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Summer Bounty

It occurred to me that it is October.  My last post was some time in June. It’s like I totally disappeared during the summer. I wanted to share our humble attempts at urban homesteading – because we work full time, have a child in High school and want people to know it is possible to live a little more sustain-ably without a lot more effort.

bounty

A gift basket we were able to give

My “real” job is Move Coordinator for large school construction projects, which entails me working mostly during summers and during school vacations. It’s cool, I am used to it now. However…when you have a ginormous garden, several types of farm animals and keep bees, blogging about all of it takes a backseat.

We had some awesome successes and of course we made a few mistakes, harvesting things too soon for fear of “losing” the crop – which in this case we missed an entire second season of green bean growing because we pulled our plants out when we were expecting the crop to run out but because of our extremely hot summer but there was an entire second growth of green beans!

Our biggest success this summer was in canning.  We canned tomatoes, cukes, green beans, peaches, pears, apples, grape jelly and on and on. And yes, we had to do it almost every day.  But it was a choice we made. My awesome husband is so great at his “stickwithedness”, he would stay up sometimes until midnight finishing up the pressure canning before he went to bed. This was our biggest “goal” for our harvest – putting food by.

Mid summer harvest

Our first week of canning was a success!

Another disappointment was in our rabbit harvest.  We raise meat rabbits, and our kindles were very small this year. One in July with just four kits surviving, and another in September with just one kit surviving.  This was a “build-up” year for us, establishing a good set of Does – ideally six – so we did not intend to harvest all of them anyway – but we discovered after some research that the male sperm count gets really low during extreme heat. So even though we gave them shady, breezy, cool areas it was incredibly hot this summer. Not great for sperm production I guess. You learn something new every year.  So we have two new does to add to the mix, Fanny and Bandita. We are up to four. When we have six we will only breed them twice a year so they don’t “burn out”. This staggered schedule lengthens their life and is a much gentler breeding schedule.  Ultimately we want to be producing about 40 lbs of rabbit meat per litter x 6, that’s 240 lbs of rabbit a year- the plan is to keep the freezer full.

Our sweet potatoes TOOK OFF this year – apparently they LOVE heat! We will harvest those soon, probably late October and are hoping for somewhere around 300 lbs of sweet potatoes.  We also planted a five Butternut squash plants, and then had a few ‘volunteer” plants, so as of today we have about 40 butternut squash, all seasoned well and will keep for the whole winter!  Oddly we only had one zucchini plant, and it only gave us 4 zucchini! And no pumpkins…not even a volunteer.

sweet potatoes

The sweet potato garden

Our fall crops are exceptional! Fennel, turnips, beets, rutabaga, Swiss chard and of course the kale is in it’s prime. Our herb garden flourished, with the exception of our Rosemary – which did not grow. Not. One. Bit.

honey

My personal favorite, spring clover honey.

We added three hives to our original two this year. Of those three, one survived and is super healthy! We extracted about 40 pounds of spring clover honey, and we will extract about 80 pounds of summer honey pretty soon.

Our laying hens are doing great! We added seven for a grand total of ten now and they are all laying the most beautiful rainbow of eggs every day.  My honey built them the grandest hen house this summer. Safe, winterized, easily cleanable and mobile!

Hen house

Dad is almost done with the coop for his girls!

eggs

Almost too pretty to eat…almost.

The asparagus and strawberries were wonderful. Our newly planted blueberries made it through the hot summer by the skin of their teeth – we shall see how they fare through the winter.

It is a daily love, like having another child that never grows up. But we love our little homestead – what I am even more grateful for is our children love our little farm.  Together we were able to participate in the restoration of our environment, our own health and be more in touch with the rhythm of the seasons.  It is truly a blessing! We could not do any of it without the pure grace of God. Truly, we depend on it.

Brunch!

Late summer brunch

We do it all so we can enjoy plates like this. Sauteed kale, Sweet potato hash, over medium eggs and sliced tomatoes. Yes please!

 

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