Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Elderberry, here's a sign..

 Only am getting a few moments back at the house and trying to get done as much as possible! The last few days have been blustery, cold, windy.. cabin fever set in about 10 minutes after the rain began. The wind has been sending patio furniture flying, eradicated any chance to catch up on laundry, and making for some very misbehaved poultry.

 I may need a sign soon, if only to warn the drivers as they go down the road..

 "caution! Assless chaps and nude chick(ens)"

 Maybe a series of signs..

 "Slow chickens"
 "seriously, they aren't very bright"

 The guineas have handed many a rooster their tail when confined in the coop for more than 6 seconds past when "they" think they should be out. Hence the "assless" chaps. 

 Guineas get first dibs on everything, regardless if they like it or not. Apples, corn, and the occasional Sprite melon have been on the daily afternoon menu. I cut the apples up and throw them everywhere so everyone gets some. The guineas like it best when I hold a piece, so they can peck at it. Some days they have good aim, some days it is like wearing Lady Gaga's meat dress around a pack of wolves.

 I'd probably be less fond of them if they didn't come racing out to me every time I go outside. My minions... they are greedy, feathered, flighty and feeble minded.. and really darn cute. Up close, guineas remind me of Dr. Suess.. and a horror flick at the same time.

 Anyhow... elderberry is well into their season. I'm trying to grab up what I can, mainly to plant them later. The seeds can take up to 2 years to germinate. 

 The berries can be dried for use later in teas and such. Personally, I like them in jam best. Back when I could consume sweets.. we used to make a syrup from elderberry and black caps. It is lovely over pancakes... or mixed into 7-up or Sprite. Often we'd have cottage cheese with sliced canned pears and drizzled with the berry syrup.. or doused over ice cream. Oh man... I miss sugar.

 If you dry the berries, the seeds can be stored for over a decade. Elderberry usually start producing at about 3 to 4 years of age. The fruit sets on first year wood. It is an understory shrub, but one that exists more often along the edge of a forest, or even along streams. They can handle full on sun, but appreciate a bit of shade. 

 They are a shrub that defies juglone producers.. like black walnut. There are several cultivars.. and a native red elderberry (do not eat this one..) that is not edible. Most of the dark fruited wild ones seem related to European strains in this area of the Midwest. 

 While not a very long living shrub, the fruits are fairly rich in antioxidants. They have a history of several medicinal uses, but I like them for their taste. They were one of the things we would snack on as kids as we romped around outside.

 Hoping to get some more time soon. Hope you all are doing well.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Today at the farm.. err.. garden... area-like-type-setting

If you've seen the commercial.. you'll get this..
Oh man... I coulda got a falcon!

    I've pulled the last of the purple tomatillos. Many don't realize that how purple they get depends on sun exposure on the fruit. You can get them to further ripen to a lovely gem colored shade by lining them up on a window sill for a little while.
  Tomatillos are one of those plants where you need several of them for proper pollination. I pulled all of the seeds of course as these had a great flavor and were nicely sour. It is iffy as to my germination rate for a first year here as the pollinators took awhile to work them.

 Elderberry harvest has been weak at best so far. I have a scant few after the chickens found one of the few shrubs, and the wild birds feasted on the others along the woods. The shrubs are getting nailed by some sort of borer, many of them are quickly dying. The few berries I have will be planted.

 Trying to go out to pick the berries is a challenge, as the birds love to follow me. I had to call in a furry reinforcement.
  He's a good dog and I'm lucky that he's so well tempered. 

 This roo here.. a bird of every color.. Ozzy.. not the best mannered. 
  He has a look alike.. Gonzo.. so named because the down near his tail is white and it makes him look like a puppet that has been loved to the point where the stuffing is coming out. He's also a butthead like Ozzy.

 Speaking of which.. the sun is down and I have to race back to the farm. Trying to find some computer time between painting the neighbor's house, replacing the other computer's power supply, juggling 2 bids on our house... you know how it is.. when it rains, it pours.

 I hope all of you are doing well and am wishing you all better times.

slow realizations

 Rant and tirade warning

 I know, I know... I seriously need to ignore facebook, the news, etc. and just let sleeping dogs lie... BUT....  I just can't seem to shake this until I vent.

