Saturday, December 12, 2009
My flock of chickens has prepared for his coming by moulting in October to replace the feathers Khan (former rooster, now organically merged with the forest), removed during his lustful moments. I now have a total of 41 hens, and two roosters. They are learning to fluff up their built-in down jackets as they roost for the night. The Cochins have become popular roost partners as they are very fluffy. Last night as I went in to turn off their light and do a head count, one of the Aracaunas actually had her head buried in the poofy feathers of Broody, (Partridge Cochin). It wasn't even that cold! (13 degrees F)
We now have about 5 inches of snow on the ground. It is nice to walk around the fields and woods and see the different sets of tracks in the snow. I am amazed at how busy one squirrel can be!
A flock of sparrows, (English, I believe), has discovered that the Green Barn is a great place to get out of the weather. Bishop the Barn Cat has taken a great interest in hanging out in the barn as well. Hmm, I sense a connection here.
I forgot to bring in the last three pumpkins of the season and they have frozen in the barn. I wonder if I can still salvage some golden puree from them? You know I'm gonna try!
I managed to seal up 27 bottles of home-made vanilla today. Ruth and I will decide to whom we will give a little Holiday cheer. I know, I am going to randomly draw a name from all who comment here and send you a bottle of my vanilla. If you read this boring post, you deserve a chance at something of interest. I will draw a name next Saturday.
As I sit here typing, I am losing the fading light of today and will not get photos if I don't get out there. OK, I just decided that I am going to post a no-photo update today.
Thanks for reading today. I hope you are having a great day.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
These are called sugar pumpkins. They are small and easy to work with. Apparently they are one of the best pumpkins to use for baking. I harvested some French pumpkins and will give them a few more weeks before I see how they look inside.
Step 1: wash your pumpkins.
Step 2: cut the pumpkins into smaller pieces for cleaning and cooking. Keep the seeds for baking and also for planting some of the seeds next spring. To preserve for next spring, wash the seeds and let them dry. Place into paper envelopes and store in a canning jar in a cool dark place.
Step 3: Scrape out all the stringy gook. My chickens didn't like the gook.
Step 4: Cook the pumpkin. You can microwave it, steam it, or bake it. I baked it for an hour in Le Creuset pans with lids on. Put 2 cups of water in the pans. Bake at 350F (200C).
Step 5: After washing the seeds, dry them thoroughly. Spread them on a baking sheet, add 3 T melted butter, garlic to taste, 2 T Worcestershire sauce, salt to taste, stir into the seeds. Bake at 275F until golden brown. (about 15 minutes, check and stir often!)
Step 6: After the pumpkin has baked and is cooked, place into a colander and allow to cool so you can peel it.
Step 7: After peeling, puree it by whatever method you prefer. I used a hand mixer and finished it off in the blender. Place the puree into freezer bags. I measured out 1 1/2 cups per bag, as that is how much Ruth needs for her pies.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I am thinking about next year and what the garden will produce. If you have something you grew this year and want to recommend, please let me know. I may name the raised bed after you!
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I have been busy this summer getting my daughter married off on the farm. Then I jumped back into my routine of spending a lot of time in August getting ready for the new school year. Add to that a new computer and a more complex waay of getting Ruth's photos, and I have fallen off the blog cliff.
I miss all of my blog pals!
Green Barn Update
- I have 44 hens busily laying eggs and eating grass. You can see from my sidebar the different breed I have. I have opinions about breeds and which ones I would recommend, but you don't want to hear that now.
- I don't have any roosters now. I am not sure if I will ever have one again, but never say never.
- I have seven turkeys. I had to butcher one that got injured. After spending two hours doing that job, I am definitely happy to pay the local butcher $7.00 to do that. I have an appointment on November 25 to have the remaining seven "processed."
- My garden has done a great job! We have been eating lots of sweetcorn, tomatoes, green beans, peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, fried green tomatoes and various herbs.
- I just received my order of garlic bulbs to plant soon. If you live in a cold climate, order your garlic NOW and get it planted around the time of your first frost.
- My pumpkin production is way down! I have about a dozen pumpkins in various stages and none of them look all that great. Did anyone have good luck with pumpkins this year?
