October 31, 2012 - Happy Halloween!

Princess Alicyn wishes you a 

Happy Halloween!

And happy birthday to our son, John!

*We haven't been home (in WA) for Halloween in over 15 years, so I had no idea how many trick or treaters we should plan on.  I bought $15 worth of miniature candy bars.  So far we've had 0 kids at our door.  Yes, that's ZERO.  Mr.Granny is in 7th. heaven and overdosing on candy already!  Granddaughter Alicyn will probably come for her treat tomorrow.

October 29, 2012 - Something's Missing!

 It looks so bare back there in the corner of the garden.  Like something is missing.......

 Oh, I guess it would be the kennel garden!  Where did it go?

 Aha!  There it is, over by the patio.

 Annie and Otto can come out of the house through their pet door.  This thing is great.  It has double flaps that really keep the cold air out of the house.  I had to remove one of the flaps until they got used to using it.  Their old pet door was an insert into the sliding glass door, and the depth of this in-the-wall unit took a bit of getting used to.  I put the second flap on after about two weeks, when they were completely comfortable with the door.  Now they think nothing of going through both flaps.

It's almost a straight shot to the  opening in the patio railing, so they can enter their new winter outhouse.  Yes, my dogs refuse to go out in the rain or snow to "do their business".  We've always had to take them out to the front yard, under the pine trees in bad weather.  I don't like to do that, as it's very close to our rather busy street.  I'm always afraid they might run out after a squirrel and get hit by a car.  I thought the kennel, with a heavy tarp cover, would give them a nice patch of dry grass for the winter, and be easily accessible by us for cleanup.  I left the sides uncovered, thinking maybe I'll add some clear plastic before we get snow that could blow in.  I also didn't put in gates.  They can go in and out from the patio or from the yard.  I put some boards across the top  to keep the tarp from drooping, and hooked one end of the tarp up under the patio roof so rainwater would run off.  It got the ultimate test last night, and this morning we had big sagging pockets of rainwater all over the top!  Thus the odd poles sitting on whatever we could find to raise the center of the tarp up.  Looks kinda dorky, but if it works.....

But.  Isn't there always a but?  Annie and Otto are afraid to go in the covered kennel.  They weren't afraid of it when it didn't have the tarp on it, but now they are scared.  I even got down on my hands and knees and crawled through that little opening, trying to get them to follow me.  The ran through the rain and met me at the gate opening on the other side!  Thankfully Mr. Granny didn't have a camera on him when I got stuck halfway through the little hole.  I had to drop down on my belly and pull my way through with my elbows! 

Last night, when it was time for them to go out and it was really pouring rain, both dogs went to the front door.  I refused to take them out, and opened the back door and called them out to the patio. I stood there yelling "go pee!" over and over, as they sat and rolled their eyes at me.  I didn't give in.  I stood by the small opening to the kennel and continued to demand a pee.  I'm sure my neighbors think I've lost my mind.  Let me tell you, dachshunds are stubborn little creatures.  Annie finally turned around and walked over to the patio entrance and out into the pouring rain....and she squatted.  Otto watched, then he followed her out into the rain and he squatted (that's my boy!).  Then they both ran as fast as they could, back to the patio and through the doggy door.  That pouring rain was less frightening than the monster kennel.

If the weather is nice tomorrow, I think I'll take a lawn chair and a book out there and just sit in the kennel.  Maybe the dogs will brave up and join me.

October 29, 2012 - Harvest Monday

I was going to title this post No Harvest Monday, but then I remembered I did have a harvest last week!

Eight pounds of the green tomatoes were picked for Green Tomato Mincemeat, another butternut squash was brought in and the closet ripened tomatoes were weighed and added to the harvest total.  That was the last of the indoor ripening tomatoes.  I always kept them clear through November in past years, but these ripened way too fast.  I'm sure it was because I had them hidden in that closet, so they didn't get checked daily.  Once a single tomato begins to ripen, it should be removed.  I had several ripening in the box at once, which prompted the others to do the same.

