ALL THE THINGS!

TODAY:

  • Dig out all the weeds growing in the lettuce bed.
  • Steam some green beans for Willem’s lunch.
  • Cut back the blackberries.
  • Pull ALL THE WEEDS.
  • Lay down plastic to KILL ALL FUTURE WEEDS.
  • Mow.
  • Buy winter rye for cover cropping (and a bunch of other seeds) from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
  • Update a website and track the produce from our last CSA of the summer.
  • Get some more work done on our family portrait.

Family.

  • Make rosemary-lavender simple syrup.
  • Go buy some fixings to make a pumpkin pie. I need some pumpkin pie like whoa.
  • Play with, feed, talk to, smile at, put down for naps, read to, and change the Willem.

This guy.

  • Take at least two showers.
  • Drink ice water, eat ice cream, watch the series finale of The Killing, and drink pumpkin beer in our underwear under the fan once all of the above is complete.

Also? It is stupid hot and humid out there. STUPID.

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USPS Just LOVES Us

Big day with a capital “B(ee)”! THE BEES HAVE ARRIVED!

Chris got a call at 5 am from the post office. I couldn’t hear the conversation, but I’m guessing it went something like this:

Chris: Hello?
Postal Worker: OMG, WE HAVE A PACKAGE FOR YOU.
Chris: Great! When can I come pick it up?
Postal Worker: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE COME GET IT NOW! WE ARE TERRIFIED!
Chris: Okay, great, I’ll be on my –
Postal Worker: SHUT UP ALREADY AND GET IN YOUR CAR, MAN!

20140505. The bees have arrived.

20140505. The bees have arrived.

*They actually had the bees sitting on a back loading dock because one of the employees is allergic to them. So he really did bust over there at 5 am – it was quite chilly out, and we didn’t want our bees to catch a cold.

In other news, the weekends always go way too fast. I love the weekends – it’s not that my days are all that different from one to the next, given that I’m largely caring for a little being every day, but on the weekends, Chris is home. And I love it when Chris is home.

A sneak peek into what my weekend entailed:
A sample of Sunday.

And here was my gardening buddy on Saturday. Willem was ridiculously happy in his little fort while I weeded the front beds.
Willem likes the outdoors.

Willem's first fort.

Merry Birthday Eve to All, and to All a Good Night!

Hey, y’all, it’s my birthday eve! My MO for birthdays is to get the heck out of town. Most of the drive for that is because I *hate* my birthday. I hate the planning, the party, the fear that NO ONE WILL SHOW, etc. Even if by “party,” I mean, “meeting people for drinks.” I’d just rather avoid the entire situation and all the uncomfortable, unwanted attention by hopping on a plane to Barcelona or jumping in a car bound for the whiskey distilleries of Kentucky.

So like I said: I normally loathe my birthday, but this year I’m weirdly excited about it. My co-worker asked me if I had anything fun planned, and when I listed out my plan (which I am very excited about and think sounds like the MOST fun), I realized how super-lame it might sound to others.

The Most Epic Birthday Plan of All Plans:

  • Morning bike ride with Chris down a new-to-us trail
  • Build a garden bed and plant my peppers, squash, and last tomato plants
  • Hopefully drink a delicious bevvie in the sunshine somewhere
  • Prezzies? Maybe I’ll get prezzies!
  • And maybe go see the new Star Trek movie. Or not! You know why? Because it’s MY BIRTHDAY, and I DO WHAT I WANT!

Whatever. This weekend, I march to the beat of my own lame birthday drum.

I got my early birthday present from Chris a few days ago (because, really, you can’t take my bike away from me for very long): bike upgrades out the yin-yang, as well as a much-needed tune-up. It feels like I’m riding a new bike, and I love it.

20130514. Early birthday present: major bike upgrades!

“Hey, girl, get out of the way so I can take a closer look at that SEXY BIKE, will ya?”

In other news, the garden continues to grow. We have a bit of a lettuce problem

20130517. We have a lettuce problem.

And a slug problem

20130517. Bitch-ass slug, eating on my artichokes.And sweet potatoes that need to get in the ground… Remember that time I worried that they wouldn’t sprout? Yeah…

201305117. Remember that time I worried the sweet potatoes wouldn't grow?

And front landscaping that I hope will turn into an edible wonderland of chard, beets, kale, and cabbage.

20130517. Front landscaping = future food.

Merry Birthday Eve to me! 33 was mostly pretty darn charmed, all things considered. 34 will be another good year, I think.

20130517. Birthday eve!

Pics or It Didn’t Happen…

The current state of affairs around these parts:

20130504. Garden hands.

I planted some more tomatoes – post-planting garden hands.

20130504. Salads always.

Lettuce cam!

20130504. Roughly 97 garlic cloves.

What 97 growing garlic cloves look like (I know… I counted).

