Success

Though I don’t generally share food after it has been prepared, you often see the results of the garden harvest and canned for storage produce. The success with the three sisters’ garden this year was poor, better than last year, but definitely not successful. The corn part of the long bed was initially planted with Bloody Butcher dent corn on one end, a short season sweet corn on the other end, covered with a long run of welded wire fence several inches above the soil surface to keep the crows from eating more than their share. Since a dent corn field is planted to the east of us, I had hoped they would go for the easy meal. Very little of the corn germinated, so it was replanted and a third white dent corn added, and again, poor germination and the pumpkins never did come up until so late in the season that they had no chance to produce. We got a few, very few ears of sweet corn that was not very full and mature, and this is all of the dent corn that the patch produced.

Once dried on the stalk, shucked and placed in this window sill in the utility room to further dry, last night it was slated to be ground. Years ago, hubby gave me this grinder for a gift at my request.

Until last night, it has only been used to coarsely grind whole corn for chicken scratch and it gives the right arm quite a workout. I thought about taking my few ears of dent corn to the museum with me tomorrow and using the corn sheller, but instead stood over the hopper and hand shelled all but one ear of the corn I grew. Played with the grinder settings and got the grind finer, but not commercial meal fine.

And I cranked, took a break, did other chores, returned and cranked some more until all of the corn had been ground. To my amazement, it ended up being enough to fill two quart jars with a cup left to cook this morning.

Last night, that cup of hand ground corn was set to soak in water in the Instant Pot in preparations to cook it as grits this morning for Son 1’s and my breakfast. Knowing that it would take at least 90 minutes on the stove top, the presoaking and Instant Pot meant it would be ready in about 35-40 minutes instead, including the pressurizing, cooking, and depressurizing. Much to our delight, it made a very good addition to a couple of scrambled eggs from my hens.

We each had a bowlful of homegrown, hand ground, fresh grits with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and a good dollop of butter. Son 1 ate a second bowlful. The remaining two quarts of meal were put in the freezer to prevent them from turning rancid and more winter breakfasts of grits, and a few pans of cornbread will be enjoyed. So though I rarely show a finished meal, this one was homegrown (and enjoyed with a couple of slices of tomato purchased at the Farmer’s Market yesterday.)

Next year, more dent corn will be planted and hopefully produce more to grind. It is delicious.

The Ugly Pink Coat

Many years ago when I decided that there were to be chickens here, my wardrobe still reflected my prior life, living in a city and working in education. Yes, there were a couple pair of denim jeans, but outdoor wear was too nice to work in a dirty environment. Of course, retirement on a farm and not having to dress for a job every day changed some of that and pants became more functional than dress slacks, shirts of a fabric and style that were conducive to working in the garden and mucking out a coop, but outerwear did not really change, until the first winter that there were outdoor animals that needed care regardless of whether it was 2o degrees f or 90 degrees f.

As I was purchasing feed and bedding in Tractor Supply and the weather was beginning to take a turn for the cold, the huge center rack of the store was loaded with winter gear. For the most part, the clothing was camo. I don’t hunt, don’t want to be mistaken in the woods for a tree or a deer, so camo wouldn’t work for me. Almost year round, when I go out into the woods or walk the rural unpaved road, a blaze orange vest is part of my wardrobe. The non camo women’s options were very limited, the teal that I wanted was not available in my size, I didn’t want the Carhartt jumpsuit, so it ended up being the Ugly Pink Jacket. Now you need to understand, I don’t like pink, don’t wear pink, didn’t dress my daughter in pink, so for me to come home with a pink barn coat was a stretch, but it was cheaper than Carhartt, not camo, not a jump suit, but it was hooded and warm with lots of pockets for necessary tools (or to bring in freezing eggs).

The Ugly Pink Coat hangs on a hook in the utility room, right where it needs to be to go out to put on boots, gather feed, and deal with the feathered flock or do other chores that continue to be necessary year round. Most of the year, it just hangs there, but when it is needed, it is dragged out, zipped up, and keeps me warm. Last night, it got cold, today it stays cold, so for the first time this season, out came the Ugly Pink Coat. It looks like a few more days of use before it can be hung back on the hook for a while.

It is warm, it is faded, now at least a dozen years old, but though I am glad it is there, it is still UGLY!

It’s Done

The frost bitten garden was visited and cleaned up. Hidden in the burned foliage were a couple dozen more decent sized peppers that were brought in to use up quickly, or be sliced and frozen for later. The peas were left in place so the birds or other garden denizens can feast on the remaining small peas. The garlic bed was planted out with 36 cloves of garlic, hopefully to produce 36 decent sized bulbs to dry for next year’s use. This year as I didn’t plant garlic, all we have used was purchased from the vendors at the Farmer’s Market.

Once planted, it was covered in old hay, some erosion fencing, and two heavy garden posts as the chickens often get garden time in the winter and I don’t want them digging up the bed and garlic. The greenhouse will protect the greens, but the blueberry bed still needs a shield around it before the chickens can get in. If I can get a proper fence ring around the plum, there is enough erosion fence temporarily, but not effectively protecting it to protect the blueberries from the chickens digging out the mulch that has been used to thwart the weeds in that bed. The berry barrels still need to be moved. I haven’t attempted that task yet, but it will be easier now that I can take them through the long bed once the stakes are pulled. The overwintering of the stakes is always a problem. There is a galvanized can in the garage that leaks, perhaps it can be secured in a corner of the garden and the posts and stakes stood up in it until they are needed next year.

The chickens appear to be having pillow fights now. They have more feathers in the coop and on the ground than on their bodies. Molting hens sure aren’t pretty birds, but they will be so clean and fluffy when the new feathers grow out. They start with their heads and necks during molt and that really makes them unattractive.

Crafting this week has been very sporadic. Very little spinning has been done. Some knitting on a hemp spa cloth and on a gift, but little else.

With tomorrow’s day time temperature being very spring like, the hives will be opened one last time for the season, checked for brood, stores, and given sugar cakes. Some sugar was added a couple weeks ago when the orifice openings were reduced and the bottom boards added. With nights in the freezing range, they needed all the protection they could get. Whatever happens this winter, happens, I have done all I can. In the spring, I will take the beekeepers class, so hopefully I will go into next year better prepared.

I continue to go through “stuff” making donation piles, reducing files of no longer relevant paperwork, closing down parts of the cottage business as it dwindles away to non existence by the end of the year. Life needs to be simpler, and as I said before, we need people in our lives, not possessions.