Saturday, October 10, 2009


Ring around the rosey,
a pocket full of posies,
ashes, ashes
we all fall down....

This echoed through my head as I swept leaves from my steps.

Fall .......... Down ..........

The days have grown shorter, the leaves whirling and twirling in the slightest breeze becoming part of natures dance.

Firey maples screaming to be noticed ... orange, reds, wild choke cherry glowing yellow through the density of the woods. In our yard some apples cling tight, as others shake loose to the ground below.

The days and nights have been very chilled, a quick reminder of what is soon to be.

Last Wednesday I spent hours in the garden gathering the last remaining peppers and tomatoes, as our first frost warnings were announced. I sat next to my herb garden stripping basil from their stocks filling a roaster, thinking to myself the whole time of all the wonderful pesto I'd be making.

The frost wiped out the weaker plants left in the garden, while adding sweetness to the kale and beets.

Tonight we fired up the outside wood burner. The clanking of the registers bring added chills to my spine, as I dread winter.

Seems only yesterday that I got sunburned and tonight another frost warning is upon us.

"Things Are Getting A Bit Seedy"

It's that time of year...
........time to choose the best heirloom tomatoes in the garden to save seed.
Not just for the following summer, but summers to come and seeds to share. I have been saving heirloom tomato seed for over 30 years. The majority of my seeds are over 50 years old.

I started saving seeds from Ed's gramma in southern Illinois back in the early 70's. Who knows how old her seeds were that she saved year to year. She always had the most wonderful tasting tomatoes, the flavor pops in your mouth just thinking about them. The seeds I have saved year to year from his dad are a bit similar, yet a different blushing on them.

This year I bought a couple different varieties of tomato plants from the Athens Farmers Market in Southern Ohio and have added seed from the best ones to my collection.

"Purple Russian"...they were an interesting purple black plum like tomato, very meaty and flavorful. They originated in the Ukraine.
"Mortgage"... dates back to the 1930's. It is a cross between German Johnson, Beefsteak, Italian and English varieties.

Bethany introduced me to "Orange Oxheart".. a very flavorable orange heart shaped tomato, "Golden Plum" and "Black Brandywine".

Although I started out with 91 tomato plants in my garden, I lost quite a few to drought and groundhogs. My soil conditions were a bit bleak as well. We just picked up a testing kit to take soil samples in our garden and send them in to get tested at a lab in Holmes County.

I am dreaming of lush bushy plants in 2010.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fall Migration

I just brought in my last hummingbird feeder yesterday, although I haven't seen any hummers since the first week of September, I thought there may be a few stragglers coming through.

The male hummingbirds leave in the first part of August. By late August, the majority of the females are gone. The "juvenile" hummingbirds are the last to leave.

By the end of May, I have my feeders up for the females who start to show up in our area come June. Every year we have nests in the pine trees behind the house and near the pond.

The females have 2 pea sized white eggs that hatch in 14 to 16 days. They are nearly full grown when they leave the nest in 21 days. Every year I watch to catch a glimpse of the new hummers in the's near impossible to tell which are the juveniles.

Every summer I like to stand still nearby where I usually have a feeder hanging and hold the feeder close to my takes only a few minutes for the hummingbirds to come for the sweet treat. Seeing them so close is just awesome!

I am feeling the loss of not seeing the hummingbirds whizzing around the porch and in the perennial garden at the feeders. The winter will drag on until they arrive again in the spring...they will quicken our hearts and catch the eye as no other birds can...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Is It Kosher or Polish?

For the last weeks, I have been trying to track down pickling cucumbers. This year many gardens, including mine, were hit hard with an "air blight". It took quite a toll on the cucumber vines. A few days ago I ordered a bushel of pickling cucumbers from an Amishman, he has been able to buy large quanties to sell from the English/Amish Auction Barn a few miles away.

This week I have been making batches of Kosher and Polish pickles with a twist. I have to wait until all are nestled in bed before mixing my hot peppers and garlic concoction, as its enough to choke the toughest soul out of here, once the brine starts boiling.

As I choke, gasp, and sneeze from the hot peppers I am boiling in the brine, I am continuously telling myself, it's going to be well worth it in the end....