20130504. Strawberries!

Overwintered strawberries.

20130504. Chris finishing up the hop trellis.

Finishing up the hop trellis.

20130504. Birdie and the birds.

Birdie and the birds.

20130504. My Little Red.

My littlest Little Red.

20130504. Garden face.

Glad for overcast skies and cool temperatures: flannel shirt weather.

The Weekend Is My FAVORITE…

First and foremost, let’s pause for a moment of silence in recognition of Birdie’s current state. Poor girl got a hot spot on her back and, within three days, has chewed it raw. Thus… THE CONE OF DOOM AND TERROR.

20130426. Birdie and her cone... My poor babe.

How in the HELL do you get a dog to not hate the vet?! I mean, really. Look at this indignity.

Ahem. Now that we’ve gotten past that, let’s talk about the weekend! I am so excited about the weekend and, true to form, have way, way, way too much stuff I want to do.

20130426. In addition to the weekend to do list here, we also have to HURRY UP AND RELAX.

The ones with the stars next to them are the things I REALLY, REALLY need to do this weekend. There are too many stars.

Tonight, we got a jump start on the bottling beer item on the to do list. Chris has gotten completely obsessed mildly interested in the fine art of homebrewing (I am not complaining, not really). A few weekends ago, we did our first full boil, and the brew is ready to go into bottles. Tomorrow morning, we’ll crack open the fermenting bucket and see if my worst fears have come true: the reality that we are, in fact, dirty slobs who can’t keep a bucket and various other tools clean for even, like, 30 minutes.

20130426. Prepping bottles for bottling.

We’ve been stocking up bottles.

If my worst fears HAVEN’T come true and our beer looks magical, we’ll learn all about bottling and capping beer. Wish us luck! Tonight, we removed labels and sanitized ’em in the dishwasher. Tomorrow, there will be beer a-flowin’.

20130426. We obviously have clear feelings about beer.

We are particular about our beer-y bevvies.

Last but certainly not least, even though the weekend is officially here now, I like to think it really started last night with the Indy Food Council’s organizing event. Maybe I’m a total dork to have been so jazzed about it, but it was inspiring to see so many people in one room, interested in looking for solutions to our (rampant) food-related problems. I got hugs from people I’d met only once before on farms and around town, recognized a lot of people, met even more for the first time, and felt generally warm and fuzzy and energized about the future in Indianapolis.

And! The 2013-2014 edition of the Indy Local Food Guide, which I helped on in a very small way, came out! So excited to see it.

As I talked with one girl, she said something I couldn’t agree with more: “It’s nice when things like this happen and you think, ‘Wow, Indianapolis really could be a progressive place to live.'” Can’t wait to see where this group goes, and I hope to be a part of it.

20130426. Indy Food Council and other reading materials for the weekend.

Spring: “Hello, Is It Me You’re Looking For?”

Why, yes, Spring. Yes, it was you I was looking for (for which I was looking? anyway…). Thanks for being all fashionably late and stuff.

True to weekend form, let’s just stick with a no-frills bullet point list of how Chris and I celebrated nicer weather today:

  • Attended an awesome urban backyard chickens workshop over at Fall Creek Gardens. Maggie, you crack me up (and make me feel like less of a crazy chicken lady, what with all we do to keep our chickens healthy and happy)!
  • Planted some of the kale in the outdoor beds. Looking at the forecast for next week, I think I’m going to get the rest of the kale and maybe the cabbage in the ground tomorrow, too.
  • Bought some propane, hooked up the new turkey fryer, and prepped the new giant brew kettle to make our first attempt ever at brewing our own beer tomorrow! (Note: Chris really did all of the above, but I’m super stoked to boil up our first batch tomorrow morning. The brew kettle is comically large and made me laugh out loud this morning when I walked into the kitchen, as it takes up our entire kitchen table. Pictures to follow!).
  • Planted a flat of sweet clover and started my own barley fodder trays to give the chickens some nice, fresh things to eat until we have the garden fence firmly in place. I’ll let you know how the barley trays works – it’s my first attempt at it, but it sounds ridiculously simple. Knowing me, I’ll find a way to jack it up.
  • Went to the grocery store to buy, among other things, ingredients to make another delicious egg casserole and Neufchatel cheese from scratch. It will be my first attempt at making such a cheese and only my second attempt at cheese-making ever.
  • Turned over a bunch of compost, uncovered glorious amounts of worms, and opened the compost bins up to the chickens. At one point, four of the five girls had jumped into the bin on the hunt for worms, pecking and scratching around. Help me process that compost, chickens!

So at this point in the garden, we have garlic, lettuce, kale, and a bunch of seeds, just waiting to germinate. Spring: the most wonderful time of the year.

WE HAVE LETTUCE.

