This Month On The Homestead: July 2021



July around our homestead was filled with a garden bursting at the seams, a lawn constantly in desperate need of mowing, simple dinners, great temps but high humidity, and a whole lot of rain (so grateful for it).  We welcomed with open arms a few cooler mornings which are so appreciated in the heart of summer.  Iced coffee and tea are always brewing, batch-cooking, air frying, and grilling are the main ways we're cooking these days, and lots of cold salads with ingredients right from the garden are on the lunch and dinner tables daily.



Our home has been filled with freshly picked hydrangeas, sunflowers, peonies, poppies, daisies, carnations, cosmos, roses, and greenery as well as the scent of fresh veggies, quick pickled cucumbers, and delicious vegan pesto (made weekly).  In the garden, the pepper plants are loaded with flowers and peppers, the tomato plants stand about 8 feet tall and are loaded with ripening fruit, the cucumber plants are flourishing, and the summer squash plants, for my first time ever, are struggling.  I've replanted green bean plants three times because they kept getting eaten.  Come to find out I am fighting against wildlife yet again.  This time a couple of very cute and hungry wild bunnies.





In The Garden - remember that our veggies take a bit longer to ripen, so although many of you have lots of produce the end of June/beginning of July, our time of abundance is usually toward the end of July.  Because we are in zone 5a and our homestead is mostly shaded, it takes a bit longer but is sooooo worth the wait!

We had LOTS of veg in July.  Sugar snap peas, the last of the asparagus, lettuces, greens (mustard, kale, arugula, spinach, & chard), green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, plenty of herbs, potatoes, and a few summer squash all made their way from the garden and into the kitchen.  Ok, many of the sugar snap peas didn't actually make it to the kitchen.  They are just so good to snack on while working in the garden!  Our beets are not quite ready so we've been lucky to get them weekly at our CSA.  I cook up the greens and then roast the beet root.

Our potatoes were in temporary places this year as we still have some more work to do in our garden space.  They did pretty good though.  A few of the plants died off early so I've got to research what may have caused that, but we've had a nice harvest so far.  I didn't use seed potatoes, instead I planted some organic potatoes I get at our local health food store.  This is the second year I've done that and I've had really good success with it.  We have more potato plants going strong so we should be harvesting into fall.

Our Asian Pear tree is LOADED with fruit!  We've had really good luck with this fruit.  Originally we had 2 trees and the one that ultimately died of a fungus had been producing amazingly until the unfortunate happened.  Ever since that trees demise the second tree has been absolutely prolific in fruit.  They are so crisp and sweet....I can't wait!

I planted most of our fall veggies.  I am holding off on the bok choy and celtuce because I have fall varieties of both so heat and humidity will make them bolt.  I'll plant them toward the end of August.

I've come to a conclusion that I'm going to turn the front yard into a garden space.  It's the sunniest spot on the property, so it will help a few of the veggies that need more sun then what our garden space can provide.  Our front yard is very small because almost all of our property is behind the house, so it doesn't seem too terribly overwhelming.  We'll start to transition it next year, adding a small barrier to keep soil from falling onto the walkway, cardboard to the grass (to kill it) and mulch and soil on top of the cardboard.  Hopefully the following year it will be all set to plant and we'll continue to build up the soil over the next few years.  The only problems I can foresee is that we have a lot of moles in the front yard so we'll need to tackle the grub problem that keeps them coming back, and we almost always have woodchucks in the front.  It will take some trial and error but, fingers crossed, we'll get it figured out.

I mentioned in the spring that we joined a CSA this year to try and provide a bit more veggies to our table and to preserve.  It was probably not the best idea.  Because we grow so much what I had hoped to get from the CSA was an excess of items to preserve, and earlier versions of some of what we grow.  Because it is a pick-your-own CSA we've found it's hard to get the veggies we actually want because the plants are completely stripped before we can get there.  Our garden should be back to full production next year (we have 2 more raised beds to build and some in-ground beds to set-up) so we should be all set with what we can grow.  We'll just pick up the few things we don't grow at the farmers market or local farms (corn, melons, strawberries, and excess winter squash and blueberries for freezing).


In The Coop - Egg production is still good, however, they are slowing a bit.  I'm not sure if it's because of the changes in weather (both humidity and temps) since they are all older it may affect them more.  We've never had them molt this early so I don't think it could be that.



In The Kitchen - it's been all about preserving the harvest!  So far I've put up 4 gallon sized bags of broccoli (from our garden and the CSA), 2 gallon sized bags of strawberries (from the farmers market), 1 gallon sized bag of green beans, a half gallon bag of vegan pesto, 3 gallon sized bags of shredded cabbage (from the CSA), 3 gallon sized bags of shredded kale, 1 gallon sized bag of snow peas, 1 gallon sized bag of sugar snap peas, and 2 gallon sized bags of shredded mixed greens in the freezer (from our garden and the CSA).  I don't plan to freeze any summer squash this year.  We didn't enjoy it much the past 2 years.  I do hope to be able to freeze more broccoli, more greens, some cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and winter squash. 

