Category Archives: Cats, dogs, chickens, and other critters

Where’s the food, already?

I know, a real dearth of food and garden stuff lately. This morning when I got back up after my few hours of sleep, it was 35 degrees and rainy outside. Brrr. Where’s my spring?

It’s also that time of the year when the whirlpool of month end and previous year end paperwork/filings/activities are at full blast, which leaves only a little time for the other things I like to do. Since it’s still spitting rain and not going to warm up outside past 50 or so, and everyone is gone, leaving just me and the animals, it’s a perfect day to blast through as much of this stuff as humanly possible.

We will return to the goodies eventually – next week, we will be building more frames and mixing the soil to fill them, getting seeds started, and in general working on more prep for the garden. For some reason, I don’t give as much love to the winter garden as the summer. It may be because half the stuff I cannot/will not eat (lettuces for the former, brussels sprouts for the latter), and this year it may be because I hate the plants we picked up from Home Depot to transplant and get us kickstarted (that would be the broccoli, which has been a complete loser, in my opinion – we’ll be starting some anew from seed). The garlic is going gangbusters, though. I just hope it doesn’t rot in the ground from the weird rains we’ve been having.

The spring and summer gardens should be huge, given all the seed we have. In the past two days, we’ve received shipments of worm castings, chicken manure, and a batch of tomato and pepper seed varieties we’re going to try. We’re awaiting the arrival of some worms and a will have a bin for our wormy friends to do some composting in addition to the regular compost pile we have. There are also more seeds en route because – and there’s no other way to put it – I must be insane.

We still need to:

– find a permanent place for the asparagus.

– build a coop for the upcoming chick parade, with laying boxes.

– get the greenhouse up, but only after the latest five loads of topsoil that isn’t really topsoil is spread – it’s swamp muck more than topsoil, and completely unlike the nice loads we got last time from this very same place. Since they’re not entirely as consistent as we’d like, as they apparently do not go to the same pit on a load to load basis, we will simply find another supplier. Topsoil ain’t exactly cheap, and since we need a lot of it around here to top off our sand and fill various areas, it makes no sense to use a provider who cannot perform to the standards we need.

– figure out which trees we will plant where out front when it does warm up into spring.

– plant all these damn sagos my uncle keeps giving my mother and she keeps bringing in.

– edge off the driveway to keep the slag in place.

– figure out where we’ll put the fences around the huge garden area we’ll have to keep the bunnies from thinking it’s a free lunch around here.

– put up some solar-powered exterior lights on the corner of the barn.

– pick up some more coastal hay for mulching and moisture control as I continue my quest to extend our grassy area out front.

– get the pasturegrass started on the west side of the property, as a place for the rolling coop and an area where we can eventually cut our own hay.

– put together a menu that will help keep cholesterol ranges in the norm. Mom’s latest bloodwork came back with a sky high count, my sister’s is also high, and I’m sure now that I’m eating again, mine has gone back up to my BC levels. In our family’s case, it’s more hereditary than dietary (although diet of course contributes), so there are limits to what diet alone can do – that’s why there are drugs for that and why we’ll probably all be on them at some point. I was, until the first surgery, in fact.

– various other things too numerous to mention, but which all fit right in with our homestead theme.

Cleaning house

Or at least some files. Being able to take a bazillion shots with a digital camera means there are a bazillion images to sort through “later”. And by “later”, I mean “at some point, probably, when you’re bored out of your mind, taking a break from answering tickets and doing server/network maintenance, and have turned off the tv and disabled the news crawl on the computer screen because it’s all about Heath Ledger dying”. That kind of later.

Awhile back, I had posted a picture of our spidery neighbor, who hung around the front of the place all season. That spider put up a couple of egg sacs and then promptly did what spiders do a few days later. Died.

Dead spider

The eggs are still up there for now, although we’re probably going to have to get rid of them.

Newton likes the organic veggie juice that, coincidentally, my mom also likes.

Newton likes the juice

I’ll add that while I will eat after the dogs when they have had something off my fork, mom refused to drink after Newton. Sissy.

Funny face

And finally, say hello to my nephew, due in a couple of months. Yours truly will be cooking for the gaggle of girls appearing on the doorstep here for the baby shower.

