Here it is fresh off the press, my very first blog.
Let me tell you a little bit about us. Our name is not really Clampetts but we sort of resemble the Clampetts prior to them striking oil!
My name is Karla and my husband of 13 years’ name is Brian. We live on at the end of a narrow, dirt road, in a small village, in a small county in the small state of New Hampshire. I am just recently retired; hence the picture above with the huge corsage!
This blog will be about living off the grid completely and our trials and tribulations of every day living once retired and living in a small, rural area. It ain’t always easy! For example, the time I made a custard and the oven kept blinking at me and B was away on a business trip. Why was the oven blinking? Would the custard cook? Well, of course the oven was blinking, it wasn’t getting enough power! I did not have the appropriate inverter on! We have 2 inverters that converts DC (battery) current to AC (house) current. I obviously had a lot to learn. . .
One of the newest additions to our off the grid living and something that makes me very happy, and we hope will make life a little easier, is a propane generator and a new 500 gallon propane tank. Now the generator comes on automatically when our power begins to lessen. Since this is a new installation (and not a cheap one either I might add), it still needs tweaking; that would be B’s job. So far it is working well. Previously, we used a gasoline fed generator, and required some manual tweaking that was always difficult for me. I am not mechanically inclined and the generator required a lot of pulling and usually accompanied by some cussing to even start it. I am not good at jumping up and down while pulling the cord as well as B is!
We live a pretty ordinary life and if you were to visit, you would not necessarily even realize we are off the grid. However, we do have a few quirky things by today’s standards. We have a special small refrigerator that requires manual defrosting (yuck) and is deep but short, causing the food that gets pushed way back to freeze. Have you ever tried reviving frozen celery? It doesn’t work well. And our gas powered oven also requires manual cleaning (double yuck, as I cook a lot). However, my husband has every power tool known to man and uses them frequently. We have a regular washing machine, but I prefer to hang my clothes out to dry during the summer months, and I use wooden clothes racks in the winter set up near the wood stove to dry most of our clothes. Why not use the sun and the wood stove to dry one’s clothes??? We do own a dryer but it is at my in-law’s who live a mile from us and live on the grid.
I am also very interested in homesteading, for lack of a better word. I believe in eating local, either growing my own food or buying local food and meat. We have raised pigs in the past as well as ducks, chickens, and, if lucky, B brings home venison – in season, of course! I am fortunate to live in an area where I can easily buy any of these items, should I run low on my own food. By the way, we do have 2 freezers living off the grid. See? You would never know we do so.
I hope you like my new blog! Please feel free to make any comments you care to make. Well, only positive comments of course! Ha, ha.
Our fall weather keeps bouncing up and down. The sun finally appeared today after noon. Tonight we have frost warnings, so that means bringing in some houseplants. The weather is a bit like the week I’ve had.
Here it is Wednesday at 5:30. What a week! But there is more to come.
Monday I went to the town hall to help make the curry chicken and broccoli casserole. Luckily, two of the gals had already cooked and cubed the chicken breasts ahead of time. Anyway, the casseroles went together well. I drove home once to get better utensils. It is hard to anticipate what you will need. I was home for good by 1:00.
Then it was time to dive into the cook pot. It seems I had been asked to also make a 9×13 pan of apple crisp. Frankly, I can’t think of an easier dessert to make! Since I was peeling apples anyway, I also made an 8×8 pan of the same thing for us. There went a 1/2 peck of apples! They were good apples too. I tried using the last of a bag I had bought previously from a place that uses hardly any spray on their trees. What a difference! In the end, the chickens got those apples. It seemed that almost every apple I cut into there was a big black area in the center. The chickens didn’t mind.
Before I knew it, Tuesday rolled around. I was asked to help put the toppings on the casseroles and then we baked them in the two ovens we have in the town hall kitchen. Again, I was to be there after 9:30. Once the food was in the oven, we put tablecloths on the tables and cut the apple crisp, of which there were 5 of them, into squares. We had some extra volunteers that helped scoop out the crisps onto small plates. At the time of serving the dessert, we added a dollop of cream to each serving.
Since this was our first in-house meal since COVID began, we didn’t really know what to expect. In the end, we had 36 people in-house, and about 20 for take-out. It was a bit confusing for everyone, but hopefully it will get smoother as we go along. Several of the men volunteered to put the chairs back after the luncheon. I think their wives put a very big bug in their ear!
Anyway, we cleaned up the best we could and I was home with my share, and then some, of the casserole. I skipped the carrots and we didn’t need any of the dessert, so that was good, as there wasn’t a whole lot left.
I told B ahead of time that if he didn’t want to go to the luncheon, I would bring home food, but we would have it for supper. B ate a bowl of cereal for his breakfast/lunch. Boy, was I tired. I climbed into my recliner for a rest!. But after that, I felt much better and got a few small things done.
That moves us into Wednesday and the big D day for me. D as in dentist. I went early to Claremont stopping at Hannaford market to get milk and lettuce for Lucy. I also made another stop to stock up on bacon for the year. The specialty bacon had gone up a dollar a pound since I bought it last! I also picked up a kielbasa, as I have several soup recipes that recommend kielbasa.
By the time I was done with both stores, it was time to head to the dentist. The procedure seemed to take forever, but I was all done and still moving by 12:45 and home at 1:00 p.m. Freedom! I am still taking Tylenol, as my mouth is sore, but I know it will feel better every day.
Last night for supper I made corn chowder. It was gooood! I thought chowder would go down easy and didn’t require lots of chewing. B had the last of the casserole from Tuesday to go with his chowder. We also had the melon I bought at Edgewater Farm last week. It sort of got by me and was a bit soft. B ate what he could of it and I willingly volunteered to give my share to the critters. Here is a picture of the corn chowder.
Needless to say, the melon seeds and juice didn’t last long around my 6 hens. They gobbled that down with no issues. I am not sure poor Jet Blue got any of it. He isn’t as adept as my girls at grabbing food!
The turkeys received the leftover dregs of the slices of melon for their treat. Again, they went to town pecking at the melon and inner skin. There wasn’t much left when they got done.
Lucy and Grampie and the male duck aren’t great melon eaters and it was a good thing. By the way, I have noticed a change in the little male duck. I have finally named him Junior. He is like a clone of Grampie. Now Grampie is a large Black Swedish duck and Junior is a very small flying Mallard. But Junior sure does idolize Grampie. If Grampie takes a drink, so does Junior. If Grampie takes a nap (he takes a LOT of naps) so does Junior. He seems to be the idol to Junior. Hence, the name Junior.
I just wonder if instinct and nature will prevail and Junior will hit the skies once the ponds begin to ice over. Grampie will miss him. This transformation seems to have happened since the two females bailed. I really do not think he will stick around once winter comes. I will have a small crew this winter with just 6 hens, Jet Blue (although he may be gone too), Lucy, and Grampie. That is enough to take care of during the winter.
B just came in from doing more work on the deck. He is continuing to replace the nails that stick up with screws. The slightly protruding nail heads annoy the heck out of us when trying to scrape the deck during the winter. B really plans to treat the deck this fall, but we continue to wait for the winter squashes to turn orange. The job is many years overdue. I won’t be planting any more of those squashes again any time soon!
B has also been working on several other projects simultaneously. Last week, he pressure washed the trailer bed, so now this week he’s been priming the deck. He said the first coat took an entire gallon, while today’s second coat took less than half that, as well as half the time.
He’s also restoring a couple more wheelbarrows he got from the town dumpster. It amazes him that, first, people store these things out in the weather and, second, that they then throw them in the trash as soon as the handles deteriorate (from being left outside year-round!) or the tire doesn’t hold air. We now have an amazing quantity of wheelbarrows, but B can’t bear to see them get tossed in the dumpster. I am thinking of opening a wheelbarrow museum.
