I have a hard time keeping up with questions asked in both the comment section of the blog and via e-mail. I thought I would try to answer them here all in one post.
The management cannot be held responsible for the content, accuracy, or grammar of this post!
I'm gonna start with a question from Warren...the bee guy living in the hills. He wanted to know about the weird pupils that my goat has.
Well after some research it seem that the horizontal rectangular pupils are for both night and peripheral vision. There are other animals with them including sheep and horses. I'm gonna go take a closer look at the camel and llamas to see if they have them too. Their's are much harder to see with their very dark eyes.
Here is a picture of Fluffy the goat...
I also learned that some animals have vertical slits...like the fox.
I have many of you ask about my chickens...
I have 13 hens, 4 of which are the little bantams.
It is the Araucona hens that lay the blue and green eggs. They are sometimes called Easter Egg Chickens. They also have a beard!!! Not really very attractive on a bunch of hens if you ask me...not that they care what I think.
Now that I'm pondering that...I don't think any of my animals care what I think...if I delve even deeper I would have to admit that some of my own children don't either...what's with that?
I have a dozen more chicks on order...all araucanas!
Daphne ,although they aren't the prettiest of hens they lay eggs in shades of pink, blue, and green...so thus the big Araucana order...I'm a sucker for color!
On my cucumber patch post I was asked what you could use if you didn't have access to manure like I do.
Well the best would be compost. If you don't have compost you can use shredded leaves, grass clippings, kitchen scraps, and just plain straw. All except the compost would need time to decompose some before you plant.
There is an excellent book called 'Gardening Without Work' by Ruth Stout that describes her use of straw and hay as a mulch for her garden. I highly recommend it
The peas I posted about yesterday are the short variety and I will just put a short border around the whole patch and they will hold themselves up...if they come up that is!!!
My kids are 23, 21,19...5 and...1! You don't hear much about the big boys because they're away at college and just don't need their mama anymore...sob!
I'm a slightly over 40 stay at home mom/farmer/homeschooler/gardener who's been married a very long time to a very patient man!
I garden in zone 8...in rainy Western Washington State
My garden boxes are made of fir...big mistake on my part. Go with cedar is my new mantra!
Jeff, cedar is much more rot resistant than fir. Even though the fir is sealed it is still rotting out at the bottom. I know cedar will also but it will at least last a bit longer than the fir. What I really would like is raised beds made of brick...I love brick and it just looks so classy. That's me, classy!!!
Well I think that about covers it....if you have any more question I will do my best to answer them in my usual concise and timely manner.
Well actually not the whole farm...just the pea patch!
The conventional wisdom around these parts is to put peas in on St. Patty's day, which is in March as we all know. If you don't wait your peas are likely to rot from all of our rain...or so says the traditionalists.
But since I'm a modern, hip and sassy gardener I have decided to go against tradition,
March to the beat of my own drummer...
Be a rebel...
I'm gonna plant peas now...in February!
Here is the pea patch. Just planted...ready to rock!
Now before you I go any farther I must let you in on my secret to success...
well I'm hoping for success...
presuming I will have success...
First I had this bed covered with black plastic to keep it fairly dry...it is moist but not soggy.
After planting I am going to cover with a layer of loose straw and recover with the plastic until the seeds sprout.
And lastly I am only using my newly found seeds from '06...yes the ones I found a few weeks ago in the pantry. I figure they are 'free' anyway so why not do something wild and crazy with them?
Another favorite activity for the kids is helping to feed the animals. Sweet Girl especially loves the llamas. I must say they are the sweetest animals we have here. They aren't bossy like the camel, they don't try to but you with their heads like the goat. They aren't flighty like the chickens and other birds.
Llamas are good natured, gentle animals.
Sweet hubby really likes the llamas too...
Sweet Girl and Oreo the baby checking each other out!
When the animals are fed and the fences mended it is time for...
Sweet Girl is getting ready for her first season of girl's softball...
I will let you in on a secret...
One of the reason hubby and I had a 'second litter' was because my sweet man couldn't see his life yet without youth sports to coach.
He loves kids, loves sports, and especially enjoys helping kids learn to love the game...I must say he is the best youth coach I have ever seen.
Of course I may be biased!
Baseball is best played on a field decorated with sidewalk chalk!
Sweet Girl takes this training seriously...
