Unless I find a great buy on sweet potatoes, I think we’re finished with the canning for 2021! My family should get fat from our produce!!
All eight rows of potatoes have been dug and now in storage. We have 10 bushel for sale and the storage bin in the cellar is loaded!
And now we deal with all the apples!!
We’ll be making cider in another month!! Fresh apple juice for breakfast and lunch!
Mother Nature was very good to us this year on the farm. We had late frost but most of the fruit trees were in full bloom prior to the frost.
We had sour cherries in abundance this spring as well and the Mr. got his favorite sour cherry pies.
The red plum trees were loaded and I’ve also got lots of strawberries to snack on. If all goes well next spring I may have enough strawberries to make freezer jam.
And then the early peaches came in. They’re beautiful with a sweet rich taste but they’re not “cling free” so it took a bit of carving to get them off their seed. I canned 12 quarts and have white peaches that should be ripe in late August.
The apples yet to be ready will help fill the cellar with apple juice, sliced apples for baking and for crisps and apple butter. Of course, my favorite Wolf River for pies and breakfast!!!
The blackberries are starting to turn and we got three gallon of black raspberries which went in the freezer. The grapevines are full and we haven’t had grapes for three years. The rhubarb was in abundance as well but I didn’t store any of it this year.
I love it when Mother Nature provides so much for us!! We still have a full summer yet to work and fill the pantries!
I’ve been cleaning out and reorganizing our three freezers. We have an over abundance of applesauce in pint containers even though we didn’t have many apples to harvest in 2019. We are getting low on apple butter so I remedied the situation! Two batches cleared out 20 pints of applesauce from the smallest freezer and now we have over 30 pints of applesauce in the cellar. I made these two batches with cinnamon and cloves. Good stuff!
I thawed the applesauce and filled the crockpot as full as I could get it. I added two cups of sugar and turned the crockpot to high and let it cook all day. Stirring the pot is essential because it will get thick on the bottom of the crock. I also kept the lid on the crockpot during the cooking. The applesauce will start turning brown about half way through the cooking. About one hour before you think it’s thick enough to suit you, remove the lid, stir thoroughly and drop your flavoring oils. I have a very small eyedropper I use that’s about two inches long and I filled it up with oil of cinnamon and about half full of the oil of cloves. Squeeze the dropper of the oil on the top of the applesauce and then stir throughly again and let cook at least one half hour longer without the lid on. Done! Pour it into the clean jars and seal while the applebutter is hot. The jars will seal from the boiling fruit!!
I just took some empty jars to the cellar and took an accounting of what is left from summer 2016 canning.
We have a huge pile of potatoes leftover and will probably sell them in the coming months. I’ll can about 15-20 quarts but the rest will go in the garden for seed and we’ll eat some more until they start sprouting. They’re bakers and peeling size and have been so good throughout the winter.
Hubby has plowed the garden and we’re hoping we’ll get some spring rain on it before we disk it up for planting.
It also seems to get bigger each year!!! This year we’ll plan the usual crops of green beans, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, squash, broccoli, brussel sprouts, melons, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, and in the fall some turnips and field greens.
Hope your planting season is grand and praying we have an abundant season this year. In the coming weeks I’ll be cleaning off the various asparagus patches we have and watching the rhubarb show its sprouts already. I had six grape vines started new last year and they all survived but one. I bought this red grape to replace it.
We also went to Food Lion yesterday and bought three dwarf apple trees for the orchard at the mansion.
Nope, canning season is not over and believe it or not I’m glad. I’ve been canning half-gallons of apple juice all morning!
Our orchards did not bare much for us this year due to the frigid spring and heavy frost when the trees were budding and flowering. I love a glass of juice when I first get up in the mornings and apple juice is one of my favorites right up there with grape juice. We decided we would have to purchase some apples to make me some juice.
Eddie and I ventured over to Botetourt County last week and picked up six 70-lb. sacks of their cider apples. The day we arrived to pick them up they were sorting Red Delicious and they were beautiful Out of 420 pounds of apples we may have found a dozen with rotten spots.
On Tuesday, our daughter was off from work and came up to press apples with us. We cleaned up the cider press, washed the apples, and started pressing all of the wonderful juice out of the apples.
We finished the seventy pounds with two 12 gallon milk cans full of juice and a bowl full of apples left over to eat and make some apple bars.
