Saturday, July 31, 2010

And in Farm News...

We have Franklin from WindyFields Farm over here whining away.  

We have someone coming this morning to look at  a pair of wethers and since we still aren't sure about selling Aria's Mozart, we thought we'd bring over Franklin to pair up with Samson.  Aria is looking a bit rough these days (she's our old lady) and I just don't have the heart to take the chance that she'll be fine without her Mozart.  I think she'd be all right with another unpaired goat to cozy up with...but well, I'm not sure.  And that's what makes me a softy farmer.

We had someone interested in a pair of does...but we're still waiting to hear back.

So, we will keep you posted on the farming goings ons!  And don't forget to vote above!

Short Story Winner!

The Two Brothers

The fireworks were spectacular.  Bright streams shot across the clear sky, reflected in the smooth water below.  The cracks and booms, and shrieks from the spectators on the crowded dock, were enough to wake the dead.  Unfortunately.

Long slumbering souls stirred amongst the roots of the weeds further up along the shallow shoreline.   Two stiff necks creaked, as long unused ears strained to identify the source of the sounds.  Four damp eye sockets squinted at the surface of the water, saw the streaks of flame shooting across the sky.  Wondered.

A finale of thunderous noise and lights was accompanied by equally thunderous shouts and applause from the persons on the dock.  It was joined by a few appreciative hoots and shouts from camps across the water.  And the mournful howling of one frightened dog.

Slowly the noises faded.  Silence gathered.  But the watery sleeping souls were now awake.  Moving.  Bony limbs burrowed through the thick mud at the bottom of the lake.  Small stones scraped at remembrances of flesh as fingers and then arms disturbed the rocky surface of the lake bottom.

The two souls worked their way out of the muck and then crawled on all fours along the watery shallows at the edge of the lake, occasionally breaking the surface of the water, occasionally sinking back below.  Fifty good yards they travelled, slowly, until the slime covered head of one bumped against something hard, wooden and dry.

The brother followed as he mounted the obstacle, both creeping like cautious iguanas.  Snuffling about the hard flat surface of the dock, the brothers wrinkled their noses at the acrid smell of the firework tracings.  Together, almost as one, they suddenly turned their faces toward the sky, sniffing the air as the wind shifted, and raising themselves up from their crouched positions like the first prehistoric man to lift his blistered knuckles off the ground and stand.

The air was hot.  Steamy.  A mist roiled over the flat surface of the lake.

And as one their faces turned towards the dimly lit cabin up the step on the shore.  Snuffling, grunting, they moved towards the light.  They stumbled on the jutting, uneven rocks that made the stairway up to the ground floor door.  Unwisely unlocked.

Slimy fingers slipped and fumbled over the door handle.  It had been a long time.  Then the door creaked open.  The smell of the warm bodies filled their noses.  Bare feet crept along a slightly cooler corridor.   Slapping on the soothing cold concrete.  Many years under the lake, the heat out of the water was thick.

The brothers entered a  tiny bunk room and sniffed at the sleeping forms, barely covered in their beds.  The first reached out and touched the sweaty forehead of one.  The other ran a dead finger over a clump of long dark hair that spread across the pillow.

Not finding what they thirsted for, they turned away.  Swampy breath congealed over a half a dozen more sleeping forms in the cabin.  Upstairs and down.  The brothers began to boil with anger and a parched and thirsty hunger.

Then a low hum caught the one’s attention.  They stumbled into a kitchen they had passed by before, following the beckoning hum and stood before a large white sweaty box.  A box that murmered and seemed to breathe, calling out with a soothing song.

The other brother ran his hands over the sweaty mystery, confused.  And then he pulled in frustration at a protrusion along one side.  A small door flew open, and the brother fell backwards as many cold hard projectiles launched upon him.  The first brother picked one up, it almost slipped out of his algae covered bony hand,  He squinted at it, licked it, and then smiled with glee.


The following day there was much bickering in the cabin about who had eaten whose ice cream.  The only thing ever determined was that somebody had eaten it all.  And left a big mess.

THE END

by Katie

Many...many judges called this one...'laugh out loud funny!' --and now you know why we had so much trouble choosing a winner!

