Tag Archives: garden

Garden Hot Sauce

It was a good garden year for me. I managed to build a fence that kept the rats with horns deer out of my yarden, so I was able to grow all kinds of fun things. This year I inadvertently planted several different pepper plants. I have big peppers, little peppers, purple peppers, sweet peppers, well…..you get the idea.

This was exciting to me because for the past couple years, I’ve wanted to make my own hot sauce. I come from an area and culture (cough…hipsters….cough) that highly prize hot sauce. Sriracha and/or Tapatio are generally used with every meal, on everything. I’ve always heard how basic and easy hot sauce was to make, so I figured the time was now.

I got into fermenting kinda hardcore this summer.

I got into fermenting kinda hardcore this summer.

I selected a very basic and old recipe for my hot sauce – salt water brine.  Other than the time it takes to ferment, this recipe is super quick and easy! The downside is it does take at least a month to bubble and ferment before you can blend and eat it.

 Fermented Hot Sauce

  • 5% Brine (that is 3 TBSP of salt per 1 quart of water)
  • 1 Tablespoon mustard seed per pound of peppers
  • 1 small head of garlic per pound of peppers
  • 1 pound assorted peppers
  • Sliced onion
  • Grape leaves
See how the brine is cloudy and the peppers have lost their volume? That means it's working!

See how the brine is cloudy and the peppers have lost their volume? That means it’s working!


Place your mustard seed and peeled garlic on the bottom of your jar. Place your rough chopped peppers on top. I like to leave the crowns of the pepper on because I think it adds to the flavor. Layer a few slices of onion on top and then your grape leaf. Cover completely with your brine. You may need add a weight to keep your peppers or onion from sticking up through the water.

Cover your jar with either with a lid and ring or with a wire-bale jar.

I used wild grape leaves on top of a slice on onion to keep everything submerged in the brine.

I used wild grape leaves on top of a slice on onion to keep everything submerged in the brine.

Let your jar ferment for 4 to 5 weeks. Once your peppers are no longer crunchy and the bubbling has stopped, remove the grape leaf and drain your peppers, garlic, onion and mustard away from the brine.

The left is the leftover brine, the right is "the sauce".

The left is the leftover brine, the right is “the sauce”.

Blend your peppers in your food processor, adding the brine to reach your desired consistency. I add a whisper of vinegar and sugar to enhance the flavor. Different vinegars can add an unique finish!

I'm not going to lie - this particular sauce was too hot for me! I gave it to my friends!

I’m not going to lie – this particular sauce was too hot for me! I gave it to my friends!

That’s it! Stick it back in a jar or bottle and keep it in your fridge!

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Mexican Sour Gherkin

My favorite plant center, The Plant Barn, brought these awesome little nuggets called Mexican Sour Gherkins or Mouse Melons, to my attention last summer. Of course it was too late to plant them, so I had to wait almost a whole year before I could finally get my dirty little hands on the seeds!

These, my friends, are Mexican Sour Gherkins!

These, my friends, are Mexican Sour Gherkins!

Much to my unadulterated joy, I was able to both buy seeds and buy the started plant at The Plant Barn. I’m going to tell you a secret. I am a horrible seed starter! When given the chance to buy a plant or start a plant from seed, I’ll buy the plant every time, I don’t care if it is more expensive, they freakin’ live!

The plant like to have a trellis to grow up.

The plant likes to have a trellis to grow up.

I did actually manage to start several plants from seed! They took longer to start growing and producing compared to your normal garden cucumber, but they make up for it because they are unique! They look little like baby watermelons!  It’s fun to give them to kids, it blows their little minds (oh they blew mine too, who am I kidding?).

The plant is fairly prolific, I can pick a handful to munch on, fairly quickly.

The plant is fairly prolific, I can pick a handful to munch on, fairly quickly.

These “melons” do taste like cucumbers you are used to, but just a whisper sour. I haven’t had enough to make bread and butter pickles, but I hear they are delicious that way. I’ve been enjoying them alone, but my favorite is sliced in half and on a salad! They add a surprising little kick!

The guts...

The guts…

If you get the chance to grow these little guys, I highly recommend them! It’s always fun to get some new and exciting things in your garden and they have been a great treat for Silly the teacup pig!

