Friday, August 30, 2013

The Week That Was

Where-oh-where has this past week gone?  

It's been spent in a combination of trying to stay ahead of the garden's harvest, trying to finish a moderately sized outside project, trying to get my energy back from the week long attack of germs I contracted and trying not to panic about the near catastrophe caused by our 2-1/2 year old, 6' long Frigidaire freezer in the pantry.

First of all, it's amazing what the garden is producing considering the dismal start it got the first half of this summer.  I'm grateful for every little vegetable that has matured and can be squirreled away for our eating pleasure and sustenance in these coming winter months, but does everything have to ripen at once?

Yes.  The answer is yes.

Because of our whacky weather, even the "early" crops didn't have decent weather to grow in until mid-summer (or beyond) so I now have shell peas still ripening on the vine.  Today.  At the very end of August.  That's how it's happened this year, so that's how we'll take it.  At night, I dream of picking beans, of steaming pots and kettles on the stove, of jars pinging on the counter, of trays of quiescently freezing berries.  It sure is an intense period.

On Tuesday of this week, we discovered quite by accident that the floor under our relatively new, big freezer in the pantry was . . . soaked.  With water.  The tile had buckled and the sub-flooring was saturated.  Wha . . . ?  Huh?

In this terrible, hot humid weather we've been having, I've been like a crazy person (a quote from my husband), constantly checking and monitoring the temperature in the pantry.  It's never gotten over 70° and we've managed to keep (what we thought was) a good air flow in there.

Come to find out condensation was building up (why?  why?  WHY?!) on the back of the freezer (which was a good 3-4" away from the wall) and running down to the floor and under the freezer.

On the extremely hot, sticky, humid day when the problem was discovered, the condenser was making an abnormally loud noise and the side of the freezer was too hot to hold your hand on it.   I had to empty the very full freezer, we had to get the huge thing out of the small pantry and into the garage . . . 

. . . which necessitated taking off three doors and moving darn near every stick of furniture in the house.  (Believe me, deodorant was of no use that day.)

Then we had to rip up the ruined tile and start drying out the plywood sub-flooring.

The good news is that we didn't lose any food in the process.  The bad news is we don't know why we had the problem in the first place.  Detailed researching, gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair is still in progress.  I am not happy about the state of the pantry.  Husband is not happy about the huge freezer taking up needed space in the garage.

But it's a small problem compared to lots of others.  Could be worse.  We'll figure everything out.  I'm no longer sick to my stomach thinking we were going to lose everything stored in the freezer.  And that the freezer was going to catch fire.  And that the floor of pantry was going to have to be torn out.  It will all work out fine.

Now I'm going to go to bed early so I can dream of canning beets.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Cool Spot for a Hot Dog

We're all doing the best we can to make it through these crazy, hot, humid last days of summer we've been having.

Our granddog, Tucker, has found the coolest place in the house and has claimed it as his own comfort zone.  The tile under the wood stove in the kitchen and the cast iron of the stove itself stay cool to the touch even when the rest of the house seems to be roasting, and it didn't take Tucker long to figure that out.

This very hot weather we're having?  Somehow it just doesn't seem right that the bulk of our summer was comprised of cool, fall-like days and now that autumn air really should be here, we're hitting 90° days, one after the other.

Hey!  Who's in charge of the weather these days, huh?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Here A Chick, There A Chick . . .

I mentioned a while back that we've recently had three broody bantam hens.  The two hens who were sharing one nest hatched out four Black Australorp chicks.

It's hard to get a good picture of the two mamas and babies because the chicks move so fast.  Also, the second the hens see me with my camera, they shout, "Run, children, it's the paparazzo!"

It's kind of a neat arrangement.  Both hens are raising the four chicks and the chicks, not knowing any different, think they have two mothers.

Another curious thing . . . three of the chicks refuse to go into their shelter at night where their mamas and sibling are locked away safe from marauding, possible chick-eating critters.  They go off (we have no idea where) to spend the night snuggled down together.  First thing in the morning, before the chicken doors are opened for the day, the three of them can be seen zipping around all by their lonesomes.

Why is it that when we order day old chicks from the hatchery, we have to keep them under a brooder light with special food and water for so long, until they are feathered out and deemed developed and old enough to make it in the great out-of-doors chicken yard by themselves?

These little guys being raised naturally (except for being smart enough to snuggle under a warm, safe and secure mother hen body at night) have no special heat lamp or water or food and are doing just fine.