Poetry Winner!!

One of the judges said that this poem was "insightful, poised, and captured the essence of summer."


Inspiration
June 22, 2010
What is summer?
Summer is when the fireflies light up the sky at nightfall,
When the long, eerie shadows of the moon dance among the trees.
Summer is when the ghosts of temperature seep into our homes,
And warm us to discomfort while our eyes are shut.

What is summer?
Summer is when the fields get taller and taller,
Then shrink as the tractor chug, chug, chugs along.
Summer is when the cows out on pasture moo a song
In chorus with the chirping chickadees in the trees.

What is summer?
Summer is when the grass tickles between our toes,
And earthworms crawl beneath our feet.
Summer is when wet kids dance around a sprinkler,
And their mother tends the garden, in hope of a good harvest.

What is summer?
Summer is when honey bees wander out from the hive,
Then rest and gather around the dandelions, in peace.
Summer is when young butterflies spread their wings,
And gracefully flutter about a world new to their eyes.

What is summer?
Summer is the taste of sweet tea,
And the sticky juice of a watermelon drizzling down our chins.
Summer is a cold chocolate Fudgsicle, melting in the heat,
Leaving a ring of chocolate around our chins,
and a sense of satisfaction in our bellies.

I know what summer is.
Summer is all of these things.
Plus one.
Summer is…inspiration


Kelsea 
Windyfields Farm

Friday, July 30, 2010

Autumn Writing Contest

AND we have our first entry for the Autumn contest.  Damn...I was hoping we could get out of doing it....

Who's idea was it to have a contest anyway?

Our judges are tied for who belongs in first place.  We asked several people to judge, so that we would have a variety of comments to work with.  But instead, we now have a handful of people split down the middle over who should have the first place seat.  And so, we will have to rethink our judging for the fall contest...maybe we'll just put all the entries in a hat and pick the winner that way.  Or, at least do that with the top two!

In any case, what we've decided this time is that we are going to award the top two entries the first place spot.  Maybe we'll call it: the poetry winner and the story winner.

So, over the weekend, we will post our winning entries.....

And maybe, we'll post a poll on which entry YOU all like best...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Honorable Mentions

Nobody wants to wait until Saturday, including myself, so we're going to post some honorable mentions while we wait for the last of our anonymous judges to make the final decisions.


The Snowman Made Out of Mud
I made a Snowman that was made out of mud.
It came to life and took a bath.
It was still melting and so turned back into mud.
I made another muddy Snowman.
That one melted too.
--Casey


The Weather
It is not snowing
no rain
my back has pain
this is not weather for snowmen
we can make bookmen
mine might eat you
mine might beat you
we can make them walk
we can make them talk
we can name them Sam or Pam
or Wam or Jam
Let's have one of each
they will have to be like a peach
I will name mine Jam
I will name mine Sam
--Corey


And we will be doing another contest this fall.  Same rules...only this time, the theme is Autumn.
Deadline: The Autumn Equinox: September 22nd by Midnight.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Summer

It's pretty hot and humid out there.  Summer is definitely here!  Things are blooming already that shouldn't be blooming yet, so I'm hoping for a nice long season of blooms that the bees like.  I'm hoping that the fall blooms don't just come early and disappear before the fall, when the bees can really take advantage of it!

The corn is high as an elephants eye and the early sweet is beginning to grow hair, so we should have corn growing in there soon.  The winter squash is growing like crazy beneath the corn.  And the sunflowers in there (from leftover goat food) are ready to bust out in blooms that the bees should love!

I am planning to do some more cleaning and organizing today.  And I really need to get outside and plant a couple of things and move some perennials around.  But, I'm kinda slow and lazy today.  The heat and humidity has sucked the life out of me.  Whine, whine.  Not that I don't like this kind of weather, I do...I live in New England, it's what I expect, but I like it better when I can sit around and do nothing--preferably by a body of water!

The judging is continuing!  We should know soon!

And Mr. Ajax is yet again performing.  TheOrganicGoat should have new kids this fall!  Go, Ajax!!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Writing Contest

The submissions are in and are with our assortment of judges.  We should know soon, who the winner is and will be sending out the gift basket to them!  The submission will be posted, as stated, on August First--so stay tuned.

