30 July 2011

Farmer's reward

Once our garden is in full swing, we feel pretty stinking rich all the time. And why is that you wonder? Because every day is like eating at a fresh gourmet restaurant. A typical trip to the garden will yield all this, and more.

Everything I could hold: a half pound of green beans, two zucchini, four eggplant, two cucumbers and two peppers.
This year I smartened up about my herbs and overwintered some of them so they had a huge head start in the spring. Most of my overwintered herbs are the size of small hedges, so I hope to keep that up this year. I love being able to pluck some oregano, thyme or basil for whatever I'm cooking in the kitchen. The eggplant and cucumbers are ripening at a pace of 3-4 a day and we eat the cukes as fresh snacks they are so sweet.

Our tomatoes are only just beginning to ripen. These are an heirloom variety, Beam's yellow. They look like light bulbs and have a very sweet, mild flavor that makes them a good addition to everything from eggs to salsa. The pumpkin-shaped Brandywines are green on the vine, as are the Roma and cherry tomatoes. The carrot tops are tall and lush and since I didn't have the heart to properly thin them, I have been plucking baby carrots 2 to 4 inches deep from the rows each week to thin them out now (except now I get to eat them instead of just discarding the seedlings). We've come up with some great in season recipes this year that I'll share this week.

05 July 2011

Baby fluff balls

Our fourth of July was special this year because we watched two chicks hatch. Words can't express the awe and cuteness of the experience, so we'll just share some pictures.

04 July 2011

Farmer's breakfast

First it was strawberries and lettuces, now it's sugar snap peas, cucumbers, and the first eggplant and baby broccoli crowns.

"Sugar snap peas for breakfast?" you ask. Sure! And cucumbers too, although we juice them with a few apples and carrots for a refreshing healthy breakfast juice.

And of course, a bunch of eggs we collected yesterday.

With sauteed chives, garlic and baby broccoli. Mmmm. This is the richness of the gardener's breakfast. Of course, it also matters what we didn't eat.

Do you see the two little cracks on each of the eggs? We can't wait to meet our newest feathered family members. To me independence is all about having having secure, safe and sustainable food and energy (here's looking at almost 14 megawatt-hours of solar energy generated). Happy Independence Day!

03 July 2011

Little farm miracle

Today we had a lot going on as usual but after our walk Savannah spotted something new while collecting eggs. Our broody hen was off her nest and two of the eggs were cracked. After a bit of searching we found something sticking out from our broody girl's breast.

Can you see the sweet not yet one-day-old baby chick peeking out from beneath her mama's feathers? Here's another close up just in case.

Welcome baby! We are eager to see the colors of this one as it grows since it is half Buff Orpington and half Rhode Island Red. But this wasn't our only surprise. Then we discovered a second baby that had fallen outside of the coop, it was running around frightened and cold. As soon as we caught her and she felt our warmth, she quieted and fell asleep. We decided to bring her in the house to raise her in the brooder.  That way we can be certain she will have food, water, warmth and will not fall out of the coop again. And, she'll imprint on us.

Even Aunt Megan got to hold our new baby fluff ball. But there was another surprise. William had been asking over and over for milk while I was preparing the brooder. When Kevin went to the fridge to get his milk, he heard peeping from inside the fridge! He brought out our bowl of freshly collected eggs and I quickly did the water test on them. Two of the eggs floated right to the top so we scooped them out. Aunt Megan heard the peeping from inside one of the eggs too. I made a little "nest" for the eggs inside the brooder where it was warmest and guess who wanted to snuggle with her sisters?

The first egg on the left already has a small crack in it from baby sister's egg tooth. Tomorrow we expect to have two baby fluff balls in our brooder and possibly a third if the last egg was also fertilized. For us, this is quite the miracle because our rooster Lucky (who is lucky to be alive in the first place) has half a brain and doesn't exactly know what he's doing when he mounts a chicken. We see very few fertilized eggs. Ever. So we thought our poor broody girl was nesting in vain. We left her alone though to do her thing with her clutch of eggs and now she's got one lovely chick to raise as her own and we have two or three to raise our way. Tonight or tomorrow we expect to see the miracle of hatching. And soon enough all the siblings will be together again, grazing the land with their mama and each other.

01 July 2011

Bathroom display wall

You might be wondering why you haven't heard from me in so long. It's not for lack of news. We thought would have to move in July for Kevin's work so I've been working like a mad person to complete all the unfinished home renovation projects on our house. Of course, Kevin was "transferred" to a new position in the same town so we get to stay for another year - yay!

I've been working hard to renovate the master bathroom, which has a large wall space that is not easily accessible. To me that screams display. Using Ana White's simple plans for ten dollar display shelves, I created a pair for the wall and painted them the same color as the vanity, which I've remodeled and the wrap-around built-in bench in the master bathroom. It's such a simple project, but I think they look great without cluttering the space too much. I wanted a subtle beach or shell-themed room since we take an annual vacation to the Gulf Coast of Florida and really love it. The only pictures on the wall are of us at the beach and shells that we've collected or purchased while in Hawaii or Florida. There's still plenty of blank space left to fill as we make new memories, although we've thought of adding a corked bottle with a secret message inside. I can't wait until the entire master bathroom is complete and I can show you the whole thing.