Thursday, June 23, 2011

Harvesting & a Little Craziness

Well, there wasn't any severe storms after all. Which was great. It has been very cloudy & rainy for the past two days, though. I have still been able to get out in the garden to weed garlic, blueberry bushes & strawberries. They all have straw around them, so it is safe to step around them. Today not only was strawberry picking day (again), it was garlic scape harvesting day. I thought I had a lot last year...
This is this year's haul. Seven and a quarter pounds!  So today I've made roasted garlic scapes, which are so good & easy, garlic pesto...
and tonight I blanched and am in the process of freezing scape pieces for later use. I decided to freeze them on a cookie sheet first, then put in a bag. Then I can take them out as I need them. They are great in stir fry, omelette's, pesto, on the grill and pickled. Any place you would use garlic, use scapes. The flavor is milder, but definitely garlicy.
Cut up & blanched scapes, frozen in baggie & ready to go in the freezer.

Scapes will be given away, too. I am bringing some to The Driftless Cafe tomorrow. I hope they can use a bunch. Of course, I was still freezing & giving away strawberries today too. :-)

For a couple days, I've been "playing" with the chickens :-). So now, they will sit on my shoulder nervously for a few minutes. I really want them to be totally comfortable around humans. When I put Bubbles on my shoulder & was bending down to let him hop on the perch, Wilma (or Betty, not sure) jumped on top of my head. So here I was, sitting on the edge of their cage with birds on my shoulder & head.  I wish I would have had my camera in there. Yes, I am a crazy chicken lady :-). I decided to get a picture with Phoebe so we walked to the bathroom & took this. Yes, my hair is a mess. Yours would be too if you had just had a bird on your head. :-).
I also separated Henry ( the white rooster) from the rest. Bubbles is starting to pick on him, so it's time. Henry seemed upset until I put Hanah in with him. Now they are fine.
The new home is a dog cage, up high enough so they can see each other.
We will be on vacation for a while...have a million things to do before then...have a great week!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Another Storm on it's Way?

We had a very noisy night Saturday through Sunday morning. I think a huge cloud parked over us & stayed for hours. We ended up getting about five inches of rain and constant lightening, some being very, very close. And with the heavy rain running down the hill behind us, our driveway sustained some damage again. Very heavy rutting throughout. It is a good thing we don't have the Mini Cooper any more. We could lose it in a rut. :-(. At least we didn't get the winds or hail. That will come tomorrow they say. They being the weather men, who, I think, like to scare the bejeesus out of everyone. But after last years storm, I will cooperate and be scared. There is a big red box around our weather forecast for tomorrow evening on The Weather Channel. So I won't be sleeping tomorrow night or if I do it will be in the basement on a cot with my new weather radio that Steve bought me last week. It went off early Sunday morning due to a flood warning. Kinda scary sounding, but it works. There is a tone first & then the NOAA computer voice tells you what the warning is. Tonight it will be on the nightstand next to me since we might get severe weather in the early a.m.
In other news...Steve worked on the coop Saturday...
The walls & roof are up.
Now we need to add insulation & siding, & tin to the roof. There will be two windows in front and the bottom opening is their door to get out. The opening on the side (there is a matching one on the other side) is a clean out door. We can open one side & push all the litter into a wheelbarrow, then transport to the compost bin. In the back will be the nesting boxes. Last week we built the screen walls that will go in the front of the coop for their safe outside area. I really like the feeling of the coop. We can see it out the windows and it doesn't block any views. Can't wait to see the peepers out there :-).
Speaking of the chickens...I placed an ad for the two other roosters today. :-(  I wish we could keep them but they will get very aggressive toward the hens with three of them competing for some female companionship. So Henry (formerly Henrietta) and Cassidy (formerly Cassie) will hopefully have a new home soon. It is really cute though when Henry imitates Bubbles whenever he crows. I will be sad to see them go.
The garden survived the rain and is producing an enormous amount of strawberries. Last night I made strawberry jam.
See that bowl? Every day I pick two or more bowlfuls that size. I have been freezing most of them and will be making more jam soon. We love smoothies and have one almost every day, so we should have plenty to last us the winter. Next, the blueberries will be ripening. I have been weeding around them every day a little so I can cover them with netting. I really don't want to share too many with the birds.
Being healthy eating vegetarians (and trying to get back to eating more raw food) means we consume a great deal of veggies & fruits. We also like nuts for protein & are hoping the hazelnut trees will start producing soon. With a hundred of those planted, we will have plenty :-). Nanking cherries, Josta berries, raspberries, blackberries, elderberries, gooseberries, aronia berries, etc. etc. etc. we are finally producing from what we planted. That is exciting! Soon we will have our own eggs too:-). I love the thought of having a full pantry & freezer. It is so nice to make meals from what you have on hand.

