Wednesday, November 6, 2013

With me...Without Me

The cows were out grazing in the field this morning and
I had to snap a picture of this bucolic scene.
Simply beautiful, fresh, open air
and clean, green grass. 
Do you know the source of your milk?  If not, you might want to do some research.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Little Apple Jelly Gems

Tiny Little Jars of Tasty Apple Jelly
They are so pretty and cute, but I forgot to splash vinegar into the water bath canner so I will have to clean off the mineral film from the outside of the jars.  Nevertheless, I love the way they look.

I can't wait to sample some.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Snob is Born

Son #2:  "Do we have any carrots I could munch on?"

Freshly Pulled Home Grow Carrots
Hubby opens door and hands him a bag of carrots (which have been in the produce drawer for some time now).

Son #2:  "EEWWW - those are nasty.  They burn my tongue.  I want the carrots from our garden.

Hubby retrieves a lone garden carrot from the produce drawer, hands it to his progeny and returns the three reject carrots to the produce drawer.
 
Son #2:  "Yeah - that's what I wanted."


Yes folks, my sons are now food snobs who turn up their noses at store-bought carrots, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and lettuce.  They can easily tell firm, yet succulent grass fed beef and free-range chickens from their pale spongy counterparts.

Thank you God.

P.S.  Store-bought carrots really do burn your tongue.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Great Expectations and Little Applesauce Letdowns

Canning food is addictive.  After every batch I start imagining the next.  This morning I rose to make and can some sugar free applesauce.  The recipe called for 3 1/2 pounds of apples.
That didn't seem like much to me so I peeled eight pounds of apples instead.  I anticipated getting a large batch of spicy, saucy goodness so I sterilized 7 quart jars with rings and lids, peeled and cored the apples, and set them on the stove to cook.  When the boiling apple concoction was "just right," I sprinkled in a little nutmeg and cinnamon and ladled it into the hot, sterilized jars.

Guess how many quart jars of applesauce you can get from eight pounds of apples?  A mere 2 1/2.  What a let down.  After some internet research, I was able to determine that it takes three pounds of apples to make one quart jar of applesauce.  Now they tell me.

The day was saved, however, when we shared the half of a jar of sauce with our pork tenderloin dinner - it was without a doubt the best sauce ever.  Everyone raved about it.

"Putting food by" certainly comes with a steep learning curve.  I'm going to buy a few bushels of apples tomorrow morning and make a serious batch of yummy sauce this weekend.  I told you - I'm addicted.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Another Canning First - Chicken Soup

Home Cooked and Canned Chicken Soup
I made and canned my first chicken soup today.  Ordinarily I put frozen mixed veggies into my chicken soup (corn, carrots, green beans, lima beans and peas), but today almost everything came straight from my garden  - corn, green beans, shelled beans from my over-mature Kentucky Wonder beans, and carrots - the peas came from the Mennonite produce auction and were frozen earlier in the year.  Very satisfying work.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Frosty Maryland Morn

It was 28 degrees when we got up this morning.  There was white frost everywhere and the broccoli looked silver instead of green.  The tomato plants have been pulled and discarded and the last of the basil, parsley and lettuce was harvested late Thursday night.  The remaining carrots will be sweeter now that we have had a good frost.  
A Frosty October  Morning in the Garden
The cold frames, which should probably have been set out and planted weeks ago, will go out this weekend and we will try to get lettuce and spinach growing for as long as the weather will allow.  


Another Batch of Chili in The Works



Today, we will make and can another batch of chili.  Everyone loves it and wants more. 


However, before all the activity begins, I'll spend a few moments with my Kindle, my hot cocoa, my crackling fire, and my beautiful, diamond sparkling views.

 I love Autumn.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A New Toy - Beans, Broccoli & Chili

Our New All-American Pressure Canner
Ready for its Maiden Voyage
Oh, how I love new toys.  I'm a sucker for gadgets that are well-crafted and designed to help you  accomplish a multitude of tasks which you could never hope to tackle without them.

Well this past Thursday, the UPS truck (I love UPS almost as much and the toys they deliver) brought us a lovely new All American pressure canner.  The giant aluminum vessel looked more like it was destined for outer space than my kitchen and although I found it and the accompanying instructions more than a bit intimidating, I was determined and eager to take it for a test drive.

You see we have harvested and frozen so much food from the garden that we now have no room for the whole hog and the 25 free-ranged chickens that are due to be processed for us in November - and the harvest continues.

Our new toy will allow us to can low acid veggies, meats, soups, etc. and thereby reduce the amount of food taking up space in the freezers.

