After being cooped up for a year, I'm sure we were all anxious to make this a summer to remember. I spent a lot of time in the greenhouse and in the garden this spring and summer, and after several months getting the garden established, now is the time of year when the harvests start rolling in. It's been unusually hot this summer, with hot temperatures arriving early, which has been great for most things in the garden. Tomatoes are ripening about two weeks earlier than usual, and we've already been inundated with zucchini and summer squash. Our rainbow harvest also includes lemon cucumbers, Dragon's tongue beans, rainbow chard, and basil which we've been enjoying in our garden fresh meals. The beans and corn in the three sisters garden are taller than I am, and it was also a really great year for sunflowers this year. I usually don't get to harvest any mature seeds from the sunflowers because the chipmunks and wild birds typically eat them all so this year I was thrilled to be able to harvest sunflowers with their seeds intact, and the chickens will enjoy them for treat time.
The county fair was back on this year, and I had a great time submitting all of my entries and seeing how they did. I entered three dozen items including fresh vegetables and flowers, dried and canned foods, eggs, and feathers, and I brought home 33 ribbons and $98 in prize money which is not too shabby! Another highlight of the summer is that the kale-chive pesto recipe that I created last year is included in the FarmMade Cookbook that was released this summer. I'm really excited about that, and it makes it all the more fun to make this recipe - it's a great way to use the kale and chives that grow so prolifically here and it also freezes well for enjoying over the winter.
With a few stretches of the temperatures soaring over 100 degrees for several days in a row we had to get creative to keep everyone cool and safe. We added a fan in the main chicken coop, added more shade to the turkey yard with shade umbrellas and a pop up canopy, we watered the ground the night before especially hot days, added frozen bottles of water to the nest boxes, and we had lots of watermelon parties and frozen berry treats. Even so, we still lost one of our turkey hens and Brown Rooster's son Brown Junior. One thing that I'm thankful for is that I decided not to have any of our broody turkeys hatch poults (baby turkeys) this summer, because I knew it would be a busy one and I thought that added responsibility might be one thing too many for me. Looking back now I'm really glad I made that decision because if we had hatched turkeys, the poults would have been a few weeks old when the 110 degree days hit, and I think it's very possible that we would have lost some which would have been even more heartbreaking than the losses we had.
The new chicks we added to the flock this spring are all doing well. They are five months old now and have almost all started laying. There are some really beautiful feather colors and patterns and lots of fun personalities. They have added some beautiful dark browns, blues and olives to my egg basket that make gathering eggs even more exciting than usual these days. I'll be sharing about the fun new breeds that I added to our flock and our egg rainbow in my blog next month. If you are not already a subscriber to my blog, I hope you'll pop over to the bottom of the home page of my website and subscribe now, and thanks for following along on our farm adventures!