7.31.2011

Animal Antics

Yesterday, we got this picture from our neighbor Sam while I was on a trip and unable to be the Chicken Chaser... Why did the chickens cross the road? To go visit their old sisters on the other side! (Yeah, we need to get that fence built). Thankfully it was early in the morning and no cars were going down the road.
Don't you just love animal antics? Punkin was especially silly the other day trying to get into this box of pasta... She did succeed at getting every single noodle out of the box, but I didn't get that in the video...

7.29.2011

Garden At The End Of July

I spent this morning tying up tomato plants and staking peppers and eggplants. I made a big mistake this year and crowded my plants too much, so they are all starting to grow REALLY tall because they are fighting for sunlight. At least that seems to be the problem in one bed. Notes for next year, DO NOT plant stuff so close together, namely tomatoes and eggplants, and DO NOT plant any pumpkins. Oh the pumpkins... They are taking over. Run for your lives!!!! No seriously, they are ridiculous, and I am contemplating pulling them out simply so I can walk through the garden and maybe plant some other fall veggies that will serve more purpose. They are going through the fence into the neighbor's yard (not like they would notice since they don''t take care of their yard anyhow) and I keep trimming them back, so I doubt I will get any actual pumpkins anyways. Anyone up for a seed swap??? Just leave me a comment and let me know!

You see that bed behind the chicken run? The empty one? That one is home to my carrots and lettuce. The carrots are starting to sprout, but no lettuce yet... I have never direct sown lettuce before... How long does it take??

And you see that ugly pile of white plastic chairs? That will not be there within the next few weeks... There will be a lovely little fence to keep the girls in the yard... You can't see it in this picture, but there is also a picnic table on its side and the benches stacked up... What can I say? Ghetto-fy when necessary!

7.28.2011

Promised Pictures

I promised Random Gardener and MamaTea that I would post some pictures of BER and my weird feather problem... I apologize for some sideways pictures... I still cant figure out how to get Blogger to accept edited pictures...
Blanche and her bald spots

You cant see her dandruff, and she doesn't appear to bad here, but it's because she's half wet and half dry... These dummies don't know to go in out of the rain

Blossom end rot

more blossom end rot

One of the 2 tomatoes on my Mr Stripey plant... Damn chickens... Tomatoes are unfortunately their favorite food. They will never be planted in the back yard again... Damn Chickens

7.27.2011

Update On Blanche

Just a quick note, Blanche seems to be doing better. She is still limping, but is much more sprightly about it. She is back to sleeping on the higher perch with the other 2 girls, and is running happily around the yard. She appears to be back to more healthy weight (or maybe it really was all in my head) and is holding her own again. I talked to my sister, Row Family Farmer Wife and Momma, and she said it is possible she either was born with some sort of deformation in her leg, or maybe she was injured early on before she came to our home and she never healed properly. Either way, we love her and just want her to have a happy life (those eggs aint so bad either!)

Now she seems to have some sort of weird thing going on with her feathers. Maybe she is moulting, or maybe she just has a bad case of dandruff. Either way, I got some powder to help with this, and it is also supposed to help with mites should that be the case.

Hot Pepper Pickles

Ok. My first time making anything "pickled" occurred today. It went well... I think... All of this work for 5 pint jars of pickled peppers... Worth it? HELL YEAH!!!
My Lovely Jars

So Pretty!
Is there a way to do this without creating so many dishes to do?!
 Now, let me preface this next picture by saying, WHAT THE H%^&????? I was looking at my jars, swirling them around to get all the spices mixed up in there, and then I saw this.... This being the garlic. It is TURQUOISE....

Pickling/Canning Question

This will be short and sweet.. Er well, salty... When making pickles, must I use pickling salt? Can I use kosher salt? I know not to use regular table salt because of the iodine, etc... But uh, this city girl can't find any pickling salt....

I plan on pickling my hot peppers today, just in case you were wondering.....

OH! AND! When canning tomatoes (if I get any to survive BER) and I have to add lemon juice or citric acid, can I use fresh squeezed lemon? Or do I have to buy that stuff in the little lemon shaped bottle?

Thanks everyone!!!!

