Thursday, February 26, 2015

Seed Catalog season

Oh yes.  It's that time again.  That time when the seed catalogs come bursting out of the mailbox, enticing us with pictures of lushious tomatoes, gleaming ears of corn, and bushels of other vegetables, all mouth-wateringly presented.
It's hard to keep from getting carried away.  "Oh, doesn't that look pretty?  I wonder what that tastes like?  Maybe we should try a row of that."  It all starts innocently enough but quickly escalates to more seeds than one either has room to plant or energy to thin, weed, and keep healthy.  So how to decide.
I start by looking at what I had planted the previous year.  Some plants did really well.  Others, not so much.  Throughout the season, you note which vegetables were quick to start producing and which needed help.  Was this variety less resistant to the common diseases found in the area?  Did it have to be sprayed regularly or trained so that it didn't go wild and take over the garden?  These are all questions that need to be considered.
Young Butternut squash

Fresh tomatoes

Peppers: mild, spicy, hot, and explosive
Another question that tends to go on the back burner is what are you going to do with the fruits of your labor.  Radishes are really pretty when they come out of the ground and are surprisingly easy to grow.  If no one in your household will eat them, however, maybe radishes are not a good first choice to add to the garden.  Same goes for the farmers' market.  I would love to grow dozens of varieties of hot peppers but limit myself to those that my family will eat and the market will buy.  Introducing new product is very risky for a small farmer.  It's heart breaking to spend the time and energy on something that you feel is terrific only to find that you can't entice your customers to buy it.
My last step is to take a look at the list, edit and remove any plants that require too much TLC.  I know my limitations.  I don't deal well with high maintanence people or plants.  I then set the list aside for at least 48 hours before revisiting it and editing one more time.  Can I get the hardened seedlings from my local farmers' greenhouse?  If the answer is yes, I move the plant to the list of items for the garden yet off the list for seeds.  KISS: Keep It Simple Silly!  When it was all said and done, the list when from 50 items down to 12.  I can do 12.
What I didn't metion is I had ten other packets from last year's crop that were also set aside for use.  How are we going to do this?  That is yet to be figured out.  8D

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Happy New Year to all our Asian Friends!

It's the year of the goat or the ram, and everybody knows what that means!  A good day to enjoy the company of friends and good food.
Ram? Really? You just know it's all about me!
BTW: just a tid bit of trivia: some will say that this is the year of the Ram, some will say Sheep, and some will say Goat.  They are all correct.  The Chinese word for the eighth animal of the Chinese zodiac is 'Yang'.  Yang is the generic word for any animal in the sheep/goat family (read more <here>).  It's kinda like when you hear an American call an animal a Cow.  He's probably not referring to the breed or sex of a particular ox, just a generic reference to that animal type.

So Happy New Year Everybody!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Winter snows

January wasn't too bad except for a few wicked cold days.  February, on the other hand, has been an experience in finding out how many layers can you put on before it becomes difficult to move.  Seasonal snow storms that came blowing off Lake Ontario late last week didn't clear until early this morning.  We have around 16 inches of snow on the ground at the moment with air temps hovering in the minus range of the thermometer.
Animal Barn 150214

Sgt Preston and Yukon King
The best way to get around when snows are this deep, is probably the snowshoes or following someone wearing snowshoes.  Walking on top of the snow, or at least within the first six inches, is so much easier than disappearing into the drifts. 
The sun came out about mid-morning as if daring the winter weary out to enjoy the snow.  Like some kind of bazaar practical joke, the wind blows up one's coat tail, reminding us that sometimes it's best to enjoy winter from the comfort of one's livingroom.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The wonderful world of Chickens: we have eggs

Not long ago I listened to someone say that as much as she would love to raise chickens for the fresh eggs, chickens don't lay in the winter so...Guess our girls didn't read that book.  We have eggs.  Lots of eggs.
Every morning we fill our Easter baskets full of lovely colored eggs.  Nothing beats a farm, fresh egg for baking or just eating straight.  Cakes and cookies are lighter and fluffier when fresh eggs are used.  And don't forget about taste!  Nothing beats the flavor of an egg produced by cage free, pastured hens.

To read more about how healthy those nice fresh eggs are, <read here>.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

New ways to follow us: correction

Yesterday we let you know about our new facebook page and, unfortunately, the link had a typo.  Sorry about that.

The correct link is: .  Sorry about any confusion,  We appreciate you liking and friending us and, of course, your patience as we, too, learn about setting these applications up.

I heard the internet thing has cookies.  Can I have a cookie?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Lake Effect

We've had snow every week since the first week of January.  Sometimes is comes down heavily.  Sometimes it's just barely a dusting.

Snow was still a novelty for the buckeyes that first week of January.  We had had some lovely days just prior to the storms that blew through.  The grass was green but crunchy with ice.  The puddles had become shiny mirrors.  That Monday morning, the sun was peeking in and out and nary a flake of snow was to be seen.  I opened up the chicken houses, knowing full well that the Americaunas wouldn’t step out.  The buckeyes are a whole different ballgame.  Soon as the door was open, four of the girls came busting out.  ‘We’re bored!  We want to play outside!’ they seemed to say.  They pecked at frozen grass and soon were sliding about on the frozen puddles.  I decided to periodically circle back and check on them (mostly fearing that someone might sprain a leg while ice skating).  Around 10am it started to snow.  
The wind was blowing out of the west, sending swirls of snow into every crack and crevasse it could sift into.  I soon went out to close up the chicken houses.   As expected the Americaunas were wanting to know why I had opened the door in the first place and, while we’re at it, why can’t they have warm snacks?  I didn’t see any Buckeyes outside and started to close up their house when suddenly I heard a chicken chuckle underneath.  I hustled them out into the yard, aiming them for the door.  I should have closed things up as soon as they stepped inside but what can I say?  I’m an idiot.  When I came back out just after lunch, the ramp was completely covered and drifting up into the house…and the two chicky girls were back under the house.  Fortunately I had brought the  shovel so after clearing snow away from the gate and digging a path, I got down on my hands and knees crawled under the buckeye house and rescued the hens. 

The first one to come out was Peanut.  Low on the pecking order, I’m sure she went outside just to escape from the others and once outside was just trying to find a place to get out of the wind.   The other, cuddled up with her, was Ditto.  These little chicky pals seem to do everything together.   Peanut complained a little about being brought out into the wind but figured out pretty quickly that I was putting her into the nice warm house.  Once in, I reached for Ditto.  She let me pick her up but the icy blast was a little much.  Soon as she started to fuss, the roosters were wanting to come out and protect their girls.  I held her upside down for a moment or two while she calmed down, then held her close, shielding her from the wind, while putting her back inside with her friends.  The roosters simmered right down when they saw me.  The girls went straight to the feed bucket.  I imagine being out in the cold really does work up an appetite.

The girls have figured out that being inside the nice warm chicken tractor is quite a bit nicer than out where the snow is blowing about.  Smart girls.

Meanwhile out at the goat barn, every time I walk so that she sees me, Jellybean calls to me.  "Maaaa?  Maaa! Maaaaaa!" she seems to say, "Ma? do you see me?  I'm right here!  Are you coming over?  I've been good today!  You should give me a cookie!  The other girls weren't as good as me so I should get their cookies too!  Maaaa?  Maaaaa!  Do you see me??"

Never a dull moment.