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This blog chronicles the adventures I share with my husband, daughter and son. It is also a place to share what I am learning as a homemaker, gardener, book lover and homeschooling mother. Welcome.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

summer '17






















Although Summer the season is still here for another month, the mindset of Summer begins to wane as we pick up math, grammar, chemistry books and add special events to our calendar. The Summer was active from late May to mid-June with a short breather until Ella began her volleyball league. What was once typically busy days at home is now sprinkled with busyness outside of the home, but it is good and time for more of those opportunities, consistently, for my children. 

What would Summer be without wide expanse of time for reading? I enjoyed previewing a few books for the children and thoroughly enjoyed Eye of the World (The first in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series), The Blue Sword (and it's prequel The Hero and the Crown) by Robin McKinley and Troubling a Star by Madeleine L'Engle. As a family we are reading aloud The Spell of the White Sturgeon  by Jim Kjelgaard and the children and I are reading Over Sea, Under Stone (from Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising Sequence) and it's Roone's first time through so it's enjoyable seeing him discover this world.

Although the seasons change the rhythm of our days I'm so thankful we've established a family and home life that doesn't change so that it really seems the transitions flow naturally to the next exciting opportunity and we are healthy (in particular ample rest, good food and taking time to know each other) to participate and enjoy them. Here's to transitioning to the schooling days with an 8th grader and 6th grader.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

the july garden

 peegee hydrangea

 raspberries

 zinnia

althea/rose of sharon


golden beets

 kohlrabi

 sweet peppers

dutch yellow cucumber

japanese long cucumber

 zinnias

sunflower

Harvest Total thru July ~ 333 lbs.

Herbs ~ 3 lbs.
Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Mint, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Oregano, Basil and Chives

Fruit ~ 92 lbs.
Strawberries, Raspberries and Blackberries

Vegetables ~ 238 lbs.
Kale, Lettuce, Endive, Spinach (8 lbs.), Cosmic Purple, Chantenay and Parisienne Carrots and  (36 lbs.), Sweet Peppers (6 lbs.), Japanese Long and Dutch Yellow Cucumbers (45 lbs.), Bush Beans (13 lbs.), Forum Onions (23 lbs.), Caribou Russet Potatoes (56 lbs.), Garlic (4 lbs.),  Beefsteak Tomatoes (3 lbs.), Roma Tomatoes (35 lbs.), Cherry Tomatoes (4 lbs.), Kohlrabi (6 lbs.), Golden Beets (4 lbs.) and Squash (3 lbs.)

~

An entire month between posts means my mind has been elsewhere. The Summer heat and busy schedule has me feeling I've neglected the garden, however, since we've set it up to be manageable the plants keep growing well even without my presence. As long as we took the time to water when there was a prolonged dry spell we felt good even if the weeds mocked our neglect!

This past month of July began the season of heavy harvest and not having enough room in the kitchen for all the produce. The tomatoes are really strutting their stuff now, which means a daily morning task is to roast a pan for freezing. I usually prep them the evening before so all I have to do is slice them, place them on the pan, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and roast. These provide a much welcome staple in the freezer come winter.

Our root vegetables have done well: carrots, potatoes, beets. I could grow more beets than I do, but they actually aren't as easy to germinate/grow as carrots and potatoes. We've harvested 4 out of the 6 boxes of potatoes and eat them almost daily. This Caribou Russet variety is pretty great as mashed potatoes, but we also enjoy them roasted, as baked potatoes and hashbrowns. 

I'm very pleased with a new-to-us vegetable, kohlrabi. This vegetable is in the Brassica family and while Kale always does well for us, broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts never have. Kohlrabi has a thick covering, but once that is peeled/cut away you get to the edible portion which I dice and roast, similar to my preparation for roasted potatoes and carrots. It has the look and texture of potatoes, but the taste of brussels sprouts. We are really enjoying this vegetable. 

I'm diligently trying to succession plant as we harvest a complete bed. Mostly, I'm attempting to grow more greens for salads and carrots for storage. I've started more green beans for good measure to see if they will do well for me too. 

I will mention this is the first year we've had pest problems. Japanese Beetles have discovered the raspberry and blackberry canes as well as the apple trees and a few ornamental bushes. We have never sprayed, but this year we are sparingly using Neem Oil so that those specific plants are not decimated. I will say we haven't used the Neem Oil on the raspberry and blackberry canes, although it is considered okay to do so. Now that the intense heat has subsided we are being more diligent to check the plants ourselves and last weekend eradicated around 100 of them. Since we don't have chickens any more we are wondering if this is part of our problem and now considering adding them again to our backyard. Chickens are amazing at eating bugs and weeds. We'll see what we decide.

Overall, we are pleased with our garden harvest and are grateful that we don't have to be helicopter gardeners for it to produce well!

Friday, June 30, 2017

the june garden


robin's nest in the blackberries 

kale & lettuce 

potatoes 

peony poppy 

annabelle hydrangeas 

balloon flowers 

red inchelium garlic 

  oakleaf hydrangea

 chamomile

bush beans

 baby wren ~ struggling to fly but eventually flew away

caribou russet potatoes

zinnia

Harvest Total thru June ~ 157 lbs.

Herbs ~ 3 lbs.
Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Mint, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Oregano, Basil & Chives

Fruit ~ 86 lbs.
Strawberries

Vegetables ~ 68 lbs.
Kale, Lettuce, Endive, Spinach (6 lbs.), Cosmic Purple and Chantenay Carrots (19 1/2 lbs.), Sweet Peppers (1 1/2 lbs.), Japanese Long and Dutch Yellow Cucumbers (5 lbs.), Bush Beans (3 lbs.), Forum Onions (23 lbs.), Caribou Russet Potatoes (10 lbs.)

