Saturday, June 19, 2010

Strange strange skies

A week or so ago, we residents of south central Wisconsin we're treated to some very unusual skies.  After the torrential rains, we received a beautiful double rainbow.  I was in the shower at the time and my wife was yelling like a mad-woman for me to come and look, so I hurried out, shivering in a towel, to go stand on the roof and take a panoramic shot.

As the sun crept over the hill to the west, the colors turned into the deepest orange I think I've ever seen.  It certainly was very strange, very beautiful.  

One of the really weird things was the persistence of the rainbow even as the sun got dimmer and dimmer.  There wasn't enough light to really capture the unusual quality of the sky, but here is one that attempts to do so.  And no, those are not orbs from the spirit realm, unfortunately .. only raindrops that got caught when the flash went off.  :)  

Midnight Farmer

As some of you may know, my lovely wife has taken to working in the green house at night.  It is a peaceful place to have a glass of wine and work on the garden.  At night, the dome looks a little unearthly, illuminating the yard and casting shadows from within, where tomato plants reach for the sky.

Inside the doorway, the view is reminiscent of someone's living room!  The hanging wicker lamp came with the house (with tons of other crap!) ten years previous, which along with the wooden flower beds gives a certain homey-ness to the place.  It's a homey-spaceship-looking thing!  :)

Propagating strawberries.  We are multiplying the number of strawberries, setting up our shots for next year.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Puffy Chicken!

Puffy Chicken. I have named this bird because of her odd behavior of puffing up her feathers, which makes her look a bit like a turkey. It's quite hilarious.

We had to boot Puffy Chicken from the general population and put her out into the yard, away from the laying boxes. Puffy Chickens main diagnosis is a neurosis boarding on psychosis. The primary manifestations of this diagnosis appear in her obsessive practice of trying to hatch eggs that have not been fertilized.

Here we see that Puffy Chicken after being cast out into the yard snuck into the garage and in a fit of either protest or madness has launched herself atop the coop, where she is displaying an impressive puffiness.

It is not uncommon for a single hen among a group of hens without a rooster to become convinced that the eggs they are laying will hatch. Hence, the afflicted chicken will lay on the eggs - almost obsessively. Some chickens will hoard eggs. We are still wondering how Puffy Chicken gets so many eggs under her! It's weird! I think about putting in a little wireless network cam to see this in action.

You can see how she fluffs up her tail and puffs out her wings. What we've figured out is that she is agitated about not being able to go in and sit on eggs, so she is pretty much saying, "WTF?!"

Here she is getting puffier by the minute.

Something happens and she springs for the rafter in the garage where, apparently, we store a lot of junk.

It was crazy to see her doing this high wire act. Reminded me a bit of the movie Man On Wire (highly recommended).

This was right before she finally slipped and flew down, where we evacuated her from the garage and back into the yard.

Katie thinks the origin of Puffy Chicken's disease stems from an evening where, somehow, she didn't make it in to the coop at night. That evening something got her. It was last winter shortly after a snow. There we're no animal prints to or from the place where Puffy was attacked, so we think it was most likely an owl. I do remember hearing an owl at night around this time. ANYwho, Jason (our future vet) nursed Puffy's wounds. It was after this event that Puffy Chicken actually became Puffy Chicken. Somehow, the trauma of the event fired the right sparks in Puffy's little brain to make her who she is today.

The problem is that Puffy tends to crack and egg or two. There are consistent pecks in one (and typically only one) of the eggs that she is laying on. The eggs are still edible, as the inner membrane is never breached. But we can't sell them or store the ones that get pecked.

Lastly, it appears that we have another hen that is beginning to behave like Puffy Chicken. Not puffy, but with the obsessive nesting. The idea floating around the house is that this will most likely end up providing the perfect opportunity for Jason to learn how to butcher a chicken. Sorry.

June 6th, 2010

I really want to clean this space up this season. Last year, our then-roommate, Matt, made a little fire pit and we've had fun evenings around it. This cool rock and tree is nearby, but infested with poison ivy! As I get done with the bigger projects, I'll peck at this one and eventually put in some sort of shade garden.

Ye Olde Composte Pit

We cleared brush, put down a layer of mulched grass and cardboard and setup the A-frame for these melon plants.

Here is a better shot of the melons.

Raspberries are getting going, too. I REALLY want to take advantage of all the wild raspberries that are everywhere. There are tons of them, but they are crowded by sumac, wild grapes and other things that I don't know what they are. :\

Here is a pretty something that I don't know what it is. It's gorgeous though and they are all over the place right now growing wild.


Here is that prize 'mater. Comes up high then my mid belly right now!

Our grapes, strung up with care.

Last year I plugged a bunch of logs with shitake spawn plugs. I kinda neglected the logs as other activities got in the way. Buuut it looks like the shitake is alive and well! I'm going to put these down stairs in a nice cool and dark place where they can mature.

Here is a neet one I found! Looks like an Amanita judging by the flecks on it's cap. But this cap is shaped more like a shaggy mane, although I know this isn't a shaggy mane. Hmm. I'll have to check the field guide.

Chick mushroom.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day weekend, 2010 - but first, a curiosity

It's a beautiful day! It's the first of June and I have the day off.

But, before I get into the latest happenings, I would like to share a curious photo. We recently found our camera that has been missing for a few month and in going through old photos we stumbled upon a picture of a frozen egg. Over the winter, one has to get the eggs before they freeze!

The strawberries that we planted from bare root early this Spring are taking off. At this point our plants are sending out shoots that want to turn into new strawberry plants. We are experimenting with rooting them out and propagating our strawberries. In soil, this would happen on it's own, but since all of our strawberries are in baskets, we will have to propagate or simply snip the shoots so that the mother plant produces.

This is exciting; our grapes are starting to get big! The one on the right we we're suspicious of. It got going late, but not it's looking great. By the next post, these vines will be hanging from the wires and will have little fruits.

Inside the green house, the bedded plants are taking off. The tomatoes in particular are getting very large, coming up to my waste and with very thick trunks. I am confident that we will have nice tomatoes by the months end.

This is the largest of our green house tomato plants. We already are stringing up huge branches!

In the front yard we have expanded. We've cut the area into small, manageable beds that with cardboard / straw mulching to walk in and keep down weeds.

In the back-side, we made large beds with paths in between. The tomato plant that didn't stay in the dome are out here. Notice that the tomato plants are kinda here and there with other things in between. Keeping distance between tomato plants seems to be key in lowering transmission rates of blights and molds, which kill our tomatoes last season.

A tiny little parsley ... aww!

Look! A baby-mater!

This is one of the beds that has lettuce and kale that made it through the winter. The greens are great on salads. The kale is good sauteed with garlic and in soups.

The final frontier ... this is the last section of garden to be planted. Then I'm off to get other things done.

Phalaris Erundinacea.