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Raised in a Barn…

Day-to-Day Life of a Country Mama

Squash and Onions

We almost always have more squash then we need (when the squash bugs aren’t attacking). When this is the case, I like to set some back for the winter. I cut and sliced the squash and onions up like I would for sautéing them. Then I blanched them for 3 minutes, ran them through cold water and put them in dated quart freezer ziplocks. They are now awaiting winter use in stir fry and soup.

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Purse for Mama

One frustrating part of crochet is working and reworking the same two rows numerous times. I had to do this a lot as I was working on this purse for Mama. This is the first project I’ve ever used the star stitch on and it took me a bit to get the rhythm of it. While it is frustrating, at least crochet is easy to undo and try again.

The body of the purse and handle is done with the star stitch. The pattern called for a fuzzy edging around the top, but instead I embellished it with a black and lavender purple flower. I’m playing around with my own flower technique; this one turned out okay but still not quite how I wanted it.

Another diversion from the pattern I made was adding a liner. I used moderately heavy black cotton for it (this type was not essential; just what I had on hand in black). I cut it to size, adding an inch for hemming. I cut one long strip, folded it in half and sewed the sides. I put it in the purse, turned the unfinished top edge back and pinned it between the outer side of the lining and the crochet interior. I thought I could sew it in with my sewing machine, but I had trouble with the settings. I decided I would play with the settings some other time and just hand-stitch this one instead.

I do think it turned out to be a cute little hand-bag. It’s just 8×8. I may have to make a few more for sale at the market. For now, I’m just glad that I have my third-to-last partial crochet project done!

Corn Update

Well it just got too dry for the corn to produce. We goal a grand total of 5 ears from the whole patch. It would have been 6, but it had a worm that had most of what had developed eaten. The others were worm free though! I will be replanting here before long. I have to calculate its maturity to judge when in October I’ll be free to tend and harvest it. Hopefully the fall crop will do better!

Haying Season

The approach of July doesn’t just mean the coming celebration of Independence Day; it usually also means it’s time to hay down on the bottom fields. We ended up having to bale and haul in multiple short sections due to overheating equipment and high humidity that lays a dew quick in the evening.

Like with the top field, the work yielded considerably less bales than it did last year. We have put a little over 500 bales up this year, which is only about half the number we need for our small herd through the winter. This is disappointing considering we have baled the majority of our hay fields. We have had so little rain the past month that our first field we cut has seen almost no growth, raising the doubt that we will even get a second round off it. Yesterday, we had a short rain that had to be the first one in at least three weeks.

This is a widespread problem in the area this year. The growing season has been odd and a bit severe even for here. Hay yields are averaging at least half of what they were last year. Truck loads of hay are already being shipped in from other areas in preparation for winter.

Praying for rain is a constant for a farmer, but this year the prayers are getting a little desperate from those of us that missed the line of rain from Oklahoma early in the week. Hopefully the next round will come over far enough to reach us.

Tree Onions

I finally found the tree onions!! I was talking with a lady from our market who grows onions to sell. Around here they are called winter onions. She gave me some starts and said to plant them wherever I want them to be. For now, I am planting them in a container until I get my future planned herb tank set up (more on that later). They are a smaller variety than I thought they would be, but I’m excited to give them a try. She said I could use them like a green onions. Hopefully I can get them growing and give examples later on of how I cook with them.

Garden Update

The garden has been going like crazy though I haven’t had time to write about it.

The corn is putting ears on. (Ignore the weeds; I’m waiting on mulching again until after I replant.) After the silk shows, I have been trying a couple different techniques to keep the ear worms away. I have secured a few ears with ties and some with clothespins. I have used more clothespins because I really think this will be the best way. The idea is to restrict the opening in the ears to prevent the beetles from laying eggs in them. The green beans are also producing nicely.

We have a couple little watermelons on our vines. I think I need to start watering them more because they haven’t expanded much in the last little. I hope they will do well and I can save seed for next year. The squash have slowed production for the moment as we fight off a couple squash bugs we have. I think we have about won the battle though. They have a fresh crop of blooms coming on.

Our one surviving broccoli plant is developing a flower! I have been very proud of this since it’s my first year to get any to grow.

The cilantro is flowering and coming to an end. I’m wondering if I could replant for another round or if it will be too hot and dry for it. Either way, I’ll soon be harvesting coriander seed from it. I really need to get better at cooking with it since I have so much of it.

The first of my titans bloomed and the bees love it as you can see. I always love having them. That’s what is going on with our garden. I hope yours is coming along nicely.

Veggie Manicotti

Some times, I’m struck with a meal idea that turns out great. I bought some blue kale from the farmers market and was experimenting with it. I blanched and froze a lot of it for later addition to sautés as desired. At the end, I blanched and cooled a few leaves, but instead of chopping them to freeze, I laid them out flat (allowing a little overlap where I sliced out the woody stem). Then I put a good spoonful of a seasoned cheese mix for manicotti on each leaf and rolled it up. I placed them in a prepared baking dish, poured more pasta sauce over and topped them with leftover cheese. I baked this small dish for maybe 25 minutes at 350 (until the cheese was browning). It turned out awesome! So there is a substitute for you to make your manicotti more healthy.

Teaching Crochet

On my ever growing list of things I’m doing, I have now added teaching. My niece Shelby is 7 and interested in learning. Mama has been teaching her a little embroidery so I offered to teach crochet to begin with. If all our kids are homeschooled like we have been considering with each of us picking a subject to teach the group, among other subjects I’ve offered to help with, I suggested I handle a kind of home-room class covering basic sewing, needlework, cooking, etc. For now, I am learning too and testing my teaching capabilities as Shelby and I test the waters with crochet.

We have only had time for a couple lessons so far, but she seems to be picking up the rhythm of it well. We are working up to begin making squares for a sample afghan. She has her colors picked out and is getting better with her tension. I’m figuring that I will make a sample afghan too so we can compare progress. I’m excited to branch out from there!

Flower Beds

I remade the stone flower bed around our mailbox and put an additional one around the redbud tree near our fire pit. The one I made originally around our mailbox just wasn’t big enough and I needed to straighten the mailbox post. (It’s had a rough time given how people drive around our corner of the dirt road.) I planted brown-eyed susans in it and Travis put us a new mailbox on.

I made the one around the redbud a little bigger. I planted the iris and some little vining plant I dug up from my grandma’s in it. I’m happy to have them a final home. I think both beds turned out very nice and were a great use for some of the creek rock I had sitting around.

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