Friday, July 29, 2011

Tribe Wars

I'm beginning to worry that maybe the two tribes of chickens will never be able to live together.

I've had to employ my chicken first aid skills twice in the last week, thanks to attacks on the babies by their aunties.  The first one happened last Sunday, when Shawn let all 4 out to roam around.  They had been fine with each other over the last couple weeks, so we gave it a shot.  Several hours later, he found the babies hiding in their coop, with Pearl's comb all torn up.  Since we weren't able to see what happened, we were hoping that maybe she just ripped it on something like Abby did a while back.  I cleaned it up with some hydrogen peroxide, slapped on some Neosporin, and she was healing nicely.

Until yesterday.

I decided to give playtime another shot yesterday, since I would be outside with them as I watered the garden and stuff.  Things we going fine for a while, and they were all ignoring each other.  What got my attention was Frannie standing in the middle of the lawn, by herself, doing her agitated growling noise.  I looked up to find no one around.  When I went around to where the chicken coops were, I found Abby in the babies' chicken run, and the babies in their coop, Pearl's comb re-torn, but with about twice as much blood dripping down her face.  (sigh.)  You can tell that Abby cornered Pearl in the corner of the run because it looks like a murder scene with blood in the ground and the posts.

I put Abby in timeout, rescued the babies and cleaned up the wound the same way, but it doesn't look as good as it did last time.  I hope she's ok. 

Nonetheless, the big ladies are in a timeout today, and the babies get free range of the yard.  We're mad at Abby.

And here's Nikolai enjoying our 78 minutes of summer.
What. A. Stud.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Harvest and Custard Pie

Double post today.

First the harvest.  A couple weeks ago, I stopped picking the peas and left some pods on the vines to get nice and plump.  Yesterday I pulled the plants up and left them to dry in the beautiful sun.  I'm hoping to dry the peas to use for seed next year.  I planted the rest of the seeds so here's to hoping for another crop of delicious peas in the fall.

The kale is still going strong so I harvest those as needed, and we've been eating a lot of green salads to hopefully make a dent in the lettuce crop.  Though bitter when it gets picked, it loses its bitterness if left to chill in the fridge overnight in some water.  This sun is going to make them bolt soon, which will make this tactic useless.  The chickens don't care about the bitterness so they'll get a lot.

So, not a very exciting harvest this week, next week I'm hoping to have a zucchini or two to show you.

And now for PIE.  I love pie.

It was my sister's birthday yesterday, and since my dad is making a cake tonight, I decided to make a pie for her.  Fruit pie is good, but nothing beats a slice of cold, egg custard pie on a summer evening.  So that's what I made.

My chicken glass wants some.
Ingredients (for a 9-inch pie pan)

*5 eggs
*3/4 cup sugar
*3 1/2 cups milk
*1 1/4 tsp vanilla
*1/2 tsp salt (heaping)
*1/4 tsp cinnamon (heaping)

*A single pie crust

Heat the oven to 450.  Beat all the ingredients together.  Put the pie crust into the oven then pour the egg/milk mixture into the pan.  Believe me, don't pour it in the pan then try to put it in the oven, way too scary because the mix will fill it to the brim.  Bake at 450 for 20 minutes, then lower oven temp to 350 and bake another 20 minutes or so until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  It won't look finished, but if the knife comes out clean, it's done.

Chill, and enjoy!  mmmmm...

Happy 80-degrees day!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Creepy Crawlies

I'm going to come out and say it: I have to buy vegetables at the store this summer. 

I blame it all on the aphids.

They're all over my brassicas.  I was able to save the kale by pulling up one whole plant early on that was infested, and that has helped prevent the spread of it to other plants.  However, my broccoli is a total disaster.  I harvested two small heads last week just to be able to eat them before the aphids did, but the rest are hopeless.  There was one plant that had so many aphids on it I thought it was a head of broccoli from far away.  Upon closer inspection, it was just a mass of disgusting grey aphids having a disgusting aphid party on my poor broccoli plant.  I had to pull it up and toss it in the compost.  The rest aren't as nasty, but nasty enough to prevent broccoli from being edible.  So far my cabbage and cauliflower look ok, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I tend to lean towards the belief that all animals, no matter how gross, deserve the right to live.  I'm not grossed out or scared by many things.  However, any teeming mass of insect gives me the heebie jeebies.  There are several bugs that I have personal vendettas against.

