July was such a fun month thanks to gardening. It has been so much fun for all of us to walk out to the gardens and come back nearly every time with something to eat. The girls and I love snacking on cherry tomatoes and the boys rarely make it inside with the cucumbers they pick!
Paxton had his own section of garden this year and he has had fun harvesting cucumbers, carrots and flowers of his own. He has a cantaloupe that is just about ready and he is very excited about that harvest.
One of our herb harvests. We have had success with basil, sage, oregano, cilantro, dill and lavender this year.
My parents were here in early July and helped us to pressure can our first batch of green beans. This was our first time pressure canning anything and it’s a simple process!
We’ve canned 17 quarts of green beans this summer which isn’t a ton but it’s a good start. I already have plans to plant many more green beans next summer.
We had meat chicks hatch on July 2 and 3. We have 19 of them and they’re doing great, scheduled for processing at the end of August. Click here if you’re interested in purchasing Pasture Raised non-GMO Chicken.
We’ve been rotationally grazing our sheep and it’s so much fun watching them clear pastures. You can see in the above photograph where they had been the day before and how much they ate down.
Speaking of our sheep, which we love, we had a sad day on July 5 when Blossom died. We’re not entirely sure what happened, we found her one afternoon tangled up in the electro netting. All we can figure is she was attempting to escape (as she often did) and was shocked which scared her and she starting fighting the netting and somehow hung herself or maybe died of fright/exhaustion because it was a very hot day. I found her while the kids were inside and had a good cry and then broke the news to the kids. It’s never easy to lose an animal but it’s especially hard to lose your favorites and even harder when it’s a tragic death.
Sweet Cecilia cuddled up with me one afternoon and fell asleep. In moments like this, all the work can wait!
Another harvest! Our cherry tomatoes have done well this year – much better than our other tomatoes. We also had a beautiful patch of black eyed peas (pictured in upper right corner). The plants did great but they take up a lot of space for a fairly small yield so we don’t know if we’ll plant those next year.
One of our batches of salsa made with cherry tomatoes, jalapenos and cilantro from our garden.
Our tomatoes have not done great this year. The plants themselves were all fairly small but they actually put on a lot of fruit. However, the fruits just didn’t ripen well plus we have battled tomato sucker bugs which have damaged some of the tomatoes. We have only canned 7 quarts to date which is disappointing but that’s the reality of first year gardening on soil that needs more rich organic matter added to it.
The kids have been into art lately. It’s amazing what a pack of white copy paper can inspire. They’ve all been drawing all kinds of pictures and it’s been fun to see what they create. Paxton drew this cute picture of our family – including our dog and cat! Love it.
This year we have 2 gardens. We call them the upper garden which is the one in front of the house as you pull into the driveway. The other is called the lower garden which is located in a little valley between the house and barn.
Since this is our first year gardening more traditionally (we gardened in raised beds at our other house), there is a bit of a learning curve and we probably planted too much! But, we were excited and sometimes you learn more from your mistakes so it’s not the worst thing that could happen!
Anyways, I managed to keep the upper garden fairly decent through the beginning of July but the lower garden was nearly taken over by weeds. I worked all during July trying to reclaim the lower garden and it’s looking great but now the upper garden looks more like a weed patch than a garden! You win some, you lose some.
Weston on one of our evening walks to the garden and to visit the animals. He’s holding a basket with some fresh veggies.
On this evening, Weston, Laura and I were looking at the chickens and I looked over to see Cecilia with a pipe through the pig fence. It took me a second to realize that she was trying to scratch the pigs. I watched her for several minutes without saying a word. It was pretty cute. She succeed in giving both of the piglets a scratch.
Weston really enjoys helping me in the kitchen. We had a fairly decent banana pepper harvest that we were able to ferment. He helped me cut the peppers into rings which was a big help.
Zinnias are one of my favorite parts of July! We planted zinnias all over the gardens and property this summer and I just love harvesting them. I keep a fresh bouquet in the kitchen and have enjoyed giving some fresh flowers to friends and Weston’s egg customers.
I made several batches of soaps in July that will be ready to sell in August! I’ve been making soap for a year now and it’s the only soap we’ve been using in the shower and as bathroom and kitchen hand soap. I’ve even been experimenting with shampoo bars which I hope to be able to sell in the future.
I purchased new soap molds this month and am loving the fun flowers and the ability to make layered soaps.
If you’re interested in purchasing soaps, we have several different soaps available at different price points. All of these soaps are made using natural fats/oils and contain no artificial colors or fragrances.
- Old Fashioned Lye $3
- Lye and Oatmeal $3
- Coconut $4
Available in late August:
- Honey Layers $5
- Old Fashioned Lye Flowers $4
- Milk Chocolate $4
We’re looking forward to all that August holds and planning our fall garden.