Friday, May 27, 2011

Amaranth, what is that?

Today, I want to talk about Amaranth. My husband read about how easy it is and how very good for you it is, and now he is known, among a small amount of people, as the Amaranth king. I want him to write about it some time but he is working too hard right now, so I shall do my best.
Here is a pretty good article about it, Amaranth, a healthy grain .
Some plants from last year.
We have a lot of volunteers from this crop coming up this year.

I am looking up at it. It was over 6 feet.

I think this one was called Elephant head or love lies bleeding?
You can buy the flour in health food stores or it is in some of the better Gluten free foods. I had bought a lb of the seeds from our local food co-op and cooked it like I would rice and it is okay. Some of what Frank grew last year had black seeds. Now, those were REALLY good! In my opinion much better than the blond ones we got from the co-op. Frank like the blond ones better, I think.
I love the young leaves cooked. The whole plant is edible, but like lettuce and other greens they taste much better when the plants are smaller.
Here is another good article about the benefits of eating amaranth. Why Amaranth  If you are like me a wheat and gluten makes you sick, this is a GREAT food to try. Add some to your landscaping then collect the seeds in the fall.
I will have to look into feeding it to the chickens too!
As a side, our cat that got caught in the storm last night came in this morning no worse for wear, and the garden did fine. Praise God!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gardening, Chickens, & Strawberries

It was a beautiful day today and I spent a large part of it in the garden. I LOVE being in my garden even if I'm not being terribly productive in it. I also love volunteers. Volunteers, as in plants that reseeded and are coming up in odd places as little surprises for me. I have a tomato plant coming up in the middle of one my  lettuce patches, marigolds coming up everywhere, and bean plants that I have been digging up and replanting over by the fence. OH! and a left over potato!

Does it look like a rooster?
 We hopefully be able to tell who are roosters and who are hens soon! The pen is okay right now because they are not full size yet, but we need to thin the flock, the sooner the better.
Lettuce Mix!
 We had a thunderstorm soon after I planted my lettuce seeds and I was sure they were washed away, but thankfully they just washed together in a smaller space. So it is a little crowded, but I picked my first salad with some fresh picked strawberries today....YUM!
Mint my friend gave me last fall.
 My friend Michelle gave me a part of her mint last fall and said it will grow anywhere and will take over. So I planted it in a space between my driveway and my porch where I hope it does take over. I was sure it had died but it has popped up in three spots!
Yellow Jacket was snooping around.
 I hope it does not make a home in my strawberries!
 I hope this was not a queen looking for a place to build a nest. I wish now I had smashed it with a shovel. Frank and Thomas have been attacked by these mean things.

Bug-A-Boo picking strawberries, and my sign post waiting for a name.
Okay! So my wonderful hubby built me this really cool post over my garden where I could paint it and put a name on it. I was thinking of Serenity, I really like that but it also makes me think of the show by the same name. I enjoyed the show but its not what I think of in my garden. Selah is over used. Peace is too... well, plain. I was weeding to day and thought of The Garden of Weeden! I was told that was really cheesy, but that is what I do most of all in there. I also found out that it is the name of a popular marijuana game. Yikes! I don't want to give the wrong impression of what I am growing.  I am thinking of finding a part of a Bible verse about gardens.
So what do you think I should name it?
All but one went up when it was time for bed.
We are having a major thunder, lightning and hail storm right now. I am praying for my garden and my cat Scallywag who didn't come in before the storm hit. I last saw him running in a panic through the neighbors yard, away from us and safety!
Till next time! Be safe and dry. :-)

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Port-a-Coop!!!!!!

Drum roll please........ It's done! It took quite a bit longer than we thought it would, and we ran into some back-to-the-drawing-board moments, but it's DONE. Can you tell I'm excited?
The chicks took right to it and seem happy and at home. Or as Joel Salatin would say, the chickens were expressing their chickeness. They go crazy over wild strawberries! They are so much fun watch.
We may have to do some chicken training tonight to get them to go up the ramp into the house for the night. Not sure how that is going to go.
Plans for it will be available soon. Now I must go put in some tomato plants tonight as time is passing way too fast. It is already to late for the spinach and I will have to plant that in Aug.
The Last Screw!


Do I want to go down there?
Coming down the board walk. ;-)

Happy Chicks!

More braving the way down.

They like all the bugs and grass seeds.

Pretty Isn't it!

I will paint that last board soon.

