Wednesday, September 26, 2012

900 FB fans Little Witch Giveaway!

 As a thank to my Facebook fans/customers i'm giving away this Little Witch bendy doll. She has light brown/auburn hair and brown eyes. She is 3" tall and comes with a broom. She is not intended for children under 3 years. 

To enter  use the rafflecopter below. 
In order for the comment entry to count it must be left on the FB giveaway post.

Good Luck!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Early Frost

 Last night i noticed a frost warning posted by a friend of mine that's in NC.  i've been trying to pay attention to the weather, and knew it was supposed to be dropping down into the low 40's but hadn't seen any mention of frost.  However, as soon as i saw her post i immediately checked my weather.

Frost Advisory from Mon, 1am until Mon, 9am Low of 38.   CRAP!!!!

So i went out and began to pick as much as i could before it got too dark to see.  i was totally unprepared for a frost, as our predicted first frost date isn't until Oct 14th.  i was anticipating (hoping) another 2-3 weeks before  i had to worry about frost.  i didn't attempt to cover anything.  i picked as much as i could, said goodbye to my summer garden and kept my fingers crossed.


 First thing in the morning, i ran outside to see the damage. The frost was just beginning to settle, so i grabbed my hose and began to spray down my sweet potatoes, green beans, peppers and anything else.  i have heard that if you wash away the frost before the sun hits it your plants have a good chance of surviving, as long as temp don't get too cold.  

 As i was spraying the leaves, the water was actually freezing on them.  My zucchini sustained some pretty serious frost burn on most of it's leaves.


 Yet the very center of it, remained untouched by the frost.  It is loaded with baby zucchinis that should be ready to harvest in another week or two. i don't know if they'll continue to grow, or jst wither and die...but they look fine.

i watered the heck out of my sweet potatoes. They also got just a bit of frost burn on a few of the leaves.  i was planning to dig these soon anyhow, but wasn't quite prepared to get them out of the ground today.  If the vines had been completely killed or blacked, these sweet potatoes would have to be dug immediately or risk damage to the tubers. i'm hoping because the majority of the vine is still green and healthy, and there is no sign of another frost this week i should have a few days to dig them.  i'm planning to get them up this weekend. We should have lose to 100lbs of sweet potatoes.

Almost all my basil turned black, and my nasturtiums have just a few black, curled leaves.

Amazingly, my purple pole beans, and my peppers survived with very little damage! i water the crap out them, and a few of pepper plants have burn on the tops of the foliage, but most of them do not. They are still loaded with baby peppers.  The beans don't appear to have been damaged at all.

After that early frost, the temperatures are supposed to be back up in the 80's this week!! i am really hoping to get another couple week in before finally saying goodbye to my late summer garden.

My Autumn garden is hanging in there despite a battle with cabbage worms.  i have broccoli, cauliflowers, Swiss chard, kale, spinach and lettuce doing well.  i had also planted turnips, carrots and beets, but they had a hard time germinating and i'm not sure if i'll get any thing from them. My spinach has hard a slow start this year as well, but i just keep planting it. 

This week i'm volunteering at the school three days, so it doesn't leave much time for anything else. i have three bags of beans to freeze/can and i'm hoping to finish digging potatoes this weekend, and then start cleaning up my main garden. i just hope Mother nature cooperates, she tends to have her own agenda. :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Homestead Progress

Sometimes we get so caught up in our everyday routine that it feels like we are not making any progress to our homestead. We have so many half finished projects, and a list of new ones that are waiting to be started. My summer was filled with gardening, canning, kids and animals.  While my husband works non-stop in his glass shop to pay the bills. Any extra time and money has been going back into the glass shop, leaving a lot of things here at home in need of attention. 

One thing that was a rather big priority for me, was building a simple structure or lean-to for the goats in the main field.  One reason this was necessary, is that the goats needed some shelter from rain when they were out there. This summer it rained almost every day. In fact, it pretty much rained every time i moved the goats from the goat yard, to the goat field. Which means almost everyday this summer,  i had to stop what i was doing  and run outside in the middle of a downpour to move the goats back.  If that isn't frustrating enough, almost every time i got the goats back to their shed, the rain would stop.  i would literally go through this several times a day, as we had a lot of scattered showers come through without any warning and last only a few minutes. This also means i can't leave the goats in the field when i'm not at home, in case it rains.

