Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

A Farmer's (Tall) Tale

Monday, July 28, 2014

This has been a bumper crop year for tomatoes and we almost can't keep up with our 6 plants.  I pulled 13 ripe Early Girls off of one plant Sunday night and we've given away I-dont-know-how-many to all the neighbors.  Time to make some crushed tomatoes for chili this fall?

J. has been engaged in a rather fun "tomato war" via text messages with his mom.  Or it's more a war of who can tell the tallest tale regarding how big their tomatoes are.  We've had fun coming up with some whopper stories, so why don't you join in the fun in the comments?  You know those "Your momma is so fat that..." jokes?  Well, how about this....

My tomato is SO big that....

...it wouldn't fit through the back door!

...I had to rent a Bobcat to move it!

...we fed BLTs to everyone in the tri-state area and STILL had leftovers!

I hope you'll join in the fun and add your own "whopper" tale in the comments.

And speaking of tails....it looks like we're not the only ones that like huge tomatoes.

I've shared this silliness with this week's Down Home Blog Hop and Homestead Barn Hop.  They're's lots going on over there - go check 'em out!


Friday, July 25, 2014

EVI 001.  Photo of suspect committing berry misdemeanor

SOMEBODY has been stealing some of our blackberries and I just happened to catch the little booger in the act this evening.  This little rat-tailed squirrel came sneaking over on the top of the fence, climbed straight down and then disappeared into the blackberry canes only to reappear with a big fat blackberry in his mouth.  He then proceeded to devour the evidence right there on top of the fence while showing absolutely no guilt or remorse (or regard for any humans). A second trip yielded no more ripe berry treats, so he scampered off wit his tail a-twitchin' in frustration.  What a brat!

Blackberry Bliss

Monday, July 14, 2014

DISCLAIMER:  An addictive blackberry jam recipe can be found at the bottom of this post.  The owner of this blog can in no way be held responsible for your making and eating too much of this delicious, silky, yummy, sweet summer in a jar...

....nom nom nom...

We got our first berries of the season last Wednesday (July 9th) and have been picking them by the handfuls every evening ever since. The Triple Crowns are the giant, fat berries and the Arapahos are the smaller ones.

Sometimes they don't make it into the house. Mmmm...fresh picked blackberries are the best! 

Hey, wait a minute....I pick them and J. eats them.  Something's wrong with this picture!

But J's favorite way of eating them is to let them marinate in the frig for awhile in some milk and sugar. 

Me?  I love blackberry jam but, even though I'm picking like mad, they're disappearing and I don't think we're going to have enough to make any.  But I'm going to rectify that situation this fall because I'm rooting a whole mess of new plants that I'll be transplanting to the new lots this fall.  Did you know they're insanely easy to root?  Just bend the end of a cane over, cover it with some dirt and weight it down so it doesn't move.  The plant will root itself.  Find a friend who has blackberry plants...you'll never have to buy them!

Anyway, you know what else is easy?  Making blackberry jam.  So, even though I may not get to make any this year, I thought I would share my canning recipe with you.


"Summer In a Jar" Blackberry Jam (canning method)
makes 3 pint jars (or 6  8-oz jars)

5 cups blackberries (washed and drained)
7 cups sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
2 teaspoons cinnamon (optional)
1 (1 3/4 ounce) package dry pectin 

  1. Measure out the berries and then wash them to remove any debris, ants, etc.
  2. If you don't want seeds in your jam, you'll need to use seedless blackberries or de-seed them by running them from a food mill OR mashing them through a strainer into a large pot.  The seeds will stay in the strainer!
  3. If you don't de-seed them, you can mash them directly in a pot.  For this recipe, you'll want to use at least an 8 quart pot.
  4. Heat on high and add the pectin to the berries a little at a time, stirring constantly until the berries come to a full boil.
  5. Add the sugar all at once, continuing to stir until the berries return to a full boil.
  6. Boil for 1 minute.
  7. Remove from heat and skim any foam from the top, if necessary.
  8. Ladle into clean, hot pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch space at the top.
  9. Wipe the rim of the jar and put canning lids and rings on fingertip tight.
  10. Place the jars in the prepared canner (water should already be hot) and make sure the water is 1 inch above jars.
  11. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
  12. Remove the jars and set them upright on a towel away from drafts until cool (overnight works great).
  13. (optional) Just try to keep some of this to enjoy in the dead of winter.  Seriously...just try it.  It never works here at Cranky  Puppy! 
 I've shared this post with this week's Homestead Barn Hop.  Go check it out!

A Quick Pup-date

Friday, July 11, 2014

Domino, still wearing his sporty green bandage from the vet but happy to be home!
Good news, good news!  First, thanks to all of you that expressed concern over Domino's recent surgery.  Everything seemed to go well and he is now resting comfortable at home with "mom and dad" where we can keep an eye on him for the next week and a half.  Keeping him inactive and from trying to jump up and down off furniture is going to be a challenge, because he loves to sit half on the back of the loveseat and half on my shoulder when I'm sitting there.
If it isn't one thing it's another...I pulled a muscle in my back 2 nights ago and can barely move.  Hopping into the Jeep to drive to the vet and picking the dog up and down is a challenge, to say the least.  And right before we were going to spend the weekend hoisting solar panels, too!  Poor J...he's staying home today to take care of both of us.
I'm trying Tylenol pain crème, heat patches, heating pad and OTC pain meds.  Anybody got a good remedy for back pain?

One Worried Puppy

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Domino, our beautiful and much-loved rapscallion "puppy" (he's 8!) went to the vet yesterday and had to stay.  I am beside myself with worry, because we just learned that he has to have the same surgery that he had 4 years ago to remove stones from his bladder and urethra.  According to the vet, an x-ray shows that he has one the size of a nickel in his bladder.  Poor little guy!  He only weighs 18 pounds, so that's a pretty big stone!

Despite being on special food to prevent the stones, he's gotten them again.  The vet did warn us 4 years ago that it was a probability that it would happen, but I had my hopes up.  The $800 for the vet bills will do a number on our budget.  Some might say it's insane to spend that kind of money on a pet but look at it this way....would you spend it on your kids?  Well, he's my baby!  And the alternative is to do nothing and, well......  the outcome there is not good.

Please cross your fingers and send good mojo in Domino's direction today, if you can.  He's a scrapper and I'm sure everything will be fine, but I can't bear to think of losing my sweet pup-pup.

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