Tag Archives: vegetables

Sweet Harvest

 As the garden grows into full production we are all putting in even more hours than before. This week we not only contend with broken sprinkler pipes, (so hoses again) and weeds, but we now must harvest daily for peak ripeness and to maintain maximum production.

Comically, we all work on different schedules, so for about a week we assumed much, but none of us actually knew what the others were doing. Izzy was giving away surplus at work and the livestock was enjoying some overgrowth.

And then I slowed down one morning this week. Yeah, you’d think I’d have learned to do that more often by now…

Unbeknownst to me Izzy and Cole had been harvesting in the cool of the morning before they leave for their jobs in town – while I’m either keying away or snoozing in my cottage. An hour or so later I’ll unknowingly check the same sections of the garden and then harvest what they didn’t get to. But that particular morning when I put the house dogs back in I noticed their harvest in a crate. Doof!

All this time I was bringing the day’s collection into the fridge in my cottage thinking Izzy knows to check there every day.

Error.

Ordinarily, over the weekend and some evenings we girls touch bases or simply chat over a relaxing beverage.  I suspect their week away at the Lake put a hitch in our giddy-up so we miss a keystroke here and there.

I had to notice the crate in the main house kitchen to realize we’d do well to tweak our system again.

Done.

Eventually this scenario brought to mind one with the apostle Paul and the new believers in Corinth. First, duh – everyone was a new believer in Paul’s day. Similarly this is our first co-op garden experience. We usually talk about what we want to do next and what we’re learning from our agri-expert friends. For a few days we seemed to have dropped our communication signal.

We’re caught up from the vacation now.

“I (Some of us) planted the seed, Apollos (the rest of us) watered it (and weeded), but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”  1 Corinthinans 3:6 – 9 (NIV – added paraphrase mine 😉 )

 

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Gad-Zukes!

I’m amazed how I felt a little discouraged as this week began. I considered what the garden is actually producing compared to the labor we put into it six days a week. We were all feeling disappointed that we see lots of tiny, little buds, but no cucumbers in particular.

 

Even so, on her “day off” Izzy and I were out there on our knees, enjoying the cool of the morning and pulling weeds.

Imagine my surprise when she blurted out, “CUCUMBERS!”  And then, “Growing in the spaghetti squash. We’ve got cucumbers!”

Sure enough, before I could get over to shoot what to us is phenomenal, Iz had picked four nice-sized cucumbers and found more growing among the astoundingly prolific spaghetti squash. Remarkably only buds are on all the other vines down the rest of the row.

Later, as I packed bags of lettuce to share with friends at our Bible Study meeting, I thought about how the week turned around.

Firstly, I’m glad this week I’m not the only silly soul. And I’m glad to know I’m not the only human that tends to focus upon our understandings, expectations and agendas and we sometimes miss something else God may be doing.

 

For another example, last year I was disappointed that no home groups from my local church meet near our neighborhood anymore. That disappointment is now a sharp contrast to how I look forward to Friday evenings – every week.

Regardless how tired I may be, Former Neighbor Andee texts me from her new home barely ten minutes away to tell me she’s on her way, to start heading down my driveway. She knows what it takes for me to leave the cottage. I’m not proud that usually I’ve splatted against a wall by five and try to talk myself out of going – nearly every week. But every week I climb into Andee’s truck and I’m astounded at all I learn about our study topic and our friends, the people in our group.

This week more than anything else, I’m grateful for God’s eternal perspective. I appreciate the blessed assurance that He likely enjoys much of our silliness between the blessings. And He knows the cucumbers are worth the wait.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

 

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Pressing Back

As this week began, even with the four of us working at it, I felt the pressure keeping up with our super-sized vegetable garden. The weeds were seriously battling for the ground that served the livestock well in previous years.

Often I’d spend enough time bent over the rows that moving the rest of the day was a challenge. Even so I’m glad for it. Taking a little time out with ice packs each day began as physical therapy. As often happens I soon turned to prayer and in no time rose again refreshed and determined to keep up the good work.

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)

About mid-week Cole took advantage of a western breeze. He mounted a tank on the ATV and drove it around the garden side of the fence, spraying the outward perimeter as he went.

Surprisingly, the only casualty was one sprinkler head at the north end and the conductor holding the hot wire above it. We replaced them quickly so the sun didn’t burn the entire north end of the crop. Two days later we can barely see where the balloon-like tires rode over the cantaloupe vines.

With a couple of days of light cloud cover we took a break from weeding to bring in the first loads of fire wood. Staying warm this winter should be much easier with a new log splitter due to arrive any time now.

With all that we still found time to relax a minute, count our blessings and gear up for fireworks later on this week.

