Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Ms Julia!

Today would be Julia Child's 100th Birthday and hot damn! I love that woman. Her piercing voice, her cozy TV kitchen in fuzzy black and white (oh yeah. I watched reruns as a kid as an alternative to WWF after Saturday morning cartoons. Shhhh. Don't tell the Redneck!),  her novel notions of food, and best of all her underlying message (to me, at least): what happens in the kitchen, stays in the kitchen!

So today I will make omelets in her memory, and if one of them should slip and fall onto the floor as it did in that oh so memorable episode, than shhhhh! no one will know!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

(almost) wordless.

DE + leafblower = treating under the barn for bugs...

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Blueberry Wine - pt 1

Back when I lived in California, which seems like oh so many years ago, I used to make blackberry wine. I had a gazillion blackberry bushes at my disposal and I am such a hoarder when it comes to that sort of harvesty stuff that I couldn't resist.

Enter my current patch of blueberries... while we have picked maybe 5 of the available 30 or so gallons this year (no joke, but many are too high up to reach...), we have put up maybe 3. And I have decided to make a (small) batch of blueberry wine as well.

Unfortunately I lost the first several pictures due to my phone momentarily becoming an idiot, getting stuck in 'recovery' mode (like that's going to trick you out of thinking your phone is just half dead...) and losing everything on it. Mere hours after taking said photos. But that's a whole different story...

Crushed pureed blueberries, sugar, yeast & water in the primary fermenter.

I pushed this cap down and stirred every day for three days. (if you look closely you can tell it was bubbling)

Straining through a flour sack towel, my cloth of choice for these sorts of things.

It's important to let it drain with a proper weight on top. In this case, expired yogurt I brought home from the store.

Mmmmm... fruity.

Added to the secondary and topped off with our particle free, PH neutral well water.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Family Time

We're an odd unit in the traditional sense of the word 'family'. I recent had a discussion with one of our younger members all about what a 'real' family is. With missing pieces, substitute pieces, step pieces, grand pieces, grand step pieces, half pieces, and nary a 'real' title among us (except maybe Zora and Luke as 'the family dogs'), this can be a tough one for a kid to wrap their head around. And while I wish that these sorts of discussions weren't so necessary at times, I am so incredibly happy and extremely grateful that we are at a point where they can happen. Because I take my job as the family 'hippie' tremendously seriously, and it warms my heart to know that these kids can talk to me.

And it warms my heart when we get to spend 'real' family time together to do fun stuff. Recently we went to the Natural Science Center of Greensboro (again for me and the Acorn. But what can I say. He loves the Pendulum). It was the first time for Sissy, and the Acorn got to show her his favorite bits. Needless to say, she was more impressed with the animals than the pendulum, but that was part of the fun. When we all went to the one in Raleigh a few weeks ago, she had been and we had not, so it was his turn to take the lead.

We had fun!

The Health Education room seemed to be immensely interesting to kids of all ages...

We tried to feed the Acorn to the resident T-Rex, but he spit him out (too bony).

It was a fairly warm day and this tiger climbed down the 'cliffs' the have set up, backed into the pool up to his neck, and proceeded to make these faces.

Practicing for when we get goats.

Teaching the redneck how to operate the 2 man submarine. (this is important stuff, guys)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Update in Pictures

Again - I apologize my dear friends and Lone Reader (hi mom!) for my absence. I seem to be apologizing for that particular thing a LOT these days, but life has picked up its already ridiculously fast pace, and I have no idea where the time is going. I feel perpetually behind on all things, but am hell bent on enjoying today with the kiddleywinks. Yes.

So without further ado, please admire my beauteous captions and pretend to be updated in no particular order (because the blog is not cooperating):

Re-post this may be, but happy to be seeing these guys in our garden. They keep nibbling critters away and if they're around, big copper colored ones are not.

The Lone Reader bought us these Vincas while she was visiting so I would have something pretty to look at amongst the bare dirt, chicken poop, and the flotsam and jetsam. They are thriving.

New 'pants chickens'! We got four Silkie chicks, 2 black and 2 buff. The boys call them 'pants chickens' for obvious reasons.