- I have several piles of chicken coop bedding composting away right now. I am planning on giving them a few more turns and then I will cover all my beds with about six inches of it and till it in for the winter. I would be happy to give you a bushel or two of coop bedding! C'mon out and get it. BYOBB (bring your own bushel baskets)
- If anyone is planning on a Hawaii cruise between now and next summer, my son is playing his guitar on the Princess cruise! Let me know and I can hook you (or your cute daughter) up with him! ;)
- I have vanilla still brewing in the cupboard. I ordered cute little amber bottles to put it in. Nice gifts!!
- Another Green Barn gift (hopefully) will be popcorn. I have about 100 popcorn stalks out there and it looks like a bumper crop! I hope to fill pint jars with it. Stay tuned.
- Maybe I need to have a November drawing and give some vanilla and popcorn away.
- I love beets! I grew one row and they went absolutely nuts. I cooked them and canned them and wish I had five rows. No, I won't give this away.
I need to go blog visiting. I hope to see you soon on your blog!
Sunday, August 9, 2009
We had a wedding last Saturday. Our daughter married a wonderful young man from Texas. If you have been involved with weddings, you know there are a gazillion details that need to be dealt with and another fifty that you will miss. However, the wedding was beautiful, fun and full of love, family and friends. Despite the rain, ( it started ten minutes before the ceremony and ended about fifteen minutes after the ceremony), we had a grand time.
We wandered around the farm, playing with the chickens and turkeys, sitting around cute tables supported by straw bales, sipping glacier water, home-brewed beer, two buck chuck, and I think there was a clandestine bottle or two of Highland Park going around. Before dinner, we had hors d'oeuvres to nibble on while we chatted and watched the bridal party get all the photos snapped.
We had a lot of help getting ready. You need to go see my wife's blog Synchronizing, to get a better overview.
Bride with papa
I planted a lot of sunflowers around the farm to give it a good old country feeling. These were planted to be the backdrop for the wedding ceremony
The green barn makes a nice backdrop for our family and friends who came to celebrate and witness Lesley's and Brian's vows. People travelled from Idaho, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Alaska, New York, Ohio, and of course, Michigan.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
After pouring in the vodka, I needed to find a nice, dark cupboard in which to store these jars for at least six weeks. I take them out three or four times each day and give them a good shaking. I found a web site that sells four ounce amber jars. Sometime in August, I'll strain the vanilla extract and pour it into the small jars. I luckily have a live-in artist who might be cajoled into coming up with a label for the jars. In the meantime, I will start making my gift list. Hmmmm, who has been naughty this year?
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I am planning on getting back into gear. I need to get caught up with all of my great blogger pals.
I just took 28 chickens to my (my?) Amish butcher up near Gladwin, MI. His wife and children do all of the work with the butchering. I wish I had taken some pics, but I think they wouldn't have liked it so much. The Amish farm has some modern additions, like a big diesel engine that runs a de-feathering device, but for the most part, the Weavers live pretty true to their convictions. They charged me $1.50 per bird to do the complete butchering process. They also cut them up, as many of the birds were too large for the gallon freezer bags.
I have another thirty broilers going to the butcher on June 26. Looks like we'll be making lots of chicken and noodles and chicken salad sandwiches!
I hope they are tender! The six month old roosters I butchered last fall were very tough!
Broody is back at it. Tomorrow is hatch day. I can hear peeping coming from the eggs, so I think we (she) will have some success. I made the mistake of leaving her nest in the coop, and she has gone from the original 8 eggs, to an astounding 38 eggs. I am sure they won't all hatch, but to help Broody with the hatching, another partridge cochin has been sitting alongside her for the past week to make sure the eggs all get good coverage. I don't know what will happen when the eggs hatch. Who will get to be the mom?
I am rambling away here.
My veg garden is starting to look like a garden. Practically everything is up and growing! Some of the seeds I planted didn't germinate, so I will have to make do without some things, mostly squash and chives.
The blackberries are going absolute bonkers. I can't believe how many canes I have and they are all loaded with flowers.
OK, I have to go out and do some chores, but I am going to post this boring thing anyway.
Thanks for reading this far!
Sunday, May 17, 2009
That sounds really crass! I predator-proofed the middle section of my barn this past week and moved 45 chickens and 7 turkeys in, (all of them about five weeks old). They were a little overwhelmed with all of the space at first, but are now happily nosing around in all of the new corners.
The white birds in the photo below are the cornish X breed. These guys are twice as large as the red broilers I am experimenting with. I have heard that the red broilers are tastier, even though they don't grow as quickly as the cornish chicks. I bought the red broilers from Ideal Poultry, and they are growing well. I am going to try to give them a little outside time and see how they like that. Last fall, I butchered out some extra, (annoying) six month old roosters, and they were as tough as shoe leather. I think the free-ranging gave them a little too much body-building time.
