Thursday, August 16, 2012

And I thought Spring was Busy...

My oh my, things have been really busy for us lately. We are hardly keeping up with all that the garden is producing. We have cucumbers, green beans, tomatoes, melons, zucchini and eggplant coming out our ears, and I've been trying to think of all the ways I can store our harvest before it rots under our noses. The freezer is piling up with delicious food to get us through the winter, as is our canning shelves. I've been roasting tomatoes, garlic and onions for marinara sauces, we made six containers of fresh freezer salsa, and lots of zucchini bread and mock apple pies. We've made spicy pickles, dill pickles, refrigerator pickles, and bread and butter pickles, all kinds of jams, jellies and marmalade, including a roasted garlic balsamic jelly that is to die for! This week I really plan to get some serious canning done with the tomatoes. Me and the pressure canner have a date!

I've been attempting to figure out the finer points of dehydrating, but so far everything I've sacrificed to the machine has come out...well...rather in edible. It either dehydrates to a crisp, like stuck to the grate and can't get it off, or comes out gooey and I'm afraid it will mold. I'm open to suggestions if anybody has any...I gave up recently and decided to dry our cayenne peppers the old fashioned way. 

Esther is providing us with delicious milk that we've been enjoying each and every day. As promised, I was able to make butter last week. It only ended up being about 1/8 of a cup, but it worked! I poured two gallons of milk into a shallow dish and placed it in the fridge. Then each day, I would tediously skim the cream off the milk and add it to another container. When I had about a cup, I let the cream warm on the counter for a bit and shook it until I had butter and buttermilk. Then I rinsed the butter and salted it. It was delicious! The only problem was that it was hard moving the shallow dish with two gallons of milk each day and I would literally make a mess every time. The skim milk also picked up an "off" flavor, sort of stale tasting from being left out un-covered, and we ended up giving it to the chickens, but then again, I do have a vegetable drawer full of onions, garlic and herbs right now, ha!

The bees are working hard each day, I think that hot dry spell was hard on them because we kept checking the harvesting supers and they weren't producing anything. The weather has since cooled off and we've had some rain. We checked them yesterday and they're starting to produce. I think we'll get a small honey harvest by Fall.

The Angoras are filling out nicely and I can't believe that we shear next month already! It seems like Beatrix and Ichabod were just born, and they're already 5 months old!

Fall is on it's way, and I welcome it. The pumpkins in the field are turning orange and the corn is finally over Zach's head. I've been writing out the "Fall To-Do" list which includes finding a Nubian buck to breed Nan and Gretta this fall so we can continue our delicious milking routine and finding an heirloom garlic supplier.

Zach and I have also been enjoying the reward of new business adventures including new writing opportunities for myself and gallery shows, new products, an open forge night that Zach is hosting. The first class filled up so quickly that we're thinking of hosting a second for those who couldn't make the first date.

I have to admit that the blog has been getting away from me. I've been storing away photos and have all kinds of posts started that I want to share when things slow down. If you want to keep up with everything that Iron Oak Farm is up to, I've been posting shorter, but more frequent posts and photos on our Facebook page. If you haven't "liked" us yet, come on over.


Ian said...

I really enjoy your posts, but I don't do Facebook. Too many bad experiences, including getting hacked.

Rogers Family said...

sounds like you have really been busy at your farm as well. Our big garden did not do to well here in HOT texas, but our smaller one is holding on. That one has peppers, Zucchini, and a squash but forget what its called sense the tags had been removed.ha ha. chickens are starting to go into the big garden now to till it up and they love it. All the baby chicks are getting bigger still have several months to go before they start laying eggs. But my other 50+ or more are slowly starting to lay some. I got my bator going for the first time sense last oct. I have Milie Fleur D'unccles and some Aracauna's in there. Don't work to hard have time to have fun too.

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