Another brief plant profile this post, as it’s our first experience of persimmons!
The first thing you learn is absolutely do not eat them when they look pretty enough to eat. With the persimmon, the uglier, the better! If you eat one when it looks like this, you might think you just stuffed your mouth full of dead rodent fur.
If you eat one that looks like these below, you might cringe a little at first thinking you’re about to taste something rotten, but you’d be quite wrong—it’s magically delicious!
Let this funny lady tell you all about it!
It is often claimed that American persimmons are only edible after a frost and that you cannot ripen them off the tree. Luckily, this is not the case. However, most persimmons you can purchase at the grocery store are of a Chinese variety. It seems American producers have decided our own varieties don’t ship well enough.
Preserving ’wild’ persimmons is also a bit peculiar as cooking it will bring the astringent taste back. Making fruit leather was the solution for Native Americans according to this article by Mother Earth News. “When desired, the persimmon leather can be cut into small pieces and eaten like candy. It is much relished by small children this way. Or, the dried pulp can be mixed like raisins with cornmeal and other cereals to make Native American puddings, various cakes and biscuits.”
Time for us to give persimmon leather a try! And persimmon cookies, clearly. I already made persimmon kombucha and it’s positively divine! 🙂
We’ve planted a bunch of persimmon trees in recent years, but only females produce fruit. The ratio of male to female trees is 10 to 1 and you can’t tell them apart until they start fruiting, in about 7 years. Nature’s way of teaching us patience and planning!
I would also have been speechless at the response to his question at that California conference!
I’d love to hear what y’all think, too. 🙂
Second Amendment for Food
A ballot initiative you may not have heard about in Maine late Tuesday created unprecedented freedom for voluntary food commerce. This first-of-its kind constitutional amendment does what the U.S. Bill of Rights failed to do: guarantee citizens the right to choose their food.
The measure added language to the state constitution providing that individuals have a “natural, inherent, and unalienable right to food, including the right to save and exchange seeds and the right to grow, raise, harvest, produce, and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health, and well-being, as long as an individual does not commit trespassing, theft, poaching, or other abuses of private property rights, public lands, or natural resources in the harvesting, production, or acquisition of food.”
What this does is give the individual legal standing to sue any entity–including a government entity–that stands in their way of acquiring the food of their choice from the source of their choice. This language has been championed by the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund for years and it’s truly wonderful to see that a state has finally adopted it into its constitution.
Both the Farm Bureau Federation (you know, that outfit that says it’s a friend of farmers?) and the Maine Dairy lobby fought aggressively against it, charging that it would undermine food safety. That’s always the argument, that choice is too risky. Somebody might get bad milk, rotten chicken, or spoiled porridge. Yes, that’s possible, but it’s also possible they’ll be able to get better milk, better chicken, and better porridge than heretofore available due to burdensome government regulations.
I’m thrilled over this development and anticipate Maine now leading the nation in local food commerce. It’ll be interesting to see if the federal government attacks the state like it did with the Food Sovereignty Act several years ago. At that time, the federal government said that if the state didn’t rescind that freedom, it would pull all inspection from the state and nothing would be able to move outside state lines. Maine buckled.
Let’s hope Maine holds firm this time around because the same opposition is still very much in power, both at the industry level and the bureaucratic level. Lest you think this is all academic, let me relate a quick story. Several years ago I was speaking at a college in California and had about 300 people in a lecture hall. I asked them “how many of you think that a government food safety official should inspect carrots and beets harvested from your own garden before you can eat them?” One-third of the hands went up. I’ll never forget the moment. I literally was speechless (that’s a big deal for me) for a bit, trying to metabolize this reality.
Are you in agreement with what Maine just did, or do you think this will fill the hospitals with folks suffering from tainted food?
No politics or unpleasant ponderings this post, I promise!
Just some homesteady happy snaps and a well wishing for a wonderful weekend. 🙂
Drum roll, please, for this next rare shot . . . A Skittles sighting!
Mystifying mushrooms! These are quite common, honies (armillaria tabescens) claimed to be good by a good many foragers, but we haven’t tried them yet, because my mushrooming buddy and her husband got wretchedly ill on them once. Oops, I promised no unpleasantries. 😉
I suppose these next snaps might be unpleasant to some, sorry! I do get that, I felt that at first too, but I was gradually desensitized as I realized how much economic sense it makes, what an amazing skill it is, and especially how magically delicious it is.
