Green Beans Ramping Up

Now that we have had a little time to get back out into the garden, Marilyn has wrangled most of those weeds that took over while we were busy with the hay fields.

The summer squash plants are beginning to supply us with daily zucchini, patty pan and yellow crookneck. The potatoes are at the first stages of dying back and we have harvested a tire or two. The green beans are really starting to ramp up production and beside what we are eating fresh (both right off the bush and stir fried or in recipes for meals) we have begun the process of freezing them for the winter.

The freezing process is simple. After picking and rinsing them in a mild salt water bath, I let them dry in a colander. I do not blanch them but try to select beans that are about the same size to cut up into bite sized pieces and spread them out on a cookie sheet before popping them into the freezer. Once frozen solid, the beans go into a freezer bag. It usually takes two full cookie sheets of beans to fill one freezer bag.

By freezing the beans this way, I can open a bag and only take out what is needed for the meal I am preparing just like the frozen products available in the grocery store and the resealable freezer bag can hold the extras safely in the freezer until I need more.

 

 

Last Year’s Tarry

I know that I post about all the jobs, tasks, plans and general busy-ness that I do throughout the year but there are also a lot of things that go unheeded, ignored and downright forgotten. There are things that just fall off the mental radar of my brain only to re-emerge with greater urgency months (or years) later when I’m trying to get something accomplished.

I had a couple of tasks like that recently and they all seemed to pertain to the garden. Last fall as the tomatoes died back, my plan had been to get the tires that protected each plant picked up and stacked out of the garden area before winter set in. I also had tires as protection for every hill of potatoes, but instead of moving the tires one at a time as I dug the hills, they were just clumped in a row alongside where I harvested. The row of kale, that produced loads and loads of leafy greens until the heavy frosts, never did get pulled out and fed to the waiting show cows. The garden did not get bedded down for winter like most years, it was easily forgotten even though we drive right past at each time we go out the driveway.

I happened to notice that the kale had started to emerge from dormancy as the middle stem began to stretch up and the very beginnings of seed heads were starting. I walked out to the row and began snapping off the tips to discourage the seeds from forming. Like I am apt to do whenever I am in the garden, I popped a snapped top into my mouth to see if it was bitter from the winter and was quite surprised at the mellow taste.

I quickly grabbed a large container from the house and gathered enough for a cookie sheet of baked kale chips, some for addition into the garden salad for dinner and a big bunched chopped into bits to add into a quinoa salad.

My tarry from last year was a welcome addition to the daily meals this week.

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I am delighted to announce that the new book by MaryJane Nordgren, Nandria’s War, is available to the public and can be purchased through my website, SchmidlinAngusFarms.com!  And is now available on Kindle also.

 

Watchful Eyes

The cows and heifers that occupy the show barn for their meals have both a barnyard and a gate they can go through to go down into the woods past a large field of grass. They spend most of their days out in the field of grass or under the tall fir trees as they graze and lounge. These critters are also just a fence line away from the garden and orchard and spend time along the dividing line when anyone is out working in the yard or garden.

We happily share the bounty of both yard and garden with critters in the bull pen, the weaning side of the show barn and these show animals. We do not use chemicals in the fields, the garden, the yard or around the farm so we are comfortable feeding everything from grass clippings, to overgrown garden vegetables to apples and pears from the fruit trees. Continue reading

Orchard Trees

Up til now, the trees in the orchard had been waiting patiently for someone to get the spring pruning done. But that is not going to last for long because these lengthening days along with moderating temperatures are beginning to bring the trees out of dormancy.

About ten years ago, we noticed the senior stock of fruit trees that we inherited when we purchased the farm in the 1970’s had begun to show their age. Most of the apple and pear trees had been grafted to produce several varieties of fruit on each tree. Grafts are great for variety but tend to be weaker growths attached to the tree than a branch that formed naturally. Over the last hundred years, grafted limbs have broken out of host trees, some of the trees themselves have had issues and were taken out completely. We have been slowly replacing failing trees with semi-dwarf and dwarf varieties to make the pruning and harvesting easier.

