Thursday, September 29, 2011

Garden's end...

The garden is about done producing.  Tonight we harvested butternut squash, delicata squash, some red and green tomatoes, peppers and a few last yellow (summer) squash.  25 lbs. or so of home grown goodness. There are still a few pumpkins out there getting ready to come to the house.

  Blossum pug checked it all out.  Left to her own devices she'd gnaw those veggies to oblivion.  This is one of those dog that will eat any darn thing. 

Chris and I both enjoyed our big new garden so much this year. Every night after work we'd walk out there together and admire the mass of growth.  We have found the harvest to be delicious.  Already the plotting for next years plantings have begun!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On things that grow fast...

In mid-July, Belle, a Muscovy duck, presented me with my first ever ducklings.  They were the size of golf balls, a myriad of colors and just impossibly cute.  11 weeks later the girl ducklings are large and the boys ENORMOUS! Each of them is beautiful, sleek and fat and healthy looking. They eat so many bugs that my yard is virtually a no bug zone.  They also polish off 50 lb. bags of feed in no time. And poop?  A LOT.  Next year my lawn will be LUSH.  It is a bit difficult to believe that any animal can grow this big, so fast.

The ducks sleep at night in a tight flock, with the resident rabbit hanging out nearby.  During the day they roam the meadow snapping up flies, spiders and anything that moves. They take frequent breaks to splash in the blue kiddy pool, poke through the compost pile looking for treats, or follow me about the place, hoping I'll suddenly drop a scoop of duck food in their direction! 

In May I began with two ducks- one drake, one hen.  I added a second hen in June.  Now I have 22 ducks waddling about, perching on the picnic table, cadging for treats.  They are beauty and comedy in feathered packages.   I never knew I needed ducks, but am so glad to have them!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dead weeds and gratitude...

When I was a little kid my friends Emily and Melanie and I looked forward to fall each year.  We waited anxiously until the milkweed pods burst open, revealing the magical treasure they held inside.  We would race through the stands of weeds, arms outstretched.  The stalks would rattle as we passed, and the pods would release their seeds.  Each brown teardrop was suspended by an airy parachute. Freed by our small, churning forms they would float up on the air currents;  a million airborne fairies. 

Today I spent a happy hour opening pods and throwing handfuls of seeds into the impossibly blue sky.
I took photo after photo, trying to capture a seed or more dancing in air.  There was a lot of glee as I tossed and snapped. 

Recently someone posted about my photo album on Facebook that my life was "beautiful" and they wanted to live it.  Today as I took photos of dead weeds (dead weeds!)  I had this thought;  it is not that my life is more beautiful than the lives of others.  It is that I take time to document the lovely moments, and in so doing appreciate all that I have.  To me that is what makes it all worth while... the gratitude for all that is good in every.  Single.  Day. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Common Ground Fair...

We went to the Common Ground Fair in Unity.  The locals call it the "Granola Fair."  The entire thing is eye candy... bright colors, fascinating people, artistry abounds.

I admit to a wee bit of envy for this little splash of brightness... there was a lot of walking and it would have been a treat to be hauled about in a red wagon!

There were draft horses and mules, oxen and goat, poultry and rabbits and alpacas.  I enjoyed every bit of it, especially this fuzzy baby!

To think that little colt will grow up to be a huge muscular guy capable of plowing.  Amazing.   

Friday, September 23, 2011


Recently, when I bent to scoop some feed for the poultry from the deep galvanized can in the garage, the new light of dawn glinted off... something.  I paused, looked harder, and found the form of a wee rodent deep in the can.  This mouse had  jumped long- in blind faith, to dine on cracked corn. Then it was stuck.  And I found it.  I could have whacked it and ended its life.  But I didn't.  I laid a long stick into the can and watched the tiny creature scramble up and out.  FREE in my garage.  Free to eat more food destined for hens or sheep.  One look into those impossibly large eyes told me it was all good.  That mouse was doing just what I would do:  going for the gold, doing it's best for its family.  How could I deny such vision?
I hope it has a store of food to last it during the long, cold season ahead. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Tease is now 15 days old and, I have to say it... FAT.  She has the entire milk bar her mama provides all to herself, and she takes full advantage of it.  Her eyes have not opened yet, and she looks like a cross between a baby polar bear and a baked potato.  We all dote upon her and cannot wait to see what a fine dog she grows into. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

End of the harvest and future plans...

