Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"Pontooning on Duck Lake....."

Don and I were kindly asked to cruise around on Duck Lake with our neighbors, Tami and Linda, on their pontoon last Saturday.

Here is Linda......



And Tami......



And Don.......


Gracie, Tami and Linda's little dog, jumped from lap to lap to make sure we all were enjoying her attention.  :) I made sure the stern of the pontoon was watched over.  ;)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"The Little Guy/Girl......"

This is the little guy/girl who is responsible for my putting up a "rabbit proof" fence around part of the garden.  He/she shows no fear of us until we try to get "too close".......in his/her opinion.




Then off he/she hops as far as it takes to put himself/herself out of the "threat" from us.  ;)

Since the fencing, the only "sharing" of our produce has been with the local chipmunk(s), and that is limited to the strawberries......unless the one or two squash blossoms being nipped off is because of them, too.  If they are nipping them off, I wish they would eat them and not just leave them lying next to the stems to just taunt me.  ;)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

FarmCurious Fermenting Set.......

A few months back, one of the groups I belong to on Facebook had a posting about a product called "FarmCurious Fermenting Set".  It was not available at the time, but I kept an eye on the product and was able to order it last week. (http://www.farmcurious.com)

You may recall that Don and I took a class offered through our local food co-op, Oryana, on "Fermenting".  It was a "hands on" class and we made or own quart of sauerkraut.  Because of that class, I planted a dozen heads of cabbage in one of my raised beds this Spring and plan on making sauerkraut here at home.

That little piece of background information brings us up to date on this new product that I think will be a VERY helpful in my making our sauerkraut here at home.

Here is the flyer inside the FarmCurious Fermenting Set.  It's not just for making sauerkraut.  ;)


Each set consists of 2 lids, each with its own air lock set up, which allows gas from the fermenting process to escape the jar.  I am hopeful that I will be able to find half gallon Mason jars so that I can ferment larger batches of sauerkraut than individual quarts.

I purchased 2 sets, which will allow me to ferment 4 jars of produce at a time.


Here is a close up of the lid with its rubber sealing ring, and airlock with cork (the "cork" is actually called a "bung", via our beer home brewing shop).


When in use, the lid from the airlock is removed and a small amount of water is used in the larger part of the airlock, which will allow gas to escape (via the central plastic tube through the bung) from underneath the center plastic piece, but keep any outside oxygen and/or pollutants from getting back into the fermenting area.


I am looking forward to putting these kits to good use.  ;)

Monday, June 30, 2014

"Garden Photos the Last Day of June, 2014........."

My two "Golden Grape" Heritage tomatoes in their hanging pot.


Another Heritage Cherry Tomato, "Sun Gold".


One of the 3 blueberry bushes I planted last year with several Strawberry plants throughout the bed, too.


I replaced one of the dwarf peach trees, planted this Spring, that did not come out of dormancy, with this Dwarf "Moongold" Apricot.  Also in this photo, in the background to the right, is the other Apricot, "Moonpark", replacing another peach tree which also didn't break dormancy.


An overview of raised garden beds, now behind a 2' tall metal fence.  Previously, the long, low bed was surrounded with plastic netting, which I found does not deter rabbits.  :(  I had extra seedlings of Summer Squash, which I planted in pots and meant to have on the deck, but after seeing one of the blossoms nipped off by "presumably" a chipmunk, I decided to set them behind the wire fencing, too.  Unfortunately, now I know that nothing seems to be able to stop chipmunks from going where they want to.  :(


A closer view of one of the 2 Zucchini plants in the far left raised bed.  Looks like I will be picking this one very soon!  I swear it developed almost overnight!  :)


One of several Summer Squashes "soon to be ready for harvest"......


