Monday, July 21, 2014

Harvest Monday 7.21.14

Welcome back to Harvest Monday! Many thanks to Daphne over at: Daphne's Dandelions for hosting once again. I don't know what I"d do without it, I just love being able to go see what people are harvesting all over the world. It gives me a weekly jolt of inspiration.

This weeks harvest continues the avocado fest. It will only last an other week or so because my tree didn't produce a ton this year. Instead it grew a good 15 feet. Have to trade growth for fruit production. Now that the tree is getting rather sizable next year it will be kept trimmed to promote branching and fruiting rather than growth.

These lovelies are amazingly delicious. I like a good grocery store avocado, but these are even better. Completely pesticide free, and hey! The stupid squirrels don't eat them until they start to ripen. BONUS! This means I can pull them off the tree and let them ripen indoors.

Another bonus is that the tree is rather weepy. Weeping? What is appropriate here? The boughs hang low and are difficult for animals to climb. LOVE THAT! It also supplies a nice amount of shade for my poor hot duckies. :-)

Also on this weeks harvest is truly a tropical/Floridian type delicacy. I've never seen this fruit in a grocery, but can occasionally (rather quiet rarely!) find them in a farmers market.  GUAVAS!

Here is a close up of this lovely little diddy.

Richard, the kids and I have had a massive debate on what these taste like fresh. (I've only previously had syrup & jelly) We've come up with this:
The flavor profile of a kiwi, strawberry, and banana with the acidic bite of pineapple. The texture of an overripe banana and those seeds BTW, are not edible. I was under the impression they were, but quickly learned otherwise. I thought they would be like blackberry seeds and be something you could work around once it was in your mouth. Nope. Those little suckers are like rocks. HA! Only good news is there are about 6-10 seeds in each one so not too terrible. Only bad news is these fruits are the size of a half dollar piece. Around the amount of a strawberry.

It took some doing but I finally figured out a decent way to get the seeds out. Unfortunately it requires sticky fingers and a spoon. Bright side to that is I get to lick my then sticky fingers. Win some, Lose some.

Oh, also found out the hard way that the chickens will do ANYTHING to eat them. I've found Campbells way up in the bush stealing them as soon as they blush. When I manage to get them before they do I have 2 hens that hop/fly up and me and my hands trying to get me to drop one or otherwise throw them and run.

So many lessons to learn this week.  While planting the guavas in the chicken run has worked out really well, not getting many of the fruit stinks! Good thing I've got a few more plants on the side of the fence as well. This years crop will most likely only be for fresh eating but, if I can squeeze it in I'll make some syrup as well.

That's it for me. I harvested a half dozen tomatoes which were cracked and gross looking. Only was able to use the bottom half of them so no pictures there. I also harvested 3 large carrots, but they went to the chickens. Too bitter in this 99* heat.

See you soon!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Noisemakers.

Well. Today will be a week since I brought the noisy critters home. They really are good looking. The gold duck (older) is starting to molt into her adult feathers. She is the loud mouth. The smaller one does quack and is much louder than the drakes are, but she is less prone to really get the decibels up there.

So, I thought since I managed to make it a week without issues I should at least show you what they look like. Meet Cinnamon and Applesauce.

Applesauce is already nearly the same size as Cinnamon. But, cinnamon is only about 2/3 the size of the boys, if not half. I'm hoping that Applesauce ends up being closer to their size. It already worries me that having 3 boys - 2 girls is going to be a problem. I can't imagine how much worse it would be if the girls are so small and can't defend themselves from their amorous advances.

From aligning the pictures of the boys, Applesauce looks to be 6-8 weeks old now. Since the gold one is starting to molt I can tell that she is the same age as the drakes at around 11-15 weeks.

While I can't wait to see what she will look like with her adult feathers, I am desperate to get her out of my yard. Shoot, I've even thought up ways to bargain with someone to take a pair of birds in exchange for watching them until we are ready to leave. Of course I'd supply food for my flock, a little pond... and then reality kicks in. No one in their right mind would take 7 ducks to babysit for 6 weeks. Who am I kidding?