Proud of a job well done!
Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rain, and Cooped up Chickens and People

It is has been 50 degrees and pouring rain today, so the chicken wire is not on the port-a-coop yet. So the poor chickens have been in the garage all day and the kids and I cooped up in the house. Sigh... I know rain is a blessing for our garden but I really don't like gray days.
I did just read a neat article about the benefits of keeping just a few chickens in your back yard. The lady writing the article really needs to build herself one of our nifty port-a-coops though!
Enjoy the article. It will make you want a small flock of chickens of your own.
 I also heard today that we may have to buy 50.00$ light bulbs! Yes, we may all have to embrace a simpler lifestyle soon.
Here is a thought I had. We used a normal incandescent light bulb in the heat lamp for the chicks. I also use the light bulb in the oven as a small heat source when making yogurt. What will we use when we are not allowed to buy those anymore?
Yes, gray day and no good news in the news. I hope the sun comes out tomorrow.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Chicken Tractor and Garden

                                                         What a great time of year!
We are busy getting our gardens in and the chicken tractor, through many bumps and fixes is almost done. It's a good thing too because the chicks are getting big and need their home soon.
We painted the Port-a-coop this morning. It was supposed to rain after lunch so we hurried, but of course the skies are clear now. The kids and I did a pretty rough job but it turned out pretty good. We need a little more paint to finish and a small can of hunter green for the trim. Over all I am pretty pleased so far. It is looking good and is not going to be an eye sore. Being in a neighborhood you want something nice looking. I know I don't like looking at junk , and all my neighbors keep really nice yards.

The great news is, the chicks should be in their new home before weeks end! I should get a new picture of them to post. They are looking more chicken than chick like now. We are pretty sure that 2 are roosters because Frank saw them fighting rooster style the other day. We will have to find a home for 4 of them soon anyway. If Rachel was not so attached, I would just try my hand at butchering the roosters.... yeah, not going to happen.

On the left is part of Frank's Amaranth field. The green in the boxes are our strawberries. Yum!
The 3 boxes in the back are our compost piles. The thing being built will be a shed  at some point.
Fence is going up around the garden.
I have so much work to do in the garden and the weeds are already ahead of me, it is a little overwhelming, but at the same time I am looking forward to the garden this year. It is such hard work but at the same time refreshing and relaxing. If you love gardening, you probably understand what I am saying.
Cool looking isn't it! Waiting for paint and chicken wire.


One can of paint gone! I will be painting the trim green. But first it is ready for the chicken wire !

This is what we used. We will have to get a small can to do some touch ups.

Yes, we all came in spotted. 

It will come off in the bath tub. It was worth it!
John is working on and making the changes we found we needed to make on the plans.  I have to get some pictures to him for that and they should be ready soon.
Since it is not raining I am going to go put some more seeds in the ground and enjoy this beautiful weather!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chicks, Grubs and 4-H

Our Port-a-coop is coming along.

Chicks enjoying some sunshine and fresh air.
I love the look of concentration on her face!

Plants and seeds for the younger kids 4-H gardens.
I worked some in the garden today making rows and finding grubs which I sent with Nate, who happily ran them up to the chicks who ate them up. We have had to make a few changes in the port-a-coop plans, but it is coming along slowly but surely.
The chicks are getting their feathers.
Rachel needs to find a home for four of the chicks soon because they are getting too big to share that small of a space for much longer and the port-a-coop is only for about 4 hens but we are going to try to get away with 5.
Abby and I went to the extension office today for the Master Gardener's plant exchange and also picked up the plants for the younger three's gardens they are doing for a 4-H project this summer.

I also picked up this wonderful little booklet Keeping Garden Chickens in North Carolina. This is the opening paragraph:
Chickens can be a colorful, beautiful, entertaining 
addition to your garden, and a few hens in your 
backyard can supply all the eggs your family needs, 
along with litter (manure mixed with bedding) that 
can be used as a source of organic fertilizer. Your hens 
will supplement their diet with bugs and grubs, and 
they can turn your garden and kitchen waste into tasty 
eggs. No wonder you are interested in raising chickens!
Be sure to check out your local Cooperative Extension office for lots of help and information for gardening, livestock and landscaping for your area. Not to mention, wonderful programs like 4-H and Master Gardening classes!
The school year is almost done and I am as ready as the kids for a break! I am ready for the real life hands on stuff that is so much easier to do in the warm weather. Book work is fine when it is cold out.
I am off to bed now. Tomorrow is the last big day of homeschool programs including the homeschool chorus singing at the courthouse for The National Day of Prayer. Then Friday its back to work on coop and garden!