Oh, Pollyanna!

The first couple of weeks of September were pretty darn wet in our neck of the woods. I think we recorded at least 6 inches of rain over a 9 day period so we are shaking our collective heads at the future of the fall planting. Dave wonders aloud whether the neighbors will be curious about all the new veggies they could see sprouting in their yards since he is assuming the recent heavy rains have sucked many of his dear seeds away and that they are now somewhere “down river”!

Once again, faced with weather circumstances beyond our control such as this, we are always thankful that unlike our distant relatives, we have a built-in resiliency to the adverse weather conditions. We do not starve nor suffer from a financial crisis when things don’t work out as we had hoped. The reality of having at least 3 groceries within a mile of us means that we don’t lack for other available food sources. That said, it is still discouraging to be thwarted by the weather but what can you do? We move on to the next pressing task.

What would Pollyanna do? (Younger readers may ask who is that? Here is a link to explain.) Despite the drowning of some plants or seeds, we try to keep in mind the plants that really love the water! For instance, the young orchard trees and blueberry plants are delighted with the extra water and our peppers are multiplying like crazy late in the season as today’s harvest suggests. IMG_0168.jpgThese peppers joined the others from recent picking so this afternoon while Coulter was napping I took all out of the fridge, washed up the lot of them and started the easy freezing process. ‘Easy’ since peppers are one of the only veggies that do not require blanching! Here they are drying off after their bath. IMG_0184.jpgFirst, I froze 3 quarts full of the whole jalapenos in freezer bags which is super easy so I can grab them out of the freezer one or two at a time as needed and reseal. I cored and sliced up the rest and I used my Vac ‘n Seal to make individual, serving sized pouches. Eighteen nice sized pouches were then signed, sealed and delivered to the basement freezer! Good news for winter pizzas and the like!IMG_0189.jpgThere is no stopping the herbs such as basil so we are making pesto right and left (yummy) as well as rooting whatever unused cuttings into into new plants.   IMG_0170.jpgIf elephant ears are any indication, this plant is happy as can be with the extra rain and I can only hope the scale of the hose reel behind is an indication of size! IMG_0171.jpgI’m also doing the needed research on our Chicago Fig tree which has lived happily potted on the terrace all summer. maxresdefaultIt out grew the first pot so it graduated to a larger one and produced one glorious, tasty fruit. I’m greedy and I want more next year but I found out that this cultivar is only safe in planting zone 7. (Yes, there is a portion of Missouri that is clearly zoned as 7a and 7b so that must be why Stark Brothers felt safe to sell these in state.) Our region has moved in recent years from 6 to then 6A and on to 6B which is approaching 7 but until this tree gets better established, I think I will do my best to protect it this winter.  I will re-pot to a larger container and put it safely  in a more temperate area of the barn to over winter. Here is the link to instructions for this from Stark Brothers if anyone is interested.

In the meantime, the chickens are now 12.5 weeks old and approaching their adult size. Everyone who stops in to see them is amazed by their growth which is hard for me to see on a day to day basis other than by noting their food intake (gobble, gobble!) and other behaviors that indicate their maturation. They have not been overly enthusiastic about their chicken swing so I decided to encourage a little usage by setting one of the Buff Orpingtons on the swing to see what they thought. Frankly, not a huge endorsement so far.IMG_4618.jpgI must admit, they are quite spoiled as the goodies from a recent visit to the nearby Tractor Supply Store in High Ridge, MO will attest! Pictured below are treats which I will distribute sparingly in the popular Chicken Ball (yellow orb) to fight coop boredom. Fill it with treats and let them peck away as the goodies fall out!IMG_4591.jpgHere is the treat ball, filled with Harvest Delight in action.

A couple of days later I introduced the Hot Cake treat on a chain which they found to be quite entertaining. I could only let them peck at this for about 15 minutes at a time and then would raise it out of their reach until next time using the handy carabiners on the chain. 

Also new to the coop is a product called PDZ that was highly recommended by other chicken owners and is sprinkled in the sand to help absorb the ammonia from the coop poop. PDZ is sold by a company called Manna Pro and is described in the literature as such: “Sweet PDZ is safe and gentle to use. It is an inert mineral, with unique chemistry that actually adsorbs moisture and selective gases, such as ammonia. Sweet PDZ (aka zeolite) is a naturally-occurring mineral created from volcanic activity, which captures, neutralizes and eliminates harmful ammonia and odors while absorbing more than half its weight in moisture.” It is touted in many of the chicken forums I read but the on line price (as well as crazy shipping cost for a 25lbs bag) kept me from purchasing until I found it locally at the Tractor Supply store for nearly half the cost. I’m still evaluating but so far so good.

Image result for PDZOkay, okay…I found some extra goodies at the Tractor Supply store…some construction vehicle boots for Coulter! IMG_4590.jpgHere he is evaluating them. And then trying them on for size.

He also spent some time with us at the local Kirkwood  Green Tree Festival last weekend. He wisely considered the consequences of getting too close at the petting zoo area which included goats, sheep, mini cows and even camels! IMG_0145.jpgHe liked the baby pigs a bit better, cautiously feeding them…perhaps more his size? IMG_0026.jpgHe may be most comfortable with his new rocking chair in his nursery at the farm. It has all his favorite planes and helicopters! IMG_0248.jpgMy very favorite recent moment of excitement was receiving my personalized copy (the author wrote a lovely note to me) of the recently published knitting book by the fabulous designer and knitting author, Janine Bajus, aka Feralknitter. I was one of Janine’s knitting students whom she chose to include in her new book about Fair Isle knitting entitled, The Joy of Color.  The book is amazing and I’m so flattered to have been included in this publication. I could have sworn that I posted the sweater I designed, knitted and wrote the pattern for several years ago as part of my Master Handknitting certificate program, but I don’t see it in the archives. Here is just one of the pics she included in a two page spread in her book. What would Pollyanna say about this?IMG_1727.jpg

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