Wednesday, April 21, 2010

flowers ain't the only bloomin' beauties round here!

sweet snow peas in texas

snow in texas?
nuh uh

snow peas in texas
uh huh!

aaawwwww oooh oooh oooh

russian kale
never imagined such a show
should have known
with the
lovely laced leaves
and all
of course this little lady should shine
so she does
she does so

Monday, April 19, 2010

season's first harvest roots and peas - hippychick enjoying spring

spring carrots are ready and hippychick is doing the happy for roots dance.

take a good gander at these sweet young things
long and skinny
sweet and tender
ooh ooh mama spring is surely here

peas are hopping off their vines directly to my mouth
while a select lucky few actually make it indoors, some for cooking others for fresh munching.

other bits of the garden goods are well off to seed. here broccoli flowers out in lovely yellow. not a lot of bees visiting today as the skies are overcast and grey.

spring onions are soon to be at the ready too. we'll eat some young. the others will stay put through early summer so as to bulb up nice and large.

a few have thrown off flowers.
i'll not trim but let them burst with their own beauty. good for the bees, pretty to look upon and a fine fine way to collect one's own seed.

the first spring carrot harvest steamed up

easy come, easy gooooooooooo

now you see them...

now you don't!
got to be quick around here.

* * * * *
enjoy spring's fresh green aire
enjoy showers
enjoy flowers
enjoy buzzing bees
enjoy spring
enjoy spring

* * * * *

Monday, April 5, 2010

pasta • love & lacto-fermentation

pasta • love & lacto-fermentation
sunday proved a positive and productive homesteading day. it started with a lovely breakfast in the company of my sweet. then we each were off to our own keepings.

i to a spring cleaning, to pasta making and to the tending of a most beautiful pot of lacto-fermented cabbages - a.k.a. sauerkraut.

the cleaning spanned the length of the day. i swept, i washed, i tidy'd and placed away. the place is looking better for it yet as one task was completed, another showed itself and so the cycle goes.

betwixt tasks, i rolled cut and hung to dry long lengths of hippychick's whole wheat homestead eggy pasta. my system is simple - one portion of pasta hangs upon an old mailing tube while the remainder finds it's drying place upon the back of the kitchen's step ladder. make use and make due and all will be well.

i love the color of the whole wheated pasta, it's natural linen flaxed tone calms me. it's natural goodness comforts and nourishes me.
mmmm - homemade pasta - mmmm

i enjoyed a bit of the freshly made noodles in the afternoon. not too much, a small handful which proved plenty. the whole grains in the pasta do a fine good job of filling one up while the flavor proves fully satisfying to the tongue.

i tossed the pasta with a more than healthy portion of fresh beet greens and roasted garlic asparagus.
ooh baby!
that pretty much took care of me for the day. i was in want of nothing.

with tummy happy and a feeling of love, i continued on with the day's tasks which included a bit of care for the lacto-fermented kraut setting pretty on the kitchen counter.

i drained off a bit of the top lying juice, checked for any top forming mold, then closed her back up.

i make my kraut simply. i'm not in the possession of a fancypants kraut pot. i use a glass jar, mash the cabbages and salt with a tater masher then top the jar with a few whole leaves from the cabbages before sealing the whole jig up with a plastic bag full of water.

the weight of the water presses down on the kraut while the plastic bag shifts itself to the shape of the jar creating a pretty airtight seal.

simple solutions work.

i'd say this batch is a week away from canning and/or eating.

and so it went
a tasky sunday full with
pasta • love & lacto-fermentation


today's homesteader breakfast
- fresh salad greens with sliced boiled eggs from the girls out back -
yum yum nummy num num

Sunday, April 4, 2010

upon a morning's waking

a slight bit of rain has been falling
soft boiled eggs on a plate
air wet and cool
light soft breaking
a slow start to a day
newspaper has stained my fingery tips
as a crumpled paper lies awaiting a fresh fish perhaps
not quite yet no not quite yet as yesterday's news is yet still today's

Friday, April 2, 2010

and we're back! hippychick kicks spring into gear

and we are back!

it took me a day to get the photos in and another, now saturday, to muster the time for the commentary. i will do my best to make it good.

