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Making do

August 14, 2008

I grew up eating out of our garden and orchard.  Store bought didn’t happen very often. So, I don’t have any qualms about eating less than perfect looking food.   With food prices on the rise and more people gardening, people will have to get used to blemished food.  (Pesticides aren’t good for you, and sometimes it is easier to just put up barriers to the pest or grow resistant varieties.)   Organic wasn’t even heard of, you just gardened and lived with the pests.  Since my folks and all my gardening mentors used composted animal manure, I think they were dodging the pest bullet so common in many vegetable gardens.  I don’t even remember crop rotating being done, but the pests and diseases stayed away, for the most part, and if there were bug holes or, heaven forbid, BUGS, the bad spots were cut away and the good part was utilized.

They also cooked with what was on hand, some wonderful meals can be made in a snap if you have a well-stocked pantry and are able to think outside of the box.  Sometimes other factors come into play when meal planning around here.  In the last week the deer have been getting more and more cagey, and expanding their palate.  First, the carrots, and then the strawberry plants, and now they have decided to start in on one of our little interplantings of cabbage.  They are getting quite good at multi-tasking too.  Last, night while dining on cabbage, they thinned some carrots and danced tromped on the Walla Walla Sweet Onions.  So I guess I will make my favorite refrigerator slaw, and price 9′ woven wire while I’m at it. 

I got this recipe from an old cabbage farmer, but it used too much sugar, so I have changed it to match what is usually around needing used up.

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Bug and venison deer nibbled cabbage, venison deer thinned carrots, and a pepper that has sunscald because someone pulled some tall weeds.


1 Medium head of cabbage, shredded or chopped fine.
2 – 3 carrots, grated.
1 medium sweet onion, grated.
1 green pepper, grated.
1 Tablespoon salt.
Black pepper to taste.

1/3 cup cider vinegar or strong Kombucha.
1/3 cup olive oil.
1/3 cup sugar or honey.

Mix first 5 ingredients, and let sit while you:  heat vinegar, oil and sugar to just boiling.  Pour over slaw.  Mix well and refrigerate at least 2 hours before eating.  The original recipe says it will keep six weeks in the fridge, but it never lasts that long – I eat this stuff for a mid-morning snack.   There is usually dressing left over and I save that and use it on the next batch.


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Not tonight Deer!


This was going to be a separate post but the current weather conditions brought this to mind.  It’s 100* right now, with 18% percent humidity.  That’s tinder box dry!  And they’re predicting 100+ for the next two days.

Being a farmer means being a jack of all trades.  Plumber, electrician, vet, midwife or husband, and very important – mechanic.

Also rural areas usually have volunteer fire departments.  While our fire department is great, they usually spend their time rescuing “lost” hikers and climbers, or cats in trees, and dogs that fall off of cliffs!  And, they can’t be everywhere at once.  So we have to have our own fire protection.   The last forest fire that put us in danger, was in 1991 and we were on standby to do cat work in the nearby forest land.  So we feel this is one piece of equipment we need.

 We picked up this cat when an equipment dealer was going out of business.  It was a trade-in and we got it for 40% off of what the dealer paid for it, so really it was like 75% off of retail.  We couldn’t pass it up.  It has paid for itself in side jobs.  It’s expensive to hire this kind of work done, and you can never get the guy when the soil conditions are OK for cat work.  And, more important it’s hard to find equipment operators that will be as careful as you are with your land.   Repairs can be expensive too, unless, you have a mechanic around.  I keep mine on the couch.


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 The drum or winch had a bad seal and wouldn’t shut off, so with a $25.00 part and a couple of hours work, the drum was fixed.  This would have been a $600.00 repair job to take it in, and a 3 week wait.

We limit our cat work to the dry season, and try to combine trips and jobs in the woods.
This trip was to skid out firewood logs, and push out some invasive blackberries.


Setting the chokers on the firewood logs.


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Pulling the logs out to our skid road.  We use this road during the dry season to access the woods, and pastures.  With the logs beside the road we can lessen our impact, and not work so hard making up firewood.

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We have a love/HATE relationship with the blackberries around here!  As a child there where no Himalayan Blackberries, just non-native Evergreen Blackberries and the Pacific Trailing Blackberries.

The Himalayan Blackberry is so invasive, it will grow at least 20 feet per year.  They taste good, but, I can only use so many.  We know people who have quit using their equipment and the berries have grown over an entire set of hay equipment, vehicles and now is encroaching on the barn.  You can’t even see what is underneath, the berry vines are so thick.