Best to let nature take its course?  The natural way is the best way?  Obviously, having a mother hen (or two) to take care of the chicks and show them the ropes, so to speak, works very well.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Still Pathetic

I'm functioning, but I am d-r-a-g-g-i-n-g.  I made myself get ready and leave home to do a few errands first thing this morning.  I knew it would be the high energy point of my day so got out and going before I could talk myself out of it.

Went up to the farm to resupply us with fresh, raw milk products.  Stopped at the co-op to pick up a special order.  Then to the post office and dropped some books off at the library.

As I was driving home with the windows down, I thought, "What a beautiful day!  I think I feel pretty good."

Stopped at our mailbox on the highway to get our mail.  By the time I got in to the house, I was feeling crummy again.  (It must have been the supreme effort of getting out of the car, opening the mailbox and carrying the two pieces of junk mail back to the car.)

I asked Papa Pea to help me carry my load in.  (That would be the things in the car I had collected on my journey; not me personally.)

Put things away and went out to help hubby finish picking blueberries.  I then checked the shell peas and discovered they had to be picked.  So while Papa Pea harvested raspberries (our biggest haul of the season), I picked peas.

Inside then to shell and process peas, sort and clean berries and get them in the freezer saving out enough for us to eat fresh.

Have had a real taste for potato salad (nuthin' wrong with my appetite) so furtively made my way out to the potato patch (hoping Papa Pea wouldn't see me) and dug two pounds of nice sized spuds.  Made the potato salad to have with dinner tonight.

My throat isn't sore so much anymore as it just feels closed up, swollen.  Had a hard time sleeping last night because I kept snortling, chortling and almost gagging because of lack of air.  Papa Pea and I played a rotating game of one on the couch, one in bed . . . okay, now switch for a while to see if I could sleep better in a different spot.

It's so hard to lay low this time of year.  One person cannot do it all so I feel I have to do what I can even though I have very little energy.

After dinner, dear hubby did the dishes on the condition I would stretch out on the couch with a book.  (Well, okay.  If you INSIST.)

Shortly after I did so, dear daughter stopped in to pick up Tucker.  She came into the living room wiping sweat from her face.  She stopped dead in her tracks and said, "Mom, you're lying under a quilt and you have a polar fleece jacket on."

"Yes," I replied, "and I'm still cold."

After she left I almost immediately fell asleep and didn't wake until 8 p.m.  I don't even remember putting my book down.

Now I'm ready to put my jammies on and sack out for the night.  Wonder if I should start in bed or on the couch?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Whine, Wine, Whine

This is our second day of summer.  Or our second day of really hot weather anyway.  Ninety-ish out in the sun.  Since we haven't had any rain in a month, just these two days have hit the garden hard.

Papa Pea couldn't sleep much last night because we couldn't get the house cooled off and it was not comfortable.  I couldn't sleep because I developed a sore throat.  You never know how often you unconsciously swallow during a night's sleep . . . until you have a sore throat.

As the day has gone on, a headache and slight pain in both ears have entered the mix.  So far it's not really a cold.  No cough or drippy nose.  I've know something was wrong for a couple of days.  Sure, I've been working hard between the garden, the wood working, and all the usual stuff but rather than just feeling tired, I was feeling yucky.  Not good. Uncomfortable.  These germs were obviously invading my body and trying to take hold.

I feel I've got no one to blame but myself.  There's been enough physical work going on around here this summer that I thought I could let myself be over-indulgent in . . . dum-da-dum-dum . . . sugar.  Now I'm paying the price.  The body just has to work too hard to process an overload of sugar.  Or at least my body does.  I know this yet I fell of the sensible nutrition wagon, right on my head.

I staggered out to the garden this morning to check the shell peas.  Oh, how I was hoping they wouldn't have to be picked until tomorrow.  No such luck.  Big, fat pods were hanging everywhere and when I touched them, they felt absolute hot.  This is NOT pea growing weather, and I felt I had to get them out of that broiling sun.

My dear husband dropped what he was working on and came out to pick with me.  I think he (wisely) figured this was easier than hefting my unconscious body back into the house after I passed out in the heat.  Sitting at the kitchen table shelling the peas (and then processing them) was a task I could almost handle.  Although I did crash on the bed for an hour nap right in the middle of the job.

