Barn Swallows

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We have four baby barn swallows above our door.  They’ll fledge any day now (I hope) because Mom and Dad and their friends are not too keen on us sitting on the porch, and the chicks are making quite a mess of our entryway.

Not very welcoming mat

Not-very-welcoming doormat

But who am I to get in nature’s way?  Besides, they are awfully cute.  I wish all of them a safe first flight and a long and happy life.

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Okay, now skedaddle so I can clean up your mess and reclaim my porch.

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Yankee Doodle Dandy

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!  Yankee Doodle Dandy just ended on TCM (my fave channel).  The film stars James Cagney as the Broadway great George M. Cohan, and it’s one of my favorite classics of all time.

I wanted to share with you the scene near the film’s end where Cagney tap dances his way down the White House stairs after receiving the Medal of Honor from President Franklin Roosevelt.  If you’ve never seen it, I think you’ll be amazed.  If you’ve seen it before, I’m certain you won’t mind seeing it again (and again).

  

To all who have served, are serving, and will serve, thank you from a grateful citizen.

My First Melon

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I had thought earlier in the season that I was going to lose all my melon seedlings, but they have awoken from their slumber in the past week or so.  I’ve been checking for a little baby melon every day, and today I found the first actual fruit!  If I remember correctly, this is a Petite Yellow melon.

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As some plants really start to take off (like the Costoluto Genovese tomatoes above), others are no longer producing and appear to be dying off.  The provider bush beans are stunted and beans are nonexistent, and the snow pea vines are yellowing. 

I’ll be implementing a lot of lessons I’ve learned this season into next season’s garden.  But the cukes are coming in quite nicely, so at least I’ll have plenty of pickles!

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Say Goodbye to Monday Mediocrity

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Preliminary Pickling

Pickles

Not sure what’s up with the cuke on the left

I finally get to start pickling with my own homegrown cukes!  The National Pickling cucumbers are ripening quickly.  Yesterday, I picked another handful of cukes and some fresh dill from the garden.  I tried a recipe over the winter with store-bought produce for refrigerator garlic dill pickles, and they were delicious.  Using garden-grown produce can only improve the results!

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I like to use cider vinegar, as I think it adds a little something extra to the pickles.  I also have my pickling spices and pickling salt I purchased from an Amish store last winter.  Fresh garlic and some dill, and you have everything you need to start pickling!

Pickles 3

After pouring the brine into the tightly-packed jars, I leave them out on the counter for several hours so the glass can cool slowly before refrigeration.  Then they’ll stay in the fridge for a few weeks – if I can resist “testing” them.  I look forward to seeing how they turn out!

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Blackberry Blitz

When I wrote the title for this post, my always-ready-to-offer-advice autocorrect suggested “BlackBerry” before “Blackberry.”. Does BlackBerry even have a phone on the market anymore?  This post is not about these BlackBerries . . .

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Do you still use a BlackBerry? Come on, you can tell me.

I’m talking about these blackberries . . .

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I know, these aren’t black yet, but they will be very soon.  The wild blackberries within two football fields of where I sit easily number into the millions.  They are almost ready for harvesting, but I’ll need to move quickly.  The berries will be ripe in the next few days, depending on when and how much it rains.  I’ll fight thorns, chiggers, turkey mites, and copperheads (to name a few hazards) to reap this rich reward.  Within a week or less, they’ll be gone.  Birds, bugs, and the sun will claim whatever I don’t get to first.

I’m in no danger of running out of berries (really, I don’t mind sharing with nature).  I could pick for ten hours a day and still miss the vast majority of them.  But I’d like to harvest and can or freeze as many of these short-lived but delicious fruits as I can.  I’ll also sell what I can’t use.  Around here, blackberries are a highly sought after commodity, and wild blackberries fetch a premium.  Hello, farmer’s market!