Archive | June, 2007

Plum season

29 Jun

It’s that time again–red juice dripping down the chin, sticky fingers, jam-making inspiring-plum season. This year William and I head to our friend Linton’s house where we picked a bucket of Santa Rosa, yellow, and red plums. It only took 20 minutes to fill the bucket. It was a lovely scene, with Linton’s chickens clucking around us and a top bar beehive in his neighbor’s yard to keep us company. When we got home, I cooked the plums with some water until they boiled down. Then I removed the pits (harder than it sounds, next year I’m going to pit them first) and cooked the jam with some pectin and honey. The jam is very sour, but William insisted on no sugar. I cooked some of it some more and added brown sugar but then promptly burned it. Shit. The good news? Once again, the pigs love burnt plum jam. We have about 20 jars of the unburnt but sour jam. Next up will be apricots….

29 Jun

It’s that time again–red juice dripping down the chin, sticky fingers, jam-making inspiring-plum season. This year William and I head to our friend Linton’s house where we picked a bucket of Santa Rosa, yellow, and red plums. It only took 20 minutes to fill the bucket. It was a lovely scene, with Linton’s chickens clucking around us and a top bar beehive in his neighbor’s yard to keep us company. When we got home, I cooked the plums with some water until they boiled down. Then I removed the pits (harder than it sounds, next year I’m going to pit them first) and cooked the jam with some pectin and honey. The jam is very sour, but William insisted on no sugar. I cooked some of it some more and added brown sugar but then promptly burned it. Shit. The good news? Once again, the pigs love burnt plum jam. We have about 20 jars of the unburnt but sour jam. Next up will be apricots….

It’s a Big Job

27 Jun


This was William’s chore list. It’s what I do every day, but suddenly, seeing it written down, makes it seem like a back-breaking slog. I cooked 8 buckets of slop for the pigs before I left, but still William was busy giving the chicks and poults and bunnies water and food.
The tragic news is, all of the lovely baby chicks were killed. We put them out in a secure chicken tractor, but some predator came along on Thursday night and literally pried the chicken wire off the chicken tractor and just killed everything in sight. Very very sad. We were lucky that 10 of the chicks had been placed in homes before the carnage-filled night. Those are the breaks. I ordered replacements, and Willow and I are looking at a local source for chicks and pullets.

Near-tragedy

26 Jun


Sorry I haven’t written for a week! I went to NYC to check out the city slickers and eat good food. Of course, many things went down on the farm while I was gone. But I thought first I’d share the story of my departure day.
As I fed the animals at dawn the day of my flight (I had to be at the airport at 7:30am) I went out to the chicken house and discovered a very flat, very cold turkey poult. Those are the breaks on the farm. If you think about it, a baby animal, especially poultry, are fragile beings. I mean, they just hatched out of an egg. I contemplated feeding the little guy to the pigs…then I saw the turkey move its wing. Oh man. Putting my tardy flight anxieties aside, I picked up the turkey, nestled it on my chest and blew warm air on it. While I did my other farm chores, the turkey began to stir, and weakly opened its mouth. Dr. Doolittle would’ve given him about a 20/80 chance of pulling through. The poult’s feathers were matted, and the little guy, well, he smelled. After about 20 minutes of puttering and wondering if I should call a cab, I brought the rest of the turkey babies up to our house and set up a brooder light in a box with hay. I stuck sicky under the light and noticed he seemed a little better. Once I landed in New York and settled in my hotel, William called.
“So, is there a dead turkey in the box?” I asked, grimly.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” William said. “All I see are a bunch of turkeys in our living room.”
He survived. And that, that, is a miracle.

GrayWater Girl

19 Jun

Look what’s hatched…A new gray water system! Gray water is simply recycling water from your sink or shower or washing machine. I’ve been meaning to install some kind of system for our laundry because it uses so much water, and it’s water that could go to the fruit trees in the lot. First I acquired a handsome, only slightly used 55-gallon drum (full disclosure–this used to be the pig’s home when they were little!). Then I filled a bucket with sand (for biofilteration), lined the barrel with rocks and wood chips, then placed an old fashioned wash bin underneath the barrel. Water flows in, gets filter, then lands in the bin. Of course, I have to scoop it out with a bucket and hand water the trees. Inside, I got some extra long washer hose from the hardware store, connected it to the out-take hose for the washer and viola! I use Oasis soap, which isn’t just biodegradable, it’s biocompatible. Which means it adds nutrients to the water, so the plants are happy. Here’s a view under one of the plum trees of the chicken tractor…happy little hens. Yes, that’s Buddha watching out for them.

Garlic Season

15 Jun


It does seems early doesn’t it? But the garlic has scapes–those lovely green curlicues that later turn into flowers–and the leaves are starting to look brown, so indeed it is. We stopped watering them about three weeks ago (much to the dismay of the Melissa cabbage volunteers who appeared one day). The Persian star looks the most impressive–large, red, busting out all over. Pictured here is the German white, which seems a little too compressed, but only time will tell. The garlic is hanging in the laundry room, drying in a cool dark place. Will I braid it? What do I look like, some kind of hippie? Actually, I probably will.

Duck Herder

13 Jun

The ducklings and gosling are almost imprinted. That is, they think I’m mom. When they see me, they began howling and quacking, which inspires me to feed them grain, check their water, cradle their soft little wiggly bodies, and hand them bits of bok choy while making strange whistling and kissing noises. So I guess I’m imprinted on them just as much as they are to me.
As you can see, they’re outdoors now, but just during the day. It’s still just a bit too chilly for them at night. I lead them outside in the morning, the sound of their feet pattering on my hardwood floors is very endearing. Still, got the Cottage River Meat Book and the author argues that goose is the most meaty–and delicious–of the water fowl. Can’t wait, too, to make confit. I’m terrible.