The New Century Homesteaders Other Blog

Still Some Summer Hold Outs

The New Century Homesteaders Other BlogI will be the first to admit. I absolutely hate mid- to late fall and winter. All of the winter. People come to the Finger Lakes from all over just to see the changing leaves, while I just see winter around the corner, which is why I am choosing to spend more time in the warm weather, even seriously considering moving all of my work down south.

I miss the gardens, the green, the sunshine and just being able to spend time outdoors without freezing and wearing layer upon layer of clothing in an attempt to keep warm. However, taking a short jaunt over to my parent's camp yesterday, I noticed a little ray of sunshine. Their little rose was still blooming. Despite the 40 degrees and under nights, and cold days, the rose is not only still blooming, but there are a few buds left as well.

Roses

I thought about picking one for a salad, but the flowers brought a brightness to an otherwise dreary surrounding. So I took a picture instead.

Will It or Won't It?

The New Century Homesteaders Other BlogI had to remove a small, maybe 4- or 5-inch sprout from near the base of the trunk of my potted lemon tree. After I removed it, it was so green and straight, it seemed to present a challenge to me ... trying to root it. So, while the cut end was still fresh, I trimmed most of the little leaves off except for near the top, then placed the cutting into a small pot with fresh potting soil.

After giving it a good drink, I brought it inside and set it on the counter top, near a window to see how it goes. Earlier this year I seemed to be having good luck with another cutting I took from the tree, but later lost it due to my own mistakes.

Now, if this tree takes, do I really need another potted lemon tree? No, not really. But if it does take, it will probably be nice to have 2 trees as there really are so many uses for lemons. Especially the meyer lemon, as this tree is. But whether it takes or not, it is fun to give it another try.

Making Cheese

The New Century Homesteaders Other BlogI love feta I love cheese, but especially feta. However, as of late, I cannot fit it into the budget. A few weeks ago, I got a bug to try my hand at cheese. Boy did that bug bite, and bite hard. I became hooked! I made farmer's cheese, ricotta cheese (from the whey) and cheddar. Finally, I tried feta.

The first batch was a bit softer than it should have been, because I actually forgot about it and left the cheese in the brine too long. It was still good. The second batch was PERFECT and my feta cravings have been met. I even made a marinated mix of feta, black olives, dried tomatoes (which I also made) and fresh herbs in a mix of canola and olive oils, similar to a mix I used to purchase but have not been able to find for a few years. I have a few little tweeks, but for the most part, again my cravings have been met.

So what kind of cheese will be next? Who knows. But I guarantee there will be more, including more feta.

Feta

Fresh Feta

Marinated Feta

Marinated Feta

The RV Garden

I finally got my parent's RV garden in for them a little over a week ago. It wasn't easy, trying to miss the seemingly never ending storms and even planting between the raindrops. But, it's in now. However the plants do look as if they have been stressing out with this weather, between the cold to hot then hot to cold, and an overabundance of water. Hopefully, Mother Nature will cooperate a bit and give the little guys a break!

Most people think that when they move to an RV lifestyle, they have to give up gardening all together. That couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, it will be your time to get creative. You can do container gardening or even raised beds, if permissible. You will have to keep things in mind like, how long you will be in one spot and how much space do you have to carry containers, but you'll still be gardening!

Cukes in Last Years RV Garden 

Cukes in last year's RV Garden

Tomatoes in Last Years RV Garden 

Tomatoes in last year's RV Garden

Some of the Other Edibles from the RV Container Garden 

Some of the other edibles from the RV Container Garden.

So if you decide to start residing in an RV, don't leave the garden behind. Change it, shrink it and contain it, but don't leave your favorite past time behind. Embrace a new version of it instead.

I'll be doing more on RV gardening, so keep watch. I'll be posting photos along the way as well.

Veggies in the Flower Garden

Kim PezzaI have started to get the plants out. Right now, I am mixing vegetables with the herbs and flowers around the house. Of course, we are now having a late cold snap, lots of rain and low temps, so I hope that they will come out OK.

There is something fun about having a mixed garden around the house. While most people who walk around it expect to see the typical flowers and ferns, they get a bit excited when they spy a cuke in around the violets, or herbs popping up from the pansies. I have fun with it as well, especially thinking about where each little surprise will go this year. In fact, except for what is already there, as far as flowers (the iris, roses, old fashioned hollyhocks and tulips my grandmother had in and the parrot tulips and bee balm that I put in), anything else that goes in must have some sort of food purpose, even the flowers, although some ferns "volunteered" a few years ago, and to be honest, placed themselves in an otherwise useless area. Perfect! You're hired!

At this point, I am contemplating on whether or not I want to add some of my new strawberry plants around the house, or if I want them all in their own little patch. I'm probably going to do the latter, although a few plants would be nice. Maybe back by the grapes, if they can do well in close proximity to horseradish!

Trying to get this farm re-set-up is going to be a bit of...no...make that a lot of work. I have plans for a small orchard in a side yard that I don't use, and have already planted blueberries in, as well as more garden space, and goat and chicken space. In keeping in mind that I need to consider how I can (or can't) get around in the winter time, I have to arrange things more for that, then I would sometimes prefer. But, if it gets this all back up and running, it works. I wish I had some photos of when my grandparents used to farm it, before grandpa put in all of the Christmas trees, many of those which are near out buildings have to come down because they are now way too tall and dangerous in the high winds. But nice hardwoods are coming in. And my mom has been telling me about what she remembers.

So, on I go. In between writing the books and the blogs, I work around here. And although it is work, it is fun.

Back to Business

Kim PezzaThis is the year that I can get back to work in earnest.  After I shattered my ankle almost 5 years ago (you know you “did it up good” when your orthopedic surgeon says it was one of the worst she has ever seen), it was a long road to getting back to the garden, animals, harvesting and everything else that goes along with the homestead. Although there is still a number of problems, and I will not shed the brace 100%, I can now seriously start looking at getting some small stock again, now that I know what I can and can no longer chase (goats and chickens are still in but, alas and disappointingly, pigs are out), I can put in dwarf fruit trees so ladder work is minimal, and gardens can be raised or they can still be traditional in style. Either is doable.

So, getting a bit excited, I put a few things in a wee bit early. It looked like the good weather was going to hold, so I put in my pansies (for salads and garnishes), a Cherokee Purple Tomato, Early Girl Tomato, Key Largo Pepper and a Hot Portuguese Pepper. I did a long-term weather check, and temps seemed to be holding for the next few weeks. Now, it looks like the cold is returning. (The changeable weather and short garden time in this area really can take some of the fun out of things. It really makes one think long and hard about someplace warmer, with a much longer season and much less changeable weather.) I just hope that if we get a really late frost, that the weatherman announces the warning that day or evening, not the morning after……….

The other fun activity as the gardens start going in, is keeping the barn cats from trampling seeds and seedlings. They are usually not too bad, only about a week before they realize that they can’t sprawl out in the garden area like they do in late fall and early to mid spring. But, I can plan on having to prop up at least one or two plants. And…here they are…. 

First 2 Cat Casualties
First Two “Cat Casualties” 

Two of the Culprits
Little Grey, who had a paw in the pansy trample, and JJ. 

Well, I guess this year will be a bit busier than usual. Not only am I starting over in the farming department, I am also starting over at a new farm. I moved to my grandparent’s old farm. 1840’s house, more acreage, nice pond, but, I have to reclaim some of the land from over grown Christmas trees. It should be an interesting year! Stay Tuned!