 

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Outside “College” Bench

Like most of us, one of my guilty pleasures is reading the BuzzFeed lists. Of course, my favorites are the ones on food and gardening, like this one.  One item in that post really got my attention:

Photo from http://lenasekine.blogspot.com/2013/08/diy-outdoor-seating.html

Photo from http://lenasekine.blogspot.com/2013/08/diy-outdoor-seating.html

 

This “couch” was perfect for my yarden, and perhaps as a Mother’s or Father’s Day gift? Plus it reminded me of college.

I spend a great amount of time outside in my yarden, and it’s hard to find durable, affordable patio furniture. And since my yarden is a constantly evolving project, I need to be able to move my furniture around, again, this was perfect!

I used the tutorial from The Basement, and it worked great!

 

If you are really nice to the Home Depot workers they will load all this stuff on your cart and in your truck!

If you are really nice to the Home Depot workers they will load all this stuff on your cart and in your truck!

I went down to my local Home Depot and gathered all my materials. You will need:

  • 12 – 8″x8″x16″ cinder blocks
  • 4 – 4x4x10 pieces of lumber
  • Cushions
  • Paint

The lumber and blocks cost $67, the paint was free (I “borrowed” it from my Mom), and the cushions were $30 and it took me mere minutes to set up. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

The hardest part was packing all this stuff into my yarden from the truck.

The hardest part was packing all this stuff into my yarden from the truck.

Make sure your ground is level, or this will not work well at all. Trust me, I learned the hard way.

I assembled it in a jiff!

I assembled it in a jiff!

I’m going to stain this wood, just so it lasts longer.

Add some paint and a wine bottle,  mosquito oil, lamp and you are ready to relax!

Add some paint and a wine bottle, mosquito oil lamp and you are ready to relax!

In the other tutorials they used adhesive to glue the blocks together. I did not do that. I felt like it was sturdy enough, and I plan on moving it around. All in all – I spent about $100 and an hour painting and putting it all together. I felt like it was worth the time and money. In fact I might cut the lumber in half and make “love seat” sizes next!

 

 

 

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They Need Our Help: Seedleaf

Social media is a wonderful thing. I know I say that constantly, but it really is. I met Shannon Mattice Baker on Facebook, even though she lives across the country from me and we’ve never met in real life, I find myself calling her a friend. Her passion for agriculture, and her passion to wanting to pass it on caught my attention. She needs our help. If you have a few bucks to spare, won’t you think about it? This is a wonderful program that we need many, many more of. Thank you!

-Meg

 

Photo from http://www.seedleaf.org/

Photo from http://www.seedleaf.org/

Since 2010 I’ve been working with Seedleaf in Lexington, KY. Seedleaf is a non­profit that nourishes its communities by growing, cooking, sharing, and recycling food, with the intent to increase the amount, affordability, nutritional value, and sustainability of food available to people at risk of hunger in central Kentucky.
I discovered Seedleaf while in college shortly after abandoning my quest to become a dietitian to pursue a degree in Sustainable Agriculture emphasis: food justice. Which is a great story in itself, but for another day.

photo from http://www.seedleaf.org/

photo from http://www.seedleaf.org/

SEEDS (Service Education and Entrepreneurship in Downtown Spaces) is a youth program that targets 5th – 11th grade students living in areas of Lexington, Kentucky that have been identified as food deserts. In an attempt to connect these youth with healthy fresh food, participants are involved in all aspects of growing food in an urban setting.
The first day we gathered in the garden I was so excited because we were going to partake in a tasting tour. I had plotted a path that would have us chomping fresh sugar snaps, sampling the sweetness of baby greens and basking in the simple pleasure of green beans plucked from the vine perfectly warmed by the afternoon sun. My enthusiasm was not shared by the youth. The activity was met with distrust, bad attitudes and darn near mutiny.
Students gain hands ­on experience in growing and caring for a garden, meal preparation, food preservation and nutrition basics. Participants also learn the fundamentals of entrepreneurship as they work to develop a business venture that involves selling their healthy products in their community. It is our goal that the participants will become healthy food ambassadors for their communities.

