Wednesday, June 30, 2010
I hope my Buff Orpington will be that sweet when she's grown!
Monday, June 28, 2010
They seem to like the partial shade and rolly pollies that are in the raised beds.
Here's (from left to right) Savannah (Welsummer), Buffy (Buff Orpington), and Lucy (Barred Rock). They enjoy eating carrot leaves.
A close up of Buffy (the Buff Orpington). She's the largest so far and is the least interested in me and what I'm doing.
Here is Goldilocks (Ameraucana). She and Savannah like to fly up onto the arm of my chair and hang out from time to time.
Here is Lucy (Barred Rock). She likes to always run up to me and see what I'm doing. She loves treats the most! Sometimes she will fly up onto my knee, but she's not a fan of being held.
This is Bella (Brahma). She the smallest of the flock and is almost solid black, except for a few white spots. She's a curious girl and often does her own thing. She will let me hold her most of the time without squawking.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
The other gadget that made all of this work much easier is my Oxo cherry pitter. I usually think that most gadgets are not worth the space that they take up in the kitchen drawer. But this one is definitely worth it, if you plan on doing a lot of cherries. It was $15 from Bed Bath and Beyond. And, yes, your fingers will look as "dirty" as mine after you've done 10 lbs of cherries :)
But look what you'll have in the end:
Friday, June 18, 2010
Happy Girl Kitchen
If you are local, then you might be interested in knowing about Happy Girl Kitchen Co. They are an organic food-preserving, workshop-teaching, bulk produce selling company of sorts. I heard about their food preservation workshops about a year or so ago, but decided that I already knew how to preserve the food I had grown. (Plus they are a little bit expensive for me...$125.) Anyway, I just re-discovered them today. As it turns out, every so often they send out a newsletter and offer produce in bulk. And I just signed up to purchase local, organically grown cherries in bulk - 18 lbs for $65. (Yes, I know that's a LOT of cherries, and, no, I've never preserved cherries before. What have I gotten myself into?) But cherries are awesome. If anybody has preserved cherries before, please let me know your recipe. Otherwise, I'll let you know how it goes.
Well, well, well. Maybe Wal-Mart isn't so bad after all. According to a recent story on NPR, they are trying to get local produce into local stores. Good job. Maybe. I've heard of some Wal-Mart deals going sour when the big company tries to control the whole situation and, eventually, the local producer. But maybe there will be more good than bad come out of this.
As a side note on the above-mentioned story:
NPR, what's up with this sentence: "A shotgun rides in the truck beside him." It was randomly placed in the story, off topic, and it makes it seems like you've never even been to the rural South. Maybe you haven't? If so, you would know that every country farmer carries around his shotgun in his truck. It's not newsworthy.
Sorry for the little rant above. That part of the story just seemed elitist and didn't sit well with me.
Wishing everyone a Happy Friday!
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
It's cute when one chick stops pecking around long enough to look up and realize she's too far from the flock. If she can see them, she always speeds over to join the group. You'll see it happen 3 times in this video:
It kinda makes me wish that humans were a little more "flock oriented".
Monday, June 14, 2010
It's been a long time, since I've posted anything on Harvest Monday. (Even though I've been harvesting all year.) Mostly I've been getting lots of lettuce, artichokes, broccoli, peas, cilantro, mint, and, now, carrots. Over 2.5 lbs and there are still lots more in the ground. I've been cooking them up in a simple recipe that my husband loves:
Honey Glazed Carrots
- 1 pound baby carrots or chopped carrots
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Freshly ground black pepper
In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add salt and then carrots and cook until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the carrots and add back to pan with butter, honey and lemon juice. Cook until a glaze coats the carrots, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
The first tomato to set this year! I was very excited to see this little green tomato, especially since we have had such a cool, rainy spring. It was even more exciting to me since it is a new variety that I'm trying for the first time. It's Costoluto Genovese, a small, fluted Italian variety with lots of flavor. A friend grew it last year and I saved some seed from a couple of her tomatoes, hoping that they would grow at my house. Even though they do really well for my friend, I'm still not sure I'll get very many fruit. See, my friend lives out in the valley where summer temperatures are somewhat warmer. But I have hope. This is very promising.
