Friday, March 18, 2011

Weekend Chatter

Time for an in-depth update on what is going on here with the SassyChiken.

All three hens are laying now, which surprises me. I was convinced there was a slacker in the bunch because pre-molting period I was only getting 2 eggs a day. But now there are some days where all three are laying. I'm not complaining, I'm just wondering -- did the negligent hen go on vacation? Was she on strike? Casually brooding (no one was obviously broody at that time). Or simply knowing where her bread was buttered and that she was safe from slaughter regardless of egg laying inclinations?

I planted three blackberry bushes last weekend. I opted for the Rosborough, I'm sure The Mister will rue the day I went with a thorned variety. Actually I might rue that day myself. We'll see. So far they are looking vaguely depressed, but that could just be the replanting process, plus I think I left them in their pots too long after I brought them home (about 2 weeks). But their fresh spring leaves aren't looking too bad so I'm just going to keep an eye on them. Not that I would know what to do for them if they starting showing stress, hrmph.

To be planted this weekend: two grapevines that will grow along the new fence (chain link fences make for an AWESOME grape trellis!). On one side I will have a Thompson seedless (white grape) and on the other a Flame seedless (red grape). I felt like a cop-out for doing such typical boring grapes AND seedless. But honestly, I don't feel up to dealing with seeds when it comes to grapes. Call me a wimp, that's ok. It will make the jam/jelly process far easier down the road. From what I've been reading there is a strong potential for these vines to cover the whole fence within a year, which would be fantastic! A lovely green hedge instead of cold stark metal!

But I think I'm most excited about my purchase of a Garden Annie apricot tree, a natural dwarf tree among apricots. While I want to plant some fruit trees, my space is limited so I must choose wisely. So I have this idea of a tableau of some smaller fruit trees in containers along the fenceline. I'm trying to be very careful of creating a backyard of edible goodies but at the same time, striving to avoid a trashy look -- this is a delicate balance to achieve. Do-able of course, but takes a bit of planning and considering. One of my favorite bloggers over at Urban Self-Sufficientist has discussed this problem of balance and I think he has done a really lovely job over time with his projects being both productive and tasteful. But it takes time to see the results and I am not patient by nature. However, the overall image I have in mind of the fenceline I believe will be stunning and gorgeous in a year -- if I can keep everything alive ;-)

So on duty for this weekend:

•Planting the grapevines
•Potting the apricot tree
•Purchasing and potting a lemon and lime tree and whatever other dwarf or container-appropiate fruit trees I can find.
•Moving the chicken coop (they need a change in scenery and I need to get them out of the back corner since that involves an upcoming project).
•Helping The Mister remove all the brush from the chopped up Chinaberry tree to the front for upcoming brush pick-up.
•In the FRONT yard I would like to finish cleaning up the hedge, plant some small roses in the front wall container, and prettify my front stoop a bit with some daisies, marigolds, etc.

On the domestic front (aka "boring housework") I need to start the long awaited Kitchen Floor Scrubdown Post-Dog. Loooooooong overdue but put off until Crazy Daisy was permenently installed outside.

I think that will about do me for the weekend!!! Veggie report later...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bits of Spring...

First olive bloom of spring...

Remember my tight orange buds? Full blossom now!

Sweet pea flowers are the sweetest!

A dash of color with potted cherry tomatoes.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Cooking Creations

First loaf of bread in probably a year, opted to make a full refined white flour bread just for something decadent and naughty, and to get back into the breadmaking habit.

I'm working my way back up to 100% whole grain bread from grains I grind myself (which is a little harder than regular flour). Then when I have mastered that, I'm going to attempt soaking the dough first.

Funny story about this particular loaf of bread. The Mister was very excited that I had made bread and spent a few days savoring it carefully. Then one night he announced he was "eating a big piece of bread" with great solemnity. One might of thought he was going to balance the national debt. I laughed and said that is what the bread was there for, to be eaten, and that I could always make more and I intended on making all our bread from now on. His eyes got really big and said, "Really??? That's so cool.... I can handle that."

