I just got back from meeting someone who, unlike us, has lots of squash this year and was willing to share…

… her mutants!

She didn’t even plant them. They came up on their own!

Two of them are a type of zucchini, in their winter squash stage. The other stripy ones are squash and pumpkins that cross pollinated. Yes, I know pumpkins are a type of squash, but they get their own category. 😁 I was told that 2 of them that have the darkest green are ready to eat now.

I was also gifted a big bag of spinach and beet greens! Our beets are doing so poorly this year, the greens were unusable, and our fall spinach are still trying to come up.

It should be interesting to see how these taste!

Now… how would one prepare a mutant squash? She said to just use them like pumpkins. So…

… pie?

The Re-Farmer

A sweet gift

My younger daughter has been slowly working on cleaning up the spring moisture mess in the basement for the last while, but also just being down there to stay in the cool.

Today, I found out she has been having fun with my wood carving tools, which I have not been able to use myself for quite some time. Her first experimentation was to finish off a fork I’d started some time ago, but stopped because the wood really sucked to work with. This is her second project, and her first made from scratch.

She make a shawl pin for me! Something to use to keep my reading jacket closed, instead of the hair pins I’ve been using.

I absolutely adore the teeny little frog she carved into the top!

What a fantastic job she did, and I absolutely love it!!

The Re-Farmer

Early arrival; cast iron Dutch oven

After all the running around yesterday, I wasn’t expecting to do more of it today!

However, my husband got a notification that a package of his was at the post office. At the same time, he got a call that his Purolator package was at their drop off in the town my mother’s in, because apparently they don’t drop off in the town closer to us.

He knew what the one at the post office was supposed to be, but had no idea what was being shipped by Purolator. We thought it might be the cast iron Dutch oven he ordered for me as an early Mother’s Day gift, but when I double checked, I confirmed it was coming by mail – and was supposed to arrive tomorrow. His expected package was going to be much, much smaller and lighter, too!

When the post office reopened for the afternoon, I headed there first. There turned out to be another package waiting for one of my daughters, plus a large, heavy box!

Not as heavy as I was expecting a cast iron pot to be, though. Plus, it came with a lid lifter that should have made for a longer box.

After loading the boxes up, I then drove to the town to pick up the Purolator package. The drop off was at an auto mechanic’s shop I’d never been to before. After telling the lady at the desk why I was there and showing my ID, she left to get the package.

When is when the most gorgeous, long haired calico came out to follow her until the door closed.

A friendly calico that came over and let me pet it!

I’m a sucker for cats.

The parcel turned out to be a large, flat envelop that weight basically nothing.

It turned out to be the package my husband was expecting at the post office.

So what was in the big box?

Well, it turned out to be my new Dutch oven after all!

So the skinny, virtually weightless package was sent by Purolator, while the big heavy item went by post!

The cats wouldn’t move to let me take pictures. 😀

Of course, everything was immediately covered in cat hair.

While the whole thing turned out to be lighter than I was expecting, my other surprise was how short the lid lifter is. Somehow, even with the photos, I thought it would be much longer. It’ll still make move the lid around much easier, than trying to manage with something else.

You can see the base of the carry bag, which is quite solid, plus it has the extra support from the straps that make the handles, wrapped all the way around.

I do like that lid design.

Do does Cheddar!

Well, one thing about the lid lifter being shorter than expected, is that it fits on the carrier, along with the pot itself.

The set also came with a thank you card, as well as care instructions in several languages.

The other side of the thank you card included the QR code to download the free recipe e-book for the Dutch oven.

Unfortunately, all I got was a message on my phone saying that it couldn’t open that type of link.

So I went to the website to see if I could find it there. While looking around, I did find a link to download a free recipe book, however it was for tortilla recipes. This place makes quite a lot of products, including quite a few for Mexican cooking. It took some searching before I found the Dutch oven we got. I did find their recipes section, and was eventually able to find their recipes for Dutch oven cooking. They also sell enamelled Dutch ovens, too, so the recipes were for both, but at least I found some.

I ended up using their contact form, told them what the issue I was having was, and asked if they could just email the e-book to me. We’ll see how that works out. Of course, it’s easy enough to find recipes for this type of Dutch oven. I recently took advantage of a sale on whole chickens, and I think that would be a great thing to try first. We have time to decide, though. It’s way too windy and muddy to get the fire pit going, for the next few days, at least. Plenty of time to prepare!

Since I was in town anyway, I swung by the grocery store and got a few things for a cookout, including the ingredients for S’mores. We tried making those for the first time, during one of the rare times it was safe to light a fire, a couple of summers ago, and they were quite fun.

This Dutch oven is pre-seasoned, and ready to use immediately. I’ll likely give it at least a hot water rinse, though, before it’s used.

Signs of spring, and an early Mother’s Day gift

I must say, the morning rounds sure are a lot messier these days! Any area that doesn’t have snow on it, is mud.

The cats are spending a lot more time on the roofs of the kibble house and shelter, the junk and wood piles, anything to be off the mud!

