Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Flight privileges revoked

We have a 4' fence surrounding the berry garden.  In the berry garden are my new-to-me strawberry plants, nine teeny-tiny blueberry bushes and seven grape vines.

The strawberries were given to me by my Mom who dug them up just as they were fruiting, so they didn't produce more than a dozen berries.  Not that I got any.  The blueberries were just about ripe for the picking last week.  But we didn't get a single one.  Because even though we have a fence around that garden, there are about a half-dozen chickens that manage to flap-flap-flap their way up and over and into that succulent berry feast.

So even though we just planted the grapes this spring and I don't have any high hopes of getting much of a grape harvest, I do not want to lose all three types of fruits to the stinking chickens.

There is a chicken-created crater around this little bush.
And do you see all the blueberries?  Me neither.
Not only do they eat all the fruit, but the little buggers love to dig around in the garden and they insist on digging right around the base of the plants.  Which doesn't bode very well their root system.  And in the corner of the garden is the compost pile, which of course, gets scattered all over the place and never really gets to compost.

So two nights ago as the biddies were going to roost, I caught the known perpetrators and clipped their wings.  And they haven't been in the garden since.  I haven't done this before now because I was worried that the inability to fly would make them an easier target for the numerous carnivores hanging around the woods.  But if I don't get any berries out of this stinking garden, I will be the carnivore they need to worry about because I'll soon be munching on some fried chicken. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Yogurt Fail

It seems as if I'm destined for failure every time I attempt to make yogurt.  I've tried for several years now, and eventually I give up and go buy the stuff at the grocery store.  

But this year - this year was going to be different.  This year I was going to make yogurt!  Well, technically, I've been making yogurt for a while now, but most of it ends up in a smoothie or made into salad dressing or dumped into some sort of dinner or dessert concoction.  You see, I'm a yogurt snob.  The "regular" store bought stuff is the thinnest I'd consider eating "as is".  I like my yogurt THICK, like in Greek-Style, like in you can hold the jar upside down and nothing drips out kind'a yogurt.  

Is it so wrong to want to be able to duplicate that in my own kitchen?  Will I have to add gobs of carrageenan or corn starch or gleatin to get it to firm up like that?  It may come to that.  And although I suppose it's not the end of the world if I have to resort to an additional thickening agent, I had lofty hopes of just adding a bit of leftover homemade yogurt or freeze-dried culture to my fresh-otta-the-goat milk, shaking the jar up a bit, then leaving it in a warm spot for 12 hours or so.

Not so much.

I've tried straight-from-the-goat milk.  I tried two-day old milk.  Raw milk.  Pasteurized milk.  I heated up the milk.  I let the milk cool on it's own.  I helped the milk cool quickly by immersing it in a sink full of ice water.  I used Dannon unflavored, unsweetened yogurt as a starter.  I used the store brand plain yogurt as a starter.  I used little freeze-dried packets of L.bulgaricus, L.acidophilus and S.thermophilus. 

I incubated at temperatures ranging from 108 degrees all the way up to 125 degrees.  For six hours up to 24 hours.  Used a homemade yogurt maker using a small Igloo cooler with hot water and towels around it.  Put it in a pre-warmed oven overnight.  I even bought a "real" yogurt maker this past week:

Found this on the local online trading post for $25 and
it  was still in the unopened, original box...what a deal!
And every time - Every. Stinking. Time - the yogurt never sets up.  Even in my brand-spanking-new EuroWhatever yogurt maker.  I mean, it smells and tastes exactly like yogurt, even a bit more "yogurt-ie" than the store stuff, but it just doesn't thicken up.

Candy C. over at Lazy J Bar C Farm recently did a post showing off her yogurt parfait glasses (filled with non-runny looking yogurt) so I asked her how she made yogurt and she gladly posted her recipe for me.  So that same morning I went out to milk the goats, strained the milk, then put what I needed for another batch of yogurt to the side and put the rest to cool in the freezer.