After dinner tonight, much of the garden was wilted and hanging limply, and I knew I had to get some water on it.  I especially don't want to chance losing the blueberries and raspberries that are bearing heavily right now.  I had to use the hose to water because much of the garden is so tall our sprinkler arrangement wouldn't do the trick.  I got a little less than halfway done when I felt the hose was too heavy for me to hold any longer.  (Yup, pitiful, but that's how I felt.)  Papa Pea came out and saved my bacon again by finishing the job for me.  It took him almost an hour.  I know I couldn't have done it.

Geesh, I just HATE it when I feel so beat up and run down and weak.  It doesn't happen very often but when it does it sure does make me appreciate how great I feel 99.9% of the time.

When Chicken Mama stopped by tonight she asked how I was feeling and I gave her a report.  I said I'd been drinking a lot trying to flush the germies out of my system.

"Not alcohol, I hope," she said.

No, dear, not alcohol.  No wine.  Just a lot of whine, whine, whine.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Anyone for a Mangel?

There is a feed crop for animals that has been grown since the Middle Ages, but not widely known (or grown) in the U.S. today.  It's the lowly mangel, and I've put in an experimental garden bed of them this year.

Mangels are a root crop.  Root crops generally do well in our area so I thought I'd try to grow some for use this winter as a supplemental feed for our chickens.

Supposedly they can grow up to twenty pounds and two feet long.  (Oh, my.)  This one I pulled from the garden a couple of days ago is about the size of a medium-large potato.  I doubt any of mine will reach the twenty pound mark, but if we are fortunate enough to get a long fall this year, I'm sure they will bulk up a bit more than this.

Although a copious quantity of information on the mangel does not seem to be readily available, I have read that they have long been considered excellent feed for a variety of livestock including cattle, pigs, sheep, rabbits, goats and chickens.

The mangel seeds look much like chard or beet or turnip seeds as do the greens and roots.  Like turnip or beet greens, the leaves are edible by humans as is the root when harvested young.  One source suggested mangels can be boiled and mashed like potatoes.

Nutritionally they are lower in sugar content than beets and contain more protein.  They're touted as a valuable energy source.

They even have a history in jolly old England of being used to brew a potent alcoholic beverage.

So if you're looking for a good energy source or nice ale to serve your livestock with their daily ration of grain, mangels might be worth looking into.

Monday, August 19, 2013

As the Summer Rolls On

We woke to a very yellow sky this morning and it looked for all the world as if we were going to get a good rain storm.  It would have been welcome because we haven't had any rain since July 18th.  But before more than 25 drops of rain hit the ground, the air cleared and sunshine prevailed.

Since it was still cool enough, Papa Pea grabbed his chain saw and went back to put in about an hour on the wood pile.  For all of you who have experienced it, you know chain sawing can warm a body up very quickly even in cold weather so getting out in the coolest part of a summer's day is a wise move.  We're debating on whether to brave the (glorious) sun and (welcomed) heat and do some splitting and stacking in the wood shed yet this morning.

Harvesting and processing shell peas and bush beans have kept me hopping lately.  I picked peas for about two hours yesterday, and I do believe if I hadn't had Chicken Mama sitting with me at the kitchen table shelling them, I'd still be doing it.  It was a big batch but I now have as many peas put up in the freezer for winter consumption as I had as a total last year.  Unless I somehow lose all the rest of the peas still out there (which is a significant amount), we will have an AMPLE supply this year.

My green beans are still not up to size, but the Rocdor yellow beans are producing well.  How's this for a luxuriant row of beans?  It's nearly four feet wide and sixteen feet long.  I've picked them twice but the bulk are yet to come.  Not bad for seeds from 2008, eh?

I don't think my Sweet Peas have ever been more prolific than they are this year.  I have bouquets of them throughout the house and the aroma is intoxicating.

My first patch of corn (which got knocked flat by a windstorm earlier this season) couldn't be looking much better.  I didn't even think it would stand back up let alone look this good.  We're finally getting the formation of ears so who knows?  We just might get a good harvest yet.  Starting on the left of the above picture and going clockwise, you see my second planting of shell peas, then a small patch of corn I stuck in because . . . well, because there was a bare space in the garden, then the first planted corn and then the east end of the potato patch.

We've had three banty hens go broody on us.  Two are sitting on one nest and one on another.  The nest with two mamas now has four fluffy chicks that have hatched.  They're not bantams (don't tell the mamas) but rather standard size Black Australorps.  The three hens and their eggs/chicks are in a separate enclosure from the rest of the chickens, so we haven't disturbed them enough to check on the remaining eggs.

