Monday, July 17, 2017

What's this antique apple?

Can anyone tell me what kind of apple we have? Our house was build in the mid-1930's and this tree is part of a planted line of apple trees that also includes Transparents and McIntosh. It is starting to ripen and comes about a month earlier than anything else on the property. My son and I basically had them for dinner tonight while outside.

 Flavor is a bit tart now but will get more "Red Delicious-like" the more ripe they get. The yellow will get a little lighter but keep the pink/red stripes. Any ideas?

We live in a part of PA that Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman) actually came through back in the day, isn't that neat? Not saying he had anything to do with my mystery apple but it's fun to dream.

Small, but we don't spray or prune.

More red/pink at the blossom end.

Ate part of this but it shows the colors well.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Big end of week post w pictures

It's been a busy last couple of days.  Time to write down some things that I want to remember.

In the garden:  have given up on weeding and got out the push mower this morning.  Looked much better immediately.  Who cares, as long as it gets done, right?  This is about 1/4 of the "summer" side of the garden.  Have eaten some tiny summer squashes - zucchini and patty pan.

Here's the progress on the garden tepee for the little man.  I've planted it with nasturtiums, morning glory, moon flowers and snow peas. 

I've also started seedlings for swiss chard and lettuces.  Stay tuned next week for a long walk-through post of what's growing.

Food Preservation:  Drying calendula, mint and chamomile.  Freezing blackberries and blueberries.  Canned 1 pt blueberries, 3.5 jelly jars of blueberry syrup for pancakes.

On the housewife/mom front:  Made the little man a cooking apron while he was sleeping.  Used a jumper for a rough "size/shape" pattern.  He's really into "choo-choos" right now.  Oh be still my heat.  It is so damn cute.

Jumper for size.  Finished apron below.

Been reading into the Montessori approach to childhood education, plus the fun Pinterest boards. Here we are learning to use a plastic knife to cut hard boiled eggs.  A knife?  He's not even 2? That's what I thought.  But given the chance to be a little grown up, with with real tools he did an excellent job.  We're working on cutting, transferring things to a bowl and using a masher.

We also re-did his room kinda Montessouri-style to make it really "his" - put his little sofa in there with books beside it, added a tiny rocking chair, put everything at his level including a floor bed. Minimized the toys. We call it his "little apartment" and he LOVES it.  Especially the floor bed -  he can, and DOES go crawl into it now when he is tired instead of having to wait for someone to figure it out and help him into his crib.  Doesn't mean he stays in it all night, but still - this is brilliant.

Started crafting a fabric scrap map, which has been tons of fun.  Requiring both a hot iron and sharp scissors, progress has been slow but the idea is to have a fabric map stretched over a frame to hang in the little guy's room. Happily chipping away at it.

Cooked a really excellent meal, leftovers really, and writing it down at the request of my husband. 

Meal #1. The first zucchini was picked along with a bunch of asparagus, these were sauteed with butter and lemon zest and set aside. The quinoa is from Aldi's. When the grains came off I added lemon juice and grated Parmesan.  The tilapia is just coated with flour and pan fried.

Meal #2 - the good one:  There was a grand total of maybe less than two cups of veg, grain and flaked fish left.  I combined that with a small handful of minced shrimp, more diced asparagus, lemon zest, pepper, Parmesan and an egg. A tiny bit of Old Bay. Worked a couple of spoons of flour in until I could form loose patties. Browned in butter they were crispy on the outside and tender when you bit through them, like a crab cake.  The vegetables gave a bit of crunch.  The sauce is just mayo, sriracha and worcestershire. These were damn good. Like, order it again at the restaurant good.

Poultry:  The quail are in the quail tractor.  
The duck that was attacked earlier in the week died two days later.
The fallout from this:
I've made an appointment to get that drake butchered next week. In addition to not protecting his ladies he has also, since then, STOMPED ON A NEST OF EGGS and injured my very last laying-aged female.  I've absolutely had it with him.  He's going along with a couple of roosters.  That leaves me with only two female ducks and a young drake. Having sold the Swedish two earlier in the spring the irony is not lost on me. BUT I am taking this as a sign to move to an all Pekin flock which will suit us more anyway.
I've been setting up the game camera every night trying to figure out what attacked us.  We are dealing with a minimum of two raccoons and one, possibly two foxes.

Yeah, you.  Asshole.

I still have a hard time believing that we weren't hit by loose dogs or coyotes.  I mean, ducks are kind of dumb but to hit FOUR in one night? I don't know.  You would think that whatever had a fun time/great meal would have come back for more and we would have gotten a picture by now.  Unless it was truly a raccoon/fox, who already hit us for one chicken earlier this summer. 

