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Sunday, July 3, 2016

July, Glorious July

Since we had July in June, Mother Nature decided to turn the first few days of July into October.  It's been pouring rain, foggy, and COLD.  Our high yesterday was only 62'. I was actually wearing a sweatshirt last night.  NO ONE is complaining.  We all need the rain desperately.  We also needed a break from the hideous heat.  But not to worry, it will be back to a heat index of 105 on Thursday.

The clover in the yard is filled with pollinators and it is almost 6 inches high.  It smells so fabulously delicious when it is freshly cut.  It also shades the lawn and keeps evaporation down and holds the moisture in the soil by shading it.  It spreads like mad, but even so, I ordered another 15 pounds of seed from stockseedcompany.com so I can help it along in the fall.  That said, we applied for our pollinator safe/friendly certification and were one of the first to have been accepted :D  OH, we heard out first cicada July 2nd, so by folklore, 90 days to the first frost.

For my local readers that are interested in pursuing this here is the link. http://entomology.unl.edu/pollinator-habitat-certification

On the chicken front, the silly 7 - dot, doris, peaches, honey, katrina, bb, and lacey- have moved to their forever home about an hour and a half from here.  They will be the little siblings to 4 RIR, two ducks, and a great dane!  I KNOW they will enjoy all the woods and the giant barn and coop/run set up.

The fox has been taken care of.  She was not lactating, so no young.  She was just moving into a new territory and chose the wrong prey.

Doc installed a new shelving unit in the barn.  We set the top shelf quite high for storage, and the middle shelf just the right height for taking care of chickens in cages.  This is our new Chicken Jail set up.  As you can see, Daisy is our first customer.  It took her a week to break, stubborn little beast as she is.

She had a buddy for a couple days, as we pulled our cream legbar pullet, Bea, to treat her for whatever was ailing her.

I have also drawn up the plans for a run extension that will act as a year 'round wind break.  I won't be getting to that until the weather cools way, way down!

The hailstorm mentioned on earlier posts did some serious damage to the orchard and the other trees around the property.  The damage to the leaves was damage to the tree's feeding system.  The wet and cool Spring was quickly followed by searing heat and a serious lack of rain.  By last week, we had cracks in the orchard that were 3 inches wide and went down 12-18 inches.  When we watered our sad trees, you could hear the water racing down around the root balls, and just disappearing to heaven only knows where.

By early this week we knew the trees were gone.  Of the 10 new trees planted this April, 8 were dead.  The stores graciously took them back and replaced them.  Every tree on the property was amazingly watered by nature, 1.5 inches last night, and today we planted new trees and gave every tree an 8" water saving blanket of cypress mulch.  After all, we still have July, August, and September to go!

The third week of June is Mulberry picking time.  BUT since we got so hot so fast, it came early this year.  And this year, I was busy with a fox.  So I entirely missed Mulberry season :(

But let's get down to happier business. 

Late June is CHERRY season!

This year, instead of driving two hours to pick my own cherries, a local market was selling fresh Washington State cherries for only $14 a lug, which came to about $1.50 a pound.  Needless to say, two lugs followed me home.

I also brought home two of THE CUTEST cherry pitters EVER! 

Sure I could use my antique hand crank pitter, but it knocking out the pit and tossing it clear of the meat is hit or miss. (Last year at the fruit farm I had them pit 10 pounds of fresh cherries on their giant mechanical pitter from the 60s, and it failed to pit over 80% of my cherries.)  I could have handed Doc all 22 pounds of cherries and just let him enjoy them, spitting pits as he went.  But I suspect that he would get sick of eating them, and probably couldn't eat them fast enough before they went all green and furry.  So hand stemming and hand pitting was the way to go!  No matter what you make with the cherries, they have to be pitted first. 

My adorable pitter allowed me to hold the pitter in my right hand, feed it with my left and catch the pit, and then toss the pitted cherry with a flick of the right wrist into a waiting bowl. IF the pit fails to hit the pin, or fails to be ejected, I know it immediately and plunge it again.

It went quite quickly with The Boy helping with the stemming. 
22 pounds of cherries in two hours.  I ended up with 3 pints of seeds, which I dried in the Excalibur Dehydrator overnight and popped into mason jars with oxygen absorbers and tossed into the back of the refrigerator until Fall, when I will plant them and see what comes up in the Spring!

So you have 22 pounds of fresh pitted cherries, and the clock is ticking.  What do you do?  WHAT DO YOU DO?!

The obvious thing to do was to fill every square inch of all 9 trays in the Excalibur. Done.

I then took my largest cookie sheet and covered it in parchment paper and tossed them into the deep freeze overnight to freeze them individually. Then I simply tossed them into a freezer bag. Done.

What else?! Oddly enough, I made NOTHING with the fresh cherries.  LOL.

MARISCHINO cherries are a MUST! So here is my recipe for an alcohol free cherry.  When you are done, you can process these in your water bath canner for 15 minutes for pints at sea level, add 5 minutes for each additional 1000 ft.

This is SO simple it is silly.

2 cups of CHERRY JUICE (Read your label and do not use mixed juices or flavored juices - like JUICY JUICE kids flavored drink.)

1000 grams of clean pitted cherries
100 grams of granulated white sugar
2 Tablespoons of almond extract.

Mix it all together and place into a plastic or non reactive container ( NO ALUMINUM).  Store in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours covered, stirring at least once during this time.  You can then fill your sterilized jars and process.  If you need for liquid simply top with cherry juice.  You can also store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. 

The menfolk have trouble staying OUT of these.

Since we are speaking of fruit.  I purchased a bunch of bananas this week and like normal, hung them on my flip away banana tree.  When Doc wandered into the kitchen Saturday morning, he was met with quite a surprise.  SERIOUSLY?!  All on their own!  Crazy nanners.

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