Four Quarts of Homegrown, Freshly-Canned Green Beans


So we picked what I suspect will be the last of the green beans (frost is expected next week) and was able to can four quarts of green beans.

They seemed to turn out well and are beautiful in their jars.  I wish we had done this sooner because I really prefer the taste of canned beans over frozen. 



The First of Our Fall Broccoli Crop




While the beans were cooling, we
  • harvested over seven pounds of broccoli,
  •  cleaned it,
  • soaked it for 30 minutes in salt water to eliminate any bugs,
  • fed the few worms that were revealed during this process to the baby quail (who fought over which of them would claim these delicacies),
  • blanched it,
  • and froze it into meal-sized portions. 
This harvest made about seven bags of broccoli and we bagged up the thick stems to use when making broccoli soup this winter.  Hmm?  Maybe I can find a broccoli soup recipe to can in my handy dandy new canner.  This was the first of our fall broccoli and we expect to be eating and harvesting broccoli from the garden well into November.

Our First Try at
Homemade, Canned Chili
 Next we decided to try canning up some chili.  We eat quite a bit of chili during the winter.  Some we make from scratch, but all too often we decide to have it at the last minute and run to the grocery store to buy a few cans.  We figured this would be a good way to use more of our jalapeno bounty, get some ground beef out of the freezer and forever say goodbye to store-bought chili and all its unwanted ingredients.  We initially made just three quarts to see if we liked the recipe.  We did.
14 Quarts of Spicy, Homemade Chili


So last night we set nine cups of dried beans to soak,  took 9 lbs. ground beef out to defrost, and chopped 24 cups of tomatoes.  We woke up early this morning to make and can 14 more quarts (the max our canner will process at one time) of chili.  It was a long process - but they turned out beautifully.

What's next?  Chicken soup?  Beef stew?  Green tomato relish?  You'll have to stay tuned as we work to really put our new toy through its paces!




Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Peter Piper was a Fraud



Perpetually Producing Peppers
When I was a child, I loved tongue twisters.  The kids on our block would challenge each other with tales of Peter Piper, She Sells Sea Shells, and the wood chucking Woodchuck.   I was pretty good at it.  Yes, I was then, and am now, a pretty fast talker.  But I digress.
The fable of Peter Piper and his famous pickled peppers begins like this: 
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
Our freezer is full of jalapeno peppers.  We love them, but have harvested so many this summer that we are getting sick of them.  This past Sunday we picked another 10 pounds of peppers.  More tiny peppers are still ripening.  You might say our pulchritudinous, persistently- propitious pepper plants have practically punished us with a ponderous plethora of palatable peppers!

What to do?  What to do?  Enter pickled peppers.  It was quite a job to pickle these 10 pounds of peppers.  As a pickling neophyte it was harder than it needed to be.  To get this done I had to:
  1. Buy more canning jars.
  2. Scan the internet for the perfect, pickled pepper recipe.
  3. Slice the peppers.
  4. Soak the sliced peppers for 24 hours in a mixture of pickling lime and water.
  5. Rinse the sliced peppers and soak in clean water for another hour.
  6. Rinse again and soak for another hour.
  7. Rinse and soak, yet again.
  8. Sterilize the canning jars, lids and rings.
  9. Add mustard and celery seed to the jars.
  10. Fill the jars with sliced peppers.
  11. Realize I was four jars short of being able to use all the sliced peppers.
  12. Accept the fact that I was past the point of no return, groan and continue working.
  13. Fill the pepper-filled jars with a boiling solution of vinegar, water and pickling salt.
  14. Screw the two-piece lids onto the jars.
  15. Place filled jars into a boiling water bath and boil for 10 minutes.
  16. Sterilize four more jars and lids.
  17. Make more vinegar solution and bring it to a boil.
  18. Add the mustard and celery seed to the four remaining jars.
  19. Fill these four jars with the remaining peppers.
  20. Add the 1/2 cup of peppers that wouldn't fit into the jars to the compost pile because I did not have the energy to even think about how to use them.
  21. Add the boiling vinegar solution to the last four jars.
  22. Make more vinegar solution when I realized I did not have enough to fill the last jar.
  23. Add more water to the canning pot and wait for it to boil.
  24. Process the last four jars in the boiling water bath.
  25. 
    Perfectly Pickled Peppers
    Allow the processed jars to cool for 24 hours.
  26. Check to see the jars were properly sealed.
  27. Admire my handiwork. 

