Thursday, November 28, 2013

Its Popcorn!

I decided to grow corn in the garden this summer.  It seems that corn has a place in a proper crop rotation and I could use the husks for tamales.  I decided to try popcorn.  Today I finally tried it.
The variety I grew was supposed to be pink. The corn silk was pink but the kernels are definitely not pink.  They may have cross pollinated with the Bantam corn that I planted 2 weeks later but still overlapped a little in tasseling.
But it pops! And it tastes like popcorn!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Moving red raspberries

It feels like a never ending job, moving all these raspberries.  I am finally getting the red raspberries out of the garden.  On Saturday Alan scooped the sod off of a trench and loosened up the soil a bit using his new tractor, boy that thing is sure coming in handy.  Sunday I transplanted approximately 70 plants from the vegetable garden to their new home near the fall gold raspberries that I transplanted last spring.
The white is ashes from the woodstove.
The chickens had a great time helping me dig up the raspberries.  They have the run of the garden right now in hopes that they will greatly reduce the chigger population there.
The red raspberries did fairly well in their over-run patch where I could hardly reach half of the plants for harvesting.  I definitely like the red raspberries taste the best.  I hope they like their new location and extra care and give us a good crop next summer.  They will certainly be easier to harvest in their new location.  Only one problem though, I only removed about half of the plants from the garden.  Anyone want any red raspberry plants?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ewww, Stink bug poo

We, along with many in eastern PA, had a huge number of stink bugs this past year.  I have had to clean up quite a bit of stink bug poo inside the house.  But the siding on either side of the front door was the worst. 
Our siding is old aluminum which has been painted.  Warm water with detergent and a scrub brush wasn't enough; I needed to add a little bleach as well.  Even then, if you look closely, you can still see the marks.
But overall the porch, and while I was at it I washed the rest of the front of the house, looks so much better. Now I will feel better about putting up Christmas decorations.
We've been discussing what type/color of siding to put on the house. Is there a color called "Stink bug poo brown"?????

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sometimes good things don't come to those who wait

Way back in January I wrote this post about Thai Pumpkin Custard.  I tracked down the seeds and planted them in late spring, watched them grow throughout the summer and finally harvested the squash.  Next I had to find the recipe again, and yesterday I made the dish.

First, you have to clean out the pumpkin.  This went pretty much like cleaning out a jack o'lantern.
Then you mix up the filling of eggs, coconut milk, sugar, salt and vanilla. The hardest part of the whole process was configuring a steamer.
I learned a lot and if I make this again I would change quite a few things.  For example, the recipe says not to cover the pumpkin, and to now look in the pot for 55 minutes.  Well, 55 minutes is a long time to wait to find out that the top of the custard is now full of steam that has condensed and falled onto the top of the pumpkin.
Also, the picture in the magazine has beautiful white custard.  My chickens' yolks are so orange there is no way they would keep the custard white.
The taste was pretty good, just not sure if it worth the work. I think I would like to try the custard in cups baked in a water bath.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The old apple trees

Despite their lack of care this year, our two apples trees gave us close to a bushel of apples.  I pruned them drastically last March, but they need even more pruning.
Both trees have fallen way over and are being supported by their branches on the ground. These branches on the ground made it very difficult to keep the grass cut underneath the trees. And are probably a nice highway up the tree for insects as well.
The first tree, closest to the house, fell over in Sandy.  I am thinking of cutting and propping up as below in yellow.
The other tree, which started leaning many years before we moved here, has an even steeper lean. But the end result, I am hoping, could be the same.
This tree outperformed the other tree by at least 2:1 this year.  And we were happy with the taste of the apples so I think it is worth the effort to try to rejuvenate them. 

Fall clean-up

I have always loved fall.  But I don't love raking leaves.  One of my favorite tools around the yard this time of year is our trac-vac.  We bought it last year to help with the leaf clean up when we bought the new house. And it sure was useful.  I don't know if I could live here without it.
We cleaned up the entire yard in about 2 hours last weekend.  With rakes alone it would have taken all weekend, or at least all day.
The other great thing about the trac-vac is the processing it does.  It doesn't just suck up the leaves; it chops them up while cutting the grass and mixing in the grass clippings.  It makes the perfect combo of green to brown aka nitrogen to carbon needed for good compost.
We put the clippings in the garden last year and the chickens turned them into great compost and we are putting the girls to work again this year.

The chickens love to scratch around in the clipping/shredded leaves and their constant movement of the leaves helps to break them down nicely.  Get going girls!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Planning for a barn

One of the first projects for the new house is a barn.  We have had a cobbled together collection of temporary and portable structures for our animals and hay storage over the years so I am anxious to get a real barn.  Unfortunately, we can't afford to build what I really want:
I love old barns, but to replicate one is just not in the budget. So we will have to make a pole barn look as much like an old Pennsylvania German barn as possible.  I am hopeful that with the right basic structure I can get the new barn looking like it belongs on a Pa German farm. Adding older doors, big wrought hinges, old windows and aged hex signs should help.
Here are a few of the barns built by the company that came out this morning to look over the site and give us an estimate:
We will look at a couple other companies and, with cooperation from the weather, will have a barn by spring.