Monday, August 31, 2009

living local in bastroptown

that which is not in my own garden - the bastrop river valley farmer's market - for sure for sure - get your local farmin' growin' eatin' goods here

bread from the local bakery - richard family bakery and creamery
why? much tastier than my own homemade bread - privately owned - great folk - no additives or preservatives - requests taken - sliced to order - did i mention the iced cream and fresh donuts?

coffee from the local shop - green chai cafe'
why? well it is no cheaper than that strbks place but it is privately owned and does not taste burnt - an excellent sitting area with a beautiful water fountain - yummy eats - quite and simple - great folk

living in the country is good

lots and lots of austin folk movin' in to town as of late - let's keep it country folk - be charmed - be charming

Saturday, August 29, 2009

out for the day

out out out of doors - i was i was
determined - i was i was
not to be driven in by the heat

moved a hive to a blessed spot beneath the shelter of boughs live oak
dumped much compost at the feet of the fruity trees
moved blackberry sticks to sunnier more fertile grounds
now the blackberry sticks reside in the best parts of fruity bee pollinating orchard lane - of course of course

i planted miss hazel's american hazelnut tree in a spot fit for fine fine growing - someday miss hazel and i may set beneath her tree and watch a bit of chicken t.v. with cucumber sandwiches and tea and i'll hope the mosquitoes and flies will let her be cheery and free as a little z ought to be

took some time reading in the comfort of a chair in the fresh aire in the shade of the porch

now the sun sets and the creatures begin their too turning in and i to the company of mr. t my trusty kittyboy - my friend of all friends.

today was a very nice day - hot but not too hot and that a simple pleasure i am much thankful for.

happybirthdayinspirationalmom - love youuuuu - xoxoxoxoxoxo

hippychick's lessons in beeland

- i moved a hive today - from out back to out front - the smaller populated hive of the two -

the move was smooth
slow and steady
slow and steady
then the big lift
with two arms
i lifted
i balanced
i prayed not to stumble or trip
i prayed for the knees not to buckle
as i set the hive slowly slowly
down to rest

the hive sat set and rested
fairly quiet considering
time to take a look inside
why why why was this hive population
so very much smaller than the other

one by one i pulled out each and every frame
ackkk! a wax moth larvae
scrape it out - search for others - pesky creatures
central texas hot weather perfect for their growth
too many can hurt a hive - destroy combs - destroy brood - destroy honey stores
no space for wax moths in my hives no
in anyone's hives for that matter
but yes, i found more and more
scraped each one out - removed the frass - removed any remains i could find
then looking through the bottom of the lowest super i spot several adult moths moving about in the stand - gonners i say quiet and low - time for you mothy folk to go
so bit by bit i move the supers aside
once down to the hive support - i take the moths out
each and every one
none made it out alive
i take out the larvae too
then scrape the hive support clean and discard the bits cleaned out

i replace super number one
remove each frame one by one
second check for pests
i remove empty untouched frames
replace them with frames of brood and honey
i replace super number two and repeat as with super number one
no need for super three
less is more now than ever

all the while looking for the queen
i did not see she
did she see me
hmm i wonder and worry and wonder
have i made a mess of this hive?
have i failed the creatures?
lessons in beeland lessons in beland
then upon a second glance
she rises - my queen - majestshe - she rises
i breath easier and i smile
hope lives again

so i close the hive up - top board - top cover
as the bees swarm around taking coordinates of their new place
i sit and i watch for an hour at least

in and out
action all about
cluster on the face of the hive
cluster in the sweet potato vines
and they shift
clusters on the hive tool and the hive brush
they make no mind of me
i wonder still - have i done enough - too much - have i helped or harmed
i feel confident the move is for the better
and set with that
lessons in beeland
where observation is everything

Friday, August 28, 2009

an evening's progress

amazing the evening proved a lot less hot relative to the previous few days - so i got out and got to work - it was lovely - i hope the week end will prove temperatures beneath the 100˚ mark on the dial.

planted today
  • cosmos sensation mix
  • borage
  • baby's breath
  • dwarf coreopsis
  • calendula
  • thyme
  • mammoth dill
  • coriander - slow bolt
  • alfalfa
  • red leaf mustard
  • yukon gold tater
  • purple tater
  • climbing beans
  • lucullus chard
most plantings geared toward goodness for the bees
waiting now for a dip in temperature to plant further

set both above ground rain collection tanks in place

moved a bit of compost beneath the fruit trees - six loads - a good six or twelve yet to go

gave the laying ladies a fresh bed of hay in the coop - set the old bedding 1/2 beneath the fruit trees and 1/2 beneath a live oak - will cover that bit of bedding under the fruit trees with compost

moved the wee wee wee chicks into the metal shed brooder - these kiddos just days old
  • rhode island reds
  • barnevelders
  • ameracaunas
  • ancona
  • marans
good for an late afternoon evening's work - tomorrow i hope to continue - weather pending...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

auntie pangs

boy do i miss this little pea
she was the perfect fix after a run
now i go running
and no little pea back at the homestead for cuddling
what a blessing what a blessing
wee z she be

gotta find time for a visit and soon

though my heart aches
i don't worry for the wee one - not a bit

for she has got herself the best parents a little weeshe could wish for

and i think she knows it
happy z
my heart grows for you're being in this world

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

the joy of recent gifts

yesterday i was pleasantly gifted.
today i was gifted too.

