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C has been gorging himself with tomatoes for the past week. I wish I liked them. They look very good, but I can't stand the texture. I do like them when they've been cooked. I'm going to have to make juice, sauce and salsa in order to keep up with them. I'm distributing beans all over town. It's hard to stay ahead of them.
Unfortunately, the same can't be said for our cucumbers. They've succumbed to bacterial wilt for the third year in a row. I didn't see a single darned cucumber beetle, but the cukes got infected, nevertheless. I'm going to have to buy a bushel for pickling.
C pulled the onions yesterday and has left them to dry. We'll need to harvest our potatoes soon and store them for winter. The buttercup squash is forming nicely, but I don't think my pumpkins will mature before we get a killing frost. The mini pumpkins are plentiful as usual, but the crown of thorns gourd are just beginning to form. I'm sure they'll be ready for sale before Hallowe'en, though.
One of C's customers traded half a bushel of harvest apples for a couple of bales of hay. I intended to make them up into pies for the freezer. I made an apple crisp and found that, although tasty, they're not firm enough for pies, so I made applesauce instead. I found a new recipe on the net. It calls for it to be cooked with strips of lemon rind and cinnamon sticks. Yummy! The lemon adds a little zing to it. I put six pints into the freezer and made one jar to enter in the fall fair.
My sunflowers, daisies, echinacea, glads, asters, zinnias, cosmos and cleome are all in bloom in my cutting bed. I hope some of them will still be blooming in a month for entry in the fair.
I'm just waiting for a parts delivery before heading to the farm to weed for the rest of the day.
Well, I got Mom to Peterborough for her tests without incident. I borrowed my daughter's GPS navigator. What a marvelous gadget! Gotta get one for myself. I have to go back a week today to take her back to P'borough for the results. Although she had no problems with the scope, except for a slight hoarseness for a few hours, I stayed with her till today, when I took her to visit with her aunt (who's 91 years young) for a few days. We had a nice visit, but I'm a little concerned about her ability to remember important things, like taking her medication in the right amounts and at the right time. I'm thinking about getting her pharmacy to prepare 'one dose packages' for her.
The wicked weed fairies have been at work in my flower beds during my absence. I know how I'll be spending much of my time over the next couple of weeks. Besides weeding like crazy, I've got to get a lot of pickling done. I'll have to buy cukes, though. Ours are dying from bacterial wilt. C brought a half bushel of apples home, too, so I need to prepare a bunch of pies for the freezer. No rest for the wicked!
I planted both wax beans and Royal Burgundy beans again this year - one packet of each. Then C planted another half row. As always, beans are (in the short term) the most productive veggie in our garden. Wax beans are also one of my very favourite summer treats. But the darned things must be picked every second day. I stagger picking them - wax one day, and burgundy the next. Over the past four days, I've picked four 6-quart baskets of each.
I've made four pints of dilled beans and started four more. And I've been sharing the wealth. I wish some of my neighbours would come and help themselves, but only one couple does. Yesterday I took a whole lot of stuff to the lady from whom we bought our farm. She's widowed and some of her grown kids tend to take advantage of her. She's always full of good cheer, though, and shares the veggies I give her with her kids, friends and neighbours. Apparently, she barters fresh veggies for the services of her hairdresser. I dropped some more beans off with her today before stopping at three other friends to share with them. The first couple wanted me to look at their garden and tell them why their beans weren't producing. They will be soon. They were just slow to get the seed into the ground. Then we had to chat about the pros and cons of planting earlier. The next stop was an old friend who has been ill. She was a bit lonely and apprehensive about her pending retirement from our local library after more than twenty years service. I'd have liked to spend more time with her, but I need to get more pickles put down and some housework done before heading up to see Mom Wednesday. My last stop was at the home of my very best friend. I love her dearly, but once we get talking, we never seem to stop. Fortunately for the state of my house, she wasn't home. I left some veggies with her husband and took my leave quickly.
After I finished picking beans this morning, I decided to pick a bouquet of flowers from my cutting bed. That was a bit tricky. There were a lot of honey bees plying their trade. I've been worried about the health of the bee population here. Their numbers have been declining steadily over the past few years. That's one of the many reasons we've chosen to garden organically. I'm hoping the large numbers gathering pollen this morning are indicative of a healthier hive somewhere in the vicinity. It was fascinating watching them crawl across the sunflowers a mile a minute, avoiding each other in the process. Another sign of a healthier environment is the large number of toads hopping around, but I haven't seen any frogs in our garden this year.
I'm not sure when I'll be writing my next blog entry. I'm taking my mother to the hospital to have a scope administered on Thursday. It's an out-patient procedure, but I'm not sure how hard it will be on her. I'll stay with her till she's comfortable being on her own again.
Behave yourselves in my absence and have fun in your gardens.