The Harvest Moon

The Harvest Moon looks like a big ole pumpkin in the sky, just before dark...
... the moon should be full September, October, November...the Autumn moon often helps the farmers working in their fields late in the night trying to bring their late crops in.

There were many nights years back that old man Garver would be harvesting a late crop of soy beans across the way by the light of the moon. Sure miss hearing the chugging of the old John Deer forgaging through the fields.

The Harvest Moon also brings on garden harvest time...
... the last couple weeks I have been busy harvesting near dusk, tomatoes...
for salsa,jars of stewed, and many to freeze...

A neighbor down the road has been very generous with his bumper crop of zucchini. Every few years I put up a slew of zucchini relish. I have not bought relish in over 30 years. This relish recipe has been passed on to many.

Zucchini Relish
10 cups zucchini, minced
1 cup pickling salt
5 cups onion, minced
1 cup celery, diced
3 green peppers, diced
2 sweet red peppers, diced
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons celery seed
1 tablespoon mustard seed
6 cups sugar
5 cups white vinegar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Prepare zucchini, combine with salt and other vegetables. Allow mixture to stand overnight. Drain; rinse thoroughly and drain again in a colander. Press bowl down on top of vegetable mixture to force out as much liquid as possible. In a large enamel or stainless steel pot, combine remaining ingredients; add vegetables and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently 20 - 40 minutes, stirring often. Ladle relish into hot sterilized jars and seal. Makes 8 pints.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


in a childs dictionary
... to make different or
replace with another

in Webster's
... to undergo transformation
... to give up one thing for another

As a child, I was oblivious to changes as my days were filled with hugs and play time...surrounded by cousins, always outdoors playing, stretching our imaginations...
bouncing on long low branches for horses, cowboys and Indians, dressing barn cats in doll clothes, swinging on ropes in a hay mow, playing jacks - onesies, twosies, eating pepperoni swinging on a back porch swing, running through summers name a few.

My dad was a coal miner at Robena Mines his whole life, as his father and grandfather before him. There had been a gas explosion at the mine when I was 8. Within months, mid winter, we were packing up for a move. My dads only sister had convinced him to move south..Florida..leaving nearly all our treasures behind. I think dads thoughts were if it didn't fit in the Uhaul, you didn't need it.

Little did I know my life was soon to change...drastically..from a rural farming community to sand and sidewalks.

Through the years I have learned to adapt to change. I don't think change is ever easy.

A few weeks ago the neighboring farm across the road sold. The auction for household miscellaneous and farm machinery brought many. Whether to purchase canning shelves to weathered paned windows, tractors and antique machinery.

Walking through the farm one last time brought much sadness to my heart, as change was soon to be. Within weeks the new owner has divided the 68.5 acres from 5 acre to 20 acre lots. This is not a change I want to adapt to....but know I must.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Notes from the garden

94 degrees.

Afternoon harvest, heirlooms doing well in the heat. First time 'Russian Purple' are exploding in size - their flesh sweet and juicy.

'Juliet's', I am favoring over the common 'Cherry Tomato' or 'Grape Tomato' in flavor and size.

My beans are struggling this year... different from years past. High production with first picking, they're giving into the heat. Shaena and I strung some of the biggest beans onto strings to dry, hoping to save them for later in the year.

Most surrounding gardens were stricken with an air blight. My pickles and English cucumbers are starting to show signs today. Hoping the nearby Amish will have small pickling cucumbers for me to purchase. I need to do a run today to the Amish in hopes of finding onions and more peppers for zucchini relish tonight.

Heat or no heat, canning time is now.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Getting things started

I live in an old farm house, approximately 1831. It was rented out and badly abused for 35 years, until we rescued it, painted it red and have been rehabbing it through the years. This old house sets on a 5 acre plot of land, surrounded by the whispers of nature. Deer, fox, coyote, rabbits, geese, owls, birds of all kind inhabit our land and surrounding land.

In the spirit of a year full of big projects, I think it would be fun to share some of the goings on in our life on the farm. This is my first blog, and I'm hoping to share some of the fun and informative things in my life with family and friends.

"It's the red house on the corner.... you know the one..."