Our favorite foraging expert who we forayed with nearby this past spring has a great new website all about medicinals. Here’s a short podcast about it, and reminding me that now is the time I should be collecting some goldenrod before winter! Medicine Man Plant Co
No rest for the weary around here! Our goal of year-round garden harvesting has been met and is every bit as rewarding, and exhausting, as I expected.
Living, working and eating according to the season is remarkably satisfying. In the last couple of years especially I’ve spent much less time learning from books and much more on direct observing and experimenting.
I’m thinking our next goal should be to throw the calendar and the clock out with the garbage. Show those Amish what a real Luddite looks like! HA! 🙂
This time of year the spiders tell me it’s a good thing I’ve got the cool season crops out already. Many of them were started indoors, then transferred outside under shade cloth which will remain until the heat breaks, fingers crossed we don’t get an early frost.
I’ve just started harvesting the sweet potatoes, the luffa and peppers are going crazy, the radishes, volunteer cherry tomatoes and lettuces are finally happy again and I’m most excited for the mirliton squash (chayote) that is finally getting its first flowers. This will (hopefully) be our first success with mirlitons following multiple failed attempts. I love this squash, but it thrives in southern Louisiana mostly, because it needs a very long warm season, even longer than we get here. I started these indoors in February, along with the turmeric, also a first for us this year.
As soon as it cools down I’ll also be harvesting honey, lots of herbs for drying and pesto, along with foraged leaves and roots for teas— sassafras, beauty berry, sumac—and once we finally get some rain, it’ll be time for mushrooms.
Hubby will be filling the freezer with lamb and pork and freshening our flock for spring lambs and a few to add to our growing herd of milking goats.
Hibiscus in May, hibiscus today . … still not blooming because I got a late start.
The honey bees love the Thai basil and the native bees especially love the salvia and the sweet potato and luffa flowers. We’ve decided next year to plant an entire row of luffa in the orchard just for the bees and pigs.
Hope you can enjoy a moment of piglet playtime! Surely there will be time for a wee rest in late winter?
Sanity still reigns on the wee homestead and I thought maybe a few of y’all might need a decent dose of it during these crazy dog days of summer amidst continued global chicanery.
The garden looks more like a jungle, but there is a method to the madness. Mostly it’s called ‘too hot to bother’. Still, it looks better than it ever has this time of year (which is saying very little) so I’m proud of a few things worth sharing.
The pigs are eating well off the luffa, which does so well here it actually out-competes the grasses. I wish we liked to eat it too, but I do use the sponges. It’s widely consumed in some cultures, so I might keep trying recipes to see if anything can improve its very bland taste. Plus, the bees love it, so it’s definitely a keeper.
We’re pretty limited on the veggie harvest this time of year, which means eating okra almost daily. I’m really not a big fan and it’s not even a fun one to harvest. It’s prickly and the fire ants scout every inch of it waiting to fall into your gloves or onto your thighs as you cut the spears. Its only redeeming qualities, if you ask me, are that it thrives in the heat and the flowers are pretty.
It’s our first harvest of scuppernong grapes and I’ll soon be making some wine and jelly. I’m kind of sick of canning, after all the pickles and having tried several new canning recipes this year, but I must find the grit somewhere and get back to it. For my latest experiments we’ll soon be tasting pickled watermelon rind, melon butter, and some exotically flavored cucumbers. That’s in addition to all our usual staples of pickles and salsas and sauces.
I’ve also made poke wine! It tastes pretty weird, but is supposed to be an excellent medicinal, so I thought it would be good to have on hand this winter. Despite popular hype, poke berries are not poisonous. Well, not exactly anyway. The seeds inside the berry are poisonous if chewed. You must extract the juice or swallow the berries whole.
Our pear harvest was quite small this year, but those will be processed soon too, into cider and preserves. My favorite, figs, have been doing better after a couple years of total failure. Too bad we eat them too fast to preserve them!
I’ve settled into a nice routine with milking our goat Summer and am extremely pleased with the cheeses I’ve been making. It took some getting used to, fitting it all into a workable new plan, after making mostly large-batch cheeses for several years. I’m using only traditional methods now too, so no more expensive cheese cultures to purchase.
Organizing seeds and preparing the fall plantings are also in high gear. It’s a real challenge in 90+ degree temps to be considering the cool season crops. I’ve got some started indoors under lights and my direct sow method amounts to throwing a variety of seeds in the ground every week, waterIng liberally, and keeping fingers crossed. Usually, eventually, some seedlings get brave and make an appearance and if we’re lucky, will produce something before the first frost.