Now where is baby boy during all of this you are wondering...
Well besides chasing the baseball and helping to feed the animals and mending the fences he is...
Sweet Hubby, the kiddos and I were all out walking the fence line yesterday to repair the damage from the last elk incursion.
When we got up to the giant fir at the top of the pasture sweet girl noticed a large limb that had all its needles missing...thanks to the pesky camel. It hung down so low that with a little help she was able to climb on for a ride!
Before we go any farther with this little tale we must stop to discuss the fashion sense of a 5 year old girl.
Sweet Girl loves bright colors...her favorite being fuchsia pink. She also hates pants and wears tights everyday of her life...usually the tights are accompanied by a skirt or dress.
Yesterday she decided that a dress just wasn't the thing to mend fences in...you think???
She decided on the much more conservative choice of ...shorts...in February!!!
Don your brightest sweater, add some hot pink gloves and you are set for a high class walk through the field!
Gitty up go girl!!!
"I'm Princess of the world"
Baby boy...in his boring boy clothes...is waiting with breathless anticipation to see what the girl will do next...
His patience is rewarded with a spectacular dismount from Sweet Girl!
He gives it a 11... extra point for the shoe!!!
Being the tough farm kid she is, Sweet Girl climbs right back up for another round!
Stay tuned tomorrow for more adventures of Sweet Girl and Baby Boy in
Sometimes when I go out to feed the animals I just go through the steps...get the hay, give it to them...fill the bucket with grain, give it to the camel...check their water...done.
Then there are days that I love to stand and watch them interact while they eat. There is so much negotiating going on for better dining spots that is makes me smile!
The pygmy goat especially can't seem to eat without eying everyone else's pile of hay. He will take a bite from one pile and run to the next, pushing the much larger animal out of the way. He then takes a bite from the new pile and then onto a better pile. All the time he keeps his eyes on the previous piles to make sure he didn't miss something. He eventually partakes from all the piles and starts all over again...essentially running in circles!
It would be fun to be able to see life through the eyes of my animals...if only just at feeding time!
Yesterday I was watering a basket I have on my kitchen window...well actually I was watering the plants in the basket since the basket wasn't really very thirsty right then...
anyway I was watering and when I turned the basket around I found this...
This bloom was on the same plant that had bloomed way back in November. It was tucked way inside the plant, on the window side, and almost went completely unnoticed on my part. It is the only bloom on the whole entire plant...
Makes me glad for late bloomers...
It definately brightened up my February morning...
Sometimes the love of your life just gets it right...so right in fact that what they did makes you smile on a daily basis. So right that you realize that they indeed do 'get you' and you haven't just been roommates for the last 25 years!
I am talking about a gift my sweet hubby, gave me a couple of years ago. It was the perfect gift for me. It was something I don't ever remember mentioning I wanted. It was something I had admired that other people had, usually on their barns. It is now just my favorite thing to see every time I go outside...no it is not the camel!
It is my weather-vane, it is copper, it has a rooster one it, and it resides at the peak of my hen house and I love it! He is the only rooster that has ever resided on the farm that hasn't given me...and the hens...a hard time. He lets me know which way the wind blows and just plain looks good sitting there...perpetually crowing, but never waking me up!
When I went out to check on the girls one evening he seemed to be crowing at the moon...how cool is that?
Yep sometimes dates are forgotten, sometimes irons are given for anniversaries (hypothetically speaking of course), but sometimes, just sometimes your sweet love hits it out of the park...
over the moon actually!
No I don't need diamonds and jewelry, don't want a fancy car, expensive clothes would just get manure on them...but a weather-vane is just my cup of tea!
If you have never seen a camel drink you are missing something...
Gizmo loves water. He stand at the water trough and just sucks it up by the gallons. You can actually hear it hitting bottom when it gets in his belly...very weird!
As much as he like water out of the trough he likes it better out of the...
Yep...that is the big guy sucking down as much water as he can from the garden hose.
When he sees me get the hose out he just comes running!
I must admit it looks a little strange...
Hey Gizmo...want some water?
Thanks don't mind if I do...
Hey buddy...you done?
I'm getting tired of standing here with this hose...
Not done quite yet... I need just a little more.
Well hurry up then, I don't want to be here all day!
Come on...how much water can a camel drink?
Is that a rhetorical question?