I made another trip to the garden that same day and brought in the last butternut squash and a few strawberries.  We'd been having some rain, and I lost a few berries due to the soggy condition of the bed.  

Squash (butternut) - 63.9 ounces  (4 pounds)
Strawberries -  6.8 ounces
Tomatoes - 216.3 ounces (13.5 pounds)

Total for the week:  18 pounds
Total year to date:  1026.46 pounds

Please visit our host for Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions

October 25, 2012 - Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard

I stripped the green tomatoes from the vines today, and as luck would have it I ended up with about 8 pounds of them.  That was exactly the amount I needed to make a batch of green tomato mincemeat!

I used the same recipe as David Offutt, The Gastronomic Gardener, used in his blog post "Green Tomato & Apple Mincemeat Pie".  I made a couple of changes, adding a bit more brown sugar and omitting the water that the recipe called for (it needs to be cooked until thick, it didn't need that extra liquid).  I also used a mix of Granny Smith and Jonagold apples, because that's what I happened to have.  After letting it simmer for three hours, I ended up with 9 1/2 pints of goodness.

Green Tomato Mincemeat

The half pint will be refrigerated and probably used for cookies this week.   The recipe I plan to use is from my old Farm Journal Country Cookbook (1959-1972), Mincemeat Refrigerator Cookies.  Of course, if they turn out good I'll give the recipe.

October 24, 2012 - Transition to Winter

I haven't spent the 24th of October here in Washington state in over 15 years.  We've always been basking in the Arizona sun by now but, as most of you know, we sold our AZ home last November.  Even though this will be my second winter here at home, I'm still not quite used to this transition into the winter months.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon in the garden.  I usually don't get the garden cleanup done until spring arrives, as I'm normally too busy getting ready for our trip south.  This year I'm determined to have most of the work done before the bad weather sets in, so I'd better hurry!  I pulled all of the pole bean vines, and most of the morning glories off of the kennel garden, dug some lily bulbs for Ed, and trimmed the oregano of its flowers, as the bees are no longer interested.  Annie rooted around in the soil and got her nose all dirty, so she had to have her face washed when she went inside.  Both of the dogs spent most of their garden time barking at two strange dogs that were visiting next door.

Speaking of next door, my neighbor finally pulled the weeds that have been growing along the fence for the past two years!  Of course, before she pulled them they all went to seed and filled my garden with weed seedlings.  Anyway, she cleaned out that flower bed and planted......two rhododendrons!  Those things get huge, so I can count on them eventually blocking the morning sun from my east garden.  Between her walnut trees, sycamore trees, weeds and rhodies, I'm going to find gardening to be quite a challenge.

I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that I'll get at least a small pea harvest before it gets too cold.

The hollyhocks think it's spring!

It's definitely not spring though, it's only 44F outside, and a light rain is falling.  It's a good day to stay inside and bake sandwich rolls to go with the barbecued pork simmering away in the crockpot. I had a damp towel over the rolls, and it stuck to the three buns at the end of the pan so they deflated when I removed the towel.  I put them in the oven anyway.  I have a feeling Mr. Granny will eat them, flat or not!

October 22, 2012 - Harvest Monday and a New Arrival!

My goodness, I've suddenly gone into my winter mode!  No more early to rise, I'm enjoying sleeping in on these cool and cloudy mornings.

Harvests this week were meager, but look over there on my sidebar  ->  ->

1008.53 pounds!  Not quite a record, 2009's harvest of 1070 still holds that one, but any time I can reach 1000 pounds I'm a happy Granny.  The total will go up a bit more for the year, as there are still carrots, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and (maybe) peas in the garden.

