The blackberries are aplenty right now. We picked 2 1/2 qrts on Sunday, 4 qrts on Tuesday, and 4 more qrts tonight. The kids’ excitement has completely worn off by now though. Isaac brought a book while Abigail brought her positive outlook ;). My Dad (and sometimes I) used to pick blackberries along the logging roads near the house when I was younger. I am sure I always had a positive attitude. Anyhow, we have canned 27 half-pints of jam and 5 pints of syrup so far! I think we will make a bunch more into syrup for pancakes since we probably have enough jam to last until next year. I see some blackberry homemade ice cream in our future too! Speaking of that, Isaac and I discovered that a little jam (before pectin) tastes awesome on ice cream. I don’t care much for ice cream so I just get a little dab of ice cream and a heap of syrup. I don’t know what we are going to do if the picking continues to be as strong. I just can’t bear to see the food go to waste. For the first time, we noticed how much poison ivy is in the berry patch. I am not sure how we missed it before but we are hoping that we didn’t bring any of it home with us as well.
Isaac and Abigail’s aunt and uncle got them a rain guage for Christmas this year and they have been fascinated by it ever since. Abigail in particular checks it for rainfall and then empties it everyday on our way to school. Well, this has been an active year for her to say the least. I looked at the NOAA site for information on how much rain we have gotten this year. Charleston averages 44.05 inches of rain per year and July is typically the wettest month with an average of 4.86 inches. From January 1 until June 30, we got 26.28 inches, above the average of 21.98 inches for the same period. Last year we only got 15.65 inches in the first half of the year. July is looking like it will continue this year’s wet trend. Our rain guage measured 1.7 inches from yesterday’s rainfall though the official measurement for the day was 1.16 (officially we got 1.54 the day before also). Anyhow, it seems so strange to get so much rain since we have been pretty dry (it seems) the last bunch of years. I prefer the green grass compared to the brown grass of last year but it is not welcome inside my house. The basement has some wet spots. Fortunately, it has floor drains too!
As you may have experienced, my initial domain name, buzz-honey.com has been up and down and generally all screwed up. I registered the domain with yahoo in 2005 and had been chugging along with them just paying $8.95 per year to keep the site/name active. This year, I noticed that they planned to raise the rate to $34.95 per year. I decided to transfer my registration to another service which is supposed to be an easy process. I signed up with namecheap.com to transfer my domain and crossed my fingers. I had to get the transfer password from yahoo so I called them and asked what to do. They said I needed to cancel my service with yahoo in order for the transfer to take place. I argued with the technician thinking that it can’t be a good thing to cancel with them. He assured me that it was the only way to make the transfer happen and that my site would continue to exist as-is until the transfer. Foolishly, I cancelled my yahoo account and within 2 hours, buzz-honey was down. Only slightly irritated, I called yahoo back and asked them what happened. The next technician said that cancelling the yahoo account made them drop the domain and move it to melbourne-it, the company in Australia that they use to register domains. I gave this technician the name of the first technician and asked him to inform/reprimand him. Anyhow, I then began the chore of contacting melbourne-it. Not wanting to make an international phone call, I foolishly decided to send them an email…and then another…and then another. I got no response until 3 days later. Even then, the response was a canned blurb. I was pretty irritated by this point so I purchased the new domain name for this blog from namecheap.com hoping to get something back up and running. Nameheap did a great job, was quick to respond, had online chat support, etc. I definitely recommend them. Anyhow, 6 days passed between domain transfer initiation to completetion. Apparently that is not too bad as I have read stories of transfers taking much longer. Still, it is unacceptable for a domain name transfer to be this much of a problem. Take heed!
Blackberries are going full steam right now. Late this afternoon, we headed for the berry patch. Most of us went to pick. Isaac informed us he was not there to pick…he
was there to eat. I think he ate his fill because he pitched in and picked a bunch of berries as well. Both kids were a tremendous help in the berry patch. We intend to return to it on Tuesday evening and every couple of days as long as the berries hold out.
