May 23 noted we’d planted the veg garden early because of the warm year. IT worked, sort of. It has become a 3-4 hour a week serious hard task to keep trimming back the mammoth tomato plants that “STILL” think it’s spring and continue to grow stems/branches…. at 7′, they began to topple, so I’ve pruned EVERY week like no other year I’ve ever grown anything here…..tiresome. JUST THIS past week, the weather seems to be struggling to move into high summer…..lots of green tomatoes, and finally, a “few’ ripening…….. we’ve EATEN a few….they still taste “early”….but on Jul 28-29, we had our FIRST 90 day since June 3……frustrating for growing tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, etc. the forecast isn’t even so good…..just -2- 90 degree days, and it’s dropping back into the 70’s….
I SO remember the one year maybe 10-12 years ago, we called the “Green Tomato Summer”….we hardly had anything ripen….
The corn? We grew short early corn to see if we “would” get a harvest earlier and enjoy an early fresh corn crop…..they tassled, grew baby ears, but have NEVER filled out…. we even pollinated by hand….cutting the dry tassles off, and sprinkling over the ears…..I BARELY opened one this morning….it IS yellow inside, but completely skinny. Sigh.
The hot peppers? The whole crop has barely even bloomed to begin making the peppers themselves…. hm…..
What HAVE we gotten? a HUGE harvest of wonderful tasting potatoes…..fingerlings, small whites, and even 4 hugs bakers….SO FAR….we’ve cut into about 1/3 of the crop is all…..we’re set for this one crop. Yea, you know, the things that cost about 5 cents each in the store. BUT…..FRESH potatoes ARE markedly better than those out of a root cellar. AND…..had lettuce….more than we were able to use….. lots of rhubarb, and the HERB plants…all cut at least once so far and dried for winter.
THEN…….what ELSE has happened? Whew…..this is sad….May 23 was 2 months ago……
**May! The fabulous EVENING GROSBEAKS arrived and stayed through one raising of chicks…..didn’t even SPLIT the flock up….that was a little costly on sunflower seed, but NO, wouldn’t have changed that at all…..beautiful fabulous happy “whistlers in the morning” joyful birds….. the *downside* was that the big clumsy awkward clownish band-tailed pigeons also arrived ….in ONE feeding they upset feeders, spilling seed …wasting our efforts to keep the true migrating Evening and Blackheaded Grosbeaks here…seems I am alone in not liking them here…. I DID learn fast though, I can’t go scare away the pigeons….everybody else leaves too…. duh.
**The Blackheaded Grosbeaks arrived 3 weeks later, and as always, spent the mating/raising season with us….I LOVE these birds too…esp. early after their arrival for about 3-4 weeks, the males BEGIN each day at the tallest of the tall first they can find and sing long melodious beautiful smooth calls to attract mates….morning walks are GREAT while they’re here.
**The Rufus Hummingbirds….seemed to arrive all at once……and while they were here, NO question, the food volume was measuring 2 quarts a DAY getting absorbed by these tiny birds, there were THAT many….. with our weird temp summer, time has gone by so fast, it seemed they were only here a short time….usually the males leave first (and they did), but the females stay to finish raising the chicks…..seems they ALL left at once…..with only the native Anna birds here now, they’re only taking in .4 quarts a day…..that wonderful time the Rufus are here is SO short….. sigh.
**May 27….took Mac for a swim out on Sauvie Island with the intent to get strawberries on the return…. Whaddya know! the Oregon Hunting Retriever Club was holding field trails right where we swim Mac. Do NOT think you wouldn’t LOVE watching these astounding dogs taking off after game, stopping on a dime when they here certain whistle calls….other whistle calls to head a different direction, etc etc….an if you don’t think that word “Retriever” means just what it says, all you have to watch are these dogs at “work”….and the pure JOY they obviously exude when they return with the duck for the master. THAT was a MEMORABLE couple hours!!!!
**May 31….. Lucked out again! Fun neighbor Aaron came home to tell us he knew of some trees that had been cut down….with no takers yet for it as firewood…… YES….we spent some time fetching wood that weekend……then an hour or two ev couple days using aaron’s splitter to get it broken up, and then moved, stacked…..FIRST, we moved the year old wood from the outside stacks into the woodshed to ensure “DRY” wood for this winter….then replaced that spot with the new green wood….where it can sit out all winter and get “seasoned”….. BOY….just how the pioneers cut, split, moved, stacked wood enough to keep themselves warm for EVERY winter (BY HAND)…..is beyond me…. In fact, NOW with the splitter, it all becomes some kind of fun exercise since there’s NO pressure to have it done right NOW…..it’s a job we both love.
