Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fall Seeds

I know that I won't remember unless I write it down some where that I won't lose it, so this seems like a good place. Tonight I planted the first batch of fall seedlings.

Included were:

- Swiss Chard
- Spinach
- Basil
- Lettuce Mix
- Corn Mache
- Cabbage
- Broccoli
- Cauliflower
- Brussel Sprouts

I also transplanted the mint into larger containers. I'm not sure if they are going to make it. I didn't keep up with watering it like I should have. I am really hoping that mint is as sturdy of a plant as what I remember. This mint may be too young to snap back as easily. If it makes it I will transplant it outside in the spring.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


It is hot! Yes... I know I live the deep south. That tends to happen. In all honesty, it isn't as hot as it could be. It just feels that way. The humidity is ridiculous. I feel like I could swim across the yard when I step out the door. It feels like it is 105F every day, even when the temperature only gets in the low to mid 90's. I'm sure being over 39 weeks pregnant doesn't help me feel any cooler. Yes, I'm still waddling about. Baby Liam is in no hurry to get here, despite my doing everything I can think of to get things started. Brad says that it is further proof that I have good genes and that it is evolution in the works. It doesn't make me feel much better at the moment. In the meantime...

I got out my seed stash today. It is about time to start planting fall crops. While they were out I sorted things to figure out what seeds I need more of, and what I wanted to change up. I am definitely changing cucumber types. The ones I have used for the last 2 years have succumbed to some kind of wilt or mold too quickly to make it practical to keep planting them. I went ahead and picked out which seeds I am hoping to get, but haven't sent the order yet. I may go ahead and start some seeds inside later this evening. At the moment I am doing this in between working on finishing dinner. Mmmm Meatloaf, mac & cheese from scratch, and baked corn. I'm hungry!

Maybe I will manage to get some seeds planted in the garden in the next couple of days. The cucumbers are completely gone. The tomatoes will soon follow. They are looking worse every day, but are still ripening what tomatoes are left on the vines. Mostly egg yolks. The peppers have gone crazy! I am getting more jalapenos than I could possibly find something to do with. I have been doubling up on bell peppers in everything that I cook to try to use them up rather than freezing or canning them like I really need to be doing. Yes... I'm being lazy. Speaking of lazy, I have been letting the beans go. I really need to pick them but I may just let them go to seed. I have canned 2 batches of them. I think I got 9 pints in the last batch. Not a lot but something for the winter.

The pigs are doing well. They STILL haven't figured out how to work the waterer. Bless their little piggy hearts. Maybe at some point they will work out how to push the button.
I have just been keeping their wallow full and pushing the button myself to let the cup fill every time I am out there.
I let them out of the hog ring last night. They managed to make it until this afternoon before they escaped from the garden. The dogs were going crazy so I went out to check on things to find both piglets standing in the front yard. I called them and walked toward the garden and they followed me. After I unplugged the fence I grabbed a scoop of feed and the male pig immediately ran through the fence and started happily eating. The female was less willing to get near the fence. Luckily I already introduced them to the incredible edible egg.
They will do anything for eggs. She paced back and forth, squealing loudly, for a few minutes but once I raised the fence wire so she didn't have to step over it she ran through after some eggs I tossed on the other side of the fence. The fence is now functional again and they are on the right side of it. I sure hope they stay in now. It will be really bad if they get out while I am in the hospital and there is nobody here to realize it. If they don't learn to respect the fence they will have to go back in the ring. Brad is supposed to bushhog tomorrow so I can start putting their big fence up. They have just about cleared that section of garden and it won't be easy to keep them in when there are so many more tasty things to root around for on the other side of the fence. Maybe after my doctors appt tomorrow afternoon. We shall see. If only it isn't too hot...

