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Non-strawberry Harvest.

We had our first non-strawberries harvest today. Three things. Peas, pie cherries, and red currants.

Peas in pods and red currants.

Yes, I put the red currants into a tiny bowl so it looks like a bigger harvest. There really aren’t enough of these berries to do anything with, so I’ll have to come up with something creative.

The peas are in their pods and this is just a tiny fraction of the peas that weren’t ready for harvesting.

All removed from their pods, ready for cooking this evening for dinner

We also had three, count ’em, three pie cherries which we promptly ate. Maybe next year we’ll have enough to make a small pie! There are a few red raspberries, a few black currants, a few Gooseberries and a few Josta Berries which are close to being ripe. There are quite a few black raspberries and I’ll be able to make something with them whenever they are ripe, another couple of weeks probably.

The tomato plants have set three tomatoes so far which are about marble size, one on one plant and two on another. There are a couple of peppers which have set as well. And the zucchini plant is making a zucchini. It will get carried away with itself soon. Lettuce is growing and so is the Swiss Chard. Potatoes are growing really tall, so the past couple of days we’ve added dirt around the plants to encourage more potatoes to grow. And the onions look great. Corn plants are getting tall but no sign of flowers yet. And there are two baby cucumbers.

We’ve been eating strawberries every couple of days since they first got ripe. Strawberry heaven! Next year will be much better harvest for the strawberry plants.

In the meantime mainly what we’re doing is pulling weeds out of the bark mulch surrounding the fruit plants and raised beds, plus taking them out of the raised beds. Many many wheelbarrows of weeds have gone out recently. It’s starting to look very tidy if we don’t look too closely.

So… yay! Gardening is such fun. Especially the eating part.


Yesterday a doe showed up with her day old fawn. She parked him in wildflowers next to the garden and wandered off to do some serious munching. We didn’t see her go back to pick him up but apparently she did because she was back today, baby in toe.

So tiny! Smaller than Mishkin. He’s walking a bit better today, not quite so wobbly on his tiny little legs.

The pair was outside the window that Mish uses for keeping an eye out on the world, watching for interlopers which he always hopes never to see. So we told him there were deer to watch.

Speaking of babies….

“But mom, those things eat cats!! I don’t want to look. It’s scary!!”

Yesterday we also had a batch of Red Crossbill babies in the bird bath, splish splashing around and having a very good time.

And no post is complete without strawberries. Dan picked some yesterday and I froze part of them, and made these with the rest.

Chocolate covered strawberries are highly addictive.

Guess what’s next?

Strawberries!!!! Yes, I’m shocked too.

Yep, strawberries. But with shortcake so it’s not exactly the same!

I played around with a biscuit recipe and we will find out if it’s good, later today.

I was going to make a cake but realize it would have gotten too soggy with strawberries on top, so a shortcake is a better idea.

The only thing ripe, so far, is strawberries. Today Dan picked a large batch of them.

All are just perfectly ripe, so need to do something with them today.
Cleaned them and removed the stems.
Admired some before cleaning them off.

Then once they were all cleaned off, I divided them into small batches in a quart measuring cup, added a quarter cup of sugar and mashed them up with a potato masher. Then I put the mixture into a plastic sandwich bag, removed the extra air, and put the sandwich bags into a gallon freezer bag.

Later today I’ll make some individual shortcakes or vanilla cupcakes. I haven’t decided which to make yet. 🙂 I’ll freeze those as well. So whenever we want some strawberries shortcake for dessert it will be so easy to accomplish. All winter long!

I’ll just do this all summer as things become ripe.

More strawberries!

Yesterday was rainy with thunderstorms forecast. We got the rain, lots and lots of it. Our garden was so happy!

Male Rufous hummingbird guarding the feeder.

Our little friend was enjoying being out of the downpour and keeping everybody else away from his “flower” under the eaves. It was raining very hard when I took this picture from inside the house through the front door window. I didn’t want to scare him into the rain.

Once the rain stopped we picked strawberries and did a bit of weeding.

Six cups of strawberries for our second harvest.

We’re only picking the ones that are totally ripe and the flavor is just amazing! So that was most of our dinner.

And for dessert I made some chocolate covered strawberries.

I’ve wanted to do that since last year.

Strawberries! Yummmmm

Strawberries picked on June 8th.

This is really the first good picking, and it’s all thanks to floating row covers! The Robins are bummed but really they can find all sorts of other things to eat besides our strawberries!

We should be able to harvest a little bowl full of these beauties every couple of days for a while. Next year will be better.

Bird Watching.

Yesterday we took a drive down the San Poil River to look for birds, in particular Yellow-breasted Chat, White-headed Woodpecker, Common Loon, Bullock’s Orioles, Canyon Wren and Rock Wren, as well as anybody else that might make an appearance. Basically we went from the very top of Ferry County in the north to the very bottom in the south a distance of about 75 miles by road. We added a bit with some side trips. There are so many climatic zones in this county and some of the scenery is just gorgeous. It’s a hidden gem for the east side of the Cascades. Shhhhhh. Don’t tell anybody!