This was fun and we will probably do it again.  I am thinking an Autumn theme next, due on the Autumn Equinox...September 21st.  And then a Winter theme and a Spring theme...are you seeing the connection here?  And then we'll have to come up with something new.  We will keep you posted with details of the upcoming Autumn contest in the near future.

Right now, we are enjoying much needed rain.  And I am going to take a much needed nap, while Paul paints the trim in the hallway!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

We have all of our entries for the Contest...I guess

most of us are last minute writers.  We got the majority of our submissions yesterday.

We will be judging over the next few days and will post the winner's piece on August First!

Thank you to everyone who submitted.  I'm excited to start reading...it's going to be fun!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Contest Deadline

The submissions are coming in!  Join the Fun!

The last minute is officially here.  You have until midnight TONIGHT to submit your stories, poems, and essays to the Summer Writing Contest!

bumblechickfarm@yahoo.com

So, for all you procrastinators, now's the time!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Recipes

The writing contest entries are starting to come in now.  Remember, you have until Midnight, tomorrow night, the 21st of July to have your entries to bumblechickfarm@yahoo.com.  So get writing.   The last minute is almost here!

Here are two of the recipes from the Canning Coop.  These recipes are compliments of Laura from WindyFields Farm.  blog.windyfieldsfarm.com.

Here you go...enjoy!

Strawberry Mint Jam
8 cups strawberries
6 cups sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice

In the preserving pot, crush the berries lightly with a potato masher.
Simmer over medium low heat for 10 minutes.  Add the sugar and lemon juice, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Increase heat to medium high and boil rapidly for 15-20 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Remove from Heat.  Stir for 2-3 minutes, skim foam, stir in 2 tablespoons of fresh mint.

Pour into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Maple Sugar
1 quart of top grade maple sugar

Bring a pan of water to a boil and check the temperature to determine what the boiling point of water is for the day you are making the sugar.  Heat the syrup to a temperature of 40-45 degrees F above the boiling point of water.  Pour the syrup immediately into a clean pan or bowl for stirring.  Begin stirring immediately and continue to stir until granulation occurs.
Store in a airtight jar.

I must say...I am impressed by someone who makes their own maple sugar.  But like most things, it probably seems more complicated than it is until you try it on your own.  Maybe, I'll try it one day...but not yet, cuz I have a jar of Laura's!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Reminder: June 21st Post updated with Contest Rules:

MONDAY, JUNE 21, 2010


Summer Solstice Writing Contest

Happy First Day of Summer!  It's the longest day of the year...make the most of it.

To celebrate the Summer Solstice, BumbleChick Farm is launching our first contest.  To combine our love of literature and reading with our love of farming, it is going to be a writing contest.

Here are the rules.  Don't worry, there are only a few.  We are looking for a work of poetry or a short story or essay (not more than 2100 words).  There is one word we want you to think of when you are writing your piece and that is:

SUMMER

Be creative and have fun!

We will give you a thirty days to write and submit your work, that would be July 21st by midnight.  To be published on our blog on the first day of August (Lughnasadh--the Celtic MidSummer and the beginning of the Harvest Season).

Please submit your work to bumblechickfarm@yahoo.com.
Please do not use attachments...I will not open them.  Cut and paste your entire piece into the body of your e-mail.

I will have my husband open all submissions and forward them to me from his own account, so that each story or poem comes to me anonymously...so I won't be tempted to pick anything for any other reason than that it is the piece I like the best.  THIS IS NO LONGER TRUE.  I NOW HAVE IMPARTIAL JUDGES WHO RECEIVE THE SUBMISSIONS WITHOUT NAMES AND WILL MAKE THE FINAL DECISIONS.  I WON'T BE ANY PART OF THE DECISION MAKING--I KNOW TOO WELL SOME OF THE WRITING STYLES OF SOME OF THE SUMITTEES.  

Prize will be a gift bag from theorganicgoat.com.  The prize will be worth at least $15.00!  And mailed directly to your home!  