Most of the dwarf trees have been spring pruned and we just need to buckle down to get the big trees completed. The tallest farm ladder we have has been pulled out of storage (a feat in itself) and has been set up at the Bartlet Pear tree back by the shop. Once done with that monster pear tree, the ladder will be moved into the garden area where the rest of the trees will be completed.

The buds have begun to swell and at the tips I am beginning to see the green of future leaves and the pink and white of future blossoms. I figure I have about twenty days before the trees are out of dormancy and the task will be ended until the trees go back to sleep in November. It is a sure sign that spring is just around the corner when the traffic on the county road take note that I am hanging around in the fruit trees.

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I am delighted to announce that the new book by MaryJane Nordgren, Nandria’s War, is available to the public and can be purchased through my website, SchmidlinAngusFarms.com!

 

The Gift That Keeps Giving

It is the simple things that make me happy. A beautiful sunrise, a newborn calf standing for the first time, Butler the dog digging and catching a gopher, Jackson the other dog stopping his frantic ways long enough to lift his paw for a handshake, and even Mike mucking out the barn.

The mucking barn is a necessity as well as making me in a better mood. Walking into the mid-section of the barn where the hay and equipment is stored while on either side of me has been cleaned out, refilled with a scattering of lime and a layer of fresh wood chips gives me a much better outlook on the whole day. The tidy barn makes the cows look better to me and it makes me happy. Continue reading

Down To Blues And Reds

Out of the long row of ‘tired’ potatoes (the potatoes that I grow in tires instead of hills) that I planted in the garden in the spring, finally the last few batches have been harvested. At the beginning of the row, I had harvested the russets and Yukon gold spuds. Now that I am at the end of the row I finishing up with the reds and blues or purple potatoes.

I try to save the purple ones for the end of harvest because I enjoy making potato salad for the fall and winter time with the deeply colored spuds. Boiling prior to making them into the salad changes the color from deep purple to more of a lighter blue color that stays true rather than coloring the white mayonnaise-based salad, unlike the red cabbage that turns coleslaw into a pink swirly concoction. Continue reading

What To Do With A Chanterelle

With the woods full of newly emerging Chanterelle mushrooms it seems appropriate to share a few recipes.

Chanterelles are a heartier mushroom than the small white buttons you purchase in the store but can be sliced, diced or minced and added to soups, stews and casseroles just like the buttons. I love to dice up a couple cups of Chanterelles, add a good mix of minced garlic, chopped onions, butter and pepper or smoked paprika. Saute until moisture from mushrooms has cooked off and pile on the top of a grilled steak or baked potato. I have been known to saute this Chanterelle mix a little drier than for steak, and spread it warm on toast points, hearty crackers or to top a baked brie. Continue reading

The Getaway Garden

An overgrown garden and a black wheelbarrow heaped with foliageThe garden had gotten out of hand early this year, I believe it started way back when I began planting.

For some unknown reason the spaces between rows just seemed off. I always try to think as I plant and space things according to how they grow. For zucchini plants that grow tall and round with those huge leaves, I like to give them a wide berth so they don’t feel cramped. The lettuce on the other hand can be squished and even planted along with the seeds of something like radish and can still produce an abundance. Continue reading

Shipping It Out As Fast As I Can

A box full of fresh and dried produceVisitors to the farm are asked to the garden. We love to show off the variety that is being produced from a small plot of land. But the ultimate goal of enticing folks into the area is to get rid of as much produce as possible so the plants will continue to produce. I box, bag, dry and cook and send off loads each day.

The transparent apples have already turned soft and so any stragglers that finally fall from the tree become munchies for the cows in the show barn or the bulls in the bullpen.

The strawberry patch has been tilled under since the season for them is done. The ground will sit for a couple weeks, then tilled again with several more repeats. I’m trying to kill off all the buttercup roots that turn up with each tilling. The roots are so dense that they like to wind up around the tiller tines and I spend more time unraveling the bound-up mess than actual tilling, but each time should get easier.

The earliest of the plums are just starting to ripen. They have a wonderfully sweet taste even at this stage with a bit of crunch to them.

The cabbages are out of control and I have a hard time giving them away fast enough before they split wide open. I have lost three heads so far to this process but the cows are not complaining about the addition to their meals.