yesterday wee basil seedlings from a rare and hard to find taiwanese line.
today an heirloom mater weighty and sweet.

gifts each beautiful - each alive - each thoughtful.
each given outside of any giving event.
each a pleasant surprise.

each giver - a student - fine thing to be blessed with more than a few good eggs - thanksgivings early.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

breaking fast in the most beautiful of ways

breaky n' lunchy
pretty pretty

poached eggs on sourdough toast
salt n' pepper

mammywich of slow smoked chicken
a preserved peach, garlic aoili, ricotta, dash of honey n' fresh greens

simple artful happiness
from home

stumbling chickenmama

it begins - daily morning drives into austintown - returning home mid eve
morning chores occur now earlier
watering - feeding - cooling - collecting
i'll have it all worked out in a few short days
for now i stumble - still adjusting to the new rising hour
i believe the chickenychicas find it amusing
they scatter between my legs, run beneath my feet just as i lift my foot forward, i laugh, they laugh as i slowly wake.

the garden now waits for seed and for cooler temperatures.
the wee kale, wee buttercrunch and wee radish have pushed through the soil - they now begin growth of true leaves. trooper babies i call them - powering forth in this heat.

keeping the beds watered has been tricky - rain barrels are empty yet again. installation of the gutter and piping for the new 1300 gallon rainwater collection system has moved to high priority regardless of the fact that there is no rain in site. i would prefer to be at the ready rather than be witness to a precious resource lost for lack of preparedness.

here's a surprise for you
looks like we may reach a record 104˚ today
no bells and whistles
just an overheated sigh

on the bright side
the okra and black eyed peas are happy

Sunday, August 23, 2009

making the most of a good thing

both the weekend and the summer break inch closer to their end. the big summer fixin' things around the place time is closing in.

ah! no matter we around the hippychick universe know how to make the most of our precious time. we live and keep livin' and do and keep doin'. each day as full as the next. we may be looking now at weekend projects, early morning projects and later evening projects for a while. that's just fine - give us time and we can fill it.

the heat - i must admit - kept a whole lot of "wanted to get dones" not done this summer. i just could not stand it - the heat that is - knocks a person out it does. that said the expected summer list fell short some but i look forward to cooler fall days to power on. that is if the cool part of the fall days ever come. we here in texasville are still living in the triple digit universe.

it could drive a soul mad - i tell you - mad!
gods of the universe - please just a few clicks - turn the heat down some - we are beggin' here.

the currents
sunday's completed projects -
  • mow front lawn
  • feed bees - both hives
  • clean and refresh garage barn coop
  • lay down saved up bags of grass clippings in the garage barn chickeny run
  • move chickens from metal shed to garage barn coop and run (bigger & better)
  • build roosts for garage barn coop
  • feed and water all creatures
  • water all gardens - sunday is our prescribed watering day
  • sweep up garage
  • sweep up walkways around chicken coops
  • wash floors
  • wash clothing & area rugs
  • host a mid-morning faculty working brunch
  • smoke lucky 13 - dinner with friends this evening
  • finish up syllabi's for classes
  • take out garbage (first time in three weeks - recycling rocks!)
  • sort eggs

then there are those tasks i did not finish this summer
i had hoped to...
  • complete the rainwater harvesting set up - the good news is that i have got some folks working with me - should be ready soon
  • paint the house - too damn hot
  • gutter system on chicken coop - new weekend project - the system will feed rainwater run off to orchard trees
  • fix the fence - tabled at present for lack of funds - saving...
  • re-insulate beneath the home - pier and beam - looking into the spray foam option - this bumped the fence down the priority list - still researching...
  • move all compost - bit by bit still going - evening and weekend project
  • install an exhaust fan on metal shed - no one is in there at present so no need to rush this forward
then of course, there are other tasks - mundane as they may be that require no present listing

on another note - i baked myself a cake on saturday in celebration of my paying off one of my two credit cards! it feels pretty darn good. now it's scrimp and save time to kill the balance on number two. i think i can i think i can i think i can - i will i will i will and so it goes. it is not easy - never is but i promise you, the satisfaction for balance zero is deep - try.

it's a good cake - organic vanilla cake with butter creme frosting - i soak each piece in cold milk before eating - super yummy yah yah yah. it is a very special day when hippychick makes a cake for hippychick. in fact, this is a first, but i do believe well deserved.