There was only one harvest day this week.  The last picking of pole beans gave us 17.5 ounces, which was enough for our dinner and leftovers for the dogs.  Annie and Otto love green beans, so luckily the freezer has been filled with this year's bean harvest.  More than a pound of strawberries found their way into shortcakes, tomatoes are ripening on the counter to be used right away and last week's tomatoes have been turned into three cups of sauce and frozen.  I think the butternut squash, which weighed in at over 6 pounds, might be ripe enough to bake and not have to be used in pumpkin recipes.  There are still two small ones in the garden that are never going to ripen, and I've yet to decide whether to fool with them or just toss them into the compost.  Those *pumpkin* pies have been awfully good (we've eaten three 9" pies this past month *cough, cough*), so I'm tempted to whip up another batch of pie filling for the freezer.

This naughty carrot wouldn't stop watching me!

Harvest for the Week of  10/15 - 10/21

Total for the week - 11.47 pounds
Total for the year - 1008.53 pounds

Daphne's Dandelions is the host for Harvest Monday, where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. Please visit her blog and leave a link, so we can enjoy your harvest photos!

There has been a new arrival at Little Acres Cottage!  

She's orphaned, about four days old, and rescued from a flooded field.  She hasn't yet been named, so Jacqui would like everyone to make suggestions on what to name the new baby.  Of course, I suggested Annie's Granny's Nanny  (Annie for short), because I'm shallow that way  ;-)  She joins last week's rescued orphans, Shikamaru and Chanel.  I've appointed myself Chanel's Fairy Godmother.  I wish there wasn't an ocean between us, I'd love to spoil her in person  :-)

October 19, 2012 - I'm In Love

Yes, Granny is in love.  Every once in a while, someone special comes along and I just have to share with you.  I've fallen in love before.....among others, there was Ed at Tales From The Mountainside, then 1st. Man from Two Men and a Little Farm came along and stole my heart.  Now I have found Jacqui, at Little Acres Cottage.   I hope she doesn't mind that I quote from her side bar....

"Early 2011 we purchased our run down Cottage and a few acres of land. The place was completely wild and overgrown, having been empty for over 2 years.

As we left the city life behind and aimed for self sufficiency, we got in our first quartet of chickens for our daily fresh eggs, and we fell in love with them. We now rehome many unwanted chickens and other 'lifestyle' animals. We also grow our own organic veggies, and along the way recycle as much as we can. We laugh at our exploits, learn from our mistakes, and find joy in our successes."

Please, do visit her blog, and go back to read her posts from day one.  I'm sure it will warm your heart, as it has mine, to read about all of the animals they have rescued, and to look at the fantastic photos.   They treat their animals like most of us (should) treat our children, with love and patience and understanding.

At one time, Jacqui had a donation link on her side bar, and a brief post requesting a bit of help.  I happened to read it in Google Reader, but when I clicked on the page link it was gone.  I made a comment, and a request for the return of the donation link, and she replied:

"I started to contact local business for possible sponsors, and went through a gruelling 'interview' process. It seems I don't have a valid 'track record' for anyone to invest in my 'good intentions'. All I have is one year of helping animals, and rehoming them but didn't have proper proof to back this up, ie receipts, costs etc. I was advised to keep maybe a portfolio and was told to come back in a couple of years time. I was deflated, and thought how can I expect the same of my followers too? I only have my stories on my blog, and word of mouth, and many happy photos etc. It made me think maybe I shouldn't expect help, but instead to build up what we are doing here first? It's hard, it's 'catch 22' but we do what we can. I just get so frustrated when finances are the only thing blocking more shelters, more petrol to get out and collect animals, stock foods and vetinary care etc. I can put up the donation link again, and simply ask forgiveness if anyone else feels I am being 'cheeky'. I'm not begging, but the rehoming we do costs, and I didn't wish to offend anyone by asking for help. Jacqui "

The donation link has returned and I, for one, would like to give to what I feel is a really good cause.  The animals go to a wonderful home, and get LOVE as well as excellent care.  I'm not sure how or if I can contribute via my debit card, as Jacqui is in New Zealand, and the donation amount is in New Zealand funds....I have no idea what the exchange rate would be.  But, where there's a will, there's a way.  I'll figure out how to send her a small donation some way and I hope some of you, me dear readers, will do the same.

