Food storage, Fruit

Apples!

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My mother should be proud of this photo. We used a prop, we took several shots and everyone is looking at the camera with eyes wide open!

We went apple picking at a local preserve a few weeks ago. Green Point Farm is an old apple orchard that I remember picking at when I was in grade school. It has been closed for several years now and the apple trees were not doing well untended. Over the past few years there has been a push to tend the trees, pruning them and keeping the paths mowed to prevent invasive vines from taking over.

We had not picked apples here before, but it was lovely, ladders needed for sure. We had a great time trying apples on all the trees, deciding which ones would be good for applesauce and eating.

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Everyone is in the tree except me! 
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This fella hung out with #3 for quite some time while we were picking.

We had our big applesauce making this weekend as well. We made about 60 quarts to go with the 25 I had made earlier in the fall.

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                                                        Notice all the different shades of sauce?                                                                   This is from all the kinds of apples we used, each apple has a unique color and flavor. 

 

 

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Food storage, Fruit

Applesauce – Fall is Coming!

The beautiful basket of apples are all drops from a neighbors MacIntosh apple tree. We turned it into 5 quarts of applesauce. This was just a bit of the applesauce we will make for the year, all from local apples that our neighbors either don’t want or use, or that we barter for. This year we are hoping to make 100 quarts of applesauce as we didn’t get any blueberries, our usual spot was barren this year, and only five quarts of peaches.

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I chopped up the apples, removing bad spots, I left the peels on as we will use a special grinder to separate the stems and peels from the sauce, this saves a lot of time.

I added a little water and cooked the apples covered until they were quite soft. The softened apples then go in the grinder attachment, separating the peels and stems from the yumminess.

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While I was making applesauce, our oldest son, made apple crisp for breakfast the next day. He was using an apple peeler corer to save time and because it is fun to use.

 

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This is our set up for small batches of sauce with an attachment to our Kitchen Aid Mixer. We have a meat grinder with a special attachment for our large batches which is even faster then this. Cooked apples go in the top, sauce comes out into the yellow bowl and the skin comes out into the silver bowl.

 

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A view from above. I put all the waste in twice, by the time we were done I only had about a cup and a half of waste from the cooked apples. I had taken out bad spots and fed them to the chickens and most of the stems came out too, the chickens were thrilled! Leaving the skins on makes the sauce a little bit pink, which looks pretty on the table and in the jars.

I am working on my second batch of applesauce from our second pickup of dropped apples tonight and tomorrow, almost two bushels that the little and I picked up. The drops that were not appropriate to make into sauce we turned into pork, yummy, yummy!

Eat the ugly fruits and veggies is our motto. No need to waste good food that is covered with an ugly outside just because it looks funny. Make it into something pretty, like applesauce!

Farming, Fruit, Vegetables

What’s growing in the garden

This is a little update on our garden and what is growing right now.

We haven’t had a lot of success with fruit this year, only 5 quarts of canned peaches, no blueberries and no apples, apricots or plums on our trees this year, so I was thrilled that our Musk Melons actually grew to an edible size this year and thrived! We have eaten one delicious, juicy melon so far and there are several more on the way! So exciting!

Also exciting our delicious ever bearing raspberries, this variety, that I cannot remember the name of is sooooo sweet. My friend Kaite said it is one of the sweetest raspberries she has had in a long time.

 

Our peppers are exploding with yellow, orange, green, purple and jalapeno peppers galore! Some will get chopped and put in the freezer for stirfries and some will go in tomato sauce.

Our basil is going like crazy even though we had some wet and humid weather. I have dried quite a bit of it for gifts and use during the winter. I have also frozen quite a bit of it with garlic, but not cheese and nuts. This is my first year with really booming basil plants. I have been very excited about this success.

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Our weedy beets. They are growing great, even without a lot of attention.

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I was trying to avoid my winter squash plants growing all over the garden this year. I managed to get help with one trellis for our squash, I needed at least 4. I love how well it seems to be working in this section. It has kept many of the pumpkins contained and I can’t wait to see how they look when they turn orange. It will be so pretty. Next year more trellis before these beautiful plants take over the garden!

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What I was hoping to avoid was the squash taking over the overgrown raspberries so I could fix that bed how I wanted it this fall, hahaha. Clearly not going to happen right now!