Get the picture?  Contrary to the fraud that was perpetrated on us as children - you cannot waltz out to your garden and casually “pick” a peck of pickled peppers.  Long, long ago someone else recognized the fallacy in the tale and stepped forward to ask: 

If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, 
where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?  

Good question.  To find the answer, might I suggest you start by touching base with Peter's mother.  You can probably find her in the kitchen standing over a boiling pot of vinegar, water and salt.



P.S.  Does this mean that no one is selling seashells down by the seashore?  Do woodchucks really chuck wood?  Gasp.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Ever Eat a Pawpaw?

Ripe PawPaws Just Picked From the Forest Floor
Do you remember these lyrics?

Look for the bare necessities
The simple bare necessities
Forget about your worries and your strife
I mean the bare necessities
Old Mother Nature's recipes
That brings the bare necessities of life

It is a song about living and eating wild.  Our living wild days are long gone but we can still enjoy wild food.  A fellow Bridge player has loads of wild pawpaw trees growing on her property and she kindly offered to let us gather some.  Gather we did.

I found the following information regarding pawpaws on http://pawpaw-fruit.com:
"...The pawpaw is native to the Midwest, Southern and Eastern United States and adjacent southernmost Ontario, Canada, from New York west to eastern Nebraska, and south to northern Florida and eastern Texas.”
The Pawpaw tree bears fruit that is large, yellowish-green with a hint of brown. It contains many large brown seeds within the edible fruit pulp. When the Pawpaw trees flower, the fruit is first green and then begins to mature in September and lasts through October. During this maturity stage, the fruit becomes yellow or brown.
Our freshly gathered pawpaws sat on the kitchen island all night and when we woke, the most heavenly sweet fragrance was wafting through the house. 
The fruit was peeled, seeded, and pureed.  One cup of the puree went into a PawPaw bread recipe which I found (along with a plethora of other pawpaw recipes) on the  Kentucky State University website.

Pawpaw Bread Piping Hot in the Oven
Pawpaw Bread on the Cooling Rack
Pawpaw Bread - Or What's Left of It

The shiny black seeds were scattered throughout the wooded portion of our acreage.  Hopefully, in four or five years we'll have the Bare Necessities growing wild - right in our own backyard.



Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Quail Update

Two-Week Old Baby Quail
I promised to keep you updated on the progress of our newly-hatched quail.  The seven hatchlings are two weeks old today and have grown like weeds.

We went ahead and ordered more quail eggs off of Craig's List (60 to be exact) and they were tucked into the incubator last Tuesday.

More quail babies to come!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

From Petulant Teenagers to Productive Garden Citizens

Green Beans
Productive Garden Citizens
Remember the petulant green beans that whined and complained about the privileged, special space afforded the newly-planted artichoke plants

Well, like all teenagers, they grew up. 

A 16-Pound Harvest!












We started harvesting green beans last week - a pound here and a pound there.  Yesterday we set a record by harvesting a whopping 16 pounds of tender, nutty flavored, stringless green beans!

I'm so relieved.  I did not like the stringy beans we were getting from the Kentucky Wonder pole beans.  The strings on these beans were so tough that, despite trying to string them before cooking, the odd string I missed would choke me while eating them.


Garden Beans
Picked, Blanched and Frozen
So, I scoured the seed box, found a left over packet of Royal Burgandy bush beans, and quickly planted the whole packet hoping we would get a large crop of beans before October's first frost.  We were lucky.  The beans came up and bore well.  Funny thing though - they were not purple.  Hmm.  The packet must have been mismarked. 

I wish I could identify their variety so I could plant them again next season.  Oh well, they are delicious and, once frozen, should supply us with enough beans to last until next summer.

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Freezer Full of Grass-Fed Beef

Every year we purchase a beef from local farmers, Charlene and Jimmy.  They live  about 25 miles down the road.  I've sipped tea in their kitchen and toured their farm.  When Charlene and I chat on the phone, the conversations are lengthy.   I know her and I know how she feeds and cares for her stock. 

These calves are raised naturally alongside their mothers.  They consume nothing but milk, fresh grass, and, in the winter, hay. Unlike the beeves raised in big, agribusiness feedlots, they are fed no grain, receive no growth hormone implants, and are not given antibiotics.  When the time is right, they are butchered and dressed by a local farmer.

Most importantly, to me, they never ever have to endure the fetid, cruel conditions so prevalent in todays big agribusiness beef operations.

So as of Tuesday morning, our freezer is full of local, highly nutritious, clean, humanely-raised, grass-fed beef  that is so amazingly flavorful it defies description.  Thank you Charlene and Jimmy.