7.26.2011

The First Tomatoes!!!!

Honestly, they aren't that impressive, but I am still totally stoked! I got 2 really small san marzanos and 1 sweet million (finally I got one the chickens didn't get to first!). There is a dark side to this scenario... My tomatoes (even the ones that barely have any color) are suffering from severe blossom end rot. What the hell??? I read that this indicates a calcium deficiency in the soil. Is that true? How do I remedy this before next planting? Do I have to pull out the affected plants? Only my smallish tomatoes seem to be suffering from BER (san marzanos for example) and the bigger ones such as brandywines and mr stripeys seem to be OK...

Basil Harvest

The basil was starting to bolt beyond my control, so I decided today was the day to harvest it. The basil I transplanted a couple weeks ago is doing pretty good, so I am not worried about running out anytime soon. I ended up getting 1 quart bag of flowers and fuzzy tops (frozen whole - for making tomatoe soup later on), 1 gallon bag of stems (frozen in 5 or 6 inch pieces for stewing with tomatoes and sauce), and a whopping 1 lb 13 oz of leaves. That is my best basil harvest EVER! I made pesto, and got 5 ice cube trays worth. I made it with walnuts instead of pine nuts simply because that was what I had on hand. It really turned out well. I am SUPER excited to have all that pesto for this winter, you when the snow is falling and all you can dream of is a taste of the garden. Fabulous!!!! (Note, all of these photos are on my living room rug because I have to watch TV while I pick leaves, otherwise I get too bored... a.d.d. much??)
The big pile of basil, my laptop and Punkin as size references... Is anyone else having trouble with Blogger not accepting rotated pictures? I cant make this be right side up....

Stems

Flowers and Tops

7.25.2011

Harvest Monday

The first eggplant is here! Orient Charm, 4 oz, 6 inches long. We will be eating this little baby tonight! Delish! More peppers and zucchini of course. No tomatoes yet, although I did see a few of them starting to turn! I can't wait!

This has nothing to do with harvest monday (Thanks Daphne for hosting this awesome day!) but if you have been following for awhile, you know about my potential peach allergy. Last night, I ate a peach. Not my jam, but a real peach. And I am starting to get little hives on my legs this time. First it was my face, then it was my arms, and now my legs. Maybe I should just keep eating them, and the allergy will get rid of itself right through my toes!
Anyone got any good pepper recipes???

The first of many I am sure....

A VERY hairy caterpillar... Anyone know the variety?
Harvest Totals This Week:
eggplant - 4 oz
green peppers - 1 lb 14 oz
Hungarian hots - 9 oz
Zucchini - 4 oz

Total This Year: 23 lbs 13 oz

7.21.2011

110???

Weather.com says our actual temp is 93, but feels like 110. I took some extra precautions and double watered the garden and put up some extra shade around the chicken run. I want to let the girls out so they can chill in the shade of the tomatoes, but I really really really don't want to sit outside and make sure they don't run down the driveway. That seems to be their favorite past time. Once this heat breaks, we will get started on finishing the fence for the back yard. For now, the girls have dug themselves some nice deep holes to keep cool in, and the kitties and I are tucked away in Tiny Gardener's Family Hideaway. Hubby actually went out and bought *eek* a window unit air conditioner. It is installed in our guest room. We have survived many a summer with heat, but not like this. I can't remember a single summer growing up or in recent times that has had heat quite like this.

I am working on finding a vet within a reasonable distance that will see Blanche. It seems that most of the people around here only have dogs and cats. WTF? Don't people believe in farm animals anymore? I even tried to get a phone number for the vets at the zoo, but uh, they don't see civilians... Hopefully I will have one by the time I get home from this next trip on Monday....

Chicken Help

Blanche is not good. She has been limping ever since we brought her home (about 3 weeks) and now she appears to have lost weight. She eats when they are all out in the yard together, and doesn't seem to be getting bullied by the other 2 hens. I have looked at her feet and legs, and can't find anything obviously wrong with her, other than that now her "strong" leg is significantly larger than her ""weak" leg. I don't know what to do. I am really starting to get worried. She is still laying eggs and drinking and eating. I can't figure this out. I don't want her to lose anymore weight. Please Help....

