The Garden

For most of us spring is a busy season.  Mix that with a touch of laziness and sprinkle some procrastination on top and you have an un-updated blog.  It’s certainly time for an update!

Our garden was put in with the aid of our goats and chickens, enriched by a couple hundred pounds of rabbit manure, dug and turned by hand twice, and tilled by an almost-running free rototiller.  Months later it’s unrecognizable as the sun-baked, wind-blasted wasteland it used to be.

This is after the garden was tilled and raked into beds.  Bethany had a detailed plan of what she wanted to plant in each bed and how much space it would take.  The stakes are sumac trees that I drove in for cucumber trellises.

Our cucumbers quickly outgrew the indoor starter pots and had to be moved outside.  In the future we’ll try to start our tomatoes earlier and our cucumbers later.

A month and a half later the corn is twice as tall as Bella.  It took a long time to come up after planting so we were a little concerned, but once it started it grew like crazy.

We finally have little green tomatoes on most of the 20+ tomato plants.  They’re much denser than any we’ve grown before so in the future we’ll probably plant them in single rows instead of double.  It might be tough to pick all the tomatoes from these.

The pole beans seem to grow a foot every day.  They would be 10-12 feet tall if the poles were tall enough to support them.  Instead they’re growing horizontally when they reach the tops of the poles.   To the right of the pole beans, the black beans are doing very well.   They’re a bush type bean but they have a tendency to fall over so next year we’ll probably tie them to stakes.  Our lima beans are behind the other beans.  We planted them too early so they didn’t come up well.  We’ll probably get a few limas but not many.

We planted watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple melons, and a couple types of squash along the perimeter fence.  It took a little training to get it to climb but it’s doing well now.

The biggest failures in the garden are the cucumbers and peppers.  We’ve gotten almost 40 cucumbers already but all the plants have bacterial wilt and are looking pretty poor.  The plants are still growing and producing some but who knows how long that will last.  The peppers, for one reason or another, never got planted.  The initial attempt didn’t germinate, and the second attempt never really happened.  We have about 4 plants instead of the 20-30 we had planned.

All in all things are going well for our first real garden.  It’s been a learning experience and there are definitely things we’ll do differently next year, but for now we’re happy with it.

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Potato (or Broccoli) Cheese Soup

On Thursday, a friend came over and we had broccoli soup for lunch. When she asked for the recipe, I mistakenly told her the recipe was on my blog. Oops… it wasn’t. 🙂 I distinctly remember writing it and taking pictures for it, but now cannot find the post anywhere. The pictures have also disappeared. Who knows? I have crazy mom brain.

My recipe (Singular, yes. Same recipe; one has potatoes, the other has broccoli.) for Potato Soup and Broccoli Soup come from my Mom. It’s the BEST recipe I’ve ever had, and I will never, never, ever, ever switch to another. I hope you enjoy it, also!

Potato OR Broccoli Soup

       1   quart chicken broth
    ½    onion, chopped
     4     garlic cloves, peeled
     2 T butter
1/3 c  shredded carrot
     5 c  peeled (or not) and cubed potatoes
                          OR
     5 c broccoli pieces
    1 c shredded cheese (Any kind; I’ve used Farmers, Cheddar, Colby-Jack, Mozzarella…)
   ½ c milk (or buttermilk)
   ¼ c flour OR 2 T cornstarch
Salt and Pepper to taste
Basil, Parsley, and/or Oregano to taste
Saute garlic and onion in butter over medium heat until softened and slightly browned. (You can do this in a skillet or directly in your soup pot, which is what I do.) Pour broth into the soup pot and bring to a boil. Remember that you will be adding more things to the pot, so you don’t want to use a pot that just barely holds your broth! Add potato or broccoli and carrots. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until the vegetables are done.
A note: I think that’s about how much potatoes and broccoli I add. I never measured, so I am not sure. I add enough broccoli that the broth doesn’t quite cover it, as the broccoli “shrinks” when it cooks. I add enough potatoes that the broth barely covers it. If you want more broth than veggies, add fewer veggies. If you want more veggies, add more and cover partially with a lid.
Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the milk, flour (or cornstarch), cheese, and 1/2 c of hot broth from the pot. Blend until thoroughly processed. Once the potatoes (or broccoli) is done, slowly pour in the milk/cheese mixture, stirring constantly. Allow to boil for three minutes, stirring constantly. If the soup is not thick enough, combine 1/2 c broth from the pot and 1/4 c flour or 2 T cornstarch in the blender and add to the soup. (Warning: if you will be cooking enough to have leftovers, the soup DOES thicken as it cools and sets. However, if you over-thicken, you can make a nice casserole with it; pour it into a casserole dish and sprinkle it with bread or cracker crumbs. Yum!) Taste your soup and add salt, pepper, and herbs as necessary. My favorite addition is basil and oregano with potato soup.