You can find this donation link in Jacqui's side bar as well as in mine.  Although it says "poultry" rescue, there are many other animals that have been taken in, like Cookie, Cherry and Crumble, the orphaned lambs,  the goats, Cinnamon and Forty, and most recently two very tiny newborn orphan kids, Shikamaru and Chanel.  Each is such a heartwarming story, and just a few of so very many enjoyable posts Jacqui has made on her blog.  I'm reading my way back to day one.  If you are an animal lover like me, I invite you to do the same.

Baby Chanel, one of the newest residents of  Little Acres Cottage.

*It's now 3:15 PM, and I have been so engrossed in reading Jacqui's blog from the beginning that I haven't even done my dishes or made the bed!  I'm up to January 15, 2012, so I may get a little bit of work done yet, LOL!  I did find that my debit card would not work to make a donation, so I will be mailing it to her directly.  If any of you would like to help, and have a problem with the donation site, feel free to email me and we'll figure out a way.

October 18, 2012 - Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard

I've discovered the slightly immature butternut squash, when cooked, pureed and mixed with a cooked fully mature squash, makes excellent pumpkin pies.   I decided to make my own pumpkin pie mix for the freezer, using two of the smaller immature and two ripe butternuts.

I peeled, diced and steamed the squash until it was very tender, then pureed it in the food processor.  The butternut was really thick, unlike the pumpkin I have used in the past.  I had to let the pumpkin sit in a colander for a bit to strain off the excess liquid, but the butternut makes a puree that is so thick it has to be processed in small batches.  For the pumpkin pie mix, I added the sugars, both white and brown, and all of the spices, then processed it all once more to make sure everything was completely combined.

I ended up with enough freezer pumpkin mix for three pies, one deep dish pie to be baked right away, and a bit left over for a small pumpkin custard.  All I'll have to do for the pumpkin mix is thaw it out, add two eggs and a can of milk, and it will be all ready to pour into a pastry crust and bake.  One big kitchen mess for four pies!

Add whipped cream and enjoy!

The 6-1/2 ounces of parsley I picked last Sunday filled a 1-1/2 pint jar when dried.  That will be more than enough to last through the winter months.

Link up with Robin over at The Gardener of Eden to see how others are using or preserving their harvests.  That is, if you can find her, as she's off on a vacation cruise, lucky girl!

October 15, 2012 - Still Under 1000 on Harvest Monday

I still need three more pounds to reach my goal of 1000 pounds this year.  No problem, I have more than that in green tomatoes ripening in the closet, as well as two more large butternut squash and three rows of carrots to harvest.  Actually, the weather has warmed up again and the tomatoes are ripening on the vines.  Well, I should say they are beginning to show some color, so I pick them as they get even a little blush.

I already blogged about these first three harvests of the week here ....

 10/9 Tuesday

 10/10  Wednesday

10/11  Thursday

The next photos are from Sunday's harvest.....

The larger tomatoes, in the white bowl, came from the box of green tomatoes in the closet.  They are ripening a little faster than I'd hoped.  The carrots were the last of that particular planting.  The strawberries are looking pretty good!  The butternuts aren't completely ripe, but I've found they are perfectly fine for making "pumpkin" pies.

 I haven't been weighing the herbs, as I didn't grow and/or cut a lot this summer, but I couldn't resist bringing in a bouquet of parsley.  There are only two plants of it in the garden, but they are huge and really healthy looking.

As huge as the bouquet was, after it was all trimmed I only ended up with 6 1/2 ounces of parsley, bagged and ready to be dried tomorrow.

I did a bit of garden cleanup today, as it was warm and sunny, and I planted some garlic.  I didn't put in a lot, as the spot where I wanted it to grow was just a narrow strip behind the future lettuce bed.  The bird proof enclosure for the lettuce was put into place, all ready to be amended with some good compost before spring planting time.  Both the lettuce bed and the garlic are behind the shed, where zucchini and yellow squash grew this year.  While I was cleaning up the area, I clipped off some seed heads from the dwarf cosmos, as I'd like to grow them again next year.  I'll save the seeds, as well as let the ones that are blooming go to seed where they are, and (hopefully) volunteer next year.

