31 October 2014

New chicks

More of an update later, but right now:
newly arrived just-hatched chicks
Twenty-five of those are my neighbors' who combined order with me to save on shipping.  The neighbors ordered just Cornish-Rock crosses to raise for meat, where I ordered 30 "assorted heavies" which means I could have quite the selection.  So we ordered 55 total, and I received 62 with extras for warmth.  All were alive and cheeping rather noisily.

The "Oh they are so CUTE!" is in full effect right now.

24 October 2014

Cooking from scratch

As the two regular (?) readers here know, I have been cooking more and more from scratch this year.  At some point (after I wash the pickled beet brine stain out of the tablecloth I made) I need to pull out all my favorite cookbooks that have scratch recipes in them and take a pic for posterity or some such ... but sometimes I just wing it.  Both my parents began to teach me to cook back when I was still too little to reach the stovetop or counter without pulling the stepstool over - about 6 or 7 years old, I think.  I was short for many years though, but probably that early.  Yes, my mother had her cast iron skillets even back then, and still refuses to pass them on while she is still above ground.  She also refuses to even let me borrow her 1968/72 edition Betty Crocker cookbook which opens to my two favorite recipes in it.  I can remember the ingredients, just not measurements and back then I still measured on most things.

Yesterday, I made up a loaf of bread like usual, and it rose and had just the perfect consistency which is often a function of temperature and humidity levels in addition to ingredients.  Today I have two projects going: homemade ketchup where I used up the last of the pomegranate vinegar, and pasta sauce.
homemade ketchup in the little crock pot

homemade pasta sauce on the stove
Yes, there are already splatters from stirring and other dishes ... I cook in a real kitchen and not some gussied-up TV sound stage.  It's easier for me to wait until I am done and things have cooled to wipe up the splatters and drips.  The saucepot on the stove is at least twenty years old, as well ... I bought it at a garage sale way back when.  I'd say I have more than gotten my 25c worth out of it.  Or was it 10c?

Garden and chicken updates soon.

10 October 2014

The unwelcome neighbor

Our one major unwelcome neighbor just came onto our front porch to sniff at our front door ... the black bear.  No pic, as the camera was not my first thought.  It wasn't quite my third thought either.  I can't believe how quiet she was, either ... hubby was sitting here with his back to the open window and didn't hear her.  Yes, we know she is a "her" because one of her cubs had ventured just out of the treeline.  When I did think of grabbing the camera and opening the door (after she walked off the porch!)  she loped off to her cub and the trees.

This is the first time we've actually seen her ... and she just walked up to our front door.

09 October 2014

Planted some more stuff

Wall-of-text, probably no pics ... this is where I keep my gardening notes so the cat cannot shred a paper notebook and I should not be able to misplace this.  After last evening's huge assault on the dirt and weeds, hubby asked what WE were planting today.  I love that he has become more interested in both the gardening (including composting) and the chickens (which may also include composting).  So we attacked another bed with digging fork, shovel, hoe and rake.  Here we go:

  • Green onion (Burpee Parade variety) in the box next to the store-bought green onions I had planted either in the spring or last fall.  The ones I started from seed last year near the coop have outshone and outproduced the store-boughts.  For anyone who has not yet heard the trick on store-bought green onions: chop them down to where the stems turn white ... then instead of tossing the little bulbs, plant them.  Excellent for people who have little space and use containers for gardening ... but as I mentioned, the seed started ones are noticeably better.
  • Chives (Ferry-Morse, garlic variety) in the same box as the green onions.  A nice bit of variety.
  • Spinach (Burpee Bloomsdale Long-Standing and Satin varieties) in the same box, also in the original salad box, and a few scattered in where I planted mustard, spinach mustard, and turnip greens the other day.  We like spinach!  Especially in salads, on sandwiches, in casseroles, etc etc etc ....
  • Peas (American Seed Dwarf Gray Sugar variety) along the trellis in the bed-without-a-box we prepped this morning.  An edible-pod variety, which will mean a lot of happy stir-fries for us.
  • Carrots (orange, Burpee Big Top, Scarlet Nantes, and Danvers 126 varieties) scattered on one side of the pea trellis closer to the house.
  • Rainbow carrots from Ferry-Morse.  Seriously, who could resist a purple carrot?  Or a gold one, or a white one ... you could say I tend to still play with my food on a more sophisticated level! LOL
  • Parsnip (Ferry-Morse, Hollow Crown variety) I was surprised the seeds are so much larger than carrot seeds, since I thought the two more closely related.  Hmm, maybe kissing cousins instead of first cousins then.
  • Radish (Ferry-Morse, White Icicle Short Top variety) just because.
I am pretty sure that is all that I have planted today.  I am out of half-empty envelopes and did not use all of any one up.