Photo from http://www.seedleaf.org/

Photo from http://www.seedleaf.org/

These same youth who were sure beets were poisonous and claimed to be food allergic to anything green when the summer began, blew my mind as we prepared the refreshments for our end of the season celebration. They made the most impressive bruschetta I had ever tasted and made it even more amazing by adding some lemon cucumber they had grown because “The tastes of the tomatoes and cucumbers work well together and I think it will make it prettier.”
I have seen these youth make the connection with real food and witnessed how the skills they develop empower them. I’ve helped them fill out job applications and watched them swell with pride when they hear me list skills they have mastered that are not just great life skills, but marketable skills that give them an edge on job opportunities.
We are about to embark on our 5th year of offering SEEDS and need some help. We have an indiegogo campaign to help us raise the funds to support this endeavor. Even a $1 donation gets us a little closer to our goal of reaching out to these youth.

Please go here to donate https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/seeds-keep-growing

 

 

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Lucas Family Bread and Butter Pickles

The best sandwich I've ever made. Because of these pickles.

The best sandwich I’ve ever made. Because of these pickles.

When I was a little girl, most of my great-aunts, grandparents and others from “the greatest generation” were all still alive and active around the ranches. Since I was an only child, growing up on the ranch, these people served as my entertainment and playmates. Of course I didn’t realize how lucky I was then, to have interaction with these people, to learn from them and get to know them.

By the time I was 12, most of them had passed away. It was too late though, my family members left a deep and lasting impression on me. From huge, life altering things, like my passion for the ranch, to little, odd things, like my fierce love of bread and butter pickles.

My great Aunt Mary and I spent a lot of time together. I would walk down to her house after school and we would watch PBS while I rambled on about whatever it is kids talk about. She was an amazing cook that got this picky little kid to eat and like several things my Mom could never get me to eat.

I have a distinct memory of being at her house while she was trying to slice cabbage for coleslaw. At this point she had cancer and was in a lot of pain, but I never remember her complaining about it. I do however, remember asking me to slice up the cabbage for her because she could no longer do it. I felt awfully important and grown up, so when Aunt Mary told me to try the cabbage, I did (not something I normally would have eaten), and I liked it.

I also remember eating hamburger carpaccio at her house, the thought of doing that now makes me want to puke in my mouth, but hey I also drank out of mountain springs with the cows and lived to tell about it. Any way, Aunt Mary made the best bread and butter pickles I have ever had, to this day. They were like no other pickle I had ever had, and for most of my childhood I was spoiled with them.

After Aunt Mary died I realized her pickles were indeed rare, in fact, after years of searching I was fairly certain her pickles were extinct. I was pretty heart broken about it, actually. Until one day, I was talking about these pickles, sharing my memory of them and my second cousin (or something like that), said she remembered her Granny making the same pickles and she had the recipe.

Carrie and Helen were sisters. And they are my great, great aunts.

Carrie and Helen were sisters. And they are my great, great aunts.

Her family and my family are related through the Lucas side. Many of the Lucas sisters married and settled in Indian Valley, and according to my families old pictures stayed close friends. It’s only natural good recipes were shared.

THE recipe.

THE recipe.

I peed my pants a little over the excitement (food makes me happy, I’m not going to lie). After decades of searching for these pickles, after buying jar after disappointing jar, the recipe was so close!!! In fact her Mom texted it to me the next day. I immediately went to our neighbors garden and got some sweet onions, and out to  my garden to wrestle some cucumbers away from Silly Pig and started making the pickles.

Neighbor Pete's onion patch

Neighbor Pete’s onion patch

Know what? They are delicious. And the taste and smell brought back so many memories of standing in Aunt Mary’s kitchen as a little kid, it was wonderful.

The best damn bread and butter pickles you will ever have. The end.

The best damn bread and butter pickles you will ever have. The end.

I used to be a firm believer in secret family recipes, until I lost some secret family recipes. So in the spirit of not letting that happen ever again and because I haven’t seen many recipes like this (others use turmeric, this uses cinnamon), I give you:

The Lucas Family Bread and Butter Recipe. 

1 gallon sliced cucumbers

4 big onions, sliced

1/3 cup pickling salt

1 quart vinegar

3 cups sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon celery seed

1 teaspoon white pepper

3-4 cinnamon bark (sticks, I love old recipes!)

