Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The New Patroon of Poultry

Just call me bi-lingual...or being capable of fusion-speak.  Or a nut.  Salted.

I would like to introduce the Patroon of Poultry - the Sultan of Sweezie's Flock:


Blue Laced Red Wyandotte

He is currently working on his crow.  It sounds like "OFF WITH HER HEAD!!" as yelled through a rusty door hinge.  I wouldn't call him a classic.  Yet...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Bush-whack through my garden...

Finally!  Of course, I was going to go out on Saturday - a nice, sunny day - to take these but family duties intervened and I didn't get out until yesterday.  When it rained all day long.  So, without further ado:

New strawberry bed in the foreground.  Raised bed
behind:  tomato jungle, basil, cukes

(L-R) Tomatoes/basil/cukes and summer squash/winter squash/
pumpkins making a break for it!
Two rows chard (L)
Three rows beets (R)
Sorry pepper and eggplants (front)
Two kinds of kale (back)

Looking between two main raised bed areas:
I did not take my machete out with me, so more detailed pix were not possible.  I was actually afraid at one point that my pumpkin plant would pull an "Audrey II" on me...
You will notice two cars in my driveway - Bernice keeps barking at it and then I think someone has pulled in to visit.  Then I remember that it's my car.  In parking lots, I am still looking for a tan Focus wagon.  Sigh.  Lulabelle is going on Craigslist this week so I hope to find a buyer and end the confusion (and bizarre attachment complex).

I pulled out the bean plants this morning and donated them to the Ovine/Caprine/Camelid Sisters of the Benefaction Society.  They were much appreciated - except by Sister Norman, who, apparently, had never seen a bean plant before and didn't know what all the fuss was about.  I estimate that I picked about two bushels of beans - most of which were immediately consumed or processed into 3 Bean Salad and Mustard Beans.  The balance will be turned into Leather Britches.  The yellow (wax) beans far outgrew the green Providers.  I will have to double check the seed source, but I believe they were from the D. Landreth Seed Company (2012).  Being a small gardener, I can use a good-sized packet of seeds for more than two years - which is why it pays for me to use good, reputable seed companies.

Of the three types of beets that I planted, the chiogga were far better/advanced than either the golden or reds.  The reds are still chugging along.  I hope they hop-to because I have two beet recipes that I HAVE to try - one is a vegeburger and the other is beet hummus.  Hurry up beets!!!  This reminds me -- do you talk to your garden?  Not only do I talk, but this weekend I was singing/dancing the Jungle Boogie (thanks, again, Tami for sticking that in my head...)  I am hoping it will work miracles on my pepper plants.  I also talk to the goats, sheep, chickens, turkeys, llama, dogs, cats, Japanese beetles (bad words), inanimate objects.  It's probably a blessing that I live alone.

The Big Daddy onions (Burpee) are curing in the barn - fingers and toes crossed that they cure in time for me to move them out and my next hay delivery in.  So far, I am very impressed with the size of these babies.  The other three onion types I planted (also from Burpee) have not grown to half their size.  I am going to have to pull the garlic soon, as well.  That won't be a problem to cure, as I have rigged up hanging lines along the inside walls of the barn that work well.  I have no idea what my potato harvest will be like.  The plants were abundant, as were the flowers, there were much less pests this year.  But you never know until you dig in.  Kale did very well (Territorial Seeds), as did the chard (Territorial).  My tomato plants have formed a dense jungle and I am still only getting the small handful of black cherry toms a day.  There are plenty of fruit forming, but all is still green.  My slicing cukes are starting to produce, while my lemon cukes are small, small, small.  I have a feeling - if I can protect them - I will be getting a lot of sweet meat squash (Baker Creek) and pie pumpkins (Territorial).  I put in a second planting of lettuce (Territorial) and winter radishes (Mike's Seeds) which are starting to germinate.  So far, it's been a pretty good year.  Next year, I will not plant so many tomato plants (yeah, right) and will skip the lemon cukes and eggplant (yeah, right). 

On my agenda tonight is to fill my dehydrator with kale.  I am swamped with kale, chard, beets, squash, and cukes.  What a delightful predicament!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

So, what do you do with your spare time?

I will wait a moment while you recover from laughing yourself silly. 

I was reminded of how much there is involved in growing your own food when I read Jenyfer's post this morning.  This time of year, I find myself facing the bean jungle with trepidation.  I try to get out there once a day to pick beans and check the overall progress of the garden.  I am not a measurer, weigher or keeper-tracker of these things.  Let's just say I'm getting a WHOLE lot of beans this year. 