Another reason this was a main priority is because my goat Delilah is a crack-corn addict. She has completely destroyed the chicken pen around the main chicken coop, and is now working on taking out the smaller pen surrounding the second coop.  i have to separate the birds from the goats in order to feed them, and no matter how many times i have rigged and re-rigged the fencing she is still breaking in and eating all of their food.  She has also destroyed the fence enough that once she gets into the chickens pen she can escape into the yard, and the chickens are getting out. It's really becoming a problem. i am finding myself spending half my day chasing goats and chickens around the yard.   Ideally, i would be moving the goats out to their field before i feed the chickens, but with all the rain we've been having there were many days when the goats we not moved at all.

A third reason we need the lean-to built is so that we can try and establish some grass/clover in the goat pen.  You may remember that we planted it last year, and it looked fabulous in the spring when it all came in. However all the rain of summer literally washed it away and eroded the hill and the goat yard is once again just dirt.  When it rains a lot, that dirt becomes mud...and our goat yard had turned into a rather miserable area. So we really needed to keep the goats out of that area for a while to get some clover planted.

So, this past week i have awoken every morning to goats grazing in my yard. Delilah has managed to break into the chicken pen, and then create a hole in the chicken wire just big enough to squeeze through.  Our yard/woods/gardens are full of plants and trees that are potentially toxic to goats, so each time that she would escape i would spend the next 24 hours worrying, and constantly checking for signs of illness. 

My husband is never home to witness the escaping goats and chickens or the moving goats back and forth all day because of rain, but he was beginning to notice my constant frustration.

So this weekend he took a day off (something he rarely does) and built a lean-to.

 Basic lean-to in progress!  He actually started it on Friday, and then took a break to go to the shop for the rest of the day.

He worked on it again on Sat.  morning, getting the roof nailed on and then the sides.

The goats were very curious about it and had a good time jumping in and out of it while he was trying to get it finished.

By Saturday afternoon it was completed!!  i threw some hay in the back of it and the goats made them selves right at home.  This for me feels like a HUGE check mark off our list of things to do.
    Now that the goats have a larger shelter i can start thinking about breeding Delilah or adding a milk doe to our herd.  The space they have in the goat yard is just barely big enough for the two of them, and definitely isn't big enough to accommodate any more.  This lean-to has plenty of space and if we can get them moved into this field semi-permanently, we can get to work on the other goat yard and structure.

It's nice to finally feel like we are moving forward on a few of our projects again, and i hope to be able to share even more progress before the year is over.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

End of Summer/ Happy Autumn!

i just have to take this moment to say how much i HATE the new blogger platform. 
 Apparently it no longer auto-saves (thanks so much for the warning!!)  After spending all morning on a blog post, i somehow clicked off the page. i'm not even sure how i did it, but there as no warning 'If you leave this page all current progress will be lost'.  Instead i got up to get something for the kids, when i sat back down the page was gone. So i clicked back on the window that was open and it brought me back to my post...except it was completely blank.  All the pictures, text....everything GONE.

So now i'm sitting here, having wasted my entire morning wondering if it is worth re-writing it all. 

Truth's not.

 So instead, i'll leave you with a just a few pictures and a few words. Maybe i'll come back on a different day and write out the full story, but i'm ready to be outside playing and not stuck behind this silly computer. 

We ended our summer with four new surprise peeps. :)

And began our Autumn with five.  The little yellow peep in the center has quite a story to tell, but we'll save that for another day. (having already typed it all out once today) :/

The very last of our summer monarch caterpillars emerged from it's chrysalis and was released on the Autumn Equinox. Something nice about starting the season with new life.


 Our monarch flew away and danced circles around us. Came back several times to visit the flowers before disappearing for good.  She was our last monarch caterpillar to transform.

Now, i am heading outside with the kids to enjoy these days of warm weather and hold on to 'summer' as long as we can. Hopefully i'll get this blogger thing figured out soon with out too much more stress.

i have several draft posts that were started, but not finished and i have no idea how to find them now. There used to be a little button under the post i'm working on that took me to all the posts, but it's gone. i have looked all over the page and i can't find any way to access my past blog posts and drafts. If anyone can tell me how to do that, it would be much appreciated!!  i don't do well with change! Gah!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fall Harvest

 Please bear with me!  Blogger has completely changed their publishing format, and i'm completely lost. i can not figure out how to line everything up, and my pictures are not behaving and i've got weird spacing. It going to take me a while to get this figured out. :(

 My summer garden is beginning to die back now, and my fall garden is just getting started.  Yesterday i spend some time outside cleaning up a lot of the garden.  i pulled all the rest of the bush beans, as the bean beetles had really devastated them.

i picked around 4lbs of purple pole beans and am working to freeze the today. i also picked a handful of the green bush beans and i pulled all of my October beans.  The October beans were not all fully mature, but i shelled them to eat green. Sometimes i leave these on the plants until the pods are brown and dry, then i collect the dry beans. The bean beetles were so bad this year i just pulled them all green.  i still have a huge jar of dried October beans from last year, so i won't be lacking any over the winter.