Note: the first two pictures are called Diptychs, over at Pioneer Woman in her photography section we were challenged to make a diptych, which is two pictures that go together that sit next to each other as a set. So I figured why not use weird pictures of a camel with water all over his face...
Just keeping it real after all!
Now have a wonderful and wacky day...I know I will!!!
In the past I have always just planted my melons here and there among my raised beds. I have had reasonable success considering I live in Western Washington and growing melons is a little bit of a stretch for our climate. This year I wanted a dedicated melon patch to free up some more room in the main garden. When I designed the garden enclosure I fenced in a larger section than I needed at the time for future expansion and future green house. Well now it is time to use some of the extra land...
This bit of ground is just south of the chicken house. It also slopes gently south which should help a little with much needed heat.
Since I didn't have enough partially composted manure to cover the whole area I'm just doing the rows themselves. I started by a good thick layer of newspaper (no glossy pages) and then layed the manure on top.
Now I could get out the rototiller and do a bed that way but the ground is so wet right now that it is not a good time to till. Besided over the years I have just about given up tilling altogether for this method with wonderful results. Any culitvating I do is usually by hand with broadfork or hoe. The soil is so soft and pliable when done this way very little cultivating is required.
The next row was doubled in width for staggered plantings. I put a 'felt' between the rows to give me somewhere to walk and so the weeds won't come up between the rows. A felt is what newsprint paper is made on...hubby gets them for me from his work....its a big giant piece of very heavy felt fabric. Thanks sweetie!
After spreading the manure I covered the whole thing with straw. By the time we plant out melons around here (not until June) this all should be quite mellow.
When doing a bed this way you can also add shredded leaves, grass clippings, and partially finished compost (similiar to the cucumber bed I did). I will be adding any of those over the next month as I get them...but straw and manure over open land works alone too.
I will do one more double row. A couple weeks before planting I will cover each row with clear plastic to warm the soil. I will also cover the surrounding soil with black plastic (ugly I know) to give the melons somewhere warm to ramble and so I don't have to weed...since you all know how much I don't like to do that!
I'm hoping all this will give me a chance for a great crop of cantaloupe and watermelon!
I just has to share what is growing in my window...yep it is my flat of baby greens!
Baby Broccoli...ahhh so cute!
Little Lettuce...just as sweet as can be!
Hey who turned out the light...I can't see anything...hello...Hello...anybody out there?
Now are you one of the that can't stand to see the seed coat left on the little seedling and pick it off oh so very carefully?
Or do you just let nature take care of it hoping it will come off before too long?
Hmmm...do you think I'm a picker or no?
Am I impatient and pick it off hoping not to damage the seedling at the same time or am I a patient gardener who would never risk such a thing?
Yeah...you're right I'm a picker. Right after this was taken I ever so carefully removed the seed jacket. I must admit I have lost a few seedlings in my day doing this very thing...but not today...today's surgery was a complete success!
Now those of you thinking...
Darn is there anything this girl doesn't over-analyze
Fire-wa-tern. High proof alcohol, usually whiskey OR...pretty pictures of the sunrise!
Now before you all get excited this post has nothing to do with booze...nope the only spirits here is the spirit of the sun playing with the water.
Although after the last few day I may just need to get myself some firewater...just kidding...seriously, its only green tea in my cup...really it is!
I just love it when the sun plays with the water!
These photos have not had the color manipulated...not that I am opposed to manipulating photos, in fact I quite enjoy it. I love to make monsters out of tree stumps and various silly things but just thought I would let you know that is was not me that made these gorgeous colors!
Well I am not my usual perky blogging self. When the kids are sick it seems like mom gets nothing done....especially sleeping!
Cleaning up after the one that is throwing up, wiping the nose of the one who isn't. Taking temperatures, administering medicine, cuddling, calming and wishing they were better and hoping that nobody else get it....especially me!!!
So although the pictures are in my camera, my post on my new melon patch will just have to wait. I'm just gonna reach back in the memory of my computer files for something cheery and lovely...the exact opposite of my house right now!
Since we are the subject of trees... I will let you in on a little family secret...well not really a secret as much as a tradition.
Since I was in Kindergarten my folks have always had birch trees in their front yard. In fact they used to shade my room in the summer when I was little. There were three of them growing together at the corner of the front porch.
