Sunday, August 28, 2016

Surprise! It's Elke!

Or maybe Uma. LBH hatched her other egg  this morning, and it's a little banty leghorn mix. Check out her fuzzy galoshes.

They're snacking on the perfect chick food: mushed-up hard-boiled egg. Mixed with a little dirt, of course, from the scratching of the hens. Good job, LBH!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Wait until spring, you bastards!

We're off the shearing hook - I found a neighbor who shears on Craig's List, and she recommends leaving the alpacas until spring. So we have an appointment for June. Her rates are low, and she likes alpacas. I hope she still likes them after June comes and goes. We still need to work with our two, though, or they'll decide they are the bosses of us.

We met Em and Liam at Green Bluff today and picked peaches, blackberries and corn. All that walking and wagon-pulling damn near killed me – I think my Green Bluff days are over. But we had corn on the cob for dinner, and peaches and cream for dessert. Blackberry pie is planned for tomorrow.

I spent a little time in the studio, moving my cache of windows to make room for shelving for wooden bits. I've got a zone for metal parts, and for plastics, glass, clay and paper. Tools will go in my antique dental cabinet on wheels and on pegboard. There are three big tables to work on, currently covered in piles of stuff to be sorted. I'm trying to get the tables cleared off and the wood stove set up. Then it's assemblage time! And maybe a weekly art night with arty friends.

Summer is officially over, and so are my Mondays off. Lo. So tomorrow will be spent in non-strenuous activities. Eating pie, for instance.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Bastard iguanas

Today after work we put on our big-girl panties (mine are very big indeed) and drove to the barn to address the iguana problem. The iguana problem is that it's nearly September, and they have not been sheared.

I'd like to take a moment here and say that I am not the one who wanted alpacas. Or goats. Let's make that clear.

So we've done battle with these two creatures before, and won. Pretty much. And we learned from our mistakes. I'm an expert now, having watched shearing videos on YouTube. And I have a cunning plan.

Note the green spit spray above his head.

I pick a corner where the little lean-to meets the side of the barn, and sink a big eye bolt. So we've got an inside corner with a wooden wall on one side and metal siding on the other. Two solid surfaces. C. catches Apollo or Appalling, as he is known now, and we hook him to the lead and run the lead through the eye bolt. So there he is, head held high in the corner where he can't spit on us. And we're in the middle area, pushing him against one of the walls and snipping away at his fuzz. This isn't so bad.

He's pissed and shoots green spit all over the corner, but can't get us. Neener neener. I have the lead so I can pull his head up tighter or loosen it if he wants to lay down. And I lean my powerful? massive? thigh into his side to keep him against the wall. He's fine. We're not hurting him, we're just making him do things he doesn't want to do.

And he goes absolutely apeshit, throws himself back and forth and up and down, tries to climb the wall, kick us, crush us against the walls. He's 150 pounds of hairy asshole gone berserk. We ride it out. He stands back up and catches his breath for about 30 seconds before trying it again. And again. And again. We finally give up. His neck is half naked, his side has some chunks missing, and his foot is bleeding from catching a screw on the metal wall.

What a spoiled brat.

We're bringing in some muscle, and we will shear him.

42 jars

No, not of beer on the wall. Of green beans. In the pantry.

That sounds like a lot, but if you figure on using a quart every week (and between the humans and the dogs we could use triple that), we don't quite have a year's worth. Still, it's good. And a whole lot more than last year, when the deer and goats were in the garden.

If we were pretentious or French, we could call them haricot verts, but we're not. Not French, anyway. And haricot verts are technically a skinny variety of green bean. If it was the olden days, we'd call them string beans, but plant breeders have done away (mostly) with the strings. So it's green beans though we grow Rattlesnake, a purple-streaked sort. Anyway, the purple fades in the canner.

The bean vines are having a little lull right now, but we're expecting them to come back and make another 42 jars full.

In other news, the two hens that have been setting on eggs have hatched three little black chicks, and have two more eggs in their nests.

