Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lazy Weekend

My spring break started this weekend after my class performed three shows of "Much Ado About Nothing" in two days. They were pretty great and we're all pretty exhausted. Now we're on to mentoring presentations in April, class trip to California in May, and graduation on June 2. Amazing how time is flying.

The chicks already practically look like chickens at the ripe age of three weeks. Since their head and neck feathers seem to be the last to grow in though they keep reminding me of vultures. We have had two accidental escapes from the bathtub (heralded by frantic chirping). They stretch their wings and flap a bit and one suddenly finds itself isolated from her sisters in a strange new world. We'll have to rig up a taller barrier this week.

Ms. Rhode Island


Somehow she always manages to give me a funny pose.

This weekend's little project was cutting the flannel I'd bought square and making a couple of receiving blankets by simply serging the edges. It cracks me up that that's how they do them at the store anyway and I get a lot more options for patterns this way.

The big craft project this weekend was this little tank top. It's some super soft (my guess is merino wool or alpaca/silk blend), really nice yarn a friend was going to give to Goodwill because she was sick of looking at the half-finished wristwarmer project it had been. What to do with a single 50g skein when one has babies on the brain...:) I'm going to try to post a full pattern tonight since I just made it up as I went along and like the way it turned out. It's sized for a wee one (18" chest) but I thought it might work to give some extra warmth to that vulnerable little torso in about October when it gets chillier here. I'm trying to drill this message into my brain even before the little one arrives.

Digit kept following me around as I took pictures so I told him I'd take one of him.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Everybody's Growing

The chicks are now about 2 weeks old and are feathering out at an alarming rate. You can practically watch them grow.

16 weeks and counting! You can practically watch me grow too. ;)Ultrasound on April 7. (Although we're keeping the gender a surprise.)
On the subject of bellies, I'm in love with this image.

The school's annual auction was Friday night. It's basically the only "adults only" evening of the school year and I always look forward to it. This year, the second grade chose "Welcome Baby!" as their basket theme and I managed to get it for a steal - especially since it included two one-hour prenatal massages along with everything below...

It's so rare that a mishmash basket has so much useful stuff and serendipitous that I've been strictly resisting buying baby gear yet. The clothes are also in a variety of sizes, ranging from newborn to about 6 months.
Tiny socks and hats!

The layette before Friday night consisted of the adorable care package that my mother-in-law sent (see below), the sweater I knit, and a hand-me-down Maya wrap from a friend.
It's a good thing we love duckies because they've become a bit of a theme.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Spring is Really Coming

A few weeks ago Q ran 6' heights of chicken wire between two corners of the shed and two corners of the ell that is the master bedroom. He cunningly incorporated the tractor door and the chickens now have their own run during the day. It makes them exceptionally happy. The serendipitous part of the situation is that the bedroom's sliding door is enclosed in the run, which has provided a lot of opportunity for amusement.

The chickens are alway anxious to watch chicken TV and look through at the strange life inside a house. They hurry to the door every time anybody approaches it. Little Miss (on the right) also thinks she should live in the house and has started trying to hop up when the door is opened. She is also the one who hunkers down and spreads her wings a little when you scratch her back and tends to also follow Q like a dog when he's out in their yard. Lily (back and on the left) is much shyer and more difficult to handle but they've each given us an egg a day throughout the winter. They apparently don't know that chickens are supposed to molt and quit laying when there is less than 15 hours of daylight. ;) Silly chickens.

This is also a fine cat tv station and for some reason it especially tickles me when all of my orange animals get to observing each other.

More proof that spring has sprung came today in the form of CHICKS! We've been talking about raising a few meat birds this season and we, of course, had to visit the chick room when we went to the Urban Farmer today to get some other supplies. We decided that there's no time like the present (and I swear Q's a big softie when it comes to the joy of possessing chickens) and we picked up 3 chicks who are probably a little over a week old. They happened to be a little older than all the other chicks he had and were the only ones in their tub so we got them all. They are now living a life a luxury in our guest bathroom tub under a heat lamp.

One Silver Laced Wyandotte

Two Rhode Island Reds

They're both dual purpose heritage breeds that are known for being good layers as well as being meaty and I'm glad that it just happened to work out that we now get to experiment with some new breeds. Silver Laced Wyandottes are so strikingly beautiful when they grow up that if this one ends up having a nice personality I'm thinking it might be nice to replace Lily (who would become stew) and have an easier to handle layer. We're planning on training them all to be accustomed to people and easy to handle anyway since it will make their short lives less stressful for everyone involved. They should be ready to harvest in mid-July. I'm very interested in the cost comparison of raising and processing our own birds versus the poultry CSA we were part of last year.

When we went to the Good Earth Home Show in February we picked up this guy at the One Green World booth - a tea plant. I potted him in a pot that's far too big for him now but he's going to be permanently potted (so we have the option of bringing him in if it gets too chilly) and I know how lazy I am when it comes to repotting.

We also got 5 little pots of saffron crocus bulbs (ever wonder where saffron comes from?) and a grape to replace the one that died last year. One Green World is an extremely dangerous plant nursery. They're in WA, so they know how things grow in the Pacific Northwest and they tend to carry rather unique plants that pique my interest and make me think crazy things like, "wouldn't it be fun to grow my own tea?" As I said, dangerous.
I've got the beginnings of growth from all four of the rhubarb plants and they didn't care a whit about last week's snow and freezing temperatures. The asparagus crowns have not awakened yet.

The front bed is absolutely littered with crocuses. A few hyacinths are starting to put forth stalks as well and there are tulip leaves a couple inches high. During last fall's bulb planting window, we got amazingly motivated and tore up the front perennial bed that had gotten almost completely taken over by lupines and daisies. We widened the vegetable bed that abuts it toward the house and used the landscaping timbers that had been at the street to clearly delineate the two beds. This summer we're going to bring the short stone retaining wall that lines the west side of the yard all the way across the front to replace the timbers. In the process, we dug up the bulbs that we've had planted when we moved in, which had been multiplying for the last 6 years. There were zillions. We also (of course) bought more to help provide some more zesty variety. All of the work has paid off and I think we're going to have a long bulb bloom season in that bed as different varieties reach maturity.

2010 Harvest and Preserving Totals

In honor of the beginning of spring, I'm finally taking down the 2010 sidebars. The beginning of 2011's lists is just around the corner...

Around 160 lbs of produce (not including corn or eggs). It doesn't quite match last year because my squash plants just didn't produce this year and a few squash and pumpkins tend to pad a total. :)

Beeswax - 50g

  • Beets - 13 lb. 14 oz.
  • Bingo Beans, dried - 2 lb.
  • Blueberries - 6 lb.
  • Carrots - 2 lb. 4 oz.
  • Celery - 1 oz.
  • Cherries - 5 1/2 oz.
  • Corn - 20 ears
  • Edamame Pods - 5 lb. 5 oz.
  • Eggs - many!
  • Garlic cloves - 4 3/8 oz.
  • Green Beans - 11 oz.
  • Kale - 2 lb.
  • Lettuce - 8 lb.
  • Onion, red - 5 oz.
  • Onion, yellow - 1 lb. 15 oz.
  • Parsnips - 3 lb. 12 oz.
  • Peas, shelled - 5 lb. 14 1/2 oz.
  • Potatoes - 6 lb. 15 oz.
  • Radish Seedpods - 3 lb.
  • Radishes - 6 oz.
  • Rhubarb - 1 lb. 2 3/8 oz.
  • Snow Peas - 2 lb. 12 oz.
  • Spinach - 2 lb. 11 3/4 oz.
  • Strawberries - 68 lb.
  • Tomatoes - 5 lb. 13 oz.
  • Yellow Squash - 3 lb. 12 oz.
  • Zucchini - 12 lb. 6 oz.

Apple Cider, 22 oz. bottles - 45

  • Apricot puree, canned - 13 pts.
  • Apricots, dried - 2 lb.
  • Apricots, frozen - 1 gal.
  • Bingo Beans, dried - 2 lb.
  • Blueberries, frozen - 3 gal.
  • Cherries, dried - 15 1/2 oz.
  • Cherry Pie Filling, canned - 4 qt.
  • Cherry Wine
  • Chicken Stock, canned - 4 qt.
  • Chicken Stock, frozen - 5 qt.
  • Edamame, frozen - 1 1/2 gal.
  • Kale, frozen - 1 lb.
  • Marinara, canned - 7 qt.
  • Marinara, frozen - 2 qt.
  • Peaches, canned - 47 qts.
  • Peaches, frozen - 4 quarts
  • Peas, shelled, frozen - 3/4 gal.
  • Pickled Beets, canned - 4 pt.
  • Radish pods, frozen - 1/2 gal.
  • Rhubarb, frozen - 1 lb. 14 oz.
  • Snow Peas, frozen - 12 oz.
  • Spinach, frozen - 28 oz.
  • Strawberries, frozen whole - 8 gal
  • Tomatoes, diced, frozen - 4 1/4 qt
  • Zucchini, shredded, frozen - 45 oz.