Well, my husband is making noises about wanting to go out to split wood so I'll have to suit up (actually change to cooler clothing) and be big and brave and go out to do what needs to be done.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The First Potatoes

Supposedly, after your potato plants blossom there will be large enough "new" potatoes formed for you to carefully extract a few from under the plant.  And who doesn't like the flavor of new potatoes straight from the garden?

Papa Pea does not like me to steal any of these small spuds; he would prefer I wait until they've had a chance to grow into BIG taters.  More bang for your buck, ya know.

Today I wanted some potatoes for a special dinner our daughter is going to prepare here at our house tomorrow.  I had no potatoes in the house.  But I knew where there were some.  (Shhhhh!)

I really hit the jackpot on that big one, didn't I?  Note the full-sized egg I included in the picture for size comparison.

(Darn.  Now I'm wondering how big that big potato would have gotten if I'd left it in the ground another month.  Darn.)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thursday Thoughts

::  Our weather has been WONDERFUL.  Also very, very fall-like.  Never getting more than into the lower 70s these days, but perfect for any outside work.

::  Haven't had any appreciable rain in about three weeks.  Things are starting to dry out because of the lovely breezes we've had.  I'm having to water the garden, but it will take a good, soaking, natural rain to encourage crops to mature.

::  We've been involved in a roofing project that we hadn't planned on which is causing havoc with both the financial budget and the time budget.  Roofing is a physically taxing, dirty job.

::  We're both having a little trouble getting a good night's rest because of sore knees, sore backs and pesky leg cramps.  We're taking all the recommended supplements for keeping cramps at bay, but I'm sure it's just the strained muscles that are complaining.  (Better to wear out than to rust out??)

::  As we continue to try to squeeze in our wood working, we are so appreciative of this cooler weather.  In a normal year, wood working in August would be so hot as to be nearly unbearable.

::  Our blueberries and raspberries are ripe for the picking every other day now.  Oh, how I do love fresh picked raspberries in a bowl with a mixture of cream and milk.  Papa Pea would say the same about blueberries.

::  This cooler weather that feels so much like fall has me itching to get into my quilt room.  The funny thing is that at night when I have an hour or two before bedtime, I'm so pooped I don't even feel like quilting.  Now that's sad!

::  It's so rare that I am dressed in anything but old, sloppy, nearly worn out, gardening and outside work clothes these days.  When my dear husband's clothes get to looking bad, he chooses not to wear them any longer.  Not so with his anything but glamorous, fashion-conscious wife.  I kinda feel sorry for him having to look at me every day.

::  The shell peas and beans in the garden are acting like contrary teenagers and are refusing to grow because I'm looking at them so much.  I have beets I could pull and process for the freezer but I want to defrost and clean out the freezers before I do that.  And I keep waiting for a rainy day for that project.  I should probably just do it, and then it would be done.  (How's that for a profound statement?)

::  Even though many indicators are pointing to an early start to the fall season for us here in northern Minnesota, I'm still hoping it will be a long one.  It's such a beautiful time of year no matter how you choose to spend it.

Monday, August 12, 2013

What the . . . ?

Somebody in the hen house . . .

 . . . is just not really trying.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Harvest Begins

I think it's finally starting, folks!  The first of the shell peas were ready today . . . 

. . . and I picked and picked and picked.

Then inside I came to shell them which is a task I don't mind at all.  For me, picking is the hard part.  Once again, out in the garden, particular muscles of mine were used (and abused) that haven't been exercised since . . . well, maybe since last pea picking time.

How much did these three huge bowls full yield when all was said and done?  When the little peas had been liberated from their pods and been blanched and packaged for the freezer?  Seven meals worth.  Yeah, I totally understand why some gardeners chose not to fool with shell peas.  Seems like a bit much work for such little yield.  Yet we love fresh frozen garden peas to eat all through the winter months, and it's not like I'm trying to preserve enough for a family of six.  (Arrgh, now that would be a job!)  It's just the two of us, and for us it's worth it.

This was just the first picking of the first ones I planted.  (Can you believe it's mighty close to the middle of August and the peas are just now coming in?  Such a strange gardening year.)  There are plenty more on the vines that haven't plumped up yet.  (I got a little carried away this year and did two successive plantings after the first one of shell peas.  I'm starting to think I may actually succeed in having enough to put up this year!)

I went out to check on the raspberries after dinner tonight.  I found I certainly could have picked more of them today, but by then was out of time.  I'll get them tomorrow.

On my way to the raspberry patch, I walked through the blueberries and was very surprised to see there are quite a few of them that are ripe.  Wow, that seemed to happen overnight.  Looks like blueberry picking will be on the list tomorrow, too.

