8.29.2010

Seed to Table ... NOT!

Let's just say I've learned some lessons on seed companies these past seasons. As I'm headed into fall and thinking way too far ahead in to next spring I've been thinking a lot about the seed I've planted. I've noticed that quite a bit of the seed I've bought from a certain company based on recommendation from other gardeners, farmers, growers and the like have been hit or miss at best. Not sure if it's the region I'm in (depending on where the research takes me I'm in a zone 5 or 6 - sometimes being in the midwest sucks @ss) or if it's just bad stuff but I've had some pretty rotten results with product from this company.
I could blame the weather (it's been crazy around here), I could blame experience (this is only my second full growing season) or it could be "user error". However you want to look at it I have not been at all happy with these products. It's sad really. They have really cool varieties - stuff you can't find anywhere else. If it would grow I would be happy but right now I'm looking at the germination and failure rates of certain seed and I'm totally pissed off! Something I tend to do when I'm pissed off is to rant and rave. I'm not gonna - not with this. It's all about experience and the learning process.
Bottom line is I need to learn these things now. I want to try new and cool stuff but I also don't want to waste time and energy, space and especially not money on product that just won't grow!

8.14.2010

Only a matter of time ...

I knew it would only be a matter of time before somebody in the 'hood spotted my ladies out back. They're actually kinda hard to miss - big back yard, yes. Fenced, yes. Wide open space, definitely!


Thankfully "Pacer", as we call him was actually excited and a little impressed. He's always walking up and down the street in front of his house on his cell - pacing - go figure - so "Pacer".
Glad the first real meeting with one of my neighbors over the ladies went well. I know I know - I should have talked to the folks immediately around me to let them know I was getting the girls but I didn't want to. Not that I couldn't. I just didn't want to so I didn't. Figured if there was a problem they'd come talk to me. No problems but maybe "Pacer" coming over is the start of something good and folks will venture over and if nothing else learn something!

8.11.2010

Invasion


Thinking Black Swallowtail
Lovin' the dill!

Chicken Run

... and no it ain't the movie!:)

Apparently 2 of my girls decided to make a break for it. Not sure if they were feeling flighty (ha ha!) or just being chickens but the little buggers decided to cross the road so to speak and venture out into the wild blue of neighbor lady's yard.
Now neighbor lady ain't all bad. She stays to herself. She doesn't bother us. Truthfully she just bugs the hell out of me. The first and last time she talked to us, I mean really said more than 4 words to us, was when she asked us to take down our wind chimes cause they made too much noise. It.was.one.frikkin.wind chime.... yeeeeeeeh well we took them down and put them up on the other side of the porch and she hasn't talked to us since. I mean we hardly ever see her. She only comes out doors to mow her grass and spray her pesticides and weedkillers and herbicides all along our shared fence line. She's not my favorite person on the block so bottom line I didn't want my girls to give her a reason to knock on our door and I definitely did not want them eating her pesticide riddle grass so yes, of course I would naturally have been eager to have them back where they belonged.

So supposedly this is how my 14 yr old spent 2 precious hours of her young life today:

B. went out to check on the chickens and to make sure they had plenty of water (it's been hellishly hot the last 2 weeks). B. saw only 3 of the 5 where they should be. After about 15 mins of walking through the garden and peeking into beds she heard clucking. She looked around and saw nothing but then she heard it again. She looked around some more and still saw nothing when suddenly out of the corner of her eye she saw a flash of yellow, turned her head and saw Lucy Loo (our Easter Egger) strolling casually up and down the fence line - on the other side of the fence - on neighbor lady's side of the fence. B. calls to Lucy. Lucy runs. According to B., Lucy doesn't casually stroll away - she takes off at a full run, squawking her head off the whole while. Lucy's partner in crime, Pasty Butt (Speckled Sussex and suspected rooster!), takes flight from a small stand of weeds along the fence (it's been too hot for neighbor lady to work in her yard the last 2 or 3 weeks) and joins Lucy on the lam. Once the alarm was sounded and the hunt was on those bitches were not going down without a fight! So off they go running across that woman's yard with B. in hot pursuit - it was 100 degrees out today ...

twenty minutes later ...

