Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New members of the household

I didn't mean to get more chickens. Even after I was given 3 fertile eggs, I waited 3 days before I finally made the decision to incubate them. I promised myself if they hatched I would give them away. Then I met Lena and Bunnie, who are now 1 full day old. Look at those faces! Lena is the tiny black chick. Her mom is a barred rock, and her father is an ameraucana. Bunnie is the yellow and brown chick, with the very prominent muff under her chin! Both her mom and dad are ameraucana, and that muff is characteristic of the breed. The cuteness factor in these two is pretty high.

The other photo is a reminder of why to have chickens in the first place. Look at how tall fresh eggs made this oven puff pancake. (Like a giant popover cooked in one pan.) You can't help but want to keep a few chickens when you take this out of the oven, dust it with powdered sugar, and, after it deflates, pile strawberries on top.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Swarms, salads, sunshine

I had one of the most spectacular experiences yesterday.  There was a swarm of bees spinning and swirling over my marsh.  Thousands and thousands of bees.  I went and stood under them (they were flying at about 12 feet), listened to the hum, and watched as they swung one way and then the other, looking for a place to cluster.  They chose a cedar in my yard, and the queen called them all together at a branch about shoulder height.  I caught them in a cardboard box, and dumped them in an empty hive I assembled from parts that were currently unused.  Here is a photo of the new hive, just 24 hours after they moved in.  They are coming and going and working as though this always had been home.  And then there were three.  Is this the magic number for my home?  Three hens, three eggs a day, three bee hives, and three new chicks waiting to hatch on Monday if all goes well (that is another story).  Tonight's dinner will include beautiful, beautiful, beautiful lettuce from the garden.  Here it is being rinsed.  The sun is finally out, the weather feels like early summer, and all the sounds and smells have changed.  The seasons have turned.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Citrus blossoms and other things

Yes, for the first time I have tiny blossoms on both my tangerine tree (variety Juanita) and my orangequat (variety Nippon) bush!  These are plants that live outside full time, they are planted in the ground and do not come in for the winter, so this is a big deal.  The blossoms are tiny and hard to focus on, but the picture shows that I am not fibbing.  I am so very excited.  Can you imagine if I get to harvest two kinds of citrus from my Carteret County North Carolina yard next winter?  
Remember the baptisia that I showed emerging from the ground a few weeks ago?  Well now it is entering full bloom. The photo is poorly composed and does not do this beautiful plant justice, but you can see the blue tinted stems and the stalks of strong, purple flowers.  I was able to find the yellow baptisia I wanted, and planted it (variety Carolina Moonlight) yesterday.  There is just something about these plants that appeals to me.
Finally, here is one of the potato plants that had a very delayed emergence, but all are now out of the ground and growing like crazy.  We are entering the time of strong growth of all the vegetables.  Of course that is also the time of strong growth of the vegetable pests . . . 

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Summer veges planted

Finally, a break from the relentless wind and from the unseasonable cold.  I pulled up the last of the kale and fed it to the chickens, then planted more summer crops!  I put in tomatoes, hot peppers, 2 kinds of basil, and marigolds, all plants that I started myself under lights in the attic.  You also will see from the photo that the squash and beans have emerged.  I will thin both the beans and the squash to allow adequate space for roots to grow.  Saturday afternoon was a perfect time to plant, as it was followed by an evening of rain as well as a full day of clouds and rain.  This reduced the transplant shock, and should give these plants a boost.  The other photo is of the fava beans that are developing.  This one plant has a great crop, the other plants are very spotty as far as maturing pods.  I need to find out what determines fertilization of the fava flower, as all the plants were covered in flowers, but very weak as far as pods.  This week we got 3 eggs a day for 6 days, 2 eggs one day.  They are truly wonderful.  

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Look at this iris that opened today - apricot!  Like many of my plants, it was a gift from a friend whose iris bed needed thinning, and this is the first time I have seen it bloom.  I love the color.  The other flowering plant is actually my sage, gone to flower.  I remain amazed at how lovely herbs are when flowering.  
Remember the potatoes I thought had rotted?  Well, after a month in the ground, the first small potato leaves have emerged.  Also emerging this week:  beets, squash, and beans.  It remains to be seen if the beans and squash, plants that love warm weather, will hold up to the night temperatures in the 40s this week.  The critters also had a big week:  the bees are acting like they want to swarm, and the hens are laying three eggs a day, every day.  With the wind howling and the temperatures dropping, I imagine the bees will stick around till the end of the week. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Here they are: three eggs in one day, nestled in our nesting box!  I am out of town, so I missed it, but my wonderful husband sent this photo to me, so I could share it with you.  They are beautiful, aren't they?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Peas growing, early planting try

My sugar snap pea vines are starting to take off.  They have grabbed the twine and, despite the horrible winds over the last weeks, are holding on and starting to climb.  They likely will be the first fresh vegetable of spring from my garden.  You can see the late planted lettuces in the background, still small.  Hopefully they will grab hold and get growing soon, because our weather tends to go from cold to hot, with very little warm in between.  I want to harvest some salads before the lettuces bolt.  
This past weekend I made a timely planting of beets, carrots and onions.  I also pushed the season a bit, and went ahead and planted squash, pole beans, and a few flowers.  What's the worst that can happen?  If I lose a few seeds to the still too cool soil, I have more seeds left in those packets.  Oh, and I planted sweet potato slips in a front flower bed.  I hope the vines will take off and serve as a ground cover in case I don't get around to hauling in a truckload of mulch for the bed this spring.  If I get a few sweet potatoes out of it, well that would be a real treat.  The vines will be the backdrop for this amazing little azelea.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Two! Plus figs and potatoes

OK, I promise I won't beat this to death, but yesterday we got 2 eggs! That means both Lou and Pauline are laying. The most interesting part: Lou's eggs are a creamy tan with a semi-gloss finish, while Pauline's are darker, with more of a pink tint, and matte finish! Pauline's is on the bottom of the photo, Lou's on top. I swear I will not photograph every egg, but do expect one more entry: on the day when Hilda joins in and we first get three eggs at once. The other photo is from the young fig bush, already covered in figs. This is it's first full season, so I don't know if these will mature into an early crop, or if it will lose these and set a new crop for later. Finally, I am worried about my potatoes. They still have not emerged. There is a chance that soil was too heavy for what has been very cool and damp conditions, and they have rotted. I will give them a bit more time before I dig in there to see what has happened.