Raising the initial set of ducklings was fun, and I really enjoyed having them, but even 4 is too much to have on this little speck of land. Well, I should quantify that remark. We just don't have enough yard for them to free-range effectively without running into problems with stress on our yard/gardens. Having all of them penned up all day/night can lead to smell issues at least in the summer. Our rains keep the pens constantly moist.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that while I enjoy them, I'm glad the time is coming for them to leave. I still think that having a pair here is feasible and will be enjoyable, as long as the girl is a quiet one.

Since realizing that the (girl) ducks are much louder than I anticipated I have decided to try my hand at imprinting a bird, raising it and praying that since it is well socialized and used to everything around here it will be less likely to be so loud. So, meet Baby:

Baby is about 10 days old now. She's imprinted on us, and my girls spend a vast amount of time with her each day.

To make sure that she is also used to being alone and won't raise a ruckus because we are not right there with her 24 hours a day she also has a teddy that will be hers eternally. We make sure to leave her alone at least 2-4 hours each day around lunch time for her "nap time" as well as all night long. At first she would peep peep peep until someone came back for her. Now she might peep a time or two but settles right down.

I was afraid that imprinting might have the opposite effect and she wouldn't tolerate the separation, but she's learning the routine well now and it seems this may work.

I'm possibly delusional. LOL

Nah, probably delusional. :-) Hey, can't blame a girl for trying.

It's not my fault I'm a country girl living in the city. I belong on a farm. I just can't afford to move out in the country yet. But don't you worry, I have lofty goals. Goals of hard work and great rewards. Unfortunately my goals have a 10 year plan. Gotta get my kids off to college first after all. But, meanwhile I'm taking as many baby steps toward getting what I want as I can.

If this works out it will be a good step for us. If not then at least I know what type of duck(S) I want. I also know how much work it will be to have more than a breeding trio. Guess what else I know? I know not to put the duck pen up near the house. That's a good lesson I learned from this. Girl ducks think they should crow like roosters.  

I'll keep you updated on my "quiet girl" progress.

See you soon!


Monday, July 14, 2014

Harvest Monday 7.14.14

It's Harvest time, again! Yippee!!!

I had a couple of weeks there I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever get back here to report a harvest again. But, here I am! Linking in from Daphne's Dandelions, don't forget to drop by and see what others are harvesting all over the world.

This week brought me - green garlic. It appears that yet again my garlic will not be making bulbs. So, I took a few of these for cooking. YUM... so fragrant and delicious. If I didn't like actually having storage garlic for use later in the year it wouldn't bother me to use this all the time!

This single garlic stem covered my 4' table from one end to the other. HUGE. The usable white part was over 20" long. So growth isn't the problem necessarily. It's hard to grow certain things in Florida, and for me - this is one of those things. Some gardeners still manage to grow it fairly well, but the bulb size is never overly large.

The other thing I've been harvesting is my avocados!
Oh, this makes me happy. I was afraid that like the peaches once the squirrels and rats figured out the fruit was there that it would be gone. However, apparently when they are not ripe they don't entice the little critters. That's good because we have a thing for all things avocado around here. These beauties make me a little less hostile towards the squirrels. Only  a little though. THey are still stealing my tomatoes, beans and anything else they can get their paws on.

Today's avocado will be put into a salad with cranberries and a poppyseed dressing.. Oh my - I can't wait!

Not harvesting these yet, but the promise is there. So far the pomegranates have never had issues with either bugs nor critters. Something tells me that the critters don't like all the thornlike stickers on the bush. This works for me, because they are another one of this families favorite things. From popping the arils like little candy treasures to juicing. Poms are well received here.

Currently there are 7 poms on that have swollen enough I am no longer concerned about them dropping. There are another 6 that look like they have set but the branch hasn't thickened at the base of the fruit so I'm still holding my breath for another week - 10 days on those.

This tree blossomed earlier in the year and only set 1 fruit at that time. It is blooming still even with these beauties on and growing.  It's a good news/bad news scenario really. It means that the single crop I could have had (that is normally a large crop) is not going to happen. But, it also means that these fruits that are setting weeks and even months apart will provide me with a drawn out harvest. In the long run I'd rather have the fruit on an as needed basis to prevent waste, even though I probably will not get enough to juice, reduce and freeze yet again this year.