how i saved some summer bucks
- budget budget budget -
  • no vacation this summer outside of my most excellent visit with nieciepoo hazel z and with that i used airline miles to get there and back - excellent deal
  • put up a whole lot of food this summer - my own personal food bank
  • did not eat out but two or three times all summer
  • did not purchase boutique coffee except for when out of town & even then in small quantities
  • drove into austintown only when necessary - otherwise walked and/or rode the bike where i could near home
  • bag breakfast bag lunch bag dinner bag snacks and drinks - big savings here
  • began brewing my own kombucha saving big bucks for my latest vice
  • consciously rotate foods in freezer and pantry storage - if it's time to use it up then that is what is on the menu
  • purchase staple items in bulk
  • grow your own - even in this heat the black eyed peas and okra are kickin' it - next year, a lot more of each in this hotter than heck summer season - yihaa
  • invite folks over for a casual cozy relaxed home cooked dinner rather than a spendy night out - a whole lot of fun - room to move and comforting for all
  • recycle the store magazines before even looking at them - do this!
  • spend my time reading rather than at the movies or other such $$ driven entertainment
  • took to learning about the small town i live in rather than scout the outer limits for diversion
  • made efforts to use what i had on hand rather than replace or purchase new - not too hard once you get your mind thinking in that vein
now it's making those similar efforts in the context of the university environment - a little more planning required but i plan to do all that i can so that i may make efforts to pay down the balance on credit card number 2. it is a goal worth reaching - for sure for sure.

make the most of what you've got
it takes practice
keep at it
it is worth the ride

sunday sit with the chicks

Saturday, August 22, 2009

the tale of lucky 13

this - the short tale of lucky 13
- - - - - -
of 13, 12 went to butcher
not lucky 13
lucky 13 gained stay
lucky 13 shared company of all the fine ladies
for weeks and weeks and many more weeks, lucky enjoyed the pick of the flock
day and night and night and day
lucky 13 lived the lucky dog life of a chicken rooster he did
then one day...
lucky 13 got to howling just a bit after 5
not just once or twice or thrice
lucky 13 got to singing in lengthy aria style
for lucky 13 this was not a passing phase
lucky 13 then got to howling at all hours
early morn'
early eve
with brief respit at dark of night
lucky 13 kept up the new callin' hours
aria after aria after aria after...
lucky 13 took a tour of the garden with me this morn'
lucky 13 enjoyed the comfort of petted ears of song of morning sunshine before...
suffice to say
lucky 13 ain't so lucky no more
lucky 13 will be smoked up fine in the morrow
so goes the tale of lucky 13

Thursday, August 20, 2009


there was a moment today that simply broke my heart. in the midst of this moment, i made a choice that i now realize i will live with for the rest of my days.

i had just finished loading the eight cornish females into the transport coop when sir beau peep sent out a call. it stopped me dead in my tracks. i had never heard such a call from this rooster - it was not a crow - it was a cry - a heartfelt cry - i knew it was a call of sincere feeling - one of deep emotion and one of plea to me - asking me not to take the girls away.

at that moment i could no longer question a ponder i had pondered about the possibility of true lasting relationships between chickens. it was more than clear that beau peep was connected to the girls.

i paused for a long while... my heart thumping with a lump in my throat. i nearly cried but bit it back - then i continued. i continued to load the girls in the car. and i drove off questioning my action with every mile that passed.

it was at that moment that i knew i would move sir beau peep, lucky 13 and the two remaining cornish girls in with the layers. it was at that moment that i decided to sing sweetly to the girls the while of the ride to austintown - not only for their comfort but for my own. i knew then that i could not replace the girls he had grown to love but i could provide comfort of community and companionship with the layers he had long lived next door to.

it was at that moment that i realized chickens really do fall in love.

big day in the hippychicken universe

shift - move - dodge - oh that's not so bad - hey she is singing to us - hey she is reading to us - hey she's spending the night with us - ah she is in petting us again - finally the two legged upright is off to sleep

shift - move - dodge - travelin' travelin' - she's singing to us again - travelin' travelin' to big town austintown - my oh my - i think we might be citygirls girls - ooh this is exciting!

out of the car - big garden girls - garden! garden! - let me into the garden - hey what's this - hey i know these other ladies - they used to live right next door - girls it's the neighbors! - hey girls how has it been going?

hey now she's trimming our wings with another really cool two legged upright - ooh more petting - ahh she's rubbing my ears - ooh that's nice - spa day!

girls check out this place - nice diggin' ground - a tree a tree a really big tree! - oh a dust bathing spot - water - shade - a garden with excellent greens right near by - ooooh this is nice - we are going to be happy here - prrrrrrr

yes it is true - i slept in the garage barn last night with the cornish creatures and with mr. beau peep salmon faverolle. why? well it was my last night with eight of these lovely ladies as they, in the morning, were to take new residence in austintown and i was feeling sad. yes it's true i am a sucker for all my creatures. i had grown quite fond of the former meaties - yes former - they grew too beautiful - too kind - too lovely - and they began to lay eggs - very nice eggs and i decided better to keep the ladies as laying hens and nix their meatie status.

then a call came from a friend in austin who runs a most amazing restaurant looking for laying hens - they needed more in order to keep up with their featured home raised eggs. i pondered a while... could i part with them? is this a good place for them? well that was not really a question - i knew they would be well taken care of.

