Sunday, December 31, 2017

Garlic, Cancer, Car Probs = Stress, Revisited #farming

For the balance of the year and the first week of January, 2018, I'm reprinting some popular posts dating back to 2013. Hope you enjoy again or for the first time.
July, 2015

Tortuga Thursday 

In 2012, on the plains of Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.

Oh yeah, one of those weeks.

Frank and helpers.
Harvesting continues in spite of the rain. We finally had a dry day yesterday followed by another today. Makes it much less messy and the mud is drying so the garlic is cleaned easier. BUT with the moisture and the hot weather, all varieties are ready to harvest. Trouble is, we can only move so fast. We recruited three young neighbors for help. As of
Loosen the soil.
today, Inchellium (only softneck we planted), Porcelain Music, and Purple Italian are harvested and curing. We barely got into the Red Chesnok today. Unless we can recruit some more help or we pick up speed (both unlikely), we have six more days of harvesting.

Rusty taking it easy.
In the midst of harvest, Rusty had an

emergency operation to remove his spleen. If we hadn't gotten him to the vet when we did, he would've bled out within the hour. Good news is he's recovering nicely from the operation. Bad news is the lab on the spleen came back as cancer, the most aggressive kind. They didn't see any other tumors or indications when they had him open, but chances are pretty high that it could already have spread. We're going with the low chance of survival. Christie and Frank did research on cancer in dogs and came up with a diet to ward off the evil condition. Rusty is loving his new diet:

Fatty chicken thighs with skin, chopped
Chicken bouillon from boiling the thighs
High fat hamburger
Broccoli, spinach, and zuchinni
Olive Oil

Yogurt and blueberries

We're doing our best to keep him around a couple of more years at least. He'll be twelve in October. And as long as  he feels good, he'll share this life with us.

Me, stringing garlic.
When we got in the car to leave the vet, it wouldn't start. Our mechanic was shut down early for the 4th of July, so the car sat all weekend at the clinic. We had to have a new starter. Gosh, I hate car problems. But we're lucky to have found a great mechanic with reasonable prices.

Wow, didn't mean to rain down nothing but bad news. But it was one of those weeks. This time next week, the garlic should just about all be out of the ground, and we can take a couple of days off to catch our breath before we start cleaning and trimming it. That'll be good! And as you can see, at least one of us in the family enjoys what the rain has done to our street.
Sadi loves mud puddles.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Solstice and Squash Soup (recipe!), Revisited #farming #recipe

For the balance of the year and the first week of January, 2018, I'm reprinting some popular posts dating back to 2013. Hope you enjoy again or for the first time.

December, 2014

Tortuga Thursday 
In 2012, on the plains of Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.

Playing with ribbon can be tricky

Christmas Day. Of course I wrote this in advance since we’ll be in Phoenix at my mom’s celebrating the holiday with family. Most of us have multiple stops today. Frank and I don’t so we’ll hang out at Mom’s and visit as the rest of the family wanders in and out.

Four days ago, we had our Solstice celebration on the farm. It was
The Solstice Fire
even more meaningful, and certainly more fun, with nearly two-year-old Sadi. We didn’t get through the entire fire ceremony since by that time she was overwhelmed with all the day’s activities. No problem. The day had tired all of us.

Sadi's first roasted marshmallow
Part of our Solstice celebration is to have as much of the food we grow ourselves as possible. By December, the choices are fewer. So in addition to a great Irish lamb stew that Frank cooked, Christie made butternut squash (from our fields) soup. The recipe is below. It’s excellent!

Lance is getting some veggies growing in the greenhouse again after the
Still working on it
early hard freeze practically wiped us out. So far we have chard, onions, collard greens and the carrots are still hanging on. It’s not very pretty right now, but it’s a work in progress.

The crows disruption
The garlic has started sprouting, and the crows are a menace. Apparently, they have yanked some of the tiny sprouts from the ground. Whether they are doing it as they dive for bugs or purposely going for garlic, we aren’t totally sure, but two rows are a bit torn up. We invested in a bb/pellet gun. When they come around early morning, Lance pops one with a bb and it clears them out for that day.

We’ve moved the RV to our home away from farm in Tonto Basin. I’ll save that story until next week. I have some good tips if you want to retire on limited funds that you might find interesting.

Butternut Squash
Christie’s Butternut Squash Soup
(this fed four adults, one child, and we had leftovers-our butternut are large)

Two large butternut squash, cut in half and seeds scooped out
½ large onion, diced
(note here: If you want to include some other veggies you may. Christie added a small amount of fresh spinach)
Rice milk (or any milk product you prefer) as needed for a soup consistency
5-6 slices of bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
Spices to your taste:
Curry powder
Black pepper

Bake squash at 400 degrees for one hour and fifteen minutes. Baste with butter occasionally. In a pan, cook the onion and any other veggie you might like in a couple of tbs of butter. Puree cooked butternut in a blender adding the milk of your choice to the consistency desired. Pour into a pan, add seasoning and bacon. Heat for at least ½ hour to blend the spices. Enjoy!

Some Santa's in the RV

Friday, December 29, 2017

All Alone Can Be Scary by Diane Burton


I love Fearless Friday, and today Diane has a fun story that is sure to entertain!