Called today and placed an order from Murry McMurry for the week of August 20th - including 12 Cornish Cross, 2 Speckled Sussex hens and 3 Wellsummers.  Now that I've lost all of my laying ducks I need to plan ahead for enough eggs for the family come spring.  Really wanted to get some heavier birds - Cochins or Brahmas - but they are sold out of damn near everything for the rest of the season.  Oh well.  At least we'll have eggs and more meat in the freezer. We do have the peeps that just hatched but I'm not willing to rely on them not getting killed too. 

Something good did come out of setting up the game camera:

Our three-legged doe is alive and well. I was worried about her when I didn't see her this spring but here she is.  She looks thin but this is her injured side and she's always looked like that. Maybe she had fawns somewhere else and is just coming around now, I don't know.  But it made me happy she's still with us. Here's a picture of her last fall, and some more game camera snaps.

Little guy just woke up so signing off.  Sorry for any typos.  Next week - garden tour, more canning.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Drying a bit

Trying to remeber to bring in a bit to dry now when I see it ready to be picked. The calendula I like to use fresh to decorate things like cakes, not sure what to do with it dried although I guess you can use it in place of saffron?  Chamomile for tea. The mint... I've been throwing whole sprays of this stuff into the bath at night. Very relaxing and makes the whole house smell lovely. Hoping to replicate this in the winter, maybe in sachets?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Self portrait with goose, naming dinner

Never thought I'd post pictures of myself on this little blog. Guess I'm coming out of the coop, so to speak. But some things are too fun to pass up, amiright?

Not eatin' this one, promise. Not at the moment anyway.

This is the female Super African goose of my sexed pair purchased this spring with my  Metzer's order. I haven't named either of them because I'm in charge of both the  butchering and the mercy killin' for this little family and so just don't name our birds. 

Exceptions being Nigel and my beloved Mr. Rooster.  Mr. Rooster was a pet and Nigel will be too if he plays his cards right.

But this isn't a petting zoo. Everyone has a purpose and sometimes that purpose is dinner. Then there are predator attacks like we had this week to contend with.  

The geese aren't pets although they sure are tame through no effort on my part.  Sure, I know that will change with breeding season but here's hoping - both that they have babies and don't try to kill me in the spring.

Anyone name their poultry or animals? Even though they usually don't die of old age?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Missing ducks

This morning I went out to find one of my Pekin ducks covered in blood * and the two runner ducks missing along with another female. I can't find them anywhere.

I washed her off as best I could and put blukote on the wounds.  She's missing a lot of skin on the back of her neck, front of her throat and along one hip. Just torn off skin. I didn't see puncture marks.

 I will admit to being super pissed that I'm down three females, might have to end up culling a fourth all the while the drake saunders in this morning like "hey, what's up? Breakfast time?" Thanks for doing your job and protecting your flock. Useless.

The only thing I've seen on the game camera is a raccoon and it wasn't even a big one. Would a single raccoon have done this?  To four birds? A dog? Do we possibility have a coyote?


* She died two days later.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Food x 3

Part 1)The little man and I spent the morning outside while it was still cool. There are wild black raspberries, currants and blueberries to be eaten. "Let's pick berries" I say, and off we go. If mama doesn't fork over berries fast enough he is now blazing a trail to pick them himself.

Part 2) Making friends with the geese. We gathered up weeds and fed them one stalk at a time through the fence.

Part 3) We are headed to a small party later tonight to celebrate a visit from out of town friends. Being a holiday weekend there was no way I was stepping foot in a grocery today. "To the garden" I said and over the fence we went.

Potato, chard, cabbage leaf, asparagus, favas, broccoli. Also a couple of eggs.

I was really stuck on how to turn that into a side dish to go with burgers and beer but this is what happened. At least it looks pretty. Hope it goes over ok.

I take tons of photos every day and would like to make it a goal to start posting more. The pain is that I will have to do it with my phone and the Blogger ap seems pretty worthless.  Expect some poor formatting and spelling in the meantime. Anyone have experience with the ap?

Friday, June 30, 2017

Our week in pictures

Oh, what happened this week? I love blogging because it gives me a chance to actually pause and think about that question instead of saying "oh, not much".  Also, it's good to record this stuff in case I ever need to produce an alibi.

Well, the weather's been crazy - cool then HOT with random downpours all week.  Tuesday, I think it was, we actually had a hailstorm.

Holy hail, people! Wish the little guy could have seen it but he was napping at the time.

Wednesday I sold these two runner ducks through Craigslist.  They were picked up by a dad and his daughter who actually have a group of runner ducks, but the drake was killed by a raccoon.  So now these two will have their own harem of ladies.  If they were ladies I would have kept them but they were dudes, so off they go. And if the family was lying and actually was going to eat them, they were very expensive sandwiches.  I think it's safe to say they weren't getting butchered.

