We are continuing to prepare for getting pigs this fall. My latest project was a pig waterer. This was made out of a barrel, two bulkhead fittings and two pig nipples, with some teflon tape thrown in. I am so thankful my husband showed me the right way to wind the teflon tape so when you screw it in, it does not just unravel. I still need to build the skids it will be sitting on so we can rotate it when we rotate the pigs to new pasture.
Tomatoes are still coming in, and since we already have 57 quarts of spaghetti sauce, 20 quarts of tomatoes with green chilies, and 15 quarts of ketchup, we have decided to dehydrate the rest. I did an experiment between dehydrating them in our Excalibur dehydrator and the greenhouse. The Excalibur took from 12 – 24 hours to dehydrate them (but uses electricity). The greenhouse took a day and a half (of course there is no heat during the night, but it uses no electricity). We sliced them thin with the food processor and laid them out in trays. I learned to be careful to turn the end pieces of the tomato up as I dried all of these Juliet tomatoes with the skins on. They taste like candy and I can’t wait to throw them in salads in the fall and spring when we have lettuce, but no tomatoes. One five gallon bucket ends up drying into two one gallon freezer bags, and I put them in the freezer to make sure no bugs could get in.
Okra is coming in steadily now and We already have about 13 gallon bags of cut up okra in the freezer. I just cut them up and put them in the bag with no blanching. When we are making fried okra, I just batter them while they are still frozen so they will hold their shape. Works great! We also use it for soups and a great okra tomato dish from a recipe a friend shared (Thanks Jeanne!)
A big project was getting the new barn extension stained so we could put in the windows and painting the trim. Done! Thank goodness. I got tired of ending every day with a bath with some vegetable oil in it that did a nice job of removing the stain from me. Why do I make such a mess when I do things? Must be half of the fun! My husband and I make such a great team. He is tall and I am not, so if I can’t reach something on my 6 foot ladder (my comfort zone), he pitches in and gets the rest. So glad to be married to a hard worker who is such a handy guy!
This is the time of year, as we harvest, that we are picking our best produce to save seeds. I am doing a much better job this year, as I have adopted the practice of using empty spice containers and labeling them with a picture of the item. I also learned to put the seeds with lots of stuff around them (pumpkin and watermelon seeds for example) in a large bowl and massage them out of their stuff. The seeds fall to the bottom and I scoop out the “stuff” with a tea strainer. Then I pour the seeds in water in a colander, and oila!, clean seeds for saving! Also, some fellow homesteaders taught me to dry them on wax paper. After I think they are dry, I put them in the spice containers and watch them for a few days. If you see a fog forming or water droplets, immediately dump them back out on wax paper and let them dry some more or mold will form. I also air out the containers during this time.
We are getting closer and closer to retirement and hopefully making a little money on the side with our freed up time. I am always looking for new things to add the possibility of income to our farm. This year I planted 30 bulbs of Crocus Sativus for the spice saffron which is very expensive. I am hoping it will multiply greatly in the next three years. I also used an old horse trough to plant some turmeric on one side and ginger on the other. In our zone, it is said that you can plant it outside as long as you mulch it in the fall. The horse trough will not only protect it from too much sun and the lawn mower, but give us a way to keep in the mulch.
Life is so good here on the farm! Always something interesting to do!