I did deviate a bit from Candy's recipe as I didn't want a sweet yogurt to start with, so I didn't add the vanilla or sugar.  And I didn't have any greek-style yogurt on hand so I just used a bunch from my last batch.  Hmmm.  So actually, I didn't follow Candy's recipe much at all, did I?  But I did add the 1/2 cup of powdered milk and used the still warm, raw milk like she does.  So I kind'a used her recipe.  I put 5 cups of straight-from-the-goat milk into a 1/2 gallon jar, dumped 6 oz. of the last batch of runny yogurt in there along with the 1/2 cup of powdered milk and shook the heck out of it.  Poured it into the little jars and turned the EuroCuisine switch to the "On" position.  

And then I kind'a forgot about it.  Like I let it sit in the incubator for twenty hours forgot about it.  I figured that maybe, just maybe, that the additional time and warmth would give the little yogurt bacteria guys more time to multiply and maybe thicken.  But as usual, I was wrong.  The only thing it did was slow-cook a wee bit of yogurt on the bottom of the jars.  And it still didn't set up anywhere near the consistency of store-bought yogurt, even after being in the fridge for half a day.  And boy, was it tangy!  

So when I finally made it to town, I stopped in the grocery store to buy some Greek-Style yogurt, but they only had honey flavored.  Oh well; I bought it anyhow.  So now I followed Candy's directions exactly (well, except for the honey flavored part) and had another go at it.  I put it in the EuroYogurtThingy for eight hours.  There were parts that were thick, parts that were really runny, but it was still thicker than anything I've yet to make.  I put it in the fridge to cool hoping it would thicken up a bit more, but it didn't.  

I strained it through some cheesecloth in a sieve overnight in the fridge.  Come morning, about half of the whey had drained and I was left with some of the most delicious tasting yogurt I've ever made!

Thick, yummy, homemade goat milk yogurt!!!
Candy's recipe called for 1/2 cup sugar and I'm wondering if that is what made the difference.  As I'd really like to have an unsweetened yogurt, I'm going to try another batch without the sugar and see how it turns out. 

Thank goodness we're flush with goat milk so I can freely experiment.  Although I have had  to make some changes when cooking or baking lately; namely using all that experimental yogurt in everything I cook!  

Friday, May 25, 2012

The last of the first

Well, I finally pulled the rest of the turnips, the single tiny beet (the other ones were pathetically tiny) and the rest of the pea plants, the vines almost totally brown and dry.  And all while we're still in the month of May.  
Up until the moment I ripped out the remaining pea plants (stripped of their pods) Rhiannon has been religiously picking and eating them.  "Momma?  Go out eat peas?" was uttered every day, often several times a day.  I'd better get some more in the ground ASAP or I'm going to have a cranky toddler.

Now I have an entire raised bed ready for planting again.  And this past week would have been perfect were it not for the chickens.  We still do not have the front "yard" fenced in so the chickens feel that every inch of the homestead is their personal salad buffet.

When I planted earlier this year, I had the plastic over the hoops to warm up the beds, and as a bonus it kept the chickens from scratching, pecking, dusting themselves and eating every single green thing in there.  But putting plastic on now would just cook any emerging seedlings so I'm going to have to go to the feed store and see if they have any poultry netting or light fabric that I can drape over the beds.  I'm hoping it will keep the chickens out and as an added bonus, provide a little bit of protection from the scorching sun and maybe even prevent some of the nasty vegetable-eating bugs from gaining access to the plants.

Add the chicken destruction to the fact that we haven't had ANY rain since April 13th or so, my yard, beds, gardens are basically powdered dirt.  For those of you that live in the southern part of the country, how do you keep your gardens from getting sun-scorched? 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Chicken Prophylactics

Ok.  I've been thinking about the whole infertile chicken egg thing lately.  

My apparent inability to successfully hatch out any number of chicks from the last two incubations is driving me nuts.  

Last year's hatching rates were good.  Well, except for the fact that I
slow cooked the first batch of hatched chicks.  Ugh.  The first cooked batch started out with twenty-nine eggs and seventeen hatches.  The second batch started out with thirty-eight eggs and 20 hatches.  I was darned happy with a 50%+ live hatching rate.  

second batch - my "new" hens - are doing well.  They started laying just at six months old.  And some of them seem to be really frekking mean very protective of their eggs, so maybe I'll get a broody hen or two.

My hens get a 9% feed along with whey, extra milk or runny yogurt (more to come on the runny yogurt, btw) as well as all the kitchen scraps from our kitchen and Mom's kitchen.  We also allow them to free-range, so fresh greens, seeds, insects, lizards and even the occasional mouse is on the menu.  The older hens are two and three years old and the newer hens are just under eight months old.

I haven't determined if it's the eggs from the new hens or the old hens that aren't fertile, but since the new hens outnumber the older biddies, I suspect that it's mostly the new hen eggs that are duds.  The "good" eggs in the incubator also look to be from the older hens as they are a little larger than the rest.

Are pullet eggs not fertile?  Does it take time for their eggs to be of hatching quality?  Are my roosters shooting blanks?

know it's not for lack of chicken sex.  I can't walk from the house to the barn without tripping over fornicating poultry.  One of my hens even has to wear a chicken saddle because she's such a little tramp.  

Has a representative chicken from Health & Poultry Services come onto our homestead without our knowledge and started handing out pamphlets about planned parenthood with packages of chicken contraception?

Are my hens now clucking about sexual revolution whilst locked up in the coop at night?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hatching Fail x 2

Yet another pisser disappointing discovery:

Out of another fully-loaded incubator, there are only five viable eggs.  Ironically, two of them were the green eggs.  This would be the first time I've had viable eggs from my Easter Egger hens.  There were another five "maybe" eggs, so I kept those in there anyhow and will check them in another few days.

And to make things worse, I had a slight temperature malfunction; as in the temperature got up to 105 for possibly two hours.  After I tossed the bag eggs and put the "good" and "maybe" eggs back into the incubator, I had to tweak the thermostat to get the temperature back up, but I guess I tweaked it just a little too much.  So hopefully I didn't cook the few remaining live eggs.  

I also candled the eight turkey eggs and six of them were dead.  It looked like something had happened at one point, but then turned.  When I candled them it looked like a big, dark blob. Not like a yolk blob because there wasn't a defined border, it was like "swampy" looking stuff.  So I took them outside and cracked them and there was a dark icky goo inside.  The two that I'm hoping were OK had clearly visible blood veins and a little dark blob attached to it.  Whether or not they are still alive, I don't know.  I'll candle them again in a week and see if there is any growth.

I'm not sure if I'm going to bother hatching out any more of our own eggs.  I know I want more hens, so I guess I'll have to resort to buying fertile eggs from somebody local.  Which I suppose isn't that bad.  It would be nice to have some new chicken DNA around the homestead anyhow.

Mama Pea and Susan had also recently complained mentioned their inability to hatch out any chicken or guinea eggs the past few years.  Is it some cosmic influence?   All the GMO-tainted feed?  Changes in weather patterns?  Chemtrails?  

How are your hatching rates?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hatching Fail

Ok, yesterday was day twenty-three, and not a peep or slightest sign of pipping.  For those of you not familiar with egg hatching / incubating, chicken eggs take twenty-one days from the time they start the incubation process to the time they start hatching.

It didn't bode very well when I first
candled this batch, so I suppose it's not that big of a surprise that none of them hatched.  But what the heck was I doing wrong??

So I did what any other curious homesteading chicken raising weirdo does.  I cracked open what I
thought were the viable eggs on the evening of day twenty-three.  And of the seven "maybe good" eggs, four of them had half-developed chicks, the others had black blobs attached to the yolks.  So some of them developed more than others, but then just stopped.

I am still not sure what I did wrong.  I've successfully hatched out at least five batches of eggs in the past, three of which I used this exact incubator, the same themometer (with humidity level) and even had the incubator in the exact location as the other times.  There was a day that I noticed that the humidity was in the low 40's, but I corrected that within a 24 hour period.  

I started collecting eggs again and started the spare incubator up with another forty-seven eggs in it on the 13th of May.  I'm going to candle them in a few more days.  If the viable to dud egg ratio is as bad as it was this time I'm just going to toss them all so I don't have to keep watch over them for two more weeks for nothing.  

And since it seems that I'm a glutton for punishment, I have these questionable items in the incubator:

One of Paul's co-workers was brush hogging last week and came upon ran over a pile of turkey eggs so he put them in a box with towels an brought them to Paul.  I have no idea how long they were without warmth, and of course don't know how long they've been set on by the turkey hen, but I figured what the heck and put them in the incubator. I'll give them the full twenty-five days in the incubator not knowing how far along they are, and cross my fingers that some hatch.  I just hope that they don't explode!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Another bad hay year?

We (well, Paul) picked up six large round bales of hay this morning.  The guy we got it from said that he only got 147 bales out of one hundred acres.  He usually gets over 300 bales.

This is not good.

Last year, as anyone with grass and hay munching animals knows, was a devastating year for hay.  Although we had an "OK" hay season, most of our hay went down to Texas where there were horrible drought conditions.  And as the hay prices here are truly based upon supply and demand, that meant that even though we had hay, most of it went to Texas where it was being sold for insane amounts of money.  That also drove up the prices here.  The last crappy (and I mean C.R.A.P.P.Y.) bale of hay we bought at the end of the season went for $65.  And it is just sitting outside now, waiting to be rolled down the hill, hopefully to spread some grass seed as that is the only thing it would be good for.

This load of mixed grass hay cost $40 a bale, but I'm guessing they are going to be light bales.  Although we were swamped with rain earlier in the year, we're getting to that point where the word "drought" is coming up in daily conversations.  

My front "lawn" crunches when I walk on it.  And it's not even June!
The hay guy (not to be confused with the pecker-head-lying-hay-guy from last year) is going to be bailing some river bottom hay (a better quality) this coming week and I think I'm going to call him and ask him to hold another eight bales for us.  We'll (Paul, again) have to do some creative thinking to put it all under cover though.  But I think it will be worth it to not have to worry about running out like we were worried last year.
Well, I just got off with the hay guy and he said that he may not have eight bales available as most were already spoken for!  But he did say he'd get me as many as he could of the river bottom hay and if eight weren't available he'd make sure we got the remainder from the second cutting.  Assuming we get rain this summer to have a second cutting.  Ugh.  I hate worrying about hay.  

And even though we've got plenty of grazing ground for the goats, I've been having to feed them hay.  It's been 90 degrees or darned close to it the past week so they've been hiding out underneath the barn where it's cool and just coming out in the evening to eat their hay.  I haven't been able to stake them out to graze on the green stuff because it's just too hot already.  

Guess I'll be looking up "Rain Dance" in my Magical Almanac pretty soon.  I hope it doesn't entail me getting down to my skivvies.   

Friday, May 18, 2012

Homemade Sweet Herbal Tea

I know that for most of my readers, making sweet or iced tea at home is nothing new.  But up until a few years ago, I never really got the recipe down right.  I know, I know.  How hard can it be to make sweet tea?  Water, tea bags and sugar, done!

Well, it wasn't as easy as that, at least for me.  I normally just make sun tea, but it wasn't that old southern "traditional" sweet tea.  But I think I finally figured out how to make a good sweet tea!

In my feeble attempt to be more "healthy" (as I type this there are blueberry muffins in the oven, BTW), I've been making an almost-herbal tea, i.e. three parts herbal tea to one part black tea.

Start a kettle of hot water on the stove.  Three herbal tea bags and one black tea bag go into a 1/2 gallon mason jar and I pour about 3 cups of almost-boiling water over it.  While the tea is steeping, you need to start a sugar syrup.  Put about a 1/2  cup each of sugar and the hot water from the kettle in a heat-proof bowl or mug and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.  

After the tea has steeped for about ten to fifteen minutes, take the tea bags out of the jar and fill the jar with ice cubes and then almost top it off with cold water.  Then slowly add some of the sugar syrup and stir and keep tasting until it's as sweet as you'd like.

If the tea is going to be just for Rhiannon and I, I will add several drops of liquid stevia extract to sweeten it instead of using the sugar syrup.  I've also used honey when it seems to blend well with the kind of herbal tea used.

Nothing beats a tall glass of ice cold sweet tea after pulling weeds all day in the sun!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A most unconventional tea

Although we don't have afternoon tea as often as I'd like, we did manage to squeeze it in yesterday.  And here's the impromptu setting:

Teapot filled with tea, sugar bowl, tea cups and plate full of fried calf liver.

Yes, you heard me correctly.  I said liver.

One of our friends just butchered their steer calf this weekend and she asked if I wanted the liver.  Heck yes!

So yesterday morning I started cutting up the liver into manageable sizes (the liver was over seven pounds!) and sorting it out into piles.  Inedible scraps into the garbage, smaller scraps for the cats & dog, and three hunks for us humans to consume.  Two of the hunks went directly into the freezer and the third was sliced up for dinner that evening.  

I put the pet scraps into the cast iron skillet and cooked it up for treats for the fuzzballs.  Before it was even done cooking, the delicious aroma of fried liver wafted throughout the kitchen and was driving me crazy.  So I decided that we should probably sample some of the liver.  You know, to make sure it was ok.  So I sliced up a few pieces, dredged them in flour/seasoning salt and fried them in a little bit of oil. 

Heaven.  I think that anyone that doesn't like liver hasn't had it cooked properly.  Or they're aliens.  Either way I guess it doesn't really matter because it just leaves more for me.

Rhiannon and I ate our little snack of fried livers, slurped the rest of our tea and went outside to run around a bit.  Well, she ran around.

I'll do a post on my fried liver and onion gravy next blogging day.  Try to keep from drooling in anticipation.

Paul's Take
Apparently I'm one of those aliens.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Back to work

The mother hen that hatched the lonely Easter Chick has resumed her job of providing us with eggs!  I got the first egg on Friday and I got another one on Sunday.  I remember the last mother chick laying eggs again while she was still taking care of her little chick, but I didn't take note of how long it took a hen to go from broody to laying again.  
The chick was hatched on April 8th, so that means the hen was setting on eggs at least two weeks prior to that (and not laying any more eggs).  According to my guesstimating, the hen took off just over two months of egg laying.  Not sure if that is normal or not, but now I know.  And I'm sure all of you were just dying to know that little bit of chicken-trivia.  Two months of paid (i.e. free scratch & treats) Maternity Leave is a pretty good deal.

She and her chick are still in the smaller brooding pen and I'm not sure when I'm going to let them out.  I always seem to have a problem letting the little chicks out into the "big" world.  I've probably lost close to a dozen chicks to predators once they are let out of the pen, so I'm a bit gun-shy now.

And since the chick is still pretty small, it can't make the big jump up to the chicken coop door.  So that means I'll have to build a chicken ramp; something I've been meaning to do forever anyhow.  

Just put it on the list, right?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

It's mine, all MINE!!

In the span of just one week, we sold all three goat kids.  One of Annette's doelings went to a friend down the road (where she was quickly adopted by the resident mare) and yesterday we sold the last two goat kids.  Nettie's wether kid went to a farm as a pet (they kept Boer goats and the little girl wanted a non-eating goat) and Annette's second doeling went to the same folks who took Pan off our hands.  

So now we have ALL of the milk to ourselves!

I'm a bit unorthodox when it comes to our milk goats.  Oh, I started the milking routine "by the book" the first two years, but then as circumstances changed and I got to understand my little milking herd better, I changed things around a bit.  

When the does first kid, I let the family stay together 24/7 for a week.  I'll only milk out the mom if she's too full or to get a bit of colostrum in the freezer.  After a week, I put the kid(s) in the kidding pen overnight so I get all the milk first thing in the morning.  After I milk the doe, I let the kids out and they stay together until the evening.  The kids effectively take care of the second evening milking for me. 

When the kids are weaned or sold, I'll have to do two milkings to make up for the kids.  I'll do two milkings a day for about a week, gradually lessening the amount I take in the morning or evening, so I can then go back to milking only once a day.  

Because I milk only once a day, technically I'm only getting half of what I would get if I milked twice a day.  If I really pushed her, I could get a gallon & a half of milk out of Nettie every day.  But honestly, I'm lazy.  I don't like having to milk twice a day.   And we really don't need all that milk.  I don't see why I should keep shoveling grain (cha-ching!) down a goat's maw just to keep her milk production in high gear. 

This year, I yet again changed things a bit.  Instead of locking up the kids at night, I let them have access to their dams almost the entire day.  The only times the kids couldn't get to their mom's udder was when I tied the adult goats out to graze.  But even those few hours of "alone" time was enough for me to get milk for us in the fridge.  Granted, I was lucky to get a half-gallon a day, but it was fine by me.  And I swear all that extra milk made those kids grow bigger and faster.

I'm wanting to have Nettie bred to a standard sized milk breed buck this fall because I'm hoping to have a replacement for Nettie.  Not that Nettie's ready for retirement yet (and I don't mean "the freezer" when I say retirement.....she's earned her golden years here when they come).  And since there's no guarantee that she'll pop out a doeling next spring, I figured I may as well get started.  And when she does kid with a female, I'm going to do the same thing I did this year with the milking schedule; I'll let that doeling have all of Nettie's milk for at least twelve weeks in order to take advantage of all that nutritional goodness. 

But for now, I'm back to the twice-a-day milking schedule.  But I'll be back to the "Lazy Milkmaid" program in no time at all.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Peas. Gonna need more peas.

It seems as if I once again underestimated how much we really like peas.  
Flowering peas from a few weeks ago.
Rhiannon and I went out to pick some for a stir-fry for supper tonight and only ended up with half of what we picked.  The other half went directly into our maws.

And now the remaining goodness is being plundered as I sit here typing this post:

So after I'm done blogging, I'm going to have to go out to the garden, weed myself a clear spot and plant more peas.  Not that I should complain.  This is what I always wanted; my family to be able to have good, wholesome, yummy food within picking and munching distance.  

So much for the stir-fry! :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Good. The Bad. And the waste of an Omelet.

I decided to candle the eggs in the incubator yesterday afternoon.  It was depressing, to say the least.

Out of forty-seven eggs, this is what I came up with:

Bottom left hand corner, nine viable eggs.
Top left hand corner, twelve "Maybe" eggs.  And I was very liberal on the "Maybe" criteria.
Bottom and top right side, twenty-six duds.

If that doesn't suck, I don't know what does.  I mean, come ON!  I've got twenty hens serviced by four roosters (Why do they call it "serviced" anyways?  It always makes me think of getting an oil change or something).  

Granted two of the roosters are gimpy, but I have seen each of them doing the deed, although with some difficulty.  Even if I just assumed that only the two dominant roosters were getting it on with the hens (or would you rather me stick with "serviced"?), that's still a 10:1 hen to rooster ratio, well within reason.

So not only have I been babysitting UGB (UnGrateful Bastard) seedlings, but I've had at least twenty-six, and more likely, thirty-eight UGB and unfertilized eggs sucking up electricity, warmth and moisture in my incubator for the past thirteen days.

Another thing I've noted is that I have yet to have a single viable green egg from my two Ameraucana (or is it Araucana??) chickens.  And I know at least one of them is being bred as she has to wear a chicken saddle because she's one of the roosters favorites (tramp).