This morning I finished my grocery shopping at Market Basket and I stopped at the gas station on the way home. Prices of groceries continue to rise. Have you checked the price of butter lately??? Plus, I heard through the grapevine that there is a nationwide shortage of butter. With holiday cooking around the corner, I am trying to stock up on butter. Sometimes it just hits you more than other times at the change in the prices. Our treat is the little squares of Dove dark chocolate. For the longest time, the price of a 8.75 ounce bag was $3.79. They are now over $4 a bag. Usually, during the holidays beginning with Halloween, the price drops. I pity anyone who is buying Halloween candy for lots of kids this year. My mother used to plan on 100 kids coming to her door. It was pricey then, but really pricey now.
Well, that about does it for me. I did a load of towels after I got home this morning and they need to be pulled into the house. At 6:00 p.m. it is getting nippy out already. In fact, we may well have our first frost tonight so I have several plants that need to be covered or brought in and my valuable squash!
Today, Saturday, is a beautiful fall day. We have had continuous sun (yeah!) but with a breeze. Still, it is a lovely day, although now at 5:30, the sun is waning. I think the wind has died down some too. Last night I covered my outside plants, but we did not get a frost. So, what’s up with all the soup???
We just finished eating all the stuffed pepper soup, which caused me to think about what other soups we have eaten so far. I like to keep a running list so here goes. I also noticed, in my soup recipe file, that we started eating soup in August this year. That is a bit unusual. If I keep this up, we will be eating soup year-round!
Corn chowder. This happened because B had a tender mouth due to some oral surgery.
Sausage and greens soup.
Stuffed pepper soup.
The zucchini soup was more like a cream of zucchini soup. It was very good and helped use up some of the zucchini.
Speaking of zucchini, I still have one semi-large zucchini in the refrigerator and it needs to be used soon. Both to free up some space on the top shelf of the fridge and because it isn’t going to last forever. It was the last zucchini I picked from my vines.
I didn’t think we had many zucchini dishes, but when I started listing them, I found we had in excess of 10 different recipes. My goal this year was to try new (to me) zucchini recipes, besides some of the tried and true ones, and I guess I succeeded. The ones marked with the asterisk are the “new” recipes.
1. Zucchini Pizza Bites. We both like this recipe.
2. *Zucchini and Tomato Bisquick Pie. This was so good that I think we will end the season with it.
3. Tomato-Zucchini Scallop (2). This is an oldie but goody. It came from a Better Homes & Garden cookbook I won back in the 70s!
4. *Zucchini Fritters. These were good too. But I had to wring and wring them out to get them dry enough.
5. *Zucchini Casserole. This was odd, in that you mash the cooked zucchini, add cheese and other ingredients. We liked it!
6. Another Bisquick Zucchini recipe from my mother’s collection. This one includes a can of crab meat, along with cheese, Bisquick, etc. Another oldie but goody.
7. *Zucchini Pizza Casserole. This would have been much better if I had taken the time to really wring out the zucchini. B really liked it. The “crust” was the shredded and dry zucchini with a meat sauce and cheese on top.
8. Zucchini Brownies and One Minute Frosting. Another oldie and still very tasty. The brownies were really more like chocolate cake.
9. Pan fried Zucchini and Onions (made 2-3 times). I make this in a cast iron pan and usually on the grill.
10. *Zucchini soup.
So there you have our zucchini season. I don’t usually buy zucchini in the store, much like with asparagus once our season ends. My feeling is it has traveled way too far to get to my grocery store in great shape. Perhaps now more local growers grow it all year round in hoop houses. Frankly, I have eaten enough zucchini for one season! I really thought my plants didn’t produce many zucchini, but it was enough for us.
B has spent the late afternoon mowing some of our trails. Yesterday, Dr John and his younger son, Christian, (Ben is off to college this year) came by to help B with some projects. We all helped take down the popup canopy over the shooting bench. The cover developed a tear in it which grew and grew, so now B has to order a new one before next year.
The toilet made it upstairs without damage or any issues. I sure could not have helped; that thing was heavy. Even if we had opened the box I could not have carried the “light” part upstairs without a meltdown. I guess it pays to be a 14 year old boy!
They also got the side rails put back in place on the F350 truck. Again, that relieved me of the job. None of these things took much time nor caused any issues, but the more small jobs we get done now, the better prepared for winter we will be. Like B always says, getting ready for winter starts as soon as the previous one ends. And it is true.
I have a very heavy week coming up, so I may be incognito again for a week. Late Sunday afternoon is the village “hen party” for the hens in town, without the rooster or any chicks in tow. We all bring a potluck dish and share a meal. I am planning to make a tabouli salad tomorrow morning, as I have the bulgar wheat, mint, and parsley. A rare thing for me to have all the ingredients.
I was asked to gather at the town hall Monday morning and help make the chicken and broccoli casseroles for the senior luncheon on Tuesday. Then I get to come home and make a 9×13 pan of apple crisp for dessert on Tuesday. I plan to make us a small one, since I will be fixing one anyway.
Tuesday is the luncheon day and, as noted previously, it will be the first one back in the town hall in over 2 years. It will be interesting to see how many people choose to sit inside and how many continue to ask for take-out. I think it is a lot more work to have it inside, as we have to move tables and chairs around before and after.
Wednesday is the dentist day. So I figure by Thursday I will be “done in”. Plus at some point I need to get groceries. But I hope to blog one of the days next week. I try hard not to schedule a lot of things in the same week, but I didn’t plan to work two days on the luncheon. And I wanted to get to the dentist as quickly as I could.
So, there you have it. Have a good finish to your weekend.
We are having typical fall-like weather. Lots of rain this morning and early afternoon, but now at 3:00, the sun is out. The critters are much happier now!
We had a good, not great, summer here in Clampett-ville. Today, at least by the calendar, is the first day of fall 2022. We all know that the date on the calendar doesn’t mean the season changed that day, but I guess it is close enough. I think the critters knew it was coming way before I did. The auto door on the coop is closing around 7:00 p.m. By the time I get out there to make sure no one missed the bus, it is already dark.
My summer was cut short by being sick for a month in June. I was lucky on two counts. First, I had my garden planted. Secondly, I got over it and have no lasting side-effects. But it did cut the summer short. And the timing was way off, as we had just brought home the 3 ducks when I started to get sick. B helped to take care of them in the afternoons. Doing morning chores was a feat for me to achieve. Hence, I have a chair in the pen!
Speaking of ducks, several days ago the two female Mallards apparently took off for better digs. Hussies. They haven’t returned and may well not ever return. The male duck is in full plumage and is a handsome guy. He continues to hang around, but he could jump ship himself and leave at any time. Plus the little wild female “intruder” has up and left. I think she had a conversation with my two females and encouraged them to leave. Haha. Next spring I will buy 3 more females that are NOT flying Mallards!
But back to summer. B was lucky enough to get a good helper with the wood duty. James was a great help. Plus, cutting and pulling trees from our woods in the winter worked very well. We have a well stocked larder. In fact, here is a picture of our wood shed. I don’t think we will run out of wood this winter!
Then there was the dentist. B was at the dentist quite often this summer. However, he now has his new crown to the tune of $1300 and called the final fitting, “A non event.”
Next, it was my turn. Remember I broke off a chunk of an upper tooth? That meant another appointment which I went to Wednesday. Guess what? It seems that somehow an area of decay never got caught from my x-rays last fall, 2021. Hence, it caused my tooth to break off. Now, next Wednesday I am back in the dentist chair to have a rather large filling put in the tooth where the chunk fell off.
I am not looking forward to this at all! There is something about having my head down almost on the floor with my feet up in the air while one or two people work in my mouth that is less than appealing. Also, right now I am not supposed to chew on my right side plus I need to be careful about brushing/flossing until the issue is resolved. Grrr. However, it is what it is. B has had so much dental work over his lifetime that anything, even a root canal, is just routine for him.