Friday, August 8, 2014


The piglets arrived last night! They are so cute! I just love babies. We put them in the section of garden that Brad and I fenced off. They discovered the electric fence almost immediately. I felt so bad for them as they zapped themselves and then ran to the other side of the garden, where there was another fence to zap them again. They soon started rooting around in the center of their area. All was good until I tried to toss them an egg. First, let me explain that I learned last year that all you need to do to control a pig is feed them eggs. They will do anything you want them to after that point as long as they know that you
have eggs. Well... rather than get excited about having an egg they got spooked and took off. Right through the fence and off into the field. Brad chased after them and I ran and got Keegan, and a bunch more eggs. Brad likes the slow approach. He had us basically just stand in an area and if they walked toward the garden we took a few steps that direction so they wouldn't come back our way. They had a good time rooting around and eating and paying us no attention at all. Eventually I got frustrated and chased them down. Once they got near the garden I tossed eggs at them. Finally one of the piglets tasted an egg that landed near
them. Done and done. After that I just tossed an egg a few feet closer to the garden, gave them a minute to eat it, and then tossed another until they walked right back into their area. While I was doing this Brad and Keegan got the hog panels and constructed a ring around myself and the two piglets. I was over chasing pigs at that point, and was not willing to take the chance that they take off into the woods. If that happened we would never see them again. My property ends where the national forest begins, and there are many acres, and many many predators that would make sure of that. We tied insulators at intervals around the bottom of the hog ring and ran electric wire inside the ring. Not only will it keep them from rooting under and getting loose, but hopefully it will train them to the electric fence so we can let them out soon. It took them a while last night to get the idea that they shouldn't touch it, but they finally settled down. Once they get it in their minds that they need to stay away from the fence they will have a much larger section of the garden to root around in. After they get used to that they will have nearly an acre of pasture of wooded area to enjoy. We had no problems at all with the pigs last year. These don't seem quite as bright so far. They have yet to even figure out their waterer. I finally made them a wallow hole under it so they could have access of water to cool off in until they master sticking their little piggy noses against the button to fill the waterer up. Good thing they are so cute! Hopefully that will be the end of the excitement that they bring. If nothing else, chasing them down and getting them situated last night seems to have made my body realize that it needed to prepare for having a baby. No real contractions yet, but there is definitely something happening. I think that my having to crawl and scoot on my belly into the bottom level of the chicken coop to get a stubborn hen dislodged from under the ramp and into the coop this evening helped too. Maybe really soon. Brad and I got the car cleaned out and the car seat base installed this evening, just in case. I feel better knowing that is done, anyway. Now to get the 5 gallon bucket of beans, peppers, tomatoes, and butternut squash I picked this evening dealt with.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

We Are Ready!

On sooo many levels. For one, we are now ready for the pigs to arrive. Today we picked up the waterer fittings and some pig feed. This evening I spliced a small section of hose together to attach permanently to the waterer which the pigs managed to strip the threads off of last year. It will no longer be disconnected from that small piece of hose. Instead I connected it to a shut off valve which is connected to the main hose which is where we will connect and disconnect it from now on. While Brad put the finishing touches on that I ran the electric fence around the unplanted section of garden and got it electrified. I wasn't convinced that the fence was strong enough to keep pigs where we want them, and we don't have anything to check it with so Brad did it the old fashioned way. He took off his shoes to get a good ground and touched the wire. He said his joints still hurt a couple of hours later. I thought electricity was supposed to be good for joint pain? The ancient Egyptians put electric eels in small ponds and had people suffering from arthritis stand in the water to help with pain. Apparently Brad disagrees. However, he said the fence is plenty strong enough for pigs. :) Now we just wait for the lady we bought them from to deliver them.

Most of the day was spent at my doctors appointment and running errands. The doctor said everything looks perfect and I am ready any time the baby is. I am soooo beyond ready. Keegan got his hair cut in preparation for school starting on Friday. I never remember starting school this early when I was a kid. I have been feeling blah. I haven't even been picking veggies. I don't understand how it is possible to feel the need to accomplish things to the point of feeling anxious and yet being completely lethargic and unable to accomplish anything at the same time. Those are the makings of stirring insanity. I really need to pick beans and peppers tomorrow. And maybe get some mowing or weedeating done if it doesn't rain. Have I mentioned that I am ready for this baby to come?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Full Term

I was 37 weeks pregnant yesterday which is considered full term. It is still 20 days from my due date. It seems all I think about anymore is the impending arrival of my munchkin. Of course a lot of it is that I am excited to meet the little guy that has been kicking me for so many months. Part of it is also partially because I am anxious about the birth. Keegan was born via emergency c-section and this time I am going to attempt a VBAC. I know it is going to be hard and painful and so I just kinda really want to get it over with. I like to just jump into difficult or intensive projects, but I don't have much control over the timing of this one. So, I am attempting to pass the time doing things around here. 

We have a new fence charger! It is hooked up to the garden. Brad and I got the pig feeder and waterer in place. We still need some attachments to hook the waterer up. I also need to put the fencing up to separate the unplanted section of garden off. That will only take a few minutes. We should be getting the piglets within the week! I'm excited! 

The cucumbers are pretty much done for the year. I think that they succumbed to wilt. The electric fence has been keeping the roosters out of the garden but the hens go right under it. Maybe once the pigs are here the hens will be more interested in stealing pig feed than destroying my vegetables and scratching up the mulch. I'm debating whether I should tear up the dying cucumber plants and burn them or just leave them to rot in place. 

I managed to get the flower gardens weedeated and mulched. The looks so nice. It pleases me greatly. I really need to work on the small garden next. Today I think I am going to stick to getting a bunch of bread baking, cooking, and cleaning done. It will be nice to have "sitting around" food for all of us to grab for the next few days. At the moment Keegan is piddling around in the kitchen and I am hearing odd noises that sound suspiciously like cleaning. I guess stranger things have happened. I am just going to be very quiet and not make any sudden movements that might spook him for the next little bit. Who knows what I might find when I go in there... 