Cindy is molting. And she looks like a porcupine.

This guy was stunningly beautiful despite his only having 7 legs.

Some of the 'baby' chickens checking out the new Silkie arrivals.

Cotton flowering

When I ran out of gas mowing the meadow, the Redneck came to my rescue on (in?) his trusty Yota steed.

The Vincas are re-seeding themselves already

Silly Silkies - can you find all 4?

WTF North Carolina people. These didn't move the whole 10 minutes it took me to get this picture.

While the mass o' freaky caterpillars wasn't moving, I picked 3 gallons of these.

A couple of hours later they had changed color, grown spikes and gotten both more hairy and more scary.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Itty Bitty - in action!

Jumper #1 and #3 is Itty Bitty. Oh yeah. This is totally how she's managed to climb her way back up the pecking order.

They REALLY like banana.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Itty Bitty!

A long overdue update... Itty Bitty has slowly but surely pretty much recovered from her injuries. She worried me, but she sat in the back of the coop for about two weeks, and didn't move apparantly. In the enclosed section between the wire 'run' and the nesting boxes... the chickens NEVER roost back here no matter HOW cold it gets. Go figure. Anyway, she then started foraying to just out the front of the coop every other day - about 15ft - for water. And then she forayed out everyday... and now she's back with the flock. All in all it took her over 2 months to integrate back in with everybody.

We utilized lessons learned and did not segregate her from the flock. I was not concerned about the other chickens messing with her too badly as she a) was covered in blu-kote, and b) kept hanging out where the other chickens really didn't go except on their way to the nesting boxes. I can only assume that when going past Itty Bitty to and from the boxes they always had other pressing matters to attend to rather than mess with her - they were most likely either in a hurry to get that egg out, or in a hurry to tell everyone about their accomplishment.

However, it was a full two weeks or so after her ordeal before I could handle her well enough to see what was going on with her. She had a hole in her side (since closed up) and her leg seemed to be giving her problems, but nothing too big. Now it turns out that her leg was either dislocated and too swollen to seem too out of place, or it got dislocated in her rushing her healing process. Just try to control a wanderlust-stricken hen! I dare you!

So now she hobbles around with the flock, and goodness we should have named her Scrappy! She manages to get the first morsels of treats and retreats with them before everyone else notices she snatched it. She refuses to leave my toe ring alone and pecks the crap out of my toe whenever possible. She flew up into Acorn's face and stole the hotdog out of his bun... she also started laying again, and has permanently earned her place in the flock due to her overall pluck.

(I am hilarious, btw)

And she's almost fully feathered again!

All the chickens like to hang out under the barn quite a bit. And steal Zora's water (the grey bucket).

Venturing forth into the unknown.
Just a hint of blu-kote and quite a bit of new feathers, still partially sheathed.

You can tell her bum leg is turned in a bit (her left leg). Doesn't seem to be stopping her.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chicken Confusion

My (not-so-small-anymore-) baby chickens have found a new favorite game.

Up to no good in the blueberries

Firmly perched.
They are still young enough that they are light and are able to fly. Which is great in terms of survival for baby chicks, but damn annoying for me when I'm trying to pick the first of the first flush of blueberries - and much better than last year's - off the 15ft tall bushes.

And they managed to perch in far enough so I couldn't reach them, and just high enough that dousing them with water also doused me.

Friday, June 22, 2012

It's Starting!!

Woohoo! It looks like the ample rainfall earlier this spring is helping to ensure my bumper crop of berries this year - I just hope it doesn't drought on me now that they are starting to ripen. This year's berries are turning out to be SUPER delicious!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Any Guesses?

OK. SO no one figured out what the last picture I posted was (I said I'd post more pics, but it honestly looks the same, just bigger. Answer at the bottom of the post), so I thought I'd try again. This one might be a tad easier. I hope I hope.

Any guesses?

UPDATE: So I've gotten quite a few emailed guesses - it seems that many people think this is a type of bean (which technically they are... but not the beans that you think). You guessed the 'ean' part - it is a peanut plant. Woot! Carolina black, to be specific. You know. Me and my heirlooms. It's not in prime position (as most of my garden this year...), but I have 3 of these guys and with the heat setting in, they are flowering.

