The Pickle Train is Crashing

It has been very hot here. Things are drying out even faster this year. We haven’t had more than a light dusting of rain and no decent rain for over a month (until today – hooray!). The vegetable gardens are surviving on my once-a-week hose watering, using water from the garage rain tank with the submersible pump. At the next property I would really, really like a proper irrigation system.

After Christmas it’s all go on the harvesting and preserving front. The days are like a marathon of looking after kids, harvesting, preserving, making dinner and trying to keep the house from looking like a tornado has struck. I’ve done more batches of gherkins and the plums ripened, ready or not. I was determined to properly utilise them this time since we didn’t get any preserved last year. Happily, I’ve gotten one batch of plum chutney made, although it cost me an injury and I may have burnt the bottom of the pot… It tastes ok though!

The Little Fulla was helping me to choose and weigh the ripest plums from a bucket when the bucket fell off the edge of the bench and onto my foot. Fortunately it only had several kgs of plums in it by then and it missed the main bone in my foot. It really hurt though. The males were forced to finish weighing, washing and chopping the plums while I iced my foot. I still had to do the rest of the chutney but I obviously wasn’t on my game properly. The plum chutney is one that can be eaten straight away and everyone likes it, so I’m glad I got it done.

The foot injury meant I missed a planned butchering session as well as watering the garden and other things, so I’ve been catching up since then. I did manage to make some cornbread though. Close to half of the cornmeal I used was ground up from our own dried corn and it turned out fine. This is great news as it means I can grind the rest of our dried corn from last season and use it in baking. I tried making popcorn with it, which failed miserably. It did not pop at all. It just swelled and turned brown.

We got some plum flesh chopped, bagged and into the freezer – enough for either another batch of chutney or for breakfasts through the winter. The plums are all gone now. I bought some apricots while they were on special to make apricot chutney. The person doing my order rung me to check if I actually meant 5kg of apricots or 500g. I meant 5kg. We like our apricot chutney. But then I had to make that too. Two batches of it.

Apricots and onions – must be apricot chutney.

I bought some more 1L Agee preserving jars for a great price, because we didn’t have many that size. With the way the gherkins were going I knew I needed more jars. In previous seasons I have planted six gherkin plants, although one or two inevitably have problems. Six plants is the minimum I would recommend in order to have enough gherkin cucumbers ready to process at the same time. Eight is a better number. This season we have 10 plants and only one is a bit slower due to getting chomped through the fence by chickens. 10 gherkin plants + hot weather = pickling about every 4 days. I just counted up and I’ve bottled 15L of gherkins. Apparently I’m stockpiling gherkins now. Right, no more gherkins. I want off this pickle train! The rest of the gherkins we pick can be eaten fresh or I’m keen to try fermented pickles, which would be less work and actually better for us. I’ve just been doing what I know, which isn’t always the best thing.

The Henry’s Climbing Butter beans have been producing well and are winding down already. The Scarlet Runner Beans are in production and most of the other beans are having their pods left to mature for use as dried beans. We are harvesting dried pods off the bush beans and the first of the climbing beans: Hidatsa Shield Figure, Selugia and Abenaki Pean. The bean plants are struggling to keep going in this heat and dryness. Well, everything is.

The beans are drying out a bit too quickly.

Time to insert some sunflower appreciation.

We are eating fresh tomatoes of some of the varieties now – always a happy occurrence. Unfortunately, the jolly quail are back; chomping at our low tomatoes in the Front Plot and digging up the late corn seeds I sowed. We didn’t have trouble with them last year and they don’t venture into the confines of the main Veggie Garden anymore, but I am trying to think of how to keep them away from the front.

I left the first, beautiful Moonglow tomato to ripen for one more day, and then…
The QUAIL got it. This means war.

We had eaten all our fish so it was time to order more. I buy fish fillets in bulk online from a seafood company and then put them into ziplock bags for freezing. I buy either fresh or frozen depending on what is available and the prices. Keeping an eye out for specials, it is significantly cheaper and fresher than buying fish from the supermarket. Fresh fillets are easier but the frozen fillets are in layers with sheets between them so they can still be separated, if not folded. This time I accidentally ordered bone-in, skin-on fillets – 5kg of them. The Husband was sequestered into helping me deal with the fish. He wasn’t very impressed but he did a great job, of course, and we got everything bagged and into the freezer. What can I say? They were on special.

Butchering of the undesirable cockerels has slowly continued. I’m glad I have less chickens to butcher than last summer as it isn’t easy to fit around a baby. Plugging away at it means I haven’t had many to do since The Husband went back to work. He’s just started his jew job. There are only three cockerels left: a big black Morpheus boy from the first batch and two from Batch #3, a blue Judith boy and a black Jemima boy. The first two are my favourites and have been for a while. The black Jemima boy is next on my butchering list but I haven’t decided who will be joining him. There are three broody black hens all of a sudden so I need to sort them out.

With numbers cut in the main flock, the five oldest pullets got to join them. The Little Fulla helped me catch them in their pen and I looked them over before loosing them on Featherburn Lodge. I’m still weighing up which girls to sell. Their body shapes and combs develop more slowly than the boys. We have five blue girls left in the pullet pen too.

The fur child decided to contribute to the madness by bringing a live mouse into the house. Again. It was like de ja vu. The mouse disappeared. When I pulled the curtains in the living room in the evening the mouse dropped down. We tried to corner it but it disappeared. Some days later I spied cat biscuits and mouse poop behind the washing machine. We moved a trap in there. It has not been caught yet.

One thought on “The Pickle Train is Crashing

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s