I spotted at least a dozen cats this morning. There are five of them crowded around that kibble tray on the ground. They’ll put up with the mud there, while I’m out and about. I didn’t see The Distinguished Guest, Sad Face, or even Creamsicle Baby, this morning.

The forecast for the next while has changed again. Predicted highs have gotten lower. We were supposed to get snow today and tomorrow – 5-10cm (about 2-4 inches) expected, as of last night. Now, they’re saying rain this evening, possibly some snow overnight, and none tomorrow.

I’m not complaining, though. This is the slow melt we need. The ground is slowly thawing and absorbing that precious moisture. It may be really messy, but I’m grateful for it.

Enough snow has melted that I can get into areas we haven’t been able to reach all winter. That gave me a chance to go into the old kitchen garden and free the top of a lilac branch that was still stuck in the snow.

The lilac is covered with leaf buds! This is the only double lilac we’ve got, and I’m happy to see it is doing well. As with all the other lilacs, it barely bloomed last year. It always amazes me, just how much damage that one cold night in May caused!

The nearby honeysuckle don’t seem to have any leaf buds yet. Those are closer to the house and in shade longer than the lilac.

While doing my rounds in the outer yard, I checked on the pump shack. A path had been shoveled to the door, but the snow slid off the metal roof, and now there’s a big pile that’s not worth digging through, as long as the cats can still get to the door. The door has a hole at the bottom that the outside cats use to get in and out. It’s gotten a lot bigger since I last checked it!

There is still a huge pile of snow in front of the pump shack, of course, but the lane cleared by the front end loader is actually starting to have green grass showing. There are also lilac bushes nearby. These ones are the common lilac, like what my mother used to make a hedge along the north fence line by the garden.

They do not have leaf buds.

At least, not anywhere the deer can reach.

Well, I guess I know why the deer were going down here, now. I did eventually see leaf buds, but they were well above my head.

Lilac is pretty hardy, though, and I expect they’ll recover and be growing new leaf buds fairly quickly.

Before heading out for my morning rounds, I checked the thermometer in the sun room, and it was just above freezing. From what I could see during the night, it seems to have stayed above freezing throughout the night, which is encouraging. The little bins with the tree seeds don’t look any different this morning; I don’t expect to see any change for at least a couple of days. Hopefully, that mold will dry up and die off, and we’ll see seedlings, but we’re not holding our breath over that.

On a completely different note, my husband, sweetheart that he is, got me an early Mother’s Day gift. It’s expected to arrive at the end of the weeks.

He’s ordered a Dutch oven set for me!
(image belongs to Amazon)

This is the Uno Casa Cast Iron Dutch oven, in the 6 quart size. (not an affiliate link) I’ve been looking for a cast iron Dutch over for a while, but haven’t been able to justify the cost. When my husband found out I wanted one, he looked up a bunch for me to check out, and I was really excited when I saw this set.

One of the key features of a Dutch oven for outdoor cooking is the lid design. They are flat with a lip around the edge to hold hot coals, so you can have heat above and below. The legs are another important feature. With many of them, the lids double as a frying pan or griddle, but this is the first time I’ve seen one where the lid has legs, too.

The final detail that sold me on this set was the lid lifter. I’ve seen them available separately, but not as a set. The reinforced tote is a nice little bonus, as is the downloadable cookbook.

This set is going to make quite a heavy package. Thankfully, my husband has Amazon Prime, so there is no shipping cost. It shipped very quickly, too!

I think this would be a great way to test it out.

I’d actually been eyeballing the Cabela’s Dutch oven, but I think this set’s design will be more useful. You’ll note, in the video, his Cabela’s Dutch oven lid is not recessed to hold coals. That’s not the one I had in my wish list, which was this one, which has the coal-holding lid. The one in my wish is a 14″ Dutch oven, which I think is larger than the one we are getting, though the description doesn’t say. A 12″ version that was recently added to their inventory is listed as 6 quarts, so I’d guess the 14″ one is an 8 quart size. The 6 quart size we are getting should be more than large enough.

I’m really excited about this!!

My husband is the best. ❤

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: The Pressure is On!

As we acquire the tools and supplies we’ll need to preserve the bounty we hope to have from our garden this year, we have been picking up canning supplies and the materials do to water bath canning.

We also want to can low acid foods, and were on the lookout for a pressure canner.

My family found something we thought we could use, but alas, it was not to be. We did decide to keep the pressure cooker, though. It’ll still be useful!

As I posted about our conundrum, I had some wonderful people leaving comments and helping me along with something we have never done before, which was greatly appreciated.

Then one wonderful person – you know who you are! – went above and beyond.

Today, we got a large, very well packed box in the mail.

We have been gifted with a pressure canner!

The only thing that’s missing is the instruction manual, which can be downloaded online.

Did I mention it was well packed? 😀

There are even extra parts and pieces!

Also, the cats were very curious. Especially about those packing peanuts. Even after I boxed them up and closed up the flaps, I caught Susan sneaking a paw in and stealing a peanut. Twice!

The internet can be rather unpleasant, especially with all the crazy going on right now, but then something like this happens, and it reminds me that there are some very wonderful people out there, quietly making the world a better place. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

A new Q!

