Friday, December 20, 2013

Long Time, No Write

Things have been slightly nuts here. Scratch that. Things have been full-on cuckoo nuts here. The details aren't glamorous, just the usual holiday crunch on top of trying to open a business. When I'm not submitting reams of paperwork to the city/county/state for the store, I'm feverishly knitting dishcloths and leaning way too heavily on Amazon to wrap up my shopping.

Thus, I'm all manner of distracted and haven't had the time or mental oomph! to post anything. So here's an update from the Boggy Hollow crew, in a nutshell.

Bunnies - Marshmallow is *possibly* pregnant. We'll know definitively in another 20 days or so. We're moving her hutch into the basement, just in case, to keep her and the (maybe?) babies out of the weather.

Dogs - We've started up fostering again! We hosted a sweet little girl named Mariah for just 8 days this month before she moved on to her forever home. We were lined up to pick up a Pyr/Aussie pup to foster today, but he was adopted at the last minute. Fostering is work, but it's so rewarding.

'Riah and Rexy, snoozin'

Chickens - We've already lost a few this Winter to a trio of raccoons that were slowly picking off the less-wary gals (the ones who roost up outside regardless of how often we've wrestled them into the safety of the coop at night.) Rex managed to tree the thieves one night and Bill gave them a little something to think about with a few pellets to their butts. No one has gone missing since!

Goats - We still have 6, five girls and one stinky boy, though that number is about to grow soon

Greetings from the Boggy Hollow maternity ward!

Ol' Bluey, as wide as she is tall.

Buckley, the cantankerous, highly smelly, soon-to-be Papa of the lot

And that's about it. The giveaway is still forthcoming, though I'm rapidly reaching knitting fatigue, so the goodies contained therein may be slightly different that originally planned, but still good stuff for all that. In the mean time - have a wonderful Christmas/Solstice/Ugly Sweater season, and kindly chug a mug of something spicy and bourbon-laced for me. ;)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

My M.I.A. Mea Culpa

I haven't been here much, which is lame. I haven't forgotten that I promised you all a giveaway, but I haven't gotten around to doing it just yet either, which is double lame.

But - I'm here for just a second to give you my paltry reasons why, or perhaps more fittingly, why not.

El numero Uno - Ta Daaaaaah! I'm opening a shop! Or, to be more accurate, Billy and I and two amazing business partners and fellow urban farm nerdz, are opening a shop! The amount of paperwork, legal filings and mandatory workshops that a new business owner has to complete are cray-zay NUTS, but we're getting 'er done, lining them up and knocking them down, etcetera, etcetera.

Eastside Urban Farm & Garden Center plans to open its doors to our farming, homesteading, and DIY'ing friends and neighbors in February 2014. (Hooboy does it feel nice to finally let that cat out of the bag!)

'Tis Bazaar Season - And I know you know what that means. It means I'm the lady who is fervently knitting dishcloths in the waiting room at the orthodontists office, scouring Pinterest for organic soap and sugar scrub recipes and wrapping bars of goaty-good soap waaaay into the small hours.

The Universe has been Ever-so-slightly Uncharitable this week past month or so - Lots and lots of personal craziness has been raining down upon our little family and the families of some of those nearest and dearest to us; more than there is any kind of time to go into detail about here, but suffice it to say that the old adage that "bad things come in threes" - Yeah, I wish. Bad/crappy/really, really, unfortunate things are coming in half-dozens at least, but we're still kickin'. I'm up all night rocking back and forth with worry (while knitting, wrapping soap), but still hanging in there.

And so, you know, ergo, my absence.

I'm going to try to check in more often, and I have a few new knitting patterns to post, I just have to carve out the time. Oh, and the giveaway - DEFINITELY still happening. :)

Thanks for your patience, mis amigos.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday, Gutty Sunday

Today seemed like as good a day as any to start the mammoth task that is processing our pumpkins. And so my knife and I got to work, bright and early..ish.

A very small representative sample of the punkins-in-waiting.

This year we grew 4 types of pumpkins - the good ol' standard Jack o' Lantern, a pumpkin which is really only good for decoration, Sugar Pie, which is a proper cooking pumpkin, Cinderella, which is pretty and tasty, and Williams Naked Seeded, which is a pepita/oil seed variety. 

To my credit, I got through nine pumpkins today. I have two roasted and pureed Sugar Pies in the freezer, a pound of the naked seeds brining overnight before roasting them tomorrow, and a few pounds of the non-naked (dressed?) seeds in the dehydrator for future chicken snackage. Go, me!