7.20.2011

Harvest Monday... Err Wednesday

Woops! I got a little behind on my blogging! The harvest has been awesome the past week. We have actually gotten some cherry tomatoes, but the chickens keep picking them off the little plant so I haven't gotten to count them. Or taste them for that matter. Oh well... We have many more tomatoes on the way.
5 lbs 4 oz cured onions

MONSTER zucchini... Not sure how these got past our eyes, but they weighed in at 5 lb 14 oz. Not good for fresh eating, but I will shred them up for bread.

Peppers, Peppers, Peppers
Totals to date:
1lb 6 oz hungaran hot peppers
7lb 7oz zucchini
1lb 6oz green peppers
      9oz cubanelle peppers
5lb 3oz onions
3lbs      peas
27 eggs

7.19.2011

My Ever Faithful Companion(s)

Last night was hell, let me tell you! I got back from work, and Hubby and I had planned to go to dinner and see Harry Potter. I didn't eat at dinner because I was feeling kind of crappy. I figured it was just air bloat. So then we went to the movie. It was awesome!!! However, about 90 minutes in, I suddenly had this intense feeling that I needed to throw up... And so I did... All frickin night long... Every 30 minutes... Finally at about 5 am, we decided I should probably go to the ER to get fluids since I was probably really dehydrated and get some meds to calm this over active tummy down. Now, the point? My husband is awesome. My faithful companion and life partner. But the other ever faithful companion? Punkin. I love her. She has been by my side all day making sure I have enough to drink, tissues, and a garbage can just in case. (Im sure that the fact that this is the only room with air conditioning has NOTHING to do with it) My ever faithful companions... What would I do without you???

7.14.2011

My Staple Gun, My Friend

I am in love with Stan... Stan happens to be my staple gun. Stan lets me do all sorts of things I would never otherwise tackle, such as building a chicken coop with a beautiful picture window, or refinishing my headboard. Yes, that was today's project. Where I come up with these brilliant ideas is truly beyond me. So I went to my favorite store in search of just a few things for the house, and ended up with party supplies (complete with favors) for my SIL's baby shower, and 2 packages of sheets. NOT full sets, just individual sheets. One twin sheet to recover my "upholstered" headboard and one to create a bed skirt out of.

First, the headboard. Thank you Martha for creating the measurements needed for this project. Since having already done this once, most of the hard work was done (the sawing drilling, etc..) and all I had to do was rip off my old fabric (done so because I used a simple white sheet and didn't want to pattern to show through) and replace it with new! Simple as that! The first time I did this, it was even better since I already had an old crappy door, wood, and some fabric. This new recovering cost me 10 bucks. Thats right, 10. Just keep that number in mind for later. Also, had to cut the legs down on my head board. It sits in front of a window, so we wanted it as low as possible without looking stupid.

Now, the bed skirt. This one is where you will get your laughs. I HATE my old bed skirt because it is old and stretched out, and doesn't fit. Now I have a NEW bed skirt that doesn't fit. Oh yes, you heard me. It doesn't FIT!!! **Angry Face** I also got this brilliant idea from MARTHA. Don't think I am mad at her... I love her... ANywho, I bought a king bedskirt for my queen bed because I wanted a really drapey affect that would blow in the breeze. Sounds good, right?? NO. I purchased the size I intended on, but I bought a fitted sheet. SHEE-IT!!!! So what a Tiny Gardener do who has no patience?? Cut out the elastic of course! I thought, oh brilliant! I will have a fitted bed skirt for $15!!! Oh yeah... Uh, this is a king sheet. SHEE-IT!!! So, with some swearing and yelling whilst ironing, I thought, safety pins. I can do this. So with some clever folds and some safety pins I now have a tailored bed skirt!

So what is the point of all of this??? I love Stan the staple gun. We were going to purchase new furniture for our bedroom to the tune of about $350. With Stans help, I created a new bedroom for $25. That is a savings of $325. Yes, that's right, 325 smackaroos! I love you Stan!!!
Headboard

Stanley, aka Stan

Our Lovely New Bed!

7.12.2011

How Tough Are City Chickens???