P.S.  If you live in Maryland and have been looking for beef like this, you can reach Charlene and Jimmy at (301) 994-1192.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

There's Gold in Them There Hills!

Gold Raspberries that is.  It is hard to believe that the tiny twigs we planted in the spring are actually bearing delicious, golden raspberries - about 4 ounces every three days.  If all goes well, we will get double the amount of berries next fall!

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Very Eggciting Day - Quail Are Hatching!

Just Hatched
Wet, Tired and Oh So Tiny!
Remember the quail eggs we put in the incubator two weeks ago?  Well, they are hatching!  The first one broke free around 5:45 a.m. 


"We are here, we are here,
we are here, we are here!"
Now, at 11:00 a.m., we have a total of five darling hatchlings.  Fifteen eggs were set in the incubator, so I'll keep you posted on their progress. 


video
 
 
 
 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Strange Bedfellows


Once upon a time, on a three-acre plot which was lovingly – though not expertly - tended by the family who lived on it, there lived a lovely, but somewhat wild and disheveled vegetable garden.  This garden - which was full of strawberries, blackberries, carrots, onions, beans, melons, passion fruit and many other  herbs and vegetables - was full of life and each of the garden’s occupants had its own personality and temperament.
One cool crisp Saturday morning, the family came out to tend the garden and to put the finishing touches on a very special bed which they had been working on since early spring.  All of the garden’s occupants curiously watched the family’s diligent work. 
“What are they up to?” the tender broccoli seedlings asked the nearby tomato vines.
“We couldn’t care less,” replied the tomatoes.  “We have been growing and ripening tomatoes for months now.  Our vines are dying from the ground up and we have our hands full just struggling to ripen our remaining fruit before the late blight or the first frost finishes us off.  We are exhausted and simply too worn out to care.  Go ask the strawberries, maybe they can be of help.”
So the young, innocent broccoli seedlings shouted across the aisle to the strawberry patch.  “What do you think the family is up to?”
“We couldn’t say,” replied the strawberries.  “However, our family has grown so well over the summer that our bed has become more than just a little crowded.  Regardless of what they are working on, we could use just a little of their time and attention.  If they truly loved us, they would pull some of the weeds which threaten us, remove some of our “spent” relatives, and perhaps give us just a taste of that yummy fertilizer they hide over there in the shed.”
Like most youngsters, unanswered questions just made the broccoli children “curiouser” and “curiouser.”  Turning to the teenage bush beans which shared the far end of the broccoli’s space, the broccoli inquired as to whether the bush beans had any idea what sort of project had absorbed so much of the family’s time and attention this fine summer morn.
“Huh?” replied the adolescent legumes.  “We are very grown up now and are quite busy with our own interests.  Can’t you see we have just started to bloom?  While Mom was weeding us this morning, we may have heard her say something to the boys about how the new bed had to be free of clods before it could be planted.  But, honestly, we are teenagers and we never really listen to what others have to say.  Can’t you see our beautiful flowers – they are the only thing that really matters.  Everything else is trivial in comparison to the cool things that are happening on our end of the bed.”
“Coming through!” chirped something brown and speckled as it skittered across the broccoli bed and hid itself within the tall, green bed of asparagus fern. 
“I don’t know why Mom chose this morning to let those flighty, scratching quail run free in our garden,” complained the blackberry vines.  “This neighborhood is going to hell in a hand cart.  All of our ripe, juicy fruit has been picked and we are just looking for a little peace and quiet so we can grow our young tender vines for next year’s crop.  Is that too much to ask?”
“Don’t be so grumpy,” replied the wise old asparagus ferns as their lacy green foliage swayed from side to side with the tickle of the merry summer breezes.    Every bug and grub these tiny birds eat is one less that will survive the winter and return to plague us next year.  Besides, now that the robins and bluebirds have flown south, these little birds are our only defense.  Show a little gratitude, please.”
From a distant garden corner, the tall, lanky pole beans - which had grown so tall that their tops now hung over the sides of their six foot trellis and were so heavy laden with their crop that the weight of the world was literally on their shoulders - rushed to the little quails’ defense.  ‘Why don’t you blackberries pick on somebody your own size?  Why this little golden quail has been running up and down my row all morning doing quite a number on these pesky white flies and beetles. Don’t you worry little Goldie, I’ve got your back.”  And, feeling reassured, the little golden quail settled down to rest in the hole he had dug for himself.
