Monday, July 31, 2006

Most are welcome

Red onion gone to seed

Some vegetables, like the above onion, are biennials. The majority of things we pull out of our veg gardens are annuals, and, as such, put out seeds in their first (only) year, like tomatoes. Others, mostly root crops, can live through the winter and sprout into seed the next year. Why didn't I pull this onion last fall? I don't really know. I haven't grown onions from seed before, and, unlike most of the other volunteer seedlings, I doubt the seeds from this plant will magically become a bed of onions; they have the reputation of being fussy seedlings. I guess it is because I like to see the green shoots emerge again, to be followed by the rather curious seedhead. This thing is nearly 4' tall.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Perhaps today is not the best day to put the roof on the chicken coop.

Of course this just kills me, not being able to work outside on a day off. I guess this means I can get that 2 weeks' backlog of laundry folded and put away. Sigh.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

All creatures great and small

I personally am so glad that M exhibits no fear of small things. This is a katydid (or something like it) that I fished out of the pond with her.

M's breakfast today

Yukon Gold potatoes, golden plums and yummy eggs

(Not pictured: an onion or herbs. She likes her potatoes nekkid, thankyouverymuch)

n.b.: not all food on the farm is ovoid; just this particular meal

Friday, July 28, 2006

Sliding scales

There is a difference in the way Tom and I approach things like construction. I don't think it is a personality thing, it is just the way we value time. The above photo is something Tom emailed me yesterday when I was working down in Lakeside. His afternoon task (his mom had picked M up at school) was to put in the wire mesh and screens on the coop after first installing the drip cap. So here is the lovely drip cap being clamped and glued to a 1x1 nailer. Quite beautiful.

My approach would have been different, as in, damn, we have no time to work on this; let's find out the fastest approach, money be damned, so we can house the girls by this weekend in their new crib. But if I had had the time...yes, I would've done it that way, too.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Speaking of my Minneapolis garden, when we moved to Michigan I only hauled a few plants down with us. I think I limited myself to one 5-gal. bucket. Herbs like sorrel, oregano, tarragon, thyme and sage made the trip, as well as two perennials and one sickly-looking rhubarb plant. This is one of the three perennials, it's a rather floribundant rudbeckia. All the plants that I bothered to move had some kind of unusual provenance or happy memory attached to them; it was the ONLY way I could leave the hundreds of other plants behind. Not quite a Sophie's Choice kind of decision; rather, I gave in to some warm Minnesota sentiment.

This particular rudbeckia was a gift from someone with whom I have lost contact. It, like all the other plants and people, have transplanted well, and are thriving.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Nobody grows alone

L to R: Leeks, borage, volunteer tomato, cukes, amaranth and bush beans
Lovely bolted lettuce (it's almost 4' tall)
When I lived in Minneapolis, I grew vegetables, but mostly I grew flowers. "Eyecandy gardens," I called them, those perennial beds (with a few annuals tossed in). I admit it was easy gardening in the city: so little space to fill, so much shade, so little sun. Here, well, let's just say when we moved in, our land was underutilized as far as a gardener is concerned. Tabula rasa. It was arranged for the grass mower. The Old Fart, I learned, kept all 4 mowable acres at fairway height, meaning he mowed about twice a week.

I still am an Eyecandy Gardener. I can't help it. About now, most other gardening blogs are posting photos of beautiful harvests of their pounds of booty. The vegetable garden IS highly productive, but I certainly am not even in the race for productivity of pounds per acre. Yes, the beds are planted intensively, but mostly, they are planted with an eye to contrast, to beauty, to fooling the bugs by not having sole plantings of squash or potatoes or what have you for the little f*ers to come and feast. So I let things go to save the seed and attract "good" bugs, but mostly because I like the looks of bolted lettuce. Honestly.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Day-old robin chicks in a grapevine

We have admired this robin for 2 summers now; her nest is perfect. Yesterday Tom noticed the babies; they're fairly remotely located, at about eye level.

The temporary coop

I am working today at my office in Lakeside. I have the great good fortune of being able to work from home on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, thus only commuting on Mondays and Fridays the 28 miles to work. But today is a FedEx Screwup day, so here I wait for drawings from NY. And wait, and wait. And time is on my hands...

This is a pic of the temporary coop, taken in early May. The girls (and the girl) are much bigger now. I like the moody ambience of this pic.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Tom emailed me this a.m. to say he found these eggs. They were in the temporary coop, actually, not IN the coop but in the general area inside my potting shed. I know that chickens are creatures of habit (but aren't we all?) and since we didn't have a nesting box for them since Day One, they will begin to hide their eggs on us...especially because they are free-range birds. Cowabunga: look at that monster egg, though. No telling how old these all are, so they are all going into the compost heap (tossed, from a distance, to then be quickly buried). Poor birds.

The in-betweens

The veg garden is being very productive, but this preceding week was one of "the waits." Yes, I am still pulling lots out of it; we are at the precipice of Bean and Tomato Season, not to mention squash/pepper/eggplants, and starting this week we'll have quite the bounty. The usual large-bowl tender-leaf salads, however, will have to wait until the end of August. All the lettuces and arugula, mache, spinach, tatsoi and mizuna have gone to seed and/or been pulled up and composted. I have planted some hot-weather salad substitutes: amaranth, Malabar spinach, and chard. They are lovely. Midsummer means tougher leaves in your salads; I suppose we should just adapt.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

It's not dark, it's blue

Bonnie, Beatrice, Maude, Margie and Phyllis scratching around the new coop

I was just informed by my daughter (who'll be 2 1/2 years old, i.e., 30 months for those doing higher math, on Tuesday) that indeed, it was not dark YET, it was simply blue. I guess I see her point. Another lovely day here on the farm. Tom and I got lots done on the coop. Considering the girls are all days apart from each other in hatching order, we assume we'll get eggs out of them all soon, too. We retrieved another out of the ramshackle nest in their temporary coop, thank you Beatrice (I misattributed Egg #1 on the farm to Bonnie; it really was old Bea, who laid the second as well). We put Margie in the coop for a while, as I had found her in the garage (another bldg. entirely) atop the workbench, pecking at the rechargable battery indicator...I can only assume she was looking for a quiet place to be. She sat in the nest a while, but didn't lay anything. No pressure, Margie. Do whatever you can, when you can.

Just in time

Tom and I got the coop covered yesterday. (That insanely tan and handsome man in the photo is he.) Today, we resheathe the gable of the garage. In typical poor-farmer fashion, The Old Fart who used to own the farm put the cheapest on-hand material he could find to use as siding. What is there now is vinyl floor underlayment. Yep. Not even weatherproof stuff: you can put your fist through it, if you were so inclined.

Bonnie gave us a little gift for our efforts, too. (Hurry up and finish my new digs!)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Progress on the coop

The Taj Mahal of coops

The walls and roof framing, as you can see, are up. This weekend Tom and I intend to put the roof sheathing on, and maybe we can get the siding on the walls. We need to do the screens; before the snow flies, we can make the windows. Oh, and the door. That will take a bit of time.

Tick tock; the girls should start laying any day. And I would like my garden shed back to garden-related items. Right now, I have garlic and onions curing in the shed...and yes, it smells slightly chicken-y. Yuck.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Terra firma

THIS is the place for me.

Farm living is the life for me.

Land spreading out so far and wide

Keep Manhattan just give me that countryside.

Divided efforts

Time for my own garden- and farm-related blog.

The above is borage. It's a weedy but bee-loving herb with edible flowers and prickly but tasty cucumber-like leaves. It figures highly in the Pimm's Cup, which is THE drink of Wimbledon.