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I (heart) long weekends

Busy weekend here! (Too busy here to blog, apparently.) Hope you are all enjoying sunshine wherever you garden. And look what the ducks learned to do:

Please excuse the poor photo quality, as it was taken through a window.

More fluffy cuteness

You know, they only are cute and fluffy for such a short period of time!

The typical scene.  What you are not hearing is me doing the mothering harangue.  “Honey, don’t squeeze them.  No, you should put that baby down.   Honey, he’s cheeping, he’s scared, please set him down.”

Chick complete with egg tooth

Ducklings on 11 June

and one baby on 27 June, with tree sap on his belly.

On the canning season

This is the time of year the above two devices get found in the junk drawer, washed off, and used.

Marital aides? Child behavior modification tools? Nope. These are a cherry pitter and a strawberry huller.

It’s funny: we went to three stores before we found the cherry pitter. It was in a local hardware store, and had a pricetag on it from the 1980s. The thing was rusty so they just gave it to me. Of course and as a joke Tom now buys me every cherry pitter he can find: notice the next picture. Lovely German engineering.

It is not fully cherry season, so I haven’t busted out the cool pitter. We’re in the earlies now, with the more tart and bigger ones coming around the beginning of July. But wow, is it strawberry season! We’re filling ourselves, and now I am filling jam jars too. Last night I made a lovely clafoutis of cherries and strawberries, befitting my adoration of the egg and All Things Custard.

Note: slapdash clafouti recipe is now in the comments!

Tell me this, though: why is it that every time I begin to can stuff I feel the urgent need to also dirty every dish, pan, bowl and pot and practically every dishtowel we own? I really need an adjustment period. Hopefully it takes me only one day’s worth of canning madness (but that is unlikely). It’s just wild to think I do some form of food preservation every night until mid-September. Tonight, it took too long. Tomorrow? I guess we shall see. It’s like anything, I guess. It takes the time it takes, and with a bit of practice, less time will be needed.

But inevitably I always forget how darned fussy jam-making can be. Luckily, the payoff is tay-steee.

Attention beekeepers!

Hum a bum buzz buzz

Holy Crap!

Just walked into my potting shed (also known as Shed of Dreams, like, I better get this x farm implement for future use and store it in said shed) and I’ve got bees!

I stopped (backtracked, blocked traffic) a couple years back to grab a super I saw on the side of the road. This was before all my research that says things like “don’t reuse old hive equipment ever,” etc. So I have it, in my shed, and overnight (literally) there are now bees in the super. And in the shed. And chasing me all over the place should I go near the door.

I am overjoyed, of course. I planned to get a nuc last year but CCD killed my bee guy’s hives. I am overjoyed likewise that bees are so numerous here that they’re finding an old super squirreled away in an old shed. It’s great news, mostly…

Well, folks: but how do I get my tools out of there now? What do I do? Especially since I have a load of new chicks coming!! help! move the super outside at night? what? buzz buzz

Happy Friday

Here’s to the end of a very trying week. Amongst other woes, I got a new laptop, as my six year old model is slowly giving up the ghost. Unlike a new car these things magically don’t just, you know, start working on their own. Considering I have the patience of a gnat regarding technical glitches, its arrival, and our daughter’s continued slow recovery from getting her tonsils out, have made this a week I will be glad to get behind us!

So…here’s hoping there’s a happy weekend ahead for us all.

On mountains of work

Here’s a perfect example of how behind I am: I haven’t had time yet to make the new greenhouse beds. Most of the leeks are destined for it, as you can see the difference between outdoor

and indoor leeks. The babies from seed were getting leggy and needed to get in the ground. Ding! it occurs to me that they can be transfered later (unlike onions they don’t hate being moved) so they’re now doing time, temporarily, crowded together in a corner of a lettuce bed.

It’s been cool lately, which has been something of a gift as far as the garden and greenhouse are concerned. Every day I spend about two hours outside doing various growth-related tasks: seeding, transplanting, mulching, weeding (which I realize doesn’t help the growth of the weed, but you know what I mean). I spend an hour before work, an hour after. And I am still behind. So the cool weather has bought me some time in terms of moving things out of the greenhouse. They get to stay in there longer until it completely warms up outside.

The cool weather has been a bad thing as far as the chicks are concerned. They are still indoors in the mini-coop and not outside in their tractor. (Today is Tractor Day: I will post about it soon.) I think I got them too early. They’re fully feathered out at four weeks. I have noticed their chests (breasts) don’t have a lot of feathers on them yet, so I worry about sticking them outside. They spend most of their times lying on those big chests of theirs, and, well, it’s been so cool so I am sure that’d chill them. So next year? I will not be in such a rush to get them.

Two hours of garden work a day sure sounds like a lot of time, I am sure, to many of you out there. The time to the task at hand is a constant thing. I have a lot of work ahead of me, but those two hours aren’t doing a great job of knocking down that mountain of work! Of course I am the only person to blame for this work… Either way, I think I need to take a day or two off of my job just to feel like I am pulling even.

And then, I will come up with another scheme, and then I will be back where I started….

Some answers to your questions

1. Like chicken, only better (richer)

2. Braised in a huge dutch oven for 2 hours at 375* on a bed of leeks, dried/fresh herbs, white wine and veg stock; he was still kind of tough; lots of breast meat

3. I am not that good at plucking. Then again, I hate shelling peas and beans too: I think it’s the time required, not the task at hand

4. Tom wanted nothing to do with it but the eating. At one time he yelled down from his upstairs window: “Is it safe yet?”

5. The guineas can still count. The three hens are bemoaning the loss of their leader and are still calling despondently.  I hope their small brains can forget

6. The other chickens, however, are very happy!

7.  I don’t think I have ever worked so hard for a meal