We were successful this summer with our canning. I got a late start, but we ended up canning peaches, blueberry conserve, carrots, corn, tomatoes, ketchup and tomato soup. Not too bad for a late start! We have one more session to go, once the fresh cranberries hit the store. Or, we may use the three bags of frozen cranberries and make that much sooner. That is probably a better idea.
And then there were the fairs. We had a lot of fun attending our local village fair and then Tunbridge World’s Fair last week. However, the local fair season is over around here. The other two fairs we enjoy are too far away without staying over and you have to make arrangements a year ahead for that to happen. I guess we have eaten enough fair food for one year!
Let’s not forget the turkey or goober experience. As it turns out, this was a good year to raise my own turkeys. It seems the place I usually purchase one from is not raising turkeys this year.
Raising turkeys has been both a challenge and fun. Turkeys are very inquisitive, as in pecking at anything you bring into the pen area such as a red plastic shovel or the rivets on my rain jacket! They often will pull a tissue out of my pants pockets while I am working around them. They are not a bit afraid of us, and they like everyone. They love watching the other critters, and get quite animated when everyone gathers around me waiting for treats in the morning. The turkeys aren’t much for eating treats, except they LOVE watermelon and cantaloupe! They will even drink out of a “bowl” of watermelon rind. They don’t get really excited by cracked corn, however. I have shifted from a 7 lb. feeder to a 10 lb. feeder. I figure they are eating a pound of grain or more each, each day. All of a sudden, they are bulking up. I will miss their soft cooing and inquisitive little faces, but it has been a lot of work.
I call them my little “poop factories.” I am scooping poop twice every day in their pen. I never, ever envisioned myself “scooping poop” when I retired! But, it comes with the territory. I have learned a lot about raising turkeys. Next year I hope to add a pair of heritage turkeys to the flock. Long story and I haven’t quite figured it all out yet. More turkey stuff to come!
My grow box garden on the deck did okay this year. It seems the tomatoes came on like gangbusters and died out almost as quickly. Of course, the chipmunk factor helped. Today, B finally culled one chipmunk, then another shortly thereafter. I mean, enough is enough. We have had chipmunks galore around here this year. We’ve been reluctant to kill any more chipmunks, but B noticed a bit of nibbling on one of our precious squashes, so the two chipmunks, who’d been frequenting the deck increasingly brazenly, had to go.
B also thought of doing something we should have done as soon as we were done with the tomato plants; he cut the plants down and moved all the dregs of tomatoes and chipmunk-gnawed tomatoes off to a spot on a corner of the lawn. So we hope the chipmunks will finish eating up the old tomatoes there and will stay off our deck. Yes, there are still plenty of them here.
I think I will skip the canning of tomatoes next year. We have canned enough tomatoes for all my cooking needs plus tomato juice from last year to finish up, plus zesty salsa that needs to be eaten besides the soup and ketchup! I think I will just grow enough tomatoes for us to have as eating tomatoes and use the grow boxes to grow more peppers.
Speaking of peppers, I am in the process now of cutting up my sweet peppers, freezing them on a tray and then dividing the tray into several packages using the Food Saver and refreezing them for winter. Last year I didn’t need to buy a pepper all winter and spring! Tomorrow night we are having pizza with lots of peppers and onions on it for supper.
We did get to eat one cantaloupe I grew and it was mighty tasty! Three others didn’t make it so I will try that again. Right now we have 7 green winter squash ever so slowly turning orange. If the critters leave these alone, we will have some nice squash to freeze for the winter. Fingers crossed. Gardening here in New England is difficult and I am not the best gardener. I ended up buying lots of fresh veggies elsewhere. On the other hand, we had plenty of zucchini and cucumbers and tomatoes that all I had to do was walk out to the deck to pick. Not too shabby!
B also decided it was time to do a project that has been on his to-do list for 10-15 years or more. When our main deck was built, it was all put together with nails. Many of the nail heads stick up above the wood just enough to catch a snow shovel during winter, causing great annoyance and much cursing from B. Each winter, B says he MUST do something about them, but then, come summer, it gets forgotten. He’s been out there all afternoon, pulling nails and replacing them with screws. He said it’s ironic that many/most of them stick up enough to catch the shovel, but not enough to readily get onto with a tool to remove them. He also said the nails he’s removing are pretty rusty, so he’s replacing them with coated deck screws. He says there’s no point in trying to pound the nails in that last little bit instead, because they’ll just come right back up.
Another project that’s been on hold for many years, pressure washing and resealing the deck, is next. The problem is, especially with me using the deck for gardening, is that there’s only a tiny window between the time the stuff gets cleared off the deck and when it gets too cold and wet to do the job. So we are poised to make sure it gets done this year. A few years ago, B even bought a special tool to use to spray the waterproofing oil onto the deck, but we’ve yet to use it. We had tried a garden sprayer, but not enough pressure for the heavy Thompson’s Water Sealer, and we tried an airless paint sprayer, but too much pressure and it just vaporized the oil too much and put more oil into the air than onto the deck. So now B has this tool that supposedly is made for spraying oil onto concrete forms, and we theorize that it should handle the Thompson’s OK. At least we hope so, as the tool was expensive and B much prefers to spray, rather than brush, the oil on.
A couple weeks ago, B went out into the brush behind the barn to cut a sapling for a small post to keep the turkey pen roof from sagging. Out there, he found a bunch of stuff he’d stored there many years ago, at what was then the edge of the clearing and is now completely brushed over, with trees growing up all through it. One of the things stored out there was a heavy plastic bed liner for the F350 truck. B was determined to either use the bed liner or give it away or junk it, so he hauled it out and pressure washed it. I then helped him remove the side rails from the truck bed, and he’s been working on fitting it to the truck. Now, it’s all ready to go back together, so his friend John is coming over tomorrow to help put the bed rails back on. B and I removed them as one piece, so it’s not heavy, but it’s very large and flexy, and takes two people to move it without damaging it. I got worn out on the removal, so B says he will get someone else to hep put it back on.
Also in the “projects that have been on the to-do list for way too many years” department is the upstairs toilet. It’s one B bought in Canada when he was working there and when the government-mandated toilets here in the USA did not work at all. It worked better than the awful, useless USA models of that era (around 2000), but it does not work that well compared to the latest USA toilets. Now that manufacturers have figured out how to make toilets that meet the government mandates and actually work, a modern USA toilet is much better. For a long time, we have avoided pooping in the upstairs toilet because it clogs too easily. Lately we’ve become reluctant to pee in it either, because the valve for it sometimes does not shut off and keeps running. It also takes a very long time to refill, so after flushing it, we have to wait there for what seems like forever to make sure it shuts off and does not continue to run and waste water. We could just replace the valve parts, but replacing the whole toilet has been on B’s list for many years now.
So, a few days ago, B bought a new high-end toilet at Home Depot. It’s the American Standard Champion. B has installed a couple of them, including one in our downstairs bathroom, and we know from experience that they are great toilets. The manufacturer’s claim is that this model will flush a “bucket of golf balls”. We don’t plan on flushing many golf balls, but we know this toilet flushes very well and does not clog easily. It’s a low flush type, as all in USA are now, but we really are not all that concerned about extreme water conservation to the point of having toilets that don’t flush and sink and shower faucets that don’t flow well. It isn’t like this is the Southwest and it doesn’t rain much and our water gets pumped from lakes or rivers hundreds of miles away and then gets dumped into the ocean. We pump our water out of the ground on the south side of our house and it goes back into the ground on the north side. So we don’t waste water, but it isn’t like we are in a city or in Southern California, either. We’ve found that a toilet is not a place to cut corners to try to save a few dollars – always buy the very best, highest performance toilet you can find. B needs John to also help haul the big heavy box upstairs, and then B will install the toilet.
