Saturday, March 31, 2012

Kansas City Food Circle

Today I went to an "Eat Local" expo, held in Shawnee, where I work during the week.

It was very well attended... Shawnee is in Johnson County, where there is a healthy per-capita income.  Those are the folks who buy organic, eat organic, and grow organic. (Sorry to be so cynical)

As you see, there were quite a few farms selling plants.

This nice young woman from Sandhill Farm had homemade sorghum and homemade mustard.  I have always wanted to make mustard, but this was REALLY hot.  Thank heavens she was warning people!

This lady was selling organic soap, and I thought this was a neat idea... she was selling it in the blocks in which it came from the mold... and you could cut what you want!  The blocks were 20.00, and I thought that was pretty cool.

These folks were selling cheese... and guess what?  It was SHEEP cheese!  I wish I had bought some.  I totally missed a sign that said you could get a taste of cheese and a drink for 4.50, I would have done it.  Darn!

This was at the Badseed Farm booth... local people will understand this, it is an Urban Legend here in the KC area...
(at least, I THINK it was Badseed's)...

It is a tomato that is not only blooming, it's GOT TOMATOS on it!

They also had many different kinds of heritage tomatoes for sale, peppers, herbs, and lots of interesting things like rhubarb.

I bought a small jar of raspberry jalapeno jam to have on cream cheese tomorrow with Keith... a small container of emu oil hand cream (scrumptious!) and...... sorghum!

I brought home the directory, and am glad I went.  I spoke with the wife of an organic farming duo who used to live in our area and from whom I had bought pullets once.  Sadly, the farm they rented was lost, and they moved to a more remote country area where they do not have the customers that they had here locally. She told me that they are having a terrible problem with predators, and have lost much of their livestock, and I was very sorry to hear that, as they are nice folks.  They have six little towheaded sons, who were all lined up behind their table, too!

This same food expo will be repeated on the Missouri side of the state line in a few weeks.

The new hens are doing well.. the four in the big henhouse picked up on the fact immediately that they needed to come in with the other chickens tonight.  The little henhouse four are not so smart... that henhouse is reached by a long ramp... and they could not figure out for a second night how to get in.  We found them in the doghouse in that yard again, and Keith reached in this time and got them for me.  Hopefully, in a few days, they'll figure it out.  We did find one "strange" egg!  It was a beautiful, big, light brown one.

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Very Full Friday

Well, lots to talk about tonight. 

I got eight of my twelve new hens home, and am very, very satisfied with them! 

Here are pictures of them.  For tonight, four are in with Butch, Reddy, and Fancy and April in the feed room, and four are in with the little henhouse bunch.

As you can see, they are lovely hens.  I know they probably should have been isolated, but I know where they came from.  The browns are Cinnamon Queens, the others are mixes.

Here is a Cinnamon Queen I put in the little henyard.  I'm going to move ALL little birds out of there... the big roosters are just too hard on them.  As none of these big birds will be allowed to set, I think it will be better, and get the little birds somewhere safe.  It will be hard on the ones who are used to being inside all the time, but, I think, better for them.

Here are the other three in that henyard, the middle hen with her head down is an Ameracauna, so I was glad to get another green-egger.
The hen on the left looks a little older, but that's okay... three eggs a week from each will make me happy.

Do you believe these onions?

And the lettuce that we already need to thin out???

And Keith in the hoop house tonight where he has built a bench where new bin planters are going to go.  He got this idea from Mother Earth News this week... I'll explain more this weekend.

But here is the really, really FREAKY thing!

Here is the real proof the heavens have gone crazy... a tomato is blooming on MARCH 30th!

Never, ever, have I seen this.  What on earth can it mean????

I'll be trying to linkup with Farmchick's Friday Night Photos, either tonight or tomorrow... sometimes Mr. Linky goes up late!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Second Thursday Post!

Keith called me as soon as he left after lunch to tell me that there was a turtle in the yard.  We have a well house whose pump regularly dispels water into the drive, and the turtle was in the cool area near the wellhouse.  We hope he sticks around for the summer, it's cool under the deck and perfect for turtles and toads!