Handy Hubby’s still rockin’ the new utility room and it’s already looking fabulous! It’s been a 100% DIY project for him and he never fails to impress. Once done I’ll give him a proper staging and big kudos post.
The Sweltering Season has officially begun, later than usual for these parts, lucky for us.
Long weeks of crazy heat and zero rain makes for four lazy dogs and one crabby wife.
So Handy Hubby comes to the rescue once again!
I wanted to share this one because it’s a cool off-grid hack, even though we aren’t off-grid. The ability to pump water from your natural spring, creek or man-made pond or other source has advantages for any landowner. There is the savings on your water bill of course, and the peace of mind in having an alternate water supply, but beyond that the untreated water is better for the plants, animals and environment.
While it does take some significant time and expense initially, to set it up, move it around and then conveniently store it away when not in use is just what we need around here.
We soak the yard and garden with it, and then soak in it ourselves in our 200 gallon stock tank. A real redneck sort of system, but so refreshing!
I asked for a detailed explanation on Hubby’s handiwork to include here for anyone interested and he mumbled, “Just glue it and screw it.”
Yes a man of few words, but great actions, just like I like ‘em. 🤣
On further pressuring him he said if there was anyone reading this that must know the details, just say so in a comment below and he’ll let me figure out a way to persuade him to oblige.
The friend who traded us for Summer, our first milking goat, patiently tried to coach me, not nearly as concerned as I was.
“Are you massaging her udder with a warm wash cloth before you milk her?”
Yes I am!
“Are you feeding her her favorite treat before and after milking?”
Though I did try on the first day to transition her from her animal cracker addiction to fresh cucumbers straight from the garden, thinking of her long term health.
Summer would have none of it.
After 3 days of barely being able to coax a cup from her I thought for sure I’d created some awful affliction, maybe worse than mastitis, yet to be listed in any book, from my sheer incompetence, or maybe that she just didn’t like me, at all.
Her udder was full to the point of bursting, but I was failing miserably at filling my pail. At that point if my friend had advised me to bring scented candles, perhaps some champagne too, to our milking sessions I’d have asked, “Which scent does she prefer?”
But as chance would have it, on the 4th day we had visitors. Friends of this friend wanted one of our young boars for future breeding. These were true farm folk, born and raised. I wasted no time whining about my failure as a blossoming milkmaid.
I played coy for the necessary split second before taking them up on their offer to take a peak at her.
When they saw her udder they had concerns. The dreaded ‘mastitis’ term crossed their lips and I felt even more deflated.
“Oh, no, how do I fix that?” I lamented.
Summer hopped right up on the milk stand for her animal crackers. At least we got that part down. They both examined her udder more closely and concurred it wasn’t particularly hot, so probably not mastitis, followed by my great sigh of relief.
The large man, with a deep country drawl, stepped behind her then and proceeded to pound at her swollen bag with an upward motion and milk burst out both her teets.
“Ain’t nothin’ wrong with this goat!” he confirmed. Then he gave a couple of tugs and strong, steady milk streams came pouring forth.
“How did you do that?” Was my relieved exclamation.
He proceeded to show me how it was all my bad, I was not being nearly rough enough.
“You gotta get way up in there hard and pull that milk down. Give her some good shots with your fist, like this. As long as your not bruising her or using a 2 x 4, she’s fine.”
Summer was completely calm and unfazed by this approach. Apparently I was tickling her more than milking her. We’re already up to a quart with my refined method.
I envy the rednecks and all their learnin’. So little seems to phase them, whereas I still get squeamish around blood and death and dis-ease after a decade of the most typical farm foibles.
Perhaps reading my mind and wishing to make me feel better, the large man shared a story as we stood at the gate before their departure.
“Now, I apologize in advance,” he began, “we just met, but let me tell you . . .”
And he proceeded to tell the story, flush with explicatives, about his recent long haul (he’s a truck driver in addition to a farmer, few make it these days as ‘just’ farmers) when his Bigrig broke down.
“Well I had to get one of them Ubers to take me into town and I ain’t ever been so scared in my life!” He’s a veteran, served overseas in the Middle East, grew up on a farm, been a truck driver for decades, but that Uber driver had him clinging with both hands for dear life, begging to Jesus and swearing to never get in a car with one of them crazy drivers for anything money can buy.