I found slicing the cucs into a gallon pitcher worked well.

I found slicing the cucs into a gallon pitcher worked well.

Soak the cucumbers, onions, and salt in an ice water bath over night. Rinse in cold water.

Ice bath. This is an important step. I don't know why, it's just what I was told.

Ice bath. This is an important step. I don’t know why, it’s just what I was told.

Bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil. I let it boil about 5 minutes. Put about half of the rinse cucumbers and onions in the pickling mixture to scald. Then place in sterilized, hot jars. Do the same with the rest of the cucumbers and onions, making sure to pack them tightly and to remove air bubbles.

The flavor.

The flavor.

Adjust your lids and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Let them “pickle” for about two weeks to really get the full effect.

Since I know this is the best pickle recipe ever, I went ahead and snuck a few of my peppers into a couple of jars. The thought of these pickles with some slight heat to them, almost makes me cry. It’s going to be so good.

If you make these won’t you share with me what you think?

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Tomato Basil Jam

My little garden is kicking some serious garden butt. Now that the deer leave it alone, my green thumb finally has a chance to be green, and it feels good man. Even though I cannot stand fresh tomatoes (go here to read why), I still feel a sense of duty to plant them. I mean, come on, what kind of summer garden doesn’t have a couple tomato plants? Plus they remind me of my Papa.

Anyway, I have so many tomatoes I had to find something to do with them other than make salsa and feed them to Silly pig. Since I am in the middle of my canning obsession, it’s only natural I canned them. I found a recipe that I would actually eat – and out to the garden I went (I love having a garden)!

Fresh tomatoes and basil.  The smell of summer.

Fresh tomatoes and basil. The smell of summer.

Tomato-Basil Jam

from Better Homes and Gardens

2 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled  (I didn’t peel mine because, well, why? I wanted the texture.)

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 cups sugar

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 package powdered fruit pectin or 6 tablespoons powdered fruit pectin

Seed, core and finely chop the tomatoes. They should equal 3 1/2 cups. Place in heavy bottomed pot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Measure 3 1/3 cups tomatoes, return to the pot. Stir in lemon juice and basil.

My seeded, chopped, tomatoes, with the skins on, oops.

My seeded, chopped, tomatoes, with the skins on. And chop your tomatoes a whisper finer than this.

In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup of the sugar and the pectin; stir into the tomato mixture. Bring to a full roiling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the remaining 2 3/4 cups sugar. Return to a full boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim any foam off.

I wish we could share smell via the Internets, because this smelled like a big cup of summer, yum.

I wish we could share smell via the Internets, because this smelled like a big cup of summer, yum.

Ladle hot jam into hot sterilized half-pint canning jars. Leave 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust lids.

Process jars in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes.

I was trying to think ahead with this recipe. I was thinking about the winter, and the rain and how yummy this jam would be on grilled cheese with some soup. It was pretty yummy on regular toast too.

I was trying to think ahead with this recipe. I was thinking about the winter, and the rain and how yummy this jam would be on grilled cheese with some soup. It was pretty yummy on regular toast too.

A few more resources for you:

Tomato Jam (it has apple!) – http://userealbutter.com/2012/09/09/jennies-tomato-jam-recipe/

More information about breeding tomatoes – http://monsantoblog.com/2012/08/10/an-afternoon-with-meg-doug-the-tomato-dude/

An old family recipe – http://www.gratefulprayerthankfulheart.com/2013/04/grandmom-gaskills-tomato-jam.html

More about Monsanto – http://www.lenejohansen.com/?p=863

Food in Jars! – http://foodinjars.com/2010/09/tomato-jam/

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Pickled Beets

This has been the summer of pickling for me. Know that Portlandia sketch?

The one where they pickle everything? Yeah, that is totally me right now. I blame beets. Beets started my whole summer obsession with pickling. You see, we have this neighbor, Pete.

Pete gave me beers and produce. This made me happy.

Pete gave me beers and produce. This made me happy.

Pete has a garden that puts mine to shame, I mean his garden makes me want to cry is it so awesome. And he is very generous with letting me come over and pillage his garden. Every time I go up to our summer ranch, he invites me over and lets me pick produce (like once a week, between my garden and his, I haven’t bought produce in months). Needless to say, I’m a pretty big Pete fan right now.

