Sunday, August 31, 2014

OK - So I was waaayyy wrong!

It's time for Mark to eat a bit more crow along with his sweet corn. You will recall a month or so ago I claimed that while the rest of garden was doing OK, the sweet corn was going to be pretty much a "total loss".  Ummm....  oops.

I few days ago I showed you what turned out be about 4 dozen ears we were able to"'salvage" out of the two corn plots, with more to come.  Then there was yesterday:

Yes Ma'am, that's about 8 dozen more ears of "total loss" in the wheelbarrow along with the Stripetti spaghetti squash, yellow summer squash, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, and enough potatoes for Sunday lunch.  There's probably another 8 to 10 dozen out there yet that will need to come out in a few days.  It seems I was (once again) wrong in a spectacular fashion.

As we were working through getting it all in the freezer, I thought it might be worth noting that De has come up with a somewhat unique way of keeping the usually corn processing mess down a bit.  I don't know if it's original to her, but it works well and is worth sharing.

The whole thing starts the way it does for everyone else, I suppose.   After husking there is cleaning, blanching and cooling.  Our 'assembly line' probably looks much like yours.
Blanching, Cooling and Drying
The interesting part comes when getting the kernels off the cobs.  She has a circular 'corn cutter' to shave the kernels off, but uses an angel food cake pan as a sort of 'catch basin'.  It looks like this:

The ear is perched on the center post of the pan with the cutter over the ear

The cutter gets pushed down along the ear

The kernels end up (mostly) in the cake pan!

She sets her canning funnel in a quart freezer bag

In goes the corn!

Somewhat smaller kernels than usual means about 1 quart of yummy goodness in the freezer for every dozen ears.
For De, this method is quite a bit less messy and considerably quicker than cutting the corn onto a cutting board then scooping it into the bag.  I thought it worth sharing.

Either way, more unexpected blessings out of the garden!  Anyone have a good recipe for crow?

Col. 1:9-12,


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Eggs! And an innocent walk to the garden.

First six of the day
So the day has finally come!  Today we got eggs from more than 50% of our 13 hen laying flock.

We've been getting 3-4 brown eggs a day for a couple of weeks.  We're pretty sure the Red Stars were the first to lay.  We think one of the Buff Orpingtons is laying, and today we got 4 Easter Egger eggs and 5 brown eggs.  Six were found in four different laying boxes around noon by daughter #2, who delights in beating her Mom to the eggs.  Later one more EE egg was found in on the floor of the coop, another EE egg was found in a box, and a yet another was found under the Chicken Veranda. We have 3 EEs, so one is likely a day old or so.

One on the coop floor.

This brings up an interesting thing.  When we first talked about getting chickens, the deal was they would be mine to look after and take care of.  I've posted before that De has adopted the layers.  They are essentially hers now.  She knows it and, oddly enough, the birds know it.  The interesting thing is that K (daughter #2) is now getting in on the act.  She comes home on break from the Daycare Ministry where she works around noon, and rushes to the nesting boxes to collect the eggs.  If De doesn't beat her to it, she checks later in the day, too.  K says "It's like Christmas!" By the way, if an egg isn't nicely 'deviled', K doesn't eat it.  Odd...


As I said, the birds know who there primary 'owner' is.  We were giving the birds a supervised outing and several hopped up in De's lap to say 'Hi', expecting to be rewarded for their politeness with a little scratch.  The shop paper towel is there 'cause one of them did something decidedly impolite a little earlier.

Finally, while D and K were watching the girls,  I decided to go see if any of that sweet corn I was expecting to be a total loss was going to do anything at all.  It's clear I'm a poor judge of what constitutes a "total loss".

I think that's about 3 dozen ears.  There will be about that much more ready by Saturday, and probably another 5 - 6 dozen a few days after that.  Obviously, if you're in the garden you have to check the whole thing, thus the yellow squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers.  I didn't find any zucchini, but you know it's there.  The whole time I had an audible 'image' of the deep, maniacal chuckle of some hidden zucchini with aspirations of getting big enough to take on Zyla the dog and win 2 out of 3 rounds.