We stored the cans in our garage until this morning so it would stay ice-cold and so the settlements squished into the juice would settle to the bottom of the can.
I washed up all of the half gallons jars and sterilized them for the juice. Eddie went to the garage and poured the juice gently into large stainless steel pots and brought them to the kitchen. I heated the juice just to boiling and poured it into the hot jars. placed the lids on and tighten them for canning. The jars were too tall to fit any of my canners so we used our turkey cooker for the job and it held five half-gallon jars.
After placing the filled jars in the “canner”, I filled it with hot water almost covering the jars, turned the heat up to high and waited for it to start boiling. Once the boiling started, I timed the process for 25 minutes and when completed I turned off the stove and let the boiling stop. I then picked up the jars and placed them on a heavy towel on my kitchen table (away from drafts) so they could seal. We have twenty half-gallons which should last through most of the winter.
The difference in the quart and half-gallon jar is shown here.
We saved the sacks the apples were in to use next year when picking our own apples if Mother Nature cooperates, bagging onions, drying walnuts or anything else we may need them for.
The apple peelings filled up one big galvanized bath tub and four five gallon buckets. We feed them to each of the three herds of cattle and our bulls. The extra milkcan of juice will harden to cider which we also love. If there’s any that gets too hard, I’ll let it turn to vinegar and store it in jugs in the cellar.
I just put some apple bars in the oven and I’ll share the recipe if it turns out well since it’s a new one for me!
There’s rarely anything that goes to waste on our farm. This does NOT end the canning season either!!!! I killed a really nice 7-point buck yesterday and the hams will be cubed and canned early in the next week.
Our chestnut season is over though and we sold 35+ pounds of those this week and saved about 10 pounds for ourselves to snack on.
Until next time. . . .
Every spring I try to add 2-4 new fruit trees to our dwindling orchards. The past few years have been apples and peaches. My daughter got me two new cherry trees for our anniversary and they’ve been planted in the back of the apple orchard and fenced to keep the deer from eating them up. Last year I planted four new grape vines along with some English walnut trees . All of the grapes have survived but I lost one walnut tree.
This year I ordered two Green Gage Plum trees and two Black Tartarian Cherry trees from Aaron’s Farm (http://www.aaronsfarm.com/) . The plum trees are three years old and about four feet tall and the cherry trees are three years old and 5-6 feet tall. The were shipped bare root and pre-pruned. We set them out yesterday evening and watered them well which I will continue to do daily until we get some rain and there after as needed daily or weekly depending on the moisture in the ground.
The Green Gage plum tree is an ancient European plum descendant that has been extensively grown and propagated in England and France since the 1700’s. My grandparents had these plums on their farm in Paint Bank, VA for years when I was a young child and we would eat them until they ran out our ears. I’ve not seen any for years and have been looking for them for about five years and lucked out with Aaron’s Farms this spring. I can’t wait to have some “green gages” in a couple of years. Green Gage plums are green-skinned when completely ripe with a pink overlay at the base of the fruit when tree ripened. The flavor is deliciously sweet with a slight sour taste to the skin.
The black cherries are my husbands favorite and most of the cherry trees on our farm have died or only produce pea size cherries. I’m hoping these will bring back some good memories especially when I make him some cherry pies in a couple of years.
That wonderful venison that we enjoy all year round is starting to tease a little. This year will be the last year that my granddaughter can enjoy the early youth season and she’s getting a little of the buck fever that we’ve all had. Here’s some photos of those starting to graze the pastures and clean up the falling apples in the orchards.
These are nice young deer and will be beauties if left to grow a few more years. With the size of the youngsters, the young does will work fine when it comes to filling the freezer and the canning jars. Sassy should hopefully have plenty of jerky to last her through the winter months too. That dog loves her venison jerky! We have two and a half months to wait until bow season comes in and in the meantime we’ll put out the trail cams and watch the fields and orchards. We even have a few surprises for the poachers this year!!
Everything was either coming out with bloom or full of bloom and we had two nights of frost around the 15th of May. The English walnut and pecan were burnt bad. Some of the apples, peach, cherries and pears were blooming really full and got the frost but we may still have a little fruit. Last night we had frost but not heavy and it didn’t hurt the tomatoes but hubby expects it again tonight.