The scariest thing I ever did was to go to Hawaii by myself. That isn’t how the trip started, though. My girlfriend and I were supposed to go together. Then she left earlier to visit friends. I’d met a terrific guy that summer and almost didn’t go. He convinced me that I’d regret it if I didn’t. So, I flew by myself…first time. Upon arrival in Honolulu, my girlfriend told me she was staying with her friends but had booked a hotel for me, just off Waikiki Beach. At $8/night. Can you believe that??? Her friends, who were so nice, offered to take me anywhere on Oahu and invited me to a real luau in their backyard. The food was phenomenal. Still, I was on my own. 

Since my friend had already been to the other islands, except the Big Island, she preferred to stay with her friends, so we would meet up there. I’d never toured anywhere by myself. But, what the heck? I was there, and I’d already booked flights to three islands. I took a bus tour of Kauai. I stayed three days on Maui (again in an $8/night hotel), rented a car, and toured on my own. I even drove the Hana Road by myself. Scary but worth it. My friend met me on Hawaii (the Big Island), again I rented a car, and we had a great time touring. 

I spent two weeks in Hawaii. When I was lonely, I called my boyfriend back home—$15 for the first and third calls, the middle one was $45 (way more than my hotel rooms!). That middle call was after the luau, and I’d woken him in the middle of the night! I knew he was a great guy when he didn’t complain. I had a great time but wished I’d had someone to share the trip with. When I got off the plane back home, he proposed. Told you he was a great guy. That was forty-five years ago. We’re still together. I loved Hawaii, but the only thing missing was being with my guy. I’ll make it back someday. With him, of course. 

Diane Burton’s life has had its ups and downs, but always with her guy. They have two adult children and five grandchildren. They all live in a resort town on the west coast of Michigan, near the Lake Michigan beaches. That resort town served as the model for the locale of her Alex O’Hara mystery series and the Far Haven Tales. Diane also writes science fiction romances. Her heroines are daring and braver than Diane will ever be. Except for that trip to Hawaii. 

Diane’s eleventh and most recent book, Romance Rekindled, is a Christmas double romance, using characters from the Alex O’Hara mysteries.  


Abby Ten Eyck likes her life the way it is. She runs a successful business, has a well-adjusted teenage daughter, and has managed to keep men at bay since her divorce fifteen years ago. Just before Christmas, she’s hit with change. Her mother decides to sell the family home. Then she’s arrested, with an unknown man. Could this new man in her mother’s life create more upheaval? Or could his handsome son be just what Abby needs to revive her dormant feelings? 

Sam Watson embraces transition from frenetic Wall Street to a small Michigan resort town. His health is worth moving close to his dad who seems over the moon in love. But it’s the daughter of his father’s girlfriend who fascinates him. Abby Ten Eyck reminds him of his driven self. He must help her slow down before she burns out. Like he did. 

Amazon  ~  Amazon UK  ~  iBooks  ~  Kobo  ~  Smashwords  

Until January 1st all Diane’s books are either free or half off at Smashwords.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Rotting Onions - a Cure, Revisited #farming

For the balance of the year and the first week of January, 2018, (excluding the 29th when I have a great guest, Diane Burton) I'm reprinting some popular posts dating back to 2013. Hope you enjoy again or for the first time.
July, 2014

Tortuga Thursday
In 2012, on the plains of Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.
Sadi in the cucumbers
Grasshoppers this year are in locust biblical proportions. I exaggerate only slightly. Lance has tried every natural/organic way possible to get rid of them but they thrive. Although we've been much more successful this year at keeping the weeds down in the garden, a few other areas have gone ignored. Weeds harbor grasshoppers as well as other unwanted bugs so I went on the warpath. All good sized weeds met their end. The potatoes are the most bothered.

We had little black bugs and aphids in the greenhouse a month or two
back. A bucket with some water and rotting onions set inside the greenhouse was the cure. Stinks awfully - I guess the bugs don't like it either.

Pickle jar processing
The cucumbers are beautiful this year. The jars of Pirate Pickles look great. We perfected the point at which to harvest so there will be more pickles in each jar. Consistency is important and demanded by the head Pirate, Lance.

Some of our other veggies, like the zucchini, do not get the same manic attention. Most of the zucchini goes in the dogs' food so we aren't that concerned about size. You zucchini lovers out there are probably screaming "what?" but, yes, most of it goes to the dogs.

Giant and normal zucchini
But not all...

Like tonight we had grilled veggies which is about our favorite on Tortuga. If you haven't purchased a grill pan for vegetables, you really should. Tonight we had zucchini, yellow squash, onions, bell peppers, kohlrabi, and patti pan (the patti pan and yellow squash from our neighbors and the rest from our garden). Cut the vegetables in chunks or thick slices, toss in a bowl with olive oil and lemon pepper and grill on the barbecue for about 45 minutes. Sooooo good.

The monsoons continue. The wind is the killer. We've lost about 30% of the cayenne pepper plants to the
Monsoons mean mud
storms. The rain has been great for the crops but the wind is bothersome. We're a windswept prairie. We are very happy to have the rain because the Big Chino Aquifer was in desperate need of replenishing. Wouldn't want the well to go dry.

Butternut Squash Plants