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Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Peeper Party! ( peeper as in frogs..)

The Peeper party is an annual event which celebrates when the peepers start their peeping.  A great group of friends came over, a turkey was roasted in the outdoor oven, numerous pizzas where consumed, home brews far and wide were imbibed, and music was played till the wee hours of the night. The most profound observation of the evening was made by a friends 5 year old, who was explaining who Zeus and Zeke were to his cousin.
"Zeus is the mom and Zeke is the cat."
 (Zeke is my puppy, and Zeus is the Dad of the puppy. )
Overall, a great evening.

The first arrivals of the evening.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The First Green Harvest: Ramps

Ramps are amazing, fantastic beautiful little plants. Here they are the first green plant which pops up from the ground, so they are very easy to identify.  There is a little ramp patch here which I have been frequenting. A number of experiments have ensued, as ramps are quiet versatile. Winners include potato pancakes with ramps  and ramp pesto with sunflower seeds.  So far, ramp mayonnaise did not turn out well, however, I am continuing with my research.
Ramps! All over the place!

Getting ready to clean them.
Ramps are  very small, very flavorful wild leeks. There is a little outer layer on the white part of the stalk which can be peeled off.  Its very fun to clean ramps, and it always makes me feel connected to the past. I imagine there has been many, many people who have dug some ramps up in the spring,  and felt so grateful for the first taste of fresh food after winter.

Beautiful clean ramps in a bowl.

Pizza with ramp pesto, smoked gouda cheese, and roasted chicken.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Logging with Horses

One of the most beautiful aspects of gathering wood here is interacting with horses in a partnership to accomplish a task. Its very unusual to have the opportunity to work with an animal to accomplish something that you depend on for your survival and comfort ( that being providing heat.)
Walking the horses to the wagon

Going for a ride to the woodlot

Driving horses into the puckerbrush. Horses do less damage to the land then a truck

Split wood is loaded into the wagon. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Attack Rooster 2011

The chickens are a constant source of entertainment.  I would like to publicly state I always say "thank you" for the eggs, and "Good Morning Chickens" when I let them out. I count them, to make sure everyone is present. But, despite my best attempts to be a top notch chicken czar, I do fall short every now and then.

A few days ago, I decided  to go check on the hen house- the usual- get the eggs, check their feed, and water. Well, because all the chickens are broody ( meaning they are getting ready for hatching chicks),  the rooster is protecting his ladies. And the hen house apparently ain't big enough for the two of us- so I close the door when I go in there, so that the chickens and rooster doesn't come in and give me hell. But this time, I forgot to open the door back up and they couldn't get back into the hen house.

That night it started raining, and getting cold ( it was right before the last snow storm).  I went out to make sure that everyone was safe and sound in the hen house and to batten down the hatches for the snow storm.
Well- none of the chickens could get in because I hadn't opened the door back up!

"Oopsy daisy" I think. And open up the door. They'll all just jump right back in.

I wait, and wait.  The chickens are not coming inside...maybe they don't know the door is open.  I stick my hand through the door and make some silly noises and wave my hand around.
That didn't go well.

I try the flash light.

Hmmm- this might not go as easily as I planned. And I have to get them in because there is a snow storm coming.  I conference with  people knowledgeable in the mysteries of chickens.
Apparently,  the chickens will not go anywhere, or do anything when its dark. They just want to stay huddled in a chicken pile, and not make any changes, on account of not knowing what might be out there in the dark.
I will have to pick up the chickens and put them back into the hen house.

O.k- I put on some heavy duty gloves, and get my flash light, and enlist Zeus, master herds-dog, to assist with the process.  I open the door to the hen yard, and to general clucking and some wiggling around, but no scattering of chickens, which is encouraging. Zeus guards the door while I go into the battle zone.

I grab the first chicken.  There is much clucking and flapping, but I shove her right into hen house and she stays put.  I grab another and do the same. Then the third. Things are going better then I thought they would.
Then, attack rooster catches on. And he is mad. He starts clucking, and honking and yelling at me. Then, he jumps up!  He is launching a full on attack with the feet!  I have nothing to defend myself with accept a chicken! Then, instinct takes over- I can not condemn, nor condone the actions which follow, because they where purely instinctual.
In a moment of panic, I throw the chicken at the rooster. It stops him dead in his tracks. The chicken and rooster land in a confused heap on the ground. It give me time to get a few more chickens into the hen house- and the rooster is sufficiently dazed that he wonders around for long enough for me to prepare for the next attack. I see him getting all puffed up, ready to attack intruders again, and grab a buffer chicken. I just hold her out, between me and the rooster- it seems like enough to deter the rooster from a full on attack.
There is only a few left, plus the rooster. I decide to just go for it and grab him. I sneak up behind him while he is starting to get suspicious of Zeus. He doesn't even see me coming, because now, he's got Zeus pegged as another intruder. BANG! I grab him, and he squirms around, but I hold my ground and shove him right in the hen house. The last few chickens go in with out a problem.

I gather up my flashlight, and close them in for the night, and promise to Zeus that I will never, ever put him and myself  through this particular type of nonsense again- if I can help it.