I never really paid much attention to them at any of the houses we lived in. That is until I became a gardener myself and got the 'gardener's winter blues' the lack of color in the winter was always depressing.
One of the few highlights, one of the few plants that looked almost as good in winter as in summer were my mom's birch trees. The white bark, with black clefts that is continually shedding its bark like a snake shedding its skin is always of great interest.
Their lacy canopy is lovely and not to overpowering when leafed out....but the bark is the star in my book!
The only serious drawback I have with them is that it is hard to keep little kids from wanting to peel all that lovely bark off!!!
As I was reading my 'Western Garden Book' it read that Birches need ample water along with a regular feeding program. It also stated that the European White Birch is probably the most frequently planted deciduous tree in the West. I know it is in my folk's yard!
Once upon a time in a land not so far away there stood giants. These giants stood proudly over the land. They protected the inhabits of the kingdom, providing food, shade and shelter. They guarded the whole land from erosion and kept the wicked weeds at bay.
But alas a king of long ago decided to cut down these giants so that the royal cows would have pasture to graze on.
So there remains today in the kingdom but one lone giant...
It stands tall and majestic over the fields of grass, always watchful, always vigilant...
Of course in a land where giants can be found there is bound to be a princess...
Our sweet princess knows that you must always keep alert and watchful. For you never know when a giant might try to sneak up on you!
The princess knows that she must always watch for giants but must also try to keep an eye on the pesky little prince! The prince is usually not very cooperative with the princess!
The newest queen of the land has commanded that all the field's edges be again planted with baby giants. They are but small seedlings now, but she has the hope that someday, in a future kingdom, its little princes and princesses will have many giants to play with!
look at it, smell it, ask mom if you can taste it...
wonder for the 100th time how can something that smells so good taste so icky?
Mix it all together and you have the mortar that is gonna hold together the real stars of the cake...
The yummy apples and...
the delicious raisins
Note...I almost always soak my raisins before adding to a recipe but this in the EXCEPTION. This cake is so moist that I don't need to. If you have very dry raisins you could soak them just make sure to drain them very well before adding
Here is where you would add the walnuts...except I'm not going to because I live with nut-haters...well my kids don't actually hate nuts they just don't like them in desserts. Go figure!
Stir it all together and what have you got? That is right an apple parade in a pan...a well oiled pan to be exact!
Bake at 325 for 1 hour till it comes out looking like...
Wait for it to cool enough that you don't burn your tongue...
Dish yourself up a big piece while your mouth waters uncontrollably, grab a fork...or not...and dig in!
That is unless you are wild and crazy like me and must have just a little adornment on your cake...somthing just a little more special...something that adds pizzazz!
I am not one to usually be someone to sit around and think deeply about the world and my impact on it. I do the usual, recycle, turn off the lights, turn down the heat, not make too many trips into town and garden organically. But I do have 5kids so how environmentally friendly can I be really?
Seriously if you have ever teenage boys eat you would know that they could deplete the planet's food supply all by themselves!
So here is my dilemma.
When I was cleaning my pantry I returned these to their usual spot where I can easily grab them on the way out the door...
Aren't they fun? My handy dandy reusable grocery bags!
Now when I use these bags I feel like I'm doing my small part for the enviorment, but should I?????
When I turned one of my bags over to put it away my eyes were drawn to this...
Now this all begs the question, am I really doing the environment or my community any good using them?
It is not like I've ever used plastic bags when grocery shopping. I always have in the past requested paper. You see we live in a town that is somewhat timber based. In fact hubby works at a plant that makes newsprint paper. Next door is a plant that makes paper for milk cartons, copy machines and the like. So using paper instead of plastic was always a given.
Then came my reusable bags, the ones that made me feel good about saving a tree...
Except that I used my old paper bags to hold recycling. I used them to kill grass before starting a new garden spot, they were in many ways quite useful and reusable. My paper bags were made locally, harvested from tree farms locally and in the making of them local people were employed and could provided for their families.
Then consider my made in China bags. How much energy does it take to make one of these reusable bags? What about the chemicals emitted by the plant using petroleum to make the plastic? How about all the fuel needed to ship it here from China? We won't even touch on the subject of working conditions in China...
So I want to know...do you look to see where something is made before you decided to buy? Do you consider the environmental impact of your purchase? What about the impact on the local economy?
