Thursday, August 15, 2013

Amana Orange Tomato

Now that's what I'm talking about!

I dearly love Amana Orange tomatoes
and I grow them every year.
They are usually the first seeds to germinate
and look what they produce in the same
amount of time as other tomatoes.

Just look at that!

And they are all like this..
big, beautiful,
sweet and tender.

And you would think that there would
be a ton of seeds and gel,
but no.
Hang on... let me go slice it!
I am using it for dinner tonight anyway.

Ok.. see?!
Only high up on the shoulder of the fruit
are there any seeds and
all of the rest is just gorgeous.

And when I slice it up and toss it into
the pan later, it will melt away like a
pat of butter.
Unlike some bigger tomato varieties,
Amana Orange is tender and mild.

If you ever wanted to grow an orange tomato
and you wondered which variety to choose,
Amana Orange is the one.
It does me right every year.
I didn't know what to expect this year
with the feet and feet of rain we have had
and the cooler temperatures,
but WOW!
It did it again!

I just love it.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ducks for you to see...

We has 'em.
And I figured I would give you
something to look at while
I work on the new blog
and store.

I took a wee bit of bread
out today and this is what happened.

And they are soft and fuzzy
and warm.
Except for their little feet.
They are sharp and pointy.
And that was only maybe
half of the ducklings that
reside here.
Crazy, ain't it?

Oh! Do you see?
I am covered in fuzzy duck babies!
Fuzzy wuzzy wittle duck babies!
If you wondered what true joy is..
you're seeing it.

And this is my Crack baby.

She is the one I handraised.
And now she is the Mother.
She hatched out a clutch of eggs,
but the other hens just started giving
her all of their babies when they hatched.
She has more than 30 wee ones
that she is responsible for keeping track of.
It's amazing to see her with a sea
of ducklings all around her.
She does a fnatastic job!
Gratuitous Baby Pics!



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Very Scary..

I need a store.
I have stuff.
Great stuff!

I am brimming with ideas
and lots of new posts
where I explore some things
that have intrigued me for many years.

But... in order to do that I need to either make
a sister blog to this one or
attempt to change my template.

So it may look a little weird for a while.

So I am going to hang up a sign now..


Please bear with me
during this dynamic time
and I hope to be back soon
with some really great new content
and a storefront.

(oh..I hope.. I really do.
I am not the most savvy
girl in the world, you know)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Bright New Chapter!

The box came!! The box came!!
I have wanted this and had the money set aside
for this since December.
I just couldn't make myself hit the button
to make the purchase.
But then I just closed my eyes and did it.
And then it came!

And this is what it all comes together to be. 
And herbal distillation set up.
So cool!!
With this wondorous doohickey I can
turn the glories of my herb bed into
liquid life.
Ok.. so that is a little over the top,
but I can make 'complete distillates'.
Some folks call the hydrosols, but
you can get some bad connotations from that.
An average hydrosol is what is left over
AFTER the essential oils have been lifted out.
Smells great, but is missing a part of the whole.
I am leaving the essential oils in, 'complete distillate'.
And some folks just add essentail oils into some water
and call it a hydrosol. No. Wrong. Fail.
I want all of the goodness all together the way it is supposed to be.
Later on I will wax exuberant over the joys and benefits of distilled herbs and blossoms, and twigs and leaves, and resins and fruit, but this one is just about my joy!
Joy! Joy! Joy!
Can you tell that I am pleased?
And the pic doesn't do it justice somehow.
It really is bigger in real life and much more impressive as it
looms over my workspce being all technical and important looking.
And so I took a lot of this...
And a bit of mint and bee balm and some lemon balm
and tossed them into the bowl of the wondorous toy.
(that really, really needs a name)
And all together with very pure water
they look like this.
Only it will begin to boil and steam will rise.
And go into the twirly tube that is inside
of the larger glass tube.
The larger glass has cool running water
that surrounds the twirly tube
cooling the steam inside
so that it drips out of the bottom
as a complete distillate of the plant.
(please refer to the upper pic to see the
magical twirly tube called a Graham condenser)
What comes out is not an infusion, or tea.
It is the steam that has been cooled once again into liquid.
The liquid carries the phytochemicals
and volatile oils from the plant materail
It has all of the medicinal properties, the fragrances
and the power the living plant carried.
Totally freaking awesome!

Here you can see the beautiful blue
essential oil from the yarrow
moving through the condenser.
Look at that!
Now.. I could put on a gadget that
would allow me to siphon off the
essentail oils, leaving behind
the liqiud (an incomplete distillate)
but I want all of the goodness to stay together.