That's all for now. Have to get to bed so I can get some sleep before the storms.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Is That a Tiny Crow I Hear?

Well, Bubbles has been crowing for a couple weeks now & is getting a deeper adult voice. What did I hear today after the throaty crow? Yes, a baby crow. Oh no. I think I have another rooster. Henrietta may be Henry after all. Out of all the chicks, she has the most prominent comb. Sometimes they say you can't  tell by that. But now the little crowing noise....
Henrietta now Henry?

Cassie (the youngest) a rooster too?
I am hoping that I am wrong. Most roosters don't get along with each other. In that case, I will have to find a new home (one that won't eat them) for the roosters. I hope someone will want to adopt the rare white & black Javas.
This weekend, instead of working on putting the coop together, we decided to expand their indoor living accommodations so they will have enough room while we are on vacation in a couple weeks. That way our pet sitter doesn't have to worry (and neither do we) about the chickens being outside.
This is how it looks now...
There is a door to get in on the side where Shep is. A couple higher perches make for happy chickens.
We also worked on the outside walls of the chicken run (screened in porch :-). That took most of the day Saturday into Sunday morning. Good thing we are providing the screened area. Tonight while looking to the west, I spotted an owl sitting in the bird tree. (a dead tree that the birds love to perch on). That and all the other predators around (eagles, hawks, coyotes, racoons, etc.) make me a bit nervous about letting them free range. I will of course, but not until they are older.
Here's Steve installing brackets on the corners after putting together the frame. After that we stapled hardware cloth on the bottom portion & chicken wire on the top.
 We're getting there. Who knew (except Judy ;-) that it would be so much work to build a coop.

We left early for home for a graduation party for our niece Lindsay. She graduated from high school & is heading for college to study veterinary medicine. Congratulations Lindsay!

Yesterday I weeded the garden, worked on weeding the blueberries which are overgrown with weeds & put up one last trellis for the peas I planted. I think I'm done planting now. The potatoes are growing great & I found my first potato bug last week. Yuck! It was a huge one, too.

Today it rained most of the day so I worked on some inside stuff. Froze the first batch of strawberries, cleaned the brooder, etc. There was a beautiful sunset thanks to the storm clouds breaking up...
This is the "bird tree" that the owl was in later on.
Have a great night...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Recipe for a Hot Summer Day

Making life a little easier. Sounds good doesn't it. Seems like there is always a million things to do & not enough time to do them. I was just finishing up making almond milk after working outside most of the day and started thinking of the coffee smoothie I made yesterday when it was so darn hot. By the way, it has been 58 degrees all day today. A forty degree drop....yes. Feels so good. Anyway, I thought came to me on how to make the smoothie a little easier to make. I will still be making the almond milk the regular way (click here for the recipe) but I will now add chocolate syrup and freeze it in ice cube trays. You see I usually crave this coffee smoothie on the hottest days of summer. The colder the smoothie, the better. Here is what's in it...

Coffee Smoothie
Your favorite coffee. Amount is up to you. (My favorite right now is Organic Kickapoo Coffee Mocha Java)
 Throw in the chocolate almond milk ice cubes. Or just add chocolate syrup & unfrozen almond milk.
Add some plain ice cubes
Add a banana or two (or any fruit you like...frozen makes it even better)
Blend away.
There are many substitutes for the coffee. Try coconut milk for a really creamy treat.
Experiment until you get the thickness and slushyness you want.

