The Staff of Life

6 09 2013

My husband is a bread snob.
Being European, he claims he has a right to be. No joke.
Why am I telling you this?
I’ve taken to bartering with friends and colleagues, offering our fresh eggs. One of my colleagues is known for her sublime loaves of fresh bread, so I proposed a barter. I brought the still-warm-from-the-oven bread home. I sliced into this  perfectly round, nearly heme-spherical loaf. My husband was skeptical. He took a bite. And another. Then a declaration:
This might be the best bread I’ve had in America.

We had more bread for breakfast. Then an amendment to his declaration followed by a question:
This IS the best bread I’ve had in America. Can she teach you?

And so I was set on the path to learn to make bread. My colleague praised the book My Bread by Jim Lahey, so I picked up a copy. It’s filled with wonderful recipes, helpful photos, and heartwarming stories. It gave me a place to start, and maybe even a little confidence.

Here’s how it went: Read the rest of this entry »





A Veritable Rainbow!

13 08 2013

I’ve been a bit delinquent in posting about our backyard chickens!
It’s been 8 whole weeks since our first hen began laying and our hold-out hen started laying on the 4th of July.
We are getting 3-4 eggs a day at this point – enough that we’ve started bartering with friends for homemade bread, etc. It’s magical I tell you – having fresh eggs. This last weekend the variation in colors blew me away, it was practically a rainbow of eggs!

8.11.13 eggs





Egg update

24 06 2013

It’s been almost a week since our first hen began laying. We’ve had six beautiful blue eggs from her and yesterday our sliver laced wyandotte layed her first egg! I snapped a quick pic with the two laying hens and each of their first eggs.

6.23.13 eggs

The eggs are still a little on the small side, but I’ve already seen an increase in size from our ameraucana over the last week. It’s quite a delight to watch the hens settle into the nest to lay the eggs, adjusting the nesting material to suit their needs.

I’m a little surprised our buff orpington isn’t laying, as she’s the oldest in the flock by two weeks. She’s not showing any signs of laying anytime soon either. Maybe she’s just a bit of a late bloomer?





And then there were two!

20 06 2013

And this time she layed it in the nest box next to the blown glass eggs my grandmother gave me. My great-grandmother used them with her chickens in the 1920s and my grandmother saved them all this time. How cool is that?

secondegg 6.20.13





The first egg is here!

18 06 2013

And it’s beautifully blue! Now if only she can make it to the nest box next time…

6.18.13 first egg

Edited to add: a farm fresh brown egg for size comparison (below).

6.18.13 egg comparison





Summer is here (almost)!

17 06 2013

I know, the summer solstice on June 21st marks the official start of summer. My garden however, doesn’t know that distinction. Roses, peonies, and poppies are blooming; I’m harvesting radishes, lettuce, kale and spinach; and the corn, squash and beans are growing like weeds.  I’m happy to say that the seedlings I started in March are doing great!roses 6.15.13

corn 6.15.13

poppies 6.15.13






2013 Seedlings

22 03 2013

Last year I blogged about the dilemma ‘to seed, or not to seed‘ when planning for a summer vegetable garden. While I didn’t plant from seed last year (because of travel) this year I am. I feel more strongly than ever about knowing where my food comes from.

seedlings
This year I decided to try something from a post I’d recently seen on Pinterest. It suggested that paper towel and toilet paper tubes are perfect for starting seeds. And they are! They don’t cost anything, they can be planted directly in the ground, and using them avoids sending more material to the landfill.
The first step was saving our toilet paper and paper towel tubes for the last few months. Then when it was time to plant seeds I cut each of them down to ~2 inch segments and lined them up in glass baking dishes and filed them with dirt.

I began with the seeds that have the longest germination (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc) and cool season crops (celery, leeks, cauliflower, and the like).  The baking dish works great for watering: I add about a half an inch in the bottom of the dish and the little tubes take it up from the bottom. I cover the dish with another glass baking dish to create a greenhouse effect and place it in a south-facing window. Here’s how it looks:

Celery!

Once the seedlings start getting too tall for their ‘greenhouse’ I pull them out and place them in a separate baking dish without a cover. I’ve filled in the vacancies with successive plantings including lavender, marigolds, and fennel. Believe it or not, I’ve actually run out of tubes! I planted the cucumber seeds in a leftover plastic plant pot from last year’s seedlings. Some of the tubes are starting to unravel though; I’m hoping they’ll hold together until I can put them in the ground. We’ll see!

 








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