After wingeing and whining over the slow development of my cucumbers, upon closer inspection I discovered two the size of clubs.  Sigh.  This always reminds me of a conversation I had with a strawberry grower south of me.  He runs a pick-your-own farm and is located near a main artery that draws Cityfolks up to the country.  After getting lots of complaints that there were no strawberries (when he knew there were), he went out and asked this young couple with a child to show him.  They stood over the berry plants, looking down in dismay.  "See?"  they mewled.  "There aren't any."  He then bent down with their little girl and lifted a few leaves.  Tons.  They were shocked that they had to bend down or, gasp, actually touch the dirt with their knees, to find ripe berries.  I digress.

I do need to remember to dive into the morass which is my cucumber vines on a more regular basis.  I also harvested my first Ronde de Nice zucchini (thank you, Candy, for the inspiration) and cannot wait to stuff the little bugger.  Of course, it's not as little as it should be (see Cucumbers...)

I am throwing in the gloves and pulling my onions this weekend - probably tonight, as it's supposed to rain this weekend.  They are pulling themselves out of the ground as it is.  I don't want  to be accused of onion neglect.  My cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen and I got another handful of black cherry tomatoes (OMG are they good!)  I also pulled a few more of the golden beets - the reds are running in last place.  My peppers are sad and my eggplant are downright woeful.  Still.  Pep talks don't seem to be having any effect. 

My original point (waaay back there at the beginning) was that, not only do I have to go out every day and pick what's ripe, I have to bring it in, wash it, sort it, package it for the fridge, or process it if I'm not using it right away, and then I have to plan my meals accordingly.  Gardening is like commiting to a relationship.  It's like a whirlwind romance in the spring and summer, nice and comfortable like an old shoe during the fall, then bundled up and sent to bed for the winter.  I am not complaining, nope, not a whit.  There is nothing more satisfying to me than sitting down to every meal, knowing that I have grown most of it.  I know exactly where my food comes from.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Gardens, cars, weather, a people-sheep, and guilt.

But no pictures.  It's been too hot.  That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.  And with all the humidity we've had, I've been sticking to everything.  There is NOTHING worse than trying to peel off your t-shirt when you can't stand it on for one nanosecond longer.  Ask me how I know.

Let's see ... in order:

Garden - Besides being terribly dry, the garden is way ahead of its time.  My onions are flopped over and growing out of the soil.  They are at least a month ahead of schedule.  Unfortunately, having no root cellar, they are putting me in a bind.  I've decided to try and let them dry in the ground as long as possible, before pulling them up and letting them cure.

I have picked a bushel and a half of beans, and they are still coming.  Thanks to Jane (from the late and lamented Hard Work Homestead - she's still there, it's still there), I now have a wonderful new recipe to deal with the bean overload:  3-Bean Salad!  LOVE IT!  I canned up 12 pints and will work on the next new-to-me recipe from the same source - Mustard Beans.  I am plain-canning the really large beans that somehow got overlooked... for use in soups and such.

The chiogga beets are far ahead of the goldens and reds.  I've had them raw, roasted and boiled.  Yum.  I am up to my elbows in kale and Swiss chard.  The tomatoes are just starting to ripen and I can.not.wait for my first Black Cherry tomato.  Thanks to my friend, Marianne, I will have tons.  My summer squash is great this year, except that I found I have put the squeeze on my new zucchini plants and the fruits are not happy.  I've been trying to give them more room to grow, but it's not going all that well.  I am typing this without my notes, so I don't have the actual names.  Time will tell with the potatoes - the plants were doing well - but I'm not holding out much hope for the sweet potatoes. 

I am going to give up trying to grow eggplant.  Remind me next year.  The peppers are slowly coming along and I am going to have a bumper crop of cucumbers, if the flowers on the plants are any indications.  Hundreds of them!  The bees are happy and so am I.  After putting a low fence around the strawberry raised bed, I was able to salvage some berries from the grasp of the countless rabbits that inhabit LLF.  I walked out one morning and there were six of them!  Good gawd.

Cars - Bought one.  I found a 1999 Subaru Forester in excellent condition, with reasonable mileage, within my budget.  Of course, two-thirds of the way to work, right after I picked it up, the Check Engine light went on.  Of course, I repeat.  It's an emissions issue, so doesn't hurt the engine's performance, but it's annoying.  The dealer is working on it, so I will just be patient.  After all, for a 14-year-old car, it's in better shape than most of the younger cars I looked at.

Weather - Hot. Dry. Humid. Hot.  Honestly?  If I wanted to live in this kind of weather, I would have moved to Mississippi.

