Friday, November 5, 2010

Backyard chickens, winter gardening, Eerei Seattle weather, rites of passage, stations of christ, multi-purpose fencing, chicken tractor

Wednesday Jimmy and I took advantage of the eerily summer-like  weather we are experiencing here in Seattle and  'winterized' the yard.  We covered  the winter vegetable beds  with netting  and the main one  with our multi-purpose  6x6x4 ft chain link fence.  The multi-purpose fencing has been great. One of my friends mothers bought it... never used it and kept it stored in her garage for close to 10 years.  She passed it on to us after a  frenzied garage cleaning.  She asked if we 'might' find a use for it.  In the 4 years we have had it, its been a chicken tractor, a greenhouse (we wrapped it in 6 mil visquine and put it over the garden bed)  containment area for visiting pets,  containment area for  integrating new chickens into the flock, a summer chicken run and now its Mr McCregors garden fence to keep  the local wild life off the spinach, lettuce and collard greens.
We trimmed back all of the bushy type things around the house including the roses and butterfly bush.  I'm not sure why they call it a bush..... cuz the thing grows about 8 feet every year.  If we didn't trim it to 2 feet every fall it would go full on Feed Me Seymour on us!  We dumped the soil from most of the patio pots into the garden beds  so the girls could scratch it all under and poo on it over the winter.  Stored all the odds and ends that get scattered about the yard during the summer. Then we repaired or patched any escape hatches in the fence the girls might use in their quest for ultimate adventure.  Then in a ritual moment that could only be called a rite of passage we opened the pen and let the girls out to free-range the back yard for the winter.  They filed out one by one silently with their heads high.  Jimmy and I pulled out the lawn chairs  and watched as they slowly promenaded to each of their favorite spots in the yard.  It was like watching the acknowledgemet of the stations of christ at an easter pageant.  They spent about 5 minutes in each area before moving on to the next.  The whole thing took about an hour before they concluded that the opening day parade was over and gleefully headed into the brussell sprout bed  for a little lunch.  For anyone considering putting in a backyard flock.....  we leave the brussell sprout bed open  because the girls eat and trim the leaves,  munch on any and all bugs, worms and snails that might eat your crop and leave the sprouts completely alone. Backyard chickens are the best addition to  a garden.   We let them free range  fall, winter and spring,  They keep the garden beds dug up, fertilized  and turned over for us.  They dig through and turn over everything in the compost pile  (this is their favorite place to play). They keep the bug population  down so far that it is hard to find a snail in our garden. They aerate and fertilize the lawn and keep the dandelions at bay.. Altogether, they are a hard working bunch of girls. And the proverbial icing on the cake?   They give us free eggs!   

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

100 year old tomatoe bisque recipe, Ida Bailey Allen, Depression Kitchen, Home grown herbs

Its just an Ida Bailey Allen kind of day.  I found this blog on 'depression kitchen'  that features Ida
I am now a follower.
Dinner tonight will be Idas Tomato Bisque with homemade foccaccia bread and a salad from the  fall garden

100 year old Tomato Bisque recipe

3 cups stewed sifted tomatoes (I'm gonna puree with the food processor)
1/2 tsp baking  soda  (to lessen the acidity)
3 cups scalded milk
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp butter

Mix baking soda into tomatoes and set aside.  Put butter and flour in a saucepan  on medium and stir til melted together. Add milk, salt and pepper and bring to a boil, stirring constantly for 5 minutes or until  milk thickens. When milk is thickened  add tomatoes and mix thoroughly. Serve immediately.

I'm going to add  a tablespoon of basil  since I went to all the effort of growing it, drying it and storing it.  Ida recommends adding a bay leaf and one slice of diced onion if you have it.  I'm going to add these three in the butter and flour and sautee' them before adding the milk.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Great Halloween, Shoreline Fire Department, Sewing, Antique train, Depression era Goverment issue manuals

Whew!... That was a lot of work!  But another successful Halloween is now behind us. The show was great, The kids were happy. The parents were happy. We were happy.  The fire department was happy.  Yes the fire department showed up and Jimmy and I thought we were in trouble cuz we had smoke and fog rolling all through the neighborhood.  No worries though... they just stopped by our house to hand out candy because they saw the group of 30 or so kids at our door. Kudos to the Shoreline Fire Department for public relations work.
We did a 'Cowboy' theme this year.  Tumbleweeds, vultures, cow skulls, dead cowboy with arrows sticking out of him and at the last minute .....  Jimmy made an Awesome locomotive train  in about 2 hours out of pvc, black visquine and a planting pot from the back yard. It rocked!  Once it got really dark the black disappeared and only the outline, fluorescent paint and back lit smoke from the smoke tower  showed so it was a rockin' ghost train! I did get some pictures... Once again the photos are not great but they will give you an idea.
Today we are back to real life. We have to tear it all down , recycle, and store the usable stuff. Then we have to stack a cord of wood in prep for the cold snowy winter the Old Farmers Almanac and the local weather guys are predicting. Then I have to clean the studio after the last minute frenzy of work and get it ready to get back in there and do  some ' fine art'.  We did all the sewing for the costumes in there and I am always surprised  at the mess sewing  makes.  I guess if I used patterns it wouldn't be so messy, but I don't.  So, it is.  Check out Jimmy's vest and my skirt. I designed and made them both. Maybe in my next blog I will talk about  all the great depression era, government issue, how to, materials my Grandmother saved for me. They might have seemed redundant in 1935 when everyone knew how to sew,can and garden... but in 2010 when basic survival skills are going the way of  dinosaur..... they are priceless!