The garlic is planted and mulched with straw, the lettuce bed is in place, and just in time for a nice evening rain.

I rewarded myself for a hard day's work with a nice slice of pumpkin (butternut squash) pie.  After the fit Mr. Granny threw over squash pie last year, I swore I'd never bake another one.  I gave in though, and he has decided it tastes exactly like pumpkin pie.  This is the second one I've baked in two weeks, and he has definitely eaten his share!

Harvest for the Week of  10/08 - 10/14

Beans, pole - 9.3 ounces
Cabbage - 3.2 ounces
Carrots - 68.1 ounces  (4.26 pounds)
Celery - 5.7 ounces
Herbs - 6.5 ounces
Lettuce - 1.3 ounces
Peppers, sweet - 5.4 ounces
Squash, winter - 162.7 ounces  (10.17 pounds)
Strawberries - 20.2 ounces  (1.26 pounds)
Tomatoes - 68.9 ounces  (4.31 pounds)

Total for the week - 21.96 pounds
Total for the year - 997 pounds

Daphne's Dandelions is the host for Harvest Monday, where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. Please visit her blog and leave a link, so we can enjoy your harvest photos!

October 11, 2012 - The October Garden, Inching Up Toward 1000 Pounds

I've spent this week doing some fall garden cleanup, and harvesting a little bit as I go.  I'd like to reach my 1000 pound goal, and I'm beginning to think that will be achieved, with only 14 pounds to go.

 On Tuesday I brought in the two smallest butternut squash that were left in the garden.  They aren't super ripe for storage, but definitely at an edible stage.  There are several more large ones still in the garden, not as ripe as these.   

The celery is from two plants that went to seed during the summer.  I pulled all the others, but cut these two back to the ground to see if they would grow again, and they did.  I never did get large stalks of celery from any of them, even the ones I put out for fall harvest.  The small stalks are fine for soups and salads, but I doubt I'll plant celery in my 2013 garden.  

The Fortex beans are still producing enough for fresh eating, but this could probably be the last picking of the year.  

I'm finding an occasional ripe/ripening tomato on the remaining plants.  Those by the house, fence and shed didn't die from the recent freeze, but the Cherokee Purple in the main garden is gone.  

The peppers have all been pulled, these two had been missed in the final picking.  

Last but not least, I'm getting a few leaves of Little Gem romaine lettuce from the half dozen plants that germinated from the late summer planting.  More diligence on my part would have resulted in some nice salads, but I neglected to replant when the seedlings didn't emerge.  

The total for the day came to nearly 5 1/2 pounds.

 On Wednesday I found a few more ripening tomatoes (one came from the box of green tomatoes in the closet), and enough strawberries for two shortcakes for dinner.  That was a real treat!  The day's total was 1 1/2 pounds.

As I was raking up some foliage in the garden, Annie became very excited about movement in the flower bed.  Thinking it could possibly be another baby bird, like the one she found and killed a couple of weeks ago, I took her out of the garden and shut the gate.  I went back in and checked where she had been nosing through the flowers, and found a giant slug.  I took it in the house and scared Mr. Granny with it before killing it.  Of course, I ended up with slug slime all over my garden gloves....icky!   Back in the garden, I noticed some movement in the strawberry bed.  Hoping it might be the toad I had released there last summer (and never saw again), I watched as "it" moved through the heavy foliage, then finally appeared at the edge of the bed.  A mouse!  I have never had mice in the garden before, but I had noticed one running across the lawn in front of the shed a week or so ago.  I thought about letting Annie back in to chase the mice away, but then worried about diseases they might carry.  I'd hate to expose my little girl-dog to something that might harm her.