I was in the house, pitiful, aren't we?  I asked how I was supposed to park the car from now on, and Keith said, (of course) "you need to look for the turtle first".... and so we go.

I should have taken a picture!

Here are some I did take:

Here is Boots, who will be moving in with his harem in the next few days. You can see his "muffs" on either side of his face here.

Speedy looks almost as big as Boots here, but he is about half his size.  That's Nugget, the last buff cochin left.
Can you tell it was very windy?

There are storms in the region again tonight, but I don't think they will come our way.  A tornado watch is on for north of us.  I remember when tornado watches were called when I was a young girl.  I would be ready to go to the basement, and my parents would tell me to quit worrying... but I was the first to be ready to go downstairs if it looked like we had to.  Sometimes I would go by myself!

I can't help myself, I have to show you one more image... I just love these two little roosters. 

Keith was able to get scaffolding off Craigslist this week from an older couple who bought it a year ago and no longer needed it.  It was very economical.  We will be able to roof the new henhouse SAFELY now.  We will separate the hens from the boys at that point... making for a very lonely little henyard.

Tomorrow night I am going to go pick up some hens I am getting from a friend.  I'll be sure to take pictures of them.

Here is the last picture:

I just love the colors of these two!

I got something cool delivered here today... I'll share it with you all tomorrow.

In the meantime, be kind to each other!

A Two Post Day

Folks, I feel a two-post day coming on.

I'm home this afternoon, on a beautiful Thursday, with great temps, the sun shining, and peace all around. 
One of the bloggers on my sidebar has not had much peace lately, though, and that's what I'd like to comment about.

Bloggers blog for many reasons... some, political, some religious... some blog because they love to cook and share recipes, some are designers, whether professional or not (Brenda!) they love to share their loves with everyone else.  Some write the kind of day-to-day journals that many of us do, simply talking about what is happening around the home place, and what's growin', cookin', birthin', etc. for everyone to enjoy.

Ramona from "The Japanese Redneck" is one of those.  She and her husband have many rescued pets that they care for deeply, and a group of horses, several of which are shown regularly.  She has taken a beating recently for complaining in her blog about something that happened in a show recently... and those complaints and comments back at her were in accusing language, sore, and to the point towards her.  Because of it, her blog has gone private.  I don't blame her.  Life is hard enough without inviting criticism and complaints from the world at large, though you might say we bring it on ourselves by our blogging... I understand now why some bloggers check their comments for approval before posting.  I'm sorry, Ramona... I'm sorry you had to go private, because the greater world will miss you, and your lovely stories about your animals, your beautiful horses, and your great mosaic work.  It hurts me to think that there ARE people out there who care so little that they will make comments to someone whom they don't even know in person that are hurtful and harmful.  I "get" comment moderation now... and don't blame anyone who does it.  I have not had harsh words slung at me (yet) but I know they will probably come at some point.  I'll begin moderating then.  Until then... I hope we can all "just get along" and enjoy each other's posts and glimpses of each other's worlds.

Bessie says let's all be gentle with each other, too!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Stormy Night

As I write this, Keith is trapped in the truck, listening to the All KU channel (I'm laughing here) and I am in here with four very nervous dogs.  Abby is the only one that doesn't seem to be bothered by the thunder and lightening, and the hail that has been hitting the windows off and on.  I'm typing fast, hoping to get the post finished before the satellite stops receiving again.

I was asked last night in comments what kind of tomatoes that Keith had planted in the hoop house... they are Park's Whopper, Early Girl, Big Boy, and the cherry tomato Huskey.  Tonight he brought home some pepper plants, but I have not seen them yet.  I guess my peppers are going to go outside!

He also brought home a lovely simple potting bench from Ace Hardware, and it is put together and in the hoop house already.  One thing we know for sure.. we now have a place to keep our tools together, and to keep stacks of dirt, etc. out of the elements.  It will be interesting to see in the light of day how the plastic held up in the hailstorm just now.

Faithful Lilly Ann walked me to the gate this morning.