B’s “side” business continues to keep him busy. I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but he bought a fiber laser engraving system for part of it. So now he advertises engraving work. His first job was a huge, complicated one involving graphics that really stretched the limits of what he or his system could do. We’re hoping for simpler jobs for the future.
We have a new “Chompy” around here. A large porcupine had a baby here this spring. For awhile, we saw them together a lot. Over the summer, Mama seems to have disappeared, while baby has apparently taken up residence on and around the lawn. Back when we spent a lot of time and money buying and planting some very nice large apple trees, the porcupines ate and destroyed them all immediately. We were not at all happy about it, but we didn’t really want to go on a porcupine extermination crusade over it, either. So we installed an electric fence and planted new trees. Even 2-3 years later, those new trees are nothing like the really nice big ones we had. So we are hoping Chompy stays away from the trees. He wanders all over the lawn, chomping away at the grass and flowers.
That about sizes up our summer. Like I said, it was good. Now we march into fall!
Well, I have dishes to wash and Lucy is honking for her lettuce.
Summer days are about numbered as we roll into autumn. The weather has cooled off, although B is still wearing shorts. However, he was considering long pants this morning. And, what have the Clampetts been up to???
I can’t believe it. It is Monday again and, once again, only one blog last week. However, the major canning season is over for us, so I will have a bit more free time. It seems that canning twice a week took up a lot of time. So we took the day off Friday and went to the Tunbridge World’s Fair, in Tunbridge, Vermont.
This is a great fair; not too small and not too big, but just right! They were celebrating their 150th fair this year, despite a few years when the fair was closed – for the Spanish influenza, during WW I and II, and of course, during COVID.
When B and I were growing up, this fair was known as the “drunkard’s reunion”, and respectable people did NOT attend. Ha, ha. How things have changed. Anyway, the past few fair Presidents have really cleaned up the fair. There is still a beer hall, but no girlie shows and no more fights breaking out either. In fact, we didn’t see any police on the grounds.
But we did see animals, as in oxen, chickens, cows, horses, pigs, etc, etc. I found a knowledgeable person in the poultry barn and asked for tips to try to keep Jet Blue from constantly crowing. The guy gave us a few ideas like a squirt bottle and yelling right back at him. I tried the “shut up” a few times already to no avail. The guy also thought that he would eventually outgrow it, so we shall see. I hope B can hold his wits about himself until Jet Blue grows up!
We also watched an interesting ox team judging by a woman from Maine. The fair has lots of oxen and they were judged on such things as appearance compatibility, how well trained they were, etc. It was all very interesting. We missed the pig judging, which is always quite interesting, but we have seen that a couple of times.
Frankly, it was soooo nice to be away from home. B was not on his phone or laptop, and it was an opportunity for me to get away from the critters for a day. The weather was perfect; sunny, breezy, cool, and no showers. Perfect!
Speaking of oxen judging, B took a very good picture of it, so here goes.
And, of course, we ate! B started off with a hot sausage, onion and green pepper sandwich. I chose a chili dog and fries, as I have never had a chili dog. I won’t get another one either! It wasn’t bad, but not something I would crave. Next time I’ll stick to a corn dog. I like those.
The same people that were at the Cornish Fair selling Mexican (or plain) corn were at the Tunbridge Fair. We were looking forward to that. Here is a picture of the gal who fixes up your corn with all kinds of spices. This is the one stop B kept making at the Cornish Fair. Think it might be because of this cutie or the corn or both??? But anyway, the gal was game for having her picture taken. Of course, we each had to partake in the delicious corn. I managed to get the corn all over me!
Then we watched several harness racing events. Sadly, this is the last year of harness or sulky racing at Tunbridge World’s Fair. This racing has just lost its appeal and, at the most, there were only 4 drivers per race. It seemed to be mostly the same 4 people (or fewer) in each age class. B snapped these pictures.
There is one building designated for veggies/fruit, arts and crafts, etc. We took a few pictures to show you.
B took this picture of one of those giant pumpkins some people grow.
And, he took a picture of a dish full of different size luffas. It might be fun to raise these some year. Please note the blue ribbon!
I snapped this picture of B looking over the wall of sunflower heads. I skipped growing any sunflowers this year but, as you know, one plant came up on its own. Outside this building against one wall were dried whole sunflower plants. Had a guy not been sitting on the bench in front of them, I would have taken a picture. I think I’ll consider growing sunflowers again next year.
And finally, a picture of a maple burl bowl that I fell in love with. It was large but unfortunately, I have nothing to compare it to. B says it was about 16″ diameter. Anyway, we both liked this bowl. Note, another blue ribbon!
We ended the day with each of us indulging in Indian pudding with ice cream. I don’t know why I don’t make my own Indian pudding. Every year after I have a bowl at a fair, I swear to myself I will make it this winter. I really, really plan to make it this year!
So, that was our Friday. All the critters survived the fact that I wasn’t home to wait on them. We were home by 7:00 p.m. It was a great day.
As I alluded to above, we are done with the major canning for this year. My veggie plants, with the exception of my winter squash vine, are dried up and I can begin pulling out the plants. I have 7 nice butternut squashes turning ever so slowly from green to orange. But there is a hitch. A pair of chipmunks. I have left my tomato vines so they can have the tomatoes that are left. I did this so they might not start chewing on my winter squash. We’d rather not shoot them, but as soon as one bite appears in a squash, those two guys are history. It’s been a huge year for chipmunks. Long story and more to come in the next blog about gardening, etc.
Right now we are getting a bit of a thunderstorm and some rain, so I am signing off for today.
Tuesday and primary day in NH. Plus lots of showers and some real rain. And prepping for more canning. What’s up with the “wild” ducks???
Sunday brought us some cool weather and was just perfect for canning carrots! Sunday was also the first Sunday of the NFL football schedule for 2022. We got to watch parts of each of 3 games and one very exciting end of a game not showing on our local network.
It was do or die Sunday to get the half bushel of carrots canned before they started to get damp and limp. I must say, they are beautiful carrots. Edgewater Farm did a nice job of lobbing off the greens and washing them. B and I had a discussion about whether they really needed to be peeled. I said yes, as I think the “skin” makes the carrots tough and a bit bitter. B said a good scraping with a metal brush was all that was needed. In the end, I peeled and B, with the help of our mandolin, cut the carrots in rounds. I had previously held back roughly 3 lbs. for eating raw and for when you only need a carrot or two, like making coleslaw. I am hoping that, along with the small bundle I have in the refrigerator, that will get us through a big chunk of the winter.
Anyway, here’s a picture of the mound of peeled carrots.
Then B took a picture of yours truly holding the giant stainless steel bowl of the carrots, all cut and ready to can. I then proceeded to make a huge batch of the canning syrup consisting of brown sugar, orange juice and water. We both love our carrots in this syrup. Of course, I didn’t make enough at first and had to make another double batch. We had started with a quadruple batch. Even then, 3 jars had to be packed in plain hot water. In the end, we made 25 pints of carrots.
So, after all that, it was clean up time which stretched into Monday and even Tuesday. I still have the big canner to wash as some of the syrup leached out.
Monday was a nice day, and it was my day to go to the dentist for my quarterly cleaning. Because I don’t have dental insurance, I go more often for a cleaning, as I have tartar build up issues. Trust me, it is far better to pay for the extra cleaning so I don’t come out with a major headache!
However, a few weeks ago, something happened to one of my upper back teeth. Suddenly, my tongue wouldn’t stay off a rather sharp tooth. Yep. I broke off a sizable chunk of a tooth. So, I am back in the dental chair next Wednesday to see what the doc says should be done about it. I am hoping he can scrape it and leave it alone, but who knows. B offered to “file” the tooth for me, but I decided to pass on that. I could see all kinds of repercussions from it! I am letting the dentist take care of it. Of course, I may wish I had taken B up on his offer before I am done.