Norman - Mr. Personality has passed the Llama Nose Test, Juno is only giving him a butt every now and then, Linden loves him - except at meal time, and he just loves people.  He followed the Lawn Guy all around the perimeter of their fence as he was scything the underbrush.  Of course, it could have been that he was getting morsels from said LG on a regular basis.  He is a totally different sheep than I'm used to.  He's great.

Guilt - Okay, I had decided, then undecided, then decided again, then undecided to get replacement turkey poults.  I was driven by a sense that I had paid a lot for these poults and wanted my money's worth.  Then I thought - do I need four?  No.  But the guilt kicked in because the woman who breeds them is a friend and has been screwed countless times by people who special order poultry then change their minds.  This leaves her with an overload that she has to feed, raise and then try to sell.  I ended up with four Ameracauna chicks.  Which I did.not.need.  To add insult to injury, this morning when I was changing their waterer, one of them popped straight up and over and behind the dryer.  I don't know about the rest of you, but I haven't seen the back of my dryer since it was installed - seven years ago.  I had to drag out the stool, climb on top, and try to fish him/her out with my handy butterfly net.  After four tries, I snagged him/her, and brought it up, covered in lint.  I also found out where my sprayer attachment had gone (since bought another...), a poultry waterer and my fertilizer mixing bottle.  So, it wasn't a total loss.

All in all, it's been a busy time at the LLF.  Pictures to come.  Honest.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Norman settles in.

It was a bumpy ride, but Norman is a trooper.  AM and I steered him gently from her van to the back fenced pasture and I gave him a small bowl of grain to calm him down.  He baaed constantly, mouth full of grain and hay, and didn't take his eyes off me.  Poor boy.  Of course, that got the rest of them going, so it was pretty noisy on the LLF all afternoon.  I had re-covered the hoop house so that he had shelter, and I reinforced my goofy gate between "them" and Norman.  Everyone was calm and curious, with much nose-touching through the fence.  aPria gave him the hairy eyeball every five minutes, but I think she was just trying to size up the new thing in the pasture.  AND it was/is wearing a coat.  Scary stuff, all the way around.  Norman is much taller than the fluffy sheep, so I figure it would all even out - tallness vs. fluffy-ness.

The grass is green, at least, if not greener on this
side of the fence.

Things had calmed down by the time I left for work.  I am sure Ms. BossyPantsMajorFluffiness will be giving Norman the business at every opportunity.  I'm glad he has Linden as a pal.

Meet and Greet at the fence line.

aPria, who has, up to this point, found Norman the most terrifying of all creatures on Earth, is now getting close enough to run a nose over him and his scary clothes.  Surprise!  He's a sheep!  They can now be found cushed together under the shade of the ash tree.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Musings.

I had to laugh, going through my junk mailbox - Adriana was feeling frisky.  There was help for my big booty.  There was help for other things, none of which I am equipped with.  A distant relative, for whom English is not even a second language, needed my help.  All my pharmacy needs can be met in Canada.  I was so glad to know that I would finally be able to be a hit with the girls!  Not.

Having recently stepped over the boundary of what would be the last straw in keeping Lulabelle, my car, I have been combing craigslist in search of a Suburu Forester.  A very used one, given my limited budget. Trying to find out all I can over the phone and Internet can be like pulling teeth. Or pushing string. Or, of course, my favorite - herding cats. I found one listed about an hour and a half from me. Right price range, reasonable mileage, still available. Then she said, "Well, we had a large dog so there's a little wear and tear on the inside, etc." It's the etc. that got my attention. When she finally sent pix of the damage, it was NOT insignificant. I know that a used car - especially one of such 'vintage' as my budget will allow - is not pristine. Heck, my car is far from pristine. But, really. Ripped carpeting, claw marks all over the interior. I'm still looking.

Apparently, deep fried oreos and pickles were NOT the ultimate bottom of the food chain. This year, there is deep fried meatloaf, bread pudding, olives, and....butter. Although I still think that the latter is just impossible. And they've introduced chocolate dipping sauce for the deep fried pickles. GOOD GAWD. I admit, I was a fan of funnel cake (and still get misty-eyed thinking about them) back when I could eat them. But are we going off on a rather scary tangent with this deep-fried business? This kind of thinking is what endangered rhinos, sharks, and countless other creatures.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I call it ... Cupcake.

With a dollop.

It's not easy to garden, farm, put up fences, or just walk two feet without tripping around here. Rocks, rocks and more rocks. It's no wonder there are two gravel pits down the road. The Lithuanian Lawn Guy finally had had it with a couple of bigger ones that come up and bite his mower blades every week. Of course, I (helpfully) suggested he not scalp the lawn and raise the blade an inch or so. A baleful look was pointed in my direction. And, heck. What do I care, really? At least I don't have to mow it!

