Sunday, August 16, 2015

Good stuff at My Happy Arces, August 2015

Late summer is a very busy time on the farm.  The apples are nearing the time to be picked.  The Blackberries are ripening.  The vegetables are at peak, looking good, and tasting like heaven! So let's take a walk:
 Mild, warm days have been perfect for our little orchard.  Although we culled heavily in late Spring, the trees are now heavy with fruit.  If conditions continue to be pleasant, we can safely assume that, come October, we will have a nice variety of apples to offer our customers.
Aren't these beautiful?
Speaking of beautiful, this is the first year we have been able to successfully bring cauliflower to full maturity.  As much as I'd like to say that it's due to the right seeds and careful management, I can only give full credit to following the instructions that were given to me by an elderly farmer I know.  The elderly have a lifetime of experience.  If one is respectful and patient, it's amazing what one can learn.  In this case, I learned why my broccoli and cauliflower bolted or just plain failed to thrive.

Members of the cabbage family are mostly cool weather plants.  They don't like the hot weather.  They don't like getting their roots too warm.  They don't like dry conditions.  His instructions were simple: water in the early morning and shade them when the temps are going over 90f.  That's it?  Water and shade?  No special compost mix/fertilizer/special cauliflower frisky blend?  nope.  keep em watered.  Keep em cool.
Isn't this pretty?  Most of the cauliflower heads are about these size of a soccer ball.  Although they are the color of good cheddar cheese, they still taste like cauliflower yet have a milder flavor than the white variety.  We like them.  It adds a nice splash of color to the salad or vegetable dish.
Summer is a wonderful time to try new things.  When visiting your local farmers' market or farm stand, taste and try new varieties of the foods you love.  Like tomatoes?  Try some low acid yellow tomatoes, or try a new variety of cherry tomato.  Some are sweet.   Some are tart.  Tomatoes come in a variety of colors, not just that slightly washed out red color that grocery store tomatoes all seem to have.  They also come in a variety of flavors.  Try something new today!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Bed bye Not! part 2

oh -- you thought I was kidding???  this is from last night:
what are you doing out here?  waiting for you Momma...

did you know that chickens purr when happy?

There's no room in there.  Can we ride on top?

We're next!  We're next!

Do we get a story?  I think I need another drink of water before Bed bye.
Yes, it's true.  Thirteen chicken hugs, thirteen little pats, thirteen drinks of water, thirteen bedtime stories, and off to bed bye we go.  Keep tellin' ya: never a dull moment.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Further adventures with little chicks or Bed-bye NOT

The warmer weather has been a real plus for moving the baby chicks out to their new chicken tractor.  I should say that the babies aren't little babies any more.  They may be 10 weeks old, but they are fully feathered and ready to take on the world!  The plastic chicken wire fence that defines their play yard is of little consequence as some of the bigger chicks loft themselves into the air like giant awkward bumblebees. 
 Each morning, bright and early, the tractor is opened up allowing the babies to wander out for their chicky adventures.  Fresh water and chicky chow is available inside at all times but outside: the world is their salad bowl.  Everything is new to these little busy bodies.  If someone finds a bug, everyone has to rush over to see what it is.  If someone tastes something delicious (like the bug), everyone wants a bite.  What can I say?  They're better than television.
 Like all our chicken friends that came before, this year's hatchlings are being taught 'Bed bye'.  Put simply, when I tell them 'Bed bye' all the little chickies are to head up the ramp and go to bed.  Well, its worked on everyone that has come before.  Of course we have a little problem with this year's group.
This year I decided to introduce the babies to the great outdoors by taking them on little field trips to the garden.  One-by-one I would scoop them up out of their chicken nursery, place them into a small pet carrier before toting them outside.  This has worked extremely well.  No one fusses about being handled.   They know that I'll keep them safe from anything scary that might come along (larger birds, plastic bags, big trucks rumbling down the road, etc).
At the end of the day, I open the carrier and call 'bed bye'.  Everyone dutifully stops whatever she's doing and ducks into the box.  Easy-peasy.  When they arrive back at the nursery, each little chicky is picked up, given a little lovin's, then put to bed.
When they moved to the chicken tractor, I forgot that merely opening the door was not going to quite do it.  Soon as I put the carrier down, everyone wanted to go into that.  Moving a small pet carrier with 13 little peepers inside is no big deal. 
150617, babies first day out
Now, with only five of the children in the carrier proves a tight fit.  But tight or no, they all wait their turn to go into the box so that one-by-one, they can be lifted out, given a little lovin's from Moma, and tucked into bed.  Bed bye...
It's going to be a long summer...