The poor kid is freaked out and calls D. hysterical and crying that mom was gonna kill her - she got the birds over the fence but she couldn't get them into the run. D. assures her she'll live and promises I won't kill her but that she needed to do her best to get them into the run.

Things quickly escalated with feathers flying and chickens clucking and my kid in tears. Between the two runaways and the high afternoon temps my poor baby was just run ragged. She finally gave up trying to get them into the run and called her dad who called my wonderful MIL to come around the corner and help out.

By the time I got a chance to talk to B. she had been pecked, she had been shit on twice, and had stepped barefoot into warm, mushy poo courtesy of her friend Pasty (at least that's who she's blaming!).
Needless to say after everyone finally got around to looping me in on all of the days' activities (gang o' folks imagined themselves dying at my hands today apparently) and after making sure all was well I found myself trying not to LMAO as my oh so tough girly girl held back tears over the 'poo pedi'.
She survived - I promised her a new pair of jeans from Old Navy and bye-bye tears! Today that was ok -she earned them today. :)

So I've decided it's time to do the unthinkable - I made an appt. with a local vet (recommended by my DMIL) who specializes in birds and fowl to come out and pay a house call and clip the girls' wings. I feel terrible about it but it's got to be done. I can't and don't want to keep them locked in their run all day. We have more than enough backyard for them to hang out without having to be caged and if having their wings clipped will let them have a little extra freedom I think it'll be worth it in the long run. The ladies will be happier if they can roam free back there - and B. will be happier knowing she won't have to run a chicken to ground! :)

8.07.2010

Sadly I haven't posted in a while. Things have been somewhat hectic around here. Actually let's be honest - my Facebook addiction has been consuming nearly all of my computer usage. I'm not proud. I have a problem. I must kick the FB habit! All is not lost however. When I'm not at work, cooking dinner or doing something or other with the family, knitting or pouring over seed catalogs I have been spending a lot of time building up my space out back.
I now have two more raised beds ready for a fall garden. The compost bin is in it's second year and coming along - hoping to get some get stuff out of there for the fall planting and the chicks are now 10 weeks old and outdoors. Pardon the cliche but they took to the coop like a duck to water!

I canned my first batch of pickles. Bread and butter of course. Easy peasy but they stunk to high heaven. Seriously stinky stuff but so worth it. Hubby is enjoying them and so am I - tempted to force feed 'em to the girls. I'm starting to find myself obsessed with getting them to try new foods. My little experiments seem to be going unnoticed (even by my other half!) but at 14 and 6 they have minds of their own and I can only 'hide' foodstuffs for so long before they figure out what stuff is - but hey if they want to not eat it because they never tried it and don't want to try it then they are free to go hungry because I don't get paid to cater meals! :)
Getting ready to try my hand at water canning some maters! You'd think it would cross my mind that 22 tomotato plants would produce a shit load of tomatoes and I'd have to do something with them - but yeah not so. I've harvested well over 35 lbs of fruit from the surviving 17 plants (unfortunately I lost a couple to blight with all of this wet and humid weather). That's in the past week and half. I still have the rest of the summer to go. I can only expect D. to eat so many in one sitting and try as we might we just can't consume it all so canning it is. Maybe a try to dry a few? Who knows. Sky's the limit - what we don't eat the chickens will be more than happy to take care of for us I'm sure. Waste is not on my list of things to do this summer so everything will find a place in the pantry or the compost or somebody's gullet one way or another.

So let's see - to date I have harvested 35+ lbs of tomatoes, close to 12 lbs of onions, a pound of garlic (only planted 12 bulbs), a little over 8 lbs of cucumbers, a few peppers (can't grow them to save my life for some reason!) and one annoyingly ginormous lemon yellow squash and only 2 8-ball squash. The last two only goes to show - this time last year I had squash out the yinyang but this year I can't get the buggers to put out jack crap and I planted out 3 plants this year - last year only 1! Gardening is nuts.