Canning Is Easy

So we were up at dawn again today.  Aaron’s new work schedule has really changed our internal clocks.  He has to be at work at 6 am and that gets us all up around 4:30.  Even on the weekend it feels like a luxury to wake up at 6!  I went out to the garden around 7 and pulled up a couple of bushels of carrots and sprayed them off.  Took them inside and began the task of canning them.  There is nothing particularly difficult about canning except that you have to make sure to keep things clean, know what you are dealing with in terms of type of produce (acidity determines whether you can water bath them or have to use a pressure canner), and have a full day of uninterrupted time.  The last batch of 20 pints of carrots began depressurizing around 2 o’clock this afternoon.  For those of you who have been following along and want to know how to do this all you need is this book:

canning book

It is kind of the canner’s bible.  It has recipes and instructions, and cooking times.  Up here at 5300 feet we have to add time to both types of canning because water boils at a lower temperature than at sea level.  If you don’t boil them for long enough you can get very sick.

Here is the pressure canner set up out on the deck:

Pressure canner

This was today’s end result:

carrots 2014

Here is a freak carrot that I pulled up today along with the rest of them.  It looks almost like it has tentacles.

freak carrot

I am going to be experimenting with canning soups this year, as well as potatoes.  I understand that one can can stock as well to preserve for things like crockpot recipes.  The extension of this will also be building a root cellar.  Canning takes a lot of time and energy (including propane).  Root cellars can let one put up produce for months without having to do a thing to it.  But of course, since this farm has been built from scratch…. I have to back hoe it out and build the thing.  Just another chapter I guess!  In the meantime, our pantry is getting very full.  Zina has been hand cutting, threshing and winnowing wheat as well.  Now we need to find a way to grind it and see what kind of bread it makes!


Potatoes Squash and Such

The harvest continues.  The potatoes are going to be epic.  The carrots are out of this world.  The beets just keep on doing their thing and we are SO excited to have peppers when we thought they had been completely destroyed. The Acorn Squash are amazingly tasty.  Zina weeded most of the day and I processed food.  We froze peppers, dehydrated Chillies, put carrots in the fridge, cellared squash, and made more refrigerator dills.   Oh ya, I also saved a whole bunch of seeds for next year from all of this.  What a rebel!

Tomorrow we can carrots.

Potatoes 2014 Squash and Such 2014

The Herbs Are Taking Over!

It’s official.  Oregano has been declared a terrorist herb.  It is threatening to take over the JAZ Urban Farm!


The penalty has been pronounced…. drying by hanging!

hanging Oregano

Oh it is ABOUT Thyme!!


Anyone need a little SAGE advice?


After all its just a shuck and CHIVE.


Bean there!



The Vastness Of The High Plains

Took a drive the other day.  Looked in my rearview mirror and this caught my attention.  If you have the eyes for it, the vastness of the high plains is stunning.eternity


The road home took me around behind our place.  Turns out there are several homesteads back there.  One with Llamas.


Outstanding In Her Field!

What other person do you know who on her birthday would be out cutting wheat by hand?  My wonderful wife, when we heard that the farmer who leased a lot of our land to plant wheat had abandoned it because of hail damage, didn’t want to leave it to simply die.  After all, it might not be a good harvest for the industrial combines, but it certainly is good straw, chicken feed, and…. people feed!  Right now there is over 30 acres of it just standing there.

She started messing with the idea of getting a Scythe.  Not knowing much about them and not wanting to spend a ton of money should it turn out to be a dumb idea, I ordered her a sickle designed specifically to harvest wheat!  What a birthday present!  Anyone you know get a sickle for his/her birthday!?  I’m thinking I ought never make her mad again!

So this morning out she trots into one of the wheat fields and starts hacking away!  We got a couple of wagon loads; one of which we fed to the chickens and the other she is still out tying into sheafs.  We watched a couple of videos on how to thresh it and process it and we may be onto something!  What fun!  Making our own homemade bread from wheat harvested on the farm!  Whoda thunk it?  Pretty sure the neighbors (conventional farmers) must think we have a serious case of the loonies.

IMG_3584          IMG_3587 IMG_3588          IMG_3589

We Got This Stuff Wired!

I am sooooo happy to see that there have been far more successes than failures on the farm.  Our first gardening attempt in unknown soil, unknown conditions, flying by the seat of our pants after over a year of blood sweat and tears has come in with a significant amount of satisfaction!

I was noticing the other day that one of the rows of potatoes was starting to die back.  At first, considering how many setbacks we have had, I thought they were getting blight.  Not uncommon, it was a large contributor to the Irish famines.  But then it dawned on me that this is August and these are 85 day potatoes and this is day 85 ish.  So, to test my theory, I pulled up the plant on the end of one of the rows and VOILA!!  Taters!!  While we are headed back to the shitty today and going out to dinner for Zina’s birthday, next week will begin potato harvest!  If this one plant is any indication of what is happening all along the rows, we are going to have taters out the wazoo!  We planted 180 row feet (3 different kinds) and they look to be doing what potatoes are supposed to do!

I’m thinking, yup, we got this homesteading thing wired.


Massive Quantities of Pickled Beets.


This recipe made the farm house smell like my grandmother’s place when we would visit in Iowa!  The Cinammon , clove and vinegar plus the earthy aroma of the beets took me WAY back!

We made over 21 lbs of pickled beets today.  25 pints.  There are at least that many in the garden right now but most of those will likely be juiced.

We luv the farm!


A REAL JAZ Farm Harvest!!!

We went out today to pull beets to pickle and can.  While we were at it we began to check the rest of the garden.  The fun part was getting to eat two whole strawberries.  The patch is a disaster but there were two very sweet and very red strawberries for a Saturday morning snack!  We weeded the Asparagus and then started picking eggplant.  Wow they have recovered and we will be having many different eggplant dinners here shortly.

Remember these?  These are the peppers that were completely stripped during the first of the hail storms this spring.

Dead Peppers

They have since recovered pretty well and this is what we picked from them today:  Purple Beauty, Green Bell, Anaheim, Serrano and a couple of Poblanos.  The Jalapeños are not doing well but this is just the start of the harvest.  Stuffed and grilled peppers!  Yum!



The Acorn Squash have also survived and have taken over.  There are several dozen on their way to ripening.  We may actually get a Butternut Squash or two as well, but those poor things really took a beating during the storms.


The Black Beans are doing their thing, some of the potatoes are dying back which means we will have to go out and see if any actually made potatoes.  The Amaranth is HUGE.  I’ll post pictures later but we are going to have to cut the seed heads off and get those stored.  The onion harvest looks like it is going to be very good as well.  The corn?  Meh.  We’ll see but it appears that we have a soil deficiency of one kind or another.  They are getting ears but they are small and the plant itself is kind of a lighter green.  This, at first glance, tells me its nitrogen.  I’m going to have soil samples done in the fall so we will know more then.

This is our project for the rest of the day:  Pickling and canning about 30 lbs of beets.  Hope they don’t taste like crap because we have at least twice as many than pictured here.  We do use them quite a bit in our juicer too.  As I write, the chickens are chowing down on the greens!


So on our counter today we have a chicken thawing, 2 dozen eggs gathered this morning, summer squash and Zucchini, Acorn Squash, Carrots, Beets, Peppers, Eggplant, and home made bread.  All from the farm!  What a tough growing season this has been!  So very nice to see things maturing in spite of it all.

IMG_3564         IMG_3560