Friday, August 1, 2014

And Then Again...

As soon as I posted that I am slowing down I seemed to get a burst of energy. Don't get me wrong... I am still slow, and huge, and waddle everywhere I go. But I have more will and energy to do things anyway. My body dislikes me quite a bit afterward a good part of the time though. Oh well. I assume that I am in the nesting phase. I think I nest differently than most pregnant women. Rather than knitting little hats I am mowing and canning up a storm. Maybe it is the pull to get these things done before baby comes. The garden is weed-eated and re-mulched. The entire yard is mowed and looking very pretty. I still want to get some weed-eating done and mulch in my flower gardens beside the front and back porches and in the small garden. I am also really wanting to clean, organize, and redecorate Keegan's room. I would like to surprise him with a new and more age appropriate space that is all his own since he is going to be sharing everything else with a new baby soon, possibly including his birthday. He will be turning 15 the day after Liam is due. Is that a good surprise or a violation of his personal space at his age?

Another reason that I have been getting so much done outside is because of the glorious weather we have been having! It has been beautiful! The days have been staying in the high 80's to low 90's, but the most amazing thing is that the humidity has been so very low. It doesn't feel like the air is thick and soupy like usual. The humidity here is what makes the summer so miserable. Sadly, today the humidity will return brought in by a front carrying rain. Eh... I can't complain because it isn't usually as nice as it has been at this time of year and my gardens need to be watered. I will miss being able to sleep with the windows open, air off, and under the blankets instead of on top of them. Soon enough I guess.

As I mentioned, I got a bit more canning done. It feels like much more than it was. I canned 8 quarts and 6 pints of dill pickles and 5 pints of dill pickle relish. Two of the pints of relish didn't seal for some reason though, so we will have to use them soon. I need to do a batch of bread and butter pickles, and probably at least one more of dills, but I'm not sure I will get the chance. The chickens have been invading the garden and have scratched through my cucumbers and damaged them pretty badly. It didn't take long after the initial damage for them to start showing evidence of some kind of fungal issue. They looks worse every day. I also pressure canned 6 quarts of green beans and froze half a gallon more that wouldn't fit in the canner. I wish pressure canning didn't take so long! It seems to take so long to get just a little bit done. I hope to can some more beans before they are done for the year. Freezing is so much easier, but I feel much better about having things put up in a shelf stable manner. You never know when the electricity will go out. Especially with this being an area prone to tropical storms and hurricanes. It has been a while since Katrina and we are probably about due for another, at least small, hurricane at some point soon. Better to be prepared. Also, even with the 3 deep freezers that my in-laws have, freezer space is at a premium. It really needs to be reserved primarily for meat, and we regularly add pork, beef, chicken, and turkey to it. I haven't tried my chances at canning meat yet, although I really need to look into a chili recipe next time we get a ground beef added to the freezer. We would use a ton of it if I had it on hand, and maybe it would make me more comfortable with other types of canned meats.

The garden is doing fairly well still. Like I mentioned, the cucumbers are succumbing to some kind of fungal issue in top of the chicken damage. I am so frustrated with the chickens that I can't even say. I just can't keep them out of the garden no matter how many times they are chased out. The tomatoes are also being slowly taken by blight. The bottoms of the plants are brown and it is slowly working its way up the plants. The tomatoes that I have been getting have been cat faced and aren't keeping for more than a day after being picked. I have just resigned myself to enjoying them for as long as I can. I'm not using chemicals on the garden. Not even "organic" ones. I almost sprayed Bt on the garden, but after reading the warnings on the label, changed my mind. Not while I'm pregnant. It isn't worth the worry. One thing I can say about the stupid chickens raiding the garden. After seeing a couple of caterpillars on my tomatoes, and having to completely remove the broccoli, they have completely disappeared and I have had no further insect damage. So far. Just chicken bites out of everything they can reach and the mulch repeatedly removed from under the plants.... ugh. I admit, I get a special, and probably very evil, satisfaction out of periodically seeing half of a jalapeno laying on the ground that a chicken decided to taste. Brad said that once we get enough peppers put up to be comfortable for the year we need to try to condense some oil down to spray on things we don't want the chickens destroying. I think it is definitely worth a try! I also plan to plant cayenne peppers next year to dry. Sprinkling it on the mulch in my flower garden really seemed to do a good job keeping them from scratching in there. It is just to darned expensive to keep buying it to dump on the ground. Again, it may seem cruel, but I feel better about it than locking the chickens up and not allowing them to free range any more. And definitely less cruel than the thoughts I have when I go to pick a beautiful ripe tomato that I have been watching intently for weeks, and have the whole back of it turn to rotten mush in my hand because the chickens have eaten half of it. They have been lucky that I am so big, and slow, and waddle everywhere lately. They have come to fear the garden hose, though. That will have to do.