That's LBH with her funny little chick, whose mother (birth mother? egg mother?) is the white banty leghorn. LBH is a sweet-natured little bird. By the time we noticed she was serious about setting we'd stolen all of her own brown eggs and eaten them, so we gathered eggs from our best layers and put them under her. I know it seems wrong. She should get to have some of her own babies. 

Here's Skeeter with one of her chicks. The egg was a little green one, so from Skeet or one of her sisters.
And I did a stupid thing. Skeeter started setting a week (?) or so after LBH. And I freely swapped the eggs back and forth between them any time I saw a missing mama bird. (Well, she might have decided to give up!) No, I didn't mark which ones were under which chicken. So the rest of the eggs should hatch in a week, if the hens don't quit setting on them. Which they might. And if they do hatch, the new little guys will have to struggle to keep up with the older chicks. C. says I should just "leave shit alone," which is probably true.

I am getting to use the lobster pot, though, since there is no way the little guys could survive on the chicken house floor with the rude flock of guineas tromping through. I dragged the pot out of the garden, parked it under the little pine outside our main door and set up two little nest boxes. I still need to add some screen or hardware cloth around the bottom to keep adventurous chicks in.

It's fire season, and there are several wildfires burning to the south and west of us. I believe about 3,000 acres and 15 houses have been burned. Scary stuff. Below, the sky Sunday evening.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Cabbage rolls

 With leaves like these, we just had to make cabbage rolls. (OK, we could have become fan dancers in a vegetarian stage show, but I'm not that flexible.)

The cabbage rolls were delicious. We ate half, and put the rest in the freezer for winter.

Got four eggs today; three yesterday. Bought two gallons of milk and two dozen eggs from Rose. 

We're working on box-training Marty the rabbit. He was pretty badly beaten up by the others in the colony, and we can't put him back in there. So he'll have to live in our bathroom with his pop, Smokey, who is a gentleman of impeccable personal habits. Marty's more of a slob. The strategy ( in case you need to house train your rabbit) is make use of the bunny trait of keeping the warren clean, peeing and pooping outdoors when they feed. So we have a litter box or tray with sand or newspaper set up in front of the food and water dishes. If the rabbit is smart and tidy, like Smokey, he figures out what the box is for and he'll use it even if you move it to a corner. If Marts turns out to be an idiot (and I have my suspicions) we'll just keep the box right in front of the food. 

You can see some of the bites on his back. His nose and mouth are chewed up as well. Poor little obnoxious runt. He isn't evil or anything – that's camera red-eye there. I think.

In other news, we grew an octocarrot. It was delicious.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Hot August

The weird rainy cool week in August is over, and we're back to the usual heat. It is cool at night, at least.

Another batch of green beans went through the canner for a total of 28 quarts so far.  There is nearly enough in the fridge for the next batch. This would be impressive if we didn't remember the year C. canned 300 quarts of beans – on a wood stove – back in the olden days when we worked harder and ate more. Still, it's good.

C. brought four of her soccer-ball-sized cabbages in, and we sliced them up and layered them with salt in the 10-gallon crock. I think there's room in there for another four.

I turned the rabbits loose in their yard. I still need to bring in some gravel for the middle area, to keep them out of any mud, but it's quite secure. They seem to like it, but need some toys and hidey-holes. It feels too exposed, they tell me.

Em and Richard came up today and got a load of wood for us. C. and I watched the little fellow. He was good, as always. He's getting big – nearly 5 months old now. I shamelessly Bogart him. C. gets him only when I have to pee or eat, or he gets crabby. He got to stroke one of the angora rabbits, and loved it. He is a fine fellow.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Detachable stinkhorn

Where did it go? Two days after C. discovered it, it's gone.

Maybe the guineas ate it?

I'm a little verklempt as I was looking forward to smelling it and being appalled.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Our first stinkhorn!

We're so proud. It popped up in the garden, in a bit of mulch. I think it's a mutinous elegans, or elegant stinkhorn. I didn't notice a pong, but perhaps that is to come.

