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peeps and plants

Mateo and chick Mateo and chick Mateo and chick Mateo and chicks Mateo and baby chickIMG_0036IMG_0042IMG_0047IMG_0051IMG_0061IMG_0064

IMG_0113 IMG_0114 IMG_0122 IMG_0124 IMG_0126IMG_9924 IMG_9926 IMG_9930IMG_9237 IMG_9240All around me I see spring but when I step outside, the temperature says not quite yet.  Between temps dipping below 32 almost nightly and this fine cold rain that keeps coming for the past few days, I am feeling the pinch to get the garden in and all of our projects done on time.  Most of this happens in pockets of sunshine or at least no rain.

The potatoes are planted and baby greens seem happy out there but my tomatoes inside are looking a bit sad and leggy.  I have done some winter sown tomato and other seedlings outside so I know that they will come up when they are ready and I tell myself that when the time is right, the volunteer tomatoes will take over every inch that they find to grow outside and I will be going nuts trying to repot them all to use.  I ask myself why I feel the need to start tomatoes indoors knowing that this will happen but I guess its just something that I NEED to do?  I guess my reason is that I love tomatoes.  I love certain varieties and I am something of a control hog and need to feel like I am doing my part.

I have started 11 colors of nasturtiums this year and I can’t wait to see all their happy colors outside.  Perhaps planted around the chicken yard and tucked in anywhere that I can put them.  Their blooms and leaves will once again be part of our salads and this year I plan to finally get around to pickling their buds.  We will see.  I found an entire bag of these seed starter peat pellets in the hen house.  I am thinking they were a barter gift from someone last year and boy are they fiddly to work with but they are free and a good resource so we planted them full of nasturtiums.

We have ordered more chicks, because chicks.  We are adding more chicks to the hen house this year and waiting for the store to get the call from the post office that the baby ducks and last chicks have arrived…waiting.   When they are all here we should be at around 30 chickens and 6 ducks.  Buff Orpintons, Auracaunas, Ameracaunas, RIR’s, New Hampshire Reds, Isa Browns, Brahmas, Black Astralorps, Red and Black Sex Links and a gaggle of Indian Runner Ducks.

Mateo has become once again completely enamored with these little yellow fluff balls.  He tells me stories about them all the time.  This morning, he explained to me how they brush their teeth.  Last year, he was named “the chicken strangler” because we had to save quite a few baby chicks from his grasp.  We would even find chicks sticking their heads out of the windows of his vintage Fisher Price Little People airplane.  Poor chicks.  This year he has gotten the hang of it and anytime I don’t see him, he is usually down looking into the baby pool full of chicks.

So much going on around here and by late afternoon, I can count on him to fall asleep somewhere, usually his sheep skin.  People ask me what we do with all of our sheep skins after the babies don’t need them anymore.  My answer is we use them.  We all use them, all of the time.

I am hoping to get into the woods later today if the rain lets up.  The morels are coming up and I am hearing reports from friends nearby who have found some.  I hope to have the same luck and knowing that the window to find them is so short makes me excited and anxious for the weather to cooperate with me.  I am not so much into being wet and cold at the same time.

Love and spring wishes from me to you.


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chokes, sunchokes, jerusalem artichokes

jerusalem artichokes harvestIMG_9538IMG_9540IMG_9542IMG_9604IMG_9605IMG_9608 sunchoke tuber IMG_9753 IMG_9755washed and chopped jerusalem artichokes

jerusalem artichokes seasonedIMG_9765roasted sunchokes jerusalem artichokesGardening with my children has been one of the best things I have done with them.  Having a true understanding of where food comes from and what it takes for us to put it on the table is magical and magic is what childhood is all about.  With these warmer spring days upon us, we have been having such a nice time everyday doing a little work here and there.  Finding our work from last season or the season before that is like finding a ten dollar bill in the pocket of an old sweater.

This time it was a bed of jerusalem artichokes or sunchokes as we call them.  We planted them last summer and I meant to pull them up in late fall after a few frosts had hit them to make them sweeter but that never happened and truly, it completely slipped my mind all together.   That is, until Christopher comes running with a dried up plant stalk in one hand and a sunchoke in the other.  What a great surprise for him to find while weeding a bed.  This led into an hour of JP and Chris digging for sunchokes, pulling up one after another.  Some as big as a fist.

How I love seeing their faces light up when they gets to harvest anything.  I wish I could bottle the expression and excitement for this process.  It reminds me of the first time Chris helped dig potatoes.  He was probably 6 and pulling out a potato with his chubby little hands started him down the road of love.  Love of dirt and plants.  Love of planting and waiting.   He is always eager to help me with whatever I am doing out there and always learning and listening.   JP is my walking encyclopedia.  All I have to do is explain something to him once or give him the name of a plant snd he retains it for another time when the information will be helpful.  JP, Christopher and Ronnie are my favorite gardening buddies.  Ronnie is more business.  She and Erica like to get things done.  Just tell them what we need to do out there and they get moving.  These kids of mine, light up like fireflies when we talk and make plans and love farming and all that goes with it.  For me, it is even better than the harvest.  Seeing their enthusiasm and excitement, it keeps me going.

There has been a lot of talk around here (between them but spilling over to me) about expanding the garden and dare I say, growing and raising food for others.  Right now, its just talk and plans but I hear my little farmers and entrepeneurs making grander plans and I sit back and take a deep breath remembering that we are not in Florida.  We don’t have as big a circle here and very little community but all in due time.

This harvest was a bushel full.  We have roasted and boiled a few.  Replanted the smaller tubers and scrubbed up the rest to keep in the refrigerator.  Nutty and slightly sweet, very much like a potato but a little sweet and totally delicious.  The first harvest of this year, discovered by mistake.  A reminder of a warm summer day when we put those 4 little tubers in the ground and let the soil do its thing.  4 tubers turned into 60.  That is my kind of math!

Our favorite way to cook them so far is to boil in salted water for a few minutes and then toss in oil, thyme, salt and garlic and roast till crispy and the sugars have caramelized on the edges a bit.  So good!!  If you want an easy root veggie to plant, this is an unstoppable and pretty much takes care of itself with just a little watering here and there.

So now we wait to enjoy the beautiful sunflower looking blooms to come up and know that someday in the fall, we will be pulling up another bushel or two to enjoy and feed our family.  Unless that is, if I forget 🙂

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