Kale choppin’ school is in session

This morning I harvested 12 ounces of dinosaur kale (lacinato). I chiffonaded it and bagged it up in 3 ounce portions.

I like the dinosaur kale because it’s a beautiful color, it’s sturdy, and when it’s sauteed with butter it turns a deep green.

Kale is wonderful. Swiss chard is terrible, but we have to keep growing it because the birds like it more than the kale. It saves our kale from the birds.

We picked our first ounce of beans today. 😉 The beans that were barely alive are now looking quite healthy and should produce a good crop. The first cucumber and pepper should be ready this week. My peas are almost done for the season. They weren’t nearly as productive as last year but still provided some good table fare. The chard and kale continue to produce like gangbusters.

For the last few weeks Josh has been threatening to pull out the kale if we don’t start using it. The truth is that by the time I’m done making dinner, the last thing I want to do is harvest a fistful of raw ingredient, dirty up another pan and prep a side dish–I’m just mentally ready to sit down and relax. Truly, I LOVE having kale with dinner. When Josh comes in from work with a bouquet of kale and pulls out a pan, I am so grateful.

Late last night as we sat around the table with the kids, Josh started looking up ways to preserve kale. (No way I’m canning it–that’s gross) He suggested freezing it raw or blanching it first then freezing it. Less work is better, so I ran out to the garden in the dark and grabbed some to wash and freeze so we could test it out.

This morning I cooked the frozen kale, which didn’t even need to be defrosted. I put a little water in the pan, threw in the frozen kale, steamed it, then quickly and buttered/salted it. It was PERFECT!

Today I picked, portioned, and processed 2 lbs 12 ounces of kale (both varieties that we have). I froze them in 3 ounce chunks, wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in a freezer bag. I was able to get 9 three ounce pouches of washed, deveined and ready-to-steam kale.

I transplanted kale and chard, and I direct-seeded Oregon sugar pod peas, which were really productive last year. This time, I only seeded one row, leaving more room for planting beans later.

Heather transplanted rosemary, parsley (curly and flat), sweet oregano, and Italian basil (with cloches covering the oregano to promote growth and basil to protect from frost).

I noticed chives growing next to the well.

Yesterday, our friend help us get the town-behind lawn mower that our neighbor gave us running. A kit with a carburetor, spark plug, fuel filter, and air filter was $20. Next I need to buy new wheel bearings for it and for the small tractor trailer.

We changed the oil and spark plug in the Sears tractor.

The Case tractor is not doing so well. The past few weeks, it has been hard to start, which was not a problem before. I replaced the spark plugs today. Most of them were black with carbon. I also topped off fluids. It took about 3 quarts of fluid in the torque tube and a gallon of oil in the transmission. The 3-gallon cooling system took a gallon of coolant. I replaced the engine oil, and there was coolant in the oil. That probably means it has a bad head gasket. Also, yesterday the clutch started to fail. Today I had to use the hand clutch, and even then, I had to turn off the tractor to change gears. One of the back wheels still has a slow leak, too.

I re-routed the temporary pasture fencing on the north side of the barn so that I can access the tractor parking area again. The sheep will probably have that extra pasture area finished off in the next two weeks or so.

The chickens have finished off my kale. 🙁

A few months ago, we got to use a hydraulic log splitter to split a bunch of wood we had gotten from arborists. Today, we stacked it along the west side of the barn, probably about 1.5 cords. We don’t have a woodstove, though.

We also reapplied wood chips around the young fruit trees after adding some landscaping fabric.

The sheep have mowed the entire pasture down to stubble, due to our not implementing paddocks. Heather has installed some temporary fencing allowing them to graze the area north of the barn.

We haven’t gotten any chicken eggs for months. But they don’t have a proper chicken coop in which to lay eggs, nor are we giving them any feed beyond table scraps and what they find in the pasture.

Something happened to the carburetor on the John Deere mower and it will barely idle at full throttle. I fiddled with it a bit, then ordered a new carburetor. At about $15 to buy new, they’re hardly worth trying to troubleshoot.

The Case tractor has a rear left tire that loses air over the course of about a week. I need to see if I can remove the wheel so I can take it to a tire store for repair. Otherwise, it’s probably about $100 for a field service call.

We’re still getting some kale from the garden, but the chickens have been escaping the pasture now that we extended it for the sheep, so the kale isn’t going to last much longer.

I got my first handful of beans a few days ago. We haven’t been able to keep up with the pea harvest of a pound every few days, so I’ll plant half as many next year. My kale and chard are very healthy and producing well. My Mortgage Lifter tomato finally has some blossoms that have become fruits. Overall, my garden row hasn’t needed much watering.

This my first pea harvest of more than just a few peas that I eat while in the garden. About 4 oz. My pea plants have been growing like crazy. I also got another 4 oz of kale.

Our neighbors’ fields were cut today.

I got my first kale harvest (4 oz). I found one green worm eating some kale.

My peas are looking fantastic. I picked a few today, but I think I should have enough to be part of dinner tomorrow or the day after. I added a one-foot-high fence for them to climb. I probably could have added something taller.

My second planting of beans is up, and greener than the first planting, which is yellowish.

My Mortgage Lifter tomato seems to be recovering and greening up.

The NHS plant sale is a dangerous place of you’re wanting to have the value of your harvest exceed the cost of planting. We spent $31. I transplanted dwarf blue curled Scotch kale, Italian silver rib Swiss chard, and Mortgage Lifter tomato in my garden row (all heirloom), plus Delicata squash, yellow summer squash, and spaghetti squash in the row that we planned to leave fallow this year. Grant transplanted a black Krim tomato in that row, too.

Heather transplanted herbs out into the pasture along the fence.

I ran a 1/4-inch soaker hose on my row. It’s not very good. All the water leaks out within the first 15 feet–especially the first 5 feet. I might try a 1/2-inch soaker hose.

I transplanted some plants that Heather started. From the end in: kale (dwarf blue curled), chard (mixed colors Swiss), spinach (Bloomsdale), lettuce (cutting mix), lettuce (unknown–the label faded), and marigolds (petite orange). Some of the starts were waterlogged and others were dry, so we’ll see how they do.