Our life living off the land in our log cabin, breathing fresh mountain air, and getting back to basics.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Garden Love

The garden has been growing beautifully (most of it anyway) and I thought I'd share some garden love today. 

We have 4 types of beans growing, Blue Lake pole & bush, and then thanks to Tipper at Blind Pig and the Acorn we are testing Greasy Cut short pole beans and an heirloom Strike Snap bush bean (more about those two in another post).  Today I discovered that we have our very first bean (I didn't even realize it until I put this picture of what I thought was going to show you bean flowers and voila! a Blue Lake pole bean)!

The squash is also growing very well, especially the seeds planted in the new area of the garden (it didn't get any of our winter TLC or horse manure) but we used our compost to plant with. The squash in that section has many flower buds, and though the row in the older section of the garden are doing well, they are not nearly as big nor with as many flower buds. 

Funny thing, because we used compost we also have some surprises sprouting.  I'm not sure what this is, we think it may be cantaloupe...
 ...and we also have tomatoes sprouting, which is a good thing because the tomato seed and small plants we planted are struggling a bit.
This is the newer section with squash, and the watermelon is also doing well but slower growing (this is the area I mentioned that didn't get the TLC).  I also ran out of branches to mulch and this section needs some weeding, but it is actually doing quite well.

The 3 pictures below are from the older section of the garden...the first one is squash, lettuce (doing OK, only a few have actually grown well, but we have lettuce!) and the 2 types of beans I got from Tipper, which are doing well.  To the right of the beans are spinach and broccoli, each only having one or two sprouts and are struggling to grow...didn't have success with either of those last year either!
Here you can see the corn which is doing well, the pole beans nearest to you and the bush beans, and in between them is the tomatoes, which as I said, are struggling.  Behind the tomatoes and beans is our corn, which is doing quite well.
Our turnips, rutabaga and beats are doing pretty well, radishes not so well, and potatoes (closest to you in the photo) are also doing well.  I've also planted our True Potato Fruit Seeds and am waiting to transplant them, but we have 2 potato plants that sprouted from what we believe are seeds left in the ground from last year.  

All in all, we are happy with our progress.  To keep things moving in the right direction, we spent time weeding and building rustic bean poles and the typical tomato stakes.  We made the bean poles out of sticks and twine, (a little difficult to see here)...the beans need something to send their runners on to. 
This is how the runners will embrace the twine and keep the beans from laying on the ground. 

It's been good to get back into the garden, it's been almost 3 weeks since I've actually worked in the soil!  I am amazed and how much everything has grown in that short time (fortunately mother nature has been cooperative with a good combination of rain and sun) and I really enjoy this stage when everything is beginning to flower...feels like success!  Do you have a garden and if so, how is it growing?  I know lots of my Florida friends have already been enjoying the fruits of their labor!

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Storm Rolls In & Out

I love an early evening storm...it was especially nice yesterday as I sat rocking and looking out over the mountains relaxing after my long day's travel.  Many people can smell the rain coming, sometimes I can, but I can feel it in the air before I can smell it...I was excited when I got that feeling, and as soon as I smelled it I know I'd be in for a treat...then I could hear the thunder rolling in the distance...a perfect way to end the day!

The rain was just beginning to move over the mountains (heading NE)...

...it poured for a bit, obscuring the view completely, leaving only a grey sheet of wetness while the thunder stayed in the distance.  It only rained for about 15 minutes as the clouds continued on their NE path...I enjoyed watching it pass and then the remaining moisture fill the air with new clouds.  I've mentioned before that we are in a temperate rain forest and with all the rain we've had this year, it's been really interesting to see nature working...it rains, the rain clouds move away, then the moisture and days heat create new clouds over the mountain valleys.

As the sun began to shine again, I noticed this leaf that glowed like a flying saucer.  If you look closely, you'll see some faint vertical lines in the photo too...those are rain drops falling from the trees that are catching the sun...pretty cool.

About 30 minutes after the rain passed, the sky was clearing with little clouds developing...fascinating and peaceful to watch.

Yesterday I mentioned my hydrangea were blooming...

