This is the first time, ever, that I have grown watermelon. Wow am I glad I did! This was truly the juiciest, sweetest, reddest watermelon I have ever had. I even started the seeds late about four to six weeks ago in this horrible heat. I purchased these seeds from Park Seed and I wish they were heirloom, but they are a hybrid. They are called "Charleston Jr. Hybrid". The Catalog says, " These small 12-16 lb. melons boast seedless red flesh, uniform light green flesh, and a flavor that combines the sweet and the crisp perfectly. Super high yeilds make this watermelon a favorite!" They are 100 % accurate on all counts, as you can see in this picture! In addition, there have been no pest or disease problems whatsoever. I will put these on my list for next years seed purchase. But I will also try to find a comparable heirloom replacement to grow. I believe it's vital that we promote raising vegetables, not just in the most natural ways possible, but also preserve varieties for our welfare of health and well-being. I am comforted by the thought of growing something, collecting it's seeds, passing them on to others and having generations of vegetables, year after year, that I have cultivated from one seed. No that's what I call sustainable living!
Me and Becca 'Oakley'
This big 'ole rat snake was trying to weasel its way into the coop last night when I came home from ballet class. Nobody messes with my girls! We are fine with the snakes staying around the lake, but the house and the barn area is strictly a no tresspassing situation. Violators will be shot!
(If this is your first time reading about "Catch and Release" go to the 8/15 Blog entry before reading this one.)
Ok. Ok. We're learning! Beavers aren't raccoons, opossums or any other furry creature that mills about the woods. They swim and eat fish. Have a special taste for willow and poplar trees and loathe the thought of the sound of running water. I guess it is their version of tenitis! Consequently, my chicken in the live animal trap was a little off point. There are only two ways to solve a beaver problem: 1) Take your gun and sit out all night hoping to get a glimpse of it, and of course, get your shot off before it high-tails out there, or 2) Hire somebody that actually knows how to trap beavers. Hmmm.....what to do. I think number 2!
I proceeded to call the person with the biggest ad in the yellow pages (assuming size matters!) and with that big ad came a big price! He wanted $269 just to walk on the property and "assess" the situation. No trapping, no nothing! It would be a couple hundred "at least" more than that to actually "do" the job. After a long pause, I spoke only 6 words,"Two hundred and sixty-nine dollars?!" I ended by telling him that I would have to discuss this with my husband when he got home from work, and after I resuscitate him that I would let you know. I would like to assume he did not expect me to call back. The gun, in the dark, with the bugs, and creepy crawlies, was looking better by the minute!
I called my neighbor, who always seems to have a "Jeopardiesk" type knowledge of all things outdoors. He proceeded to save the day, and connect us up with the right guy. So it seems we are on track to evict our furry squatters. It won't be for a few more weeks, so stay tuned. This ain't over yet!
The Silver Laced Wyandotte chicks are coming up on 2 months old. They are growing up beautiful, strong, healthy and happy. They are mega eaters, completely enjoying all the leftover vegetables from the garden. No doubt there will be some lovely breeding birds from this group. Can't wait to see how they all grow up. I love sitting in with them and having them use me as a "tree" to climb on. They are so curious and cute little butterballs. They make me very proud to see all my hard work and care pay off in their happiness! I highly recommend raising baby chicks. It's very rewarding. Kate
This is a gorgeous Black Wyandotte pullet, with one obvious problem, her beak is curled over to the right side. She will make a wonderful laying hen, but I will experiment hatching some of her eggs to see if this is a genetic issue that gets passed on or not. I call her Quizzical, because she always looks like she is questioning everything. Quizzy is very sweet to be around and makes funny nasal sort of noises when she talks. She doesn't seem to have had any issues eating or drinking, and as you can see, she is growing up strong and beautiful like her sisters.
