Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Today's Pickin's 9/28/10

This past weekend we "harvested" our pears - all 4 of them. I used one tonight in a pear-ginger-white wine reduction that I served over pork chops. Yum!

We also somehow managed to get 5 eggs today, though I don't think that any of them are from our banty pullets. Every once in a while one of our girls will lay one in the evening just after they're tucked in for the night, then another late the next day.

We're very much looking forward to the "little girls" first eggs. Since the boys from the same hatch date are crowing and sexually harassing all of the hens now, I figure that their sisters' coming of age cannot be far off either. Hopefully we'll soon be getting 8 or 9 eggs per day. :)

Today's Totals (including this weekend's pears)-
5 eggs
4 pears (5 oz each)
4 apples (12 oz total)


Ah, yes, our boys have become men, literally overnight. OUR FIRST ROOSTER CROWED THIS MORNING!

The girls can't agree on whether or not it is Scout or Harold (formerly Daisy) doing the crowing, but sure enough, at least one of them is cock-a-doodle-dooing his fool head off. I was just wondering how much longer it was going to take for these boys to get going, and now I have my answer. For the record, they'll be 20 weeks old on Saturday, putting them right on schedule.

Now... where are my eggs, ladies?

Behold the Mighty 'Shroom!

I've been hunting around in our "woods" in search of some edible mushrooms. I found a few boletes that google helped me sort out were edible, but not palatable, resulting in my bitter disappointment, and the undesirable fungi hitting the compost bin. Alas, the very next day I spotted this mushroom (or is it a toadstool?) from a distance of about 30 feet away. Check out "Mega Shroom" -

Nuts, right? It weighed in at over three pounds! The oddest thing of all though, might be that I am sure that this mushroom wasn't there the day before when I'd picked my first few specimens for researching. I knew that mushrooms could grow quickly, but who's ever heard of a 3-pound mushroom springing up overnight?

This, too, was a boletus of the edible, yet non-tasty variety, (not to mention that it had been hit pretty hard by slugs before I found it), so it too was composted. However, now that I know that I have the right conditions under which to grow mushrooms, I now just need to figure out how to get my preferred type of 'shroom growing. I've picked up a few chanterelles from the grocery store and am going to go shake them around under the spruce tree where I found the others growing, in the hope that I can get them to drop a few spores and grow like weeds. Yummy, free, 3-pound weeds. ;)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Silence of the Roos

I know that I'll probably regret asking this question someday, but... when are my roosters supposed to start crowing? And at what age do they become err... potent?

They are 19 weeks old now and have all of their big boy plumage AND have been seen trying to get frisky with the big hens on a few occasions. Can a banty rooster even mate successfully with a standard sized hen?

I have so much to learn. Help!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Today's Pickin's 9/14/10

We got the usual 4 eggs, plus our first pear AND Liv & I found a blueberry bush that we didn't know existed. It's on the fence between the chicken yard and the bog. It's sort of a miracle that the chickens didn't find a way to pick it clean before we got to it, but I did notice that they've made a little dust bathing hollow right under the bush.

Today's Totals-
4 eggs
1 pear (6 oz)
3 oz blueberries

Slowly but surely, this land will feed us, someday. ;)

Trees... and not much else

I have been gloriously, self-indulgently lazy since the girls went back to school last week. I haven't harvested, picked or canned a single thing since the great apple-a-thon a week and a half ago, and I suppose that it's time to get back on the horse, as it were.

The one thing that I did get done was to get our new plants in the ground. Rather, I told Bill where to plant them and he did. ;) We put in an Arbequina (Spanish) Olive, a "Ukraine" highbush cranberry, a Himrod Grape and a horseradish root. Knowing that food will soon become harder for the deer to come by, and that they will then naturally look to my tasty plants for nourishment, I safeguarded them as best as I could. Don't laugh -

My bitty olive tree

Until we get a deer fence in place, lets just hope that the deer will find the tomato cages and saran wrap are more trouble than eating my tree (all 5 bites of it) is worth.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Nature of a Todo List

I thought the "selling the house while buying a new one" todo list was daunting.  Now we're in the new house and lo, the todo list is bigger than ever.  The good news is though that everything we do now is for us and not someone else.  I have managed to knock a few things off....

  1. Put the new desk together in the office
  2. Tarped over the stack of firewood
  3. Moved the workbench into the red shed
  4. Put the pergola next to the red shed (for now)
  5. Researched deer prevention measures
  6. Dug the back of the chicken coop into the hill so it sits more or less level now
  7. Cleaned out the firewood pile next to the basement door and moved the critter feed over there
  8. Put up some chicken wire against the fence to keep the bantys out of our front yard
  9. Much much more.....
Still though there is much "todo"...
  1. Buy the posts and plant them for the deer fence around the garden
  2. Research and start building the support structures for our grape vines
  3. Wash and seal the back deck
  4. Patch the hot tub
  5. Figure out the water feed line to the shower in the hot tub room
  6. Put a new light in over the kitchen table
  7. Clean out the basement and get rid of the pool table etc...
  8. Put the shelf up in the office and fully unpack
  9. Cut a bunch of kindling for the wood stove and clean out the wood stove
  10. Put a fan in the bathroom
  11. New handrail on for the stairs
Its worth it all.  I really want to focus on the house and getting the garden ready to go for next year.  We have grand plans for this garden, perhaps making a buck or two.  We'll have to save up to bring in some good dirt/compost but that'll pay off too.  In the interim I'm happy with the small things.  Like peaceful moments watching the chickens wander across their yard...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Apples and Eggs

I've been neglectful of my record keeping. Bad Chelle! Anyway, to catch up-

From 9/3 - 9/7
20 eggs (All of the big girls are up and running again!)
50 lbs apples
3.5 pounds blackberries

Apples & Cider - A Family Affair

First, we picked our apples - 50 pounds worth!

The girls were in charge of the sorting, washing and drying.

Bill and I pared and cored the lot. God bless the inventor of the Yankee Apple Peeler!

Chillaxin' while the steam juicer works its magic

Finally, Bill adding the sugar and pitching the yeast to get this cider brewing.

It's hard to believe that it took 50 pounds of apples (cored, but not peeled) and a day's worth of labor to make roughly 2 1/2 gallons of juice. We all enjoyed some of the fresh cider before handing the remainder off to our brew master, Bill, for "hardening". ;)

He added some sugar and half a packet of yeast, and into the man cave/basement it went to ferment a while. Our fingers are crossed that this will be fermented, bottled and carbonated by the holidays. See you in three months!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and Cherries that Weren't

Today was just one of those up-and-down type of days. For every highlight, an annoying downside that nearly negated the good stuff. Am I the only one who seems to have these sort of days a lot?

For example, my shipment of plants from One Green World came today - yay! Woo! Unfortunately, only half of what I ordered was in stock. Thumbs down.

The whole reason that I placed this order was to get some pie cherry trees in the ground ASAP, so that I might, might be able to score enough cherries this coming summer to make my beloved Summer Solstice jam. The rest of the trees and plants in my order were impulse buys of a kind. Oddities and experimental goodies that I just couldn't resist, thrown in just to try. Guess which trees they didn't have in stock, and won't have until January? The peach tree and Heavenly Blue grape were unavailable too. Well, poo.

On the ol' chicken front - Strawberry laid an egg this morning - FINALLY. On the downside there, the other two Americaunas have now taken their second day off in a row. Fussy little stinkers. What's a girl got to do to get some consistent egg action around here?

Today's pickin's-
5 pounds assorted apples
1 pound +/- blackberries
2 eggs (Strawberry is back, baby!)