finally, i decided to part with eight of my ten cornish ladies. i knew for sure they would be spoiled rotten and live a more than wonderful life plus they would become part of a restaurant family that grows food for the restaurant in a garden on site and supports local farmers by purchasing their locally grown and raised goods.

this restaurant family walks the talk of local and sustainable practice. and now the girls are a part of the goodness - what greater honor than to be a girl laying for a restaurant supporting the cause?

most important
they will be spoiled with fresh greens and garden goods daily
they've got it good - real good
chickenchica heaven!

the ladies settled in without a hitch as they now share space with seven other hippychick victory chickens that they themselves grew up with. family re-united. it is a beautiful thing and they are indeed truly happy. no panic - no pecking - nada - they slipped right in to scratching and digging and dust bathing. i could not have been happier. happy chickens living happy lives is a good good thing.

so upon returning home, i moved the two remaining cornish pullets and beau peep and lucky thirteen (the two hippychick rooroos) in with all of the other laying ladies. that too went off without a hitch - everyone is doing just fine - no crazy pecking order action - nothing. all is well.

the stars must be aligned for happy moving and family building today

on top of all this - a new group of baby chicks have moved in and are beginning their adventures in the hippychick universe. this round includes
  • 8 anoconas - anconas, which originated in eastern italy near the port of ancona, are an attractive, distinctive, white egg breed with size and body shape very similar to Leghorns. They are small, active and alert with black plumage that has some V-Shaped tipped feathers evenly distributed throughout the plumage. They are good foragers, considered non-broody and very good layers of white eggs. The black and white chicks are very eye appealing.
  • 8 marans - cuckoo marans originated in France. the outstanding characteristic of marans, which has attracted many buyers, is the production of extremely dark brown or rich looking chocolate eggs.
  • 8 americaunas - ameraucanas, known as the "easter egg breed", are a multicolored breed. they have beards, muffs and a normal tail with a tail head. ameraucanas are excellent, efficient producers of large eggs of many colors and shades including blue and green.
they are happily settled into the brooder.

busy day
good day
the day is not yet over but i can say it is full
full of good

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

victory chickens - wee chicks growing up

hippychick's victory chickens - all birds raised on coyote creek organic chicken feed - six and eight week old organically fed rare and heritage breed pullets and 1 welsummer rooster. most girls are at eight weeks old with a hatching date of june 21 2oo9. the welsummers, ameraucanas and marans were hatched at a later date - they are at six weeks of age with a hatching date of july 5 2009.
*speckled sussex - developed in the county of sussex in the early 19th century. lovely to look at. layer of creamy to light brown eggs (1 available)

* dominiques - developed in new england in early 19th century. not distinguished from the barred rock until apa standards were developed. most modern dominques may be traced to stock developed by a. q. carter after 1900. layer of brown eggs. (n/a - sold)

* appenzeller spitzhauben - developed in switzerland centuries ago. beautiful speckled ladies with black fluffy top head feathers. layer of white eggs. (1 available)

* golden laced wyandotte - developed in new york state and wisconsin in the late 19th century. layer of light to rich brown eggs. (n/a - sold)

* barred plymouth rock - developed in america in the middle of the 19th century and was first exhibited as a breed in 1869. layer of brown eggs (2 available)

* ameraucanas - south american breed. layer of blue green and tinted eggs. (n/a - sold)

* cuckoo maran - developed in france in the early 20th century. layer of dark chocolate brown eggs. (n/a - sold )

* welsummer - developed in holland in the 20th century. layer of terracotta colored eggs. (1 pullet - 1 rooster available {beautiful roosters})

and a few who are not rare or heritage in breed but are great egg laying birds to add to your flock
* black sex link - is the result of crossing two purebred standard breeds; the rhode island red rooster and the barred rock hen. - (1 available)

$15 per bird
all sales cash only
limited numbers available - claim your babies now
please email your breed preference to

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

stop the presses - i am in love!

wee z killin' me
i love you lil' pincushion
flying through aspen forest tops
lil' woodland sprite

mozz in the mornin' - waking with cheese

favored time
when day need not be rushed
waking gently stepping lightly
eyes focus adjust find clarity
favored light
breathing peaceful
quiet cool chickens coocoo
til' roo ah roo sounds his windy song
wakey wakey
gentle morning
gentle cheese
mozzy mozzy
fondle squeeze pull please

recipe here
for ricki carrol's thirty minute mozzarella

i am not using this particular recipe as i am using fresh cow's milk and would like to go for a richer more flavorfilled curd. i will use a thermophillic starter and lipase powder. for the recipe i follow this fine morn', please turn to page 136 of your home cheese making hymnal.

morning meditation
ivory vespers this promised eve'

cooked whey ricotta cooling
warms my heart

a veiled beauty in waiting


Monday, August 17, 2009


~ it's official ~
i'm giving a big twenty
on the beauty of chickenpoo
what to do do do
with all that poo
november 21 2oo9
the austin backyard poultry group
this is the big time folk