Gardens

I harvested the last of the garlic from the garden and laid it out in the sun to cure.  We harvested a total of 69 bulbs!  Yay!  I can't remember what we got last year for a total, but we should have enough to make it through the winter with some to plant in the fall!  We are getting better.  This fall we will probably plant two 4X4 beds with garlic instead of just one and half beds, which is what we did for this year.

The bed that is now empty of garlic, we are going to put to bed for the winter.  I am going to cover it with cardboard and then some manure and hay from the goat and chicken stalls and use it as the compost heap for a week and let it break down.  Our garden gets better and better each year as we work those beds and continue to build them up.  I love raised beds...or specific beds with pathways in between so you can really work on and build up your soil.  And you're not stepping in your beds and packing down that soil you worked so hard to make beautiful.  And an added bonus for bad gardeners, like me, is you can work one bed a day and it's not so daunting.  And the limited space keeps you from growing more than you know you can handle.  I love it.

I am planning to put spinach in the half bed the rest of the garlic came out of.

Let's see, the potatoes look awful.  It's interesting that the one plant that really had a chance to bloom is doing just fine.  I'm wondering if the bugs eating off our blossoms before they had a chance to bloom have destroyed the plants.  Probably will harvest the new potatoes soon, if the plants don't perk up.

The soybeans are just starting to have beans.

The drying beans we planted where the wheat was is beginning to come up.  I'm hoping they have enough time to grow and produce before winter.

Everything else is looking good.  It's coming along...though we still have those damn beetles.  I'm not sure how the Brussels sprouts are going to come along.

Oh, and we have one itty bitty eggplant!

The corn and winter squash patch has gone absolutely crazy.  They LOVE being where the goats used to be...where all that old poop and hay used to be.  I'm hoping for a good crop and I'm hoping it will have enough juice left to give the winter wheat a good boost.

Oh, and only TWO more days for the Summer Writing Contest!  You only have until midnight on Wednesday!  Get writing!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Garlic


It's time to pull up the garlic.  We took out a third of our crop last night and left it out to begin to cure in the sun and fresh air (of course, it rained a bit last night--now I know another way to get it to rain when we need it).  

Our garlic is beautiful and HUGE this year.  Sometimes, I think we should forget everything else in the garden and just grow rows and rows and rows of garlic and maybe some flowers.  It's tempting.  It's the one thing we grow really well here.  And we no longer have any idea what kind of garlics we have, so we're gonna have to call it the BumbleChick Mutt Garlic.  

I absolutely love garlic.  I use it in EVERYTHING.  And it is so good for you: it's antibacterial, antifungal, anticancer, anti-everything-bad-for-you.  (a clove a day, keeps the doctor away)

Garlic is ready to harvest when the plants begin to die off...or if you're slow like me, when they are completely dead.  You pull up the garlic from the ground.  They should come out nicely if you pull them straight up and out of the ground.  You will want to cure the garlic in the sun for a day or so.  After that, I usually tie the stalks together and hang them from the curtain rods in my kitchen for the winter.  Though, last year, I put them all in a loose weave basket and kept them in that.  I used loose weave so that the air would circulate nicely...and I made extra sure that the bulbs were cured before I put them in the basket.  

You can then use the garlic through the winter, cutting a bulb off a stalk and using it as needed.  
You can also plant the cloves in the fall for the next year--we use our best and most beautiful bulbs for replanting, so we are sure that we are reproducing the best of the best and we have the plants that obviously enjoyed being in our garden...in hopes that their offspring is adapted and happy in our environment.  

Late in the winter, when the garlic starts to get softer, I take what is left of the cloves and peel them and cut them up into small pieces (about the size of peppercorns) and dry them really well in a low oven until they are completely dry.  I used to just use the larger pieces of dried garlic in soups and pastas and etc., because I am too lazy to pound the dried pieces into a powder.  But this year, I learned that I can put the dried garlic in a pepper grind and have fresh ground garlic to season EVERYTHING!!  

I also make a tincture out of the garlic.  A tincture is a concentration of a certain herb or blend of herb used for medicinal purposes.  A tincture is easy to make.   In the case of garlic, you will put pieces of cut up garlic in a jar and just cover it with cheap vodka.  Let it sit in a cool, dark place for two weeks--if you remember, you can shake it up a bit, daily.  Then strain the vodka out, so you just have the liquid and store it in a dark bottle or a dark place.  (date and label the bottle, of course)  I usually keep my tinctures for only a year, though the time you can keep them is debatable.  

