Saturday, August 19, 2017

A Simple Pin Hole Camera

The Solar Eclipse on the upcoming Monday is fast approaching and I initially thought that I would watch it on TV, safely.  At this point, it is too late to obtain sunglasses and they may not be safe.  Well, a little bug bit me and I researched how to make a pin hole camera.  How difficult can it be?

Perhaps you will be able to see the eclipse:  This is its path across this country:

I found out that it is not difficult at all and the material may already be available in your household. Looking to see what NASA recommend, I found the following listing:

Two (2) sheets of white card stock
Aluminum foil
Pin or paperclip

Pinhole Camera materials

For the best instruction, see 

The way I understand it is that one sheet of the card stock will be put on the ground.  On the other sheet, foil is taped to the middle and a small hole is made by a pin or paperclip.  With this second paper, I should stand with my back towards the sun at all times, and hold the paper over my shoulder.  The eclipse will be reflected on the paper on the ground.

Step 4: Try it out

Thank you for visiting my blog.  Be careful on Monday and do not look at the sun.  Be safe.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Carrots in Bloom

The other day, I rode the tractor to the garden and I found the garden wild and overgrown.  Some gardeners believe that it is beneficial for the garden to take a break once in a while--a long break, that is.  Here at the Back Forty, we are slowly reclaiming our land and we are finding a few surprises.

While riding around what used to
be one of the garden plots, I came
upon these white flowers and they
reminded me of Queen Anne's Lace.

Oh, I haven't seen them in  long time. Furthermore, I have never come across them in Florida.

No, it wasn't Queen Anne's Lace:  they were blooming carrot plants!  Various pollinators had also found them which was good news.

I could not resist picking a few of the blooming carrots: taken only what I needed.

The Plumbago has really spread put in front of the shed and they were also attracting pollinators.  We will prune them back later, before winter sets in.

I broke off a few small branches of the Plumbago:  I thought the blooming carrots and the light blue Plumbago would look good together in a vase in my Summer Kitchen for me to enjoy.  I am surprised that they have lasted so long.

They are nice and I enjoy the few blooms inside, bringing a little bit of nature in doors.

Summer will be gone before you know it.  
School has already started. 
Please, take it easy and watch out for our children

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Picking Butter Beans

The Butter Beans is a hot weather vegetable and it is ready for its first picking in the beginning of August.  My trusted gardener here on the Back Forty may have been a little too anxious to pick the beans this morning;  some of them were not fully mature and had to be put into the compost.

I also have another helper with the garden and she proclaims "that you are not a Southerner, unless you like butter beans."  That may be true, but who does not like butter beans?

We have the pole butter beans climbing up on permanent trellises:  it is easier for us to pick them that way, but they also come as bush beans.

Also, some people call the butter beans Lima beans or baby Lima beans.  It really dos not matter.

This young girl shelled the beans, I cooked them, and we ate them.

Some butter beans are pale green and others are off white.  When they are blanched before freezing, they turn up slightly greener and glossier.  Ordinarily, I cook the beans in plenty of water and serve them with a dab of margarine.

Of course, the beans also add interest to a vegetable soup.

Last year, our butter beans lasted long into the spring because of the mild winter weather.  They could have used some fertilizer.  In addition, the pole beans also make for a very nice and natural privacy hedge.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Yellow Cantaloupes

The other day, we went to the Farmers Market downtown in Jacksonville.  I try to pick up a fruit or a vegetable that I have not had before and always ask for suggestions how to prepare it and/or eat it.  That is another way to get to know the farmers too and it is always nice to see them.

We went to the market to get a water melon and my husband did.  We looked and admired the South Carolina peaches that were sky high in price.  How come?  The weather.  It was too hot, too cold, too much rain.  It had been a stormy season for the growers.

A yellow fruit/vegetable caught my eye:  I thought it was a spaghetti squash, but it turned out to be a cantaloupe.  I was surprised.

The farmer had a cantaloupe already cut up and she gave me a piece to taste.  It was firm and crisp with a pleasant taste--not too sweet, but refreshing.

