Cold late spring or no, things have finally burst. We had a long ten day to two week dry spell. I planted a few things around the full moon in April-lettuce,beets, peas, broccoli, radish, turnip green, spinach...then a big dry spell. Two years ago I was crying because my garden was a swamp this time of year.
The peas were old and one came up out of the whole packet. I think they were more than three years old. I used to know a place I could get a grab bag of the previous year's seed for a few bucks. a big bundle of seed, and every year would buy more and never plant the half of it.
One year I forgot my growing stash of seed on the lawn and it got rained on. I found a couple I peeled apart to plant this year-cukes and tomatoes, so we'll see how they manage.
Other than the peas, the radish came up like gangbusters, neatly spaced so no need for thinning, although a stretch of nothing in the row at one point. Of course, I don't really like radish, but they are fun to pull up.
Next on the success list was the turnip greens. I don't really like turnip either, but I do like a variety of greens, so maybe this will be nice, since the spinach was a total no show. The lettuce is just starting in the new bed, not great. I think the beets might be coming up. The broccoli was a no show.
Friday on the New moon I planted like a fiend. Snow peas I saved from my own peas last year. Purple podded saved stock as well. I found two really old packets of sweet corn, and recalling the pea failure I thought soaking the seed overnight might be helpful, so I did that and carefully planted each seed as it went in the ground.
More lettuce. Carrots. Green beans a fairly newer old packet (last year bought this year). Cosmos Marigolds cabbage . Four varieties of tomatoes and peppers in flats.
I planted old collard seeds two years ago and have had it ever since. The first year a plant actually overwintered. Then it threw seedlings. I found about a dozen seedlings growing and sort of divided them up in a chunk of the bed and they are doing well. I found a couple clumps of garlic that I kept forgetting to dig, and divided that and put it in a row next to the chives, where it is struggling. I don't think garlic likes chives, because the chives are really kicking butt right now in that rich location.
We had a couple days of light rain since then, and I keep saying, "see those oldtimers knew what they were saying when they said to plant on the New Moon- the weather just cooperates better, nice gentle rain for two days, woo-yea."
you ought to see what the trees and dandelions thought of that, hanging in stasis between growth waiting for the sign, and the New Moon brought that nice soaking rain. The grass, the weeds, the bleeding heart has gone from ground level to three feet high and covered in blossoms in two weeks.
Siberian Iris are well over a foot, the day liliies are thick and rank, the bee balm looks good-even one of my two rhodedendrons deigned to blossom this year.
The chicks! I had eight surviving out of 22 eggs. The goose eggs were a failure. The length of time I held the eggs before incubation seemed to have no effect on the hatch rate. The eggs that didn't hatch were those on the side closest to the ventilation holes. So either they were too cold or too dry or both. I turned the eggs in place for the most part during incubation, so I am not sure if relocating the holes, or moving the eggs around would get higher hatch rate.
I did have other issues, I had to help most of the chicks from the shell. I don't think that was me being hasty, because I had several die pipped without me helping. I lost a couple I tried to help, but I pretty much assisted 7 out of the eight, and a couple were bleeders that I applied yarrow to.
I lost the one with the eggs sack, although that shrunk up and he was flounding around the unhatched eggs when I left that morning-I decided to follow advice and leave him there since he was weak- he was dead when I came home.. and later I found a chick pipped face down dead, and I am not sure if the other chick's floundering rolled that one over or not.
So, in the future, I would take them right out of the incubator.,
The young barred rock had offspring hatch in the incubator, because I recognized one of her eggs afterwards.
The Firebird and I both found ticks on us-I really hate ticks. So I seriously started looking at ordering some guinea hens. But most places have a minimum of 15-30 and I didn't want that many.
Lo and behold I stopped off to buy some grain and they had chicks for sale-including pearl guinea keets! So I bought a half a dozen.They are wicked cute, in the chicks brooder location. I moved my babies to the outside brooders and have been worried like an old mother hen, because our nights have been chilly.
I have turned into a dandelion fanatic. A few weeks ago I dug a bunch of plants before they flowered and have a dandelion beer fermenting. More of a hedgerow mead, I suppose.