While at the dentist, I asked about B’s crown. The dentist was none too friendly about it, saying he told B the office would call when it was ready. Oddly enough, B got a call Monday afternoon that, lo and behold, the crown was ready. Hmm. Makes me wonder. Anyway, B will be in the dental chair tomorrow, Wednesday. Let’s hope this is his last visit.
Before all this was going on Monday, I was out in the critter pen and suddenly counted 4 new ducks; not 3. There was an extra female! I actually said to myself out loud, “Karla, you must have gone around the bend” but no, there was an extra female! She was acting like “family” and they were all jabbering away in duck-ese. Of course, once the stranger heard my voice, she took off flying. But not for long – before I knew it, she was back in the pen! And so, that is the way it has been. When I am in the pen, she gets panicky and flies off (not far). Once the “coast is clear”, back in she flies! I don’t know why, but this has caused much amusement on my part. The fact that a strange truly wild duck “just appears” and partakes of my critters’ food and clean water, just makes me laugh and laugh.
I warned B this could happen. When we realized we owned “flying Mallards”, anything was possible and it is all coming true. I still have visions of our 3 ducks flying south this fall and coming back in the spring, each with a family! So now we wait and see. Will the new wild hen get used to me and just accept me, as the other ones have done? Or will she bolt as the season begins anew??? Will our 3 ducks leave as the weather gets colder? We don’t know. It is all a big mystery. The fact that she is made to feel like family by the other ducks amazes me. With chickens, you cannot just plop down a new hen without major pecking issues, but ducks are different – way different.
To complicate matters more, we spotted yet another female duck in our pond this afternoon! Will she, too, become “family?” Will I be feeding 5 ducks instead of 3??? I went so far as to text the guy from whom we bought our 3 initial ducks to see if perhaps he was missing a female, as it isn’t far to fly from his house to ours. No. His were all accounted for. He chuckled and said I must have a “wild” duck. Wild, did he say? How much wilder could any duck be than the three he sold us???
I have a sink full of dishes to get to and dinner to prepare. We are having fried pork rice tonight. Last night I fixed homemade “shake and bake” pork chops, but I couldn’t finish mine. They were very tasty and B said the chops were extremely tasty and juicy. I am not sure what to serve tomorrow night once B is home with his newly rebuilt tooth.
Which leads me to our next canning project; tomato soup. This morning, I chopped onions, red peppers (sweet), celery, and carrots to add to the tomato soup recipe I am using from my Ball canning cookbook. If the tomatoes hold up, we will do this Thursday, but we may need to work on it tomorrow.
Frankly, I am about done with canning. We do want to try a cranberry conserve, but that will be it for the season. I am just waiting for fresh cranberries to appear in the market. Meanwhile, we are dealing with our tomatoes. It seems that my plants did really, really well and started off like gangbusters only to lose speed and appear to be under the weather. My vines are about dried up and what’s left of the tomatoes don’t look very good. Plus, we have had a couple of chipmunks up on our deck eating tomatoes. I wouldn’t mind except they take ONE bite of EACH tomato. GRRR. And my big fear is, they will soon start tasting the winter squash and my cantaloupe. Double GRRR. B gave me a pistol to keep by the door, loaded up with “rat shot”, but it hasn’t come to that yet.
Well, it is way past time for me to get going, so we will chat another time.
I really didn’t plan to take a week off from blogging. The week just got by me. We started with a couple of rainy days and then progressed to some nice, fall-like weather. Here goes.
Whew! What a week it was! Monday/Tuesday were rainy and showery. We needed the rain, but it was difficult to keep the goobers, turkeys, out of the rain. I had to give up at the end. However, I corralled them Monday night by picking each one up and setting them in the pen. They weren’t happy one bit, but I could not let them sleep outside with no shelter over them for a whole, wet night. They were wet and stinky, but I persevered and they stayed dry. Tuesday morning they were all looking through the screen and hopping around waiting for me to let them out. Relief at last!
Monday we made the first batch of ketchup. The longest part was cooking it down to the thickness we wanted without it scorching onto the pan. We did it, but it was 9:00 p.m. before the last 1/2 pint jar was out of the canner. We could water–bath it, which helped cut down on the time-frame.
The ketchup has a lovely flavor. I had to make up a bag with celery seed, one whole cinnamon stick, mustard seed and whole allspice seeds. And while it was cooking, I added onion and red pepper. Then I used my immersion blender to take out the chunks and that made it smooth. Yes, the tomato seeds were still in it, but that is okay with us. Anyway, we had just a little bit leftover that I refrigerated. We made seven half-pints.
Because I hadn’t hardly made a dent in the tomatoes and Tuesday’s weather report was calling for cool and showery, we went for a second batch of ketchup. Because I got started earlier, we were done by 7:00 p.m. We came out just a hair short, so in went the leftovers from the previous day. Perfect. Again, we made seven half-pint jars.
Here’s a picture of the process of cooking it down done in two stages.
And B took a picture of a jar after our second canning adventure. Once again, I did most of the prep and B worked on the canning aspect of the batches.
I needed a break Wednesday, so I went after groceries in the a.m. I was still tired! But I got home at a reasonable time. This was also the day to make stuffed peppers. If I don’t cook them in the slow cooker, I parboil the peppers, although the recipe doesn’t say either. I just don’t care for crunchy peppers. They came out just perfect, neither too mushy nor too crunchy. We ate them for 3 nights! We got our money’s worth out of them.
Thursday was my appointment for a haircut/pedi. Plus, we both had errands that needed getting done. I found myself going to Hannaford for lettuce for Lucy and something else. It seems Wednesday there was no iceberg lettuce at Market Basket. I elected to pass on stopping at Hannaford. It never pays to do that.
Besides that, B had a couple of errands for me, so after making 4 pit stops, I finally got home at 2:30. Way too late for me to do anything except vegetate, which I did! I also got a call from Edgewater Farm that my carrots were ready for pick up! I was way too tired to do that, so Friday I picked up carrots.
But great news on Thursday. The NFL football season officially began! We watched last year’s Super Bowl winners, Los Angeles Rams, get hammered on their home turf by the Buffalo Bills. Great game.
However, I had to make yet another trip to Claremont Friday morning as on Thursday I could not pick up B’s prescription at the pharmacy. It seems that our local CVS pharmacy closes down between 1:30 – 2:00. I got there at just 1:30. I also needed a big bag of cracked corn for the critters, so that meant going to Lambert’s Supply as well. Why make a 3rd trip if I don’t have to???
So I used the last of my CSA share at Edgewater Farm for this year. Once home, I decided the carrots could wait until Sunday to can. I needed to wash two canner loads of pint jars. Done.
One last note. One day, one of my two female ducks wasn’t feeling well. She was lethargic and slept most of the day. Yesterday she appeared more like her old self and today she seems fine. I am hoping whatever “it” was, it is gone for good, but that may be wishful thinking. I couldn’t find anything on the internet that fit her symptoms. The only thing I could think of was it is about time for them to begin laying eggs. Possibly she was exhibiting some strange laying issues. My bet is one day soon I am going to find a duck egg somewhere in the pen. I even had B go out and “duck walk” under the porch to see if he could find a duck egg. He didn’t find any duck eggs, but he did find two chicken eggs. Grrr. They got a good talking to from me about being so lazy!
I am leaving you with some pictures. The first is Lucy saying “hi” with the ducks in the background.
And a picture of 3 of the turkeys in their yard. They are growing although it seems slow to me.
And here is a picture of two big spider webs, shining with dew
Finally, a picture of a very large wasp nest against the west side of the coop. Thankfully, it is on that side we don’t often walk by. I didn’t spend much time taking the picture, for obvious reasons!
We have had two beautiful early September days. The temperatures have been delightful; in the 70s, sunshine, dry air, and a breeze. Who could ask for anything more! But moving on to corn and critters, so here goes.
Today is Saturday again and another week flew by. What did we accomplish? I don’t really know, but we had some good weather anyway.
