1.31.2014

Seed Swap

Is any one out there interested in doing a seed swap?? I am interested in getting my hands on some interesting herbs and anything that isn't listed below. If you have good stuff, put it in the comments or shoot me an email at    mytinygarden at gmail dot com

I received my order from Baker Creek and realized that, woah, I have a crap ton of seeds. My pride and joy, though, will be the 1/2 pound of Oregon Sugar Snap Peas. I am going to plant every Single ONE because snap peas are my absolute favorite vegetable on the ENTIRE planet! Happy Day!

Here is a list of stuff I can spare and split up:
      *Special Note* Some of these seeds may be a couple years old, so I make no guarantees. Nearly all my seeds come from Baker Creek, so you can look up descriptions there.
Beans
- red seeded asparagus
- chinese long bean

Broccoli
- early purple sprouting
- calabrese

Cabbage
- brunswick
-perfection drumhead savoy

Eggplant
- listada di gandia (I already have some ready to send you Carolyn)

Onions
- alisa craig
- noordhollandse bloedrode
- yellow of parma

Peppers
- Craigs Grande jalepeno
- cayenne, long thin
- sweet king of the north
- poblano

Tomatoes
- black cherry
- chadwick cherry
- riesentraube cherry
- dr wyche's yellow
- cherokee purple
- marglobe supreme
- comstock slice and sauce
- amish paste

1.27.2014

Eggs... Refrigeration Not Required

Ok... So I watched this thing on PBS the other day about the Shaker Society of way back when and they were talking about how they were really self-sustaining communities, they had gardens, they had chickens and pigs and goats, etc. The thing that really caught my attention was a simple reminder that DUH these people did not have electricity and therefore did not have refrigerators. So what the heck did they do with their eggs???

They KEPT THEM ON THE COUNTER! Oh. My. GAWD. Now, before you go insane, lets review some basic chicken-y stuff... Chickens lay eggs for reproduction. Duh. Now, a hen has natural defenses for protecting her eggs (and I don't mean from predators, but I hear they can become real nasty bitches) from bacteria and viruses, etc. The hen places a "bloom" over the egg which dries in mere seconds (when its not 5 below outside) and this bloom has natural antibacterial properties which prevent the porous shell from absorbing bad stuff and making the baby chick inside die. Now, my hens don't have the luxury of getting laid so they do not need to go all broody on their eggs, so we eat them! That's why we have chickens! 

So why do we, as Americans, refrigerate our eggs? Because the USDA and the FDA and all those government agencies who control what you put in your mouth require that eggs go through a washing process in which they are washed in chlorine and water, and some cases bleached. The removing of the bloom is what actually requires the eggs to be refrigerated because nasty bugs have a tendency to grow slower in a cold environment. Not to mention, the eggs you are buying in the store are many many days, if not WEEKS old by the time they get to you, so yeah, they definitely need refrigeration. 

(Here is something pretty cool) In Europe (!) it is ILLEGAL to wash eggs before selling them due to the washing removing the natural properties of the eggs. I remembered this when I was in the UK and went to a store and found eggs ON THE SHELF. Like, next to the bread and sugar. NOT in the refrigerator. 

So why in the heck don't we hear about all kinds of nasty salmonella outbreaks in Europe due to eggs? I will remain not on my soap box about how totally disgusting, dirty, and effed up our food production is and just continue. SO! Because in order for an egg to be contaminated with salmonella, it must come in contact with it. First, the egg may be contaminated from the hen directly if she is in fact, infected. If you keep a healthy flock with a clean coop and clean laying areas, then they should remain clean and healthy. Secondly, the egg may be contaminated if it comes in contact with contaminated feces or something of the sort (or in the nasty conditions battery hens are kept or the nasty conditions of the processing facilities). Again, if you keep a clean and healthy coop and flock, you should be fine. 

And when you bake, don't the best chefs always tell you to allow your ingredients to come to room temp before you begin, including your eggs? There is a whole community of people out there who proclaim that a cold egg cannot be properly cooked. 

So I if you have chickens, the choice is up to you really. I am going to go against convention and keep my eggs on the counter and wash them thoroughly before using (just to be sure really). We go through about a dozen in 10 or 12 days, and that is WELL within the shelf life of a fresh, homegrown egg. And if we die, then I guess I was wrong, but I don't see that happening. 

So what do you do? Refrigerate or not?

1.22.2014

I'm Pretty Sure the Chickens are Hating Life


Well, it is cold. Again. I mean, I know it is winter, but COME ON! When it finally gets to around our "normal" temps of 20's-30's we are going to feel like it is summer! These temps of like, 6, are really starting to get to me. Walking the dog makes my eyeballs freeze up for crying out loud. If you live in a colder climate than mine, then you deserve a freaking medal!

The chickens will be shut in yet again until Friday (its supposed to be 20!), at which time they can be out without me freaking about the potential for frostbite. And then they will be shut in again because it is supposed to go back down into the single digits for days on end.

Truth be told, I don't count on the weather forecast more than 2 or 3 days out, but I am planning ahead. Friday I will shoo the girls out of the coop and clean it all out and put down a nice deep layer of fresh bedding (shavings AND hay next time around) and make sure they are all set to be bedded down again.

I am sure that my mother is doing her happy dance because I am putting our new sheets on our bed (Christmas gift from said mother). The sheets are literally made of fleece. FLEECE sheets. We have slept on them at her house and HATED them because in my mother's house, the temp NEVER goes below 70. In our house, the temp never goes ABOVE 70. And when we are sleeping, it never goes above 61. The problem is that when you are sleeping in fleece and it is hot in the house, you sweat. And when you sweat in fleece, you don't dry off. However, when your house is an igloo (like mine) the sheets are actually quite PERFECT! So I am sure that my mother is doing her "I told you you would love them! I told you so!" happy dance. So thanks Mom, thanks for the awesome sheets.

Now, if only I could wrap the chickens up in fleece and make them warmer. 

1.19.2014

Woah, January is Boring!

Since there isn't too much happening in the Yarden in January, I want to just bring you some cute dog pictures so you don't forget about me! This is our little Chelsea Belle, and my Momma's dog Charlie Bear. 





1.04.2014

Its Gonna be a Cold One

I've been stalking the weather, as a lot of people have been lately. After getting about 7 inches of snow, today was beautiful and sunny, and tomorrow is going to be warm (34) and snowy and rainy. THEN on Monday, we will have a high of 5 and low of -5 (YIKES) and TUESDAY will bring a high of 2 and low of -15... (BIGGER YIKES)

I am slightly worried about the chickens.... With the super cold and snow, they didn't even come out of the coop for 4 days. Today they ventured out into their covered run (snow shoveled and a layer of fresh hay) to stretch their legs and peek at the sun. Tomorrow, I'm sure they will be brave again, but on Monday and Tuesday, I think I am going to leave them cooped up (pun intended.) I don't want the frigid wind to freeze their beaks off!!!

I think on Sunday night, I will have to leave the coop door closed for 2 days as well as lubing up their combs with petroleum jelly to prevent frostbite. Maybe I will do the jelly on Sunday night so they are all ready to sit it out...

I know some of you other bloggers are farther north than me, how are you prepping your chickens? Is everyone ready to bunk out for a few days?

OH I went out today to do my regular errands and shopping... It was TOTALLY FRIGGING INSANE. I think everyone out there is going into French Toast Emergency panic mode! Grab your white bread, eggs, and milk! Has anyone else noticed the world going insane around them???