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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Householding Update, 10 November 2013

We had an egg laid today.  This would be unremarkable save for the fact that we haven't had a egg laid since the middle of September when the girls started their molt. In fact, just yesterday we rigged something to keep the girls out of the nest box. Well, just one of the girls- Tommie. She stopped spending her days in the nest box when the days grew cooler, but she was still nesting at night in it, which means that she was fouling it.  Pretty badly, actually.  I was considering stewing her, but decided that it would probably make more sense to just figure out how to keep her out of the nest box.  She has no idea how close she came. 

At any rate, today while we were making the last of the new beds by the deck Steve noticed Her Ladyship (Buffy is definitely Gallina Numero Uno) moving sedately up the ramp.  We watched her for a few moments and wondered aloud if she were thinking about laying an egg.  Steve went over to the coop and put his ear down by the box and was able to hear her moving about.  Then we remembered that he'd removed all the soiled hay from the box and there was nothing to cushion an egg if there was one.  I ran to the garage for several handfuls of hay and then ran back to the coop and stuffed them into the box once she got up after we opened the door on her.  We went back to our chore and maybe fifteen minutes later we were rewarded with an I-just-laid-an-egg cackle and song. So yeah!! We're back in home grown eggs.  Since we don't believe in providing artificial light, we'll have to be happy with what we get- we're not eating eggs for breakfast- Steve has taken to eating canned chili for breakfast, and I'm eating oatmeal.  Eggs in the winter are ingredients for other things.

 Among other things we managed to get done this weekend was wrapping up the citrus.  I pruned them first- the lemon has a great many fruits on it, but I'm not holding my breath again.  The last time we had fruits on the lemon all they did was fall off the tree prematurely. The lime has one solitary lime on it the size of almost a lime, but it's one more lime than we got last year, so it was wrapped up with the tree.  When I planted them in their pots I drove a large stake through the center of the root ball along the stem.  I'll never tie the tree to it-- the stake is strictly for clamping a goodish length of Agribon around the tree to keep off the frost and freezes.  I kept them this way last winter and they fared very well.  The last thing we did was drag them as close to the house as we could to help keep them as warm as possible.

This is the last of the three beds that I wanted to create from the five beds that were here.  I needed more space between them so instead of five three-foot wide beds with a two-foot path between them, I have three odd-sized beds with three-foot paths between them.  I have to find soil to finish filling in the last bed, which I think I'm going to scavenge from other beds in the yard, one of which is the compost pile.  Those beds are going away anyway because I want to site the outdoor oven there.

 This is my winter bed for this year.  It's doing well so far.  I have my own kale variety at the far end.  I'm looking forward to the first frost to see how well it handles it.  Next to that is the red cabbage I started late this summer; then a row of Caracas carrots (I just love this variety) then I've a row of pak choi seedlings; then two rows of collards which are small but doing great; then in the corner you can't see are lettuce seedlings.  Between this bed and the frozen green beans I put up, we are pretty well set for veg this winter.  We'll see how well it lasts.   We've been doing pretty well lately for getting more of our meals from the yard.  Yesterday morning for breakfast we had zucchini/potato latkes, applesauce, and sausage for breakfast: the zucchini, garlic, and applesauce came from the yard.  Last night we had bean soup and corn bread: the dried beans, onions and garlic came from the yard- the hambone was leftover from last year's holiday ham from work.  This morning was leftover cornbread, applesauce and bacon; this evening was New England boiled dinner: the leek and carrots came from my yard, the cabbage from my neighbor's. I told Steve that starting this January, I want to keep detailed records of what we're eating so that I can get a sense of how many pounds of what types of things we're eating.  I just know that with concerted effort, I could be getting a larger percentage of food from the garden; I just have to get better at planning and staying on top of succession sowing, as well as harvesting.

And speaking of harvesting, to go with tonight's corned beef, I pulled a couple of small chunks of horseradish out of the ground and grated them up. I've read that horseradish is at its most potent straight out of the ground and that the longer it languishes in the refrigerator, the less sharp it will be. I think I can attest to its pungency, alright. After peeling it, I first grated it on the Japanese horseradish grater that I've had for years, but on which I've never grated horseradish.  It is the bomb for grating garlic and ginger, however, and that's what I've been using it for to date. I think its floundery little face is pretty cute, but it's too cute for putting much of a dent in a chunk of horseradish.  So I got out the box grater, and finally used a side of the box grater that so far has not seen a lot of action, as in any.  I've seriously never used that side of the grater before.  But now I know what it's for.  Grating horseradish is a lot like grating a particularly pungent onion, which is to say that it hurts. A lot.  But it's worth it. Once it was grated all I needed to do was add a pinch of salt and some white vinegar and the next thing you know I have a pungent condiment.  It is just as creamy as the commercial stuff and a lot hotter.  A lot hotter.

So that's what we've been up to, among other, not-so homesteady, householdy things.  What have you been up to?

1 comment:

clairz said...

We just had an egg surprise, too! Our little old Americauna lady, who we thought was done laying forever, produced a huge green egg a couple of days ago. I looked back over my egg records and couldn't find the last time she had laid anything, so it has been at least a year.

Some of our girls sleep in the nests, too. I really don't know why, since there are plenty of roosts, but they have the habit now and I doubt that we will change them. We just add the nesting mess to the compost.

You can see that we aren't very good chicken farmers. Retired egg layers just live on forever, and girls with dirty habits just keep on doing their thing. But, I must say--the scroungiest, moltiest hens are still laying. I've never seen anything like it!