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As you can see, the squash is temporarily taking over the raspberry bed and the pathways in the garden at the moment. My trellis idea would have worked really well if I had gotten the rest of it up in time. It is at least a two person operation to get it up and it wasn’t a priority this year. It will be next year to keep me sane!

We have been eating a lot of summer squash this summer. I thought I had one zucchini plant and three summer squash. It turned out I had four summer squash plants and no zucchini. I did end up with a volunteer zucchini plant in the beans. We got one zucchini on it. Better then nothing I say!

 

I have swiss chard and kale up the wazoo, but my salad greens didn’t come up this time, too hot perhaps?

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One of my favorite garden surprises was the tomatillo plant that was gorgeous, but not producing. I have it on a large trellis and thought perhaps it needed a buddy to make fruit. The other day we were in the garden and noticed that there are some fruits growing! It is just a late producer! So strange, but so exciting, I can’t wait for tomatillos to make salsa!

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Our carrots, planted very late are looking good, it has been a struggle to keep the children from eating them all now!

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We also have cucumbers, yummy! Number 2 likes them straight from the vine and Number 3 only likes pickled cucumbers, Number 1 doesn’t care for them at all, so it is a mixed bag around here!

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Tomatoes are starting to come in like crazy, yeah for tomato sauce, ketchup and salsa!

 

Our leeks are looking well too!

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Sweet potato vines are growing well, the true test will be when we dig them up to see if we have vole damage like last year. These are the vines I started this year, so I am excited to see how they produce!

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Our garden this year has been late, but beautiful, some things have been disappointing and others have been exciting and unexpected.

Every year on a farm brings new challenges, we learn from them and hope we are able to improve our knowledge for the next year. We are always learning and always up for the challenge even though it can be exhausting!

Food storage, Fruit

Peaches

Our peaches were a big disappointment this year. Last year I canned 28 quarts of peaches, plus all that we ate during the season. This year I canned 5 quarts of peaches.

We had some red squirrels that were stealing 10 to 12 peaches a day, biting them, eating a bit and leaving them on the ground. So frustrating to see all the waste on the ground. I threw them to the chickens so they weren’t a total waste, but we couldn’t eat them. When most of the peaches seemed pretty ripe I ended up picking everything except a few that were very green and calling it a day just to keep the squirrels from eating anymore. They were even taking bites out of some on the tree, testing for ripeness I assume.

 

This is a huge blow to our pantry and very sad. We have labeled each jar to be used for someone’s birthday as we make pies for birthdays and peach pie is a favorite all around. The pies will be small, I usually use two quarts per pie, instead we will have only one.

My boys are really good helpers during canning time. With peaches they help slip the skins and cut them up, removing the pit.

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Peaches in boiling water to loosen the skins, notice the slightly green peach on the lower left, that peach will not peal easily as it isn’t quite ripe.
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Peaches put in ice water after boiling water, the skins will pop right off as long as the peaches are ripe.
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Skinned peaches, aren’t they so pretty! I just love to see them!
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We remove the pit when we are canning, but you can can them pit in as well.
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One of our five cans of peaches. So pretty. We can them in there own juice with a little bit of lemon juice and I added a touch of sugar this time.

Although we are sad that we won’t have more peaches to eat throughout the winter and spring, we are grateful for the fruit we do have and plan to enjoy these immensely on our birthdays!

Farming, Food storage, Fruit

Picking Strawberries

We went to Milkweed Farm, about 20 minutes from us to pick strawberries for the freezer as ours are in the first year and not prolific by any stretch of the imagination.

Milkweed Farm in Brunswick is a wonderful place, Lucretia Woodruff, farmer extraordinar, has created an amazing farm with her family. Her knowledge of fruit and biodynamic farming techniques, amaze me and I wanted to glean any information I could from her.

This was a perfect place to pick with small children. Lucretia had last years strawberry patch available for the kids to pick from, right next to this years patch. There is also a play area with slides and hay bales etc. I had three mama friends with me and we had 8 children under 8 with us, they were easily entertained for the hour and a half we were there.

