I just saw a new slogan on a forum I frequent:
"He who buys that which he does not need, steals from himself."
The person who posted it said she'd seen it on Facebook. It's good advice.
This is Friday, January 15.
I've gotten off schedule, I know some of you have gotten used to there being a new post by Friday or Saturday and so I'll try to get back into it, but it might take me awhile. Not making any promises other than that I will try, however....
Yesterday it warmed up to 62ºF. I went outside for a little while, to pull the Bermuda grass out of the asparagus bed, and while I was out there, Kylie, our tree-trimmer friend, came with a load of wood chips. How many times have I told you that I just love Kylie? I would adopt him if I could. We had a nice visit with him, as his business is slow during the coldest months and we hadn't seen him since before Christmas. While he was here I asked him if he'd like to have our small freezer that the rats damaged by chewing on the cord, and he said he would use it to keep feed in, in his barn. It worked out perfectly because he had room in his chipper for it once he'd dumped the wood chips out on our land, and he was on his way home for the day. This freezer is probably 20 years old, but was still working and could be put back into service for however much longer it has left by putting on a new electric cord. So Hubs told him that, just in case he wanted to go to the trouble. And yes, we could've bought a new cord and Hubs could've put it on. But it's a small freezer that stays empty much of the time. It has to stay in the garage because there isn't a good place to put it inside the house. And once a freezer gets to be a certain age, you never know when it's just going to quit on you. And then if you can't find a way to absorb the contents into other freezers, or process it in some way, you've got to rush out and buy a replacement and try to get it home and into service before your frozen stuff thaws. Once a year there is a recycle program that will accept old appliances but anything that has Freon in it has to be certified that it's been emptied. I don't know if the local landfill would accept it without that certification, but even if they would, it's kind of expensive to take something there. So this way, Kylie got something he can use and we didn't have to pay anything to get rid of it.
Kylie told us that the rats had done thousands of dollars worth of damage to his new tractor. They got up in the electronics and chewed away. I told him about what our new neighbor, Bob, who used to be an automotive mechanic, said about sprinkling cayenne pepper under the hoods of cars and trucks to discourage rats. And he said that the tractor dealerships sell something in little packets that you toss into closed-in places in your tractors and vehicles. Apparently it's not a poison, it's just something rats don't like the smell of. He didn't know what was in the bags. Hey, maybe it's cayenne pepper. Heh. We hadn't known about this and it's certainly worth checking into. Because we know this is not our last rodeo with rats. Whenever there is fire, and there will always be, because even if an accidentally-set grassfire never happens again, our rancher neighbors will continue to burn off their pastures, we will have migrations of rats into the residential areas.
I made two batches of cherry jam yesterday, too. I don't mind making jam in the winter, since the heat warms the kitchen and at least is not wasted like it is in the summer.
These are 1.5 pint jars. 8 cups of cherries and 8 cups of sugar made three jars. Our Nanking cherry bushes produced last year and I sat out on the patio and pitted them for hours. Some people won't process things like this at home, because they say, "It isn't worth my time". And then they let the birds have the whole harvest. I don't know how it is that people have been able to put a dollar amount on their time. If you take time from an income-making activity, like, for instance, if you have a job and you take time off for which you could've gotten paid if you hadn't, then yes, the activity costs you whatever you lost in income. But if you are using time for which you aren't being paid, like weekends and evenings, or if you are retired, then, I hate to tell you this, but the dollar value of your time is zero. Therefore, NOT processing things that grow around your home actually IS worth your time, because it actually COSTS you that which you would pay to buy the same products already processed by machines or God knows how many other persons.
I had two three-quart containers of fruit, enough for three batches of jam, as the result of my labor and they were packed into the freezer. I'm grateful to have it, because we didn't get a very good yield of fruit last year, considering the possibilities. My peach tree and grape vines got some kind of fungus during the cold, wet spring, so their fruit turned black and withered. The nectarine tree died. The apple, plum and apricot trees were in bloom when we got a late freeze, so no fruit from them. We did, however, get black cherries off the Hansen's cherry bushes and red cherries off the Nankings. Quite a few blackberries and elderberries. Wild sweet yellow plums off the Chickasaw Plum trees and sour red plums off the Sand Plum trees. A few gooseberries, but not enough to make anything out of, since the bushes are still young. A few round pears from the Asian pear tree. And a big enough harvest off the Bartlett pear tree for several quart-jar canner loads.