Thursday we zoomed off to Manchester to pick up the “goods” B won at last weekend’s auction. I was warned that a certain someone got “a bit carried away.” So I was expecting a lot, but not quite the haul that went into the back of my car. Anyway, then we went to Moe Joe’s Restaurant for lunch. Neither of us were blown away with it, so we will try another place next time. If there is a next time! Ha, ha.
Friday was busy. Carrots from Edgewater Farm are still not ready to buy for canning. I guess the gal got sick of me calling, so this time she took my name and number. She assured me there will be plenty of carrots for canning. So I moved on to corn instead.
So, on my trip to Edgewater, I bought 3 dozen ears of corn, as Ali told me that a bushel of corn is 5 dozen or 60 ears, give or take. My plan was to keep out 6 ears for us to eat and then can 30 ears. My addled brain forgot all about the 6 ears, so all 36 ears went into canning creamed corn. I didn’t get started until 1:30 in the afternoon. Lucky for me, on Thursday afternoon I had washed a canner load of pint jars, 14, so they were washed and ready to go.
Friday was such a gorgeous day I sat out on the deck and husked 36 ears. Then I rinsed them and cut off the kernels into a very large stainless steel bowl. I do love having invested in 3 different sizes of stainless steel bowls. They were well worth the cost. We use them ALL the time. Anyway, B and I teamed up, so I did the initial cut, then B came along and re-did them, getting out as much juice or “milk” and pulp as he could squeeze out of the cobs.
Well, let me tell you folks, we had corn kernels everywhere. On us, in our hair, on the floor, counters, you name it! This was despite trying to be careful! Finally, we were ready to add boiling water to the corn in my biggest kettle, 12 qt. Then bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, we got the jars and lids heated up and the canner going. This time, we had to pressure can. Which means we didn’t need much water in the canner, but we had to pressure can for an hour and 25 minutes for each batch! B did the actual canning and I started cleaning up the kitchen.
Finally, finally, B got everything into the canner and got started on the 85 minutes of canning, which is followed by at least 3/4 hour of waiting for the pressure to go down enough to remove the cover. By then, it was dinner time and luckily, we had leftovers. By the time dinner was over, so was the first batch of creamed corn. It looked and smelled great.
We took a bit of a break and then started on the second batch. We got 11 more pints of creamed corn started on the second round. Mind you, I was only planning on one canner load total. But 36 ears came out to 25 pints. You just never know.
Meanwhile, before that, I washed another 12 jars just to be on the safe side. Plus, while B was working on the canning part, I was still cleaning up kernels of corn and washing dishes. I figure I washed dishes most of the late afternoon/evening. And it didn’t end there. Today I washed down the counters again and vac’ed and mopped the kitchen floor! It needed it anyway. At least now, I have a clean kitchen! For how long? Oh, about 30 minutes or so.
Anyway, by 11:00 p.m. we were done with the second batch of creamed corn. Here’s a picture B took while I was staggering around preparing for bed! It takes a long time to process corn.
So, this morning I thoroughly cleaned the kitchen again. B went to recycling, and he is outside somewhere working. I plan to make blueberry muffins and a zucchini casserole for dinner along with yet more leftovers. Thank goodness for leftovers.
Next up, I am going to try making tomato ketchup. We don’t use a lot of ketchup, partially because most of it has way too much salt in it for me, plus most all of it is made from high fructose corn syrup. At times I can purchase it without the corn syrup, but by making our own, we will not have overly salted ketchup nor corn syrup. And trust me, the tomatoes are stacking up! All or nothing!
Moving along to the critters, I’ve had a request for more pictures of the goobers, turkeys that is, but they are pretty elusive. I will try and get some pictures soon. Someone else asked what sort of noise they make. They sort of coo like a dove or my non-favorite bird, pigeon. They are very quiet (nothing like Jet Blue or Lucy or even the ducks) and very inquisitive. They’re very calm and mild-mannered, especially compared to the other birds. They’re not afraid of us at all. They are still pretty active. However, I noticed after starting them on turkey pellets, they began to bulk up. I think in hindsight I should have started them a week or two sooner on the pellets rather than crumbles. But being the frugal fanny that I am, I wanted to get my money’s worth out of the starter crumbles! However, I think the goobers will catch up to where they should be in weight soon enough.
The ducklings, which are now pretty much just ducks, are the ones that amuse and amaze me the most. It is just like watching a Three Stooges movie! When they hear water running in the a.m., it means clean water. And, they barely wait for me to stop running the hose before they start hopping into the 3 rubber tubs. There is much head bobbing and excited chatter going on! Then they hop into a tub, hop right out and then run back into the water.
I guess it is a good thing we kept the drake, Grampie the Lech, because despite his interest in young girls, he has taught them a few tricks. But the 3 younguns’ have taught him a few things too. The ducklings are not a bit afraid of running water, whereas Lucy and Grampie run from running water.
Are the ducks staying home??? Nope. One morning recently I went out and one female duck was on the wrong side of the pen door. The other two plus Lucy and Grampie were very concerned and so was she. I went and got out the treats so everyone was busy eating treats while I enticed the errant one into the pen using treats. Amazing what treats will do to entice an animal! Anyway, the reunion was so darn cute. The two other ducklings greeted her like she had been gone forever and she, too, was just as glad to see them. There was, again, lots of head bobbing and lots of loud chatter. Head bobbing for ducks means happiness, according to the internet. Personally, I think it has something to do with sex, but whatever. They sure were exhibiting lots of emotion at the reunion.
This afternoon, B and I filled a metal trash can with two more bags of turkey pellets. B could not do his usual shaking out the bag to get every single kernel out of it (because the can was so full), so he stepped outside to do it. We have to be careful to not leave even a single grain of food in the bags, so they will not attract mice to the pile of empty bags. So as soon as B started shaking out the bag outside, all 3 ducks panicked. One flew to the other side of the pen. Two of them flew away out of sight. This was after sunset, too, so not a lot of time left for them to come back before dark. The first time they flew over the fence and far away, we were in a tizzy about it, but now it’s just old hat. We know that they know where their food is and where their pals are, and that they will be back. Sure enough, by dark, both runaways had flown back into the pen.
Well, folks, I have blueberry muffins to make, plus a zucchini casserole, so I best get going. It was nice to have a clean kitchen for a short time. I hope you all are enjoying the Labor Day weekend.
Oh, and here is a picture of our outrageously delicious blueberry compote or conserve. Mighty yummy!
Our turkeys continue to grow. This picture is from a couple weeks ago.
But before I close, here is another picture of the sunflower that came up from one lonely seed from the wild bird feeder. Look what can happen! This flower makes me smile every time I look at it.
The weather is nice and then not so nice. Right now at 12:30, I have both upstairs doors open with a nice breeze. The humidity, however, is creeping upwards. So, what have the Clampetts been doing? Read on.
Time is going by so quickly. Thursday, we had our two-town senior luncheon at a local restaurant in Claremont. I wasn’t expecting much in the way of food, but it turned out great. The get-together went well and I can’t imagine there were any complaints.
September brings us back to cooking for our village senior luncheon again. I haven’t heard what the menu is yet. So, I will be busy Monday/Tuesday at the end of September. Plus, Audrey has decided to try reviving having the luncheon at the town hall and inside. I think she plans to also continue to offer take-out for those folks choosing not to sit inside. I personally think it will be a lot of extra work to do both an inside meal and take-out, but it really will be a “wait and see” event. I am sure we will be very busy either way.
Anyway, that about killed Thursday. Friday was the last of the summer seafood pick up in Plainfield. For our last summer hurrah, I ordered scallops and a one pound package of salmon for B. The salmon went in the freezer. Because I know B loves bacon wrapped scallops, I tried it for the first time ever. With half the one pound package of scallops, I wrapped bacon around them and grilled all the scallops. My recipe said to partially cook the bacon first, and that worked really well. We also had zucchini and string beans with the scallops.
