Monday, April 26, 2010

I have been trying to get Rooster Stew on video for the past few weeks because I think it really is only a matter of (short) time before he finds a new home. He is beginning to become increasingly aggressive and I don't like the idea of those spurs ripping into our flesh.

He used to act nonchalant when his roosterness got the better of him; lying in wait for a hen to happen to pass a little too closely and attacking her from behind. It was more of a fair fight back then because more often than not, they would put up a fight or chase him off and he would flee in fear.

Now he just chases them down and while they give them a run for his money, he usually wins the race.
But what is interesting is the dance he does when he is aggravated or wants to his way on any matter, particularly when protecting his food supply. Like this:

video

He has not shown this dance yet to Little Bit and only recently started pushing Ginger around with it (see above. She is still not easily shifted and gives him a little back!)

He first displayed it to the three little girls and of course they ran in fear of their little lives! Then he tried it out on the Evil Twins who looked at him as though he'd clearly lost his mind (better steer clear of that lunatic). But the more he practiced, the better at the dance he has become and now he does it whenever the mood strikes.

video


He hasn't tried it on ME yet but John says Stew tries to make him clear off when he enters the runs. Now he carries a long stick in there, just in case he needs back-up.
I really don't blame him. This is a large bird and is intimidating. I think he sees me as a food source and hasn't gotten in my face (yet) but time is not on my side.
Or his, for that matter.

What I really love is when he pulls himself straight up tall..... he looks like a person!!!!! (ok a person with FEATHERS) but look at him again on that second clip! He stands there, all tall and straight. The hens are short and stout and he is like a British Officer!

I also love his sound..... he is the one with the lower-voiced UrUrUrrrrr sound. The clucking comes from the hens...... and in those videos what REALLY stands out are the bird calls everywhere. When I am out there I hardly notice them and they come in so clearly on the video.

John has an iPhone with an app of bird calls. He sits out on the deck and plays the calls for pileated woodpeckers and a pair have been coming over and responding. It drives them nuts; they can't find the outsider!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wonder of Wonders!

Three days ago, I found an egg in the nestbox when I released the chickens in the morning. This is SORT of unusual because they TEND to lay during the day. But I didn't stress over it.

Later that day, I asked John if he retrieved any more eggs during the course of the day and he answered, "Yeah, I brought in 3."

Well, that stopped me in MY tracks. This means Little Bit layed her first egg! (is it "laid"?) (I'm gonna go with "layed"). So we compared the four and sure enough, the first one is slightly smaller than the others and perfectly formed.

MY BABY!!!!!


Taking a photo of her is tricky; she doesn't stand still. Ever. Always flitting about and so skittish. My sister-in-law monitors birds in her area and was telling us about trying to identify fast-moving birds with any accuracy and how very difficult this can be. She eventually added a SFBB to her roster. Small Fast Brown Bird.

This is pretty much the breed we think Little Bit might be.

She gave us a second egg yesterday and I look forward to today to see if she threepeats.

Hey! I'm not greedy! We have guests coming over for breakfast Saturday! I need the eggs!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Not That We Need Her Permission. Or Anything

Remember this gem?


Well alrighty then!

I hope SHE remembers her words when the protesting tax payers get going.

Let us all keep reminding every one of them.

WE ARE AMERICANS AND WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO DEBATE AND DISAGREE WITH ANY ADMINISTRATION!!!!!!

I AGREE WITH HER!

I Hardly Know Where To Begin

The garden: it thrives at the moment. We have just about completed planting everything for the summer. Today I will seed cantaloupe and baby pumpkins.

As of now the Upper garden includes:
Meslun salad mix
Winter and Spring Spinach
Giant Caesar lettuce
Neon Swiss Chard, the remains of the winter chard
Beets
Sugar snap, Snow Peas and English peas (they all look the same)
Red onion, yellow onion
Garlic
Shallots
Green pencil onion
Brocolli
Chinese Cabbage
Roma, Cherry 100 and Razzleberry Tomatoes
Tomatillos
Eggplant
Red pepper and jalapenos
Butternut squash
Strawberries
Kale (nearly gone)
and soon sweet potatoes

Lower garden:
Corn, Silver Queen
Kentucky Wonder beans
Black-eyed Peas
Hestia Bush Beans (dreadful sprouting)
Early Girl, Better Boy, Celebrity and Cherokee Purple Tomatoes
Jalapenos
Zucchini and Yellow Squash
Luffa Gourd
Bush Beans
Cucumber
Potatoes

This is what we call the "salad bar"
and here are the Spring Beets.