. . . . continued from my entry of earlier today
As I was saying before C needed my attention................. After I returned from the vet's, I went to buy some groceries. With the exception of the handicapped parking spot, the closest space was occupied by, of all things, an old Case tractor. And I do mean OLD - circa 1950. I couldn't imagine which of the wealthy farmers who own most of the land surrounding our village would have kept such an old tractor, let alone have driven it into town. I didn't think any more about it as I went about my business gathering up some staples I need for the impending pickling/canning season. There was a fairly long line at the check-out counter. As I waited my turn, a little old gentleman carrying a heavy basket lined up behind me. (Now, given my age, you know this gentleman had to be very old!)
This man is amazing! He was born in Italy and emigrated to Canada where he raised a large family. His sons own one of the largest construction firms in the area. He's no taller than I am and weighs half as much. A year or so ago, he developed cancer in his throat. It was removed successfully and he recovered very quickly, but he had to have a tracheotomy. The combination of his Italian accent and his trach make him very difficult to understand. As a result, he essentially communicates through a very rudimentary system of gestures. Everyone in town is very fond of him and the girls at the check-out counter are kind and patient when dealing with him. (Actually, they're kind and patient with almost everyone - just more so with Cecil.)
Anyway, I didn't like to see him standing there lugging that big basket of groceries, so I told him to go through ahead of me. He smiled and nodded his gratitude before unloading his basket onto the conveyor. He "chatted" with the girl at the counter and made her understand that he was grateful for her attention before exiting the store. I finished my transaction and headed to my van. As I walked behind the tractor, there was Cecil gesturing to me that he needed help. His gestures consisted of making his hands into fists and swinging both arms up and down in unison. I eventually realized that he had come into town on the old tractor, but couldn't get back onto it without assistance. I put my groceries into my van, grabbed him by the waist and hoisted him up onto the tractor. He pulled himself up as I pushed from behind. (I'm willing to bet that there were a number of people who wished they had their cameras when they saw a chubby little old lady hoist an even older man onto an ancient tractor!!) Apparently he failed his last driving test (All drivers eighty years of age and older must pass a driving test every two years to retain their licences.) and is no longer allowed to drive his car. It isn't necessary to have a valid driver's licence to operate a tractor on the roads, so Cecil found this old blister somewhere and uses it to get around. Heaven only knows what he'll do when winter comes!!
The little rascal gestured his gratitude for the assistance and booted out of the parking lot as fast as a tractor of that vintage would go. I thought he'd head straight home with his grocery bags hooked over a short pole fastened to the rear of the tractor. I had a couple more errands to finish just outside of town, when I came across him again - tooting up one of our rural roads at full speed. The groceries were no longer hanging from the rear of the tractor. He must have done some shopping for someone else!!
I'm seriously thinking about having my head read for adopting Clyde. He's escaped from his harness three times since my last blog entry about him. Yesterday, I bought a 'martingale' type collar for him. The harder he pulls, the tighter it gets, so he can't back out of it. So far, so good. And it cost only $7.99 plus tax.
Today was another story entirely. I had to take him to the vet's for his annual check-up. Now my bank balance needs a serious check-up. Thank goodness the vet's animal hospital is less than five miles from my house. I had to endure his pitiful whining all the way there. The vet was out when we arrived, so the first few minutes were devoted to settling him down, weighing him (an episode in itself, trying to get him to sit still on the scales), and cleaning his ears.
Clyde misbehaves (whines, squirms, tries to get off the examination table, etc.) when I'm in the room, so when the vet arrived, I absented myself. He settled down after that. The vet and two assistants checked him over for about half an hour before telling me that he's overweight. (Like I didn't know that.)
Then she presented me with a bill for $373.69 plus tax or $2.31 short of $400.00, broken down as follows:
Annual check-up - $73.00
Distemper, parvovirus, etc. shot - $30.00 (good for two years)
Lepto vaccine - $30.00 (good for one year)
Dental descale and polish - $40.00
Nails filed - $18.00
Total deworm - $50.00
Heartworm screen - $50.00
Tranquilizer prescription - $21.38 (enough to last a year)
30 cans of special diet food - $53.28 (three weeks supply)
1 package of special diet treats - $13.97
I'm almost certain a couple of visits to a good psychiatrist wouldn't have cost that much.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Now I have to tell you about an amusing incident that occurred later:
After I returned from the vet's, I dropped Clyde at the house (He's too expensive to risk taking downtown with me. :-)) and went to buy some groceries. (To be completed later - C needs my help.)
Two bands of thunderstorms made their way through this region today. Chicken Little headed for the basement and made good use of her time down there by giving it a thorough sweeping. I stayed in the central portion, though. Didn't get scared enough to hide in the cold cellar.
Poor old Clyde (who, by the way, has managed to escape from his harness each of the past four days despite making it tighter each time) was in a state. His blood pressure was probably higher than mine. He stayed right at my heels, panting and trembling. I had to give him a tranquilizer.