Lori's Quiche - my mom's recipe, sacred and secret to all but myself. The key ingredient is lots and lots of bacon ;-) What made this particular quiche so special is that it was the FIRST time I ever made my own crust! And guess what, it was so easy! I'll never buy crust with who-knows-what ingredients again.

As you can see, I have a ways to go til I master the art of ROLLING the crust ;-)

Now I just need to find a good source for lard to get that unique crust flakiness...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Need YOUR ideas for Dead Space!

I need ideas from YOU!!!

I have this dead space around the orange tree. It's completely encased all around by concrete so I thought it would be a good space for mint since it tends to take over. However, that's a LOT of mint so maybe I'm missing something that would do better?

The Stats:
·Interior is dark dark dark, I'll probably just stick a few ferns in there
·Outer areas are part-shade, but remember in our Texas heat sometimes "full sun" plants actually prefer part-sun.
·I would prefer something either 1) edible or 2) pretty bloomer that attracts bees/butterflies.


Ignore all the junk, it will be gone this weekend (said shamefacedly)

Fence Saga of '11

WOW! We had both extremes of weather on Saturday. The morning had thunderous downpours and the afternoon was a lovely bright early spring deliciousness. Unlike last weekend, I was prepared for the weather this time!

We were out at breakfast when the downpour whooshed into town. This immediately made me wish I had stayed in bed. However we scooted over to the Farmer’s Market afterwards anyway, especially as there was going to be a rare appearance by a cattleman who specializes in grass-fed beef. I braved the rain and wind to go stand in line (The Mister stayed in the truck… ahem). Picked up a chuck roast (which I shall now need to learn how to cook), some Amish butter, and some more Brussels Sprouts. The sprouts are part of my current effort to 1) appreciate what’s in season and 2) trying to learn to like Sprouts de Brussels. Incidentally I never knew til writing this it is Brussels plural.. I always pictured it as Brussel. Moving on…

Wet and shivering later, got home and as planned due to the weather, devoted myself to domestic duties. Yay. The weather turned gorgeous and I opened up every single window in the house, all the doors, and the whole place had a delicious airing. More enthusiastic YAY. But I really wanted to be outdoors. That will come later. But Saturday was all about The Mister and his outdoor Saga of the Chain Link Fence.

Very early on in our courtship but after we knew we would be getting married, we had both decided that it would be wise to put up a fence between the garage and the house. It was actually something I had been contemplating for more than a year already. For me, this would serve several purposes.

1.It would keep the chickens more contained if I needed or wanted to let them run around
2.It would provide a more secure area in which to contain Crazy Daisy when company came over.
3.It would provide a GREAT place to grown grapevines
4.While my backyard is very private already, somehow it seemed to me like it would create an even deeper sense of Special Place-ness.

The Mister also wanted a fence. His reasons were:

1.To keep Crazy Daisy outside ALL.THE.TIME.

Could you put this cute little thing in doggy jail?

I shall spare you the details of the long and boring discussions that occasionally happen between two stubborn adults both used to having their own way. In this case, The Mister won out. And LOGICALLY speaking, he’s right and I think even I will be happier in the long-run with the arrangement. Daisy tracks in an enormous amount of dirt that I’m forever cleaning, she sheds horribly, there are the occasional flea battles, she slobbers all over the walls, she’s been a submissive pee-er ever since he moved in, and she is a maniac with guests. Granted, the vast majority of these problems are due to a mommy who either didn’t care about these issues or just looked past them. When you are single for X number of years you need companionship and I adore dogs. However I’ve often been too busy to train her properly (although she does a wicked “sit”!). So… The Fence.

We had waffled a bit on what type of fence to get; initially I wanted something functional yet pretty (think either picket or a wrought iron type-thing) but they were all either too expense or would have taken forever for two people who work full-time to install. We ended up going with a chain link. Some folks don’t like them but I actually feel quite nostalgic about chain link fences – they make me thing of summer days at my great-grandmother’s house. Plus they are relatively inexpensive and relatively easy to install (remember that “relatively” for later). The Mister quickly decided HE could put up this fence at minimal cost and it would be quite easy to do. I had a slight moment of panic at this announcement but kept my mouth shut (for the most part).

