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.

Sunday, May 31, 2009


Look! My chicken coop is finally finished! My little barn no longer leans, has a new coat of paint and all the renovations necessary to provide comfortable and secure lodgings for my flock.

Here's a glimpse of the people doors into the coop, and my little office which sits atop the nesting boxes.

This is my view of the nesting boxes. There are six. The chickens can get in on the inside, and I can check for eggs from the outside via the sliding back panels.

Here's the chickens' view of the nest boxes.
The people doors straight ahead, the annex door to the left. Thanks to Nicci who came with her miter saw and built my doors. She also helped frame the interior. I was kind of baffled at the start, and she really helped me figure things out.

This is the view from the end of the chicken yard. I'm facing east. I'll add some shade cover when the chickens arrive.
The chicken door and chicken ramp.

Chicken's eye view from inside the chicken door.

It's taken waaaaaaay longer than I predicted to complete this project! There were many puzzles and challenges. And the fence panels really beat me up. My vocabulary became quite sailor-like during the fencing phase. There were chicken wire installation days when I was bleeding from nine of ten fingers. But it's done!

I'm thinking of writing a booked titled "Kay's Chicken Coop Diet and Workout Plan." I dropped a whole size since buying new Spring clothes at the end of April. I worked really long, hard days and didn't have time to hang out in the kitchen much.

The next challenge is acquiring my flock. I have two chicken dates this week. Raising from babies is easier in some ways. But I'm looking for chickens that are already laying. They are harder to find.
My gardens are mostly planted. I got to harvest my rhubarb!

I also pickled five jars of asparagus this week. I was overstocked!

My first snow peas are just setting on. So far, I've eaten all I've harvested on the way to the house. Maybe this week I'll have enough for an Oriental chicken salad.

In other garden news, this will not be a stellar fruit season in my yard. The cherry tree set about half as much fruit as last year, and I have exactly one peach. No apples on my new Granny Smith dwarf. I'll have lots of black currants and gooseberries, though. And the black raspberry vines are loaded!

Here's my pretty water lily. I had three blooms at once! Big accomplishment in my little pond!

This is the last of the peony blooms.

I hope you're all enjoying this pleasant Spring!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

At long last, sandal weather!

Can't believe I've been away from my blog this long! So much to do around here that I've barely been indoors since finishing my school year at Butler on May 5.

The chicken coop is progressing nicely. I took an extra week to reset my little barn on its foundation. So now I'm looking forward to being chicken-ready by Memorial Day instead of Mother's Day. The interior is near completion. Now I have to dig some post holes and set up the chicken yard.

I found all these four leaf clovers back by the chicken coop. I think I'll have me some lucky chickens.

Look! My first radish! I already ate it in a salad with some fresh-picked lettuce and asparagus.

Bibb lettuce is sooooo photogenic!

The potatoes are growing like crazy!

This beautiful visitor stopped by to admire my poppies.

And some new neighbors took up residence above my downspout. I think they are ambitious sparrows. They built their nest out of last years Siberian iris fronds.

Here's my first peony. It's the fanciest variey in my yard, and always the first to bloom.

My mud shoes sit by the back door, ready for action.

Looks like the weather is finally going to cooperate with us farmers. Dry days and weekend temps in the 80's! Yahooey! I hope to wear sandals to Mike and Steve's Indy 500 party on Sunday, and Leanne's big birthday bash that night. It will be great to take a break from digging and construction to hang out with my pals.

Friday, April 24, 2009

And we're off!

Spring is springing around Kay's Leaning Tree Farm! When nightly low temperatures are in the 50's, my planting season kicks into high gear. The 10 Day Forecast (thanks Weather Channel!) has the lowest low at 49. So I'll be outdoors (and dirty) every daylight moment for at least the next ten days.

This is what my mother wanted in her Easter basket this year. No marshmallow peeps. No chocolate bunnies. A pick axe. This one is sort of the "ladies model." It's called a Matlock and it's a little shorter and lighter than your average pick axe. I'm glad the doctors fixed her heart, and she's feeling invincible again.

Surprise! As I was planting my potato patch I found a survivor from last year's crop! Isn't he a beauty?! For winning the reward challenge, he'll be served alongside a BIG steak and some fresh-picked asparagus.

My first tulip! Welcome to the sea of yellow and white daffodils!

Fresh cut flowers decorate my bathroom. A sure sign that the long winter has passed.

Updates: The chicken coop is progressing. Thanks to Nicci, it now has doors! People doors, that is. I'm working on the chicken door. I've had to take a break from construction to work on my gardens. The potato patch is nearly complete. I've selected Yukon Gold, Red Pontiac and fingerlings for this year's crop. Last year my potato garden was underwater several times. I replanted twice, and finally picked a spot with better drainage. I decided to dig a drainage ditch from the old potato patch to the big drainage ditch by the street. I'm about 2/3 of the way there. This will let me utilize two boggish spots for vegetable gardens. Yes, my back is stiff. Lots of digging around here!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

From me and my friends at the farmers market. I didn't dye these eggs. They came in pink, blue green and brown.

Happy Easter from the frog I snuck up on.

And happy Easter from Daddy Cat. He hopes you managed to work in some sunbathing and a good roll.