Sunday, June 26, 2011

Vegetable Garden Updates

     The vegetable garden is growing along despite the raining and chilly weather we've been having. I also lost two  tomato seedlings to hook worm, which was very disappointing. I replaced them with two tomatillo plants that my mom bought, so hopefully those are spared. The peas actually have pods on them and will be ready any day now.

The herbs are filling out nicely. I've already picked some to cook with.

Roma Tomato
Vermont Cranberry Beans
New England Pie Pumpkins
Waltham Butternut Squash
Green Beans
Moskvich Tomato
Red Pear Cherry Tomato

A New Napping Spot for the Chickens

    Although they don't want to let me get a good picture of it, the chickens have decided that in the flower garden, under the hosta is a great napping spot. They're so cute all snuggled up together. They're about nine weeks old, and I'm still thinking one might be a rooster (it's the only one with a big comb and some green tail feathers). I've switched them to organic grower feed, which they are supplementing with bugs and the wild strawberries that grow all over the lawn.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

And Then There Were Five. . .

     I'm sad to say we've lost a chicken. I'm assuming it was some sort of predator (maybe a fox?), but I didn't actually see it happen. I was in our garage and heard some serious squawking coming from the outside, so I went out and saw the girls running across the yard a toward the road. My first priority was to get them away from the road. When that was done I did a count and there were only five. I assumed the sixth one had just toddled off into the woods, so I went to look for her. After a while of looking, she was still no where to be found. So now we're down to five. My husband weed whacked some of the bushes bordering the yard to give predators less space to hide near the coop, but there's really only so much we can do. Hopefully, this was a one time thing.

    Speaking of chicken, I made a yummy chicken in the crock pot this Sunday. It's was 4.5lb chicken with about 1/2cup of chopped onion in the cavity. Then I rubbed a tablespoon of butter on the outside of the bird and sprinkled paprika and some chopped parsley from the garden on top, along with the juice of one lemon. I cooked it in the crock pot for 4-5hrs. It was delicious, but as is always the case with chicken in the crock pot (at least in my experience), the chicken totally falls apart when you try to take it out of the crock. This worked out the next day though, when I used the left over shredded chicken to make pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Own Meyer Lemons!

I can't wait to harvest these lemons!

Peach Cobbler and Lettuce Soup

     Even though I didn't get to do much in the garden this weekend because of the rain, I did get to harvest some Rouge D'Hiver lettuce and basil from my garden today to make lettuce soup. I got the recipe from a blog called "The Nourishing Gourmet". Click here to get the recipe. The soup is delicious and easy to make. Other than the lettuce and potatoes, the recipe also calls for 1/4 cup of basil and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, which gives the soup a nice zing. I only had a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar left (who runs out of balsamic vinegar?) so I had to substitute the rest with sherry vinegar. Like the spinach zucchini soup, this soup is a good way to get your greens without having to munch on salad all the time.

Lettuce Soup
     I'm also including a recipe for peach cobbler in this post, partly because mine came out so awesome looking (and tasting), and partly because cobbler is a great summer recipe. I got this cobbler from Heather Van Vourous' website. Click here for the recipe. It's super sweet and dairy free for those of you who are lactose intolerant.

Peach Cobbler

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Vegetable Garden Grows, The Chicks Roam, and The Dogs Get a Bath

Vermont Cranberry Beans
The first week of June was full of action in the vegetable garden. The Rouge d'Hiver heirloom lettuce is almost ready to pick for salad mix and I set up some supports for the peas, which are growing nicely. Green beans, Vermont cranberry beans, zucchini, butternut squash, pie pumpkins, and sunflowers have all popped up through the soil. I also purchased a few herb plants that are now residing in a container (basil, parsley, oregano, chives, rosemary).

Rouge D'Hiver Lettuce

Basil, Oregano, Parsley
    I broke my vow to buy no more seeds for the rest of the summer and bought a "Save the Bees Mix" packet of mixed flower seeds that, you guessed it, are supposed to attract bees. They're also pretty and will be good for cutting. I picked the seeds up on an whim while I was at Paris Farmer's Union buying tomato cages. I have two Romas in containers and six other tomato seedlings, four Moskvitch and two Red Pear heirloom cherry tomatoes. I also put one eggplant seedling in the same bed; luckily, the weather is supposed to be warm for the rest of the week, giving those nightshades a boost. The tomatillo seedlings looked a little iffy today, which bums me out because my mom has a killer salsa verde recipe I was hoping to make with my own tomatillos; maybe they'll recover.

Moskvich Tomato

Hopefully, these seedlings will fill out the tomato cages.
     The chickens are being their usual cute and amusing selves. I gave them a ton of free-range time this weekend, and have been letting them roam for a few hours before dark, after I get home from work during the week. I had a little scare when I noticed that only one of the chickens seemed to be growing a large comb on the top of it's head. I was worried she was going to turn out to be a rooster, but now I think the others are just a little behind. I couldn't find any definitive tests online to tell if she was a she or a he, but one site did say that by ten weeks it should be obvious if a chicken is a rooster. They are six weeks now so I should know for sure in about a month. If she does turn out to be a Rooster, I'll have to get rid of him, whether it's into my freezer or to another home. I don't have a separate place to put a rooster and I don't think my neighbors would appreciate the noise. 

     Finally, one of the "highlights" of the weekend was giving the dogs their summer bath. They don't particularly like it. Actually, they hate it and aren't at all cooperative about the whole process; there's lots of dragging and carrying of dogs, who alternate between being dead weight and 60lbs of struggling furry fury.  Thankfully, I have my husband to help, since it's definitely a two person job (one holds, one washes). We all end up drenched by the end of it and my shower gets clogged with hair, but we come out with clean doggies. Of course they give us the silent treatment and angry glares for a few hours, but they get over it. 

The Snuggler- Post Bath
     Between chickens, doggies, and veggies, I've got my hands full. I can only imagine what full-time farming will be like.