The first time Pete turned me loose in his garden was after a long day working on the ranch. I had lost both pant legs to eye patches for the cows, I hadn't had a shower, I wasn't wearing make-up and I had eye patch glue all over my hands. Garden time was much needed and very much appreciated!

The first time Pete turned me loose in his garden was after a long day working on the ranch. I had lost both pant legs to eye patches for the cows, I hadn’t had a shower, I wasn’t wearing make-up and I had eye patch glue all over my hands. Garden time was much needed and very much appreciated!

Want to know the really funny thing? I don’t like most of the things I am canning. Actually let me re-phrase that, I didn’t like most of the things.  I finally tried the beets and they were amazing, why didn’t anyone tell me pickled beets are good?

I’ve decided to share some of my pickling recipes. Not that I am making anything that is super rare, or you can’t already find on the internets….

The beets I picked.

The beets I picked.

I got this recipe out of the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. I modified it slightly after lurking a bunch of other recipes. I am very happy with the finished product.

Pickled Beets

(this makes about 6 pints of pickles beets)

3 quarts beets (like 12 big ones)

2 cups white sugar

2 cinnamon sticks

1 Tablespoon whole allspice

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon whole cloves

3 1/2 cup white vinegar

1 1/2 cup reserved water from boiling the beets

This is what you do:

Wash the beets really well.

Silly helped! She tasted the greens to make sure they were good.

Silly helped! She tasted the greens to make sure they were good.

Place them in a large pot and boil until a fork is easily inserted (I cut them in half to shorten the cooking time).

Boiling beets.

Boiling beets.

Once your beets are cooked the skin should slip right off.

Beets remind me of breaking down a carcass. They are so messy and red!

Beets remind me of breaking down a carcass. They are so messy and red!

Slice or cube your beets. Combine all ingredients except the beets, in a large saucepan.

Your pickling mixture.

Your pickling mixture.

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the cinnamon sticks.

Packing warm beets into hot jars.

Packing warm beets into hot jars.

Pack beets into hot jars (I put my sterilized jars in an 180 degree oven and use as needed), leaving 1/4 inch headspace.

Wine helps.

Wine helps.

Ladle hot liquid over the beets, making sure to leave the 1/4 inch headspace. Remove the air bubbles.

Remove the air bubbles and clean the top so you get a seal.

Remove the air bubbles and clean the top so you get a seal.

Adjust the two piece caps.

Hot, clean caps help with a good seal!

Hot, clean caps help with a good seal!

Process pints or quarts (I used pints) for 30 minutes in boiling water.

Make sure you have at least two inches of water covering you processing cans!

Make sure you have at least two inches of water covering you processing cans!

Process for 30 minutes!

Process for 30 minutes!

The older I get the more and more I am realizing how lucky I am/was, to be born into a family that valued canning and pickling. I have wonderful memories of both side of my family canning fruits, vegetables, jams and jellies in the summer. I know many people are intimidated to try and can because it is unfamiliar to them. But you guys, I promise, it’s not really that hard and when you hear that “pop” of the can sealing, it is so worth it! I urge you try it! If you have questions, ask me, I’d love to help!

Pickled beets by me. The fruits of my labor. YUM!

Pickled beets by me. The fruits of my labor. YUM!

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Garden 2013: I’m Gonna Win!

Ahem, if you follow me or this blog with any regularity you have probably noticed I got put on a vegans group’s radar. This particular group had issue with my Adult 4-H: The Last Update post. In fact they said “I can’t sugar coat it, this girl sucks and so does the 4H program! Please contact her and give her an ear full”. Well that resulted in over 100 comments on that post alone, it broke my record for the most views on my blog, and just tried to create all kinds of drama.

This happened.

This happened.

Well needless to say their words were not successful in getting me to convert to veganism nor did it convince me not slaughter the pigs. The whole reason I got the pigs was so I could raise a critically threatened heritage hog, hopefully bringing some attention to the breed (to help save it!). I also like to know how my meat is treated, and by raising my own I ensured they had the best life and death ever. It was my goal that if Dr. Grandin magically appeared out here, she would tell me that I was doing a good job. The icing on the cake was I had three other women that wanted to learn about what I was doing!