Are my made in China, reusable bags just a way of deluding myself?
Update:After much research, talking to a store manager, then cooperate, and finally contacting the manufacturer of the paper bags. I have found out the following.
Yes they are manufactured locally, thus supporting the local economy. The trees are all from the Pacific Northwest although no necessarily from my immediate area. Now I think the reason for the local origins of the bags is that I shop at a locally owned store. If it was a big chain like say Walmart I am sure the same would not apply.
So in conclusion I am going back to paper bags. I will still use my made in China bags for other things since I already own them. But you can bet I will look to see where something is made next time before I consider either the environmental or the economical impact of my purchase.
Now for the rest of the day I'm going to go do something completely mindless...like haul manure or something, heaven knows I've done enough thinking for today...actually for the whole week!!!
Well I must say you all must be some great cooks with all the interesting things you keep in your pantries! Besides the usual sugars and flours, peanut butter and tomatoes there are...
Pickled Okra...I've never even seen okra except in a catalog let along seen it pickled! Yep I'm a northern girl!
Purple hulled peas...I knew there were purple beans, purple carrots and even purple broccoli but never had heard of purple peas. I'm thinking I must try them!
Kraft Mac & Cheese...another thing I've never tried (was raised by a conservative health conscious mother who thought Mac & Cheese in the box was of the devil)
Quinoa...I've got that too!
Mole...???? I've got them in my yard does that count? I'm gonna have to look that one up!
Agave syrup...again I'm ignorant, but that should not surprise anyone!!!
Heinz Chili Sauce...Heinz does make some good stuff!
Dinkel strong flour...??? What is that Tyra?
Dried Mushrooms...super yummy but oh so expensive around here
Sky Line Chili...I have never heard of it. On the west coast we eat Nalley's Chili, they have a vegetarian chili that even my hubby can't tell from the original!
Canned Bamboo Shoots...I've only used fresh in stir fry, never knew they came canned
Doggie Treats and Toddler Treats...not to be mixed up and given to the other!
I also found that Alan had the most interesting assortment of 'gear' . He has cheese making supplies, butter churn, cream separator...all quite old fashioned and then he throws in a snow cone maker...such a Renaissance man!
My must haves for cooking are: beans, rice, pasta, onion, garlic, course ground pepper, canned tomatoes, soy crumbles (vegetarian hamburger substitute), olive oil, and nuts
For baking I just can't live without: Wheat (for flour), honey, yeast, salt, vegetable oil, raisins, cinnamon, rolled oats, rye flour, dried fruit
Now I'm going to bare my soul and let you all know just what was residing in the pantry...
First is a lunch box...not so strange. Well if you consider I have not had a child attending school in need of a lunch box in say...8 years! Yes it has been kicked around the pantry moving from shelf to shelf, forever in the way for 8 years!
Hmmm I wonder what that is under the lunch box?
Yes that is a kid's stencil sitting on top of...my marriage certificate! How and why in the world it ended up in the pantry I have no clue. Underneath the copy that resides on top in the frame is the original.
I remember when we were first married I hung this on the wall in the bedroom. I don't know if I was just reminding sweet hubby that he was legally chained or reminding myself that the goings on in that room were perfectly legit...hmmm another side affect of my conservative upbringing I suppose!
Anyway it has now been moved to the safe with all the other important documents.
There is the many, many egg carton donated by friends and neighbors. I guess they thought I was going for record egg production...I only have 13 hens for goodness sake. What is scary is this is not the only place I store them...there are more in the kitchen!!!
Next to the cartons are my oatmeal containers. Now before you think'm completely over the top with oatmeal storage I have got to let you know that these are all empty. I cannot seems to throw them out. I have used so many of the year for craft projects with the kids that I can't seem to ever get rid of them...just in case! They make great drums, shakers when filled with beans, put a slit in the top and you have a great bank...the list goes on and on!
Next to by HUGE bags of beans are the empty cartons that a will be cut down and used for tomato starts.
We live in the boonies where the power goes out on regular occasions so these are some of the lamps we use for light....the kids love that part of power outages, playing games at the counter with the oil lamps burning!
Some of the basket I use to give away homemade goodies. Next to that is the stack of newspapers without colored ink I use when starting a new garden patch...I'm going to do that next week for my new melon patch...stay tuned!
