Thursday, August 30, 2007

Pessimism, Optimism and Fate

During my time of blogging I have found it to be a fine line between not seeming as if I am "crowing" about something good OR not always pointing out bad things as if I am some hugely pessimistic person.

Pessimistic I am not-- if you knew me "in person". Though I have my fair share of bad days, and sometimes weeks and occasionally maybe a year just isn't my favorite, overall, I know that GOD has something planned for me and so there is relevancy for why things are the way they are. Whether it is for me to learn something (and I am too dumb to have seen it yet) or just gain greater skill or to teach others---there is always a "higher reason" for it all so to speak.

However as I mulled this over lately I have found that there are a few things in life that just don't fit the "GOD needed/wanted it to come out that way". This one little crux of life I would call Fate.
Now can we believe in Fate if we believe in GOD? Well, I think so. Just as I have always felt that astronomy does to a certain extent effect all of us. (I do not believe we can tell day to day happenings with it though).
Fate to me is the "thing" that occurs regularly to some of us and to give you an example I will tell you my annoying thing I am fated to have happen again and again.

My lawnmower will break.

Yes, such a dumb thing I know. One most people would not find to be an issue---and I wouldn't if I had a small lawn. But I don't--I have a large area of pasture to care for and a garden and a front and back yard, so it's very very annoying to have the mower break (over and over and over again).
Now---you are probably thinking that I am silly to bring this up but if you were to ask my poor husband---it is true. This is not my husband's fate crossing onto me either because the lawnmowers are really mine not his. Oh yes, he does repair them for me---poor man. But technically I direct and maintain all lawn care (except for weed eating because I have a bad shoulder).
No matter how often he repairs it---it will break again within the span of the next two lawn-mowings. Why I always frustratingly ask myself?? ---With more aggressive words to go along with it when it flows into times of needing (really needing) to get the mowing done.
Sometimes it's a starter, or a wire, a spring for the gas pedal (twice) or a blade or a belt (or two) or a wheel that will not come off and we have to buy a special tool to wrench the thing off to repair it. Flat after flat will still occur. Tubes will leak fluid, spark plugs will die early deaths, batteries quit (over and over) for no reason. You name it---it occurs to me. Push mowers, riding mowers, self propelled mowers---I have had and tried them all. Brand new, rebuilt and used---all of them do it to me.
During droughts it doesn't seem so problematic since nothing really grows. During rainy times---very annoying it is.
The neighbors even now realize the "deal" so to speak, and offer their mowers if my lawn gets to high. They know it's because something is wrong (again) with my mower and laugh so jokingly with me over it. I laugh with them---but inside I would like to shove my mower over a cliff---if only to get the last laugh.
This week---it's a belt. Only one day did I get to drive it after the last repair which was a bent blade---one of the few times I can say the fault was somewhat mine and not just a random happening.
Oh well.....someday maybe my fate (or luck) will change. If nothing else---I have a great excuse for being lazy and not mowing my lawn :-D

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Don't forget

With my post below about hogs---I would like to remind everyone that the
American Livestock Breeds Conservancy works very hard to help "advertise" breeds that are loosing out to modernization of farming. A very limited number of "modern" breeds are displacing many many historically valuable farm animal breeds of all species. We need to help these animal survive if only to preserve genetics that might offer something that we need someday---resistance to a species specific disease, a cure for some disease of mankind, or some other valuable trait that we don't even know about currently.
The ALBC tries to help show people that many of these breeds are still viable alternatives for our small farms. Traditional farms were small---and the animals played various roles on the farm instead of being good for only one thing. In the case of Guinea hogs----they provided meat and larger amounts of lard for both preserving and baking with. Irish Dexter cattle provided meat, milk and oxen for the Irish peasantry---who didn't have hundreds of acres of land. They were still basically surfs and the land plots they owned were small---no room or feed for one of the HUGE cows that are currently raised in dairy and beef operations.
Another good site about eating some of these rare breeds is Slow Food USA.
Their main reason for encouraging the consumption of these rare breeds is to foster interest in them. They are delicious. Way way more so than the meat we purchase in the local stores. Though not "rare" per se our Icelandic sheep are similar to many of the rare breeds listed by these two sites because our sheep are a traditional heritage breed. Long raised exactly the same way as they were 300 and 500 and even 1000 years ago. The meat...well it is to die for it is so good. Nothing I have ever purchased from the grocery store compares to it. And though we have never eaten an Irish Dexter (my rosie cow would gasp at the thought) I have heard that it too---is way way better than store meat.
So consider donating to ALBC, or buy yourself a rare breed animal---even a chicken or duck ---and raise one. Even better, support a local (or maybe not quite local) farmer and EAT one of his rare breed animals. Every little bit helps us save these precious genetics from going extinct. One day---we may be thankful we did and even if it turns out we never needed them well... it will be good eating anyways :-)