We ended up having the cantaloupe for breakfast several mornings, taking in our natural C-vitamins and antioxidants.

Cantaloupes like moisture, sunlight, and two to three months long growing season in the heat.  They take up a lot of space in the home garden because they like to spread out and ramble.  Some gardeners like to use black plastic put down on the ground to keep the moisture and heat in and also keep the weed at bay.  The black plastic will add to the growing season in cooler climates.

Thank you for visiting my blog and enjoy some refreshing cantaloupe.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Time for Muscadine

August is here with its hot and humid days and the muscadine grapes are loving it.  They are fast ripening--getting ready for picking and eating.  Here at the Back Forty, we don't have to worry about making any jams or jellies; we are going to enjoy eating 'em.

Red grapes as well as the red
muscadines are healthful.  To mention a few benefits, they boost the heart functions; lower cholesterol and the blood pressure; aid the immune system and may aid in prevention of mild memory loss; and finally reduce signs of aging.  What more can you ask for?

To make jam, prepare the grapes by removing the seeds and I will keep the skin but chop the grapes.  For 2 quarts of grapes, 6 cups of sugar is recommended.  The cooking time is a bit long without store bought pectin.  Let it simmer and stir often.

So far, we have only gotten less than a quart (I'm sure) of dark red mescadine grapes.  They are somewhat bitter or sour and contain rather large seeds, but eating the grapes will aid in whatever ails me.

Only muscadine grapes are grown in Florida.  It is too hot for other grapes; however, juices of other grapes are trucked in for wine making.

There are some vineyards that offer "pick your own" and that is always fun.  Try it!

Thank you for visiting my blog.  Enjoy the rest of the summer.  School will start soon.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Harvesting My Herbs

This morning I harvested my herbs outside the summer kitchen.  The herbs have grown and taken care of themselves without interference from me.  I gave them a scant cup of fertilizer when I first planted out the seedlings and we have had lots of rain.

I snipped off plenty of the Oregano that lends itself to be tied up with a pretty ribbon and hang up to dry for later use in stews.

I also got plenty of Sweet Basil that is so good with corn and tomatoes.  The basil had paled a little because of being out in the strong morning sun.  I plan to let it lay on the kitchen towel and dry.

In addition, I cut the parsley that as far as I am concerned is a cool weather plant.  I use it often for decorating food that is otherwise bland and I use it in stir fried foods.

Finally, I am leaving out the herbs in a cup of water to be used as I go along doing my cooking from breakfast though dinner.  Oh, I forgot to tell you that I also got a few sprigs of Rosemary for my memory.

I must say that the few herbs that I do have is nothing to brag about but it makes me happy to have them and they have to do fine for a garden this summer.  Ah, a handful of the herbs smell so fresh and so delightful.  They will go a long way in the summer kitchen.

Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope that you have a wonderful summer.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Florida Heat Pump

Bottom Portion of the Pump
Top Portion of the Pump
We have what is known as a Florida Heat Pump.  It  pumps the water out of a shallow well in the ground

In the summer time, it uses the coolness of the water to centrally cool our house to what we have set the thermostat to read inside.

It works in reverse in the winter time.  It takes the warmth out of the water to warm the house to desire room temperature.

When we bought the house, we found the Florida Heat Pump to be the most efficient and economical heating and air conditioning system.  The water is being circulated though the unit in the garage and the pump is on the outside of the house drawig water from a shallow well.

After the water has been circulated through, it could be returned to the ground; however, we use it to water the lawn and/or the garden..  We also use it to refresh the water in the pond.

Most often, people don't have big enough yards or gardens to use the water so they use more conventional methods of cooling and heating their houses.

The blue Pressurized Well System Tank may be replaced should it fail and it often does.  It is imperative that electricity to the pump is turned off and that the tank is de-pressurized otherwise it may take off as well as any projectile from Cape Canaveral.

Nowadays, it is a lot of work to put in a Florida Heat Pump and it is being done less and less.  Also, we are finding that few technicians know how to work this particular system in general.

Thank you for visiting my blog.  Stay cool and drink plenty of water.