Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dandy Time is Nigh

The dandelions are back! Why do I sound so happy about the return of the sworn enemy of gardeners everywhere? Wine, baby!

If you see some dandies growing somewhere that you know to be chemical and dog wiz-free, by all means, pick them. One thing to watch out for is the "false dandelions", Cats Ear and Hawks Beard. They usually show up later in the season, but you don't want to accidentally mix them up with the real thing. You can consult a field guide or just use google images to verify what you've got, but odds are if it's this early in Spring, it's a dandelion.

The only part that you need for the wine is the petals, but I usually pop the whole flower head off, then pluck the petals from the head while loafing on the couch, watching Netflix. It takes forever and a day to pick and pluck enough petals for a batch of wine, but I assure you that the end result is worth the trouble!

I'm trying to locate the recipe book that I used for last years batch - still looking. It's probably in storage somewhere still, but don't let that stop you from seeking out a recipe of your own elsewhere. Even if you can't find one you like right now, go ahead and pick your petals and freeze them, because the genuine dandelions aren't actually around for that long. You'll need quite a bit. If I recall correctly, my recipe called for 1 quart of petals (a spaghetti sauce jar full) per gallon of wine - and I made a three gallon batch!

Your neighbors will see you picking weeds on the side of the road and look at you funny (mine did anyway) and your fingers will be sticky and yellow for days after, but with relatively little effort, you can turn a weed into wine! It's the ultimate in upcycling! :)

Farm Girl Truism #1

Whoever invented the expression "Happy as a pig in $h!t" must have never seen a chicken in fresh straw. They lose their freaking minds over it.

My hens were scratching so feverishly today that they looked like they were moon-walking through the coop. It's nice to be surrounded by at least a few beings that are so easily pleased. ;)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hangin' with Norbert

When it rains so much that the frogs have had enough, it's wet.

I found young Mr. Norbert, here, on my porch, jamming himself into a corner of my door frame, presumably to escape the weather. I relocated him to the porch railing next to the boxwood in the hope that he could find a less squish-prone place to hole up.

Onward, Norbert! Your twenty-thousand wives and children in the bog are fretting over you! Skeedattle!

This is what my bog frog chorus sounds like on a sunny day. Multiply it by ten or twenty and you've got an idea of what a rainy night sounds like here!

In addition to Norbert and his kind seeking refuge on my porch and elsewhere, I've noticed a disturbing spike in the number of displaced, dehydrated newts in my basement. How are you getting in there little dudes? Does the appeal of the Man Cave cross lines of both phylum and culture, luring you in with it's eau de homebrew and fish bait? I love you little amphibians, but it has been well established that critters in my care must be tolerant of some level of incompetence on my part, and you, my friends are just too darn fragile.

So scamper on! Chill on the porch or hide out in the basement if you must, just don't forget to let yourself back out when you're done. And don't hide in my boots! That scenario doesn't end well for either of us.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Running on Empty

Is it Spring yet? Because I find myself doing lots of Springtime chores lately, yet I can't help but notice that I'm still needing to wear 5 layers of clothing while doing so. I'm always Winter-weary by late February, but it's March now. My sunshine is overdue! I'm ready for a 50 degree day. Is that really asking so much?

Since assuming the morning critter patrol duties solo, I've noticed that I hit my mid-afternoon lag a little bit harder than usual, which is saying something, since I am an Olympics-grade napper anyway. The exponential expansion of our animals has me running hither and yon morning, noon and night to water, feed, visit, clean and love on my critters. I enjoy the hell out of it, but my back is killing me and most nights I can barely stay awake long enough to get the kids in bed. So this is what a hard day's honest work feels like! But I am a delicate flower and this - how do you say? - manual labor is busting my chops. I foresee an awkward adjustment period...

I've got the skills (sort of) and the desire to whip this place into shape, I just need that last little piece of the puzzle - the oomph. Where art thou, oomph? You're not at the bottom of my fourth cup of coffee, I checked there.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Package of Peepers!

My chickies are here! All 28 of them! That's a lot of chickens! What was I thinking!?!

They are Uber cute, I will give them that, but the peeping. Dear God in heaven, I'm going to lose my mind.

One of these babies is a free, exotic chick, variety unknown. I can barely tell the difference between the various types that I specifically chose, so I have no idea which one is Mr. or Miss. Mystery Bird.

The few that can be identified clearly from a mile away are the Turkens/Naked Necks. The expression "So ugly, it's cute" comes to mind here.

Does this little guy/gal look like a baby vulture or what? I almost had my friend's 4 year-old convinced that we had a baby pterodactyl. Almost.

As you can see in the video, all of these babies came in a surprisingly small box, and are still adjusting to the relative wide-openness of the trough, but tending to clump up together. Every so often a brave soul will wander over the water dishes and give them a tentative peck, with some of the more quick-witted and worldly among them successfully managing to master the skill of drinking. Shortly I'll have to sit down with them one by one and show them the dip-and-tip maneuver to get everybody up to speed on drinking.

The hot tub room, home of the broken hot tub, and previously the most useless room in the house, has now become our makeshift nursery. It is presently inhabited by 7 bunnies and 28 chicks, and will shortly be joined by my seedlings that I will be planting any day now. Things are really humming along now - this Spring is going to be NUTS!