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Into the freezer for a taste of summer anytime

T was with me as well and both of us picked 8 pounds of strawberries in less then 1.5 hours. I cut and froze 10 quarts, and the rest was for immediate consumption, yuuuuummm! So tasty! We may have to go back in the next couple of weeks!

Find our more about Milkweed Farm here:

Www.milkweedfarm.net

Farming, Fruit, Vegetables

What’s Growing Right now…

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McFarland Lilacs are still blooming. I love that they arrive after the regular whites and purples. They re such a pretty color!

 

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Green beans, these are a variety called provider, I saved the seeds from last year.
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Swiss chard in the greenhouse, ready to be picked…
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Cukes in the greenhouse, ready to climb the trellis, it has blossoms all
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Zucchini in the greenhouse, blossoms almost ready to open…
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Peaches, yumm
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Pears, delicious, but time consuming to preserve
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Black raspberries
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Mulberries, these are so delicious. They will turn a dark reddish black before they are ready to harvest, so sweet and juicy.
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Basil, my first year growing it successfully from seed, strange that the have had so much trouble with it.
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Cilantro, can’t do without this tasty herb
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My home grown sweet potato slips planted in the garden. I managed to plant them Saturday morning before lacrosse games and before rain arrived.
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Peas! Something nibbled at a couple plants so I covered them with deer fencing, not sure if it was a little creature, like a bunny or a deer.
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Baby Leeks and kale and Swiss chard. Ready to be transplanted…
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Leaf lettuce, yum
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Mustards, planning to grow my own mustard seeds this year, whoop, whoop! I’m going to put some diatomaceous earth on these, the tiny holes could be flea beetles…
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Garlic Scapes, oh summer food we love you!
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Strawberries, this was our first ripe one, the three boys got to split it, luckies

 

 

Farming, Fruit, Vegetables

Farm update…

It has been a busy couple of weeks on the farm.

We added to our garden area at the away field, started hilling potatoes over there and are ready to plant another 35 lbs of potatoes and more onions. That is one of this weeks projects (hopefully, mom life means it isn’t always done in the timely manner that I wish it was) The Littles will be spending some time at my grandmothers on Wednesday morning and my plan is to work like crazy at the away field to get it all planted at least.

Adding more garden space meant collecting more manure from a local horse farm. We rented a dump trailer for this and hoped to haul poop all weekend. This was cut short when the tractor at the farm wasn’t working properly. River was able to get six loads. This is less then half of what we hoped for. We got 5 loads at the field and 1 load at our farm.

We laid down cardboard in the away field then put the manure on top of the cardboard. We will spread woodchips around the outside on top of the cardboard to keep the grasses from taking over the potatoes and onions.

I am also building some new beds at our house. We have a combination of raised beds ( it is extremely wet in our field in early spring) and beds directly in the soil. My hope this week is to add more of our compost to at least one of the ground beds and plant carrots. Surrounding the bed with cardboard and  woodchips to keep the weeds at bay. We would like all our paths to have woodchips on them as we use a no till system at this time, this would help keep down the weeds and give the boys a visual of where they may put there little feet. This is a challenge!

I will be weeding in the greenhouse and we will be taking the top and one side off the greenhouse. We do this to wash away salts and other things that can build up in the greenhouse soil. This year I have planted all my peppers and tomatoes in the field to have a little crop rotation in there. I have planted summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and Jenny Lind Musk melons in there. The cukes and melons will grow on trellis’.  I am going to plant some other goodies in there too as I have more space.

My vole traps are working really well. I am still catching critters in them, so I move them around a bit to keep it fresh. I don’t want the little critters to catch on to my tricks! I am missing a rat trap, it would seem that there is a larger critter that Has found our trapped critters make an easy meal. So they have taken to opening the boxes and removing  the rat traps, and leaving them strewn about the garden.

Our fruit production will be low this year. Two of our peach trees died. Our apricot, apple and plum trees all had lovely blossoms, but no fruit has formed. They may have gotten a touch of frost at the wrong time. Our peach and pear trees are loaded with fruit as are the raspberries, black raspberries and mulberry plants.  About half our blueberries have fruit. I think some may need new homes to produce more fruit. More sun perhaps.

We picked our first strawberry yesterday. That was the highlight of our week so far harvest wise.

This is just a little update on recent and current events happening at Firehouse Farm.