Wednesday evening was a Thai cooking class with some friends.  We had a lovely time and the food was delicious.  A shrimp curry, coconut rice, pineapple mango salsa and cucumber salad.  Ironically, the cucumber salad was made the exact way my grandparents used to make it and they were not Thai.  My grandfather's people were from eastern Europe and my grandmother is southern.  Hmm.  Maybe cucumber salad is just one of those universal foods?

Today I saw something I've never seen before, which is always a treat.  Went to the feed store where I found this beauty as I was waiting for my feed to be loaded.  It was HUGE and very fuzzy.  Google tells me that it's an Imperial Moth.

Went to some yard sales on the way to the feed store and came home with treasures (in my opinion anyway).

This woven rug was free at an Amish sale.  Was going to put it in the camper but maybe the kitchen?  The colors are lovely.

Be still my heart.  This is getting packed away until the the little guy is older.  Oh, I am in love.

All of the rain and heat has been good for the gardens.  Here are some pictures

Onions, potatoes, squash, brussel sprouts, cannas, toddler.

Fava beans - when am I supposed to pick these???  The beans inside are still tiny.

The rest of the vegetable garden is only creeping along but we'll get there. I need to remind myself that everything got planted later this year and to be patient. Things will grow.

Except for possibly my beans and peppers which were partially eaten by deer last night. We have 5 acres and they have nothing better to do than eat my transplants. Damn deer. I will remember this offence when it's time to buy a hunting license. 

Does anyone know what the beautiful silver plant is on the right?  It's a perennial and does not flower.  Not lavender but kind of looks like it.

Hostas.  They're so pretty.

The little guy just woke up so time to hit "post".  Here's to another week ahead.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Anniversary weekend

This weekend was our anniversary.  We went to the the Cleveland Museum of Art to see the Alex Katz show, which was terrific.  Afterwards we had dinner at L'Albatros, which is the kind of establishment which is both fancy and expensive enough to make a person forget they have adult responsibilities and obligations, which I guess is the whole point.   

A view of Lake Erie.

Friday, June 23, 2017

End of week - quail, camping, berries, garlic scapes

I am exhausted and ready for bed but wanted to get some of this into my notes so I don't forget later on.  Because I will, otherwise.  I have both the memory and attention span of a rock.

  • Red Ranger hen had babies.  One of her eggs in the incubator hatched and I put the chick under her tonight.  I hope that she doesn't notice anything in the morning in spite of the fact that it's yellow and the other ones are black.  Here's hoping she mothers it and doesn't kill it.
  • I butchered two of the younger Red Ranger roosters this week. I'm sure Jamie Oliver thought he was doing a good thing when he showed the world how to make chicken nuggets at home but I'm pretty sure we're just going to end up gaining weight.  If you raise the chicken and make the nugget, does that make it health food?
  • The quail hatched yesterday - 35 peeps so far from 40 eggs.  We had friends over for dinner while they were hatching in the kitchen, so that was fun. They are so tiny they I was using beer caps for little waterers until they got interested in the quail waterer.

One day I will post a photo where my hand doesn't look fat.  Good Lord.

  • Moved the geese and ducks into the back coop area.  Didn't think I had that many waterfowl until they were all together in the same place. Umm.... yeah... that's a lot of birds. Wow.  I think I just solved the raccoon problem by increasing the noise level 10 fold.

  • Berries are in.  Currants are being picked and wild black raspberries (the tiny ones) are ripening all over the place.  We've been having both in salads and in pancakes.  There are still tons of wild strawberries but we are no longer eating them because the neighborhood cats have taken to peeing all over my berry patch.  Seriously.  It's depressing and awful.

Pre-goose relocation.
  • I have a ton of garlic scapes and don't know what to do with them.  People have suggested a garlic scape pesto.  They seem like they would be wonderful cooked somehow, steamed maybe. They are beautiful and remind me of asparagus both visually and texture-wise.  I bit into one and, yep, garlic.  I would love some ideas on what to do with these.
Fun personal stuff:
  • WE WENT CAMPING.  Took the camper to a State Park by our house for a test night.  Everything went perfectly and now we think we're ready for a bigger trip.   
  • Tips for taking a not yet two year old camping include:  Took the pac-n-play to contain him while we set up camp.  I bought a bag of little toys at the dollar store for him to play with when we got there (tiny dinosaurs, magnifying glass, bug net, etc.) - this was brilliant, cost under $10 and entertained him all day. Brought along a copy of Goodnight Gorilla.  I also made a hand-washing station with a water jug so we could wash hands right at the table, that was priceless.

Camper was very comfortable and more spacious than we thought it would be, even during the brief rainstorm.  We had the oldest camper at the park by a loooong shot.  Also the coolest looking one.

Next time I need to remember that the front bed is a twin but the back one is NOT - I need to find sheets to fit - maybe a double?

It's been a very busy and satisfying week.  Hope the next one is just as good. Yay summer!