{and using capital letters apparently}

time to go share the good news with the girls
the chickenychicas ladies of the hour are superstars

dust bath time!

it ain't just eggs coming out of their behinds
those girls eat sleep and *#&@#! gardener's gold

Sunday, August 16, 2009

good day whatever day it is/was...

the odd day out turned well
  • planted some seeds
  • picked up several italian leaf parsley plants for $.50 each - great deal! - popped those is the ground for bunny - parsley is his most favorite snack in the universe
  • set up the rowcover ribs and a shade cover over 4 of the 6 eastside veggie raised garden beds
  • deep watered each and every fruit tree - boy did they need the drink
  • creature care - everyday - twice a day
  • set two 'walkin' between the garden beds' brick pathways in the east garden and one 'get yourself to the middle of the keyhole' brick pathway for the new keyhole garden - hauling bricks is fun
  • put off moving compost for another day - needed a change
  • studied future practices for making the hippychick universe more sustainable - read up on food preservation; methods outside of canning and freezing and read up on permaculture methods - the study is ongoing...
  • took an evening stroll around the neighborhood
  • now hanging home with the kittyfolk
consumed a whole lot of water and information today - good good good

time space what the heck day is it weirdness & a backtrack to saturday, no sunday rather - huh?

i woke up this morning thinking today was monday - sure today was monday - awed by the quiet of this monday morning then upon looking at the computer realizing it was sunday. weird weird weird - really? sunday? really? did i set the time wrong on the computer some how? - turn on the radio - indeed sunday wow - a whole day ahead - the brain had already truly believed the idea of monday - how easily we/i are/am swayed i ponder. not good or is it the sign of a powerful imagination or have i slept for a week - as i was feeling, anything was possible.

i looked out the door - the yard looked to the place i had got it yesterday - tree limbs trimmed all except those i was not willing to climb the slippery roof to trim and those beyond the reach of my arms stretched out while i stood at the top of the extension ladder. the live oak and pecan tree limbs were on the curb for pick up where i left them. the lawn was clipped. the extra wood pallets were out on the curb with the free sign. the compost pile was in it's new spot. the fruit trees were also trimmed. the herbs i split from their parents were freshly planted in new beds, the markers for the grey stripe sunflowers in place and the markers for the fall lettuce newly planted in a dappled shady spot were in place. it does not look as if i have been asleep for a week. although i bet there are parts of me that would appreciate the deep rest - too much living to do - not yet. still i walk about and the world feels somehow odd.

i'm feeling the doo doo doo doo of the twilight zone until i see the neighbor's car in their drive - it would not be if it were indeed monday - ahh and now the brain kicks in - there was indeed mail delivered yesterday - could not have been sunday, mail is off on sunday - hmmm - still now a good five plus minutes since the discovery has been made and my body is still somehow off kilter. do not get me wrong - gaining a day around the homestead is more than welcome. weird! this feels weird - somehow time shifted in my little universe and now i've got to shift it back - maybe a bit more of a morning snooze to wake to sunday fresh in mind.

i nix the idea of more sleep for fear i would wake in some other odd frame of mind and decide rather to go over that which i might place on the tasking list for the day.
  • i will be moving more compost today - we will get a good batch under each of the fruit trees and water them in real good now that they are trimmed up for their fall and winter bud setting.
  • then there are flower beds that could use a boost and the outback area where the bees now reside - we'll see how friendly they are as i dump garden barrow after garden barrow of compost in their universe - they were excellent yesterday as i trimmed the fruit trees - they may be fine today to - fingers crossed
  • there is much raking to do on the north side of the place - the live oaks have continually dropped leaves this year - the heat i am sure is the cause
  • and then a whole lot of general tidying up awaits
  • i have the goods - i could make another batch of cheese
  • the water tanks need hooking up - maybe this should play top priority today - i may just go in search of the proper goods to get this task done and ready for any further drips that prove to fall
i am beginning to feel more comfortable with the day being sunday - odd it took such a while and truth be told i feel still a bit off - i wonder what causes the brain to skip a day - to believe so deeply that proof must be presented before it is willing to accept otherwise - interesting that lump in the skull... interesting this concept we call time...

Friday, August 14, 2009

peach happiness

chilly milk
a handful of frozen peach bits
a couple of tablespoons of ground golden flax seed
whirr it up in a mixer

milk mustache goodness oh yeah

it's a dirty job but someone has got to do it

the pack mule days continue as i haul compost all over the yard.

the raised vegetable beds and fruity-veggie planting areas on the east and south side of the house have their fair share of compost. the raised veggie beds are soon to be teaming with micro-nutrients and beneficial organic communities all the better for the veggies and seeds soon to go in for the fall. the planting areas along the east side of the house serve as growing spaces for citrus trees, papaya trees, comfrey, an apricot tree and a pear tree as well as various beneficial bug attracting flowering beauties and colorful chards.

the beds on the south side of the house are those new beds i put in and lined with brick this past spring. they are now home to black-eyed peas, hops, pole beans and the last cucumber vines standing. the hops have been growing slow and steady - compared to brother's vines, they ain't nothing - but we'll see how things turn as the temperatures cool a bit.