On the other hand, nine pumpkins down doesn't amount to much in the long run here. Bill brought in another 125 pounds of pumpkins from the garden today. I'm gonna be busy.

 My punkin' helper, Scarlet, calling dibs on the 26-pound Williams for her jack-o-lantern.

 One of my Williams Naked Seededs that was sampled by a mouse/vole/varmint of some sort. Luckily these suckers are THICK walled and the little raider was foiled.

My Scarletti-spaghetti helping me sort seeds and guts.

"Mmm... skwash gutz!"

The garden did us pretty proud this year. :)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Happiness Is...

... a freezer full of homegrown porky goodness!

Fear not, my friends. The scary-looking pink stuff is just some lard.

That's 200-odd pounds of meat, including 17 packages of bacon. This is where the nexus of homesteading nerdess and foodie bliss lies, right here in this little freezer. :)

In our other little chest freezer (holy crap, we need two now!) gently rests our Summer/Fall harvest of veggies and fruits. I feel pretty pleased with our progress this year in raising an ever-increasing percentage of our overall food supply. Besides a little seafood and beef/buffalo now and then for variety, I think that between our eggs, roosters, turkeys, and pork we're nearly set for protein for the coming year.

Whether we undertake the raising and harvesting of another pair of piglets next Spring still remains to be seen. It will depend, in large part, on how this pork tastes, so a lot is riding on tonight's dinner - waffles with pears and whipped cream and a large side of bacon. We'll see what the consensus is on effort vs. reward shortly thereafter. Fingers crossed that we didn't spend 7 months on something that ends up being meh.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Peace that Autumn Brings

Things have gone from madhouse-busy to relative quietude here almost overnight. The pigs have gone to slaughter, the goats are being dried off and tucked in for the Fall and Winter, the garden is all but put to bed, and the chickens have all very suddenly begun their molt.

The lack of Summer's endless chores is a refreshing change.

The flipside of that, of course, is that we are soon to have no more goat milk, eggs or fresh produce until early Spring. All of which I'm ok with - for now. The predictable cycle of antsy anticipation (Hurry up and grow!) eventually fading into frustration and fatigue (Por favor, no mas, zucchini. I surrender!) has nearly come full circle. I'm not itching to plant anything yet, but I have already started mulling over which fruit and veg will make the cut for next Spring's garden and which won't. My thoughts, so far -

The Keepers:
*Cocozelle zucchini (though maybe half as many plants)
*Cylindra beets (again, half as many)
*Early Bush Scallop squash (Pattypan)
*Russian red kale
*German chamomile
*Toma Verde tomatillos
*Sweet basil
*Scarlet Runner beans
*Hungarian Blue bread poppies
*Roma/Paste tomatoes (Probably a different variety, though. The Roman Speckled Paste never ripened at all.)
*Borage (We didn't really use any ourselves, but Billy's honeybees were NUTS for the stuff.)
*Sugar Pie and Cinderella pumpkins
*Scarlet Nantes and Little Fingers carrots (Maybe 2 beds worth next time?)
*French Breakfast and Cherry Belle radishes

Hmmm, maybe:
*Yukon Chief sweet corn (many ears came out stunted, loses it's sweetness and becomes starchy very soon after picking.)
*Golden beets (For whatever reason, these were slug magnets and had to be pulled rather early, lest we lose the whole beet bed to the slugs.)
*William Naked Seed pumpkins (The jury is still out on these, as they haven't been harvested yet)
*Onions (Our success with the onion family has been very limited. Billy is super keen to figure them out though, so...)
*Sunflowers for seed (These seem to be taking forever to ripen. I think it's about even odds now that they'll mold/rot on the vine before ever becoming fully ripe.)
*Lettuces (Apparently, we don't eat enough salad to justify growing more than a few cut-and-come-again plants.)
*Sugar beets (These all went to the pigs. Since we don't know yet if we're doing pigs next year, these are a maybe.)

*Minnesota Midget Melon cantaloupe (Never fully ripened on the vine, attracted mice in droves, even the ripe fruit wasn't terribly flavorful.)
*Mammoth Melting peas (They don't transplant well for me, and take forever to get their feet under them, whether transplanted or direct-sown.)
*Yellow squash (Between the zukes and the pattypan, we had more than enough Summer squash.)

Haven't Yet, but Wanna:
*Florence fennel
*Potatoes (Haven't decided on a variety yet)
*Cannellini beans?
*Pickling cucumbers
*Cilantro (It was a huge oversight on our part that we didn't get it in the garden this year.)

And that's as far as I've come with all that. My brain is about to go on a mini-vacation before the Winter/holiday season crafting/knitting/soap making freak-out begins. Bon voyage, mes amis.