I don't know, and I definitely don't want to find out! Tonight we were sitting outside eating dinner while the girls foraged in the yard, and then all of a sudden, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a CAT! This was the immediate thought that came to mind....
But then I sprang into action and chased the cat down...
So, in summary, all the chickens lived through the "almost" cat attack, by I am still fighting off heart palpatations! But really... How tough are chickens??? Can 3 tough broads (ok 2... Blanche is still limping) take one 1 street cat???

Today's Work

It's all in the pictures...
Bye Bye Community Garden!!! Thanks for the peas and onions!
Red and Yellow Onions Drying on the Picnic Table

Oliver, Sleeping on my already cured onions... He's such a cutie!!!
Transplanted the basil from these pots....

......In hopes that it will soon look like this basil!

Herb Row is so empty now... I am sure I can fill it back up :)

Also got fall lettuces and carrots planted using Granny's Seed Mat Method. I have 1 row each (3 mats/row) of buttercrunch, black seeded simpson, and lolla rosa lettuces AND one row each of (4 mats/row) of rainbow, purple haze, and danvers half long carrots. I didnt have any boards to put over the bed, so I laid down some left over chicken wire in hopes that my girls and the evil groundhog will leave the baby seedlings alone...
Speaking of the girls, we got the fence installed on one side of the yard so that they can roam more freely around the yard. They can still escape out the other side, but there is FAR less area for them to get out. They don't seem to interested in leaving the tasty grass and weeds, and not to mention the shade of the towering tomato plants.


AND last but not least... What the hell kind of bug is this??? I have only seen one, and have not seen any eggs...

7.11.2011

Harvest Monday

The harvest is starting to come in! No tomatoes yet, but we have tons of little fruits that have set. I hate going to work for 4 days, but love coming home to see all the changes that have taken place in the garden. When I am here everyday, its like watching a pot boil... It just takes forever. This week we got a total of 11 ounces of cubanelle peppers. THey are quite small, not big enough for stuffing, but definitely good enough to eat. How I will prepare them, I have no idea! Any suggestions?

The garden has really started to explode! Pumpkins... Let me tell you... I have never grown pumpkins before, and next year, I will cut the number of plants by like, 99 percent. They have taken over the bed they are in. I really had no idea they would get this big! And speaking of big, my zucchini plant is GINORMOUS! I am not kidding. this thing is as tall as me and about 5 feet wide. The leaves are insane. Two years ago, I could barely get those darn things to stay alive, and now this one is trying to eat me alive. "Feed me Seymour!" I picked one little zuke off since its flower died, and I didn't want this little unfertilized baby to go to waste. We will eat it in our eggs this morning.

And speaking of eggs... While I was gone, Hubby told me of 2 eggs that were produced that were, uh, odd... They were both really little, like ping pong ball sized, really round instead of oval, and they were REALLY fragile. One broke while it was in his hand, and the other had broken on top of the nesting box. WHy it had been laid there, I will never know. I have read that weak shells are a sure sign of lacking in calcium. I gave the girls some cottage cheese this morning, and will give them some more tomorrow in hopes of upping that a little. But why would they be so little and oddly shaped? One other thing... Blanche is limping. I have no idea why. She is able to walk and flap around, but there is a definite limp. I picked her up and was feeling her legs and feet to see if there is something I could find, but honestly, I have no idea what a "good" leg feels like vs a "bad" leg... Help?
Morning Foraging

Pumpkins

Audrey II the Zucchini

This weeks harvest
Harvest Totals to Date:
Peas - 4 pounds
Cubanelle - 11 ounces
Eggs - 15

Thanks Daphne for hosting Harvest Monday!

7.06.2011

Tiny Gardener... AKA Chicken Chaser

So, my "light bulb switched on" idea this morning was to surround my yard in chicken wire so that my 3 little hens could roam free and eat the grubs and grass, and I would NEVER HAVE TO MOW AGAIN! Yeah, that sounds all good and dandy... In THEORY... Note, don't start a project like this unless you have enough chicken wire to corral your chickens! I only had enough left over to cover about half of my fence, which leaves the other half for them to escape out of! My thought, "oh if I just stand there and shoo them through the paths of the beds, the will never get out!" Ok, chickens are smarter than they look... Dorothy, my miniature B*^#& on little legs is the biggest explorer and escape artist, next to the Plant Eating She Devil Punkin...