07 October 2014

Planted something (greens)

So I had made myself a to-do list Saturday night that read:

  • make bread
  • water gardens
  • plant something
Hubby thought it was amusing ... the specificity of "plant something" ... but I just did not get it done on Sunday.  Instead I had to go chasing a pullet (dark Easter egger I thought might be sick, bought Saturday) a couple times before deciding she obviously felt well enough to go in with others.  A remarkable recovery for her, aided by our fermented wet scratch and "Poultry Booster" multivitamins, so I swapped her for one of the Silkies, who had been crying and we wanted to be sure she was eating.  She did eat and drink, but I still found her dead Monday morning.  Best I can figure is she had injured herself either going into the carrier or when the other pullets were in the carrier at the farm market, as she had cried all the way home as well.  I had named her Crybaby.  This brings us down to three feathered incubators, but those three are all looking well.

Today I finally got out into the dirt and planted "something," three different somethings, in fact.  I spread around little seeds for "Seven Top" turnips, "Florida Broadleaf" mustards, and "Tendergreen" spinach mustard.  I also scattered a few mustard seeds around my Tropical Beauty peach tree, which isn't looking too good this fall.

Now here are some more chicken pics from Saturday.
the Polish/banties, Corey and the Eileens

Buffy, with her partially-feathered feet

Buffy and Lavendar, the other Easter egger

Speckles the speckled Sussex

Sunny the Welsummer, hamming it up in hopes of a treat

04 October 2014

Our new incubators

We bought four new incubators this morning at the farm market, and here are pics of three of them:
bantam/Polish cockerel and one of the bantam/Polish pullets

Sunny the Welsummer and the two new Silkie pullets
Nope, not the electrical style of incubators!  LOL  Both bantams and Silkies have reputations for firmly believing their purpose in life is to brood and hatch any and all fertilized eggs.  I am hoping these four live up to that reputation, because even though our electric co-op is very good about getting power back up when it goes down in a storm ... the one time you depend on that it just won't happen.  "Murphy" and his law run more than just the army.

Hubby came with me to the farm market, even though he was up until 3 AM taking care of replacing the well pump.  I wanted him to see the Silkies, the purebred Polish, and also adult guineas.  Well, more like hearing the adult guineas LOL since they can be rather loud and I want a small flock of them.  He has approved the guinea fowl idea, as long as their coop is far enough away from our bedroom windows.

When we walked up to the vendor I bought from last time, I pointed out the Silkies first, calling them "incubators disguised as feather dusters."  The vendor, Fran, thought that was hilarious, and added, "Yup, that is true!"  When I pointed out the Polish chickens in the cage above, I called them "escapees from an '80s hair band" which got chuckles from both hubby and Fran.  Instead of calling the Silkies or Polish weird or silly-looking, hubby says they look cool and he would not object to either breed running around our coops or tractoring around the yard.  So, we now have two Silkies and a breeding trio of bantam/Polish crosses which are just too cute to pass up.  The bantie/Poles look like they belong in the early '80s new bands, so one of the pullets will be named Eileen (as in "Come on, Eileen").  I just need to learn to tell them apart.

03 October 2014

What a morning

So we woke up to no running water this morning.  Since I distrusted the well pump, we do have five gallons of filtered drinking water and another five gallons of non-filtered wash water on hand ... and yes, the well pump died overnight.

Then I went out to feed the chickens breakfast, and the pretty pencil-feathered easter egger was barely moving.  The darker easter egger had died last week without warning, and this one had been lethargic for the better part of the week.  She didn't even open her eyes when I picked her up to move her out of the small coop.  At least Speckles and Sunny the Welsummer are both bright-eyed and active.

I hope the weekend gets better.