My sister and I picked a basket of garden goodies so heavy it was easier to share the load.
The lambs tried to run interception but we managed to make it to the house without incident,(they give a wicked hip check!)
The garden production is winding down... there are plenty of tomatoes and the pumpkins and winter squash are still growing, but everything else is looking weary.  I'm already pondering and planning about what I want to plant next year... before I'm even done putting all of this by!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I have a keen sense of the ridiculous.  During a recent visit to the Windsor Fair, the tell tale green of a can of "Bag Balm" caught my eye.  Then I noted the backdrop.  And it cracked me up.  I just had to share. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fruit of the harvest...

Using many tomatoes that we grew in our garden, and adding some we bought at the local farm stand, my sister and I gathered together what we needed to make tomato sauce to freeze for the coming winter. We had fresh herbs from our gardens, garlic and peppers we grew ourselves, and some zucchini we threw in, too.
It took an hour or so of cutting and chopping to fill up two 18 quart cookers. We let it all simmer while we went to the Windsor Fair. Then we stirred them up and let them cook more while we went for a swim. After things were mushy we pureed it all then poured the sauce back into the cookers. Next we added herbs, salt, pepper and other things. We let the sauce cook for hours while we prepared and ate lobster dinner. More stirring, more cooking while we cleaned up. Finally at bed time the sauce was thick and fragrant and delicious. We let it cool over night and this morning tucked 23 quart bags of the flavor of summer into the freezer. The memories we made will be stored somewhere else.

If you want to make this yourself, the recipe follows:
We used 18 quart cookers made by Oster/Sunbeam. They are under $30 at places like Target.
This is 1/2 recipe, which will fill 1 cooker.
1/2 bushel tomatoes, cored, not peeled, cut in half if large
2 hot peppers
2 sweet peppers
6 onions
1 head garlic
1/2 c. olive oil
Chunk up vegetables and put all ingredients into the cooker. Cook hot, (400) for several hours, stirring occasionally, until soft. Cool enough so you can handle, then put into food processor or blender in batches until smooth. Put sauce back into the cooker and add:
1/2 c. olive oil
1/8 c. oregano
basil to taste
1/2 c. sugar
4 sm. cans tomato paste
1/4 c salt
1/8 c pepper
(you an add more seasonings to taste)
Cool, ladle into freezer bags. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Flavor of the season...

Last fall I bought seed garlic. I planted it in autumns cold dark earth and piled the mulch on. I had always thought growing this savory bulb would be a treat. In the spring green shoots appeared and grew hip high. In late summer the foliage withered and I dug deep to pull up fat, fragrant bulbs. I dusted the dirt off and laid them out to dry. I've been cooking with them for the last few weeks, and the flavor is wonderful. This fall, I plan to plant MORE garlic!

Friday, September 2, 2011

A companion is born...

At 12:30 AM on 9/1, Flirt, my sweet toy poodle, pushed one very large puppy into the world.
She has never before given birth, but somehow knew to make a safe nest before hand and manage labor gracefully. She instinctively knew how to remove the pup from it's sac, nip the umbilical cord, and stash the placenta. She helped her new daughter to nuzzle up to the milk bar and polished her till she shone like a small warm pearl in the low light. She is a dedicated mother; I have to force her to go outside to take care of business, and deliver food and water to her by hand because she will not leave her new baby. I have to wonder, gazing on this vignette of maternal instinct, if there is some way to teach certain human mothers such devotion to their young?

A few days ago I spoke to a woman who told me she used to teach art to underprivileged inner city kids. One first day of class she heard a student say, "I am not going to listen to that bitch." She turned to the class and said, "Do you know what a bitch is? It is a female who will do anything to protect her young. You are right. I am a bitch. And I will be here not just to teach you but to protect you." My little Flirt? She's a bitch. 7 pounds of fierce protecting her singleton pup. It is beautiful to see.