We’ve been so busy the last few weeks and it seems like months since I last blogged and I’m trying to make up for lost time tonight. Bear with me and I promise you’ll understand before this weekend is over.
We have three apple orchards on our farm and all used to be full of old timey apples. Time, neglect and the weather have really been hard on the trees. Each fall we try to have a Sunday Cider Fest and decided if we didn’t do something about replenishing the trees that have died or been uprooted by the wind that we would have to start buying apples to continue the tradition.
We’ve replaced about 10 trees in the last two years and I’ve been trying my hand at grafting with not much success. I think the problem was trying to graft to trees that were not in the ground and established. Two years ago I started taking classes offered by the county extension office to learn how to graft. At each class I’ve obtained 10-15 apple root stocks for semi-dwarf trees.
Since I haven’t had much luck with the grafting, Hubby and I decided I need to make sure the root stock was going to live. When I got the root stock it was bare root and it was too much stress on the grafts competing with the trees trying to get established. We put all of the stock in large pots with fertilized soil and made sure they got plenty of water throughout the summer. We did this for two summers and during the winter took the trees (30 trees) into the mansion basement to keep the winter wind from beating them out of the pots.
Last month we started bringing them out for some daily sun and acclimating them to the cooler weather. Last weekend we planted the first 15 in the orchard at the west barn.
Hubby used the post hole digger on the tractor to drill the holes and then we had some heavy rains which was great for getting the water to settle the holes and get the water down where the roots would need them.
We set out thirteen more yesterday afternoon and now we wait. Our biggest challenge will be the deer!! The trees that we set out last weekend have already felt the damage of deer. Each one of the trees lower limbs had been eaten off. To keep them from completing the damage we will have to make woven wire cages to go about two feet around and out from each tree. We tried the plastic pipe around them last year and the mice did the damage then. Apparently they thought the pipe was a good place to set up housekeeping and chewed the bark off at the base of the tree and killed them. So MICE and DEER are on my hit list at the moment!!
In June of this past summer, we had lots of tree and fence damage from the “duratio” that hit our farm. I’ve never seen such wind and we were very lucky that we had no more damage than we did. We did loose several apple trees and hubby has been working hard since that wind storm to get things back in order.
Hubby started the clean up in the orchard today and got all but one of the downed trees cut up and hauled off. It looks kind of bare now but hopefully we’ll fix that. Here’s a picture of the cleaned up orchard as of this afternoon.
We won’t be able to replace those trees with the same type because they were trees grafted by the family years ago. Luckily there are several of the same type in the orchard and I have 30+ apple stock in the cellar that are two years old and ready for grafting. I need to get out soon and cut scion from the trees we have left and when spring truly breaks I’ll get that new stock in the ground, grafted and wrapped and shielded from all the wildlife that love tender buds.
I’m looking forward to another try at grafting myself. Hubby is a real pro at it! I’ve taken the classes but think maybe I try to hard. We’ll see how they fair toward the end of summer and look for new sprouts on the grafts. I LOVE FARMING!!!
Fall is definitely here. We have picked our first apples of the season and not because they were necessarily ready but because the sand hornets (huge ugly yellow bee) had started eating them. We don’t have a lot of apples this year and may not even have enough to do our annual cider press but there were about 30 good apples left on the tree so we decided to get them.
We peeled and sliced them pretty quickly and they’re a very dry apple which I thought would make good apple pies and fried pies.
I cooked them up and they’re beautiful. I didn’t have to press them through a sieve. I put them in airtight freezer containers and froze them for winter goodies. I kept out three cups for breakfast and my applesauce cake which I plan to make now. I’ll share the recipe soon!
September and October are my favorite months in the fall. It’s also the one time of the year that we invite friends, neighbors and family in for some fun on the farm making cider. We have two small apple orchards and if the frost is light in the spring it means we will have apples come fall. We always hope for a bumper crop of apples!!
We have about 30 apple trees on the farm and most are old, old trees that have been here through three or four generations and in the last 20 years haven’t been cared for. We are in the process of grafting about thirty new rootstock in hopes of keeping the orchards for generations to be. The grafts weren’t very successful this year but I’ll try again next spring.