This morning, guess who woke me up? Bubbles the rooster, crowing at 6am. So funny! He is in the workshop room next to our living area. He has been crowing (in his juvenile voice) for a week or so but always at night around 8. Today I heard him at 6am, 8am & when I came back inside at 5:30. Guess I won't have to think about setting an alarm with him around :-)
Handsome, isn't he?

I picked the first strawberries of the season today.
Don't they look tasty in that purple bamboo bowl?
I also noticed when mowing in the orchard that there are Pixwell Gooseberries on the bushes. This is the first time I've grown them & can't wait to taste them. We planted them last spring. Nice to have instant fruit (unlike the apples, cherries & pears we have :-)
Love the color & the stripes

I think it is early to bed tonight. It is supposed to rain tonight & tomorrow. In that case it will be a much needed inside cleaning day. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Make Hay While the Sun Shines

That's part of the garlic growing in the foreground.
The temps were still in the 90's today.  I was outside working for all but about an hour of it. So many things to do. The garden being the main focus. I am almost done planting. Just a couple climbing beans left.  I would have finished but storm clouds started to move in tonight & I decided that putting up bamboo tee pees for the beans & peas on a metal ladder, wasn't such a good idea.

This is Johnny & Raman (?). I'm sorry, with 12 kids it's hard to remember all the names :-). They were filling the water cart before walking up the driveway for supper. I talked to Eli this morning about making sure the horses have enough water while they are in our pasture. He kind of talked over me & disagreed about the amount of water horses need.  I told him to make sure they always have water available. Not sure if he will do it, but if not, they won't be in our pasture any longer. We don't understand why they do this. Their horses are a part of their livelihood. Besides it is inhumane.
Last night while planting squash, I found huge foot prints in the garden. I actually called the neighbors to see if they could come over & see what they thought.
It's hard to tell from the picture, but that is a ruler & the print was 3 inches deep.
 Do you know how many hits come up about Bigfoot when you look up "huge animal print" :-)?
Well, Jim said it was a draft horse print. They put both hooves in the same print. So that brought up the fact that Eli hasn't finished the fence or gate yet. That has been going on for over a month. Well, actually it has been going on for four years as far as the animals (sheep, cows, horses & chickens) being where they aren't supposed to be (all over the property & mainly in the garden). We share our driveway with them. We bought from his brother & her sister & decided not to make them get their own driveway. So the only way to keep the animals on their property, is to put a gate up on the property line across the driveway. Eli says he needs one taller post for the gate & I offered to buy it today. He said someone he knows has one & he'll get it. Ugh! We'll see how fast he gets it.
(re-reading this ...I sound like a bi***. I'm really not. Really! Just been going on for so long with their promises of not letting the animals on our property, that it is frustrating.)
Okay. Rant done.
 I leave you with pics of bringing in the hay...

Raking the hay.
Picking it up to bring to the barn.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Can It Get Any Hotter?

Well, I guess it can. Today's high 93...tomorrow 95. This isn't the desert type of hot. This is the Midwestern humid type of hot. What's a little hot weather, though. Did it stop a gardener from getting her work done? No, even though I would have liked to be out of the sun. I feel a NEED to get the garden in. I feel as if it is late already. Most every thing is in except....climbing beans & peas (three kinds of each), all the squash (winter & summer) the cucumbers & the pumpkins & melons. I hope to get up early tomorrow & get most of it done in the cooler temps (if you call 73 degrees at 5am cool :-).
Besides gardening today, I had a unexpected visitor. Here he is.....
This is Bandit, the neighbor's new puppy. No, not the Amish. This is the people that live behind us.
They had to go to a funeral today,so I got to puppy sit. He was a good puppy all day. He slept in his cage when I wasn't playing with him. Mia (the cat) wasn't sure what to make of him. He is only 6 weeks old but he is already huge. He's a  St. Bernard.
The Amish neighbors started to cut the hay today. I do like to see the horses being used so much more that regular tractors. We have a conventional farm across the road from us & I swear they have plowed, limed, raked and sprayed the same field over & over again in the past two weeks. Of course today, the wind was coming from that direction, so I went inside and closed the windows until they were done spraying :-(
Coyotes have been around lately & I hear them again tonight. One was pretty close last night. The chicken coop is being built like Fort Knox & I hope it keeps them safe. Shep barks when he hears them. If we could just get him to stay nearby...
Hope you have a great day...stay cool where ever you are.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

