocery store items (and we still have limits on items at a few of the stores), and, of course, there's concern going into fall because no one knows what it will bring.

8 comments

Kathy said...

I love hearing about your veggie garden and everything you have been preserving. On the financial and health side of 2020 it's been horrible for so many people however on the other side of things slowing down, appreciating the little things and realizing people do not have to be busy 24/7 to enjoy life I think has been a benefit. Have a good week. Kathy, Brisbane, Australia

daisy g said...

So good to have an update on what's happening on your homestead.
Glad that your harvest is still coming in! Sounds like you have a wealth of goodies to preserve and enjoy all winter long.

We are stocking up on some things. I actually bought a 10 pound bucket of RealSalt and make sure to pick up a package of toilet paper each week at the grocery store. Water is always picked up when we make our once or twice a week trips to the grocery. I'm still trying to come up with an alternative to buying bottled water.

We don't know what November will bring, but I just pray that there is a shift in our nation's well-being. Lord knows we need a change.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Windy Meadows Farm said...

I've been enjoying MaryJane's Wild Bread for a few months now...I think you'll love it! So good to know if yeast is out of the stores, we can still make bread. I keep mine on the counter so I can make more than one recipe a week...it's really great. They also have a wildbread chatroom...so nice to ask questions and get quick answers.

Could you share your recipe for picked jalapenos...ours are ready to pick and that sounds terrific.

Looking forward to fall...it's been a long, hot & humid summer!
Mary - Windy Meadows Farm

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Kathy - so true regarding slowing down. I just hope everyone has the ability and means to enjoy it. :)

Daisy - I completely agree. Have you ever looked into a filtration system for water like a Berkey? The downfall is it needs counterspace. We installed a water filtration system under our sink and have a separate faucet for drinking water. I'm sooooo happy we did it!

Mary - thank you for letting me know you've successfully used her sourdough recipes! I must say this starter looks so much different from my "normal" starter but it smells sourdough-delicious! :) Yes, I will post the SUPER simple recipe for pickled jalapenos!

Tamara said...

Hi Staci,
I too am in the North but just a tad bit further up than you. (Interior Alaska). I'm so looking forward to the slower months coming up. I can work on soap, jams and jellies finally which will empty the freezer some. (Hard to believe I'm complaining about a full freezer).
Tamara
bellsofthenorthhomestead.com

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Hi Tamara - yes, you are certainly a tad further north! :) I know what you mean about the freezer. As grateful as I am to have ours fully stocked going into winter it's so full that it's difficult to find what you are looking for. That will be fixed in a matter of a month of eating from it though.

Tamara said...

Hi Staci,
Yesterday was a hoot. A friend gifted us several loaves of store bought bread that we had stashed in the freezer. At lunch time my son asked me to make him a sandwich while he was in class and I had to empty half of this freezer just to get to the bread. We went salmon fishing in Valdez recently and it seriously filled our freezers to the point where there is no more room! I smoked some salmon, canned some too, but I think I'm going to have to get creative soon as we'll be harvesting rabbits in a month.
Tamara
bellsofthenorthhomestead.com

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Tamara - that's too funny. It sounds like what we're doing right now. I have freezer inventory sheets for each of the freezers so we know which freezer to dig in when looking for something specific. Thank goodness for freezer bins!! They help tremendously. Happy to hear you were able to get a nice amount of salmon. Sounds like you are nicely stocked going into winter!!