While cleaning up my front garden, i was surprised to find a couple tomatoes hanging out.  The Black krim still appear to be semi-resistant to the late blight and are covered in green tomatoes.  i found another plant in a different bed, that also had a few tomatoes still on it. i'm still getting lots bell peppers and am wishing i'd planted some other colors like yellow, orange or purple.

i'm still getting tons of leafy greens. Mainly Swiss Chard and Redbor kale.  i ended up with cabbage worms on a lot of my spring kale and pulled it early, but i have new fall plantings in the ground and am hoping i'll have better luck with it this fall.
i'm getting bit frustrated that i can't remove the weird spacing in this post.  Hopefully i will get it figured out eventually, or i'll move my blog to Wordpress...which i probably should have done long ago.  i have a whole bunch of giveaways lined up!  Some of them fit well with my blog, and others not so much.  i think i have a pretty diverse set of readers though, and i just really enjoy giving stuff away!   So you can expect to see some fun new giveaways in the future, including raw honey from my friend Jaime over at Off Grid Homestead

That's it for now, i'm pretty fed up trying to figure out this new layout.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Purple Pole beans- my favorite snap bean variety!

This spring i planted several different variety of beans. i planted Royalty Bush beans, Blue Lake Bush beans, and Purple pole beans. i think i've raved about these pole beans before in other posts, but i'm really amazed by them!!

Both the Royalty purple and the Blue lake were attacked by Mexican bean beetles early on. No matter how often i hand picked the bugs off, there were always more!! The plants matured and produced beans, but then quickly began dying back. i really only got one big harvest from each variety before i pulled and burned the plants.

The Purple pole beans however, have continued to produce all season!! The mexican bean beetles seem to prefer the bush type plants. After they devastated my purple bush and blue lake bush beans, they moved on to the October beans. They are just finally making their way to my Purple pole beans. The plants are still strong and producing like crazy!

Purple pole beans produce a delicate purple flower and grow to over 6 feet! They are a beautiful plant to grow both as an ornamental and as a food crop!

The beans are flat, stringless and incredibly productive. They are a beautiful purple color, but blanch/cook green. They are delicious and i love being able to walk outside all summer long and pick fresh beans for dinner. i really can not say enough wonderful things about these beans!

This is my wall of beans. i planted them on twine between bamboo tee-pees. i really like this trellis set up. i plant cucumbers around the tee-pees, scarlet runner beans at the base of the poles, and purple pole beans on the twine in between the tee pees.

The beans are so productive i've been filling my colander about every other day with more than enough beans for dinner. i have already canned a ton, we've been eating them almost every night and i've been sharing them with the neighbors as well. i'm still getting plenty of beans from my first planting, and i have a second planting that is just beginning to produce!! So i'll be canning beans again in a week or so, and will be harvesting beans up until it frosts.

Because these are climbers, they are great for small space gardening. Mine have easily climbed bamboo poles, the twine between them, chicken wire and goat fencing.

i think some folks do prefer the beans that produce all at once, making it easy for canning or freezing. i would much rather enjoy fresh cooked beans all summer long! So if you have already started planning next years garden, i highly recommend these!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

New work for Sale.

Now that garden season is winding down a bit i've started getting back into crafting. Here a few of the new items i've recently finished.

With Halloween right around the corner, i figured i'd get a head start on some Halloween themed dolls. i've been listing these for sale over on my Facebook page. The blond is available, but the other two are sold. i'll me making more this week though, so if your interested in one let me know color preferences and i'll see what i can do. The witches are $14 with the brooms, or $12 without the broom.

This lovely lady is of course Ruby Gloom inspired. :) She is also Sold, but if you're interested in one similar i can recreate her.

King and Queen set is available for $24 shipped first class (US). They can also be sold individually for $12 each. i'll be making more of these sets in the future in different colors.

Arrrr...matey!! i have pirates!! i have two available, although i'm only posting a picture of this one. The other is posted on my fb page. He is lacking the goatee and eye patch but is just as cute. They are both for sale on my FB page for $12 each.

Lastly i have two dragons available. One is black with purple accents, the other is black with red. They are approx. 9" long and 7 1/2" tall. $25 each plus shipping.