I have another bush that sits right next to this one and it tried to bloom earlier in the year. Non of those set any fruit and I can only hope that it will try to bloom again this summer so that I still might get even more fruit. That bush is older than this one and has yet to give me any fruit. I think by next summer if it doesn't set I may need to replace it!

That's it for my harvests this week. Nothing spectacular, but it's nice to have something from the garden anyway. Hope you are harvesting well!

See you soon!


Friday, July 11, 2014

Speaking out of turn

It's true. I have a habit of talking about things before they happen. Last week I was so excited to share the new girls with you and then the weather didn't allow us to go and pick them up. Yesterday again I was happy to tell you that we would be integrating the new ducks soon.

Unfortunately reality has a way of changing things. See, I knew that ducks were louder than drakes. I just didn't realize HOW MUCH louder they were and how often. The Quack that endears those little fluff balls to our hearts? It's ear piercing. It actually hurts my ears. Truly. And if that is the case, how do you think this is going to go over with my HOA? Yeah, not so well. I brought home 3 girls last night. 2 of them are older and have already established their super power quacks. The other is just a duckling. But, seriously? There is just no way that my neighbors will put up with this. :-(
Now, here is the thing. To really get the full effect you need to put on headphones and turn your computer up to full volume. Only once you are quite certain that your ears are bleeding will you truly appreciate the insanity.

I'm so terribly disappointing. Not that I can't  keep them long term. That was never the plan...but I don't think I can even get away with holding them until our next trip to Alabama. It's so frustrating to have spent that money, time and effort in raising the drakes only to find out that all the work was for nothing.

Last night I confined them to the isolation house. It helped keep them calmer. But, they can't live in there for 7 weeks. That's just not fair to them. I'm going to try to let them back into the bachelor pad tonight after 9 or 10 pm when fewer people will be out and about to hear their racket. But, if they can't calm down and quit the screeching I won't be able to leave them there.

So for now at least it looks like project populate the lake is a complete failure. I'm sure it won't be my  last, and I will be revisiting this issue again once we can move either up to the property (10 or so) or we are able to sell our current house and can get somewhere that the neighborhood wouldn't fine me $100 a day for having them. What really sucks is that I thought I was being realistic in planning on keeping only 1 hen. HA! I'm thinking that maybe I need a reality check.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Duck tails

I am hoping to chronologically picture all of the drakes progress soon, but right now I had to share the newest thing. The oldest drake (13 weeks) sprouted his 'drake feather' last week. It's so stinking cute. He actually has two and they are on opposite sides of his butt. So, it looks more like horns than anything. He has also stopped trying to quack. (Oh, thank goodness) and sounds raspy like a normal drake should.

The funny thing is that even though the ducks are easily twice the size of my two little hens, the hens really rule the roost around here. 

The ducks even let the hens have first go at their treats. Once the girls get their noses wet a time or two they quickly lose interest in the ducks seeds I give them.

Here he celebrates the small victory.
 Actually managed to lift himself up a good inch or two as well. Silly bird. 

While I've enjoyed having them here and watching them grow I simply can not wait to bring them to their new home. Having this many ducks in such a small area is difficult to keep clean. They are dirty birds. After I finally gave up leaving them free access to the little tot pool here and realized they only need the bucket of water to rinse their nares? So much easier. I dump the pool every 2-3 days now because they are only swimming in it for about 2 hours a night. It also keeps the area they stay in drier over all. That makes it easier to clean.  

They say that ducks poop more than any other fowl - but I'm wondering if that is not the case in particular but more of the fact that they do not scratch and thereby eliminate the evidence of their poop. I'm going to get help with that little problem as well. The drake that will be staying with us will have to be housed in the hen pen in the future. This weekend will be the first I will be trying out the drakes in there. I fell a little bad putting them in with the bullies (hens) but it is necessary. I'm bringing home the babies tonight and I need the 'nursery' space the drakes have been using for them. They will all forage in the yard together in the evenings to make the transition for the ducklings into the flock easier.

That's it for now. If all goes well I'll be back soon with pics of my new babies. Exciting, and daunting at the same time. I really can't keep them all here much longer.

Be back soon!