Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saying Goodbye To Robert

As many of you know we got four baby chicks this past spring with the promise that we might have our own fresh eggs some time before fall. But then we decided why not buy two hens that are already laying in the interim, and so we did. We built an enclosed run and separated it so the two older ones could be on one side, and when the little ones outgrew their brooder, they could be placed in the other section. They have been coexisting with the older ones for some time now.

We have enjoyed seeing them grow and stretch their wings over the past 13 weeks. Rosie, the Buff Orpington, seemed to be growing faster than the other chicks, and was actually taller than the Buff hen we had purchased.

Several weeks ago we heard what appeared to be a crow, and my husband said, That's the rooster next door.

Hm, not so sure, because it sounded closer than that. Of course you have guessed the rest of the story: he had begun to crow on a regular basis and was now chasing the girls around. Since our intention was not to have a rooster, we decided to sell him. Yesterday I placed an ad and by evening had received a phone call.

Early this morning we put Robert in the brooder and met a wonderful family of four, two beautiful children who loved talking about their chickens; and a lovely young lady and her husband who smiled and listened as she translated the conversation between us. They too had recently gotten little chicks and were raising them along with laying hens and were looking for a rooster that was gentle. Yes, they wanted Robert.

She began to hand me the money, but I shook my head. You can have him. The smiles that followed were payment enough.What a great start to our day!

One more story

Over the years friends of ours have been rescuing feral kittens that show up in their hay barn or behind a wood pile, and successfully, they have found loving homes for them. Well, she did it again: the feral mother cat had another litter of 5. We decided to take one to foster until we could find a good home; within two days she was gifted to a single working mother and her 16-year old daughter.

I called them the following day, and the mom said, "My daughter loves the kitten and they have bonded beautifully." That eased my concern, but each time I see these photos I can't help but wish we had kept her. However, I remind myself that there will always be many that need a home.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Garden Harvest and Roasted Asparagus and Peppers with Goat Cheese

We picked our first head of cauliflower yesterday afternoon while walking in the garden with friends and in between rain drops. As was noted in my garden journal, this was about three weeks later than last year's cauliflower harvest.

Brassica oleracea 'Purple of Sicily' is an Italian heirloom that was a new addition to our vegetable garden this year. A lovely purple that turns to bright green upon cooking, she weighed less than a pound as opposed to an expected 2-3 pounds, but with the cold and rainy season we have had so far, we will gratefully accept what we are given. She was beginning to open up, and I wasn't about to let that happen. Of course I did a taste test as I brought it back to the house, and the report is sweet, tender, tasty, and I suspect we may find it again in the fall garden. Imagine the lovely splash of color on your veggie tray.

Our first tomato, Solanum lycopersicum 'Stupice', an heirloom from Czechoslovakia, is one I always start each year since it is the first one to ripen and the last to produce in the fall garden, a tasty 5-7 ounce beauty. We put this one in a pot in the hoop house in order to speed it along in this year's cold and rainy June. That seems to have paid off.

The broccoli we planted last fall has continued to outperform but is now beginning to go to seed; yesterday I picked what may be the final few of B. oleracea 'Purple Sprouting'. This English heirloom is quite stunning in the garden and tasty right off the vine.

While this goes seed, B. oleracea 'Calabrese' should continue to yield its compact green side shoots throughout the summer. We gathered one pound yesterday.

A few young Walla Walla sweet onions, our first pound of fresh strawberries, and the last of the Spinacia oleracea 'Bloomsdale', made for a great salad with toasted pecans and a vinaigrette dressing.

What is likely the final picking of our asparagus, I could think of no better way to serve them than as an appetizer with roasted peppers and goat cheese during our friend's visit yesterday to the garden.

Roasted Asparagus and Peppers with Goat Cheese
from Diana's kitchen

8 small sweet peppers, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
16 asparagus tips
extra virgin olive oil
5 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon finely minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to broil. Place the peppers and asparagus in a bowl; drizzle with olive oil, toss to coat and place on a baking sheet. Broil in the top third of the oven for 5-6 minutes, turning them over several times during the process until slightly brown.

To the goat cheese, add the garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper and combine well. Place a teaspoon of the mixture on each pepper half, top with the asparagus, and spritz with a little extra virgin olive oil.

Served with a chilled Italian sparkling wine, Presecco, and enjoyed in our little tea room in the garden.

Monday, June 4, 2012

May's Garden Speaks Volumes

At this time of year we are normally working a little less and enjoying the garden more, but this year's March snow storm set us back considerably. Compounding that cleanup, which is still not complete, we built a run for our chickens, are now mulching the flower beds, continuing to trim, and of course the vegetable garden has top priority.

But in the midst of all of that we are encircled with blossoms and fragrance and beauty that keep us grounded. And since I've strained a few hip muscles (should be back at it in a few days), it has given me an opportunity to take a little time and share some of our month of May with you... so few words, but it speaks volumes.

Erysimum linifolium


Erysimum and Melianthus major
Acer schirasawanan Autumn Moon
Davidia involucrata

Apple blossoms_4 May 2012

The girls at 8 weeks
Malus 'Prairifire'
Picea abies 'Mountain Dew

Tiggy, our rescued feral, overseeing the garden

"Guarding my oat grass"
Black-headed Grosbeak
9 weeks old
Paeonia suffruticosa, Chinese Tree Peony

Syringa vulgaris ‘Ludwig Spaeth’
Spinach and lettuce 'Merlot'
"hm ... there is a good looker in the mirror"

Rhododendron 'Lee's Dark Purple'


north side of the garden


Brassica oleracea (brussel sprouts)
first cabbage head forming
I. germanica 'Portrait of Laurie'


C. 'Nellie Moser'

Picea abies 'Mountain Dew'

Picea pungens 'Montgomery'

Laburnum anagyroides (Golden Chain Tree)

Viburnum plicatum 'Mariesii'


"I pretty much rule"

Zelda, our Silver-laced Wyandotte
Rosa rugosa
Allium and Athyrium niponicum (Japanese Painted Fern)
Solanum lycopersicum 'Prudens Purple' blossom
Astrantia 'Ruby Wedding'
C. 'H.F. Young'
the last 3 Cucurbits into the garden
End of the day and Cotinus coggygria 'Golden Spirit'