I did some shopping yesterday, not the way I usually spend my time but I had some things I really needed at the same time I got paid for some work so off I went. I have canned so much that I found myself woefully short of wide mouth quart canning jars. If I had it to do over again I would have never purchased any narrow mouth jars other than pints. I have access to lots of peaches and they need wide mouths. So off I went to Florence Hardware, a true hardware store with lots of great stuff from tools to food preservation and kitchen stuff. I got the jars I needed before my canning class on Saturday, as well as some decorative jars for some honey products I want to market. Then I found a nice kitchen scale. The one I have only goes up to two pounds and I needed a larger one. I also found some low muck boots for Bruce. He’s been wanting something for those early morning treks to the garden and these are so nice, I’m thinking of getting myself a pair.

We had some excitement around here last night. The young woman who bought the cows that I’m getting a share of called to say that they were  missing. Bruce went out in the truck, looking high and low but he saw no sign of them. Cows don’t generally travel far so I’m hoping they’ll be home this morning. I hope we don’t have cattle rustlers.

I put up another big bunch of tomato sauce yesterday. For some reason, ‘Im flying solo a lot this year and it isn’t anywhere near as much fun as canning with friends. I’m thinking of starting a canning cooperative. If Bruce gets the outdoor kitchen finished (in all his spare time) I could offer the space and equipment in exchange for a small fee to pay for the gas. I have no idea how it would work but I know there must be a model out there.

I’m looking for a recipe. I want to make a pure honey lollipops. I have recipes that call for cream (more like a caramel) but I just want a plain, clear candy. My friend, Barbara, is one of the best cooks I know and confections are her specialty so I’m hoping she can come up with something. I went on-line but most of what I found was just offers to sell me candy.

On a final note: We are going over the garden and have given it a c- for the year. Between the woodchucks and the drought we had no brassicas, a poor potato harvest, a lousy green been harvest and terrible peppers. The only thing I can say about the sweet potatoes is that I at least I learned that they will grow here but there is no use trying again without woodchuck protection. They loved the tops and ate them to the ground until I wised up and devised a cover for them. Tomatoes nearly made up for it and the corn was amazing. Squash did well as did the onions and root crops. But this points out why I store food. I still hear people say they will grow a garden when times get tough enough but growing a good garden is a work in progress and Mother Nature always bats last. If it isn’t blight, it’s drought or varmints or early frost or late frost or locusts or deer. It takes a huge investment of time and money (you heard me-money) and experience before you get things right and even then you are at the mercy of luck and beetles. We are investing in more row covers and fencing and buying one hundred pounds of potatoes to get us  through the winter.

But there are life’s little pleasures to make up for no sweet potatoes. I loved surprising Bruce with the muck boots. Phoebe is loving  her new bike, salvaged from the dump by a friend who not only got it for her but revamped it to fit her perfectly. She’s getting the hang of the gears and brakes and looks so darn cute tooling around on it that it just makes me smile. Looking at the sweet little farm is fun but it mostly makes me appreciate things like a walkable community, new windows and great neighbors. Our house is very fine house, to borrow some song lyrics, and one of life’s little pleasures is noticing that.

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