Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bruce's Film

Yes, he really is that loud!

This was taken on the day we brought Lorenzo and his harem home to Eastside Farm. I couldn't get over all of the posturing and vocal claiming of territory that was going on.

I can't help it! I just love my chickens!!!

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Tomato Love

Heaven, I'm in, actually, I am in Healdsburg and the tomatoes are RIPE!!! I picked these tonight, initially thinking that we would have a basket ready to sell tomorrow morning at the Windsor Farmers' Market. Can you tell that didn't happen?

I couldn't help it. I asked Farmer Jeff to bring home some basil and goat cheese so I could make a dinner of freshly picked and sweet summer squash, some of our market neighbor's incredible "Chinese Striped" garlic (Tom Noble's Armstrong Valley Farm), and these lovely little tomatoes.

Represented above are tomatoes with names like Matt's Wild Cherry, Yellow Marble, Mirabel, Sprite, Sweetie, Isis Candy, Green Grape and Red Fig. I love these names! I promise more pictures.

Okay, I have had folks requesting more recipes, so here you go. This is what we had for dinner tonight.

First Summer Tomato Spaghetti
Serves 2-3 (depending on whether or not you go for seconds!)

Salted boiling water
6 oz. dry spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup yellow onion, sliced
2 cups fresh summer squash, diced
*Squash blossoms can also be used along with the squash
2 tablespoons basil, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup tiny cherry tomatoes (or cut in half)
2 ounces goat cheese, soft kind

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt once it has boiled. *No need to add oil, just use a gallon of water per pound of pasta. Add the spaghetti and stir to separate the pasta.
2. In a large, COLD saute pan, add the oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Turn on the pan.
3. When the garlic starts to sizzle, add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring while onion is cooking.
4. Add the squash and stir. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
5. Add the white wine and stir until the wine is almost gone. Add the basil and cook another minute.
6. Check the "done-ness of the pasta. I bite a piece in half or break it in half and look at the center. If you see more than a dot of white (uncooked) then let it cook longer, about another minute. If you just see a dot, NOW ADD THE TOMATOES to the squash and gently stir to heat the tomatoes. *JUST HEAT the tomatoes.
7. Quickly drain the perfectly cooked pasta and add to the saute pan and stir. Add a little of the pasta cooking water, about 1/3 cup or as needed to keep it moist.
8. Divide the pasta into 3 servings (I know this is a strange number but this is how much I usually make so we can have a little more!) by first removing the pasta and putting onto the plate.
9. Next scoop out the squash and tomato mix onto the top of the pasta.
10. Break the goat cheese into little lumps/nuggets and then a good grind of fresh black pepper.


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Monday, June 16, 2008

New Kids in the Coop - The Video

Please help me in welcoming the new kids to the coop. Sorry about the picture quality. I love all of the crowing and posturing!

Friday, June 13, 2008

New Kids in the Coop

My sweet honey got up early this morning and found chickens on Craig's list. He has been extolling the virtues of getting up early and indeed, in this case, because of being one of the first people to contact the owner, we were able to secure the chickens.

I don't know if y'all remember our little Belgian Booted Bantam, Mille, that passed away last year...I told Farmer Jeff I wanted a little rooster of that variety and that is exactly what he found! I am a firm believer of stating what you want and, chances are good it will happen. Just takes making up your mind and then asking for it. (yes, I keep asking for money to arrive by mail...!) Not only was the owner offering the little rooster, also in the bargain were 3 hens. We now also have a full sized Light Brahma, now named Petunia (yes, Pork Pigs girlfriend's name), a Black Cochin already named Cassie, and a little golden Sebright now named Lacey. The Belgian Booted Bantam a.k.a., Belgian D'Uccle, was named Mr. Gucci, now given the first name of Lorenzo. He is one of the few individuals that pull off that name. He carries himself like a lion. The name suits him.

