Catching up: the year in review

I have such good intentions with blogs, I really do. But life gets in the way, so very often. Last summer the garden picked up and I was too busy canning things to WRITE about canning things.

Last summer was very hot, and too rainy, but we still had a good year. I had plenty of tomatoes to can, mostly because of the varieties we chose. I love little salad tomatoes, and bought many seeds from Bakers Creek (www.rareseeds.com). We had buckets and buckets and buckets of red, orange, and yellow tomatoes of all sizes. I made a ton of salsa, and sauce, and even soup. It was GREAT having soup all year. It took about two days to put the soup together, and I made about 25 quarts. Many times over the year, I would be too tired to cook, and tadah! Delicious homemade soup at my fingertips.

When hunting season came around, Dad gave me four of the deer he killed to process. The other two went to hamburger and sausage. Canning deer was SO easy. I just chopped into cubes, stuffed raw into jars, and processed at 10 lbs in the pressure canner for 75 minutes (for pints). We use these in so many meals, but Mom has the best: she heats up the deer and its juice in the pan, adds a little flour and makes gravy to go with it. Delicious.

The corn last year was not so great, the crows ate it all. We only harvested enough for one meal. Tragically, it may have been the Best. Corn. Ever.

We are increasing our food production and self sufficiency with chickens. Dad started with a few, and it now fluctuates between 50 and 75. We have LOTS of delicious eggs, plus we butcher a few. I have three in Freezer Camp now awaiting their trip to the Jar Resort. For chicken, I like to boil them in my 23 quart pressure canner with the lid off (then it becomes a giant stock pot) until the meat falls off the bones. I pull the meat off and stuff into jars, add some of the broth, and process just like the deer (75 mins pints, 90 quarts). Then, I return the bones to the pot and cook the broth down and can that. It is the best stuff ever, especially when you have the stomach virus.

2013 saw new additions to the farm as well. I purchased two miniature horse fillies, five and six months old at the time. Holly and Ivy have brought such joy to our lives; I don’t know how we have managed to live without them. In April, we added three year old gelding Tucker to the group, and the little herd is complete.

Ivy
All three babies
tucker

For the new garden year, we were even more ambitious, with three spots. The potatoes were amazing, and from 30 lbs of seed potatoes, we harvested 200 lbs! We had a much better corn year, though some of the ears were munched by the local wildlife. We still harvested a little under 200 ears. I froze 35, Mom cut a bunch off the cob and froze them in bags, but I still have 100 ears in the freezer waiting to go to the Jar Resort.

The tomatoes and peppers are ridiculous. We took seeds from last year to our local Amish greenhouse and asked them to start the seeds, offering to buy all the slips back. Well…ALL of the seeds came up, and we bought 100 slips of tomatoes, and 100 slips of peppers (pepperonchini, banana, green pepper, mini bells, cayenne, jalapeno, serrano).

Soon we will be disking up the plots that held the corn and potatoes. The squash is almost done, and though the tomatoes are still producing, we are going to plow up the yellow and orange tomatoes. The red will keep going. The fall crop will be going in soon, with turnips, and collards, broccoli and cabbage.

So that’s the last 12 months in a nutshell. šŸ™‚ The nice thing about life is there are always chances for fresh starts and new chances. Now that we’ve caught up, I can go back and write more detailed posts, and post more frequently with projects, ideas, and recipes!

Happy homesteading!

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