A Pig in a Poke

Notice that the title says "A pig in a poke" Know what it means?


An offering or deal that is foolishly accepted without being examined first.


'Don't buy a pig in a poke' might seem odd and archaic language. It's true that the phrase is very old, but actually it can be taken quite literally and remains good advice.

The advice being given is 'don't buy a pig until you have seen it'. This is enshrined in British commercial law as 'caveat emptor' - Latin for 'let the buyer beware'. This remains the guiding principle of commerce in many countries and, in essence, supports the view that if you buy something you take responsibility to make sure it is what you intended to buy.

A poke is a small sack or bag and is the origin of the word pocket. The word is still in use in several English-speaking countries, notably Scotland and USA. A poke is just the sort of bag that would be useful for carrying a piglet to market.

A pig that's in a poke may turn out to be no pig at all. If a merchant tried to cheat by substituting a lower value animal, the trick could be uncovered by "letting the cat out of the bag". The advice has stood the test of time and people have been repeating it for getting on for five hundred years, maybe longer. Fraser's Magazine (1858) reprinted a piece from Richard Hill's (or Hilles') Common-place Book, 1530, which gave this advice to market traders: "When ye proffer the pigge, open the poke"

Well..we too are buying our pig site unseen. Hopefully we won't get poked :-D

For a long time we have wanted to add either ossabaw island hogs or guinea hogs to our farm. About two years ago we found a breeding pair of ossabaw island hogs---but then backed out because we just weren't ready for something else to care for (and fence for). Always the thought of a rare pig/hog has tickled our mind though---a small one for our small farm. On waiting lists I have placed myself many times over but to no avail except for the occasional boar---which I do not want unless I already have a female.
Then when we went to Michigan we had dinner with some fellow Icelandic breeders: David Grote and Tom Jenson of Wisconsin. While having some good fun and fellowship David brought up the subject of how he would like to have some guinea hogs. How funny we thought!! Us too! So as Tom rolled his eyes, I laughingly went to get Francis Smith and Wendy Fast of New York (also Icelandic breeders) to show pictures of their guinea hogs to David and Tom. I figured we could live vicariously through them if they purchased some hogs---also thinking I could eventually get a female from them.
Well, when we got home the oddest thing happened---in my 5 day neglected emails there was an email informing me that Grace Ridge Farm currently had 4 guinea hogs for sale. Of course I procrastinated---there were so many things to do coming back from vacation I couldn't imagine adding ONE more animal to my farm. But finally---4 days later I emailed "by chance do you still have a female left?" and she replied----She DID. Well, obviously GOD or fate or whatever has intervened to force my hand I feel. So---a pig I am "abuying".
At first we thought we would ring her nose and run her with the sheep but after looking at my very weedy and overgrown garden---except for some spots that still have thick leaf mulch----I thought that she will make a great tiller. How much easier could it get than to have her digging up all those weedy roots and grass I can't seem to get rid of in the garden. Besides--she will add manure AND eat our table, veggie and garden scraps---yeah!
For those of you who have never ever heard of a guinea hog you can see the picture of a full grown one below. Now this is not me standing next to the pig in the picture below and hopefully Skyfire Garden Seeds will forgive me for stealing their picture to show you size of a grown guinea hog. They stay small---which makes them great for small farms.
Here is another link for many many pictures: Sullbar Farm
One thing about guinea hogs---we must sell some of the offspring for meat so that we can encourage people to keep raising them. A couple of pigs are not messy and stinky as people think. That is just a by product of confinement operations. Pigs are clean (unless their hot then they will get wet then cover their selves with "sunscreen" which is known as mud to us humans). Guinea hogs are "lard" pigs. The old fashioned style pig that was raised as much for lard as meat. Pig leaf lard makes the MOST awesome pastries ever---and is considered VERY gourmet (and better for you than the processed stuff). Maybe we may eventually even build that smoker I have always wanted. (one more Round To It to take care of hehehehehe)
My girl won't get to come home with us until the end of October--yeah I know it's a long time and a bummer. We could get her sooner but we are delivering a ram at that time in that area and will do both at the same time to save on travel expenses.
Anyways---I am excited and she will need a name. Anyone have any ideas? You can post it here as a comment or email me whichever you prefer (alandtc at Which reminds me---I am having a terrible time naming some of my sheep this year. I think I will post pictures of them with a bit of personality description soon and see if anyone can come up with a good name for my sheep. Especially the rams---they seem to be the hardest for me.