Ok, set the scene. My back yard, 1 hour ago. I am happily zip-tie-ing chicken wire to my existing fence posts. Chickens are happily grazing the grass. I run out of chicken wire. They see that I am no longer standing where the exit is! Victory! The Tiny Gardener has turned her eye! Lets make a run for it! I here lots of little squawking or whatever the hell sounds they make, and what do I see??? Three little chickens running around the neighbor's driveway! OH CRAP!!! So what do I do? Run after them... From the WRONG direction! SQUAWK SQUAWK SQUAWK!

Uh, note in case you don't have chickens - they run AWAY from you, not towards you...

So then I have to go around, change direction, and then get them back into MY yard... SUCCESS! Then they figure out that they can run through the tomatoes, and back out the fence! Damn smart little chickens. This continued for about, oh, 30 minutes... I was able to shoo Dorothy, the ring leader, into the run, grab Rose, toss her in, and then chase down Blanche, and toss her in as well...

Moral of this story??? Don't start a project unless you have enough materials to finish it! Also, Don't let your chickens out until your fence is done... Ok, this Chicken Chaser needs a shower...

7.05.2011

The Fourth Was LEGENDARY

I took probably 300 photos of the fireworks in our neighborhood last night, but nothing does it justice like this article my friend Emily sent me.

Nobody does July Fourth Like Cleveland

This photo is courtesy of the above link...
Yes ladies and gents, that is our street, and yes, those are houses. Every year, Fireman Sam puts on a pig roast and brings in several bands. Mr. R puts on the fireworks show. The best part about the dual street competition is that the people surrounding our area think our fireworks are the city's fireworks. It really is an awesome show. Everything is funded by us homeowners and we all make sure everything is ready beforehand, and that everything is cleaned up afterwords. The hard work is totally worth it. Anyways, it was definitely a party to be remembered. The food was awesome, the bands were great, and the beer was cold.

Side note, all the kitties and chickens survived the night without any harm. A little shaken up of course, but back to normal by this morning. I hope you enjoy the photos of the street!

After the crowds started to die down, some drunk morons let their tempers get the better of them. Due to their actions, next year will be way more subdued, we will not have any live music, and the fireworks show will be scaled down. Just a small shout out to the dudes who ruined it for the entire neighborhood.

7.03.2011

Questions on Chickens...

Mama Tea brought to my attention that her hens are in the middle of the molting and barely laying eggs... As a first time chicken mama, I have absolutely no clue when this is supposed to happen... Is there a typical time of year that they molt? Should I be doing anything special? Do the hens have and particular needs during this time?

Last night, we had some crazy storms, and I am happy to report that the hen house was dry as a bone this morning. I closed the door and window late last night (in the middle of the downpour) and even before everything was closed, it was nice and dry inside. This gives me good hope that my girls will be nice and cozy this winter :)

7.02.2011

Knee High by the Fourth of July?

I am not sure about other regions of the country, but our old Ohio country adage about corn is knee high by the fourth of July. Just for the record, my knee is 19 inches from the ground, and my corn is only 9 inches tall. Not only that, but I planted roughly 25 corn plants, and only about 7 or 8 of them are actually growing. I don't think that will be enough stalks to pollinate one another. I have decided to just pull them out and say screw it. I will try again next year. However, that also means no pole beans since I had planned the garden out using the corn as my bean poles. Again, better luck next year.

I finally was able to get a picture of Dorothy. She is kind of a food hog, and steals the treats away from Blanch and Rose. I am sure they are just sorting out their new pecking order, and the behavior will subside. They have gotten the clue that I am the food giver and get all excited when I go outside. Blanche and Rose are officially acclimated to their new digs, and are both successfully laying eggs. Rose lays in the afternoon, and Blanche in the morning. Dorothy is yet to give it up. She will get there. She is just more stubborn than the other two. Well named after the characters!

Eggs to date: 3

Dorothy

Left to Right: Rose, Dorothy, Blanche