Here is a photo of the entire 8' long, 4' wide, and 2' tall raised bed with the 4 squash, 2 each of Zucchini and Summer Squash in the back, 3 Dwarf "Green Martian" Heritage Tomatoes in the middle, 6 Kale, with Bush Green Beans surrounding the Kale.  More Bush Green Beans are to the side and behind the Squash, too......definitely being overpowered.  :)


Our 5 "Sugar Baby" Watermelons.  My "hope" is that I will be able to train them to climb the trellis and that the developing watermelons can be tied to the trellis using lengths of old shower scrungy netting, like little "hammocks".  ;)


A view of the 5 Heritage Peppers and 4 (2 each) Heritage Tomatoes......



And last but not least, in the end bed, is one of my small Strawberry patches.  The new metal fencing so far is keeping the rabbits at bay, but it does not stop the chipmunks from getting into and taking bites out of or running away with my strawberries.  My plan is to soon build a tiered strawberry planter which will be entirely enclosed with removable sides and top in hopes of protecting next years harvest.


Here is an overview photo of the other 8'x4'x2' raised bed.  In the foreground is a mixed bed of Dill and Garlic bulbs (which are not doing well), behind those and on the left are onions (a mix of red, white, and yellow), with Brussels Sprouts behind them.  As you can see, the rest of the bed is planted with Cabbages and climbing along the left side and rear are Sugar Snap Peas.  The Peas were labeled as "Bush" but I found they still needed support to climb.


Here is a close up of the "Sugar Snap Peas" showing both flowers and "soon to be harvested" pods.


On the deck we have one container of Heritage Tomatoes.....1 "Hana" and 1 "Wild Thyme", both of which are considered green tomatoes when ripe (although there might be some striping of orange, yellow, or red), and numerous pots of Sweet Basil.  Not shown are my pots of Chives and Ginger root.


If it weren't for losing some Strawberries to the chipmunks, and earlier, whole Broccoli plants to rabbits, I would be completely happy with my garden this year.  But as my cousin, Barb, says, "They have to eat, too"!.  ;)  All I can do is work with what I have and hopefully, by next Spring, "Learn from this year and work out the glitches".  :)





Sunday, June 29, 2014

"Abigail Playing T-Ball....."

Don and I drove down to Brethren on Tuesday evening to watch Abigail's T-Ball team play.  It was a bright sunny day....perfect for the game.  :)

When Julie wasn't needed in the dugout or infield, she came and sat with me in the stands.  Don, of course, was documenting the event by taking photos.  ;)


Here is Abigail up to bat.  Each member of the team gets to bat once each inning.  Each team does this and each team member gets to bat until he or she hits the ball, then they run to first base.  Bases are usually loaded and when the last team member bats, it is always a home run and everyone completes the run around the bases.  I don't remember how the game was played when my boys were small, but I definitely like it played this way.  The innings are played somewhat quickly with the kids involved constantly, leaving little room for boredom to set in, plus it is a good learning experience in that the team members learn where to run and where to throw the ball once hit.  Competitiveness isn't an issue at this age, in my opinion, but being involved in the game constantly is.  I'm sure other people might disagree with me.  :)




Abigail's coach is out there at home plate encouraging each and every team member, helping them with their batting stance, making sure they run towards first, and congratulating them as they head to home plate.






Patrick helps both teams by standing near second base and giving encouragement to whomever is second basemen.  Abigail had that position during one of the 3 innings.





After the game, we all met up at "Traks" (http://www.traksbar.com), the local restaurant.  Our friend, Maniphone, who visited recently from North Dakota, had given me a necklace for Abigail, which we had brought along that evening to give to Abigail after the game.  It is a beautiful bead necklace with a small metal heart hanging from its center.  Here I am opening its clasp so I can hang it around Abigail's neck.  Abigail loved it and sends her thanks to Maniphone!  ;)


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"Exploring Southeast of Traverse City......"