 It is a reemerging trend in the US to have a garden, and in tandem many find that animals, quite rightly so, work well into that layout. Common stuff as that whole concept has been around since.. oh... civilization and the domestication of animals. It used to be a lot more common in cities, and still is in many other countries, as well as in rural locations. 

 A butcher was once a "good" job begetting the respect it deserves. Not a job suitable for everyone, a butcher was not only able to dispatch of an animal, but as well skillfully able to utilize as much as possible. 

 Again.. not a job just anyone can do. If it was left to my sister.. everyone would be vegan as she used to faint at the sight of someone/ something else's blood. Out cold.... TIMBERRRR!!!!! As kids, my next younger sister and I found it hilarious. Just be amazed my fainting sister somehow avoided needing a helmet to survive to adulthood. If you've ever had the joys of fainting goats, you wouldn't judge me on this.. it was beyond hilarious.

 We always had a ton of animals.. and when any moved on, there was sadness. In Germany, several of the "pets" we snuggled with and fed treats to, ended up on the dinner table. I probably wouldn't have eaten it, at the age of 6, if I knew that was the bunny I was playing with earlier.

 I guess my point is... I get the perspective of the vegan as they rant about the care of animals. I however.. outgrew that stage when I was a vegetarian (after watching PETA videos 20+ years ago) and vegan. Humans are omnivores. If they want to eat meat, that too is only natural. That's a choice. Not to mention, but I will anyways cause I can... it takes a lot of CRAP to grow those veggies!!

 If you chose to raise your own meat, and slaughter it.. the whole kit and caboodle so to speak.. that too is a choice. Some bring their animals in to have them "processed".. some are do it yourselfers...  As well, I get that there is a learning curve with raising livestock. Vets, farmers, etc. as well have attained their knowledge by means of situational learning moments. I've had birds before, just not chickens. New species, new issues, new methods.. I get it.

 This is what I don't get.. those who are trying to be the Swiss Miss urban dairy.. yet can't seem to keep control of their animals as they inbreed, can't figure out common diseases, still haven't figured out when you don't screw around and take the poor creatures to a vet. However... they want to be the poster children for urban farming, tout themselves as "farmers" and all of that other silly trend crap.

 To be blunt.. I don't get how they try to make a point of it being a good thing to raise what you eat when they gloss over, or completely ignore, the basics like.. conformation, animal husbandry, or hell.. how to fricken kill the creature... yet no qualms about calling others names as they botch the job.

 I agree with "reading up" before getting a creature. It is always a good thing to have the fundamentals down before jumping in, and if you can help someone else so you get hands on training.. even better.

 Somethings I think are rather obviously common sense.. especially as a female and mother myself. Things like...not every "stud" is the right father, not every female should be bred (Mr. Bean and Janet Reno..  need I say more?) The dam needs to go through pregnancy and deliver before lactation begins. (A huge DUH.. from the local 4-H) A newborn needs protection from the elements, feeding is essential.. just as a perfectly healthy human baby does. 

 It is that lack of thought that I see as a rather big negative when you are pushing for mini yaks in suburbia. More effort seems placed in the making of various cheeses than knowing what to look for in an animal, or heaven forbid.. vetting an animal before buying it.

 Chickens admittedly.. you can't vet ahead of time. That also would be why I went through the trouble of going to a specific hatchery, got to look over their stock, etc. before buying. Chickens sadly are extremely cheap.. and in general are treated with as much regard as a spork. 

 Still, I find it rather amazing (and not in a good way), that there is more research into what kitchen utensil they acquired, as they argue the point of how wonderful backyard yaking is in their plastic covered pallet yak shack, than proper care or management efforts. 

 Then.. you get the ones that tout things like how farmers should use rainwater and solar panels so they could afford to buy their land vs renting it.   *blink*  Exsqueeze me?!? Reality check time, as I of course could not stop myself for actually laughing at this ninny...
    That would be called a cistern. Yes, it has been done for a long time.. more often than not that water was used for consumption of people and livestock. If you would stop for a minute and think about the logistics of watering say.. a 15 acre field..  The cistern would need to be massive. As farms are on WELL water in the agricultural belt.. they pull from streams, make/ pull from ponds, as well the water here is underground vs snowpack melt of mountain areas.

 Renting land is nothing new. Various loans, barter, crop share, etc.. you name it.. has been in practice for a long long long time. Serfdom baby.