And here is the first ever "Complete Distillate'
made by me!
And I chose the yarrow because of it's amazing
insect repellant properties.
I have read numerous times about a U.S. Army study
done at Fort Bragg (in a swamp, it is)
that showed that yarrow was more effective than DEET.
I can't find the actual study anywhere,
but I figured I would give her a go.
Ok.. so we have had so much rain.
Unbelievable amounts of rain here in the past 10 days or so.
A whole lot of rain.
Crazy rainfall.
And with that much rain and all of the standing water everywhere
and all of the leaves on the ground in the woods
holding water, we have had a mosquito
Mosquitos like to make love in the rain.
Walking through the garden today
(the first time I have been able to even think about
going into the garden in a week)
I could feel myself running into the mosquitos.
Clouds of mosquitos.
So I had the boy child be my guinea pig.
(like I am going to let myself get bitten by mosquitos.. pshaw)
I sprayed half of his body in my yarrow distillate
and left the other half open for lunch.
One leg and one arm got each treatment.

And though I was unable to take a seeable,
non-blurry pic of the mosquitos eating
his untreated leg I can stand up and shout..


It works really, really well.
I had to make him shift the treated leg away from the untreated one
so that they would land to feast.
And then I sprayed his neck and face.
And he promptly licked his lips
and declared it tasty.
So then I sprayed it into his open mouth and into mine.
Like really yummy.
Kind of green and minty.
You won't be seeing me spraying DEET
into my kid's mouth.
I was able to work in the garden without being bothered
by a single mosquito..
other than the clouds that I ran into.
But they fled in horror from
my very essence and the glory of my yarrow distillate!

And this is the pitiful boy child
as I have him sit and be bitten.
He is making a sad guine pig face.
He was totally disgusted with me.
That amuses me greatly.
But then I released him and sprayed him inside
and out and he was not bitten anymore
and the sad face turned into a smile!
I will be working on many more wonderful distillates soon
and will be working on a way to offer them up for others that may want them.
Hmmmm... I may sense a give-a-way coming on.

Monday, June 24, 2013

First Day of Summer 2013


Happy Summer!

The garden is looking good this year.
It may look sparse, but that is to
be blamed on the late start due
to chilly temperatures and all that rain.
The tomatoes are there, below the supports.
They are almost tall enough to begin tying them up.
And, as you can see, I have a bumper crop of plantain.
I am thrilled.
Such a beautiful plant, inside and out.

The cucumbers are just booming!
We had about an inch of rain last night
and I bet if I went out and looked I
'could' harvest a few. They would
be small, but edible!
The man-child has developed a dill pickle addiction
and is growing cukes this year so that he can
learn to make his own.
Pick what you love and go from there.
Also included in the pic above is a very healthy,
desperately needing to be trimmed and worked, yarrow
and a very happy catnip.
I do love the way catnip smells.
It is in my Top 10.
And these crazy mounds are lemon balm
and more catnip. Let 'em grow.
They chose that spot and just appeared there.
Who am I to tell them to move?
They seem to really like it.
Every year they get bigger and bigger.
There is a bed of bee balm in the back
against the bunny house and a
photobomb branch of my Mother wort.

After 4 years! 4 years!
I finally have apples!
However... I purchased this tree as
a Granny Smith.
This is not a Granny Smith apple tree.
For these here apples are ripe.
The closest I can guess is they are Yellow Transparents.
Not very tasty, but apparently good for cooking.
I am eating them anyway.
The Gala is loaded too.
And even last year's replacement Arkansas Black has an apple!
The Wolf River is holding out on me.
And check this out!
In all of my years of growing my Great Grandfather's bee balm,
I have never seen this.
A blossom with a small stalk sticking out of the top
with another blossom.
There are several of these beauties this time.

And I have loads of bee balm this year.
It seems to me that it is blooming early this year.
And tall!
This stuff is higher than my head.. as you can see.
I am collecting the blossoms for teas, and salves and distillates.
Maybe even some jelly.
Oooooh! Mmmmmm!
Popping the seal on Bee Balm Blossom jelly in the dead of winter
is like opening up a jar of summer.
And then smearing it across a hot scone.
And eating it.
Hell yeah.

And now a word of apology..
I have been remiss.
I truly don't know what has been my issue
in the past 11 months.
I am going to try take what is in my mind
and translate it into something interesting.
I think I will post loads more recipes.
Recipes are fun. No?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

After The Rain..

Now I am not complaining.
I wouldn't think of complaining.
How could I possibly complain about rain
when so many others need rain so badly?
In fact,
I feel kind of bad talking about rain
now that I have set down to do it.

But it rained.
And it rained quite a bit
over about a week's time.
I wasn't able to even think about the garden
because it is a bad thing to work in a wet garden.
I get disease enough without
inviting more.
And the weeds GREW!

