The last of the summer tomatoes…….



Every winter, I avidly read anything I can get my hands on—–books, magazines, etc–about gardening, self-sufficiency, putting food by, etc., and dream about the warm weather months to come and how phenomenal my garden will be. I envision providing George and myself with all the produce we will need to get through the freezing cold winter months. I imagine us hauling in tomatoes, beans, peas, lettuces, peppers,etc., by the bucketfuls. Then Spring arrives and I have all good intentions, but invariably, I get distracted. This year’s excuse was that I was in school again full time, complete with 300 clinical hours to finish. Sigh.


But I did manage to get the tomatoes planted and harvested.  My heirlooms actually did quite well! I used a method that was new to me called The Square Foot Gardening method. You can find more about that at  Once I got everything set up, I found this method to be so much easier than the traditional ‘row planting’ method of gardening. There were very few weeds and I was able to produce a more bountiful harvest from a much smaller space. Basically, all I had to do post-planting was go out every afternoon to water the plants. Almost anybody can do that!

So what do you do with loads of tomatoes at the tail end of summer?  You can them, that’s what! And last week, when almost all the tomatoes had been harvested, canning day finally arrived. It took about 6 hours start to finish, but I wound up with a pretty good haul.

First you wash them….


You have to make sure all the jars are sterile (and that you have enough!) …….


After the tomatoes have been washed and peeled, toss them in the pot and cook them down until they’re stewed, about 30 minutes or so.


After all that, the tomatoes are poured up into the clean jars and sealed.  18 quarts of canned tomatoes later………..


So now that the tomatoes are all canned and put away, I can remember the days of summer during the dead of winter. Every time I reach for a jar to make a pot of vegetable stew or chili or spaghetti sauce, I’ll think about my little summer garden and the cycle will continue. I’ll dream about next year’s garden and vow to make it better. And that will keep me warm all winter long…….






About the Isaac Brown House


People have been telling me I should blog about this lovely house and the things that are going on around here since we moved in about 3 years ago. But I’ve been resistant. I’m not a writer. I’m a Nurse Practitioner. My husband, George, is a writer. He has actually published a couple of books and is quite the wordsmith. He also just happens to be a nurse. It’s sort of a sideline for him. 😉

The house is a beautiful Gambrel roofed Dutch Colonial that was built in 1765 by John Brown in anticipation of the birth of his son, Isaac. John was the grandson of the great Reverend Samuel Brown, who graduated from Harvard in 1709 and was the first minister of the Abington, MA parish. History has it that the reason the town of Abington,MA became an entity at all is because the townspeople at the time appealed to the crown to break away from what was then Bridgewater. One of the requirements to do so was that a dedicated parson had to be in place. Reverend Brown was given 30 acres in the area and the First Congregational Church of Abington was founded. It still stands today.

The Reverend’s son, Woodbridge, was the father of John, builder of our house. John was Isaac’s father. The house is named for Isaac. It is called the Isaac Brown House. Isaac’s son, Isaac, Jr, went on to fight in the War of 1812. In New England, it is customary to name the house for the original owner. Our house carries a slight variation on that tradition.

The house was owned by the Brown family (or Browne–depending on which document you are reading) from 1765 until it was sold in 1965. 200 years in the same family! And as it turns out, the Browns were pretty good at documentation. They kept up with documents and who owned what when. It’s really a nice thing that we have an archived lineage of this house. We have the original deed to the land framed and on display in the room that George calls his “tavern” (see picture below). The deed is pre-revolution and is signed by the King’s men. The fact that we have this document in our possession and it’s not in a museum somewhere is mind boggling to me. In fact, sometimes it’s a little bit baffling to me that regular citizens live in houses this old in this part of the world. In Georgia, where I’m from originally, you don’t generally see such. Houses this old that are still standing would be museums.


But back to the Browns. The last of the Browns to own this property were Percy and his wife, Gertrude Gove Brown, pictured below. Percy was a pulmonologist. Gertrude was a housewife who must have been an avid gardener. She kept very detailed documentation of the flower gardens she planted every year. Some of the pictures we have from that era are astonishing! We still see some of the things she planted. The Irises and day lilies are beautiful every Spring. And the row of lilacs we have in front of the house blooms every Spring. The blooms don’t last long, but the scent is 2 weeks of Heaven!! I’d like to replicate some of those gardens that have gone by the wayside, but I’m not promising anything……..



Happy chickens, happy humans…..


This is Etta. She’s one of our 9 remaining chickens. We started off with 12. One was a rooster. He was mean. Really mean. He tried to kill me every time I went into the yard. And I was the one feeding him! He went to live at the farm. No,really. I couldn’t bear to put him in the pot or send him anywhere that might. So we found a real farm couple who needed an aggressive rooster and they came and got him. Walked into the coop in the dark of night and picked him up like a boss.


After that, our beloved Peggy, an Americauna, went missing.  Just didn’t show up to the coop at night. We never found a single feather’s evidence of her anywhere.  You should know that we let our chickens roam free anywhere on our property.  They have free range. Most of the time, they never leave our property.  Occasionally, they might hop the rock wall and venture into a nearby neighbor’s place, but they always come right back.  Except that night. Peggy never returned.


Since the rooster went to live at the farm, we’ve been rooster-less. People frequently ask us if we are afraid of hawks and other predators without a rooster. The answer is, not really. The ladies do a good job of banding together on the couple of occasions they’ve needed to when a hawk has swooped down. Our coop is secure enough at night that I don’t worry. One afternoon, I saw a hawk swoop out of the sky and plow into the entire group of chickens. George ran outside to thwart any potential deleterious activity and all seemed okay. But all wasn’t okay.  We later found poor Nancy, also an Americauna,  dead in the coop. It seems she had suffered the brunt of the blunt trauma from the hawk. And a rooster wouldn’t have prevented that.


So that’s how the 12 became 9–3 Rhode Island Reds, 3 Plymouth Rocks, 2 Buff Orpingtons and 1 Americauna. Etta. The friendliest of all the chickens. My favorite. I often wonder if she misses Nancy and Peggy. I know she probably doesn’t and I have a bad habit of anthropomorphizing my animals. She is doing well and seems happy. Which is all that matters. We feed them well, give them plenty of space to roam and a safe place to sleep at night. Makes for a happy chicken life. In return, they give us the best eggs ever and lots of entertainment! Makes for a happy human life!IMG_1776