My post is to show the fun we have with our family and friends at least one Sunday afternoon making apple cider. About two weeks before we make the cider I email or call everyone we would like to visit and give them the date and time. We usually have about 20-30 adults and children. Our granddaughter helps to entertain the children and our kids help with the preparations if they can. A few days before the gathering we head out on the tractor gather up 15 – 20 bushel of apples trying to mix some tart and some sweet for the best cider. We have our own cider press and some years back a motor was attached to it and the cider making becomes more fun than hard work.
I plan a small menu for a meal at the house after the cider making is complete. We just have some good old fashioned fun and at times teach someone not as lucky as we are what life is like on the farm!
Once the apples are picked and about an hour before the gathering, we bring out a large galvanized stock tank and fill it with cold water, dump in the apples and give everything a good washing. Mind you, we DO NOT spray our apples at anytime of the year. They’re as natural as can be and if a worm might get in the apple, we figure that some natural protein to add to the juice :)!!
You will hopefully be able to see the REST OF THE STORY in the following photos I’ve taken over the years of our gathering! While you’re at it go to an orchard in the fall. It’ll be the best trip you’ll take all year!!
After all the apples are pressed, we strain the juice through several layers of cheesecloth into those wonderful old milkcans. Then the jugs are filled to the rim and handed out to any and all that would like to have some. Everyone lends hand in the cleanup and then we head to the house to have a meal and drink some fresh cider. Everyone heads home with a full belly and a jug of cider. Those that hang around for awhile sit on the porch to chat or take a spin around the pond in the paddle boat or play a game of badminton or just listen to the quiet (unless the kids are having a good time in the front yard)!
I just finished grafting 24 apple trees and now I sit back and hope the grafts take. Grafting is a tedious job but very rewarding when the graft works and little trees start bearing green leaves. In the past I’ve tried grafting to root stock all ready in the ground but with only a couple good results. My biggest challenge is keeping small birds from lighting on the tips and breaking the graft loose. This year I’ve done things a little differently and I’m going to show everyone interested the step by step instructions with pictures.
First, I got this root stock last spring (2011) and potted it in large flower pots with good potting and garden soil mixed.
They all lived and late last fall I carried them all to the basement of the Mansion (original homeplace name). All of them survived our mild winter and three weeks ago I brought them out of the basement to meet the spring sun and adjust to the outdoors again. Now to the grafting!
First you need to have a few tools on hand and I’ll provide a picture but the list is short:
Grafting tool, pruners, grafting tape, grafting wax, magic markers, ice cream sticks, rags for wiping your hands, alcohol
Some people use a pocket knife for making the graft but a couple years ago I had the opportunity to see a grafting tool used at a class I took. It’s well worth the money because it make “perfect” matches on the root stock to the scion wood (small limb taken from the tree you want a duplicate of). I’ve attached below a picture of the root stock and the scion wood I collected. The alcohol is used to sterilized your tools in the beginning and between each graft.This is the scion wood collected in February and kept in a cool dark spot.
Notice the cuts the grafting tool made in each piece and hopefully you can see how the pieces are cut like a jigsaw puzzle that hooks together. You push the two pieces together and make sure they match good and then tape them tightly together using the grafting tape. Once I’m sure they’re still connecting correctly and tape is tight, I pinch off a piece of grafting wax, work it in my fingers to make soft and pliable and pinch it in a two inch long, flat yellow strip (this stuff is sticky and gooey and hard to work with) and ease it on and around the grafting tape. The grafting wax is horrible to work with but it seals around the tape to keep bugs and germs out of the graft until it takes. Some people use only the tape. Next I mark the ice cream stick with the name of the type tree I grafted to the root stock, stick it in the pot along side the tree and gently carry it outside and sit in the sun where nothing will disturb it. That’s how you graft. Simple as mud, right??
I water the trees well at least once a week and watch for the scion to start making leaves. This won’t happen overnight but check them frequently to make sure nothing disturbs them. In the fall, I’ll take them back to the basement, water well and leave until the next spring and watch the leaves come again. I’m planning to set them in our orchard their second year to make sure they will make it. I’ll also fertilize them once I see growth. Good luck and I’ll post how they’re doing as the year goes on. My grafts this year came from Stark, Mammoth Pippin, Stayman, Gibson Golden, Falle Water, and Transparent trees. The board fence protects them from the wind, they get the sun and birds will perch the fence instead of the grafts.