My facebook friend Jan Hoadley, posted this to her wall. This is kinda what I'm going for with my garden.

My facebook friend Jan Hoadley, posted this to her wall. This is kinda what I’m going for with my garden.

The last few days have been interesting for me. I dealt with being called all kinds of horrible names by people that have no clue what I am about (and obviously did not even bother to read the blog post). We slaughtered the hogs. I worked on the Ranch and I officially started my garden. The biggest surprise however was after my Dad read through all the comments relating to this blog, even the ones on Facebook, he bought me a present! I think he either felt bad or was impressed with how I handled everything or both. He called me up, after spending a good, long time reading all those nasty comments and said “hey Meg, I have an idea, let’s buy a dog kennel and use that for a deer proof fence”. Ummmmmm, YES!

My zombie apocalypse/deer proof dog kennel.

My zombie apocalypse/deer proof dog kennel.

Last summer the deer drove me insane. All I want in life is to grow my own food, veggies, fruit and meat. All the deer want in life is to eat my veggies and fruit. I spent a small fortune last summer, replacing plants, buying wire, buying anti-deer stuff, chasing them with sticks and screaming, but nothing worked! Finally I gave up and got very sad. The plant sad went away about mid-winter, and I started planning my new deer proof garden. I had asked my Dad a few days ago to help me with building my new deer proof fence. I told him my plan, and he nicely told me he had a better idea. Since he was going to be doing all the building anyway (and he’s built more fence than anyone I know), I was like, OK! Well his first plan did not work because we couldn’t find the right materials. In the meantime, my Dad thought of a better idea – a dog kennel.

Square foot gardening. FWI.

Square foot gardening. FWI.

He loaded me up in his truck and we drove to town. We wanted to buy a Costco dog kennel because they are the best, but they didn’t have any in stock, so we settle for tractor supply company, either way, I was 30000 kinds of excited. My Mom and I assembled it in about 10 minutes and after that, I STARTED PLANTING! I do find it oddly amusing that our animals get to run free but my plants all have to be in cages.

It addition to doing square foot gardening, I am also incorporating aspects of vertical gardening. My vines will be trained up. I did it last year and it worked great, I mean, before the deer attacks.

It addition to doing square foot gardening, I am also incorporating aspects of vertical gardening. My vines will be trained up. I did it last year and it worked great, I mean, before the deer attacks.

Oh you guys, it was glorious. I have the knowledge my plants will be safe from deer, cat bathrooms, chickens, happy dog tails, skunks, and raccoons. I AM GOING TO HAVE A GARDEN. I will be able to eat all my own food this summer! Self-sufficiency feels good.

The seeds I got last summer on my field trip. They are gonna be so good!

The seeds I got last summer on my field trip. They are gonna be so good!

I started a bunch of seeds today in my bathroom greenhouse, in addition to sowing some seeds in my garden. I planted radishes, carrots, green onions, sweet onions. I planted a basil plant, a lemon cucumber plant and a squash too! Don’t forget about the peas and brussel sprouts I started for the Microwaves Kill! Or DO They? blog. In my bathroom greenhouse I started some of the seeds I got from my field trip to Monsanto. I’ve been hoarding those seeds all year, in anticipation of this moment.

New seed starts! New life!

New seed starts! New life!

So stay tuned because now you will be getting garden updates, not as fun as pig updates, but hey I’ll try and make it fun and educational, lol.

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Adult 4-H: The Last Update

It was my last weekend with the pigs. I made the most of it.

When I get sad, I plant things. This is a "cocktail" tree. It has a peach, plum and nectarine all grafted onto one tree.

When I get sad, I plant things. This is a “cocktail” tree. It has a peach, plum and nectarine all grafted onto one tree.


My town job was very stressful last week. So much so that I stress puked at work on Wednesday. I should clarify that I love my job in town and stress myself out because I don’t want to disappoint my bosses (I used to do the same thing before, during and after I worked cattle with my Dad, but I think I have control of that now). Anyway Friday when I go home I went straight out the pig pen with a glass of wine and hung out with the piggies until I felt better.

