Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Poulet Pasta

I discovered a bowl of leftover pasta in the back of the refrigerator, so the hens got a special spaghetti treat.
Something about chickens slurping up noodles tickles me.
Hens making quick work of a big bowl of spaghetti.

Wordless Wednesday: Breakfast?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Harvest Monday: Asparagus and Eggs

The asparagus is up!  Even the purple asparagus, which I just planted  last year as 2-year-old roots.
This is the  second year for the green asparagus (Martha Washington) and we only harvested a few spears last year, so I  am hoping for a more abundant  harvest this year. It was well-disguised in the weeds and grass--we never got to cleaning up the poor asparagus bed last fall.

I LOVE asparagus, but have never grown it before.  I  knew it took several years to establish a bed and I never anticipated we would stay long enough in any one place  to make it worth the wait (but then we ended up staying in the last two homes 10 and 12 years.)  Asparagus was the very first thing I planted when we moved to the farm, but then we got cows and it turned out I had planted it in the pasture --so I had to start over.  Finally, at age 54, I have asparagus!!
We are now getting about  3 dozen eggs a day from our sweet hens, so...
the obvious supper tonight was scrambled eggs with spinach and scallions from the high tunnel, steamed asparagus, and whole grain toast. We dined outside on the patio,  despite the gale-force wind, because at least it was a tropically warm wind, and how often can you eat home-grown asparagus and scrambled eggs outside in March in Minnesota?

I have just joined Harvest Monday and will attempt to report on our weekly harvest. Check out what other gardeners harvested today at  Daphne's Dandelions.

Can You Believe It?

Pretty amazing that spring  is in full force in March, here, in zone 4!   The Bloodroot  in the little wildflower garden by the big rock in the woods is in peak bloom.
Red dogwood is leafing out.
I wasn't sure the Virginia Bluebells in the  back yard would even come back after the drought last fall, but they made it and are budded out.
Daffodils are blooming like crazy near the future garden shed. I cannot wait to tackle the garden shed project, but  lots of other things must come first.
Garlic is up - the rows a bit disheveled  from chickens scratching around last fall before I laid the fencing down to deter them.

Sugar Snap Peas have poked through. Ordinarily it would be too early to plant anything in the garden, but the seed packet says "plant in early spring as soon as soil is workable " and it certainly is.
I have also taken a bit of risk and planted various lettuces, which have sprouted,

and purple radishes, which are up.  Spinach, scallions and beets are also sprouting.
In the high tunnel we are still harvesting brilliant yellow-green  biondi di lyon chard, planted last fall, and  further back, baby leeks.
The spinach keeps on giving and giving, and we are devouring it in salads, soups, green smoothies,  colcannon, quiche and on sandwiches, as well as selling some to farm visitors and to the co-op.
Tomatoes and other flower and veggie starts  have been moved out into the high tunnel and seem to be very happy there.
I have begun repotting some into paper containers as they grow too large for the seed blocks.   These are Earliana and Gold Medal tomatoes, Birdhouse and Snake gourds, and  Milkmaid nasturtiums.
Stepping outside the greenhouse, the main pasture is lush and growing fast, but the grass is only a few inches tall.
It simply cannot grow fast enough for the cows, who often gaze longingly at it over the fence.  ("Why won't she let us in there??!")  I have over-seeded it with a pasture mix and want everything to be well-established before the bovines start yanking it out and trampling it with their big hooves.
Not everything about spring is idyllic. Wood-ticks are out.
We already found tent caterpillars in the prairie (I'm hoping they will make an nice spring feast for some birds!)
The long-awaited yellow magnolia blossoms are just barely beginning to open,
while the white magnolia blossoms are already past their peak. They were just buds a few days ago, reminding me how important it is to pay attention and savor every fleeting moment of  spring, my very favorite season!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Magnolia Mystery

When I was photographing spring flowers in the yard I thought it was rather funny how there were four old leaves  still hanging on the Yellow Butterflies Magnolia bush.

I reached over to pluck one off, but it wouldn't pluck.  It was tightly attached AND there was something rolled up inside! Something pretty big, like half a cigar!   Some kind of  chrysalis or cocoon - all four of the leaves were like that.

I did a little reasearch online (This is why I love the Internet) and learned that mangnolia is a host plant for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Wikipedia Photo).  It is true, last year was a remarkable year around here for both tiger and black swallowtail butterflies.
This is what the Tiger swallowtail caterpillars look like shortly before pupating  (Wikipedia Photo).  I don't know how I could have missed such characters in the yard last summer, but I will definitely be looking for them this year.

In the meanwhile, I am tempted to  clip off a twig with a chrysalis and  bring it inside so I don't miss the butterfly emerging, but I don't want to mess with its timing if bringing it inside the warm house would cause it to emerge too soon.  So, I will just be checking the rolled up leaves every day.

I think this variety of magnolia is named "Yellow Butterflies" because it looks like a cloud of  butterflies when it is blooming, but how appropriate that it hosts Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars, too!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Welcome Rain

It was the second rainy day in a row - rain that we need so badly. In just a couple days the grass has turned from faded brown to brilliant green and other vivid colors are appearing.
Between rain showers, the dogs and Orange Cat and I took a little walk, while everything was dripping.  I finally got one of those shots where the world is reflected in a raindrop.  (You probably have to zoom way in to see it.)
The air was so delicious -- earthy and spicy and fresh all at once.
Walking through the white pines on the path thickly layered with wet, soft needles was even more fragrant.

Since yesterday, the bloodroot has emerged and is beginning to unfurl.
Flower buds on the lilac hedge.
Yesterday, a couple buds on the little white magnolia were just beginning to open; today it is in full bloom with yet another heady fragrance.
One bud on the yellow magnolia was beginning to open this afternoon - perhaps this tree will burst into bloom tomorrow like its cousin the white magnolia. I can't wait to see this magnolia in bloom, its first time since I planted it.