so i made pickles

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The kids are back to normal and we had an activity-filled weekend of birthday parties, visits with grandparents and the usual errands. On Sunday the kids were exhausted and each took (overlapping!) long naps. Gabe and I fought our desire to just relax and watch a movie and instead opted to do something productive. He built me a shelf/phone charging station in the kitchen and I decided to make pickles out of the 50 pounds of cucumbers I had sitting in my fridge.

Okay, fine, there wasn’t 50 pounds of cucumbers in my fridge. But there was enough for me to make 12 quarts of pickles. I didn’t can them, I just pickled them and placed them in our extra fridge that sits in the garage. They’ll last three(ish) months without being canned, but I don’t think that will be a problem for us considering my family can eat through a jar of homemade pickles in less than three days. We like pickles.

The recipe is here. You can also find it on my Pinterest board here.

Note: This recipe works for pickling almost any kind of vegetable. I’ve pickled carrots, cucumbers, radishes, green beans, cauliflower…it’s all good. 

checking in

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This weekend was spent mostly indoors. A storm hit Friday night and it rained all through Saturday until early Sunday morning. We lost power for about 36 hours, but because we have a generator, our house was able to function per usual. Starting in fall and well into spring our area looses power multiple times a year and I’m always surprised to hear people talk about how they had to stay with friends or check into a hotel during the longer outages because they don’t own a generator. Why don’t they have generators? I understand if you have a small generator and it runs out of fuel after three days, but to not have one at all…why? It baffles me.

On Saturday evening a tree branch fell on an electrical wire that’s connected to our roof. Gave had to grab the orchard ladder and cut it down with a hand saw. I wish the pictures showed just how rainy and windy it was while he was up on the ladder. He was relieved to make it down to the ground in one piece.

Side note: notice the color of the leaves in our trees? Red! It happened overnight, I swear. Fall is coming!

On Sunday I spent the day surveying the damages to the garden. It wasn’t that bad. My dahlias took a beating and I had to cut down a few and throw them in the compost. I doubt my sunflowers will stand back up, but they weren’t doing too well anyway. Our corn was almost completely flattened. My lovely 4×4 rows are no more. A few have popped up over the last day, but most of them are still quite supine. They are still alive…but I don’t know if there is anything I can do to help them pop back up or if I should leave them be.

We turned the old garden shed into a makeshift beekeeper’s station for Gabe. He bought a propane stove and a turkey fryer so that he can heat up big batches of sugar water and basically keep his sticky mess out of my kitchen.

Gabe checked the bees today to see how they were faring and remove the second round of mite treatment that he placed in each hive a couple weeks ago. The smaller hive grew from two frames that my parents gave us a few months ago. My dad used plastic frames instead of the traditional wood frames and the bees don’t seem to like them very much. The hive had become increasingly weak, and he gave it to us in the hopes that we might have more luck than he did in strengthening the colony. When Gabe opened up the hive, he discovered that they were building their comb on top of the frames in the temporary space reserved for the mite treatment. Thus, the sticky weird looking mess (honey!) you see in the above photos. Normally Gabe would scrape that off, which would force the bees to use the frames, but because their colony is already so weak and cold weather is approaching, he has decided to leave it as is and hopefully the hive will be strong enough come spring for Gabe to scrape that off or just replace the frames altogether.

There was some honeycomb in the stronger hive that Gabe scraped off and he brought it inside. He drained some of the honey out and we scooped it up with our fingers. It tasted incredible. I can’t wait until we can collect a big batch of our own honey.

raised beds

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The last few days have been really busy. The hot weather is back and we spend most of our time playing outside or patronizing business that have AC. I haven’t had time to do much knitting or photographing. I think the heat depletes my motivational resivour. The majority of the photos were taken in February. Gabe spent two cold and rainy days cutting, sawing and hammering wood in order to make my raised beds. He used a beautiful cedar that has weathered into a nice grey color over the past few months. The layout was his idea. I was going to just have rows of beds side by side but Gabe thought this layout would allow for a greater number of beds in a smaller area and that it would be more pleasing to the eye. He was right. When it comes to aesthetics, he usually is.

After he built the beds, it took an entire day to carry them to the garden, place them, and then fill them with dirt. He had help for a few hours but was on his own for a majority of the time. It was backbreaking work. I’m grateful it wasn’t my back.

The last few photos are the garden in its current state. The unusually hot summer has been good for some plants but not so much for others. My lettuce and kale are unable to stand the heat and went to seed a few weeks earlier than usual. I planted carrots, cabbage, and a few root vegetables in the Spring to see how they would fair, but a lovely case of root maggot ruined my entire crop in a matter of weeks. Gabe has since put together some hoops made out of PVC pipe. You are supposed to stretch garden fabric tightly over the hoops, providing the plants under the fabric access to sun and water while simultaneously keeping the flies and other pests out. I threw out my shoulder a few weeks ago (How, I do not know) and I have yet to complete this task. It has also prevented me from planting my leeks and onions for overwintering, and from weeding for the last two weeks. My poor garden. It looks like a jungle out there.

I don’t know that my shoulder will heal in time for me to even bother planting a fall root crop. I was so looking forward to making homemade sauerkraut this year. I think that opportunity has long passed. but on the bright side, I can still knit, and that’s something for which to be grateful.

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