**and on to the “squirrel” pal…… they’ve always remained fearful and distant of us….but this June, ONE native Douglas Squirrel in an effort to “beat the others to the food”, I’m sure, began hanging right on the tree BY the feeder when I came out…..and finally jumped onTO the feeder as soon as I dropped seed…then he began to just sit there while I could stand right by him and talk to him….so get got used to me. I THOUGHT….well isn’t THIS cool…… No…. this is a mistake….the next thing you know, if there was no food out there, he came looking for it in the garage, and with his powerful scent talent, KNEW which plastic bins it was in. He immediately began to chew THROUGH these bins……… destroying one entirely…. the remedy became buying metal cans for the birdseed….. and not making pals out of the tough little Douglas Squirrels….even though, I sure think they’re pretty cute. **They even chewed up one of the deck chairs padding, I have NO idea why.
**WHEW SUMMER>……HOW DO I FORGET that there IS no spare time in summer…. between garden work, house mainenance, laundry, yard work, flower beds, dog time, weeding weeding weeding……..that’s pretty much it. But when your days here in the rain forest dry out and float around about at 75 degrees….. you don’t complain.
**COYOTES….. I’m SURE there’s a little family that occasionally dens just below us…..they have a regular path up to our bird feeding spot….and occasionally can be seen out there looking for a bird or squirrel that might have given up the ghost…. NOT so good if MAC scents them out first…. but they’re fun to see
**ONCE in a rare while, I don’t get the deer fence up soon enough…I SURE DID THIS year EXCEPT….hadn’t put up the front side so I could keep getting there easier ….yep, waited a bit too long….they destroyed 8 pepper plants and all the lettuce. DANG…..Mark….. how many times do you have to “learn” this lesson? Hah.
JAM n BEANS!
**June 17- ONE flat only of Cascade Delight Raspberries got jammed….so we only have 18 half pints…instead of our usual 36…. how come? …..seems after this long, our taste has been moving over to find APRICOT Jam as our favorite……how do I know?
**July 22….got a huge 28 lb case of ROYAL BLENHEIM Apricots at Pumpkin Patch…..spent a BUSY warm afternoon making 41 jars of this jam………. hopefully, it’ll be “good”….we’ve used Pomona Pectin for this……LOW SUGAR……an experiment…..we’ll soon see.
**July 17 . . . .got a big box of Green Beans at the Pmpkn Patch…..another very busy day cleaning, trimming, packing, sealing 30 pints of beans into a Pickling Brine….. YES….this just may one of the most requested little things we make…..Dilled Green Beans. SO glad to have THAT task over.
**JULY end, or 1st week August? **MUST GET flat of Triple Crown Blackberries from West Union Gardens…..there is always a certain demand that we have a few jars of blackberry jam…. so it’s THAT time now.
*******AUGUST 7: I’m not even sure how many years we’ve been going this now, but Aug 7 this year is the weekend of the Ray Cousins Pickling Weekend where we once again make my Grandmother Ray’s famous Dill Pickles……..not even sure if it’s still hers, we’re using mostly Habanero or the remainder jars with Serrano peppers put in there…. BUT…..all I know is that every year, a few MORE habanero jars are made…… it’s always a memorable day when this happens.
*******SOMETIME in AUGUST…..neighbor AARON will be going Tuna Fishing….looks like ANOTHER busy weekend for us when he returns since he shares most of that tuna with us….and we CAN it…. NO commercial tuna ever can taste as clean and fresh s home-canned…..it’s a simple recipe: FRESH TUNA filets stuffed into half-pint Jars….period. Pressure Canned for 90 minutes….and there you’re done. the only liquid is whatever the tuna had in it…..yum.
SO…..YES….it’s high summer! Good Times.
Good times also have included making 2-3 batches of Ben & Jerry’s famous fresh raspberry ice cream. Yum….. harvesting an drying: Rosemary, oregano, thyme, parsley, bay leaf…..not to mention having fresh celery out there at the ready.