And the lessons continue.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

 

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Love Long Distance

Despite the unusual few weeks leading up to this past weekend I had an exceptionally nice two days – which was welcome after a rough week.

Typical for this time of year, schedules must be juggled. Sometimes we must reschedule my “Grand Dates” (regularly scheduled time where my grand kids – all long distances away – bring me up to speed with the previous week). For the past two, maybe three weeks everyone I usually talk with at least every other week was unavailable to Skype, Duo, talk or text.

With the days getting longer and warmer I sorely missed our times together. I stayed busy with our gang, the pups, the pastures and the gardens. Still, I wondered how my grands fared without my input, encouragement and advice – or if they even missed visiting with me. I prayed long into the SansGrands silence.

On Saturday Izzy and I rescued our patio tomato plants from curling leaves, moving them to The Garden. Knowing the move wasn’t ideal timing, we assured our precious nearly orange tomato-lings to hang in there, they’ll feel far better despite the shock of moving.

Okay, so maybe my empathy wasn’t as much for our tomatoes. The day’s gardening finished, I returned to where I’d left off in my Bible:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” Romans 8:35 (NIV)

The relationships I share with these amazing young humans are strong and endure occasional separations – no matter how they may feel sometimes. Still, I consider how anxious I get when my time with God gets shoved down the priority ladder. I’m a grown up (mostly) and yet I feel the burn every time my prayer time is rescheduled – or dropped.

After praying again, God’s assurance that the grands shall continue feeling the love comforted me.

I was no sooner into other chores when my phone rang. A couple of hours later two sisters and I caught up with one another. Then FirstBorn called. While waiting in a backed-up toll booth line he realized how long it had been since our last talk. We mostly prattled and reminisced some as he drove from Wadsworth to Milwaukee. By my bedtime I felt far better connected than I had in weeks.

On Sunday SecondSon’s Firstborn called. He reiterated every exciting detail of the last two ball games – that sent his team to state. And his sister, FiveYearOld, could hardly wait to describe a new growing thing she discovered in astoundingly accurate detail.

Maybe it’s just me – the ways God uses the garden and my family to bless me is amazing. Though I could hardly wait between their calls, He assures me it’s all gonna be just fine.

“And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.”

1 John 2:28 (NIV)

 

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Pastoral Peace

By late winter I began to look forward to warm weather and grass growing in the pastures. With some of my joints achy from the cold, tossing hay every morning and evening seemed less a pleasant stroll and more of a chore.

Being the steer’s first spring alone we weren’t sure what to expect from his grazing. Soon enough the grass was as tall as the sprinkler pipes. We are blessed with friends and neighbors who are glad to let their horses graze in our pastures and get the growth under control.

We learned very soon that, GeldingOne manages his stress from the move by running. In the tall grass he broke off three sprinklers in those first 48 hours. One pipe broke underground which complicated watering the seedling vegetable garden as well as the pasture.

The quickest solution:

    • Shut off and drain the irrigation sprinklers to repair them.
    • Cut the tall grass so the horse can see the pipes.
    • Run water to garden with hoses.

Then SouthernNeighbors lent us GeldingTwo.

GeldingTwo likes being the pasture boss and compliant GeldingOne is now calm and content with his new buddy and the steer. The pastoral peace restored, knowing their horses are in my loving care the two geldings’ humans can concentrate more on working their properties. If all goes as planned, Cole won’t need to mow again for months. Win-win-win.

For now, until Cole can repair the shattered pipe, Izzy and I haul hoses and lawn sprinklers around the vegetable garden and water tanks. Every. Single. Day. It’s time consuming and more than once I’ve been tempted to complain check Cole about his priorities. Fortunately, before inserting my foot into my mouth, as I walk the property back to my cottage I see everything from a different perspective and hold my peace.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18 (NIV)”

But there’s more: Being around the gentle, nickering giants lifts my spirits and calms any anxieties that often tag along with me. The sounds of tails swooshing nearby, hooves touching ground (in case there’s an apple or carrot in a pocket) soothes me like little else does. Sure, I’m moving hoses and horses, chopping cheat grass, pulling tack weeds and thistle, but I’m also keeping my back, hips and knees in good working order – and who needs to count steps anymore…

Before I’m done watering the veggies I have a clear vision of where we must thin plants, hoe or pull weeds. As with most things in life, one hand washes the other. But God uses growing food and tending the livestock as a family to fuel my soul like nothing else ever.

Annnd the life lessons continue.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Images not captioned courtesy Pixabay

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Rearview

For the second time in my recent history I’m delighted for having gone out of my way, when doing so made little or no sense.

I thrive on variety and spontaneity, so there likely have been many such occasions. Always pushing forward, I rarely noticed, so these two instances stand out.