I've been preserving eggs as well as we prepare for the annual molt.  My husband eats just over half a dozen eggs a week so it's very doable.  I've been freezing some (raw whole egg blended white and yolk and then frozen in ice cube trays and transferred to a freezer bag) and we're also rotating through 5 dozen refrigerated eggs so we always have 5 dozen on hand.  They are unwashed so they should last, theoretically, for months.

I haven't been canning as of yet but plan to water bath can some jams and tomato products.  I froze the strawberries to make jam once the humidity dropped a bit so I may start that up soon.  I don't plan to take up pressure canning this year but I'm going to watch for one to purchase used. 

grilled pepperoni pizza

grilled vegan pizza
On a non-preservation note, we've been grilling our pizza and it's soooo delicious!  A few years ago I would grill our pizza but struggled with the timing of putting the toppings on.  Well this time around I've got it figured out!  I grill the first side for a few minutes until it's lightly charred and done, then I remove it to a pizza peel, non-cooked side down.  I add the toppings to the grilled side and place it back on the grill, non-cooked side down.  By the time the second side is cooked the toppings are heated!  

I have no idea why I didn't figure this out before.  I used to grill the first side until done, then grill the second side partially, remove it and add toppings, then put back on the grill.  The problem was that the pizza crust was done but the toppings weren't yet warmed.  The solution was so simple!  (I use our regular pizza dough recipe)  It is an absolute favorite meal this summer.


Oliver

Jackson trying to catch a glimpse of Felix
Oliver & Jackson - Jack is doing well.  He has discovered that I've been feeding a feral cat that has been hanging around in the woods between us and a neighbor so he's obsessed with trying to get a peek at him.  Can you say jealous???  Actually I have no idea if it's a him or her but we are currently referring to "him" as Felix although we'll change it to Felicia if needed should we ever get close enough to see.  

Ollie is holding his own.  He's still happy and comfortable although we've had to make some amendments to his medication regimen this month to ensure that.  But that's all we can hope for.  If you follow us on instagram you likely saw the video I posted last week with Oliver rolling around in the sun.  We are so grateful that his pain is managed so well in order for him to be able to do things like this allowing him to have a fairly normal life.  He is also very sensitive to changes in his routine at this stage of his life so we are careful to respect that as much as we can.




Cobble Hill Farm Soap & Mercantile - we've added on the "and mercantile" because my husband has returned to his LOVE of woodworking.  He's starting to make kitchen utensils and is having a great time.  Although he still makes the soap, I've taken over making all of the other products and packaging them to free him up to work in his woodshop.

One of the very good things that came from the shut-down last year was that we realized we wanted to slow our business down even more.  Although initially it was done for us by having all but one craft show cancelled, we are now choosing to cut down the number of shows we will attend.  This gives us the free time we'd been wanting and still allows us to make a living.  Our online store has remained busy which we are very grateful for and we will stick with just the one farmers market which has always been good for us.


That's what happened around our homestead.  I'm hoping you had a wonderful July as well!

3 comments

daisy g said...

So great to see an update from you, girl! Your garden looks so inviting and it inspires me to really focus on making a perimeter fence on our garden and chook area.

Sounds like your garden was very productive this season. Congrats on growing so much, even though you deal with shade and a shorter growing season.

Glad the critters are doing fine. You are still getting a lot of eggs! Two of our girls are molting, so they have slowed down as well.

Enjoy your weekend!

Windy Meadows Farm said...

So nice to read and catch up on your homestead...summer harvest is such a busy time, but it's so nice when most of a meal comes from your own backyard!

The pizza looks amazing! Wow...we only have a charcoal grill, so regulating the heat is tricky and it may not work for us, but I'd love to try it.

The honey dipper looks so much like a vintage one I have...what a talent, they're really beautiful.

Glad to hear all is well...keep as cool as possible. I'm having an ice herbal tea right now to try and beat the heat, then planning to till the garden much later this evening. So nice to hear from you...enjoy the rest of the week! Mary

Kathy said...

Your garden is looking great and a good idea to have more of a work/life balance with your business. There is no point being stressed and run off your feet, making it work for you have having just enough $$ to enjoy life is what it's all about. The pizza looks great, we are going to have pizza tonight so I'm going out to get some more bread flour as my sourdough bread making has been such a joy. We were in an 8 day lockdown last week and I ended up using all the flour up I had bought. Have a good week. Kathy, Brisbane, Australia