...as were the lily's, so I thought I'd share. 

Nothing like having some time away, but today was back to work.  We spent much of today chopping (Johny) and stacking (me) wood...we started with this...
(note the shelves farthest to the left, those are the ones I worked on filling today)...
...and ended with this (see the round pieces on the ground?...more about them below)...
 ...not bad for a days work!

The round pieces are going to be stepping stones to the stairs that lead down to the wood racks and basement (he stumps on the gravel will be sliced for more stepping stones, it will be really cool)...another fun project!

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Friday, June 28, 2013

Home Sweet Home

Here I am, back at the cabin!  I'm glad to be back, it's cooler here (everything is relative...Johny is finding it warm today and for me just returning from the river it seems cool and dry) and so much has changed in just the few short days I've been gone...the garden has grown, my hydrangea and lily's have bloomed, there are lots of butterflies everywhere to name just a few...more about all that tomorrow. 
For now, I'm going to relax a little, breath in this fresh mountain air and swing on my porch swing while I stare into the woods and the mountains...I feel like I need a vacation from my (well, Jessi & Liam's) vacation, LOL!

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Random River Thoughts

It's my last day on the river...early morning tomorrow I head out...back to the cabin (woo hoo).  I'm excited to return, but have relished every moment I've had here.  I've got a few random pics from the past few days to share with you...

Tuesday's sunrise...
...and the early morning waning gibbous moon (92% full).  These pictures were taken one after the other...both the sunrise and the moon were bright at the same time.

 I love the river birds early morning...a Heron having breakfast (not as dramatic as my Heron's breakfast shots)...

Egrets on the morning hunt...

A Cormorant drying his wings...

You can see the Egret here, but I really like the hole in the tree trunk that I inadvertently captured...

A couple ducks, which may not seem unusual, but I'm not seeing many of them around this trip...

And this morning's sunrise...there was a big thunder and lightning storm in the distance, but no matter how I tried, I couldn't capture a picture of it...

It's been a great trip, the best part being the vacation portion with Liam & Jessi.  Tomorrow I will be back at the cabin ready to get back to my garden (can't wait to see what it looks like) and other cabin chores.  BTW, I didn't see Meesy this morning and she didn't come when I called...I suppose she is happy exactly where she is.  I hope I see her again.

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Lost, Found & Lost Again

About 2 years ago, we lost our sweet cat Meesy.  Johny's mom used to feed and love this outside cat at their home until she (his mom) passed away at which time his dad continued to feed Meesy until he (his dad) passed away.  We then took Meesy home with us, and though she was predominantly an outside cat, she also came indoors for a little inside reprieve and cuddling time for us.

Prior to Meesy, we had our dog Pogo and decided on no cats.  I am allergic to cats, and Johny had had some bad experiences with cats spraying furniture and such.  But when Meesy came home with us, we both fell in love with her.  Then one day, after she became a beloved member of our family/household, she never came home.  We searched and searched, placed ads, went to meet with people who thought they saw her, but to no avail.

It didn't take long before we decided to adopt another kitten, and Fluffy entered our lives.  I've written about her many times...we love Fluffy, and she is predominantly an inside cat except for her stalking excursions:)

This morning as I walked along the river, I was shocked to see a cat that looked just like Meesy.  I told myself not to be too excited (I know there is a family on the river who has a cat that looks very similar to Meesy, in fact, when we first lost her, I thought their cat was our cat) that this might not be her.  But I had my camera, so I snapped away.  I called her name, and at first she seemed unfriendly, but then she began mewing after I called her name.
I tried to approach her, but she ran into the property of the fenced-in half constructed house that was abandoned years ago when the homeowner was arrested for embezzlement (a story for another time).

I then hurried home to compare pictures from today and the past...and it is indeed Meesy.  I know it because her eyes have little spots on the lids, and when I zoom in, the same spots exist.  I then filled a bowl of water and got some cat food and drove back to the place I saw her.  I called her name and walked around, but she did not return.

