Tuesday, May 14, 2013


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.

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