Friday, June 11, 2010
The first bribe involved two sisters, ages 7 and 9. While the girls' mom was in the hospital, I volunteered to babysit. The girls were very excited to be coming over to my house, especially because they knew about the chicks. They played with the chicks for the entire duration of their stay. Picking them up, naming them, and laughing at their antics. When it was time for me to take them home, they picked some plums off the tree on their way out to the car. A handful of little plums 'for the road'. The youngest girl ran out of plums very quickly and asked her older sister for "just one more...please". The wise older sister said, "I'll give you a plum IF you promise to do everything you can to help me get my own chickens...I mean everything you can think of!" The little one replied a definitive, "Yes!" I found out later that the girls' mom is strongly considering raising some hens, but dad is not on board at this point. After their girls were introduced to my chicks, I think it might be over for dad.
This is the prize that the youngest sister was after...they are sour, since they are not ripe yet, but the girls love them.
The second bribe involves me and the chicks. After seeing videos of other people with happy hens sitting in their laps and following them around, I started to feel left out. Most of the time, when I get near my chicks, they scurry away, just out of reach. In fact, it's getting harder to catch them in the evenings. They still need to spend nights indoors, but the time needed for chicken chasing in increasing everyday. So after a little bit of thought, I came up with a simple plan...bribery. So after work, I bought some chicken treats: mealworms, seed mix, and de-shelled sunflower seeds. I offered these treats to them while holding each one individually, just before bedtime. And guess what? It worked. They are starting to like me more. Ok, maybe they don't like me more, but they seem to be a little more happy about my presence. Ok, ok, they just like the treats that I represent. But that's good enough for me. I'll take it!
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
So the second year I "protected" them with the paper bags, like they do in Japan. I thought I was really smart for coming up with a safe/natural way to prevent the apple worms' destruction, even though it looked ridiculous. This option turned out to be a lot of work and some of the protective bags fell off in strong wind. But I remained steadfast: "No spray is going in THIS garden!" I waited for the apples to mature and when they did? More than half of them were eaten by the worms, AGAIN. Apparently, they are able to chew thru the bags and/or wiggle underneath the ties. And the taste of the few apples that survived the attack? Only so-so.
Now, I'm thinking about my options. And I'm thinking about the fate of the apple tree. We're considering a rearrangement of the backyard, since my husband wants to build an outbuilding for his motorcycles. And in our latest discussion, the current apple tree location is slated for the relocation of the greenhouse.
The very thought of chopping down the apple tree feels un-American...maybe even un-humane! But the reality is that I have a small backyard and I need to make my space count. If we end up moving the greenhouse to the apple tree spot, I'll probably have to plant another one somewhere else, just for the purpose of being redeemed. Actually, there would probably be space for a nice espaliered apple tree along the fence. But you know what? I'll still have the apple worms, so what's the point? There are other fruit trees/shrubs that I could plant instead of an apple tree that wouldn't be so bothered by pests. Why don't I just do that? Hmm...more raspberries, or blueberries or a fig tree.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
So the chicks don't really want to hang out with me during the daytime. They don't really mind my presence, but they don't really want me picking them up at that time. I try not to take it personally. Instead, I imagine that it's just more fun for them to be running around outside looking for bugs and discovering all kinds of things. But I've noticed that there is a certain time frame, which I consider to be a window of opportunity, when they are ok with being picked up. And if you have human children, you might be able to guess what time of day I'm talking about. Just before bedtime. Which for chicks is somewhere between 7-9pm, although I hear them wake up at times during the night.
Anyway, when I pick them up in the evening they are usually pretty sweet. It's so cute to see them nod off...it happens so fast! That's what I captured in the video above.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
This bed is currently holding beans at the very back, then tomatoes, then tomatillos, then basil, amaranth (from Michelle, for greens), and one Greek oregano plant at the front. Again, I'm using the plastic strawberry crates to keep the birds from damaging young seedlings. The other crop which I squeezed in is carrots - you can see them in a straight row down the center. They were planted like this in February, since I knew that tomatoes and tomatillos would be going in on the edges later in the spring. It's worked out well planting them this way because they will be ready to pull before the tomatoes shade them out.
This bed has (again) beans in the back, then 8 more tomatoes, with a few carrots in the center. I'm also using marigolds around the tomatoes because they are supposed to ward off aphids. This is the second year in a row that I have done this. And although I see a few aphids, they haven't been a problem for me. Maybe it's working?!
Last year I picked the first ripe tomato on July 4. I doubt that it will be so early this year, since we've had such a cool, wet spring. But that's ok, the plants are growing well and we'll have tomatoes at some point this summer. I'm still eating dried tomatoes from last year, so we are definitely not destitute and tomato-less, yet!
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
I think the Ameraucana is the prettiest right now:
She and the Buff Orpington and the Welsummer are growing the quickest these days. The Barred Rock and especially the Brahma are quite a bit smaller and less feathered out than the others.