i have got the perimeter of one of the two live oaks covered and now i'm working on the area around the second live oak. i am half way there. this is the area where i have been practicing varied permaculture techniques with sheet composting since spring. i'm hoping this space will soon serve as another fine planting area. it's a spot that during winter receives a great deal of sunlight and in the summer dappled bits. i'm thinking it will be a nice spot for wild flowers and possibly various lettuces, kales and chards. in the past this very same spot around the oak has been home to cracked hard clay where even the toughest weeds would not grow - we'll see if my efforts turn this clay into friable happy soil.

i'm thinking i may move a bee hive into this area next spring in the case i expand to three hives. it's a good area, sheltered from the tree with south east expose and far enough away from the neighbors and street not to bother folk. and if the wild flowers and such prove positive and very good space for thriving pollinators.

then it's off to the back yard orchard area where i'll dump compost around each of the fruit trees. i'm thinking i may dump a load or two in the chicken run to up the soil's microbial activity and give the girls something extra fun to do - good for scratching.

i am taking care of where i dump the compost freshly dug from the inner part of the pile as it is super hot in temperature. so hot it burns my hands. this stuff is live. i've had the garden fork working as my trusty assistant each day. this is the good stuff. not a bad thing. the compost will need a week or two resting in each area before i plant in. the heat of the stuff may prove too hot for germination and/or it will simply compost the seeds planted making the planting efforts moot.

work and wait and work and wait and work and wait - so it goes in the garden.

time to get back out there. it's a dirty job - but the kind of dirty job i like - this dirty job improves the soil by leaps and bounds and the payoff - good eats, happy creatures and healthy soil the good ole' natural way. this time no socks - just shoes - as you can see above, they get dirty quick.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

muddy socks dirty elbows sweat runs down my face

at last a full day in the garden thanks to the cooling effect of last night's rain. yes, my friends, it rained! not for long but hard and heavy while it lasted and that was good enough for me. i thought for the trees so desperately in need of a drink. i hope this small bit of rain will hold them steady for a bit. many show signs of stress and some have passed on to the better place that trees go when they pass.
i am thankful for the drink it gave the garden, for the fun i had standing out in the rain and kicking puddles while it fell, the coolness it gave the evening and the morning aire, the weight it lifted from shoulders wondering wondering would it ever rain again.

the rain barrels are once again full. the new water tanks are not - they are not yet connected to the house gutter system - i'll need help with that i have discovered - it's a more arms than i've got kind of thing. lucky for me there are folk interested, now it's just a matter of getting all the folk here at the same time to get it done. another ball of wax...

i decided it best to take advantage of our one cooler day to work in the garden
  • pulled weeds - many more to go - the weeds i deal with are traveling crab grasses - eiik
  • tore out all of the soaker hoses - alas the heat here has dried those exposed parts and cracked them open again - i will definitely need to investigate alternative drip irrigation - for now it's hand watering the vegetable garden
  • note - the tearing out of the soaker hoses proved a great way of turning and airing the soil - no need to do that job with the garden fork this round - i will make efforts to repair the hoses but that will not be a today project
  • moved various basil, stevia and rosemary plants around for either better light or a bit of shade or more breathing space
  • split and moved a few flowering red sage plants - these are a hummingbird favorite and do very well in our climate
  • cleared out several bean and cucumber vines that have given up to the heat
  • planted, watered and mulched a cover crop bed of buckwheat - also a favorite of the bees
  • moved 4 papaya trees and 1 blood orange tree to the east side of the home providing more space and good light for development - they are looking a little droopy now - i expect them to recover from the move in a day or two
  • planted out the first bits of the fall garden - carrot, parsnip, beet and kale
  • cleaned up the veggie garden area and watered the new and moved plantings in
at the moment, i'm taking a quick water break. it's still steamy out there and soon to hit triple digit temps before the day has ended but i am determined to keep going. i'll start again moving the compost from the big ole' pile in the drive to the various gardens and planting spaces about the place. i will get an area seeded with local native wild flowers today. we'll see if they come up later this fall and some we'll have to wait until spring for a sighting. each beneficial for good buggy bugs, for bees, for birds and for the pretty pretty sake.

i did pick up four gallons of raw milk today (delivery is every two weeks) - i am hooked baby and never going back to old grocery store stuff if i can avoid it. i enjoyed two small glasses of milk for lunch - figured if baby hazel can live off milk for a while then why can't i for single day? ah?

time to get back outside

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

peaches for later

rise and shine beauties

summer time anytime

peaches for now - peaches for later
hey hey now we are talkin'

dried peaches in honey - ooh la la!

putting up food
do it

Monday, August 10, 2009

summer times

summer time slow food
shucking black eyed peas
honey spiced peaches in jars

on taking one's time with a task
i am not one to slow down all that often. boredom rarely stops in for a visit - boredom knows better. it is good sometimes to set a while and to takes one's time on a task - to allow the task slowness - to enjoy the moments quietly or while chatting with a friend - or while mindlessly humming a tune that comes out of you and the task at the time.