Pigs make everything better.

Pigs make everything better.


On Saturday my Dad took me to lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant. After we polished off our margaritas, my Dad tried to talk to me about my feelings toward the pigs. Now my Dad is pretty much the most stoic guy I know, he tends not to get attached to anything (he’s softening up in his old age though! He has a bed kitty that he loves deeply (don’t tell him I told you that)). I really appreciated his attempt to make sure I was going to be ok when the pigs are killed. We both acknowledged that I would probably cry on Friday, but that was ok.
The pigs love being sprayed. LOVE IT.

The pigs love being sprayed. LOVE IT.

As you all know the pigs are our “adult 4-H” project. Kristen and Mahina each bought one pig, and I bought two. My friend Shannon, wanted to do adult 4-H, but she was busy with life, law school, and a job, so I told her I would just raise her pig for her, and she could be involved as much or as little as she could handle (she ended up being involved a lot, yay!). When we picked up our pigs, Jamie (our pig connection) gave us Char, who was a runt of a litter. On the ride home from picking up our pigs, Mahina, Kristen and I decided that we would “split” Char.

My Mom made my Uncle a bench to suck up so we can get more almonds.

My Mom made my Uncle a bench to suck up so we can get more almonds.

After a few months into this project, I realized my Parents were doing a lot more work for the pigs than the original “nothing” I had promised. My Dad got us a crapload of pumpkins. My Mom and Dad got feed for us, fixed fence, cooked, picked up almond pieces, and fed for us a lot during the winter when we had no daylight. They also allowed me to do this project and didn’t charge us rent or for water or anything! I planned on giving them half of my pig, but I could tell our family was going to have some major fights over the pork (we don’t share well).

After I realized how much my Parents were doing for us, and how much my Dad really wanted to eat Char, I gave my interest in Char to my Dad. It seemed like an especially good idea after Char rooted up my Dad’s cable TV cable and then to add insult to injury, my Dad tripped in the hole. I figured it’d be hard to be mad at your own pig, right?!? After my Dad got my interest in Char he promised the other girls he would hook them up with some beef in trade for Char. I think it worked out well.

The almond pieces, pigs love them!

The almond pieces, pigs love them!

Sunday my Uncle Steven came over. Steven is responsible for getting me all the organic almond pieces that we have been feeding the pigs as a part of their ration. I really noticed the pigs start to put on weight when Steven started getting us the nuts. And best of all I didn’t have to pay for them! Needless to say Steven is getting some pork from me (I want nuts again next year! I know whose butt I need to kiss). Steven couldn’t believe how big the pigs had gotten since the last time he saw them. I tried to get Steven to load up Char and take him home but he wouldn’t (Char has been a really bad pig lately, escaping and rooting and eating garden plants).

Char the bad pig was "helping" till my garden.

Char the bad pig was “helping” till my garden.

After my Uncle left my Mom pulled me aside and wanted to talk about how I would handle the pig deaths. I said I was probably going to be sad and planned on saying in the house until after they were killed, but after that, I’m going to blog about it. I’m an only child, I get attached to everything including inanimate objects. I can’t help it. But I’ve known this is what these pigs are for, and this isn’t my first time to the rodeo.

I have an illness. I buy too many plants. The deer kill them, every year, but I can't stop!

I have an illness. I buy too many plants. The deer kill them, every year, but I can’t stop!


In anticipation of having a giant pig shaped hole in my heart after next Friday, I woke my garden up. I bought some new trees and plants. I started some early garden plants in my bathroom “greenhouse”. Next weekend I’m going to see if the Intern can come over and intern help me build a fence for keeping those goddamned deer out. Soon I will build my chicken coop and order chicks, and the never-ending cycle of food production will continue.

I have to admit, I am so excited to be producing all of my own meat, eggs and if I can keep the deer away, a lot of my own veggies (and in a couple years stone fruit, pomegranates, citrus and grapes!). Stay tuned, Friday is slaughter day and you know I will be blogging the whole process.

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, family, food, photos, Pigs, Ranch life, Uncategorized

Wordless Wednesday: Our Neighbor’s 50 Pound Cabbage

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Filed under Ag, food, Humor, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized, Wordless Wednesday