Distracted for only a moment by the boisterous quail and the ensuing bickering, the broccoli babies quickly returned to their task of solving The Mystery of the New Garden Bed.  “It seems we are getting some new neighbors,” they called to the golden raspberries who were lazily basking in the sun while ripening their heavy clusters of honey sweet fruit.
“Indeed,” replied the raspberry plants who, coincidentally, were all named Anne.  “Since the new bed is right next to ours, we have been watching all summer long as the bed was excavated two feet down and filled with a mixture of soil and compost.  This morning they dressed it with a delicious layer of horse manure – yum.  We suspect that someone very special is about to move in.  Of course, our golden fruit is the most delectable treat in the garden, so naturally only the best and brightest would be moved in right next door.”
Artichoke Plants from
Sweetheart Artichokes
Newly Plant Artichoke Plant
But to the dismay of all the onlookers, Mom and her son began to unwrap three of the ugliest plants the garden dwellers had ever seen.  Even the tuckered out, disinterested tomatoes rose from their stupor and intently watched as three shriveled, greenish-gray, long rooted aliens were carefully tucked into the massive 4’ x 16’ bed.  “They each must have five feet of space,” Mother was heard to say.  “They have traveled here all the way from their mother's house in California.  Their Sweetheart of a Mom's name is Gail.  These plants are very special and delicate.  We must shade the little darlings from the sun for at least 10 days.” 
The garden dwellers could not believe their eyes as they watched Mother and Son carefully erect a screen out of landscape fabric which would shield the ugly ducklings from the harsh rays of the son.  Then the entire bed was watered deeply.  “They must be thoroughly soaked,” Mom cautioned her son.  And, as if once wasn’t enough, everyone once again heard her say, “they are very delicate.”  The bush beans rolled their eyes.
What’s happening?” called the tiny fall carrots who were sharing a bed with the recently decapitated parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano and basil.  “The tomatoes are blocking our view and we can’t see a thing!”
“Oh, es muy malo,” the spicy Jalapenos replied.  “Be happy you can’t see it.  We have grown so tall this year that we can see over the tomatoes.  Ugh, what a horrible sight.  The ugliest, queerest plants you have ever seen have moved in right next to the raspberries!  The two-inch tall, carrots gasped and quivered in fear.
It’s not fair!” the petulant bush beans exclaimed.  “We are crowded into the tail end of this second-hand broccoli bed with only three inches of space between us, while those ugly newcomers get an entire sixteen foot bed to themselves?  To make things worse, I heard Mom say this morning that she might stick a few more carrot seeds into the empty spaces between us.  It’s not fair!”
“I told you the neighborhood was going to hell in a handcart,” the blackberries spat at the asparagus ferns.
The baby broccoli were speechless.
“What kind of plants did you say these were?” the son asked his mother.
“They are artichoke plants – my favorite vegetable,” the mother replied.
“How big will they get?” he asked.
“If we care for them well, water them twice a day until they get settled into their new home, and nurse them through the winter, they should be four feet tall and five feet wide by this time next year.”
The strawberry plants could stand no more.  “Four feet tall, five feet wide, ugly as sin, and de – li - cate.  Now we never will get the attention we deserve,”
The raspberry plants were seriously considering moving to a new neighborhood.
“Next year, we can hide under their large leaves,” the tiny quail whispered conspiratorially to each other.
Artichoke Blossom
Mother continued her soliloquy.  “Next year they will be covered with large flower buds, which we will harvest and cook into one delicious dish after another.  Also, we might leave a few buds on each plant just so we can watch them burst open into the most stunningly beautiful, giant, purply blue flowers that this garden has ever seen.”
“Hey!” the passion flower vine protested.  “That really hurt.”
“Hmm,” the golden raspberries named Anne stopped a moment to consider this.  “The ugly duckling plant will, by this time next year, become a beautiful swan.  We might just have to stick around to see the show.”
The baby artichoke plants were feeling shy and uncertain.   Realizing that they were different from their neighbors and not entirely welcome, they snuggled tight into their new bed and decided to rest awhile.  There would be plenty of time to get acquainted - no need to rush things.

The strawberries giggled as they were weeded, fed and watered.  The tiny lettuce and spinaches drank thirstily from the watering wand.  Everyone got a little attention from Mom and, at the end of the day, all but the bush beans were in good humor.  What can I say -  they're teenagers.