Have a good day all---think rain for me we still don't have any.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Michigan Fiber Festival

So, as I previously mentioned I would have some "special" pictures for everyone soon. Well I flubbed a bit---I do have some pictures but not as many as I would have liked to have brought back to post.
The Michigan Fiber Festival is held every year in Allegan, Michigan around the third weekend of August. We have only gone two times now but both times we use it as a mid way point to pick up sheep that we are buying for our farm. I purchased 2 ewes and a ram from Jager Icelandics, one ewe from Little Cabin Farm and another ewe from Ingleside Icelandics. I also picked up sheep for a lady in Atlanta.
In actuality our trip started with us meeting Nancy Chase (Ingleside Icelandics) in Nashville,
picking up a ram of hers and then meeting some very nice people from Wisconsin in Indianapolis to
give them the ram---basically a delivery. Unfortunately we were late meeting them ---three minor fender benders, a fire at the side of the road and a horrible storm all contributed to us being 2 and 1/2 hours late. Ack!! I hate doing that to people---but it was out of our control. They were very nice and understanding about it though---Thank you Cathy :-)
After that we camped that night in a state park in Indiana and it was just gorgeous. The weather was perfect and the bugs were doing their whole "forest chorus" thing----which I totally miss. ( We used to live surrounded by a forest and I miss it very often ) By the way---I forgot to take pictures of any of this part.
The next day--Friday--- we diddled around for a while but eventually made our way to the festival at about 3pm. Some of the Icelandic breeders had arrived and were set up and some hadn't made it yet, so we went to wander around the fair. When our sheep got there we helped get them in a pen and I took one picture of my husband watering afterwards.

Eventually most arrived and we ended up eating a little "pot luck" dinner----that fortunately did have some "pot luck" to eat. A number of us were from way way out of town so we shirked our duties of bringing a dish. The others were very gracious to share with us---and I did get ONE picture of this. I am not in it of course :-)

Saturday dawned wonderfully cool (late fall weather seeming for us---breezy, dewy and we needed a light jacket) and we got started for a busy day.
I fed and watered all the sheep and then we went off to eat breakfast. I took some pictures of downtown Allegan which is a very cute little town to stop at and even spend a night if you ever go through that way. It's not large, so a week worth of things to do might be hard to find unless you were there for something specific---but it is very cute and clean. The people are pleasant and friendly---which makes the stay enjoyable just because of that. By the way---you can tell by the picture that the weather was wonderful that day.

Later that afternoon---I showed some of the sheep for Jager Icelandics. Of course, Barb kept giving me the polled sheep---which don't have the handy dandy handles on top of their head to control them with. Some people halter break their sheep---but not everyone does so they can be a bit of a pill sometimes. Little ballerinas doing high jumps on the end of a "string". Then they will throw their selves down into the flooring and roll in it as they have a fit about being held still and cover the very fleece they are being judged on in wood chips. Baaad sheep.