I set up a portable dog pen for the new kids and then sat out there to see how the resident chickens would handle it. I also threw in some newly trimmed grape vines both as a treat and a distraction. I think it worked...

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Chicken Walkabout

When Farmer Jeff said to me, "Be careful of what you dream, it could come true...", I froze in my tracks. Uh oh...what do you mean, I asked.

I looked in the same direction he was looking and my heart alternately jumped and sank. The chickens were out of the pen and wandering through the yard, and luckily, the dogs were locked up in the pen. WHEW. I didn't need another dead chicken or 10. Once I realized they were safe, I was REALLY happy!

Ever since we have had the chickens, I have wished that they could freely wander where ever they wished. With the dogs, that didn't seem like it would be possible. I happen to agree with my friend that said she never had pets on the same food chain. I kinda like that. Makes sense to me!

However, I do have dogs and chickens, so I follow the other adage, "Good fences ...keep chickens alive...". get what I mean!

We have actually let the chickens out 3 times now for several hours at a time. They have helped us by both weeding and fertilizing to garden. I just have to make sure they don't make it to the tomatoes!

I had to laugh. A couple of them started following me up the path towards the house, following just like the dogs!

Tyner, the hen with the scissor beak, is out of her baby bird food. (You might recall that for the last 2 years I daily feed Tyner a mash of baby bird food.) We ran out last night and I usually buy it in the town 1/2 hour south of us. With gas prices being what they are along with close to 100 degree heat today, I wasn't about to make that drive. I drove to the closest feed store and they had just run out. I drove to the town south of us and BOTH of the pet stores there have gone out of business! Sad to see that...

Once I realized that her special food was not going to be found, my ingenuity went to work. I went out to the coop, got a scoop of the regular feed pellets that she can't pick up in her beak, and ground it up in my coffee grinder! (Note to self: REALLY clean out the grinder before grinding coffee!)

I don't think she liked it quite as much as the gourmet stuff, but she did eat and I found a way to save some money. Works for me!

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Farewell, Sweet Prince

Rest in Peace, Napoleon. You will always hold a special place in our heart.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Figurehead

When I think of our chickens, the first one I think of is Napoleon Dynamite. He was in the first group of chickens we adopted close to 3 years ago. A little toughie, he picks fights with everyone he meets, well, other roosters. He has a growing harem with a devoted little hen, Josephine, that rarely leaves his side.

Tonight when I went in to collect eggs and lock up the chickens, I found Napoleon in one of the nesting boxes, his comb flopped over and a blueish pink, not the normal healthy red. His eyes were not the normal orange, but red and the skin around his eyes also red.

I have moved him to the infirmary, given him a little dropper-full of water, and some of Tyner's soft baby bird food. Before putting him in his protective cage for the night, I held him and told him that I would really like him to stay. I also told him I understood if it was his time to go.

Time will tell.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Summer Fun is upon us!

I guess Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer, but I think I tasted the real signal that summer is here, our first Tomato!!! Had I been thinking, I would have taken a picture of it first, but no, I popped it in my mouth and bit down. Squish...sweetness with a little acid. Yum...a fresh tomato! (It was a tiny yellow/gold cherry tomato, Mirabell. This picture is from Gary Ibsen's Tomato Fest site...thank you!)

I am still working on the CPC (certified producer's certificate) and seem to find more to add to it. When you are making your living, well, part of your living as a farmer, you look at everything in the garden and ask yourself, do I really need to have roses in my house or could I get a dollar for one? That goes for the mint, the lavender and grape leaves. Hey, you COULD make dolmas out of them, right?

Tonight was the official start of Farmer's Market in Healdsburg, but we just didn't have it together to go. We still have to find a car battery to use for powering our scale and I have to find a stand for our new umbrella. Sigh...

One of the very worthy organizations to which we belong, Sonoma County Farm Trails, was featured in the New York Times this past week. Check out the article:

Our little community is getting famous!

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