First stop was Swan Lake.

Swan Lake has a pair of Common Loons, plus it’s just a really pretty campground. The far side of the lake experienced a forest fire a few years ago, like so much of the San Poil River drainage. No loons were visible and they weren’t calling either, so we moved on.

Next stop Long Lake.

This lake is a few miles from Swan Lake and the mountains come right down to the edge of the water on both sides of the lake. It’s just gorgeous!

Looking the other direction, where the lake bends around the hillside.

There are no motors allowed on the lake due to the presence of nesting loons and other waterfowl. This lake has a lot of fish in it and they are always jumping and chasing bugs flying above the water.

Success! A Common Loon.

We just saw the one bird, and figure this is the male and his mate was sitting on her nest in the cattail marshes at the end of the lake. While we were watching him a fish jumped behind him and he swapped directions so fast, put his head down flat towards the water, opened his beak and raised his wings up a bit towards his head in a very aggressive crooked manner and he glared towards the offending trout.

We also saw a pair of Scaup and a pair of Ring-billed ducks on a smaller lake heading into Long Lake, and warblers in the brush near the side of Long Lake, but nothing else particularly special. No Swainson’s Thrush and they are usually pretty thick around the lake.

So we continued onward down the San Poil River.

Along the San Poil River where we like to stop and listen for Canyon Wrens.

It is always hit or miss for Canyon Wrens but this is one of the best places to find them in the rock slides along this particular stretch of water. This was a miss day.

The rock slides are impressive!

Some of these rocks are as big as a large car!
It’s just a really pretty place to stop.

If I ever want rocks for the garden, I know where to find them. I’ve always wanted to build my own little Stonehenge in the backyard.

There are lots of Cliff Swallows nesting under the bridge which crosses the river at this location, and usually we hear Spotted Sandpipers.

Next stop is a really pretty woods which formerly has given us White-headed Woodpeckers.

We were a bit early for the Lupines. This Ponderosa Pine woodland gets carpeted with their beautiful purple/blue flowers when you visit at the right time, probably two weeks from now.

The woods is next to the river, and another neat thing we used to see here is a Bald Eagle nest. Unfortunately about five years ago there was a big wind storm which knocked the large tree over, and destroyed the nest and the babies. It was a tragedy.

No woodpeckers this day and we need to check out some other places on our next trip down the river.

So we continued south to the Swahila Basin which is ends at Lake Roosevelt, a large reservoir created by the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River.

Tons of rose plants, tall grass and shrubs, as well as a spring feeding into a trough used by cattle create a perfect spot for Bullock’s Orioles.

We were not disappointed. There were at least a few pairs of Orioles in the brush, talking about the state of the world. This is a very bird filled spot on the otherwise dry hillsides, plus is smells wonderful with the blooming wild roses.

One of the little beauties.
Looking back down the hill and across to the east you can see how dry and sparse the vegetation is on the hillsides near where the Orioles hang out.

We continued on our path stopping at another location where Chats hang out.

We were rewarded at the next brushy spot on our drive with a Yellow-breasted Chat!

I had to wonder how many ticks you would be covered in if you ventured into the heavily vegetated area. There are so many warblers and other birds in this little draw.

We didn’t stop at another place where the rocks split and form a deep small canyon next to the road, which is a reliable place for Canyon Wrens. We were hungry and wanting our lunch.

Next stop is along the side of Lake Roosevelt.

Panoramic view of the lake where we always go for a picnic lunch. It’s a favorite fishing spot as you can get down to the side of the water without having to use climbing ropes.
Turned around from the water this is the hillside which always has interesting things to look at.

There’s always a Rock Wren along the rocks and we were not disappointed!

He was there and singing. Cute little guy! Too tiny to show in this picture.
Also on the hillside was a roaming gang of Nubian Goats.

They were nibbling their way along the rocks. Circling them and playing all along the hillside were several Turkey Vultures. The goats should be worried.

This whole area is part of a big ranch which has a variety of interesting cattle, including some Long-Horns. Sometimes we drive further to see what else they have but today we did not go further along the road.

We also saw a Long-billed Curlew flying up-river. That was cool!

Driving back out and heading north, a view of the lake looking north, from up on the hillside.
And looking the other direction from the same location.

It’s all so green!!! In a matter of a couple of weeks at most, all the grass will turn brown and it becomes somewhat drab. But it smells good with all the sage brush.

What a fun day!


Picked some chard this morning, washed it and chopped it up.

Just being able to have something fresh from the garden is so wonderful!

Added it, along with some red and green bell peppers, onions and chopped canned green chilies and smoked paprika to tofu, and made a scramble.

Toasted some of our homemade bread, add tobasco sauce. And breakfast is served.

Wish you were here.

Then I made cookies.

Snickerdoodles. Gotta love cinnamon!!

And I’m making a batch of cheese cushions. The rolls are rising in the oven at the moment. It will be another hour or so before I can bake them.

