Monday, September 30, 2013

Harvest Monday 9.30.13

It's still September, and no- I haven't dropped off the face of the Earth. It just seems like it. Linking into Daphne's Dandelions. (Sorry I missed y'all for so long!)

My harvest? Well they have been many but my brain refused to remind me to take many pictures. The last few weeks I've harvested green beans, (YIPPEE! They're back!) black eyed peas, lady peas (ha, that sounds dirty, doesn't it?) loads of sweet potatoes, a few leeks, some strawberries, (WAHOO!) lemons, limes and... I know there is something I'm forgetting here. Eggs. Yes, eggs. How could I ever forget them?

  The citrus is from the tree that I am treating for "greening disease" Following the protocol of antibiotics and an overabundance of fertilizer this tree did not produce edible fruit last year, but this years fruit is once again edible! I'm shocked but also aware that I am only prolonging the inevitable. I'll lose the tree eventually and if the replant any of the dead groves around me I'll take my tree out so as to not reinfect their new stock. Meanwhile though, I'm enjoying fruit again this year!

The leeks are a few representatives of what I pulled out of the garden over the last couple of weeks. These were destined for stir fry and some soup. I wasn't feeling well this past weekend and soup was just the thing for this Mamma.

Poor Dusty. I miss my little (OK, LARGE) girl. She had gotten down to a single tail feather and one side of her neck feathers were completely replaced already. She was looking rough, but really coming along nicely in her molting process. I think that within just another 10-15 days she would have been completely feathered in except the tail and ready to rejoin the flock again. It was nice to see her turning back to white. It was so strange that her down was grey. I don't know why I didn't think it would be. I have checked her thoroughly for mites time and again but never noticed that. Go figure. See that her feet had completely feathered back out again?

I now know why she passed away. She was murdered. It was an act of carelessness really. I did it, and I feel completely terrible. I didn't realize that her food dish in her isolation pen was holding water. It had rained every day that week, and her food had gotten moldy. I'm a bad chicken Mom. :-( Moldy food can kill a chicken quickly. She didn't act sickly at all. I spent a good hour outside with her as she preened and hunted up some grub the night before and she was acting completely normal so I know she went quickly and didn't suffer, but it still hurts to know I was responsible.

Large eggs this week, and limes, too. The next round of seedlings are almost ready to go into the garden. If the rain will hold off for just a couple days it would be nice. The seedlings tend to do better with a watering rather than our crazy rains when they are first transplanted.
I pulled up a little more than half the sweet potato bed. Remember that this is the half I just harvested last month. I have continually harvested from this bed all year long as I needed them and yet I still had a decent yield. This bed is almost 4' square. After providing spuds all year long it gave me 4 taters that were unusable thanks to the rain (splitting) and 8 pounds of beautiful usable delectable sweet potatoes. These spuds are going to the crock pot to be used this weekend for my Father-In Laws Memorial. Well- for afterward when we all gather together.

Funny how funerals and food go together hand in hand. I guess that it's just a way to comfort ourselves.  We find comfort in each other and in food that we are familiar with. I'm going to put a crushed pecan and brown sugar crust on them. I'm hoping I'm not the only one that finds them soothing and comforting. TO me sweet potatoes always remind me of family coming together for the holidays and this is no exception. It may not be a holiday but we will all be coming together.

The other half of the sweet potato patch will be allowed to continue on until the first frost. The night before I'll go out and yank a few of the vines and keep them in a vase in the kitchen so I will have good starts for the next year. Sometimes I don't even need them!

Well- I think that's it. I'm busy with guests and arrangements and still trying to get the garden ready for those little seedlings. It's going to be a wild couple weeks. Hopefully things will settle down soon.

Be back soon!


Friday, September 27, 2013

It's been a while.

I've been ignoring you. But, It's been on purpose.
September 11th is always a very emotional day. I had plans to come here and post something poignant. Meaningful and heartfelt, but my plans were changed. September 11th now has a new memory for me.
Now instead of thinking of it as the day that America lost the twin towers and we as a country mourned that loss that  changed the lives of so many - now instead it's the day I lost my Father-in Law. I could tell you about the events of that morning and how things went into a tailspin and what all transpired. But, the reality is ... no one wants to truly be faced with their own mortality. Bringing up all that would only make people feel sad.  Instead I'll tell you that he was an amazing man and I've been incredibly lucky to have had him as my Father-in-Law for the last 19 years.  He's always treated me with love and respect my children have had the best Poppi ever!
 It's taken me a few weeks to come back here to this space because I didn't want to bring the negativity back with me that I knew would be inevitable if I came back sooner. To make matters worse my backyard rainbow is now a little dimmer. My flock has been reduced by one. My favorite hen is now gone as well. She passed away this past week. My children have suffered greatly with these two deaths and they (of course) are taking this personally.
So I just wanted to stop in today to jot a note and let you all know I'm alive and well. I just needed to take a mental health break. I'll be back to share on Harvest Monday. My world is still turning, I just got a little turned around in it for a few days.
Be Back Soon

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What remains...

What remains?

What remains of the bees? This remains of the bees.
Soon the Bee Keeper will be(Bee?) Back to vacuum the few stragglers away and take them to the rest of the hive. Speaking of... The hive was much, MUCH larger than anyone realized. Jeff was thrilled to have received such a gift. The hive is very healthy and must have simply been hidden by the vines longer than we realized. Thankfully the vines are easily trimmed and the hive removed. If it had been in the trellis instead... :-( it would not have been as easy and the bees would have been very agitated.

What remains of a molting chicken? Solitary confinement. Not only that, but I don't really have the resources for solitary - so we have improv! I took a beat up old playhouse and made it into something that would do. At least for short term...