a slight bit of back story first
or rather
how about a cut to the chase news session
i vote the later!
yes then alright

hippychick met a man at a chelsea soccer match
yes, hippychick is a chelsea blues supporter
man is a chelsea blues supporter
hippychick and man have both been viewing chelsea matches at the same darn club for years but never once ran into one another

hippychick saw man - she smiled
man saw hippychick - he smiled
now hippychick and man smile frequently together

so the long and short of it is that hippychick has been cultivating another sort of garden for the past few three or four weeks. the garden is growing quite well. hippychick is happy. man is happy. and best of all, man quite enjoys the doings of the hippychick universe. in fact man frequently collects eggs, cleans eggs and packages eggs.

man recently viewed hippychick while tending bees, this very saturday afternoon in fact, and did not run screaming when he was officially welcomed to the beekeeping universe with his first sting. impressive!

man has no problem whatsoever enjoying the fruits of the labors, no problem at all. in fact i believe man feels that life is quite good. hippychick believes life is good too. it has recently proven more full and sometimes more challenging to balance but ever so good.
definitely worth the efforts put in and so it goes, hippychick and he grow.

now back to the gardeny bits of the hippychick universe

the fava beans are flowering! how absolutely beautiful they are too! i love the little violet black eyes they sport on the lower petal set. the stalks are squarish in nature rather than full round and sturdy, sturdy. i hope they'll fruit up. we've had unusually warm weather in the past few days. today reaching 85˚f, possibly higher.

lettuces have begun to bolt, the broccolis, collards and cauliflowers are in flower and now provide sustenance for the bee creatures and other beneficial insects. i am hoping to collect seed from a number of goods this spring which means i must leave the flowering beauties in the ground long enough for them to set seed. it's hard because i am ready to pull all goods out and ready for the summer garden.

lucky for me, the slow steady adding of garden beds has paid off. i have most of what i hoped to plant for summer in the ground already.

presently planted goods include
(most everything from seed)
  • watermelon
  • pumpkin
  • muskmelon
  • carrot
  • pea
  • okra
  • taylor bean
  • christmas lima
  • kentucky wonder bean
  • eggplant starters
  • tomato starters of varied heirloom variety
  • ancho pepper starters
  • basil in red and green starters
  • artichoke
  • heat tolerant lettuce greens
  • onion
  • shallot
  • armenian cucumber
  • herbs of all shapes and flavor
  • chards of varied color
  • kale
  • mustard greens
  • favas
still to go in - as further space is appropriated
(also from seed)
  • blu kuri winter squash
  • malabar spinach red stem
  • orient wonder long beans
  • calendula flowers
  • sunflowers
  • green shiso
  • winged bean goa bean
and that should do it for a while!
famous last words
ha ha

here you can see one of the front path garden beds now a year old, freshly layered with hippychick's own home cultivated chickeny manure alfalfa and veggie scrap compost. i had recently pulled out a planting of broccoli and cauliflower to make way for the one round of beans and tomato plants. (planted now in the fresh brown side of the bed) the green side of the bed is a mixed planting of sweet onion and cilantro. also growing about this bed - edible pansy flowers, 2 artichoke plants, calendula flower and varied mesclun greens. it is a busy and most productive spot.

things are thriving just fine on the other side of the way as well, chards, kales, heirloom lettuces of various sorts growing sprightly while the winter planted peas begin to flower. the two elderberry bushes are sprouting a heavy show of leaves this year - maybe they'll fruit - one can only hope. there is a good bit of space available on the west side of this garden but i'm not quite sure which plant might prove best in this location. instinct says "plant the red stem malabar spinach and the winged bean goa bean" so i probably will. odds are i will.

we are experimenting in the orchard this year. no spray of any kind at all - nothing whatsoever. rather i have planted a slew of radish, arugula, herbs and beneficial greens at the base of each tree. i do not harvest the goods but rather allow them to grow to full size and flower freely. this in turn attracts a population of healthy beneficial buggy bugs.

has it worked? and how!
the place is teaming with the welcome sort so all is well at present. we'll see how things play out as the season presses forward. i remain positive and keep fingers crossed.

in reality it's the hungry, fruit loving squirrels i really have watch out for. they cleared away a good portion of last years peaches. i do not yet have a full drawn plan to prevent the same this year but i'm working on it. something brilliant will come, yes? i sure hope so.