 Stock poor. Most of the finances are tied up in equipment that costs more than a hybrid or two.. per piece. There is a reason why the Amish farmers are doing well.. and why conventional farmers hedge their luck with crop insurance. Overhead.

 I agree that backyard gardening can make a huge impact on a family's groceries if done right. Done wrong.. and an example would be my next younger sister.. you figured out you just paid a couple THOUSAND per tomato. Not kidding... also for another post on follies of instant gratification gardens.

 Remember the movie "Children of the corn"? Maybe even the last episode I think it was of the X files... the cornfields in particular...  See a change between those and what is growing now? There are no "cornrows".. the plantings are so close you can't walk through a field. Now realize they are pushing for double yields in the next 40 years. I seriously wonder how they will achieve that.

 That is a huge problem logistically. Some are starting to see it.. a few buy local.. it is still a trickle. Water will be a huge problem.. as I said before the agriculture belt sits in an area where they use a lot of underground water. It takes 20 years for the crap that is spread on to the fields to reach the water table. It will take at least another 20 to stop what is currently used this year to filter down.. and only recently are we finding out just what made it's way.

 Water will be a bigger issue than food to start. Food will be right on it's heels.. as will fuel, sulfur, and a laundry list of other amendments currently mined from the earth.

 So yeah.. I am all for backyard gardens. I just suppose I also want common sense. While some of it is a trend, times don't look to be getting any easier anytime soon. Out here anything under 100 acres is a garden. That works for me. Overalls are not required to tout oneself as a gardener. Gardening is seen as a different animal altogether by the farmers, and a respectable one at that.

 I know there is a lot yet I need to learn, and that current times has made a lot of these ventures a slow transition back into common knowledge out of necessity. Interesting times call for interesting changes. 

 Time is not working for me at the moment, as the sun has set. I don't mean to offend.. these are just things I have been pondering. I'm all for providing for yourself as much as you can.. I seriously hope that more do the same. I also really wish I had a moment to read this over before posting.. so I may add more as I think this through. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fall chores with pesky poultry

 Forget what the calendar says, fall is here. The fields of soy and corns are awash in shades of gold, and the occasional leaf flutters off the tree. Nights and early morning it is cold enough to see your breath, but thankfully no frost yet!

 The neighbor's granddaughter cuts the lawn at the small farm whenever it needs to be done. It's been her summer job for the last 5 years. This is the first year with the birds, and with the busy schedule of a 16 year old, we never know when she's showing up. The grass got long, and went to seed.. the birds happily snacking on the seeds. They go at it much like one goes at a straw pulled out of a milkshake, sliding their mouth along it. When she showed up late in the afternoon, the gang of course were all outside romping around. 

 At first the sound and sight of her flying across the yard was enough to send them racing towards the coop. I tossed out scratch hoping to lure the stragglers into the pen. It's not even a pen.. or a cage..  all those imply some sort of restraint.. and almost every one of the birds is able to escape. It is more a suggestion of where I'd like them to hang for awhile. No problems until the guineas decided she was too close to their hang out spot. Keet Richard, the lone dark guinea, had had enough and was going to chase her off. He charged, she stopped, she inched forward, he inched forward, she stopped. This went on for 10 minutes before I did the only thing I could do.. I ran in to the house and made a sign.

  Guineas = 50 points
 Roosters = 25 points
 Hens =  -10 points
 Followed by a big smiley face. 

 She laughed, waived her arms and Keet Richard lost his nerve. He ran back into the shrubs. She's had Guineas, but she's rather impressed at how confident these little buggers are.  She finished up quickly, and as she headed off to the next zone, Keet and the other Guinea boys charged out. In their minds, they chased her off. Keet's macho level was now at a new high. 6 birds all sharing 1 mind means something is always happening.

 I've given up trying to get the birds to sleep on the roosts at night. Each evening brings what my husband calls the "cluck shuffle" as they figure out where they want to sleep in the coop. Others have birds that pick their sleeping place and keep rather consistent. Mine.. don't. Ever. Alliances alter everyday, pecking order redefined. Last night's second stringer is tonight's upper roost dweller. Then.. there are the non-conformists that have taken to the nest boxes. The nestboxes are 15 inches cubed.. rather roomy. For 1 it is spacious, for 2 it is comfortable, 3 makes it a bit cozy.. but these knuckleheads have managed to squish 5 into the prime top 2 boxes that I have dubbed Boardwalk and Park Place. 

