Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sharing the harvest...

Clara bunny is a free agent around the place during nice weather. There is a smorgasbord of food for her all around, but I do catch her in my garden from time to time. It seems she has a weakness for pea plants... leaving us only a few. It's hard to be too upset with her, she is such a happy spirit around the place. But next year I'm planting the peas further away from her favorite haunts!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A little harvest...

At dawn my eyes fly open unbidden. I care barely wait to get out of bed and into the world. The yard is filled with dew and sun that spangles off of fat water droplets in all the colors of the rainbow. And there are chicks and ducks and turkeys and lambs and dogs to tend to. All of this brings me unspeakable joy.

I walk through my garden to see how things are going and growing. Before I know it a snow pea pod drenched in last nights rain is in my mouth and my taste buds are dancing under its sweet cool crispness. I pick another and another and pile them into the turned-up front of my pajama top. Next I snip garlic scape's. Their sharp scent slices through the warming air of morning and sets me to thinking about a supper of stir fried meat and veggies.

Inside I stack the early garden bounty on the tiger maple table while the sun slants in. And it demands I take a photo to save the moment... as if the Kodacolor in my mind was not enough.

Chicks and ducks...

The Cornish-x meat chicks are growing by leaps and bounds. They are not pretty, but they are healthy and seemingly very happy as they eat, sleep, eat, then eat, then eat some more.
Meanwhile, "Beauty" the Muscovy duck is laying eggs to beat the band. She is seriously pondering doing some nesting, so I am saving her eggs to put under her if she gets to the business of brooding. Meanwhile they look nice in my cabinet.

My computer has been a bit under the weather and I have been unable to blog, but my sweet husband has tweaked things so I can post again. I missed blogging a bit more than I should, methinks!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

New recipe, old fears...

My co-worker let me taste her lunch a week ago and it was delicious. She shared the recipe. I got the ingredients and started to assemble the dish tonight. It included Phyllo dough, which I have no experience with.

As I opened the package of dough I was struck with a moment of terror. I am a fairly confident cook, so this feeling of fear was unusual. And then I was suddenly swept back in time. I was in my childhood home. My mother (a good but unadventurous cook) was having an afternoon cocktail with some other woman, perhaps one of my aunts.I could hear the clink of ice on glass and smell the cigarrette smoke in the air. It was in the 1960's, and one of the women said, "Phyllo dough! It is the latest thing. Delicious but you have to be so careful with it. It must not dry out or it's disaster. You have to cover it with a wet towel while you work, imagine!" They discussed how difficult the process was. Apparently the conversation made quite an impression on me!

I plodded on with my cooking... layering dough with butter, spooning in a mix of seasoned vegetables, layering cheese, topping with more phyllo. And it wasn't all that tricky.
The end results were delicious! I had to laugh as I ate... for an unknown number of years I've been afraid of phyllo dough. All because of a conversation I overheard long ago. I wonder what else I have been avoiding because of some past experience?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

And what is so rare...

... as a day in June?
After yesterday evenings storm there was a double rainbow over the meadow. The brighter rainbow shows up best in this image, but there is a fainter one arching to the left. Something about this place lends itself to rainbows, we seen them often in the eastern sky.

Those who live in warmer climates will not be impressed with my garden shot, but it is looking good for a Maine garden in June! In this bed I have garlic, Yukon gold potatoes, bush beans, broccolli, 2 kinds of cabbage, spring lettuce mix, spinach and peas. There is a new, larger garden too. It is filled with tomato, pepper, squash and other plants.

I love the snapping sound of a screen store slapping shut. It reminds me of the million times I flew out the porch door of my childhood home, intent on summer adventures. I have my own screen door now, put up in April or May and taken down, with regret, in the late fall. It is a badge of good weather and welcomes breezes to tickle the lace curtains and make them dance.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Be careful what you wish for...

On May 1st I brought home Muscovy ducks. Ducks are new for me, and I am learning about them as they settle in. About 2 weeks after they arrived, the hen, (the bird in the foreground in this photo) began entering the chicken coop first thing every morning and laying an egg behind the food bin. After 10 or so days she then began going in the coop at night and setting on the eggs. Now, from what I understand, what she SHOULD have been doing was just settling on the nest and pretty much staying put until some ducklings hatched. She reminded me of a teen aged mother, though... quite dedicated part of the time but out hanging with her friends by the pool the rest of the time! I WISHED she would get on the nest and stay put so we could have babies. I wished it a lot. Yesterday and today I have found variations on the above theme. Two broody* chickens AND the duck all on the nest! There are now 21 eggs and three mothers. If anything does hatch it will be a very confused little bird.
(*A broody chicken- or duck is one that is hormonally driven to sit on a nest for almost all of the day. They get off only once or twice to eat, drink and eliminate.)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Smoking and new friends...

Niece Aimee brought new guy Tim to visit. Chris smoked a home raised hen and a few racks of amazing ribs on the new rig he got for Christmas. There was eating and laughter and goodness all around.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


My little friend Stephanie came to visit... she wanted to see the chicks.
She is a ray of sunshine and the most gentle spirit.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Small town living and how baby chicks are delivered...

My friend and I order baby chicks from a hatchery each spring. She called this morning and said, "The chicks are here!" The lady at the post office had called her as soon as they arrived. This was my cue to rush to get them.