I use garlic tincture in my soapy water mix when I do battle with bugs in the garden!!--in which case, I wouldn't worry about expired tincture.  Just a teaspoon or so for about a quart of water and soap.  Bugs don't like garlic!  

I also use garlic tincture when I feel something really awful coming on in the way of a cold or the flu.  It's a last resort, as nobody wants to be around someone who's taken garlic tincture, so I try to take it at night.  Though usually, by the time I resort to the garlic tincture, I feel so crappy, I don't care about anyone else!  You can take a few drops up to a half teaspoon a few times a day.  (Just remember, it is made with vodka...medicate responsibly!)

So, again, PLANT GARLIC THIS FALL!

And remember, only THREE more days until the Summer Contest Deadline!


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Canning Coop


The goods have begun to come in from the Canning Coop we started this year.  Today, we traded strawberry-rhubarb jam, strawberry mint jam, and a jar of homemade maple sugar--yes, that's not a 'canned' good, but who's complaining.  It's pretty awesome!

Remember, only FOUR more days to the writing contest deadline.  Midnight, July 21st.  A 'Summer' themed piece of writing.  bumblechickfarm@yahoo.com

Friday, July 16, 2010

BlueBerries

I LOVE blueberries.  I use them in everything.  I make smoothies out of them.  I put them in yogurt.  I even put them in a jar of water and drink it throughout the day.  So, you would think that I would actually go blueberry picking--especially since there is a place nearby that lets you pick for free (you pick double and give them half, but still, monetarily free).  But no, I have to go to the farmer's market and spend a fortune to buy enough blueberries to get us through the winter.  Jeepers, I'm silly.

In any case, I canned up another batch of blueberry butter yesterday.  Got six half pint jars this time.  (Last time we made 10 half cup jars--which are great for gifts).  I am planning to make one last batch tonight and will be done with the canning of the blueberries.  We also froze 8 quart bags of blueberries to get through winter.  I hope that's enough...cuz I can't buy anymore and the picking season is quickly coming to an end.

On Labeling of Jars.
I always label my canning jars.  That's one thing I am pretty good about.  Unfortunately, I am not so good about labeling my frozen goods.  I'm always sure I'll remember what it is I've frozen, cuz I don't cook and freeze that much stuff...but I'm wrong and I end up playing the guessing game.

Anyway, on labeling: I am pretty simple, I usually just label the tops of the jars with a sharpie marker with the item and the date.  It helps me in a few ways.  One, I know what the product is.  Two, I know when I should not eat it any longer.  Three, I have marked the lid, so I know it's a used lid when inevitably it ends up in the drawer with the box of fresh new lids that has spilled open.  Four, I hate to label jars with stickers on the actual glass jar.  I have so many jars that are contaminated with sticky goo I can't get off and I don't feel comfortable using them to can something I am going to keep on a shelf for a year or more--I'm afraid some of that goo will get inside my jars when I boil them before filling them.

Of course, on the flip side: when you label the side of the jars, you can see what's in it when it's still on the shelf (if you keep the labels facing out).  I have to tilt the jar to see the top where I've labeled it.  I'm sure there is some easy way to clean of sticky sticker goo, but I just set the jars aside with the goo on them and hope somehow they clean themselves from in the closet where I store them.  Besides, there is no shortage of jars going on...maybe when there's a shortage, I'll start cleaning goo.

Six Days Until the Summer Writing Contest Deadline!  Don't be shy!  Everyone is welcome to submit.  bumblechickfarm@yahoo.com

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Painting and Photo


This is the photo that A.S. used as her model for the painting she painted for me!  It was from the blog entry on February 14th...Valentine's Day!  Hmm.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer Writing Contest

Only one week left to get your submissions in for the Summer Writing Contest.  Midnight July 21st!!  No later!!!

bumblechickfarm@yahoo.com


Food in Jars Blueberry Butter

I made a batch of blueberry butter last night, taking the recipe from foodinjars.com.  She uses a slow cooker for her butters and it was awesome.  I blended the berries, put them in the cooker, and wandered off to play in the garden, do animal chores, watch TrueBlood (who doesn't LOVE TrueBlood?).  I didn't have to worry about my butter burning.  It was awesome!  And my kitchen stayed cooler than it normally does when I can...or maybe it helped that I wasn't in the kitchen standing over a hot stove and boiling pots the whole time.