#1.  Ants:  You know the little black ones that walk in lines and come into the house?  We had an infestation of those several years ago and I'm just now starting to not feel the murderous rage well up inside me when I see them.

#2:  Maggots:  Last year, (remember, when we had a pseudo-summer?) we had a bit of a problem with flies thanks to the chickens.  Shawn made a fly trap (which didn't really work) to try to lessen our numbers.  After a week or so, when the trap had only caught 4 or 5 flies, we decided to throw it away.  I picked it up, looked inside and saw masses of maggots wriggling around inside.  I'd never really seen maggots up close before but they totally creeped me out.  I don't think I've ever been so grossed out in my life.  I'm fine with spiders, worms, centipedes, snakes, blah blah blah, but those maggots triggered a reaction from me that was completely unexpected.  I kinda want to throw up just thinking about it.

#3:  Aphids:  See above.
So freakin' gross.
So there you go, instead of eating massive amounts of delicious home grown broccoli right now, I have to go to the store to buy my fresh green stuff.  I hate aphids.  I hope they all die.  I'mma spray 'em.  Spray 'em all dead.  (With natural, home made aphid killer, of course.)

And lastly, I think y'all need a baby update.  They're not really babies anymore and are beginning the awkward voice change from "cheepy cheepies" to hoarse, high pitched chicken "bok bok burrrrs." It's funny.  Fran has stopped trying to murder them, but they are far from friends.  I've accepted the fact that that may never happen.

Aren't they getting pretty?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sunday Harvest

Only one day late this week!

I got to harvest new stuff!  I'm letting the rest of the pea pods get mature and dry out so I can save them to plant for next year.  I'll plant another crop soon from the rest of the seeds I have left for a fall harvest.

I was waiting for the broccoli to get bigger before I harvested, but something seems to be eating them so I had to harvest those too.  Shawn and I felt like we had a disappointing Christmas while pulling our carrots, since none of them came up nice looking at all.  They were all short and stumpy with weird fingers. 

We're still drowning in lettuce and can't seem to keep up because a lot of it is going bitter.  I'm wondering what the reason is for that since there are some lettuce plants that are just barely mature and are bitter already.  Looks like I need to research lettuce bitter-prevention.  Am I not watering them enough?  Oh and I pulled two tiny radishes.  Those haven't even done well this year...

All cleaned up but still looking sad.
You know, I bought these seeds from Uprising Farms in Bellingham for various reasons: heirloom varieties, local, organic, and the fact that I figured if they do well in Bellingham, they should do well here.  Maybe it's the lack of summer we're having, but so far, I've been a bit disappointed.  Maybe things will pick up soon.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sunday Harvest

Maybe I should call it Tuesday harvests from now on.

We're almost finished with the peas, though you wouldn't be able to tell by the looks of the pile in our 'fridge.  I finally got to harvest some kale and made some kale chips and threw some more in with pasta.  It was goooood.

Oh and the chickens got into the garden today.  I'm really mad right now because they killed a rather large pumpkin plant and half pulled up a bunch of onions.  (Why do the onions get it every time?!)  Luckily almost everything else is big enough that the ladies can't do much fatal damage.  They had a nice meal of cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower leaves.  (Sigh...)  I wonder why fried chicken sounds so good right now?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mega Book Reviews

Even though I haven't written an official book review recently, I've been reading a lot of homesteading and conscious-living related literature, in addition to other fun books that aren't related to this blog.  So I'm gonna cram all the reviews in here at once.  Oh, and I have a new rating system for my book reviews, since I think ratings are fun.  Each book will be rated by number of eggs, four eggs being a perfect score.  (Maybe I'll even give a golden egg to a REALLY good one.)

Ready?  Set. Go.

Book: The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget by Josh Dorfman

I read this book in the wintertime.  I got it for Christmas and was really looking forward to it.  WHAT A LETDOWN.  I was hoping for good ideas on how to buy things consciously, but it was pretty much a catalog of "eco" products for the normal consumeristic American.  If you need a brand new car you should buy this one, if you need a brand new wardrobe, you should buy this stuff.  Well, since I'm one who tries to reduce the overall amount of my consumption, this book is virtually worthless to me.  Boo.  I'll keep it around just in case I come across a point when I need to buy new stuff.  This book gets one and a half eggs out of four.