Anyway, once again we were blessed where we thought there would be nothing.  God is so faithful!  There will be plenty of sweet corn this year.  Oh, and eggs too.

Col. 1:9-14,


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Just Like Everyone Else

Here on the Hoosier Country Homestead we are busy doing pretty much what everyone else is doing.  Putting up the garden!  Our garden went in a little late this year so we're just getting into the thick of it now.  Here's a look:

De's usual garden basket didn't work for this picking!
Not so many of these, and there's always the one zucchini you find late!
The cucumbers, squash, and Zucchini are coming in right along.  Lots of blossoms still on the vines, so there will be plenty more.  Daughter K (Future Stepmom to the little girls in previous posts) says once the squash comes in we end up eating it "Morning, noon, and night.".  Yep, I'm ok with that.

The corn is not ready yet, but we will get some this year.  That is better than we thought a week or so ago.  There is however a problem:
Summer storms in Indiana can get a little blustery

Both gardens took some storm damage

We got a thunderstorm that had some pretty impressive wind gusts and as a result we have some corn down.  It's too early to tell if it's going to make it or not, but we do have ears and they are starting to fill out.  We may do ok either way.

This is where it all goes next!
De has been busy as beaver with the canning.  With what she'll do tonight, we'll have 108 pints of green beans in the pantry with the pole beans just getting a good start. As you can see tomatoes are coming in, but not a bumper crop this year.  We have more cabbage that will come in soon, beets are about ready, carrots and potatoes will come along later.

All in all, our garden in doing pretty well.  We work all spring and summer for harvest, so I'm going to be pretty slow in complaining about how busy we get when we are blessed with a good one.  Once again, we are blessed!

This weekend I'll be back with a 'chicken update'.  The ladies are eager to get out of the run when ever they can, and De and I try to let them out as often as we can. Makes for some good pics!

Col. 1:9-14,


Monday, August 11, 2014

Supervised Outing

De and I gave the chickens a bit of a supervised outing this evening.  I'd heard on a recent 'The Survival Podcast" episode that a good time to let them out for the first time was a short while before they went into the coop for the night.  I did this yesterday but was a bit late and most of them were already in for the night when I opened the gate to the run.  Tonight we opened the gate around 7:30 and they went in for the night around 9:00.  It was quite a good time for them and us!

Bugs were chased and caught, a number of the little bitty frogs we have so many of this year (does anyone else have these?) met an early demise, and a good part of yard was looked over.  Mostly though they hung around the outsite of the run and just acted like chickens.  Zyla the dog (who proved herself to be a bit less than completely trustworthy with the birds) and I made sure they didn't find their way into the garden.

First real "free-ranging" outside the run.
The whole thing made Fred the Rooster a little nervous and he spent part of his time herding hens back toward the run.

He was definitely watching our for his girls, who were clearly enjoying themselves.
It was supervised outing, with De and Zyla the dog (on the leash) sharing in the supervisory duties

Zyla did get one little nip at tailfeathers of one bird before there was a correction.  Overall she was pretty good considering the hens got right in her face.

De worked at getting some close-up pics of Fred.  The evening light really brought out his colors.

Electra "photo-bombed" one shot.

She finally got the shot!

Lessons Learned:
  • Evening is a good time for supervised outings.
  • Zyla the dog and Abby the cat will NOT get the keys to the Crooked House Layers Club.
  • Teaching the birds to come when called (at first using some scratch as a reward) makes it easy to have the birds out of the run and handle them well.
  • Fred has the early appearance of becoming a good roo for the flock.
  • They really are entertaining!
Col. 1:9-12,


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Hoosier Country Garden Tour

As I promised yesterday, here is a little photographic tour of the Hoosier Country Homestead Garden.

So just to preface this post, while I was out getting the pics after weed-wacking, a little mowing, a little weeding, and getting some DE on the plants that have bugs on them, the WHOLE time I was doing all that, this song I remember from the Captain Kangaroo kid's program in the 60's was running through my head.  A little Google work I confirmed the song title is "English Country Garden".  I kinda remember the "English Country Garden" on the program being much tidier than my garden and largely ornamental.  Odd how something like that pops up after 50 years, plus or minus.  Anyone else remember Captain Kangaroo in the 60s?  Here's version of the song, but I don't think it's the one from the show.

