Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ducks and stuff...

 It has been a busy week here on the farm. I had some kind of disease (I think) wipe out my entire clutch of chicks. They didn't seem sick until, all of the sudden, they fell over and died. I cleaned out the incubator and the brooder, and I now have 22 eggs in the 'bator. A dozen of those are from my own hens and the other 10 are from a nearby farm. My eggs are EEs, of course, and so are 4 of the eggs from the farm. The other 6 are, as my husband tells me, "Red something." Lol, I'm guessing they're either RIRs or New Hampshires. Either way, that makes me happy, as I wan't expecting hatching eggs when he went on his little errand this afternoon.
 I was, on the other hand, expecting ducks, since that's what he said he was going to get. I was expecting 6 or maybe 10 new ducks. Imagine my surprise when he got out of the truck and had 24 ducklings in a box and 2 buckets!! He also got me 4 Wheaten Maran chicks and 1 Black Maran chick! 

Maran chicks

24 Pekin ducklings in their temporary pen
  I think I'll need a bigger pool!!

It suddenly seems inadequate...

 On Monday my baby girl turned 4 years old. I'm not sure how it happened, but there you go, she's officially a big girl now. I miss the baby years and I'm sad that I'll never have that again. Happy birthday, Bug!

Lily, on her 4th birthday
  In the garden, weeds are trying to take over, so the kids and I will be spending the first few days of summer vacation pulling them (their last day of school is tomorrow.) The bush beans are getting to the end of production, so we'll be putting in a new batch in a week or so. Tomatoes are finally getting ripe. We've only had enough to eat right off the vine so far, but soon we should be getting several pounds of tomatoes a day.

Cherry tomatoes and green beans

 In the herb garden, some of the Nest Egg gourd stems have started turning brown, so I pulled about a dozen off and have them in a box in the closet to dry and cure. If they turn out well I'm going to let the kids paint them and use them as Christmas tree ornaments. My original plan was to use them as dummy eggs in the chickens nests but they turned out so much bigger than I expected. I think planting them where I had added so much chicken manure last fall might be why they grew so big. One really interesting thing is that the fruit from the 3 vines look very different. One is big and pear shaped, one is medium and egg shaped, and one is smaller, round and striped. 

I put an egg in the middle, just for reference, they're all much bigger than the egg
 For the next week, we will be working on getting into a summer schedule and prepping for a visit from my sister-in-law, mother-in-law, and grandmother-in-law, but I will take some more pictures of the ducks and, maybe, get the post about Mike's watermelons done. 
 Blessed be...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tomatoes and other good stuff

 I got my first ripe tomato from the garden this week and more are starting to change color!! This is what I've been waiting for since February. I did share too, even though I didn't want to. I probably should have let it go for another day or 2 to get even riper, but I just couldn't resist. It was still a million times tastier than a grocery store tomato.

This is going to be the second ripe tomato of the year

Small Red Cherry tomatoes are almost there

I got rid of the blossom end rot I was fighting on the Romas


My German Green tomatoes are blooming

 Aside from that I've been getting tons of summer squash. The patty-pan are the best producers so far, but the zucchini are doing pretty good too. The yellow squash are just doing so so. I've made squash fritters (they were amazingly yummy), squash pickles, fried squash, sauteed squash, squash in soup... Well, you get the idea. I got a great recipe from my great gardening friends at The Easy Garden Forum for a summer squash chocolate cake that I'll be making and feeding to Ian (aka: Mr. I Hate Vegetables) to see if he likes it.

Lily likes to help harvest 

The rest of the garden is doing well too. I've harvested okra, radishes, wax peppers, and pickling cucumbers which, along with some squash and some tiny onions, all got made into pickles. It was my first try, but everything worked the way it were supposed to and they look pretty.

The pink ones have radishes in them
 The winter squash are starting to produce little fruit and one watermelon plant has a teeny tiny melon on it. The corn is also starting to get ears, which means we'll have plenty of time to get another crop in after this one is done. Peppers and tomatillos are also doing well.

Itty bitty watermelon

Winter squash (it's about the size of a baseball now)

An ear of corn starting to develop

Wax peppers
 In other garden news, Mike has enlarged the garden enough to add 16 more watermelon hills. He just mowed the area as short as he could and then dug up the hills and added bunny poo to each one before planting the seeds. We might also put some corn in this area this year, if we can get the tiller fixed or borrow one.

The new watermelon area
 On the animal front, I hatched out 13 new chicks last weekend and they are outside in the brooder. One of my Buff Orps has gone broody and is sitting on 6 eggs, so I'll have more chicks in a couple of weeks. The rabbits are getting bigger and we should be able to process them in a couple of weeks. I lost 2 of my ducklings to a predator this week, it happened during the day and both the dog and the cat were in the house, so I'm thinking a hawk. Now we just have Duck, Goose, and Jill, but I may be getting some Pekins this weekend to add to my flock. And our kittens are adorable and into everything these days. I may have a home for one already.

My favorite is the black one in front

They're hoping I have treats

Here's all 5 ducklings a few hours before Duck and Jack disappeared

Looking for trouble to get into

Miss Broody (since I don't name my hens all broody chickens get called Miss Broody)

 That's it for now, I gotta go check the tomatoes for hornworms and maybe fold the mountain of clean laundry that's trying to take over my living room.
 Blessed Be...

Monday, May 21, 2012


 We have had visitors to the farm in the last week...
 First my father in law and his wife came from California. It was nice to have them here and the kids were so excited to see Papa and Wavy. They got to tour the garden and meet all the animals. We didn't really DO anything, but we had a great time hanging out and catching up. Gabe was especially sad when it was time for them to leave, and now keeps asking to "go to the airplane, go to California."