I've put in a new peach tree, this time it's my favorite variety, Red Haven. I made a mistake in buying a Hale Haven when the Red Haven wasn't available, and it's not a good choice for places that have hot summers and Japanese Beetles, because the fruit hangs on the tree all summer long and ripens in the fall. There are just too many things that can happen to peaches during those extra two or three months. Red Haven ripens in early July, which is perfect, because I'm only busy harvesting berries and cherries then. By the time the Japanese beetles are in full swing, Red Haven peaches will be already in jars in the pantry. Red Havens peel easily, are freestone, and keep their color well if they are peeled into a gallon of water that has a tablespoon each of salt and vinegar in the water. When the water will not hold any more peach slices, I add just one cup of sugar, then ladle into jars without draining. This becomes the "syrup" they are canned in. There should be more than enough to fill seven jars, which is a canner-load. I think there are bigger canners that hold nine quart jars, and there might even be enough for that. We think that the addition of this small amount of salt, vinegar, and sugar enhances the taste, but it could be left out if you prefer some other way to prevent the peaches from darkening in the jar. You could use ascorbic acid, or even dissolve a 1000-mg vitamin-C tablet into the water you drop your peach slices into after they are peeled. Whatever you do, your peaches will be prettier and store longer if you keep the jars in a dark place.
I have never had a decent harvest off that Hale Haven peach tree, but I've had enough to know the skin and the pit are hard to remove. When the Red Haven starts producing good, I will cut the Hale Haven down. Maybe I'll do it this summer, if it gets that dang fungus again. I bought some Liqui-Cop and sprayed it and the grape arbor, but I won't know if it has helped till spring comes and things start leafing out.
I am looking forward with hope to a first crop off the new BraeStar apple tree that I bought from Stark Brothers' Nursery two years ago. First crops are always small, only enough to enjoy fresh, but they are the promise of things to come. This should be a good "keeping apple". It needs a pollinator, and I do have the two apple trees that came from ArborDay.org. One was supposed to be a Golden Delicious and the other was supposed to be a Red, which would've been perfect for the BraeStar. But I've had a few apples from these trees and they're definitely some other variety. They are big round dark red apples that have a bit of pink tinge in the flesh. I thought maybe a Rome? More mealy than crisp, though. They had a lot of flowers last spring but I only ended up with three apples on one and one on the other, and so they probably need a pollinator, too. Here's the word "hope" again, I hope it'll turn out that the BraeStar will pollinate them and vice-versa. If not, I guess I'll have to buy a tree that will. *Sigh*. So far, a good-sized investment made and not a lot to show for it.
When I ordered trees from ArborDay, several people told me that I was making a mistake, that the trees would be very small and I would wait forever for them to start bearing. I found that the trees that they gave away as "bonus", were, indeed, very small. And many did not survive. But they were the free trees. The trees I paid for were probably three years old. But in almost every case so far, the fruit has not been of the variety that they are supposed to be. I would've been better off, since economy was a consideration, buying fruit trees at The Big Box Stores. I don't find that fruit trees bought at local nurseries are any better quality, and I suspect they both come from the same source, anyway. Many times I will order from Stark's Nursery in Missouri because I'm pretty sure they grow their own trees. Not sure, because when a 3-In-One plum tree reverted to it's rootstock, I called to find out what the rootstock was that they had used, and they didn't know. It turns out, the rootstock was a tree that made dark mahogany leaves, and when covered in pink flowers, it was quite beautiful. In the absence of a late frost, the tree made small peaches, which were freestone and easy to peel. I turned those into some really good peach marmalade one year. Unfortunately, the tree contracted borers and had to be torn out. But there is a nice-sized volunteer from the germination of one of the peach pits, out in the garden. All is not lost.
This is now Monday.
It's 16ºF. this morning and only expected to get to 28 for the high. Hubs and I decided to light another fire in the fireplace insert and just "hole in" for today. It's not a necessity, the roads are not bad. We're lazy and looking for an excuse today. Although I must admit, there are times when I go outside in the weather and I can just FEEL the muscles in my knee contracting and this is one of them. I'll play the radio later on and maybe I will try dancing a little. I love to dance. Hubs and I used to be part of a Country Line Dance group that would go different places together. Now and then we'd dance for certain organizations, but it was mostly just for fun. If you look at people's faces when they are dancing, they are always smiling. Then Hubs' knees went south and by the time his new knees were working good, I was having trouble. Now, I'm not even sure if they still get together anymore. Most of them, including our teacher, were our age or older. But I kept the instruction sheets that were handed out and those I can't remember, I can relearn from the instructions.
I love it when the local newsfolk do pieces that will make us smile. Smiling is important, did you know that? I read somewhere that if you will smile, even when you feel like you haven't got anything to smile about, it will make you feel better. But anyway, today's little newsclip was at a ballgame somewhere, the person they'd paid to sing the National Anthem got caught in traffic, so a security guard stepped up and did a fine job. In fact, better than some paid singers have done in the past. Our National Anthem is very hard to sing without screeching.
