Monday, March 30, 2009
This was our biggest weekend accomplishment. Rog sketched out the design idea and I goofed around with Adobe Elements to create the full-color artwork (my first computer art!) We were trying to evoke a vintage vegetable crate label.
We aren't totally satisfied with the font yet, but at least now we have an image for creating labels for our sprout mixes.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
It's small (5 x 7) and kind of flimsy, but rather clever. Everything fits together with no tools and the shelves add strength to the structure. There is a plastic cover with a zip-open doorway that slips over the structure to create the greenhouse effect.
It's still too cold to put plants outside here, but I needed a place to put seedlings under lights. So, I set the greenhouse frame up in the basement and suspended lights from the shelves where I will grow the seedlings until it's warm enough to move the works outside. So far, only my gourds are up and under the lights, but I am ready now for those tomatoes and peppers...
He purchased organic whole milk (not ultra-pastuerized), citric acid and rennet at the co-op and heated on the stove
until the curds separated from the whey and the temperature reached 100 Degrees F.
Cadence has a brainstorm idea to sell tamales at the Farmers Market, which begins in May, so she decided to do a test run today.
Unfortunately, the market did not have any corn husks, but it did have banana leaves, so she made Colombian-style tamales. In Colombia, tamales are eaten for breakfast, and are considered the "Breakfast of Champions."
She piled the banana with chicken breast, pork , potatoes, corn paste and tomatoes cooked with scallions, garlic and cilantro.
Then she folded up the banana leaf and tied with twine or wrapped in foil.
The tamales are steamed until the chicken is cooked. I can't wait to eat these for breakfast tomorrow!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
The tulips have emerged a bit further from the soil, but aren't very photogenic yet. Actually, neither is this--a rhubarb sprout! - but I was so happy to see it I had to take its photo anyway. This rhubarb plant originated in my Grandma J.'s garden about 20 years ago and I have divided and moved part of it with me to our old house in Dakota, to our city house in Rochester, and now to the farm. I am overjoyed it survived the move and the winter.
I saved the best news for last--here's one of my wintersowing ziplock bags, with a hollyhock sprouted in it! The hollyhocks are the only ones large enough yet to show up in a photo, but the icelandic poppies and blue flax have also sprouted! How cool is that?!
Monday, March 23, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
When I was giving the chickens fresh water this morning, I discovered two eggs nestled between the haybale and the wall! I have been looking for eggs in the nesting boxes every morning, but apparently the boxes are not inviting enough.
I was warned that the first eggs are usually small and funny-shaped, so I was surprised how big and perfect these were. Here are the eggs, with a teaspoon for scale
We think Hawk may be responsible. I checked her vent, and, based on my inexpertise, it looked like she could be laying. Hawk is the largest, most mature-acting hen.
That's not incuding the 2 quarts we made last week, cooking it for five days over a fire. That syrup turned out much darker, with a more molasses-y and very smoky taste: good, reminiscent of camping, but not what we expected.
Some people use outdoor electric turkey fryers to boil down the sap, and I decided to investigate that option. I found this boiler/fryer that seemed to be even better than a turkey fryer because it has more surface area for evaporation and we can potentially use it for other purposes, such as cooking sweet corn for a big picnic, hosting a fish boil, or perhaps scalding chickens after butchering.
It worked fabulously. Much less work and much less smoky than feeding a fire, and much more efficient boiling. When you first pour the sap into the pan it is clear like water, then turns cloudy and gradually becomes deep amber. We filtered out any particles (bark) before boiling and skimmed off the foam. We finished off the boiling in the house, bringing the syrup to 220 degrees F.
We have boiled about 37 gallons of sap from two big silver maple trees and it has taken 1 1/2 tanks of LP gas at $19/tank.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
I intend for them to clambor up the fence that surrounds the perimeter of our large yard. I hope to get lots of amusing gourd shapes to dry and use as a sculptural substrate.
Last week, I spent one morning exploring the Arts District of Phoenix, AZ, and happened upon an artist abode with delightful concrete sculptures in the front yard. The artist, Gary Parsel, was watering the plants in his sculpture garden so I stopped. It turned out he is also a painter AND creates whimsical animals from gourds - bison, fish, birds, dogs. I was totally smitten by a large gourd fish he had created, but it was out of my price range and too fragile to take on the plane. Instead, I bought this smaller quail.
I am so inspired! Too bad it will take nearly a year before my future gourds are dry and ready to work with.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
The crocuses are beginning to emerge but haven't greened up yet. There is evidence of rabbits everywhere, but so far the crocuses have escaped being nibbled.
Finally, here's some green! -Moss on the old woodpile I am using up to boil down maple syrup.
Then, I pulled back the leaves covering some hardy pansies I bought last November on super-clearance for just 10 cents a plant and discovered the first real green of spring.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Saturday, March 14, 2009
After drilling a small hole into the trunk, a spout called a "spile," is pushed into the hole. The plastic spiles we are using have a hook for hanging the bucket. Sap began to drip into the buckets immediately. It tastes like faintly sweet water.
I think he has adopted us.
- First robin in the yard!
- 15 crocuses just barely poking through the ground on the east side of the house!
- Redwinged blackbirds in the marshy ditch across the road singing Okalee song!