I feel like a new person today. The reason for this is that the persistent and constant rain that has dominated our area lately has finally let up after days and days of monsoon like rains. The ill affects of the precipitation we received was devastating to many of our vegetable crops and we are not yet sure what we will do to recover from this other than to plow under some of the fields (if it ever gets dry enough to do so) and start again. Our rain gauge showed that we had an average of an inch a day for the last six days and the month total (after only 20 days) was 7.71 inches. This is way too much rain for our fields! We can’t even get into to them to weed or manage them since we would be knee deep in mud if we tried. If this were the expected rain amounts, I guess we would be planting rice paddies! Ugh!
It’s hard to complain since other parts of the country (Texas and Oklahoma, for instance) are even more devastated by the rain amounts they have received in the last months. But then, of course, there are droughts in California to contend with so it seems like we should be thankful that although this is difficult to swallow, we aren’t in either of those extremes, despite the fact that this looms large for the efficiency of the farm in 2015.
The tail end of the strawberry harvest was affected by the month of rain so our total numbers were way down in comparison to other years. This didn’t prevent me from preserving 36 half pints of jam in addition to massive freezing efforts. Here are just a few of the jars. If anyone remembers the ‘Quasimodo’s Lips’ strawberry from last year, here is the winner of the crop this year. It resembles a toy jack to me. I’m not sure why this berry has so many ‘points’ but mother nature is fascinating, eh? Despite the ‘Debbie Downer’ tone of this post, I have a bit of good news to report on the blue berry crop. I’ve only been able to access the fields twice so far this year, but we are having a bumper crop so far. Last week I picked 10.156 pounds from 3 of the 5 varieties we have planted. Today (the first day to get back to pick) I harvested 22.383 pounds (4 hours of steamy hot, humid back breaking work) from those same 3 rows bringing the total YTD to 32.539 pounds which is 57.5% more than last year at this point. Despite the high heat and humidity I managed to keep a smile on my face since these blueberries are so wonderful! I think they are the size of grapes or cherries and taste so wonderful!I’m reminded of the blueberries (and banana) that Kate enjoyed as a 15 month old sitting in her highchair on our Georgetown apartment patio. Perhaps we can get Coulter to replicate this photo next year with blueberry stains on his little face!Other farm news was fun for us as we continue to welcome the Wards to our area. We had a little adventure one early Saturday morning driving our old riding mower from the farm to their house. Here is Dave (I walked beside) driving this vehicle the 1.5 miles along the back streets and pathways between our houses. We are glad that they have a use for this machine since the farm was in need of a zero turn mower. Here is Dave…on his 59th birthday with the new machine. Although we seem to be almost all plant based in our diet these days, I managed another interesting experiment recently that I figured I should share since I’m slim on reporting the veggie side of things! We purchased a brisket to share with family when they were all in town during my mom’s final days. I took one look at this particular cut of brisket and gave it the thumbs down due to the excessive fat layer on the bottom side. We replaced this with a more reasonable piece for the family dinner but I was left with this ugly slab of meat. I decided to cut it up and make it into tasty burgers using my meat grinder. With an inch or more of fat on the bottom of the cut, I sliced it up in order to separate the fat before grinding. I then weighed the meat vs. the fat and added in the amount of fat I wanted to introduce to the ground meat. After adjusting the meat and fat ratio and dicing them both, I froze the combination to get an easier grind. After an hour of freezing, I started to grind the combo which took much more effort than I expected.We wound up with a large dish full of ground brisket meat……as well as the reminder that the blade of the grinder is very sharp! This is my favorite wooden spoon (RIP) that I was using to push the meat down into the feeder tube. Good thing I wasn’t using a finger. Ouch avoided! I then weighed out the ground meat into equal portions…to make 1/4 pound patties….These were portioned out into freezer bags for the Sauerhoffs and the Wards and we have all been enjoying Brisket Burgers! The grinder required some maintenance though and here are the parts that once cleaned and dried, needed to be sprayed with food grade silicone to keep the working parts ready for the future uses. After all of this effort, Kate managed to remind me that there are electric grinders available now! Oh well, this was fun and everyone seemed to enjoy the brisket burgers!
The bees have not been pleased with the massive rain amounts but we are looking forward to a future honey harvest in the next week or so. There have been many swarm cells this spring/summer so we have been trying to keep swarming to a minimum but also took one of the better formed cells from Seven Oaks to another beeyard to try to replace the queen there with this newly formed, future queen. Fingers crossed for a decent honey harvest after all this rain.
We are enjoying regular, daily, sessions with Coulter here at the farm while Kate has started curriculum meetings at her new job. He is such an easy baby and we feel he is getting more and more comfortable with the routine here, including Farley who is a Nervous Nelly as he tries his best to protect Cal at all cost. Nana and Gramps cannot get enough of this little guy! June birthday recognitions: Dave turned 59, Farley turned 13 and my mom would have been 84 today. Thank you to all those kind notes on her behalf…she would have enjoyed knowing that so many people thought kindly of her. God bless them all.