I pulled all the ones left from the winter and pickled and canned them. While the winter crop was growing slowly, we ate the leaves in salads but once spring arrived, they grew in size quickly. These you see are growing so fast, I will be pulling them before I know it!
My personal Favorite in the garden, Shallots
Why? Because they are SO pretty and happy to look at! The flowers now are in full bloom and they look like happy suns on thick stalks.

The chickens are doing very well. I think this is the last week we will have Stu/Jethro around. I am really dithering on this. I know. I like him but the girls don't. I mean the hens. He doesn't really add much to the mix as far as protection goes. He is very alert.... but I think if danger were around, it would be every chicken for himself! He badgers the Wyandottes without mercy and I really don't want that for the little girls. But I worry what will become of the Little Bit if he is gone. They pair up and while he doesn't share anything except a roost with her, I don't know how she will behave if his absence leaves this void on the roost. Right now none of the chickens allow the little girls up on the higher roost pole. And sometimes, when they are in a mood, the three hens won't let Stu and LB up there either.
Chickens!

Are You Talkin' to ME?

I have finished sewing and quilting two more samples for the shop.

Double Pinwheel
and Log Cabin...
Now I have one class coming up Monday and although the sample has been finished for a long time, I still have not quilted it. I hope to have that done by the end of Summer.

So that is a summary of the happenings around the farm. I did not get to participate in the Tea Parties in the area but have been keeping with those who did attend. Sounds like another good time was had by all.

Here's a funny story.... we have been seeing fewmets in the Back Two and have determined they come from skunks. When I told Kathryn about this, she said...."Skunks have a funny way of walking.... they look like they hit every bump in the road." and I think she is right. So, two night ago as I was returning from locking up the chickens for the night, I see Polo out there heading home and as I call to him, I see not that far from him a small black ferret with a white stripe hitting every bump in the road. Both I and the cat hightailed it back to the house.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Because It Is Hugely Important

It wasn't long ago that Wal-Mart advertised it's Made In America loyalty and grew in strength. Remember the proud logo?

Those days are gone it seems. You would be hard-pressed to find more than 5 items in your cart that was produced within our borders and yet we continue to buy both staples and sundry items that are made overseas. I tried to buy a bag or sugar yesterday and could not determine from the information printed on the package the country of origin. I only know that one bag was "distributed" form Yonkers, NY and one from Bentonville, AR and one from SugarLand Texas. Where the actual sugar itself was grown is anybody's guess.

I am not directing this towards any specific country or political ideology.

I am sick of this.
I want to buy LOCAL, and I don't mean within 100 miles of my hometown. Try within these borders and territories! I want to support my fellow citizens. I want them to have the jobs SOME people say we won't do anymore.

Why SHOULD a hairblower cost less than it did 25 years ago? (not even adding in inflation!) Because it's made overseas and SHIPPED here!

If you are interested in Buy America, here is a website that will help you find a slew of products made RIGHT HERE! And I'd PAY the extra few dollars it would cost!

I bet we all would.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Rooster Stu

I think I might change his name to Jethro Bodine... he is SO that character. Scoot over to marker 2:30....heheeheehhee




He's as handsome as he is stupid!

Mind you, Stu LOOKS like Jethro's mother, Pearl Bodine, with all those feathers!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Aggggggg! Tax Week!!!!

Oh never mind! Taxes! What're ya gonna do?

We have received the additional shipment of 25 asparagus crowns and John has torn up a new patch of earth, tilled it well, added the needed soil and chicken additives, straw, etc and they are all in. The other first bed has now 11 root-systems working. We know to leave the tips alone for two years to establish the roots and really, they are so scrawny I can't believe anyone would bother to snip this off. We would have had to plant 50 to get anything worth turning the stove on for.