I also stopped at Edgewater Farm on Friday and, besides getting some fresh veggies/fruit, I asked about purchasing carrots (half a bushel) for canning. I was told it would be a week or two before they are dug up, washed, tops removed, etc. So, that made me realize I should be canning corn soon.
Along those lines, I kept thinking about the blueberry conserve recipe I read about in my Ball Canning Cookbook. Sooo, I decided Saturday was the day. I washed up half pint jars, lids and rings and thawed out the appropriate blueberries. We had a huge bag of blueberries in the freezer from 2015 and they needed to get used pronto. Remember, I am on a “eat from the freezer” frenzy, so it was time. Plus, I added two small bags, about 3 cups each, from 2019. Sure enough, that was 2 quarts worth of berries. I doubled the conserve recipe. Now sometimes the canning cookbooks say not to double a recipe, but this one had no such notes.
Anyway, by the time I needed help, B was up and ready to help. We had to first cook the syrup and the oranges and lemons and raisins that went into the mixture. I was in a quandary, as the instructions said nothing about peeling or not peeling the oranges and lemons. We debated it awhile and, in the end, we left the peelings on. With the amount of sugar in the conserve, we figured the recipe meant to say “leave the peelings on” so I did. I was glad we did, too.
After getting that mixture to almost boil, then you add the blueberries which I had rinsed and measured properly. B was in charge of getting the mixture up to the “almost” jelling stage. Luckily, we have had lots of experience making jams, so we knew what to expect.
As B was stirring he said, “I don’t think you have nearly enough jars ready”, so I went downstairs and brought up six more jars, for a total of 14. We ended up using 13! He was right! Based on what the recipe said the yield would be, I had initially figured on 8 jars of conserve. Best to be prepared!
And I will tell you, it tastes outrageously delicious! You can actually taste the lemons, raisins, and blueberries. I didn’t really taste the oranges, but they were in it. We were so proud of ourselves when we finished. And it thickened properly. Fit for a king!
Toward the end of this week and over the weekend, I think we will be canning corn. Although, by the looks of the tomatoes, we may be canning more tomatoes too! That is the problem with this time of the year. We eat as much fresh veggies/fruit as we can pack in, and we also can as much as possible. Our New England growing season is so bloody short.
Saturday night’s dinner was leftovers, plus a zucchini/summer squash mixture with cheese and sprinkled with breadcrumbs. That too, was very tasty and we have leftovers from that. Sunday night, we ate tomato/cheese sandwiches with the tomatoes that are not good enough to can. We both loved our sandwiches! Plus, more green beans. See what I mean??? I feel like a stuffed pepper.
Today I am marinating a skirt steak I recently purchased (I got sick of digging stuff out of the freezer) and we will have fajitas along with our own red/green peppers and some local onions I bought. And, to start the week off right, Swiss chard. I am trying to get one bunch of greens into us each week.
Moving on to other things, the critters are doing well with one exception. Miss Dum-Dum is slowly dying. I do not know if she caught something from rooming with Little Girl or what, but she is exhibiting some of the same symptoms. I am asking B to cull her, as I do not think it is good to keep half-sick chickens around. My fear is she did catch something from the other hen and can only spread “it” more. But it is still very sad. Despite it all, I always liked Miss Dum-Dum, but in all fairness, she really was not the brightest hen in the world.
The little goobers, turkeys, are doing well. They aren’t so little any more, but still rather active for meat birds. They have certainly grown since I moved them from crumbles to pellets. In hindsight, I probably should have done it sooner, but being the frugal fanny that I am, I didn’t want any crumbles left over. Ha, ha.
So, that has been what we have been up to for the last few days. We live such an exciting life! I know you are all envious. That’s a joke.
The weather has been rather unsettled and then along comes a good day like today, Thursday, but more precipitation is expected. So, what to do??? See below.
Whew! Another week is almost over and it has been another busy one. Canning has commenced, as I noted in a previous blog. This week we canned 14 pints of seasoned tomatoes. I mixed up an Italian seasoning, and we added it to all but one jar. I made a double batch of the seasoning, but we ran short. That is fine, as I don’t always want to use seasoned tomatoes.
B helped again and he was a big help. We ended up prepping tomatoes together and then B took over and did the actual canning while I cleaned up. I watched B, as we needed to add one tablespoon of lemon juice to each jar. It is an easy thing to forget, so I was monitoring so that, between the two of us, we had less chance of forgetting. I didn’t see him miss adding any juice, so we were good to go. I didn’t weigh the tomatoes this time, but I guess I have a “good eye” for it because we ended up with exactly 14 pints, which is a canner load for us. There were two tablespoons of tomatoes left and I ate those. Anyway, it took us 3 hours to get this done.
Today I called Edgewater Farm to reserve about 20 lbs. of carrots. My carrots did nothing as in nada. We want to make some sweetened carrots, as we loved the ones we put up last year. That was a first, so we only did 7 jars. This year we plan to do a canner load of them. Anyway, I was told to call back in two weeks, as they have not yet begun to dig up carrots for canning orders. The gal also said 20 lbs would be about half a bushel. Sooo, that means we have some extra time on our hands. I think with some leftover frozen blueberries from years past, we are going to make a small canner load of blueberry conserve. It sounds really tasty with raisins and oranges and lemons added to a syrup. I’ll keep you posted.
We also will be canning a bushel of corn. That’s a lot of corn, folks! Last time, we did 3 canner loads of 14 each. I hope to make cream corn out of half the bushel. We shall see.
We have been on the hunt for more wide mouth lids. We ordered 72 from Amazon and picked up 8 more boxes today at the Runnings Store. I do not want to run out. Also, Runnings had plenty of wide mouth pint jars, so we picked up two more boxes of 12 jars each. We don’t want to run out of anything at canning time. Besides, since 2020, canning supplies have been lean and, in some cases, impossible to get. Hence, the extra supply. It would appear that the companies are now able to keep up with the demand.
Yesterday, I met my good friend Missy in Enfield, NH, and we walked another chunk of the Lebanon Rail Trail. Part of the route was around a large lake which made the walk even nicer. We had a great time chatting and walking. Missy figures we walked 4 miles, although it didn’t seem like that much at all. Not that I wasn’t tired by the time it ended, but I wasn’t crawling to the car either. The only damper was the high humidity. Some parts of the walk seemed fine and other times we were both perspiring.
During one part of the walk, we came upon some ledges that the old railroad had blasted through to put the line in. Here is a picture of these ledges. It must have been a job to break up all that ledge.
Of course, going out for lunch afterwards was a nice reward. Oh! One gripe I particularly had were the bicyclists. And I would say about half of the bikes were recumbents. I was surprised at that. I have a recumbent trike stored out in California. I guess I need to get it out the next time we go west.
Today was the two-town combined annual summer senior luncheon in a real restaurant. It was nice to see so many folks out, and the food was very good. We both enjoyed our outing. Of course, no trip to Claremont is complete without some errands and today was no exception. However, we were home by 3:30 and just in time to fix Lucy some lettuce. She won’t quiet down until she gets her afternoon treat.
And, finally, soup season has begun! I had a bunch of really nice Swiss chard and some pork sausage I’d thawed out, so I needed to try to create something with that. I found a “greens and sausage” soup recipe from Taste of Home that fit the bill. It was easy to put together and is very tasty with a can of Northern white beans, Swiss chard, sausage, tomatoes and chicken broth. It is what I consider a “hearty” soup and you don’t need much else to go with it for dinner.
Previous to that, I made a zucchini soup, which was pretty darn good, too. In that one I added 3 small, local potatoes to thicken it up. This soup was thicker than the above and there was turkey broth in it along with a little cream. I used half & half. We liked this one too.