i've got a rocker - a beautiful handmade rocker - i ought to set in it more and rock and feel and allow time to tell or to forget about time altogether for a while

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
i have poison ivy
i itch
i want to itch but i do not
so i rub lightly so as not to break open any soars
i want to itch but i do not
water heightens the wish the itch
heat heightens the wish to itch
running drives me up a wall - and spreads the damn stuff through sweat and glands - lucky me
so the training is currently on halt
i itch
my skin feels dry
i have poison ivy
on my hands - on my arms - on my neck - on my chin - on my legs - on my belly - on my face
suspect i got it from the cat
love the cat
hate the ivy
i itch
i want to itch but i do not
note to self
keep your hands away from your eyes

- - - - - - - - - - - -

baked a corn bread today
fresh corn inside
fresh peaches on top


treats for the creatures of the hippychick woode

daily triple digits continue and still there is no sight of rain in these here parts.

again, just yesterday rain fell in areas around us but nothing passed through. there were moments of hope as we experienced great rumbling thunder, saw greyish clouds overhead and felt blustery dry winds whip us around a bit - but no luck - still dry - crackin' bone dry. it gets to me every once in while - puts me in my dry country crazy place until i can snap myself out.

so i've been thinking about the creatures around the place - the birds, the squirrels, the lizard lizards, the night critters, the insects and all the creatures in between. how are they doing? this cannot be easy for them either.

i do my best to make sure they are cared for
  • i keep multiple sources of water available around the place
  • i think about the plantings in the yard - beneficial berries, flowers and shelter
  • i separate the good bits of my daily composting stuffs out from the bad and place it out for the creatures * the good - peach peelings, greens and bread * the bad - no meat, no oils, no egg shells, nothing spoiled
just yesterday i made up a new batch of suet. i normally would wait for the cooler months before placing any out but may begin sooner due to these current hard times. no rain, no flowers, no fruit, no nectar equaling hungry hungry creatures.

creature suet is easy to make - and can vary depending upon the types of creatures you wish to feed. most creatures dig fruit and nuts - you cannot really go wrong there - do a little research about your local bird populations to find out which seeds and nuts they like best.

i have got cardinals, blue jays, nut hatches, woodpeckers, morning doves, finches, chickadees who will definitely enjoy the suet mix along with owls, hawks and other small bird of prey who in truth prefer small rodents and such.

i chose to work in the following mixings
  • lard
  • nuts - walnut, sunflower, almond and cashew
  • seeds - amaranth, sesame, flax and millet
  • dried fruits - cranberry, peach, apricot and apple
  • sugars - unsulfured molasses and honey
  • grain - whole wheat flour, bran and oatmeal
  • you could also add peanuts and peanut butter but i did not have any on hand
how to
  • melt down the lard - i use the double boiler method - slow and steady
  • put the dry bits of fruit, nut , grain and seed into a food processor
  • whirr it batch by batch until all contents reach the nice and crumbly stage - no big chunks
  • put everything in your biggest bowl mix together
  • poured the melted lard over the top - careful of the heat
  • stir stir stir
  • once the lard has cooled a bit (2 or 3 minutes) get yours hands in there and really mix the stuff up.

i then divvy the batch up into smaller - fit in the freezer - size containers and freeze. when i'm ready to use some i pull a container out of the freezer - dig out a good chunk and either place it out in a suet feeder - only if it's cool enough around here - or i place it on an old pie pan and lodge it up in a tree crook or place it on one of my birdy landing-feeding sites.

* note
  • you could also pour the mixture out onto a cookie sheet - freeze - then cut into suet feeder size chunks - ready to go out of the freezer when you need them.
  • or you could slather the stuff on pine cones and freeze
  • or you could mold the stuff into interesting shapes around a looped piece of biodegradable string so they are ready to hang on a tree limb or feeder when the time comes
  • each of the above can then be rolled in bird seed before freezing to entice the birdies and creatures to the goods - and it's fun - so why not?
your creatures will love it and you will be providing a place of happiness for the creatures of your universe - all good!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

humming honey-beezez pleasez meezez

i was out making the daily late afternoon delivery of a bunbun's personal air cooling system - a frozen gallon jug of water when i noticed an unusually high number of beez buzzing around one of the hives.

it looked like a house hunting party to me - not good! so i quickly headed into the garage - prepped the smoker - got myself suited up - picked up two of my bee feeding patties and a ready to go super loaded with frames. i knew i was racing against time.

i had to give the bees a darn good reason to stay - already i was praying that the queen was still in the hive - i felt good because i knew from my morning visits and outdoor work that the big flight action could not have been going on for very long.