Instead, I (again, helpfully) directed the placement of two rocks to form ... a cupcake. I am sure that most of my neighbors and town residents (not to mention the Lithuanian Lawn Guy) get one of 'those' looks, when discussing me. Just wait until I become that wacky old lady at the end of the road with goats in her kitchen and cats in her (dresser) drawers. Just wait.

(Take a deep breath, Sylvie. I was just kidding. I think.)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday, Monday.

These computer-less weekends are more frustrating when they run four days.  While I can follow the blogs I love on my phone, I have not figured out how to comment and have it go through.  SO, if you don't think I love you anymore - I do.  You just can't hear me cursing commenting in the background.

I must have totally jinxed myself by posting my gratuitous poultry pix, because I lost two of the four poults suddenly over the weekend.  After long conversations with the breeder, we came up with:  STUDS.  Sudden Turkey Unexplained Death Syndrome.  Very similar to SCUDS (Sudden Chicken etc.).  I don't know if it was the heat - although I monitored their brooding environment on an hourly basis, but they were perfectly fine at 4:30A when I checked on them and then, a couple of hours later - after hearing more than the usual peeping - I went in to find the largest poult sprawled, dead, in the corner and the smallest followed suit within 5 minutes.  Very upsetting.  So I now have been monitoring them every half hour and, when I hear peeping, I bolt to the brooding room/laundry room to check on them.  Even if it means that I was sound asleep at 2A.  Obviously, not 'sound' asleep.  It's been a very long weekend.

Thanks to the high temperatures and equally high humidity, I didn't get even a fraction of my to-do list done.  I went into the garden as soon as it was light enough and weeded.  Waterers got filled 2-3 times a day.  The sheep/llama got their own wading pool.  Even the goats were quiet.

I did get a lot of reading done in front of the fan - I am currently working on another Sharon Astyk book:  Independence Days, which I love just as much as every other Sharon Astyk book.  I harvested my garlic scapes and took a short trip to an organic farm with the Ms to cut more.  Then I was faced with pounds of the stuff.  And with my 25 lbs of peaches.  Obviously, I don't do anything in a small way.  I ended up with five batches of garlic scape pesto - approx 20 cups.  Last year I froze it in containers, but found that that large of a quantity was too much to use once open and a lot got offered to the hens.  This year, I portioned it out in 1/3 cup scoops in my handy silicone muffin cups and then froze them, popped them out and stored them in zip bags in the freezer.  I am now set for the year.  I came very close to taking a neighbor up on cutting his scapes, but managed to stop myself. 

I made two peach custard pies for the annual Pie ala Mode Cafe event the local library puts on at the Fourth of July Parade each year.  This was the first parade I missed since moving here.  Darn.  But I had to go to Vermont.  I also tried something new - fruit leathers.  Since I have a refrigerator packed with peaches, I pureed them with a little lemon juice and spread the puree on waxed paper covered trays in the Excalibur.  Yum-ola!  I rolled the finished leathers up and put them in the freezer as well.  I plan to do more - just waiting for the weather to cool down to boiling.

The garden is going gang-busters and I picked the last of the peas - most of the plants were divided between the sheep and the goats.  I left a couple of plants up to go to seed for next year.  My 500 bean plants are setting beans!  Woot!  Should be interesting trying to find them in that bean plant jungle.  I'm picking Swiss Chard, two kinds of kale, the last of my radishes - planting more this week - my chiogga beets are forming up, there are lots of green tomatoes on the plants, cukes are starting to climb, and I am close to being able to harvest summer squash.  The potato plants are flowering and I am managing to keep ahead of the potato bugs. 

By Sunday, being thoroughly disgusted with my lack of progress in any direction, I forced myself to make the new goat feeder and managed to make a good-sized dent in cleaning out their barn before I was forced back into the cool of the house.  The feeder has morphed into various designs and materials, crystallizing into the cheapest one I could managed that I felt would be effective.  I built two wooden frames, nailed on fencing sections, and attached them on either side of the pallet divider.  Of course, Apple got her head stuck within moments, but managed to get it out before I had to intervene.  Thank goodness, the girls are smarter than their mother and seem to have learned that it is NOT a good thing to push your noggin through the fence.  So far, the hay waste has really been cut down. 

That, in a nutshell, is what I was up to over the holiday weekend.  Now I'm off to re-read and comment on everyone else's goings-ons.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Gratuitous Baby Poultry Pic.

