One morning after we let the chickens out, Nathan and I noticed a contingency of monarch butterflies near the coop. I thought they might be migrating, so we investigated in the trees near the grove. Sure enough, on the dead tree by the grove entrance our presence ignited a flurry of 30 or so butterflies from their state of rest! I hope we see more! It was beautiful! I’m glad our little acreage is a stop on their long journey!
The canning count this week is 14 quarts of whole stewed tomatoes, 12 pints of tomato sauce and 5 pints of raspberry jam. We only grow three types of large tomatoes, and the rest of the 25 foot row is all a variety of Roma tomatoes. They have less juice with full flavor and the Italians use them exclusively for making sauce, so I follow the lead of the experts! Dan picks tomatoes every other day and we put them in yellow tubs on a table in the garage to fully ripen. Every morning, Nathan and I sort through them, throwing out any rotten ones for the chickens to nibble on, and putting all the ripe ones in a bin, which we take inside to wash and remove stems and spots. At night they get put through the processor, which strains the pulp and removes the skins and seeds. The next morning I put the pulp in a large pot and cook it down on low until it reaches the desired consistency. Tonight, another pot is full of sauce, this time for spaghetti and pizza sauce–for when I made homemade pizza on Friday Night Fun Night! I also found a recipe for Brushetta preserve with tomatoes, garlic, white wine, and balsamic vinegar to eat on garlic toast with melted mozzarella or parmesan cheese. Yum! I might have to wait until next week to make that, along with a zucchini relish that would use up some zucchini and bell peppers I picked this week. And since we’re set on raspberry jam, I’ll move on to my favorite raspberry-blueberry jam!
Speaking of raspberries, there is a huge black and yellow garden spider in there now too! They are everywhere! Sometimes when I can’t help but let my imagination run wild! Remember that giant spider, Shelob, in the fictional but brilliant Lord of the Rings series? Sometimes I feel like these huge garden spiders are like that giant spider, hunting me for prey! Of course, they’re harmless! In fact, they are great for controlling the garden insect population, and are a sign that the ecology of our garden is a healthy one! It’s just that they’re so….well, big!
In N&N news, Natalie is babbling and talking, and certainly doesn’t want to be left out of anything! I’ve overheard Nathan trying to teach her some lesson, repeating my words. Like, “Don’t eat the grass, Natalie!” and other words of wisdom! He hugs her without being prompted, which just melts my heart, and a second later tries to poke her in the eye! Natalie is getting ready to crawl, but not quite there yet, and any minute a tooth will appear!
Nathan is in pre-potty training. That means, I haven’t gotten too serious about it yet (with all the gardening and canning responsibilities), but we talk about it a lot, and encourage it. So, when we are outside I often let him run around on warm/hot days without a diaper. Saturday evening he was helping Dan scoop old hay and manure out of the front barn. It was so cute seeing him with his little pitch fork, scoop and throw it in the wheelbarrow. He was so proud to be helping Daddy! I put Natalie to bed, and then watched from the kitchen window while I did dishes. Suddenly I glanced up and saw Nathan without any pants on, and I knew what was going down! A few minutes later I saw Dan observing while Nathan squatted. I smiled then came outside to retrieve Nathan for his bedtime routine. I made a big fuss about his poop success. Then Dan showed me how he intentionally left a little trail! He told me he would squat, poop, then get up, take a few steps forward and do it again. Many times! So, there was a nice little trail that Nathan proudly showed me! I praised his efforts and gave him a coin to put in his piggy bank. As Dan and I talked in bed that night, Dan said initially he squatted in the tall grass and then exclaimed, “Grass tickle Nathan!” and then moved to another spot with shorter grass! Dan and I were both laughing in bed recounting the story! Potty training is going to be an adventure!
And that’s the news from this giant-spider-and-poop-trail week on the farm!