Very exciting day for some of the new Wyandotte chicks. They have been "promoted" to the "Big Coop" with the laying flock. Five cockerels and one pullet. The boys were extremely confident with their peers, and have become instantly humbled in with the Big Girls! I'm sure their esteem will return over time, but not much gets past these girls. So for now, the motto is "safety in numbers." They stick together like war buddies. There are 9 left in the raising pens that seem to be developing into nice breeding birds. We pulled out these birds with some obvious faults that do not need to be used for breeding. The lucky pullet gets to stay and lay eggs with the rest of the big girls, but the cockerels will probably have a less glamorous ending, unless someone miraculously out grows their issues. In the raising pens, we still have 2 Black and 1 Blue Laced Red cockerels left in with 7 pullets that all look very nice up to this point. Being only 4 months old, they still have quite a bit of time to grow into their potential.
As you can plainly see, we did not get the beaver last night. You can also plainly see that we do have a beaver problem! This sweet little opossum had a wonderful, skinless, boneless chicken breast for dinner last night. Then he proceeded to try to eat his way out of the trap. In doing so, he got his skinny little nose jammed in the wire. After being stuck, no doubt, for hours, his little skinny nose was a bulbous mess - a big fat pudgy nose after having swollen up from being stuck. Consequently, he couldn't pull it back through. See picture below. David bravely stood guard as I headed back to the shed to get some wire cutters, gloves and another serving of chicken. I absolutely loved the thought of cutting into that brand new trap!!! We actually did minimal damage to the cage and the poor little critter was a little stunned by its freedom. We opened the door and it very slowly wondered back into the woods, to know doubt get made fun of by the other wild critters!
We have discovered, again and again, that what might seem like a simple task before you, is never simple (or cheap!). Our motto is always, "The job is never done, unless you have to do it at least twice!" I guess I should probably check somewhere official, to see if beavers even like chicken! Opossums do.
Stay tuned...the trap is reset!
I grew these adorable "Sweet Yellow Stuffing" peppers from seed. I will grow these again next year. They grew beautifully from being sown directly into the garden. The plants have produced hundreds of these sweet jewels with no disease or insect issues. The biggest challenge is keeping them picked! If you check the "Vegetable Gardening" Page you will see a couple of pictures of them in the garden, and see what I'm talking about! As for stuffing these "Stuffing" peppers, they are very small and feel more of an appetizer than a meal. They were delicious stuffed and we enjoyed just popping them in our mouths. Easily used in salads and for pickling. I purchased the seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom(see links). BC gets these seeds from an Amish grower, Esther Smucker. The seed was passed down to her from her Grandmother, who fondly remembers growing these peppers in the 1950's in Lancaster, PA. The catalog boasts that these plants are extremely productive. And oh boy, were they right!!
Becca sent in a picture she drew quite a while ago to Breyer Horse Magazine. It just came out in the July/August 2010 issue! Her picture is in the bottom left corner. Check out Bunny's new artwork on the Gallery page!
As I am moving through the garden, bed by bed, trying to catch up on things that I have neglected for the past month or so, I am definitely discovering that life does indeed go on without me! Well, the life of a pepper anyways! I planted a few different types of peppers, Bell, Banana and Sweet Yellow Stuffing. My personal experience with peppers have been awesome. I have had no battles with diseases or insects. The only problem I have is that I tend to plant too many plants and they overload me with fruit (always at a time when I don't have the time to deal with them!). This year has been particularly productive for the peppers. I believe it has to do with the horse manure filled beds. Well, this morning was devoted to dealing with the pepper bed, of course, after all the watering, weeding and caring for every other living thing on this property (and bussing Katie to her Drivers Ed classes all this week!) This is a first for me...I actually brought a lawn chair and sat it right next to a banana pepper plant, picked one and a half plants and came up with a full bucket! Only 20 more plants to go!
Today is very exciting for Katie! She just learned her beautiful little Carya has just had 3 little does! Mary forwarded this picture to her to share the great news! Carya is the doe Katie has been happily showing at shows this year. Carya is owned by Rusty Repp at Little Tots Estate. Way to go Carya!!!