Do you normally have to put your hens into solitary confinement? NO! But, see I have mean red that like to pick on her and I came home to a BLOODY hen instead of a bald one. Poor baby. So into the pen she went. Good news is she's so darn concerned about pruning she couldn't care less that she's all alone. It's only been a week and she's already got 4 of her flight feathers back! What a mess she is.
My normally pristine WHITE bird is GREY, and dappled and....balding and....embarrassed!

(now she is running away from the camera)
Below is her normal behavior. Running TOWARD the camera. LOL. What a difference. Look at that sparkling WHITE bird!

 It's hard to believe she is actually grey under all that white and hides it that well! Her face looks gargantuan without any feathers on it, and that tail? Oh, My! She looks like someone has already pre-plucked her for the frying pan. It's a good thing we love her. I can't wait until RED molts. There will be no solitary confinement for her. If she gets picked on, oh well. She deserves it! Mean old biddy! She needs to just be soup, but I can't seem to find the time to do it when the kids aren't around. When the chicks are in the feed stores in spring may just be the time for her to disappear. Then two brand new chicks can take her place. That may just do. LOL.

OH, Did I mention that Dusty is like- Super molter? She's only one week in - half bald (or more) and she LAID AND EGG this week! Yes, only one - but still. Would you? I sure as heck wouldn't! I'd be putting my feet up and telling my people to go lay their own dang eggs!

See you soon!


Monday, September 9, 2013

Harvest Monday 9.9.13

Oh what a Monday it is!
This is definitely the top of my harvest weeks. What I am harvesting today is pure, sheer, genuineness. OK. Maybe not but I sure do wish I had a way to keep what I am harvesting today. BECAUSE today I am harvesting....
Look deep into my foliage....
That's right! Thursday evening or Friday morning a swarm of bees showed up. Today they are still here and they can't be left here. This is at my work and there are far too many people here. People who like bug spray. I'm currently waiting for the Beekeeper to show up. Like I said - I just wish I had a way to keep them for myself. It would be so nice to have these wonderful workers at my house!

I harvested a handful of blackberries while I was working outside this weekend. The other thing I harvested this week was a rogue pomegranate. It was growing on the wrong side of the fence. I didn't even know it existed until I went out front to do some cleaning up in the hibiscus bushes. :-)

I <3 surprises!
I really do, and this weekend I got 2 great ones!
Now, if the corn I sowed would just show up.... WAHHHHH....
See you soon!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tuesday Harvest? 9.3.13

You know when a Holiday falls on a Monday it throws me all kinds of out of whack!
It's like Monday just doesn't exist or something. Don't get me wrong. I'm OK with this fact. It means I've had one less day sitting behind my desk at work. ;-)
This past weeks harvest is kind of important though so I wanted to tell you about it. Not in so much as what I harvested but what I didn't harvest.
My blackberry bushes are forming berries again. The second crop is always much smaller than the first. I'm pretty good with this as it's usually sweeter as well. The larger berries are better for juice/jelly and such but these berries are better for fresh eating.
To wit - this is the only berry I managed to remember to take a picture of. This time of year the stalks are longer and weep closer or even all the way to the ground so it's a fight with the chickens over these if I forget to tie them up before I let the hens out for the afternoon over the weekends.
Not to mention I have to fight with the kids and myself over not just popping them in our mouths and eating them. Actually getting them inside for a picture is a feat in itself. This one got mangled on the way in. Then no one wanted to eat it because it wasn't as pretty. Well - boo hoo to them. It still tasted just as good!
It being September means the sweet potatoes have been in the ground for seven months now and I like to pull them up sometime between September and October. So I rooted around and found a few potatoes. What I found wasn't very encouraging. So I stripped the plants of any formed potatoes. My hope is that if I give the plants another 6 weeks I might have a last round of sweet potatoes to carry me through. What I got out form under the plants? 10 pounds of extremely split sweet potatoes and about 2 and a half pounds of usable ones. I also got a rogue carrot, and a snake skin. LOL. Never know what you'll find in such dense vegetation 'round here!

Split potato in front (vast majority were this way) only usuable ones in back. Snake skin and carrot on table, too. The kids thought it was funny that the little carrot formed. It wasn't bad considering it was a summer carrot. The shade from the heavy foliage must have helped the carrot but it was still rather bitter. Snake looks like a rat snake or garter. Both are very common here.
Last but certainly not least the eggs. This is what my eggs looked like this past week on Friday...

I had been getting 3 every day. Just like usual with a skip by the large bird about once a week, sometimes twice. She's not meant to lay 7 days a week so that's just not a shock there.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday I got 2 eggs a day and this is what the nest looked like:

Oh, my. I guess we know what is going on here. It's just that time of year after all. Thankfully for my birds they are going to be getting naked while it's still quite warm out. I feel bad for the birds up north that get naked when it's so cool at night, and even in the SNOW! BRRRRr..... Yesterday, on Monday? Only one egg. So it looks like egg production is down, feather production is up and my birdies will be looking rather disheveled for a while. I'm hoping it won't take too long. I'm also hoping it will set little Miss red on her rear! She's been pecking on Dusty when she's in the nest box and has managed to pick all of her neck feathers out. It would be good if this helped to change her temperament a little bit. *crossing fingers* If not I'll be buying two chicks in the spring to replace her and while my soup pot will be fat the hen house will get skinny. LOL. Just don't tell the kids. I don't mind them knowing where our food comes from, but these hens are their pets. After all they watch us quarter the hogs and deer. Meat and butchering is not a surprise to them.
Ah, so that was my Labor Day weekend. We enjoyed ourselves, puttered around the garden. Replanted the corn that didn't come up...(Oh, yes that is another post)  This week I'll tear out the squash that just up and died on me. *pout* and the circle of garden life continues on.
See you soon!