Unfortunately none of my victims, err....sheep, placed at all. Though I think the judge thought my handling technique was good (which it wasn't) since she chatted to me a bit (a no no) and I placed right on the other side of the ribbon every time. However---a good time was had by all and there were lots of sheep to see. We got to talk with friends not seen for a year, made new friends and saw lots of fiber related STUFF.
I even broke down and bought some yarn---a rarity for me. I am a very very good person about not buying on whim---but I did like this yarn and since it is boucle, it is out of my skill range to produce. I will post a picture of it when I start the project. I think I will make something for my mother's upcoming 60th birthday with it.

Anyways---we had a great time. Made it back safely and now have sheep in our quarantine area. My new ram is wonderfully built (I had to shear him to figure it out though) and my new ewes all seem to be somewhat friendly and curious. Overall---good purchases. I will post pictures of them another day.

More pictures from Michigan Fiber Festival

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

And a new blog

Here's a blog from someone that I have done business with and emailed with regularly since we both started with sheep. Not only does Nancy have sheep but she also has some beautiful horses too. She located a bit more "up North" than I am---she's in Virginia :-) Ahhh.. beautiful Virginia. Love those mountains.
Anyways, Nancy is a great writer and her style is extremely interesting. I have encouraged her to write children's books but she hasn't taken me up on it.
Lately she and her husband have been having some farm problems and I think a few encouraging words would probably help her out.

Losing our Shirts, Keeping the Farm
-- is the name of her blog site.

Check it out if you have some time.

The Bad AND the Good

Well, if you have read my blog at all over time you know that I am absolutely against the "little things" that smack of government monitoring.
As most have probably heard the rules for passports have changed and ALL travelers leaving the U.S (or entering it) need to now have one. Of course we can all see how that could potentially lead to abuse with the wrong power structure in place. And it is our responsibility in a Democracy to keep the little things from building into large things---which sometimes can take years and years to come to an "abusive head".

However---one golden lining that seems to have come about from the desire of the government to document all people with passports is the collection of child support.

Here is the article.

Now I will tell you a bit about myself that has to do with this situation. Not only was my mother a women who raised a child alone, but my father refused to pay child support. He told my mother he would pay it if she would not go to college. It took my mother fifteen years and the death of my grandfather to be able to "attach" onto the money my father inherited and get her fair share.

Fast forward. My daughter, who has been raised almost exclusively by my current LONG TERM husband :-D had her biological father try to avoid his "fair share" at one time. We had to take him to court to get it. In his case he did actually pay---but pretended that he made far far FAR less than he did. We had lowered it when he had a few health problems on the condition he would pay correctly when all was well again. Well, let's just say he didn't follow his end of the agreement as well as I did mine. He also let my current husband pay for plane tickets, medical and dental and many other things too. Bum. By the way---the bum worked in the family business along with all the other members of his family.
To give credit where credit is do---he did pay every month and I always knew I was lucky compared to many women who got nothing. Nada. Zippo.

As I read the article the part where they talk of the man who "borrows" $50,000 from his parents really got me. Both my own grandparents knew of my father's lack of payment AND my daughter grandparents (who are very very wealthy) also knew. Neither set did one thing to help. They didn't "disown" their sons, nor did they offer a bit of financial help their selves.
Now I decided long ago that if my son (or daughter) did that to their children---not only would I not speak to them until they corrected the situation but I also would not allow them to be in my will. I would also do what I could to help. Just the simple fact of buying school & summer clothing and shoes makes a huge impact on the ability of the family to function on lower amounts of money. Helping with dental and medical care also helps immensely.
WHY does society allow men (and some women though men are the majority) get away with this? We as neighbors, friends, family, bosses and co workers should tell these people that we won't tolerate this. These are CHILDREN we are speaking of----humans who do not have the ability to change their situation. I ask you that the next time you hear of this type of situation that you say or do something to show that you don't agree with this. I know it's "socially hard" to speak out. I also know that men talk about it all the time---"locker room talk" so to speak. So, the next time you hear this kind of chatter----say something to these dead beats please. They deserve an ear full. Bums.