Baby boy

Doing the funky chicken

Or maybe not.

Tonight’s dinner plan was to roast a chicken (salt, pepper, ginger, fresh orange, onion) for dinner. When I started peeling it out of its wrapper, it smelled like a three week old chicken left in hundred degree heat after a skunk had sprayed it. In other words: no chicken tonight. Fortunately, there was cheesy potato vegetable chowder to be had on this gloomy, rainy evening.

My seed packets are spread out on the table, with the exception of the packets of the sungold tomato seed, which I can’t lay my hands on this instant. I need to get some flats started in the garage under the heat and grow lights, in an area which will also house some special guests for several weeks: chicks. Yes, we will have a few chickens when all is said and done, and they’ll be here in mid February to take up residence with the rest of the zoo.

It’s going to be an interesting spring around the homestead…

Gears

I had big, big plans for the two acorn squash I had picked up at the store: Baked, stuffed with a wild rice mix, and served as a side to a couple of seared balsamic-glazed, bone-in pork chops.

Sometimes things just don’t work out that way. The menu I’m saving for another day. The squash, though, had to be dealt with before they melted into goo on the countertop. That would have taken awhile, but better to address that sooner (when the squash would still be tasty) rather than later (when there would be a rather icky cleanup duty involved).

First things first: gather the ingredients. I decided a honey-soy glaze would work.

Starting out

Cut into rings and remove the seeds. Since we are the composting types, the innards were saved for that.

Rings of gold

Off they go to a baking sheet, awaiting their fate. Since they look like gears, it was amusing to play with the rings on the sheet, interlocking them.

Lined up and ready to go

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Light seasoning

Into the oven they go. Every so often, I brushed them with a mixture of honey, soy, ginger, salt, pepper, and lime juice. I also stepped outside to watch the approach of the first cold front that was to bring the deeper cold front a day or so later.

Storm approaching

What a good dog, staying in the doorway as he was told! He’s a handsome devil, too.

Handsome devil

The squash is tender and ready for anyone who wants it. I did. Delicious.

Delicious

And so it goes

Every so often, I look at this blog and wonder if it’s worth the bother. I think my life must be terribly uninteresting and the failures here at the homestead have far outnumbered the successes in the gardening realm. Still, on the rare occasions that someone does come by, as my aunt and uncle did this weekend, and looks at the place with their eyes instead of mine, it reminds me that being too close to something can give you tunnel vision sometimes.

So here’s what’s been going on around here of late, beyond the workaday crap that made August a hellish month, stress-wise – a month in which I managed to lose eight pounds, dropping me to 100 even. I’m working on keeping the needle there and climbing, and thus far, the “keeping the needle there” part is working out better than the “climbing” part.

I had worked my ass off to prep a bed of corn, which started out well.

Very well.

And then, there was zero rain. None. Zilch. Nada. So I was trying to water. Then I had some kind of animal run through this back side of the plot – probably the damn dog next door, who is forever running all over our property. And then these critters showed up, along with the corn earworms.

I don’t think I could have done enough to turn that plot into arable soil that would sustain growth to maturity. Between all of those factors, the corn withered, and eventually had to be cut down. A total loss of the time and effort spent.

I’d put in a line of limas, which I hate, for other people to eat. Out of eight seedlings, two survived. Neither has put out any beans as of yet, although they both have flowers.

I had also set up several cucumber plants, of two varieties: picklers and lemon cukes. One of each survived, and this lone pickler, along with one lone lemon cuke, are the output so far.

Continue reading And so it goes

Care for a swim?

It took us awhile to get the dogs in the pool. Newton isn’t a big fan of it – and I have the scratches to prove it. Not that he meant to, of course, but he was desperate to get out of the water and back on dry land.

Mickey, on the other hand, has turned out to be part fish, or so it seems. It may just be the puppy in him, which makes him rather fearless (like any child). Or it may just be that he loves to swim. Or a little of both.

Take a look.

Visitor to the estate

“Look out the window,” my mom shouted to me. I looked, saw nothing. “You won’t believe this!”

I was unable to figure out what in the world she was talking about – after all, my view out the window includes the pool area and some of the patio, and other than the heat waves radiating off everything, there was nothing extraordinary going on out there.

So I thought.

Continue reading Visitor to the estate