Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Late Summer

Some people love the heat of summer. Not me. When the humidity is this high, it is like breathing corn syrup.

So, I'm staying in a lot. An hour outside in the early morning or evening is about all I can take. I do what is necessary for the animals and turn on the sprinklers in the vegetable garden and I'm drenched in sweat and exhausted.

Inside, I'm catching up on cleaning, record keeping, cooking, and baking. Even the ironing basket is getting attention.

In the garden, tomatoes are forming nicely and beginning to ripen. Last year, I didn't have a single one. Basils are as big as bushes, beans continue to produce but are slowing down. New bean plants are developing in other areas of the garden. Some of the newly planted squashes look okay for now.

The pears and peaches have weighed down the trees. Pears sit on the kitchen counter under fly protectors. I check each day for ripe ones. Soon, I'll have to figure out how to accomodate peaches.

'Looking forward to a break in the weather and some needed rain. In the meantime, there is plenty to do inside.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Fruits of Our Labor

Last year, was The Year Without Fruit. Untimely frosts and drought kept tree fruits, with the exception of apples, from setting.

This year we have fruit in abundance. Pears, peaches, and apples are hanging low on loaded trees. Cherries, plumcots, and apricots are already ripe and being harvested. I've spent part of every day since last Sunday processing beautiful apricots from two full trees. Jam is cooking on the stove as I type this. I've dried apricots and cherries for baking during the Fall and Winter. Yesterday, I picked a soft totally ripe purple plumcot and bit into it -- simply wonderful! You just can't buy them like that in the grocery store. Even grape vines I thought were long dead have come to life and are actually bearing grapes. Yippee.

The red and black raspberries are almost finished, but the blackberries have already begun to ripen and I'll be picking them soon.

Asparagus continue to produce, surprisingly. I've picked buckets of pole beans, kale, chard, and cucumbers. Summer squashes are producing, but sadly it looks like the winter squashes are going to be hit by borers. Oh well, I have freezers full of pureed squash from last year. I may try replanting in an effort to outwit the insects.

Nature seems to work that way. One year on, the next off. I try to preserve as much of the year's bounty as possible in order to have a variety on hand.

This morning, I drove through an area to check on blackberries and found twin fawns in the patch. I don't remember seeing twins in the past. It must be a good year for deer reproduction, as well.

A mystery animal has killed a good number of ducks by attacking their night shelter and dragging them out, one by one. My husband kept repairing the structure each time it was torn apart, hardware cloth ripped off, the tin roof bent back... Now, the two remaining ducks are staying on the pond at night. Because the access was narrow in each case and the predator was obviously dexterous and strong, I've been wondering if we have a troupe of baboons in the vicinity. Evidently, a delicious box of quackers is too tasty to be left alone by this bunch.