This Delicious Life.

Hey you guys!

Whew! The days slipped away from me for a while. A couple of weeks have passed since my last post. Time to catch up on the homestead happenings here at Wildwood Acres!
The kids & I just returned home from our final trip of Summer 2015. Man, have we put the miles on the old wagon this year! For an entire week, our souls were nourished with love & faithful adoration from our dear Ohio family.  We soaked up every second of togetherness swimming with the cousins, horseback riding, soccer games, tractor explorations, apple picking, pie baking, bluegrass music, bonfires, a sunset shrimp boil, backyard dance parties & delectable desserts! Seriously, how can you top that agenda? That’s what I call a delicious summer sendoff.
The only downside to our trip was leaving my hard-working hunk behind. It is the one unpleasant aspect of setting off on these summertime excursions. But after 20 (or so) years of surviving the ebb & flow of Josh’s outdoor maintenance career, I’ve learned that it’s just the nature of the beast.  The spring & summer chaos that accompanies the landscape industry is inevitable. Especially living amidst a vacation destination where beachside resorts always need new color installed in the landscapes & irrigation systems are constantly on the fritz. As hectic as Josh’s schedule is during the balmy seasons, he is remarkably efficient at what he does allowing for weekends filled with family time, basking on the beach or tackling projects here at the homestead. In truth it’s a small sacrifice as the tradeoff is ever so sweet. Josh is doing what he loves, excelling in his chosen career and in turn, I feel like I’m getting to embrace my life’s dream as well. We’re both living our passions. And there’s always something to look forward to. For example, as much as we dislike watching the days get shorter and summer’s blossoms begin to shrivel, we are humbled by the blessings that accompany every passing season.  Upon autumn’s arrival the noose loosens & a work/life balance is restored 5 fold for Josh. Our family settles in for new seasons filled with crackling fires, warm sips & fresh baked yums. Our hearts are fed well and our spirits are equally sustained by the hibernation mode brought forth during the cold winter months. It’s not always a calm family flow, (after all soccer, homework, etc.) but there’s more time spent together in the glowing ambience of home. And that’s always a welcome change. (Until about mid February when cabin fever settles in, the girls begin plotting one another’s demise, I find myself actively seeking escape routes & Josh starts playing in the soil of our house plants to fulfill his angst caused by the lack of dirt in his life.)
Anyway… Our tomato plants are still producing & our okra has found its second wind with a nice harvest on the horizon. My fall bush beans are finally stretching out & our newly planted peas are popping with pride. The summer green beans are barely hanging on and our cukes are becoming fewer with each passing day. I discovered my turtle friend munching on one of our 3 remaining watermelons yesterday evening & without warning, our cantaloupe went from being “kind of tasty!” to “OMG this is like candy!” to “I’m all tuckered out… Bye.” Suffice to say many of our garden vines are tired, their leaves turning crispy, golden & brown as the dog days of summer are gradually winding down. I harvested the last of the blueberries the week before we left for Ohio & canned several more quarts of pie filling, jam & drizzle. I cannot believe how long those blueberries fed us this summer! It was epic. They started coming on hot & heavy around the 4th of July & we feasted on them in every form  (in salsa, salads, ice cream & oatmeal, pies, muffins, jams, smoothies, juices, etc) all the way through the 2nd week of August. What a gift! The figs are still kicking & they’re as plump & as tasty as ever! I’ve mastered the art of canning fig preserves & I’m currently working on a couple of new concoctions & recipes that may or may not be given as Christmas gifts this year.  I’ve failed twice & succeeded thrice. So I guess we’ll see how it all shakes out in the end.
With 4 green bells & a handful of chili peppers left in the garden, I’ve completely given up on my pepper harvest this year. It’s interesting because when I gardened in the city I could barely grow 2 tomatoes, but my peppers flourished. I grew more than I could handle of every variety. I was secretly leaving pablanos, jalapenos & Cali gold’s on the porches of random neighbors throughout the hood. Now I’m in the country & I have every type of tomato flourishing, while my peppers started pooping out before the season ever got started! It’s all just a big experiment, I guess. I love it all, the success & the failures alike make me giddy. I might be the only gardener in the world who gets excited about a failed pepper patch simply because it means I get to explore & research potential solutions to the problem this winter.
In other news the chickens are all laying now & the eggs (although still rather small) are absolutely delicious! I’m so over the moon with this entire process. When you have a baby you begin to know what their cries are for. There’s the “tired cry” or the “hurt cry”, the “hungry cry” & the “scared cry”… Well, I’m seriously learning my chicken’s cries these days. It sounds crazy, but it’s true. I know when a girl is laying & I know when my rooster’s are rallying the troops… “Where are you my hens?” He crows with fervor. A friend shared the idea that chickens are “gateway livestock”.. Cracked me right up! Will it be sheep, goats, llamas or cows next? Your guess is as good as ours at this point. But man, it’s fun to dream & plan.
And finally, thanks to the ginormously massive, moss covered, vibrantly lush, leafy green thumb my husband sports on the daily, I’m delighted to be enjoying all sorts of new perennials situated all over our property. He has cleaned up so many of the scrub trees & pruned some of our beauties around the perimeter. I’m pretty sure that when the kids and I leave town, he immediately smears dirt all over his person, covers himself in foliage & arms himself with an arsenal of augers, chainsaws, freshly sharpened hedge trimmers, trowels & shovels. I envision him spending his days and nights digging holes, root toning random branches & singing to his shrubbery. The man genuinely digs gardening. Pun intended.  And it shows beautifully around the homestead right now. For that & so much more, I am grateful.
And that’s the latest from Wildwood Acres!

ABOVE: My nephew Thatcher & niece Norah helped me pick gobs of apples. That evening we made a pie with our harvest. They were both such a big help. I’m convinced Thatcher might be an aspiring chef. He truly loved the process of mixing & measuring & rolling the crust. He was so proud. Sweet memories with my Ohio babies.

ABOVE: Spent some time thumbing through old family photos & Genealogy books with Gram & the girls, my sister Shelley & her kids. It was so cool to learn about our great, great Cherokee Indian Grands.

 

ABOVE: Jasper & Pa at the 2nd annual Farm Fest at Manpower Park in Jackson. He was loving all the big tires & & farm animals & equipment.

 

Above: Boiling down my last batch of blueberries for the summer. These were canned for a berry drizzle. Perfect on pancakes or to mix into warm oatmeal this winter.

Above: My first ever batch of fig preserves. Hand picked & canned with love. They will surely lend a taste of summer during the cold months.

 

ABOVE: Our first two eggs. Few weeks later & we’re averaging 3 per day.

ABOVE: A recent harvest.

 


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