best too if i could identify why they were thinking about swarming. possible reasons could be
  • queen has died or been killed or has fled
  • hunger
  • overcrowding - lack of cells available for the queen to lay in
thus my arriving with
  • a framed up super - more space
  • bee feed patties - this round with sugar, pollen substitute and fat
  • if the queen had died i'd have to check for queen cells and/or pursue other tactics
upon opening the hive i found two things - the top feeder empty and the frames inside both currently stacked supers full nearly to the gills. the good news is that i spotted the queen - i think i can fix this. i proceeded to remove the top super and set it aside. i then pulled three frames in the lower super then replaced them with a new empty frames setting them in a full frame, empty frame, full frame empty frame fashion. this every other layout allows the queen space to lay and room for the bees to move about.

i then placed the second super back on top of the first and pulled out three full frames and replaced those with empty frames just as i had in the first super. i then placed the third super on top. the third super now had 6 full frames and 2 empty frame inside. this would assure that the bees work all three supers. it also assures that the top super transferred not only frames but brood and nurse bees with them - a healthy mix of folk.

i then placed two of the feed patties on top of the top super - set a spacer frame on top then set the top cover over all. fingers crossed - this will satisfy their needs. the whole process took a little over 25 minutes to complete. it felt longer - but the watch proved otherwise.i had an audience. several neighborhood folk were out on their daily walk when they spotted me - the state puff marshmallow woman - working the hives out back and stopped in to watch. i did not mind a bit and they were thrilled simply to be in witness.

i explained what i was doing with each step - pointed out the difference between a super full of honey and super full of brood. i talked to them about the effects of this current drought relative to bee forage and feeding. i then discussed the different types of bees in the hive and talked a bit about what i was seeing as i looked around. there were several bees that did have pollen filled leg pockets which signals that they are collecting pollen from somewhere near by which is great as they use it as a protein source. the number of frames full of brood was promising. in fact i think this might be a hive i split in the spring - really healthy and growing in population at an excellent rate. overall the bees were fantastic - incredibly docile and a pleasure to work with - it was nice.

"you ought to hold workshops - get other folk interested in raising bees" they said. not a bad idea. then i thought - privately in my mind - that i could ask neighbors if they would allow me to raise bees on their land and/or yards in exchange for honey and/or workshops around the subject of bees including
  • the benefits of raising bees
  • how to start a hive bees
  • seasonal upkeep (of which i am still learning myself)
  • plants and trees beneficial to bees
  • health of a hive
  • processing of honey
  • processing of bees wax
i am seriously considering this. i've got until late october 2009 to figure it a good or not yet move. it is not until then that i could pre-order packaged bees from my supplier. could be a real cool thing. benefiting not only the honey eating gardening human peeps but for texas bees too. the whole fix would not go into action until april of 2010 which is when the bees are ready for pick up.

hmm i mean hmmzzzzzzzzz

i then popped into the second hive deducing a theory that may or may not have anything to do with reality. the frames in hive one all have bee's wax foundation while the frames in hive two have the "fancy pants" plastic frames. hive two is much smaller and growing at a noticeably slower rate than hive one. my theory is that the plastic frames are not pleasing to the hive two bees.

some beekeepers like the plastic frames some do not - in reality - some beekeeper's bees like wood frames with plastic foundation and some do not - i think mine do not - my theory is that the bees in hive two despise the stuff and thus are growing and producing slower. so i plan to replace those plastic foundation filled frames yet untouched with a fresh wax foundation this very afternoon.

in other news

- i have removed miss lavender and miss blue from the big girl coop - the big sisters had taken a disappointing turn to picking on the two younger laides more frequently which is not good. i thought better to allow it to go on. better to remove the ladies until further grown or maybe these girls will forever be a part of a different flock - time will tell. the good news is that the girls now enjoy a space of their own - a feeder and waterer of their own and no chance of being pecked on my meaniepants older sisters.

do what is right for the creatures - always...

Friday, August 7, 2009

a composting we go go go

pack mule day 2

compost load by load by load

down the garden path

and into the beds

volunteer papaya doing quite well
the heat is good for something eh?
sweet taters oh sweet taters
peppers producin' fine wee pepps

a hippychick favorite
so darn cute

makin' it's way in the world

not cranking but producing just the same
in this weather
that's just about all i can ask for
okreee on the left - pumpin' out just fine

i am taking a little hottest part of the afternoon siesta inside and out from the blaring sun. it is intense out there. i had a steady drip of sweat pouring down my front and back and figured i had better seek shelter before experiencing any effects of heat stroke.

i did manage to get a good few loads of compost moved about the place. i cleaned out and reset the 75 gallon rain barrel in a slightly better spot. i will need to trim and re-run the gutter that feeds this barrel. i pulled the artichoke plants from out back and placed them in the eastside garden (that garden pictured above) where they might flourish better. i plan to move the kiwi vines to the east side garden as well but not until later this evening or maybe tomorrow morning.

then there is the 350 gallon and the 1000 gallon above ground water cisterns/tanks that will need hooking up. i have the 1k gallon cistern in place - i've got to get the final proper plumbing bits in order to filter the gutter's leafy dirty bits from the water before it enters the tank. if things keep going as they do, i'll have plenty of time before i need to worry for the capture of rain. i would love to be wrong on this count.

till tonight...