So, there you have it. Soup, walking and canning. B has a new project. He took on the identification of a whole lot of townspeople in a group photo taken during the village’s 250th birthday back in 2013. He is having fun trying to identify everyone with the help of anyone in town interested in helping him. I would say he is about halfway there.
The weekend was dry, but the temperatures kept climbing. I think we reached almost 90 again. The turkeys were all breathing hard when I last went out to check on them. And, it is fair time in the village this weekend.
Here it is Sunday afternoon around 4:30 p.m. B is home from his third straight day at the local fair. He once again drove the “people mover”, but an earlier shift today than the previous two days. His shift was 10:00 – 2:00. He had to have a little help getting up this morning! I assume he was early enough to get an egg sandwich at the Grange booth. I elected to stay home today.
As I noted in my previous blog, by Sunday I have had enough fair, although I super-enjoy going, and my stomach has had enough fair food. You would think I would know enough to not eat so much but, alas, I do not seem to learn easily. Let’s back up a bit.
Friday was the first day of our 3-day fair. We went so early that not much was happening before noon. However, B was able to get an egg sandwich for his breakfast at the Grange Booth. Then we roamed around and checked out what we could. Horse pulling started Friday morning, so we got to watch the lion’s share of that. Plus eat. Actually, I didn’t do too badly on Friday. We each had a Corn Dog and some ice cream after B finished his egg sandwich!
Before B’s driving shift started, we did take in a snake show. You all know how much I love snakes, but the New Jersey Snake Man was so nice and pleasant, I decided to watch his show. It was well attended by little kids. I think I enjoyed watching them more than the snakes. Anyway, B sat up front and I chose to stand in the shade in the back. Here are some pictures B took. The kids, even little girls, were completely fearless about the snakes and were very enthusiastic about seeing them. They asked all kinds of good questions and all wanted to touch the snakes! Yikes!
And here is the New Jersey Snake Man showing off the largest snake in his collection! I would have backed up further but I was up against a fence!
Finally, it was 2:00 p.m. and B was due to start his 4 hour shift “moving people” from one of the parking lots (okay a field) to the fair and back again. Easy-peasy. Plus B scored the big tractor with air conditioning and a radio. Not bad!
I went home for a couple of hours to check on the critters. All were fine. It seems that B hardly slept at all Thursday night and I woke up around 5:30. When I got up around 6:30, like every morning, I looked out one of our large windows only to see a giant HAWK sitting on top of the pen gate! I pounded downstairs and yelled to B that a hawk was peering into the pen.
Anyway, we scared him off his perch and the nervy critter only went as far as the top of one of the dead trees in the pond. B fired off a couple of warning shots and I guess he didn’t like having his tail feathers ruffled by an unknown assailant. Needless to say, I was a bit unnerved by it all. All the while this was going on, Jet Blue was screaming his head off. I guess the hawk wasn’t too impressed by it all.
Once everyone was accounted for in the afternoon, and everyone had sufficient water and feed, I went back to the fair. I rode around for a while with B as he continued to load and unload passengers. Here are some random pictures I took while waiting for B’s shift to end.
In order to enter the fair, one walks through this wooden bridge. One of our neighbors, who used to have a cabinet shop, made this in the 1990s. It’s a miniature of the Cornish-Windsor covered bridge, about the longest covered bridge in the USA. It has become a tradition with the Cornish Fair.
This dumps you right smack into the Midway, by the way. There are two other entrances, but this one is where the “people movers” leave you off.
So, here I am in the Midway. I love seeing kids have fun. The first picture is Pharaoh’s Ride. The ride is a bit more dramatic looking in person, but it was the best I could do. By the way, as I was hanging around outside the ticket booth waiting for B, one little boy came up to the booth with his mother and announced after looking at this ride, “I would be scared to ride on that!” It was the cutest remark.
And who doesn’t love the swings???? Here are kids of all ages taking off on the swing.
And, alas, the end of the ride.
Then there are the flying berries that look like apples to me. I used to love this kind of ride. Only in the old days, it was cups and saucers. This is cool as it is enclosed.
By then, B’s shift had ended and we were free to go for dinner. We headed to the school cafeteria. The school is on the fairgrounds and the fair association uses the gymnasium and the cafeteria.
B and I don’t stray far from our routine! Every Friday night of the fair, we eat the lasagna dinner put on by the Masons. This is the same group who cook the breakfasts we regularly attend. Anyway, who wants to mess with tradition? Right???
Friday evening, we watched some more horse pulling and then called it a night. We looked for the apple crisp/Indian pudding booth, but they did not set up shop again this year at our fair (they also did not show up last year – maybe they went out of business in 2020). So, we came home.
I first checked the critters and again, everyone was accounted for, so I finished shutting up the pen for the night. We were both exhausted! Although a small fair, there is a fair amount of walking including up and down a few hills. I felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck, so I took some Tylenol. I think the “people mover” riding did me in, as I felt every bump that B did not feel being in a cushy tractor. Did I mention the cab was air conditioned??? While the temperature rose to the high 80s and the sun shone all day on the rest of us! Anyway, we BOTH were in bed by 10:30!!! Unheard of!
Saturday turned out to be the hottest day of the 3 days. The temperatures flirted with 90. It was hot on the fairgrounds. We didn’t get there as early on Friday. B needed a little help getting up, even after 12 hours of sleep. This gave me plenty of time to take care of the critters and water the grow boxes plus eat a little breakfast.
We were too late for B to get an egg sandwich at the Grange booth. But not too late for Mexican corn. One guy and his family make a killing by grilling corn on the cob and offering Mexican seasonings by his family. The young woman (well made up, I might add) fixed our corn to order. After reading the list of ingredients, we both chose the classic Mexican corn on the cob. I asked a few questions as she was adorning my corn. It sure was tasty! We went back later in the day to get more, but the line was HUGE, so we decided to try it later. B went back Saturday evening for more, but they had apparently sold out for the day. However, today, he made sure he got another ear of corn before he came home! I am not quite sure if it is the corn or the made up gal that intrigues him. Maybe both!
Across from the corn stand is the booth making and selling the Awesome Blossom onions, which happens to be my personal favorite. So, it was corn then a huge fried onion. By the way, the food prices, always outrageous at the fair, were insane this year. The onion set me back $10!!! Anyway, the onion was every bit as good as I anticipated, and we scarfed down the onion in record time!
Saturday, B was back in the saddle of the tractor, again, moving people to and fro. I was in the gymnasium from 2 – 4 sitting at the courtesy desk. The gymnasium is where all the crafts and photos and culinary goods are set up. B took a picture of this “Best of Show” cake for me. I thought it was pretty darn impressive. By the way, the theme for this year’s fair was apples.
Anyway, I helped answer questions and hand out vouchers to people who had won ribbons, etc. It was an easy shift, and I was glad to contribute a little something to the fair.
In a room next to the gymnasium was the local Garden Club exhibit. They also do a whale of a business selling raffle tickets. They had a really nice choice of locally donated gifts. I spent some time deciding which things I wanted my tickets to go to. We got 6 tickets for $5.00.
I also looked over the flower displays. And the one that caught my eye was this one. I know it only got a white ribbon and was considered by the judges to be “top heavy” . I just found it so beautiful and eye-catching. If I had been a judge, I would have awarded it a blue ribbon!
Another big draw in the gymnasium is the quilt display. Although not a large number of quilts, it does seem as though they increase annually both in size and skill. Here are a few samples.
And this was odd. The pattern is called “drunken pattern” and can be made to look a number of different ways. The first quilt below has a white background with lavender and purple designs. Oddly enough, two different women made the same quilt pattern using the same color scheme, only reversed. How odd is that???
And here is quilt number 2 with the reverse colors. See how different they look??? I understand this is a very difficult pattern to do which I guess is where the “drunken” comes in!
Finally, I am showcasing today’s veggie haul. Three red/green peppers and tomatoes. There is also a cucumber and an egg in the pile. I plan to start canning tomatoes this week.