Tag Archives: urban farming

from our cupboards

I don’t think I’m going to get to the trio of watermelon canning projects I had hoped for this week, but we’ve got to figure out some good storage solutions for our canned food anyway. Every year I end up crafting some labels for our jars. It’s a little too time intensive for big batches, but we like to have some on hand that you can just slap a ribbon on and give as a proper gift or trade when needed. Really I just do it because it’s fun. It must be the same kid in me who keeps eyeballing the giant, pristine box of crayons at the store (you know, with the built in sharpener).


black pepper cherry jam


cherries in light syrup


Raspberry jam made with Pomona’s Universal Pectin. We’ve been using this a lot since you don’t have to use so much sugar.

Little known fact: if we didn’t name our chickens after characters from Cry-Baby, naming them after characters from The Outsiders was high on the list. Tell me Sodapop, Ponyboy, and Cherry Valance aren’t excellent chicken names? For now we will settle for a reference via golden raspberry jam.

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Chicken TV

Before we got our chickens, Jess used to talk about how we would spend so much time in our backyard watching “chicken TV.” I was more excited about getting the chickens for backyard breakfast production, and I couldn’t quite picture what she was talking about. As soon as our tiny little chicks arrived in the mail, I got it. We would pull up a chair to their brooder and watch. And these days if you’re having a bad day, the cure is often to go outside and let the chickens out to explore the yard. It always seems to cheer us up. They’re just that funny.

Here’s Cry-Baby and Pepper, hunkered down in the dirt next to some rhubarb, making themselves at home.

This blur of feathers is about what it looks like when they dust bathe. Sometimes they flop down in the dirt and roll around and you can’t see a head or tail – just a big ball of feathers. But you don’t have to imagine it, today we have video!

Be sure to watch if you want an update on Hatchet-Face, the little runt we thought wasn’t going to survive in the early days. She makes her presence known at about the 1:20 mark. Ramona also makes a couple cameo appearances.

And that hum of traffic you hear is Interstate 5. We don’t even really notice it when we’re back there.

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could somebody bring over some scones?

Stat!

I remember buying honeycomb with my mom at a farm stand as a child. I learned recently that a lot of people have never tried honey in the comb. What!

I guess I better get to baking. We’ve been on this whole grain kick, but I think this is asking for some buttery, white flour-y scones, don’t you?

Thanks, honey, for taking all the stings.

(No, the stings don’t happen too often but we had one angry hive this week.)

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hurray for the first tomato!

Growing tomatoes in the northwest is always cause for celebration. This year, with a record-breaking wet spring and a chilly start to summer, we decided to really celebrate our first ripe tomato.

And we literally only have one ripe tomato at this point. I hope to have a lot more, but this good-sized, bright yellow Limmony was the first to cross the finish line.

To really do it justice, I made a balsamic reduction, bought some smoked mozzarella, and harvested some basil to go on top. Now I really hope we get a lot more tomatoes. We found a little blossom end rot in the community garden that we’re trying to nip in the bud. It’s important to celebrate the small successes!

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20 x 20

Things are happening in our community garden plot!

Probably the biggest surprise: the artichoke starts that nearly died when we first planted them out are looking like they might actually produce! Last year our artichoke plants at home in containers never produced any food, probably because we didn’t choose a sunny enough spot for them. Our new plan is to dig these up before winter and store them in the garage in pots. We’ll see.

We’ve got a ton of green tomatoes over there. FINGERS AND TOES CROSSED!

Corn. Probably not going to happen this year but the sight of it still makes us happy.

Soy, corn, and volunteer borage gone wild behind. Our borage makes our plot very popular with the bees.

amaranth

nasturtiums and zucchini (and maybe some weeds)

Jess has some interesting plans for this calendula

Jess’ favorite gloves

the view from our neighbor’s plot

the food bank squash plot

So glad I finally hauled my camera over there on a day I wasn’t going to get covered in dirt.

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a little garden bounty

My wife may be a “master gardener” but we have a lot of room for improvement and learning in the gardening department. It’s our second year gardening in this yard, and our first year in our community garden plot, and we’ve learned a lot. While I may not be as obsessively photographing everything we eat, our big win is in eating nearly everything we’ve grown. Sometimes that seems like half the battle. Here’s a small taste of what we’ve been harvesting from the yard lately:

Everytime I look at fresh peas from our garden I hear Gordon Ramsay saying (in his nicer Master Chef voice), “THE MOST AMAZING FRESH PEAS!”

I’m pretty sure Ramsay would agree with me that those Chioggia beets are stunning.

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Inside the coop

I am so happy to report that the ladies are greatly enjoying their full-time outside lives. They still seem to love us a lot even though they are big girls with their own lives. Bribery, treats, and special attention will get you everywhere with chickens. I like to peek into the egg door and see what they are doing. Usually they are being cute or funny, or both.

The inside of the coop is pretty nice. The roof is clear as to not interrupt their stargazing.

They’re good at putting themselves to bed when the sun goes down. They are learning to use their perch. They love the bugs and dirt. I enjoy not having chickens in my house. If we ever raise baby chicks again, I would prefer to do it in the garage. Or at your house. We’re friends, right? You’d let me keep a flock of chickens in your house, wouldn’t you? Now, that’s settled.

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Chickens, 7 weeks!

