Jen promised something exciting for participating today and the I'm curious enough to be spurred into writing.
1. Food preservation time has kicked into high gear this week. On Wednesday, the whole family drove 45 minutes to a child-friendly farm that was supposed to have unsprayed, cheap, you-pick blueberries and raspberries. I went there around this time last year with Peter and brought home a gallon of each for under $30 total. Turns out I was misinformed when I called the day before and the blueberries were picked out, but they have huge purple raspberries and plenty of black too for $3/lb, so we got over a gallon of those and decided that was good enough. We got to ride behind a tractor to their evergreen tree maze, too. Tomorrow I'm going to a closer, almost-as-cheap farm to get blueberries while Dan brings the boys north another 10 miles to pick up more chicken feed and waterers. Wednesday evening, I was alerted by a friend that someone on Craigslist was sharing the bounty of a backyard sour cherry tree, so I spent an hour perched on a ladder picking 12 lbs of cherries. I'm not a huge cherry pie eater but there have to be tasty things I can make with free cherries -- any suggestions?
2. My garden is now producing enough bush beans to stuff a quart bag or loosely fill a gallon bag every 3 or 4 days. The pole beans are huge but are lagging at least two weeks behind the bush beans -- I've only picked two so far. The lettuces are long bolted, although I have some tiny ones under the grow light to plant in a week or two for hopeful fall lettuces. The broccoli went straight to flower for the second year. Cauliflowers got eaten (by us) either right before or after our trip to the cabin in early July. We've had one summer squash. Both the squashes and melons have been thwarted by very dry weather -- we're getting better about watering them plenty in hopes of fewer withered pathetic veggies. The black raspberries came and went, although the brambles are trying to take over the garden. The pumpkins and winter squashes are spreading their vines and trying to take over the peas' space, but the cool July has dragged out the pea season so long that I haven't totally pulled them up yet. The roma tomatoes are starting to look less green but all the tomatoes have awhile before they'll be pickable. We're getting lots on the vines, at least. The melons are flowering, the watermelons aren't going to get anywhere.
3. I'm hoping to pickle cukes and can peaches in the next week, although my peach source isn't happening, so I'll have to wait with that unless I find good ones cheap elsewhere. I decided not to grow cucumbers and just get them in bulk at the farmer's market again. I've never canned fruits (vs jam) -- anyone have advice about peaches or pears?
4. Spending time at the cabin with family has pushed us more in the direction of wanting to eventually share a farm with Dan's sister and her husband. Not like 200 acres of soybeans, but 10 acres with a big garden and orchard and 100 chickens and a few turkeys and a cow. Enough to supply a lot of our own food and a step up in self-sufficiency. We'd have built-in backup if we weren't home to take care of the animals and would combine forces for childcare. Our own mini-commune. I could see it actually happening in five years if everything lines up. We'll see.
5. We've been working our way through three seasons of the 1970's BBC program "Good Neighbors". The fact that it doesn't seem completely crazy to watch them raise pigs in suburban London tells us we're definitely going a bit kooky ourselves.
And for non-food news....
6. Peter threw a rock at Leo's head tonight (drawing blood). I'm hoping that the fact that he didn't get to go to the park afterwards with Leo and I despite much crying and begging will convince him that throwing rocks at people is a Very Bad Idea.
7. The combination of Peter activities including twice-weekly park classtime, 4 Mondays of baseball, and a fortnight of daily swim lessons (both boys) has worked out well. Leo hasn't been too sad that Peter gets more organized activities. Next year he could do baseball if he seems readier. Everything stops in August and Dan will be back at work by mid-month so we might have to go on a lot of biking adventures then. I determined that on my birthday, Peter will be in school and Leo will have his first morning of preschool, so I'll get to have the morning to myself.