I inquired if he’d gone online to give the driver a poor rating.
“A poor rating?” he questioned. “They don’t go that low!”
He’s probably too nice of a guy to give that driver an ear-full while he had the chance. But I bet I would’ve!
I tried to find an appropriate fun song about goats to finish this post, but the best one was about a Billy.
Big days on the wee homestead! The cucumbers are coming in by the bushel full, the lambs are dropping like rabbits, the mushrooms are growing like mad and the bees sound exceptionally pleased. I can’t keep up!
Luckily, Handy Hubby is here now every day, thanks to his ‘early retirement’ (that is his layoff six months ago) thanks to The Great Scamdemic. With his steady efforts and attention our place is shaping up beautifully and my stress levels have been reduced by half, even as chaos still reigns. For these are not the only new milking mamas, I’m now officially a milkmaid in training myself!
Learning to milk in humid and buggy 95 degrees F is every bit as pleasant as it sounds. 😏
Handy Hubby crafted me a nice milk stand from plans posted by Fias Co Farms, a very good resource for goat newbies.
The chanterelles will surely give up very soon in this heat, so I forced myself to brave the mosquitoes and ticks once more to gather one last big basket full. I came across a new variety while hunting that’s not in any of my books, so I contacted Texas Foraging expert Mark ‘Merriwether’ Vorderbruggen, who identified it and directed me to this excellent site:
Since our temps went from April-like to August-like overnight, I got stuck in a bit of a bind with the bees. Because I’m trying to work between 3 different hive types (very stupid, do not entertain this folly I would advise) I’m trying to get them to move of their own accord. It is working, but it is quite a slow process. I will eventually have 3 colonies from this one very full nuc without too much destruction or fuss, or at least that’s my plan.
To end I offer a true garden success. I’ve been experimenting a lot with companion planting, sometimes with advice from permaculture books, but sometimes just by my own observations. This year I planted sunflowers very early, before it was warm enough for the cucumbers and melons. My thought was to attract the bees to the garden like a lure down to the still small cucumbers. It’s worked like a charm and the trellises are bursting with activity.
I’m also trying some new tricks with the tomatoes, letting the cherry types go wild, but highly managing the large varieties and interspersing them with various herbs, lots of comfrey, turmeric and ginger. The results are not yet in on those efforts, but I’ll keep y’all posted.
Wow, what weather! We got 12 inches of rain overnight on Monday, far more than we’ve ever seen here. Unlike the tornadoes, hurricanes and hail, however, I don’t complain about the rain. This region was made for rain, and lots of it. It’s the droughts that are far more difficult to withstand, and far more unnatural.
Texas Weather Modification doesn’t respond to public inquiries and they don’t share data on all the various projects happening around the state, so who’s to say if this was all Mother Nature. Man’s tech being ‘proprietary’ after all, we peons and peasants are relegated to the realms of conspiracy theory. Folks will continue to deny the weather warfare schemes until the bitter end, I suppose. No one wants to believe man is manufacturing the weather, despite clear evidence right at our fingertips.
However, that’s beside this particular post’s point. This is what we woke up to, the sound of Niagara Falls outside our window! While still in bed I said to Hubby, “What is that sound? It can’t be wind, the trees aren’t blowing!” One look outside and I saw, that’s the creek that now looks like the Mississippi, flowing right over the road and bridge (sorry for the shaky camera, I was focused on the roar more than the image).
While we had several fence issues from the debris, lost a favorite old tree, and the electricity was out for a spell, it’s absolutely amazing to me how resilient nature can be.
The water was mostly receded in just one day and then, out come the lovely fruits as kind rewards for our losses and extra labor.
Chanterelles abound, the flowers and veggies are flourishing. The mosquitoes and ticks too, no gifts given without associated costs.
One delicious dinner of pasta in cream sauce with chanterelles, green brier tips and sweet peas. And another favorite tonight, pizza of course, which Hubby pronounced my best ever. Our own homemade cheese, bacon and sourdough crust certainly help the chanterelles sautéed in garlic butter make their best impression. .
While hunting chanterelles I stumbled upon a rather large patch of this rare beauty which I once mistook for a wild orchid. Actually it’s a Purple Pleat-leaf, in the Iris family. It’s gorgeous in the wild, but wilts immediately when cut. I carefully uprooted a few of the tiny shallow bulbs and transplanted them in the garden.
Hopefully the bees will find them as lovely as I do! If not, they still have their garden favorites.