I did end up finishing the butter on the stove, so that we could go to bed before midnight, but it was a small sacrifice to make.  And I believe I read somewhere that it uses less energy to use a slow cooker for butters than it does to use the stove.  Hmm.

I wonder what else you could do in a slow cooker.  Could you make relishes in a cooker, or do they need a higher temperature than a slow cooker to thicken up?  I would think if you could, you would want to boil your relish on the stove first and then transfer to the slow cooker to thicken up.  But it might work.  Hmm.  Another something to think about.

BlueBerry Butter Recipe from FoodinJars
(modified, of course, because I can't just stick to a recipe)

8 cups of pureed blueberries (I used a blender)

--Put in slow cooker with lid and cook on low for an hour.  After the first hour, stir, and prop lid with a wooden spoon to let out the steam.
--I cooked for five hours and then added:

2 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice (the recipe calls for 1 lemon, zested and I didn't have any lemons)
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg

I cooked for another hour in the slow cooker.  Then, I had to cheat and thicken up on the stove.  I called it done when no juice flowed from a spoonful placed on a chilled plate.  You can also tell it's done when a trace on the top doesn't immediately fill with juice.

I put in 1/2 cup canning jars with lids and boiled for ten minutes.

We had it on english muffins this morning for breakfast!  Yummy.  It was AWESOME!!!

(Note: If you are not familiar with the process of canning, I recommend that you find a good book on canning to understand the basics before you try any canned recipe.)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Birthday Gift


This has to be one of THE most WONDERFUL gifts I have ever received.  It was given to my by my sister-in-law's mother...a total surprise.  For those of you who follow the blog, you might recognize the picture from one I took in the winter when we gave the chickens a flat of lettuce I was trying to grow.  A.S. took the photo and watercolor painted it for me.  This was just INCREDIBLE.  Thank you so much, A.S.  You are amazing!

Yesterday, we tried Summer Low-Tech Monday.  It's a bit different from a January Low-Tech Monday.  In January, it gets really dark, really soon (we are going to concede to ONE light in the evening on LTM...so that we can read and play board games without going blind--we figure that it's better to make some small concessions and still save than it is to get so frustrated that we give it up).

But last night, we had plenty of light.  No wood stove for coffee and tea, so I made a 'sun coffee', as I knew Paul would want coffee later in the evening (I even ground the coffee in my hand grinder).  I did use the timer on the stove by mistake...ooops.  But it was cool, instead of checking my e-mail in the morning, which I am addicted to, I did Yoga Sun Salutations.  I spent a lot of time in the garden and checked bees and did outdoor chores.  So in many ways, it is much easier than Winter LTM.  We just planned better...and had grilled steaks and summer squashes for dinner.  Dinner was awesome.  And it was good to get away from the computer for a time...I need to watch how much time I waste doing ridiculous things on the internet!  Don't we all?

I checked Avalon and Bree and the bees look good.  They seem to be very busy in the lower boxes and still have not done much in the honey supers.  Hmmmm.  But there is still a long summer to go...I hope!

Tonight, I am using all the tech...and making a batch of blueberry butter in the slow cooker and Paul is painting the hallway.  I've never made a butter or used a slow cooker for canning.  This should be interesting.

Now, I am off to work on one of the garden beds for the day like a good gardener.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Potato Beetles

Shows what I know.  What I've been thinking are cucumber beetles all along, are actually potato beetles.  Potato beetles are striped, while cucumber beetles are spotted.  It is their larva that is all over my potato plants and not baby slugs.  I, well my potato plants that is, might be in trouble as according to potatobeetle.org the larva is what will do the most damage to your plants as they eat and grow.  An the best method of control is GETTING RID OF THE ADULTS AND EGGS (the little clusters of yellow eggs under your leaves) BEFORE THEY HATCH.  So, we're umm, in trouble.  The good news is that potatoes can take quite a bit of foliage abuse and still produce the tubers.  The bad thing is that my flowers were eaten and I don't know how that will affect tuber growth.  We shall see.

