Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bug on Bug Violence

My roses are under attack. They're getting nailed badly by aphids again this year. And thrips, leaf cutters and leaf hoppers too. They're in a bad way right now.

In years past, I've tried insecticidal soap and neem oil with unimpressive results. I feel like the insecticidal soap is ineffective, and that the neem oil fries my leaves and petals. But I can't just let the aphids win! What to do?

Well, here's what I'm trying this year, praying mantis.

I bought an egg case from a The Lily Pad in the Olympia Farmers Market last week. The lady who sold it to me said that the eggs "activate" at 75 degrees, then hatch about three weeks later. With the weather we've been having this year, I'll be lucky if these little fellas hatch by August.

The egg case

I figure that even if they aren't successful in laying waste to our garden pests, they should at least make interesting new snacks for the chickens. I'll let y'all know how they work out - if they ever hatch.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

For Ryan, with Love

I started this little snuggle blankie for my youngest nephew, Ryan, before he was born. And I finished it yesterday. Can you say easily distracted?

I admire the heck out of people who can quilt, but lord knows (and now you do too), that I'm not one of them. Geometry is not my forte, nor is patience, precision, or any level of creative perfectionism. Even still, after 8 months of pecking away at it, you'd think that I could manage a pretty slick little blankie, right?

Yeah... maybe not so much. I hope that it at least holds together for a while. I cobbled it together from leftover fabrics from Olivia's bedroom curtains, a pair of jeans that had been outgrown by my two girls and my niece, and an earth-friendly, anti-microbal bamboo-blend batting.

Clumsily executed or not, I hope that my little Ry-guy likes his blankie. Aunt Chelle loves you, buddy boy. :)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Buffalo Girl

I like to think of myself as a fairly adventurous cook. However, I have a frugal streak about a mile wide, and am somewhat hesitant to fork out my grocery money on ingredients that I'm not sure will fly with the family. So I was actually feeling rather bold when I purchased a pound of ground buffalo from Stewart's last week.

This venture was doubly bold, because besides being thrifty and proud of it, I have a dubious history with game meats. My Grandpa Hank was a very avid hunter and fisherman, and therefore my sister and I grew up eating tons of salmon, trout, catfish and venison, as prepared by my Grandma - broiled/fried to death and covered in salt and pepper. So all of these years, I'd thought that I didn't like venison or any game meats, when in truth, I just didn't like the way that Grandma had "fixed them".

Anyway, back to my point here - I went out of my food comfort zone and bought some buffalo, and made up a batch of my famous-ish spaghetti.

Chelle's Pasketti Sauce

1/2 onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot peeled and diced
3 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 lb ground buffalo
1 jar pasta sauce (I use homemade when I have it)
1/4 cup red wine
1 tsp Worstershire sauce
Olive oil
Salt, pepper, marjoram & oregano to taste

Sweat your diced veggies and spices in olive oil over medium low heat until softened and translucent. Add buffalo and cook until well browned. Drain fat, if necessary (it probably won't be). Add pasta sauce, red wine and worstershire and simmer at least 30 minutes. Taste and adjust spices to your liking.

I usually cook my pasta as the sauce is finishing and add the al dente pasta directly to the simmering sauce to give the noodles a chance to absorb some of the sauce itself. If you find that your sauce is a touch too thick, adding a bit of the starchy pasta water will help loosen the sauce.

Neither my husband or daughters were any the wiser for the buffalo switch-out. Even better, when I told them that they were actually eating bison they weren't freaked out by it like I had worried that they might be. I think that we are officially buffalo converts!

Besides that fact that it tastes exactly the same (at least the ground buffalo does) as ground beef, bison has a ton of health benefits over beef, or even chicken, for that matter. According to an article in my Hobby Farm Home magazine, bison meat-

*is lower in cholesterol and fat than beef, pork, chicken or fish!
*is lower in fat than other meats. It contains 1/4 of the fat of beef, 1/3 of the fat of chicken and 1/2 the fat of turkey.
*is higher in protein than salmon, trout, halibut & swordfish
*contains 7 times more iron than salmon.

Seriously, eating red meat without making your arteries cry = awesome.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Adventures with Poo

Poor little Rocky had a wicked case of pasted vent this morning. Pasted vent a.k.a. clogged butt, is a very serious and frequently deadly condition in chicks. If the babies can't pass poo, they continue to feel "full" and won't eat or drink, usually resulting in death in a day or two. Luckily, we seem to have caught this in time. This is Rocky's latest trial, preceded by his trouble hatching and his having dried membrane stuck to his feathers which made it harder for him to walk well for the better part of his first day here on earth.

Rocky, in the foreground, on the day the he hatched, with Ruthie.

Much to Rocky's dismay, I had to trim his bum-bum feathers and tidy things up with a q-tip. The indignity of it all has him rather traumatized at the moment, and he is now passed out in a corner with several of his siblings piled on top and around him, standing guard against further attacks from the butt-cleaning lady.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


By birth order- Scout, Daisy, Snowflake, Rocky, Ruthie, Wilbur, Charlotte, Sunny & Sky.

All of these names are temporary "nicknames" until we figure out who's a boy and who's a girl.

All are doing well now, though Rocky and Sunny gave us a little scare. Both had a small amount of bleeding from their umbilical area just after hatching, and Rocky had some dried-on membrane stuck to his neck and right wing that kept him from walking properly for the first few hours.

It also looks like we have at least a few silkies in the bunch. Charlotte and Rocky both have extra toes and Snowflake has the blue/black silkie skin, but only 4 toes, so we're not sure about her.

Everybody is happy and healthy and peeping their little brains out. And now I feel like Spring really is here. Better late than never! :)