Monday, June 23, 2014

Volunteers

John removed a bunch of brambles from one end of the shrub border a summer or two ago by scraping them off the face of the earth with the bucket of the tractor. Now a great clump of foxgloves has volunteered on the spot! There are a lot of foxgloves sprinkled around the hill, but I didn't realize they would lie dormant in the soil, awaiting their chance at conquest. This makes me want to go around experimentally scraping places here and there to see what happens. Sure, you might get yellow dock and pig-ear plantain, or you might get extravagant columns of pink and white bells!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Return of the Native

Almost ten years ago, the viburnum leaf beetle arrived in our orchard and ran through the highbush cranberry (Viburnum opulum var. americanum) like forest fire. For years we saw scarcely a leaf of it anywhere. But last year or the one before, little short bushes began to appear in our brush islands, and now look! The cranberries are flowering again! Planting for wildlife is one of my guiding principals in developing our place, so I am overjoyed.

In other red news, we learned this week that the chicken and duck flock on the next hill to the north was wiped out in its entirety by a bobcat, who was caught red-mustached on the neighbor’s gamecam. I suspect this is the individual who killed Enterprise.


And the latest tooth-and-claw update—the ducks went way too far from the house and were attacked in broad daylight by a very large raccoon, who was then killed on the road that night, no doubt leaving behind a litter of orphans. Brutish, nasty and short—an excellent summation. The ducks are confined to quarters, where they are nursing neck wounds and testing the new fencing for weaknesses.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Murder Most Fowl

Enterprise was dragged from her bed and murdered during the night. I don't know who the perpetrator was, but it must have been someone large and strong and gutsy, to walk right into a barn full of sheep and hissing geese and haul away a 20 pound turkey. I'm glad she jumped down out of the Hen Room on Easter Sunday and spent her last couple of weeks getting some sun and hanging around with other animals.

The sliding door to the Sheep Room no longer closes, and I am uneasy for the 3-Headed Goose that is sitting on the next nest over from where Enterprise was snatched. The geese are a lot louder and more violent than the gentle, docile turkey, but they are still essentially helpless against carnivores.

As you have probably guessed, John is going to Colorado tonight.


Friday, April 18, 2014

The Easter Turkey

Turkey eggs rock! They are big and speckled! They make great Easter eggs! And they will make enormous deviled eggs next week!

Enterprise, the turkey, has a hard time walking now, because she is an overbred White. Fortunately she has decided to turn things to her advantage by sitting on her eggs (but not until I got enough for the holiday). There is no male turkey, so there will be no poults, but it gives her something to do.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Beans Are Done

Those Salem Witch Trials hearth-baked beans? If you wanted them for supper tonight, you should have started them when you got home from the courthouse in 1692. Possibly if you grew them yourself it would take less time to cook them. In fact, growing them yourself and then cooking them in the fire might take less time than cooking store-bought beans there. Because OH my god. How old are these things anyway? My next experiment will involve pressure cooking these store-bought beans for about an hour at temperatures typically only available on the planet Mercury and THEN letting them spend 9 hours in the fire, getting all savory.

The other problem being that an unscrupulous person, and I use the term loosely, sold us unseasoned firewood in the middle of winter. So not unlike the cook fires of Salem in the late 17th century, this wood is bewitched and will not burn. Either that or it's that new fireproof safety wood from Monsanto.  In any event, the whole Sugaring On The Coronet plan is off until next year, when my woodshed will be in better order and my temper will have receded to its normal placid levels.


I am full of gratitude that my life and my family’s lives do not depend on this firewood and these beans. As my off the grid friends say, “Praise the fossil fuels.” Only I, you know, actually mean it. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Snow Day's Journey Into Night

K, so the whole earth oven workshop thing has probably run amok? But today, after reading part of a book called The Magic of Fire by William Rubel, lent to me by my far-ranging friend, Marilyn Anthony, of Lundale Farm, and being faced with our first Snow Day of the season, I decided to cook some beans in a casserole in the fireplace, a lรก Salem Witch Trials, and while I was at it, what the hay! Why not bake some bread as well? Now Rubel only includes flatbread and steamed Boston brown bread recipes in his book—teaching people to make sourdough and teaching them to cook on fire no doubt comprising too great an object for one hard-cover book—but since, like I said, I can already make dough, what the hay! And damned if it wasn’t just. so. good.

So I assume that, Salem Witch Trial-like, I have been possessed by some kind of Supernatural Item with an agenda about teaching me to cook with fire. Its purpose is not known to me, but I am enjoying the fruits of possession.


The beans, btw, are still in there. Maybe by breakfast, they’ll be cooked.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

First Fruits of the Ovenbuild, Or, The Coronet Rides Again


Here is my first wood-fired breadbeast. It was going to be a pizza but then the oven thermometer said HOT and the dough was ready, so even though it is not dinner time yet I said What The Heck, and here is my magnificent little friend.




It smells like this:

Yes. That good.