We have been wanting to thin this Red Alder patch, but we haven’t been able to get to it because of the  blackberries.  By doing it at this time, we won’t displace any fledgling birds, just maybe a few rabbits.   This land was logged in 1990, when my Mom had to purchase land from her sister-in-law, just to keep it.  It was zoned at the time, farm OR forest, so we didn’t have to replant Douglas Fir, which is usually required.  It is on a north facing slope and we wanted to let it naturally go through its own forest cycle on its own time table.  We were glad to see in two years, a very thick stand of nitrogen-fixing Red Alder come in.  Now we can thin it a little, for cookstove wood and let the other trees get larger.


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As you can see the blackberries vines really add up.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 14, 2008 6:48 pm

    What a lovely slaw recipe. I love slaw … by itself or as a sandwich topping. YUM! Those photos really deliver a good perspective on the scope of hard work that cat helps with. Glad you have your big yellow cat to help out. What do you do with the mountain of gathered vines? Too bad the deer won’t eat that instead of your garden! Did the heat hit your area today? It got to 103 here. I could go for a serving of that cool cole slaw about now.

  2. August 14, 2008 8:30 pm

    I have just about the same coleslaw recipe that’s been with me for years.
    I hope my blackberries do as well as yours;)

  3. August 15, 2008 3:10 am

    Thanks for sharing your slaw recipe. I have purple cabbage ready for picking. I’ll give it a try. We love slaw served in most any recipe.

    That yellow cat would be a welcome addition here although right now it would sink out of sight. The blackberries are overtaking the treeline/fencelines. The rain has done them no harm for sure. We attempted to cut some of them back early this spring but they are extremely thick now and full of blackberries. Unfortunately no one in my family likes blackberries so they are wasted here – we really need to eradicate them. The sheep love to eat them but can’t get to them at this point.

    I’m harvesting some rather ugly looking tomatoes right now – they wouldn’t make the store shelves but they sure do taste good and we have waited all summer for them to ripen 🙂

  4. Gina permalink
    August 15, 2008 5:43 am

    Your woods is absolutely beautiful. What is the conifer in the picture I know diciduous trees better as the evergreens aren’t as common here)?

    I am going to try the slaw recipe. I’ll have to get my cabbage at the farmer’s market, though, as the deer took our nearly all the brassicas.

  5. August 15, 2008 7:05 am

    OMG, my goats would *love* those blackberry bushes! lol

    Thanks for the slaw recipe – I’m going to try that.

  6. August 15, 2008 7:35 am

    I wonder how we changed from a society that cut out the bad spots to one that only eats the most perfect specimen? I honestly can’t quite figure out how that happened and how we got so wasteful…

    I love the deer / venison digs too. I tell folks all the time that deer in the garden are called dinner around here 😉

  7. August 15, 2008 11:03 am

    The vegetable slaw recipe you provided is very tasty! It makes all the difference in the world if you can make it from homegrown vegetables rather than store bought ones.

  8. August 17, 2008 10:20 pm

    Paula, I love that slaw, I wish I had peppers all season long, they seem to make the flavor. It’s good in burritos too.

    That cat has saved us many times, sometimes you need some big equipment. I wish the deer would eat the berry vines too, but it would take a whole lot more deer than we have to even make a dent in the berries. The vines just rot down, if they are piled high enough.

    We didn’t get over 102, thank heavens!

    Linda, I think recipes are like fashion, they just recycle and become new again ;), be careful what you wish for, those blackberries belong in Jurassic Park!

    Debi, sorry about all the rain you’re having, the blackberries are a constant battle. Anywhere you can’t get to mow them, they get a hold. The roots are like wood, when you dig them. Thanks Luther Burbank!! The sheep eat them a little, but could never get high enough to make a dent, there are old orchards with standard trees around here and you can barely see the tips of the trees, unfortunately new people buy the properties and remove the old orchards too, just to get rid of the berries.

    I’m jealous of your tom’s, we’ve had maybe 6! It has been such a late year – I’m afraid some things won’t mature before the days get too short.

    Gina, those are Douglas Fir, we’re actually in the Western Hemlock zone, but those trees in the picture were naturally seeded. We hardly have any deciduous trees at all. Doug Fir is the predominate tree because of fires at the turn of the century (1902 was a major fire year). The 10′ of rain we get a year, grows trees fast!

    Last year, I was seeing red, the deer ate all my winter brassicas that were planted outside in the garden. And, instead of actually eating whole cabbage heads, they just bit off the tops, and exposed the heads to the rain! They never did come back and finish them.

    Sarah, I think it would take goats to beat back those berries. Do you have 50 or so you could loan me?? :0

    Kathie, I think we have been marketed to, for so long, people expect perfect specimens. That’s all you see in the store, everything is the same size, hardly any variation in color etc.
    That’s kind of hard to duplicate in nature.

    Here’s to well fed venison for dinner!

    Hay Bailer, thanks for stopping by. I like your accumulator.

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