Papa and Gabe

Papa and Ian, discussing literature

Papa and Wavy brought the twins some books
  Then my grandparents drove up from Lincoln to go to my cousin Amanda's baby shower in Ft Worth. The plan was for Papa Davis to drive Grandma here on Sunday and then us girls would go to the shower, while Papa stayed here and hung out with the Mellor guys and little Lily. On Saturday afternoon I was in the kitchen, thinking that I had the rest of the night to finish the blanket I was making for the baby when my grandparents drove up. I freaked out, thinking that I had the day wrong, and ran to get dressed. It turned out that THEY had gotten the day wrong, the shower was on Sunday, but that meant that they got to spend the night and we had a very nice, if somewhat unexpected visit. Papa told me about his Mama's garden when he was a little boy and how she would cook squirrel in gravy and pour it over biscuits. Grandma told me about living in Selma, Alabama during the civil rights movement and how she saw the Selma to Montgomery march from Great Grandma Davis' front porch. Sunday we drove up to the baby shower and had a great time. Papa stayed here and learned how to find all his favorite old Westerns on Netflix.

Me, Daniel, Amanda, and Grandma (I made the little purple blanket and a tiny hat for the baby)

The parents-to-be
 In between visits I got some things done around here. We started to get blight on the potatoes, so we quickly dug them and burned the infected plants. That gave us a big empty spot in the garden that Mike has filled with watermelon. (Expect a post on Mike and watermelons in the near future.) We are getting some summer squash and there are tons of tomatoes on the plants, but none are ripe yet. 

Potatoes and green beans

Summer squash fritters with green onions and parsley

They're taunting me...

 I dried some herbs in my yard sale food dehydrator and put them in pretty jars.

Basil, Tarragon, and Celery salt
 We have lots of babies on the property... ducklings, rabbits, kittens, and a new bunch of 13 chicks that hatched over the weekend. I love baby animals.

Duck, Duck, Goose, Jack, and Jill with Lily, Aislyn, and Ian

This may not end well for poor little Smudge

One of the kittens, the kids call him Socks, for obvious reasons

Chicks in a hat
 That's all the time I have today. I need to go pick some squash and green beans for dinner tonight. Blessed Be...

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Good morning everyone! I have just been out in the garden and I am so happy with the way things are coming. I do have a few problems though. Cabbage moths have wiped out my brassicas. I didn't get a single cabbage or broccoli, and the collards are waving the white flag as we speak. I'll be pulling those and putting in more carrots and beets. Oddly enough, the Swiss chard is doing fine. I tasted it and discovered WHY none of the bugs want to eat's nasty and bitter. I'll be pulling that out too. The spinach is hanging on, but just barely, so I think it's time to pull that and put in some more cucumbers. I've come to the conclusion that the cool weather crops will need to go in in the fall here, spring just doesn't last long enough this far south.
 My other problem child in the garden is the eggplant. I'm pretty sure that flea beetles are eating them up. I'll be going out and dusting them with DE later today to see if I can knock the bugs back and give the plants a chance to recover.

Sad, sad eggplant
 Now for the good news. My tomatoes are doing great. Every plant out there is either blooming or already has fruit on it. I spend a good part of my day out there WILLING the fruit to ripen so that I can eat one. Gabe is having a hard time waiting too, every time he goes out there with me he tells me' "Want a tomato!" I have to keep a close eye on him to keep them from picking the green ones.

This is the first tomato I planted this year in the herb bed

One of my cherry tomatoes,  it keeps growing new suckers on the ends of the fruiting branches

Roma, Aunt Ruby's German Green, and Beefsteak tomatoes

Beefsteak tomatoes
 The peppers and tomatillos are also doing well. Some of the plants have fruit. So far, the ones that are doing the best are the Hungarian Wax peppers, Seranos, and the Jalapenos. I planted the Habanero from seed, so they are still tiny, but since our season lasts until October or November I'm not too worried about getting a harvest from them.

Hungarian Wax pepper


 All of the squash seem to be doing well too. I harvested my first zucchini today, and one of the patty pan will be ready to be picked in a day or two along with some of the yellow squash. My acorn squash and pumpkins have started vining and I even have two tiny acorn squash forming already. In the herb bed I have a couple of Nest Egg gourds, they have gone crazy. There are about 20 fruits on them and they look more like pterodactyl eggs than hen's eggs, I don't think I'll be fooling any chickens with them, they'll probably run, screaming if I put one in the nest box.

This isn't even the biggest Nest Egg gourd

Tiny acorn squash

My first zucchini!

Pattypan squash

Itty bitty pumpkin

And they're off, the pumpkins are vining

I have harvested a couple of cucumbers already, too. They were pickling cukes, but they still tasted yummy. I can't wait until I have enough to make my first batch of pickles!

Pickling cucumber (or as Gabe calls them "little pickles")
Let's see...what else is doing good? Oh yeah, the sunchokes I planted last week are starting to come up, which excites me. I've wanted to try them for awhile. The okra is flowering and even has one pod on one plant, I'll have to learn to make gumbo soon. The onions are bulbing up and we have pulled a few to use, but most will stay in the ground until they get bigger. My bush beans are flowering, so I should be able to start harvesting in a week or so. The pole beans take a little longer, they are just starting to vine, but they will produce through the summer. And, last, the corn is doing well. It's about halfway between my knee and my hip. I can't wait to have fresh corn on the cob to grill. It's the veggie that makes the biggest difference between homegrown and store bought. No corn in a store will ever be as good as corn fresh from the garden.




Bush beans

Pole beans


Anyway, that's it for today. I have tons of chores to get done. Blessed Be...