Quail Eggs in the Incubator


Our Incubating Quail Eggs
We lost a few quail - courtesy of a hungry black snake - so we are trying to expand our flock by hatching a few eggs.  I've successfully hatched chicken eggs before, but never quail eggs.  If all goes well, in 15 days the eggs in the incubator will explode into a new flock of beautiful, bouncing, cheeping quail babies.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Nature Abhors a Vacuum - Fall Approaches

Normally, when I get out of my car at the Mennonite farm where I pick up produce and eggs, I am greeted by the lively, staccato songs of the Purple Martins.  However, yesterday was different.

The boisterous and entertaining little birds who spent their spring and summer months careening over the vast, produce-laden fields, gathering insects, raising their families, and chirping their little hearts out have flown south for the winter leaving behind an almost eerie stillness.



Viburnum Beginning the Fall Change

However, Aristotle was right when he claimed that nature abhors a vacuum. 

In the stark, still void left behind by the Purple Martins' departure, nature has intervened.

I noticed yesterday that my Viburnums have begun the transition which will gradually change their bright green leaves to a deep, rusty maroon.




Viburnum Berries



The viburnum berry  clusters have also begun their change from purple to bright, fire-engine red.  Soon the blue jays, cardinals and other non-migrating birds will be entertaining us as they feast on the juicy sweet berries. 






In my garden, things are no different.  In the void left behind by the already-harvested broccoli, the recently-planted lettuce, spinach and cilantro seeds have begun to push through the soil.





Where the dried bean crop was pulled, 45 fall broccoli seedlings are now growing nicely and I'm eagerly awaiting the kale which was planted last weekend.
Fall Broccoli Seedlings


Strawberry Blossoms Promise a Fall Crop

Our everbearing strawberry plants,  previously tired and heat stressed, have been revived by the cooler temperatures and are blooming their hearts out - promising a nice fall crops of sweet berries.


Garlic Ready for Planting




Once the bush beans are killed by the first fall frost, they will be pulled up and garlic will be planted.


Potato & Squash in Storage



In addition to all the crops that are still growing and producing -  it is satisfying to know that there are several butternut squash and a basket full of yummy, chemical free potatoes stored in the basement just waiting to be turned into a hearty, winter meal.





Yes, the Purple Martin houses stand quiet and empty.  Yes, I will miss these industrious little birds.  However, the coming fall season will fill the void and bring with it a beauty and bounty all its own.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Three Acres and Liberty

I just finished reading Three Acres and Liberty, by Bolton Hall.  This little book was first published in 1907.  The folks at Kindle were kind enough to republish the 1917 revised version.  It was a fun and interesting read, chock full of great advice on how to make the most of a little piece of land.  However, I was surprised to find so much philosophy intertwined with practicality.

Here are the quotes which touched me most:

We are not tied to a desk or to a bench; we stay there only because we think we are tied.  In Montana I had a horse, which was hobbled every night to keep him from wandering; that is, straps joined by a short chain were put around his forefeet, so that he could only hop. The hobbles were taken off in the morning, but he would still hop until he saw his mate trotting off. This book is intended to show how any one can trot off if he will. 

A sower went out to sow and he sowed that which was in his heart - for what can a man sow else.  (From the Game of Life).
To cultivate is to watch the soil as you watch your cooking and tend your crop as you would tend your animals.  The crop is as alive as the stock....
If you have a backyard, you can help the world and yourself by raising some of the food you eat. 
..think of the cleansing influence of all this.  Light and air and labor - these are the medicines not of the body only, but of the soul.  It is not ponderable things alone that are found in the gardens, but the great wonder of life, the face of nature, the influences of sunsets and seasons and of all the intangible things to which we can give no name, not because they are small, but because they are outside the compass of our speech. 


 


 
 

A Busy Day - Now Time for Fun

It has been a long day here in our garden.  Everything was weeded and fertilized with organic fertilizer.  The blackberries were trimmed and next years vines were tied to the trellis (yesterday we trellised the raspberries).  The viburnums were cut back and hubby sandblasted the rust from basement railings so they can be repainted.  The boys helped with everything and they mowed our expansive lawn. Over 36 broccoli plants were planted, along with 30 or so spinach seeds.

Then I came in and put a green bean/potato casserole in the oven, made a pie crust and (using our frozen strawberries) threw together a strawberry pie-which I managed to overcook - ugh.



Despite the overcooked pie, it has been an altogether busy, but highly satisfying day.

After dinner, the "menfolk" are off to a Bluecrabs game while I indulge in a long soak and a good book - then I'll watch the Redskins game (which I recorded just for this purpose)!  Ahhhh.

P.S. - Even overcooked strawberry pie is yummy!