And I’m glad I did, because for the most part he was right. He had almost no issues. Oh you can see in the end results some flaws but it is sturdy, looks attractive, and does the job. Other than the fact that he made the space for the gate one inch too tight, which required a whole new latching system, it was fine. Oh and the end pole on one side was wide enough for Daisy to get through, but we figured out a solution for that quickly.

Man at Work

Things I see that I will like already

·I foresee sweeping the floors less = less cleaning time! BIG YAY!
·Since there were parts of the house she wasn’t allowed in, it will be nice to have all the doors open and not have to closed-up sections of the house
·No fear of the already-forbidden jumping & rolling upon the bed, leaving all sorts of delightful and wonderous things behind her
·My clothes will have less hair on them

Things I do not like

·I find myself wanting to sneak her in when I’m in the house alone. No, I have not done this... yet
·I’m suddenly aware of the fact that a dog will be running loose in the yard when I get bees. I need to research this. I’m inclined to think she will naturally steer clear of them but…. Hmmm…
·I feel like a traitor

Needless to say I had a sleepless night but she was quite good, she only had one bout of whimpering around midnight. Sunday we put out the doghouse which is immediately took to (I guess crate training had a benefit here) and we’ve hardly heard a peep of objection from her since. Of course I am still an emotional mess but oh well ;-)

Time to shop for grapes!!!

Hey there studly...

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Bookstand

What is on the bookstand by the bed this week?

Beekeeping for Dummies
A catalog of apiary items whose name I've forgotten
Anne of Green Gables (millionth reading... I do not exaggerate)
Catalog of Baker's Heirloom Seeds

Stolen moments...

Tonight I have to work. Wine tasting. Sounds glamorous to you? Eh... not so much to me. I'm surrounded by wine ALL.THE.TIME. It isn't that special anymore. Although sometimes you do get to talk to some interesting people (and then again... you get some people you wish had never shown up). Plus that means I have to dress up, put on fancy clothes, makeup... blah blah blah. When The Mister comes home he won't know what hit him ;-)

The upside is that I took off from the office part of work this afternoon to get a break before the evening tasting. I did not waste the time especially since tomorrow we are expecting rain.

What I accomplished...

·Weeded the garden
·Planted some beans and watermelon seeds
·Did a little seed organization
·Thorough inspection of the chickens (WHERE is all the poop coming from???)
·Put out some buckets for catching rain (I actually have two BIG rain buckets but we catch what we can down here
·Little leisure reading
·Cleaned the bedroom
·Rested a little

Interesting note: two of the three hens are laying regularly now, pretty much an egg a day. But these girls have NEVER wanted to use a nest box. It's really rather off-putting that they choose to lay all over where they poop. So since it was very cool today I've opted to move the two eggs over to the nest box to see if that encourages them to lay there tomorrow. The eggs will be fine to pick up tomorrow if they don't use it. I won't let them sit there longer than that, I don't want them suddenly going broody on me. Any chicken folk out there know if this will even work?

So I got a nice bit of stuff done. Unlike last weekend when I was caught by surprise by the weather, I have a solid list of to-do’s this weekend that incorporates both indoors and outdoors, so even if it rains all day tomorrow, I’m ready for it!!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Where's the light?

This time of year is frustrating for me.

It's lovely spring weather already but it's dark about an hour after I get home from work. I need more light!!! So during the week it's all about maintenance... watering the plants, buying more plants to pot or put in the ground over the weekend, planning, budgeting, longing to do more....

11 days to go!!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hello March...

Already spring in S. Texas...The orange tree is about to burst forth in blossoms.

Dead fig tree?

I think NOT!

Now I have TWO eggs a day! I'm positive the layers are Trixie and Miss Penny Loo-Hoo. Scarlett looks like she'll be going any day now.

Going to make quiche and homemade mayo this weekend :-)