Friday, July 3, 2015

You Gotta Love a Funky Hat...

I've been working on a few knitting projects that are taking a while, so as a quick project to break the tedium I worked up a very fast knit.  This pattern is called The Better Bucket, and is available as a free pattern on Ravelry.com.  I made it up out of a cotton-wool blend (80% cotton) which is quite lovely--and quite the bright pink color!  It's a nice floppy bucket-style hat, perfect for puttering in the garden or sunning at the beach.  I think I may add a large funky button for decoration.  I mean, a bright pink hat just cries out for a funky button, don't you think?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Clearing the Freezer

It's nearly time to buy in some fresh fruit from the local farmers market, but first, I need to make room in the freezer.  Its surprising how much I can tuck away in there...and then completely forget about.  I am ashamed to say I found a giant bag of frozen blueberries...from three years ago.  Ugh.  Don't eat them, people.  Toss! Toss!

But I did have a good supply of fruit from last summer, so I've been working through making a variety of preserves.  So far, I've made Honey Spiced Blueberry Jam, Blueberry Lime Jam, and "normal" Blueberry Jam.  I've also made a batch of Cranberry Ketchup, which smells really delicious.  I think after it settles and mellows for a couple weeks, it will be a fantastic sweet-tart savory sauce perfect for summer barbeque toppings.
I've found a few strawberries tucked away, just enough for a batch of Strawberry Lime Jam and a homemade galette that smells of summertime.  After that, I just need to figure out what to do with the currants and black raspberries I have stashed in there.  And then, all the fruit in my garden can ripen and/or appear at the farmers market, and find a home in my freezer.  This year, I'm thinking I need to get some peaches for sure.  I think, however, I'll give the box of blueberries a miss.  If I do get some, it'll only be a few pounds-worth and I'll not hide them in the back of the freezer again!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Fun with Yogurt

I was recently gifted an older yogurt maker by a good friend, and I finally decided to give it a try.  It's surprisingly easy to make your own yogurt.  All you need is milk, and some leftover yogurt to add to it.
All you need to do is measure out your milk (I used about half of a half-gallon of milk per 5 jar batch), and heat it to the boiling point.  Then, you let it cool down and add the yogurt, whisking it in well.
Fill the jars and pop on the lids, and place in the yogurt maker for about four hours.  The yogurt will thicken up to the consistency of thick cream, and then you chill it (it'll thicken more as it cools).  And there you have it, easy homemade yogurt.  While I don't have my own dairy animal yet, I can buy a quart or so of organic, local milk and make fresh yogurt whenever I need some.  Plus, you can strain the yogurt overnight through cheesecloth and make a delicious, tangy homemade cream cheese.  Now THAT I am looking forward to trying.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Rootings





I think of this small window as my "sprouting window".  I put my jars and glasses of various cuttings into it, to root in water.  Most recently, I've added some extra big suckers from the Gardeners' Delight and Orange Banana tomatoes.  I read somewhere that you can root these cuttings, and then plant them to grow additional (and later cropping) tomatoes.  I have a little bit of room, and a few extra five gallon buckets, and I'm thinking that if this works, I can grow some more tomatoes in either the hoop house or pop-up greenhouse.  I don't know how much of a crop I will get before the cold weather arrives in the fall, but as I would only have composted these, it's kind of a fun project to try.  Hopefully, they root quickly because its rather a jungle over there in the window!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Pea Blossom Time


My purple-podded peas and Champion of England peas are setting lots of blooms (and lots of pods), finally.  It always seems to take such a long time for them to get to this point...but shortly, I'll be slathered with fresh peas for dinner.  And lunch...and assorted snacks.  I think I'm going to have lots of peas.  That's a good thing, as I love a fresh pea, straight out of the pod.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Hen Run Re-do

The run is ready for the chicks, whenever they decide to venture out and explore.  On the south side of the Big Coop, I've used deer netting which is a very fine plastic mesh.  But under the canopy of the remaining box elder tree, I've strung twine across in a zig-zag pattern.  Onto those strings, I've tied colorful tie-dye jersey cloth strips (which lend it a very festive gyspy-sideshow kind of air) which dangle and sway in the breeze.  It's enough movement to keep creatures from above, out, and creatures down below, in.  It gives the sensation that there is a "roof" above, so why bother trying to fly up and out, or down and in?

The run gets much more sunlight in the afternoons than it used to, so I'm going to add a couple solid "table" type structures, to add shade bits and provide areas that will stay fairly dry and perhaps can become sand beds for dust bathing.  I also need to roll a stump or two in there, to add elements of fun--plus, they can get rolled over from time to time and behold, there shall be bugs!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Who's Who

Now that the Silver Penciled Rock chicks are six weeks old, it's getting easy to tell them apart.  Not only to the cockerels have much fiestier temperments than the young pullets, but their coloring is distinctive.
This is a pullet.  You can see the classic black-and-grey pencil feathers, typical of the breed.  It's similar to the Barred Rock pattern, but more distinctive (which is hard to see in this photo--they are always moving around!)
And this, while blurry, is the cockerel coloration.  You can see it's much more black overall, with the start of a silver "saddle" in the center of the back.  Really, it's very pale silver, not white.  I can't wait to see it grow in, it's going to be so impressive!

I've done a count, and I have five pullets (yay!) and seven cockerels (oh geez...)  I think I've decided which cockerel gets to stay with the ladies; out of the seven, six have varying degrees of aggressive behaviors, including two which seem to delight in biting me when I go in.  The seventh one is absolutely sweet, very gentle, stands off to the side and observes before going in for a nosh.  I don't think he's ever bitten me, so that's a serious point in his favor.  I have time yet to decide, but right now the odds are in his favor.