The view from my studio of our little garden and Goatlandia in late Summer, September 2013.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fall Done Fell

In the space of a week we've gone from humidity, thunderstorms and 80 degree temps to falling leaves and pea soup fog in the mornings. Fall has arrived in Boggy Hollow, and with it, as ever, a nearly-endless list of stuff that needs doing, yesterday.

As a bit of strategery, I am posting my to-do list here in the hope that the threat of an on-the-record public shaming will serve as motivation for me to get my crap together and not, say, take a nap with my puppy.

Hope springs eternal.

Chelle's end of Summer/Fall To-Do list:

*Finish harvesting the garden - tomatoes, tomatillos, basil, lemon balm, garlic chives, runner beans, pumpkins, cylindrical beets, sunflowers, chamomile, calendula, breadseed poppies, Fall raspberries

*Forage - apples, crab apples, pears, walnuts, hazelnuts, hawthorn berries, rose hips, dandelion roots, mushrooms?

*Can/Freeze/Dehydrate - Spaghetti sauce, tomato paste, tomatillo salsa, pumpkin puree, hard cider (apple, pear, hawthorn, etc.), wine (rose hip, hawthorn, raspberry), egg noodles (using beets, basil, etc.), pumpkin ravioli, chamomile, lemon balm and calendula for tea and soapmaking, dandelion roots (for bitters), pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, beet chips, beet greens, compound herb butters (basil, lemon balm, garlic chive), Scarlet Runner beans, 3 "surplus" roosters, 2 tom turkeys.

*Ferment - Cider (for ACV), wine, sauerkraut

*Make - At least 2 more batches of soap - one with goat milk and one vegan, re-batch soap trimmings, knit at least 2 dozen more dishcloths and 6 pair of bike helmet earmuffs

*Set up/Organize - The new pantry/storage room shelving - oy. This will probably involve a trip to IKEA, better known in our family as the Yuppie Modular Cattle Chute from Hell. Uff da.

As if that weren't enough, in addition to my regular Mom duties, a friend and I are in the process of starting a new business that entails real estate deals, meetings with bankers, tons of market research, paperwork and spreadsheets out the wazoo and a big, fat, healthy dose of sheer panic. Good times!

So, there you have it. My next 12 weeks, chock-full of farm housewifferey (did I just invent that word?), lava-hot mason jars and self-imposed stress and deadlines. Hold my feet to the fire to get this stuff done, guys and gals, because that nap is looking better with each passing minute.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Coming Soon...

...after the last wheelbarrow full of tomatoes is canned, the last of our three-roosters-too-many are culled and sent to the stock pot, and I've had a day or two to straight-up veg out on the couch, I'll be posting a long overdue giveaway!

Because I'm still presently freaking out all a-tither over getting a ton of produce picked and put up, I don't yet have my lineup of goodies selected, but don't be surprised to see some jam, salsa, sauce and maybe a knit or two in there. More details and the pics of the goods are forthcoming... soon (I hope.)

This represents a wee sampling of what I'm working on these days. Mercy!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Putting Up

Our predictably unpredictable end-of-Summer weather here in Western Washington is wigging me out.

One day it's 80's and deep-south humid, the next it's 60 degrees and straight downpour. It's Summer, it's Fall - no wait - it's still Summer. Hows about some hot rain to go with that 90% humidity? My brain has slipped into Fall mode - sleep in, bake bread, wear pjs all day, read, read, read. Meanwhile the copious sweating and 5 pound zucchinis snap me back to my reality - it's the end of Summer push.

I have already put up 50ish pounds of our squash, dozens of pounds of beets, assorted flavors/colors of homemade egg noodles and my puercos will soon be in the freezer as well; we're in no danger of starving. And yet, as tired as I am of picking and processing our produce incessantly, I can't stop. There is a MST of stuff still be done before I can laze about with a clear conscience.

This coming weekend is the 4th (5th?) annual Jam-o-Rama with my homegirl, Jen. Next weekend will be apple juicin' fest, and the week after that, probably tomato sauce and salsa time. I'm kinda tired just thinking about it...

Even if I don't make epic strides each day, as long as I can/dehydrate/freeze something, I feel like I'm making at least a little dent.

"Italian veg" going in the freezer - yellow squash, zucchini, scarlet runner beans and basil.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Bacon Time is Nigh

Our trio of piglets, Baykin, Proscuitto and Porkchop (aka Chopz), are rapidly approaching their date with the abattoir. I find myself eager, relieved and a little sad too, but mostly, relieved.

Back when they were still cuteish.