All of a sudden, it seems like harvest time in the garden has really truly actually begun!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Another Week . . .

Another week is just about over, flown by in a flash.  Mostly homestead-y type stuff filling our time, but as Papa Pea agreed last night in bed as I was yammering away (I couldn't fall asleep, although I think he was already more than halfway there), there's nothing we'd rather be doing.

Not a lot going on in the garden that has demanded attention though.

Even the flowers are way behind schedule, but developing slowly all the same.  The morning glories on the tepee trellis are about three-fourths of the way to the top, but not showing many blooms.

The same for the ones I planted at the base of this archway trellis in the field garden.  I pictured them climbing all the way over the top with a heavy display of blooms.  Don't think that will happen this year.

The strawberries are done producing and already showing their fall colors.  (Eeek, wait!  I'm not ready for that.)

Maybe this sixteen foot long bean row is a good lesson in teaching that patience pays.  I replanted bare spots two times, but now it looks like a luxuriant stand with (finally!) inch-long beans appearing.

The edible podded peas have been producing prolifically.  I pick them every day and we eat them with every meal.  Yes, we do and are still enjoying them to the hilt!

We got our first measurable amount of raspberries yesterday, probably about six cups.  These are the Reveille variety which are our heaviest bearing.  The berries seem to be especially large in size this year.

I spent one long afternoon baking five different varieties of goodies for a program at our local (wonderful) library.  The big advantage was that it also restocked our freezer with a nice variety of treats to have on hand.

Our main thrust this week has been wood working.  We usually have our wood supply high, dry and tucked away in the spring of each year, but we had a couple of glitches thrown in that plan this year so we're having to make a big push on it now.

We had some wood left (from two years ago, I think, maybe three) in the back of the small wood shed that we wanted to start filling first so it had to be brought out.  We'll use this wood first this heating season.  It filled this 12' long auxiliary rack plus half of another one just like it.

We've gotten a good start on cutting, splitting and stacking wood in the small shed.

While Papa Pea cuts the wood into stove size lengths with the chainsaw, I've been working on filling the kindling bin which seems like a slow task, but it's oh-so-nice to have it all set and ready for the whole heating season.

That's an overview of our week so far.  Our weather continues to be very cool, but it's just perfect for our wood working efforts. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Holy Macaroni!

Or to be more correct . . . Holy Purple Top Turnips!  I was checking in the garden yesterday for kohlrabi big enough to harvest.  They're planted in a raised bed right next to some turnips which I had no idea would be as large as they are.

Yikes!  Before you think I must be blind as a bat not to see these beautiful purple and white orbs popping up out of the soil, it's because I plant very intensively in my raised beds and the greens from the turnips totally obscured what was growing beneath them.

So . . . surprise, surprise!  (What was it I said recently about this being, at least, a good year for root crops?)

We usually eat turnips raw cut in slices or sticks with dip.  But I didn't have any dip hanging around in the fridge so I decided to prepare one of the turnips to have as a cooked veggie with dinner last night.

I cubed it, boiled it in water, drained it, sprinkled on some chopped chives just to add a little color interest to the white cubes, buttered it and added salt and pepper.

While dinner was cooking, I took a tour of the Internet thinking I might discover a delectable way to cook turnips.  (I have a feeling we're going to have quite a few.)  Besides noting some interesting sounding recipes, I learned that if you boil turnips you should change the cooking water a couple of times to get rid of any strong flavor the turnips may have which becomes prominent when cooked.  (Drop everything, run out to the kitchen, change cooking water.  Twice.)

I also learned that maximum size before the turnip turns woody and develops a bitter taste is about 3" across.  Ooops, these two I found yesterday were a bit bigger.

Served at dinner the turnips were flavorful and yet did have enough of a bitter finish (do you suppose turnips can have a "finish" like wine does?) that I found them, frankly, objectionable.

As my dear hubby said, "Well, we know we like them raw.  And raw foods are better for us anyway.  So why cook them?"

Alrighty then.  On the agenda for today:  Make some dip.  Arrange a plate of raw turnips, kohlrabi, zucchini, baby carrots and sprigs of curly kale . . . and enjoy.  (And check the turnip patch and harvest any that are already between 2" and 3".)

P.S.  I served several slices of raw turnip on our breakfast plates this morning (no dip made yet), and they were just fine -- no bitter taste.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Only A Couple of Days Late

Yes, I'm a little tardy, but here are my August 1st garden pictures to compare with how things looked on June 1st and July 1st of this season.

