Sunday on the farm

My birdwatching friend identified the nest as a Carolina Wren. I’m not sure if she returned to the nest last night. When I went over to let the hens out this morning, feed them, and clean their coop, I didn’t see her, but her nest is at the other end of the garden from the coop area.

When I returned from that job, I grabbed my clippers and thick leather gloves to prune back an overgrown barberry bush before it leafs out. As I approached, I was scolded loudly by a bird I couldn’t see, and found this.

Ok, so not a stellar photo as I stuck one hand into the Barberry thorns to see if there were any eggs. It appears to be another Carolina Wren. Glad she chose a bush and not the ground or a shelf in the garage.

One of my first tasks each morning is feeding the sourdough starter. Today is day 5 of getting this one going and I could use it today, but there is still some bread in the freezer to use up first. Maybe I will start loaves tomorrow as it takes about 24 hours to go through the entire process. I quit making sourdough a while back because I was disturbed by the waste of discarding starter before feeding it and because I could buy sourdough bread locally at the Farmers’ Market and Natural food stores. Recently, I found an article that said the starter can be fed to chickens, which is a plus. When you make and feed the starter, you use equal amounts of flour and water. Every recipe I had ever found said to use 4 ounces or 125 grams of flour depending on whether they were measuring with cups or a scale. To do that you are tossing out about 1/2 cup of starter every time you feed it and it makes about 4 cups of starter which seemed too wasteful. You only use about 1 tablespoon of starter to get the leaven going. I found an article the other day that said to use only 25 grams of flour and water and feeding the chickens about 2 tablespoons of starter seems much less wasteful and it fits in a pint widemouth jar with lots of room to spare. Since two loaves of sourdough bread is plenty for a week for two of us, and since flour is hard to come by right now, this seemed ideal. I got the starter going with this plan.

This was before I fed it this morning and you can see there will be very little waste and the starter is strong and healthy. Tomorrow I will bake for the week. I still want to play with other uses for the sourdough such as pizza dough and focaccia bread. I need to get back in the routine of making the bread since going out to the Farmers’ Market to buy from the two bakers there is not in the cards right now.

Found this little butterfly stretching it’s wings in the sun on the deck. I couldn’t decide if it was damaged or still unfurling, but after a while, it flew away, so must have been unfurling.

The butterfly was followed by a Tufted titmouse sitting on my breakfast chair trying to crack open a sunflower seed.

So bear in the field yesterday, deer this morning, 2 Carolina Wren nests with eggs, and lots of colorful little songbirds enjoying the feeders. Love watching the wildlife on the farm.

These frothy white trees are blooming everywhere on our walk today. I thought they were wild cherries, but the bark doesn’t look right.

Her relative was mowing our grass again this morning. She stayed on her own farm. After the walk, some digging in the dirt was in order to weed the bed of iris, day lilies, and where the calendula was last year. Though I started calendula seed indoors, there are lots of volunteers in that spot already. And purple echinacea was started indoors too, there is room for them in the same bed.

What is that bright orb?

Oh my, the sun actually came out. I had forgotten what it was like.

This morning I sliced the loaf of bread that was made last night and it is delicious.

The hens are overwhelming me with eggs. I didn’t realize really how many eggs the produced in a week until I was trying to use them all myself. Not being able to go out and share them is eye opening. One of the gals seems to be having egg laying issues. Her eggs have been oddly elongated with a distinct “waist” and off center yolk. This started when she resumed laying from winter.

Her egg is upper left.

With the sun, I decided to try to get the lawn mowed before it rains again. I got a couple of smaller areas mowed and the riding mower broke the belt that drives the blades in the deck. Power Zone has ordered me a new belt, daughter will pick it up when it comes in and then the fun begins.

Today’s walk took me back out our rural road and up the hill above our house.

Blue sky finally.
You lookin’ at me? Leave me alone and let me eat. Go on now.
Blacksburg is right through that gap, can’t you see it?
Six spring calves hanging together while Mom’s are off somewhere.

It was a beautiful day even if the mower broke. Our daily outing was to take the overflowing garbage and recycling bins down to the “convenience center” and home for a thorough hand washing.

Staying busy in this trying time and making the best of my time and resources. Stay safe everyone and wash your hands.