Everyone have a great rest of the week. I will be taking some special pictures over the next few days and look forward to showing them to you. It will be about a week though so here's to GOOD WEATHER for all during that time :-D Rain rain rain rain for me!!!! Please?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Some great cartoons

Sorry if this offends some people---but I don't think you would be checking out my blog if it did considering some of the things I say.

Hope you think they are as funny as I do. Unfortunately they have a "air of truth" to them. There are a couple pages worth of the cartoons---Have fun!

SmallMeadow Farm -- registered Icelandic sheep

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Sustainable yarn purchase

Yes, as the title says: I purchased yarn today. Why?-- when I have BAGS and BAGS of fiber to be turned into yarn? Because my new spinning wheel is broke :-( Boo Hoo.
Alas after my long long wait to get my new majacraft suzie and then a glorious two weeks of the easiest spinning I had ever done, a glitch occurred. First I thought it was the new fiber flyer I received that day in the mail. I had never used this attachment before so of course that was my first thought. However, days later when it looked like I was stair climbing just to make the wheel turn----we realized it was more than the new flyer. After many pictures, calls, and emails (and much insinuation that I didn't quite understand their instructions on how to adjust the crankshaft or oil it) I am being mailed a new crankshaft which is what we finally settled on as the culprit. Mine MUST be the one in a million that was bad. Or at least that is what I hope since so many positive things are said about Majacraft. So---over two months after having ordered and paid for my wheel--- I have been able to spin a total of two weeks. Bummer.
Anyways--while I wait to be able to spin the bags of fiber sitting in my downstairs room---I ordered some yarn to knit the new sweater I would like to make. In actuality it is a cardigan called the "Minimalist" and shown here at Interweave Knits (just scroll down the page) and here. I am a serious cardigan/extra shirt wearing person since I am frequently cold. Even though I live in the South were it is hot and humid---I keep my house a comfortable 77 degrees (I know---most people would faint ) and so therefore I am cold in most public places. Sweaters that easily come on and off are a must. This one is particularly nice since it has a somewhat summery look and 3/4 sleeves.
Anyways---I wanted to also point out the web site that I purchased my yarn at. The owners name is Heather and she is trying to stick with sustainable/ organic/ fair trade style yarns. Please check out her site (and her new blog) at Granola Yarn.
And just so you know I ordered the "Socially Conscious" yarn that is a 70% merino 30% angora blend in Ancient Fern. I asked Heather to send me a sample of the other colors since I am sure I will make this sweater in another color if I like the wool or maybe I might use some of my Icelandic lamb fleece from this year. No matter what I use next time, the brown seemed like a good all around starter color for the first sweater---- but of course I will need to venture into something just a bit brighter for the second one ;-) Deep burgundy maybe---or a blue/green to dye my white Icelandic lamb fleeces would be nice too. So many colors---and so few things to put them on.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A bit of Stormy Wether

Well the rubber band didn't kill him :-) and this guy is now officially a wether---or as we sometimes say: an IT--neither male or female. I happened to get this picture of him the other day after he was sheared. He looked kind of cute laying there all comfy and cool now. (We are extremely HUMID lately---so thick you could cut it with a knife)
Long ago this little guy acquired the name "Stormy"--- since his life has been just that. His mother didn't do well for us this year from heat we thought---but now we wonder if from a genetic issue (not for sure). Any how---he didn't grow well because of his dam's problem, his twin brother died, then his mom was culled, then he came close to being culled too---over all quite the stormy life. So, I have to admit---I was kind of surprised to see the name fit him even more after he was sheared. His gray undercoat does give him a cloudy sky kind of appearance. Luckily---his personality is not that at all and he should make a fine companion for the ram's and lone sheep that need a friend to "sleep over" with them. He may even become a mascot of sorts to take to fiber fairs for "show and tell".
So though it's kind of silly he will forever be known to us as "Stormy the Wether" but hopefully the rest of his life will be full of sunshine :-D (cause if not he will be culled!)

