Asian pears and plums and crab apples

I got free fruit from the neighbor’s apple tree and plum tree. I love free fruit, stealing fruit, borrowing fruit or just taking it because no one else wants it. I have a new juicer which is really nice and have been juicing apples lately with kale and cucumber.

We came home today after getting some apples and plums and then picked 12.5 pounds of Asian pears from our tree in the backyard. We are not even have way done and we have already gotten 26 pounds of fruit from this tree which is semi dwarf. I would like to think that it’s because it’s in the chicken run area that it has grown so prolifically but I am really not sure if it’s that or the weather or random luck. I wish all of our fruit trees matured in 2 years not 6. I want to plant a small orchard on my farm but it will be hard waiting till the trees are big enough to fruit well.

I harvested rose hips and shisandra berries and purchased some local crab apples. I want to make something with this combination soon.

I don’t know what to do with all the plums yet, but I saw a photo on Facebook of plums next to kombucha and since I have blackberry kombucha right now maybe the next could be the plum kombucha. 😉


More wool

While it isn’t raining it’s a good idea to dye some more alpaca and wool. I put it out in the yard to dry and it’s really nice. The alpaca I finished and it turned out raspberry color though I used blackberries and cherries and not sure what else. I need to get better about my dye recipes.

The purple wool is getting mixed and spun with some blue-toned wool to take it down a notch although it is pretty as is. The pink and cream wool is super soft merino wool that I had in white. It is a lot easier to spin but on the other hand I kind of like the variation in color and texture with the second cut wool from a friends’ sheep.

Blackberry Bounty













Blackberry Picking

A wonderfull day is unfolding.
A child has gone blackberry picking.
Along a thorn freckled hillside,
these bursting fruits do reside.
Nary a cloud in the sky.
Only sunshine by and by.
Nature’s gladdest moment does shine,
All along that slope of mine.
A happy jaunt in his step,
For blackberry thoughts do pep
Later on after a culling’s done,
its off to home with berries won.

Ronald James de Langen

Picked a total of 10.5 pounds of blackberries this weekend north of here while on a little trip. One of the best parts besides the berries all being in one place for one big time of picking was that there were also rose hips mixed in with the blackberries.

Although I didn’t collect enough rose hips to do anything with I did get some so I was happy.

I made blackberry jelly, two more quarts of blackberry syrup, froze the ones to make wine with next week and froze extra. The rest are in the fridge.

Independence challenge

I haven’t done the Independence Days Challenge before but I thought I would try this week.

Plant something: I planted nothing but good idea! I have seeds I should plant them.

Harvest something:

Eggs 2 dozen?

Mint for iced mint water

4 chickens

3 pounds of blackberries from behind our house

Picked 8 pounds of peaches at U-pick for $1.25 a pound

Preserve something: Did two pints of blackberry syrup, 8 jars of sundae topping (peaches, pinneapple, banana liquor), 5 jars of peach salsa.

-Drying dill, mint, comfrey and shisandra berries.

Waste not: feeding things to the chickens especially the remaninig 9 meat birds, reusing juice containers and putting kombucha or ginger ale in them.Recycling wine bottles for mead and wine.

Want Not: The only stocking I have done is I get some extra pasta and sauce once a week at the grocery store in addition to the preserving I have done.

Eat the Food:

-eating eggs, Willow picks out her own eggs and is learning to crack them into the pan.

-blackberries we pick these and eat them as is, or Mommy has her’s in vodka

-food from farmer’s market: yellow squash, apples, red plums

-U-pick peaches

Build community food systems: What have you done to help other people have better food access or to make your local food system more resilient?

Build Community Food Systems:

-bartering with neighbors for babysitting the girls (=1 chicken and 1 dozen eggs)

-answered questions about pasture raised chicken from new harvesters at the farm I volunteer at. Showed them how to remove the head, legs and the oil gland.

And a new one: Skill up: Teaching myself and experimenting with natural dyes from the weeds around our house and in the yard.

