It’s been an okay year for my tomatoes – not great – but okay. We’ve had plenty of fresh Big Beef tomatoes for bacon/tomato sandwiches and enough Amish Paste tomatoes to can enough sauce to get us through the winter. But, with only a few tomatoes each day or so, it makes it hard to get enough at one time for a big batch of canning. The other day I stopped at the local farm for some fresh corn. Sitting there, right in front of the corn, calling my name – was a 30 pound box of tomatoes – for $3.50. I mean – you just can’t pass that up! I was so excited, I forgot to get the corn.
I hurried home, ran the tomatoes through my strainer contraption and simmered the juice for hours and hours. We ended up with 12 pints of tomato soup and ate one jar that night with grilled cheese sandwiches — because I couldn’t wait to try it. The others got canned for a cold winter’s night. I’m dreading winter – but I’m looking forward to more of that tomato soup.
We took a week of vacation and although we missed the farm and our furry and feathered friends and my gardens – sometimes you just need to get away. It was nice to come home – until we found we had squatters living in our house. Yes, they broke in while we were gone and took up residence. Yellow jackets had taken over our bedroom. Not just one or two – but a lot of dead ones on the window sills where they died in frustration trying to get out the windows, and several more flying frantically around looking for a way out. We do sometimes get the errant wasp that seems to come down from the attic, but I couldn’t figure out how this many yellow jackets were getting into the house. The next day there were more, and the day after – still more. We checked the windows – the screens all seemed tight. We checked the attic for a lot of buzzing – but it was quiet. I sat quietly and watched the fan vent in the bathroom waiting for a yellow jacket to make it’s entrance – but nothing happened. And then we went to bed. Just as I was dozing off – I got stung, THREE times – on my leg – under the covers. And it HURT!
It was WAR!
In the light of the day I started ripping apart the bedroom – and then I noticed – saw dust, and dead yellow jackets on the roof of the porch – just to the left of the window on my side of the bed. They definitely had a nest – but we have a stone house. Doesn’t one trump the other? You would think!
These nasty yellow jackets had burrowed into the wooden window sill, through two feet of wood and stone, and made an entrance into the bedroom behind my night stand. I put my ear against the window sill – and it was a-buzzin’!! After several doses of bug spray applied with one of those tiny wands into the entrance holes both in the bedroom and outside the window, all is quiet. Chris shoved some steel wool into the holes so there will be no more yellow jacket traffic in and out of our bedroom.
As for the pictures – when we were in the throes of trying to get rid of these things – I forgot to take pictures. I could show you a picture of my leg with a huge, red welt – but that’s not a good picture either.
It’s hard to believe that summer is winding down already. It’s been hot and/or rainy all summer which meant every time I thought we’d eat outside on the patio, it was too hot, too wet or both. But the weather has changed already. Days are shorter, there’s a cool breeze and this weekend was one of the rare opportunities to eat dinner outside. Not just for us – but for “the herd” too. Happy Labor Day!
We use our basement a lot. It’s not a typical basement. I can’t just go down the basement stairs into a nice, finished space. Instead I have to go outside, to the side of the house and unlock the exterior door that accesses the basement. It’s a bit dreary. It sometimes gets mice in the winter, and it definitely gets cobwebs and other creepy-crawly things.
But it stays fairly constant around 60-ish degrees which makes it a great choice for being my root cellar, wine cellar, cheese cave, and storage spot for all the canned goods from the garden and two freezers full of frozen meats and vegetables. It’s definitely an important part of our house – but it didn’t look like it.
I decided EVERYTHING needed to come out of the basement so we could really deep clean it, and then paint it. It looks so much brighter and I’ve reclaimed corners of the basement that I confess – I was a bit scared of what might be lurking in the shadows. Then we painted the floor with gray garage floor paint to keep the dust down.
And then we pulled out the shop vac. In the four weeks since we’ve painted the basement, we’ve sucked flood waters out of it three times. A gentle soaking rain is no problem – but an inch and a half in twenty minutes is more than the basement can manage. At least it sucks up easily off of the new painted floor, except for the few places where the rain has loosened the paint.
Hopefully we are now out of the rainy season (until next year) but I sure wish those people that built this house back in 1853 had thought to put in a French drain with a sump pump – or at least a hole for a sump pump so that when electricity and such mechanical devices were invented, we could have just plugged one in.
At the end of every day when I finally curl up on the couch to watch a few minutes of TV before I fall asleep, my eyesight is always drawn to the eyesore on the ceiling. We have a bit of a vaulted ceiling and over time, it has cracked where the drywall seam is. It’s a normal thing that happens but it looks ugly.
Now when I climb on the couch, I have a new view. We’ve had box-beams installed to cover the seams. It looks amazing. They are stained dark to match the beams in the kitchen and give a natural flow from one room to the next. I think it gives the room a more complete look and maybe even makes it feel cozy – not that we need cozy as it hits 100 degrees outside – but this winter, I’ll appreciate cozy even more.
We are finally starting to show some signs of warmth around here. The snow is melting, temperatures are flirting with the 40’s some days, and it’s almost time to start my garden!
The blanket of snow on the greenhouse roof was headed south, so I started seeds. It’s too cold in the greenhouse to give them a good start, so this year we are starting them on a germinating mat under a grow light in the basement. Things are starting to pop already. By the time they are ready to transplant to larger pots and harden off under some real sunlight – the greenhouse will have warmed up – I hope!
Another sure sign of spring are the blue hoses attached to two of our maple trees. They aren’t sugar maples, but they are maples – so that’s close enough. Last year we started too late and got about one cup of maple syrup by the time we boiled down all the sap. This year I may have jumped the gun, but so far I have three gallons of sap – and the whole month of March ahead of me. Maybe this year we’ll get two cups!
Things are a little topsy-turvy on the farm lately. My zinnias are THIS BIG.
And my eggs are THIS SMALL.
We’ve had so much rain this year that my plants just won’t stop growing! It must be helping the granddaughters grow too – because they won’t stop growing either!
And the eggs? We have six peeps that we got in the spring. We’ve nurtured them through their teenage years and now — they are turning into real hens. Their first attempts at laying eggs have been a bit meager, but I guess they will improve with maturity. An egg that is only 1.5 inches doesn’t quite compare to what we are used to. I’m not even sure how to use that in baking. Do two baby eggs equal one normal egg? Hopefully they will get their act together soon and start laying real eggs.