Monday, September 25, 2017


This is one of the last of the yellow "jubilee" tomatoes in the garden. This year, they produced beautiful large tomatoes, and lots of them. And they were delicious, with a mild sweetness that was great for salads. We made sauce with some of them and turned that into tomato paste. The jars of yellow tomato paste are in the pantry now, ready for use through the winter.

This one's just about ready to pick.

We also stuffed some of the larger ones, although they turned out to be more delicate than the red tomatoes we stuffed. But they were still very tasty. I don't remember if I have any more seeds for these. I'll look, but I think I'll save some seeds from one of the last fruits for next spring, just in case.

Sunday, September 24, 2017


If you enjoy eating zucchini blossoms, watch out for slugs! I spied this critter inside one of the blossoms on Friday. Into the compost it went, where it will do good, I hope. The zucchini crop is done for this year.

This little slug is gorging itself inside a zucchini blossom.

It's been a decent year for the garden. As one of my readers commented, the things that did well did really well, the rest was a bust. The zucchini and the tomatoes were very good this year. The green beans were good, too. But I planted fewer of them, so we got less. That's normal. I wonder what next year will be like?

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The garden's last gasp

The end is near, and it feels a little earlier this year than last. I pulled out the summer squash plants yesterday to make room for a fall crop of collard greens. The tomatoes still have fruit, but it's either ripening or rotting, depending on where you look. The weeds have taken over. I got no eggplant this year, and the chili peppers did virtually nothing (compared to those I kept in the greenhouse which are doing well).

Tasha is ready to help with garden clean up. Or to play ball. Whatever.

So, it's time to start the clean-up. I'll keep picking tomatoes for a little while, but it won't be long before they get ripped out, too. Even if we get no more, we've had a great crop over all. This past summer was strange, with hot spells interrupted by cold spells, alternating all through the season. The last cold spell was wet, and while the weeds enjoyed it, the tomatoes did not and some rot has set in.

We'll spend the next month or so slowly cleaning up the garden, tilling and otherwise preparing for winter. When the leaves fall, we will gather them up and cover the garden with them. They help keep weeds down and then they get tilled into the soil in spring as compost.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Farm implements

I saw two plowing attachments along one of our walking routes the other day. I assume that whoever owns this parcel attaches them to his tractor when it's time to work the soil, then just leaves them out there for the season, or maybe all year long.

Rusty, but still serviceable.

There are many small plots of land around us that belong to people who live elsewhere in town. Sometimes the parcels are just vacant, sometimes they're used to grow fourrage (what we would call hay to feed farm animals), and sometimes they're planted with fruit trees, grains, or even vegetables. I see each of these uses on our little walk down in the valley. Up the hill, the parcels are mostly grape vines.

Thursday, September 21, 2017


That's my guess, anyway. It doesn't look like wheat or barley. It certainly isn't rape (used to make canola oil) or corn. I don't remember ever eating millet in the US. It's mostly found in bird seed mixes. And it's not that prevalent here in France, either. We've found it in health food stores (it's a no-gluten grain) and sometimes in the organic section of the supermarket. But in Asia and Africa, millet is apparently a very common food.

I wonder if this millet is destined for birds or the health food store?

I really enjoy eating it. Millet has a nice nutty flavor and it's got a little crunch after cooking. We eat many different grains regularly. The most common is probably wheat in products like bread and flour, but also wheat berries, couscous, and bulgur. After that, it's rice. Among the varieties we eat most often are round, basmati, long Thai, and a couple of varieties grown down in the Rhône delta here in France (riz de Camargue). And then there's millet. Since it's not all that easy to find, we don't have it as often as I'd like.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Which way do we go?

It doesn't matter since both paths end up in the same place. But Tasha waited for me to pick one. I like the one on the right because it's easier to walk with less grass and weeds (fewer chances for ticks).

Tasha waits for me while I take a photo.

And, speaking of ticks, now that we've changed flea and tick medicines, I haven't seen a tick in months. I guess the ticks evolved a resistance to the Frontline we had been using for years. We were always pulling attached ticks off of Callie or finding the engorged dead ones on the floor. Yuck. The vet told us that the medicine should kill ticks as soon as they start to feed, rather than after they've had their fill. You shouldn't see them at all.

Now, the company that made Frontline has a new formula under a new name: NexGard. The medicine is in chewable tablet form, which makes it easier to administer. The old stuff was a liquid in a dropper that we applied to the back of Callie's and Tasha's necks. They didn't like it at all. Tahsa eats up the new stuff like it's a treat. And I haven't seen a single tick on her since the switch three months ago, when Tasha started getting some fleas. They disappeared, too.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tasha Tuesday

With Bert this time. They really do seem to get along, at least for short bursts. Tasha is the aggressor, but Bert doesn't let her get away with too much. When he's had enough, he leaves. But he's a good sport. And Tasha is much less aggressive towards Bert than Callie was.

Tasha and Bert spar on the rug just inside the doors to the deck.

And they do have moments of tenderness, if you will. They take turns licking each other's face. And sometimes they just sit around next to one another. It's cute. The big change is that Bert gets to spend more time in the house than he used to when Callie was around. And I think that, as he gets older, he likes that. And he'll like it even more as winter comes along.

A loving embrace. Ok, maybe not.

I'm planning to make Tasha's first appointment with the groomer for next month. She needs a bath and a good brushing, and I think it would be good to get her used to going to the groomer sooner rather than later. The groomer in Saint Aignan also does boarding, and we think we might try that next year. We're thinking about going to Paris for our 35th anniversary next June. We've never boarded a dog before, but if we start Tasha while she's young, she might get used to it. Still, it's just thinking at this point.