At the end of the end of the four days rain was coming. So you can bet your life we were busy haying. Will got his last neighboring field round baled on Saturday and we planned on doing our oats/alfalfa field, which had been cut on Friday, on Sunday. But after making one round with the square baler, it was evident the hay was too green to bale. And it was supposed to rain on Monday. We had no choice; that hay would mold if baled so we had to wait and pray for dry weather, despite the weather forecast. All the rest of Sunday it was partly cloudy and breezy. We checked the field mid-morning Monday and the hay was drier but not quite enough. Peeping at the sky, we said a few more prayers while we watched clouds building. Just before noon, the hay seemed dry enough. Will loosened up the tension on the baler a bit so it wouldn’t pack the hay so tightly and hit the field. I followed on the four wheeler to check the bales. They were perfect! With gratitude, I watched awhile as Will continued baling.

Finally, in an hour, there were 160 bales of hay on the ground, but clouds were building up, dark and threatening, to the south. Will hooked the new hay wagon he’d built to the Ford tractor and I drove to the fields. With Will putting bales on the wagon, then hopping up to stack them, we filled the wagon quickly. But then came unloading — manually. At the hay elevator, Will quickly threw off a good stack then headed for the mow to receive them as I placed them on the elevator. In this fashion, we managed to get all 160 bales in the barn, except for some which were heavy, possibly too green. These went into the training ring barn, in a single layer so they wouldn’t heat up. We didn’t want to chance burning down the barn due to stacking too-green hay, which can catch fire. Shortly after, it began to rain. But we didn’t care then; the hay was safe. Let me tell you, we were tired puppies for a couple of days!

I dug the rest of the garlic, which turned out so well. We’ll have plenty to eat over winter and also to replant this fall.

Check out these Gargamel plum tomatoes! Wow, what color they add to a salad.

Now I’m working on beginning to save seed from our 150 varieties of tomatoes as they ripen in the garden. Some, like Mia’s Italian Paste are old favorites. Others, like Gargamel, are new stars in our lineup. I sit on the front porch with a newspaper under a coffee cup then cut the tomatoes in halves or quarters, then with my thumb, I squirt our the seeds and gel from each seed cell. I write the variety’s name on a coated paper plate then bring the cup with the seeds in it into the house where I add half again as much warm water. The cup is then set on the paper plate, on the counter to ferment for three days. After this time, I dump the contents into a wire sieve, held under warm running water, and with my fingers, I smash the remaining tomato bits through the wire while rinsing. Finally, only the good seeds remain. I shake the sieve well, then dump the seeds out onto the paper plate. This plate is then put on a wire rack so the seeds can thoroughly dry. I’ll do several varieties of tomato each day.

Our old standby, Mia’s Italian Paste which is tasty, big, blemish free, and prolific, not to mention early.

Our gardens are doing so well now that it’s unbelievable. (Please God, no frost!) The Seneca Round Nose corn has huge cobs and the Yukon Supreme is ready to eat. I’ll be seeding peppers real soon as we have a terrific crop. I’ll also be making plenty of Cowboy, Cowgirl, and Vaquero candy from them, once the seeds have been saved. I can’t wait!

The nice cobs of Yukon Supreme are ready for munching. Can’t wait till dinner time.

— Jackie

7 COMMENTS

  1. Hay fires are scary! Especially big round bales of alfalfa. One caught fire in a field across from my brother’s in rural Oklahoma. Firefighters were there quick but it took a day and a half to get under control, including a nearby tree which caught. They got a good rainstorm a few days later which helped dampen things down. Fortunately it was caught quick before any other bales caught.

    • Yes, they are. When I was a teenager, I worked for a riding stable. They had gotten in a semi load of square bales, which were stacked in the barn loft. When I got to work, there was SMOKE coming out of the loft! We went crazy, leading out horses into an outside ring then headed for the loft while someone called the fire department. Believe it or not, we unloaded that load of smoldering square bales to ground level, where others carried them far from the barn. BEFORE the fire department arrived. We were that scared. Some of the bales were a little green and started smoking. What a lesson.

  2. What is Vaquero Candy? We make Cowboy Candy by the pint with 40LB boxes of jalapenos from the store. I have also used the syrup to make XXXX Cowboy Candy with habaneros & serranos.

    • What I do is make a double or triple batch of Cowboy Candy syrup, can up the Cowboy Candy, then strain the syrup to remove any remaining jalapeno seeds. I make Cowgirl Candy then, using a mix of various colored sweet pepper larger dices, canned with the syrup. Then I grind a mix of different colored sweet peppers along with a few seeded Sugar Rush Peach hot peppers (for fruity taste) and can that relish, using the flavored Cowboy Candy syrup. 1, 2, 3! Lots of good eating and fast to put up too!

  3. That is a LOT of work! I have loaded and stacked plenty of hay and it’s heavy itchy and very hard work. I’m amazed how you and Will can do so much as you’re not “spring chickens” anymore. Is the yukon supreme corn sweet and tender? We keep trying different kinds and haven’t settled on one we really like yet. We are in NW Montana. You are simply amazing!!!😊

    • I don’t know about that; we just keep on putting one foot ahead of the other. Yukon Supreme is sweet and tender although we like the flavor of Seneca Sunrise a little better; just a personal preference…. As with all open pollinated sweet corn, you do have to pick and eat it when it’s ready as it doesn’t hold long in the garden or fridge after getting ready.

  4. Jackie, you and Will are amazing characters, and I say that in the most respectful way. Characters, acting in, and portraying an amazing manner in which most of us can only stand in awe of. Your efforts and hard work put to shame the average citizen, and inspire a world filled with people who could only dare to dream of so much freedom. God bless you both.

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