These three little piggies joined the Boggy Hollow crew back in mid-March, just eight weeks old and weighing in at about 30 pounds each. Ever since that moment, it seems to have been their primary mission in life to eat us out of house and home. We have no real way of knowing what they weigh now until the deed is done and their hanging weight is pronounced, but if they're not at least 200-pounds each, I'm a monkey's uncle. Specifically, a sad, angry, idiot-who-spent-her-last-dime-on-pig-food, variety of monkey's uncle.

The ideal weight and age for harvesting a hog is 225-270 pounds, more or less, and at around 6 months of age. These three are nearly 8 months old, and hopefully 225 or better each, so the time has most definitely arrived for them to move on.

Even if they're short on weight, there are others issues in play that make this the right time to harvest. At the top of our list is that Winter is coming.

Can I get a what-what for my Game of Thrones peeps?

More specifically, mud season is on it's way back, and slogging 40+ pounds of feed per day through shin-deep liquid clay mud has limited appeal.

Secondly, the pigs are eating an outrageous amount of food these days. Their rations have been increased to one 40# bag of rolled barley per day, all of our (and our friends') windfall apples (5ish pounds more or less per day?) and anything coming out of the garden that is past it's prime/less than perfect, such as blimp-sized zucchini, mouse-nibbled cantaloupe, corn stovers and aphid-ravaged kale, plus their daily ration of our fresh, raw, goats milk. In the past, we've supplemented their rations with bakery outlet bread products, but the failure of many grain crops this year and last has made laying hands on previously unwanted leftovers nearly impossible most months. 

I'm competing with cattle ranchers, chicken farmers and food banks for the day-old and otherwise not-fit-for-sale (often utterly perfect), increasingly scarce calories, and so, with "terminal" stock that is near harvest anyway, I gladly bow out of the fray. 

Lastly - flavorful, clean, humanely raised pork (and all meat for that matter) is expensive. Our family of four eats about one pound of meat/protein per evening meal, at an average cost of $8 per pound. That figure factors in that we've been eating a fair amount of grass-finished ground beef (at around 5.99/lb) and occasionally a nicer cut of beef, lamb or pork (up to 10.99/lb or so) with our own wild-caught seafood (salmon, crab) sprinkled in the mix to spread things out. Conservatively, that puts our monthly meat budget at around $240 per month, for just a single 4-ounce serving per person, per day. The pigs are presently eating one $13 bag of barley per day. Alas, the time to pay the piper has arrived.

At 7 1/2 months old, they still look kinda cute, right? After you nearly lose a few fingers to their eager maws, maybe not so much. Their charm fades pretty quickly after that...

The bottom line is, it's time for us to stop feeding the pigs, and time for them to start feeding us.

With any luck, our 1 piggy (the other 2 are going to our Mamas) will yield us enough pork to put beautiful, high quality meat on our table until this time next year. Whether or not we'll find ourselves raising and harvesting our own pigs at this time next year depends completely on how this pork tastes, and how the numbers shake out when all is said and done.

I do offer my thanks to these odd little (huge) critters for the nutrition and sustenance that they will provide for my family, and for the experience that we've had with them this Spring and Summer. Our critters help us grow as farmers and as people. They teach us so much. 

Many thanks, mis puercos.

Update 9/21/13 - The butcher shop called, the piggies' hanging weights were 170, 170 & 207 pounds. Using my marginal math skills, at a total cost of about $1300 (initial purchase price, feed, kill fee), divided by the estimated final "wrapped" weight (70% of hanging weight - 547 x .7= 383lbs) equals roughly 3.39/pound. Not a huge win, financially, but when compared to the average cost of the cheapest cut per pound of organic/non-CAFO pork that is commercially available, (which is usually the ground, unseasoned pork), we'll enjoy a savings of about $3.40 per pound. On the "nicer" cuts, the savings go up.

Speaking strictly financially, this was a worthwhile endeavor for us. We'll be keeping just one of the pigs for ourselves, the 207-pounder. The other two are destined for the freezers of our parental units.

So, based upon my voodoo math - 207lbs x .7 = 144.9 (the "wrapped weight"), times our cost of $3.39/lb = $491.21. Our year's supply of pork will have cost us $491 instead of $983 - a $492 savings. :)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

To Market, to Market

I've been running around today trying to put the finishing touches on my crafts, produce and what-not before getting up bright and early tomorrow to sell my wares at the annual Love our Local Fest here in Olympia.

I somehow got the bright idea to make a bunch of my homemade egg noodles, using our eggs and our produce, as if I wasn't busy enough. Now I'm looking at pulling late-nighter/all-nighter #3 in order to get all of this pasta rolled, cut, dried and packaged. Oof! But on the up side, isn't it pretty?