Don't look closely at the chicken wire! I discovered that I am really bad at getting it straight. After I made that discovery, I started to not care too! So, the coop is secure, but certainly not a mona lisa. (This is a short-term coop anyway!) There, that makes me feel better.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
So, imagine my surprise when I found a Craig's List posting with Blue Slate turkey eggs for sale. I contacted the owner and he ended up giving them to me as I am using them with my students. I now have seven turkey chicks in the coop, and 16 Blue Slate Turkey eggs in the incubator. Hatch date is May 20.
If I get a decent hatch rate from these turkey eggs, I will have more turkeys than I planned on having! They will probably not have too much difficulty in finding a Thanksgiving dinner invitation.
I candled several of the eggs last night and they looked like they were doing ok. So, I guess there are some domesticated turkeys that can still do the hokey pokey.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
I planted tomatoes, lettuce, pole beans, pumpkins and loads of coleus, ranunculus and sunflowers. I am going to get some other things started in the next week and move things in and out of some cold frames I have in my brain.
Plant Growing Cart
I did a little research on this tomato and discovered that it is one of the tastiest, but also one of the most mysterious. Apparently an Ohio man inherited some seeds from a lady whose family had grown them for almost 80 years, and he is credited as the one who preserved this variety. But there are many varieties of tomatoes that call themselves "Brandywines" and some are excellent and some are not. I hope I have the excellent ones! (duh)
I am looking forward to (my) still-warm-from-the sun, garden-fresh, sliced tomatoes with hot, buttered sweet corn. I might toss in a Wisconsin bratwurst to make it a complete summerfest.
A Rose is a Rose
Julie King and Ruth both had the same idea for a name, and I felt like the name Rose was a great fit for this Black Minorcan hen. Julie, if you read this, I am planning on sending you some sort of prize, (if you are interested in receiving some sort of prize, email me with your address!!).
Sunday, April 12, 2009
This is where the wedding ceremony will take place. I am planting several hundred sunflowers as an additional backdrop. The Yucca is moving. Any takers?
Wedding to-do list: (not in order of priority, Ruth will do that in a minute)
3) other things I can't think of right now
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
My wife claims I was a farmer's wife in a previous life. I make artisan breads, I can or freeze everything I grow, I preserve four kinds of jams and jellies, I raise up baby chicks . . . and I love every minute of it.
It might be as mystical as a past life, or it may be as simple as following a trail.
My grandpa (Guy) was born in 1898 on a farm in Pennsylvania, USA. He was one of twelve boys. He decided early on that he wanted to build things, so he did. He worked on some pretty cool buildings in his day, from the tank plant in Warren, Michigan, during WW2 to Cobo Hall in downtown Detroit. During the hardest days of the Great Depression, Guy never forgot his family, and never forgot his farming roots. He would take my 8-year-old father with him, drive out to a local pig farm, buy ten feeder pigs, load them into the trunk of his car, and drive all over Michigan dropping the pigs off at his brothers' farms. In exchange for Guy buying the piglets and grain, he would return later in the year and receive part of the harvest: corn for feeding his city flock of chickens, wheat for grinding into bread, and best of all, several hundred pounds of home grown pork. My father has lots of childhood memories of not only helping out with the butchering, but holding half a hog in the back seat of his dad's Buick all the way home.
My father (Lawrence) carried on the traditions of his father, except for the pigs. He also became a builder. He built department stores, shopping centers and factories all over the American Midwest. As he built stores, at home he built gardens. He was a master gardener and preserver. I have years of memories of my dad peeling and chopping, canning and freezing. Everything from tomatoes to green beans. If he picked it, he canned it. He even had a small flock of chickens, which he skillfully butchered himself. He would share his eggs, meat and vegetables with needy folks at church or in the neighborhood. At the age of 80, Lawrence is still tending a garden in northern Michigan, and among other good deeds, he gives ten bushels of apples each fall to a large family, who wouldn't get fruit otherwise.
The trail I follow is well-marked.
Even though I was mostly raised in cities, I have a strong and undeniable urge to grow my food and preserve it for winter months. Even though I am not a builder of structures, I am a builder of a different sort. (I help build kids in my third grade classroom.) My goals for this year on our small farm include: raising at least sixty meat birds (chickens and turkeys), maintaining a flock of thirty-five layers, and growing a large variety of fruits and vegetables on my five acres. But I hope to do more.