“P” Is for Pictures, Pheasants, and Pickled Eggs

How about a lazy Saturday post? Anyone? Anyone?

First up: pictures. One of the neat things about starting our own garden a few years back was getting to know what plants look like when they are seedlings all the way up through adults. I mean, I knew what tomato plants looked like. But okra babies? Kale? Cauliflower? It’s a really fun surprise to see those seedlings push their ways up through the dirt, to get to know the different types by sight, and (eventually) be able to, at a glance, identify what you’ve got growing where.

Or, if you’re like me, you will NEVER be able to tell the difference between your cauliflowers and your cabbages. But whatever – that’s what ridiculous seedling map after map are for.

20130309. Green, green, green - lettuces waiting to go outside.

I’m waiting on some row cover fabric from Gardeners so I can move the peas, lettuce, and spinach outside – and make room under the grow lights for squash and other summer-loving seedlings. Come on, Gardeners!

20130309. Cacophony of green - cauliflower.

For now, though, the overwhelming green under the grow lights in the basement is making me very happy. These cauliflower seem pretty happy, too.

Next up: in other breaking news, Birdie destroys a new toy! What, you don’t think that’s news? All right, fair enough.

20130309. Birdie destroys her new pheasant.

Order of destruction: the wings didn’t last a half-hour. Then the rope legs got chewed off. Then the pheasant was decapitated. Finally, this morning, destruction was complete with the evisceration of what was left of the body. Mommy’s little chewer!

And finally, I took my first stab at pickling eggs. Note that I had never before eaten a pickled egg; the thought of a giant jar of pickled eggs, just sitting behind the counter of some dive bar, always grossed me out too much.

I followed Food Republic’s pickled egg recipe, and they turned out quite lovely! They are actually far more mild in flavor than I thought they would be, and I’m eager to try other recipes to see if I can actually get a more pickled-tasting egg.

While they may be understated in flavor, the color… OH, THE COLOR! I’m in love with them for their color alone. I’ve been slicing them up and scarfing them down on a bed of spinach with sliced strawberries and smoked almonds. Dressing not required. YUM.

20130303. Pickled eggs.

You Know, Just Your Typical Long Weekend

This weekend in no particular order, I have:

    • Planted the first seeds in our new growing setup. So far, we’ve got the first round of peas, spinach, lettuce, cauliflower, and artichokes planted.

20130121. The inauspicious beginnings of garden v.2013!

      • Ordered free seeds from this place: WinterSown. Free seeds? Too good to be true? I’ll let you know how it works out!
      • Signed up for a free, online course, “An Introduction to the U.S. Food System: Perspectives from Public Health.” It starts in two days, if anyone wants to join me!
      • Smeared Vaseline on a chicken’s comb for the first time. Nothing kinky here, I swear. Our Mediterranean sweetie, Boo, already has a touch of frostbite on one of her spikes, and this is supposed to help.
      • Set up possibly the KLASSIEST (yes, with a capital “K”) wind break ever. The wind chill is supposed to get down to -10 to -20 tonight, and with Boo’s frostbite, we are NOT PLAYING, winter. We also added a 60-watt bulb light fixture to the inside of the coop for a little warmth boost.
20130121. Wind chills of -10 to -20 call for extreme measures.

Paneling ripped off the walls of our office + lawn chairs = totally awesome chicken windbreak.

20130121. Wind chills of -10 to -20 call for extreme measures: a light in the coop to keep things warm(er)!

Did you know that your typical chicken produces 10W of heat? So this 60W bulb will almost double the chickens’ natural heat.

    • Created – and accidentally exploded – a sourdough starter bomb. Ignore the picture of the large Ball jar in that recipe, just ignore it. When they say to start it in a large bowl, LEAVE IT in the glass bowl while it sits and ferments. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT put it in the glass jar, covered with a tea towel screwed down with a jar ring. It will seal up, and you WILL shoot a flour-water mixture 20′ across the room and all over the ceiling when you finally cut a hole in your dead grandmother’s tea towel out of sheer desperation.
20130120. Post-sourdough starter bomb.

It looks so harmless, doesn’t it?

20130118. Oh, sourdough... how I've missed you.

The reason I had to create a new batch of sourdough starter, which you should really never have to do – I used it all up making two loaves of delicious bread. Really, though, sourdough starter should last you your whole life if you take care of it.

On Saturday, we made the brilliant decision to ignore our obligations and to do lists and instead took Birdie to Holliday Park, a most bizarre place just five minutes from our house. It was 50 degrees and wonderful out. Today, faced with snow and chicken waterers that just will not stay unfrozen, I am so glad we took some time to be outdoors together.
20130119. Warm January day at Holliday Park.

20130119. Warm January day at Holliday Park.

20130119. Warm January day at Holliday Park.

20130119. Bianca's Jacket.