Friday, June 25, 2010

Last Year's Tomatoes, This Year's Sauce

I have to admit, I never got around to canning last year's tomatoes. Oh, I had the best of intentions, but September's siren song of the last of summer's sun called me away. So I stuck the tomatoes in one gallon freezer bags to can in the late fall. Of course late fall means kids' activities and preparing for the holidays, so it just never got done. But all was not lost. Whenever I've wanted to cook up some tomato sauce, I just take a big baggie of tomatoes out of the freezer and pop them in a saucepan with some water. After they've cooked down for awhile, I fish out the skins and stems, add spices, some onions and garlic, and reduce it down to a yummy pasta or pizza sauce. The kids swear they've never tasted a better sauce, so you can't beat that! Sometimes laziness pays off.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mystery Chicken Death

A couple of days ago, one of our chickens went missing. Just gone from the coop. No tell-tale pile of feathers from a raccoon or raptor attack, just no chicken. Today she wandered back into the chicken pen in the middle of the day and promptly squawked twice loudly and fell over dead. I have no idea what was wrong with her, a mystery chicken death. I am wondering if she ate a mushroom of some sort since the recent massive rains have caused a large sprouting of many varieties of mushrooms in the woods and even in my raised garden boxes! We have had another chicken die like this a couple of years ago and I just don't have a clue.

RIP Bingo, this is a photo of her about three years ago, happily foraging through our leaf piles. She was a bit of a  mystery chicken from the get-go, she was supposed to be an Americauna chicken, but never developed the fluffy face feathers that our other Americaunas did. She had her own unique look to her, but was a very pretty girl. Here she is in her awkward teenage days, next to Saphire, our Blue Andalusian:

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Garden Updates

It's been hard to get much gardening in the last couple of weeks. The rains have been absolutely torrential, in the fullest sense of that word. We got more rain in the first four days of June than we usually get all  month (and June is not particularly dry here). The weather seemed to have a perverse ability to clear up when I had to be someplace away from the house, and just as I was thinking "at last, I can do some gardening when I get home", the dark clouds gathered and began to dump water from the sky.

Many of my plants are not doing well, especially melons, squash, and cucumbers. They're just not liking the combination of cold and wet when they're supposed to be growing. The snap peas on the other hand are ecstatic.

Still, in the couple of nice days we did manage to have, I got the whole front garden weeded out (weeds don't seem to care about less-than-ideal growing conditions) as you can see above, it actually resembles a garden plot now! To the left of the fence, you can barely make out the newly-fenced addition where I've got a double-row of corn planted.

Lucky for me, I didn't transplant out any of the tomatoes from the cold frames, because the tomatoes that are out in the open air look puny and unhappy. The ones in my cold frames look quite good, especially since they were grown from seed! They're having a happy time, and I'm not sure yet when or even if I'm going to transplant them out of there.