Monday, July 12, 2010

And who will help me eat the harvest?

We have started to add to our pantry. Onions are the first harvest and I have ran through two dehydrator loads of them. This is what I have left to peel slice and load in the dehydrator.

This year has been a successful year for beets. We grew a F1 hybrid from Johnny's called Merlin. We love them. Big healthy and very tasty. Where appropriate we grow heirloom plants but beets are not something we'll attempt to save seeds from in the near future. Although we have been enjoying the thinnings for several weeks, we just got around to harvesting them in earnest. This batch is from the front yard row.

It is very weedy. Our trip to Michigan left this row in shambles. I'll cover this row with a black tarp, kill the weeds and sterilize the soil for a few weeks. After that I'll plant a cover crop. These are the littlest beets after sorting and removing the larger ones for this first batch.

Here are some of the larger ones in the queue for the cooker.

These beets are partially cooked and will cool so we can slip the skins off, slice them and stick them in jars.

As I type the last quart of fifteen is being added to this canner.

These will be pickled beets and here are the spices to be added to each jar.

Other recent additions to our pantry and freezer are two quarts of black raspberries, three quarts of black berries, fourteen quarts of green beans.

The sheep are working out nicely. We have kept them in a fifteen foot piece of snowfence and move it regularly along our fence rows. They are excellent at keeping me from having to weed eat the fence rows.

A simple piece of tarp for shelter and a bucket of water are all they need. We plan to shear them before butcher. I also hope to tan their hides. So far sheep seem to fit well into our farm. Lamb being my favorite meat affords them a little more latitude than usual.

The dogs are doing well. They are shedding their puppy coats and look a little scruffy.

Astrid is an excellent livestock guardian. She also has enveloped our house into her sphere of protection. Visitors are notified that a large dog lives here with a deep menacing bark.

The other night Tabitha went to the barn with a flashlight and Astrid did not recognize her. Astrid ran around at lightspeed to the upper paddock to surround her. Astrid and the boys closed in on her to attack from front and rear. This scared Tabitha and she yelled their "disarm" word. They immediately stood down and marched around with ruffled back fur snorting heavily. Scary but kinda makes a person feel good about personal protection.
Astrid is nine months old and will only get better at her job. She is probably 75% grown in size. The boys, Captain Jack and Ianto will be quite a bit larger than Astrid. They come from larger stock and they are boys. We feel lucky to have these dogs. They are on a raw meat diet plus table scraps. Very healthy and anxious to please.
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