There are several other bendys available, you can check my 'for sale' folder to see what is in stock All my bendy dolls are approx. 3" tall without hats and are not recommended for children under 3 years. They are made with with eco-fi felt, wooden beads, cotton embroidery floss and pipe cleaners.

If you see something you like or have a question, feel free to contact me at enchantedtree (at) hotmail dot com.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pickled Red Peppers

We are starting to harvest peppers!! Lots of big beautiful red sweet bell peppers.
i wanted to preserve some, and wasn't sure the best way to do it. i ended up roasting a few and freezing them. i wanted to can some as well, with the recent power outages we had this sping i don't want to get too depend on the freezer.

My pressuring canning guide didn't have any recipes for canning peppers. So i started asking around. A friend passed along this recipe for pickled peppers. It originally came from a canning book, but i don't have the name of it to give credit.

Pickled Bell Peppers

7 lbs firm bell peppers
3-1/2 cups sugar
3 cups vinegar (5 percent)
3 cups water
9 cloves garlic
4-1/2 tsp canning or pickling salt
Yield: About 9 pints

Prepare jars and lids according to manufacturers instructions.

Procedure: Wash peppers, cut into quarters, remove cores and seeds, and cut away any blemishes. Slice peppers in strips. Boil sugar, vinegar, and water for 1 minute. Add peppers and bring to a boil. Place 1/2 clove of garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt in each sterile half-pint jar; double the amounts for pint jars. Add pepper strips and cover with hot vinegar mixture, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.

Adjust lids and process , packed hot, half pints or pints 5 a water bath canner.

easy peasy and delicious!!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Monarch Twins update.

Update on our Monarch Twins.
They emerged very early in the morning, and were already drying their wings when i noticed them. i was pretty disappointed that we didn't get to see if they emerged at the exact same time.

They both were stretching and drying their wings, so i know they must have emerged very close to the same time.

i removed them from the container and gave them a bit more room to dry their wings and have a little snack on some fresh flowers before taking flight.

When they were ready we took them outside. Even though it was a bit overcast they immediately took flight. i was lucky to get this picture as they flew off the minute i opened the door.

Later that day while i was in the garden a monarch butterfly soared past. The way that it glided in circles, and seemed to dance in the air made me think perhaps it was one of the butterflies we had released. Monarchs fly as if they are love with life, they seem so carefree and graceful. They fly quite differently than other butterflies, and it truly looks like a dance. This one circled me a few times and lighted upon my arm for just a moment as if to say 'i remember you'.

Then it was off again, flying high above the trees and eventually disappearing. <3

The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough. ~Rabindranath Tagore

Broody hen update and New additions

It's been a while since i've updated on our broody hens and new peeps.
So, my original broody hen the Black Australorp, never did hatch out any eggs. i'm not sure where all her eggs went, but they slowly kept disappearing. i suspect she either accidentally crushed them, or rolled them out of the nesting box when she would get up for food and water. When she was down to two eggs my Speckled Sussex stole the nest from her. She finally gave up after almost two months of trying to hatch out some babies.
The Speckled Sussex took over the nest, but the date that the eggs should have hatched came and went and still no new babies. :(

So of my 4 broody hens who were sitting on over 25 eggs between them, we only ended up with 4 new peeps.

My mama hens have been very protective and made it very difficult to get any pictures of the new babies. Can you see the little guy peeking out? This mama hides out in the raspberry patch with her peep.

It's such a pretty little thing. It has almost all of it's feathers in now. Mama hen won't let me get close, and they are always on the move so it's tough to get a good picture of it.

My sweet black hen still has her three peeps. She keeps them under close watch, and is usually hiding around the morning glories that came up along the fence of my compost bin. They spend a lot of time scratching through it, and can easy hide among the foliage if necessary.

These little ones have their wing, shoulder and tail feathers....but still have a lot of fluff. i love seeing all the feather come in, and watching them change. Still trying to guess the breed of the little brown peep, and curious which are hens and which are roosters. Of course, i'm hoping for all hens. :)

We were really hoping to hatch out some new birds this summer. Several of our girls are getting too old to lay, and we lost a few of our good layers this spring. So when i saw an ad on craigslist for 4 sweet little Easter eggers i fw'd the ad to Kenan who was at work. He replied back that he'd already emailed about them. :)

So this past weekend, we picked up 4 new baby chicks to add to our flock. :)

They are Easter Egger chickens. So should grow up to lay blue-green eggs. i have two Americana already, but one is 'retired' from egg laying. The other is a pretty good layer. We love collecting the blue green eggs though, and would love to have more. i'm really hoping i have one rooster in the bunch so that i can eventually breed out a few more with the blue-green egg trait. i've hatched out a few Americana-cross birds in the past, the rooster being an Old World Game bird, but they just lay plain light brown eggs. It would really be nice to have a hen and rooster pair that were of the same breed.

