On Monday the sun disappeared with the partial eclipse; on Wednesday the skies opened up. We had a half inch of rain in about twenty minutes, plus a pounding of hail that probably didn’t get measured. We almost never get standing water-this time we had puddles all the way to the south fence, the driest part of our property that never gets irrigated. The dogs were in heaven. Wyatt would bark at the thunder and they would chase each other through the puddles until the next bolt of lightning. If we’d had fruit on the trees, we would have had something to worry about. Since we didn’t, we just marveled at the power of nature. At one point it had nearly stopped at our place but I could hear and see the hail pounding on our neighbor’s roof about a 100 yards away. A half hour later, the water was gone, the sun came back out, and we were left with a muddy mess of stinky, tired, happy dogs.
Husbandry and gardening: The duck pen clean-out is finished. I made a compost heap in an old kiddie pool, about 4′ across and 4′ high. It took off, internal temperature of 155 degrees F and hasn’t cooled off yet. Once it’s done, there’s another pool full of leftover bedding, ready to be combined with the end-of-season garden waste, like tomato vines, into another pile.
The hail pounded the tomatoes and corn, but everything seems to have bounced back. The pole beans are flowering and should start to produce about the time the bush beans give out. I’ve replanted some greens for fall and have more to plant once I make room.
Ben the turkey tom looks terrible. It’s temporary, he’s only molting, but he has lost all his tail feathers and isn’t strutting so much these days. The young turkeys are growing fast now, they are almost to the size of Tom’s pair of adult females. I assembled four new supers for our beehives for when we get around to checking on the bees. All the other animals are doing great.
Food, harvest and preserving: Harvest season is ramping up. We are eating artichokes, green beans, cucumbers, summer squash and all the herbs I want. My shallots from last year are still in good shape, and I’m trying to use them up instead of buying more onions, such a luxury problem.
R bought a box of peach, which we peeled and froze for a wine-making project when the temperatures cool off a bit in the house. I’ve been picking, blanching and freezing extra bush beans every 3-4 days. And I finally weighed the garlic before putting it away: over 10 pounds. I see loads of roasted garlic heads on the winter menu this year.
As far as the annual zucchini glut, I think I have found a solution. When we bought the dehydrator last year, I had read in the manual that summer squash weren’t great candidates for drying. This year I decided to study and test out that assumption a little further. When I found Hank Shaw had a traditional Sicilian recipe for dried zucchini, I knew I was on the right track. I’m ok if rehydrated zucchini isn’t the same as fresh, so long as it’s good, kind of like how marinated artichokes don’t much resemble fresh but are delicious in different dishes.
So I did a test run of dried zucchini noodles, cut on my ancient mandolin. That mandolin is so old, it says “Made in W. Germany.” I julienned the squashes (we grow both regular and yellow zucchini) in both regular thin strands and a much thicker, almost french fry cut, then salted them to release water for about an hour. After their trip through the dehydrator, I used them for dinner. Instead of rehydrating them separately, I stirred them directly into some reheating spaghetti sauce. The flavor was great, and the texture from the larger shreds was just fine. The smaller julienne seemed to just disappear in the sauce. Since then, I’ve dehydrated all the extra squash before they’ve grown too huge, and no one need fear having me shove zucchini in the cars when they visit. I’ve kept up a little too well, in fact and I need to set some aside to try Shaw’s recipe.
Other projects: There is a plan to get over to Richfield to gather materials for fall projects, but we keep putting it off.
Community: I finished the grant for the town’s tree planting project. Two different sets of friends from Salt Lake dropped by, one bearing tomatoes and eggplant (thanks Al!). We had a little dinner party for Robert’s band after their performance for Entrada on Saturday night
Creativity and recreation: My mandolin teacher has assigned me to start playing with the community band, but we have to change my lesson times so it doesn’t conflict.
Next week: Get over to Richfield for supplies, keep freezing and dehydrating, look in on the bees and decide how much honey we can take.
Seasonal observations: The morning light comes directly into the east-facing kitchen window at sunrise now, and the shadows from the cottonwood trees hit the front porch an hour earlier each night. These are the easy days at the end of summer, a little more sleep, a little less heat, baby critters growing fast, kids back in school. The barn swallows are done with nesting but are still here. Carson spends hours trying to herd them around the house. Wyatt sneaks away every chance he gets to play in our neighbors’ irrigation water and comes back soaked, smelling of horse manure and thoroughly self-satisfied. He’s growing out of his puppy stage too fast. His ears are about to stand up and he’ll be a grown up dog. I don’t want to rush through this part, his puppyhood or my favorite time of year.