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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Summer in Maine

We had summer this week -- or maybe August. Temperatures reached and exceeded the 90 degrees (F) mark. I am glad that this does not go on for long, here in Maine. Would be happy to not see that 9 in the tens place ever in a forecast or as a high temperature for the day, but it happens. I AM thankful that (a) it doesn't happen often, (b) go on for long and that (c) it cools off in the evening. I am also thankful that I am no longer working off the farm, so that when I get up before the sun, which I do on these "summer" days, I can have my coffee and hit the garden, instead of the road, as the sun rises over the nearby trees.

This week has been a routine of early mornings, moving soaker hoses from row to row in the early morning fog and dew, followed by a bit of weeding or picking before starting the irrigation and tending the fowl. By the time I am done in the barnyard, I am feeling the heat attacking the back of my neck and I am glad to be able to retire to the house and indoor chores.

This week the indoor chores have been mostly involving blueberries, purchased at the Brewer Farmers Market with the extra benefit of their food stamp matching program which allowed me to buy two 10# boxes for the price of one! One batch was quickly divvied out into quart size freezer bags and tucked into odd spots in the small "meat" freezer. The second batch was divided into makings for blueberry syrup and jam, both "lower sugar" varieties using a 50/50 blend of sugar and Splenda for the benefit of my diabetic. I discovered that I was way short of jelly jars so had to make a run to Corinth since I forgot them on my Wednesday town run. Paid more, of course, but saved gas and driving time. I think, if I didn't count the time, it would be considered a wash, after checking the price in Bangor today.  Some of the berries I just crushed with some sugar on them for blueberry shortcake, as well. I had cake in the freezer, left from strawberry season... good desert and more freezer room liberated!

To get things out of order... the first round of pressure canning of pre-cooked pieces of That Pig was a rousing success! All of the jars kept over 90% of their liquid and most kept most of it. I realized after the fact that I did process them at "too high" a pressure; these guys only require 10 pounds and the weight I have for the pressure canner only does 15 pounds. I now have a variable one on its way, should arrive Monday. Unfortunately the next batch is ready to be canned and will also be done with 15 pounds. Since I am expecting to use this mostly for pulled pork or as an ingredient in stir fry or the like, I am not worried about the over-processing, as it is not a safety issue. I also found out that one of the local meat processing outfits WILL smoke home-butchered bacon... so that big piece will be thawing in the fridge soon and will be sent off to be done. When I get it back, it will be also in smaller amounts which will fit in the freezers more easily and make space. I am glad that most of what remains in the garden is stuff that does not need freezing, but stores "on the shelf" or in a cool, dark location or will be canned.

The heat has, however, set me behind in the hex painting department. I have been taking the time I needed to "just sit" during the heat of the day -- getting out of the heat of the kitchen -- and hopefully will be able to quickly complete the 24" sign that I have drawn and ready to paint during the rainy days predicted early in the week.