Last Week On The Homestead: Keeping Squash Bugs At Bay, Processing Strawberries, Red Squirrels, and More!

 
Farm-fresh eggs & hydrangeas = summer on the homestead...


Hello friends!  I'm trying a new style of post to see how I like it.  While I don't intend to necessarily write this every single week, I'm thinking I might enjoy a week-in-review type of post rather than a monthly one.  I'd love to hear what you think!

July 4-10, 2022
We enjoyed mostly beautiful weather this past week.  Sunshine, high's in the upper 70's to low 80's, and low humidity.  That is the perfect combination in my book!  We could use some rain although I think most of you are probably thinking the same thing.  Never enough rain in summer.

Oliver sleeps fine during the day.....night-time is another story.
On Monday, the 4th of July, we didn't have plans to attend any Independence Day activities.  I had only received 3 hours of sleep Saturday into Sunday (Oliver has rough nights from time-to-time....) and then we had the farmers market on Sunday, so I was still quite tired come Monday.  I was grateful we were taking it easy.  We cleaned out our vehicles, got the chicks outside so they could enjoy the weather and so I could clean out their coop, hung laundry out on the line to dry, and enjoyed a nice evening outside. 

Jack loves all of his beds.
The downfall to July 4th is the fireworks.  It seems everyone wants to set off their own fireworks and Jack is terrified of loud noises.  I mean absolutely terrified.  I feel so sorry for him, and all of the wild animals who have no idea what is going on and when it will stop.  I can't even imagine the terror they experience.  We do give Jack something to help but it still upsets him quite a lot.  There were fireworks around us both Sunday night and Monday night.  Thankfully not Friday thru Monday, which is what we were expecting, and what has happened in years past.

The chicks are getting big!

We received rain on Tuesday making the garden and flowers happy.  The garden shows its gratitude by growing immensely in the days following (as do the weeds, of course).  The Coop Girls are so much fun to watch on rainy days.  They hang out under the shelter while it rains, and then, as soon as it lets up to a drizzle, they run out and look for worms.  They will hunt worms until it starts pouring again, which is when they run back undercover and wait for the next break.

I enjoy listening to the 2 red squirrels chatter in the mornings.  They have a distinctive rattle call that I find amusing.  Do you have any red squirrels?  I know they can be incredibly destructive but so far this pair is not bothering us, so I continue to enjoy them.  They seem to hang out mostly at our neighbor's property to our west.  There are quite a few trees between their house and ours, and particularly in the mornings, they chatter about and race around from tree to tree.  If they weren't so darn quick, I would try to get a picture of them.

I spend the early mornings searching for woodpeckers as well.  There are plenty of dead trees on our property and those on each side of us, so I can usually spot a few hard at work.  We have the most magnificent pileated woodpeckers who visit regularly.  They are huge!  You can hear them hammering away at trees and because they are so large with such a glorious flaming red crest, they are fairly easy to spot.


the arugula patch keeps on growing!

I have been continuing to harvest radish, sugar snap peas, lettuces and herbs from the garden.  I also harvested the last of the bok choy.  I was afraid it would bolt in this coming week's heat and humidity.  My next crops of beets and carrots are probably a month or so away from being large enough to harvest.  I've lost one cucumber vine to the dreaded squash bugs..... Such a bummer.  I've heard that planting dill and loofah around squash deters squash bugs.  Do you have any experience with this?  I had 2 dill plantings that I quickly moved next to some of the squash plants and then purchased 4 more plants from a farmer friend so I wouldn't have to wait for them to grow from seed.  I didn't plant loofah this year but may try planting it with cucumber next year to see if it helps.


Our green beans, zucchini, and cucumbers are getting close to harvest.  As are the next crop of broccoli.  We have quite a few green tomatoes on the plants, but it will be some time before they are ready.  I'm realizing that I did not plant enough cherry tomatoes this year.  I had wanted to dehydrate a bunch of them - I love adding them to soups and tomato dishes to add such a wonderful fresh flavor.  I'm not sure I'll have enough to eat fresh and save, but we'll see.