The recipe promised fermentation in three days and drinking in a week. I was sold. I have brewed a number of batches of beer in my ancient history, and have seen plenty of three day fermentations and drinking in two weeks (much better if you can wait, but who can wait when it's that darn good?)
So Like an idiot, I went to all that trouble and then used old brewer's yeast a friend have given me. I pitched it hot, re ptiched it, realized it was probably dead, and sprinkled some fleishman's on top for good measure. LMAO.
I had two airlocks, so I put it up in two gallon water jugs, melting an airlock sized hole in the plastic top with a hot...knife steel. I actually had to peruse my steel collection, because airlocks have a pretty wide diameter to match to metal.
One of the jugs has had the most faithful fermentation I have ever seen. It took a couple days to get going, and then blurp, blurp blurp-for the last three weeks. I really need to rack it.
The other jug I totally screwed with, I was worried about the old brewer's yeast and right after I pitched it I decided to pour it off the sediment in case it gave an off flavor, so I did. But then it was quite a bit short of a gallon. I had a bit extra I put in a jelly jar and a beer bottle with muslim and a rubber band on top, so after a couple days when just number two was still quiet, I added the jelly jar hoping the yeast in that would kick-start number two.
About a week after that and it was still quiet, I opened it up and poured a cup of sugar in. HAHAHAQ Mount dandelion vesuvius! Well that got a response!
Then I made another lid for the airlock, because I was wondering if the seal was bad and it wasn't really an airlock. So now I am getting the occasional blurp along with jug number one, and they are starting to clear, so I will probably rack them in a day or two and then see.
Well yesterday I thought I should do something about the undisturbed beer bottled covered with muslin. So I carefully poured it off into a jelly jar. Cloudy. I tasted a teaspoon. WOW. I thought it had a lot of potential.
I punched a hole in the lid of the jelly jar with a 20D nail and fitted a small diameter hose into it, which I stuck the other end in another jar of water. It's a form of blow off hose, but can be rigged as an airlock in a pinch. I was scared to bottle the bottle until I knew if it had completely fermented. I have heard stories of exploding bottles. That's quiet and the sediment is settling.
Well, I had to give dandelion wine another try! Beer is made from the early root because of the sugar starch content, and flowers from the wine...
I decided I was going to pick 5 gallons of blossom. HAHAHA! I asked Bosses if they would mind if I picked some blossoms from their field and they both laughed and said to help myself. SO I had at it.
I picked for an hour. I picked as fast as I could for an hour. The herd of goats in the field thought I was nuts. The Great Pyranees thought I was nuts. I was starting to wonder if I was nuts. As I picked, I recalled all my saplings in turn coming to me with the traditional dandelion bouquet as toddlers, "Look mummy I picked yo some fowwers!"
I remembered picking my first dandelions. I remembered the only other time I attempted dandelion wine and picked those flowers, and it seemed a lot faster, dang!
I Picked 7 quarts of blossoms in an hour. Well, that is what they meausured four hours later and you know how fast they wilt. Heck, they were already starting to ferment.
My cute young co-worker turned 21 today. I was telling her that I was going to pick some blossoms later and she told me a bud of hers had given her a book on how to make alcohol out of everykind of plant imaginable-which I thought was totally cool and wish I could remember the title.
But after I finished crawling around the pasture on my hands and knees for an hour, I had to confess that dandelion wine must be a young person's drink, no matter what they say about grandma's recipe, lol.
and, I am sad to report, I did not see ONE bee in the hundreds of blossoms I crawled through today. I saw one tiny deformed looking bumblebee, a couple of ants, and several winged flies. No honey bees. Not one. An organic farm in the middle of nowhere, and no honeybees.
We are "jonesing" for spring around here. A very snowy February has left lots of snow trying to melt, revealing squishy squelchy mud in the places the sun has won the melting battle.
The Willow and I took a walk yesterday. I took the hearts off the mailbox post and put up the daffodils. I considered putting up shamrocks, but I didn't have any green material, nor do I have much Irish in my blood.
We decided to take a walk along the stream. The sun was nice and warm, but the air was still cool in the 40's. We were looking into the pool and marvelling at how clear the water was. I still have a bit of gold fever, so my eyes were scanning the bottom for any shiny bits.