We had a "free trial" of the Showtime channel for the weekend and Hubs binge-watched. Not that he isn't in front of that TV nearly every waking moment, anyway. Let's just say he stayed awake more. This is kind of a sore spot between him and me, but I gave up on it long ago. He has always been a TV-watcher. When we were newly married and didn't have a TV, he was so bored he'd sit in a chair in front of the window and peer out at the people coming and going through the slats of the blinds. "Red Flag, Red Flag!", as they say. Ah, well, I could've done worse. Some of the girls I went to school with ended up with husbands that drank until they were alcoholics, or they couldn't seem to hold down a job, or they were abusive. Some of these girls got the Bingo card with a guy that did all three. When Hubs was a working man, he was a welder. It was a hot job for 30 Oklahoma summers in an un-air-conditioned environment, standing on concrete in steel-toe boots and welder's leathers, every day, very rarely taking a sick day because he didn't get paid for it. I guess he's done his time.
But anyway, I've watched a few of these movies with him and have enjoyed them. One was "The Giver", and it was about a futuristic community that was developed after the survival of remnants from some calamity. They had a lot of strange rules. The area surrounding the community was all in fog and they said there was nothing out there. It had to do with a young man who had graduated from school and when he got his assigned position in the community, he was to be given memories of the distant past no one had except "The Giver", who would be training him to be the next "Giver" in line. About midway into the movie I realized I'd read the book, long ago, and apparently somehow I'd missed a key piece of information in the reading, because the way it ended left me hanging and I didn't understand it at all. But this movie cleared that all up. And another time we watched "The Imitation Game" and I found that very interesting. It was a true story about Alan Turing. I looked him up later on the Internet and found a picture of him. Benedict Cumberbatch played the part of him in the movie, and looked very much like him. I had seen him the day before on the movie: August: Osage County, which was filmed in Osage County, Oklahoma, not so very long ago. Osage County is also where Ree Drummond lives and writes her cooking blog, The Pioneer Woman. And by the way, the last time we were in Pawhuska, her big combined office building, commercial kitchen, and retail shop was still not finished. I'm sure there'll be a big announcement when it is. But anyway, I found myself pretty stressed and worn out after watching this movie, because it felt a lot like "going back in time" with my own family, to me. I felt like I had LIVED Julia Roberts' part. Maybe my sisters would not agree, though I must admit, a couple of times I thought I saw glimmers of them in the parts played by the other actresses. Consequently I failed to see why the movie earned so much acclaim, but maybe stressed reactions were what they were going for, I don't know. Here's my opinion about movies: If they are entertaining, or they make you think, they are worth your time if you have the time to spend. If they depress, repulse or fill you with dread, they are not. Because you can get that for free, just by living life. And THAT is what fills the waiting rooms of every psychologist from here to Kingdom Come.
A free Heal Your Gut Summit is being offered on the Grow, Prepare, and Preserve Your Own Medicine blog on my sidebar. It starts this Monday, January 18. I've registered. I hate referring to it as the "gut", that's such a crude term for something so crucial to good health. They ought to call it something better. I'd vote for "Your Processing System", or EVEN "Your Elimination System". We have all been raised to think of the "by-products" our bodies produce as horrible and nasty, and of course if you've ever had to clean up accidents or change diapers, especially of adults, your nose will signal your brain and the brain will produce this reaction all on it's own. But we need to recognize that this is an important, life-or-death process. You know how they say, "If Mama Ain't Happy, Ain't NOBODY Happy"? Well, your large intestine IS your body's MAMA. Maybe we should just call it Yomama or something. Heh. Keep in mind, this Summit is kind of "The Foot In The Door" for sales of certain products, and you'll get some emails urging you to buy stuff, but if you want to, you can unsubscribe once the week of free presentations is over. (PS: I've been listening to the first day's presentations and so far most of what I'm getting out of it is that it's a campaign against over-prescription of antibiotics and overuse of Nsaids. I've been having trouble getting videos to load so I've just had to listen to the audio versions. I don't know.... somehow I feel I'm being pitched to.... So that's the caveat as far as I'm concerned, maybe I'll feel better about it later on.... Just so ya know.)
Well, that's about all I have for this time, so I will get this published. I'll have a Garden post before too long, as I'm starting seeds and such now. I just heard a screech-owl outside! More to smile about.
"Nothing new can come into your life if you cannot be grateful for what you have." Amen.
Have a good week. Hugs xoxoxo