My first yarn

My drop spindle will be on its’ third skein of yarn soon and I really love spinning! I wasn’t surprised by this at all since I love yarn and crocheting and almost love dying it even more. I have been walking around with the look of a weird woman sometimes stopped on the side of the road trying to remember if Queen Anne’s Lace dyes yellow or green?

The yarn I have now is all hand spun and dyed by me and it was a gift from a local friend and her animals. I get almost emotional about the whole thing because things just seem to tie together for me.

I didn’t know how to crochet a few months ago and now I can spin my own fiber into yarn, use my own plants to dye it and then crochet it into something warm for the coming Winter.

The idea of crocheting or spinning wool for that matter seems kind of odd in the summer but I became interested after the animals were sheared and then went from one thing to an invitation to a gift of help and fiber and now I can’t imagine why I didn’t do this before.

The purple I get from frosting dye, blackberries, cherries and Oregon grape berries. To get the color to stick I have been using salt but you can also use oak gall or iron or alum or even a little bit of miracle grow since it had iron in it. You have to be careful about adding chemicals to your dyes obviously but I added the turquoise powder of the miracle grow in the dye pot as the last thing to set for 30 minutes and wasn’t boiled or heated just warm.

The second yarn that I did was spinned Merino wool. Bottom photo shows the lavender color. I spun it first and dyed it in a pot with blackberries, cherries, oregon grape berries and then blue food coloring and salt. You can dye the fiber first before spinning or after and I don’t know which one I like better yet. The alpaca fiber was a beige color and it’s so soft. I dyed it with about the same dye mixture but added some red food coloring to balance the blues. It looks like a raspberry shade now and is drying.

Since I started to crochet I tried lamb for the first time ever and even though it was stew meat and in a stew I had made it was very good. I can see the benefit to having a few sheep when I have my farm.  I have been researching different breeds for wool or meat and they are beautiful creatures that my great great-grandparents and further back raised in Scotland and in this state.



Chicken harvest and ways to use beer besides drink it

I got three pokes while picking blackberries which I think were worth it. There are a lot of blackberries in the field behind the house and there are some that are ready and some that aren’t ready yet. I usually do a second or final harvest and also pick hawthorn berries and collect oak gall from the trees for dye. You can also make oak gall ink but I don’t tend to use much of it so it’s a good mordant for getting dye to stick to your fabric or animal fibers you are dying.

Today I harvested four chickens and I really don’t want to do the rest because I have a bad set up outside, couldn’t get the other chickens out of my business and it’s hot. I would rather take them to have them processed but I don’t have anything to put them in to get them there. This is one of the laying hens inspecting what it is I might be going to do.

While getting propane for my harvesting and chicken food for the remaining ladies and gents, I found a whole new aisle at the farm store! They had meat grinders and sausage stuffers, freezer bags for ground meat, sausage casings and homebrew kits. I want to try and make some chicken sausage so I will buy a grinder when I have money in a few weeks. I have bought the chicken and apple sausage before and it’s really tasty. If I could recreate it then I bet it would be even better using my own chicken and the free neighbor’s apples. I am going to the chicken harvest at the farm I volunteer at on Friday so I will have two more chickens bringing my total to 4 in the freezer =sausage or ground chicken or just plain roasted chicken with herbs.

There are a lot of green tomatoes, shisandra berry, apples, pears and asian pears that will be ready soon too. Last summer I seemed really buy in August and I guess it’s because I am picking berries or freezing them, canning them, making jam, delivering eggs and asian pears to friends, making apple cider and likely 4 other things as well.

I added some of the honey ale to bread dough this past weekend and it turned out fabulous. This was the brew that I thought was really gross but turned out ok after aging for a couple weeks. Even if it had been bad you can still use it in baking and apparently, according to this article around the house and garden too!


First 4-H

The hottest day of the year and we were at the fair. Melody had her first 4-H showmanship with poultry. I told her to have fun and if you were asked a question you don’t know then make something up or say “I don’t know.” She was all smiles the entire time and at the end the other two girls knew more about chickens but the judge gave her an extra ribbon because she was all smiles the whole time and that counts for something. 😉