 Guineas sparring do something called "necking".. and if you've ever caught the "Gladiators" tv show long ago.. the part where the contestant faces off a "gladiator".. on a balancing beam, armed with what looks like industrial sized Qtips .. you have a good idea what necking looks like. A bit Rock 'em Sock 'em robots.. but with giraffes. They apply these skills each night on the chickens they deem are in their sleeping spot. Kate, the white male guinea, is particularly adept at up-ending usurping sleep spotters. Sticking his head and neck out under the tail area of said chicken, a quick nudge upwards and the problem is now fluttering about in the shavings below. A lateral game of "king of the mountain".. and true to current day contests.. no actual winner.

 There's a group of barred rocks that tend to sort of stick together. I can really only make out a few of the who's who by their coloring. I refer to them as the BUB's.. Bottoms Up Bunch. They can be found at any point, fluffy side up as they hunt for anything edible. The BUB's have taken to a new approach on things, therefore have deconstructed the compost pile. Much like their "pen".. this is now a "suggested compost area" that they gleefully fluff up and relocate daily. They are a busy lot and always on the move. I get stuck raking the lawn every time it gets mowed.. with guineas voicing their displeasure over the metal rake (to which I agree.. raking sucks!) and by the time I get done making piles, the BUB's have scattered the piles apart. 

 I should have known better. You know how things go when you have a huge list of things that need to get done today.. and yet not enough time to do it all.. so you multitask. I was in full blown multitask mode. I hoped straw in the nest boxes would make them less roomy. Maybe convince a few non-conformists to rethink their stance... maybe drop a few pegs.  At my 5'7" height, Boardwalk and Park Place are a challenge to clean out without a rain poncho. Wheelbarrow full, I was unloading in the suggested composting area when I heard the dog, who was moments ago sleeping by the coop, bark and then race off. (The dog hangs with the birds and will sneak out of the fenced backyard to sun himself near the coop. We think he dug a hole out somewhere in the raspberry patch..) I ran to check.. and he had a cat cornered in the mulberry tree. These feral barn cats are the biggest predators of chickens around here, hawks a distant second. I called the dog back, he ignored me until I used the magic I-mean-it phrase that overrides his rottweiler selective hearing... "Want a cookie?"  This distraction gave the BUB's just enough time to explode the bale of straw all around the coop. Butts up and fancy free they were having a ball scratching and kicking straw everywhere. The tractor gone.. the others wandered out from under the coop and joined the fray.

 Standard day I guess. Almost get 1 thing done and 2 more things get on the list. Crossed off my bucket list is adding fodder to some potentially interesting small town gossip.

 Courtesy of the guineas.

 Almost every morning I make oatmeal (right now cinnamon apple oatmeal), scrambled eggs with chives.. toast. Nothing too exciting (unless you are a chicken.. they go insane for oatmeal leftovers.) Simple pre-coffee question.. "hon, have you seen the scissors? I need to cut chives."

 "You are so like your mother."

 Ok.. to any guys reading this...in general, that phrase is a one way ticket to Lonelytown. My husband and I are pretty snarky in the sense of humor department, a quality we both adore in the other. That sentence is the death knell to your sex life.. or rather the interlude to a series of leaps through flaming hoops of fire before you even think you are getting out of hot water. Just a heads up there.

 We were joking as always. Hence I told him to start looking for a girlfriend.. and he quipped "Don't threaten me with a good time."

 I grabbed the closest thing to fend off the cold.. which was a thick fluffy pink bathrobe, safety scissors from the craft drawer and braved the elements fearlessly. I was looking gorgeous. Rocking a hairstyle that screamed... "Yes.. I went to bed with wet hair!" part CarrotTop part "Kate plus 8" meets flobee.. camoflage colored clogs.. I was owning the mid-life crisis hangover look.. less the hangover. 

 Just the time you don't want to see a construction crew working on the street in front of the house. Grab chives, run inside.. I'm sure they can't see me that well.  Time to employ my suburban housewife ninja skillz.

 Like when you are a little kid.. and cover your eyes, you think other people can't see you. As I didn't have my glasses on.. I was really hoping they couldn't see me. 

