Sunday, February 28, 2010

The 2010 garden

Like a lot of kids I figured by 2010 we'd have jet cars, travel to the moon for a slice of lunar pizza, communicate telepathically, and transcend our human form to become a race of beings existing only as energy. So none of that happened, but we do have the Iphone, the internet, and and ten thousand channels a crap on TV. I do believe that as a kid I also figured that by almost age forty I would have better things to do with my time than play in the dirt, but that also did not happen. I spent the morning getting the garden ready for this season.

Luckily, the tiller that I had to tear apart and put back together last year started right up this year. Most likely because I have been going out every couple a months and starting it even if I don't have any tilling to do. All in all the Troy-bilt tiller has turned out to be a good buy. Even though the garden area is covered with weeds and grass the soil is much easier to turn than last year. Last year the grass would be in these rock hard clumps that the tines would bounce off instead of cutting into and I would have to fight the tiller to get it to dig into the soil instead of popping up.

This year we will try to expand production to include the same garden space as last year, six to eight raised beds, a patch for melons and pumpkins, and hopefully be the end of the summer some type of green house. Right now I need to the garden tilled a couple times and then plant some seed potatoes. This is not what I thought I would be doing in the future, but maybe by 2020 I can till the garden with a hydrogen powered, self directing, robotic tiller that also makes a nice cup of coffee.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Not So OK Corral

Yesterday, I went back to the old barn with a machette and hacked my way into the old corral that sits besides the barn. Some places this would be an old fence with some grass growing around it and thick weeds, but here we get the cambodian temple effect. The whole thing just gets swallowed up in a few years of undisturbed growth. I wanted to see if I could salvage these old iron gates to use down by the house. Shouldn't take to long with a chainsaw to hack them out of the brush. One is crushed from a tree that fell during one of the huricanes, but two of them are good and will be good for sealing off a couple places that I don't want people driving 4 wheelers on.

This old feeder is in the center of the corral and if I can get it out I might be able to use the metal frame for something around the farm. The momosa trees grow super fast and if you don't kill it cutting a limb creates twenty other limbs that sprout out.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

This recipe is being posted by special request! Thanks to our friends in The Land Down Under. We're jealous of your surplus of summer veggies as we're freezing our butts off this winter.

Luci's Squash Relish


10 cups chopped squash (any kind or mix them-I have used pattypan, yellow squash, and zucchini with great results)
4 cups chopped onions
5-6 teaspoons salt
4 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups vinegar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 jar pimiento, chopped


NOTE: I use a food processor for chopping the squash and the onions, but you have to be careful not to turn it to mush. Do it in small batches and buzz a little bit at a time, emptying the bowl of the processor between batches.

Mix the squash and the onion together in a large pot.

Add everything else, give it a good stir, and then bring it to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes. (Depends on the size of the chopped squash as to how long it takes.)

Place in sterilized jars and seal with sterilized lids.

Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

This relish is indescribably good on all manner of grilled sausage, hot dogs, or bratwurst, even on sandwiches. But I have to say, our favorite way to eat this is to scoop some up with a big spoonful of crockpot beans or peas (blackeye, pinto, great northern, navy...) and scarf it down with a big hunk of hot buttered cornbread.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Salvage from the old barn

I went today up to the corner of the property where this old barn is still just barely standing. When we moved here it was in slightly better shape, but after two huricanes and a couple decades of neglect it looks as if it is just about ready to go. When the property was logged I told them not to knock this down and burn it, but I not sure why. I probably would have been better off, but then I wouldn't have been able to salvage these six sheets of tin from the side which look like they were only purchased a few months ago.

Old structures like this always make me think of the first guy to put it up. This barn is a made from a mix of materials including scraps from the old garage by our house, left of pine v-grove planks left over from the inside walls of our house and rough sawed pine planks that still have bark on the edges and were most likely the first parts of this old barn. I wonder what plans that guy had as he hammered it together. Was it just a necessity to keep hey and put up some animals in bad weather for keeping the family fed or was it supposed to be the beginning of an expanding farm. The beginning of a cattle empire that never quite played out. If I can get the time I am gonna try to brace up some parts of this so it will hang around a little longer maybe I find more things I can uses for the pieces.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The chickens have ended thier strike

For the last month or so our chickens have been on strike. Not one egg for almost a month. This could have easily lead to a bunch of tasty pots of chicken and dumplings, but so far we have let them live in peace. Today the gave four eggs and may have bought themselves so more time on the big blue marble. However, their days are numbered.

Being almost three years old they have moved past their prime laying time and probably hould have been eaten by now. This year we are going to expand they chicken production around the yard, but we haven't decided how many we are going to go with. We will probably go for another twenty or so laying hens. Last time we started with twenty four, six of each of four different kinds. Now we have three rhode island reds and three dominickers left. One of the the groups of six that we started with was pretty quickly killed by the other groups. I guess the term pecking order means something after all. I had no idea they would go after each other, but they would pick a chicken and just peck at through out the day. Once it was bleeding they would just go after it more and more until it was dead. I am not sure if having a rooster keeps order or not. I know the rooster will help to round up strays and make free range chickens go back into the coop at night. Since rooster are mean we decided to wait till the kids are a little older.

This time we are going to start with two kinds, although we haven't picked them yet. One kind will be for eggs and the other for meat. Yep, gonna be some killing around the farm. Having never had to actually kill something to eat I am not sure how this is going to work out, but if I have a problem doing it I should settle in with a nice salad. I think the hard part won't be the killing it will be the nasty business of cleaning the carcass. All the blood, guts, feet, heads and such. I am so very used to my neatly shrink wrapped packets of flesh.

We are going to keep these more seperated for each other by building chicken tractors. The are like a long short framed box covered with chicken wire that you put the chickens in and then move everyday so they get fresh grass and bugs. Great for lawn, good for the chickens. Picking the eggs out of the coop today I realized I need to hurry up and get going or spring time will be here and past before I get any built. Tomorrow I am going up to the old barn on the corner of the property to see what supplies I can salvage. I know I can some corrugated sheet metal for the tops and maybe I can get a little wood too.