Thursday, June 14, 2012

A tale of 3 peas

Back in the fall, my husband and I were discussing growing peas for the first time this spring.  I wanted snow or snap peas, so he suggested getting both.  He ALSO suggested getting shelling peas.
Snap peas
I immediately turned up my nose and refused: "I don't like shelling peas! I don't want to waste my precious garden space on them."

But, he was insistent on growing the shelling peas, so I begrudgingly offered to let him grow the shelling peas on the garden fence, thinking this way 'MY' peas would have the premium trellis locations that are safe from the deer.

And sure enough, the deer got to the shelling peas, severely limiting their production. But the little guys persevered and produced enough for 4 large helpings of shelled peas in the spring.

This is where I'd like to end the story, because I don't want to admit that my husband was right and I was wrong (he takes too much delight in it).  But, in all honesty -- I was wrong.

I LOVED the shelling peas -- they were absolutely fantastic!  And to shame myself even further: I didn't like the snap and snow peas very much.  My favorite peas of the three varieties we grew were the shelling, and I wish we'd grown nothing but the shelling because I enjoyed them so much.

These snow peas are part of my lunch -- they are just
sitting on my desk staring at me. I'm not very excited about
eating them.
You live, you learn.

We decided that this fall and next spring, we are only going to plant shelling peas.  I wonder how productive they will be without being half-eaten by the deer?

Here are the varieties we grew:
Mammoth Melting Sugar Snow --> Super productive, but not great tasting.
Sugar Ann Snap --> Pretty tasty, but not very productive.
Green Arrow Shelling  --> AWESOME tasting!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Chicken Chatter: A late bloomer

I never really gave much thought to chicken development. But apparently chickens, just like people, do things in their own time and at their own pace.  A while back I posted about our Jersey Black Giant, Johnny Cash, who for a long time had no prominent comb or wattles.  For contrast, Pebbles (our other Jersey Black Giant hen) had a nice large red comb and wattles -- seen in the picture below (bottom right).

Johnny Cash (left) had no comb or wattles for months. Pebbles
had a large red comb and wattle early in her development.
Ironically, even though she looked like she wasn't maturing, she was one of our first chickens to start laying eggs, and she is one of our most reliable layers.  She is also head hen -- a very graceful leader of the flock.  Then, rather randomly, at about 8 months of age, ONE of Johnny Cash's wattles developed.  For months, we called her the 'one wattle wonder'.
Johnny cash with one developed wattle.
Then over the last few weeks, Johnny Cash finally developed her second wattle, at the youthful age of 14 months.
'I'm ready for my close-up now.'
 I guess Johnny Cash is just a late bloomer.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Harvesting Garlic

Recently harvested garlic.
In the interest of full disclosure, I decided that in addition to a picture of a large impressive garlic (above), I should also show a rather pathetic, 'why did I bother planting this' garlic bulb (below).
Some garlic didn't live up to their potential.
Garlic with tops falling down.
I decided to harvest the garlic after their tops all fell down (you can see them starting to fall over in the above picture, which was taken a week ago).  I didn't get a just-prior-to-harvest shot, because by the time I got out to help harvest the garlic, my husband had already ripped them all out of the ground. Got to love his enthusiasm:
Garlic-less bed.
Below are some of the harvested garlic in a basket.
Another garlic picture!
We put a line across our shed porch, and hung the garlic across the line to dry.  Once they are dry, we will weigh them and prepare them for storage!  We're anxious to find out whether or not the garlic paid for themselves.
Garlic hanging out -- to dry.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Harvest Totals: May 2012

I'm pleased with our steady improvement in our garden every month.  This month, we harvested 23 lbs of produce and 87 eggs, for a rough value of $118.  The most exciting part of this month is that our Return on Investment is finally positive at $28! Our combined value of produce and eggs this year (based on local farmer's market prices) is almost $400. Our investment cost is based on the amount of money spent on seeds, potato seeds, plants, soil, electricity/water for seed starting, chicken feed, etc.  All garden-related expenses are added to the investment cost--ours was roughly $370 so far this year.

Our poundage went down from last month, but our estimated value grown increased because we were mostly harvesting collards last month, and this month we harvested a ton of snap and snow peas (which are more expensive than collards, here).

Friday, June 1, 2012

Chicken Chatter: Angel, the loud chicken

Before I got chickens, I never gave any thought to the noise that they made.  I knew that roosters crowed--but what noise did hens make?

As our young chicks matured into young hens, they lost the cute 'peep' and replaced it with their mature adult voices.  Most of our chickens make pleasant noises--small coos and clucks. Perhaps, the occasionally louder 'HEY!' at another chicken if they are upset.

But then, there is Angel.  I've already described how Angel is a flat out bizarre chicken with a lot of personality.  But one of her most defining characteristics is the way she vocalizes.

I'll be out in the garden, all will be quiet, and suddenly the peaceful scene is broken by a loud 'BAACCCHHHKK!!'.   Or at least, that is how I guess you might spell Angel's language.  She loves to make a lot of noise, and she really likes to talk to her human companions.  If she can't see me, she makes much less noise.  But if you're in view--she's going to let you know she's there!

I took this video of Angel talking. Enjoy!

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