The weather has been ridiculously hot around here for the last several weeks (high 80’s to low 90’s), and according to weather reports it’s supposed to “cool down” to somewhere in the mid 80’s to high 70’s for the next few weeks. I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest my entire life and I’m used to one hot week mid-summer, so this extended hot weather has been problematic for a few reasons. First off, the plants all need more water because they are drying out quicker, and the weeds have begun to take over since it’s been so difficult to get out in the hot sun and spend time in the garden.
I feel like my family has been on this ever evolving journey over the last few years trying to provide as much food off of our land as we can, eat food the way it was meant to be eaten and move away from processed foods, but for some reason one thing that never really occurred to me was to drink raw milk. We’ve been drinking mostly organic milk for awhile, but raw milk isn’t really something that’s readily available in most grocery stores. I actually remember my first attempt at making my own butter, it was an epic fail because I didn’t realize until the cream didn’t turn that I had bought ultra-pasteurized cream. From everything I have read raw milk is the best for making butter, pasteurized will work, but ultra-pasteurized won’t.
This year I went to the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, WA for the first time, and you can believe I will be going again. The Fair was an amazing opportunity to gain knowledge and meet people with similar ideas, lifestyles and goals. The Mother Earth News Fair had Tons of workshops, demonstrations on and off stage, tons of samples and incredibly informative seminars on everything from beginning gardening to bow making and a live poultry processing demonstration.
I can’t believe how fast the garden has changed in the last few weeks. First off, if you follow me on twitter or instagram you know I still haven’t caught the mole that’s been making appearances in our yard. Even better, the bait I set in the traps attracted ants so now I have moles and ants, which reminds me why I did almost exclusively container gardening last year. I heard Cayenne pepper will get rid of ants and possibly deter the moles as well so I think I’ll give that a shot. We have tons of bees around here too and it seems like every year we have to knock a new hive off of our eaves, but the plus side is they help with the ants. I actually saw a couple of bees crawling into anthills in our backyard this week. It was totally bizarre to watch. The rest of the good news is that almost everything is growing well and It looks like the mole really only messed with the carrots. There were tunnels all around the carrots and very few of them have sprouted so I’ll be planting more soon. This time I’ll be using the carrot seeds I have instead of buying more seed tape, although I’m pretty sure it was the mole, not the tape that was the problem because the beets and radishes all sprouted well.
Last year we had our garden in our backyard and as much fun as I had there wasn’t enough room for everything I wanted to grow this year. We have always kept the front garden bed full of flowers because we want to keep the front of our property looking nice and I’ve been afraid of neighborhood animals eating the crops. We live near a wildlife ravine and I’ve seen wild rabbits around our neighborhood. To grow everything I want to this year I decided to dig up our front garden bed and start over. I still want our garden bed to look nice so I’m planting my own garden art.
Spring is in the air and it’s the perfect time for starting a flock of chickens. I wasn’t originally planning on adding to our flock this year, but we lost a few ladies this Winter so we’ll be adding a few new baby chicks. If you’ve never owned chickens before Spring is the perfect time. Co-op’s and farms are full of baby chicks with the biggest selection of breeds available in March and April.
Pepper Jelly with crackers and cream cheese is one of my all time favorite snacks, so when I began canning last year Pepper Jelly was at the top of list to make. You can find Pepper Jelly at most grocery stores, but usually the selection is limited, and I’ve never once been able to find organic Pepper Jelly, which is why I love making my own. It’s also great to have on hand as a last minute hostess gift, or party appetizer.