Friday, August 7, 2009

Go Green! or Yellow, or Purple or Striped!

I'm talking about beans. No need to restrict yourself to only green beans any more! Here are a few of the varieties I've been picking from my garden. I cook them all together. The colors make for a lively side dish.

Left to right - Rattlesnake pole beans, yellow pole beans, Roma II bush beans, Dragon Tongue bush beans, Flat Italian pole beans, Brittle Wax bush beans, and Contender bush beans. The purple color cooks away, leaving a pretty green or yellow bean when served.

These are my Vermont Cranberry bush beans, a new variety for me. The flat pods have pink streaks and can be picked when tender and steamed fresh. I let these dry on the vine to use as soup beans. The first ones I picked were so pretty that I planted a couple more rows late in the season. They'll make a nice Fall treat.

I'm sure Melissa at Gluten Free for Good can tell you all about the nutritional value of beans. I'll settle for knowing they're good for me because I love eating fresh beans every day!

I picked my first ripe tomatoes a couple of weeks ago. They were running late this year. Since then, I've had to pick the cherry tomatoes every day. The yellow cluster tomatoes are called Yellow Perfection - and they live up to their name! I'll save seed for next year. Definitely a keeper! My favorite red tomato is called Red Star. They are small, flat, funny-looking and delicious. I ate them all before this photo was taken. Oops!

Although we made it through all of July without hitting 90 degrees, the okra decided to bear fruit anyway. They thrive in really hot weather. We'll hit the 90s this weekend for the opening of the Indiana State Fair, so I expect a lot more okra.

No post would be complete without a photo of my girls. These Buff Orpingtons decided to test drive their new roost, made from a branch from the honey locust tree. Seems to work just fine. My little chicks are getting so big! I expect the new flock of 24 to start laying any day now.

Construction is underway on 2 new chicken coops and runs. That's why I've been away from my blog for so long. I've been gathering materials, digging out stumps and clearing brush. Today I dug my first five (okay, 4 and a half) post holes. When it got too dark to work, I could barely lift a New Grist beer to my lips. I struggled through a whole one, though. Hope I can raise my arms tomorrow. Ten more post holes to dig.

My totally neglected flower gardens have done just fine while I've been busy with chickens and vegetables. Here's a pretty black-eyed Susan, one of MANY. They've spread like crazy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I'm Back!

Actually, I never left. I've been in the back yard, the front yard, the side yards, the chicken yard and the garage. Summer is always a busy time for me. After being gluten free for a year and a half, I feel great! Better than I have in recent history.

I've been tackling big projects and pulling them off. My latest conquest was the garage. I'd been meaning to have a garage sale every summer for the past 20 years. I'd been storing a lot of gluten-contaminated kitchen stuff and tons of catering equipment. Gone! Done! Leftovers donated! I can now park not only the minivan, but the John Deere, the snowblower and the push mower in convenient and secure spots. Yahooey!

I decided to check the progress of my root crops and dug up a few tasty morsels this evening. I LOVE my Dragon Carrots! They are purple on the outside and yellow or orange inside. The purple does not cook away! I also pulled a few white, yellow and orange carrots.

The potato bed was like a treasure chest, filled with fingerlings, Red Pontiacs and Yukon Golds.

The cukes and zukes are in high gear now. I've already made three batches of pickles. I've sauteed a couple of zucchini, but was still seriously overstocked. Thank heaven chickens like zucchini! I've been adding it to their breakfast fare.

Think they like it? Oh, yeah!

The Barred Rocks rule the roost.

The Brahma says, "I'm ready for my close-up." She has feathers on her feet. Sorry I didn't capture the pedicure in this photo.

Hope you're having a great summer!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

On the Brink of Abundance!

It finally feels like summer here at Kay's Leaning Tree Farm. We've had our first 90 degree day, and I've had two sunny pool days. Yahooey!

My six chickens have been enjoying a diet of carrots, clover, corn, strawberries, watermelon rind and grapes. I've been getting three eggs a day since I moved the 4H chickens into the coop annex. Yesterday was my first four-egg-day! That super jumbo egg in front is from my Black Australorpe. She's a keeper! A couple of her eggs have been double-yolkers.

I picked my first black currants this morning. They are kind of bitter and need lots of sugar or honey. I plan to make a syrup to add to smoothies. These babies are full of antioxidants.

The black raspberries are sweet and tasty right off the vine. A couple of handfuls didn't even make it to the house.

My first beans. My first cucumber. The last of the asparagus. My record for first beans is June 14. That was at least ten years ago. I would call this harvest "nice and early."

Look closely. That's a chipmunk waaaaaay up in the cherry tree. He was later chased to the ground by the bossy mama robin.

These lucky baby robins are growing up on a diet rich in cherries! I'm sure mama will be heading for the raspberry vines soon.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hey, we're famous!

A friend at bowling tonight told me NPR's Morning Edition did a segment on celiac disease this morning! I googled NPR, celiac disease, June 15 and found the transcript right away. Good info! Glad NPR is helping spread the word!

Friday, June 12, 2009

One step forward, two steps back

I've been missing for a while because I've been dealing with chicken health issues. Turns out I bought the first flock from someone who did not take good care of his chickens. I shamed him into taking the whole bunch back and giving me a refund. I'm relieved! It was an 80-mile round trip to return them. Lots of cleaning and sanitizing in my near future!

The second flock of six is doing just fine. They have separate quarters and yard. They are giving me three eggs every day. Except for putting up with waaaaaay too much rain (new record in Indianapolis,) they seem to be pretty happy. As soon as I clean out the chicken yard they will have more room to move around. That should make them even happier.

Here's what I'm harvesting this week:

The campanula and Asian lilies have popped open to decorate the yard.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Which came first?

In this case, the chickens. I brought 14 of them home Sunday afternoon. Breeds include Silver Laced Wyandotte, Aracana, Cochin, Buff Orpington, Rhode Island Red, Barred Rock, Plymouth Rock and one Turken. The turken loves me! The Cochin is HUGE and has feathers on her feet. The Buff Orpingtons are afraid of everything and sleep standing up with their heads under a wing.
My first egg! I'm thrilled about it because moving chickens causes them to stop laying for a few weeks. Maybe it was the bedtime snack of watermelon rind and apple peel. Maybe it's that I sang them a lullaby (Sweet Baby James, because I like the "goodnight moonlight ladies" line) when I tucked them in.

I bet they'll like it here. They came from a large chicken farm. They already love their grassy yard. Conditions were more crowded and less personal at their previous address.