Today I pulled a few more carrots, and cut a teeny tiny cabbage.  This one was planted at the same time as the others that were recently harvested, weighing 2 or more pounds each.  It was about the size of a tennis ball and weighed a measly 3 ounces!  Added to the weight of the carrots, today's harvest total was just under four pounds.  A running total of the harvest weights has been added to the side bar.

 The tips of the morning glories were nipped by frost, but they are still blooming.  The cold weather hasn't bothered the cosmos at all, but the zinnias were looking bad and got pulled out.  The area behind the flowers has been cleared of its zucchini plant, and is being prepped for garlic planting.

 Most of the main garden has been cleared.  The strawberries, raspberries, a few butternut squash (in the barrel) and two celery plants are all that remain.

 I don't feed Annie and Otto enough (can't you tell?) so they munch on Bermuda grass.  I really need to get it dug out before winter weather sets in.

 The kennel garden is still a jungle of flowers, quickly fading pole beans and Brussels sprouts.

 There might be hope for some Brussels sprouts yet!  Once I cut out the growing tips, the sprouts began to put on some size.

 The fall peas are blooming, I hope they have time to mature.

 A double row of young carrots.

 And a single row of young carrots.  I'm not holding out any hope that the row of cabbage on the left will ever mature.  The row on the right has already been harvested, I need to pull out the roots.

 I've pulled most of the tomato plants, but left a few that had lots of tomatoes that could possibly still ripen a bit.  These two are next to the west fence.  Our early frost has already happened, and we could get a little bit of warm weather yet.  It was 77F yesterday, but only in the mid 60s today.  

Two tomato plants remain next to the patio.  Victor and Bloody Butcher are still yielding occasional ripe tomatoes.

 Three cherry tomato plants remain next to the shed, but only the healthy looking Black Cherry on the left is still producing.  I'm getting occasional ripening tomatoes from it every few days.  I'll probably go ahead and pull the plant on the right, but the one in between is so tangled up with the Black Cherry that it will have to stay, even though it's not producing any good tomatoes now.

The last rose of summer.

October 8, 2012 - Harvest Monday

The garden is nearing the end, with freezing temperatures almost every night this week.  Surprisingly, all of the remaining plants are still alive, even though it has been as low as 28F.  The Fortex beans are still producing, but this might be the last picking for the year.  Strawberries are blossoming again, but too late to give me a decent crop.  My peppers never did ripen, other than a few Happy Yummy Sweet early on.  Even those refused to turn color for me later in the season.

I didn't get a very large harvest of sweet potatoes from the two slips I planted.  These, along with the two I dug earlier, weighed a total of  2.04 pounds.  As I dug these out, I found the dirt in the container to be as hard packed as concrete, and very dry.  I'll try again next year with a good potting mix, and put them in an area of the garden that gets more water.

 Just look at how big these late carrots are growing!  These were planted after the onions and potatoes were dug, and they are much larger and nicer than the early carrots.

With a hard freeze expected, I picked all of the remaining peppers, and all of the tomatoes that might have a chance of ripening.  The green tomatoes in the basket were not included in the harvest weight.  If and when they ripen, I will weigh and add them.  I had enough peppers in the freezer already, so these (and the ones picked earlier in the week, about ten pounds total) were all given to our youngest son.

Harvest for the Week of  10/01 - 10/07

Beans, pole - 11.6 ounces
Carrots - 30.1 ounces  (1.88 pounds)
Peppers, sweet - 153.1  ounces (9.57 pounds)
Peppers, hot - 9.2 ounces
Potatoes, sweet - 20.6 ounces  (1.29 pounds
Squash, summer - 3.8 ounces
Strawberries - 4.4 ounces
Tomatoes - 141.4 ounces  (8.84 pounds)

Total for the week:  23.39 pounds
Total year to date:  975.1 pounds

Daphne's Dandelions is the host for Harvest Monday, where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. Please visit her blog and leave a link, so we can enjoy your harvest photos!