Lilly has Maybelline eyes. 
She also patrols the property during the day (and nights, now, too) while Ranger stays in the house with the little girls.  His hips are too bad to risk his running up and down the fence line.  When Lilly barks, we know there is something to look at... whereas Ranger barks at everything.

Currently blooming at Calamity Acres.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I don't mean to write about the hoop house ad nauseum, but it withstood it's first test today:  to wit, a storm. 

Here was the sky to the west this morning:

While to the east:

The storm came through about an hour later, and the wind whipped up very well.

 But Keith, who was working in here, did not get bothered by it. 
As you see, we have taken a chance and planted some tomatoes.  We have always had a good yield from tomatoes in containers, so we are experimenting.  We can always replant.  Keith told me tonight that he is going to make a potting bench inside, a place to store tools, and an herb table, built up off the ground, where I can plant kitchen herbs and go out and cut them for dinner.

Meanwhile, in the pasture pen with the Mille's, are two little hens from the little henhouse.

These two little silkie crosses NEVER came outside.  I don't think the white one had ever been out, and the little brown girl was only rarely out.  If you look close, you can see her poor little neck is bare, along with her back, because of the two big roosters.  There are two others in there being beaten up in the same way, but I have not moved them yet.  The little white girl was scared to death the first day, but now they are co-existing happily with the Mille Fleurs.  This little rooster is going to have to go, I want Boots to be breeding the Millies, who have yet to lay an egg.  I don't blame them, I'm sure they left a decent house to come live in a dog house.  I hope to rectify this later this summer.

Here is part of the black and white group in the pasture tonight.

I have a surprise coming on Thursday that I can't wait to tell you all about... I am going to take a half day on Thursday and a half day on Friday.  More to come about this later!

Monday, March 26, 2012

More on the Hoop House

We are expecting possible storms these next few days, and in fact, tonight when I got home I hurried to cut more grass, because it felt like it was going to storm.  I just looked... the waning moon is still glowing brightly and Jupiter is shining near it... but to the east it looks cloudy.

It was a touch windy tonight, and Keith decided to go ahead and finish weighing down the sides of the hoop house.

Here is a little closer look at how he did it.

He used the drill to drill holes in the landscape timbers, then drove the spikes through timber and plastic.  We used those same kinds of spikes to make the garden beds last year.

Sorry about how dark this picture turned out, but you can see how Keith tucked the ends on this side... it's the east side.  He will build a door in the middle, and a vent will be put in above on both ends.

Here's a better look at the interior.  We're planting tomatos in the whiskey barrels as a kind of experiment this year.  We have used containers before, and had great success with them.  The concrete stepping blocks were given to us, and we are putting peppers down the other side.  I'm hoping I'll get a potting bench at the far end.

The last picture tonight is of one of the onion beds... I swear they came up two inches since yesterday afternoon!

Last night I found a dog tick on me, and today another.  I have NEVER found ticks this early... I really, really think signs are pointing to a hard summer.  We treated all the dogs tonight for ticks/mosquitos/fleaswith K9 Advantix II.... and I will keep the grass cut as I can.... so the little ones don't surf through it "catching" ticks right and left.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Unexpected Blogging Vacation

Well, we had an unexpected blogging break over the weekend.  Grandsons Chris and Nathan were here to help us, and somehow, someway... I sat down at the new Dell and managed to disable the mouse, the printer and the wireless keyboard.  I finally used the screen keyboard today to find out I should disconnect everything plugged into the strip and the computer, turn it all off, turn it back on (with the touchscreen) and then let it reaquire the whole shebang.  Of course, this was AFTER I went to WalMart to get a wired keyboard and mouse, so now they will go to Nathan next weekend, with our 3 year old computer still in great working condition.

We're back in business, though.

Thank heavens the heavens dried up and the rain stopped. 
This was a view from the back of the mower today.  Believe me, it was not the wettest part of the yard.  I have never, ever cut before Easter... but I did half the yard today and will finish it tomorrow evening, I hope.

Normally I would not cut grass this wet, but we were stumbling in this grassy yard.  I'll try to do a before and after tomorrow night so you can see how high it was.