It doesn't look it,
but some of those things are knee high!

So I attacked late this afternoon
with my handy-dandy,
old as sin.
literally held together with duct tape
electric weedeater
and 'made clean'.
That's better.
Much better.
I then went along and took
the pitiful chard down to
the ground that that it can re-grow.
Stupid pill bugs.
The rain was their open invitation to
devour my chard.

And you can see that my tomatoes
have the funk on the lower branches.
The rain just spread that stuff
right on up.
It won't be the best tomato harvest that I have ever had,
but I still have some tomatoes left from last year
so that's ok.

But the peppers are happy
and I took the opportunity
to whack back a lot of my herbs
that had bloomed and gone
so that they can bloom again.
Happy bees in the late summer with
fresh blooms to suckle.
They are going to need it.

And I think that does it for us
on the rain for a while;
maybe the rest of the summer.
Nothing but blue skies in the forecast!
(and heat)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Plantain Salve.. upon completion

You may remember the beginnings of my plantain salve..
Plantain Salve

And so I let the leaves,
stems and blossoms macerate
in my mix of oils for several weeks.
I even let it spend a night out on the railing
under a full moon.
I wasn't really sure what I was expecting..
Ok.. that's not true.
I didn't expect a darn thing to happen
at all, I just figured it couldn't
hurt to let it soak in some lunar
energy or whatever.
Well.. that evening out did change
the contents of the jar a bit.
In the morning, it was a much deeper, darker green
and the leaves of the softer plants, like the chickweed,
were almost skeletonized.
I see how it could make a difference.
I do know that the moon pulls on the water
and I know that it pulls on the earth
and I do actually plant by the moon phases,
so I suppose that it could also pull upon
the tender parts of a plant
sitting in oil.

Regretfully I do not have
any pictures of the deep dark green liquid
to share with you.
Of course, the camera needed to be charged.
Of course it did.
And once you start with salve, you can't just stop.

But I tell you it was so dark green that it
was almost black;
just stunning and rich.
I poured it off and strained the
plants and gave it a good squeeze
and warmed it slowly in a double boiler.
(a pyrex measuring cup in a pot..fancy)
I grated unfiltered, raw beeswax into the liquid
until I achieved a consistency that I liked.
I wanted it to be nice and firm, but not rock hard.
I don't like squishy, mushy salves.
Then I poured it into little 1.3 oz jars!

I love the way that it turned out.
The wax muted the green,
but it is still darker than most salves.

I didn't add any essential oils for fragrance.
This is medicine.
This is a serious salve.
Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, cooling and soothing,
anti-microbial, healing and cell regrowth,
anti-fungal and anti-biotic in nature;
this salves really packs a punch.
And the bee balm and the beeswax give it
a nice subtle scent that fades
off of the skin within moments.

I decided to go with 'Summer Salve'
as the name.
I just couldn't get 'Bite and Sting Salve'
to sound as sleek and awesome as this salve deserves.
And I have used it for things other than
bites or stings because I haven't managed
to get a bite or a sting since I made it.
I am ok with that..truly.

But it is also chock full of minerals and amino acids
and vitamins and nutrients and life,
so I have used it on my hands and put it on my face
in the evenings before bed.
It feels nice and anything put on the skin
absorbs right into the body.
I figure that it is feeding my skin
and that's a good thing.

And I made a lot of it.
More than I could use in many years.
If anyone is interested,
it can be yours for the
princely sum of $5 (+$3 s/h).

I am searching and searching
for a way to put a wee shopping cart
on the right over there.
A real cart with a Paypal button and everything,
but I haven't found one yet.
Butif you would like a bit of this salve,
please drop me a note and I will
hook you up with my Paypal and zip it out to
you straightaway.
I will have other salves available
as I make them.
I have run low on about everything
and will be making tinctures and salves
throughout the rest of the season.

And I have made a small change to
the blog.
All comments are 'submitted for moderation'.
Not because I have had any problems or spam,
but because folks have been commenting on
old posts and I have no idea and I don't want to miss anyone.
This way, I get notification of a new comment.
That's all it is.

Other than salves,
it has just been raining and cooler
and I am loving it!
However, the garden is in desperate need
of tending and it is a wild, wild place.
I popped in briefly to harvest some tomatoes and grab
some basil for pizza tonight (yay! cool enough to fire up the ovens!)
and was aghast at the weed growth!
It's bad.
But I can't do anything about it until it dries out a bit.
I am not one that will work
a garden in the wet.
I don't need bacterial wilt or any other
disease or fungus to entertain me.
So.. the weeds may flourish until it dries.