The Pumpkin Patch

Pretty close to nuthin' happening on June 1st.   (I don't think anything was happening then.  Too cold.)

Progress made as of July 1st, but nothing poking through the soil yet.

Finally looking like a respectable garden on August 1st.  This second planting of corn is between two and three feet high.  The pumpkins planted in with the corn, I'm afraid, don't stand a chance of making it.  Their vines have not even started to spread yet.

::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::

The Raised Beds

Wow, a really slow start to the season on June 1st.  We were still replacing the wooden frames on some beds, and it was cold.

July 1st and at least there was a good start on some plants.

A big jump in growth from July 1st to August 1st.  Other than salad fixin's, though, nothing is producing except zucchini and edible podded peas.

::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::

The Field Garden

Not much to see on June 1st except the strawberry plants.

Small growth by July 1st.

Finally looking lush and full on August 1st.  Some things hiding behind others.  (Wouldn't it be cool to have an aerial view of your garden?)

As the pictures show, I saw much more growth during the month of July than the month of June.  A cool, wet June is not too unusual up here.  A cool, wet July caused a bit of frustration.  Now August has started out in much the same way.  Can anything other than the root crops mature if we don't get our quota of heat and sunshine in August?

Will my shell peas be harvested by September 1st?  Will the corn have developed ears by then?  Will I get enough green and yellow beans this year?  There have been many signs of an early fall in our area already.  Oh, golly-gosh, I really hope that doesn't come to pass!

Friday, August 2, 2013

August Already? No Way!

I think this is the first year that I've realized I unconsciously gauge what time of summer it is by how the garden looks and what it's producing.

Judging by my garden and the produce (or I should say lack of) I'm currently getting from it, you could easily convince me this is the first of July instead of the first of August.

The weather, the garden, my internal clock have all been totally out-of-kilter this year.

Our strawberry season started late and petered out quickly.  These beauties, all cleaned, sliced and ready for fresh eating are the very last of them for this year.  Sigh.

Today I found the first couple of ripe raspberries.  Just enough for a taste.  Last year I did an ample first picking in the middle of July.

Unless something disastrous happens, I think we'll have the best blueberry harvest that we've ever had.  Our domestic bushes are FULL.

However, it's easy to see they are not even close to ripe yet.  Last year, I harvested the first of them on July 22nd.

Broccoli gave us our first heads on July 20th last year.  This year the plants haven't even started to form heads yet.

I could go on and on about everything that is late this year due to our very late, cold spring followed by summer that has been cool, wet and lacking sunshine.

But let's face it; that's life and not every year is just the way we want it to be for our own personal purposes.

I'm thankful my garden is still green and growing and other than way too many grasshoppers munching every green leaf they can get their greedy little mandibles on, I'm not battling much other than the weather.  (I always thought grasshoppers were worse in dry, hot summers.  Guess that's been disproved here this year.)

The garden does look good (yes, I am a little slow but the August 1st pictures in comparison to June 1st and July 1st should get posted tomorrow), and I still have hopes for a good harvest from much of it.

You hear that, Mother Nature?  Please be nice now, okay?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Chicken Delight

Some days when I've been going full steam ahead and need a breather, I fantasize about being one of our chickens.

They have such a lovely, large pasture in which to spend their days.

Even a pond to dip their thirsty little beaks in if they wish.

And how many chickens have a rose bush in their yard?

Enclosed in their pasture is an area of heavy vegetation where they can always seek cool shade (not that it's been needed much this year) and safe hidey-holes from those occasional nasty hawks flying over.  This is the view of the east end of the chickens' woods we see from the end of our house.  I just love the way it looks this time of year when the trees and bushes are leafed out.  Through the arched opening is their chicken house to the left.

Here's another view of the same area.

This is the north side of their pasture line running along the end of the driveway coming into our place.  The bunch of trees you see across the end of the pond is the opposite end of the tree shelter that has the archway into it.

The chicken house itself is in desperate need of some serious rehab.  We keep telling the chickens it's on the list for this summer, but even if it doesn't get done they have a large "solarium" attached to their house where they spend winter days basking in the warmth and sunshine.

They eat sumptuously on whole grain scratch, fermented milk, laying mash and all those good kitchen scraps.  Plus this time of year they have all the grasshoppers they can catch.  And they never have to cook or wash a dish.

Yup, being one of our chickens doesn't sound like it would be too tough some days.