Which leads me to my random trivia of the day - in Japan these varietals are call 'rakkasei'. Rakkasei basically means the same as the Latin name "Arachis hypogaea". "Rakkasei" literally translates to "fallen flower fruit (or plant)", and "hypogaea" means "under the earth". To sum up the coolness of the peanut plant, the flower blooms, gets pollinated, and then the stalk grows until the flower 'falls' to the ground where the ovary begins forming a fruit underground. So it is a legume, but you still get the fun treasure hunting quality of digging for them. Super cool, methinks.

In some places peanuts are also called monkey nuts. That just cracks me up.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all you Dads, step Dads, sometime-Dads, wanna-be Dads, and Dad-for-a-day-Dads. Much love to you all.

And to the best two Dads I know. Mine, and my Redneck. A very special Father's Day to you both.

Friday, June 08, 2012


My life seems to be so full of engagements these days - things I mostly don't want to do or feel obligated to do or whathaveyou... doctor's appointments, work, errands... even mundane or fun things get that 'ugh. Do I HAVE to?' treatment a lot these days. Of all things, shoe shopping (I need a pair of running shoes for work) is becoming the bane of my existence.

However. There is one engagement that does not feel obligatory or weighty or anything other than exciting - the Redneck finally caved and we're getting hitched! There's a while before any fun nuptual-esque activity takes place, but since it's taking me (literally) months to buy new work shoes, this is probably a good thing. And I am honestly so excited about marrying my man that I like having the time to relish this giddiness. Yay!

Yes. He will kill me when he sees this post. In a month or two :)

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

A Bit of Space

It seems that I may have needed a wee bit of space. Everything in the past (almost entire!) month has been a bit much, and I could not keep blogging up on top of everything else. And while this week doesn't seem particularly better, it is time for me to get going again.

I must say that having my mother here with us has been amazing. She did the lion's share* of the work, and now my garden is weedwacked, cleared of almost all of the shrubbery I wanted to get gone, my two new beds are filled in (and deer netted!), necessities have been purchased, surfaces have been cleaned, new routines have been established regarding the Acorn** and his bedtime... all good things.

And my sister came to visit for the first time. I always loved showing people around when they came to visit us in Japan. I think it can be so cool to see your mundane existence through other's eyes as they see it for the first time... and Stoneyhaw is definitely different! She was only here for about 2 days, but we did manage to pack a bunch in there and I was very glad to see her before the insanity of her home ownership and impending induction into motherhood swept her away for a bit.

I also managed to get my garden in (mostly) and while the strides seem hobbled and not nearly as big as I would like them to be, we ARE making them.

Or at least that's what my mom told me!

My mom and sissypants.
It's important to partake in southern food immediately upon deplaning.
The Battalion eye their first greens suspiciously.
This Wyandotte has completely changed in the 2 weeks since I took this picture.
The Battalion has also learned how to roost.
Feeding was getting a wee bit frenzied at the end of their confinement there. Glad that's over!
They took to free ranging like champs and go back to the coop fairly late. For chickens. We have stopped feeding them all but a few handfuls of scratch grain here and kitchen scraps there. They keep their crops bulging all on their own. So proud!
They got a bit confused the first downpour they were in - and some took to huddling under a scrawny bush. Please note they were 20 ft from their coop, 15 from the Brigade's and about 10 from 2 barns and a camper - all with ample shelter... and under the big barn and the camper is where they hang out often, so not so foreign...
Some of them have taken to being toted on the Acorn's head
So. Many. Berries. Can't. Wait.
And I found some!
My dad's least favorite vegetable. Fortunately for me, I LOVE chard!
Mr. Toad.
Daylilies from my Godmother. Hi Roxanne!
Have you ever seen a potato flower?
I love them!
How about an onion flower?
Leftover metal panels from the construction of the Chicken Palace will be guiding my beans this year.
Baby beans!
Garden visitor. We like these guys.

*please note that at this time 'lion's share' translates as 'all'.

**aka 'the Spawn'. Trying to change what I call him. But he's still kind of 'The Spawn'-y to me.