Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What a Crazy, Busy Summer it's Been

 Daughter's flower garden. 

It has been over one month since I posted on this blog because this summer has just been so full of other activities, I just never got around to it.  My professional job has been insanely busy with new grant projects, new employees, hiring more employees, conferences, and grant writing.  I just returned from a week long trip to California for the annual American Society for Horticultural Science conference.  That was fun, but now there is twice as much work to do at home as when I left.

The vegetable garden has been highly productive this year. We purchased a very large chest freezer (from craigslist) because we've already filled the upright freezer. We've frozen dozens and dozens of bags of yellow beans, green beans, broccoli, peppers, and corn.  There are lots of potatoes and onions in the cellar. Eggplants, peppers, yellow squash, and tomatoes are now in high gear and we are harvesting the first of the butternut squash.  Looks like we will have a cellar full of butternut squash and Seminole pumpkins this winter.  Looking forward to that because I have many wonderful recipes waiting for them.

So cooking has been a joy this summer.  I love to check out the day's harvest, which is usually waiting for me in the kitchen when I get home from work, and plan a meal around it.  Give me some fresh vegetables, garlic, cheese, and olive oil and a good dinner can be on the table in no time.  Add the herbs from the kitchen herb garden, and it's a little bit of heaven on earth.
Clean hens.

Last night when I closed up the coop and did a last check for eggs, I noticed that a few of the hens had "dirty bottoms" and I was concerned that they might have lice, worms, or some other malady.  So early this evening we set up our little hen cleaning station and one by one we took each hen out of the coop, closely inspected her top to bottom, set her in a tub of warm water, and cleaned her up a bit.  Everyone looked good.  Don't know why some of them had such messy bottoms; maybe too much squash or something.  But they all look healthy.  One appeared to have a bit of a sour crop so I massaged it, drained it and will put some apple cider vinegar in their drinking water tomorrow.  I also took the opportunity to clean their nests, inspect the roosts, and dust everything with some diatomaceous earth.  I fed them some bread to thank them for their cooperation and now they are all settled back in for the evening.

 Hagar, the world's greatest donkey (in my opinion)

The equines are doing just fine, too.  The other day someone left the feed room door unlatched in the barn.  We assume it was the donkey who got the door open and that both the horse and the donkey knocked over all the feed cans and worked their way into the bucket of horse cookies.  I swear the donkey checks every gate and latch several times each day.  He's a smart little guy and together they are quite a comedic pair!

  A freshly clipped horse.

The horse is a senior citizen and like many horses his age, he has Cushing's disease.  We treat him for it and he seems to be doing quite well except that he grows a very thick coat that he never really sheds out.  We have had unseasonably hot temperatures this summer and he was always sweaty and miserable, even with the fan in the barn.  So we splurged on a really good pair of clippers and trimmed off the heavy coat.  Suddenly we had a slim, trim, black Tennessee Walker again!  He was quite proud of his new appearance and made sure the lady horses in the nearby field took notice.  Guess that trimming will just have to become SOP with him.

I don't have any new pictures of the feeder calves or the foster goats working the area next to our pasture. I'll try to get those posted later this week.  But the calves are getting used to my husband and come when he whistles (expecting a little sweet feed, of course).  We are amazed at how much more water they drink than the horse and donkey and had to invest in a larger water trough for them so we could be sure they wouldn't run out during these long, hot summer days.

  Sunset in Palm Desert, California.

I'll close with a picture of the palm trees at the resort in Palm Desert where I spent last week.  I went for a long walk every evening when it cooled down to 100 degrees or so.  Beautiful place to visit, but I'll take western North Carolina over that any day of the week!

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