I have spent the past week out there in the two beds fertilizing, hilling up the potatoes, cleaning the coop, planting the last of the seedlings and marigolds. Everything is so beautiful and to see how quickly it all leaps forth is enough to make me cry. Every possible shade of green is out there and then some.
Oh By The Way..... swiss chard, I wish to offer a sincere apology for any disparaging remarks I might have uttered below my breath or outwardly to this noble green. I had planted quite alot of it last fall ad watched with dismay as snails feasted on my work. As winter progressed and the snails went who know where, they began to flourish and today we have huge healthy stalks of the stuff and when I tried to nibble on some (they LOOK like salad stuff to me) I thought, YUCK! Who wants THAT?

Rachel was here last week and whipped up this marvelous dish from the Smitten Kitchen (I don't know why I call it the Smitten Kitten) with chard and sweet potatoes that blew my preconceived bias out the parish. And tonight I followed a recipe from Epicurious for chard and raisins (below) that tasted delish.

I made pork medallions with satay sauce and guacamole as a side. So I am ever so glad I didn't yank the chard out screaming last month. As we have a lot of it, I shall continue cooking and using it up.

One problem with the variety of what we have out there is not enough meals a day to use it all and MOST of what we have at this point in time won't freeze as well as it tastes fresh. All the leafy greens for example. I know I can freeze kale but I still have a few small bags of the stuff left from last year so that tells me that, like microbiotics, I refer to eat that which is in season. We still have a little of frozen vegetables left from last tear, most of it has been made into stews, gumbo, quiches....etc.

I am charging the camera batteries and will DL and UL some pictures tomorrow....
Hurray!!! It's tomorrow!!!!

This is Chinese Cabbage and was taken last week.
They have doubled in size since then and I only post this shot of them because the chickens are in the background and I haven't been posting about them much lately.....

Mesclun Mix

This is the salad mix we bought on a roll of tape I wrote about last month. We planted only 2 4' rows and you can see how prolific the growth has been. Along with the Giant Caesar leaves we have an amazing salad every night. I added beet leaves as they were growing but I harvested the last of them yesterday and will pickle them today. Fear not! i did plant several rows of new beets last month and they are doing just splendidly.

Did Somebody say SALSA????


This is one of 6 tomatillo plants we have out there and I LOVE green salsa. I had no idea what the plant itself it looked like and it grows faster than a tomato bush but not much faster. The fruit does not set like a tomato either, several in a cluster. No, they grow one at a time from the crotches of the stems.

Oh By The Way, if you are reading this and live anywhere near Madisonville, LA, I would like to recommend a cafe that has just opened we dropped in on to eat a quick bite for breakfast. I ate the quiche and John had the biscuits and gravy and boy, was it ever tasty and then some!!! I know what you're thinking... what's so special about biscuits and gravy or quiche for that matter? Well, these WERE different. (I don't wax on about breakfast food. Much.) The gravy, for example, was flavorful with sage and the biscuits were fresh and homemade. The quiche was creamy as well as eggy and very rich and fresh-tasting. About the ONLY thing that could make better still would have been to use some of the girls eggs from out back. It's called the Madisonville Cafe and is located on Hwy 22 right across form the old library building. I had the coffee with chicory and it was terrific!

Rooster Stu is calling. Time to let the flock out.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

And Counting

We are up to 8 asparagus tips, out of 16 planted and no sign yet of the shipment. Good. That gives us more time to argue where the new bed will go.

Well here's another update on the garden. The green beans are starting to send shoots up the trells and speaking of which: last fall we planted snowpeas that finally set out flowers late in November and were smashed by freezing winds in early January. So I pulled those out and planted more seeds in January and have watched with eager anticipation as they germinated and sat there, doing not much. Well now they are taking off and this morning I see flowers! Yea! I was concerned that by the time they flowered, it would be too hot to grow but we may well get a small crop after all.

