Schmidt Homestead

Our new home in Woodburn, IL

Monday, August 20, 2007

The chickens escaped from their pen on Saturday. It was quite an ordeal to get them back in their tractor!

We made spaghetti sauce with some of our tomatoes yesterday, and it turned out pretty good. We have lots more tomatoes, and they’re ripening very fast. We tore out and replanted some green beans and pumpkins yesterday. Hopefully we’ll get a second harvest out of them.

It’s cooled off some in the last few days – highs around 90. We got 0.1” of rain Saturday night, and its raining again right now, so the garden should be happier that it’s been for several weeks.

The mammoth sunflowers are really cool. They’re about 10’ tall, with about 2” - 3” diameter stalks at the base. Most of them are drooping from the weight of the flower. I can't believe the hundreds, possibly thousands of seeds in EACH flower! We have about 20 mammoth sunflowers, and a bunch of regular sized ones in different colors. We thought that the birds would steal all our seeds, but they have barely touched them. We’re going to harvest the flower heads as they begin to dry out, and we’ll dry the seeds to use in our bird feeders this winter. We’ll also keep some to plant next year. We’ve actually had sunflowers growing around one of our bird feeders from seeds that the birds dropped on the ground!

We picked our first watermelon. It was very good, but small – only about 10” diameter. Our cantaloupes are larger than that! I ate a half a watermelon for breakfast, and the other half was polished off by Steve and the dogs (they loved it) before lunch. The small ones are kind of nice, because we can finish the whole thing at once and don’t have to put a cut watermelon in the fridge with saran wrap.

We aren’t impressed by the canned green beans. The flavor is good, but they’re very soft and mushy. We decided to stick with freezing them – we like the product better and it’s much easier to do. The dogs went to the vet last week, and they were both up to 80 lbs (we try to keep them at 75). They got put back on the green bean diet, so guess who’s eating the mushy canned green beans! They don’t care that they’re mushy, in fact they try to lick inside the jar when I’m scooping some into their bowls!

Friday, August 17, 2007

I noticed last night that the vines on our decorative gourds had dried up, so I picked them.

The cantaloupes are big, but still green, and I’m thinking about picking the largest watermelon to see how they’re doing.

The heat finally broke here yesterday. We had record highs Tuesday and Wednesday (Wednesday was the hottest day in 23 years at 105!). A front moved thru yesterday that brought sprinkles and temps around 80 at lunchtime. Today and the rest of the weekend are supposed to have highs around 90. It almost feels like fall… Almost. We’re going to try to get some outdoor things done this weekend. We’ve been putting things off since it’s been so hot for the last few weeks. I didn't know that chickens could pant!

Monday, August 13, 2007

The weekend was very hot here, so we were only able to get outside in the early morning and late evening. I’m trying to make a dent in the weeds that have overgrown our tomatoes – some are almost as tall as me! I’ve made it about half-way through, and they look lots better. I’ve had to add some new stakes, because some of the plants were only held up by the weeds that surrounded them! We’re getting a couple of regular tomatoes and a dozen or so cherry & grape tomatoes each day, so it won’t be long before we’re swamped in tomatoes.

Our earliest patch of green beans has finished producing, so I’m going to try to rip them out this week and plant some more. We may be able to get a second harvest in before it gets too cold this fall.

The horseflies here have become a problem. It’s usually just one horsefly at a time, but they circle our heads and land on our backs and drive us crazy. Stacy is our designated horsefly chaser – she tries her heart out, but isn’t very successful. I’m trying to get her to chase the horseflies that are circling MY head, rather than just hers. So far she just sits there looking at me like “Hey, there’s a bug flying around your head!”

We had our first rain in about 3 weeks last night. We only got 0.2” here, but Emily said we got over a half inch in St. Louis. A few more showers like that, and everything might turn back to green.

Monday, August 6, 2007

We picked our first corn this weekend. The first batch was really good, but the second batch was over-ripe. We’re trying to figure out when is the perfect time to pick them, but we haven’t worked it out yet.

Saturday we made 5 more quarts of sweet pickles and froze some shredded squash for zucchini bread. Sunday we froze some green beans and made blackberry jam. The jam is the right consistency, but we haven’t tried any on toast or biscuits yet.

Our dead pepper plants recently started growing again, and they actually have a couple of small peppers on them! We can’t figure it out.

Friday, August 3, 2007

It's DRY here, so we've had to run the sprinklers about every other day. We had a little shower this morning, but I don't think it amounted to much. This weekend is supposed to be hot and humid. We may stay inside and work on jam and pickles.