There is just something so compelling about turkey poults.  Their feet : body ratio is out of whack.  They have BIG dark eyes (that look very intelligent, IMHO).  They have small heads.  They have that funny, fleshy blob on top of their beaks.  Their wing feathers grow straight out at an awkward angle.  And yet, and yet....

I just want to give them a little squeeze and a smooch on their pin heads.  Neither of which they appreciate.

I need to get out more.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Did I lie?  Blond.  Curly hair.  Sweet disposition.  Obviously, a sense of style.  And, no, he's not a smoker.  We caught him mid-breakfast...

Norman is a one year-old Cormo cross wether.  And he is almost mine.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Monday Musings or Where have I been?

And I don't just mean since last week - I know where I've been.  Mostly.  Who am I?  I mean that I had no idea that Google Reader was due to disappear today.  I read a LOT of blogs and that was my go-to way to keep track of them, making sure I was not missing anything important.  A friend told me last night and, of course, I panicked.  Luckily, another site I followed sent a very helpful post and I was able to switch my entire blog list over to Bloglovin.  AND, just to show you how hip/hep/cool/rad/whatever I am, I also downloaded their app so that I can check on all of you during the weekend, while I remain computer-less.

I think that this all has to do with my priorities.  Which seem to be all over the map recently.  I am being diligent at counting my pennies (I think, personally, that we should do away with pennies - they just get in the way), using up what I have, applying frugality (word?) to all aspects of my life and...then...

Norman and the Poults.

I had an interesting weekend - Saturday morning found me covering two states within an hour and a half.  (I always love to say that - it sounds so much MORE than it really is, seeing as I live 20 minutes from both Massachusetts and Vermont.)  I rediscovered someone that I knew in my previous life who has developed a fairly lucrative poultry business.  On her tiny farm she has created a neat, tidy, clean patchwork of geese, ducks, chickens and rabbits.  I had been looking for Bourbon Red turkey poults and had not had much luck locally.  I had no intention of getting 10, so I had almost given up until I discovered Barbara's business.  And it's just down the road from my haircutter's place.  Woot!  She had hatched a large batch of poults for someone and had a few extra.  I zipped over after picking up feed in Mass., stopping at my favorite local berry grower for two quarts of their amazing strawberries - to sustain me for the drive back to NY - and picked up four gangly BR poults.  I had a nice visit, zipped back home and set up the brooder in the laundry room.  There is something about turkey poults that I love more than any other baby fowl.  They have huge feet, great big eyes, little heads with a little fleshy bump on their 'foreheads', and their wing feathers grow straight out at the beginning.  Adorable.  They seem to be thriving, thank goodness.  They always seem so fragile.  Of course, our power went out for three hours - attributed to a squirrel vs. transformer.  The squirrel lost, but not without taking us down for  awhile.  Damn squirrels.  Damn chipmunks.  Damn rabbits.  Damn....never mind.

Sunday was hot.  And humid.  At about 3 o'clock, Bernice started to pace around the house, panting more than usual.  I was beginning to think she was going around the bend.  I should have known better.  A little later, black clouds rolled in, thunder, lightning and a downpour.  Hurray!  I didn't have to water the garden!  Or clean out the goat barn!  Of course, there was the matter of my laundry hanging on the line to dry.  I thought I would just leave it there and let it dry whenever.  That was until I found out that 'whenever' was at some point later this week.  I don't fancy wearing mold.  So it's strung out through the house.

It's funny how perceptions go.  I have been raising six chickens for my neighbor.  She was going to have a coop built, then diddled around and finally ordered one to be shipped.  Now, mind you, she knew how many chickens I was raising for her (6) and she knew what the breeds were (2 Jersey Giants/2 Austerlorps/2 Buff Orpingtons).  Finally, three months later, all was ready and I was to bring the girls over to their new home.  I hefted the carrier out of my car, staggered around the corner to find.... a TINY coop with a TINY run.  I would guess that it was large enough - maybe - for four bantam hens.  Sigh.  But she was thrilled to get them (they are just beautiful - 2 white, 2 black and 2 butterscotch) and we had a talk about size of coop, size of run, etc.  She is getting a larger coop toot-sweet (as they say in French).  My little banties were thrilled to lose their giant roommates.

Here is how I am rationalizing rationally figuring out how all this shifting around is balancing the number of dependents on the LLF.  Six big chickens gone.  Four tiny poults arrive.  Down two.  Sage (maybe Willo) going.  Norman coming.  Either an even trade or one down.

Norman, you ask?
Picture to come.
I'm such a tease.