After about an hour of picking, we got 4 and a half quarts of berries. As soon as we got home, Abigail, Emily and I started making jam. We got a total of 9 half-pint jars of jam. We’re really enjoying canning our harvest. Emily and I both have a lot of fun doing it and have decided it is our favorite hobby to do together.
We saw a couple of cool things while at the berry patch too. When we first walked up, we happened upon a deer eating OUR BERRIES!. Isaac scared her off of course. The other cool thing we saw was a 6-foot black snake. Isaac wanted to pet it but the snake had other plans. We’ll keep an eye out for him next time!
We went swimming with some friends at the Charleston Tennis Club today. We’d never been to their facilities before but the pool area is very nice. Anyhow, about 15 minutes after we got there, we heard thunder and had to clear the pool. We grabbed some snacks and decided to wait it out. We tried the water again and were cleared by thunder before our teeth began to chatter. At the end of this storm, a young hawk flew in and landed on the diving board. We were able to walk to within arms length of it which was pretty neat. Eventually, he just flew off and we hit the pool again. A third round of thunder came through and we decided to heard for the house. Somehow we were able to get sunburned so it wasn’t a total wash. Speaking of wash, we couldn’t when we got home. The feeder line that serves our road was leaking like crazy. The water company was able to fix it pretty quickly but we were without water for an hour or two. Water was our problem today!
What an Independence Day! Isaac and I walked in the woods with some friends this morning and had a lot of fun discovering all sorts of things while Emily and Abigail worked around the house. We started some ribs smoking around lunch in preparation for a 4th of July feast at supper time. Bud and Donna came over and ate ribs and corn and salad and taters and Hinora’s Stuff with us. Hmm…what is Hinora’s stuff? Here’s the core recipe (add whatever else is garden fresh):
1 diced, unpeeled potato per person
1 green pepper
3 small green onions
1 tbsp butter
1 yellow squash
2 cloves of garlic
half a small head of cabbage
1 green tomato
Cut it all up, pitch it in a skillet and fry till tender. It sounds so-so and looks so-so but tastes SO, SO good!
We messed around after eating until the city fireworks started. We headed outside and watched about 5 minutes’ worth until the rain poured. Some of us endured the rain and viewed it as a much needed shower. As the finale wrapped up, our teeth reached full chatter, our boots were filled with water and the rain stopped…perfect timing as usual!
Emily and Abigail walked past the compter while the pipe screen-saver was active. Abigail said, “oh look, Daddy’s computer is teaching him more about plumbing!” Come to think of it, by looking at my actual plumbing, I can see where she might think she discovered the source of my plumbing knowledge!
Tonight we harvested the Music garlic we planted last October. I ordered Music, Hardy German, and Chesnock Red varieties of garlic from Seed Savers Exchange last fall. I had no idea there were different varieties of garlic. I figured that there was just the white stuff from the grocery store…little did I know! So, we planted several types figuring we’d decide what we like by taste!
Last fall, we opened the garlic bulbs and separated the cloves. Each clove gets planted and will develop into its own head of garlic by the next summer. The three varieties we got are hard-necked varieties (in honor of my wife…wait, she’s stiff-necked). I have no idea how they differ from soft-necked varieties aside from their necks. Anyhow, all-told, we planted about 45-50 cloves and each produced. We have a lot of garlic. Fortunately, we love it and eat a lot too. Over the course of the year, we will likely eat every bit of it.
The cool thing is that we will save our best bulbs of the types we like and plant them again this fall!
We have an old Lawnboy 2-cycle mower that has been passed around the family for hundreds of years. It has been a great mower but it became unreliable on our watch. We decided to go shopping for a new mower and had hoped to find something easy to push on our crazy hills. I had been looking at various reel mowers but had never used one. We decided to look into it as we shopped. We found a fairly light one made by Scott’s and figured we’d try it.
It gives an awesome cut! It is easier to push than our motorzied mower and doesn’t make me smell of exhaust afterwards. The best part is that it cost only $82 compared to $250 or more for the motorized ones. It produces no pollutants and costsus nothing in gas money. The only weakness we have found so far is that it does not do great with those weed things that stick up way above the grass. I think we are going to go shopping for a weed-whip this weekend to remedy that problem.