Seredipity Saturday

(This afternoon’s view of the pond from above the wildflower meadow.)

In between making salsa and chopping up sweet peppers for freezing, I took a short stroll out by the pond to see what’s happening out there lately.  We had a cold front move through last night, bringing a little of the rain we so badly need.  A couple of days of gentle showers would be nice but we’ll take what we can get.

The temperature has cooled down considerably.  We had to break out the blankets last night.  It’s not yet cold enough to turn the heat on, thank goodness.  But too cold to sleep with the windows open.

It has been breezy and downright blustery at times.  The wind did its usual howling, moaning, groaning song throughout the night.

Some of the leaves on the trees have turned yellow and red.  Some of the leaves have been falling.  I think that is due, in part, to the lack of rain.  Driving around the area earlier today, we noticed that the corn and soybean fields are looking pretty dry and brown.

Some of the flowers are going or have gone to seed.  Others — the goldenrod and asters, for instance — are just starting to bloom.

And the bees are still out and about, doing their dance around and on the flowers.  No sign of any butterflies today, and I still have not seen so much as one monarch this year.  That puzzles me greatly.

I’d better get back upstairs and continue my work on the salsa.  It’s looking and tasting pretty good so far.  Although I am grateful for the abundant harvest this year, I will be happy to be finished with all the prepping, canning, and freezing.

Which reminds me…

Joanne asked me why we call it “canning” here in the U.S.  I found a discussion of the subject here.  Since there were a couple of different explanations (meaning no one really knows?), I decided it was best just to give you the link so you can read all about it.  One of these days — perhaps when the weather is cold and gray and there are no more vegetables to preserve — I am going to see what I can find about the history of preserving food.  I think it would be a fascinating subject to study for a little while.


(Holzwarth Historic Site, Rocky Mountain National Park)

One life stamps and influences another, which in turn stamps and influences another, on and on, until the soul of human experience breathes on in generations we’ll never even meet.

~ Mary Kay Blakely

An interesting side-effect of all the canning and freezing I do at this time of year is that I not only feel a deeper connection to the land I live on and the community I am a part of, but I also feel part of a long line of women (and some men) who have spent the latter months of summer and the early months of autumn preserving the harvest.

It’s sometimes hard for me to imagine what it must have been like trying to keep food around well into the winter months without the modern appliances we have now.

The reason I preserve some of the harvest is to save money since I am no longer working outside of the home.  But I also do it because I like opening a jar of tomatoes in the depths of winter, when the world outside of my door is covered in snow and ice, and getting a whiff of summer as I sniff the tomatoes to make sure all is well (and not rotting).

Yesterday I finally finished up canning the tomatoes.  I’m thinking of heading over to Hilgert’s for another bushel of them as tomatoes are something I use a lot of in cooking.  They go into soups, stews, chili, pasta sauces, and probably plenty of other things not coming to mind at the moment.

(My freshly canned tomatoes, in their jars and ready for winter.)

Which reminds me…

I made a risotto the other night as part of my adventures in cooking.  It was fabulous.  I’ll share the recipe with you soon.

More faces from the county fair

Another day.  Another batch of tomatoes sitting in a boiling water bath while I wait for them to finish processing.  I hope today’s canning adventures are successful.  I had a little trouble yesterday.  As the jars of tomatoes were processing, they were leaking.  The jars didn’t seal so I dumped them all out into a bowl and decided to start over.

I would take photos of all those beautiful red tomatoes but — would you believe it?  —  I still haven’t uploaded and looked at all of the Colorado pictures.  It’s not a lack of motivation.  It’s a lack of time.  And a lack of space.  My computer has run out of room.

I did manage to clear out some of the old photos and move them on to the back-up hard drive.  That should give me room for a few hundred or so of the Colorado pictures.  I hope.

I noticed this morning that the leaves on the maple trees out front are starting to fall and carpet the lawn.  It’s the lack of rain, I think.  We have had very little rain this month.  I am about ready to do a rain dance.  Hopefully we’ll get some rain from the cold front that is supposed to move through tonight or tomorrow.

That’s about it from the Bogs for now.  The tomatoes are almost finished.  I think I’ll make some salsa today, once I’m finished with the canning.  We’ve invited friends to come over on Sunday and will be having fish tacos.  Fresh salsa would be a good thing to have with those.

The toad

I’m busy canning tomatoes, pickling peppers, and all sorts of other harvest-related activities.  So I thought I’d let this little guy who recently showed up on our new patio hold some space here for me until I can get back to regular blogging.

In the world of animal totems, toads are said to represent enchantment, luck, longevity, and blessings.  That seems a lot for this little guy, but he did enchant me with his beautiful color and I feel lucky as well as blessed to have seen him.

I guess that isn’t too much for a little guy after all.

It is also said that if a frog or toad shows up in your life, change or a metamorphosis is about to take place and it may be time to take a leap onto a new life path.  Today I am taking a leap and starting out on a new/old path that may well bring change to my life.

But you’ll have to wait to hear about it as I want some time to learn before I start to write.

I have seen a lot of toads throughout the summer, in the garden and around the new patio.  More than usual.  It seems they might have been trying to tell me something.  All I had to do was pay attention.


Faces from the County Fair (Part Two)

(Miss Maddy on an antique tractor.)