in other orchard news, i must report that this winter's tougher and much much colder weather took it's toll on many of the hippychick citrus trees. I believe most will make it through and some are doing just fine, looking nearly untouched.

for those that did suffer, i have discovered green at base lower region of each tree which indicates a living tree. some are doing better than others leafing out on branches lower to the ground.

in general, i do not see citrus blossoms forming as they might had it been a milder winter but at this point, in recognition of the natural circumstances, i am willing to sacrifice spring blossoms in order to save the tree. fingers crossed they all recover.

the bees on the other hand are going gangbusters. the back hive, the larger of the two hives, is super active. we have had healthy bits of rain every now and again and it's proved positive for the buzzing creatures. i have been itching to take a peek into the hives but weather and wind has been on and off so i've held off. that is until today when upon returning from a chelsea soccer match it was more than evident that i may have a swarming on my hands so i got to work. when spotting the queen outside of the hive, i knew my time was either up or extremely limited. so i mixed a quick sugar water combination and got myself suited up.

once ready, i began the search for the queen. she was near and i made efforts to coax her back into the hive. she was quite calm. i was calm but i wanted her back home. long story short. it was my job, at that very moment to make home more appealing to my queen mother so on i went with the spring duties.

i slowly took the hive apart
top cover off, feeder off, super by super off remembering in which order they were stacked. i removed the protective bottom cover placed to keep heat in the hive over winter, cleaned off the various bits and then slowly but surely reassembled the supers flipping the most bottom super with the second to the most bottom super and so on.

here's the news...
this hive's four supers are covered in bees and either full or nearly full with brood and/or honey. in short, this hive is very very healthy. in long, they may need another super full of frames in the not too distant future. i did notice a few wax moth larva but crushed them all and noticed the bees themselves taking out a few on their own. i serviced the removal all of the larva i could spot. i finished off the hive with a bit of sugar water at the entrance and a good gallon in the top feeder before closing it up.

fingers crossed the queen mother decides to stay
then again
if she does not, i feel confident that some bees would indeed stay as i spotted three queen cells in one of the frames. by hook or crook i believe this hive will thrive. at least i sure hope it will.

i then serviced hive two, flipping brood supers and feeding a bit of sugar water in a top feeder. it is a much smaller hive, less than half the size of the larger hive. just the same, they look active, healthy and are storing both brood and honey on their frames.

big picture...
it's time for hippychick to repaint and repair supers, build more frames and ready them with foundation for the not to distant future.

meanwhile, in the garden...
compost happens

the chickeny poops from the winter batch of meatie chickens had thoroughly broken down into fine fine compost and was at the ready for the spreading so i spread it. almost every bed got a good 3"-4" layer. the last few beds got a 1" layer and will have to wait a bit longer for next round of chickeny happiness.

the chicken compost is really doing wonders for the soil. upon inspection, it's black, it's loose and it's spongy - ooh la la baby, that's what i like.

above amish dear tongue lettuces and lots of them. it's been greens of many a sort for lunch and dinner for weeks now and i'm not complaining. it's been good good good. as the greens are pulled, i plant in summer crop. above are baby eggyplants and maters nestled between the greens. it is a slow but steady succession process.

the onions are really kicking it. the blades are thickening and bulbs are beginning to show form. they look absolutely beautiful. should not be too long now. maybe we'll be harvesting in a month or so.

outside of that, we the many creature are happy. opera has taken to extended afternoon naps atop of a wabbit cage. the space is cool and shaded for most of the day so who can blame him. he's no dummy, he knows luxury when he finds it.

mr. t my inside feline friend is also doing well. in fact he is comfortably poised on the chair to my current left, happily purring in the fine springtime aire.

as for the chickenychicas...
more to come later but let's just say
they might simply be the most friendly, social and loving chickens on the planet. they are laying over two dozen eggs a day, feeding hippychick, man and many other fine folk with rich and delicious super-d-lovely organic eggs.

many thanks to those who have stuck around when i proved on blogging break. i assure you that i am indeed back, happy as a clam and will continue on with fine chickenyfeathered reports from the hippychick universe.