Minnesota midget cantaloupe

Minnesota midget cantaloupe

It’s been a hot and humid week and because of it I haven’t spent much time out in the garden. The garden, however, is at the point where it needs no help from me other than to keep it watered and weeded. The watering happened but the weeding did not because it was just too uncomfortable to be outdoors for any length of time.

The good news is, the heat has finally brought our cantaloupe to ripeness. We have two chilling in the fridge and two more almost ripe still on the vine. And all those green tomatoes? Still green but finally starting to blush. Well, not blush exactly since they are cherokee purple, but you know what I mean.

Are you wondering about the crabapple jelly? Turns out it takes a bit of time to cut up crabapples and boil them and then let the juice drain through cheesecloth. And you don’t end up getting all that much juice, at least not from the amount of apples we had. So we have about a pint of juice in a jar in the refrigerator. Tomorrow we will get it out and boil it up, add sugar and spice and hope for the best.

Also tomorrow we will be attempting sweet zucchini relish. Just like cucumber pickle relish only with zucchini instead. I will report back next week on our success or failure.

It is also apple picking time! And all I can say is, thank goodness for this long Labor

Our single ear of popcorn dry and ready to pop

Our single ear of popcorn dry and ready to pop

Day holiday weekend! Because tomorrow we will also be picking apples from our green apple tree. We’ll fire up the crockpot and start making apple butter and applesauce. Which reminds me, I still have a container of gooseberries in my freezer. I have to cook those up into jam sometime. But since they are frozen, they can wait a bit until after the rush of everything else.

Of the two sunflowers we had bags over, one was raided by squirrels and lost. The other, I rescued just in time! I cut the head off and it is now in the house drying upside down in a paper bag. The flower on the ten-foot tall sunflower has actually gotten pretty large. We cannot reach it without a ladder. Bookman thinks it is safe, I know otherwise. It is not ready to cut down, the seeds are still not all developed, so who gets it first, us or the squirrels remains to be seen.

Meanwhile in the chicken garden…

Our chain link fence was installed during the week. It looks really nice. In the spring I’ll be moving some shrubs we got this spring out to the part of the fence that runs along the alley. The idea is to form a screening hedge. The shrubs that will go there are elderberry, serviceberry, and flowering quince. I also have a prairie rosebush to plant along the fence that goes from the alley into our yard. And, Bookman and I loved the black raspberries from our small garden patch so much that I am planning on planting more of them along the fence because I am greedy that way.

Lovely new fence

Lovely new fence

As you can see from the photo we have covered over the sand with wood chips. This keeps weeds from growing and the wood will also decompose, albeit slowly, to improve the soil so we will actually be able to grow things in it. After all the leaves fall from the trees in a month I am also half inclined to ask my neighbor, who bags up his leaves for the city to take away, if I can have some of them to spread out on top of the wood chips. Leaves decompose faster than wood chips and between the two I might actually end up with a thin layer of loam over the sand by next May. I want so badly to plant a cheery tree there in may, but I might have to wait another year so it is possible the area will be a “field” or amaranth, popcorn, pole beans and pumpkins which in itself will be fun.

Today Bookman and I took our list of chicken coop supplies to the home improvement store to investigate what standard lumber sizes are available so we can figure out how much we need of everything. We also looked at insulation, hardware cloth, and windows. We are very happy with what we learned. We will get the final figures together tomorrow. We have decided we will have the lumber delivered instead of renting a truck because it makes Bookman happy to have other people do the loading and loading instead of us. So either tomorrow or sometime during the week, we will go back with out final list and place our order.

Up until today it has all been so abstract and I have been doubting whether or not we could actually build our own coop. But after our expedition I feel much more confident. Our coop plans turn out to work very nicely with standard sized lumber and we won’t have much cutting down to odd sizes to do. Yay us!

Bookman wants to do a time lapse video but I don’t want to have to figure out the filming and editing for such an undertaking so there will be a combination of video and photos, or possibly just photos. We’ll see how it goes once we get started.

What a ride I had yesterday! There was rain, sun, wind, heat, and humidity. I ate quite a few gnats too. The cicadas and crickets were incredibly loud. Some spots of the trail were covered in goose poo. Sometimes the geese were still there and I rode by warily hoping none of them would decide to attack. Since they aren’t nesting it was unlikely, but you just never know with geese.

Because it was raining for about the first two hours of my ride, there was hardly anyone else out. Since it was warm it was quite pleasant and having the trail mostly to myself was marvelous. How marvelous? At one point there was a large deer standing right next to the trail. She looked up as I approached, I slowed down and moved to the other side of the trail, looked at her and told her it was okay, I’m just passing by and she didn’t have to interrupt her breakfast. She tensed up and was thinking about bounding away but decided I wasn’t a threat and stood there watching me as I pedaled carefully by not three-feet (1 m) away from her. She was so beautiful.

Later in the day what I thought was a big twig with leaves on it at the side of the trail turned out to be a snapping turtle on its way across to the lake. It was almost the size of a dinner plate. It paid no attention to me, just went about its business of slowly crossing the trail.

The squirrels are out in force right now, fattening up and collecting stores for winter. They are thick on the trails and thank goodness I managed to not run any of them over. A few of them nearly got up close and personal with my bike tire, but I am glad we missed each other. I’d feel just terrible if I ran one over.

I did however, get beaned by a huge dragonfly. I saw it hovering over the trail ahead of me but it zigged when it should have zagged, bounced off the the inside of my right arm, smacked into my chest, bounced against my left arm, ricocheted off my chest again before finding an exit under my right arm. Since there was no bug spatter on my arms or jersey I’m assuming it escaped shaken up but uninjured.

So much excitement!

This coming Saturday the 12th is the Jesse James Days fun ride. Bookman and I are riding together and it should be, well, fun! The weather is forecast to be sunny with a high of 69F/20C, with the day starting off cooler than that of course. Perfect! The course reportedly goes over some beautiful rural roads. I’ll try to remember to snap some photos. And maybe we will get lucky and be around for one of the re-enactments of the failed 1876 bank robbery that led to the ultimate downfall of Jesse James and his gang!