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Archive for October, 2013

One of the very few successes in our garden this year was the soup beans.  Hubby weeded them thoroughly early-on, and the plants were well-established by the time we gave up on the garden and abandoned it to the thistles.  We planted seven rows, approximately 40 feet long (each), which, if i recall correctly, took a couple pounds of seed beans, altogether.  We planted three rows of Jacob’s Cattle heirloom beans, and two rows each of Light Red Kidney and Black Turtle.

 

black turtle beans

 

The Jacob’s Cattle and Red Kidney beans are listed with a fairly short growing season – 90 days, I think, while the Black Turtle beans indicated they needed 110 days.  It really showed.  When we harvested, the day after the first frost, the Black Turtle pods were still green and pliable; the other types had brittle, dried-up pods. 

 

I pulled the pods from the plants, and laid them out on a sheet on top of one of the freezers to dry, but apparently they were too bunched up, or had poor air flow, or something, as many of the pods got moldy. 

 

moldy black turtle bean pods

They should have been nice and pale gold, like the others…

 

nice black turtle bean pods

 

Now, I am shelling the beans, and I am finding the Black Turtle beans smaller than I expected, and many of the pods are poorly filled.  While there were lots of pods per plant, they just didn’t have time to fill out properly, so the yield is low.  It’s still worth shelling them out, but I don’t think I will plant them here again; that garden real estate could be better used by something that is appropriate to our growing season and climate.  I just had to try, though!

 

shelling the black turtle beans

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I took the day off work today, because I have some planting to do.  Not my usual trees and berry bushes, though; today, it’s bulbs.  Several hundred of them, as a matter of fact.

 

bulbs

When the brightly-colored fall bulb catalogs came a couple of months ago, I was entranced, as usual, with all the bright colors and pretty flowers.  I made up a wish list, and I had a lot of wishes!  I hemmed and hawed for a long time, since I thought maybe that money would be better spent on more practical things, like hedging trees to replace the ones that came down in last year’s storm.   When I added up all my wishes, though, it wasn’t really that expensive, and they had a really good sale on bulk orders, so I could actually afford to get most of what I wanted.   In the end, I decided that if I was that enticed by the catalog pictures, maybe beauty really did matter, too.

 

flower bulb catalogs

In the end, I ordered bulk quantities of a few types of bulb – mixed-color snow crocuses, primarily, but also a bunch of little purple muscari, some daffodils and lilies of the valley, a few English bluebells, and assortments of daylilies and irises.  Plus, a few other odds and ends, because…well, you know.   Of course, after I made my order, several friends decided to divide daylilies, someone dug up a bucket of lily bulbs to give away, and my mother in law showed up for a visit with a collection of plants, as well.  The acreage will be a riot of color next summer!

 

I can actually even justify what (in my mind) could be seen as a frivolous expense.  Bees and butterflies need to eat, too, and feeding the pollenators brings a net advantage to our garden.  I’ve ordered mostly spring bulbs, for now, but some of the new plants will flower all summer, and will feed birds, bees, and butterflies, all of which we are happy to have around here.  In the end, it didn’t take much justifying, and, of course, Hubby was happy enough to support the project, as long as it wouldn’t break the bank.  Five hundred bulbs makes for a lot of digging, though.

 

handful of bulbs

I am excited to see what comes up next spring!

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Blue-Legs was a bonus chick that arrived with our 2011 chicken order.  We had no idea what sort of chicken she might be until she started laying green eggs…that was quite a cool surprise!

 

Blue-Legs was such a character she got a name.  She was not one to stay in the coop or the chicken run.  She was constantly letting herself out of the various chicken enclosures, and she slept by herself on a barn rafter.  She laid her eggs in a cardboard box on a shelf in one corner, cleaned up the spilled cat food, and didn’t mess up the barn too much, so we just let her roam and eat bugs.  She managed to evade raccoons, skunks, and countless foxes.

 

Blue-Legs 1

 

Except for this time, we think.

 

With the new chickens routinely getting loose in the barn, Blue-Legs had taken to laying her eggs outside, and not even always coming in at night.  We saw her daily, pecking around up by the apple tree, or around the goat pen, so we weren’t worried about her; we just put a bit of food and water in her new ‘range’, thinking she would return to her normal routines once we sorted out which chicks would go in what pens, and get Blue-Legs’ area cleared out.
The other day, though, Blue Legs looked…wrong.   We chased her around a bit, trying to catch her; usually not too tough a task, but she was especially evasive.  I did finally get her up on my milking stand, and picked her up.  She had a deep, smelly gash under one wing, and when I tried to get in there a bit closer to see if it was infected, I discovered it was boiling with maggots.  The injury (or something) had also caused her to have bad diarrhea, and her vent was badly swollen and bleeding in spots when I tried to clean her up a bit.

 

In the end, we decided Blue-Legs was suffering, and that there was only one realistic quick fix for her.  We feel badly, and wish we’d have found her injuries earlier; we’ve successfully nursed another hen back from a fox attack, and Blue-Legs was tough; she would probably have pulled through.  A major down-side to free-range chickens…

 

Blue-Legs 2

Poor Blue-Legs.

 

 

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