I saw a nice pendant sized quartz glittering about 8 feet from the edge. I found a couple of long sticks, and tried to pick it up likeI was wielding a giant pair a chopsticks. As soon as the sticks would break the surface of the water, ripples would form breaking the clarity of the water, and I would pause trying to be still and let the water settle to find my target.
Three times I managed to get the little stone in between the sticks only to drop it as I tried to retrieve it.
We scanned the area for something to stand on. I considered taking off my boots and socks and rolling up my pantlegs and wade in for it, but I knew that water was colder than I wanted to tread.
Willow found a driftwood stump that I placed in the water for a precarious foothold. I teetered, concentrating, straining to reach the bright stone. I watched the cuff of my sleeve break the water as my fingers scrabbled for the evasive rock.
I heard a big splash at the end of the pool, and I thought it was either a fish or The Willow hucking rocks, so I kept my balance and my focus and kept reaching...
"OOOHHH DID YOU SEEEEE THAT?!?!"
My head jerked up, my balanced shifted, and I threw my feet in what I thought was the shallowest direction since I was about to pitch face first into the pool.
I splashed in and my momentum carried me another leap into what turned out to be the wrong direction. I was up well over my knees, my boots and their thick felts immediately filled with spring melt water.
I quickly headed up the ridge, each boot weighing over eight pounds each with it's gallon of water, my feet and ankles burning and freezing.
I made it up to the rock wall and asked the Willow to run back to the house and get my other boots. I pulled off the boots to a gush of water, and tried to shed my socks which had somehow shrunk and stuck to my feet.
By the time the Willow had come back with the other boots, I was finally barefoot, but my feet were too wet to put on the boots, so I walked along the top of the stone wall barefoot, skirting the patches of snow on the ground. When I ran out of wall, my feet were mostly dry so I put the dry boots on to cross the snow field on the lawn.
(yeah, I am not THAT tough)
Later that afternoon we set ten sugar maples taps, The Willow ceremoniously catching first drips on her tongue off each tap as it went in. She doesn't care for the boiled down maple syrup, but she loooves the fresh sap.
Today I was reading about shamrocks and spring things like that, and I found out there is (used to be?) a spring tradition in the UK involving a parade and someone dressed as the Green Man. Which culminated in the Green Man being dunked in the stream to ensure plenty of rain for the growing crops.
The Green Man is said to rise with the sap in the spring .
The Firebird has been playing indoor soccer this winter. We had a scheduling conflict with basketball, so as a consolation I agreed to indoor soccer at the encouragement of his varsity coach.
The indoor arena is pretty cool, artificial turf with a ground rubber underlayment. The rules are a little different. you are not allowed to hit the ceiling (the other team gets a kick) you are not allowed to hit one of the lights or you get taken out of the game for 5 minutes. You are not allowed to slide.
And come hell, highwater, or a three foot blizzard, the game will not be cancelled.
Last game we were under a winter storm warning, not a lot of snow, but 60mph wind gusts. I really didn't want to drive in the weather, but then a teammate texted looking for a ride, so of course I agreed to drive TWO of the players to the game.
I was glad I did. The other team was short 3 players for a team, so we lent them two of ours, and one stayed over from the previous game and helped them out. So no subs for either team. I was sitting on the sidelines in a row that was comprised of myself, our varsity coach, and a couple other coaches. I could hear them comparing notes, but tried not to eavesdrop.
The Firebird really wanted a goal. In a scrabble near the goal, he chested one in. A short while later, he had a throw-in that nicked the foot of a player from the other team and went in. Then, he had two assists.
We kept leading by one, then the other team would score and tie it up. We were ahead in the last few seconds. His teammate that rode up with us threw the ball to the Firebird from the sidelines. The Fierbird had his back to the goal. The throw came in low to the Firebird's feet. Suddenly he hooked the ball and kicked it up high over his head and behind him, landing flat on his back.
The coaches all burst out in exclamation and fell off their seats laughing.
"I have NEVER seen that move before!" exclaimed our varsity coach.
"Well, I have seen a bicycle kick, but never that low," he added.
"He's YOUR son!" he chuckled as I shrugged my shoulders and laughed in agreement.
He should see some of the moves the Firebird makes up in the yard when he thinks no one is looking. Just ask my rosebush. :P