This little miss is in big trouble.  She has begun walking through the outer fencing... it is 4 x 4 livestock fence, which holds everyone else.  She got out into Troy's yard today, and then came up the road, and waited at the gate.  Keith found her when he came home from Home Depot... I was out calling her and looking for her at Troy's, so scared to death.  We are now going to have to go out with her every time, and follow her as she goes potty.  A pain, until we can think of a way to stop this behavior.

We don't like tying, but may have to think of something to protect her, like a porta pen.

And here.... (drum roll) is our hoop house!

I will post a picture of the nearly-finished building tomorrow.
As you can see, Keith had help from Chris and his girlfriend Haley, who helped us this weekend.

Here it is,"untucked".

While Keith had intended to put a door in either end, he has now decided to vent both ends, with a door in the east (left in this picture) end.  Tomorrow night I'll take pictures of the inside, and of the east end in it's "tucked" condition.  He's also going to build a potting bench at the west end, so we can start seedlings in there.

In talking with our neighbor Kathy tonight, we discussed the fact that it is 80 degrees out (fahrenheit) on March 24. We are afraid (and so are many other gardeners to whom I've spoken lately) that this foretells a wickedly hot summer, equal or worse than last summer.  I noticed when I took the kids to meet their mom today that many gardens are in and growing, and I actually saw one with tomatos up.  Kathy's opinion was "get them in early and harvest them early" and I think she might have something going there.

Onions are well up.  We have two beds so far.

As you see, the lettuce is also doing well, and we are starting a second bed this week.  We also have spinach growing well.

Peas, a cool season crop, could not even be started last year until May, because of the cold weather and snow and rain.  We got a very, very low yield.
This year they are off to a roaring start, but it may prove to be too warm for them to bear well.

Here's Gert helping Keith watch KU win tonight and go to the Final Four while I fixed a simple dinner of spaghetti with homemade pesto (thanks to my friend Gretchen) that was OH so good with some fresh Italian bread.  A perfect way to end a lovely weekend.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Born Free Part II

The day dawned as if it were going to clear.

But by the time I left for work, fog was rolling in.

During the day, it cleared, got cloudy, cleared, and then another storm rolled in and it rained again.

When we got home, we did chores.

Men, stop reading here.

I seriously need a new bra.

So after we ate dinner, I walked down (squelched down) into the pasture to see what was going on down there.  The Spehar's ponds are out of their banks.

If you look to the left, the nearest pond has flooded up onto the banks.  Biggify it and you will see. It looks like Mr. Spehar has been excavating down there trying to make a place for the water to run into. (out of camera view to the left)  You can JUST see Mr. Spehar's garden at the foot of our hill... the dark area is tilled and his stakes are up at the left... the white sticks you see.

So, I wandered over to the left, the north, to look at the pond in the calves' pasture, also out of it's banks.

 I know the Spehars are watching that the calves don't get stuck in the mud.  Our pasture was very bad....and I noticed that the llamas have been sticking to the highest ground for their paths.
I also noticed that I was going to have to get the pasture brush-hogged (aka bush-hogged) before I can start mowing it... the grass is growing that fast.

As I turned to go, I heard a sound that made me laugh out loud.

I turned around, and this is what I saw:

Uh-huh.   They didn't go very far.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Soggy Day in Tongie Town

Whew.  We've had a lot of rain, and it looks like it is about to cut loose again.

Farmdogs Gertie and Lilly (by Oscar's tree); the driveway is pretty flooded, and can you see the lowering clouds in the distance?

Need I even say that the poor chickens have nasty yards... and the smell!  Whew!

The poor new Milles are toughing it out in the nursing cage together, since their pen is almost too sodden to be in.  I may let the little girls out tomorrow on the feed room side, for Butch to take care of.  Well, two of them, anyway.

Even Bessie wanted back in, and did her best to get me in the door.  I was glad to get in as well.  It is 63 degrees out at 9:13, but still blowing and misting.  We expect at least another day and a half of rain, and then hopefully clear skies for the weekend.  I'm not sure but that the grass may still be too wet to cut by then.