So on with the tour as promised:

Center: All the different peppers are doing great. Right:Green cabbage is in, purple cabbage will be done soon. Rear Right: Peas still producing.  Rear Left: Beets are a bit thin, but what we have is doing good.

Pole bean bed is loaded with blossoms and just now producing small beans.  We'll be picking soon.  The brown dust is a bit of DE I put on to try and knock some bugs.

Carrots are a bit untidy but growing well.  More peas behind that.  Beets in the rear of that row.

We haven't had good tomato weather and it shows.  We are still getting tomatoes, but not like last year.
Horseradish in the forefront. Green bush beans are doing great!
The potatoes look to be doing quite well.
Sweet corn is our 'problem child.  Nice tassels, a few silks, and about 4 feet tall.  Farmers market, here we come!
White pumpkins we hoped to use for decorating Daughter #2s wedding.  The plants look healthy but no fruit yet.

Zucchini, Yellow Squash, cucumbers, and cantaloupe with another stand of troubled corn.
Spaghetti squash, and butternut squash.  More pole beans between the squash and the corn.
Finally, here's Fred.  Fred is our Golden Polish cockerel working his way into rooster-hood.  I got a couple of good pics of him, but De got a video of him crowing.  He doesn't have a really big voice, but it makes me smile every time.  If you're interested you can hear him at:

Anyway,  that's the tour.  Oh yes!  Between the time I let the birds out this morning and when we got home from church, we got our second egg.  It was the size a store bought large egg, brown, and uniform in color.  De and I suspect we have two of the girls starting to do their thing now.

All good stuff, and I still feel honored to be the steward of it all.

Col. 1:9-12,


Saturday, August 9, 2014

And so it begins...!

I apologize to all for dropping off the face of the earth (or at least my blog) for a week.  I did manage to keep up with comments on all the blogs I follow, but have been shamefully reticent in getting posts on my own blog.  It seems life picked up the pace for a little bit and I was consumed keeping up with it all.

That being said, this morning we had a big first.  Or perhaps a smallish first, but a first nonetheless. 
We collected our first little egg from our flock of 13 pullets and one cockerel!   It was in one of the laying boxes right where it belonged.  We're not sure who presented us with this little gift but we're guessing one the Red Stars, and De is further guessing it was the one named Gemma.  All the Red Stars are named for real stars.  Gemma the star is a white main sequence star in Corona Borealis some 75 light years away.  (I know, yaaaawn!)  Gemma the chicken is one of four Red Stars in our 18 week old flock.  Her Red Star sisters are Aurora, Bellatrix, and Electra.  In any case, we knew it would be soon and sure enough, today was the day.

Then there is Esther.  Esther is one of our three Easter Eggers (her sisters are Dovey and Houdini) and the only white bird in the flock.  Esther came out the coop this morning and effective said "Please trim my flight feathers!"    She didn't use those words exactly but I'm pretty sure that was the message.  And how did our avian wordless wonder communicate such a thing?  Immediately upon upon exiting the coop, she flew straightaway six feet up to the top of the 'people gate' going into the run.  She did seem a bit disturbed to be there and only a small amount of castigation was required to get her back where she belonged,  but I still got the message.  I didn't get to it today, but tomorrow I'm going to get smart on trimming flight feathers and cut Esther's aspirations of soaring into the blue off at the wingtips.  Sorry Esther, but no chicken altitude records for you!

A quick garden update  (I'll get pics in tomorrow):  The green beans are going gang-busters,  the tomatoes are growing and slowing going from green to red, the zucchini and yellow summer squash are coming in, and the bell and banana peppers are starting to pile up.  Then there's the corn; 3-5' tall, and tasseling out.  There are few tiny, tiny ears with lots of silks but mostly nothin'.  Time for us to get to the Farmer's market, I suppose.

All in all though, far more good news than not-so-good so we're thrilled with the whole thing.  Take care all, I'll get those garden pics in tomorrow.

Col. 1:9-12,