Have I mentioned that my brother is the best?

I just can’t say it enough.

My brother is the best!

I got a call from him, early this evening. He just finished loading up their big BBQ into his truck and was ready to bring it over!

This was something he had offered to us when I told him about what we’d done with the fire pit, for outdoor cooking. They got themselves a smaller BBQ, as their older one was too big for just the 2 of them, and it was just sitting there, unused. Today, he up and decided to deliver it!

There aren’t a lot of places we can put a BBQ right now. Basically, there’s the concrete and patio blocks in front of the sun room where it can stay for the winter.

So I quickly went out and moved the shelf I was planning to moved now that the sun room door is finished. It would be much harder to move it, with a BBQ in the way!

With the shelf moved away, you can really see how much the concrete under the rain barrel has sunk! This is likely from years of the rain barrel being allowed to overflow.

Which might have something to do with why the sun room has been shifting, and why I had such troubles with the door!

Ya think?

Since it’s that time of year, anyhow, I took advantage of the situation and emptied the rain barrel into the old kitchen garden.

After breaking through ice about an inch thick!

It will be much easier to go through here to the old kitchen garden, now that the shelf is moved. We had originally intended to put the shelf in storage, with most of the other stuff that belonged to my parents, and had put it aside until we could bring the van over to take it. It was so handy, we left it. 🙂

Inside the shelf are the pieces of rigid insulation that had been used for the “cat condo” we made for the cats in the sun room last winter. We will likely use some of them for the kibble house, under the food containers. We also plan to leave the two bottom shelves empty, except for some pieces of insulation on the “floor”, for the cats to be able to tuck into it for shelter. We did that last winter, and they made full use of it.

There it is! Our new Q!

We’ve never had anything bigger than 3 burners before; this one has five. It’s so big, he had to take the lid off to fit it under his truck cap! My brother even fired it up to test it out, including the extra burner for pots and pans on the side. It even starts better than any BBQ we’ve had before. 🙂

Chances are, we won’t be able to use it until spring, but at least now we have the option! We don’t have any BBQ tools, but with all the summer stuff on clearance right now, this is probably the best time of year to get more. 🙂 I really look forward to using it!

Sadly, they were not able to stay for long. I’m glad my SIL made it out; she hadn’t been able to for a while, as she recovered from surgery. We did get a chance to walk around the yard, and show them what we’ve been doing. Technically, my brother is my “landlord”, so it’s probably a good idea for him to know what’s going on. 😉 Unlike my mother, they are actually quite happy with how things are shaping up, and are not offended by us doing things like using mulch. 😀

Somehow, they found my glee, as I demonstrated opening and closing the sun room door repeatedly, very amusing. 😀

It’s probably a good thing they didn’t stay any longer. They’ve got a long drive back, and wanted to make a quick stop to visit our mother along the way. From what I’m seeing on the live feed for the security camera, there are strong winds and snow right now!

I’ve gotta get that kibble house done!

The Re-Farmer

The cuteness, and I have the best friends!

A bit of cheer to share!

First up, is this the cutest face, or what?

I love how he’s got his face smooshed into his own leg.

And no, he’s not as soft and fluffy as he looks. He’s even softer and fluffier!

I was also finally able to get to the mail today and found a gift from a dear friend.

She sent me yeast!

The top packets are from the one time I was able to find some locally. I’m not a fan of the quick rise instant yeast. It may be more convenient, since it doesn’t need proofing and can be added in with the flour, but I’m a bit more old fashioned about that. Traditional, you might even say. Teehee. I made a funny. Well… I made myself laugh, at least. I’m a goof. I know it. 😀

My dear friend actually found some traditional active dry yeast. These have the larger granules and require proofing. I can’t even really say exactly what I’m seeing or tasting different about using this yeast, compared to the instant yeast. It’s a combination of feeling slightly different while working the dough, a difference in how it rises, and subtle differences in taste and texture in the end result. I just like it better.

One of these days, I want to try the even older style wet yeast. No hurry on that. From what I’ve seen, they come in bricks the size of a pound of butter. I’d have to be planning on a whole lot of baking, to use it up quickly, before I even consider picking any up.

So now we have a bit of a buffer in case, for some reason, we can’t use our sourdough.

M, you are such a sweetheart! I miss you dearly. ❤

The Re-Farmer

Awesome friends!

I just have to share something I got in the mail today, from a dear friend. She is so hilarious!!!! Check these out!

First, there’s the festive packing tape covering the box itself. Then there was the “snowfall” when it was opened, then there was the array of tiny little gifts for everyone – including treats and a skunk toy for the cats!

What a hoot!

I’ve got the best friends. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Flavored Salts: gift jars

Today, I finished up the sets of gift jars filled with the flavored salts we’d made earlier.  I found the most adorable mini mason jar mugs to use.

Using 2 cups of Kosher salt to make these, I was able to fill three mini jars in each flavor, and have some left over for our own use. 🙂


Rosemary Lemon
Scarborough Fair Garlic
Raspberry Wine