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Friday, July 21, 2017

Stop Mowing Your Front Yard (Blog 349)

Where are these beautiful purple coneflowers in the picture below growing? Perhaps in a field or meadow somewhere?

Actually, they are growing in our front yard. A number of years ago, I decided to stop mowing  a small section of our front yard and "just let it go." The result has been a profusion of growth of wild plants whose seeds were present in the seed bank: purple coneflowers, daisy fleabane, Virginia creeper, ragweed, black-eyed susans, and many others.

My "overgrown yard" patch may look seedy to some, but I think it is beautiful and far better for the environment than those closely cropped fescue deserts presented as the norm.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Summer Locavore Meals (Blog 348)

One of the many great things about summer are all the great, simple locavore meals. The other day for lunch, Elaine and I had venison burgers (from a deer I had killed) with Cherokee purple tomatoes and onions from our garden.  Dessert was blackberry cobbler from blackberries that I had picked behind our house.

Tonight for dinner, the menu is eggs frittata (eggs courtesy of our Rhode Island Red hens) and blueberry cobbler.  The blueberries come from our land on Potts Mountain. These are true feasts that mean summer to us.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Our Heritage Rhode Island Reds (Blog 347)

Right now, Elaine and I have three groups of heritage Rhode Island Red chickens.  What we call the "Old Reds" are our Rooster Don and his three hens that are a little over two years old, the "Young Reds that are 16 months old with Al and his three hens, and the "Baby Reds" which live in the basement and consist of the hen Mary and her three chicks that are about a month old.

Soon, it will be time to move Mary and her little flock outside to one of the runs.  However, we have heard that older chickens will sometimes kill the chicks of other hens.  Mary used to be part of Al's flock, but she has been gone for a month, of course, and will not be greeted warmly, nor likely will her chicks.

We truly do not know what to do, but Mary and her chicks will soon be too big to stay in the basement enclosure, and they obviously need more outside time than what they have been receiving.  We will have to come up with an idea soon.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Surf and Turf: Mountain Style (Blog 346)

Today for lunch, Elaine and I had a locavore lunch of Surf and Turf, mountain style.  Our two entrees were venison burgers from a deer I had killed last year and rainbow trout, from fish that friend John Loope caught on our trip to the Smith River the day before.  Modesty compels me to admit that I had seven bites but failed to catch any of them, but that's another story for another day.

The locavore theme was made better by the fact that also on the menu were green beans from our daughter Sarah's garden. Tonight for dinner, our centerpiece will be wineberry cobbler, again from berries picked near our house.  So far we have gathered a little over five gallons of wild berries this summer, and the blackberries, the main focus of our picking, have not started to come in to any degree yet.



Saturday, June 24, 2017

Wild Raspberries Ripe in the Blue Ridge Mountains (Blog 345)

Elaine and I took off in the pick-up early this morning to our Potts Mountain land on the Virginia/West Virginia line. Our main mission was to gather wild black raspberries, which we did with a satisfying tally of seven quarts.

But just as enriching was our time in the mountains together, talking about life, grandchildren, interesting songbirds, and, of course, raspberries. We're having raspberry pie on Sunday, the rest we froze for the winter. Earlier this week, two quarts of raspberries were made into jam. It was a very good day together and a very good week picking raspberries with a total of  3 1/4 gallons.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Chicks Day Out (Blog 344)

Today, Elaine's and my heritage Rhode Island Red chicks are 12 days old, so we thought it was time to let them and their mother, Mary, outside from their basement enclosure for the first time.  Predictably, Mary was very agitated when I picked her up - and thus caused her to be away from her chicks for the first time - while Elaine gathered the chicks and put them into a brown box.

Soon, though, everyone was outside in the front yard, and the chicks were exposed to clover and other vegetation for the first time. Mary diligently showed them that clover is something good to eat and that fescue is not.

After about 20 minutes outside, it was time to return to the basement. After Elaine put the three chicks into the box, I noted that the chick I think is a cockerel, I've named him Don, Jr., after his father, was standing while the two chicks I believe are pullets had already settled down for the ride indoors.  As the weeks go by, it will be interesting to see if my guesses are right.


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Rhode Island Red Chicks Arrive (Blog 343)

Elaine and I thrilled to announce that one of our heritage Rhode Island Red hens, Mary, has hatched out three chicks, doing so on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Mother and offspring are doing well, and are living in our basement in a pen.

We learned from talking with other chicken rearers that Mary's fellow hens would likely kill her chicks, so we moved the hen and eggs into our basement on Sunday.  That proved to be a no time to spare relocation, as the eggs started hatching on Tuesday morning.

Unfortunately, Mary abandoned her six other eggs as she seemed consumed with rearing the three that had hatched.