But I don’t want to go Gluten Free! (Blueberry Cake made with Oat Flour)

This past week has been entirely too fun-filled for my taste. First, we realized that Bella seemed to have the run-to-the-bathroom-every-five-minutes kind of upset stomach. My first thought was the way she eats: mostly fruits and vegetables and whole-grain breads. It’s a high fiber diet for her!

Then, I remembered that we had just re-introduced whole wheat bread into our diet. I had run out of wheat the week before our stomach flu episode, and bought more at the beginning of last week. Her upset stomach started about the same time as I started making bread again. Long story short, we decided to go gluten-free for a week, then dairy-free for a week, then something else free for a week, etc… until we figured out what exactly was upsetting her. I didn’t see how it could be gluten; she’s been eating whole grains since she turned one. Lactose intolerance didn’t make sense, either, since she’s had raw milk for over a year now. But, better safe than sorry, and my little girl was miserable.

Starting Wednesday of last week, we went gluten-free. It went okay. It was hard for me, especially. I didn’t realize how important bread had become to us! This morning, Bella asked to make cupcakes with me. My first thought: “Oooooh, great. How do I explain this one?” But, why couldn’t I make cupcakes? I have rice and oats… maybe, just maybe this could work! And work it did. This is another “keeper recipe” for me! (Note: I realize that there is a lot of debate about oats and a gluten-free diet. However, from our side of things: we haven’t eaten a lot of oats, d a lot of wheat. Eating oats would at least eliminate wheat in our trials.)

Continue reading But I don’t want to go Gluten Free! (Blueberry Cake made with Oat Flour)

Baby Rabbits (x 26!)

We have 26 baby rabbits right now. 26!

There are seven in a tractor, eating grass. They are 7 1/2 weeks old. They are doing very well on a total-grass diet.

In the garage, we have nineteen.

We have eight with our top right rabbit (so named because she is in the top right cage); they are 2 1/2 weeks old.

We have five with our bottom left rabbit (ditto the name); they were 2 weeks old yesterday.

Lastly, we have seven two-day old babies with our bottom right rabbit. This is her first litter that she’s actually made a nest and pulled fur for, so we have high hopes for survival! (They are one day old in the picture.)

We aren’t expected more babies until the middle of next month. Until then, we have to figure out what to do with the rabbits that aren’t in a tractor. That’s a lot of rabbits to rotate through the yard!

Spiders and Yellow Envelopes

For the past week and a half, my family has been ill. Not all at once, but one at a time. First Bella, then Danny, then Declan, then Bella again… and just when I thought I was going to bypass the flu, it hit me. Thankfully, I have a super duper husband who stayed home and helped me all but one day. He washed dishes, cooked, changed diapers, cleaned, did laundry… He did everything that I would do in a day and then some!

Even when feeling unwell, Bella is funny.

“Do you like to eat yellow envelopes?” she asked at supper one evening. Continue reading Spiders and Yellow Envelopes