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Thanks to the amazing strawberry harvest our numbers for the year are already high (to us). We enjoy fresh vegetables everyday which is, of course, tasty and healthy. My children enjoy most of what we grow. They look forward to lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, carrots, green beans, squash, tomatoes, potatoes (beets can be a struggle!) and I look on this as a success. Vegetables are so healthy and I know it's difficult for children (and adults) to acquire a taste for them, so I'm thankful that my children have become used to having them in their diet. I've also dehydrated quite an amount of herbs (although 3 pounds doesn't sound like a lot, for herbs it is), but will continue on as I have time. 

Although I hop out to the garden to cut flowers and gather produce each  morning, my main time to weed and maintain order is on Saturday mornings. My weekday mornings have been consumed by dive team for my son, which is a new adventure for him and so fun for our family to enjoy. However, this means I really can't let myself go in the garden during the weekday mornings (or we'd never make it to practice) and our afternoons are hot, sunny and many times muggy. So I'm enjoying my Saturday morning immersion in the garden.

Since we use raised beds the effort really is minimal, and the chores are usually weeding, watering (as needed), tying up vines (cucumbers, tomatoes), harvesting and amending the soil (with egg shells, coffee grounds and compost). The pests that have arrived are Japanese beetles, cabbage moths and cucumber beetles so as we have opportunity we are on the hunt for those. We do not use sprays so this is definitely a labor of love. Here's hoping squash beetles don't arrive too soon ~ we haven't seen one yet!

We are enjoying many blooms, too, which just makes the yard so beautiful and bright. Somehow my green and white zinnia's are blooming pink here and there, and it's just the loveliest shade so that has been fun. I've been enjoying cutting small bouquets for the house usually featuring blooms from butterfly bush, zinnias, oregano, chamomile, annabelle hydrangea's and peony poppies.  

June is usually an "easy" harvest month and July should bring the bounty of squash, beets, kohlrabi (new to us!), tomatoes, potatoes (so far I've harvested one bed out of six) and even more carrots, cucumbers and peppers. There will be much more work to do in this next month and so it's convenient that my son's dive season is coming to a close.



Friday, June 23, 2017

17 of 40: indian creek



After our hike at Hemmed-In Hollow we went to the trail head of  the Goat Bluff trail since it was nearby. We didn't want to hike it that day, but we were considering it for our last hike the next day and wanted to scope out the territory. We happened to chat with a couple just ending their hike and got the scoop on the trail. The wife loved the views, whereas the husband didn't even go out on the bluff because of the heights. We didn't have complete peace about this hike because of the heights and knowing Ella wouldn't be completely blessed by that fact.

The wife then mentioned the best hike she's ever taken on Indian Creek the day before. Now Indian Creek had been a trail we researched, but it's not a maintained trail and there are no maps. When reading online hikers simply write "follow the creek." Since we have children "follow the creek" could mean a lot of things. This lady, though, mentioned that there was a trail along the creek, but at times you had to cross the water. She said the further you hiked in the more water and rapids you would see and that it was amazing. Well, firsthand accounts are worth something, aren't they? We decided to hike the no-map, follow-the-water Indian Creek trail the next day. We were not disappointed.

The trail head is only reached by first hiking a short distance on the Kyle's Landing to Steel Creek trail. Once you see the Indian Creek wooden post you head that direction. That was the ONLY marker for the trail. 





For much of the initial trail we hiked on the rocky creek bed that at this time was dry. For good portions we were on the trail beside the creek, but many times Jesse was leading us on rocks where the creek was flowing. We only walked through the creek with the children if it was a trickle. This wasn't a wade-in-the-water adventure. Jesse did amazing finding the actual trail or deciding what route in the creek itself was best (and safe). The kids did great following instructions and enjoying the process. 








About 1 1/2 miles was the first time we saw other hikers on the trail and they were on the return trip. Their observations were encouraging because so far we hadn't seen much water but they explained it increased as you hiked in and that there were two large waterfalls at the end of the trail. They also said that there was one point on the trail quite dangerous and narrow. Well, we knew all along that there could possibly be a point of no return for us, so that bluff might be it. We kept going and did come to this spot. We did not walk the trail where basically there was no trail, but were able to maneuver over the sides of the creek on rock, kind of hugging the rocks. I never felt unsafe. The key was going slow, staying together, making wise choices. (There are no pictures of that spot as we were focused on safety, obviously!) The best was yet to come, so I'm glad we figured out that area. 




waterfall from the cave

The largest final waterfalls were spectacular and I'm so thankful we made it that far! Also at the end is a rock called the Eye of the Needle because of the shape of the hole. I could catch barely a glimpse of it, but you have to climb via rope to actually get to it. Climbing via rope is not on our adventure list, so we didn't do that but didn't feel like we missed out. The water was where it was at!


final waterfall


Every hike is special in its own way. I couldn't have planned a better final hike for our trip than Indian Creek. We've never hiked such a trail and Jesse has never had to lead and make wise decisions in the natural environment in such a way for us. The trail was 5 miles round trip, but it took us a good five hours to complete. We really tried to enjoy the views, the process and take the time to be safe so that the adventure would have good, sweet memories and it does. Most of the hiking was peaceful (not many people are out in the Ponca Wilderness), quiet, beautiful to view. This was a challenging trail that required a lot of thinking and evaluating, yet it's one of the trails I most enjoyed from our trip. 

More Buffalo National River posts: