Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We have another Buff Orpington broody hen! Now, what to do with the hen and new chicks who currently reside in the broody pen?! I'd love some ideas.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Berry season. I have a recipe for you!

I'm always on the lookout for new berry recipes. We have SO MANY berries. I can go out and pick Nanaberries until my bowl runneth over and the vines are no worse for wear by sight. It's amazing really.

I tried this recipe out last night... And had to make it again tonight. It's that good. And simple. I substittuted a big spoonful of honey for the sugar, and added a small spoonful of honey to the warm milk and butter for the dumplings. And of course, why pour plain cream over the top when you can use ICE CREAM!? :)

This recipe would work for whatever kind of berry you may have in abundance! Since it's also cherry season here, evidenced by every seasonal cherry stand filled to the brim, I may have to try it with them too.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Babies, babies everywhere!

Just before the birth of our second son I noticed one of our Buff Orpington gals was occupying one of the nesting boxes every time I went out to collect eggs. After a few days we decided she was, in fact, broody. Broody is a term used to describe a hen who shows an inclination to sit on a clutch of eggs. Cyrus cleaned out the brooding box and as everyone was roosting one evening he and Colven moved her and her menagerie of eggs to their new safe place. Not all the eggs were her own, we could tell by coloring. It's a good idea to move a broody hen away from the general population so that other hens don't hop onto her clutch while she is eating (she leaves them for about 20 minutes a day to eat and drink, some hens refuse to leave at all and can actually wither away to skin and bones while waiting for their clutch to hatch!) or end up pecking the chicks to death as they emerge. She has been dutifully sitting on this clutch for several weeks now. I believe the incubation period is 21 days. We've been checking on her daily and giving her seeds and snails from a distance. Cyrus knows first hand why you don't get too close to a mama hen and it goes something like PECK PECK PECK! :) Even hens closely guard their unborn.

Today we checked and here is what we saw! They hatched sometime in the last 24 hours. I couldn't tell if all six eggs hatched as she was quite puffed out and sitting still, with chicks bobbing under and around her, but I saw at least 3 chicks. Mama looks great and I love how protective she is, see how puffed up she gets when we peek in there? It's going to be fun to see these little chicks following their mama around the garden.

Update: Four of the six chicks hatched. We have no idea what happened to one of the eggs -- it's just plain gone and the other looked as if the chick was a bit younger than the others and after rolling the egg around for a day or so the hen decided to peck at it but the baby chick wasn't ready to be born yet. Guess nobody told that hen not to F with mother nature... ;)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Nanaberries are in, it must be June!

Nanaberries! Like magic, they turn from green to pink to black. Come June these awesome boysenberries are ready for a daily harvest. They have this incredible, complex flavor. Makes it worth their renegade status in the garden! Boy do they have roots made for running....
In celebration of one of the first days of a healthy harvest, my 3 year old and I decided we should make something with them. A cake! was settled upon and I hit up one of the links to the right and found this recipe for Raspberry Buttermilk Cake (berry type interchangeable, says it right in the recipe! :) The recipe, as all the others from Smitten Kitchen we have tried, did not disappoint. I highly recommend it. We generally don't use a lot of sugar in our house as I mostly use honey and agave nectar to sweeten, but Colven insisted on trying it two ways (and it didn't occur to me until after I agreed that what he was most likely going for was two cakes! and knew how to get me to agree to that) so we tried one with honey as the sweetener and one with sugar (brown, since that's all I had) and I have to say much to my disappointment... the sugar cake was better. But so worth it. On my way to pick more berries for another.

Friday, June 12, 2009

From life springs eternal

We planted our new son's placenta under an apricot tree. Cyrus officiated a simple ceremony as we offered a bouquet of flowers from our yard and a scattering of sacred sage leaves from each of our hands followed by a handful of compost on top to thank the placenta for it's work of protecting and nourishing our new baby while he grew big and strong inside me. What an amazing feat to accomplish!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

It's so lovely to walk out and harvest a simple and delicious platter of vegetables. Add the quintessential onion dip and voila! Nearly effortless, which is just about the speed I'm running at right now. Easy? I'm in!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Blog break

Time has frozen still. I'm enjoying a beautiful babymoon following the kick-ass homebirth of our second son. Life consists of fluffy cloth diapers, breast milk, cuddles, and kisses for and from everyone. The garden continues to flourish thanks to my rad husband and I'll be back out there soon. The smell of the earth calls me but I'm letting it go to voicemail for a few more days.