I was able to add lawn clippings to two more raised garden beds.  As noted in a previous post, I'm using it as a mulch.  The Coop Girls, who are always the recipients of such green goodness, gave me a piece of their mind when they saw me taking two loads of it into the garden.  It's funny how some of their traits are similar ours.  We also tend to focus on what we feel we've lost rather than what we have or receive.


Strawberries reducing for strawberry jam.
I made strawberry jam this week and canned it for future use.  When I say "future" I guess I mean any time after it's made because I see that one jar is almost gone...  I made it pectin-free, which is my favorite way.  It's so delicious!  Reduced sugar and no pectin give it the right amount of sweetness and a nice, deep, strawberry flavor from the longer reduction.  After all of the canning was complete, I realized I forgot to process some strawberries so, no worries, I made roasted strawberry stuffed bread (made it up as I went - deliciousness!) and strawberry & biscuits using our favorite biscuit recipe here (subbed butter with coconut oil and whipping cream with coconut milk - sooooo good!)

tortilla dough resting
I also made a few batches of flour tortillas for the freezer.  I like keeping them on hand in the freezer for quick lunches or dinners.  I use the KAF recipe here.  They also have a GF version here.  This is one of the things I try to always make from scratch as the store-bought are usually so full of junk.  Plus, the homemade version is quick & easy.  To freeze: I cut squares of parchment paper to place between each tortilla shell.  They don't have to completely cover the tortilla.  Then I place the stack in a freezer safe bag and toss in the freezer.  I re-use the parchment squares and bag for future tortilla shells.  

I was able to put excess basil and cilantro from the garden in the freezer as well.

We make and package products every week so soap, body butter, tired feet lotion stick and lip balm was on the schedule for this week.  Soap is made almost every single week of the year.

We are trying to avoid driving as much as possible.  It's just one more unnecessary expense.  I did top off my tank on Sunday though at a reduced rate!  Reduced from the last time (still way more than it should be).  For some reason it was $4.53/gallon, 36 cents per gallon less than last time.  The one non-essential trip every week is that Jay goes fishing.  It's nice for him to get out and enjoy his favorite summer hobby.  

I've written before about my appreciation for Regina Brett's writing and I wanted to share a link to her "15 Lessons For The Third Quarter Of Life".  Whether or not you are in your third quarter it's a great quick read.


Wishing you a wonderful week ahead!

6 comments

Katie C. said...

How do you keep the tortillas separated so you can take a few out of the freezer at a time?

Staci said...

Hi Katie - great question! I meant to include it in the blog post and will add it now. I cut squares of parchment paper and use them between each tortilla. They don't have to be the full size of the tortilla, just enough so they won't completely stick together. I reuse those squares with future batches.
-Staci

Laurie said...

I loved seeing all the photos from your farm! We also have pileated woodpeckers, though I hear them more than I see them. I can't remember if that was the GF tortilla recipe I already tried, so I will have to give it a go. So far, I haven't found any GF recipes for bread or tortillas I loved. There have been good desserts, though, and I'm thankful for that.

No help with the squash bug plants. I just squish them when I see them, and remove any eggs. There's still time to plant more cucumbers. In fact, we planted a third round over the weekend. Well, I'm not sure about your region. We started succession cropping them a few years ago, and generally have them all summer. The strawberry and biscuits look like they must have been amazing!

Kathy said...

A weekly blog post would be great and less time consuming that a big monthly round up while the week's activities are fresh in your mind too. Your garden is looking great too. Have a good week.

Staci said...

Laurie thank you! Aren't the pileated woodpeckers something? Yes, I'm on the hunt most days for squash bugs in an attempt to keep my plants alive. Fingers crossed the dill works out. Yes, the strawberries and biscuits were amazing indeed!
Have a wonderful week!

Staci said...

Thank you so much Kathy! Wishing you a wonderful week as well.