NAIS---more action STILL required

I received this in my email today. Please read it and do as you feel you need to with the information. Though we MAY be making head way---we still have a ways to go. By the way---if ever you think NAIS may not be that big of a deal, find someone who blogs that raises animals in England and ask them about what it's like with their program there. You might find yourself un pleasantly surprised.

From Liberty Ark.

ACTION ALERT: Write your local newspaper about NAIS and the GAO report

On Friday afternoon, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its long-awaited report on NAIS. Although GAO was critical of USDA’s implementation of NAIS, the report was a disappointment. The GAO appeared to start with the assumption that NAIS would be an effective means of addressing animal diseases, something for which there is NO evidence at all! You can read the report at

Several news outlets have done stories about the GAO report, so now is a great time to get the press to pay attention to our side of the story! A good way to do that is with a letter to the editor. If you can get a letter in within a few days, they are much more likely to print it. Below is a sample letter. Use it, or write your own. Keep the letter short, to the point, and clear. It is helpful to mention specific Congressmen’s or Senators’ names in your letters, to get their attention!

As always, if you have any questions, contact us at


Dear Editor,

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report highly critical of the USDA's proposed National Animal Identification System (NAIS). The report can be found on the internet at: The GAO report faults the government’s failure to effectively implement the program, and noted the lack of a cost analysis despite the federal government having spent over $100 million already. Yet this only begins to scratch the surface of the problems with NAIS. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has failed to provide any evidence that the program will actually help control disease outbreaks, so there are no clear benefits to off-set the as-yet-unknown costs. Will NAIS actually provide any benefits over our existing systems? Should our limited resources be spent electronically tracking every livestock and poultry animal in the country, rather than inspecting imported foods from China or enforcing border controls to keep sick animals out of the country? What about the intangible costs in time, inconvenience, and loss of privacy for the millions of Americans who own animals as pets or for hobbies, as well as farmers and ranchers? Also, why will confined animal feeding operations (CAFO's) have less strict rules than local hobby or small farmers who are just raising a few animals for their selves? Considering that, unfortunately, a majority of our food still comes from CAFO's this should be a huge concern and smacks of favoritism to large corporations. Neither Congress nor the USDA have even attempted to answer these questions.

I urge everyone to ask Senator Harkin and Senator Chambliss to hold oversight hearings in the Senate Agriculture Committee to look into the full scope of the problems with NAIS. Non-government sources, such as the Liberty Ark Coalition ( have compiled significant evidence of the problems with NAIS.

Thanks everyone

Thursday, August 2, 2007

New web site

Here is a new Homesteading web site you might want to check out.
Thanks Phelan for the heads up on it!

Ideas for Eggs

Ever had chickens? How about ducks or geese or quail even? Not sure what to do with all those eggs? Well, either was I. And though I have scads of cookbooks---all with recipes for eggs---I decided to try out these two new cookbooks written expressly for those of us with too many eggs.

The first one EGGS by Micheal Roux I received very recently and haven't really done more than cook one recipe. It has nice little information pieces about eggs (everything from hens to ostrich) and tips and hints on getting more professional results. All very nice reading---though not too lengthy for a cookbook (I mean who wants a novel when it's really a cookbook right?) The recipes range from the simple, like how to do an excellent scrambled egg to the sublime: hard cooked egg and smoked eel on ciabatta.
O.k---so maybe I won't try the smoked eel sandwich, but there are dozens of other recipes that stretch my ideas of how to deal with all my eggs. The author breaks the book into categories of: boiled eggs, poached eggs, fried, scrambled, baked, omelets, souffles, crepes, pastries and pasta, custards/creams & mousses, ice creams, meringues/sponges and sauces & dressings. Some recipes are "basic" but there are others that require some slightly more gourmet ingredients, time or tools. Lots and lots to choose from in this book, its really all about stretching your ideas of how to eat an egg.