We ate the last of the brussell sprouts for dinner along with creamed spinach, baked spaghetti quiche (with a tomato sauce from last year's crops)(and the girl's eggs) broccoli and a salad from the mesclun mix. Oh By The Way, we tried that Burpee's mesclun mix in a tape and it worked beautifully! I should plant the last of the tape right now to stagger, except I bet we will have all we need with what we have already grown (we just take from the outer edges every night. It keeps sending out new leaves)......I'll save it for the fall beds.

So far every transplant has survived and with this success leaves me a new dilemma: How To Kill. You see, it's my philosophy that I plant 2 seeds for every pot and thin the weak ones. But these little suckers are all healthy and now I have to literally CHOOSE which one to kill so that the other will grow stronger. You are not supposed to have too many too close together. So I have to go out there with a sharp pair of scissors and snip away half the plants that are happily minding their own business. This includes all the corn as well. I put in two seeds in every hole. 3 rows of slaughter.

Now this was MUCH easier to do last fall when I planted the SEEDS directly in the ground but with the exception of the corn, all these transplants have been coddled and spoken softly to, awakened and cajoled and pleaded with to grow and grow and now I have to kill and kill. It's enough to make me nuts. how do I choose between two perfectly good and happy and strong jalapeno plants? The eggplant will be EASY; they all look dreadful. But the celebrity tomatoes and the Cherokee Purples? The Razzleberry tomatoes? I ask you: what would you do?

I know the answer, of course.

Be merciless. The larder depends upon it.

Today is Easter Sunday. I found an egg this morning so clearly the rabbit has hopped by. I found it in the brown fake box, too, so apparently the Easter bunny got the message as well.

"psst.... hide it HERE! Mess with her head!"

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Chickens Aren't Colorblind?

Fourth day of the experiment and the girls are still laying exclusively in the box with the brown fake egg. Weird.

Next week I will shake it up again and see if they move over to the last box. After that I will remove the white fake egg altogether and see what they do.

HOWEVER, since I started this experiment the chickens have dropped from three eggs a day to two more frequently than the reverse. I might be messing them up too much.

Harbingers of Spring

include robins and asparagus and we planted the latter two months ago. We bought those bags of "crowns" at Lowe's and John prepared a proper bed and chucked them in and we have been diligently watering the patch.

And we wait. But nothing appears. It's Spring everywhere here but no sign of asparagus. This has us concerned. So, once again to hedge the bet, we called in an order of newly-dug crowns from Johnny Seeds catalog and we wait for the arrival.

Yesterday, we spied 7 asparagus tips coming up through the mulch; out of 16 planted. So far so good, right?

We have 25 on their way. Great.

All the potatoes are up and thriving. The beans are looking good as are all the tomatoes and peppers we started from seed. The tomatillos are already flowering! and I am very excited about that and happy we planted 6 of them. If I had to wait for 8 tomatillos to be ripe on 1 or 2 plants, I would never have green salsa.

And here are the 2 new centers for the BOM I continue working on, 1 bright and the Christmas.


Y-seams galore. I am getting better at them but I think the pattern is not perfectly accurate. Still, the block measures out at 33.5" after trimming up so that's the goal.
I like the bright one alot.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Productivity

1. Blogged several posts over many cups of coffee
2. Messed with chickens, watered raised beds, harvested more leafy greens
3. Ran to ________( 40 miles) to buy batting in bulk and cheese at Sams
4. Lunch with _______ (Olive Garden... love that restaurant)
5. Back home and put groceries away
6. Ran to get chicken feed before school let out (Ooops, Easter/Spring Break- no traffic)
7. Hauled feed sacks to coop
8. Planted remaining seedlings (16) and watered lower garden
9. Watered all the citrus (fingers still crossed they survive)
10. Washed car for first time in (she mumbles a number with great embarrassment) months
11. Cleaned chicken coop
12. Took photos of plants in the diminishing light of day
13. Ate leftovers and passed out.

awoke at 3:23am with cat sitting upright in bed looking at the darkness. Spooked, I have been up ever since. It's gonna be a lllooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng day.