Egg noodles made with our Cylindra beets

As much as I look forward to going to and spending the day at the market, I gotta admit, I'll be a little relieved (and probably sleep for 24 hours straight) once it's done. August is already so busy around here, it'll be nice to get in quick breather before the school year starts up again.

Come and see me tomorrow if you're a local-yokel. ;) Olympia's Love our Local Fest

Saturday, August 17, 2013

August Exhaustion

This morning I woke up to a fiery-hot pain in my shoulder. In fact, my entire right arm feels fit to fall right off. I think I've managed to figure out why...

...I've been knitting. A LOT.

...picking, washing chopping, slicing and grating dozens of pounds of squash.

...cutting and trimming up fifty-bajillion bars of soap.

...hand wrapping and labeling those same fifty-bajillion bars of soap.

Yes, my house is in ruins right now, but aren't my knits and soaps purty?! That 40ish pounds of squash that I put into the freezer last night is a different kind of purty. I feel very pleased with my level of productivity, but madre, my arm! :\

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Fearsome Protectors of the Hollow

At this time of year, Rexy, our Great Pyrenees, likes to spend his nights in the yard rather than in the house. Occasionally he can be lured in with the promise of a treat, but for the most part, he likes to stay at his post and bark at mystery critters who dare venture on or near his territory.

Aside from the barking, which, believe it or not, you eventually learn to tune out 90% of the time, his nighttime patrols have been nothing but good for our plants and critters, protecting them from coyotes, raccoons, possums, deer (the plants), etc. And, just like a baby's cry, you can tell the broadcast woe to ye who trespasses in MY yard bark from the rapid, snarly, I've got a predator cornered and I could use some backup bark. Last night featured the "got him!" bark, and so Bill went to investigate.

Imagine, if you will, a giant white dog snarling and doing a very fine Cujo impression, while looking straight up in the air. You need to look, but you're pretty nervous about what could be up there too... because it's mostly big things like wildcats and bears that scale telephone poles.

Bill shined his headlamp beam in the direction if Rex's frantic barking and saw... a ginormous grey owl sitting up on the power lines.

Yes indeedy, our Livestock Guardian is 24/7 and dead serious about his job. Luckily, all of our fowl were put up for the night (except the turkeys, who refuse to roost in the coop) and everybody was present and accounted for as of this morning.

Just when I think I can't love my pooch anymore, he kicks butt in a brand new way and I'm in awe of him all over again.

Not to be outdone, Penny also earned her farmdog-in-training stripes this morning at breakfast.

Just as I was walking onto the dining room, I see her playfully batting at something, then pick it up in her mouth and fling it, then chase it down and bat it some more. Figuring that it was something she shouldn't be eating, as per usual, I move to take it away from her just as she looks ready to chow down on a mammoth Wolf Spider. EEK!

Between Scarlet and I, we managed to distract her from her kill long enough to gingerly scoop it up with a paper towel and dispose of it, meanwhile lavishing the intrepid huntress with praise and offering her a biscuit in place of her venom-y snack. 

These two, I tell ya... Rescued pets rock!

The mighty beasts themselves.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Get Ready, Get Set...

...commence freak-out about whether or not I'll manage to get my stuff ready in time for market day. :\

Either way, I'm all signed up to be a crafter/farm vendor, so whether I have 2 tomatoes or 200, I'll be there! Come on down and see me!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Timing is Everything

Blueberry season has finally arrived, coinciding with King and Pink salmon seasons, and our family's perennial favorite, crabbing season. That's a whole lot of seasoning.

Because we live at the base of a peninsula that is home to umpteen blueberry farms and salt-water boat launches, we get quite a bit of traffic whizzing past the house each day. And we're looking to capitalize on that. :)

We had a very quiet little grand opening for our bitty little Farm Stand this past Sunday. We didn't make a killing - by a long shot - but we did send some of our beautiful eggs and blackberries off to new homes, and hopefully got our name out there just a little as well. We intend to do the Farm Stand at least a few days per week, as long as the garden and chickens do their bit to supply us.

I'm also plotting a mega-grande garage sale to purge the odds and ends that we just don't need or use anymore. My girls have decided to let their Care Bear sheets and American Girl dolls go to some other lucky little girls. : \ So now it's up to me and Bill to do our bit, which entails sorting through bookshelves, drawers and closets, and those two dozen or so pesky boxes that have sat in the basement waiting patiently to be unpacked for, oh, three years. *gulp*

But I figure that if we can get our crizzap together quick enough to get this garage sale put together in time to take advantage of the blueberry and fishing traffic, and we manage to have the farm stand open for the day as well, we could do a fair bit of business. The staggering amount of sorting, and shifting and re-folding and moving... uhg. I'd rather not dwell too heavily on that aspect of the run-up to the sale of the century.