Now for the really, really scary part. Please put down any hot beverages you have as to avoid accidental spillage...
This is what was just outside the pantry door when I was finished...
Why is it that cleaning always makes such a mess?
OK...I almost didn't include this.
It is more distressful than anything I've shown so far.
If you are a gardener you just might want to turn away...
See this pretty silver box?
Ohhh no! Say it isn't so...
My 2007 supply of seeds that I 'misplaced' in the pantry!
Now in my defense, I purchased these when I was quite pregnant with baby boy. Then he was born 6 weeks early and spent a couple of weeks in the NICU. When we came home I was sleep deprived and hormonal. It still makes one wonder how they landed in the pantry to be buried under stuff not to be unearthed for almost two years.
Hmmm wonder if any of them are still viable?
Thanks for joining me on my little pantry adventure, it was fun to see what you all keep in your...hopefully not your seeds!!!
Having a well stocked pantry is something that is inbred in me. My parents always had shelves and shelves of food stored away at all times. I think I might just have a panic attack if I didn't know I had enough food for at least a month stored away in my pantry.
Unfortunately for me it is also used for storage of paper recycling, glass recycling, small kitchen appliances, and miscellaneous things that we can't find proper homes for.
So for the sake of full disclosure I am going to reveal my pantry just before I dug in and cleaned and inventoried it.
Are you ready?
I apologize ahead of time to all you neat freaks out there cause this may just give you nightmares...
Yup! That is what it looked like before...full discloure sucks!
Now here is a little peek at what is on all those shelves. Somethings are 'must haves' others are 'just in case' and some are 'just because maybe I might possibly need it in case I make something exotic one day'
Here is the jam/jelly section...we've got grape, blackberry, apricot, peach, plum and apple butter.
Here is my dwindling supply of fruit sauces. Apricot, peach, plum and my last few applesauce. Beyond that with the white caps is some of our honey supply from hubby's wonderful bees.
Here is where is store grains and such that I don't use in big quantities like spelt, quinoa, rye flour, bulgar, couscous, and vital wheat gluten for bread.
Here is the shelf with baking supplies, sugars, flour, and of course chocolate. I store my home ground whole wheat flour in the freezer. Oh yeah the green thing is a bay branch that keeps any critters from invading the flour...and is handy for soups and stews!
I'm a vegetarian so beans make up an important part of the family diet. I usually keep many kinds on hand...Pinto, red, white, lentils of all colors, black beans, split peas. The only beans you will not find in my pantry are lima beans...yuck...no...double yuck!
Here is a shelf with the popcorn bucket, my wire basket filled with green and white teas...oh how I love my tea. We also keep chips here, if you ever want to try a good baked chip try any of the 'Kettle' brand chips, yummy! I also have a couple of candles I bought from the neighbor kids when they were having a fund raiser...same with the enormous green pears!
This is a good example of some 'must haves'...olive oil, mustard, peanut butter, olives, diced green chilies, artichoke hearts, Tabasco, and organic cranberry sauce in case I get a craving!
Just next door hiding behind the homemade pasta sauce is my kid's beloved ketchup. I have tried all brands and this is till our fave...gotta love Heinz Ketchup! I would like to try to make my own this year...anyone have a good recipe for ketchup?
Canned tomatoes...I didn't get around to canning any myself last year so we are having to endure the store bought ones for now. Underneath is the bread mixer, small pressure cooker, and steam canner.
Crock pot, ice cream maker, wheat grinder, and juicer.
Now for today's question to ponder.
What would be your top 10 things that you just have to have in your pantry/cupboards for cooking? What are your top 10 for baking?
I will be back tomorrow with my lists and to share some of yours.
I will also let you in on some of the surprising and some would say shocking things that have nothing to do with food I unearthed in the pantry!
A new baby Rhododendron blossom. I don't remember what color it is,
but for now...it looks like a pineapple!
I don't know what this looks like...but its cool!
Actually... I think it kinda looks like alien jaws coming up from the pit propelled by it wickedly enormous tentacles bent on devouring the next innocent victim that wanders within its grasp...then again it could just be I've seen way to many science fiction movies!
I'm going to be going back to these exact blossoms during the spring season to watch and document their awakening.
Its like opening a Christmas present ... r e a l l y s l o w l y !