Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sunflowers, Kayaks, and Napping Chickens

It seems like each day of perfect late summer weather we have
is followed by another perfect day...
prettier than the preceding one.
Yesterday was one such day.


I swear we have grown the tallest sunflowers I have ever seen...
twice as tall as me... if not more! 


I know I showed you this stem before, but it has grown by half again.
I think it should be referred to as a "trunk" instead of a stem!



Hubbs was home from work yesterday...
an extra vacation day he needed to use.

So we took a couple of hours off the farm and headed to the river
to kayak.


With a snack of locally baked artisan crackers, cheese, and olives,
we floated down the river...


in the company of fish, birds, turtles,
all sorts of river wildlife!


We are so very lucky to live within minutes of this kind of beauty!


We tend to get so caught up with work around the farm,
that sometimes we forget to get away and see different sights.
A perfect day like this made us realize that life is short,
and if we don't take these opportunities now...
they might just pass us by!

PS....
For those of you who are raising chickens for the first time...
don't be alarmed if you find one of your chickens looking like this...


Do not be alarmed!
The first time I saw this,
I thought my poor chicken must be dying.
Not so.


Chickens very often nap during the day stretched out on their side.
I'll tell you though, the first time you witness this,
your heart will skip a beat.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The rains came and went,
and the sun came out again...


Blue skies and temperatures in the high seventies,
with cool nights...a hint of autumn is in the air.j

The horses love their afternoons on pasture...


but readily come running when I enter the dry lot clapping my hands for them.


A little hay and a peppermint treat awaits them...


in a matter of seconds the Bigs are all back into the dry lot.


The Littles, however, are much more coy,
and take a bit of coaxing to get them in.


Shaking a bag of Quaker Oatmeal cereal squares helps,
but they generally take their good ole time!


On another subject....
I have spent so much of the time these past couple of weeks talking about
Roosters Number 5 and 6.

Today I want to show you Rooster Number 1.


He is one of my most handsome roosters,
who spends his days with his fellow Roos...


lately hanging around the outside of the "youngins'" house


leering like lecherous old men
just waiting for the "youngins" to mature.


PS....
The rainy weekend gave me a chance to sew another
1940's style apron.

You can see it HERE!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Today's post is just a little of this and a little of that.
Sort of how our weekend was....
a little of this and a little of that!

Saturday was our wedding anniversary,
so we took part of the day to explore a small college town
about 20 miles away.

Each Saturday they have a Farmer's Market lining the sidewalks of their Main Street.
Most of what we find at farmer's markets we grow ourselves.
But this week we happened upon some wonderful treats...
like...
 locally grown organic leeks and organic red raspberries,
organic mountain mint whole leaf tea,
and these....


Do you know what these are?
They are ground cherries.


Ground cherries are in the tomatillo family.
They are a distant cousin that is indigenous to our area.
They are smaller and sweeter than a tomatillo,
and they are yellow.


The young man who sold them to us said that their seeds are difficult to find,
and quite pricey.


So, I squeezed a couple in order to dry their seeds for next year's garden.
And the rest we made into Ground Cherry Jam...
Amanda, "jammin"
and let me tell you,
this jam is super fantastic!!


I can hardly wait to grow my own ground cherries next summer.
There will be lots of ground cherry jam in our pantry next year!

If you happen to find these at your local market,
email me and I will send you a great jam recipe!

With the arrival of Hurricane Irene, 
we spent a good portion of the rest of the weekend indoors.

Rain and wind took its toll on some of my flowers,
so I cut the sunflowers lying on the ground,


as well as some hydrangeas, 
and brought them into the house to enjoy.


Nothing brightens up a rainy day like fresh cut flowers!


Each summer I cut these white hydrangeas and dry them....
a lasting piece of summer to enjoy through the winter.


A break in the rain gave us a chance to pick enough apples,


for me to make a luscious apple pie.
Served warm with a vanilla ice cream....
heavenly!


I had a little leftover crust,
so we picked a few bunches of grapes,


and made a grape tart.


By the end of the weekend,
we had only 1 3/4 inches of rain...
enough to raise the level of the pond by about a foot. 
Two more feet to go and it will be back to full capacity.

No post is complete without an animal tale....

Something has happened in the farm mafia.
Apparently Guinea Gus has been thrown out of the "family."


He has been spending his days alone, near the barn,
while Guido and Guiseppe remain in the company of the turkeys.


It's odd, because up to this point,
for the past two years, these three have been inseparable.

I overheard Guido saying to him...
(in his best Marlin Brando impersonation.)
"Gus, you're my older brother, and I love you.
 But don't ever take sides with anyone against the family again. Ever."

If only I knew what that was all about!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Squatters, Garden Matters, and Tyler, Too

If you follow my blog with any regularity,
you already know that there has been much drama lately
in the chicken coop.

I've written quite often of the escapades of Roosters Number 5


and Number 6


Ever since Number 6 (and not long after that, Number 5) found that there were
"GIRLS!"
living on the other side of the orchard from the Frat House,
they have made their daily treks to be with their French sweetie pies.


Imagine my surprise, however, the other morning when opening up Rod's henhouse
and found that Number 5 and Number 6 had had a sleepover!


And since that night, they have not returned to the Frat House....
not even for a visit.
Yes, Number 5 and Number 6 are squatters!
And Rod's not too happy about it.

I suppose they realize that they have a good thing going on here,
and why risk it?
After all, if their old buddies caught wind of this situation,
it would be Rooster Mayhem all around the barn.

We are now in the midst of my favorite season of the garden.
Most of the summer crops have been harvested and put up.
Fall crops are growing.
Peppers and tomatoes are plentiful.



Each week I prepare more batches of relishes, salsas, and sauces.



The pumpkins are ready for baking projects.


The okra continues to bloom and bear fruit....


as do the tomatillo plants....


The sunflowers are tall and showy.
When they are dry, they will become food for the birds.


The vining plants of the garden walls are in full bloom...
just as I had imagined it would be!


And in one corner of the garden,
the aroma is magnificent....
Grapes!


Hundreds of clusters like this one are filling
the air with the most heavenly scent.

This particular cluster became this....


layers of luscious phylo dough and melted butter,
topped with brown sugar, grapes, and then brushed with melted butter
and topped with more sugar.
Into the oven at 400 degrees for 14 minutes.

Concord grape tart.
Delicious!

While I made this tart,
Amanda made this one with a peach and a plum....


Ooooooh, I am in pastry heaven.
Won't you join me for tea this afternoon?
We'll have tea in the orchard and fill ourselves with heavenly pastry!

And last, but never, ever least....here is this week's photos of Tyler
mixing it up with the pups.


Give Sammy a kiss....


Arghhhhh! Kissed by a dog!


This is one happy little boy!


Have a wonderful weekend....
hopefully you are not in the path of "Irene"!
If so, I wish you safety!

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