Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Getting Back into the Swing of Things

Since moving, there are many activities that have fallen by the wayside.  In the last few weeks, here are a few that I've been working to revive...

Home cooking, involving more than just pasta or rice.  I have a hard time cooking when I'm nauseous, and I'm more nauseous when it's hot, so guess what happened...  No cooking.  In the last few weeks, though, I've made homemade pizza (success), Spanish rice (success for the adults), and enchiladas (another success).  Fortunately, returning to cooking also means James has a greater supply of leftovers from which to choose his lunch.

Making bread.  This morning, I mixed up a batch of "Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day."  Tonight, I bake.

Grinding wheat.  I haven't ground wheat since before we moved.

Pathetically, peeling carrots.  I went to the grocery store today and bought another bag of carrots.  Then I came home and peeled the old bag, relieved that carrots survive in the crisper drawer so long despite my neglect.

Next up, some yard work!

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Apple Raiding

I think, in the relief from the heat, our plants and trees are confused.  Here is a blooming "Delicious"-type apple tree.  It's September!
Last year, I purchased 200 pounds of "juice grade" apples to make applesauce, apple butter, and juice.  We split this with the family at Secondhand Ranch, and decided that 200 pounds was only half of what we needed for a year's worth of apple canning.

This year, at our new house, we've found two nearby families who have productive apple trees but will not be picking any of them!  So far, Q and I have gone twice to fill a bag with apples and walk home.  I estimate we walk about 1/2 mile total each trip, and with 20+ pounds of apples in the bag, this may not be the most efficient method for picking apples for me, at 24 weeks pregnant.  Still, if I drive, I'm not getting exercise.  If I take a wagon, I'm afraid the kids will want to ride on the way home, and I'm certainly not up to 50+ pounds of apples plus 25-60 pounds of children (depending on how many are with me).  Bags it is!
"Pick!  Pick!"  he said and gifted me with these flowers.

Tasting apples for quality!
So far, the family together harvested 20 pounds, Q and I picked up 27 yesterday, and today Q, the Screamer, and I picked up 24.  There are plenty more apples, and we have many more days to harvest.

I'm piling up the rejects so when I return, I don't have to pick through them again.
Bag full of apples

Today I made one batch of applesauce, 4 quarts.  I need a bigger pot!  The canner can hold 7 quarts, but my pot to cook down the apples can only hold about 16 pounds at a time (3/5 of a batch).  When we work at Secondhand Ranch, Myle has propane burners outside and HUGE stockpots to cook down the apples.  We can really get  moving then!

My second problem is my food mill.  It needs to be clamped onto a counter or tabletop.  At our old house, I had to clamp the food mill onto the counter above my dishwasher, which was inconvenient as it required having the washer open.  Here, my counters again are not deep enough to clamp.  My table? It has an angle edge, so the clamp will not stay.  Someday, I will design my own kitchen for canning, and part of it will have deep-lipped counters for just such tools!

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Winter Heating

Uncle Bruce needs some help with wood this winter, so James suggested we visit the garden waste dump and fill our truck and trailer with wood to split.  We also need a supply of wood, as the house being on the market and moving prevented us from stocking up last spring/this summer!  Everyone got in on the act, although I stuck mostly to photo shooting.  Lifting wood usually ends in a pulled round ligament around my growing belly!

Little Miss Independent

Look at that strong boy!

I can do it!

Deer on the way home
I thought I snapped a picture of the awesome teamwork I witnessed between the girls, but I guess it didn't turn out, as I don't have one on the camera.

Now it's time for James to do some splitting!

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.   It's Purgatory Ranch.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Learning Curve is Steep...

 ... but, oh, so worth it!

A brief evening at Purgatory Ranch learning the ins and outs of our new machinery while the children enjoy the cooler weather!

The Assistant took care of pictures of the evening!

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Newest Member of the Ranch

I'm hoping James will tell the story himself (SOON!), but until then...

As it always works with James, he:
  • needed a trailer for the tractor he was receiving as a birthday present.  Driving down the road on the way to purchase the tractor, he found a trailer that had been set out for sale less than an hour before.  He bought it at a great price.
  • went shopping Labor Day weekend.  All tractor stores were closed for a long weekend.  James knocked at the door of his preferred store, was greeted by the owner, and bought a tractor from a closed store.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Potato Harvest 2012 Results

VERY belatedly...

Potato Type Seed Weight Yield Ratio
Dakota Crisp 15 58  3.867
Red Norland 5 52 10.4
Yukon 10 12 1.2
Kennebec 31 35 1.13
Viking 15 28 1.866
Misc. 10 66.5 6.65
All-Blue 5 42 8.4
TOTALS 40 293.5 7.3375

There's some monkey business with reformatting by blogger, but at least the numbers are here:

We had great yields of All-Blue and Red Norland (1:8.4 and 1:10.4).  Our leftover potatoes also produced well, especially considering that we could have (and would have) just discarded those potatoes in the compost bin.  Kennebec, Yukon, and Viking, planted in the new, less fertilized bed, had pretty lousy yields.  All told, our average was 7 pounds of potatoes for every pound of see potato we planted.  This is better than we've done in years past... we must finally have the compost about right in the original bed.

We also yielded 27 pounds of large onions.  Some rotted after our delay in harvesting, so next year we hope to do even better!

Garlic was only mediocre, but it was rather weed-stricken and less composted.  This fall, I hope to compost that bed, and on we go!

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.