I wanted to drive to the opposite side of town to attend church services with my friend, instead of staying in my neighborhood. With gas prices skyrocketing – again – and some extra expenses popping up this seemed silly. There was no special occasion, speaker or program, I simply wanted to meet my friend at the church we attended together years ago.

Still, by Thursday I made a date with Dear-Old-Friend. By then I had forgotten all about how my tomatoes weren’t ripening and the wilting pepper plants.

Had I not followed my heart:

  • I would have missed people bringing their garden surplus to church. I forgot I could bless others by taking the extra fresh, homegrown, organic veggies,
  • I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to drop off any of the eggs I’d brought (and almost forgot about) at Dear-Old-Friend’s house, so I wouldn’t have also stopped at the peach grove,
  • I would not have had the extra fresh, wholesome food to give to a young family I met along the way – in dire need of it.

That was just this past weekend, but it brought to mind another seemingly crazier decision I made three-plus years back:

Had I not left my home for weeks to stay with my siblings, to be their housekeeper while Sister recovered from surgery:

  • I would not have witnessed firsthand the importance of daily covering my family with prayer,
  • My younger brother Seagh and I would not have bridged the gap that had formed over the previous years,
  • Seagh and I would not have “solved the world’s problems” as we did every few days or so,
  • We all would have missed the precious family time we shared for the last time, before Seagh died (four months after that visit),
  • Sister would never have gotten over urging me not to come.

Ordinarily I would have resented Sister telling me not to come, rejecting my offer, and stayed home. But knowing she was overwhelmed, frightened and concerned about my situation too, I ignored that particular request.

“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” Galatians 5:16 (NLT)

Seeing more of the big picture takes practice – daily. Personally, daily Bible study and prayer helps me meet each day with solid footing and broader, clearer vision. Alright, alright; I manage to deliberately step into my days more effectively prepared about Four days out of seven. Even so, the consistent practice makes for a good way to live.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 (NLT)

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Saved Vegetable Beef Soup

vegetable-pixabay

One thing that my limited budget affected is meat in my diet. I’m a fan of non-GMO, organic soy products, free range poultry, fish and organic cheese, but now and then I crave beef. Toward the end of the month supplies dwindled, so I made a pot of vegetable beef soup.

Without beef bones I used boxes of bargain beef broth from the emergency stash. My fresh veggies tasted less than great and the Great Value  beef (alleged) broth tasted like anything but beef – it was just plain yuk. I’m glad to know not to buy the product again.

I got creative and was delighted to not have wasted the food or my efforts. The friends that dropped by admired the end result so, my secret is secure.

Following is the recipe and the save I concocted. I’ve made it a few more times since with homemade stock, good boxed broths, Knorr Homestyle Stock or Knorr bouillon cubes (which contains less sodium than many other brands). Better Than Bouillon is also good.

knorr-soup-base

Since then I also discovered a culinary jewel at my local restaurant supply: Knorr Professional liquid Concentrated Flavor Base. Available in my area in Beef, Chicken and Vegetable, a 32 oz (946 ml) bottle makes 6.25 gallons. They’re gluten free, no MSG, store on the shelf even after opening, and easily dissolve. With 760 mg sodium per cup it’s less salty than bouillon cubes and quite tasty.

Saved Vegetable Beef Soup

Fresh vegetables chopped into bite-sized pieces:
6 celery ribs
6 medium carrots
1 large onion
Bell peppers (I prefer red, orange or yellow)
1 large potato (or 1 1/2 cups cooked rice)
1/3 large head finely chopped cabbage
3 large garlic cloves finely minced
Bunch fresh minced parsley leaves (to taste)
Cover with beef broth (or stock). When homemade stock is not available, use 2 – 3 boxes or hydrated bouillon cubes (omit additional salt)
Salt and pepper to taste

Simmer till vegetables are almost tender (about 20 minutes).

Once veggies are tender add:
2 cups cooked (or canned) beans; black beans (rinsed). Navy, cannellini, great northern or ceci (chickpea or garbanzo) beans are good and the liquid is great in soup.
16 oz frozen corn
½ small can (6 oz/170 g) tomato paste (avoid lumps and thin with some warm broth before adding), or a large can chopped tomatoes.

Stir and cook on medium heat till blended and heated through.

The save:

1 envelope onion soup mix
1 jalapeno or poblano, pasilla, or Anaheim (California or Magdalena) Chile, halved (remove before serving or chop, according to your preference)
Bunch cilantro leaves finely chopped (to taste)
Juice ½ lime (or more to taste). For extra flavor drop rinds in, but remove before serving).

Stir and cook on medium heat till blended and heated through. Remove lime rinds and peppers if desired and serve with crusty bread.

 

“Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous…” 2 Corinthians 9:11 (NLT)

Vegetable image courtesy Pixabay

 

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