 "doot-dah-dooo doot-dah-doo" 

 The shrubs shook as the guineas were scoping out new turf under the spirea hedges. A big red dump truck was crawling up the road to the crew. I'm trying to slink around the front porch to get to the chive patch.. then the dump truck pulls into the driveway. The guinea alert sounds.. all 6 pop out of the shrubs, lined up, heads stretched out.. egos inflated to super size. They were headed right at the truck at a run.


 I had to head them off. I am now quite positive the whole crew could get an eyeful of my radiant beauty as I ran down the drive. I got in front of the birds (now 30 feet from the truck) I throw up my arms, bright purple safety scissors still in my grasp. The birds were unphased.. jazz hands did not move them, they could still see the truck. Like a subway flasher.. I threw open my robe and scared the crap out of them. (The birds that is.. and yes.. I was clothed.. still scary ) Changing a birds' mind sometimes must be done manually. They ran back to the coop, I got the chives and went indoors. The truck unmoved, the whole crew now watched me.

 I chopped the chives up quick and tossed it into the eggs. My husband asks me "Why is there an "I heart BINGO" patch on the back of the bathrobe?" 


Monday, September 12, 2011

Jury duty.

 Like a well oiled machine.. stuck in reverse. When I lived in CO, I got summoned for jury duty at least once a year. Some years I would get many summons. 

 I find it hilarious and yet annoying that they summoned me again.. and mailed it to IL.

 It was in my neighbor's mail. We only just saw him today (he's an older chap and dealing with health issues that has him frequently at the doctor's.) I am expected to appear next week. 

 Here's to hoping they read the email in time, as I do not qualify... and one can not call it in or speak to anyone regarding this. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

wild grapes, zucchini seeds, Chinese mantis

 Wild grapes are in season right now. I wandered out and grabbed up a few pounds.
  They are significantly smaller, tend to ripen at varying stages.. and are sour. Like with many wild fruits, the seeds are significantly larger with less flesh. These are lovely when mixed with other fruit in juices and jams. While munching on them off the vine is fun, the seeds can be daunting, rather like when bits of popcorn get stuck in the back of your throat. The chickens were snaking on them as well, often jumping up like Michael Jordan with incredible "air time" to snag a few treats. 
 There are several species native to North America. With wild genetics, each one is a bit different than it's neighbor. Even if you are not pleased with the grapes these natives provide, the vines do offer more. Grafting is an option. Many are not aware that wild strains of grapes from North America saved many vineyards in Europe. Our wild types are resistant to a disease that was ravaging European cultivars. 
 If you are interested in grafting, this is a helpful link. 
 I was surprised by this massive guardian of the garden.

See her? A Chinese mantid. 4 inches my foot.. she's over 6 from her head to the end of her body.

  A beneficial invasive, imported for bug control over 100 years ago. We have a couple of these wandering about. You can see the Japanese beetle damage to the vines. Minimal damage compared to the vines that were not patrolled by my feathered friends. 

 I've pulled my first zucchini for seed saving this year. You have to let the fruit get fully ripe.. which a ripe zucchini has a hard shell and is yellow.

 This is Ronde de Nice, a small round French heirloom strain. These are great for stuffing. I like a few of these.. and let them hang out until close to Halloween. The seeds benefit from some storage time of the fruit. I'll carve a few out, save the seeds ( and roast the extras).. to be small jack-o-lanterns. 
 These are cucurbita pepo.. and many "summer" squash are as well. That means they will cross with many other garden favorites. I controlled cross pollination by picking the male flowers of the other c. pepo that were soon to bloom. They became dinner. 
 Same drying method as others. Clean off the seeds, dry them well (will snap in half when bent). They can last a decade and better in proper storage and still maintain decent viability.

 Ok.. have to run! Best to you all!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Apple in my eye

 Having sort of caught up with our "to do" list, and by sort of I mean ignoring much of it, we took a day off.. kinda. About when we settled our plans to hunt for mushrooms and enjoy a picnic, DV (our survivalist neighbor) popped over for a visit. He was tinkering in his stable of machinery (and it is a stable with every tool made to do anything and darn near everything) when he decided to mess around with one of his back-up to the back-up to the back-up cars.  He was bored and wanted to know when I wanted to do some canning.

 Plans.. totally changed. Next thing I know I am rounding up jars, lids, a pitcher of tomato sauce and big pot of chicken stock.. then racing to the garden to grab up beans. Yahoo! My husband was coming with which was an even bigger bonus. 