One of my nephews has four children and they have a standing order for ten meat birds whenever I get a batch of chicks. I hope to expand that to other family members. I also have over thirty customers for my farm-fresh eggs, (and I can't keep up with them presently). I am planning on raising twelve turkeys this year. I want to keep a cool-looking pair around to give the farm a "farmy" feeling, but will butcher out the rest to give to family members and friends for their Thanksgiving feast. I also want to give a few turkeys and chickens to some local families. We have a local food cupboard that allows folks in the area to come in and receive food and clothing at no charge, and I plan on furnishing it with as much as I can spare.
I am just getting started on the farm and welcome any ideas you all may have on how to not just provide for my family, but also give to people who can use a little sharing in my local area.
What part do you play?
Saturday, March 28, 2009
The above photo is of my Black Minorcan hen. She doesn't have a name. If you have a suggestion, please let me know and I will select it from all the entries I receive this week. If I have difficulty deciding, I will let you vote on it next week. This is a really nice hen. She is friendly, let's me pick her up, and best of all, lays a big white egg just about every day. She also has a man-sized comb and red hangy things! (commonly known as wattles, OK, that's not all that common of a word.)
This Week's Theme
I have been challenged to be a much better caretaker of everything around me, from my lovely wife and children, to the things I am accumulating, and to this great planet we live on.
One way I am working on taking care of my share is to produce food right here on our little farm. We have a vegetable garden in the works, and I plan on growing a nice variety of things to eat. If I can keep the wattles out of the raised beds, we should have some measure of success.
Another way is through the raising of hens for eggs, and meat birds for... meat. Earlier in the year I posted about Broody, my Partridge Cochin, and how she hatched out seven chicks in the dead of winter. A few weeks after that, I hatched out 22 "store bought" chicks for a science project at my school. This hatching out of chicks has got me thinking about how I can perpetuate a solid flock that can keep me and my friends in eggs, as well as produce enough meat so I don't ever buy chicken from the store. I wonder if it is possible to manage a flock that will hatch out enough quality chicks to keep the eggs and meat going, without ordering chicks from a hatchery? I am assuming that I will occasionally need to add a rooster to the mix who has good genetic stock to keep my layers of choice "happy." I like the idea that my hens can hatch out their own heirs, and that my flock can take on a life of its own.
This is a photo of Khan, the father of Broody's brood.
Our lights are going out in a few hours. I hope you all had, or will have, a chance to participate in Earth Hour. The only light I will leave on is the heat lamp for the chicks.
If you are growing vegetables, what are you looking forward to the most? I think I am looking forward to the whole process of gardening. The idea of starting my own seeds, using grow lights, building cold frames, raised beds and mini polytunnels, having a Three Sisters garden and eating veggies that are still warm from the sun are all contributing to me looking forward to spring more than I ever have.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Hybrid seeds got their start in the 1920's by a man named Henry Wallace, a professor at the University of Iowa, who founded a seed company called The Hi-Bred Corn Company. This company later became Pioneer Hi-Bred Seed Company, a subsidiary of DuPont Chemical Company. Wallace wanted to help out with the food supply and had the idea to create a corn that would grow prolifically and provide an abundance of food for America and the world. It is interesting to note that Wallace later became the Secretary of Agriculture under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Wallace became Vice President under Roosevelt from 1940-1944. Friends in high places? I digress...
Hybrid seeds are created by finding parent plants that have the desired traits for the hybrid seeds and then, they are matched to produce the seeds. Farmers were convinced to buy these seeds in order to produce higher yields, and they did. Before this new "technology" farmers would save enough seeds from their crops to replant their fields the next year. The new hybrids began a cycle forcing farmers to purchase new seeds each year, as they could no longer keep seeds due to the nature of the hybrids.
Not only were farmers buying hybrid seeds, but the nation's gardeners began doing likewise. These varieties were selected for their productivity, their ability to withstand mechanical picking and cross-country shipping, and their tolerance to drought, frost, or pesticides. One of the traits of hybrid seeds is they are "high response" seeds. They require a lot of fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and a great deal of water to achieve their high yields. This is how the chemical companies got involved in the farmyard. If you'll recall, Wallace's seed company is now owned by DuPont Chemical. Another well-known chemical giant, Monsanto, the world's largest hybrid seed company, also is the creator and producer of Roundup, and is the leader in bovine growth hormones.