They post office was not open so early, so I went to the loading dock and rang the buzzer. The postal clerk handed me a box as if she couldn't wait to get rid of it. I laid it on my front seat and could quickly understand why she was anxious to have it gone. The chicks inside were packed without a volume control, and they were LOUD.

At home I had a brooder box all ready and waiting with food, water and a heat lamp. I opened the shipping box and this is what it looked like inside. It is a chilly morning in Maine, and the chicks were a bit cooler than was ideal. One by one I lifted them out of the packing box and dipped their tiny beaks in the water bowl. After each chick had a drink I set it in the food container. This would be the first food/water they would ever experience. Chicks are hatched with enough reserves from the egg yolk that they can go 48 hours without nourishment. But by the time they arrive in the mail it is important that they eat and drink right away.

It is no small miracle to me that they are able to figure out how to get what they need so quickly. Once they have had thier fill they head for the warm spot under the light and take a nap. I put my cell phone in with them so you can see how very small they are. I put the new chicks in with the baby turkeys that I got on Saturday. The turkeys looked a little startled at first, but now they are snuggled up with their new friends.

The loud peeping has settled down some as the chicks busy themselves with the business settling into their new home. They are warm and fed and all I hear now are contented little chirps from the brooder. There is so much LIFE in my life!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Thanksgiving in June...

One of my goals this year was to try to raise a few turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, I am trying to raise several things for our annual feast... I have planted butternut squash, garlic, onions, potatoes, pumpkins and a variety of herbs.

Ordering turkey's is something that should be planned ahead. I had the best of intentions, but then got sick and was pretty much useless the entire month of May. Today at work I was thinking to myself how dissapointed I was that I had not arranged to have turkey poults to raise. Then, in the afternoon one of my co-workers said, "The feed store I was at this morning has all kinds of baby ducks. Runner ducks, Pekin ducks...." I rudely interrupted her. "I want TURKEYS. DO they have turkeys?" She said, "Yes, they DID have some."

I nearly ran to the phone and called the place. The man said, "Yes, we have 4 left. And we close at 3 PM." It was then 2:20. I was at work. I quickly called my husband. He was on the way home from taking a load of trash to the dump. "Can you take a ride to the feed store in Waldoboro and buy me some turkeys? They close in 40 minutes." He was bemused but drove there- a 30 minute drive. When I got home he handed me a small, chirping box. Inside were 4 poults...all yellow down and big pink feet and dark eyes.

They are currently settled in a large wooden box, with a heat lamp and food and water and a deep bed of clean shavings. They are enchanting, and loud. And very possibly far too cute to eat.

Random shots...

This moth was sitting on the window sill the other day, looking like a flower petal from a distance. Up close it looked... unique! That yellow on its head looks like Farah Fawcett hair to me... and her color scheme reminds me of a prom gown.

The chickens are discovering the world outside the fence line. There is tall grass and bugs and places to explore. It is fun to see them rustling about... like bright jungle explorers. I suspect they will be more exposed to attacks from ariel predators as they venture further from the house and coop, and this worries me. I hope they will be safe as they expand their horizons.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Guilty of...

I like to think I am the sort of person who lives in and appreciates the moment. Truth is, sometimes I am not.

It is lilac season in Maine. Lilac bushes grow around the foundation of many houses here, and they grow wild in long forgotten hedges and around the base of old cellar holes. I like to think about the people who planted them long ago, knowing that early every spring the bushes would be heavy with scent-laden flowers.

The lilacs always bloom right around Memorial Day here in New England. As a child I used to run to the huge hedge of lilacs near the Boxford library and pick armfuls of blooms. I would lay them on the graves in the ancient cemetary and think about how the heavenly perfume would make the spirits glad.

This year I have walked past the lilac bush by my door a thousand times and loved the fleeting aroma. But I have not stopped to bury my nose in a purple bloom and just breathe. Until today. I snapped off a few branches and stuffed them in an old Mason jar. And now my kitchen smells of spring in New England. And every time I walk past I stop and inhale.

The moment? It is fragrant.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Colorful memory...

Many years ago I had an elderly customer turned friend. Her name was Francis Burchett and she was a character. I was delighted to arrive at her house one day to find her front flower bed planted with a row of deep red geraniums, a center row of blaze orange marigolds and the front of the bed was resplendent in deep purple petunias. The color combo was so unusual and bright that it tickled my fancy.

I often do a planter or two (in this case funky old tin buckets I picked up at a yard sale) in a similar combination of plants and colors. The jewel tones remind me of Mrs. B and her larger than life personality. Soon the plants will grow and bloom in riotous shades that will rock both my retinas and my memory.

Spring full of life...

I picked up 4 new Partridge Rock chicks from the man I buy my poultry from. We met at a poultry show at the adorable Windsor Fair grounds. He handed me a small box full of feathers and I handed him $20. I got the better end of the bargain!

At home I put the chicks into a "brooder" I had fixed for them. It is really a large rabbit cage, with a heat lamp on one end, a special water dispenser and a chipped china bowl full of high protein food for baby chickens. They were very quiet the first day, napping under the warm light and looking out at the new view. Since that first day they have become more active; making little "cheep cheep" noises, sparring with each other and running about.

Meanwhile, the new Muscovy hen is laying an egg every morning at 6 AM sharp. We have 7 now and I am hoping she will set on them and hatch some little downy baby ducks. That would be cute overload for sure!

Spring at Fair Winds is full of life.