Other lessons:
~They are very resistant to insecticides and will easily develop chemical resistance in successive generations.
~Be sure to rotate your crops!!!!
~Kill them when you see them or their larva!  Die, bugs, die.   (In a home garden, this is the best method)
~Ladybugs eat them!
~They don't seem to like the garlicy soapy water...many of my larva were dead when I went out for another look.

If you check out the link above, look at the memorabilia.  It's quite entertaining!

Another good thing about that hot, hot weather over the past week.  Varroa mites don't handle the heat as well as honeybees do.  Some people paint their hives to retain heat as a pest management technique against the varroa mites.  So maybe in the long run, that oppressive heat wasn't such a bad thing.  Another heat wave in August should make for another good control...but I'll take it with a bit more rain next time.  Please.  


The Garden




I guess now that the oppressive heat is over, it is safe to get into the garden and check things out.  While I was away, the bugs were enjoying the freedom to take over.

The potatoes are being eaten alive by slugs.  I had one pretty blossom on one of the potato plants, but the rest were eaten off before they had a chance to bloom.  I took out my spray bottle of soapy water with garlic tincture and soaked them all.  And tonight, Paul will have to have a beer so I can take some of it and put it out in the garden for my slugs.

The icky slug slime also moved to the Brussels Sprouts...and they also had about inch long green worms on them, which I took off and gave them a bath in my jug of soapy water and I put the lid back on.  I also sprayed them and the beets and the artichokes with soapy garlic water.

I planted Vermont Cranberry drying beans in one of the 4X4 beds that the wheat was in.  I think I need to go back to my early spring plan of working on one bed a day and just give the rest of the garden a daily cursory look to make sure nothing terrible is happening (and to later HARVEST the goods).  That way nothing gets so daunting that I just give up (especially in the heat) and I can really look at everything.  And some of the beds take care of themselves for the most part, so within a week, I will have looked closely at every bed.  And I can get the hay around the beds and try to suppress the meadow that is trying to come back between my beds.

But things are looking good.  I think the garlic is getting close to harvest and when that comes out, I think I will put some spinach in and see if I can get a fall harvest, since my spring planting bolted.  It doesn't like the heat any more than I do either.

In the corn garden, things look great, except that the beans I planted are being squashed out of the way.  The spring treat yellow sweet corn is growing really well...it's big and green and happy and about where it should be.  The butternut squash is growing up between it quite nicely.  The bed of honey treat sweet corn is being ousted by the delacata and carnival squash plants...so we'll see if we get any corn out of that bed.  And in both beds, the sunflowers from the old goat food is growing well too!



So, all in all, I'm pretty happy with the gardens.  I should take a picture of and post it...but that might be too embarrassing.  Yup, it is.  Things are a bit messy, but it's green and growing and producing...so we're happy.



Happy Gardening all.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Rain AT LAST!!!!

I guess all those rain dances and the spider killing (I only killed one...she was in my house and was too creepy for me to rescue) finally worked.  I'm hoping for lots of good steady rain to soak in...everywhere.  (Oh, and I made sure to leave clothes on the line to encourage rain too).

This morning, I hilled the potatoes, which was long overdue.  They were starting to suffer and fall over, especially without any rain.  Paul and I ripped out the wheat last night.  It took a beating back when Troy tromped through it and never really recovered, so I am giving up and will plant winter wheat where the corn is this fall and see how that does.  I meant to plant the beans in where the wheat was, but I just KNEW that if I planted anything that it would not rain, so I was afraid to do it.  I should go out in the rain and do it now.

So this ought to make the garden happy and will hopefully cool things off some so I can get something done in the garden without keeling over from heat exhaustion!  For the time being, I will get some cleaning done around the house (yup, for those who know me well, miracles never cease)--the Kitchen is my latest project for a good deep down clean (grimace here).  And I should sit down and get some writing done...I seem to be plotting new stories in my head, but it's not making it down on paper very well.  So, lots to do...even when it rains.