This evening's storm was not as violent as the one we experienced this morning, so I spent much of my time poring over seed catalogues and found that my mystery plant from yesterday's post is an annual crysanthemum - Chrysanthemum carinatum, to be exact. I've marked it in this year's catalogue so I won't forget to plant it again next year.
I can't believe how absolutely mindless I can be at times. This year, I decided to start a cutting bed and start annuals from seed. Never having cultivated annuals before, you would think I'd have had the foresight to label them. Did I? NOT!! Except for a couple that are easily recognizable (candytuft, cosmos, zinnias and cleome) I haven't got the faintest idea of what I planted. Too bad, because this one's really pretty and I'd like to plant it again next year. I started it inside, but didn't bother to mark the pot.
Yesterday was a bit stressful. My found hound managed to free himself yet again. I call him my found hound because a neighbour, assuming he was one of C's hunting dogs, brought him to us about four years ago. He was really skinny, but still full of energy. The vet thinks he was about a year old at the time - still not much more than a big, awkward puppy. I thought that he may have been left behind by a hunter after he wandered too far, so I told everyone I knew, put an ad in the local paper, and made posters and put them up all over town with negative results. I fell in love with him, dubbed him Clyde, and allowed him to adopt us. (As time went by, having become intimately acquainted with the little rascal, I now believe he may have been discarded by a hunter. He's gun-shy to the point of cowering, trembling and hiding whenever he hears a loud noise.)
Now, one would think that a foundling would be an inexpensive proposition. WRONG!! First came an initial veterinary examination - $$$. Clyde was underweight and needed high-protein food - $$$, and flea protection - $$$. Of course, I just had to buy him a nice collar and retractable leash - $$$. Next, I needed to trim his claws. That precipitated a fruitless episode of extreme exertion on my part and on C's. Hence, he goes to the vet every six weeks for a pedicure - $$$, $$$, $$$. He's a runner, so I had to buy a long chain - $$$. Then he barked incessantly at dogs, passing motorists, squirrels, pedestrians, etc. Out of consideration for my neighbours, I bought a 'bark collar' - $$$. This particular device, while effective, gave him an electrical shock each time he barked. I came to regard it as cruel, so I bought a different kind - an equally effective one that sprays eucalyptus whenever he barks - $$$. (He eventually learned not to bark all the time and no longer needs to wear that collar.) One day when C had taken him for a walk, he bolted after a squirrel and broke his retractable leash, so I bought a new, heavy-duty one - $$$. It lasted a few months till he decided to chase something again, so I had to buy a conventional leash - $$$. On his second visit to the vet, she discovered he had a mild case of heartworm and needed medication for that - $$$. When he nearly had a heart attack from fear of a thunderstorm, I took him back to the vet who prescribed tranquilizers - $$$. He eventually became overweight, so I need to buy special food to try (unsuccessfully) to slim him down - $$$.
Yesterday, he managed to slip his collar for the umpteenth time. Because he has a small head (due, no doubt, to a lack of brains) and a fat neck (due to his propensity for stealing the cat's food), I couldn't make it smaller without strangling him. I happened to look outside to see him capering all over the busy street beside my house. I've learned not to chase him because he regards that as a game and allows me to get within a foot of him before he runs off again. I got some venison sausage out of the fridge and, after waiting for traffic to clear, coaxed him across the street and into the house by making a trail of sausage bits. Then I headed for the local Co-op to buy a harness - $$$. He is, without a doubt, the most expensive found hound in history.
Not only that, but the nursery at the Co-op had an end-of-season sale of perennials. I've been attending 'Plant Buyers Anonymous' meetings regularly, but the temptation was just too much yesterday. When I couldn't reach my sponsor, I had a serious relapse and bought some more - a stonecrop (even though I have one at home that I could split), a spotted bellflower calendula, a beautiful little gold hosta, a spotted bugloss, and one that I've never seen before - a cotula 'Pratt's Black Brass Buttons', all for $10.00. While I tend to be frugal in most other aspects of my life, I'm afraid I overspend drastically on pets and plants.
Yesterday was warm and windy. I spent a good portion of it working on my shade bed at the farm. C actually helped, although I doubt he'd want me to tell anyone. He's always insisted that he can't be bothered growing anything that can't be eaten. I think the flowers have worked their magic on him. He did some hand weeding while I worked at widening and edging the new bed.
I didn't go to the farm today. We had heavy, heavy thundershowers. When C headed down to feed the animals, he discovered that the downpour had created runnels through my glads and caused some to fall over. He straightened them up and firmed the soil around them.
I'm happy with my amaranth, even though it occupies much more space than I anticipated:
d I really like the colour and texture of the grass (roots contained in a large sunken pot):
But my caladium is definitely not the right plant for the urn at my front door:
And the candytuft is lovely, but I shouldn't have interspersed it with snapdragons: