Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Unrest in the coop

The factions:

P1000595 (2)Betty and the baby

 P1000618 (2) Doris

P1000621 (2) P1000596 (2) The Girls

  Since Doris’ eggs did not hatch she has given up the nest. But, it seems she is still a little hormonal. She’s been chasing everyone. I think she is trying to establish her spot in the new pecking order, but she is causing a great deal of unrest. She is also exhibiting odd bipolar type signs. One minute she will try and give the girls a treat like they are her children and the next she will be chasing and pecking. She saw a hawk the other day and herded the girls to safety, and then promptly chased and pecked after the danger had passes.

This is not the only issue. The baby, which is a blue splash Marans, will not stop peeping. She/he is at a lack for nothing. She has food, water, and protection from Betty. It’s not a little meek peep either, it’s a loud foghorn alarm type peep. Betty just ignores it, like that couple with the screaming child in a restaurant while everyone else is trying to enjoy their meal. But, the neighbors have heard it and it’s getting on all of our nerves.

To remedy these issues, I am trying to separate out Betty and the baby to a temporary pen and I am trying to find a new home for baby. Doris and the girls are in the coop and pen. I may have to separate further and put Doris in the coop for the daytime and let the girls have the pen if they all can’t learn to get along. We’ll see how it goes.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Introducing…

Some of the youngins have acquired names. I went with  a Greek goddess theme this time around.

P1000611 (2)Athena

P1000599 (2)  Aphrodite

P1000601 (2) Nike

Athena and Aphrodite are Easter Eggers and Nike is a Faverolle. Athena may be a Zeus. I am still unsure. Still without names are the Speckled Sussex and Betty’s baby.

 

In other news, I spent the weekend estate sale shopping and cleaning house. I will share all the fun purchases in the coming days. I did make it the the Farmer’s Market and got the first cucumbers of the year. Instead of pickling like I should have done, we were so excited we ate them with a little salt. While there, I found out that the strawberry season has come to an end. This is sad, but I’m happy I got two batches of jam in.  None to fair worthy, I’m afraid. Maybe the peach or blackberry jam will do better.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Thrift Store Score

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   There is a second hand store near work. I stop in whenever I pass by. You never know what your going to find.
    Well I was walking by today and this woman walked out with a rope handle split oak basket. Ooh I wish I got that. I have a small (ok enormous) useful basket obsession.I mean collection. I take them to market and keep stuff in them. They hold the laundry and the recyclables. Anywho it peaked my interest and I went in.

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 Then I watched another one walk out. This one wasn’t as nice so I was ok with it. So, I looked around and it was obvious someone had just made a major drop off. There was stuff everywhere. This is what I found, a little wooden wheelbarrow. It didn’t have the sides on and it had a crate of terracotta pots on it and some plastic window boxes.
It was hiding waiting for me.
  It is so cute and useful. Useful is important if something wants a spot in our little home. We don’t have room for frippery. It’s sturdy and solid and will be great for toting wood from the woodpile.  I especially like the little fruit detail on the sides.
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Perfect Use for Strawberry Jam

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Fruit squares! Yum! I saw this recipe here and it’s super easy and I am happy to report it is also super delicious.

Determined Doris

Doris is determined to be a mother. She has been sitting for weeks. Today she has been sitting on actual fertilized eggs for 21 days. That is the incubation time. But, nothing has happened. There’s still a chance. But, the eggs aren’t peeping or anything. Poor Doris. I don’t know how to break it to her. Maybe I’ll just let her have a couple more days.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Knowing Your Dinner

Do you know where your dinner came from? Do you know how the meat was raised and who grew the vegetables? I do and it’s important to me.  Last night’s dinner is a good example. Like most meals here,  P1000564
 it was all grown here on the island.

I knew what farm the chicken was raised at and when it was processed, who processed it, and how it lived its days out.  I could also tell you where each veggies came from and who the farmer is. Like growing your own, you know where it's been and what went into it. It tastes better because it's just been picked instead of sitting on a shelf for weeks. It was delicious. Ok I am getting off my soapbox.



Simple One Pan Roast Chicken Dinner
This recipe is great for a big family dinner or a small one.

Set oven to 450. (yes I said 450)

One small roasting chicken 3-4 lbs.*
The amount of vegetables depends on how many people you are feeding:
A bunch of potatoes (small new potatoes are great but chunks of big potatoes are good too)
A bunch of carrots cut to 2" lengths or so. Thick carrots are better than thin delicate ones.
Some spring onions. I cut the bottoms off to eat with the roasted veggies and formed a bed with the tops for flavor.
Some garlic buds cut to 2" lengths or whole garlic cloves to your taste.
I little butter.
A little sea salt and seasoning of your choice. (Suggestions: Herb de Provence or Onion flakes are good)

In a small roasting pan (I use my crueset, a 9x13 would work too) place the onion tops in the middle to form a bed. Put the roasting chicken on the bed of onion tops. Tuck a pat of butter under the skin of each breast. Tie or tuck the legs and wings. Rub the chicken with butter, salt, and any other seasoning to taste. Add veggies around the chicken. Place in the oven. Start basting every 15 minutes after the first 20 minutes. After 1 hour reduce heat to 350. Should take 1.25 hours or so depending on the bird. The thigh juices should run clear when pierced.

* If you have a larger bird and crowd just cook longer and keep basting. Hold the veggies out until an hour before the bird is supposed to be done. A 5-6 lb. bird will take about 1.75 to 2 hrs.

This is my mom's recipe and I think most everyone's mom had a variation. You can substitute veggies. I always have an onion and garlic but the root vegetables change on what's available.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Gifts of the Sea

Living on an island gives you a close relationship with the sea. It surrounds you and encompasses daily life. Most of the time this is a good thing. Yesterday, for father’s day, I went and dug up some steamer clams for dad. He enjoyed them thoroughly.

P1000555 (3) Rake and basket are all you need. Well, and the proper license.

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Just enough for dad.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Veggies and Jam

Saturday is Farmers Market Day. Today’s haul included:
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New red potatoes (I think they were rose gold), garlic buds, asparagus, spring onions, spring carrots, bok choi, peas, and…strawberries! And not just any strawberries, but Mr. Sherman’s June berries. They are the sweetest berries I have ever tasted and look forward to them every year. I asked about them last week and was told it was a bad year and there may not be any for sale. (Mrs. Sherman uses them for her famous jam) But, today I was early enough to snag the only two baskets. woo! I also bought some from Whippoorwill Farm who are second in my book. Their berries are not as sweet, but are a good sturdy tasty berry for preserving. I also bought two fresh chickens today from North Tabor Farm and some beef from Blackwater Farm.
We are pretty stuck at Rugosa Rose Farm with growing greens, herbs, and eggs. We don’t have enough sun for really an other vegetables. To make up for that I have a good relationship with many of the farms on the island and we are able to eat 90% local most of the year.  But, that is another post for another day.
Back to the strawberries! I promptly went home and made jam. Our strawberry season is short. Two or three weeks really. So when I see strawberries, I make jam. My favorite recipe is Strawberry Jam in “Blue Ribbon Preserves, by Linda J. Amendt” It is simple and easy. My only problem is sometimes the fruit bits will float. Who can tell me why this is? It doesn’t effect the taste or jell of the jam, we eat it anyway.It just makes it a failure for entrance in the fair. I have won many ribbons with this jam when it behaves.
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Aren’t they pretty?
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Jars at the ready. You can see the extras for shortcake in the back and my floaty failures of last week.
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I like these round jars the best. You can get a good grip on them and they look so pretty with a ribbon or a length of twine. They are becoming hard to find, I encourage everyone to return their empties.
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Ta dah! They were a lot less floaty this time. Much better. I will stash them away in the cabinet I use to store all my preserving. The preserving season has begun.

Who’s Going?

nofa summer logo   ....to the NOFA summer conference? I am and can’t wait to pick everyone’s brain. NOFA is the Northeast Organic Farming Association and there are over 200 different classes available over three days from August 12-14, 2011. The classes vary for the big commercial farmer to the back yard enthusiast. I am especially looking forward to learning how to make butter and raising pastured meat chickens. There are also classes on canning and preserving, animal powered farm equipment, cover crops, starting a CSA, farm labor and immigration policies, growing mushrooms, greens, blueberries, meat cattle,and the list goes on and on. Here it the link if anyone is interested  http://www.nofasummerconference.org/ . I should say that I have no association with NOFA, I just think this is a great opportunity to learn something new.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Betty and Her Baby

Hens have an urge to have children in the spring. This is called “going broody”. Betty and Doris are both heritage breeds. This gives them more of this urge than say if they were hatchery production breeds that have had this bred out of them. Betty became broody first at the beginning of May. We don’t have a rooster, so we got her three Blue Splash Marans eggs to sit on off the internet. On the day before Memorial Day one hatched and that was it. Just one.

 

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We are hoping it is a she and we have dubbed her Baby for now. Baby is an only child and she is very demanding and spoiled. This coming Sunday she will be three weeks old.

 

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      She follows mom everywhere and Betty teaches her all she has to know such as catching bugs and watching for hawks.

        We gave Doris eggs the week after baby was born. She is a little flakey and hasn’t been quite as devoted to sitting as Betty was. We will see what develops, they are due next Thursday or so.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Field Trip

Today I went to the dentist. It doesn’t sound pleasant I know, but it turned out to be a beautiful day. The dentist is in Woods Hole which means a trip on the ferry. 
P1000439      It was a bit breezy with a sturdy chop. Little whitecaps. It wasn’t anything to hide from but it did keep most less sturdy people off deck. But the sun was out. How can you resist basking in the sun after what seams like you haven’t seen it in years. (In actuality it may have been a week.) And I am not a sun person. You can usually find me under one of my many parasols hiding my ever pale complexion. But today, with the salty breeze in my face and the warm sun it was wonderful.
My appointment did not take long, P1000474but it was long enough to just miss the ferry back. This was fine. It was a lovely day and I can think of much worse places to waste  an hour. Woods Hole is a small tiny place. It is home mainly to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Their ships and submarines have helped locate famous sea wrecks such as the Titanic and the Air France plane that crashed way off the coast of Brazil. They study anything and everything that has to do with the oceans. You will here their name whenever people mentions statistics and such. There is also a branch of the Federal Marine Fisheries Department, The Marine Biological Laboritories, and there is an aquarium owned by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).  P1000476 (2)
I have never been in, but I like to visit the outdoor seal exhibit. One of the seal caretakers was there. There were also several electricians it looked like installing some lighting. The caretakers are usually only in there at feeding times. But, I think that she needed to be around because of the other workers. It was fortunate for these two kids they got to hear all about harbor seals and see them up close. It was like a private class for them. One of the great things about shoulder season. They would never get this experience in July or August. It looked like there are two seals living in there right now. The second one was a bit shy it seamed. He hung out on the other side.
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From there I wandered onto the commercial  fishing pier. This is what all the ocean protectors in town work for, to protect our delicate oceanic resources.
Along the fishing pier there were traps for crabs or lobsters, fish nets, and I also saw oyster grow out cages. We are lucky that our local fisheries are still healthy enough to support these local fishermen and to reap the rewards of their labors.



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   Upon wandering back through the back roads and alleys to the ferry, I saw the bike lot. Who wouldn’t want to park their bike here. It was like being in Europe. They have mass bike parking everywhere. It’s refreshing to see so many people who could just as well bring their car make the conscious choice to pedal it.


What a lovely afternoon in Woods Hole. The 3:45 ferry was ready to board and I worked on the latest UFO on the way home.
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Finishing a UFO (Unfinished Object)

I finally finished this pair of socks. It has been in the UFO pile for a while now. They were started as a vacation project. The thing is, I started them so long ago that now I cannot find the pattern. It was written on a piece of paper in the bag they were in. They are lovely and it was an interesting pattern I would like to do again sometime. Maybe someone will see it and recognize it. It may have originally had the pattern end at the ankles and have had a solid foot. p1000364 (2)  

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They are in a lovely silver grey bamboo blend. So soft and easy to work with and it really shows off the stitches nicely. They fit my feet really nicely, which rarely happens in my sock projects. They are usually too big or too small. They will go in the finished bin until winter, then I will decide if they are fated for my feet or someone else. It’s been so cold lately, I may have to put them on sooner. Someday summer will come.


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The beginning

And so it begins.....

Hello and welcome. I plan for this to be stories of our life here on Martha's Vineyard. We will see what develops. Please feel free to comment and visit often. Thanks.
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