Last night was lovely. I had a hankering for chinese, so we got carry out from Moo's and ate out on the picnic table. The weather was perfect. I so love it out here, I never want to leave. There is something incredibly peaceful and satisfying just from the simple activity of eating outside here.
Got the rest of the yard mowed today. While wandering around picking up and fallen tree bits that might interfere with mowing, I noticed both of the new suet cages were gone off the pine tree. I was only able to find one of them under the tree, I have no idea what happened to the other one. I'm guessing some really hungry critter hauled it off somewhere?
The neighbor came by while I was mowing out the keyhole in the sanctuary. He offered to mow the whole sanctuary, but I had to tell him no, I was leaving it wild on purpose for the critters. But we got to talking about yardwork, and he offered to let me use one of their little wagons to hitch onto the back of my lawnmower to make hauling stuff around the yard easier. Woot! Not that I don't love using my wheelbarrows and it's good exercise.. But sometimes I get wiped out, and can't quite do all the hauling that needs to be done.
I should have been a good kid and gotten more yardwork done today- hauled the rest of the trimmed cedar down to the pit, start on some other trimming that needs to be done.. and a billion other things. But I said fuck it, I want to do some more berry picking. Took the 2 gallon bucket with me this time. I only got around half full when it started sprinkling- figured it was Mama N's way of telling me it was time to quit. I picked 5 pounds of wild blackberries, yay! The juice this time is going to be used to make syrup. I used 2 cups of water to start with- to help keep the berries from icking out on the bottom before they started breaking down. I tried a different method this time- just using a strainer to get out the main pulp stuff. Puree in the blender first. Thought I might save my hands some staining.. But yeah, that lasted 2 rounds. Left too much juice behind, and I'm going to have to strain the result anyway. So back to no puree and just straining through cheesecloth in the first place again.
I was loving hanging out back there today. There were lots of bumble bees and honey bees out on the the little weedy thistle looking flowers that are all in bloom among the blackberries. Of course I was careful around them and lost several moments just watching them do their business. There were lots of little moths and some butterflies that were floating all around. Stunningly beautiful all in all.
And EEEPPPP!! When I got back in from picking, there was a big ole box on my desk with a happy birthday and smiley face on it- Inside was a really nice 15 inch handled baking stone! Woot! My husband is the most awesome husband ever!! He had ordered it a while back, and it came in. It frigging rocks!
Happy Saturday :)
I made wild blackberry syrup this morning. I yielded 7 cups of juice yesterday- probably would have been a full 8 had I been smart and just gone with the squeezing in the cheesecloth in the first place. But oh well. Most of the syrup recipes out there call for more sugar than juice- I wasn't too keen on that, so I decided to use a 1:1 ratio of juice to sugar. The resulting syrup is a little thin, but that's ok- I can use it in drinks or as a breakfast syrup anyway. I ended up with 9 12oz jars by the time I was done. I have one more small round of picking to go- I want to freeze some up for later use in berry preserves. I might still be able to get back out to Krohne's for late season strawberries, I should probably call them and find out what they got- I might be making up a batch of berry preserves sooner rather than later!
Had to chase into town for cat supplies. While I was at Meijer, I picked up two boxes of pint canning jars- I know darn well apple and pears are almost ripe, and I'm running low on 12 oz jars. Still have plenty of the big jars, but hell, I ain't trying to can up jelly in those things. Though I will use a handful of them to make applesauce. And I think perhaps apple juice too. I got the jars for it, and heaven knows I'll have the apples for it!
Drove around looking for the farmers stands- for all that I saw several of them this spring before season, do ya think I could find any today? Nope. I must have taken a different route this spring than I did today- only hit the couple of them that are big places. Picked up 10 pounds of tomatoes- those are going to get canned up in a couple big jars for winter chili use. I will probably end up picking up a couple more cartons before the season is over since all my tomatoes pretty much entirely puked out. I was also able to pick up a bunch of zucchini super cheap. I shredded up what would fit into the dehydrator and now they are drying up for the pantry. Still got a couple left over that will go into the next batch.
But it's time to go make some dinner- I picked up some pork chops out of the clearance case, and some lovely pittypans to saute.. Some mashed potatoes and we are all set, yum!