30 September 2014

Sun time versus clock time

So, we have passed the autumnal equinox and the days are noticeably getting shorter.  A couple days before the equinox, hubby remarked that it was obvious the season was changing because the mid-morning sunlight was coming in his window instead of mine.  Another factor coming up soon: the end of "daylight savings" time here in 49 of the 50 states.  My brother in Arizona is still spared the hassle of changing his clocks twice a year.

What just brought this difference in reckoning time up this evening is the late chicken feeding.  Near the summer solstice we were feeding the chickens after 6 PM, and not eating ourselves until 7 or later.  Now with shorter days, I have moved the feeding time back to a couple hours prior to sunset, which I reckon by when the shadow from the tall tree behind the house touches the first front garden box.

We will still need clock-time for appointments and business hours for errands, but I noticed that more and more I am looking at where the shadows around the house are for a gauge of what time it is.

Oh, there is only one time a day when the roosters are on clock-time: when my neighbors leave for work a bit before 6 AM and their headlights wake the boys up.

27 September 2014

Green and red romaine lettuce plants taking well

Here are a few pics of the green and red romaine lettuce starts I transplanted the other week.  I have them spread out among three boxes, as at the time the neighbors' pet deer was still pillaging gardens.  (I still have not seen her recently ... I had nothing to do with that, either!)  I figure next week we can probably start eating a salad or two.
green and red romaine lettuce, with a few volunteer pepper plants, likely datil

green and red romaine lettuce in with basil and last year's green onions

last year's salad box, with the last few red romaine lettuce plants
In this last box, you can see a little bit of our composting-in-place going on.  Kitchen waste like coffee grounds, filters, egg shells, and vegetable scraps get put into future beds or existing beds that need a little boost.  Meat scraps go to either the dog or the chickens.  Dead leaves and grass clippings round that out.

26 September 2014

No parsley seeds for me

As I was walking around and looking at my various garden boxes ... I notice my two curled leaf parsley plants which were bolting nicely will not be giving me seeds.  The swallowtail caterpillars have found them, and hubby and I counted fifteen caterpillars on the two plants!  Hubby had to come out and see this.  I must admit, it is impressive in a flower-stripping way.
there are fifteen swallowtail caterpillars stripping my curled parsley bolts
close up of the biggest swallowtail caterpillars
 Hubby commented it is good for the caterpillars that we now know what they are ... meanwhile I was thinking how lucky they are I know the chickens don't like the taste of them.  I had wanted seeds from these parsley plants!  They have been healthy and contributing fresh parsley leaves to our meals for almost two years now. *Sigh.*

22 September 2014

Homemade pasta sauce and from-scratch pancakes

Hope you are not viewing this on an empty stomach ... first, the red pasta sauce simmering in my small crockpot.
my homemade red pasta sauce after mixing, before the hours of simmering
I don't use measurements on this, just toss into the crockpot and then dip a finger in to taste if it needs more of something.  Start with tomato sauce, then put in white sugar, garlic, salt, dried onion/powder, basil, oregano, and just a twist of black pepper.  Then let it sit in the crockpot uncovered for four to eight hours, stirring occasionally to keep the sauce on the bottom from scorching.  I usually put it on high for the first hour, then down to low.

Now, I related snippets of my dreams last night to hubby over coffee, and one snippet I remember is we were debating about what to make for breakfast.  Hubby asked what the options were, and I said, "I'm not sure, but the final verdict was pancakes."  Well, that pretty much decided it: second breakfast today was pancakes.  I gave up on pancake mixes over a year ago, and found a really kick-(*donkey*) recipe on the allrecipes.com site called buttermilk oatmeal pancakes.  I hope the link works, because these are hearty, stick-to-your-ribs pancakes!  The recipe says 4 servings, but it didn't mention those four would be all teenage boys on the football team, or farm/ranch hands.
leftover pancakes this morning, to be reheated in the toaster oven
There is one big downside to eating real food again (well, two if you count the mosquitoes loving you all the more!) and that is most restaurant food just does not compare.  For that matter, grocery produce and eggs don't compare to what we are capable of raising here.  I do hope the hens get over their molt soon!  I am tired of *shattering* the egg shells because I am used to tougher shells.  I am also tired of picking out the shell bits after shattering a store bought egg ... I have learned to crack them into a small bowl and not over the main bowl I am mixing stuff in.

20 September 2014

Chicken additions and subtractions

Several updates to our chicken status:
1) All three of the original "golden girls" I bought last spring have now died (the 4th, another cockerel, was purchased by our neighbor).  No apparent cause of death; they simply looked "blah" and died shortly after.  Oh, one of the "golden girls" we had named Sandy ... and was a rooster.  Hubby talked me out of turning him into dumplins last year because he thought Sandy's antic were entertaining and he looked cool.  One thing I had noticed about the two white hens is that their legs were white instead of yellow, like the third white hen's legs.

2) Until just this afternoon, we had not gotten an egg since the end of August due to molt.  Pretty much everyone went into molt at the same time.  Egg laying stopped (so I took the opportunity to deworm everyone), chicken got fussy and cranky, and it truly looks like they have been having a pillow fight out there.  What is truly amusing is Feyd, the gold-laced Wyandotte rooster, who lost his last sickle feathers a couple days ago and about half his hackle feathers, strutting around and preening this morning when I attempted to get a picture of him.
Feyd the gold-laced Wyandotte rooster

Feyd, "such a beautiful boy!"
 3) Additions I bought this morning at the Barberville farm market: all four are pullets, with the Speckled Sussex being older than the other three, two of which are certainly Easter Eggers with the slate-colored legs.  No names for any of them just yet.
new girls: one speckled sussex, two easter eggers, one possible welsummer
another look at the new girls

18 September 2014

Green and red romaine lettuce transplanted

Just a quick note that I transplanted green and red romaine lettuce starts in three different boxes.  Right now, our biggest garden pest is the neighbors' pet deer who had twin fawns this year.  She stripped their gardens first, then came over to ours (along with getting quite a few pears off the trees too).  So, I am trying to spread things out in hope that she does not eat it all.

Seeds in freezer for later planting, too.