Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Feather Person

Once upon a time, in a CAFO far away, I became aware of myself.

"What the heck am I doing here in this wretched place!?" I bemoaned my wretched existence: crammed in a warehouse with thousands of other birds, our beaks chopped off so we couldn't peck at each other. I knew there must be something better.

One day I saw a light at the end of the tunnel - actually a hole in the warehouse. I peaked out. Sky! Grass! Bugs! Without a thought or a look back, I high-tailed it out of there.

I wandered outside soaking in my new freedom. But I couldn't wander around outside forever: surely someone would find me and put me in solitary confinement - or worse! So I hitched a ride out of there and ended up in the nearest city, Minneapolis.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Why would I go to the big city? I heard rumors that chickens are treated pretty well in the city and I wanted to check it out for myself.

I was milling around outside a tavern, trying to figure out what my next move would be, when a tall farmer-looking man came up and caught me. He was pretty good I must admit. Must have some experience chicken wrangling.

I was deposited into a large crate with lots of straw, water, and food. I didn't really like this captivity, but I guess it was better than where I came from.

After a few days, things changed. My crate was moved and the door was opened so I could get out and scratch in the dirt. I was now inside a bigger cage.

The best part was that there were others of my kind, right on the other side of my fence! Okay, so they tried to peck at me and tell me who was boss, but I ignored them. It was nice just having them around.

I missed my freedom though, so I kept finding ways to get out. One night I escaped and was trying to get comfy in a window well before I was found - and returned to my cage.

One day there was a really loud sound that kind of scared me so I escaped and ran for it! I was found a few yards away - and returned.

A couple nights in a row I escaped (and boy escaping is getting harder - they keep putting up more fencing, with smaller holes!) and I was trying to settle down way up high on top of the wood pile. But I was found - and returned.

I understand these folks are now calling me Houdini. That's fine with me - no one can keep me caged in for long! I've escaped seven times, and I'm just going to keep doing it.

I think these people are getting it. I escaped again last night and this time they didn't come looking for me. They let me stay out all night - to sleep where I wanted and rise with the sun to peck at bugs and scratch and eat greens.

But you know, I kind of missed my chicken friends, and the easy access to food and water. So I went back. And now I'm back in my cage again.

I'm sure this is only temporary. Some day I'll find a place to call my own and live happily ever after.

(with apologies to May Sarton, who wrote The Fur Person)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A steamy update

Well folks, it is hot, hot, hot, hot, hot! And really humid! We're sitting at 96 degrees and nearly 60% humidity. It feels like 108 out there. It's times like this that I feel absolutely no guilt whatsoever that we have central air and are basking in mid-70s and no humidity.

Of course, it makes it really hard to take pictures outside (or go outside if you wear glasses) because everything steams up! In fact, all the windows in the downstairs have been steamed up since Sunday.

I wiped the camera lense off repeatedly, but I just couldn't get a clear (non-romantic-looking) picture!

These are six cucumber plants we planted on Sunday - the hottest day of this humigeddon so far.

I was actually quite impressed with how they looked yesterday, one day after transplanting. Even now some of them are managing to hold up. I guess cucumbers are hard to kill? We'll find out.

This is more of my effort to get most of our plants from neighbors/strangers who planted too much and have to thin out later. Thank you neighbors!

This poor gal is a little lost chicken that Jeremy found hanging near Matt's Bar (home of the original jucy lucy!). No one has claimed her yet so she's hanging out in a dog crate in the back yard. We've got to find someone to take her. She seems to be doing well despite the heat and humidity!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mushroom update

Mushroom innoculation season is finally over! Jeremy was delayed by a month or so with having to move his whole operation and build the new shade structure and all that. He decided to call it quits at the end of June, no matter where he was at. He got through almost all the logs and there wasn't too much leftover spawn. (Posts on that if he can get those bags to fruit...)

Somehow it's more enjoyable to innoculate while wearing down coats and gloves, than to be in our really hot garage in the summer. So hopefully innoculations don't go this long next year!

One big change Jeremy had to make was with his stacking method. You saw a little of his method in the last mushroom post. Turns out having your mushroom farm in a wetlands area is...wet! And too much moisture causes mold, which is bad. So he had to restack everything, getting the logs up higher and with more air circulation.

Amazingly, some of these logs - which were cut down 5 months ago and have been drilled with hundreds of holes - are sprouting leaves! I guess that means they're fresh.

These are the majority of the oyster logs. They're in bags now but will be removed from bags soon.

And here are the shiitake in the fruiting structure.

Aren't they beautiful?

(mirror image mushrooms - there isn't a mirror, one goes up, one goes down!)

Jeremy did some oyster mushrooms in drilled logs, and they are starting to come up.

He's put a lot of work into keeping the environment just right, and it must be working because he's picked a ton of mushrooms so far!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Loads of raspberries

Our raspberries are doing better this year than they've ever done. They've slowly been ripening and for the past week or so I've managed to find one or two to nibble on every time I leave the house.

We recently had some good rain and then lots of warm weather and the raspberries went to town. I prefer to eat them right off the plant or pick some to have on yogurt or ice cream. I don't like to pick a bunch and put them in the fridge. They just aren't good after that.

But we had a lot of raspberries! A pound and a half to be exact:

I picked everything that seemed ripe and it was an impressive haul (for just growing them in our yard anyway - we're not a u-pick!). These are different colors because we have black, red, and royal raspberries. We also have a variety called Korean Gold but it's just sending up shoots this year, not fruiting.

I dumped them all in that baking dish, sprinkled on a tiny amount of sugar (for the few that were perhaps not quite ripe enough yet), and plopped on some biscuit dough. And out came this lovely:

After cooling a bit, we walked it a couple blocks away and surprised some friends with a dinner-ruining raspberry cobbler and vanilla ice cream snack. They didn't complain one bit. =)

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Our cherry trees have done very well and we decided last week it was finally time to start picking. I picked a basketfull one day (as much as a pound, I'd say), pitted them, and froze them on a tray.

A day or two later, Jeremy went out with ladders and boxes. He doesn't mess around! I picked the cherries off the little tree while he got the big tree.

This is a little over 15 pounds of cherries! I was worried we'd have less cherries this year after having to cut down the other half of the tree. But we got 18-20 pounds last year so we're practically there now. And there are still more cherries to pick.

Jeremy and his intern spent hours pitting them, which meant cherry mess all over the floor,

all over the table (and everything on it),

and all over the walls and window!

I don't think any of this batch got frozen. Jeremy has been drying them in the dehydrator, so we'll have plenty till next year for cereals, scones, and other baking projects.