Thursday, September 27, 2012

Light Sussex Chicken Update

Our Light Sussex chickens, who started hatching on May 10, 2012, are 20 weeks old today.  They haven't laid any eggs yet, but every morning we hope to find the first egg.  I can't wait for them to start laying so we can have our own eggs from our own chickens again!

I've not been brave enough to let the chickens have free range of the property until just recently, because our garden is not fenced.  I also hesitate to let them truly free range when someone is not going to be home all day long, as the last batch of chickens we had (Delawares) was massacred by free-roaming dogs when we left for less than 2 hours. :( So, that limits the days I can let them out and feel good about it.

The first time I left the door open so the Light Sussex chickens could come outside, they didn't venture far from the door. In fact, they spent most of the time craning their necks out the door, inspecting the setup, I suppose.

Last weekend we let them out to run around, which they did freely, and the kids reported to me that they were having a bug party in the grass. Apparently they were frolicking. I was inside working on beets and didn't make it out to take pictures. (Sorry!)  Later in the day, I walked out of the house to hear the chickens carrying on as if they were being attacked. I hurried out to the coop, where they were all hiding, and on the way I saw a stray kitty's ears and the top of his head peering over the grass.

My chickens are.....well....chicken.

I guess they've got an excuse.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Gardening 2012: The First Fall Freeze

I woke up this morning to a good deal of frost out on the grass. The basil in the center of my garden was still ok, so it was either a light freeze or the basil was protected by the higher plants around it.

At any rate, today I went out and picked just about every pepper from my banana pepper plants. I set a few aside for the chickens, but here is a pic of my big ol' bowl of peppers!

I plan on chopping them up and putting them into the freezer for use through the coming months. This will mean fewer purchases of organic frozen peppers in my future!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Garden Observations 2012

The garden is at its peak production, it seems. Maybe it's due to my avoiding it during the worst weeks of ragweed season...but I feel a need to get out there and harvest what is available. Especially since the weather is cooling off substantially--this makes it more pleasant to work outside, and also reminds me that soon the weather will be turning.

The Garden in September 2012

The green beans have long ago stopped producing.  I do, however, have some dry beans to harvest. Not a lot--we'll see how it goes. One of them is a variety that is hard to find locally and we wanted to just get enough to plant more next year and then hopefully be able to eat off of that crop.

The volunteer cherry tomatoes are proliferating, and I need to get the kids out to pick a bunch this afternoon. Same with banana peppers. I picked some of each this morning. I wonder if they would make a good mild salsa....

And a praying mantis that flew past me and onto the pepper plants.
Praying mantis on banana pepper plant.

I pulled what onions I could find. They didn't do very well. Maybe I was late in planting them (yeah, I was). Additionally, I didn't pay attention to what specific variety they were and if they are appropriate for our part of the country--I just picked up some sets from the grocery store. Maybe I'll rethink that for next year.

The pepper plants I purchased in July out of pity at the local nursery aren't doing anything worthy of note. Same with the melon plant. No point in purchasing plants at that point in the season...duly noted. (But I tried!)

I have beets I need to pull, but I am waiting until closer to dinner and on a night that I don't have running around to do....that way we can  have beet greens for dinner and then I can work on beets after dinner.
Yes, there are beets in there among the grass/weeds!
The okra is doing well this late in the season.  In fact, it's probably just getting going well and it will freeze in the next month.  I'm happy to have fresh okra I can fry up gluten-free and not have to rely on restaurants and frozen okra that is not gluten-free. :)   Next year, I need to plant it on either end of the garden, so that all of the plants can get consistent sun.  The lack of sun for the ones that get shaded by sunflowers really makes a negative difference in how well the okra has done.  We are still learning what size okra is best to pick--and to pick often! We are going to have a lot of seed for next year... People around here think I am weird for planting okra in Ohio--as if it's was unheard of and impossible! Maybe I will pass out seed and start a movement, hehe.
Burgundy Okra

Burgundy Okra Flower--Isn't it pretty?

The Job's Tears experiment is almost done. I am waiting for the little seeds to dry before I pick them and write an update on them.

Job's Tears plant

Sunflowers next year need to go along the back of the garden. I put them on the west side this year for some reason(oh, I remember--to give the cucumbers some shade), and let some volunteers stay in the middle of the garden, and I'm not sure that was a wise move. I will soon cut them down, tie them together, and put them somewhere to be a fall decoration/bird feeder.

Hubby has sorghum he needs to figure out what to do with. And we have corn(dry) to pick as well.
Sorghum, reaching for the sky!
The kids in front of the sorghum

The chard and kale should be tasty soon. It's been bitter, so I have been breaking leaves off and giving them to the chickens, who love them.

I need to harvest my huge basil plants before the weather gets too cold and make frozen pesto stuff to put in the freezer (it was yummy on pizza!).

Overgrown basil in need of plucking.

More basil-a ruffly purple type.

I have parsley (regular and flat leaf) that I have plucked leaves from and am drying in the dehydrator today.  I had to selectively pluck, because there were at least 6 of those caterpillars on the plants!

There is also a little arugula out there I need to incorporate into a salad or something.
Arugula--I cut it back when it started to bolt.

Wow--I didn't realize the variety of stuff we had out there! I better get to work!

 Here's a few flower pics from the garden for good measure. I plant them in with the veggies to encourage insects to come visit. :) I've got cosmos and marigolds as well, but they didn't make the cut.


I want to add Zinnias next year. :)
And potatoes and sweet potatoes and do better with beans and greens...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

It Wasn't Hiatal Hernia....My Health Cocktail

Well, I was wrong about the possible hiatal hernia. It was actually that I had ribs out of place on both sides of my sternum and that was what was causing such chest pain and inability to draw a full breath.

Plus, I have a virus, which I was beginning to suspect, because I ended up getting a fever one day last week, and I have a kid home today with a low grade fever.

And I do still have a little heartburn going on...

Add in my allergies this peak ragweed season and I have a "wonderful" health cocktail.

As you might guess, I went to the chiro this morning. I got all adjusted and now I can actually breathe! I do  have a little bit of residual soreness but hopefully that will go away in the next couple of days...much better though! I actually woke up this morning feeling almost as bad as last Monday when this all started. :(

I am going to keep up with my allergy regimen(Zyrtec+Homeopathic for pollen+avoidance), and add garlic in to help get rid of this virus.  I think I will add a TON of our homegrown garlic to our dinner tonite so that everyone will get a good dose!