And I want to keep reading my new Cook Book: Alice Waters The Art of Simple Food.  I LOVE it.  I had taken it out of the library a few months back and copied and (don't tell) dog eared a few pages.  So, for my birthday, my awesome husband bought me a copy.  I feel like I should give the library mine and take back the one I abused.  This, for me, seems like a staple cookbook, right up there with The Joy of Cooking.  Lots of back to the basics to learn to cook.  And then lots of recipes.  I highly recommend it.















Keep raining.  Keep raining!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Ginny and Rosie


We have just started letting the guineas and the 'baby' chicks roam free over the last few evenings.  They seem to be steering clear of the big mean chicks and establishing some sort of relationship with the biggies. No one has been too abusive so far...though the grown up Reds are kind of aggressive.  I like the Reds.  They seem to lay sooner than the other breeds we have tried.  They lay consistently.  And they can be really friendly toward humans...but they can be really mean to the other chickens.  So, we are keeping Reds, but not a lot.  

The guineas are not quite up to roaming yet...and Rosie came back home last night after her excursions...so maybe they will know where home is and come back.  I hear horror stories that guineas will just take off...roaming into the woods and nesting in trees and/or wandering off to find other homes.  So, the experiment with them continues.  They LOVE ticks, so I love that about them.  And they don't scratch the dirt when looking for bugs, so supposedly you can use them in your garden to eat the evil bugs...like the cucumber beetle.  But we shall see about that.  

We also seem to have a baby rooster.  He will be named Dinner as well, but he will really head to the ax if he continues to exhibit the aggressive behavior toward us.  

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Everybody came home to bed...Phew

Guineas

So, I was advised not to try to chase a loose guinea back home.  So what did I do?  I tried to lure and chase a loose guinea back to the barn.  Rosie is now a very stressed out guinea, lingering on the edge of the woods.  I am hoping she will find her way home before nightfall and not take to the trees.  I am also hoping she isn't stupid enough to wander into Troy's fence-line--though, unlike a chicken, she might have a chance of outrunning him....but I don't want to find out.

RainDance

We're thinking about doing a rain dance if this drought doesn't let up soon.  The plants and bees are enjoying the heat, but they do want some rain to go with all this sun.  The bees are lounging on the stoop of their hives fanning some cool air in, but they are also all over the white clover, so they aren't lazy like me who would prefer to be enjoying this heat next to a nice cool lake.

Pretty soon, I am going to have to choose between taking a shower or watering the garden.  But with any luck we will see some rain soon!  So get dancing everyone!

Our new honey extractor is in the library still in the box.  I'm pretty excited for a cooler day (and a cooler temper) to open it up and put it together!

And remember to enjoy the sun...in a few months, we'll be moaning and complaining because it's too cold.  Yup, New England is definitely for the chronically malcontented.  We get to complain through every season!

And get writing...only thirteen more days until the Summer Writing Contest Deadline!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Chalice and Dionysus

Opened the C and D hives today.  A bit overdue, but we wanted to do it before the holiday weekend and even more times slipped by.  The bees were irritated with me just for being NEAR the hives, so I did what had to be done and got out of there.  I had one bee bouncing my veil the whole time I was there...(Charlotte's # 1 Rule of Beekeeping: always wear a veil).  The weather was a bit cloudy and icky, so I don't think that helped the mood of my girls.

Chalice was not in desperate need of a honey super, which is what I was most worried about, but we added two to her anyway.  We'll give her lots of room to grow and see what happens.

Dionysus got only one honey super and seemed more ready than Chalice for one, but I think they are working the inner frames of their boxes and not the outer frames...so it may SEEM they are ready, but they probably are not.  We figured one super would give them some room to grow, but not so much that they would not utilize the outer frames in the lower brood boxes.  So, again, we will see.  They may need some encouragement to grow out instead of up, but we will worry about that on a day when everyone is a little less cranky and I am a little less rushed.

And before we left, I trimmed some of the overgrown weeds in front of the hive entrances.  And then left the girls ALONE!!!

At home, the grapes are covered in green grapes!  So, if the goats STOP EATING THEM, we might get some yummy concord grapes this year!  Yay...last year we got next to nothing and that was very sad.