I'll post our plans for the sale/stand-a-palooza just as soon as we figure it all out. In the meantime, if you find yourself in North Olympia and in need of zucchinis or beets....

My monkeys can hook you up! 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Hidden Perks of Honeybee Ownership

I really need to weed our front yard. Seriously - it's looking rough. I mentioned my plans to head out there and start pulling the hawksbeard that is running riot through my pitiful flower beds to Billy, our resident bee-man, to which he said said "Awww... leave it for the bees!"

Well, dang. If you insist... 

Bill's "buzzers", coming and going

By chance, would forgoing doing the laundry benefit the bees in any way? ;)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Knitting Project: Little Ladders Dishcloth

Yet another in my endless series of simple dishcloth patterns, Little Ladders is based on the slipstitch tweed stitch, with one small modification. After you get a row or two into it, it becomes blissfully mindless. :)

Little Ladders Dishcloth

I make these dishcloths using worsted weight kitchen cotton and size 8 straight needles, but you can go bigger or smaller easily, as your yarn or gauge calls for.

Cast on 40 sts

Rows 1-4 - Knit all sts
Row 5 and all odd numbered rows - K2 *Sl 1 wyif, K1* to last two sts, K2
Row 6 and all even numbered rows - K2, Purl across to last two sts, K2
Continue repeating as in rows 5 and 6 until the desired length is reached, minus 4 rows.
Last 4 Rows - Knit all sts
Bind off loosely and weave/tuck loose ends

Sl 1 wyif = slip one stitch with your yarn held to the front, as if to purl

Knit away and enjoy!

Please excuse the less-than-stellar photo quality. I had a sleeping pooch in my lap. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ehrmahgerd! Merdget Whurt Turkurrz!

Our pair of purty Midget White Turkeys came today!

Cindy, the lady that we got them from, said that she isn't 100% sure of their gender, but she suspects that we may have two toms. This should be interesting...

So far, they seem mostly curious, with a side of intermittent, mild panic. One of the twwas initially pretty agro toward the Turken hen and her babies who live in the neighboring run, jumping and attempting to square off with her through the chicken wire. Vulture, the mama hen next door, was utterly nonplussed by this bizarre display, and eventually turkey-lurkey gave up the macho show cooled his jets.

As you may have noticed, Livy, our resident bird nerd, got a touch snap-happy with the camera, following the arrival of her new charges. These photos are 4 of 25 that she took in the space of about 3 minutes. Girl loves her some birds!

We've have both read and been told by experienced turkey-folk, that the poults should stay in their run for a few days, to get a sense of home, before being allowed out to mingle with the rest of the flock. Eventually, they'll be given free reign of the chicken yard, and will hopefully, by then, be happy enough in their new home that they don't immediately head for the hills and/or fly straight into the mouth of a coyote. Turkeys are notoriously, shall we say, not geniuses.

I'm just hoping that having two birds, and both of them being so well started, practically insures that we'll end up with at least one finished bird for our holiday table. *KNOCKING ON WOOD NOW*

Wish us luck!

For more info on the Midget White Turkey breed -

The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy

Slow Food USA's Ark of Taste

Always Somethin' Farm's piece on choosing Midget Whites

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Boggy Hollow Loves Our Local!

Our little farm was just accepted as a vendor at the Love Our Local street fair here in Olympia. It's a one-day event, August 25th from 1-9, so it's going to be a long, hot day, but we're totally up for it! we're going to be selling our farm produce and my crafty swag too, so this will be a very interesting bellwether for our future farm, bazaar and market endeavors. 

I anticipate that we'll have a boatload of produce on offer, if the size and staggering growth rate of the zucchini, tomato and corn plants are any kind of indication... :) Now I just need to look through my knits and other assorted crafty goods to see what I have on hand that looks like it will jive at a peak-of-Summertime sale. In other words, no scarves. My wheels are turning. It'll be nice to have a "bazaar" that isn't smack in the middle of the holiday crush for a change.

For more info on the when and where of the Love Our Local market, visit

I really hope to see you there!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Our Farm Stand!

Looky at what my boo made us this weekend -

My very own farm stand!

The girls and I spent part of the morning putting on the first coat of paint. Then it got hot, so we decided to retreat indoors for a while under the pretense of letting the first coat really, really dry. Here we have what shall eventually be known as, before:

After will happen when the sun lets up a little. 

