Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Let's EAT!


Here's a shot of our side dish last night sizzling in the frying pan! All from the garden...I love summer!

Also, we got two eggs today! I think it's Laverne and Lucinda that are our egg makers! Perhaps I should have named the others with "L" names? LOL! Here's a shot of all our eggs to date (laid out in chronological order, no less!).



These are sitting in a large egg carton to give you some scale. Of course, since these are first eggs, they are expected to be a bit small. I'm pretty sure the two light brown ones are from Lucinda and the dark brown are from Laverne.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Laverne Strikes Again!

After watching the chickens pretty closely this am, I have solved the mystery! Laverne is the egg layer! Laverne is one of our Rhode Island Reds...the larger of the two...(Shirley is the other one!). She was sitting inside the nesting pot (a large flower pot turned on its side...we're using it until we can build a proper nesting box) looking awfully suspicious then suddenly came out squawking and strutting around the coop like she was announcing something. I peeked inside the pot...and sure enough, there was an egg! Our second egg in as many days! It's a good sign for our layers!

For some reason, I expected our bossy hen, Amelia, to be the first to lay an egg. She's so round and fluffy and seemed to mature faster than the others. Perhaps she'll come on line in the next few days. So exciting! I just hope that we don't have anyone make a fuss about us having them as we're inside the city limits (got annexed in after we moved out here!). With an acre per house, they certainly shouldn't bother anyone. If any of you have had to "convince" neighbors of the benefits of backyard chickens, please pass along tips.

Friday, June 26, 2009

PAY DAY!!!!!!

I'm such a proud chicken mama! Look what my girls left in the corner of the coop for me today!!!



If you've been reading here for long, you know that this is their first egg...and it's a loooong awaited development on the OAH! If our chickens are good producers, we should be getting around 3-5 eggs per day within a month or so! I can't tell you how excited I was to see that tiny egg laying in the coop!



The chickens are now free grazing in the morning and evening. They seem to prefer their coop in the heat of the afternoon. I've seen a huge decrease in the amount of chicken feed they're consuming since they've been allowed to graze (it took awhile for us to work up the trust level...I needed to know that they wouldn't destroy my garden and they'd return to the coop easily when needed).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

One handful at a time....



Our blackberry bushes seem indestructible. They always look good, don't seem to have any pest problems, and just keep getting bigger. I really wish we'd planted more this spring, but now Atwoods is all out of them, so I'll just wait till next year.

Right now we're getting a handful of blackberries each morning and I'm keeping a bag in the freezer...just throwing them in a handful at a time. If any of you have wonderful blackberry recipes, please share them! I'm looking forward to these lovely berries becoming a bigger part of our summer diet every year!



Next time, I'll share a bit more about the ladies in the coop...stay tuned!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pot-A-to, Pot-ah-to...

We dug up our potatoes this morning because the tops were absolutely eaten ALIVE with potato bugs. Here's what the tops looked like:


Compare that with the photo I posted earlier this month:


If anyone has some organic solutions for potato bugs, I'm listening!

Anywho...here's the harvest this morning plus the remaining onions:


Anyone out there freezing potatoes? I'd love to hear your tips!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Could you pass me a tissue?

Take a gander at what I've been up to the last two nights:


Yup! Onions! LOTS OF ONIONS! I decided to go ahead and pull the remaining onions and freeze them. No one at my house will eat them raw, but we cook with them a lot, so freezing is perfect! I diced them into the size we generally prefer then slurped all the air out and froze them in the handy-dandy Food Saver bags to store in the freezer. (You don't need to blanch onions.)

I've still got 23 onions on the back porch waiting for their turn!

Your Freezer is Your Friend....

With garden harvests beginning to roll in, I started to weigh my options for preserving all this veggie goodness. I don't own a pressure canner (yet) and we are just beginning Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, so I won't be dropping $100 on one anytime soon. I DO own a deep freeze and a Food Saver! (Although my Food Saver is an older model than the ones shown here...these are pretty!)

When my carrot harvesting was complete this morning, I ended up with this:

I was pretty ecstatic, to say the least! This was my first year to successfully grow carrots!

After cutting off the tops (and giving them to the chickens) and scrubbing the carrots, I blanched them according to the directions found here.

The final yield was seven bags of carrots for the freezer!

I added a little pat of butter to some of these so we can just steam them right in the Food Saver bag in the microwave. Others I left without butter to use in soups and stews.

We did spare this carrot:

Which the girls named "THE CARROT MONSTER...MWAH-HA-HA!" They wanted to save it to show to their dad and play with it a bit! THE CARROT MONSTER gave us an opportunity to talk about how carrots solve the problem of hitting a rock under the soil. Good stuff!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Vermicomposting

Hmmmmm...it seems that my homesteading internal clock is all messed up! I USUALLY spend my winters dreaming of coming projects on the OAH...for some reason this summer, I find myself researching while I wait for the veggies and berries to start rolling in. Anywho, I'm thinking that if I can find the right kind of earthworms, I'm going to build my own vermicomposting bin soon. Our Oklahoma clay is desperately in need of enrichment and buying compost gets terribly expensive. I have a regular compost bin, but it takes ages to get fully cooked compost...I'll never get the dark, rich garden soil I so long for at this rate! Soooo...vermicomposting is my next experiment. I found a great website to get me started! Check it out over at You Grow Girl!

Filling in the Blanks....

There were a few little blank spots in the garden this week. Two of them resulted from seeds that never sprouted and four of them were from sweet peas that had stopped producing because of the heat. Now, we all know that blank spots are simply unacceptable in the garden, right? The little ladybugs and I headed into town to find something to fill in the blanks. Since we're planting a bit late in the season, I wanted to find well established plants...pricier, but worth it for me. We ended up at Home Depot and found zucchini, squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes. After a morning full of dirty fingernails, the garden is filled to the brim again!

Also, still no eggs...is it possible that I got bum chickens?? This wait is driving me crazy! Amelia has a full comb and wattle (sp?) so she should begin producing any day.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Beekeeping?

I'm interested in beekeeping, but I'm unsure of whether it is a viable option for us at this time. I worry about the kids getting stung, and I worry about those crazy African bees that swarm people and pets. With all this, I still find myself researching ways of beekeeping that might fit into our homestead lives. I came across this website & found it quite interesting. Hope you enjoy it, too.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Carrots, Potatoes, and Blueberries...







...OH MY! This has easily been my most successful garden year and I am loving it! The past two days I've put up green beans...decided to blanch and freeze them with my handy vacuume sealer. I put a pat of butter and some dill in each package so I can easily cook them later.

I dug up one garlic bulb to see if they are ready for harvest, but it looks like they need a bit to fill out.

Still no eggs...I check the coop everyday, but haven't seen any so far.
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