When I spoke with Johny, while we were both thrilled to know she was still alive and seeming to do well, we discussed the possibility of my trying to bring her up to the cabin.  But then we determined that, unless she comes running to me and willingly comes with me, it will be very difficult to capture her.  And because she is used to (and surviving in) river life, a move to living outdoors in the mountains might be the death of her (we do, after all, have fox and coyote).

I've gone back to the sight I spotted her again, calling her name and with food and water, but with no success.  I will try again tomorrow morning about the same time I spotted her today...  I can't decide which emotion feels stronger to me...the deep sadness of loosing her yet again, or excitement with the fact that she is alive and prospering in the wild.  In the end, nature is making the decision as to her future, because I can only bring her with me if I find her again and she decides to follow me...and I'm just not sure that's the right thing to do. 

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Heron's Breafast Along The River

This morning after watching the sun rise, I took my usual walk along the river.  I came across this heron having breakfast...it was fascinating to watch and the entire process took less than 1 minute.

I first saw some commotion in the grass and watched as this heron came up with his prize (I believe its a male because of his dewlap, though I didn't see it until I put my USB card into my computer)...
...he walked around a bit while shaking his head to reposition the lizard...
...and then swallowed...

...he seemed to struggle a bit...big lizard, not so big bird...
...but he finally succeeded and was once again immediately on the hunt.

I hope these photos are not disturbing to anyone, though a little graphic.  Photographing nature is something I really enjoy, and every now and again, I am in exactly the right place at the right time and capture something like this...I had to share! 

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Monday, June 24, 2013

Making Scrupmtious Strawberry Jam

There is something scrumptious about homemade jam...so delectable and made with love!  This batch is especially sweet because Jessi, Liam and I made it together (click on this link to read more about it), but I didn't give you the recipe and this jam recipe is just too good not to share:)

LJ&L's Scrumptious Strawberry Jam  
(that would be Lise, Jessi & Liam's Scrumptious Strawberry Jam)


16 cups of fresh, cleaned, hulled and cut, strawberries, macerated (picked the same day is best)
6 cups granulated organic sugar
8 tablespoons powdered pectin
1/2 cup lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon


Macerate the strawberries by combining the strawberries and 2 cups of the sugar in a glass bowl. 


Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 30 minutes until the sugar begins to draw the liquid out of the berries, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

The next day, begin by sterilizing your jars in boiling water for at least 5 minutes. Leave them in the water until just before you are ready to use them (this will keep them warm and prevent the jars from breaking when you put the boiling jam into them).

Combine the macerated berries, the remaining 4 cups of sugar, the lemon juice & zest and pectin into a very large pot.  Having a really big pot is important...we spent a lot of time wiping up all the splatters that popped from our pot!

Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat,

stirring frequently.

As the mixture heats, it will begin to expand and foam.  Keep stirring and be careful the pot doesn't overflow, also be aware of splatters as the mixture heats (as I stirred the pot, Jessi kept wiping up the splatters...we laughed together when said she didn't think it would be easy to make jam alone)

Once boiling, continue to cook on high heat, stirring regularly for 15 to 20 minutes, until it takes on a thick, syrupy consistency. Use an immersion blender to puree some of the mixture to the consistency you want (you can use a blender if needed; puree about 1/3 of the jam)

Keep the jam boiling until it slides off the spoon in a sheet rather than drips, or reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer. 

Remove the sterilized jars from the pot and then remove the jam pot from the heat.

Ladle the jam into the jars, clean the rim and place the lid and ring onto the jar.

Place the filled jam jars into a boiling water bath for 10 minutes to process, then remove them with a jar lifter or tongs.

Set the jars in a draft free area to cool, making sure the jars are not touching.  You will know your jars have sealed properly when you hear the delightful popping sound, you will also see the center of the lids indent.  Let the jars cool for 24 hours, and check each seal by removing the band and grasping the jar by the edge of the lid, lifting gently an inch or two off the towel-covered counter top. The lid should hold; if it doesn't, refrigerate that jam and use it within two weeks. The jam will store in a cool, dry place for up to a year.

 Scrumptious and really worth the effort...made with love!

Visit Flour Me With Love and Homestead Barn  Hop #116 for more recipe and homesteading posts.

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,