More Projects Complete & a Surprise

Last week was a busy one at the farm. I didn't get much gardening done, but that is because there were people here working for two of the days. I wrote about the roof ridge cap being done but I didn't write about the other thing that was done that day. And that was because it was a surprise for Steve. If you have been reading the blog for a while, you know that Steve & I have put in all the windows so far (and there are a lot of them). Well, there were three windows left to do on the upper west end of the barn. After balancing on scaffolding too high in the air too many times, I didn't want Steve up there again. So I arranged for the company that did the ridge cap to also do the windows. I kept this a secret for at least a month or more. So Friday afternoon when Steve got here, I told him I wanted him to see something. So we walked to the side yard & I told him to turn around. He was so surprised & happy! It was so worth it! I didn't even know how much he was dreading doing those windows until then.
This is the "easy " way to do it.
All the windows are done now. Someday there will be a deck out that door too.
On Thursday, we had and inch of soy insulation blown on the under side of the roof & knee walls. That was an all day project. What a difference it makes though. It is a light green color so it really brightens up the place. We will eventually be finishing off the rest of the insulation ourselves, but at least this seals everything up tight. Between the insulation & the ridge cap, we shouldn't have any more rain coming in or bats (like our one last year).
Wouldn't want this job.
 We worked on the coop all weekend and are getting a little closer. Right now, the base is set up and leveled & the walls are built. Next weekend, windows, doors, ladder & hardware cloth work. They should be in there soon.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

One More Project Done!

We have such a long list of projects at the farm. One of them is to get a guest area done sometime on the third floor. Right now, guests can stay in the room we used to stay in. We call that the "cabin room.". Someday it will probably be part of the shop area though, so we are making half of the third floor a livable area. Future plans are to put in a full bath (already roughed in for that), and have an open space which we can put dividers (screens) to separate bed areas. I will also use that space for my crafting projects and of course we can watch the beautiful sunsets up there too. So today, we had the ridge cap on the roof repaired. It wasn't as bad as we thought, but it was leaking into the attic when we had a blowing rain. Turns out that there wasn't foam under the ridge cap all the way across like there was supposed to be & that is why it leaked. So we didn't need a brand new cap after all, just a repair of the existing one.
What a great way to handle roofing projects.
At least it was in the 70's not the 90's today. This is the kind of project that you actually want to pay someone to do :-).
While we had that great piece of machinery around, I asked if they could get the big branch down that broke off the top of one of trees last August when the tornado came through. It has been hanging there right outside the picture window bugging me all this time :-). Well, now it's down.
Before and out of our reach to get it down.
On the way up to pull it loose.
Tomorrow, the work continues. We are having one inch of insulation blown onto the underside of the roof and knee walls. This will seal all the nooks & crannies (no more bat flying in) and give us a good base for finishing the insulation at a later time.
I really need to get some planting done. The potatoes, tomatoes, peppers & sunflowers are in but that's it. I thought I would get something done this morning , but I needed to rearrange everything stored up on the third floor before the insulation tomorrow morning. All of the boxes, etc. had to be moved to the center of the room. I had every intention of planting corn tonight but ended up weeding the garlic instead. Then, since the sun was setting and I was running out of daylight,  I went to buy eggs from Lizzie & talked to her & Eli for a while. The baby is doing great. Gaining weight & shows no effects from the pneumonia.
Tomorrow there is a chance storms all day so I'm not sure what I'll get done in the garden. It is lightening off to the southwest right now but not supposed to rain tonight :-(.
Chicken there was some squawking going on in the workshop. Wilma had flown the coop & was walking around on the floor. They are all taking turns perching on the edge of the brooder now. She is the first (that I've seen) on the floor. They are so goofy. I have been feeding them oatmeal every day in a pie tin and they go crazy! They hear my voice & they all come running over to see what I have in my hand for them. Okay, I will probably be called the "crazy chicken lady" and will try not to talk about them too much :-).
Hopefully, next time I blog, I 'll have more done in the garden...
Phoebe, & Cassie (on the edge of the brooder)