Summer on the Homestead

The garden this summer.
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"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. "

Romans 8:18


It's been a while since I've updated you on homestead happenings; in fact, I completely omitted a spring update! This was because I had the worst allergies ever this spring; I had to resort to taking Allegra in the morning and Benadryl at night. It certainly made homesteading difficult, since I was trying to stay inside and the allergies themselves made me super tired, but I did get all the essential spring work done. However, I completely ignored my flower beds, so now they are a weedy mess.

A more fun thing has also eaten up a good deal of my time: I'm rehearsing for the role of Mary Poppins in a local musical theater production. Some of you may know that once upon a time, I was a professional singer and actress. That was many years ago...and frankly, I haven't done a lot of theater since my kids were born, so I'm thrilled to be working on this challenging production. Nevertheless, six rehearsals a week is catching up with me.

Maybe that's why my body has been rebelling. I usually suffer from pretty severe hip pain in the spring and fall (my hips were never the same after pregnancy bedrest), but this year, it's been all summer, too. In addition, my abdominal adhesion (from having two C-sections) has really been acting up severely. Then, a couple of weekends ago, I woke up with what I think was a pinched nerve in my back - a new ailment for me. (All these aches and pains are much better now; THANK YOU to those who saw my post on Facebook and prayed for me.)

Zucchini, green beans, jalapenos, and patty pan squash.

Due to cooler than typical weather, the garden got off to quite a slow start, but thankfully now it's producing plenty. I currently have lots of summer squash, cucumbers, Walla Walla onions, cabbages, kale, collards, turnips, beets, green beans, and kohlrabi for harvesting. Soon, they'll be more snow peas, broccoli, cauliflower, and winter squash to harvest. 

Speaking of squash, much of mine got off to a rocky start. This was because a lot of my garden expansion (which was largely designed to make room for more winter squash) included bringing in new soil, which was a bit "hot" (i.e., still composting). At first, I thought the cooler weather was preventing my squash from growing (and it probably did contribute), but I soon realized my squash plants were suffering from a lack of nitrogen. I began fertilizing on overcast mornings, and now those plants are catching up. Only time will tell if I get mature winter squash before the first hard frost.

The buttercup squash has been thriving!

A spring harvest of broccoli, turnips, green beans, and snow peas.

Thems some turnips!


Part of the garden expansion was also to accommodate Egyptian walking onions, which I will plant this fall. These are multiplier onions, meaning small bulbs grow at the top of the leaf stalks, the stalk bends down, and the little bulbs on top root into the soil. The idea here is that I should never have to buy onion seeds or starts again. Alas, I still feel like I need more room to plant a section for garlic, not to mention the raspberry plants I really want to grow. Perhaps next year.

This year in the greenhouse, I chose to only plant one cherry tomato, and then filled the rest of the space with bell peppers (Early Wonder), a store bought jalapeno plant, and some eggplants (Millionaire). I've been very pleased with the results! I would get little, if anything, out of these plants if I grew them outside, but they've been pretty prolific in the greenhouse.

Peppers from the greenhouse.

Freeze drying some of the broccoli harvest.  
Dehydrated zucchini noodles.

On the animal front, we've had ups and downs. I lost my favorite doe, the beautiful Japanese Harlequin Fiona, this winter. I loved that sweet rabbit, and I felt her loss deeply. But I was glad that I had children from her - two beautiful, big magpie does: Chocolate and Vanilla. Chocolate has already given me several litters, including the most beautiful litter of rabbits (lots of magpies and one Japanese harlequin included!). Her sister Vanilla, however, miscarried her first litter and after she gave birth to her second litter - in the wee hours of the morning - she died. I tried to save her litter by giving them to another doe (Clyde) who had 8 week olds and was still nursing. Although Clyde adopted those kits as if they were her own, they died. I'm not really sure why, but I wonder if it's because Clyde didn't have colostrum. I haven't been able to find any reliable information on this topic.

(Some people wonder why I didn't give the kits milk replacer. You can, indeed, feed kits goat milk replacer, but it requires a lot of time - you have to feed them with a sponge to prevent aspiration - and the results often lead to kit death anyway. This is because rabbit kits eat their mother's milk and manure (cecotropes) in order to get the digestive enzymes needed to properly digest any solid food. Therefore, hand fed kits often die upon weaning.

Such cuteness!

De babies.

Our chickens are on the older side and have definitely slowed down their egg laying, so we recently incubated some of our neighbor's chicken eggs. They are "barn yard mix" birds, which is new for us. (We've always raised pure breeds.) They are thriving, and nearly ready to go live outside.

One of our prettier barnyard mix chicks.

We're hoping to build a new hen house for them, since our old one is starting to fall apart, but until then, we've been very happy to install an automatic door opener/closer, which is something we've wanted for a very long time. Chickcozy sent me one, and I must say, we are loving it! Soon I will write an entire post about what to look for in an auto hen house door opener/closer, so stay tuned!


As for the quail, they are still leading their crazy lives and giving us eggs and meat. And we are still hoping to someday put up a barn so that we can have sheep and other, bigger livestock again soon. (Our original flock was eaten by the local bear population.) I have no idea when that might happen, though.

Waiting (impatiently) for tomatoes to ripen.

Making dill pickles.

Zucchini and patty pan squash pickles.

Fresh dill for pickles...and beneficial insects!


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