The second book is The Farmstead Egg Cookbook by Terry Golson. I have actually used this book a number of times but I will warn you that it is very...familiar. It's a small book, and though it hits the range of appetizer to dessert it doesn't have the number of recipes the first book does. Most of the recipes are the type that I have come across frequently in my lifetime ---but a few of them were new to me. A couple of the recipes struck me with the "ahhh...I forgot about that---I haven't had that in a long time" thought. In actuality---I like this book as much as the first just because it is simple and most everything is something that I am comfortable with and that is easy to find in my neck of the woods. However---I can truthfully say I like having both. One to jog my memory and give me dishes that will appeal to a vast array of my friends and family and the other to stretch my imagination and my taste buds, while teaching me a bit more than I knew before.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

And a tomato picture

Though I don't remember what variety the tomato on the left is (I took the picture a while ago) The tomato on the right is a pink accordian---and yes, I do like it. Not only is the "texture" interesting and draws attention but the acid balance is nice. It has a strong tangy tomato flavor---which I prefer to milder sweeter tomatoes.

We are not getting as many tomatoes as I would like since the birds are beating us to them. Next year I will either: net the tomatoes (which is kind of a pain to untangle in the fall) or try a trick they use in apple orchards. I have red plastic globes that are to be covered in tangle trap for when the apples are flowering and starting out to catch and kill coddling moths. Next year---by the time the tomatoes even start to first form---we won't need them any longer on the apple trees. I figure if we put them out in the tomato "bushes" the birds will see them and come to peck and eat them. However---they will be hard. So maybe by the time the tomatoes really do ripen the birds will assume they are just hard red things not worth their time.
Tricky aye? :-D


Back in February I posted about some of the artichokes that I had started from seed.
I only had a few more than the original 9 sprout---about 12 all together if I remember correctly---from the 30ish or so seeds I planted. I had planted two varieties: violetta and green globe. Of those I only had one violetta ever sprout, all the rest of the plants are green globe. Since it is somewhat late in the year to start and ready artichokes now for winter---I will wait until next season to try for more. Maybe even another variety or two.
Yes, we are now getting artichokes from one plant only and they are delicious. I don't know why yet, the others are holding out---but I gave them some kelp last night and maybe in the next few weeks they may grace me with some buds. IF I ever get more than two or 3 at a time---I will preserve them in oil (see the bottom of the post for a recipe).
Anyway--I was going to update with some information about the artichokes that I have learned along the way.

One: yes they do seem able to make it and recover from hard frosts like the one of Easter weekend this year. The plants in wall o waters recovered fastest, those covered by a clear "juicy juice" brand plastic jug (bottom cut off) were second fastest and received minimal leaf burn. Those under leaves only where burned back---but recovered none the less and are indistinguishable from the others.

two: they use and need capacious amounts of water. Of all the ways they could die---lack of water has come closest to taking out a few. I finally bought them their own soaker hose earlier in the season and was very regular in watering them during the drought. Now that we are getting regular rain again they are doing fine without my help.

three: in my area they seem to be pest free so far. Now I am not saying that they might not next year or so but we haven't so much as seen a nibbled edge---even by the hungry bunnies invading our garden (the frost and drought has made the wildlife pressure on the garden very intense this year---we are loosing alot to the wildlife).

Here are some pictures and the recipe. Also in the leaf only picture you can see the different shape of the violetta leaf compared to the much more serrated globe leaves.

Ingredients for a one litre jar

1 kg (2.2 lb.) artichokes
500 ml (2 cups) extra virgin olive oil
150 ml (generous half cup) dry white wine
100 ml (6 tbsp.) white vinegar
10 g (2 tsp.) fine salt
5 g (1/6 oz.) coriander
Juice of half a lemon
1 fresh bay leaf
1 clove of garlic
1 Espelette chili
1 tsp. sugar


1. Turn the artichokes using a small paring knife (they want you to remove tough outer leaves, quarter and remove any choke);
2. In a stainless-steel saucepan, bring the vinegar, salt, coriander, bay leaf, chili, crushed garlic, sugar and lemon juice to a boil over high heat.
3. Place the artichokes in this marinade for 10 minutes.
4. Drain, cool and pack into a sterilized jar.
5. Fill with olive oil and seal tightly.
6. Can be eaten as an hors-d'oeuvre, or with a mesclun salad.