Above, a purple Hungarian pepper and nasturtiums. Pretty. Below, one of C.'s many big cabbages soon to become sauerkraut.

In other news, Marty the rabbit has had his ass kicked and is covered in bites and scratches. He's a pushy little guy and probably asked for it. There is a disturbance in the rabbit-colony force, which causes everyone to act up and renegotiate the pecking order. I think it's because Rue is having a false pregnancy and is making a big messy nest and pulling her fur out. So let's help her out by fighting, boys! Good idea.

The rubber boa is still hanging around the chicken house, looking for mice. C. saw him yesterday.

Monday, August 8, 2016

C. is busy

So the third batch of 2016 pesto is in the freezer. And seven more jars of green beans are in the pressure cooker. And shredded zucchini is in the food driers (that goes in winter dog dinners). I shelled peas that'll go in the freezer tomorrow. And the rabbits got the usual big bowl of greens. She is busy.

The power went out Saturday right in the middle of the bread-machine cycle, so I took the poofy dough and made big rolls. They turned out great so I'm eating a lot of sandwiches. We're still waiting for big lush tomatoes, but I tried to push it and made pesto/parmesan/tomato sandwiches with chintzy little tomatoes. Not the same. You really need slabs of big beefy ones to do it right. Sigh. This does not look like a tomato year.

Tomorrow is work (from home).

The canning begins

There are 14 jars of green beans in the pantry, and nearly another batch (which is seven jars) in the fridge. And there are six big bags of books in the hallway. That's my first August weekend – the monthly Deer Park book sale, and the beginning of the summer canning season.

The kids came up for the book sale. Liam was cranky as his mother had eaten cheese. Em's gone mostly dairy-free since it seems to bother him. What a sacrifice! We loves the cheese in my family.

We got to babysit the little fellow Friday night. He was angelic. Must remember to tell Em we'll sit anytime, as long as she isn't eating cheese.

I could write more, and take some photos... but I have six bags of books. And some funky oatmeal cookies.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Tube food!

OK, I learned to eat in Wyoming. Meat, potatoes, salad (iceberg and store tomatoes), tuna casserole. Like that. Mexican food, sure. But I didn't have Chinese food until I was 19. And certainly we never had this world-food/Thai/sushi/curry/Vietnamese/Mongolian-barbecue stuff that everybody eats now. (OK, I tried a bite of eel sushi once. Gah. And raw fish sounds like a good way to bring parasites and pollution to the table.)

So I'm not adventurous in the food department. I don't do the '60s Wyoming meat-and-potatoes diet any longer, but I rarely eat in restaurants. I eat mostly out of the garden. No meat. Spuds and peas and beans. Pasta. Eggs. Brown rice. A little salad. Chocolate. You know: like a hippie, only more conservative.

But I had some spring rolls at the middle grandson's 26th birthday party the other day. Like salad in a tube! Way cool!

So why is ordinary salad so boring (crunch, crunch, crunch, bleh) – yet the same salad rolled in rice paper is awesome? Maybe finger food is more fun. Maybe flavor is improved when everything is squished together. Maybe the transparent container makes everything taste more colorful. Maybe it's the peanut sauce. Yeah, probably it's the peanut sauce. (Do they make peanut-sauce salad dressing? Why not?)

I've been making spring rolls from various combinations of rice noodles, garden greens, carrot slivers, cooked egg, snow peas, tomato and cucumber. My wrapping still needs work – they tend to be a little loose, and lose integrity toward the end. (Annie the dachshund is usually nearby in case of tubular explosion.)

These tube salads are tasty. Especially for something so completely adventurous. So wild and crazy. (Don't tell me they are healthy, and spoil it for my bad-ass self.)

Monday, August 1, 2016

Holy shit, it's August!

And we're having green beans for dinner!

There's just enough for tonight, with our leftover pasta stuff. There will be more tomorrow, though. And tomorrow and tomorrow.