We went picking today.

It was a million degrees.  Ok, 95 degrees.

Too hot to stay long.  So we only managed 5 lbs, but we will be back.


Looks like we have a few weeks left in the season.

Our small bag will make a cobbler, a batch of jam and lots of frozen berries for smoothies.


A peek into the bag


Baling Straw

This is what hot looks like.


One load down, three to go.

We helped bale straw today.  My husband ran the baler while the boys and I helped my father in law unload the wagon.

It was 95 degrees today. 


The sweat was pouring off everyone.  

Lots of water breaks and we got most of the wheat straw stacked.


Mike in the skid steer cleaning up the broken bales

I offered to take mike home after the first 2 loads, but he chose to stay and help hay.   Crazy kid.

4H still projects keeping the kids busy over summer.

The kids have a love hate relationship with “still projects”  I ask then to do at least one non-animal project a year.   Just keeps them busy during the summer.

Amanda is doing just a yeast bread book.  Last year she did “Pathways to Culinary Success” and a cookie project.  The pathways book was very time consuming, geared at kids who want a career in food.  It was a good project but made her hesitant to attempt 2 projects this year!

Daniel is “Gun Safety”.  He is enjoying it but would tell you he dislikes all the paperwork.


Daniel target shooting in the yard

Last year he did a fishing project.  Again, liked the fishing, hated the paperwork.

Mike has 3 still projects this year.

“Fun with Flight” is a beginners guide to flight and model airplanes. 


Running with a glider to test wing shape.

He is also doing “Grill Master”  he enjoys grilling and it is giving him confidence that he can cook.


Mike grilling chicken and corn for tonight dinner

His final project is year three of a series of tractor projects. 

This years focus is safe operation of farm equipment.


Mike and his beloved tractors

Busy kids are happy kids!


Garden in full swing

The straw/newspaper combo is very successful so far.   I am pleased. 

Ground stays moist, and zero weeds.

I won’t even mess with landscape fabric next year.


Weed free with zucchini plants taking over

The cucumbers are climbing and blooming.


Leftover cattle panel fencing works well!

The roma tomatoes are the only tomatoes with fruit, but all are loaded with blossoms.


Romas destined to be canned a salsa and sauce

Peppers are starting, my husband has thoughts of canned peppers and sausage stuffed hot peppers.


Hungarian hot peppers being guarded by Fluffy

The only flop?  Carrots planted by Mike.  Almost none came up.


One of the lone carrots

The two things I dont know when to harvest -dill and basil.

How.big are they supposed to get?  I want to make pesto and freeze it.


One of the basil plants. How big do I let it get?


Dill starting to get flowers.

I love this time of year!


A bit closer

Trying to get a bit closer to Chevy, the feeder calf.

Mike decided to work on mother cow first today.

The whole herd wanted a taste of sweet feed.


Today was a bit more successful.  

This was as close as he got to Chevy.


But it only lasted about 20 seconds.

And once again, Chevy was off into the hills.



Garden Re-do

The landscape fabric was a huge flop.

It shredded.  It tore if you even looked at it.  I am not sure why, it was an expensive fabric labeled for use in vegetable and flower beds. 

We had a storm blow through tonight.  This  was the result.


Sad looking garden

So, new attempt.  Laid newspaper covered with straw. 


Hopefully this works better.

I am just hoping the straw doesn’t all blow away!

Any great tips to share?


The wild one

The kids show dairy calves because of their calm personalities. 

But this year Mike was given the chance to show a neighbors beef calf.

This is a  whole new ball game.

We get dairy calves at 24hrs old.  We bottle feed.  No mother cows to deal with. 

Now he has to get the trust of a  month old beef steer calf still nursing on mom in 10 acre pasture.


Mike headed into the pasture with a bucket of sweet feed

He still hadn’t managed to touch Chevy.  (the name Chevy reflects what he is saving his fair money for!)

The closest he has gotten  is about 10yrds before Chevy gets nervous and runs off.


Chevy snuggling next to mom

Mommy cow, thankfully, is mellow and wonderfully indifferent.  She calmly stands still and waits for Mike to dump out a bit of sweet feed for her.


Chevy getting nervous. He is ready to run. mike just stands still, hoping that this time will be different.


And he is off again!

No magical ending this time either.  But tomorrow is another day. 


Chevy stops and watches from a safe distance.

And we have lots more buckets of sweet feed to hopefully entice him close enough.

He has a very sweet face, I hope we earn his trust soon.


Chevy with his black tipped ears. Flies were bad yesterday as it was dry and HOT.


Still in a good mood, after all he its spending the day on his favorite spot on earth, the farm

September fair is only 3 months away!

Any tips? 


Wild Black Raspberries


My favorite local food.  Wild black raspberries are ready!

We pick them in a local park where they grow thick and wild with evil thorns.

You earn every single sweet-tart bite.


The canes are loaded with berries

I came home covered with scratches and only a quart of berries because I forgot my #1 rule of wild berry picking. 

Wear jeans!


Strawberry jam

I am not sure why I feel the need to can and freeze.  But it gives me great satisfaction.

We went strawberry picking this week.  I have never had great luck with growing my own berries (too many bugs) but there is a wonderful fruit farm near us.


Mike was the only one that wanted to come picking.

The fields were beautifully tended to.  I had called ahead and they apologized, the berries were getting small and picked over.

I an not sure what they liked looked last week, but they were large and plentiful!


Does this look picked over?

Mike and I picked for 90 minutes and got 48 quarts!


Each bucket held just under 5 quarts

Then the jam making began.


Kids being goofy while slicing the tops off

We ended up with 42 pints of freezer jam.  They will feel like  jars of summer in December.


We also froze whole berries for  smoothies, loaves of strawberry bread, and had bowls of  fresh berries.  But the jam is my favorite



Few things are more relaxing in the summer evenings then taking kids fishing.  We have a state wildlife area near the house.


Mike casting a line

The area is marshy, full of bugs, fish and turtles. 

I will take a walk while the boys fish, there are some hidden treasures



Wild grapes that I have been keeping an eye on waiting for fall to ripen them


Beautiful wildflowers


Beautiful marsh land views