Don and I decided to take a drive and explore the area Southeast of Traverse City, which has numerous small lakes in close proximity to each other.  We are familiar with some of the lake names because when we were seriously looking for a home, we found several houses for sale in the area while checking the real estate listings, but when we found the listing of this home, we knew it was "The One".  :)  We figured it was time to become more familiar with that area and what it has to offer, so since it was a beautiful day, off we went!

On our way there, we would be passing Grand Traverse Academy, which has the type greenhouse we want for ourselves, although it is a much larger one that we hope to eventually purchase, which makes sense since they use it for classes.  They are manufactured by a company in Colorado called "Growing Spaces" (http://geodesic-greenhouse-kits.com), and are designed for year round growing.  Don had found the company online and we have read everything about them.  While reading some of the comments on their site, I had learned of the Academy's greenhouse.

So......last year after I moved here and Don was still in Wisconsin.......Patrick, Julie, and Abigail visited me and while here, I had mentioned the Academy having one of these greenhouses.  When we were " out and about" that day, we drove over to look at it.  The school has since done some more work around the outside since I saw it last year, adding the raised beds.  They actually are in the process of this work but had managed to complete a couple beds and plant some vegetable seedlings, which "I assume" they had grown in the greenhouse for this purpose.  It will be a great experience for their students to actually see what their Spring sowing has produced when they get back to school in the Fall.  I "assume" that when/as the produce is harvested, records will be kept and used during subsequent lesson plans?


As I mentioned previously, this greenhouse is much larger than the one we want, but it is exactly the same in style.  Inside each of these greenhouses has a large water tank inside, sized according to the greenhouses square footage, and designed to moderate the temperature fluctuation inside, keeping the greenhouse warmer in Winter and cooler in Summer, allowing for year round growing conditions.  Once we get our "Must Do's" done around here, then it will be time to get serious and order one.  :)  As the saying goes, "Good things come to those who wait"......so I am patiently waiting.  ;)


After leaving the school and while driving around one of the small lakes, we saw a deer cross the residential street ahead of us, so I slowed down hoping we could see where it was going, surprised by its appearance in the middle of the day in a "neighborhood".  Its destination was not far from the street.......its goal was to snack on someones excess bird seed that was scratched by enthusiastic birds from a bird feeder and located in their front yard, several feet from their house!  As far as we could tell, the only inhabitant in the house aware of it being there was a cat, guarding its domain from the windowsill.  :)


She showed no fear or concern that we had stopped our vehicle so close to her buffet, but continued to calmly eat.  She was still munching away as we left.........


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"Summer Solstice Picnic....."

We were invited to a Summer Solstice potluck picnic at the Neahtawanta Inn, which is out on Old Mission Peninsula.  Don and I had stayed at the Inn a few years ago......the year Don had ridden his bike from Madison to Traverse City.  Unfortunately, the Inn had a fire last year and had been closed until recently, when it had been reopened.  The restoration makes it look like the fire never happened, as it looks exactly the same as when we stayed there.


The "official cake" of the evening.  ;)


When Don and I arrived at the picnic, we walked down to the beach and helped begin work on a "stick man" which was to be burned later in the evening.  The main figure was built on the beach, then set at the waters edge for completion.  Laura and Gabe were the brave souls to work in the water......


Here is what the structure looked like from up at the Inn level.  It still had to be "filled out" with more flammable materials, which were on their way.......


Laura and Gabe once again got into the water to help fill out/stuff the "soon to be"........"Burning Man".  ;)


The "Burning Man" is now ready for his big moment in the Summer Solstice.......


Fortunately, Don was able to capture the moment when the "Burning Man" was lit, but he went up in flames so quickly and became unsteady, that he fell to the shore in a heap, burning brightly and resembling nothing more than a normal bonfire.


We had a great time at the picnic and enjoyed meeting some very nice people.  Surprisingly, the mosquito population was not out in force.  The day had been cool and the evening saw even cooler temperatures, so I guess the mosquitoes found warmer conditions elsewhere...........THANK GOODNESS!  ;)