Homestead Monthly: August 2016 {heirloom veggies, abandoned chicks, and monarchs}

Homestead Monthly: August 2016 {heirloom veggies, abandoned chicks, and monarchs}

Homestead Monthly August 2016

Tomato Dreamin’
You know what’s silly? Planting 60 tomato plants for 2 people.

You may remember that last year we were completely blind-sided and devastated by tomato blight. Forty tomato plants and one pint of tomatoes harvested… it was a terrible sight.

This year we were determined to beat the blight, so we tilled up new ground atop the windiest hill on the homestead, planted a ridiculous amount of tomato plants in landscape fabric and then mulched them heavily with straw to prevent any dirt splashing on them and transmitting the disease.

Aaaand, we still got blight.

The good news is that our efforts seem to have bought us enough time to get tomatoes (although much less yield than we could have gotten had we not had blight).

For the past two weeks I haven’t seen my dining room table… because it has been continually covered in bowls and bowls filled with tomatoes! This is my dream! This is what I have been waiting for since I started every one of those tomatoes from seed six months ago.

Tomato bowl

Karl and I joked in early spring that my goal was to have, “more tomatoes than I know what to do with.” We definitely succeeded!

Harvest 2016
We’ve eaten our weight in green beans, cucumbers and tomatoes. We’ve got bins filled with potatoes for winter, lots of dried herbs tucked away in the pantry, and we’ve had beautiful, fresh-cut flowers in the house for weeks and weeks now! I absolutely love this time of year!!

We also put up a half bushel of canned honey peaches and 25 pounds of Italian prune plums in the form of plum sauce and stewed plums with honey and cinnamon- which will be a welcomed treat in the cold winter months ahead!

Harvest season

There are still winter squash, rutabagas, turnips, parsnips, broccoli, cauliflower, dried beans and sweet potatoes yet to harvest!

Overall it was a fine gardening year. It seems that there were more pests and more incredibly resilient weeds than I’ve ever seen before (blame it on the mild winter we had?). Karl’s grandpa, who has been a farmer his whole life and at 86 still plants a garden, said this year was the “worst weeds he’s ever seen!” Now that’s saying something!

But despite those things, all the plants seemed to have produced pretty well.

I am still working on figuring out what things I can store well for the winter and which varieties store better than others. And I am also still working on getting Karl to eat root vegetables that aren’t potatoes. And squash. We’re always working on Karl’s hatred of squash. I’ll break him someday!!

The baby chicks aren’t really that baby anymore. At six weeks old they have gotten a lot of their feathering in, and are doing all the things chickens tend to do: fight over worms, dust bathe, and fly from one end of their run to the other while exclaiming their joy for life.

We have let them out of their pen with their duck-mother for some special, very-supervised free-ranging a couple times over the last month. And they LOVED it. These birds are going to be incredible free-rangers, I can tell that for sure!

Baby teenage chicks

Just a couple days ago we let them out and something changed. Their mother fled. Left them in her dust. She completely abandoned them to rejoin the other ducks as top-duck in charge (she’s always been bossy). She didn’t look back once and her poor chicken-babies were left to fend for themselves in the yard.

I actually couldn’t believe it. Up until then she showed no signs of being a bad mother or not caring for the chicks and being integrated with them. But apparently she had enough.

The babies are fine- they actually haven’t really needed her for a couple of weeks now. I’m glad that she is off enjoying life as a duck again- taking long baths and dabbling through the grass instead of being cooped up all day.

Save the Monarchs
At the recommendation of some friends, when I spotted this Monarch caterpillar on some milkweed in the front yard, I knew I wanted to bring him in the house to watch his transformation (and make sure he stayed safe). He was the biggest Monarch caterpillar I’ve seen, so I knew he was close to turning into a chrysalis.

I made him a little home and set him on my barn wood shelf overlooking the kitchen- a prime location for a creature of utmost importance!

Not 12 hours after bringing him in, he had not only escaped but had started the process of getting ready to transform. There I found him, spinning a little web on the screen outside his home, where he would then dangle himself over my kitchen counter. And certainly I couldn’t move him now!

Monarch caterpillar

So, there he sits, with free access to my kitchen. Of course, now he is a chrysalis and should emerge as a Monarch in less than a week! I just hope I catch him while his wings are wet, before I find him fluttering about the house.

For more info on how you can help save the Monarchs, and for pictures so gorgeous (and kind of creepy) that they make you feel like you’re raising one right in your own home too, check out this post from The Art of Doing Stuff.


Thanks for being here with us!

Enjoy reading about what’s happening on the homestead?
Check out our previous monthly updates!

Homestead Monthly July 2016

Homestead Monthly Jun 2016     Homestead monthly April 2016     Homestead Monthly March 2016

Homestead Monthly Jan 2016     Homestead Monthly December 2015     Homestead Monthly Nov 2015

Homestead Monthly October 2015     Homestead Monthly September     Homestead Monthly August 2015

Cukes in crock Feature Image     June homestead photo feature     The homestead monthly May 2015

Homestead Monthly April     Homestead Monthly Feb March     Homestead monthly december january, Whole Fed Homestead

fall leaves     chicken gang porch w words     homestead monthly w words

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