So, of the four new peeps these three look almost identical. They have blue/black feet and almost identical feather patterning. Their wings feathers are in, but not much else.

The last little guy is the only one with yellow feet. It also has shoulder feather and tail feathers. It's a black grey color, and the feather patterning is completely different from the other three. i'm hoping this indicates that this one is a rooster, and the other three are hens. Although with my luck, this will be the only hen and the other three roosters. i have no idea if the way the feathers come in indicts the sex, but i'm curious to see if there is any correlation.

The kids named this one Happy feet, because of the yellow feet. :)

We've been letting them roam around the yard a bit during the day. Our dog Sookie is an excellent baby sitter. She follows them everywhere and keeps a very close eye on them.

Miss Sage is their other baby sitter/ adoptive mama. She has been so thrilled to get to love on these peeps, since the mama hens won't let her get anywhere near the others .

They seem to love her too. They hop right up on her shoulders and try to snuggle under her hair. Reminding me of how the babies will get under mama hen's wings.

They were completely content to ride around on her back. That's Happy feet on her head. That's his favorite place to sit. :)

These guys are still inside under a heat lamp most of the day, but we've been bring them down to the coop for a few hours in the afternoon. We've been trying to get the used to the other birds, and the other birds used to them. They've done really well so far, and really seem to enjoy their time outside. The other birds have been very curious, but there has been no fighting/ pecking yet. Over the next week i'll increase there time down in the pen and will hopefully be able to move them outside permanently in another week or so once their feather are completely in. As sweet as they are i'm ready to get them out of my house. :)

Tropical Traditions Winner Announced!!

Drum roll please.....

the fam said... 116


Congratulations! i will send you an email later today. You will have 48 hours to respond to my email or a new winner will be chosen! Thank you all who entered!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Harvesting, Foraging and Preserving.

The garden is still producing well, i'm just starting to get peppers but several of my plants are loaded with big red peppers! The purple pole beans are still producing!!! i have a second planting of them that is just starting to bloom, so i'm going to be harvesting beans up until it snows! i'm a bit disappointed with the second and third plantings of squash and cucumbers that i put in. The humidity and cool wet weather just made the conditions too perfect for downy mildew and it has wiped out all my new plants before they really started producing. i should be getting tons of squash and cucumbers again, but instead i'm getting one or two every couple of days that are small and a bit deformed. i'm still getting a tomato here and there from the few plants i didn't pull. The Black Krim and the Amish paste both appear to be somewhat blight resistant. Although they both have a few obvious blight spots on their leaves, the fruit itself isn't showing signs of blight. So it's nice to still get a random tomato to enjoy fresh or on a sandwich.

Some of the wild apple trees around us are ready and my husband went out the other night and picked around 60lbs! These are totally organic and free! This area is blessed with wild apples, blackberries, raspberries etc. i love to be able to forage for foods that we do not grow.

These are the tomatoes that were gifted by some incredibly generous neighbors that live down the road from us. Over 30lbs of really beautiful tomatoes to can!!

So this is what i have been doing this week and why i am behind on posting and crafting! Apple sauce, and pasta sauce!! i told my husband he really needs to build me some food storage shelves in the basement. i'm running out room to store all of my canned goods. i don't have a pantry, and have limited cupboard space. i cleaned out the kids craft supply closet and took over two of the shelves. i have boxes of canned goods just sitting in the basement, and right now they have taken over my all my counter space and kitchen table. :)

i'm hoping to get more apples this week to do a batch of apple butter, and i still have enough tomatoes for one more batch of sauce! It's really exciting to put up so much food that you've grown or gathered yourself. Although we are not yet growing enough food to support ourselves entirely, we are still preserving a lot of food. i haven't purchased store bought tomatoes, pasta sauce or pizza sauce in almost two year. i will not have to buy any blueberries, apple sauce, green beans, sweet potatoes or white potatoes this year either. i have enough onions and garlic to last a few months, although my onions are pretty small so i'm not sure they'll last the entire winter. We are just starting to harvest corn. i didn't plant very much though, so i'm not sure if i'll have enough for freezing or canning. We've been enjoying it every night for dinner though. i have my fall garden in now, so we'll be harvesting lettuces, spinach, leafy greens and broccoli again soon. Hopefully my husband will get some shelves built and i'll be able to get a picture of all my canned/stored food very soon.