Book: Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

On the other end of the spectrum, this book was super great.  It's a really in-depth look at how we modern western Americans eat, and how we choose what to eat.  He takes a really good look at corn and all the ways that it is manipulated and added into virtually any and all processed foods.  He visits a CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation, aka COW HELL) and describes what he saw and how the feeding of corn to these cows adversely effects them.  He also writes about his visit to a polyculturally run farm and how well that system works both for the animals as well as environmentally.  He ends by talking about his quest to create a meal that he collected or grew on his own including learning how to hunt wild California pig and how to forage for mushrooms.  The book leaves you feeling more empowered to make more knowledgeable decisions about the food that you eat to keep both you and the environment healthy.  Four out of four eggs on this one.

Book: The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms by Amy Stewart

This was one I was really excited about.  You see, I've always said that if I had a spirit animal, it would be the earthworm.  These creatures are so amazing, I can't say enough about them.  They are the main line of cleaning our soils and making them fertile to allow us to grow our food.  Without them, the world would fall apart.  The book itself was a little science-y, and some of the info in it was a little boring, but overall there was some good info in it about the history of earthworms, how they came to the Americas, how in some cases they do more harm than good, and what Darwin has to do with it all.  The book just made me fall in love with the slimy creatures all over again. Three out of four eggs.

Book: Holy Shit by Gene Logsdon

The fourth book on this list is one my dad got for me because of, you guessed it, it's awesome title.  And yes, it's about poop.  The book starts off by discussing the benefits of manure in agriculture as well as mini homesteads and farms.  There was a whole chapter on manure spreaders and pitchforks which was kinda lame, but the rest of the book went through the varying manure sources by animal, including alternative creatures like bats, non-poultry birds, and humans.  The author is pretty convincing in saying that smart use of biosolids will be what change our mainstream agriculture to one that is sustainable and environmentally friendly rather than what we're doing now which is slowly making our valuable land useless and barren.  Now if only we can convince mainstream Americans into thinking it's a good idea...  Lets give this one three eggs.

Book: Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver

I'm including the book I'm reading now because I'm almost finished with it and it's already blown my pants off.  I think I've read nearly every book by Ms. Kingsolver, and they have never failed to leave me feeling good and empowered.  I still say one of my favorite book is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and her others top my list as well.  I didn't know what to expect with this one.  I knew it would be good, but not until I read several of the essays did I come to realize that this book touches on everything I feel strongly about.  There's an essay of conscious eating, consumerism, the unfortunate case of arrogant American syndrome, feminism...  I also feel like I'm reading it at the perfect point in my life.  Had I read it a few years ago, I don't think I would have responded so strongly.  Three and half out of four eggs for this Kingsolver piece.  (Gotta save the perfect scores for the really good ones.)

So there you go.  I'll try to stay up on the book reviews so I don't bombard you again.

Note:  I know for a fact that my reviews are not totally amazing and I may have left things out, especially from the ones that I read a while back.  Sorry.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sunday Harvest (2 days late)

Happy holiday, dear readers.

I guess I already failed my blog challenge by writing this late, but better late than never.

This week's harvest is pretty much the same as last week.  I've been eating peas everyday, mostly raw, but I also made a delicious Chinese-inspired pea, broccoli, and shrimp stir fry yesterday.  It was really good.  I can't wait till my broccoli is ready to harvest so I can make some more.  We've been giving away lettuce like crazy, at least five heads have gone to better homes in the last few days.

Here's a picture of the bed in our front yard which apparently is heaven for lettuce.  (And this is after I gave away the five heads.)

Driveway lettuce is still going strong.
In other garden news, I'm officially tapped out of places to plant.  I've maxed out any and all possible planting space, and I'm pretty sure I've planted everything too close together in hopes of using my space efficiently.  I'll let you know how it goes.

In other other news, we've had some pretty serious hen fights lately.  Yesterday, the babies went to explore the big ladies' coop and found that their aunties don't appreciate that.  What ensued was the biggest attack yet with Frannie being the head attacker this time.  I think we had another attack today by Frannie, who probably realized after yesterday's experience how much she likes acting like a velociraptor.  I'm a little stressed out by this all, but we just have to keep up with supervised visits.  We're doing some internet research to get more ideas on how to orchestrate this all.  Oh, and the babies are fine, just a little shook up.  Pearl lost a wing feather yesterday, but no injuries to report as of yet.  I hope it stays that way. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...