My favorite faces at the county fair were those of my granddaughters, Emma and Maddy.  Maddy really liked the tractor she’s sitting on in the above photo.  Her father tried moving her to other tractors but she kept wanting to come back to this one.

Almost all of the pigs were sleeping when we passed through the swine barn.  It made me wonder how much time they usually spend sleeping.

Many of the sheep were already shorn, but there was this one…

Looks like it could use a haircut.

I think one of Emma’s favorites involved the horses being put through their paces by the young girls.  I gather Emma has had a few riding lessons.

(Emma watching the horses.)

(Trotting towards the camera.)

The alpacas cracked me up.  I’d like to learn about raising alpacas.  They seem like interesting animals.

Faces from the County Fair (Part One)

It’s that time of year again.  Or rather, it was that time of year again as the fair ended yesterday.  If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that attending the Portage County Randolph Fair has become a tradition with us and with our oldest son and his family who join us each year to have a look at the animals, maybe ride a ride, maybe sample some food, and just generally enjoy the day and each others company.

Every year I find the fair to be a more interesting experience, partly because rural living has become more and more our way of life.  Not completely.  Not yet.  Probably not ever as we do enjoy certain aspects of being near a few cities that allow us to indulge in the benefits of their cultural scene.  But when you have a small amount of acreage to take care of and you realize that acreage includes other beings that depend on your good guardianship, you start to get more involved and attuned to country living.  Well, we did.  I really can’t speak for others.

In my attempts to photograph the county fair in ways that differ from previous years, I’ve found myself focusing on different aspects each year.

If you have an eye for the little details of blogging, you will have noticed that two of the categories I picked for this post are “food” and “harvest.”  That is part of the purpose of the county fair.  Animals are sold to be harvested (as food) or for reproduction or for the harvest of their milk as a result of the reproduction.  Auctions take place throughout the week.  While browsing through the swine area I noticed that some of the pigs were going for $1.45/lb.  The Big Pig went for $13.00/lb.

That’s some pig.

I suppose a disclaimer is in order so here goes:  I did not take these photos with the intent to pass on some sort of message.  I took them as part of my own learning process in life, healthful living, and photography.  If you find some sort of statement or message in them, that’s cool.  But that’s also your interpretation.  I’m still working on mine.  I am, as someone once said, a work in progress.

Usually when I take photos of animals I try to encompass the entire body.  Last year I started to focus on faces but quit after a few shots, deciding to try it again another time as it didn’t seem to be working out.

The cows, both dairy and beef, don’t seem to be the Happy Cows as advertised on television (perhaps because they are not living in California where, it seems, all of the happy creatures live).  But it could be they would prefer to be on the farm and not at the fair getting gawked at by crowds of people.

Sometimes they gawk back.

The girls (my granddaughters) enjoyed looking at and petting the animals.  Miss Madison Grace in particular got very excited over some of the sheep and pigs.  She showed no fear when it came to reaching out and touching the animals, no matter how big they were.

The Scottish Highland cattle are my favorites, in part because Scotland has been (so far) one of my favorite countries to visit.  I like their long hair, long horns, and their long and beautiful eyelashes.  I like that they remind me of seeing them in the Highlands of Scotland, grazing amongst all that rugged beauty.  Right above them (at the fair)  there is a sign which states “Freezer Beef.”  I’ve taken pictures of the calves — usually stationed below the sign — in previous years.

It is, to me, an enlightening experience to look into the eyes of the animals I photographed on this visit to the fair.  Not that I haven’t looked before.  It was different this time although I still can’t pinpoint the how’s or why’s of it.

I’ll be back with a few more faces from the fair tomorrow.

Green and brown

One of the saddest sights (to me) during our trip was the increase in the number of trees affected by the mountain pine beetle.  I know the beetles are considered a natural condition but to see so many trees dying, dead, and cut down was disheartening.  Quite a few of the campgrounds within Rocky Mountain National Park are almost devoid of trees.  What used to be wooded, shady campsites are now wide open sunny spots dotted by numerous tree stumps.

Even so, the dead trees didn’t detract from the beauty of the area.  The browns and grays mixed in with the greens reminded me more of autumn than of summer.

Some of the hillsides near Shadow Mountain Lake (which is near Grand Lake, where we stayed Tuesday through Friday during the first week of our trip) are dotted with piles of wood from the cut down trees.

(Near Shadow Mountain Lake.)

The western portion of Rocky Mountain National Park has been affected more than the eastern side.  There are still patches of green among the trees but you can see in the photos above and below that there are large swaths of brown and gray.

A harsh, cold winter would kill the beetle eggs and larvae.  Temperatures in the Rocky Mountains have been warmer than usual over the past ten years, said to be due to general climate change.  Precipitation levels have been down as well and the combination of the two (climate change and lack of precipitation) has caused the infestation to worsen.

Meanwhile, back at Breezy Acres…

I paid a visit to Hilgert’s Farm Market today.  The roma tomatoes and peppers are now coming in like gangbusters.  I came home with two pecks of peppers (green bell peppers and “Italian roasters”).  They are gorgeous.  I’ll be freezing most of them.  I do want to roast some of the Italian roasters to put in a salad tonight and save some the bell peppers to make stuffed peppers tomorrow tonight.

I’ll be going back later in the week to pick up a bushel of the roma tomatoes for canning and a peck of the Hungarian sweet peppers for freezing.