 Getting to DV's is not easy. To walk there we can take the shortcut.. but that is passable only with a truck or ATV. The containers were very full.. and ignoring the plastic wrap as they sloshed about. I had to hold both at the same time to minimize spillage. The car entry is less challenging, much further away, and about as smooth as the sea in a perfect storm.

 Only a half mile left of his drive to go and I had to request my husband to stop the car. He was laughing. I was apparently giving myself a pep talk.. aka muttering in discomfort. DV commented how he heard me "making a god-awful noise" down by the "crik".  He was standing at the front door with a beer for my husband. They get along too well. 

 His old trusty "National" pressure cooker on the stove, jars, a pot of water simmering, a crock of salt, and the funnel all at the ready. Everything loaded into the jars and popped into the pressure canner, the man is fast. He showed my husband the model, the weight on top that jiggled when it was at the right pressure, things to look for, the seal, the various styles...

 "And don't forget.. you need a splash of vinegar in the water so you don't have that limestone build up."

 My husband.. was getting into canning!

 My husband.... was getting into CANNING! Questions abounded, and yet another beer as we waited. DV was pulling his various canners off his wall and going through the features. Then he went on about canning on a woodstove.. the one he has indoors and the outdoor cooker... my husband listening intently. 

 The time was up, the stove shut off and DV asked if we wanted some apples. 3 ancient trees had a decent load this year, but they are wild types. The apples are small, slightly larger than a golf ball to twice that size at most. Tart, sweet and juicy, they will be great to work with in various ways. So we picked apples and of course DV found the reason to use large equipment. He pulled out the tractor, we hopped into the bucket and picked like crazy. It was so much fun!

 Conservatively.. I have 50 pounds of apples. We have yet to hike the back field to see if that lone stand of trees has any to offer. The other neighbor across the way offered to us their apples too. Good thing DV has a lot of canners. I'll be visiting him again soon to tackle the applesauce... once I find a good food mill. I have no desire or drive to peel itty bitty apples! I already have the start to apple cider vinegar, which will take a month to make.

 Hen-of-the-woods mushrooms are out right now. Still no puffballs. Hen-of-the-woods can VERY well. They hold their texture, and are very mild flavored. Tossing them in with other dishes and they seem to absorb the flavor of sauces wonderfully. You find them out here under old old oak trees. DV found 2 massive clusters 3 years ago.. and he's still got a lot of jars of them left even though he shares them a lot too. 

 I have to get the applesauce done before the hen-of-the-woods are in full swing! My husband.. now a canning enthusiast.. realized my pressure cookers were left behind. He took off right after breakfast yesterday to get a food mill. (I'm looking to get the Oxo Good Grips food mill.. anyone have any input on a good mill? I need it for not only tomato sauces, but processing black caps, wild grapes, mulberries and applesauce. Tiny seeds in those berries.) A train was derailed blocking the way to the bridge over the Mississippi. It took the poor guy a whole day to track a mill down.. and it is the wrong one. (Holes too big, no varying screen sizes, etc.) He also got sucked into hunting pressure cookers.

 Small town thrift stores suck. In CO.. the Denver and Aurora thrift stores were great. If you need a pressure cooker or a food mill.. and actually a ton of other things.. they are a good place to check out. We got 2 new pressure cookers.. still in their boxes.. intact and unused for less than $5 total. Big Lots was also a place where I got many Mason quart and pint jars for cheap.

 Apple pie filling is something else I want to jar up. Not sliced apples, but rather apple chunks. 

 Anyways.. right now I am researching food mills, grabbing up my apple recipes, loading up the flour and sugar to do some massive baking at the small farm kitchen.  

 I'm also checking out the Resident landowner's hunting licenses. Picking beans last night I looked up and 2 huge liquidy eyes and big ears were peeking through the fence at me. A fawn, still dappled and curious watched me from not 15 feet away. I don't think I could "off" something that damned cute. It's twin ran up and jumped on it.. and they raced around the field sparring. The mom was near the chicken coop grazing.. with a bunch of chickens attempting to figure the situation out.

 I'd better get a move on. I hope you all are doing well. I'll try to get pics soon of what's going on.. and if you like garlic and shallots.. tis the season to be getting a bed ready for them!