So.  Is it me?  Is it the incubator?  Should I have kept the eggs in a cooler location (no, not the fridge) while I was saving them up?  Should I have been chanting fertile incantations and waving a sage smudge stick over them every day?  Shown an x-rated chicken flick?

For a while I was thinking that my roosters were shooting blanks, but I did have nine viable eggs.  Then I remembered.  We got a dozen eggs from one of Paul's co-workers, so for all I know those nine eggs could have been from his chickens.

I've never had this bad of an incubation before.  I'm half thinking that I'm going to have to start saving eggs again and crank up the extra incubator.  If I'm going to have to clean out and prepare the brooding area for chicks, I'd hate to "waste" all that time and effort on just nine chicks; assuming they all hatch out alive, which is doubtful.  It's just as much work for me to take care of nine as it is to take care of four dozen chicks.

Guess I'll be collecting eggs again.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

More Garden Bounty

Although my seedlings are pretty much pathetic, my other garden vegetables are doing much better.  You know, the ones I just planted directly outside.  And didn't do much other than keep the chickens out of the beds and occasionally watered.  While on the other hand, those sad seedlings I spent weeks and weeks on pampering are still waiting to be planted outdoors.  UGB.
Sugar Snap Peas
The peas are doing well (and are pretty tasty right off the vine) although I haven't decided if I'm going to let them get to "pea" size to shell them or pick them early to use in a stir fry.

And I picked a bunch of purple top turnips:

I actually planted this variety last year, but left them in the ground too long and they got tough.  The goats enjoyed them throughout the winter though as what I didn't harvest I kept in the ground and pulled a few at a time for goat-treats.  But this year I made certain to pull them earlier so the humans could enjoy them.

The spinach is long gone as it bolted probably three-plus weeks ago.  Who has spinach bolting in the beginning April???  Wacky winter.  I'm hoping that some of them go to good seed and I'll replant more in the fall. 

Bed full-o Lambs Quarters!
Although I'm out of spinach, I'm still harvesting the "free" lambs quarters, which I'm now liking more than the spinach anyhow.  So much for pampering seedlings.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sad Seedlings

Ok, I know that I started my seeds a little late, but they are now over eight weeks old and they still look like this:
I mean, come on!  They were started in "official" and organic seed-starting mixture (although leftover from last year's seed-starting adventure) and I even transplanted them into larger pots with "official" bought-from-the-store fortified soil for this express purpose.  Last year I think I just transplanted them into barnyard scrapings (i.e. goat-poop fortified dirt) and they did much better.

As soon as the weather warmed up I put them outside during the day and brought them inside at night.  Then when I figured they were hardened off enough, I left them outside all day and took them out of the sun during the warmest part of the day.  Then when we had a "cold" snap a few weeks ago (although not near freezing), I even brought them back inside and put them under the grow lights again for the day.  I pampered these stinking seedlings for eight weeks and
 this is what I get?!?  Ungrateful bastards.

So, what am I doing wrong?  Some of the seeds were from last year, some were bought this year (although the heck if I remember which were which), so maybe that had something to do with it.  Who knows. I was hoping that they would be a little bigger before I planted them into the garden, but I guess I'm just going to stick them out there as is and hope they survive.  

Friday, May 4, 2012

Auction Winner!

Well, it seems as if we have a wee-ner!!

The very generous Tammy was the high bidder for the Encyclopedia of Country Living book at a whopping FORTY DOLLARS!  Whoo-hoo and Congratulations!

So Tammy, if you'd please head over to SciFi Chick's blog at Bacon and Eggs and donate the winning amount to her site, I'll run out to the post office on Monday and get your book shipped to you!  Hope you enjoy it :)

And a great big "THANK YOU" to Tammy all the other bidders!

My sees-ter is leaving tomorrow morning, so I'll be back to blogging again real soon.  Until then, I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!