In a wild, recklessly optimistic fit of hopefulness, I went ahead and added eight pounds of organic lemons and limes to our CSA produce order, in the hope that we'll have a splashy grand opening this weekend, featuring lots of fresh garden greens, herbs, fresh flower bouquets (maybe), eggs and delectable marionberry and lavender lemonades, hand squeezed by these two little enormous rascals -

The monkeys (Primatus Gigantis Boggy Hollowi) at the helm, eager to fix you up a tall, frosty lemonade!

So if you're in our neck the woods this week or next, stop by and say hi! And while you're not looking, a few pounds of kale *might* just show up in your car...

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Garden Milestones

Not having been raised in a farming family, I've had to glean little morsels of folksy, hand-me-down farm wisdom wherever I could. Things like:

 -Tomato plants go in the ground on Mother's Day weekend
 -Don't cut hay before the 4th of July
-Fresh cream won't whip unless it's at least 3 days old
-Turkey poults are constantly on the lookout for new, more exciting ways to die
-Foxes and coyotes are at their murderous peak during the full moon

And maybe the most apropos bit of wisdom re: a Western Washington garden - if it isn't planted out and well established by mid-July, your crop ain't happening.

Our Summers are short here and typically have just two weeks or a month of any kind of heat, which is not always enough to make many garden favorites happen. I've learned the hard way that, short of using a greenhouse; hot peppers, watermelon and anything else that takes more than 90 days to grow or a month's worth of heat to ripen,  isn't meant to grow here.

There are exceptions, of course, a few of which are merrily growing away in my garden right now. My short-season corn is looking amazing, and well after I'd already resigned myself to the fact that in the land of mold and hungry raccoons, there would be no homegrown corn for us, ever. Behold the beauty (and note that the tassels cometh!) -

Yukon Chief Corn, day 37 (direct sown on 5-30-13)

Minnesota Midget Melons (Cantaloupe), day 70 (started indoors 4-27-13)

These melons are supposed to only take 70 days from seed to fruit (hence their appeal), but were held up on account of my delay getting them out in the ground, and their very rough (nearly fatal) transition from indoors to out. I'd love to see our first melon harvested before July is out, but I guess we'll get what we get when we get it.

Toma Verde Tomatillos, day 70 (started indoors 4-27-13)

Giant Greystripe and Miriam Edible Sunflowers, day 42 (direct sown 5/24/13) 

It may not look like much, and honestly, it's not, but to me... how do I put it? I get a sense of pride and nervous excitement when I think about my little garden, and all of the stuff that is growing beautifully there in spite of it a) being grown in soggy/unsunny/unpredictable western Washington, and b) being grown by a lady who is still learning to speak and understand the language of plants. So far I haven't screwed this up. Suffice it to say I'm pleased.

In addition to all of the up and coming beauty and bounty in the garden, there are a few other foodie delights coming our way shortly - wild blackberries and the opening of crabbing season in the Puget Sound. Happy days are here again!

If you're interested in learning more about any of the varieties of seeds/plants that I've mentioned here, you can read more and/or purchase some of these same seeds through Victory Seed Company and Seeds of Change. By the way, this is not a sponsored post - just one farm nerdess gushing about her garden. :) 

Thursday, July 4, 2013


Just popping by quick to say Hi, and to mention that I may not be able to post for the next Idontknowhowmany days, because my terminally ill computer has taken a sudden, steep nosedive in which the caps lock, w & q keys have all, rather abruptly, surrendered the burden of this mortal coil and have left me angrily shaking my fist in the general direction of hoever designed this stinking heap of a Helitt-Packard. Once the mystery illness spreads to a vowel, I'm sunk.

Anyhoo - I've been managing to knock out a brief Today's Take post each evening over on Ye Olde Bog Blog, should you be interested in keeping you finger on the pulse of Mudlandia. For instance - on the agenda for this lovely Independence Day? Cleaning chicken coops! The glamour of farm life never ends!

Monday, June 24, 2013


According to a handy-dandy little chart on Wikipedia, any chicken egg larger than 2.5 ounces (70+ grams) is considered "Jumbo". Well, they might need to invent a new category for some of our laydies' eggs. Check it out -


Can you read the bitty numbers on my scale? That there egg is a quarter pounder! Curiosity had me googling average duck egg sizes and even they don't typically get this big. Dear hen that laid this - thank you and also, I'm sorry. Maybe we should cut back your protein a tad? :-\

Now that I've brought this egg in, the girls are suddenly keen to have eggs for dinner. They're dying to see how many yolks might be inside this badboy. My guess is at least two. We'll let you know!