There are so many things I want to blog about these days, but the most labor-intensive project gets precedence today. We have been working on our garden coop for months. In fact, we spent most of the 4th of July weekend working on our chicken coop — what is more American than that, I ask you? I would say that our coop is now about 97% complete. It thrills me to type that.

We still need to:
* finish filling in the predator-proof trenches.
* add hardware to the human-sized door.
* tile and re-install the coop floor.
* add perches and nesting boxes.
* sew up a little part of the hardware cloth to keep predators out.

It’s nearly good enough for chicken habitation. Later this summer I want to add gutters and a rain catchment system, but that’s not essential now. Our years of research, weeks of hard work, the labor of our dear friends who helped to build this, and a smidge of good luck seem to have paid off – we are delighted by our coop. With great relief, many broken fingernails, a sunburn, 5,000 mosquito bites, and a thin layer of caulk on my hands, I am so pleased to present our 97%-complete coop.

The chickens are too big for the light box anymore, so we made them pose with Levi this week. I have to admit, this is pretty much my favorite photo ever. Of All Time. I have never loved a photo like this. No one was pooped on in the making of this photo. (see it bigger here.)

Ramona & Pepper love to perch on human arms. They make us feel like professional falconers. They are so sweet.

On to the individual shots!!

Cry-Baby Walker, pretending to be a pirate’s parrot.

Hatchet-Face is growing some feathery Farrah Fawcett wings on the sides of her head.

Ramona did not want to pose today. Also, her white feathers are coming in like crazy.

Pepper Walker is checking out the egg-access door.

Lenora was far too busy flying around to pose. This was her “best shot.”

The chickens were enthralled by the coop and they can’t wait to move outside full-time. The dogs anxiously tried to herd/eat the chickens, but the coop was secure enough to keep the hounds at bay. I have high hopes that the flock can move outside within a week!

Click here for past chicken portraits.

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SIX WEEKS!

We have managed to live with chickens in our house for six weeks now. I wasn’t always so confident about the chick raising, but we have done it! We have kept them safe from weather, predators, our dogs and cats, disease, over-handling, neglect and everything else that could have ended their little avian lives. They have grown feathers and started flapping their wings.

Being a chicken mom is so rewarding. Let’s not talk about dust or poop. I prefer to focus on the precious moments. I wake up to a chorus of anxious peeping at chicken breakfast time. I am greeted by excited peeping when I get home from work. I hear a round of sweet, sleepy, contented peeps as they cuddle up for bed. I hope we can finish the coop & move them outside within the next week. I’m not sure how much longer we will continue the weekly photos. The ladies are difficult to manage in the photography studio. They hate to be separated from their flock. They are too big for the light box that Krista built to photograph them. That cat keeps destroying the light box by napping in it. There are a lot of factors.

Anyway, without further ado, here are the six-week-old portraits of the chickens in my living room.

Cry Baby Walker has grown into a seriously huge chicklet. I need to get her on a scale. She is Chickenzilla.

Lenora Frigid. I love this bird. She is like the dove of peace, in chicken form. She is terrifyingly good at flying. I need to learn to clip chicken wings.

Ramona Rickettes who is obviously a speckled sussex and not a welsummer. I really wanted a welsummer, but c’est la vie. Ramona is the chillest, sweetest chicken ever, so I am forgiving her for being the wrong breed, even though I am sad to miss out on chocolatey welsummer eggs. Next time around, we are getting chocolate egg layers.

Pepper Walker!! Pepper is a really sweet, chillax’d chicken, much like Ramona. Ramona & Pepper act like BFF’s. You can always find them together, quietly plotting to steal all of the raisins/quinoa/melon/worms/peas from their frantic sisters.

Last, but never least: little Hatchet-face, who is growing feathers and gaining weight but never quite catching up with her sisters. She is looking a little scraggly this week, but our fingers are still crossed for her. I just want a happy, healthy adult hen who lays turquoise eggs. Get to it, Hatchet-face.

Outtakes from this week include close-up shots that show off the wattles and combs we are growing.




Click here for past chicken portraits! Hopefully soon we will have gorgeous shots of our finished coop to share! In the meantime, buck-buck-buck-ba-gock!

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the chickens & their props

It’s hard to tell exactly how big the chickens are in a photo with nothing for comparison, so I decided to have them each pose with props they have posed with before. They mostly cooperated.


Pepper and the swan pepper shaker, 10 days old.


At five weeks, the swan is not so interesting, although she did try to peck at it a couple times.


Cry-Baby, Babe and Paul Bunyan, 2 weeks old.


The gang at 5 weeks. Cry-Baby is our roundest little lady.


A handful of Lenora at 2 weeks old.


She’s not so easy to fit in one hand at 5 weeks.


Hatchet-Face and the apple, at 8 days old.


Still growing, 5 weeks old.


A fluffy little Ramona on our state at 10 days old.


Squatting on top of Washington, 5 weeks old.

Now if I could just finish up the coop so they can move outside! We have been weaning them off the heat lamp and they don’t seem to even need it at night anymore with this decent weather we’ve been having. We offer them new treats all the time, and being chickens they are always skeptical at first. In the last couple days they have tried watermelon and they got to finish off a strawberry a bird had taken a bite out of in the garden. The fun never stops on this little farm.

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