Turned out really delicious!

Cool storm clouds.

Yesterday evenings storm clouds that got all ruffled came over the mountains to the west.

They look like they mean business.
I figured rock and roll was in our immediate future.
But all we got was a little rain.

Whew. Mish was tired of having to cower under the covers of our bed. He’s spent hours hiding in there, lately. He’s a fair weather kitty with no appreciation for the beauty of cloud formations.

Gardening Progress

It’s only the 23rd of May and everything is planted in the garden. Only a couple of things haven’t come up yet – basil seeds and rosemary seeds have yet to germinate. Even the corn is starting to come up!! That’s exciting.

So today was all about the weeds. The potato plants were completely covered by weeds, unfortunately bind weed which is an invasive European Morning Glory. It is everywhere. We have some long range plans to get rid of it but this summer it will just be the same old pull it out as quickly as we see it above ground.

All of the potatoes are up in both raised beds, so that’s good.

They will do a lot better now that they can take advantage of sunshine, no longer being shaded by the nasty bind weed.

The onions are also looking very perky if still small. But we have to keep reminding ourselves it isn’t even June yet.

This really should give us enough onions to last a year.

Since the onions are Walla Walla Sweet onions they don’t keep well, so I will chop them up and freeze them in individual recipe size batches. Sure makes using them easy, just take a batch out of the freezer and add them to whatever I’m cooking!

Almost all the asparagus came up and now we just wait.

Next year we can harvest a shoot from each plant, maybe. It takes a while to get established. The year after it will be full production and we’ll have all the asparagus we want.

The Black Currant set a few berries and it looks like part of the plant didn’t survive the winter.

The Black Currant will grow to be a really big plant so it doesn’t really matter that part of it didn’t survive the cold temperatures last winter. We’ll be needing to cut it back at some point, in any event.

The cherry tree set a bunch of fruit.

It’s such a tiny tree!! There won’t be enough for a pie or anything like that, but we will definitely get a taste. This year is all about the plant growing bigger and getting stronger. Very encouraging that it set some fruit. The peach tree had no blossoms, and the apple tree may have set one apple. The apricot tree is probably dead and needs to be replaced. We’ll try a different variety for a zone 4 instead of zone 5 temperatures.

There are tiny corn plants in this picture!

That’s really exciting to see baby corn plants. They will grow very quickly! The squash hasn’t germinated either. Hmmmm. Hopefully it didn’t get killed with the weeds we removed.

The peas are doing well but no blossoms yet. They should be blooming any time now.

We’ve already harvested swiss chard from the plants at the end of the pea bed, which over-wintered. We planted a bunch more chard so that I can preserve that for the winter, too.

Three tomato plants, nine pepper plants, and a bunch of basil seeds live in this bed.

The peppers and tomatoes are both still baby plants but are starting to get over the shock of transplanting and perking up.

The two older beds of strawberries are looking promising.

We need to get some hoops and something to cover these plants, or the robins will get most of the fruit. Tons of flowers which are setting fruit, so this is the one thing we’ll have pretty much a full harvest to play with this year.

Lots of berries on these red currant plants.

We have two of the red currant plants which should give us lots of jelly when they get to be five feet tall. Still babies, we may have enough to make one jar of jelly this year. I figure it will be several years before these are in full production.

Raspberry canes are popping up all over these two rows.

None of the raspberry plants are blooming yet, and the new growth is only a foot tall, or a few may be a couple of feet tall. We should get quite a few raspberries to play with this year.

Chives, oregano and thyme are doing great.

I planted some parsley seeds in the open spot in this bed and they haven’t come up yet. But I can use the other herbs now!

Sage and basil, and no rosemary up yet.

I planted a whole bunch of basil seeds nest to the tomatoes and peppers. I see lots of pesto in our future.

The lilac bush is in full bloom and smells wonderful whenever we walk out on the front porch.

The iris and peony are both blooming, and the columbine will be blooming soon. In the garden the delphinium plants are looking very healthy and happy; we should get quite a few flowers from those in a month or so.

Angry looking cloud over the mountains to the west.

We decided that coming inside was a good idea. Rain isn’t supposed to be here until late afternoon, but I’m not sure that cloud got the memo.

Baby Great Horned Owl in the trees behind our house.

We haven’t been hearing the baby and parents yelling their heads off for the last couple of days. I hope that means they have gone somewhere else and not that something happened to their baby. He isn’t flying very well yet, missing a lot of his feathers. Right now he’s mostly a fluff ball.

So the rest of the garden news is that the rhubarb plant is very happy and growing well. It’s still too tiny to see from the house but it’s only May 23rd! I have to keep telling myself that.

Carrots and lettuce and beets are all up but very tiny at the moment. A picture of that would greatly resemble dirt.

Black raspberries and josta berries and gooseberries have all set fruit, in tiny amounts. We’ll just get to taste them this year.

Anticipation is good for the soul. Or patience is a virtue? I always wonder who came up with that idea!

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