Update: Mystery solved! Two full sized yolks!

Soap Box Rant - GO!

Smithfield pork is the latest company to fire Paula Deen for her use of racist language. Bravo! There is no room in this growing, changing world for that kind of backwards thinking. However, Smithfield got a little high and mighty with their PR statement confirming the firing -
"Smithfield is determined to be an ethical food industry leader and it is important that our values and those of our spokespeople are properly aligned."
Ethical?! Maybe they forgot about how their CAFO's treat their pigs? (YouTube it - if you dare. It's brutal to watch.) Or how their "swine effluent" (poop and chemical lagoons) do irreparable damage to the ecosystems in the areas that call their ginormous factory farms home? Or, maybe they forgot that they feed obscene amounts of antibiotics and ARSENIC to their swine and eventually, consumers? All above board and a-ok, according to them.

The word/s the Paula Deen used/uses are unforgivably ugly and have no place in our society and earned her her walking papers. The people at Smithfield congratulating themselves as being ethical? It's a flat out lie and damn near as offensive to me. Anything to make a buck, seems to be a mantra that Smithfield and Deen share - maybe they've been "properly aligned" all along?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Our Victory Garden - 6/23/13

It's been just over a month since we got the very first few starts and seeds in our garden - radishes, kale, lettuces and peas - most of which started off on such rocky footing that I wondered if we'd started too late, chosen the wrong varieties, or otherwise blown it again this year.

In spite of my concerns, we kept plugging still more seeds and starts into the garden beds and watering everything each evening just before heading in for the night. It's a really nice "chore" when compared to some of our other glorious options, like feeding the pigs. In the garden, you get to calmly walk amongst little green things and flowers, doing a mental inventory of any changes that have occurred in the past 24 hours, or any that will need to be made in the next 24. All the while, swallows and robins swoop and dart overhead, catching mosquitoes and gnats. It's extremely peaceful.

Even being that connected with a place, you don't always really notice the very small daily changes. It's sort of like raising kids - you take your eye off of them for a minute, and suddenly they're huge. Our garden pulled just this sort of presto-change-o on me this weekend. We left town for just 3 nights, only to come back to our very own greenery jungle.

Everything grew appreciably in just those few days. The beet tops have grown by inches and they're starting to put on some root as well. The lettuces and kale need a good, heavy-handed trim, lest they go to seed, and the peas, finally recovered from the trauma of transplantation, have started blooming like crazy and setting pods. But the runaway success, the beast in my garden are the radishes. Behold -

A 2-ounce Cherry Belle and a 3-ounce French Breakfast radish.

These beauties were planted from seed just 35 days ago. Gotta love that fast turnaround! We still have several dozen in the ground that urgently need picking, so it looks like our little pipe dream of a small, roadside farm stand could be just a day or two away from becoming a reality. We won't have much variety -  just the radishes, kale, lettuces, oregano, lavender and some eggs - but boy, what a long time in coming this little project has been! Farmer Chelle is one happy little camper right now. :)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Stocking Up for a Shindig!

Maybe I've mentioned once or twice that the past year has been slightly bumpy? Well this weekend is shaping up to be the official end to the year of bleh. My nephews (and their awesome parents) are coming to visit, all the way from Tennessee, and that, my friends, calls for a party.

In preparation for the party, I've been running my hiney off, trying to get this old place looking nice, and trying to plan a yummy-but-not-overly-complicated menu for our BBQ/Karaoke Good Times-fest. Today I took a stroll through our infant garden and was happy to see that a few of our very early crops should be ready to go, come the weekend.

We don't have a lot, maybe just enough for a very Spring-y green salad - lettuces, radishes, basil, thyme, chives and *maybe* some strawberries and beets. And, if I steal the pigs' goat milk ration for a day, I can make up some fresh chevre. Hmm... this is kinda coming together!

Anyway, even after going half bananas planning and plotting this par-tay, I can't wait to have a house full of family and friends here to help us celebrate Fathers Day, the beginning of Summer, lots of May/June/July birthdays, our recovery from our year of crazy, and most importantly, the safe return of my brother-in-law from his most recent tour overseas. Our cup runneth over with Good Things.

Now, let's get funky! :)))

My handsome little nephews, gettin' their crazy on.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Our Eggy Spectrum

Well, 2 out of 3 are our eggs anyway. 

The quail's egg is from my friend, B. She shared a few dozen of these gorgeous little eggs with me, which we will be taste-testing alongside our chicken and Guinea eggs tomorrow for dinner. They're almost too pretty to eat!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Welcome to Boggy Hollow



Chalkboard paint, you are a miracle in a bucket! :)